Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sustainable Capitalism

Is nuclear power, and it is green, including its glow. And it is now being promoted as an environmental, green, alternative to the Peak Oil crisis.

And the Conservative governments in Ottawa as well as in Alberta embrace the green glow of nuclear power.

IPCC sees role for nuclear energy in new report

Current nuclear power is included as a 'key mitigation technology' in the field of energy supply while advanced nuclear power is considered key for the 2030 timeframe, alongside advanced renewables like tidal and wave energy, concentrating solar and photovoltaics.

The text states: "Given costs relative to other supply options, nuclear power, which accounted for 16% of the electricity supply in 2005, can have an 18% share of the total electricity supply in 2030 at carbon prices up to 50 US$/tCO2-eq (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents), but safety, weapons proliferation and waste remain as constraints.

Nuclear industry welcomes climate report backing

The world nuclear power industry welcomed on Friday the tacit backing given to their technology by some of the world's top scientists and economists in the latest analysis of the climate change crisis.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting in Bangkok said tackling global warming was both technologically and financially feasible as long as action was taken promptly, and that nuclear power could be in the arsenal.

PhotoIt is common sense. What else is there for most of electricity generation that is carbon free," Ian Hore-Lacy of the World Nuclear Association said.

"If you have a major technology that is capable of being deployed on a larger scale than now that emits no carbon, you don't need a Phd (doctorate) to work out that it has got an awful lot of potential," he told Reuters in London.

The civil nuclear industry, which saw its future evaporating after the reactor explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 sent a pall of radioactive dust across Europe, has seen its prospects improve dramatically in the hunt for a solution to global warming.


Tarsands To Go Nuclear

Nuke The Tar Sands

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RobertP said...


The World Nuclear Association persists in the myth that nuclear power is carbon-free. Admittedly it is lower-carbon than coal and gas, but there are other alternatives which are almost entirely carbon-free. Wind, geo-thermal and solar are the cleanest power technologies.

Canada ought to be be looking at these instead of nuclear. One in particular is little known but has huge potential: a simple mature technology that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy.

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 salts 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 currently provides power for about 100,000 Californian homes. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.

CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, there are not many of those in Canada! But it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity over very long distances using highly-efficient 'HVDC' transmission lines. With transmission losses at about 3% per 1000 km, solar electricity may be transmitted to anywhere in the US and Canada too. A recent report from the American Solar Energy Society says that CSP plants in the south western states of the US "could provide nearly 7,000 GW of capacity, or about seven times the current total US electric capacity". There is clearly plenty available to meet all of Canada's needs as well.

Further information about CSP may be found at and . The many problems associated with nuclear power are summarised at .

Michael Stuart said...

CSP is no substitute for nuclear energy! And by Robert P's standards, it's not "carbon-free" either.

Concentrating Solar Power (or CSP) is inefficient, expensive, and has notable environmental impacts.

According to the California Energy Commission ( ), all of the utility-generated solar power in the state amounts to two-tenths of one percent of the state's electricity production. Because of the limited availability of sunlight, these systems have notoriously low capacity factors and therefore cannot be relied upon for baseload power.

According to the California Energy Commission ( ), at 13 to 42 cents per kWhr, solar power is *the* most expensive way to generate electricity. In a time when energy prices are skyrocketing, few people can afford a large-scale conversion to solar power. What's more, due to its low capacity factors, solar capacity must be backed up with additional stand-by power generation, which adds to the overall cost of solar.

Environmental impact
Solar collectors also require a huge area of land, which must be dedicated to solar generation. Even in the desert, this could disrupt the delicate ecology. Additionally, in order for the salts to remain molten at night, CSP requires fossil fuels to be burned for heat. According to a US Department of Energy study ( ), these systems are "hybridized" with up to 25% natural gas. Ironically, this renewable technology is a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions!

Nevertheless, concentrating solar technology, along with many other renewable power sources such as wind, tidal, and geothermal, should continue to be supported in hopes that a breakthrough will someday allow them to be a significant source of energy generation. Today however, CSP is no replacement for baseload energy generation sources. In the medium term, we cannot abandon the proven, effective, and efficient source of low-emission energy that nuclear power has to offer. To learn more about the benefits of nuclear energy, check out and

Michael Stuart