Nuclear power for Australia

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jonescg
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Nuclear power for Australia

Post by jonescg »

I simply can't see it happening. For a number of reasons, but one that seems less obvious is the sheer enormity of the nuclear energy ecosystem.

This musing was inspired by a Youtube channel called Periodic Table of Videos, where a chemistry professor (Prof. Martyn Poliakoff) does really entertaining videos on the chemical and physical properties of various chemicals. They also do tours of scientific and research facilities, including this one of the nuclear research reactor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P99C051arMo Being a chemistry graduate myself I really recommend you set aside a few hours and enjoy these very entertaining and informative productions.

It struck me how resource intensive, and infrastructure intensive the entire nuclear industry is. From mining the ore to enriching the uranium isotopes, and the highly specific bits of equipment required to make the whole system function, let alone thrive...

And I thought, there is no way Australia could ever afford to dedicate so many resources to a nuclear energy ecosystem. The costs are astronomical, the skilled workers would be thin on the ground, and the time it takes to build all of them up, let alone get them to work seamlessly with each other.

And the suggestion that 'small modular reactors' are the solution is even more laughable - the concept of a small, barge-fitted reactor which can be towed from China, Russia or the USA to Australia and plugged into the grid. As the reactor cools down a replacement is towed in and it is swapped out. All seems good and well, and very expensive. Not to mention the reliance of our entire electricity network on an external nation state to produce reactors for us!

I think they are kidding themselves with these expensive, fanciful distractions...
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brunohill
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by brunohill »

Perhaps they should install a nuclear reactor in the area that I live as the local council has just rejected their 3rd application for a solar farm in the area based on environmental grounds??? ???
Council also claimed " The proposal would not produce a net community benefit or sustainable development for present or future generations".
We are so blessed to have such well informed leaders.
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

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Didn’t think councillors get party political donations?
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by brunohill »

Yeh, They're good. I had not heard of this one before... ...
Lake Island Effect: " The Lake Island Effect hypothesises that birds may mistake solar panels for water, causing them to be injured. The Tribunal questioned whether there is sufficient evidence to support the Lake Island Effect and decided in this case, the effect would be minimal."
I was wondering why I was always getting ducks stuck in my down pipes.

That is nearly as good as the fellow I heard interviewed on the ABC radio who concluded that he found no dead birds under the wind turbines because the farmer had trained the cows to eat them.
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jonescg
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

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brunohill wrote: Wed, 11 Mar 2020, 20:43 That is nearly as good as the fellow I heard interviewed on the ABC radio who concluded that he found no dead birds under the wind turbines because the farmer had trained the cows to eat them.
Ooooooookaaaaaay... :o
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by T1 Terry »

jonescg wrote: Wed, 11 Mar 2020, 21:25
brunohill wrote: Wed, 11 Mar 2020, 20:43 That is nearly as good as the fellow I heard interviewed on the ABC radio who concluded that he found no dead birds under the wind turbines because the farmer had trained the cows to eat them.
Ooooooookaaaaaay... :o
Must have been vegetarian duck ... or maybe vegan, then the vegetarian cows can eat them because they would be safe and free from harmful radicals, free or otherwise :roll:

Never let stupidity get in the way or wasting a shitte load of money on feasibility studies, Snowy 2.0 is a prime example. Anyone who has ever worked there could have told then straight up it could never be a reality and the construction costs would eat all of the surplus and the pollie pension fund (one is real, the other a figment of a treasurers imagination, see if you can pick which is which) yet they gave a few mates a bucket load of cash to write a fancy report that will get buried until it reaches the shredder ...... Do I sound a tad cynical about our govts future energy solving solutions? Buying ships full of CNG from overseas rather than telling their mates they can't keep shipping it out from Australia is clearly smart economic thinking ...

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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by Chuq »

This reminds me of something I read in the lead-up to Brexit; the UK is going to have to develop an entire nuclear safety/monitoring/maintenance standard and testing/certification process to support their nuclear power plants. They used EU-certified staff and processes before. We would have to do the same thing in Australia but start from scratch.

Whenever someone mentions nuclear I point out that even if it was agreed to build a nuclear power station tomorrow, we wouldn't see a single Wh of energy generated from nuclear in the next 10 years. To be honest there are many nuclear power plants overseas that have been under construction for at least that length of time, but it's make extra difficult due to the fact we would first have to create an industry - a highly regulated one - around it as well.
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jonescg
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by jonescg »

And with the current global economic downturn, I reckon the global flow of money will grind to a halt. About the only thing we can hope is that translates into a drop in emissions...
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by mikedufty »

Could possibly be done faster if we decided we needed to be self sufficient in nuclear weapons first, that seems to make a huge difference to funding and motivation and regulations.
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

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jonescg wrote: Thu, 12 Mar 2020, 16:06 And with the current global economic downturn, I reckon the global flow of money will grind to a halt. About the only thing we can hope is that translates into a drop in emissions...
That might effect the sales of Corona and slow the spread of the Corona Virus ...... just keeping up the bird eating cows theme :lol:

But seriously, as soon as someone figures how to sell sun light and wind, they will lobby the govt to go all out for wind and solar and after it is established and the public reliant on it, they will add an excise tax to bring it into world parity and so it brings in the same revenue as petrol and diesel does now. You think that sounds ridiculous, look at what they did with Autogas, a waste product from crude oil catalytic cracking at the refinery that produces very little carbon monoxide and a greatly reduced level of hydrocarbons when burnt, they taxed the hell out of it till no one was using it and killed the profit bit that kept the local refineries viable ..... Now we are expected to pay around $1/ltr for something they sold off shore at cents per ltr originally.

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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by praxidice »

Seriously, who in their right mind would trust **ANY** Australian politician (regardless of affiliation) or bureaucrat with nuclear anything ? It would only take an Aldi bag full of dollars for them to bypass any and all safeguards. The only way I'd support nuclear whatsits in this country is if they could only be built in the backyards of politicians with young families, and those properties could only ever be occupied by politicians with young families.
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by mikedufty »

We don't really have the geography to adopt the French "good neighbour" method https://twitter.com/terriblemaps/status ... 2447772672
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by SPanna »

In 2018 whilst riding a motorcycle across the border of Nth Thailand & Laos we came across what looked like the mother of all nuclear plants. The Thai government commissioned it in a partnership with Laos. Thai gets up to 75% Laos 25% of the power generated. French built & run. Fwd thinking by Thailand, they knew they needed cheap power to fuel their industrial revolution. As a bonus built in communist Laos so little to no red tape. It was eerie, due to the weather that day the steam rising off the cooling towers formed a huge mushroom cloud.
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by Adverse Effects »

i have little to know knowledge on this subject....

but i have no real problem with Nuclear power...

i do have a problem with the waste last i saw in a documentary that the wast is just barreled up and jammed in to old underground mines because they carnt do anything else with it.

is this correct? if it is as i said i have no problem with it but its after effect i do
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by rhills »

I have a pretty good grasp of the physics of nuclear fusion. I have also been, in a past life, privy to the results of detailed medical research into the effects of Nuclear Weapons blasts and Nuclear Power Station accidents.

Modern nuclear power stations have multiple layers of safety factors, redundancy. There are a lot of ducks that have to line up for an accident to happen.

That's the good news.

The less good news is that if/when all those ducks do line up, things go pear-shaped very quickly and your reactor can become a nuclear weapon. I think we're all pretty familiar with the effects of nuclear weapons.

Think of it like lotto. You buy one ticket and your chance of winning the big prize is tiny. But if you win, the consequences are huge! So, nuclear power stations are the same. The chances of the big prize are very small, but the consequences are enormous. But the prize is somewhat less entertaining than the one you win with lotto, unless you happen to be looking on from another planet!

So, I for one will never be convinced to buy a ticket in the Nuclear Power Station lottery. There are safer, and now cheaper, ways to generate power cleanly.
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jonescg
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

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I have certainly toned down my opposition to nuclear electricity generation over the years. My position now is that if you were already a nuclear nation, don't stop using it! It's the best way to generate bulk quantities of electricity with very few CO2 emissions attached to it.
But in Australia where we have a very peaky load profile, an abundance of cheaper, environmentally and socially benign renewable resources, along with the aforementioned lack of engineering ecosystem to make it happen, and finally the astronomical cost of producing a single 500 MW reactor let alone running it; it would be madness to pursue at this stage.
It was madness to pursue it 40 years ago too based on the very reasonable concerns about nuclear war.
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by Chuq »

Well said @jonescg @rhills!

Another issue, that I've heard became an issue in the UK after Brexit, is setting up the legal and logistical framework that surrounds nuclear power - the need for qualified and certified technical staff, security staff, writing the policies and ensuring said policies are adhered to (yes, it's administrative stuff, but admittedly it's pretty important that things are done correctly). This was all handled by an EU wide group, meaning the constituent nations didn't need to worry about it. When the UK split off they realised they would need to do all this themselves. They would need to set up and operate their own training and certification programs for staff who would be working in and around the stations, for example.

Australia would be the same. We wouldn't just be building a power station - we'd be developing a brand new industry which would need need very strict policies/processes, and all the overhead that goes along with it.
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by nuggetgalore »

jonescg wrote: Sun, 17 Jan 2021, 19:35 I have certainly toned down my opposition to nuclear electricity generation over the years. My position now is that if you were already a nuclear nation, don't stop using it! It's the best way to generate bulk quantities of electricity with very few CO2 emissions attached to it.
But in Australia where we have a very peaky load profile, an abundance of cheaper, environmentally and socially benign renewable resources, along with the aforementioned lack of engineering ecosystem to make it happen, and finally the astronomical cost of producing a single 500 MW reactor let alone running it; it would be madness to pursue at this stage.
It was madness to pursue it 40 years ago too based on the very reasonable concerns about nuclear war.
Disclaimer:I am Swiss and migrated to Oz in 1966.
At the time the Swiss nuclear industry attempted to build the sixth nuclear powerstation in tiny switzerland ,opposition to that project (NIMBY yes but with good reason) grew and actually prevented it.During this time I learned a fair bit about safety and cost regarding this industry.
The most impressive fact is/was that no human enterprise in history has spent such a huge proportion of the cost on security and safety !
While that is quite true, I came to the conclusion that no matter how much is spent on safety, if it is not safe it is not safe (and that of course includes storage of the waste,sabotage etc etc).
It reminded me of the Titanic.Unsinkable TITANIC. The life boat capacity etc was built to a very complicated set of rules, even though some boats were removed for stupid reasons , there was still enough to satisfy the rules and regulations. But one simple fact was overlooked that has subsequently been enforced on every ship and airplane : the very very simple rule of a spot on a life raft (or life vest ) for ALL on board!
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Re: Nuclear power for Australia

Post by whimpurinter »

...and the people who get into Government through a small number of electorates protecting very few jobs, income that was created during a different Government or who will have some facilities promised after the election was called, don't care that that Government is not about announcing what they will do (if they do anything) but about making sure they don't announce anything that the voters might be unhappy about.

The Government is all about small government which usually means few Government employees with oversight based on the idea that 'we'll get you after the event if you do the 'wrong' thing, partly depending on who you are, of course , minimum 'red tape' which translates to a light-weight social conscience and a 3 year vision.

As you've said, nuclear creates a distressing mess which is prohibitively expensive and where there is no rigorous control over removal of that mess when it is no longer considered profitable enough for whoever collected the money in the meantime. And where to leave the byproduct of that mess....
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