Transparency over nuclear energy


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(Andrew Downing) #62

Sounds nice the way you describe it, but take a read through these:

Firstly, most of the world is still on theGen II reactors (considered unsafe - meltdowns etc.)
There are no working Gen III reactors. There are many projects, but look through here at the litany of failed projects and budget/time blow-outs.

The only Gen III design actually considered safer is:, also with many construction blow-outs due to design complexity. We’re talking years and billions of $.

EDIT: Additionally,

  • Gen IV is mostly in design and prototype stages. There is a Gen IV forum, of which Australia is a member. Gen IV is where most of the serious gains in safety and efficiency are expected.
  • Gen V is a pipe dream at this time.

  1. Assured/proven reserves are a poor indicator of the total future supply of a mineral resource. They’re a statement about what is known, not what is there.

  2. Thorium is also a viable fuel, and it’s several times more abundant than uranium.

  3. As AndrewDowning said, breeder reactors.

The article you reference devotes a considerable amount of effort to specifically debunking the “only X years of known resources left at current usage rates” fallacy. See Appendix 1. Hell, the sentences directly following your quote contradict the point you’re trying to make.

Australia also tends to rank near the top of the list for uranium/thorium resources.

(Mark) #64

Whatever tiny chance Australia has of embracing nuclear almost certainly drops to zero if we have to use old reactor tech. Gen IV modulars could be feasible - maybe? - if they can stack up practically against solar thermal with storage (or whatever the next phase of renewables turns out to be). Nuclear and renewables have very different hurdles to overcome and different strengths, so it’s hard to make simple statements. I’m just saying don’t rule things out pre-emptively.

(John August) #65

OK, on the document you have provided, I can see the graph from your post 28 of this thread. However, I cannot see the figures in post 21, with the reference at the bottom “Source : Open El, Lazard, Nucleus Wealth Estimates”.

That was the table with figures for “utility solar”, “utility solar+partial battery”, “utility solar+full battery” and “nuclear”, with the fact that “utility solar” was separated out from the battery variants suggesting that the levelised cost for “utility solar” was in fact for solar without batteries, and so really Nuclear should have been compared to the utility solar+full battery. That would in fact reflect my understanding of what “utility solar” means - in fact, something that seems the case in the report from the CO2CRC report you referenced.

Further, I observe that both of the tables in your list of 21 are for future projected costs, and do not allow of the possibility of next-general nuclear power plants having a cheaper electric costs in the future. Further, we don’t know what year the figures in your list were calculated.

So, what is the reference to your list in post 21, from “Open El, Lazard, Nucleus Wealth Estimates” ?

(Ben McGinnes) #66

What, you mean like LFTRs, Pebble-bed reactors, PBMRs and the HTR-10?

(Ben McGinnes) #67

I’m fairly sure that any others are, erm, classified … allegedly there was one in Melbourne somewhere, but I can’t recall the details. I vaguely recall speaking to someone who worked with the damned thing before it was decommissioned. I can’t recall any of the details enough to jog my memory enough and confirm the details of it, though.

(Jesse Hermans) #68

I go those from MacroBusiness:

I don’t know where the author got it from, but you could probably find it somewhere or email and ask him. I thought it was worth posting given it was another source and it seemed consistent with the other one.

(Jesse Hermans) #69

The CO2CRC report had solar thermal with storage (which was still completely cheaper than nuclear), but didn’t include storage for PV utilities. But the CO2CRC report did take into account cost projections for nuclear, so I don’t see what the issue is there. I used the MacroBusiness charts as a proxy for what was not available in the CO2CRC graphs for PV+storage, and even those charts don’t have wind+storage which is likely much cheaper given how much cheaper wind is compared to solar.

(John August) #70

A fair point.

Still, I understand there are “passively safe” reactors, short of gen III’s, but ones that would have not had Fukushima issues.

Still, developing ( I think ) Andrew’s point … not only do we want Gen III reactors, or at least passively safe ones, we want a global program to decomission the old reactors and replace them with new ones.

But we don’t see any such schemes, only plans to introduce newer ones as well. I do have issues with the overall picture, much as - in a narrow sense - I see see the possibilities for nuclear.

(David Boxall) #71

I see one glaring omission here: is there a need for nuclear power generation? Some would obviously like reactors to play with, but the most promising developments are in renewables.

Do we? Why?

(John August) #72

Your argument is based on projections about future technology, not the prices as they are now. For sure, nuclear is currently cheaper than the range of prices for solar thermal with storage, and we have to take your word that the CO2CRC report really does incorporate the possibility of higher generation nuclear reactors.

I was asking about apples and oranges. I think I was correct in asking that question, particularly when it came to the macrobusiness figures. I do not think it justified your patronising reply of “With all due respect John …”.

I’ve said my piece. I really do not wish to say more on this, and I will leave you to it.

(Jesse Hermans) #73

John, unless you can wave a magic wand and have a nuclear power plant built tomorrow, those future cost projections are indicative of the market nuclear would be operating in by the time it is built and operational. Additionally even if you could build it tomorrow, within 5-10 years it would probably be uncompetitive and become a dinosaur asset. The power plant has to be cost effective over the most of the life of the plant. The moment that’s undermined within half the plant’s lifetime, it ceases to be commercially sensible to put in those high upfront sunk costs. Coal is facing the same issue. Gas only has an edge because it can meet peak demand and has a lower emissions profile than coal.
I don’t require further response to this either.


That’s a poor question. The only need is for a practical supply of electricity that doesn’t involve excessive pollution. A better question would be “Do the characteristics of nuclear make it suitable for helping to fulfill that need?” And since more or less all its bad points are direct or indirect results of its unwarranted unpopularity and it has several very good points, I’d answer yes. At the very least the current ban is completely nonsensical.

This is another one of those self fulfilling things. Nuclear has been demonised and avoided for decades, while solar/wind has had a lot of investment. Unsurprisingly, a lot of developments are in renewables.

One of the things I really hate is when a useful technology is irrationally avoided. The list of such things I’ve come across so far includes nuclear power, monorails, maglev, and the Ada programming language.

(David Boxall) #75

Which you haven’t answered. I see a lot of assertions and no evidence that there’s any need for nuclear power generation.

How is nuclear superior to renewables plus storage?

(🔰‏ {UBI + LVT = 42} ) #76

i tend to agree with both, that there is probably little need for nuclear but that i agree that the market can workout the cheapest technologies within a framework that penalises the violation of property and health rights via carbon pollution and with strict rules about nuclear reactors. i feel like that last bit about government requirements for safety hasn’t been worked out yet properly. im not sure how other countries like France do it though.

Unfortunately nuclear reactors are worse than guns in this respect. The threat of disasters and health threats require government regulation even if the market allows for nuclear reactors. Without that fleshed out, its a weak stance to be pro-nuclear imo, however i guess with this post i was trying to see if there was benefit in transparency about this, but maybe it is best to just not mention it, im not sure about that.

(John August) #77

Well, my development was assuming the possible worth of nuclear reactors, how might it be realised? We are all talking about the technological possibility of different sorts of power generation. I think it is a valid point that renewables have been getting a lot of oxygen lately, so the idea of “promise” may be more an issue of context rather than underlying worth. And it was me who was wondering where the plans were to replace existing nuclear power plants with better ones, a question which I thought was worth asking.

But, yes, that’s the assumption behind it. I was not trying to avoid it, just moving where the argument seemed to be going.

Look at it more deeply. Why are we generating power at all? Don’t ask whether there’s a need for nuclear power generation, ask if there’s a need for any sort of generation at all. We could just use less energy / improve our productivity to the point where it was no longer an issue, save for the second law of thermodynamics. From that perspective, we should question the generation of power by any means.

Love the power, hate the power station.

(David Boxall) #78

As far as I know, the push is all toward replacing nuclear with renewables. There’s no more evidence of need for new nuclear than there is for new coal-fired power generation.

I take it you mean demand response. We’ll need power generation for the foreseeable future. The question is how much and at what times?


Now you’re just being disingenuous. I indirectly answered it in the process of pointing out it being a poor question, but I’ll spell it out further:

There is no need for nuclear.
There is no need for solar.
There is no need for wind.
There is no need for hydro.
There is no need for geothermal.
There is no need for tidal.
There is no need for coal.
There is no need for gas.

Do you see the point yet? The only need is for a practical source of electricity that doesn’t involve excessive pollution. Your question is not useful for determining energy policy.

Probably shouldn’t group sources like that, since eg wind and pv solar have quite different characteristics. But in general, nuclear emits less carbon, uses less space, and kills fewer people. It’s not a huge difference like nuclear/solar/wind vs coal, but it is measurable. Nuclear also has a much higher capacity factor than solar and wind.

Best stance to take at the moment is probably to support that SA RC and repeal the ban.

Mostly because of superstitious nonsense, not evidence.

(🔰‏ {UBI + LVT = 42} ) #80

The Jervis Bay reactor from the seventies?..

The fungibility decentrialised nature of solar and wind generation alone is a fundamental benefit over complex centralised technologies like nuclear, even before cost analysis.

The tech is ready, we just need the national market that discincentivises coal pollution and let the market work it out. We do need sufficient gas and pumped hydro storage. I think maybe an incentive to sell gas to local market cheaper is a good idea in general. Im not fully up to date on what Turnbull has agreed to recently on the gas front though yet.