NUCLEAR POWER IS SUPERIOR TO COAL

by Ginosar  

Part II of: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOUNDING GOOD AND DOING GOOD

In all our discussions we must be firmly remember that GHG emissions are increasing the danger of catastrophic climate changes and are driven to a large percentage by electricity generation from coal power plants. And in the drive to electrify some of our transportation, more electricity would be needed.

 

Let' compare the direction of electricity generation in the three countries we discussed earlier:

 

Germany plans to eliminate their nuclear plants by 2020 and increased its dependence on Coal, now 50%, but hopes for eventual use of CCS to reduce its massive GHG. This is a hope rather than concrete path.

 

The US (50% of electricity from coal) has no plans to replace its aging nuclear plants (20% of electrify) due to high costs, lack of public and governmental support. Most important is the opposition from unaware public which is wrongly influenced by the mistaken, emotional driven policy of most environmental organizations. It would be difficult to overcome the misperception of an emotional society that has great difficulties accepting facts it does not like. Also our political system is polarized, unable to face reality, and to work for the common good. In the nuclear power case, the Democrats are the stumbling block.

We will have to pay premium above the price of coal for power from non polluting sources. There are several promising ways to cut the cost and increase the safety further of nuclear power plants. We are not doing adequate R&D in this crucial area. Emotionalism should not govern our national policy.

 

China is installing nuclear power stations as fast as it possibly can TO REDUCE THEIR DEPENDENCE ON COAL. Nuclear power is much more expansive than coal, why else are they doing it?

Eleven nuclear plants are operating now and they are planning to add ten new plants each year for the coming decades, possibly some 20% of the power of their new coal plants.

"Today, China's nuclear plants can produce about nine gigawatts supplying about 3 percent of the country's electricity. Three years ago, the government set a goal of increasing that capacity more than fourfold by 2020.

The government will soon announce a further increase in its targets, to 70 gigawatts of capacity by 2020 and 400 gigawatts by 2050, said Jiang Kejun, an energy policy director at the National Development and Reform Commission, the main planning agency.

Electrical demand is growing so rapidly in China that even if the industry manages to meet the ambitious 2020 target, nuclear stations will still generate only 9.7 percent of the country's power, by the government's projections."

www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/business/global/16chinanuke.html

 

Concluding comments

Nuclear power has the potential to be a reliable, solid source of base power. They have demonstrated that for the last three decades in the US. They improved their availability to some 92%. That is, they have been on line producing electricity 92% of the time.

Nuclear is one of several non emitting energy sources we should use. However, even if it was totally safe, even if it was economical now, we can not rely on more than a portion of our power from it (20 - 40%?) because it takes to much time and money to build them.

The most critical and the first thing to do is cut our energy waste and cut our energy consumption.

Every kWh we cut reduces three kWh of input energy because most current thermal power plants are typically 33% efficient. And old coal plants have notoriously low efficiency - some 145 coal power plants are operating now that were constructed before 1950!

Congress allowed these old plants to operate under a "grandfather" agreement, escaping even basic air pollution regulations.

 

 

 

 

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