Hans Blix calls on scientists to develop thorium nuclear fuel

Oct 31, 2013 by Nancy Owano weblog
Thorium
Thorium-232 crystal, prepared by the van Arkel (chemical vapour transport) process. Credit: The Actinide Group, Institute for Transuranium Elements (via Wikipedia)

(Phys.org) —Call it the great thorium divide: Thorium supporters and thorium critics do not agree over claims that thorium is an alternative nuclear fuel that could ensure a better future for the planet. Nonetheless, interest continues in thorium as a safer and abundant alternative to uranium. On the side of thorium, the latest call for action has come from Hans Blix, the former UN weapons inspector and former Swedish foreign minister. Urging nuclear scientists to develop thorium as a new fuel, Blix also called on the nuclear industry to start powering reactors with thorium instead of uranium. Blix said that the radioactive element may prove much safer in reactors than uranium and it is also more difficult to use thorium for the production of nuclear weapons.

He believes efforts in turn should be made to develop thorium, as the world looks for future energy supplies. "I'm a lawyer not a scientist," Blix told the BBC News. He acknowledged there are many obstacles ahead in turning to thorium, but development efforts should be made.

Thorium is a radioactive element and there are thorium reserves in countries around the world. Scientists promoting thorium as an alternative argue that is a safer, more economical way of generating nuclear power than uranium. It is also more difficult to use thorium for the production of . To be sure, abundance has been a strong argument among supporters. Thorium is believed to be three times more plentiful than uranium.

Oystein Asphjell, chief executive of Thor Energy, told BBC News: "There is lots of thorium in the world, very well distributed all over the globe." As for nuclear waste, he said "we do not generate long lived waste."

As the BBC News report explained, when a uranium reactor overheats and the fuel rods can't contain the chain reaction, as happened at Fukushima, the crisis continues. This bears contrast to the case of thorium where, if something happened to a thorium reactor, technicians could switch off the stimulus which comes from or plutonium in a small feeder plant. The thorium reaction would shut itself off without any human intervention. A number of countries have explored thorium as an alternative fuel. Led by Norwegian company Thor Energy, thorium is being tested at a site in Halden, Norway.

Nonetheless, critics warn that, if supporters say it is high time to turn to thorium, they say this is a poor time. Their concern is that developing new reactors could drain funds best applied elsewhere. Nils Bohmer, a nuclear physicist with Norwegian environmental NGO, Bellona, said thorium development was a distraction from the need to cut emissions immediately to stave off climate change. He called the advantages of "purely theoretical," according to the BBC.

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Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (18) Oct 31, 2013
so plutonium239--the daughter of thorium--- cannot make nuclear bombs now?

thorium isn't necessarily better than U-238 for breeder reactors , and both types of fast breeder reactors NEED U235 in order to start the chain reaction---at least with modern technology.

there is a possibility in the future you can use copious amounts of electricity in a fusion device to break apart lithium 7 into tritium, add some deutrium, and THEN fuse the two in order to create copious amounts of neutrons in order to kick start the fissioning of the u238 or thorium----either way-------you need a significant neutron source to get the breeding reaction going.

separating the products suitable for a bomb----u235, p239 or a few others---isn't the problem.

he biggest 'problem' that blix should be worried about proliferation is the 'new' laser isotope separation 'silex' process commercialized this year, after 25 years of R&D. the guy who created is in australia, waiting to be kidnapped by china, iran...
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 31, 2013
Hans Blix should try wiki for encouragement.

"At the 2011 annual conference of the Chinese Academy of Sciences it was announced that "China has initiated a research and development project in thorium molten-salt reactor technology."

"In late June 2012, India announced that their "first commercial fast reactor" was near completion making India the most advanced country in thorium research"

"In May 2010, researchers from Ben-Gurion University in Israel and Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York began to collaborate on the development of thorium reactors"

"In late 2012, Norway's privately owned Thor Energy, in collaboration with the government and Westinghouse, announced a four-year trial using thorium in an existing nuclear reactor."
WillieWard
1.6 / 5 (17) Oct 31, 2013
Much safer and far more difficult to use it for nuclear weapons, is the aneutronic fusion.
ekim
4 / 5 (4) Oct 31, 2013
so plutonium239--the daughter of thorium--- cannot make nuclear bombs now?


Plutonium238 and Uranium233 is produced from thorium reactors. Making bombs would be much more difficult.
jimbo92107
4 / 5 (4) Oct 31, 2013
Bohmer's criticism doesn't make sense if "thorium is being tested at a site in Halden, Norway." Results of the Norwegian test are hardly "theoretical." You can't get more concrete than hard data from a real, ongoing test reactor.

Ignoring the views of Hans Blix has in the past been a tragic mistake.
ForFreeMinds
1 / 5 (13) Nov 01, 2013
"Their concern is that developing new reactors could drain funds best applied elsewhere."

Those who've invested their careers in uranium nuclear reactors, apparently fear losing their jobs. Financial concerns and fiefdoms, of scientists, attempt to trump science.
antialias_physorg
3.8 / 5 (4) Nov 01, 2013
While thorium doesn't have some of the problems that uranium (or plutonium) has it is a finite resource (and therefore can lead to the same scarcity/economic war scenarios as any other fuel). While it is relatively abundant in rock the number of sites where it can be economically mined is low.

It does pose a waste problem - and while the waste (or the initial thorium fule elements themselves) cannot be used to make a fission bomb they can be used to make dirty bombs - which means the security issue around any disposal sites will never go away (read: will be an ever mounting cost factor which will make the fuel ever less economical as time goes on and kicks the can of cost for permanent storage down the road to future generations once this technology goes off line)
arq
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2013
So both have their advantages and disadvantages. No harm in trying to see if thorium can be used where and when possible. Countries/organisations which have abundant thorium and the technological knowhow to mine, use, dispose....need to go ahead with their research and if the results are positive should explore thorium reactors.

We are entering a world where just one kind of nuclear fuel is no longer sufficient to meet our needs.
Scottingham
3 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2013
Anti, you're right in that the waste can be an issue. But calling it a finite resource is a bit disingenuous if all of the fissile material was used it'd provide energy for centuries, if not longer.

My bet is on the energy amplifier design. It uses a particle accelerator to cause fission. It can break down wastes to negligible isotopes, all while using those events for energy.
rockwolf1000
3 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2013
Anti, you're right in that the waste can be an issue. But calling it a finite resource is a bit disingenuous if all of the fissile material was used it'd provide energy for centuries, if not longer.

Hence why it is considered a finite resource. It will last for centuries. Not forever. That is what finite means FYI. He was completely accurate is his description.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2013
Countries/organisations which have abundant thorium and the technological knowhow to mine, use, dispose....need to go ahead with their research

That's the real problem. There is no country that has the ability to dispose of radioactive waste.
The simple truth is: no country in the history of the planet has been around for a timespan that would be required for such disposal. What makes anyone think that the current crop of nations will suddenly outlast all previous ones by orders of magnitude? In the past few decades alone some nations have split (Yougoslavia), ceased to be (East Germany), lost all forms of government (Somalia), ...

And most certainly a subsequent nation - be it through conquest, national schism, political trade of regions, etc. - will have no interest in taking care of the problems of the old one (if they even know they exist).

Not to mention what we'll do when deposits become inundated/inaccessible by natural disasters or climate change.
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (6) Nov 01, 2013
Fuel costs are not a significant part of the cost of electricity from nuclear reactors.

Switching to thorium would not make nuclear energy affordable. It would still be in the 15c/kWh zone while wind and solar are now in the 5c/kWh zone. Spending a dollar on wind or solar will bring 3x as much clean electricity on line and will bring it on line ~ 8x faster.

That's how we get rid of fossil fuels. Spend our dollars where they produce the most, the fastest.
Eikka
1.7 / 5 (17) Nov 01, 2013
Switching to thorium would not make nuclear energy affordable. It would still be in the 15c/kWh zone while wind and solar are now in the 5c/kWh zone.


Wind and solar are not 5 cents per kWh without subsidies and with the necessary storage capacity, and neither is nuclear power 15 c/kWh. You're making a disingenuous comparison.

The simple truth is: no country in the history of the planet has been around for a timespan that would be required for such disposal.


The pyramids have been around for 5000 years or so, which is enough time for nuclear waste to become mostly harmless radiation-wise.

There's a curious propaganda twist on the long half-life of some of the isotopes to argue that the waste has to be secured for millions and millions of years, while disregarding that long half-life is paired with low radioactivity. The highly radioactive elements break down in a couple hundred years.
antialias_physorg
3.5 / 5 (4) Nov 01, 2013
The pyramids have been around for 5000 years or so

And in that time egypt has had several schism, has been conquered by Persians and the Romans, invaded by several adjoining countries and has had a number of revolutions (the latest of which was just a few years ago - in which they couldn't even control their stocks of chemical weapons).
Even in the times when Egypt was ruled by egyptians the borders have shifted to and fro a lot. Here's an animation to show you how illusiory national stability over large timescales is
http://www.mapsof...ory.html

Even if we could let that count: Are you really arguing that ALL countries that will use thorium will be as stable as this imaginary Egypt you seem to have in mind? Really?
Egleton
1.3 / 5 (15) Nov 01, 2013
Forgedaboudit.
The Great Dieoff is set in stone.
Nine billion with a doubling time of 35 years, Sheesh.
The human attempt has ended in failure.
Bob_Wallace
3.2 / 5 (9) Nov 01, 2013
Eikka - check to see the price that the UK is having to pay for new nuclear electricity. 15c/kWh guaranteed with inflation increases. And they are having to give subsidies in terms of loan guarantees to get it that low.

Onshore wind in the US has been selling for about 5c/kWh - without subsidies.

"The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged $40/MWh for projects negotiating contracts 2011 and 2012, spurring demand for wind energy."

http://newscenter...ime-low/

http://www1.eere....port.pdf

$40/MWh means $0.04/kWh. Add back in the $0.022 PTC (which lasts only ten years) and it's $0.051/kWh for a 20 year PPA.

I've hit the character limit - hang on...
Bob_Wallace
3.1 / 5 (7) Nov 01, 2013
Solar is reaching 5c/kWh in the US SW.

The cost of large-scale solar projects has fallen by one third in the last five years and big solar now competes with wind energy in the solar-rich south-west of the United States, according to new research.

The study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory entitled "Utility-Scale Solar 2012: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States" – says the cost of solar is still falling and contracts for some solar projects are being struck as low as $50/MWh (including a 30 percent federal tax credit)."

"Another interesting observation from LBNL is that most of the contracts written in recent years do not escalate in nominal dollars over the life of the contract. This means that in real dollar terms, the pricing of the contract actually declines.
Bob_Wallace
2.6 / 5 (7) Nov 01, 2013
part 3 -

This means that towards the end of their contracts, the solar plants (including PV, CSP and CPV) contracted in 2013 will on average will be delivering electricity at less than $40/MWh. This is likely to be considerably less than fossil fuel plants at the same time, given the expected cost of fuels and any environmental regulations."

http://renewecono...ts-75962

Nuclear is 15 cents. Wind and solar are somewhere around 5 cents. Those are real world numbers. Signed contract numbers.

Egleton
1.4 / 5 (11) Nov 02, 2013
Smeone here is rooting for coal-judging by the ratings scores. We have an infestation.
Eikka
1 / 5 (9) Nov 02, 2013
UK is having to pay for new nuclear electricity. 15c/kWh guaranteed with inflation increases


That's UK. They're doing something absolutely silly by paying that much, and it smells of corruption.
Egleton
1 / 5 (10) Nov 02, 2013
Perhaps the Mathematical wizards that lurk in dark corners might want to offer an opinion as to why Prof. Hagelstein's predictive models for Cold Fusion are wrong?
He would appreciate the help.
http://www.youtub...DorkL8zE
Bob_Wallace
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 02, 2013
In the last few years there has been open bidding for new reactors in Ontario, Canada, in San Antonio, Texas, and in Turkey. These have all been "turnkey" bids, a guaranteed price. Not the sort of bid low, deliver 2x, 3x the bid price which the nuclear industry has done so many times in the past.

Both the Ontario and San Antonio bids were for building, not operating the reactors. Based on the received bids the cost of electricity would have been ~20c/kWh. The Turkey bid was for someone to build and operate the reactors. The low bid price was 21c/kWh.

If you take the publicly released costs for Olkiluoto 3, add in a reasonable financing cost, and calculate the LCOE you will find the cost of electricity to be higher than 15c/kWh.

Cheap nuclear energy is simply a myth. Were it possible to build new reactors and sell electricity for less than 10c/kWh we would see them being built all over the place right now.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (8) Nov 02, 2013
While it is relatively abundant in rock the number of sites where it can be economically mined is low
Not really. I count 10-15 countries all over the globe.

"Data for reasonably assured and inferred resources recoverable at a cost of $80/kg Th or less are given in the table below..."
http://www.world-...Thorium/

"Thorium is four times as abundant as uranium and as common as lead. The Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA) estimates "there is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level for over 1,000 years." "America has buried tons as a by-product of rare earth metals mining," notes Evans-Pritchard. "Norway has so much that Oslo is planning a post-oil era where thorium might drive the country's next great phase of wealth. Even Britain has seams in Wales and in the granite cliffs of Cornwall."
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.1 / 5 (7) Nov 02, 2013
There is no country that has the ability to dispose of radioactive waste.
SUBDUCTION.

"The proposed land-based subductive waste disposal method disposes of nuclear waste in a subduction zone accessed from land, and therefore is not prohibited by international agreement. This method has been described as the most viable means of disposing of radioactive waste, and as the state-of-the-art as of 2001 in nuclear waste disposal technology."
http://en.wikiped...disposal
my motivations for aether, because all its indicia are so subtle, widespread and emergent
-So how come you havent mentioned any of these indicia here?
Sanescience
2.5 / 5 (8) Nov 02, 2013
Better be fast about it before it becomes obsolete!

http://www.dvice....ur-years

arq
1 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2013
@anti,


Are you implying that thorium specifically shouldnt used, or nuclear fuel of any kind shouldnt be used?
totinen
3 / 5 (6) Nov 03, 2013
Fuel costs are not a significant part of the cost of electricity from nuclear reactors.

Switching to thorium would not make nuclear energy affordable. It would still be in the 15c/kWh zone while wind and solar are now in the 5c/kWh zone. Spending a dollar on wind or solar will bring 3x as much clean electricity on line and will bring it on line ~ 8x faster.

That's how we get rid of fossil fuels. Spend our dollars where they produce the most, the fastest.

Here in Finland nuclear power is in the 4c/kWh zone.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Nov 03, 2013
@anti are you implying
Anti is anti-nuke and pro-eurodisney fantasyland. Anti is fine buying dirty energy from Lebensraum countries downwind in the east.
Better be fast about it before it becomes obsolete!

http://www.dvice....ur-years
Seems I watched this awhile ago. Wish there was more info about it. Another example of discredited 20th cent tech that was being developed in secret US military labs. Like cold fusion by the navy and NASA. What else are they working on? Zero-point energy?

Why yes they are
http://www.nasa.g...ble.html
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2013
Are you implying that thorium specifically shouldnt used, or nuclear fuel of any kind shouldnt be used?

I think nuclear has its uses and should be developed for off-world applications (spaceships, manned research stations and the like). There you have no environment to worry about (at least no human-relevant environment).

On Earth the problems are just too great. Especially since the decision of country X to use it directly affects country Y. Radiation cares very little about borders.
We also have no technology to clean up spills/disasters/waste. Cordoning off affected areas and accepting higher radioactivity levels in our food is not an acceptable plan B.

If we did have some ability to handle radioactivity in worst case scenarios I'd see it differently, as the technology is seriously fascinating. But at the current level it's just not worth the risk...and there are much better (and cheaper) alternatives available by now so it makes less and less sense to go that way.
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (4) Nov 03, 2013
totinen - That 4c/kWh electricity is from reactors built and paid off some time ago. When Olkiluoto 3 comes on line the cost of electricity from it will be 15c/kWh or higher.

It's the same here in the US. Our reactors which were built decades ago produce cheap electricity, at least some do. Some are going bankrupt because wind and natural gas are cheaper.

But there's no way to go back in time, build more reactors in the 1970s and have them paid off before 2013.
Eikka
1.5 / 5 (8) Nov 03, 2013
When Olkiluoto 3 comes on line the cost of electricity from it will be 15c/kWh or higher.


Except it won't, because the price was negotiated beforehand, and the increase has frankly been due to the sheer incompetence of Areva.

However, even with the delays and setbacks, the final price is estimated to come to 40€/MWh which is 4 cents a kilowatt-hour, and not 15c.

The cost of new nuclear facilities is currently high because the whole industry has been pretty much put on ice since 1986, and the plants they're building now are pretty much prototypes - first of their kinds.

There's also the factor that new nuclear plants aren't given lisences to operate for very long. The cost analysis doesn't take into account refurbishing and upgrading the plant to prolong its operating life.
Eikka
1.5 / 5 (8) Nov 03, 2013
Were it possible to build new reactors and sell electricity for less than 10c/kWh we would see them being built all over the place right now.


Except we aren't because it is politically decided so. We are simpy not allowed to build new reactors even if they did make sense.

And utility prices are not the same as customer prices, because the utilities add transmission costs and profits and taxes to the price. With a utility price of 4-5 c/kWh you're looking at customer price of around 12 c/kWh. Don't confuse the two.
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (6) Nov 03, 2013
I don't know where you live, but in many countries it is legal to build new reactors. The exceptions (so far) are some European countries such as Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.

There are some reactors being built right now in many countries including the US. Overall not very many are being built, most plans were canceled due to costs. Other countries have expressed interest in new reactors but have dropped out due to cost.

I don't know what you mean by "Don't confuse the two". 15c/kWh is the price the UK is guaranteeing to pay at the wholesale level for a new nuclear reactor. Adding distribution and grid maintenance costs that electricity will either need to be sold to retail customers for something like 20c/kWh or the losses made up with taxpayer money.

4c-5c/kWh is what US utilities are currently paying for wind (two year average for entire country) and solar (best price - several contracts written below 10c).

TheGhostofOtto1923
2.5 / 5 (8) Nov 03, 2013
on earth the problems are too great
-But the alternatives are worse. Coal releases far more radioactivity into the environment in unrecoverable form, not to mention conventional pollutants. And alternative energy can't hope to replace fossil fuels.

Nuclear waste is easy to store and mitigate. And it is potentially reusable. Thorium is even better. One potential replacement might be orbital solar power.
lengould100
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 03, 2013
Pretty free and loose with the `data` there Bob. Why no references.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (8) Nov 03, 2013
but in many countries it is legal to build new reactors

Legal does not mean easy.
It is legal to build pipelines in the USA, but BHO is preventing the construction of a new oil pipeline.
A refinery project has been trying build an oil refinery in AZ for thirty years. It is not illegal to build a refinery, per se.
BTW, it is NOT legal for non-citizens to live and work in the USA without legal permission. But millions do.

ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (7) Nov 03, 2013
"Arizona Clean Fuels was originally scheduled to open in 2009. But it took SEVEN YEARS TO GET AN AIR QUALITY PERMIT."
"When you add the cost and delays caused by overly stringent and ever-changing EPA regulations and the constant court challenges of environmental groups to the tremendous expense of actually constructing a new oil refinery, it's a wonder that Arizona Clean Fuels and Hyperion were able to find investors at all. "
http://freedombyt...5-years/
But it is not illegal to build an oil refinery.
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (4) Nov 03, 2013
Pretty free and loose with the `data` there Bob. Why no references.


It's up higher. But I'll give you the links a second time....

Solar ~ 5c/kWh
http://renewecono...ts-75962

Wind 4c/kWh
http://www1.eere....port.pdf

arq
1 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2013
@antialias,

I share the same sentiment with regards to uranium, but thorium seems better with regards to maintainence and disposal. I am not implying that countries should start building thorium without considering the cons, they should consider the cons. But its definitely worth being explored instead of uranium. Maybe not instead of coal, natural gas, hydrothermal, wind if they are available and not too expensive comparatively, but definitely instead of uranium if they are already using/decided to use uranium.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2013
Sure. If you absolutely want to go nuclear then thorium is probably the best way to go about it. That said: I still think it's a really bad choice in every regard compared to abundantly available alternatives (at least on Earth).

It's like if you want to go for coal: bituminous coal is better than lignite.

"Better than" does not automatically mean "good" (or "sensible")
totinen
not rated yet Nov 04, 2013
When Olkiluoto 3 comes on line the cost of electricity from it will be 15c/kWh or higher.


Except it won't, because the price was negotiated beforehand, and the increase has frankly been due to the sheer incompetence of Areva.

It is more complicated. Orderer demands 1.8 milliard compensation for delay.
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2013
When Olkiluoto 3 comes on line the cost of electricity from it will be 15c/kWh or higher.


Except it won't, because the price was negotiated beforehand, and the increase has frankly been due to the sheer incompetence of Areva.

However, even with the delays and setbacks,


OK, the selling cost may be less, but the cost is going to be high. Someone is going to take it in the shorts.

arq
1 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2013
@antialias,
I never implied its 'good' or 'sensible' than other forms of energy if they are the same cost/cheaper and available. I only implied its 'good' or 'sensible' than uranium in particular cases.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2013
OK, the selling cost may be less, but the cost is going to be high. Someone is going to take it in the shorts.


Areva is, because it's their blunder for not doing it properly from the get go.

Finland has always been a kind of litmus test for nuclear power because they're such sticklers when it comes to building quality. The same thing happened when the Soviets built the Loviisa and Olkiluoto reactors for them, except at that time you weren't allowed to publicly criticize the Soviets.

Areva has been forced to re-do large parts of the build because their work hasn't been up to the standards set by the Finns' nuclear safety authority. Even things like reinforcement of concrete for the reactor building, which isn't a critical part for operation. Then they botched the automation systems by outsourcing them and having to re-do that as well, and then they were caught using outsourced workforce who were being abused by the sub-contractor etc. etc.

It's just been a complete mess.
Eikka
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 05, 2013
I don't know where you live, but in many countries it is legal to build new reactors. The exceptions (so far) are some European countries such as Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.


In no country can you just build a nuclear reactor. You have to go to the government to get a permit, and getting one takes decades because of all the political back and forth, and the lobbying from anti-nuclear organizations.

15c/kWh is the price the UK is guaranteeing to pay at the wholesale level for a new nuclear reactor.


That price has nothing to do with how much nuclear power actually costs. It's simply to get someone to take the risk under the possibility that the government does a total 180 degree turn a few years later and shuts the whole thing down.

Nuclear power, as in the new Areva EPR in Olkiluoto was supposed to cost 19€/MWh or about 2 cents per kWh and is now projected to end up at 4 c/kWh with the setbacks and delays.
Eikka
3 / 5 (4) Nov 05, 2013
Pretty free and loose with the `data` there Bob. Why no references.


It's up higher. But I'll give you the links a second time....

Solar ~ 5c/kWh
http://renewecono...ts-75962


If you take a closer look, it says they're selling at 50$/MWh after a 30% federal tax credit, which means the real price is 7.14c/kWh and that's the lowest bid so far. The other bids aren't that low, so the average installation price isn't that low.

And the solar plants in question are situated in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada. Of course you can make the case for solar power if you live at the same latitudes with North Africa, but what about the rest of the world?

I would appreciate you didn't try to push disingenuous propaganda.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 05, 2013
If you absolutely want to go nuclear then thorium is probably the best way to go about it. That said: I still think it's a really bad choice in every regard compared to abundantly available alternatives (at least on Earth).


I think the point is that nuclear power is a working solution that is CO2 free, available at a fast rate if we want to, and will keep working for a thousand years with the currently known sources.

The abundant alternatives have yet to prove to work on the large scale beyond a couple percent of the mix. All the countries that are currently using them to a high percentage are utterly dependent on their neighbors for a "virtual battery" just to fit the solar and wind power into the grids, which is a completely unsustainable proposition when you consider that every country in the world must build these new energy sources or they simply will not matter.

It's not about what is the best solution, but about what is the next step towards it.
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (2) Nov 05, 2013


I think the point is that nuclear power is a working solution that is CO2 free, available at a fast rate if we want to, and will keep working for a thousand years with the currently known sources.

The abundant alternatives have yet to prove to work on the large scale beyond a couple percent of the mix. All the countries that are currently using them to a high percentage are utterly dependent on their neighbors for a "virtual battery" just to fit the solar and wind power into the grids, which is a completely unsustainable proposition when you consider that every country in the world must build these new energy sources or they simply will not matter.



Man, you sure love nuclear. But you do your cause no service by misrepresenting things.

We can't build reactors as quickly or as cheaply as we can install renewables. And renewables are not limited to "a couple percent of the mix".

brt
1 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2013


We can't build reactors as quickly or as cheaply as we can install renewables. And renewables are not limited to "a couple percent of the mix".



Both of those statements are false. The only truth in there is that we can't build reactors as quickly as renewables. Since reactors are 5 times as efficient as renewables and renewables only last 30 years; then that makes renewables a pretty poor choice by comparison.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Nov 05, 2013
Both of those statements are false.

You might want to check a couple of facts before making such claims.
http://en.wikiped..._sources

The numbers for some of those countries (even heavily industrialized ones) are pretty big. And many of them are adding capacity and an increasingly fast pace.
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (2) Nov 05, 2013


We can't build reactors as quickly or as cheaply as we can install renewables. And renewables are not limited to "a couple percent of the mix".

Both of those statements are false. The only truth in there is that we can't build reactors as quickly as renewables. Since reactors are 5 times as efficient as renewables and renewables only last 30 years; then that makes renewables a pretty poor choice by comparison.


Let's see....

"We can't build reactors as cheaply as renewable" - True or false? The cost of new nuclear power is 16 US cents/kWh. The cost of new onshore wind in the US is 4 cents/kWh. The cost of new solar in the US SW is 5 cents/kWh.

The statement is true.

" And renewables are not limited to "a couple percent of the mix". True or false? Wind and solar are now about 5% of the US grid supply. Renewables are 23% of Germany's grid supply.

That statement is also true.
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (2) Nov 05, 2013
Since reactors are 5 times as efficient as renewables and renewables only last 30 years; then that makes renewables a pretty poor choice by comparison.


I suspect that what you're saying here is that the capacity factor (measured production/nameplate capacity) of nuclear is higher than the CF for wind and solar. That's right, it is. Not as much as 5x however.

Average CF for newer wind farms in the US is now over 40%. 2011 nuclear CF in the US was 84.3%, so about 2x. Solar in the US delivers roughly 20% CF, about a fourth as much as nuclear.

But CF is not an important metric. It's one of the factors along with capexp, finex, O&M (including fuel) that goes into determining the cost of electricity produced. While nuclear has a good CF it has a bad price, roughly 3x that of wind and solar.

Oh, our newer tech wind turbines should last at least 40 years, first gen turbines lasted 30. Our oldest solar panels are now 40 years old and still working quite well.
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (2) Nov 05, 2013
If you take a closer look, it says they're selling at 50$/MWh after a 30% federal tax credit, which means the real price is 7.14c/kWh and that's the lowest bid so far. The other bids aren't that low, so the average installation price isn't that low.

And the solar plants in question are situated in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada. Of course you can make the case for solar power if you live at the same latitudes with North Africa, but what about the rest of the world?

I would appreciate you didn't try to push disingenuous propaganda.


Actually the ITC adds about 1 cent, not 2 cents to the price. The ITC does not include real estate costs, transmission, operating costs including taxes, and profits which all figure in to the price.

I was very clear that this was the low price. But it shows us where solar prices are headed.

If you would like the cost for the less sunny NE US add about 2 cents. At 8 cents (NE and no subsidy) solar is half the cost of nuclear.