Free Energy : The Nuclear Power Dead-End

“Sustainable Development” is a phrase with two distinct meanings.

When people trained in Economics think about what “Sustainable Development” means, they normally assume that Nature’s continuing bounty will sustain our development path. That the pyramid of wealth, the wealth accrual machine and monetary incentives will bring more and more people and material resources into optimal production, and there will be no end to the development of the enrichment of all peoples and the quality of their habitat. Growth is good, for it brings prosperity to all, health, wealth, education, freedom from want and a top-notch built environment.

When people trained in Ecology think about what “Sustainable Development” means, they know that there are limits to how much the human race can extract from the Earth, both in terms of mining the crust and the biological productivity caused by photosynthesis. For them, the sustainable part is the most important – how the whole “development” thing can be kept in motion, given the stress on the environment. Nature’s bounty has some clear limits for ecological thinkers, including the Earth’s carrying capacity, the risks of damages from Climate Change, and the peaks in the production of the extractive industries, such as Uranium, Oil, Coal and Natural Gas.

This week I was trying to explain why Wind Power is effectively free Energy. Yes, you have to spend out in terms of Money, Carbon Emissions and Energy to erect Wind Turbines, but the servicing of the machines is not a major cost. Over the lifetime of a Wind Turbine, it pays back in all three values of concern : Money, Carbon Emissions and Energy. You get back more than you put in, qualifying it as a true investment, as it has a clear return. At the end of the lifecycle of a Wind Turbine, practically all the material resources in its construction can be re-used, reducing the costs of erecting a new Wind Turbine. Only a small part of the return on investment in the original Wind Turbine is needed to fund the building of the next one. Plus, importantly, you don’t pay for the fuel. And so, after the initial investment, Wind Power is effectively free.

Compare and contrast to Nuclear Power. It is contestible if Nuclear Power plants pay back in any of the three indicators : Money, Carbon and Energy. And at the end of the lifetime of a Nuclear reactor, the equipment and most of the radioactive waste cannot be re-used, turned into new Nuclear Power. So, Nuclear Power is effectively a dead-end on spending. Nuclear Power is not an investment, as it does not offer a return for money spent. In fact, it wastes environments, materials and expenditure – environments where the Uranium is mined, and where the Uranium is processed and “burned” and disposed of. With Nuclear Power you continue to have to find solid, weighty investment to build the next generation of plant, and you have to continue to purchase the fuel.

New Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom will provide a certain amount of economic stimulus, as it will create employment and work contracts and a hive of activity. This production would be accounted as “sustaining” “development” of the Economy.

But Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom would, at best, be a stop-gap on the road to fully Renewable Energy. It will be an expensive, one-time-only use of funds, and desecrate environments even barring radioactive leaks or explosions during its use.

A new fleet of Nuclear Power plants in the United Kingdom is a wasteful, unsustainable proposal, and should be buried, along with the last 50 years of radioactive waste we haven’t dealt with yet.

5 thoughts on “Free Energy : The Nuclear Power Dead-End”

  1. As always Jo your wrong.

    The field of sustainable development can be conceptually broken into THREE not TWO constituent parts: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and sociopolitical sustainability.

    Indeed the entire phrase is ridiculous:

    philosopher Luc Ferry[27] express this view. The latter writes about sustainable development: “I know that this term is obligatory, but I find it also absurd, or rather so vague that it says nothing.” Luc Ferry adds that the term is trivial by a proof by contradiction: “who would like to be a proponent of an “untenable development! Of course no one! [..] The term is more charming than meaningful. [..] Everything must be done so that it does not turn into a Russian-type administrative planning with ill effects.”

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    Now lets move on to your infantile claims about Nuclear Power:

    “Nuclear Power is not an investment, as it does not offer a return for money spent.”

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    Some facts for you to absorb Jo

    The 6% nuclear power contribution to global primary energy supply is almost entirely in the rapidly increasing electricity sector, where 17% of global electricity is generated by some 440 nuclear power reactors in 32 countries.

    Economics and security of supply have been principal considerations in the choice of nuclear power along with an awareness of its environmental benefits – from mining to waste disposal and decommissioning it produces remarkably little environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

    Got that Jo?, Nuclear energy has remarkably little environmental pollution or greenhose gas emissions…

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    Now lets take a look at wind farms, lets start with the UK

    More than half of the wind turbines in Scotland are on highland peat. This is not sensible. Scottish peat bogs hold three-quarters of all the carbon in British ecosystems – equivalent to around a century of emissions from fossil fuel burning.

    Apart from water, peat bogs are largely composed of huge volumes of saturated, undecayed plants. A single hectare typically contains more than 5000 tonnes of carbon, ten times more than a typical hectare of forest. But any disturbance leads to lower water levels and to the peat drying, oxidising and releasing its carbon,

    The bog can decompose for hundreds of metres round every turbine, potentially releasing millions of tonnes of carbon. The process is slow, but frequently unstoppable. So many wind farms may eventually emit more carbon than an equivalent coal-fired power station.

    As the RSPB’s Lloyd Austin put it last month: “There is no point in building renewable [energy projects] that potentially emit more carbon than they save”…

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    Oh dear Jo, looks like the facts again do not support your claims.

  2. “As always Jo your wrong.”

    Learn to spell.

    High winds over the weekend supplied 53% of Spain’s electricity – equivalent to the power output of 11 nuclear plants.

    High winds over the weekend supplied 53% of Spain’s electricity – equivalent to the power output of 11 nuclear plants.

    Rather upsets your hypothesis doesn’t it Joseph.

    Do you not have anything better to do than constantly trolling Jo’s website? Are you being paid to do this? If not then more fool you.

  3. Dear Sim1,

    Not my hypothesis, I quoted directly from three government organistations !!, sort of upsets your attempt to ignore my factual statements !!.

    SO following your logic Sim1, are we then to expect that Spain will be having high winds every day of the year to remove the need for Nuclear power stations????.

    Also what about the countries that do not suffer from high winds?, what to do about them?.

    And Sim1, I make no claim to the quality of my spelling, and as for yor pathetic accusation of trolling grow up ….!

    Blogs are used to post articles and then for other people to post responses both for and against the specific article.

    At least I take the time to read Jo Abbess’s blog, and then show how wrong her article is!, Jo Abbess can always respond if she wishes.

  4. Let’s face it, wind turbines aren’t really THAT harmful – they just don’t do much good. If you have any more than about 20% of your total energy supply from wind, you’d better be prepared for brown-outs. Their output is so inconsistent that you still need a power station of some sort ticking over to pick up the drop in supply when the wind stops blowing. And what if the wind stops blowing for several days in a row? How are you going to make yourself a cup of tea then?

    The Royal Academy of Engineering reported that, far from being free, wind turbines were amongst the costliest forms of energy. The RAE said the kilowatt per hour rate was well over double the cost of nuclear-generated electricity – and that includes the enormous cost of decommissioning the nuclear plants at the end of their useful working life. The only dearer forms of energy production in the RAE report were off-shore wind turbines, burning poultry litter and wave and marine power.

    Then there’s the CO2 emitted in the construction of their swimming pool-sized foundations. Concrete production is one of the most significant sources of CO2.

    An estimated 14,000 giant wind turbines would be needed to achieve the 20% limit of the UK’s energy production deemed practical by the Institute of Engineers. Yet, their presence would not shut one existing power plant for the reason given in the first paragraph.

    Electricity generation accounts for only a third of the UK’s carbon emissions and 14,000 giant turbines would save only 1.25% of our total CO2 output.

    That’s why the Darmstadt Manifesto signed by more than 100 of Germany’s leading academics in fields including maths, electrical engineering, physics, medicine, chemistry, mechanical engineering and thermodynamic science, concluded that, “Wind energy is therefore of no significance whatever either in the statistics for energy or for those of pollutants and greenhouse gases.”

    Denmark, Norway and Ireland are just three of the countries that now have moratoriums on wind turbines. I have two turbines not far from where I live and their total output in the last three-and-a-half years is equalled by nine hours output from my nearest coal-fired power station.

    Wind turbines might salve your conscience but they wont provide the energy we need unless we’re all prepared to shrink our economy to around that of the mid-19th century.

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