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The Forum > Article Comments > The nuclear house of cards > Comments

The nuclear house of cards : Comments

By Mia Pepper, published 20/11/2014

In the face of nuclear war, nuclear disaster, public opposition, financial struggle, and the growth and competitiveness of renewable technologies, the house of cards that is the nuclear industry is bound to collapse again.

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Funny how the author didn't seem to catch the WNA report that said 60 new reactors were planned or under construction. The uranium price is certain to rebound. Also strange how sun drenched places like the UAE are building reactors when you think they'd have solar if it could do the job.
Posted by Taswegian, Thursday, 20 November 2014 7:33:06 AM
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"Growth and competitiveness of renewable technologies" is only in the fevered imaginings of BAs. Those grounded in reality know that any "Green" incremental improvements are more than matched by incremental improvements of non-renewables.

The main game is energy stability in which renewables exhibit massive failure. Unstable often wildly so, supply is equivalent to NO supply, if you can't rely on it, it can't be used. A basic stabiliser, "Batteries" and even "Ultra Caps" all suffer from incapacity and Longevity problems. The long and short of it batteries are crap, go to any airport lounge and watch lost souls trying to find a GPO for a charger.

Distributed generation has a lot to say for it both technically, economically and strategically (defense). But if associated with volatility it defeats itself as it increases the need for centralised stabilisation.
Posted by McCackie, Thursday, 20 November 2014 8:03:34 AM
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I guess I don't have the benefit of having my views defined and fixed by my job. Mia is a 'nuclear free campaigner', I a humble retired scientist who simply tries to think logically according to my craft. To save me time, here's an example that I just sent off to a newspaper.

"Nine key leaders have answered The Australianís questions about future prosperity (Steps to secure our future prosperity, Business Review, 20/11). Their responses on future energy are interesting but predictable. None is prepared to take the long term view that the electrification of transportation, the elimination of fossil fuels from industries like steel, cement and fertiliser production, the inevitable rise in energy requirements of mining as ores get deeper and poorer, and the emergence of new industries like carbon-free transport fuel manufacture will need a major increase in primary energy capacity that only nuclear power can offer.

It is clearly not the job of todayís industry leaders to plan for problems two or three generations away. So what do we hear from government via the Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane? Avoidance is what we hear. No government leader is prepared to disturb the comfort of voters who imagine that the nation can run entirely on wind, sun and waves."

I guess Mia belongs to the latter category. Good luck with that. Her great-grandchildren will wonder what she was on.
Posted by Tombee, Thursday, 20 November 2014 8:42:57 AM
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Renewables are not sustainable:

But nuclear is. There is sufficient nuclear fission fuel to supply all the world's energy requirements for a million years for 10 billion population using the same average per capita energy as the USA uses now - and that's with uranium only, not even including the 4x more abundant thorium; and then there's fusion. We are at the very beginning of nuclear development

For those who are concerned about GHG emissions, they need to embrace and advocate for nuclear power. Renewables can have little impact on reducing global GHG emissions. Nuclear has demonstrated it can supply 75-85% of the electricity for a large industrial country - it's been doing this in France for over 30 years. Non hydro renewables have not been able to demonstrate anything like this. Furthermore their effectiveness at reducing emissions per unit of electricity supplied decreases as their proportion of electricity increases.

And don't forget, nuclear is about the safest way to generate electricity - i.e least fatalities per TWh (all accidents and risks included).

Nuclear is by far the cheapest way to reduce global emissions.

It's inevitable it will happen. Unfortunately, those who would like to be called 'Progressives' have been and are delaying progress.
Posted by Peter Lang, Thursday, 20 November 2014 8:52:07 AM
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The author is obviously not abreast of what China is doing or proposes. In his book, "Thorium, Energy cheaper than coal", physicist Dr Robert Hargraves has a section on China.
It starts;
China is moving to reduce its dependence on coal for energy. Since 2006 China has shut down many small, inefficient, polluting coal plants that had generated 71 GW of power and released 165 million tonnes of CO2 per year. China is aggressively expanding its electric power generation using several new, advanced nuclear power technologies. These include the light water reactor technologies used in all US reactors, the heavy-water-moderated CANDU technology developed and used in Canada, the gas-cooled high-temperature pebble bed reactor first operated in Germany. and the liquid sodium metal cooled fast reactor being obtained from Russia.
China has 14 nuclear power plants in operation and 25 under construction, with a 2020 capacity of 60 GW(e), growing to 200 GW by 2030. For scale comparison, the Three Gorges hydropower project generates 18 GW.
China bases its nuclear expansion on Generation III LWRs.
China also has a domestic nuclear reactor and fuel industry, the China National Nuclear Corporation, which built LWRs. China contracted with Arena to build four of EPR (European Pressurized Water) reactors, two of which are under construction in Guangdong province, to deliver 1.66 GW, beginning operation in 2014.
China has employed Westinghouse to build four of its AP-1000: reactors, each capable of 1.1 GW net electric power generation Two of the four Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors are nearing completion. The World Nuclear Association reports the capital cost of $2/watt is expected to drop to $1.60/watt for further nuts,, Eight more AP-1001 reactors are planned and thirty more proposed China is also gaining intellectual property rights to this advanced technology, with the intention to become self-sufficient and an exporter of nuclear technology.
Posted by Foyle, Thursday, 20 November 2014 9:37:00 AM
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PBR technology was first developed in Germany, where the THTR- 300 thorium-fueled pebble bed reactor operated from 1983 to 1989. South Africa's established PBMR Pty, Ltd to develop such a commercial reactor, but ran out of funds in 2010 and the project ended. One attraction of the PBR is the inherent safety; at high temperatures U-238 absorbs more neutrons, enough to stop the fission chain reaction. Passive air-cooling removes fission product decay heat.
The first pebble bed reactor (PBR) in China became operational at Tsinghua University in 2003, based on technology from Germany's AVR reactor experiments in the 19608; China purchased AVR components and reassembled them. It is a 10 MW(t) high-temperature research reactor cooled by helium gas; the gas heats steam for a turbine generator. The Australian Broadcasting Company visited the HTR-10 pebble bed reactor in China to video its operation. Professor Zhang Zuoyi described the events as the reactor's helium cooling system was purposefully shut down to demonstrate on television the inherent safety of the pebble bed reactor fission. The temperature rose, causing U-238 in the fuel to absorb enough neutrons to stop the chain reaction, and the reactor vessel was then passively cooled by convection.
China is now building a 190 MW demonstration reactor power plant at Rongcheng. If successful, a total of 19 pebble bed reactors generating 3,600 MW will be constructed at that site.

China has experimented with fast neutron breeder reactors at the China Institute. of Atomic Energy. An experimental 20 GW(e), sodium-cooled, pool-type reactor first went into production operation in 2011. The $350 million project aimed to accumulate experience in fast reactor operation and to be a facility to irradiate fuels and materials at high neutron energies.
Russia has operated its BN-600 sodium cooled fast neutron reactor successfully since 1980, and is now constructing an improved BN-800 880 GW reactor, slated for operation in 2012.
Posted by Foyle, Thursday, 20 November 2014 9:52:09 AM
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