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Why nuclear power will never supply the world's energy needs

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Cronus Protagonist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 07:27 AM
Original message
Why nuclear power will never supply the world's energy needs
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-nuclear-power-world...

As Abbott notes in his study, global power consumption today is about 15 terawatts (TW). Currently, the global nuclear power supply capacity is only 375 gigawatts (GW). In order to examine the large-scale limits of nuclear power, Abbott estimates that to supply 15 TW with nuclear only, we would need about 15,000 nuclear reactors. In his analysis, Abbott explores the consequences of building, operating, and decommissioning 15,000 reactors on the Earth, looking at factors such as the amount of land required, radioactive waste, accident rate, risk of proliferation into weapons, uranium abundance and extraction, and the exotic metals used to build the reactors themselves.

A nuclear power station is resource-hungry and, apart from the fuel, uses many rare metals in its construction, Abbott told PhysOrg.com. The dream of a utopia where the world is powered off fission or fusion reactors is simply unattainable. Even a supply of as little as 1 TW stretches resources considerably.
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Buzz Clik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 07:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. There are similar arguments relative to solar, wind, and other renewables.
There is no question that we'll need a balance of all available technologies.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 07:39 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. There is no question that we don't need nuclear at all - renewables are all we need.
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LAGC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 07:49 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. In 50 years maybe.
But for the immediate future, nuclear is still going to play a big part.
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YellowRubberDuckie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 07:57 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. Did you know nuclear energy is less efficient than even coal and oil based?
Sure, it might be better for the environment in the short term, but in the long run, it usually ends in tears.
Duckie
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 08:11 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. Nuclear is only 2% of global primary energy according to the IPCC's new report
Is 2% a big part? Depends on your perspective, I guess.

See Figure SPM.2 on page 6 of the Summary for Policy Makers (pdf): http://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/report/report/srren-spm-fd4
Full report on May 31: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...


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LAGC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-14-11 02:20 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. 2% if you include oil and natural gas maybe... its actually 18% of global electrical output though.
http://www.ieer.org/ensec/no-1/glbnrg.html

Nearly 1/5 of global electricity generation comes from nuclear power sources.

Considering concerns such as peak oil, we're going to become even more electricity-dependent in the future with electric cars and the like, as we move away from our dependence on oil.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-14-11 06:31 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. You're looking at old data, nuclear is currently only 13% of global electricity and is in decline.
Edited on Sat May-14-11 06:41 AM by bananas
Your link is from 1993, nuclear generation peaked in 2006 and has been declining since then.

See page 7 of "The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 20102011" at http://www.worldwatch.org/system/files/WorldNuclearIndu...
In 2009e, nuclear power plants generated 2,558 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, about 2 percent
less than the previous year. The industrys lobby organization the World Nuclear Association
headlined another drop in nuclear generationthe fourth year in a row. The role of nuclear power
is declining steadily and now accounts for about 13 percent of the worlds electricity generation and
5.5 percent of the commercial primary energy.

e The 2010 figure is not yet available.

(The World Watch report uses a different method of calculating primary energy than the IPCC report, the IPCC method is more realistic and has nuclear at only 2% of primary energy).

Wikipedia also says nuclear is only 13-14% of global electricity and uses the pro-nuclear World Nuclear Association as a reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power

Nuclear power provides about 6% of the world's energy and 1314% of the world's electricity,<1>

1. ^ a b c World Nuclear Association. Another drop in nuclear generation World Nuclear News, 05 May 2010.

(Again, wikipedia uses a misleading method of calculation primary energy which makes nuclear seem higher.)
Wikipedia's reference is:
http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=2...

Another drop in nuclear generation
05 May 2010
Annual generation of nuclear power has continued on a slight downward trend, decreasing 1.8% last year to 2558 TWh, according to the latest estimates.

With some data yet to come in, estimates by the International Atomic Energy Agency see nuclear power last year meeting 13-14% of the world's electricity demand, which continues to increase rapidly in the developing world.



<snip>

From that chart it is evident that nuclear generation, as measured in TWh per year, peaked in 2006 and has declined since then.

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LAGC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-14-11 06:49 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Well, I won't question your sources...
Wikipedia can be hit and miss sometimes.

But even if it is only 13%, that's still a significant chunk of electricity generation.

I'd just hate for that to be replaced by "clean" coal and natural gas in our anti-nuclear haste.
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Cronus Protagonist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-13-11 07:51 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Yeh. The article makes the argument that renewables are the ONLY path that works
Nuclear energy in fact cannot supply us with all the power we need. It's not expandable to the levels needed. This is a new concept, and is fully supported by facts in the article. I was well edified by this article, which I hope will get wider distribution.
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vroomvroom Donating Member (496 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-14-11 06:54 AM
Response to Original message
10. Nuclear Fusion is the way to go -- Stop this Nuclear Fission Nonsense
its time we put all this nuclear fission reactors to rest. It is dangerous and very inefficient. We should be focusing our attention in finalizing our understanding of fusion power that the Ignition Institute is doing. Unlimited clean energy.
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