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Led by France, 10 EU countries call on Brussels to label nuclear energy as green (euronews.com)
297 points by nixass 53 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 139 comments



Good. Due do skewed and unreasonable public opinion it is currently almost impossible to start new nuclear power projects. As a result instead of modern, safe (passive cooling, etc) nuclear plants we're running 30-40 year old, unsafe old timers!

Thorium pellet reactors, et al, are promising technologies for safe and local power generation.

I believe the right answer is a mix of (safe) nuclear, renewables, together with energy storage such as pump hydro storage, can solve our energy needs. Then again, I'm a lay person in this area.


Worth adding that in EU this is largely German public opinion. And somehow the tail wags the dog.


Angela Merkel was a disaster in this regard. The nation went collectively insane after Fukushima and she cowed to the public to win the next election rather than try to calm the public ignorance.

Instead, Germany funded Russia's NordGas II pipeline to replace the nuclear power they turned off with gas. Insane stupidity.


As stupid as this policy was, it wasn't started by Merkel. She just sped it up.

The previous chancellor Schröder, now a foreign Russian energy minister, set the schedule into motion for nuclear shutdown.[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerhard_Schr%C3%B6der#Relation...


No, Germany did not fund Nordstream 2.

"Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie and Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall will each provide loans covering 10 per cent of the €9.5bn cost of the pipeline, with Gazprom providing the remaining 50 per cent."

Source: Financial Times, https://archive.vn/pirwk

Also, clean energy is a long way off and Europeans are still going to have to heat their houses. Personally, I'm happy that we're doing business with Russia, rather than being locked into more expensive, US gas imports.


> US gas imports

The US has huge natural gas reserves. Are they really importing natural gas?


I mean imports from the US to Europe.

It's a good idea to have multiple suppliers.

IMO, Trump's sanctioning of Nordstream 2 was mostly economic warfare against an ally (Europe), disguised as geoplitical concerns about Russia.


And they put back up many coal power plants which creates an insane amount of air pollution.


That's not true. There is an exit strategy for coal in germany and at least for now it's still going. Next year they will shutdown the remaining nuclear plants. That will be the moment of truth.


And continue with their coal mines and turbines too…


While I concur with the 'disaster', the pipeline thing seems to be more rooted in our former chancellor, a.k.a Gazprom Gerd. Revolving door, and such, you know? :-)


Is it so? Constituting a quarter of the gdp, Germany doesn't seem to qualify as "the tail".


Is public opinion weight a matter of GDP? Should it?


I'm afraid it usually is - just think of ways to sway it. Now, I would love to agree it shouldn't be, but there is no concrete system I can think of that could decouple it well. Ownership of media by the state oftentimes makes it a propaganda arm of whichever party is ruling. Private ownership, even in case of heavy subsidies, implies ownership by capital...


Germany is also the most populated country in the EU.


That's 26% of EU population. Still less than 50%.


Hasn’t Bill Gates done a lot with nuclear reactor design?


Yes. But it's not ready for production yet, they don't have a demonstrator.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/TerraPower



This seems to be an unpopular opinion on HN but I just don't trust humans to manage fission power in the long term at scale.

First, there are the issues of storage and disposal of enrichment byproducts, specifically depleted Uranium Hexaflouride ("DUJF" or UF6).

Second, there's what to do with old fuel rods. Proponents argue this is a solved problem and it can be stored for the long term in geologically stable storage facilities. This is just one political change away from becoming a huge problem.

Neither really scales up to 100x or even 10x current fission energy production.

Third, there's long-term maintenance of a plant. Arguments about the relative safety of fission point to deaths caused by coal. Coal is really the worst fossil fuel. LNG is better. But regardless of the numbers, the failure modes are just much, much worse for nuclear. 35 years later, the Chernobyl Absolute Exclusion Zone still stands at 1000 square miles. Parts of this zone will likely remain uninhabitable for centuries.

I just don't trust governments or corporations for the long term inspection, maintenance and management of fission power plants in the long term.

Lastly, the politics are against fission. This seems unlikely to change anytime soon.


Used fuel from thermal reactors can be processed into fuel for fast reactors. The fast reactor burns up all the transuranium elements so that the waste ends up with only the short lived fission products. These short lived products decay to background in 300 years or so, so the amount of time it needs to be stored is much more manageable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_fast_reactor#Advantag...


So if we can process nuclear waste in fast reactors like this, why haven't we done so with existing nuclear waste? Scale? Cost? Something else?


The cost issue: Storing spent fuel is pretty cheap because it is not very voluminous. The USA has produced about 85k tons of spent fuel, which would fit into a single football stadium. This means the cheapest thing to do is just kick the can down the road.

The proliferation issue: Waste burners require processing of spent fuel, which some states believe is a weapons proliferation risk.

The sodium issue: Liquid sodium requires very careful construction of the steam generators and piping to keep it from contacting air or water. This is a sort-of solved problem in that all the sodium cooled reactors have experienced sodium leaks from time to time, but those leaks have been fixed without significant radioactive release. This is an issue that improves with operator experience.

The russians do have one waste burning fast reactor running, the BN-800. If they can do it, so can we. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BN-800_reactor


French also reprocess. In fact, other countries pay them to reprocess their fuel.

The US doesn't do this ostensibly due to proliferation risk [1] however, I am of the opinion that was due purely due to pressure from the coal lobby.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reprocessing#History


Probably because all (usable) waste (the fuel rods) needs to be disassembled (reprocessed) to enable usage somewhere else. With new casings. Which then needs to be disassembled too, after the contents are 'sucked empty'.


Because the plants to do so were not built or were dismantled (SuperPhénix) due to anti-nuclear activists.


It may not be popular, because it is just not very logical or pragmatic. Setting aside the vagaries of politics, as those will eventually change the same way pendulum swings, the simple reality is that we simply won't be able to dig around for coal, gas and oil for that much longer. Something has got to give.


The op gives clear and sound reasons which you dismiss as illogical without any actual argument. Your answer also misses the obvious point of renewables.

I fully agree with the op, no way nuclear is long-term safe and if we poured the trillions that have been poured into nuclear into renewables the world already would be a lot nicer. But renewables are much harder to monopolize so the big players never really wanted to support them.


"But renewables are much harder to monopolize so the big players never really wanted to support them."

Compared to nuclear power? Yeah. Almost by default getting nuclear power up and running requires government intervention and this is where it hurts. There is no privatization money to skim ( unlike renewables ). It is monopolized, but it is monopolized the way government monopolizes things ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_monopoly ).

"if we poured the trillions that have been poured into nuclear into renewables the world already would be a lot nicer. "

It is possible ( I was wrong before ), but I would like you to consider the following:

Solar panels require rare earths. They are called rare not for shits and giggles. What do you think will happen when entire Earth starts looking for them. Consider scalability issues and all of a sudden, digging for oil looks better. We have an interesting view of the coming attractions with Tesla ( https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-25/musk-says... ) and some of the tall tales of him supporting a coup to get the resources he needed.

Similar list of issues run for other renewables with possible exception of geothermal, so I think 'a lot nicer' may be a bit of exaggeration. It is going to sound really cynical, but to me it sounds like pockets where the money reside will change.

That is it. With nuclear -- some of that money will dry up. Hence, partially, the cry out against it.


Rare earths aren't rare. Nor are they earths. It's just an old name


I suppose we can play a semantic game, but it does not change the actual result does it? They could be called Albino Chickens for all I care.

Rare earths are rare on the market right now, because China managed to monopolize the market. To make it more amusing, extraction of those materials is not exactly easy on the environment, which makes it less likely that Western countries will allow it in their backyard.

With that out of the way what about my argument is wrong?



It is a lot of information to digest, but I appreciate it. Lemme dig through it.

Some questions do pop up though along the lines of 'everything shortage'.


> solar panels require rare earths.

They don't require them, and most common ones don't even use them.

We already covered Rare Earths not being rare, but since they're not really a big limiter on renewable energy anyway, it doesn't really matter.

So, to a rough approximation, everything is wrong with your argument.


With that out of the way what about my argument is wrong?

Solar panels do not use rare earth elements. The only element that's fairly rare and commonly used in solar panels is silver, which is used in conductive pastes for cell contacts.


Bill Gates new nuclear power plant design is being built in Wyoming.

These things are small and cheap.

“ The project features a 345 megawatt sodium-cooled fast reactor with molten salt-based energy storage that could boost the system's power output to 500 MW during peak power demand. TerraPower said last year that the plants would cost about $1 billion.”

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/utility-small-nuclea...


I, for one, welcome newer and better reactor designs.

This doesn't solve the significant issues of fuel enrichment and waste storage and disposal however and we need a much better story for those before fission power has any kind of future (IMHO).


Fair points. (I hope nobody downvoted you)

I somewhat disagree on your general point, though. Pellet reactor (mostly?) solve the spent fuel issue. Also, I believe that due to unreasonable negative opinion we're behind a few decades where we could be in terms of research.

And as I said in my earlier comment, it is exactly this lack of public support that had (and has) us running old timer nuclear plants (like Chernobyl, Fukushima, and most of the currently operated plants in the US, the EU, and elsewhere).

But I agree 100% that the problems you cite need to solved, and these solutions have to be communicated.


I don't think any of the GP's arguments hold up.

> there are the issues of storage and disposal of enrichment byproducts

Omega Tau did an in depth analysis of all the storage issues, including the byproducts and how they are managed.

https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/omegataupodcast/omegatau-3...

These are solved problems.

> what to do with old fuel rods

...same as above. The quantity here is far far smaller than most people imagine and it's a very manageable amount - even if scaled 100x. We're talking about 1 barrel per reactor per year.

> there's long-term maintenance of a plant

Modern Gen III plants are build such that any failure in the control systems, causes the reactor to turn off via a, usually, gravity system - so no power needed to turn off the reaction. They are essentially constantly being told to stay on.

Accidents as we've seen in the past are not possible with Gen III reactors. ...the failure modes are just much, much worse for nuclear

More relevant though is that the success condition for LNG/Coal/Oil/etc plants is Global Climate Change. THAT is the critical issue.

Also, the notion that nuclear storage facilities are somehow massive liabilities when the nations of the world currently already have literally tens of thousands of nuclear bombs/missiles, seems odd. There is a far far greater likelihood of Climate Change triggered nuclear war than nuclear waste misuse.

The real problem with nuclear is public ignorance. What I find a remarkable contradiction is how anti-nuclear advocates claim we need to convince the public that Climate Change is real, but then throw up their hands as hopeless when there's a suggestion that nuclear misinformation should be combated.



Doesn’t thorium address some of these issues?


Thorium is complicated. I'd suggest [1] [2] as a good primer on this issue.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IqcRl849R0

[2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baQelfQAH54


The Gobi Molten salt reactor is finished and testing has begun. China thinks that in 2030 commercial thorium reactors will be available.


"Second, there's what to do with old fuel rods. Proponents argue this is a solved problem and it can be stored for the long term in geologically stable storage facilities." With space travel becoming cheaper and cheaper, cant we deposit that on the moon for example?


The general concern there is a rocket malfunction spewing spent fuel rods over a large terrestrial area before it gets the chance to reach the moon.


Yes. Also, given the huge volume of radioactive waste (eg. like 10s of thousands cubic meters just in France) it would require thousands of rocket launches for such an endeavour.

Launch failure rates at best nearing 1%, space don't look like our best option here.


From edf:

"Ces déchets sont constitués, principalement, des matières non valorisables récupérées après le traitement du combustible usé. Les matières sont incorporées dans du verre en fusion, lui-même coulé dans un conteneur en acier. Les conteneurs contiennent 400 kg de verre pour 11 kg de déchets. Les conteneurs, en raison de la chaleur qu’ils dégagent, doivent être entreposés pour être refroidis pendant au moins une cinquantaine d’années avant d’être définitivement stockés. Le volume total de ces déchets équivaudra à 6 700 m³ à l'issue de 40 années d’exploitation du parc nucléaire français. Les déchets à vie longue représentent 10 % du volume total des déchets et concentrent 99,9 % de la radioactivité."[0]

So 6300 cubic meter over 40 years of operations. [edit] counting the glass to make them manipulable.

[0] https://www.edf.fr/sites/default/files/contrib/groupe-edf/pr...


It seems that’s quiet the same proportion of nuclear core meltdown. But yes the fallouts could be way worse and it’s actually a bad idea but in 100 years, who knows ?


Sorry. Can't do that. Public opinion would go mad because of that:

Space: 1999 is a British science-fiction television programme that ran for two series from 1975 to 1977.[1] In the opening episode, set in the year 1999, nuclear waste stored on the Moon's far side explodes, knocking the Moon out of orbit and sending it, as well as the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, hurtling uncontrollably into space.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space%3A_1999

Seriously!1!!


Ignoring rocket reliability, projects that try to protect the environment by wasting more energy are just counterproductive.


Great news. Let’s make it happen. Discussions about “green” energy that don’t involve nuclear are hypocritical at best and ignorant at worst.


I think this is the right attitude. Even if you don't want to use nuclear power, it obviously warrants serious attention.


I saw a photo of an entire hillside covered with solar panels and it was being touted as some green energy achievement. But then I realized that those solar panels have smothered the habitat and that the actual energy output of that solar panel array is very low compared to its footprint - not to mention all the resources that went into producing all those panels. It seems obvious to me that the best possible solution is Nuclear Energy.


You're a bit off the mark with your perception of solar, although you do come to the right conclusion. Solar panels can interact well with the local environment[1] and their production resources are sufficiently low as to still be a genuinely clean source of energy[2]. Also, when comparing production costs, consider that nuclear plants don't build themselves and use a _lot_ of concrete, which has a major carbon cost.

But your conclusion is right: nuclear is by far the best power option we have right now.

[1] https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/06/bees-and-solar-panel...

[2] "Researchers found that it takes just 1 to 4 years for solar panels to “even out” or “pay back” their energy debt. When you consider the fact that panels are designed to last 20 to 25 years, on average, you can see why that’s an impressive rating." Includes link to source study, https://www.solarmelon.com/faqs/solar-panels-use-energy-manu...


I think we shouldn't be forgetting about the disposal of solar panels as well - https://www.discovermagazine.com/environment/solar-panel-was...


I'm pro-nuclear, but solar panel disposal in rich country is almost solved. 94,7% recyclable, the recycling is taken into account when you buy them (in Europe at least), so its free to get them to the recycling plant for the owner.


I don't think the issue is that we don't know how to dispose of or recycle the panels. But the US uses 93 quadrillion BTU per year (https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/us-energy-facts/), so to supply 10% of the US' daily power needs would require 5 billion panels.

Moreover these panels will degrade over time, so they require maintenance, recycling, disposal, etc. So one hill half covered with solar panels is one thing, but when you have 5 billion solar panels, then yes, it stops looking so green to me. And then you need to get the other 90% from somewhere.


And then energy and transportation prices increase by a factor of four, and it turns out not enough money was set aside for solar-farm decomissioning??


Solar seems like a best fit for existing buildings, like Musk's solar roofs/windows. For wide spaces there can be other options, like wind, which has a much lower footprint. But even a well placed solar farm does not need to smother wildlife, e.g. you leave space in between, plant lower bushes, etc.

As regards efficiency, solar is nowadays not bad, there's a reason it is the cheapest energy in many countries, especially during the summer months.


Then I consider that I live in cold climate with long and dark winters. I wonder where is the truly grid scale energy storage to go over winter...

Okay, currently it is Norway and it kinda works, but that really doesn't look too good just now...


Well Norway should probably not do solar (except marginal, e.g. instead of traditional roof tiles solar roofs instead). But Norway had plenty of hydro and thermal options, even wind should work well in the more southern areas.


Thermal? Where and what would that be?


Using words like "ignorant" and "hypocritical" shows an attitude problem.


we should aggregate all problematic words into a controlled list to identify problematic people with problematic attitudes to solve certain problems

- end sarcasm


put them against the wall and shoot 'em!


The issue is that even if we take care of the waste, nuclear power can't scale in output in less than three days because of safety procedures.

So it will push the real renewable energies off the net, and we'll need gas turbines to handle day to day fluctuations.


That's entirely untrue. Nuclear power plant designs used in France (and I think Germany?) participate in load following and can do so between 30-100% capacity at around 5%/min.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_France#Operat...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Load_following_power_plant#Pre...


Climate change is an existential threat to humanity. To deny using an energy source that is nearly carbon neutral, whilst half the population of this planet is still living in energy poverty, is far from being the prudent choice...


And one that can supply carbon neutral energy also during winters. Which considering amount of global population that requires heating to survive is quite critical.


Democracy's are will of the average intelligence and sub-average emotional state. They seldom act with prudence.

This is why nearly all nuclear plants under construction today are occurring in non-democratic nations.


Given the Germany stupid move to get rid of nuclear (in favor of coal[1], as it turned out), not sure if it will support this decision. And nowadays they are dependent from one country's gas...

[1] https://www.wired.com/story/germany-rejected-nuclear-power-a...


The numbers are public record. https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/156695/umfrag...

There is no huge spike. And since the decision to shut down the nuclear plants, also coal has decreased massively, even more dramatically than nuclear.


Wind wasn't blowing the last few months, coal is back on top. https://www.dw.com/en/germany-coal-tops-wind-as-primary-elec...


I still see "Atomkraft? Nein, danke!" stickers here and there and am sad at the ignorance displayed by the people who sport them.


Ironically its the Greens. One would think theyre false flag paid by coal and petrol corporations.


with their anti-nuclear stance the Greens have likely done more damage to the climate than the conservative parties...


Let’s see if they still sport these stickers after the coming winter…


You underestimate the masochism of the average German, or at least the type to have such a sticker.


I live in Germany, I have seen a lot…


Well maybe Germans could just vote to freeze their energy prices, like Berliners voted to freeze their rents.

/s


Ha, that’s a good one. Considering the plans of the new gov, this is the new normal in Germany and it will get even more expensive.

I’m looking forward to diesel at €2.10/l, e5 at €2.50/l, heating oil at €110/100l and electricity prices x3. What a time to be alive.


Or buy the power plants and then sell the power for cheap...


They will simply buy electricity from Poland (coal) or France (nuclear) it they need more cheaper.


If Poland or France have cheap electricity to dispose of, which isn't the case as of this winter.


> I still see "Atomkraft? Nein, danke!" stickers here and there and am sad at the ignorance displayed by the people who sport them.

https://www.thelocal.de/20160520/german-nuclear-plant-pumped... :

«the plant used the cover of the Chernobyl – which had released a cloud of radioactive waste over western Europe – to pump their own waste into the atmosphere, believing no one would notice

“It was done intentionally,” Schollmeyer said. “We had problems at the plant and I was present at a few of the meetings.”

The problems related to balls of radioactive fuel getting stuck in the plant's pipework.

“Some clever dick suggested we clean out the pipework by pumping helium through it. He thought that no one would notice because of the Chernobyl cloud.”»

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernkraftwerk_THTR-300#Emissio... :

«The emissions from the THTR were initially not noticed. However, an anonymous informant from the workforce of the THTR-300 informed supervisory authorities and environmental associations about a hidden radioactive emission on May 4, 1986.»

«Only when an unusually high concentration of 233Pa was detected in the exhaust air of the THTR-300 from the chimney, which could not come from Chernobyl but only from the thorium of broken fuel elements of the THTR-300, it gradually became clear that there must have been significant radioactive emissions from the THTR-300 into the environment.»


France imports a lot of gas generated power from Germany over the course of the year. Without Germany's readily available gas turbines, France wouldn't be able to stabilize their net. Same the other way around where Germany relies on France's almost always available nuclear power.


> Without Germany's readily available gas turbines, France wouldn't be able to stabilize their net

Nonsense. Nuclear energy could power much more in France, it's only for political reasons that the grid managers do not ramp up nuclear production to meet demand, thus having to import electricity at times. The nuclear-powered baseline could be much higher without issues others than political (% of renewable energy in the mix)


Also, we (the French) made a stupid move by closing the Fessenheim power plant although it have passed all the security checks and could have continue to work for one or more decades.


That's not even remotely true. Fessenheim was a huge security risk and would not have passed any security checks in a country not as fanatically pro-nuclear as France.

See https://www.n-tv.de/politik/Pannen-AKW-Fessenheim-geht-vom-N...:

> Fessenheim liegt in einem Erdbebengebiet, das Kraftwerk ist gegen einen Flugzeugabsturz oder Anschlag unzureichend geschützt. Zudem kam es immer wieder zu Pannen.

That says: It was in an seismic active zone, unprotected against plane crashes or terror attacks. There also were a bunch of accidents.

Those old reactor designs weren't safe.


> That's not even remotely true.

It is though. For CEA experts at least. And considering what those experts did to the EPR, i'm pretty sure they are not as "pro-edf" or "pro-nuclear" as the Green tell they are.

> Fessenheim was a huge security risk and would not have passed any security checks in a country not as fanatically pro-nuclear as France.

You're dissing CEA engineers and physicists here.

> That says: It was in an seismic active zone

This reason is bullshit. Fessenhein is a PWR reactor, unless you have something like 7 on the Richter scale, the reactor will likely just hold. On a 7, you have leakage risks, and maybe on a nine you'll get a meltdown?

Do you think its likely to get a 7 or more there?

> unprotected against plane crashes or terror attacks.

True, plane crashes are not an issue though, unless you know exactly where the core or the pool is (one is a much much bigger issue than the other obviously). And to engage security mesures you need to either: push a big button, or cut electricity. Once the grid is down, there is no way to make the core explode, and if you take more than 30 minutes to put a bomb on it, it probably won't even meltdown. To reengage the reactor you need knowledge, so a sabotage is still possible.

> There also were a bunch of accidents.

True, and bad ones. Hiring contractors is good for us, earning that much doing pretty much nothing, but ultimately bad for the company, especially when you need to keep competency at a high level. Not the only nuclear plant in France where incompetency reigns from what i heard.

> Those old reactor designs weren't safe.

Untrue, but true for fessenheim. No commercial French reactor active right now are as unsafe as let's say Fukushima, because our Gen2 were that much better (as were the US's). Not as well designed as CANDUC type, but PWR are stable and do have passive protection against a chain reaction or a leak. Also, you can just move the core out and voila, no more nuclear reaction. Anyway. The second wave was improved upon "thanks" to the TMI incident, and even older reactors got better passive risk reduction upgrades and better detection.

But, Fessenheim did had a lot of troubles (and by troubles, i mean incidents from human origin), and while the cuve could probably last another 30 to 40 years, the PWR tech also have big wear and tear effect on surrounding equipements. The CEA accounted for this in their rapport, and precognized a long downtime to put thing in order.


Well Germany has access to lots of cheap coal so not so much stupid as teutonically pragmatic. Who knows might have been the coal lobbyists in this campaign as much as environmentalists


Nuclear power has net CO2 emissions at least as good as, and by some estimates better than, renewables like wind and solar: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ipcc_wg3_ar5...


We also need to ban politicians from accepting donations, bribes and post-career board positions from fossil fuel companies;

ie. Gerhard Shroder, former Chancellor of Germany who oversaw the beginning of their nuke shutdown, and now works for Rosneft! (A giant Russian fossil fuel company controlled by the Russian Government)

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41447603


Having grown up in the Cold War with the threat of MAD and the waste products from reactors, I do understand the hesitation of nuclear power.

But, in a more practical world, there’s not much of a choice if we want an energy source that’s not killing us by air pollution. In the other hand, we seem to be yet again passing the problem onto future generations. Perhaps they’ll have the science to resolve nuclear waste but there’s no guarantee.

At the end of the day, we’re currently consuming too much for the technology we have versus the population of the planet wrt to our biosphere.

There are a few obvious fixes but none are palatable.


Bill Gates new nuclear power plant design being built in Wyoming

These things are small and cheap.

“ The project features a 345 megawatt sodium-cooled fast reactor with molten salt-based energy storage that could boost the system's power output to 500 MW during peak power demand. TerraPower said last year that the plants would cost about $1 billion.”

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/utility-small-nuclea...


I read that letter in the newspaper this morning and I had a few questions about the claims being made:

- They claim nuclear could create a million of jobs in Europe. What kind of jobs ? Is that job creation or job swapping ?

- Switching to nuclear power guarantees energy independence. But where is the uranium we need ? How can we guarantee delivery ?

The argument I hear against building new nuclear plants is that it's basically too late:

- it takes 30 years or more to build one

- it usually costs twice as planned

- it's way more expensive than renewables

- renewables can be deployed now

I do believe we should have built more nuclear plants 20 or 30 years ago but we were drunk on cheap oil and gas.


There are plenty of old abandoned uranium mines in portugal.

They were abandoned because the price of uranium is so cheap it's not economical to mine it, but that can change if the economics of the situation change (ie, it suddenly becomes impossible to Import)

Regardless the point is moot. The amount of uranium required isn't that huge.


> I do believe we should have built more nuclear plants 20 or 30 years ago

Would you like to know why we didn't?

Because climate activists told us 20 years ago that

- [a nuclear power plant] takes 30 years or more to build one

- [a nuclear power plant] usually costs twice as planned

- [nuclear power is] way more expensive than renewables

- renewables can be deployed now

Then we (Germany) wasted 20 years building renewables, and now we are nowhere close to fulfilling our Kyoto commitment, and got the most expensive electricity anywhere in the world. Well done, climate activists!


I do wonder why and how green parties were able to get everyone else to retire nuclear plants but then nobody (green, blue, red, etc.) set plans in motion to replace it.


Your first question has a simple answer: by law. New nuclear plants haven't been licensed in Germany in, like, forever. Currently, the law explicitly states that no new nuclear power plants will be licensed.

How they got the operators to agree to the early shutdown is less clear. By offering a good deal, I guess. It's only taxpayer money, after all.

Why nobody set plans in motion to replace it? I don't know. My best guess is, because politicians are unbelievably stupid. They really don't know anything about electricity. They really don't get that excess electricity in Juli doesn't help you in cold, dark January. Annalena Baerbock stated publically: "The grid is all the battery we need." At that level of incompetence, who knows why anything happened.


Australia is the country wih the world's largest uranium reserves. They seem to be a more agreeable trading partner than Russia.


From a French point of view, this might have become debatable lately ;)



I was only joking on the topic of Australia vs Russia :)


In what way is Australia more agreeable uranium selling partner? I really don't know


I think construction timeframes all due to complex political process and lack of proper experience.

With enough political will and accepting more reactors in numbers I believe in 10 years, we could get plants up and running in 5 year timeframe.


> I think construction timeframes all due to complex political process and lack of proper experience.

Are you aware that Hinkley Point is build by the EDF a French company...they sure don't lack proper experience but the project is still all OP listed.

Fission is no solution for the crisis.


How many of those type of reactors have they build in past 10 years? Unless they are building at least 1 a year I don't consider it overall proper experience. And realistically we should aim to much higher numbers, as at that point most problems would already have solutions and quality would be substantially higher with skilled workers.


I'm sorry but this is ridiculous.

Those fantasies would cost immense amounts of money in the decades it would take to build up your "super experience". The cost and speed of improvement of renewable sources do not justify anything like that.


France, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania.


Great to see Poland is part of the effort. They have zero reactors having sold their VVER reactor vessels to Hungary but realise they need to replace coal with something and the only ligical choice is nuclear.


Very good and hopefully that will make the collective opinion strong enough to force the politicians in Sweden to scale up instead of scaling down the nuclear plants. Instead of lots of stable energy we now have more of wind mills turning big areas of nature into industrial zones which in turn have made the electricity price to become even more expensive.


It should be labelled both as "green" and as "renewable" as well - it's just as renewable as e.g. solar (a.k.a. "sky nuclear").


If we are nit picking, we can look at entropy and conclude no fuel is renewable :)


Understandable given France has invested heavily into such power generation due to policy many decades ago to be energy self sufficient. That has seen France build up a nice collection of skilled workers across the board from building such power stations thru to management.

You can read up some background here: https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-pr... I'd imagine having the green label will make export sales better as companies can bulk up their `green` quota of energy supplies much easier and that stigma hasn't helped.

[EDIT ADD] If you look at the commissioning dates of the bulk of Frances reactors and the life-cycle of those reactors. You will notice that within the next ten years - many reactors will need decommissioning. So a push to get them labelled as green is very much in Frances interest to justify replacing end of life reactors. Otherwise they may well fall foul of energy production quota targets down the line by the EU.


5 or 10 years ago I watched a documentary about France's nuclear workers (I live in Belgium).

One guy said they had lost a lot of their know how when building nuclear plants abroad and were spread too thin now to manage all the plants.

He also said that privatization of small contractors to conduct routine maintenance had led to tighter schedules and an increase in small accidents. He wasn't confident the nuclear park was safe enough.

Most signatures are from Eastern Europe. It'd be great for France's finances to build nuclear plants in western Europe, the west has a strong anti nuclear stance at the moment.


> He also said that privatization of small contractors to conduct routine maintenance had led to tighter schedules and an increase in small accidents. He wasn't confident the nuclear park was safe enough.

Yes, this is probably the biggest issue for nuclear, and the biggest safety risk.

Some contractors are good. If you work in software, you know what percentage of them are good, and from those, what percentage actually get shit done.


*build nuclear plants in eastern Europe


A good start, given that nth generation nuclear power plant is nearly meltdown proof.


There is a Swedish sketch about probability and Nuclear power, it's written by a master of the form so the translation will not live up to the original. Still I do believe it reflects what experience tells us about "nearly bulletproof" in regards to fission.

http://wootest.net/likelihood.html


I didn't completely get it, but it sure sounds scary. Probably because I don't know what happened at Harrisburg. Did people die there?


It seems like "Three Mile Island accident" is the name that is used in the US. Do not think anyone died.

> Cleanup started in August 1979 and officially ended in December 1993, with a total cleanup cost of about $1 billion


According to this page, the problem of nuclear waste disposal was solved over 20 years ago. It is based on a design where the "waste fuel" is used again by the reactor until it is depleted.

The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) project - http://skirsch.com/politics/globalwarming/ifr.htm


I hope in long term it reduces our dependency on fossil fuel for electricity production.


Uranium is a fossil fuel.


From Wikipedia > A fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing organic molecules originating in ancient photosynthesis[1] A fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing organic molecules originating in ancient photosynthesis that release energy in combustion.[2] that release energy in combustion.

So, by this definition, Uranium is not a fossil fuel.


Despite the many shared traits with some fossil fuels: extraction by mining, finite amounts, subject to geopolitics… uranium is a chemical element and not a fossil fuel, especially the “fossil” part.


This is obviously not correct.


Cheap energy is the way to go green. I’d love electric heating and looked into it but the lowest monthly cost estimate I could come up with costs roughly the same for a month in electricity costs as a winter’s worth of firewood. (Well, maybe a bit less now with prices of everything skyrocketing, but the demand is there.) Still, it needs to go almost 6x to be worth it.


It really would solve a lot of problems, in a relatively straightforward and abundant manner …


Nuclear is by far the greenest of energies... Per unit of power produced, it uses less carbon and is far safer than solar or wind power.


Green but potentially dangerous. Nuclear risks can be more easily managed anyway. Normalize nuclear power!


As long as those countries are happy to cover the cost of waste disposal or cleanup...


Waste disposal is a solved problem. One barrel per reactor per year is not a meaningful amount of waste.


We have 1,000s of tonnes it here in the UK. And no idea what to do with it. It just sits in barrels or pools and leaks occassionally. This is the low cost option because it's only £2bn a year ($3bn).

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/inside-sellafield-nuclear-wa...


> no idea what to do with it

This is a nonsense comment. The point of STORAGE is to do nothing with it. It's supposed to just sit there.

Also, the only "leak" mentioned in the article, was not a leak at all. It was contained in the secondary container and then moved back into a new primary container. ...and it wasn't even radioactive - it was "just" nitric acid.


By the way, with or without nuclear power, the FitFor55 proposal sounds completely unreasonable to me. 1. It projects a 35% increase of energy efficiency in 10 years. You might achieve it in virtual lifes, but not in the real world (ask a cow to burp less!?) 2. It concerns domestic net emissions. Meaning that the policy is incentiving to de-localisation of industry in China (which already explains most of the progress achieved so far).


> It concerns domestic net emissions. Meaning that the policy is incentiving to de-localisation of industry in China

This is simply not true.

The EU is trying to adress this with a mechanism called CBAM (Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism). It's complicated and not sure how well it'll work out, but claiming that this is not adressed is wrong.


> (ask a cow to burp less!?)

Are you aware of research about reducing methane by feeding cows a small amount of seaweed? I'm guessing no.




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