Are Renewables Cheaper than Nuclear?

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Jamie in Chile
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Re: Are Renewables Cheaper than Nuclear?

Post by Jamie in Chile » Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:58 pm

This may be related to something Brimstone Salad said: This is from the BBC's energy briefing page 171 (copy and pasted):


The National Audit Office ( has estimated that lower electricity prices would result if government assumed
some or all of the construction and financing risk of nuclear power

The current deal with EDF for Hinkley Point C sets the wholesale price for electricity from nuclear generation at
9 p/kWh

NAO analysis shows substantial saving in the electricity cost of nuclear in all but one scenario

if government were to take all the construction and financing risk of nuclear power, the NAO predicts that
the wholesale price of electricity would be over 50% lower at 4 p/kWh

only in a scenario where the private sector bears all the construction and financing risk of nuclear is the
wholesale price of electricity expected to increase to 14 p/kWh

to get to USD x1.24, to get to Euro x1.13 on the above

The argument for transferring risk to the government is that it would be fairer poor consumers would benefit at
the expense of richer tax payers

The government is already considering this idea

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:49 pm

Here's my short list of books to read on nuclear. I decided that I know less about nuclear than either fossil fuels or renewables, so I am going to rectify this. Here's the shortlist I came up with after a quick google. I want books that are on the Kindle for less than about 10 pounds (12 dollars).

Nuclear Weapons Doomsday Machine Daniel Ellsberg £6.71
Nuclear Weapons Command and Control Eric Schlosser £7.99
Nuclear Power Nuclear 2.0: Why a Green Future Needs Nuclear Power Mark Lynas £2.29
Nuclear Power The Reporter's Handbook on Nuclear Materials, Energy & Waste Management £7.66
Nuclear Power A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow Joshua Goldstein £10.99

I just checked and there are 30 books on my list of books to read so I might get to these this year, next year, or later. I am going to start with the Lynas book since it's 2.29 so I might as well buy it now incase the price changes. The others no hurry.

There were a few books that came out highly rated that I changed my mind when I saw it was over £20.

Any thoughts?

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:12 pm

OK, I read the Lynas book. It was a very short. To Red and Brimstone Salad, this book may be too basic for you however you might recommend it to others who you want to convince about nuclear power even if they are not the kind of person that would normally read a book. Short, quickly covering the main arguments, non-technical.

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:31 pm

I saw a talk by Rupert Reed some while ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnonKve ... e=youtu.be 22.40-24.45

He talks about nuclear power being problematic if civilization or countries collapse.

There is some discussion here also: https://www.quora.com/If-humanity-was-s ... wer-plants

It seems that if human operators were removed from the nuclear plants (perhaps in a situation of war or civilizations collapsing) that power eventually goes away and eventually you may get things like core meltdown, hydrogen explosions, spent fuel rods getting out of control, radiation being released and so on.

Would you accept that this is a downside of existing nuclear plants?

How bad might things get?

In the fast breeder reactors, would things be much safer? I assume in an end-of-world scenario, might such a reactor be safe is left alone. But if there is total chaos and disorder, maybe someone goes in there and starts messing around with it.

Nuclear power may make civilization collapse less likely (by reducing climate change), but may make it worse if it happens?

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Post by Red » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:12 pm

Jamie in Chile wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:31 pm
He talks about nuclear power being problematic if civilization or countries collapse.
Many things will be problematic (and by then, if things collapse, we're kind of screwed anyway right?) if things went to shit, not just nuclear. There'd be mass floodings and horrible shit like that.
Jamie in Chile wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:31 pm
It seems that if human operators were removed from the nuclear plants (perhaps in a situation of war or civilizations collapsing) that power eventually goes away and eventually you may get things like core meltdown, hydrogen explosions, spent fuel rods getting out of control, radiation being released and so on.
This applies to other infrastructure departments. Nuclear does not have a monopoly on that.

Why would we remove human operators in the first place? Maybe in a few hundred years when automation has improved significantly.
Jamie in Chile wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:31 pm
Would you accept that this is a downside of existing nuclear plants?
I just accepted it more as a 'comes with the territory' kind of thing, and an easily negated downside.
Jamie in Chile wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:31 pm
How bad might things get?
Well, globally, we are likely living in the most peaceful time in human history. A doomsday scenario such as that is pretty unlikely in the first world.
Jamie in Chile wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:31 pm
In the fast breeder reactors, would things be much safer? I assume in an end-of-world scenario, might such a reactor be safe is left alone. But if there is total chaos and disorder, maybe someone goes in there and starts messing around with it.
Should we be preparing for an end-of-world scenario or trying to prevent it from happening in the first place? ;)
Jamie in Chile wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:31 pm
Nuclear power may make civilization collapse less likely (by reducing climate change), but may make it worse if it happens?
If climate change were to take its toll, the first world will not be affected significantly by it (we will be affected by it in certain ways, but not enough to warrant a collapse). The third world, however, is at a much greater risk.

I think we should only be building Nuclear power plants in the first world, and other nations such as China where we have all the necessary resources and experts (and where a majority of the CO2 emissions are coming from). It isn't necessary right now for third world countries (over there, Solar I think is better in most circumstances due to the geography and smaller, less-likely-to-be-indulgent-in-electricity populations, at least in the poorer countries). Once we help develop those nations and they start building big cities, setting up infrastructure, and incorporating heavy industry, then Nuclear can be brought to the table.

@brimstoneSalad What say you?
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Post by Jebus » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:27 pm

Red wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:12 pm
Many things will be problematic (and by then, if things collapse, we're kind of screwed anyway right?)
Does "we" include all living beings, plus possible future generations?
Red wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:12 pm
Why would we remove human operators in the first place? Maybe in a few hundred years when automation has improved significantly.
I'm pretty sure @Jamie in Chile did not mean intentionally removing human operators.
Red wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:12 pm
Well, globally, we are likely living in the most peaceful time in human history. A doomsday scenario such as that is pretty unlikely in the first world.
Are you suggesting a "doomsday scenario" was more likely in the days when wars were more frequent and fought with javelins and swords? Even if we manage to ward off geopolitical wars, I can think of many ways climate change can cause a "doomsday scenario".
Red wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:12 pm
Should we be preparing for an end-of-world scenario or trying to prevent it from happening in the first place?

Why not do both? That reads like an either/or fallacy.
Red wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:12 pm
If climate change were to take its toll, the first world will not be affected significantly by it (we will be affected by it in certain ways, but not enough to warrant a collapse). The third world, however, is at a much greater risk.

Within which time frame are you referring? How would you define a "collapse"?
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Post by teo123 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:32 pm

And the Third World countries will be much more affected by bad environmental policies, not only by the global warming. Fossil fuels are, for now, the cheapest form of energy by a large margin. If we ban fossil fuels, and force everybody to use more expensive forms of energy, even if they are indeed cleaner, the poor would be affected the most by that.

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:24 pm

Solar power is already cheaper than fossil fuels in tropical regions with a lot of sun. Just look at the data on the project bids for Saudi Arabia I think it was that set record lows. Your comment is out of date.

The way you do it is you tax products coming from companies that have a higher carbon footprint by a large amount, even for a poor countries. You do this also because your own country's carbon footprint ought to include imports and you need to address that.

You then use the tax to give away free solar panels, or whatever else, but only to countries that agree to do certain things like not build new coal power plants for instance.

You make it so that renewables are much cheaper and that using fossil fuels would damage a country's trade and economy and have them lose $$.

If the US, Japan, China and the EU could agree to this kind of thing - reducing their own emissions while taxing CO2 for imported products - then that is the solution.

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Jebus, agreed on either/or fallacy and human operators.

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Post by Red » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:32 pm

Jebus wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:27 pm
Does "we" include all living beings, plus possible future generations?
I'm referring to the civilization in question that collapsed in Jamie's hypothetical. If by some crazy chance that it collapsed and no one from any other civilization came in to help shut down the plant, it's not like it's impossible to relocate.

But countries that would collapse (implying they can get much worse than they already are, the populations will decrease drastically though) due to climate change wouldn't be relying on Nuclear anyway. According to Wikipedia, there is only one Nuclear plant in the entire continent of Africa, and it's located in South Africa, one of the more affluent African nations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_e ... uth_Africa

Most animals will not be significantly affected by climate change, if that's what you mean when you refer to all living beings.
Jebus wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:27 pm
I'm pretty sure @Jamie in Chile did not mean intentionally removing human operators.
I know, I'm asking in what scenario would there be where there are no human operators?
Jebus wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:27 pm
Are you suggesting a "doomsday scenario" was more likely in the days when wars were more frequent and fought with javelins and swords?
No, a doomsday scenario then is pretty virtually impossible without the help of advanced technology. Although, when you think about it, the Europeans did bring doomsday to the American Indians due to the diseases brought over. But I guess that's more semantics.

I'm talking like during the era of the Cold War type of doomsday, and that isn't going to happen (yes, even with Trump in office). The only way I see a non-nuclear warfare doomsday happening in the first world is if pseudoscience takes over, taking out GMO technology, meaning less people will be able to eat, and vaccines, with more people dying to easily preventable diseases, but in a society like that they wouldn't have nuclear either (another reason why it has collapsed ;) ). They'd also have to abolish their infrastructure and stuff like that. The dissolution of the government might also be something to consider.

How likely would you say these are?
Jebus wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:27 pm
Even if we manage to ward off geopolitical wars, I can think of many ways climate change can cause a "doomsday scenario".
In the first world?
Although the US has quite crappy infrastructure, it shines in comparison to the infrastructure of other countries (or lack thereof). It's good enough to keep us safe from a lot of the blowback from climate change (flooding, forest fires, drought).

As I hinted at before, GMO technology will help crops be more resistant to the harsher weather of climate change to be able to get people their food (as well as being more environmentally friendly to boot). But if the public's lunacy came to power, that'd be gone (same with nuclear).
Jebus wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:27 pm

Why not do both? That reads like an either/or fallacy.
Doing one of them would prevent the other one from happening, which is also more cost-effective. If you prevent it from happening in the first place, you wouldn't need to worry about any plans for the end of the world.

Also, this is just a side point, but how will you know if your plans for the end of the world will be suitable? What if there are things you forgot to take into account, or if the scenario is completely different from how you imagined it?

Always devote your resources to what is known and can have something be done about, rather than taking gambles on unknowns. Kind of applies to a lot of things in life.
Jebus wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:27 pm
Within which time frame are you referring? How would you define a "collapse"?
What do you mean exactly?

We have about 10 years until climate change starts hitting hard.

I think I already gave a pretty solid outline of what I think a collapse would be.
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