Powering Ahead: Safe & Reliable Nuclear Power Obvious Answer to Clean Energy Future

Anyone gifted with our good friends logic and reason knows chaotically intermittent wind and solar can never work. Sunset and calm weather are both real things.

Sensible Australians, facing a renewable energy inflicted power pricing and supply calamity have forced politicians to at least begin using the dreaded ‘N’ word in public: nuclear power generation is banned in Australia.

That’s right. 20 years ago, the country with the largest uranium reserves in the world placed a ban on nuclear power stations; unlike the 30 Countries around the Globe currently running 450 nuclear plants, Australia has never had the benefit of nuclear power, despite its abundant resources.

The only G20 nation not to use nuclear power, it’s not just an outlier, it’s a joke.

True it is that coal-fired power provides around 80% of the electricity consumed among those states connected to the Eastern Grid (Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia). But, as a result of the obscene subsidies to wind and solar – which operate as an effective penalty on generation sources such as coal and gas – ageing coal-fired plant are an endangered species.

For as long as climate alarmists keep banging on about carbon dioxide gas (and politicians keep listening) any generation source that generates CO2 will be treated as some kind of villain and punished accordingly.

Which is why STT promotes ever-reliable nuclear power, the only stand-alone generation source that does not emit carbon dioxide gas during that process.

With Greta the Fretter and her disciples holding their breath until they turn blue over human generated carbon dioxide gas, it’s probably time they gave nuclear power a little air time.

The fact that they don’t, speaks volumes about their true objects and motives.

Anyone banging on about CO2 and not banging on about nuclear power simply can’t be taken seriously. For the reasons expressed below.

The Silent Giant: The need for Nuclear in a Clean Energy System
World Nuclear Association
September 2019

Executive Summary
In a world centred on short-term fixes, many of the traits that make nuclear energy a key player in the transition to a sustainable world are not properly valued and often taken for granted. Reflecting on the popular discourse in the world of energy politics it would seem that renewables, and renewables alone, will be responsible for, and capable of, delivering a zero-carbon energy system – and that it is just a matter of time.

The reality today is that both global carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel use are still on the rise. This does not only make the battle against climate change much harder, but also results in hundreds of thousands of pollution deaths every year.

Energy is the essential agent for promoting human development, and global demand is projected to increase significantly in the coming decades. Securing access to modern and affordable energy is essential for lifting people out of poverty, and for promoting energy independence and economic growth.

Nuclear energy is a proven solution with a long and well-established track record. Nuclear reactors – a grand total of 445 in 30 countries – are the low-carbon backbone of electricity systems, operating in the background, day in and day out, often out of sight and out of mind. Capable of generating immense amounts of clean power, they are the silent giants upon which we rely daily.

Nuclear energy has shown – be it in France or Sweden – that it has the potential to be the catalyst for delivering sustainable energy transitions, long before climate change was on the agenda. The use of nuclear energy is the fast track to a high-powered and clean energy system, which not only delivers a healthier environment and an affordable supply of electricity, but also strengthens energy security and helps mitigate climate change.

The global nuclear industry, led by World Nuclear Association, is ready to take on the challenge. As part of the Harmony Programme, we have set a target to build an additional 1000GWe of reactors across the world before 2050, bringing the global share of electricity production of nuclear to 25%.
In order to realise the full potential of nuclear energy we have identified three key areas where actions are required:

  • The need to create a level playing field that values reliability and energy security
  • The need for harmony in the nuclear regulatory environment
  • The need for a holistic safety paradigm for the whole electricity system.

The drivers for a clean energy system
Electricity is central to modern life – it powers our daily lives, as well as our dreams and ambitions. Demand has grown steadily for more than 100 years, and will continue to do so as many parts of the world continue to develop, and electrification takes a central role in efforts to decarbonize (Figure 1). With nearly a billion people around the world still living in the dark, without access to electricity, humanity has a responsibility to learn from the past – everyone has the right to enjoy a modern lifestyle in a way that does not cause harm to people or the planet.

The challenge before us, however, goes far beyond just electricity – we will need to find ways to decarbonize all parts of the economy, and we need solutions that are sustainable in the long-term. That means changing the way we heat our homes and power our industrial processes, as well as ensuring that the way we travel, export our products and ship our food moves away from fossil fuels.

Despite the very considerable efforts to decarbonize the economy and the countless billions spent, our world remains heavily addicted to fossil fuels. The trend is clear – instead of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, we are increasing it (Figure 2). As a direct result, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise when they need to drastically fall.

We need to deliver a worldwide transformation that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. We need a system that is affordable – no one should have to choose between heating their home, and essentials like eating – as well as helping to alleviate poverty, and ensure the realization of human potential globally. We need a power source that can not only help us mitigate the effects of climate change and environmental degradation, but can also help bring the enormous benefits of reliable electricity supply to the corners of the world that do not have access to it.

Nuclear energy is already making a major contribution. By using nuclear energy rather than fossil fuels, we currently avoid the emission of more than 2500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. To put that into perspective, it is the equivalent of removing about 400 million cars from the world’s roads.

Modern society is dependent on the steady supply of electricity, every day of the year – regardless of weather, season or time of day – and nuclear energy is particularly well-suited to providing this service. Given that the majority of baseload supply is fossil-based, an increase in the use of nuclear energy would result in a rapid decarbonization of the electricity system. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) recent reportIII on nuclear energy highlighted the importance of dependable baseload electricity generators and the need to properly value and compensate them for the electricity security and reliability services they provide.

Despite impressive recent growth, the stark reality is that renewables alone will not be able to resolve our dependence on fossil fuels. Clearly, the sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow, and this is compounded by the fact that many times these periods coincide with when electricity demand is at its highest, but renewables can be complementary to nuclear energy. Storage solutions, such as batteries, will not be able to power our societies for days or weeks when the weather is not favourable. Natural gas is currently the most used solution for the intermittency problem, which only serves to reinforce our economy’s dependence of fossil fuels, and severely undermines the apparently ‘green credentials’ of many renewables.

Moving to a sustainable future
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Global Warming of 1.5°Civ examined a large number of different scenarios for limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Of those scenarios which would achieve the 1.5°C target, the mean increase in nuclear energy’s contribution to electricity production was 2.5 times higher compared to today. However, the ‘middle-of-the-road’ scenario – in which social, economic, and technological trends follow current patterns and would not require major changes to, for example, diet and travel habits – sees the need for nuclear increase by five times globally by 2050.

The IEA has concluded that without an expanded contribution from nuclear energy, the already huge challenge of achieving emissions reductions will become drastically harder and more costly. In their latest report on nuclear energyv, published in 2019, they also conclude that not using nuclear would have negative implications for energy security and result in higher costs for the consumers. The IEA recommends policy reforms to ‘…ensure competition on a level playing field’ and that the ‘… focus should be on designing electricity markets in a way that values the clean energy and energy security attributes of low-carbon technologies, including nuclear power.’ Such reforms should also ensure that reliability of electricity production is properly valued and compensated.

As part of the Harmony Programme, the world’s nuclear industry has identified three key policy areas for action to unlock the true potential of nuclear energy – the need for a level playing field, the harmonization of regulations and the establishment of an effective safety paradigm.

In regard to the need for a level playing field, we see that many of the world’s electricity markets operate in an unsustainable fashion, dominated by short-term thinking. Electricity supply which is affordable, reliable and available 24/7 generates broad societal benefits, and as seen in Figure 3, nuclear is one of the most affordable electricity sources.

However, markets fail to give due credit to electricity generators, such as nuclear energy, that are able to meet these societal demands. This has resulted in situations where nuclear energy has struggled to compete with energy sources that have been subsidized, do not pay the hidden costs brought on by their intermittency (e.g. costly backup provisions and investments in the grid), or do not have to take responsibility for using our common atmosphere as a dumping ground.

Additionally, electricity markets fail to recognize the relative costs of different forms of electricity generation. Whilst the nuclear industry takes responsibility for its lifecycle costs (including decommissioning and waste management), other electricity generators do not. Fossil fuel generators are rarely required to pay the price in line with the environmental and health damage that their emissions cause, whilst the cost of wind and solar does not include the disposal of the sometimes toxic materials at the end of their life.

In regard to the need to harmonize regulations, multiple regulatory barriers stemming from diverse national licensing processes and safety requirements currently limit global nuclear trade and investment. A lack of international standardization places unnecessary regulatory burdens on nuclear activities and causes delays in the licensing of new designs, hindering innovation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has highlighted the importance of addressing this issue, concluding that the lack of regulatory harmony ‘…causes many drawbacks for the entire nuclear industry, including developers, vendors, operators and even regulators themselves…This results in increased costs and reduced predictability in project execution’.vii It is therefore crucial that we harmonize the regulatory process to address these weaknesses, and avoid unnecessary duplication and inconsistencies.

In regard to the need for a holistic safety paradigm for the whole electricity system, we need to consider safety from a societal perspective, something the current energy system fails to do. The health, environmental and safety benefits of nuclear energy are not sufficiently understood and valued when compared with other electricity sources. Nuclear energy remains the safest form of electricity generation (Figure 4). Additionally, the use of nuclear consistently prevents many tens of thousands of deaths (mainly resulting from air pollution) every year by avoiding the use of coal – lifesaving measures which must be better recognised and valued.

Nuclear for a sustainable tomorrow
Nuclear energy is already making a significant contribution to providing the world with clean and abundant electricity, and has a proven track record of being a reliable workhorse around the world. Countries like France, Sweden and Switzerland have proven that it is possible to divorce economic growth from an increase in damaging emissions and over the timescales required to effectively challenge climate change and environmental degradation (Figures 5 and 6). Nuclear can ensure that fast-growing populations achieve rising standards of living – without having to sacrifice the planet or their own well-being.

The incredible energy density of uranium means that just a few kilos is all that is required to provide one person with enough power for a lifetime. Uranium is abundant and can be found in many parts of the world, as well as in seawater. Furthermore, spent nuclear fuel is well managed and can in most cases be recycled to produce even more power. By using nuclear energy, countries are able to take charge of their own destinies by decreasing their reliance on imported energy – enhanced independence and security in uncertain times.

Unlike other power sources, nuclear energy helps us reduce our total footprint, going beyond just the environment. When accounting for factors such as cost (e.g. fuel and construction costs), carbon (lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions), water and land footprints, nuclear is far ahead of all other energy generators.

Nuclear energy offers a multitude of services beyond just electricity. With nuclear, we can decarbonize the way we heat our homes, provide process heat for industry, and ensure access to clean water. As freshwater supplies come under increasing pressure worldwide, nuclear reactors can provide desalination, ensuring a reliable flow of fresh drinking water in areas where it is scarce.

Nuclear energy can be relied upon to power the new mobility revolution taking place. Every day, we use almost 20 million barrels of oil to power our vehicles. By swapping to an electric or hydrogen-powered transport fleet – all powered by the atom – we are able to address one of the key challenges to a sustainable economy.

We cannot afford to wait – we need every part of the puzzle to contribute towards solving some of the greatest challenges faced by humankind in a very long time. The impacts of climate change will hit the poorest and most vulnerable first, and failing to act will have significant humanitarian consequences.

Nuclear power is the silent giant of today’s energy system – it runs quietly in the background, capable of delivering immense amounts of power, regardless of weather or season, allowing us to focus on everything else in life. It is a technology that is available now, and can be expanded quickly across the world to help us solve some of the most defining challenges we face. Nuclear energy holds the potential to herald a new, cleaner and truly sustainable world – enabling us to pass on a cleaner planet to our children.

References

i International Energy Agency (2018), World Energy Outlook 2018. Data accessed from https://www.iea.org/weo/ – Based on the New Policies Scenario, which incorporates existing energy policies as well as an assessment of the results likely to stem from the implementation of announced policy intentions – with visual modification by World Nuclear Association.

ii International Energy Agency (n.d.), Statistics. Accessed from:
https://www.iea.org/statistics/?country=WORLD&year=2016&category=Electricity&indicator=ElecGenByFuel&mode
=chart&dataTable=ELECTRICITYANDHEAT – with visual modifications by World Nuclear Association.

iii International Energy Agency (2019), Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System. Accessed from: https://www.iea.org/publications/nuclear/

iv Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018), Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C. Accessed from: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/

v International Energy Agency (2019), Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System. Accessed from: https://www.iea.org/publications/nuclear/

vi International Energy Agency & OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (2015), Projected Costs of generating Electricity – 2015 Edition. Accessed from: https://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/pubs/2015/7057-proj-costs-electricity-2015.pdf

vii International Atomic Energy Agency (2015), Technical challenges in the application and licensing of digital instrumentation and control systems in nuclear power plants. Accessed from: https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/P1695_web.pdf

viii Paul-Scherrer Institute. Data for nuclear accidents modified to reflect UNSCEAR findings/recommendations (2012) and NRC SOARCA study 2015

ix International Energy Agency (2018), Electricity Information 2018 https://webstore.iea.org/electricity-information-2018-overview

x Ibid.
World Nuclear Association

Pick the power source with a future.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Jeff Walther says:

    Perhaps it would be more useful if I posted this at WNA’s website. But what the heck.

    I liked the article, but I fail to understand why folks keep “solving” the transportation carbon issue by waving their hands and saying, “electric vehicles/hydrogen”.

    Electric vehicles are largely viable for consumer transportation, though with many convenience issues. They can never replace aviation and probably not heavy construction vehicles. Hydrogen is a non-starter. It’s too hard to store. Escapes between other molecules and must be kept ridiculously cold, which adds tremendously to the energy overhead costs.

    There is an affordable method to synthesizing hydrocarbon fuels from CO2 extracted from the atmosphere and hydrogen cracked from water. All it requires is the input of energy, nuclear generated energy. Using this method, we keep the convenience of our current transportation system and infrastructure, while making the carbon emissions, carbon neutral. Burning fuel synthesized with this method, simply returns CO2 to the air that was recently removed from the air.

    Furthermore, it avoids the massive and always ignored cost of completely changing our vehicle refueling infrastructure.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2019/10/08/carbon-engineering-taking-co2-right-out-of-the-air-to-make-gasoline/#5555194c13cc

  2. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  3. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

  4. Peter Pronczak says:

    It only takes a couple of generations before what had to be formerly ‘policed’ becomes accepted as normal activity with concentration on children. A current project is for kids to put together small solar lights sent to underdeveloped countries. Unfortunately the battery life and disposal isn’t mentioned. They would probably be better off using free electric light from old audio speakers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8U-55VGSFI

    So much of what the RE zealots disseminate is outdated as if nuclear energy has remained stagnant for over 60 years.
    As soon as ‘nuclear’ is mentioned there is a brain freeze and logic paralysis. Even saying that such plants would be military targets in their ignorance that any country wanting to take land and resources wouldn’t be so stupid as to cause radiation, consider…During Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, a newly developed fuel-air bomb was used. A cylinder containing 400kg of compressed methane which expanded rapidly into a gaseous cloud. Upon ignition it creates a zone of intense heat killing all life within a radius of 300 metres. It has the same effect as a half-kiloton nuclear device without producing radiation. Their use is apparently not contrary to the Geneva Convention. Nor was being buried alive in trenches by tank bulldozers or chopped up by fragmentation bombs. That was in February 1991 so there has been plenty of time to develop more fearsome weapons.

    So who cares about humans being incinerated, buried alive or blown to bits, or the ongoing genocide in Yemen. Or how much military activity with its massive subsidy with only implied enemies, or as history shows, they are purposefully created and contribute to climate change. There’s no interest in saving CO2 producing fuel, only a controlling financial system.

    Then there’s the talk of expense and incredible construction time: The Sydney Harbour Bridge was put together in 8 years with manual labour. The first nuclear plant at Lucas Heights, although small, opened in 1958 was built in 3 years. Those were days when even quick drying concrete didn’t exist.

    The recent Xtinction Rebellion example of ‘heads in the sand’ isn’t recognised as applying to themselves.
    The one thing about war is that it has proved how quickly things can be built with sufficient money thrown at it like the RE subsidy.
    The other ignorance admitted by AU PM ScoMo is that subsidies drive prices up so believing otherwise and calling for more is foolish. Where would nuclear be with so much subsidy. Even plants existing for some 60 years have more than paid for themselves that can’t be said or accomplished by wind and solar.
    Sandblasting is an effective method of surface removal but it’s another negative for wind and solar.

    Not only does the wind industry keep all it’s problems secret from the public, with all the NSW and QLD fires and overseas, just like in the past, there is no mention of any of them possibly being started by wind turbines.
    But implying that lightning can be a factor in turbine failure, means they have more than one problem with the weather they rely on.

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