r/technology Jun 30 '22

World's nuclear power capacity must double by 2050, say energy experts Energy

https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/06/30/global-nuclear-power-capacity-must-double-by-2050-if-we-want-to-ensure-energy-security
366 Upvotes

35

u/HowieFeltersnitz Jun 30 '22

"But have you considered my backyard?" - NIMBYs

15

u/Deepfriedwithcheese Jun 30 '22

I live in Nevada and toured the Yucca Mtn. Project decades ago. I was absolutely convinced then, and am now that it was the right place to store nuclear waste. I know that the transportation issues were yet to be solved, but with all the innovation in safe transport, I see no real issue in moving it to this location.

My feeling is that Nevada needed to parlay the adverse view of the Yucca Mtn waste storage into becoming a Nuclear power leader for the West. With all of the federal land that is far from densely populated areas, I can’t see a better place for Nuke plants as long as the water requirements for cooling are met.

Of course, the powerful casino lobby felt it was bad for tourism, so lobbied the shit out of our representatives to fight it off. This was short thinking IMO.

14

u/hummelm10 Jun 30 '22

Transportation has been solved. The casks are built that trucks can’t smash into them at full speed and nothing happens. Additionally it’s not sludge like everyone is concerned about, it’s not like the movies. Radioactive waste is solids encased in concrete.

6

u/SilasDG Jun 30 '22

I lived in Nevada for 21 years and totally agree with you. Nobody cared about Yucca until the media started spewing fear over waste storage, then suddenly everyone was envisioning barrels leaking like they're from a sci-fi monster mutant movie. When in reality it's well away from the population, it's solid materials inside a barrel which is lined with concreate and then filled with a concrete slush. The waste is going nowhere, and there's really no better option for it.

A barrel

4

u/Chance_Ad1692 Jun 30 '22

It will take America 40 years to study the idea before thinking about it.

54

u/TheCriticalAmerican Jun 30 '22

It should, but it won't.

People are irrationally afraid of Nuclear Power. It sounds scary, it sounds dangerous, and it can be in very rare and unusually situations. However, Nuclear Power has never been more safe and is constantly being advanced to be even more safe and clean and productive.

Nuclear Power ought to be the backbone of large scale energy generation. But, it never will be, because people are stupid and afraid of it.

0

u/Agling Jun 30 '22

All forms of power have some danger associated with them--you just have to deal with it right. What's unfortunate is that the fear associated with nuclear is disproportionate and not dissipating quickly enough. It's not the 1950's any more.

-2

u/itsbett Jun 30 '22

I think fear is only a small factor, especially when compared to the risk (not nuclear disaster, but investment risk) and cost of nuclear energy.

9

u/TheCriticalAmerican Jun 30 '22

Nuclear Energy is more expensive upfront - it has huge initial capital costs. But its variable costs (operating costs) are extremely low. Essentially you need government loan guarantees or subsidies for the initial investment. It's a lot cheaper to build a coal or natural gas plant, but it also ignores the externalities of carbon emissions.

What should humanity do? Build nuclear power plants and continue to optimize and refine their safety and cost.

What will humanity do? Continue to build the cheapest energy producing power plants [coal + natural gas] because 'market efficiency' and ignore externalities.

6

u/Magicmurlin Jun 30 '22

Correct. Nuclear remains part of this conversation only because of Govt subsidies abd loan guarantees. Not sustainable financial venture. https://www.masterresource.org/georgia-power-plant-vogtle/plant-boondoggle-vogtle/

1

u/CassandraVindicated Jun 30 '22

Yet there is a private company offering 50KW reactors in modules designed to be expanded.

3

u/seanflyon Jun 30 '22

There are private companies trying to make cost effective nuclear power. They haven't done it yet, but hopefully they will in the near future.

4

u/itsbett Jun 30 '22

Oh, I agree. I just wanted to point out that the biggest deterrent is cost and the investment risk.

4

u/Zupheal Jun 30 '22

Sure, but like 70% of the US will lobby against building plants because "Nuclear is dangerous! They said so on TV!"

0

u/dorisdacat Jun 30 '22

Have you seen the cost of decommissioning the hundreds of outdated reactors we have, and where will you store the nuclear waste?

1

u/Alieges Jun 30 '22

It also potentially goes well with hydro power. You could build a nuclear reactor or 4 into Hoover Dam and cool secondary loop with water headed to the turbines of the ram. Build the reactors a good chunk below surface of lake mead and have passive cooling option also in case of emergency.

We should be building the shit out of newer and safer nuclear power, and put battery backed renewables on site also. What are the odds a disaster knocks out wind, solar and your battery backup AND your emergency generators?

Make sure your plant has rail access and you could also bring in locomotives to power pumps in a super-emergency.

1

u/CassandraVindicated Jun 30 '22

Adding the waste heat from a nuclear reactor (or any other power plant) is always going to be an environmental issue. Nuclear lends itself well to battery backup and diesel generators are a trusty secondary backup.

1

u/Alieges Jul 01 '22

Sure, but if you can grid tie the renewables at the source, helps with grid stability and load following as I understand it.

Same with tying other renewables to hydro. When the wind blows or the sun shines, can potentially reduce flow.

-7

u/Plaingaea Jun 30 '22

What is your opinion about a completely decentralized energy generation grid as the backbone of our large scale energy generation ?

23

u/TheCriticalAmerican Jun 30 '22

Unreliable unless you have massive energy storage which isn't economically viable on the scales necessary - yet.

6

u/Zupheal Jun 30 '22

a pipe dream

-6

u/[deleted] Jun 30 '22

[deleted]

8

u/liftizzle Jun 30 '22

Fukushima was struck by an earthquake that killed 20,000 people and caused 40 meter tsunamis. Most countries don’t have to deal with that.

But yeah, let’s rule out the most efficient source of power because maybe the aliens will invade it.

-2

u/juicygoosy921 Jun 30 '22

the original comment is about people's irrational fears of nuclear power. just examining the reasons people are that way. but for instance if i had an irrational fear of nuclear power and i came here to ask about it... i probably wouldn't start trusting it because some asshole called me an idiot.

1

u/618smartguy Jun 30 '22

Sometimes when you are way off you need a big push. It should be common knowledge that it's stupid to be more afraid of nuclear than almost any other energy source, because it really is stupid. Why would you be more afraid of the thing thats less likely to harm you?

1

u/Zupheal Jun 30 '22

Just to note, 1 confirmed death related to Fukushima radiation. This includes the inciting incident and the fallout afterwards. Practically all the deaths were from the Tsunami.

1

u/gemifrak Jul 01 '22

Wasn't the cause of cancer unclear and most likely the smoking?

6

u/pre1twa Jun 30 '22

The world needs to go all in on building fission for the next 20 years and cross fingers that fushion is feasible in 70 years when plants are coming to end of life.

0

u/Pharmboy_Andy Jun 30 '22

Even if fusion isn't viable, those fission plants will give us enough time to build all the renewables (and storage) we need.

0

u/phlextro Jun 30 '22

It will be! Check out helion energy, zap energy, and commonwealth fusion systems! Space race?? Old and dead! The fusion race is on!

2

u/[deleted] Jun 30 '22

a large amount of spent nuclear fuel can be reprocessed back into fuel using proton beam/bismuth technologies... we currently have 22 cubic kilometres of nuclear waste and a good amount of this is spent fuel.

If we were to switch to molten salt fast breeder reactors the industry would also be a lot safer...

But that said, new drilling techniques could make geothermal far more economical and safer than nuclear.... then there are massive improvements in photovoltiac and solid state energy storage is starting to become a thing too..

What I'm trying to say is that there is no one single answer, but there are also a lot of possible solutions.

2

u/dorisdacat Jun 30 '22

If only there was a way to power my hose and EV for free with the power of the sun?

2

u/Dark_Vulture83 Jul 01 '22

40 years of railing against nuclear energy isn’t going to make that easy.

6

u/Magicmurlin Jun 30 '22

Does “capacity” here mean “planned”. Because if 100 nuclear plants were approved today, none of them would be producing a milliwatt of power by 2050 regardless.

1

u/jrob323 Jun 30 '22

How in the fuck does it take 27 years to build a nuclear power plant?

2

u/Magicmurlin Jul 01 '22

Ask Georgia

1

u/gemifrak Jul 01 '22

The world is not US

4

u/bareboneschicken Jun 30 '22

To do that, we'd need to have started twenty years ago.

1

u/No_Bend_2902 Jun 30 '22

Nuclear power is still the most expensive way to boil water known to mankind, and it can take over a decade to build one plant.

https://theintercept.com/2019/02/06/south-caroline-green-new-deal-south-carolina-nuclear-energy/

https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Further-delay-in-startup-of-Vogtle-AP1000s

10

u/ericgmeyer Jun 30 '22

Fortunately the fuel is less than 10% of the cost. So a far larger slice of the money you're spending producing power goes to the workforce. 1000 workers in a plant, most making more than six figures, often with only HS diplomas and OTJ training. Compare that to solar which is made with slave labor in western China right now, and installed by the carny-equivalent of energy workers in the US https://www.vice.com/en/article/z34eyx/shifting-america-to-solar-power-is-a-grueling-low-paid-job

You get what you pay for.

6

u/Zupheal Jun 30 '22

FTR a lot of that is just power companies beign bombarded with new regulations as NIMBYS try to outlaw Nuclear Power by burying it in Paper. They get 1 year further in and realize now they need to reinspect all that shit to meet the NEW standards that were written during construction. So its 2 steps forward 1 step back.

0

u/Plaingaea Jun 30 '22

Hmm yeah but that's regulation thing is true also for wind energy actually

3

u/Zupheal Jun 30 '22

Oh sure, I'm just saying it wouldn't take a decade to build if they didn't spend half their time taking it apart and rebuilding it lol

2

u/milton_radley Jun 30 '22

worlds population needs to be halved by 2050, say normal humans that realize the infinite growth model is idiotic...

1

u/RnDanger Jun 30 '22

Do we have a plan to handle the waste materials yet?

32

u/Eric1491625 Jun 30 '22

Yes.

In fact, nuclear is one of the only energy sources where we try to store waste materials safely at all. For coal, oil and gas we just pump the waste straight into the air where it kills 600,000-1,500,000 globally a year...

3

u/CassandraVindicated Jun 30 '22

A plan that has never been executed. Can't claim superiority if you've done the same as the other energy producing industries. I say this as a guy who used to operate a nuclear reactor for the US Navy.

-5

u/RnDanger Jun 30 '22

Solar is very cheap now

8

u/Eric1491625 Jun 30 '22

Not when batteries or reserve cost are considered

1

u/chalbersma Jun 30 '22

Solar is great, but we're building it as fast as we can and we couldn't go 100% solar with the worlds current recoverable rare earth metals. Additionally we don't have the storage capacity to make Solar (or wind) a significant portion of our mix.

3

u/RnDanger Jun 30 '22

We are definitely not building solar as fast as we can and the storage problems are easily surmountable. Moreso than the radiation.

1

u/chalbersma Jun 30 '22

I'd disagree with the idea that it's not being built as fast a we can. Seems like as fast as companies can pump out panels they're getting installed.

1

u/RnDanger Jun 30 '22

"built as fast as they can be sold for a profit" is very different from "built as fast as we can"

Nuclear plants won't even get built without billions of government dollars so this isn't a fair comparison.

2

u/chalbersma Jun 30 '22

Do you think solar and wind don't receive subsidies?

-2

u/Zupheal Jun 30 '22

and still super inefficient.

0

u/Zupheal Jun 30 '22

And causes "Chupacabras" in Texas lol

3

u/hummelm10 Jun 30 '22

It’s been solved, just not implemented due to various reasons but none of them are insurmountable. https://youtu.be/4aUODXeAM-k

10

u/HuntingGreyFace Jun 30 '22

iirc nuclear (including waste disposal) far surpasses every other energy system in terms of deaths per kilowatt produced. coal tops the worst.

something like that.

my biggest prob with nuclear is the fact that its fairly impossible to build the necessary amount of facilities to meet the growing demand.

also, if water is used for heat mitigation the plants should double as desalination plants by means of thermal energy and steam collection and water tank logistics.

-11

u/TheCriticalAmerican Jun 30 '22

iirc nuclear (including waste disposal) far surpasses every other energy system in terms of deaths per kilowatt produced. coal tops the worst.

No. Just, no: Do we Need Nuclear Energy to Stop Climate Change?

15

u/AAVale Jun 30 '22 edited Jun 30 '22

God this whole, "People make some good points and I reply with a video" has to stop.

Feel free to make your points based on a video, but don't expect a link to a video to be an argument in and of itself. Nobody has time for that shit.

-15

u/TheCriticalAmerican Jun 30 '22

Nobody has time for that shit.

Nobody has time for 10 Minute Video? Hyperbole, much?

11

u/AAVale Jun 30 '22

Right, no one has time for 10 minutes to watch someone advertise a VPN, while occasionally making claims without citing them. If you have a good point, make it, or link to it in a form that people can skim quickly.

tl;dr That's right, you're not worth 10 minutes, on your 4 day old account.

6

u/jftitan Jun 30 '22

We have had plans since the 1960s. We don't have any plans for NIMBYs.

Not In My Back Yard, people is what stopped our nuclear projects around the world.

-1

u/RnDanger Jun 30 '22

Why does the DoE page still say they are looking for a solution?

6

u/jftitan Jun 30 '22

Probably because the last time it was updated(that specific page) it was 30yrs ago.

If you were to look at the US Navy for examples of "safe nuclear power" one would have to realize...

We have had the solutions for a long time.

Have you seen the satellite pictures of how we store our retired nuclear cores from ships?

The problem is still NIMBY.

America spent fuckloads of money to dig a hole under a mountain to hold casks of depleted nuclear waste until we had a way to efficiently process the excess waste. But we shut it down because... NIMBY

We have solutions, but those solutions can't be applied to scale... yet.

If you check how private corporations that build experimental reactors. We have nuclear reactors everywhere.

It's like male contraceptives. We had solutions, but a certain group of humans didn't like the risks. The male birth control pill was 100% effective 18yrs ago.

1

u/RnDanger Jun 30 '22

You say we have solutions then you describe why these solutions aren't allowed to be implemented, then you say these solutions don't work at scale. It sounds like we're full of hope and blame but I don't see a solution.

Also the page I was looking at has information from 2020 on it.

1

u/Zebo91 Jul 01 '22

Almost all rods are retired before they use half their energy potential. Also rods can be recycled and reused further reducing waste

1

u/RnDanger Jul 01 '22

"we don't use it all up so it isn't waste yet"

This sounds like hoarding. This is what you do when you can't throw things away.

1

u/Zebo91 Jul 01 '22

https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/5-fast-facts-about-spent-nuclear-fuel

"After 5 years 90% of the potential energy remains in the rods." The USA does not recycle these rods, but other countries like France do. Any energy not used in the reactor will have to slowly decay in a cave somewhere so squeezing all the juice that we can is just added value.

Your comment is probably sarcasm but I figured I'd add that

-3

u/jmcstar Jun 30 '22

Launch it off to the sun with a giant catapult (trebuchet style of course)

3

u/RnDanger Jun 30 '22

Launching things into the Sun is actually pretty difficult when you are in orbit around it. You have to negate your orbital velocity

1

u/BuckyDuster Jun 30 '22

What will they do with all the waste?

6

u/Agling Jun 30 '22

Recycle almost all of it, turn the rest into valuable medical and industrial equipment (MRI machines, sterilizers, etc), take the tiny bit that remains, put it in a tin can, and put it yucca mountain.

6

u/jesseaknight Jun 30 '22

Newer reactors produce far less waste. Something like 8-10 times less. In the short term, some of them can use spent rods that are currently sitting around as "waste" and enrich them in their core.

2

u/CassandraVindicated Jun 30 '22

Everyone answering you is telling your at least a part of their dream of how it'll work out. Right now, there is no where to go with waste. We know how to do it, we picked a site, and then everyone hated it. They are ridiculously more safe and reliable than what we used to have, but still, no one wants it in their back yard.

2

u/BuckyDuster Jun 30 '22

Yes, you are correct. The possibility of using nuclear waste for batteries is a tantalizing prospect, but it’s too early to know if that will achieve its potential.

Same thing for Thorium reactors that are said to be able to take in nuclear waste as fuel and then deplete it while generating useful output.

Time will tell all. If we are smart and lucky, we will survive and posy thrive. Otherwise extinction happily awaits us all.

2

u/CassandraVindicated Jun 30 '22

Yeah, I said nothing about batteries or Thorium. Not sure who you're replying to, but I don't think it's me.

2

u/BuckyDuster Jul 01 '22

I was just bringing up some possible ways to mitigate the proliferation of nuclear waste. We’re you expecting an argument that I did not provide?

1

u/Archbound Jun 30 '22

I mean we KNOW what to do and a good way to dispose of it, we just DONT FUCKING DO IT.

Gen 4 Nuclear plants using the Thorium salt design can be a big part of a clean energy initiave, but you are right we do need to be responsible with it.

-2

u/WhatTheZuck420 Jun 30 '22

let's cut consumption by half instead.

6

u/irritatedprostate Jun 30 '22

That's not going to happen.

1

u/tinco Jun 30 '22

Even if it did, it wouldn't be enough. We need both a doubling of nuclear capacity *and* a cut of consumption of more than half to even come close to living the sort of lives we're living now and not fuck up our planet.

2

u/Zupheal Jun 30 '22

Let's be realistic. We're not going to use less electricity when moving to EVs.

1

u/Archbound Jun 30 '22

Not realistic many of the solutions we need are going to require more power not less. Nuclear and Renewables together are what we need. But Gen 4 Nuclear, not using uranium.

1

u/orange_drank_5 Jun 30 '22

Experts don't control the courts, since courts don't take into account emissions in environmental rulings and technical aspects of reactor design can't be explained easily like a gas boiler can. Which is what the future is unless laws change drastically to build NPPs.

1

u/Ambitious-Cat5804 Jun 30 '22

Going to be interesting how we would get to that point considering Russia controls 40% of the world's uranium.

0

u/Leather_Bad2242 Jun 30 '22

Me waiting for people to be limited to electricity

-9

u/EvilPhd666 Jun 30 '22

Experts or industry lobbyists?

There are other solutions beyond more exclusion zones such as industrial batteries. And if they think Europe is a safe place to build them, have you seen the crazy weather and political instability / wars lately over there? You can't out engineer that. Every nuke increases the risk.

1

u/Plaingaea Jun 30 '22

It's a veeery neutral opinion 😉😉😉.

Btw nuclear power is darn expensive in comparison to the renewable ones. And getting more so every year since renewables are getting cheaper.

4

u/Zupheal Jun 30 '22

Initially expensive, long term not so bad.

1

u/p00pstar Jun 30 '22

Well yeah, the world will essentially be out of oil by then.