Does Eliminating Nuclear Power as an OPTION for Replacing CO2 Emitting Power Plants Make Sense?

There is still a strong and vocal group of people who absolutely oppose the use of nuclear power as one possible viable alternative to CO2 producing power plants.

Anti-nuclear advocates must still answer the pressing question, if the nuclear options are not considered and practical and sustainable non-carbon energy alternatives are not found in time to replace existing carbon consuming facilities before global warming become irreversible (we might already be there with 400 ppm of CO2 now being recorded) then what happens to the world and human existence?

The end of life on earth and the suffering humanity will have to endure while the world terminates lifeforms due to the consequences of global warming, like a person dying of cancer, is infinitely worst than any nuclear accident as well as being global in scope.  How many people have died from all past nuclear plant accidents compared to people killed in just the last 10 years globally due to unusual weather events (storms)?  A few hundred compared to tens of thousands and counting.  Then there is the breeder reactor option that is being totally ignored that is cleaner and a more abundant energy source than current conventional nuclear facilities.

A rational approach to this question is to pursue ALL POSSIBLE OPTIONS so that we have choices just in case some other options turn out unfeasible.  To eliminate any viable option simply does not make rational sense.  Keep in mind that we are talking about, the ending of human existence on earth in less than 200 years and increasing suffering until the last person takes his/her last breath.  I think anti-nuclear advocates fail to understand how grave the situation is just as conservatives are ignoring the warnings from scientist because they are in denial of the consequences.  Gambling man’s survival just because one does not like nuclear power is not much different from conservatives not accepting global warming because it is bad for business or their economy.  I do not see much difference in such non-rational reasoning.

We are often faced with the lesser of evils.  Nuclear power is a lesser evil than CO2 producing power industries because it could save human existence.  The stakes are very clear and very high so I am willing to gamble possible nuclear accidents against the certainty of global warming destroying life on earth.  Keep in mind I consider nuclear power AS AN OPTION.  I am NOT saying that it is the solution but can provide clean energy if a safer and more practical technology is not found in time.  There is enough potential nuclear power to sustain us for thousands of years especially if breeder reactor technology is develop (see Nuclear Power Alternative – Less waste disposal problems).  But like all technologies being explored it needs time to develop and scientist are saying with increasing alarm that we are quickly running out of time.  So there is not time to waste.

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5 Responses to Does Eliminating Nuclear Power as an OPTION for Replacing CO2 Emitting Power Plants Make Sense?

  1. Maury Markowitz says:

    But the simple fact of the matter is that fission is not, as you put it, a possible option.

    Let me give you a concrete example. Right now we are considering adding another 3.2 GWp of reactors to the existing Darlington site outside Toronto. The process has been ongoing for about a decade now. There is no sign of a deal being signed.

    Even if a deal were signed today, electrons would not start flowing out of the system until well after 2025. During that period, other generation assets would go offline, and would require replacement with gas. This has the potential to *increase* the amount of CO2 as a result.

    Or we could start putting up turbines and PV panels. Their contribution to the power mix may be tiny, but by the time the reactors started running they would have displaced an enormous amount of CO2. I’m sure you’ve heard various bogus internet claims that it uses more power than it creates and such, but they are all untrue.

    So basically I don’t think anyone’s eliminating the option, at least anyone that matters. One has to look at what’s actually happening on the ground to see who’s listening to whom. And what does that say? It says that 32 GW of wind went in last year, 28 GW of PV, and -12 GW of nuclear. The market *has* decided.

    • FG says:

      I didn’t exactly say fusion was not an option. The reason nuclear power is not currently a major player is because of the fear that people and governments have of nuclear accidents. Unfortunately there will be accidents and we will learn how to make it safer but for now the US has essentially stop building any new nuclear facilities. If resources and money were put into fission and fusion reactors then these sources of energy could be easily realized withing 10 years if anti-nuclear groups would not keep throwing monkey wrenches into the process. The reason it takes so long for some facilities to come on line in such places as Toronto are because of people who are concerned about the safety issues and are causing numerous delays and even trying to kill such projects. Think of what would have happened to the airline industry if after a few crashes further jet plane development were stopped? More people have lost their lives from plane crashes over the last 5 decades than in all nuclear power plant disasters put together prompting numerous safety improvements leading up to quite an impressive safe record today.

      In fact the US is no longer a player in the development of nuclear power plants. Japan, which until the Fukushima disaster was planing to develop fusion reactors, has also taken nuclear power off the drawing boards. Same with Germany. However China, India, Russia and other countries are planning to develop fusion power and other nations such as Canada are slowly building more nuclear power plants.

      If the urgency of Global Warmer were not looming at us so clearly I would be among those against the use of nuclear power. But scientist are increasingly alarmed and I am nervous that such countries as the US are not considering this a viable OPTION. The effects of Global Warming will ultimately contribute to the deaths of millions if we do not take immediate steps to start curbing it.

    • Maury Markowitz says:

      “The reason nuclear power is not currently a major player is because of the fear that people and governments have of nuclear accidents”

      No, that’s not true. It’s a common complaint, but let’s be blunt, it requires us to believe the politicians listen to the granola cruncher crowd. Yeah, sure!

      The reasons are all business, top to bottom. Here’s a couple of them:

      1) building a nuke takes years, maybe a decade. But you need to pay for it up front. You do that buy borrowing money – true of any power source. So now you’re paying interest on something that’s not providing any income. So when it does turn on, you need to make serious profit…

      2) … which is tough, because when you do turn it on, you dump power on the local market. Supply and demand drives the price down. A WHOLE bunch of reactors got seriously hit by this in the 60s and 70s.

      3) right now it’s practically impossible to get any sort of long-term financing like this. After the 2008 meltdown, the non-nuclear kind, there’s simply no one willing to finance these things. In the US the government stepped in, and they always did up here in Cannuckistan, but now everyone’s gunshy. The local Darlington reactor has entirely disappeared from the radar.

      4) the cost of nuclear systems has fallen only marginally over the years, at least since the 80s. Reactor costs now are about $7 a watt, which is what they were going in for in the 80s. Meanwhile, things like wind and solar have *plummeted* in price, and continue to do so.

      Long and short, it’s all about the time value of money. I can make a reasonable prediction of the cost of money to me to make the reactor. However, I can’t make even the smallest prediction about the value of other technologies in the future. So if I have a choice between putting in something marginally effective that goes in this year, vs something really predictable 10 years out, I go for the short time *every time*.

      And that’s exactly what’s going on.

      If you want to play with some numbers, you might enjoy this (assuming you don’t fall asleep in the process!):

      http://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/your-own-grid-parity-pv-system/

    • FG says:

      Take a look at the map of where nuclear power plants are located (http://www.nucleartourist.com/us/us-plant.htm#USMap) and you will see that the Eastern half of the US has the vast majority of nuclear reactors. California has only two nuclear reactors and only one is currently running, the other is in maintenance indefinitely.

      The reason that California has only two plants is because there was a scare put out by anti-nuclear activist that earthquakes would result in nuclear disasters. The two plants built have withstood all the earthquakes to date. The disaster in Japan with has much more earthquakes was not due to the earthquake but due to the Tsunami flooding the generators with water a design flaw that we now know must be accounted for. California has a very strong environment and anti-nuclear activist of which I am one (with the recent exception of nuclear power). It was activist who stopped further nuclear power development on the West coast vs. the Easter part of the US, not economics.

      Indecently the last nuclear power plant to be built in the US was the “River Bend” plant in Louisiana. Its construction began in March of 1977. So essentially the US has been out of the nuclear power building business for 36 years. I consider that not an OPTION for the US.

  2. Pingback: Harnessing Greenhouse Gases | ouR Social Conscience

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