That's a false binary.
Germany also dismantled its solar power plan, and significantly dampened the wind power development. If it had not, one coal plant would be easy-peasy to replace. And that's not even taking into account all the gas plants which exist but are rarely used.
Building coal plants today is in direct contradiction to any plans to protect the climate.
@Mr_Teatime Solar is never going to replace nuclear. Nor is wind. Thy are not as reliable, not as controllable, and nowhere even near its energy density.
See this? This is the insides of the Electric Arc Furnace. This is the technology that lets us melt steel without using coal or gas. It is used to recycle scrap metal into useful material. Waste into new things. Every given moment the temperature inside this giant arc welder must exceed 1800 degrees centigrade when in operation.
I can see households be powered by solar or wind, probably. I want to power mine with solar and wind myself when I get a suitable one someday. I can't see solar or wind powering heavy industries like this anytime soon, save for maybe a Dyson sphere. And the stuff people use must come from somewhere, it has to be made by someone, and powered by something. I'd rather it be powered by electricity, than by coal or gas.
And we already have a way to do it.
In Poland, there were some attempts at geothermal and there's a lot of uncertainties - drilling is *very* expensive, you need two shafts (in/out) and then you don't know for sure what you'll get. If it's 100°C it's a win, but then you may get 50°C and high mineralisation which quite useless. The best they got in Poland was 80°C and they're heating a whole district with it. There were many failed too.
To be honest, I don't know. But we're getting into more details here than necessary.
Any coal plant built today signals intention to dig up and burn coal for the next x decades, therefore it's not compatible with sensible climate policy. Nuclear power has its own issues, and I don't think any amount of nuclear energy is going to save us, either. Because no single measure is enough, and because it creates other problems for which we have no solution.
@gretathunberg @kravietz @drq
You're absolutely right here. We should be adding more wind and solar, as much as possible, but since 100% is not possible, for baseline we should use nuclear which is zero emissions, rather than gas and coal.
Decarbonization is the priority now. In 30 years we might have nuclear fusion which is zero emissions and does not produce any waste, or some other completely new technology.
0.b) Reduce energy requirements for everything to a level where you can produce the required energy sustainably
1b) ...or other sustainably-sourced forms of energy. Like cycling instead of driving a car. MUCH less energy needed, and no extra electricity, just maybe an extra sandwich sometimes :)
1: Nuclear power plants are not a very good match for intermittent sources because it can't vary its output very fast.
2: a large enough grid would require very little storage because there always wind (and tides, and water, and sun, and ...) somewhere.
3: the consumption side of things does not have to stay the same, either. How much energy could be used opportunistically, and why can't we effing decrease energy consumption already?
I recently talked to an academic who works on cars. They managed to reduce the mass of a particular SUV by 400kg. When the next model came out, the manufacturer had applied all those measures, then added more servos, extras and whatnots and oncreased engine size until total mass was unchanged -- that's what's happening everywhere. Efficiency increase results in bigger, larger things with equal or bigger consumption, not same output, less consumption.
If car manufacturers had used efficiency gains in engines and structures since the late 1990s to make more efficient cars, 3l/100km would be considered fairly high fuel consumption for a car these days.
And now electric cars are marketed by saying they accelerate faster. That's completely backwards. We need "all you need", not "all you can".
I wasn't implying that I knew what someone needs, or that it was decided for anyone by anyone else.
I AM complaining that industry and many consumers feel some strange obligation to consume as much as possible. Drive the biggest, fastest car, for example. To the point where since 1999 (which is how far I traced it), the huge improvements in engine efficiency have gone to making cars bigger and faster, and I can't buy a car which bucks that trend.
I don't _need_ a car any faster or bigger than a 2003 VW Polo. 17 years later, the most economic car of thar size uses no less fuel than its predecessor, but it's significantly faster and heavier
So I _cannot_ even get something suitable because someone else has decided for me what I must _want_.
And this is a trend which gets me angry. It's technically possible, there's people who' d like it, but it's too humble, and you're not supposed to be humble
No, this is a misrepresentation. I don't know how much fuel VW Polo 2003 used (I was driving a Gaz-69 from 1964 back then) but today you *can* certainly buy cars that use as little as 3-4 l/100km or even a fully electric one. Tesla is bloody expensive but for town driving there's Nissan Leaf and quite a lot of others. I did consider it but then I go to mountains often and... I couldn't, so I ended up with hybrid Toyota Auris (4-5 l/100km).
Teslas cars are wasting energy.
Have a look at Spritmonitor.de, and compare how much electricity Teslas use, compared to, e.g. Hyundai Ioniq.
I had an Opel Corsa(75HP) in 2004 and a Clio in 2013. Same weight but 90HP smallest engine. Used a bit less fuel, but the rated consumption was much harder to achieve, On the Corsa, I beat the rating. The average driver would probably use a similar mount on both.
> but it's too humble, and you're not supposed to be humble
This is 100% marketing because "they're not selling cars, they're selling visions" 😂 No, really, this is how this bullshit works. It's not a cause or somebody controlling your mind, it's that the whole "my car/house/boat/phone is bigger" dick contest is still very important to many people and I suppose always will be.
*You* however don't have to participate, just buy what you need.
> Drive the biggest, fastest car, for example
I wouldn't generalize. In the US, in less perceptive and more rich parts of the society, maybe.
In EU fuel efficiency is an important factor because fuel is bloody expensive. Adequate size is also important, because parking space is limited.
This part is all about creating the right fiscal drivers for people. If fuel is too cheap then hell yeah, why even bother?
VW Polo (or any otjer small carnyou care about) from 2000 until today. Size, weigjt, power, fuel consumption of tje most efficient version.
...it's not really getting better, just faster and bigger.
In 1999, the Lupo 3L got by on 3l/100km and 50HP, in 2018, the Peugeot 208 BlueHDI did the same (though it was probably impossible to achieve those 3l, since it had 100HP), and now ... it's "impossible" again!
I have not driven any of these so can't compare, but the emission standards were significantly raised since then (we're now at EURO6), so things like particulate matter or CO2 emissions *did* improve. You also have a whole range of small town cars today like Fiat 500, Smart using up to 4 l/100km
Compare fuel economy ratings for any car from one version to the next where they kept using the same engine, you can nicely see that consumption increases with every generation, unless a new engine compensates for the difference.
If appropriately scaled-down versions of today's engines were in 2000's cars, 3l/100km would be nothing special. And don't even get me started in SUVs.
> Nuclear power (...) can't vary its output very fast
Modern nuclear plant - 20 minutes
Modern gas plant - 10 minutes
Is that not fast enough?
> a large enough grid would
We don't have large enough grid, just as we don't have large enough storage, power-to-gas, hydrogen - or clean nuclear fusion for that matter. We may have them in 30 years, but that's pretty much when we should have *already* decarbonized the energy sector.
We don't know yet how to build any of these on industrial scale. We have a number of research tokamaks (also Russian word BTW) running plasma like ST-40 in UK (check on YouTube) and ITER is going "first plasma" in 2025 but this is still part of research. We're now a decade away from first production fusion reactor. Pretty much the same for power-to-gas and hydrogen.
By the way, we had enooormously long discussion exactly on the topic of smart grid with @loweel just 2 days ago here. I need to bookmark these things, as it took me like 10 mins to find it 🤦♂️
Have you got a source for the 20 minute figure about nuclear plants? And is that from 0 to full power?
To me, smart grids done right would mean that opportunistic consumption (charging your car, washing machiney dishwasher, some industrial processes -- possibly H2 production and E2L processes), could adapt to availability, thus reduce the need to store energy (not about suppliers knowing when I turn the light on ...).
These are called "load following nuclear power plant" and this is an exact technical description for an older one (40 min) but the principle is the same
Gah, I think I misread your comment.
Nuclear fission might (might!) be a very helpful piece of the puzzle. If it works, and works safely, and there's no catch of the kind that anyone with a sense for good stories would expect if life was a book, or a movie.
my conclusion: we should totally try to work that out, but we should not rely on it, at least yet.
> Nuclear fission
FUsion! FIssion is what we do now :)
> we should totally try to work that out but we should not rely on it, at least yet
Exactly! And now it's the moment you should realize that the very same argument that is pulled to dismiss fusion also applies to power-to-gas, smart grid, hydrogen and other prospective technologies on which theoretical 100% renewable depends.
What Greenpeace said 10 years ago was "oh let's first close all nuclear and then just jump on wind and solar, and in 10 years we'll have storage and stuff". We don't.
What they're saying now is "oh, let's close the remaining nuclear and, you know, temporarily, build more gas plants as we wait for storage and stuff".
Unfortunately, this is opposite of decarbonization.
A single Banqiao dam disaster in China killed 230'000 people. Hundreds of people die each year in work-related accidents at wind turbines and installing solar panels.
No technology is 100% safe and each of them can be mismanaged. The question is which one is more difficult to mismanage. As it comes to nuclear, all gen 3 reactors in use today will shut down with no human intervention and with no external electricity supply.
One of last year's Omega Tau Podcast episodes was on energy storage, I recommend it (and apologize for having no time to dig it up right now...). The biggest new thing I learned was in the introduction: If we had a proper Europe-wide grid, we would barely need to store wind energy at all, because the wind is always blowing somewhere.
not that it didn't look impressive, and not that removing nuclear plants wasn't removing capacity from the grid ... but:
1: to "normalize" output from wind and solar, we could adapt consumption, build a bigger grid, install some storage ... and if all that combined fails, the next best thing are power plants which can adapt output by the minute. Not nuclear...
2: Unless someone comes up with a good idea for nuclear waste disposal, it's another time bomb.
> nuclear waste disposal
When you learn the actual facts (which I did last year) it seems like the problem has been long solved, it's just Greenpeace wants us to believe it's not.
Look, an average nuclear plant produces ~27 tons of waste per year.
Then 96% of that is recycled back into nuclear fuel (MOX).
Then only the remaining 4% (1 ton) is actual "waste". It's vitrified (turned into glass), packed into containers and stored safely.
@kravietz We have this "debate": Germany wants to give us its UF6 so we could upcycle it.
Only we have the tech to do this effectively, because we (somehow) didn't wreck our nuclear industry with all other ones and Russian (actually Soviet) nuclear engineers are fucking heroes.
Germany did, and it has all this spent fuel lying around ever since, and they don't know what to do with it, and we do, so they gave it to us.
The Greenpeace loonies immediately jumped at it. "Boohoo, Russia is not a nuclear landfill".
WTF are you talking about. They are literally giving us free fuel, you illiterate pricks.
Well, their reaction is quite obvious - because Germany has sent for recycling something that Greenpeace claimed will be deadly poisonous for billions of years. Germany and Russia have thus stolen their favourite scare 😂
And yes, Rosatom does really cool engineering these days, including the RITM-200 modular reactor, and has very good safety record.
But also, that's just Uranium. For all its energy density, we don't have a lot of it, to be honest. But there's also another route - Thorium.
We have A LOT of it. And it's fertile - meaning you can make fissile material out of this fairly easily.
And it uses MSRs - molten salt reactors - that are even more safe, because they don't require as much automatic control as uranium reactors do: there is no "meltdown" (the salt is already molten), and the salt freeezes very quickly if the power to the plant is lost.
I wonder what it has in store for us.
@kravietz And by "A LOT", I mean...
6 parts per million by weight in Earths crust, making it 41st mosе abundant mineral. And there's only one isotope of it found in nature, how convenient.
It's lying around like dirt, because it's basically literally dirt. It's a natural byproduct of rare-earth mining, which we had no idea what to do with until recently.
For comparison, Uranium is 4 parts per million, and only 0.72% of it is active, fissile.
Dude, go ahead and research the heck out of anything that can help!
...but the nuclear waste disposal issue is still open. Until some plausible plan has been approved and independently tested and found good ... I'm not for building plants that create even more nuclear waste.
I have already replied to this here
There's a lot of awesome designs today, just today I was looking at PRISM (sodium).
Also Russian BN-800.
There's a lot of unfriendly clichees about Russia in Germany. I think most probably have some true core (as most clichees) but are way more often false than correct. I do have respect for Russian engineers. Worked with some Russian Aerodynamicists once, and it was frankly inspiring.
... but if fissile material is involved, any official claims should be treated very carefully. The German gov't has been caught lying about this more than once, so ...
Well, that's probably why Germany has, after over 4 decades of intense search, bribery and authorities busily overlooking important details have still not managed to satisfy the criteria it has itself stated for a permanent storage place for radioactive waste.
And the one place where they tested long-term storage turned out to leak and contain a multiple of the originally stated amount of radioactive waste ...
Greenpeace and friends protested against the chosen storage places, but it was good old conservative German courts who decided they did not comply with regulation, and the government itself which decided to reset the selection process because their arguments had been based on closing one eye and putting rose-tinted glasses on the other one.
Greenpeace alone could not have stopped it. They can point fingers at stuff but not run the country.
The photo is almost all waste from all nuclear power plants in Switzerland for the last 40 years. The whole UK produced ~2100 m3 of such waste in 60 years, which is how much a coal plant produces *in one day!*
But it's not all: radioactive decay results in fast decreasing of radioactivity of the waste. In just 10 years it goes down to 30%, in 100 years to 3% etc.
This is why nobody bothered with building underground storage yet - there's too little waste.
You also might be unaware of that, but we are storing extremely toxic waste in underground storage - mercury, arsenic, cyanides. This is in Germany:
And unlike nuclear, they don't lose toxicity over time. They'll stay there forever.
Have you seen Greenpeace freaking out about these? 🤔
1: wow, I was not aware. I'm actually not quite sure how I feel about this, and what the safety regulations around it are.
2: We've now strayed very far from the topic. We can't debate here whether nuclear power is a good idea -- but I maintain there is no binary choice between climate protection and phasing out the use of fission power plants.
It wouldn't be smart to remove them before removing coal power, but beyond that...
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