What is your opinion on nuclear energy?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by G51989, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. macrumors 68030


    Feb 25, 2012
    NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
    I am curious as to what the fellow board members feel about nuclear energy.

    Are you for or against, why or why not?

    I understand the risk's of nuclear energy very well.

    However, in an age where Oil, Coal, and Natural gas cause much environmental harm, and are becoming more and more expensive, and we deplete these resources more and more, faster and faster.

    It is clear that we need to start investing in Solar, Wind, and Hydro. While these are great power sources, they don't pack enough punch to power the nation.

    Nuclear does pack that punch, and when done correctly is a very safe and very clean way to produce power, yes there is the risk of a meltdown, but that is mostly solved with newer reactor designs ( Such as the AP1000 from Westinghouse ), newer reactors also produce less waste.

    I feel that if the waste can be disposed of and buried properly, and strick safety guidelines are followed. Nuclear energy can be a great stop gap until the advent of fusion.
  2. macrumors G5


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    I'm proud to present to you the following 30-minute talk show in favor of Nuclear power.

    P & T: BullS*t! - Nuclear Power, Renewable Power and Lesbians

    I'm in favor of Solar mostly. Yes solar doesn't have a strong punch right now. But if every household in the US had 4 solar panels, then we'd have a strong solar production.

    That is besides the solar farms we can build out in sunny places like Arizona/New Mexico/Texas.
  3. macrumors 68000


    Aug 17, 2009
    The problem with nuclear power is that it is not actually all that "clean". There is quite a bit of auxiliary energy required to support nuclear power that cannot adequately be supplied by nuclear power itself. Manufacturing the facilities, mining and refining the fuel, retiring and replacing old units (a fission reactor has a useful life of a few decades before the radiation severely compromises its viability, and they are rather costly to replace – a theoretical fusion reactor would be even much worse).

    Our energy needs can more easily be met simply by reducing how much we waste. A large amount of our energy consumption goes to making garbage, including disposable products like Bic pens, happy meal toys and iPhones, trimming the waste stream to a reasonable level would go a long, long way toward addressing our basic energy requirements to the point where sustainable sources might be better suited to handling the nation's needs (which would also entail reshaping the economy to fit the situation).

    Of course, the "green" energy production devices themselves require a lot of energy to construct in the first place, perhaps more than they themselves could supply. Our comfort and relative wealth is saturated in oil, escaping it will a much bigger deal to hopping over to a different source, what ever that might be.
  4. thread starter macrumors 68030


    Feb 25, 2012
    NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
    I am in favor of solar as well, however it just is not feasible as a main power source for the country, it is a great supplemental source.

    I feel that we will always need a strong core source of power, like Nuclear. When the wind isnt blowing and the sun isn't shining.
  5. macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2011
    It's Never A Good Night To Have A Curse
    I don't know if they're actively being built yet, or are still in the planning phases, but newer plants not only produce less radioactive waste, but can consume the waste from older plants as fuel. Considering the only other waste produced by nuclear is simple water steam, you can't ask for a cleaner high yield energy source this side of fusion, which is only now starting to become viable, and still has a ways to go before it can be put into widespread use.

    Nuclear supplemented with renewable energy sources like solar and wind is THE way to go.

    Though the threat of a meltdown is something to be seriously considered, that one potential negative (and it's a big damn negative, admittedly) is outweighed by the actual positives of nuclear energy.
  6. macrumors 65816


    Mar 22, 2010
    Article from Time magazine sums up the problems with nuclear energy: even if one figured out a safe way to store waste, the economics just don't add up.


    That article is corroborated with greater detail on the economics of nuclear energy in this article ...

  7. macrumors 6502


    Apr 13, 2013
    I'm a fan of nuclear. The two main issues people have with it are the fear of meltdown and waste disposal. The meltdown fear is kind of legitimate, just look at Fukushima. All in all, it's a very safe technology though. As for waste disposal, well you highlighted in your post how tech has become better at this.

    It's an incredibly efficient process, much more than coal, oil and gas, and provides a lot of energy to people. This is all in reference to fission though, and fusion is where the future is at. A few months back scientists managed to extract for the first time more energy out of the fusion process than was put in. Keep your eyes peeled, we'll have more energy than you can wave a stick at soon :)

  8. G51989, Jan 5, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014

    thread starter macrumors 68030


    Feb 25, 2012
    NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
    That does make valid points.

    However, with the rising costs of fossil fuels, and increased emissions from fossil fuel plants. Public dollars being put into loans and insurance for nuclear plants may be the only viable option for generating large sources of energy.

    Wind, Hydro and Solar are great supplements, but simply will not power the country by themselves.

    Also we can ad into the equation that new generations of reactors will be much cheaper to build than the old ones.

    I understand that some people want to power the world with windmills and drum circles, but that simply isn't possible.
  9. macrumors 68000


    Jun 8, 2009
    Here in the UK the government seems to be heading towards more nuclear plants. I am not so sure that is a good idea. We live on an island with limited land space, and as we now know, a single nuclear accident can contaminate large swaths of land. I prefer wind, solar, and even natural gas.
  10. macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Despite its potential, few in the U.S. ever seem to mention geothermal energy and even fewer mention enhanced geothermal systems as viable alternative energy sources.

  11. macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2012
    Personally, I am in favour of all non-fossil fuel energy sources.

    I am in favour of nuclear technology in general but I am not so convinced by its economics or long term strategies. To me, it takes far too long to achieve anything meaningful in the nuclear industry. I considered a job in it once upon a time. In the UK, there is a lot of talk about new reactors, which is fine but I am still yet to see any long term strategies for waste.

    I would like to see more efforts into recyling nuclear waste (fast breeder etc) but no-one is willing to fork out the dough for a commerical facility and this is nuclears biggest issue.

    On another side note, if I could afford it (and if I had a house) I would make it in my best efforts to become as self dependant as possible by producing as much energy as possible (solar, mini-wind turbines, batteries etc).

    I am not anti fossil fuel. I wish to reduce the impact of our activities on the planet but at the same time I want to be realistic.

    As for fusion, its a pipedream at the moment. Its not even worth discussing. At the end of the day, nuclear fission and renewables work. Fusion doesn't.
  12. macrumors 6502


    Apr 14, 2013
    I'd rather we keep spending on "green" energy and tech.
  13. macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2006
    My opinion?
    Short term, it's much better than fossil.
    Long term, it's a very, very bad idea.
  14. macrumors G3


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Until they can come up with an adequate waste disposal scheme, I am against nuclear energy. You've got poison that persists for not just millennium, but basically forever in human terms (for Plutonium 239, it's 240,000 years). That is just not acceptable. And no one wants this waste stored in their back yards, NO ONE, even in France which I believe has the largest number of reactors.

    As far as alternative sources not having "enough punch", they do if they were built. I don't have the link, but a Popular Science solar power article mentioned that a 10x10 square mile solar farm would produce enough electricity to power the entire USA. Ultimately due to transmission distance, a single farm like this placed in the Western desert could not power the East Coast, but the point is made.
  15. macrumors 6502


    Apr 25, 2012
    Port St Lucie FL
    Nuclear is an interesting option if you disregard the long term waste storage. The costs associated with nuclear is killing the industry. Nuclear grade everything was the mentality. Now we are seeing a more sensible approach with components that protect nuclear safety.

    From a business perspective, utilities are having unique problems based on their regulated or non regulated nature. Regulated is having to streamline their operations to be as cost effective as other cheaper methods of energy production. Non regulated is feeling a serious price crunch on wholesale energy pricing based on natural gas production costs. Utilities are now idling or closing plants based on the competitive market for nuclear versus other sources, as opposed to the old days where nuclear was the base load and other plants cycled for demand ebb and flow. This is a big departure for nuclear.

    Having lived in areas that are relatively pro nuclear, I don't see the political demands on a plant located in areas not as pro nuclear. In the north east plants will be shut down based on age and the politics. The importance of the local politics is important on how events are reported and spun.

    Nuclear had its time and place in meeting the demands of customers for many years. I think well valued and efficiently operated plants will always be utilized in the base load for America. Plus I don't really trust the low costs of natural gas to hedge our energy production on for the long term. It's almost to good to be true.

    With all that said, industry events around the world will eventually price nuclear out of the equation. The retro fit post Fukushima is going to be staggering. Companies that aren't as diversified in other energy productions will have to sit down and weigh their options. Exelon has some serious issues with their fleet which is heavily invested in nuclear and is in a non regulated competitive market. They cancelled uprate plans based on market prices. I hate to see what happens when federally mandated upgrades are required to protect against Fukushima type events. I would hope that non coastal plants would have some requirements relaxed, but when it's the government one can never be sure.

    My two main concerns with nuclear have been waste storage and what happens when we are done with the areas where we operated. If those were easier to handle and answer, nuclear would be a better political answer. Times have changed and alternative energy sources are the rage. Just don't forget about us nuclear plants when gas prices soar again. We'll be waiting, if we can last that long.
  16. macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2005
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    In general I am for nuclear power. With that being said the waste disposal needs to be tackled head on and we need to come up with good ways of getting rid of the waste.

    The next home I own will hopefully be one I build. That house will use a combo of geothermal and solar for most/all of the electricity and heating/cooling requirements.
  17. macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2011
    It's Never A Good Night To Have A Curse
    Read my link again. No, IFRs won't curtail waste entirely, but since newer reactors built with this technology can use the waste of old reactors, and burn them for far longer, it'll slow down its build up by a tremendous amount.
  18. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    The Pros:
    • Very little greenhouse gas footprint
    • A lot safer than coal

    The Cons:
    • Extremely expensive
    • Waste disposal
    • Potential for catastrophic event
    • Terrorism

    The reduction of reactor sizes has progressed very well over the decades. I'm sure the US Navy has a lot of secret info on their ship reactors. It would be nice to leverage that technology such that smaller but more reactors could be used. This, of course, reduces the risk of a catastrophic event but also provides more targets for terrorists.

    It's too bad fusion energy hasn't progressed further. That would be a lot safer and more efficient than fission.
  19. macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2011
    It's Never A Good Night To Have A Curse
    If a terrorist managed to sneak a large amount of explosives into the core of a nuclear reactor, we'd probably deserve the ensuing meltdown for being so lax with our security.
  20. macrumors 68000


    Aug 13, 2003
    the faraway towns

    Careful in presenting such a straw man, the pro-nuclear group tend to ignore the harsh reality that nuclear power is very expensive and inefficient. The industry ignores externalities—digging up uranium has many of the same costs as finding rare earth metals—and use handwavium any time someone mentions the storage issue, which is huge.
  21. thread starter macrumors 68030


    Feb 25, 2012
    NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
    Yeah, with how secure the plants are, and they are VERY secure, typically with decent sized groups of guards armed with automatic weapons. I don't foresee that happening. And the amount of screening that goes on just to get into a plant is insane as well.

    As far as crashing a plane into it, Western reactor containment buildings are pretty much immune to that.
  22. macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2011
    It's Never A Good Night To Have A Curse
    Yup. Nuclear plants are built with failsafes upon failsafes upon failsafes, which make for perfect security checkpoints. You don't even need guards armed automatic weaponry to keep a terrorist out of a nuclear plant. Just a few security guys carrying side arms in a little booth next to the giant 3 foot steel doors. If a terrorist managed to kill that guy and open the doors, he still has to get through the next one...and the next one...then take the elevator down 3 stories underground...then the next one...

    If he does manage to get to the reactor, it's less "this is a problem with nuclear power", and more "how the **** did we let this happen".

    Yeah, the only thing a plane crash would do is damage the outer shell of a cooling tower, which are all reinforced steel and concrete, easily stronger than the Pentagon. And we saw how much damage a direct plane crash did there.

    The worst case scenario would be someone managing to fly a small plane directly into a cooling tower, which would mean the plant would have to run at half capacity for a few month while they fix the damage. It wouldn't cause a meltdown directly.
  23. thread starter macrumors 68030


    Feb 25, 2012
    NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA


    The cooling towers are pretty sturdy, let alone the containment buildings.


    I call that terrorist proof. It should be noted that containment buildsings are made of even thicker and stronger domes than that wall.
  24. macrumors 68020


    Oct 27, 2010
    HR 9038 A
    Does it still take more energy to make a solar panel than that panel will generate over a decade? If so, then technically it's a waste of resources.
  25. macrumors 68020


    Dec 3, 2001
    It's meant to be the same for the energy used to create the cells in a Prius too.

    I've never understood the hostility to nuclear energy. Sure, like anything that goes bang, it was weaponised. What hasn't been? Everything people invent that does that eventually ends up used against their enemies, it's why most of Europe arn't speaking Japanese or German right now.

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