Can we have some proper nuclear fission plants now please, until we can get fusion properly organised?
It looks as though the wind energy boom is over. UK energy minister Greg Barker has hinted at a significant change in government strategy - cutting subsidies for the deployment and operation of environmentalists’ favoured technologies. The climate change minister hinted that R&D handouts would continue, but for the wind lobby …
Can we have some proper nuclear fission plants now please, until we can get fusion properly organised?
It will take twenty years to get them operating. Fusion is still 50 years away.
"GE Hitachi has offered to build a fast reactor to consume the plutonium stockpile at Sellafield, though not yet the whole kit (the integral fast reactor). It has offered to do it within five years, and to carry the cost if it doesn’t work out. This is the proposal the government is now considering. I would like to see it go further and examine the case for the full works: an integral fast reactor (incorporating a reprocessing plant) that generates much more energy from the waste pile. "
Professor Stephen Thomas, Director of Research at the UK’s University of Greenwich’s Business School, believes the writing is on the wall for nuclear power in Europe. “Fukushima could be the final straw for light water reactors (LWRs)”, he told The Energy Industry Times. “After 60 years of development, real costs have only ever gone one way. Has any other technology had similar experience and still been pursued? Economic LWRs that can survive loss-of-coolant and loss-of-power accidents are an impossible dream."
“The promise of simpler, safer and cheap nuclear power at $1000/kW was either self-delusion or deception. Most recent cost estimates are more than $6000/kW."
Still think nuclear power is excellent?
In a word, yes!
Unless of course you believe the next level of progress should be towards mud huts and unsanitory conditions?
The technological products that people use today depend on power i.e. electric cars, as does the more mundane but necessary lights, power for research, industries etc.
Prof. Stephen Thomas is talking about LWRs. That's only one type of reactor. PWR? Thorium? Pebble-bed? CANDU? Those have safeguards against LOCA.
You're right that Nuclear isn't as cost effective as coal. Trouble is that for some reason there's a problem burning coal. Nuclear Vs Wind power for price? Nuclear wins every time. Nuclear even edges out clean coal. Nuclear has fuel that could last for millenia, coal does not.
Now, you tell me, what's sustainable?
Why? In 1974 France decided to go nuclear, the first plant was comissioned on December 1, 1980. 56 plants were built in all.
Six years to build the first plant.
Britain would take 20 years to do what France could do in six?
Come to think of it you're probably right. Glad I got out of that defeatist shithole.
"Britain would take 20 years to do what France could do in six?"
...you got money for doing jack and they were really difficult to rustle (no pun).
I was even just about to train up my first wind-dog to herd the turbines. Well I figured I had to do something that looked like farming whilst stuffing all that cash into my back hipper.
This uncommon example of Government coomon sense hasn't come a minute too soon. Wind farms have been great for harvesting subsidies but not much cop at producing electricity when we need it. Until a workable form of mas electricity storage is invented this technology should be shelved in favour of something we can actually afford.
@PlacidCasual “Until a workable form of mass electricity storage is invented”
It has been invented – the electric car and smart meter.
It’s not inventing that’s hard, it’s getting people to buy the result.
> It’s not inventing that’s hard, it’s getting people to buy the result.
Getting people to buy it is really easy. Just make a car that's not completely rubbish. And not ridiculously expensive.
actually, the hard bit is making it cheap enough to be affordable enough for most (as in not having to chose between a car or a house to live in), and to manufacture it without needing to pollute more than you supposedly 'save'.
Once it makes sense economically and enviromentally you will find it will be easier to get people to buy into it.
"It has been invented – the electric car and smart meter."
Electric cars are utter crap and smart meters are solely about allowing the power companies to remotely disconnect people to control demand - useful when your network has a lot of rubbish windmills.
It's called pumped storage. Originally designed for the ad break when everyone wants to boil the kettle at once: http://www.fhc.co.uk/dinorwig.htm . OK, to cover UK requirements in a 1000 mile wide winter calm for 5 days you'd need to have equivalent of 7 lakes of about 1km cubed with average drop between reservoirs about 1km. We haven't got enough of that kind of terrain in the UK. They have more in west Ireland and in Norway, where they are considering using salt water and the ocean as the lower reservoir, and that's partly why they are planning better undersea grid interconnectors between UK, Iceland, Norway and Ireland.. Another reason is this enables UK wind electricity when plentiful to be exported.
Some of the reservoirs we do have could also be dual purposed - that's called uprated hydro, where you have enough flow into the dam and can vary the electric output from it more.
“and to manufacture it without needing to pollute more than you supposedly 'save'”
That’s the usual oil industry rubbish repeated ad nauseam despite all scientific refutations. Please stop repeating that kind of nonsense. It is usually based on some study that showed that Chinese coal-fired power stations are more polluting than diesel VWs, or that an EV with batteries takes more emissions to manufacture than a petrol car with no fuel in. Yeah? No great surprises there, but no relevance either.
The only important point is that as energy generation decarbonises, the EV you’ve already bought gets less and less polluting. That doesn’t happen with oil.
Can we stop all the anti-EV lies now? They cost more to buy and don’t have the same range as oil powered cars... but they cost less to run and can be “filled up” anywhere. That’s it. Get over it.
One of the better strategies would be a proper pan-european high-voltage DC network. Then the UK could supply wind-generated energy to (say) factories in Germany and Italy, even when the wind does not blow.
The larger the net, the better. But I know, there is lots of inertia and anti-european sentiment, so I guess this will take a really, really long time to happen.
No nemo, it hasn't, you can tell because almost nobody is buying it. That's the "workable" part, you see?
"Workable" means that it's feasible, economic to build and run, and consumers will accept it.
Electric cars at the required scale are none of the above.
Secondly, in this context, smart meters are only a method of remote disconnection at times of high demand. This is not a solution in the first place, and of course consumers will never accept it.
"At the end of EastEnders you will suffer a blackout to prevent you from making a cup of tea."
Surely it is cheaper NOT to buy new vehicles (whether EV or not) but rather use or repair/maintain used ones as far as possible as the emissions involved in their creation have already been incurred?
"....but they cost less to run and can be “filled up” anywhere...." Complete male bovine manure. You forgot to factor in battery replacement or leasing (not cheap). Batteries also become less efficient as they age, meaning the cost goes up the older the battery pack. You also forgot that a petrol-diesel-powered car can be filled up at stations all over the country in a matter of minutes, whilst an EV takes ages to charge even to half-full and then not everywhere has charging stations.
I also don't get this claim that EVs will act as storage for power - should they be bought in numbers, they are a massive additional drain on the grid. They are also not a store - you drive it to work in the morning, draining the battery, and hook it up to charge, at just the time (9am to 5pm) that the grid needs lots of power to run businesses. Then you drive it home, draining it again, and plug it in just as the grid is girding up for the evening peak. How the flying fudge is that storing? Complete nonsense.
i really hate the "use electric cars as power soaks" idea. i sometimes have an urgent need to travel on short notice so always have my bikes fuel tank full. even if they have a cap (10% of charge) you could be talking a serious issue given the recharge time (loosing 10 miles when power points aren't universal could leave you stranded) . The vice versa is also true if i plug it in at 6pm i want it to start charging then not at 11pm when all the soaps/celebrity come dance with me on ice has finished and power demand is reduced.
Okay so there's a couple of scenarios in which electric vehicles as power stores doesn't work so well but I don't think it would take too much effort to think of examples where it would work better and no one is saying you in particular have to adopt electric vehicles, just that it is possible (they say) to use wind generated electricity to replace some current fossil fuel use.
If they are right it seems reasonable to give it some thought rather than just throwing up "it doesn't fit my needs" objections which give the impression that the objection comes first and the thinking follows.
"But the mandatory aspect of the programme, and relaxation of supplier obligations and removal of an independent complaints service, made it appear suspiciously like a producers' racket."
That'll be nuclear power then.
In the meantime, Fukushima has shown PWR's to be faulty by design (containment vessel unable to withstand the pressure of hydrogen buildup), Tokyo was more heavily contaminated than is being reported, and the greatest dangers of Fukushima are still to come (the fuel rod stores, one of which went critical, are still in an impossibly dangerous state).
We need less power, and less consumption, with more efficient devices, and more intelligent energy storage (such as the proposed Icelandic hook-up reported here on elReg just a couple of weeks ago, which is all just a pale shadow of what Buckminster Fuller was proposing in the 60's with his global solar grid).
Bring on the tory downvotes.
"We need less power, and less consumption"
Well, you're not going to get it I'm afraid. Unless you make a hobby of lost causes, you probably need to rethink your politics from the ground up. Praying for lower consumption is like hoping monochrome comes back to replace colour screens.
Yes, because if we were going to build a nuclear plant today, we'd be using a 40 year old design that requires external cooling...
PWRs are also more than 30 years old and have been superceded by several generations of much safre passively cooled reactors that require action to maintain the reaction rather than actiion to prevent it.
fukushima is an old reactor that should have been shut down years ago but wasn't because of people like you screaming about the idea of new replacement reactors being built.
A 40 year old Nuclear power station gets hit by both an Earthquake and a Tsunami beyond the range at which it was designed and the contamination was minimal.
I'd say that is a resounding endorsement of Nuclear power safety.
Of course lets apply the same arguments to the UK as we are so likely to be hit by both an Earthquake and a Tsunami of that magnitude... oh damn if only we lived on a fault line!
If you take the axioms of the current paradigm as immutable - continual economic expansion based on the exploitation of limited natural resources... then your point of view makes sense.
On the otherhand, if you see humanity as having experienced a series of (often sudden) fundamental paradigm shifts, where all the old assumptions go out of the window - and accept that what we accept as given now is just part of the paradigm in which we were born... then you might have a slightly broader perspective on the options that are available to us as a species.
Your analogy just shows that you can't see an alternative way to progress, which is why you see more ecologically sensible alternatives as a form of regression.
Resounding endorsement of Nuclear power safety?
Or just fucking lucky it wasn't worse
You'd love to believe that cosy propaganda wouldn't you.
Care to read an alternative take on the wonders of the most modern passively cooled reactor design in the world (the Westinghouse AP1000)? http://fairewinds.com/content/fukushima-and-its-impact-upon-westinghouse-toshiba-designed-ap1000-atomic-power-plant
What about the alternatives? Those wonderful thorium reactors? They sounded like a good idea to me, until my brother and his wife (both research chemists engaged in research for the nuclear establishment, specifically in the fields of corrosion and containment) scared the living bejesus out of me about the toxicity of the waste byproducts.
Ever heard of the Black Swan?
I was raised down the road from Hinkley Point (nuclear power plant). There have been tsunamis in recorded history, in S.W. England, that were well beyond the design spec of Hinkley Point.
Think that's stupid? Watch this and see how well design assumptions for U.S. reactors hold up.
As for minimal contamination... you're misinformed, both about the nature of the contamination, its quantity, and its range.
@Ben. What do you think of this?
What caused the Fukushima disaster was a catastrophic power failure, that's all. They lost power for days and therefore couldn't cool the reactors once they had shut down. There are many possible screnarios that could cause such a thing here, if were were at war for example. Not to mention the fact that nuclear reactors would be a target in such an instance.
We were all duped by the idea that nuclear reactors are supposed to be fail-safe. Fukushima has proven that assumption wrong, and that’s why some European countries have already canned their nuclear projects.
It's all in the negawatts: the cheapest power plants are ones you don't build.
Note, less consumption usually means greater energy efficiency - better insulation, lower stand-by draw, higher yield lighting, ARM instead of x86, etc. - rather than the return to a Luddite dark age.
Mine's the one with 9 W LED bulb in the pocket and the A+++ fridge.
Have you read anywhere in my comments that I'm anti-nuclear? or anti-science?
1) The reactors we have now are not safe - their risk assumptions are inadequate, so are their designs, so is their regulatory oversight, so is the responsibility of their operators.
2) The reactors we are about to build are only marginally better.
3) Providing more, and cheaper power for people to make more wasteful things, with any incentive to optimise on energy efficiency removed, is stupidly short-sighted.
The true costs of Nuclear, and doing it right, are astronomical. If that's the only option we have in the short - mid term, then we should bear those costs and do it correctly.
However, it isn't the only choice. Ze Germans will be at 35% energy from renewables by 2020 on current forecasts, while its labs and universities are cranking out fantastic improvements in fundamental and applied technologies at a cracking rate - because their government has the foresight to realise that this is another market in which their industry can become a world leader from day one!
More than that, the really HUGE scientific and industrial movement which is beginning to gather pace is the hydrogen economy. With those little solar panels on your roof, you can split rain-water into hydrogen and oxygen to fuel your house, your car, your computer, whatever you like. This is the real shift that so many people aren't seeing, and the reason why solar is so much more than just pushing subsidised energy back into the grid. (It's also very IT by the way, I was talking to a researcher last week working on nano-fuel cells for powering mobile devices... interesting stuff).
The British were the world leaders in the seventies. I doubt very much, if every last program hadn't been gutted both in the U.S. and the U.K. by the Regan/Thatcher axis, that we'd even need this discussion now.
'What caused the Fukushima disaster was a catastrophic power failure, that's all. They lost power for days and therefore couldn't cool the reactors once they had shut down. There are many possible screnarios that could cause such a thing here, if were were at war for example. Not to mention the fact that nuclear reactors would be a target in such an instance.'
You seem to be ignoring the fact that modernish plants don't need any power for cooling when scrammed.
"Fukushima has shown PWR's to be faulty by design "
No it hasn't.
"(containment vessel unable to withstand the pressure of hydrogen buildup)"
Hmm, not sure that's right.
"We need less power, and less consumption,"
Why don't you and all the other communists bugger off and live your eco utopia in a mud hut by candle light, and leave the rest of us normal people to INCREASE our consumption and live in a progressive technological society where living standards, life expectancy and quality of life all increase as a direct benefit if access to cheap power?
You don't need to be tory to downvote this garbage. Possession of common sense is more than enough.
Reduced consumption is more often than not an enforcement rather than a voluntary choice. Rationing, fuel crises, dry wells, being outbid, and so on.
Care to find more than a single, explicitly biased source for your claims?
"We need less power, and less consumption"
If by "we" you mean the UK, Europe or the rest of the western world where consumption per capita is already extremely high, we can possibly improve efficiencies to at least stop consumption growth and to do more with the consumption we have.... but hardly any more than that seeing that there are physical limits to efficiency, and that the low-hanging fruit of improved efficiency at production and distribution level have already been reaped.
If by "we" you mean humanity globally, the vast majority of whom consume far less energy per capita than the west, and who are aiming to improve their standard of living, (and therefore energy consumption) to match, well that's a pipe dream. You want to do a King Canute and stand in front of the waves of people in developing countries, bidding them futilely to stay poor, well, go ahead, see if it works. Certainly in developing countries there is more scope to vastly improve efficiency, but overall consumption will still shoot up. That extra energy needs to come from somewhere, and only a tiny fraction of that will be windmills.
Looking at India and China, at least they have the right idea to go towards nuclear.... although with the tons of Himalayan meltwater they both have available I wonder if they're under-investing in hydro. After all, Andean meltwater flowing into the Amazon at Iguazu provides a ridiculous amount of power to S. America, something like 75% of all requirements for Paraguay and 25% for Brazil (+ chunk for Argentina?)
@Ben, I didn't intend to imply you are either anti-nuclear or anti-science. I genuinely wondered if you agreed with Monbiot's article or not.
Anyway, please allow me to respond to your points.
1) More people die in the coal industry, and the renewables industry than in the nuclear industry. The environment is impacted much more by coal and renewables than nuclear. So, while nothing is 100% safe, I would dispute your risk evaluation.
2) From the Monbiot article. "By ensuring the fissile products are unusable, the IFR process reduces the risk of weapons proliferation. The plant operates at scarcely more than atmospheric pressure, so it can't blow its top. Better still, it could melt down only by breaking the laws of physics. If the fuel pins begin to overheat, their expansion stops the fission reaction. If, like the Fukushima plant, an IFR loses its power supply, it simply shuts down, without human agency." These reactors are considerably safer than existing reactors, and the existing reactors have proven to be pretty safe compared with the alternatives.
3) The reason we all have a good chance to live to 80 years old these days is because of industry and the power to drive it. Efficiency is good, of course, but we must have cheap energy if we want to keep the standard of living we all enjoy.
4) The Germans are going to burn a hell of a lot of coal with all the attendant environmental damage that entails.
5) The hydrogen economy thing might work, but you would need to do it in the Libyan desert. At 50 degrees north, the UK doesn't get much sun in winter. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/dec/11/sahara-solar-panels-green-electricity
Those are just my opinions, thanks for reading.
I want to see the reactor design of a real reactor which can passively dissipate heat immediately after SCRAM.
The focus must be on protecting and making redundant the cooling system. A couple of man-mobile fire engines are enough if evaporation cooling is used. But that must be planned for in advance.
I'm not convinced it's about more/less consumption. A couple of decades ago we had a few inefficient devices consuming shitloads of power. Now we're getting more and more all consuming less, but the overall consumption is rising, because everything, no matter how pointless seems to want electricity these days.
How can one take your posting seriously if you don't know the difference between a Pressurized Water Reactor and a Boiling Water Reactor? FWIW, Fukushima used BWR's.
PWR's can be set up for natural convection cooling, with the main problem in supplying make-up water to the secondary side.
"It's all in the negawatts: the cheapest power plants are ones you don't build."
Er, no. It's all in the cooked books. Deprive an economy of cheap energy and watch that GDP nose-dive. Of course, if you are willing to ignore the GDP loss, not doing anything at all, let alone getting out of bed and building a reactor, starts to look like a smart plan.
Ben, do you have any other links to post apart from those from the site owned and run by Maggie Gunderson which seems to be primarily an exercise in her own self promotion. She seems to be radically ant-nuclear and google searches for fairewinds.com just confirm this.
Waste products? What about the toxic slurry in lakes in Mongolia because of treehuggers demanding wind power? Those rare earth minerals used in the magnets don't just spontaneously appear you know.
Oh, and let's not forget the massive amounts of concrete needed to keep a single turbine from blowing over - all deeply planted in some of the most scenic places.
Why don't you try following the link I provided, then post your insightful critique.
As for the benefits of progressive technological society etc. being linked to cheap power... that's the most moronically simplistic statement I've read in a while.
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