Thursday, 9 October 2008

Why Nuclear?

BP's Statistical Review of World Energy appears to show that the world still has enough oil reserves to provide 40 more years of consumption at current rates.
With this resource rapidly depleting, the move is away from fossil fuels with nuclear energy being hailed as the saviour but as the worlds resources are finite, how much Uranium is there for us to mine? The World Nuclear Association put the amount, at current usage levels, at 80 years worth of Uranium but with countries planning to build multiple new Nuclear reactors at huge expense all over the globe, that 80 years will quickly fall. Within two or three generations at the most, we will be back in the same position searching for new forms of energy only this time we will have to contend with millions of tonnes of spent nuclear fuel that poses a serious health threat for the next 10,000 years.
Seems we can use nuclear fuel to stop polluting the atmosphere but the kicker is that we have to poison the ground and make large swathes of our planet uninhabitable for 10 millenniums to achieve it.
A 2003 Spanish report by the Guadalajara University Hospital into the cancer risk to citizens living around the Trillo nuclear power plant concluded: 'There is an association between proximity of residence to Trillo and cancer risk'. A German report into childhood leukaemia found that there was a 'statistically significant odds ratio for residential proximity compared to residence outside this area'. Still want one of these things in your neighbourhood?
Australia (23%), Kazakhstan (15%) and Russia (10%) hold almost half of the Worlds Uranium supplies so they would be the main beneficiaries from a nuclear era as the Middle East was from the last oil century and would face the same consequences as the supply begins to falter.
The question is why, with a limited supply and the massive financial cost of building and disposing of the fuel not to mention the environmental and safety risks involved, is Nuclear the answer when there are other cheaper, safer and never-ending resources available?
Approximately 71% of the Earths surface is covered by Oceans and as long as the Earth continues to turn, there will be waves that could be used to generate power. As long as we have a Sun heating the planet, we will have wind. Wave and wind power used in tandem would create an endless and safe supply of energy so why are we focusing on Nuclear and not plowing our money into these renewable sources instead?

5 comments:

lettersA2Z said...

being endowed with nuclear technology at this time in our history says a lot more than just 'we can create nuclear energy'.

i heard a stat somewhere saying that building wind farms would cost half or less the cost of a nuclear plant creating the same amount of energy.

if countries do go ahead with the hundreds of planned nuclear plants all around the world they should STILL invest in renewable energy like wind and solar. at least then we'd have been working with the technology long enough to employ it full time eventually.

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

What do French studies show? They have more nuke plants than anybody.

Texas is developing windmill farms. From a distance they look cool. They are in the middle of absolutely barren land (San Angelo vacinity), yet people that own land nearby complain about the destruction of the natural view and about the noise.

You can never make everybody happy...

Q

Lucy said...

I know that people here have complained about the view and how birds fly into them also.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)!

There's no such thing as a costless infinite energy supply with no negative externalities. Either you kill off the transatlantic migratory birds (as is happening in Europe due to some well placed coastal windfarms) or you make Nevada uninhabitable (insofar as it was ever inhabitable).

But there's a brighter side to the big universe. The universe is very big. Also, knowledge is an infinite inexhaustable resource (although it is costly to get). Particular energy sources will always run out, but the number of potential energy sources is infinite.

We'll run out of oil and uranium and the next thing and the thing after, but we wont run out of things after the things after (If y'all catch my drift).

-Nog

Anonymous said...

WNA may say 80 years of uranium supply, but the IAEA now says 100 years (due to increased exploration thanks to higher prices) and 1000 years if we employ breeder recycling technology.

That stuff will cost more than current nuclear energy, but hey, energy prices just seem to go up and up and up, so I'm sure we'll one day get to the point it's a no-brainer.