I have continued to debate with proponents of using Nuclear Fission power plants to meet increasing energy demands. I stumbled upon this website and found their FOR and AGAINST argument lists to sum it up pretty nicely — http://www.willyoujoinus.com/discussion/topics/?d=23&gclid=CMvrmuGAmJ8CFRAeDQod7mI1NQ
Here’s their list followed by the question they pose. I would add to the critics list that while nuclear power reduces the world’s dependence on oil and natural gas, it simply replaces that with a dependence on the various hard-to-find fuels for nuclear power which are also finite. Renewable energy harnessing is the only way that will work as long as the sun exists. Why wait? We’re simply prolonging the inevitable which is running out of fuel for our quick and dirty solutions.
So do the benefits outweigh the risks? Can the risks be sufficiently managed? And how do we balance local issues with the global concerns over energy security?
I was going to type up some long bit about my current energy research readings and such but I just could not decide how to format it all. Well, that and I’m lazy.
Enel is in the planning stages of a industrial scale hydrogen burning power plant.
Humboldt State University’s Schats Energy Research Center (SERC) is road testing a Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered Toyota.
Solar Reserve has designed and tested a way of storing solar energy in molten salt.
Solar Reserve’s website.
A large part of why I am posting these links is I have spent a great deal of time in a back-and-forth over Nuclear Fission where I have been arguing the side against it. It seems that a large number of Nuclear Fission proponents think that it is a clean, safe, sustainable power source.
When I bring up mining, they fall back on the “every source has it’s own demons” bull.
When I bring up enrichment, they fall back on the same argument as mining.
When I bring up toxic waste, I am offered anecdotal evidence from folks who have visited the radioactive waste storage tanks. Nevermind the fact that above ground storage is only for the least harmful isotopes. The terrible ones are stored hundreds of meters below ground. The key is they are stored. And must continue to be monitored for thousands of years.
When I bring up finite resources, I’m sure many haven’t even thought of it. Uranium is finite just like coal and oil. In fact, the US has already tapped out our richest sources. Their response is that, well, we have enough to last 300 years at current consumption and that’s good enough for me! What a lame response. We have enough oil to do that too. They quote websites which profess great sources like this one where Dr. H. Sterling Burnett writes his views. Turns out he has a PhD in Philosophy and works for many conservative think tanks which are often receive generous donations from large oil companies. NCPA Article.
The above four arguments against Nuclear Fission power generation often fall on deaf ears because proponents seem to write the before and after generation off. Solar and Wind have both come of age and are commercially viable and being built. Sure, they take up more space but they do not suffer from any of the above four issues.
INCIDENT (eg: MELTDOWN)
There is a fifth issue with Nuclear Fission, maybe the worst one — the possibility of an incident. However unlikely, it IS possible to lose containment on a nuclear reaction and suddenly dump radioactive waste into the atmosphere and surrounding countryside. Proponents offer their assurances that we’ve learned from our mistakes and it won’t happen again. Assurances cannot be 100%. With wind and solar then can be because they do not rely on radioactive fuel.
In my opinion, anyone who can write off the above five solid arguments against Nuclear Fission power is ignoring the facts. The first three could be ignored as long as carbon footprint is ignored and but the “nuclear is clean” argument fails too. The last two are not possible to provide 100% assurance for.
One person argued that Nuclear was cheap on the grounds of plant construction costs and power production costs which they estimated at 6 billion and $0.05 per kWHr produced respectively.
Wind power, according the the AWEA, has come down to around $0.05 per kWHr produced.
The only true obstacle remaining for intermittent sources is storage and engineers are quickly breaking down that barrier.
The second scenario in my analysis section looks at power supplied by 140MW of wind (purple), 50MW of solar (yellow), 50MW of ocean–wave (blue), and 64.3MW of biomass (green). This scenario leaves out the fossil fuel (brown) and the transmission (red). A one week run of the model in the summer from Sunday July 1, 2008 through Saturday July 7, 2008 is shown below.
As you can see, without more biomass or another way of compensating for the intermittency of wind, solar, and ocean-wave power, a purely renewable portfolio for Humboldt County would not be adequate.
Please ask me questions if you like. I’d be happy to answer them.