Nuclear power update

When we talk nuclear physics to most people their eyes will glaze over with either lack of understanding or fear of the unknown. In fact it is quite simple. Uranium, its most common fuel, is radioactive, which means it naturally decays or fissions. This is the process of splitting atoms which releases heat that can turn water into steam to turn a turbine to create electricity.

Nuclear’s land footprint is small, only a tiny fraction of the land required to gain energy from wind or sun. A typical 1000 megawatt nuclear power plant requires less than a square mile (640 acres) to operate. To produce that amount of power from wind you need 1000, 2.5 megawatt wind turbines operating at their maximum efficiency of 30% which will require 350 square miles. To gain that from the sun you need 3 million solar panels spread across 175 square miles of land.

The truth about nuclear power is that it provides a viable and safe means for satisfying the worlds growing need for electricity. While the US is truly awash in oil and gas and coal as well, the rest of the world is not so lucky. Fortunately outside of the US there is renewed interest in building nuclear power plants.

Misunderstood safety concerns are beginning to fade from memory. The once well known event at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania resulted from faulty instrumentation that gave erroneous readings for the reactor vessel environment. After a series of equipment failures and human errors, the reactor core was compromised, and it underwent a partial meltdown.

Even so, radioactive water released from the reactor core was safely confined within the containment building structure, and very little radiation was released into the environment.

The Three Mile Island incident actually underscores the relative safety of nuclear power plants: The safety devices worked as designed and prevented any injury from occurring to humans, animals, or the environment anywhere near the its location.

Moreover, the accident directly resulted in further improvements in procedures, instrumentation, and safety systems. U.S. nuclear reactor power plants are now substantially safer as a result. Three Mile Islands Unit One is still operating with an impeccable record.

Chernobyl an Anomaly

The worst nuclear power plant disaster in history occurred when the Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine experienced a heat (not nuclear) explosion. If such an explosion were to have occurred in a Western nuclear power plant, it would have been contained because all Western plants are required to have a containment building—a solid structure of steel-reinforced concrete completely encapsulating the nuclear reactor vessel.

The Chernobyl plant did not have this fundamental safety structure, and so the explosion blew off the top of the reactor building, spewing radiation and reactor core pieces into the air.

It was not the explosion, however, but the subsequent fire that spread radioisotopes around the area. The graphite reactor burned ferociously—which could not have happened if the plant had included a containment building from which oxygen could be excluded.

The design of the Chernobyl plant was inferior in other ways as well. Western power plant nuclear reactors are designed to have negative power coefficients of reactivity under operating conditions. This means when control of the reaction is lost, the reaction slows down instead of speeding up, making such a runaway accident impossible.

The flawed Chernobyl nuclear power plant would never have been licensed to operate in the United States or any other Western country, and the accident that occurred there simply could not occur elsewhere.

The circumstances surrounding the accident were in many ways the worst possible, with an exposed reactor core, an open building, and poorly trained operators. Forty nine plant workers and firemen died directly from radiation exposure at Chernobyl.

Public Effects Were Minor

In September 2000, the United NationsScientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) published its Report to the General Assembly , a document of some 1,220 pages in that deals with exposures and effects of the Chernobyl accident.

Apart from about 1,800 thyroid cancer cases registered in children and in some adults—of which more than 99 percent were cured—the U.N. report concluded there is no evidence of any major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure after the accident. The very same result was experienced after the tragedy at Fukushima in 2011where as many as 20,000 died from flooding and pollution from the tsunami but not one from radiation.

At Fukushima there has been no increase in overall cancer incidence or mortality or in non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure. The incidence of leukemia, which due to its short latency time is a good indicator of radiation harm. It has not been elevated among the approximately five million inhabitants of the contaminated regions, nor among the evacuated persons or recovery operation workers.

No deaths directly attributable to exposure from the Chernobyl radiation have been found in the population of the contaminated regions.

In fact, cancer incidence rates over the most-contaminated regions of Ukraine near Chernobyl have been consistently lower than rates in the country as a whole. The incidence of solid cancers among Russian recovery operation workers have also been lower than among the general population. This is why radiation therapy exists in medicine. While a lot is very bad, a little can be very good

This is consistent with studies from the World War II atomic bomb blasts, where small doses of radiation received far from ground zero produced lower cancer rates than among the general population. It is also consistent with medical research indicating low-dose radiation actually serves to protect at-risk individuals from the development of cancer.

The whole-body radiation dose due to the Chernobyl fallout received during the past 25 years by individuals in the most-contaminated parts of the former Soviet Union (about 1 mSv per year) is 10 to 100 times lower than the dose of ionizing radiation from natural sources received by individuals in many regions of the world. Neither radiation-induced diseases nor any genetic disorders have ever been found in these regions.

While clearly there have been fatalities related to mining coal, drilling for oil and burning natural gas, it turns out that nuclear power has surprisingly been the safest way to produce electricity. In the US, however, it can no longer compete economically with fossil fuel due to unnecessary redundant safety requirements. Fortunately other countries like France, Korea and China are producing nuclear power safely at much lower costs.

France gets 75% of its power from its nuclear power plants and is the largest exporter of electricity in Europe. It had been a major importer until the late 1970s when they began building their nuclear program. Waste from nuclear plants is extremely small. France’s nuclear waste from 56 power plants is heated to become a form of glass which sits beneath a single building smaller than a basketball court. All the waste from twice as many plants in the US over 60 years would fit on a football field at a depth of less than 30 feet. A facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada was built to store all our waste for thousands of years but politics and former President Obama stopped its use.

Currently over 200 nuclear power plants are in some stage of construction around the world to be added to more than 400 now in operation. Unfortunately only two are in the United States and their completion remains in doubt because of unnecessary construction requirements which make them uneconomical. Clearly natural gas is so abundant and inexpensive in the US that nuclear power can’t compete. But if we are not building some nuclear power plants we will lose our high level of technology to other countries along with well trained nuclear engineers.

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September 21, 2021 at 04:09AM

Outbreak of Seriously Calm Weather Forces Brits Back to Ever-Reliable Coal-Fired Power

To the horror of the wind cult, Britain has been forced to fire up its coal-fired power plants. As if power consumers should have no power, at all, every time calm weather sets in. How dare householders and businesses demand power when they need it? Shouldn’t it be enough that they can have power whenever mother nature sees fit? The nerve of these people!

Well, if your leaders are still talking about an ‘inevitable transition’ to an all wind and sun powered future, get used to it. The more reliable generation that is removed from the system, the more chaos enters that system. As Cap Allon alludes to, below.

UK Fires Up Coal Power Plant as European Gas Shortage Worsens
Electroverse
Cap Allon
7 September 2021

“England’s green and pleasant Land” has been disturbed by the firing-up of a dirty old coal power plant this week, as failing renewables, poor planning, and drastically reduced gas supplies are crippling the nation’s electricity needs.

As the BBC puts it: “still autumn weather has meant wind farms have not generated as much power as normal, while soaring prices have made it too costly to rely on gas.” And as a result, and denting the government’s commitment to completely phase out coal power by 2024, the UK’s National Grid asked EDF to fire-up the West Burton A power plant to cope with demand.

But what demand…? We’re in early September…? The weather is fine, and temperatures are comfortable — the implications for the upcoming winter, which is predicted to be brutal by the way (more on that below), appear dire.

The BBC lists this article under “climate change”, but the reasons they cite for the gas shortages contradict this: “Across Europe, shortages and increased demand from Asia have seen the cost of gas increase to the highest level on record … A cold start to the year meant countries across the continent dipped into their gas reserves.”

Europe and Asia’s record cold winter AND spring (SW England was suffering sub-freezing lows in May for crying out loud) is behind the recent shortages, and even the BBC in their roundabout, warm-mongering way have admitted as much.

Europe as a whole is in the same boat — the gas supply crunch is now impacting homes and businesses across the continent, with failing renewables boosting the use of fossil fuel-fired generation here, too. This in turn has driven the price of coal up more than 70% this year, and has also sent the cost of polluting in Europe to the highest-ever levels, according to bloomberg.com.

Rising gas prices are also fueling inflation and are threatening to stall economic recoveries as energy-intensive industries from fertilizer to steel may need to curb output. This is a serious concern for the health of the global economy, and it could-well prove the catalyst for the “mother of all crashes” that Michael Burry (of “Big Short” fame) sees coming.

“The problem hasn’t even started yet,” said Julien Hoarau, the head of EnergyScan, the analytics unit of French utility Engie SA.

“Europe will face a very tight winter.”

Russia isn’t exactly helping the situation, limiting flows at a time when Asia (namely China) is scooping up cargoes of liquefied natural gas that would otherwise be headed to Europe. Oh, and speaking of our Communist Party pals: China released COVID. China paid for Biden. China banned the blockchain miners. China is buying up the world’s grain, and now gas. China is owning the politically-correct West, yet our “leaders” are more concerned with pop-topics like vaccine passports, wind farms, and transgenderism than addressing the increasing volume of power flowing to the east (Russia’s gas flowing to China is a good analogy). Depressingly, the West is led by ideologically hamstrung dolts, devoid of backbones — and it will be our downfall…

A Word on Nuclear
The Nuclear Industry Association said the decision to fire up another coal power plant highlighted the urgent need to invest in new nuclear plants. This, I believe to be true. If ‘increasing CO2 emissions = global warming’ is indeed your theory, then why is nuclear being pushed to the sidelines? It’s because nuclear threatens to “fix” the non-problem — i.e., wide-scale nuclear adoption would decrease global CO2 emissions, yet, as we saw during the lockdowns, this would result in zero impact on atmospheric CO2 levels, it would correlate poorly with global temperatures, and, therefore, expose the AGW fraud for what it is: just another control method.
Electroverse

Calm weather forces Brits back to ever-reliable coal-fired power.

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September 21, 2021 at 02:31AM

Day 16: Vaccine Voices Film Festival

How many careers will take a sharp turn due to vaccine mandates? (1 minute)

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Employed by the US government, this woman says she’ll take early retirement rather than a COVID-19 vaccine.

“You’re not going to bully me into getting a vaccine. You are not going to bait me into getting a vaccine. I am not getting a vaccine.”

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Read the intro to the Vaccine Voices Film Festival here.

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September 21, 2021 at 01:12AM

Nuclear Power Shunned by Climate Alarmists: Why?

“[Nuclear power] has been pretty reliable and very safe and compared to other energy sources, all told, reasonably priced …. and good…. It’s unclear if safe and reliable nuclear energy can compete with just where solar and wind are going …. That’s the reality.” (Other Lab Chief Executive Officer Saul Griffith)

“There’s more work to be done on nuclear than on any other area for it to be a competitor.” (Daniel Kammen, California Berkeley)

It’s a strange time when Yale University, up there with Harvard University atop the academic universe, publishes a rag of amateur analysis from the likes of one Peter Sinclair. (For Sinclair vs. Kevon Martis, see here.) But the Yale School of the Environment is in the business of publishing a newsletter of quick hits with double standards galore.

The latest is Sinclair’s “What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?” With the subtitle, “Time, a steep ‘learning curve,’ and, of course, costs pose daunting challenges for those backing small modular nuclear reactors,” the fix is in for nuclear.

The article tries to be objective by offering a bit of hope for nuclear as part of the climate ‘solution.’ The bias of the article is that wind and solar, with battery backup as needed, is the solution to generate virtually all electricity to, in turn, electrify everything.

Weasel Arguments

This article refers to interviews to Yale’s This is Not Cool” video, where nuclear does not receive any of the benefit-of-the-doubt that wind and solar or EVs do.

Experts interviewed in this Yale Climate Connections “This is Not Cool” original video in some cases hold out hope. But they also confront timing, economic, and communications obstacles that could be prohibitive.

So nuclear is expensive–welcome to the climate club’s tiny free-market view (one that I hold). Nuclear has “communications obstacles”–the climate club helped make that possible. Nuclear is very late in starting–ditto for the climate club.

Here is how Sinclair spins it:

Nuclear energy, [Saul] Griffith says, “has been pretty reliable and very safe and compared to other energy sources, all told, reasonably priced …. and good.” But he backtracks some: He readily acknowledges “huge political headwinds” and concerns about availability of adequate cooling water supplies, a view expressed also by water resources expert Peter Gleick.

Water issues as a major barrier? Seems that technology can address that if it has not already. And “water resources expert Peter Gleick“–isn’t he the one that fraudulently penetrated the Heartland Institute? [1]

Griffith points to what many – among them proponents of nuclear energy – fear may be an Achilles heel: “It’s unclear if safe and reliable nuclear energy can compete with just where solar and wind are going …. That’s the reality.”

Here is the big rub. The wind/solar/battery lobby just does not like nuclear in its game. No technological optimism or interest. ANTI-ENERGY HERE

And Sinclair chooses to interview just the pessimists:

University of California Berkeley nuclear engineering professor Daniel Kammen says he’s hoping nuclear energy can fill some needs that renewables may not resolve. But he points to a stiff “learning curve.” In addition, Kammen says “There’s more work to be done on nuclear than on any other area for it to be a competitor.”

And

Less optimistic on the new nuclear technology is Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. He says small modular reactors are attracting a lot of interest in part because “big ones have failed.” He is concerned by projections that the reality of small modular nuclear reactors may be close to a decade away. Too long a wait, Makhijani says: “We must have overwhelming momentum to zero carbon energy by that time.”

These two may well be correct that the next generation(s) of technology will fall short, but if it is all a matter of cost, isn’t that what forced energy transformation is all about? Subsidizing inferior energies for their own sake or in the hope of big breakthroughs somewhere down the line.

The article ends with Bill Gate’s view that nuclear is the great (and probably last) great hope for CO2 reduction at scale.

Energy Density, Reality

James Hansen, father of the climate alarm, has warned the policy side that it is nuclear or bust for scalable alternatives to oil, gas, and coal in power generation.

Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

And:

Yes, a few scientists assert that renewables alone are sufficient, a position that gets applause. As for me, I would prefer to stick to science and tend my orchard.” (p. 15)

So why the futile crusade against fossil fuels minus nuclear power. Perhaps, just perhaps, the reason is that energy per se if the enemy when trying to deindustrialize economies, a theme I explore here.


[1] The Guardian (February 20, 2012) reported:

A leading defender of climate change admitted tricking the libertarian Heartland Institute into turning over confidential documents detailing its plans to discredit the teaching of science to school children in last week’s sensational expose.

In the latest revelation, Peter Gleick, a water scientist and president of the Pacific Institute who has been active in the climate wars, apologised on Monday for using a false name to obtain materials from Heartland, a Chicago-based think tank with a core mission of dismissing climate change.

“My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts – often anonymous, well-funded and co-ordinated – to attack climate science,” Gleick wrote in a piece for Huffington Post.

Remorse from Gleick? Hardly:

But Gleick does not appear to have experienced immediate remorse. He did not move to claim the ruse until there was already feverish online speculation about his involvement. He responded to a request by The Guardian for comment last Wednesday by saying he did not wish to comment.

Those actions may have undercut an entire career, the journalist Andrew Revkin wrote.

“Gleick’s use of deception in pursuit of his cause after years of calling out climate deception has destroyed his credibility and harmed others,” he wrote.

“The broader tragedy is that his decision to go to such extremes in his fight with Heartland has greatly set back any prospects of the country having the “rational public debate” that he wrote — correctly — is so desperately needed.”

The post Nuclear Power Shunned by Climate Alarmists: Why? appeared first on Master Resource.

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September 21, 2021 at 01:08AM