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Could the US Phase Out Nuclear Power?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-mutants dept.

Power 657

mdsolar writes "In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, [German Chancellor] Merkel announced that her country would close all of its 17 existing reactors by 2022. Other nations, including Japan, Italy, and Switzerland, have announced plans to pare back nuclear power, but none have gone as far as Germany, the world's fourth-largest economy. Merkel vows to replace nuclear power with alternatives that do not increase greenhouse gases or shackle the economic growth. Could the US do the same? An increasing number of reports suggest it is not beyond the realm of possibility, and Germany could provide a road map."

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Short Answer (3, Insightful)

badran (973386) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377806)

No.

Re:Short Answer (5, Insightful)

enderjsv (1128541) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377932)

Sure they could. Never underestimate the power of fear and ignorance, my friend.

Re:Short Answer (4, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378264)

Don't forget Big Oil and Big Coal. They would love the US to be nuclear free. There are plenty of lignite coal deposits and plenty of small towns just itching for toxic mine tailings to wind up in the ground water.

Realistically, lets close nuclear plants... the first gen ones. Replace those with passively safe breeding designs like TWR that can happily chug on fuel until it is plain old lead suitable for adding to paint chips. Done right, we can take the high level nuclear products from older reactors and use it for more than triggering NIMBY knee jerk politics near Yucca Mountain.

There is nothing wrong with nuclear power. We just need to move to designs of plants made after the conflict in Viet Nam, or ideally, designs made this millennium.

Re:Short Answer (4, Insightful)

nharmon (97591) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378272)

Are you referring to the fear and ignorance of saying a phase out of nuclear power is irresponsible? Or the fear and ignorance of saying nuclear power can never be safe?

I forgot which one we're supposed to side with.

Re:Short Answer (-1, Offtopic)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378168)

The US will get rid of its nuclear reactors only after nuclear weapons become obsolete. Remember, it's not about cost or the environment; it's about plutonium production.

We are going to be running on coal/nuclear/nat.gas until 'clean' energy is cheaper than both.

Weaponization key to US nuclear policy (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378352)

The US will get rid of its nuclear reactors only after nuclear weapons become obsolete. Remember, it's not about cost or the environment; it's about plutonium production.

And that's precisely why the cleaner, cheaper, and safer alternative of thorium-based nuclear energy has received so little attention in the US -- thorium fission doesn't produce anything that's easily weaponizable, making it largely irrelevant to US policymakers. Energy has been little more than a useful byproduct of US nuclear policy.

Cynically,

Re:Short Answer (1)

Nova77 (613150) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378366)

No, and Germany cannot either. That's why they are bringing back online old and super-polluting coal plants.

Longer Answer: (5, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377828)

And neither can Germany.

Re:Longer Answer: (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377880)

Indeed, I read the article about Germany's plan to phase out nuclear power, and honestly it felt more like a short term grab for political power in the wake of Japan's issues to get more votes from the antinuke/enviormental crowd than an actual plan with substance.

Re:Longer Answer: (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377942)

Sure they can, just buy power from France. Who are of course using Nuclear power plants on the other side of the river.

Re:Longer Answer: (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378024)

You mean, like Spain does? Oh, wait, Spain exports energy to France, and last year over half of its energy production was from renewable resources.

http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2011/06/07/ciencia/1307459605.html

Re:Longer Answer: (5, Insightful)

thelovebus (264467) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378284)

How much of that renewable energy is subsidized? Considering Spain's current budget issues, I hope not much, because otherwise the price of energy in Spain could be very unstable.

I'm certainly not anti-renewable, but nuclear energy is such an attractive alternative I hate seeing all the fear-mongering that goes on with it.

Additionally, the link you provided says that only 32% of Spain's electricity is generated from renewable sources, not "over half".

"You mean like Spain..." at least check your facts (3, Informative)

tlambert (566799) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378410)

You mean, like Spain does? Oh, wait, Spain exports energy to France, and last year over half of its energy production was from renewable resources.

Actually, Spain imported 2% of its energy from France, and gets 20% of its domestic power from nuclear plants:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_Spain [wikipedia.org].

-- Terry

Re:Longer Answer: (1)

Nova77 (613150) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378440)

Hmmm.. nowhere in the linked article it says anything about exporting power to France, and it states that renewables are 32.3% of electricity generation (which is *not* power), not half.

Re:Longer Answer: (2)

kyz (225372) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378006)

Indeed. Remember how well it went for the Germans the last time they tried to phase something out....

Re:Longer Answer: (1)

BrentH (1154987) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378070)

They banned the lightbulb pretty succesfully I'd say.

Temporary nuclear blowback (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378038)

So, we are in the shitstorm of nuclear blowback. But what is the reality for the future? Well, let's see,

China is trying to cap coal and become largest user of renewable energy. They are also building or planning more nuclear reactors by 2030 than any nation currently operates. China's largest worry is that current supply of Uranium is not sufficient. They are planning 80% of all new reactors by 2050 (they expect 400+ by then) to be fast neutron reactors.

India is expected to 12-fold number of its nuclear plants, as energy needs skyrocket by 2030. They are also planning on installing 60+GW of solar.

Meanwhile, in Germany there are protests now about the evil power lines to move power from north to south while at the same time investment leaders are warning that Germany may become a higher risk place to invest in manufacturing due to uncertainty in future energy prices.

Frankly, seeing how Germany is dealing with the E. Coli outbreak by what seems to be random accusations (Spanish cucumbers, no it is tomatoes, no spouts, ok that is wrong too), their reaction to Fukushima is as expected.

So what is the future? The future is renewables and nuclear, just like it was 5 years ago. Any nation that curtains nuclear, like Germany, will become very dependent on nations that do not. Simple as that.

Re:Temporary nuclear blowback (1)

Fallingwater (1465567) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378268)

Any sources for these claims? I ask not to argue, but to have something to slap in the faces of all the treehuggers I have on Facebook who keep going on about Germany and its "fantastic ambient-friendly move"...

Re:Longer Answer: (5, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378182)

Germany is not phasing out nuclear power. They will need to import power in the short- and medium-term from France and England, both of which are nuclear-heavy (particularly France). Germany will still use nuclear-generated electricity; they're just playing a "not in my back yard" game. And by "they", I mean politicians which are pandering to their electorate to try to keep in power.

Long-term, they are putting themselves at the mercy of Russia. The NordStream natural gas pipeline will eventually be providing fuel, which can and will be used as a political lever (Russia has successfully done so several times in the past to strong-arm NATO over membership for the Ukraine and Georgia). Also, natural gas is a fossil fuel just like oil, and if the CO2 boogeyman is still the boogeyman, well... how does that not cause problems? On a per-megawatt basis, nuclear power remains much cheaper than natural gas, and a full decimal order of magnitude cheaper than solar (recall how far north Germany is. That's a problem for solar.) Switching from nuclear power to natural gas is not a step forward, economically, politically, ecologically

This is just another example of politicians doing long-term harm for short-term political dominance.

Re:Longer Answer: (1)

Xonea (637183) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378418)

Nope, they will not.

Since 2004 France (which has more than 40 nuclear reactors) has imported power from Germany, not the other way round.

Germany still has a (admittedly small) surplus, even after powering down 8 nuclear reactors at once. And the dependence on Germany on nuclear power is not very great -- Germany gets approximately the same amount of power from wind energy as from nuclear energy.

So, replacing the nuclear plats without depending on outside power imports is not impossible...

FUD article (5, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377860)

No. This is just another anti-nuclear FUD article from mdsolar. Secondly, if the US did phase it out what exactly is going to replace it? More coal plants? Yeah, that sounds like a brilliant plan but would be an extremely amusing backfire from the anti-nuke nuts campaign.

Re:FUD article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36377882)

Did you have to read the article to figure that out or did you just mouseover the link (CS Monitor) and arrive at the same conclusion without the loss of brain cells?

Re:FUD article (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377884)

Merkel vows to replace nuclear power with alternatives that do not increase greenhouse gases or shackle the economic growth.

Which basically leaves them with no viable alternative. Solar, wind and water can not produce the same amount of energy as nuclear even under perfect theoretical conditions let alone all the extra land required to build these alternatives.

Re:FUD article (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378010)

all the extra land required to build these alternatives.

No worries, nothing bad has ever happened because Germany decided they needed more land.

Re:FUD article (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377904)

If you were willing to pay an unlimited amount for power you could do solar and wind. Nuclear, Coal, and gas could all be replaced if people were willing to pay more, a lot more.

Over here in reality, we need new nuclear plants and solar thermal where it makes sense. Wind power in other areas can also work out quite well. To meet our needs at prices people are willing to pay power will have to come from mixed sources.

Re:FUD article (1)

gregulator (756993) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378214)

"If you were willing to pay an unlimited amount for power you could do solar and wind. Nuclear, Coal, and gas could all be replaced if people were willing to pay more, a lot more."

I wouldn't be so sure about wind power being a possibility, even with unlimited cash.

Current technology results in less than 1 watt per sq meter. You would need 600 sq miles of wind turbines to net 1000 MW.

Re:FUD article (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378412)

Lots of ocean to use even if the power numbers are that bad.
I did say unlimited amount of money, so sticking them in the ocean is no problem.

Re:FUD article (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378436)

Your numbers seem implausible.

So I looked it up myself, and the data I found said wind power generated less than 1 kilowatt per sq meter (approximately 0.6 kw). In which case you would need approximately 1 sq km of land to produce 600 MW of power.

Re:FUD article (1)

xded (1046894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378364)

if the US did phase it out what exactly is going to replace it?

IMHO the real question here is not only what will replace current nuclear plants, but what is gonna make up for the increase in power demands. You know, like from all these environment friendly electric cars that should replace current ones anytime now...

phasing out nuclear power (2)

heptapod (243146) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377874)

What the hell are they going to replace it with? More fossil fuels?

Sunshine and wind aren't going to meet any nation's energy demands with current technology.

Re:phasing out nuclear power (1)

PowerCyclist (2058868) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378058)

Wind power has come a long way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6vgWP5U5Ew [youtube.com] This video isn't the best, but the concept is to put the balloons at high altitudes where wind is constant and since these have verly little impact on the ground, they can be placed anywhere. But nuclear power is simply the best option for the backbone of the power grid. Yes there is a potential for accidents, but what do you think would happen if an earthquake hit a fossil fuel power plant, rainbows would come out? This wave against nuclear power is entirely biased and backed by the fossil fuel industry to protect their profits. When asked, hardly any of the bandwagon protestors have any understanding of how much energy we use, how many tons of pollutants are generated by fossil fuel power generation, nor that safer nuclear plants are possible but weren't made mandatory yet. Try not to feed all the trolls in this field and stick to actually exchanging knowledge instead of hate.

Re:phasing out nuclear power (1)

stoborrobots (577882) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378394)

What the hell are they going to replace it with? More fossil fuels?
Sunshine and wind aren't going to meet any nation's energy demands with current technology.

http://www.beyondzeroemissions.org/ [beyondzeroemissions.org] has a plan for 100% renewable zero-carbon energy for Australia by 2020 using only current, commercially available technology, and no nuclear (because a new nuclear power station wouldn't be ready in time, not for any ideological reason).

scared of invisible bits (2, Insightful)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377888)

Can we stop being scared of fission please. Yes it will kill people so will coal solar wind hydro etc. Please can we live in the real world where people die. Once we do that we can figure out that fission is the next to least bad option next to hydro. Since nearly all the potential hydro is tapped out already it's the only currently viable option.

Re:scared of invisible bits (1, Insightful)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378118)

Here's my take, if a nuclear reactor explodes, a rare but possible occurrence, it will contaminate a hundred square kilometers or so so it cannot be inhabited for a century or there abouts. If you want a hydro system with the same power output, you generally flood a valley and not only prevent it from being inhabited while the dam stands, but also ruin it for plants and animals too, unlike Chernobyl which is returning to natural forest flora and fauna. Nuclear probably won't explode and if it does, it still isn't all that bad compared to hydro.

Re:scared of invisible bits (3, Interesting)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378196)

The great American cities we have today would have never been built if there was this much fear of the remote possibility of injury or death. Under today's mindset, you would have never had people walking the beams in Manhattan in order to build all that, as quickly and cheaply as they did.

People are dying TODAY from coal and oil. Thousands of them per year. Can we please build something that only has a chance of killing people, rather than assuring people die?

Re:scared of invisible bits (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378234)

Hydro is only "not bad" if you don't live near where it buggers up the ecosystem, like I do.

Make no mistake: hydro is not as "cheap" as it appears to be. It has hidden expenses (just look at the fish barging on the Snake River) and in many cases is not, in the long run, sustainable unless you want to kill off whole species.

People tend to think hydro is "clean" because it doesn't dump poison into the atmosphere or leak radiation into the ground. But it does leak "poison" (oxygenation) into the water, and it disrupts all kinds of things in the ecosystem, from algae all the way up to peak predators.

A better question: (3, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377906)

Why would they want to?

It's easy to panic about whatever the latest disaster was rather than actually rationally evaluate the trade-offs of various options.

Wrong question. (2)

Fwipp (1473271) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377928)

Of course we could. It might be painful and messy, but we could. The more relevant question: *should* the US phase out nuclear power?

Nice overreaction. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36377934)

Nuclear power (as distinct from weaponry) is safe.

Nuclear power (including the mining of uranium and all associated accidents) has killed far, far fewer people than related coal activities.

In the same vein as airline accidents produce headlines where car accidents generally do not, nuclear accidents suffer the same fate compared to coal.

I hate all this overreaction. We were just about to get to a point where we could seriously make a dent in air emissions with electric cars and reduced reliance on coal, and now we're whipsawing back. Makes you wonder who is controlling the message, doesn't it?

Why? Nuclear is the *safest* form of power.. (5, Informative)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377956)

Re:Why? Nuclear is the *safest* form of power.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378002)

Go fuckushima yourself.

And it could be even more safe (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378116)

With newer reactor designs, it could be even better. We still need to come up with a good solution for the waste, though. Nobody has any idea how much it will cost to deal with as we're currently just putting it aside.

Re:And it could be even more safe (0)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378392)

You could use the waste as reading lights for religious extremists so that they can read the Bible/Qur'an/Torah/etc. in bed.

Smart Power Grid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36377970)

Of course it can, and it cqn even produce qll electricity it needs with renewables, thanks to smart power grid that allows to transport efficiently the electrity from the best production locations to the consumption location.
Political will is all that is needed.
Oh, I forgot - it can be achieved at 0 net cost.
When do we start ?

Throwing the Nuclear Baby Out with the Heavy Water (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377984)

If the irrational over-reaction to nuclear power based on the Fukushima disaster were mirrored in other industries, then the Titanic would have ended the ship industry, and Ford's exploding Pinto would have ended the auto industry.

And just because water-cooled nuclear reactors were and always will be a stupid idea, doesn't mean that all types of nuclear reactors are stupid ideas.

There was an editorial at DailyTech about this recently: DailyTech nuclear power editorial [dailytech.com]

What a stupid idea (0)

Purpleslog (1645951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36377988)

The hard leftist core of the so-called environmentalists (really they are anti-human and anti-civilization) will be the ruin of us all yet. I am for more electrical generation - not less - for everyone. I say refrigeration and air conditioning and 24hour reading lights for all! Bring on next generation nuke power! Speed up Orbital Solar Power! Drill for natural gas and oil! Upgrade the networks of Power Grids so in the marginal sources of electrical power can be utilized where they make economic sense.

Re:What a stupid idea (0)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378086)

How about we harvest the energy of your burning "leftist anti-human" strawmen? We could probably power a dyson sphere with it without the need for an actual sun in the center of it. The sun - in particular as an energy source - is after all part of the evil leftist anti-civilization conspiracy that is out to get you and drive you back into the caves. Well, intellectually, you'd fit pretty well in there, wearing a bearskin and grunting on about your imaginary enemies.

Re:What a stupid idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378296)

If you put your question mark before the word "strawmen", and deleted all of the words after that, you'd be onto something there.

Re:What a stupid idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378328)

Not sure if others notice this but as soon as I see "leftist" or "neocon" in the comment I am pretty much sure that comment is useless repeat of stereotypes of some trash talkshow radio program.
I hate comments from lemmings.

From Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" (5, Insightful)

Red Jesus (962106) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378022)

And you men and half of the Internet as well are just as bad. We sit here, considering Wikipedia the all-in-all. We consider the greatest end of science is the classification of past data. It is important, but is there no further work to be done? We're receding and forgetting, don't you see? Here in the America they've lost nuclear power. In Japan, a power plant has undergone meltdown because of poor repairs, and the Chancellor of the Empire complains that nuclear technicians are scarce. And the solution? To train new ones? Never! Instead they're to restrict nuclear power.

--Salvor Hardin, paraphrased

Re:From Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" (1)

Paul Rose (771894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378368)

Wish I had mod points. Nice job. Asimov from the 1940's. Paraphased, but just barely.

Encyclopedia => Wikipedia
Periphery => America
Gamma Andromeda => Japan

Low energy nuclear reactions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378036)

Some new advances in LENR Cold Fusion are showing signs of commercial viability. The Rossi E-Cat inventor has a 1MW reactor due to open in late October 2011. If it works as advertised, (fusing Nickel to Copper), with no nuclear waste at low cost, retrofitting existing fission plants to fusion will happen very quickly.
Here are some links:

http://blog.newenergytimes.com/2011/06/01/nasas-bushnell-lenr-most-promising-energy-alternative-and-its-not-fusion/
http://rossicoldfusion.com/
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2011/05/swedish-skeptics-confirm-nuclear-process-in-tiny-4-7-kw-reactor
http://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/BarnhartBtechnology.pdf
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzL3RIlcwbY

If we didn't have nuclear power, we would be fine (1, Insightful)

cjonslashdot (904508) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378046)

What if we didn't have nuclear power? We would be just fine.

Claims that we have to use it because other forms of renewable energy are not ready, are mistaken.

As Churchill said, 'Americans can be counted on to do the right thing only after all other options have been exhausted.'

And indeed, the US will not develop alternatives to oil and nuclear unless we have no choice about it. But if those options were removed, we would find alternatives. It would be costly for awhile, but eventually costs would go down and new industries will have been born.

The fact is, as a former nuclear engineer, I can say with some intimate knowledge that nuclear energy is extremely dangerous from a proliferation point of view, with respect to the risk of nuclear terrorism. Nuclear reactors produce plutonium in their fuel rods, and plutonium is one of the most hazardous materials on Earth; and it is possible to purify plutonium sufficiently to make a dirty bomb powerful enough to take out a city, using table-top chemical processes. One does not need enrichment centrifuges the way that one does for uranium.

If we want to be sure that we don't want one of our major cities to be blown up one day, we should shut down nuclear power.

Re:If we didn't have nuclear power, we would be fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378208)

For a former nuclear engineer, you seem pretty damn retarded. Please explain how the USA shutting down it's nuclear power stations removes the risk of a city being blown up by a foreign produced bomb (dirty or full-nuclear).

If you're planning to come back with some nonsense about merely reducing the risk by removing the domestically produced materials, don't bother.

Re:If we didn't have nuclear power, we would be fi (3, Insightful)

lazn (202878) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378238)

But if we use breeder reactors that burn the plutonium then the only place at risk is the plant itself.. It's our backasswards old plants that are the problem, not modern nuclear plants.

It's like arguing against modern hybrid or electric cars because ones built in the 70's were gas hogs.

Re:If we didn't have nuclear power, we would be fi (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378400)

There are plenty of reactor designs that do not need Pu in the fuel. Thorium reactors come to mind. To boot, thorium is relatively cheap, and the biggest deposits are in countries that have decent infrastructure.

There are other designs that do not use plutonium in any, shape, or form. TWR designs come to mind. In fact, most Gen IV designs are similar. No way these designs are going to be spitting any Pu amounts, much less enough to make it useful for terrorists.

I'm sure you know this, as a nuclear engineer.

Get rid of existing plants . . . (4, Insightful)

Joey Vegetables (686525) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378068)

The most rational, prudent, safe, and progressive thing to do would be to phase out the current, 1st generation plants, but simultaneously remove, insofar as possible, obstacles to safer 2nd / 3rd generation designs such as CANDU.

Re:Get rid of existing plants . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378160)

Truth, the original plants have already exceeded their design age. That being, in the US they have all been upgraded significantly. Upgrading to a newer model would be even better though.

Could or Should? (2)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378078)

I think you'll find the answers to those are radically different. Could we? Sure, with enough expense ( time, effort and currency ), we absolutely could.

Should we? Absolutely not. Japan showed us what could go wrong with old designs and bad policies. We paid for those lessons, it'd be irresponsible to throw them away.

Deaths Per Megawatt (1)

pinqkandi (189618) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378096)

Look at deaths/megawatt hour. Nuclear is much lower than coal, gas/oil, hydro, and wind. (Forget about solar). Sure nuclear makes the news more often, but it's because it's scarier. Just as the e. coli outbreak is terrifying people but less than 20 have died from it.

Forget the source on the deaths/megawatt, will look for it now.

Wind? Seriously? (2)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378338)

How the hell does anyone get killed by wind, unless they fall off a tower? And deaths/megawatt hour for nuclear are hard to figure, as it may take years to die from radiation exposure, and it can manifest itself in a number of ways. Plus there's the whole issue of rendering a large area uninhabitable for generations. [wikipedia.org]

It's all very straightforward.. (2, Funny)

phrackwulf (589741) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378098)

Germany will fill the gap using dung fired power plants using all the horse crap from the state mandated horse based transportation system. Though of course, fossil fuel based transportation will remain available to citizens making above a certain amount of Deutschmarks and the political class since they have important business to conduct. All nice and tidy, and somewhere in all that crap, there's a pony!

/. now re-branded as naysayer.com (1)

quax (19371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378112)

Geez, this site is getting old. Feel the optimism. The all American 'yes we can' spirit.

And now get off my lawn, punk!

Re:/. now re-branded as naysayer.com (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378374)

/thumbs up

Note to zee Germans: Jews are not carbon-neutral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378120)

Note to zee Germans: Jews are not carbon-neutral, even if they are a renewable resource...

It is rare stupid German idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378134)

Germans are usually smart but not this time. By closing their nuclear power plants they will encourage building of more nuclear power plants in France, Poland and Russia (there is a piece of Russia pretty close to Germany).
Now if you have nuclear power plant do you prefer it to be run by russians, polish, french or germans?

Yes they can, even though it's a bad idea (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378148)

Other forms of power kill more people than nuclear, nuclear just does so in a flashy form and in obvious clusters around the release. Coal, on the other hand, kills a lot more people, but does so over a longer period of time and over the entire area the particulate emissions spread...in other words, everywhere.

But hey, don't let that stop you policy makers. Do the thing that makes it look like you're taking action rather than taking the RIGHT action.

Italy??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378172)

At the time, Italy is definitely discussing the nuclear issue.
The Berlusconi government wants to open new nuclear power plants, threatening the country with higher energy bills.
His government says that nuclear is the way to go, indeed.
The answer from the people was outstanding.. kind of.
Next week there is a referendum planned, in which Italians are asked to answer to 4 questions and one of these questions is about bringing back nuclear power to the country.
Berlusconi tried to block the referendum in almost every way, even asking to the highest courts (well, he didn't call them "commies" in this case..) without success. He made a new law in order to make the referendum useless by saying that the decision about nuclear power is postponed (until he makes the country forget about Fukushima). He also says that "going to vote for this referendum is useless".
No matter how many countries say that will abandon nuclear power soon, Berlusconi still says it is the future.
In order to decrease the chances of a new political drawback, the questions in the referendums are inverted (basically, if you want to say that you DON'T want nuclear power, you have to say YES).
I just pray for the quorum to be reached...

Upton (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378190)

Not if Fred Upton remains in power.

Agree with both prior answers, we need NuNuc's (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378192)

It comes down to footprint and lifestyle choice,

We have no way to store wind or solar power other then pumping it into the grid for immediate use, both are not consistent in delivery, cloudy or no wind days.

Coal is a major generator of mercury and arsenic and acid rain in the atmosphere as well as CO2, as well as coals radioactive trailing's, and ash see and open pit hazardous waste sites. Scrubbers do not take care of the issue if the power plants do not have them installed. This includes almost every country that is not first world. Also the sludge dams....
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Martin_County_Sludge_Spill
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Creek_Flood

Nuclear's benefit the waste can be 98% reused. The minuses most plants are old designs, the US does not recycle fuel, we do not have a good storage solution even if we start recycling waste.

Sure (2)

Renraku (518261) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378256)

I only ask that if they get rid of nuclear, they also say no more new coal plants. Tit for tat and all that.

For the sake of argument... (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378260)

Plans to build four new nuclear plants and 32 new coal plants "could easily be replaced by new natural gas plants or additional efficiency and renewable energy, at a lower cost," the study noted.

The federal government still has to let them tap that natural gas at volumes that could replace those nuclear power plants we have. Replacing 20% of our capacity is going to create a huge boom in natural gas production and the federal government has been playing games with drilling permits for over 10 years. If they don't get things moving now, the cost of natural gas will skyrocket which means that both electricity and home heating costs (in quite a few areas) will go up simultaneously.

Politicians are clueless (1)

davevr (29843) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378302)

Sure, they can pass a law that says to replace all nuclear power plants with power plants that do not generate greenhouse gasses. While they are at it, they should also pass a law to make influenza illegal. I mean, that is really bad too! When the rolling blackouts come, maybe we will elect some sensible leaders.

A poison by any other name.... (1)

XiaoMing (1574363) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378330)

What's always disappointing is that even on /. people don't seem to understand the real nature of radiation: It's a poison.
No less, but also _no more_. And many choose to focus on the latter to the point of hysteria.

        It's always seen as some magical, invisible, and very scary entity that shouldn't exist anywhere near humanity, but consider that (m)any of the conventional (I willingly acknowledge the benefits of green energy, but also realistically acknowledge their shortcomings) sources of power we use today also create poisonous byproducts.

        And sure radiation is not only poisonous, it's also a carcinogen! But yet again so are many of the (poisonous) by products of coal and oil burning plants. Heck, just read the back label of a quart of motor oil.

        In addition, the recent Fukushima incident has sadly been compared to Chernobyl (1986), and TMI (1979), taking away attention from the real tragedy that caused the meltdown. But just sift through your own memory of how many recent coal mine collapses in that time (countless, so I'll just link it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_accident [wikipedia.org]) or global environmental damage from tanker and oil rig accidents have occurred in those two decades, and you'll see that you'd actually be in favor of Nuclear Power if you cared about lives lost, or global environmental impact.
        And how many poisonous chemical spills do you remember reading about in the news? It happens every year, has the same diffusion characteristics as poisonous radioactive particles, but gets absolutely squat media attention (aside from maybe the local news).
        There are also reports of how Fukushima might have released double the amount of radiation than previously reported. Boy, this sounds scary. How does it compare to the fracking (not a curse word euphemism) that's managed to methanate drinking water in towns across America to the point of tap water being combustible?

        I will admit: there is a huge gaping problem with Nuclear Waste. There's lost of it, it lasts forever (as far as we're concerned), it's sitting in temporary storage at the facilities that generated it, and nobody wants to be the final resting place of it (Yucca mountain fiasco).
Yet it's manageable, and there are well proven reactions that can basically process/burn them down into much less dangerous/reactive compounds. But these techniques to reduce the waste, next generation plants that produce less waste, all of it never gets developed because of the public's immediate and irrational fear of the word "Nuclear".

        I'm not saying people should be proponents of Nuclear just from reading this post, and if we could make hyper-efficient solar cells without generating the high-tech waste associated with processing so much silicon, I'd want to plaster the world in solar panels. But until that day comes, I'd prefer we judge nuclear power on its real scientific merits and demerits, and not on some "gut feeling" of how scary it is.

Why would we? (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378340)

Even with ten more Chernobyls and twenty more Fukushimas, per watt, Nuclear is both the safest and lowest environmental damage power system out there.

Centralia PA. We still use coal.

Why would we want to give up on nuclear? It's our only chance without involving future tech. None of the other non-carbon-cycle renewables have consistent power, are available wherever they're needed, aren't dependant on ridiculous rare earths, can be deployed at scale without enormous land usage, or have any hope of providing even today's power usage, let alone tomorrow's.

There is no meaningful taking nuclear off of the table until there's something better to replace it, and that something better just hasn't come along yet.

It's practically dead in the US now. (2)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378344)

The US hasn't built a new plant since TMI. As plants are decommissioned they're being replaced with coal and Natural gas plants.

What really needs to happen is a complete phase out of the older generation [wikipedia.org] nuclear power plants and a phase in of the next generation [wikipedia.org] of nuclear power. From there, we use the knowledge gained from the reactor replacements to build the future generation [wikipedia.org] plants.

Sitting back and letting our plants get older and older instead of replacing them on schedule is like sitting on a time bomb.

Quantitative analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36378382)

In 2010, Germany had 21000 wind mills that produced 6.2% of Germany consumption. To replace nuclear 22%, they'll need 63000 more wind mills. The intermittency problem hasn't been factored in the computation so they'd need even more.

Standard wind mills generate 2MW under optimal wind conditions.

German wind mills produced 35,500 GWh in 2011. This mean, in average each wind mill generated 35000*1000/21000/365/24=0.2MW. Compare to the nominal power of 2MW of most standard wind mill: wind mills are very rarely operating under optimal conditions.

This is just silly. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378416)

A friend who is originally from Germany said it was things like that announcement that made her glad to be in the U.S.

Keep in mind that Fukushima was an older version of a long-obsolete design. Keep in mind further that it was the improper local storage of spent fuel rods, not the reactor itself, that caused by far the majority of the problem.

There is no need to get rid of nuclear, and there should be no desire, either. Gen. IV designs (not to mention breeder and Thorium reactors) are far less dangerous than Fukushima even without its extraneous fuel rods, and far more efficient as well.

I don't know if OP was trying to spread FUD, but if so, it was pretty weak.

Balance the (energy) budget (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#36378438)

The energy has to come from somewhere, unless we cut down the demand, we can't reduce production.

So we could easily phase out nuclear power plants if we also phase out air conditioning.. we would just sweat a lot more.

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