Poll

How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?

Essential to climate policy
15 (75%)
Not essential but would help
4 (20%)
Not sure
1 (5%)
Wouldn't help but wouldn't hurt
0 (0%)
Would be harmful
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 20

Author Topic: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?  (Read 713 times)

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Offline random poet

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2019, 03:35:12 PM »
Nuclear plants are still our most effective and efficient means of power production. We should have replaced all fossil fuel based power generation with nuclear 30 years ago (the sooner the better). Now it is too late, yes. Climate change is past the point of non-return. We should still probably do it wherever renewables are too complex or too costly to implant or are otherwise impossible with our current level of technology, in case it can help some ten generations in the future, I guess? (If humans are still around, with the kind of civilization that requires an electricity distribution infrastructure, which is unlikely.)

I'm not really sure you can say it is "too late" to mitigate potential further damage:

Quote
UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That.

That is not to say it’s over or we’re doomed. Stalling warming below four degrees is better than surpassing it, keeping temperatures below three is better still, and the closer we get to two degrees the more miraculous. That is because climate change isn’t binary, and doesn’t just kick in, full force, at any particular temperature level; it’s a function that gets worse over time as long as we produce greenhouse gases. How long we continue to is, really, up to us, which is to say it will be determined in the province of politics, which is to say public panic like that produced by the IPCC report can be a very productive form of policy pressure.

Quote
Answering Questions About Nuclear Power

It’s too late

This is often the final objection, and also, in my opinion, the weakest argument. Once I handle all the arguments against nuclear, often I hear – well, it was a great option 20 years ago, but now it’s too late to mitigate global warming. I think this is nonsense. In 20 years, I wager, people will be making the same argument.

First – we are partly talking about delaying the decommissioning of existing nuclear plants. (Again – see Germany.) This take literally zero time. By extending their lifespan, we can reduce the number of coal plants that would otherwise replace them. This can buy us time to build those next generation reactors. We should also explore ways (including investing money as necessary) to speed up the process of building new plants, which is mostly due to red tape anyway.

Even if it takes 20 years to bring new plants on line, I don’t think in 2040 we will have the carbon emission problem solved. I also wager we will still be burning coal in 2040. It’s also not as if it will ever be too late to do something about global warming. Even if we miss our targets for avoiding the worse outcomes, that doesn’t mean we give up at that point. There is still benefit in reducing the harm.
It is too late to save what we are currently talking about saving. The ice caps, the glaciers, the current global ecology. We are heading into a mass extinction event. Whatever we do now will merely mitigate the consequences 100 years from now. It may be important, if we are still a technological civilization, and we should do it, but let's not kid ourselves.
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Online The Latinist

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2019, 03:37:30 PM »
I don't think the question was whether nuclear power could save ice caps or glaciers or any particular ecology.  The question was whether it was essential to climate policy.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Online daniel1948

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2019, 05:30:23 PM »
To clarify my position, I've gone from staunchly anti-nuclear (before listening to the SGU) to agnostic on it. I still have concerns about the waste, and I'm still skeptical of our ability to build disaster-proof nuclear power plants. If it is true (as I heard back in my staunchly-anti-nuclear days) that the government has exempted nuclear power plants from having to carry full insurance, that suggests that the experts on risk assessment think nukes are too dangerous. On the other side, I am aware that our present energy regime is killing great numbers of people through mining and pollution, not to mention climate issues.

A separate issue is political: In order to build new nuclear power plants, we would have to get the toadies of the fossil fuel industry out of the legislatures. I am a cynic because I don't think we have a political system capable of making rational decisions for the good of our nation or the planet. We have a political system that insures that entrenched interests hold the power, and remain in power. And at present these people are philosophically opposed to the very idea that science provides accurate information.
Daniel
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Offline random poet

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2019, 05:35:40 PM »
I don't think the question was whether nuclear power could save ice caps or glaciers or any particular ecology.  The question was whether it was essential to climate policy.
I'm not sure what distinction you are making. Is there another meaning to the expression "climate policy" than "what we need to do to minimize climate change"?
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Online The Latinist

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2019, 05:46:06 PM »
I don't think the question was whether nuclear power could save ice caps or glaciers or any particular ecology.  The question was whether it was essential to climate policy.
I'm not sure what distinction you are making. Is there another meaning to the expression "climate policy" than "what we need to do to minimize climate change"?

“What we need to do to minimize climate change” is not synonymous with “saving. The ice caps, the glaciers, the current global ecology.”  While the latter may be impossible, the former is not; and the former is what we are talking about.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline random poet

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2019, 06:39:45 PM »
I don't think the question was whether nuclear power could save ice caps or glaciers or any particular ecology.  The question was whether it was essential to climate policy.
I'm not sure what distinction you are making. Is there another meaning to the expression "climate policy" than "what we need to do to minimize climate change"?

“What we need to do to minimize climate change” is not synonymous with “saving. The ice caps, the glaciers, the current global ecology.”  While the latter may be impossible, the former is not; and the former is what we are talking about.
The point I was making with those examples was precisely that we can't save the glaciers, so I'm not sure what you are arguing about. Nuclear is essential to saving whatever it is we can still save (i.e. not much).
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Online John Albert

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2019, 06:45:00 PM »
"Should we use the fire extinguisher to put out this fire?"

"Well, dinner is definitely ruined and it may be too late to save the kitchen..."

Offline stands2reason

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2019, 08:33:10 PM »
I would rate them in terms of gigawatts, as they usually are.

Offline Alex Simmons

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2019, 11:22:34 PM »
If the choice is *only* between coal or nuclear, nuclear makes some sense.

But we are moving beyond a grid where that kind of energy production is really necessary. Renewables and storage are faster to deploy, cheaper, and have very long service lifespans and the tech is relatively simple. Having resources diverted away from such an energy transition represents an opportunity cost and could result in delays in replacement of coal fired power.

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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #25 on: September 05, 2019, 10:02:56 AM »
There was a program in the 50s in which the US would pay a reward to scientist working on nuke projects for almost any idea that involved nuclear power. 

There was a nuclear powered jet engine built, apparently it spewed radioactive gas out the back. 
There was  a plan to use nukes to dig a canal from the Gulf of Mexico to the pacific. 

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #26 on: September 05, 2019, 11:22:56 AM »
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/d777ak/the-u-s-s-insane-attempt-to-build-a-harbor-with-a-two-megaton-nuclear-bomb

The legacy of dishonesty in the nuclear industry, both weapons and electricity generation, is a cause for concern when that industry tells us that now we can build "safe" and "clean" nuclear reactors.

Renewables and storage are faster to deploy, cheaper, and have very long service lifespans and the tech is relatively simple.

This is what I think of when someone says that we "can't build renewables and storage fast enough." A new nuclear power plant is likely to take decades to design, get regulatory approval (unless, in the name of "national security" we forego all environmental and safety studies), and build.

Could we really not build up sufficient renewables in those same couple of decades? Or is the bigger issue that centralized power can be sold to consumers at a profit, whereas roof-top power belongs to the homeowner, and the utility has to buy it from us?
Daniel
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Offline Calinthalus

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #27 on: September 05, 2019, 11:32:14 AM »
Thing is, I could cover my entire house with solar panels and I'd still need to buy electricity from the grid.  I don't get enough sunshine to cover my 24 hour day, even if I had storage capacity to use for the night.  Windmill is right out, there's not a flat enough area to plop one down that is big enough to get out of the holler.  I have no other options but to buy electricity from a producer.  Considering I live in the Cumberlands that means coal or nuclear are the only two real options.  I daresay I'm not alone in this.

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Online John Albert

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Re: How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2019, 11:46:25 AM »
Seems like everybody was nuke-happy in the '50s and early '60s.

The USAF came up with a crazy plan to nuke the moon with a hydrogen bomb.

In the late 1950s and early '60s the US military detonated a number of nukes in the upper atmosphere for the far-fetched purpose of creating a protective force-field of high energy electrons in the Earth's atmosphere, as a defense against ICBMs.





The Russians detonated a nuke in Northeast Kazakhstan and then diverted a river to create a new lake in the bomb crater. Then people went swimming in that lake...




But none of this stuff has anything to do with the issue of nuclear power in the 21st Century.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2019, 01:49:59 PM by John Albert »

Offline PatrickG

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How would you rate the use of nuclear power as part of a climate policy plan?
« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2019, 01:33:37 PM »
Nuclear power is great for CO2, but not essential for clean energy. It is just too expensive compared to the alternatives.

The other bad news is that nuclear power does not mix well with the variable generation of wind and solar. Nuclear power is mainly useful a ‘base load’ generation with constant power output. Running nuclear plants in “load following mode” is much less efficient because the cost of the fuel is insignificant compared to they high based operating costs. That makes it expensive to operate with variable output. Natural gas peaker plants seem to be the better match, and so do Li_Ion batteries for short-term peaking.

According to the EIA the LCOE (total all-in cost) of nuclear power is about 2X that on natural gas for a plant coming on-line in 2023. It will be even worse when the nuclear is forced to run in dispatchable load following mode when more solar and wind come on-line. See: https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf

Another LCOE analysis shows an even higher cost for nuclear compared to the alternatives: https://www.lazard.com/perspective/levelized-cost-of-energy-and-levelized-cost-of-storage-2018/

The latter pegs the LCOE cost for nuclear energy between 11 and 19 cents per kwh, vs 4-7 cents for gas CC, 4 cents for utility solar and 3-5 cents for wind.
 
A combination of solar + Li-ion batteries will be more cost-effective in places with somewhat reliable daily sun shine. The LCOE cost of that is currently 10-15 cents/kWh, but will drop in the next years.

In short: nuclear probably won’t save the world.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2019, 01:56:54 PM by PatrickG »

 

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