Top 5 Friday – November 4

1. ISU gets nuclear reactor simulator to train students in real-world scenarios

By Kalama Hines,, October 27, 2022

Installed in August, the small modular nuclear reactor simulator allows ISU to train operators and technicians in real-world circumstances.

“There are more jobs available than there are graduates across the industry,” she said.

The simulator control room is built to specs provided by NuScale Power, an Oregon-based nuclear power generator site. In it, students run a generator simulation that puts them in real-world circumstances based on the actual operations at NuScale.

2. Always wrong, sometimes useful: 5 Tips for understanding the value and limitations of decarbonization models

By Leslie Abrahams and McKenna Montgomery, Clean Air Task Force, November 2, 2022

Models provide a concrete basis for policy creation, providing comparable scenarios that address the vast array of options and pathways that are on the table. Almost as importantly, models also help the climate community construct accessible narratives about possible future outcomes.  They serve as a sort of tether for all the conversations and arguments in the climate community, which is why you are likely to hear about the need to “keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius” from an advocate, an elected official, an academic, or a policy analyst.

The problem is that models are inaccurate.  

3. A thought about gas prices from Anchorage economist @KevinBerryEcon.

4. Getting more energy on the wires

Lara and Liza explore ways to expand transmission capacity. Options include:

  • Replacing steel-reinforced lines with composite-core lines to carry more energy, a process known in the industry as ​“reconductoring.”
  • High-voltage direct-current lines capable of sending lots of power across long distances, which can be run underground along existing rights of way, such as highways.
  • High-temperature superconductors, which cool wires to allow them to carry more power.
  • Line-monitoring technology that analyzes local weather, wind and other factors to detect which lines are cooler than expected, allowing grid operators to send extra power through them.
  • Improving grid studies that determine what kinds of upgrades are needed for interconnection.
  • Federal permitting reform, which could allow more new transmission to be built.

  1. What ever happened to 1.5ºC. (Spoiler: nothing good.)

The response to all this should be a dose of realism. Many activists are reluctant to admit that 1.5°C is a lost cause. But failing to do so prolongs the mistakes made in Paris, where the world’s governments adopted a Herculean goal without any plausible plan for reaching it. The delegates gathering in Egypt should be chastened by failure, not lulled by false hope. They need to be more pragmatic, and face up to some hard truths.


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