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Power Earth

Should Nuclear and Renewable Energy Supporters Stop Fighting? 551

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the pixie-dust-saves-the-day dept.
Lasrick writes "A debate is happening in the pages of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that started with their publication of 'Nuclear vs. Renewables: Divided They Fall,' an article by Dawn Stover that chides nuclear energy advocates and advocates of renewable energy for bickering over the deck chairs while climate change sinks the ship, and while the fossil fuel industry reaps the rewards of the clean energy camp's refusal to work together. Many of the clean energy folks took umbrage at the description of nuclear power as 'clean energy,' so the Civil Society Institute has responded with a detailed look at exactly why they believe nuclear power will not be needed as the world transitions to clean energy."
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Should Nuclear and Renewable Energy Supporters Stop Fighting?

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  • Wind and solar have variable output, so they need to be partnered with flexible power generation. Nuclear is fundamentally inflexible because you can't quickly ramp up or down electricity output from a nuclear power plant. See this short video for a nice explanation of the incompatibility: http://www.ilsr.org/coal-nucle... [ilsr.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You could vary price of the energy depending on the time of day. Factories would then align energy usage to peak production hours. You always have a few nuclear reactors giving you a baseline of power.

      I am not sure how you would regulate consumer usage at 6-7pm, when it is highest. If you can figure out how to store it for a few hours, you will make bank.
      • by Ex-MislTech (557759) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @02:28PM (#46164285)

        Current power storage that is working at Andasol solar array is Molten salt.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

        They recently added enough storage to make power 24 hours a day.

        Another power storage scheme is water reservoir pumping, its done
        by several US dams already.

      • by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:09PM (#46164729)

        That is actually done to a very large extent now. Foundries running electric arc furnaces or induction furnaces only run in the off-peak period, currently at night. This artificially increases base loads.

        The problem with trying to match generation with demand is that you still have a transmission/distribution problem. Distributed generation is the only way to really solve that, and again economics make it difficult to distribute power generation to the point where local demand is matched to local production in both capacity and timing.

        People are trying to get closer to this-- automated demand response can help a little bit.

        The California ISO is pretty open with information. They track [caiso.com] daily anticipated demand, actual demand, and available capacity. Some actually predict that solar energy that is not time-shifted will become nearly worthless in five years.

    • by e70838 (976799) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:39PM (#46163203)
      Nuclear is inflexible. I think nuclear plant should produce hydrogen during low load period and that cars should run on hydrogen. In Germany, they have stopped using nuclear, the result is more pollution caused by coal. Il think nuclear is the less bad solution until solar solutions are developed.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Coal is inflexible too. The money needs to go into more renewables and into energy storage. All the necessary technology exists, it just needs building, and there is only so much money to go around which is one reason why we don't want it spent on nuclear.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          All the necessary technology exists

          The renewable generation of power tech exists, but we don't have any way to store base line grid power yet. The super simplified example, is night time. How are you going to store enough energy to power the US while it's dark?

          That said, yes we need to be plowing money into renewables, it's an investment that will pay itself off many times over...but unfortunately over a number of decades and so private industry simply isn't going to do that.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            "The renewable generation of power tech exists, but we don't have any way to store base line grid power yet. The super simplified example, is night time. How are you going to store enough energy to power the US while it's dark?"

            Reactors can throttle about 10% on a daily basis. Night time loads are about 55% of daytime. So where are the reactors storing that power now?

            Oh what , they don't do that? They actually use other forms of power to fill in?

            Exactly.

            • We had that problem in the UK. So we built a big pumped-storage machine. The efficiency loss isn't good, but it works.

              • Any links? I find it hard to believe you could do even 1/2 of base load grid power that way. Sure, 'technically' it's doable, but the reality of suitable sites for putting all that pumped stuff (I'm assuming water?) limits how much you can actually scale.
                • by mrvan (973822) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:52PM (#46163927)

                  According to the wiki on Pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PSH), 'PSH accounts for more than 99% of bulk storage capacity worldwide: around 127,000MW, according to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the research arm of America's power utilities.' Since in pumping the size of the reservoir is not the limiting factor, but rather the throughput of the pumps, this means that PSH can be used to store the daily output of 127GW worth of power plants. Britain's consumption is 35.8GW on average, and 57.490GW at peak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_Kingdom), so the global installed PSH's could easily absorb the UK's production.

                  In the UK, however, there seems to be only one plant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinorwig_Power_Station), costing 425M GBP in 1974 capable of absorbing around 1GW worth of power, so nowhere near 50% of base load, so it seems that PSH costs around 425M/1G = 0.5 pounds per watt capacity. Apparently, a new nuclear plant costs about US$ 5,339/kW., or 4 pounds per watt capacity, while windmills cost around 1-2 pounds per watt. So, assuming enough sites for PSH can be found, the costs for power storage capacity seems to be 5-25% of the cost for generation capacity.

                  According to the wiki, "The stalling of the UK nuclear power programme in the late 1980s and the coincident "dash for gas" increased the network's ability to respond to changes in demand, making the use of pumped storage for day/night load balancing less attractive. As a result, a similar facility planned for Exmoor was never built.[2]"; so it seems that at the time the demand is what limited PSH construction, not cost or environmental factors.

                  http://www.world-nuclear.org/i... [world-nuclear.org]
                  http://www.windustry.org/resou... [windustry.org]

            • So where are the reactors storing that power now?

              Short answer - In their fuel. They aren't storing any power at all, they are simply producing it. That's the difference between a power source that uses a physical 'fuel' and one that uses sunlight/wind.

              Your example would work if the reactors only ran in the day time and then somehow that energy had to be stored for use at night as well. It isn't.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            You don't need to store baseline grid power, you just build enough renewable energy to cover it.

            For other intermittent sources there are a number of options, including batteries. Some 200MW wind farms in Japan have 50MW backup batteries. When the wind is low (it never stops) the batteries smooth the output. They use sodium sulphur cells, easy to recycle and not damaging to the environment, heated with solar for extra efficiency. Even on an overcast day solar heating works at about 70% efficiency.

            Also, note

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by jklovanc (1603149)

              Do you even know anything about these technologies?

              Wind works 24/7

              Wind varies from 0% capacity to 100% capacity minute by minute. It is not constant. There is also an upper limit to wind speed as turbines have to be stopped to prevent damage.

              Solar thermal collectors would work well in the US and are 24/7 with constant,

              They work well in the US south west. Most of the world does not have those kind of condition including the weather and ample free area. Sure the Sahara is similar but there seems to be some geopolitical issues with building there right now. Where are those conditions anywhere near Chi

              • by polar red (215081)

                Wind varies from 0% capacity to 100% capacity minute by minute. It is not constant. There is also an upper limit to wind speed as turbines have to be stopped to prevent damage.

                Are you building ALL your turbines at the same place ? geographical distribution removes intermittency.

                • by jklovanc (1603149) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @05:41PM (#46166471)

                  This is an example of a false model of how the grid works. It appears that you believe that no matter where the electricity is injected into the grid it is immediately available to all users of the grid. This is the lake model of the grid. No matter where on the lake the electricity is injected it can be extracted anywhere else. This is a an inaccurate model. Am more accurate model is a canal system where the transmission lines are the waterways. Electricity can be injected into the canals but it has to be switched and transported through transmission lines. These lines have load limits and line loss. If there is a major storm in Norther Europe and the closest working turbines are in Spain the transmission line between Spain and Germany have to have the capacity to transmit all that power. Right now they do not and it is very expensive to put in such high capacity lines.

                • by jklovanc (1603149)

                  tke a look at this [fraunhofer.de] document. It is real data from the German electricity system. Look at the weekly charts starting on page 101. The green band is the wind generated power. Notice some days there is a lot (jan 3) while other days there is almost none (jan 12). Wind power is not consistent

                  From that same report Germany had 32.5GW of installed wind power and produced a total of 47.2 TWh of electricity. If the turbines produced 100% capacity they could have produced 284.7 TWh but they only produced 11% of that.

        • Coal is inflexible too. The money needs to go into more renewables and into energy storage. All the necessary technology exists, it just needs building, and there is only so much money to go around which is one reason why we don't want it spent on nuclear.

          Meh, all that crap will take to long. In just a few short years our species will consume more energy than we can produce with all of those combined. So not only is the sum of them insufficient, the pollution involved in mining and harvesting the resources, construction of the facilities, all the infrastructure, and so on will destroy the planet just as part of the opportunity cost.

          We need to cut our losses, start researching and building generational spaceships, and roll out the lottery to find the lucky f

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:00PM (#46163381)

        I think nuclear plant should produce hydrogen during low load period and that cars should run on hydrogen.

        Hydrogen powered cars face huge technological and economic hurdles with no solutions on the horizon. Unless there are unforeseen breakthroughs, the car of the future is going to be powered by electric batteries, not hydrogen. Besides, electricity-to-hydrogen-back-to-electricity has a round trip efficiency of less than 50%.

        In Germany, they have stopped using nuclear, the result is more pollution caused by coal.

        Germany is a classic example of idiotic and counter-productive policies driven by environmentalism run amok. There are some good arguments against building new nukes. But it is insane to shutdown existing nukes. Their solar energy mandates are another example of bad policy: they have resulted in a large percentage of the world's solar panels being installed in one of the cloudiest places on earth, rather than where they actually make sense.

        The Green Party in Germany has had a taste of political power, and like most idealists, they have abandoned their ideals in pursuit of more power. So they engage in sound-bite politics and propose simplistic solutions to complex problems. The environment suffers, but hey, their poll numbers to up!

        • The German Green Party may expound a lot of nonsense but Merkel isn't in the Green Party. She is in the CDU right-winged conservative party.

          • Yes, but the Greens have way too much influence to be safely ignored. Politicians don't like throwing away votes that other parties will easily catch.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      In the short term anyway. Variable sources need a method to store the energy for when the supply is low. This is the biggest thing holding back renewables right now.

      In regards to climate, nuclear is the only viable option (and I *hate* nuclear!) going forward until we have new technology that stores energy more densely, more efficiently and cheaper than is available today.

      A wild guess is probably 100 years or so before we can truly move to renewable sources only, for base line grid power.
      • by Burz (138833)

        Nuclear is no better than variable, because it can't match the variation of actual demand. It needs storage as much as renewables do in order to operate economically.

        I say, just take all that hydropower that was built to store nuclear off-peak generation and use it to store wind and solar instead.

        • just take all that hydropower that was built to store nuclear off-peak generation

          What fraction of a percent of the grid load is this able to store? Seriously, you'd need to flood a few states hundreds of feet deep to provide power to the whole country.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:00PM (#46163389)

      Yes, that is why nuclear powered ships and subs have to boil the ocean, clouding port cities with steam whenever they want to stop... no wait, they don't. They just turn down their variable output. Nuclear is the perfect partner power generation to renewable.

      They can simply lower the control rods in the reactor when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing:

      http://www.duke-energy.com/about-energy/generating-electricity/nuclear-how.asp

      • It is variable, but it has to be precisely controlled. Given what's at work, generous safety margins should be employed as well. What this means, in practice, is that it takes time.

        Sometimes, you need a lot more power during the next 10 minutes and then you go back to your baseline. Nuclear isn't fast enough. Hydro is and that's why it's so popular as storage.

    • I think that's a little extreme. Power storage isn't an impossible task.

    • by mlts (1038732) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:03PM (#46163423)

      Until fusion is everywhere, not one single energy source can serve our needs:

      1: Thorium fission reactors need a look at. Yes, there have been working ones, almost 40 years ago. Cheap, effective, scalable, and a lot of energy in a relatively small chunk of real estate.

      2: We need energy dense batteries. We have come a long way, but things will change big time when we start getting within an order of magnitude of gasoline for energy stored per volume. When this happens, car engines can be tossed for electric motors.

      3: With all the advances in solar, from window tint PV panels to cheap panels for large surfaces, to high efficiency panels to get the best bang per buck out of small areas (RV rooftops), solar is a "why not?", rather than a "why?". The best use would be hybrid systems that can charge batteries, and when the batteries are charged, then feed the grid. That way, one is guaranteed very clean power on the circuits the batteries feed (assuming a quality inverter.) Solar is a must have for virtually any installation.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      So, hook the nuclear power plant up to batteries, a flywheel, or pump some water uphill for hydroelectric when needed. Or shit, just provision for maximum capacity and release waste heat when it's not all needed. This is not a serious practical objection to nuclear power.

      • by cheesybagel (670288) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:37PM (#46163773)

        Its bullshit. The French vary their reactor power output from 30% to 100% capacity and they can vary output by 5% per minute. Nuclear does not have any problem coping with load demands from daytime to nighttime. How did you think the French handled the loads to begin with when over half of their production was nuclear?

        The problem is having power on demand. I want to turn on the heating *now* now wait until the wind blows of the sun shines. If I could wait until the sun shined I wouldn't need heating to begin with. Duh.

    • by Guspaz (556486) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:05PM (#46163455) Homepage

      France uses their nuclear plants for load-following: they can ramp up/down their nuclear plants at about 5% per minute. That means that you only need to back your wind/solar with a few minutes worth of battery capacity to work in tandem with the nuclear plants.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:08PM (#46163501)

      Also, hippies don't compromise. Once they have it in their head that solar and wind are the way to go, then those are the ONLY way to go and YOU MUST DO IT THAT WAY AND NO OTHER WAY!!!!!!! No amount of reasoning will sell them on hydroelectric, nuclear, or natural gas (even pointing out that they're all much better for reducing CO2 than continuing with coal).

      For environmentalists, it's not about taking reasonable steps, making reasonable compromises, working together, etc. It's about a cause. And the best causes for them are the ones that they can't win, allowing them to relish in the warmth of perpetual self-righteous victimhood.

      • Mod parent up. The real problem, as usual, exists between the chair and the keyboard, and is not technological.

      • by floobedy (3470583) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:21PM (#46164889)

        That is exactly the problem. The article makes it seem as if pro-nuclear and greenie types are attacking each other. In fact, the attacks are entirely in one direction: from the greenies, toward nuclear power. I don't see many pro-nuclear people protesting the construction of new wind farms. Nor do pro-nuclear people attack solar power. Usually, pro-nuclear people are comfortable with both nuclear and renewables, and want both.

        The greenies insist that power generation must be renewable only, and if they don't get exactly that, then they'd rather just burn coal and have global warming (witness Germany).

        From the article:

        Meanwhile, it’s time to stop wasting ammunition on friendly fire. If activists care about the climate as much as they say they do, they should focus on their areas of agreement, rather than their differences.

        But greenies obviously do not care about the climate as much as they say they do. It's not among their top priorities. Their first priority is shutting down nuclear power even if that makes climate change worse (witness Germany). Their second priority usually is making sure that food is grown without fertilizer (??). Climate change is usually about their 10th environmental priority, to be sacrificed for any higher priority.

        In California, where I live, greenies protest the construction of new solar power plants. Apparently, solar power plants would ruin the desert. Just solar power isn't good enough. It must be solar power exactly where they want it (apparently not in the desert?), or it's just back to burning fossil fuels.

        • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @04:17PM (#46165465)

          It actually wouldn't surprise me to find that the coal industry was secretly funding some of the more extreme environmental groups. Every time one of them gets on TV and starts in with the "My way or the highway!" routine, it alienates more and more regular people, thus protecting the status quo. If the face of environmentalism were a reasonable person saying "Here's a plan. It's not perfect, and there are some compromises, but it's a big step forward," instead of some hemp-shirt wearing dude with dreads holding a sign protesting *everything*, then the public might actually get on board.

    • I don't understand why massive banks of batteries can't solve this problem- for nuclear, wind, and solar (and wave, and thermocouples, and just about any other semi-passive energy collection method).

      • by ssam (2723487)

        try calculating how massive those battery banks need to be and how much they will cost.

    • Wind and solar have variable output, so they need to be partnered with flexible power generation. Nuclear is fundamentally inflexible because you can't quickly ramp up or down electricity output from a nuclear power plant.

      See this short video for a nice explanation of the incompatibility:
      http://www.ilsr.org/coal-nucle... [ilsr.org]

      Wrong. Nuclear power can load follow (ramp up and down rapidly to meet instantaneous demand) perfectly fine. They just typically do not because they are large baseload plants and there is no reason to run them anything lower than 100% when you need fossil fuel plants to make up the difference. IAANE.

    • Wind and solar have variable output, so they need to be partnered with flexible power generation.

      Another option is to partner variable output with consumption that can tolerate the variation.

      For example, a nitrogen fixation plant based on the Haber process [wikipedia.org]. Fertilizer from this process is responsible for about 1/3 of Earth's food production, and uses 3-5% of our natural gas supply (some for raw Hydrogen, some burned to generate electricity on-site).

      Instead of letting excess energy generation lay fallow, we could route the excess into ad-hoc, non-demand-generated production. For fixing Nitrogen, you cou

    • by ssam (2723487)

      Nuclear output is not varied for practical reasons, not fundamental limitation.

      All current grids with nuclear also have fossil fuels. When demand drops you turn the fossil fuels down, because that saves fuel and fuel dominates the cost of fossil fuel power generation. If you turn the nuclear plant down you don't save any money, costs in nuclear power are dominated by construction, other costs are pretty much independent over whether you are generating power or not.

      If you had a grid with only nuclear, then y

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:31PM (#46163721) Journal
      Your statement is false and shows a lack of knowledge of nuclear reactor design and operation.

      It is quite easy to ramp up electrical output from a nuclear power plant. A good example if a nuclear powered ship or submarine, both of which need to be able to accelerate quickly. Both use electric motors to turn the screws which move the vessel through the water. The electricity is provided via generators connected to steam turbines which are fed steam provided by steam generators heated by the nuclear reactors.

      If more electricity is needed, increase the steam flow and the power output of the plant. The stored heat in the reactor coolant maintains the steam output while the reactor ramps up heat production.

      If less electricity is needed, decrease the steam flow and the power output of the plant. The excess heat is stored in the reactor coolant as increased heat and pressure. This can be bled off by running the reactor at a lower power level.

      If you are wondering how I know this, it is because I have actually training in nuclear reactor plant design and operation.
  • A Fundamental Flaw (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In their own words,

    We commissioned studies to show

    That isn't science, that's paying for confirmation bias.

    • Not necessarily. Read the report. It's more like the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

      Nonetheless, one source is largely renewable and works from small to large scales, recycles its parts fairly well, and is a store-and-forward technology. The other has onerous disposal problems, and a vicious amount of potential vulnerabilities.

      Perhaps one day, spent nuclear fuel could be repurposed and made harmless, but not today. And with rotten designs and poor oversight, nuclear power represents great danger to the envi

  • We need nuclear. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc (621217)
    Look, the problem with fossil fuels isn't that it produces carbon dioxide. Every singly human being produces carbon dioxide when we exhale.

    No, the problem is that we use way, way way too much fossil fuels, producing way, way, way too much carbon dioxide.

    Nucelar power has problems and if we were to use it as much as we use fossil fuels, it would cause the same problem.

    The same problem exists with ALL fuel sources, including so called "renewables". Solar power uses rare metals whose use could be just as

    • Do you have an opinion on thorium salt reactors or other up and coming nuclear power techniques? Do they all have the same sort of problem you are talking about? I keep planning to read up on this more, seriously wondering if you've done so and formed an opinion.
      • Re:We need nuclear. (Score:5, Informative)

        by slew (2918) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:49PM (#46163885)

        Not the orignal poster,but IMO...

        Thorium salt reactors are still "up-and-coming" techniques. Although there have been a small smattering of experiments over time, the only significant testing of the idea was back in the '60s (the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment at Oak Ridge Nation Labs). Although most of the technical hurdles appear to be known, I don't think there is doubt that more work needs to be done to make this production worthy. Some of the biggest issues (e.g, metalugical radiation brittling and salt reprocessing efficiency), are hard to do small scale experiments with so the only real course is to build more experimental reactors to help understand this. Experiments like this are really expensive. The FUJI project (one recent attempt considered to be a leading effort) failed to raise $300M required to build their experimental miniFUJI reactor back in 2011.

        There are also secondary effects that are unknown. Uranium mining of past decades created some pretty bad ecological damage and it is unclear that Thorium minining would be any better (or be similarly econonmical with lower impact mining techniques). There is also the issue with decommissioning (even with existing Light-water reactors, this is an ongoing cost concern). At Thorium Salt Reactor have greater fuel efficiency...

        One of the continuous knocks against Thorium Salt Reactors has also been nuclear proliferation security issues with reprocessing (since the most efficient configuration for Thorium Salt Reactors is a breeder configuration), but although there are some known safeguards available for denaturing to make bomb-capable material difficult to extract, terrorist level dirty-bomb material is always available in large quantities (a different threat model than in the 60's)...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nucelar power has problems and if we were to use it as much as we use fossil fuels, it would cause the same problem.

      No. Look around. Not every nation have the same setup as United States.
      It has nothing to do with what is most efficient or what works, it is all politics. Going mostly or all nuclear is completely viable, you have just decided not to. (Or rather abstained to make a decision.)

      Have a look at Norway for example, they have 99% hydroelectric. Yes, it has its own problems with area used for dams and such but you can go 50/50 hydroelectric and nuclear or 25/75 or whatever you fancy. The interesting thing with hydr

    • by MtViewGuy (197597)

      However, I do want nuclear power advocates to get away from pressurized light water reactors (PWR's). There are so many disadvantages to using PWR's, especially with the use of expensive uranium-235 as fuel and the dangers of using a pressurized reactor vessel.

      Meanwhile, China and DARPA are working on a joint experiment to test scaling up the molten-salt reactor (MSR) design that was successfully tested for nearly a decade at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. If they can scale it up, that means we'll have a n

    • Solar power uses rare metals whose use could be just as bad as fossil fuels.

      Huh? Yes, certain types of thin-film cells use rare and toxic metals. But what about plain old silicon cells, which make up a majority of the PV market? They consist of:

      - silicon (extremely abundant and non-toxic)
      - aluminum for the contacts
      - tiny amounts of boron and phosphorus as dopants.

    • Actually, at least in the United States, all the rivers that can be used for hydro electric are being used for hydro power.

      What we need to do is get over "proliferation" and rewrite some of the damn treaties to allow the reprocessing of spent fuel as well as change our reactor designs over to ones that will burn the spent fuel. I know the Thorium cycle reactors are a lifetime away, for me anyway, from being commercially ready. But you burn up all those bombs and spent fuel rods already created over the ne

    • by ssam (2723487)

      > Nucelar power has problems and if we were to use it as much as we use fossil fuels, it would cause the same problem.

      Nuclear's problems are vastly exaggerated. There are industrial accidents and oil and gas explosions every week that have more fatalities than the Fukushima disaster. Passive safety features in modern designs make them safer still, and that's before fancy designs like subcritical reactors. There are methods of destroying nuclear waste (transmutation) or using it as fuel. People worry abou

  • by Enigma2175 (179646) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:35PM (#46163167) Homepage Journal

    Should we prevent the spread of headlines that end in a question mark?

  • No way (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kohath (38547) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:35PM (#46163169)

    Then they would have to stop fund-raising and find productive jobs.

  • by Mr Krinkle (112489) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:42PM (#46163235) Homepage

    The rebuttal loses me with this line:
    "Nuclear power plants (large or small) and renewables are not compatible technologies. A distributed grid design with high penetrations of variable renewables requires flexible technologies for balancing the system. Both nuclear and coal plants are inflexible. "
    Maybe they don't get what people mean by "flexible" in regards to the grid?
    When people say coal and nuclear are flexible, they don't mean you can move the plant, or install and remove plants at will. What they mean is that the energy production can ramp up quickly when 15,000 people all get home from work and cut their AC on at the same moment...
    yes renewable sources are improving how they can scale and ramp up.

    Nukes are already there. I'm also annoyed at how articles claim normal tax items (vehicle fleet depreciation, etc) as subsidies for one industry, but then say industry X doesn't get subsidies. EVERYONE gets some form of tax breaks when you fill out your taxes. If you don't claim them, well, then that's on you.

    The original article is right. We SHOULD push for more nukes as well as more renewable sources. Getting off of coal / diesel should be the first priority. Eventually if we can wean from nuclear? cool...

    • by Chas (5144)

      Getting off of coal / diesel should be the first priority. Eventually if we can wean from nuclear? cool...

      This pretty much sums it all up.

      Now if only the idiots who're insisting we go whole-hog for energy solutions that WON'T cover all our contingencies would shut the hell up and get out of their own way, we could start working towards this end.

    • by BUL2294 (1081735)
      Renewables may have scaled up already too much in some countries... In January, wholesale prices for electricity in Germany & Nordic countries were negative for a brief period when the January storms sent wind & hydro production up... http://www.reuters.com/article... [reuters.com]

      Nuclear needs to be a "backup option", but it needs to be always on. What do you do, however, when renewables (solar, wind, etc.) are flooding the grid, but with production that could disappear completely with a weather change in a
  • Half the people arguing on behalf of anything should probably shut up about it. There are legitimate arguments for and against solar and nuclear, and I used to really enjoy debating them (hypothetically, what if the government spent the equivalent of R&D on anything besides nuclear?) But these days most "advocates" just bog down the dialectic.

    Take for example the perfectly logical argument in favor of allowing the Keystone pipeline... If you don't build the pipeline, it gets built anyway, and you h

    • re: The Keystone Pipeline.

      Ask Michigan how the cleanup in the Kalamazoo river is going. Unlike 'normal' oil most people are familiar with, heavy crude/tar sand oil sinks in water and cleanup is ridiculously expensive and hard and you don't really ever get your environment back to normal.

      As for the arguments 'for' the pipeline, many of the supporters claim we'll get the refined oil produced. That's wholly untrue. It goes on the market and is up for anybody to buy. It would likely not make much of a
  • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:48PM (#46163283) Homepage Journal

    Nuclear is far from clean, it's just a different kind of dirty.

    Solar/wind/hydro/etc. are "relatively" clean and may be "literally" non-polluting once the plant is built, but they rarely have anything close to zero ecological impact.

    One nearly-inherent aspect of renewables is that they won't "run out" like fossil fuels and uranium. Some carbon-based fuels, such as burning fast-growing plants, are "renewable" in this sense but are far from pollution-free.

    • Uranium "running out" is hundreds or a thousand years away -- assuming we abandon the insanely wasteful "Once through and throw most of the fuel away" cycle. That doesn't count extracting uranium from sea water, which the Japanese demonstrated back in the 70s could be done with an ion exchange process for a few hundred dollars a pound in 1970s dollars. And then there's thorium...

      The omni-obstructionists and the arithmetic denialists oppose any energy source -- that's any energy source -- that risks allowi

  • Like hand and glove (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:58PM (#46163367) Homepage

    http://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/why-solar-is-nuclears-best-friend/

    Been obvious to everyone from the start.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:00PM (#46163383)

    If there has not been such huge pushback on nuclear reactors for decades, there would be far fewer coal fired plants now across the world.

    Look at what France has done, the rest of the world could be just as clean. But we are not, and you can thank supposed "environmentalist" for direct harm for the very thing they claim to want to help.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:53PM (#46163931) Homepage

      Actually France has some major problems. Apart from a string of low level but concerning accidents over the years they suffered from power cuts when the weather got too warm for the plants to operate. At first they tried dumping hot water into lakes, killing much of the wildlife living there, but had to stop and just idled the plants instead.

      The only thing that saves them now is being able to import energy from other countries, particularly Germany where it gets very cheap during warn periods.

      Being reliant on a single source of electricity is a really, really bad idea. One of the biggest strengths of renewables is their diversity and distributed nature. People actually died in France due to those shut downs.

  • The nuclear industry seems a lot like the American automotive industry, and maybe for good reasons. They've had to fight political battles and prove themselves against fossil fuels in and early on people were not concerned with global warming.

    I know there are prototype "meltdown proof" reactors but why aren't they the norm? Anything to do with output and cost? Fukushima's best plan now is to freeze the ground for I don't know how many years? It's going to cost half a billion dollars to build the system

  • They're not reasonable. You can't strike any sort of deal with them on any sort of rational basis.

    Here are your options.

    1. Over power them politically. This is politically expensive and is pretty annoying because they won't shut up which will mean you'll have to sustain a pretty high level of political suppression for some time to come.

    2. Simply confuse them. They're by definition not very observant. They track on things put in the newspaper recently and don't really follow the logic of anything through. So

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