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Future Energy Pathways

Discussion in 'Intros & Off Topic' started by MrConservative, Oct 8, 2018.

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  1. MrConservative

    MrConservative Super Moderator Staff Member

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    This thread is to discuss future energy solutions and policies including the relationship between energy and national security.
     
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  2. t68

    t68 Well-Known Member

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  3. ASSAIL

    ASSAIL Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Hydro works if there’s enough mountains and rain or snow but we are not Norway.
    Currently, Snowy hydro produces between 15% x 20% of the national energy markets needs. Tasmania hydro can boost this figure to what, 40%? I don’t know but it still leaves around 60 % of requirements being met by coal well into the future.

    The only way this can be replaced is by low emission coal or by nuclear given today’s technology.
    Most of the advocates for renewables always concentrate on how their personal power requirements can be replaced and for that solar and wind is a no brainer but over 60% of the national consumption is used by industry, one alu smelter, Tomago in NSW uses 30% of the states power, how does that get replaced when the power is needed 24/7?
    It’s all very well to feel righteous by filling ones roof with solar panels as the green left would have us but it simply fails to understand, and offers no solution to the national energy reduction problem.
     
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  4. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    Do they have a cable from Tasmania to the mainland? In NZ we have one going from the South Island (where most hydro production is) to the North Island (where most population is). Moer than once us South Islanders have wanted to cut the cable and let the north drift away :D Hydro accounts for more than half of NZ's electricity generation requirements and would be larger but for resistance to more drowned valleys etc.
    I think that, particularly in Australia's case, fission based nuclear electricity generation will have to happen because demand is far outstripping supply and the burning of carbon based fuels to provide generating capability will prove to be unsustainable, both politically and economically. I think that environmentally, nuclear fission based electricity generation is more sustainable than carbon fuel based electricity generation, because even given the half life of the radioactive materials, they would have significant less impact upon the planet than a wholesale planetary wide climate change event that has the potential to be an extinction level event. The green lefties don't see that because their dialectal political construct is unable to comprehend micro, meso and macro temporal and spatial scales simultaneously, if at all, and that comprehension is what is absolutely necessary to understanding what we face, not some PC political rhetoric. BTW that applies to both sides of the CC debate.
     
  5. tonnyc

    tonnyc Member

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    @ngatimozart Yes, there is a cable connecting Tasmania to the Australian mainland. IIRC it has just been completed this year.

    Ran across a study last week that examines using small modular reactors for small islands. Jeju (South Korea), Tenerife (Spain), and Tasmania (Australia) were examined. The possibility of using the SMR for Tasmania's normal use and the dam as a giant battery for peak demand for both Tasmania and Australia was mentioned.

    I think the study also came up that the scenario becomes feasible if nuclear power can get below US$80/MWh for Tasmania (Jeju and Tenerife have higher amount). Which they technically can. South Korea and Chinese nuclear power can get below $60/MWh. But this has less to do with the actual cost of the tech but rather on the long run commitment. Every time a protest or a lawsuit manages to stall construction, financing cost goes up because the interest keep getting applied, and the interest rate inches up too, because now the lenders get worried that the project will get canceled.

    Anyway, over in Indonesia I have been telling anyone who cares to listen that we need nuclear energy. Despite the supposed abundance of renewable energy in Indonesia, it's still insufficient for the projected 300-320 million people in 2050. As domestic fossil fuel resources run out, the country will start importing LNG and eventually medium quality coal. Indonesia already import massive amount of oil. The predicted massive dependence on energy import will a huge weak point in national security. Even nuclear power will not be able to prevent this, but at least it can reduce it.

    Australia's situation is... Dysfunctional. Sorry. The Australian Liberal Party doesn't seem to have a coherent policy at the moment. The Labor Party, like it or not, is at least coherent. But when they get into power they will roll back ALP's policies and though I am not a fan of ALP either, the thing with energy policy is that there has to be a consistent long term policy. Short term fixes like the diesel power plant and Tesla battery does well in addressing small short term problems but is insufficient for handling long term problems like sustainability and security.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
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  6. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    Why I state fission based nuclear generation is because I believe that at some stage controllable fusion based nuclear technology will become available and the only byproduct from that is pure water. I remember quite well the Fleischmann and Pons cold fusion debacle of 1989 and whilst such an approach is still researched today, it is not mainstream science. However as history has shown studies of phenomenon have advanced from being something so mysterious that they are of the Gods to what they actually are; part of nature and science is the methodology used for such study and to formulate a valid and logical explanation. Science is a far more rigorous and logical system than any, previously used or current, religious or folk belief system, because of its continual testing of all theories. So given that history I am confident that one day we will have safe operational fusion reactors worldwide. When is another story.
     
  7. seaspear

    seaspear Member

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    Where do large battery plants like Tesla,s come into the equation ? ,
     
  8. tonnyc

    tonnyc Member

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    They are useful for stabilizing very short term fluctuations that are measured in seconds or minutes. It gives the diesel/natural gas generators time to ramp up. Without it, they will have to be "hot but idle", which costs quite a bit.
     
  9. t68

    t68 Well-Known Member

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  10. tonnyc

    tonnyc Member

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    By the way, while I am not well versed in Australian politics, I do try to keep up with nuclear energy tech and I can help answer questions about the tech itself. I don't claim expertise, but I do notice that a lot of people's knowledge about nuclear energy is kinda stuck in the sixties-eighties. The tech has advanced significantly. Due to its nature the pace of technological progress can feel slow but there are significant advances between 2nd generation nuclear power plants of the '60-80s and the 3rd generation of today and the 4th generation that is being developed.

    Err, don't ask me about nuclear weapons though. That one I don't know much.
     
  11. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    The article mentions how nuclear power has kept energy prices for Canadians much lower than rates in Australia. If one is talking about overall Canadian rates, that may be true but that is not all due to nuclear. Hydro generation in BC and Quebec is massive. Significant hydro generation is present in Manitoba and Labrador as well. Ontario is the nuclear centre in Canada and rates here suck, largely because the former Wynne government subsidized windmill and solar farm operators. They get paid up to 10 times more for their power compared to OPG's nuclear produced power. Cancelling two NG plants and paying over a billion in cancellation penalties didn't help either.

    Hard to believe any government could be worse than junior's but Wynne's was (junior willkeep trying though). Wynne has likely killed any hope that new nuclear plants will be built here again, there simply is no money. Had Mulroney's government been successful in developing a nuclear sub program, it would have kept AECL viable until the world comes to the inescapable conclusion that nuclear is the only base load solution for cutting GHG emissions for a world that continues to require massive amounts of new power generation.
     
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  12. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    What's your take on the fast neutron reactors that Russia is banking on for their 4th gen powerplants? Also how viable do you think reprocessing nuclear waste back into fuel is?
     
  13. tonnyc

    tonnyc Member

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    You mean the sodium-cooled BN-800? That one is operating commercially at full power. If you mean the BREST OD-300 or the BN-1200, those are delayed because Russia is short on money and has chosen to focus on the more mature (and conventional) VVER family. Russia is saying that they'll use the time to test various improvements on the BN-800 to be applied at the BN-1200 in the future, but well, given the postponement and scale-down of the Su-57 and Armata and a refocus on Su-35 and T-90M, I suspect it's really about money.

    By nuclear waste I'm assuming that you mean used nuclear fuel as opposed to various low-level and mid-level waste like discarded gloves or old pipes. Low level waste has very low radiation that fades away relatively quickly and can be disposed like regular waste afterward. Mid level waste is more difficult to deal with, but is also not that big a deal. High level waste, which is pretty much used nuclear fuel, is really what people think of when we're talking nuclear waste.

    Reprocessing used nuclear fuel back into nuclear fuel is proven technologically. The two things preventing a more widespread use of reprocessing are politics and economics. Today, the price of uranium is so cheap that it is more profitable to buy fresh nuclear fuel instead of reprocessed nuclear fuel. Yes, even after we factor in enrichment it's still cheaper.

    The political reasons are varied and weird. The US for example pressures other countries to only use fresh nuclear fuel instead of reprocessed nuclear fuel because of proliferation concern. The fear is that some country will gather the used nuclear fuel, separate the plutonium out, and use that to make nuclear weapons. A fair concern, but that doesn't explain why the US refuse to use it themselves (it is in fact illegal to reprocess used nuclear fuel even if it's for US nuclear power plants) or sell the reprocessed fuel to other countries. The US already has the world's largest nuclear arsenal and can make new nuclear weapons at will. Refusing to use reprocessing technology isn't going to reduce their nuclear arsenal by a single gram nor reduce their ability to make new nuclear weapons by a single iota. All it does is make the amount of nuclear waste produced far larger than necessary while mining more uranium than necessary.

    Let me quote from the World Nuclear Association's Information Library on Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing.
    Meanwhile Russia has no problem with reprocessing. France also uses reprocessing though not as much as Russia.

    There is also an undercurrent of misguided belief among anti-nuclear people that if reprocessing is to be allowed then the nuclear waste issue won't be very scary anymore. This would undercut the fear people have toward nuclear power plants and hinder their effort to close any and all form of nuclear technology. Weird, because I thought if nuclear waste is a problem then surely something capable of reducing the amount of waste by 80% is to be welcomed. But then again, one of the core anti-nuclear argument is that the nuclear waste issue is unsolvable, and thus if they're to perpetuate their raison d'etre, they need to continue make it unsolvable.

    Anyway, a far more reasonable approach is to require nuclear power plants to use reprocessed nuclear fuel. This in the long run will reduce the amount of nuclear waste significantly and reduce the mining needed to make the fuel. Meanwhile, since fuel cost is such a small fraction of a nuclear power plant's operating expense, the price increase is negligible.
    - World Nuclear Association's Information Library on Nuclear Power Economics.

    That's a difference of 0.12 US cents. Not dollars. In dollars that's an increase of $0.012. Spot price of U3O8 for September 2018 is $27.50/lb. While I have no data on how much reprocessed nuclear fuel costs, I doubt it's more than $50/lb. But even if it's $75/lb or $100/lb the increase is still under an additional cent/KWh.

    If we can deal with the politics, then used nuclear fuel reprocessing is viable. The economics will be a slight hindrance, but if we can deal with the politics it should be possible to force the nuclear power plant to "close" their nuclear fuel cycle (that is, reuse as much as possible) and minimize the amount of final storage space needed.
     
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