Nik Zafri's Comments
Here's an article from Greenpeace :
Nuclear power: No solution to climate change
“Nuclear power is expensive, slow and dangerous and it won't stop climate change. If the answer is nuclear power, it must have been a pretty stupid question.” Ian Lowe President, Australia Conservation Foundation.
The new battlecry of the nuclear industry is that nuclear energy is the answer to global climate change. Nuclear energy is toxic and dangerous. Far from being rehabilitated, the nuclear option is a convenient distraction from the problem of climate change and stalls real action to combat it.
Nuclear power lobbyists are correct that climate change demands an urgent and quick response. But replacing polluting coal and other fossil fuel-based power with another environmental disaster -- in the form of nuclear power -- is NOT the answer we need. Our best long-term solution for an emission free and greenhouse-friendly future are the truly clean and green renewable energy sources – particularly wind and solar - combined with technologies that vastly improve energy efficiency.
Asia is projected to have the largest growth in installed nuclear generating capacity from 2002-2025, accounting for 96% of the total projected increase.
Cost: Nuclear power is more expensive. Not only is nuclear power more expensive than fossil fuel generation and clean, renewable wind power, it also leaves a legacy of unsafe yet highly expensive technologies. Costs associated with safety and security, insurance and liability in case of accident or attack, waste management, construction and decommissioning are rising substantially for nuclear power, while the cost of wind and solar power is falling. Nuclear power plants have only presented a veneer of economic viability in the past due to heavy government subsidies. As energy markets have liberalized around the world, investors have turned their backs on nuclear energy. The number of reactors in western Europe and the United States peaked 15 years ago and has been declining since. By contrast, the amount of wind power and solar energy is rising at rates of 20 to 30 per cent a year.
The hazards associated with nuclear power include the risk of potentially catastrophic accidents like the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster, routine releases of radioactive gases and liquids from nuclear plants, the problem of nuclear waste and the risks of terrorism and sabotage. The International Energy Outlook 2005's projection that Asia will have the largest growth in nuclear generation in the next two decades exposes the region, which consists mostly of developing countries to these hazards, more than any other region. Asia will soon be dumping ground of nuclear technology if we do not reject this trend. and work in favor of renewable energy and improved efficiency.
Waste: Nuclear waste disposal is still an unsolved problem. The most dangerous form of pollution ever created, nuclear waste remains radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Uranium mines typically generate volumes of long-lived, low level waste which is kept on site. Reactors release radioactive emissions to air and water. Reprocessing plants generate a high-level radioactive waste stream and emissions to air and water. All these pose risks to the health of the public. Monitoring and maintaining waste deposits over a period spanning 20 times the length of known civilization is an unacceptable burden we are placing on all future generations – with no guarantees of long term safety.
Nuclear proliferation: Nuclear technology, such as uranium enrichment is also used in nuclear weapons production, and therefore a proliferation risk. There are now more than 40 countries with the capacity to build nuclear weapons, and international efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology are failing. Nuclear technology will always carry the risk that it will be used to construct weapons of mass destruction.
Greenhouse polluters: Claims that nuclear power is “emissions free” are false. Substantial greenhouse gas emissions are generated across the nuclear fuel cycle. Fossil-fuel generated electricity is more greenhouse intensive than nuclear power, but this comparison only holds true if high-grade uranium ores are available. Even with such high-grade ores, there is a massive increase in greenhouse pollution from mining, processing and reactor construction before any electricity is generated. The known resources of high-grade uranium ores only amount to a few decades' use at the present rate. Most of the earth’s uranium is found in very poor grade ores, and recovery of uranium from these ores is likely to be considerably more greenhouse intensive. Nuclear power emits more greenhouse gases per unit energy than most renewable energy sources, and that comparative deficit will widen as uranium ore grades decline.
Safe, clean alternatives
To avoid dangerous further changes to our climate, we need to act now. Asia in particular should make a commitment to the sensible alternatives that produce sustainable cost-effective reductions in greenhouse pollution: wind power, solar water-heating, energy efficiency, gas and energy from organic matter. Renewable energy and energy efficiency can deliver the power we need – without the environmental and social problems.
Renewable energy already supplies 19% of world electricity, compared to nuclear’s 16%. The share of renewables is increasing, while nuclear’s share is decreasing. Renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power are growing by 20-30% every year. In 2003, the cumulative installed capacity of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems around the world passed the landmark figure of 2,400 Megawatts of solar photovoltaic power. Global shipments of PV cells and modules have been growing an average annual rate of more than 35% for of the past few years, providing employment for 10,000 people and generating business worth more than 3 billion euros annually. Wind power, on the other hand, is the world’s fastest growing energy source with installed capacity growing at an average annual rate over the last 5 years of 15.8%
Renewable energies have truly limitless sources, can be more easily deployed in remote developing regions, present absolutely no risk to global security and are environmentally-friendly.
Because there is only a finite amount of investment available for new energy, any investment in nuclear power is effectively money denied to renewables and energy efficiency. Nuclear power, with fifty years of failure as its track record and still no solutions to its fundamental problems, remains a shockingly poor investment choice. The wise decision then, is to say no to nuclear, yes to renewables and energy efficiency.
Nik : So, with this, I say 'bye-bye' to nukes!
Comments by ahvincent
Nuclear power plants do not produce the same amount of green house gas pollutants but they produce another kind of pollutant, Nuclear Waste.!!! And nuclear waste will kill you a lot quicker and have a half life of hundreds of years with a potential to kill even more is it gets out of control !!!
Some of our Oz politicians have got s*&t for brains !!! They have completely missed the point, surely it would make more sense in trying to develop wind powered turbine farms or look at harness more hydro energy.
All along the coast around the Great Australian Blight the wind is very strong 24/7/365. It lends itself to wind farms and with modern light weight turbines which are very efficient I think they should investigate that option.
Response by gleearch
I agree. Nuclear energy isn't a cure all. Nothing sustainable about it at all. You are right. A pollutant or waste is still waste. In this case highly dangerous. There's still not good way to get rid of nuclear waste. I don't think dumping them in concrete holding facilities is really doing any good. Or storing them under sea.
There's plenty of sun and wind in Australia as you pointed out. Some of the new skyscrapers going up in new York have built in wind turbines to generate electricity.
They keep on developing new wind turbines that can reduce accidents with birds. No pollution. Plenty of cheap renewable energy. Same with solar panels.
Posted: 09 August 2006 at 8:15am
Response by ahvincent
I will recount a first hand story about an early experimental plant using solar energy generated electricity system. I used to work with a major USA based power generation company many years ago. They installed one of their early prototypes on an isolated village in Papua New Guinea. These villages did not have electricity and no road access. All diesel fuel will have to be flown in thus making it prohibitively expensive. So solar power was an ideal solution to bring the marvels of modern science to these primitive jungle tribes.
We intalled a solar powered generation plant enough to provide the bare essentials to the village. This system had a diesel motor as a backup to charge the batteries in case of a cloudy day or an emergency.
Everything seem to be working fine when our technicians were on site but once they left we keep getting calls that our system was not functioning properly. They have to use the diesel generator all the time and the authorities had to keep flying in fuel at a great expense.
So we send our technicians in and they found out that the natives who have not seen an electric light in their lives were keeping all the lights on all night and sitting around the lights watching it. Little wonder that the supply ran flat before morning.
Anyway the project was deemed a failure for a variety of reasons and we did not sell more than a handful of our remote solar electricity plants. That was many many years ago, I am sure the price of solar cells have got more efficient and less costly now and maybe this type of projects may become more cost efficient now. I don't know.
An other example (of what seems to be a good idea at the time) of another experimental project gone wrong is the big black (W) towers in Pittsburg. If you go to Pittsburg you will see a great big (I cannot tell you the name) electric sign next to where the Ohio & Mo...(I cannot spell the name) rivers. I don't know if the sign is still there now.
This sign is lit by thousands of light bulbs. The idea was to collect the heat given off by the bulbs in the sign and the building to drive the air-conditioning in the building. Someone's brilliant idea at the time. The end result - all the lights in the sign and the building had to be left on 24/7 otherwise no air conditioning.
Disastrous experiment costing millions. At the end they just had to connect the air condition back to the usually supply source.
On one particular conference I attended someone had another brilliant idea for storing electricity. We all known batteries are very ineffcient at storing large quantities of electricity, so his idea was to use off peak power to pump water to a pool at a higher level and during peak demand periods let the water drain back down driving turbines in the process. Electricity is thus stored in the form of kinetic energy.
Other bright ideas include using off peak power to wind up a series of gaint coil springs. This did not arouse the same level of interest as the first idea,
Posted: 09 August 2006 at 11:27am
Response by gleearch
Interesting stories. That's what happens when not a lot of thought is given to the idea. Using light bulbs to power air conditioning? Duh! as homer simpson would say. Using electricity to power up the lights and then using the heat from it to power the air conditioning.
I mean, what were they thinking.
Ok I'll offer these instead.
Ice skating rinks generate heat. That is the cooling machinery used to create the ice on the rinks generate heat. (I'm simplifying things overly much) It is common practise now to use that waste heat for other uses. Melting snow around buildings so people don't slip and fall etc.
It's about using waste heat and having a secondary system in place. Not creating a whole system to generate waste heat just to power something else.
Posted: 30 August 2006 at 10:11pm
Response by stingray2000
Nuclear Power Won't Fix It
Nuclear power is not the answer to tackling climate change or security of supply, according to the Sustainable Development Commission in Scotland.
The SDC nuclear report draws together the most comprehensive evidence base available to find that there is no justification for bringing forward a new nuclear power programme at present – supporting current Scottish policy.
Scottish Commissioner, Hugh Raven, says:
“Our report proves how right Scotland is to fight for its ‘no nuclear’ policy. We’ve thoroughly investigated nuclear power over the last year, but have found that any potential benefits are outweighed by substantial disadvantages. With our amazing renewable resources – combined with some serious political willpower – Scotland could become a true world leader in clean, sustainable energy.”
“The SDC urges the Scottish Executive to stick to its position of not supporting the further development of nuclear power while waste management issues remain unresolved. Nuclear is not the answer for climate change or security of supply.”
In response to the UK Government’s Energy Review, the SDC report gives a balanced examination of the pros and cons of nuclear power, based on eight new research papers.
Its research recognizes that nuclear is a low carbon technology, with an impressive safety record in the UK. Nuclear could generate large quantities of electricity, contribute to stabilising CO2 emissions and add to the diversity of the UK’s energy supply.
However, the research establishes that even if the UK’s existing nuclear capacity were doubled, it would only give an 8% cut on emissions by 2035 .This must be set against the risks.
The report identifies five major disadvantages to nuclear power:
1. Long-term waste – no long term solutions are yet available, let alone acceptable to the general public; it is impossible to guarantee safety over the long-term disposal of waste.
2. Cost – the economics of nuclear new-build are highly uncertain. There is little, if any, justification for public subsidy, but if estimated costs escalate, there’s a clear risk that the taxpayer will be have to pick up the tab.
3. Inflexibility – nuclear would lock the UK into a centralised distribution system for the next 50 years, at exactly the time when opportunities for microgeneration and local distribution network are stronger than ever.
4. Undermining energy efficiency – a new nuclear programme would give out the wrong signal to consumers and businesses, implying that a major technological fix is all that’s required, weakening the urgent action needed on energy efficiency.
5. International security – if the UK brings forward a new nuclear power programme, we cannot deny other countries the same technology*. With lower safety standards, they run higher risks of accidents, radiation exposure, proliferation and terrorist attacks.
On balance, the SDC finds that these problems outweigh the advantages of nuclear. However, the SDC does not rule out further research into new nuclear technologies and pursuing answers to the waste problem, as future technological developments may justify a re-examination of the issue.
Download the reports:
Full SDC position paper
» The role of nuclear power in a low carbon economy
A commentary by Jonathon Porritt
» Is nuclear the answer?
Or order your free hard copies
SDC Chair, Jonathon Porritt, says:
“It’s vital that we get to grips with the complexity of nuclear power. Far too often, the debate is highly polarised, with NGOs claiming to see no advantages to nuclear at all, and the pro-nuclear lobby claiming that it’s the only solution available to us.
“Instead of hurtling along to a pre-judged conclusion (which many fear the UK Government is intent on doing), we must look to the evidence. There’s little point in denying that nuclear power has benefits, but in our view, these are outweighed by serious disadvantages. The UK Government is going to have to stop looking for an easy fix to our climate change and energy crises – there simply isn’t one.”
Concluding with advice on a future energy strategy, the SDC report establishes that it is indeed possible to meet the UK’s energy needs without nuclear power. With a combination of a low-carbon innovation strategy and an aggressive expansion of energy efficiency and renewables, the UK would become a leader in low-carbon technologies. This would enhance economic competitiveness whilst meeting the UK’s future energy needs.
[Notes to Eds:
- The SDC nuclear review, research papers and audio launch interview with Jonathon Porritt are available to download at www.sd-commission.org.uk.
- The SDC has spent a year gathering evidence and agreeing its position on nuclear power.
- The process for developing the SDC position on nuclear power has been rigorous and transparent. During the process, the SDC identified three divergent positions on nuclear power: position 1 - NO, position 2 – NOT NOW, position 3 - MAYBE.
SDC Commissioners voted as follows: eight Commissioners favoured position 1, five favoured position 2, and two favoured position 3.
As part of the current Energy Review, we expect the Government will go through a comparable decision-making process, and we advise them to be similarly transparent.
- The SDC nuclear review is based on eight new research papers
(see attached evidence base summary for key facts):
1. An introduction to nuclear power – science, technology and UK policy context,
by the Sustainable Development Commission
2. Reducing CO2 emissions: nuclear and the alternatives,
by the Sustainable Development Commission
3. Landscape, environment and community impacts of nuclear power,
by the Sustainable Development Commission
4. The economics of nuclear power
by the Science & Technology Policy Research (SPRU, University of Sussex) and NERA Economic Consulting
5. Waste and decommissioning
by the Sustainable Development Commission with contributions from Nirex and AMEC NNC
6. Safety and security
by the Sustainable Development Commission with contributions from Large & Associates and AMEC NNC
7. Public perceptions and community issues
by Professor Robin Grove-White, Dr Matthew Kearnes, Dr Phil Macnaghten and Professor Brian Wynne
8. Uranium resource availability
by Future Energy Solutions, an operating division of AEA Technology plc
- The Sustainable Development Commission is the government advisory body on all matters relating to sustainable development, reporting to the First Minister in Scotland and Prime Minister at UK level . Through advocacy, advice and appraisal, we help put sustainable development at the core of Executive policy.
SOURCE: Sustainable Development Commission UK