Home » Posts tagged 'nuclear energy'

Tag Archives: nuclear energy

Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Post Archives by Category

MIT Study: Nuclear Power Shutdown Could Lead To Increased Deaths

MIT Study: Nuclear Power Shutdown Could Lead To Increased Deaths

  • A new MIT study indicates that retiring U.S. nuclear power plants could lead to an increase in burning fossil fuels to fill the energy gap, resulting in over 5,000 premature deaths due to increased air pollution.
  • Nearly 20 percent of current electricity in the U.S. comes from nuclear power, with a fleet of 92 reactors scattered around the country.
  • If more renewable energy sources become available to supply the grid by 2030, air pollution could be curtailed, but there may still be a slight increase in pollution-related deaths.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology new study shows that if U.S. nuclear power plants are retired, the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas to fill the energy gap could cause more than 5,000 premature deaths.

The MIT team took on the questions in the text following in a new study appearing in Nature Energy.

Nearly 20 percent of today’s electricity in the United States comes from nuclear power. The U.S. has the largest nuclear fleet in the world, with 92 reactors scattered around the country. Many of these power plants have run for more than half a century and are approaching the end of their expected lifetimes.

Policymakers are debating whether to retire the aging reactors or reinforce their structures to continue producing nuclear energy, which many consider a low-carbon alternative to climate-warming coal, oil, and natural gas.

Now, MIT researchers say there’s another factor to consider in weighing the future of nuclear power: air quality. In addition to being a low carbon-emitting source, nuclear power is relatively clean in terms of the air pollution it generates. Without nuclear power, how would the pattern of air pollution shift, and who would feel its effects?

…click on the above link to read the rest…

No, Nuclear Energy Won’t Save Us

Soon to be mementos of a lost age. Photo by Lukáš Lehotský on Unsplash
Hubbert’s idea about the energy use of humanity. Hubbert, M. King. Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels. American Petroleum Institute. June 1956.

I’ve mentioned in the introduction to this article how Hubbert has presented a glaring contradiction between the reality of peak oil and his expectations towards nuclear power supposedly providing us all the energy we need for countless millennia to come. I say glaring, because as a geologist it should have been obvious to him that nuclear power is coming from Uranium, a mineral found in finite quantities, in finite reserves on this finite planet…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

EU Members Clash Over Nuclear Energy’s Role In Climate Policy

EU Members Clash Over Nuclear Energy’s Role In Climate Policy

  • The EU is in the process of expanding its renewable energy targets to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Countries are divided over whether nuclear energy should be considered a part of renewable energy targets.
  • France leads the campaign to recognize nuclear energy as a CO2-free contributor, while Germany, Portugal, and others oppose it.

The European Union needs to work on a divide among its member countries regarding the role of nuclear energy in achieving their renewable energy goals. This disagreement may delay the progress of one of the EU’s primary climate policies.

On Wednesday, negotiators from EU countries and the European Parliament will engage in their final round of discussions to establish more ambitious EU objectives to expand renewable energy throughout the next decade. These goals are crucial for Europe’s commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 and to become independent of Russian fossil fuels. However, the negotiations have become bogged down by a dispute over whether fossil fuels produced using nuclear power should be considered part of the renewable energy targets.

France is spearheading a push to classify “low-carbon hydrogen” – hydrogen produced from nuclear energy – as equal to hydrogen created from renewable electricity. France is joined by countries such as Romania, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, all of which seek greater acknowledgment of nuclear energy’s CO2-free contribution to climate objectives.

On the other hand, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Portugal, and Luxembourg oppose this view, arguing that including nuclear power in renewable energy targets would divert attention from the urgent need to expand solar and wind energy across Europe significantly.

…click on the above link to read the rest…


“These Are The Manipulations That Will Be Common Now That The World Is Transitioning To Squeezing Scarce Resources Out Of A Globalized Economy”

“These Are The Manipulations That Will Be Common Now That The World Is Transitioning To Squeezing Scarce Resources Out Of A Globalized Economy”

Kishida’s cabinet formally adopted a policy to extend the life of its nuclear plants beyond the self-imposed sixty-year limit. Japan’s engineers had originally put a cap in place for all sorts of safety-related reasons. But times change, risks change, societies too.

With the Ukraine war reshaping the global energy map, Japanese memories of energy shortages in the run up to WWII apparently outweigh more recent scars from Fukushima.

And besides, when you count sixty years in the life of a nuclear power plant, you probably shouldn’t count the time it was turned off for maintenance. Right? It’s odd that the engineers who counted sixty in the first place overlooked that. But whatever. If you strip out the years these nuclear reactors were on vacation, you can extend their sixty-year life to seventy. Presto. New capacity.

Japan also announced $152bln in green transformation bonds to build new nukes, renewables, etc. Kishida’s government announced that $1.14trln in public/private investment will be needed over the coming decade.

But Japan was not alone, of course. Macron is trying to extend the life of France’s work force past the age of sixty-two. Apparently, when the policy was first implemented, French engineers failed to take into consideration maintenance and vacation time. Were you to add this downtime back in, the productive life of a French worker would extend to something north of a century.

But unlike Japan’s nuclear reactors, French workers can strike and vote, so Macron sought only an extra two years. Hundreds of thousands are now striking, which if properly counted would push out the work life of a French worker another ten years.

And these are the sorts of manipulations that will be more common now that the world is transitioning from decades of financial over-engineering to a world of squeezing scarce resources out of a globalized economy that was over-optimized for peak profitability.

Fusion Breakthrough is a Nuclear Nothing Burger

The U.S. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory kicked off  its year-end Go-Fund-Me drive last week announcing a nuclear fusion breakthrough.

“The fusion energy breakthrough by US scientists boosts clean power hopes. Net energy gain indicates technology could provide an abundant zero-carbon alternative to fossil fuels.”
–Financial Times, December 11, 2022

These claims are nonsense. The Wall Street Journal called the fusion announcement nuclear fusion hype noting that nuclear power stations are at best decades away.

The experiment used lasers to put 1.8 megajoules (MJ) of energy in and got 2.5 MJ out – proving that energy can be successfully released and gained by a Deuterium-Tritium fusion reaction. Unfortunately, they had to use 500 MJ of energy into the lasers so the EROI was 0.005. That’s the worst net energy ratio ever.

No electricity was produced in the experiment. The energy released was mostly waste heat.

But the announcement was timed to support a huge funding measure by the U.S. Congress:

“I’m…proud to announce…the highest-ever authorization of over $624 million this year in the National Defense Authorization Act for the ICF [Inertial Confinement Fusion] program to build on this amazing breakthrough.”
–U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer

Let’s suppose for a moment that this experiment proves that fusion is now a commercially viable new source of energy.

Building fusion nuclear power stations for the country is a big project and big projects take time. If, for example, there were full funding and permits to build a major new airport, it would take about nine years to complete.

“Building a major nuclear site with the handling of radioactive waste would make things many times harder. For an experimental and totally unproven nuclear technology like fusion, the problems are nearly insurmountable and would require decades at a minimum.”
–Thomas Overton, nuclear scientist and publisher of PowerMag

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Nuclear Power Is No Solution For the World’s Energy Problems

Nuclear power is no solution to the world’s energy problems. Not even close.

It’s important for electric power but electric power is not even 40% of the world’s energy supply—nor is it expected to increase much over the next 30 years.

IEA projects that nuclear power will account for only 5.5% of world energy supply in 2050 (Figure 1). That’s an increase of only 0.5% from 2020.

Figure 1. IEA most-likely scenario is for nuclear to account for 5.5% of world energy supply in 2050—an increase of 0.5% from 2020. Source: IEA & Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.

Nuclear power has limited application beyond electric power generation and some heating capability. Yet the outlook is not much better for nuclear to increase as a major source of electric power either. IEA’s most-likely scenario is for nuclear to account for only 12.5% of electric power supply in 2050 (Figure 2).

Figure 2. IEA most-likely scenario is for nuclear to account for 12.5% of electric power supply in 2050. Source: IEA & Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.

Electric power currently accounts for about 39% of world energy supply (Figure 3). IEA estimates that it will only increase to about 41% by 2050.

Figure 3. Electric power will increase from 39% to 41% of world energy supply by 2050. Source: IEA & Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.

EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2021 is largely in agreement with IEA’s assessment of both electric and nuclear power. Unlike IEA, however, EIA provides data to account for the considerable energy losses during power generation, transmission and distribution. The losses amounted to 64% in 2020 (Table 1).

Table 1. EIA electric and nuclear net power to the electric grid and energy losses. Source: EIA and Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.

When losses are included, net electric power to the grid is expected to increase from 19% in 2020 to 28% in 2050 (Figure 4) instead of 41% in IEA’s evaluation shown above in Figure 3.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Experts Say Nuclear Energy as Climate Solution Is Total ‘Fiction’

anti-nuclear campaigner in France

A protestor gestures during an anti-nuclear demonstration on October 1, 2016 in Siouville-Hague, northwestern France. (Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Experts Say Nuclear Energy as Climate Solution Is Total ‘Fiction’

“The reality is nuclear is neither clean, safe, or smart; but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant harm.”

As global scientists continue to warn of the urgent need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, a quartet of European and U.S. experts on Tuesday made a comprehensive case for why nuclear power should be not be considered a solution to the climate crisis.

“The central message, repeated again and again, that a new generation of nuclear will be clean, safe, smart and cheap, is fiction.”

While the experts recognize in their joint statement that “the climate is running hot,” they push back forcefully against those who argue nuclear could be a “partial response to the threat of global heating.”

With four signatories—Paul Dorfman, former secretary of the U.K. government’s Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters; Greg Jaczko, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Bernard Laponche, former director general of France’s energy management agency; and Wolfgang Renneberg, former head of the reactor safety, radiation protection, and nuclear waste at Germany’s environmental ministry—the statement comes as a direct challenge to a nuclear industry trying to bill itself as a reliable part of the world’s transition to a more sustainable energy system.

“As key experts who have worked on the frontline of the nuclear issue,” their statement explains, “we consider it our collective responsibility to comment on the main issue: Whether nuclear could play a significant role as a strategy against climate change.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Long Term Perspectives of Nuclear Energy: Revisiting the Fermi Paradox

The Long Term Perspectives of Nuclear Energy: Revisiting the Fermi Paradox

This is a revisitation of a post that I published in 2011, with the title “The Hubbert hurdle: revisiting the Fermi Paradox Here, I am expanding the calculations of the previous post and emphasizing the relevance of the paradox on the availability of energy for planetary civilizations and, in particular on the possibility of developing controlled nuclear fusion. Of course, we can’t prove that nuclear fusion is impossible simply because we have not been invaded by aliens, so far. But these considerations give us a certain feeling on the orders of magnitude involved in the complex relationship between energy use and civilization. Despite the hype, nuclear energy of any kind may remain forever a marginal source of energy. (Above, an “Orion” spaceship, being pushed onward by the detonation of nuclear bombs at the back).

Post revised and readapted from “The Hubbert hurdle: revisiting the Fermi Paradox” — Published on “Cassandra’s Legacy” in May 2011
The discovery of thousands of extrasolar planets is revolutionizing our views of the universe. It seems clear that planets are common around stars and, with about 100 billion stars in our galaxy, organic life cannot be that rare. Of course, “organic life” doesn’t mean “intelligent life,” and the latter doesn’t mean “technologically advanced civilization.” But, with  so many planets, the galaxy may well be teeming with alien civilizations, some of them technologically as advanced as us, possibly much more.

The next step in this line of reasoning is called the “Fermi Paradox,” said to have been proposed for the first time by the physicist Enrico Fermi in the 1950s. It goes as, “if aliens exist, why aren’t they here?”…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Great Turning Point for Humankind: What if Nuclear Energy had not been Abandoned in the 1970s?

The Great Turning Point for Humankind: What if Nuclear Energy had not been Abandoned in the 1970s?

The Italian translation of Walt Disney’s book, “Our Friend, the Atom,” originally published in 1956. It was a powerful pitch of the nuclear industry to sell a completely new energy system to the world. It could have been a turning point for humankind, but it didn’t work: nuclear energy was abandoned in the 1960s-1970s. It was probably unavoidable: too many factors were staked against the nuclear industry. But we may wonder about what could have happened if it had been decided to pursue nuclear energy and abandon fossil energy. (In the background: a completely different concept, that of “holobionts,”)



I remember having read Walt Disney’s book, “Our Friend, the Atom,” (1957) in the 1960s when I was, maybe, 10 years old. That book left a powerful impression on me. Still today, when I visualize protons and electrons in my mind, I see them in the colors they were represented in the book: protons are red, electrons are blue or green. And I think that one of the reasons why I decided to study chemistry at the university was because of the fascinating images of the atomic structure I had seen in the book.More than 60 years after its publication, “Our Friend the Atom” remains a milestone in the history of nuclear energy. You can easily find on the Web the Disneyland TV episode from which the book was derived. It is still stunning today, as it was in the 1950s, in terms of imagery and sheer mastery of the art of presentation. The nuclear industry was in rapid expansion and it saw itself as able to grow more. Hence, a pitch for the “Atomic Age” that would have brought cheap and abundant energy for everyone, perhaps even energy that was “too cheap to meter.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Experts to Trudeau: Your Nuclear Dream May Turn Nightmare

US Experts to Trudeau: Your Nuclear Dream May Turn Nightmare

Rethink backing the Moltex reactor, urge nine non-proliferation heavyweights.

A blue-ribbon group of American nuclear non-proliferation experts warns that Canada’s investment in new nuclear technology could lead to the spread of nuclear weapons and new threats to the environment.

“We write as U.S. non-proliferation experts and former government officials and advisors with related responsibilities to express our concern about your government’s financial support of Moltex — a startup company that proposes to reprocess CANDU spent fuel to recover its contained plutonium for use in molten-salt-cooled reactors.”

The warning came in the form of an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that was delivered on Tuesday and signed by the nine experts.

The group is spearheaded by Frank von Hippel, professor and senior research physicist at Princeton University; it includes Matthew Bunn, the Schlesinger professor of the practise of energy, national security, and foreign policy at the Harvard Kennedy School; and Thomas Countryman, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation.

“We understand your government’s motivation to support nuclear power and to reduce fossil fuel use but saving the world from climate disaster need not be in conflict with saving it from nuclear weapons. Also, like other reprocessing efforts, Moltex, even in the R&D stage, would create a costly legacy of contaminated facilities and radioactive waste streams, and require substantial additional government funding for cleanup and stabilization prior to disposal,” they wrote.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Gen IV SMR nuclear reactors

Gen IV SMR nuclear reactors

Preface. Peak conventional oil, which supplies over 95% of our oil, may have peaked in 2008 (IEA 2018) or 2018 (EIA 2020). We are running out of time. And is it really worth building these small modular reactors (SMR) given that peak uranium is coming soon? And until nuclear waste disposal exists, they should be on hold, like in California and 13 other states.

And since trucks can’t run on electricity (When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation 2015, Springer), what’s the point? Nor can manufacturing be run on electricity or blue hydrogen (Friedmann 2019). Once oil declines, the cost to get uranium will skyrocket since oil is likely to be rationed to transportation, especially agriculture.


Cho A. 2020. Critics question whether novel reactor is ‘walk-away safe’. Science 369: 888-889

Engineers at NuScale Power believe they can revive the moribund U.S. nuclear industry by thinking small. Spun out of Oregon State University in 2007, the company is striving to win approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the design of a new factory-built, modular fission reactor meant to be smaller, safer, and cheaper than the gigawatt behemoths operating today (Science, 22 February 2019, p. 806). But even as that 4-year process culminates, reviewers have unearthed design problems, including one that critics say undermines NuScale’s claim that in an emergency, its small modular reactor (SMR) would shut itself down without operator intervention.

NuScale’s likely first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), has delayed plans to build a NuScale plant, which would include a dozen of the reactors, at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Idaho National Laboratory. The $6.1 billion plant would now be completed by 2030, 3 years later than previously planned, says UAMPS spokesperson LaVarr Webb. The deal depends on DOE contributing $1.4 billion to the cost of the plant, he adds.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In Promoting New Nuclear Power, Biden-Harris Back Fiction Over Science

In Promoting New Nuclear Power, Biden-Harris Back Fiction Over Science

Nuclear fuel assemblies being inspected before entering a pressurized water reactor in the United States – Public Domain

Although possibly a sad comment on his predecessors, incoming U.S. president, Joe Biden, is offering the most progressive climate policy so far of any who have previously held his position.

As Paul Gipe points out in his recent blog, the Biden-Harris climate plan uses the word “revolution” right in the headline — a bit of a departure from the usual cautious rhetoric of the centrist-controlled Democratic Party.

But ‘revolution’ is proceeded by two words which let us know we are still lingering in conservative ‘safe’ territory. They call it a “clean energy revolution”, which Gipe rightly refers to as “focus-group shopped terminology.” He goes on:

”Clean energy is a term forged by Madison Avenue advertising mavens in the crucible of focus groups. It ‘polls well,’ as they say. It means one thing to one interest group, something else to another. So it’s perfect for politics in America.

“To environmentalists, it means wind and solar energy, often only those two forms of renewable energy, and sometimes only solar. It also means good times to the coal and nuclear industry. (Ever hear of ‘clean coal’?)

“So clean energy is one of those misleading words that party leaders and, importantly, fundraisers can use to elicit money from donors of all stripes. Why say renewable energy, when you want to raise money from the coal and nuclear industries?”

The Biden-Harris energy plan hits all the right notes in its opening paragraphs, focusing on a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and emphasizing infrastructure, international collaboration and the protection of poor communities of color, who suffer the most harm from unfettered polluters.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia’s New Floating Nuclear Power Plant Begins Delivering Electricity To The Arctic

Russia’s New Floating Nuclear Power Plant Begins Delivering Electricity To The Arctic

On September 14, we reported that the world’s first ever floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, reached the port city of Pevek in Russia’s Chukotka after covering a distance of more than 4,700km from Murmansk.

Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant has two KLT-40S reactor units that collectively generate 70 MW of energy.

A year ago we noted video of the beginning of the ships’ voyage (from St.Petersburg to Murmansk)

A floating nuclear power plant made by Russia headed out for its first sea voyage on Saturday. The floating plant, the academic lomonosov will provide power for a port town and for oil rigs.

And now, as The Barents Observer reports that at 11 am Moscow Times on December 19th, the “Akademik Lomonosov” delivered its first electricity to the grid in Pevek, Arctic Russia.

As Thomas Nilsen reportssymbolically, given the season, the town’s Christmas tree was first to be lighted with electricity produced by the two reactors on board the plant that is moored in the port.

Additional to the town of Pevek, the grid includes the Chaun-Bilibino junction in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Rosatom informs.

“Today a historic event occurred, the first connection of the “generators of “Akademik Lomonosov” floating nuclear heat- and electricity nuclear power plant were connected to the grid,” Rosenergoatom Director General Andrey Petrov said.

He said Pevek is now the new energy capital of the region, “a stronghold for the development of western Chukotka and a key link for the Northern Sea Route.”

As we concluded previouslythe launch of the first ever floating nuclear power plant has become an important engineering breakthrough that will impact the energy sphere on a global scale. This technology, which could potentially provide safe and clean energy to a large part of the planet, could also be provided at an attractive price.

Bernie Sanders’ Plan to Phase out Nuclear Power Draws Attacks — Here’s Why They’re Wrong

Bernie Sanders’ Plan to Phase out Nuclear Power Draws Attacks — Here’s Why They’re Wrong

Nuclear power cooling towers

Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has released an ambitious climate proposal, one which champions of the status quo were quick to criticize. One line of attack, coming from many different sources, focuses on Sanders’ plan to phase out nuclear power, but the arguments, and who is behind them, deserve a closer look.

Sanders’ proposal refers to nuclear power as one of several “false solutions” to the climate crisis:

“To get to our goal of 100 percent sustainable energy, we will not rely on any false solutions like nuclear, geoengineering, carbon capture and sequestration, or trash incinerators.”

The Washington Post editorial board quickly blasted Sanders’ plan to eliminate nuclear power: “Mr. Sanders also promises to make his plan unnecessarily expensive by ruling out a long-established source of carbon-free electricity: nuclear power.”

The New York Times quoted Joshua Freed, vice president for clean energy at Third Way, a think tank that describes itself as promoting “modern center-left ideas.”

“The Sanders plan appears to be big, but it’s not serious,” Freed said. “We need to have every option on the table.” Freed’s biography on the Third Way website makes clear that “advanced nuclear” is a top priority for the organization.

Bernie Sanders’s $16 Trillion Green New Deal is doomed to fail & impoverish millions. How do I know? For starters, I helped create the last one.

The only Green New Deals that have worked were done with nuclear, which Bernie’s would ban, not renewables https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/02/08/the-only-green-new-deals-that-have-ever-worked-were-done-with-nuclear-not-renewables/ …The Only Green New Deals That Have Ever Worked Were Done With Nuclear, Not RenewablesNo nation has decarbonized its electricity supply with solar and wind, while France and Sweden in the 1970s and 1980s built nuclear plants at the rate required to achieve the alleged climate goals of…forbes.com

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nuclear Power Offers an Abundant Supply of Low-Carbon Energy. But What to Do With the Deadly Radioactive Waste?


The race is on to develop new strategies for permanently storing some of the most dangerous materials on the planet.

Intro image

Photo of Chernobyl confinement structure © iStockphoto.com/E_Kryzhanivskyi 

There’s a small red hammer and sickle flag of the old Soviet Union on my dresser at home. I found it years ago on the floor of a primary school in Pripyat, the town built for workers at the doomed Chernobyl nuclear plant in what is now Ukraine. Perhaps it had been waved by a child at a state occasion, or had been left behind in the rush to evacuate Pripyat after the world’s worst nuclear disaster in April 1986.

Less than 2 miles (3 kilometers) away, the stricken, crumbling Reactor No. 4 was one of the most dangerous places on Earth. Everything for miles around, from the mushrooms in the woods to the trucks left in the parking lots to the toys in the nursery and the hospital beds, was radioactive to some degree.

Even though a dosimeter showed that after being washed down, the little flag was barely more radioactive than normal background levels found in nature, it should have been packaged up and landfilled as low-level nuclear waste.

By contrast, Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 site will remain dangerous for tens of thousands of years. In July 2019, 33 years after the explosion, 200 metric tons (220 tons) of uranium, plutonium, liquid fuel and irradiated dust was finally encased below an enormous 36,000-metric-ton (40,000-ton), €1.5 billion steel and concrete structure taller than the Statue of Liberty. The new sarcophagus will last about 100 years — after which it will deteriorate and future generations will have to decide how to dismantle and store it permanently.

The new sarcophagus covering Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 is expected to remain functional for a century. Graphic courtesy of Berria from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Click to enlarge.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
Click on image to read excerpts

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Click on image to purchase @ FriesenPress