Nuclear Power

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Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm posting this in the Politics & World Affairs folder.

Stress on World Affairs; not politics.


Carbon energy sources will peak in 2017, 2030 or one hundred years from now. Probable closer to the first than the last. This will put a strain on the demand for the life styles to which we have become accustomed. We will demand cheaper energy, and governments will respond. In bulk, this will not be delivered in the form of windmills and solar cells. We should look forward to more nuclear power plants, and a lot of them.

In order to meet this demand, a great effort will be required by government to convince the majority of us as to the wisdom of this.

It seems a good time to discuss safety now, rather than after the propaganda hits the fan.

What is the current state of technology in processing and sequestering waste (say, ten times as much as today), and safety in operation?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
172
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I think this has been gone over in great detail over in the Nuclear Engineering forum. You might want to read there.
 
  • #3
CAC1001
What source do you use to say carbon energy sources will peak in 2017, 2030, or one-hundred years from now? (which to me then makes it seem like those making the claim really don't have a clue!). How long carbon-based energy sources last isn't just a matter of how much coal, oil, natural gas, etc...there is, but of how we use it, which deals with economic growth, technological development, etc...for example, what if some breakthrough is made by which automobiles can use half the fuel they do now to create the same torque and horsepower?

Also we very much could get energy from solar or wind eventually. Solar might hit a breakthrough akin to what the computer did with the innovation of the transistor and then the microprocessor.
 
  • #4
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I'm posting this in the Politics & World Affairs folder.

Stress on World Affairs; not politics.


Carbon energy sources will peak in 2017, 2030 or one hundred years from now. Probable closer to the first than the last. This will put a strain on the demand for the life styles to which we have become accustomed. We will demand cheaper energy, and governments will respond. In bulk, this will not be delivered in the form of windmills and solar cells. We should look forward to more nuclear power plants, and a lot of them.

In order to meet this demand, a great effort will be required by government to convince the majority of us as to the wisdom of this.

It seems a good time to discuss safety now, rather than after the propaganda hits the fan.

What is the current state of technology in processing and sequestering waste (say, ten times as much as today), and safety in operation?
Does the Government need permission to build a nuclear research center or a nuclear powered vessel? Is the Government restricted as to where they can operate a nuclear powered vessel? IMO - the best way to proceed with a nuclear expansion is in partnership with the Government.
 
  • #5
18
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What is the current state of technology in processing and sequestering waste (say, ten times as much as today), and safety in operation?
All of these are technically essentially non-issues. The only real problem is politica, whose roots are based on fear mongering by environmentalists, greenpeace in particular. They say anything and everything to keep people afraid, http://nuclearfissionary.com/2010/03/26/greenpeace-disables-comments-on-antinuclear-blog/ [Broken]. Unfortunately because of rampant scientific illiteracy, most people buy into it without at least asking the right people about it (nuclear physicists and engineers).
 
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  • #6
172
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All of these are technically essentially non-issues. The only real problem is politica, whose roots are based on fear mongering by environmentalists, greenpeace in particular. They say anything and everything to keep people afraid, http://nuclearfissionary.com/2010/03/26/greenpeace-disables-comments-on-antinuclear-blog/ [Broken]. Unfortunately because of rampant scientific illiteracy, most people buy into it without at least asking the right people about it (nuclear physicists and engineers).
No, the biggest political problem with reprocessing is the fear of the materials being used to develop nuclear weapons. Reprocessing isn't an environmental issue, even though sequestering is.
 
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  • #7
Does the Government need permission to build a nuclear research center or a nuclear powered vessel? Is the Government restricted as to where they can operate a nuclear powered vessel? IMO - the best way to proceed with a nuclear expansion is in partnership with the Government.
:surprised:

Who... are you? Where is WhoWee the beloved rough and tumble conservative?!
But yeah... I like that idea.

Jack21222: Or the dirtiest bomb with a tiny amount of material. It's ugly all around if there were any reason to expect that material to be on the market.
 
  • #8
172
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Jack21222: Or the dirtiest bomb with a tiny amount of material. It's ugly all around if there were any reason to expect that material to be on the market.
Exactly. I think that reason is far more important than environmental extremists.
 
  • #9
mheslep
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Some comments on the assumptions in the question:
Carbon energy sources will peak in 2017, 2030 or one hundred years from now. Probable closer to the first than the last.
I think after 2030, but ok
This will put a strain on the demand for the life styles to which we have become accustomed.
It well might if things staid the same but they http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704648604575621122887824544.html" staying the same.
Matt Ridley said:
For example, the world is on a surprisingly steady trajectory toward decarbonization. The number of carbon atoms we burn per unit of energy we generate is falling as we gradually switch from carbon-rich fuels like wood and coal to hydrogen-rich fuels like oil and especially gas. At current rates, we would be burning almost no carbon by about 2070, though I suspect that point will never actually be reached..
We will demand cheaper energy, and governments will respond.
Governments respond slowly, or wrongly, or not at all. It is markets and private enterprise that provide answers to demand.

Otherwise I agree with the suggestion that more nuclear is needed.
 
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  • #10
18
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No, the biggest political problem with reprocessing is the fear of the materials being used to develop nuclear weapons. Reprocessing isn't an environmental issue, even though sequestering is.

That's only a problem in the US, other nuke powered nations actively engage in reprocessing.
 
  • #11
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:surprised:

Who... are you? Where is WhoWee the beloved rough and tumble conservative?!
But yeah... I like that idea.
I think Government involvement makes sense on two levels. First, the project finance and permitting problems are nearly eliminated. Second, (IMO) energy independence is a national security issue.

The Government is very good at certain tasks - such as funding and supporting large projects. I prefer projects whereby the Government realizes a return on investment - move away from the money pit mentality.

The Government would have several ways to earn; first by financing a reactor and either operating or leasing the facility (to a US company) thus earning a fee and selling the power (at a wholesale rate) to power companies (who sell the power at a lower cost to consumers). Taxpayers have a win-win - lower utility rates and a Government that is slightly less tax-dependent.

Last, the Government might be able to integrate it's weapons disposal program into the energy program.
 
  • #12
I think Government involvement makes sense on two levels. First, the project finance and permitting problems are nearly eliminated. Second, (IMO) energy independence is a national security issue.

The Government is very good at certain tasks - such as funding and supporting large projects. I prefer projects whereby the Government realizes a return on investment - move away from the money pit mentality.

The Government would have several ways to earn; first by financing a reactor and either operating or leasing the facility (to a US company) thus earning a fee and selling the power (at a wholesale rate) to power companies (who sell the power at a lower cost to consumers). Taxpayers have a win-win - lower utility rates and a Government that is slightly less tax-dependent.

Last, the Government might be able to integrate it's weapons disposal program into the energy program.
Works for me!
 
  • #13
149
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Works for me!
I'm trying to find a link for a paper discussing the conversion of nuclear powered naval vessels into mini power plants and transmitting via Tesla "Tower of Power" technology. It was a fun read.
 
  • #14
Al68
I think Government involvement makes sense on two levels. First, the project finance and permitting problems are nearly eliminated. Second, (IMO) energy independence is a national security issue.
Just to add a third, government already has a monopoly on nuclear fuel. Building a nuclear plant is already effectively illegal without active government involvement, as a result of national security laws.
 
  • #15
Just to add a third, government already has a monopoly on nuclear fuel. Building a nuclear plant is already effectively illegal without active government involvement.
Exactly, and who wants to fund something that the controlling body hasn't budged on in decades? Having made a monopoly of itself, at least provide us with the better end of the product-line.
 
  • #16
Al68
Exactly, and who wants to fund something that the controlling body hasn't budged on in decades? Having made a monopoly of itself, at least provide us with the better end of the product-line.
I agree. And this isn't like making and selling other products, where libertarians like me say that it's none of government's business (as a uninvited third party). Power companies as a practical matter just won't work as a private enterprises. A private enterprise can't obtain the right of ways needed to distribute the power.

Government is involved in electric power as a result of being asked for help by the private companies, not as a result of forceful interference by government. Might as well make the partnership a good one.
 
  • #17
I agree. And this isn't like making and selling other products, where libertarians like me say that it's none of government's business (as a uninvited third party). Power companies as a practical matter just won't work as a private enterprises. A private enterprise can't obtain the right of ways needed to distribute the power.

Government is involved in electric power as a result of being asked for help by the private companies, not as a result of forceful interference by government. Might as well make the partnership a good one.
OK... I think now the wormhole opens and frogs start raining, but... yeah, well said!
 
  • #18
mheslep
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It is not historically correct to make the blanket statement that private companies asked the government to participate in electric power. The government inserted itself quite forcefully, as governments do.


http://newdeal.feri.org/tva/tva10.htm
In 1935 the Rural Electric Administration (REA) was created to bring electricity to rural areas like the Tennessee Valley. ....
Many groups opposed the federal government's involvement in developing and distributing electric power, especially utility companies, who believed that the government was unfairly competing with private enterprise [...]. Some members of Congress who didn't think the government should interfere with the economy, believed that TVA was a dangerous program that would bring the nation a step closer to socialism. Other people thought that farmers simply did not have the skills needed to manage local electric companies.
 
  • #19
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It is not historically correct to make the blanket statement that private companies asked the government to participate in electric power. The government inserted itself quite forcefully, as governments do.


http://newdeal.feri.org/tva/tva10.htm
Understood, but without the Government - it's doubtful we would have nuclear power plants. To look at it a different way, if given a choice to have them involved in the nuclear power industry or healthcare - I would choose nuclear every single time.
 
  • #20
It is not historically correct to make the blanket statement that private companies asked the government to participate in electric power. The government inserted itself quite forcefully, as governments do.


http://newdeal.feri.org/tva/tva10.htm
Yes, because it's an obvious matter of national security, and later because of nuclear power's byproducts. I can't believe that you're proposing a completely private nuclear industry, right?
 
  • #21
mheslep
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Understood, but without the Government - it's doubtful we would have nuclear power plants.
Probably so, but that's a different issue. I was responding to AI68's comment that the electric power industry (not just nuclear, or at least AI68 didn't qualify it that way) invited government intervention. It's also doubtful that without industry the US would have a substantial number of nuclear power plants.
 
  • #22
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Probably so, but that's a different issue. I was responding to AI68's comment that the electric power industry (not just nuclear, or at least AI68 didn't qualify it that way) invited government intervention. It's also doubtful that without industry the US would have a substantial number of nuclear power plants.
Understood again - I'm suggesting that Government should focus on things it can (and should) do well. Energy independence is a national security concern, as is the safe design and operation of nuclear plants. Further, anything that might either save money for taxpayers or (dare to dream) facilitate a return on taxpayer investment (lower tax burden) should be considered.

I'm wondering what the potential savings on permits and delays alone would total?
 
  • #23
Probably so, but that's a different issue. I was responding to AI68's comment that the electric power industry (not just nuclear, or at least AI68 didn't qualify it that way) invited government intervention. It's also doubtful that without industry the US would have a substantial number of nuclear power plants.
OR... they could turn out like rail and airlines. If the last couple of decades have taught us one thing, it should be that betting something like "the power grid" on the private sector is folly. You either end with a failed product that requires subsidy, or no development at all.
 
  • #24
mheslep
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I'm wondering what the potential savings on permits and delays alone would total?
The difference in nuclear construction costs between here and China for the same Westinghouse design appears to be roughly $4/Watt. That's $8 billion per 2GW nuclear plant. Chalk as much of that as you like up to bureaucratic hurdles put in place by the US NRC and US legal system. Then there are the additional costs imposed by paying for other sources while waiting on delayed nuclear installation.
 
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  • #25
The difference between nuclear construction costs between here and China, for the same Westinghouse design appears to be roughly $4/W. If I naively chalk that entire difference up to bureaucratic hurdles placed by the US NRC and US legal system, that's $8 billion per 2GW nuclear plant.
If I less naively point out that there are literally NO political concerns when a plant of any kind needs to be built, the military runs the power industry, and China has shown a strong willingness to expend human capitol in favor of infrastructure. Waste isn't an issue, as again, if a dedicated rail line is needed, it's made; if that means 're-locating' a bunch of people, they're game.

I'm at a loss to understand how you could expect to get any accurate read on relative costs in essentially polarized political and social environments? In the USA, a company is going to need to get through the legal challenges, and if the federal government exercises its powers, you'll have senators worrying about their careers. There's no win there, and no equivalent of what China does in the USA either.
 

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