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Poll - are you still for nuke power?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by webbie, Sep 4, 2013.


Are you still interested in building up the US and world Nuclear generating capacity?

Poll closed Sep 14, 2013.
  1. Yes

    33 vote(s)
  2. No

    12 vote(s)
  1. billjustbill

    billjustbill Member

    Dec 26, 2008
    In the United States, each reactor has to store its own spent fuel rods on their reactor's premises. Did you know that the NRC does not require backup power for the pool of spent fuel rods? Those rods may not be powerful enough to generate a profitable amount of steam power, but are still producing heat enough that if the cooling tank they are in went dry, they can self ignite? Take a look at the link in the above comments I listed, It will et your attention!!

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  2. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

    Nov 14, 2006
    madison hgts. va
    what should be noted is that there are very few methods of generating power that do not come with any "baggage" hydro-electric dams affect the rivers in drastic ways, silt buildup in the "lakes" created by these dams arent exactly helpful to the environment (not to mention the loss of said silt downstream). the ecosystem of these rivers are essentially changed. water temps are higher in a lot of (if not all )cases, wind is relatively friendly however, i think its one of the better alternatives. burning anything is going to affect the environment this is obvious, so finding ways to use natural kinetic forces has to be the most desirable route
  3. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

    Jan 14, 2009
    Central NY
    Hi Woodgeek, I want to believe that there are alternatives to nuclear power, and believe me, I am no big fan of nuclear. But when the math is crunched on electricity usage, wind and solar just aren't going to be able to fill the demand at their current rates of adoption or even massively accelerated rates of adoption. I hate nuclear but I hate not being realistic even more.

    It is hard to imagine holding electricity demand constant for the next 20 years, but even if you could imagine that, the numbers don't work if you phase out all nuclear tomorrow. Best case - keeping nuclear electricity production where it is at and not growing it. Phasing it out completely is off the table, for all practical purposes, unless you want to replace it all with fossil fuel. Yep, it sucks we are where we are with nuclear, but it is what it is. There are no non-fossil fuel alternatives to replace it with, and renewables and demand reduction can't grow fast enough, unless you want to throw in the towel on an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide production by 2050 (if you do throw in the towel on that, then you can get rid of all nuclear in 10 years or less, likely, and just replace it with natural gas generation).

    Regarding wind capacity, you can install all the wind turbines you want, but if the wind doesn't blow, there is no electricity, so there needs to be a backup of some kind - nobody wants to be told on that hot, humid, windless August day that there is no electricity for their AC. Backups cost money - you have to pay twice for generating capacity. That adds cost. A mix of solar and wind is good - when the sun shines, the wind might not be blowing and vice-a-versa. But wind outproduces solar by 10x or more right now - you would need to add a lot of solar. I don't see solar being 8% of our electricity generation in 20 years (I wish I could see that) - most people truly can't afford it, think they can't afford it, or would rather spend their money on something else. And if more wind power spread out over large areas is the right plan, you have to plan on building lots of HVDC transmissions lines at $1 billion/1000MW capacity/200 miles to move it around and tie the grid together for stabilization. We all pay for that in our bills as well, and most people already complain about their rates!

    Conservation is the key. The "negawatt" (term coined years ago by Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute) is the cheapest way to go, and it doesn't mean any of us have to freeze in the winter or suffer in the summer, or read by candlelight. My wife and I have our electricity consumption down to ~400 kWh per month and we do everything with electricity except heat our house, and we don't suffer. I am positive that you probably have a similar story to tell, but we are in the minority. Granted, we don't have hot summers where we live, we hang our clothes out to dry, and we shop wisely and have made smart "investments" in energy reducing appliances. Not everyone can afford to do what we've done, but most people do nothing out of ignorance, not choice. Until you solve the ignorance problem, you have to have the reliable generating capacity, and I don't see the ignorance problem being solved very quickly - that is a long process.

    For what it's worth, my solar install is on-line in about 2 weeks - I'm doing my part, but I have no belief that enough other people will be able to or be willing to do the same.
  4. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Jan 27, 2008
    SE PA
    Agree with every thing you're saying in terms of challenges and trends, and this political/economic landscape will not change much over the next 10-15 years. Over a longer term, change accelerates and is harder to predict. For longer periods, I tend to think about what is technically possible; future people will build the cheapest technically realizable low carbon electrical system (including negawatts), and it might look very different that what is recommended by current constituencies.

    On technical grounds, continental-sized supergrids with somewhat overbuilt wind and solar can avoid intermittency issues with current tech (no new mass storage required), Demand shedding and EVs make the required overbuild smaller (resulting in a cheaper system). Outside the US, there is still a LOT of hydro potential still to be developed (basically, wherever there are big mountain ranges). All that looks expensive to our 2013 eyes, but not nearly so much as it would have 10 or 20 years ago, given how much prices have fallen with the learning curve. In 20 more years it might look dead stupid financially to do anything else, who knows?

    Does nuclear have a slot in there? It can be done safely IMO, but can it be done cheap enough at the desired safety level? Jury is still out, and the competition is getting cheaper all the time.
  5. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

    Jan 14, 2009
    Central NY
    Hi Woodgeek, I think we are saying a lot of the same things. Strategy should be for minimal nuclear - no massive buildout to increase capacity, but no massive shutdowns either. Near-term focus on increasing renewables as much as politically and practically feasible, work the demand reduction hard (SMART metering has massive upsides). 40 year focus on a bigger end-goal. I worry about getting 20 years in and not being half way to the end-goal.

    Webbie only gave us one way to answer the question - yes or no - but the reality is that I am in the middle.
  6. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

    Nov 26, 2008
    Eastern MA
    I'd really like to see "nuke" power using current technology and understanding to be given a fair evaluation. I'm suspicious that there is a significant part of our population as well as politics that really doesn't care a bit about what could be done, if it has "nuke" in it, it is bad in their eyes.

    I certainly don't want one designed by slide-rules running in my back yard (no offense to those who did this, my grandfather apparently was one of these engineers - I can't imagine actually designing without a CAD program and modeling that comes with it). However, I am not ready to reject or accept a new design and I could see myself accepting a small portable device in my home if it were invented with good safety margins.

    A part of the problem as I see it is that there is such a strong (almost religious) opposition to the technology in and of itself that many bright minds likely seek other venues to exercise their talents (it does cost quite a bit to even design/prototype etc, why bother if it will never see the light of day?). Thus not having a viable alternative may well be a self-validating position.

    I have seen articles that indicate some very interesting designs have been explored - would be nice to see some of these be taken seriously and evaluated for production use. Give the right group of engineers the problems and acceptable parameters and I believe a solution can be found.

    However, I don't know if one could come up with any design that is 100% absolutely guaranteed to never have any leakage, fall-out, failure, or waste. Thus if this is this is the standard then "nuke" power is not being given a chance - you know I bet any power plant can have a dramatic failure (explosions/leaks/etc). Granted it won't be radioactive, but folks have to realize as bad as radioactive fallout etc is, mankind did survive all the above ground tests of the bombs despite all the fall-out that can still be detected (and likely will be for centuries). Not trying to diminish the risks of major events, but there could be an acceptable level of risk established - let the best minds work to solve the problem, just don't set them up to fail with impossible parameters.
  7. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    I lived with two nuke plants not too far away; one was San Onofre just north of San Diego, CA, and the other was the Trojan plant just north of
    Portland, OR. In San Diego I had chronic asthma from all the smog in the air, none of which was from San Onofre. I also toured the Diablo nuke plant near San Louis Obispo in CA. That place is on a fault line and overdesigned and built to death.

    The issue seems to be potential un-anticipated limited failures like Chernobyl and Fukushima, or known slow and very widespread disabling medical problems from pollution and snog from FF, as well as potential disasters from GW caused by FF. By the time we debate the issue and actually do something about anything, it will be way too late. Its already too late to do anything in my opinion. GW will run its course, and we are already seeing bizarre weather events constantly on the news. *shrug*
    EastMtn likes this.

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