Advertisement

Nuclear energy: the debate Australia has to have

By 23 July 2014 51

Event Schedule
  • 28 July 2014 at 1:00 pm

ABC 666′s Genevieve Jacobs will talk with three of the nation’s most compelling experts on an issue we cannot continue to ignore.

The world is hungry for low cost, low emissions energy, but in Australia nuclear energy is still off the agenda. Will other low emissions technology be enough? Why do we keep avoiding the nuclear power option? How dangerous is nuclear energy? How long before our entire region is powered by nuclear energy, leaving us as the odd one out?

These and other pressing issues will be addressed at the fifth STA Topical Science Forum. Make sure you don’t miss it.

Where: Theatre, lower ground floor, National Library of Australia, Parkes Place, Canberra
When: Monday 28 July 1-2.30pm
Register: here.

Read the speaker biographies here.

This Inspiring Australia initiative is supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Industry, in partnership with Science & Technology Australia and Research Training at The Australian National University.

Please login to post your comments
51 Responses to Nuclear energy: the debate Australia has to have
#1
John Moulis4:58 pm, 23 Jul 14

The question remains as it was asked in 1945 after Hiroshima, in 1976/77 during the nuclear debate, today and into the future: What do you do with the waste and how do you stop it being harmful? Until we have an answer to that question, the nuclear option should stay off the agenda.

#2
HiddenDragon5:34 pm, 23 Jul 14

Reported “clean-up” costs of tens of billions of pounds for UK reactors are terrifying, and suggestions that the same problems will not occur with the current generation of reactors seem too good to be true. Much better that we stick with what we’ve got for baseload until (how ever long that might take) there are reliable, affordable, renewable alternatives.

#3
justin heywood6:58 pm, 23 Jul 14

…”Why do we keep avoiding the nuclear option” asks the OP.

I’ll tell you why. Opposition to nuclear energy is an article of faith for the green left. For most it’s not based on a careful consideration of the science or a reasonable consideration of how it compares with existing power sources.

Anyone with a functioning brain can see that our coal and petroleum based power sources are rapidly wrecking the environment, and that workable existing alternatives (e.g. solar, wind) cannot fill the gap. But the most likely possible solution, nuclear energy, is not even seriously considered, mostly for political and ideological reasons.

The green/left would like us to believe that somehow, somewhere, a perfect solution to this problem exists – that 7 billion people can continue to live our lifestyle with no effect on the environment. We can’t of course, but that’s not their problem, for they never have to compromise.

For me, the alternatives are either to continue with existing technologies with a certainty of environmental disaster, or choose a nuclear alternative with some attendant risk but a reasonable possibility of using improved science to mitigate the dangers.

#4
chewy148:54 pm, 23 Jul 14

justin heywood said :

…”Why do we keep avoiding the nuclear option” asks the OP.

I’ll tell you why. Opposition to nuclear energy is an article of faith for the green left. For most it’s not based on a careful consideration of the science or a reasonable consideration of how it compares with existing power sources.

Anyone with a functioning brain can see that our coal and petroleum based power sources are rapidly wrecking the environment, and that workable existing alternatives (e.g. solar, wind) cannot fill the gap. But the most likely possible solution, nuclear energy, is not even seriously considered, mostly for political and ideological reasons.

The green/left would like us to believe that somehow, somewhere, a perfect solution to this problem exists – that 7 billion people can continue to live our lifestyle with no effect on the environment. We can’t of course, but that’s not their problem, for they never have to compromise.

For me, the alternatives are either to continue with existing technologies with a certainty of environmental disaster, or choose a nuclear alternative with some attendant risk but a reasonable possibility of using improved science to mitigate the dangers.

Although I generally agree with your comment with regards to nuclear, if you want to make a political argument about it, I’m assuming you think a lot of people on the Right don’t have functioning brains? I believe there’s a few of them high up in our government.

#5
justin heywood10:29 pm, 23 Jul 14

chewy14 said :

Although I generally agree with your comment with regards to nuclear, if you want to make a political argument about it, I’m assuming you think a lot of people on the Right don’t have functioning brains? I believe there’s a few of them high up in our government.

Yes, though if it’s not a political issue, what is it? It’s certainly not a scientific one.

As to your second comment about the ‘brains of the Right’. Abbott is a Rhodes scholar. I don’t for a moment think he doubts the science of climate change. It’s political, and in my opinion shameful.

But is denying the problem because of politics any worse than opposing the only practical solution because of politics?

#6
dungfungus10:32 pm, 23 Jul 14

John Moulis said :

The question remains as it was asked in 1945 after Hiroshima, in 1976/77 during the nuclear debate, today and into the future: What do you do with the waste and how do you stop it being harmful? Until we have an answer to that question, the nuclear option should stay off the agenda.

Getting rid of the waste is a no brainer. Most of Australia is wasteland that is uninhabited. In reality it could be dropped from an aircraft and no one would stumble on it in a thousand years but it could be buried in very stable geological conditions a few feet down to make people feel OK.
I think Bob Hawke wanted to do something like this but it was so simple the bureaucrats couldn’t understand that sort of concept.
It’s a bit like hitting the flush button on the cistern in the bathroom – it’s out of site/out of mind but we know it is being taken care of and it isn’t harming the environment.

#7
Hosinator12:12 am, 24 Jul 14

HiddenDragon said :

Much better that we stick with what we’ve got for baseload until (how ever long that might take) there are reliable, affordable, renewable alternatives.

justin heywood said :

Anyone with a functioning brain can see that our coal and petroleum based power sources are rapidly wrecking the environment, and that workable existing alternatives (e.g. solar, wind) cannot fill the gap. But the most likely possible solution, nuclear energy, is not even seriously considered, mostly for political and ideological reasons.

The green/left would like us to believe that somehow, somewhere, a perfect solution to this problem exists – that 7 billion people can continue to live our lifestyle with no effect on the environment. We can’t of course, but that’s not their problem, for they never have to compromise.

Both these posts see power generation as being centralised. It doesn’t have to be. The future of power generation (and it’s already here, Germany is a good example) is decentralised power generation. Think solar panels but on a every residential, commercial building, schools, stadiums, toilet blocks, you name it, you can cover it in solar panels.

Long hauling power from hundreds of kilometres away is simply madness when you can generate it on your own roof and if you generate too much, share it with a neighbour.

By centralising power we only serve the power companies and their lobbyists. Legislative change in favour of decentralised power is not that difficult. Have a look at the city of Freiburg in Germany and what they have achieved. In comparison, Australia is living in the dark ages and will continue to do so if we don’t change our way of thinking and operating.

#8
Diggety1:00 am, 24 Jul 14

Those that have doubts regarding waste, decommissioning, safety, technology etc should definitely go to the debate.

#9
chewy147:36 am, 24 Jul 14

justin heywood said :

chewy14 said :

Although I generally agree with your comment with regards to nuclear, if you want to make a political argument about it, I’m assuming you think a lot of people on the Right don’t have functioning brains? I believe there’s a few of them high up in our government.

Yes, though if it’s not a political issue, what is it? It’s certainly not a scientific one.

As to your second comment about the ‘brains of the Right’. Abbott is a Rhodes scholar. I don’t for a moment think he doubts the science of climate change. It’s political, and in my opinion shameful.

But is denying the problem because of politics any worse than opposing the only practical solution because of politics?

No, and it’s disgraceful that some people put politics before science. If the risks of nuclear technology can be managed and if the economics stack up, then why wouldn’t we use it.

#10
dungfungus9:21 am, 24 Jul 14

Diggety said :

Those that have doubts regarding waste, decommissioning, safety, technology etc should definitely go to the debate.

There doesn’t seem to be any problems with decommissioning a coal powered power station and the open cut coal mines that supply their fuel can be revegetated (it is a condition of the mining/extraction lease in fact).
I am not up to speed on nuclear power station decommissioning and if we are going to have a fair-dinkum debate we should also look at the problems of decommissioning wind and solar factories (let’s not use that fraudulent “farm” word anymore).

#11
pajs10:26 am, 24 Jul 14

I’d be happy to see nuclear power in Australia, so long as the industry paid for their own insurance and the costs of decomissioning, clean-up and waste disposal. The tax-payer should not be on the hook for these.

Aside from that, if they can find a nice coastal location to give them access to the water they need (powering their own sea water desal) and a sensible run to the grid, then let them rip.

The fundamental problem I see with nuclear in Australia is the cost, compared to alternative zero or low emission generation technologies. I can’t see it being financially viable unless propped up with massive subsidies and cost/risk shifts to government and the tax payer.

#12
HiddenDragon11:40 am, 24 Jul 14

Hosinator said :

HiddenDragon said :

Much better that we stick with what we’ve got for baseload until (how ever long that might take) there are reliable, affordable, renewable alternatives.

justin heywood said :

Anyone with a functioning brain can see that our coal and petroleum based power sources are rapidly wrecking the environment, and that workable existing alternatives (e.g. solar, wind) cannot fill the gap. But the most likely possible solution, nuclear energy, is not even seriously considered, mostly for political and ideological reasons.

The green/left would like us to believe that somehow, somewhere, a perfect solution to this problem exists – that 7 billion people can continue to live our lifestyle with no effect on the environment. We can’t of course, but that’s not their problem, for they never have to compromise.

Both these posts see power generation as being centralised. It doesn’t have to be. The future of power generation (and it’s already here, Germany is a good example) is decentralised power generation. Think solar panels but on a every residential, commercial building, schools, stadiums, toilet blocks, you name it, you can cover it in solar panels.

Long hauling power from hundreds of kilometres away is simply madness when you can generate it on your own roof and if you generate too much, share it with a neighbour.

By centralising power we only serve the power companies and their lobbyists. Legislative change in favour of decentralised power is not that difficult. Have a look at the city of Freiburg in Germany and what they have achieved. In comparison, Australia is living in the dark ages and will continue to do so if we don’t change our way of thinking and operating.

Are the Germans using solar for baseload as well? If so, how does it work?

#13
dungfungus12:27 pm, 24 Jul 14

HiddenDragon said :

Hosinator said :

HiddenDragon said :

Much better that we stick with what we’ve got for baseload until (how ever long that might take) there are reliable, affordable, renewable alternatives.

justin heywood said :

Anyone with a functioning brain can see that our coal and petroleum based power sources are rapidly wrecking the environment, and that workable existing alternatives (e.g. solar, wind) cannot fill the gap. But the most likely possible solution, nuclear energy, is not even seriously considered, mostly for political and ideological reasons.

The green/left would like us to believe that somehow, somewhere, a perfect solution to this problem exists – that 7 billion people can continue to live our lifestyle with no effect on the environment. We can’t of course, but that’s not their problem, for they never have to compromise.

Both these posts see power generation as being centralised. It doesn’t have to be. The future of power generation (and it’s already here, Germany is a good example) is decentralised power generation. Think solar panels but on a every residential, commercial building, schools, stadiums, toilet blocks, you name it, you can cover it in solar panels.

Long hauling power from hundreds of kilometres away is simply madness when you can generate it on your own roof and if you generate too much, share it with a neighbour.

By centralising power we only serve the power companies and their lobbyists. Legislative change in favour of decentralised power is not that difficult. Have a look at the city of Freiburg in Germany and what they have achieved. In comparison, Australia is living in the dark ages and will continue to do so if we don’t change our way of thinking and operating.

Are the Germans using solar for baseload as well? If so, how does it work?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer.
As far as I know they buy electricity generated from nuclear power in France and coal in Poland when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

#14
HiddenDragon5:58 pm, 24 Jul 14

dungfungus said :

HiddenDragon said :

Hosinator said :

HiddenDragon said :

Much better that we stick with what we’ve got for baseload until (how ever long that might take) there are reliable, affordable, renewable alternatives.

justin heywood said :

Anyone with a functioning brain can see that our coal and petroleum based power sources are rapidly wrecking the environment, and that workable existing alternatives (e.g. solar, wind) cannot fill the gap. But the most likely possible solution, nuclear energy, is not even seriously considered, mostly for political and ideological reasons.

The green/left would like us to believe that somehow, somewhere, a perfect solution to this problem exists – that 7 billion people can continue to live our lifestyle with no effect on the environment. We can’t of course, but that’s not their problem, for they never have to compromise.

Both these posts see power generation as being centralised. It doesn’t have to be. The future of power generation (and it’s already here, Germany is a good example) is decentralised power generation. Think solar panels but on a every residential, commercial building, schools, stadiums, toilet blocks, you name it, you can cover it in solar panels.

Long hauling power from hundreds of kilometres away is simply madness when you can generate it on your own roof and if you generate too much, share it with a neighbour.

By centralising power we only serve the power companies and their lobbyists. Legislative change in favour of decentralised power is not that difficult. Have a look at the city of Freiburg in Germany and what they have achieved. In comparison, Australia is living in the dark ages and will continue to do so if we don’t change our way of thinking and operating.

Are the Germans using solar for baseload as well? If so, how does it work?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer.
As far as I know they buy electricity generated from nuclear power in France and coal in Poland when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

I assumed it would be along those lines. The recent Four Corners, which was predictably pro-renewables (complete with cameo appearance by our Simon and his solar panels) suggested that molten salt is one of the few (if not the only) currently workable technologies for storing solar-generated energy and re-converting it back into electricity when the sun isn’t shining. It’s still fairly new and – as reported – rather expensive at this stage.

#15
OpenYourMind6:15 pm, 24 Jul 14

The 1950s called and it wants its “so cheap you can’t bill for it” energy back. This is 2014, Nuclear isn’t even in the race. In fact, it doesn’t even have a race entry. Nuclear is mind bogglingly expensive. It simply will not happen in Australia and people proposing it are simply wasting their breath.

Even if we were stupid enough to decide to build a plant and it somehow magically escaped rampant opposition and political bounce arounds, it would take an absolute minimum of 10 years to build and probably closer to 20. In that time frame, solar will be practically free and potentially battery storage will have improved by a factor of up to 10.

#16
Pork Hunt8:08 pm, 24 Jul 14

OpenYourMind said :

The 1950s called and it wants its “so cheap you can’t bill for it” energy back. This is 2014, Nuclear isn’t even in the race. In fact, it doesn’t even have a race entry. Nuclear is mind bogglingly expensive. It simply will not happen in Australia and people proposing it are simply wasting their breath.

Even if we were stupid enough to decide to build a plant and it somehow magically escaped rampant opposition and political bounce arounds, it would take an absolute minimum of 10 years to build and probably closer to 20. In that time frame, solar will be practically free and potentially battery storage will have improved by a factor of up to 10.

Why so long to build a nuclear reactor? Are they built by Streeton Drive road menders?

#17
Hosinator10:44 pm, 24 Jul 14

HiddenDragon said :

Hosinator said :

HiddenDragon said :

Much better that we stick with what we’ve got for baseload until (how ever long that might take) there are reliable, affordable, renewable alternatives.

justin heywood said :

Anyone with a functioning brain can see that our coal and petroleum based power sources are rapidly wrecking the environment, and that workable existing alternatives (e.g. solar, wind) cannot fill the gap. But the most likely possible solution, nuclear energy, is not even seriously considered, mostly for political and ideological reasons.

The green/left would like us to believe that somehow, somewhere, a perfect solution to this problem exists – that 7 billion people can continue to live our lifestyle with no effect on the environment. We can’t of course, but that’s not their problem, for they never have to compromise.

Both these posts see power generation as being centralised. It doesn’t have to be. The future of power generation (and it’s already here, Germany is a good example) is decentralised power generation. Think solar panels but on a every residential, commercial building, schools, stadiums, toilet blocks, you name it, you can cover it in solar panels.

Long hauling power from hundreds of kilometres away is simply madness when you can generate it on your own roof and if you generate too much, share it with a neighbour.

By centralising power we only serve the power companies and their lobbyists. Legislative change in favour of decentralised power is not that difficult. Have a look at the city of Freiburg in Germany and what they have achieved. In comparison, Australia is living in the dark ages and will continue to do so if we don’t change our way of thinking and operating.

Are the Germans using solar for baseload as well? If so, how does it work?

The good old baseload argument. Electricity supplied from any source needs to provide reliable and continuous power, with flexibility of output to match daily and seasonal fluctuations in demand.
Can this be done with renewables, yes. In the easiest sense you need a range of renewables, wind, wave, solar, geothermal etc. Then you need storage, these can be grouped into the following:

*mechanical – flywheels, pumped hydro
*thermal – ice storage, hot water, molten salts
*electrochemical – batteries, high-temperature batteries, flow cells and fuel cells
*direct – capacitors and superconducting magnetic energy storage

In a decentralised model, more than likely batteries could be used. It raises a more important topic, if I go back to what I said above.

“Electricity supplied from any source needs to provide reliable and continuous power, with flexibility of output to match daily and seasonal fluctuations in demand.”

To reduce our reliance on baseload or centralised power we need to look at two other changes in our habits or to legislation. These include better building practices, energy passive homes and buildings, insulation, reducing our reliance on artificial heating and cooling and thirdly more efficient electrical appliances, lighting, fridges, TVs etc.
When you combine all three, renewable energy, energy passive buildings and efficient electrical products, the argument for baseload falls away.

It’s about consumption, if you reduce consumption you reduce the need for baseload. For example the average home in the UK uses over 200kW/hrs of electricity annualy, in Germany new homes are legislated to draw no more than 75kW/hrs of electricity and they are considering revising this down to 35kW/hrs.

But back to answering your questions specifically about Germany and their baseload.

This is a statement from their Renewable Energy Agency:
Clearly, on many days in the year, no traditional base load power plants – those that run year-round – will be needed at all. This will be the case if the feed-in from renewables is particularly high and consumption particularly low. The traditional base load power plants will have to be shut down completely at these times. If the residual load then increases again, i.e. if electricity generation from renewable energies drops, and/or the demand for electricity rises, power plants which can provide regular energy fast from a standstill will be needed. But that is exactly what base load power plants cannot achieve. Nuclear power plants for example have a technically mandated minimum down time of approx. 15 to 24 hours, and it takes up to 2 days to get them up and running again.

#18
HenryBG9:22 am, 25 Jul 14

HiddenDragon said :

Are the Germans using solar for baseload as well? If so, how does it work?

“Baseload” is the excuse given for old-fashioned and now obsolete power plants that inefficiently cannot vary supply to meet demand.

Germany is busy doing away with them and replacing them with power plants that produce power on demand.
This is their “Energiewende”, and Australia’s failure to cotton on is part of the reason we suffer decades of retardation in comparison with 1st-world countries who are implementing modern power-generating technologies and systems.

justin heywood said :

…”Why do we keep avoiding the nuclear option” asks the OP.

I’ll tell you why. Opposition to nuclear energy is an article of faith for the green left. For most it’s not based on a careful consideration of the science or a reasonable consideration of how it compares with existing power sources.

Wrong.
Support for nuclear energy is an article of faith for the Murdoch-lackey Tea Party. For all of them, it’s not based on careful consideration of the science or a reasonable consideration of how it compares with existing power sources.

Nuclear exists nowhere without massive government subsidy, and nowhere is nuclear able to obtain insurance or permanently deal with the waste it generates.

Who’s paying for Fukushima? The taxpayer.
Who’s paying for Chernobyl? The taxpayer.

Nuclear is simply a phenomenally expensive and dangerous 1950′s technology used to boil water. It’s been tried and it has failed. It is simply not a viable option for generating power.

http://blog.cleanenergy.org/files/2009/04/lazard2009_levelizedcostofenergy.pdf
Shows you that Nuclear can only be made to appear comparably economic with coal (just) by excluding many of the costs and subsidies it relies on.

Nuclear is a dead duck, and it is amusing to see this “let’s have a debate” PR being emitted on a regular annual cycle, together with the doofuses who fall for it and out themselves as unthinking supporters of this nutty right-wing industry wholly designed to redistribute vast wads of money from the taxpayer to the handful of dodgy corporations that stand to gain from it.

#19
dungfungus9:31 am, 25 Jul 14

Hosinator said :

HiddenDragon said :

Hosinator said :

HiddenDragon said :

Much better that we stick with what we’ve got for baseload until (how ever long that might take) there are reliable, affordable, renewable alternatives.

justin heywood said :

Anyone with a functioning brain can see that our coal and petroleum based power sources are rapidly wrecking the environment, and that workable existing alternatives (e.g. solar, wind) cannot fill the gap. But the most likely possible solution, nuclear energy, is not even seriously considered, mostly for political and ideological reasons.

The green/left would like us to believe that somehow, somewhere, a perfect solution to this problem exists – that 7 billion people can continue to live our lifestyle with no effect on the environment. We can’t of course, but that’s not their problem, for they never have to compromise.

Both these posts see power generation as being centralised. It doesn’t have to be. The future of power generation (and it’s already here, Germany is a good example) is decentralised power generation. Think solar panels but on a every residential, commercial building, schools, stadiums, toilet blocks, you name it, you can cover it in solar panels.

Long hauling power from hundreds of kilometres away is simply madness when you can generate it on your own roof and if you generate too much, share it with a neighbour.

By centralising power we only serve the power companies and their lobbyists. Legislative change in favour of decentralised power is not that difficult. Have a look at the city of Freiburg in Germany and what they have achieved. In comparison, Australia is living in the dark ages and will continue to do so if we don’t change our way of thinking and operating.

Are the Germans using solar for baseload as well? If so, how does it work?

The good old baseload argument. Electricity supplied from any source needs to provide reliable and continuous power, with flexibility of output to match daily and seasonal fluctuations in demand.
Can this be done with renewables, yes. In the easiest sense you need a range of renewables, wind, wave, solar, geothermal etc. Then you need storage, these can be grouped into the following:

*mechanical – flywheels, pumped hydro
*thermal – ice storage, hot water, molten salts
*electrochemical – batteries, high-temperature batteries, flow cells and fuel cells
*direct – capacitors and superconducting magnetic energy storage

In a decentralised model, more than likely batteries could be used. It raises a more important topic, if I go back to what I said above.

“Electricity supplied from any source needs to provide reliable and continuous power, with flexibility of output to match daily and seasonal fluctuations in demand.”

To reduce our reliance on baseload or centralised power we need to look at two other changes in our habits or to legislation. These include better building practices, energy passive homes and buildings, insulation, reducing our reliance on artificial heating and cooling and thirdly more efficient electrical appliances, lighting, fridges, TVs etc.
When you combine all three, renewable energy, energy passive buildings and efficient electrical products, the argument for baseload falls away.

It’s about consumption, if you reduce consumption you reduce the need for baseload. For example the average home in the UK uses over 200kW/hrs of electricity annualy, in Germany new homes are legislated to draw no more than 75kW/hrs of electricity and they are considering revising this down to 35kW/hrs.

But back to answering your questions specifically about Germany and their baseload.

This is a statement from their Renewable Energy Agency:
Clearly, on many days in the year, no traditional base load power plants – those that run year-round – will be needed at all. This will be the case if the feed-in from renewables is particularly high and consumption particularly low. The traditional base load power plants will have to be shut down completely at these times. If the residual load then increases again, i.e. if electricity generation from renewable energies drops, and/or the demand for electricity rises, power plants which can provide regular energy fast from a standstill will be needed. But that is exactly what base load power plants cannot achieve. Nuclear power plants for example have a technically mandated minimum down time of approx. 15 to 24 hours, and it takes up to 2 days to get them up and running again.

What you have really presented is a case for retention of coal fired generated electricity supplemented by renewables.
The ACT Government won’t even consider hybrid flywheel trams so what hope is there of them grasping the newer technologies you have alluded to.
The only “short notice baseload” power available can only be from emergency diesel generators of the types installed at hospitals and the like.

#20
justin heywood10:06 am, 25 Jul 14

Hosinator said :

The good old base load argument…[/quote

Ah, the good old hand-waving solution.

Some of the solutions you propose for replacing base load capacity might reasonably contribute to the solution – indeed some (for example hydro storage) are already in use here on a small scale. But many others are theoretical and untried – some may indeed work and prove useful, some undoubtedly won’t.

But to discuss these alternative technologies as though they are ready to supply our base load ignores the fact that they are untried, particularly at the scale required to reliably supply base load to the country when needed and for as long as needed.

You are also assuming that these alternative technologies (untried at the required scale) will be cheaper than nuclear and have a smaller environmental footprint than nuclear. These are unknowns.

The search for an alternative to fossil fuels has been going on for decades. In the 70s those apposing coal-fired power claimed that solar and wind were the alternatives. The reality has emerged that they are not a replacement for base load. Now new alternative technologies are being proposed as solutions, even though they are always ‘just around the corner’ (or just require ‘another 5 years research’ to channel the SGU). Mostly they are not practical alternatives, they are ideas.

All this time nuclear energy has been available to us, a proven technology that Australia is uniquely placed to take up . But has never been considered in this country – and not for any scientific reason (and this was my point), but for the for the simple reason that the subject has always been too hot politically.

Whatever the solution, implementing it will take courage and leadership from both the political left and right, virtues sadly lacking in our political class. I suspect we’ll still be arguing about it when it’s all too late.

#21
HenryBG11:00 am, 25 Jul 14

dungfungus said :

The only “short notice baseload” power available can only be from emergency diesel generators of the types installed at hospitals and the like.

Weirdly, your use of the word “only” appears to contradict reality:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peaking_power_plant
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Load_following_power_plant

Not to mention 21st-Century developments such as :
http://entelios.com/demand-response/

#22
dungfungus2:11 pm, 25 Jul 14

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

The only “short notice baseload” power available can only be from emergency diesel generators of the types installed at hospitals and the like.

Weirdly, your use of the word “only” appears to contradict reality:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peaking_power_plant
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Load_following_power_plant

Not to mention 21st-Century developments such as :
http://entelios.com/demand-response/

As far as I can ascertain there is only one (gas fired)peaking plant in Australia and it is used an average of 20 days a year. This is a very expensive and inefficient way of providing a solution to the problem. Correct me if I am wrong but Entelios isn’t a peaking power generator but merely a computerised management system for optimising generation capabilities to meet demands.
I don’t have a problem with existing diesel emergecy generators by the way. They are cheaper in all respects and don’t need fuel from a remote source like gas fired peakers.
I am not receptive to paying more and more for electricty either and the move to “clean energy” is not welcome because this is what is driving the price increases. My electricty consumption has dropped 10% but my bills have gone up 10% in the past 12 months. This isn’t acceptable.

#23
watto233:07 pm, 25 Jul 14

I realise that waste and catastrophes are the major reasons not to go nuclear. Its a shame that the same line of thinking doesn’t apply to coal and gas. The number of people who die per annum due to mining, the number of people affected by waste and pollution. Thing is its usually in poorer third world countries, so according to most politicians they don’t count that much and they don’t get to vote for them either.

Debate and argument is always driven by personal and political ideologies and you can twist the facts to convince your constituents quite easily! Pro nuclear would find it hard, because catastrophes usually make for news and people make decisions based on the media.

#24
OpenYourMind4:04 pm, 25 Jul 14

dungfungus said :

HenryBG said :

dungfungus said :

The only “short notice baseload” power available can only be from emergency diesel generators of the types installed at hospitals and the like.

Weirdly, your use of the word “only” appears to contradict reality:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peaking_power_plant
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Load_following_power_plant

Not to mention 21st-Century developments such as :
http://entelios.com/demand-response/

As far as I can ascertain there is only one (gas fired)peaking plant in Australia and it is used an average of 20 days a year. This is a very expensive and inefficient way of providing a solution to the problem. Correct me if I am wrong but Entelios isn’t a peaking power generator but merely a computerised management system for optimising generation capabilities to meet demands.
I don’t have a problem with existing diesel emergecy generators by the way. They are cheaper in all respects and don’t need fuel from a remote source like gas fired peakers.
I am not receptive to paying more and more for electricty either and the move to “clean energy” is not welcome because this is what is driving the price increases. My electricty consumption has dropped 10% but my bills have gone up 10% in the past 12 months. This isn’t acceptable.

You may wish to read this article:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/07/solar-has-won-even-if-coal-were-free-to-burn-power-stations-couldnt-compete

Solar is getting so cheap that people don’t need subsidies anymore. It’s viable on its own and is threatening the business model of coal. Now jump forward a few years to when battery tech has made the odd leap and the entire energy game will be changed for good. Already you can buy a home inverter with lithium battery storage from SMA that will store power for times when you need it (or to shape against off/on peak costs).

It’s thought that Tesla is now buying battery storage at less than $200US per kWh for its cars and is about to spend $5billion building a ‘Gigafactory’ to make batteries for 500,000cars a year. Compare this with Nuclear construction cost of up to $8k per kW. http://www.synapse-energy.com/Downloads/SynapsePaper.2008-07.0.Nuclear-Plant-Construction-Costs.A0022.pdf

#25
HenryBG5:21 pm, 25 Jul 14

dungfungus said :

I am not receptive to paying more and more for electricty either and the move to “clean energy” is not welcome because this is what is driving the price increases. My electricty consumption has dropped 10% but my bills have gone up 10% in the past 12 months. This isn’t acceptable.

Why on earth would you want to believe that progress towards modern technologies is behind the spike in electricity prices since 2000?
(Have you been reading The Australian?)
http://electionwatch.edu.au/sites/default/files/pictures/Screen%20Shot%202013-07-15%20at%204.17.38%20PM.png

#26
HiddenDragon6:09 pm, 25 Jul 14

OpenYourMind said :

The 1950s called and it wants its “so cheap you can’t bill for it” energy back. This is 2014, Nuclear isn’t even in the race. In fact, it doesn’t even have a race entry. Nuclear is mind bogglingly expensive. It simply will not happen in Australia and people proposing it are simply wasting their breath.

Even if we were stupid enough to decide to build a plant and it somehow magically escaped rampant opposition and political bounce arounds, it would take an absolute minimum of 10 years to build and probably closer to 20. In that time frame, solar will be practically free and potentially battery storage will have improved by a factor of up to 10.

Well, that sounds fairly good. People who take a closer interest in the technical details of the various non-nuclear technologies can have their debates (straw man and otherwise), and I’ll take comfort in the fact that alternatives which might cost more to begin with, but which are much less risky, in a number of ways, should eventually do the job.

Provided we don’t have blackouts/brownouts because cranks, zealots and idealists kill off reliable sources before the alternatives are truly up to the task (in cost and reliability terms), that will be fine by me.

#27
dungfungus7:26 pm, 25 Jul 14

watto23 said :

I realise that waste and catastrophes are the major reasons not to go nuclear. Its a shame that the same line of thinking doesn’t apply to coal and gas. The number of people who die per annum due to mining, the number of people affected by waste and pollution. Thing is its usually in poorer third world countries, so according to most politicians they don’t count that much and they don’t get to vote for them either.

Debate and argument is always driven by personal and political ideologies and you can twist the facts to convince your constituents quite easily! Pro nuclear would find it hard, because catastrophes usually make for news and people make decisions based on the media.

Thousands of coal miners have died from “black lung” and silceousis. Still more die from underground mishaps. There have been large losses of life when trains carrying gas have derailed and pipelines have ruptured.
Nuclear power was invented by scientists. Somehow, these scientists are untrusworthy unlike the climate scientists that have the same academic status. I wish someone would explain why this is so.

#28
justin heywood10:55 pm, 25 Jul 14

dungfungus said :

Nuclear power was invented by scientists. Somehow, these scientists are untrusworthy unlike the climate scientists that have the same academic status. I wish someone would explain why this is so.

I’ll have a stab dungers.

1.Scientists are people. Like any other group of people, they will have different views, based on their personal history and resulting prejudices and what scientific work has taught them. Thus no two scientists would ever agree on everything.

2. ‘Science’ isn’t a set of facts – we should think of science as a set of theories, some of which have been tested thoroughly enough to be accepted generally as facts. But most theories are in various states of being either accepted, modified or disproved.

Thus unfortunately, for those looking for scientific ‘facts’ , there will almost always be a level of uncertainty. The way a layman can overcome this is by looking to see if a strong ‘consensus’ has emerged on any one topic.

I would argue that in the case of anthropogenic climate change, a clear consensus has emerged, and that, for political reasons the minority views of the small number of dissenting scientists have been amplified significantly.

I would also argue that there is no scientific consensus on the benefit/risk of nuclear energy. The debate is not usually a scientific one, but is divided generally along political lines, with both sides cherry picking the science that supports their views.

I know you will disagree with some of this and I hope I don’t sound too patronising. I do appreciate the fact that although you hold some minority views and post here frequently, you almost never sink to name calling or abuse and thus have generally raised the tone of the place.

#29
jasmine12:45 pm, 26 Jul 14

It is not really a discussion that needs to be had. It has been had before and generally most Australians are concerned about clean ups and risks of contamination especially with examples like Fukushima and Chernobyl to learn from. When the Howard government had this discussion the map that was produced marking possible sites for nuclear power reactors, many across the Eastern seaboard (and some other areas) including those in high natural disaster areas. Unfortunately human beings faced with a strong profit motive, often outweighs the cost of risk management and public safety.

There is some great work being done on renewable energy such as solar, geothermal, wind and wave. Much safer and a never-ending supply

#30
wildturkeycanoe8:34 am, 27 Jul 14

We, Australia, should avoid nuclear power with even more intensity than we have recently begun to do with the asbestos problem. The lessons learned now from using a product thought decades ago to be safe and cost effective, should be raising alarm bells with a product that we already know is a health hazard. Like asbestos, once we’ve mined it out of the ground and processed it, there is no way to make it safe again so we simply bury it back underground. Unlike asbestos though if it leaks from its containment it goes straight through the soil into water courses, into the air and into the surrounds. As difficult as radiation is to contain, the problem of long term storage will raise its ugly head in perhaps centuries, due to natural conditions such as erosion, earthquakes and such. Who knows, in 100 years there may be a drastic change in climatic or economical conditions that make these remote storage areas viable again for human life, but remain uninhabitable due to the radiation.

Environmental risks aside, you’d have to have some very strict security in place, 24 hours a day. Just think about this scenario, years have passed with debate over the location of the dump, it gets approved and contaminated drums of poison are buried. Extremists with their own ideologies drive out in the middle of the night, dig up just one barrel and make a few hundred dirty bombs. The whole country could be held to ransom with a threat such as this, a threat that didn’t exist until we provided the criminals with a weapon as lethal as radioactive waste. This stuff has to be guarded just as well as any of our defense sites and who is going to pay for all that? Out of sight does not mean out of mind and the problem will not just go away, it never goes away.

Instead of spending money on trying to make a dangerous product, an ingredient for disaster, into an energy crisis solution, we as a planet should be looking for other ways. Further more, just because we have vast areas of unused and uninhabited land, there is no excuse to justify turning it into a rubbish dump for the rest of the world. We might sell the uranium to them, but it does not mean we are responsible for disposing of the waste when they are finished with it. By that logic we should be able to take our weekly household rubbish back to the supermarket and let them deal with it.

This article refers to a “debate” about nuclear energy. Usually debates have people who are in favor of and opposed to an idea. It seems the numbers have been stacked on this one, as the speakers are all profiting from nuclear technologies through their lucrative government funded university projects and scientific publications on the subject. Where are the opponents’ voices? Where are the victims of nuclear disasters, the people who would be affected by the dumping of waste on their homeland and the taxpayers who will have to pay to subsidize these costly installations? Unfortunately I can’t make this event, but I’d like to know if audience participation is encouraged.

In this instance, relating to nuclear energy and it’s disposal, I am proud to be called a NIMBY and it is a big 7,692,024 square kilometre block.

Sponsors
RiotACT Proudly Supports
Advertisement
Copyright © 2014 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.