Wednesday, January 17, 2007

REJECT NUCLEAR POWER - nuclear energy is not an option

Prime Minister John Howard pushes the nuclear power button almost every time he opens his mouth these days, but upon a bit of rational analysis, nuclear is not the solution to Climate Change Nuclear energy is not carbon neutral.

Indeed, the Nuclear energy cycle contributes millions of tonnes a year to global greenhouse emissions, so nuclear power is not an effective option in combating greenhouse gas emissions.

Claims that nuclear power represents a solution to the problem of climate change are laughable. The nuclear power option is expensive, ineffective and absolutely unnecessary...

REJECT NUCLEAR POWER - Nuclear energy is not an option!

Why does John Howard continue to regurgitate the Uranium industry line that Nuclear Power is "clean and green," when it is simply not true...?

Upon analysis, nuclear power is definitely not the way to achieve necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - and besides those with a vested interest, nobody seems to want it.

The planet does not need another dirty industry to add to the litany of human-induced problems we custodians of the mighty eco-sphere have caused.

In June, Mr Howard set up an energy review, to be headed by former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski. The review is part of a push for nuclear power to be considered in the nation's future energy mix. and Howard is pushing the barrow for the nuke industry.

But he is wrong.

Nuclear power is not, as suggested by some, a good example of greenhouse gas reduction. This is mainly because of the significant fossil fuel energy requirements for mining, milling and, particularly, enrichment of the uranium for the fuel rods. These energy inputs are highly dependent on the concentration of the original ore.

According to recent analysis, even with high-grade ore, it would take 10 years to "pay back" energy used in the construction and fuelling of a typical reactor. And with lower-grade ore needed - if nuclear power was widely expanded - the net emissions would be far greater than for a gas power station for example.

Water is also an issue: The nuclear energy cycle uses millions of litres of water to get the job done. Yet many towns and shires in across Australia are struggling to get enough drinking water, let alone enough to satisfy the amount a nuclear station would need to guzzle. This is water that we simply cannot afford as chronic drought and climate change dry up water supplies.

And what a waste! Nuclear power stations, in the course of normal operations, produce the most dangerous industrial wastes known to humankind. Unfortunately for the industry, humanity, and the biosphere, this orgy of construction was undertaken without any clear idea of what to do with the waste.

Reports estimate that by 2015 there will be roughly 250,000 tonnes to deal with if the industry is not stopped.

A producer of highly radioactive and hazardous waste, the nuclear industry has not, in over fifty years of trying, found a viable solution to the problem of nuclear waste.

What do you do with hundreds of millions of tonnes of radioactive poison?

Safety is also a problem: Beyond the waste issue, radioactive leaks continue - since Chernobyl in 1986, 22 serious leaks have been recorded.

There are far greater safety issues involved with nuclear than any other method of generating power. Highly toxic radioactive waste is generated at every step of the nuclear cycle and the possibility of an accident, such as Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, amounts to completely unacceptable risk.

Efficient? No way. Nuclear power is one of the most expensive ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, despite massive historical government support for the industry globally. It is heavily subsidised by taxpayer money across the planet. Canada for example has a 4 billion dollar debt attributed to nuclear energy.

The same level of support has not been available for energy efficiency and renewable energy. In countries such as the US and Britain, where it has had recent relative exposure to competition, the nuclear power industry has been in the economic doldrums for the past 20 years.

Dubbed a "sunset industry," many believe the renewed global push for nuclear power is a last ditch grasp by a nuclear industry "on its knees."

Climate Change experts are saying Australians must focus on renewable energy rather than fossil fuels. The needs of the people and the environment should come before those of the vested interests promoting and cashing in on nuclear energy.

People's voices and actions matter: In Australia, Local Government led the way with the implementation of Nuclear Free Zones across many council areas as far back as the 1980’s. Governments, and the people that elect them continue to recognise the enormous risks that nuclear technology represents.

There is near-unanimous opposition among environmentalists to nuclear power, suggestions that we are split over the issue are purely misleading.

Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation of nuclear weapons continues to occur because weak international safeguards of fissile materials are ineffective. When Australia exports uranium overseas we inevitably contribute to the global proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Greenhouse emissions: But the key problem here, is the significant greenhouse gas generation across the nuclear fuel cycle from mining and milling of uranium, construction and decommissioning of rectors, transportation and management of waste including reprocessing and disposal.

Even if it were a viable option, replacing fossil fuel fired electricity plants with nuclear does nothing to address the problem of global warming.

If the money invested in nuclear technology and fossil fuel industry subsidies were spent on energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources we would be a lot closer to meeting our needs at a much lower cost to the environment and consumers.

Wind power, as an example, is the fastest growing energy source in the world, and is now far cheaper than nuclear. For the same investment, wind generates more electricity, and offers more jobs.

In recent years, over 6,000 megawatts of wind generation have been installed every year in Europe, the equivalent of two or three large nuclear power plants.

By comparison, only one nuclear reactor has been built in the past six years, and it takes around 10 years to build the next. In the US, the last new reactor was ordered in 1978.

Furthermore, nuclear is not a renewable energy source, as it needs scarce uranium to fuel its reactors.

If we would replace all fossil fuels with nuclear power, the world would run out of uranium in less than four years.

Currently, nuclear is a marginal energy source, supplying only two percent of the world energy demand, and there is no realistic scenario in which this could be significantly increased.

Clearly Nuclear Power is not the answer. It is a problem...

SOURCES:
NUCLEAR ENERGY IS NOT AN OPTIONWhy nuclear power is part of the problem
The nuclear power option - expensive, ineffective and unnecessary
Nuclear is not the solution to Greenhouse<
UIC
wikipedia: Nuclear_power
Once a sunset industry, the Uranium Lobby Paints a Green Dawn
ANNAWA

1 comment:

GerryWolff said...

Regarding "REJECT NUCLEAR POWER - nuclear energy is not an option" (2007-01-17), there is no need for any nuclear power plants in Australia when there is a simple mature technology available that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.

I refer to 'concentrating solar power' (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salt or other substance so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and half a million Californians currently get their electricity from this source. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.

CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, these are not always nearby! But with transmission losses at only about 3% per 1000 km, it is entirely feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity throughout Australia from the Australian desert using highly-efficient 'HVDC' transmission lines.

Waste heat from electricity generation in a CSP plant can be used to create fresh water by desalination of sea water: a very useful by-product in arid regions.

In the recent 'TRANS-CSP' report commissioned by the German government, it is estimated that CSP electricity, imported from North Africa and the Middle East, could become one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Europe, including the cost of transmission. A large-scale HVDC transmission grid has also been proposed by Airtricity as a means of optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.

Further information about CSP may be found at www.trec-uk.org.uk and www.trecers.net . Copies of the TRANS-CSP report may be downloaded from www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports.htm . The many problems associated with nuclear power are summarised at www.mng.org.uk/green_house/no_nukes.htm .