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Nuclear

Renewable energies, sustainability, recycling and everything in between
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knownunknown
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Nuclear

#1

Post by knownunknown »

The power of the atom is immense. Oppenheimer said of “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds”. This along with nuclear winter scenarios scared the world against nuclear power, clean efficient energy.

If we had a few reactors now we’d been energy independent, not reliant on external factors such as energy pricing amidst a war.

Am I missing something? What do you think?
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isha
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Re: Nuclear

#2

Post by isha »

I think it's too risky given the intellectual and emotional development of our species. In my opinion it's an energy system to be considered when we are more evolved.

Others will hopefully disagree. But I will probably keep that opinion for the moment.
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gugleguy
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Re: Nuclear

#3

Post by gugleguy »

The Jury's out for me too..
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Del.Monte
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Re: Nuclear

#4

Post by Del.Monte »

Far too dangerous, hugely expensive to decommission etc.etc. not in anyway an expert in this area but I have been opposed to nuclear energy, weapons and so on since I was a teenager - and that's not recently. When they started in GB the catch-cry was 'electricity too cheap to meter'. :roll:
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765489

Re: Nuclear

#5

Post by 765489 »

It will probably cost twice as much to build in Ireland and take something like 10 years to get planning. When it is built in 2042, the IAEA will probably discover cracks in the concrete during inspections. The whole thing will probably have to be pulled down due to pyrite contamination.

Better off not bothering as we will make a complete banjo of it here.
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isha
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Re: Nuclear

#6

Post by isha »

I'm still hoping someone will argue FOR nuclear power as I know there are good arguments for and they are interesting to hear.
But anyway a book I read a while ago is Robert MacFarlane's Underlands, and he has a whole chapter on deep burial of the most dangerous waste in Onkalo in Finland.

He is very passionate about environmental stuff and all on board the anthropocene end of times story which can be very heavy, but he is also an incredibly good writer. For anyone interested, that chapter is available to read here - https://psmag.com/.amp/ideas/the-hiding ... lear-waste

Just to single out one notable part of the story he relates - the development of nuclear semiotics. Professionals from many disciplines coming together to try and figure out a language or symbolic representation of danger that will be comprehensible to our descendants over very long periods of time, and will let them know not to disturb what we have buried.

It's a dark thing to imagine - there may be great ruptures in the story of our species and planet that fracture history and memory and that leave far future people vulnerable to accidentally exposing what we are now burying. How to warn them - do not open this box.
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CelticRambler
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Re: Nuclear

#7

Post by CelticRambler »

As a token pseudo-Frenchman on this forum, I'd like to argue in favour of nuclear - but there's not a lot to commend it.

Yes, France is relatively autonomous with regards to its electrical production ... except

(a) France is a net importer of electricity by value, because EDF did such a great job of selling the idea of cheap electricity back in the day that current nuclear output cannot meet the peak demand for electricity in the winter, so France has to import expensive Swiss, German and Italian power (mostly from renewable sources), and only gets to export cheap nuclear to the neighbours when no-one wants it in the summer, and even that is on shaky ground now (see below).

And (b) there's feck-all uranium left in France, so the vast majority of it comes from Africa. Where's the autonomy in that?

Then there's the inconvenient fact that France's reactors are getting old and unreliable. Back in March, fully 50% of the country's reactors were off-line for various reasons, most of them to do with necessary repairs and maintenance. The new reactors being built are plagued with problems, not least of which are indeed cracks in the concrete - that's not just an Irish thing.

As if that wasn't enough, during the periodic heatwaves of the last few years, the sites along the Rhône valley have had to curtail their output - sometimes stopping production altogether - because the water in the river is too damn hot to cool the reactors. Not a great scenario when we're having more and more periodic heatwaves.

The combined effect of all of that has prompted the government to aggressively promote a switch away from nuclear, aiming to get the country's dependency down to about 50% in a relatively short number of years. There are several incentive schemes currently being promoted for various forms of renewable energy generations, one of which I'm hoping to personally take advantage of in the next year or two.
knownunknown
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Re: Nuclear

#8

Post by knownunknown »

Even getting our grid 20-25% nuclear would have massive benefits for the environment and our intermittency problem with the wind. Maybe France went overboard but I think they had the right idea.

Can anyone outline the risks exactly as they see it? Modern reactors surely are only at risk of war, terrorism and natural disaster which we are lucky in Ireland not to be anywhere near.
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isha
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Re: Nuclear

#9

Post by isha »

The waste. That's my biggest objection.
The possibility of accident. Pretty high on list of risks.
The possibility of terrorism. We are beside the UK and might make an easier target. Less likely as a threat but not negligible.

Before we would consider nuclear I think we should invest in huge research to see if we could properly harness tidal energy. We have a vast ocean to the west, waves and deep swell - there must be ways to make it all produce loads of energy. I want that rather than nuclear energy.
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Hairy-Joe
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Re: Nuclear

#10

Post by Hairy-Joe »

I'm going to go against the grain maybe here by saying that we should give serious consideration to it. I think several smaller plants rather than one big one (for redundancy). I've read about new reactor designs that are "a few years" away but they have been "a few years away" for years!

That being said, I'm currently reading Serhii Plokhy's book on Chernobyl. It's scary how design decisions and uneducated operators (on design flaws) caused the issue.
CelticRambler
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Re: Nuclear

#11

Post by CelticRambler »

knownunknown wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 9:21 pm Even getting our grid 20-25% nuclear would have massive benefits for the environment and our intermittency problem with the wind. Maybe France went overboard but I think they had the right idea.
Back in the day (and until quite recently) nuclear in France contributed about 80% of the electricity supply, and it was a Right Idea in the beginning. However, the way things have played out over the last decades have some of the problems with nuclear: when it was first developed, France had easy access to uranium, in-country and from the colonies. But the colonies have since decided that they don't really like being raped and pillaged by their colonial overlord, leaving France beholden to a number of regimes of dubious integrity. The thing about nuclear power plants is that they can only function as nuclear power plants - there's no question of converting them to run on something else, as was done with (for example) peat- and coal-burning plants.

There's also the timescale to take into account: it takes an incredibly long time to get a nuclear facility up and running, to the extent that the circumstances in force at the time the design and performance parameters were signed off can be out-dated, or even obsolete, by the time the first watt comes out of the plant. Then you've got the generations-long decommissioning period to consider. All-in-all, the cost vs benefit doesn't really make sense, especially when vast amounts of the energy being consumed are going towards ecologically bad behaviour such as crypto mining and the storage of and exploitation of personal internet data.

That said, the French haven't given up on nuclear. There's a massive (massive :o ) experimental fusion site down in Provence - ITER - which generates a huge amount of business for the local economy. I worked down there a few years ago, catering to the ITER people amongst others, and it was quite an experience. But at the end of the day, from a production point of view it's still just 180ha of fancy notions, and I reckon I'll still have produced more electricity for the country off 0.02ha before my children come into their inheritance.
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isha
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Re: Nuclear

#12

Post by isha »

It's a good point about what we are using the energy for. Data centres consume 14% of Ireland's electricity in 2022, and rapidly rising. Almost 300%increase in past 7years. It would be kind of weird if the future history books are recording the long expensive decommissioning of an accident prone project that was built to help Ireland's grid cope with the cooling needs of Facebook servers 😳

https://www.google.ie/amp/s/www.bbc.com ... 308747.amp
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knownunknown
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Re: Nuclear

#13

Post by knownunknown »

With all of these things there are trade offs.

Even tidal/wave can harm local habitats and there is a potential for chemical spills. Some need to construct large dams, the ocean is one of the harshest environments with the salt water, strong winds and high pressures requiring constant maintenance which brings more risk of chemical or sewage leaking. It requires massive initial investment, massive spend of co2 and other chemicals and is far from predictable. It’s apparently relatively unknown the risk to local flora and fauna or even how green they will be based on the lifetime being unknown.

The nuclear waste from power plants these days is converted into a type of ceramic glass (vitrification) after being cooled for some time. This avoids dissolving into water making it much, much safer-avoiding potential environmental disasters.

Was looking into the terrorism angle a little, it seems over time the nuclear spent fuel will become more and more weapons grade as it decomposes meaning sometime in the future there will be large stores for undesirables to access. The estimated cost though of accessing one of these sealed storage facilities and the processing required is far more expensive than just making some centrifuges yourself and spinning up the material you can buy anyway. So far no plant has been the target of terrorism anywhere and even Europe’s largest in Ukraine is now occupied by the Russians, safely. It’s more of a fight who will own the energy generated than a fight to destroy it and ruin the environment.

US reactors produce ~ 2,000 metric tonnes of spent nuclear waste per year while it produced 522 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases last year.
Nuclear makes up 20% of its energy grid. Nuclear fuel is dug up from the ground and then we put it back there while only releasing small amounts of harmful gases compared to other technologies.

“ It (nuclear) emits 70 times less CO2 than coal, 40 times less than gas, 4 times less than solar energy, 2 times less than hydroelectricity and the same amount as wind energy”

This information I pulled from quick glances on Google so anyone feel free to correct me.
Last edited by knownunknown on Sun Jul 03, 2022 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
knownunknown
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Re: Nuclear

#14

Post by knownunknown »

We don’t have easy access to a lot of things required for energy production anyway, for example rare earth metals and such which are highly chemical intensive but are quite happy to source them from China. These are required for all the green technologies. We also buy our oil and gas from elsewhere already. If we were buying nuclear fuel we need to buy far less of it. It’s a good point to make but shouldn’t be an argument against nuclear, either should be what we spend the energy on.
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isha
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Re: Nuclear

#15

Post by isha »

I really enjoyed this informative and ultimately uplifting podcast about nuclear fusion.

Thinking out loud, and trying to be occasionally less wrong...
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