back to article 'Only nuclear power can save humanity', say Global Warming high priests

Four of the best-known scientists espousing the belief that humanity's carbon emissions are an immediate and deadly threat have issued a statement begging their fellow greens to support nuclear power. Doctors James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel and Tom Wigley co-signed an open letter over the weekend in which they …

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  1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Sigh...

    The problem with the hard-greens is that people living comfortably is not anywhere on their agenda. They like to see humans as an infestation which has to be reined in and put back into the caves where we will languish and eventually die out and return Gaia to its pristine, holistic, universally loving condition. Presumably, while this is taking place, the greens themselves will be afforded special privileges and live in relative comfort as someone has to monitor and supervise the process, you know...

    Global Warming is a scarecrow for them in order to hammer the rest of us onto this "path of salvation" and anything that makes the scarecrow less scary or shows that there is, indeed, another way is an anathema.

    It is nice to see that some of the greens have actually the good of the planet at heart and are prepared to speak out against the misanthropic dogma...

    1. frank ly

      Re: Sigh...

      "Global Warming is a scarecrow ..."

      Some people say that Global Warming is a strawman. I think lots of confusion arises from this.

    2. Graham Marsden
      Boffin

      @Vladimire Plouzhnikov - Re: Sigh...

      The problem is that many people don't bother listening to anything beyond the rants of the "hard line greens" and, just as in many other situations, tar all people who have a vaguely similar philosophy or belief with the same brush as the extremists.

      Lewis, as always, goes to the opposite extreme, citing the claims that "renewable power simply can't provide anything like the amount of energy required for any large proportion of the human race to live a reasonably comfortable life" and this "requires most of the human race to remain in miserable poverty", but misses the point that this assumes that to have a "reasonably comfortable life" requires people to engage in some equivalent of the ridiculously profilgate energy expenditure that the USA and Europe indulge in.

      I have said it before and I will say it again, we need to use energy MORE EFFICIENTLY! For instance, switching on the air con when it gets a bit warm or the heating as soon as it gets a bit chilly is simple, but it is NOT necessary if we actually put some effort into designing our buildings correctly and getting from A to B can be done much more efficiently than driving vehicles the size of a small truck whilst carrying a single occupant.

      No hair shirts are required, no living in houses lit only by a single bulb, no thick jumpers necessary, we are supposed to be an intelligent species, but until we actually start *using* that intelligence instead of just short-sightedly worrying about how much it's going to cost (and how that will affect someone's election prospects or the interests of the big businesses who only pay attention to their dividends and bonuses) we are going to end up screwing ourselves into the ground and not solving the fundamental problem!

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: @Vladimire Plouzhnikov - Sigh...

        ...I have said it before and I will say it again, we need to use energy MORE EFFICIENTLY!...

        Alas, no.

        This margin is too short to give you the economics lesson you need, so you are going to have to explain to yourself that:

        1 - The market automatically makes us use ALL resources at the appropriate level of efficiency depending on their rarity/value. That is why you see goldsmiths sweeping their workbenches for scraps of gold, but you don't see builders filtering the gutter for sand.

        2 - If you want to make people save energy and use it more efficiently, you are going to have to raise its price considerably. People CANNOT save items while still getting them cheap.

        3 - There is NO justification for forcing energy prices high. We can effectively generate an infinite supply if we like. It is NOT a scarce raw material. Our current usage of energy would be considered ridiculous to someone of 100 years ago, and in 100 years time we will probably be using many times more energy than today.

        1. Graham Marsden

          @Dodgy Geezer - Re: @Vladimire Plouzhnikov - Sigh...

          Thank you for the offer of an Economics Lesson, but since I studied the subject at A Level, I think I'll decline and just point out the flaws in your post:

          1) "The market automatically makes us use ALL resources at the appropriate level of efficiency depending on their rarity/value."

          Balderdash. In a completely free market, products, energy and so on will be sold at whatever price the customers will bear. This is why, for instance, we currently have the nonsense of the retail energy companies saying "it's not our fault that prices are going up, it's because of the wholesale cost" whilst forgetting to mention that they are buying the power from generators which they *also* own!

          Their retail arms are only making small profits because their wholesale arms are coining it in as they have a tacit cartel agreement with their fellow generators that nobody will rock the boat by cutting the wholesale price and they know that the consumers are stuck with buying it at whatever price they're told it is.

          2) "If you want to make people save energy and use it more efficiently, you are going to have to raise its price considerably"

          Again, balderdash. Why do we now buy fridges and freezers etc which are more energy efficient than the ones that were available in the past? Because they are cheaper to run! If you have the choice between paying X to run a fridge every year or 50% of X, why would you buy a less efficient fridge when you need to replace it?

          3) "There is NO justification for forcing energy prices high".

          I agree entirely and I wouldn't argue for that as it's short sighted and ignores the fact that energy (like petrol etc) have a relatively inelastic demand curve, whereby pushing the price up causes only a small reduction in the quantity used.

          So, inconclusion, more efficient use will either bring down the amount of consumption or (at the least) slow down the rate of increase of consumption. Either way it's win-win.

          1. Fibbles

            Re: @Dodgy Geezer - @Vladimire Plouzhnikov - Sigh...

            Why go for expensive efficiency when you can have less expensive and almost limitless energy?

            In time the market drives efficiency in technology in order to increase profits, whether this is increased efficiency in manufacturing or simply as a marketing gimmick to sell more fridge freezers. However, you're advocating efficiency as a solution to climate change / the looming energy crisis. This means you need leaps in efficiency to happen in a relatively short amount of time which means lots of investment up front which in turn drives up prices for everyone in order to maintain profit levels.

          2. 9Rune5 Silver badge

            Re: @Dodgy Geezer - @Vladimire Plouzhnikov - Sigh...

            "Why do we now buy fridges and freezers etc which are more energy efficient than the ones that were available in the past"

            We buy them because we can afford them. Aaaand, since they are much cheaper to buy and much cheaper to operate than when they were first introduced, _a lot_ more people can afford them. Had they stayed expensive fewer people would have bothered and we would not have to produce as much electricity to run them all.

            Energy demand increases every year, despite several major improvements in efficiency. Your solution clearly fails to work.

      2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        @ Graham Marsden

        I don't mind efficiency. In fact, I, personally, strongly dislike inefficiency (like the inefficiency of the wind power generation, for example).

        However, a) efficiency does not equate reduced energy consumption and b) is not cheap.

        The (a) is because as your things become more and more efficient you can afford to run more of them at the same time.

        The (b) is because making things better needs capital expenditure and upfront cost which, unless you are well off already, may not be affordable to you. Having said that, the nations that are following in the footsteps of Europe and America are already using more efficient things than those existing when the US and Europe were going through the same process - it is the investment made by the developed nations that allows the developing nations to skip over generations in technology. Like the proverbial "on the shoulders of giants"...

        In any case, the total energy requirements of humanity are going to go up even as the efficiency of the consumption will continue to increase.

        1. Graham Marsden

          @Vladimir Plouzhnikov - Re: @ Graham Marsden

          > I, personally, strongly dislike inefficiency (like the inefficiency of the wind power generation, for example).

          And the fact that cars are about 30% energy efficient whilst bicycles are 98% efficient?

          > as your things become more and more efficient you can afford to run more of them at the same time.

          Yes, you can. It doesn't mean you *have* to or need to, though.

          > the total energy requirements of humanity are going to go up even as the efficiency of the consumption will continue to increase.

          True, but as I pointed out above, at the very least we can affect the rate of change (in the mean time we can wait until we sort out Fusion which I have been reliably informed is only 30 years away... ;-) )

          1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

            Re: @Vladimir Plouzhnikov - @ Graham Marsden

            "(in the mean time we can wait until we sort out Fusion which I have been reliably informed is only 30 years away...)"

            Actually, we've had a fusion reactor running reliably for several billion years. We just need to figure out how to hook it up to the grid.

          2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

            Re: @Vladimir Plouzhnikov - @ Graham Marsden

            "And the fact that cars are about 30% energy efficient whilst bicycles are 98% efficient?"

            These numbers don't sound right to me. Bicycle may seem efficient because it only needs to carry the weight of the engine and not much else. But the engine itself is not efficient, it requires expensive specialist doped fuel mix and the water system is open cycle, so it has to be topped up with water regularly, which it then loses as waste. It also produces powerful greenhouse gases as the exhaust.

            However, above all, it is not powerful enough to carry any reasonable payload (for that you need to use much more powerful traction engine called "horse", which requires yet another type of fuel, produces even more waste and is difficult to maintain as you have to keep it running non-stop for its entire operational life). Also, the bicycle uses the roads highly inefficiently and aggravates traffic congestion in the cities.

            "Yes, you can. It doesn't mean you *have* to or need to, though."

            We may not have to do it but we will, if only we can :-)

            1. Graham Marsden

              Re: @Vladimir Plouzhnikov - @ Graham Marsden

              " the bicycle uses the roads highly inefficiently and aggravates traffic congestion in the cities"

              Nonsense!

              When transport congestion is modelled, two-wheel users are a positive benefit because whilst they might take up the same sort of space as cars etc whilst traffic is moving, as soon as things slow down, they start filtering between the gaps, thus *reducing* the amount of road space used and thus the congestion caused.

              1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

                Re: @Vladimir Plouzhnikov - @ Graham Marsden

                "two-wheel users are a positive benefit because whilst they might take up the same sort of space as cars etc whilst traffic is moving, as soon as things slow down, they start filtering between the gaps, thus *reducing* the amount of road space used and thus the congestion caused."

                They slow down the traffic and create empty gaps, which they then fill - what's positive about that? These gaps act exactly like air bubbles in water pipes - they block the flow. I am saying this not from any fancy and politically correct model but looking at the real life and real roads. I mostly walk around on foot but, oh, I hate the cyclists in London! They seem to believe that the highway code and common sense safety are not meant for them.

                1. Graham Marsden

                  Re: @Vladimir Plouzhnikov - @ Graham Marsden

                  "They slow down the traffic and create empty gaps"

                  You get a higher throughflow of traffic at slower speeds because you don't get the bunching caused by people "driving on their brakes" as they zoom up to the next vehicle/ pedestrian crossing/ traffic lights then slam on the anchors creating an extremely inefficient(!) stop-start situation as they waste momentum turning it into heat (in their brakes) and then have to expend fuel accelerating again.

                  The empty gaps left when two-wheel users filter can be used for efficient driving by simply going a bit slower and allowing elasticity in the system. (Look up Hypermiling for more details).

                  And London isn't representative of the whole country. Having travelled on two wheels in that city and others, it seems that the vast majority London road users, no matter how many wheels they are on, are bloody terrible!

            2. Austhinker

              Re: @Vladimir Plouzhnikov - @ Graham Marsden

              Yes, the 98% effficiency for bicycles is illusory - it's comparing the drivetrain and transmission of one vehicle with the entire powertrain of another. The energy advantage of bicycles comes more from the reduced power usage, due to reduced speed and weight.

              NO. Bicycles do not necessarily use the roads highly inefficiently. The problem in western cities is that the system is primarily designed for cars and other larger vehicles.

      3. mmeier

        Re: @Vladimire Plouzhnikov - Sigh...

        Ah the "evil air condition" and the "tree killing SUV". Those may (or may not) be US problems but Amiland is not the world not even a large part of it. Look at Europe and you will see that most houses do not use air condition (even most offices don't) and most vehicles are not 3000ccm+ SUVs either. Houses are build on the compromise between "still affordable" and "well insulated" (we actually use brigs instead of wood!) and some "low energy" houses are actually "high mold" designs.

        Domestic energy use is small compared to industrie or public transport. And those in turn are necessary if we want civilisation at least on the current level. With more and more people rightfully demanding it - we need MORE energy not less. With some parts of the system going "electric" including the "Green EgoWanker" of personal electric cars we need more energy, not less. Even if we tell the Greenies where to stuff their e-toys and concentrate on USEFULL electric cars (bus, trains, short haul trucks) we need more energy.

        And there is little renewable available. Water is already well developed and any new dam or hydraulic power station will be blocked by NIMBYs, "The poor fishies", "EVIL technology" and the rest of the granola. Solar/Wind do not work without efficient and long term storage (Wind AND Solar where bascially out during a total of 4 weeks in winter 2012/13! in germany), stuff that is not available NOR any technology that can do this.

      4. Scorchio!!

        Re: @Vladimire Plouzhnikov - Sigh...

        "Lewis, as always, goes to the opposite extreme, citing the claims that "renewable power simply can't provide anything like the amount of energy required for any large proportion of the human race to live a reasonably comfortable life" and this "requires most of the human race to remain in miserable poverty"

        Sir Fred Hoyle beat Lewis to it; in October 1979 his OU textbook, "Energy or extinction? The case for nuclear power" was published. I read it, have you? He very carefully calculated the effectiveness of alternative sources of energy, and it is clear that they are not up to it. It is a great pity that Hoyle was not around to kick Huhne in the arse for his stupidity when he held office.

    3. Psyx

      Re: Sigh...

      "The problem with the hard-greens..."

      ...Is people on the other side of the debate stereotyping and demonising the other side of the debate, and shifting anyone opposed to them into the same pile of people?

    4. Faux Science Slayer

      Re: Sigh...

      We live in a false paradigm, directed by the elites and funded by tax payers. This false paradigm requires LIES about science, history and current events. If you've not noticed any LIES, then you've not been paying attention. There is NO Carbon climate forcing, only FORCED Carbon commodity marketing. There is NO 'sustainable' energy as all these green meanie schemes require more energy for creation than they produce. There is NO 'peak' oil as Hydrocarbons exist and are created throughout the Universe and are a prerequisite to life, not a finite artifact of past life.

      All these science LIES explained in "Becoming A TOTAL Earth Science Skeptic".

    5. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Re: Sigh...

      Bloody obvious.

      If you want to keep living like this than the only way is nuclear.

      As they used to say "there aint no such thing as a free lunch".

      Otherwise it is back to the cave or a good old bout of genocide to fix it.

  2. Richard Wharram

    Good call.

    Now we sit back and wait for the loons who think that running a grid is a ridiculously old-fashioned thing to do to pipe up.

  3. Martijn Otto

    So get on with your nuclear fusion reactor. It has been made on a small scale, it works and no danger of meltdown. If it's so important, why is nobody funding this?

    1. Gabor Laszlo

      The US Navy is (look up Polywell). Since they laid hands on the project most progress became classified, but there seems to be some.

    2. Malcolm 1

      It seems unlikely that both of these projects are running on charitable donations:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Ignition_Facility

      1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

        Focus Fusion

        Here is another small-scale one which does work and is currently in the process of being scaled up to (hopefully) reach net energy output. What's more, it doesn't need expensive deuterium and tritium, and it doesn't produce pesky neutron radiation. http://focusfusion.org/

    3. malcolmus_rex

      fusion is being funded - alot

      Fusion is vert important and people are funding it.

      It works on a small scale, but at that scale it needs more energy input that it produces.

      That will hopefully change, with two multi-billion dollar international research projects looking into it:

      http://www.iter.org/

      https://lasers.llnl.gov/

      It turns out that using fusion to make electricity is actually quite difficult.

      1. Visionar

        Re: fusion is being funded - alot

        Thorium Molten Salt Reactors are the way to go, developed in the 60's at ORNL, they can't blow up, melt down or make weapons. Low pressure, burn 99% of its fuel and solves the waste problem? energyfromthorium.com

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: fusion is being funded - alot

          Thorium Molten Salt Reactors are the way to go, developed in the 60's at ORNL, they can't blow up, melt down or make weapons. Low pressure, burn 99% of its fuel and solves the waste problem? energyfromthorium.com

          True.

          Pity most of the major nuclear players do not make their money from building the reactors but fueling them

    4. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Meh

      When you say nobody, I assume that you mean except all of us - with our contributions to JET (Joint European Torus) and ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor )

      Oh, and that's just a couple of them - there are other tori as well, plus a few smatterings of high-power laser pulses being used to ignite small pellets.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " If it's so important, why is nobody funding this?"

      I think you'll find the governments of Russia, Europe, Japan and the US are funding this research. Because it's incredibly expensive, and still so far away from practical output no private investor could take the gamble. To an extent governments have taken over the role of very long term venture capitalists, and you might well see that as a good thing. Unfortunately this means that our longest term investments are in the hands of some of our smallest intellects, and those people have both a very short term horizon, and predilections for spending money on bread and circuses rather than anything really useful.

      All of which ignores the risk that despite the billions spent, fusion may never work economically.

      1. Andydaws

        Sensible remark

        "All of which ignores the risk that despite the billions spent, fusion may never work economically."

        I mean...

        Certainly I'm not seeing much indication that we're withing half a century of commercially viable fusion power - ITER will probably demonstrate some form of sustained burn, but it's a long way from being a demonstrator for an actual generating plant - for a start, it lacks any real means of taking the energy derived from the fusion reaction (which is mostly in the form of high energy neutrons) and turning it into useful heat.

        The reality is, even assuming ITER works, it'll take maybe 10-15 years to gain that experience and turn it into a design for a true demonstration generating plant, 1--15 years to build that, then a decade of oeperation - at which point we might JUST be ready to try a commercial demonstation plant.

    6. Psyx

      "why is nobody funding this?"

      You mean apart from all the millions that ARE being thrown into funding it.

      "it works"

      Yeah...as of about two weeks ago, after thirty years of work. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, only pointing out the banality of saying "It works, why don't we have it?" barely seconds after it's finally been made to work and belittling everyone who has ever worked on it, by pretending that they haven't been...

    7. MachDiamond Silver badge

      @martijn - The small scale fusion you may be thinking of is on the order of a few seconds at a time. Not really all that viable even if all you want to do is check your email. Do to the cost of the technology, if fusion reactors do become a reality, they will be large. The baseline costs are too much to justify anything smaller than around 1GW facilities at current estimates.

    8. Austhinker

      HUH!

      "So get on with your nuclear fusion reactor. It has been made on a small scale, it works and no danger of meltdown."

      I must have missed something! Has someone made a continuously operating nuclear fusion reactor while I wasn't looking? Links please!

      I'd be in favour of well managed nuclear fusion power plants - although they would still create some nuclear waste, it wouldn't be on the same scale, or of the same type as fission reactors.

  4. badger31

    Amen

  5. returnmyjedi

    If SimCity has taught me anything, Microwave and nuclear fusion power stations give one the most spark per simolean. So long as you have natural disasters and the like switched off, natch.

  6. dervheid

    The penny drops

    finally.

    Stop hugging those trees and embrace the atom.

    Of course , there's still billions to be made peddling renewables as 'The Answer'. They're not.

    They're only a part of it, and not a majority part.

    1. itzman
      Holmes

      Re: The penny drops - renewables as 'The Answer'. ?

      Mate, they ain't part of the answer. They are a major part of the problem. Introduction of huge swathes of wind and solar power causes infinitely more problems than they solve.

      Indeed it is hard to see a single problem they do solve.

      Unless co-operated with massive hydro, they don't reduce emissions. In fact there is considerable evidence to show that in cases of co-operating with certain types of fossil power, any benefit in reduced fossil generation is more than offset by the requirements to dump fuel into fossil hugely inefficiently to get high slew rate ramp up to compensate for little matters like the wind dropping, and sunset..

      Intermittent renewables are an expensive cosmetic solution that does nothing to really address emissions at all. Its a make believe solution for politicians to adopt funded by generous rake offs from the consumer that go straight into renewable companies and from then it government ministers back pockets. That is its main function is not to produce reliable low emissions electricity, but to be give the appearance of so doing, for political and commercial profit.

      Insofar as nuclear is an infinitely cheaper, less environmentally damaging, and more effective way to reduce CO2 emissions, Hansen et al are completely correct.

      Of course, whether there is any need to reduce CO2 emissions is a moot point...but that is a step too far for Hansen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The penny drops - renewables as 'The Answer'. ?

        "Insofar as nuclear is an infinitely cheaper...."

        In what parallel universe is nuclear power cheaper than anything? If you've been paying attention, you'll have seen the UK government has just guaranteed to pay EDF more than double the current UK wholesale power price for a new nuclear reactor. That's fairly representative of the "Alice in Wonderland" economics that is used to justify energy policy (which in itself has been decided to appease the worshippers of climate change).

        So the recent Parliamentary whining about high energy prices is revelaed as complete cant. Their solution to public anger over rising energy prices is to rubber stamp agreements to double current prices.

        1. druck Silver badge

          Re: The penny drops - renewables as 'The Answer'. ?

          Ledswiger; the EDF deal is for energy prices in 10 years time, and is quite a bit cheaper than we are paying for the least expensive renewable - onshore wind - right now.

          In 10 years there will be no more onshore wind locations, leaving only offshore wind which is currently over twice cost, and even more ridiculously inefficient solar. With coal having been banned by then, and then being at the mercy of foreign supplied gas, that nuclear deal is going to look like the bargain of the century.

          1. Psyx

            Re: The penny drops - renewables as 'The Answer'. ?

            "and then being at the mercy of foreign supplied gas, that nuclear deal is going to look like the bargain of the century."

            As opposed to French and Chinese supplied nuclear power?

            Nuclear power is expensive, despite the number of people saying it's not. It costs a lot to build and a lot to take apart. And any private company is going to whimper and beg for handouts and begrudge doing it at the cost of short-term losses for long-term gains, because their Board are going to be waving 'bye to their bonuses and handing them to the guy in their chair in 20 years.

            There is no cheap solution.

            Energy companies are keen to tell us that government requirements to invest in renewables are what is jacking the price up... well of COURSE they are saying that, because they're not going to just come out and say "Really, we're ripping you off because we're a private company that wants to make money for the people that own us at your expense, and this a convenient excuse that you're all to eager to believe."

      2. druck Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: The penny drops - renewables as 'The Answer'. ?

        itzman is correct. Our local gas power station has just been upgraded at great expense to bring up it's efficiency to close to 60%, however with cheap coal taking up the base load and having to drop out any time wind become available, it is no longer viable to run continuously, but is now powering up and down on a daily cycle. This means it spends a large proportion of its time only running at around 30% efficiency (the same as coal), completely negating any CO2 savings from the wind.

        The cost is enormous, not just from the obscene subsidy paid for that tiny amount of wind, but at the same time running cost of the gas plant increases due to reduced life of components from continued cycling, the staff all need to be paid whether its generating or not. Just to top it off when the wind stops during very cold calm spells in the winter, some of the energy from the gas plant has to go back to the wind farm to heat the blades so they don't ice up.

      3. Psyx

        Re: The penny drops - renewables as 'The Answer'. ?

        "Indeed it is hard to see a single problem they do solve."

        I don't see solar that way. I see it as there being a really good fusion reactor in the sky that's there for the tapping; especially in rural, poverty-stricken areas which aren't on the grid. We're not that efficient at tapping into it yet, but the first petrol engines were a bit crap too and we didn't give up on them straight away.

        It's not perfect and not really as good as making our own fusion plants, but solar energy shouldn't simply be written off as a bad plan. It's not like we're short on space for it, either.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: The penny drops - renewables as 'The Answer'. ?

          @ Psyx

          "I don't see solar that way. I see it as there being a really good fusion reactor in the sky that's there for the tapping; especially in rural, poverty-stricken areas which aren't on the grid. We're not that efficient at tapping into it yet, but the first petrol engines were a bit crap too and we didn't give up on them straight away."

          My problem with wind and solar is we are talking about the grid. This is a national cost for grid coverage. If it was a few people away from the grid then its a different story. The great fusion reactor in the sky is blocked by weather and protections of earths atmosphere.

          Wind and solar could bring limited electricity to those unable to reach the grid. But then its a pet project for their private cost. I completely disagree with plugging this failed technology into our grid at our cost and completely disagree with energy from incapable sources taking priority on the grid

        2. Austhinker

          Re: The penny drops - renewables as 'The Answer'. ?

          True!

          If we hadn't had fossil fuels, the industrial revolution would have probably been a bit slower, but it would have still happened, and by now we would have a renewable energy economy.

          Mind you, we'd probably have even less forests, as one of the most readily accessible forms of concentrated renewable energy is wood.

          Those who say renewable energy can't be the answer lack imagination.

          1) The electricity grid is becoming larger, and there are even plans to link the Americas with Russia. If electricity can be transmitted efficiently enough, and I believe it already can, then soon the grid will always be in daylight somewhere, making base load solar feasible.

          2) If we could harvest half of the fuel that feeds devastating bushfires it could be used to generate gas (by pyrolysis) and electricity, and reduce the bushfire risk at the same time.

          3) Many food plants are annuals, and most of their biomass just goes to waste once the food is harvested. This biomass could be harvested for electricity and gas generation.

          4) One form of solar energy being tried stores solar energy in reservoirs of superheated steam for use when the sun doesn't shine.

    2. mmeier

      Re: The penny drops

      Renewables unless their output is available on schedule are useless. Water works, Methan works within limits (1) but neither solar nor water work in most of the developed world. Same for geo-thermal. Unless you have activities (i.e Island) that is not a smart technology to use since artificial geothermal uses technology similar to fracking and (as germany has learned) can cause nice earthquakes.

      The main problem with the unreliables (Wind, Solar) is that you need backup capacity equal to what they generate IF they are running. Backup that are either "running idle" (selling the produced energy for "black zero" or even less) OR quick starting. The latter are bascially Methan driven gas turbines. Not very efficient and not very environment friendly.

      As an alternative you can learn to live with blackouts, brownouts, power rationing (and domestic WILL be the first to be switched off) and other fancy things. There is a good reason Poland is making sure they can isolate themselfs from the german network if necessary.

      (1) Using fields purely for Methan production means that the remaining food producing fields need more fertilizer etc - not a good choice

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Marketing Change?

    The problem is the term "Nuclear", It conjures up all sorts of bad imagery.

    I think it's time for a marketing change, how about:-

    Organic Energy - Produced from naturally occurring (concentrated) radiation.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Marketing Change?

      Using "radiaishun" is not a bright PR idea, either.

      How about "holistic luminance" and "kinetic life-force from the heart of matter"?

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: Marketing Change?

        The Inner Shine? A Force Within?

        Coupled with Al Gore style cartoons, friendly-faced spheres bumping together and creating some nice sunrays.

        /ducks quickly/

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        ""kinetic life-force from the heart of matter"?"

        Genius.

        It invokes all sorts of positive Earth Mother, life force bulls**t imagery.

        That's great for the tag line but you need some sort of name for this thing (remember how Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging became Magnetic Imaging?).

        1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
          Coat

          marketing spin

          Give all citizens an automatic share of the ownership of Particle Energy Power, and hold free information sessions called PEP talks. Citizens will be given tokens to prove ownership of their share, these tokens will be known as Fission Chips.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            Re: marketing spin

            "Give all citizens an automatic share of the ownership of Particle Energy Power, and hold free information sessions called PEP talks."

            Superb.

            "Citizens will be given tokens to prove ownership of their share, these tokens will be known as Fission Chips."

            Not so superb.

            1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

              Re: marketing spin

              So sorry to have disappointed.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Marketing Change?

      The same thing happened to the tomato as well (because it's related to nightshade). Thing was, poor Italians had little choice, so necessity taught them that, hey, you can eat tomatoes, and the rest was history. That's what's needed for nuclear to be pushed forward again: a whole lot of NECESSITY.

    3. Gordon 11

      Re: Marketing Change?

      The problem is the term "Nuclear", It conjures up all sorts of bad imagery.

      As in the nuclear family?

    4. monkeyfish

      Re: Marketing Change?

      That's the same reason an MRI is called a Magnetic Resonance Imaging, because 'magnetic' sounds considerably less scary than 'nuclear' (as in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging, to give it it's full title).

      Organic Energy sounds a little too far, people might look up what it means, I suggest something obviously scientific but not obviously scary. How about 'Particle Energy'?

      N.B. I think the 'no nuclear' message largely carried over from the 'no nuclear weapons' message, which is a different subject altogether.

  8. John H Woods Silver badge
    Happy

    I am delighted.

    I am a 'green' - not a tree hugging, knit-your-own-yoghurt, anti-progress green - but I think we should take a science-based, damage-limiting approach to our sustainability challenges.

    The Fukushima Nuclear Success shows that even old technology, subject to horrendous environmental challenges, is safer than burning fossil fuels. We need a lot more nukes. Just a shame that we in the UK seem to have to borrow money from the Chinese to pay the French to build (just) one new plant.

    Of course we should continue to research renewables. But if we're all going to be driving electric vehicles soon, we are going to need a lot more capacity. Maybe start now, instead of a power policy based almost 100% on nimbyism, whose medium term consequences will be loss of power and whose long term consequences will be the hurried last-minute assembly of suboptimal, and almost certainly less-sustainable, generation capacity.

    1. dervheid

      Re: I am delighted.

      i'd rather have a Nuclear Power Station on my doorstep than the equivalent output capacity in windmills.

      And by "capacity" I mean actual rather than hypothetical output capacity.

  9. johnaaronrose

    But it must be the right sort of nuclear power. Uranium based fission is a dead end due to waste disposal & limited availability of Uranium not to mention terrorist threats. Currently, it seems that Thorium Molten Salt reactors are the way to go.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Uranium is more abundant than silver.

      At current usage rates there is about 500 - 600 years worth of Uranium easily recoverable.

      Extracting Uranium from sea water has been demonstrated in the lab but costs about 10 times as much as mining it or extracting it from phosphates. Just 1% of the Uranium in sea-water would provide another 500 years.

    2. John Sager

      "Currently, it seems that Thorium Molten Salt reactors are the way to go".

      Definitely, but it's going to be several years before practical & economic designs for both large & small Thorium reactors are available. So we're stuck with a generation of PWRs to be built. As a stopgap we also need enough gas-fired plant on stream to get us through the next decade.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        @John Sager with the long time frames in getting the current crop of PWR built, it might make much more sense for governments and industry to cooperate in getting LFTR reactors qualified. It might even turn out that a variation on the current concept of LFTR will work better, but PWRs should be closed out just as no body is suggesting new graphite moderated plants. The technology has issues and its time has past.

    3. BenR

      Agreed, but

      Agreed, but while what you say is true, in the short-to-medium-term, uranium based fission is proven technology that is (relatively) easily commercially deployable.

      While the fuel has limited availability, the last time this point was brought up I seem to recall discovering that there was sufficient commercially-accessible uranium to power the planet for at least 50 years based on even the most conservative of conservative assessments. More than enough - when combined with our current CCGT for peak demand, and whatever renewables happen to be generating - to keep us going for the foreseeable future. Plenty of time to perfect and make commercially available additional technologies like fusion and thorium molten salt.

      On the waste front, there is a perfectly feasible generating cycle that will burn the really *nasty* waste (the long-term, deep-geological, 200k-year half-life stuff) and leave you with waste that, while still quite unpleasant were one to start swimming in it, is clean and easy to deal with by comparison (no hard gammas, no risk of critical mass, stable isotopes with relatively short - several hundred years - half-life). As has been said by many people, many times, on many forums - the big problem with previous - and to an extent, current - gen tech is that much of it was set up to produce waste that could be reprocessed for weaponry. Take that limitation out, and there are other fuel cycles that can be used that are much more friendly. Doing that even reduces the amount of enrichment that is needed, so the fuel will last that bit longer!

      You'll note the frequent use of the phrase 'commercial'. Don't kid yourselves here - Commerce is key to all this. The bigger the company; the bigger the turnover; the bigger the aversion to risk. Proven tech is the name of the game, because it's well-understood and makes money. If thorium molten salt and thorium pebble-bed and everything was really "READY", it'd be out there making money already. I have no doubts about the science, but I wonder about the viability once it's upscaled from a research project to something of commercial generating capacity.

      Now - where's my robot monkey butler and flying, auto-pilot controlled car? I believe these are all technologies which were promised within 25 years over thirty years ago!

    4. itzman

      er what?

      There are bags of fertile/fissile material in the world. Enough for thousands of years of energy at today's population levels and with today's western lifestyle extended throughout it.

      Currently all located in unsafe deposits that can and have leaked an awful lot of it in to the sea. Billions of tonnes of radioactive uranium in the sea.

      It is our duty as custodians of the planet to dig it all up and turn it into energy and much shorter lived radionuclides that can be stored properly in vitrified matrices in steel containers where its finally safe ;-)

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: er what?

        Not all of those bags of fissile material you speak of is suitable for use in power generation. In fact, I will go as far as saying that nearly all of that material is not suitable. Your first paragraph is quite sweeping and without any references is very fanciful.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perfect!

    "Global Warming high priests" That's perfect!

  11. Arthur Kater :-D ☺

    Totally agree with these scientists.

    Although nuclear energy generation has it drawbacks, it's by far the best solution for the time being. That is, until one day we finally might be able to generate our daily energy needs using nuclear fusion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fusion Is Limited too

      The achievable fusion reaction uses tritium and deuterium, the tritium is sourced from lithium, of which there is a finite amount. An all deuterium reaction is considered out of reach at this stage as it requires a temp of about 100m Celsius as opposed to 10m Celsius of current flux densities.

      1. monkeyfish

        Re: Fusion Is Limited too

        flux densities? I think you'll find that it's the flux capacitor that will provide the real break-through. Then we can all live in peace with a Mr. Fusion providing all our daily power needs.

      2. Gabor Laszlo

        Re: Fusion Is Limited too

        The ideal fuel cycle would be p-B11 -> 3He, but getting the engineering right is tricky to say the least.

  12. Jacksonville

    Quite right too....

    Hinckley C will produce 7% of the UK's Electricity requirement. 13 of them would produce all of it. At a cost of £16 Billion each. That's £208bn. Forget about getting the private sector to do it. UK Gov should fund this via debt and general taxation.

    1. JP19

      Re: Quite right too....

      "At a cost of £16 Billion each"

      So we could have another 4 supplying another 28% of our electricity needs instead of a new train line to Birmingham.

    2. umacf24

      Re: Quite right too....

      Don't forget that current electricity demand is nowhere near total energy demand. We have to electrify heating and transport, and eventually things like brick kilns, steel foundries, cement kilns and other carbon-fed processes.

      100 kWh per head per day, or 5kW per person -- at this level of precision they're the same -- is the level to keep in mind. And common decency, if nothing else, means we'll need to deliver that to ten billions by the end of the century. That's the real reason we need lots of nukes and lots of innovation in their designs.

    3. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Quite right too....

      Don't forget that government debt is MUCH cheaper than corporate debt too, so the long-term costs would be lower. The problem is that they don't want that much debt to show up on their books, because it looks bad.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quite right too....

      "Hinckley C will produce 7% of the UK's Electricity requirement. 13 of them would produce all of it."

      Cobblers. Hinkley C is rated at 3.2 GW. Peak demand is 60 GW, so you'd need 19 similar sites to support current peak UK demand, assuming that demand doesn't climb with economic recovery and our rising population. But that's before those inconvenient statutory inspections, refuelling outages, and breakdowns. Typically the industry reckons that a mixed generation portfolio needs a minimum 15% reserve margin, so we're now up to 22 Hinckley Cs, arguably nuclear needs higher because fossil stations don't have stoppages for refuelling and statutory inspection. As a matter of note, EDF have 15 nuclear reactors, and at this moment two are offline for statutory inspections, and two more are in the process of reconnection after last week's high winds, so last week more than a quarter of their capacity was unavailable (before correcting even further for a 160MW loss of output on Hartlepool reactor 1 due to a boiler problem).

      So your plan involves the government building 22 new nuclear sites, at a cost of around £350 billion. Government have a lot of experience of spending money on big infrastructure projects, what could possibly go wrong? If you add in a higher reserve margin of say 25% (due to the concentration of risk at fewer sites and higher nuclear scheduled outages), and allow for peak demand returning to a growth trend and reaching say 66GW, then we're talking about 26 stations, and a bill over £410bn.

      Then there's the supply chain capacity, which couldn't deliver the parts, from high pressure steam piping to turbines and alternators, reactor vessels, HV switchgear, and civils. When the supply chain tightens, prices head north. So you can add another 30% to your £410bn (I know having programme managed an investment programme totalling mere hundreds of millions of quid where we were competing for capacity within a constrained supply chain).

      You could use gas for peak lopping and reserve capacity, but then it begs the question, why use nuclear at all when it costs so much (before the inevitable cost overruns). In reality the optimal answer is a mix of thermal generation asset types. Nuclear has no place until the price comes right down, and renewables have no place until they are either schedulable, or their output can be stored (neither of which will happen soon).

      1. Andydaws

        there 's a difference between "peak" and average, of course....

        "Cobblers. Hinkley C is rated at 3.2 GW. Peak demand is 60 GW, so you'd need 19 similar sites to support current peak UK demand, assuming that demand doesn't climb with economic recovery and our rising population."

        Average demand's about 45GW - we see a 55GW peak on maybe 2-3 days every other year or so. and minimum demand is about 20-25GW. So, to meet average demand would indeed take about 14 Hinkley C's

        Now, enthusiast as I am for nuclear, I've better sense than to suggest using it for exploring the further reaches of the demand curve - it's economics are wrong for that; given that fixed costs are high but marginal cost of generation is negligible, it makes sense to utilise nuclear in a mode where it's kept operating near full capacity continually - just as Sizewell B's been run.

        A smart policy would aim to keep nuclear covering baseload (so that miminum 25GW), plus some of the predictable amount of daily variation. 30-35GW (9-11 Hinkleys) would be a sensible sort of number, with CCGT covering the rest.

        Incidentally, unless regulations have changed remarkably since my ime in the power industry, larg thermal plant (i.e anything using HP steam) has to come down for extended inspections every 2 years; vcertainly having worked on Eggborough, the maintenance of the station was pretty much planed around those outages - it was the only chance to do remedial work on things like the ball-mills, a turbine overhaul and so on.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: there 's a difference between "peak" and average, of course....

          "Now, enthusiast as I am for nuclear, I've better sense than to suggest using it for exploring the further reaches of the demand curve "

          I'd agree. But I was just illustrating to the OP that a national nuke fleet wouldn't work. I'll beg to differ on nuclear for baseload, because it's still too expensive. In my view we'd be better off using modern coal and CCGT for baseload through to mid merit.

    5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Quite right too....

      "At a cost of £16 Billion each. "

      Am I being naive in thinking that the cost of building 13 (or 20, or...) is only 13x the cost of building one in some kind of worst case scenario? Surely there are design reviews, tooling up, training the workforce, etc. that would be needed only once?

      1. Andydaws

        Re: Quite right too....

        The strike price deal for Hinkley C - £93/MWh - drops to £88.50 if Sizewell C's built. Which implies a unit price of £84/MWh expected for Sizewell C.

        Which in it's turn implies a 15% or so unit cost reduction if you assume the cost of nuclear ouput is 80:20 capital versus operations.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Quite right too....

          "The strike price deal for Hinkley C - £93/MWh - drops to £88.50 if Sizewell C's built. Which implies a unit price of £84/MWh expected for Sizewell C."

          That's true. But given the parlous state of EDF's finances, why invest yet more capital in the UK for the purpose of diluting your returns?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quite right too....@Ken Hagan

        "Am I being naive in thinking that the cost of building 13 (or 20, or...) is only 13x the cost of building one in some kind of worst case scenario? Surely there are design reviews, tooling up, training the workforce, etc. that would be needed only once?"

        Some of the design stuff you'd only do once (almost - there's a lot of site-specific design for any large scale plant, no matter how nominally similar it is). But things like workforce training would effectively be new for every site - at around seven years (fastest) to construct, the posited national fleet would need to be built in parallel.

        And the components might as well be bespoke, due to the scale and complexity, so you'll not strike a huge discount for the steam turbines because they are already essentially an off the shelf design. The small economies of scale would get wiped out by the inevitable spec changes. Looking at what's happened to the costs at Flamanville and Oitlutookoyloiklotl (yeah, you spell it without looking it up?) and you'll see that the £16bn for two reactors is probably already hopelessly optimistic.

        I like nuclear as solution, but the costs are out of this world.

  13. RISC OS

    controllable?

    "scalable, controllable and potentially well able to keep the lights on for centuries or millennia."

    ... except if some natural disaster, human error, or computer error causes a melt down... I'd rather live in a hotter world than one where nothing can live becuase of too many melt downs from nuclear plants that happened to be located near, volcanos, tusnamis, had too many home simpsons working for them, or have computers running microsoft software.

    1. Gabor Laszlo
      Stop

      Re: controllable?

      Are you living on an island regularly hit by volcanoes, tsunamis, tornadoes and other cataclysms? Oh wait, that would be the Japanese. And despite executive stupidity and a massive natural disaster, the FAILSAFES (and believe me people designing NPPs are properly paranoid) kept casualties to nil and material damage manageable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: controllable?

        The word is still out on long-term Fukushima casualties.

        Material damage could have been worse, but it is definitely not "manageable". This is considering that about 800-900 square miles of Japan is now uninhabitable for at least a generation, and all the housing stock and infrastructure in that area is mouldering and might need to be torn down as part of decontamination anyway. Plus the waters off Fukushima and northeast Honshu are now irradiated to the point that local sea life is functionally inedible.

        1. Andydaws

          Re: controllable?

          "This is considering that about 800-900 square miles of Japan is now uninhabitable for at least a generation"

          800-900 square miles uninhabitable?

          you must be looking at different maps to me. Taking that as a semicircular area centred on the plant, that'd suggest a radius of getting on for 20 miles is "uninhabitable" - which is utter tripe.

          Taking the most recent report I can find (from March), the area that has more than the sorts of background radiation you see in Cornwall is a corridor about 2Km wide and about 10km in length running North-East from the plant. Or, about 1% of the area you suggest.....

          " Plus the waters off Fukushima and northeast Honshu are now irradiated to the point that local sea life is functionally inedible"

          so far as I know, the only sealife that's now over even EU thresholds is stuff like sandeels caught within the station harbour.

          "

          Even more tripe -

        2. Mad Mike

          Re: controllable?

          Wow, 8-900 square miles of the earths surface is uninhabitable!! That's a percentage so small, I can't be bothered to type all the leading zeros. The immediate waters around the area are also a problem, but the loss of food is tiny. This is also only the case because water is leaking from the land. Once this stops, the sea will revert back to normal very, very quickly. Dilution is very rapid in the oceans etc. So, the impact is really quite tiny. And this is one of how many accidents over how many years that have caused problems?

          Now, look at the wholesale destruction, deaths and effective poisoning of the land area caused by fossil fuel generation over the years and the many tens of millions who have died as a result. Start with those mining coal and dying of lung disease. Move onto the forests in various areas of the world (say Scandinavia) destroyed by acid rain. Anybody who thinks that even one of the worst nuclear accidents comes anywhere close to fossil fuel issues is completely ignorant of the facts.

          Fossil fuels kill gradually over time and therefore the deaths and damage are normally overlooked. Becomes part of 'normal' life. Whereas because nuclear accidents tend to happen quicker and be more obvious, they have a completely disproportionate media impact.

          Also, bear in mind that most nuclear accidents are caused by human error. Maybe design isn't great either in some cases. Chernobyl was caused by scientists messing around with the reactor. Fukishima was again made worse by poor decision making. For instance. The containment buildings were blown apart by hydrogen explosions because they didn't immediately vent it like they should. Vent a little slightly radioactive hydrogen into the atmosphere or loose the containment building? Should be a no brainer really.

        3. druck Silver badge

          Re: controllable?

          I think you'll find far more pollution in the sea and a larger land area is far more hazardous due to all the industrial waste distributed by the tsunami, and will take just a long to make safe.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: controllable?

      Except Generation IV reactors are built with fail-safety in mind. Many designs are containerized, meaning anything that goes wrong stays in the container and can be replaced (it also means a simpler concept of "changing out" reactors after specific duty cycles of a few decades).

    3. Ed Cooper

      Re: controllable?

      I'm not really sure how to respond to the concept of a sudden volcano erupting under Hinkley Point. Maybe we should also consider a direct hit from a meteor I mean that seems equally likely.

      Moving back into the realms of reality and not Armageddon. Suppose we did have a total failure of all the safety systems and became reliant on the inherent safety of that fact that it is essentially an awful lot of concrete then we'd end up with an incident considerably less severe than Fukushima or Chernobyl. Probably something similar to the Windscale clean up thats been going on for decades. In the scheme of decades of secure energy, not being dragged into conflicts and generally having a decent standard of living it's probably not a big deal.

      I'm up for the government switching the power off for two days over Christmas just to remind everyone that electricity is actually a necessity.

    4. PaulR79
      Boffin

      Re: controllable?

      I'm curious to know what it's like living in your cave where there isn't anyone to point out how wrong you are.

      There have been meltdowns at Chernobyl and Fukushima only, Three Mile Island was a partial metldown. Chernobyl was human error coupled with bad design, Three Mile Island was a mixture of human error and equipment failure and Fukushima was a rare natural disaster. Out of the three, as the article says, the only deaths have been recorded at Chernobyl.

      Lessons are learned through things like this. Would you have cancelled all plane flights after the first ever accident? One large plane crash kills more than all these major nuclear incidents have combined. Human error, mechanical faults and natural disasters affect planes too. That's even ignoring the fact that the reactors at Chernobyl, the worst incident, were a bad design and have not been used (the reactor design) long since.

      Don't let facts get in the way of your crazy trolling though!

    5. Gordon 11

      Re: controllable?

      I'd rather live in a hotter world than one where nothing can live becuase of too many melt downs from nuclear plants...

      Who said you'd be able to live in that "hotter world"? After all of the wars caused by lack of food/water as the climate changes, you may well be one of the majority who gets killed along the way.

    6. FutureShock999

      Re: controllable? - WELL ENOUGH

      @RISC OS - you are suffering from a perspective that only recognises what is flashy and disastrous over a short period of time...such as a nuclear accident.

      To date, nuclear accidents have regrettably killed probably 5000 to 6000 thousand people, including Chernobyl, Fukushima, TMI, and others. If the liquid sodium reactor near Detroit had actually gone critical (it came very close), many more would have been added to that list. If Indian Point had ever had a massive accident that it has always seemed close to...more yet again.

      But those thousands are NOTHING with how many people fossil fuels already kill. From their crude extraction, to the poisoning of the air and water with their use...the death toll from the current "status quo" energy sources are killing many, many thousands every year. The difference is that the deaths from fossil fuels are usually slow and lingering...it takes a massive calamity like Deepwater Horizon to really make the slow deaths from fossil fuels stand out. But Deepwater Horizon was, pardon the expression, a drop in the bucket.

      And if you think renewables will be a magic bullet, consider the likely death toll from a few "pumped storage" alpine valley dams failing over the years.

      The point is, there is NO energy source that is 99% risk and death free, except for hydro and thermo. But those just are not useful in very many places on the planet. It is OK to say that nuclear is dangerous if poorly engineered and/or poorly regulated (watch that "regulatory capture!"), but in comparison, so is everything else....

      1. druck Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: controllable? - WELL ENOUGH

        FutureShock999 wrote:

        To date, nuclear accidents have regrettably killed probably 5000 to 6000 thousand people, including Chernobyl, Fukushima, TMI, and others.

        What references do you have for figures 100x times greater than generally acknowledged? This mysterious others?

        If the liquid sodium reactor near Detroit had actually gone critical (it came very close), many more would have been added to that list. If Indian Point had ever had a massive accident that it has always seemed close to...more yet again.

        But none of that happened, did it.

    7. itzman
      Headmaster

      Re: controllable?

      one where nothing can live because of too many melt downs from nuclear plants that happened to be located near volcanoes, tsunamis, had too many Homer Simpsons working for them, or have computers running Microsoft software.

      That's all right then, because none of the above represents a realistic scenario at all.

      (PS: I corrected all the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in the quote to make it look like you actually were a literate person worth responding to...)

    8. druck Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: controllable?

      RISC OS Please don't tarnish the name of a greatly respected operating system with the posting of such tripe.

  14. Gabor Laszlo

    Finally

    Somebody with some cred states the fucking obvious.

    1. Michael 28
      Happy

      Re: Finally

      ok...here goes!

      What's the worst that can happen!!

  15. Tom 7 Silver badge

    How much money is seriously spent on renewable research?

    When compared with the cost of a nuclear power station I would suggest it was fuck all.

    My solar is coming with a HAND WIRED inverter where a simple embedded controller and monolithic converter modules would do the job for 1/5th the price* including the copper transformer. I've even looked at designing them myself - the entry routes into the silicon foundry are a bit on the steep side for me - when none of it can be protected with IP cos is all such old hat but it would knock a good 15% of the price of my installation.

    And mass production of small wind (~1kw) using pressed blades should reduce the cost to where it doesn't matter they are 5% less efficient than some shit 30 times the price.

    *and the modules would make good hifi power amps too!

    1. Not That Andrew

      Re: How much money is seriously spent on renewable research?

      No-one doubts there are economies such as you point out to be found in the renewables industry and that a little research would uncover more, but they still wouldn't make renewables more efficient than nuclear, at least in the medium term. But they should certainly be sought.

      1. mmeier

        Re: How much money is seriously spent on renewable research?

        RESEARCH is quite acceptable, mainly into long term energy storage since that is the major problem with the renewables. The long term planable ones Water/Geothermal/Methan from crap are in very limited supply in most nations (Fully build up they could in a NIMBY-free germany supply less than 20 percent of the 40GW base load) so the erractic and un-plannable Solar/Wind must fill in. And they can only do that econommically if we can store enough energy to compensate DAYS at full need.

        Paying for solar/wind generators OTOH is a waste of money. The energy is not useable if you want a stable and dependable energy network so their use is restricted to "island" mode (Supply your house). And I see no reason why the public should pay for an individuals ideology and desires.

        1. Acme Fixer

          Re: How much money is seriously spent on renewable research?

          Some of the solar generating facilities here in California use mirrors to concentrate the sunlight onto pipes that have oil heated and circulated to the generators. The heated oil can also heat a heat storage facility, which is then used to run the generators after daylight. Also, some of the generators can run on both solar and fuel such as natural gas, which allows the generators to run during the dark hours. This is nor rocket science, it's here today. There is also geothermal power, which can run 24/7.

          Solar photovoltaic panels can be added to existing buildings and put out peak power when the sun is brightest and hottest, and when the HVAC is working its hardest. This makes the peak demand on the generating and transmission system much lower, since it's synced with the peak demand.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: How much money is seriously spent on renewable research?

            That's good in California when the highest demand is in the summer. But what about up north where it's the reverse (highest demand is heating--at NIGHT--in the WINTER when the sun is weakest)? Also, the biggest solar-thermal system about to come online (if not already) is slated to power about 100,000 homes. California is America's most populous state. Last census counted about 12 MILLION homes. We're talking an order of magnitude difference between what's being produced and what is needed. And this is just the United States. Let's not start with India or China, which are are at least TWICE (China at least THRICE) as populous and with their own demands and legal hoops.

            Put it this way. Unless green tech can produce a YOTTAwatt of power in fifty years time, we're going to need something else. And nuclear is the only one of the rest of the lot that's at least carbon-neutral.

  16. PlacidCasual

    Nuclear gets my vote

    I think nuclear power should be the heart of our and the Worlds energy policy. Fossil fuels will run out sooner or later, no one is seriously suggesting they are being created by natural processes faster than we're using them are they? Fission in its many forms offers us a a good interim until we create fusion or wipe ourselves out. In the UK I'd like to see a 50% or 60% nuclear backed up with combined cycle gas for load management and a few large coal stations as strategic reserve (you can pile 6 months generating supply of coal next to a station, you can't do that with gas).

    1. furt1v3ly

      Re: Nuclear gets my vote

      You can't pile up that much coal near a plant. Google "Spontaneous Coal Fire" and "Coal Stockpile Fires". Even skipping over the fire isse, if you leave coal out long enough it oxidizes and weathers; bad stuff leaches out, nasty gasses are emitted, and the coal swells with water and becomes less efficient to burn. Plants in the US keep at most a few days available to lower their risk and keep their efficiency up.

      1. PlacidCasual

        Re: Nuclear gets my vote

        My eyes must have decieved me when I looked out my office window a few years ago and saw 750,000 tonnes of coal. Now that is only 3 months worth of coal at normal operating levels for a 2000MW station but the photos I've seen of stations during the miners strike show approximately 2 million tonnes of coal next to them.

        I can make no comment for plants in the US but UK plants also work on a delivery straight to bunker basis but also often keep 100,000's of tonnes on site as a hedge against price fluctuations. Places like Bristol Port also store inordinately large volumes of coal.

      2. druck Silver badge

        Re: Nuclear gets my vote

        We managed to stockpile almost a year's supply of coal before the 1984 miners strike.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Nuclear gets my vote

          Then as the saying goes, they're playing with fire, though it depends on the composition of the coal. Thing is, coal can naturally emit hydrogen gas as well as methane and propane. All three of these can combust under the wrong conditions, causing the coal pile to ignite. Indeed, this has occasionally happened in the coal MINES (they're the primary components of firedamp--it and coal dust are the two main agents in coal mine explosions).

  17. Mike Street

    Not the only ones

    To his credit, George Monbiot has also been advocating nuclear. So at least there is one thing I can agree with him on, though little else.

    Greenpeace, by contrast, is even against research into nuclear fusion. I assume they will be taking ship to the Sun to complain about its dirty energy production, polluting the solar system - and then wonder why their solar panels don't work after it stops as requested.

    And they wonder why we are not behind them and their Arctic Numpties.

  18. big_D Silver badge

    Gorleben

    I'll organize a vacation for these guys to explore the catacombs at Gorleben for a week, without hazmat suits, then we can talk...

    1. mmeier

      Re: Gorleben

      Ah, ein Birkenstockler - grüße von Dieter Nuhr

      German greenies and facts are like fish and bicycles. As for exploring the salt mine at Gorleben - sure even a month. The salt would be bad for my boots but otherwise there is no problem. Maybe due to the simple fact that there is no atomic waste in the Gorleben mine

    2. Not That Andrew

      Re: Gorleben

      As far as I can tell, The catacombs under Gorleben are perfectly safe, as the long term storage facility in the salt dome is still being delayed by the Greens. What little nuclearwaste is at the site is in the short term storage facilities above ground. I would be worried about that, if I were you.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Gorleben

        And the leaked radioactive material from 2005? The containers that were giving off 5 times the allowed radiation upon delivery? The flooding that caused Asse II to be closed and material moved? The use of uncertified and unsafe containers?

        The problem is nuclear power itself, but the unwillingness to store the waste properly, because it is too expensive. Nuclear energy is cheap and efficient to use, but you have to store the waste for decades, if not centuries. The cost calculations to do that properly are not there, because the companies involved look to the next quarter and not 50 or 100 years into the future, that is an SEP.

        1. Not That Andrew

          Re: Gorleben

          Maybe that's got something to do with Greens and NIMBY's throwing a fit wherever a long term storage site is proposed and blocking it?

  19. Lyle Dietz

    I am sceptical about anthropogenic climate change, but having them talk about moving to more nuclear power makes me happy.

    I may not agree that humans are causing climate change, but as a country boy at heart, I like clean air.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately

    We (the UK) lost yet another technology lead because we've been battered into submission by decades of enviro-loon propaganda.

    So now that we've finally decided to build some nuclear reactors as a matter of some urgency, it's likely that much of the tech (and a fair bit of the finance) will have to come from overseas.

    It's a shame. We could have been building these for everyone else.

  21. itzman

    More information on nuclear...

    ...featuring those rare things: facts, logic, reason and sums...

    ..here

    http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/

  22. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Need to figure out what we are going to do with the waste.

    Nobody wants to take high-level radioactive waste, which includes decommissioned plant parts and equipment. Yucca Mountain in Nevada is pretty much the best possible location that could be realistically found for such waste. It's geologically stable, has little to know rain or groundwater, and is located away from any population centers. However, the citizens of Nevada want no part in having high-level waste stored there.

    I figure that because of meteorological and geographical reasons the situation has to be even worse for Europe and Asia.

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Need to figure out what we are going to do with the waste.

      Radioactive waste disposal is not an issue of reality, but one of scaremongering propaganda. Many people don't understand there is such a thing as background radiation and that they are actually exposed to radiation every day. Start telling them that there is Uranium in water and they'll look at you as if you're mad. It's simple ignorance and it's really easy for loons to use a bit of propaganda to make these people do anything they like. If the loony greens (not all greens, but some) would start dealing in facts rather than the rubbish they spout, this would all go away.

      The exact reverse also happens. People working in WW1 munitions factories often turned yellow. This was actually them being poisoned, but because nobody said anything about it and the official line was "it's OK", they simply carried on. The massive health issues and deaths were just another casualty of the war.

  23. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    Only viable if you get rid of the "Hard greenies."

    I find a scraper works pretty well for this.

  24. John Savard Silver badge

    Best News in Ages

    When I saw this news story, my reaction was immediate: this is the best news we've had in some time. If the only alternative to letting global warming happen is massive economic sacrifices, people will just deny global warming - it's human nature. This is a positive alternative instead, that lets us have more abundant energy and yet solve the global warming problem.

    1. btrower

      Re: Best News in Ages

      I am with John on this one.

      Nuclear is the obvious answer and we will be using it anyway, let's just get on with it.

      I am in Canada, so there is no excuse for not getting busy with this. I confess that if I was in the U.K. I might not be as enthusiastic.

      Abundant energy solves a variety of fundamental problems immediately with even greater promise going forward.

      The notion of Carbon Taxation is absurd. However, with abundant energy we could just fire up massive carbon capture until the alarmists are satisfied. Cheap carbon capture would eliminate the need for 'carbon taxes' and once there is no hope of a 'carbon tax' revenue stream you can bet that much of the enthusiasm for vilifying CO2 will disappear.

      This is something where sensible people can find common cause. To appease the people concerned about issues with Nuclear Power, just treat them with respect and involve them in the process. Once they learn more about it, most will come around. There are always going to be some people in opposition to nearly every idea. We just need a substantial majority to move ahead with a clear conscience.

      Beyond an immediate solution, once we are finally able to get comfortably out into space we can likely find a way to put up massive solar collectors and/or mine methane from places where it is abundant. For that matter, we could sequester nuclear power generation to places like Mars.

      Funding energy development that is better than break-even in terms of costs should ultimately not be a problem. Its initial proceeds can pay back its initial capital and thereafter fund the development of more.

      I looked into Thorium reactors at one point and although it is not a 'slam-dunk' it looks entirely doable.

      Long term, I expect fusion reactors to take over. There is research currently underway that looks very promising. We know for a fact we can generate more energy out than energy in. The whole of our problem remains finding a way to control the output. It will be found.

      1. mmeier

        Re: Best News in Ages

        Thorium reactors aka "The big green nightmare" where actually developed to the point where germany build a test reactor (THTR) at Hamm. Killed when the Grennies made a minor technical problem sound like a mix between Hiroshima and Tschernobyl and a SocialDemocrat Prime Minister needed Green party votes to remain on the job. Sadly because the mechanical problems could have been overcome (that is what a test unit is for)

  25. cicero_muc

    Nuclear energy is expensive

    The cost of developing nuclear energy is heavily subsidized by the tax payer.

    The cost of developing renewable energy is directly billed to the consumer.

    No fair play. Big utilities want to stay big, want to kill and suppress competition.

    It's mere business, you know. That's the way it goes.

    So the costs for nuclear energy is hidden, the costs for renewables or open and obvious.

    Whatever you do, there will be costs for developing an energy, one way or the other.

    We need nuclear energy as we need renewable energies.

    What we should avoid as much as possible is burning oil, coal, gas.

    It's not nuclear vs. renewable,

    it's nuclear & renewables vs. burning oil, coal, gas.

    Nuclear energy is far away from being perfect or even being a good solution.

    There still needs to be an awful lot done to make nuclear a better and safer source of energy.

    Chernobyl no problem, 56 dead people? You gotta be kidding.

    On the i5 next to LA right on the coast, there is a nuclear power plan that has been shut down by the government.

    How come?

    Nuclear energy still has to be developed quite a bit.

    There are new concepts like the TWR and others but they are far away.

    Fusion energy could be a great source of energy, once it does work.

    There are new scientific findings

    that may help plasma physics finding ways

    to control the fusion process much better and make sure the fusion process does not break down*.

    Maybe fusion one day is a great solution.

    Fission still is an unsolved problem.

    Creating energy always had been associated with risk - always. Unfortunately.

    No risk - no energy. So nuclear is an option, definitely.

    We gotta handle the risks. Acknowledge the risks and handle them.

    It's not either or. It's about the mix.

    We need to reduce the share of oil, coal, gas in that mix.

    That's what it is all about.

    The real problem is that oil is huge business. It's not big, it's huge.

    And it is centralized. There is a huge power & clout structure in (big) oil.

    That's what keeps as back.

    So let's develop nuclear (fission and fusion) and renewable.

    Push back oil.

    *http://prl.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v111/i15/e150404

    1. druck Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Nuclear energy is expensive

      cicero_muc sorry, I'm going to down vote you just for the hard to read double line spacing.

    2. Mad Mike

      Re: Nuclear energy is expensive

      "Chernobyl no problem, 56 dead people? You gotta be kidding."

      On the scale of deaths caused by just about anything, it doesn't even register!! Deaths are never "no problem", but 56 is many, many orders of magnitude less than caused by most things. Government policy changes to energy have caused many thousands more than this by old people freezing to death during the winter. Wind power has caused more deaths than this during construction!! Etc. etc.

      If you actually look at the number of deaths caused by nuclear power, you begin to realise it's actually one of the safest things human beings do!!

      1. Austhinker

        Re: Nuclear energy is expensive - 56 dead people?

        56 is the number of "scientifically verifiable deaths" - i.e. those that are individually indisputably caused by the event in question. 10,000 deaths each with a 50% chance of having been caused by the event would equate to zero "scientifically verifiable deaths".

        Be careful of qualified numbers.

      2. testy1

        Re: Nuclear energy is expensive

        So you want to include deaths of those even remotely related to wind power - i.e., construction - and compare to only 56 from a single incident at one nuclear power plant? What about uranium mining, production, storage, shipping, fueling, refueling, storage, decommissioning, etc., etc.

        Let's be honest with your statistics. "One of the safest things human beings do"? Not hardly.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Nuclear energy is expensive

          Since only a few kilos are needed for your average nuclear reactor, compared to TONS for coal you're talking a reduction of mining, refining, etc. on the level of an order of magnitude. And that's Uranium. Thorium's ALREADY mined due its proximity to rare earths (which BTW are mined for the wind turbines). Just need to fit in an additional step to get the Thorium out and work from there. And let's not begin with the petroleum industry which has had accidents and disasters of a whole different sort.

          So, even WITH all the steps involved, is it one of the safest things human beings do? Given the alternatives, I can think of worse.

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Nuclear energy is expensive

      Chernobyl no problem, 56 dead people? You gotta be kidding.

      Ask the people of Buffalo Creek, West Virginia and Stava, Italy. Two towns who lost well over 56 people each due to tailings dam failures. Tailings dams are a pretty-much-standard feature of coal mines.

      "On the i5 next to LA right on the coast, there is a nuclear power plan that has been shut down by the government.

      How come?"

      You must be referring to the San Onofre Plant, which was shut down due to shoddy maintenance (a human factor). Thankfully, the American standards on inspections and so on are pretty tight. They CAUGHT the shoddy maintenance before serious problems emerged (also, the initial shutdown came as per protocol after a leak was detected--as per design). Nuclear is risky, yes, but good oversight is helping to MITIGATE the risk. We can further mitigate the risk by using better reactor designs that take such risks into consideration.

      "Nuclear energy still has to be developed quite a bit."

      So do wind and solar. Neither are ready for prime time. At least with nuclear, we have deployable designs that CAN fulfil current and near-future energy needs.

      "There are new concepts like the TWR and others but they are far away."

      Only due to regulatory foot-dragging. What's needed is political pressure to let the new designs go ahead.

      "Fusion energy could be a great source of energy, once it does work. There are new scientific findings that may help plasma physics finding ways to control the fusion process much better and make sure the fusion process does not break down*. Maybe fusion one day is a great solution. Fission still is an unsolved problem."

      It's more solved than fusion. We have viable reactors already in active use and plenty of new designs in the works. That's a whole lot more developed than ITER, and even if that works out (it's only .5GWT, your average fission plant runs several GWT), it'll be plenty of years before they're rolled out commercially. We need an answer RIGHT BLANKING NOW. And the answer needs to keep us going for about a half-century or so (and according to estimates, global electricity usage in 50 years will approach a YOTTAwatt). Got any other immediate options besides fission reactors?

      1. Acme Fixer

        "Got any other immediate options besides fission reactors?"

        Yes, try to get the total global use of electricity cut dramatically. I'm a Merkin, but the other countries blame us for using so much more power per capita than other countries. If more power is generated locally by solar energy, it will reduce the demand on the grid. And with more geothermal power the demand on the grid should also be reduced. If superconducting materials are used for long distance transmission, it may be possible to make a large enough grid to get power from the sunny side of the earth to the dark side. That should also help. Recycling more aluminum instead of using so much electricity to process ore will also reduce the demand. It's these incremental things that are going to have to help, and nuclear power is just another one of them.

        I remember when an average TV used to use 350 watts of power; now they use more like 35 watts up to maybe a hundred. That's a big savings considering all the TVs that are running. Replacing equipment with newer, less power hungry versions will also help. One example is LED lighting. This benefits the user because the electric bill is less. If it requires that the turkey contractors are not allowed to install the older less efficient equipment (washers, dryers, and especially dishwashers) then get the laws passed to make it happen. Someday perhaps there will be no grid. Instead the homeowner will have a fuel cell that runs off fnatural gas and, along with solar, supplies all of their electricity needs.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: "Got any other immediate options besides fission reactors?"

          But most of the energy in the world is used by INDUSTRY, not residential or commercial interests. Take aluminium smelting. Electricity (and lots of it) is the only practical way to separate it from alumina, and demand for the stuff is rising due to its light weight (making it the best material for long-distance power lines, among other things). Then you take into consideration things like arc welders and so on that are basically driven by electricity. They're not going to to away anytime soon, and due to how they use the electricity, odds are you won't be able to make them any more efficient than they are now.

          But back to people. China and India are rising nations, each with over a BILLION people. Even with high-efficiency appliances, sheer weight of numbers will add up.

  26. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Oil is not equal to Electricity

    This article states that oil is being used to generate electricity which is misinformation that too many journalists keep propagating. There are only a tiny number of areas that use petroleum products (fuel oil, diesel) to generate electricity and these are in places like the Aleutian islands where populations are so tiny and dispersed that a larger installation using coal or natural gas can't be economically justified. The first world relies heavily on coal and natural gas. Hydro power generates a small proportion and is maxed out around the world. Smaller dams in many places are being removed as the power they generate is not sufficient to cover expenses and there are groups wishing to restore natural habitats (and live in trees I hope).

    Geo-thermal, wind, solar and other renewables can be viable power sources, but maybe just not in the way that most people think. Being intermittent, wind and solar are hard for system operators to integrate into a grid that is designed for steady inputs so using them as power grid inputs may not be how they are best deployed.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Not That Andrew

      Re: Oil is not equal to Electricity

      Actually, the UK has a fairly large number of gas turbine power plants and is building more.

  27. Nym

    Warming of rivers used for coolant by reactors

    Approx 3 degrees Fahrenheit per reactor.

    1. hplasm
      Meh

      Re: Warming of rivers used for coolant by reactors

      And how much for other generating plant- as opposed to windmills etc?

    2. mmeier

      Re: Warming of rivers used for coolant by reactors

      Animals love it. The point where the coolant water of the local (coal fired) plant is pumped back into the channel stays free of ice even in the hardest winter. And all non-migratory animals show up there. Standing on the ice 100m down the channel with binoculars was great.

      1. testy1

        Re: Warming of rivers used for coolant by reactors

        "non-migratory animals show up there" eating the dead fish.

        1. mmeier

          Re: Warming of rivers used for coolant by reactors

          Nope. The Channel has a winter Temperature slightly above freezing. On a summer day any part of the 300+km Channel reaches 20+ degrees. No dead fish. But keep on spreading greenie nonsense, l love a good laugh

  28. Chozo
    Mushroom

    Atomic Spin

    Looking forward to see how the high priests of climate change persuade their followers to embrace the atom.

  29. williamws3
    Alert

    Mistake to use nuclear power

    It would be a mistake to try to base the world's future economies on nuclear power. All nuclear reactors produce plutonium and this raises the temptation to build nuclear weapons. In a widespread nuclear economy governments and smaller groups would have access to plutonium and nuclear weapons would proliferate. Not a good scenario for national security for anyone, let alone the supepower/supertargets USA Russia China etc etc. A nuclear powered future can only lead to terrible destruction and widespread misery. The solar and conservation technologies may seem costly but with them we humans have a chance to enter a thousand-year Golden Solar Age of peace and prosperity.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Mistake to use nuclear power

      So you're saying a Thorium reactor produces plutonium?

      Anyway, while most uranium reactors do produce plutonium as a byproduct, most of it is too contaminated to be of use. The plutonium in weapons comes from purpose-built "breeder" reactors.

      1. Austhinker

        Re: Mistake to use nuclear power

        Being chemically distinct from uranium and other fission byproducts, even contaminated plutonium has more potential for being made "weapons grade" than uranium does. Just because "breeder" reactors are a better plutonium source doesn't make plutonium from other reactors useless for weapons.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Mistake to use nuclear power

          "Being chemically distinct from uranium and other fission byproducts, even contaminated plutonium has more potential for being made "weapons grade" than uranium does. Just because "breeder" reactors are a better plutonium source doesn't make plutonium from other reactors useless for weapons."

          But a point of diminishing returns kicks in due to the costs involved getting the plutonium out of the toxic waste. Otherwise, Thorium wouldn't be considered safe, either, as one of ITS byproducts is Uranium-233, which CAN be weaponized.

    2. Austhinker

      Re: Mistake to use nuclear power

      The problem's not nuclear weapons - at present just about any government can already get their hands on nuclear reactors, so the prospect of nuclear weapons won't really increase.

      The real danger is that in commercial nuclear plants safety comes second to profit. Fukushima wouldn't have been a disaster if safety upgrade recommendations had been followed.

      Thorium plants seem like a much safer option, however there seem to be vested interests or other political issues preventing it getting a fair hearing. I'd have to refresh my memory on the process before I decided whether to support thorium reactors though.

  30. Austhinker

    Let's include the insurance cost!

    If Nuclear Power companies had to fully insure privately against liability for any nuclear accidents or disasters from their power plants and spent fuel, the cost equation would be quite different.

    As I understand it, at present the only reason Commercial Nuclear Power Plants are possible is because government underwrite their liability.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Let's include the insurance cost!

      First, last I checked, most nuclear plants ARE insured. Second, since NO private company is willing to underwrite said insurance, government had to step in. It's easy enough to say you need private insurance, but what happens when none are to be found...at any price?

  31. John Kenny 1

    There's a reason nuclear power related deaths have been negligible

    For your info I commend to you: “Radiation and Reason - The Impact of Science on a Culture of Fear" by Wade Allison.

    I

  32. testy1

    First, one must make the broad assumption that humans are causing global warming.

    "Global Warming high priests"

    Who made them GOD?

    Big JUMP there. Big Jump.

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