Friday, August 10, 2012

Another Environmentalist for Nuclear Energy

We've been talking a lot about Australia in recent weeks (click here and here), where the debate over nuclear energy has been heating up. Long one of the world's top sources of uranium, some folks in Australia are wondering out loud whether or not it might be a good idea to turn to a home-grown energy source to generate electricity.

One of the people helping to drive that debate is Ben Heard of Decarbonise South Australia and Think Climate Consulting. A one-time skeptic, he's now embracing nuclear energy as the only rational way to battle climate change while producing the electricity we need to power advanced societies.

Recently, Heard took part in a television debate sponsored by the Australian Broadcasting Company. As we've written before here at NEI, we're not climate scientists and don't take a position on the validity of research that has concluded that climate change is caused by human activity. However, it's only logical to conclude that you want to reduce the amount of carbon emitted to the atmosphere while still generating enough electricity to power a modern society, nuclear energy has to be part of your energy portfolio.

With that, I'd like to share Heard's opening statement from the ABC debate:



Powerful stuff. Hat tip to Rod Adams for picking up the clip.

11 comments:

jamie said...

Total wind energy now equals 11 nuclear plants. Wind and solar do not melt down and spread radiation to the entire planet. We need to phase out nuclear after the events a Fukushima have shown that nuclear regulators can't be trusted.

jamie said...

Solar and wind do not melt down and contaminate the ocean and the entire planet.

jamiee said...

Wind energy now equals 11 nuclear plants. Solar and wind do not melt down and irradiate the entire planet.

Anonymous said...

My only concern is what are the long term impacts of Wind and Solar power? Everything, as we currently understand, happens because of some sort of energy transfer or flow. If you steal energy from the wind, what impact will that have? Will the weather patterns change? How much energy can be harvested before an adverse impact is seen? How about solar? Some of that energy would be depositted into the Earth's crust, now what will happen when we steal that energy? Despite what some might think, there is no such thing as free energy. That includes wind and solar. A few decades ago, fossil fuel was the way to go, but as our understanding of the impacts increases, we realize that fossil fuels aren't that good.

The nice thing with man-made power sources, like nuclear, we have a much better understanding of their impacts to the environment. Which may make them look worse than other power sources with less developed understanding (like wind and solar), but at least we have a decent handle on what can happen and how to clean it up.

donb said...

Total wind energy may equal 11 nuclear plants, but the average output is equal to 3 or 4 nuclear plants. Wind power output can and does go to near zero for days at a time over large areas of continents. Solar output goes to zero at night. Wind and sunlight are free (wind turbines and solar panels are not), but energy storage for night and windless days costs more per kilowatt-hour than nuclear generation.
Solar and wind do not melt down. They just quit. Having no electricity kills people.
Twenty thousand people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, but we are still can't find the deaths from the Fukushima disaster.
BTW, mining the neodymium used in the magnets for wind turbine generators brings up quite a bit of radioactive thorium out of the earth at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Jamie, have you ever heard about Neodymium extraction?

Wind energy need 100-200 kg Neodymium per MW

jimwg said...

Re: "Total wind energy now equals 11 nuclear plants."

Do you REALLY want to tear down every hillside and blight seashores and farmland and countryside with these monstrous metal stalks just to achieve that small fraction of energy needed to power a nation? Examine why you loathe nuclear so much first before you sacrifice our precious scenic natural heritage.

James Greenidge
Queens NY

jeppen said...

Jamie, a small area in Japan needs to be evacuated for a few generations. Because of that, you feel that it's appropriate to risk an Anoxic event, ruining the Earth for us for hundreds of thousands of years?

Wind and solar continues to be just an alibi for coal and natural gas. Because of the intermittency of these power sources, they cannot dominate our grids, and this is evident by the slowing build-out in countries that reach some 15% wind. Nuclear, however, has been demonstrated by France to be a real solution, covering 80% of generation.

jimwg said...

Re: "Jamie, a small area in Japan needs to be evacuated for a few generations."

Always unasked is Based whose criteria? On radiation adverse Japanese officials so skittish that they'd confiscate a radium dial watch, or on cities so soaked with background radiation that the area outside Fukushima's gates would be a day in the arctic? It's no the "Forbidden Zone" of the Planet of The Apes! There's no reason they couldn't have reopened that area for habitation months ago. Have land values in that region sunk any? Heck, if they threw up their hands and told the world that Fukushima's a lost cause evacuated area and now available for free homesteading if you sign our wavier, there're not enough ships to truck the fresh population in!

James Greenidge
Queens NY

jeppen said...

jimwg, I'd agree in general, the exclusion zone seems to be way too big. However, the areas I was thinking of was the central area of the north-west oriented "plume" from Fukushima that's visible in radiation maps. I googled some now and saw a map supposed to be from february, where the central areas of the plume had readings in excess of 19 uSv/h one meter above the ground, which means >166 mSv per year.

Even though some people in very-high background radiation areas might receive a higher dose from background radiation, I wouldn't move in there with my kids just yet. Japan is large enough that people don't have to live in that small plume. However, I'd be happy to be convinced otherwise, if you have the info.

Anonymous said...

SO, NEI says " we're not climate scientists and don't take a position on the validity of research that has concluded that climate change is caused by human activity." But the organization thinks that the public and policy makers should listen to nuclear experts on nuclear science- even though they are not nuclear scientists, right? So, you are contributing to a political culture that doubts scientists in general- despite promoting consensus and peer reviewed facts on nuclear.

We can hang on to an outdated double-standard that hurts our best interest...or perhaps acknowledge the financial conflicts of interest the nuclear industry has with fossils and actively find ways to work around them...or we can just keep waltzing around the subject as our nuclear fleet gets pounded by climate change related weather that NEI keeps disingenuously calling "unprecedented." It's the new normal and we all know it.

Perhaps as an industry we should show the same respect to other scientific fields that we seek from the public and policy makers? Maybe even work together with the climate community to actually solve the problems at hand?! A revolutionary thought, I know...