back to article Nuclear power is the climate superhero too nervous to wear its cape

What's GIF got to do with nuclear reactors? Commercial development of atomic power plants had largely stopped by the 1980s; even so you could do better than Deluxe Paint for your blueprints. Yet the connection is much more modern, to do with projects like the revival of molten salt tech as a new hope for zero-emission power. …

  1. MJI Silver badge

    I have been on about this since I was a teenager

    Argueing with greenies as not burning all the coal pollutants.

    No thoughts of climate change back then but all to do with cleaner air.

    There are trade offs on all generation method, just that nuclear is easier to handle.

    Look at Severn estuary, a couple of power stations are much greener than a barrage which would ruin one of the best wetlands in the world.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

      Also the fossil carbon fuels are a raw material for other industries which cannot be easily replaced.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

        Isn't using fossil fuel a recycling of nature's waste?

        1. Snowy Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          Just over a very very long time scale if by nature's waste you mean dead dinosaur that is...

        2. bernmeister

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          You could see it that way but it is actually breaking into natures carbon capture system and releasing the carbon back into the atmosphere. That is the source of the wholw problem.

    2. tony72

      Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

      I'll know that we're actually in a climate emergency when I see Greenpeace calling for more nuclear power.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

        One of the co-founders of Greenpeace already has.

        1. Graham Dawson

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          Greenpeace have spent a great deal of effort distancing themselves from him. He quit the organisation, largely because they refused to contemplate nuclear power as a solution.

          1. Denial Vanish

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            Moore has also been a shill for giant logging companies and their friends ever since quitting Greenpeace. He's rightly hated by environmentalists and plenty of Canadians, particularly in BC.

      2. 42656e4d203239 Bronze badge

        Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

        >>'ll know that we're actually in a climate emergency when I see Greenpeace calling for more nuclear power.

        Thing is - they won't. Ever.

        They are firmly welded to the rudder of "NEwclear is AwFuL WiLl NoBoDy ThInK oF tHe ChIlDrEn?!?1!1!1111!11!!"

        cf. Greens forcing Germany to shut down their Nukes and rely on.... Russia for Gas (and Poland for Lignite; oh yes the greens also insist that Germany shut down their lignite mines) to replace them!

        1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          Also see the Lib Dems in the UK blocking the construction of new nuclear power plants when they were in coalition and were responsible for energy.

          Nuclear plants that "wouldn't come online until at least 2022"...

        2. jwatkins

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          It depends on which branch of Green you are talking to. Some of those greens actively *want* a societal collapse - maybe they think all those hollywood films of Apocalyptic/Dystopian futures are documentaries?

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            it was, at least for a while, the official policy of the UK Green party to cause a permanent recession due to their hilariously mistaken belief that all growth is Malthusian.

            People who have opinions and misunderstandings like that shouldn't be listened to by anybody, nevermind people who have the power to inflict things on our lives.

          2. Zuagroasta

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            The German green party's first principles are that industrialization itself is the Original Sin of modern society, and that the Industrial Revolution should be rolled back entirely. They are also the original anti-vaccine movement, and the German equivalent of NAMBLA.

          3. Snowy Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            Some greens would consider Thanos's snap to not be enough, only killed 50%...

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          They rely more on French nuclear electricity than anything else.... :)

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

        You think Greenpeace might actually admit they could be wrong?

        1. nijam Silver badge

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          > You think Greenpeace might actually admit they could be wrong?

          They don't even understand what they're saying, how could they?

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          Greenpeace is a corporate ponzi scam(*)

          Bck in the 1980s and 1990s I watched them roll into several places, take credit for other organisations' work and wreck 30 years of negotiation which had been undertaken by locals in less than a week

          (*) The original articles of association said that long-term members would obtain voting rights. As that term approached it was revised twice and then the clause removed entirely

    3. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

      Avid greenie here. And pro-nuclear. Unfortunately many Green parties internationally are vehemently anti-nuclear. Changing party minds requires membership to hammer home that there other options besides returning to living in the swamp and decimating the population.

      As noted, the tradeoffs in generations methods are what they are. Reserving a couple of football fields deep underground for eternity seems vastly preferable to burning coal or subsidising the Russian war machine. And absolutely preferable to having to build both Wind and Gas in duplicate to cover shortfalls.

      As ever, a mix of generation is the correct answer, and making sure the investment goes the right direction to facilitate that is the solution.

      What we have at the moment is 40 years of conservative government dedicated to picking winners on the basis of what rich folks can extract money from. As opposed to promoting what is actually needed.

      1. Shadowmanx2012
        Thumb Up

        Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

        The issue I feel here is one of emotions vs logic. On that basis, nuclear will lose as most people know little or nothing apart from the line nuclear = bad, encouraged by the Greens and other environmental groups.

        As mentioned elsewhere, some countries have been persuaded to close down their nuclear plants only to have to replace them with much "dirtier" techonologies.

        We (governments) need to start a program of education on the massive benefits of nuclear even with the associated detriments regarding waste disposal.

        Or to put it simpler, do people want the lights to stay on into the future or not?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          A report in the other place a day or two ago quoted another report from Germany - https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/germany-sees-tidal-shift-in-sentiment-toward-atomic-energy-a-05f47c3c-d20e-44dc-bd6d-1e1dbfb7f0cd - that opinion is shifting there rather quickly.

          Is that what they mean by realpolitik?

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            There's been a lot of discussion in Germany about nuclear power and possibly *not* shutting down all stations as soon as possible as a bridging gap to resolve the gas crisis.

            Of course, we should also look to France to see what happens when a country puts all its eggs in one basket. Right now, a lot of the French nuclear power stations are forced to reduce the amount of power they produce because the rivers that provide the cooling are being heated up too much.

            Yes, you read that right. If you go to ResearchGate, you can see the map of all nuclear power stations in France, of which the majority are sited not on the coast like in the UK, but on major rivers (like the Loire, Seine, Rhône, Garonne, Meuse), all of which are currently seeing exceptionally low water levels (thanks to the unseasonably hot weather) and the biodiversity of the rivers downstream from the power stations needs to be kept in balance (and thus the water may not exceed a temperature limit).

            And thus... as much as nuclear is fabulous, it has drawbacks in that cooling is needed and lots of it. Environmental campaigners have pointed out that some of the UK power stations have also seen localised increases in water temperatures in the sea, but that can also be an advantage for aquaculture (as evidenced in France at Gravelines outside Dunkirk where a company called Aquanord is using the warm cooling effluent to breed and grow fish)!

            So, green power will need some fine balancing - maybe use nuclear as base power (like the big coal stations are used in the UK), while solar and wind, which are less... regular, can backfill where needed and/or be used to supply pumped-storage hydro-power projects (like Dinorwig).

            1. NeilPost Silver badge

              Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

              Surely with some modern Industrial scale heat-pump action the energy can be recovered further from warm water to power further processes instead of ditching it in the river??

              Esp’ during the winter.

              Exactly the same as ground source, water source and air-source heat pumps we are all supposed to be investing in.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

                Well Trawsfynydd used cooling lakes, don't know if they now have a fish farm or other uses for the warm water. But suspect they are cautious about mixing undiluted cooling water with food supply.

            2. Norman Nescio Silver badge

              Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

              ...pumped-storage hydro-power projects (like Dinorwig).

              Pumped storage is great for 'instant-on' demand fulfilment (actual spin-up time for Dinorwig is about 16 seconds), but suffers from a couple of problems:

              1) There are not enough geological formations around suitable for pumped-storage to service future demand.

              2) Variable level reservoirs are ecologically devastating. Dams on their own are not good, but adding in the frequently varying water levels means the 'intertidal zone' becomes a wasteland.

              A minor issue is that the round-trip efficiency of pumped storage is roughly 75%, so you are 'throwing down the plughole' about a quarter of your expensively generated power as well.

              Pumped storage is great for accommodating demand-spikes, reducing the need for idling power-stations, ready to be brought on stream if necessary, but they are not a magic solution to grid-scale storage. Lots of work is being done to use gravitational potential energy as a storage medium on smaller scales, but grid-scale storage is not a solved problem yet.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

                Small-scale systems using dense fluids, or solid masses are in development. They won't have the land take of a giant battery like Cruachan or Dinorwig. Production examples of Electric->Hydrogen, and Hydrogen-> electric have been built in Germany.

                Install one 500kW system at every substation in the country (approx. 400) would be roughly equivalent to a bonus Dinorwig.

                400x 5MW systems would give us storage generating capacity roughly equivalent to gas generation on an average day.

                Under current regulatory rules, storage systems aren't "allowed" to be built by the Transmission Licensees (because storage is a generators). NG ESO (the system operator) has openly stated it needs storage.

                So who is going to build them if the dumb rules don't allow for them?

                Centrica and the like PREFER not to have storage. Remember that it was Centrica that shut down Rough; the biggest gas storage facility in the UK because they make more money by profiteering off price spikes than they do from peak shaving (their profit increase this year is one of the biggest).

                As I have commented elsewhere, the free market does not value or incentivise storage, so unless that changes, it will not happen. This is unfortunate, because nationally, having lots of storage de-risks everything for consumers and businesses alike. And happens to also be a great enabler for Wind, Solar.

                We urgently need Ofgem and BEIS to get it's act in gear and change the rules in this sector. It'll create (good) jobs, shave off the high costs of operating the system for everyone, de-risk renewables, de-risk conventional generation. And do so relatively inexpensively at that.

                But what do I know, I've only been analysing this problem the past 10 years.

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

                  MSRs can both go into deep offpeak AND rapidly peak-follow, unlike most nuclear designs. Even better, they can do most of this without operator intervention (self throttling) - essentially they provide a near-constant heat LEVEL input to turbines regardless of loading (it's limited by the turbine, not the reactor)

                  The really short term stuff can be accomodated with batteries, meanming OCGTs or Dinorygg are obsoleted

                2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
                  Joke

                  Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

                  > Remember that it was Centrica that shut down Rough

                  Do you think Liz Truss will announce that she favours a bit of Rough?

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

                "A minor issue is that the round-trip efficiency of pumped storage is roughly 75%, so you are 'throwing down the plughole' about a quarter of your expensively generated power as well."

                I believe it's much worse than that. The argument for pumped storage is it can be used to absorb renewable power such as wind when demand is low and the grid operator would have to turn off turbines due to oversupply issues. I think now the better method to use wind power when it's available is to have electricity prices transmitted down the lines and EV's along with private battery storage taking advantage of reduced rates to charge. There are also opportunities for uses that lend themselves to intermittent power.

                1. Roland6 Silver badge

                  Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

                  From memory the main use for Dinorwig and Ffestiniog pump storage is to cover the startup time for onventional power stations. I think they also get used for short demand fluctuations such as football half-time.

                  To refill of the top reservoir they try and use surplus grid electricity, so yes it would be used to absorb a surplus supply of wind if demand was low. I suspect however, this is probably sufficiently infrequent for it not to be the main power source for the constant top reservoir refill.

            3. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

              "the rivers that provide the cooling are being heated up too much"

              Yup, right across Europe and the USA, not just France - happens every summer but getting worse

              If you don't use water-moderated nuclear then you can have the "hot" side of your heat engines (steam turbines) much hotter than 250C, which means you can have your "cold" side rejecting to atmosphere instead of rivers.

              It also means you can go up to 650C and produce dry steam or even ultracritical steam for your turbines, which are both much more efficient as well as having significantly lower maintenance levels (wet steam pits the hell out of turbines)

              Conventional Nuclear power plants are expensive to build: because the radioactive water and steam vessel needs containing to ensire contaminated water can't escape to the biosphere

              - but they're hideously expensive to RUN (more expensive than burning coal) because they have a _very_ high maintenance cost on the thermal side

              - that's due to the input temperature being uneconomically low)

              (That same low input temperature is an issue at most geothermal sites too. This is why they seldom have the economics that they're sold on)

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

                "It also means you can go up to 650C and produce dry steam or even ultracritical steam for your turbines, which are both much more efficient as well as having significantly lower maintenance levels (wet steam pits the hell out of turbines)"

                CO2 might be a better working fluid at high temperatures. You'd then have an extremely dry system with the potential for much longer life turbines.

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

                "If you don't use water-moderated nuclear then you can have the "hot" side of your heat engines (steam turbines) much hotter than 250C, which means you can have your "cold" side rejecting to atmosphere instead of rivers."

                I'd like to see more use being made of waste heat. Hot houses in the winter, heating of municipal buildings and even streets where snow is an issue. I think it was Sunamp that put a thermal battery on a barge that could collect waste heat from a power plant on one side of a river and hook up to dispense the heat on the other. I'm collecting the bits to build a thermal battery for my house. I plan to use a low-melt alloy (cerrosafe) and water to store the heat. Input will be excess from a solar PV system and maybe an evacuated tube solar heating rack as well. The thermal batter will be set up to get bloody hot with lots of insulation and the secondary loop water that gets used will be tempered by a mixer valve. That will feed a tankless water heater. If the thermal battery is good to go, the tankless heater won't switch on. If I haven't been able to store up heat, the tankless heater will switch on as a backup.

                I'm always trying to find ways to use a waste product from something as the input to something else.

            4. toejam++

              Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

              There are ways to make a nuclear power station more resistant to high temperatures. After all, the Palo Verde station in Arizona operates in temperatures up to 50C. It just takes planning and the proper budget.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

                "There are ways to make a nuclear power station more resistant to high temperatures. After all, the Palo Verde station in Arizona operates in temperatures up to 50C. It just takes planning and the proper budget."

                They can, but it's all about the delta-T. I had a nice long conversation with an engineer at Teledyne about using RTG's on the moon and we ran through some first approximations using Carnot's equations to see what sort of efficiency could be expected. The scenarios to keep the heat moving along were fun to work through. Yeah, I'm a big nerd, but it was a JPL open house and you get in that sort of mood.

      2. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

        Bury the nuke waste on the Moon -Space 1999 pah!! Green Propaganda - or SpaceX the waste into the Sun.

        If we can shoot thousands of mobile internet satellites into orbit we can get shot of some Nuke waste.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          You need rockets which can escape earth velocity. Then you would need > 10'000 of those. You know the statistics about accidents related to that? We already have a higher world wide radioactivity. So high that, for example, metal which is from the time before is preferred in medical and measure since the radioactivity was lower back then. Started with the first atom bomb tests, and Chornobyl and Fukushima added to it measurable.

          The increased death rate by radioactivity cannot be measured since it is one of many factors for cancer, so there is no way to proof it was radioactivity. We just have "a bit higher number". Which is perfect for those pro-nuclear yestermillenia people.

          In reality nuclear power is a waste of money. With the total cost of such reactors you can build a huge amount of renewable stuff + the storage required. Applies to other sources too.

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            As I said look at Starlink, OneWeb etc and their pollution of the sky’s with thousands of Sat Internet hardware.

            The hardest part is getting into earth orbit, and that’s reliable and commodity now, in that segment.

            Embed an Apple Tag (with better battery) in say the glass to vitrify the nuke waste in case of an accident…. Find my … Nuke Waste !!

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            "So high that, for example, metal which is from the time before is preferred in medical and measure since the radioactivity was lower back then."

            This used to be true. Kinda. Sorta. Ish.

            They did make "isolation rooms" out of scrap pieces of steel armor plate salvaged from pre-Bomb warships, yes. This was to minimize background radiation when measuring exposure of various folks for various reasons. But that was then, this is now. Today, they just use normal metals & correct for instrumentation error. Computers are kind of handy when it comes to that sort of thing.

            One other bit of marine salvage that I am aware of ... SLAC, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore all have lead shielding that was salvaged from centuries old ship's ballast. Most of the stories included pirates of the Caribbean; some included lurid tales of how the ship was sunk. Allegedly this was because of the old lead's lack of man-made radiation, which would skew the data. Again, modern computers make this kind of thing pointless ... One of my older mentors wrecked the romantic stories by telling us that the real reason they used it was because it was the cheapest lead they could get their hands on at the time.

          3. lidgaca-2

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            "+ the storage required"

            You will need to elaborate on this mythical "storage" ...

            -- Chris

          4. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            "The increased death rate by radioactivity cannot be measured"

            Statisticians will disagree with you. For all intents and purposes the number is zero

            Cancers are overwhelmingly caused by chemical factors. It takes a HUGE increase in radiation exposure to cause/encourage cancers and the only population group which comes close (smokers) still aren't particularly susceptable - most lung cancers seem to be down to lead in the lungs, not the polonium precursors

            1. 9Rune5

              Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

              In Taiwan people are built from sturdier stock. Long-term exposure to Cobalt-60 did no harm: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2477708/

          5. jmch Silver badge

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            "With the total cost of such reactors you can build a huge amount of renewable stuff + the storage required."

            "Without the hot air" is about 15 years old now (withouthotair.com , look it up!!), but all of the points made in it are still valid and more importantly, the basic numbers haven't changed much. "huge amount of renewable stuff" - enough to replace the energy generated by fossil fuels without using nuclear - means covering pretty much every single square km of undeveloped land in the UK* with solar panels, windmills or growing feedstock for biofuels. It's not that it's not possible, it's that it's not a solution that society (least of all most environmentalists) are willing to accept.

            There are, broadly speaking, 4 basic options available to humanity:

            1) continue burning fossil fuels and accelerate the climate catastrophe

            2) switch as quickly as possible to pure renewables (environmentally disastrous, massively costly, still would have intermittency problems)

            3) switch to pure renewables and significantly scale back energy consumption (even scaling back consumption by half, which would be a gigantic drop in economic output and quality of living, would still require so much land use as to be environmentally disastrous, and costs would still be massive in the face of economic collapse)

            4) switch as much of fossil fuel power to nuclear as quickly as we can to have baseload nuclear, and build as many renewables as is practical to support given the intermittency.

            4) is the only solution that can preserve both the environment and our quality of life, at least until (if) breakthroughs in geothermal or fusion power allows us to truly have power that is both reliable and clean.

            *pretty much the same holds true of most other countries

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

              "switch to pure renewables and significantly scale back energy consumption"

              You pointed out properly that energy consumption relates directly to a better quality of life. It's fossil fuels that are making it possible for there to be as large of a population as there is on Earth right now. A switch to all renewable energy (wind/solar) would be a death sentence for billions. The lowered prosperity of wealthier nations would mean far less excess food and manufactured goods donated to the third world. It would also mean less surplus that can be counted on in an emergency. It's hard to count the number of famines in Ethiopia I've heard of that have occurred during my lifetime.

              It's not change that's the issue, it's the rate of change. If there is going to be a switch to more renewable energy, there will have to be far fewer people depending on it. To be able to have more nuclear power is going to mean far fewer lawyers.

        2. Norman Nescio Silver badge

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          ...SpaceX the waste into the Sun

          That takes rather a lot of energy. Anything launched from the Earth is naturally carrying the Earths orbital velocity around the sun, and to get it into the Sun, you need to remove that orbital velocity somehow. That requires 'delta-V'. A direct approach, using rockets to slow you down takes more energy that to leave the Solar System entirely,

          You can improve matters by using an 'orbital slingshot' approach with various planets to modify the trajectory. Using Jupiter in this way, you can use less energy and achieve the objective faster.

          Astronomy: Here's why we can't just rocket nuclear waste into the sun - Orbital mechanics, ruining your dreams for 13.5 billion years.

          StackExchange: Space Exploration: Orbital Mechanics and Launching into the Sun

          There are lots of links in the second link above that go into detail about getting 'stuff' to the Sun. Things don't 'spiral into the Sun' naturally - you have to actively shed velocity to do so.

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

            Very interesting link, and not something I had ever considered.

            However surely if we lob anything towards the sun, it doesn't really matter if it goes straight there or if it takes a really really long tome to arrive. *disclaimer* - launching nuclear waste into the sun is anyway a really bad idea!! But - if theoretically we ever wanted to, maybe we could find a trajectory that doesn't need a very big delta-v to enter where the waste would just loop around the solar system for a few centuries before eventually spiraling into the sun

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

              " maybe we could find a trajectory that doesn't need a very big delta-v to enter where the waste would just loop around the solar system for a few centuries before eventually spiraling into the sun"

              I think it would be a much better goal to find ways to use that spent fuel in another useful process. That and switching to reactors that produce far less unusable byproducts.

        3. arbivore

          Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

          Send nuclear waste to the sun?

          No, you can't. We only just developed rocket propulsion powerful enough to slow a spacecraft down for solar approach. Remember we and everything else on and around the earth are orbiting the sun? To come out of that orbit means we have to slow down so that the orbital speed is lost and the object we want to get to the sun can fall towards it. Countering the orbital speed of 67,000 mph through space requires a HUGE amount of energy. Sending stuff into the sun is totally uneconomic. It *is* rocket science.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

        reserving a couple of football fields means you're still wedded to making nuclear weapons - and in any case that stuff will be less radioactive than granite in 450 years anyway

        There are OTHER nuclear paths which produce 1% of the waste (which will be less radioactive than granite in 300 years), solve the existing nuclear waste issue by acting as nuclear garbage disposals and make rare earth mining actually viable by consuming its primary waste product (which is a boon for other technologies)

        As a nice side benefit they can also find enough fuel in coal ash slurry lakes that there's money to be made in cleaning up the hundreds of abandoned sites around the world. The TWO biggest environmental disasters in the USA lower 48 so far this century have been power station ash lake dam breaks

        Did I mention they also produce prodigious amounts of helium?

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

      Look at the proposed Canada tidal barrage in the Bay of Fundy

      I would have provided 60-75% of Canada's entire energy needs and almost got started, but was then abruptly cancelled

      Why?

      Tides.

      I was pointed out that putting the proposed barrage in would have massively increased tidal swing down the entire North American eastern seaboard

      At New England (Boston) the increase would have been 45 FEET increase between high and low water, with high water being the worst affected

      At New York it would have added 20 feet to the tides

      At Chesapeake Bay, 10 feet (bye bye Washington DC)

      Even as far south as Florida it would have increased high waters by 3 feet in Miami

      In essence, Canada would have declared environmental war on the USA....

      Interfering with established ocillatory systems has consequences and you need to work out what they are BEFORE you start

      Renewables aren't necessarily "benign"

    5. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: I have been on about this since I was a teenager

      Dark Age? No Thanks.

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Stop

    Waste

    The single biggest problem with nuclear is the waste. Not the spend fuel rods but all the low-level radioactive waste produced over the lifetime of the plant. What's our current plan for this stuff? Bury it in concrete and hope no-one disturbs it for the next few centurys. Has no-one noticed the whole "green" revolution happening and the three Rs? (Reduce, reuse, recycle) Nothing there about "bury it in the ground".

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Waste

      By putting the brakes on development for decades we are now decades behind on development of designs to reduce lng-lived low level waste.

    2. steelpillow Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Waste

      The thing is, all industry produces chemical waste of one kind or another. Heavy metals, organophosphates and various other classes of toxin persist in the environment. In a thousand years, your slag heaps and the like will still be as toxic as they day they were created. But the nuclear waste, be it high- or low-level, will be far less hazardous than it once was. Now tell me which is the more environmental option.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Waste

        All true. But missing from your analysis is the carbon dioxide and methane waste.

        Industries pumping both into the environment means that in a thousand years nobody will be around to worry about the radiation or the toxins.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Waste

          Methane has a half-life because it will be oxidised. It's about 9 years. CO2 can also be removed naturally - proving nature is given a chance - and artificially but that's in its infancy as yet. However, there's been no excuse for several decades for generating energy from fossil carbon.

          1. steelpillow Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Waste

            CO2 persists naturally for around 1,000 years before it can be sucked out by plants. Methane is chicken feed by comparison. In order to prevent a relentless 1,000-year climb in global temperatures, it is now necessary to artificially extract CO2 and sequester the carbon back underground. New Scientist carries some quite good articles on this sort of thing, for those who have eyes to see. Funny how this kind of simple and ironclad logic usually gets buried in ignorant bullshit instead.

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: Waste

              CH4 is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2, just FYI.

              1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                Re: Waste

                Yup. Shorter lived though, so goes away if you stop emitting it.

                Unless of course we melt the permafrost, in which case we're utterly screwed.

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Waste

                  The Laptev Sea contenental shelf methane clathrate deposiits have been producing kilometre-wide surface plumes for the last 15 years (which was supposed to be "impossible" according to climate modellers. The methane was supposed to disslolve into the water column)

                  Every year that goes by, the ice on the seafloor gets more destabilised and eventually an earthquake will trigger a submarine slide on par with the Storegga one of 9000 years ago (that's the one that produced the North Sea Tsunami followed by 150-feet sea level rise over the following 3 centuries)

                  There's ~20Gigatonnes of carbon under Laptev and hundreds more gigatonnes scattered around the arctic

                  One or two clathrate blowouts is probably surviveable. More than that will push atmospheric CO2 high enough to make rain acidic and start killing off terrestial plantlife (about 800-900ppm), at which point it's "game over most complex life on the planet"

                  This has happened before. The end of the Permian era was marked with methane clathrate blowouts and CO2 doing the same thing. 95% of all life on earth was dead within a decade.

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Waste

                "CH4 is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2, just FYI."

                Many things are. Water vapor is the largest contributor since it's the largest volume. The persistence of CO2 can be the issue.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Waste

              I'm pretty sure the trees in my yard don't need "around 1,000 years" to absorb and use CO2. Not producing near as much of it in the first place is definitely the right way to go, not to mention not cutting down old-growth forest (think Amazon). But claiming that CO2 always sticks around for a thousand years is false.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Waste

                "not to mention not cutting down old-growth forest "

                Older forests aren't as good as a carbon sink as a young forest where the trees are growing fast. The arguments about not cutting down old forests is the disruptions to habitats of animals that have become very adapted to them.

              2. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: Waste

                > Not producing near as much of it in the first place is definitely the right way to go

                Yes because probably 99% of the CO2 we produce has come from fossil fuels or long-term captured carbon.

                Carbon capture is really about capturing the CO2 we released from fossil fuels, which hasn't been part of our atmosphere or environment for tens of millions of years.

            3. NeilPost Silver badge

              Re: Waste

              Reforest much of the planet.

              The UK was largely forested until large scale clearances during the Bronze Age … required due to poor agricultural practices, techniques and crops.

              30,000 hectares/115sq miles per annum of new trees/forests is the woefully pathetic UK wide target. It should be in the millions of hectares ballpark p.a.

              Parks, roadsides, motorway verges, scrub land, uplands, hedges, crucially in urban areas for cooling.l and to help bind land together for water retention.

              Tree’s are highly effective natural carbon capture and storage.

              Reforest Africa anyone??

            4. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: Waste

              "In order to prevent a relentless 1,000-year climb in global temperatures, it is now necessary to artificially extract CO2 and sequester the carbon back underground"

              Lol no. CO2 persists in the atmosphere and its effect is ongoing, but it isn't cumulative year on year. The amount of CO2 causing 1 degree of warming will continue to cause 1 degree of warming.

              That's why we talk about CO2 causing X degrees of warming, rather than X degrees per time period.

            5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              "CO2 persists naturally for around 1,000 years before it can be sucked out by plants."

              The official figures are between 300-1000 years.

              Unfortunately there are GHG's with lives of multiple 1000s of years.

              But let's go with CO2.

              If every single CO2 source stopped tomorrow, and we let "nature" take it's course we'd be back to background levels in >= 3 centuries

              During which those molecules would continue to do what they are doing. An enormous "chemical flywheel" that won't stop.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: "CO2 persists naturally for around 1,000 years before it can be sucked out by plants."

                "If every single CO2 source stopped tomorrow"

                Would that include us Humans, exhaling all that narsty C02 all willy-nilly and without so much as a by-your-leave?

                Did you know that each and evey greenaholic on the planet exhales over 5% CO2 with each breath that they take?

                1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                  Unhappy

                  Would that include us Humans,

                  Good question. Certainly some of the barking-mad "hard Green" loons would say so. The kind who believe the planet would be a new Garden of Eden, as long as there were no pesky humans in it.

                  Personally I'd say we were part of the "Natural background" level of CO2, however the fact world population has risen several billion since we had a "natural" background level does change things a bit.

                  "Did you know that each and evey greenaholic on the planet exhales over 5% CO2 with each breath that they take?"

                  I did, which is what puts the wrinkle in the "Natural background" level.

                  It would be interesting to see how many humans a normal size car is the equivalne to.

                2. cmdrklarg

                  Re: "CO2 persists naturally for around 1,000 years before it can be sucked out by plants."

                  No, it would not include humans. The CO2 exhaled by humans (and other lifeforms) is a closed loop.

                  The formerly sequestered stuff we are pulling out of the earth (oil, coal, gas) to burn is not.

          2. Geoff Campbell
            Boffin

            Re: Waste

            The problem with saying that "methane gets oxidised", is that the process of oxidising methane produces water vapour (no problem, although it is a greenhouse gas it will fall as rain) plus CO2. So once the methane has done its damage heating the atmosphere, it degrades into CO2 which carries on heating the atmosphere further.

            GJC

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Waste

              > it degrades into CO2 which carries on heating the atmosphere further.

              There's no "further" in the sense the two things are additive. It's either methane or its decomposed CO2 doing damage but not both together.

              (If it were then removing methane or CO2 directly from the air would have no effect.)

              1. Geoff Campbell
                Mushroom

                Re: Waste

                Yes, there is further. The methane heats the atmosphere while it exists. Once it has oxidised into CO2, that CO2 carries on heating the atmosphere, adding further heat into the system.

                You say "additive", I say "further". Same thing. Are you one of these that refuses to agree with something unless you first re-phrase it in your own words, in order to look like you've won?

                GJC

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Waste

          "missing from your analysis is the carbon dioxide and methane waste."

          As I see it, methane is burnable, and CO2 does nothing because [insert my usual CO2 argument here - if you want details and/or arguments about that, #ClimateChangeHoax]. So neither is a problem, In My Bombastic Opinion. And we can always plant trees...

          In any case, nuclear power IS an important source of electricity, and nuke waste in general IS a problem so it needs to be re-processed and dealt with somehow (not just left lying in piles or buried in concrete).

          I wonder - if you use radioactive steel to build more nuke power plants, wouldn't that be an effective means of recycling? The cobalt can be chemically removed. then it gets packed in concrete, but much less mass than "all of it". Slightly radioactive steel then becomes "a new power plant".

          NOTE: radiation exposed metals need re-forging after a while because of the long term effects of radiation, essentially embrittlement. SO rather than burying the whole damn plant, you recycle what you can.

      2. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: Waste

        The Integral Fast Reactor at the Dounreay Nuclear Power Development Establishment (NPDE) was showing promise there… latterly the Fast Breeder Reactor.

        Modern day developments are the molten salt reactor system. Another UK walking away from Research and back - in this case - to carbon emoting fuels…. The ‘Dash for Gas’….and eco wood chips Biomass from the USA.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Waste

          IFR, FBR and EBR all suffer from the same problem whrn you analyse fuel costs (They use HEU)

          $1 billion-plus/kg fuelling isn't economic by anyone's imagination, even with the energy ratio of fission

          (see my analysis elsewhere in the comments)

          File these under "solutions looking for a problem"

    3. Spazturtle

      Re: Waste

      Reprocess it, reuse it as fuel and then all you are left with is a small amount of short lifespan waste which you can bury or disperse in the sea. The amount we produce is tiny compared to the amount that naturally enters the sea from erosion of radioactive rocks.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Reprocess it, reuse it as fuel....you are left with is a small amount of short lifespan waste

        True.

        Strip out all the Pu and other TRU's, Cs and Sr (whic cause most of the heating and will be down to 1/1024 their inital levels in about 3 centuries) and the ability of long term was repositories goes up 204x

        That's 204 times their present capacity, not 204%.

    4. rwbthatisme

      Re: Waste

      But nuclear waste is the smallest problem, both physically and radioactively. Yes it needs to be kept safe and not discharged into the rivers and the sea and fly tipped on country lanes. But simple measure the amount of stuff coming from a reasonably sized plant and you'd find that you could probably pack it into a few shipping containers.

      Quick Wikipedia search;

      The amount of HLW worldwide is currently increasing by about 12,000 tonnes every year.A 1000-megawatt nuclear power plant produces about 27 t of spent nuclear fuel (unreprocessed) every year. For comparison, the amount of ash produced by coal power plants in the United States alone is estimated at 130,000,000 t per year and fly ash is estimated to release 100 times more radiation than an equivalent nuclear power plant.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Waste

        ".A 1000-megawatt nuclear power plant produces about 27 t of spent nuclear fuel (unreprocessed) every year"

        To put this in perspective that people can understand.

        Over the 60-year lifetime of a plant, it will produce enough waste to fill a single olympic size swimming pool

        By comparison an equivalent coal station will make a 60+ hectare coal ash lake

        The coal ash will be toxic forever whilst the nuclear waste will be less radioactive than Granite in 450 years or less

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Waste

        "you'd find that you could probably pack it into a few shipping containers."

        Too bad I can't post a photo here or I could upload one I got of a shipment. The trailer had 192 tyres, pulled by one HGV and pushed by another 2. It was parked up for the day as they only travel by night.

    5. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Waste

      A key feature of a nuclear reactor is the large number of neutrons needed so some of them split uranium or thorium into smaller things plus heat and more neutrons. One of the weaknesses of long term nuclear waste is that it absorbs neutrons and becomes short term waste which decays into stable isotopes and heat.

      If only there was some place near nuclear reactors that produce long term waste with a big supply of neutrons and the infrastructure to turn heat into electricity...

      What, you have an idea? No! That would be silly! Greenies insist we have to bury long term waste for centuries instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Waste

        Some people still think that recycling nuclear fuel = making plutonium for bombs.

        The 'no reprocessing' mantra also creates an artificial shortage of fuel so they can claim it is not viable long term.

        I'd love to know just how many hundreds (thousands?) of tons of spent magnox fuel is sat in the ponds at Sellafield as surely that would be a great source of new fuel. There must be a Gen IV reactor design that can run on spent magnox fuel.

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: Waste

          It's no great surprise that they think that way - the first generation of reactors (at least in the UK) were all Fast Breeders or MAGNOX where plutonium creation was by design, or in the case of the Fast Breeders, the end goal with electricity a by-product.

          There's still a lot of FUD surrounding power generation, most people for example think that pumped storage like the Cruachan Dam generates electricity where it is actually a net-user of electricity using off-peak energy to pump water to the upper reservoir to meet peak demand.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Waste

            I was quite surprised to see that pumped storage is >80% efficient.

            And of course they also forget that the cheap overnight electricity (that will also charge all the EVs) comes from thermal power stations which can't sensibly be turned off in such short order.

            Very few things in life are certain but one of them is that solar does not work at night.

            1. hoola Silver badge

              Re: Waste

              A point conveniently forgotten by all the people who believe that their "100% renewable" tariff only only supplies them from renewables.

              These tariffs have always been total greenwashing. I you are on one of these to be "green" then you should have a smart meter and when there is insufficient renewable input, are load limited or cut off.

              That would focus the minds of many of these people who believe that they are "green".

            2. adam 40 Silver badge

              thermal power stations which can't sensibly be turned off in such short order.

              Even this aspect of it I find ridiculous.

              Why not? Stop feeding it coal and close the air supply off, it will sit there hot for days, until you need more electricity.

              Seems like these things are not being designed effectively.

              1. steelpillow Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: thermal power stations which can't sensibly be turned off in such short order.

                The problem is that winding the heat up and down like a whore's drawers significantly reduces operating efficiency. Coal-fired power stations can be ramped up and down to some extent, but not that much. Especially, they cannot handle the very sudden peaks that come when everybody boils the tea kettle at half-time. The usual solution to such peak demands is gas turbines. These can beat the whore to the draw, but are more expensive to run.

                Nuclear can only be varied through a narrow range once it is going, but fiddling with the damping rods, but again that has an impact on the cost-efficiency; best to let run at max cruise speed.

                Renewables are of course fickle. Lacking any vast storage capacity, coal or nuclear is necessary to maintain night-time/calm weather supply, and gas turbines to supply that half-time cuppa. Renewables kind of slip in where they can and the others accommodate them up to a point, but moving from a renewables-assisted fossil economy to a fundamentally renewable economy is still awaiting that affordable mass storage breakthrough.

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: thermal power stations which can't sensibly be turned off in such short order.

                  "Nuclear can only be varied through a narrow range once it is going"

                  That depends on the nuclear. Designs with solid encapsulated fuel containers are subject to this issue, others are not

                  Most commercial operators run at full output all the time because it's the only way of even getting CLOSE to paying off the build/operating/shutdown costs.

                  France built its fleet to ensure energy supplies and independence in the aftermath of the OPEC shocks and load follow to some extent - they're less concerned about "commercial viability"

                  1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                    Re: thermal power stations which can't sensibly be turned off in such short order.

                    "Most commercial operators run at full output all the time because it's the only way of even getting CLOSE to paying off the build/operating/shutdown costs."

                    There isn't much of a savings to running at less than 100%. In some cases it's far cheaper to pay a large user such as a steel mill or casting company to put on some load.

                2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                  Re: thermal power stations which can't sensibly be turned off in such short order.

                  "moving from a renewables-assisted fossil economy to a fundamentally renewable economy is still awaiting that affordable mass storage breakthrough."

                  Or renewables to get so cheap that we can afford to use existing inefficient storage methods. If the energy inputs are cheap enough you can do direct synthesis of hydrocarbons from air, e.g. (That is about 5% efficient, so we'd need solar to come down to maybe 10% of current prices to be in the ballpark given there are additional advantages to synth oil.)

                  It seems more reasonable to expect the trend in that direction will continue for the fairly short time necessary to reach that stage than to try to predict when a radical breakthrough will appear.

                3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                  Unhappy

                  "Nuclear can only be varied through a narrow range once it is going,"

                  Depends what you mean by "slight amount"

                  One of th UK AGR's, during a power workers strike in the 70's, was cycled through 30-60% of full power on a daily basis*. France does all its load balencing and frequency setting using PWR's.

                  European Nuclear Power Plant operators have a shopping list for Next Gen PWRs (or any other kind really, if someone wants to step up). A key one is the ability to sweep up/down at 10% Full O/P Power/minute.

                  *AGR is ring shaped, which helps because the hottest part (the centre) is cored out. That's quite important because Uranium Dioxide is a very poor thermal conductor.

                  1. KBeee Silver badge

                    Re: "Nuclear can only be varied through a narrow range once it is going,"

                    There wasn't a power workers strike in the 70's. There was a miners strike which deprived the coal fired power stations of their fuel.

              2. Grinning Bandicoot

                Re: thermal power stations which can't sensibly be turned off in such short order.

                The turbine blades, rotor and housing can only take a certain amount of temperature change per unit of time. One unit that I know of is 1 megawatt per 15 minutes this being hotter steam has more energy to transfer to the turbine. Betcha did not realize that when a naval vessel moors it does not shut down its boilers because of the length of time a cold lite-off takes. I am sure some ex navy type here can give very specific numbers and per output from ship they'll match an equivalent shore unit.

                What it always appears to me that the Rules of Thermodynamics are being ignored in these "Green" projects.

                Remember this and use as your guide

                THERE AINT NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH

                TANSTAAL

          2. dajames Silver badge

            Re: Waste

            There's still a lot of FUD surrounding power generation, most people for example think that pumped storage like the Cruachan Dam generates electricity where it is actually a net-user of electricity using off-peak energy to pump water to the upper reservoir to meet peak demand.

            Actually, Cruachan claims to be 110% efficient. That is, the amount of electricity generation is 110% of the maximum possible from the water pumped into the dam because the water in the dam is augmented by run-off rainwater from the surrounding mountains.

            That's what they told me on the very interesting tour, anyway.

            1. Franco Silver badge

              Re: Waste

              Haven't been on the tour but I plan to, and also climb the 2 Munros that form the horseshoe around the reservoir. It may be that efficient now since it's been upgraded over time, when it was constructed it was actually intended to use the excess off-peak energy from Hunterston A (long since shut down) to keep the reservoir filled.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Waste

                That was back in the days when the state ran our power stations and there was some semblance of joined-up thinking about energy policy and long-term stability of supply.

            2. R Soul Bronze badge

              Re: Waste

              Actually, Cruachan claims to be 110% efficient.

              That doesn't mean it's true. If power stations were > 100% efficient, the world would have no energy generation problems and the laws of physics no longer apply.

              1. Solviva Bronze badge

                Re: Waste

                In a closed system the laws of physics apply such that you can not create or destroy energy, just change its form.

                A reservoir clearly is not a closed system - water freely flows into it from the sky/land (and evaporates too), therefore > 100% efficiency in terms of work done pumping some water up to the reservoir is less than the energy created by flowing more water than was pumped up, down again, is possible.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Some people still think that recycling nuclear fuel = making plutonium for bombs.

          Correct.

          This nonsense started with Gerald Ford in 1976 and was happily carried on by President James Carter*

          The plan is basically insane. A repository that will remain secure 2x as long as the entire written history of civilisation is just nuts.

          *TBF Carter was the only American president who actually helped clean up a real nuclear accident so how a bad design could go very bad, very fast (IIRC 20MW steady state -->3GW pulse lasting less than 1 sec. Killed all 4 operators and a nurse on the rescue team :-( )

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Waste

          "I'd love to know just how many hundreds (thousands?) of tons of spent magnox fuel is sat in the ponds at Sellafield"

          It's better to think in terms of volume. The stuff is denser than lead!

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Waste

        I recall that the UK had the potential to lead the world on nuclear fuel reprocessing.........

        THORP.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Waste

          Yes, but boy did BNFL screw the pooch with it... Too much low-level waste was simply flushed into the Irish Sea, to which Ireland and Isle of Man (rightfully so) objected. Then there were the cockups of things being left to rust away, break, release highly radioactive materials into spaces from where said materials couldn't be removed/retrieved, and just a generally bad management practice. It's the THORP plant that is costing an arm and a leg to decommission and decontaminate, not the rest of the WindscaleSellafield site.

          That said though, many countries did send their stuff to the UK because we did know how to chemically strip out the actinides that didn't help the nuclear fission process.

          Sadly, it turns out that the fast breeder reactors that were so popular in the fifties and sixties (primarily to make plutonium to make things go boom with) were actually the ideal design (with modifications of course) to have a much less wasteful/messy nuclear power generation industry, because they were designed to burn through a lot of the material, which, once reprocessed, had less of a bad half-life (think tens instead of thousands of years in decay half-life) than the modern enriched uranium designs (because everyone panicked about plutonium).

          1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            Re: Waste

            There was also that unfortunate business of the quality control technicians who, instead of measuring the new fuel pellets as they were produced, simply used a spreadsheet to apply some plausible noise to a one-off measurement. The only customers, in Japan, found out very quickly, the pellets was rejected, THORP's reputation was shot and, I heard, the two people responsible had to leave Cumbria permanently for their own safety.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Waste

              "quality british workmanship"

              Were they BL management in a past job?

          2. erst

            Re: Waste

            If they were the ideal design, I’m sure we would have seen more such reactors than the light water reactors that we currently have.

            I think the breeder reactors are riddled with complexity that makes them more difficult to operate safely. For example using molten sodium as coolant instead of water sounds much more dangerous. And the need to cycle fuel around in the reactor and out to the reprocessing plant more frequently than in an LWR creates opportunity for even more problems. Look up the history of the Monju reactor for examples of both of these.

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: Waste

              Having to cycle out the fuel often was only a measure to prevent the breeder from burning up the material it was designed to make - plutonium. If the breeder was let to run through (and go from uranium to plutonium to other actinides), you wouldn't need to cycle through fuel all the time. Yes, unfortunately, things like metallic sodium (and even metal salts) were not that great a moderator to use. Water is better, it can be controlled.

              The current designs (based on light water) and their predecessors came online when it became known that the Republic of Congo (well, its predecessor, the Belgian Congo, really) was not the only source of uranium (which at the time was rarer than hen's teeth - read the history of the Manhattan Project and its progeny sometime). Once uranium oxide could be mined and refined (and then subsequently enriched) faster and more effectively, there was no need to breed more fuel. You could just... burn through that, and then send your fuel rods to be reprocessed (to remove plutonium, which is the bad bad actinide that you weren't allowed to have - for obvious reasons), and then take your new fuel rods and plug them back in.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Waste

                "Water is better, it can be controlled"

                Water can't be used if you want to make supercritical steam to feed your turbines(*)

                The viability of the thermal side of your plant cannot be ignored. This low input temperature is why water-moderated nuclear plants are insanely expensive to maintain (most of the cost is in the non-nuclear side, not the reactor)

                (*) Think about it - if you want to make water at the triple point for your turbines, then you have water at the triple point inside your reactor vessel == VOIDS - not such a good thing when water is your moderator.

                Using a circulating coolant which boils well below the ~1150C limiting temperature of fission reactions is a bad idea from a safety point of view. Using one which explodes on contact with water or burns uncontrollably on contact with air is also a bad move

                Nuclear design is full of examples of "Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you SHOULD", where secondary safety takes a back seat to "gee, shiny!" or designs which are clearly intended to simply soak up money and practicality isn't a consideration

            2. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Waste

              > I’m sure we would have seen more such reactors than the light water reactors that we currently have.

              No, design doesn't really matter, it was still nuclear and politicians didn't want to approach the public/voters and since the energy problem will only happen some decades down the road, they simply kicked the nuclear energy ball down the road...

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Waste

            FBRs assume a weapons cycle

            There are other ways which don't NEED heavy reprocessing.

            We're locked into cycles and setup which is entirely fixated on products revolving around weapons production

            Step back from that to first principles and it gets a lot easier/cheaper/simpler

            The problem is that providing the means to divorce civil nuclear power from weaponsmaking dependencies also provides the means to remove the dual-purpose exemptions from limitation treaties that production facilities currently enjoy.

            Cold Warriors ensured that anything risking that path was killed. These days the FUD path is chosen, but proliferation claims seem odd when they're objecting to 1-5% of the risk of CURRENT technologies...

            1. dajames Silver badge

              Re: Waste

              FBRs assume a weapons cycle

              No, not really ... FBRs assume that you have a need for more fissile material, that could be for weapons but could also be for power stations.

              235U can be used for bombs, just as 239Pu can. So long as you have a source of suitable fissile material with sufficient putity you can make a bomb. you don't t need a FBR.

              Yes, initially, FBRs were interesting because Uranium was thought to be scarce and governments wanted fissile material for bombs. Nowadays we know that Uranium is relatively plentiful and inexpensive, and the interest in breeder reactors is that they can be used to more thoroughly consume nuclear fuel and so reduce (somewhat) the hazards associated with radioactive waste.

          4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            FAIL

            Sadly, it turns out that the fast breeder reactors..so popular in the fifties and sixties...

            Seriously, you have no idea of the actual history.

            None.

            Magnox was modelled on the Hanford Piles for Pu production.

            BTW it's operating temperating temperature was still higher than that of todays PWR's.

            The CEGB went along with the plan because HMG would buy Pu off them at £2000/Kg.*

            *At a time when you could buy a house for £400.

        2. Lars Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Waste

          The French reprocessing site is apparently doing well since 1976

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Hague_site

          "La Hague has nearly half of the world's light water reactor spent nuclear fuel reprocessing capacity."

          And there is the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant in Japan perhaps opening production.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rokkasho_Reprocessing_Plant

          And some other too around the world

    6. TVU

      Re: Waste

      This waste matter has already been solved by Sweden and Finland jointly working together. It basically comprises encasement in bentonite clay and large copper casks followed by deep burial (0.5km) in stable and suitable geological formations.

      1. Xalran

        Re: Waste

        yes, but it's not given to every country to have access to a nice stable geological craton like the Kola Peninsula one.

        What can be done in Finland and Sweden can't be done in UK, France, Germany, Japan or USA...

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Waste

          France has the Pyranees, which are very stable

          1. Xalran

            Re: Waste

            nope, the Pyrénées are définitely NOT stable, it's actually one of the earthquake prone area of France. It's riddled with massive faults ( SPF and NPF comes to mind ), at one point it was the *tectonic* rotation point of Spain and right now Spain is trying to plow it's way through the mountains.

            Look up the geological definition of a craton... no earthquake, no fault, no fold, no sedimentary rock.

        2. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Waste

          "What can be done in Finland and Sweden can't be done in .....".

          No that is not true at all, there are plenty of stable areas around the world for that purpose.

          It is as always, just about making a decision and agreeing on who will pay for it.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYpiK3W-g_0

          Finland Might Have Solved Nuclear Power’s Biggest Problem

          1. Xalran

            Re: Waste

            yes, but not in UK, France, Germany, Japan...

            I din't mention Australia, Canada or USA because they do have geological cratons, and there's lots of them in Africa too... and in Asia...

            but are the European countries willing to send their waste in say Zimbabwe ( there's a nice craton there ) ?

        3. Fr. Ted Crilly

          Re: Waste

          You dont thing the granite pluton underneath Devon, Corwall and on out to the Scillys is big enough then?

          1. Xalran

            Re: Waste

            It's not a craton... It's the remnant of the Cadomian Orogenesis.

            a craton is something that has been stable for one or more GA... ( billion years )

    7. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Waste

      The single biggest problem with fossil fuels is CO2 and that is also proving very difficult and expensive to deal with. The think with low-level radioactive waste (and it really does cover some very low-level stuff) is that you can see it so everyone honks on about it.

      With CO2 you cannot see it. If CO2 was emitted as a brightly coloured gunk that covered everything in sight then rather more effort would have been made to contain it. As it is, a colourless, odourless gas that is totally invisible and the impact of it is not seen directly at the point of use has been one of the huge anomalies.

      That the reality is that CO2, and to a certain extent now the resulting release of methane (a much worse greenhouse gas) is actually causing far more damage to the environment than nuclear power generation ever did passes too many of the "Nuclear Bad" movement by.

      Just why the heck so many plants were decommissioned after the Fukushima/Tsunami disaster when they were in locations that the sequence of events that caused it, where not remotely feasible is a question people are unable be answer.

      Those governments should be doing some serious navel-gazing to try and figure out how to extricate themselves from the current situation and why they are in it.

    8. Shadowmanx2012
      Thumb Up

      Re: Waste

      Your point is valid however there are ways to minise its impact on the environment http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2018/ph241/rubio1/

    9. _Elvi_

      Re: Waste

      .. Let the Orange Haired Klown take it all home, put it in his basement.

      He can declare it "Non Radioactive" as he Is the grand Poo-Bahh..

    10. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Waste

      If it's low level, then who cares? Move to Aberdeen and eat a bananana it's more radiactive.

      If it's high level, again, who cares, by the very definition of it being high level radiactive it's only radiactive for a very short time, so again, who cares, it'll be gone before you notice.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Waste

        Bury it on the moon. What could go wrong?

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Waste

          We will be blasted back to Space 1999!

      2. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

        Re: Waste

        " by the very definition of it being high level radiactive it's only radiactive for a very short time"

        Only on a per atom basis, otherwise that's very wrong. High level waste can still have a half life of many 1000s of years.

    11. Snowy Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Waste

      The great green revolution is a lie, where recycle was quite often export to be burning or buried, or just dumped which just meant it ended up in the sea.

  3. F. Frederick Skitty

    I agree with the thrust of this article, but to say Chernobyl only resulted in less than a hundred deaths is disingenuous. Those who have died earlier than they otherwise would have, because of the radiation released, probably number in the thousands.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Which is a very small number compared to those who have died early due to air pollution from burning coal and oil.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Wikipedia has a lengthy article on it.

      Short version: Death from the immediate incident: 30. Deaths from the longer term issue. No agreed number but estimates are in the range 4,000 - 16,000, with one estimate going as high as 60,000.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And of course the main point is that the reasonable upper estimates of additional deaths from Chernobyl are still massively smaller than the equivalent number of additional deaths we'd have seen from burning coal in that part of eastern Europe for decades instead.

        Even at its worst nuclear is still by a huge margin the safest form of energy generation we have.

        Even wind kills more.

        Wind!

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        How many people died at Banquio?

        I'll save you the trouble: 26,000 to 240,000, probably the higher figure being the accurate one

        How many people died in the Tsunami that CAUSED Fukushima?

        I'll save you the trouble again: about 26,000 - including 3 at the plant

        Estimates for Chernobyl back in the 1980s haven't been borne out by statistics and the firefighters' health problems have mainly been caused by a perception that radioactivity is contagious, so being treated like pariahs by the medical establishment and not getting looked after as they aged

        Revised estimates for Chernobyl put it around 76 at the time and about 300-500 in the long term

        Incidentally, one of the more interesting parts about the thyroid scanning undertaken in the wake of Chernobyl is that similar precursor/abnormality levels were found in unrelated scanning in Korea several years BEFORE Chernobyl

        Correlation is not causality and if you go looking for something you've never sought out before, it's a good idea to actually have a control population

    3. sebacoustic

      Lots of people died after Fukushima disaster, but mostly because old geezers were moved off the plot their family had farmed for generations, out of "an abundance of caution". This sort of thing kills people, more so than a few extra bequerel. Basically, killed by fear.

    4. MrBanana Silver badge

      I'm still very disappointed by the number of mutated superheroes/villains that have been created by Chernobyl. We should be awash with them by now. But not even a fish with three eyes.

      1. Twanky Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Superheroes

        Tsk. You can't see them 'cos they're invisible.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "not even a fish with three eyes"

        Look downstream of coal-burning power stations...

        Chemicals are far more potent mutagens than radiation will ever be

    5. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      The science on the subject leans strongly towards the idea that the evacuation of Pripyat caused more harm - loss of life years - through psychological trauma and breakup of support networks than radiation would have done. Ultimately, even the quite high levels of radiation in the area around Chernobyl* are low enough that the increased incidence of cancer when spending a lifetime there is low.

      *There are hotspots, etc. I mean the larger exclusion zone as a whole.

      The radiation release from Fukushima is considered by the experts to have caused no increase in cancer rates in the general population. Some plant workers were affected by very high radiation levels locally, but none of the inhabitants of the area.

      Aberfan was much worse than any nuclear incident except Chernobyl, and it doesn't even rate notice on the global scale of coal-related deaths. Piper Alpha similarly for oil and gas.

  4. b0llchit Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Where can I find the "sponsored by" tag?

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Why the downvotes? He is so absolutely correct!

      Get solar, people. Put 10 kw or 30 kw on your roof, and you will still have 1 kw to 3 kw even on a very cloudy day.

      Above 200W per m² is normal, 300W per m² will be broken by common solar panels soon and over 450W per m² is already broken in the lab - 47,6% to be exact, with Greetings from Germany.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Does Germany get 24/7 sunshine?

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          As I wrote: Install ten times your need, and you get what you need on a cloudy day. Not new knowledge.

          However, if you still pick on the old "oh, and what about the night" thing you are over a century behind when it comes to technology to store energy big style. But you choose to do so, while still using computers at the same time, so there is nothing I can do about it.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            However, if you still pick on the old "oh, and what about the night" thing you are over a century behind when it comes to technology to store energy big style.

            You come from the country of neo-Luddites, and many of your countryfolk will probably die in misery come winter time. Many more will just suffer in misery.

            I'm sure you'll be ok though.

            So what do people without roofs, or roof access do? And how much will your energy storage cost?

            But you're German. The country that is over 1,000 years behind, thanks to it's dependence on windmills, and their associated gas. Why did Germany decide to shut down it's nuclear power? Fear of tsunamis wasn't it? Or just fear of not getting enough Green votes to stay in power..

          2. Wellyboot Silver badge

            You suggest putting 150M2 (30kw @ 0.2kw/m2 ) of solar panels on a property and what else, tonnes of battery to store the power needed for winter? total cost over £250k? half the population can't afford the projected £4k annual gas/electric costs coming soon.

            Take a look at the average UK house size, even the best prototype panels (@0.47kw/m2) won't fit, let alone on the south facing side.

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Up to 30 kw. Put up whatever you can, like a few panels to your balcony. And enjoy how how interesting it suddenly gets to see the energy coming in.

              For the rest: Hey, we in Germany have over 50% renewable quite a few times in the year. If the stupid politics would not have blocked it with nonsense bureaucrazy, in favour of russia and the big energy companies, we would be much further.

              Rest is: Wind-park in north sea, wind-parks in appropriate places on land, wave energy, and you know, normal water power still exists too.

              And if you want to protect your crops from too much sun, use vertical panels on fields, and normal panels above strawberry fields... The German farmers love it and would have already done it if not for the bureaucrazy. And you know farmers: They know how to calculate. As soon as it works they are in.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                For the rest: Hey, we in Germany have over 50% renewable quite a few times in the year.

                It's those times of the year when you don't that are the problem. Like the UK's been experiencing for the last few days-

                https://gridwatch.co.uk/Wind

                minimum: 0.29 GW maximum: 13.885 GW average: 3.506 GW

                For the month to date. Meanwhile, here in the UK-

                https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2022/08/15/were-short-of-power-in-summer-now/

                A second GB Capacity Market Notice (CMN) of Summer 2022 was issued on the 11th August at 13:34, as National Grid’s forecast of surplus capacity over the evening peak fell below the required 500MW 4 hours ahead of delivery.

                Naturally enough, the other CMN was during the other heatwave for the same reason. Long lasting high pressure over much of the UK, and Europe. Strange the way that we're told that only 'renewables' can help fight global warming, yet they're the final solutions most vulnerable to the 'extreme' weather we're told we're experiencing.

                (anyone know if the heat related performance degradation leads to permanent degradation for solar PV?)

                ps.. this is classic-

                https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11076331/Hull-wind-turbine-catches-fire-sends-acrid-black-smoke-billowing-city.html

                Flames can be seen completely engulfing the turbine's blades and residents have been advised to close their windows while the fire is tackled.

                The 125m-tall (410ft) source of renewable energy is in the north of the city close to the Croda chemicals manufacturing site.

                Just what you want during a heatwave, burning debris from our new follys falling next to a chemical plant..

                1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                  Joke

                  Nothing like fanning the flames.

                2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  "Flames can be seen completely engulfing the turbine's blades"

                  Which will soon enough end up reminding people why there's a 2 mile habitation clearance zone around large windmills....

                3. genghis_uk

                  Always the problem with wind power - the time you need it most is the time you don't get any.

                  High pressure gives clear skies and little to no wind. In summer it's very hot so air-con use increases, in winter it's very cold so heating increases... You're going to need a huge amount of storage to hold Spring/Autumn energy or use something else.

                  Solar is potentially at its best in high pressure situations but Winter is still an issue if you only get a few hours of sunlight (<6hours in Scotland - about 7 in England)

                  Let's face it, renewables are not here yet. They may get there when storage improves but in the meantime, we need Nukes to keep the lights on.

              2. Wellyboot Silver badge

                I've 4kw of panels on my south facing roof*, it saves me perhaps 1,000kwh in a year which even now is barely £1 per day give or take.

                For a few hours around every midday over the summer I'm able to use any electric appliance in my house - apart from the electric shower & oven, they'll burn 12 & 8kw respectively.

                *Previous owner swallowed the 'free electric' line and handed over all the FIT payments in return for a zero cost install.

              3. jmch Silver badge

                You're right, anyone who can install some solar capacity should, its at the point where its worth it. But not everyone can, and we still require baseload, which is better produced by nuclear than fossil fuels.

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  You're better off with solar-thermal water heating and even that's barely worthwhile

                  At some point solar PV installations are going to end up as "batteries mandatory" and that'll be the final straw for most of them

              4. Binraider Silver badge

                You do realise how big 30kW is in terms of roof take?

                Normal people dont live in mansions. My 2 bed semi I can barely get 2.4kW of solar installed at most. And that's still got a rather large price tag linked to it.

                Obviously, it's better than nothing, especially times every property, but not even remotely on the scale you suggest.

              5. Martin
                FAIL

                Downvoted for your use of the oh-so-clever-and-funny bureaucrazy - not once but twice.

            2. Dagg

              £250k

              Not sure where you get your costings from. But here in australia most installations ate about 6-10kw at about $6k so 30kw of cells would be about $30k and batteries are a similar cost per kw. so for a 30kw system (which BTW is extremely massive) would cost about $60k AUD about £35k.

              Also not sure why you would need 30kw as here in aus most installation are around 6kw

              1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                Jou (Mxy.. came up with 30kw, that's valid* to provide power for 24h from the 6-8 or so usable sunny ones.

                £250k is for the battery farm and the small field of panels needed to generate & store that power during the summer months.

                Like AUS, most UK home installs are around the 4kw mark and at similar (sub £10k) cost, these generate enough power midday to cover 'most' home activities, overall they add up to not needing another GW scale gas/coal power plant operating during office hours for maybe half the year.

                Winter heating in a UK home is in the order of 50kwh per day, it's utterly unfeasible to attempt that on site with solar this far North.

                *if you're careful.

            3. Alan Brown Silver badge

              My rooftop faces north - and it's only 60m^2 anyway

              Let's not forget the hydrofluric acid waste problem threatening the potable water and farmland for at least 20 million people (possibly as high as 100 million depending how far it spreads) thanks to Solar PV manufacture

          3. rg287

            you are over a century behind when it comes to technology to store energy big style.

            I’m not sure what your definition of “big style” is - maybe pumped hydro providing 1728MW for 4 hours at full chat to cover TV pickups and evening peaks. Those facilities are impressive. Incredible engineering. But they don’t really cover normal usage for a day. The numbers above are from Dinorwig which can run itself dry in about 5hours (9.1GWh, peak output 1.728 GW).

            They’re a drop in the ocean compared with a full day’s demand. We can flood a lot of valleys and artificial lakes, store up a good few days requirement. And when the wind goes flat… it still won’t be enough. Not to supply energy dense industry or London.

            We have no good ways of storing enough energy to provide many GW of power continuously for 14days if the wind goes flat for a prolonged period. A nuclear plant can produce that much. Easily. That’s what it’s designed for. The storage involved in saving up the equivalent of 10-14days of Hinckley C’s output would involve flooding half of Wales. It’s a mind-blowing amount of energy. And then you need the surplus production to charge that storage whilst also supplying live demand. Battery tech doesn’t even move the needle on those scales. Some of the compressed air stuff is interesting but definitely not mature at those scales yet (albeit there are some pilot plants in production in the UK, and they can go anywhere - not reliant on hilly geography).

            Storage is no replacement for reliable generating capacity. Get 10-15GW of nuclear online and we’ll be in a position to mostly shut off gas except maybe in January, and rely on nuclear and renewables - with storage providing a realistic topping-up capability.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Storage is no replacement for reliable generating capacity. Get 10-15GW of nuclear online and we’ll be in a position to mostly shut off gas except maybe in January, and rely on nuclear and renewables - with storage providing a realistic topping-up capability.

              Yep. Challenge we have is the timescales needed to catch up, especially given the increases in demand. Some of that is poltical though, so governments could delay or scrap EV and gas heating/cooking mandates to reduce electricity demand until we've got a supply infrastructure to match.

              SMRs potentially can speed up adding new nuclear capacity, but otherwise reactors take a long time to build. Some policy changes to planning regs might speed that up given there's a lot of delays and costs imposed by Greens objecting to anything nuclear out of general principle.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                "SMRs potentially can speed up adding new nuclear capacity, but otherwise reactors take a long time to build."

                MSRs don't require stupidly large/expensive containment vessels and buildings as they don't need to contain a steam explosion. Build cost for a 3000MWt design is estimated at 80% lower than current nuclear designs 5 years or less to complete one and - most importantly - the ability to fabricate most parts on a production line

                SMRs are only being proposed "Because they're British!" - they're a bloody stupid idea

                1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                  Unhappy

                  "SMRs are only being proposed "Because they're British!" - they're a bloody stupid idea"

                  If you're talking about the one RR are punting, based on their nuclear submarine power plant experience, then yes, it is bloody stupid. It's now about as big as the AGR's that the UK built.

                  Without their substantially larger efficiency.

                  It's basically a cash cow for construction and concrete companies with p**s-poor thermal efficienicies.

                  A reall SMR would be around 250MW and operate at temperatures that could leverage OTS steam turbine technology around 600-625c (the Merkins stayed at 538 because of that cheap, bad coal they have in W. Virginia).

                  Actually if you dumped the water and used a much lower pressure RPV the main components of a PWR (the fuel and Zirconium rods) can operate at much higher temperatures.

                  And they've already gone through all the qualification processes, making them very "Regulator friendly"

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              "A nuclear plant can produce that much"

              A _SAFE_ nuclear plant could be located similarly to Battersea and provide district heating too.

              water-moderated solid fuelled designs were a laboratory glassware proof-of-concept, not an industrially-safe scaleable prototype - and most non-water-moderated designs currently in use are built around repurposed weaponsmaking processes, not purpose-built civil power designs

              The USA's only purpose-built, proliferation-resistant design intended from the outset for scalable civii power generation was stomped on in 1972 because it was "too sucessful" in testing

            3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              "We have no good ways of storing enough energy to provide many GW of power continuously for 14days"

              Apart from a big pile of coal, an oil storage depot, etc :)

          4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            technology to store energy big style.

            Not really.

            The biggest "battery" on the planet can manage 300MW for 4 hours.

            That's it.

            That's all you get.

            It's not even a single night. And the UK power output is roughly 75 000 MW.

            People who talk about this really don't know the scale of what they are asking

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: technology to store energy big style.

              "The biggest "battery" on the planet can manage 300MW for 4 hours."

              I think the best way to go is to have a system that uses EV's. If EV's take off even more, it means a widely distributed backup battery that's feeding the grid evenly as needed and thereby cutting down on transmission losses and burn-outs by the power company not properly auditing how the network is functioning near to a very large scale battery. It can also mean that our rates aren't going to go way up to pay for all of those shipping containers full of batteries. There will also be the materials available to make those EV batteries too rather than all going to the utilities.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And what do you do at 6pm in the UK on Friday the 23rd of December this year and there's a large high pressure system sitting over the UK?

        Sunset is at 3.58.

        Windspeeds are low with large high pressure systems. It's cold. It's dark.

        It's the highest demand time of day, people have the heating on, they're cooking dinner, they've got the TV and the lights on and you're out of renewable generating capacity.

        What do you do if you're National Grid?

        That's right, you spin up the gas turbines.

        Lower cost or more efficient solar panels will do nothing for you at that point.

        Solar contributed a total of 0% of the UK's energy mix in Dec 2021 according to National Grid, vs 7.3% in June:

        https://www.nationalgrideso.com/electricity-explained/electricity-and-me/great-britains-monthly-electricity-stats

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          That's right, you spin up the gas turbines.

          Which, courtesy of the solar and wind energy the rest of the time, aren't used for a fraction of the time they otherwise would be.

          This is not an either-or game; it's a question of maximising resources.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            The South Australian power cuts were a direct result of a short-term failure in wind being too short for the operators to make enough money to pay for firing up the OCGTs - so they didn't fire up the OCGTs (until someone agreed to pay the bill, 6 hours later)

            In addition merely HAVING the backup generators is a huge expense. They don't exist in some kind of stasis field until needed and are a high maintenance item which needs to be tested regularly

        2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          "Lower cost or more efficient solar panels will do nothing for you at that point."

          Not at that point, exactly. They will have provided sufficient energy to synthesise gas at other times, though, if the energy they produce is cheap enough.

          Despite all the hype around, coming from the proponents of every system and none, solar panels keep getting cheaper the way processors did - which isn't surprising, because they're very similar. The trend can't continue forever, but if it keeps going for another decade or so there will be a clear winner.

          Solar panels dropped from $2/watt in 2010 to ~$0.35/watt in 2020. Repeat that again by 2030 and we'll be looking at $0.05/watt. You can waste power on inefficient conversions at that point.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "Solar panels dropped from $2/watt in 2010 to ~$0.35/watt in 2020."

            I can find used panels in my area with low mileage for $.20-$.25/watt. What I need to get done is put a hitch on the car and buy a small trailer as getting the panels from the seller to my house is where it all goes oblong. The cost to rent a pickup or small van is too much added expense.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Put 10 kw or 30 kw on your roof,"

        Which is fine if you have a roof. The amount of roof on a multi-story block of flats isn't going to provide a big share per flat.

        1. jwatkins

          The external cladding for a block of flats could be solar panels. Lots of surface area...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Get solar, people. Put 10 kw or 30 kw on your roof

        The Solar industry is quoting 200W/m2 for a south facing roof in the southern UK. Just how f*cking big is your house?

        A big 5 bedroom house is lucky to provide 40m2 one one side of the gable. What percentage are south facing? Even with the improvements your quoting 30kw is going to require providing everyone in the country with a free mansion.

      5. Alistair
        Windows

        single family dwelling vs apartment/condo counts anyone

        Give us an idea of how many batteries you'll need in a 32 story condo please.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: single family dwelling vs apartment/condo counts anyone

          Tesla megapacks will put out 1.5Mw for a couple of hours*, they're the size of an ISO shipping container and weigh in at 23 tonnes each. 12 units will give 24h of power and to recharge from Solar will require another 36 units and 72Mw of south facing solar panels.

          Batteries : 48 ISO containers 1100 tonnes. (72Mwh total capacity)

          Panels : 360,000 m2 or more than a third of a square kilometre.

          1.5Mw output allows a touch under 47kw per floor.

          This is based on a very optimistic 8 hours per day of max sunshine and 200w/m2 panels keeping a few hours of capacity in reserve. Near the equator it may be possible to be off grid all year, in the UK not a chance over winter.

          Total cost - eye watering.

          From here for home sized units;

          https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/solar-panels/article/solar-panels/solar-panel-battery-storage-a2AfJ0s5tCyT#batterytable

          £5,000 gets you 8kwh capacity at 4kw output (2h runtime), and take up a quarter of a cubic meter. To cook your Xmas turkey you'd need two running together for an average electric oven draw, a third one would let you use an electric hob for the veg but do you really want half a tonne of Lithium battery inside your house?

          *Recharge is at the same rate.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: single family dwelling vs apartment/condo counts anyone

            Once you eliminate gas heating, how much battery capacity will you need?

            This is the problem that all the chancers pushing renwables keep (deliberately) glossing over

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: single family dwelling vs apartment/condo counts anyone

              "Once you eliminate gas heating, how much battery capacity will you need?"

              Electrical battery or thermal battery? Solar PV is very flexible if you only have so much roof, but if you are using electricity to make heat, it's far less expensive to put in a solar-thermal system with a way to dump excess solar PV production into the heat reservoir.

  5. TheSirFin

    Bang On - except the death stats

    This is a very good article and the thrust is bang on the money .... its where my head has been head as been at since I became semi-cognizant.

    I agree with everything in here.... and I was about to "out" myself to my green friends by sharing this article with them .... but I cannot, as the stats around nuclear deaths - which I really cannot believe, as you have to factor longer term or attributable deaths/suffering - undermine the rest of the article.

    Clean that bit up, and mention how the volume of waste is significantly reduced with the new designs, and how it can be dealt with ... and then you have a article that I would happily share far and wide!

    Great first draft .... cheers!

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Bang On - except the death stats

      @TheSirFin

      This is a great book, presented by a couple of pro-nuclear Greenpeace guys. https://climategamble.net/

      In it, they explain how the Linear No Threshold model, used by the regulators for predicting harm caused by low-level radiation exposure, is completely wrong and has no scientific basis. There is no evidence to say that low levels of radiation cause harm, in fact it seems to be more likely the other way round- that low levels of radiation can actually be beneficial. Background radiation has existed the entire time that life has been on earth, after all. Nanopoarticulates and other modern day pollutants, not so much.

      But even if radiation were the issue, the fossil fuel industry emits far more of it than the nuclear industry anyway!

      See my earlier post on the subject:

      https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2022/08/11/nuclear_molten_salt/#c_4511213

      1. Twanky Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Bang On - except the death stats

        '...used by the regulators for predicting harm... ...is completely wrong and has no scientific basis...'

        If only our regulators (governments and civil service) would make decisions with sound scientific bases - and even re-examine past decisions.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bang On - except the death stats

          You could say that they do - look at when they said diesel was less harmful than petrol!

          I think it depends on which scientists you talk to - and probably who has the money!

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            It's all in the questions asked, and the ones that politicos decided to use in the late 80's.

            Is burning less hydrocarbon fuel a good thing - Yes

            Do diesel vehicles burn less per mile than petrol - Yes - ergo diesel is good for the environment.

            Now please ignore the several books worth of verified science pointing out that just by using fossil based fuel we're mucking up the planet.

            1. adam 40 Silver badge

              Re: Bang On - except the death stats

              However, petrol cars emit particles of platinum as their catalysts degrade over time.

              Hence the epidemic of asthma in our cities.

              1. adam 40 Silver badge
                Pirate

                Re: Bang On - except the death stats

                Oh - and palladium too, downvoters...

                https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10836351/

      2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Bang On - except the death stats

        The Economist did a piece on Nuclear Energy back in June. Their figures for deaths (from accidents or air pollution) per TWh of energy produced from 1990-2014 were roughly:

        * Coal: 25

        * Oil: 18

        * Biomass: 4

        * Natural Gas: 3

        * Hydro: 1.5 (including the Banqiao Dam collapse in 1975)

        * Wind: 0.04

        * Nuclear: 0.03 (including Chernonbyl in 1986)

        * Solar: 0.02

        1. VoiceOfTruth

          Re: Bang On - except the death stats

          Yes yes. And how about the 1,000 square mile exclusion zone around Chernobyl. Can you point to me something similar with regards to coal? Or the dumping of nuclear pollution into the ocean at Fukushima?

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            You make a good point. Coal power stations don't create such vast natural habitats that are resistant to human development and spoiling.

            The Chernobyl exclusion zone has been a massive wildlife success story.

            1. VoiceOfTruth

              Re: Bang On - except the death stats

              The nuclear industry - painting a catastrophe as a plus. There you go.

            2. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Bang On - except the death stats

              And as for the eight legged Ukranian chicken industry... I mean, we all love a chicken leg, right? There's a plus!

          2. Casca

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            You have no clue about how much landmass the earth has or how much water the pacific have? Look up "dilution"...

            1. VoiceOfTruth

              Re: Bang On - except the death stats

              Nuclear waste is not diluted. It exists as particles wherever it washes up. Don't confuse dumping poison into the ocean as dilution.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Bang On - except the death stats

                You really do have absolutely no idea what any of those words mean.

          3. cyberdemon Silver badge
            Devil

            Exclusion Zone

            An exclusion zone is an entirely arbitrary, man-made concept. It is perfectly safe to live there, as demonstrated by the wildlife that have taken up residence and are flourishing in the absence of humans. There are literally birds nesting inside the exploded reactor core at chernobyl, they have been there for decades.

            No, they are not mutants, as much as the FUD brigade would have you believe.

            The problem with radioactivity is that it is invisible yet incredibly easily detectable down to the most minute level, which makes it scary. Nanoparticulate carbon, benzenes, fluorinated gases etc are all just as carcinogenic if not moreso, but they cannot be detected without a mass-spectrometer, which is a much bigger machine than a geiger-counter, and it has to ingest the material to test it whereas a geiger-counter can see radiation a long way off.

            It is the fear of radiation, rather than its inherent danger, that creates exclusion zones.

            And it is extremely easy for vested interests like the fossil fuel industry (who BTW are coining hundreds of billions a month thanks to the hole in our energy supply left by early closures, late construction or outright cancellations of nuclear plants) to spread fear about radiation and nuclear power amongst the population.

            1. VoiceOfTruth

              Re: Exclusion Zone

              -> It is perfectly safe to live there

              The whole nuclear lobby should be forced to live there, eating sea food caught off Fukushima.

              Now, why don't you take the first step. Go and live there.

              1. dajames Silver badge

                Re: Exclusion Zone

                Now, why don't you take the first step. Go and live there.

                What? Are you crazy? It's in a warzone!

              2. This post has been deleted by its author

              3. Solviva Bronze badge

                Re: Exclusion Zone

                And the wind turbine lobbyists should lead the way with a full size turbine in their back yards.

                1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                  Coat

                  "And the wind turbine lobbyists should lead the way"

                  Fun fact about offshore UK wind turbines.

                  Each 5MW generator is as big as the Blackpool Tower at 150m

                  Which is a 1/2 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower.

                  Funny how when they show pictures of them they never feature a single human next to them for the scale is it not?

                  And just 200 of them to equal the average size UK power station.

                2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Exclusion Zone

                  "And the wind turbine lobbyists should lead the way with a full size turbine in their back yards."

                  I'd love to put a small one up at my house, but the city doesn't allow them.

              4. Denarius Silver badge
                Trollface

                Re: Exclusion Zone

                you mean the place where the equivalent radiation of 100,000 bananas was mixed with the Pacific Ocean ? This worries you ? Dont go near granite rocks then. Dont fly above 2000 feet. Dont eat bananas or any high poassium fruit.

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Exclusion Zone

                  "Dont go near granite rocks then. Dont fly above 2000 feet."

                  Thunderfoot has some footage of his counter on a flight that he shot in the lavatory so he didn't scare the straights.

                  ~ ok, non-magic people are called "muggles". Do we have a word for people that have no clue about science/math/engineering? ~

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Exclusion Zone

              "whereas a geiger-counter can see radiation a long way off."

              wellllll, not really. A counter sees only the radiation that's present at the detector. You are absolutely correct about the mass-spec being a royal PIA in comparison.

              A myth about the fossil fuel industry "coining it" should be quashed. Yes, they have massive amounts of revenue, but they also have massive amounts of expenses and risk. It's more appropriate to look at their net profits as a percentage of revenue and compare that with what is recommended for a large publicly traded company to aim for. Those figures also need to be looked at over a long enough time period. A year of drilling dry wells or a couple of off-shore platform accidents can temper a year of nice profits.

          4. Spanners Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            The amount of poisonous stuff spat out by coal and oil users has never been paid attention to by the people that make the rules.

            I have seen pictures from the area around Chernobyl and, before the Russian invasion, one of my colleagues went there. The only dangers outside the immediate area around the reactor were the wild animals and the remains of Pripyat falling down on you! We have made a large and beautiful nature reserve. If people are kept out of it for a while, this is good.

            I never had asthma until I came south to live in the "midlands". Children in Orkney are spared from the crud down here. I know that this area isn't as bad as many other places but the pollution hazards far exceed Chernobyl and any other nuclear area!

          5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            The dumping of nuclear "waste" into the ocean at Fukushima actually made the ocean *cleaner* There was less radiation in the dumped water than was already in the ocean.

            1. VoiceOfTruth

              Re: Bang On - except the death stats

              What absolute rubbish you have written.

              1. cyberdemon Silver badge
                Devil

                Re: Bang On - except the death stats

                The current water being "dumped" is indeed less radioactive than the ocean itself - that is the obligation set by the regulator.

                At the time of the accident, of course there was a detectable pattern of radioactivity coming from the plant, but it was always perfectly safe. In fact I'd argue that Fukushima was a triumph for nuclear safety! It was a very old design, we have improved safety a lot since then, and it suffered what was about the worst thing that could happen to a nuclear reactor: Being hit with an earthquake and tsunami, shutting down its cooling systems and backup generators - (BTW the tsunami itself killed 15,000 people and made 100,000 homeless, you neglect to mention that in all your anti-nuclear ravings eh?) Yet the so-called "nuclear disaster" has killed Nobody! Not even the 50 people who went in to stabilise it expecting to die from the scary radiation.

                It's all fear, and it's a fear that is stuffing the coffers of Putin, Saudi Arabia and the big oil and coal companies, by turning people against nuclear.

                Anyway, I don't know why I am wasting my time arguing with you, it's obvious that you are a troll, go back to your troll farm.

              2. Grinning Bandicoot

                Re: Bang On - except the death stats

                Thank you. You have your religion so let go and allow us others to have ours. By the way do you ski or mountaineer? If so, you are a SINNER, an unbeliever of your own tenets, and am keeping me from my frozen banana. And ignore the J-curve!

          6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            "Can you point to me something similar with regards to coal?"

            Slag heaps collapsing and sliding down, burying villages and schools full of children. And it's still happening.

          7. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            1000 sq miles is what you would cover with water after damming for a big hydroelectric installation. And it's not the worst case disaster scenario, it has to happen! (though to be fair, lake can be used for boating / fishing)

          8. Xalran

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            have you ever tried to measure the radioactivity downwind of a coal power plant ?

            If you haven't, you should try... you'd be surprised... and usually it's not an exclusion zone.

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              Uranium in coal slag heaps.

              500ppm --> Minable Uranium deposit

              250ppm --> Found in US coal mind waste.

              I sometimes wonder how many of the locals have clocked they are living next to a potential U mine.

          9. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            Minimata bay

        2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Bang On - except the death stats

          Don't forget about the large amount of land is lost in Chornobyl and Fukushima, and quite a few other accidents...

          But how can solar air pollution kill so many? Are they shredding the panels so you can suck in the dust?

          1. adam 40 Silver badge

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            Chernobyl Exclusion Zone/Area

            4143 km²

            Fukushima Exclusion Zone: 371 square km

            Total: 4514 km²

            Area of land on Earth: one hundred fifty-three million km²

            Percentage of earth landmass fucked up by nuclear: 0.003%

            Percentage of earth landmass fucked up by fossil fuels: 100.00%

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: Bang On - except the death stats

              Well, you know, nuclear is a fossil fuel too... You get Uranium and Plutonium out of the ground.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Bang On - except the death stats

                Uranium, yes, plutonium, no.

                1. cyberdemon Silver badge
                  Happy

                  Re: Bang On - except the death stats

                  And MSRs will burn both!

                2. Xalran

                  Re: Bang On - except the death stats

                  actually if the ore came from Oklo it could also contain Plutonium....

                  I let people google the reason. ( and it's actually a reason relevant to the debate )

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Bang On - except the death stats

                "You get Uranium and Plutonium out of the ground."

                If you don't know the difference between the rocks that form the earth and "fossil fuel", then you really should give and go back to something you do understand.

              3. theOtherJT

                Re: Bang On - except the death stats

                I think you might want to look up what "Fossil" means... unless you're literally trying to re-derive from the original Latin, which would be deliberately obtuse given that's clearly not the usage in "fossil fuel"

              4. Alistair
                Windows

                Re: Bang On - except the death stats

                "Fossil Fuels" come from the fossilization of biological material (plants, animals etc).

                Uranium is a mineral. Been in the earth since the ball of dust formed.

                Plutonium (as used in nuclear energy) is man made.

                I see you could use a clue-by-four, just like the other idiot posting.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            "But how can solar air pollution kill so many?"

            Figure such as those quoted are total deaths, not just those due to air pollution produced at the point of generation. They will include pollution produced in mining raw materials and processing and industrial accidents in installing and operation. The relative numbers vary between different categories, that's why it's necessary to take an overall figure.

            Failing to do the accounting properly is apt to lead to a distorted view of risks and consequent bad decisions. It doesn't help that decisions are made by politicians who seem to have an adverse reaction to expert opinion. The political forces that drive them come from the public urged on by scare stories.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Bang On - except the death stats

            "Are they shredding the panels so you can suck in the dust?"

            No, but the mining or processing of the materials used to make them is causing pollution and deaths.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Bang On - except the death stats

          "* Nuclear: 0.03 (including Chernonbyl in 1986)

          * Solar: 0.02"

          And the response from the Greens/green press? OMG!!!!!! Nuclear kills 50% for people than solar!!!!!!

  6. Chairman of the Bored

    Wetlands...

    When the North Anna nuclear power plant was constructed in Virginia, the decision was taken to dam the North Anna River to build a massive artificial lake to serve as the ultimate heat sink. The dam proper can generate hydropower, at least enough to serve as the emergency backup supply for the plant.

    This created an outstanding wildlife habitat, reduced the visual signature of the site, and created a beautiful set of lakefront communities and recreational areas.

    Granted that trick won't work everywhere, but it is a truly lovely solution where it can be implemented

  7. ForthIsNotDead

    "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have, this is the only one which can keep the lights on"

    ... factually true. I'm a fan of the technology, even more so LMSR type technologies, which was abandoned back in the 1950s because it couldn't be used to make fuel for nuclear weapons.

    However, I worry about the long-term storage of nuclear waste, and the burden we are placing on future, yet to be born generations who will have to live with, and maintain _our_ nuclear waste. It doesn't sit well with me. Doesn't feel right. Over the last thousand years, our ancestors left us the pyramids, the colosseum etc. All rather nice. Within the last 50 years, we have become the first human generation that is going to leave future generations tons and tons of deadly spent nuclear fuel - the half life of which is approximately 115,000 years. The half life. So, it's not safe after 115,000 years. It's just half as deadly.

    This is the big elephant in the room regarding nuclear energy. Liquid Molten Salt Reactors "only" require a few hundred years of safe storage for their waste products, whereas the current of crop of reactors require hundreds of thousands of years of storage (Elsheikh, 2019, Sec. III, pg. 24).

    The human race should be turning to molten-salt reactors.

    ---------

    Elsheikh, B.M., 2019. 'ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF MOLTEN SALT REACTORS'. Journal of Nuclear and Radiation Physics, Vol. 14 (2019) 21-28.

    Available at: http://www.afaqscientific.com/jnrp/v14n003.pdf

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have..."

      ... mostly factually true

      As always when discussing energy generation you've got to qualify where you are in the world. Geothermal and Hydro are pretty reliable if you have them (excepting Norways present drought).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have..."

        And hydropower could be expanded quite a bit without building new dams. What's more, what hydro there is should be able to last farther than before - the intermittent options can greatly reduce the annual need for hydro and so save the reservoirs for late winter, even with the droughts (hydro is easy adjust down when there is wind/solar available, nuclear far less so).

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have..."

          "hydropower could be expanded quite a bit without building new dams"

          Would you care to expand??

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          And hydropower could be expanded quite a bit without building new dams.

          I presume you're talking about "Micro hydro" in the 100Kw range, estimated to give a total 1GW to the UK economy.

          On the upside, runs 14/7/365

          On the downside. Seen what's happened to the source of the Thames lately?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: And hydropower could be expanded quite a bit without building new dams.

            "Seen what's happened to the source of the Thames lately?"

            The seasonal springs at Thames Head have dried up. This is normal. I saw it for myself back in the '70s, when it was pointed out as proof of global cooling.

            But whatever. The Thames is a bad example; it's shit for hydro, with a drop of only 360 feet in 210 miles[0]. About all it's good for is light milling, and a couple of vanity electricity projects that will likely have a negative TCO. There is no money in electricity, unless you are generating it in bulk or have a tenured politician in your hip pocket. Preferably both.

            [0] I learned this fact as a kid in Cornwall, prior to you lot getting teh metrics. If you want it in French, do the conversion yourself.

    2. Twanky Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have...

      ...yet to be born generations who will have to live with, and maintain _our_ ...

      ^This

      applies in so many areas of our lives. Deforestation, releasing unsustainable amounts of pollutants burning fossil fuels, not leaving enough fossil hydrocarbons for future needs, driving agriculture into monoculture. The list is long.

      Even government financial borrowing to be 'paid back' by future citizens falls into this category. My grand-children's future taxes paying interest on government bonds so we don't have to pay the full current price of the gas we're addicted to.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have...

        Near where I live there's hundred of centuries-old mineshafts gifted to use by our ancestors, and piles of iron ore slag, that are going to have to be maintained for centuries.

    3. Spanners Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have, this is the only one which can keep...

      the colosseum etc. All rather nice.

      Not nice! If you read up on what went on there, it was absolutely f*****g awful!

      In 2 thousand years the power stations will have had a lot less blood splashed on their walls than any of the amazing architecture from the Romans, Aztecs or whatever bunch of bloodthirsty people you want.

    4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have...

      If the half life is 115,000 years, then by definition it's not dangerous as because the only way it can last that long is by giving off very little radiation at any instant of time. How much water comes out of a bucket if it takes 115,000 years to empty half of it?

    5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have...

      "So, it's not safe after 115,000 years. It's just half as deadly."

      Physics fail. It's not half as deadly, there's half of it left.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have"

      Yes we should be putting some real research into Thorium fuelled MSRs. We should be finding out if this technology can really deliver its potential.

      Orders of magnitude lower accident risk (no thermal runaway in some designs, far less danger of damage from build up of xenon isotopes).

      Massively shorter life of the bulk of the toxic waste.

      90%+ fuel efficiency.

      Use as a reprocessing engine for the existing toxic waste.

      Clean high temperature heat source for stripping H2 from CH4 and supplying UK with H2 for domestic heating rather than installing heat pumps.

      There is some serious science and engineering work to do but we should be bunging some cash into this. Who knows, it might make us a much money as the fusion investments apparently do.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "Of all the non-carbon energy options we have"

        "Yes we should be putting some real research into Thorium fuelled MSRs."

        China is. Wuwei 2MW test site has been running on thorium since October 2021

        It's a rebuild of the 8MW ORNL MSRE - they skilled the U235/U233/plutonium stages though

        There's a 300MWt (100MWe) electrical breeder test plant being built beside it.

        If that works as expected (and there's no reason to expect it not to) I'm expecting to see 3000MWt dropin replacements for coal burners by the end of the decade

        Chinese power stations have been built with clear provision for "something else" beside the turbine halls for a while. They'll sell this to all comers too

        It's not JUST about electrical generation in developed countries. Developing countries are badly hobbled by lack of resource. This will allow them to play catchup without being crippled by oil prices

    7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      The human race should be turning to molten-salt reactors.

      I'd agree they should be turning to some kind of nuclear thingamajig.

      Not convinced on MSR. Here's a few reasons why

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The human race should be turning to molten-salt reactors.

        I would take that article with a big pinch of non-nuclear salt.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          I would take that article with a big pinch of non-nuclear salt.

          Agreed.

          It does not paint the MSR in the most positive light, considers some problems harder than I think they are, but its main points are correct. It's sidelight on the fast breeder programme is also correct.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I would take that article with a big pinch of non-nuclear salt.

            The first of any new technology is going to have issues but that is not a reason to walk away. The first EVs were crap, the current EVs are vastly over-priced and crap in new ways.

            In the early days they were pretty much chucking science at the wall and seeing what would stick. We're talking about the same people who had open air reactor experiments to see if they could make them blow up with no thought about cleanup.

  8. deive

    None of those new designs help with the enrichment of nuclear material to weapons grade... coincidence that there has been a lack of funding?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the 50s maybe, but today this isn't so much a "nefarious world powers disinclined to fund novel reactors that can't satisfy their proliferation fever dreams" problem as it is a "broke-as-fuck world powers disinclined to fund development of high-risk novel nuclear technologies when they're already invested in nuclear technologies that work"

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Up to a point. The "investment in nuclear technologies that work" is largely reaching the end of its working life. Not investing in anything at the rate needed is more like it.

      2. deive

        Broke? "Our" govenment just gave ~£37bn to Harding.

        1. deive

          Broke? Fossil fuel companies have been making $3 billion profits a DAY for the last 50 YEARS and have just announced theirm most profitable year ever.

          https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/21/revealed-oil-sectors-staggering-profits-last-50-years

          https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/bp-reports-q2-profit-845-billion-boosts-dividend-2022-08-02/

        2. deive

          Broke? The UK rich have increased their wealth by £274 billion over the last 5 years.

          https://equalitytrust.org.uk/wealth-tracker-18

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "None of those new designs help with the enrichment of nuclear material to weapons grade"

      Well, properly, current PWR's don't "enrich" Uranium which is the separation of U235 and U238 from naturally occurring ore so the U235 can be added back to be a larger percentage. Premature detonation is a possibility with Uranium based bombs and they are harder to engineer than one using Pu which can be better behaved until needed. I've seen it pointed out the President R. Nixon cancelled the MSR program due to the issue of that type of reactor not being useful for creating Pu in any sizable quantity.

  9. VoiceOfTruth

    Deaths are not the only metric

    -> Those three world-famous accidents killed fewer than 80 people in total. Take away Chernobyl, and it's probably one.

    As usual the pro-nuclear lobby lie by omission. What about the 1,000 square miles of land in Ukraine which remains evacuated to this day? What about the dumping of contaminated water from Fukushima straight into the ocean because there is no space left for it (meaning it is too expensive to acquire more land)? What about the proven lies and deceit during the whole history of the nuclear so-called industry?

    Who pays for this? Is it the nuclear companies or is it the tax payer picking up the tab until time ends? Privatise the profits and socialise the risks, eh? Also known as thieving from the tax payer.

    How about this as a proposal: we don't build a single new nuclear crap house in the UK until all of the existing crap houses have been completely cleaned up. That includes Sellafield - it's not a special case.

    1. ChipsforBreakfast

      Re: Deaths are not the only metric

      And how about you explain how we are supposed to keep the lights lit, industry operational, homes heated, electric cars charged and all the rest while not emitting carbon without it.

      Wind is not reliable, has a huge physical impact, turbines with around a 20 yr lifespan (far less that a nuclear reactor) which aren't recyclable - it's not the answer.

      Solar suffers the same reliability problem especially in the UK and has similar issues with physical impact. Making the panels relies on hard to obtain materials and energy-intensive processes - not the answer either.

      Base load on the grid needs to be met by reliable sources - nuclear is ideal for this. Renewables are good for some things but there are needs they simply cannot meet.

      If you truly want to get to zero-emission power generation it will need a combination of all of these technologies, as well as significant investment in energy storage to achieve it.

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Deaths are not the only metric

        -> And how about you explain how we are supposed to keep the lights lit

        Rather than try and fail to refute what I wrote, you immediately go into the "how do we keep the lights on?" argument.

        Your *argument* can be rewritten as "so what about 1,000 square miles on uninhabitable land, so what about dumping contamination into the oceans, I want my lights.

        So if you have any integrity, try and argue against what I wrote.

        1. ChipsforBreakfast

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          Regardless of what's happened in the past (and the article does a very good job of explaining why that's not really relevant to this discussion), there is a choice to be made now.

          We can invest in nuclear power alongside renewables and meet the goal of zero carbon emissions from power generation

          Or we can decide not to.

          If we decide not to, we either have to drastically reduce & rethink our use of power or we accept that we are not going to be able to reach the zero emission goal and we'll need to deal with the consequences.

          If you have an alternative that doesn't involve drastic negative changes to our accepted way of life I'm all ears...

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            -> Regardless of what's happened in the past

            It is not in the past. It is now. The Chernobyl exclusion zone exists NOW. Polluted water from Fukushima is being dumped in the ocean NOW.

            Another of the nuclear so-called industry's tricks (lies) is to pretend that all the bad stuff is in the past. Meanwhile it is actually still here now.

            Then, when their deceit is pointed out, instead of admitting to it, they resort to the "how are you going to keep the lights on?" argument.

            I have already given my proposal. I'll repeat it. Once all the filthy nuclear crap houses have been cleaned up we can look at building another one. And it should be publicly owned so that private so-called investors don't privatise the profits while socialising the costs.

            1. ChipsforBreakfast

              Re: Deaths are not the only metric

              Please, dial down the angst. The exclusion zone is far from lifeless and has in fact become something of a wildlife haven. The exclusions zone for Fukushima has already been lifted.

              Yes, Fukushima plans to release treated waste water into the sea - water treated to remove most radioactive contaminants leaving only a very low level of radioactivity - lower, in fact, than the naturally occurring background radiation.

              All of which fails to note that modern reactor designs such as those discussed in the article are designed to prevent exactly the type of accidents that occurred in either of these incidents.

              As for your 'argument' you know full well that cleanup will take decades to complete - do you seriously think we have that long to wait?

              1. VoiceOfTruth

                Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                ->The exclusion zone is far from lifeless and has in fact become something of a wildlife haven. The exclusions zone for Fukushima has already been lifted.

                And people around Chernobyl? Not many of those.

                -> Yes, Fukushima plans to release treated waste water into the sea

                That is factually incorrect. They are running out of storage space so plan to dump *untreated* waste water into the ocean.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                  Citation and or source of information please?

                  1. hoola Silver badge

                    Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                    This provides an excellent summary that aligns with many other sources

                    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/13/fukushima-japan-to-start-dumping-contaminated-water-pacific-ocean

                    It is not "Untreated" and appears to be the usual 2+2=5 or maybe even 50 from the usual anti-everything groups.

                    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                      Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                      Tritium!!!

                      Weak beta, half life about 12 years.

                      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                        Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                        Tritium levels in the water tanks onsite at Fukushima are lower than natural levels in many parts of the world (including most of Australia) and well below even the strictest limits for drinking water

                      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                        Coat

                        Tritium!!!Tritium!!!

                        Handy for building the neturon generators used in certain <cough> "Special ordnance"

              2. sabroni Silver badge
                Meh

                Re: Please, dial down the angst.

                Unless you're pro-nuclear in which case, "HOW DO WE KEEP THE LIGHTS ON?!!?!??!"

            2. hoola Silver badge

              Re: Deaths are not the only metric

              Maybe but CO2 and other greenhouse gasses continue to be dumped into the atmosphere as a direct result of power generation or as a side effect.

              The longer we continue to do that, the worse the consequences and as we stand at the moment, the World is rapidly running out of time. In my opinion, that actually happened about 10 years ago.

              Reliable, carbon-free or low carbon power is needed (well was needed about 20 years ago) for the bulk of the developed world to continue to exist and developing countries to not catastrophically tip the balance so that the point of thermal runaway occurs in the next decade.

              At that point, anything is academic. It is too late, simple as that. And it is this point the so many appear unable to grasp. Every year change is left, the quicker, more drastic and expensive any mitigation becomes.

              Anything associated with tech (and that in reality covers pretty much everything now) is mind-boggling wasteful in resources and power. Even this form is a waste of resources.

              Once thermal runaway has happened, there is nothing, absolutely nothing that can be done. All we can do is a few feeble mitigations where the rich are able to sustain their existence, ignorant of the fact that they actually were the single greatest cause of the disaster.

          2. Twanky Silver badge

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            If you have an alternative that doesn't involve drastic negative changes to our accepted way of life...

            To a great extent it does not matter whether the proposed solution involves drastic changes to people's accepted way of life or not. If enough people can be convinced that the changes are 'worth it' then they might go along with it if there's no credible alternative - but how many are 'enough people'?

            Any approach which could be expressed as 'if you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow' is doomed to failure.

            People have a long history of fighting over scarce resources. If we don't or can't provide enough energy for the people there will likely be trouble. We've become used to the idea that domestic energy is a 'right' - but too few understand that it's a right that must be in balance with people's other rights.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          "1,000 square miles on uninhabitable land"

          Remember that land was polluted with good socialist fallout, none of this capitalist rubbish!

          You might want to look at how many square miles of land are polluted with heavy metals from solar cell manufacture. Or mining effluent from lithium and the various rare earth mining operations in countries with even less care for health and safety than the former Soviet Union.

        3. Alistair
          Windows

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          Rather than try and fail to refute what I wrote, you immediately go into the "how do we keep the lights on?" argument.

          Ahh yes. I made an argument, you must refute, otherwise you are making no point!

          I love folks that stick with this. My younger sibling suffers from this. The point is that your "argument" has been rebutted *hundreds* of times as moot and immaterial as it is based in hyperbole, and outright inaccuracy, yet you jump up and down like a spoiled child denied his cookie at lunchtime. And as such you are regarded as a spoiled toddler having a tantrum.

          Good luck.

      2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Deaths are not the only metric

        If you take issue with the materials required for turbines and panels, you should do the same for the phenomenal amount of (also non-recyclable) concrete required for nuclear, for the damage done while extracting the uranium. For coal and oil, you have to consider extraction and emissions. Hydro, you flood entire valleys and there's that concrete again.

        Generating a lot of power means causing a significant impact on the environment. No generation technology gets to avoid that. The solution is a selection of the least-worst options - I agree with your final paragraphs.

        1. ChipsforBreakfast

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          I don't disagree with you - there is never a perfect solution. The point really was about the relative lifespan of the two - turbines have planned lives of 20 year, solar panels roughly the same or less, depending on the conditions. Most proposed reactors are aiming for lifespans of 40 - 50 years minimum (many current plants are sitting at around 40 years operation & still passing safety inspections).

          So while they do use significant quantities of non-recyclable material they use it less often and probably manage to generate more power over their lifespan too - not zero impact (nothing is) but less impact per KW/h generated. It's also contained in a far smaller area, lessening the physical impacts on the surrounding area & wildlife.

          Nuclear power is not without concerns, drawbacks and impacts that's for sure but they are at least comparable to quite possible lower than (I'm no expert, just an interested layman) the renewable alternatives.

          1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            Well, we're in agreement then barring the details of how you define "impact" and guesstimates on lifespan and materials. We're getting a 10KW (nominal) rooftop PV install later this year (in Surrey UK), I'd expect 25 years lifespan from that - and as I understand the technology "lifespan" typically means only degradation of output, not that generation ceases completely.

            As we're talking impact, you might be interested in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agrivoltaics, which is a new concept for me - I only heard of last week. Allows dual use of land for farming and solar.

            1. Crypto Monad

              Re: Deaths are not the only metric

              > We're getting a 10KW (nominal) rooftop PV install later this year (in Surrey UK), I'd expect 25 years lifespan from that - and as I understand the technology "lifespan" typically means only degradation of output, not that generation ceases completely.

              Correct, although you should expect to have to replace the inverter, and batteries if you have them, some time between 10-15 years.

              1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                Apparently the new approach is MicroInverters bundled the panels, rather than inverters at the end of the string. I questioned this but was told they're much, much more reliable than the older ones, which did have the kind of life span you suggest.

                As for the battery, again, rumours of their death or misleading. LiFePo4 cells will take about 2000 cycles to reduce to 80% of their original capacity - that's my recollection from datasheets when I was working with them about a decade ago. As failure modes go that's OK by me, and 2000 cycles is a long time. The Tesla Powerwall comes with a 10 year warranty, they wouldn't offer that if it was expected to fail in that period.

                1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                  Facepalm

                  2000 cycles

                  that's < 5 yrs and 6 months on a daily basis.

                  Or do you expect to charge/discharg less frequently?

                  10 years is about 3650 days.

                  1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                    Re: 2000 cycles

                    Thank you for your help with the maths, multiplying things by ten sure is tough.

                    As you've asked, I do anticipate charge/discharge less frequently, I don't anticipate full (for LiFePo4, about 95%) depletion, and also anticipate lower C values than typically used in an electric car. All of which impacts on lifetime.

                    My point was that LiFePo4 cells have a longer lifetime than most battery cynics seem to think, and when they reach the end of that period, they're still working. You don't have to throw them away.

            2. hoola Silver badge

              Re: Deaths are not the only metric

              Interestingly when solar farms were first introduced as a concept, one of the arguments was that sheep could graze under the. That is not the case as the grass will not grow properly and they are too close to the group *(cost).

              In the example in the article, it is highly intensive farming that will not work in many locations. It is dependent on high-value, labour intensive crops.

            3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Deaths are not the only metric

              "I'd expect 25 years lifespan"

              Perhaps you should divide by two as you'll only be using it half the time. What are you going to use the other half?

          2. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            -> they are at least comparable to quite possible lower than (I'm no expert, just an interested layman) the renewable alternatives

            When they operate safely, that is true. When they don't, or when circumstances overtake them, there is no comparison at all.

          3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            40 - 50 years minimum

            You are behind the curve.

            Operating PWR's have been re-licensed up to 60 yrs from the time they started operating.

            60yr life is a baseline design feature for next generation reactors due to the construction costs.

        2. VoiceOfTruth

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          Note the thumb down from somebody in the nuclear lobby. As soon as your point out a home truth they swing into action.

          To them, with their lies, nuclear = clean. Except it is not.

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            Ok, let's stick with coal = clean then.

    2. Andy 73

      Re: Deaths are not the only metric

      It's a nice crusade to have - fighting against the perceived ills of the evil nuclear corporations...

      ... but the problem is your convenient 'forgetting' of the other side of the balance - every single other option has equally "terrible" costs and consequences. Fossil fuels pollute. Renewable sources cost dramatically more than the 'old tech' they wish to replace, and deliver an unreliable supply. Funnily enough, both fuel poverty and blackouts are just as capable of killing as the (demonstrably rare) problems of previous generation nuclear plants. It's conveniently easy to forget those since they're "background harm" that don't create the hysterical headlines of an (increasingly preventable) NUCLEAR DISASTER.

      This is a classic example of cakeism - you appear to want a healthy, happy population, but want it to be delivered magically without cost or consequence. Sorry. Not possible.

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Deaths are not the only metric

        -> but the problem is your convenient 'forgetting' of the other side of the balance - every single other option has equally "terrible" costs and consequences.

        Can you point to 1,000 square miles of exclusion zone on the map due to coal? It's a yes or no question. Or can you point to new reclaimed coal mines with housing on top?

        I'm not forgetting anything. The only people doing the *forgetting* (I call it lies and deceit) is the nuclear lobby who fail EVERY SINGLE TIME to mention the 1,000 square mile exclusion zone around Chernobyl and the dumping of waste at Fukushima.

        So, if you have any integrity, let's see you call out the nuclear so-called industry for their deceit. It's easy to do.

        1. Andy 73

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          You've never lived near a coal mine have you? Do you not know about the millions of toxic spoil heaps around the globe caused by coal mines, and mines for rare earth metals used in many renewable generators? Yet again, it's convenient for you to ignore them because each one may be small. Add them up and guess what?

          To put your favourite statistic in context, the sum total of all nuclear disasters in human history (including Chernobyl, which is not in the slightest way representative of modern Western nuclear technology) amounts to restrictions on 0.00050% of the earth's surface. Zero point zero, zero, zero five percent. There are also exclusion zones around many wind farms, solar farms and other technologies that have to be spread across our countryside. I guess they don't count for some reason?

          As an side, anyone needing to call themselves the Voice of Truth is trying too hard.

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            -> You've never lived near a coal mine have you?

            Was there an exclusion zone around a coal mine, yes or no? It's a simple question. No obfuscation. Just answer it, please.

            -> As an side, anyone needing to call themselves the Voice of Truth is trying too hard.

            Meanwhile the whole nuclear so-called industry should be called the "voice of liars".

            1. hoola Silver badge

              Re: Deaths are not the only metric

              Aberfan?

              Is that enough for you. After that millions has been spent stabilising or removing coal tips and there are still problems.

              Or how about near Selby with the ECML had to be completely rerouted because of subsidence due to coal mining.

              Or fracking where water suppliers are contaminated and rendered unusable, pretty much indefinitely to say nothing of the subsidence.

            2. Dinanziame Silver badge

              Re: Deaths are not the only metric

              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia_mine_fire

              The coal mine has been burning for 60 years, and the towns above had to be evacuated. Nobody can live there.

            3. Xalran

              Re: Deaths are not the only metric

              to answer question One : Yes there's exclusion zones around coal mines.

              There's even ghost towns caused by coal mines....

              Google Centralia

              that's too bad for you... Exclusion Zones caused by Coal Mining DO exist.

            4. Alistair
              Windows

              Re: Deaths are not the only metric

              VOT

              Google "Kentucky coal mine fire"

              Burning for years, several abandoned towns. No "exclusion" zone by decree, but yeah, you might NOT want to move to any of the towns that are now emptied.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            "Yet again, it's convenient for you to ignore them because each one may be small."

            They're easy to ignore. After all, they're Somewhere Else and they haven't had as much exposure on the news.

          3. 9Rune5

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            As an side, anyone needing to call themselves the Voice of Truth is trying too hard.

            I'd like to know if he gets paid in rubles directly or if they have to exchange his pay to a different currency? Are taxes applied (and where)?

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          "Can you point to 1,000 square miles of exclusion zone on the map due to coal? "

          Yes. Spoil and slag heaps all over the world, full of toxins, adding up to far more than 1000 square miles. In many countries, fenced off as dangerous areas. Some have had a foor or two of top soil added to hide the bare, barren "moon-scape" like image they would naturally have. But many remain unstable and during very wet weather can come crashing down onto any nearby homes.

        3. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          Spoil heaps are huge - and occasionally collapse, killing a few hundred schoolkids.

          Open cast mines are huge.

          Coal fired power stations are pretty big too, and emit far more radiation than any nuclear power plant is permitted to do.

          What would you have us do? Go on then, what is your magic solution?

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            You missed the ash slurry lakes that coal fired power stations produce (particularly in the USA)

            The TWO biggest US environmental disasters so far this century have been ash lake dam breaks

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          > Can you point to 1,000 square miles of exclusion zone on the map due to coal? It's a yes or no question. Or can you point to new reclaimed coal mines with housing on top?

          Why on earth do you think that the damage from coal fired generation should manifest itself in *exactly* the same form as damage from nuclear generation?

          They're chalk and cheese - and comparing them is hard - otherwise this debate would have been settled ages ago. But it's not going to be settled by trying to force a pointless and irrelevant yes/no answer. You're as bad as those idiot 'journalists' who try to score points by getting politicians to say yes or no and the only people who suffer are the viewers trying to learn something.

    3. TVU

      Re: Deaths are not the only metric

      And what is the alternative? Runaway greenhouse gas emissions, mass human misery from extreme climate change and decimation of habitats and species?

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Deaths are not the only metric

        If there was a nuclear meltdown/accident wherever you happen to live, and you were forced to move, it might change you mind.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          There's a nuclear power plant about 20 miles from my house so I'm inside the area of potential death and destruction from a scary meltdown. Few people ever seem to give the place much thought. It's just there. Has been for over 40 years. I barely registers on my consciousness. That's how little I worry about living near a nuclear power plant.

          Here it is.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Coat

          "and you were forced to move, it might change you mind."

          Why, has that happened to you?

          Or are you just spinning another hypothetical?

    4. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: Deaths are not the only metric

      One hour later, 14 thumbs down. A lot of people out there don't like the truth about nuclear pollution.

      Nuclear energy is not safe. It is not clean.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Deaths are not the only metric

        Have another thumbs down. The straw men you immediately throw into every discussion (on seemingly every topic) are so dull. If only they were made of real straw, we could feed the worlds livestock.

        1. VoiceOfTruth

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          So you cannot argue against anything I wrote? Is there a 1,000 square mile exclusion zone around Chernobyl, yes or no? Is nuclear waste being dumped into the ocean around Fukushima, yes or no?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            We argue against everything that you write. The 100% Putin sponsored nuclear disinformation campaign designed to keep Europe afraid and reliant on Russian gas. Put another Ruble in the meter, you going to need lots of them.

            1. VoiceOfTruth

              Re: Deaths are not the only metric

              -> We argue against everything that you write.

              Who is this "we"? Did you elect yourselves to be the chosen "we"?

              My objections to nuclear power in the UK have nothing to do with Russian gas - we don't even use Russian gas here. It is do with the whole history of lies and deceit that the nuclear so-called industry spews up time and time again.

              Meanwhile, if I take one look at *your* disinformation, who is gaining from excluding Russian gas from Europe? Not Europeans. It is the USA. Europe is being controlled by the USA.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                If you are going to pretend to be in the UK, you really have to start your trolling 3 hours earlier.

              2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

                Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                Don't worry, I'm sure if you declare yourself a freeman of the land you'll be fully insulated from the effects of American imperialism.

              3. Hawkeye Pierce

                Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                Rubbish that we don't import Russian gas.

                In 2021, 4% of the gas used in the UK was from Russia. And for the record, around 10% of the oil used was from Russia along with over 25% of the coal used.

                1. VoiceOfTruth

                  Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                  Here's a grammar lesson for you. "We don't" is present tense. 2021 is in the past.

                  Go back to school.

                  1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    Re: Deaths are not the only metric

                    What's up? Can't you argue against the facts as presented? That seems to be your constant refrain, yet here you are ignoring that same process.

          2. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            No point arguing with someone incapable of thinking, and you've proven that repeatedly.

            Good day, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

      2. naive

        Re: Deaths are not the only metric

        > Nuclear energy is not safe. It is not clean

        You are right in the context of the technological standards of the 50'-60's of the previous century.

        It is the same with cars, a trip in a 1968 Ford Cortina will be a nightmarish experience compared to one in a modern Focus.

        The situation is made worse by the fact that nearly all nuclear power plants built prior to the end of the cold war are also equipped to produce Plutonium. This makes those plants significantly more complex and sensitive to technical failures. Some people think that Chernobyl was the result of experiments with military Plutonium production, not a general exercise.

        Pointing to 1960's designed power plants to condemn nuclear power technology is equivalent to arguing driving cars in 2022 is unsafe because the 1968 Cortina is a death trap to current standards.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          "Some people think that Chernobyl was the result of experiments with military Plutonium production, not a general exercise."

          I thought it was due to vodka.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Deaths are not the only metric

            Vodka fuelled playing with a design whose primary purpose was plutonium production and (like Sellafield) had insufficent safeguards in place. The difference is that Sellafield had those filters, otherwise it would have been equally as bad (Sellafield was a military reactor whose ONLY [purpose was plutonium production)

            There were lots of objections in the west to Chernobyl and its ilk being built in the first place BECAUSE of the susceptability to the exact failure mode which happened in 1986

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              "playing with a design whose primary purpose was plutonium production "

              True. As all 1st generation Russian and European designs were. Only the PWR or the CANDU was not "Born to breed" to coin a phrase. The US already had plenty of Pu from other designs and the Canadians didn't want bombs (althouth apparently CANDU is quite a good little Pu factory. Could Canada be the world's most covert nuclear super power?)

              All other designs were.

      3. dajames Silver badge

        Re: Deaths are not the only metric

        Nuclear energy is not safe. It is not clean.

        No, it isn't. Nobody's saying it is.

        What people are saying is that it is safer and cleaner than alternative energy sources using fossil fuels.

        We are in the unfortunate position that we have grown accustomed to a lifestyle that is expensive in terms of energy and -- not wishing to give up that lifestyle -- we need to generate a large amount of energy. We know of only so many ways to do that, and nuclear is potentially the least damaging.

        CO2 will certainly render the planet uninhabitable if we continue to produce it. If we're careful and lucky radioactive waste won't.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          "We are in the unfortunate position that we have grown accustomed to a lifestyle that is expensive in terms of energy and -- not wishing to give up that lifestyle"

          There are also so many of us on the planet that pulling the plug on energy production would lead to many deaths in a short period of time. In the mean time, we have medicine, sanitation, roads, etc. The lower generating density of wind and solar would work better if fewer people were standing in line with their buckets to get some. Instead of addressing that issue, governments are looking at ways to pay people to have more children in the first world. Part of that may be to perpetuate their infinite growth model and plan. The larger churches need the increase to maintain headcount (donations/tithes).

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deaths are not the only metric

        > Nuclear energy is not safe. It is not clean.

        And worst of all, it's not affordable either.

        Even when the government (and future generations) picks up the tab for disaster insurance and waste disposal, it's still not economically viable.

        The solution is a mix of many storage and generation technologies.

        Solar. Wave. Geothermal. Wind. Hydro.

        It's significantly cheaper overall, even when storage is included. (Look up Lazard Levelized Cost of Energy - or any other recent analysis).

        Obviously when the diversity of generation is large, and the grid is also large, storage requirements will be lower.(eg: Hydro is only used when the others are not enough. Wind in location A is high when sun in location B is low. Batteries stabilize the grid rather than 'spinning things' doing that. etc, etc.)

        The transition is already well underway. Granted, the nuclear industry, together with the coal/gas industry aren't happy, because the cash train is leaving. Expect some serious push-back from the lobbyists representing those vested interests, and the Luddites.

        That's what you're seeing.

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge
          Devil

          Vested interests

          No, honestly I think you have your 'vested interests' backwards.

          Take a look at https://gridwatch.co.uk/ and you will see that the UK grid is vastly reliant on gas, because there are long periods (weeks or months) where there is scant power from any renewables. Anyone with a clue (including you) knows that batteries are only good for stabilising the grid as a replacement for spinning inertia. They will never have the TWh scale required to provide bulk-storage. If the wind stops blowing, then batteries allow us to prop up the grid for just long enough to fire up a big gas power plant.

          Renewables can never replace oil, gas and coal, but nuclear can, and that is why the oil & gas lobby (which is much more powerful than the nuclear lobby) has got it in for nuclear. They love renewables actually, because it allows them to increase their prices as the supply of oil dwindles.

          Thus, renewables support Britain's reliance on gas, the price of which is set by a cartel (the OECD) which includes Russia. The vested interests that I worry about are the ones making billions (Aramco alone is making $15 billion a week at the moment!) from burning a finite resource and replacing it with a greenhouse gas.

          Biomass is even worse, we are taking something that actively removes CO2 from the planet - trees, chopping them down and burning them to produce more CO2! It's madness. And don;t get me started on CCS. If you are worried about nuclear accidents, a CCS leak can be just as dangerous, if a cloud of heavier-than-air CO2 settles on a town, it will asphyxiate everyone. It has happened before: https://climateinvestigations.org/co2-pipelines-and-carbon-capture-the-satartia-mississippi-accident-investigation/

          But again, Drax is an extremely powerful lobbyist, so it gets away with it.

          I'm not sure how those economists come up with their figures, but their cost of storage for example, does not scale. It might be right for the current small amount of storage that we can make, but to make it at a scale which could phase out gas, would mean using more copper and lithium than the entire world market.

          The same goes for hydro and pumped hydro: We can't make artificial mountains, so the supply of hydro that we have (enough for about an hour of calm weather with no gas), is already about as much as we will ever have (and it is dwindling due to drought) so it doesn't matter how 'cheap' it is if we can't build more. It's a similar story with geothermal, and I am yet to be convinced on the power capability and storm-robustness of wave power.

          But nuclear is easy. Change the rules so that it can be built underground, think of it as an artificial geothermal plant!

        2. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          "Solar. Wave. Geothermal. Wind. Hydro.

          It's significantly cheaper overall, even when storage is included."

          That might be the case, but there is still not enough of it, and can't be enough of it without covering a huge %age of land under them. Not sure if the 'cheaper' includes subsidies as well. Either way the more that are built (on the optimal brownfield sites), the more costly they will become, because of shortage of wasteland to build them on (so having to build them on greenfield sites or more expensive industrial land), and shortages of raw materials.

          the only one of those that might do the trick is Geothermal, if current advances in deep drilling technology reach a major breakthrough.

        3. Alistair
          Windows

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          For my neck of the woods

          https://www.ieso.ca/power-data

          I'll keep the nukes running and I'll be adding to them.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Deaths are not the only metric

          "Even when the government (and future generations) picks up the tab for disaster insurance and waste disposal, it's still not economically viable."

          In the US, the government took on the role of receiver of the nuclear waste from power plants as a way to keep control of the material and to make sure it didn't just get fly tipped somewhere. Their record has been very dismal. The operators have been paying for the disposal and the government still hasn't constructed and certified a site. The government have set up programs to pay informal immigrants the costs of their healthcare, housing and food. They have decided it would be a good thing spend heaps of money to mail ballots to everyone instead of the tried and true method of just having them show up at the polls if they can force themselves to go out and vote. There just doesn't seem to be any interest in finally coming up with a storage site for nuclear waste.

  10. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coat

    No Capes!

    ~Edna Mode

    My coat without a cape...

  11. Sloth77

    "Well, an extinction-level event is on the horizon..."

    Slight hyperbole there. I would guess that even the worst case scenario would not result in the "extinction" of the human race. We are like cockroaches, the planet will never be completely rid of us.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: "Well, an extinction-level event is on the horizon..."

      Extinction-level just means lots of species going extinct as a result.

      Which is in fact already happening :(

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: "Well, an extinction-level event is on the horizon..."

      Look at what happened 250 million years ago at the end o the Permian era

      We're rapidly closing on a repeat of that

      Warm blooded creatures cannot survive global oxygen levels dropping to 11-12% and most reptilians won't survive either

  12. Jason Bloomberg

    Safer than people think

    I am in favour of nuclear energy but understand why people fear its potential for disaster. Nuclear accidents having hardly killed anyone stands alongside "vaccines are 100% safe" (*) when it comes to not telling the full truth, which will immediately be seen as trying to hide the truth, creates distrust. When one starts with a lie it is almost impossible to reclaim a reputation for truthfulness.

    * That was something some politicians, those pushing vaccines, and others who should have known better, were saying or suggesting even though it is never true.

    I recently heard a comment along the lines of; if nuclear power is so safe, why is anyone worried about the plant at Zaporizhzhia being shelled?

    The IAEA appears to be shitting itself. It's no surprise the man on the Clapham Omnibus does as well.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Safer than people think

      There is a risk from nuclear power, and there is a risk from continuing to burn gas and oil and coal.

      By any metric you can name, the risk from nuclear is many, many orders of magnitude less risk to the planet. And yet people still fear it more because a nuclear explosion is intuitively risky, whereas millions (really, millions) dying from extreme weather, crop shortages and air pollution does not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: By any metric you can name ...

        But it's the metrics that *cannot* be named that worry me...

        http://xkcd.com/2657

        ;-o

      2. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Safer than people think

        -> By any metric you can name, the risk from nuclear is many, many orders of magnitude less risk to the planet.

        There goes the nuclear deceit again. There is not a 1,000 square mile exclusion zone anywhere except due to nuclear. Nuclear has thoroughly damaged that part of the planet. More damage is taking place off Fukushima.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Safer than people think

          The Aswan dam created a 2000 sq mile lake. Twice the size of the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Safer than people think

            Drinkable water. Perhaps you would like to eat some Chernobyl pie.

            1. hoola Silver badge

              Re: Safer than people think

              And destroyed 1000s of hectares of viable agricultural land and the floods that would previously fertilise and irrigate no longer happened.........

              Humans (and most other living organisms) need more than just water.

              1. VoiceOfTruth

                Re: Safer than people think

                And created a store of water for irrigation.

                -> Humans (and most other living organisms) need more than just water.

                Correct. Which is why comparing water and nuclear filth is a non-starter.

                1. Dinanziame Silver badge

                  Re: Safer than people think

                  The deadliest industrial accident in human history was a dam failure that killed over 100'000 people:

                  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Banqiao_Dam_failure

            2. drand

              Re: Safer than people think

              Plant some potatoes in your exclusion zone, shoot a deer roaming the woods there, and I will happily eat Chernobyl venison steak and chips.

              Why don't you go and camp out at the bottom of the Aswan for a weekend?

            3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Safer than people think

              Or drink some Atomik Vodka

              Considering the high food standards in the UK, surely this must be illegal by your reasoning. Except it isn't.

        2. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Safer than people think

          "There is not a 1,000 square mile exclusion zone anywhere except due to nuclear"

          Due to extremely cavalier 'safety' measures taken on a reactor that was already very unsafe by design, yes. The chances of anything like Chernobyl happening to a new-built recent design nuclear reactor, in any real scenario, as close to zero as makes no difference.*

          And what, pray, is your obsession with this exclusion zone? Is it that no humans or other life can live there? (actually they can). Is it that humans have chosen not to take up residence there? (they equally can't reside anywhere in or around a windmill farm, solar farm, submerged by a hydroelectric lake etc). Is it that there are dangerous levels of radiation in it (there aren't, except for a much much smaller zone)?

          It's just a number you're throwing around that is based on some bureaucrats decision that has no relevance to the debate over whether newly built nuclear reactors can/will be safe.

          * yes, I am tempting fate, am I not?

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Safer than people think

        "By any metric you can name, the risk from nuclear is many, many orders of magnitude less risk to the planet. And yet people still fear it more because a nuclear explosion is intuitively risky, whereas millions (really, millions) dying from extreme weather, crop shortages and air pollution does not."

        It's similar reasoning as to why people fear plane crashes or train crashes and yet are happy to drive on the roads every day. Planes and trains may be safer, but a single "incident" is bigger in effect than a single car crash.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Safer than people think

        "There is a risk from nuclear power, and there is a risk from continuing to burn gas and oil and coal."

        More people have no problem setting things on fire even if they don't exactly get how that turns into electricity. Nuclear, on the other hand, is all fairy dust and pictcies. They slept through all of their science classes at school and if the Kardashians are completely ignorant of the subject, that will work for them too. (just look at how fabulous and rich they are. They must be gods and terribly smart, stands to reason).

    2. Mishak Silver badge

      "Why is anyone worried about the plant at Zaporizhzhia being shelled"?

      Because the safety-case didn't consider some idiot using a large number of high-explosive devices to breach the containment, expose the core and destroy the spent-fuel cooling pools?

      Which does raise the point that nuclear power is not really great in a full-war scenario.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: "Why is anyone worried about the plant at Zaporizhzhia being shelled"?

        What idiot decided to build loads of dams in the Rhur valley when everybody knew it was right in the middle of what would be a war zone 50 years later?

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: "Why is anyone worried about the plant at Zaporizhzhia being shelled"?

          You're dam right buster.

          1. jake Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: "Why is anyone worried about the plant at Zaporizhzhia being shelled"?

            Boo!

            Beer:-)

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Why is anyone worried about the plant at Zaporizhzhia being shelled"?

        Nor is hydro-electric or anything else.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "Why is anyone worried about the plant at Zaporizhzhia being shelled"?

        You'd actually need a lot of shelling to achieve that

        Mostly it will just annoy the staff because the walls will need to be repainted

        PWR containment buildings are insanely strong

  13. KBeee Silver badge

    One of the problems is, that to the Twitterati and Press (quite often the same thing now) there are certain words that trigger them to outrage. Nuclear and Chemicals are 2 of those words.

    1. Twanky Silver badge
      Joke

      Yes, we should ban chemicals.

      (where's Paris when you need her?)

      1. jake Silver badge

        "(where's Paris when you need her?)"

        Nobody cares anymore. Too many inappropriate chemicals.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Especially that pernicious dihydrogen monoxide, it's in EVERYTHING

      1. Twanky Silver badge
        Boffin

        You know how dangerous that stuff is? It dissolves more or less everything!

  14. Barry Rueger

    Either/Or

    I no longer listen to these debates unless someone is offering real, doable, and green option. There is no perfect solution, nor is there any one answer - it depends on the time and the place. In France, where I now live, I was surprised to learn that "In 2020, nuclear power made up the largest portion of electricity generation, at around 78%. Renewables accounted for 19.1% of energy consumption." For renewables you can read "wind."

    France also has a lot of programs in place to actively support homeowners that wish to go green, or insulate and replace windows. They're outlawing new oil and gas boilers.

    Sadly any discussion of nuclear is buried in claims and counter-claims that don't really address the larger question: where will you get your electricity? If not solar, and not wind, and not nuclear, what do we do? Just shut down 75% of our society? Or just keep dumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere? Build more hydro-dams, which actually have their own significant environment impacts, and which also pose a risk once they begin to degrade, or when the first big earthquake hits?

  15. Luap

    In a recent paper (2021) it seems there isn't enough current reactor technology Uranium you can economically mine based on current solutions to make a difference.

    Only by developing new commercial reactor types could it be feasible and these aren't coming any time soon, development history of this type isn't looking good.

    Nuclear it seems can only be a small part of a solution based on todays tech and a high risk bet for the future reactor types. All this for the second most expensive electricity type we can generate.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421521002330

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levelized_cost_of_electricity#/media/File:20201019_Levelized_Cost_of_Energy_(LCOE,_Lazard)_-_renewable_energy.svg

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      There's plenty

      There's enough already mined to run pretty much as many reactors as we can possibly build in the next 10-20 years, which gives us plenty of time to dig more up (assuming we still need to)

      That paper makes a simple misunderstanding of the technical meaning of terms like "reserves". There's a lot more stuff, and reactors don't actually use very much.

      1. SundogUK Silver badge

        Re: There's plenty

        "That paper makes a simple misunderstanding of the technical meaning of terms like "reserves"."

        Ironically the oil industry gets this all the time. The whole concept of 'peak oil' is based on this misunderstanding - 'oh my god, our oil reserves are about to run out! PEAK OIL!'

        Then the price rises and suddenly a lot more becomes economical to extract.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: There's plenty

          Peak Oil passed 20 years ago worldwide and around 1971 in the USA

          It's not "peak level of extraction", it's the peak of EASILY ACCESSED, "light sweet crude" oil - ie, the end of the low hanging fruit

          Oil is steadily costing more in energy to extract (tight oil) or refine (less sweet crudes)

          In real terms, oil extraction costs about 20 times what it did in 1970 but oil prices (inflation adjsuted) are only about 3 times what they were in 1970. Some of that has been helped by imroved refining processes but profit margins are lower than they used to be

          The industry uses an energy ratio - barrels expended vs barrels delivered to try and explain this. It was about 1:100 in 1900, 5:100 in 1950 until the 1980s.

          Alaskan tar sands are about 1:3 and bakkan shales are about 1:6 whilst deepwater rigs end up in the 1:10-12 range

    2. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Lack of Uranium?

      it seems there isn't enough current reactor technology Uranium you can economically mine based on current solutions to make a difference.

      That's a result of the horribly inefficient fuel cycle used - deliberately - to minimise the opportunities for effective nuclear weapon proliferation.

      Essentially, the current uranium use is a 'once-through' fuel cycle that uses a small proportion of the available uranium in the fuel. The reactor is designed to use the fuel inefficiently so that it is difficult to extract fissile material (plutonium and uranium) from the used fuel.

      'Breeder' reactors use a high fast-neutron flux to 'breed' the isotopes of plutonium and uranium that are fissile (can be used to make bombs, or more fuel for reactors). Standard reactors are not breeder reactors, and countries that build fuel reprocessing facilities or breeder reactors are regarded as high-risk for nuclear weapon proliferation,

      As a previous poster has pointed out, we have already mined enough uranium to keep reactors fuelled for a few decades, so long as it can be used in breeder reactors to make the specific isotopes useful for power generation. The unavoidable consequence of that is to make more plutonium, which is also perfectly usable as a reactor fuel, but can be used rather too easily to make bombs instead.

      Current use of uranium is inefficient to help make nuclear weapons proliferation more difficult. In a climate emergency with a lack of electrical power, that risk assessment might change. Who is going to tell China not to build breeder reactors?

      See also Wikipedia:(Nuclear) Fuel cycles/chains

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lack of Uranium?

        Given that we have 5+ decades of 'spent' fuel that is about 5% used up, if we could make full use of that then we have more than enough fuel to cover us until we get thorium sorted out.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Lack of Uranium?

        Making plutonium in a power reactor is a non issue. It's multiple isotopes and virtually impossible to separate from used rods

        The bigger problem is that ALL solid fuelled reactors can have depleted uranium rods stuck in them briefly to produce weapons-grade plutonium. These aren't "power" rods but the solid fuel design facilitates doing it

        This underscores that the critcal part of the weapons proliferation cycle isn't "uranium" or "enriched uranium" but DEPLETED uranium

        Making a uranium bomb is essentially uneconomic (the materials costs is about $40-100 billion per unit. It's cheaper to buy your enemy).

        You need depleted uranium because a nuclear weapon actually needs very low radioactivity components, or it is likely to go off prematurely and natural uranium produces too much Pu239

        Ditto trying to make bombs out of thorium -> U233. It makes u232 as part of the process - in sufficient quantitiy to be deadly to handle (gamma emission) and be an excellent fizzle maker(*). Attempting to separate U232/U233 wiould require a centrifuge farm 100 times larger than a natural uranium one AND it would need heavy lead shielding to protect the operators - all a bit noticeable really

        (*) Teapot Dome is about the most sucessful one ever and it produced half the yield expected from what you'd see if the U233 had been replaced with U238 or tungsten

        China's working on breeders - thermal breeders using thorium. Once working, Proliferation problem == solved and anyone continuing to enrich uranium is essentially exposed as doing so primarily for weaponsmaking purposes

        (not to mention it also nobbles the US petrodollar hegemony. They're playing a long game)

      3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        it can be used in breeder reactors to make the specific isotopes useful for power generation.

        Umm, you do know that outside the US countrise like France, Japan and the UK have used Mixed Oxide of U and Pu in commercial (AGR and PWR) reactors for decades right?

        And that all reactors breed. Shippingport (world's first PWR) had a core designed in the mid 70's to demonstrate breeding with a PWR, but all reactors breed. That was the core reason for Magnox and the French equivalent, and the development of their associated re-processing cycles.

        Because proliferation was not an accident of these designs. It was a goal

        Until the nuclear industry owns those facts about its past the BS on this matter will never stop.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      There's ~5000 tons of thorium available PER MINE per year from most rare earth mines and a few hundred thousand tons buried in the Utah desert as a starting point

      Fixating on Uranium misses the other answers which already exist

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Volcanoes ?

    I've often wondered what the issues would be if we found a suitable (downvotes note that qualification) way to drop nuclear waste into a volcano and let it slowly settle back whence it came ?

    1. Oglethorpe

      Re: Volcanoes ?

      Volcanoes form when there is upward pressure and flow from the mantle. This means that whatever you put into them tends to come back up. It's better just to drop them into geologically stable rock that plate tectonics tells us isn't going anywhere soon.

      1. JimmyPage

        Re: Volcanoes ?

        I did use the qualified "suitably".

        And whilst there may be an overall upward thrust, there will also be some downward convection. And we are talking bloody heavy molecules here (U and Pl). Eventually they would start to sink under gravity.

        Even if that weren't to happen, you'd be diluting a few thousand tonnes into billions of tonnes of molten rock.

        Admittedly you would need a very particular opening into the Earth.

        1. Oglethorpe

          Re: Volcanoes ?

          Without the upward flow, the magma/lava cools into solid rock and reaching the downward flow would involve some sort of mechanism that can move it through the magma while keeping it contained (essentially, a volcano submarine). It's a pain to drill into the mantle elsewhere because, before you hit magma, the rock softens and tends to close off the hole (this stopped the Kola borehole). If you ever did manage to drill and maintain the hole, you'd need some sort of incredibly complex mechanism to maintain the pressure without melting your waste handling apparatus. Any failure would shoot nuclear waste high into the atmosphere in a way far beyond the capabilities of even the poorest Soviet reactor. It's a bit like finding a 'suitable' location on Earth where the waste will float off into space.

          In short, it's easier to just use solid rock.

          1. jmch Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Volcanoes ?

            "a volcano submarine"

            YES!!!! We absolutely need one of those!!!

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Volcanoes ?

            "In short, it's easier to just use solid rock."

            That's the lazy person's way out. Though harder, it makes more sense to see what can be done with that waste stream. A big roadblock is the cost in getting a graduate degree in nuclear physics. Just out of curiosity I took a look into getting one of those (with government loans, of course) and it was so expensive I would have had to do it while in my twenties so there would be enough time to pay off the loans before retirement. The navy wanted me to sign up, but it turns out their nuclear power program is a lifetime hitch. You do get out after a few decades, but are subject to recall long into your golden years and I wasn't all that interested in killing people.

            If very few reactors are being built and many power and research units are being decommissioned, a graduate degree in nuclear physics makes little sense. With few jobs and a huge price of admission, it's no wonder we aren't further along in using the atomic nucleus more effectively.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Volcanoes ?

          "here will also be some downward convection"

          That's at the subduction zones. There are usually volcanoes quite near them on the principle that what goes down must come up. I don't know how the timescale works for that relative to nuclear wast half lives. Anybody?

      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Volcanoes ?

        I wonder if there is the potential to dig a deep hole down to allow a controllable amount of heat to to be released from the Earth's core to generate power? But the risk would be that eventually we might chill the core and cancel the magnetic field.

        It looks like the wind, sea, and sunlight energy is the most efficient and would work well if we simply became much more efficient in our energy use.

        1. Oglethorpe

          Re: Volcanoes ?

          That's geothermal power. You can do it anywhere but, outside of helpful locations, the effort needed to drill the hole and maintain it is uneconomical. Consider that the crust is roughly equivalent in scaled thickness to the skin of an apple; humanity could boil all the water in all the oceans and the layers below would scarcely notice.

          Equally, non-nuclear power suffers from either being unreliable or requiring an enormous effort to extract in sufficient amounts to satisfy global energy needs. There's also consequences to some types of energy extraction, such as the enormous amount of warming methane (far worse than carbon dioxide) released by hydroelectric dams.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Volcanoes ?

            "On average, the temperature increases by about 25°C for every kilometer of depth."

            I'm not sure how much heat is actually needed, but with the sort of technology used in ground- or air-sourced heat pumps, it seems like not a lot. There's a project about a mile up the road from me where they are drilling down to old mine workings, the plan being to extract the heat from the water down there for a local home heating. I'm not aware of the economics or grants/subsidies involved, and they seem to have been drilling for an awful long time. But that's probably exacerbated by it being a residential and shopping area so can't drill when people are literally 10-15 meters away and would like to sleep :-)

            Probably not useful for electricity generation, but certainly one solution for heating.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Volcanoes ?

            "You can do it anywhere but, outside of helpful locations, the effort needed to drill the hole and maintain it is uneconomical"

            What people fail to appreciate is that rock is a VERY good thermal insulator and pulling heat out of the ground invarably ends up not being replaced as fast as it's extracted

            Just about every geothermal field created has ended up losing 20-25% output in the decade after construction

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Volcanoes ?

              "What people fail to appreciate is that rock is a VERY good thermal insulator and pulling heat out of the ground invarably ends up not being replaced as fast as it's extracted"

              People don't think about the words "rock wool insulation". Basically, spun lava just like candy floss (cotton candy).

          3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Coat

            outside of helpful locations

            It's beleived that in the North Sea, the skin of the Earth is very thin, around 900m in fact.

            And the North Sea has 100s of boreholes you could stick a borehole heat exchanger down (yes they are a thing). Work in the US estimates each hole could be good for 3MW.

            That's most of the eqivalent of each of those 1/2 Eiffel Tower sized wind turbines.

            Wiith a borehole lifespane driven by the nuclear decay heat of the Earth's magma.

            IOW say a 1000 000 years.

        2. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Volcanoes ?

          Geothermal works just fine, but doesn't scale.

          We are a VERY long way short of our needs, heating and transport use a huge amount of energy.

          OFGEM estimate that the average UK home uses about 10MWh of gas, and 3MWh of electricity per year.

          Assuming you replace the gas with electric heat pumps, that means doubling the electric demand for heating alone. Most of that is during winter, when there is very little solar and wind.

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Volcanoes ?

            "Geothermal works just fine, but doesn't scale."

            Current technology allows us to pick low-hanging fruit where the earth's crust is warmer close to the surface. Otherwise you have to dig very deep to 'only' get heat that's enough for municipal / water heating (which is still good). A lot of research is being done into improving drilling technology to be able to reach depths (IIRC 10km+) where it is consistently hot enough (250-300 C) to produce 'high-quality' steam that can be used in current steam turbines to generate electricity.

            We already have the capacity to do so (deepest drilling is over 12km) but at the moment it's expensive and difficult. The great promise of the technology is that if it could be made economical it would essentially solve energy forever (since there is enough heat in the earth's crust to provide all humanity's needs for millions of years)

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Volcanoes ?

              250-300C is not high quality steam. It's not even "dry" steam

              At that temperature you're facing major erosion problems on your turbines and consequent very high maintenance costs

              Geothermal water is invariably highly silicated too, which comes with its own sets of problems

              1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                Unhappy

                "250-300C is not high quality steam. It's not even "dry" steam"

                True.

                But the steam coming out a PWR at 306c is barely better.

    2. jwatkins

      Re: Volcanoes ?

      Aren't volcanoes where magma/lava/whatever is coming *up*, not down?

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Volcanoes ?

        Indeed, a fast moving subduction zone would be a far better place to dump the nasties.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Volcanoes ?

          "fast" being a relative term, especially in geology :-)

        2. IceC0ld

          Re: Volcanoes ?

          and then it 'subducts' the waste straight into a volcano and spews all the sh1t right back at us :o)

          and yea, fast in geological terms is still glacial in the speed section

          1. Xalran

            Re: Volcanoes ?

            Actually glaciers are faster than tectonic plates... but that's nitpicking.

            the best way to get rid of the actual nuclear waste stockpile is to recycle and reuse....

            there's reactor types that can reduce the long half life wastes into short half life ones... and produce electricity along the way... but they weren't developed as it's ( extremely ) hard to get Plutonium or U235 out of them.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Volcanoes ?

              The one that was developed was shitcanned by Nixon in 1972 because it would have allowed civil nuclear power to divorce itself from (very expensive) plutonium/U235 and thereby expose the military systems to limitaion treaties as they lost "dual purpose" production exemptions

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Biggest hurdle is trust

    I think the biggest hurdle to adoption of more nuclear power is trust - and lack thereof.

    The few scenarios below are partly very hyperbolic and partly somewhat conceivable (it's left up to the reader to sort them).

    "The newest designs are extremely safe" - if no corners are cut in the construction process, in the continued maintenance, and eventually I imagine in the decommissioning.

    "The waste can be handled safely" - but might not be everywhere, if it's deemed overall cheaper not to, or there might be money to be made selling the stuff to various organisations who'd want to really proliferate it amongst their enemies.

    And so on.

    No private company would ever put profit before safety. All government oversight and licensing is always fully funded and ensures compliance and safety.

    I'm not necessarily against nuclear energy, but I think a lack of trust - generally - in companies, politicians, and governments is a huge hurdle for anyone wanting more nuclear power. And that can't be fixed by a nuclear power lobby, given that it pervades across society.

    For a nuclear power plant we have to trust the government, the agencies, the companies, and the employees not just now, but for 50+ years.

    Good luck with that.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Biggest hurdle is trust

      It doesn't help having industrial qualities of mistrust being manufactured by those who fail to compare one technology with another.

  18. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Green lunacy

    The push for using unreliable renewables at all cost reminds me of a boss who is presented with a POC an engineer knocked over a weekend and then mandating production rollout across the organisation, even if the POC does not actually work in most cases.

    The current renewables are too expensive and too unreliable to be relied upon. We can't afford it. That does not mean the idea should be abandoned. We just need to spend more time on research.

    1. codejunky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Green lunacy

      @elsergiovolador

      This is where mothballing existing power plants (coal) makes little sense. Run them to the end of their lives and phase in the new technology as it matures if it works. In the meantime build something that does work to provide the power (coal/gas/nuke). I like many dont really care where my energy comes from as long as its cheap and plentiful.

      This has got so out of hand that schools are considering 3 day weeks due to the costs. The NHS cant switch off and the gov will be the last to have their lights go out. All of this adds to the tax bill as well as our consumer costs for something we have been able to produce reliably for some considerable time. Cheaper energy also cheapens the research costs of new technologies.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Green lunacy

        The coal plants need shutting down immediately, if not sooner. We genuinely cannot afford to burn any more coal at all.

        The trouble is that we're increasing the base load (electric transport, heating) but refusing to build anything to actually generate that base load.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Green lunacy

          @Richard 12

          "The coal plants need shutting down immediately, if not sooner. We genuinely cannot afford to burn any more coal at all."

          Why? Of course we can still burn coal, we have plenty of it and we can build much cleaner ones than the brown coal plants powering Germany. Coal is cheap and we know how to make it work easily plus when we need power over winter they get turned back on because they are reliable.

          "The trouble is that we're increasing the base load (electric transport, heating) but refusing to build anything to actually generate that base load."

          Very true. I have been saying this for a while as a lot of money in tax and rising consumer bills has gone into mass deploying technology that is not ready to be deployed for energy generation. Yet plans for nukes have been made and scrapped for decades now.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Green lunacy

            The Tufton Street is strong in this one.

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              The Tufton Street is strong in this one.

              Maybe.

              But I find myself reading his comments and thinking "So that's how Vlad wants the discussion to go."

              1. codejunky Silver badge
                Meh

                Re: The Tufton Street is strong in this one.

                @John Smith 19

                "But I find myself reading his comments and thinking "So that's how Vlad wants the discussion to go.""

                Ok but why? Its not like my comments support Putin at all nor do my opinions support his goals nor would help his actions.

                If you look around the room is Vlad there with you now? Look out of the window, do you see him in the clouds looking at you? Or has your obsession brought him closer and have his bare chested physique staring at you from your computers wallpaper?

                Actually you can skip all those questions except the first. Why?

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The Tufton Street is strong in this one.

                "So that's how Vlad wants the discussion to go."

                I'm guessing a lot of Tufton Street funding comes from Mother Russia anyway. Why else would they be so cagey about where all their money comes from?

          2. adam 40 Silver badge

            Re: Green lunacy

            If you consider heating, and by that I think you mean things like heat pumps (but also storage heaters, immersion heaters etc) maybe what we should be doing is using the relatively large thermal mass of what we are heating, for storage?

            If we make the heating appliances clever, so they turn off when there's a demand event (such as kettles on at half time) then we can smooth out the peaks with little loss of utility.

            Maybe what we need is some intelligent end-end dynamic price setting, so end users can choose what they want to pay for a certain level of utility, and over that price, they automatically don't get it. For example, for 16C in my home I'll pay 25p/kWh, but for 22C I'll only pay 7p/kWh. So I get a warmer house when it's cheaper.

  19. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge

    Nuclear power has "zero emissions"?

    What about the waste heat from the cooling towers, so that the used turbine steam can be condensed to water again?

    Waste heat is still heat, and I thought the whole problem on this planet was the greenhouse gases holding in too much heat!

    (I'm actually for safe nuclear and agree with the article's main point. But literally everything -- including our own bodies, even just our brains -- makes waste heat. Nothing is truly zero emissions.)

    Oh... zero GHG emissions... well, that's different. Don't forget your qualifier next time! (And again, we humans are non-zero. I need an office plant to balance out my hot air.)

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Nuclear power has "zero emissions"?

      "What about the waste heat from the cooling towers"

      What about it?

      By comparison with the blanket effect of CO2 emissions trapping petawatts of reflected sunlight it's down in the noise

      You'd need tens(hundreds) of thousands of such plants to have the same effect as tweaking CO2 levels

  20. GidaBrasti
    Mushroom

    About Accidents

    >>> Those accidents shouldn't have happened

    Well, no accident should ever have happened, but they do. They will always happen. That's the definition of an accident.

    The only difference of a plumbing accident and a nuclear accident is that the latter has a rather more lasting effect on human life and affects a slightly wider area.

    When nuclear plants start to appear in any conceivable place and accidents start happening making large swathes of our planet uninhabitable for an undetermined amount of time, are we supposed to play Judge Dread and convene into Mega-Cities ?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: About Accidents

      Agreed. Coal tip collapses and dam collapses* also shouldn't occur. We need to take them all into account when making decisions.

      * Tailings dams from mineral extraction holding back toxic waste as well as hydroelectric dams.

  21. elregidente

    "David JC MacKay", "Sustainable Energy"

    There's a free book (Google it and you should fine it) by "David JC MacKay", titled "Sustainable Energy", from I think 2007.

    He looks at how much energy we need, and what for, as a single country and as a global civilization.

    Then looks at how much energy we could make from each type of renewable - both in theory (10% of the UK covered with wind turbines) and practice..

    Conclusion is this : there are only two renewable sources which can provide country or civilization scale energy.

    One is nuclear, the other is solar in deserts.

    (And when we say solar, we mean installations 100km square).

    The USA can do both, in the UK it's nuclear only, unless we want to put solar in North African deserts and trust those countries to be stable (and Tunisia, the only real hope there, is now heading back to dictatorship).

    We need to replace more or less our entire energy generation plant with nuclear, and we need to do it, stat, NOW.

    As an aside, carbon capture from the air is a complete white elephant.

    The problem is you need energy to do it, you need a *lot* - country sized installations - and of course it need to be *renewable* energy.

    It's a non-starter. We've failed now to replace our existing plant, which is not far from capacity, even remotely with renewables.

    I recall we had to roughly double it for country-wide carbon capture.

    This is not on the cards, which mean carbon capture is not on the cards.

    Anyway, none of this is going to happen. Mass nuclear or mass renewables just is not going to occur in anything like the time frame needed.

    As such, catastrophic climate change will occur, and by the time it's so bad people will bite the bullet, it will be about two or three decades too late.

    We are stuffed, and many billions are going to starve and dehydrate to death.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "David JC MacKay", "Sustainable Energy"

      "As such, catastrophic climate change will occur,"

      I'm still waiting.... every time then claim it is x years away and we reach that point and nothing has happened.

      Making claims like this is very profitable for people. Actually solving the problem is not. How will the next generation of climate scientists or green startups get funding if the problem is solved? :)

      Due to the way UK electricity prices are linked to the price of natural gas the current gas issues are being VERY profitable for the big solar and wind operators. We keep getting told that wind and solar are so much cheaper but why do bills keep going up? Germany has a huge amount of wind and solar and bills over there are going through the roof.

      1. Spanners Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: "David JC MacKay", "Sustainable Energy"

        but why do bills keep going up?

        What % of our electricity production is from renewables and what is fossil?

        A handy app on my phone tells me that, right now, it is 31% for natural gas, and 1.5% for coal. Conversely, it is 13.3% for nuclear, 9.7% solar, 6.7% wind and 8.4% biomass (whatever that is).

        There are various others including 5.1% France so that's mostly nuclear as well.

        Sometimes it is a lot more natural gas and I have no idea why we are using any coal nowadays!

        At times, more than half of our generation is fossil-based. That is the one where prices go up. If we tripled our wind generation, we could sometimes be like the Northern isles that generate more KWh from wind than they actually use and the prices would be less prone to going up based on the craziness of some old KGB guy!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "David JC MacKay", "Sustainable Energy"

          The UK electricity consumer price is based *solely* on the price of gas-generated electricity - i.e. the actual mix of power sources does not affect the consumer price. This is as agreed between industry and government.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "David JC MacKay", "Sustainable Energy"

          "8.4% biomass (whatever that is)."

          Primarily, that's burning wood. Essentially, the same as a coal fired power station, only it's little pellets of wood blasted into the flames instead of ground up coal dust. Most of the wood pellets are from cutting down trees in the USA and shipping them over to the UK using ships running on the dirtiest most obnoxious "diesel" imaginable. Those US forest are supposed to be fully "sustainable", but some investigation (BBC? Panorama?) have shown they are not always planting any trees to replace them, let alone the better than 1:1 replacement they claim.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "David JC MacKay", "Sustainable Energy"

          "the Northern isles that generate more KWh from wind than they actually use"

          for a few hours, a few days per year

          Denmark, etc have generated net surpluses at times, but they've been shortlived events

          Just because you car can go 120mph, doesn't mean it GOES 120mph all the time - and if you attempt to do it as a sustained thing, it won't last very long

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "David JC MacKay", "Sustainable Energy"

        WHEN it happens, geology shows that the change is rapid and extreme

        The Permian extinction event final act played out in less than a decade (possibly less than 18 months)

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: "David JC MacKay", "Sustainable Energy"

      "As an aside, carbon capture from the air is a complete white elephant."

      It has its place, but it's only viable with nuclear power and for specific applications (long haul air travel)

      in virtually all other scenarios, cables or batteries will be a cheaper/better option

      It's the same issue with selling hydrogen as a replacement for retiuculated gas - why would anyone buy gas that costs 3-5 times as much per kWh as electricity?

  22. yogidude

    Clean up

    For all that nuclear power is safe and renewable energy has a storage challenge. New nuclear is just not looking viable. When the majority of the population has a V2G EV, the storage problem will not be an issue. There are 32 million cars in the UK in 2022. If only 1/3 of those are 70kWH V2G-capable EVs connected to the grid that's 700GWH of storage (or 11h for the entire UK at peak winter use) . The point at which that could happen might still be 20-30 years away. But who is going to invest in a nuclear power station when 25 years (or less) after it comes online it will be obsolete because storage has been democratised.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Clean up

      The vast majority of those cars won't be connected to the grid as not every parking space (at home, at work, at the shops) will have a charging plug.

      Also we need more than 11 hours of storage for a cold, windless, dark winter.

      And this is ignoring where we get the material for all the batteries.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Clean up

        To say nothing of how to get to work in the morning.

      2. yogidude

        Re: Clean up

        Are you sure the UK needs more than 11 h of peak winter storage? Peak usually only lasts for a few hours each day. Besides that, you seem to be assuming that the UK would have no other storage or generation and that it would be running entirely off V2G for 11 hours each day all year round, while everyone in the UK has all the heaters and lights on while cooking dinner all night 365 days a year.

        Even if 1/3 of the vehicles in UK are not connected to the grid all the time, homes will still have batteries as well. In any case it's clear that distributed storage like V2G is going to make large-scale power generation a thing of the past. That includes nuclear, coal and gas.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Clean up

          "Peak usually only lasts for a few hours each day"

          When you eliminate oil/gas heating systems (2025 onwards), expand your EV fleet and start "encouraging" industrial processes to decarbonise, "Peak" ends up being a relic of the past

          V2G is hideously expensive to implement in practice and vehicle owners expect to be compensated for use of their batteries.

          The same amount of money builds very large stationary power reserve systems without needing to worry about hundreds of thousands of individual sources and such a system is vastly more flexible in terms of grid-stabilisation (eliminating OGT peaking plants, providing frequency stabilisation and numerous other grid-scale facilities that a bunch of 7-21kW sources simply can't do

          In other words: V2G is obsolete already. It's being pushed by those who don't understand that but have the ability to compel spending "other people's money" on a system which won't actually result in a public benefit

          V2G might be of use to allow YOUR house to turn itself into an island in the event of a blackout, but that's going to need more control logic as virtually all these systems require the presence of grid power (and a frequency reference) to run in the first place

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Clean up

      The concept of V2G as an option to "plug the holes" caused be renewables really winds me up. It is total and utter bollocks.

      It is people just trying to find any sort of justification for unreliable "renewable" generation and make it appear viable. At the scale humanity consumes power, renewables are not currently viable as the sole source of power. Lithium batteries, are another total environmental disaster that is carefully avoided being discussed because it mostly does not take place where the bulk of the consumption is.

      Hugely damaging to build and very difficult to recycle but hey, people can have an EV and believe their transport CO2 footprint is zero.

      1. Oglethorpe

        Re: Clean up

        V2G will also fuel inequality. If you're wealthy, you'll be able to afford to drive whenever you want. If you're poor, you're going to have to plan your life around peak demands or accept that driving (disconnecting your EV from the grid and leaving time for it to recharge before the peak) will cost you more. Compare that to the current situation, where the fuel in your vehicle is yours to use as you see fit.

    3. seldom

      Re: Clean up

      Where did this 700GWH come from?

      1. yogidude

        Re: Clean up

        70kWH battery in each car (on average) x 10 million cars. That gives 7 followed by 11 naughts in watt-hours. 700 GWH

        In 20y the storage capacity per EV will likely be higher.

        But even if you only allow for 50kWH in each car battery, distributed storage is still compelling. It's also much more democratic than relying on a few profit oriented power companies to deliver for the future.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Clean up

          This is compete and utter bollocks of the highest order

          If I get in my car after an overnight charge and find LESS energy available in it than the night before, I'm going to be mightily pissed off and looking for blood because I can't commute to work

          At best, V2G will only be tolerated by vehicle owners if it is limited to 5-10% off a fully charged battery and attempting to force them to participate in "power sharing" scams will result in widespread litigation and simple rebellions along the lines of adding software to disconnect their vehicle as soon as a discharge is noted

          Let's not forget that batteries have a limited cycle life and this kind of activity is not free. If owners are not handsomely compensated for wear and tear, then it will get very ugly, very quickly

          1. adam 40 Silver badge

            Re: Clean up

            On the other hand, if the vehicle charges on your premises at a lower unit price (while it's cheaper overnight) and then gives you back in the morning when you boil your kettle before you set off, saving you money, it's a win-win.

            What is needed is some intelligence in dynamic consumer pricing of electricity.

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      25 years (or less) after it comes online it will be obsolete..storage has been democratised.

      I want some of what he's smoking.

      That is primo stuff.

  23. JoeCool
    Flame

    Two flaws with this opinion piece

    First, it assumes that humanity NEEDS to continue consuming current levels of power, as a justification for Nuclear.

    However, that's not a mitigation for the dangers. Whatever level of energy that we can produce, sustainably, that's what we should be limited to.

    More concretely, about that danger, in the form of waste ...

    This article and several of the comments below and even general sentiment doesn't seem to give this problem enough weight..

    Below is a link to a technical discussion of the problem, and the amount of effort that needs to be put into a solution. But I'll quote from it's synopsis here:

    " More than a quarter million metric tons of highly radioactive waste sits in storage near nuclear power plants and weapons production facilities worldwide ... Emitting radiation that can pose serious risks to human health and the environment, the waste, much of it decades old, awaits permanent disposal in geological repositories, but none are operational".

    "All these wastes can remain dangerously radioactive for many thousands of years."

    https://cen.acs.org/environment/pollution/nuclear-waste-pilesscientists-seek-best/98/i12

    On a related point, the WIPP plans are pretty cool. This is a good, thought-provoking presentation of them.

    https://thenarwhal.ca/nuclear-waste-ignace-bruce/

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      You fail physics forever

      If it lasts for thousands of years, by definiton it's not dangeroursly radioactive.

      If it's dangerously radioactive, by definition it won't last for thousands of years.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: You fail physics forever

        It's a multivariate thing: how much is there, what's its half live and what's it emitting and at what energy? Then there's can the ticking bits be separated out and can they be usefully recycled? But it's all just "nuclear waste" and regarded as all the same thing.

      2. dajames Silver badge

        Re: You fail physics forever

        If it lasts for thousands of years, by definiton it's not dangeroursly radioactive.

        There are a number of different factors at play. A radioactive element that has a long half-life emits radiation at a low rate, but if that radiation is particularly energetic it is dangerous.

        Another radioactive element with a much less energetic decay but a shorter half-life may also be dangerous because it emits radiation at a higher rate.

        239Pu has a half-life of around 24 thousand years, but that hardly makes it "not dangerous"!

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

          Re: You fail physics forever

          And the safe containment for 239Pu is................... (drumroll) a paper bag. big fat lardy alpha particles can barely make it through a couple of inches of air let alone a paper bag.

          Although to be fair one of those foil lined plastic bags you can reseal would be better as the dangerous part of Pu is dust particles coming off, lodging in your lungs/body and those alpha particles would have an easy job diddling with your DNA.

          Anyway... have you installed a loverly piece of cornish granite as a top surface for your kitchen........ you are getting more radiation from that than you would living next door to nuclear power station or sellafield's low level waste dump....

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            Re: You fail physics forever

            Some particles will make it through. Even if it is only 1%, if you have higher concentration or a lot of it I wouldn't want that either. I'd prefer a metal container here, like those on Voyager, Curiosity or Perseverance.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: You fail physics forever

          Even at 24k year halflife, Pu239 isn't particularly radiologically dangerous. You're more likely to get a thermal burn from it than a radiation one.

          The chemical effects are far more of an issue (think mercury poisoning, but much worse, whilst uranium sits in the lead poisoning tree)

          The group of people with highest radiation exposures are SMOKERS(*), thanks to natural polonium accumulation on tobacco leaves. Even then the incidence of long-term lung cancers seems more attributable to its decay to lead products deep in the lungs, rather than the alpha particle emissions

          (*) A pack-a-day smoker gets an annual dose several hundred times the allowable one for nuclear workers. Aircrew also get very high doses. They're not dying like flies either

          Life evolved in a high radiation environment and has a very good error correction/apoptosis process as a result. (one of the problems with getting a high rad dose is that it kills off your white blood cells and gives any naturally/chemically induced cancers which might otherwise be stomped on a chance to get a headstart)

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: You fail physics forever

          "239Pu has a half-life of around 24 thousand years, but that hardly makes it "not dangerous"!"

          The biggest danger of PU is its toxicity. Humans have zero tolerance for the metal. The radiation is just an unwanted side effect.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: You fail physics forever

        and in either case you can probably just toss it into a molten salt design to be burned down anyway

        MSRs should achieve 98-99% burnup of input fuel without problem as well as being able to eat depleted uranium (11kg per 1kg of 3% "reactor fuel") and "nuclear waste", thanks to their innate ability to extract and isolate gaseous fission products whilst operating

        (No, molten salt does NOT mean "highly corrosive". That's another piece of FUD by various vested interests)

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: You fail physics forever

          "MSRs should achieve 98-99% burnup of input fuel without problem as well as being able to eat depleted uranium (11kg per 1kg of 3% "reactor fuel") and "nuclear waste", thanks to their innate ability to extract and isolate gaseous fission products whilst operating"

          That alone should justify the development program in the US. Even if it turns out to "only" be half as good as all that, it's better than trying to store the waste someplace that hasn't been selected in more than 50 years.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Two flaws with this opinion piece

      "First, it assumes that humanity NEEDS to continue consuming current levels of power, as a justification for Nuclear."

      ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ON BRO'

      We need to be planning for a FAR BIGGER consumption as the poorer parts of the world get lifted up to modern levels. Demand will increase dramatically, not remain stable at current levels.

      Oh, hang on. I just read the rest of your comments. Your plan is to decimate the worlds population while dragging the remains of the advanced countries back down to the levels of the 3rd world. Good luck with that!

      Interesting quote though. About the only people I ever hear use the term "metric tons" are Americans who wan