A 30x30m pool of radioactive fuel is nothing compared to what their powerplants are doing to the future of young generations. Is cancer caused by coal particulates really something you wish on people around you?
In order to get away from these, we have to increase electricity production significantly. And we have to build a better electricity grid.
It is completely unclear how renewable energy should provide this in the short or medium term (i.e. until 2050). Without nuclear, we’ll just continue burning fossil fuels.
And how will you construct all that sooner than constructing those plants?
However, this was all calculated for current grid conditions. Spread of BEVs would likely put dedicated grid storage needs lower, since in Germany, for each of your 1000 MW nuclear equivalents, there's 700k cars which already have ~600 MWh of storage capacity even just in form of lead-acid batteries, and even replacing just 10% of these cars with 40 kWh BEVs would give you a whopping 2.8 GWh of capacity per your 1000 MW nuclear equivalent, necessitating higher overgeneration to provide the vehicles with motive energy and lowering grid storage capacity because of demand response ("smart charging"). For reference, a 100% replacement of ICE cars with BEVs in Germany would require a ~25% increase in average power generation - by around 250 MW of average power per your 1000 MW nuclear equivalent.
Electrolytic hydrogen production would do exactly the same thing to grid storage - require more generators, and with demand response, lower grid storage capacity. Just replacing German ammonia with "green" ammonia using electrolysis would necessitate another 60 MW of average power generation per your 1000 MW equivalent that could be subject to demand response.
This is a bit of a nitpick, but this is a physical impossibility. On a AC electric network, if the power input is higher than the power output, the frequency of the current goes up quite quickly, until the grid collapses (because there are security to avoid frequency deviation). You cannot “not consume all the power you produce”, all you can do is not producing as much as you could.
Btw, I'm interested by the sources of your “1.6 GWh of storage for your 1000 MW nuclear” because it sounds really low to me. I did a simulation a while ago based on French data, for a 100% RE scenario and my calculation arrived at around 250GWh per GW of installed capacity. For sure it's not the same country, and a 60% vs 100% RE is a huge step, but the differences between those two results is a lot more than what I would expect.
A mistake I've frequently seen with people discussing wind power storage, is taking the average capacity factor and calling it a day. The storage need for wind-based power generation is enormous because (at least in France, but given the geography of Germany I'd expect it to be even worse there) you can have severe wind deficit which can last for weeks!!
I probably should have said "all the power you could produce", since for example with photovoltaics you can produce at any moment any amount of power from zero up to the MPPT point on the I/V curve, depending on how much charge you remove from the panel. I hope this clears it up.
> Btw, I'm interested by the sources of your “1.6 GWh of storage for your 1000 MW nuclear” because it sounds really low to me
I used the figures in the 2018 Zerrahn et al. article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001429211...
> I did a simulation a while ago based on French data, for a 100% RE scenario and my calculation arrived at around 250GWh per GW of installed capacity.
Maybe you've just taken Sinn's approach instead of Zerrahn's? That number would seem to fit it.
Thanks for the link !
> Maybe you've just taken Sinn's approach instead of Zerrahn's? That number would seem to fit it.
I wasn't aware of that paper (thanks again!), but from skimming Sinn's paper, our methodology seems to be pretty similar. I'm even more excited to read Zerrahn's paper now!
For instance, in my own data (France, year 2017, for the record the scenario was 100% RE) from the first of January 12am, to the 3rd at 3pm the wind capacity factor barely exceed 10%, three days in a row. For this period only you'd need 3TWh of storage! No reasonable level of curtailment is gonna help here.
: of course it doesn't have to be storage, you just need 50GW of controllable power and any fossil fuel would work (and that's what the Danish do for instance) but this is outside of the scope of this discussion, which is about how storage allows you to avoid pairing RE with fossil sources.
: I assume that nobody would consider something above 90% curtailment to be reasonable.
I'm pretty sure that they understand that. What they don't understand (and what I don't understand) is why is Sinn making the amount artificially high by ignoring the economics. I immediately understood what Zerrahn was getting at, and even before I knew how different authors approached this problem in literature, I would have myself intuitively gone for an approach like Zerrahn's. MRTS is surely not a difficult concept to grasp.
> For instance, in my own data (France, year 2017, for the record the scenario was 100% RE) from the first of January 12am, to the 3rd at 3pm the wind capacity factor barely exceed 10%, three days in a row. For this period only you'd need 3TWh of storage! No reasonable level of curtailment is gonna help here.
I can't tell you what Zerrahn's approach would tell you for the French grid. You can't really extrapolate that from German results. You'd have to pretty much re-do the whole work, including getting equivalent data for the French grid.
It's not about being difficult to grasp, it's about whether they are the right tool for the job. Which they aren't, because the temporality of the phenomenon disappear, while it is the single most crucial factor when talking about storage: 24 hours without wind in a row have a dramatically different impact from 24 days each without wind for one hour. In the first case you need enough storage for an entire day, while in the second case all you need is one hour of storage! (And that's where the two orders of magnitude come from: «several days» being ~100 times as long as «1 hour». The storage you need is strictly superior the sum of consecutive hours with a positive residual load (minus what can be produced by you non-renewable plants), to calculate this value you must keep the time (and also factor in the availability and economics of your back-up non-renewable power supply if you want to go one step further, which neither I nor Sinn did).
Sinn doesn't take economics in account, because it's not relevant to the discussion here, it's all about physics here. (And Sinn being an economist, he really deserves credit for focusing on the physics aspect).
> I can't tell you what Zerrahn's approach would tell you for the French grid. You can't really extrapolate that from German results. You'd have to pretty much re-do the whole work, including getting equivalent data for the French grid.
It would be easier to just grab the German data used by Zerrahn to reproduce Sinn's findings (because they claim them to be easily accessible). Maybe I'll have some time later in the week to do so.
I don't see how this changes anything. The difference between the two approaches is not the difference between assuming multi-day troughs in wind power vs. not assuming them (both Zerrahn and Sinn assume their existence) -- it's a difference between blindly modeling storage for all generated power so that it never goes to waste vs. modeling a grid with minimum total cost of all components included that still satisfies expected electricity production demands in all parts of a year (= that does not exceed the capabilities of any component of the system in any part of the year).
The latter approach (the feasible set of which is a superset of the feasible set of the former approach) will converge to the former ONLY IF storage costs are disproportionately low. If storage costs are substantial, the optimum will likely lie in the part of the expanded feasible set that lies outside of the original feasible set, with the consequence that the old optimum was very much local, and formed a huge red herring.
> In the first case you need enough storage for an entire day, while in the second case all you need is one hour of storage! (And that's where the two orders of magnitude come from: «several days» being ~100 times as long as «1 hour».
No, that's NOT where the difference is, and I'm dismayed that this is your takeaway from all this even after reading TFA by Zerrahn.
The difference is that Sinn assumes that if there's 1 GWh to be fulfilled in the middle of January and there's a matching 1 GWh of PV overgeneration in the middle of July, then it's perfectly reasonable to say "fine, let's store that 1 GWh for half a year until we need it in the middle of January, regardless of how expensive it is" -- because THAT is what you necessarily end up with if you're going for 0% curtailment like Sinn did.
And it turns out that economically, this is terrible idea, and once you realize it and include economics in your models, they will steer you away from the idea of zero curtailment.
> The storage you need is strictly superior the sum of consecutive hours with a positive residual load
...and Sinn makes that positive residual load artificially high compared to the economic optimum because of striving for 0% curtailment for no good reason.
> Sinn doesn't take economics in account, because it's not relevant to the discussion here, it's all about physics here. (And Sinn being an economist, he really deserves credit for focusing on the physics aspect).
Which makes it all the sadder if he first constructs a straw man and then sets fire to it, especially if it's a straw man from his own department.
> It would be easier to just grab the German data used by Zerrahn to reproduce Sinn's findings (because they claim them to be easily accessible).
But...that's what Zerrahn did? It's mentioned in the paper that they replicated Sinn's findings with their own data as a validation that they're calculating with comparable data.
No, that's Zerrahn's take on Sinn's paper, but you should not take it for granted. And the cheap shot about the «Non-robustness» of Sinn's paper should serve as a warning that Zerrahn is not really giving Sinn's paper a fair treatment.
> But...that's what Zerrahn did? It's mentioned in the paper that they replicated Sinn's findings with their own data as a validation that they're calculating with comparable data.
Yes, and now I want to re-use the same dataset, but with a proper time-based methodology so I can find a specific time period for which Zerrahn's-level of storage would lead to a network collapse (Like I did for the French data above).
So you're saying that Zerrahn lies about Sinn's paper? Are you saying that Sinn actually models wasting a part of energy to minimize costs? (Because if he doesn't, then he commits the immediately obvious mistake that I described.)
> Yes, and now I want to re-use the same dataset, but with a proper time-based methodology so I can find a specific time period for which Zerrahn's-level of storage would lead to a network collapse (Like I did for the French data above).
Why don't you just go for a MILP model? Because this clearly is a case for one. This is not really different from modeling production systems in the industry (with warehouses replaced by batteries and such). Make the total cost your minimization criteria and tell us what storage capacity you ended up with.
I've been intent for some time on applying this to the Czech grid, where it's actually somewhat simplified by the diminished need for transmission, but I have yet to gather all the necessary data.
Zerrahn presents Sinn's paper in a pretty opinionated (and unfair IMHO) way, but I wouldn't call that lying either.
> Are you saying that Sinn actually models wasting a part of energy to minimize costs? (Because if he doesn't, then he commits the immediately obvious mistake that I described.)
No, but Sinn model the system the way he does not “to avoid wasting energy”, claiming otherwise is just an attempt to ridicule him. He's modelling the system the way he does because it considers a different set of trade-offs.
> Why don't you just go for a MILP model
I'm not familiar with those, do you have a good introduction?
> I've been intent for some time on applying this to the Czech grid, where it's actually somewhat simplified by the diminished need for transmission, but I have yet to gather all the necessary data.
AFAIK the guys making Electritymap have open-sourced all their data sources, maybe it can help.
OK, what are the trade-offs that could possibly warrant going for a set of restrictions that massively impact TCO? For example, in a somewhat related area, one thing that seems plausible is unavailability of a resource: induction motors and generators are less efficient than permanent magnet motors and generators but they avoid supply vulnerability for certain chemical elements, so including them for comparison in a sensitivity analysis is reasonable. But for this situation I don't really see an analogical justification -- or at least I don't see one that would be immediately obvious.
> I'm not familiar with those, do you have a good introduction?
That's just mathematical economics 101. You didn't have a linear programming course?
> AFAIK the guys making Electritymap have open-sourced all their data sources, maybe it can help.
I don't necessarily mean national grid data -- I have that already. Mostly what I'm missing is transmission data on a sub-national level, and performance and cost estimates of several pumped storage plants that would be binary variables in the model (since each of the proposed sites has different parameters, they're not even integer variables the same way that for example nuclear reactor blocks would be - they have to be a set of binary (built/not-built) options in the solution).
Unfortunatly this project was cancelled since Germany taxes electricity from batteries two times: Once when charging the battery and once when discharging it (since it is then seen as "producing" electricity).
Sure, we have to deal with the waste ourselves, but you're just dumping yours in everyone's air.
The energy needs we have and the land avaialable in Europe for forest makes this impossible without importing 'bio-mass' wood pellets at which point the ecological argument goes out the wind. 
No, they did not. https://www.cleanenergywire.org/sites/default/files/styles/p...
Coal is the primary source of electricity this year
> > No, they did not.
> There have been several recent stories about the increase in coal usage this year.
But was there any closure of nuclear power plants in Germany this year? If not, you cannot say that this increase was because they have switched from nuclear to coal; they must have switched from something else.
That story implies that Germany this year switched from wind to coal (due to weaker winds), not from nuclear.
Coal in the primary source of electricity. If they hadn’t reduced nuclear, coal could almost be gone?
“ Nuclear power in Germany accounted for 11.63% of electricity supply in 2017 compared to 22.4% in 2010”
If you have a way to increase the renewable capacity to make up for a decrease in nuclear production, why not do that anyway, and shut down more coal production instead of nuclear?
For sake of a simple example, let's say you have nuclear, renewable, and coal power plants, and you have 600 TWh of electricity consumption in a year and you have 200 TWh of nuclear power contribution and 200 TWh of renewable power contribution. You then need to burn coal worth 200 TWh to compensate for the rest. The next year the nuclear power contribution is the same at 200 TWh, since it's weather-independent, but weather variations allow you to generate only 150 TWh of renewable electricity. You now need to burn 250 TWh worth of coal; 50 TWh worth of coal more than the last year.
Let's assume that you shut down 100 TWh/y worth of nuclear plants a few years ago. Your energy needs today are the same. You have 600 TWh of electricity consumption in a year and you have only 100 TWh of nuclear power contribution in this scenario, and 200 TWh of renewable power contribution. You then need to burn coal worth 300 TWh to compensate for the rest. The next year the nuclear power contribution is the same at the decreased level of 100 TWh, since it's weather-independent, but weather variations allow you to generate only 150 TWh of renewable electricity. You now need to burn 350 TWh worth of coal; 50 TWh worth of coal more than the last year.
See how in both scenarios you need 50 TWh worth of coal more in the latter year because of weather variability? The argument was that the nuclear shutdowns changed the coal uptick. The shutdowns clearly didn't cause the uptick, or even affect its size, unless they happened inter-annually (which to my knowledge they didn't).
As for increasing RE contribution, that is happening in Germany regardless. In fact shutting down the most expensive-to-run old nuclear plants might liberate some money for extra renewables expansion, although I'd have to check on the exact numbers.
This doesn't make sense unless nuclear power plants blow additional wind. See my other comment for a simple example. Keeping nuclear plants alive vs. not keeping them alive doesn't change the picture of inter-annual generation changes unless those shutdowns happened exactly between those two years.
The renewable power production is down for up to 40% and french nuclear power being in maintenance mode has caused the coal consumption to rise significantly.
Waste is just partially burned fuel. There is only ONE reason why it exists.
We made a political choice that storing partially burned fuel instead of reprocessing is safer than allow people have technology that can also create nuclear weapons.
The switch was from nuclear to renewables. Coal was stable for a long time, and is now decreasing. Coal is currently scheduled to be phased out by 2038.
Source: Quick Google image search for the power sources over time plots.
Which plot did you use exactly? Another comment written before yours seems to indicate it's not the case: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28856599
> Coal was stable for a long time, and is now decreasing.
Over which time period?
The stats in the article they link indicate a switch from 21 to 27% for coal, from 52 to 44% for renewables, when comparing the first halves of 2020 and 2021. If there's a downward trend, it's less than obvious.
The future is neither coal, nor nuclear.
A lot of solid waste can be reprocessed, though doing so requires regulatory and logistical challenges to be solved that apparently only France has figured out.
Nuclear waste, comparatively, is not the problem. The risk of accidents, proliferation, and the generally higher cost of engineering are. Every energy technology produces waste, too. As others have mentioned, coal-fired plants produce literally thousands of times the radiation of a nuclear plant, blasting that right into the atmosphere in the form of radioactive fly ash, as well as huge amounts of CO2 and particulates. The production of solar panels is not waste free. Nothing is waste free.
The nuclear waste argument is a distraction. Nuclear power, of all the options, all things considered, leaves the smallest scar on the planet of all the options available to us. Solar panels, wind, hydro, they all require land use changes that are a big impact on the planet. Uranium mining is comparatively small in terms of its impact. So IMHO nuclear is the best option.
We should do calculations that include all parts of the production pipeline for parts--factories, mines for raw materials, the trucks, the fuel, all of it, as well as the opportunity cost of not using that infrastructure for something else.
I just don't get this mindset. People prefer killing literaly millions of persons right now while there's a safer alternative. That's incredible, really.
It's completely unnecessary to do that. So many people have this misconception.
If you combine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reprocessing with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor you burn up everything, leaving very little waste.
> In 2010 the International Panel on Fissile Materials said "After six decades and the expenditure of the equivalent of tens of billions of dollars, the promise of breeder reactors remains largely unfulfilled and efforts to commercialize them have been steadily cut back in most countries".
If it was important enough we could do it. The government could also mandate it, and we could feed them all the existing nuclear waste.
And people are choosing to switch.
There is simply no more time, the only option is to stop burning at any and all costs.
"Der Graslutscher" has written 6 parts about "Energy transition in 10 years". Sorry it is in german but it is worth reading.
I get that the Cold War hurt a lot in Germany. I've met my distant relatives stuck on both sides of the iron curtain, for example. That would have made issues of proliferation and whatnot extra salient.
But the fact of the matter is that the environmental problems we face now completely dwarf whatever environmental problems were being chased after then.
You have to realized that when you thought you were fighting the end-game boss, but you were actually fighting the mid-game boss which is the minion and now the big boss has shown up, everything changes.
Please connect those necessary readjustments to thinking more critically about economics and whole-system things in general, to connect my two points, and we'll all be very happy.
Nuclear waste is easy to store and not voluminous compared to oil and gas waste. The US for example designated a waste mountain in Nevada that could store all of our waste but is not using it yet due to politics.
Nuclear is FAR safer than oil and gas and even the worst tragedies like Chernobyl or 3 Mile Island did a tiny fraction of the damage oil and gas to every year.
People always mention that as an argument. I'm pretty sure that we could figure out a solution if we actually worked on it. Given how far we've come over the last 100 years, I don't see this as a problem that we couldn't solve over the next 100 years.
Every form of energy production has disadvantages, but I cannot really say that ending nuclear was a mistake if it isn't just exchanged for coal and I don't believe this is the case. Maybe we could have opted to let remaining plants run for longer, but Germany actually never had that many of them anyway.
Uranium isn't available anywhere and some say it may deplete at some point. I think this problem is not in focus because nuclear is still a small part of overall energy production. But it could very well be a problem, especially if countries increase nuclear.
edit: A bit disappointed in Theo Sommer here. I think he got swept up by wrong information about costs and benefits here. Otherwise a great writer.
edit 2: They just argue to keep plants running, that might be a sensible decision, depends on the numbers.
Just bury them to hell: https://www.deepisolation.com/
So unfortunately they never managed to overcome the initial “should we even seriously try it” cost/benefit analysis
>The cost of generating solar power ranges from $36 to $44 per megawatt hour (MWh), the WNISR said, while onshore wind power comes in at $29–$56 per MWh. Nuclear energy costs between $112 and $189.
-- John Maynard Keynes
Investments look more bad than they should when:
- We ignore externalities
- We ignore that demand changes too, whether in response to monetary magic, or simply do to elasticity (it was always there, we just didn't know it).
This applies to both Keynes's examples and nuclear.
(Consider this year's Nobel, awarded to people who demonstrated....we were doing it wrong.)
The key word in that text above is "every" - as part of the whole statement it indicates they're suggesting there should be some exceptions, not that the economic aspect of everything should be ignored.
It's a mission of mine to make (Post-)Keynesianism an essential part of Engineering from a holistic perspective.
The economy won't run at "full speed" left to its own devices, and new technology will have a harder time making it out of the research phase without full speed. VCs, being strictly supply-side, are not equipped to solve the problem. (Trying to do everything from the supply side is like trying to "push a string".)
And from a more personal angle, the "inventor distraught about being misunderstand by the world" is well-ingrained meme now. Better we have the science to understand what's really going on than not.
Cheap wind and solar electricity is absolutely useless if it cannot be produced on demand.
Nuclear produces electricity 24/7, independent of weather with no backup required.
The kWh costs 30 cents in Germany, but 15 cents in France.
Actually, no. Heatwaves can and did disable thermal plants in the past:
This is an problem that will only be intensified by climate change.
When the plant is not offline…
I don't think it's a major problem with a network of nuclear plants, you can plan the fuel replacement and have a steady power supply (nationwide). You can control when the downtime happens, unlike in other power sources.
If you want it today, there's the nuclear radioisotope thermoelectric generator, in use since the 50s and used on many spacecraft.
> The kWh costs 30 cents in Germany, but 15 cents in France.
International comparisons are useless without comparison of pricing structure. That includes for example the tax regime, fees mandated, etc.
A lack of wind from January to March this year sharply reduced the amount of electricity produced by Germany's wind turbines. In contrast, stormy weather in the first quarters of 2019 and 2020 sharply boosted the electricity produced."
The wind might go at night, or it might not, or it might not for months.
Oh and with temperatures well below 0, I need to heat my house somehow!
Ground is irrelevant; there's a reason why wind turbines are being put on top of tall towers.
For example this one, rotor diameter 220m, highest point 248m.
I doubt that article is correct.
Long term we’ll use a mix of big grids, over provisioned renewables, and grid level storage to smooth this out, but we’re not there yet. Right now the choice is between a nuclear power plant during these moments, or a natural gas one.
Well, gas and coal. Germany is still ~26% coal in 2021.
Edit: Maybe 50% coal if you look at consumption, not just generation, per 'incrudible.
: https://www.cleanenergywire.org/sites/default/files/styles/g... (Lignite is a kind of coal)
Or using Swedish, Norwegian hydro and wind together with German, British and Danish wind. These links are on the same scale as nuclear reactors.
Germany <-> Norway (2021) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NordLink
UK <-> Norway (2021) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Sea_Link
UK (Scotland) <-> Norway (On hold by Norway, cleared on Scottish side) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NorthConnect
Denmark <-> Norway (1977) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skagerrak_(power_transmission_...
Also, coal emissions kill 100,000 people yearly, 25,000 in Europe alone. Yes, it’s evil.
The UK power grid has pumped hydro storage for decades to handle a huge tick in power demand every time the BBC goes to commercial break during a very popular program, as everyone simultaneously goes to make a cup of tea with their several-kilowatt electric kettle.
> Right now the choice is between a nuclear power plant during these moments, or a natural gas one.
False dilemma. You left out energy storage, of which there are multiple proven technologies.
Iron chemistry batteries are looking like the biggest win. Non-toxic, cheap, simple, easily scaled, easy to build and maintain, and the materials needed are bountiful...and there are working production systems right now.
Pumped hydro is a pretty good choice for grid level storage today, but it has some pretty severe terrain limitations. There’s lots of places that will never use it because the terrain won’t allow it.
Of course there’s the issue of the actual numbers. Pumped hydro can store a ton of power in terms of watt hours, but the peak output in watts is very low. UK pumped hydro can produce 2.8GW of power combined. Pretty impressive until you realize that that’s less than some single nuclear plants. Blayais produces 3.6GW, Cattenom produces 5.2GW, etc. etc. A typical modern reactor has a nameplate capacity of 1.3GW or higher; literally adding a single reactor to an existing power plant is equivalent to half of the UK’s pumped hydro capacity.
The big advantage of pumped hydro is that you can combine power production with water storage, which is good! But it is not capable of producing enough power to enable a 100% renewable grid, and probably never will.
> False dilemma. You left out energy storage, of which there are multiple proven technologies.
Huh? I “left out” energy storage? I literally said “grid level storage” in the full sentence, you just cut it out when you quoted me.
To reiterate: I didn’t “leave out” energy storage. I do not believe that we have enough energy storage yet to make fossil fuel plants unnecessary, especially as we push to electrify everything (transit, industry, etc.). One day we will be there, but currently we’re woefully short. It’s my assertion that nuclear power is a good way to bridge the gap while we keep building storage, because as of today we’re literally burning fossil fuels when renewables fall short of demand for whatever reason.
> Iron chemistry batteries are looking like the biggest win. Non-toxic, cheap, simple, easily scaled, easy to build and maintain, and the materials needed are bountiful...and there are working production systems right now.
Sounds great, how many gigawatt hours are installed, or are being installed now, and how much can/will they be able to produce?
Some loads can be moved, such as ev charging, but others cannot. The issue is that a lot of consumer load is less shiftable than you suppose. House heating (presumably we’d electrify this, because global warming) cannot be deferred for too long, and most households go through a hot water tank a day. These loads can be deferred for short periods of time, but proposing that people go without hot water or temperature control for even moderate periods of time is a political non starter. From an infrastructure standpoint it’s also worth mentioning how many people die and how many buildings get ruined by even a few days without power during severe weather events, which is often exactly when prices would rise.
A holistic view of the situation shows that while there is some smart grid stuff we can do, we still need to provide a guaranteed minimum worth of power generation no matter what. Ideally this would come from grid level storage so that we can run everything off renewables, but we’re just not there yet. The reality is that until we get there, the choice is between nuclear power and some other form of fossil fuel, typically natural gas. I think on the whole we’d be well served to commission one last set of nuclear power plants to get us through this crisis, and plan on decommissioning them in 2050 or so once grid level storage makes them obsolete.
Probably easier to leave a bunch of nuclear power plants in standby, actually.
I'm somewhat pessimistic about large scale fossil fuel production ending in the world anytime soon. We'll have a long tail petering out period probably where the products get progressively more expensive, and if we avoid the mad max scenario, at some point get displaced by synthetic compatible fuels.
(For the record my house is very well insulated because I agree with you emphatically, but I also recognize that I have the material means to afford that insulation/construction cost that not everyone else is able to)
Night time is usually when heating is most needed.
Shifting AC to night time in hot regions would be more impressive.
If we are still talking about cold climates where houses are well insulated, it's a more convenient timing but not really needed. If you cut heating for half the night or even more, indoor temp won't drop too much even if outdoor temp is notably lower than day time. It might drop a few degrees as you are sleeping warmly tucked in, but that's not dangerous, and you can still heat your bedroom if you want to avoid even that slight adjustment.
From 2020 to 2021, Coal is up 8%, Wind is down 7%, Solar is down 1%.
Non-renewable in total is up 8% and renewable is down 8%.
If they can find a battery solution that actually works, then that would be amazing, but existing solutions clearly aren't cutting it.
While it might cost more, nuclear power is extremely reliable and offers energy independence, a form of national security that is vital with Russian pipelines strongly influencing the geopolitics of the region. I hope better batteries can offer them the same, because it's sad watching coal expand dramatically.
Things that work at a small scale don't necessarily work at massive scale.
* Solar and wind are here to stay and they mean we need fast-reacting spare capacity and storage. Nuclear power plants are very slow to react and because they are so monumentally expensive they have to run at as high capacity as possible, as much as possible. They are strictly base load.
* Siting a nuclear power plant is very difficult just in terms of geology. Siting a nuclear power plant is very difficult grid-wise as well, because they are only cost-effective at massive scale. Super-high-voltage DC transmission systems can help, but they only tack on more to the project cost. You can't just inject gigawatts of power anywhere you want. And it isn't just injection that is the problem. Nuclear power plants that are not producing power need massive amounts of electricity to get things like cooling pumps running or keep them running until everything is up to temperature and you can get the turbines up to temperature and speed. Then there's the matter of needing sufficient cooling - usually done via river, ocean, or lake. Except climate change and other factors are making those sources of cooling increasingly unreliable (for example: invasive species like zebra mussels have made life hell for a lot of power plants)
* Nuclear power plants require lots of highly trained people to design, operate, and maintain. More power plants means more of them. Training them up isn't a short term affair. Solar and wind require far less of all of this. And frankly, I have serious doubts about societal stability in 20-30 years, and nuclear power plants are not even remotely friendly to any sort of societal instability. Not just in terms of security, but upkeep. They have very complex, deep supply chain needs.
* Building nuclear power plants from the start of planning to grid synchronization takes a decade or two, and it then takes another decade or so for the plant to become carbon-neutral in part due to the massive amount of concrete they require. Right now, we need to be reducing carbon footprint as much as possible, as fast as possible. Not causing huge increases in carbon footprint that will only balance out well past catastrophic climate conditions.
* Nuclear reactor containment vessels can only be constructed by a small handful of facilities and their capacity is very limited, and by and large already spoken for. We can't just wave a wand and start building more reactors tomorrow. Or even in the next several years.
* Nuclear waste may be a "solved" problem tech-wise as nuclear power proponents are fond of saying, but reality is that nuclear waste is a huge problem. Even short-term storage is a problem, as demonstrated, again, by Fukashima where fuel cooling ponds caught on fire.
Time and time again we demonstrate that we are not responsible enough to handle nuclear power; we've had numerous military nuclear power disasters; the commercial ones haven't stopped, either. A "1st world" country, arguably one of the most technologically advanced ones around, repeatedly bumbled every aspect of Fukashima, starting with the plant's design, its maintenance and procedures, and the response to the incident. What was Japan's excuse?
How many Mulligans does nuclear power need?
You know what happens when a solar or wind power plant is incompetently designed or run? A bunch of people lose lots of money. You don't end up with thousands of square miles of land uninhabitable. You don't need people with years of training supervising a bunch of solar panels. Maintenance on a wind turbine is a standard-industrial-equipment sort of job, no bunny suits required.
You know what happens when a country with solar or wind power has a government that is full of incompetent suit-stuffing chair-warming morons, or gets taken over by a despot dictator, or has an economic collapse? Nothing.
If you want to look to the future in power grids, look at the iron chemistry liquid batteries that are non-toxic and almost trivial to deploy at electrical substations. They can provide spare capacity at the neighborhood/regional level while helping balance distribution loads and allow those neighborhoods to continue to function in isolation in the event of transmission grid problems.
Flying is also dangerous and is treated as such.
Just like the aviation industry has had an excellent track record in managing the danger, so has the nuclear industry. Just look at the number of victims of nuclear in the past 30 years. One (1) dead at Fukushima.
Chernobyl killed thousands, but it's as relevant to the safety of the industry in 2021 as a 1950s Antonov is to an Airbus.
Energy storage. See my last paragraph.
It's where a considerable amount of research and capital investment has been going and there are already numerous systems in use. Tesla's grid-scale batteries, pumped hydro around the world in numerous locations including the US, UK, Australia, and Europe.
Iron chemistry liquid batteries are in private commercial and grid use right now, likely to see widespread adoption in the coming years. It's cheap to manufacture, nontoxic, easily serviced, easily scaled.
Also, you can phone up your local solar installer today and get a battery storage system for your house or business. Some require a grid, others have transfer switches and will happily run off-grid. This has been the case for a number of years now.
> Everything about nuclear is slow, difficult, expensive, dangerous.
While this might not be true for the latest generation of reactors in development (of which ofcourse no failures are know because they don't exist) it applies well to the current nuclear infrastructure Germany has.
The UK is suffering the most from the drop in wind power output, caused by mild weather. The country, which prides itself on its wind capacity and whose Prime Minister last year said wind farms could power every home by 2030, produced less than 1 GW of wind power on several days. This compares with a generation capacity of 24 GW, according to ICIS senior energy economist Stefan Konstantinov.
One would think that if you seriously believed that the climate is going to rapidly change, then you would seek out climate-independent sources of energy. It's like predicting the world will be in drought but then advocating for more hydro power. But perhaps I don't understand the full nuances of European politics.
'The islands with too much power'
For instance, wind requires mining huge quantities of rare earth metals in open-air hellscapes in Mongolia, referred to as "the worst place on earth."  The two hundred meter tall towers and their giant blades are also built of fiberglass (an epoxy/glass mix) which cannot be recycled and are instead buried. 
Similarly solar panels are often made with cadmium and tellurium, and various other toxic chemicals which leech out of the panels when placed into landfills. The US for instance has no solar panel recycling mandate except in Washington State. The world already has a massive e-waste problem.
By 2050, there will be 78 million metric tons of solar panels to dispose of. 
Solar panels then have to be supplemented with vast quantities of lithium for temporary storage.
Solar and wind aren't "green" they're "less black."
Nuclear produces 2000 metric tons of waste per year in the US while amounting to 20% of the entire grid, 0.85TWh per year.
How much does Germany spend on the military? Cancel it, and spend the money on nuclear power. Otherwise Germany has a significant strategic weakness (gas imports) to Russia, its only realistic enemy.
Big mess, sure, but no meltdown.
Also remember war is really bad no matter what. If someone blow up all the powerplants regardless of sort, a huge portion of people will die simply because the lack of electricity.
The cost to keep a reactor that's already been built going is low.
Building new reactors is another question.
There aren't going to be any LWRs started and finished outside of China.
The LWR is doomed by the same thing that stopped the construction of coal burning plants circa 1980. Even if the heat was free, the capital cost of the steam turbine, heat exchangers and other parts that accept large amounts of low quality heat is too high. (Consider that the steam generators in a PWR are much bigger than the reactor core and have to be inside the reactor vessel, be earthquake-proof, ...)
Reactors that operate at a higher temperature such as the liquid metal fast reactor, molten salt reactor and high-temperature gas cooled reactor could be coupled to something like
which fits in the employee break room in the turbine house at a conventional nuclear power plant. So long as water is not involved you can make the heat exchangers small as well, see
There are difficult challenges to building any "4th generation" nuclear reactor, but they have a chance of being economically competitive, even without subsidies.
The need to keep nuclear in the short term is based solely on the urgency of the climate crisis.
Cost is irrelevant in the face of extinction.
We have a couple centuries to figure out wind and solar economics if we convert all coal and gas to nuclear immediately.
Because at the moment, wind isn't doing so well, there being a wind-drought for the last few months and all.
Out here in the real world, people are paying $200/MWh and hedge funds are making billions.
A world without nuclear reactors or enrichment facilities is a world without nuclear weapons. Any medium or large industrialized country with power reactors could build nukes very quickly. It's bad enough half a dozen already have. This notion keeps some people up at night, I think. If you consider nuclear weapons to be an existential threat to the species -- perhaps worse than climate change -- then building infrastructure that would allow their more easy construction might seem like madness.
It’s an interesting though actually, that coming up with new, presumably more deadly weapons, can lead to a less horrendous world.
Your question is good but it doesn't have the answer you seem to think it does! These things feed into each other, so while it might be unreasonable to say "no commercial airlines means no military air vehicles" (I hesitate to say fighter jet because I do think that would be a casualty), it would also be unreasonable to say that "no commercial airlines means no impact on military air technology".
You might think, hey, the military has got some strong advancements the rest of us don't even know about, whos to say that wouldn't be the case? Well, the people working on that tech went to college and got educations in a field that had employment opportunities, and likely would not have if those opportunities didn't exist. Just think about all the supporting industries that are very specific. The aluminum alloys, the manufacturing methods for these high tolerance parts, the electrical systems, the fuel systems etc. You just aren't going to get very far without a civilian populace implicitly backing the effort.
The risk if Nuclear Energy proliferation is the waste being used in a dirty bomb.
Nuclear waste spread out in Manhtatten might not kill people, but it could make the city, or parts of it unlivable for a long time. At minimum a big disaster.
So in order for the Nuclear future to work, we'd need to set standards that have teeth.
The issue is not Canada or Germany, it's Venezuela or Colombia where there is corruption, political instability, lack of oversight, and then a local antagonist can sneak in and grab materials. Cover ups, finger pointing, refusing to allow inspectors in lest they assess the level of corruption, it all falls down while the baddies take their stolen gear to other, more ideological bad actors.
There are long term storage issues but I think those can be worked out.
Nuclear Energy is basically free Energy to any group of people civil enough to manage it.
I understand that with adequate supervision from the IEA proliferation is generally a non-issue.
Lithuania had its own nuclear power plant, which is currently being decommission, so it's not that they are just playing the NIMBY card without knowing what they are talking about.
But ultimately both are semi-opt-in so I guess your point stands.
He also has a great Substack where he writes on a variety of topics, including nuclear power. He just wrote an article titled "Nations Go Nuclear As Prices Spike & Renewables Fail" that is timely: https://michaelshellenberger.substack.com/p/nations-go-nucle...
Regrettably he is unreliable in much of his other climate advocacy. He seems to have been radicalized by climate alarmism and has swung too far the other way, espousing poorly supported lukewarmist positions.
I wonder if people have modeled for how fast that could be done, and how expensive it would be. We have the technology (cf. grid scale storage, there is a fascination array of options, several of which are tried and tested), it's "just" a matter of scaling it up.
The current plan only phases out coal by 2038 which seems... way way way too late. Cf. https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/spelling-out-coal...
One of the blocks was really old so I'm glad to see it go. I'm in favor of building new, safer reactors. Bill Gates is an investor in a startup that developed such a design, but it will probably be hard to get it tested.
China apparently also has made advances.
This letter signed by 25 "intellectuals" (oddly vague name for writers and journalists) is part of the puzzle insofar as it gets the discussion into the news. But unless there is a sustained conversation which carries the attention of the public and really drives and beats back the misinformation back to the shadows, nothing will change.
The same tired anti-nuclear talking points need to be systemically deconstructed and refuted over and over again until it is pushed into being a fringe belief.
Unfortunately humans are really not set up to have these conversations about "boring" things like global warming and nuclear energy. Unless there is a crisis front and center (like the pandemic) it is hard to reverberate change throughout society.
I'm not sure what the answer is, but watching all this play out is like witnessing a devastating car crash happen in slow motion, and being helpless to do anything to prevent it.
https://delong.typepad.com/kalecki43.pdf does justice to the full employment situation, and the same arguments apply. In the econ case it's kind of incredible we filled our minds with nonsense to convince ourselves the thing we had been doing is no longer possible. I suppose the nuclear hysteria served the same roll.
To be clear, I am not trying to argue some sort of conspiracy here. I think it all happened organically, which is frankly even more fascinating. Shows that "truth is endogenous" and the post-modernists had a point long before people whined about Trump.
And IMO the same political forces are behind both -- it's a nasty mix of elites and high income professionals who genuinely believe people need to suffer. They love austerity, and micromanagement of the population. It's the same reason we have ugly architecture, because the architects think we deserve to be surrounded by ugly, inhuman buildings.
And the econ-sadists are more than happy to punish the eco-masochists.
An interesting one to bring up. There is a cultural dimension, but also the fact the modern architecture is much less labor intensive even though it will break down.
Generally I like such a response to labor shortages, but clearly we've gone wrong. Perhaps we just need to value key buildings more, based on a long lifespan, and just admit they will be crawling with craftsman to a large degree?
Or, we can get more serious about improving construction productivity to make it less 0-sum. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khrushchyovka are pretty ugly, but might nonetheless have a better "beauty * efficiency" score than much more prestigious modern architecture?
Check out the famous debate between Christopher Alexander (traditionalist) and Peter Eisenman (modernist) in 1982. They were discussing a modernist arcade by Moneo, pictured here:
Moneo's arcade is intentionally designed to be uncomfortable. It does not provide any shade. It does not protect well from the rain. It is not human scale. It draws attention to itself. It is intentionally jarring and unpleasant.
In short, it does not fulfill the traditional role of an arcade, which is as a shaded, quiet place from which to enjoy a garden or public place.
You can read the debate here:
Eisenman basically points out that we no longer believe the "old cosmology" and it's time for a "new" cosmology, one which tries to "invert" or find the "negative" values of the old cosmology. That the world is filled with anxiety and disharmony and so architecture, to be "truthful", should reflect that ugliness. These are intentional design elements to make things unpleasant. It has nothing to do with labor costs or expense. Modernist buildings are not cheap, and when you take into account that most of them are disposable and have huge maintenance costs (due to being made of concrete rather than brick, and not taking into account those old fashioned things like putting eaves on windows to limit water damage). In other words, there is real sadism here. Intentional unpleasantness. A desire to inflict punishment on the masses.
There is a nice write up here: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/10/why-you-hate-contempo...
Now compare this to the medieval cathedral. Only a fool would think that modern life is more unpleasant than medieval life. But they built aspirational buildings to capture the beauty of the divine. We make buildings to capture our longing for self-annihilation. We are surrounded by life and long for death. They were surrounded by death and celebrated life.
I guess having spent a lot of time with "western art music", I've seen what happens when people tried to transcend culture over the last 100 years in what is ultimately a culturally-specific practice. With music, people have other choices, with buildings the effective monopoly is quite something.
The forum post doesn't really render right for me, but I'll check out the others, thanks.
How about electricity that doesn't flow through a meter because it goes from the roof into the socket?
Might as well take better advantage of the land we already annihilated. But taking out a bunch more is iffy.
May as well ask why we use wind turbines when they might take off and start dropping napalm.
They can and they do (see: Chernobyl, Fukushima). But it's not a nuclear explosion (as you say, it's not possible with their fuel enrichment and geometry); it's a steam or hydrogen explosion.
But there are a lot of people who think a nuclear reactor can level a city, which is totally impossible.
Nevermind the hugely powerful car industry.
Nuclear currently is not able to that because of cost: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:20201019_Levelized_C...
Also new nuclear reactor projects are getting finished too slow: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPR_(nuclear_reactor)#Plants_u...
If wind and solar remain cheapest per MW*hr they will grow to saturation.
Unfortunately, it seems those who are against are working with very outdated information and 'tropes' w.r.t. nuclear safety and whatnot. Quite unfortunate.
- Germany trying to find a nuclear waste deposit since ages (that doesn't have to be evacuated due to ground water later on)*
- Failed nuclear plants we're deconstructing since ages and are paying millions every year to do so
- Nuclear fuel expected to be depleted in the next 100 years
- State and taxpayers always having to pay for the disasters of nuclear plants, while the gains are going to the companies
- French nuclear plants that had some interesting failures in the last years, while we can just watch and hope they're treated correctly. Meanwhile you're told "nono, everything is fine".
Theoretically nuclear power can be effective. Practically we're using corporations that want to profit and have a human factor. So no wonder it's not safe to operate in reality. The next fukushima could be at your door, with your government then also claiming the radiation to be safe, because they can't afford to keep people out of their work and houses for so long.
No nuclear company is insured for the real amount of money they'd have to pay for the next fukushima or Tschernobyl. Because there is no insurance for that amount of money.
* And USA still pouring money into a final solution for a underground storage
Also I don't give much about USA and their regulations. It's the country with stories like these:
And oh wonder:
I could even suspect USA influence to prevent more solar money to china or gas/oil money to russia.
"Failed nuclear plants"
That's not quite true and doesn't have to happen.
"Nuclear fuel expected to be depleted in the next 100 years"
This is just plain wrong. Maybe 1000 years even then, we are extracting a tiny fraction of the energy. As we get better, all that 'waste' is actually 'fuel'.
Far from a bad example, France is a good example.
If France were to have built 2x the capacity instead of stopping where they did, they might have already been Carbon Neutral.
Is sounds like you just have a problem with authority.
Even with all nuclear disasters included it is still a far safer energy source (in deaths per kWh) than any other we have ever developed.
And that figure about 100 years? Wildly misleading.
The same fact is true about oil. Except we keep discovering more, and we would with uranium as well if demand was increasing enough.
In addition, and most importantly, nuclear plants that reprocess fuel have enough supply to generate all of humanity's exponentially growing power needs for 10,000+ years.
Waste can be refined to safe levels these days. It's just not being done on a wide scale.
> Failed nuclear plants we're deconstructing since ages and are paying millions every year to do so
We're paying unfathomable amounts of money dealing with carbon emissions - way more than millions, which is a drop in the bucket of taxpayer revenue, anyway.
> Nuclear fuel expected to be depleted in the next 100 years
And? That's 100 years of clean energy and a more livable planet. 100 years for more research. 100 years for other forms of energy capture or generation.
It's 100 years of bought time.
> State and taxpayers always having to pay for the disasters of nuclear plants, while the gains are going to the companies
"always" makes it sound like every week involves another nuclear "disaster". That's not accurate, at all.
There are a few other lists that are related but I imagine this is what you intended. Please study the amount of people affected, directly, by those incidents.
By contrast, the heat wave this year killed at least 2,300 people in India alone.
> French nuclear plants that had some interesting failures in the last years, while we can just watch and hope they're treated correctly. Meanwhile you're told "nono, everything is fine".
Who is saying "everything is fine"? That's a seemingly extreme reduction of public outreach, especially since the IAEA has been trying to do good about being transparent with the world's nuclear operations.
> No nuclear company is insured for the real amount of money they'd have to pay for the next fukushima or Tschernobyl.
While I don't disagree things could be improved there, I'm so tired of Chernobyl being used as some "all nuclear is bad" example. Chernobyl was a cost-cutting endeavor, and the design was known to be faulty well before it failed. It was implemented in an incredibly corrupt system and poorly operated. The safety measures were not developed yet, and regulatory committees simply didn't exist at the time like they do now.
Chernobyl ignored the science. It was, quite literally, a ticking time bomb. Yes, we could be doomed to repeat this if we so chose, but that's such a far reaching example that it's throwing the baby out with the bath water.
> It's the country with stories like these:
This is entirely unrelated and FUD from two clearly biased publications.
> I could even suspect USA influence to prevent more solar money to china or gas/oil money to russia.
This is speculation, fullstop.
Please tell me more about how it is bad, or do you only cherry pick your arguments?
Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder oversaw the shutdown of Germany's nukes.
Now he's on the board of Rosneft, a giant fossil fuel company controlled by the Russian Government.
Everyone knows that, and there are even more such scandals. Yet a lot of people vote for them (at least they got their worst ever election results in this years elections)
This is incorrect.
Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after the Fukushima desaster. This was well into Merkels's chancellorship, and there are still nuclear power plants.
Cost is already a lost cause for the new reactors. No one making them expects to break even without subsidies.
For waste and safety, we'll see. But given it will take 40 years to tell and the last generations except the first were all sold as completely waste free and impervious to any incident...
This is the big issue with nuclear: it will take 40 years and billions of dollars to find out (and maybe some additional meltdowns and tonnes and tonnes of waste) to find out.
I’ve yet to see a reactor selling power to the grid 5 years after construction approval.
conservation and efficiency are huge opportunities being squandered right now. "We need McDonalds right now" is almost similar -- superficial and demanding. Spend your own money on nukes then, tell everyone about how great they are
there are maintenance-less designs which generate power for 30 years perhaps, after which they can be dug out of their pits and shipped to the factory for refueling/reprocessing - or glassed and buried. smaller, closer to power recipients, 100% passively cooled in case of scram, like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshiba_4S. i'm afraid that ship has sailed, though, and the coal/natgas/large scale battery storage have their own non-trivial challenges.
It is like if there is a crash it is going to be very bad. But it is also true that your chances to have a crash in a car is just higher.
No exploding coal plant will render a whole region unlivable for >30 years. Both happened at Tschernobyl and Fukushima.
According to this , for every death caused by nuclear power, 350 people die because of coal power.
Note that most of these people died as a consequence of Chernobyl accident (~4000 vs ~500), so by current standards Nuclear Power is probably even safer.
The issue with nuclear is that deaths are concentrated in a few "big" accidents, that have much more visibility and leave a lasting impressions, thus scaring the population much more. (This is not unique to nuclear power though, something similar happens with plane vs car travel: the latter causes generally more deaths, but plan accidents are more newsworthy).
That’s pretty nasty, I’d rather be close to a nuclear power plant.
Unlivable for humans. The exclusion zone around Chernobyl became a de facto wild-life sanctuary. To the extent that some environmentalists now argue benefits of officially maintaining it as one indefinitely. Human supporting activities such as farming, mining and habitat expansion often come at a serious cost to local ecosystems. Nature ends up flourishing over time in humans excluded regions exactly because they are unlivable for > 30 years.
As pointed out by others, one effect of burning coal is the concentration of its radioactive elements in fly ash. And since less care is taken, more radioactive material ends up released into the environment by coal plants than nuclear plants. It's worth pointing out however, when contrasted with background, risks from exposure to radioactivity is not significantly raised by living near coal plants. The real killer from coal is pollution. Having said that, accumulation of fly ash over time could be a concern, especially wherever it gathered under non-uniform dispersal. As far as I know, this is yet to be shown.
Perhaps a stronger example of society's inconsistent reasoning about radioactivity exposure is inhalation of tobacco smoke. It's curious that information on the significant amounts of radioactive material in tobacco smoke did not percolate widely and probably would not have changed habits anyway, given its known carcinogenic nature was already not enough to do so.
The reverse of your analogy would be if cigarettes were actually good for you but we banned them because two people died of lung cancer.
Truly, it's new built nuclear compared compared to renewables, storage and long-distance distance transmission. Spatial and temporal arbitrage of energy.
You can get life insurance/death benefits as a mercenary or even as a centarian. It will be expensive because of the high risk of payout but you can get it. Because while it is probable that you will cack it from being so damn old/being a combatant in unstable regions with lesser support it is extremely unlikely every mercenary or centarian they have insured will die at once.
> The study proves for the first time the years of market distortion in favor of nuclear energy and at the expense of the competition, said Uwe Leprich from the Saarbrücken University of Technology and Economics. "The study also shows that if you look at the economy from a regulatory perspective, nuclear energy is not competitive."
I would just do one thing myself: I would make mandatory to label products with the pollution manufacturing process: this used coal, this used nuclear, this used blabla. This is the amount of waste produced to the environment. And let people choose, with the appropriate information.
In that setup, if nuclears are not worth, they would disappear by themselves.
I think a lot of half-paying-attention people confused the reactor and the tsunami. Of course the news coverage and in-hindsight-unnecessary evacuation didn't help either.
For example: https://www.cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca/eng/resources/fukushima/canada-i...
Your average oil spill does 100x more damage to the ecosystem and economy than fukushima
I'm trying to compromise a bit with the "at least"s :)
And Fukushima is still not under control.
I think the 6-7x 9/11 is the foundation of pain, even if nuclear is an extra salient cherry on top.
I don't know. For who lived near the plant and escaped, it's definitely true. But for others, Lost decades are serious than the accident.
> So is there a guarantee
> that it is safe
People go insane about airline safety whenever one plane crashes, even though commercial passenger airplanes are 1000x safer than any other form of transportation. You could have a plane bombed, hijacked, whatever, every single day, for 10 years, and would still be 1000x safer than any other form of transport. People wouldn't think it was safe, though, because when it does fail, it fails spectacularly.
And that's the mentality of an anti-nuclear person. Who cares that the outcomes are almost always better? The one time it's not better is really scary, so I don't want it in my back yard.
That said, nuclear is pretty safe. I would live next door to a nuclear power plant, and if I did I would be likelier to die slipping in the shower.
You need safety against external threats e.g. a nuclear plant can be targeted during war or by terrorists
You need safety around illegal dumping https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste#Illegal_dump...
Also, extremely centralized energy production creates political risks (coups, corruption, hiding mismanagement)
Nuclear proliferation risk.
Investment risk: solar keeps getting cheaper and nuclear has very long ROI that might grow indefinitely
Look at how many coal ash spills there have been...and those come with nice forever things like mercury.
For the other points I'd say that I'd rather build solar to replace coal plants first before replacing nuclear plants.
Proliferation is not a binary 1 or 0.
> For the other points I'd say that I'd rather build solar to replace coal plants first before replacing nuclear plants.
That's a false dichotomy.
I think climate change poses a bigger existential risk than the nuclear proliferation risk from Germany continuing the nuclear energy production they're already doing.
> That's a false dichotomy.
Sure we can do both, but the reality is we're not doing both. The last time Germany closed its nuclear plants they were replaced by coal plants.
Three Miles Island happened years before Chernobyl and killed no one, because it wasn't a dodgy, duct-taped together soviet piece of junk.
In the last 30 years, the only nuclear power accident was Fukushima and again, caused just one victim. Fossil fuel depot fires have killed thousands more in that time.
Is it the usual talking points on both sides? Or is there a Teutonic shade to the debate that doesn't surface in e.g. America?
- Chernobyl. Being in close proximity, the event had a far stronger impact than in the US: There was widespread contamination from fallout drifting over from Ukraine and consequently restrictions in day-to-day life for many germans. As with covid: You tend to value a topic differently if it directly affects your life than when it just seems to happen on TV.
- Gorleben. [2, 3] Since the late 70s there have been efforts by the government to construct a permanent disposal site for nuclear waste in the Gorleben mine - against the explicit wishes of the nearby residents. This led to a decades-long resistance movement which tied into a general progressive movement for civil rights and an embrace of green technologies.
Those events mean that nuclear in Germany is both tied stronger to personal experiences and is much more aligned with political boundaries than it is likely in the US.
 https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomm%C3%BClllager_Gorleben (german only)
There is also a popular sentiment in eco/progressive circles that the german phase-out of nuclear is to an extent hypocritical - because germany will keep consuming nuclear energy through belgian and french reactors.
Doel 1 : 15 février 2025
Doel 2 : 1er décembre 2025
Doel 3 : 1er octobre 2022
Doel 4 : 1er juillet 2025
Tihange 1 : 1er octobre 2025
Tihange 2 : 1er février 2023
Tihange 3 : 1er septembre 2025
But I doubt Belgium could move a lot of nuclear energy out of the national grid considering the gas power plants needed to replace nuclear aren't built yet.
Belgium is also auctioning the building and operating of gas power plants: https://www.brusselstimes.com/news/belgium-all-news/167347/b... to replace nuclear plants. They aren't built yet but the first auction (for the building) takes place this week and the second one for operation some months later.
There might be a last chance for nuclear if somehow participants to the auctions can't prove it can be done but the government is dead set on retiring nuclear plants so it would only be a small respite for nuclear.
I am all for believing that renewables can keep on growing up but I read that our government is betting for some new tech in battery and power grid appliances to achieve 2050 objectives. Seems bold to me but I am not qualified to comment on that.
In many debates people argue about why Germany should go ahead and quit using nuclear if the neighboring countries keep building and running new plants, also posing a huge risk to Germany in the event of a catastrophic failure (actually the risk in case of a failure is probably higher for Germany than it is for France or Belgium).
They already wrote the loss of revenues in their accounting books.
(Yes, nuclear power / nuclear weapons, but in the 70s that wasn't a clear distinction)
"To date, there is no evidence that the reactor accident has caused adverse health effects due to radiation in Germany."
In some regions they are still today monitoring the cesium content of grass and moss, and bringing sheep and reindeer in for the weeks before slaughter to be fed hay from other regions to ensure the meat is within acceptable dose limits.
Edit - link to map: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Timothy-Mousseau/public...
In 1986 one plant had a major accident, and look at all that contamination across western and northern Europe, thousands of kilometers away. Hundreds of millions of people were affected, and the consequences are still quite real, 35 years later.
Do we know if younger Germans are more open to nuclear power than Cold War era ones?
Considering that Germany is an american vassal with significant russian influence, it's more likely political factions tied to US and Russia. US doesn't want Germany to develop nuclear energy because nuclear energy research is the same thing as a nuclear weapons research. A nuclear armed germany is pretty much an independent germany which is something no empire desires. Empire and freedom/independence/sovereignty don't mix. And russians don't want germany to develop nuclear energy because they want to sell more oil/gas to germany and gain more influence over germany/europe.
Completely wrong. A NATO-Russia war could have been (and still could) be fought entirely in central Europe. This might include tactical nuclear weapons, delivered by short- and medium-range missiles and aircraft. This is why it was said that "In Germany, the towns are only two kilotons apart" (<https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1978/12/11/n...>).
To put another way, it's possible to realistically imagine a war in which Germany is hit with nuclear weapons but the US and Russia aren't. It's not realistic to imagine a war in which the US and Russia are hit with nukes but Germany isn't.
Also, people. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Light_Teams
Unfortunately from talking to some of my (really smart) colleagues, this issue is so deeply ingrained that they don't even want to look at other options, or don't really think about that this is a long term problem vs the urgency of climate collapse...
One article that goes a bit about this - https://www.dw.com/en/germany-may-not-see-proper-nuclear-was...
Perhaps more informed people are having more nuanced conversation but I sure haven't heard it.
no rush on that -- we have another 21,000 years of half-life to talk about it, right?
Every time someone tells me how safe modern power plants are I think "great, now get rid of all the old ones".
So instead of building new, safer power plants that will actually help us fight climate change, many places are still running old power plants as they can't afford to shut them down. There are still RMBK (Chernobyl-like) plants running today!
Mind you, Fukushima was not the only power plant that was subject to an earthquake and a tsunami. All others safely shutdown. Actually Fukushima shutdown too - and would have survived if not by the tsunami and some braindead decisions. Fukushima is like a Ford Model T that's thrown into a highway accident. It should have been replaced way before the accident.
Germany should be leading the effort here. Maybe they could take a page from France.
And burn some more coal in the meantime.
A half-life of infinity would mean that the isotope is not radioactive at all.
While there are certainly other nuances involved such as what kind of radiation is emitted (alpha, beta, gamma, neutron), and what the immediate fission products are, if all other factors are equal, the longer the half life, the less radioactive the material is. That's literally the definition.
The really nasty isotopes are ones like Iodine-131 (half-life 8 days, has an affinity for the human thyroid gland) and Strontium-90 (half-life 28.79 years, has an affinity for human bones). While saying that something has a "half-life of forty million billion trillion years" may sound scary-impressive, what it actually means is "this stuff is only very mildly radioactive).
Second, the amount of material is not at all mentioned in your definition. One half of one gram of material, is not the same as the many kilograms of spent fuels from a working reactor, or the 2000 metric tons of spent fuel generated now in the USA each year. So I ridicule that in an unexpected way, with another extreme example, comparing something tiny, to something massively large that everyone knows.
There is some false confidence in my opinion, about "know the facts" of radiactive materials.. when bio-accumulation in the food chain, uncontained dispersion, poisoning fresh or salt waters where life exists, and human exposure over time, and repeated exposure, are serious things.
When someone says "(a substance) has a (very large) half-life" it is typically an attempt to make the substance sound more dangerous, when in general a longer half-life makes the material less dangerous, not more.