Nuclear Power

Part of the issue is that cost analysis often puts nuclear against renewables like solar, without including the costs of battery storage which would be required to actually make them equal in terms of capacity.

Megawatt hours of battery storage is extremely expensive. Not to mention that it essentially requires you to double the capacity of the renewable source itself, so that you can HARVEST enough energy to use, while simultaneously harvesting enough energy to store for later use.

550MW THERMAL. By comparison, the AP1000 generates 3400 MW thermal.

Exactly this.

Meh. Renewables are comparatively free to operate. Who cares if you need more?

I think that is…not true. I have no brief against nuclear at all, but sufficient spending on renewables and storage would work just as well.

I really dislike the hectoring “if you aren’t pro-nuclear, you’re stupid” attitude that some advocates seem to convey.

That said, I don’t think it should be off the table. We only get one Earth, and this is no time to be cute.

Yes, that’s it in a nutshell. Well said.

This is the crux of the matter. Not just cost, but time as well. Yes, it may take 10 years to get nuclear power online, but the amount of electricity it can provide is so immense as compared to other generation, you actually get more electricity over that 10 year time frame that other renewables.

Oh, I support renewables for sure. I just haven’t seen any renewable-only setup that can match nuclear (or fossil) for sheer power output and capability in all scenarios. But that could change of course. I think we should be heavy into renewables as well.

Hawaii, as the most geographically isolated place on the planet, blessed with every form of renewable energy and cursed with having to import all fossil fuel and some of the most expensive electricity on the planet $.35/KWH, roughly 3x the price on the mainland, the focus has been getting off fossil fuels for many years. I’ve been either observer and recently an active participant in making this happen for many years. Here are some of my observations about Nuclear and renewable.

Much of the discussion of renewable is mostly happy talk. The chart that @Tman posted is closer to reality than "the renewable in XYZ countries exceeded fossil fuel electricity for a day. The number I’m far more interested in is what is the worst day for renewable, cause that’s a lot closer to base load power.

A particularly disingenuous practice is to talk about peak capacity. This new solar project can generate XY Megawatts enough to power N thousand homes. By definition, solar is the best case going to get 50% of peak capacity and usual efficiency is the 30% range, and Wind isn’t much better.
Yes, we have seen a nice growth of renewable energy in the last 4 or 5 years (possibly even accelerating growth rate), but the starting point was so small it doesn’t really matter that much.

Politicians setting ambitious goals, e.g. 100% renewable by 2040 or 2050, is for all practical purposes useless. In 2004, Hawaii’s only Republican governor (I worked on her campaign and the policy) set a goal of 70% renewable by 2030. A decade later, one of her predecessors up the ante to 100% renewable by 2045. The reality is we aren’t close to the 70% goal. (27% as of last year and the percentage of renewables has crept up steadily at 1-2%/year)

Sadly, I think that Nuclear energy is also in the happy talk category. Seeing the NIMBY reaction to mostly beign source of energy like Windmills in Hawaii and the mainland. I’m hard pressed to see how something as controversial as nuclear power plants gets built in the US, German or much of europe. I agree that money should not be a big factor, but the reality is that it does matter. Nuclear energy is very expensive due to cost over runs etc.

That said, I do think their is hope for nuclear in some places. I see it being popular in China, since it replace badly polluting coal planets, and they don’t have the amount of natural gas we do. France also given there history, maybe in Northern Europe with lower population density. They can stick a nuclear plant in some isolated spot in Sweden. Maybe even India.

Maybe lithium batteries will be transformative. NY just gave regulatory approval for 300 MW of batteries sitting across the East River from Manhattan. Sustaining that output for something like 8 hours too from what I was reading, which a big pile of batteries. Hard to imagine.

Storage makes intermittent sources like solar more viable… or I suppose lets you build a smaller reactor if you prefer :)

HVDC interconnectors are also helpful, when your sunshine or your nukes etc are an awkwardly long way away. I think Africa will be connected to Europe now, going from Egypt via Cyprus and Crete to Greece with a new interconnector. Which is a heck of a route and not much capacity, but still.

Yeah, it’s something like 2500 MW/H, which is a lot. I’m curious as to what kind of environmental issues potentially arise from that amount of lithium ion batteries, if any. I’m also curious as to the lifetime of those batteries.

Normal lithium ion batteries can fail and go into a thermal runaway state, exploding and catching fire… Which isn’t a particularly nice fire to put out if its big. It would also run the risk of destroying the entire battery bank if they’re all in one big place.

I wonder if the danger imposed by a giant lithium battery storage facility is larger than that of a nuclear plant.

Comparing worst cases… pretty sure that would be no :)

But still, if the disadvantages of lithium and other battery materials, whether economic or environmental, are being overcome now we’ll presumably see a big pile of them in every city. It does seem odd that they’re suddenly practical… but they must be to some extent.

I’m not sure you’re right here.

Yeah, I’d be interested in knowing how it’s being funded and the economics behind it. It’s not the only one, either, there are a number of these big battery storage facilities popping up.

I disagree completely.

  1. There are safety concerns and they get magnified with every incident.

  2. Nuclear waste is a serious problem

  3. Cost overruns due to the safety needs

  4. Getting more energy out than you put in.

“Serious”. Let me know when Nuclear waste is about to end most of the life on Earth.


Again, apparently your position is: “Climate change is a problem, but not a serious one requiring any real effort, time is on our side we can just wait for an easy fix.”

So 2500 MW, so that one hour and 15 minutes of worth of the power that Indian Head Nuclear power plant generates, or enough to keep the lights on in NYC of just about 10 minutes.

Nobody is really taking renewables seriously. A solar/wind power station that would really make a dent in the UK’s power demands would cover an area the size of Wales. Nobody has done that, but it needs doing if we want to take renewables seriously.

High voltage cables from north Africa to Europe could open up the door to building country-sized solar farms there and piping the energy to Europe with little loss. Again, it’s not being done on anywhere near the scale that you need to compare with fossil fuel or nuclear power plants.

And still none of this addresses the baseline load issues.

If you want to dig into the numbers, I’d highly recommend the late David MacKay’s book.

Arguing that the world should build renewables in Africa to power Europe is at best NIMBYism, at worst a revival of colonialism.

Yeah, the batteries aren’t meant to be an actual source of power. They are just intended to provide some conversate for Spike usage spikes, replacing the Mahal gas plant that currently serves that requirement.

It’s not that they don’t want to build solar in Europe, it’s that you get a lot more sun exposure near the equator.

Although i would agree that statements like this:

Is pretty messed up… I mean, there are already countries there, dude.

Do you happen to know how “country-sized solar farms in Africa” would affect the Earth’s albedo? I assume you don’t want to bulldoze the Congo or wipe out the Serengeti, which means putting them in the desert—which is a highly reflective zone that allows a substantial amount of energy to escape back into space. Are you sure the greenhouse gas benefits of your solar panels wouldn’t be outweighed by their massive heat absorption?