Monday, July 23, 2007

Govermnent Is Investigating

Every once in a while, I read the something along the line:

"Government is investigating the use of Nuclear energy"

"Government is studying the feasibility of XYZ"

The main problem with this is that the Government is always investigating this or that, but more often than not, if you fast forward 5years later, you will find out that the investigation leads to no action.

What is even worse is that the government revisits certain issues with a new fully fledged investigation as if no previous investigation(s) took place. I call this reinventing the wheel.

In many instances plugging the new numbers into the old formulas would be sufficient. For example, let us say that wind energy was not a good idea when oil prices were in the teens of dollars, and the payback period was something like 20years. Using the new oil prices in the same old formulas would yield a payback period of say around 7.5 years. Of course, I am oversimplifying here.

But no, we need to waste tax payer's money, so we have to do a completely new study every 5 years.

Ok, I seem to have digressed a bit, so what I want to talk about is the issue of Jordan investigating Nuclear energy. I was very annoyed when I found out that Jordan is serious about this. Yes nuclear energy is nice, is environmentally friendly( if there is no Chernobyl like leakage), and in the long run is cheap to produce. But the question is, is it for Jordan?

Jordan is not the kind of country that can make huge investments in large chunks. For a country of Jordan's financial situation, it makes more sense to make a small investment of say 50-100million every year in renewable energy sources like wind energy.

Three years ago, I had to quote a 1MW wind energy converter. It was for around 380000 Euros. Using the logic from above, the government can choose to buy 1, 2, or even 100 units, in one year, and then maybe zero units in the following year and then maybe 50 in the year following that and so on and so forth.

Due to the relatively small price tag, there is a lot of flexibility in mixing and matching. Add to this the fact that the price of wind energy is going down every year and wind energy converters are becoming more efficient year over year, then you see that you will be getting more bang for your buck as time goes by.

Now with Nuclear energy, it is a one time investment, and no flexibility exists whatsoever. As for getting more bang for your buck over time, this may or may not be true. But in all likelihood the next Nuclear plant for Jordan will be installed 10-20 After the first one.

Two other things come time to mind regarding nuclear energy. It is putting one's single egg in a single basket, which would not come in handy in case Jordan ever needed to go to war. And there is also the fact that Nuclear Energy requires technical knowledge which Jordan currently lacks. I do not know about you, but it has been a while since I heard about a local nuclear scientist. And I do not want my countries' Nuclear plant to be run by some Pakistani nuclear scientist.

Since almost nothing does come out of these government investigations, instead of wasting time and money trying to invest in new energy whether it is wind or nuclear, things can be done in the here and now and with almost no cost to make use of what we currently have; government can change new building codes to require mandatory insulation(that alone saves more than 30% in cooling costs.) The government can issue a ban on incandescent lamps starting 2010. The government can pass a minimum standard for energy efficiency for industrial facilities or office buildings. It can turn itself, or Jordan as a whole green.

Speaking of the latter, two months ago, I read that Dubai was considering going green. So why not us? Why not beat them to the punch? The only thing it takes is legislative effort.
Going green does pay for itself. I can speak about this from first hand experience; my 3 compact florescent lamps and solar water heater already paid for themselves and it does show in my electricity and fuel bills .

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