Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power Is Greenest, Say Scientists

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Fusion
businessinsider

One enduring conundrum in the climate change debate is the fierce opposition to nuclear power by those who most fear man-made global warming. Once up and running nuclear power plants emit no greenhouse gases and produce power that is safe and reliable. In addition, researchers have devised many new designs that are safer and more reliable than the old-fashioned boiling water reactors. In some designs the reactors even "burn" nuclear wastes, thus eliminating one of the remaing major objections to this form of energy.

The Independent is reporting an open letter by prominent biologists being published in the journal Conservation Biology that endorses nuclear power as a critical factor in avoiding the disruptive climate change they believe the continued use of fossil fuels will produce. From The Independent:

Recognising the "historical antagonism towards nuclear energy" among environmentalists, they write: "Much as leading climate scientists have recently advocated the development of safe, next-generation nuclear energy systems to combat climate change, we entreat the conservation and environmental community to weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources using objective evidence and pragmatic trade-offs, rather than simply relying on idealistic perceptions of what is 'green'."

It is too risky to rely solely on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power for replacing fossil fuels because of problems to do with scalability, cost, materials and land use, they explain….

"Nuclear power – being far the most compact and energy-dense of sources – could also make a major, and perhaps leading, contribution …. It is time that conservationists make their voices heard in this policy area," they say.

Well, yes. And wouldn't it be sweet if the fusion reactor design revealed last year by engineers at Lockheed Martin were actually to work?

For more background on the stupidity of green opposition to nuclear power see my article, "The Cultural Contradictions of Anti-Nuke Environmentalists."

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  1. I’m going to file this under “Duh”.

    1. I can’t even….

  2. ‘Scientists’ like the ones who say global warming is man made? I think I will pass.

    1. Or that saturated fat and cholesterol clogs your arteries, sodium causes high blood pressure, and fiber/phytonutrients/anti-oxidants/etc. fight cancer?

      Science spends a lot of time fooling itself that it finds the right answers when, in reality, it just finds the most immediately believable ones.

      1. Science spends a lot of time fooling itself that it finds the right answers when, in reality, it just finds the most immediately believable ones.

        Science in many ways is a dick measuring contest. If a tenured professor happens to have a pet theory, and he is highly respected, good luck going against his ideas. If you wish to get tenure, publish, and work within the field, you tow the lion or else. Someone said science advances one death at a time, and they are correct; more so in the softer than harder sciences, but not by much.

  3. This is a solution to the “problem”. The AGW crowd ain’t looking for no solutions.

    1. Sure they are. More government and less economic freedom are their solutions to all problems.

    2. Forcing people to use significantly less energy and have a lower standard of living has been the solution all along.

      1. They want the US to be like Europe, to have European-size cars and washers and fridges and electric bills, the latter being the only one that’s big.

        1. Europe sucks. That is all.

          1. Not all of Europe.

        2. And it’s not called “austerity”.

  4. The Global Cooling/Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Chaos/Wrath of Gaia-crowd aren’t interested in a solution to their stated grievance that doesn’t involve reducing the average person to a subsistence-level of existence. They will never support nuclear power because it is something mankind can control, rather than something that puts people at the mercy of the Earth like say, a cloudy day’s effect on solar panels.

    1. Yep. They have this romantic notion of everyone being self sufficient and one with the earth. There’s a word for that: poverty.

      1. They should be dropped naked in the middle of the rain forest. Go be one with nature, asshole.

  5. I am all for Nuclear Power but as far as I understand none of these power plants has made a profit in the United States. They all have to be subsidized by the government. If so I don’t know how this a solution.

    1. I believe you are mistaken. They are costly to build and come with massive regulatory hurtles. Once build they earn a lot of revenue.

      After they are fully depreciated on the accounting books, 15 years last I heard, they are pure money machines.

      1. Imagine if nuclear weren’t so heavily regulated how profitable it could be. Plus I want my own mini-reactor so I say repeal all nuke laws.

        1. I keep reading about these mini reactors that you can just bury in the ground and use to power an entire suburb or small town for like 20 years. Those are the things I want.

          1. I was talking to a nuclear sub engineer and he said a piece of uranium the size of a golf ball can power his sub for 31 months.

            For a house, that ought to last a lot longer?

            1. Yeah. You could bury a reactor and let it run and never have to dig it up until it runs out of uranium. Then you just dig it up and replace it with a whole new reactor.

        2. Imagine if nuclear weren’t so heavily regulated how profitable it could be. Plus I want my own mini-reactor so I say repeal all nuke laws.

          The funniest/shittiest thing is that the regulation(s) are so anti-informative. It’s not even as transparent/effective as local building codes AFAIK.

          I don’t doubt that many of the people near Fukushima knew they weren’t within any sort of danger zone, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if most of the people in the US who could be in danger from their local reactor are aware of it.

          Not to say that the reactors are dangerous but here, yet again, is moneys being collected in the public interest without necessarily effectively or transparently advancing the public interest while paradoxically, monies collected with little/know public interest are compelled to be transparent. My neighbors have to post notice and let the neighborhood know if they want to add a bathroom to their house, but someone could put our entire neighborhood in the blast radius of a reactor and nobody is under any obligation to inform us.

          1. The people who need to know, like 1st responders and such are very much aware of how far away they are from the “local reactor.” They (along with the nuclear plant operator) regularly conduct safety drills and plan (and plan and plan some more) for many different possible problems and what the best course of action would be to take.

            That said, the nuclear plants in the US are built with much greater containment structures. Even with the lessor plant of Fukushima, the radiation levels estimated ended up being much lower than predicted, the number of deaths directly attributable to the accident is still 0 and not expected to rise, and more people were injured by the evacuation than the disaster.

  6. The argument of the nuclear antis is “what do we do about the waste?” as if that’s a debate ender, as opposed to a technical problem, which is solveable if politicians like Harry Reid don’t get in the way.

    1. We feed the waste to the reactor, since they can be designed to process it as additional fuel.

      1. Science is already scary. Now you’re saying there’s a monster that eats nukes and sh*ts out more nukes????

        Hold me, Mother Gaia!

    2. The IEEE Spectrum ran an article on why the US needs to embrace nuclear power a few years ago. That very point was brought up. The article pointed out that if we used the nuclear waste recycling system the French currently used, Yucca Mountain would go from overflowing with waste to 90% empty.

      1. There’s no waste being stored at Yucca Mountain. Harry Reid managed to keep it from ever opening.

    3. And to make matters worse, the antis fight any effort to transport nuclear waste anywhere, and to open a central geologically stable waste storage facility for the waste which can’t be reprocessed.

      The goal is to punish any community which allowed a nuke facility by making them store the waste onsite. They really are hoping for a nuclear waste containment failure.

  7. So Global Warming fanatics are anti-science then.

    1. They are definitely anti-technology. I think that’s spelled L-U-D-D-I-T_E.

  8. Who didn’t know this already?

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    1. If we could harness the energy of comment spam, the Age of Oil would be over forever.

  10. One enduring conundrum in the climate change debate is the fierce opposition to nuclear power by those who most fear man-made global warming.

    Of course you would be confused by that display of logical inconsistency if you keep assuming that what the warmists want is to stop global warming while at the same time allow mankind to progress economically.

    The warmists, along with their environmentalist brethren, are not interested in the betterment of mankind but its disappearance from the Earth. So of COURSE they would show a deep opposition to such clean-energy initiatives like nuclear power, because they already know wind and solar power have energy densities too low to power the modern industrial world.

    1. Ironically, in the latest IPCC report, the scenario with the most reduction in climate change is the scenario with the most economic growth and modernization of the Developing World.

    2. You’re right that enviro-mental nutjobs comprise a large fraction of the environmental movement. To some extent, the entire movement has a utopian notion about returning to the state of nature. However, most individuals in the movement have a childish faith that regulations will only affect large corporations and have no effect on their own standard of living.

      The enviro-mental nutjobs are for any technology that does not yet work and has dubious prospects for making a significant contribution to satisfying energy demand. So, they tout wind and solar to power electric cars and the hydrogen economy. They even used to advocate displacing coal with natural gas until fraccing made that a reality.

    1. That was written 20 years ago…

      1. Electric cars are just over the horizon, too.

        1. Electric cars are real – they were just never any good.

          1. They will solve the weight, range and time to recharge problems. They have been working on them for 120 years, the solution must be right around the corner.

            1. Aside:
              Musk decided they weren’t getting enough ink (or smells more gov’t money).
              Tesla is hot-rodding a roadster (which they no longer make) with all sorts of stuff to prove it can go from SF to LA in less than, oh, the 10-15 hours it takes now! Sorta like what Model T’s used to do regularly.
              At least, if it works like they hope:
              http://cleantechnica.com/2014/…..les-range/

              1. 400 mile range.wow. (pulls out calculator. my 99 mustang gets 23 mpg on the highway x 15 gal tank = “400 mile range not that impressive”)

                better aero.sure. but a cd of .31 is average these days.

                low rolling resistance tires. do they sell those for gasoline cars, too ?

                1. Yes Mainer, they do. There is another term for “low rolling resistance tire”; “no road grip tire”. There is more to life than MPG; like being able to stop and turn safely. Why any idiot would want a tire that was designed not to grip the road is beyond me.

                  1. Why any idiot would want a tire that was designed not to grip the road is beyond me.

                    Two words; Amphibious Landing

                    I must admit that I’d be internally conflicted if Elon Musk took away every combustion engine motor vehicle and replaced it with a hovercraft (of any power).

                  2. “There is another term for “low rolling resistance tire”; “no road grip tire”.”

                    You can add “back spasm tire”; those suckers are pumped up to pressures like a CO^2 cartridge!

  11. The Global Cooling/Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Chaos/Wrath of Gaia-crowd aren’t interested in a solution to their stated grievance that doesn’t involve reducing the average person to a subsistence-level of existence.

    If you live out in the “wilderness” as I do, you hear an astonishing amount of bitching about light pollution.

    “Those OTHER bastards out there in the valley should be sitting in the dark, so I can pretend I’m all alone out here!”

    What a bunch of clowns.

    1. Personally, I like to look at the night sky. One of my hobbies is astronomy.

      But also, an astonishing amount of light gets wasted in most outdoor light fixtures. Use the proper fixtures and you can use less powerful light bulbs to get the same amount of light on your target. And thereby save money.

      Check out the International Dark Sky Association.

      1. Yeah, but if you talk about shutting off the street lights to save money the soccer moms go apoplectic. Why do you hate the children, NaE?

  12. The left is always quick to flash it’s “pro-science” credentials, so naturally their opposition to nuclear energy gets a good laugh out of me. Organic food is a close second.

    1. “Excuse me sir, can you point me to the inorganic food aisle please? Yes, the one with the food that doesn’t contain carbon?”

      1. Is sodium chloride considered a foodstuff?

      2. *hands sarc a salt shaker*

        1. Was it lost?

          1. There’s a woman to blame.

            1. No, it was sarc’s own damn fault.

      3. Okay, that is really funny.

        I am trying to think, is there any food that doesn’t contain carbon? The bottled water isle would be “inorganic”. Anything else?

        1. No. That’s why it’s funny.

    2. You keep using this word organic. I dont’ think it means what you think it does. Prepare to die.

      1. Inconceivable!

  13. If you don’t believe in the AGW cult, which I don’t, it looks to me like coal is the greenest energy. A modern coal plant emits virtually nothing but carbon ash, CO2 and water vapor. Yes, it does dig a hell of a hole in the ground to mine it, but that is only in small areas and the land can be restored after the mining is over.

    I appreciate the virtues of nuclear power. It can, however, produce pretty catastrophic accidents. Sure, those accidents are rare. But the consequences when they do happen are huge. The country has tons of coal. It is cheap, generally doesn’t hurt the environment and is very reliable and will not produce any catastrophic accidents. Unless and until they come up with practical fusion, coal is our best option. So of course the Left will do everything in its power to keep us from using it.

    1. It can, however, produce pretty catastrophic accidents. Sure, those accidents are rare. But the consequences when they do happen are huge.

      I don’t think so. From a quick googlefu. Unless you are talking environmental issues.

      Energy Source Mortality Rates; Deaths/yr/TWh

      Coal – world average, 161
      Coal – China, 278
      Coal – USA, 15
      Oil – 36
      Natural Gas – 4
      Biofuel/Biomass – 12
      Peat – 12
      Solar/rooftop – 0.44-0.83
      Wind – 0.15
      Hydro – world, 0.10
      Hydro – world*, 1.4
      Nuclear – 0.04

      * Includes the 170,000 deaths from the failure of the Banquao Reservoir Dam in China in 1975

      1. You can also look at this from NASA.

        1. Again, if you believe in the AGW cult, sure coal is bad. I don’t believe in the AGW cult and therefore don’t consider CO2 to be harmful.

          1. Again, if you believe in the AGW cult, sure coal is bad.

            I don’t see where I said coal was good or bad. I am saying that coal, even with Japan and Ukraine is still much less deadly than coal. I do see where you said greenest, so I guess you would have to define ‘greenest.’

            1. What is deadly about coal? That there are accidents mining it? That is all I can see. There are accidents mining anything. And the miners would be subject to such risk regardless because if they were not working at mining coal they would be mining something else. So I don’t buy those statistics as meaning anything.

              Deadly means the fucking power plant kills you, not that some guy got run over by a bulldozer mining the coal to go in it.

              1. Deadly means the fucking power plant kills you,

                From the first link, I even highlighted the part where it is from the power plant operation.

                The USA: 30,000 deaths/yr from coal pollution of 2,000 TWh/yr, or 15 deaths/yr/TWh, a ratio that will likely remain about the same over the years

                1. It doesn’t say how they arrived at that figure. How the hell is the plant killing anyone? What science is that figure based upon? My guess it is either counting industrial accidents mining coal or bullshit pseudo science claiming “early deaths for those with breathing problems” or something.

                  1. It doesn’t say how they arrived at that figure

                    You can look here:

                    http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/…..risks.html

      2. So the Banquo dam was insubstantial ?

          1. FINALLY. I thought that was too obscure.

            And I got a narrowed gaze !

      3. Coal as it is used in the USA results in 15 deaths per year. And I said “catastrophic accidents”. That doesn’t mean no accidents or deaths, just not any big ones.

        That is the thing about nuclear. It is incredibly safe right up until it is not. What is the death rate for nuclear in Japan or Ukraine? Is there a place for nuclear? Sure. The modern reactors are pretty hard to fuck up so badly they will produce any real harm. But in places that are prone to earth quakes and or tsunamis? I don’t think so. Just go with coal and tell the AGW cult to fuck off.

        1. Proggies love trains right ? Tell them trains run on coal. Watch their heads start smoking like that guy on star trek.

          1. Most trains are diesel-electric.

            1. Except the Supertrain, which is nuclear powered.

            2. Yes, I know trains aer diesel-electric. I’m counting on the typical prog’s ignorance. They love trains and windmills, maybe they’ll buy the coal powered train gambit. (shrugs)

            3. I don’t know about worldwide, but in the NE use the trains are all electric. In the South and West there are no overhead power lines so diesel-electric.

              That’s why through-trains (South to Northeast) always have a long station stop in DC so they can change from a diesel loco to an all-electric loco.

              1. Even in the NE, freight trains are diesel-electric. And freight trains are the majority of rail traffic.

                1. Should have specified AMTRAK.

        2. “That is the thing about nuclear. It is incredibly safe right up until it is not. What is the death rate for nuclear in Japan or Ukraine?”

          Japan: “No deaths have been caused by the incident at the nuclear plant, though Japanese authorities have ordered people who live near the plant to evacuate because of the danger posed by radioactive particles that have been emitted from the plant.”
          http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/…..index.html

          Chernobyl: “The UN’s World Health Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency claim that only 56 people have died as a direct result of the radiation released at Chernobyl and that about 4,000 will die from it eventually.”
          http://www.theguardian.com/env…..rs-dispute
          And note the Chernobyl deaths are a result of the fine craftsmanship in a workers’ paradise, and they are ‘predicted’.

          1. There is still huge areas of land in both places that are uninhabitable. And there are long term effects to the radiation beyond the people who initially die.

            And of course Chernobyl was the result of the Soviets being fuck ups. What makes you think we are incapable or one of our neighbors like the Mexicans or the Cubans are incapable of fucking up too? You have to assume that people are going to fuck up and fuck up catastrophically at some point, because that is what people do.

            If you build enough nuclear power plants, there will at some point be a big accident. It is just how the world works.

            Why risk that when you can just burn coal and get the same power cheaper? And don’t tell me nuke power would be cheaper if we had fewer regs. That is true but that is never going to happen. People are never going to agree to nukes without serious regulation. It is just reality.

    2. Shale gas isn’t killing anybody at all, I don’t think. No mines to dig.

      And it’s cleaner than coal and we got lots and lots of it.

      1. But even though we have a ton of gas, we have more coal. We could conceivably run out of gas some day a lot sooner than coal.

        But yeah use that too. There is nothing that says it has to be all one thing. How about this, stop picking sides and let the market decide to use whatever is cheapest and works best?

        1. How about this:

          Use gas where the logistics and economics say gas.

          Use coal where the logistics and economics say coal.

          Use nukes where the geology and economics say nuke.

          Use solar in desert wastelands and other sunny remote areas where the economics say solar.

          Use wind where you want to kill birds and the economics say wind.

          Use geothermal and hydro where the geology, geography and economics say geothermal or hydro.

    3. Sure, those accidents are rare. But the consequences when they do happen are huge. The country has tons of coal. It is cheap, generally doesn’t hurt the environment and is very reliable and will not produce any catastrophic accidents.

      This is tautologically inconsistent; You set aside large and consistent environmental damage that coal mining does do on the *premise* that it can be repaired, but consider infrequent and relatively environmentally benign nuclear catastrophes as ‘huge’. Additionally, you ignore some practical (social) engineering issues as well.

      At least, if I imagined a large, prolonged environmental disaster, it would look more like North Antelope Rochelle than Pripyat, and if I look at what fuel source kills more people in acquisition and use, it’s coal.

      I don’t mean to say you’re wrong, just that you have a somewhat intractable way of setting aside CO2, accidents, and environment/pollution in order to get coal to the top.

      1. If mining is really harmful, fine. I am just skeptical that it is or is over large areas.

        1. If mining is really harmful, fine.

          You misunderstand, I think this is getting a little bit into ‘teh feelz’ but, a mine is inherently destructive while a reactor is accidentally so. Further, the same automagic that repairs a mine is the automagic that makes a melted down nuclear sight habitable.

  14. “Once up and running nuclear power plants emit no greenhouse gases and produce power that is safe and reliable.”

    Putting them not only along fault lines but also on the ocean isn’t especially safe.

    Instead of trying to build the world’s largest solar power generation facility in the Mojave desert, that area would be a great place to build a nuclear power complex. They could take advantage of all the preexisting right of ways from the transmission lines that are carrying power from the Hoover Dam to California and elsewhere, too.

    And if Yucca Mountain (nearby) is a good area to store nuclear waste (if not a good site under that mountain), then it should be a good general area from which to generate nuclear energy, too.

    Harry Reid won’t be in the Senate forever.

    1. It would be a terrible place for a nuke plant. Nuke plants need water to operate.

      1. Which is why the plant close to me, Three Mile Island, has its name.

        Ironically, the river that hosts the plant is having a sick fish problem, just like the tree huggers predict. However, the problem is not the nuclear plant, but agricultural chemical run off further upstream.

        1. Fertilizer run off is a huge problem. Maybe subsidizing farmers is a worse idea for the environment than making electricity?

          1. Even worse: subsidizing farmers to grow corn to make “green” “renewable” ethanol for fuel.

            Stupid policies advocated by environmentalists make the environment worse.

            1. Which justifies further intervention by environmentalists and government. You’re just not clear on the goals.

      2. “Nuke plants need water to operate.”

        No doubt.

        They also need not to be both on the ocean and on a fault.

        There’s gotta be somewhere in the Great Basin with water to spare for that purpose–and the government seems to own most of Nevada.

        I see places where people are irrigating out there, when I’m flying over, and you’d think that nuclear energy production would be more economically productive than farming.

        1. Of course you’re referring to Diablo Canyon, which has been found time and time again to be adequately designed to survive should the fault produce an Earthquake:
          http://neinuclearnotes.blogspo…..-from.html

          Some in the nuclear sphere believe that geologists, working for oil companies, are targeting Diablo Canyon and using the fault data as a keystone in their assault, in order to take away a competitor to natural gas.

          Some would say that. I wouldn’t, but some do.

  15. Two points

    1) Nuclear energy is a subsidy whore and it is not profitable. And NO it is not because of regulations. France’s nuclear is every bit as costly with fewer regulations.

    2) I think the evidence is pretty strong that humanity has exerted some warming influence on the climate by CO2. There is almost no evidence this is something to worry about.

    1. It’s really hard to figure the cost of air pollution – health dollars, car corrosion, etc.

      And I think pursuit of nuclear is a worthwhile goal if only to call the enviros out on their bullshit. Because you know they’re going to act the same way about fusion energy if that ever becomes practical.

    2. Citation for #1 is needed.

      1. Citation for #1 is needed.

        Price-Anderson Nuclear Industry Indemnities Act

        1. A shared insurance program that generators are required to pay into? ($300M per site and $96M per reactor)

          Theoretically it could become a subsidy in the event of a massive nuclear accident. Until then, it’s regulatory costs. And maybe some protection against unreasonable demands from the states.

          1. A shared insurance program that generators are required to pay into? ($300M per site and $96M per reactor)

            Your description is just vague enough to make it seem like it’s a private insurance contract we’re talking about.

            Theoretically it could become a subsidy in the event of a massive nuclear accident. Until then, it’s regulatory costs. And maybe some protection against unreasonable demands from the states.

            If the premiums were proportional relative to the risk and cost of a loss (the market cost of the insurance contract), then why is government and not private industry, underwriting the risk?

            If they were proportional, the “premiums” paid by these nuclear energy producers would be staggeringly high compared to the status quo. The fact that premiums are far below market rates, means that government underwritten risk is a subsidy. Insurance policies are products, and in this case tax payers (instead of shareholders) are on the hook to pay out in the event of a loss, the insurance contract (Price-Anderson) makes this clear. Thus a product is being provided at a lower rate than it would otherwise be in the absence of tax funding.

            You might agree that tax payers don’t invest their money with the same due diligence that private investors do. From there it’s not hard to imagine that tax payers don’t insure risks with the same due diligence that private insurers do.

            1. Sorry, but the fact a subsidy exists doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be profitable without it.

              I would also add, given all the regulations surrounding nuclear even if this insurance subsidy went away, makes it almost impossible to calculate whether nuclear might be profitable under mostly free market conditions.

              1. Sorry, but the fact a subsidy exists doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be profitable without it.

                Who said it wouldn’t?

                I would also add, given all the regulations surrounding nuclear even if this insurance subsidy went away, makes it almost impossible to calculate whether nuclear might be profitable under mostly free market conditions.

                A bit of contradiction from your first point. Is it or isn’t it profitable? But regardless that’s not my point. My point is that a tax supported insurance policy doesn’t function the same way a voluntarily supported insurance policy functions. Insurance policies hedge risk and since the insured wants to purchase insurance from the insurer, it means that the insurer is in a position to say things like “We think this cooling tower should be modernized” or “We only insure reactors using isotopes of plutonium X, Y, or Z”. When investor’s own money is on the line, these underwriting guidelines are highly effective at mitigating risk. When a bureaucrat is handling someone else’s involuntarily seized money, they are less cautious than if it were their own funds. This erodes the naturally occurring free market incentives that normally exist to mitigate risk which necessarily means that nuclear energy with insurance subsidy is not as safe as it would be with a freeish market insurance policy.

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  17. Does anybody here know of a source for bus bar costs of electricity by generation type and country?

    1. Found this….

      http://tinyurl.com/qffza9n

      International Energy Agency pdf

      http://tinyurl.com/qffza9n

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