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News Should nuclear energy be phased out?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  3. Maybe . . .

  4. Don't know

    0 vote(s)
  5. Couldn't care less

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Jan 29, 2006 #1
    The last thread on this topic was shut down because it was unfair because there weren't enough choices, and there was too much editorializing in the OP. So we'll keep it simple this time.

    Should nuclear energy be phased out?

    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. Maybe . . .
    4. Don't know
    5. Couldn't care less
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2006 #2
    I definitely think nuclear energy should be phased out because it can't be anything but a temporary solution. Why go the temporary route when it's going to be such a huge investment of resources (both intellectual and financial) and has a definite shelf-life when one can be investing in a variety of sustainable long-term solutions instead?
  4. Jan 29, 2006 #3
    Lest anyone think it is impossible to phase out nuclear energy, keep in mind that Denmark has already done it. The Danes legally banned the construction of new nuclear power plants 1988, and their country seems to be getting along mostly OK.

    article here
  5. Jan 29, 2006 #4
    Unfortunaly sweden has also passed folish laws like that and added that its illegal to do a cost comparions betwen nuclear power and other options. I think its also illegal to even conduct research on new reactor designs. Not even fusion research is allowed here because of those laws:grumpy:

    IMO the most stupid descision ever made in sweden. Sweden gets roughly 50% of power from hydroelectricity and the rest from nuclear power. I would like it to stay that way.

    Im strictly against phasing out nuclear power and very much want to se more nuclear power plants.
    Denmark is ideal in location for wind power. Sweden doesnt have that luxury so we will be forced to import dirty power from germany.

  6. Jan 29, 2006 #5
    Because Denmark uses soo much power that they NEED so many nuclear power plants................yea right. Denmarks power consumption is insignificant compared to the united states. All these comparisons are really stupid, quite frankly.

    Then I Strongly suggest you propose a viable alternative.
  7. Jan 29, 2006 #6
    Yes in the grand scheme of things. As alexandra pointed out the benefits are temporary and the drawbacks are practically permanent so it's a bad tradeoff. But not today, not just yet. Such a transition is a painful one. And Azael still needs a job. I think we should first learn not to make so many babies that need to be kept warm and strive for a stable population. When you don't need to account for uncontrollable human growth, all resources become much easier to manage, electrical power included. I will now go hide in my cave to avoid tomatoes thrown by all the economists out there (who also need to grow them in exponential numbers to quell the growing number of heretic idealists like me).
  8. Jan 29, 2006 #7
    In Denmark, they get by on 6,808 kWh per person per year, whereas in the U.S., the rate is 12,934 kWh per person per year (http://globalis.gvu.unu.edu/indicator.cfm?Country=DK&IndicatorID=46#rowDK [Broken]), yet the per capita GDP of Denmark ($30,940--ranked 5th in the world) is comparable to the U.S. ($35,750--ranked 4th in the world, after Luxembourg, Norway, and Ireland). This suggests one viable alternative to nuclear electricity in the United States: conservation. If America could cut back electricity consumption through increased efficiency by a mere 17%, that would cover the electricity lost by closing down all nuclear power plants.

    We'll phase out nuclear energy gradually. We keep the NPPs we've got for now until their useful lifespan expires, and just not build any new ones.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  9. Jan 29, 2006 #8
    Once the investment is made, the cost of production of energy will pay itself off over time. Looking at any power company's daily usage, the nuclear plants are running as long as possible (it would be unproductive not to), and they would only use coal/gas during peak hours. Once the plant is finally paid off, the cost of energy per kilowatthour of nuclear energy is lower than say coal or natural gas.

    http://www.nei.org/index.asp?catnum=4&catid=304 [Broken]

    Nuclear energy is a long term solution, and while the supply of uranium is a finite resource (breeder reactors can help alleviate this), it is certainly more of an alternative to the predominantly natural gas based infrastructure that we have now.

    Currently ~20% of US energy comes from nuclear plants. If we were to phase out this form of energy, we would have to burn more coal and oil to offset the difference (extrapolating from http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/pub/10atab.html the roughly 800 billion KWH needed that nuclear power already provides). That and energy demand will most likely grow in the future.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  10. Jan 29, 2006 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

    What do you mean by "temporary"? How many years do you think we can go before running out of nuclear fuel?

    I voted "no" because of nuclear power's track record and cost: it is safe, clean, inexpensive (relative to "alternative" energy sources), and plentiful.
  11. Jan 29, 2006 #10


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    Staff: Mentor

    Of course it is possible, but your original question is whether or not we should.

    Denmark currently gets 19% of its power from wind and all the rest from fossil fuel. Do you really consider that to be a good tradeoff?

  12. Jan 29, 2006 #11


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    Why not develop 'clean coal' power plants. The US and most other industrialised nations have massive amounts of coal available to them. Enough to last hundreds of years.

    The cost of a clean coal power plant is around 25% dearer than a conventional one and the additional cost for sequestering the 750 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted each year is estimated to be around $31 million p/a.

    This sounds a lot cheaper and safer than adding new nuclear power plants especially as 50% of the US electricity supply is already being produced in coal fired power plants and so the infrastructure is already in place.
  13. Jan 29, 2006 #12
    There was a NOAA program a while back, its not that much. It said something to the effect that if we used all the nuclear power plants around the world, it would only last ~70? years. It would run out quite fast.

    As for coal, its not enough to last hundreds of years, at most, ONE hundred years.
  14. Jan 29, 2006 #13


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    Gold Member

    I brought up the matter of population control before as well. It definitely should be a part of any future planning of anything. Thanks to conservative movements, we have to do battle over something as basic as allowing distribution of condoms before we can even get around to the discussion of energy sources.

    In regard to energy sources, I feel many things have been and continue to be neglected, such as providing government incentives for automakers, home builders, and of course corporations of every kind. There are already many things that could be implemented for better energy efficiency, but it’s not being done. The government must be behind it. And as I’ve said before, here in the U.S. we should have had a NASA style program for alternative energy years ago. Why are we still waiting? Go to the thread about Censorship at NASA, NOAA, etc. and see what our government has been about. What are the American people about? They are either apathetic or obsessed with distribution of condoms.

    So what do we do now? Unfortunately we find ourselves in a position of little choice. We will have to go on using what ever is realistically at our disposal—though some may be the lesser of evils, such as the clean coal Art suggested.

    In another forum the topic of methane arose. It is becoming a great energy source in China, and I recently saw a program about a recycling plant here in the U.S. that is powered with methane from the nearby landfill. This would also help reduce a greenhouse gas, no? I say we should all install stoves with pipes to the sewer.
  15. Jan 29, 2006 #14
    Yes and no. While its true that the American auto makers clearly don’t give a damn about fuel consumption, look at all the SUV's people drive, (and don’t get me started on that I cant stand SUV drivers), allot of factories these days are much more environmentally friendly. i.e., paper mills and logging companies will use the saw dust and burn it to power the machines in the factory, instead of just throwing it away. *Some* factories have gotten allot better in this sense, although some have not. (But overall compared to 1970 it is alot better)

    Things like wind power, solar energy, cleaner coals, are all great, and should be built and used. But an informed person would know that these will in no way, I repeat, no way replace nuclear or fossil fuels. We can do allot to alleviate the usage of resources, as we are the most wasteful nation on the planet. Not wasteful in the effect of careless, but wasteful in terms of everything we make is disposable. We don’t build anything to last anymore. This is why we waste so much. Everything is one time use, and comes in excessive packaging that wastes allot of material.
  16. Jan 29, 2006 #15


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    I'm not talking about pollutants; I'm talking about energy use and efficiency. And as I said, because of our neglect, we now have no choice but to use energy sources at our disposal (which unfortunately includes nuclear). I completely agree about wastefulness, and packaging gets back to corporations, not just individuals.
  17. Jan 29, 2006 #16


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    According to this article there's enough coal left to last 300 years. By that time I imagine we will have developed completely new energy sources. http://www.nrdc.org/onearth/05fal/coal1.asp Also some rough studies done in the 90s found there were already sufficient known geological areas identified, suitable for storing 50,000 billion tonnes of CO2 - more than will be produced in the next several hundred years.

    The waste CO2 is also already being used in Canada and other places to extend the life of otherwise dead oilfields by pumping it down under pressure to force more oil out.

    So although coal is a fossil fuel and fossil fuels have a bad name it seems it doesn't have to be that way. Coal burning power plants can have zero harmful emmisions, as demonstrated by some of the proto type plants already built.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2006
  18. Jan 29, 2006 #17
    Trying to controll the population of the rich countries would be totaly wasted effort since many of those countries already have aging and diminishing populations. Only imigration keeps the numbers up.

    In china, india, middle east population controll would help to prevent a explosion in power usage. But in the western world I se no need for it at all, it would probably hurt our societs alot to try and keep population growth down.

    Goverments need to step in and restrict energy consumption if anything is to be done.
    But if the people have a chooise betwen giving up some quality of life or wanting more nuclear power plants no one would vote no to nuclear power. I sure as hell wouldnt.
  19. Jan 29, 2006 #18
    Well, nuclear power was not out of our neglect. It really was thought at one point that ALL our power would be nuclear, and we would use NO fossil fuels.

    With the industrial revolution, we really never had any choice on our use for fossil fuels for the last 200 years. Japan is a country to take notice at. They have more than doubled in terms of technology in the last 30 years, but reamain nearly the same in total energy consumption. We, however, have doubled in energy use for the same amount of technological change.
  20. Jan 29, 2006 #19
    Yes, that is very true, as the US wont have a significant population as to China or India. Population control in those countries will have greater effect. Population rates in already industrialized countries are, as you said, on the decline. However, that does not change the fact that the US uses more power than most other nations COMBINED, despite our low population. We need to diversify our power consumption, and use renewable energy sources in as many areas as possible.
  21. Jan 29, 2006 #20
    yes I totaly agree that americans needs to stop beeing wastefull. Or well the same goes for all rich countries but not to the same extent.

    But seriously. All the money put on alternative energy would probably yieald 10 times as much energy if invested in nuclear power?? This is just a guess from my side though since I have no figures to go on. But nuclear power is a reliable, tested and clean power source. We know how to build and manage them. Renewables on the other hand are not reliable as of yet. I would hate to se countries put all eggs in the renewable basket.
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