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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Green Spot: Warming Up to Nuclear

Posted by Tim Stobbs on August 7, 2009

I have to admit I’m starting to understand why some people like nuclear power.  I have been against nuclear power for most of my life, but I’m starting to warm up to it a bit as I’m forced to realize it does offer a means to seriously cut back on CO2 emissions in a medium term time frame.

My objections to nuclear power are mostly because of the waste.  By using it you are basically creating a end product that will be hazardous for thousands of years, which strikes me a huge problem.  Yet in the last year I was given presentations by a few experts in the field and I have to confess we do know how to store the waste without it being noticed in background radiation at the surface.  Now weather the public is willing to accept that is an entirely different issue.

My recent warming to the technology is really about buying us time to nail down more efficient ways to generate power from renewables and convert society over to less power usage per person.  Right now power is generally cheap across Canada, should that suddenly change (ie: triple the price) it would be a disaster for the modern lifestyle.  We need people to change their habits, but we can’t expect them to do it overnight.  A phased in approach is likely going to meet a lot less public resistance.

In the mean time we can continue to develop renewables and use them, but we need to get off burning coal as soon as possible if we are serious about reducing our emissions.  Assuming clean coal technology will help is a bit of a false hope.  It’s never been used at the commercial scale yet and unless a breakthrough occurs soon it is too expense at least compared to traditional nuclear.

So I’m willing to consider nuclear technology, but if these costs are right, nuclear might be just a bit too expense and perhaps we take the risk on clean coal.  It’s never an easy decision.

Comments

9 Responses to “Green Spot: Warming Up to Nuclear”
  1. DabCan says:

    What I find interesting, is with Nuclear, we know how to deal with the waste, and we follow the procedure. If we didn’t, people would not allow it to be used.

    Now with the tar sands, we produce waste, with cancer causing effects, and although there are methods to deal with the waste, it isn’t considered “economically feasible” so we dump it into big ponds to be dealt with another day.

    Imagine if the nuclear industry decided to have radiation ponds?…

  2. Caitlin says:

    Not to mention, the nuclear technology we use here in Canada, CANDU, is way better than the plants they have in the US.

    I also agree with DabCan, we let the oil industry get away with a lot more.

  3. Sean says:

    Personally, I’d like to see more experimentation with and implementation of alternative sources like wind, or especially tidal energy.

    With the Bay of Fundy, and Frobisher Bay in Nunavut, we have two of the largest tides in the world to utilize.

  4. Check out using thorium to power nuclear plants…way less waste. Of course, you can’t recover any plutonium to make nuclear weapons from a thorium reactor…but that doesn’t strike me as a bad thing!

  5. Canadian Dream says:

    DabCan,

    Oh, it’s so true and so sad. Yes the tarsands get a free wide on their waste. What a screw up.

    Caitlin,

    Ah, very true as well.

    Sean,

    I’m ok with some renewables, but if you want a massive reduction in CO2 in short order you need to consider nuclear. Wind is great and so is tidal, but you can only put so much variable power on the grid. After that you NEED some baseload which means either nuclear, coal, clean coal or large scale hydro. Clean coal is not commercial right now and some places can’t do large scale hydro, so in the end nuclear might be a good option to avoid more coal usage.

    Valerie,

    Ooo, interesting. Thanks I’ll have to read.

    Tim

  6. Rocky says:

    I am so sick of every one complaining about the Oil Industry. Now one ever looks at what they have done right and cleaned up. Yes, there is waste and issues but they are cleaning up and doing a great job in reclaiming and remediating the lands that they use.

    What I find really frusterating is that people scream about some ducks that died on the ponds, but rarely does anyone ever mention all of the bats that are killed every year by the wind power generators. I guess bats are cute and fuzzy and it is more in the enviros plan to make everything that the oil industry does bad.

    Rocky

  7. Canadian Dream says:

    Rocky,

    I’ll be fair. I complain about all industries and frankly most people as well. We need to shift our view of the world or kiss goodbye certain free gifts from the earth like temperature regulation and waste control.

    So I do understand your point. Everyone is trying to do something. The issue is are they doing enough to slow down or halt this train that is coming at us. The answer from just about every person, company, and government is: No. Yet we collectively have yet to realize a complete shift in our lifestyles are going to be expensive as hell and we have to pay for it.

    Everyone wants to reduce CO2 emissions, but they haven’t figured out to really do that you need to double the price of gas, natural gas, and triple your power bill in some locations.

    So until the world is ready to have a frank discussion on costs we are not going to see much change.

    Tim

  8. Rocky says:

    Tim,

    Enjoyed your comment. Thanks for clarifying that up for me. I must have been having a bad moment when I wrote it, but that is how I feel for the most part when it comes to everyone who just slags on one industry. (whatever it is)

    I think that your right on the energy costs. In order for people to make the changes that may be necessary we have to get past this idea that cheap energy is a birth right. I think it will be a challenge to accomplish that though.

    THe only technology that I believe can provide the electrical demands that we will require in the near future while keeps costs relatively in line with what we are paying now is nuclear. It does have some bad stigmas with it, but compared to how much everyone is scared of CO2 these days it is the only one that can provide the quantity of energy that we need. Solar, wind and geothermal are just not upto the stage where that can happen yet.

    Rocky

  9. Canadian Dream says:

    Rocky,

    Hell I have bad days too. No worries.

    Thanks for the discussion.
    Tim

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