Atomic Alternative: Nuclear Power Only Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions

Householders, businesses, indeed, power consumers of all shapes and sizes are bracing themselves for the suicidal results of looming Net-Zero CO2 emissions targets.

We’ll start from the premise that nothing will shake the resolve of the lunatics who pretend to govern us, when it comes to their do or die quest for reducing man-made emissions of carbon dioxide gas.

To be sure it’s an attack on the reliable and affordable energy systems that have delivered peace and prosperity for a century or more.

Developed Western nations are in a race to enshrine net-zero targets – the only quibble seems to be whether the target date is 2030 or 2050 – with the only way of avoiding ultimate economic annihilation being a rapid move to nuclear power generation.

Nuclear power generation is the only stand-alone power generation system that does not generate carbon dioxide gas emissions, during the process. And, unlike the pathetically unreliable performance of wind and solar, nuclear delivers 24 x 365, whatever the weather.

Britain is just one example of a country that appears to have crossed the net-zero Rubicon. Notwithstanding their cost and unreliability, wind and, to a lesser extent, solar are at the heart of Britain’s move to reduce CO2 emissions in the power generation sector.

In their recent paper – The Workable Alternative to Net Zero: A plan for cleaner, reliable and affordable energy – Dr John Constable and Capell Aris point out the obvious flaws in any attempt to run a first-world nation on subsidies, sunshine and breezes.

Constable and Aris conclude that the only manner of avoiding a complete wipeout of Britain’s economy is to slash the subsidies to wind and solar; start building nuclear power plants ASAP; and ramp up the capacity of gas-fired power in Britain.

A Workable Alternative to Net Zero
The Global Warming Policy Forum
John Constable and Capell Aris
May 2021

Summary
This paper calls for root and branch reform of the UK’s Net Zero pathway to avoid intolerable cost and societal disruption. The alternative route proposed is a Gas to Gas-Nuclear programme.

As a matter of urgency, electricity generation policy must refocus on dispatchable low-emissions plant, which can deliver a secure and competitive electricity system as an enabler for the UK’s manufacturing industries.

The resulting lower electricity prices will facilitate some limited electrification of domestic and commercial heating and mobility, with potential for longer-term decarbonisation in transport and heating to be investigated via a medium-term nuclear programme, including the generation of hydrogen from high temperature reactors via the thermal decomposition of water.

The action points for reform are:

  • Remove market distortions and reduce consumer cost without delay, by buying back all subsidy contracts to renewables at a discount, compelling them to operate as pure merchant plant, and institute a rolling program for closure of the wind and solar fleets to reduce system operation costs.
  • License rapid construction of high-efficiency combined cycle gas turbines, perhaps fitted with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) if this proves economic. A variety of new approaches to gas turbines – for example, Allam cycle turbines may soon deliver zero-carbon electricity much less expensively.
  • Use low-cost government debt to finance a new generation of nuclear plant, ideally of smaller scale than those currently envisaged.
  • While reduced electricity costs will encourage adoption of heat pumps and electric vehicles where economic, the government should investigate the use of high-temperature nuclear reactors to generate hydrogen to provide an alternative option, seeking close co-operation with the Government of Japan, which is already steering in this direction.

Current UK policies will struggle to deliver Net Zero by 2050, if ever, and run a high risk of deep and irreversible societal damage. Because of the harms already inflicted, the programme outlined here cannot meet the government’s timetable either, but it will reduce emissions rapidly and sustainably without destabilising British society, leaving the option for further emissions reductions as technological development makes this feasible and economically attractive. It therefore represents a realistic rather than a utopian decarbonisation model.

On the other hand, failure to reform along these lines will result in extreme costs, painful reductions in living standards for all but the richest, national weakness, societal instability and the eventual failure of the decarbonisation effort. The UK’s hoped for climate leadership will become only a stern deterrent.
The Global Warming Policy Forum

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Amos E. Stone says:

    Since this post was about the UK, pray bow your heads friends, and mourn the loss of another 1GW of clean power. The UK reactors Dungeness B1 and B2 will now not be restarted having been out of service for over 2 years. Built in the 80s they were the first of their kind (Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor- AGR) and have provided nearly 200TWh in spite of being cantankerous things, so only achieving about 50% availability. Still way better than any wind or solar!

    It’s not been a great year for nuclear so far, with the loss of this and Indian Point 3 in the US making 2GW shut as opposed to 1.6GW started (KAKRAPAR-3, India and KANUPP-2, Pakistan).

    Look at the picture, and you can judge whether or not there might be room for a couple of Rolls Royce SMRs at Dungeness:
    https://www.edfenergy.com/media-centre/news-releases/edf-decides-move-dungeness-b-defuelling-phase

  2. Peter Pronczak says:

    With China’s EAST fusion reactor achieving an electron temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101secs (a great feat leading the world).
    One of the reasons for their far side Moon landing was to look at helium3 nuclear fuel.

    Even using deuterium from sea water is a better option than wasting electricity on hydrogen fuel production. One litre of sea water contains as much energy as 300lts of petrol.
    A fusion plasma torch can recycle everything by separating atoms into pure elements. There is also fusion rocket propulsion that would make a Mars trip in weeks not months.

    In the meantime coastal fission reactors can instigate an eastern water grid, with all that it entails, green deserts using industrial microwave ovens (I mechanically designed the modular prototype commercially operating on continents since 1990) to sterilise sewerage and add correct elements to fertilise degraded land and supply reliable cheap electricity. Once fusion becomes available the infrastructure will already be in place.

    Canada is to build small modular reactors (SMRs) that will be powered by recycled fuel.
    USA built and tested a safe molten sodium reactor in the 1950s that had no problems but didn’t proceed further. Truth be known there was more interest in developing nuclear weapons. Some of their older reactors will have their life extended.

    South Africa as the 2nd oldest nuclear country reactivated its industry quite a few years ago after China took over its leadership in high temperature pebble bed design producing a safe helium cooled small reactor. SA is the 2nd largest exporter of medical isotopes and has been strangely quiet on its current progress, other than associations calling for construction in affordable phases and at a manageable pace, a 2,000MW light water reactor for nuclear power and pursue the construction of 500MW SMRs. They believe these SMRs could replace the inland coal-fired power stations which will reach the end of their operational lifespans between 2025 and 2030.

    Shares in AU uranium developer rose near 20% last week. New companies and older established miners can see the sense in the industry’s development – Why waste time, money and resources on limited RE?
    Besides, RE can do nothing to stop sea level rise as the Ice Age ends.

    In a war against extinction (& scaring kids) decisions can be made in minutes. Look how long it took to build the original Lucas Heights reactor and that was before quick-set concrete. Maybe all the ALP-NLP should pray (not pay) for guidance.

  3. Paul Miskelly says:

    STT,
    The reality is that, here in Australia, it will take at least 10 years to put back the necessary regulatory controls to enable nuclear generation to be carried out according to a proper and necessary regulatory framework. Oh yes, we had such a proper framework once, but starting with Labor under Whitlam, and continued with the Conservatives under the so-called “Fightback!” cost-minimisation strategy, virtually the entire nuclear regulatory framework that was then in place has been progressively dismantled.
    The required expertise to re-attain that necessary and proper framework is not regained in a day, not even in a year.
    Think of the expertise required by those who investigate, for example, aircraft accidents. The development of that expertise does not come without years of rigorous study and relevant experience. As one who knows, I can assure you that it is exactly the same in the development of a proper understanding of the complexities of the nuclear power technologies.
    We see the profound and dire effects of the lack of a proper regulatory framework over aspects of energy policy in such as the behaviours of proponents of renewables (so-called) allowed at the present time, by the complete lack, similarly, of any regulatory control over those proponents. Human greed, unchecked and entirely unregulated, in the chasing the extraordinarily lucrative subsidies available via The Renewable Energy Act (2000) has resulted in the proponents doing whatever is necessary (short of outright murder), to impose (or “spear”, as you STT folks quite rightly describe it) their projects into rural communities, resulting in the complete wipeout of rural property values for neighbouring residents, and indeed, in many cases, their actual livelihoods, and, as you have so often pointed out, in the case of the imposition of wind “farms”, their health and amenity.
    So, Mr Champion is quite correct in his assessment, but perhaps for reasons that even he does not yet fully appreciate.

    But, putting aside for the moment my pessimistic views on the likelihood for nuclear power in Australia at any time soon, well done STT, for reporting on this excellent work of Drs. Aris and Constable. They make the point well and tellingly: unless the UK adopts full support for gas and nuclear, instead of the continued mad rush to renewables, then the powers that be will completely destroy both the UK economy, and the UK nation.
    The message is exactly the same for Australia.

    Best regards, and keep up the pressure,

    Paul Miskelly

  4. Rafe Champion says:

    The problem with going nuclear, especially in Australia where it is still illegal, is the time required to get through the red and green tape to secure a site and then to build the facility. Before we are far down that track we can expect the forthcoming cold spell to bury the spectre of global heating under an overwhelming amount of empirical evidence.

    • Rafe, if we start building nuclear plants in Australia now, they will be coming online right about the time that all wind turbines and solar panels are ready for the scrap heap.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: