Electronics > Power/Renewable Energy/EV's

Environmentalists and Nuclear Energy

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mash107:
After debating friends for quite a bit on this topic... I thought I'd bring it here :)

If carbon emissions is indeed the issue of our generation... and there is no shortage of demand for energy. We absolutely need energy, both in the physical and metaphysical sense, to work, make goods abundant (affordable), and diminish the effects of poverty.

Why is there not more widespread support for employing nuclear energy across the board? I just don't get it. Telling people they have to pay more for goods produced by energy because you lack an alternative to fossil fuels is not a tenable position.

Kleinstein:
Nuclear energy also has it's down sides - real physical ones, more morally or social and a lot of emotionally. It is so much different from what normal people know and hard to understand, that people get scared and are thus more on the careful side. It also did not help nuclear energy that in the 1960s some scientist or those who claimed understand nuclear energy did promises that turned out to be false (and they could have known by then). In this context it is essentially impossible to do argumentation based on facts on a topic that most people just don't understand.

A big point, at least in Europe is that the environmental movements really stared with opposition to nuclear energy. So even if you have good arguments - they would not even try to understand you and it is a difficult topic.

Even if you try to look just at the facts, there are real problems with nuclear energy. So it is not a clear pro but not a clear no either:
1) Much of the costs / downsides come disposal of the waste. So it is like a big loan from future generations with uncertain interests. So it would need a long term (e.g. 1000's of years) stable society to work. You can always argue one such a social problem - no definite answer appealing to all.

2) The simple once through nuclear energy only works for a limited time / amount. So to be a real solution one would need breeding reactors - here development / predictions badly failed. There was quite some trouble with fast reactors, and they are no doubt the more dangerous ones. Also fast reactors bear more danger for nuclear proliferation.

3) If there is a really big accident happening (like Chernobyl), the damage can be really big in a dense populated area. The Fukushima accident was not that far away from turning into really bad (like evacuation for Tokio). Such an extreme danger would be only acceptable if there would be an insurance for it - but there is no such thing. The world is just to small and divided for it. There is just no way one could have treaties that would allow things like all the Japanese or half of India to evacuate to the US and Europe in case of an accident. So even if the expected frequency of accidents and expected accumulated damages are OK, it is just the single damage that can be to large.

mikron:
Have a look at this presentation from Arnie Gundersen:

ez24:
Just learned a nuclear safety tip today.

Got a Fujitsu Scansnap S1300i scanner.  According to their safety instructions the scanner is NOT to be used inside a nuclear plant.   :-DD :-DD :-DD

All we can hope is everyone reads the manual.

Someone:

--- Quote from: mikron on December 10, 2016, 06:51:05 pm ---Have a look at this presentation from Arnie Gundersen:
--- End quote ---
Thats grabbing some "big" headline figures/arguments which push a certain narrative. Its certainly true that solar and wind have a lower energy production cost, but you do need to account for the increased distribution/arbitrage/storage costs which are externalised, just as disposal is externalised for nuclear power. I'd be guessing that the final costs would still be strongly in favour of wind and solar. But the headline:
"New Nukes Make Global Warming Worse"
Is a dangerous over simplification, the global warming cost of nuclear energy is possibly greater than wind or solar, but still much lower than the incumbent generation types and there is no clear agreement on the relative intensities:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources
From the economic perspective the world could do better (from a CO2 centric point of view) by investing in solar and wind, but that has its downsides with availability, limited space, distribution, and the need for more efficient markets for electricity. But you could invest in nuclear power and still get huge improvements in the CO2 emissions compared to doing nothing, its only when comparing to massive investment in solar and wind that its possibly a worse solution.


--- Quote from: mash107 on December 10, 2016, 05:40:07 pm ---After debating friends for quite a bit on this topic... I thought I'd bring it here :)

If carbon emissions is indeed the issue of our generation... and there is no shortage of demand for energy. We absolutely need energy, both in the physical and metaphysical sense, to work, make goods abundant (affordable), and diminish the effects of poverty.

Why is there not more widespread support for employing nuclear energy across the board? I just don't get it. Telling people they have to pay more for goods produced by energy because you lack an alternative to fossil fuels is not a tenable position.

--- End quote ---
Kleinstein makes most of the points, but a few others are:

Nuclear power in its current form (or even considering the emerging technologies) isn't going to last forever, we're still stuck with a finite resource of uranium and a very inefficient way of producing electricity from it, if the entire world switched to nuclear power we'd only have a few hundred years before that resource ran out.

The materials science (and nuclear industry in general) is still a long way from maturity, its not a simple and low risk solution yet and there needs to be a lot more reactors built before it becomes routine and cheap/easy/safe.

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