Coal To Nuclear Transition To Decarbonize The Grid

Overhead satellite view of a coal-fired power plant next to a heat map showing the suitability of terrain in the region for siting a nuclear power plant

We love big projects here at Hackaday, and one of the biggest underway is the decarbonization of the electric grid. The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently published a report (PDF) on how placing nuclear reactors on coal plant sites in the US could help us get closer to the zero carbon grid of our dreams.

After evaluating both operating and recently retired coal-fired plants in the US, the researchers determined that around 80% of medium and large coal plants would be good candidates for coal to nuclear (C2N). Up to 263 GWe could be installed at over 315 different sites around the country which would be more than the 145 GWe expected to go offline as the remaining coal plants in the country shut down. Siting nuclear reactors at these existing sites could reduce installation costs 15-35% while also providing jobs for workers in the area who might otherwise be displaced when the coal plants shut down. Local greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) could drop up to 86% along with a significant drop in other air pollutants which would be another win for the fenceline communities living and working around these coal plants.

Nuclear power is certainly not without its drawbacks, but new reactor designs like TerraPower’s Natrium promise lower costs than current light water reactor designs while also being able to reuse the spent fuel from our current nuclear fleet. TerraPower is developing the first C2N project in the US at the Naughton Power Plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

We’ve recently covered Cogeneration and District Heating which would get a boost from more nuclear power, but, if that’s too grounded for you, might we suggest Space-Based Solar Power?

170 thoughts on “Coal To Nuclear Transition To Decarbonize The Grid

      1. “Baseload” is an outdated term… There are Countries in Europe going 100% solar/wind in Europe at times. You cant make a nuclear power plant go to 0 just like that. Thats only possible with CCGTs or – to seemingly the surprise of everyone – storage. And yes there are already plenty more storage options running out there that are neither a powerwall nor water.

        1. “Easy” solution is to adapt demand to supply, a task made much easier when there’s a “guaranteed” supply for essentials. Let economics decide whether it gets done by (re)scheduling loads or building storage. I think it would lead to a huge increase in thermal storage, which is easy to build individual units per site but difficult to build centralized.

          1. “adapt demand to supply” is simply shifting the cost of adaptation from the producers to the consumers – while doing nothing to the overall greater cost of running such an unreliable system.

            You get a situation where the rich have power while the poor don’t, and if you try to solve that problem by politics, you end up with energy rationing where a central authority gets to dictate who has power and who doesn’t.

        2. “There are Countries in Europe going 100% solar/wind in Europe at times”

          That’s “thanks” to the European energy market whereby e.g. Denmark can run fully on renewables at times, whilst at others it needs to import from Sweden & Germany to provide a stable grid. Cut those cables and see what happens…

          The current problem with renewables is their stability – a massive turbine at a traditional power station has rather a lot of inertia which helps to smooth out fluctations in supply & demand. Renewables lack this, and without substantial storage for smoothing out then they can only provide support to the ‘outdated’ baseload.

          Come back when you can say the whole of Europe can run on fully renewable at times, without brownouts.

          1. Why would you cut those cables? It proves exactly the opposite: with a good grid, you can vastly reduce the need for storage. BTW, Europe has way less brown-outs than US.

          2. You wouldn’t cut the cables obviously, it’s simply to point out that whilst some countries can run on only renewables for some of the time, no country can run only (and independently) on renewables for all of the time. Thus trumpeting the ability of a single country to be able to run only on renewables is only telling half the story.

          3. >Why would you cut those cables?

            Because it causes massive price fluctuations and technical problems. For example, Switzerland had to install phase-shifting transformers at the border to Germany to stop power fluctuations going through their grid towards Italy. Are the Swiss supposed to pay the infrastructure so Germany can dump their excess to other markets?

        3. So you are using the fact that nuclear as the only source would need perhaps 20% storage capacity as an argument for solar/wind???

          Let me tell you a little bit about Denmark:
          It can currently produce 300% of its capacity from wind, strictly due to the geographical location which a very small part of the global population could benefit from. However, Denmark can still have periods of weeks in which the wind turbines produce 0 (ZERO!) energy.

          Imagine how expensive (or green for that matter) your grid will be when you need 100% backup capacity. Import from other countries? Yes, from coal plants – or even more hilarious, from Norwegian hydro plants. When the turbines produce excess energy, it is sold to Norway for next to nothing, then used to pump full the hydro reservoirs from which the power can be sold back to Denmark at an X5 premium!

          Let me also tell you about where I grew up – in beautiful green rolling hills with in-lakes and dunes, created by ice age glaciers, many of the landscapes protected areas. Well, protected from private exploitation but apparently not from the state setting up massive wind turbines literally everywhere. Today you can drive around for hours in these once beautiful landscapes, without being able to look in any direction at any point, that isn’t obstructed by massive roaring turbines flashing constantly in the sunlight.

          Everything scenic is completely destroyed by these grossly ineffective monsters, and despite the 300% they still want more and bigger turbines. Pretty soon every ocean view will be obstructed as well, because not a single politician knows the first thing about technology beyond an iPhone and the wind industry is now so powerful that it can lobby the fools into anything they want by saying “green”.

          1. >Everything scenic is completely destroyed

            Not really they change the scene, just as human activity has done rather substantially since agriculture, all those quaint little fields with windmills of the grain grinding past, the moved water courses to power water wheels, the roads, its pretty much all artificial, and in 50 years when the artsy folk have spent long enough capturing the picturesque side of a landscape with wind turbines they will feel as much part of the scene as all the other human interventions in the landscape. Its only because its a sudden change it really seems wrong, as its jarring strongly with your rose tinted memory and expectations of the past (mine too, though not it seems to such a great extent).

            >these grossly ineffective monsters, and despite the 300% they still want more and bigger turbines.

            Rather unfair, wind turbines are pretty efficient, and get more so when made bigger, so bigger ones make sense.

            >because not a single politician knows the first thing about technology

            While I do love politician bashing, as they do so often have it coming in this case it does make sense. You have such good environment for energy generation passing on it would be rather foolish – the grid of Europe is connected and there are lots of nations that have energy demands they can’t meet. Its a practically free to exploit and virtually limitless source of income. That 5x premium you pay on the rare occasions supply is down will pale into insignificance against the price you get paid for your exports, some of which while the rest of Europe is very under suppllied may be at an even higher premium!

            Not that I have anything against nuclear, the topic of the article, which seems like a rare bit of joined up good sense thinking as most coal power plants are situated in perfectly good locations for nuclear, all that money that can be saved not having to build new supporting infrastructure.

          2. >premium you pay on the rare occasions

            There is a common misconception that wind power is “on” for most of the time and only rarely goes off. The truth is the opposite: wind power is “peaky” – the nameplate power is obtained at very high wind speeds, while the wind speed probability distribution favors lower winds where the turbines are basically “off”. Turbines that are optimized for maximum energy output do not even turn below 5-6 m/s which happens to be the average wind speed for Denmark.

            In a small country such as Denmark, the area of distribution is too small and all the turbines essentially operate as one big turbine, which is closer to being off for the majority of the time and then occasionally produces a massive burst of energy that exceeds the country’s demand.

            This dynamic causes a situation where the export price of the power is low because it comes in such excess, and the import prices are consistently high because there’s no other option but to pay. They’re losing money, but the wind industry wins subsidies for all the power they push regardless.

          3. As for what counts as “too small” an area for wind turbine distribution, note that wind speeds between different areas correlate because weather patterns are huge. It takes about 1,000 km before you stop seeing a correlation between local wind speeds, so the idea of “it’s always windy somewhere” requires that you place the other turbines all the way from Denmark to Slovakia or Estonia and suffer the transmission losses, and pay the power transit prices for all the countries in between. That still doesn’t ensure that they will have power when you don’t – that is still up to random chance.

          4. The area of distribution problem btw. is why the DESERTEC plan extends to cover all of Europe and North Africa, and parts of the Middle East – it’s needs to be that big. The EU grid cannot work on renewables alone, hydroelectric power included, so the plan has to implement a form of neo-colonialism on other regions to secure power supply.

            The long distance distribution problem also remains unsolved, because the grid as it is works more like a bucket chain. If some country in between doesn’t have adequate transmission capacity or the demand to absorb the power, no more power goes through. Germany is one big problem in this mess because of the failure to build the north-south power corridor they’ve been planning for ages.

          5. You are there assuming dude that every turbine they put up is optimized for windspeeds greater than they commonly get to the point it never works, which is stupid and not at all the case. Yes they won’t hit their peak all the time, but a properly sited and sized turbine spins along quite merrily in lighter winds producing some fraction of that peak, and when you have reported 300% oversupply at peak (which is still not the maximum potential if every turbine was maxed out – that seems to be the real world actually produced excess, where some fraction will be down for maintenance or in lower winds than optimal for certain, so they sticker plate oversupply is likely more 600%) that means a reasonably pessimistic viewpoint is still saying something in the ball park of 100% of requirement nearly all the time!

            Along with also being the reason they are building bigger ones – as they do work in a vastly wider windspeed very well.

            All while failing to account for the fact that being tied into the rest of Europe, so even if there is no wind at all locally there is bound to be a massive excess somewhere – from the UK perhaps, as another nation that is really pushing for renewable energy ahead of the general curve.

            So somewhere in this big grid it is quite likely to have a boom while you personally are in bust keeping the energy pretty cheap. And even if that doesn’t work out you WILL have the same the other way around and get paid a premium as the only supplier with exportable goodness sometimes as well. Just because you often can only sell cheap…

          6. Also its not up to random chance at all – weather patterns are the cause but they have limited scope. So you can call it random chance if you get one over your personal head if you like, but that is far from over everyone.

            If you have a big lull in windspeeds stuck over you its a certainty that is not the case outside of that lull, yes weather patterns can be covering very big areas, though they often are more small cell than that. But it is just not the case that because you don’t have enough wind power your neighbors also don’t at a national scale. Even with the tiny land area of most European nations – heck inside a single nation of Europe’s borders you can easily have storm level winds and complete calm at the same time!

            And transmission losses do matter, but it only gets particularly bad in the case when a truly giant weather system is hovering right overhead in mid-winter so solar output is limited. Which is going to be a stupendously rare occurrence – nearly all the time you should be able to source from pretty damn local, so transmission losses won’t be substantial.

            p.s as it stands despite the rather frantic rush to fit more renewables of late its a certainty there is a least a few peaker power plants that can be ramped up at need very nearby anyway – so for the moment transmission losses are of no extra importance as you/your neigbours can sell you nearly instant on energy from the doorstep.

          1. Sure, it’s Germany having the problems not France cause over half their nuclear power is unusable. Clown.

            You probably also have no idea how the merit order at the EEX is done and why this causes nuclear power fuck ups to increase German (and Spanish and…) electricity prices. If our nuclear and coal would have been be lowered over a decade ago (like in Spain and Germany) and other EU nations had properly invested in renewables (looking at you Italy, EUs biggest net importer of electricity where right behind you will find right wing nations like Austria and Hungary) we wouldn’t need to burn all this gas right now just to help out France (and subsequently the rest of the EU) from getting blackouts.

      1. Not really, renewables can be a full solution in a few ways if you care to put the effort in. Nuclear is just a largely drop in replacement for the existing power plants – an easier route to a fossil fuel free future. One I do think we should use personally, but we don’t HAVE to throw enough resources at creating a full renewable grid and we could have it.

        1. Please describe how that is possible?
          You need a massive amounts of storage capacity. Which technology are you going to use that is even remotely as environmentally friendly as nuclear?
          How are you going to power the huge populations that live in monsoon regions? Do you want to create enough storage to run their grid through the entire bad weather season and then pack up the renewable gear and reinstall it each year?
          How are you going to power all the people who live inland without wind and in not very sunny regions? (I can suggest to download WindFinder so you can see how vast areas have no wind to speak of).
          Forget about just “transferring” the power. The loss is way too big over long distances. Even in my tiny country the turbines often stand still because it is too expensive to transfer the power from the west coast wind to the east coast cities. (Few hundred km).
          In addition the raw material usage of renewables per GWh output is in the range of X100 times larger than nuclear. How are you going to compensate?
          And finally, how are you going to discard the massive amounts of fiber glass needed for wind turbines in an environmentally friendly way?
          We have built and advanced renewables for several decades and the total out still amounts to nothing on a global scale, and not nearly to a level that reveals all the grid and storage problems a high percentage coverage will bring, not to speak of the cost.

          1. You don’t need any storage at all if you really don’t want it – just fit a far greater overkill of renewables to the supply so the minimum possible output from them all is still greater than the bare minimum of need and price energy according to available supply over shorter timeframes.

            Helps if you also don’t put all your eggs in the same basket, between solar, wind, wave, tide, hydro, biogas (and whichever other ones I’ve managed to miss) if you really go crazy building ’em all in vast quantities in the best locations you have running out of all them at once…

            Or you take a more sane approach and mix in some storage grid and local – and the easy way to do local is let the users decide if their loads are important/expensive enough to them to be always on – if so here is a UPS you can buy/pay us to fit that keeps your running costs down. Which along with price following supply more closely moderates demand and means less overkill is needed in the supply and less energy store total is required as well.

            NB I am not saying this is the method that SHOULD be done – just that it COULD be. Nuclear isn’t REQUIRED. Its just convenient, quicker/cheaper and effective as an option – and one I am very much in favour of.

            p.s. With the lifespan potential of a fibreglass blade the waste isn’t all that ridiculous. If you can persuade the energy companies to stop making existing windfarms ever taller and larger so discarding good for ages yet blades just because they are the older smaller model… And while the blades are huge so far they amount to bugger all in the global historical production of the stuff – lots of its out there, dealing with it isn’t a new problem its just changing the location and scale of the problem going forward.

      1. If Quaise Energy can get their microwave drilling rig (“turns rock to ash”) out of the lab and deliver half of what they pitch, it could be a game changer. Geothermal would be possible in places where the heat has been historically too far from the surface to reach with conventional drilling techniques.

        They talk the same talk about refitting existing power plants with a new heat source.

        I only know what I heard the CEO/founder say on a podcast, but it was an interesting bit of (currently) pie in the sky:

        1. If such is technically possible, it would be like recreating an Iceland (almost) anywhere on the globe. Nuclear energy is the future, but we must seriously invest in fusion. This is the logical and necessary step. Multiplying and spreading fission reactors around the world, even if they have innovative technology (but algo lack of knowledge about their real application), will lead to an expensive maintenance nightmare. Even so, plant accidents and problems with waste management will occur, but in greater numbers than present. When in 1890 there were few coal-fired power stations nobody saw the big problems, they only arose when their number grew. Maybe we risk facing an identical scenario.

    1. Why do you even need renewables if it can completely replace it and genera a lot more energy including in the long run?

      It generates in the dark, without wind, without waves, not to mention it generates humongous amounts of power without the need of one in every roof or hill top.

      I don’t buy the “expensive” argument. How much is it going to cost to maintain renewables in the long run? How about how much it will cost to recycle (with very low emissions) all those discarded solar panels.

      I’ll take nuclear over any other energy generation method, with the exception of hydro, any day, no questions asked.

    2. To me the true litmus test if someone truly believes in climate change is if they support nuclear power.

      The biggest problem with climate change is it was op-opted by the social justice crowds. If we are truly all going to die, then maybe light up on the income redistribution thing?

      That said, given I personally have a small grid-tied PV system I installed myself (1200 watts) and have a contractor visiting on 9.29 for a quote for a rooftop system, I’m more of the “all of the above” (except coal) sort of person, and infact have put some money where my mouth is.

      Photo of my initial setup…

    3. Competes against renewable how? We’ve spent decades building more and we still don’t build enough to cover even the annual load increase. What are you going to use for backup? Or do you plan on a 80 to 90% storage system? Talk about EXPENSIVE!

  1. The Nucular Power Industry has an empirically derived, well proven, non-zero probability for causing wide-ranging, effectively permanent environmental devastation. With time, any risk approaches…certainty! Amassing the potential for extreme harm is foolish, especially due to such factors as war and natural disasters. Costs to run the fissile fuel cycle, end to end, stagger.

    1. Well, we had a disaster caused by idiots monkeying with badly designed soviet nuclear reactor, one caused by forces of nature damaging emergency power supply for nuclear power plant, and few smaller accidents caused either by bad design or by poor maintenance in early days of nuclear power development. New reactor designs are much safer than that. Coal mining and burning had much bigger impact on the environment.

          1. clearly some very well hidden fact by the wind turbine and bird killing ‘alternative energy mafiaa’ it seems. windmills do apparently not only kill birds but also poor wookers now.
            back to factual matters might say: yes. coal killed lots of people, true. nuclear did its best to compete, but since nuclear waste will be here long after we stop using coal it might get a good chance at overtaking all fossil fuels, just wait long enough.

            now to some good news: start using less, that ist the best way to reduce our footprint! just build better, travel less make better use of what we get for free.

            PS: got to love the ‘Welcome to Starfleet Academy!’

          2. We can’t use less energy. Most of it goes to manufacturing and transporting goods. Everyone wants their fancy smartphones, gaming consoles, new TVs, new PCs, new cars and other junk. Even food production, a basic thing, requires tremendous amounts of resources, including various chemicals derived from or produced by burning fossil fuels. And we can be as eco-friendly as possible, it won’t change the simple fact that poor countries will be burning coal, and anything else that can be burned.

            Also all those Greenpeace whiners yelling “Save the planet!” are lying hypocrites. It’s not the planet they want to save. Planet will be fine. It will recover once humanity goes extinct.

          3. There’s a lot more to it than that. It’s statistically obvious that abundance of energy creates wealth, provides better health, better education which in turn provides financial and political stability which again brings safety and well-being allowing for advancement in social understanding and general prosperity of humanity in general. To this day ONLY nuclear can provide it in a clean and safe manner.

        1. Molten salt reactor with hole at the bottom, which is plugged by freezing core material with cooling sleeve. Any cooling system malfunction would cause this plug to thaw, and core leak to storage container that would halt nuclear reaction and using geometry separate the whole core mass into smaller, safe chunks.

          According to WHO, approximately 1.3 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. No one says that cars are dangerous and should be banned. Why? Because cars are useful and necessary. Nuclear reactors are useful and necessary, too.

      1. Someone once ran the numbers, and found that if we had a Chernobyl-style nuclear meltdown once every six months, we would *still* be putting less radiation in the air, than we do by burning coal at the rate we currently do — because the ash from coal has radioactive elements that are there naturally from where it had been deposited.

    2. >With time, any risk approaches…certainty!

      Therefore, we may estimate that the risk of wind turbines becoming a massive environmental problem is exactly 1. Same goes for hydroelectric power, solar power, wave power… ANY risk approaches certainty with time. Therefore, renewable energy must be banned.

      Since risks simply cannot be avoided, and generating power cannot be avoided, we must compare which technology kills the least people. As it turns out, all the renewable power generators are more deadly per unit of energy produced because nuclear power makes so much more energy with fewer units that even a large accident causes comparatively little harm. Meanwhile, people fall off roofs or electrocute themselves all the time installing solar panels.

      So, if we replace nuclear power with wind turbines and solar panels, more people will die – which means the obvious conclusion is that renewable energy must be banned instead.

      >effectively permanent environmental devastation.

      Radioactive isotopes have a half-life. Even Chernobyl’s fallout will be gone in about 200-300 years, while toxic chemicals left over from burning coal and digging up minerals etc. are literally forever. Mercury, arsenic, etc. do not go away. There’s also the irony that digging up rare earth metals for renewable generators also turns up nuclear waste in the mine tailings.

      1. There are big differences between who is effected with a failure of Hydro, Nuclear etc and wind, solar type stuff. Pretty much the only people at any risk with wind and solar are the folks installing it. Who are getting paid well to do it – much the same gig as the oil rig workers, just rather safer and with much quicker access to a hospital if things do go wrong. When Hydro or Nuclear does go properly wrong potentially millions of people are harmed, and they were not knowingly taking that risk or getting paid for it..

        Not against Nuclear or Hydro though – treat them properly, use the right design and build it right and they are about as safe as its possible to be.

        I’d also argue if you are going to say with time all sources are a massive problem you are rather changing the narrative, as the degree of issue they can cause is varied – stack dead/old solar panels in a giant pile, and environmental impact wise they are pretty much entirely inert rocks – far better than landfill sites, and maybe one day will actually get recycled, while the cost to make them is mostly common materials and energy so making every more of them isn’t a massive environmental cost either. That is about as bad a result as you can get for solar, its rather a non-problem problem compared to dealing with something like Chernobyl (though yes a modern nuke doing anything like that would be almost impossible, and for the flora and fauna that can take the radiation we can’t it can be argued to be a good thing).

        1. You are only forgetting that wind and solar are incredibly ineffective compared to nuclear. Yes, wind is considered the safest source, but that is with nuclear in a close 2nd – INCLUDING past major accidents from technology nobody would consider using today. No, the people at risk from solar are the one subject to all the nasty pollution the production creates as well as the private owners who fall down from their roofs cleaning them. Compare this to Nucan which is the already outdated technology powering a significant percentage of the Canadian grid: Never a single fatality.
          The part that is not considered with wind is the people forced to live close to the noisy monsters flashing in the sun three times with each rotation. Tough to measure but it’s big impact on the lives of many, again with such inefficient source, which by the way is useless to most people on the planet because they live inland or in monsoon regions.

          1. Not forgetting at all, as I said nothing against Nuclear.

            The creation of Solar need not be in any way more dangerous than existing – like the creation of just about everything mankind has ever made the shop floor needs to have the right people and tools working the correct way, that is all. IFF you go and outsource to the life is cheap, labour near free nations making anything can be bad for the locals health then yes there is problem, but one that is rather universal, nothing to do with the specific item being created.

            No tech Nuclear included is good for deployment at any scale in any location, so being ‘useless to most’ is rather a pointless metric – they are all that useless to most! As its always square peg in round hole trying to dump the exact setup that works at x to place y.

            Also if morons with no safety gear insist on throwing themselves of the area around their roof they would get the opportunity to do so potentially many many times a year even with no solar, cleaning the gutters, replacing that tile the wind blew off, adjusting their CCTV, removing the cobwebs, painting – folks that wish to earn a Darwin award with unsafe working practices will find plenty of opportunities…

            Can’t say i like wind turbines acoustically, but its far preferable to traffic noise from a busy road, airport or railway, and folks live near those all the time – you get used to it.

        2. >There are big differences between who is effected with a failure of Hydro, Nuclear etc and wind, solar type stuff.

          Nope. ANY risk is a certainty. Everyone will die.

          The point is the impossible standards against nuclear power.

          1. But almost nobody is at any risk from solar/wind where a vast number of folks are for others like Hydro and Nuclear – I agree too many folks are vehemently anti-nuclear with no justifications that stand scrutiny, but there is a chance so small it can not be expressed even in a few bytes will all the leading zeros that wind will harm/kill any individual not tasked with working on ’em no matter how spectacularly they fail. Which is not the case for some of the other options, where even a more minor failure could harm a great many somebodies over the visual horizon even!

            Everyone dies, but basically nobody not directly involved can die to to many things, its a terrible comparison.

          2. Wrong. You just conveniently remove the pollution from solar panel production and the huge problem discarding the massive amounts fiber glass wings, (which don’t last very long) not to speak of mental destruction from constant strobe flashing from the sun’s reflection to anyone who lives in the vecinity.
            Modern nuclear creates nothing like that and has no impact the population. Believe it or not. Technology moved since 1970’s communist version.

          3. >You just conveniently remove the pollution from solar panel production and the huge problem discarding the massive amounts fiber glass wings,

            Not at all, but solar can be made cleanly – that is just down to the how cheaply its made – same as any anything gets made in sweatshop nation – expect the health of their labour to be a low priority. Its not a flaw of Solar its a flaw in how some solar is made, same as everything else. And the blades can last a very very long time, nearly all the ‘waste’ blades currently in existence are because a turbine that was 10M is now 50M as its so much easier to make an existing site taller and more powerful than it is to get permission for a new one and the waste is of no threat to anybody dealt with properly, and dealt with improperly isn’t any different to the horde of car bodies and boats made of the stuff that don’t…

            > mental destruction from constant strobe flashing from the sun’s reflection to anyone who lives in the vecinity.

            That sort of continually less than ideal environment you do get used to, and perhaps adapt your practices to make it work – like putting a frosted finish on the windows most prone to harsh glare – as I’ve had to do here because every car that goes by and the windows of the buildings opposite through the day were always creating really nasty flashes. My uncle lives next to a railway, bothers the buggery out of me every time we visit but he doesn’t even notice it anymore. Loads of folk live in the flight paths of major airports etc.

            >Modern nuclear creates nothing like that and has no impact the population.
            Neither did the old and inherently less safe weapons grade breeding nuclear plants, if they were kept working properly…

            And I have said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AGAINST NUCLEAR! Infact I already pointed out getting a serious disaster out of a modern nuke is nearly impossible. But that is the key word there NEARLY, by malice or incompetent mishandling even the safest nuclear reactor and its spent fuel can bugger up huge areas – technology has moved on but nothing has yet magically removed all the super active fast decaying products that are so lethal from ever possibly being spread etc. Inherently there is a greater danger to a wide area, improbable to occur as it is. One little screw up letting lose those extra lethal decay products into the wind its carrying death a long way. If the Hydro dam fails, even only to a minor degree its the same damn thing – nearly impossible to happen if you are not incompetent in construction or operations but if it does it will bugger up a wide area downriver. Both technologies I really rate as being a good thing in the right places, but there is no getting away from the orders of magnitude greater risks to the unsuspecting surrounding population IFF something goes wrong, which don’t exist with wind/solar were the risks to those not working on them is so low it approaches zero…

      1. I like the plan. The demand for electricity isn’t going down so the coal plants do need to be replaced. I’m surprised that so many sites can be converted though, nuclear has more limitations on where you can place it due to cooling and fault lines and such.

    3. “well proven, non-zero probability for causing wide-ranging, effectively permanent environmental devastation.”

      Most ecological assessments of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone show a *significant benefit* by this point. It got rid of the humans.

    4. Yeah, let’s burn more time trying to figure out a way around it instead.

      On the one hand we have: lots of power generation that can take a huge chunk out of emissions everywhere
      On the other hand we have: CRAP!!! it’s too late, there is no going back now, we’re going to go extinct, we should have taken nuclear, at least as a stepping stone to something better, when we had the chance.

      I’ll take the nuclear option every time.

    5. Truly ignorant argument! Even when you count Tjernobyl nuclear is still the safest form of energy per MWh produced except for wind. Yes, safer than wind, look up the statistics yourself. More people fall down from their roof installing and cleaning ultra ineffecient solar panels than nuclear ever killed, not to speak of the environmental damage from producing the cells.
      But gen 4 and 5 nuclear cannot overheat, it’s physically impossible and even if you had an accident it could never cause a disaster. The waste produced is short-lived isotopes we desperately need for radiation therapy while everything else is reused as fuel.
      But exactly because of ignorant arguments like yours we have shut down nuclear all over the world and replaced them primarily with coal, spewing out endlessly more radiation directly into the environment not to speak of the CO2.
      Stop arguing with uneducated 1970s arguments. The world has moved on and so should you and everyone else. Nuclear is currently the ONLY solution we have that can potentially divert a real disaster.

    6. I’m sure you have comprehensive comparative data for the risk of nuclear accidents and the risk of total climate collapse if we don’t replace fossil fuels *now*.

      We need a replacement for fossil fuels ten years ago. We MUST do something NOW. There is no argument against that fact.

      Nuclear energy is the technology we have right now that can wholly replace most if not all fossil fuel plants, which MUST happen if we are to survive as a species. Cost is irrelevant. Risk is irrelevant. We MUST do SOMETHING, and it has to happen right now. The risk of ecological collapse due to climate change is nothing short of existential.

      If a million people die to nuclear accidents, ten million, a hundred, it’s still absolutely inconsequential to the billions that will die if we continue polluting.

      Besides all of the above, we can build out nuclear right now to provide the base energy our society needs. In a few years or decades when we have better and “”safer”” renewables, the nuclear plants can be shut down.

      Waste isn’t even a relevant argument. We have methods of reprocessing waste, and there might be future processes that can deal with what we can’t now. Even if none of that happens, the problem becomes irrelevant if most humans are dead from a climate catastrophe.

      There simply is no valid argument against nuclear energy as a stopgap between fossil fuels and whatever comes next. Arguing against that is arguing for total ecological collapse due to climate change. Most of the population will die. Billions of lives. The only way nuclear power can compete with that death toll is if every reactor on the planet simultaneously went into uncontrolled meltdown at maximum power. I’ll let you figure the odds on that scenario

      1. THANK YOU!
        Even including Tjernobyl one of the safest sources and has easily become 10.000 times safer since!
        And still people argue without real world data and straight from ancient propaganda….

  2. This whole article sounds like an advertisement for that company mentioned in the last section.

    Nuclear is dangerous and can’t always be reliably controlled in a conflicted environment. We need to go directly renewable.

    1. Coal releases more radiation into the atmosphere than nuclear. Conflicted environments are dangerous in general, and nuclear accidents are by no means a game-over for humanity. Life goes on. Nuclear for grid power, renewables for off-grid. Easy peasy.

    2. We would go directly to renewable IF we had the capability of storing that energy. Since we do not, nuclear is a good stopgap measure until energy storage systems are ready in 30 or 40 years.

    3. Yeah, let’s burn more time trying to figure out a way around it instead.

      On the one hand we have: lots of power generation that can take a huge chunk out of emissions everywhere
      On the other hand we have: CRAP!!! it’s too late, there is no going back now, we’re going to go extinct, we should have taken nuclear, at least as a stepping stone to something better, when we had the chance.

      I’ll take the nuclear option every time.

    4. Correction:
      1) Five decades old nuclear was almost as dangerous as solar energy.
      2) We have built renewables for just as long, but still need 100% backup capacity (never contained in the price) and the the total output still doesn’t amount to anything useful on a global scale.

      1. 3) When people are counting how much renewables are actually on the grid, they never forget to add in all the hydroelectric plants, biofuels, forest residue burning, that actually produce way more than half of the total amount. This helps to hide the fact that over 20 years of massive investments and construction, new renewable power hasn’t really amounted to anything.

    1. I was actually brought up in a large 2 story mud built house in S.W. UK. It was cool in Summer and cold in the Winter only due to my family having no cash to burn electricity. As for eating bugs, I think it would be ok with plenty of Heinz tomato ketchup. The only real requirement for electricity was for running a few light bulbs and, most importantly, the big black and white TV. Seriously thinking of permanently disconnecting from the UK electricity grid due to ever increasing standing charges. December and January would be electricity droughts due to almost zero sunlight, but probably perfectly manageable. A small wind turbine and a half decent battery might be useful in those months.

        1. Yes, it is of course possible that my consumption of Heinz products will negatively offset all my endeavours to be carbon neutral and may well otherwise be the last tusk for the mythical pygmy narwahl. The solution would be to grow all my own tomatoes, herbs and spicies needed for the sauce …. in a poly-tunnel. When this mission is complete, I will give post the recipe on Github.

          1. The hard bit if you insist you want a “Heinz Ketchup” substitute is the vast quantities of sugar you would need to add… Tomato grow really quite well in the UK outdoors, especially in the south and don’t need much land area just a stick to climb up… And most herbie and leafy greens also grow rather well if not outside than on a windowsill, and the ones that are entirely for flavour also don’t take up much space as you don’t need many of them – who needs a greenhouse!

  3. Poland tried to build a nuclear power plant for the past 40 years. Currently a state-owned corporation spends millions a year, over last 5 years (IIRC), and they don’t know yet, who would design and construct the reactor. At the same time there was this big investment to build another coal-burning block in the biggest power plant in Poland – they spent quite a bit to make it, and a bit more to disassemble it.

    At the same time it’s actually illegal in Poland to build a wind turbine bigger than 100kWh. And construction of smaller ones can be blocked by “friendly” neighbors. At the moment electricity prices for households are frozen, while municipalities and institutions got a 400-900% raise in bills. Coal prices are 4 times higher than last year, and even then it was so expensive, that poor people burned trash and chipboard wall units, and not only in country, but in centers of such cities, like Krakow or Warsaw.

      1. I am from Poland. Owning a metal detector is legal, I owned one. You can even use it. But anything historical you find must be given to the museum. So no digging for old coins, anything from all the wars that happened on polish land, etc. and keeping, what you find.

  4. The potential danger of nuclear power plants is one thing. What the supporters of nuclear power never consider is nuclear waste. Who takes care of it? Where will it be placed? (Emitting harmful radiation for thousands of years.) And who will pay for that? I’ve not seen any of the owners of nuclear power plants paying for that. If you take the costs of the nuclear waste into account electricity from a nuclear power plant will not be cheap anymore.

    1. Fast Breeder reactors – Its not “waste” its fuel. Only thing stopping it is the worst wording ever in a treaty insisted upon by “noted nuclear expert” Jimmy Carter. Stop thinking of it as waste and start thinking about it as fuel and tell congress to fix the situation.

      1. The only problem about nuclear waste is that it’s such a good argument against nuclear power that we should never do anything about it. There are no goalposts to pass for what counts as an effective solution, because if a satisfactory solution is found then nuclear power can be built, and that cannot be allowed – therefore no solution ever is good enough.

    2. > What the supporters of nuclear power never consider is nuclear waste.

      We have, and every time we say “What if we…” the opposition comes out to say “NO!”.

      Such as: “What if we drill a hole in Nevada to see if we could drop nuclear waste five miles down in the ground and fill the hole back up with concrete?”. The anti-nuclear crowd came in to protest and block the drilling of just the test hole. They defunded Yucca Mountain, they chain themselves to railroad tracks in Germany to block transport of nuclear waste to recycling facilities… there is no solution that is good enough, and then the same people have the nerve to come in and say we have never considered.

    3. There has always been discussion about what to do with nuclear waste. One of the major solutions is to recycle it.

      More recently, someone proposed that the technology we use to drill for oil can be used to drill miles below the water table, both vertically and then horizontally, and then send the waste down under the nuclear power plants where it would remain undetectable and harmless for thousands of years. Combined with recycling — where only a small fraction of the waste that’s a serious problem is removed, and the good stuff is reused — and this problem becomes trivial to solve.

      1. The common opposition to that is the idea that some radioisotopes will inevitably find their way back up the hole after a thousand years. When you speak to people, they hold the bar at “absolutely nothing must ever come through, ever, never ever, ever, never!”

        And the same people are breathing radon in their houses and getting irradiated by their granite kitchen countertops without even knowing it. There’s just no getting through because the problem is ideological, not real.

        1. Then there’s also the “hot particle theory” which posits that even a single particle of radioactive material in your body practically ensures you will get cancer – it’s just a matter of time – so a nuclear accident or spill, contamination, will doom everyone who got exposed to it. It’s related to the linear-no-threshold modeling of radiation exposure where cumulative exposure – no matter how weak – was believed to eventually cause cancer.

          This theory was used to predict millions and millions of latent victims to the Chernobyl accident and it still lives on despite the fact that everyone lives with “radioactive particles” in their bones anyways…

  5. nuclear is old think
    the ancient idea of hydraulic despotism re writen
    with a dose of true horror
    solar and wind and grid scale storage are here
    now,cheaper,easier,safer,faster,better by every
    posdible measure

      1. There is no proof for any of what you say.

        All nuclear advocates underestimate the costs of nuclear. They are unable to articulate the disposal and equipment maintenance costs,. They don’t include these costs in their arguments but they certainly do happen in reality.

        They also do not acknowledge the low efficiency of nuclear power, for safety reasons the temperature must be kept low and so thermodynamic efficiency suffers badly and all manner of waste heat must be vented to the environment, killing fish and birds far more effectively than wind power.

        1. >They are unable to articulate the disposal and equipment maintenance costs

          Which of course is a lie. EDF for example estimates the cost to dismantle France’s nuclear power arsenal at 15% of the capital cost that was spent to build it, or about 450 million euros per power plant. US experts estimate a range between 0.5 – 1 billion dollars per GW.

          The waste disposal is relatively cheap. That’s because there isn’t actually all that much nuclear waste produced by power plants. 2/3rds of what is around is not from nuclear power plants but old leftovers from the weapons programs.

        2. The cost of nuclear goes up because idiots and vested interests oppose any project, delaying them for years, refusing to budge, all the while being happy in their self-righteousness. All the while the cost goes up in multiples. Even in this comments section, perfectly sensible arguments in favor of nuclear are simply being ignored. Tell people waste is fuel, but the ears are closed. Propose solutions, but the screams of outrage are louder than the solutions. Try to discuss actual pros and cons, but be met by sneers of “la la la la nuclear industry evil la la la nuclear is harmful la la la”.

          The road to hell truly is paved with good intentions. And nation states sponsoring professional activists in each others backyards to prevent progress.

    1. Nuclear can eliminate the need for all type of renewables and take a huge chunk of emissions away right away.

      Renewables you chip little bits at a time. Will you be able to chip enough in time to make climate change stop from getting worse (never mind reverse it)?

      I’ll take nuclear over anything else every time.

        1. Of course coal doesn’t produce any waste heat at all. No sirree. It’s the primo West Virginia clean no-heat no-sulphur no-mercury no-nuclear isotope coal.

          And we are replacing it with the magical renewable widget. Like these solar panels over here, which just magically appear out of thin air in China, and then flap themselves over to the USA and Europe. And the electricity will be stored in these magical grid scale batteries, which are made out of missionary camp songs, Birkenstocks, and old discarded hippy nail clippings.

        2. Is this intended as a serious argument? Much of the world’s population needs heating most of the year while it is also desperately needed in all industrial metal production. If you don’t have any by the plant, the heat can be used for desalination and turn ocean water into drinking water. If that’s not enough the heat is needed for Hydrogen production and if you don’t want Hydrogen it can make biofuels instead.
          Heat is not waste!

        3. Nuclear power plants have to go through environmental impact assessment before they get permitted to build. No thermal power plant, nuclear or otherwise, is allowed to “kill marine life” simply by dumping hot water, and there are plenty of conventional power plants large enough to dump just as much heat into the environment. Power plants are shut down when the water temperature exceeds limits set by the environmental regulations, which sometimes happens when the plant is situated at a smaller body of water, or it is particularly hot in the summer time.

          Furthermore, it does not make any sense to claim that nuclear power plant water exhaust is any warmer than of any steam turbine, because that would directly impact the thermal efficiency of the turbine. There is no technical or financial reason to design it that way.

  6. So many nuclear haters here. The renewable fanboys always gloss over that all existing ‘renewable’ resources are extremely finite. Cant put a water turbine in the dessert for example, and solar cells dont last forever and arent recyclable easily or affordably, dont work at peok night hours and require in most cases extreme lithium battery storage solutions which is also a terrible material that noone seems to care if we move away from. The only thing renewable about renewable energy in 2022 is people renewing their faith in something that isnt there yet and claiming its the only way forward. Get out of the way and let people try more than the same stupid renewables.

    All that said renewables arent inherintly bad but its not a full solution and early mass adoption of something half baked leads to tons of issues. See rolling blackouts caused by widespread EV usage taxing grid systems.

    Not to mention constant propoganda against nuclear by proponents of ‘renewables’ -and traditional energy alike. We are all brainwashed to trust in the one solution that someone else told us to love (renewables) because its really simple. Looks clean as far as your eyes can see because all the manufacturing and lifetime of panels etc is abstracted away. Just because you see smoke at a coal plant etc doesnt mean there was no smoke to mine and make a panel every few years. People need to pull the woll over their ey and see how the entire renewable energy field works. Lithium mining for example. Real healthy. Real good to throw away those ecig batteries. Love it!

    The future is NOT here we still need to innovate to get there.

    Safety arguements are also made and again gloss over so much more of the picture than what everyone brings to mind.
    This is the terrible its not in my backyard metality that allows people to be elitist about the environment but dont know where anything comes from and gross over manufacturing and toxic materials of the renewable scheme and then they all try to defend something they have no stakes in because you were taught by someone its better!

    Lets try EVERYTHING including continue to use a renewable resource like gas (not lenewable in our lifetimes but its not all about us) and invest in solutions to make gas better instead of full stopping for chinese mined and made lithum strategies alone. We are headed for death by putting all our eggs in that basket just as much as any of these other solutions.

  7. Wow, HaD finally posting sense on the topic. Now, cover Fast Breeder Reactors to also deal with the “waste” (Its not waste, it is still fuel, the only reason it’s waste is the imbecile Jimmy Carter’s wording of nuclear non-proliferation treaty!) situation, and you’ll see we have a viable plan to provide enough energy to cover us until we get fusion up and running.

      1. Huh, didn’t know that. That just makes his insistence on the wording worse as it was purely motivated by fear of russia. Ignorance would have made me think more of him…but now, if it was even possible, my opinion on him dropped to a new low.

    1. I don’t know if fusion will ever be up and running. Seems that it is perpetually 20 years away. Then they make a breakthrough and it is now only 20 years away. Next time they make a breakthrough it will be only 20 years away from that.

      Meanwhile the oceans have more thorium in it than we can possibly think of using. It’s here, now, waiting to be used.

      Start building the reactors already. Even if they’re just a stepping stone to something “better” or “safer” in the future. Sure beats going extinct or having a horrible future because we ran out of time trying to be “cleaner”.

      1. I have said for ages. Basing anything on fusion before it actually works is just nonsense, and think something as ineffecient as wind and solar can save the world simply too far from realism to be taken seriously. Nuclear has been here for decades and we could have easily avoided the situation we are in now if it wasn’t for the “green” hippies!

          1. It’s not the hippies per se, but the demagogues who used the counter-culture and their mistrust of the establishment as a base to build “alternative narratives” and hijack popular movements for personal gain.

            It’s kinda like anti-vaxxers – once you have a bunch of people who believe that “the man” is out to get them and scientists can’t be trusted because there’s some nefarious plot to ruin the world (Compare “depopulation!” and “They’re all fossil industry shills!”), all attempts at reasonable discourse are futile because it is simply rejected as propaganda.

  8. We wouldn’t have energy crises if we weren’t all constantly busying ourselves with breeding soldiers and building ever more advanced technology and weaponry. Humans lived for millions of years without electricity, and they can certainly still live without it now.

    I never hear energy issues discussed as they are; results of greed and over consumption. Shortages are always presented as a natural or even inevitable phenomenon, but it is actually the heads of state that create these problems by enacting policies favorable and profitable to the war machine.

    Nuclear is being floated in the public eye once again because the reactors help in making weapons, and the world is once again at war. It’s nothing to do with consumer-induced shortages, there is still plenty to go around. But energy demand from wartime manufacturing takes priority over the consumer, and that’s creating artificial shortages as nations start to ration and mobilize.

    Trying to sway public opinion toward nuclear, at a time when international headlines almost constantly warn of impending nuclear disaster from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, makes no sense to the casual observer. But if the main goal is to enrich energy companies, and possibly go full scorched-earth in Ukraine should Russia gain more ground, then nuclear energy is still strangely appealing.

    Follow the money, kids. Crises like this are always manufactured.

    1. Wow, that’s a lot of words for someone not having a clue about the subject. You should try to understand what nuclear is today in gen 4 and 5, as in the cleanest, safest source of energy we have. I don’t care to argue with your lack of knowledge, just stating actual facts here.

      1. That comment reads like you were paid to write it. I understand very well the motivations behind nuclear proliferation, and never included in those motivations is the desire to clean up the environment. Its primary purpose is to make others fearful of those that wield nuclear technology. The atom bomb came first, and the technology to harness it for the energy grid came later when we needed a way to deal with the waste created by the bomb manufacturing.

        Every reactor feeds the war machine first and the people second. That’s a fact, Jack.

          1. Nah, you won’t argue the above points simply because you can’t refute the truth. You’ll just resort to character attacks because that’s all you have left.

            A great many scientists are smart, but not necessarily wise. They love to explore and research, but they don’t understand human nature, and often never learn who funds their work and for what purpose. If most of them knew all of that, they’d be like Einstein and grow to hate their own achievements. The wisdom of knowing what the inventions will be used for stops a great many scientific advances from ever being developed, because the human desire for survival, cohesion, and predictability always trumps the desire for chaos and destruction.

            Don’t come in here actively promoting the path to chaos and paint it as good for our health, as you will never divorce nuclear energy from nuclear weaponry. That’s why world powers were loathe to allow Iran to start developing power plants, because the methods are so similar that if you can produce the energy you can also produce the weapons. Nobody in charge of any world government today is going to drop the massive investment in the energy side without considering the weapons implications.

            The only clean energy with a reliable baseload is hydroelectric. Nuclear is dirty in more ways than one, and as long as shills keep popping up on my feeds I’ll keep calling it out.

          2. >The only clean energy with a reliable baseload is hydroelectric.

            Hydroelectricity is subject to rainfall. It varies from year to year by as much as 50%. It’s also not entirely clean, because the varying water level picks up and concentrates organic matter under anaerobic conditions at the bottom of the reservoirs, which then rots and releases methane. Then there’s the problem of fish not getting upstream so whole river ecosystems are destroyed, and the flood risks from dam failures…

        1. You do know that it is possible to build nuclear reactors that do not generate weapons grade radioactive byproducts, right? In addition, that tech has been known about since the time the other old reactors were built. So it’s nothing *new*.

        2. >The atom bomb came first, and the technology to harness it for the energy grid came later

          Nope. Controlled fission (“atomic piles”) came first. The way you make atom bombs is to construct a nuclear reactor to breed the right kind of fissile isotopes out of a special fuel, then you shut it down quickly before it burns them out.

          That’s one of the reasons why there is so much nuclear waste: a lot of reactors were built, operated for a very short time, and then the fuel was taken out to be separated. The waste is the leftover from the separation process.

  9. “An academic reactor or reactor plant almost always has the following basic characteristics: (1) It is simple. (2) It is small. (3) It is cheap. (4) it is light. (5) It can be built very quickly. (6) It is very flexible in purpose. (7) Very little development will be required. It will use off-the-shelf components. (8) The reactor is in the study phase. It is not being built now.

    On the other hand a practical reactor can be distinguished by the following characteristics: (1) It is being built now. (2) It is behind schedule. (3) It requires an immense amount of development on apparently trivial items. (4) It is very expensive. (5) It takes a long time to build because of its engineering development problems. (6) It is large. (7) It is heavy. (8) It is complicated.

    Admiral Hyman G. Rickover

    Nuclear is wasteful, insecure, moneyhungry, endangering and can not be securely deposited for 100.000 years – or even 100 years. Its a stupid concept derived from the nuclear hype of the 50s and we are now finaly exiting those money burning stupidness. France will need over 80 years to safely disassemble their plants in the next 100 years. It will be stupidly expensive and the waste will chase them for the next couple millenium years. The low price of nuclear was only possible by heavy subsidies from each countrys economic funds. It was always too expensive to develop, too expensive to build, too expensive to run and too expensive to abbandon. Also: Too Expensive to Insure. The amounts of money it would cost to clean up a desaster like Chernobyl or Fukushima is astronomical. It is a nightmare that will stop in this century. Nuclear will have better use in regions where it really matters but certainly not in the civil sector creating unstoreable toxic waste and creating timebombs for every natural desater or civil conflict in the future.

    1. And an under construction nuclear plant (including the pre-construction planning phase) can be recognized as being opposed tooth and nail for years and years by useful idiots and bad actors until the cost balloons. Followed by cries of “look, it’s so expensive, it doesn’t match what you said 10 years ago”.

    2. And I have to add that your ramble at the end is just exceptionally uneducated. It is the 100% equivalent of discarding Tesla because you never heard of anything beyond lead-acid batteries! We are basically doomed exactly because of inbreed opinions like yours derived solely from 70’s fear mongering cluelessness rather than actual reality.

      Try to look up Seaborg nuclear. Precisely everything you first described and in the real world!

  10. The problem with discussing power is exactly illustrated in the very first comment. A kneejerk reaction of “no nuclear”. Nuclear is the only was to get continuous base power, wind and solar cannot always provide power. As far as the risks, mining for minerals for solar panels and the construction of wind farms also have risks. Almost every human endeavor does. I would venture to say that coal mining has killed quite a few people.

    If we did an actual evaluation of worst nuclear accidents to date I think you will find that proper design would have prevented them :

    Chernobyl – entirely human error with operators ignoring the safety systems that did exist. Graphite moderated reactos are no longer state of the art and would not be constructed today.

    Fukushima – loss of control power caused primarily by improper siting of on-site emergency generators, this was actually identified as a risk but not acted upon. Modern reactor designs have a “walk-away” capability which can safely shut down without active cooling systems.

    Our nuclear technology on the grid today is mostly 60s and 70s designs which could be much improved with current technology including plants that can safely shutdown with no intervention if there is a loss of on-site power.

    As far as waste, it is highly manageable. I live near to a multi unit reactor that was recently decommisioned, all of the waste is stored on site in concrete casks (because we were too short sighted to construct a proper storage site so we leave it local which is far more dangerous) and you would be shocked to see how little space it occupied after providing over 30 years of power for a major metropolitan area.

    1. If the waste would actually be stored on site I would have zero problems with it. As long as the nuclear company and its parent company are responsible for controlled maintenance of the site.

      Current thinking is “out of sight, out of mind”. Shit is among the most toxic stuff we produce and people just want to burry it underground(and of course: tax payers are supposed to fund that). Leave the toxic ground water to our great^15 grand kids…

      1. Indeed. Like all the waste from coal which sits very well contained on-site. Not spewed into the atmosphere at all. Not even transported to safe storage locations in containers that would literally survive a head on collision with a train. Much safer. Mmmmhmm.

        1. No sane person in this thread is arguing _for_ coal.
          We also dumped tons of nuclear waste into the oceans causing a couple hundred ecosystems to disappear. That CO2, sulfur etc pollution from coal burning is a problem is known since centuries which is why we implemented pretty decent regulations on carbon and waste capture for coal power plants in civilized first world countries (no, US and China are not among those) – and even then they are the main cause of death out of any electricity production industry.

          The radioactivity coming out of them is miniscule though as you will find trace amounts of radioactive elements everywhere in the ground.

        2. 1.) no one here argues for coal if you haven’t noticed that.

          2.) To entertain your whataboutism: Civilized first world countries (which the US and China are NOT a part of) have regulations in place to capture decent amounts of the carbon and waste from coal burning. Even then it’s still by far the dirtiest and deadliest electricity production we have.

          3.) Radioactive elements in coal are generally present in trace amounts. While there are coal deposits close to Uranium and Thorium deposits (can’t find which ones I believe that was in China) it is pretty much mostly the Sulfur and CO2 in coal that is poisonous for the environment and us. Isotopes are generally higher in ground water near places where we dumped nuclear fission waste (Russia had the IQ 5k idea to put radioactive waste into metal containers on a large field near a river without a roof on top or a proper concrete slab below. Guess what happened)

      2. Yes, why wait 100.000 years to have a problem with waste when we can destroy the planet immediately by burning fossil fuels?
        Besides, there is no long half-life waste from modern nuclear. You need to read up and learn instead of pedaling this outdated propaganda.

        1. The issue with spent fuel is that the high-level fraction of the fuel keeps breeding the low-level fraction and sustaining a slow reaction that keeps producing new high-activity waste for thousands of years if the whole thing is kept in one pile.

          Recycling the fuel to remove the high-level fraction is necessary to keep the residual waste half-life short.

      3. >If the waste would actually be stored on site I would have zero problems with it.

        It is. Look up dry cask storage. That’s how they do it now, since nowhere else is allowed.

        In the future, the waste will be moved from above-ground storage to deep boreholes – once we’re allowed to drill the holes. The boreholes can be situated at the site as well, but there are better locations elsewhere.

      4. >Leave the toxic ground water to our great^15 grand kids…

        The point is to drill it down deep enough that it goes miles below any ground water aquifer that people use, into solid bedrock, somewhere where people don’t live in the first place. The deep borehole method is effective and cheap because it’s just a narrow hole drilled straight down, then filled back up with concrete and clay.

        Look up “deep borehole disposal”.

    2. that’s what i always say: I have no problem with nuclear energy, I love the sun. I only have problems with people designing, managing and handling it. there is were it goes wrong. we are not even able to design and build machines lasting at least ten years without maintenance, we make big mistakes all the time and I shiver at the thought that there will be place somewhere with radioactive waste (not fuel, but all the radiated and contaminated byproducts, stuff we cannot use as a future fuel source) that should be guarded and taken care of for more that a couple of hundred years.

      Imagine that the Romans would have had a nuclear disaster and then imagine the dark ages following that. any roman reactor or waste disposal area would just look like roman artifacts look today: crumbling, half taken down, grown over. with a very wide area around it still radioactive today and a lot of radiation caused diseases roaming the earth.

      That will be our future if we continue to live like we do now.

      Nynke Laverman – your ancestor sums it up nicely…

      1. “Imagine that the Romans would have had a nuclear disaster and then imagine the dark ages following that. any roman reactor or waste disposal area would just look like roman artifacts look today: crumbling, half taken down, grown over. with a very wide area around it still radioactive today and a lot of radiation caused diseases roaming the earth.”

        So the takeaway from this is don’t trust the Italians with building reactors & storing waste. I hear the Egyptians are good at making long lasting storage enclosures though…

      2. >with a very wide area around it still radioactive today

        Look up Guarapari beach.

        Uranium and Thorium are everywhere. The more radioactive elements from nuclear disasters have short half-lives and generally disappear after couple hundred years, so the ancient Roman nuclear disaster would be basically indistinguishable from other places in the world where the local rock contains monzanite.

        1. If nuclear safety standards were applied on the radioactive beach sands found all over the world, a lot of the places were people live would have to be evacuated and shut down for eternity. Natural background radiation levels vary by a factor of 100 from the average.

          “Nuclear waste” is literally everywhere. The reason why we aren’t all dying of cancer is because life on earth has evolved to deal with radiation damage. Somehow the public got the idea that radioactivity only comes from man-made sources, and then they invented the idea that no amount of radiation is safe, and here we are today with people still panicking over something they’ve lived with all their lives.

    3. But that’s not even modern nuclear. The spent fuel is reused and only a fraction in short-lived waste is left. In addition MSR’s cannot melt down or create disasters of any kind. Excess heat or contact with air will crystallize the salts and immediately stop the fission.

      This also means that the currently stored waste can be reused as fuel.

    4. Waste is manageable? Clearly you’ve never heard of Hanford, WA. They built bombs out there for WWII and the site has been leaking waste ever since. Every few years we see a report of a bunch of workers getting exposed to vapors emanating from the site, and quickly developing aggressive cancers. Hanford is so known for its toxicity that the town is still depopulated to this day.

      If you do any sort of digging on the subject it’s easy to find examples of superfund sites that are actively leaking and we are still struggling to contain them. It doesn’t take much of a mistake to render a whole county unlivable.

      1. I’m sure you’ll find examples of many industries that left toxic sites behind because they could.

        Thanks to modern regulations, that doesn’t (or shouldn’t…) happen anymore, and you don’t get much more regulated than nuclear fission.

      2. >They built bombs out there

        And that’s the important difference.

        Atom bombs are made by dissolving spent nuclear fuel in acids and solvents, then separating them bomb materials. It leaves behind the spent fuel still dissolved in a liquid form, and in the form of water-soluble salts, which is why it is leaking off these sites.

        Spent fuel from nuclear reactors is normally in the form of solid oxides which do not readily dissolve in water, so they’re not going anywhere.

    1. No kids nor grandkids for me. We did feel it would be either fair or responsible to put a few more human lives at risk of a horrible future, mainly because I believe we’re already past the point of no return. A dying world was not something we were willing to force anyone we’d be responsible for to suffer through.

      Good luck to everyone else’s spawn though.

  11. A problem that I see is they are going to have a hell of a time getting the residual radioactive contamination from coal dust and fly ash down to levels that they can distinguish between it and radiation released from the reactor. A clean reactor is essential for determining where sources of radiation come from.

      1. It is hard to detect radiation when the background is elevated. In other words you can’t hear the cricket when a rock concert is going on. With radiation left over from the coal plant days it will be difficult to meet standards.

          1. You could also measure the energy spectrum of the radiation. Different isotopes produce different spectra, so you can tell whether it’s coming off of naturally occurring Uranium or Thorium, or Xenon leaking out of the reactor.

  12. Neat idea. The grid is already there along with transportation facilities. They’re usually away from population centers and many either have access to flowing cooling water or large tracts of land for cooling towers

    1. Won’t make much difference, as most mining operations are in places with cheap and usually very dirty power grids. The places that have the funding and will to build a greener grid are mostly using the energy to make/move real goods or services and on their personal high tech lifestyle. There is some mining in these nations, but on the whole not much as the energy costs are so high in comparison and the big farms that out compete the little fish so heavily are all somewhere else – its just not worth it.

      Though I agree the whole concept of these currencies is bonkers – lets deliberately waste as much energy as possible to play a game where every now and then somebody wins something resembling money…

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.