back to article Full shift to electric vans would melt Royal Mail's London hub, MPs told

Royal Mail considered shifting its fleet of small vans in London to electric vehicles but concluded that doing so would lead to a power meltdown at its central hub in the capital. Speaking at a Parliamentary hearing about electric vehicles, Andrew Benfield, group director of transport at the non-profit Energy Saving Trust, …

Page:

  1. Bob Wheeler
    Trollface

    So, not just a question of...

    .. putting another 50p in the meter then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, not just a question of...

      BT did that anyway with their line rental, added 50p back in 2010, and we still don't have a minimum of 2Mbps, let alone 10Mbps.

      Looks like we're heading for the same regards Electric vehicles, a BT style "sit on hands approach", force the taxpayer to pay for any network upgrades BDUK/Superfast Cymru etc (because we {the UK} have to them to stay competitive), while these companies then take the praise/profits.

    2. low_resolution_foxxes

      Re: So, not just a question of...

      The power grid meltdown statement is a bit misleading, as things currently stand the central London Northy bit around Clerkenwell the power grid is pretty much at capacity. It's possible to get additional power - but it's a tough challenge and I believe you essentially have to bury under the Thames to get additional power from South London, where there is some spare capacity.

      So there is power available, if you spend a ridiculous amount of money on tunnels under the Thames, dig up half the local community and bribe a few dozen local councillors and communities for the delays and chaos caused.

      Or you could charge them somewhere else, introducing a painful inefficiency. I guess they can trial things for now, London needs a super-route of ultra-high-capacity underground power tunnels, which I believe is what projects like this are intended to do with all the new offshore wind turbines being built (I think the general public are little aware of the sheer scale of the offshore wind turbine developments that are being planned, tens of projects are lined up measured in 400+km² areas now...

      https://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/investment-and-innovation/new-essential-infrastructure/london-power-tunnels

    3. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Re: So, not just a question of...

      Well here is the answer and we are all going to need a bit more than 50p.

      Whilst there is the option to go hybrid, if these are plug is it will only provide a marginal reduction to the increased electrical demand. And hybrid vehicles are not fuel efficient as has been proven they use about as much petrol as the equivalent straight direct drive. At this moment sales of petrol cars are increasing and diesel is declining with the possibility that manufacturers will be fined for increasing CO2 emission.

      The Post Office are saying they have a problem and fortunately this news has entered into the political arena because this is where the problem originates. They say ignorance is bliss and there is none more blissful than a politician, The decision to go electric is ill founded. Here are the consequences.

      The power supply to most dwellings is based on average consumption, whilst you might be able to call on 14kW in your house on average the supply might only be able to provide as little as 750W and as much as 3kW depending where you are and when the property was built, commonly it is 2kW. Vehicle demands are about 3kW for a range of 100 miles and 7kW for 200 miles. This means that your house will now be taking as much as 9kW from the supply, more than 4 times what it was designed to provide. It is ok if a small number of electric vehicles are connected, the system has some flexibility, but if penetration is more than 10% problems will arise as the system will be overloaded and voltage drop will exceed statutory limits. Beyond this point, to make electric vehicles work the network will have to be replaced. To provide power to all electric vehicles using the existing approach would require 4 times the number of substations and all distribution mains will need to be replaced. The resulting disruption would be huge.

      The cost would also be huge.

      KPMG have reported on recent research into how we can deal with the reducing availability of gas. They estimate the cost of replacing the electrical network at between £150bn to £250bn. Yes, 250 BEEEELION POUNDS! As it happens this is the figure I came up with AND we have to add in the cost of three nuclear power stations at about £35bn each.

      Conservationist will say we can use photovoltaic and wind sources, but we need more power not just energy and these will not cut it. Anyone who does not understand the difference between power and energy should not comment. Sadly this group includes most journalist, politicians and ecowarriors. Yes we have to go nuclear; convention power generation will be inadequate after all we are running out of gas.

      It is amazing that the government has committed so much expenditure with a short statement and with no opposition. The cost will be more than Falklands, Afghanistan, Iraq, HS1 & 2, Crossrail and all the windfarms put together, How can this be allowed to happen?

      You might think that the bright sparks in the executive have an answer, but clearly there is not one single technical mind present. They think it is all about batteries and drivelines. It is not.

      If we don't do anything I can see that we might have civil disruption, "charger point rage" incidents, generators in the back of the garage, or the Clarkson view: a generator on the back seat. At the very least planning law should include that all new developments have the capacity to charge vehicles.

      There is a solution; we have not looked at alternatives. We need to invest in exhaust scrubbers; this should prolong the life of diesel. We need to invest in fuel cells. OK hydrogen is difficult to produce and store, but we could also use ammonia.

      It is a difficult question but there is no doubt that the policy came as a knee jerk reaction. It is not adequate, not fit for purpose and like the poll tax will cause no end of problems.

      Time to start protesting.

  2. LucreLout Silver badge

    Hmmm

    I'm slightly skeptical that they're making this problem bigger than it needs to be.

    Yes, I'll agree up front that powering all those vehicles from one location will melt the local power grid.

    However..... Could they not shift some of the? Could they not install solar panels on the roof and some powerwall size batteries?

    I wonder, given Must has cracked solar roof tiles, if some variant of them would not be strong enough to sustain some light vans parked upon it, allowing the car park to become a large solar panel. Also, do the vehicles have to be charged where they operate? RM is not short of land, so could disperse some of the vehicles for charging in other nearby locations.

    If we wait for a magic bullet to come along that solves all known issues before doing anything, then we'll always do nothing. Change what can be changed and live with the rest.

    I love V8s.... but I could love a Tesla too.

    1. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      @LucreLout

      I have to agree. They say some things that are a bit off. Like there not being a second hand market. That's generally because pretty much all EVs are under 3 years old and nobody is selling them yet. There are a few - ours will be one of them soon.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

      1. ChrisC

        Re: Hmmm

        "I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive."

        I'd love a Tesla model S (or indeed *any* of their lineup) with the electric drivetrain married to a cabin interior designed by someone who doesn't subscribe to the "less is more, so much more" philosophy which seems to have infected Tesla. If I can't instinctively reach out and find all the important and/or oft-used controls just by a combination of muscle memory and touch alone, then I don't want to know.

        So I applaud Tesla for helping to bring high performance long range EVs into the minds of the general public, but when the time comes for me to eventually make the switch away from ICE to electric, I suspect it'll be to one of the more established manufacturers who seem to have a far better understanding about how to design a car around the driver, rather than around the technology...

      2. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        Other factors included the expense – Tesla's entry-level Model 3 vehicle is $35,000 (£28,500) and there's no second-hand market

        Rhetorical question: But they are not seriously considering buying 49,000 Tesla Model 3 cars though are they?

        Answer: It's taxpayers money - of course they are.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "Other factors included the expense – Tesla's entry-level Model 3 vehicle is $35,000 (£28,500) and there's no second-hand market"

          To date, there is no £28,500 Model 3. They start at £33,600 with a two year wait.

    3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      Nope, it's a huge problem that will result in even higher electricity bills.

      Musk hasn't cracked solar roof tiles. He's sort of trying to sell them, but they're very expensive and not likely to produce much power. AFAIK there aren't any in the wild yet to produce real-world stats. Problem is..

      Solar gives you maybe 1kW/m^2 of potential energy, ie solar irradiance at surface. An EV may have a 100kWh battery, so depending on charge rates (10-120kW), you'd need 10-120m^2 or more per vehicle to charge it. But solar panels aren't 100% efficient, so you'd need more. And you can't rely on a constant 1kW/m^2 because that changes as the Sun's angle changes, or seasons change, or it's cloudy, or pigeons/London grime covers the panels.

      And of course at night, solar's usefulness drops to zero. Then Powerwalls or other displacement activities add cost. So if you're using solar to charge a Powerwall during the day, you can't be using that energy to charge a vehicle. Or do any other useful work. Assuming the Powerwall's fully charged, you might then try charging a vehicle from it. But a Powerwall has a capacity of 13.5kWh, and the Model S wants 100kWh.. And the cost per kWh for a Powerwall is around $400

      Which is around 10x more than current wholesale electricity prices, and a lot more than diesel.

      Then there's the challenge with power density, ie trying to charge a lot of vehicles at the same time, so say 100 @ 120kW for 'fast charging', which would mean a substation and hefty DC conversion facility installed in your car park. Fleet owners won't want to be paying those sorts of costs any time soon.

      But this is nothing new. After all, the first EV's were around a hundred years ago, and the problems are well understood.. By engineers, if not politicians.

      1. julian_n

        Re: Hmmm

        Maybe all postal deliveries should be done after dark - so the EVs have all day in the sun to charge?

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          By the time they work out the details, we'll no longer need a daily delivery of mail, so the problem will no longer exist.

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          Or employ more posties and deliver by foot, or pony and cart, or cycle.

          1. terrythetech

            Re: Hmmm

            Funny you should mention that. Local posties here in semi rural West Sussex now use vans to get posties to the area and then feet and a push trolley thingy for the post - they got rid of all the bikes a couple of years ago. I never saw any vans before that, electric or otherwise. I don't actually think they have any less posties than before - I'd assumed it was a time thing - get them to their rounds ASAP.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Hmmm

              "they got rid of all the bikes a couple of years ago. "

              Yes, because posties are carrying more packets and small parcels than ever before and they don't fit on bikes anymore. Vans are the only practical logistical way to get the goods to the rounds.

        3. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          Maybe all postal deliveries should be done after dark - so the EVs have all day in the sun to charge?

          All day? In winter? In the UK? I take it you've never lived here.

          In a UK winter a PV panel has an average capacity factor of around 5%, and may dip below 1% for days on end if there's no direct sunlight (and zero if there's snow on the panels). Even for one day's power for a delivery van, the required area of panels would be immense if it was to be reliable.

          1. Chloe Cresswell

            Re: Hmmm

            The other day, my mum's 12 panel (2.5kw) system broke 2kWh over the entire day for the first time since October, and I thought winter was coming to an end.. ;)

            1. Ledswinger Silver badge

              Re: Hmmm

              mum's 12 panel (2.5kw) system broke 2kWh over the entire day

              So that's a capacity factor of 3.3%. Lucky the rest of us are subsidising those panels, eh?

            2. inmypjs Silver badge

              Re: Hmmm

              " broke 2kWh"

              In other words it would take 12+ weeks (see below) to fully charge an 85kWh Tesla.

              In other words the panels have earned less than 30p a day since October.

              (Tesla model S claims 1% battery drain per day standby so 850Wh for the 85kWh one, people say they lose more than 1% per day and I wouldn't be surprised if it is significantly more if it needs to keep its battery warm in very cold conditions).

        4. Timbo

          Re: Hmmm

          "Maybe all postal deliveries should be done after dark - so the EVs have all day in the sun to charge?"

          That makes so much sense...as then most working people would be at home to receive "Signed For" deliveries and we wouldn't need to take a piece of card to our local delivery depot a day or two later to collect such items.

          Perhaps ALL delivery companies should follow this route? Far more efficient and no need to leave "I called but you were out" cards.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm

            Timbo

            Night deliveries!

            Err, at 3:00 AM I might be in, but I don't want to be awake waiting for a delivery, let alone the endless flow that seems to come to my house.

            1. jb99

              Re: Hmmm

              We had a delivery wake us up at 4:50 AM a few weeks ago "because it's the only time I can find people home". I was not impressed.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm

            "That makes so much sense...as then most working people would be at home to receive "Signed For" deliveries and we wouldn't need to take a piece of card to our local delivery depot a day or two later to collect such items."

            If the bulk of the mail that didn't need a signature was delivered at night, the balance could be delivered during the day by fewer postmen. It would also mean that there would be fewer postal vehicles on the road during the day/ faster completion of routes at night.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        But this is nothing new. After all, the first EV's were around a hundred years ago, and the problems are well understood.. By engineers, if not politicians.

        Either we solve the problem as a country or we cancel the ban on new ICE from 2040. Hydrogen won't have the time to build an infrastructure, and if people are forced to drive hybrids, then they will be plugging them in overnight.

        I'll happily have a V8 instead of a 'Leccy, but not if the government persist with taxing the arse out of one and subsidising uptake of the other. That would seem stupid. Which brings us back to the problem - we can't subsidise leccy if we can't cope with demand, but without subsidy, take up will be limited or nonexistant.

        Subsidy, for the above purposes, can be taken as the tax on petrol that is not applied for electric cars. Either we move to a pay per mile scheme for all vehicles - in which case how does that get retrofit to older cars and what of the privacy concerns - or we'd have to remove tax on petrol, which will make the green lobby explode in a fit of champagne socialist rage and leave the chancellor needing to cut 1/8th of his spending.

        So, what do we do? Going nuclear and upgrading leccy infrastructure seems like thhe only viable alternative, and that means starting today with a lot more generative capacity, putting an end to windmill and solar panel development - if you've paid squillions for umpteen new nuke plants, you are going to run them to end of life. I'm not sure that's a sellable idea of the future either. So what is?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          "Either we solve the problem as a country or we cancel the ban on new ICE from 2040."

          Imposing some demand on the future is something that's becoming an increasingly popular thing with politicians. It appears that they're Doing Something but as they won't be the ones doing it (providing they set an explicit date far enough into the future) they're effectively saying it has to be someone else who does it.

          In the real world we can only solve our immediate problems. We can look at what we might need further into the future. We can look at possible solutions. Until those possible solutions have been tested and we've found out which are practical and which aren't, and in what time-frame they can be made practical then we can't redesign the future.

          Stuff only becomes the norm when it's technically and economically viable. The only things that legislation can practically do are clear obstacles and avoid being an obstacle itself.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

            Why? It wouldn't accelerate anything like as quickly. Watched one of the sporty teslas pull away from the lights last year, was like watching a speeded up film.

            I guess it'd be funny to watch you pootle around in it.....

            1. Blank Reg Silver badge

              Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

              And in the real world teslas seems to be among the slowest cars on the road. I usually notice them as they are often getting in the way because they are driving so slowly. I guess they are concerned about using up too much battery.

              1. LucreLout Silver badge

                Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

                And in the real world teslas seems to be among the slowest cars on the road.

                My usual trips are well within the battery range of a Tesla, any of them. How often do you drive more than 250 miles without stopping? Unless you're under 40 years old, and don't have small kids, it won't be often :)

                My daily driver is quick enough to blow most others I meet into the weeds, thus I avoid a lot of accidents at roundabout exits by having entered and exited before the typical driver gets half way around and uses the wrong lane for the wrong exit. Any Tesla equivalent electric car will blast past my car so fast I won't be able to blink - at least until we get to the top half of the speedo, which would be almost never on British roads. The new roadster should do 0-60 in less than 2 seconds - faster than super car territory - you're into hypercar performance.

                A model 3 should do 0-60 in sub 5 seconds. To beat that with a petrol engine you'd usually need about 350-400 BHP at a guess. That's a power output well beyond the average ICE road car. Yes, you can buy a faster car for the money a model 3 will cost, but keeping it fuelled will likely be rather expensive by comparisson.

                Twin electric motors allow 4 wheel drive to put the power down without incurring normal transmission losses. Battery distribution allows you to position the weight to deliver optimal handling, rather than having a heavy lump of metal at one end adversely affecting handling at speed.

                There's no reason for an electric car to be going slowly - a hybrid maybe if they're ekeing out the battery charge, but full electric has all the torque available immediately - a feat even a supercharged engine cannot come close to matching.

                In case its not clear, Tesla can/will be substitutable for a.n.other leccy motor. Whatever the pros and cons of electric cars, performance isn't a problem anymore.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

                  "Whatever the pros and cons of electric cars, performance isn't a problem anymore."

                  Acceleration may not be, but other parameters are.

                  In cold weather the range deteriorates markedly, and drops even more when you are running heaters, fans, defrosters, and wipers to deal with the road salt/brine freezing on the windshield and trying to keep the cabin temperature sufficiently above zero (freezing) to keep ice from accumulating, which can require a 30 degree differential from the air flowing over the vehicle at 80 kph. Your chance of reaching a destination only 400 kilometers away without recharging once and probably twice are getting very slim. When there is enough traffic to keep 16 or 20 gasoline pumps busy at the service plaza, you are probably in for a wait for one of the 300 or so charging stations you would need to replace them. My gasoline powered car can make the round trip on one tank if I don't drive much in the destination city.

                2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

                  Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

                  The new roadster should do 0-60 in less than 2 seconds - faster than super car territory - you're into hypercar performance.

                  You're into "faster than anything that's come before but we're going to need new tyre technology to do it" territory there.

                  1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                    Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

                    You're into "faster than anything that's come before but we're going to need new tyre technology to do it" territory there.

                    Tyres are already an issue for EVs. Top of the line Tesla S weights 2,250kg vs a BMW 5 series 1,885kg. ICE cars have become lighter, EV's heavier on account of battery and motor weight. Which translates into increased tyre & road wear, which means increased PM2.5 particulates and general dust. Currently that's being blamed on diesels.

                    And the UK potentially highlights another challenge for EVs at the moment, namely how to deal with thousands of EVs stuck in the snow and sub-zero temperatures. That's both a safety of life challenge, ie rescuing motorists who's cars can't provide any heat, and clearing stranded vehicles.

                3. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

                  "In case its not clear, Tesla can/will be substitutable for a.n.other leccy motor. Whatever the pros and cons of electric cars, performance isn't a problem anymore."

                  I argue that there is TOO MUCH performance. It's very easy to get in a lot of trouble with a car that accelerates as fast as a Tesla. Some EV's limit acceleration to keep drivers from using up the battery quickly, keeping electrical currents within reason and preserving customers lives so they can buy another one. I had a friend that put a 5L Ford engine in an Austin Healy Bugeye Sprite. Completely mad off of the line and he finally lost it on a motorway slip road when it got away from him and he rubbed it against the guard rail.

            2. inmypjs Silver badge

              Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

              "It wouldn't accelerate anything like as quickly"

              Maybe because he could fill it up and drive 50 miles while the Tesla is waiting for a supercharger slot to become free (and another 50 while it is charging).

              Frankly it is ridiculous that Tesla sized the electronics motors and transmission so it can do its 500kW blow away everything from the lights 'ludicrous' mode party piece that has no practical application other than bragging rights for Tesla and tosspots.

              I watched Clarkson's recent model X review. He loved the stupid gimmicks. I would be embarrassed to own a Tesla. Try showing the bird that you can make it look like a James Bond submarine Lotus on the console display and see how much of a fanny magnet it is.

            3. smudge Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive.

              There's often a car parked at the gym I go to, with what is clearly a personalised number plate from an earlier car.

              The number is "V8 XYZ" (not really "XYZ" of course).

              The car is, as you guessed, a Tesla :)

        2. rtfazeberdee

          Re: Hmmm

          give it time, electricity will be taxed as petrol revenues go down, they will need to make up the shortfall somehow.

          As solar appears on more and more roofs with their own battery storage there will be less and less call on the major grid power generators (and also more turbines). the problem with nuclear is the time it takes to safely build one and the time and horrendous cost to decommission it at end of its life (and would you live on the land of a decommissioned nuclear power station?)

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm

            As solar appears on more and more roofs with their own battery storage there will be less and less call on the major grid power generators (and also more turbines).

            If you mean gas turbines, then you're right. Because solar's very expensive and unreliable, we need to spend even more money on backup power generators that can cut in when it's dark, or the wind's wrong. Like at the moment where we have very cold weather and not much wind.

            the problem with nuclear is the time it takes to safely build one and the time and horrendous cost to decommission it at end of its life (and would you live on the land of a decommissioned nuclear power station?)

            The problem with nuclear is we've had decades of loony Greens and ecofreaks telling us they're a very bad thing. So we must cover the UK with wind turbines and solar panels instead. But living with nuclear power is pretty safe. So the only new reactors that have gone operational in the UK are inside 100x11m tubes with 100 people living in and around them, ie our Astute submarines and their RR PWR-2s

            And because there's so much fear of nuclear power, that translates into regulatory costs and delays whilst they object. And the renewables lobby don't want nuclear either, because modular 1GW reactors provide low carbon power 24x7x365 at a relatively predictable cost.. Which is much lower than the cost of wind, solar and especially if you factor in the need for stand-by generation, grid upgrades, storage etc etc.

            The renewables lobby will of course promise solutions to the problems they've created, but all they do is add more cost, which all UK energy users will end up paying.

            1. Isitari

              Re: Hmmm

              http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ < says otherwise about the generation of Electricity from Wind at the moment.

              Though all your other points are valid.

              P.S. Looks like they're avoiding using gas as its very expensive atm. Has the link been restored yet that was damaged around christmas from the rigs?

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Hmmm

              "would you live on the land of a decommissioned nuclear power station"

              Yes. Quite happily so.

              The total "high level waste" from a current technology nuclear power station is such a mind boggingly huge amount - almost enough to fill an olympic size swimming pool over the 60 year lifespan of a 800MWe plant - that it accounts for less that 0.1% of the footprint of the site - and radioactive materials have the advantage that you can detect them at a distance, unlike all the nasty toxic and cancer-inducing chemicals in a multi-square-mile coal ash slurry pond.

              Also: "high level" radioactive emitters are also shortlived ones. You should be more worried about all that depleted uranium dust (a very toxic heavy metal) scattered all over warzones in the world as it's a much bigger health risk.

              Decades of "greens" holding back development of safer nuclear power (molten salt based systems) are coming home to roost. We could have had waterless(*) nuclear power stations by now which would have been somewhere between 10,000 and 1 million times safer than current nuclear power - which is

              "only" 300,000 times safer than coal fired electricity.

              Statistics is your friend. There are no statistical anomolies in population health downwind of any nuclear power station, vs plenty of them downwind of fossil fuel plants. Noone died at Fukushima (although 1500 people died in the evacuation panic thanks to nuclear misinformation). 76 people died at Chernobyl and the _actual_ rate of cancers resulting from that is so low as to be almost indistiinguishable from background noise(**). Ditto at Hiroshima and Nagasaki - and as for the claim of "centuries" to cleanup after a meltdown, Three Mile Island's cleanup process is proceeding quite well, thankyouverymuch.

              (*) Molten salt systems take away the "radioactive steam bomb" risk and when you dig, you'll find water interactions or steam explosions at the core of every civilian (and most military) nuclear accidents so far. Prompt criticality causing instantaneous boiling and a steam explosion is a common theme.

              (**) "What about all those thyroid problems?" you ask. They were found because they were looked for. Korea had a similar screening process a few years back and found similar rates of abnormalities with no nuclear incidents in sight - and the appalling health problems of the Chernobyl response teams is mostly a result of being treated as pariahs by ignorant medics refusing to treat them because they are afraid of radioactivity being contagious than any actual radiological problems.

              1. Isitari

                Re: Hmmm

                The WHO don't exactly agree with you.

                http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Hmmm

                  "http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/"

                  Not exactly news, is it.

                  Anyone who has been paying attention to the data has known for a long time that the greatest damage in accidents such as Three Mile Island, Fukushima, and Chernobyl is inflicted by media fueled psychological stress, economic dislocation from excessive 'caution' on the part of the governments, and loss of power generation capacity.

                  Probably the greatest of these is the long term effects of baseless fears stoked by headline seeking media, political opportunists, and ignorant anti-nuclear activists.

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: Hmmm

                    " ignorant anti-nuclear activists."

                    The kind of people who equate "nuclear bombs = bad, therefore nuclear power = bad."

                    It's about as credible as saying "molotov cocktails = bad therefore cars = bad" - because they both use petrol.

                    There are plenty of objections to current PWR/BWR nuclear technology, but Alvin Weinberg (who invented the bloody technology!) addressed those in the 1950s and 1950s by developing molten salt systems and eliminating the water. He was deeply concerned about his small _proof of concept_ design being scaled up to insane sizes with massive pressures for commercial use. Richard Nixon killed the R&D and put everything back around 60 years.

                2. LucreLout Silver badge

                  Re: Hmmm

                  The WHO don't exactly agree with you.

                  From your link:

                  "5 SEPTEMBER 2005 | GENEVA - A total of up to 4000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident nearly 20 years ago, an international team of more than 100 scientists has concluded."

                  I have concluded I COULD eventually die from sexual exhaustion occasioned by a three way with Taylor Swift and Kylie Minogue. That doesn't mean it WILL happen.

                  Their own numbers put the death toll at fewer than 50 people to date - you can expect most of those to be the poor first responders. How many decades ago was Chernobyl now? Peanut allergies have probably killed more Belarussions, AIDS too, and suicide certainly.

                  The fact is that the risk to the general populace from nuclear power is extremely low. More people have probably died due to premature respiratory illness in Xian in China (home of the terracota warriors) than will have died due to nuclear power globally in the history of nuclear power. Coal fired power being the main cause of pollution in Xian; the locals all come out when it rains at night as its the only way to see the stars.

                3. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Hmmm

                  "http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/"

                  if you look more deeply into that you'll see that they lump a lot of things together, with more problems and deaths being caused by relocation trauma amongst the elderly (which also happens after large earthquakes and suchlike) and the generally atrocious state of medical care in former soviet countries.

                  The actual number of deaths caused by radiation exposure is quite low and if someone dies at age 82 instead of 83 due to exposure, how are you going to differentiate that from decades of drinking bad vodka or smoking?

                  Aircrew get far higher radiation exposures than any other occupation on the planet and the rate of excess deaths or cancers attributable to high energy proton/gamma radiation exposure is essentially zero. (Smokers get higher doses still, but what kills them is almost invariably chemically triggered even if the triggers are polonium breakdown products in the lungs, such as lead and bismuth)

                  For years, WHO was telling us that single men didn't live as long as single women based on japanese studies and missed the factor that the essential difference which hadn't been factored in was _diet_ - and once that was added into calculations, everything equallled out.

                  The facts of the matter is that the _only_ way that carbon emissions can be capped, let alone reduced is by moving wholesale to nuclear power and it's better to use a system that was proven safer 50 years ago before being shut down for primarily military/political reasons. Greenwashing by trying to count burning old growth forests as "renewables" is one of the more heinous environmental frauds.

              2. Adam 52 Silver badge

                Re: Hmmm

                The reason Chernobyl has low deaths might be because 400,000 people were displaced.

                As for there only being a few deaths and injuries from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, well I think you might need to re-read your history books.

                You've also selectively picked some incidents and ignored others. Statistics are only your friends if you use them honestly.

                1. imanidiot Silver badge

                  Re: Hmmm

                  @Adam52,

                  So give us examples of nuclear incidents with higher death tolls. According to that WHO report a large portion of those 400,000 didn't have to be displaced. A portion of the deaths among them were DUE TO the displacement and NOT the radiation.

                2. Daniel 18

                  Re: Hmmm

                  "As for there only being a few deaths and injuries from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, well I think you might need to re-read your history books.

                  You've also selectively picked some incidents and ignored others. Statistics are only your friends if you use them honestly."

                  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  I didn't mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki because they weren't nuclear power plants. They were weapons explosions. Surprise! A big expensive weapon can kill quite a few people.

                  Nuclear power plants, however, have never produced a nuclear explosion, and in fact cannot do so. The more modern the reactor design, the harder it is to get them to hurt someone. Chernobyl was a cheap primitive reactor design dating back to the early 1950s, with a lack of safety features that would not be tolerated in any moderately up to date reactor. The operators managed to achieve a total worst case failure, but even then the casualties were pretty insignificant compared to failures we've seen associated with other power technologies, such as hydroelectric power.

                  Trying to evaluate nuclear power safety based on Chernobyl is like trying to assess the safety of air travel based on the accident records of 1916 biplanes... it is irrelevant to current designs.

                  Statistics are your friend if you use them properly.

              3. EBG

                Hmmm indead

                I would happily live on a decommissioned NPP site. After the spent fuel has been shipped off to Sellafield. And after the 130 year decay time for the activated infrastructure to go to de-minimus.

                You have 2 hazards. The radiation dose, which, as you say, is dominated by short lived isotopes. Also, fission product contamination which is all together a different thing. Think Pu - that's highly radio-toxic, and no - you can't easily detect it - it's alpha. Fission products BTW are vastly worse than DU.

                The LOCA hazard is not just the steam explosion, although that has killed people. It's the fact that a lot of designs ( PWR being the obvious one ) then have a core meltdown in the absence of active safety measures being taken.

                You can't just wave away the death toll at Chernobyl. Yes - the statistical deaths are over-stated. But many of those present in the response took a fuck of a dose, and it's bollocks to say they'd have survived with western medical treatment.

                Molten salt systems were well examined decades ago. They don't work reliably. Other than the Soviet alpha class boats (which aside from acoustic noise, kept having solidification problems ) , no-one has built a second unit of any design. Just waving your hands about saying thorium / pebble bed / molten salt/ or whatever without saying why it'll work now when it didn't work then is no different from saying we'll all drive EV and just waving your hands about when asked about generation and transmission.

                1. SkippyBing Silver badge

                  Re: Hmmm indead

                  Having lived in Cornwall I'd more than happily live on a decommissioned nuclear site as the radiation levels would probably be lower. In fact I've read somewhere that it'd be almost impossible to decommission a nuclear plant built in Cornwall as the background radiation level is higher than that you have to restore the sight to. Hence no one's built on there. I mean that and NIMBY second home owners.

                  1. EBG

                    Re: Hmmm indead

                    Probably an illustration of the (as near as matters) zero radiological risk when everything is operating to the regs. In practice, you could resolve what was radon and what was from the plant operations.

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019