Coal-fired power plants making Europeans sick, report says

Mar 07, 2013
Exhaust rises from cooling towers at the Neurath lignit coal-fired power station at Grevenbroich near Aachen, southern Germany on September 11, 2012. Emissions from coal-fired power plants in the European Union contribute to over 18,000 premature deaths a year and cost an annual 42.8 billion euros, a report from the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said.

Emissions from coal-fired power plants in the European Union contribute to over 18,000 premature deaths a year and cost an annual 42.8 billion euros, a report from the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said Thursday.

The 46-page report titled "The Unpaid Health Bill", says such power plants are a key contributor to air pollution, dubbed an "invisible killer" and a major by medical experts.

Figures published in the report blame the plants for more than 18,200 , some 8,500 new cases of and over four million lost working days each year.

When Croatia, Serbia and Turkey too are taken into account, mortality rises to 23,000 premature deaths, with the bill at 54.7 billion euros.

"The findings are particularly worrying given that the use of coal is now rising after years of decline," said Genon Jensen, who heads the environmental network.

Germany, which along with Poland and Romania, account for almost half the health bill, is relaunching coal-fired plants following its decision to shut down nuclear reactors.

"The startlingly high costs to human health should trigger a major rethink on EU energy policy," Jensen said.

Jean-Paul Sculier of the European Respiratory Society said that "addressing air pollution from coal power plants alone has the potential to yield significant savings to health budgets, especially given that an average coal power plant operates for at least forty years."

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Scottingham
4.3 / 5 (6) Mar 07, 2013
too bad their shunning nuclear because its 'scary'. Fission is the only technology that can realistically replace coal in the next 10-15 years.

ps- not the current boiling water pipe bombs we have now...maybe thorium, maybe traveling wave...definitely modular and low pressure.

There have been recent advances in steel alloys that can withstand high intensity radiation for long periods of time (elsewhere on this site).
antialias_physorg
3.6 / 5 (14) Mar 07, 2013
Fission is the only technology that can realistically replace coal in the next 10-15 years.

You are aware of
- the timeline it takes to build just one nuclear reactor?
- the number of companies in the world who are able to build one?
- that you cannot build many of them because they need to be situated near rivers. Nuclear power plants produce enormous amounts of wste heat (so much so, that a number of nuclear reactors in Europe have to be shut down in the summer because they'd pretty much otherwise sterilize the rivers they are situated on)?

Not saying coal is great but nuclear isn't a viable alternative
Scottingham
3.7 / 5 (9) Mar 07, 2013
I'll address your points as I feel you are an informed counterpoint :-)
1)the timeline could be drastically reduced if they were mass produced in a factory and shipped onsite...they are current one-off engineering marvels, which cost tons of money
2)the # of companies may be small, but it is growing..there are several smaller startups (terra power for one) that are trying to provide modular reactors to the market...though most are still in the super-computer phase
3)waste heat in a modern reactor is not as big of an issue as the hotter the reactor gets the slower the reaction, so it can be passively cooled. with the water reactors you need lots of water to both cool and run the them. with the low pressure fast reactors its cooled by liquid metal (lead or sodium) which needs less of a water source.

4)nuclear *right now* is not a viable alternative...your argument is like saying in the 1970s having a global internet would be too expensive, so we should never attempt one!
antialias_physorg
3.5 / 5 (8) Mar 07, 2013
the timeline could be drastically reduced if they were mass produced in a factory and shipped onsite

This would require a prototye run AND setup of a mass production line. Neither of which has even been started yet and neither of which would be ompleted within the 10-15 years timeline. (i.e. you'd stretch the timeline back even further - and beyond 2030 it's pointless because by then you can get all the energy you want from alternative sources for less than a tenth of the cost)

waste heat in a modern reactor is not as big of an issue as the hotter the reactor gets the slower the reaction

Waste heat is the same issue as you're working with a steam turbine to generate electricity. The amount of power lost to heating steam vs. getting power is 2:1. This is already pretty much optimizd as far as it will go.

nuclear *right now* is not a viable alternative

But you can't build nuclear right now. You could build it in 20-30 years. By that time it's irrelevant.
Scottingham
4 / 5 (4) Mar 07, 2013
Sadly I think you're right on the timeline. Though I still do not thing it will be irrelevant. Our energy needs are increasing, some nations do not have the amount of land needed for solar to work. A tower with a single reactor in the sub-basement could power it for decades. Think of vertical farms and the like.
VendicarE
2 / 5 (9) Mar 07, 2013
The last 30 years have shown that the proponents of nuclear power were dramatically wrong in their assessments of reactor safety.

Given that meeting future energy needs will require the expansion of existing nuclear plants by a factor of 500, we can expect to see 500 times as many reactor accidents, 500 times as much waste production and 500 times as much radioactive contamination, and 500 times the risk of rogue nuclear weapons being produced.

This tells us that Nuclear power will never play a substantial role inthe production of global energy outside of the wet dreams in the vapid minds of nuclear proponents.

With this truth in firm grasp I am a fan of a limited expansion of nuclear power as a stop gap means of rapidly shutting down coal and oil fired power plants en route to a transition to renewable sources of energy.

I think the world could tolerate another 500 or even 1000 strategically located power reactors.

I welcome Iran to the Nuclear Club, and CONT...
VendicarE
2.3 / 5 (9) Mar 07, 2013
I welcome Iran to the Nuclear Club, and note the acts of war that the U.S. and Israel have committed against Iran, along with the outright murder of Iranian scientists who are working to bring nuclear power to the Iranian people.

As always, the Murderous nations of Israel and the U.S. are on the wrong side of history.
antialias_physorg
3.5 / 5 (8) Mar 07, 2013
Nuclear has had a very short window of opportunity in which we might have gotten it to work safely and efficientyl. That window is past. Nuclear (at least fission) is obsolete for all but off-world purposes.

Our energy needs are increasing

For the most industrialized countries it's already stagnating/decreasing. On a per person basis we need less (all our appliances, lighting, heating, etc -including cars- have gotten more efficient. And we don't use more of them at the same time than we did before)

some nations do not have the amount of land needed for solar to work

Solar requires far less land than any nation can spare (even such land-strapped nation as Japan). Most can go off shore if needed.
Lurker2358
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 07, 2013
Just curious, but what is a "premature death"?

Europeans are living far, far longer than historical norms, hmmm, nearly twice as long in fact.
djr
5 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2013
Just curious, but what is a "premature death"?

Meaning the persons would have lived longer had it not been for that particular factor.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2013
@ Scottingham 4)nuclear *right now* is not a viable alternative...your argument is like saying in the 1970s having a global internet would be too expensive, so we should never attempt one!
The internet was developed in software. Far from costing billions of dollars the software is free. Core routers can be expensive (five figures) but they are merely glorified PCs, the latter which run free software.

I welcome Iran to the Nuclear Club, and note the acts of war that the U.S. and Israel have committed against Iran, along with the outright murder of Iranian scientists who are working to bring nuclear power to the Iranian people.
The pro-nuclear camp aren't pro-nuclear for Iran, for some reason. Possibly because they are brainwashed tools who can't think for themselves
deepsand
2 / 5 (8) Mar 07, 2013
The internet was developed in software. Far from costing billions of dollars the software is free. Core routers can be expensive (five figures) but they are merely glorified PCs, the latter which run free software.


The physical backbone of the 'net, the cabling that carries the data, was not cheaply had. So too for the expense of creating and maintaining the DNS system without which the routers are useless.
djr
4 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2013
Scott: "some nations do not have the amount of land needed for solar to work"

Current options in terms of renewables are - hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, biofuel, tidal, wave. With that list of options - we should be able to find a mix that will work for any country. Bear in mind that wind actually has a relatively small foot print - very similar to that of coal.

http://cleantechn...=Feed%3A IM-cleantechnica (CleanTechnica)
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (3) Mar 08, 2013
some nations do not have the amount of land needed for solar to work.

If you consider that (under optimal conditions) 92 square miles of solar thermal could power the entire US, I think any nation could spare enough land.
Even the densely populated ones.
http://www.ecogee...ower/991

Even if you overdesign by a factor of 5 or thereabouts it's still a relatively tiny area (for the US that would mean about 1/6th the area of Death Valley).
praos
1 / 5 (3) Mar 08, 2013
T

Given that meeting future energy needs will require the expansion of existing nuclear plants by a factor of 500, we can expect to see 500 times as many reactor accidents.

Shocked as ever by this simple arithmetic. In fact, MORE reactors mean LESS accidents. See history of railroads, bridges, steam boilers, navigation, aviation, cars... you name it. End even the history of nuclear power. First reactors had their meltdowns on regular basis, for GenII probability is once in 105 reactor years, for GenIII it's once in 106 to 107, for most GenIV ones meltdown is practically or even theoretically impossible. But for even 10 000 reactors and 10-7 probability, it's only 0.1 meltdown in next 100y, resulting in about 0.01 releases of radioactivity, not necessary a catastrophic ones. Mind it, in a century. With likely zero deaths, as in Fukushima. Which was in many respects a worst case scenario.
Lurker2358
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 08, 2013
Just curious, but what is a "premature death"?

Meaning the persons would have lived longer had it not been for that particular factor.


You could say that about anything: Heart attack, cold, pneumonia, diabetes, old age, leaded gasoline, second hand smoke, drunk driver hit him, etc.

"He would have lived longer if he hadn't been so damned old!"
Steven_Anderson
3 / 5 (4) Mar 08, 2013
This is the first time in a while i have seen different counter arguments against nuclear power. The fact is that current nuclear is dangerous. However, it doesn't have to be this way. LFTR nuclear reactors do not have the capability for melt down. Some new times of Uranium reactors can't either, but they still produce huge amounts of dangerous and proliferable waste. LFTR reactors do not produce the waste. As far as the amount of time to market with LFTR reactors, I think that is totally wrong. As I have previously stated the Manhattan project only took 4 years to complete. The first large scale reactor for India is coming online next year. We can learn from this reactor in as little as a year. Most of the problems with the LFTR reactors have already been worked out. I suggest that replacing Coal fire plants with the hot components of LFTR reactors is not only feasible but most of the engineering has already been worked out. http://rawcell.com
Steven_Anderson
3 / 5 (4) Mar 08, 2013
For a capital cost of 1.6 Trillion we could convert all coal plants to LFTR reactors. It would allow a balance that cant exist exclusively with other alternative energies only. Converting them would buy us 80 years to perfect fussion and would reduce coal plant costs. If the Manhattan project were to be executed today it would have been at a cost of 26 billion. This is a figure that is on par to what it would cost to perfect LFTR reactor technology. We could find materials able to contain the nuclear flux. As it stands its inefficient but they could be built with graphite pellets and containment vessels could be made with nickle added alloys that would last us for five years. The replacement rate of the containment vessels would be higher than I would like to see, but could be done and still maintain cost on par with coal. Within 2-3 replacement cycles we could effectively develop the alloys needed to eliminate this problem. http://rawcell.com
Steven_Anderson
3 / 5 (4) Mar 08, 2013
Also remember running a hot cycle is actually good for efficiency for converting heat to steam. It better powers efficient hot cycle turbines than the type we currently use. Simply put a hot cycle would allow the use of the more efficient energy conversion engines. http://rawcell.com
Steven_Anderson
3 / 5 (4) Mar 08, 2013
With LFTR reactors the cooling occurs in the liquid salts. This is not a problem but an conversion efficiency gain and provides it with the ability to respond to rapid power increases. http://rawcell.com
wwqq
not rated yet Mar 10, 2013
If you consider that (under optimal conditions) 92 square miles of solar thermal could power the entire US


The US consumes 15 kW per person, with some 3/4 or so being used by industry and most being non-electrical.

Counting only electricty, we are still talking 1.5 kW of electricity.

Solar insolation in the best parts of the US is ~200 W/m^2 and the most efficient single-junction panel that is theoretically possible is 33%.

On 92 square miles this is 50 We/person.

Realistically, with a decent spacing between panels, panels installed where the people live rather in a desert on the other coast and so on, you'd be lucky to get 10 We/person on 92 square miles.

It's hard to guess the land required for a realistic solar-based grid, with the massive webs of HVDC cables and massive storage capacity backing up the electrical grid, because nothing like it exists or has been invented and BANANAs and NIMBYs wouldn't allow you to build it.
djr
5 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2013
"On 92 square miles this is 50 We/person."

I think this may just be a difference of how area is expressed in Europe - vs the U.S. This article says 92 miles square - ie: an area that is 92 miles, by 92 miles.

http://www.ecogee...ower/991
Pkunk_
1 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2013
That's what 10 years of allegedly "green" policies gets the Germans.
Sure, build your flights of fancy windmills and solar panels. But Never forget that the only "green" baseline power source is Nuclear. For every 2 reactors you get 1 GW of always on power throughout an entire year come Rain , Snow or Sun.
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 11, 2013
Never forget that the only "green" baseline power source is Nuclear.

Biogas/biomass is carbon neutral.
Hydro is as green as it gets.

We DO need a storage solution for excess poduction from other forms of alternative energy, but to act as if that were impossible is just plain wrong.

As for nuclear being green - I don't consider a technology that creates highly dangerous pollutants that can seep into the groundwater or which can contaminate widespread areas as 'green'. Why would you?
deepsand
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 11, 2013
Biogas/biomass is carbon neutral.

"Green" only if you don't burn the hydrocarbons.

Hydro is as green as it gets.

Not if ones factors in the environmental damage.
Modernmystic
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 11, 2013
Better to be sick than freeze to death? To starve? To be without modern medicine? Manufacturing? Transport? Communications? Which of the million things did I leave out?
Modernmystic
2.8 / 5 (5) Mar 11, 2013
Biogas/biomass is carbon neutral.


And uses huge swaths of land and increased food prices causing starvation in poor countries...

Hydro is as green as it gets.


Then why can't we build any dams in this country because the Sierra Club says it will destroy too much natural habitat??

Hydro is also extremely dangerous, killing far more human beings than nuclear is ever likely too...

http://en.wikiped...qiao_Dam

BasM
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 12, 2013
Nuclear plants can only compete thanks to the huge liability subsidies!

In ~10.000 reactor years they generated 2 major accidents, with average damage of ~$500 billion each! Both enjoyed favorable circumstances.
Chernobyl; thin population, wind away from the big city. Fukushima; winds not towards Tokyo.

So an insurance would need to take a damage of a thousand billion into account. That translates to an insurance premium of ~$200million/year per reactor.

Due to special laws, citizens in the surroundings and tax payers pay that bill invisible (until an accident)! Otherwise nuclear power plants would close!

Nuclear waste storage: They are allowed to make reservations for ~100 years, while a million is needed.
So nuclear plants sponge on our grand- grand-children!
With real cost covering reservations, the cost price of their electricity would also become so high that they cannot compete!

Without subsidies, even Solar with pumped storage is cheaper!
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2013
And uses huge swaths of land and increased food prices causing starvation in poor countries...

If done incorrectly: yes. But there is lots of marginal land that is not suitable for food production but would be adequate for biomass production. Then there is the possibility of using algea farms. You just have to think a bit outside the box.

Biomass won't be a mainstay of alternative energy production. But it is well suitable fo mitigating the variability issues.

Then why can't we build any dams in this country because the Sierra Club says it will destroy too much natural habitat??

There's other types of hydro. Osmosis powerplants at river deltas, off-shore wave generators, limpet-style energy generators
http://en.wikiped...y_LIMPET
Again: just think outside the box. Those types of hydro aren't going to kill any humans save for the occasional maintenance accident. The time of giga-centralized-energy (and the resultant energy monopolies) is past.
BasM
not rated yet Mar 12, 2013
Just look at the price developments of solar panels.
Same technology and price fall as computer chips: ~7%/year during >30years!

Now panels on the roof in Europe produce electricity for ~170 euro/MWh (incl. conversion to feed the grid).

As:
- almost all costs for solar panels are investment & installation;
- new technologies (multi-layer cells, etc) will double the yield;
In 2023 electricity from solar will cost ~9cent/KWh.
In 2033 ~5cent/KWh!
So solar will then grow exponentially.
So no need for base load power plants after 2030, only plants that can fill the gaps.
So there will be only some place for plants with low investment and high output; e.g. gas turbines driven power plants...
deepsand
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 12, 2013
So no need for base load power plants after 2030, only plants that can fill the gaps.
But these gaps can be pretty large. http://livingfiel...400.jpg. Not to say, we simply have no capacity of batteries to cover it.

Why did you link to a graph that appears to be for that of a very high latitude?

A better view, one which spans 0 to 80 degrees latitude, can be viewed at http://www.powerf...ge14.jpg .
deepsand
2.1 / 5 (7) Mar 12, 2013
This graph corresponds the subtropic http://cnx.org/co...010.png. The lower latitudes are both too distant from civilization, both occupied with unstable regimes, so they're not usable anyway.

The graph that you linked to NOT for latitude 40.

And, it is NOT the case that lower latitudes are either "too distant from civilization" or uniformly "occupied with unstable regimes."
deepsand
2.3 / 5 (9) Mar 12, 2013
BTW Why to bother with wires and solar cells in the time, when everyone can have http://www.youtub...e79N5_5s in his kitchen?

Oh, goody; another (3 year old) perpetual motion machine claim. :rolleyes:
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.5 / 5 (8) Mar 12, 2013
It's actually thirty years old already - the worse for mainstream physics and whole the contemporary society. Why is it ignored so long time?
Uh because it doesn't work? Open the thing up and show us the batteries. LENR has blown up labs and melted windows, per NASA. What has perpetual motion ever done? Got any evidence?

Careful - you're losing your credibility.
deepsand
2.5 / 5 (8) Mar 12, 2013
It's actually thirty years old already - the worse for mainstream physics and whole the contemporary society. Why is it ignored so long time?

Because it's a fraud?

Now, how about addressing your fallacious claims re. solar influx, etal..

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