Re: [SystemSafety] nuclear energy - disparate policies?

From: John Downer < >
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2013 13:59:31 -0400

Stepping back from questions of practicality for a second, I think it is equally important to remember the other side of the equation as well:

> Whilst people look with horror at the accidents in Nuclear plants what is the death
> and injury toll from coal oil and gas industries? I would suggest much
> higher, it is not just at the power plants but the obtaining the raw fuel to
> start with. A helicopter full of people was lost only a month or two ago
> in the North sea en route to an oil rig.

Tragic as the loss of a helicopter is, the official Japanese Diet report into Fukushima concluded that they genuinely came close to having to evacuate Tokyo, perhaps permanently. (ie: if the spent fuel pool above the ruined Unit 4 had drained and started to burn.) Something the (then) prime minister and other high-placed members of the Japanese cabinet have since reaffirmed repeatedly.

Let's set aside the (hugely contested) dangers of radiation and just focus on the economics. 35 million people live in Tokyo. It's a hub of the world economy. I don't want to sound hyperbolic but I struggle to imagine any coal, oil, gas or indeed helicopter accident that could even hope to touch a nuclear accident in terms of potential blowback.

Compared to this, the logistics of making renewables work seem like problems worth tackling.


ps: What about 'carbon-capture-and-storage' (ie: 'clean coal')? It's hugely expensive right now (about as much as nuclear, as I understand it), but it's had a fraction of nuclear's investment and it carries a fraction of the risks.

Dr. John Downer
Global Insecurities Centre.
School of Sociology Politics and International Studies (SPAIS). University of Bristol.

On Oct 29, 2013, at 1:07 PM, Jan Sanders <jsanders_at_xxxxxx

> Hello All,
> On 29.10.2013 17:25, Peter Bernard Ladkin wrote:

>> On 10/29/13 5:16 PM, Thierry.Coq_at_xxxxxx
>>> I wonder what will happen to Germany with 80% renewables on a very cold week in winter, with no sun and a high anticyclone. And if it were to last 10 or 15 days?
>> Batteries.
>> We'll be able to plug our electric cars into our houses and power them
>> until the sun comes out.

> I doubt that, even if there is enough storage capacity for 15 days or more in car batteries for the whole of Germany. - It would immobilize the electric car fleet.
> - You cannot force car owners to plug their car into the grid (Unless you formally declare a crisis, which has never been done in Germany. Enforcement is another problem.).
> - The German state is obliged to provide "Daseinsvorsorge". It means that the state has to make sure that all citizens receive basic public services. Electricity is a basic public service, others for example are drinking water, public transportation or health care. Most basic public services are provided by private companies, but the state is ultimately responsible. That is one of the tasks of German regulating offices for these basic public services.
> - Without the ability to reliably plug all the electric cars into the gird there is little alternative to keeping operational reserves. These may be batteries or pump-stations, but also fossil fuel powered plants.
> - "Daseinsvorsorge" means that you cannot leave people on their own (no car? no electricity!), so IMO on a "very cold week in winter, with no sun and a high anticyclone" the gas turbines will most likely be running.
>> Mitsubishi claims it can do two days already on a full charge. To the
>> power companies at the moment,
>> that is anathema; the grid infrastructure is not made for it and could
>> not cope. But that can change
>> too.

> The current aim improve German electricity grid infrastructure improvement (Engergiewende) aims at reducing the operational reserve. I would think that thousands of electic cars coming and going is not really going to reduce the need for operational reserve.
>> And insulation.
>> The family of my heating engineer lives in a house of which the
>> heating costs are (he claims) 100
>> per year. Biomass energy. And lots of conservation measures. It's not
>> for everyone - small rooms;
>> recirculated air through filters. But there are sixty-six years in
>> which to make it better.

> What about industry?
> Jan
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