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UK Power Industry - a turning point?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by PlacidCasual, May 12, 2016.

  1. SPG

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 28, 2010

    Posts: 5,224

    ll error has massive consequences I

    No, no matter the benefit the price is too high when it goes wrong, and it does/will go wrong, 10 years to build 100 years to dismantle and the not my problem argument is not good enough.

    Sorry we need to focus on other generation methods, even on a more global scale, possibly continent wide but that is as likely to happen as Spain to stop arguing about Gibraltar :)
     
  2. b0rn2sk8

    Mobster

    Joined: Mar 9, 2003

    Posts: 4,064

    You also forget the thousands of years you have to store the spent fuel :p

    What ever way you look at nuclear it isn't clean, not by a long way but it is great for "CO2 free generation". Once you start measuring it over the course of the lifetime of the project and the storage of the spent fuel nuclear for over 1000 years it really doesn't look so great.

    We should be measuring the total impacts including disposal into any environmental calculations, just looking at the 'running costs' is just nonsense and short sighted. I would be really interested to see how nuclear stacks up against solar (plus storage), wind (plus storage), tidal (plus storage), gas and coal over the total lifetime of the project(s) including all waste.
     
  3. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

    Joined: May 13, 2003

    Posts: 5,728

    If we’d spent the last 30 years doing some decent nuclear research many of those problems would be diminished. Fast reactors of different forms could be used in theory to burn up much of the most difficult long life materials and liquid salt reactors are naturally more passively safe than PWRs. We have an exciting few years ahead of us if the existing reactors lives are not extended.
     
  4. Nasher

    Capodecina

    Joined: Nov 22, 2006

    Posts: 11,852

    Yea that is the issue, as we saw in Japan recently. If that happened in the UK it would be a huge part of this island becoming uninhabitable.

    Nuclear is not "green" at all. Radiation is a huge environmental risk and it takes millions of years to clear. Which is far longer than any damaged caused by fossil fuels.
     
  5. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 61,556

    Even Japan would have been fine if they hadn't extended the life of the facility significantly beyond its original design - unfortunately though money talks but throughout history it has never been worth it.
     
  6. SPG

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 28, 2010

    Posts: 5,224

    Fusion will be a reality in my lifetime i guess 40years left i guess :)

    Building a nuclear power station at this time seems beyond stupid tbh.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
  7. platypus

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jul 25, 2003

    Posts: 38,850

    Location: Rhône-Alpes+Cambridge

    Why shouldn't you buy Russian underpants?

    Because Chernobyl fallout..
     
  8. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 29,902


    But the issue is nuclear is insanely expensive to build, expensive to maintain and operate, and insanely expensive to deactivate. Extending the operating lifetime is basically a guarnatee due to economics.
     
  9. Werewolf

    Commissario

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 27,419

    Location: Panting like a fiend

    Well except you need reliable baseline power and it's going to be needed in the next 5-10 years, until fusion comes around (it's been only 10 years away for the last 40 or 50 years;)) the only other options are basically coal, oil or gas as we don't have the ability to store excess power from renewable source in large enough quantities to cover their lulls in production.

    There are designs of nuclear reactor that are far more reliable than what we've been using, the advantage of 30 or 40 years of additional R&D and lessons learned, and a lot of the nuclear waste that people worry about from reactors wouldn't be considered a risk if produced from other processes both power production such as coal and industrial(IIRC if you take a bit of waste from many coal plants to a nuclear one it'll trigger an alert*), I think even some parts of the UK are more naturally radioactive than a lot of the waste from our nuclear plants (and the vast majority of the nuclear waste is that sort of low level stuff).


    *From memory coal is usually very slightly radioactive, not much per kilo but the waste from burning it concentrates it and no one thinks anything of that waste in regards to how radioactive it might be (they're more worried about it being "dirty" or the effects of the fine particulates and co2, despite it being enough to potentially trigger a warning at nuclear plants).
     
  10. Orionaut

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 2, 2012

    Posts: 6,523

    Please provide the names and addresses of all the people who have been injured or killed as a consequence of accidents involving civil nuclear power production.

    (You may include Windscale, Chernobyl and indeed Fukushima)

    Now also provide the names and addresses of all the people who have been injured/killed as a result of operations involving Coal, Oil and even Hydro power (Hint, Hydro is a complete Lulu! :eek: )

    Note, I don't realistically expect you do do so. The casualties that have historically resulted from Non-Nuclear power sources are almost without number. The thing that seems to spook people about Nuclear accidents is that the numbers are so small they can actually all be put on one page of A4 (And that is all of them, all put together, ever! and with plenty of blank page left over!)

    The phrase "No-Brainer" really does come to mind!
     
  11. SPG

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 28, 2010

    Posts: 5,224

    I was.all in favour of nuclear power until a visit to Chernobyl. It changed my mind, while i understamd a disaster on that scale is unlikely if it happend at selafield for example the lake district would be out of bounds for ever.....

    As for fusion china claim they have something on stream next year, that jobbie in france is back on track. The usa are constantly smashing records on temperatures its never beem closer (yet still far away)

    The fact we could build safer reactors which we do not do as fot stupid reason they still want weapons grade plutonium from them.
     
  12. Terminal_Boy

    Soldato

    Joined: Apr 13, 2013

    Posts: 6,195

    Location: La France

    Could a variant of the F1 KERS technology be used to storage energy for domestic use?
     
  13. b0rn2sk8

    Mobster

    Joined: Mar 9, 2003

    Posts: 4,064

    Not really, KERS is Kenitec energy recovery system. It’s a motor that can also act as a generator which is stuck on the drive axle and the turbo of the newest engines. When the accelerator is pressed it delivers extra power. When you coast it recovers power. That power is stored in batteries.

    The batteries are what you need for home storage, well and a 2 way inverter. Bog standard lithium will do but there are other technologies work just fine like flow batteries and salt batteries. Even led acid will work, you just need more lots more of them.

    In a domestic or commercial install size and weight are less of a consideration than say a car.
     
  14. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 29,902


    Best case scenario for Fusion is still at least 30 years away to start building the next generation reactors that wouldn't be operational for at least 20 more years after that, and wide spread Fusion likly takes at least another 30-50 years. You are talking more like 70s years before we can be largely reliant on Fusion Globally. And that is if there are no major issues, and th economics can be worked out.

    The current status is actually pretty bleak. The high Q ratio (total power generated vs added) is a miserable 0.0069. The longest a Fusion reaction has been sustained for is 0.3 seconds. So we need to improve efficiency by 100-200X and increase duration by 1 billion times, while simultaneously reducing costs by 20x.

    I know (well used to know closely) 5 or 6 physicists who worked on Fusion, very much Sheldon form Big Bang Theory kind of intelligence. They were all pretty dubious that we would ever see functional Fusion in our lifetimes. Part of the issue is renewable energy just gets massively cheaper and better every year while progress in Fusion goes at a snail pace. Fusion needs massive funding that is hard to get (often taking 10-15 years of negotiation),and is then concentrated in small pools and small sets of experiments. While research in solar and batteries is massively cheaper and distributed.
     
  15. Angilion

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Dec 5, 2003

    Posts: 15,744

    Location: Just to the left of my PC

    If we built a modern nuclear fission power station in the lake district it would not be a design that was extremely bad in the 1950s let alone today, used for far longer than it should have been, deliberately misused and staffed by people who didn't know what they were doing. Chernobyl is irrelevant to a modern nuclear fission power station. Fukushima was also a very old design and being used well past its intended date and even then it took an extreme disaster to make it fail and even then it failed only because of bad planning and cost cutting. The whole thing could have been completely avoided if a wall had been built to the specs the engineers wanted rather than being inferior to cut costs.

    Even with those two disasters, both of which are irrelevant to a modern nuclear fission power station, nuclear fission is still the safest way to generate base load electricity.

    We can't use "renewable" sources because we can't control them and can't store electricity on anything even vaguely approaching something within orders of magnitude of what is required. There's no sign of that situation changing any time soon.
    We can't use fusion because it's not currently practical. Current fusion reactors work, but require more power than they generate and aren't even intended for sustained use, i.e. they're not power stations at all. Best case scenario for a fusion power station is the late 2040s. That's not soon enough.

    So we're required to use fossil fuels or fission if we want to keep civilisation functioning. There are no other options.

    Those statement are not true. The highest q is 0.67 (at JET), not 0.0069, i.e. 100 times better than you stated. Fusion reactions can be sustained for much longer than 0.3 seconds - they're deliberately kept short because they're experiments that consume a lot of power - why waste it on keeping it running for longer than required for the experiment?

    Fusion is currently far from being practical, but not as far as you claimed it is.
     
  16. No1newts

    Capodecina

    Joined: May 24, 2009

    Posts: 19,259

    Location: North East

    Efficient energy storage for wind solar would be a huge step forward, whoever aces that will be worth a few quid.

    We really should be investing more on R&D on tidal energy, we are a blinking big Island and that would be ideal if we can nail that down.

    Without energy storage renewables will never present a complete solution but renewables should be the way forward. New wind farms are now subsidy free, it is cost effective it just needs supported.

    Beyond energy generation (and could also be used to help stimulate the economy) mass installation of solar panels on public buildings should be happening, more generous subsidies for solar on houses, a program of better insulation on houses, I forget the exact name but the energy saving LED bulbs for lighting, legislation and control of lighting in public (and possibly even large private) buildings. There are a myriad of ways to reduce our usage to go alongside sustainable generation.

    In reality it will be piecemeal legislation which won't fix anything and we will drift into inevitable issues. Iirc we still don't have an agreed energy strategy beyond 2020 yet at least we didn't a year ago.
     
  17. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 61,556

    It is a shame hydro-generation needs so much space - I was just idly thinking maybe replace the chimney space in many houses which is often unused with such a system using solar to pump to a storage tank at the top during the day (maybe even aux. use for fire fighting) but doing the maths you'd just about be able to power the average laptop for an hour from such a system :s
     
  18. No1newts

    Capodecina

    Joined: May 24, 2009

    Posts: 19,259

    Location: North East

    What are the technicalities that make energy storage so difficult? I am completely ignorant of this so excuse this comment if it is completely moronic but if we can make batteries that store energy why can we just make bigger (much bigger) batteries to store solar/wind energy to release into the grid when needed?
     
  19. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 61,556

    I'm no expert but power density and lifespan in terms of both how long the power can be stored and how long the storage medium lasts for are big considerations - while not insurmountable big li-ion battery banks for instance have a lot of safety considerations as well - often the more effective power storage tends to be a bit volatile which isn't a great idea in larger scale near housing, etc.
     
  20. Angilion

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Dec 5, 2003

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    And it's at least as far away as fusion, which would solve the problem more efficiently. There are at least plausible ideas on making a fusion power station. There's nothing on energy storage on the scale required and with the efficiency required. The very best that is plausible today is pumped water, which requires specific geographical conditions, very large volumes of land, devastates any local ecosystem, has very low efficiency and still isn't on anything like a large enough scale. They did a fine job at Dinorwig, but pumped water is nowhere near a plausible solution to the problem. It's good for a degree of load balancing, but it's nowhere near enough to stabilise a system with more than a small amount of renewables.

    That's great on paper, but it's much harder to do in practice and it's not controllable enough. This is a large island, but it has a lot of shipping so many areas are no go for tidal power. It's also expensive to run because large amounts of moving salty water do a good job of wrecking things.

    If it needs to be supported and it can't solve the problem, why should it be the way forward?

    Having millions of uncontrollable tiny power stations using an uncontrollable, variable and unreliable source is at best monumentally difficult to manage and most likely impossible. It's certainly impossible without huge electricity storage capacity, which we don't have and have no signs of having.

    The simple answer is that we can't make current batteries (usually lithium ion, so that's probably what you're thinking of) big enough for that and if we could they would be extremely dangerous. But we can't do it anyway. Not even close. Another approach is to use a battery with a low energy density (which makes it much safer), but then you need implausibly large batteries. We're talking batteries the size of lakes for a national grid, even a small one like ours. Also, the most promising batteries for that purpose (flow batteries) use toxic materials in very large quantities so there's another safety issue there.

    It's not a moronic question. It's just that many things that work well on a smaller scale either can't be done on a larger scale or don't work very well on a larger scale. Batteries are one of those things. Some of the problems are inherent in that you either need to store a very large amount of energy in a small space (which is always dangerous) or you need to use a very large amount of space to store the energy at a lower (and safer) energy density.