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Should Ireland go Nuclear?

  • 02-11-2021 9:42pm
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 18,574 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    Ireland rejected nuclear energy a long time ago. Should that be revisited?

    1. It would be near impossible to get this past the voters in general.
    2. It would not be possible to get a location for the reactor. NIMBYism would not cover it. 'Not in my county or any county near me' would be closer.
    3. It would make the metro cost look like loose change. How would it be funded?
    4. What if it had to be shut down, how would we cope? So far this year, we have had two gas plants out of action for most of this year and only now are they coming back on stream. To celebrate, three other plants are going off line. Add the lack of wind in September - how will we cope?
    5. Nuclear plants have a history of costing a multiple of the initial cost, and taking two or tree times the construction time,
    6. If it had full public support, which it will not have, it would take at least a decade before a single kwh of energy is generated.

    Would we be better trying to get of-shore wind, and grid battery back up, with interconnector reserve? Or would micro-generation domestic PV be a better bet with smart meters shedding demand where necessary?



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,614 ✭✭✭monkeybutter

    Are boards paying people to start all these **** threads

    Nuculear fission is way to expensive to implement and too complex for us plus the obvious risks of half assing it like everything else we do

    Then there is the issue of the waste

    Take about 20 years to bring online and the cost would be off the charts

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,671 ✭✭✭lintdrummer

    We have to come up with some solution though. Renewable energy not reliable enough. Fossil fuel plants not sustainable due to emissions. Nuclear is the obvious solution but as you say is problematic for many reasons. What do you propose?

  • Registered Users Posts: 504 ✭✭✭POBox19

    Why bother? We are too small an electricity market to be able to build and maintain a nuclear plant and the people won't stand for it. We have interconnectors with the UK and EU and have been buying their nuclear electricity without the hassle for years.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,920 ✭✭✭tom1ie

    How much would it cost?

    How long would it take to build?

    As I understand it a nuclear plant needs to have all the KWH it generates used at the time the energy is generated. A nuclear plant can’t have the power turned down too easily.

    Is this true?

    Why is this different with gas or coal for example?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,920 ✭✭✭tom1ie

    Why bother? Because we need to move away from fossil fuels and move to either 100% renewables with storage or have a nuclear backup to our renewables.

    No coal/oil/gas.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 40 oliver29

    Like many Irish people (probably most) I was totally against it. As time's gone by i've found myself thinking along the same lines as above. It's difficult to see how base load can be taken care of reliably and consitently without either burning something, or using nuclear.

    Small modular reactors show a lot of promise, couple that with molten salt in place of pressurised water and they could be a great fit for Ireland. It's not proven technology yet, but there are a few big names putting their money behind it (Rolls Royce, Hitachi, Toshiba). There's a lot going for them. They're small enough to suit a smaller grid like Ireland'a, and can be grouped togther to increase output or improve reliability over time.

    Still the word Nuclear is enough to frighten the bejayses out of people, it'll take a lot of positive experience elsewhere before people here would be prepared to accept even newer safer tech (after all how many times has that phrase been used to sell Nuclear!)

    For the forseeable future, we'll have to do nuclear indirectly, either the UK or in the future with the Interconnect to France.

  • If the government are content to act as a doormat to rapacious multinationals and their power hungry data centres, then advocacy for the introduction of nuclear power in Ireland becomes a valid argument - particularly in lieu of the passive aggressive threat of sporadic power cuts over the coming winter.

  • Posts: 25,611 Trey Short Hallway

    The Brits are building Hinkley Point C which will sell electricity at a guaranteed price linked to inflation. That's currently over 10p per unit. When electricity is cheaper than that the government will spend tens of billions to guarantee profits for EDF.

    As I keep pointing out, for the cost of something like Hinkley Point we could kit every house out with enough batteries to store 3-4 days of electricity. No need for planning processes or massive design contests and inevitable cronyism.

    Nuclear doesn't make sense for us and is unlikely to ever make sense.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40 oliver29

    Datacentres make the problems more difficult, but even without them the problem of generating base load still exists and can't always be taken care of by renewables.

    Wave energy and ultra deep geothermal may be able to make up some of the need, those would be an easier sell for suer

  • Registered Users Posts: 544 ✭✭✭agoodpunt

    wave/wind unreliable and HIGH maintance nuclear yer only man

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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 18,574 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    OK, if nuclear is out of contention for the reasons listed in the OP, what is the alternative?

    Off shore wind - wind is stronger at sea, so more reliable compare o land based. If we over supply, then use the excess to export via interconnector, store in grid based batteries, or generate hydrogen for other/later use.

    Bio gas from bio digestors from animal or vegetation that produces gas equivalent to natural gas, but how do we produce the quantity required?

    Solar at domestic level, with battery back up - coupled to smart meters. That might help, but not the full solution.

    I do not see nuclear being part of Irelands solution.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,920 ✭✭✭tom1ie

    Just build a massive amount of offshore wind.

    Excess wind is sold on the inter-connectors and stored via green hydrogen.

    When the wind does stop blowing, (out at sea and at certain heights does the wind stop blowing for long- even during high pressure?), use the green hydrogen to convert back into electricity.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,186 ✭✭✭Markcheese

    Green hydrogen isn't very efficient - there may be some change in that but it's not likely to be massive - and storage of large amounts of hydrogen long term could be problematic ..

    Nuclear is expensive- and takes decades - ,and not at all flexible - there's promise of new tech but that's decades further out again -

    Batteries of all types are short term storage - even with huge investment you're thinking hours - not days - but chemical batteries are getting cheaper and more available at shorter lead in times .. it looks like pumped hydro is going ahead at the silvermines which is great -

    Wind is where we're at really - smoothed out with batteries - we're moving to electricity for more things from heating to transport - onshore is still by far the cheapest - offshore allows for huge scale ..

    But the wind isn't available 24/7/365 , so we're still going to need fossil fuel back up - all of the existing generators and a good few more beside - hopefully they'll be used very little so should have really long life .

    All of this is going to cost - a lot ... So say goodbye to cheap energy.. it was nice ( but wasteful ) while it lasted

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,807 ✭✭✭lawrencesummers

    We are still pumping millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the rivers around the country, something that was due to be resolved on a final deadline that expired 15 years ago.

    just remember that when you want to consider this government building a nuclear plant.

    and thats before you consider planning.

  • Registered Users Posts: 475 ✭✭mickuhaha

    I am not sure if I am remembering correctly, it's been awhile since I came across it but we would need a large wind turbine every 15 square km to cover the energy requirements of Ireland. Some might correct me if I am off. That will increase at around 3 percent every year with demand and doesn't include a requirement for storage for low wind. This is just at the current electric demand. If we switch from using oil,gas and solid fuel as a source of heating in homes this increases. At a guess at least 3 fold so about one every 5 km.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,186 ✭✭✭Markcheese

    The current target is 70% from renewables by the end of this decade -and that's to include increased moves to electricity ...

    The good news is we're already nearly 40%,. New energy storage as peakers and to help buffer wind ,should make a big difference (even with existing renewable supplies ) ,

    Smart meters may help too - but that could depend how they're deployed and used ...

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,853 ✭✭✭✭cj maxx

    Build a small reactor in the whest somewhere and be done with it. Or in the healy-raes back garden.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,920 ✭✭✭tom1ie

    Does it matter if green hydrogen isn’t efficient if the green hydrogen is made by excess wind capacity that would be otherwise wasted?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,186 ✭✭✭Markcheese

    At what level of "waste " or duplication of infrastructure does the whole thing become cost prohibitive ? You build a wind turbine to harvest "free" energy - so there's an extra grid cost but that's still ok - then you need many wind turbines so that you have enough power on low wind days -next it's banks of batteries - then you build an expensive hydrogen plant to use "spare" wind - now a storage plant ( and compressor) for a very volatile gas - now you need either a fuel cell or an engine to make more electricity ..

    But at what point is the whole thing too expensive - ( in terms of energy and cost ) considering everything else we do, eat and use also has its own energy component..

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

  • Registered Users Posts: 468 ✭✭Shao Kahn

    I'm not sure what all the fuss is about nuclear power.

    We've come a long way since the early days of nuclear.

    And Ireland does apparently have uranium deposits that have so far been completely unexplored. It was said we have a moral objection to even selling these reserves to anyone else. Not sure why? We're happy to extract gas, which is statistically much more harmful. (both to people and the environment)

    Less than 200 people have been proven to have died as a direct result of radiation exposure in the Chernobyl meltdown. And nobody has officially died as a direct result of exposure from the Fukushima disaster. Even the exclusion zone and habitable land around both reactors has been drastically re-evaluated in recent years. Wildlife is actually abundant within the exclusion zone in Chernobyl, and it has actually become a thriving sanctuary for both flora and fauna because of the lack of human activity in the area.

    To put that into perspective, 7-9 million people die annually from diseases directly related to air pollution from fossil fuels. Combine this with the likely astronomical future costs of energy as we use up shrinking resources, and our tiny remaining carbon allowance, I think many countries will have very little option other than to embrace modern clean safe nuclear energy.

    This is an interesting documentary from Australia, who are very much in the same boat as us with regard to banning nuclear. Despite having huge lithium reserves, they are still struggling with soaring energy costs. They may also have no choice other than to reconsider nuclear.

    "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives, and it puts itself into our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." (John Wayne)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 749 ✭✭✭Busman Paddy Lasty

    Yes. Nuclear by the back door - interconnectors. Guaranteed price for constant load or even investment to own a portion of a nuclear plant in UK or France.

    Reducing demand with solar and batteries should be done now. A Boardsie was off grid for two months this summer with a 6kW array and an 8kWh battery. Winter could see batteries charged over night and discharge between 4 - 7pm.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 18,574 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    There is an exclusion zone of 30 km around Chernobyl. If such an exclusion zone were put around a nuclear site following an accident, where would the best place be to put such a reactor so that the least effect will be experienced by the general population? Do not forget that any roads, inc motorways would be closed.

    Difficult to think of anywhere outside Kilgarvin that could sustain a 30 km exclusion zone, without national protests.

    As they used to say, 'if these reactors are so safe, build one in Hyde Park' - but of course they are not that safe. When they exploded the first nuclear bomb in the New Mexico desert, they had no definite certainty what would happen. There was an outside chance that it could be disastrous - they did not know.

    Post edited by Sam Russell on

  • Registered Users Posts: 206 ✭✭specialbyte

    The other thing I never really see us talk about when we talk about nuclear power in Ireland is who would provide security for the facility. UK nuclear power plans are protected by a combination of a specialised police force, UK intelligence services, army and RAF units. We don't have a lot of that capability. For example, there is no military grade aircraft radar in Ireland, and we don't have any intercept jets either. There will be costs associated with improving our security capabilities that would also need to be factored in.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,727 ✭✭✭✭DaCor

    I've posted this before whenever this topic is brought up and I'll post it again because any plan to bring nuclear power production to the island of Ireland will die in the attempt to answer the questions below


    • What locality do you put it in without insane objections? Objections would be fierce at the local, county, provincial and national levels so how do you get around that?
    • 1 GW nuclear power plant will generate 27 tonnes of waste per year of operation. What is the long term (multi-millennia) plan for the storage of the waste that will be both secure and not risk impacting the water table?
    • How will that storage be paid for over that time?
    • Where will the waste storage location be?
    • How will the waste be transported and what route will it take where that route won't be blocked by objectors not wanting the material to pass through their area?
    • Same as above for the fuel.
    • How do you justify the spend on it or even garner any investment for it, when it's LCOE is way worse than almost all other alternatives?

    Everything else is irrelevant if you can't address the above questions

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,081 ✭✭✭✭cnocbui

    I am all for it. Even anti-nuke greenies love the idea of huge, fat, expensive interconnectors to France so Ireland can get greater access to a reliable supply of electricity mostly generated by nuclear fission.

    Ireland's anti nuke stance is plain hypocrisy if you see interconnectors as a solution to not building your own and propping up intermittent renewables when they aren't producing anything.

    This decades to build meme is simply wrong. While true in some cases, the average build time for some periods this century has been as low as 4.75 years. Given our planning system, an offshore wind farm requiring landing a cable onshore and pylons to connect to the grid probably takes longer.

    "Since 2011, EirGrid has been working with its French equivalent Réseau de Transport d’Electricité (RTE) to find the best way to develop the interconnector to benefit electricity customers and markets in Ireland, France and the EU. We are working together to deliver the Celtic Interconnector, which, if built, is due to be completed in 2026."

    Remind me again how long a nuclear power station takes?

    I think the idea of small modular reactors (SMR) makes sense. Seems the French do too as Macron just announced they would be pursuing that business.

    Were I running things, I'd pass legislation allowing the bypassing of the ABP and AT nimby planning mechanisms - this is supposed to be an emergency, after all - and use that as the basis to offer Rolls Royce a deal of a fixed price contract for the £2.2 B they say their proposal for a 470 MW SMR would cost; in return for no government interference in the process beyond monitoring that agreed contractual obligations of quality and safety are being adhered to. And if it does take till 2030 - so what? Isn't that when Ireland has committed to banning the sale of ICE engined cars? Actually, we might need to build two.

    I think RR would agree to a fixed price for the first customer to order one and would sound them out on that and take advantage of it if it panned out.

    As I mentioned in another thread, I believe the waste 'problem' is entirely political and is not 'real' from a technical perspective. Australia developed a process called Synroc, that can turn all levels of waste into a glass/ceramic. This renders it stable, such that water can't leach from it, for geological scale time periods. This waste could be stored several km underground in salt deposits that have been stable for around 250m years. I believe there are even 400m year old salt deposits and there is a 220m year old one under Antrim. A piece of Synroc the size of a can of soup could hold all the nuclear waste resulting from generating a lifetimes worth of electricity for a person.

    I have been reading about the problem posed by nuclear waste for 40 years. It's a problem that always seems to be a problem, but never is enough of a problem that anything is done about, even though the means are there, so it isn't really a problem.

    If climate change is as severe a problem as claimed, then business as usual shouldn't be a thing. WW2 was a real emergency and showed what can be achieved in short time frames when you don't let business as usual bureaucracy and such, get in the way of the necessary being done.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭JimmyVik

    YEs, we shopuld go nuclear. Just build it at the opposite end of the country to where I live please.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,355 ✭✭✭✭elperello


    My vote is based on raw fear.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 18,574 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    So our solution to nuclear power is to be the first to buy a revolutionary reactor from a UK company that has never built such a unit before? And we are protected by a fixed price contract?


  • Registered Users Posts: 19,081 ✭✭✭✭cnocbui

    Some people object to the visual and aural impact of wind turbines. You do the same for nuclear waste - ignore them and just do it.

    I don't know what the density of vitrified nuclear waste is, but a 27 ton block of marble looks like this:

    If the densities are at all comparable, I don't see a problem finding somehere to park the equivalent of a thousands of those.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,370 ✭✭✭✭maccored

    dumping waste is the issue. out of sight out of mind at the bottom of the sea just isnt good enough or dumping anywhere isnt good enough considering the half life