Renewable energy is rubbish, nuclear is brilliant!

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  • Renewable energy is rubbish, nuclear is brilliant!
  • Junkyard
    Member

    I think fusion is the only solution that will allow us to continue our energy binge

    we dont yet have a commercially viable system that produces more than it consumes – We dont even have a large scale onethat can produce more than it uses.

    Fusion powered electricity generation was initially believed to be readily achievable, as fission power had been. However, the extreme requirements for continuous reactions and plasma containment led to projections being extended by several decades. In 2010, more than 60 years after the first attempts, commercial power production was still believed to be unlikely before 2050

    It is not part of the solution as yet and it would be foolhardy to assume we will crack it and all will be fine

    fr0sty125
    Member

    Junkyard – lazarus
    It is not part of the solution as yet and it would be foolhardy to assume we will crack it and all will be fine

    I agree but the technology to make it possible is only starting to come available now. If ITER is successful then things may progress more quickly than in the past. By 2050 we could have a commercial reactor.

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Subscriber

    fr0sty125 – Member

    I think fusion is the only solution that will allow us to continue our energy binge. If that fails then I guess long term we will have to get a bit more frugal so that renewables are viable. Solar power seems distinct from other renewables in having an appreciable scientific upside. Advances in other areas are / will be engineering driven as the scientific principles are mainly understood and have been for 1000s of years in some cases. There’s a lot of scope for scientific invention and creativity with photovoltaics that is maybe not there in other areas. In a 100 years time a windmill is still going to be a windmill, maybe with the blades a bit more curved. A futuristic PV cell is beyond our ken.
    Still need the sun to be shining like.

    natrix
    Member

    we dont yet have a commercially viable system that produces more than it consumes –

    Which is why we need to invest in research to produce one. It is estimated that developement will cost the same as HS2.

    I’d rather have limitless clean energy than a poxy train set………..

    ransos
    Member

    Which is why we need to invest in research to produce one.

    Is it simply a case of “throw money at it and it will work”?

    Junkyard
    Member

    By 2050 we could have a commercial reactor.

    And we may not we cannot just hope this will solve our problems though it is not hard to see why limitless free clean power appeals.

    Which is why we need to invest in research to produce one.

    While fusion power is still in early stages of development, substantial sums have been and continue to be invested in research. In the EU almost €10 billion was spent on fusion research up to the end of the 1990s, and the new ITER reactor alone is budgeted at €10 billion.

    It is estimated that up to the point of possible implementation of electricity generation by nuclear fusion, R&D will need further promotion totalling around €60-80 billion over a period of 50 years or so (of which €20-30 billion within the EU) based on a report from 2002.[48] Nuclear fusion research receives €750 million (excluding ITER funding), compared with €810 million for all non-nuclear energy research combined,[49] putting research into fusion power well ahead of that of any single rivaling technology.

    Not a fan of all my eggs in one basket and I am not convinced money alone will crack it. We cannot be certain it will work unlike the others which we do know work

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Still need the sun to be shining like.

    Well not necessarily. If it’s efficient enough it’ll still work on dull days. Ok so it won’t work at night, but the hours of darkness are entirely predictable so storage can be planned.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    Ah I love these threads, but not enough googling of tenuous links yet.

    I’m greatly in favour of renewable energy but accept O&G companies will exploit every possible reserve, without doubt, until it is all gone.

    Tidal stream devices seem the most ‘safe’ of the renewable sources to me, a truly dependable and predictable energy source as long as the universe keeps going like it is, probably why the big boys like Kawasaki are moving into it now with significant investments.

    Premier Icon philtricklebank
    Subscriber

    I ought to know better than to get involved but hey. I for one am against new nuclear. It is not devoid of CO2 emissions and therein lies one of the most common misconceptions. The available ores are diminishing in quality and take a fair bit of energy to get out of the ground. The emissions cost of building, waste management and decommissioning have to be taken into account. Here is a useful link for the interested, and the home page gives a detailed analysis of the whole industry, albeit from a certain point of view

    http://www.stormsmith.nl/i05.html

    Regarding the cost – remember BNFL’s marketing BS from the 60’s? “Energy too cheap to meter!” Yeah right. Nuclear is possibly the most heavily subsidised industry on the planet, and that is unlikely to change. I’d rather we subsidise something that won’t give us such a 50,000 year headache.

    Just my point of view of course!

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer
    Subscriber

    I’m greatly in favour of renewable energy but accept O&G companies will exploit every possible reserve, without doubt, until it is all gone.

    Same here, and even with 100% renewable electrical power and 100% electrically propelled transport (cars, trains, ships, but also planes banned forever cos there’s not enough avgas), there is still one massive need for fossil fuels. At least until such time as they can make solar micro-/mini-furnaces.

    zokes
    Member

    Precisely. And seeing as we don’t have the Alps, what do we do?

    Not build as many nukes as France? Turning this into a TJ-esque all or nothing argument won’t help you win.

    I for one am against new nuclear.

    Why?

    It is not devoid of CO2 emissions and therein lies one of the most common misconceptions.

    Noone ever said it was, unless you used to mistakenly believe this. Hence low carbon, as opposed to zero-carbon

    The available ores are diminishing in quality and take a fair bit of energy to get out of the ground.

    You should really look at some of those presentations Kit posted

    The emissions cost of building, waste management and decommissioning have to be taken into account.

    They are, and because of the energy density of the fuel itself, nuclear power comes out very favourably

    Regarding the cost – remember BNFL’s marketing BS from the 60’s? “Energy too cheap to meter!” Yeah right. Nuclear is possibly the most heavily subsidised industry on the planet, and that is unlikely to change.

    Again, have a look at some of those presentations, that, and realise that those claims did indeed come from the 60’s. Noone is claiming that now – what may well change is level of subsidy. All non-fossil energy production is subsidised.

    I’d rather we subsidise something that won’t give us such a 50,000 year headache.

    Again, look at the state-of-the-art, and recognise that with proper re-processing and fast reactors, this ceases to be the case

    Belief is fine, but try to back it up with facts. I see no reason not to trust the leading scientists in the field who presented at the conference Kit went to. I say this simply as a scientist myself – I don’t lie or twist the truth when I present on my topic, and I very much doubt any other respected scientist would.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    wobbliscott – Member

    population control is not on any countries political agenda as far as I know.

    Well. It kind of is. Birth rates tend to drop as prosperity rises and health improves (reducing child mortality and increasing lifespans). Look at us- we don’t need a 2 child law, we’re already hovering around the replacement rate. Population’s rising because longevity’s improving but that should sort itself out over time (it’s a rubber-banding effect, until people stop dying anyway).

    The trouble with nuclear… I’m comfortable with a nuclear future, but the maths gives me trouble. Our existing reactors are mostly old and creaky… We’ve got 3 new ones in planning (and no guarantee they’ll all be built) and they’re not going to be in place before the oldest reactors are retired, and even once they’re up and running they don’t produce as much power. So we have shrinking nuclear generation currently, not growing.

    I did some back-of-envelopes numbers a while back and it seems like we need about 50 new reactors of this type, if nuclear is to be a fossil fuel replacement, and we need them yesterday. But it takes a long time (10 years~) to get a new one running, even assuming we had the capacity to build 50 simultaneously, which I doubt. So £140bn by the government’s very optimistic figures (which no generating company agrees with), with no consideration of running costs, end of life, staffing (there are not that many qualified staff) grid connection, fuelling, etc etc.

    Turn it around a little, more realistic to think we’ll build a bunch at a time. What’s the lifespan of a new reactor? 40 years apparently for the Wylfa design so we need to initiate a new reactor every 10 months or so in order to get them all built before the first of the new ones shuts down, then continue on that basis indefinitely (barring design improvements of course). And then we also start decommissioning at the same rate- looking at existing cases, 5 years is considered a fast turnaround for decom.

    All these numbers are shonky, but I went with favourable estimates, the real case is probably worse. So if nuclear’s the answer, it’s a bit of an iffy one. Not as iffy as trusting in the fusion deus ex machina though.

    mikewsmith
    Member

    Some good points Northwind, highlighting the biggest problem.
    There is no plan. The UK will run out of energy because people keep arguing about what is the best thing to do.

    That doesn’t mean we should’t do anything, for every generator that is lost the capacity needs to be mapped on in planning/building. Information like that might help convince the public that they might not like all the answers (there is more than one) but will need to get on board with some of them PDQ or it’s going to be getting dark & cold.

    The prospect of every home having a dirty great diesel generator outside will only skip the problem on a little and shove up the price of fuel.

    CountZero
    Member

    I struggle with long sentences, although I’ve had a fast scan through. I’ve seen no mention of the THOR Project, appropriately enough in Norway.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-based_nuclear_power

    mikewsmith
    Member

    UK’s assessment of Thorium currently

    Summary
    NNL believes that the thorium fuel cycle does not currently
    have a role to play in the UK context, other than its potential
    application for plutonium management in the medium to long
    term and depending on the indigenous thorium reserves, is
    likely to have only a limited role internationally for some years
    ahead. The technology is innovative, although technically
    immature and currently not of interest to the utilities,
    representing significant financial investment and risk without
    notable benefits. In many cases, the benefits of the thorium
    fuel cycle have been over-stated.
    Nevertheless, the thorium fuel cycle does offer exciting
    prospects for R&D needs, with investment and development
    required across the entire fuel cycle including fuel properties,
    performance and fabrication, reactor safety and performance
    and reprocessing technology. In the event that future reactors
    are chosen as the way forward for thorium utilisation (such
    as a HTR, fast reactor or ADS), then additional investment
    will also be required to design, license and construct that
    new technology. Any investor needs to be cognisant of
    the immaturity and therefore risk associated with such an
    undertaking as well as the level of investment needed at each
    and every process/stage in this entirely new fuel cycle.

    http://www.nnl.co.uk/media/27860/nnl__1314092891_thorium_cycle_position_paper.pdf

    Biggest issue is it’s not ready as a technology. We need to do something now.

    Just as an aside, China’s one child policy is now pretty much unenforced. You’ll still see female infants’ bodies in the gutters of rural China but this is purely down to the cultural desire for a son, ingrained through decades of said policy. Dan Brown’s Inferno is badly written but makes a fair point imho…

    WackoAK
    Member

    any thoughts on this?

    Having not long returned from a trip to Iceland I’m staggered that nothing similar has been tried here (I accept it’s a lot easier in Iceland due to their geology).

    Premier Icon philtricklebank
    Subscriber

    Belief is fine, but try to back it up with facts. I see no reason not to trust the leading scientists in the field who presented at the conference Kit went to. I say this simply as a scientist myself – I don’t lie or twist the truth when I present on my topic, and I very much doubt any other respected scientist would.

    I think I did try to back it up with facts, or perhaps you just didn’t like those facts? Cherry pick away, we are perhaps all guilty of that, myself included.

    I half-trust the scientists, mostly. I too am one of those oh-so-trustworthy beasties. But would they also be the same scientists that are scratching their heads to explain why steam is still coming out of Fukushima, and radioactive waste is still spilling into the sea? The same ones that undertake fairly dodgy practices in the current UK nuclear industry?

    Hardly a year goes by in the UK without some new and terrible revelation about Sellafield. In 2004 the EC took our government to court over Sellafield’s refusal to let its inspectors into one of its dumps (i think Blair and Bush started on Iraq over something similar). In 2003 EC inspectors discovered a pond containing over a tonne of plutonium that had been sitting there unacknowledged and unchecked for thirty years. No wonder Sellafield didn’t fancy letting them take a peek the following year. In 2005 investigators found that a pipe at the complex had been leaking, undetected , for over eight months, spilling nitric acid and 20 tonnes of uranium and a few kilos of plutonium. A mere bagatelle! Why stop with Sellafield? In 1997 Dounreay’s operators admitted they had been dumping waste for years into an open hole they had dug above the crumbling coastal cliffs. The shaft had exploded 20 years prior to this, scattering plutonium over the beaches, but the operators decided that was best kept quiet. When found out they promised “no more cover ups”, but the following year they were forced to admit they had dug a second hole into which it was still dumping unsealed waste. Trustworthy?

    But like you say, the state-of-the-art will solve all those issues. Just remind me how long they will take to construct and bring on line? Will that solve the problems of climate change in time? Assuming you believe in such inconvenient science of course?

    Most of all it’s the politicians I don’t trust. I thought this presentation Prof Steven Thomas that Kit linked to was most telling. £500bn over 40 years? Amazing. 🙄

    ransos
    Member

    Not build as many nukes as France? Turning this into a TJ-esque all or nothing argument won’t help you win.

    Eh? Perhaps you should re-read my posts, rather than selectively quoting for the purpose of generating an argument.

    We can’t have as much nuclear as France because their strategies for balancing supply and demand are not available to us. So what do we do instead?

    Murray
    Member

    Small aside – nuclear power plants can be designed to spool up and down rapidly – see nuclear subs. It has to be designed in but could be one of the criteria for some new plants. One approach is to bypass the turbines to reduce electricity production. That requires no change to the operation of the glowing part.

    Coal plants also don’t tend to spool up very quickly.

    ransos
    Member

    Small aside – nuclear power plants can be designed to spool up and down rapidly – see nuclear subs. It has to be designed in but could be one of the criteria for some new plants. One approach is to bypass the turbines to reduce electricity production. That requires no change to the operation of the glowing part.

    Coal plants also don’t tend to spool up very quickly.

    Well, they could, but given the high start-up and low marginal cost of operation, I suggest economics will dictate them being run as baseload.

    zokes
    Member

    But would they also be the same scientists that are scratching their heads to explain why steam is still coming out of Fukushima, and radioactive waste is still spilling into the sea?

    Probably not, actually

    The same ones that undertake fairly dodgy practices in the current UK nuclear industry?

    I would suspect that engineers, rather than scientists are to blame here.

    But like you say, the state-of-the-art will solve all those issues

    I didn’t, actually

    Just remind me how long they will take to construct and bring on line?

    Quite a while, I’d suspect. Perhaps a bit longer than a new fleet of coal powered stations with CCS, but not much. And that’s if CCS can be proven to work on such a large scale (and, with the same caveats of making sure the C stays C and Sed as others apply to nuclear waste). I don’t doubt the technology is promising, but just as there are yet to be any new generation nuclear plants operating in the UK, I’m not aware of any GW-sized coal plants with CCS either. So, if CCS doesn’t work, and gas starts to run out because the Russians get upset, where does that leave us? Coal, only without the CCS bit. Wonderful.

    Will that solve the problems of climate change in time?

    No, it won’t, single handedly. Massively cutting our (and I mean in the global sense of the word) use of energy might. But as that’s not going to happen, making a start by producing the energy we do by emitting as few GHGs as possible would be helpful. Having arguments that conclude in 20 years time that there is no one-size-fits-all answer after all is not helpful.

    Assuming you believe in such inconvenient science of course?

    Why the pointless dig? I don’t believe in it anyway. However, from the large amount of literature I have read on the topic, I agree with the vast majority of scientists who state that the anthropogenic production of GHGs is inextricably linked to the increasingly rapid changes to climate and weather patterns. Belief is for the religious.

    £500bn over 40 years? Amazing.

    The century of cheap energy is over. Not sure what’s so amazing about that, unless you have shares in the Canadian tar sands industry.

    We can’t have as much nuclear as France because their strategies for balancing supply and demand are not available to us. So what do we do instead?

    Build fewer nuclear plants than the French whilst also investing heavily in other forms of energy production – notably tidal and wave. That, and trying to get a few more roofs covered in solar panels.

    T1000
    Member

    [Northwind – Member]

    [What’s the lifespan of a new reactor? 40 years apparently for the Wylfa design so we need to initiate a new reactor every 10 months or so in order to get them all built before the first of the new ones shuts down]

    nope absolute rubbish……..same old dumb arguments…… 60yr +….. no one would build a 50yr old design just like you wouldn’t base your choice for your next car on data for a morris oxford……

    T1000
    Member

    most of the arguments for the renewable technologies conveniently ignore that they have hi embodied carbon/ energy yet V short lives in infrastructure terms + you have to duplicate the capacity and distribution systems for when the wind doesn’t blow, sun doesn’t shine, between tides……

    I’m v positive about the use of these technologies however lots of the arguements for them are full of holes…..

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    T1000 – Member

    nope absolute rubbish……..same old dumb arguments…… 60yr +…..

    Not what the company supplying them says, maybe you’d better tell them they’re wrong.

    Junkyard
    Member

    Redundant post

    wrecker
    Member

    The emissions cost of building, waste management and decommissioning have to be taken into account.

    I went to an energy seminar at the chartered institute of building services engineers. It wasn’t a pro or anti renewable, just a clear headed engineering look. One speaker was an expert in embedded carbon. He told us that turbines often aren’t even carbon neutral. Manufacturers (apparently) aren’t keen to include the operational energy used from the full manufacture (design, trialling, mining, smelting, fabrication, transport). I’ve not looked into it, just what I was told by someone making a very handsome living by appraising carbon costs.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I wonder if we might all be better off coming up with a decent energy transport sytem, instead of generation?

    Something like say, a hydrogen pipeline that doens’t leak, or a way of synthesising hydrocarbons from atmospheric carbon. If we had that, Iceland, Morocco etc could become the new Saudi and Kuwait, generating masses of carbon free energy and piping it around the world.

    T1000
    Member

    Northwind – Member

    #
    T1000 – Member

    nope absolute rubbish……..same old dumb arguments…… 60yr +…..

    Not what the company supplying them says, maybe you’d better tell them they’re wrong.

    nope not from the 3 manufacturers I’ve dealt with……

    or you could try using google…for a second ….

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Power-Reactors/Advanced-Nuclear-Power-Reactors/

    He told us that turbines often aren’t even carbon neutral.

    More comically tragic was the story I was told about the offshore turbines in essex.

    The turbines have to be regularly maintained by chaps on boats.

    The total energy produced by the wind farm, did not even cover the fuel (or energy equivalent thereof) required to get the maintenance boats out to the turbines and back.

    However the company running the place were still making a small mint from the government feed-in subsidies.

    (all a bit pub fact-y, I know)

    Incidentally, molgrips, hydrogen has to be generated and as that process isn’t 100% efficient, we’re better off using the energy in its original format (like oil for instance).

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Incidentally, molgrips, hydrogen has to be generated and as that process isn’t 100% efficient

    The reason I mentioned Iceland or Morocco is that places like those have the potential to generate almost limitless power rather easily. If this could be shipped around the world easily, like oil is today, then we could all benefit from it.

    Ok so perhaps not Morocco, it might be hard to get enough water to the hot wasteland bits. Somewhere like Western Australia would be good.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    More comically tragic was the story I was told about the offshore turbines in essex.

    The turbines have to be regularly maintained by chaps on boats.

    The total energy produced by the wind farm, did not even cover the fuel (or energy equivalent thereof) required to get the maintenance boats out to the turbines and back.

    Absolute cobblers. My favourite ‘story I’ve been told’ is apparently from a wind turbine technician who blew the industry’s secret 😉 that the turbines actually use electricity from the grid to make them turn faster to improve public perception.

    I went to an energy seminar at the chartered institute of building services engineers. It wasn’t a pro or anti renewable, just a clear headed engineering look. One speaker was an expert in embedded carbon. He told us that turbines often aren’t even carbon neutral. Manufacturers (apparently) aren’t keen to include the operational energy used from the full manufacture (design, trialling, mining, smelting, fabrication, transport). I’ve not looked into it, just what I was told by someone making a very handsome living by appraising carbon costs.

    If you can find a credible peer reviewed source for this claim, post it here!

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    And also compare it with the energy used to build and maintain a coal or gas power station… And mine the coal or drill the gas.. or ship it over from China or Russia or wherever….

    wrecker
    Member

    I’m not pro or anti. The point is that the power stations produce the amount of energy required to produce them several hundred times over. Some contest that turbines don’t. I don’t know, and I’m not pretending that I do.

    T1000
    Member

    Embodied Carbon / Energy is only part of the story… its far more important to consider the Whole Life Carbon…

    It needs to be considered over an extended period… not just the period which suits a particular lobby….

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    T1000 – Member

    nope not from the 3 manufacturers I’ve dealt with……

    or you could try using google…for a second ….

    Oh dear, the combination of random rudeness and millions of full stops is an endearing one, especially when I do as you suggest and the very first google hit, from wnn, supports the 40 year lifespan…

    But for the sake of argument, let’s ignore that and assume a 60 year lifespan. This tweaks the numbers to needing to build a new plant and decommission a new plant every 14 months or thereabouts, which is still a huge, continuing building program. And even then, that’s just to achieve sustainability once we have adequate production, it’s not very useful to just produce on that scale for now.

    Yes, we can hope for better designs in the future but the reactors we can start planning today will be the designs we have today, so there’ll be no massive change in the assumptions for productivity and lifespan- the bulk of our plants would be present-day designs for the long term.

    wrecker
    Member

    Yep, he went into whole life carbon as well. Ill try and dig out the presentation.

    Edukator
    Member

    If the focus changed from increasing production to reducing demand the energy issue would be solved in a few years.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    No, it wouldn’t. You still have to generate energy somehow. And no matter how well we insulate our homes, a lot of industry still needs a lot of power.

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