Nuclear power: yes or no?

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Base load power generation

Coal
0
No votes
Gas
0
No votes
Nuclear fission
24
52%
Nuclear fusion
8
17%
Battery storage and renewables
11
24%
Other (?)
3
7%
 
Total votes: 46

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Tjappator
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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#21 Post by Tjappator » Mon Oct 25, 2021 10:52 pm

Ofcourse Yonni, but I say do both. Scale up renewables and start building plants now, instead of building extra gas or coal plants as some countries are doing to keep up with demand (or even shutting down perfectly fine nuclear plants as octavious mentioned) :(

I would like the politicians to invest in both renewable AND nuclear, because I do not see pure renewables providing enough energy by 2040 (or 2050). Plus as you mentioned, I believe we should have some form of "guaranteed" energy production to balance the energy load across the day or across different weather when renewables can't keep up with demand.

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#22 Post by Wusti » Tue Oct 26, 2021 4:33 am

More info on the Lifted Storage systems under development

https://spectrum.ieee.org/gravity-energ ... al-in-2021

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#23 Post by taylor4 » Wed Oct 27, 2021 4:11 pm

Tidal Hydropower = Bay of Fundy, Canada east coast

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#24 Post by MajorMitchell » Wed Dec 08, 2021 5:29 am

This is an important discussion, globally, within nations and at the community level, so thank you Kestsas & other contributors to this thread which has mainly discussed this issue in an Australian context.
As a preamble, I live in South Australia and have worked as a geophysics technician, mainly hunting for Gold & Copper, and also Uranium.
In my opinion our current federal government is held hostage by the "pro~coal mining, anti~Greens" MPs within it's ranks, particularly those from Queensland.
They're also using the nuclear debate as a political weapon against the Greens and moderates imho.

I am "ambivalent", undecided as to whether Australia should or should not "go nuclear", in my opinion we have to reduce our coal mining, cut out mining lower quality coal, eg those with med~ high sulphur content. If it's a choice between mining coal or agriculture, then we favour agriculture over new coal mines, same with coal seam gas, sustainable agriculture comes first.
We have to protect our agricultural industries and dealing with greenhouse gases, pollution is essential to protect our agricultural industries and environment.

Using coal to produce electricity is a dinosaur method, it's becoming economically less attractive and will cease being economically viable as alternative "renewable energy" technologies become more cost competitive. Hydrogen is the standout example of an emerging alternative, with Solar and Wind technologies already in use and only going to expand in Australia.

Two of our wealthiest, most intelligent business leaders, Andrew "Twiggy" Forest, an iron ore mining magnate and one of the founders of Atlassian, Mike Cannon Brooks(?) are both investing huge amounts of capital into renewable energy technologies, but not nuclear.

This notion that nuclear power is environmentally clean is a myth in my opinion, the facilities require huge amounts of steel and concrete, massive energy inputs plus financial costs to build, then there's the "end of use" clean up costs both financial and environmental, plus waste storage.

Nuclear power is a genetic term, does it mean Fusion or Fission? It's assumed to mean Fission because that's the technology used because we've, to some degree, mastered that process using enriched Uranium as "fuel".

The Hydrogen Fusion enthusiasts have been promising us "it's two or three decades away" for the last five decades... so I remain sceptical on that time frame, but we will keep trying & might eventually get there. Hydrogen Fusion solves the waste products safe storage problems.

Thorium, yes I do want "to go there"!
Like most things, using enriched Thorium as a fuel in nuclear fission reactors has it's pros and cons. It's an emerging nuclear technology I believe India is the only nation that currently uses enriched Thorium as a fuel in fission reactors to produce electricity, as well as using enriched Uranium as the principal fuel in its nuclear ~electrical power generation systems.

The singular most important advantage of using enriched Thorium as a fuel in nuclear fission reactors is the difference in lower and higher order elements created, albeit in minute amounts per Gigawatt of energy produced.

However if it's the do we get Plutonium or not question, which it is, then I think it of great importance.

That's the Archilles ' heel of using enriched Uranium as a fuel in Fission reactors, it produces Plutonium, without doubt at all, the most toxic element to humanity & just about every other living organisms on this planet that exists in all the elements.
Plutonium. With an incredibly long "half life"
No evolution of Fission reactor technologies using enriched Uranium will ever prevent it occurring.

Use enriched Thorium as a fuel in nuclear Fission reactors and yes you get higher and lower over elements in minute quantities per gigawatt of energy produced, but it's a different group of elements. Thorium and Uranium produce different decay chain elements. When used in Fission reactors, they produce different higher and lower order elements, it's that simple, and in my opinion, profoundly important when it's the do we get, or not get Plutonium question, with all the consequences (known and unknown) if we choose the "we'll have the Plutonium" option.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in our Cosmos, burns "clean" producing water in gaseous state & Australia gets plenty of Solar energy per square kilometre and has millions of square kilometres to harvest Solar energy, convert it to electricity at increasingly lower cost, so it's hard to ignore the potential synergies & clearly Twiggy Forest and Atlassian billionaire Mike CB are onto the opportunities, as are others.

We're getting Nuclear powered Submarines in 20 odd years from Santa Smirko and Uncle Joe Biden & British Bulldog Boris.

Australia's Lucas's Heights Nuclear facility should in my opinion be replaced with a new nuclear research facility with better facilities for producing radioactive materials we need mainly for medical use. Lucas's Heights was not surrounded by suburb when first built, now it is, and it should be replaced in my opinion.

Underground radioactive waste storage within Australia is a problem we have to solve, we have to have our own safe storage facility. The technologies need more investment , research and development.

I think it's inevitable that Australia will build a new nuclear facility and establish an underground radioactive water storage facility this century.
What we build, how we do it, for what purposes are important issues we have to discuss, we can't ignore it or others will make choices that benefit their interests, which may, or may not align with ours.

The Australian Political Coal Industry Puppets are great fodder for my Standup comedy. I have a routine about the Balzac Institute having 3 nuclear reactors, one to run the electric fences, one for our electro ~psychotherapy chairs, beds & other electrical devices used in treatments. One for when we need to boil the kettle to make tea or do research.
I cannot confirm or deny reports that the Balzac Institute has received a few billion from the taxpayers courtesy of Matty Coala~Canavan~cancan, Barrabas Joyce, Ms Sports Rorts Bridget fidgets McKenzie, Appalling Pauline Hans~on something grubby & Slim Gadabout Chwistensenwhippengarter the member for "Far Nirth Queensland in the Philippines strip clubs" (plus numerous bouncing cheques from Clivetoad Palmer & Nathan Tinker to use to light the pilot light on the reactor if it blows out) to do research into enriching Coal by bombarding it with high energy neutrons to develop the technology for making Enriched Coal Fuel Rods for Nuclear Reactors.

Just wait until the federal election campaign really kicks off, Clean Carbon14 and Coal Seam Gas will be the mantra up in regional Queensland from Smirko's gang.
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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#25 Post by kestasjk » Mon Dec 13, 2021 8:29 pm

Wusti wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 10:06 pm
You have to be kidding right? In the Australian context there is no value at all in Nuclear. In our context it costs 3x the equivalent coal fired power generation capability, and who in their right mind thinks that the downside risks inherent in Nuclear fission are worth taking just to turn on a fucking light bulb?

Australia has the lowest population density of any significantly populated continent, and we also have the highest availability of literally every energy source, from coal and gas to Uranium (and Thorium if you want to go there), as well as vast uninhabited landscapes for wind and solar, some geothermal and tidal as well.

Nuclear may work and be justified in other countries without our unique comparative advantages - but to bring nuclear energy to Australia is utterly ridiculous far Right Wing bullshit propaganda. Nothing more. There is no argument that could ever support it here.

I'm from Sydney and live within sight of our only current nuclear reactors by the way (medical isotope production and scientific applications only). I am also good friend with some of the top ranking scientists who work there who agree with my analysis 100%.

Australia's future will be renewables, storage and hydrogen (stored as ammonia). Nuclear has zero place in it because literally every other option here is cheaper and safer.

That does not necessarily hold true for those nations without our energy riches.
I think comments like this are keeping us on coal; the idea is that renewables and storage will provide base load power any day now, and we can burn coal until then.. just a little longer. The problem is we just can't store enough power to provide base load electricity.


Here's the list of the largest battery storage power stations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_storage_power_station#Largest_grid_batteries
The largest can provide 400MW for 4 hours

Here's a list of West Australian power plants: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_Western_Australia#Coal_fired

So the largest battery storage plant in the world could stand in for 1/4th of our coal fired capacity, or 1/10th of our gas powered capacity, for 4 hours. If it cost the same per MWh as the South Australian $50M Hornsdale facility (that can do 70MW for 10 minutes and 30MW for 3 hours) then it would cost about $500M. (You can't find the actual cost of Moss Landing anywhere online.. I wonder why)


Sorry but that's just not going to cut it if you want more than token projects.. You need to figure out how to make a dent in this:
Image

That's 200GW of reliable base-load power; how do you provide any serious % of that from intermittent sources when a $50M battery can do 30MW for 3 hours?

8000MW of generation is going offline in the next 15 years; if you do the sums and actually calculate what kind of storage systems we would need and how much that would cost per person does that really seem practical?



So you say; "Ah but this new technology is going to change all that, just wait. Thorium reactors, gravity storage, quantum zero-point spring energy, carbon capture, fusion, they'll be here any day now surely.."
Unfortunately we need base load power now and it won't wait, let alone for something to go from a lab to powering the planet. If it's not available now you're just saying we should stick with coal/gas.
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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#26 Post by kestasjk » Mon Dec 13, 2021 8:47 pm

MajorMitchell wrote:
Wed Dec 08, 2021 5:29 am
This is an important discussion, globally, within nations and at the community level, so thank you Kestsas & other contributors to this thread which has mainly discussed this issue in an Australian context.
As a preamble, I live in South Australia and have worked as a geophysics technician, mainly hunting for Gold & Copper, and also Uranium.
In my opinion our current federal government is held hostage by the "pro~coal mining, anti~Greens" MPs within it's ranks, particularly those from Queensland.
They're also using the nuclear debate as a political weapon against the Greens and moderates imho.

I am "ambivalent", undecided as to whether Australia should or should not "go nuclear", in my opinion we have to reduce our coal mining, cut out mining lower quality coal, eg those with med~ high sulphur content. If it's a choice between mining coal or agriculture, then we favour agriculture over new coal mines, same with coal seam gas, sustainable agriculture comes first.
We have to protect our agricultural industries and dealing with greenhouse gases, pollution is essential to protect our agricultural industries and environment.

Using coal to produce electricity is a dinosaur method, it's becoming economically less attractive and will cease being economically viable as alternative "renewable energy" technologies become more cost competitive. Hydrogen is the standout example of an emerging alternative, with Solar and Wind technologies already in use and only going to expand in Australia.

Two of our wealthiest, most intelligent business leaders, Andrew "Twiggy" Forest, an iron ore mining magnate and one of the founders of Atlassian, Mike Cannon Brooks(?) are both investing huge amounts of capital into renewable energy technologies, but not nuclear.

This notion that nuclear power is environmentally clean is a myth in my opinion, the facilities require huge amounts of steel and concrete, massive energy inputs plus financial costs to build, then there's the "end of use" clean up costs both financial and environmental, plus waste storage.

Nuclear power is a genetic term, does it mean Fusion or Fission? It's assumed to mean Fission because that's the technology used because we've, to some degree, mastered that process using enriched Uranium as "fuel".

The Hydrogen Fusion enthusiasts have been promising us "it's two or three decades away" for the last five decades... so I remain sceptical on that time frame, but we will keep trying & might eventually get there. Hydrogen Fusion solves the waste products safe storage problems.

Thorium, yes I do want "to go there"!
Like most things, using enriched Thorium as a fuel in nuclear fission reactors has it's pros and cons. It's an emerging nuclear technology I believe India is the only nation that currently uses enriched Thorium as a fuel in fission reactors to produce electricity, as well as using enriched Uranium as the principal fuel in its nuclear ~electrical power generation systems.

The singular most important advantage of using enriched Thorium as a fuel in nuclear fission reactors is the difference in lower and higher order elements created, albeit in minute amounts per Gigawatt of energy produced.

However if it's the do we get Plutonium or not question, which it is, then I think it of great importance.

That's the Archilles ' heel of using enriched Uranium as a fuel in Fission reactors, it produces Plutonium, without doubt at all, the most toxic element to humanity & just about every other living organisms on this planet that exists in all the elements.
Plutonium. With an incredibly long "half life"
No evolution of Fission reactor technologies using enriched Uranium will ever prevent it occurring.

Use enriched Thorium as a fuel in nuclear Fission reactors and yes you get higher and lower over elements in minute quantities per gigawatt of energy produced, but it's a different group of elements. Thorium and Uranium produce different decay chain elements. When used in Fission reactors, they produce different higher and lower order elements, it's that simple, and in my opinion, profoundly important when it's the do we get, or not get Plutonium question, with all the consequences (known and unknown) if we choose the "we'll have the Plutonium" option.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in our Cosmos, burns "clean" producing water in gaseous state & Australia gets plenty of Solar energy per square kilometre and has millions of square kilometres to harvest Solar energy, convert it to electricity at increasingly lower cost, so it's hard to ignore the potential synergies & clearly Twiggy Forest and Atlassian billionaire Mike CB are onto the opportunities, as are others.

We're getting Nuclear powered Submarines in 20 odd years from Santa Smirko and Uncle Joe Biden & British Bulldog Boris.

Australia's Lucas's Heights Nuclear facility should in my opinion be replaced with a new nuclear research facility with better facilities for producing radioactive materials we need mainly for medical use. Lucas's Heights was not surrounded by suburb when first built, now it is, and it should be replaced in my opinion.

Underground radioactive waste storage within Australia is a problem we have to solve, we have to have our own safe storage facility. The technologies need more investment , research and development.

I think it's inevitable that Australia will build a new nuclear facility and establish an underground radioactive water storage facility this century.
What we build, how we do it, for what purposes are important issues we have to discuss, we can't ignore it or others will make choices that benefit their interests, which may, or may not align with ours.

The Australian Political Coal Industry Puppets are great fodder for my Standup comedy. I have a routine about the Balzac Institute having 3 nuclear reactors, one to run the electric fences, one for our electro ~psychotherapy chairs, beds & other electrical devices used in treatments. One for when we need to boil the kettle to make tea or do research.
I cannot confirm or deny reports that the Balzac Institute has received a few billion from the taxpayers courtesy of Matty Coala~Canavan~cancan, Barrabas Joyce, Ms Sports Rorts Bridget fidgets McKenzie, Appalling Pauline Hans~on something grubby & Slim Gadabout Chwistensenwhippengarter the member for "Far Nirth Queensland in the Philippines strip clubs" (plus numerous bouncing cheques from Clivetoad Palmer & Nathan Tinker to use to light the pilot light on the reactor if it blows out) to do research into enriching Coal by bombarding it with high energy neutrons to develop the technology for making Enriched Coal Fuel Rods for Nuclear Reactors.

Just wait until the federal election campaign really kicks off, Clean Carbon14 and Coal Seam Gas will be the mantra up in regional Queensland from Smirko's gang.
Agree with a lot of what you said, but the main point of my post is no matter how promising wind/solar seem they can't provide base load power when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining. Hydrogen storage, thorium, fusion, are all possibly decades away.

We can't get precious about a certain element we don't like or do like; plutonium isn't usually the focus of anti-proliferation efforts it's all about uranium, and thorium decays into a uranium isotope that could be weaponized too.
Thorium may well be 10%-20% better than uranium if we had it ready to go and fully developed, but it may well be 10%-20% worse too, and we don't have time to find out. If it wasn't for the Manhattan project and WWII there's no way we would have uranium based fission developed to the point it is; developing thorium to the same level in the private sector might take a century.

Note that here in Australia we have huge uranium reserves also, and vast stretches of outback and salt lakes to bury the tiny amounts of waste.


Definitely there is a lot of room for debate about which path you take within nuclear power, depending on your country and circumstances, but I'm always surprised that people seem to disagree about what seem to be indisputable facts that you can't run a country on intermittent power, and you can't store enough intermittent power to make it reliable with any available (or even on-the-horizon) technology.

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#27 Post by MajorMitchell » Tue Dec 14, 2021 2:23 pm

I think the estimate on thorium is Australia has about 30% of known global deposits but that was ~15 years ago. So we can choose, it's not as if Uranium is our only horse in the race.
With regard to Plutonium, it's not a matter of being precious about an element I may have affection for or not have affection for based on emotional, aesthetic or frivolous reasons. To characterise it as that is dissembling imho.
My caution regarding Plutonium is based on it's toxicity, as is my caution with cyanide.
There's few substances as lethal per kilogram as Plutonium. Nicotine is an excellent poison, a kilogram of pure Nicotine could kill a significant number of people, same for some Cyanides, yet a kilogram of Plutonium is far more dangerous than those others, potentially far more lethal over a much much longer time frame than pure Nicotine or dangerous cyanides.
As I said, I'm ambivalent, I see many reasons why nuclear fission technologies are attractive to nation states, yet I am wary of the very powerful interests who lobby for nuclear fission technologies using enriched Uranium as a fuel. Westinghouse do a most professional sales pitch but you'd be a Pollyanna like clown to regard it as unbiased and objective. This comment applies to many of the proponents for that form of nuclear power, they're acting in self interest, not national interest or global community interest and are certainly not objective and professionally disinterested.

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#28 Post by Wusti » Tue Dec 14, 2021 2:43 pm

Your problem kestasjk is that you are looking at it through a skewed prism. I specifically stated that my comments were based on the Australian circumstance.

This cookie cutter stuff is BS frankly. Each nation has its own issues with respect to energy, but I reiterate that Nuclear makes no sense for Australia.

By the way, given that Australian coal consumption is miniscule on global scales I actually say we can afford to wait. I would NOT make that same comment regarding France, the US or China - but in the Australian context with our low consumption and massive geographical spread, I'd say Coal/Gas remains a feasible option until the more "futuristic options" become reality.

My guess is that Twiggy will make a fair go of the Hydrogen thing. Ammonia is very high density storage of it and easily produced, with none of the problems of compression and transport that pure hydrogen has.

Us humans love to burn stuff, and hydrogen is odds on favourite, followed closely by pumped hydro. I agree that normal batteries aren't the answer, but pumped hydro and gravity storage (for dry climates) are very doable, and they really aren't in the sci-fi realm.

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#29 Post by MajorMitchell » Tue Dec 14, 2021 2:49 pm

I also believe you are way out with your assessment of how long it would take for enriched Thorium technologies to be developed, (possibly a century)
This is not still at abstract, theoretical stage, these technologies are in development or in use, albeit limited to India for electricity generation. Like anything it's a question of resources, yet I see it as being viable within a decade, if adequate resources were invested. The technical challenges aren't significantly more difficult than those associated with nuclear fission technologies using enriched Uranium, particularly if you compare them to the technical challenges associated with nuclear Fusion. If we're playing "picking what's a century away", then imho, nuclear fusion technologies are a century away vis a vis enriched Thorium for fission reactors

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#30 Post by MajorMitchell » Tue Dec 14, 2021 2:55 pm

Wishing, when you say our coal consumption is minuscule is that a per capita comparison or a cruder comparison that doesn't allow for differences in populations . We Australianns like to think we don't have a big environmental footprint, aren't big energy consumers because we have a relatively small population Yet on a per capita basis, baby we're right up there, gluttony personified.
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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#31 Post by Wusti » Wed Dec 15, 2021 3:27 am

MajorMitchell wrote:
Tue Dec 14, 2021 2:55 pm
Wishing, when you say our coal consumption is minuscule is that a per capita comparison or a cruder comparison that doesn't allow for differences in populations . We Australianns like to think we don't have a big environmental footprint, aren't big energy consumers because we have a relatively small population Yet on a per capita basis, baby we're right up there, gluttony personified.
In terms of global impact no one gives a flying F*** about per capita intensity, and your choice of biased description (cruder) is the only real measure of import to global climate change. On that basis we are almost incidental in overall greenhouse gas emissions.

If you are instead referring to political impacts and "role model" status, by doing what we are asking others to do -that is a different thing altogether with no realistic means of measurement. If you think China will reduce coal consumption because Australia does - you're frankly nuts. It will make us feel better though which would be nice.

I also note your continued insistence on Nuclear options without reference to pumped hydro and hydrogen - neither of which are sci-fi. Given the total capacity requirements including growth projections, Nuclear should not be an option. Hell we haven't even started on tidal power, geothermal.

Honestly why the hell this fixation? There are many options that do not create millenia scale waste products. I have yet to see a cogent argument against them.

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#32 Post by kestasjk » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:31 pm

Wusti wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 3:27 am
MajorMitchell wrote:
Tue Dec 14, 2021 2:55 pm
Wishing, when you say our coal consumption is minuscule is that a per capita comparison or a cruder comparison that doesn't allow for differences in populations . We Australianns like to think we don't have a big environmental footprint, aren't big energy consumers because we have a relatively small population Yet on a per capita basis, baby we're right up there, gluttony personified.
In terms of global impact no one gives a flying F*** about per capita intensity, and your choice of biased description (cruder) is the only real measure of import to global climate change. On that basis we are almost incidental in overall greenhouse gas emissions.

If you are instead referring to political impacts and "role model" status, by doing what we are asking others to do -that is a different thing altogether with no realistic means of measurement. If you think China will reduce coal consumption because Australia does - you're frankly nuts. It will make us feel better though which would be nice.

I also note your continued insistence on Nuclear options without reference to pumped hydro and hydrogen - neither of which are sci-fi. Given the total capacity requirements including growth projections, Nuclear should not be an option. Hell we haven't even started on tidal power, geothermal.

Honestly why the hell this fixation? There are many options that do not create millenia scale waste products. I have yet to see a cogent argument against them.
I guess my main argument against these "options" is that they aren't actually options, they're possibilities. Iceland runs off geothermal, but they live on an island volcano. Lots of countries have pumped hydro to store energy, but you can only build as much hydro as you have water and workable landscape.

You think nuclear waste storage is dangerous and pumped hydro is safe? How many people have died due to nuclear waste? How many people have died due to dam collapses? What about all the land that needs to be flooded to store an adequate amount of water? If you think building a road though wetlands is bad what about China needing to relocate 1.2 million people to make room for the three gorges dam reservoir?
We'll have to dam every river we possibly can, destroying countless ecosystems, how is that better than a small waste storage facility in a desert?


I guess if you really want us to consider these "options" then lets take Perth where I live as an example: Where are we going to contain all that pumped hydro? We've got so little water we need to desalinate, we've dammed everything we can and it's a very flat area.
Or if you prefer hydrogen; show me where it's being used for power generation, what it costs, how much renewable power it needs, how it's transported.


Meanwhile France is ~70% nuclear, Canada is 15%, US 20%, China at 5% went from 8GW in 2010 to 40GW in 2021. It's safe, available, reliable, affordable, scalable, and has no requirements on being on a thin part of the earth's crust or having huge canyons we can pump water into.
You do need somewhere to store the waste: Luckily we're the best country on the planet to store the tiny amount of nuclear waste that gets produced; we have more dry, stable, secure, uninhabitable, inaccessible land than anyone. We could be getting paid not just to export uranium for the world to use, but to take spent fuel back and store it safely for the benefit of the world.


Ultimately if you think that because we're just a small part of the global problem we don't need to do anything about climate change .. I guess we might as well just stick with coal and gas, but why even bother toying with experimental new sources? We've got an abundant coal supply, it's relatively safe (not as safe as nuclear, but this is mostly driven by mining in less developed countries), cheap, and reliable.
But you must understand that if everyone thinks that way climate change won't be solved, and the late 21st century is going to be very ugly. Hundreds of millions of people are going to get displaced around the world, and Australia isn't going to be unaffected.

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#33 Post by kestasjk » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:40 pm

MajorMitchell wrote:
Tue Dec 14, 2021 2:49 pm
I also believe you are way out with your assessment of how long it would take for enriched Thorium technologies to be developed, (possibly a century)
This is not still at abstract, theoretical stage, these technologies are in development or in use, albeit limited to India for electricity generation. Like anything it's a question of resources, yet I see it as being viable within a decade, if adequate resources were invested. The technical challenges aren't significantly more difficult than those associated with nuclear fission technologies using enriched Uranium, particularly if you compare them to the technical challenges associated with nuclear Fusion. If we're playing "picking what's a century away", then imho, nuclear fusion technologies are a century away vis a vis enriched Thorium for fission reactors
Maybe.. but we need to move away from fossil fuels now and I don't see why we would avoid going to a better power generation option because an even better option might be available in a decade or two.. We don't really have a decade or two, and there will still be plenty of fossil fuel plants to replace then.
We're at the point where we're trying to limit climate change as much as possible, it's already happening and is already going to cause major problems even in the best case scenarios, we're just trying to minimize it.

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#34 Post by kestasjk » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:47 pm

By the way I'm not angry or worried or anything .. I'll be long gone.. I'm more interested in how people justify being against nuclear power because I just can't make sense of it.

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#35 Post by Randomizer » Wed Dec 15, 2021 7:59 pm

kestasjk wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:31 pm
You think nuclear waste storage is dangerous and pumped hydro is safe? How many people have died due to nuclear waste?
Chernobyl - 31 dead (28 were within 3 months)
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/2019 ... death-toll

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#36 Post by Yonni » Wed Dec 15, 2021 11:26 pm

@MM, enriched thorium isn't a thing. Thorium also needs to be used with another fissile fuel. I agree that we should seriously consider thorium but most of the benefits require some amount of fuel reprocessing which has an associated weapons proliferation risk.
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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#37 Post by Wusti » Thu Dec 16, 2021 12:14 am

kestasjk wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:31 pm
I guess my main argument against these "options" is that they aren't actually options, they're possibilities. Iceland runs off geothermal, but they live on an island volcano. Lots of countries have pumped hydro to store energy, but you can only build as much hydro as you have water and workable landscape.

You think nuclear waste storage is dangerous and pumped hydro is safe? How many people have died due to nuclear waste? How many people have died due to dam collapses? What about all the land that needs to be flooded to store an adequate amount of water? If you think building a road though wetlands is bad what about China needing to relocate 1.2 million people to make room for the three gorges dam reservoir?
We'll have to dam every river we possibly can, destroying countless ecosystems, how is that better than a small waste storage facility in a desert?

I guess if you really want us to consider these "options" then lets take Perth where I live as an example: Where are we going to contain all that pumped hydro? We've got so little water we need to desalinate, we've dammed everything we can and it's a very flat area.
Or if you prefer hydrogen; show me where it's being used for power generation, what it costs, how much renewable power it needs, how it's transported.

Meanwhile France is ~70% nuclear, Canada is 15%, US 20%, China at 5% went from 8GW in 2010 to 40GW in 2021. It's safe, available, reliable, affordable, scalable, and has no requirements on being on a thin part of the earth's crust or having huge canyons we can pump water into.
You do need somewhere to store the waste: Luckily we're the best country on the planet to store the tiny amount of nuclear waste that gets produced; we have more dry, stable, secure, uninhabitable, inaccessible land than anyone. We could be getting paid not just to export uranium for the world to use, but to take spent fuel back and store it safely for the benefit of the world.
Maaaate. Come on. How many straw men can you pack into one post? I've said this a few times now but you seem to ignore the bits that don't fit your world view and then throw back in something I already said.

Let's start at the top:

"I guess my main argument against these "options" is that they aren't actually options, they're possibilities."

You then immediately proceed to an example of a whole nation with a renewable energy source that is never going to be a solution for the whole world - but entirely appropriate to Iceland - geothermal. You literally disproved an element of your statement in the same paragraph, including acknowledgement of actual pumped hydro - not really a possibility when it is in use is it?

"You think nuclear waste storage is dangerous and pumped hydro is safe? How many people have died due to nuclear waste? How many people have died due to dam collapses?"

This one is a doozy: I'll hazard a guess and say NONE. Dam collapses you refer to are by and large tailings dams - not Hydro generation dams - but if you can find one I'll stand corrected. As for Nuclear, well there are plenty of examples of injury and death cause directly by nuclear generation - whether you could categorise any as purely waste caused deaths I'm not sure, but its such a ridiculous comparison point that I can't be arsed researching it.

"We'll have to dam every river we possibly can, destroying countless ecosystems, how is that better than a small waste storage facility in a desert?"

That might be true if it was the only possible available means of generating power, however it isn't, and yet another over-exaggerated, ridiculous comment. The whole point of my argument is that this discussion is not all or nothing with one type of energy generation. Careful examination of energy needs on given geographies should be matched sensibly to geography specific energy resources. Its really NOT a difficult concept.

"Or if you prefer hydrogen; show me where it's being used for power generation, what it costs, how much renewable power it needs, how it's transported."

Your argument in favour of Nuclear doesn't stand up by attacking each alternative as being non-viable on its own. Seer my comments above. Energy demand and generation into the future will be flexible and based on individual geo resources and needs.

As far as Hydrogen goes, we all know the big drawbacks of pure hydrogen in terms of energy required to liquify and store, transport and dispense. To store intermittent renewables as pure hydrogen on that basis would be so inefficient with current technology as to render it non-viable. However, given the Hydrogen carrying density of Ammonia (NH3), new technologies are already being tested to produce Ammonia as the main storage and transport medium. When burnt it only produces Nitrogen and Water. This is almost certain to be the real "hydrogen based" fuel of the future as it requires a fraction of the energy to create, store and dispense, and is nowhere near as dangerous a medium as Hydrogen itself. You just wait and see what Twiggy comes up with!

"Meanwhile France is ~70% nuclear, Canada is 15%, US 20%, China at 5% went from 8GW in 2010 to 40GW in 2021. It's safe, available, reliable, affordable, scalable, and has no requirements on being on a thin part of the earth's crust or having huge canyons we can pump water into.
You do need somewhere to store the waste..."

I made this comment already - I don't make the same argument for major Western countries that do not follow our demographic and geographic characteristics, and indeed I specifically called out France, US and others as examples where Nuclear may make sense.

The context remains, energy demand within the geography mapped against available resources. My whole point is stop being proscriptive and one size fits all.

Even more importantly, lay back on the hyperbole - its diminishes your case rather than supports it.

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#38 Post by Wusti » Thu Dec 16, 2021 12:51 am

Well, bugger me if I was wrong on a couple of my statements above:

https://reneweconomy.com.au/australian- ... -hydrogen/

Aussie researchers building direct Solar to Hydrogen units at 20% efficiency for distributed micro use cases - but with potential to scale up. Amazing tech diverting solar energy directly to chemical reactions rather than electric current.

Also this https://www.ammoniaenergy.org/articles/ ... eneration/

It seems gas turbine development driven by Ammonia is further along than I thought, including the removal of Nitrogen oxide by-products via catalysts.

I also feel that I do need to declare that my own bias is generally against Nuclear in principle in case you couldn't tell. Swapping one form of environmental vandalism (Fossil fuels), which can at least use biotech to ameliorate for another that produces waste that can last for millennia seems no gain at all. A future with the smallest possible environmental impacts of the shortest possible duration, with renewal sources at the core, is what we must aim for. I think the only real issue is how long it will take to get there and the amount of damage done in the interim via current power generation technologies and mixes.

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#39 Post by kestasjk » Thu Dec 16, 2021 12:30 pm

Randomizer wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 7:59 pm
kestasjk wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:31 pm
You think nuclear waste storage is dangerous and pumped hydro is safe? How many people have died due to nuclear waste?
Chernobyl - 31 dead (28 were within 3 months)
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/2019 ... death-toll
I would say Chernobyl probably killed more than that if you include early cancer deaths, I think a few thousand is probably the most plausible estimate, but that's not really deaths due to spent fuel storage.

Whether you include those deaths or not; that was the worst nuclear accident ever, caused by a very unsafe reactor design being operated so far outside of guidelines that the operators couldn't have done a better job if they had been trying to blow the reactor up.

Compare:
  • Chernobyl, the worst nuclear accident that everyone constantly refers to and everyone knows about, with a few hundred deaths and perhaps a few thousand deaths due to premature cancer
  • The Banqiao Dam failure, the worst hydroelectric accident/dam failure which no-one ever talks about, with hundreds of thousands of deaths

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Re: Nuclear power: yes or no?

#40 Post by kestasjk » Thu Dec 16, 2021 1:05 pm

Wusti wrote:
Thu Dec 16, 2021 12:14 am
"I guess my main argument against these "options" is that they aren't actually options, they're possibilities."

You then immediately proceed to an example of a whole nation with a renewable energy source that is never going to be a solution for the whole world - but entirely appropriate to Iceland - geothermal. You literally disproved an element of your statement in the same paragraph, including acknowledgement of actual pumped hydro - not really a possibility when it is in use is it?
But .. you said you were talking about the Australian context..? Of course countries that have easy access to geothermal / abundant damable water / etc should take advantage of that; I wouldn't argue for Iceland to start using nuclear power. But you can't point to a country sitting on a volcano that's using geothermal and claim it's an option everywhere. Nuclear power is deployable anywhere and at any scale, this is why countries like France with limited alternative power generations options went for nuclear.
"You think nuclear waste storage is dangerous and pumped hydro is safe? How many people have died due to nuclear waste? How many people have died due to dam collapses?"

This one is a doozy: I'll hazard a guess and say NONE. Dam collapses you refer to are by and large tailings dams - not Hydro generation dams - but if you can find one I'll stand corrected. As for Nuclear, well there are plenty of examples of injury and death cause directly by nuclear generation - whether you could categorise any as purely waste caused deaths I'm not sure, but its such a ridiculous comparison point that I can't be arsed researching it.
I kind of appreciate you just sharing your views without researching them, because it does show how people's intuition about the dangers of nuclear vs hydro/coal etc are just so totally backwards. The single worst power generation accident EVER was a hydroelectric dam failure.
"We'll have to dam every river we possibly can, destroying countless ecosystems, how is that better than a small waste storage facility in a desert?"

That might be true if it was the only possible available means of generating power, however it isn't, and yet another over-exaggerated, ridiculous comment. The whole point of my argument is that this discussion is not all or nothing with one type of energy generation. Careful examination of energy needs on given geographies should be matched sensibly to geography specific energy resources. Its really NOT a difficult concept.
But you're saying "we shouldn't look into nuclear because there are other options, here are two". I then point out why those options are inadequate and you just point out there are still other options..
Of course we need a mix of energy supply, but if you want to claim that your sources of power can meet our base-load energy needs you need to show how.
"Or if you prefer hydrogen; show me where it's being used for power generation, what it costs, how much renewable power it needs, how it's transported."

Your argument in favour of Nuclear doesn't stand up by attacking each alternative as being non-viable on its own. Seer my comments above. Energy demand and generation into the future will be flexible and based on individual geo resources and needs.
It absolutely does stand up: If there is no viable low-carbon alternative that can provide the base load electricity we need, and we agree that we need to move to low-carbon alternatives ASAP..

You're "attacking" nuclear power, which is fine, and I'm responding to your points.. I can't say "your argument in favor of renewables doesn't stand up by attacking nuclear power"; if your arguments against nuclear power are solid then I can't claim it is an option.
As far as Hydrogen goes, we all know the big drawbacks of pure hydrogen in terms of energy required to liquify and store, transport and dispense. To store intermittent renewables as pure hydrogen on that basis would be so inefficient with current technology as to render it non-viable. However, given the Hydrogen carrying density of Ammonia (NH3), new technologies are already being tested to produce Ammonia as the main storage and transport medium. When burnt it only produces Nitrogen and Water. This is almost certain to be the real "hydrogen based" fuel of the future as it requires a fraction of the energy to create, store and dispense, and is nowhere near as dangerous a medium as Hydrogen itself. You just wait and see what Twiggy comes up with!
I hope he does, I hope fusion works out and we create limitless energy for the whole world.. but unless you can deploy it now we're just hoping, and doing irreversible damage while we do so. We need to use the best option we have available and replace the terrible option we're currently using, not wait decades for a better option to show up.
"Meanwhile France is ~70% nuclear, Canada is 15%, US 20%, China at 5% went from 8GW in 2010 to 40GW in 2021. It's safe, available, reliable, affordable, scalable, and has no requirements on being on a thin part of the earth's crust or having huge canyons we can pump water into.
You do need somewhere to store the waste..."

I made this comment already - I don't make the same argument for major Western countries that do not follow our demographic and geographic characteristics, and indeed I specifically called out France, US and others as examples where Nuclear may make sense.
Okay well I'm glad you think so.. but I don't see why it's suitable for France/US/Canada but not Australia.
The context remains, energy demand within the geography mapped against available resources. My whole point is stop being proscriptive and one size fits all.
I didn't mean to imply the world should use 100% nuclear; the more renewables we use the better. (Mainly because they're cheap)
The point of this thread is we need base load capacity that can be used anywhere coal is used now (i.e. places where hydro and geothermal aren't available or are at capacity), and renewables and storage can't provide that.
Even more importantly, lay back on the hyperbole - its diminishes your case rather than supports it.
Not sure what you mean.. what did I say that you consider hyperbole? I don't think I've exaggerated anything, and I've tried to use conservative numbers where there's uncertainty.

This is really the crux of my case, and I don't think there's any hyperbole:
  • We need reliable electricity 24/7
  • Solar and wind can only provide electricity when the sun is shining or wind is blowing
  • Battery storage cannot store enough energy to buffer solar/wind
  • Nuclear power generates a significant portion of the world's energy, it is a proven technology that can provide base load electricity
  • Nuclear power is one of the safest forms of energy generation
  • We need to replace fossil fuel power generation to reduce climate change, and the longer we delay the worse the damage will be
  • Geothermal/hydro isn't available everywhere coal plants are being used


Wusti wrote:
Thu Dec 16, 2021 12:51 am
Well, bugger me if I was wrong on a couple of my statements above:

https://reneweconomy.com.au/australian- ... -hydrogen/

Aussie researchers building direct Solar to Hydrogen units at 20% efficiency for distributed micro use cases - but with potential to scale up. Amazing tech diverting solar energy directly to chemical reactions rather than electric current.

Also this https://www.ammoniaenergy.org/articles/ ... eneration/

It seems gas turbine development driven by Ammonia is further along than I thought, including the removal of Nitrogen oxide by-products via catalysts.
Great, so why aren't we building these plants and shutting down our coal fired power stations?
I also feel that I do need to declare that my own bias is generally against Nuclear in principle in case you couldn't tell. Swapping one form of environmental vandalism (Fossil fuels), which can at least use biotech to ameliorate for another that produces waste that can last for millennia seems no gain at all. A future with the smallest possible environmental impacts of the shortest possible duration, with renewal sources at the core, is what we must aim for. I think the only real issue is how long it will take to get there and the amount of damage done in the interim via current power generation technologies and mixes.
Definitely agreed; nuclear waste is an issue and a big drawback for nuclear power, and we should try to have the least environmental impact and to be sustainable. If/when we can find a perfect power source that can scale to power the whole planet without any waste then I'm sure it will replace everything else.

But we don't have a choice between a perfect power source and nuclear; we have a choice between coal/gas and nuclear. Climate change is also going to last for millenia, but in our atmosphere instead of in an underground vault.

edit: And the difference in waste volume is immense; Australians output 16 tonnes of CO2/year per person, or about a 21x21x21m cube in volume, into the atmosphere. France outputs 2kg of nuclear waste/year per person, assuming a density of iron (the lightest possible fission decay product) that's about a 6cm cube, into the ground. (And 40% of that nuclear waste isn't even from the nuclear industry, and only 20% of that nuclear waste is long-lived)
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