In 1988 the Soviet Union and India announced they would build two new reactors, and the US fiercely protested at the time. The Soviet Union fell apart, and the Russians didn't resume the project for another 10 years, but construction eventually began in 2002. In 2006 the US and India reached an agreement to cooperate and the US lobbied for an exemption for India from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which was granted. It quickly became obvious that everyone wanted a slice of the Indian nuclear energy market.
Disregarding climate change for a moment, it's clear that the energy demand in India is increasing, and despite a rapid rise in the deployment of renewables, utility-scale generation is still 75% coal. This contributes greatly to pollution. Local coal lower quality than elsewhere, requiring more per unit of power. Nuclear will be an important complement to renewables as the energy mix slowly migrates off of coal. Unlike the US, which is awash in cheap natural gas that's readily stored and piped where needed, helping to even out the mismatch between solar generation and demand, India has very little natural gas, so it can't afford to pursue a strategy that deemphasizes nuclear energy.
Today they are an even more important and influential geopolitical ally, and the pollution argument you raise is as important as you say, but the concerns about a power supplying them with nuclear weapons ala the alleged Israel/US history is no longer a part of it (I assume).
...then again, I could be completely wrong in any of this. Comments welcome.
The treaty essentially states that only 5 countries (US, UK, France, China, Russia) can have nuclear weapons. India says this is discriminatory: either all countries denuclearize or other countries can develop nuclear weapons.
afaik india has a good record of preserving its nuclear secrets, and not doing "proliferation" to other countries.
Of course, such policies can be changed whenever India would want to.
Part of the treaty is that those 5 are supposed to (gradually) denuclearise, and also to assist with civilian power efforts.
and how is that going for the big players since the treaty was singed ?
As much as I would like nuclear weapons gone, I don't see it as being done to a satisfactory level that assuages India's concerns. I don't think anyone has made a real commitment to denuclearizing, akin to what South Africa did a while ago.
China just recently used its military to annex territory the size of India. The largest territory grab since Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were piling up conquests. That's after annexing Tibet (larger than Colombia) immediately after WW2. Next they plan to annex the world's 21st largest economy and one of the largest economies in Asia in Taiwan. Most of China's neighbors are openly terrified of it, including South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.
Meanwhile the US has maintained stable, massive borders with Canada and Mexico for a very long time, despite being comically more powerful in every regard. The US isn't attempting to annex the Gulf of Mexico away from Mexico & Co., even though it trivially could and nobody could stop it. Neither Canada nor Mexico are actually afraid of the US.
Canada's border with the US has been the largest, longest non-militarized border in world history. India, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam (arguably Russia as well) are in perpetual military stand-off mode on their territory and borders with China.
Dozens of countries allow the US to station its superpower military inside their borders, with zero fear of being annexed or invaded for conquest. Japan, Germany, Poland, South Korea, the Baltics, et al. are not afraid the US is suddenly going to decide to try to annex them or their territory.
>China just recently used its military to annex territory the size of India
I am not sure what you are talking about.
 Perkovich, G. (2001). India's nuclear bomb: The impact on global proliferation. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. <https://books.google.com/books?id=UDA9dUryS8EC>
 Ramana, M V (2012). The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India. Penguin Books Limited. <https://books.google.com/books?id=5m8Atq0ncrwC>
"The nuclear device was built using plutonium obtained from the 40-megawatt Cirus research reactor, a gift from Canada"
Plutonium, the raw material (also) used for making bombs, was "donated". And apparently a working "research" reactor. A bomb design was certainly not donated, nor is it evident that Canada intended to transfer nuclear tech intellectual property, all the article claims was Canada's intent to sell working reactors and fuel, not designs, to India. FYI - Canada wouldn't have wanted India to have nuclear IP, for fear of cannibalising it's nuclear revenue stream of fuel and reactors to India!!
Just the be clear, 31 countries have working nuclear power reactors, while only 7 have bombs. Unless you intend to undermine India's indigenous nuclear capabilities, all this hand waving about Canada "donating" designs doesn't hold up. After all, we're talking about the most lethal of weapons here, not candies that are casually "donated". Western intelligence agencies have a storied history of preventing nuclearization. India got nuclear despite the West, not because of
It's certainly in a top 5 position of countries I'd rather not have access to nuclear weapons.
One has to admire the no-nonsense problem solving happening here.
That's a really short timeline. India's newest reactor Kudankulam 2 took 14 years from construction start to first criticality:
The only American reactors currently under construction, Vogtle 3 and 4, were originally supposed to be built in less than 5 years but are now projected to take 8 years.
But maybe the American reactors aren't intended to be part of the generation added by 2024. India does have 7 reactors currently under construction.
If they've already done the scoping, fundraising, location picking and had a construction firm who optimised for speed & quality but not cost then I can see ~5 years as achievable, although they probably won't manage it. This is one of nuclear many advantages over more usual nonrenewable, things can happen orders of magnitude more quickly because the physical footprint is so small.
Of course it's possible to increase the worldwide heavy forging capacity, but again, something that takes time.
Then there are many reactor designs that don't use water as a coolant or moderator; those are obviously not restricted by heavy forge capacity. But those reactors are mostly on the drawing board and not available off the shelf.
I know that mixing "nuclear" + "cheaper manufacturing" sounds scary, but maybe it's a better idea... why would you need "best of the best" materials for pieces that (1) stay in one place (they're not airplanes!) and (2) can be replaced/serviced/inspected on fixed schedules following fixed procedures on fixed budgets etc.
Modern forges were perfected by the germans in the war because they wanted to build airplane parts (!!) and they wanter to build them fast... I'd imagine nuclear power technology has none of this requirements and can be re-designed to work with commodity low-quality parts and have the movable pieces easily replace-able...
(I'd imagine that if people would get over the "uuh, nuclear, scarry, scarry" mindset nuclear technology could become a dirt cheap commodity and be build with a mixture of ceramics + cheap alloys just fine...)
 https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/... (pdf, p. 11)
 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978184569... (can send a pdf if interested)
I have no idea, but it does seem that if there are bottlenecks in the process, demand for nuclear could bring costs come down dramatically. Am I missing something here?
Or well, maybe costs wouldn't come down that much, since AFAIK press forging is a pretty mature technology.
I'm just saying a heavy press forge is a major infrastructure project on its own, and it won't just happen by snapping our fingers. It will take time.
Then there's the question of whether it makes sense to embark on a major buildout of current style large light water reactors? If the market shifts towards smaller modular reactors (SMR's), then for light water SMR's smaller forges would likely do. Or further in the future non-water low pressure designs.
My opinion is that given the urgency of addressing climate change, coal pollution etc., yes we should embark on a major buildout of currently available reactor types, while also massively increasing advanced reactor R&D&commercialization funding.
Aspiration alone is no different than failure.
Meanwhile, the United States continues to shut down Nuclear Reactors and prevent modern constructions out of irrational fearmongering.
At least India recognizes the benefits of Nuclear Power...
France will save 39 billion euros ($44.5 billion) if it refrains from building 15 new nuclear plants by 2060, and bets instead on renewable energy sources to replace its all its aging atomic facilities, a government agency said.
France should spend 1.28 trillion euros over the next four decades, mostly on clean power production and storage capacities, networks, and imports, according to a report from the country’s environment ministry. If it does this, France would progressively shut down its 58 atomic plants and renewable energy would comprise 95 percent of its electricity output by 2060, up from 17 percent last year
I think it's a large scale astroturfing effort by the nuclear industry (which is huge, with a very small number of players) and the useful rubes who play along.
Nuclear may be a necessary part of the grid mix, but the panacea presented has never remotely been close to reality -- every build takes much longer than promised, and always, with 100% certainty, costs billions more than planned. Every build has maintenance that costs multiples of the claims, operation that is far more expensive, and with waste products that there is still no viable solution for, with an eternity of costs dragging them down. And nuclear only exists because the public subsidizes it by eschewing the need for real insurance (which would be prohibitively expensive otherwise).
In every economic sense nuclear has been an enormous boondoggle, and they stopped making them because every energy provider got wise. This has nothing to do with fearmongering or some sort of ignorant public -- quite the contrary, the overwhelming public sentiment had no problem with nuclear -- though that claim frequently appears. It's bizarre.
Certainly nuclear has been expensive to build and operate, and the industry is by no means innocent in this. On the other hand, it's extremely regulated, and the bureaucracy built up makes it very expensive, for example, to make a routine change during construction from the blueprints. No other industry is as regulated as nuclear.
During operation it's the same way. You can spend many person-months dealing with corrective action procedures that are mandated, etc. Many of these are considered by the industry to not actually affect safety. For instance the NRC finds like 22,000 "green" findings and a few hundred "white" ones per year. The white ones have low safety significance. Yet, the paperwork and follow-up is nearly crippling.
That's good right? Because nuclear is dangerous? Wrong. Commercial nuclear over its 60 years of commercial operation has killed as many people as coal (operating as designed) kills every single day. Every time a nuclear plant shuts down, more people die because of increased air pollution.
It's not rational. It's regulated so much because people are afraid of it. It's expensive entirely because of fearmongering.
The answer is zero.
I'm not saying we go non-regulated. I'm saying the current regs may be too much. I'd argue that climate change is now more of a threat than more carbon-free nuclear plants.
I'm actually in favor of more nuclear power in the U.S. mainland. But certain locations are definitely more or less safe than others. I'm also in favor of streamlining a lot of regulation, if those responsible for a human error based disaster (including managers up to the president/ceo of contsruction/management org) potentially being hanged as a result (not shot, not electric, not chemical injection, hanged till dead).
Waste that goes into the air? Waste from mines in third world countries? Out of sight out of mind.
Nuclear waste is easily containable, and the country that generates the power has to pay for it. Not only that, but newer reactor designs can take existing nuclear waste in, outputting energy and a smaller pile of waste.
That's true of pretty much every large infrastructure project in the US (and probably outside the US, but I'm less familiar with that side of things). Nuclear reactors are hardly unique in that regard.
Just to be clear, you think that the nuclear industry is paying people to go on line and say positive things about nuclear power? Can I get some kind of source for this claim?
But they also have a number of former well-known figures who are quite literally on their payroll. People like Patrick Moore who they pay to write editorials -- always with the byline that he was a Greenpeace activist (yet never noting that he's paid to do this) -- heralding the wonders of nuclear energy. It's a massive industry, and every plant is tens of billions of dollars, so of course they engage in these efforts.
I am one such person who let my imagination run wild. I then spent a decade getting a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, and then spent another decade trying to develop advanced nuclear reactors. I have dozens upon dozens of friends and colleagues who feel the same way, mostly to help solve the climate change and energy poverty issues. This is not some cynical PR campaign. This is young, smart, energetic, and excited people trying to make the best of the world's natural resources through advanced technology.
The nuclear industry is famously pathetic with PR (the old guard think it's best to hide and hope anti-nuclear forces will go away). Can you even think of one pro-nuclear advertisement you've ever seen? Or a positive portrayal in a movie? Or in the news? I cannot. All I can see is Captain Planet and MacGyver and The Simpsons and all the monster movies that show nuclear as some dark scary force with a bunch of environment-hating goons dumping ooze into the river.
Mix this with magnitudes of pure ignorance in the difference between nuclear weapons waste (ooze, river, Hanford, Mayak) and commercial nuclear waste (solid, ceramic, like a teacup, dry casks, never hurt a soul), and you've got yourself a nuclear PR issue that needs some grassroots help.
Either you don’t know what astroturfing means or you believe in a conspiracy there is no evidence of (nuclear companies faking HN commenter support for nuclear). Either way, this adds nothing to a conversation because it gives reasons for people on any side of the argument to just ignore any material facts or logic.
Rather than assuming that everyone who supports nuclear is a fake account or a shill, perhaps you should try to address arguments directly?
>This has nothing to do with fearmongering or some sort of ignorant public
That’s incorrect. Yucca Mountain is an example. The reactions to Fukushima on the news were another. The Diablo plant that was closed early has been consistently plagued by protests based on irrational fears.
You seem to think that a majority of people supporting nuclear is relevant. It’s not considering the tiny percentage of people required to throw up NIMBY roadblocks at all levels of government.
Example: Despite their tiny population, anti vaxxers are a major problem.
Most nuclear builds in the west saw extraordinarily little opposition. Ever. We saw a massive spike in builds that went on for a few decades, but it slowly sputtered to a halt because of real-world economics and utilities becoming jaded. Economics that saw that nuclear was overhyped, and the process around it (a process necessary for a platform that can cause enormous economic and ecological damage if it goes awry) made it much less of a win.
Not one nuclear plant has been delayed or not built because of the Yucca Mountain issue (which is a classic issue where you're asking a jurisdiction to take the problems with none of the benefits). Dry cask storage is doing fine.
We're just entering the period where nuclear power plants are nearing end of life stages, where countless billions in costs are going to come due that everyone just whistled and looked the other way about. The massive nuclear hype was courtesy of the 1950s style new age everything is better enthusiasm, and was critical for building out the grid, and is still a very important part of the mix. However they aren't being built because of some soccer mom nattering about Fukushima, but instead because the people who run the energy grid are choosing much less expensive options. Wind and solar are much less expensive full stop, and gas turbines are cheaper because no one has to pay for the carbon released, which has its own problems that we're going to pay a heavy price for.
The experience in Australia is nobody has considered nuclear because one political party (labour) has historically had a policy of banning the technology. The economics of the costs have never been tested because of the hysterical response to radiation risk. I suspect if it was regulated to the same safety standards as solar it would be very cost-competitive indeed.
The current focus of energy policy is on reducing GHG emissions, reliability and affordability of supply. The installed cost of nuclear power does not make it an attractive option compared to fast installation of solar and wind generation.
> non-proliferation, disarmament, testing
You don't need to do any of that jazz to have nuclear power. The existence of cheap and clean nuclear power would in fact be a powerful stabilising force and likely to promote world peace.
> nuclear waste management
Are there worries here that cannot be fairly summed up as concerns about radiation risk? The volumes are tiny and trivially manageable apart from that.
> aboriginal land rights, mining degradation
Those are simply anti-mining concerns. There is nowhere in Australia that mining doesn't interact with somebody's land rights. There is also no organised political force in Australia that wants to ban mining - even the Greens are not opposed to mining in principle.
> The installed cost of nuclear power does not make it an attractive option ...
Maybe. I'm not up to date with the current costs for wind and solar but I've been consistently told they were the cheapest option and it has been consistently proven they are not. Happily the evidence is a lot more compelling this round but I'm waiting to see the whole-of-grid picture.
That doesn't change the fact that there was a long stretch of Australia's history where the most economic cheap & clean source of energy was basically blanket banned due to a major parties policy. You'd have to be stupid to try and run the gauntlet with nuclear power in the current political environment, so I doubt it is going to get a fair go.
The 3% difference is a reasonable criticism, meaning that they're basically at parity cost wise in this comparison. But then you really have to add the 1000+ year waste storage costs - which even if not ignored, are ridiculous to estimate costs for.
Short version: was originally expected to cost 3.3 bil euro, is now at 10.9 bil euro and climbing.
Reactors that are already built and in good operating order provide very predictable electricity at low-moderate costs.
Building new reactors is much less predictable. France's latest reactor design, the EPR, is many years behind schedule and many billions over budget at both French and Finnish projects to build the new reactor. It was even years late when built in China, where presumably no lawsuits/activists/excessive safety regulations were ever allowed to get in the way.
I think the idea that renewables will be feasible in a country India's size with India's population, while preserving much if any natural space seems, at best, optimistic.
By all means Australia - the 6th largest country by area in the world with a population of 25ish million has the space. But India? Sure it is the 7th largest country by area, but it is less than half Australia's size, with 50-70 times the population (India's population estimates are tricky).
The scariest part of these debates is that the solution is likely energy dependence, as in countries with space - and day more sunshine - sell electricity to those without it. I don't think ANYONE likes that idea, but I can't see any way that it is feasible worldwide while maintaining each country's energy independence.
So, constructing this storage facility costed basically as much as constructing an actual nuclear power plant in 1970s of equivalent generating capacity. Thus, if instead of these, we simply build nuclear plants, we'll likely save money and won't have to deal with instability of generation.
If every six months the rate at which a million EVs are sold, how much battery storage is that over the next decade? My math says tens of GWs.
EDIT Which is awesome, and surely beats running diesel generators!
Which presumably don't have large, dense cities nor heavy industry?
> If every six months the rate at which a million EVs are sold, how much battery storage is that over the next decade? My math says tens of GWs.
Battery costs are orders of magnitude too high to make sense for anything but very short term storage. Yes, they are fantastic for some ancillary services like frequency control. And with lots of solar and air conditioning, might allow you to get past the duck curve hump in the evenings.
Providing energy for a couple weeks when a high pressure system has parked on your country and wind produces 0? Forget it.
Flow batteries will come online to carry the storage past where high volume production lithium cost savings can't reach. I think if we put nearly the same or as consistent capital into renewable as we put into even the last decade of fossil fuel discovery, we'll find that costs drop very very rapidly.
In a cost optimized no-CO2 system, you'll see renewables providing immediate power, short term storage (batteries, pumped hydro) carrying over shorter outages, and some sort of peaking capacity for longer lulls in sun/wind. Overcapacity of the renewables + longer distance transmission will help, as will end-user storage of heat/cold. The peaking capacity will be used only a small fraction of the time, and will be powered by hydrogen (either from electrolysis from excess renewable output, or from NG steadily reformed to H2 and the H2 stored for use during the peaks, and the CO2 from the reformers sequestered). Simple cycle plants are ~40% efficient and cost < $400/kW.
We throw away 95% of the fuel. This is because Carter gave an order to not reprocess old fuel rods. Well, we would throw away 95%, but actually we just keep it sitting around for political reasons. Most of our fissionable material is sitting in containment ponds.
The NRC refuses to give guidance. They will only approve a reactor or disapprove it, given a finalized design. You have to do all the design work up front, completely in the dark, and then you get a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.
Every stupid insignificant part involves absurd paperwork, right down to changing the lightbulbs.
It's not why nuclear is expensive. It's the construction costs.
Fukushima thus far has yielded some $700B USD of costs, and it has no end in site. Chernobyl has been estimated at having cost $235B USD.
No insurance company would touch this sort of liability, so governments put a hard cap on the potential liability. Here in Ontario, nuclear plants were only responsible for $75M of damage for the longest time, though over the next few years it will increase to $1B. The actual damage it could reasonably cost -- what any other industry would have to insure for -- would be more in the $1000B ($1T) range.
The fair comparison, though, is: what's the cost of global warming, and who will insure against it once fossil fuel emitters are held liable?
Also, if we looked at the latest research on low-dose radiation effects and really let that sink in, we'd spend far less on the cleanup of near background dose stuff after the few accidents that do occur.
You are ignoring that the fearmongering has over a long time influenced laws and regulation to make it uneconomical. To pretend there is no correlation is simply disingenuous.
It was a hope of many senators that wanted to get the 'green' vote to systematically defund and over-regulate nuclear. Nuclear innovation was significantly hindered by political interest on ever level, federal to local and I can go into lots of examples.
It is actually well known and confirmed that anti-nuclear organization such as green peace had a deliberate political strategy to focus on one thing only, more regulation for nuclear TO make it more expensive. The 'nuclear is unsafe' hammer has turned out to be very effective because most people and even most politicians don't know the facts. The coal and oil interest of course have a nice alliance with the greenpeace types and together nuclear was systematically hindered.
Just look at the current regulatory agency and the almost complete standstill in improvements since they took over.
If you look the production of nuclear reactors in the US you will see that they were on pace to replace coal power when building them was not much more expensive then a coal plant. Since then we had almost zero innovation and cost have exploded.
If you just look at the resources required for nuclear, there is no reason it should be so expensive. The problem is that we are using 60 year old designs because innovation has been made totally impossible thanks to the regulatory framework.
These reactors work for almost 100 years while you have to replace solar panels and wind multiple times.
Not to mention intermittency is not even close to being solved.
Every actual attempted of using renewable has skyrocketed costs however much people want to ignore that.
Disclaimer: I am an armchair energy policy enthusiast, and aggregate generator permitting, construction, turn up, operation, and decommissioning data for visualization and production siting.
Edit: Lunch bet email in my profile.
But you cannot dispute the massive resources, and square footage it requires to accomplish that future of massive wind farms, every building with solar panels installed, and huge battery warehouses littered throughout the nation... especially when compared to a handful of modern Nuclear Reactor Plants.
More people die installing Solar Roof Panels than from all the Nuclear energy production combined 
You can make roof installs safer (process, hardware), utility installs on the ground are already safe. No one has any place to store nuclear waste, no one will insure it, and no one wants to tie capital up for decades in nuclear generators.
Nuclear, like coal, is a wonderful fuel if you can foist all of the externalities on someone else.
Modern Nuclear plants are very safe, and very cost effective... and can ramp up or down energy production on demand. Plus, they can be built wherever people want... not just where sunlight or wind patterns are suitable.
Solar Roof Panel installation is dangerous because people fall off the roof...yet, that alone has led to more deaths than Nuclear energy production.
The U.S. Navy has gone 60 years without a nuclear accident (the entire history since inception of the "Nuclear Navy")... and that's in vehicles (both surface and submarine vessels) designed to be shot, blown up, and sunk in combat.
Nuclear is safe, and cost effective. Particularly when considering modern approaches to reactors and spent fuel recycling and storage practices. We, as a nation, are just irrationally afraid of something most people simply don't understand.
I think this is especially impressive considering the losses of the USS Thresher  and USS Scorpion . Despite their loss, there was still no significant containment breach.
The only serious solution to our energy needs is nuclear. Everything else requires magical thinking.
Even so, on the long run, power and not energy is what matters. By definition, you need a net power surplus to build up energy stores, because you need to generate energy faster than you are consuming it, and power is merely energy over time.
Lithium doesn't get depleted.
> Even so, on the long run, power and not energy is what matters. By definition, you need a net power surplus to build up energy stores, because you need to generate energy faster than you are consuming it, and power is merely energy over time.
How does this contradict my argument?
You said that available land limits the power, but not the energy, available via renewables. If power is what you actually need rather than energy, that point is irrelevant, isn't it?
The gist is that after ~30-40% penetration, the cost of renewables, even with storage, is no longer cheaper than natural gas.
And while storage bends the curve, getting from 80% renewables to 100% without something dispatchable is very expensive.
I don't think this is necessarily important for nuclear, since we could have Gas+CCS, but I have lower hopes for pure renewables+storage.
I think you could make the situation better by having a dramatic programme to scale up nuclear, because then you can get economies of scale. That worked quite well for the French, but it means a large upfront investment, essentially paying for 50 years of energy in advance, with significant risk of cost over-runs.
That requirement for front-loaded investment means the cost depends very strongly on the interest rate of money borrowed, and a low interest rate on a large, complex project requires government backing. So the fundamental reason is that governments do not have the appetite for that sort of intervention or that level of risk, like they did during the 60's-70's.
> The country has the capacity to build 10 to 12 nuclear reactors a year. But though reactors begun several years ago are still coming online, the industry has not broken ground on a new plant in China since late 2016, according to a recent World Nuclear Industry Status Report.
> Officially China still sees nuclear power as a must-have. But unofficially, the technology is on a death watch. Experts, including some with links to the government, see China’s nuclear sector succumbing to the same problems affecting the West: the technology is too expensive, and the public doesn’t want it.
So even before Fukushima, there’d be delay after delay for more studies and impact and safety concerns for new projects and old ones getting shut down mostly due to thd ghosts of 3MI and Chernobyl.
Of course it doesn’t help to engender confidence in the tech as this legacy is the baggage any new tech faces in any consideration.
Well Tōhoku tsunami and earthquake killed 15,000+ people and yet everyone only talks about the nuclear plant that was hit with it.
At some point you just have to accept that human mind has an irrational fear on rare but dramatic events
> Meanwhile coal kills a 200,000 per year while operating normally!
Coal is definitely the worst conventional energy generation tech. No wonder nuclear advocates love to focus on it as if it's the only alternative. That said, do you know anyone who died from coal?
Personally no. But in production of coal you have many miners’ lives cut short as a direct consequence of mining activities. Now, that’s short of the annual number listed there but this is a known direct consequence.
Have you seen the dose rates in the area recently and compared them to the higher end of natural background in inhabited areas on Earth? If not I recommend you do. It's very reasonable to evacuate an area during a massive nuclear accident. When the dose rate goes down, it's very reasonable to go back. Here's a handy reference: . The main point is that global warming gets rid of even more inhabitable land by pushing people out of cities en masse.
> No wonder nuclear advocates love to focus on it as if it's the only alternative.
Nuclear is safer than almost every other energy source. More people fall of their roofs installing solar panels per TWh than people die from nuclear accidents. Hydro has killed people by the 100,000 as well. Shoot, even wind kills people with ice-throw .
> That said, do you know anyone who died from coal?
A few hundred thousand per year, but no I don't actually know any of those people. Do you know anyone who has died from nuclear power, which kills 6 orders of magnitude fewer people?
The main point is that global warming is the serious threat and we should throw all serious low-carbon energy sources at it. Nuclear is the only large-scale operational low-carbon source that can run through daily and seasonal weather shifts, so it should play a large role. Wind and solar are needed as well, at about 20x their current deployment.
Belarus has not commissioned its first nuclear plant yet, but already two construction workers died on its construction. That's already +INF amount of deaths per TW generated nationally.
> Do you know anyone who has died from nuclear power, which kills 6 orders of magnitude fewer people?
I actually do, met a dying Chernobyl liquidator in early 1990s.
So, no, the externalities cannot save nuclear in the US.
By that measure solar and wind are catastrophic failures given that they still depend on non-existent storage technologies to hit any kind of baseload replacement goals.
Somehow the two under construction in the US (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogtle_Electric_Generating_Pla...) are estimated to cost $25B and are complicated by Westinghouse having declared bankruptcy. Others (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgil_C._Summer_Nuclear_Gener...) have been cancelled.
The same AP1000 reactor model was installed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanmen_Nuclear_Power_Station at a cost of just $6b, although they were also 4 years late in becoming operational. But it does seem like other countries are capable of getting these large projects done while they whither and drag out in the US.
India should also be investing in thorium reactors given its indigenous reserves and the inherent safety advantages.
Another issue is cooling: water supplies in Andhra Pradesh are highly erratic, and this will only get worse with global warming.
Does anyone know if there's any modelling to show how widely such activity disperses water? How much of the water is expected to land somewhere functionally useless (e.g. into oceans)?
Or, if they built a desalination plant next to each nuclear plant, would they be able to compensate for the water loss efficiently?
Guess who is awarded most of new Power Generation plants in India since private sector started building power plants? It almost entirely politicians and their family members.
Example (Owned by Member of Parliament Galla Jayadev's Family) :
Anyway, I'll flag because you don't seem to be backing off your flamewar fanning rhetoric.
I doubt that any nuclear capacity will significantly affect India's oil consumption. Nuclear typically displaces coal or gas.
If the new nuclear electricity decreases the outages in the grid, I am sure it will almost 1:1 turn to savings in burned diesel.
What about the environmental impact of mining and extracting the rare and not so rare elements that go into making solar pv modules and battery modules?
What about the water use in the production of these modules?
What about the greenhouse gas emissions in the industrial scale processes involved in producing these modules?
What about the impact on wildlife and the environment through land clearance, habitat destruction, species dislocation, threats to bird species, …
From the way people go on about solar pv and battery tech you'd swear they had zero externalities.
> It could replace it faster and cheaper by financing distributed solar or wind and batteries.
Faster, probably. Cheaper, probably. But at what cost to animal and human lives, and at what cost to the environment? Coal plants can be built fast and cheap too. That's why we've so many of them.
Energy dept on energy lifecycle of PV pays back in < 3 years of their typical 20-30 year lifespan. (and that's a span to 80% sustained production - the panels can go longer...)
I could keep answering all those questions point by point, but they're googleable and I feel there is a distinct lack of curiosity on those points...
Millions upon millions of tonnes of e-waste just in panels, no mention about batteries.
And the industrial processes involved?
(A) Silicon based PV panels
(1) Disassembly of aluminium and glass parts
(2) Thermal processing at 500C!
(3) Physically separating cell modules
(4) Etching away silicon wafers (using acid!)
(5) Melting broken wafers (at what temp?)
And what % rates does that give you? 100% metal reuse, 95% glass reuse, 85% silicon reuse, 80% modules reused: all in all sounds pretty energy intensive and doesn't even result in 100% recycling
(B) Thin-film based PV panels
(1) Shredding the PV panels into 4-5mm pieces to remove lamination
(2) Separating solid and liquid with a rotating screw
(3) Removing film using acid and peroxide!
(4) Removing interlayers materials with vibration
(5) Rinsing the glass (using up how much water?)
(6) Separating and processing metals
And what % rates does that give you? 95% semiconductor material reuse, 90% glass reused: all in all sounds pretty energy intensive and doesn't even result in 100% recycling
And of course you have to build the reprocessing and recycling plants which is energy intensive and generates greenhouse gas emissions because construction is a major source of greenhouse gas emission.
And again, that's saying nothing about battery waste.
But yeah, solar pv panels and battery modules: great solution …
This is where swiss fuel waste is stored :
An area less than half a (european) football stadium to contain 45 years of fuel waste for 4 nuclear plants. As of April 2018, there are 449 operable power reactors in the world.
That means you need an area as large as 56 football stadiums to contain all the fuel waste in the world. Not exactly an impressive area. A solar park this size would output energy equivalent to less than a 10th of one modern nuclear plant.
*EDIT: changed a 1000th to a 10th. It greatly exaggerates the solar capacity, but it doesn't change the point anyway.
India's history with nuclear power plants hasn't exactly been great. Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant faced tons of protests:
of course these have never been tried in an accident because both Chernobyl and Fukushima are very old reactors. On the other hand before Fukushima I used to see people say that the problem with Chernobyl is there was no containment vessel as there is in western reactors, then in Fukushima the containment vessel did melt through. So who knows how well the core catcher would work in practice.
But in order to do that, we need to further develop nuclear reactor technology by building utility-scale nuclear energy plants here on Earth--not because we need our energy to be nuclear, but because we need our nuclear energy to be reliable and efficient.
The cynical part of me is thinking that the US can apparently build nuclear plants anywhere on Earth except in the US.
Building a modern reactor that is not based on 60 year old technology would make more sense, but regulation have made that impossible and the government itself has 0 interest in doing so.
Nuclear fuel has the highest energy density of any fuel currently available to us.
Wind and water power is unavailable when there is no atmosphere or weather cycle. Solar power requires more surface area as you get further from the sun. Solar panels and storage batteries have mass, too.
Combustion fuels have mass, and the rocket equation hates superfluous mass in objects launched to orbit.
A good engine for low-gravity propulsion would be a nuclear reactor that heats propellant to a very high temperature and then releases it at high velocity. That's not the sort of engine that could get you to orbit, but it does provide a lot of delta-V once you are up there. Propellant can be found outside of gravity wells, and a refuel mission carrying nuclear fuel is cheap to launch on a dollar per joule basis.
Nuclear waste does not endanger the environment if there is no environment to endanger. No one is likely to stumble across it accidentally. Criticality accidents would only kill the crew, if there even is a crew.
Habitats that are buried deeply to protect against radiation and to contain a bio-friendly environment may not be able to rely on solar alone. They would likely need a large mass of batteries to make it through storms and nights, and an RTG or a full-blown reactor might provide more reliable power for less mass.
The cost of new nuclear power is far beyond most traditional and even renewable power generation, so we're not likely to see many more any time soon.
There is a book titled "Confessions of an economic Hitman". The book is written by an ex-CIA agent to was an economist and would write a lot of fake reports claiming developing nations can grow much faster only if they invest heavily in infrastructure. Then US would generously offer loans in return of assurance that the contracts will be awarded only to American companies. Fe decades down the line those countries would be left holding the can and debt. This model failed miserably for USA in India because India' growth story after 1990s turned out of be true, India's hunger for infra actually grew. Enron who had a weird misadventure in India eventually had to file for bankruptcy.
While I am happy that India is tripling the nuclear energy capability I am unhappy that American companies are involved. It might end up badly for Indian but more than likely to Americans.
Do not mistake government with people. American citizens are not same as government nor American government solely works in American citizen's interest. This is a powerplay in corridors you don't even know to exist. Let me give you an real world example.
Indian government might be oppressive and incompetent at governance but they are supremely good at understanding other governments. A certain Indian company wanted to import a highly sophisticated technology from European country. The laws prevented the export without the European nation approving the sale. The technology itself was very benign. It was not defense tech or anything dangerous. But those restrictions on sale were put in place at the request of American government officials few years ago.
How did the Indian company managed to get it eventually ? Indian government through a secret untraceable channel donated $5M to a charity run by the wife of an ex-American official. That official then made phone call directly to the head of European state who signed the papers in 24 hours and the sale went through. Also all this probably perfectly legal and happens all the time. I recommend you read "Clinton Cash" to know more about one such family.
The example you cite is not surprising to me in the least. It's realpolitik, and every regional power does this and always has. That book was self important wish-fulfillment on the part of the author, IMHO.
I'm actually serious... I don't get why we still have coal power plants at all. I know there are various risks involved, and disposal is another, but a lot of lessons have been learned and there's a lot of room here for this. It's just incredible that a couple of movies could set back nuclear power in the US for as many decades as has happened.
>and we know what it does then.
What is it that it does then?
I don't understand why one wouldn't believe in the environmental dangers of conventional energy sources but be hyper concerned about the "environmental catastrophe waiting to happen" from nuclear energy sources.
But if you're interested in other approaches that could be taken nuclear waste is primarily U-238 and Plutonium. Rather than bury it all the waste can be reprocessed to extract usable fuel and depleted Uranium from the waste which reduces the amount of waste to deal with by about 90%. Another thing commonly repeated is that nuclear waste has a half life of tens of thousands of years. This is wrong, isotopes have half lives, nuclear waste does not. Nuclear waste is a toxic soup of different isotopes, some short lived, others long lived. As the isotopes spontaneously fission the concentrations in the waste change. 10kg of nuclear waste on day 1 is immensely more radioactive than 10kg of nuclear waste on day 1,000,000. Fresh nuclear waste has substantially higher amounts of short lived isotopes which is why when spent fuel is removed from a reactor it has to be stored in a cooling pond for a long time before it can be stored in a cask. Radioactivity has an inverse relationship with the half live, short lived isotopes are extremely radioactive and extremely long lived isotopes are barely radioactive.
If you wanted to go further than just reducing the amount of waste you can actually burn up waste so to speak. If you bombard it with tons of neutrons (like from a fusion reactor hopefully in the long term) you either split the fissile isotopes or breed them into a different isotope.
Just by processing our waste we could split the waste into stuff that has a short half life that you would just let decay naturally, stuff that has a long half life that can be buried without any real concerns about someone building a dirty bomb with it, and stuff in between that could potentially be burned up in a reactor or just buried in more secure facilities like what Yucca mountain was supposed to provide.
- Bury it underground in geological repositories. These have been extensively studied and are, to the best of our knowledge, more than safe enough.
- We can reprocess it and burn it in breeder reactors. The remaining waste will decay to background levels in about 300 years. Oh, and we can shutdown the uranium mining industry for, oh, the next 1000 years while we burn up the uranium we have already dug up.
Also keep in mind that while the waste is dangerous, it's absolutely minuscule in volume. All worldwide spent (civilian) nuclear fuel could fit on a football field, stacked a few meters high.
The amount of fear spread about nuclear waste is so far out of proportion with the reality of the situation that its hard to even explain how crazy many of the believes about nuclear waste are.
Compared to all other forms of energy, including solar and wind, nuclear produces by far the least amount of waste to the envoirment. In fact, nothing escapes into the environment, everything is captured and can be handled appropriately.
Sorry if I'm missing something, but which waste escapes to the environment for solar or wind during operation? I can only think of reflected light and heat for solar, and turbulence for wind.
Unless you're thinking also of the waste produced during bulding and dismantling, but then you'd have to compare with bulding and dismantling the whole nuclear plant, not just its fuel.
For wind its less so, you just have gigantic towers everywhere that will eventually be ruins. And also you have to build a lot of gigantic wind turbines to match the output of a single nuclear planet.
I am comparing end to end. A nuclear plant is one big building in one place and most of that is just common building materials, minimal amount of mining for the uranium. And if we eventually actually build new modern nuclear plants it would reduce the size of the plant by quite a bit as well. Nuclear has more upside in terms of efficiency (currently only 2% efficient) and minimizing resource usage.
Pretty much every end to end analysis agrees that nuclear has the least amount of resource and land usage, and it has the least amount of uncontrolled waste.
Nuclear is much cleaner than fossil fuels though, you're right about that, natural gas has some radon mixed in that just gets vented to the atmosphere and coal ash that makes it past whatever filtering system the power plant uses releases far more radiation than nuclear plants could during normal operation.