Friday, November 25, 2005

Nuclear Power debate on openDemocracy𑉜

CH: Apparently, wind power produces nearly twice as much CO2 than does NP.

RL: No, a wind farm pays back the CO2 debt incurred in its construction (and decommissioning) in the first 3-6 months of its 25 year life.

CH: The total annual output of CO2 emissions via NP is considered by most experts to be negligible.
RL: Yes, the annual production CO2 emmissisons are very low. It is the life Cycle Analysis that shows up the CO2 costs.

CH: Van Leeeuwen and Smith appear to contradict themselves when they argue at the start of the second
paragraph that 'the production of electricity by nuclear reactors, as long as rich uranium ores are
still available, leads to considerably [less ]
CO2-emission than does the use of fossil fuels for
the purpose'.

RL: That is the case for the rich uranium ores to which we now have access. When they are used up, we would have to have recourse to low grade ores, and the huge energy requirement to refine these ores would mean that we would put in more energy to produce the fuel than the NPS would produce when running. So there would be no point in refining it.

CH: NP is in fact actually ok, but somewhere in the unknowable future, or in their words in 'the course of time' - it will amount to a deadly threat to us all, in some shape or form.

RL: No, it is a threat right now, both from routine discharges, which are dispersed via mudflates and spray drifts to reach local communities where they cause raised incidence of neoplasia.

They also present a threat of Chernobyl - type Maximum Credible Accidents through terrorist action.

"The use of nuclear power causes, at the end of
the road and under the most favourable conditions,
approximately one-third as much CO2-emission as
gas-fired electricity production."

CH: So, let me get this straight, according to this statement - sometime in the far distant future, NP will emit only one-third of the amount of CO2 as would a gas-fired electricity generator.

RL: No Courtney, not in the far distant future, but over the lifetime of a NPS - some thirty years. Unfortunately, it is in the construction (melting steel, making concrete) and ore refinement that the CO2 is produced, so an attempt to solve global warming (GW) by a nuclear build programme would make GW worse in the 15 year construction phase.

"Conventional NP offers an insignificant
contribution to world energy needs... It could
produce maybe 5% (maybe less)of the world's energy
needs for some thirty years, then that would be it.
Nothing left but waste."

CH: But,you tell me, what other form of energy production
can make a significant contribution to the
energy needs of the whole planet?

RL: First, energy conservation and energy efficiency measures give the best returns both financially and in terms of CO2 savings.

Second, a major programme of all renewables - not just wind, but also solar heating, micro Combined Heat and Power, biomass, tidal current and wave, and Photovoltaics must be developed at maximum rate. Unlike NP, they are ready to go now. If politicians had had the intelligence to develop these strategies 50 years ago, when the problems of finite and fossil fuels first became generally known, we would not be in this predicament.

This diversity of renewables bypasses the main argument of the anti-wind lobby - "Wind Is Intermittent". Yes it is (but so is nuclear power, given the number of outages they experience). A multiplicity of sources creates an energy output that very closely mirrors our diurnal use of energy. They supplement each other - on calm days, we are more likely to have sun.

Remember that solar energy daily provides the earth with an energy income 1,600 greater than our total daily energy requirement. If an area the size of Kuwait were covered with PV cells, it would generate as much electricity as we currently use. If every house in the UK were to have its south walls clad with PV, we would produce more than a nuclear power programme at a fraction of the cost.

CH: I really like the bit when you said 'it [NP] could
produce maybe 5% (maybe less) of the world's energy
needs, for some thirty years'.

RL: I think you may be confusing electricity and energy. It is easily done. NP produces electricity, but the major energy source for most of our fellow humans is biomass.

CH: So, is there absolutely nothing positive whatsoever about NP?

RL: Well, there is actually. I would not oppose a nuclear power programme that used the energy implicit in the world's stockpiles of weapons grade plutonium, so as to destroy the threat of nuclear war.

CH: But, I would argue that its your campaign of unfounded fear of terrorists sabotaging a Western NP facility has made it a target for any sick wannabe Bin Laden.

RL: Are you suggesting that we should not discuss the risk of a terrorist attack on a NPS in case it gives Osama ideas? Do you really think the thought has not crossed his diseased mind?

To summarise in three words, Nuclear power is uneconomic, unecological and unethical. The most immediate objection to nuclear poswer as a solution to GW is that it is so expensive that it would suck funds away from the real, sustainable longterm solution - energy efficiency and renewables.

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