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The Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy

robert88robert88 Posts: 2,696
edited September 2019 in The cake stop
For example..

Why are we allowing the building of Hinkley Point C?

These are the pros:

It will probably produce electricity at some point in the future.

The public won't fund the construction.

These are the cons:
the construction costs will be paid for by the mainly state-owned EDF of France and state-owned CGN of China.

The National Audit Office estimates the additional cost to consumers (above the estimated market price of electricity) under the "strike price" will be £50 billion, which 'will continue to vary as the outlook for wholesale market prices shifts'.

It was reported that two firms could already build wind turbines for £57.50 per megawatt hour for 2022-23, while Hinkley's costs would mean £92.50 per megawatt hour, not generated for at least two years later.

According to Dieter Helm, professor of Energy Policy at the University of Oxford 'Hinkley Point C would have been roughly half the cost if the government had been borrowing the money to build it at 2%, rather than EDF's cost of capital, which was 9%."

[Theresa May's political adviser Nick Timothy ] warned that security experts are worried the Chinese could use their role in the programme (designing and constructing nuclear reactor) to build weaknesses into computer systems which allow them to shut down Britain's energy production at will and "...no amount of trade and investment should justify allowing a hostile state easy access to the country's critical national infrastructure."

On 23 June 2017 the National Audit Office published a report on Hinkley Point C. The conclusions were summarised as follows: "The Department has committed electricity consumers and taxpayers to a high cost and risky deal in a changing energy marketplace. Time will tell whether the deal represents value for money, but we cannot say the Department has maximised the chances that it will be." Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 23 June 2017.
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  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 20,756
    Robert88 wrote:
    For example..

    Why are we allowing the building of Hinkley Point C?

    These are the pros:

    It will probably produce electricity at some point in the future.

    The public won't fund the construction.

    These are the cons:
    the construction costs will be paid for by the mainly state-owned EDF of France and state-owned CGN of China.

    The National Audit Office estimates the additional cost to consumers (above the estimated market price of electricity) under the "strike price" will be £50 billion, which 'will continue to vary as the outlook for wholesale market prices shifts'.

    It was reported that two firms could already build wind turbines for £57.50 per megawatt hour for 2022-23, while Hinkley's costs would mean £92.50 per megawatt hour, not generated for at least two years later.

    According to Dieter Helm, professor of Energy Policy at the University of Oxford 'Hinkley Point C would have been roughly half the cost if the government had been borrowing the money to build it at 2%, rather than EDF's cost of capital, which was 9%."

    [Theresa May's political adviser Nick Timothy ] warned that security experts are worried the Chinese could use their role in the programme (designing and constructing nuclear reactor) to build weaknesses into computer systems which allow them to shut down Britain's energy production at will and "...no amount of trade and investment should justify allowing a hostile state easy access to the country's critical national infrastructure."

    On 23 June 2017 the National Audit Office published a report on Hinkley Point C. The conclusions were summarised as follows: "The Department has committed electricity consumers and taxpayers to a high cost and risky deal in a changing energy marketplace. Time will tell whether the deal represents value for money, but we cannot say the Department has maximised the chances that it will be." Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 23 June 2017.

    Quoting Nick Timothy on nuclear energy. Good to know we are going to the experts.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • robert88robert88 Posts: 2,696
    rjsterry wrote:
    Robert88 wrote:
    For example..

    Why are we allowing the building of Hinkley Point C?

    These are the pros:

    It will probably produce electricity at some point in the future.

    The public won't fund the construction.

    These are the cons:
    the construction costs will be paid for by the mainly state-owned EDF of France and state-owned CGN of China.

    The National Audit Office estimates the additional cost to consumers (above the estimated market price of electricity) under the "strike price" will be £50 billion, which 'will continue to vary as the outlook for wholesale market prices shifts'.

    It was reported that two firms could already build wind turbines for £57.50 per megawatt hour for 2022-23, while Hinkley's costs would mean £92.50 per megawatt hour, not generated for at least two years later.

    According to Dieter Helm, professor of Energy Policy at the University of Oxford 'Hinkley Point C would have been roughly half the cost if the government had been borrowing the money to build it at 2%, rather than EDF's cost of capital, which was 9%."

    [Theresa May's political adviser Nick Timothy ] warned that security experts are worried the Chinese could use their role in the programme (designing and constructing nuclear reactor) to build weaknesses into computer systems which allow them to shut down Britain's energy production at will and "...no amount of trade and investment should justify allowing a hostile state easy access to the country's critical national infrastructure."

    On 23 June 2017 the National Audit Office published a report on Hinkley Point C. The conclusions were summarised as follows: "The Department has committed electricity consumers and taxpayers to a high cost and risky deal in a changing energy marketplace. Time will tell whether the deal represents value for money, but we cannot say the Department has maximised the chances that it will be." Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 23 June 2017.

    Quoting Nick Timothy on nuclear energy. Good to know we are going to the experts.

    Do you think he is wrong?
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 20,756
    It's impossible to say from that article. I'd suggest the author should look for someone more qualified to comment.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • robert88robert88 Posts: 2,696
    Anyway, here is Chris Packham's take on the proposal to build two nuclear power stations on Suffolk's coast:

  • john80john80 Posts: 2,425
    Robert88 wrote:
    Anyway, here is Chris Packham's take on the proposal to build two nuclear power stations on Suffolk's coast:


    I would not get too worried as with the current Hinkley deal there is not many people lining up to bankroll this.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 14,066
    Not for a minute arguing in favour of Hinckley, but those numbers are not comparable. Hinckley is going to receive a 35 year CFD whereas the offshore wind sites mentioned will only get 15 years. Also, Hinckley will produce base load which will receive a different wholesale price on average to wind production - at the moment the spread is 10%, but that is set to rise.

    Arguments against Hinckley should at least argue in favour of something. The options are (i) some other carbon neutral baseload e.g. swansea tidal lagoon, geothermal (ii) renewables plus storage (iii) letting the private sector solve the problem (iv) ignoring carbon targets and using coal or CCGTs
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 20,756
    TheBigBean wrote:
    Not for a minute arguing in favour of Hinckley, but those numbers are not comparable. Hinckley is going to receive a 35 year CFD whereas the offshore wind sites mentioned will only get 15 years. Also, Hinckley will produce base load which will receive a different wholesale price on average to wind production - at the moment the spread is 10%, but that is set to rise.

    Arguments against Hinckley should at least argue in favour of something. The options are (i) some other carbon neutral baseload e.g. swansea tidal lagoon, geothermal (ii) renewables plus storage (iii) letting the private sector solve the problem (iv) ignoring carbon targets and using coal or CCGTs

    Indeed. The same mindset that's plaguing politics at the moment.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • surrey_commutersurrey_commuter Posts: 14,602
    Robert88 wrote:
    Anyway, here is Chris Packham's take on the proposal to build two nuclear power stations on Suffolk's coast:


    If you want to talk about Chris Packham can I suggest you start a new thread.
  • sungodsungod Posts: 13,779
    those pros/cons are political, not of nuclear energy per se

    to say "The public won't fund the construction" is simply untrue, recovery of construction costs is baked into the commercial model, the public will pay for it and much much more, it's simply that the capital costs won't be on the uk's public expenditure

    pfi and cooking the books for political ends hasn't worked well so far, i'd bet serious money that this will not be the exception

    decades of privatisation and lack of investment in civil nuclear energy have led to this farce

    i'm pro-nuclear power generation, but not this way
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 20,756
    Interesting charts here

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/six-charts- ... renewables

    The most gob-smacking thing in that link is that although fossil fuels provide over 80% of primary inputs, they only account for about half of useful electricity generated; the rest is lost in generation.

    More positively, total energy consumption is falling.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,614
    I don't know much about the pros and cons but from the little bit of work I've done for HPC I found the sheer scale of it fascinating. The temporary facilities and infrastructure put in would be massive Civils projects in their own right, there's buses running around the site 24/7 to get personnel from the terminus to their place of work, a couple of campuses providing restaurants and accommodation and a first aid area that is like a fully equipped A&E department.

    There is virtually no parking on site for Contractors and they have to use park & ride facilities (ANPR systems stop them driving to the site or parking in nearby areas and from memory they get paid to use the buses from places like Bristol instead of driving).

    A new harbour has been built so the kit can come in by boat as a lot of it just cannot fit down the roads even though there have been new bypasses built.

    The hole in the ground where the reactor was being constructed swallowed some huge cranes like toys.

    At one point I was shortlisted to become a project manager for the infrastructure on the two proposed Horizon power stations but I went elsewhere as they were dragging their heels and it now looks unlikely they'll go ahead. It would have been a fascinating role and would probably have seen me through to retirement. You certainly see where the money is going unlike something like Wembley Stadium.
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,614
    The thing that surprises me most is the UK government's refusal to fund major tidal power such as the proposed Swansea Bay barrage. In terms of clean, reliable power and creating energy security surely the absolute certainty of the tides is a no brainer? Yes, it would be expensive as it would require developing new and emerging technology but it feels like a massive missed opportunity to become world leaders and create a big export opportunity. I accept there would be potential environmental issues but surely they are no worse than fossil fuels and nuclear.
  • awaveyawavey Posts: 2,368
    Robert88 wrote:
    Anyway, here is Chris Packham's take on the proposal to build two nuclear power stations on Suffolk's coast:


    tbf I dont see that as an anti nuclear energy view, we already have Sizewell A and Sizewell B and most people in Suffolk have accepted them as part of the landscape around there, Sizewell B was built with great care for the local area and the RSPB reserve at Minsmere which is next door, Chris Packham presented Springwatch from there for many years.

    The plans for Sizewell C and D in effect, no they havent taken great care at all, they simply ignore all of that stuff, its like a Dubai construction site, just build it worry about the impact later, and so theyve dumped a something twice the size of the existing power stations and a construction site, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, whose whole beauty is in its isolation and cut off'dness from the rest of the world, with a onsite workforce that matches the size of pretty much all the nearest major population centres with 15-20miles, plus they expect at least 1500 lorry deliveries per day, the roads around there (which are great for cycling on btw its beautiful especially early morning you can literally feel like you are the only person in the world out there with the mist and natural habitat) are in no way scaled for that much traffic, the environmental impact will be huge and devestating for at least a decade during construction, and will irrevocably change it for the worse.
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 7,447
    Nuclear energy is quite safe, low pollution, very low CO2. The problem is, because of how it can go wrong, the public think it is dangerous and highly polluting and don't understand the rest.

    If we are all going to be using battery powered everything (setting aside any environmental issues with lithium mining) then you need to consider where all the energy is going to come from. CCS is possibly a dead end and not viable on a large scale at the moment, which rules out even the cleanest fossil fuels if you want to save the planet. If you grow stuff to turn into something combustible to generate electricity, you end up cutting down forests or compete with food generation to do it. Renewables are useful but can they really fill the breach left by fossil fuels? There is no current very large scale energy storage option anyway. Hydrogen requires electricity, back to square one.

    So if you conclude that nuclear is the only technology that can possibly generate enough electricity without warming the planet, and if you conclude that the volumes of waste are very low and can be treated to cause many of the long-lived isotopes to decay, or are satisfied that it can be stored for long enough securely enough to get round to that in time, then you probably approve of nuclear in principle.

    The question of where you put it is different. Somewhere coastal on the pacific ring of fire doesn't seem like a good idea to me. But somewhere very geologically stable like the UK or France should be fine. Then you are down to local politics.

    No one wants wind farms, power stations, f racking (which this forum thinks is a swear word if you type it correctly by the way - look "fracking"), new housing, HS2 or runways near where they live or where the play. So wherever it is proposed there will be a lot of opposition because the UK is so densely populated. Is Hinkley the least worst option? What about Cumbria? Depends who you ask.

    But it is far too simplistic if your premise is nuclear = bad, renewables = good.
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 4,588
    Nuclear is good but the decommissioning is obviously in its infancy.

    As with all these things, the more we do it, the better we get at it.
  • LagrangeLagrange Posts: 652
    I've always found the carbon neutral argument greatly support the case for nuclear and the waste disposal to be a con - con in both senses of the word. We use a lot of nuclear power which is generated in France and that will become end of life at some point. Also the dramas of getting fuel for the things which I think comes from places like Mali - and worse still Canada are better left to the French. So we do need to make our own power and nuclear is the way forward.

    Anyone care to hazard a guess at the number of power stations needed when cars go electric.
  • robert88robert88 Posts: 2,696
    Lagrange wrote:
    I've always found the carbon neutral argument greatly support the case for nuclear and the waste disposal to be a con - con in both senses of the word. We use a lot of nuclear power which is generated in France and that will become end of life at some point. Also the dramas of getting fuel for the things which I think comes from places like Mali - and worse still Canada are better left to the French. So we do need to make our own power and nuclear is the way forward.

    Anyone care to hazard a guess at the number of power stations needed when cars go electric.

    We should cycle more. We would get slimmer and faster Marathon runners as an added pay-off.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 14,066
    .

    If we are all going to be using battery powered everything (setting aside any environmental issues with lithium mining) then you need to consider where all the energy is going to come from. CCS is possibly a dead end and not viable on a large scale at the moment, which rules out even the cleanest fossil fuels if you want to save the planet. If you grow stuff to turn into something combustible to generate electricity, you end up cutting down forests or compete with food generation to do it. Renewables are useful but can they really fill the breach left by fossil fuels? There is no current very large scale energy storage option anyway. Hydrogen requires electricity, back to square one.
    .

    If everything is battery powered then the solution is simple* - renewables.

    There are proposals for large scale energy storage, but no one will invest in them due to uncertainty over returns.

    Hyrodgen can be made by electricity from renewable generation. It can then be used to power cars. This is currently not that cheap, but it is about to be subsidised.

    *there is still a problem if there is little to no wind/sun for three weeks.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 20,756
    CCS is possibly a dead end and not viable on a large scale at the moment, which rules out even the cleanest fossil fuels if you want to save the planet.

    Funnily enough I was reading about a new project to pump captured could back into an empty North Sea gas reservoir. It's being promoted by the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Ghent to offset their emissions. The numbers at first sound big until you compare them with the emissions from just those ports. It'll help, but it's only ever going to be part of a solution.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 7,447
    rjsterry wrote:
    CCS is possibly a dead end and not viable on a large scale at the moment, which rules out even the cleanest fossil fuels if you want to save the planet.

    Funnily enough I was reading about a new project to pump captured could back into an empty North Sea gas reservoir. It's being promoted by the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Ghent to offset their emissions. The numbers at first sound big until you compare them with the emissions from just those ports. It'll help, but it's only ever going to be part of a solution.
    Unless you accidentally acidify the ocean. The idea is that it mineralises eventually. Hopefully. Most of it.

    Renewables aren't the answer. The maths just doesn't work, not globally.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 14,066
    rjsterry wrote:
    CCS is possibly a dead end and not viable on a large scale at the moment, which rules out even the cleanest fossil fuels if you want to save the planet.

    Funnily enough I was reading about a new project to pump captured could back into an empty North Sea gas reservoir. It's being promoted by the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Ghent to offset their emissions. The numbers at first sound big until you compare them with the emissions from just those ports. It'll help, but it's only ever going to be part of a solution.
    Unless you accidentally acidify the ocean.

    Renewables aren't the answer. The maths just doesn't work, not globally.

    What maths is that?
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 20,756
    Unless you accidentally acidify the ocean. The idea is that it mineralises eventually. Hopefully. Most of it.

    We're already acidifying the oceans with atmospheric CO2. The reservoir in question is a couple of miles below the seabed if I remember correctly, and clearly it was capable of holding a large volume of gas for a considerable period of time. Of course it's not risk free, but nothing is.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • crumbschiefcrumbschief Posts: 3,399
    Yes even the shrimps are fed up and doing charlie,and they can't surf.
  • lesfirthlesfirth Posts: 1,204
    Lagrange wrote:
    I've always found the carbon neutral argument greatly support the case for nuclear and the waste disposal to be a con - con in both senses of the word. We use a lot of nuclear power which is generated in France and that will become end of life at some point. Also the dramas of getting fuel for the things which I think comes from places like Mali - and worse still Canada are better left to the French. So we do need to make our own power and nuclear is the way forward.

    Anyone care to hazard a guess at the number of power stations needed when cars go electric.

    I think it we will need a hell of a lot.

    Petrol, diesel and LPG used in cars and light vans , Govt. figure 30m tonnes a year.
    Energy in 1 tonne about 11,639 kw hrs.
    So energy used a year about 350,000 m kilowatt hrs.
    So energy use per hour ( 8760 hrs in a year) is about 40 m kilo watts i.e. 40 gigawatts.

    According to Gridwatch.co.uk at this moment in time the UK is using 32 gigawatts of which 3.196 are being generated by renewables and 6.4 by nuclear.

    Have I got that correct?
  • LagrangeLagrange Posts: 652
    My opinion YES.

    My (15yo) son - not quite...

    The fuel sold is in the tank and the electricity generated is not 'in the car'. You have to take in to account the difference in efficiency between electric and internal combustion engines and transmission losses.

    He said he can do an output based estimate but I told him to FO and finish his GCSE stuff. He'll post it tonight..
  • robert88robert88 Posts: 2,696
    The problem we all face is that the Internet is going to spread the idea that every one in the world should aspire to a western life style.

    That, coupled with population growth, is a recipe for disaster. The planet isn't big enough.

    Being able to produce ever increasing energy amounts, however you do it, is not going to solve that problem.
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 7,447
    TheBigBean wrote:
    rjsterry wrote:
    CCS is possibly a dead end and not viable on a large scale at the moment, which rules out even the cleanest fossil fuels if you want to save the planet.

    Funnily enough I was reading about a new project to pump captured could back into an empty North Sea gas reservoir. It's being promoted by the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Ghent to offset their emissions. The numbers at first sound big until you compare them with the emissions from just those ports. It'll help, but it's only ever going to be part of a solution.
    Unless you accidentally acidify the ocean.

    Renewables aren't the answer. The maths just doesn't work, not globally.

    What maths is that?
    The part where you have 7 billion of something multiplied by more or less the amount of energy the highest consuming 1 billion of us currently use.
  • lesfirthlesfirth Posts: 1,204
    Lagrange wrote:
    My opinion YES.

    My (15yo) son - not quite...

    The fuel sold is in the tank and the electricity generated is not 'in the car'. You have to take in to account the difference in efficiency between electric and internal combustion engines and transmission losses.

    He said he can do an output based estimate but I told him to FO and finish his GCSE stuff. He'll post it tonight..

    Your son has a valid point. I look forward to his answer. I think it could reduce my estimate of power generation needed by around 50%. What is half of a hell of a lot? It is still a hell of a lot.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 14,066
    TheBigBean wrote:
    rjsterry wrote:
    CCS is possibly a dead end and not viable on a large scale at the moment, which rules out even the cleanest fossil fuels if you want to save the planet.

    Funnily enough I was reading about a new project to pump captured could back into an empty North Sea gas reservoir. It's being promoted by the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Ghent to offset their emissions. The numbers at first sound big until you compare them with the emissions from just those ports. It'll help, but it's only ever going to be part of a solution.
    Unless you accidentally acidify the ocean.

    Renewables aren't the answer. The maths just doesn't work, not globally.

    What maths is that?
    The part where you have 7 billion of something multiplied by more or less the amount of energy the highest consuming 1 billion of us currently use.

    That sounds more like hand waving than robust maths.
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 7,447
    TheBigBean wrote:
    TheBigBean wrote:
    rjsterry wrote:
    CCS is possibly a dead end and not viable on a large scale at the moment, which rules out even the cleanest fossil fuels if you want to save the planet.

    Funnily enough I was reading about a new project to pump captured could back into an empty North Sea gas reservoir. It's being promoted by the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Ghent to offset their emissions. The numbers at first sound big until you compare them with the emissions from just those ports. It'll help, but it's only ever going to be part of a solution.
    Unless you accidentally acidify the ocean.

    Renewables aren't the answer. The maths just doesn't work, not globally.

    What maths is that?
    The part where you have 7 billion of something multiplied by more or less the amount of energy the highest consuming 1 billion of us currently use.

    That sounds more like hand waving than robust maths.
    whereas you are guilty of wishful thinking. We have more wind turbines than pretty much anywhere in the world and we are a very windy country. We generate 10% of our energy needs this way. There are 65 million of us. There are a billion Indians and a billion and a half Chinese. They are all just as entitled to electricity as I am. I'd love there to be a robust counter argument, but merely shooting off about not having statistics to quote isn't one.
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