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Nuclear Power is too expensive and slow to build? Opinions?

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  • lights won't start going out. The system won't let itself collapse... never does.. but you're right nuclear is certainly vitally important in the long term for sure... no matter what 'we' say, the economics say or the greens as you say... it's a brilliant idea... it just needs a radical rethink in how it's implemented in every aspect and I personally find it hard to see a real world situation where 'large-enough-scale-nuclear' achieves economic logic within the next 40-50 years and I reckon that this is in fact provable given the information available at present which was in fact my main thesis in this thread.

    As it stands it really is simple maths and the limitations are clearly identifiable and measurable.. it takes too damn long to build, the manufacturing is too intensive and the front loaded capital cost is too great and shared unfairly among government, population, industry and insurance companies. If I was to conclude exactly WHICH issue is the greatest barrier to 'large-enough-fast-enough' nuclear roll-out, assuming the whole world decided it wanted nuclear, I would say 'DESIGN' is the main problem... some designs are better than others; some are cleaner, less dangerous, cheaper, some quicker to build, some more efficient etc etc etc but until the world agrees on one good design? then a necessary conveyor belt situation will not occur... and it'll just continue to be an unrealised dream (apart from in France:) rather than the world-energy-revolution it could really become. Some people think that the free market works everything out and that the simple search for profit will find a route through this problem and the ensuing economic pressures will find order and normalize this 'nuclear future' but I personally think that the complexity involved is too great for natural economics to play a benevolent-enough role. Huge problems especially when they become acute generally require huge acute solutions and the world is simply not that connected or peaceful yet to accomplish the task in question. Yes the science is good and yes it can be safe enough to do and yes, yes, yes to all the individual questions... there are clever solutions to most if not all of those questions as they stand alone but for the real global benefit of harnessing the power of the atom to take affect the world would have to commit to working together on a scale not experienced before... risk and capital expenditure would have to be spread out appropriately within an environment of competitive free market economics and such a notion is very challenging to rationalize.




  • http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/news/2012/may/name,27319,en.html
    The strongest growth in bioenergy use is projected for the power sector, where biomass could provide 3000 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity; more than a ten-fold increase compared to the 270 TWh generated in 2010) globally by 2050

    Nuclear power provides 2,558 Terawatt hours.


    Uranium mining deaths - it's out of date for OECD mines, but a lot of uranium is in places without effective health and safety
    http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pgms/worknotify/uranium.html




  • I would say 'DESIGN' is the main problem... some designs are better than others; some are cleaner, less dangerous, cheaper, some quicker to build, some more efficient etc etc etc but until the world agrees on one good design? .
    Three choices at present.

    Reactors that use heavy water. Very expensive but can use unenriched uranium. Basically Candu. - but note the generation III candu needs enriched uranium.

    Normal reactors - ie. generation III designs that actually work - costs aren't clear because nuclear costs are never clear.

    Stuff that's been in development hell for over 50 years. Thorium, Pebbles, Breeders etc.

    No matter which choice you pick you are looking at decades to pay back your investment. And PV costs have been falling 7% a year for the last 30 years and there are enough new technologies and scale economies to continue this trend for quite a while.




  • In a word Enron. They arranged rolling power cuts and blackouts to pump up the price of electricity.

    Can't see the relevance here to be honest
    If we had a nuke it would supply about half our base demand.
    we would also need the same capacity backup in case it went offline
    US outages - http://www.roadtechs.com/nukeout.htm

    This argument is constantly used by those of the anti nuke persuasion.
    They assume, [perhaps genuinely] that a nuclear power station must be of the 1 to1.5 GWe proportion to be viable.
    Such a power station would be totally unsuitably for an economy of our size and even the most uninformed nuclear enthusiast understands this.
    I believe that the largest generators in Poolbeg are between 250 and 350 MW and building nuclear stations of this size is not beyond even the technology existing today. In fact the nuclear industry has woken up to the fact that big isn't always beautiful and are currently looking at smaller transportable to site, modular designs.

    http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL2E8E19QL20120302
    Again there is the problem of fuel supply, at current usage there is ~70 years proven resources left. Nukes supply 13.5% of the worlds electricity. Electricity demand is increasing by about 2.4% year on year. Nuclear power stations are capital intensive and generation III reactors have a design life of 60 years.

    Putting all that together means that if you were to replace the worlds reactors with new ones then there is just enough known uranium deposits to keep them running.

    There is enough thorium to last for 1000 years.
    Before anyone accuses me of counting chickens that are not yet hatched I would like to suggest that a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor will be up and running long before someone invents a wind turbine that can work during a 3 week winter anticyclone, or a solar panel that will work at night.




  • Can't see the relevance here to be honest
    You are raising the scare of blackouts.

    Most recent blackouts in EU / North America have been faked by utility companies or were down to infrastructure problems. Nothing to do with generation problems. All FUD.
    This argument is constantly used by those of the anti nuke persuasion.
    They assume, [perhaps genuinely] that a nuclear power station must be of the 1 to1.5 GWe proportion to be viable.
    Such a power station would be totally unsuitably for an economy of our size and even the most uninformed nuclear enthusiast understands this.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5165182.stm smallest is 1.117GW largest 1.6GW As far as I can tell of the all the much hyped Generation III reactors only this type of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Boiling_Water_Reactor Japanese ones are operational and they are having teething problems.

    I believe that the largest generators in Poolbeg are between 250 and 350 MW and building nuclear stations of this size is not beyond even the technology existing today. In fact the nuclear industry has woken up to the fact that big isn't always beautiful and are currently looking at smaller transportable to site, modular designs.
    Stuff the nuclear industry is currently looking at is of no use, if it arrives, and if it arrives on time and on budget it will still be too late. Even if it arrives on time it won't be as economic as the larger reactors.

    There is enough thorium to last for 1000 years.
    Before anyone accuses me of counting chickens that are not yet hatched I would like to suggest that a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor will be up and running long before someone invents a wind turbine that can work during a 3 week winter anticyclone, or a solar panel that will work at night.
    LOL
    Liquid fluoride has been around since the 1950's so expect them to get it right any time soon.
    There is enough uranium in the sea to last for a brazillian years in breeders. Two small problems, one as yet no one has shown how the uranium can be extracted economically and no one has gotten breeder cycle to work commercially.

    Oddly enough using renewable power to extract uranium from seawater might be the only way to get fuel for all the reactors the nuclear industry wants. But then it's not really nuclear power it's just renewable storage.


    Solar panels don't work at night and wind doesn't work when the wind isn't blowing. Nuclear power stations can have year long downtimes and are one election promise away from being closed. Can we have new arguments please ?

    If someone figures out a cheap way of storing electricity renewables win. If our gas fields were on land we could look at Compressed Air Energy Storage. Perhaps we could use old mines. CAES works well with gas turbines. http://www.powersouth.com/mcintosh_power_plant/compressed_air_energy
    The CAES plant burns roughly one-third of the natural gas per kilowatt hour of output compared to a conventional combustion turbine, thus producing only about one-third the pollutants.


    Interconnectors and Biomass are already in use.
    The main problems with Wave and Tidal is that they can't compete with the price of onshore wind. Yet. We still aren't at the point where we have to rely on wind. Only when we do will wave / tide etc. need/get major investment.



    Finland is spending €3Bn digging a hole in the ground to store nuclear waste. For €3Bn we could get a lot of geothermal. Hell, €3Bn would pay for space mirrors to provide solar power at night. And unlike something crazy like Thorium it's just an engineering challenge.


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