Nuclear Energy nuclear power plant czech republic

Published on June 15th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


7 Arguments Against Nuclear Power (Why It Should Be a No-Go)

June 15th, 2012 by  

nuclear power plant czech republic

A reader recently dropped the below quote/list in a comment on a post regarding nuclear power in Australia. I thought it was an excellent one and have been meaning to get to it for awhile. It certainly summarizes my own 7 reasons for being against nuclear. While some people (well, most people) are probably firmly against nuclear just for 1-3 of the reasons below, the beauty of the list is that it summarizes the fact that nuclear is a bad call in numerous arenas.

Of course, anyone familiar with thorium nuclear reactors will know that this alternative is not so bad on some of these fronts, and actually helps to address #5, and possibly #4. But the point remains that the other arguments still apply.

Anyway, enough of my introduction, here’s the comment/list (which apparently originated in this post):

“In summary, the 7 reasons why we should say NO to nuclear power are:
1. Because it is not a fast enough response to climate change
2. Because it is too expensive
3. Because the need for baseload electricity is exaggerated
4. Because the problem of waste remains unresolved
5. Because it will increase the risk of nuclear war
6. Because there are safety concerns
7. Because there are better alternatives”

What do you think? Something to add?

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is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • callum

    no you shut up

  • callum

    shut up callum

  • callum

    ya all gggaaaayyy!!!!! coonts

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  • John Stint

    While I agree that wind and solar energy are viable sources of renewable energy, the actually power generated by such systems is miniscule in comparison to nuclear power. A nuclear power plant has the capability to produce electricity equal to or greater than that of a coal burning power plant; probably greater given the Carnot efficiency of a power plant running at super high temperatures.

    Where several of you seem to be saying that nuclear power is “unsafe” and a threat to humanity…if you look at figures of fatalities per unit electricity of various energy sources, you’ll find that nuclear power has only been responsible for roughly 0.04 deaths per TWh, where coal power and its relevance are responsible for roughly 161. People hear the word “nuclear” in the news, and they assume Chernobyl will be a repeat incident. Chernobyl was the result of an operator mistake, which should have realistically never have been made possible to happen. Even the plants at Fukoshima were not up to the safety standards of US nuclear plants.

    Yes, nuclear power is expensive, and licensing is difficult, but nuclear power plants will more efficiently produce power with a lessened environmental effect, and in a realistically safer manner.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Sorry John, just don’t think your arguments hold.

      The power of a system depends on how large a system you build. Build a big wind farm and a small reactor and the wind farm will create more power than the reactor. That’s just simple arithmetic.

      ‘Build nuclear so you don’t have to build coal’ is tired, old, totally failed false choice. It’s like asking if you’d rather have your right eye poked out or your left eye poked out. The obvious answer is “Leave my damned eyes alone!!!”.

      How about we go for choice number three and pick cheaper, quicker to install and safer renewables? That works pretty well for me. Make sense to you?

      (“Even the plants at Fukoshima were not up to the safety standards of US nuclear plants.” You’re trying to make a joke, yes? Do you know who built the Fuku plants?)

      Sorry, nuclear – like coal – is now walking down that green mile. They’re finished, priced off the table, trundling off the world’s stage….

  • Bob_Wallace

    “Swedish officials have raised security levels at the country’s nuclear power plants after a small amount of explosives, without its detonator, was discovered at one of the plants during a routine security check, local authorities said.”–abc-news-topstories.html 

    Now, this wasn’t a lot of explosive material, and it hadn’t made it to the reactor area.  It was found in a truck on the grounds.

    But it highlights one of the several problems with nuclear.  There is a danger with nuclear fission.  And things like equipment failures, human mistakes, strong earthquakes, or terrorism can cause massive damage.

    Set off some explosives in a wind farm, drop a turbine, kill a cow….

  • 8lincoln8

    You say thorium only solves 2 problems but I think it would be more than that. 

    That argument “Nuclear isn’t a fast enough response to climate change is a joke because activists have been saying that for 15 years and keep trying the strangle it further so it can’t be in time.  It will still be on your list in another 15 years.

    Because it is too expensive

    A thorium reactor over 60 years would cost around $500 million and the live of the reactor could be extended due to lack of melt down concerns (it can’t sustain a chain reaction without neurons being fired at it).  This also cuts down licensing and security costs and construction times.

    Because the problem of waste remains unresolved

    Thorium produces far less waste and check out Gabon in Africa and the naturally occuring nuclear reactors that existed 200 million years ago.  The waste produced from these didn’t move more than 3 metres from its origin and the underground water was not contaminated.  This was a situation where the waste wasn’t sealed up in drums like today.

    The amount of waste produced by nuclear power is 2  pounds for each person lifetime energy needs  (fits into a coke can) compared to 68 tonnes of coal put into the atmosphere per person.  The
    waste from 50 years of reactor operation could fit in a single football
    field,  amounting to 77,000 tons (1,540 tons per year). We discard
    179,000 tons of batteries per year in the United States and they contain toxic heavy metals.

    Because it will increase the risk of nuclear war?

    Thorium makes it pretty much impossible to build nuclear weapons from and to be honest it is unlikely uranium is feasible.  I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that no nation has ever produced
    nuclear weapons from plutonium generated by a nuclear power plant but
    plutonium-239 which is made in a special production reactor. Rather
    than adding to nuclear weapons capabilities nuclear power plants have helped reduce the number by using the material from dismantled nuclear warheads and
    bombs for fuel.

    Because there are safety concerns? 

    Nuclear power has killed less people than any other energy source per kWh.  Heard of the the Bangiao Hydro Dam in China collapsed in 1975 and killed over 150,000 people. That saidf I am not against hydroelectricty and think it is safe but hypocritical of people to point the finger at nuclear.  Have a look at  A thorium nuclear reactor can’t melt down.

    Because there are better alternatives”

    It depends on your point of view.  Some believe nuclear and renewables is like comparing apples to oranges and should be used together.  Then you have others who like to go to extremes and say nuclear can handle it all or renewables can do it 100%.  I notice a trend here saying baseload electricity isn’t required and renewables can take care of the worlds electricity if nuclear, gas and coal are taken away (I’d like to know when they think this is possible,  ie today?).  Are renewables taking care of the 74% predicted increase in energy demand by 2030 also?

    Anyway,  I am happy to be proved wrong.

    1. Because it is not a fast enough response to climate change
    2. Because it is too expensive
    3. Because the need for baseload electricity is exaggerated
    4. Because the problem of waste remains unresolved
    5. Because it will increase the risk of nuclear war
    6. Because there are safety concerns
    7. Because there are better alternatives”Source: Clean Technica (

    1. Because it is not a fast enough response to climate change
    2. Because it is too expensive
    3. Because the need for baseload electricity is exaggerated
    4. Because the problem of waste remains unresolved
    5. Because it will increase the risk of nuclear war
    6. Because there are safety concerns
    7. Because there are better alternatives”Source: Clean Technica (

    • Bob_Wallace

      It takes a long time to build a nuclear plant. Regardless of the fuel.
      During all those many years interest has to be paid on very large amounts of money. That pretty much doubles the actual construction cost.

      Siting is a very major problem. I don’t care what the fuel is or how safe it is, most communities will not allow a reactor to built close to them.
      Cooling water is a problem. There are not many places where ample amounts of water are available and almost all of them will have significant community opposition.

      With a warming climate it’s going to be even harder to find fresh water sites for cooling supplies. We’re going to see more existing reactors shut down during heat waves as it is.

      You could use air cooling, but then you’ve got a bigger eyesore and a bunch of noise that will make it hard to site.

      We don’t have enough trained and experienced engineers and technicians to build more than a very few plants at a time. And it would take many years to train a new batch.

      The price of reactors continues to increase. The price of both wind and
      solar continue to fall. The price of solar is plummeting.

      Apparently major progress is being made with grid scale battery storage.
      Aquion is going into production this year with a projected cost of
      $0.06/kWh and they expect to get that cost down to less than $0.02/kWh.
      MIT’s liquid metal battery looks like it will be even cheaper.

      Wind is producing electricity at six cents per kWh. And expected to drop
      another 20%.

      Six cent wind stored at six cents is at least three cents cheaper than low
      end nuclear (15 cent) estimates.

      Solar is already as cheap as new nuclear and should be under ten cents
      long before any new nuclear plant will come on line.

      Here’s nuclear’s competition:

      40% from wind direct, 20% from solar. 40% from stored wind and hydro.

      That mix would cost 9.2 cents per kWh vs. at least 15 cents for new nuclear.

      Notice I didn’t even put cheap natural gas in the mix. Unfortunately we’ll
      keep using it for a while and it will bring the nine cents even lower.

      Who is going to put up their personal money to build a nuclear reactor when
      it will be impossible to sell at a profit?

      (The only place in the US where a reactor is being started is where the
      local regulations let the nuclear plant operator charge customers whatever
      the power costs. Not a free market.)

      The possible 60 year life of a reactor is no different from any other
      source. Wind farms might need a turbine rebuild after 30 years, but they
      are already very much cheaper than nuclear based on a 20 year payoff.

      Solar panels have been in service for over 30 years and are still going
      strong. We have no idea how long they will last, but 60 certainly looks

      Hydro systems are easily lasting more than 100 years.

      Sodium-ion battery prices are based on “using them up”. And they are
      affordable at that price. Liquid metal batteries – it’s not clear that
      there’s anything in them that would wear out.

      Be happy.

  • In the face of all of the issues, cost and the potential for catastrophic consequences should another “accident” (and they surely will) occur I can lump all of the reasons into one: Because it’s just plain stupid!

  • Williamsh54

    Nuclear power in the US has a history of corruption that can create fatal hazards: shoddy materials and workmanship, coverups, embezzlement, greed, smearing opponents, even possible intentional contamination and murder. The dangerous nature of the waste and potential accidents is multiplied many times by the human factors of corruption and greed. Solar and wind may be subject to similar hazards but the main negative of that would be an expensive technology that doesn’t work or works poorly, not wholesale contamination of communities, landfills, and countryside for possible thousands of years.
    Nuclear, especially after Chernobyl and the Japanese tragedy simply is not a viable option for the human race, at least in its present stage of development.

  • NObama2012

    My opinion is that thorium is the safest system.

  • gypsy wanderer

    I like your site! Only just found it.

    After reading opinions on this and other related topics there is only one conclusion i can come to. 

    Anyone who advocates a nuclear future for us is clearly disconnected with humanity. They place factors such as economics above humanity and this is really what the aware individuals are battling against.

    • Bob_Wallace

      No, nuclear proponents do not place economics above other factors, unless it’s the economics of their personal bank account.

      Anyone who has an “honest pencil” can easily determine that nuclear electricity is a very expensive way to make electricity.

      Had we only the options of nuclear or coal then nuclear would be the less expensive and the least damaging to humanity.  We’d have to deal with a meltdown every few years as Homer has his way with complex machinery, but the health  problems would likely be less than what coal causes.  And we could (hopefully) dodge the worst of climate change.

      But “nuclear or coal” is a false choice.  We need neither.

      We have cheaper, safer, and faster to implement ways to power our lives.

      • gypsy wanderer

        I think a big proportion of world leaders in politics and finance place economics above all other considerations. After all how else do we place money above humanity?

        Personally, i just hope people become more and more self sufficient in this and other areas such as food production. I think we need to decouple from the ideal of globalisation and instead focus on regionalisation, 

        I don’t know many people who would say yes to a nuclear plant over a wind farm and a solar array if it was being built in their local community. But it is easy for someone in a capital city to plan a nuclear facility far from where they live.

        I believe as power is taken back by the people regionalisation will become the focus and these arguments we are having will one day soon, simply be regarded as historical curiosity (and probably stupidity as well ey).

  • Ross

    Scientific American had an excellent article in 2009 about the nuclear waste problem. Here’s a choice slide from it
    It illustrates that the major objection to the “waste eating” breeder reactors is that they significantly increase the nuclear proliferation risk.

    With global warming gases the constraint is limiting the total amount.
    Similarly with nuclear we have to limit the waste and the least bad plan from an unpalatable selection (see link) looks like:

    * Not building new fission reactors of any design
    * Decommissioning existing reactors
    * Have a realistic storage plan for a human timescale that:
        minimizes the risk of proliferation and contamination
    * In the longer term, 50-100 years, develop a plan that doesn’t leave future generations a nuclear waste legacy lasting 1,000s of years.

  • Bill_Woods

    “3. Because the need for baseload electricity is exaggerated”

    What do you consider ‘exaggerated’?

    Yesterday, in California, baseload was 80% of total demand. (23 GW * 24 hours / 700 GW-h)
    Last June, in Poland, baseload was at least 70% of daily total demand.

    • Ross

      Does the exaggeration not come from:

      * The misleading proposition that wind and solar cannot provide baseload power. When these are combined with storage that is baseload.
      * Ignoring demand side management 
      * Assuming that complementary mixes of renewables will not be possible
      * Assuming that technology, in particular storage will not become cheaper

      • Ross

        To round out this list there’s also
        * Grid interconnectors to import/export power
        * Increased local generation

        both to geo-diversify the sources of supply.

        • cesium62

          There are also new use cases that open up over time. Electric cars charged while at work is a plausible use case over the coming years that would shift a lot of demand to the daytime.

    • Does California charge the same for electricity durning the day as electricity during the night?  Generally speaking, demand gets shifted from the day to the night to take advantage of lower prices.  Once solar power pushes down daytime prices there will be a decrease in night time baseload electricity consumption. 

    • cesium62

      That is what we mean by “exaggerated”. 😉 “Baseload demand” is demand that cannot be time shifted. E.g. pumping water to the tops of hills to maintain water pressure can occur pretty much any time of day, and can be planned to occur when electricity is cheap.

      We’ve engaged in a multi-decade campaign to shift demand to the night time to even out demand throughout the day. As renewable production increases we will continue to shift a significant portion of the demand to when electricity is being produced.

  • Vitorvfmf

    I don’t agree with nuclear  power but you 7 reasons are just idiots.

    • Gb


    • Bob_Wallace

      “you 7 reasons are just idiots”

      Need I say more?

      • Gb

         English isn’t always one’s first language.  Anyway, yes, the reasons listed here are laughable and very over simplified. 

  • Anne

    Regarding cost. It seems that not so much the costs per se are the problem, but also the fact that no-one can give an estimate how long the construction of a nuclear plant will take and how high the final bill will be. The government or ratepayers are always on the line for an unknown amount of money. And you can almost guarantee that there are cost overruns. Banks absolutely hate uncertainty. They avoid it like the plague.

    Not too long ago a plan for a new nuclear power plant in The Netherlands were shelved when the government made it clear that it would not offer any guarantees. The shareholders immediately pulled the plug, didn’t want to put their money on the line. The are looking for a sure profit, not a heap of uncertainties.

    Problem with the extremely long planning horizon of building nuclear power is that it is impossible to predict the market 10 years from now. Because that’s how long it takes from the first plans to the first kWh’s. PV is dropping in price fast, very fast. And the bottom is not in sight. The price fall might stop at 7 ct/kWh or 1 ct/kWh, no one knows.

    This massive build out of renewables also introduces a variability that nuclear power does not really cope with well. It is technically possible to run a nuke in load following mode, but not really desirable. But the real killer is that it is an economic disaster. Since building a nuke is so costly, all business plans assume >90% capacity factor. The plant needs that to produce the amount of kWh’s necessary to recoup the investment. Renewable energy now produces >50% of demand in some countries at some times, but you can expect this to grow to be frequently 100% in many countries during the projected lifetime of a nuclear plant (60 years. Not good for profitability.

    • Bob_Wallace

      New nuclear >$0.15/kWh.

      Wind ~ $0.06/kWh.  Expected to drop another 20%.

      Solar ~$0.15/kWh and rapidly falling.

      Geothermal ~$0.09/kwh.

      Storage just has to hit ~$0.15/kWh for renewables + storage to kill nuclear and we’ve got a battery manufacturer going into production predicting $0.06/kWh.

      Do pro-nuclear folks think well-informed private money is willing to invest in something that won’t start producing income for at least six years (more likely 10-12 years) during which the competition is getting stiffer and stiffer?

      And that does not take into account the present very low price of natural gas.  Setting aside GHG problems (which many investors won’t consider) you can’t build a generation plants which must sell 24/365 at an average 15+ cents when a NG plant can be built very much quicker and sell for far less.

      There’s no assurance that we’ll get some sort of carbon pricing in the near future which would give nuclear a price advantage over NG.  

    • Tom

      #8.  WATER
      Nuclear uses a HUGE amount of clean water then dumps out warm hot water.
      Wind Solar Geothermal uses no to tiny amounts of water relative to Nuclear.

      #9. INSURANCE
      All other power plants can be insured, NO insurance agency has ever insured a NUKE, so guess who ultimately does, you guessed it you and me the taxpayer!
      No other industry gets a pass like that, if there is industrial accident at Coal or Nat Gas plant they do have insurance.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Just to emphasize #9 – the people of Japan now own the problem.  TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power COmpany, had neither the capital nor the insurance to deal with the meltdown once it happened.  The profits were going to TEPCO, now the costs go to Japanese taxpayers.

        We are in exactly the same position in the US.  If one of our reactors goes sour (again) and takes out, for example, Savannah neither the plant owner nor the State of Georgia will have sufficient resources to clean up the mess.  We all will be spending for a long time to cover the problem we didn’t cause.

      • great additional items! definitely deserve to be on the list.

    • cesium62

      We can estimate the bottom of Solar PV quite well. Price drops are partly based on a learning curve: as you build more of something, you figure out how to do it more efficiently; and partly on mass production: increased production makes it easier to integrate and optimize processes that were previously farmed out.

      Across a wide variety of industries, including solar, the learning curve roughly drops prices in half every time you increase production by a factor of 10. With PV currently accounting for something like 0.1% to 0.2% of electricity production, it can easily grow by a factor of 100, dropping PV electricity costs to about a quarter of what they are now, and slightly lower than coal or nuclear.

      An alternative way of looking at this is to think about PV in the context of Building Integrated Photovoltaics. A roof covering that happens to produce electricity will cost about as much to manufacture and install as shingles do today. You will eventually be able to get a significant chunk of your electricity for free as a side effect of building your house.

      • Bob_Wallace

        ” slightly lower than coal or nuclear”

        Slightly lower that the cost of coal or nuclear from a paid off plant. If we don’t count the externalizes of coal or the taxpayer provided liability coverage given to nuclear.

        Add in the external costs of coal and solar is already cheaper.

        Solar is already cheaper than new coal or nuclear. The EIA projects the total LCOE of new coal to be 10 to 11 cents per kWh. New nuclear at 11 cents.

        Were we installing PV solar in the US at German prices ($2/watt) then solar would be going on to the grid at under 10 cents per kWh.

        No subsidies included in the solar price. Subsidies for coal and nuclear are included.

  • AshtonFS

    Read this to confirm all doubt – think of the power needed to manage the waste….

    • Looking at the summary of that report, there are some things in that report that aren’t true.  For a start there’s no shortage of uranium.  If you want uranium South Australia has more uranium ore than you can poke a faggot of sticks at.  We don’t have a uranium supply problem, we have a uranium demand problem.  People just aren’t buying enough of it for some strange reason.  Well, actually there are two not so strange reasons.  The cost of nuclear power and safety.  And in the world of finance and insurance that comes down to one reason – cost. 

  • Matt

    Reason for #1
    Is that there is no current a safe design for a nuclear plant that is operational. The latest study that with current plants we SHOULD expect another large mess (Like in Japan) with in next 10 years. In Europe alone they get one with in next 50 years.And as for  thorium nuclear reactors AFTER someone puts up $1billion dollar we are still 15-20 years before industrial plants start coming on line. Assuming all goes well. I’m not saying don’t look a LIFTer desgin; just that if we wait 20 years (2030) for them to get here it is too late. They MAY be a solution to our power needs in 30-50 years but will not help with climate change in the next 20 years when it counts most.

    Reason #4
    Until converted into shorted half live material there is not stroage solution for 10k years. That is longer that recored history. On top of that there is the issue of finding a place politically that you can use. On top of that then you have to move all the material there, ever see a truck or train reck?

    Reason #2
    The only way they “appear” cost effective now is:
    1) The US govermant has agree to cover cost of long tern storage
    2) The US goverment has agree to cover cost of a Japan size mess
    Even with that no one in the US think they can build a new one and make money. Wait they are building one, but only because state goverment told them they can have whatever tax dollars they need to make a profit.

  • Sudhinderthakur

    4. The waste is so small and technological solutions are known. Nuclear wastes have a definite half life. what about the carbon dioxide fossil fuels emit to the atmosphere. They have no half life and no solution is seen in foreseeable future. Nuclear waste are concentrated and conserved rather than thermal discharges which are dispersed for future generations to live with. 

    • gcowan

      Sudhinderthakur says

      Nuclear wastes have a definite half life. what about the carbon dioxide fossil fuels emit to the atmosphere. They have no half life and no solution is seen in foreseeable future.”

      Nuclear wastes have a range of half-lives, such that the the first loss of half the radioactivity in a fuel rod, when it experiences its last shutdown, occurs in seconds, and by the end of the first day it is down by another four factors of two. The “SpentFuelExplorer” Java utility at will let you follow its increasingly slow dividings-by-two from then on.

      Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere similarly is neutralized by various mechanisms at different rates, but one of these mechanisms, the weathering of  alkaline earth silicate rocks, is indeed a foreseeable solution, and one that has inadvertently been put into practice, because it can be accelerated to any necessary degree by pulverizing those rocks.

    • Anne

      Can you explain why implementation of a long term storage is such a problematic affair? I believe the Finns have made the most progress, or actually sort of the only progress. But I may have missed something.

      It may be technically feasible, but if I don’t see it happening, it has me wondering: why?

      • Bill_Woods

         In the US, the WIPP has been operating without fuss for over a decade. There’s no technical reason it couldn’t be expanded to take non-military waste.

        “As of December 2010, the plant had received and stored 9,207 shipments (72,422 cubic meters) of waste.”

    • Bob_Wallace

      Small waste?

      “A long deferred cleanup is now under way at 114 of the nation’s nuclear facilities, which encompass an acreage equivalent to Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Many smaller sites, the easy ones, have been cleansed, but the big challenges remain. What’s to be done with 52,000 tons (47,000 metric tons) of dangerously radioactive spent fuel from commercial and defense nuclear reactors? With 91 million gallons (345 million liters) of high-level waste left over from plutonium processing, scores of tons of plutonium, more than half a million tons of depleted uranium, millions of cubic feet of contaminated tools, metal scraps, clothing, oils, solvents, and other waste? And with some 265 million tons (240 million metric tons) of tailings from milling uranium ore—less than half stabilized—littering landscapes?” 

      And that’s just the US waste….

  • Sudhinderthakur

    3. No one needs a fan when the wind is blowing or to switch on lights during the sun shine. Sure renewable have a huge potential and must be exploited fully, 10% consistent shortage, not including the demand which was not created because it would not be met, is no exaggeration of the base load requirement. With 700 kWh per capita consumption, we are definite to return to the so called hindu rate of growth unless all options for electricity generation are fully exploited. 

    • Anne

       But most people do need a fan when the sun is shining.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Peak electricity demand is when the sun is shining.

      People are busy doing stuff and air conditioners are sucking power.

      Baseload is an outdated concept.  Let it go.  The task is to supply power when it is needed.  

      Solar and offshore wind work very well to supply power during peak hours.  Onshore gives us a lot of nighttime power.  The task is how to best integrate all the renewable sources and to create storage to tie things together.

      • 8lincoln8

        So your saying we don’t need electricity during the day when its cloudy nor at night when it’s not windy?  Are there statistics saying that this is always peak periods at least 95% of the time?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Did you have to search down in your socks to find a question that dumb?

          Let me repeat for you…

          Solar and offshore wind work very well to supply power during peak hours.  Onshore gives us a lot of nighttime power.  The task is how to best integrate all the renewable sources and to create storage to tie things together.”Again…”The task is how to best integrate all the renewable sources and to create storage to tie things together. ”

          It’s very clear that we don’t need to have “baseload” plants rumbling along 24/7.  And since coal and nuclear are expensive ways to generate electricity that’s a good thing.

          • Mitchell

            1 Because it is not a fast enough response to climate change
                  This shouldn’t even be an argument here. Like Sudhinderthakur said Just because it doesn’t fix it by itself doesn’t mean it doesn’t help it.
            But to add to it France (79% Nuclear) has the smallest Carbon footprint in Europe (as well as cheapest electricity), while Denmark is leading in Wind Power (20%) but also has the highest greenhouse gas emissions2. Because it is too expensive
                 The building of Nuclear Power Plants is high, I will agree. Studys have shown coal-fired plant 78% of the cost is the fuel, for a gas-fired plant the figure is 89%, and for nuclear the uranium is about 14%, or double that to include all front end costs. Places like Spain have decreased it by boosting enrichment levels. But enough of conventional power;
            What’s the opportunity cost of Solar, or wind farms? The amount of land that you are arguing for is massive. wind generation will occupy land areas of over 50 Acres Per Megawatt of power output. At the most 60,000 acres would be required to produce the same power output as a large, 1.2 gigawatt, conventional power plant which occupies less than 200 acres of land.Could that not be used more efficiently? Oh you want to put the Wind farms off shore… but didn’t Tom mention that they use little to no water? Well not when you have a huge farm off shore.
            3. Because the need for baseload electricity is exaggerated.
            Any power source can be baseload if you store it, yet another mu point.
            4. Because the problem of waste remains unresolved
            The size of a uranium pellet versus the amount of coal needed for the same amount of power is unthinkable. Go ahead look it up if you don’t believe me.
            5. Because it will increase the risk of nuclear war
            How so? You associate nuclear power with nuclear war? When has any uranium from a plant being stolen and used after going through the process of turning it into a warhead? Its not like a flash drive where it is versatile, it take much manipulating.
            6. Because there are safety concerns
            There hasn’t been any deaths caused to workers in the Nuclear power in the US, but wind has 41 Worker Fatalities, 16 Public- Includes falling from turbine towers and transporting turbines on thehighway….

            7. Because there are better alternatives.
            Please enrich me on these better alternatives.
            #8 by Tom
            Yes it uses water, a pretty large amount also. But every drop is returned to the environment. The only thing it changes is the temperature of the water. Which is only a degree basically next to the plant ,I live less than a mile from one and I swim about a mile or two away.
            #9 insurance
            The need for insurance is close to 0. The regulations that are needed to run a nuclear power plant is very strict. The NRC has regulations for just about everything making the US Nuclear Plants extremely safe, the reason a tradgidy happened in Japan is the had very loose rules compared to us. We actually have training to handle what happened in Japan, before it actually happened, and when it did they reviewed it to make sure it is the right way to go about it
            Sorry my answers became shorter, I was running out of time, as I ( believe it or not) have a life.

          • Bob_Wallace

            1. Fast enough to avoid the worst of climate change is an extremely important consideration.  And you’ve got some misinformation about lifetime carbon footprints.

            2. The amount of land needed for solar and wind is far from massive.  Again, you’ve got some misinformation in your database.

            3. Can’t make sense of your point.  

            4. You do not realize the amount of radioactive waste we already have.  There’s no way we should multiply that amount with no decent disposal solution.

            5. Not my point.  But reactors will be terrorist targets.

            6. We have no data on the number of people killed during nuclear plants construction.  We do know that people have been killed during operation.  Without proper data we can make no sense of the “worker death” issue.

            7. Wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal, wave, and biomass/gas.

            8. The water is returned to the source at an elevated temperature which can cause environmental damage.  We are seeing reactors being shut down during heat waves because the water coming out of the reactor exceeds safe limits.

            9.  Right.  Reactors need no insurance.  Let the taxpayers eat the cost when one goes sour like what is happening in Japan right now.

            You really have no idea how many close calls we’ve had in the US, do you?

            You think we’ve got some sort of special mojo that will keep Homer from melting one down just because We’re America!!!

  • Sudhinderthakur

    2. It is expensive to set up, but so are all good things. Finally it is the cost of electricity, unless it is competitive, who will set up nuclear plants. 435 nuclear reactors are producing and selling electricity most in developed electricity markets.

    • Bob_Wallace

      No, wind is comparatively cheap and solar is getting so.

      Wind and solar are definitely “good things”.

      Electricity from a new nuclear plant would be several times more expensive than electricity from a plant built many decades ago.  The only place where new nuclear is being built is where the government is providing some/all of the money or customers are being “pre-charged” for power they might or might not get far into the future.

  • Sudhinderthakur

    1. While nuclear power may not be fast enough in response to climate change, but without nuclear power the response to climate change will be sure slower.

    • Anne

      You can only spend your money once, money spent on nuclear power can not be used for more effective means of reducing fossil fuel use.

    • Bob_Wallace

      That makes no sense to me.

      Building a new nuclear plant takes 6 (very optimistic) to 12+ years.

      Large wind farms are sometimes built in less than a year, almost always within two years.

      Large solar arrays are erected in only months.

      Building nuclear plants requires trained and experienced engineers and technicians.  The world does not have enough of these people to allow more than a handful of plants to built at a time.  Educating and training a large number of new workers would take many years.  

      Then there’s a problem of forging containment domes.  Currently only a few can be forged per year. 

      Wind farms and solar arrays require mostly “common” construction skills.  The needed wind techs can be trained in a few months.

      There are no manufacturing constraints for wind turbines and solar panels.  We can crank them out at a terrific pace.

      • Bill_Woods

        “Building a new nuclear plant takes 6 (very optimistic) to 12+ years.”

        Of the last 10 reactors built in Japan, 9 were built in 4.1 to 5.1 years. (Their fast breeder project had problems.)
        Of the last 10 reactors built in Korea, 9 were built in 4.2 to 5.2 years. The other took 6.2 years. So obviously it’s possible to build plants in 6 years, given experience.

        “Large wind farms are sometimes built in less than a year, almost always within two years.”

        What’s large, 200 MW? So in 6 years, you can build 1200 MW of wind? But it’ll only produce a third as much energy as a 1200-MW reactor. Obviously wind power isn’t “a fast enough response to climate change” either. … Oh wait! We can build more than one wind farm — or reactor — at a time!

        “Then there’s a problem of forging containment domes. Currently only a few can be forged per year.”

        (Pressure vessels, not containment domes.)  In 1980-87, 189 reactors (175 GW) came on-line — 24 reactors (22 GW) per year. So capacity can be rebuilt.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Why do you report only the reactors built in a short period of time and not the ones that are now stretching out past a decade?

          • Bill_Woods

             Those ‘Country Statistics’ pages can be sorted by connection date, but not by construction start date. I got those dates for the most recent 10 for each country, but there’s a limit to the work I’m going to do to make a minor point. If you’re interested, data for all 62 Japanese and 26 Korean reactors is there.

            Anyway, recent experience is probably more relevant to the future than whatever troubles builders had back in the 1970s and ’80s.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If  you count the time it takes to build a new reactor only from the date construction begins you lower the actual amount of time it takes to create a reactor.  In addition to the 5+ years of actual construction there can be years of planning and design.

            Then if you cherry-pick the ones which were constructed in shorter times you tell a different story than if you include builds such as Olkiluoto 3 which is now at least 14 years from license application to completion or the  Flamanville plant which is four years behind schedule.

            The US installed 6,816 MW of new wind generation in 2011.   At 33% realized capacity that’s 2,250 MW of additional power on the grid.  That’s close to three average reactors.  We could easily install multiples of that 2011 number because there are not the limitations against which nuclear has to struggle.

            But all this “how long” stuff is largely irrelevant.

            Nuclear has been priced off the table.  New nuclear will only get built in the US if taxpayers provide the money or ratepayers get ripped off for the money.

        • 8lincoln8

          You have to take into consideration that the international average load capacities of nuclear power is now 89% and wind power is around 35% (decreases with more installations) and solar is less.  Germany has around 25GW of wind installed  but that would only generate around 5GW (Germany only has an average load factor of 18% now because they are forced to install them in less windy areas).

  • Michael Blumenstock

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very keen ecologist, but to put things right:

    Point number 1: Releasing no carbon-dioxid to the atmosphere
    would be a plus for a nuclear power plant!
    The mining industry for Uranium, of course, needs enourmos amounts of energy (non-regenerative, releasing carbon-dioxid) to produce very little material, but isn’t that the same at the production of solar-cells!?
    Point 1 is maybe the only PRO for nuclear power!

    • Anne

      Good point. People like to point out that renewable energy increases carbon emissions because of all the factories that produce pv panels and wind turbines. While this may be true in the short term, in the long term these factories will be powered by renewable energy themselves. The same is true for nuclear power.

      And there is no fundamental reason why mining operations couldn’t be powered by electricity. It’s a challenge, that’s for sure. But so was putting a man on the Moon.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Underground mining is already being powered with electricity.  Moving to electricity powered surface mining would not involve inventing new technology, just implementing what we already have.

    •  If the USA went to 100% nuclear for our electricity, we would run out of uranium in under a decade.

      We have the great big fusion reactor in the sky, also known as the Sun!  It is already up and running, and it is at a relatively safe distance — let’s use it.


  • It is not actually “low carbon”.  Nuclear power emits about 66-75% as much carbon as coal, if you include all the steps from mining the uranium all the way through to decommissioning the plant and the 1,000’s and 1,000’s of years of storage of the waste.  Maintenance is expensive, and wiring needs replacing, etc. so over the entire lifetime, a lot of energy is “invested” into the process.

    Nuclear waste is at risk for being used by terrorists.

    No nuclear plant is 100% safe.  Vermont Yankee has had leaks and a collapse.  Two plants in Oklahoma (of all places!) almost flooded last year.  There should be multiple redundancies for both cooling and power to run the plant in emergencies.

    The supply of uranium is finite.  We may have already passed peak uranium?  The fact that they *want* to mine in the Grand Canyon is proof.

    The best alternatives are renewable energy.  No renewable energy has ANY of these problems.


    • gcowan


      • Bob_Wallace

        Well, when I read Neil’s points I find them believable.  They match the facts that I know them.

        You can call him a liar, but because you don’t point out where he is mistaken and back up your claims with facts then your opinion is worthless.

        Furthermore, you’re acting like a dick….

        • Gb

           Nuclear is low carbon and to think that it releases 60-75% of carbon that coal does is incorrect and if you think it is, how?  Yes, the mining process does use carbon and ect, but that is true of EVERY energy source (renewable as well).  Anyway, just passing through. 

          • Bob_Wallace

            Passing through what?

            We should ignore the problems associated with uranium mining and refinement?  

            Because those facts are inconvenient for the glow -fans?

          • Gb

             Who said ignore?  I’m just saying don’t over-state them.  Because the reality is even with all the mining, processing, storage, transportation, it still is a smaller footprint than any “renewable” source maybe save for hydro.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you include the “outside the plant” emissions then nuclear has a lifetime carbon footprint 
            400% to 1600% of wind, hydro, solar.

            If you want to play the omission game then the carbon footprint of an installed solar panel is zero.

            Makes no sense to do only a partial accounting when it is the total carbon release that’s causing us problems.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “(T)he following are average estimates of total greenhouse gasses by production type with numbers of grams of CO2e/kWh: 

            1000 – coal

             900 – oil 

            750 – open cycle natural gas 

            580 – closed cycle natural gas (closed cycle natural gas combined with co-generation might bring this down to 400 g. CO2e/kWh) 

            500 coal plant burning 50% coal with 50% miscanthus 

            110 – old solar photovoltaics 

            95 – biomass from miscanthus 

            85 – nuclear 

            40 – concentrated solar thermal with thermal storage 

            35 – new solar photovoltaics 

            25 – biomass from gasification of wood chips (used to fuel conventional natural gas turbines) 

            21 – wind 

            15 – hydroelectricity 

            <10 – geothermal doublet"

            "This places the carbon footprint of nuclear as 400% to 1600% of wind, hydro, solar, but about 15% of natural gas, and 8.5% of coal. Bear in mind that some estimates for the nuclear are much higher." 


          • Bill_Woods

            So, do you still find Neil’s claim, “Nuclear power emits about 66-75% as much carbon as coal,” believable?

            By these figures, nuclear is 91.5% less than coal, solar thermal is 96% less, wind is 98% less. The difference isn’t really big enough to matter.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think Neil used numbers from one of the studies that found a high carbon output for nuclear.  If you check the link I provided there is a discussion of the range of estimates made.

            The numbers I just gave are a more moderate estimate.  

            Using that more moderate number  the carbon footprint of nuclear is several times that of wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and biomas.

            That nuclear is better than coal is in its favor, but the difference between nuclear and renewables is not insignificant.

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