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Latest Posts


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.

Update - October 2020

This post has been up for a little over a year now, and has received over 200 comments. Now seems like a good time to add some clarification.

First of all, the challenge to "nuclear proponents" to provide an article requires that the article "summarize the science". It is not the desire of Skeptical Science to provide a one-sided, pro-nuclear assertion. The expectation is that an article would provide a balanced review of all aspects of nuclear energy as a practical, affordable, realistic source of low-carbon energy.

If you think of yourself as a "nuclear advocate", then writing a balanced article will be difficult for you. This is not a place for "lawyers' science", where the role is to pick a side and pretend there is no other reasonable argument. This is not about winning an argument - it is about coming to a common understanding based on all the available evidence.

If you think that criticism of your position represents an "anti-nuclear bias", then writing a balanced article will be difficult for you.

If you think that you are the only one that truly understands nuclear energy, then you are probably wrong.

Review of any submitted article will not be at the level of a review of a professional journal article, but anyone submitting an article needs to be prepared to have their positions examined in detail for weaknesses, missing information, lack of support in the peer-reviewed literature, etc. If you find it tough to accept criticism in the comments thread, then you will not find review any gentler.

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Comments 101 to 150 out of 319:

  1. MSMITH @99 ,

    sorry ~ my comment was insufficiently unambiguous : I meant that the wide-scale employment of Nu-Scale or similar generation is possible by 2050, but that probably (IMO) it would not come until the tail-end of that important 30-year period (important because of the need for early achievement of zero-CO2-emission).   I hope I am wrong about that.  But I am pessimistic, because of the current uneconomic state of nuclear generation, and because of its poor track record of on-budget-on-time.

    I think you are right that there is, in most people, no overt intellectual opposition to wind/solar generation.  Yet there does seem to be (in the USA especially) a hard-core group of science-denialists & socio-economic conservatives who consider "renewables" to be loathesome.  Loathesome because representing an acknowledgement that AGW is real.

    This point came home to me a few days ago, when I read a brief WhatsUpWithThat website article describing how some researchers were developing a more efficient solar PV panel (higher efficiency in the short-wave/near-UV part of insolation).   The efficiency gains were modest, and the economics yet uncertain . . . but the idea that solar-PV could be achieving an extra advantage, seemed to unleash a fury  of negativism from the posters in the comments column.

    The anger seemed entirely inappropriate ~ and must surely have had an emotional origin, based on the tribal resentment of anything presenting more threat to the traditional coal/oil fandom of this section of the population.   And perhaps smaller, subconscious ripples of that sort extend into a wider community than the crackpots who inhabit WUWT .

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  2. Michael Sweet:

    "claims from you and the nuclear industry that the linear response no threshold model overestimates cancers means that no-one will ever get cancer demonstrate you do not care how many people they kill."

    No, it shows that I believe it's bunk.  I believe the risk due to low level radiation dose is effectively zero, and nobody has ever been able to prove me wrong.

    If something divided by zero is always equal to 1, then I can show 10 = 20.  

    Well, Lyman is showing that 10=20, and he's doing so in a way that you believe him.

    If the LNTH were true, then people desiring to confirm it would simply study a population on the earth who is routinely exposed to higher than normal background radiation, find the difference in cancer mortality, and proclaim their findings far and wide.

    Those studies have been made, but 

    <a href="">have not shown a cancer risk.</a>

    "People living in Kerala, India, experience lifetime terrestrial irradiation of up to 70 mSv a year, much higher than other populations in India, without an increased risk of carcinogenesis. "  (100 Rem = 1 Sv.  So, 70 mSv = 7 Rem, which is higher than the limit for US Nuclear workers.)

    I know I won't convince you, but I do need to present the counter-point, lest somebody actually believe the bunk put out by Lyman. They can read Lyman, and then read Tubiana et al and judge for themselves.

    As for the French Nuclear Regulatory Agency's opinion, I will wait to see those reactors put up for a design certification with a regulatory body, then research the design before I offer comment.  I was specifically talking about NuScale, which is progressing very well through the USNRC's review. 

    And the UCS is an interesting organization.  For years they've been saying that reactors are unsafe because they need power after shutdown to maintain fuel cooling.  Then somebody goes and makes a design for which that is no longer true, and now they say it's unsafe because the safety design doesn't include pumps.  

    <a href="">But even they now support nuclear.</a>  Or, at least don't oppose it like they used to.  (But hey, tepid support is better than outright opposition.  Considering the source, I'll take it.)

    "I do not buy your improved safety claims."

    And that's your right.  Of course, it would be helpful to future readers if you were to explain why flooding is a risk to a nuclear reactor that's submerged in a below-grade pool of water and whose safety systems all go to the required safety position when power is lost. 

    The AP1000 design, which is being built in GA (vastly over-budget, to be sure) is still dependent on DC power to activate the last-line of defense valves.  The backup to the backup there to blow the last of these valves in the event DC power is lost is literally one of those Wille E. Coyote dynamite plungers.  But that requires an operator to get to the location, make the connections, and blow the valves.  So, could I imagine a scenario where flooding causes core damage there?  Yeah.  It's unlikely, and probably wouldn't result in Fukushima type releases to the public since the AP1000 containment doesn't need DC power to remain cool, but yes, such a scenario could occur.

    But I can't imagine a similar scenario for a NuScale reactor. 

    Can you?

    And lastly, the evacuation deaths:  If your cousin's home burned down, and somebody ordered an 5 mile radius evacution based on fear that some of the weed killer he stored in his garage might emit a carcinogen when burned, would your cousin be responsible for the deaths that occured during the evacuation?

    No.  That argument is surely one you would reject.  The fault lies with those who order a needless evacuation.  

    But I could also argue that it's not the politician's fault, since they're only responding to pressure from their constituancy.  I could argue that it's your fault for spreading baseless fears.

    And this very point has been made with respect to Chernobyl, but orgainizations such as the World Health Organization and others.  From Tubiana et al above:

    "The Chernobyl accident showed that overestimating radiation risks could be more detrimental than underestimating them. Misinformation partially led to traumatic evacuations of about 200 000 individuals, an estimated 1250 suicides, and between 100 000 and 200 000 elective abortions outside the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics"

    And from the <a href=""> World Health Organization</a>:

    "The accident has had a serious impact on mental health and well-being in the general population, mainly at a sub-clinical level that has not generally resulted in medically diagnosed disorders. Designation of the affected population as “victims” rather than “survivors” has led to feelings of helplessness and lack of control over their future. This has resulted in excessive health concerns or reckless behaviour, such as the overuse of alcohol and tobacco, or the consumption of mushrooms, berries and game from areas still designated as having high levels of radioactive caesium."

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  3. Eclectic:

    I understand your frustration.  I experience the same, because, as can be seen above, I could take your post, replace "coal/oil" with "renewable", replace "conservative" with "liberal" and replace "renewable" with "nuclear" and be describing my interaction with Michael Sweet.  

    Science denialism is alive and well, but it's not a conservative-only malady.  It exists on both sides of the argument, but just manifests in slightly different ways. 

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  4. MSMITH @103 ,

    again, my apologies for my clumsy communication ~ in #101 my phrase "socio-economic conservatives" was poorly chosen.   I was intending to mean that particular group which wishes to see no social change, no change in the "economo-technological" structure of our society.

    That group is not Conservative (versus Liberal) in the common parlance of political partisanship.  Yes, there is much more overlap with right-winger than left-winger ideologies . . . but it is a group wanting zero change (for various emotional reasons).   Although they might blandly accept the next model of iPhone !

    Essentially, their stick-in-the-mud attitude comes from a complex of resentments.

    I believe there are many true conservatives (including right-wingers) who are happy to see the arrival of beneficial societal changes ~ it is just that their "palette" or "agenda" of improvements is somewhat narrower than those acceptable to liberals/left-wingers.

    Unfortunately, in the USA, the terms conservative and liberal have become simply slogan-labels to be thrown around, and the mere mention of either word does (in many people) produce a complete cessation of the thinking process.

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  5. Msmith:

    I do not usually discuss safety so I did not have citations at hand.  Reading some background information I find that the National Academy of Science BEIR VII report, the most recent of 7 NAS reports on radiation, very strongly supports the use of linear response no threshold.  The US Nuclear Regulatory Commision also uses LRNT.  Apparently every health organization in the world and every nuclear regulatory organization in the world use LRNT.  Your claim that you think LRNT is bunk just proves that you do not care how many people the nuclear industry kills.  

    Apparently nuclear industry shills in the USA oppose the use of LRNT without any supporting data.  The nuclear industry does not want to accept responsibility for the people they kill with their nuclear catastrophes.  

    Since the NAS report shows your claims on LRNT are false I have absolutely no confidence in your wild claims that unbuilt designs will be safer than current unsafe reactors.  In any case, it is extremely unlikely they will be available before renewable energy has been built out for all energy.  And they will be too expensive.  Nuscale executives have publicly stated that they require a several hundred billion dollar contract from the government to build their factory.  Some free market.

    You have not addressed Abbotts claims that enough rare metals do not exist to build out a significant amount of nuclear.  To start out there is not enough uranium, beryllium, hafnium, zirconium or vanadium.

    The nuclear industry is responsible for the people they killed during the required evacuations from Chernobyl and Fukushima.  No responsible person would leave people next to burning and exploding reactors.  Your excuses only show you do not care how many people the nuclear industry kills.

    I suggest again that you should change the subject to something that will support your argument better.  From my position you have just proven that nuclear supporters do not care how many people they kill. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus for LRNT among health professionals who care how many people are killed.

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  6. A recent report from the DIW (a German economic reaserch institution) foound that nuclear plants are not economic.  From the abstract:

    " An empirical survey of the 674 nuclear power
    plants that have ever been built showed that private economic
    motives never played a role. Instead military interests have
    always been the driving force behind their construction. Even
    ignoring the expense of dismantling nuclear power plants and
    the long-term storage of nuclear waste, private economy-only
    investment in nuclear power plant would result in high losses—
    an average of five billion euros per nuclear power plant, as one
    financial simulation revealed. In countries such as China and
    Russia, where nuclear power plants are still being built, private
    investment does not play a role either. Nuclear power is too
    expensive and dangerous; therefore it should not be part of
    the climate-friendly energy mix of the future" my ephasis

    Nuclear plants are not economic. 

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  7. Mr Sweet

    You claim without citation

    "An empirical survey of the 674 nuclear power plants that have ever been built showed that private economicmotives never played a role. Instead military interests havealways been the driving force behind their construction"

    Please could you explain to me where are Canada's ,  nuclear weapons obtained from its reactors.

    Germany since afrter the war has not been involved in nuclear weapons material.

    Then we can add Sweden , The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain etc all to countries that have civilian nuclear power but no intention of weapons production

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    "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"  M sweet


    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.  - moderator


    Dear moderator, your comments are more apt to Mr sweet;s comments who clearly is diputing the actual areas of power stations, such as hinkley point

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  9. ." As MA Rodger points they are already short of uranium".  M Sweet,


    No he stated that there is enough for 200 years of Uranium, That does not include Thorium who's supply is vasly greater than Uranium

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  10. Sorry, I forgot to link the DIW report .

    A newspaper summary is here.

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  11. M Sweet

    Nuclear power plants have been built in 34 countries out of these 9 countries have or believed to have nuclear weapons 

    It is therfore clear that your stament that

    "military interests havealways been the driving force behind their construction"

    is false 

    ie contries that have built nuclear power stations = 34 less 9 with weapons = 25 countries with power plants and no weapons. 

    your comment is a piece of scurriulous mis information


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    Moderator Response:

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

    Moderating this site is a tiresome chore, particularly when commentators repeatedly submit offensive or off-topic posts. We really appreciate people's cooperation in abiding by the Comments Policy, which is largely responsible for the quality of this site. 
    Finally, please understand that moderation policies are not open for discussion.  If you find yourself incapable of abiding by these common set of rules that everyone else observes, then a change of venues is in the offing.

    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.

    Personal attacks snipped.

  12. Erratum, Iran could possibly be regarded as being with intention of building a weapon and so should have been accounted for in the argument

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  13. Mr sweet, The sheer practicalities of using a civilian reactor do not favour weapond production either. Its abit technical, but believe me , The first nuclear weapons nations built dedicated weapons production reactors. 

    There was absolutly no reason for these countries to use civilian reactos to produce weapons grade plutonium.

    The minimization of the amount of 240
    present in weapons grade plutonium is achieved by reprocessing the fuel after just 90 days of use. Such rapid fuel cycles are highly impractical for civilian power reactors and are normally only carried out with dedicated weapons plutonium production reactors. Plutonium from spent civilian power reactor fuel typically has under 70% 239
    and around 26%240
    , the rest being made up of other plutonium isotopes, making it extremely difficult but not impossible to use it for the manufacturing of improvised nuclear weapons.[4][8][11][12]

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  14. Barry,

    My argument is that nuclear plants are not economic.  The DIW report I cited showed that of 674 civilian reactors built worldwide, 674 (every single one) were subsidized by the government.  Nuclear plants lose money.

    If you have a problem with DIW's claim that "military interests have
    always been the driving force behind their construction" you will have to take it up with them.  I suggest first that you read their report available here. Since the title of the report is "High-priced and dangerous: nuclear power is not an option for the climate-friendly energy mix" you will need to come up with some economic arguments.  They also accept the LRNT descriptiion of radioactivity hazard.

    When I Googled DIW they appear to be a serious think tank that has no particular bias.  You need to provide evidence that your unsupported opinion is more accurate than a very well documented report from DIW.  

    At Skeptical Science personal opinion has little value.  If you want to be taken seriously you must cite peer reviewed studies.

    Since I have a Masters Degree in Chemistry I am able to understand the complexities of different plutonium isotopes in the reactor fuel.

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  15. Barry:

    From your reference:

                         "The wider problem
    Five European nations host US nuclear weapons on their soil as part of a NATO nuclear-sharing arrangement, and roughly two dozen other nations claim to rely on US nuclear weapons for their security. Furthermore, there are many nations with nuclear power or research reactors capable of being diverted for weapons production. The spread of nuclear know-how has increased the risk that more nations will develop the bomb." my emphasis

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  16. "Since I have a Masters Degree in Chemistry I am able to understand the complexities of different plutonium isotopes in the reactor fuel."

    Yet you are willing to post the utterly false statement that 

    Instead military interests have
    always been the driving force behind their[civilian Reactors] construction"

    If you understand the reasonwhy civilian byproduct is unsuitable for weapons, and living in the States, there is a number of military reactors stuck out in the desert.  You know this I know this so why post the ridiculous statement

    You then state that it is only a few nations have diverted nuclear material, which is contrary to your first statment that all civilian reactors

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  17. Regarding previous discussion on the scarcity of hafnium limiting nuclear power - hafnium is invariably present in zirconium ore, at about 1-3%. The two metals are so similar chemically that for most purposes this does not matter. However, the behaviour at the nuclear level is very different - while zirconium has a low neutron cross-section of 0.185 barns, that of hafnium is 104. So for nuclear uses, the hafnium must be separated out, or a 2% hafnium component would cause the zirconium fuel cladding to absorb over ten times as many valuable neutrons. Once separated, the hafnium is available for control rods, where its neutron appetite is a virtue, and it has the same strength and corrosion resistance as zirconium.  There are thousands of fuel rods to only scores of control rods, so the real question should be, would a much larger nuclear industry run out of zirconium ? Since the elemental abundance of zirconium in the Earth's crust is about two orders of magnitude greater than that of uranium, and the mass of uranium in a fuel loading is much greater than the mass of the cladding, that is not credible. Further, if uranium supplies ran low, the industry would have to move to reprocessing spent fuel for plutonium. Since that involves cutting up and melting the used full rods, the zirconium would also become available for re-use. In any case, fast reactors, which get much better fuel mileage on plutonium, are more likely to have stainless steel cladding. Fast neutrons are less prone to parasitic absorption, and there are more of them per fission. 

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  18. John ONeill,

    Thank you for the information on how hafnium is obtained.

    Unfortunately, that was not what we were discussing.  Abbott 2012 (also linked in the OP), states that there are many rare elements used in the construction of nuclear plants that do not exist in enough quantity to build a lot of nuclear plants.  The lack of these materials means that nuclear can never produce more than a very small (<5%) fraction of world power.  Hafnium is one of several materials mentioned by Abbott (others list additional materials).

    Unfortunately, zirconium is also one of the materials that cannot be obtained in quantity.  Obviously you cannot purify hafnium from zirconium if not enough zirconium exists.  (Alternately it does not matter if you have enough hafnium if you do not have enough zirconium).

    In about 2005, nuclear supporters claimed that renewable energy could not be used to power the world because there was not enough concrete and steel to build the wind turbines.  Renewable advocates responded with a peer reviewed paper (Jacobson 2009) which showed all the materials needed to build a renewable system existed except for rare earth metals for the turbines.  The turbines have now been designed so that they do not use rare earth metals.

    Abbott challanged the nuclear industry with13 problems building out a large amount of nuclear that he felt cannot be solved,  The nuclear world has responded with answers like yours.  No data and hand-waving suggestions to produce required materials from mines that do not exist.

    If you want to answer the question: "Does enough hafnium exist to build out (amount of nuclear you want to build)" you need first to find out how much hafnium is in each reactor.  Then you need to find out world hafnium production and consumption.  Then you can determine if there is enoug hafnium left over from other uses to build out the nuclear plants.

    Then you can do the same for zirconium and beryllium.  Since there is only enough uranium in known economic reserves to provide all power to the world for 5 years you should probably only build out a small amount of nuclear or you will run out of uranium.

    Nuclear supporters' constant use of the amount of materials in the Earth's crust indicates to me that they do not want to seriously answer the question.  There is a gigantic amount of nickle in the Earth's core, a virtually unlimited amunt of helium in the Sun and billions of tons of uranium in the ocean.  The problem is that it is not possible to economically obtain any of these materials.

    In the Earth's crust some materials have formed economic deposits and are economically available.  Others have not concentrated and are not economic to mine in quantity.  You must provide information on proven reserves of materials like hafnium, zirconium and uranium to support the claim that enough of these materials exists.  So far the nuclear industry, and nuclear supporters on line, have made no attempt to answer Abbott's questions.

    Good luck.

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  19. 'Boiling water reactors with a full core of fuel rods will contain about 44 tonnes of zirconium.Pressurised water reactors will contain about 29.5 tonnes of zirconium...zirconium is the 20th most abundant element in the earth’s crust...There are good reserves of zircon sand in many countries including South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, Australia, Ukraine, Peru, India, China and the United States.' World reserves are over a billion tons, and non-nuclear uses are about 15 percent.

    With about forty tons per reactor every four years, and about 450 reactors making 4% of the world's energy, multiply by 25 to cover total world energy use, and the industry has about eight thousand years before it is forced to consider recycling, or using alternatives. ( Silicon carbide is considered a good option, but I'm not going to calculate when we'd run out of silicon and carbon.) As shown above, hafnium supply is included with zirconium - in fact, other users of hafnium rely on the nuclear industry for the difficult separation process, and would have much greater costs without it. Alternative materials for control rods include boron. 'Global proven boron mineral mining reserves exceed one billion metric tonnes, against a yearly production of about four million tonnes.' Rare earth elements such as europium are also used. They're not actually that rare, but they are difficult to separate from each other ( like zirconium and hafnium ), and they're often present in thorium ores. Thorium is classed as radioactive, which it is slightly, and therefore is difficult to get mining permits for. If it is eventually used as fuel - it's about five hundred times more abundant than uranium 235, with about the same energy content of 19,000 kwh per gram - more rare earths would be available as a by-product.

    Zirconium is actually produced in reactors - it makes up about ten percent of fission products - but not in quantities worth processing. Other, much rarer, elements are also present, though. India is already looking at palladium, rhodium and ruthenium recovery. Some of these metals, which are very useful catalysts and alloying agents, are worth thousands of dollars a kilo. Reserves of rhodium in spent fuel will soon be greater than in ores, and some of those ores are in conflict zones in Zaire, where they are exploited by child labour to finance civil war.   'After 5 years cooling the specific activity of Rh obtained from nuclear fuels is less than a millicurie a gram, and after a few decades, irrelevant.' Technetium is an unstable element not found in nature, but its radioactivity is low - the half life is over 200,000 years, with emission of a low energy beta particle, an electron. Technetium is chemically almost identical to rhenium, which is essential for high-temperature alloys in turbine blades and the like, but Tc is about half as heavy.

    Beryllium is not used in any current reactor, or in any presently being assessed for licensing in the USA or Canada, including proposed molten salt designs.

    Abbot sees all sorts of problems in expanding an industry which already makes ten percent of the world's electricity - over fifty percent in some countries - but none of significance in moving from fossil fuels (85% of our energy) to his preferred option, concentrating solar ( about 0.01% ). The technology for CSP has been around for as long as nuclear, but the people who actually install power systems have ignored it. 

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  20. John ONeill,

    According to Metalpedia, approximately 1.5 million tons of zirconium was mined in 2013.  World reserves were estimated at 60 million tons (from the US Geological Survey.  Your reference does not have a reserve number, it seems you made it up) so if current usage continued they would last about 40 years, less than the claimed lifetime of a nuclear reactor.  Adding on the nuclear use you claim would substantially reduce the life of the reserve.  Your estimate of lifetime of reserves appears to be approximately 200 times too long.

    It appears to me that your reference only counts the usage of zirconium metal and not zirconium alloys and compounds.   Obviously we need to count all uses of an element. Livescience's article on uses of zirconium does not even mention nuclear.  This article from MIT lists 5 metals as rare including zirconium.  Apparently zirconium is a byproduct of titanium mines and not directly mined.  Prices are unstable due to shortages.

    This example clearly demonstrates the futility of using GOOGLE to argue scientific points made in peer reviewed articles.  The first hit that sems to fit your preconcieved notions is not necessarily accurate.  Since Abbott is a peer reviewed source you need to provide peer reviewed data to argue with it.

    It is a waste of time to exchange GOOGLE hits, neither of us is expert on amounts of rare metals.  Provide appropriate references to your claims.

    In any case, you are claiming nuclear can supply all world power.  If we build out the 15 terrawatts of power needed, the known reserves of uranium would run out in only 5 years (according to Abbott 2011).  

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  21. John ONeill,

    According to this report, beryllium is used in the construction of the fuel bundles in CANDU power reactors.  GOOGLING beryllium uses finds many references to the use of beryllium or its alloys in nuclear reactors eg Royal Society of Chemistry, Los Alamos National Laboratory and

    Please provide citations to support your claim that beryllium is not used in nuclear reactors, your personal opinion does not seem very accurate.

    It occurs to me that you may be copying material from a web site that supports nuclear.  Can you provide a link to that source so I can see what they are claiming?

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  22. Nigelj,

    The claims by Engineer Poet and David Benson at RealClimate that renewable energy requires immense storage are simply false.  If you wish to repeat those false claims here you need to provide a citation.  Currently you are repeating nuclear propaganda.

    If you read the cited by references at GOOGLE for recent renewable energy papers you will find lists of interesting and relevant papers.  For example:

    papers that cite Smart Energy Europe (268 cites since 2016) paper

    papers that cite Energy Storage and Smart Energy Systems (115 citations)(the original paper can be accessed free as a PDF from the paper list for Smart Energy Europe linked above)

    Jacobson et al 2018  citing papers cited by 52 since 8/19, lists all required materials for a completely renewable system without using any combustion energy sources. Jacobson uses no new pumped storage, it is too expensive.  Why is pumped storage the only option for Engineer Poet?

    This paper addresses many false claims that nuclear supporters make about renewable energy: Response to Burden of Proof.  You are wasting your time talking to Benson and Engineer Poet.  Think: why do these guys only post on unmoderated sites?  They could post here at SkS but they know that they do not have references for their wild claims.

    Nuclear supporters making wild, unsupported claims only cause people to doubt that renewable energy can provide All Power and support the fossil fuel industry.  Nuclear is a failed technology and has no option besides bad talking successful Renewable Energy.

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  23. Michael Sweetman - The use of beryllium you cite is just for about 35% of the welding flux ( with zirconium ) to attach tags to fuel rods, and that only for Candu reactors, which make up less than 5% of the global fleet - hardly a serious resource demand. I believe the reference was in regard to finding alternatives for beryllium, because of stricter safety standards for manufacturing. Aluminium, together with other metals, was considered a possible alternative. I knew that the British Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors were originally planned to have beryllium fuel tubes, but technical difficulties prevented this. As a result they were not able to use unenriched uranium, which severely affected the economic rationale for using gas cooled rather than water cooled plants. 

    World beryllium production in 2018 was only 230 tons, so it could be a constraint on the proposals for molten salt reactors with beryllium as part of the salt mix - 'Flibe' ( Fluoride-Lithium-Beryllium) is even registered as the brand name for Kirk Sorenson's company. However, I think the requirement for Lithium to be isotopically enriched to 99.995 % Li7 is a bigger hurdle, and as far as I remember, most other molten salt startups are proposing different salt mixes.

      Your argument for metal shortages preventing large scale nuclear use relies on once-through use of fuel, as at present. If reactors breeding fuel from U238 or thorium are used, fuel recycling will also be able to recycle associated metals. The recycled fuel will have to be handled remotely, so some induced radiation in any tubes or other fittings, or salt, would make little difference. In the short term, which is what we should be focussing on to cut increasing CO2 emissions, the argument is irrelevant. There are enough uranium reserves to replace coal power production for a generation at least; the main roadblock is reactor cost. Costs of manufacture are not set in stone, even for current designs, as shown by the experience in Sweden, France and Belgium - half to ninety percent of electricity supply, built in twenty years, with power costs comparable to coal. Don't tell me those aren't safe enough, they've yet to kill anyone in forty years.

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  24. John ONeill,

    Do not deliberately insult me on my handle.

    In post 120 you claimed: 

    "Beryllium is not used in any current reactor, or in any presently being assessed for licensing in the USA or Canada, including proposed molten salt designs."

    I produced an example to show that your claim was false.  Now you have provided additional examples of beryllium use in nuclear reactors to prove your claim was false.

    Why should I believe anything you post when you make obviously false claims??

    In addition to critical shortages of uranium, there are many other rare and exotic metals used in the construction of a nuclear plant.  The nuclear industry has made no attempt to show the materials exist to build out a number of plants, because the materials do not exist.  It has been proven that all materials exist for a renewable energy build out.

    It currently costs more for operation and maintenance of a nuclear reactor with no mortgage than to build a new solar or wind plant including mortgage.  As you point out, nuclear is not economic.

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  25. Michael Sweet - sorry, that was just an error, not an insult. The beryllium was proposed for Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors, but not used in the end. Sorenson's Flibe reactors are currently just one of many paper reactors. So apart from very small amounts for welding flux, and only in Candu fuel rods, my statement is correct. 

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  26. BobinNH and Tallguy 1000,

    I am posting here because this thread has many posts about nuclear energy.  The thread the moderator linked is much shorter.  Please read the previous posts so that we do not have to reargue points that have already been decided.

    Abbott 2012 gives about 15 reasons why nuclear cannot produce more than 5% of world power.  Nuclear supporters have not responded to this article indicating that they agree with his assessment.  Please address the problems Abbott describes including: finding locations for the 15,000 reactors needed to produce all power (if you use modular reactors you need 50,000), the fact that uranium will run out in 5 years if that many reactors are built, there are many rare materials used in the construction of nuclear power plants that will run out if 15,000 plants are built.

    In addition nuclear is not economic and takes decades to build. 

    Tallguy: Nuclear power zealots have been arguing for a long time that renewable energy will take up too much space.  Jacobson 2018 has calculated the amount of space required and found that it is very moderate.  As Abbott points out, if you build out a nuclear power system you will expect a major accident like Fukushima once a month worldwide and 1-2 times per year in the USA.  The restriction zones will quickly become larger than the amount of land used for wind and solar power.

    BobinNH: you have obviously not read any papers (there are hundreds) that describe future renewable energy systems.  Jacobson et al 2018 above, Connelly et al (unfortuntely now paywalled) and Brown et al (lists many other studies that describe renewable energy systems) answer some of your questions.  You worry about "airplanes, trains, shipping and trucks".

    Many trains are already electric, problem solved.  Much trucking can be shipped in electric trains.  Local deliveries can use electric trucks.  That could solve all trucking but if some small amount remained electrofuels could be used (although they are ineficient).  Airplanes are hard.  Designers have announced electric planes with ranges of 1500 miles.  Jacobson suggests hydrogen fueled planes.  Long haul flights could use electrofuels or people could go by train and ship.  Shipping could use electrofuels, biofuels or smaller ships could be fully electric.

    If you ignore the solutions discussed in the peer reviewed literature it is easy to claim that nothing can be solved.

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  27. DougC,

    This is the correct place to put nuclear comments.  You are currently off topic.  

    While you paint an amusing picture, the fact of the matter is that the reactors you reference have not been invented yet.  Among many other problems, your reference points out that the materials needed for the containment structure and valves are unknown (he suggests using "unobtainium").  Sourcing the required tons of Li7 (a material proposed to be discarded as radioactive waste) would be impossible since Lithium will all be used in batteries by that time.

    The most optimistic time lines for thorium breeder reactors like you support are that pilot plants might be built by 2050.  The climate problem needs to be solved way before then.  In the remote possibility that the pilot plants work it would be decades later before significant numbers of plants could be built.

    Try again with a plan the does not first require the invention of the power source.

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  28. Nigelj,

    The proponents of nuclear power ar RealClimate that you discuss reactor safety with do not count all nuclear related deaths.  For example, they say  regulators were responsible for the deaths caused by required evacuations at Fukushima.  When you do not count the people you kill it is easy to make it appear that your technology is safe.

    Linear response no threshold is accepted by every health agency in the world.  The US Nuclear Regulatory agency and FDA also accept LRNT.  The nuclear industry propaganda that you spout here is not supported by science.  As I posted upthread, the US National Academy of Science in its most recent report strongly supported LRNT.  If you wish to contradict accepted, consensus science you must provide citations to support your wild claims.

    Your claim: "If you inject some nuclear power into the mix you get clean energy and need much less storage" is in direct contradiction to peer reviewed papers

    "As for ‘following all paths’ and pursuing a mix of renewables and nuclear, they do not mix well: because of their high capital costs, nuclear power plants are most economically viable when operated at full power the whole time, whereas the variability of renewables requires a flexible balancing power fleet"

    Please provide a citation to support this wild claim.  In a renewable world peak power is required to support renewable wind and solar.  Baseload like nuclear is not helpful and has little affect on storage. 

    Since nuclear is the most expensive power it would be much cheaper to build an excess of renewable energy or design better storage.  The "Smart Energy" papers I have referenced repeatedly at SkS describe using electrofuels to power planes and ships.  The electrofuels could be used in existing peaker plants to back up renewable energy if needed.  No additional storage would be required.  

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  29. DougC and Nigelj:

    Here is another link to the NAS review that describes the consensus of science backing Linear Response No Threshold.  Please read the background posted above before you make wild claims that have already been discussed at length.  Please cite peer reviewed reviews that compare to the NAS review.  An individual paper does not mean much compared to a comprehensive NAS review.

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  30. michael sweet @128, sorry for being a bit off topic. 

    "The proponents of nuclear power ar RealClimate that you discuss reactor safety with do not count all nuclear related deaths. ...."

    Ok. I don't take all that these guys say at face value. Believe me I check what they claim. But you seem a little bit over paranoid for some reason. However I respect your views and maybe you have your reasons. 

    "Linear response no threshold is accepted by every health agency in the world. "

    Sometimes the consensus view is just wrong and the research on this issue is rather old and inadequate. I've had a read of studies, research papers, articles and opinions on both sides of the debate on low levels of radiation, including some of the research that was posted by Doug C on the Forest Fires thread. I'm not going to spend my day listing all this stuff in detail here. I'm just saying there appear to be valid criticisms of the LNT model and your mind appears very closed on it for some reason. I used to be very sceptical of nuclear power, just less so these days.

    "Your claim: "If you inject some nuclear power into the mix you get clean energy and need much less storage" is in direct contradiction to peer reviewed papers."

    What peer reviewed papers? I posted an article on it previously as below. Its clear an 80% solar and wind grid needs much less storage than a 100% grid. Orders of magnitude less. Nuclear power is one way of filling in the 20%. I have never said its the only way. Hydro would work in some places.

    "As for ‘following all paths’ and pursuing a mix of renewables and nuclear, they do not mix well: because of their high capital costs, nuclear power plants are most economically viable when operated at full power the whole time, whereas the variability of renewables requires a flexible balancing power fleet....Please provide a citation to support this wild claim. In a renewable world peak power is required to support renewable wind and solar. Baseload like nuclear is not helpful and has little affect on storage. "

    I already provided you a credible study with a link showing nuclear power can be ramped up and down to help renewables intermittency, on the forest fires thread. The article says it already does this in some places.

    "Since nuclear is the most expensive power it would be much cheaper to build an excess of renewable energy or design better storage.

    This is just an assertion and also assumes we can design better storage. Right now storage is very expensive. Makes nuclear power look attractive.

    "The "Smart Energy" papers I have referenced repeatedly at SkS describe using electrofuels to power planes and ships. The electrofuels could be used in existing peaker plants to back up renewable energy if needed. No additional storage would be required. "

    This is promising but its theoretical at this stage. Are there working prototypes and are the costs good?

    Of course I'm not in a position to make decisions on who builds what power. I feel electricity markets should not discriminate between nuclear power and renewables. They should have equal subsidies (if any) and renewables should be required to have some storage. Then you get a level playing field between renewables and nuclear power, and the issue should sort itself out over time. The best overall system will get chosen and it could be renewables plus storage if storage prices drop.

    I just want a clean grid, Im not too concerned what the power source is as such. :)

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  31. DougC,

    We have already covered all this material here at SkS.  It took me a little while to find the old posts since you were posting off topic as usual.  You are reposting your old posts with no new material which is a violation of the comments policy.  You are wasting everyones time with your old, failed arguments.

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  32. Nigelj,

    You need to read your own citations.

    Claiming that the US National Academy of Science is wrong and saying you will not provide any citations to support your claim is completely unscientific.  Their review, published in 2006,  is the most up to date consensus report on low level radiation.  If you wish to substitute your personal opinion for the National Academy of Science scientific consensus you should stop posting here.  This is a scientific site, citations are required.

    I read the original paper for your pv magazine citation.  I gave you a reference to the paper.  They model only wind and solar power for electricity only in the USA.  They do not model a renewable energy system that anyone would propose for the USA.  They do not model All Power.  Nuclear power is not modeled at all in the paper.  At the end they speculate that adding nuclear might help but they provide no data or citations to support that wild claim.  They do not model costs of their renewable system and they do not give nuclear costs either so speculating that nuclear would lower costs is completely unsupported.  I quoted from a peer reviewed paper, you cited a popular magazine.

    It is common for nuclear supporters to make up a fake renewable energy system that is very expensive.  Then they claim, without data, that nuclear should be added since renewable is so expensive.  Even if it were true that renewable was expensive that would not mean that nuclear is reasonable.  As Abbott shows, it is impossible to build out more than a trivial amount of nuclear power.

    You did not read your reference for nuclear cycling.  The first paragraph stated that no reactors in the USA load follow because it is not economic.  They say no reactors in the USA can load follow.  They suggested that future reactors could be designed to very slowly load follow.  It will never be economic.  It will never be possible to load follow in real time.  In France they shut down reactors on the weekend.  For nuclear that is "load following".  It is not economic.

    Your claims that storage is too expensive is simply ignorant.  You have not read the papers I cited that show a well designed renewable system can store all needed power using electrofuels in existing storage facilities.  If replacement facilities need to be built it is over 1,000 times cheaper to build liquid electrofuel storage than to build out the pumped hydro you favor. (In any case it is impossible to build out major pumped hydro storage because the environmental damage is too great).  Liquid electrofuels are stored in the same tanks that you see if you drive by any chemical storage facility worldwide. "Working prototypes" are everywhere and the costs are well known.  Jacobson also documents storage for an all power system without electrofuels and the cost is reasonable. Jacobson details all storage down to the last battery and builds exactly zero pumped storage.  Anyone who proposes using extensive pumped storage is trying to mislead you.

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  33. The "wicked problem" re nuclear power has been, and continues to be, the disposal of the waste already generated by nuclear power plants (existing and decommissioned) throughout the world. A recent analysis of this issue in Germany begins with:

    When it comes to the big questions plaguing the world's scientists, they don't get much larger than this.

    Where do you safely bury more than 28,000 cubic meters — roughly six Big Ben clock towers — of deadly radioactive waste for the next million years?

    This is the "wicked problem" facing Germany as it closes all of its nuclear power plants in the coming years, according to Professor Miranda Schreurs, part of the team searching for a storage site.

    Experts are now hunting for somewhere to bury almost 2,000 containers of high-level radioactive waste. The site must be beyond rock-solid, with no groundwater or earthquakes that could cause a leakage.

    The technological challenges — of transporting the lethal waste, finding a material to encase it, and even communicating its existence to future humans — are huge.

    But the most pressing challenge today might simply be finding a community willing to have a nuclear dumping ground in their backyard.

    Germany is closing all its nuclear power plants. Now it must find a place to bury the deadly waste for 1 million years by Sheena McKenzie, CNN, Nov 30, 2019

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  34. michael sweet @131 

    I fully disagree with your entire position on nuclear power and the LNT which was the result of Cold War politics not sound science.

    It Is Time to Move Beyond the Linear No-Threshold Theory for Low-Dose Radiation Protection

    Considering the fact that we are all exposed to ionizing radiation and all life has been from the start of life almost 4 billion years ago on an Earth that had far higher levels of ionizing radiation, how likely is that ionizing radiation is a risk down to a zero dose rate.

    The LNT model of risk from ionizing radiation was a response to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the radiophobia that has resulted has been used by a sector that presents an actualy existential threat to life itself on Earth while at the same time causing the early deaths of millions of people a year from air pollution alone before we look at all the other negative impacts of fossil fuels including the wars that are often rooted in the conflicts over fossil fuels. Donald Trump just stated it is an American goal to seize Syrian oil deposits, a war crime.

    When we look at the worst scenario nuclear reactor accident with a reactor type that will never be built again as was a function of the lack of competence and respect for safety by the regime that built it, the direct impacts to people is still a tiny fraction of what we accept from fossil fuels daily.

    They don't even know how many people died from the Chernobyl accident becaused the increased rates of cancer even under the LNT are so small in relation to the other background causes. The highest estimates are about 500 people. That is about 1/23rd of the deaths that are caused by fossil fuels generated air pollution daily.

    Anti-nuclear activists like Helen Caldicott have made totally unsupported claims that close to 1 million deaths resulted from the Chernobyl accident, contradicting even their own ealier claims.

    Nuclear opponents have a moral duty to get their facts straight

    Arnie Gundersen was making almost the same claims about the Fukushima accident.

    Nuclear Engineer Arnie Gundersen: Fukushima Meltdown Could Result in 1 Million Cases of Cancer 

    What exactly are you afraid of with nuclear power, it's clear that more than a few anti-nuclear activists are not basing their hysterical claims on science or reality itself.

    Based on the massively exagerated claims by people who treat all ionizing radiation as an almost inevitable death sentence you'd think that people exposed to the most extreme human generated forms would all die very early deaths.

    Let's start with Chernobyl and the several hundred emergency response personnel who were working next to an exposed nuclear core on fire

     Health effects in those with acute radiation sickness from the Chernobyl accident.

    Of those hundreds of personnel, 134 were diagnosed with ARS, should be and immediate death sentence based on the conventional "wisdom" that holds what an extreme threa to life all ionizing radiation is.

    Of those 134 people, 29 died in the following months, mostly from the same kind of skin infections third degree burn victims would. In this case it was the beta burns from the intense radiation.

    By 2001 a further 14 had died, does that sound like the death sentence that mainstream radiophobia would have us all treat any IR exposure as.

    In a much less savory case who' ethics I'm not going to debate as I think what was done was deplorable, people diagnosed with terminal illnesses in the US were administered without their knowledge plutonium, the "most dangerous" substance on Earth going by the kind of treatment that you claim is based on sound science.

    Some of them were misdiagnised and lived for decades with plutonium in their bodies.

    Human Plutonium Injection Experiments

    I don't work in the nuclear sector, I don't even have a degree, a serious disability has severely limited my life. I don't have children, I do have many nieces and nephews and the world we are leaving for them causes me anguish.

    If I can figure out how broken the LNT model is and how totally irrational our entire approach to nuclear power is by book from libraries and online resources, then what does that say about the entire field of science that is still struggling to do anything about this nightmare we are all caught up in. 

    Some scientists like Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen and Tim Ball have and still, used their credientials and standing to totally distort the existential threat we all face from fossil fuels climate change. And yet they are still treated as part of this profession.

    I have been taking verbal abuse from the people who they feed their intellectual fraud to online for years in a attempt to advocate for some form of sanity including from Tim Ball at WUWT because I dared to point out that his claims that water vapour were the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere was falacious as could be seen by the very title of his article. It there as a vapour not a gas and therefore isn't stable without the presense of another persisent gas namely carbon dioxide. His response and the many people who chimed in were abusive to say the least. But isn't that the point, to eliminate any opposition to your position no matter the cost to others.

    Unlikely as I thought it to be, I find myself facing the same kind of treatment here.

    I don't care for your baseless ad hominem against me because I simply want life not death to dominate our future.

    As the subtext of your comment is that I and my views are simply not welcome here I won't frequent this site again and will treat it in the end like I do WUWT. As a meaningless spinning of wheels to comfort people as nothing real is done to save ourselves from an existential threat of our own making.

    I'll go with the insights of some of the most brilliant scientists to have lived like Eugene Wigner and Alvin Weinberg who both held that nuclear power would be our salvation.

    I simply have no time for people who are fomenting the same kind of intellectual fraud that has given us anti-vaxxers.

    The Harmful and Fraudulent Basis for the LNT Assumption

    At some point we are going to realize that views like yours are what is helping to kill us all, I just hope it's before it's to late to build the tens of thousands of nuclear reactors that we actually need to replace all fossil fuels.

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  35. Michael Sweet @132, regarding my scepticism about the LNT model, Doug C @134 has pretty much summed it up with plenty of links to technical discussion.

    If liquid fuels storage is low cost, economic and works, why isnt more of this being built? Why are so many countries continuing to build fossil fuels generation?

    I think you need to provide some information on costs of a solar and wind powered grid with liquid fuels storage, (and nothing else for the sake of simplicity) so that we can see what is really going on. I should not have to read thousands of pages to find this. You are familar with the material and are arguing the case, so you should post it.

    In my last paragraph @130 I described how I think an electricity market should treat nuclear power and renewables. Any disagreement?

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  36. DougC,

    This is the third time you have challenged Linear Response no Threshold (LRNT) in discussions with me here at SkS.  The answer is the same as the past two times.

    LRNT is accepted, consensus science.  The data in support of LRNT is overwhelming.  The National Academy of Science Beir VII expert consensus report was written in 2006 and only considered data after 1990.  Nuclear industry claims that 1940's and 50's considerations were adopted are deliberate falsehoods.  You and others who claim your self-education on the internet makes you smarter than the professionals at the National Academy of Science are just denying the science.  I doubt many readers here at SkS will believe a self educated person over consensus science from the NAS.

    I have extensive industrial experience working for years with large amounts of radiation. You are a self educated person on the Internet with no experience or training in radiation.  Suggesting that I am "afraid of" radiation is ignorant and insulting.  I oppose nuclear power because it cannot possibly significantly affect the response to AGW.  Any money spent on nuclear power is wasted.  In addition, nuclear supporters like you and Nigelj make repeated, false claims about renewable energy.   These false claims make people think that the only solution we have might not work.  Deniers like the two of you need to be told you are making false claims.  

    As usual, your numbers on deaths from Chernobyl are about two orders of magnitude off.  The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that approximately 27,000 people will be killed by Chernobyl.  (95% 12,000-57,000 deaths).  About half of these deaths are from UN reports and half are estimates from worldwide radiation exposure.  This does not count the deaths caused by the evacuations (which the Russian government deliberately did not count).  You parroting the nuclear industry excuses for killing so many people prove that you do not care about how many people nuclear kills.  In general, I do not discuss radiation safety or how many people the nuclear industry kills because you do not care how many people you kill so it is a waste of time.

    I do not know any opponents of nuclear who argue too many people are killed or that radiation safety is a big issue (Abbott only mentions the waste disposal issue).  You brought up these issues. 

    I personally always argue that nuclear is uneconomic and that the materials to build a significant amount of nuclear do not exist.

    Reading a little further in your chosen nuclear plant I see that they require 5 tons of bomb grade uranium for startup.  Since we require solutions that are implemented worldwide how do you plan to secure the 5 tons of bomb grade uranium per reactor in Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Syria?  With plans like this what could possibly go wrong??? (/sarc)

    It is impossible to have a conversation with nuclear supporters like because you argue that black is white and up is down.  Suggesting we should put our hopes on a reactor that has not yet been designed, uses "unobtainium" for many critical parts and uses 5 tons of bomb grade uranium for startup is insane.  

    Are you a sock puppet for Doug Cotton who was banned many years ago from SkS?

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] While not an obvious sock puppet of Doug Cotton, the user was indeed using multiple accounts here and has since lost commenting privileges.

  37. Nigelj,

    If you refuse to accept consensus science on LRNT it reflects on your judgement not mine.

    It is clear that you do not know the basic vocabulary of power systems.  To simplify, electrofuels are methane (natural gas), gasoline and diesel fuel.  The fossil fuel industry has built out storage for terrawatts of storage of all these materials.  I have referred you to Connelly et al Smart Energy Europe many times but you have chosen not to read it.  It costs out a system for All Power (not just electricity as nuclear supporters talk about) using electromethane (natural gas) for storage.  It is a little (10%) more costly than BAU for power but has many benefits.  Unfortunately, it is now paywalled.  Ask your local librarian to get you a copy.  You could read some of the papers that cited Smart Energy Europe and get all the information.  The first paper, Energy Storage and Smart Energy Systems discusses cost of storage and is free.

    I think that the primary reason countries are still building out fossil fuels is two fold.

    1. Fossil fuel companies have a great deal of political power and use it to keep themselves in business.
    2. Major power facilities like nuclear and coal power plants take 10-25 years to plan and build.  Renewable energy has only been economic for the past 2-4 years.  It takes years for old plans to be cancelled and new plans made.

    There has never been a nuclear power plant world wide built without large government subsidies.  Wind and solar are installed all the time now without subsidies.  Renewable energy is at least 4 times cheaper than nuclear.  If we go with the market there is only one choice.  Nuclear is uneconomic.

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  38. Ritchieb1234,

    I found this report from the Union of Concerned Scientists that estimates 27,000 deaths worldwide from radiation release at Chernobyl.  About half are from UN reports and half are UOCS estimates using LRNT worldwide.  It has technical parts that look OK to me but appear to be your specialty.  What do you think of the UOCS estimates?

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  39. MS @136

    "In addition, nuclear supporters like you and Nigelj make repeated, false claims about renewable energy. These false claims make people think that the only solution we have might not work. Deniers like the two of you need to be told you are making false claims. "

    What a load of false, arrogant, bullying, totally unsubstantiated rubbish. The most I have done is post links from credible, mainstream authorities. Either retract and apologise or I'm going to lodge a formal complaint with this website. You got three days.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] This is going right over the line. Both of you are respected commentators and name calling is not promoting any kind of constructive discussion. I would call on both of you to stick the argument and discussions of references supplied, and to read each others contribution carefully before rushing in.

  40. Recommended suppleental reading:

    Nuclear power ‘cannot rival renewable energy’ by Paul Brown, Climate News Network, Jan 14, 2020

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  41. Nigelj:

    At post 130 you said:

    "Its clear an 80% solar and wind grid needs much less storage than a 100% grid. Orders of magnitude less.  Nuclear power is one way of filling in the 20%. I have never said its the only way. Hydro would work in some places" my emphasis.

    You referenced a popular magazine.  The actual paper is here (Shaner et al 2018).  They do not model nuclear anywhere in the paper.  The word "nuclear" appears once where they suggest many resources to provide back up power.  They do not model an 80% wind and solar system with added nuclear (they never model a renewable energy system since they leave out existing hydropower).  As Budischak describes below, 20% nuclear does not add to 80% solar and wind to reach a complete system.  Nuclear is not flexible enough.  Additional storage would still be needed.

    Your claim of "orders of magnitude less [storage]" is not supported by your reference. It appears you made this up. The inference that nuclear can reduce storage by "orders of magnitude" is simply nuclear industry propaganda

    Budischak et al published a similar paper in 2013, except they modeled cost also.  They also did not use existing hydro to fill in storage because "Hydropower makes the problem of high penetration renewables too easily solved, and little is available in many regions".  They say "We do not simulate nuclear for backup because it cannot be ramped up and down quickly and its high capital costs make it economically inefficient for occasional use"  Budischek found the cheapest solution was building out excess renewables.  Shaner does not model costs, they only speculate on cost.  Shaner was over 5 years out of date when it was written.  More recent research shows that the larger the system the lower the storage requirements. (ie All Power requires relatively less storage than electricity only).

    Existing hydro would fill much (all?) of the storage requirements for Shaner et al.  Why did Shaner et al leave out the most flexible, already built, renewable energy system in their analysis (existing hydro is never mentioned in their paper)?  Pumped hydro (the most expensive storage option, environmentally unsustainable) is mentioned 6 times.  Existing capacity of hydropower greatly exceeds any conceivable pumped storage.  Perhaps they knew that if existing hydro was included nuclear would be excluded from the discussion.  I think Shaner et al are nuclear shills.

    When you say "Sometimes the consensus view is just wrong and the research on this issue [Linear Response No Threshold] is rather old and inadequate" and you dismiss a 2006 National Academy of Sciences expert consensus report you are repeating nuclear industry propaganda.

    You exchange a lot of posts on the unmoderated RealClimate forum.  Much of the material posted there would not be allowed at SkS because it contradicts the peer reviewed literature and is untrue.  Be careful what you repeat here that you read there.

    If you continue to repeat unsupported nuclear industry propaganda here I will continue to call you out.  Renewable energy can provide ALL POWER to the world at a cost similar or lower than BAU.

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  42. michael sweet @141

    nigelj: "Its clear an 80% solar and wind grid needs much less storage than a 100% grid. Orders of magnitude less. Nuclear power is one way of filling in the 20%. I have never said its the only way. Hydro would work in some places" my emphasis.

    MS: "Your claim of "orders of magnitude less [storage]" is not supported by your reference. It appears you made this up. The inference that nuclear can reduce storage by "orders of magnitude" is simply nuclear industry propaganda."

    nigelj :The magazine reference I quoted stated "Geophysical constraints on the reliability of solar and wind power in the United States posits that the U.S. electrical grid could be 80% powered by a solar-heavy+wind power combination using just 12 hours of energy storage to smooth out the variability. .....To reach a 100% wind+solar U.S. electricity grid would require 3 weeks of energy storage. " Clearly 12 hours of storage is "orders of magnitude" less than 3 weeks of storage exactly as I stated.

    Perhaps the reference is wrong, but that is not my fault.

    I never intened to mean that an 80% solar and wind power grid had to have nuclear power or only hydro power  filling the gap, just that it was a  possibility. Plus New Zealand has a lot of hydro power so I'm probably subconsciously influenced by that. Other possibilities are geothermal power, or biofuels steam turbine power, etcetera. I don't care. Whatever works.

    Electricity grids need reactive power as you probably know. Solar and wind power are poor at providing reactive power although it may improve. The Drax biofuels turbine system supplies reactive power to the UK grid to help out the renewables component, which has a lot of wind power. Nuclear power , geothermal power and hydro power also provide plenty of reactive power.

    I also never said a 80% solar and wind power grid didn't need battery (or similar) storage, just that it needed a lot less storage than a 100% grid.
    You either don't comprehend what people say, even when its simply put or skimmed it a bit fast. I assume the later.

    MS: "When you say "Sometimes the consensus view is just wrong and the research on this issue [Linear Response No Threshold] is rather old and inadequate" and you dismiss a 2006 National Academy of Sciences expert consensus report you are repeating nuclear industry propaganda."

    No I'm expressing my own opinion.

    MS "You exchange a lot of posts on the unmoderated RealClimate forum. Much of the material posted there would not be allowed at SkS because it contradicts the peer reviewed literature and is untrue. Be careful what you repeat here that you read there."

    Obviously you haven't read much of it, because I've spent half my time attacking claims made by the pro nuclear lobby, and also promoting renewable electricity. However I think they make some good points on some aspects of things that persuades me theres some place for nuclear power in the mix. I'm not alone. 

    "If you continue to repeat unsupported nuclear industry propaganda here I will continue to call you out. Renewable energy can provide ALL POWER to the world at a cost similar or lower than BAU."

    I think renewables will win the day and you will be proven right. But its all speculation right now because we dont have a 100% renewables grid to know. The papers modelling costs are theoretical. Modelling costs is hard and has a bad track record.

    France has nuclear power and some of the cleanest electricity in the world. They have already arrived at a clean grid.

    I can't see a problem with a grid that has some nuclear power in it if people want. Its not actually a big deal to me. I don't accept your argument this undermines trust in renewables. People are not stupid. The world has long had grids with multiple sources of power.

    This is probably going to be my final set of comments on this particular issue. I'm getting fed up with the bickering and accusations made against me about what I say or who influences me. I think for myself. I've had to waste time over this. I made my comments in good faith quoting an article froma main stream source, not some denialist / nuclear power website.

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  43. takamura_senpai, ego is a factor but there's more to it. You can't expect people to make big changes to their lifestyles when they don't see the entire group doing this, or most of the group. It not a rational response for them to sacrifice themselves for little gain. There's a technical term for this problem but I just cant recall it.

    The only way to counter this is probably a strong carbon tax that forces people to all make some sort of change more or less in unison. Unfortunately this comes up against the people with ideological opposition to taxes and they are very influential. Because of this I'm inclined to think we are not going to fix the climate problem, not properly anyway.

    Don't have a "peer reviewed study" to back this up and I'm not going to spend all my morning trying to find stuff I've read on it. So if my comment doesn't meet the websites standards I guess just do whatever you want.

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  44. Sorry posted 143 on the wrong thread.

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  45. Nigelj:

    On your last post without citations you add the comment:

    "Electricity grids need reactive power as you probably know. Solar and wind power are poor at providing reactive power although it may improve"

    If you had read the peer reviewed paper by Brown et al I have cited for you several times you would know that this is another example of a deliberate falsehood that nuclear and fossil fuel advocates tell to make everyone think renewable energy will not work.  In the past grid operators said reactive energy was not needed.  There are many ways to provide ancillary services (including reactive power) cheaply in a renewable grid.    In many cases if the controls are reprogrammed ancillary services can be provided for free.

    The Tesla battery in Australia currently provides better quality reactive power at a lower cost than fossil generators are capable of providing.  I am surprised that you are not aware this facility provides the reactive power you claim is missing from renewable energy systems.

    If you read the citations you are provided you will post less obvious deliberate falsehoods.  Reactive energy was not discussed in this thread before your post.  It was not necessary for you to make this false claim.  I hope that you are simply uninformed and not repeating claims you know are false.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Your tone here is unhelpful for constructive discussion. Please keep it polite. Furthermore, please note the comments policy.

    "No accusations of deception.  Any accusations of deception, fraud, dishonesty or corruption will be deleted. This applies to both sides. You may critique a person's methods but not their motives."

  46. With regard to the biological effects of low-level ionizing radia9tion, there continues to be the mistake of using LNT, the Linear No Threshold assumption of the effects.   LNT is simply wrong.  Towards the end of the BNC Discussion Forum thread on Wade Allison ' "Radiation and Reason", there are many links to the recent, largely peer-reviewed, literature.  Unfortunately I don't know how to provide a link here as the usual copy & paste doesn't work for me. 

    Here I will just point out that the Executive Summary of BEIR VII,  the latest NRC supported study of the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, contains a serious misapplication of Pierson-Nyman style statistical inference.  This sets up the hypothesis to beat as the so-called null hypothesis.  BEIR VII uses LNT as the null hypothesis.  For lymphoma the nonlinear hypothesis beats LNT but not for solid cancers.   The authors of the Executive Summary thereby make the error of concluding that LNT is the best model.

    But it is easy to see that when placing the nonlinear hypothesis as the null hypothesis LNT cannot beat it. A standoff. 

    The better statistical method is to compute the Bayes factor of the two hypotheses to discover that the preponderance of the evidence favors the nonlinear hypothesis. 

    Unfortunately the federal regulatory agencies do not appear to be able to move away from LNT and so large sums are simply wasted and possibly public health is lessened. 

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  47. Possibly this works.


    Wade Allison's "Radiation and Reason"

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  48. David Benson:  

    The BIER VII report was comissoned by the National Academy of Science to provide a summary of current scientific consensus.  A group of experts in the field reviewed all the recent data.  They concluded that LRNT is strongly supported by the data.  Linking to a 100+ response list on a blog is not a refutation of a NAS scientific consensus report.  Please link to the relevant comments instead of making us read all the chaff on your unmoderated site.

    The Executive summary contains a summary of the information in the report.   Even if there was a minor error in the Executive summary that would not invalidate the netire consensus of experts.

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  49. The BEIR VII Executive Summary is the only part with the serious statistical error which is used to support LNT.   The body of the report states that there is no evidence of the effects of low-level ionizing radiation. 

    I will attempt to send one of the supporting links from my prior, but 29 entry, not 100+, link to BNC Discussion Forum.   It will, I hope, be in the following message.

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    It is time to move beyond the linear no-threshold theory ...

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