Though safety is a big concern ( and a major worry to a great extent) , nuclear energy is an important contributor to the energy segment. Even in India a new reactor was commissioned just couple of days ago irrespective of the massive protest against it by local residents.
It is illogical how our population has been educated to view this technology. Reality is that a nuclear plant probably releases less radiation to the environment then a petroleum or coal plant. Careful what I am comparing is the amount that was released to the environment not the amount of waste the reactor may have. Yes a nuclear plant creates nuclear waste however this waste is appropriately managed. Anyone with a Geiger counter please grab it and run to the nearest coal plant dump site of ash get a reading, look at the size of the pile and estimate how bad the situation is. Then get the same counter and go to the water source for cooling of a nuclear reactor and you will find out the readings are milder the reason is that the active nuclei remain locked in the reactor while the nuclear isotopes in the coal (like C14) are exhausted or collected in the ash dumps.
"ervin" makes excellent points right to the heart of the worst aspect of nuclear power, the ignorance of the public. spot on! it's the duty of every engineer to learn more about this subject and tell the plain truth.
Industrial power generation is dangerous in any form. Plenty of people were literally turned to cinders in oil/gas refinery explosions, but the plant was running the next week with the public's blind approval. Power generation requires smart designs, smart people and a smart public to understand how their modern lives are made possible. This passively cooled reactor design has been a long time in coming. Our society can not afford to turn away from nuclear. Obama has gotten one thing right and I thank him for it.
Complaining about the dangers of nuclear power is absurd if in the same breath you're going to complain about global warming and CO2 emissions. The population of this planet particularly in the growing economies of China, India (etc) is making billions of tons of waste from their tailpipes, factories and chimneys all over the world. Now we're going to complain about a few thousand tons of waste deposited and guarded in a concrete vault and not even open research into closing the fuel cycle (too dangerous) or even figure out how to better sequester it (too political, NIMBY)?
This nation has had a green source of power for half a century, it's called nuclear. Domestically sourced, abundant and replenishable fuel stock, no longer a new technology, and ready for deployment. The all-electric power grid won't happen with just solar and wind. This country has forgotten more about nuclear power than what we know today. It's time that trend ended.
Utility will never shrink because energy storage media small enough for home use cost in the order of 1 to 3 dollar a Watt. And for a life of 3 years with maintenance it will cost 3-6 dollars a Watt. Utilities can afford bulk storage better than a single home or community. Even solar concentrated power has better costs then these smaller systems.
Yet I get them at $80/kwhr down the street, 115amphr, 12.6vdc ones or 6.76vdc by 235amphrs retail. Though I know what and how to buy well as I use them in my EV's too, a much harder app..
And larger ones that utilities would use are even less/kwhr. Remember lead batteries last forever, you just have to reform them every 6-30 yrs depending on type and almost 100% recycled by law.
But Ervin you never answered the question, why do utilities need them? They haven't for over 100 yrs of variable supply/ demand, why now?
Enquiring minds want to know? Or have you been completely fooled by big energy propaganda?
I get PennEnergy newsletters covering the whole/each energy industry in detail sector by sector every day including power generation. Yet none have paid for a battery storage unit. And only a few others mostly paid for by grants.
Only one I know of that is needed at the end of a long rural powerline prone to blackouts where it pays it's way well especially since grants paid for it.
And only wind of RE is variable at all and it like others are predictable or on demand. Take solar perfectly tracks A/C use and why I'll only need 1kw of PV to run my eff home's A/C for 25 yrs. And PV is now down to $780/kw-$.78/wt making it a bargain.
Is hydro or biomass variable? No they like concentrated solar thermal with very low cost storage are far more valuable, like PV solar and in cases of wind like on the east coast all are on demand or made when needed.
Again please tell me where all this lack of RE variability is an actual problem?
Solar cannot replace nuclear. some one made the comment that solar can replace nuclear with much less waste i believe. Reality is that the process to manufacture solar includes considerable polution and carbon footprint. and solar only works when the sun is up. hence energy storage is needed to be 100% self reliant.
Solar IS replacing nuclear in California, aided by wind among other energy sources. The two San Onofre nuclear reactors have been permanently shut down, after being offline for 18 months. Although this is causing immediate concern for this summer's energy needs, solar in California, which leads the nation in that type of generation capacity, is gaining in leaps and bounds. For example, last month, the state's solar generation capacity broke the 2 GW barrier: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/california-solar-breaks-the-two-gigawatt-output-mark California's" goal of 33 percent renewables by 2020 has long been surpassed in Germany. Also, progress in interconnection technologies that tie renewables to the power grid are more advanced than some may realize: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/California-Fast-Tracks-Renewable-Projects
Ann, Solar energy makes sense in the Southwest. The states have the right latitude for solar collection, and lots of desert space to plant the solar farms.
Solar doesn't make sense for the northern latitudes of the country. On the coasts, tidal energy collection or wind power are more sensible. Where neither wind nor solar nor tidal nor hydro power work well, these are the places nuclear power would shine.
There is no single silver bullet which will fix this problem. I'm very very glad to see new nuclear plants. The country must get past hysteria and its mongers and begin thinking just slightly rationally.
Germany, which depends heavily on solar energy, lies between 49 degrees north and 54 degrees north latitude, more or less. In North America, that's the equivalent of southern Canada. Latitude alone, i.e., how far north an area is, is not a precise enough measurement for determining how much solar energy there is to be collected. A common measurement is available daylight hours, which varies considerably within a single latitude due to variables such as weather. This measurement also depends heavily on the type of solar collectors used: passive or active. We're all conditioned to think active solar collectors = all solar collectors. Passive solar energy, the oldest form used by humans, depends on building type, materials, design, orientation and location, and does not require any other form of energy to collect solar energy. It's capable of collecting solar energy even on cloudy days, and was used in the northern plains in the US for thousands of years before Europeans got here, as well as in the mountainous southwest where it can get quite cold in winter. Depending on materials used, it's can also be stored fairly easily. It's ideal for heating and may also be sufficient for electrical needs, depending on levels needed.
FYI The test term nukes is reserved for the weapon and over 2000 such tests have been performed sad to say they are cheaper than a reactor by orders of magnitude.
Solar is not the solution, solar poses a recycling nightmare. Currently most of our solar has heavy metals in reasonable quantities. And contrary to popular belief for the same power output solar is far more expensive.
The reason Germany and Japan are performing these decisions is the public lacking the knowledge.
Also if you took the time to read www.Nrel.gov site you would educate yourself some.
Average photovoltaic system without storage installation and life maintenance for 30 years costs 6 USD per year Watt minimum. if you compare them to the Georgia Vogtle Electric Generating Plant and based on what you told me 8 billion was needed for this project then let's do the math.
The two reactors are 2,400,000,000 Watts at 8,000,000,000 USD that puts it under 4 USD per W.
Note that it's cheaper than the 6USD per W of solar and keep in mind that reactors can work at night solar without storage does not work at night. What you talk about is uneducated and just a string of guesses. I have made a hobby of this subject. READ UP.
FYI initial quote was 700mill USD. The reason for the jump once again was "Paranoia" and public panic kicking the plant into a frenzy to test and improve everything spending needless amounts of money.
Dont forget that we only have 5 hours of reliable sunlight a day. Maybe 12 hours during the summer. That means that you need at least 4 times the capacity to cover your power grid and the storage was not included. Photovoltaic has very dim future for energy storage. Electric batteries are very inefficient loosing 10%-80% of the energy through heat during charging discharging or just idle storage. On a best case you can store energy at 80% efficiency at roughly 1$ per W ratting capital investment alone. Solar panels average 10% to 20% efficiency keep in mind cost is a big factor. What happens when you pile up charging efficiency, discharging efficiency of the batteries, inverter efficiency to that value? The reason nuclear outperforms solar is because of the compiling problems solar has. You turn nuclear reactor on and it's on for the remainder of its life. (Sun, no sun, rainy day, windy, cloudy, dust storm all these will not be a problem reactor still runs)
Your claims that nuclear is outperformed by solar are on a best case (no storage needed) best solar output and incidence angle. You add infrastructure for moving the panels, energy storage, the panels, inverters, chargers for the storage and maybe wire the same inverters to pull power from panels or batteries. The cost adds up. In Ten years I can see solar outperforming nuclear if china debacle does not ruin the market until then let's wait and see.
by 1990 pretty much everyone stopped building these. China is adding some,
they will figure out that it's a mistake.
Solar PV makes a very good peak power source, it nicely matches the daytime demand.
Wind makes excellent baseload power. A little battery storage, which we are seeing in both Hybrid PV and GE Brilliant wind turbines and we will see some terrific penetration of renewables. Don't forget Hydro provides a nice baseload for keeping the grid synced.
Nuclear won't be part of the story, the economics have been bad for 3 decades and
Post Fukushima, nobody believes the nonsense from GE.
Do you realize the GE guys had the balls to actually say "Oh It's okay at Fukushima, the plants were designed to do this to relieve pressure".
Wind and Solar are way cheaper then Nuclear and hitting parity with new coal.
Give it some time and if they can figure out the model for Vehicle 2 Grid and in the 2020's
we will see Electric cars come in as good technology and a great way to stabilize the grid.
One More Thing... Nuclear does not need the same amount of land as solar. Solar requires land on nice sunny hot dry places that have not no dust. Sadly on planet earth the only places like that are deserts which have lots of dust. Also if you compare the land that Vogtle Electric Generating Plant used to solar would have needed roughly 1square meter per 100 W that translates to 24,000,000 square meters or 24 square kilometers. Yes that is a patch of land 5 kilometers by 5 kilometers the 6USD per watt of solar i mentioned below does not calculate the cost of the land. Try buying that land in California...
Thorium must be considered as the replacement for existing uranium fueled reactor technology.
Safety and waste issues are at the top of the list for why it can (and should) replace uranium.
One of my studies both in mathematics and physics included some information in the design of the reactors as well as the safety mechanisms involved. I also have been to several conventions where the statistics behind the subject matter was studied. The safety factor for each problem was orders of magnitude higher then it needed to be. Components had 99.99% reliability with the system reliability of 99.9999%. And if you calculate the number of reactors the world has which I believe is around the 400 mark then it does not make sense to have so many accidents. The reason for this is bad execution of the program, natural disaster etc... However the technology is mature, we are more aware of the world we live in and can so prepare and predict to some degree the risks, automation has removed human error as a possibility, better periodic maintenance could bring the risk to a number low enough that calculating it may not be possible (keep in mind that the system is designed around mitigating risk and that we are not considering component risk but rather system risk). The reason for this paranoia is the cold war and the lack of knowledge the average citizen had about the subject matter. It was so bad that the designers of the nuclear magnetic resonance imaging decided to name it magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to remove the word nuclear for fear of the technology dying before it was born.
I believe that the new generation will be more supportive of this alternative.
I have a friend of mine that was in college and came home to Kiev for Spring break before the news of the Chernobyl failure was fully released. Now he no longer has a working thyroid.
Yes, the probability of failure in a modern reactor is very low, but the damage from failure is outrageously high. The full consequences from Fukushima is still being evaluated and the future of Japan's nuclear energy program is quite uncertain, with promises of making Japan nuclear free by 2030.
You are wrong tekochip. The outrageous damage in japan is not worse than a 287,000 tons of oil spilled in Caribbean Sea when Atlantic Empress collided with another ship. The problem is media. Nuclear catastrophe is just such a high key news story. People do not understand it and panic, or crowd by the TV like ants feeding on the ignorance of the media. Keep in mind that active nuclei are all around us and claiming that a nuclear reactor makes more of this stuff then supernovas is naive at best. All we do is concentrate it and collect its power. Also as an FYI
Energy Density of Gasoline ~46 MJ/kg
Energy density of Uranium 235 ~ 83,140,000 MJ/kg
Now what would you rather have ? 1kg of depleted nuclear fuel (you don't add mass to this it should weigh less since energy was absorbed.)
OR would you rather have roughly 3kG of 5,422,173 kg of CO2 (Rough estimate but correct order of magnitude)
@ervin0072002 : Your points are a real eye opener. Though the probability of failure in a modern reactor is very low, as you have rightly mentioned, the awareness of that point is low. Points like radiation of C14 is higher than that at the nuclear site must be conveyed to people. Thanks a lot for these points.
I think these two reactors are much needed and I applaud the efforts of the state to work towards bringing back this important source of power. In reality, I would hope we all agree a combination of energy sources will be necessary to fulfill our energy needs in the future. I think it's absolutely shameful the United States of American does not have a viable energy policy. Then again, we don't seem to get too much done in Washington these days. Maybe the politicians will work that out over their MONTH-LONG August vacation.
Nuclear Technology will forever be incrementally improved upon, and therein has been the problem. Each of the reactors are their own 'special snow flake'. Past and future problems with nuclear power will not be in in the design, but the national implementation.
The U.S. has 100 DIFFERENT reactors, each with their own P&ID, SOP creation, training and support, each requiring separate (but similar) considerations for personnel training, maintenance, calibration, forms, and different conceptual grasping by inspector after inspector, after inspector.... Each special snowflake of a power plant requires Special 'snow flake' validation treatment; that is where the costs become astronomical. Each system develops a hundred different opinions on criticality of each component and the incumbent education of (each new) federal, state and county inspector. The problems of the past haven't been 'technical design' problems, have all been ongoing 'technical support' problems.
These problems of the latter are only addressed in France, a countrywhere 78% of their power is nuclear from 60 reactors. They exported $3-billion worth of power last year (much of it to Germany), of which 18% was from recycled rods. The problem is addressed by having all their nuclear systems being identical. Any operation, inspection, up-date, SOP is essentially the SAME for all of their plants, not just one. A trained operator can walk into any plant, and read their operations board, and continue operation. Same with inspectors, and if revisions are called for, they are 'global.'
They also addressed the problem of high-salaries for Homer Simpson jobs: nuclear plant training and 'service' is offered as an alternative for (required) military service. An obvious positive spin-off is that their population has become highly educated regarding nuclear power in sharp contrast to the rest of the world. (When Chernobyl went critical, the French population said, 'yeah, and...?') . It is ignorance among the three 'P's here: Public, Press, and Politicians that is america's big gorilla, and ignorance of the French Solution will be fed by companies that make money supporting 'special snowflake' reactors.
I don't suffer francophilia, and I don't support old french reactor designs, but sometimes they get things right. I would look at the new one they have in the wings (Rev. III). I do support their national implementation of identical snowflakes, and recommend putting nuclear power under the aegis of a 'military' service, similar to the U.S. Coast Guard. If the '3 P's' don't grasp the situation, then the U.S. will continue to have a 'failed' nuclear policy; you can't expect your local pump or sensor manufacturer to wish for all their sales to go out to government bid.
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