Anonymous asked in EnvironmentOther - Environment · 1 decade ago

nuclear power?

do you think nuclear power will make a useful contribution to reducing CO2 emissions by 2030?

will it be on stream in time?

(hint - it takes 30 odd years from planning permission to full operation)

how much will it cost?

(hint - you have to include decomissioning costs)

is it safe?

(i'd have one in my back yard - but then i dont have kids)

is it efficient?

(this ties in with 'is it safe';

could you run a district heating system off the 'waste' hot water or is it going to be lost up a cooling tower?

would you eat fish grown in a pond of cooling water?)


or even by 2050? how do the costs compare with solar for example?

Update 2:

budda, have you any idea how much 'carbon' is released in the construction of a nuclear power station? think of all that steel and concrete....

Update 3:

blaine, if you follow my second link you will see a lovely picture of dear blinky. :-)

Update 4:

i dont believe anyone has read further than the headline. new plant wont be ready in time! its really, really expensive! if we had spent even 1% of the money that has gone to nuclear in research and subsidies over the last 40 years on developing renewables, we wouldnt be in this fix now.

9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    I suppose it depends on what fraction of energy consumption constitutes a useful contribution. I don't see the nuclear industry growing very quickly and making a large contribution due to several constraints.

    One of the key constraints that has been overlooked is the shortage of nuclear physicists needed to design and maintain nuclear facilities. The advent of radiation treatment and medical imaging has drained off most of the available talent. As a physicist working in a nuclear facility, I could slide into nuclear design or radiation safety projects, but I currently consider my medical diagnostics and biofuel projects more promising. It takes 15 years (PhD + experience) to train a nuclear physicist to the required level of competence. Most of the population does not have a high enough IQ to qualify for training.

    The site that I am at is being decommissioned and it is an incredibly expensive process. There are more people working to shut the place down than there were to keep it running. Utilities are more aware of future liabilities now and factor these into the economic studies.

    Contrary to common belief, there is not enough uranium available to fuel a major expansion of the nuclear industry. First, more mining and processing infrastructure would be needed, and secondly the supply of uranium, like the supply of oil is finite. Even if all of the known uranium deposits were mined, there would not be enough to supply all of the world's energy needs.

    It is difficult to obtain regulatory approvals a nuclear facility. There are few sites where additional power reactors could be built. This more than any other factor will slow the expansion of the nuclear industry.

    Is it safe? Lets just say that scientists on site visit the reactor building periodically, but have offices and labs a safe distance away.

    There is certainly scope to improve the eficiency of nuclear facilities, but there is a safety trade off.

    The cooling water in a nuclear reactor normally does not mix with external cooling. That being said, at least tritium has a short half life.

  • I hope it will make a useful contribution. What I've heard in the news suggests that nuclear power is safe, much safer than in the past.

    Also its more cost effective than the relatively inefficient solar power.

    I would definitely have reservations about eating anything that came from the cooling water though. The image of the 3 eyed fish from The Simpson's comes to mind.

  • DMG
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    There would have to be some fundamental changes to what happens with spent fuel, but it certainly is a viable alternative. Additionally, due to the stringent safety processes and controls, they generate more local jobs than other forms of electrical production. In fossil plants, the biggest cost for electrical production is fuel. By moving away from this, we would reduce emissions and decrease the amount of money flowing to countries that habor and help terrorists.

  • 1 decade ago

    Nuclear wont run out, gas oil coal will. Your not comparing like for like. Solar, wind, water all sound good on paper but need lots of "carbon" in their production. They will not be able to cover all our energy demands.

    Take hydrogen which is touted as the next big thing, the "carbon" used to produce it makes it not as good as it originally sounds. Much like biofuels have now been seen. Geothermal power produces heavily contaminated water as part of the process, which many people dont realise.

    Nuclear is currently the only source if we want to maintain and further the technological level we have got accustomed too.

    Take wind farms, "nimby's" dont like them and the best place for them is out at sea, but the construction costs are massive and now you have people like david bellamy who when i was a kid saying they were the future has now jumped over and is against them! Planning appplications are the same for all construction in UK, nuclear gives us the biggest bang for our buck. Some people class nuclear as "renewable"

    Hydrogen is a white elephant, hydrogen plants need electricity so just produce a decent electric car and cut out the extra step. Long distance travel should be done using public transport.

    Nuclear pebble bed reactors seem the future.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I rather doubt we'll increase our nuclear power production ver much in the near future. As you note, it takes a long time to build a new nuclear power plant. The benefit is that they can provide base load power - you can increase or decrease their output whenver you want, whereas renewables are generally dependent on the weather unless you can find an efficient way to store their energy.

    Solar is quickly becoming cost-competetive with nuclear and even coal though. I suspect we'll be rapidly increasing our solar, wind, and tidal power production while nuclear doesn't change much over the next few decades.

  • 1 decade ago

    well, the Royal and United States Navies have operated nuclear reactors for a total of over 5,000 years with not the hint of a whisper of a problem, so I think we're safe on that score.....

    the only reason it takes 30 years is hysteria on the part of environmentalists

    nuclear power is proven technology which will tie into the existing grid that runs into your home and will recharge your electric car

    and even the bloody FRENCH get 80% of their electricity from nucs......

  • ed
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Do you know?

    California shut down a nuclear plant several years ago. AFTER spending several million $ on it.

    Not in their back yard!

    Then whose?

    As they refused the Alaskan pipeline to bring oil through California.

    Where did it go?


    Did you know?

    Alaska is closer to Japan than to Miami.

  • 1 decade ago

    It doesn't take 30 years. There are two that are in the planing in Georgia that should be started soon and finished in 5 years.

    We could be generating 3,000MW of co2 free power by 2013!

  • 1 decade ago

    yes as part of a larger program around renewable energy

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