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Greenpeace co-founder explains why he's in favor of nuclear power.

Old 04-16-06, 12:32 PM
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Greenpeace co-founder explains why he's in favor of nuclear power.

I agree with this.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...041401209.html

Going Nuclear

A Green Makes the Case

By Patrick Moore

Sunday, April 16, 2006; Page B01

In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That's the conviction that inspired Greenpeace's first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.

Look at it this way: More than 600 coal-fired electric plants in the United States produce 36 percent of U.S. emissions -- or nearly 10 percent of global emissions -- of CO2, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can do so safely.

I say that guardedly, of course, just days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that his country had enriched uranium. "The nuclear technology is only for the purpose of peace and nothing else," he said. But there is widespread speculation that, even though the process is ostensibly dedicated to producing electricity, it is in fact a cover for building nuclear weapons.

And although I don't want to underestimate the very real dangers of nuclear technology in the hands of rogue states, we cannot simply ban every technology that is dangerous. That was the all-or-nothing mentality at the height of the Cold War, when anything nuclear seemed to spell doom for humanity and the environment. In 1979, Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon produced a frisson of fear with their starring roles in "The China Syndrome," a fictional evocation of nuclear disaster in which a reactor meltdown threatens a city's survival. Less than two weeks after the blockbuster film opened, a reactor core meltdown at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear power plant sent shivers of very real anguish throughout the country.

What nobody noticed at the time, though, was that Three Mile Island was in fact a success story: The concrete containment structure did just what it was designed to do -- prevent radiation from escaping into the environment. And although the reactor itself was crippled, there was no injury or death among nuclear workers or nearby residents. Three Mile Island was the only serious accident in the history of nuclear energy generation in the United States, but it was enough to scare us away from further developing the technology: There hasn't been a nuclear plant ordered up since then.

Today, there are 103 nuclear reactors quietly delivering just 20 percent of America's electricity. Eighty percent of the people living within 10 miles of these plants approve of them (that's not including the nuclear workers). Although I don't live near a nuclear plant, I am now squarely in their camp.

And I am not alone among seasoned environmental activists in changing my mind on this subject. British atmospheric scientist James Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory, believes that nuclear energy is the only way to avoid catastrophic climate change. Stewart Brand, founder of the "Whole Earth Catalog," says the environmental movement must embrace nuclear energy to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. On occasion, such opinions have been met with excommunication from the anti-nuclear priesthood: The late British Bishop Hugh Montefiore, founder and director of Friends of the Earth, was forced to resign from the group's board after he wrote a pro-nuclear article in a church newsletter.

There are signs of a new willingness to listen, though, even among the staunchest anti-nuclear campaigners. When I attended the Kyoto climate meeting in Montreal last December, I spoke to a packed house on the question of a sustainable energy future. I argued that the only way to reduce fossil fuel emissions from electrical production is through an aggressive program of renewable energy sources (hydroelectric, geothermal heat pumps, wind, etc.) plus nuclear. The Greenpeace spokesperson was first at the mike for the question period, and I expected a tongue-lashing. Instead, he began by saying he agreed with much of what I said -- not the nuclear bit, of course, but there was a clear feeling that all options must be explored.

Here's why: Wind and solar power have their place, but because they are intermittent and unpredictable they simply can't replace big baseload plants such as coal, nuclear and hydroelectric. Natural gas, a fossil fuel, is too expensive already, and its price is too volatile to risk building big baseload plants. Given that hydroelectric resources are built pretty much to capacity, nuclear is, by elimination, the only viable substitute for coal. It's that simple.

That's not to say that there aren't real problems -- as well as various myths -- associated with nuclear energy. Each concern deserves careful consideration:

Nuclear energy is expensive. It is in fact one of the least expensive energy sources. In 2004, the average cost of producing nuclear energy in the United States was less than two cents per kilowatt-hour, comparable with coal and hydroelectric. Advances in technology will bring the cost down further in the future.

Nuclear plants are not safe. Although Three Mile Island was a success story, the accident at Chernobyl, 20 years ago this month, was not. But Chernobyl was an accident waiting to happen. This early model of Soviet reactor had no containment vessel, was an inherently bad design and its operators literally blew it up. The multi-agency U.N. Chernobyl Forum reported last year that 56 deaths could be directly attributed to the accident, most of those from radiation or burns suffered while fighting the fire. Tragic as those deaths were, they pale in comparison to the more than 5,000 coal-mining deaths that occur worldwide every year. No one has died of a radiation-related accident in the history of the U.S. civilian nuclear reactor program. (And although hundreds of uranium mine workers did die from radiation exposure underground in the early years of that industry, that problem was long ago corrected.)

Nuclear waste will be dangerous for thousands of years. Within 40 years, used fuel has less than one-thousandth of the radioactivity it had when it was removed from the reactor. And it is incorrect to call it waste, because 95 percent of the potential energy is still contained in the used fuel after the first cycle. Now that the United States has removed the ban on recycling used fuel, it will be possible to use that energy and to greatly reduce the amount of waste that needs treatment and disposal. Last month, Japan joined France, Britain and Russia in the nuclear-fuel-recycling business. The United States will not be far behind.

Nuclear reactors are vulnerable to terrorist attack. The six-feet-thick reinforced concrete containment vessel protects the contents from the outside as well as the inside. And even if a jumbo jet did crash into a reactor and breach the containment, the reactor would not explode. There are many types of facilities that are far more vulnerable, including liquid natural gas plants, chemical plants and numerous political targets.

Nuclear fuel can be diverted to make nuclear weapons. This is the most serious issue associated with nuclear energy and the most difficult to address, as the example of Iran shows. But just because nuclear technology can be put to evil purposes is not an argument to ban its use.

Over the past 20 years, one of the simplest tools -- the machete -- has been used to kill more than a million people in Africa, far more than were killed in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings combined. What are car bombs made of? Diesel oil, fertilizer and cars. If we banned everything that can be used to kill people, we would never have harnessed fire.

The only practical approach to the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation is to put it higher on the international agenda and to use diplomacy and, where necessary, force to prevent countries or terrorists from using nuclear materials for destructive ends. And new technologies such as the reprocessing system recently introduced in Japan (in which the plutonium is never separated from the uranium) can make it much more difficult for terrorists or rogue states to use civilian materials to manufacture weapons.

The 600-plus coal-fired plants emit nearly 2 billion tons of CO2annually -- the equivalent of the exhaust from about 300 million automobiles. In addition, the Clean Air Council reports that coal plants are responsible for 64 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 26 percent of nitrous oxides and 33 percent of mercury emissions. These pollutants are eroding the health of our environment, producing acid rain, smog, respiratory illness and mercury contamination.

Meanwhile, the 103 nuclear plants operating in the United States effectively avoid the release of 700 million tons of CO2 emissions annually -- the equivalent of the exhaust from more than 100 million automobiles. Imagine if the ratio of coal to nuclear were reversed so that only 20 percent of our electricity was generated from coal and 60 percent from nuclear. This would go a long way toward cleaning the air and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Every responsible environmentalist should support a move in that direction.


Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, is chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. He and Christine Todd Whitman are co-chairs of a new industry-funded initiative, the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, which supports increased use of nuclear energy.
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Old 04-16-06, 12:39 PM
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Old 04-16-06, 12:53 PM
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I am deeply disturbed that I agree with it, too. Who'd have thought.

I'm not sure CO2 is the unmitigated evil he makes it out to be, but I agree on all the points. Nuclear energy is a lot cleaner than coal in terms of SO2, NOx, mercury and other criteria pollutants, and wind/solar won't cut it for mainstream amounts of power.
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Old 04-16-06, 01:20 PM
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Well duh!

Though it's funny how one chicken little scenario caused him to change his opinion on another chicken little scenario. He should spend some more time thinking about the other emissions of coal plants (they release more radioactivity than a nuclear power plant ever will http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/...t/colmain.html) and why it would be a good idea to not rely so heavily on fossil fuels.
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Old 04-16-06, 01:30 PM
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Well I guess there's one less idiot who will chain themselves to a reactor. Good for him!
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Old 04-16-06, 01:41 PM
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I'm all for nuclear (or nukuler, if you're the president) power.
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Old 04-16-06, 03:19 PM
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Wind and solar power have their place, but because they are intermittent and unpredictable they simply can't replace big baseload plants such as coal, nuclear and hydroelectric.
Currently, this is very true, but that may change shortly. In theory, if you were able to build a big enough capacitor the unpredictability of solar and wind power would become a non-issue. Throw a big enough cap in the line and all that matters is average power-in vs average power-out. When the sun and wind produce, the cap charges up, and when it's dark and calm it slowly discharges.

Interestingly enough, leaps and bounds are currently being made in capacitor storage capacity thanks to the rapidly developing field of nanotechnology. The capcity of a capacitor is very directly related to how much surface area you can cram into it, and nano-structures like nano-tubes are literally revolutionizing the field. It's quite possible that, within a few years, we'll be using nanotube capacitors in our cell-phones and other portable gadgets instead of chemical cells or fuel cells.

On a larger scale, such capacitors might finally make electric cars practical. Currently, you need a hybrid gas-electric power plant to get more than a hundred clicks of range. Ultimately, although I really don't know if nanotech will be revolutionary enough, they might even allow for practical capacitors of the size needed to smooth out the hills and valleys of wind and solar power.
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Old 04-16-06, 03:55 PM
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Just sell the wind or solar power to a utility. They become your capacitor.
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Old 04-16-06, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by X
Just sell the wind or solar power to a utility. They become your capacitor.
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Old 04-16-06, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
I'm not sure CO2 is the unmitigated evil he makes it out to be, but I agree on all the points. Nuclear energy is a lot cleaner than coal in terms of SO2, NOx, mercury and other criteria pollutants, and wind/solar won't cut it for mainstream amounts of power.
Originally Posted by X
Though it's funny how one chicken little scenario caused him to change his opinion on another chicken little scenario. He should spend some more time thinking about the other emissions of coal plants (they release more radioactivity than a nuclear power plant ever will http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/...t/colmain.html) and why it would be a good idea to not rely so heavily on fossil fuels.
I see how it could be inferred from the article that Moore thinks human CO2 emissions are particularly bad and he probably should have chosen his words more carefully since he does not think so. I think what he is doing is acknowledging that nuclear plants do not emit the CO2 of coal-fired plants and saying that is a reason those who do think the CO2 emissions are so terrible should support nuclear power.

http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.as...20051208a.html

Former Greenpeace Co-Founder Praises US for Rejecting Kyoto
By Marc Morano
CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
December 08, 2005

Montreal (CNSNews.com) - A founding member of Greenpeace, who left the organization because he viewed it as too radical, praised the United States for refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

"At least the [United] States is honest. [The U.S.] said, 'No we are not going to sign that thing (Kyoto) because we can't do that,'" said Patrick Moore, who is attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal.

Moore noted that many of the industrialized nations that ratified the treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions are now failing to comply with those emission limits. Moore, who currently heads the Canadian-based environmental advocacy group Greenspirit Strategies helped found both Greenpeace in 1971 and Greenpeace International in 1979.

"Canada signed [Kyoto] and said, 'Oh yeah, we can do that,' and then it merrily goes on its way to increase CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions by even more than the U.S.," Moore told Cybercast News Service.

Other industrialized nations -- including Japan and at least 11 of the 15 European Union nations that ratified Kyoto -- are struggling to meet their emission targets.

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, many organizations attending the Climate Change Conference have declared the Kyoto Protocol "dead" because of the signatories' lack of compliance. The treaty establishes a 2012 goal of having top industrialized nations cut their industrial emissions 5.2 percent below the level that was produced in 1990.

"I think this whole Kyoto process is a colossal waste of time and money," said Moore, who rejects alarmist predictions of human-caused "global warming."

The U.N.'s 11th Annual Climate Change Conference in Montreal failed to impress Moore, who is there to promote nuclear energy.

"There is nothing concrete going on here. There is nothing good happening here as far as I can see. [The participants at the U.N. conference are] just spending a whole pile of money and arguing and talking," he added.

Moore also slammed the movement he helped found, accusing today's environmental groups of being co-opted by the political Left.

"The Left figures it owns the environmental movement and that has corrupted the movement greatly," Moore said. "The [left-wing] influence has brought great dysfunction into the environmental movement. [It's turned it into] an elitist movement."

Moore said he decided to leave Greenpeace in 1986 after the group became too radical and he could "no longer agree with the policies that were being espoused."

The final straw, according to Moore, came when he failed to persuade Greenpeace to abandon its campaign to ban chlorine worldwide.

"I pointed out that chlorine was the main element used in our medicine and adding it to drinking water was the biggest advance in public health in human history," Moore said. "[My argument] just fell on deaf ears. [Greenpeace] didn't care about any of that because a global chlorine ban was a good campaign [for them]."

Even though he was a pioneer of the movement, liberal environmentalists spare no criticism of Moore, frequently referring to him as a "traitor" and an "Eco-Judas."

Moore dismissed the criticism and asserted that the green movement has steered off course from its original mission.

"I think it's in a dismal state -- I think almost across the board, whether it's in energy policy or agriculture policy regarding their zero tolerance on GM [genetically modified foods] or in forestry policy," Moore said.
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Old 04-16-06, 04:59 PM
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I think what we'll see very soon are a new generation of nuclear reactors that doesn't have the big downsides of older reactors.

Between new reactor designs that create their own fuel and pebble-bed reactors that are just about impossible to meltdown, small wonder why GE is working on getting a test reactor up and going by 2012.
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Old 04-16-06, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by movielib
I see how it could be inferred from the article that Moore thinks human CO2 emissions are particularly bad and he probably should have chosen his words more carefully since he does not think so. I think what he is doing is acknowledging that nuclear plants do not emit the CO2 of coal-fired plants and saying that is a reason those who do think the CO2 emissions are so terrible should support nuclear power.
I would agree with that. I even agree that CO2 is a reasonably useful surrogate for "we are using up our fossil fuel resources at a prodigious rate."

We have plenty of coal, but no great "clean coal" technology. We are exhausting gas and oil pretty fast. We don't need to panic in the next decade, but in 40-80 years, not much will be left, and it won't be very affordable. We'll be down to nuclear, and "clean coal." Maybe fusion will work by then.

I hold out little hope for the other pipedreams.
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Old 04-16-06, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by movielib
I see how it could be inferred from the article that Moore thinks human CO2 emissions are particularly bad and he probably should have chosen his words more carefully since he does not think so. I think what he is doing is acknowledging that nuclear plants do not emit the CO2 of coal-fired plants and saying that is a reason those who do think the CO2 emissions are so terrible should support nuclear power.[/url]
The bolded statements certainly made it look like he was concerned with CO2. Perhaps he's preaching to the choir in the only terms they are able to understand.
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Old 04-16-06, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by X
The bolded statements certainly made it look like he was concerned with CO2. Perhaps he's preaching to the choir in the only terms they are able to understand.
I don't think he CAN preach to the choir. I hadn't read all of movielib's 2nd article. He left Greenpeace in 1986. He's like an environmental atheist. As far as they are concerned, he has lost the faith, and walks on the dark side.
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Old 04-16-06, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
I don't think he CAN preach to the choir. I hadn't read all of movielib's 2nd article. He left Greenpeace in 1986. He's like an environmental atheist. As far as they are concerned, he has lost the faith, and walks on the dark side.
Which is why Penn & Teller (Moore was featured on the Environmental Hysteria episode) and some of us like him so much.
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Old 04-16-06, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by X
Just sell the wind or solar power to a utility. They become your capacitor.
Problem is, if that utility is already relying on solar or wind power for a significant portion of their generation themselves, your power will only be avaiable when they have all they need, ergo, they won't want to buy unless they can store it and release it on demand.

Think of solar/wind power as coming from a big river that comes from the mountains. It rages some days and drys up on other days. The power utility uses some water from the river, but due to it's unreliability most of their water comes from wells. If you said, "Hey, why don't you pay me for the water from my creek that comes from the river", they'd just laugh. Now, if you build a reservoir it becomes an entirely different matter...
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Old 04-16-06, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Nutter
Problem is, if that utility is already relying on solar or wind power for a significant portion of their generation themselves, your power will only be avaiable when they have all they need, ergo, they won't want to buy unless they can store it and release it on demand.
I'd be interested in knowing the name of a utility that relies on those sources for a significant portion of their generation.

When you generate power and sell it to the utility all it means is that the utility generates or buys less power off the grid from commercial energy producers during the day, and generates or buys more from them during the night. Also, not everybody on the grid has sun or wind at the same time.

If the utility has an excess of power during the day they can sell it on the grid. And if they have a large enough, reliable source of home-generated power they or thier suppliers will decommission inefficient plants that aren't needed for the heavier daytime requirements. (More realistically, they just won't build new plants as demand keeps increasing.)

Perhaps in the future if utilities depend on solar for a larger portion of their generated power this will change and they'll have to think more about storage. Some utilities that use hydro already do store excess power in the form of pumping water back upstream. We'll have to see how the capacitors work out to see if that fits into the scheme.
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Old 04-17-06, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by X
I'd be interested in knowing the name of a utility that relies on those sources for a significant portion of their generation.

When you generate power and sell it to the utility all it means is that the utility generates or buys less power off the grid from commercial energy producers during the day, and generates or buys more from them during the night. Also, not everybody on the grid has sun or wind at the same time.

If the utility has an excess of power during the day they can sell it on the grid. And if they have a large enough, reliable source of home-generated power they or thier suppliers will decommission inefficient plants that aren't needed for the heavier daytime requirements. (More realistically, they just won't build new plants as demand keeps increasing.)

Perhaps in the future if utilities depend on solar for a larger portion of their generated power this will change and they'll have to think more about storage. Some utilities that use hydro already do store excess power in the form of pumping water back upstream. We'll have to see how the capacitors work out to see if that fits into the scheme.
Solar and wind power make a lot of sense for an end consumer because compared to an industrial site, they do not pull a lot of energy compared to, say, the surface area of their roof they could stick solar panels on. A utility company that was enterprising could rent or lease, or sell and install solar equipment to a consumer and profit off of the installation and maintenance while the consumer gets the benefit of reduced electrical bills.

Large scale power production would still be needed for our commercial, utility, and industrial infrastructure. I would love to see heavy reliance on nuclear power instead of fossil fuels. I agree with the OP article in that people are far more unreasonably scared of Nuke plants than they should be, given the various problems inheirent in the fossil fuel industry. (pollution, foreign dependence, environmental exploitation, mining hazards, etc.)

One thing to realize though is that nuclear power currently isn't a renewable resource either, as there will only be a finite amount of uranium to use in the crust. However, increasing R&D and infrastructure in nuclear power will increase the odds that someone will find the fusion holy grail in our lifetimes.
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Old 04-17-06, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Holy Jackson
One thing to realize though is that nuclear power currently isn't a renewable resource either, as there will only be a finite amount of uranium to use in the crust.


You are mistaken.

Nuclear energy is just as renewable as solar energy.


http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/cohen.html

Facts from Cohen and others

How long will nuclear energy last?

Nuclear energy, assuming breeder reactors, will last for several billion years, i.e. as long as the sun is in a state to support life on earth.

Here are the basic facts.

1. In 1983, uranium cost $40 per pound. The known uranium reserves at that price would suffice for light water reactors for a few tens of years. Since then more rich uranium deposits have been discovered including a very big one in Canada. At $40 per pound, uranium contributes about 0.2 cents per kwh to the cost of electricity. (Electricity retails between 5 cents and 10 cents per kwh in the U.S.)

2. Breeder reactors use uranium more than 100 times as efficiently as the current light water reactors. Hence much more expensive uranium can be used. At $1,000 per pound, uranium would contribute only 0.03 cents per kwh, i.e. less than one percent of the cost of electricity. At that price, the fuel cost would correspond to gasoline priced at half a cent per gallon.

3. How much uranium is available at $1,000 per pound?

There is plenty in the Conway granites of New England and in shales in Tennessee, but Cohen decided to concentrate on uranium extracted from seawater - presumably in order to keep the calculations simple and certain. Cohen (see the references in his article) considers it certain that uranium can be extracted from seawater at less than $1000 per pound and considers $200-400 per pound the best estimate.

In terms of fuel cost per million BTU, he gives (uranium at $400 per pound 1.1 cents , coal $1.25, OPEC oil $5.70, natural gas $3-4.)

4. How much uranium is there in seawater?

Seawater contains 3.3x10^(-9) (3.3 parts per billion) of uranium, so the 1.4x10^18 tonne of seawater contains 4.6x10^9 tonne of uranium. All the world's electricity usage, 650GWe could therefore be supplied by the uranium in seawater for 7 million years.

5. However, rivers bring more uranium into the sea all the time, in fact 3.2x10^4 tonne per year.

6. Cohen calculates that we could take 16,000 tonne per year of uranium from seawater, which would supply 25 times the world's present electricity usage and twice the world's present total energy consumption. He argues that given the geological cycles of erosion, subduction and uplift, the supply would last for 5 billion years with a withdrawal rate of 6,500 tonne per year. The crust contains 6.5x10^13 tonne of uranium.

7. He comments that lasting 5 billion years, i.e. longer than the sun will support life on earth, should cause uranium to be considered a renewable resource.

8. Here's a Japanese site discussing extracting uranium from seawater.

Comments:

* Cohen neglects decay of the uranium. Since uranium has a half-life of 4.46 billion years, about half will have decayed by his postulated 5 billion years.

* He didn't mention thorium, also usable in breeders. There is 4 times as much in the earth's crust as there is uranium. There's less thorium in seawater than there is uranium.

* He did mention fusion, but remarks that it hasn't been developed yet. He has certainly provided us plenty of time to develop it.

The main point to be derived from Cohen's article is that energy is not a problem even in the very long run. In particular, energy intensive solutions to other human problems are entirely acceptable.
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Old 04-17-06, 07:04 PM
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Cool!
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Old 04-17-06, 07:14 PM
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Sounds reasonable to me. People are unreasonably scared of nuclear power from a few isolated incidents. That's how people work, though.

It's way cleaner than burning coal and most likely less hurtful to the environment.

The only issue being storage of the nuclear waste...but that's manageable IMO.
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Old 04-17-06, 07:28 PM
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More people die from drunk drivers than nuclear accidents. But don't tell smart intelligent people this. They will see through the lies!
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Old 04-17-06, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by X
I'd be interested in knowing the name of a utility that relies on those sources for a significant portion of their generation.
That's part of my point. The inability to efficiently store solar and wind generated power is why no grid can rely on them for more than a small portion of their total power. They have to have other sources on stand-by that can be ramped up when needed.

When you generate power and sell it to the utility all it means is that the utility generates or buys less power off the grid from commercial energy producers during the day, and generates or buys more from them during the night. Also, not everybody on the grid has sun or wind at the same time.
This model works if other sources of energy are the primary ones. If solar and wind-power are ever to be relied upon for more than a small portion of total power generation, efficient storage is necessary.

If the utility has an excess of power during the day they can sell it on the grid. And if they have a large enough, reliable source of home-generated power they or thier suppliers will decommission inefficient plants that aren't needed for the heavier daytime requirements. (More realistically, they just won't build new plants as demand keeps increasing.)
Adding large ammounts of solar and wind generation capacity doesn't reduce the conventional capacity required by much. Having rolling black-outs whenever there's an overcast and calm day is not a good idea. A major part of the cost of solar and wind-power is the redundant generation capacity currently required to make up for the inability to efficiently store power.

Perhaps in the future if utilities depend on solar for a larger portion of their generated power this will change and they'll have to think more about storage. Some utilities that use hydro already do store excess power in the form of pumping water back upstream. We'll have to see how the capacitors work out to see if that fits into the scheme.
Perhaps this is a chicken-and-the-egg debate. Power utilities can't rely on solar or wind for a large portion of their power output without having large ammounts of redundant generation capacity or efficient storage. However, if there aren't large ammounts of solar and wind power available waiting to be bought, there's no stimulus driving power utilities to come up with ways of storing that power. I suppose it's probably just a matter of solar and wind-power as well as storage becoming cheap enough to compete directly with fossil fuels and nuclear power. New capacitor technologies may change that, but probably not quickly. Nuclear power, by comparison, is a proven technology and is ready to pick up the slack today.
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Old 04-17-06, 09:22 PM
  #24  
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You know if the Greenies eventually come to the conclusion that nuclear power is going to help the environment overall, I think that's a good thing. They may well get there eventually. Keep your fingers crossed.
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