The whole point of renewable energy is that it is clean. And, for sure, the major fuels – sun and wind – are undoubtedly clean. However, renewable energy does require some components – rare earths – that certainly have a dirty radioactive history, and may still have a dirty radioactive present.
China is now controlling rare earths’ production in a cleaner way. but it would be naïve and simplistic to assume that its pollution problems have completely gone away.
Meanwhile Australian companies, too, are mining and processing rare earths. Lynas, in Malaysia, has had a history pf inadequate management of radioactive wastes, but now has improved its practices. https://www.lynascorp.com/Pages/Environment.aspx. Greenland Minerals and Energy, about to mine rare earths in Greenland, is criticised for unsatisfactory planning for its radioactive waste tailings. http://arcticjournal.com/oil-minerals/1583/uranium-opponents-look-other-sectors-job-growth.
3 main approaches are being taken to this problem:
Design for recycling. This is particularly appropriate for wind turbines.
Reduction in consumption of rare earths . This is not applicable to renewable energy, but rather to the rampant and wasteful consumption of modern electronic gadgets – often unnecessary, all too often a part of our throwaway culture. http://chinawaterrisk.org/resources/analysis-reviews/can-we-build-a-clean-smart-future-on-toxic-rare-earths/
Design for green technologies that don’t require rare earths
Of course, like all modern industrial technologies, mining and manufacture and transport of renewables do mean environmental disturbance. But this is a balancing act, considering the environmental benefits of renewable energy.
The nuclear lobby pretends that renewable energy is environmentally dirty. In the 21st Century, it is vital that we acknowledge environmental problems, including that fact of radioactive waste from rare earths, and make sure that the production processes are clean, even if this adds to their cost.
Emerging this decade are the many challenges to the whole nuclear industries range of products from; medicine, reactors, weapons
Not to mention the always present 1940s backdoor issue that’s never been solved, that of nuclear waste management
This submarine news makes a joke of our neocon naval purchase, particularly if the goal was to put nuclear reactors into the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A at some future point
The whole biased process used by those enamoured the nuclear industry is becoming increasingly obvious. Particularly, when this Swedish technological development must have been known about but discarded in favour of the nuclear state, France. Who are a founding member of UN Security Council P5 and who as a group control all nuclear issues globally through the IAEA
Nonetheless, this is a notable problem with all nuclear infrastructure, that is, the slow technological development due to the magnitude of the complex physics difficulties. Issues that are becoming common knowledge and as such widely understood by the public as a secondary downside along with unsolved waste problem
Obsolescence is the biggest problem with all nuclear technology, and the whole industry struggles to survive without sovereign capital funding. Most importantly, because clean alternative technology is rapidly developed and easily recycled.
What is interesting is the catalytic conversion of C02 and water into diesel although in its infancy, has already been trialled as economically viable, as well as being CO2 neutral, and that is before the carbon industry started discounting oil. In all probability, blue or e-diesel will be a good, clean fuel for submarines given the exponential growth in German fuel technology and their incredible technological record as world leaders in catalytic technology
Is it any wonder Germany stepped off the whole nuclear cycle, with such advances rapidly developing, making current nuclear tech look so last century, dated and obsolete?
source: the national interest: an American bi-monthly international affairs magazine published by the Center for the National Interest https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/
From Jay Weatherill’s Response to Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report
“I’m also excited about the many positive commercial opportunities that are on the table for South Australia in nuclear medicine around the SAHMRI cyclotron.”
This IS one positive outcome from this long drawn out process. ra ra http://nuclear.yoursay.sa.gov.au/news/get-to-know-nuclear-discover-discuss-decide-government-delivers-response-to-nuclear-fuel-cycle-royal-commission-report
The SA Government’s “Energy Market Transition Plan”, obtained by Freedom of Information request, has revealed that prospects for small modular nuclear reactor deployment in South Australia have been explored.
SA government probes nuclear option as Premier Jay Weatherill promises cheaper power https://au.news.yahoo.com/video/watch/32558838/sa-government-probes-nuclear-option-as-premier-jay-weatherill-promises-cheaper-power/#page2
7News Adelaide September 7th, 7 News can reveal a top level report clearly indicates small scale nuclear reactors have been on the short term radar. Mike Smithson reports
Laser uranium enrichment technology may create new proliferation risks, Science Daily, June 27, 2016 Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
- A new laser-based uranium enrichment technology may provide a hard-to-detect pathway to nuclear weapons production, according to a forthcoming paper in the journalScience & Global Security by Ryan Snyder, a physicist with Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.
- One example of this new third-generation laser enrichment technique may be the separation of isotopes by laser excitation (SILEX) process which was originally developed in Australia and licensed in 2012 for commercial-scale deployment in the United States to the Global Laser Enrichment consortium led by General Electric-Hitachi. Research on the relevant laser systems is also currently ongoing in Russia, India and China.
The paper explains the basic physics of the new uranium separation concept, which relies on the selective laser excitation and condensation repression of uranium-235 in a gas. It also estimates the key laser performance requirements and possible operating parameters for a single enrichment unit and how a cascade of such units could be arranged into an enrichment plant able to produce weapon-grade highly enriched uranium.
Using plausible assumptions, the paper shows how a covert laser enrichment plant sized to make one bomb’s worth of weapon-grade material a year could use less space and energy than a similar scale plant based on almost all current centrifuge designs, the most efficient enrichment technology in use today. The results suggest a direct impact on detection methods that use size or energy use as plant footprints……..https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627160941.htm
not a single PRISM [ (Power Reactor Innovative Small Module] has actually been built…. the commercial viability of these technologies is unproven
Crucially, under the plan, Australia would have been taking spent fuel for 4 years before the first PRISM came online, assuming the reactors were built on time.
if borehole technology works as intended, and at the prices hoped for, why would any country pay another to take their waste for $1,370,000 a tonne, when a solution exists that only costs $216,000 a tonne, less than one sixth of the price?
The impossible dream Free electricity sounds too good to be true. It is. A plan to produce free electricity for South Australia by embracing nuclear waste sounds like a wonderful idea. But it won’t work. THE AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE Dan Gilchrist February 2016
“……NEW TECHNOLOGY This comprehensively researched submission asserts that a transformative opportunity is to be found in pairing established, mature practices with cuspof-commercialisation technologies to provide an innovative model of service to the global community. (emphasis added) Edwards’ submission to the Royal Commission
A tiny paragraph on page 25 of the business section of The Age (print version 29/6/15) tells that Lynas shares have plunged. Meanwhile Alkane resources, near Dubbu, NSW, is launching mining of rare earths.
What The Age didn’t tell us, in this tiny paragraph – is what is happening about the reprocessing of these rare earths, and disposal of the highly radioactive wastes. . I’m pretty sure that in the case of Alkane – thi is to be done in China. China, having learned very much the hard way, has now become a lot more careful about these wastes.
In the case of Lynas, they plan to process the rare earths in Malaysia. Lynas has been vague on what they planned to do with the radioactive wastes. No wonder the Malaysians objected – as they too have in the past, suffered a rare earth’s wastes radioactive disaster. No wonder Lynas is struggling now.
Yellow Rock Resources has been accepted as an associate member of the Clean Energy Council of Australia.
The membership will allow Yellow Rock to engage with industry participants and policy makers.
Yellow Rock’s admission as a member demonstrates the company’s commitment to developing its world-class Gabanintha vanadium deposit in Western Australia specifically for emerging technology servicing the renewable energy market.
Gabanintha is a project which has the ability to support renewables as a supplier of vanadium for Vanadium Redox Battery technology.
Yellow Rock in discussions with renewable energy suppliers
Yellow Rock has initiated discussions with renewable energy suppliers SunEdison and Total Energy Australia, among others, focused on potential collaborative opportunities at Gabanintha.
Vincent Algar, chief executive, commented: “The latest excellent drilling results give us another opportunity to expand our relationships in the financial and renewable energy sectors.
“Gabanintha is a project which has the ability to support renewables as a supplier of vanadium for battery storage technology.
“In addition, Gabanintha can be supported by renewable energy generation to reduce its own operating costs, making it a unique opportunity for investors.”
The Gabanintha deposit is an intrusive layered intrusive body smaller, but displaying similar characteristics to the igneous Bushveld Complex, host to some of the world’s most significant platinum, vanadium and chromite deposits.
The project will have continued newsflow over coming weeks as more results flow through from the recent reverse circulation drilling program. commence on receipt of all assay results.
Currently 167 historical drill holes support an Inferred Resource of 125 million tonnes at 0.70% vanadium, 8.64%TiO2 and 32.6% iron.
This includes a separate high grade Indicated and Inferred Resource of 60.4 million tonnes at 0.98% vanadium, 11.4% TiO2 and 42.15% iron.
The concerns come as Greenland Minerals and Energy, an Australia-based mining outfit, closes in on final approval to begin production rare earths, a mineral vital for use in modern technologies……
in order to extract rare earths, GME will also need to mine uranium as a by-product, and that has raised fears, particularly among farmers, sheep farmers and those making a living off tourism, that dust from the open-pit facility will taint the region’s soil and water, and in the process spoil the region’s image. Continue reading
Recycling gives old electronics new life JAMIE DUNCAN AAP MAY 01, 2015 Herald Sun
IMAGINE a world in which billions of dollars of gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals are thrown into a pit like rubbish.
IT seems unlikely, but it’s happening now at landfills around the globe.
- A recent United Nations University report found consumers threw out 41.8 million tonnes of unwanted electronics, or e-waste, in 2014 but recycled only 6.5 million tonnes.That discarded e-waste included an estimated $US52 billion ($A65.78 billion) of precious and other metals.Rose Read, recycling manager with MobileMuster (MobileMuster), says recycling components from e-waste is good for the economy and the environment.”The benefits are massive, and not just in terms of dollar value, but also the environmental benefits of slowing the rate of mining,” Ms Read told AAP.”The amount of energy it takes to recover product materials from a mobile phone is a tenth of digging them up.”MobileMuster is a federal government-accredited product stewardship scheme funded voluntarily by a range of mobile phone manufacturers and retailers that collects unwanted mobiles to recycle components.A similar scheme operates for end-of-life televisions.Consumer thirst for the latest technology is forcing the need to recycle e-waste, Ms Read said…….
- Recycling e-waste entails significant costs, hence the need for industry-funded stewardship schemes, but Ms Read says Australia could build a new, self-sustaining e-waste industry.
- Already, a lead smelter in South Australia is considering expanding to recycle circuit boards locally rather than send them overseas, she said.”There is a whole range of opportunities to create a new industry and employment,” she said.”A lot of new jobs could come out of this. There is some innovative new technology that we can use.”
The world is still in the grip of the philosophy of endless growth, endless consumption of material “goods” and energy. Along with that goes the “throwaway mentality.
The result – not just the disappearance of precious resources – water, land , biodiversity – but also the dirty pollution of the ecosphere with wastes. One of the worst is radioactive wastes. (Don’t be caught by the nuclear lobby lie about the’nuclear fuel cycle’ – which is really a chain leading to toxic wastes needing burial)
However, environmentalists must wake up to the fact that nearly all of our advanced technology requires “rare earths” – cerium, 15 lanthanoid elements and one or both of the elements yttrium and scandium. Thorium is often classed with them. Mining these elements results in highly toxic radioactive tailings.
If we’re serious about not creating radioactive wastes disasters, such as the notorious ones in Malaysia and China then the answer must be – DESIGN – designing wind turbines, cell phones, lap-tops etc – in a such a way that the rare metals can be easily retrieved and used again.
“The situation clearly calls for international policy initiatives to minimize the seemingly bizarre situation of spending large amounts of technology, time, energy and money to acquire scarce metals from the mines and then throwing them away after a single use.”
The nuclear lobby is telling one of its finest whoppers – that there really is a “nuclear fuel cycle” – that toxic radioactive wastes can be turned into lucrative nuclear fuel – for a never ending glorious “cycle”
Not true. It is truly a Nuclear Fuel Chain – that the lobby hopes to put around Australians’ necks. The new geewhiz (not yet existing) Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs) and Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs), including the Power Reactor Innovative Small Module (PRISM) – all produce highly toxic wastes that have to be buried. Reprocessing is NOT a “cycle”
SECOND – Rare Earths involve highly radioactive wastes – and require a big switch in DESIGN – so that they can be recycled.
Environmentalists must wake up to this. There must be a paradigm shift from the thinking, (so entrenched in Australia) – from “dig it up – use it – throw it away” – to DESIGN.
The modern technologies that we value – from wind turbines to mobile phones must be redesigned, so that their rare earths can be easily retrieved and re-used.
Otherwise the planet will be further plagued by radioactive wastes from rare earths.
INFRASTRUCTURE, GOVERNMENT AND RESOURCE REQUIREMENTS FOR BOTH LARGE AND SMALL MODULAR REACTOR POWER PLANTS IN AUSTRALIA PART 1- INFRASTRUCTURE 1,2 JAMES BROWN, 1,2 STEFAAN SIMONS and 1,2ANTHONY D. OWEN 1 International Energy Policy Institute (IEPI), UCL Australia, Adelaide, Australia 2 University College London, UK e-mail: email@example.com
Abstract This paper considers the minimum infrastructure, construction and waste resource requirements for Australia to deploy both large reactors and small modular reactors to be licensed in the near term, including NuScale, mPower and Westinghouse SMR. The requirements for other types of small modular reactors are provided in some of the comparisons to broaden the range of estimates.
Preliminary estimates suggest that FOAK large and small reactor plants would likely have similar land, infrastructure, fuel and waste requirements per MWe capacity under current regulatory regimes.
This is somewhat in contrast to the perception that SMRs allow for faster approvals, siting and deployment of power plants requiring less infrastructure and resources. However, in the U.S. the development of regulatory approaches for SMR licensing continues, in order to take into account the various designs, modularity, collocation features, and size of the emergency planning zone (EPZ).
However, it would be prudent, though, for governments to proceed with nuclear infrastructure and regulatory planning on the basis that the regulatory requirements for SMRs will not be significantly different to large nuclear power plants, until sometime after they have been commercially deployed.
While this paper acknowledges that SMRs may provide some financial benefits over larger reactors, it is argued that there is little difference in the scale of preparations required to develop Australia’s nuclear that there is little difference in the scale of preparations required to develop Australia’s nuclear power programme capabilities in the near term……..ttp://www.jnrd-nuclear.ro/images/JNRD/No.7/jnrd-7_art1.pdf
IAEA reports no long-term plan for Lynas waste, Malaysian Insider 17 October 2014 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday gave a passing safety grade to a controversial Malaysia rare earths plant, but raised concerns that there was no long-term plan for properly disposing of the plant’s potentially radioactive waste.
The rare earths processing plant in the state of Pahang has generated opposition from green groups who fear radioactive contamination and have accused authorities and Lynas of overriding public concern.
In a report, the IAEA said it saw little risk of contamination due to the low-level radiation involved, and that its investigators were “not able to identify any instances of non-compliance” with international standards. “Lynas needs to demonstrate that the disposal of solid waste can be carried out in a safe manner over the long-term,” the report said.
It recommended that Malaysian authorities require Lynas to come up with a plan.
“There is a lack of a plan for managing the waste from the decommissioning and dismantling of the plant at the end of its life,” it said……
However, it also appeared to underscore environmentalists’ concerns that Australian miner Lynas Corp has no long-term plan for the disposal of waste from the plant.- http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/iaea-teams-says-lynas-plant-generates-low-level-radioactive-waste-bernama#sthash.JEFk1poD.dpuf
to Energy White Paper Taskforce
Department of Industry ,
from D Jim Green
The White Paper misrepresents Friends of the Earth in relation to nuclear power and I am seeking immediate clarification on a couple of points.
The WP states: “However, the relative safety of nuclear power is reflected in a 2013 study commissioned by Friends of the Earth, which concluded that, “overall the safety risks associated with nuclear power appear to be more in line with lifecycle impacts from renewable energy technologies, and significantly lower than for coal and natural gas per MWh of supplied energy.”
Question 2: Why does the WP fail to note that the commissioned paper raised multiple objections to nuclear power, and that FoE UK retained its anti-nuclear policies as a result of the review process, e.g. from the article below ‘The non-nuclear energy pathway that Friends of the Earth advocates is credible …’
Please provide immediate answers to the above questions since the misrepresentation is a matter of great concern.
Please also advise if the Department or the Minister will immediately issue a media release correcting the mirepresentation. Alternatively, will the Department put a note on the relevant webpage noting that the WP fails to specify that the Friends of the Earth group in question is FoE UK and that FoE UK retained its anti-nuclear policies as a result of the review process.
Jim Green B.Med.Sci.(Hons.), PhD
National nuclear campaigner – Friends of the Earth, Australia
Dear Dr Green
Thank you for your email to the Energy White Paper Taskforce regarding the citation of the Tyndall Centre report.
To clarify, the paper released is the interim Green Paper, which is the basis for consultation on policy issues. Submissions received until 4 November will help inform the development of the Energy White Paper. We expect to release the Energy White Paper later this year.
On the referencing of the report, we note that the quotation is accurate, and the footnote referencing provides enough detail to clarify that the report is based on a UK analysis, and allows for easy access to the online report in full, including the report origins and relevant disclaimers, as would be normal practice.
We acknowledge your preference that the report be linked to Friends of the Earth UK more explicitly in text, rather than through accessing the commissioning and disclaimer detail of the report itself. Given that concern, should the reference be used in the Energy White Paper, we will ensure that the body of our text includes the distinction. We would appreciate your guidance as to whether the preference is to use UK, or the full ‘England, Wales and Northern Ireland’ as per the report cover.
Energy White Paper Taskforce
Department of Industry