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Should Nuclear and Renewable Energy Supporters Stop Fighting?

Unknown Lamer posted about 9 months ago | from the pixie-dust-saves-the-day dept.

Power 551

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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No, because they are not compatible (2, Interesting)

indros13 (531405) | about 9 months ago | (#46163119)

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:No, because they are not compatible (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163191)

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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163313)

Are you a fucking idiot? There's nothing to align, we run 24/7/365. There is no downtime.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#46163531)

The GP is presenting a false dichotomy.

You can store the excess output from those inflexible nuclear power plants in a way that it can be released quickly to smooth out spikes in demand.

We do that by (eg.) pumping water uphill to reservoirs then letting it flow downhill through turbines when the adverts come on TV and everybody goes and makes a cup of tea... (or grabs a beer from the fridge, or whatever else they do in the uncivilized world).

The real problems come on cloudy days when there's no wind. On those days you need enough capacity in you nuclear plants to make up the deficit.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (5, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 9 months ago | (#46163645)

A lot of this talk about nuclear power plants or even coal powered power plants being inflexible is nonsense. They are run continuously because this is more energy efficient. However there is nothing stopping you from burning less coal. In France it is common to partially off nuclear power plants [wikipedia.org] during the night:

In France, however, nuclear power plants use load following. French PWRs use "grey" control rods, in order to replace chemical shim, without introducing a large perturbation of the power distribution. These plants have the capability to make power changes between 30% and 100% of rated power, with a slope of 5% of rated power per minute. Their licensing permits them to respond very quickly to the grid requirements.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (3, Informative)

e70838 (976799) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#46163257)

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:No, because they are not compatible (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163297)

Oh please enlighten us on where you are going to store all the wind power?

Re:No, because they are not compatible (3, Interesting)

kenaaker (774785) | about 9 months ago | (#46163655)

You use the wind power to run the pumps on reservoir storage, or to electrolyze water to run Sabatier reactors which generate hydrocarbon gases like methane. Feed the hydrocarbon gases into the existing natural gas pipelines which feed the gas turbine peaking plants. The natural gas pipeline system can maintain at least several days worth of supply for the whole nation.

There are more ways, those two are my favorite candidates. Just keep T. Boone Pickens away from the natural gas.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (0)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 9 months ago | (#46163319)

What? That's one of the few advantages that coal has. Supply can be adjusted to meet demand fairly quickly. Such options are not available at all for wind, solar, or geothermal, and nuclear is a great deal less responsive. If you need more electricity, you burn more coal. If you need less electricity, you burn less coal.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#46163459)

What? That's one of the few advantages that coal has.

Not really. Coal plants can take hours to swing from low to high production. Gas can swing in minutes, and of course, produces half the CO2 per kwhr.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#46163513)

Hours to adjust production. Actually turning one on takes days, so they can't even be turned off when not needed, just turned down.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 9 months ago | (#46163685)

If you compare old coal power plants built 30 years ago to new gas power plant construction sure. The same is not true if you used the same technology on both.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 9 months ago | (#46163335)

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:No, because they are not compatible (1, Insightful)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 9 months ago | (#46163471)

"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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#46163525)

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

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 9 months ago | (#46163613)

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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 9 months ago | (#46163597)

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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 9 months ago | (#46163337)

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 few humans who will get off the rock and hopefully go find (and eventually destroy) another one.

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163533)

Maybe we should just send more people on that one way trip to mars. That should give the rest of us a bit more time.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#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!

There are lots of solutions on the horizon (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46163465)

Hydrogen powered cars face huge technological and economic hurdles with no solutions on the horizon.

Come on, there have been a ton of advances around storing hydrogen, and building fuel cells generally - also around extracting Hydrogen.

The truth is that if you want every person to own an electric car, Hydrogen is the only way you get there. You cannot manufacture a literal ton of batteries per person across the globe. You cannot fathom the cost to build out a charging infrastructure for when EVERYONE wants to charge, and charge quickly (even musk's 20 minute charging stations sound great - until you think about how long you really have to wait even to get to the charger when there is ever any REAL demand).

I do think electric cars are the future, it's just that batteries are a stop-gap measure. Hydrogen is coming, and it's closer than you think.

Economic problems with hydrogen power (4, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | about 9 months ago | (#46163757)

Come on, there have been a ton of advances around storing hydrogen, and building fuel cells generally - also around extracting Hydrogen.

Not enough to base our infrastructure on those advances. Hydrogen powered cars face three obstacles - one technological and two economic. The teachnological one is developing a functioning technology. There are hurdles to overcome but there is reason to believe they could be overcome. After all, fuel cells and the like are already in existence and prototype vehicles have been made. The much bigger problem is economic. The first economic problem is that hydrogen powered cars are expensive because there is no manufacturing economies of scale, supporting industries and a limited manufacturing base. Absent some sort of subsidy they cannot be produced for a price in the near term that is competitive with existing vehicles. The second economic problem and the real killer is that there is no fuel infrastructure in place and developing one would be hugely expensive. We have infrastructure in place for natural gas, petroleum/diesel products and electricity. Anything that doesn't use one of those three things is essentially starting from scratch.

The truth is that if you want every person to own an electric car, Hydrogen is the only way you get there.

Not even remotely. Hybrids are the path of least resistance (no pun intended) towards electric vehicles. Electric vehicles based on batteries become practical once you solve the charging time problem. Basically you have to get charging time down below about 10 minutes for at least 200 miles of range. We're almost there technologically already.

You cannot manufacture a literal ton of batteries per person across the globe

Actually you probably can. Every vehicle made already has at least one battery in it and it wouldn't be all that complicated to scale up production unless there is some sort of raw material limitation.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 9 months ago | (#46163735)

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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (2, Interesting)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 9 months ago | (#46163315)

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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

Burz (138833) | about 9 months ago | (#46163615)

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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 9 months ago | (#46163677)

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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#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

Re:No, because they are not compatible (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 9 months ago | (#46163411)

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

Re:No, because they are not compatible (4, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (0)

Burz (138833) | about 9 months ago | (#46163691)

And what makes you think fusion wouldn't exacerbate every other (non-greenhouse-gas) ecological crisis that we face?

We've just gone through a period where too many humans thought concepts of efficiency and limits were outmoded.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 9 months ago | (#46163445)

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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (3, Interesting)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (4, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | about 9 months ago | (#46163455)

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.

Re:ARMISTICE FTW (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163479)

Yes, going forward all PHD programs should by NUCLEAR/SOLAR ENGINEERING PROGRAM...!

Re:No, because they are not compatible (4, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 9 months ago | (#46163617)

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

Re:No, because they are not compatible (-1)

Burz (138833) | about 9 months ago | (#46163563)

Nuclear cannot be varied, so it cannot meet demand by itself either. We were already building hydropower capacity to store the excess from the so-called "baseload" nuclear.

As nuclear subsides, that storage capacity will be used increasingly for wind and solar instead.

The real differences here are:

1) Solar and wind variations substantially match peak usage patterns. This is the main reason we're having this discussion at all, because these new generators are cutting into the most profitable parts of the day for established generators.

2) Nuclear is highly centralized and requires police-state protections to function in the face of an emergency. The downside of the Fukushima incident is that the Japanese government has enacted strict state secrecy [reuters.com] to punish the kind of disobedience and truth-telling that probably saved much of Japan from a worse turn of events.

Note that even in the US, you can be arrested for taking pictures of a nuclear power plant from a public space (these days, more likely by a SWAT officer or other paramilitary goon).

TL;DR - An expansion of nuclear energy is likely to spread militarism.

3) Funding... How do you get backers for new nuclear power plants when massive cost overruns are the rule rather than the exception? As with the need for secrecy and militarism, nuclear has a problem with corruption in its finances, too.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

QuantumPion (805098) | about 9 months ago | (#46163751)

Everyone one of your points is entirely false.

1) No. Wind and solar vary with clouds and wind patterns and have no correlation to usage patterns. Renewables do not cut into anyone's profits, only natural gas does that with massive oversupply with lack of storage/transmission capability. In fact, renewables tend to be big profit cash cows for industries because of government subsidies that pay for them to build them, even when and where they don't work, and then they get to write off the losses from taxes. Why do you think there are so many idle wind power farms all over the country?

2) Renewables are also highly centralized in that they are totally dependent on federal government subsidies and all the cronyism and corruption that comes along with it. The rest of point two I won't even go into as it is just loony bullshit.

3) What do you think causes the cost overruns? Environmentalist protests and lawsuits. Nice catch 22 there.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 9 months ago | (#46163567)

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).

Re:No, because they are not compatible (2)

ssam (2723487) | about 9 months ago | (#46163719)

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

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

QuantumPion (805098) | about 9 months ago | (#46163577)

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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163585)

Nuclear is FAR cheaper than renewables in terms of direct output. Most renewables supporters gloss over the cost of transmission lines, but the reality is that the best places to put utility scale solar plants and wind farms are often not where the energy is needed, so to get the most efficient use out of renewables and avoid the NIMBY aspect you need to have long transmission lines that can double or triple the installation cost of renewables. Also, without good energy storage there simply is no way to fully utilize renewables as they're not often available during peak loads.

The best bet today cost and environmental issues all taken into account is nuclear to meet the minimum demand on the power curve with natural gas and renewables to make up the daily variability on the curve.

Years down the road? Maybe renewables if you get sufficient storage; transmission line costs are not going down as they're heavily driven by the price of copper. However nuclear is moving to more modular units akin to navy-nuclear size; there is a push to develop a nuclear reactor you can produce in a factory and ship on a rail car and a utility scale plant would consist of 5-10 of these smaller plants. You could match some variability by simply disconnecting one or two plants from the grid; the end result of this would be even cheaper nuclear power and flexible power generation.

Another way (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 9 months ago | (#46163671)

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 could conceivably crack water to get Hydrogen, and distill Nitrogen from the air. Conceivably, a solar panel array in Arizona could make fertilizer out of nothing.

Does anyone know of other types of production which can tolerate quick start-up and shut-down?

Maybe some sort of automatic loom system for weaving cloth? Some sort of commodity cloth which is always in demand as a raw material for other products. Something like that.

Maybe something that can be produced using a lot of smaller installations, such as the loom idea noted above - a factory floor with 1,000 smaller looms computer controlled could fire up individual looms as energy becomes available. Would you need "wear leveling" as used for thumb drives?

Re:No, because they are not compatible (2)

ssam (2723487) | about 9 months ago | (#46163681)

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 you would either add the capability to load follow into your nuclear plants or you would solve energy storage.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (4, Interesting)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 9 months ago | (#46163721)

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.

Re:No, because they are not compatible (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 9 months ago | (#46163783)

Um... So what?

You can always use excess from a fixed power to charge up methods of storing energy for peak usage. Batteries, Flywheels, Converting Water to Hydrogen...
Vs. Wind and Solar when they are getting a very sunny or windy day, they take the extra energy and store it in different methods in case of peak usage.

The difference is Variance in Demand vs Variance in supply.

How many forests do you need to cut down for a Solar Farm, what if your area isn't particular windy. Nuclear benefit is that it can meet demand and be location neutral. Nuclear can replace Coal Power, Solar and Wind cannot. You can though have Solar, Wind and Nuclear, working together on the same grid, We can have many energy sources, and we really shouldn't stick to one.

Nuclear has a Toxic Side effects, that lasts a long time, so it shouldn't be maximized... That said it is better then what we are doing now.

Betteridge's Law of Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163133)

No.

Re:Betteridge's Law of Headlines (0)

blagooly (897225) | about 9 months ago | (#46163433)

My favorite Nuke Story is about "Elmer, that Crazy Nigga ". Elmer Allen spent his life telling folks that the government had injected him with a cancer virus. Heh. That crazy nigga. Turns out the Doctor that had Elmer Allen declared insane was the same Doctor submitting Elmer's tissue samples for tests, to see how the shot of plutonuim they had given him was working out, over time.

Re:Betteridge's Law of Headlines (1)

blagooly (897225) | about 9 months ago | (#46163711)

The funny and factual true story of Elmer Allen is documented in "The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War" By Eileen Welsome. Another fun fact? Folks in Japan have had to abandon land that their families had occupied for 10 generations. Nevermind all that. Just remember, and repeat after me, "Coal is more dangerous than Nuclear!".

A Fundamental Flaw (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163159)

In their own words,

We commissioned studies to show

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

Re:A Fundamental Flaw (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 9 months ago | (#46163301)

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 environment as a potential hazard. Some may argue increased plant safety, but external events show that safety isn't inherent.

Re:A Fundamental Flaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163447)

Not a single thing you said addresses the fact that science is not being done properly when one pays to find evidence for a viewpoint, as opposed to paying to find evidence in general, and then deduce what the viewpoint should be.

Re:A Fundamental Flaw (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 9 months ago | (#46163535)

And so you didn't read it. Paying for a report doesn't pay for its bias, although it could. You could find out by climbing into what's being said. A healthy skepticism is required, of course.

Funded science occurs all the time, and it doesn't necessarily buy results. Certainly bad results often are buried, but this is more about joining forces, rather than projection or statistical nonesence. That said, I don't believe that nuclear development at this time is a good idea no matter the crux of their science, as the main issues are still untenable for future generations until they can be resolved, and nothing resolves them in this report other than furthering the concept that current generation methodologies, like coal, natural gas, and others are unsustainable. Nothing new there.

We need nuclear. (2, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 9 months ago | (#46163163)

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 bad as fossil fuels. Similarly, if we just used hydroelectric, then we could cause major problems with rivers.

Nuclear is very clearly part of our energy solution, and it is time that we, as green environmentalists, accept that.

Re:We need nuclear. (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 9 months ago | (#46163229)

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. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163247)

Please enlighten me how generating energy from a nuclear reactor causes the "same problem" as fossil fuel powered plants? Please?

Re:We need nuclear. (1)

Chas (5144) | about 9 months ago | (#46163419)

Consumption of rarefied resources.
Water consumption.
Greenhouse gas generation (water vapor (steam) is a greenhouse gas and comprises 70% of the total greenhouse effect).
Fuel transport costs/issues.
Possible environmental contamination issues.

The issues aren't IDENTICAL to fossil fuel plants. But they're just different versions of the same family of issues that fossil fuel plants have.

Re:We need nuclear. (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about 9 months ago | (#46163633)

Greenhouse gas generation (water vapor (steam) is a greenhouse gas and comprises 70% of the total greenhouse effect).

Pumping water vapor into the atmosphere does not increase the greenhouse effect. The air becomes saturated, and the excess water falls out as rain.

Re:We need nuclear. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163639)

So you don't actually know anything about modern nuclear reactor designs then? Righto-o. "Consumption of rarefied resources." Thorium is vastly more abundant than other fissile materials currently in use. "Greenhouse gas generation (water vapor (steam) is a greenhouse gas and comprises 70% of the total greenhouse effect)." LFTR doesn't use steam turbines. "Fuel transport costs/issues." It is very easy to transport Thorium around. The salts can be transported in solid form as well. "Possible environmental contamination issues." LFTR burns up nearly all of the fuel leaving behind medical and scientifically needed isotopes. The amount of actual waste is negligible. Especially when compared to modern designs.

Re:We need nuclear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163649)

Consumption of rarefied resources.

Dude, those are radioactive resources. Unlike oil and natural gas, they will be consumed even if we just leave them in the ground.

Re:We need nuclear. (0)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 9 months ago | (#46163347)

The problem with fossil fuels is it is simply adding millions of years worth of CO2 to the environment (in a single century), never removing it. Humans continually add and REMOVE CO2 from the environment making a net zero sum total.

Re:We need nuclear. (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 9 months ago | (#46163397)

Humans do remove CO2, but we are net producers. LIkewise, plants create CO2 but are net consumers.

Re:We need nuclear. (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 9 months ago | (#46163659)

net consumers

I don't think that means what you think it means. :)

You can only claim a plant is a net consumer of carbon if over it's entire life-cycle it consumes more than it produces.

After a plant dies it decomposes and releases the CO2 back into the atmosphere - unless it gets trapped in situations that produced our oil. But that's a different case. In 'normal' conditions, they consume and then release CO2.

likewise people. We consume carbon through eating and release it through breathing and other outputs - if you aren't carbon neutral you're going to die pretty quickly.

Human 'society' obviously is net producing due to our use of fossil fuels, but a human being simply can't exist without being carbon 'neutral'.

Re:We need nuclear. (1)

Burz (138833) | about 9 months ago | (#46163761)

Human bodies are not net CO2 producers: An uneaten foodstuff will return its carbon to the atmosphere in the short-term on its own... even if another type of animal didn't eat it instead.

We are net producers by 'virtue' of our agriculture and CO2 industries; the irony being that the way we raise plants produces more CO2 than it consumes.

Re:We need nuclear. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163359)

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 hydroelectric is that you can take energy from nuclear and store up in the dam. Then you can use it when you need it.

It is all just a matter of choice and the article is right. Dicking around and saying that nuclear or hydroelectric isn't viable is not only obviously false but it also doesn't benefit anyone but the the coal power plants.

Re:We need nuclear. (2)

MtViewGuy (197597) | about 9 months ago | (#46163489)

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 nuclear reactor that is extremely safe to run (even in earthquake-prone areas) and uses commonly-available thorium-232 dissolved in molten fluoride salts as fuel, which means the potential for _thousands_ of years of fuel supply. And that could be a gigantic game-changer in terms of power generation, enough to do things like electrifying long-distance railroads around the world and do large-scale seawater desalinization to turn former deserts into arable farmland.

Re:We need nuclear. (2)

Ferrofluid (2979761) | about 9 months ago | (#46163509)

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.

Re:We need nuclear. (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 9 months ago | (#46163709)

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 next 500 years and what's left is only hot for a few hundred years, not 10,000 years.

Re:We need nuclear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163763)

It amazes me how 'nuclear' gets translated into the old style we-can-make-bombs-outta-this-stuff reactor. There _other_ ways of 'going nuclear' that do not lead to the ability to make a weapon { so why is Iran following the path that /does/, pray tell }.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LFTR

If the United States does not or will not make this happen, we'll be importing them from the people who do.

Stupid headline (5, Funny)

Enigma2175 (179646) | about 9 months ago | (#46163167)

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

No way (2, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about 9 months ago | (#46163169)

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

Re:No way (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163483)

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) to educate the public and healthcare providers about the risks of air pollution to the heart.

"Over more than four decades of EPA history, we've made tremendous progress cleaning up the air we breathe by using science to understand the harmful effects of air pollution," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “While EPA continues to fight for clean air, Americans can take further action to protect their heart health by following the advice in our new PSA.”

February is American Heart Month, and one of EPA’s commitments in the U.S. Surgeon General’s National Prevention Strategy is to educate health care professionals on the health effects of air pollution, including heart risks. This PSA supports the Million Hearts initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September, 2011 to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

Air pollution can trigger heart attacks, stroke, and worsen heart conditions, especially in people with heart disease. One in three Americans in the United States has heart disease. Very small particles are the pollutants of greatest concern for triggering health effects from exposure to air pollutants. These particles are found in transportation exhaust, haze, smoke, and dust and sometimes in air that looks clean. Particle pollution can be found in the air at any time of the year.

People with heart disease should check the daily Air Quality Index forecast, which is color coded, to protect their health. At code orange or higher, particle pollution can be harmful to people with heart disease. On bad air quality days, it is recommended to reschedule outdoor exercise or exercise indoors instead, and avoid exercising near busy roads.

Air Quality Index forecasts for more than 400 cities are available on the forecast map through the free AirNow app for iPhone and Android phones, and through the free EnviroFlash e-mail service. To sign up, visit http://airnow.gov/ and click on the “Apps” or “EnviroFlash” icons.

Watch and download the PSA: http://youtu.be/yHXUPZCUuGs

A broadcast-ready version of the PSA is available here: http://www.dvidshub.net/video/320928/smart-protect-your-heart-air-pollution#

Learn more ways to protect your heart from air pollution at www.epa.gov/healthyheart.

Learn about the Million Hearts Initiative at http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/index.html

Re:No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163491)

Productive like your head-in-ass commentary, I take it?

Absofuckinglutely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163195)

Fossil fuels are the tiniest blip on the radar in the big picture of time. They will, without a doubt, be effectively consumed (or prices will be so high as to make them unavailable for casual use) within the lifetimes of people who are alive today.

Whether that happens one generation down the road or two is immaterial. The crucial point is that our society depends on ready, reasonably inexpensive access to energy. The Fischer-Tropsch process can convert more available things into quasi-fuel, and could keep our legacy fleets of vehicles operating for quite some time, but like everything it is a lossy process. If we aren't generating with fossil fuels, we need to come up with that from somewhere.

Most (yeah, dams are the exception) renewables are variable and unsuitable for base generation. This is the purview of nuclear. They serve DIFFERENT and COMPLEMENTARY purposes, people.

I'd just like to know the world I hand down to my children and grandchildren doesn't include stories about "those funny switches on the wall which don't do anything." Because that's the road we are on. This issue is the most important one facing humanity today, right alongside ready access to fresh water, and it is being ignored because the status quo mostly works.

For now.

Re:Absofuckinglutely. (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about 9 months ago | (#46163309)

I'd just like to know the world I hand down to my children and grandchildren doesn't include stories about "those funny switches on the wall which don't do anything." Because that's the road we are on.

See, that dystopian future just won't happen. We're not going to just wake up one day and find that there's no coal left in the ground, and whoopsie, we can't power the world anymore! It's an asymptote, not a brick wall. Coal reserves are going to disappear slowly, and new coal will be harder to find and more expensive to mine. So the price of coal will rise, gradually. And just as gradually, people will start getting power from sources that used to be more expensive than coal, but aren't anymore since the price of coal went up. We're watching that happen right now: coal prices are going up and natural gas prices are going down, and the big players are shifting from one to the other.

We'll all end up on renewable tech eventually, as fossil fuels become more expensive through dwindling supply. The point is that we should work so that "eventually" becomes "soon", for reasons of pollution and climate change. It's not because we're going to run out.

Re:Absofuckinglutely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163361)

The problem with this line of thinking is that it falls into the logical trap of assuming that there won't be consequences from a poorly planned transition to other forms of energy, but that the only problem is somehow an instant "No more fuel" result.

I can't deny that there may be overly simplistic depictions of that, but I don't feel it's generally representative of the concerns being put forward.

Re:Absofuckinglutely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163561)

There are literally hundreds of years of known coal reserves. We're not going to run out any time soon, but that doesn't make mining it, or the power generated from it, any cleaner.

You are right, but not for the reasons you state (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46163515)

They will, without a doubt, be effectively consumed (or prices will be so high as to make them unavailable for casual use) within the lifetimes of people who are alive today.

The only reason why that statement is actually true is because before too long I expect 500 year lifespans, which is the rough estimate to use up the KNOWN reserves at current rates.

rebuttal misses some points... (5, Insightful)

Mr Krinkle (112489) | about 9 months ago | (#46163235)

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...

Re:rebuttal misses some points... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163365)

We WOULD push for nukes if it wasn't for the fact that the media/NIMBY/politicians/pop culture didn't spend half a century effectively outlawing it. Until someone takes an axe to the legal restrictions/limitations around constructing new nuclear plants, nuclear power will NEVER be re-adopted.

recuttal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163405)

I don't trust the word of someone who turns appliances on by CUTTING them.

OIl and gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163499)

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.

That's the thing, it's not normal. The Oil and gas industries are allowed to take write-offs at rates that are unavailable to other industries because Congress wanted to promote oil exploration. My knowledge is a bit dated, but when I was doing taxes back in the lte 80s, you could deduct 125% of the costs against the revenues of an oil well. Yes, basically the US taxpayer PAID the oil company for drilling a well. I seriouly doubt that the tax laws have changed.

Re:rebuttal misses some points... (1)

Chas (5144) | about 9 months ago | (#46163539)

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.

Re:rebuttal misses some points... (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about 9 months ago | (#46163729)

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 region within 1 hour?

As a General Rule (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 9 months ago | (#46163269)

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 have 0% control or influence in the future (if it does turn out to be really really bad). Fairly intelligent analysis, drowned out by trolls with all cap megaphones. I used to belong to a solar energy activist group. Would still like to see it get the equivalent of the Oppenheimer subsidies. But couldn't stand the company, too many dolts agreeing with me.

Re:As a General Rule (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 9 months ago | (#46163463)

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 dent in prices over the long term as the supply of 'cheap' oil is dwindling - exactly the reason the tar sands are now even economical to develop.

"relatively" and "differently" clean (3, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about 9 months ago | (#46163283)

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.

It's all nuclear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163287)

At some point all energy comes from nuclear reactions.

Either it comes from the nuclear reactor at the center of our solar system (causing wind, and solar energy), or the radioactive decay in the earths core (geothermal).

Even fossil fuels came from nuclear energy.

I vote for cutting out the middlemen.

Re:It's all nuclear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163413)

At some point all energy comes from nuclear reactions.

Except for energy generated by tidal forces. We get that by stealing energy from the moon.

ask the ordinary citizen glowing monkeys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163305)

we're first in line for almost everything... http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=radiation%20poisoning%20cost%20per%20kwh&sm=3

Every Nuke Plant in the USA is faulty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163317)

According to the former NRC chairman recommend all US plants should be shutdown:
http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/forum/218/former-nrc-chairman-jaczko-says-all-us-nuke-plants-should-be-phased-out.2013-04-12

Most of the operating plants have serious problems, but the power companies don't have the money to decommission them. So the NRC extends and preys. Sooner or later the US will have its own Fukashima to deal with.
Just to decommision and replace all of the exist US plants would cost the US about 2.5 Trillion. So before you can expand, you need to deal with the existing problems first. I don't see the US having a spare 2.5 Trillion. The US is already insolvent as it owes 17.4 Trillion (on the books), and the only way it can pay its bills is to borrow at 0% interest rates and have the Fed print $500 billion a year. If interest rates returned to normal rates of about 5%, the interest payments on the 17.5 Trillion would consume about half the revenue the gov't collects in taxes and fees.

Like hand and glove (3, Interesting)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 9 months ago | (#46163367)

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

Been obvious to everyone from the start.

Hate CO2 emissions? Nuclear Haters responsible (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Nuclear: your granddad's power of the future (0)

sam_vilain (33533) | about 9 months ago | (#46163543)

Nuclear power has a larger carbon footprint than you might think [usyd.edu.au] : from the concrete used to build the stations, to the energy used in the mining, extraction and refining processes to produce the fuel. It can take more than 6 years to mitigate the energy used in building of the facility, let alone the actual construction costs.

On account of the fact that every utility scale fission reactor design is really nuclear steam power, every watt of power it produces requires two watts of heat dissipation using water [ucsusa.org] . Of course this means the plants have to shut down if it's too hot, and that source of fresh water you were drawing on is not as cool as it was when the plant was built (eg, due to climate change).

It's also super expensive, because risks must be mitigated; some have pointed out this has led to a negative learning curve of nuclear power [thinkprogress.org] .

Much as it is kind of cool that people are using nuclear physics to make power, it really is very dated technology. Phasing it out in favor of cheaper, safer alternatives is a much better idea: with the advent of flow batteries [harvard.edu] , liquid metal batteries [ieee.org] , you don't need to have peaking power plants paired with the renewables. You just need more renewables.

Maybe nuclear should figure out how to be safe (1)

Nelson (1275) | about 9 months ago | (#46163583)

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 but it might need to stay in operation for decades... maybe longer? The costs at Chernobyl are still in the billions and it's not making energy any more, that's just to keep the already ruined land from getting worse.. These things are pre-optimized for nearer term profits for the operators and the longer term clean up costs in the rare (but not so rare it never happens) even of a disaster and the longer term waste storage costs just aren't factored in, not on the correct scale at least.

I know we have thorium an there are some compelling options that seem like there could be abundant, affordable energy for ages to come without contributing to global warming but the downsides are staggering and more importantly, we actually experience the downsides, they aren't impossibly rare. I don't think the problems are such that solutions cannot be engineered but it seems like they're more focused on other things than building the best nuclear solutions..

Re:Maybe nuclear should figure out how to be safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163717)

The last commercial nuclear reactor built in the US entered service in 1996.

More thorium reactors! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46163605)

Less nuka-bomba uranium/plutonium reactors! There lies thy ballanced answer.

You're cute. You think they're reasonable. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 9 months ago | (#46163689)

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 if you make what you're doing out of sight out of mind... they tend to leave you alone. For example, we've moved most of our coal power generation to China where its a lot dirtier then it was in the US and they have no control over it. What do you think happens when industry is closed down or priced out of the US for environmental reasons? It goes over seas where the same thing happens with no restrictions. Mission accomplished, dipshits.

3. Pay off the leaders. Many times the organizers are little more then glorified shakedown artists. They'll want millions. But if you pay them they should be able to contain the gaggle of fools the follow them. This will mean striking up an alliance with the likes of Al Gore... but those are the sorts that control this monster.

Short of that... not much you can do...

Don't get me wrong, I love renewable energy. That said, I have no specific problem with any form of power generation.

Filtered coal plants are great and regardless of any regulation we will burn the coal in the ground... one way or another and eventually.

Nuclear is also pretty great. Mostly because its so compact. Mostly great for mobile high power platforms. We have nuke subs for example that were fueled when they were initially built and have been in continuous operation for 30 years. That beats the pants off gasoline.

Here is what renewable needs:

1. Cheap storage. Something like flywheels or ultra capacitors. Batteries are a non starter.

2. Decentralized generation. Ideally on top of your actual house. A percentage of power is lost in transmission over long distances. A percentage of power is lost meeting demand largely by over supplying a bit... there are other things that each shave their percentage off the total. Add them all up and its a significant amount of power. If the power were provided locally you'd get most of that back.

3. Extremely cheap solar panels. We need something so cheap that you can put it on every surface without thinking about the cost. The efficiency doesn't have to be great. It just needs to be insanely cheap. Do that, and then link everything up to that... and then maybe you'll need a few high efficiency cells.

Get everyone running mostly on their own generation and they'll start conserving power. Not because they want to conserve but because they would run out of power otherwise.

Ideally do the same thing with water as well... at least in so far as having a cistern that is fed from municipal supply. So if there is a disruption or there are months when the water is expensive... they can shift around. Also, in California they're talking about water rationing again. So it might be nice to just have a giant tank buried somewhere on the property and get it topped up from time to time by a water truck.

Umbrage? (1)

trongey (21550) | about 9 months ago | (#46163787)

I take umbrage with solar and wind power being called renewable. They aren't. When the sun is used up we won't get another one. When the heat from the sun is gone we won't have any more wind.

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