19 comments

  • >Posted by James W: I think nuclear power is seen negatively because people don't truly understand what it is, or the real nature of it. True it has waste, but waste that we can manage in the short term. You could say that coal/oil and gas are worse in that they cause run-away global affects that we can't manage. Nuclear doesn't.Perhaps a question of safety. Well Nuclear power has an excellent safety record within the west. Chernobyl was the result of the Russian government demanding a complete reactor shutdown within 4 weeks, when it really requires 2 months or so to do safely. It is also true that some by-products from Nuclear plants, and raw materials could be used for the development of nuclear weapons if they get into the wrong hands. At the end of the day, extraction of naturally occuring Uranium happens anyway, and most countries have the technology to enrich it. Really its a question of trust.The other really bad thing about shunning the use of nuclear power is that it seriously damages research and interest into Nuclear Fusion power, which is honestly the only way we can get out of the energy crisis.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXcyH7QE7rU – This is a program from BBC about the energy crisis by one of my favourite Physicists, I think it really puts things into perspective that everyone can understand without getting emotional.Energy bills are going to get explode over the next 10 years, I think Nuclear is good for our short-term prospects at least, take the pressure off global warming while we figure out the renewable and fusion stuff. The problem with Wind, Tidal, and Solar, which are all brilliant technologies, is that they are very expensive to get up and running. That won't help the energy bills for now, however we will have the biggest wind and tidal generation of any land in the world by 2020.

  • >Having watched that youtube video I found it didn't answer a lot of my questions. I'm not pretending to know much about nuclear power. But I thought nuclear fusion was a lot more risky than coal, oil and gas, and secondly, I thought there were byproducts that could not be gotten rid of.

  • >I'm pretty keen on nuclear fuel if geothermal or tidal is not available. But the answer to both your questions is yes Robert. There are byproducts that are difficult to get rid of. Nuclear waste takes several hundred years to become safe.The risks also can be bigger. I would hope that cases like Chernobyl have made the consequences transparent enough that the safety measures now used are redundant enough that the only thing to get past them would have to be carefully planned sabotage. And in that case, such planning could achieve a disaster in any number of ways.

  • >But hundreds of years later does all nuclear waste become safe?

  • >Eventually, but it's difficult to contain safely when first produced. At the moment the best that gets done is deep burial I think.

  • >However, the waste it produces seems less harmful than that of coal/gas/oil plants, for a substantially greater output. There are better alternatives, but in a landlocked country with minimal tectonic activity those options may not be viable. It's also possible that once fusion is developed into a useful power source the waste from fission plants could be used in fusion, though I'm not sure.

  • >I'm interested in the fact that you say nuclear waste is less harmful than that produced by coal, gas and oil. In what way?

  • >It's more self contained, and for an equal amount of power far less of it is produced. Nuclear waste is made up of discrete solid elements, that can be transported as seen fit. The gaseous fumes of fossil waste are harder to contain and have been documented in having an ill effect over a far wider area by way of global warming

  • >So that makes one thing clear: we cannot go on using fossil fuels. I'm not too sure about nuclear power though, even as an interim solution as James W says. Firstly, if we build new nuclear plants today, are we honestly going to stop using them ten years down the line? Secondly, although the risks are low I consider them too great to risk. And thirdly, James originally said that renewable technologies are too expensive. Well they are more expensive initially. But in the long term they will reap more economic gains for us. And I for one am willing to pay the extra now (after the recession obviously) to ensure that our children and grandchildren do not have to worry about nuclear waste, and by then have a stronger economy thanks to our decision to bare the brunt of the change.

  • >I don't know enough about the UK's geothermal situation. Tidal stations are preferrable to nuclear power though. They ought to work fine, especially the type pioneered in Scandinavia if used around some of the Scottish coast. There are areas that could be used for wind farms too, but they seem less desirable to me due to being both less reliable and also more of an eyesore, they're far less self-contained.

  • >I just had a quick look at geothermal and there are supposedly enhanced geothermal systems that would work well around the UK. Though I don't know about all the implications of such a system.But what I do know is that Government figures put the cost of the UK's liabilities for nuclear waste at around £1000 per person and these figures are rising. And other reasons to go renewable now, rather than nuclear, are that most people favour that decision, renewable energy sources will allow lower energy prices, and renewable energy will create more jobs!

  • >every energy source has an effect on the climate, no matter which. Sticking up huge wind farms will create less waste but are an eyesore, they are a hazard if put in the ocean, will change the speed at which wind is travelling, which could potentially change the entire worlds climates. The suns energy can be used by solar panels, but again huge areas needed for this which will create problems in some places. Tidal power will in some way change the flow of water, as will builing damns.Really there is no perfect solution, every energy source has a flaw, a defficiency in some ways. Nuclear, Coal, Gas and Biofuels have the obvious waste to deal with. Renewable energy has the problem of taking up a large amount of land for a similar power output.Essentially we are faced with taking the lesser of the evils. Im all for renewable energy where it doesnt change the environment too much. Put a generator on a rivers weir where the flow has alreay been reduced for years without too much problems. Mobile phone masts powered by, at least in some way, wind because thay are already an eyesore so a turbine on the top wont make too much difference.There are ways of reducing our power consumption from the main power grid individually which will lessen the need to produce as much power. That said we will need to replace the powerstations we have with something cleaner. Im all for Nuclear power, because its only a matter of time before some bright spark has an idea for its waste, and if that produces waste then perhaps we can again ustilise that for something else.Nuclear power has the potential of a meltdown, but we have numerous backup safety checks that should make that almost impossible.

  • >Almost impossible? Is it really worth the risk?On the other points I largely agree, but there are ways around the pitfalls of renewable energy sources. For example creating a SmartGrid through which every household can not only measure and reduce their energy use but also produce energy with solar panels on the roof and sell excess into the grid. The tidal power doesn't change the flow of sea water that much, and with the amount of energy that could be produced in small areas in the Irish sea we would be mad not to try.We should not gamble with the lives of UK civilians on a wish that "some bright spark" will have an idea for nuclear waste. Research I'm all for. But when we have alternative possibilities nuclear as an energy source is not a good idea.

  • >Everything has a risk involved, Dams could collapse, tidal power stations could break apart and leave a chuck floating in the sea which could break a hole in the side of a large tanker, which will make a huge mess.The point is that no energy source is without impact and risk. Nuclear, along with every other energy source has its own problems. Obvious being safety and waste.Im all for the smart grid, and would be happy to see people setting up their own "power stations" to reduce cost and to lessen the need for large power stations. But renewable energy wont be able to match the amount of power that nuclear can produce.I agree there is a risk and we need to ask should we take the risk? I believe we should take the risk, not because i dont believe the other technologies wont work, i know they do, i just think that if we are ever going to get away from burning fossil fuels we need a huge power source to tap into. Renewable energy sources are great, but they are not efficient enough to be to countries main power supply. It needs something bigger. Nuclear can be that if we need.That said if someone comes up with a better idea i would be all for it, as you rightly said there is still that risk. But given what we know now, that fossil fuels are destroying our climate. We need to stop that now, and looknig at everything else. Nothing comes close to the amount of power that Nuclear can produce. Its a shame, but its probably the only way to go. It is a short term solution to a long term problem

  • >In actual fact my one major sympathy for nuclear is its long term prospects: its potential to give us far greater amounts of energy than could others if research and science recieves more investment.If as you say, renewable energy cannot meet our full energy needs then of course I agree that nuclear should substuitute it, but that is not what I've heard. And besides, once the initial costs involved with setting up renewable energy sources are paid doesn't that option promise more economic dividends in the long term?

  • >I fully believe that we can see renewable energy eventually meeting our needs, but not quick enough. A nuclear power plant will (no figures here just what i remember from sim city lol) probably produce more power than a coal power station. So what we have done is create more power than we needed, and can turn one coal station off? now im pretty sure a renewable plant that can produce the same power would take up a vast amount of space and would probably take far longer to set up, as after all it is a far bigger project?

  • >We need to get away from fossil fuels as soon as possible. If as you say it is not possible to go onto renewable straight away then perhaps nuclear is the best option. I'd have to let an expert answer that. If anyone reading this can badger Brinkler into responding he knows a lot about renewable energy.

  • >One thing thats good to put nuclear into perspective, is that 10g of Nuclear fission fuel (thats standard nuclear power as we use today) can produce as much energy as a tonne (1000kg) or oil. That's a massive difference.Also I'd like to clear up the point raised about nuclear waste for Fusion reactors. Fusion is a completely different process from fission. Fission is splitting of atoms, and fusion is the fusing of atoms together.Fission reactors produce radioactive waste, fusion reactors produce helium. (An inert gas).Plus the kind of scale we saw from oil to fission (10grams is equivalent to burning 1000Kg of oil, also occurs with fission).I don't have the exact numbers, but its certainly a few orders of magnitude. Whereby 10g of Fusion fuel will produce the same energy as maybe 100kg of fission fuel.

  • >So what percentage of nuclear power is fission and what is fusion? We here of waste all the time. Why is fusion used? Also, what are the differences in dangers between the two i.e. the 0.1% chance of a new Chernobyl?

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