Dana1981 asked in EnvironmentGlobal Warming · 1 decade ago

Why should we increase nuclear power use when geothermal and solar thermal are available?

Google announced today that it is investing $10.25 million in an energy technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). According to an MIT report on EGS, only 2% of the heat beneath the continental US between 3 and 10 kilometers (depths we can reach with current technology) is more than 2,500 the annual energy use of the United States.

http://cleantechnica.com/2008/08/19/google-investi...

Geothermal can provide baseload power just as well as nuclear, at much lower cost (5 cents per kWh as opposed to over 10 cents per kWh).

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/faqs.html

http://climateprogress.org/2008/06/13/nuclear-powe...

http://www.greens.org/s-r/11/11-09.html

Similarly, many industry experts believe that solar thermal will likely deliver power for well under 10 cents per kWh fully installed in the next decade.

http://climateprogress.org/2008/04/14/concentrated...

Geothermal and solar thermal plants can also be built much more quickly than new nuclear plants.

So why should we dramatically increase our use of nuclear power (as many have recently suggested) when it's more expensive, has a greater environmental impact, takes longer to build, and is more dangerous than solar thermal and geothermal, which can also provide baseload power? What's so great about nuclear?

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    WE shouldn't, I am not a great fan of nuclear energy, on A recent question I mentioned the waste from the nuclear plant and was told I needed to study nuclear waste because it was recyclable, well of course it is recyclable, into plutonium whit is still radioactive, and even those countries that are mixing it with inert ingredient so that it cannot be used in Atomic bombs, are still coming out with a radioactive product that can be converted back to plutonium.

    Geothermal is a great way to go, where it is available, but is restricted to a few geological areas.

    Solar power is limited to day light hours but can be stored for night time use, except in the northern hemisphere, where the only get a half hour of day light in the winter,

    And you forgot to mention Wind generation, with the Vertical wind generators that are being developed, but do need wind speeds of 4 to 6 miles an hour to produce power.

    By combining those 3 sources, we can come up with a balance of electric output that would supply all of our power needs.

    Source(s): jcms
    • Lv 7
      5 years agoReport

      Supply all our electrical energy needs, when. In the mean while, if nuclear power is not used, carbon dioxide will still come from coal plants, perhaps pushing Earth's temperature anomaly above the 2C mark.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I agree that geothermal is an excellent source of clean and renewable energy. Iceland gets most of their energy from geothermal. Solar thermal is also a great energy source. I would like to see more of these sources used in the future. So if it can be done at a reasonable cost, then I would support it.

    But we won't get all of our energy from one source anytime soon. We will probably rely on a mix of many different sources, and nuclear is probably going to provide a big chunk of power. Only 440 nuclear plants provide 16% of the worlds power.

    "What's so great about nuclear?" The massive amount of power that can be produced by a single plant: about 1,000 mW each. I agree that nuclear isn't perfect (non-renewable, nuclear waste, and cost), but it's a heck of a lot better than coal.

    So, if geothermal and solar thermal can meet a good chunk of our power needs at under 10 cents/kWh, and we can do it with current technology, then by all means do it. But don't be too quick to dismiss nuclear, we should become less dependent on coal first.

    Source(s): National Geographic: After Oil, August 2005
  • Tom P
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Geothermal is a great alternative, but it is not available everywhere. There are very high developmental costs for geothermal, so it will take longer to recover the initial investment, but it will be cheaper in the long run. http://worldenergydiscussion.blogspot.com/2007_03_...

    Solar has the same problem as geothermal - it is not available everywhere. Countries/states in northern latitudes will not be able to use solar because of a lack of sunlight in the winter time, and areas that are frequently overcast will have problems as well.

    I think that photovoltaic solar will be a good technology in the future, but it is not well developed either and is very expensive.

    Nuclear power may not be the best alternative, but it has zero CO2 emissions, is very efficient and would be even more efficient if we used breeder plants. It is also a technology that is developed unlike solar, and does not have as many geographical restrictions as geothermal does.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Wind, geothermal and ground based solar will never equal the capacity needed to sustain an advanced society. If we want to retreat in population and limit our technology then with a major population reduction they might be sufficient. We really need to go ahead with space based solar as the major energy producer because when most of our raw materials start coming from asteroid sources or lunar sources the initial processing can then take place in orbiting mills instead of ground based ones.

    The very big advantage to nuclear power plants is the unique ability to throttle them from 0 to 100% with marginal warm-up time. Thus if another power source went down or its capacity was exceeded and in need of supplemental output nuclear is ideal for the job. Thus what I see for a practical future is the majority of the worlds power needs provided from space based solar with all the other sources filling in the gaps according to what is most economically feasible for different regions.

    The point most people keep missing because of the Luddite anti nuke propaganda spread all over the media for more than 60 years is that there is no such thing as nuclear waste, never has been and never will be. The concept is an artificial creation in order to keep oil as a competitive part of energy production. If it had not been for the Carter anti nuke decrees oil, gas and coal usage in the world today would be about 5% of what it is now and we would not be worrying about more drilling because we would not need to. Every single major crisis we face in the world today came about from actions taken by Jimmy Carter.

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  • Adam C
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Like so many of these issues the answer lies not in science but in socio-politics.

    GETTING STARTED

    Nuclear had the advantage of military funding from the late 30s onwards to get it from theoretical to practical. There is no such helping hand for the alternatives so it was harder for them to move beyond the lab. For the most part, however, this has now been achieved.

    CENTRALISATION

    Human societies tend to form pyramids where knowledge, power, wealth, status accrues ever upwards into smaller and smaller pockets of concentration. This is in our nature and won't change (much, soon).

    Because of this, we tend to make our infrastructures follow the same pattern (e.g. dense cities, not rural; hub-and-spoke transport systems).

    Power generation and transmission is the same. Societies (well, governments) have struggled in recent years on how to incorporate micro generation (small water mills, wind turbines, etc) into national grids despite the obvious increase in efficiency (up to 10% of electricity is lost in transmission).

    The natural inclination is to have big power stations with national grid systems. This has to be challenged first. This is a social not an engineering problem - the obstacles are things like how will the power be bought and sold, who will manage supply and demand if it comes from millions of households, who will pay for maintenance of the grid if it isn't their power flowing through the lines...

    HYBRID SYSTEMS

    Once decentralisation of both generation and transmission is accepted then we can move to a system where whatever makes best sense locally is what is used. Hence a town in Wyoming may use geothermal, New Mexico factories use solar, up-state New York hydro and, I dare say, a city next to a relatively new coal plant will continue to use coal-fired electricity.

    CULTURAL INERTIA

    Nuclear will be part of this mix as people balance capital costs, ease of implementation, environment, etc. Never forget that human societies lag behind technology by decades. Despite the popular concept of the Second World War as being one of mechanised warfare, horses still outnumbered combustion engines in that conflict.

    My optimistic guess is that oil-fired generation will fade away over the next 20 years, gas in 30, coal will fade but still be significant some 100 years from now, nuclear will have become a minor part in 50-80 years with the cleaner, cheaper, alternates taking up the corresponding slack.

    Although Tom P has made some good remarks, I would suggest that they are a little mainstream and even perhaps outdated.

    "not available everywhere" - neither is oil, gas or uranium yet we have always figured out a way to transport energy. If we can liquify natural gas and ship it globally, we should be able to make hydrogen from solar power and ship it...

    "There are very high developmental costs..." - There were for nuclear as well but the military paid for much of the intitial R&D - the military is funded by public money. Subsequent development was also publicly subsidised. If governments were to put the same amount of public subsidies into R&D on alternate development as was put into nuclear, there would be no issue!

    In other words, the real reason to use nuclear is cultural inertia. We know there are better alternatives but it takes a generation or two to switch over and some things never do change to the better alternative (qwerty...)

  • 1 decade ago

    The great thing about businesses is consistency: they want to make as much money as possible with as little expense as possible.

    That being indisputable, don't you think if your information is true, there would already be a proliferation of solar & geothermal plants?? Who's stopping their development - the "man"?

    No, the real truth is that despite your optimistically inaccurate information, solar and geothermal are a long way from being efficient enough to reliably produce a significant amount of electricity. Our current most efficient method for electricity generation is to spin huge, massive turbines. This is best accomplished with water flow (requiring the building of more dams) or steam pressure, which means we need to boil water. Nuclear provides the ability to create steam without burning anything, which makes it the most environmentally friendly power generation option.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    We have a responsibility to mankind to do whatever it takes to research and discover any and all types of alternative energy BESIDES nuclear.

    People can list this, that, and the other "reasons" about why we should pursue nuclear, and add them all up and put them on a scale, and they STILL will not outweigh the one horrendous FACT that they won't talk about when discussing nuclear:

    *nuclear disaster

    To imagine that there will not eventually be a meltdown or an accident is beyond "naive" it is blatantly irresponsible.

    This all comes down to MONEY and who stands to make the most off of it.

    I say America steps up to the plate to be the originators of an entirely new eon in human history - creating and using energy which DOESN'T KILL US.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    As things stand I do not support the use of nuclear power to produce energy. But let me play the devil's advocate here. There's something to be said for diversification. If we can revisit President Carter's decree, if nuclear is utilized in areas where other technologies aren't as efficient, there could be a place for nuclear in our future.

    But the nuclear energy source I want to see in our future is fusion. Part of the energy frenzy to provide for our future needs should include renewed efforts to produce nuclear fusion as energy.

    Current nuclear power sources have too much baggage to give them much of a place at the bargaining table when designing an energy palette that works. It is also a source of vulnerability for whoever it using it.

    So I don't want to take nuclear off the table. We need to keep it handy as a tool that can fill in the gaps. We need to solve the puzzle of nuclear fusion.

  • 1 decade ago

    You make a great point. I think you're absolutely right! Geothermal is a great power source (solar is too, but it's not consistant ie.overcast day).

  • 1 decade ago

    Because geothermal is not available just anywhere, nor is solar after sunset. Nuclear is only $.04 per KWH right now, and its online 24 x 7 rain or shine.

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