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A Look Ahead for Nuclear Energy in 2020

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This item is part of the Predictions & Trends - Special Issue - 01/2020, click here for more

Altered Carbon. Image: Environmental Progress

With a growing realization that nuclear energy is necessary to achieve decarbonization in the electric generation utility industry, and for major process heat applications, 2020 looks like a year where action based on this concept will see more significant developments for nuclear energy worldwide. 

Developers of advanced nuclear reactor designs are offering new revenue models that go beyond the level cost of  electricity (LCOE) to offer heat as the primary output of their plants. Heat can be used to generate electricity but it can also be used for process heat for industry, especially chemicals, production of hydrogen, and desalinization. The combination of revenues from these heat streams will reposition the business case for advanced reactors as a result.

A caution for readers is that this post is not an effort to predict the future, but rather a look at places and processes where events might occur that will add to the global level of useful investment in nuclear energy technologies.

To help readers follow the bouncing ball, so to speak, the pointers are organized by geography.  While it isn’t possible to provide a comprehensive view of everything, the main objective of the blog post is that it offers signposts for the road ahead.

Note to Readers:  This look ahead for nuclear energy in 2020 has been updated at Energy Central to take into account a number of fast moving developments which occurred after the piece was posted on in mid-December.

North America

Canada is becoming key center of work on small modular reactors. With a population one-tenth the size of the U.S., it sees the future of decarbonization in a range of less costly SMR designs including PWRs, molten salt, and high temperature gas reactors.  The Canadian Nuclear Laboratory (CNL) has been the primary driver of support for innovation.

Several Canadian SMR developers have made significant progress achieving measurable progress through a multi-phase qualification process to be selected to get further support from CNL.

An agreement between the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will provide for joint, concurrent reviews of SMRs and two firms, Terrestrial Energy and NuScale, have announced plans to use the process. NuScale will complete its safety design review with the NRC in 2020

Mexico has flirted off and on with plans for expanding its Laguna Verde nuclear power station which is composed of two 682 MWe BWRs. The latest plan is for two new 1400 MW units, based on a design to be determined, to be constructed there and possibly two more at a location to be named on the Pacific coast.  No details have been released on when a tender for building the reactors at either site have been released by the government. Historically, the low price of natural gas in Mexico has been a deal breaker for new nuclear power plants. Expect Mexico to continue to be undecided about its nuclear future.

In United States the completion of the two Westinghouse 1150 MW AP1000 reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia may be the last full size new build to be undertaken for quite some time.  The financial and management failure of the V C Summer project in South Carolina, combined with flat demand for electricity, has caused a number of utilities with approved COLs from the NRC to put their plans on hold or cancel them.

Meanwhile, work on small modular reactors, led by Oregon-based NuScale, is moving towards completion of the NRC’s safety design review of its 60 MW unit. NuScale’s customer UAMPS wants to build the first of six or even 12 units at a site at the Idaho National Laboratory. The Portland, OR, based developer is on schedule to complete its Safety Design Review with the NRC this year.

Separately, TVA recently was granted an early site permit for an SMR by the NRC, but has no immediate plans to build one at the Clinch River site in Tennessee. Watch for indications the utility may start thinking about the project sooner rather than later even though the permit has a 20 year shelf life.

While TVA was mulling things over in Tennessee, back in Idaho Oklo Inc., a startup, said that the firm has received a Site Use Permit from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to build its Aurora plant at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The permit makes a site available to Oklo to build its Aurora plant, which utilizes a compact fast reactor to generate about 1.5 MW of electric power. This site is anticipated to be the location of the first-of-a-kind deployment of the Aurora plant. Watch for Oklo to establish a presence in Idaho Falls, home of the INL, this year. Of all the advanced reactor entrepreneurial efforts ongoing in the U.S., Oklo's is furthest along in terms of pre-liensing engagement with the NRC.

U.S. reactor vendors including Westinghouse, GE Hitachi, Holtec, and others, are developing a variety of designs including Molten Salt, high temperature gas, and conventional LWRs.  None are as far along as NuScale. All of the firms have plans for exports to global markets. All of them are engaged in pre-licensing dialogs with the CNSC and the NRC and investor interest in these efforts may be pegged to how much progress they make with the regulatory process.

TerraPower and Ge-Hitachi have teamed up to to collaborate on pursuing a public private partnership to design and construct the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) for the US Department of Energy (DOE). Utility Energy Northwest will support the joint GEH-TerraPower effort, with other parties said to be interested in joining.

The VTR will be used to provide a source of fast neutrons to support the development of advanced reactor technologies. Such facilities are currently available in only a few locations worldwide and the USA has not operated one in more than 20 years.

The reactor is to be a smaller (about 300 MWt) version of the GE Hitachi PRISM power reactor, which builds on the EBR-II, an integral sodium-cooled fast reactor prototype that operated at Argonne National Laboratory in Idaho from 1963 to 1994. VTR, like PRISM, would use metallic alloy fuels.

GEH has been actively engaged in development of the VTR conceptual design, and TerraPower has supported the VTR program by making enhancements to the reactor's design. Both firms have cadres of engineers who understand sodium cooled reactors which will go a long way to support the partnership.

This year Congress passed a number of important pieces of legislation related to nuclear energy none more important to financing these exports than the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

For 2020 Congress approved a 12.5% increase in funding for DOE’s nuclear energy programs with major elements including $230M for the advanced reactor demonstration program which includes the Versatile Test Reactor.  Rapid progress is needed on this project which has an aggressive plan for an operational facility by the end of this decade.

Western Europe

The U.K. is facing a major challenge to replace its aging fleet of first generation nuclear power plants many of which are scheduled for shutdown in 2023.  In response, the Hinkley Point C project is on track to complete two massive EDF/Areva ERPs for connection to the grid by 2025, and once in revenue service will provide up to 7% of the total electricity demand for the U.K. Two similar units are planned for the Sizewell site. Securing funding for Sizewell, which must come in with a price tag significantly below that of Hinkley Point, is a major challenge for EDF and must be resolve in 2020 or the project risks being shelved perhaps indefinitely.

The U.K. is working on developing a new method of financing full size nuclear reactors calls the “regulated asset model (RAB).”  The purpose of the model, which has been applied successfully on non-nuclear U.K. large infrastructure projects, offers the promise of reducing financial risk in building new nuclear power plants.

To read how the RAB would work check out this article posted at World Nuclear News written by Ed Kee and colleagues at the Washington, DC, based firm Nuclear Economics.  If the RAB model is implemented in the U.K., it could be adapted for use by other market economies. The RAB model might be instrumental in reviving the prospects for the Moorside, Wylfa, Newydd, and Oldbury NPPs all of which are stalled for lack of financing.

The U.K.is also a hotbed of development of small modular reactors with multiple vendors seeking to establish a foothold there. Rolls Royce has proposed a mid-range mini-reactor of 440 MWe which could turn out to be viable alternative, financially, for some of the UK’s full size projects which are stalled such as Moorside.

France like the U.K. has an aging fleet of nuclear power plants but it has more time, at least a decade or more, to work on replacements. Despite the fact that the country currently gets over 70% of its electricity from nuclear power, the government has plans to reduce its role to 50% banking on a promise of solar and wind technologies making up the difference.

The state owned utility EDF is deeply invested in completing first of a kind 1600 MW EPRs, in France, and in Finland, to prove the basic value of the design. While EDF acknowledges that it has inherited these projects, and their schedule delays and cost overruns, after absorbing the former nuclear power division of Areva, it also has plans to build six new EPRs in France. EDF has recently released plans that focus on completing these six new units on time and within budget.  EDF is the only game in town which is why the EPR design is the shape of the future for nuclear energy in France.

Eastern Europe

The Czech Republic, Romania, and Poland have all announced plans to build new nuclear power plants. Their plans got a recent boost as the European Parliament adopted a resolution that all technologies, including nuclear, are needed to combat climate change, which it has called an emergency.

After sticking its head in the sand for nearly a decade, the Czech Republic has finally come to grips with the reality that the government must provide rate guarantees to bring investors to the table.  Proposals are still bouncing around as to which of the two nuclear sites in the country will get the first new units via a tender from CEZ the state-owned nuclear utility. The government says it will release a tender in 2022.

Romania Until very recently the country appeared to be moving ahead with plans to finally complete Cernavoda Units 3 & 4 having in Spring 2019 signed off on an agreement with China General Nuclear to complete the two PHWR type reactors. That all changed in early January when Romania's Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said the nuclear deal with China would be canceled.

"“It is clear to me that the partnership with the Chinese company is not going to work,” Mr Orban said, adding that the government has already started to look for a new partner and financing for this project.

He also said that all new projects in Romania’s energy sector will depend on whether they meet the requirements of the European Union’s Green Deal, an initiative aimed at reducing CO2 emissions across the bloc. 

In a separate development Candu Energy Inc., a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group (TSX:SNC), was awarded a $10.8 million (7.3M EUR) contract by Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica S.A. (SNN) for engineering analyses and assessments on the Cernavoda Unit 1 CANDU® nuclear reactor. The contracthas the objective of extending the operating life of the plant by approximately 4 years which will enable the plant to continue operating safely until it is ready for refurbishment in 2026.

In November 2019 Poland announced progress in its latest effort to establish a basis for financing new nuclear power plants to replace its heavy reliance on coal.

According to World Nuclear News, the government plans to set up a special-purpose company in which it will own a 51% stake, with the remaining 49% to be held by one or more foreign partners. State-owned power company PGE could be a shareholder in that special-purpose company.

WNN notes that Poland’s first nuclear power plant will be in operation by 2033, according to a draft energy policy document released for public consultation last November by the Ministry of Energy. The document lists plans for six reactors providing 6-9 GWe of nuclear capacity in operation by 2043, accounting for about 10% of Poland’s electricity generation. U.S. firms are said to be intensely interested in bidding on these projects.

The size of the effort is a question as Poland has repeatedly announced plans for full size reactors and then cancelled then due to the lack of outside investors.  Will SMRs make a difference?

Michał Sołowow, billionaire owner of chemical company Synthos SA, is planning to build a 300 MW small modular reactor (SMR) in Poland in the next decade in cooperation with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH).

GEH said in a press statement: “Synthos is interested in obtaining affordable, on-demand, carbon-free electricity from a dependable, dedicated source.” The statement was made as the two firms signed a letter of intent to build the BWRX-300 small modular reactor

GEH said in its press statement, “Through our design-to-cost approach, we are designing the BWRX-300 to be cost competitive with gas, renewables and other forms of power generation.”

Russia – Readers interested in the status and future of nuclear energy in Russia are referred to the World Nuclear Association profile of activity there.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia’s plans for two full size nuclear power plants remain on the table though doubts about a 123 Agreement with the U.S. are growing due to claims by Saudi Arabia for the right to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel. Four other countries have expressed interest in the project which was downsized from an ambitious plan for 16 reactors. A tender for the two reactors is expected in 2020. Bidders are expected to be Russia, China, South Korea, France, and the U.S. if a 123 Agreement is reached.

Saudi Arabia has updated its agreement with South Korea to complete a 100 MWe SMR, to license it for use in that country and to offer it for export. The joint project between the two countries, which began in 2011, had been stalled for several years, but is now moving forward. The renewed development agreement places South Korea in a pole position relative to Saudi Arabia’s planned tender expected later this year for two full size nuclear reactors.

Jordan has multiple memorandums of agreement with developers of small modular reactors. Which ever one of them comes forward first with financial backing and a buildable design is likely to win the business. Key challenges are that the desert kingdom has no coastal sites selected for the nuclear plants and little water to spare for cooling at an inland location tentatively selected by the country’s atomic energy agency.

In Turkey Russia is building the first of four planned 1200 MW VVER reactors at Akkuyu on the Mediterranean coast. However, Rosatam has not been able to book investors for the 50% cost of the plant it isn’t paying for. The primary reason Turkish investors have not signed up is that the Russians have pegged the cost of power from the plants at about $0.12/Kw and electricity from gas plants in Turkey is sold for much less. That hasn’t stopped Rosatom from doubling down on its efforts announcing it will break ground on the second of four units this Spring.

Meanwhile, Japan manufacturing giant Mitsubishi walked away from the project to invest in and build four 1100 MW PWR type units at Sinop on Turkey’s Black Sea coast primarily due to the projected costs for the first of a kind units. That project appears to be dead.

Back in 2014 State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) of China and Westinghouse signed an agreement with Turkey to build four 1400 MW units at Igneada, a site on the Black Sea north of Istanbul. Since then, other than confirming the location, there hasn’t been anything reported from Turkey’s energy ministry about the project.

Egypt booked a massive project in 2015 with Roastom to build four 1200 MW units at El Dabaa with almost all of the financing coming from Russia. The project is still in the regulatory paperwork phase with a Spring 2020 date provisionally announced for breaking ground.

Plans for a second nuclear power station with four reactors near Port Said have also been announced, but a tender for them has not been released.

All of Egypt’s nuclear power facilities are expected to provide electricity for industrial and domestic use and to power water desalinization plants.

The United Arab Emirates is on schedule for startup of the first of four 1400 MW PWR type reactors at its Persian Gulf site. All of the reactors are being built by South Korea.

Asia

China is far and away the most active nation on the planet for building new nuclear power plants. That trend that is likely to continue though booking export deals still runs far behind the pace set by Russia. Readers interested in the details of China’s nuclear energy program are directed to the WNA profile of China. The impetus for nuclear power in China is increasingly due to air pollution from coal-fired plants.

According to the WNA profile, mainland China has about 45 nuclear power reactors in operation, 12 under construction, and more about to start construction. Almost all of the new start are at coastal sites due to limitations on getting large components transported inland.

After building and commissioning four Westinghouse AP1000s and two Areva EPRs, China is now investing heavily in a domestic design of a 1000 MW PWR the Hualong One which is also being offered for export. China continues to buy nuclear reactors from Russia and this month inked a deal for two advanced heavy water design reactors from Canada’s SNC Lavalin.

China is making significant investments in nuclear energy R&D especially for molten salt, high temperature gas, and even thorium fueled reactors. By comparison, while China is investing billions in new nuclear technologies, so far the U.S. has spent only millions and has a long way to go to catch up.

India has kept western nuclear reactor vendors are arms length while accepting new construction of 1000 MW VVERs units at Kudankulam from Rosatom. In 2019 India committed to a 700 MW PHWR type design and announced plans to build 10 of them with seven more on the drawing boards. The CANDU type designs are feasible for India to build with its domestic supply chain since the units don’t require the large forgings needed for reactor pressure vessels in PWRs.

In 2020 look for India to open the door to foreign direct investment in the construction of the PHWRs as the cost of all 10 units, even with India’s drastically lower labor rates, is still a tall order financially for NPCIL. India's hey indusries that provide steam generators ad turbines may also benefit from global investor interest in the new nucler build.

South Korea faces an uncertain future for its home grown nuclear fleet due to a government policy announced in 2017 of shutting all of its reactors by 2045. The policy has undercut the credibility of South Korea’s export plans as well.

Strong support for the manufacturing side of the nuclear supply chain, and employment at the country’s 24 reactors may eventually force a change to that policy.  In 2019 South Korea completed the U.S. NRC safety design review of its 1400 MW PWR gaining international credibility for exports of it as a result.

Look for a future change in government leadership to reverse the policy of phasing out nuclear energy at home and related exports. The country has few domestic natural resources, and Russia would be the likely supplier of natural gas if it came to that.

Japan’s slow roll of restarting its nuclear reactors continues to force the country to import coal and natural gas to keep the lights on. The cost of these imports is a strain on the nation’s economy.

According to the World Nuclear Association until 2011, Japan was generating some 30% of electricity from its reactors and this was expected to increase to at least 40% by 2017. The plan is now for at least 20% by 2030, from a depleted fleet. Currently 37 reactors are operable. The first two restarted in August and October 2015, with a further seven having restarted since then.

Another 17 reactors are currently in the process of restart approval. The Nuclear Regulatory Agency has leaned hard on Japan’s nuclear utilities over anti-terrorism requirements and measures to mitigated the effects of volcanic eruptions. Two reactors that had restarted had to shut down due to these requirements. The central government isn’t sufficiently focused on energy policy as it is apparently sitting on it hands when it comes to reactor restarts.

Challenges to restarts also come from provincial politicians who have found success in getting elected by bashing the nuclear energy industry as a convenient distraction from other issues including the nation’s stagnant economy.  As expected the closure of the reactors, and the long, uncertain process to reopen them, has played havoc with local economies that depended on the payroll from plant employment and the economic multiplier effect of plant purchases of parts and supplies.

Japan’s exports of nuclear reactors have dried up with both Hitachi and Mitsubishi withdrawing from planned deals due to higher than expected costs and uncertainties over customer financing. Japan does not have any significant technology developed, beyond R&D lab scale projects, for either small modular reactors nor high temperature gas reactors.

South America

Nuclear energy projects in Argentina and Brazil are stalled out due to problems with the economies of both countries. Despite a major loan from China, Argentina isn’t going ahead for now with a third reactor. Also, it stopped work on development of a promising 25 MWe SMR for the same reasons. No progress is expected in either country this year.

Dan Yurman's picture

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Discussions

David Svarrer's picture
David Svarrer on Jan 31, 2020 10:28 am GMT

Dear Dan, 

This is one of the most comprehensive walk throughs I have seen in a long time. 

However. While Nuclear Power - if it did not have these extremely serious drawbacks - would by far - be the absolutely preferred energy source of choice, we have a problem, as the 7 problems previously mentioned here in Energy Central (severe - very severe - issues) related to Nuclear Power - have not been countered. 

Without addressing those issues, people around the world have got fed up. 

I know, Dan, that the energy sector have by far not yet even started swallowing this bitter pill, that the people have had enough. They still think that all they need is a bit of German Reich-Chancellor Goebbel's manipulation. 

And I am not joking. 

We have all seen how the Nuclear Power in the wake of the climate catastrophe we are facing - have tried changing clothes to weare the "Green Energy Cloak". They have even gone as far as to try to tweek the word "Renewable" to also include Nuclear Power. 

The only Green there is about Nuclear power, so so so unfortunatly - is the visible Green/Bluish spectrum part of the deadly Selenko-radiation you see if you by mistake - like those who did it in Tjernobyl - open up the door into to the melting down reactor kernel and gaze into your own death. A few milliseconds in the particle bombardment and your fate is sealed.

No, Dan. We are, in a long, foreseeable future not going to see any backing behind any new Nuclear energy initiatives. 

And why would we? We have had numerous articles documenting that if we implement renewable energy solely on the roof tops of all human settlements, the collective energy input is fully enough to cover the global energy consumption. 

And with the ongoing research in all sorts of energy storage, there is no imminent need of any further development into the nuclear power sector. 

Nuclear Power is - likely - the future source of energy - however - it is also similar likely that we need maybe 50 to 100 years more of development, such that we at atomic level can handle the conversion of the poisonous and deadly radiative by-products from nuclear power. 

Yet - one of the problems - the proliferation of nuclear arms and the exposure to "dirty bombs" or "dirty attacks" - especially in the wake of drone swarms, and autonomous unmanned vehicles moving in 3D space - both above water and below water (!) is a prudent source of any kind of night mare arising from installing more nuclear power in the current world with its current population of species - the most dangerious and destructive of them all being us humans.

Therefore it is naturally good to see the possibilities as you have lined them up - but they remain a mere fantasy. Follow the discourse, internationally. People are not stupid anymore. 

Sincerely

Rational Intuitive IVS

David Svarrer

RED Architect and CEO

 

Dan Yurman's picture
Dan Yurman on Jan 31, 2020 7:28 pm GMT

David,

Here are my brief responses to the "seven problems" noted on your comment.

1. Time from planning to operation is too long; yes, that's true and more than half of it is regulatory overkill. The NRC and the CNSC (Canada) IN 2019 agreed to conduct joint reviews in a timely manner for advanced reactors (next generation). Terrestrial Energy and NuScale signed up.

2. Cost - based on LCOE - is too low, way too low. I think you mean "too high," but levelized cost of electricity isn't the only revenue basis for new nuclear plants.  New plants today can also provide process heat for steel mills, petrochemical plants, district heating, and desalinization. Today's light water reactors can also be used to make hydrogen which is a gas that when burned does not generate CO2.  By the 2040s we're likely to be driving hybrid cars that start on hydrogen and then run on elecricity same as todays gasoline hybrids.

3. Weapon proliferation risk (as documented by IPCC); this is a political problem not a technology problem. BTW, the U.S has agreements with dozens of countries under section 123 of the atomic energy act to insure the peaceful use of nuclear power.

4. Meltdown Risk - not only design, but human error and terrorism must be factored in; the Chernobyl reactor by design had no containment shell. The Russians dveloped the RBMK reactor there to make weapons grade plutonium. It was mismanaged by the Russians and the government tried to cover up the accident. You can't blame an entire industry for one rogue government's actions. 

5. Mining Lung Cancer risk; hard rock miners who smoked, and thus were exposed to excessive levels of radon, were far more likely to get lung cancer than ISR miners on the surface. Blame goes to the mining companies which failed to provide sufficient ventilation in the mines and personal protective gear to miners.

6. Miscalculations of CO2 equivalences must be corrected! Scientific uncertainty is a reason for more science. It doesnt mean you make a decision.

7. Radioactive waste; management of spent fuel in dry casks is a safe as standing on a corner waiting for the light to change. Siting a deep geologic repository for high level radioactive waste is a political problem. Call your congress person.
 

Dan Yurman
https://neutronbytes.com

David Svarrer's picture
David Svarrer on Feb 3, 2020 8:06 pm GMT

Dear Dan,

You are right or have a a point on each of.your responses to the 7 reasons.

And these points you are mentioning are true, however, while you are right, the same points are some of the strongest of the 7 reasons against nuclear power.

Reason is that no matter what is the political or administrative or non technical reason being a problem for nuclear power, the explanation does not replace the problem.

In example. 

While proliferation is indeed not a technical problem, proliferation would not take place unless there is something to proliferate.

Therefore identifying the cause of the problem being non related to technical causes, does not remove.the problem. And as the proliferation problem does not exist if there is no nuclear material, and as the problem cannot be solved while the nuclear material is present, well, then the proliferation is unfortunately just one of the 7 severe problems with nuclear power in the article.

So yea, you are indeed 100% right about your points, but your comments only confirms and makes the 7 reasons cemented ..

Sincerely

David Svarrer

Dan Yurman's picture
Dan Yurman on Feb 3, 2020 9:03 pm GMT

False logic

Organophosphates exist, and have a beneficial use to control insects that consume food crops. Thus these chemicals prevent hunger and poverty.

However, because the same chemcials can be used to make deadly nerve gases, they should not exist and should be banned.

Insecticides – Malathion, parathion, diazinon, fenthion, dichlorvos, chlorpyrifos, ethion.

Nerve gases – Soman, sarin, tabun, VX.

Comment

The problem with any dual use technology is having adequate political and administrative controls on production and use. It is an imperfect world and despite the best efforts of many nations, rogue nations exist and take actions that explouit weaknesses in the systems of controls, e..g., international nonproliferation treaties.

Notes: the logic has no bottom

Russia has used VX chemcials in deadly attacks on dissidents living in exile in the U.K. Does this mean the U.K. should ban all organophasphates at all of its farms?

Terrorists in Japan used Sarin nerve in deadly attacks on the public in the Tokyo subways. Should Japan ban subways?

David Svarrer's picture
David Svarrer on Feb 5, 2020 1:47 pm GMT

Dear Dan, 

You are right in your logic. You are right also in your material conclusion on that a substance A can be used both good and bad. 

However. 

Let us take your argument, which I think is truly good, but dissect it slightly: 

Water is a necessity of life. Yet it can be used to torture people - waterboarding for example. 

Intellect is a condition of human life. We can naturally - seeing what we are doing with it, enter into a discussion of whether or not intellect actually net has benefitted human life (and life) or not.  This due to that intellect can be used in a thousand of ways for the benefit of mankind and in another thousand of ways for the disadvantage of mankind.

Due to that Water is a necessity and intellect is a condition, we cannot remove neither water nor intellect. 

Now, on Nuclear power, it is the most power packed energy source known to mankind, until we find out what fusion power has to offer. With 24,000,000 kWh per kilogram (100% enriched) Uranium, nothing on Earth matches it. However, its devastating problem is amongst them, the 7 reasons why we are not able to make use of this phenomenal energy source - at least not yet. 

Therefore, on the same note - nuclear power is not a necessity of life, and not a condition for human life. Therefore, when weighing its outstanding capabilities against its devastating, catastrophic impact in its current form (!), there is no doubt in most human's minds, including laymen and scientists alike, that Nuclear Power is fantastic, but - we are not ready yet.

Therefore, when weighing in the logic, you are indeed right about what you have written, Dan, but - you have not taken into consideration the evaluation of the logic of necessity. 

While we cannot (at least for now) avoid water and intellect, we can indeed avoid Nuclear power, until we have found out how to tame it, or found other ways to harness it, while ensuring that the serious - extremely dangerous - side effects - have been reduced to insignificance, or removed altogether. 

I am, myself, a technologist, and I think we should never give up trying to tame the Nuclear power. However. In the build up since WWII, we have seen with all clarity that when you give small people power, their lack of character pops out like a bump - and when you give them money, their lack of integrity runs down like pus. Therefore, one of the most severe issues, which you are also confirming above in your response - is that it is in reality the complete lack of human morale, integrity and character, which causes us to use organophosphors, nuclear power and other chemistry against life. 

Therefore it is my take, that besides my 7 reasons why we are not ready for Nuclear power, you may have delivered the strongest of them all - number 8 - that we are simply not ready as humanity - we are not much less primitive than the primates - we behave like hairless monkeys - have you ever studied chimpansees or orangutangs? We are not different. 

I am not in doubt that if a chimp or an orangutang knew that pressing this or that red button would blast their competitor for a female (or male), it wouldn't hesitate a second.

So back to your reasoning - 

Indeed - neither water, nuclear power, intellect, the subway, or organophosphors are the problem... Humans are. 

So. 

As we cannot - at least yet - control humans - we need to reduce the risk factors, which - when removed - will reduce exposure to devastating if not apocalyptic problems. 

Finally. 

We also need to weigh the magnitude of a problem against its two opposing uses: Use and Abuse.  How often is water being used on a positive note in support of human life? How often is water being used for water-boarding? AND when used for water-boarding - are there subsequent consequences beyond each singular - and terrible - case of torture? 

Similarly on Nuclear power (and I must admit I like your line of thought!), we must evaluate what is the consequence of each accident - each case of proliferation - is it pretty much isolated to this single case and accident or are there extremely severe consequences? With Nuclear Power - we are - 10 years down the line - still fighting with the consequences of Fukushima. The 186,000 square kilometer area around Tjernobyl in Ukraine is still no-mans land - from a disaster happening in the 1980's. 

Worth a thought is it, that the world can be supplied with its current, 159 PetaWatt-hour annual energy consumption, from an area, covering exactly the same 180,000 square kilometers, based on 1800 hours of sun. If distributed well, that is - for instance - on the houses of all private homes and all industry - in which way no land would be used - we would largely also save the distribution net, leaving it to local initiatives to distribute. 

This is slightly beyond the point of this article in one way - but on another note - it is maybe the most relevant comment of them all - because - it is a narrative often overlooked by those who work with the new generation sustainable / renewable energy systems...

What are your thoughts, Dan?

Sincerely

David Svarrer

RED Architect

Dan Yurman's picture
Dan Yurman on Feb 5, 2020 6:41 pm GMT

David, way too many ideas to respond to them here.  Have you considered posting your views as original items in the Energy Collective. More people will see them and they won't be lost in the weeds of extented comments threads.

David Svarrer's picture
David Svarrer on Feb 6, 2020 7:33 pm GMT

Dear Dan, 

I humbly don't think there is much new in what I am saying. The only difference is, that quite some evidence has cropped up over the most recent 30 years to back a slide over to renewable energy. 

Unlike the "holy cows" on renewable energy, I would indeed be happy to see a professional R&D on Nuclear Power. The darn darn problem though, is that some of the severe problems with Nuclear Power are indeed - as you so rightfully pointed out - NOT related to the technology (the water/proliferation points you so perfectly addressed!) - but related to our failures as humans to behave peacefully :-)... 

And whether or not we get a few hundred nuclear reactors or a few hundred fewer nuclear reactors, I will work solely on the "proliferation" of local renewable energy - that is - "each house or industry it's own energy source" - due to the now (yesterday even hard core documented!) corruption of the energy industry - they lobby politician - against better knowledge - to build out centralized energy structures with the distribution nets and all the jada jada, yet it became clear yesterday (Danish press..) that the energy industry and the politicians are working in cahoot - and don't give a dam(!) about the consumers. They are only interested on one thing - hoarding money :-)...

It was actually a shock. I had a sensation about it, but did not expect that DKK in the billions in profit to what ought to be a not-for-profit activity to supply energy to the Danish people and businesses - are simply flowing into these energy companies - to the severe detriment of Denmark's competitiveness, to the severe detriment of the weakest people / families in Denmark... 

Phew.

So, thanks for the confidence - I think the best would be to find out to put our forces together, and for instance offer these renewable energy systems to the coal industry and oil industry - it is similar lucrative - and if they maybe get the taste of it - they would run this just as well as they have run coal, oil and gas. 

What is your thought?

Sincerely

 

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