Author Topic: Nuclear issues  (Read 48316 times)

Holly Stick

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Nuclear issues
« on: September 03, 2007, 02:56:33 PM »
We don't seem to have a thread about nuclear issues, so here it is.

Over at My Blawg, Robert asks if Canada will become a radioactive dump.  He links to a  CTV article about an American initiative:

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...the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, proposes that nuclear energy-using countries and uranium-exporting countries band together in a new nuclear club to promote and safeguard the industry.

Central to the plan is a proposal that all used nuclear fuel be repatriated to the original uranium exporting country for disposal.

That should be big news in Canada, the world's largest uranium producer.

But to date, the Canadian government's response is a closely guarded secret. In fact, there's been virtually no public debate at all...


ETA: a couple of links:

US Dept of Energy webpage on GNEP:
http://www.gnep.energy.gov/gnepPRs/gnepPR052107.htm

CanWest story by Randy Boswell.
Economics is a human creation, borders are human creations and nature doesn’t give a damn about these things. - David Suzuki

Holly Stick

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Nuclear issues
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2007, 04:53:12 PM »
I've started thinking about nuclear plants and water today.  I don't have time to go into it in depth right now, but there are a couple of links here that Berlynn and others might be interested in.

This one especially, is by someone who favours nuclear power and is into selling uranium stock, so probably they have other posts relevant to Canada's uranium issues.
http://www.321energy.com/editorials/kirtley/kirtley070407.html

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...This above content should not discourage the building of new plants, but accelerate the process of beginning to plan, design and build the stations. We, the world, are going to build more nuclear plants, that is a given. We need to start now in order to allow enough time to properly plan the stations and their location so we can take into account all the factors affecting the success of a plant, such as protection from rising sea levels....

...All of this is bullish for uranium and uranium stocks in the short term and the long term, as it means that governments should begin building sooner and before they open a plant they need 2 – 3 years of uranium and so therefore they will need to buy uranium sooner, before the uranium supply is bought for the next century or hoarded by the smarter players in the game.

By Sam Kirtley...



(Edit) And a couple about France and water cooling.  Now Eli Rabett over at Rabett Run says the plants in France were designed 30 years ago for cooler summers and new ones could be designed for hotter weather; but I think they would still need water for cooling.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/20/africa/nuke.php

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0813-05.htm

http://rabett.blogspot.com/
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Holly Stick

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Nuclear issues
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2007, 11:26:00 PM »
More interesting links about GNEP and the proposal for nuclear plants in Alberta:

http://tippoint.zaadz.com/blog/2007/9/nuclear_smoke_and_mirrors

http://tippoint.zaadz.com/

I've never heard of these guys before.  The link was posted in a comment on Senator Elaine McCoy's blog, which discusses environmental issues, etc.
http://www.albertasenator.ca/hullabaloos/index.php?childURL=article_display.php?id=122
Economics is a human creation, borders are human creations and nature doesn’t give a damn about these things. - David Suzuki

Berlynn

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Nuclear issues
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2007, 11:50:21 PM »
Thanks, Holly!  I have been blogging nuclear issues almost daily since my summer hiatus.  This "nuclear renaissance" is trying to wear me out!

Here is an excellent article from the Japan Times

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...Washington and New Delhi are seeking to sell a controversial nuclear deal to their skeptical publics by speciously presenting nuclear power as the answer to India's rapidly growing energy needs. Despite tax concessions and other sops, the Bush administration, however, is still trying to revive the moribund U.S. nuclear power industry, with not a single new plant currently under construction.

Actually, the U.S. is counting on the deal with India to revitalize its own industry.

It is a rather long article, and it is a very good one.  The writer goes on to say

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Independent studies worldwide show that electricity generated through currently available nuclear technologies is not cost-competitive with other conventional sources. Also, nuclear power is highly capital-intensive. The reason why not a single new power reactor in the U.S. has been built after the last one ordered in 1970 is largely economics. Two separate studies by the University of Chicago (2004) and MIT (2003) computed the baseline cost of new nuclear power at 6.2 to 6.7 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with 3.3 to 4.2 cents for pulverized "clean" coal and 3.5 to 5.6 cents for a combined-cycle natural gas plant.

and the following, about which I do not know enough

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Nuclear power tends to put serious strain on water resources. The Light Water Reactors (LWRs) that make up the bulk of installed nuclear-power capacity are highly water-intensive, which sets a limit on where they can be located. As they copiously use water as a coolant, the LWRs appropriate large quantities of locally available water. Worse, they pump the hot-water reactor outflow back into rivers, reservoirs and oceans in a continuous cycle, damaging or altering plant and fish ecosystems.



If I wasn't so dang tired tonight, I would blog this as a follow-up to Wilkins' visit to Alberta and make the water connection.  Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

ETA:  fix what the dragon didn't catch
Never retreat, never explain, never apologize--get the thing done and let them howl.  -- Nellie McClung

Mandos

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Nuclear issues
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2007, 11:59:58 PM »
So to me the most credible reason for building nuclear reactors is the fact that fossil fuels, including natural gas, are going to get very expensive very soon (by very soon I mean max 2 decades).  And not everyone has hydroelectric capacity, and wind can't work everywhere.  What can work everywhere?  Nukes...

And fuel supply can be augmented with breeder reactors.  I don't buy proliferation arguments against nuclear reactors as that horse is wayyyy out of the barn by now.

Holly Stick

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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2007, 12:42:20 AM »
Nukes require lots of water to cool them.  So do we put them by the sea, and maybe watch sea levels rise and flood them?  Or do we put them inland, where there are likely to be increasing water shortages?  Plus the waste problems and the huge cost of building them, which probably comes out of our taxes.  Not the best option.
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Mandos

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Nuclear issues
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2007, 01:35:02 AM »
The water level thing is a rather odd false dichotomy.  Just build it high up!

I'm thinking that the right answer is deep underground waste burial.  The only credible argument I've found against it is that our great-to-the-nth-exponent-grandchildren will dig it up.  And?  If they can dig that deep, that means that our technological systems didn't collapse due to lack of electricity...

Too expensive?  That's the point.  The point is that any cheaper system we build based, at least, on fossil fuels is borrowing against the future in a way that I don't believe nukes really do.  I mean, even given its abundance, coal has massive and immediate minuses.  Even in its "clean" form, I think.

GDKitty

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Nuclear issues
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2007, 01:48:18 AM »
Re: water heating, this is not a problem with most new (>1980) reactors, as they are fitted with discharge diffusers that limit the thermal effects to within that which would be expected by normal (natural) temp variation. Darlington has a discharge diffuser, but Pickering does not, for e.g. (from the journal Radioprotection, Suppl. 1, vol. 40 (2005) S695-S700).

transplant

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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2007, 05:23:00 PM »
Quote from: Mandos
So to me the most credible reason for building nuclear reactors is the fact that fossil fuels, including natural gas, are going to get very expensive very soon...


No, the only credible reason is that nukes do not emit CO2 while in operation. (Not so during their very long construction period and decommissioning, however.)  Given the breathtaking speed and the extent of Arctic ice sheet melting this year, price comparisons are not even secondary. On EM I calculated the amount of heat energy it took to melt just the 1.2 million square km of sea ice that had not yet melted since satellite observation began in 1979, and Searosia pointed out that it approached the amount of heat energy needed raise the entire atmosphere by 1°C. The faster the ice melts, the warmer it's going to get. Burying and securing nuke waste is beginning to look like child's play compared to having to relocate a billion human beings above sea level.

Sorry, Holly, I used to be a died-in-the-wool anti-nuker. I just don't think we can afford to be any more. It's not so much that that I'm for 'em, it's just that they are so much less-bad than burning coal and oil are.
Hope has met reality

Mandos

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« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2007, 05:39:54 PM »
Well, umm, one way or another I think we agree on the end result, but for me, Peak Oil is still a stronger argument for nukes.  With global warming, we have to relocate a billion people.  With Peak Oil, if we miss the adaptation window, everything just...stops.  Aside from the 100 million humans who might avoid starvation.  

But either way, I don't think nukes can be avoided as part of the solution, at least until we have batteries even better than Li-Ion and cheap, efficient solar power.

Croghan27

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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2007, 05:52:44 PM »
Oh silly me - but with all the capital and resources needed to build a new nuke plant (or an oil sands plant for that matter) - does than not make the old, but certainly not as sexy, reducing, reusing and recyclings all that more viable?

Running either one of these plants is part of my profession, so I am not a dis-interested party, but I know that in theory and in actuality they are both very wasteful of resources, of the general environment, as well and porbably of more import wasteful of the creativity of the extremely talented people involved.

A trillion $$ or so, invested in ecologically sensitive projects and re-fitting of existing structures/transitways/cities would make the trillions that nuclear and oil sand plants will cost over a lifetime seem cheap.

We have enough of both of them right now.  :annoyed:
"It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory." -- Arthur Stanley Eddington

Mandos

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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2007, 05:59:41 PM »
I'd like to believe that the n trillion $ would be invested in one-off retrofitting of the entire industrial system.  But the problem is that getting everyone to agree to do it is so hard, that it seems massively easier to put things off with nukes.  

One way or another, even after the retrofit, we need electricity to power all the systems.  It's gotta come from somewhere, and the problem is that renewables still aren't mature.  The most mature renewable is indirect solar via wind, but even that requires affordable backup generation because battery technology is not ready to smooth out the generation patterns.

Croghan27

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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2007, 06:10:12 PM »
R-E-D-U-C-E works for me.   :applause:

Any investment of several hundred/thousand billion will make a major social distruption, no matter where it is spent.

I have seen the mess created by oil sands plants - hell - I have helped make the mess in the ground and air. Nukes take huge amounts of energy input before and after constructioning, as well as being horribly inefficient while operating.

When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging.
"It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory." -- Arthur Stanley Eddington

Mandos

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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2007, 06:14:51 PM »
OK...what stop digging has actually been accomplished so far?

Holly Stick

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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2007, 06:57:37 PM »
This guy has made some calculations:

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...Take the example of replacing all the wasteful (less than 10% efficient) incandescent bulbs in homes across America with high efficiency compact fluorescent bulbs (which use 1/3 the energy or less for the same light output), which could reduce total US CO2 emissions by about 4%.

How many 1000 MW nuclear reactors would have to be built to achieve the same result?...

...The choice to consumers (you, me and the who army) -- "nuclear VS efficiency improvements" -- for reducing emissions is no choice at all. There is simply no contest.

Efficiency wins hands down: At least $54 billion paid (for nuclear reactors) vs $2.8 trillion saved (for bulbs)...

...The argument against the nuclear option was made here by comparing the cost of reducing emissions through nuclear reactors to the "cost" -- huge savings, actually -- associated with complete bulb replacement. But the same argument can be made by comparing the cost of the nuclear option to the cost/savings of other potential efficiency improvements and alternative, renewable energy sources as well.

It simply makes the most sense to take the tens (if not hundreds) of billions of dollars that could be spent on nuclear reactors worldwide and spend it instead on research, development and implementation of energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy production that will move the world toward not only a carbon-emission-free but a truly sustainable energy economy...


http://halgeranon.blogspot.com/2007/09/nuclear-or-unclear.html
Economics is a human creation, borders are human creations and nature doesn’t give a damn about these things. - David Suzuki

 

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