Nuclear power thread


#21

My rushed reply yesterday was unclear - nuclear has an exceptional safety record, far better than just about all of the alternatives.

My point was that in a small country like ours there are legitimate questions around the economics. I don’t think there are legitimate questions around safety, when set against the energy forms we already use. Globally nuclear is the safest of all the mainstream electricity production methods, although I suspect our safety records for hydro, wind and solar might be better than those global averages. Reasonably good piece on it here.


#22

My rushed reply yesterday was unclear - nuclear has an exceptional safety record, far better than just about all of the alternatives.

My point was that in a small country like ours there are legitimate questions around the economics. I don’t think there are legitimate questions around safety, when set against the energy forms we already use. Globally nuclear is the safest of all the mainstream electricity production methods, although I suspect our safety records for hydro, wind and solar might be better than those global averages. Reasonably good piece on it here.


#23

Yes and no. Studies like those cited in the article, while presumably accurate, are not really relevant to the question. They answer “which energy sources cause most deaths globally” not “which type of power plant would be safest for Irish people to run here”.

Most Irish people are not Chinese coal miners [citation needed], and the coal power stations we run are orders of magnitude cleaner than those in China etc. So you can definitely make the case that it’s much safer for us if ESB build a coal power station than a nuclear power station.


#24

By the same rationale, anything we build should be on the east coast so that the pollution/fallout/whatever wafts toward Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester rather than our own population centres.


#25

My own view is that an LNG terminal is a much more obvious near-term option and would solve a lot of security of supply worries.

Plans for a Foynes terminal fell by the wayside during last government.

Debate on energy in Ireland is prehistoric, nuclear bad, wind good (but not near me) and no one realises we have among the highest electricity prices in Europe.


#26

Depends how you frame the question, I suppose. I suspect most people probably do care less about Colombian coal miners than they do about Irish people, but should that be the basis of our policy on the issue?


#27

That would be an ecumenical matter.

Most people care most for the safety of themselves and their families. By that measure, I suspect nuclear doesn’t stack up well vs gas or coal. If on the other hand we could put the nuclear power stations in Australia, that would be grand.

To a large extent the coal vs nuclear power question misses the real point, which is how do we get renewals down to a competitive price. Not too many people killed by solar last year.


#28

Tens and hundreds of thousands die each year prematurely in developed and developing countries from pollution from coal power plants (fine particle pollution causing heart attacks, stroke, etc). I dont know if this applies to oil but oil burning stations are real dinosaurs and really inefficient. Gas + Nuclear i imagine is much cleaner option along with renewables.


#29

Eh? You do know that the Wicklow mountains are highly radioactive? And that there are large parts of counties Galway and Down which are positively glow in the dark? Comparitively speaking. And every time time you take a long haul flight you will receive a radiation dose several times larger than the largest civilian exposure due to civil nuclear power?

And if you want to really hear that Geiger Counter purr try placing it in close proximity to your really fashionable granite counter-top in the kitchen.

Oh I forgot. Radiation was invented in 1945 by those evil nuclear engineers and those bad bad people at GE…

Keep wearing the tinfoil hat.


#30

Is that not premature, though, as Corrib will eventually supply up to 60% of our gas, and the prospects from the last two licensing rounds off the south coast also look promising. It might be more strategic to make sure that the Bantry oil terminal and Middleton gas terminal stay operational while we sit out the depletion of the Kinsale Head field and wait for new developments. An LNG terminal needs its own complicated infrastructure, including a regasification plant. Admittedly, Corrib has a limited lifetime, and there are difficulties persuading IOCs to prospect for oil offshore Ireland due to current low prices, with few prepared to consider it for gas prospects alone (although there is at least one proposal to develop gas en route to oil). I wouldn’t strongly disagree with LNG but maybe the ESRI’s idea that we should sit on our hands for a few more years to see how things pan out is the most sensible option. Their point is that if you go off half cocked you end up with the wrong technology for 25 to 40 years.

Most people (apart, maybe, from tree-hugging loons) seem to take the view that we’ll need a mix of generation capability for the foreseeable future. There’s no near-term prospect that renewables can replace current base load generation even if they can provide an increasing fraction of the mix. Those countries committed to GHG reductions will very much have to face the question of what provides the next generation of base load power. The aforementioned ESRI paper considers clean coal vs. nuclear for Ireland, for when the Moneypoint coal plant goes offline in 2025. The answer will probably be “gas”, although that introduces the security of supply concerns noted by Skippy 3 above, with the prospect that we would be just as dependent on gas in 2025 as in 2010 in spite of greatly increased wind generation expected by then.


#31

I agree it’s not something that can be solved overnight; but the goal still needs to be to get to renewables in a shorter timeframe rather than a longer one.


#32

It’s a very shaky case. In general, living beside a nuclear power plant does precisely nothing to you (unless there is a major disaster, that is Chernobyl/Fukushima level rather than Three Mile Island or lower). However, living beside a coal power plant is always harmful; the dirtiness of the plant effects severity, but they’re all pretty nasty. We only have one coal plant, of course; Moneypoint. Most of our fossil fuel power is from gas, these days, which has an entirely different set of risks; it’s dependent on an imported fuel supply which we can’t feasibly store all that much of.


#33

It’s such a pity that we don’t have a large off shore gas field anywhere near us that might be able to supply that gas to fuel our gas powered stations. If only we were like the Norweigans and could drill for gas offshore then sure, we’d be fine. Clean, low CO2 gas. But no, we’ve got to import all of our gas from the Middle East or Norway or Britian or Indonesia.


#34

The Corrib gas won’t last as long as you seem to think, so unless you can guarantee we will find a few more oil or gas deposits we really should be planning to build a LNG terminal in the next decade


#35

As a subsequent posted has pointed out the time to start planning LNG is now (if you ever want it) given that it takes decades to build anything (incinerators, gas terminals)

I take security of supply very seriously, defined as the ability to keep the economy going at functional levels for a long period of time in the event of a serious geopolitical or natural disaster-related supply shock. You can do this via LNG or via keeping strategic stocks of oil and currently my own view is that Ireland misses capacity on both counts. A big event is highly unlikely (but we all thought that about the banks) and the consequences would be far more devastating than the banking collapse.

An unnamed former energy minister used to constantly claim that wind is good for security of supply which is true in the event of a modest supply shock (say doubling of oil prices) but not true in the event that actual supplies get cut off.


#36

Even still the impacts are pretty modest.

Ironically have shown that the greatest damage to human health came from uprooting tens of thousands of people away from Chernobyl after the accident. Forced migration takes years off your life expectancy.

I expect they will find the same with Fukushima.


#37

Re: strategic stocks of oil, we’re obliged by the EU to maintain 90 days supply, and yet we have a single oil terminal on Whiddy Island which is operated by a foreign company and only obliged to keep the facility going until 2016. The gas terminal for Kinsale Head will soon go the way of the dodo. And yet we have recently licensed exploration blocks in the Celtic Sea to some of the world’s biggest oil and gas players, who actually seem enthusiastic about Ireland offshore for the first time in 40 years. There is a potential for billions of barrels of oil and oil equivalent – not just the wishful thinking of yesteryear but increasingly mapped by 3D seismic and independently audited. An LNG terminal would definitely seem premature given that it is, as you say, a multi-decade commitment.


#38

I seem to recall being told before there is a weeks national supply in the tanks on the Poolbeg Peninsula and two weeks supply down in Bantry if things go a bit fubar geo-politically. I had never heard the 90 day EU obligation- i wonder did we get a derogation…


#39

Here you go – it’s a council directive from 2006:

eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/ … V%3Al27071

Not aware of an Irish derogation.


#40

Ah I see - we could both becorrect-looks like the Natioanl Oil reserves stock can be held partially in another EU state-ah sure I’d say we’d have easy access to our stash in Rotterdam or wherever in the event of an emergency
:angry:

nora.ie/regulationslegislation.129.html

N*ORA meets its oil stockholding obligation by a combination of:

Stocks owned by NORA and stored in Ireland and in other EU Member States with whom Ireland has concluded a Bi-lateral Oil Stockholding Agreement.
Stocks held by NORA under short term commercial contracts (“Stock Tickets”) in Ireland and in other EU Member States with whom Ireland has concluded a Bi-lateral Oil Stockholding Agreement. These contracts include an option to purchase the oil in emergency circumstances during the period of the contract.
The Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) determines the volumes of oil stocks NORA is to hold on an annual basis.