Despite what some may like you to believe, the nuclear renaissance is upon us. Don’t let anyone get away with telling you otherwise — they are badly misleading you. Indeed, given that the the real-world facts are so readily available, one really does have to wonder how long these ideologues imagine they can pull the wool over the eyes of the public? Do they really care about fixing climate change?
What is happening now
The bastion of atomic energy over the next two decades will be Generation III reactors, despite the enormous medium- to long-term promise of Generation IV (as I recently explained, here). This is not idle speculation -– it is already happening in the world’s fastest-growing economies. At the time of writing this blog post, over 65 of these modern nuclear reactors are under construction (or nearly so). Twenty-three new nuclear power plants are being built in China alone, which is targeting 70 gigawatts of extra nuclear power by 2020. In addition, there are serious plans in China for two sodium-cooled fast reactors (BN-800) of the “Generation IV” design, following the completion of the first Russian unit in 2012 — the sort of reactor that some people think ‘don’t exist’.
How about this for some supporting statistics: 29 new reactors, totalling 26 gigawatts of electricity output (operating at high capacity factors without the need for energy storage/backup), will start operation in 13 different countries in the 2010 — 2012 period – that’s within the next 3 years (average reactor size is 880 MWe). Of course, this new-generation nuclear deployment rate must continue to accelerate if we’re to have any realistic chance of completely replacing fossil fuels by 2050, but it’s a great beginning!
Justifying assumptions of lifespan and capacity factors
If nuclear energy was too costly and slow to deploy, as some (such as Prof Ian Lowe in his section of the book Why vs Why: Nuclear Power), why would China, South Korea, India, Russia and other rapidly developing nations risk their precious finances on such foolhardy ventures? The answer, these governments say, is that their investment in nuclear power is both prudent and timely, and so they are willing to put their money where their mouths are. This is reality and trumps the hand-wringing concerns of disengaged critics.
With regard to the economics of new nuclear power, Prof Lowe argues (in the Why vs Why book) that my estimates of the economics of nuclear power are “unrealistic” and represent nothing more than “wishful thinking on a grand scale”. He says this is because I assume that a nuclear power station will last for 60 years and deliver power 90 per cent of the time. Let me allay his concerns with some examples from real-world experience.
For the period 2006 to 2008, the 104 reactors operating in the United States reported an energy availability factor of 91.4 per cent. In Korea, Finland and Switzerland, it was 91.9, 93.3 and 92.8 per cent, respectively. Even the Chinese, who are still accumulating experience in optimal operations, reached 86.6 per cent. Furthermore, while the reactors built in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s had a nominal design lifetime of 40 years, more than 60 of them have since been granted licence renewals, extending their operating lives out to 60 years. Others are expected to apply for similar extensions. This is actual performance data, not speculation.
Current construction costs
As I explained above, nuclear power is being most actively pursued today in China (23 reactors currently under construction), India (4), South Korea (6) and Russia (8), and in terms of forward projections through to 2020, China plans to expand its nuclear generation capacity to 70 GW (up from 8.6 GW in 2010), South Korea to 27.3 GW (up from 17.7 GW), and Russia from 43.3 GW (up from 23.2 GW). Looking further ahead, India’s stated goal is 63 GW by 2032 and 500 GW by 2060, whilst China’s 2030 target is 200 GW, with at least 750 GW by 2050. These nations are heavily focused on rapidly overcoming first-of-a-kind (FOAK) costs and establishing standardised designs based around modular construction and passive safety principles. By contrast, the country with the most installed nuclear power – the United States, with over 100 commercial reactors – has announced loan guarantees to support new plants, but has not yet started construction of any Generation III reactors.
It is therefore in the rapidly developing Asian countries that current real-world costs can be most reliably established. The two leading reactor designs now being built in China are the indigenous CPR-1000 and the Westinghouse AP-1000. Reported capital costs are in the range of $1,296 to $1,790/kW. Korea has focused attention on its APR-1400 design, with domestic overnight costs of $2,333/kW. A recent contract for $20.4 billion has been signed with Korean consortium KEPCO to build four APR-1400 reactors in the United Arab Emirates, at a turnkey cost of $3,643/kW. This price is notable considering that it is offered under near-FOAK conditions, because these will be the UAE’s first nuclear plants.
Alternatives are not stacking up
Prof Lowe touts a crystal-ball-gazing exercise by some Stanford University researchers as offering a pathway to a renewable energy solution. I have critiqued that study heavily elsewhere , but the bottom line is this:
If non-hydro renewable energy were truly as cost-effective and could be built on the scale these authors would like you to believe, why has no nation yet followed this energy pathway?
Denmark has done the most in this respect, with 18 per cent of its average energy coming from wind power. Yet, despite this investment in non-hydro renewables, the carbon intensity for electricity production in Denmark is 650 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour. By contrast, the figure for France, which draws 77 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power, is 90 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour. This is more than 7 times lower than Denmark, per unit of delivered electricity. This is the stark reality, not the spin.
Yet again, real-world experience says far more about energy truths than any ivory tower speculation. Importantly, this is an energy truth that is actually great news for carbon emissions reduction and our pursuit of a sustainable society. It’s now urgent that this message to be understood by the classic environmental movement.
Allow me to quote the conclusion of my recent book:
It’s time to embrace nuclear energy as a core technology in the carbon-free revolution that the world needs to address climate change.
Many environmentalists believe the best low-carbon solution is for governments to guide us back to simpler, less energy-consuming lives, a vastly less consumer-oriented world. That is unrealistic. The world will continue to need energy, and lots of it. But fossil fuels are not a viable option. Nor are renewables the main answer. There is no single solution, or “silver bullet”, for solving the energy and climate crises, but there are bullets, and they’re made of uranium and thorium, the fuels needed for nuclear plants.
It is advanced nuclear power that provides the technological key to unlocking the awesome potential of these energy metals for the benefit humankind and for the long-term sustainability of our society and the environment on planet Earth.
264 replies on “The 21st century nuclear renaissance is starting – good news for the climate”
It is really hard to get research funds for advanced nuclear reactors in the US. We enthusiasts have indeed been reduced to “tinkering” and “skunk works” activities. For example, my university was seeking a modest $20 million to build a scaled up Sub-Critical Nuclear Reactor following the successful testing of the first prototype 8 years ago. No luck so far!
gallopingcamel – I would not use the word ‘forced’ so much as the life spans of German nuclear plants were set artificially low in the first place. But yes, plans made by the previous government there to shut the plats were put on hold due to the failure of renewables to meet projections.
JohnP – With all due respect the work being done in Europe on the grid amounts to regular planed upgrades, no matter what the spin being placed on it. The degree of sophistication required for a transcontinental active grid incorporating distributed variable generation is several orders of magnitude beyond anything that is currently being considered or built.
‘The sun is always shining and the wind is always blowing somewhere’ conceit of wind and solar fails to take into account just how much of a load can be born by that part of the system producing at any given time. If the whole grid needs to load into say 20% of the nameplate capacity at once, it really doesn’t mater how good the interconnects are. Ultimately fossil fuel will have to be burned, or storage will have to be available to cover the shortfall. no matter how you work it out.
Modern technology, modern industry, modern societies cannot run with an electrical supply with the sort of reliability common in Third-World pestholes, with brown-outs and blackouts a common affair. Backup would be mandatory, no matter how large the geographical catchment is wind and solar.
At any rate you are about the only renewable supporter I have run into that doesn’t assume the need for good storage. The others take it as a given
What a great piece by Monbiot.! The guy can flat out write and his TV persona is pretty good too.
There is a delicious irony as only a year ago he was the darling of the Joe Romm and Tim Lambert. Apparently he encountered some kind of epiphany as a result of Climategate and is fast becoming a pariah among his former friends.
Imagine a love fest between Monbiot and Delingpole!
DV82XL, on 24 June 2010 at 0.07 — Well, right here (as well as elsewhere) research goes forward on so-called smart grid technologies. Furthermore, there is a sizable grant in place to develop distance learning courses for power company EEs and plant operators having to face the task of integrating substantial portions of wind power. Nobody locally finds any of this insurmountable although I am sure some form of learning curve will produce a few unpleasant surprises as the amont of wind power ramps up.
Transnational? No big deal. The Western Power Grid includes at least Alberta, the western US and a portion of northern Mexico. Has for many, many years.
By the way, it looks that the prospects for a new NPP northwest of Boise ID are indeed going to go forth. But since they’ll have to deal with NRC, don’t hold your breath.
I believe you are mistaken, GC. In my recollection, Monbiot was rejected by the mainstream green movement earlier because of his advocacy of nuclear power as a climate change mitigation strategy. It had nothing to do with the so-called climategate matter.
David B. Benson – you are manifesting one of the most hypocritical positions that I regularly run into debating with renewable supporters: you seem to have great faith in undeveloped, untested ideas that are decades away from possible deployment, (if they indeed work) but seem to imply that nuclear energy will be standing still.
Right now, right this moment there are Gen III+ designs, that have been field-proven, with several working examples that could be built in large numbers at a very respectable pace. There is no waiting for research, there is no need to rewire whole continents, if there was any political will at all, we could start poring concrete within six months. But we don’t.
The reason is that there is a large powerful lobby in the form of the fossil fuel industry that will do anything they can to impede the growth of nuclear energy. On of the tools that they use is to get their puppets in government to back these Rube Goldberg schemes and lie outright to the public that these will make a significant difference to the GHG issue. These are outright lies.
You don’t know me from Adam, and I could have written anything about my background in my profile page, so I do not expect anyone to take this on my say-so. Take a real hard look at what is being promised, and what the current state-of-the-art is in both nuclear and renewables, and if you take a few hours to study the timelines involved in the history of technology, from concept to commercialization. You will see which of these has the possibility of saving our skins, and which one is pie-in-the-sky.
I have yet to run into anyone, that has some technical background, and does not have some sort of financial interest in the renewable sector, that doesn’t believe what I wrote above. I have however been lectured by English teachers, restaurant owners, and social services agents, on the evils of nuclear pwer, and how renewables are the wave of the future.
They are wrong about renewables, you are wrong about renewables – they are never ever going to be anything but a distraction, and the only reason some of these projects will be built is to provide a green fig-leaf for gas and coal. There is no ‘opinion’ here there is only physics, and it will ALWAYS bat last. Do yourself a favour and study the fundamentals carefully from the ground up. You will change your mind.
DV82XL, on 24 June 2010 at 8.30 — You obviously completely misunderstand what I write. I don’t think it is that hard to comprehend.
I just reported some facts in my latest. Jeez.
I already know the fundamentals: thermodynamics and Kirchoff’s laws. The actual power enginning issues are in the form of controlability in the face of uncertainty, hence the need for proper statictics. Those used to just include generation and trasmissiion “random” failures part due to earthquakes and extreme wind events. Adding intermittent generators just imposes some additional control requirements, readily solved with modern computers and communications. There are some interesting computer algorithms required which at least two faculty here are working on.
Numerous studies indicate that up to about 1/4 penitration by wind/solar works fine with the remaining 3/4 being dispatchable. Very large smart grids might possibly have more at the cost of considerably more transmission lines.
Whether that is the most economic way to build or expand a grid depends upon the region, as best as I can make out. What is eventually (almost surely) going to happen in this region is about 20% wind with the rest the already installed hydro and (for decades to come) the rest run by natgas plus a tiny bit of tidal and wood burning. That’s if we can shut down the 4–5 coal burners which supply this region.
I’d be perfectly happy to see somebody start building NPPs at Hanford, an ideal site. But tthat isn’t likely to occur until the bad taste of the WPPS failure grows dim in decision makers minds.
Got it now?
David B. Benson – Renewable energy on the grid is never a good idea. You don’t seem to understand this one simple fact. It doesn’t matter if the local population doesn’t like it, it doesn’t matter how many thing renewables are a good idea, they just are not because they do not deliver what they promise, and have not anywhere in the world where they have tried.
You have bought into a fantasy that will not work and people like you are only delaying the time when we can get ourselves of of fossil fuels. I’ve given it my best shot, I obviously can’t convince you. I won’t waste anymore of your time.
DV82XL, on 24 June 2010 at 9.14 — Here we have a group of power professors widely acknowleged to be the best in the West (Western US, that is). They are engineerings working closely with two computer science professors. Their task is a typical engineering one: here are the components and their capabilities and limitations; here are the system requirements; make it work.
They see no obstacles up to about 1/4 penitration, the same figure others studying the matter find, even for regions without the advantage of significant hydro that we have here.
In case I didn’t mention it earlier, I’m not making a claim that this is the most economic route or “best” by any metric other than being both politically and financially feasible. But as I previously commented, southern Idaho is going to have a brand-new NPP a few years down the road. Too bad, IMO, we won’t have a few in the region for a long time to come.
Itdoesn’t ma/tter what the qualifications of a bunch of engineers and scientists are. If they’re pursuing a Rube Goldberg philosophy, they will reach a Rube Goldberg outcome, and it will be inferior to the more logical approach. As DV82XL says, this whole renewables/smart grid scam is just a cover for the continued burning of fossil fuels, and those who support it are knowingly or unknowingly standing in the way of the real solution. It is the moral duty of all who reach this understanding to speak against the ‘renewables’ scam at every opportunity, and in the strongest of terms, even, (or perhaps especially) if they have previously been ‘renewables’ supporters.
” As DV82XL says, this whole renewables/smart grid scam is just a cover for the continued burning of fossil fuels, and those who support it are knowingly or unknowingly standing in the way of the real solution. It is the moral duty of all who reach this understanding to speak against the ‘renewables’ scam at every opportunity, and in the strongest of terms, even, (or perhaps especially) if they have previously been ‘renewables’ supporters. ”
Well, I think that DV82Xl and you should get your head out of your respective asses, it is long overdue ….
new NPP costs 13 cents per produced kWh (if privately funded, given that investors want a 10% return on investments).
Read underneath what Kenya pays for his green geothermal energy, without wastes other than a bit of steam. Yeah, it’s 50% lower than NPP.
What is that deafening silence from the NPP freaks ?????
– click link to read
” Numerous studies indicate that up to about 1/4 penetration by wind/solar works fine with the remaining 3/4 being dispatchable. Very large smart grids might possibly have more at the cost of considerably more transmission lines. ”
I apologize to again put a cut and paste, but this allows me to grow the ongoing interesting debate without spending too much time typing. Hope you understand this. This is also my last posting for today, I have other things to do. Have a nice day. regards.
– click link to read
Finrod, on 24 June 2010 at 9.45 — When you learn about the just-grewed nature of power grids, evrywhere, you’ll finally realize they are all, every one, Rube Goldbergs.
Amazing the d****d things wrok at all, much less as realiably as they do.
Thge fact remains that every grid can accomodate some negative load, i.e., unschedulable intermittent generators. The larger the portion the harder it becomes; consider Denmark backed up by Norway’s hydro.
But I opine they ought to start building NPPs now…
“new NPP costs 13 cents per produced kWh (if privately funded, given that investors want a 10% return on investments).
Read underneath what Kenya pays for his green geothermal energy, without wastes other than a bit of steam. Yeah, it’s 50% lower than NPP.
What is that deafening silence from the NPP freaks ?????”
13 cents/KW.h is less than I currently pay here in Canberra., and, pertinently, not every population centre in the world is sited next to a volcano or other convenient geothermal site.
It is known that some regions of the world have access to abundant renewable energy in the form of hydro or geothermal. It’s also well understood by most people that these places are rare. We’re looking for solutions for everyone here. Cheap geothermal power in some places does not make wind and solar cheap or reliable, no matter the illogical claims of green fascists like Crazy Al.
Fully amortized NPPs in the US can produce power at a cost of less than 2 cents/KW.h.
Well, for the ones still stating that the renewable energy path is a scam, I hope with my numerous postings to have shown it is possible to get there, if we continue to invest in it, be it in developing countries or in already mature economies. One thing is certain : we will need massive amounts of new energy supply in the coming decades.
I logged in on this site in 2000-ish. Stating just the same as here up : that RE is the solution to our energy and environmental pollution issues. I got laughed at, when I said that NPP’s are only good for base load production, and aren’t well suited to do peak demand following. NPP were the only solution for long term energy supply issues, they were cheap and provided energy on demand. Please look at what the site has to offer. You will understand that you are a joke. Global wind turbine capacity in the year 2000 ? 5000 MW. Spain wind turbine capacity ? A few hundred megawatts. China wind turbine capacity : zero. My own home was using fossil and nuclear electricity supplied by the grid. I had no other choice, there was nothing else available. Country regulations wouldn’t allow me to install solar PV panels on my home, unless I disconnected my home from the grid. I couldn’t afford PV panels, way too expensive back then. Heat pumps were also a very expensive proposition. Micro combined heat and power generation was still in development, no commercial applications available. Cars were all ICE based, burning oil derivates, not achieving more than 30mpg average in mixed use.
The same arguments were used then as now : it would cost a fortune to get this RE off the ground, and it would be financial suicide for private persons to try to get there on their own, it was a giant scam. Only NPP’s would be able to supply electricity too cheap to meter, and this was the only option available to lift the billions of poor people out of their misery. I then left the site, I could provide any real life examples to sustain my views against yours.
In the past decade, we had a monster economic crash in 2001, when the twin towers collapsed in New York, taking the global economy with it down the drain for at least 2 years. We had a big war in Dumbistan and one even bigger and costly in Shiite country, costing $ Trillions to the involved governments, with zero return on investment, unless you count the economic benefit of spending that amount on the military industrial complex employing millions of people back home, all voting to the one promising the most and that would allow them to keep their jobs . . .
Fast forward to today, 2010.
China is now the third biggest economic block at a $ 6 trillion GDP per year, next to the USA and the European Union, who are tied at $ 15 trillion each. In 15 years, China will be bigger than the USA or EU. Today, the combined BRIC country economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are already bigger than the USA or EU each taken apart.
There is now 158 000 MW in installed wind turbine capacity globally, Spain has 20 000 MW, China 35 000 MW. China will try to get to a 150 000 MW wind park by 2020, while Europe will try to add 100 000 MW on it’s 75 000MW that is already available and operational.
Geothermal and biomass + biogas CHP are all being deployed in 0.1, 0.5, 1, 5, 10, 50 to 100 MW power systems increments all over the globe, and located near users or near the fuel sources.
Solar PV is now around 15 000 MW in Europe. Solar thermal is minimal, but will explode in MW size during this decade. I am pretty sure that by 2020, we will have 80 000 MW in installed solar PV panels, and 40 000 MW in solar thermal plants (using molten salt storage) built all over the sunny parts of the world, including Australia. I think Australia will become a solar thermal molten salt storage superpower, it has it all to get there, smart and financially wealthy people, unbelievable sunshine amounts, lots of place to built it all, one government, and I think Australia will be a major exporter of this technology once it’s done in house, using it’s homegrown expertise to sell it to neighboring countries, making a profit all along the way.
I installed 4.2kW in solar PV panels on my home roof in 2010, and connected it to the grid, my government finally allowed it, and I finally could afford the investment, that will be paid back in 7 years thanks to the feed-in-tariffs. I got the opportunity in 2006 to switch from a FF+nuclear electricity utility (Electrabel), to one garanteing me a 100% green grid electricity (Ecopower cvba) supply. I did not pay one cent more per consumed kWh to do the switch (now 18 cents per consumed kWh), it was therefore a no brainer to do it, from my side of the ledger.
I therefore conclude that the assumption that NPP provide cheap electricity is a misnomer, the end user (me) doesn’t see the difference in it’s bill compared to a RE energy supply, it is the utility who pockets the NPP profits, stiffing everyone down the consumer line in the process . . .
My new utility Ecopower cvba sources its fuels from 52% biomass (CHP using wood pellets shipped by ships or canal barges from Austria, Ukraine, Scandinavia, Canada) and biofuels (locally grown vegetable oil producing crops, oil burned in ICE power generators), 2% from run-of-river hydro power, 38% from wind turbines, 6% from solar PV parks and a few small scale biogas digester powering gas turbines supplying the rest.
I can install a 8kW heat pump for less than 5000 euro, that is twice the price of a classic natural draft furnace of the same capacity, but I do not consume FF energy anymore, payback is therefore less than 7 years for that heat pump with a 20 years lifetime, since I can power it with my own solar PV panels or the 100% clean energy supplied from the grid.
Or I could install a micro combined heat and power generator, today New Zealand developed and built 10kW Whispergen micro CHP appliances are sold in the thousands in the UK alone each year, using Stirling engine technology, providing electricity and hot water to their home owners, being installed next to the laundry machine and cloth drier, in one long line of convenience appliances.
If I install a ground heat pump, I heat my home during winter, and cool my home during summer, simply by reversing the fluid circuit flows. My 200 square meter home is so well insulated, that I only need 4000 kWh in capacity heating a year to stay comfortable and heat all my sanitary hot water demand. I do not need air conditioning in the Belgian summer, my home is then partially shaded by trees, and home insulation works both ways, if I do not forget to vent my home during the night, to cool it using natural draft, by partially opening some windows downstairs and opening the Velux windows in my attic, closing it all during the day to keep the home cool, saving a lot of cooling demand energy in the process, and thus reducing significantly the peak power demand on my grid utility, while also saving a bunch of my money to-be-paid-to-the-grid-utility .
At the end of this year, I can now buy a GM Volt or a Toyota Prius plug-in battery + IC engine hybrid car, or a Nissan Leaf or a Think 100% electric vehicle. Each has a substantial battery set built into the car, that can be plugged into a wall socket, and reloaded using the solar PV panels on my home, or 100% green electricity supplied by my grid utility. During a winter storm, if I get cut off from the centralized grid by falling trees and am unable to go to work because of blocked snowed-in roads, the battery capacity stored in the Prius or the Nissan vehicle can power my home for at least 36 hours, and be reloaded during the day using my home solar PV panels. So my car batteries can power my heat pump to heat my home, and can provide the electricity needed during day and night, can be reloaded during the day using my solar PV panels, and allow me to drive with zero petrol consumption for the 20 to 100miles reloaded battery capacity driving range, before the vehicle has to switch to the ICE engine for longer distances, if you use a Toyota Prius or a GM Volt car. So cars are becoming more fuel efficient, going from the average 30 mpg in 2000 to a minimum of 100mpg for a GM Volt, to infinite mpg if I use a Nissan Leaf or Think EV being reloaded using only 100% green sourced electricity.
Multiply this by millions of people financially able to do the same, doing this over decades, and you got yourself a sustainable, profitable, energized, growing economy supplying ever cheaper RE appliances and power systems, being manufactured and shipped and installed and maintained and 100% recycled by many millions of people all over the world, allowing us to say to the next generation that we did our part to leave the world in a better shape than we received it.
And it really does cost nothing, since in Europe, we pay 1.1 euro per person per month to subsidize a Feed-in-tariff that serves as a motor to get it all done, by taxing CO2 emitters a fee of € 1.5 cents per consumed kWh, and using that money to fund this transition to a cleaner energy supply, through fixed prices per produced kWh paid to installer of such RE power systems, price amounts listed in the various Feed-in-tariffs, various Fee-in-tariffs decreasing by the years, following the price decreases of the RE power equipments, to avoid overpaying RE power producers and taxing too much the remaining FF consumers.
To put those FIT paid sums into perspective, you have to compare them with other fields : the USA spent $ 2 500 per person in Iraq in a decade, we in Europe did spend $ 600 per person to just save a whole string of banks, banks run to the ground by unscrupulous $1000 suits wearing scumbags cutting corners to increase their multimillion option laden paychecks. And the 38 richest countries in the world provide $ 550 BILLION in subsidies PER YEAR to the fossil fuel lobby, the links have been supplied here up, several times. So FIT are a temporary support system to level the game playing field, and I have no scruples to use it’s benefits to implement my views.
Nuclear can be a temporary significant power supply source to get there, I am in total agreement with you on that, we do need the not really cheap energy provided by those NPP’s to built this new RE infrastructure over the several decades ahead of us.
But in the long run, I do not see a solution with NPP’s, unless someone finally find a solution to the NPP radioactive waste issues from mining residues till end life of the remaining fuel rod and other maintenance wastes, which are the damocles sword hanging over this technology. And by the time smart people will have solved this (if it can be solved….), we will be decades away, and well on our way to implement a truly RE energy supply all over the globe.
By then even the most illiterate backwater in the world will be able to afford a cheap Iphone, allowing him to surf on the internet, learn, and understand that there is another way forward, and that it is not a scam, but that it is our future. You are free to fight this trend, you can also try to join the flow. I cannot change your decisions.
You are free men and women, so use you influence (vote) and your wealth to direct the flow in the direction you prefer. I already choose my way, it will be the RE road. NPP’s will only be a temporary tool to get there, if we really need them.
I hope you will be prove wrong. We shall see. May you all prosper and stay healthy and have meaningful lives.
America’s Export-Import bank has seen both the volume and monetary amount of requests for loans skyrocket since the wind industry downturn at the end of 2008. He says recent solar photovoltaic applications have hovered around a cost of $4 million per installed megawatt compared to $1.2-$1.3 million for wind. “Wind energy is becoming recognised as more affordable,” says Guthrie. “Maybe it doesn’t work everywhere, but where it works, it works very well.”
An Energy-Sipping Cellular Network To Be Deployed in Africa
Over 80% of Africans live without access to the electricity grid. However, over 1/3 of the population owns a cell phone and that portion is rapidly growing. Developing nations are leapfrogging from no phone to cell phones – skipping the expensive and unnecessary infrastructure of land lines – and the use of mobile phone technology for everything from agriculture to banking services to health care is helping to improve the quality of life of people living in these areas. However, it still takes a cell phone base station to connect the mobile devices, and those take power.
Technology Review reports that a cell phone base station that uses as little as 50 watts of solar generated power has been developed by VNL, a telecom company based in Haryana, India. The base stations – which can range from requiring 50 to 150 watts of power – are easy to assemble, requiring only two people to assemble and mount on a rooftop in just six hours. That makes these ideal for use in rural villages, and the units will soon be sold in Africa, where sunshine is plentiful.
With these new solar powered base stations, an installed station can turn a profit even if customers are spending just $2 a month to access the service, as opposed to the average $6 per person required to make traditional systems cost effective. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s also using a clean source of energy.
With proper use and an inexpensively, reliably connected mobile network, cell phones can significantly boost the quality of life of people around the globe. These new base stations from VNL are a wonderful and welcome solution to networking people living far from electricity. They come in addition to the solar powered Ericsson stations that began installation across Africa last year, Huawei Technologies and their solar powered base stations going in to rural areas in conjunction with Bangladesh mobile operator Grameenphone, and likely many more to come. ABI Research predicts that over 335,000 base stations worldwide will be using powered by the sun by 2013, with 40,000 of those being completely autonomous and off-grid.
Even the US Army is getting into RE supply …
alain, on 25 June 2010 at 22.12 — Informative, thank you.
“alain, on 25 June 2010 at 22.12 — Informative, thank you.”
There was some important theological information in there, eh?
Perhaps some people are interpreting “renaissance” differently. They may be referring only to the western world when pointing to a failed renaissance (a), or not regarding the big difference between 13 (or 65) reactors under construction & the 1,500 minimum actually required, as being significant enough (b). Alternatively, they could be referring to the need to allow for the older retiring reactors that will be replaced by some new ones, slowing up the total number coming online. Skepticsm about the rate of reactor building has been covered in the Scientific American (c). Some reactor parts require specialised machinery & could also hold up the renaissance significantly (d). Notice the article dates.
(b) http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/pdf/nuclearpower-summary.pdf (page 3)
The French are supposed to be experts at nuclear power, but their Gen III project is having some problems (e, f). Hardly encouraging. Naturally, they kept quiet about the higher radioactivity.
“why would China, South Korea, India, Russia and other rapidly developing nations risk their precious finances on such foolhardy ventures?”
The answer should be obvious – because those countries apparently do not know of any other solution, for baseload power & some of the above countries have a political system that won’t tolerate public dissent so reactors are readily forced upon them, while US & Japanese residents have more freedom to object (g) but they are also being forced on them. The nuclear industry heavily over-promotes their view that it is the only source of such power available with a claimed negligible carbon footprint. They also ignore & ridicule any objections from similarly qualified people while continuing to present their technology in the best possible light by even using wildly exaggerated data. For the moment, their claims appear genuine to the buyers, who feel there is no choice but to accept all the nuclear dangers. To help sell their reactors, excessive manipulation & downplaying is being done about the dangers. Why should other countries adopt nuclear power when there are already many US citizens satisfied it is dangerous (h) & their industry is ignoring their concerns by also forcing the technology upon them (like France & China) with political manipulation (i). Is this the ‘honest’ industry we have to get used to? It will also bring with it a form of ‘police state’ due to the terrorism threat. It looks like we have to do more than just say No. Why can’t we benefit from their unfortunate & costly mistakes instead of possibly duplicating them? The industry has had decades to lift its game but still relies more on denial rather than good engineering. Even the Chinese are now hiding accidents & downplaying iodine releases (j). The industry can’t even present a true picture of their routine radiation emissions or their net generation efficiency, doing what they can to hide it because it is so low. The US govt has even been misleading us with their claim of how much electrical energy can be obtained from a ton of uranium (gross yield). This low efficiency implies a significantly larger carbon footprint than is commonly shown (k, p18), even though nuclear has a much bigger mining & fuel processing requirement than renewables. Far more “misleading” claims are coming from the nuclear camp (k, p5) which can be readily clarified. The very low energy recovery alone (1%) is bad enough (k, p19). Is this the best the nuclear industry can do after all the money & time expended on research over 60 years? Reject this hopeless & expensive technology. There are new ideas already being conceived. Even standard renewables are not as bad as the one-eyed nuclear supporters claim (l). The average citizen can see the obvious absurdities with nuclear power more readily than the biased physicist, once they are given a true description of it. Apparently, not too many people noticed Mike Skeketee’s article ‘Invent our way out of crisis’ (The Australian 16-8-08). The title says it all, as there have already been other researchers working on better solutions while the nuclear industry has been bumbling along consuming huge amounts of govt subsidies & leaving millions of tons of mine tailings at many sites around the world. Contrary to how James Lovelock feels, we do not have to wait much longer for a “visionary” new power source, so why spend huge amounts needlessly on more nuclear nonsense when Australia can be in a position soon to do it much better, as long as these ideas receive adequate support? With the US & UK having a very large net debt (m), the expensive nuclear option would be a likely cruel additional burden for their population, when dedicated mavericks have already identified much cheaper & safer practical alternatives that are completely radiation free.. All we have to do is to continue with gas-fired co-generation until the newer ideas can be demonstrated soon, then the rest becomes easier. All the expensive & dangerous, & contentious problems accompanying nuclear power will be eliminated forever.
I didn’t bother going through all your post. Your points have been answered numerous times before on BNC threads. I read the first paragraph or so and notice you are saying that nuclear power cannot be built fast enough. I am wondering, if nuclear cannot be built fast enough, what can?
I understand the whole world is not building wind capacity at about the same rate as individual countries built nuclear capacity 40 years ago. And wind capacity generates about 1/3 the energy of nuclear and does so only when the wind blows, not when the consumers demand the power.
So wind energy (with back up generators, energy storage, transmission, and grid stabilisation) is much more expensive than nuclear energy, slower to build, and requires some 10 times as much material (i.e. mining, manufacturing, transport, etc).
You mention replacement of existing nuclear capacity. There is nothing unusual about that. All power stations ahve a life and have to be replaced at the end of their economic lives. Have you looked at how long wind turbines are actually lasting?
Just for one example look at “Tehachapi Wind Farms – Southern California, USA” here http://webecoist.com/2009/05/04/10-abandoned-renewable-energy-plants/
So, my question to you is: if you say nuclear cannot be built fast enough, what can?
You’re right. All we need to do it build up our natural gas generation and all our energy problems will magically be solved. After all, natural gas has proven to be a safe, cheap source of electricity that helps bring us energy independence.Yes, I am being sarcastic. But seriously, what you just wrote is worse than a high school English essay, nothing worthy of this website. Oh, and you forgot paragraphs thus you get awarded with a ‘F’.
Did you noet see last week’s critical report by the German physicists on cogeneration?
I notice that, like the Austrian “Marcus”, a rural farm owner proud of his micro or was it pico hydro on this blog some months ago, you jump swiftly from telling us about how renewables can power and heat your own car and house needs to the word “economy”, ie that of Belgium or the EU.
I cited to Marcus the fact that in his country in 2008, according to Internet-available figures, households in the Austrian definition took only 25% of all power consumption.
He chose to refuse to answer my statement that he was de facto fantasising a pre-industrial future for Austria minus fossil fuels and that he had zero concern for anything in the way of social equity for that reason. It is admittedly true that A currently obtains 70% of power from hydro, but this is not small-scale in the backyard.
Please show me what total Belgium power useage in a year of your choice was; what percentage of that was household useage, and how you envisage e.g. manufacturing Belgian beer cans using renewables for the aluminium. You need ca 15 kWh for a kg of aluminium. Or you might like to choose the industrial activity in Belgium, that is shown by the figures to have consumed the most power in a given year.
As I find your non-neoliberal, non-neocon approach more congenial than that of the predominant corporate apologists on BNC, who often evince a political naivete peculiar to Anglo countries, I hope you can help me.
You can look for yourself the figures for electricity generation and end use by industry by country on the IEA site. Here are the figures for Belgium: http://www.iea.org/stats/electricitydata.asp?COUNTRY_CODE=BE
It is well worth bookmarking this site for future use.
Barry Brook, on 19 June 2010 at 12.13 Said:
I’ve just found the IEA report that has the EI figures for electricity by country, and by year from 1971 to 2007. You can download the pdf report and/or the Excel file here: http://www.iea.org/co2highlights/
IEA calculate the figures using the IPCC 1996 guidelines. So the figures vary somewhat from the figures reported in the UNFCCC.
I have trouble trusting the figures reported in this IEA document. For example, for the EI for coal (in g/kWh for 2007):
New Zealand: 2282
There is a factor of 4 variation between Finland and New Zealand, and this is all for coal generation!). I suspect the Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway EI figures have been washed in a green washing machine. (or some how reported differently to the others). There is no existing coal technology that can come even close to those EI figures. I suspect the explanation we wioll get is the Scandinavians have a different way of calculating the heat use. Perhaps. But can the figures really be compared?
I do accept that David MacKay’s EI figure of 881 for Denmark does seem to be too high. It was 883 in 1974 and suddenly dropped to 597 in 1976 and stayed low ever since. More Danish Magic!
If we can’t trust IEA with these sorts of figures, who can we trust? (Note there are many caveats and explanations for poor data quality at the start of the IEA report)
It is now very sunny in Belgium; My home solar PV panels are producing their 25kWh per day full blast. Whoooaaa, my grid teller is spinning crazy, but in reverse. THe NPP owner will be pissed off, but hey, screw them.
Now, here some about NPP renaissance in Europe, articles to allow you to stay busy on this Sunday.
Brief comment> Here’s the rub for true believers of capitalism. The plant require large commitments from taxpayers, using funds that could be used to provide basic needs in more sustainable ways. They also require a commitment to a set high price long term and this creates its own potent self-serving ethos in which other more viable investments are blocked.
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) says 39% of all new capacity installed in 2009 was wind power, followed by gas (26%) and solar photovoltaics (PV) (16%). Europe decommissioned more coal and nuclear capacity than it installed in 2009. Taken together, renewable energy technologies account for 61% of new power generating capacity in 2009.
Finrod, on 26 June 2010 at 10.37 — Belgians, it seems, are rich enough to afford boutique solutions.
Also few enough; there’s not enough wood pellet potential to go around for all.
I suppose that’s theology. :-)
It’s hard to know who to believe on energy data. For example
contrasts 2007 US dollar costs per Mwh with 2006 Australian dollar costs. To take one example the lowest US gas cost is $313 and the highest (open cycle) Australian gas cost is $101 per Mwh. Surely they should line up better with minor adjustments for exchange rates and local resource availability.
Wow! 39% increase on 1% = 1.39%. Big deal. It’s still next to useless, causes more harm than good, and is increasing the cost of everyone’s electricity for no benefit. Wasting money on RE is being driven by noisy, belief-ridden, people like Alain.
DV82XL 19 June 2010 at 4.59
“They don’t bother to go back and read the material that is here, and see all the times that we have carefully dismantled most of these breathlessly held beliefs, not once but often several times.”
Unfortunately, those of us who are very satisfied nuclear energy is a complete engineering disaster will feel that it is the pro-nuke’s that cannot or will not see the truth. We can see your repeated attempts to dismantle our objections but are satisfied that good engineering & science alone adequately exposes your blatant efforts to mislead others. There is abundant solid evidence on our side to support the view that nuclear energy research & development has been a shocking waste of time & money, being good only for making bombs, power packs for space probes & maybe some medical applications. Why can’t you reflect on the previous industrial failures in trying to make a nuclear powered car (Ford), a similarly powered rocket & aircraft – all of which consumed large amounts of money. The failed StarWars X-ray laser program consumed about US$60bn alone. The entire US bomb making programme with clean-up efforts has cost about US$6 trillion to date. Yet supporters like Peter Lang 14 June 2010 at 19.37 still ignore the very obvious evidence of danger, excessive costs & extreme engineering, all adequately verified by people well placed in the industry & even some US govt agencies. In his 7 points, Peter Lang continues to suggest that nuclear power has ‘glowing’ advantages, with all his points already having been successfully countered by Prof Ian Lowe & many others. We feel that you guys are the ones not listening well enough.
“The inescapable conclusion is that more and better public information campaigns are needed in those countries where supporters want to advance the cause of nuclear power. This is the heart of the challenge for advocates for nuclear energy. It is not enough just to say we never met a reactor we didn’t like. We need to get the public up to speed, because when they know the truth it does look like they can make an informed decision and back nuclear. Antinuclear forces have held the public in high contempt for decades so much so that they lie almost reflexively now, and that makes them very vulnerable.” DV82XL An informed public is key to acceptance of nuclear energy
Anti-nuclear followers are entitled to feel there are too many deniers in the nuclear camp & have to object to your efforts to present us as liars & cranks. You are the ones that are vulnerable as more truth is exposed about the many unsolved engineering weaknesses of nuclear power plants & will be seen to be ‘twisting the truth’ far more than us. How about explaining why we should accept this incredibly inefficient form of energy (1-3%)? As Prof Ian Lowe has already pointed out, for you not to assume that the reason for the public’s failure to accept nuclear power, is due only to ignorance. Not surprisingly, we will feel rather the pro-nukes have held the public “in high contempt” due to the grubby way they have forced their heavily flawed technology down people’s throats & continue to engage in misleading claims. In Canada, a poll taken at a new proposed site Weberville, shows 85% were opposed to the nuclear power. Yet their government is still trying to build a plant there. If Canadian nuclear advances were so terrific, why are so many people rejecting it?
On Safety from a US Gov OTA Report 1984. Chap 4
“Safety concerns also arise because nuclear powerplants have encountered hardware malfunctions
in virtually every system, including control rods, steam generators, coolant pumps, and fuel rods. The majority of these hardware problems have been resolved by retrofits, changes in methods of operation, and redesign. Some problems are expected as a new reactor matures, but many of the LWR problems have persisted. Others continue to surface, some because of the intense scrutiny of plants following the Three Mile Island accident and others because of the aging of the earlier reactors. Most of the difficulties probably have technically feasible solutions, but it is not always clear that they would be cost effective to implement. Meanwhile, the discovery of new problems and the slow resolution of old ones continues to erode confidence in the safety of LWRs.”
NRC ‘Special Inquiry Group’ on TMI Accident
“The generation of nuclear power can never be risk-free. It will inevitably present certain risks to public health & safety no matter how “safe” plants are made.”
Wash-740 Update (suppressed US govt report)
“In any machinery as complex as a reactor facility, it is inevitable that structural failures, instrument malfunctions, operators’ errors & other mishaps will occur, despite the most careful design & rigid schedules of maintenance. Such has been the experience with reactor installations.”
“The emergency Core Cooling System cannot be made foolproof.”
President’s Commission on TMI Accident Overview
“We do not claim that our proposed recommendations are sufficient to assure the safety of nuclear power. The belief that nuclear power plants are sufficiently safe grew into a conviction. The Commission is convinced that this attitude must be changed to one that says nuclear power is by its very nature potentially dangerous, and, therefore, one must continually question whether the safeguards already in place are sufficient to prevent major accidents. Whether in this particular case we came close to a catastrophic accident or not, this accident was too serious. Accidents as serious as TMI should not be allowed to occur in the future. While throughout this entire document we emphasize that fundamental changes are necessary to prevent accidents as serious as TMI, we must not assume that an accident of this or greater seriousness cannot happen again, even if the changes we recommend are made. We have not found a magic formula that would guarantee that there will be no serious future nuclear accidents.”
In view of these official findings, how are we expected to believe pro-nuke claims of safety? Why would any reasonable person want such a heavily flawed & woefully incomplete engineering?
Each successive insider from that industry that comes forward, reveals further disadvantages, as you will soon see. If you are a Canadian resident, then you can hardly claim the nuclear industry there has been a fantastic success (a, b, c), as Canada’s total carbon “emissions are still rising” (d) & their reactor design releases excessive tritium into the environment (e) while also (contrary to what you claim) encourages proliferation with the highest plutonium yield (g). No wonder China is buying them. We wonder why the ‘positive void coefficient’ feature has also been conveniently downplayed in CANDU reactors. Isn’t nuclear power supposed to lower Canada’s carbon footprint, or is the Alberta Tar-Sands project a multiple disaster? Is your idea of a “fair evaluation of the subject”, to bluntly rubbish any alternative evidence (in any way possible) to the false or exaggerated claims made by other nuclear supporters? Even Dr Edward Teller, Admiral Rickover, US government agencies & a more recent French physicist have publically acknowledged the dangers of nuclear power, while most pro-nuke contributors here still live in denial, claiming it is safe. Your version of “truth” & of pointing me “in the right direction” is to only promote nuclear propaganda & ridicule any dissenters. How about concentrating on your own country’s energy failures first before interfering with Australian views & let them actually show the way with better ideas (f). You can keep the toxic nuclear mess.
“Canada has never built a nuclear weapon even though we have been able to since the late 1940′s out reactor designs use unenriched uranium, they burn the plutonium they breed to practically unrecoverable levels. Our program is not and never has been the handmaiden of any weapons program.” DV82XL 16 May 2010 at 2.53
Then how come India is credited with obtaining their 1st bomb material from a CANDU research reactor (c) & appears willing to sell CANDU reactors to suspect countries (g)?
“one practical way to distinguish between a sceptic and a denier is the extent to which they are willing to update their positions in response to new information. Sceptics change their minds. Deniers just keep on denying” (h).
@Macchiavelli: a piece of advice, if I may. The reports you cite talk of danger and accidents; your opponents on BNC will point firstly to the minute number of deaths due to nuclear power generation since 1945 in eg France since 1974 or Switzerland or Germany.
Secondly, they will cite you the much higher ongoing numbers of deaths due to coal and other FF burning and extraction for power generation since 1945. They will say, if NPPs are as “flawed”, why do various countries obtain huge amounts of power from them decade by decade? They will accuse you of suppressing all mention of coal-fired power station deaths.
It is true that there are ex-NPP managers such as Klaus Traube in Germany who came out against nuclear 20 years ago after 20 years in the business. The question is, why.
Thirdly, your opponents will ask you to specify how to provide current and future global power needs. If you reply “Renewables”, they will ask you for numbers and not expressions of optimism mixed in their view with ignorance among other things of Jevons Paradox.
But if you take eg the line taken by AU permaculture co-founder David Holmgren, who looked forward in a 2010 Youtube interview to people “using less energy after the pending crises”, because that is what the current technical state of renewables would mean, they will infer that you want a population crash by mass death in AU and elsewhere, so as to unburden Gaia.
That would achieve a global return to eg 350 ppm C02e and a long-term reversal in the increasingly lower oceanic pH. Do you want this crash?
And as regards the crash: are you inclined to think that you and your friends could get by nicely, when the grid went down, with your backyard bantam hens and some feral olive trees yielding, as they do, your daily calories with only 400g of fruit? What is your view therefore of social equity?
I say this because there is a noticeable and bucolic Green Property Smallholder strand among Renewabilists. I dealt with one on BNC some months back.
Vananda Shiva said on Democracy Now TV last week that 40% of global C02e emissions could be cut inside 3 years if current agribusiness production modes were abolished. When challenged on this, she said that “the young people” would bring it about. Is this your solution?
By way of conclusion, it is evident that the style of your writing is such that you and BNC opponents are actually talking past each other. I do not think that any dialogue will occur.
Machiavelli’s latest rant (above) showed up in my comment feed and while his past tacit acceptance of the chem-trails concept places him squarely in the ranks of the deluded, and despite the fact that I promised myself not to comment on these matters anymore, I cannot let this go by, on an international forum:
First the only link between the Indian nuclear weapons program and Canadian technology is the suspicion (never confirmed by the Indian government, or by evidence better than circumstantial) that India bred weapons grade Pu in the CIRUS reactor (not a CANDU.)
CIRUS (Canada India Research U.S.) is a research reactor (not a power reactor) at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) in Trombay near Mumbai, India. CIRUS was supplied by Canada in 1954, but uses heavy water supplied by the U.S. (hence its name). Its design is based on the NRX/NRU series of pool reactors AECL operates at Chalk River. It was bought by India prior to the NPT and the reactor is not under IAEA safeguards (which also did not exist when the reactor was sold), although Canada stipulated as a condition of sale, and the U.S. supply contract for the heavy water explicitly specified, that it only be used for peaceful purposes.
Furthermore the highly enriched uranium that the Indians used to breed the Pu did not come from the U.S., or Canada, but is suspected of having come from French sources. It is also suspected that there was involvement by the British in some technology transfer to the Indian weapons program. Thus as far as international blame for India’s bomb, there is plenty to go around.
As a consequence of India’s suspected violation of the terms of sale, Canada cut India off from all nuclear trade, as did the U.S. and for its part Canada stopped offering high-power research reactors for international sale.
The bottom line being that no CANDU has ever been used to breed Pu for weapons.
@Peter Lalor IMHO this Macchiavelli is nothing more than a crank, I’m sure the bulk of the readership of BNC gives his comments the weight they deserve.
DV82XL, on 15 July 2010 at 21.26 — Nonetheless, it is necessary to “peat and repeat” the safety statistics, again and again.
Just saying, “coal kills, nukes don’t” fails to get through to some.
David B. Benson (16 July 2010)
If you are referring to my recent entry, I am certainly not advocating continuing with coal & never have. What makes you think I have been? As indicated elsewhere, I put confidence in other solutions. You guys need to wake up to the totally unacceptable disadvantages with nuclear power – & there are plenty, but you are all keeping your heads in the sand 7 refusing to acknowledge them. If nuclear is so wonderful, how come many Americans are waking up to its many flaws after having experienced it first-hand for many years & are sick of it & all the denials that went with it?
Keep believing in Chemtrails. ;)
Scott (23 July)
The newswire poll isn’t believable. Even if it is accurate, then most voters are mislead into thinking nuclear is the great saviour, when it isn’t. Sorry.
Chemtrails belong in a different column. Open your eys & see some video footage of them before you form an opinion.
Peter Lang (27 June)
I am just submitting several links having material not seen on this site yet, because I don’t think the points they raise have been adequately considered. For the Scientific American to have an article about the delays of nuclear plants (a) suggests a valid theme. In general, it seems they are saying that nuclear plants would take the longest time to build, so the general response to your question would be – alternative technology wouldn’t take as long due to the simpler physics involved & wouldn’t have the same risks. A common theme at present is to use a mix of technologies to provide 24-7 coverage. Those who are satisfied of the legitimacy of nuclear’s risks & multiple problems, will simply omit that option from the mix. There is very adequate confirmation of nuclear power’s risks from many scientists & engineers working in that field over deacades, who have already spoken out. Why would anyone dispute those in-house experts unless they have an axe to grind? In my earlier comments (b), you will see I have a different vantage point for substituting nuclear with newer research (already being done by others) on a previously unidentified form of renewable energy for baseload power. Yes, I know it is unfortunate, but for proprietary reasons, no details of this research can be released for quite a while. Only general points about its advantages can be made, which wouldn’t of course satisfy people like DV82XL. People need to be reminded that the discovery of nuclear fission was definitely not the ultimate step in understanding how energy can be generated. Look how the ‘cold fusion’ claims in 1989 were treated, yet now there is more evidence of a genuine heating effect (c). Since the above-mentioned new renewable research uses existing techniques, materials & hardware without needing any extreme protective systems, then it would also be expected to take much less time to build a given centralised power plant as we are familiar with today. It does not need to be spread out over large areas like a wind farm & uses no obviously dangerous source of energy. It will be a breakthrough concept.
Peter Lalor 15 July 010 (Your first main point)
The problem here seems to be (as identified by others) that the nuclear industry is only conceding to the very obvious & undeniable deaths & injuries usually involved with reactor operation only while ignoring the more subtle & less obvious ill-effects of radiation on people, when considering the entire nuclear cycle, such as the radiation induced lung cancers in the miners & the cancer clusters near some nuclear facilities, along with any significant accidental radiation releases. The nuclear industry has grudgingly conceded radiation ill-effects only with higher doses (because they’re more obvious) but have ignored any possible ill-effects from lower doses despite independent evidence of them & limited evidence of any truly safe level of exposure (a). They are also ignoring the many more claimed affected residents from the Chernobyl accident (b). There is very adequate evidence for those effects from independent researchers (see links at c). The industry has also gone to some length to conceal serious errors in the early reactors that have caused fatalities (mainly experimental breeder reactors) & of course deny any connection with cancer clusters, using the same approach as ‘big tobacco’. In fact, ‘New Scientist’ confirmed recently that the US nuclear industry had joined a disinformation group (TASSC) that was also assisting the climate change deniers & ‘big tobacco’.
Even the pro-industry, 1959 ICRP publication (# 2) stated: “The permissible doses can therefore be expected to produce effects that could be detectable only by statistical methods applied to large groups.”
So even back in 1959, the possibility was recognised of obtaining evidence of low-level radiation effects. But when adequately qualified (independent) researchers actually do statistical surveys checking for ill-effects at low levels & identify evidence of such effects, they are ignored by the nuclear industry which then downplays the new evidence or ridicules it. Even when US govt surveys were done for low-level radiation effects, they were ignored & funding was removed when the results were unfavourable. The pro-nukes claim that peer-reviewed studies counter any ‘tooth-fairy’ type of research. But unfortunately Dr C. Busby (UK) has already pointed out why the peer-review process can be flawed & ineffective when hostile reviewers are used with a conflict of interest (d). Even the highly regarded Sir Richard Doll (UK) (who also defended nuclear power) was later found to be conflicted. Conflicts of interest are still exposed occasionally (d). There are in place several identified confirmed mechanisms to explain low-level radiation ill-effects; the Petkau effect, genomic instability & the bystander effect. The German government has accepted the results of the KiKK cancer study however, showing a dose relationship near many reactors. There are additional reactor surveys suggesting similar residential health impacts. The nuclear industry is deliberately insisting on very restricted definitions of radiation caused illnesses (e) to minimise damaging statistics. Dr Rosalie Bertell felt she could provide estimates for illnesses caused by the atom bomb & power reactor programs using corrected data (e). She felt the nuclear power industry (1943-2000) was responsible for approximately 1 million people experiencing ill-effects, (possibly 20% were premature cancer deaths) with over a hundred million stillbirths also occurring. Now that a more recent estimate is available for the Chernobyl accident (f), there may be an additional million casualties. If this is even close to being accurate, then we cannot possibly rely on any expensive reactor expansion in Australia in order to gather evidence over decades to spot additional low-level radiation casualties. We must learn from overseas experience now. If Dr Betell’s figures appear excessive, then consider this extract from an internal NCR memorandum to James Yore, (1977), about just their uncovered tailings radiation concern:
“Since the radon continues to seep from the tailings for a very long time, the total dose to people over all the future generations could become very large. Deaths in future generations due to cancer & genetic effects resulting from the radon from the uranium required to fuel a single reactor for one year can run into the hundreds. It is very difficult to argue that deaths to future generations are unimportant. In summary the values given in Table S-3 (not available) for the amount of Rn-222 emitted per annual fuel requirement is grossly in error. So also is the dose to offsite population from milling due to one annual fuel requirement – the current number is more nearly 10 million person-rem rather than 100 person-rem. The correct value would be some 100,000 times greater.”
Since no actual figures are included in the above NRC quote, it is interesting to use a cancer-yield value currently accepted by BEIR in order to use with the above revised figure (10m person-rem). It gives an expected minimum, (simple calculation) of approximately 5,000 additional cancers amongst those affected by the tailings radiation. Dr John Gofman (who was well placed in the early nuclear industry) felt that by using revised figures, there would be at least 30,000 additional cancers from 10m person-rems exposure – not necessarily all fatal – assumed to be over many years or decades from uncovered tailings. Recall that this result is for the mining to get uranium fuel for just 1 year of reactor operation. Now why would the NRC fail to openly talk about this unacceptable health risk?
(a) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051027090539.htm (Notice in this link how nuclear workers & uranium miners are classed as a “high-risk” group)
(e) The Ecologist November 1999
Peter Lalor 15 July 010 (Further points)
I have never suppressed coal power deaths, nor supported coal fired technology in any way on this site or anywhere else. The absence of any mention of coal power is not to be construed as a form of suppression, but rather more of my disinterest in that technology. I am all in favour of coal plants being phased out along with nuclear plants. They both represent a shocking failure for modern science to devise something better, while another industry (electronics) streaks away well beyond the stagnant power generation industry. Not all coal miners need lose their jobs (they can be retrained), as coal will still be needed to supply other markets. The carbon sequestration idea only adds excessive expense for a partial, unsatisfactory solution. Both coal & nuke plants have unacceptable failings.
Nuclear power is currently used mainly because it appears to be the only remaining source of impressive heat output, despite its many engineering challenges for safety (see extract from US Govt OTS report ‘On Safety’ at (a). It was heavily promoted & subsidised by the US govt to convince their public that supposedly peaceful, safe & cheap power could be obtained from the atom instead of just making powerfully destructive bombs. With some basic research, it can be readily seen the US govt made every effort to encourage the building of nuclear plants, even to the point of limiting the owner’s accident liability with the Price-Anderson Act. This alone indicates how unsafe nuclear power is. Their first practical nuclear plant at Shippingport (1958) was a total economical & partial engineering failure, since the cost of the power generated was about 10 times the norm at that time, & very significant amounts of reactor releases were later confirmed by detective work from Dr Sternglass, while the official emission releases were dishonestly given as ‘zero’ by state authorities. This public health disaster was an indication of things to come later (b, c). The increased cancer rates were readily apparent in nearby residents. The plant was however regarded as a public relations triumph in the cold war climate with the USSR. Countries still using nuclear plants are apparently not convinced of these failings yet, or haven’t devised anything better – but Germany is reconsidering after the KiKK study. The nuclear industry is still trying to mislead us with their low-carbon claims. They have a very significant mining & processing need that renewable power doesn’t require, yet they say their footprint is about the same. This cannot be.
A similar experience occurred with the introduction of X-ray equipment in the late 1800’s, where a technology was implemented without ensuring public safety first. The early gas X-ray tubes in use were very poor, requiring very long exposures (45-60 min), resulting in needless radiation damage & early deaths to early radiologists & some patients. It wasn’t until after the Coolidge tube was invented (1913) that doses & exposure times could be lowered. But even then it wasn’t widely used until the mid 1920’s. Even in the 1970’s, mammography was using doses that were too high. The medical profession rushed into using X-rays well before carefully evaluating their nature for public safety, preferring to use the public as guinea pigs. Public statements have been made by key identities from the nuclear industry saying the same thing about their technology – they rushed into it without proper consideration. Now that there is adequate evidence of the health dangers of nuclear power to the public, accumulated over 40 years of data gathering, the industry doesn’t want to listen. We cannot trust that sort of behaviour. Well unfortunately, there is more evidence accumulating that radioactive emission releases into the environment (that would be considerable when 1500-2000 reactors come on line) will damage the ozone layer & their water vapour releases will also be large enough to have a detrimental effect on the ozone as well as contribute to greenhouse gas temperature rise. More on this shortly. Nuclear has far too many disadvantages.
Some nuclear supporters are so blinded to nuclear power’s many problems that they don’t even bother to search out such evidence for themselves – probably because they don’t want to. Many seem to support nuclear power like fanatical sports lovers, barracking for their team regardless of the player’s abilities & shortcomings. They are really the ones that are immovable, with one of them even confirming a deliberate “agenda in promoting nuclear power” (d) by also using ridicule instead of rational logic to counter our concerns. That seems to be why this site is so one-sided. Admittedly, some aspects of radiation physics can be confusing to newcomers.
DV82XL (15 July 2010)
There are many sources that don’t agree with your version of the CIRUS reactor only being “suspected” of providing plutonium (a, b). In any case, it hardly matters if it was just a research reactor – it was still effectively a Canadian product. The tritium output is also useful for weapons production. By 1996, the Canadian nuclear program had cost the taxpayer at least $13bn, for a string of very imperfect reactors having a positive void coefficient & unsatisfactory pressure tube life. While Bruce Power has had significant problems keeping as many of their eight (PT Elgin) reactors on line (c). Like the Americans, your country has had a long time to improve the nuclear mess, but it still looks like a very unattractive option.
(a) http://dailymailnews.com/0610/30/FrontPage/FrontPage1.htm (Indian paper)
(c) http://www.ccnr.org/exports_1.html 1996 (see Executive Summary & Chap 3)
Peter Lalor 15 July 2010 (Industry experts crossing the floor)
There certainly are more professionals swapping sides or at least being more willing to recognise nuclear failings after reconsidering nuclear power effects & disadvantages. Klause Traube appears to have been convinced after the TMI accident, to change his views (Wikipedia) not surprisingly to those who have seen the scraps of convincing evidence scattered around many sources. We know that inside the containment bldg, approx 4,000 rads were present at one stage. Later, NRC consultants confirmed about 200 rads were being released from containment stacks. An early public media statement from a Met Ed official said there had been a release of about 40 rads heading away from the plant. All these readings suggest much larger releases than that officially admitted. These engineers & scientists ‘crossing the floor’ are (or were) heavily involved in that industry, so they were in a position to see far more than the public.
Before he resigned from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Peter Bradford said,
Confirmation of this approach comes from investigative journalist, Laurie Garret: (2000)
Three General Electric nuclear engineers resigned in 1976, due to their concerns about safety issues not being addressed adequately.
A French professor of physics has recently written:
In 1990, the UK, nuclear scientist Lord Marshall conceded he was “losing enthusiasm” for nuclear power after 25 years (a). Even Admiral Rickover confirmed the TMI accident was more serious than the official version & later felt nuclear power “should be outlawed.” Industry whistle blower, A. Gundersen also confirmed the TMI accident severity. Even the Kemeny commission overview acknowledged the potential danger of nuclear power (b) as did also US nuclear physicist Dr Edward Teller (c). In fact one Kemeny commissioner further stated in a little known supplement:
The same Kemeny commissioner also predicted a worse nuclear accident occurring later. It was fulfilled with the Chernobyl tragedy. The ‘pro-nukes’ should catch up with this additional material from official US govt FoI sources confirming the dangers of nuclear power. If they are concerned, then why are the ant-nuke public ridiculed for sharing the same concerns?
(Complete paragraph quote near the bottom of the page).
Peter Lalor (15 July 2010) (Alternative energy source)
There is enough good evidence of many alert maverick researchers having already been busy over the last 80 years devising new ways to generate small amounts of energy using new principles not found in mainstream textbooks. With ingenuity, some of these same principles can be used to enlarge the energy output significantly – but only those who are able to break free from the conventions set in stone decades ago, will recognise this. We don’t have to wait 1,000 more years for James Lovelock’s “visionary” power source – we can have it much sooner, without enduring nuclear hazards at all. The nuclear physicists have completely missed these ideas because they have tunnel vision (like their supporters) & have been mislead into ignoring classical physics. Look how they reacted to the cold-fusion announcement in 1989. Cold fusion has been recently shown to be more than a mere mistake (a). Pro-nukes seem to be prepared to put up with all the dangerous aspects in the belief that nuclear power is the last remaining choice for baseload power, just like Prof S. Balibar (b) when it needn’t be.
The best alternative idea for a heat source I have found was very briefly mentioned at (c, d) & is a new renewable form identified long ago by a private researcher in Prof Brook’s hometown. This researcher feels certain (based on his long industrial training & experience) it can be scaled up to industrial sizes for use as centralised baseload power. But he needs financing to produce a demonstration model to illustrate the principle. Once this is done, it will be obvious that large scale deployment will be readily possible. It is not an obvious form of energy but more a result of alert observation in recognising a known process that can be modified to produce much better results. Unfortunately, no hard details can be given yet for proprietary reasons despite Finrod’s criticism with another contributor (e). All ideas have to have an initial theoretical stage. The nuclear enthusiasts have squandered far too much money on failures, so it’s now time to look at new ideas.
This new approach will also be expected to be completely free of any need to mine for fuel, & therefore not emit any CO2 during operation since there is no combustion of any kind. No extra drain on the planet’s oxygen either. It won’t therefore make any huge demands on the environment by digging up fuel resources. Since there is absolutely no radiation involved, a complete plant can have a much longer life as it isn’t subjected to any strong ionising radiation effects. Replacing any worn sections as needed like in normal industrial machinery will be easier than in a nuclear plant. It will not even need any cooling towers due to its superior thermal efficiency (like gas), so there will not be any need for huge amounts of cooling water, unsightly towers & continuously rising water vapour plumes, which are now suspected of affecting the ozone layer & influencing global warming as a greenhouse gas. Classical physics still has some surprises for us, but suppression thuggery is still used by other fanatical people with an axe to grind. If Tom Blees & Prof Brook can promote the radically new IFR, then why can’t I do likewise with another new, much safer energy concept? It would be in practical use well before any new nuclear design because it is much simpler & cheaper.
[…] Currently, one the most frequently cited criticism of nuclear energy, especially with reference to Europe or North America, involves economics. High construction costs for Advanced Light Water Reactors (ALWRs) have emerged as the number one issue limiting near-term deployment, and it now appears that the $18.5 billion in loan guarantees now available will fund no more than 2 or 3 new plants. The major area of anti-nuclear emphasis today is on preventing an expansion of this loan guarantee volume to the $50 to $100 billion level that the nuclear industry believes could be productively used in the near term. Even with loan guarantees, cited nuclear construction prices in the US remain high enough that nuclear remains marginally competitive and most utilities are slowing down their plans for new nuclear construction. Really, nuclear is getting nowhere very fast in the US at present, despite its great promise. AREVA France is now facing similar issues. China, happily, is not. […]
Accident Risks – Testimony from Early Industry Insiders
Additional examples following on from earlier entries (a, b) showing that not just the public were concerned about nuclear power’s risks.
Even Dr Edward Teller, one of the foremost nuclear proponents, was later (1967) to express his serious doubts about the breeder & plutonium as fuel.
Even some proponents of nuclear power such as Dr Alvin Weinberg, former director of the AEC’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, acknowledge that for nuclear power to be a viable energy alternative it must be a technology free of catastrophic accident.
When Dr George Weil, a former research associate of Dr Enrico Fermi, had started working with the WWII Manhattan Project, radium had been the major source of radioactive poisoning. The entire world radium inventory amounted to only about 1,000 curies. But with nuclear plants planned for the future, it would be possible for (just) a single large reactor to contain up to 20 billion curies of radioactive inventory. With future projections of hundreds of nuclear plants being likely, Dr Weil was having doubts of their complete safety. He felt that if there were to be just one major accident, such as was possible in the AEC WASH-740 1957 & 64 studies, then the public outrage would be so great, that it would immediately spell the end of nuclear power. Thus the billions of dollars invested would be wiped out – to say nothing of the billions more needed for damage, clean-up & compensation. Dr Weil was only one of many who were to equate a critical mass which created a blast with an atomic explosion. Despite AEC assurances to the contrary, there was a clear-cut risk of a nuclear explosion in a fast breeder reactor, with a very obvious possibility of breaching the containment structure. A yield of about 500 – 1,000 tons of TNT would be expected. The containment vessel would not survive that blast.
Dr George Weil, one of the most competent & qualified of the critics, who had assisted with the very first Chicago carbon pile chain-reaction experiment in 1942 said:
Professor Henry Kendall of MIT was later to reveal that the safety assurances put forth by AEC for the light-water nuclear reactors were “gravely defective” & that the nuclear power plants being designed were a serious threat to the health & safety of the public. He later pointed out that all atomic power plants were affected. In a later paper written with Daniel Ford, he said:
“The safety systems in presently operating nuclear plants are crude & untested. A number of design weaknesses in these safety systems have been confirmed. Moreover, there is extensive evidence that the workmanship going into nuclear power plant construction is far from adequate. The increasing number of quality assurance problems, maintenance deficiencies, management review oversights, & operator errors is disturbing. The AEC has itself acknowledged that there have been a number of “near-misses” in the brief operating history of commercial reactors, accidents that could have resulted in major public health incidents. An official AEC assessment of some off the operating records of the nuclear reactor program is that the absence of direct injury to the general public to date is largely the result of good luck.”
Peter Faulkner, an experienced electrical engineer was fired from a nuclear consulting firm for recommending in a written statement to a 1974 US Senate Subcommittee, that a congressional committee investigate the industry’s quality problems. He later declared,
Carl Hocevar, an engineer assisting with reactor safety research for the AEC, resigned in 1974 & said in his letter to the AEC chairman:
By August 6, 1975, (note the date) 2,300 scientists had signed a petition drafted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, to Congress & the president that called the dangers of nuclear power “altogether too great” & urged a “drastic reduction” in nuclear plant construction, along with greater efforts to develop a non-nuclear energy future for the nation.
In January 1976, Robert Pollard, also an experienced electrical engineer, resigned from the NRC because he felt the agency was “blind” to unresolved reactor safety issues. In 1978, he testified before the House Subcommittee on Energy & Power, saying:
Also in 1976, three more experienced engineers from General Electric’s reactor division also resigned, telling the US Congress that nuclear power was
In June, 1976, the (1972) ECCS controversy was re-opened by a NRC consultant. Keith Miller, Professor of mathematics, was one of ten consultants to the NRC on the computer programs that are supposed to predict ECCS performance. Prof Miller cited a wide divergence between the NRC’s public posture of “almost absolute certitude” the ECCS would function, & the private opinions & doubts of some NRC & industry personnel. Prof Miller called for a halt in licensing nuclear reactors until there could be experimental verification of the NRC’s computer codes.
In October 1976, another engineer Ronald Flegge, resigned from the NRC, writing that the NRC
I guess everyone needs a hobby of some sort.
It keeps him out of harms way, Fin.
Response to ‘Greens’ uranium stance dated’ (from The Australian Sept 15 2010)
Peter’s definition of “clean” is too restrictive. Using a wider meaning, “clean” should really cover no pollutants of ANY kind. Unfortunately, radiation is a pollutant, & has always been the Achilles heel of the nuclear industry, where today, the BEIR VII report clearly states that even low doses can cause some harm in more vulnerable members of the population. Uranium tailings release a radioactive gas for a very long time above ground, potentially exposing people to lung cancer. Is this part of Peter’s clean fuel approach? Once a detailed research effort is made, it becomes very obvious the nuclear industry has been founded on flawed logic covered by propaganda to manipulate unsuspecting people into supporting it. All countries using nuclear power during the last 30 – 50 yrs, have very significant technical & economical difficulties as a result of their efforts to make it work truly safely & profitably. We can learn from their continuing failures – don’t go nuclear. We don’t need to. How much more time & public money do they want to squander for this terribly inefficient (less than 1% overall) & dangerous form of power generation? It has very significant capital costs throughout the entire nuclear stages. Ask the former Chernobyl residents how dangerous it is, then read the US TMI Kemeny report (a) & the internal NRC reports saying how there will always be accident risks to the public regardless of how well the plants are built & maintained. Include the confirmation from many nuclear specialists inside the industry about the dangers that have appeared in many public statements (b).
(a) http://www.threemileisland.org/downloads/188.pdf (see Overview)
The world certainly has NOT moved to nuclear power en-mass (c), although it seems so to nuclear advocates. There are still only a very modest number under construction, many in countries with a non-western democracy, where the population has little informed choice & are having the technology forced upon them. There are also still groups opposing nuclear power in countries that already have it (even France & Canada), because they have already experienced the defects in their country long enough.
The Greens recognise both forms of power generation are unsatisfactory, & are unlikely to support any more coal plants either. They wish to stop the export of uranium because it leads to continuation of a heavily flawed power generation industry, & not because they just want to raise the uranium price.
Apparently Peter gives greater priority to mining royalties rather than to public health. There will be many more likely standard mineral resources found to replace the uranium profits. Any uranium earnings would be consumed many times over if we commenced a nuclear power industry in Australia. The routine costs of mining, government regulation & inspection of the industry, just paying for the reactors & related infrastructure, then one or more repositories & dealing with any major accident will completely wipe out any earlier mining profits many times over. Whereas renewable energy cannot cause widespread radioactive damage or require an extensive mining industry that scars parts of the environment. With new renewable ideas approaching, there will greater cause to abandon nuclear power.
The Green’s genuine concern for public health & the environment is not ‘fear-mongering’, but would only appear to be so, to those who have not caught up with the extensive subject material showing how dangerous the industry really is. Yes, it can be daunting to work your way through the nuclear information, but until you do, an uninformed opinion will not count for much.
It isn’t just the uranium handling that concerns people, because yellowcake is not heavily radioactive. The radon released from the tailings however, are a different story – they will continue being released for over a century contributing to a cancer risk (d). The radon bearing ores should never have been brought to the surface. That’s one direct reason why uranium should be left in the ground. There are many more dangerous, polluting & expensive aspects to the uranium fuel cycle & nuclear power generation that cannot be called “minor risks”. Since the industry still hasn’t removed the major concerns indentified more than 30 yrs ago, then the Greens’ objections are still valid today. People not accepting this yet are the more likely ones that need to do more research. Furthermore, recent nuclear advocates want to use far more plutonium in their IFR’s, subjecting us to even greater criticality accident risks (e). Why should we add significant greenhouse gases to our tally in order to mine the Olympic Dam uranium for others, when we know it is part of the most dangerous & inefficient form of energy generation? We will not need nuclear power, as there has already been many researchers identify alternative ways to generate power without the problems of the nuclear industry – some methods are not well known yet. Vested interests are behind the illogical push for nuclear power in Australia. With all the failed attempts to make a nuclear power automobile, aircraft, rocket engine, x-ray laser & other smaller projects, it still hasn’t dawned on some that nuclear physicists have grievously mislead humanity down the wrong path for decades, resulting in huge expenses for what has been achieved. Fortunately some industry insiders have shown their concern in public statements (b).This might be the last big chance for Australia to show it can be a clever country by NOT duplicating many nuclear countries mistakes & to show we can come up with something better without being manipulated by slick nuclear industry propaganda. But we are going to have to be on the lookout for talent to help with this huge challenge. For what it is worth, there are good ideas already available – they just need backing.
Response to ‘Nuclear power plants are not bomb factories’ (The Australian Sept 18 2010)
Perhaps Prof O’Neil should consider applying the above to his own claims.
Al Gore while he was in the White House, said:
Wasn’t he in a good position to know?
A former Sellafield director has also written (1996):
All this shows is that any likely misappropriation is just well concealed from the public.
A defence lawyer in the US Karen Silkwood case, through his investigations stated (1979):
The K. Silkwood lawyer further speaks of a little known organisation within the US federal government called the Defence Industrial Security Command which works with US industries that it believes are necessary to the national dense.
Then there is the better known pathway to India’s first nuclear device, being aided by a Canadian research reactor (a).
Prof O’Neil obviously hasn’t made any allowance for possible clandestine activity as suggested above, so Scott Ludlam’s case is still valid (b) while Prof O’Neil’s arguments are NOT strong enough.
Typical Examples of Nuclear Industry Performance that the Greens Object To
Have a look at these above examples showing obvious disregard for public health, reckless decisions in solving nuclear issues, a total lack of thought of the implications of their actions & the continuing culture of secrecy. Why wouldn’t many people object to this behaviour?
Nuclear Waste Problems are too Difficult
Prof Lowe’s comments appear to be based upon the early UK nuclear industry, with relevant points below, provided by a former Sellafield director in 1996. Prof Lowe is preferring the nuclear industry to provide logical & reasonable engineering evidence that all the waste categories can be safely dealt with. If “impossible proof” is the correct way to refer to this issue, then it is more likely because the industry is finding it “impossible” to solve the waste problems to the public’s satisfaction. The industry has been trying to find a good solution for at least 40 years. Even the French Professor, S. Balibar was doubtful about solving the waste issue adequately (j). Prof Lowe is also well aware of the IFR claims & isn’t ignoring them. More likely he doesn’t agree with them.
Then abandon nuclear power, & the above shocking expenses will be minimised. Even if we accept the new IFR plan to consume most of the existing high level wastes, there will still be a very significant waste burden to dispose of (a, b). Then there is the extra mining & processing wastes & tailings to secure or dispose of as well (c). The nuclear industry would have to be one of the most prolific waste producers ever, added to all its other disadvantages. Aren’t we supposed to be minimising our waste on this planet? The IFR cannot be the ultimate Holy Grail solution, because it will only be using the HL Waste for fuel, while the lower grades of waste will still accumulate (a).
I t seems even Harold Bolter is understating the HLW volume at approximately 360 cubic metres in 1996, where in 2004, reference (a) gives about 2,000 cubic metres.
The above unsatisfactory attempts to deal with the waste show how formidable the problem really is. Abandon nuclear power before the mess becomes excessive (a). Future generations will not be impressed when they learn smarter solutions were available all along. Government inspectors are still finding safety breaches (f, g). Why would Australians accept this obviously messy, highly expensive & inefficient form of engineering when they have become accustomed to the conventional power sources (especially gas) with relatively few problems? Our government health watchdogs are still unable to protect us from standard forms of industrial poisoning (h, i).
(a) ‘Revealed: the huge mountain of ‘unofficial’ nuclear waste…’
‘Nuclear waste gridlock looms, officials warn’
(c) https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/05/public-advocacy-nuclear-climate/#comment-81919 (# 3)
(d) http://www.rcep.org.uk/reports/06-nuclear/1976-06nuclear.pdf (still relevant today)
(j) https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/18/21c-nuclear-renaissance/#comment-92269 (quote)
Response to ‘Nuclear option deserves our most objective gaze’ by Ziggy Switkowski (a)
Again we have a pro-nuclear advocate effectively promoting his own livelihood, still implying that nuclear power is the only base-load option left & conveniently ignoring the many well documented hazards & inefficiencies of that industry. Perhaps he could tell us why more German people are now opposed to nuclear power after enduring its effects for decades (b). Recall that this is the same country that accepted their own controversial KiKK reactor health study (c) & also received some Chernobyl fallout. Maybe Ziggy can explain why many US residents decided to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant (d), & why we should have any confidence in an industry that has regularly acted irresponsibly as learned by author Stephanie Cooke (e). Will Ziggy also explain why we should use a terribly expensive & inefficient form of energy (less than 1%) when we are really supposed to be conserving our resources wherever possible. He acknowledges that the generation IV reactors won’t be online until about 2040, so LWR’s will need to continue. The Gen IV types have a whole new series of hazards anyway with the 12 tonnes of plutonium inside. Even industry insiders have warned against the risks (f, g).
Yes time has moved on, but the same old problems are still unresolved even though only two bombs were used in warfare. The proliferation risks are increasing. Why doesn’t Ziggy tell us about how reactor grade plutonium can still be used for weapons? Aren’t we supposed to be trying to phase out nuclear weapons? Nuclear power safety cannot be made foolproof according to the 1979 Kemeny Commission (h). The Sellafield processing plant has had many unacceptable accidents, clearly showing it isn’t a safe industry (i). Then get rid of the reactors. Where is the world’s first genuinely safe waste repository? Why is so much money still squandered on nuclear research while depriving other alternatives, when already there are many failures littering the scene. Why has the nuclear industry consistently mislead governments into providing still more tax dollars for their flawed technology? Whole economy’s do not rely on nuclear power outside of France, due to the low contribution it makes. Furthermore, coal power is expanding in the US (j) even though it has problems as well.
A 1978 Congressional Report stated:
Why doesn’t Ziggy also explain the large debt caused by nuclear power programs in those countries still using it? Does he want to impose a similar financial burden on Australia?
(h) http://www.threemileisland.org/downloads/188.pdf (see Overview)
[…] put the plausibility of these scenarios under the spotlight, I’ll reiterate what I said here. (These are the real-world facts as they […]
@Macchiavelli: you keep referring to Germany. For reasons that need not concern you I have forgotten more about this country than you will likely ever know.
You say that Germans are opposed to nuclear power after having endured its effects for decades.
It is true that 76% of Germans currently think, unlike the CEOs of wind/PV firms in Germany as interviewed in the leading German right-wing paper FAZ , that Germany could swap over entirely to Renewables overnight.
But then a majority of US nationals likely believe that the world started in 4,004 BC and in Lucifer as well, not to mention witches and goblins. So big deal.
Germans base their opposition to NPPs on fear and on folk memory of Chernobyl. There has not ever been any incident in Germany like TMI or Harrisburg. If you were able to read German, you could appreciate the near-panic against Nuclear whipped up by Greenpeace Germany in its newsletters to subscribers to its green power: German residents can choose their own power supplier in the deregulated market. Greenpeace insinuates that its power is PV and wind, whereas it is mainly hydro.
Note that German rhetoric against NPPs is not anti-capitalist as such, but anti- “Energiekonzerne”, a Konzern being a group of companies. So what we seem to have here is a fight within Capital of small and medium-sized Renewables firms against big groups such as E.On and RWE, which are diversified across: nuclear/wind/coal/solar.
You say that “the country” (who?) has accepted their controversial KiKK study. This is the Mainz Kinderkrebs = child cancer, study, and no, it has not been accepted by “the country.” Define your terms, please. Your chums at IPPNW have an entirely different view of it from Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz.
You say that Germany received some Chernobyl fallout: true. Germans scraped kindergarten sand out of sandboxes at the time (1986). And?
very interesting post, peter.
Response to ‘Greens must shrug off nuclear naivete’ (The Advertiser 16-09-10) (a)
Public health is far more important than heavily flawed science & economics. The nuclear industry has continued to promote itself using many false premises. The Greens are more aware of these & other complex realities experienced by populations in other countries that have endured nuclear power for decades. Many more of those people are now prepared to protest to their short-sighted governments & pro-nuclear scientist advisors (b). It has taken far too long for the unacceptable recklessness & deviousness of the industry to emerge (c,d,e,f). It’s about time critics like C. E. catch up with the shocking performance of the overseas nuclear industry. Why not be smart, & let Australia benefit from the overseas nuclear failures & show the world how it can be done better, instead of enduring the same disadvantages.
Again, monetary gain seems to be more important than health & wellbeing. There is adequate evidence today that the industry subjects many people to unacceptable effects of radiation carried by uniquely different fission products. Unfortunately, governments appear to be absolutely hopeless in truly protecting the public from those effects. They cannot deal adequately with just standard pollution. Even though radon is ‘natural’ in the mining phase, the amounts being released to the population certainly are not.
Anyway, there will likely be many more standard mineral ores located to still keep employment in the high figures, without depending just on uranium. At the very worst case, any uranium that is mined as part of other mineral deposits, should only be sold to countries who are clearly not a weapons proliferation risk, so they can continue to use their reactors while they devise safer replacements. Since the difficulties in policing this will likely be too great, the uranium should be used for other more benign applications.
While the nuclear industry has been bumbling along for over 50 years, there have been other researchers simultaneously working on alternatives. There will not be any need for this insane nuclear technology that defies so many points of common sense. Despite all the effort & expense, the current Light Water reactors cannot even deliver an over-all efficiency of more than ~1%. The highly touted IFR has a different set of disadvantages & cannot be a safe solution. The plutonium proliferation risk has not been eliminated as their supporters claim.
Peter Lalor, on 30 September 2010 at 4.59 Said:
Unfortunately, there were several studies done over many years. I am referring to the more recent ones completed in 2007. All the following links have been provided in my earlier entries. I have also stated more clearly earlier in a previous response to you which Government, so I assumed you knew about it (a).
Click to access ian-fairlie.pdf
http://www.robedwards.com/2008/05/new-evidence-of.html Not all the links are freely accessible
More Nuclear Advocates Acknowledging Problems
from Nuclear Energy & Power Dr M.S. Yadav 2007
He should know, as he assisted in one of the Canadian Chalk River accident clean-ups in the early years.
Professor Edward Teller has said (late 1970’s) of breeder reactors that:
Even the Soviet physicist Pjotr Kapiza publically acknowledged the main problems in 1975:
a) The effects on the surrounding environment (nuclear plant emissions)
b) Waste disposal
c) Proliferation concerns
The NRC also publically repudiated the US$3 million Rasmussen Reactor Safety Study of MIT, with a team of 60 experts from US universities & government, in Jan 1979. The report was a blatant attempt to counter the WASH-740 update called:
‘Theoretical Possibilities & Consequences of Major Accidents in Large Nuclear Power Plants’
It estimated a grim accident scenario for a major radioactivity release, whereas the RSS was flawed.
[…] written a little about the UAE situation in an earlier BNC post: Korea has focused attention on its APR-1400 design, with domestic overnight costs of $2,333/kW. […]