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Tony Blair supports new nuclear
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clv101
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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 5:29 pm    Post subject: Tony Blair supports new nuclear Reply with quote

Nuclear is back on agenda - Blair
The prime minister's comments will be very controversial.
Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to give his strongest signal yet that he backs the building of a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK.
BBC Online

Quote:
In a set-piece speech he will say it would be a dereliction of duty if he failed to take long-term decisions.

He's got that much right!

If anyone hasn't seen if yet, David Fleming has written a very good paper on the Nuclear Life Cycle here: http://www.feasta.org/documents/energy/nuclear_power.pdf

And Dave Kimble has prepared an excellent photo essay here: http://home.austarnet.com.au/davekimble/peakoil/nuclear.CO2.htm
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Totally_Baffled



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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm.

Ok - lets assume nuclear is a bad decision. What should Tony of announced as part of his energy review? (being DA here for a moment?)

Now I am all for renewables - but if we are to denounce nuclear partly on the grounds that breeders are a "unproven" technology, then one can argue that we do the same for wind farms etc (as far as I am aware , the variability of wind has not had a "proven" solution)

So where do we get the other 80%?

OK - lets say 20% conservation - where do we get the other 60%?

Gas

Would all have to be imported and omits CO2 and methane leaks from pipes (which is much much worse than C02)?

Also it would have to come from unfriendly nations.

Also issue of world peak gas, in around 2030-2035.

Coal

Again , have to import all of it, very dirty , and again issue of peak coal production given the peak of other energy sources?

Oil

Say no more

Erm.....any other ideas?
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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also have to say the fleming paper is a little misleading on a few points, i will use someone elses post on another forum to outline a few of them:

Quote:

The article claims that if we were to suddenly and instantly switch ALL ENERGY PRODUCTION in the world over to nuclear power, given the current efficiency of nuclear power plants and the current amount of KNOWN uranium reserves, it would work for about six years. This is far from the implication that if we were to start phasing out petroleum and replacing it with nuclear power we would get about six years into it before we ran out of uranium.

On this unreasonable basis he rejects nuclear power as a viable option. Furthermore, his article includes a pathetically weak, three-pointed discussion of criticisms of his suscribed theory. I intend to expand on his discussion.

1) "First, it is argued that there are plenty of good-quality uranium deposits available, that reserves are abundant, and that they will become more so when demand strengthens. But there is little to support this. From the 1960s to the 1980s, exploration for uranium deposits was intensive; most that was there to be found was found. Some small deposits doubtless remain to be discovered, but the geology of uranium is now well known: there are almost certainly no major new discoveries ahead." [1]

He claims that there is "little to support" the existance of more good-quality uranium reserves, but then offers even less to support their nonexistance. He offers the heavy exploration from the 60s to the 80s as evidence that everything that is there was already found. I believe his implication is that we couldn't find anything more, and so we stopped looking.

But as mlorrey commented, uranium is about as common as the element tin. Because of this abundance, uranium is cheap right now, and has been for some time. There has been no impetus to find new uranium deposits. According to the 2001 "Analysis of Uranium Supply to 2050" released by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, the quantity of uranium in highest-confidence reserves is over 3.2 million tons [2]. According to a 2005 report by the World Nuclear Association, there are 3.5 million tons [3] of known recoverable uranium. If David Fleming's assertion that no new major discoveries have taken place between the 80's and today is correct, then this number has remained nearly unchanged for the past twenty years. Twenty years ago, 3 million tons of uranium would have looked like thousands of years worth of energy. Why spend money finding more when you already have more than you'd ever plan on using?

Something doesn't make sense in Fleming's logic, and I'd hardly trust his assertion that no more uranium will be found, especially when the experts predict the total availible amount of conventionally recoverable uranium is on the order of 9.7 million tons [3].

2) "Second, critics point out that uranium is an abundant element; there is plenty of it in the earth's crust and in seawater. But in both cases the energy needed to extract it would be more than could ever be recovered." [1]

This is categorically wrong. Unless I am mistaken, uranium in the earth's crust is extracted by mining, and the Japanese have shown that it can be extracted from seawater for a price of about $300 per kilogram [2]. Current uranium prices are on the order of $30 to $40 per kilogram, so this not economically practical as long as we have cheap uranium at our disposal. Since this $300/kg price includes the energy cost, and 1 kilogram of raw uranium after roughly $1000 worth of processing yields about 40,000kWh of power [4] at today's efficiencies, it's obviously possible to recover all of the energy and more from seawater uranium.


3) "Third, there is the argument that we could use uranium more efficiently by developing breeder reactors, which would be 100 times as efficient as today's thermal reactors. But after 50 years of extremely expensive research, they are still not technically feasible." [1]

Fifty years is gross and dishonest mischaracterization. Fifty years ago was 1956, two years after the first nuclear power plant was finished, and a little over ten years after the first bombs were made. I'd hardly say that modern fast breeder reactors have had 50 years of devoted research.

New nuclear technologies, like all techologies, take time, money, and sociatal impetus to come to fruition. But even if fast breeder reactors don't become a reality within the next ten years, new reactors have shown that it is possible to improve the efficiency of the process by substantial amounts.


Lastly, if you stand by David Fleming's above assertion, I would point out the subtle hypocracy of assuming there will be no major developments in nuclear power while championing wind power, a technology that will need many major developments before it will be capable of replacing other energy sources.


References:
[1] David Fleming, "Nuclear Confusion", Prospect Magazine (http://afr.com/articles/2005/06/23/1119321845502.html)
[2] "Analysis of Uranium Supply to 2050", International Atomic Energy Agency
[3] "Supply of Uranium", World Nuclear Association, (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf75.htm)
[4] "The Economics of Nuclear Power", (http://www.uic.com.au/nip08.htm)


Ok the jury is out on uranium from seawater - but then it is unclear how much conventional and non conventional uranium there is.

One other point - using stockpiles of uranium surpresses uranium production/investment NOT the other way around.
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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Totally_Baffled wrote:
Ok - lets assume nuclear is a bad decision. What should Tony of announced as part of his energy review? (being DA here for a moment?)

I think the dificulity here is the terms of refernce. Blair and pretty much everyone else is working on the basis that forecast electricity demand has to be met and CO2 emissions must simultainosuly be reducedt. Those are the terms of reference.

However maybe that isn't realistic, with or without nuclear? Maybe the radical conclusion that forecast electricity demand won't be met whilst reducing CO2 emissions should be accepted - so instead of wasting time futilely trying to lower CO2 emission whilst meeting forecast demand we should be trying to work out how electricity demand can be reduced by (say) one third over the next 10 years with minimal hardship.

The sooner that option is brought onto the table the sooner we can start to have the sensible debate about how to reduce electricity demand by a third - an achievable target over a decade. We just have to recognise the need and get on with the project.

In answer to what Blair should have said tonight - reduced electricity demand, -30% by 2016 and -50% by 2025. This is totally realistic - I recently got one of those plug in power meters and have been testing my appliances. The difference between some things is shocking, within 10 years most things with plugs on them will have been swapped out and could be swapped for more efficient models.

Going by the experience of Germany and Denmark wind could provide ~10% (to compare wind and breeder reactors is just daft!). Tidal stream ~4%, tidal barrage ~6%.

So conservation, wind and tidal gets us 70% there - maybe coal can continue to provide 20% and gas 10% for several more decades to come?

And that's before thinking about wave energy which is the real biggie, perhaps 15% of current total.

Announcing that kind of agenda would have been far more sensible.

I don't think nuclear is the answer since I just don't think it can work. There are only six consortiums in the world who can build nuclear power plants, their order books are full. The EU doesn't allow public money to be spent on such projects so private investors would be needed, this is a problem since due to the huge front end loaded expense then slow revenue thereafter payback is decades away. There are simply more attractive investments!

Capital can only be spent once, investing in nuclear must reduce investment in other areas of potential CO2 emission reduction. In the UK nuclear only provides approximately 8% of total power, it would not be wise to invest vast capital (both economic and political) in this relatively small area to the detriment of potential programmes addressing the remaining 92% of the energy infrastructure and policy.
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I understand things, from the Fleming paper, and generally, nuclear power is the last option for ?business as usual?. But, the sting in the tail is that it requires large amounts of energy after it has finished working to clear up the mess. By definition then, since nuclear is the last BAU energy source, and the mess is cleared up after the power station has finished producing electricity, we will need large amounts of energy when there is absolutely no chance of producing them. Or, in other words, if we go nuclear, we screw the coming generations. Surely this makes it unacceptable?


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that?s partly my point when I was on "have your say" Smile

And from a politicians point of view its perfectly acceptable as it become a big pink SEP with flashing lights on it. Besides, would you expect anything else Question After all looking after the short term and sod the future is what got us in the miss to start with Exclamation
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Going by the experience of Germany and Denmark wind could provide ~10% (to compare wind and breeder reactors is just daft!). Tidal stream ~4%, tidal barrage ~6%.

So conservation, wind and tidal gets us 70% there - maybe coal can continue to provide 20% and gas 10% for several more decades to come?


Hi Chris

Sorry I didnt make my point very well.

All I am saying is that without some sort of technological leap in wind power , then it cannot provide stable supply to the national grid of more than 20% (which I think has just about been acheived by the Danes). As I understand it , no one has yet gone beyond this.

If such a technological leap is "assumed" by investing in Wind, then why not nuclear? Now this may not be in the form of "breeder" reactors(but given time why not? - if not why not recycle fuel like the french - proven technology) , but certainly further efficiencies could be acheived in nuclear(waste , and thermal efficiency etc).

The other problem that has not been addressed about renewables is that the variability compromises conservation gains.

What I mean by this is, not matter how much you conserve , variable power sources (like wind) can still only make 20%.

Therefore even you lower demand by x% , you still have to find the other 80%!

It would more sensible therefore to have as many sources as possible - so why not:
20% renewables (wind tidal barge), 30% coal 30% gas 20% nuclear. Spreads the risk.
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

I don't think nuclear is the answer since I just don't think it can work. There are only six consortiums in the world who can build nuclear power plants, their order books are full. The EU doesn't allow public money to be spent on such projects so private investors would be needed, this is a problem since due to the huge front end loaded expense then slow revenue thereafter payback is decades away. There are simply more attractive investments!


Maybe that is why it will take 20 years to get these online.

About the same amount of time it will take us to build the tens of thousands of wind turbines and all those tidal barrages!
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10001099&sid=a8.HYEBVdJ6w&refer=energy

One of the arguments against nuclear is that there is a long queue of orders with the few consortiums capable of building new reactors.

The above article seems to imply that Brazil is finding no such bottle necks.

They have yet to make a firm decision on a reactor they intend to start building NEXT YEAR!

If there was a bottleneck in construction because of "full order books", wouldnt this story read - "decision due on new nuclear power stations this year , construction would start in 2017!"

Or something like that?
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well someone's bound to be at the front of the queue innit!
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandidoz wrote:
Well someone's bound to be at the front of the queue innit!


that my point , they arent in the queue yet because they have not decided to go ahead yet!
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sounds to me like they are already in the queue, already have a relationship with Areva. They are at a very different position to the UK. Having said that there is nothing in the article suggesting that once they do place an order they won't just be told it'll take 14 years rather than 7 years "because cos we've got too much work on". The government may plan for operation by 2013 but be disappointed.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Without being argumentative...(just trying to keep the debate going , I cannot make me mind up on nuclear Very Happy )

http://www.nuclearspin.org/index.php/EDF#ref_spindr

And we have relationships with EDF , therefore are we already in the queue?

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=406257&in_page_id=2

and:

Quote:

In November 2005, EDF's Chief Executive, Vincent de Rivaz, told a parliamentary committee that new nuclear power stations could be built within ten years if planning and licensing laws are relaxed.


Presumably he allowed for existing orders at reactor producers?

It also sounds like they are ready to make the investment also:

Quote:


EDF, which owns London Electricity and generates UK supplies with wind farms as well as coal and gasfired power stations, is ready to invest in a series of nuclear plants using its European pressurised water reactor. Each 1,000 megawatt power station, capable of lighting a million homes, costs about ?1.1bn.



?1.1bn each , are we not spending ?3bn a year in Iraq? (just to get the money into context)

I think if you're going to argue against nuclear , do it on the basis of waste and decommisioning capability post peak (which are unclear), but in the basis of investment on "order books being full" or "no one being prepared to invest" I think maybe a little misleading?
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These are all quotes from the April New Scientist article which argues that nuclear won't happen in the UK, not for waste and decommissioning reasons but for economic and logistical reasons.

Quote:
2005 was the first year nuclear power's electricity output dropped behind that of small-scale plants producing low or no CO2 emissions.

Of the electricity added to the worldwide supply in 2004, micropower technologies generated almost three times as much as nuclear. Spain and Germany's ventures into wind power alone added as much power capacity in 2004 as the world's nuclear industry will add from 2000 to 2010.

Until last year, near-zero emissions of greenhouse gases were nuclear power's trump card... the one thing that might make Western governments invest... That argument now has a hole punched through it and it boils down to economics.

[the government has to] ensure the long term stability of electricity prices... new-build nuclear programme in the UK would require an injection of ?1.6bn in government grants to make the idea appeal to private investor. The action needed to meet either of these requirements is unlikely to be allowed within the EU.

UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority have already been subject to an 18-month inquiry into infractions of fair competition.

More serious are allegations against the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) at Olkiluoto, Finland... [it] is being financed at extremely low rates of interest by French and German state-owned organisations. The scheme is being investigated by the European Commission

the nuclear industry likes to point to Olkiluto as evidence of the viability of new nuclear stations. That argument, however, is questionable... the company the plant is being built for is not a conventional electricity utility, but a company owned by large Finnish industrial concerns that supplies electricity to its owners on a not-for-profit basis.

The expected expansion of China's nuclear programme could absorb all the uranium supplied by Australia, which alone accounts for some 40 per cent of the world's uranium reserves.

...few science and engineering students are coming through to replace reactor workers who are now retiring... not enough people to build and operate new reactors.

...only six engineering consortia in the world capable of building a nuclear power station. None of them is British... Even the limited construction now taking place across the world is stretching the industry's capacity, and a construction queue is developing that could kill nuclear plans for the UK.

...maintaining the nuclear status quo in the UK would require 8 - 10 new plants... might not be up and running for 25 years. That lag could prove fatal for the nuclear industry. As existing plants go into decline and are shut down, something else has to replace their generating capacity.

...investment in new nuclear power could damage the chances of making other climate-friendly technologies work.

...you can only spend money once. How can anyone justify spending on it on something that is not proven to be economical, not going to deliver for two decades - and then will only provide a limited solution? In the UK, nuclear power supplies only 8% of the energy used "Why prejudice programmes and policies to tackle 92% of emissions by spending lots of political and financial capital on 8%?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These are all quotes from the April New Scientist article which argues that nuclear won't happen in the UK, not for waste and decommissioning reasons but for economic and logistical reasons.

Quote:
2005 was the first year nuclear power's electricity output dropped behind that of small-scale plants producing low or no CO2 emissions.

Of the electricity added to the worldwide supply in 2004, micropower technologies generated almost three times as much as nuclear. Spain and Germany's ventures into wind power alone added as much power capacity in 2004 as the world's nuclear industry will add from 2000 to 2010.

Until last year, near-zero emissions of greenhouse gases were nuclear power's trump card... the one thing that might make Western governments invest... That argument now has a hole punched through it and it boils down to economics.

[the government has to] ensure the long term stability of electricity prices... new-build nuclear programme in the UK would require an injection of ?1.6bn in government grants to make the idea appeal to private investor. The action needed to meet either of these requirements is unlikely to be allowed within the EU.

UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority have already been subject to an 18-month inquiry into infractions of fair competition.

More serious are allegations against the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) at Olkiluoto, Finland... [it] is being financed at extremely low rates of interest by French and German state-owned organisations. The scheme is being investigated by the European Commission

the nuclear industry likes to point to Olkiluto as evidence of the viability of new nuclear stations. That argument, however, is questionable... the company the plant is being built for is not a conventional electricity utility, but a company owned by large Finnish industrial concerns that supplies electricity to its owners on a not-for-profit basis.

The expected expansion of China's nuclear programme could absorb all the uranium supplied by Australia, which alone accounts for some 40 per cent of the world's uranium reserves.

...few science and engineering students are coming through to replace reactor workers who are now retiring... not enough people to build and operate new reactors.

...only six engineering consortia in the world capable of building a nuclear power station. None of them is British... Even the limited construction now taking place across the world is stretching the industry's capacity, and a construction queue is developing that could kill nuclear plans for the UK.

...maintaining the nuclear status quo in the UK would require 8 - 10 new plants... might not be up and running for 25 years. That lag could prove fatal for the nuclear industry. As existing plants go into decline and are shut down, something else has to replace their generating capacity.

...investment in new nuclear power could damage the chances of making other climate-friendly technologies work.

...you can only spend money once. How can anyone justify spending on it on something that is not proven to be economical, not going to deliver for two decades - and then will only provide a limited solution? In the UK, nuclear power supplies only 8% of the energy used "Why prejudice programmes and policies to tackle 92% of emissions by spending lots of political and financial capital on 8%?

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