Australian news, and some related international items

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2019 dispels the illusion of nuclear power as a fix for climate change

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2019.  (Picture at left is of cover of 2017 report) Tom Burke 8th Jan 2020,
At a time when truth is under systematic political attack and digital technologies are collapsing the public attention span, the publication of long data series such as the Nuclear Industry Status Report becomes
increasingly important.
The real world is not a headline; it does not have a half-life of 24 hours; in it there are real consequences for real people.
Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to dealing with nuclear issues where a loss of perspective, a failure of memory, a persistent illusion, can have catastrophic consequences. This remains true whether you arethinking about nuclear energy or nuclear weapons.
The illusion that nuclear energy offers the world a cornucopia of affordable and reliable electricity has been a persistent illusion for more than half a century. It has always been an expensive illusion. It is now becoming dangerous.
For the past two decades this Report has subject the nuclear industry’s fantasises and politicians illusions to the searchlight of hard data. They have not stood up well to the illumination. The failure of policy makers to make use of the evidence of nuclear futility provided by the Status Report has led to
high electricity costs for businesses and consumers; a massive waste of
public money; the unproductive diversion of scare engineering talent and
material resources and to an as yet uncounted cost for managing the
back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Wasteful as the nuclear illusion has been, and locally dangerous as we have seen at Chernobyl or Fukushima, these were risks we have been able to live with. However, the latest illusion to emanate from the nuclear industry is far more globally dangerous. This is the illusion the nuclear energy is necessary to prevent climate change. This is a truly dangerous illusion. Climate change poses a number of unique challenges to humanity.
One of the most difficult is that the world not only needs to get to a specific place – a carbon neutral global energy system – but it must also get there be a specific time – the middle of the century – otherwise the policy has failed.
The Nuclear Industry Status Report documents exactly why nuclear energy has no further part to play in dealing with climate change. You simply could not build enough nuclear reactors fast enough even to replace the existing reactors that will reach the end of their life by 2050 let alone to replace fossil
fuels in the existing electricity system and even more so for the more
electricity intensive global economy we are currently building.
Let me put that in context. Simply to replace the existing nuclear reactors we will use by 2050, the rate of reactor construction, which is falling, would need
to triple. To build enough to replace fossil fuels would be a global
project far bigger than the Manhattan Project or the us Moonshot.
This would be true even if you were willing and able to overcome all the other
unsolved problems that nuclear reactors face: affordability, accidents,
waste management, proliferation, special materials and talent scarcity and
system inflexibility. In the real world however, there will not be
unlimited capital and other resources available to deal with climate
change. And there is no time.
So, for climate policy to succeed, public
policy must adopt energy policies which can deliver the largest reduction
in carbon per year per pound invested. In the UK there is no conceivable
way in which any further investment in nuclear can meet this criterion.
Indeed, since, in the real world, there will not be unlimited capital for
energy investment, every further pound invested in nuclear power will delay
the achievement of the government’s net zero by 2050 goal. The Prime
Minister has begun a review of departmental spending. He is looking to
identify unnecessary or inappropriate projects. Cancelling the remainder of
the current nuclear programme would meet this goal admirably. It would also
free up resources for the manifesto commitment to energy efficiency that
would get both carbon emissions and energy bills down.

January 11, 2020 - Posted by | General News

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: