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February 18, 2007

Nuclear fuel will last a long time

One of the other lies and distortions resorted to by environmentalists like Herman Scheer is that there are only 50 years of Uranium reserves left.

From wikipedia: At the present use rate, there are 50 years left of known uranium-235 reserves at the current extraction price per kilogram. Given that the cost of fuel is a minor cost factor for fission power, more expensive, more difficult to extract sources of uranium could be used in the future. For example, doubling the price of uranium, which would have only little effect on the overall cost of nuclear power, would increase reserves to at least 200 years. To put this in perspective; a doubling in the cost of natural uranium would increase the total cost of nuclear power by 5%. On the other hand, if the price of natural gas was doubled, the cost of gas-fired power would increase by about 60%. Another alternative would be to use thorium as fission fuel. Thorium is three times more abundant in the Earth crust than uranium,[24] and much more of the thorium can be used (or, more precisely, converted into Uranium-233 and then used).

Current light water reactors burn the nuclear fuel poorly, leading to energy waste. Nuclear reprocessing or burning the fuel better using different reactor designs would reduce the amount of waste material generated and allow better use the available resources.

there are many reactor designs. The molten salt reactor has been built in the 1960's and 1970's and would be 99% efficient with the nuclear fuel

2 comments:

GerryWolff said...

Regarding "Nuclear fuel will last a long time" (2007-02-19), there is absolutely no need for nuclear power in anywhere in Europe because there is a simple mature technology that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.

I refer to 'concentrating solar power' (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and half a million Californians currently get their electricity from this source. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.

CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, there are not many of these in Europe! But it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity over very long distances using highly-efficient 'HVDC' transmission lines. With transmission losses at about 3% per 1000 km, solar electricity may, for example, be transmitted from North Africa to London with only about 10% loss of power. A large-scale HVDC transmission grid has also been proposed by the wind energy company Airtricity as a means of optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.

In the recent 'TRANS-CSP' report commissioned by the German government, it is estimated that CSP electricity, imported from North Africa and the Middle East, could become one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Europe, including the cost of transmission. That report shows in great detail how Europe can meet all its needs for electricity, make deep cuts in CO2 emissions, and phase out nuclear power at the same time.

Further information about CSP may be found at www.trec-uk.org.uk and www.trecers.net . Copies of the TRANS-CSP report may be downloaded from www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports.htm . The many problems associated with nuclear power are summarised at www.mng.org.uk/green_house/no_nukes.htm .

bw said...

As noted in the information provided at your links, the costs of concentrated solar power have been higher, but are "expected to tumble".
The california CSP
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deployment_of_solar_power_to_energy_grids
is 354 MW and is 90% of the commercial installations up to this point. That is 1000 times less than installed nuclear capacity. There are new deployments coming but they are in total maybe 2 GW over the next 10-15 years.
I wish this technology the best of luck but until it is helped to stop the production of new coal plants then I would rather see more nuclear power instead of new coal power. Get renewables of all kinds up to a global level of 200-400 GW per year of new capacity. For Europe it needs to be 40GW per year to meet new demand. If it was at 80GW per year then it could start to replace european coal usage over 20 years then it could start replacing nuclear.

The system that you are talking about for europe looks like 100GW by 2050 using 400 billion euros over 30 years.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Mediterranean_Renewable_Energy_Cooperation

The EU gets 13% of its power and a large fraction of its electricity from coal. 14% from nuclear.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/pdf/coal.pdf
Coal use in europe is projected to modestly increase in the case where current nuclear power stays in place.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/European_Union/Full.html
About

Electricity demand is projected to grow in europe by 52% by 2030 needing 761GW more capacity. Current plans is for 80% of that to come from gas. But Europe is planning to keep all of its coal power capacity and increase it by 5%
Even this most optimistic of alternative energy scenarios does not meet the increase demand with alternatives like wind.
http://www.ewea.org/fileadmin/ewea_documents/documents/publications/briefings/no_fuel_lo_res_72dpi.pdf
.