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Is Nuclear Energy the Answer?

Posted on 13 June 2019 by scaddenp

Abbott 2011  and Abbott 2012 doesn’t think so but perhaps there are better analyses? For discussions of economics, levelized cost estimates of various electricity technologies can be found here and here.

Nuclear energy is quite commonly proposed as the solution to reducing GHG emissions. As soon as this gets raised on an article's comment thread, there has been a bad tendency for on-topic discussion to be completely derailed by proponents for and against.

We have repeatedly asked for nuclear proponents to provide an article for this site which puts the case based on published science but so far we haven't had a taker. The proposal would need to be reviewed by Sks volunteers. In lieu of such an article, this topic has been created where such discussions can take place.

However, in the absence of a proper article summarizing the science, stricter than normal moderation will be applied to ensure that all assertions made for or against are backed by references to published studies, preferably in peer-reviewed journals.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 157:

  1. The mentioned paper Abbott 2011 says nuclear reactors must be placed "away from dense population zones, natural disaster zones, and near to a massive body of coolant water" - I call "citation needed" on all three of those claims, but the third one in particular does not really apply to Molten Salt Reactors which can rely on air cooling or on relatively modest amounts of cooling water. I would think high-temperature reactors, in general, have modest water requirements.

    To be more specific, I thought I heard from one source that an MSR produces 1% of its output after shutdown, but I know I heard a guy from the NRC say that a LWR produces 7% of its output right after shutdown. Given a 2 GW-th MSR plant (about 900 MW-e) I calculate that in the worst case - at 7% output and with secondary coolant water that mysteriously starts out already being at the boiling point - it would boil 62 kg of water per second / or 223 tons per hour. But the radioactivity would drop pretty quickly so that the rate of water loss should be much lower within a few hours, and I assume cooling towers can be designed to recapture much of the water vapor. For comparison an Olympic swimming pool's capacity is 2,500,000 L or 2500 tons.

    Taking into account not just the footprint area of a nuclear power station itself, but also its exclusion zone, associated enrichment plant, ore processing, and supporting infrastructure, work at Stanford University, Stanford, CA [6] has shown that each nuclear power plant surprisingly requires an extended land footprint area of as much as 20.5 km2

    Its exclusion zone, meaning the evacuation area in case of a disaster? First, it is unreasonably pessimistic to say no one should live near a nuclear reactor - sign me up! Every nuclear disaster in history has been an old Generation II plant (AFAIK). Modern reactors are hella safe, that's half the reason they cost so much more than the old ones. Second, you know how it's unreasonable to count wind farms as taking up a huge land area because in reality there can be farms underneath them? The same applies to nuclear. Third, I'd love to hear anyone come up with a theory of how an MSR could produce a hazardous radioactive gas cloud (in all seriousness, e.g. I'm waiting for a chemist to speak up about what would happen if a supersonic jumbo jet mysteriously aims itself direcly at the below-grade reactor, and then let's say it had a water-based cooling system that now pours uncontrollably onto the exposed salt. Given a molten salt filled with dozens of solutes, do some solutes enter the atmosphere when water is added?)

    Thus, if nuclear stations need replacement every 50 years on average, then in the steady state for 15 TW, one nuclear power station needs to be built and another decommissioned somewhere in the world every day. This is questionable, given that nuclear stations are complex as evidenced by the fact they take on the order of 6–12 years to build, and then around 20–50 years to decommission.

    This is an emotional argument, not a scientific one. It's like saying we have a worldwide epidemic of flesh-eating disease, given that 144 human beings die from it every single day. Almost anything looks like a lot when scaled up to the entire population of planet Earth. Anyway, reactors won't take 6-12 years to build if they are built at scale, and the usual debate over nuclear power is not whether we should build 15,000,000 MW of nuclear capacity, but whether we should build any whatsoever.

    In a nuclear power station, entropy is an unavoidable byproduct of the generation of large amounts of energy

    Um, you mean heat? Why wouldn't you just call it heat?

    Maintaining order while subjected to a high entropy condition is a challenging situation, and this leads to a tradeoff between reliability and efficiency. In the same way that any electrical device or machine heats up and eventually fails, the same is inexorably true for a nuclear station.

    Um, humans have built many machines that work at their designed operating temperature for many years without failing, including reactors.

    Together with embrittlement, the metal structure is also subject to corrosion, oxidation, thermal creep, irradiation creep, phase instability, volumetric swelling, void swelling, grain boundary sliding, intergranular degradation, fracture, cavitation, and radiation-induced segregation (RIS) [7]. It is all these aging factors acting together that unavoidably lead to plant shutdown after 50–60 years of operation.

    What businessman won't build something because the profits will stop 50-60 years after construction?

    The situation in proposed Generation IV reactors is worsened where the vessel is 1) exposed to higher temperatures, 2) higher neutron doses, and 3) a greater corrosive environment [7]. There are thus significant challenges to materials selection...

    My God, is that a citation? Great, now I have to go look at it to see if it has merit. I need to go to sleep momentarily... but I have a feeling that experts in GenIV tech are better qualified to comment than this guy.

    After 60 years of nuclear technology, there is still no universally agreed mode of disposal [9] and nuclear waste still raises heated controversy.

    Among laymen, sure. But what do nuclear experts say?

    ...there is not only the problem of spent fuel, but the problem of where to put all the decommissioned reactors. Burial of waste has uncertainty in terms of unforeseen geological movement and radioactive leakage into groundwater.

    The reactors simply aren't large in relation to their stupendous power output (and those giant domes around the reactors aren't radioactive). For reasons that escape me, waste burial is a big concern for some people, but let's consider the length of time for which high-level waste is more radioactive than the natural uranium ore it originally came from. Right now, that length of time is several thousand years, but by building waste-burning reactors, we can burn the long-lived actinide / transuranic waste, leaving us mostly with waste that is significantly radioactive for 300-500 years. (Granted I'm not a nuclear expert and I have only found numbers like these on the web and in YouTube presentations; if someone can find a scientific paper that looks at nuclear waste and/or other nuclear issues in a less biased way than Abbott, I'm eager to read it.)

    Because a nuclear station is a complex system, and where redundant subsystems are necessarily colocated, redundancy can fail and can even have a negative impact.

    A great exercise with any anti-nuke argument is to check if it still makes sense with airplanes: "Because an airplane is a complex system, where redundant subsystems are necessarily colocated, redundancy can fail and can even have a negative impact."

    Or if someone says "There have been nuclear accidents, so we should stop making reactors." No one says "There have been plane crashes, so we should stop making airplanes."

    Now, anyone who wants to make nuclear reactors cheaper must necessarily also make them less complex; good Gen IV designs are simpler than Gen III. But often redundancy is still needed.

    Maybe I'll read the rest of this when I have more time. But Phil, I share your desire for better expert analyses and so far I've been frustrated at the difficulty of finding reasonable, authoritative analysis of nuclear claims on both sides of the issue, based on evidence and facts.

     

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  2. Oops, forgot to complete the thought. What makes those "geological repositories" somewhat difficult to build is the need to guarantee they won't leak for something like 10,000 years. So if we can make our HL waste have 300-500 years of radioactivity instead (and we can), it should be a lot cheaper and easier to design a structure to last that long.

    But really the issue seems like a nothingburger; everybody says after 500 years the gamma radiation drops off anyway and the only real hazard is ingestion. How hard is it, really, to find an unpopulated area without groundwater where you can put this stuff? Well, we found a spot, Yucca mountain, right? So put the stuff there already. And this is a naive question, but what about all the empty oil wells - the ground was able to store oil for tens of millions of years, so why can't we store a few tons of waste in some empty well 4 kilometers straight down?

    Everybody argues about high-level waste, but what I'd really like to learn about is intermediate-level waste. This type has greater volume and less radioactivity, but I wonder how much volume exactly and whether there are some types of ILW with a very long period of hazardous radioactivity. And then there's low-level waste - do we really need to bury the stuff that was hit by the X-ray scanner in the hospital, and for how long?

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  3. DPiepgrass,

    you summarize the entire pronuclear argument when you say:

    "Granted I'm not a nuclear expert and I have only found numbers like these on the web and in YouTube presentations; if someone can find a scientific paper that looks at nuclear waste and/or other nuclear issues"

    We have a scientific paper that addresses nuclear issues.  It is Abbott 2011 and Abbott 2012.  Abbott 2011 is more readable for me while Abbott 2012 is in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.  Your reply of " I would think", " I thought I heard" and "My God, is that a citation? Great, now I have to go look at it" describe everything I have heard from nuclear supporters.

    It is up to you to provide citations to peer reviewed papers to support your claims.  Saying that you think the paper is incorrect does not mean anything.

    Referring to wild claims you think you read somewhere on the internet does not compare to a peer reviewed paper written by an Engineer who has over 16,900 citations and an h index of 61.

    Undemonstrated wild claims by nuclear designers are also not an appropriate response to a paper. 

    Perhaps this post should be left as an example of the type of post that is worthless.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] I have added Abbott 2012 to the article. And yes, we need comments that reference publications.

  4. Michael,

    Abbott is not a definitive paper, it is an engieering "solution".

    his 20.5 km^2 number as the requirement of a single reactor is false. It is based 70 % of the area being a buffer Zone, It also is based on only one reactor being placed in this site,

    The paractce is much higher and a single reactor is the exception. Typically 6 reactors are nowerdays placed in a facility for infrastructure savings. He also does not take into account hat this buffer Zone is only applied in the USA not in the rest of the world.

    Please could you be more circumspect when quoting Abbott

    Work it out yourself 

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS]  We are desparately wanting an definiitive paper. Abbott is best we have unless you can provide something else. You are also making statements without providing sources to back them. Any further posts without supporting publications will be deleted.

    [JH] Argumentative statement struck.

  5. Michael sweet, Abbott 2011 is an opinion piece, not a study, and while Abbott is clearly intelligent, so is climate science denier Richard Lindzen, who has "published more than 200 scientific papers and books".

    Nuclear issues are clearly not Abbott's main academic focus. He has made claims that are obviously unreasonable, and when such claims are not backed by citations, I see no reason to give them as much weight as the information I've seen in technical presentations by, say, Jesse Jenkins, expert in energy systems, or Dr. Brian Sheron, former Director of the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, or MSR engineers such as Kirk Sorensen or Ian Scott, or even this discussion of how radioactivity decreases over time in HLW. While fair and reliable sources are hard to find, I've been around the block enough times to know roughly what's what.

    Anyway, I'll certainly share what I've been able to find from the scientific literature on nuclear issues. Chiefly:

    On Radiation Risk

    The main disease caused by radiation is non-CLL leukemia (in some cases there are other risks, e.g. radioactive iodine can cause thyroid cancer.) Here is a "meta-analysis of leukemia risk from protracted exposure to low-dose gamma radiation". It concluded, based on 23 other studies, that the excess relative risk (ERR) of non-CLL leukemia from 100 mGy of radiation is roughly 19% (it is unclear to me if 100 mGy is different from 100 mSv). Based on a typical non-CLL leukemia rate of 10 cases per 100,000 people per year, ERR=0.19 would increase this by roughly 1.9 cases per year (1 in 53,000 people). The risk varies as a function of time since exposure, but this particular study seemed to completely ignore the issue. If one assumes ERR=0.19 every year for 25 years after exposure, the chance of cancer from exposure to 100 mGy would be about 0.05%. "25 years" is a guess on my part, so if you can find any study that quantifies the risk more clearly as a "1-in-X chance" or as a loss of DALYs, I'd love to see it! For reference, the natural environment gives an average radiation dose around 2.4 mSv per year (Hendry et al 2009 citing UNSCEAR), though I've heard urban environments tend to block some of this. The Canadian NSC limit for radiation workers is 100 mSv over 5 years.

    Waddington et al 2017 concluded that "relocation was unjustified for the 160,000 people relocated after Fukushima," since the radiation dose most residents would have received (after returning from a brief evacuation period) was quite small and the loss of life expectancy was 3 months. The paper notes that

    No radiation deaths occurred during or following the accident, however there were a number of deaths directly attributed to the relocation and subsequent relocation of the Fukushima population. Hasegawa et al. (2015) summarise that “After the accident, mortality among relocated elderly people needing nursing care increased by about three times in the first 3 months after relocation and remained about 1·5 times higher than before the accident.”

    It also says "Relocation was unjustified for 75% of the 335,000 people relocated after Chernobyl."

    It is considered unlikely that cases of thyroid cancer in children have increased around Fukushima due to radiation (Suzuki 2016) as most I-131 disappears within weeks of an accident.

    See also the EPA's Q&A for Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies.

    Various sources mention that uncertainties remain regarding the risk of low doses of radiation. UNSCLEAR recommends, for example, that

    • Increases in the incidence of health effects cannot be attributed reliably to chronic exposure to radiation at levels that are typical of the global average background levels of radiation.
    • The Scientific Committee does not recommend multiplying very low doses by large numbers of individuals to estimate numbers of radiation-induced health effects within a population exposed to incremental doses at levels equivalent to or lower than natural background levels.
    • Increases in the incidence of hereditary effects among the human population cannot be attributed to radiation exposure.

    I would submit that the reason for this uncertainty, despite much study, is that the effects are just too small to measure precisely.

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  6. Barry:

    Your primary objeciton to Abbott  and here 2011 is your claim that hafnium is not used in civilian reactors.

    Apparently Westinghouse did not get the memo.  Westinghouse was one of the largest manufactures of nuclear plants in the world and all of their control rods contain Hafnium.

    This is conclusive proof that your claim hafium is not used in civiian reactors is false.  Since that was your primary complaint about Abbott you have no ground for any complaint.

    That fact that Abbott 2012 is so similar to Abbott 2011 indicates that the editors of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists invited Abbott's paper because they felt it was important.  Your complaints about Abbott are not supported.

    Reviewing your previous posts I see that you have provided no citations at all to support your claims, not even industry propaganda.  Apparently you  want to throw away the published literature and argue based on what you think instead.   

    Since I have shown that you are not a reliable source of information about reactors that seems to me to be a bad idea.  In addition, it is in contradiction to the comments policy here.

    You must provide links to confirmed data to support your wild cliams.

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  7. Barry,

    Your claim "The paractce is much higher and a single reactor is the exception. Typically 6 reactors are nowerdays placed in a facility for infrastructure savings." is false.  According to this list only a handful of facilities world wide have 6 reactors at a single location.  In the USA the most is 3. 

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  8. DPeppigrass,

    It looks like your post will not be deleted by the moderator even though it has no citations to peer reviewed studies to support your wild claims. You have two posts. I will address the second one first. They are long posts with many factual errors so my response is necessarily long.

    In your second post you start with several links to long youtube videos of nuclear industry propaganda. I do not have time to waste watching them. Please cite peer reviewed written sources so they can be checked.

    You then have a long screed on the topic of radiation safety. I note that I have extensive training and experience using radioactivity while you have claimed no experience or training beyond your reading on the internet. In general, I do not debate radiation safety with nuclear supporters because they do not care about reactor safety or how many people they kill. It is thus a waste of my time to discuss safety.

    However, for other readers I have this reference from the French Nuclear Regulatory Commission (the IRSN) .

    “At the present stage of development, IRSN does not have all the necessary data to determine whether the systems under review [generation IV reactors] are likely to offer a significantly improved level of safety compared with Generation III reactors”.

    The claims you parrot about “safe” generation IV reactors are simply propaganda from the nuclear industry.

    According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Nuclear Industry claims their new designs are safer so that they can reduce safety factors to make more money. There is no factual basis for the claim the reactors are really safer. This is generation IV of nuclear reactors because the first 3 generations were not safe as advertised and were too expensive.

    In your first post  you start out calling “citation needed” for Abbotts claim that “nuclear reactors must be placed "away from dense population zones, natural disaster zones, and near to a massive body of coolant water" It takes a lot of brass to call for a peer reviewed paper to provide citations when your post contains none. Let us examine these issues.

    It is illegal to locate nuclear reactors in cities. In light of the safety issues cited above it is unlikely that rule will change in the foreseeable future. Abbott is correct, no citation needed.

    You are suggesting that it is OK to locate nuclear reactors on top of earthquake faults, in flood zones and in locations that are likely to be inundated by sea level rise. I do not think anyone will agree with you. Your claim strongly supports my claim above that nuclear supporters do not care about the safety of the reactors they build. Abbott is correct, no citation needed.

    You claim “ the third one in particular does not really apply to Molten Salt Reactors which can rely on air cooling or on relatively modest amounts of cooling water.”

    Reading your link and your discussion it appears that you have confused the amount of water needed in an emergency to shut down the reactor and the amount of water that is needed every day for normal operation. The nuclear designers claim without evidence that their designs can do an emergency shutdown with little water or air cooling. Your calculations may indicate how much water that is. According to you, for normal operations the reactors must remove approximately 1.1 GWth at all times. That can only be done with massive amounts of water. Air cooling is too expensive and inefficient for normal use. Your claim that massive bodies of water are not needed is false. This error demonstrates that you have no idea how a nuclear plant works. In spite of the fact you do not know how the plants work you lecture us what we should think. Abbott is correct, no citation needed.

    Abbott correctly describes the footprint of a nuclear plant to counter incorrect industry propaganda that nuclear plants only occupy a small area.

    You say “I'd love to hear anyone come up with a theory of how an MSR could produce a hazardous radioactive gas cloud (in all seriousness, e.g. I'm waiting for a chemist to speak up about what would happen if a supersonic jumbo jet mysteriously aims itself directly at the below-grade reactor, and then let's say it had a water-based cooling system that now pours uncontrollably onto the exposed salt.”

    Fortunately, I am a professional chemist. In the scenario you describe the water coming in contact with the extremely hot salt would instantly cause a steam explosion that would destroy the facility. In the explosion a lot of hydrogen gas would be generated from the highly reducing salt solution. This would cause a hydrogen explosion. Massive amounts of fallout would be released into the environment. Since the industry does not want to build an expensive containment building the explosion would be uncontained. This supports my claim of lack of care about safety.

    Abbott describes how many reactors would need to be built to illustrate the size of the problem. Since only a handful of reactors are currently built each year the rate of building would have to increase by a factor of about 100.

    You say “the usual debate over nuclear power is not whether we should build 15,000,000 MW of nuclear capacity, but whether we should build any whatsoever”. Abbott discusses building only 1500 reactors at the end of his paper.

    If less than 1500 reactors were built than almost all power would have to come from wind and solar. In a renewable world the most valuable energy is peak power on windless nights. Baseload is not valuable at all. It would be much more cost effective to build out more renewable or storage.  We would not need to worry about radiation safety, nuclear waste or weapons proliferation.

    You say “Um, you mean heat? Why wouldn't you just call it heat?” No, Abbott means entropy. You obviously did not take college chemistry or physics. Heat and energy are similar. Entropy is complicated but for this discussion it is similar to randomness. As heat increases the drive to increase randomness increases. This causes materials to corrode, crack and fail much faster. The problem is especially bad for MSR’s because the salt is also especially corrosive. Alloys that can withstand the heat and corrosion of MSR”s, for example in the valves that control the salt solution, have not been found. They may not exist. The reactors you favor cannot be built until after the alloys for the valves are discovered. This is another example of something you are lecturing us about that you do not understand at all.

    You say” My God, is that a citation? Great, now I have to go look at it to see if it has merit. I need to go to sleep momentarily.” Abbott provides citations for all his claims. If I were moderator I would warn or ban you for making game of citations. Where did you get your PhD in reactor design that you are qualified to determine if the citation has merit??? Since you have proven that you do not understand how reactors work, how will you determine if the citation has merit?

    If an airplane crashes it does not cause hundreds of thousands of people to be removed from their homes and businesses. In any case, for only two faults the Boeing 300 airliner was grounded until they fix the problem. If that standard was applied to reactors all the reactors in the world would be shut.

    You say “anyone who wants to make nuclear reactors cheaper must necessarily also make them less complex; good Gen IV designs are simpler than Gen III.” For myself, I would prefer that reactors were made safer and not cheaper. If your priority is profits for the nuclear industry that is your choice.

    Nuclear is uneconomic. The total costs for a new wind or solar plant including the mortgage is less than the costs of operation and maintenance without a mortgage of a nuclear plant. Industry claims of greater inherent safety are not supported by data.  You rely entirely on industry propaganda to support your argument.

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  9. Moderator,

    You are staing that unsuported statements will be struck.

    I have not disputed Abbotts numbers, only their interpretation,

    if you wish to stick with those so be it 

    1/ Abbott has used a buffer zone in his calculation and a single occupancy to calculate his area.  All I have pointed out is that nuclear sites nowerdays have multiple occupancy Other peole have used Abbotts density to erroneous conclusions. Indeed M sweet states multiple occupancy is used ' but sticks with Abbotts density figures Ah the reference!  other commentators are excempt

    " no citation needed."  - M Sweet

    Neverthless here is the one that Abbott cites as his source, stating clearly that most of the area taken by abbott is due to a buffer zone and that the area requirement can be reduced to a fraction using multiple occupancy which is the norm.  There is no use citing US because on multiple occupancy as they have only built one facilty (NEF in New Mexico) since the 3 mile island incedent. (

    LINK

    (ref 6 of Abbott)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Enrichment_Facility

    2/ Abbott quotes materials that are used in nuclear reactors . I have pointed out that a number of these are not essential materials . Abbotts reply to me was that they were examples of materials used in a reactor. 

    M Sweet has helpfully provided a note on this matter in which control rods can be made ith halfnium as a very minor constiuent and completly without halfnium. Your requst to provide a reference for somthing not to used is rather difficlt. It is like I cannot prove the absence of Big Fot nor the Loch Ness monster. What I can state is that Halfnium is used as a neutron absorber, which Boron is the normal civilian material for this use and as MS reference shows civilian control rods contain boron.  As I stated before

    "as for hafnium in civilian reactors I stand by it that it is currently not used to any significant extent"  M Sweet has atated that some halfnium is used but in no way does this assetrion that I an wrong hold water.

    "Apparently Westinghouse did not get the memo. Westinghouse was one of the largest manufactures of nuclear plants in the world and all of their control rods contain Hafnium."   no Michael they can also make them without halfnium so halfniun is not essential control rods are perfectly functional without halnium

    LINK

    "Westinghouse began developing BWR control rods in the mid-1960s. The first control rod, CR 70, was in operation in a BWR plant in 1970. After 45 years, many original rods are still in operation. A vast majority of hafnium-tipped rods (CR 82), the first to be used in the United States in 1983, are still in operation. The CR 82M-1 design was introduced in 1995. The main feature of the CR 82M-1 rod is the change of structural material to 316L stainless steel with high resistance to SCC and a very low-cobalt content. Westinghouse has delivered more than 6,700 BWR control rods worldwide. Out of these, more than 2,300 are the CR 82M-1 design. Westinghouse BWR control rods are licensed in the United

    Mr Sweet you citation does not support your assertion that "Westinghouse was one of the largest manufactures of nuclear plants in the world and all of their control rods contain Hafnium."  only about a third of them.

    Moderator you critcise people for not providing references, what do you do when these references are mis quoted?

    It is only an exmple of Gish Gallop

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Moderation complaints noted and snipped.

    Links breaking page formatting were shortened and activated.

  10. Jut thought that I would include some real references, 

    Here we have the plans for a 2 reactor power station and the area can be scales from the map, or by comparisom with the British OS maps (sheet 114) 

    https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/ about 4 km^2 now Abbotts figure was 20 km^2  per reactor. This real case is at a tenth of that.

    If you notice the village Cemaes goes right up to the boundrary

    LINK

    LINK

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Links breaking page formatting shortened and activated.

  11. links to power station documents do not work,

    try this link then  navigate,   into 2site preparation and clearances", then "factsheet" and to "planning application drawings"

    https://www.horizonnuclearpower.com/our-sites/wylfa-newydd/documents

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  12. Michael 

    the 10 nuclear sites ( Fangjiashan and Qinshan are regarded as the same site) in China have a total of 37 reactors which is an average of 3.7 per site. yet there are at least 12 more in construction on these sites which brings the occupancy to 4.9. 

    6 sites are planned to have 6 or more reactors.

    This is a country that is building nuclear power plants unlike the USA where currently site occupancy is irrelevant because they are not building any.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_China

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  13. I would like to see financing costs. Every power/utility engineer I know tells me that the major roadblock to building nukes in western countries is reluctance of banks and utilities to commit to financing the investment.

    And I'd also like to see costs absent Price Anderson guarantees as in the USA.

    sidd

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  14. Barry,

    You are not familiar with scientific discussion.  In  a scientific discussion I say "this paper supports my position".  Then you say "this paper supports my position".  Then I provide more papers to support my position and show why it is more accurate.  You provide papers to support your position.  Others read the papers and decide who they think has the best argument.

    In this discussion I have provided a paper that supports my position, Abbott 2012.  You say you do not like that paper and we should all agree with you.  You have provided no reason why we should all agree with you. 

    Abbott was published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists by invitation.  You must provide data to contradict Abbott and not just loudly state your unsupported opinion.  The argument you and DPeppigrass make that you do not like Abbott without providing support for an alternative is a waste of everyones time.  Abbott 2011 was published 8 years ago.  You cannot even find an industry white paper that addresses his claims.  The absence of a rebuttal indicates that the Nuclear industry agrees with Abbotts assessment.

    It does not matter that you do not like Abbotts claims about hafnium.  Abbott claimed that rare metals used in nuclear plants do not exist in enough supply to build out nuclear plants.  You have not shown that enough beryllium, vanadium, zirconium or uranium exist to build out the plants you support. 

    You originally claimed "halfnium as a control (which is limited to military reactors) civilian reactors use boron and some gadolinium which are far more abundant than halnium".  I have provided two examples of hafnium use in civilian reactors so you have shifted the goalposts. We do not know how much hafnium is used in civilian reactors because you have provided no references to show its use is limited.

    If you wish to argue that enough enough metals exist for reactors you must provide a peer reviewed report that details all the metals used in nuclear plants and shows they exist.  That was done for renewables by Jacobson 2011 after nuclear supporters complained that renewables used too much steel in their construction.  We know all materials exist for renewables. Provide a report that all materials exist for nuclear.

    You are also confused about citations.  Scientific papers are written for peope who have done their homework and understand the subject that is being discussed.  Material that is accepted by everyone that is informed is not required to be cited.  For example, Abbott is not required to prove the Earth is round or that all material is made of atoms. 

    You and DPeppigrass are asking Abbott to cite the obvious.  Everyone informed knows that it is unsafe to build reactors in Tokyo harbor, that it is unsafe to build reactors on the San Andreas fault in California and that reactors require massive amounts of water for cooling (especially if you build 6 in one location).  It is not necessary to cite a reference.  If you really want to claim that you think one of these obvious factsneeds support you can ask for references (your complaint above does not specify which of these obvious facts you do not know).  If others agree with you it might help your argument.  My position is that eveyone who has done their homework knows these facts. 

    According to Wikipedia, the village of Cemaes in Wales has a population of 1,357.  Where I live that is considered unpopulated and suitable for a nuclear reactor.  I note that they only planned to build 2 reactors and not the 6 you claim is normal.  In any case, the project has been cancelled and the $2 billion they spent was wastedThe fact that the project has been cancelled shows that nuclear is on the way out and not a suitable source of power for the future.  The money should have been used to increase the size of their wind farm.  If they had spent the money on wind it would be generating power now.

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  15. This Guardian newspaper article claims extensve cover ups of radiation sickness by the Soviet Government in the Chernobyl accident.  

    0 0
  16. sweet

    let us look at your assumption, that a published piece of literature is correct.

    Abbott is claiming his paper applies to the world

    I have already provided data that his power station footprint of 20.5 km^2 is incorrect and that a figure less than a tenth of this is acceptable in Western democracies

    ie Wylfa newydd has an exclusion zone of less than 4 km^2 with currnt plans for 2 reactors making the footprint less than 2km^2.

    From this it can be seen that your initial premise that a piece of literature is correct is has got misleading.

    The paper in my opinion has obscured how the numbers were obtained, in burying it amoungst the references.

    You can ask yourself the question did Abbott know about this discrepany . If he did why did he not correct it the second time round? was he never told? Did he not look up the footprint of other power stations? It is very easy just go to google maps. Or if you want grid lines go onto Bing maps as they show grid lines.

    It is in my opinion difficult to envisage how this number of 20km^2 has got any creedence, yot you have used it in several argunents against nuclear power. To anyone who is an expert to use this number for sites outside the US to me is astonishing, especially sonce in the US multple occupancy is possible.

    One cannot take a paper even peer reviewed at face value.

    this was summed up by arguably the greatest American scientist Feyman who never took anything on trust but checked it out for himself. 

    As a further aside Enrico Fermi in the 1930s wrote a paper on the origin of the Doppler shift. His formula agreed with Doppler equation and so it was taken as read. Nevertherless in the spectroscopic community in the 1970s it was apparent that the formula given by Fermi was an approximation. the correct formula was only publish by someone from Stratchclyde only some ten years ago.

    The change is subtule and does not apply to macroscopic emittors, but for particles of atomic mass measurable differnces from the Fermi equation can be observed.

    Th lesson in this is that even the Great sometimes let errors go through.;

    And as for me providing you with the Fermi paper and the Strathclyde paper, life's too short to pander to someone who is willing to take on trust whatever that is written and then draw completly the wrong conclusions from it.

    One can therefore conclude that reliance on a paper already shown to erroneous cannot be assumed to be correct in any other parts. that is not to say that there are other errors

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Irrelevant. Sweet makes no such claim (nor frankly does Abbott). Peer-reviewed papers are challenged all the time by other peer-reviewed papers. This is normal course of science.

  17. Barry: 

    From Abbott 2012:

    "each nuclear power plant draws upon a total land area of as much as 20.5 square kilometers."  My emphasis

    Abbott is correct.

    Your link to Jacobson 2009 supports Abbott's claim:  

    "In the case of nuclear power, a buffer zone around each plant is needed for safety. In the US, nuclear power plant areas are divided into an owner-controlled buffer region, an area restricted to some plant employees and monitored visitors, and a vital area with further restrictions. The owner-controlled buffer regions are
    generally left as open space to minimize security risks. The land required for nuclear power also includes that for uranium mining and disposal of nuclear waste.  Estimates of the lands required for uranium mining and nuclear facility with a buffer zone are 0.06 ha yr GWh−1 and 0.26 ha yr GWh−1, respectively, and that for
    waste for a single sample facility is about 0.08 km.  For the average plant worldwide, this translates into a total land requirement per nuclear facility plus mining and storage of about 20.5 km2. The footprint on the ground (e.g., excluding the buffer zone only) is about 4.9–7.9 km2"

    I am astonished that your only peer reviewed citation contradicts your claims.  Your claim that the calculation is hidden in the references directly contradicts the scientific method which Abbott follows.  You need to  understand the scientific method before you make comments.

    Even if there was a problem with Abbott's area claim, you cannot expect to be able to say you do not like Abbott's entire paper and you want to substitute your personal opinion, without any data,  for all the facts. 

    You have cited no papers that support the use of Nuclear power in the future.  I have cited at least 6 papers that support phasing out nuclear in the future.

    If you cannot find peer reviewed papers in the future I will stop treating your posts as serious.  To date you have not presented any argument beyond you think your opinion should be accepted by everyone, apparently because you are smarter than everyone else on the planet.  I am surprised you have not been warned by the moderator since you have provided no new information to the discussion.

    I am astonished that you continue to refer to the cancelled nuclear plant in Wales.  It demonstrates prefectly why nuclear is being abandoned: nuclear is not economic.

    It is very difficult to engage with nuclear supporters because they have such a poor knowledge of the background, they insist that they know everything and they do not accept peer reviewed data.  They insist that youtube videos, their personal opinion and ignorant blog posts are better than peer reviewed papers. 

    The opening posts on this thread are a perfect example of this type of behaviour.  Nuclear supporters have used their personal opinion to argue against Abbott 2012 and have provided not a single reference to anything beyond industry propaganda to support nuclear.

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  18. Sweet 

    You say that a 

    "From Abbott 2012:
    "each nuclear power plant draws upon a total land area of as much as 20.5 square kilometers." My emphasis
    Abbott is correct."

    No it is utter rubbish

    Wylfa Newydd footprint is under4 km^2 for 2 reactors!

    references have been posted earlier MODERATOR Mr sweet is now denying  actual source material,.

     

     

    barry at 04:35 AM on 16 June, 2019

    barry at 09:03 AM on 16 June, 2019

     

     

     

    Go and look at the UK documents the footprint of Wylfa newydd is less than 2 km^2. 

    Now Sweet, this is not a paper it is actual original source material.

    you clearly have not bothered to open it

    Wylfa newydd is bounded by the grid squares SH 3594, SH 3593, SH3493 and SH3693, which makes the footprint less than 4 km^2

    have a look at this one

    https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/plans-clear-300-acre-site-14019871

    N power footprint

     

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Links to images found elsewhere only work when another site is hosting the image with a fixed URL.  Simply pasting the image into a comment will not work (which is why your image does not show).

    Activated URL.

  19. Here is link to a map of Hinkley point C a 2 reactor site, grid lines are present on the map and we can see a site of 2km^2 this is 1/20 the are that you are claiming mr Sweet

    https://www.tunneltalk.com/images/Hinckley-Nuclear-Point/Hinckley-Point-design.jpgmap of nuclear power plant under construction in UK

    1 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Sweet is pointing out that Abbott says "as much as" which establishes a maximum in my understanding of English. Examples of smaller sites do not refute Abbott.

    [DB] Please limit image widths to 450.

  20. i created this article largely to prevent nuclear energy discussions from derailing other threads. It is a highly unusual experiment for Sks and I rather hoped it might become a useful resource where references to authorative published papers might be collected. It is most certainly not a place for expressions of opinion without supporting evidence, and frankly not a place for strawman rhetoric ("peer-reviewed must be correct"). Discussions like this must find another venue.

    Michael Sweet @14 provides an excellent example of how a scientific discussion is conducted. Please follow that guideline. The thread cannot be moderated 24/7.

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  21. PS] Sweet is pointing out that Abbott says "as much as" which establishes a maximum in my understanding of English. Examples of smaller sites do not refute Abbott.

     

    let us see what Jacobson says "for the average plant world wide this translates to a total land requirement oper nuclear facility plus mining and storage of about 20.5 km^2"   Clearly those people who approved Hinkley point did not hear of this and built one of 2 km^2 and used a planning map, which is actually very much peer reviewed.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] I can find no evidence that your Hinkey plant includes mining and waste storage. In the interests of clarity for all commentators, the exact quote from Jacobson 2009 is:

    "The land required for nuclear power also includes that for uranium mining and disposal of nuclear waste. Estimates of the lands required for uranium mining and nuclear facility with a buffer zone are 0.06 ha yr GWh−1 and 0.26 ha yr GWh−1, respectively, and that for waste for a single sample facility is about 0.08 km2. For the average plant worldwide, this translates into a total land requirement per nuclear facility plus mining and storage of about 20.5 km2. The footprint on the ground (e.g., excluding the buffer zone only) is about 4.9–7.9 km2."

  22. PS] Sweet is pointing out that Abbott says "as much as" which establishes a maximum in my understanding of English. Examples of smaller sites do not refute Abbott.
    [DB] Please limit image width,

     

    well actually no in here Sweet claims that reactors cannot occupy a small area and ie 20 km^2 

     

    now as we can see hinkley is 1/20 th of that abbott and sweet are misleading.

     

    work you lecture us what we should think. Abbott is correct, no citation needed.
    "Abbott correctly describes the footprint of a nuclear plant to counter incorrect industry propaganda that nuclear plants only occupy a small area."  sweet

     

    anything up to 20 km^2 well that could be anything even a small area.

     

     

    Very good, how can any size up to 20 km^2 

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  23. moderator, your units for appear not to make sense

     

    are you able to convert and show how to convert your figure of 0.08 ha yr Gw h^-1

     

    yr h-1 is a trivial number the number of yearsper hour ie 1/8760 

    then when we put this into the unit we are left with 0.08/8760 ha Gwatt.

     

    ha Gwatt does not mahe sese.

     

    I would be pleased if you could solve this riddle, putting it as ha per GW h

    comes out with a ridiculous answer 500 km^2

     

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] As indicated, I am cutting and pasting the numbers directly from Jacobson to save people looking it up and to give the complete picture about what Jacobson is stating. The units are ha yr/GWh.  Ie the consumption of land per year for each GWh of electricity produced. Jacobson is also simply using numbers from other studies.

  24. Barry:

    So nothing peer reviewed to support nuclear power.  Your inability to find anything peer reviewed to support your claims tells me a lot.

    My handle is Michael Sweet.  It is disrespectful to use something different.

    You have made approximately 13 posts on the subject of reactor station area.  Your claims hinge on your interpretation of a single line of Abbott 2012.  We differ in our reading of Abbott.

    Frankly, I have never before seen anyone argue that nuclear power plants occupy too much land.  Even Jacobson, who does not like nuclear, only counts land area as 3% of his rating system.  Examining figure 6 of Jacobson 2009 

    jacobson graph 

    I see that area is only an issue for biogenic ethanol.  Nuclear area is small.  If this is the most important issue you can find I think we can all reach a conclusion.

    You have made your point, I have made mine.  Everyone reading will be able to judge our arguments.  It is long past time to move on  to new issues.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Standing back for a moment. Barry, I believe you are trying to dispute the validity of Abbott's objections. Abbott raises the land area issue (and especially the need for a particular type of land) using Jacobson's figure for area based on plant, buffer zone, mining and waste requirements. Abbott states a figure of as much as 20km2 per plant (ie a maximum of 20km2). Abbott is not disproved by showing some plants are smaller (especially if your examples fail to account for mining and waste area as well). Furthermore, as Michael Sweet has pointed out, the land area is a rather trivial issue in the context of Abbott. I would prefer to see more substantive issues addressed if there is to be a case made for nuclear energy.

  25. PS] As indicated, I am cutting and pasting the numbers directly from Jacobson to save people looking it up and to give the complete picture about what Jacobson is stating. The units are ha yr/GWh. Ie the consumption of land per year for each GWh of electricity produced. Jacobson is also simply using numbers from other studies.

     

    So Hinkley C is 3.2 GW (

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinkley_Point_C_nuclear_power_station

    a year is for production say 270 days at 24 hours = 6480 hours, 

    at 3.2 GW the station in one year produces 6480x3.2 = 20736 Gwh

    so in one year you /Abbott and Jacobson are saying that at 0.08 ha we get   0.08 x 20736 =1658.9 ha 

     and for say 40 years of operation we get 40 x 1658.9 = 66 000 hectares

    Is this your figure?

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Obviously not but it is not "my figure" but jacobson, I am only quoting. Since Jacobson comes up with sensible no.s, a better interpretation is needed. If you believe Jaconson's source to be wrong, then perhaps you can supply a better one for mining and waste area use?

  26. It demonstrates prefectly why nuclear is being abandoned: nuclear is not economic.

    we are not  talking about the economics sweet

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] in interests of productive discussion, please note that commentator's handle is Michael Sweet. And the economics of nuclear is absolutely up for discussion.

  27. If you want to talk economics talk to the French

     

    The low cost of French nuclear power generation is indicated by the national energy regulator (CRE) setting the price at which EdF’s electricity is sold to competing distributors. In 2014 the rate is €42/MWh, but CRE proposed an increase to €44 in 2015, €46 in 2016 and €48 in 2017 to allow EdF to recover costs of plant upgrades, which it put at €55 billion to extend all 58 reactor lifetimes by ten years. In November 2014 the government froze the price at €42 to mid-2015. This Arenh re-sale price has represented a long-term floor price for EdF’s power, and is nominally based on the cost of production. The industrial group Uniden said that the proposed 2015 wholesale price of €44/MWh would be €14 higher than Germany’s.

     

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/france.aspx

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Fixed link. Please learn how to do this yourself with the link editor in the comments editor.

  28. I gravlines

     

    I seem to be able to count six reactor buildings, mr Sweet how many do you count? some where in France

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Over the line. Note comments policy on No inflammatory line. You have pushed this hard enough.

  29. Barry:

    You posted "The industrial group Uniden said that the [France's] proposed 2015 wholesale price of €44/MWh would be €14 higher than Germany’s." my emphasis

    That I must agree with.  Higher prices for nuclear are not generally considered a positive  trait.  In the USA we prefer lower prices.

    As of April 2018 there were 449 reactors operating in the world with a total power rating of 394 GW source.  The same source lists all plants by country and location.  There are 7 locations with 6 or more reactors operating.  A total of 46 reactors.  There are 46 locations where a single reactor is operating.  You can hardly claim that 6 is normal.  Both Hinkley and the cancelled Wales reactor stations only had 2 reactors.  Your photo must be at Gravelines, the only location in France with 6 reactors.

    It is my understanding that locations with only one reactor lose money even faster than locations with multiple reactors.  The 46 locations with only one reactor are probably all on the chopping block.  

    Just for fun I worked out how much cooing water 6 1000 MW reactors need.  (If this was your question about Abbott it is answered).  The World Nuclear Organization says a 1600MWe nuclear plant in the UK uses 90 m3/sec.  (In warmer locations more water is needed).  To generate 6000 MWe you would need 340 m3 per second.  The average flow of the Thames river is only about 97 m3/sec so you could not even cool one 1600 MWe reactor during the dry season from the Thames.  France had to shut down at least 4 reactors last summer and France, Spain and Germany in 2003 , and Illinois and Michigan 2006, and France 2009, and Browns Ferry USA in 2011 because high water temperatures and drought meant enough cooling was not available.  So much for "on demand power".

    With six colocated plants only ocean front and a few very large lake locations are practical.  Low lying areas like Florida, Louisiana, Bangladesh and the Nile delta are threatened by sea level rise and unsuitable.  Please describe where you woud find sufficient locations for 4,000 plants in the USA that are not near a city, are on beach front and not threatened by sea level rise.  The enormous thermal pollution would require that the plants were not too close together or the 9,000 GWth of heat from one location would prevent cooling at the nearby plants.

    Renewable wind and solar are cheaper than new build gas and coal in 2/3 of the world today.  Even with no subsidy or carbon tax.  Joe Rohm does not even bother to mention nuclear because it is so expensive.

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  30. With discussions touching economics, I have added links to the two studies of LCOE that I know of which include nuclear to the article.

    0 0
  31. Energy in Germany is sourced predominantly by fossil fuels, followed by nuclear power, biomass (wood and biofuels), wind, hydro and solar.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Germany 

    Mr Sweet sre you aking us to depend on Brown Coal?

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  32. Barry,

    The Wikipedia article you linked has the warning

    "This article's factual accuracy is disputed. (June 2016)
    This article needs to be updated. (October 2013)"

    This Reuters report from January 2019 shows that in 2018 Renewable energy generated over 40% of electrical power in Germany.  Coal generated 38%.  Nuclear was obviously very low.

    You are apparently arguing that renewables cannot generate enough power so we are stuck with nuclear.  This is a completely false argment.  Even if renewables could not generate enough energy that does not mean that nuclear can.

    According to the Lazard report added to the OP, renewable energy has only been the cheapest option for a couple of years.  Utility companies did not inistall renewable to replace fossil fuels becasue it cost too much.

    The situation is completely different today.  Renewable energy is the cheapest option.  Experience has shown that up to 80% renewable energy can be added to existing grids using existing gas peaker plants for storage and production on windless nights.  Most currenty building plants are renewable wind and solar.  In the future virtually all new build will be renewable since it is cheapest.

    The question is: how long will it take for renewable energy plants to replace existing fossil and nuclear plants?  Existing gas peaker plants will likely be kept as storage for windless nights.

    According to the Lazard report linked above, new build renewable energy includig the mortgage is currently cheaper than about half of existing nuclear that has no mortgage.  (Nuclear with a mortgage is triple the cost of renewable energy).  Probably all the single reactors i the USA are not economic.  Future builds of 

    0 0
  33. Skeptical Science asks that you review the comments policy. Thank you.

     

    "You are apparently arguing that renewables cannot generate enough power so we are stuck with nuclear. This is a completely false argment. Even if renewables could not generate enough energy that does not mean that nuclear can."

     

    NO I AM NOT, I AM LIMITING MY DISCUSSION ENTIRELY ON THE ABOTT PAPERS 

    THE ABBOTT PAPERS ONLY MENTION RENEWABLE?SOLAR IN PASSING, SIMILARLy WITH ECONOMICS/COSTS THEY ARE ONLY IN PASSING.

     

    If you stuck to the Abbott and did not spread about spurious arguments we could proceed.

     

    NOW TO THE POINT did you see the Graveslines photo

    1/ six reactors

    2/ no buffer zone

     

    Both of which those who recklessly quote Abbott completly ignore do not consider.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [DB]  All-caps usage and inflammatory tone snipped.  If you wish to re-post it without the all-caps, please do so.  

    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.


  34.  

    It seems that ABBOT 1 and ABBOTT 2 are the topic and that economics is elsewere

     

    "Abbott 2011 and Abbott 2012 doesn’t think so but perhaps there are better analyses? For discussions of economics, levelized cost estimates of various electricity technologies can be found here and here".

     

    I also seem to have had a photo of Graveslines deleted, could anyone give reason

     

    Moderator, could you be specific?

    barry at 08:32 AM on 19 June, 2019

    0 0
    Moderator Response:
    [PS] Over the line. Note comments policy on No inflammatory line. You have pushed this hard enough.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Your comment was deleted because of your inflammatory discussion style. Michael Sweet identified your photo as Gravelines before it was deleted and provided detail on typical no. of reactors which you did not appear to have read. You attacked a strawman. Other comments in inflammatory style have also been deleted.

    This topic is about whether nuclear energy can be answer to global warming. Economic and technical aspects are welcome. Particularly welcome would be a peer-reviewed response to Abbott from the industry but apparently you are also unable to find one.

    If you are going to continue posting here, then I suggest a change of tone and more emphasis on substance and published reviews. Your style so far does the nuclear argument no favour

  35. I would offer this paper as another source for land source usage by nuclear plants.

     

    Summary point:

    "Nuclear energy has the lowest land requirements, if we do not consider the land required for long-term waste disposal. The inclusion of this use of land would seriously increase the land requirements, because a small area of land is needed, but for many thousands of years. For example, if 0.1 km/TWh is required for waste disposal, multiplied by 30 000 years, applied to 30 years of generation, the factor would increase from 0.5 km/TWh to 100 km/TWh)."

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  36. in no way is this peer-reviewed, but here at least is one attempt to answer Abbott.

    0 0
  37. "You are apparently arguing that renewables cannot generate enough power so we are stuck with nuclear. This is a completely false argment. Even if renewables could not generate enough energy that does not mean that nuclear can."

    No I am not, please show your evidence for such an inflammatory and scurrulious remark or withdraw it.

    thank you

    0 0
  38. his topic is about whether nuclear energy can be answer to global warming. Economic and technical aspects are welcome. Particularly welcome would be a peer-reviewed response to Abbott from the industry but apparently you are also unable to find one.

    Ah but original source material is being found and we did find that Abbotts area is not traceable.

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  39. barry at 10:27 AM on 14 June, 2019
    Michael,
    Abbott is not a definitive paper, it is an engieering "solution".
    his 20.5 km^2 number as the requirement of a single reactor is false. It is based 70 % of the area being a buffer Zone, It also is based on only one reactor being placed in this site,
    The paractce is much higher and a single reactor is the exception. Typically 6 reactors are nowerdays placed in a facility for infrastructure savings. He also does not take into account hat this buffer Zone is only applied in the USA not in the rest of the world.
    Please could you be more circumspect when quoting Abbott
    Work it out yourself
    0 0
    Moderator Response:
    [PS] We are desparately wanting an definiitive paper. Abbott is best we have unless you can provide something else. You are also making statements without providing sources to back them. Any further posts without supporting publications will be deleted.
    [JH] Argumentative statement struck.

     

    Moderator could you please tell me where in this statment have I not been justified?

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Moderation complaints are always offtopic. However, I ampleased to see a better approach to stating your case.

  40. My stament was and is

    "Typically 6 reactors are nowerdays placed in a facility for infrastructure savings"

    Here is a list of sites with 6 operational reactors and with plans or other reactors in construction to make 6 or more reactor.

    however Mr Sweet appears to dispute the statement.

    Can anyone tell me with the following list in which way is my statement incorrect?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_reactors

    1/ Pickering 6 operational

    2/ Bunce 8 operational

    3/ Changgian 2 operational + 4 more planned

    4/ Frangchernggang 2 operational 2 under construction 2 more planned

    5/ Fuqing 4 operational 2 more planned

    6/ Haiyang 2 op 6 more planned

    7/ Hongyanhe 2 op 6 more planned

    8/ Ningdel 4 op 2 more planned

    9/ Quinshan 7 reactors

    10/ Tianwen 4 oper, 2 under construt, 2 more planned

    11/ yangjiang 5 operational 1 uner construction

    12/ Gravelines 6 operational

    13/ Paks 4 operational +2 planned

    14/ Kaiga 4 operational + 2 planned

    15/ Kudankulan 2 operational +2 under construction + 8 more planned

    16/ Rajastan 6 operational + 2 more planned

    17/ Kashiwazah 7 on shut down

    18/ Thyspunt 2 operational + 4 more planned

    19/ Beloyarsk 2 shut down +2 operational + 2 planned

    20/ Hanbit 6 operational

    21/ Hanul 6 operational

    22/ Shin kori 3 operational + 3 under construction

    23/ Zaporizhia 6 operational

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  41. Hi:  New member here.  I have been reading comments and articles on various sections of Skeptical Scientist, and I feel as if I have hit the mother lode of good information on all aspects of climate change.

    Regarding "is nuclear the answer," I have some experience and expertise, having served for 25 years on the technical staff of the USNRC, with specialties in engineering analysis, risk assessment and emegency response.  I would offer the following thoughts:

    1. The current world wide fleet of nuclear plants is safe, but not safe enough to meet the requirements of the climate crisis.  Experience of the past decades indicates a core melt frequency of 1 in 10,000 reactor-years if the reactor is operated by a company with a good safety culture and regulated by a competent and assertive regulatory body.  Otherwise, the core damage frequency is higher.  That is not good enough in a world envisioned to have thousands of reactors.  The good news is that there is a new generation of reactors under development with more inherently safe characteristics.  One of these, the NuScale small modular reactor is approaching regulatory design approval in the U.S.  Other designs based on non-light water reactor physics are in the development stage.

    2. The economics of the current designs are not good enough.  Recent experience with new construction shows that new plants built with current technology will carry a debt burden that will make them non-competitive.  Future plants will have to be built in factories rather than constructed on site.  Also future plants will have to be designed so as to justify a less burdensome approach to safety regulation; another reason for the importance of inherently safe design.

    3. Many if not most countries lack the technical and industrial infrastructure, and the skilled workforce required to build, maintain and operate a fleet of nuclear plants.  That is why nuclear has been confined to a relatively small group of countries.  Modular, factory-based construction can help here.

    My bottom line would be that nuclear is not ready to meet the climate challenge, but that it could be an important part of the answer in a decade or so if public and private commitment to development is sustained.

    [I have tried to follow the commenting rules.  I apologize if I still need improvement :-).]

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  42. Richieb1234 - thank you for your insights. Citing supporting literature is very much encouraged but an NRC perspective is welcome.

    0 0
  43. Richieb1234,

    It is very interesting to have someone who has reactor experience commenting.

    I saw a comment by someone at NuScale that in order to buiild their factory they needed to have a very large number of reactors on order (hundreds of billions of dollars worth), presumably from the government.

    Can you coment on how much it would cost to build a reactor factory?

    How will the factory be different from the manufacturing unit for the generation III reactors?

    Can you comment on Abbott's 13 reasons why nuclear is not practical?  I am especially interested in Abbott's claim that rare materials like hafnium and beryllium do not exist in sufficient quantity to build out a sigificant quantity (enough to supply more than 5% of all power) of reactors.

    Why has the nuclear industry chosen not to reply to Abbott?

    What fraction of all power (all power, not electricity only) do you think could be delivered by reactors by 2050?

    Thanks for your help.

    0 0
  44. Michael Sweet:

    Lots of great questions.  I will have to do some research to get the answers.  And I will have to read Abbott.  Here are some partial replies:

    "How will the factory be different from the manufacturing unit for the generation III reactors?"

    Gen III plants are not built in factories; they are constructed on the site, which is an inefficient, costly and untimely process that involves armies of skilled workers crawling around a hugh site.  Some countries, notably Japan, have perfected modular construction techniques to improve the costs and scheduling of construction.  The Japanese assemble large sections of the plant in factories on site and lift them into place.  I have seen one of these opertions at Shika, where they were using a 1,000 Ton crane!  The new modular reactors will be completely assembled in factories and delivered to the site on trucks or barges.  The site will require some construction to accommodate the reactor, and I believe the nuclear fuel will not be added until the reactor is installed (although theoretically the entire package could be assembled in the factory, given prior regulatory approval).

    "Can you coment on how much it would cost to build a reactor factory?"

    "I saw a comment by someone at NuScale that in order to buiild their factory they needed to have a very large number of reactors on order (hundreds of billions of dollars worth), presumably from the government."

    I am not familiar with the costs of the factories.  I will see what I can find out.

    "Can you comment on Abbott's 13 reasons why nuclear is not practical? I am especially interested in Abbott's claim that rare materials like hafnium and beryllium do not exist in sufficient quantity to build out a sigificant quantity (enough to supply more than 5% of all power) of reactors."

    "Why has the nuclear industry chosen not to reply to Abbott?"

    I will get a copy of Abbott and see what I can find out.  Regarding the industry's lack of response to Abbott, that is not surprising.  The operating companies are focused on sustaining the viability of the current fleet of reactors in an unfavorable economic environment, and the reactor vendors are focused on getting new construction orders.  Starting a dialogue on using nuclear power to address climate change would not be a priority for them right now. 

    "What fraction of all power (all power, not electricity only) do you think could be delivered by reactors by 2050?"

    Answering this question will require some research, which I am happy to do.  The concept that I have been reading about is the "carbon-negative" approach, which would use nuclear power plants in remote locations to make gaseous and liquid fuels by combining CO2 extracted from the air with Hydrogen from water.  The concept is to keep our current infrastructure for using fuels, but to supply the fuels by recycling CO2.  The plan also calls for seqestering CO2 in order to get some reduction in the current atmospheric concentrations.  Proponents of this approach believe it is the only way to stop global warming, because they believe that all other plans involve continuing indefinitly to take fossil fuels from the earth.  Carbon-negative technology is under development in the UK and in the US/Canada.  [I realize that most Skeptical Science commenters are probably already familiar with carbon-negative]

    Thanks for the positive feedback.  I will be back when I have some answers.

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  45. Richieb1234,

    Abbott 2011 and Abbott 2012 are available at these links (also linked in the OP).  The links are free.  They are very similar.  They are easy to read.  I am surprised the NRC is not aware of Abbott.  Don't they read the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists?

    Jacobson 2009, cited 1200 times, rates 12 different technologies.  Nuclear comes in about 9th for different reasons from Abbott.  These issues need to be addresssed.

    I remember nuclear proponents claiming that generation III plants would be built much faster because sections would be built in factories, similar to your description of Japan.  The plants in Georgia and South Carolina were supposed to demonstrate this success.  Obviously this did not happen.

    Why should I believe that generation IV will succeed when generation III failed?  The fact that nuclear is starting over with generation 4 suggests the technology is too complicated to work.

    Some of the plans I have read for future energy systems use electrofuels. Connolly 2016, Smart Energy Europe  uses methane (or methanol) as storage and fuel for some parts of the economy.  Nuclear power would have to be as cheap as renewable energy and overcome the issues Abbott and Jacobson describe.

    In a renewable energy system the most valuable energy is stored energy for windless nights. Most of the time there will be extra energy that needs to be stored for the slow nights.  Baseload is therefor low value.  Nuclear will be competing at the lowest level of the energy system most of the time.  Do they realize they will be bottom feeding and not top feeding?

    If nuclear can only generate 2-5% of all power (all power is about 5-6 times current electrical power) is it worth dealing with the problems of uranium supply, safety, waste and weapon expansion?  We need look no further than current Iran and North Korea problems to see these future issues.

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  46. Michael Sweet:

    I have read Abbott 2011 several times since my last post.  It is very well researched and well written.  It will take me a while to get up to speed.  I will add Jacobson to my reading list.

    "I am surprised the NRC is not aware of Abbott. Don't they read the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists?"

    The NRC is not concerned with the development of nuclear power, just the regulation of safety, security and emergency response.  Under US  law, the Department of Energy is concerned with nuclear development.

    "Why should I believe that generation IV will succeed when generation III failed? The fact that nuclear is starting over with generation 4 suggests the technology is too complicated to work."

    The new nuclear technologies are far simpler than the Gen III designs.  They use far fewer systems, have eliminated the most challenging accident sources and use natural cooling processes.  Here is an overview of the NuScale system: https://www.nuscalepower.com/technology/technology-overview.   Time will tell whether these innovations lead to commercial success.  That kind of question will be determined over time by free markets.  There are dozens of companies in several countries who are betting their own money and effort that GEN IV has a bright future.

    Getting back to Abbott 2011, here is my view of his first objection to nuclear power; namely that there are not enough sites in the world with large enough  water supplies.  The Palo Verde plant in the southwest US has 4,200 MWe of installed nuclear power on a desert site.  It uses municipal wastewater piped in from nearby cities for process water and emergency cooling.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palo_Verde_Nuclear_Generating_Station.  The Gen IV plants have low capacities (300 MWe or less) and can be installed in clusters that are sized to the available water sources.  Where there's a will, there's a way.

    This is great fun.  I will continue to study the many excellent issues that Abbott has raised, and I will take a look at Jacobson.

    Best regards.

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  47. Michael Sweet

    I am still studying Abbott 2011.  Here are my views on topics III: "The Embrittlement Problem" and IV: "The Entropy Problem."

    These two topics focus on materials issues with nuclear power, and conclude that these issues will limit average life of a plant to about 50 years. 

    The situation related to materials issues is not as alarming as it might seem.  The embrittlement problem relates only to older plants.  Changes to weld metallurgy have solved it for new plants.  Other cracking mechanisms are managed via non destructive examination during outages.  For metal-cooled reactors, there is no pressure in the vessel, and experience with sodium cooled reactors has been that degradation is not a problem.  Gas cooled reactors are at high temperature and pressure, but the cooling medium is Helium, a non-reactive gas. 

    Nevertheless, Abbott is right, the lifetime of a facility will be measured in decades [although probably longer than 50 years].  And then it becomes a decommissioning problem.  If each reactor is only 300 MWe, there would be 50,000 reactors worldwide.  That would mean between 2 and 3 reactors going into decommissioning every day!!  I don't see how that would be sustainable.  Maybe someone can correct my math or my logic.

    Best regards

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  48. Michael Sweet

    I continue to study Abbott 2011.  Here are my commens on his topic VI: "The accident rate problem."  In this section, Abbott uses historical accident data from the nuclear industry to conclude that there would be a full or partial core melt accident every month if nuclear plants were used to meet the entire worldwide energy demand.  I think the rate would be closer to one accident a year, but that is still unacceptable.  Thus, Gen III nuclear reactors should not be used to address the global warming issue.

    Gen IV reactors are qualitatively more safe.  They do not used electrically powered systems to respond to accidents, as Gen III plants do.  They do not even use passively powered systems, as Gen III+ plants do.  They respond to accidents with natural cooling.  No systems are used.  A well designed Gen IV plant requires little or no intervention. 

    For these reasons, the principal threat would be deliberate acts of sabotage.  It is difficult to estimate the likelihood of these because they are inherently non-random.  Security measures would/will be most important for these plants.  This includes design measures as well as a security force.

    Best regards

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  49. Michael Sweet

    Thank you for bringing my attention to the Abbott 2011 paper.  I have tried to comment on those ares where I have expertise and leave the rest for others to evaluate.  Nevertheless, I can see that the paper outlines many important problems which must be addressed by anyone advocating a nuclear solution to climate change.

    My original reason for seeking out Skeptical Science.com was to find out the basis for the logarithmic relationship between CO2 concentration and global temperature, but got diverted when I saw the commenting on nuclear energy.  I want to get back to that original question.  I will continue to follow the nuclear energy string, but will probably not be a prolific commenter.

    Best regards

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  50. Richieb1234,

    Thank you for your informed comments.  I think you can contribute a lot more to the conversation.  We have great difficulty finding anyone who can comment positively on nuclear and make sense.

    Your approach of posting on one topic at a time works very well.  If you could comment on one more section of Abbott each week we eventually would have discussed them all.

    On safety I have these two references.  In 2015 the French Nuclear Regulatory Agency (IRSN) said:

    "At the present stage of development, IRSN does not have all the necessary data to determine whether the systems under review [generation IV reactors] are likely to offer a significantly improved level of safety compared with Generation III reactors"

    The Union of Concerned Scientists was concerned that safety is not much better in modular reactors.  The savings in manufacture and operations came mainly from leaving out current safety mechanisms.

    What do you think about these positions?  Does Nuscale have more data that was not available to the French in 2015?  Does the US NRC differ from the French analysis?

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