back to article 2050 carbon emission goals need nuclear to succeed, says International Energy Agency

There's more than one path to net zero emissions by 2050, but the only practical one runs straight through nuclear power, according to the International Energy Agency. In a report [PDF] released yesterday, the IEA said worldwide nuclear power output, currently at 413GW, would need to double to 812GW by 2050 to meet carbon …

  1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Sounds about right.

    There's a long way to go before 100% renewables is a practical proposition, with most explanations of how it will happen "soon" relying on a combination of fairy dust and unicorn poo. "Handwaving" away questions like "and what about when the wind isn't blowing and the sun's gone down" by just saying "batteries" is, with current levels of technology (and overall renewables supply), much the same as relying on fairy dust or unicorn poo. Perhaps in a decade ... or two ... or three ... And while we're waiting for that, we've a triple-whammy of existing reactors going offline when they run out of practical life, possibly long term supply issues after the turmoil in Ukraine, and at some point, a significant increase in demand as we are forced to switch to EVs and heat pumps.

    Nuclear won't be "cheap" (but on the other hand, it doesn't have to be as expensive as it is) - but it can surely be cheaper than some of the alternatives ?

    1. nintendoeats Silver badge

      I totally agree. In particular about the batteries, as far as I know we don't really have "environmentally friendly" battery tech at such a stage that we can deploy it at the kinds of scale that we need. IMO, if public opinion didn't waffle around nuclear power so much, we would currently be in a notably better position as far as carbon emissions (no the planet would not be irradiated, and no we would not be up to our ears in nuclear waste).

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        The good news is that there has been a ton of promising research into batteries that are both cheaper and more environmentally friendly, so I think within a decade we are very likely to have some good alternatives for long lived and recyclable utility scale batteries that can store renewable power for weeks (to account for extended periods of clouds or little wind) or even months (to "season shift")

        If nuclear power was going to make a comeback, I think it already would have. It is too late for it now, because by the time you get new designs approved, push through all the attempts by anti-nuclear crusaders to throw sand in the gears, and finally start deploying them en masse, utilities would have to be worried that renewable power will have undercut the price and those who invested big in nuclear will look foolish.

        1. ian 22

          If there are objections or doubts about electrochemical batteries, consider other fairly easily implemented energy storage technologies such as moving masses up and down the gravity well. These are proven and reliable, and more so than atomic reactors.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I agree, but I do find the part where I have to push my car back uphill challenging.

            :)

            1. ian 22

              Mr. Reactor powering your car will take care of that.

              1. alisonken1
                Coat

                Mr. ReactorFusion powering your car will take care of that.

                FTFY

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "easily implemented energy storage technologies such as moving masses up and down the gravity well."

            There's probably a limited supply of gravity wells. Pumped storage, for instance, requires two suitable spaces for water where water is in sufficient supply. Mine shafts are ralatively small even if they are more numerous, provided they haven't been filled in.

            "These are proven and reliable, and more so than atomic reactors."

            More so? I doubt it.

            1. ian 22

              Doubt is good, knowledge is better:

              https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20220630-the-mountain-that-helps-power-britain

          3. jmch Silver badge

            Essentially pumped storage, which is great, but it requires giant areas to be turned into artificial lakes.

            eg Dinorwig capacity = 9.1GWh

            If my calcs are correct, UK daily consumption is about 84,000GWh. To store just half a day's worth of electricity for half the UK demand (21,000 GWh) would require the equivalent of 2300X Dinorwig. The scale of flooding of pristine environmental areas required to even start making up the numbers is enormous.

            Nuclear is a no-brainer to anyone who has been paying a bit of attention and can use Google and a calculator.

        2. 9Rune5
          Mushroom

          There are quite a few battery parks in operation at this point.

          They cannot power many homes for hours, yet they require a lot of space. On a windstill night you have power for a little while and then nothing...

          Even if you manage to double their efficiency, it is still not very impressive.

          I think their purpose is to demonstrate once and for all just how expensive wind+solar really is. When you combine that with the question of "do you want to buy your natural gas from a Russian dictator?" there isn't any realistic alternative to nuclear power.

          If I worked for FSB, I would fund every nut and cook in the west and persuade people that nuclear is bad. Most bang for the buck. I would be surprised if FSB didn't realize the same thing decades ago.

          1. adam 40 Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Who do you think funded CND in the 1960's?

      2. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge

        Pumped Hydro

        Perhaps if people stopped thinking of "batteries" in terms of Li-Ion or similar and looked at what we currently have that works.

        Pumped hydro is a grid scale "battery". It's key problems is that it needs to be situated in a suitable location and the cost. I suppose you could dig the lakes at each end out so it could store more energy, but I don't think it would be entirely practical to grow the storage in that way.

    2. Snowy Silver badge
      Holmes

      Base load

      Use it as base load with all the renewables being used to make clean Hydrogen or other fuels.

      Once you have so much renewables and a way to store it to cover when the renewables are not generating then you can reduce the amount of base load provided by nuclear.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There's also the tiny annoying fact that we've known for several decades that a better and safe approach nuclear fission existed, but it required a government level of investment to get there and the only viable results of that have only gone live last year - in China.

      LFTRs can not only replace the existing model of "built a few large ones and run lots of cable", they also fit in the SMR idea of "let's build some where we actually need them" for, for instance, an aluminium smelter.

      Even better, their base operating temperature also lies very close to what you need for the most efficient way to produce hydrogen, which can help that alternative along too because we don't just need better, sustainable ways to produce energy, we also need to improve the ways we transport it. E-fuels have a much higher energy density than batteries and are easy to transport (also because we already have that infrastructure in place) but CO2 capture is not yet capable to produce the volume required for it, and hydrogen is for the moment at least already having some industrial acceptance as a more eco friendly energy source.

      There's lots of good stuff on the horizon. I personally only see electric as an interim step so I'm concerned about mandates of 'we all must go electric by year X' as that flat out ignores the byproducts of a ramped up need for stuff that is such a fire hazard when it goes wrong that discussions exist about banning electric vehicles and charge facilities from underground car parks.

      Not to mention the very sharp rise in the costs of raw materials..

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Hydrogen is also inflammable, potentially explosively so, and what's more, it doesn't stay put. A hydrogen leak in an underground car park doesn't bear thinking about.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Oh, I agree. That remends me, I have been wondering what sort of risk assessment they have made about electric cars at Eurotunnel. The probability of a fire there is increasing IMHO.

          I see hydrogen (in gaseous form*) not as a domestic solution, but what JCB is already doing on an industrial front is pioneering work IMHO.

          * caveat is because there are apparently other developments underway regarding hydrogen storage

          1. Lars Silver badge
            WTF?

            "electric cars at Eurotunnel. ".

            Should I assume you believe cars are driven through the Eurotunnel and then for some reason a battery driven car is more flammable than a gasoline driven car.

            For your information they all take a ride on a train.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              >For your information they all take a ride on a train.

              Expect eCar owners and the Express (UK tabloid) to complain about the absence of fast charge charging points on LeShuttle...

              1. Lars Silver badge
                WTF?

                @Roland6

                You are rather mixed up, there is no road for any type of customers cars to travel through the tunnel. Yes there are service and escape "tunnels" but no traffic for anu e-this or that.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Given the voltage these trains operate on it would VERY fast charging indeed :).

                That said, I'm now wondering what is the most combustion risky period in an EVs lifecycle, charging or driving it. Could be interesting to know - there is a reason why part of the discussions I know of are about banning EV charge points in garages (so not EVs themselves).

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              No, you don't need to assume that, I frequently use it. Also, it may be worth knowing that if you have a vehicle with LPG (i.e. gas) it is already NOT allowed on that train, so it's not like banning certain risk categories is a new idea for them.

              The issue is what you can do once it lights up. A non-electric fire that you can get with an ICE can be put out by denying it oxygen, that's the whole idea behind fire extinguishers.

              However, a lithium fire can only be tamed by lowering the temperature (and even then it can re-ignite) and I don't see Eurotunnel being able to do that while on the move. Yes, thay have quite a lot of water available if they want to, but the whole idea of that tunnel was to leave the ocean where it is.

              I suspect the first EV to light up en route is likely to cause a ban.

              1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                As has been pointed out before, the amount of lithium in a lithium ion battery is small, and in a form which does not in itself burn. It's certainly not in the form of metallic lithium.

                Some of the electrolytes do (BigClive used to enjoy pulling apart batteries in his YouTube videos, some of which went up in flames spontaneously), but the biggest danger in battery fires is the energy stored in the battery. It makes attempting to put it out with water difficult and dangerous, and can cause the water to electrolyse, liberating hydrogen and oxygen which then will then recombine (burn) without any external air.

                On top of this, under certain circumstances, it can actually be a shock risk to the people attempting to put the fire out.

                The current ways of extinguishing a large battery fires appears to be drown or bury it, or if you can't do either of those, cordon it off and let it burn out.

                With tanked LPG or hydrogen, you may get a bit of a kaboom, but it will be over very quickly once it has dissipated (probably far more quickly than a petrol fire). And there are contained hydrogen storage methods and ways of using it to generate power without setting light to it (think fuel cells).

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Its looking like nuclear is far far more expensive than we're told. Waste management. Its going to cost £53 billion for the first 150 years (of thousands) to look after our current nuclear waste,

      Any expansion in fission is getting like fusion these days - 10 to 20 years away, Hinckley C now wont start before Dec 2027 and is going to cost at least £25 billion - new reactors are going to cost a lot more. IF (a big IF) PMRs can be made to work then it looks like they will produce 25 times as much waste for the same power as a larger one!

      The Xlink project - PV/Wind and battery backyup and 3800 km of cable to Devon is going to be producing reliable power for <2/3rds the building cost of Hinckley C and far far reduced running cost and no massive bill to the tax payer for decommissioning and thousands of years of storage.

      UK PV farms payback time will be down to 5 years with the price rise in Oct. And if perovskite looks to reduce the cost even further.

      Wind and solar and tidal will be producing electricity far more cheaply than Nuclear but the consumer will be forced to pay for the Nuclear power even if it is not needed. Its not so much as a reliable source of power as a reliable drain on the resources that should make it completely unnecessary.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        What you call "nuclear" is currently Pressure Water Reactors.

        The only reason this technology is employed is because, at the end of WWII, the governments wanted plutonium to make bombs.

        There are other types of "nuclear", notably Thorium reactors. They leave an almost insignificant amount of radioactive waste (compared to PWR) and, more to the point, the security is passive.

        With a PWR reactor, you need active surveillance, an experienced team 24/7, and maintenance costs are through the roof.

        With a Thorium reactor, you can have one engineer on standby with a pager. If anything goes wrong, the salt plug at the bottom of the reactor basic melts and the entire radioactive basin is emptied into cooldown basins - the reaction stops. No risk of hydrogen buildup or explosions of any kind. All you need to do is wait until you can put everything back together again, with another salt plug.

        The thing is, Thorium reactors do not generate plutonium. I couldn't care less. We have enough bombs, we don't need more.

        We want to transition 100% of the current vehicle parc into electric vehicles. Solar and wind will not suffice.

        Thorium is the future - at least until we have a reliable fusion reactor.

        Look it up.

        Nuclear does not come in only one flavor.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Thorium is (in theory) the way to go. So far there are only experimental reactors, I believe only China is working on actually building a commercial prototype (and it's tiny - 2MW). But EU should really be heavily promoting investment in this. The reality is that even with heavy funding, the design, planning and construction in EU could take 20 years to come online.

          And we really need to start now.

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        The Xlink project - PV/Wind and battery backyup and 3800 km of cable to Devon is going to be producing reliable power for <2/3rds the building cost of Hinckley C and far far reduced running cost and no massive bill to the tax payer for decommissioning and thousands of years of storage.

        Also comes with a free bridge and breeding pair of unicorns!

        But such is politics. The UK's allegedly looking at ways to increase UK energy security, reliability and reduce costs. So obviously the perfect solution is to build 10GW of capacity in a somewhat unstable country 3,800km away. 10GW of UK Power then depends on-

        The 3.6 GW interconnector is planned to consist of two independent 1.8 GW circuits, each with separate positive and negative cables

        Which to 'save money' will be run shallow around Africa and Europe's coast. Which won't at all increase the risk of those cables being damaged by fishing, or boats dragging anchors. Or deliberately damaging the cables.

        Alternatively, just build 3x1GW reactors in the UK and have everything(ish) under UK control.

        UK PV farms payback time will be down to 5 years with the price rise in Oct. And if perovskite looks to reduce the cost even further.

        Ermm.. what price rise in October? Also you seem to be saying that if we increase the subisidies to 'renewables', payback will be only 5yrs, and that'll mean maybe 20yrs of profit for the 'renewables' scammers. You might start to see why they're so keen to keep cash flowing their direction, and not towards more reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly nuclear.

        Wind and solar and tidal will be producing electricity far more cheaply than Nuclear but the consumer will be forced to pay for the Nuclear power even if it is not needed.

        Oh. Right. This sounds familiar. So the government should just keep forcing the consumer to 'invest' in 'renewables', because they'll produce energy 'far more cheaply'. Meanwhile, back in the real-world, as we've 'iinvested' in 'renewables', our energy costs have only increased. Again that's just inevitable as part of the regulatory capture.

        But some day, this may change. As the 'renewables' lobby has spent years telling us they're cheap, it seems like it's time to remove all subsidies from them. Better yet, as the public is forced to 'invest' in this crap, government could make this more akin to a normal investment and offer the public a positive ROI. Kinda what most people expect from an investment. The government's kinda made moves in that direction with CfDs, but snag is money goes to government, not consumers, and profits still go to shareholders.

        It's been a great example of the old adage that you socialise costs and privatise profits.

        1. pluraquanta

          "Meanwhile, back in the real-world, as we've 'iinvested' in 'renewables', our energy costs have only increased"

          France gets 70% of its power from Nuclear plants, yet their energy prices are about the same as the UKs. What they don't have is fossil fuel plants to any meaningful degree. The UK still gets about half its power from natural gas. Don't think we can lay the blame on renewables for the price hikes.

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Coat

            @pluraquanta

            It's not as much as 70% but the highest in the EU still, enabling them to export electricity, and they will have a new plant in about two years too.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Problem for France is their nuclear fleet is rather old, and a number of reactors have been shut down for maintenance and inspection. So we end up with situations like this-

              https://gridwatch.co.uk/int

              where we're selling electricity to France. Which is a bit of a problem because France's neighbors had previously relied on French exports when the wind wasn't blowing. EDF is of course fortunate in being able to subsidise it's French customers because it owns a lot of assets in the UK. Much like the way 'Scottish' power customers subsidise Spain via Iberdrola.

              But there's some good news. Because Russia, the EU now has to find alternative sources of gas to support it's 'renewables' generation. So it's been busy giving money to US gas exporters instead, which has created some FUN for US customers. Snag is it relies on LNG, and the EU doesn't have much LNG import capacity. Luckily the UK does, so we've been busily profiting from selling gas to the EU.

              Of course when I say 'we', I mean mostly 'British' Gas, which the public used to own but now doesn't. And they probably could have made even more money if they'd invested in gas storage, rather than flogging off brown-field sites for profitable housing developments. And the UK could make even more money, if only it ignored the lunatic Greens and exploited more of our own coal & gas resources.

              So it's been a couple of decades of abject energy & economic policy failure, and if we continue to follow the insance 'Net Zero' policies, the situation is only going to get much, much worse.

          2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Don't think we can lay the blame on renewables for the price hikes.

            Seems pretty obvious to me. Since we've been forced to 'invest' in 'renewables', our electricity costs have rocketed. And this was happening long before any Russian impact. Other than perhaps Russia's lobbying for anti-fraccing campaigning in the UK. Greens really are useful idiots.

            But the logic is pretty simple. The 'renewables' lobby claims their electricity is the cheapest and greenest. If so, as we've added 'renewables' to supply, we should be seeing the benefits. So prices should be falling. The opposite has occured. There's also another curiosity. Despite 'renewable' generation being energy and resource intenstive, somehow, it's also immune to inflation. Input costs are rising (including of course cost of capital via rising interest rates), yet we're supposed to believe that output costs are falling. Plus the Met Office and 'renewable' generators have also pointed out a decline in average wind speeds.

            That's just Greens for you. Climate change will alter weather patterns, so we absolutely must 'invest' £2-3tn in systems that are most at the mercy of weather.

            But have a read of this-

            https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2019/01/Capell-Aris-UK-Electricity-System-1.pdf

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              >Seems pretty obvious to me. Since we've been forced to 'invest' in 'renewables', our electricity costs have rocketed.

              Yes, we have been subsidising renewables through our energy bills - take this into account and the cost of renewable electricity is higher than the strike price the UK government agreed to for Hinkley Point C.

              >The 'renewables' lobby claims their electricity is the cheapest and greenest. If so, as we've added 'renewables' to supply, we should be seeing the benefits. So prices should be falling. The opposite has occurred.

              Well...

              As was recently revealed, the UK Government and regulator linked our electric price to the gas price, so the price of gas goes up and the price of electricity follows...

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Yes, we have been subsidising renewables through our energy bills - take this into account and the cost of renewable electricity is higher than the strike price the UK government agreed to for Hinkley Point C

                Yup. But the Brown Bros. negotiated a deal that was great for EDF, at a time when EDF was rather struggling. The deal also used FOAK costs, despite the reactors also being built in France, China etc. Theoretically, if Sizewell goes ahead, it should be cheaper. But I won't be holding my breath. Hinkley's also going to be even more profitable because it's strike price was indexed. So high inflation due to rising energy costs will make Hinkley's energy more expensive/profitable.

                I've never really understood why governments agreed to indexing when inflationary pressures are entirely unrelated to costs. Sure, Hinkley's canteen might get more expensive, but a nuclear power plant isn't a large food consumer.

                As was recently revealed, the UK Government and regulator linked our electric price to the gas price, so the price of gas goes up and the price of electricity follows...

                Yup. See also previous electricity price gouging to to 'record oil prices'. Except we don't use oil generation. And prices never fell as oil prices collapsed. Funny how that works. Given the increased dependency on gas as we've rushed to farm wind, there's a certain logic to coupling the two, but it's also just another example of abject market failure and market rigging. Although extremely lucrative if you're in both the gas and electricity supply business.

                I guess the new regulatory reform will announce that the price of electricity will track the wholesale price of walnuts. That makes about as much sense as current policy.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              The 'Green Energy Levy' that is applied to all UK electricity bills, is, I believe, a percentage of the bill. This means that as the bill goes up because of the procurement costs primarily of gas for CCGT electricity generation, so each and every customer ends up paying more in the green levy as the cost increases.

              I always was concerned about the old feed-in tariffs, which were paid from the green levy. To my mind, it over-rewarded the people who could afford to put PV Solar on their houses from the pockets of the people who could not afford to, often people on the lowest incomes.

              And when that was hy-jacked by companies who would install PV Solar on your house, and take all of the feed-in tarriff themselves (although you did benefit in not buying as much electricity from the grid), this was close to outright robbery.

              Our renewable energy policy really did seem like a way for people who could afford to invest to make a high return at the expense of the less well off people, dressed up as a way to increase renewable energy installations.

          3. Potemkine! Silver badge

            energy price

            France gets 70% of its power from Nuclear plants, yet their energy prices are about the same as the UKs

            Are you sure about this? These data are 7 months old but they say the opposite:

            France electricity prices

            Household, kWh: $0.194 - Business, kWh: $0.132

            United Kingdom electricity prices

            Household, kWh: $0.339 - Business, kWh: $0.263

            Electricity in UK is 74% more expensive for households, and 99% more expensive for companies.

            1. adam 40 Silver badge
              WTF?

              Re: energy price

              Bulk prices are (https://www.epexspot.com/en/market-data)

              France 300-400Euro/MWh

              UK £150-£270/MWh

              Somehow, I think the UK consumers are being seriously ripped off by the distributors.

              On the other hand, in France, they seem to be subsidised. How is that possible given EU subsidy rules???

              I am thoroughly confused....

      3. ian 22

        Do you remember when we were told electricity from atomic power would be too cheap to measure?

        Atomic power advocates rarely include waste disposal and plant decommissioning in the life-cycle costs of an reactor. A single drum of waste exploded at America’s WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) in 2014, shuttering it for 2 years and requiring US$2000 million to decontaminate.

      4. Tom 7 Silver badge

        This looks like it ends the 'need' for nukes

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-61996520

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: This looks like it ends the 'need' for nukes

          Nope, but it's an excellent use case for SMRs (Small Modular Reactors).

          Problem is again clueless politicians and the lack of any coherent energy policy, plus some physics.

          So Scandanavia and some other cities had been smart, and built district heating systems. So 'waste' heat from mostly generation gets piped to nearby residences or businesses.

          The sandcastle's snag is it doesn't store waste heat. It would have to take perfectly good electricity, convert that to heat, keep the sand heated to the necessary temperature, and then transfer heat from the sand to water or whatever working fluid. So it's going to be pretty inefficient. Plus expensive, depending on the input cost of it's electricity.

          Most electricity generating solutions like coal, gas and nuclear generate heat, or use water cooling. Unless that waste heat is coupled to a district or industrial/commercial heating solution (eg greenhouses), the heat energy is wasted. SMRs might be around 500MW thermal, so smaller kettles than 1GW+ big reactors. Heat produces steam, steam drives turbines, steam's condensed and cooled, then dumped or recirculated.

          Given SMRs are compact compared to traditional reactors, they could be built close to demand centres, ie towns & cities. Ecofreaks would try to stop this by supergluing themselves to stuff and being generally annoying. But there's a proposal to simplify planning consent for clean energy. SMRs are clean (ie carbon free) energy, so might be possible to get planning consent and approvals faster.

          But the UK's policies have rarely been integrated. So we've never really been into district heating, which is a shame because trying to retrofit the pipework & plumbing into existing housing stock would be expensive and a PITA. Plus if it's distributed as high pressure steam, it's also rather corrosive and dangeroues. I had fun once wandering around a utilidor in NY with steam pipes in it. My guide went ahead waving a long taper. If bits fell off the taper, it was probably a steam leak, and a pinhole leak would really ruin your PPE and day if you wandered into it.

          But it could be a perfect solution for a NewTown, or large housing development. Plonk down an SMR, run the heating infrastructure while the project's being developed, and residents would potentially get free/cheap heating. Downside is there's no incentives for housing developers to do this, even though it would be something to help justify rip-off 'service charges', or ground rents to leaseholders.

          Ecofreak Greens would naturally object because nuclear. Even though their beloved solar panels are really nuclear powered..

          I tried a similar proposal with a new housing development in Reading. It was built just across from the Council dump on an old sewage works. We proposed building a CHP incineration plant to provide heat & power to the development. We calculated there'd be enough fuel (ie rubbish) produced by the housing estate to provide a good amount of the development's heat & power. Council didn't like the idea because they'd been sold that recycling means wasting energy to turn rubbish into stuff people don't want. Developer was somewhat interested, if we could pay for the plumbing, and give them a cut of the revenues. Kinda tricky given we wanted to set the CHP Co. up as a non-profit.

          But such is politics. A NewTown would be perfect given the potential of SMR + CHP to make it self-sufficient in power and heat, and of course reduce it's environmental footprint by producing less waste. Sadly there's a lack of joined-up thinking between government departments that make stuff like this a bureaucratic nightmare to actually implement.

          1. adam 40 Silver badge

            Re: This looks like it ends the 'need' for nukes

            Burnable rubbish goes in my stove - so I see where you're coming from.

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: This looks like it ends the 'need' for nukes

              Well, it does until they ban burning anything other than 'redy-to-burn' wood in solid fuel stoves, because burning anything else will contribute to carbon emission, are generally an inefficient generator of heat, and have no control of the chemicals that are emitted from burning the plastic and other materials that go into packaging.

              There have already been noises about controlling wood burners, particularly in urban areas. See the UK Environment Bill 2020.

              I don't like it myself, and I think it will impact a lot of people who rely on foraged wood in rural locations, especially as relying on electricity has been shown to be a bad thing over the recent storms, but such is the way of things.

  2. bofh1961

    The Holy Grail...

    ...of fusion power seems to still be a long way off and fission reactors, unpopular as they are, are available now. If hydroelectric power is regarded as a renewable energy source then one or two smaller nations will have a big economic advantage as well as the environmentally moral high ground.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Holy Grail...

      Even better, we now have fission models that are a LOT safer and even fail safe which zaps most of the arguments against nuclear (at least, the new ones do, I share the concerns about letting the old style reactors operate well beyond their originally planned life).

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The Holy Grail...

      " fission reactors, unpopular as they are, are available now"

      For some value of "now". Unfortunately the unpopularity ensures that the "now" is still some way into the future. Even when unpopularity finally has to confront reality lead times will ensure that "now" will still be some way away. Even then it's unlikely that the "greens" who opposed it will accept their substantial share of blame for the unneccessary CO2 burden.

    3. adam 40 Silver badge

      Re: The Holy Grail...

      if we had a Holy Grail, we wouldn't be in this mess....

      1. jmch Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: The Holy Grail...

        Given that the Holy Grail is supposed to grant eternal life, and the resulting overpopulation, if we DID have a holy grail we would be in a far bigger mess!!

  3. Snowy Silver badge
    Flame

    Net zero emissions by 2050,

    A great goal but a pointless message if you do not have a plan on how to do it.

    Or is the plan just to get the poor to use less energy because they can either have food or be warm?

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Net zero emissions by 2050,

      "A great goal but a pointless message if you do not have a plan on how to do it."

      make that:

      A great goal but a pointless message if you do not have a REALISTIC plan on how to do it.

      ====

      AFAICS, reality has never been a component of "zero-emissions" planning. Mostly net-zero has been a matter of politicians_setting_targets_and_let_the_techies_figure_out_how_to_meet_them. Unfortunately the techies are engineers, not magicians.

      I think that the relative handful of folks who have actually worked the numbers for providing a decent standard of living for 7 plus billion people have all agreed that nuclear power -- and lots of it -- will be needed.

      Not that I'm happy about that. I worry about nuclear proliferation. And the total failure -- at least here in the US -- to deal rationally with high level waste disposal. And I suspect that serious nuclear accidents just might become quite a bit more common if there are 20 or 40 times as many nuclear power plants as are currently in service.

      But I suppose nuclear is probably the least bad solution.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: Net zero emissions by 2050,

        Quote

        " And I suspect that serious nuclear accidents just might become quite a bit more common if there are 20 or 40 times as many nuclear power plants as are currently in service."

        Take the view of James Lovelock

        "50 000 dead from a nuclear accident in the next 50 yrs is going to be a hell of a lot better than 500 million dead from global warming........"

        And he was a scientist and knew what he was on about

        1. ian 22

          Re: Net zero emissions by 2050,

          That’s a false choice, unless he's pushing atomic energy as the only solution to the problem.

      2. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge

        Re: Net zero emissions by 2050,

        And the total failure -- at least here in the US -- to deal rationally with high level waste disposal.

        Are you still talking about nuclear fission there because the rest of the planet looks puts coal fired power plants into that category. Throwing it into the atmosphere or river and let others deal with the toxic waste seems to have always been the accepted way of doing it by some.

        In terms of the serious nuclear accidents, putting aside the whole the more you do a thing the better you get at doing it, coal kills 4x the number of people that fission (including it's accidents) feel free to look up Deaths per terrawhatt hour yourself

  4. fg_swe

    COMINTERN BR4INF4CK

    "Coal is evil"

    "Uranium is evil"

    "glue yourself to the autobahn to protest coal"

    Meanwhile the COMINTERN power centers Moscow and Beijing build out their coal and uranium power generation. In parallel, they have accumulated the best part of the world's manufacturing capability. Manufacturing needs cheap energy. Also, the NATO banksters have enabled the selling of virtually ANY high tech the communists need.

    Germany is especially stupid, KGB Colonel PUTIN has us at the balls after the MethanWende (sold as "EnergieWende" by our GREENIES).

    Well done KGB, you are true masters of messing with other people's minds. May your wickedness one day be your downfall.

  5. fg_swe

    Patriotic Energy Approach Links

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braunkohle (we have enough to power all of our needs for the next 100 years)

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthesegas

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brutreaktor (burn the U238, which is 100x more abundant)

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer-Tropsch-Synthese

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernkraftwerk_THTR-300

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_coal_gasification ( lots of coal beneath the north sea)

    If only we used more than two brain cells, we could show the middle one to the commies and Mohammedic Oil Tyrants. I guess this is what happens when you betray your king.

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_II._(Deutsches_Reich)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Patriotic Energy Approach Links

      Ah yes, let's burn fossile stuff underground. Does anyone have a match?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Patriotic"

    "commies"

    "Mohammedic Oil Tyrants"

    Are you sure you're at the right forum? Has Trump's we-call-it-truth-because-the-idiots-will-believe-that closed shop?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. fg_swe

      If you cannot handle truth and rationality, my condolences.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Pint

        @fg_swe

        "If you cannot handle truth and rationality, my condolences.".

        And you cannot write in a way that makes one belive you are sane to your head.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Oh, the irony!

  7. StargateSg7

    Okie Dokie Peoples! A further announcement from the Western Canada corner of the world saying that a Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada company called GENERAL FUSION has a VIABLE liquid metal plasma compression-based thermal generator that is literally ONLY MONTHS AWAY from being prototype-ready in a form factor barely the size of a few home refrigerators!

    They have MEGAWATT-CLASS generators that can power ten to twenty homes per device and these can be connected in series to form GIGAWATT-scale energy production.

    This is NOT hot fusion but rather a plasma compression-based thermal generator that follows ALL the rules of thermodynamics and is NOT some hokey vapourware! I've seen this system (i.e. it's down the street from my workplace!) and it's producing enough energy that with some more investment will go into the POSITIVE RANGE!

    This is WAAAAAAAAY BETTER than Lockheed Martin's Pulsed Magnetic Wave plasma comfinement/compression system in that the General Fusion devices don't run as hot and is a LOT safer on a thermal-runaway basis. i.e. it's EASIER to control and immediately fail-to-safe if anything goes awry! While the engineers have spoken with "My Sources" and don't want to gloat too much, they did admit that Megawatt-class small-form factor industrial and commercial power production prototypes are as little 6 months to one year away.

    Based upon what I saw, with a bit of a minor redesign towards a more horizontal form-factor, this entire gadget along with all of its control systems can fit into two 40 foot container units laid side-by-side at the destination site and be shippable world-wide to ANYWHERE that need immediate and SAFE power production! In terms of VIABLE small form factor devices, the General Fusion device and the Lockheed Martin device BOTH eventually end up with compressing and superheating a plasma for normal thermal-based power generation using different methodologies, BUT I do believe the General Fusion device is SAFER and SIMPLER to operate which means cost-wise this is a winner!

    For all you finance and engineering types, it's time that y'all starting looking at GENERAL FUSION and LMCO to pick which one gets to supply the world with CHEAP and small-form factor power generation gear! These BOTH are better than the ITER Hot Fusion device which is inherently much more expensive and DANGEROUS to build and operate.

    Start looking DEEPER peoples! General Fusion and Lockheed Martin WILL get us there to energy independence FASTER than Hot Fusion systems.

    Bring Out Your Wallets and start asking for and paying to get working prototypes into YOUR commercial and/or industrial site! We NEED these two companies!

    They ARE our electrical energy production salvation!

    V

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wanna buy a nice bridge, real cheap?

      1. StargateSg7

        I don't live in Brooklyn so that one's out! How about the Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver, Canada? Always wanted to build a house on top of one of it's towers. How much?

        V

    2. Spherical Cow

      That's an extraordinary claim! Got any extraordinary evidence?

      1. adam 40 Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Evidence!! Here!!

        https://generalfusion.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/SLIC_LiWallInteraction_APS_v5_StephenHoward_pdf.pdf

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Evidence!! Here!!

          Hmm. That lonk shows that they're building a demonstrator that will come into operation in 2027, which will do one pulse per day.

          It really looks interesting, but I would guess that this technology is actually still a decade away from commercial power generation.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "literally ONLY MONTHS AWAY"

      That use of "literally" should be a warning. Please come back in however many months away it is to tell us when it's in production. How many months is it, BTW?

  8. brotherelf

    Even in […] the US […] still only a third favor government investment in nuclear power.

    Yeah, can I get those 2/3rds split further into "objects to nuclear power" and "objects to government investment"?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First get your permission to build nuclear power stations

    From the US / UK...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: First get your permission to build nuclear power stations

      "From" or "In"?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: First get your permission to build nuclear power stations

        "From".

        Countries on the blacklist that want nuclear technology will be sanctioned.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Building nuclear power stations in potential war zones

    Wasn't there a recent real life example of why that's not a good idea?

    1. fg_swe

      Back In The Rational World

      ..nuclear power has the lowest rate of victims per TWh of energy generated.

      You can see why this is the case:

      1.) Add up all the victims of Harrisburg, Chernobyl, Fukushima, Windscale,...

      2.) Add up all the people burned to death in oil platform explosions, killed in coal mines, got cancer from the billions of tons of ash blown out by coal power plants.

      3.) Add up all the people who died of the toxic fumes from solar cell production. Add the folks who died from the coal plants which provided the energy to create the solar cells.

      Due to the extensive safety precautions, nuclear power is ALREADY the safest energy source.

      https://www.zmescience.com/other/feature-post/safest-forms-of-energy-05022022/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Back In The Rational World

        None of which were in war zones...

        “Nuclear power installations are designed for peacetime. <Ukraine> is the first time we see major fighting in a country with lots of such facilities. This is a unique situation that no one prepared for.”

        Electricity generation facilities tend to be very attractive targets.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Building nuclear power stations in potential war zones

      Identify your potential war zones. Or, more to thepoint, identify your places which cannot under any circumstances become war zones.

  11. M.V. Lipvig Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    Been saying this for years.

    Gotta be nukes if you want to ditch fossils, and even if we started building breeder reactors today it'll still take 30 years or more to get there. While there was a reduction in global use over the last two years, this was an anomaly - before that power consumption was growing faster than renewable production. And, renewable growth has a new problem rearing its head - panels have a lifespan. It will not be long before new panel production is split between new growth and old panel replacement. Windmills have their own problems as it turns out the blades are a wear item, and being made of fiberglass cannot be recycled.

    I really don't think the green weenies understand just how much energy they need to replace - fossil fuels makes up 84 percent of thw world's energy production. Right now we use about 30,000TWh of energy, and renewables make up maybe 3,000TWh of that. And that 30,000TWh is today's usage - I read a report saying that by 2050, it's expected that global energy usage will be anywhere from 150,000 to 330,000 TWh. What we'll need with that much juice I have no idea, but then I don't think anyone in 1950 expected that we'd have a use for 30,000TWh. We simply cannot replace fossil fuels with solar panels and windmills with today's tehnology. The only thing that might come close is nuclear power. Even then, we would need 60 million 500MW thorium reactors to replace today's usage, and 300 million 500MW thorium reactors by 2050. Minus whatever renewables are providing, that is.

    Now say you want to do it all with solar panels - the most powerful panel I could find generates 800W, so that's 4000 watts per day with 5 hours of expected generation. That means 75 billion solar panels would be needed to meet today's production, with a need to replace every 20 years. At 2.2m x 1.75m, that's 3.85 sq m per panel. This covers 2,887,500 square kilometers, or about a third of Europe - the southern third, since it needs the sun. And that's today's usage. To cover 2050, you'd be looking at 8.25 TRILLION panels, replaced every 20 years, covering 31,762,500 square kilometers. That's more than 3 times the surface of Europe. That's larger than North America. Larger than Africa. Interestingly though, it would be a ring a little less than 1 kilometer wide around the equator. And 20 years later we'd have to do it all again. Notice that this just covered the panels, and not the storage medium needed to have 24x7 power off 5 hours of generation.

    I just don't see it on today's technology.

  12. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    Stating the obvious

    At least the way I see it here up in the North.

    So what to do, well, the big chief, the dear child, the bright one, got it once again, - we will build a nuclear every year.

    Just listen to the genius here, at home or abroad and congrats for being number one in wind power too.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0MZBwHjUkI

    Fact Checking The Boris Johnson Interview On CNN

    Hinkley Point C construction started in 2017 and the commission date target is june 2027.

    It's a modern plant like the one now up and running in Finland and in China earlier.

    But it's one (two reactors) within the five next years. With plans to build some more, if there was such plans, Britain might be able to have three more in ten years perhaps if somebody was willing to build them.

    Why do you accept a guy like that embarrassing the whole country.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Stating the obvious

      "Why do you accept a guy like that embarrassing the whole country."

      Who do you have embarassing a proportion of your country and why are they accepted?

      The unfortunate fact is that BoJo doesn't embarass the whole country. and the part that he ambarasses doesn't accept him. It's called democracy. Personally I'd go for a qualified democracy - anyone standing for office should be qualified to do more than run a whelk stall.

      Who do you have embarassing a proportion of your country?

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Stating the obvious

        Hello "Doctor Syntax".

        I must admit I don't really understand your comment, but never mind.

        So let me explain what I was writing about.

        Here in Finland we had a first time new PM of a coalition government who was caught telling a lie on the telly, one lie, and as I recall repeated perhaps three times.

        That premiership ended in less than three months.

        A PM in a coalition is not king and has no majority to rely on if considered rubbish.

        So my question is really what makes it possible for a notorious born liar to stay a PM in Britain.

        How many days would a guy like that stay in power in a democracy with a coalition government.

        Not one day probably as that person would probably never be given that responsibility.

        And my point is that it's not about the people but the political system.

        No country should be run by a government of just one party. And that is just one of your problems.

        Look at the sleeze enabled in a government of just one party.

        Also In a two party system the far right and far left trash will have nowhere to go but to try to take over one of the parties, just look at what has happened to the Republican party.

        In both countries the whole system relies on honest politicians, but as soon as the trash are let in the system is toothless.

        The two party system you Brits and sadly most of the English speaking countries have not been able to get out of while 2/3 of the world has managed it, is your main problem.

        And adding to that the Brits who seriously believe they represent the golden standard of the universe.

        I am deeply worried about you, if slightly happy there seems to be some efforts to get rid of fptp.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Stating the obvious

          It's very simple. BoJo won an election*. There were sufficient people who did not, at least at that time, find him embarassing and voted for the party of which he was (and, at time of writing, still is) leader and hence prospective PM. They found him acceptable.

          OK, I'm making an assumption here: that the intersect of people who found him embarassing and people who voted for him is a small one. The intersect of people who voted for him but currently find him an embarassment might well be larger.

          OTOH many of those who did not vote for him found him an embarassment then and still do now. Unfortunately there were insufficient of us to keep him out but we do not find him acceptable.

          * Technically his party won the election but the UK system is that the leader of the party which wins most seats has first dibs at forming a government. The leadership of the parties appears to be a substantial factor in determining the way votes go.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Stating the obvious

            In the US, there are plenty of people who voted for Trump even while acknowledging he was a dangerous idiot, because they wanted the Republicans in charge and they wanted conservative judges on the Supreme Court. That kind of realpolitik presumably happens in significant numbers in the UK as well.

            In other words, many people are willing to support (in some sense) an embarrassing leader if they perceive the benefits to outweigh the costs. Perhaps things are different in Finland, but in the US, and I suspect the UK, voters are not, in the main, nearly so fastidious.

            1. Lars Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Stating the obvious

              @Michael Wojcik

              Is it that hard to grasp that it's the system that is rotten.

  13. VoiceOfTruth

    A small note about the "International" Energy Agency

    -> Only OECD member states can become members of the IEA (Wikipedia).

    Neither China nor India are members. That's about 3 billion people. Not quite so "international", is it?

    1. Lars Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: A small note about the "International" Energy Agency

      @VoiceOfTruth

      Association countries are.

      Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Energy_Agency#Member_countries

  14. Potemkine! Silver badge

    IEA is stating the obvious but sadly the pseudo-greens' propaganda has a devastating effect on finding real solutions. Germany will re-ignite coal-fired power plants rather than keeping running its last nuclear power stations because of them.

    Nonethess, the future of the Climate doesn't lie in Europe, but in China and India.

    The gain of limiting CO2 emission in Europe those 10 last years were largely offset by the Asia-Pacific region. Even if Europe becomes carbon neutral in 2050, it won't change anything for the climate.

    As those countries will probably refuse that their population stay poor, we must heavily invest in carbon capture system to offset that.

  15. seeWemm

    In the UK, it looks as if we're going to get eco-destructive onshore wind forced upon us by one means or another. And yet, if we can wait just a few years, how so much better it will be for the environment, when the era of the small modular reactor (SMR) dawns.

    GE Hitachi's BWR-300's commercial operation date (COD) 2028; Rolls-Royce SMR Ltd's UK SMR's COD 2029.

    It would take 6.4 South Kyle-sized onshore wind farms to generate the same amount of electricity each year as a single UK SMR. They would occupy a land area of 155 km², compared to the 0.04 km² site size of the UK SMR (1/3875th).

    But the lifespan of wind farms is only 25 years, whereas the design life of an SMR is 60 years. Those 6.4 South Kyle-sized wind farms would have to be 'rebuilt' 2.4X - a total of 15 South Kyle-sized wind farms. The capital markets would have to come up with £4.8 billion of investment for the wind farms, compared with just £1.8 billion of investment for the R-R UK SMR.

    The super-investability of the UK SMRs will hit investors in the face within a year or two and it is not unrealistic to think that by the end of this decade, SMRs will syphon investment away from dysfunctional wind and solar power plants (WASPPs) when the higher returns become obvious.

    ESG credentials will start to kick in, centred on the microscopic environmental impact of SMRs compared to eco-destructiveness of any of the WASPP technologies.

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      @seeWemm

      I am all for UK SMRs to enable and help the transition out of oil and gas for energy.

      But quoting the Wikipedia it seems the support is rather meager and it's not there yet.

      "In November 2021, the UK government provided funding of £210 million to further develop the design, partly matched by £195 million of investment by Rolls Royce Group, BNF Resources UK Limited and Exelon Generation Limited.[8][9] At that point they expected the first unit would be completed in the early 2030s.".

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolls-Royce_SMR

  16. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    Green insanity is only mass accepted when we are rich enough to conceal the damage and cost. Without the war the costs were growing beyond acceptable and now there is a little war in eastern Europe suddenly the insanity is much clearer to see, especially when the fear is the lights going out.

    The developed world of rich countries worrying about lights going out. If that isnt insanity go check with your doctor.

  17. yogidude

    Not yet viable.

    Perhaps some assumptions are being made about what speculative capital might be required to make said technology viable?

    Maybe one of the reasons Small Modular Reactors are still not viable is because investment in wind and solar is much cheaper and is not nearly so speculative. Wind and solar doesn't solve the storage problem, but V2G also has a lot of potential as a future storage technology. Most of the internal combustion vehicles on the road today will have been replaced by 2050. If they have been replaced with V2G capable EVs, storage will simply not be an issue by then.

  18. 1752

    Absolute Zero

    Interesting report from UK Fires on what it would take to be absolute zero. It also covers from the UK's point of view is that us (so we export the co2 creation) or in total. It will all be fine of course if we can get unlimted electricity and we don't need boats planes or concrete...

    https://ukfires.org/absolute-zero/

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