IPCC Report

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by jacob » Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:45 pm

How many nuclear power plants are there currently in the US? (60)
How much electricity is being generated by nuclear reactors currently? (20%)
How much electricity is being generated by renewable sources currently? (17%)
How great a fraction does power generation comprise out of all fossil based GHG emissions? (28%)

Presume that the mix between nuclear and renewable energy is preserved, how many nuclear reactors does the US need to build each year to cut current GHG emissions by 50% within the next 11 years? (We're seeking a transition where everything, including transportation and residential heating, is electrified.)

Left as an exercise for the reader.

Hint: It's more than a few...

Add: Bonus question for extra credit. Uranium production has peaked in multiple countries but reserves are estimated at 145 years at current consumption rates. How many years would reserves last if nuclear power production was expanded as per the above.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by prognastat » Mon Nov 12, 2018 1:15 pm

The problem is the people concerned about global warming are generally the same people that are concerned about nuclear power.

The group that is both concerned about global warning and either not concerned about nuclear power or less concerned about it than global warming is very small and doesn't hold significant political sway. Might change if more people become more concerned about global warming to the point where it does outweigh their concern for nuclear power.

For Republicans it doesn't sell because there isn't a major concern surrounding global warming and so it just sounds like a lot of spending for in the long run possibly some small savings. For Democrats nuclear power is too controversial due to both the deaths it has caused previously, the perceived environmental damage and the link to nuclear weapons.

The main problem is that though fossil fuel deaths both through pollution and global warming are indirect and often spread out, whereas deaths due to nuclear power though in total amounts far fewer are sudden. The latter makes for much better news headlines and is thus what people generally fear more.

I do think nuclear would have been a good transitional energy source to reduce emissions while renewables aren't sustainable, but I don't think it's politically feasible.

It of course wouldn't be a full solution as energy production at power plants is only part of our fossil fuel use.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by jennypenny » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:46 pm

I dunno. When nuclear plants fail, they fail bigly. They can be vulnerable to weather events (see Duke plant in NC after hurricane), natural disasters (Fukushima), fire (see plants in CA), and human error (TMI). With weather becoming more unstable and the average human becoming dumber and more fragile, I'm not sure we should be introducing more potential catastrophes into the mix by building more nuclear plants. In the US in particular, we're not exactly known for taking good care of our infrastructure. And if things really go to shit like Bendell and others think in the next 20-30 years, who's going to babysit them?

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by prognastat » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:56 pm

That's exactly what my point was. Nuclear fails are impressive and imposing, but fossil fuel use actually kills far more people, but we don't look at it the same as it happens slowly every day with people dying sooner than they would have through indirect means. When x% of people die sooner than they otherwise would have by increased odds at cancer due to air/water pollution. Or a larger percentage of people die of starvation due to droughts in the third world. Those don't make interesting news headlines. As humans we are biased to focus on big events such as a nuclear meltdown and downplay the indirect influence thing such as fossil fuels have.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by jennypenny » Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:09 pm

I want to curtail environmental and health problems from fossil fuels, I just don't want to do it in a way that potentially makes things worse. I'd rather see rationing of energy use.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:12 pm

@jacob: Approximately 24 new nuclear plants/year needed (240 total)at a total cost of approximately 2 trillion dollars or .2 trillion/year to construct = 5% total federal budget over all 10 years. This obviously does not include cost of the proportional growth of renewable sources. Since building material and processes are highly energy intensive themselves, this might roughly double the amount of the federal budget being spent on direct energy use and therefore double the amount of CO2 emitted in relationship to federal spending in the meanwhile. At 5X greater usage rate, the remaining stores of uranium would last approximately 30 years. So, overall average cost for short term alleviation of problem would be approximately 60 billion/year. Something like that.

OTOH, doubling the forest cover of the U.S. would cost about the same 2 trillion and would likely have about the same effect in reducing emissions since it would both increase sink and reduce the acreage available for activities that produce emissions, and this could be a permanent solution. Downside would be worldwide increased food costs.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by Jean » Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:10 pm

Serious concerns among environementalist about nuclear power plants, are more about wastes than accidents.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by Campitor » Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:58 pm

@Jacob

Agreed. Sorry for not being precise. I was thinking of immediate feedback via the charging of the true cost of GHG emitting behavior via the spigots individual residents control such as the price of gasoline/oil/electricity at the user source.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by Bankai » Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:43 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:12 pm
Downside would be worldwide increased food costs.
Easy to suggest from the position of strength. What about places where people (1b+) already spend between 50-100% of income on food.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by prognastat » Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:00 pm

Jean wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:10 pm
Serious concerns among environementalist about nuclear power plants, are more about wastes than accidents.
Maybe among academics and serious environmentalists, but I doubt it among the voting public which would actually be the ones catered to by politicians.

Also as for waste the benefit of nuclear waste is that it is mostly containable with the main problem being failures, with carbon based fuels the waste getting out in the atmosphere is the norm. It's not a "failure" of fossil fuels when emissions end up in the air, it's expected.

@jennypenny

I'd say rationing is as unlikely as switching to nuclear. Possibly less likely as given we had to choose between keeping up consumption but having to switch to nuclear or curb use that the majority would vote for switching over rationing.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by jacob » Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:14 pm

@Bankai -

In those places, those, who can, will move or flee. (The difference just being in terms of how orderly/early it happens)
Those, who can not flee, will stay and fight for the remaining resources.
Those who lose that fight will starve and die either directly or from epidemics which take hold in the weakened population.

This is how it has worked historically and how it's working now.

However, in modern times, people fleeing because they can not afford to eat food or buy water are not considered real refugees under the UN system(?!). As far as I understand, refugee status is reserved for people who are oppressed or persecuted politically by others humans rather than suffering from any emerging deficiency in their environment. The way various international legal systems are set up means that individuals therefore have to wait for a bonafide war to break out (see Yemen) and be on the losing side (see Syria) before other countries have to legally treat them as refuges. Otherwise they're "just immigrants".

Huge movements of people are forecast from this---hundreds of millions by mid century. Because this is a finite pie problem, countries are building walls, mostly to wall in other countries but also setting unfortunate precedents for being walled in themselves one day *cough*. After WWII, there were only 7 walled borders in the world. Today there are more than 77 such borders. This is the current trend. The alternative is a combination of voluntarily reducing births and making diets less meat intensive in order to make food cheaper on the world market.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by Jean » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:26 pm

The risk that the pie gets so small that we have to fight here in the future is in itself enough of a reason to leave them out. Which doesn't mean that reducing our consumption to increase their chance of making a living at home isn't even more important.
Last edited by Jean on Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by jennypenny » Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:36 pm

Peter Watts on the IPCC report ... The Adorable Optimism of the IPCC

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by chenda » Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:27 pm

I'm genuinely getting frightened.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:42 am

@Bankai@Jean:

It depends on whether you primarily see yourself as caretaker, peer-trader, peer-competitor, or one-who-needs-care in relationship to other people.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by Campitor » Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:28 am

jacob wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:45 pm
How many nuclear power plants are there currently in the US? (60)
How much electricity is being generated by nuclear reactors currently? (20%)
How much electricity is being generated by renewable sources currently? (17%)
How great a fraction does power generation comprise out of all fossil based GHG emissions? (28%)

Presume that the mix between nuclear and renewable energy is preserved, how many nuclear reactors does the US need to build each year to cut current GHG emissions by 50% within the next 11 years? (We're seeking a transition where everything, including transportation and residential heating, is electrified.)

Left as an exercise for the reader.

Hint: It's more than a few...

Add: Bonus question for extra credit. Uranium production has peaked in multiple countries but reserves are estimated at 145 years at current consumption rates. How many years would reserves last if nuclear power production was expanded as per the above.
Nuclear reactors are not all equal - some produce more energy than others (single reactor vs multi-reactor) so I'll average them out as if they were all producing the same amount of energy. Each nuclear plant contributes 0.3333...% to US energy production.

If 60 plants are producing 20% of the electricity and renewable sources produce 17%, we have a 63% gap to reach 100% non-GHG energy producing compliance. 189 additional nuclear plants are required to bridge the 63% gap. We need to build 39 nuclear plants to bridge the 13% gap to get to the 50% GHG compliance. Considering the 11 year time frame, we would need to build 17 nuclear plants a year for the 63% gap or 3+ nuclear plants per year for the 13% gap. I suspect the inspection and compliance process by the NRC would prevent building even 1 nuclear power plant per year - no way Washington will fast track certification. And I suspect the NIMBY crowd would greatly slow down or prevent nuclear plant construction as well.

There are 450 nuclear power plants in the world and 145 years of uranium supply remaining. I'll average them out as if they were all consuming the same amount of uranium; each plant will consume 0.3222... years worth of the remaining uranium. If the US builds another 189 nuclear plants, and they each consume 0.3222...yrs of uranium; that will deduct 61 years. If we build 39 nuclear plants, we will only deduct 12.56 years.

The Japanese are experimenting with sea water uranium extraction - which supposedly could add another 64K years to our supply: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_m ... m_seawater. And Thorium is another source we can use. But we only need to bridge the gap long enough for renewable energy to dominate.

Disclaimer - I'm not a nuclear physicist so I suspect knowledge correction is incoming from the forum nuclear physicist in-chief.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:16 pm

Serious concerns among environementalist about nuclear power plants
:D wow. I didn't know those words could be combined like that. :D thank you, you made my morning!

@ Jacob. We've been down this road before. But a few questions, as long as we are here again.

In your renewable sources, is hydro counted? This is a serious question, as locally, we are almost 100% renewable, if hydro is renewable, and nearly 0% if it's not. And every local push from renewable advocates considers hydro an abomination. In the meantime, we build natural gas plants, because capital costs are lower, and regulations have choked up all other paths.

We don't build nukes anymore. We won't build them until my generation is dead. Too much fearmongering, for too long. See JPs reaction.

How old are our plants? We don't build nukes. When was the last time we built hydro? How much will CC decrease our hydro, with decreased rain, or worse, decreased rain that falls in a more sudden way.

Locally we had a small, inflatable wier hydro plant project shut down by NIMBYs who couldn't even find the river they were so protective of. :roll:

And our DOE is politicizing water rights. This should work out equitably. :roll:

We had a local initiative to add a revenue neutral carbon tax 2 years ago. Blues rallied against it, and it failed 40/60. Then we just tried again, using a politically charged committee, and the fees going into a slush fund, with national support, and a full blue press, and it died 42/58.

But I must be all depressed because I say that government can't solve this. :D This doesn't feel like depression. It feels like observation.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by jacob » Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:38 pm

Hydro is 7% of the electricity production. You can leave it out of the calculation if you want.

I'm aware of the "controversy" whether hydro is really renewable insofar the silt can't be cleaned out behind the dam. On the timescale of this problem, we can go either way. It doesn't make a material difference.

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Re: IPCC Report

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:09 pm

Oh, I'm sorry. I communicate poorly. My point was that most of our non carbon energy sources were built from the 50-70's. And shut down by the same faction that now wants carbon neutral energy. Just different, more feel good energy. Until they realize how much clean water gets used to make solar cells.

BTW, to contribute to the thread, Uranium is common, 51st most common in the Earth's crust. 40 times more abuntant than silver. But we mine it by injecting hot water in boreholes, dissolving the uranium, pumping the water back out, and evaporating the water back out. This seems like a far worse pollution issue than fracking. This seems likely to move dissolved uranium into a water table.

And since used fuel can be reused in other plants to again make electricity, and the secondary use makes for more highly radioactive waste (ie doesn't last as long as a threat) this is going to be some complicated math.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in nuclear anything. I'm just a geek who reads a bit, here and there. Most of this information came from blogs of people who are in the industry. Google "Nader"+"Cohen" and be prepared to be surprised by science.

ETA: it turns out that it's been a few years since I ran that search. Now it brings up an infinite variety of political BS. Something something tump, plus something Nader (not Ralph) and something Cohen, equals rage clicks, and Google ranking, it seems. But Nader+Cohen+plutonium gets in the right area. Many of those blogs seem to have dropped off the web, though. Almost like working in a heavily regulated, politically sensitive industry is not conducive to open blogs...
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Re: IPCC Report

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:37 pm

@Campitor:

We were both wrong first back of envelope attempt.

Nuclear + Renewable = only 37% of total electrical production which itself is only = 28% of GHG production. So, the 63% of electrical power generation which is fossil-based accounts for 28% of total GHG emissions. So, in best case scenario in which other sources such as petroleum can be smoothly replaced by nuclear or renewable, each additional nuclear plant/renewable combo would only eliminate approximately (28/63)(37/60)=.274% of total emissions. So, 50% reduction through such means would require 50/.274=182 new plants and 100% reduction would require 364 new plants.

I also didn't include world wide number of nuclear plants in my uranium calculation.

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