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Should we go Nuclear?

  • 12-10-2009 12:55pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 6,093 ✭✭✭ Amtmann


    I'm not au fait with power grids and energy generally, but I think this is worthy of serious discussion. So, I'm putting up a poll. Should Ireland go nuclear, as in, should we built nuclear power plants here? What are the pros, and what are the cons? How safe is it? How dangerous is it? What would it cost us, and what would it save? If we committed 100% to renewable energy, would wind and wave vitiate the need for nuclear power, or do we just need to get real? Feel free to pin your colours to the mast and debate away to your hearts' content.

    Should Ireland go Nuclear? 72 votes

    No, we should not countenance going nuclear.
    0% 0 votes
    Yes, I think we should.
    100% 72 votes


«13456712

Comments

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 6,367 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Macha


    There are a few key questions to ask with nuclear:

    - cost: from extraction of materials right through to decommissioning of plants
    - carbon footprint: similar to wind energy, according to a recent article in 'The Environmentalist'.
    - other environmental impacts: water, damage caused by uranium mining etc
    - lead in times: I've seen the figure of 10 years lead-in for a new reactor
    - waste: what exactly do we do with it?
    - new technologies: we're currently at generation III+ reactors. What is coming down the line?

    I'm a Green and pretty agnostic when it comes to nuclear. It remains to be seen whether demand management and other smart grid technologies, along with forms of energy storage or the supergrid (or a combination of all three) will allow us to achieve 100% renewables. If not, a baseload will be required and I would rather nuclear to fossil fuels.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,304 ✭✭✭ serfboard


    I'm going to be a typical Irish hypocrite and say no for one reason:
    taconnol wrote: »
    waste: what exactly do we do with it?

    The hypocrisy comes from the fact that I will quite happily use electricity generated "beyond in England" (or anywhere else) that may be generated by nuclear (so long as I don't have to know about it). This includes energy generated by Sellafield which <allegedly>pours its waste into the Irish Sea</allegedly>.

    Similar to our views on abortion (sorry, to bring it up, but its the same mentality). "Down with that sort of thing" - but sure we don't have to worry about it, a Ryanair flight solves that little messy problem.

    The best thing for us would be if they built one up t'Nort. That way, we could use it, but still be outraged that it is being built. North Antrim would be the best bet ... it can spill its waste over to the Scots ...

    Anyway lads, Spirit Of Ireland is going to sort us all out ...


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    Build it at Wylfa after it shuts down next year if you intend to build one anywhere . Let the locals manage the fuel cycle and decommissioning like they always did.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,549 Noffles


    Sponge Bob wrote: »
    Build it at Wylfa after it shuts down next year if you intend to build one anywhere . Let the locals manage the fuel cycle and decommissioning like they always did.

    I live a few miles form Wylfa and could not agree more with you, building it will provide hundreds of jobs and it'll secure the power for years and years... =)


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    Tell the lads in Wylfa to PM me an outline proposal anytime and I will clean it up presentationally for them .

    Don't forget our energy minister is a slimy dishonest green waffler though :(


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,468 BluntGuy


    As someone with a background in physics who actually understands how nuclear power works: NO.

    Nuclear power, as much as people like to present it as "safe", is as unsafe a power source you can get. Yes, we're getting desperate and scrambling for energy resources, but until someone builds a working fusion reactor, this option should be off the cards.

    (Fission) Nuclear waste has an enormous half-life. It can take up to 10,000 years (or much longer) for it to reduce its radioactivity by a factor of 2. Waste that was dumped into the sea (in a "secure" container) less than 50 years ago has already leaked. Somebody tell me how we plan to keep this waste from leaking for 10000-20000 years?

    Nuclear energy is something that has potential, but not in its present form. We should boost research on trying to find a viable fusion reactor and go with whatever forms of green energy we can in the meantime. Now I'm not going to sit here and lie to you and say fusion is perfect. We don't know yet how much radioactivity would be released on a small-scale in a hypothetical workplace. But we do know that with fusion is zero chance of a runaway reaction, or large-scale release of radioactivity into the environment. The reason? Well, that's a little complicated, but it's to do with the specific level of pressure, the magnetic field and of course temperature required to actual generate the energy.

    But yes, I don't believe fission is safe. It only takes a mass of a several kg of radioactive material to start a chain reaction, and once that starts, it's over. We shouldn't consider it. It isn't safe, we don't have the nuclear expertise, and we have an array of the other options we can consider first.

    Wind, tidal, offshore... they're all there waiting to be exploited and researached.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    BluntGuy wrote: »
    (Fission) Nuclear waste has an enormous half-life. It can take up to 10,000 years (or much longer) for it to reduce its radioactivity by a factor of 2. Waste that was dumped into the sea (in a "secure" container) less than 50 years ago has already leaked. Somebody tell me how we plan to keep this waste from leaking for 10000-20000 years?

    Your argument was correct in 1950 ....before the UK came up with the Magnox reactor design that was crap at producing electricity but good at producing fissile material for bombs as a side effect .

    However most UK nuclear waste was generated between 1950 and 1980 . Any incremental waste added by commissioning a new plant is tiny in the overall scale of things compared to the tonnage of cack already generated.

    Furthermore 'dead stopping' the UK Nuclear complex makes matters more dangerous, you remove the expertise to deal with the enormous piles already in siitu and you increase the chances of leaks and releases.

    Like it or not Sellafield wil have to be kept operational for many 100s of years before the waste there cools down and is locked into glass balls for the next 10000-20000 years in secure storage that is not yet built .

    Finally , having a new generation of nuclear power plants between now and 2040 only adds 30 years to the decomposition timescale of 10000 - 20000 years .

    WE do not have nuclear expertise, the staff at Wylfa, 70 miles from Dublin do !!!
    Wind, tidal, offshore... they're all there waiting to be exploited and researached.

    And we are still 30 years away from using them for baseload . Moneypoint is life expired in 10 years .


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,468 BluntGuy


    Sponge Bob wrote: »
    Your argument was correct in 1950 ....before the UK came up with the Magnox reactor design that was crap at producing electricity but good at producing fissile material for bombs as a side effect .

    The oudated magnox design may have been safer (at the expense of thermal efficiency, and thus power generation, as you mention), but it still produces waste with dangerous levels of radioactivity and enormous half-life. All subsequent designs such as the AGR or ABWR are exactly the same in that regard. In fact, in spite of the improved containment features, the higher temperatures would make any such disaster occuring from a leak or cooling system malfunction exponentially worse than the magnox design.

    In other words: better containment features, more efficiency... but bigger diaster if things go wrong.
    However most UK nuclear waste was generated between 1950 and 1980 . Any incremental waste added by commissioning a new plant is tiny in the overall scale of things compared to the tonnage of cack already generated.

    The amount of waste produced is decreasing with improved uranium-recycling and enrichment technology, but I'm afraid any new waste is still significant, and will still have the same storage problems. Also, you can't forget that it isn't just material created in the reactor that poses a threat. I'm sure you know about how neutron radiation can actually make material adjacent to the reactor radioactive in itself. That *also* needs to be dealt with.
    Furthermore 'dead stopping' the UK Nuclear complex makes matters more dangerous, you remove the expertise to deal with the enormous piles already in siitu and you increase the chances of leaks and releases.

    I wouldn't suggest a 'dead stop' either... nuclear waste-management is and will be needed for decades and centuries to come. And whenever fusion becomes viable, we will need those skillsets to deal with the waste from that. But, maintaining expertise does not equate to a new Generation IV power station plan.
    Like it or not Sellafield wil have to be kept operational for many 100s of years before the waste there cools down and is locked into glass balls for the next 10000-20000 years in secure storage that is not yet built .

    Perhaps in 100s of years a storage solution will actually exist to keep nuclear waste from leaking. At present there is none, so I don't think going down the nuclear fission road is the correct idea.
    Finally , having a new generation of nuclear power plants between now and 2040 only adds 30 years to the decomposition timescale of 10000 - 20000 years .

    It also adds more opportunity for things to go catastrophically wrong.
    WE do not have nuclear expertise, the staff at Wylfa, 70 miles from Dublin do !!!

    They can keep their bloody expertise... we don't need it. :D
    And we are still 30 years away from using them for baseload . Moneypoint is life expired in 10 years .

    We are also still 30 years away from the so-called "safe" Generation IV power plants, and possibly 40,50 + from fusion reactors.

    On that basis, green power is the best option for now. It is more expensive, but hey, maybe it's time we became a little bit less obsessed about money, and more for our planet's future.

    Fusion is the revolution we're waiting for though. :(


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 61,031 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011


    serfboard wrote: »
    This includes energy generated by Sellafield which <allegedly>pours its waste into the Irish Sea</allegedly>

    Sellafield is a reprocessing plant. It hasn't generated nuclear power since 2003!

    There is a natural gas powered station in Seascale but its realistically just powering the reprocessing plant.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,093 ✭✭✭ Amtmann


    Okay. I'm being swayed to the 'no' camp by BluntGuy. But as someone who is genuinely clueless about nuclear power, can someone tell me why countries with good environmental track records have opted for nuclear energy?


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 6,367 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Macha


    Furet wrote: »
    Okay. I'm being swayed to the 'no' camp by BluntGuy. But as someone who is genuinely clueless about nuclear power, can someone tell me why countries with good environmental track records have opted for nuclear energy?
    Ahem Sweden :D I guess because it provides them with the baseload to ramp up their renewables. They did have a referendum in 1980 to get rid of nuclear but never did anything about it, probably because the technology wasn't there to compensate eg demand management etc.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    BluntGuy wrote: »
    We are also still 30 years away from the so-called "safe" Generation IV power plants, and possibly 40,50 + from fusion reactors.

    On that basis, green power is the best option for now. It is more expensive, but hey, maybe it's time we became a little bit less obsessed about money, and more for our planet's future.

    30 - 40 years is the lifetime of a single plant . We need to organise baseload now for that time period .

    We have the choice of building another coal fired Moneypoint too. Texan coal will give better fuel security than gas ever will but scrubbing the carbon out is not an option and will not be for another 10 years . Ironically Moneypoint emits more radioactivity in Clare than Wylfa does in Anglesea :D

    Renewables cannot supply baseload EITHER ...not for 30 or 40 years .

    But we need a 1gw baseload producer that is NOT gas and in 10 years.

    Coal or Nuclear will do this , I don't care which !


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    Please read the Bene Group Report to the Oireachtas last week .

    http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/committees30thdail/j-climate_change/submissions/Ben20091002.doc
    [FONT=&quot]SUBMISSION OF THE BENE GROUP [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]TO THE JOINT COMMITTEE [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY SECURITY[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]PART 1[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Chairman and members,[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]We wish to thank the Joint Committee for giving BENE the opportunity to put before you our considered view that nuclear power has a vital contribution to make to Ireland’s future energy needs.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]BENE is a voluntary group of people with some accumulated expertise in energy matters, and in particular nuclear energy. However, we want to stress that we are not starry-eyed nuclear enthusiasts who are oblivious of the concerns which some people have about this technology. Rather we see nuclear power as analogous to a medicine, which may not be very palatable, but which it is vital to take in the interests of health and well-being. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]We would now like to show you why we believe nuclear power is essential to Ireland’s future well-being, and why we believe the objections to its use can be satisfactorily addressed.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The reason why we will need nuclear power is very simple. It centres on how we generate our baseload electricity i.e. that part of our electricity supply which is needed all the time, day and night, winter and summer. This cannot be supplied by wind, because of its unpredictability. At present the major source of our baseload electricity is the coal-burning station at Moneypoint. But Moneypoint emits some 6 million tonnes of CO2 per year, and it is accepted that because of this it cannot continue to operate as at present for more than about another decade. And of course replacing coal with oil or gas would lead to an escalation in the cost of electricity with only a modest reduction in CO2 emissions.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]So a carbon-free cost-effective source of electricity must be found to replace coal at Moneypoint in ten years time. It is an incontrovertible fact that the only proven, available and virtually carbon-free source of baseload electricity is nuclear power. So BENE is suggesting that the ideal replacement for the coal plant at Moneypoint is a nuclear plant.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]But will nuclear energy be prohibitively expensive? No, we don’t believe it will, and authoritative data from the OECD confirm that nuclear power is highly competitive in cost. These costings take full account of the cost of waste disposal and plant decommissioning. Based on oil prices much lower than those recently prevailing, the cost of a unit of electricity generated from nuclear power was on a par with that from coal, cheaper than gas or oil, half the cost of onshore wind and one-third the cost of offshore wind. As the price of oil increases, the economics of nuclear get better and better.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]We believe that nuclear power achieves a very high standard of safety. An accident like that at Chernobyl could not occur in a reactor of any of the designs used in OECD countries. Modern designs are evolving in the direction of higher and higher levels of intrinsic safety.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]A solution exists to the problem of ultimate disposal of the high-level radioactive waste from a nuclear reactor. This is deep disposal in a geologically stable rock formation, following some decades of storage above ground to allow initial radioactive decay and dissipation of heat.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Supplies of nuclear fuel are plentiful and secure. The price of uranium is only a minor factor in the cost of nuclear-generated electricity, and availability of uranium supply would not be a problem within the lifetime of an Irish nuclear power plant in the 21st century. Under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership currently being developed, it is to be expected that Ireland will obtain nuclear fuel from a supplier in one of the countries with a large nuclear power programme, and return the spent fuel to the same supplier.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]It is often claimed that a nuclear power plant would be too large for the Irish grid. This is not the case. Reactors rated 1000MW or less are commercially available, and would certainly not be too large for the All-Island Grid, which is projected to have installed capacity of some 10,000MW by 2018, the earliest date by which a NPP could be expected to be commissioned.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]This is not to ignore the fact that there are already issues around the incorporation into the grid of large amounts of wind energy with various types of fossil fuel plants, and that the introduction of a nuclear plant would add a further element of complexity to this mix. This only serves to highlight how unfortunate it has been that in the recently-completed All-Island Grid Study the possibility of inclusion of a nuclear plant was not even considered, presumably in consequence of the statutory prohibition on nuclear power.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]BENE is of the view that this prohibition seriously compromises any possibility of a balanced and unprejudiced appraisal of the real energy options available to the country in the very exacting economic scenario which is ahead of us. It greatly unbalances the debate which the Minister has called for. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]We would therefore strongly urge that you would recommend, without prejudice to any decision as to whether nuclear power be adopted or not, the repeal of this provision, if only in the interests of unbiased consideration of all our energy options.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Competitiveness, sustainability and security of supply have to be the key drivers of Irish energy policy. For all of these we need sources of energy which are affordable, reliable and as far as possible carbon-free. Nuclear power is one source which meets all of these requirements, as evidenced by its increasing adoption by many advanced countries. Especially now, in the light of the economic and political pressure this country is going to be under to reduce our carbon emissions by every means possible, to spurn totally, and with the force of legal prohibition, a proven means of doing so, which is in widespread use by many countries, seems foolhardy in the extreme.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]We therefore also urge you to recommend that the Minister establish a highly qualified Expert Group to advise him on the technical, economic and environmental issues surrounding the potential use of nuclear power on the island of Ireland.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Thank you very much for your attention.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]PART 2[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Climate Change, Energy Security and the Economy[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Among the Terms of Reference for this Committee is the requirement to consider the key measures needed to meet the proposed EU 2020 climate change targets and to consider the levels of power supply which can be generated from renewables or other new power supplies. This is a very difficult and complex task. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Because of the huge costs and long lead times involved, it is of vital importance that Ireland makes the right energy policy decisions. The quality of life for our people is dependant on our having a reliable and affordable energy supply that causes the least harm to the environment.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]We would like to share with you our understanding of the current national and international thinking, with particular emphasis on electricity generation.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]It is useful to set out the climate change impact of the various popular fuels used to generate electricity. The table here shows that there are four fuel types that stand out from the rest. These are clean coal, hydro, wind and nuclear, and it is clear to the international community that the answer to climate change lies in some combination of these four fuels. The optimum mix of fuels varies for each country or region depending on their particular circumstances.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]There is some hope that clean coal will become technically possible in 10 to 15 years time. However, it is expected that there will be a severe financial penalty to pay for this technology if it ever comes about. And there are the political and social problems of running pipes carrying CO2 gas across the countryside, and of burying this gas where it must stay for eternity. Because of the uncertainties surrounding clean coal and its use in Ireland, it may not be wise to depend on this technology. However, it should be kept under consideration as the technology develops. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Hydro is almost completely harnessed already in Ireland, and, apart from ensuring that we use the resource well, there is little more it can offer us. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Before considering nuclear energy, which has remained largely unexplored here for the past 30 years or so, we should examine the potential of wind energy in Ireland. After all, if wind could satisfy all our requirements, why would anyone even consider nuclear energy as an option?[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Ireland[/FONT][FONT=&quot] is well situated to take advantage of wind and wave energy and wind, in particular, will play an important role in reducing our CO2 emissions. It is important that we make the best use of this natural resource. Because wind is such an abundant, clean and free renewable fuel, the temptation is to assume that it can also solve our energy security problems while providing a cheap source of electricity. Sadly, this is not the case.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The All Island Grid Study is the most authoritative study on the potential of wind energy in Ireland. You will be aware that it concludes that installing 6000 MW of wind on the system could generate up to 42% of Ireland’s electricity needs and reduce our related CO2 emissions by 25%.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]However, the Study also flags many serious warnings associated with fulfilling this potential, but many commentators have paid scant regard to these warnings. In particular, it warns that the “benefits of renewable electricity generation may be lower than estimated and some associated costs are likely to be higher than estimated by this study. There is a risk that, due to the limitations of the models used, curtailment of … wind, at times of low demand has been underestimated significantly. The effect of such an underestimate is to overstate the CO2, fuel usage and cost benefits of renewable generation and to underestimate the cost of renewable support payments required.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Study also calls for many other complementary actions:[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]the transmission network development required is extensive[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]the distribution network development to connect renewable generation is at least as ambitious[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]costs associated with the incremental 500MW of interconnector capacity are not included[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]the installation of flexibly dispatchable plant must be effectively incentivised so as to maintain adequate levels of system security [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]mechanisms such as capacity payments and/or ancillary service payments will be required to supplement the energy market income of all generators to ensure they remain in business[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]there are uncertainties with some risk that the additional cost could be significantly higher.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Study ends by saying that: “The limitations of the study may mean that, on further analysis it is found that the benefits are not as great as indicated and the costs are higher. Finally, the benefits will not be achieved without the complementary actions listed above being addressed.”[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]This table from a Royal Academy of Engineering 2004 report on the cost of power generation also shows that wind is not the optimum solution from a cost perspective. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]So, there is clearly a need for further study on the economics of renewable energy before we commit to its large-scale development. This does not appear to have been recognised by some commentators. However, it is vital that the work is done if we are to remain competitive internationally. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Secondly, how does wind do when it comes to energy security? Again, we can look to the Irish experts in this field for their considered analysis. EirGrid’s opinion is that wind energy in Ireland is not terribly good for energy security. For instance, they say that 4000 MW of wind capacity provides only the equivalent energy security as a 400 MW fossil-fired plant. The concept is called the Capacity Credit of Wind, and is slightly complicated, but the figure and table below from the EirGrid Generation Adequacy Report 2008-2014 may help outline the point. It shows that the capacity credit of wind increases only slightly even with large additional increases in the amount of wind on the system.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The All Island Grid Study has this to say about energy security: “Within the assumptions and limitations of the methodologies applied, the examined portfolio with 8 GW of wind installed is not a feasible option. Both the dispatch and network study showed severe reliability problems.” It says that “such a portfolio has to be considered more or less speculative.”[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]So, the studies show that wind energy, while it is good for climate change, will not help us meet our energy security requirements, and there are serious doubts over its cost-effectiveness. There are also concerns about the true extent of the reductions in CO2 available. We wish this were not the case, but the facts are plain to see.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Most countries are increasing their Renewable Energy targets by a reasonable amount consistent with the limitations already described. However, nobody is considering the type of increases that Ireland is currently considering due to these same limitations. It is not just because their wind regime is not as good as ours, but it is for these same technical limitations as described.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]This is why nuclear power is an option that is increasingly being implemented internationally. Nuclear power is the cheapest, most reliable and cleanest source of bulk electricity that is available from a proven technology.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]This surprises many people who have not studied the matter in detail. However, the figures for nuclear quoted throughout include for all the life-cycle costs involved in the nuclear process, all the way from mining through fuel fabrication and usage and including spent fuel storage and decommissioning of the plant.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]This final table summarises the positions of all the fuels.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]We recommend extreme caution in drawing firm conclusions from the All Island Grid Study under the qualified climate-change advantages of high levels of penetration of wind-generated electricity on to the grid: these should be weighed against the very clear financial disadvantages. We propose a safer option of a lower level of wind penetration (in keeping with best present practice) together with nuclear power.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Submitted on behalf of the BENE group proposing a Better Environment with Nuclear Energy:[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Denis Duff[/FONT][FONT=&quot] B.E. [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Is a mechanical engineer currently working in the power generation sector. He has wide experience of different electrical generation systems. He was the lead engineer of an evaluation project on wind energy converters. He also commissioned a solid fuel station and is a manager at a combined cycle gas turbine station.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Ian McAulay [/FONT][FONT=&quot]M.A., Ph.D., F.Inst. P. [/FONT][FONT=&quot]He has a background in health physics and has been extensively involved in measurements of radioactivity in the environment and in radiation protection. He was heavily involved in the nuclear debate thirty years ago and at that time was one of the Irish scientists trying to correct imbalances in the media coverage.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Jim Morrissey [/FONT][FONT=&quot]He is a former research technician with experience in both nuclear and hydrogen laboratories. He worked in high temperature and high pressure materials testing where he shares a patent on hydrogen storage systems. He has extensive experience in data acquisition and measurement techniques. His final five years in research was in a nuclear medical project. He is a graduate of the MII and has experience of management in Ireland's manufacturing sector.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Máire Morrissey-Cummins[/FONT][FONT=&quot] is the Secretary of BENE[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Tom O’Flaherty[/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]A Chartered Engineer, he is the former Chief Executive of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland and of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (formerly the Institution of Electrical Engineers). In his earlier career he worked on wind energy, energy conservation, heat pumps, and oil and gas exploration. While with An Foras Taluntais (now Teagasc) in the 1980s he had responsibility for Ireland's first EU-funded Demonstration Project on wind energy.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]David Sowby[/FONT][FONT=&quot] M.D., F.S.R.P. [/FONT][FONT=&quot]He studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin and at the University of Toronto. After some years in clinical medicine he began a career in radiation protection, first in Canada and then as Scientific Secretary of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]John Stafford[/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]A fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and has had extensive business experience nationally and internationally.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Frank Turvey[/FONT][FONT=&quot] C. Eng., F.I.E.I., F.I.A.E., F.I.Nuc.E., F.I.Inst.P. [/FONT][FONT=&quot]A Chartered Engineer with some 50 years experience in marine, mechanical and nuclear engineering and also in radiological protection and nuclear safety.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Philip Walton[/FONT][FONT=&quot] Ph.D., C.Eng., F.I.E.T., C.Phys., F.Inst. P. [/FONT][FONT=&quot]He received his degrees in physics from Trinity College Dublin. He then worked in the Department of Clinical Physics and Bioengineering (WRHB, Glasgow, Scotland). In 1968 he joined the Medical College of Virginia, USA, where he was Chairman of the Radiation Physics Division. In 1978 he became Professor of Applied Physics at NUI, Galway. He retired in 2005 and is now Emeritus Professor. He served for seven years on the Board of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Peter White[/FONT][FONT=&quot] is a public affairs consultant.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,468 BluntGuy


    I've actually read that report before, and it does put across some convincing arguments (albeit, all based on costings).
    An accident like that at Chernobyl could not occur in a reactor of any of the designs used in OECD countries.

    Indeed it couldn't. But Chernobyl was a very specific type of accident. The cooling systems used in modern reactors would prevent it. Doesn't mean an accident with similar consequences couldn't occur.
    Competitiveness, sustainability and security of supply have to be the key drivers of Irish energy policy. For all of these we need sources of energy which are affordable, reliable and as far as possible carbon-free.

    But when things go wrong and a catastrophe occurs, suddenly competitiveness, sustainability and security don't matter.

    For all its flaws and costings, wind (along with the other "green" alternatives) is still the better option. Nuclear only seems attractive because of its price. It is the wrong path to pick...

    I would take an iterim coal solution while renewables are further developed, over a nuclear solution which could have long-lasting and devestating effects.

    There is room for nuclear in the world, but only when it is at an acceptable safety level. That can only happen with fusion.

    I'm afraid if the world wants energy security, it'll have to pay for it. Short-term cheap 'n' easy solutions don't work.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 865 Purple Gorilla


    What is Ireland's totally energy consumption?
    Could we not just do what they do in Virginia with the Bath County Station and dot a few Pumped Storage stations around the country. The Bath County storage stations provides 2.7 gigawatts of power and has a 265 acre Upper Reservoir and a 555 acre lower reservoir.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    BluntGuy wrote: »
    I would take an interim coal solution while renewables are further developed, over a nuclear solution which could have long-lasting and devestating effects.

    That is fine with me . What we need is a streamlined decision making process that sets out the options , Nuclear in Wylfa vs Coal ( possibly in Moneypoint again)

    The difference between Moneypoint ( now) and Nuclear is 6m Tons of CO2 a year .

    The Difference between Moneypoint ( now ) and Moneypoint ( new) is maybe 5m tons a year , automatic carbon removal (sequestration) is very experimental and not scaled up. We would not get much of a reduction from a new plant .

    I would remind people that Ireland is PARTICULARLY at risk from sea level rises ...if they happen. Dublin Galway Limerick Waterford Belfast Derry ....and Cork are all at or near current sea levels and they are our major cities .

    A 3m rise in sea level will have the SAME effect on Dublin as a Nuclear Fallout would ....ie abandoment . If we all lived in Athlone and Mullingar we could be more sanguine about these things !!


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,665 ✭✭✭✭ JPA


    I thought I read before that one nuclear power plant would generate enough power for all of Ireland. Is that right or wrong?


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    Plants are divided into units , a typical modern Nuke is a UNIT that does about 1200MW or 1.2GW where Ireland needs 5GW at peak. We only need one .

    A single PLANT with 4 UNITS could theoretically do all of Ireland , eg Flamanville .

    The power lines outside the back door would be seriously ugly , just though I would mention that :D

    flamanville_24-19a40.jpg


  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 31,250 Mod ✭✭✭✭ dolanbaker


    What is Ireland's totally energy consumption?
    Could we not just do what they do in Virginia with the Bath County Station and dot a few Pumped Storage stations around the country. The Bath County storage stations provides 2.7 gigawatts of power and has a 265 acre Upper Reservoir and a 555 acre lower reservoir.


    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_County_Pumped_Storage_Station
    The Bath County Pumped Storage Station is a pumped storage hydroelectric power plant. The station is located in the northern corner of Bath County, Virginia, on the southeast side of the Eastern Continental Divide, which forms this section of the border between Virginia and West Virginia. The station consists of two reservoirs separated by about 1,260 feet (380 m) in elevation. It has a capacity of 2.7 gigawatts.

    Where could we build it! We would need an alpine type mountain range to accommodate it


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 10 ✭✭✭ termcg


    Nuclear reactor produces heat which produced steam, which turns a steam turbine, which turns a generator. Basically think of a power station like an old steam train fuel - goes in, you get steam and a big wheel turns and that is then connected to a generator. Coal, oil, peat, (very old) gas and biomass units all work the same, that is burn the fuel in a big over to get the heat for the steam. Most gas powerstations for the last 20 years are gas turbines which are basically big aircraft engines with a generator attached to the rotating shaft and maybe the exhaust fumes used to generate steam for a steam turbine. Anyhow the fundatmental limitation of any power station is the steam turbine and generator size. I am not covering wind, pumped storage, hydro, tidal or any form of solar here.

    I heard a while back that the Scandenavians are building a steam turbine of 1300MW but that really is some feat. The individual generator units in the UK peak at 700MW while the large individual generator on the island is 415MW. Moneypoint which is the biggest power station has 3 ~315MW generators. So basially a power station can be as big as you want but the individual steam turbines and generators max about 700MW. Now the problem is that cannot work at anywhere between 0MW to 700MW and they dont like moving output a lot. These things are more fuel efficient (cheaper per unit of output) at their rated output that at a lower one so you dont want to be switching it on and off all of the time. Remember we are talking about metal and high temperatures here. The more you heat it up and cool it down the more you year it out. So you can build as big as you want but it wont be economical and then theres the wind. The wind must run so if you have a really cheap power station but your powerstation and the wind is more than whats needed, you get turned off. Maybe your off for an hour, maybe your off for 3 or 4 days. So realistically if we were to look a nuclear generators they would be of a similar size to our current generator which is 300MW to 450MW units.

    The history of pump storage in Ireland: 1 is priceless, 2 is a waste of money. These things have no direct fuel cost, they operate on the time varying price of electricity. As a domestic customer you probably done see that unless you got some of those night saver tarriffs. Anyway pump storage is incredibly expensive to build as there are huge civil costs. You gotta move a lot of earth and its really amazing that after 1,000s of years of civilation moving earth is still so expensive. They you also gotta find a site which has a significant height difference which will probably being in an area of extreme natural beauty. Its not just the power station and the power lines people will object to, it will also be the roads used for construction, the traffic on the roads and god only knows what else.

    The Dutch was pump storage though and well its pretty flat over there so they had an idea. Some of them want to wall off a bay and pump all of the sea water out. Then when they want to generate then let it flow back in, pump out, flow in, on and on.... Its basically the inverse to how pumped storage currently works. Now my fluid mechanics is poor and hazey but i think the main problem will be they wont get that much head (pressure) due to the small height difference but they plan to compensate using surface area.

    OK on the topic of should we have nuclear power in this country. We should definitely have a look at it and see if it fits our requirements. I cannot say yes or no as it is too early but I definitely think serious resources should be put into evaluating it.

    If you want to see nuclear done right look at France. Over 70% nuclear power and their neighbours queue up to buy it off of them over interconnectors


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,468 BluntGuy


    termcg wrote: »
    If you want to see nuclear done right look at France.

    I knew somebody would eventually bring up France. And indeed, on first glance, France seems near-flawless when it comes to nuclear.

    French nuclear plants actually experience countless minor incidents every year. Now of course, many, if not most of them are the same as the accidents you'd get in your conventional power station i.e little risk of death, little risk to environment, easy-to-fix.

    Others however, have the possibility to turn into much worse. There was one particular week I remember, July 2008. Two rivers were essentially closed after a significant uranium leak at the Tricastin power plant. As far as I remember, only around 70 kg of it was needed to cause a detectable level of contamination.

    Now that was only a minor-leak, but it could've been much worse. The uranium in question was unenriched so its half-life would be miniscule and it would decay quickly. But imagine if 70 kg of enriched uranium had ended up in the river. The cost and safety implications involved in de-contaminating it would be very significant. Imagine if more than 70 kg had ended up in the river... the results could've been disastrous for the area.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,638 Zoney


    I'm not concerned by "safety" per-se, so much as potential environmental pollution (i.e. even low levels - bad for health of people and animals) and the cost/practicality. Where would we put the waste? If it was exported, how much would it cost and how sensibly done would it be?

    Really I don't think I'd like to see the usual casual Irish approach to pollution taken as regards nuclear waste.

    And even new plant designs - these do only operate for so long before you have to decommission and build a new one - and the old one, although a lot of the radioactive parts are low-level, has to be meticulously taken apart and the various categories of waste dealt with appropriately.

    Plus - presumably as a quick-fix, lots of countries are thinking about nuclear. Surely, however little uranium is needed compared to conventional fuel, it will become a more significant cost factor if demand rises? Are there not only a few exporters of it?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,630 Plowman


    This post has been deleted.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,638 Zoney


    For the record, I don't think wind energy is much of a solution. While a useful contribution, I do not think expensive, inefficient and impractical pumped storage can solve the variability of wind, and you can't afford to have conventional power stations on standby to make up for slack periods of wind either (indeed most take time to power up). Also one can have weeks of relative calm at certain times of year, and the idea of managing power over a large area is also impractical, due to transmission losses but also the fact that often prevailing weather conditions (e.g. calm) can affect a large geographic area (e.g. all of Western Europe). Plus these calm periods can just as easily happen in winter just when power is needed most.

    Then there is the energy to produce the turbines too - you still even now need rather a lot for relatively little power (the max output is mostly notional).

    I've no doubt improvements can be made, but wind power is unlikely to be more than a sideshow for even the medium term.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,502 Zube


    Zoney wrote: »
    Really I don't think I'd like to see the usual casual Irish approach to pollution taken as regards nuclear waste.

    What do we do with the fly-ash from Moneypoint? That stuff doesn't have a half-life - it stays toxic forever.

    According to this report, we classify it as "non-hazardous", and mix 100,000 tonnes a year of it into Irish cement, and dump another 40,000 tonnes into landfill.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 865 Purple Gorilla


    dolanbaker wrote: »
    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_County_Pumped_Storage_Station



    Where could we build it! We would need an alpine type mountain range to accommodate it

    So let's say if we slash the height difference by 2 thirds, to 420 feet, it would generate just under a gigawatt.

    Put 3 of these around the country and we'll be generating over half of our peak requirement. The rest can come from gas and also we can also take advantage of the enormous tidal and wind power we have.

    Nuclear is just too risk I think...If we were to have any Nuclear reactor, it'd have to be somewhere like Wicklow or something because if it was anywhere else but the east coast and something happened, the prevailing winds would carry the radiation across the whole country


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    Zube wrote: »
    What do we do with the fly-ash from Moneypoint? That stuff doesn't have a half-life - it stays toxic forever.

    According to this report, we classify it as "non-hazardous", and mix 100,000 tonnes a year of it into Irish cement, and dump another 40,000 tonnes into landfill.

    Indeed , the poundage of cack estimated for 2 Moneypoints ( we have one) is shown in the link below by way of example ( Moneypoint burns 2.5m tons a year not 5m so I gotta halve)

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=115x95021

    I halve the pound figures on the right and convert to tonnes

    Moneypoint produces roughly the following per annum ( some of which goes in the Atmosphere and most of which becomes Ash)

    Half a Ton of Mercury ( 1000 pounds )
    3 Tons of Lead
    3 Tons of Arsenic
    2 Tons of Lead
    7 Tons of Thorium

    and plenty of other metals on top of that . Some of that is minorly radioactive too.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,735 Irish and Proud


    We have some uranium - but do we have enough for Nuclear Power? I think we should develop our renewable energy potential first, and if we still need other power sources, we could consider Nuclear Power. However, I'd rather wait until Nuclear Fusion becomes viable - it is said to be more efficient and much safer than the current Nuclear Fission technology.

    For now, I'll vote No...

    Regards!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,502 Zube


    I'd rather wait until Nuclear Fusion becomes viable - it is said to be more efficient and much safer than the current Nuclear Fission technology.

    That's because it doesn't exist. It's easy for a theoretical power source to be clean and efficient on paper.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,549 Judgement Day


    So let's say if we slash the height difference by 2 thirds, to 420 feet, it would generate just under a gigawatt.

    Put 3 of these around the country and we'll be generating over half of our peak requirement. The rest can come from gas and also we can also take advantage of the enormous tidal and wind power we have.

    Nuclear is just too risk I think...If we were to have any Nuclear reactor, it'd have to be somewhere like Wicklow or something because if it was anywhere else but the east coast and something happened, the prevailing winds would carry the radiation across the whole country

    So it should be sited in Wicklow so that the plume from any accident could drift across Dublin before hitting Wales. Great thinking!


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