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01-05-2012, 02:43   #31
SeanW
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Originally Posted by Solair View Post
Even if we totally ignore the potential environmental impacts of nuclear power, the economics simply do not add up when you include ALL costs.
Neither renewables or fossil fuels operate without subsidy. Fossil fuels simply dump their wastes into the air for the most part, and the health costs among the people are paid for directly by the people. It never shows up on any balance sheet.

Wind farms aren't cheap either - as well as being unstable, unreliable generators, a public safety challenge and a wildlife nightmare, they also require vast subsidies, like the £1bn/year being soaked to British electricity users. Without that, these wind farms wouldn't exist and any that did, would likely be closed down.

Nuclear is the only form of generation that has to account for the bulk of the costs it imposes. Even still it frequently is shown to be economically worthwhile.

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The decommissioning costs for the UK's legacy of nuclear power is running at £73.6 billion at the moment and will probably cost a lot more than that as that estimate's coming from the industry itself and the UK Government.
It's safe to say that the UK was an early adopter of nuclear energy and had first movers disadvantage. On the topic of nuclear decommissioning, it would be better to do it the way France does (the French gov't charges a decommissioning levy on nuclear electricity sales) or the American way (the plant builder puts up a decommissioning bond at the time they apply for a license).

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Some estimates put it at more like £160 billion!!

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/bu...bn-472368.html
Including £50bn for cleaning up their Defence Forces nuclear issues, submarines, nuclear weapons etc.

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Admittedly, it's still possibly cheaper than decommissioning Anglo Irish Bank! (which is an entirely different story) but, I don't really think Ireland could afford to run a nuclear programme.
Between climate change mandates, carbon trading and suchlike, continuing business as usual will be way more expensive than using nuclear power.

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CO2 would be saved by putting those billions into say energy efficiency programmes for homes and buildings?
Already happening, to a limited extent.

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Or, lashing it into public transport in the cities?
I'm a passionate supporter of railway development in the cities, I campaigned for the Dart Underground for example because I believed and still do, that it's a very important project that will provide serious benefits to our people.

It's not going to solve global warming though.
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01-05-2012, 09:00   #32
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Long term, there's a need to look at Thorium.
Is that an admission that there may not be enough uranium to go ‘round?
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I said "almost" always.
The false dichotomy I was referring to was lovely, perfectly clean nuclear versus filthy dirty coal. The reality is far less black and white.
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Neither renewables or fossil fuels operate without subsidy.
But nuclear does?
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Fossil fuels simply dump their wastes into the air for the most part, and the health costs among the people are paid for directly by the people. It never shows up on any balance sheet.
Whereas the costs of uranium mining and processing are there for all to see?
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Wind farms aren't cheap either...
Actually they are. Really cheap:
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SEAI estimate the cost of a 5MW wind farm as €7-10 milion. This figure includes “the feasibility studies, EIS and planning application, civil and electrical engineering works, grid connection costs, plus all operating, maintenance and decommissioning costs.”
http://www.seai.ie/Renewables/Wind_E...ing_wind_farms

Ireland has about 1,400 MW of installed wind capacity, so let’s put a cost of €2 – 2.8 billion on that. Let’s give a wind farm a conservative lifetime of 20 years and a conservative average capacity factor of 25%. That gives an output of about 61 TWh over the lifetime of the entire wind system. That gives a cost per kWh in the approximate range of €0.03 – 0.05, which is pretty damn cheap.
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...as well as being unstable, unreliable generators, a public safety challenge and a wildlife nightmare...
Come off it Sean. You can’t chastise people for being irrationally fearful of nuclear power and then come out with this nonsense.
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...they also require vast subsidies, like the £1bn/year being soaked to British electricity users. Without that, these wind farms wouldn't exist and any that did, would likely be closed down.
Wind farms are subsidised to build up market share quickly and reduce dependency on fossil fuels. They are not subsidised because they are not economically viable.
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Nuclear is the only form of generation that has to account for the bulk of the costs it imposes.
What are you talking about? Every form of power generation has so-called hidden costs that are extremely difficult to quantify – if anything, the costs associated with nuclear are among the most difficult to accurately quantify, hence the scepticism surrounding its economic feasibility.
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01-05-2012, 11:25   #33
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I think we are having a discussion about something that's extremely unlikely to ever happen to be perfectly honest.

Nuclear power was contemplated in Ireland in the 1970s and early 1980s and there was absolutely massive opposition back then. That was before the Chernobyl disaster, and obviously before Fukushima Diaichi.

If anything, I think public opposition to nuclear power in Ireland would be far more galvanised than it was back then. Also, I don't think any Government would attempt to go that route as it would be political suicide.

Secondly, the economic argument for nuclear in Ireland does not really stack up.

With gas/oil/solid fuel plants, ESBI (Engineering Consultancy) and various other Irish engineering firms have major competency in building and designing plants and project managing their construction.

We also have a growing indigenous green energy sector emerging, with potential export possibilities.

With nuclear, none of those benefits would come to Ireland as the technology would be entirely imported as a turn-key plant built by Areva, GE-Hitachi, Westinghouse or whoever got the gig.

There would only be short term construction jobs in doing pretty non-technical stuff.

Once the plant was up and running, the day to day employment is not really any bigger than other types of power plant i.e. minimal.

We also do not have any known, exploitable source of nuclear fuel, so that would have to be imported and also we would not have the scale or want to have reprocessing or manufacture of fuel in Ireland so, that would probably be done by British or French firms and imported.

Then you'd have to ship all that fuel and nuclear waste by sea, as we have no possibility of moving it by rail to a reprocessing plant (as is the case in France, Germany, the UK etc)

The Irish demand for electricity is also not exactly enormous and it's quite a low density population with very little heavy industry. So, again, I don't really see where the big advantage to nuclear would come from.

We have a huge wind resource, huge potential for using things like biomass in existing peat or the couple of solid-fuel capable plants etc etc.

I'd much rather see money put into developing technology in Ireland that we can export, into insulation / energy efficiency programmes which could probably save as much power as a nuclear plant could produce, into green transport initiatives, into wind / wave / biofuel / biomass projects that are genuinely sustainable and would reduce our CO2 output without burdening us with huge decommissioning, maintenance, and other costs.
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01-05-2012, 15:19   #34
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How much of a nuclear build budget would be spent in Ireland, I know there's a lot of concrete but ....
It is my understanding that the vast bulk of a nuclear reactors' day to day cost is spent on staff wages, as opposed to fossil fuels were most of the cost is (imported) fossil fuel.

Though there would have to be some import of nuclear technology though.

The main cost that I've heard of is interest.... On the loans needed to pay for the plant..(and we're having slight difficulty borrowing at the moment) which is why the cost and time overruns are so important.. I don't think any private company is building a reactor anywhere,or even planning one.... The last time was the in the states during the 70's I think....
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03-05-2012, 00:27   #35
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Is that an admission that there may not be enough uranium to go ‘round?
No, not being an expert in the field I have no idea how much uranium there is. I do know:
  1. Eamon Ryan, who was our former minister for ... something or another ... scuttled two licenses for uranium exploration in Donegal. So for other environmentalists to say "we don't have any uranium" is like starving the horse and then killing it because it can't pull.
  2. Some countries, mainly the U.S. waste fuel by not reprocessing spent fuel. A lot of what is currently considered "waste" could be reused in some fashion.
  3. Thorium is another option. I imagine that the Indians will crack it eventually, if not someone else first.
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The false dichotomy I was referring to was lovely, perfectly clean nuclear versus filthy dirty coal. The reality is far less black and white.
Perhaps, but not by much.

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But nuclear does?
Renewables have to be subsidised. Fossil fuels spew huge amounts of crap into the air. Nuclear accounts for far more of its costs because its power stations don't pollute and the industry has to (somehow) take care of its waste instead of simply dumping it into the air, and our lungs.

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Whereas the costs of uranium mining and processing are there for all to see?
Most of them have to be, as they factor into the cost of nuclear fuel.

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Actually they are. Really cheap:
Great. I'll believe it when they're not subsidised anymore.

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What are you talking about? Every form of power generation has so-called hidden costs that are extremely difficult to quantify – if anything, the costs associated with nuclear are among the most difficult to accurately quantify, hence the scepticism surrounding its economic feasibility.
With coal etc it's something of a challenge to quantify the hidden costs, all that CO2, SO2 and NoX, arsenic, merucry, radiation and particulate matter have to be linked, by estimates only, to the increased destruction of acid rain, climate change (allegedly), cancers, lung ailments etc that we all know they cause, just can't be sure how much.

The nuclear energy sector on the other hand has power plants that do not pollute and whose wastes are contained, and must be cared for.
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03-05-2012, 11:25   #36
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No, not being an expert in the field I have no idea how much uranium there is.
Ok then. So given that you have no idea how much fuel is readily available, how can you say with such confidence that Ireland (and other countries too, presumably) should be going nuclear? We have no idea what the long-term cost will be?
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Nuclear accounts for far more of its costs because its power stations don't pollute...
You keep saying this and I keep pointing out to you that uranium mining and processing is a pretty dirty business.
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Most of them have to be, as they factor into the cost of nuclear fuel.
I was referring to the environmental cost.
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Great. I'll believe it when they're not subsidised anymore.
In other words, it doesn't matter what figures are put in front of you, you will continue to believe nuclear is awesome and wind is pants.
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The nuclear energy sector on the other hand has power plants that do not pollute and whose wastes are contained, and must be cared for.
Cared for for how long?
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03-05-2012, 12:06   #37
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Ok then. So given that you have no idea how much fuel is readily available, how can you say with such confidence that Ireland (and other countries too, presumably) should be going nuclear? We have no idea what the long-term cost will be?
You keep saying this and I keep pointing out to you that uranium mining and processing is a pretty dirty business.
I was referring to the environmental cost.
In other words, it doesn't matter what figures are put in front of you, you will continue to believe nuclear is awesome and wind is pants.
Cared for for how long?
The worrying bit is that it needs to be stored securely for periods of time that are longer than any human civilization has existed for thus far!

There could be some nasty shocks if a future archaeologist without knowledge of the 20th / 21st century's technology were to dig a waste dump up without realizing what it is e.g. thinking it was some kind of buried treasure / object of cultural significance etc.

Or, more likely, that storage / waste dumps simply deteriorate over centuries as people have forgotten how dangerous the technology involved was.

Last edited by Solair; 03-05-2012 at 12:25.
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04-05-2012, 22:14   #38
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Ok then. So given that you have no idea how much fuel is readily available, how can you say with such confidence that Ireland (and other countries too, presumably) should be going nuclear? We have no idea what the long-term cost will be?
  1. I'm sort of confident there's enough uranium to go around for a generation or so, especially if our government had allowed those energy companies to explore for uranium in Donegal, Ireland may even have a domestic supply.
  2. Uranium storage is a trivial matter, Ireland could easily build a strategic reserve today to last 30 years or so. This is not like fossil fuels where coal is too large by volume, oil, yes, for a short time with great engineering complexity, or gas, which cannot reasonably be stored at all. And of course renewable energy where we're literally at the mercy of the weather.
  3. If there's a need for more uranium, I know how to get it: more mining, plus reprocessing of American (etc) "waste."
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In other words, it doesn't matter what figures are put in front of you, you will continue to believe nuclear is awesome and wind is pants.
You seem to be unaware of how the free market works: when investors smell profit in something, they're all over it like maggots and flies on a dog dropping. If the economic case for wind energy was as uncontestable as you say, then there would be no need for subsidies. Hence I stand over my claim that "I'll believe it when the subsidies are gone."

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Cared for for how long?
Depends on what you're dealing with and how it's dealt with.

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Originally Posted by Solair
The worrying bit is that it needs to be stored securely for periods of time that are longer than any human civilization has existed for thus far!

There could be some nasty shocks if a future archaeologist without knowledge of the 20th / 21st century's technology were to dig a waste dump up without realizing what it is e.g. thinking it was some kind of buried treasure / object of cultural significance etc.

Or, more likely, that storage / waste dumps simply deteriorate over centuries as people have forgotten how dangerous the technology involved was.
  1. I favour a solution of reprocessing so-called "waste" fuel, and burying the transuranic elements so deep that noone will ever find them. I for one would like the issue of subduction zone burial to be reexamined.
  2. Record keeping in our generation is much more extensive than what was in millenia past: we don't know how they built the pyramids, but 5000 years from know our descendants will probably be able to know how the Titanic was designed, how we built our houses, ran our hospitals, what we ate, drank etc.
  3. Radiation will always be with us - and likely so too will its imagery. Consider if you were an X-Ray technician, but you had never heard of nuclear power. Now consider that you 'found' a nuclear waste dump from generations past, festooned with radiation symbols. Chances are you would know - "if I don't know what I'm doing, I'd better get the hell out of here!"

Last edited by SeanW; 04-05-2012 at 22:16.
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06-05-2012, 10:47   #39
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Well assume society fell apart, you could have quite low tech exploring of waste dumps.

The radiation warning symbols would be utterly meaningless if you'd never seen one before.

You could think it's a pretty design, a picture of a flower, a religious symbol of some sort, a corporate brand etc etc

Our records are also largely electronic so, in a few thousand years, should society collapse or move on, the technology to read them would quite likely not exist.

We already struggle to read 1980s electronic media!
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06-05-2012, 16:04   #40
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The radiation warning symbols would be utterly meaningless if you'd never seen one before.

You could think it's a pretty design, a picture of a flower, a religious symbol of some sort, a corporate brand etc etc
If you take this uber-pessimistic view then we already have problems: high level waste is already generated worldwide because of life-expired X-Ray machines and the like - this too will have to be cared for and/or eventually disposed of in some secure, eternally safe fashion. If we screw this up, not having used nuclear power won't save those future archaeologists that you are legitimately concerned about.

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Our records are also largely electronic so, in a few thousand years, should society collapse or move on, the technology to read them would quite likely not exist.

We already struggle to read 1980s electronic media!
We still print an awful lot though!

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Well assume society fell apart, you could have quite low tech exploring of waste dumps.
My favoured disposal option is some class of very deep (several miles deep) disposal. In fact, my choice would be subduction zone burial.

Your fear is somewhat unwarranted therefore, if the waste were buried deep enough that noone would ever find it unless they knew what they were looking for, chances are that "low tech exploration" of waste dumps miles underground, or better still, halfway down an oceanic subduction fault, is pretty unlikely.

I could be wrong on this but from what I understand, if you reprocess spent fuel, the trans-uranic elements left over from each cycle have short enough half lives, e.g. 200 years or so. Hence, a good burial solution would be more than adequate for much of it.

Last edited by SeanW; 06-05-2012 at 16:12.
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06-05-2012, 21:32   #41
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If you take this uber-pessimistic view then we already have problems: high level waste is already generated worldwide because of life-expired X-Ray machines and the like - this too will have to be cared for and/or eventually disposed of in some secure, eternally safe fashion. If we screw this up, not having used nuclear power won't save those future archaeologists that you are legitimately concerned about.
X-rays are produced by an X-ray tube, there is no radioactive source involved at all and absolutely no issue with disposal of machines afterwards. They're no more radioactive than television!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-ray_tube

The vast majority of radiotherapy is done with Linear Accelerators, again, requiring no radioactive source, as in general they are accelerating a stream of electrons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_...le_accelerator

There are some radiative sources used in medicine, but not all that many and mostly they have very short half lives, the majority being hours, the longest being about 37 years.

They're nothing compared to what's used in nuclear power or weapons production!
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06-05-2012, 23:01   #42
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Spotted the thread.

On the amount of Uranium left:
from Scientific American article here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...-deposits-last
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According to the NEA, identified uranium resources total 5.5 million metric tons, and an additional 10.5 million metric tons remain undiscovered—a roughly 230-year supply at today's consumption rate in total. Further exploration and improvements in extraction technology are likely to at least double this estimate over time.

Using more enrichment work could reduce the uranium needs of LWRs by as much as 30 percent per metric ton of LEU. And separating plutonium and uranium from spent LEU and using them to make fresh fuel could reduce requirements by another 30 percent. Taking both steps would cut the uranium requirements of an LWR in half.
So at current rates that's 200+ years without taking into account technological advances and the use of thorium reactors. I'm not sure do those numbers include nuclear weapons stockpiles - they're another source that could be pushed for.
Plenty of time to develop fusion.

I think India are using thorium because they have large thorium deposits - probably the largest in the world.

Last edited by Gbear; 06-05-2012 at 23:03.
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07-05-2012, 10:05   #43
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You seem to be unaware of how the free market works: when investors smell profit in something, they're all over it like maggots and flies on a dog dropping. If the economic case for wind energy was as uncontestable as you say, then there would be no need for subsidies. Hence I stand over my claim that "I'll believe it when the subsidies are gone."
And yet you're convinced by the economic case for nuclear? That's a double-standard.
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07-05-2012, 11:34   #44
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This thread is why I hate the Irish debating nuclear energy.
We have had the collapse of society as a reason not for nuclear energy but nobody has talked about Thorium
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/c...h-thorium.html
Thorium is very common
It produces a molton salt that has a shorter half life the other by-produces
It can use other nuclear waste
It can be turned off instantly unlike the current nuclear power source
Its power plants are must smaller.
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07-05-2012, 15:23   #45
djpbarry
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This thread is why I hate the Irish debating nuclear energy.
We have had the collapse of society as a reason not for nuclear energy but nobody has talked about Thorium
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/c...h-thorium.html
Thorium is very common
It produces a molton salt that has a shorter half life the other by-produces
It can use other nuclear waste
It can be turned off instantly unlike the current nuclear power source
Its power plants are must smaller.
But, unfortunately, there is not a single thorium reactor in commercial use anywhere in the world (as far as I'm aware).

Thorium always comes up in these threads, but the above fact is consistently over-looked.
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