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How many reactors should we have?

by A swedish kind of death Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 12:38:37 PM EST

I wrote a comment I like to expand on.

DeAnander has drawn up the playing field of the nuclear debate.

As seen from that drawing and comments there are all kinds of pro- and anti-nuclear stances. So just to make things interesting I would like to know: How many reactors do you think we (as in all the world) should have around 2030?

Some premises. While accounts appear to differ, nuclear power is about 1/15 of the worlds energy supply, and about 13/15 being made up by fossile fuels. And we have today around 450 reactors with a bunch in production. Say 500 for good measure.

Of course reactors can be of different effect, but assuming around todays values, replacing todays fossile fuels with fission reactors would demand some 6500 new reactors, bringing the total to 7000. Then perhaps there should be some more for all new eletrical gadgets.

2030 is chosen by me as a date sufficently far away to avoid most planning, construction, and similar time related problems. Still it is close enough to assume that we will not have access to now non-existing energy sources (for example fusion) on a commercial scale.

So just a note before the poll: nuclear power is a hot button topic here on ET, so keep it very civil in the discussion. No snark, no attitude. If people write something you perceive as just silly, ask them what they mean instead of assuming that you know.

How many reactors do you think the world should have by 2030?
. 0 (or possibly one for scientific purposes) 20%
. 100 0%
. 200 0%
. 300 0%
. 400 0%
. 500 20%
. 750 20%
. 1000 30%
. 1500 0%
. 2000 0%
. 3000 0%
. 4000 0%
. 5000 0%
. 7000 0%
. 10 000 10%

Votes: 10
Results | Other Polls
Perhaps it has been addressed, but I have a related question: How many reactors COULD we have by 2030? Building a reactor is a specialized task, you can't just ask Joe Bloggs, the builder from down the road, to knock one up for you. Assuming that all objections are removed and everyone agrees to plough full stream ahead with nuclear fission, what limits are there to the rate at which reactors can be added? Adding an average of 280 per year (or 500 per year, assuming a 10 year lead time) does not sound practical in any reality I understand.
by det on Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 02:11:50 PM EST
That is a very good question, that I have not seen adressed.

Just to be clear, I wanted to include as wide a spectra for answers as possible, to avoid having to put in more answers later on.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 03:15:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is actually the way I understood and answered the poll: 500, just as today, because we'll have a hard time replacing the ageing units, even if all governments try as hard as they can to get their nukes (which most already do, and others will make up their mind pretty soon).

Of course, newer reactors will be like the EPR: over 1.5 GW, versus 500-800 for many old units in the US for instance. So the total capacity will increase. Uranium consumption will not increase that much, because newer reactors have better yields, better breeding ratios, they're all designed to run on MOX, etc...

It is also because of all these reasons that I don't believe seriously that any U shortage will happen this century. I also believe nukes won't help much those who don't already have them running today (like France).


by Pierre on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 04:59:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the link to DeAnander's post.  To be able to answer the question I'd like to have the following information:

a) Global output today
b) Maximum possible global output if everyone gets as much electricity as, say, me
c) Minimum global output necessary to provide, say, lights in the evening, cooking, heating, refrigeration and maybe a computer (or other--one other, I mean--electrical device) running 24 hours a day per person.  I know it's not a good list, but I think some minimum figure is needed so that with
d) Total global output possible from all renewables using current technology (incl. wave which I think is about to come online big time)

Then, following Jerome's list:

  1. Conservation + smart usage
  2. Renewables
  3. Nuclear
  4. Coal, oil, gas

we get:

c) gives us 1)
d) gives us 2)

and if nuclear fills the remaining gap, then that will be the number of nuclear power stations needed, which I still think would become zero as renewables have all kinds of knock on effects...all the greater to the extent that they are widely distributed--the local wind turbine(s) etc...--because they influence c) and also because new tech always creates even more new tech (cf. computers 1948-the present.)

My tuppenceworth.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 07:18:17 PM EST
I'll add that I think it is the "minimum necessary" that causes a lot of political heat.  For me, brownouts (for non essential business and residential) don't sound so bad.  That's because I think: "I have other things I can do apart from use electricity 24 hours a day."  For others, the minimum is whatever they use currently plus 10% for all the extras they'd like to add in (computers, televisions, electric cars etc...)

That division might also partially break down into DeAnander's "left/right" and "technocrat/green"...it mixes the "I deserve as much as I can get--and can pay for"; "Don't make me eat cold porridge, this tech. is great, let's use it!"; "We're all doomed if we keep consuming this much!"; "We'd be happier if we switched off, wandered out, and got back into our bodies"...and all those many points between, beyond, and elsewhere.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 07:24:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to be contrarian..why do we need more nukes at all? Is it really the best way to go?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 05:00:35 AM EST
I am not sure we do.

The question is deliberately asked about how many should exist, thereby giving you the option of giving answers that effectively means taking nuclear plants off-line. Including total scrapping of nuclear power. If you are fine with todays level but do not want more reactors then 400-500 would be your range.

I am mostly curious of what the various pro-/anti- stances means in terms of amount of nuclear power, right now measured in reactors.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 05:34:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From today's news:

Nuclear energy 'not the solution to global warming'

Environment ministers from Austria, Iceland, Ireland and Norway said Monday that nuclear power was not the solution to global warming.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape
by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 04:15:19 PM EST
Should have or will have?

Two very differnt questions. But as you asked "should" that's what I'll vote for.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 02:34:53 PM EST
By the way, as A swedish kind of death made this diary, I'll just like to repost what I just wrote at the Oil Drum.

Tonight our very own Magnus Redin will be debating nuclear power on Swedish national television with one anti-nuclear politician, one anti-nuclear NGO person and one pro-nuclear politician. I believe he was chosen due to being the most productive poster in the nuclear power section of the state TV forum. He is also a member of the NGO Environmental Friends for Nuclear Power.

I'll be watching, good luck Magnus!

It's at 22.00 in a program called Argument on channel 1.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 02:43:25 PM EST

I zapped past a later part of that show, when they debated if people are ruder on the net then in ordinary life.

I generally tend to avoid debates as they are so much about scoring points and not about getting somewhere in a discussion, and I will probably not see this one either. But thanks for the tip anyway.

For anyone wanting to train their swedish, the program should appear here any time soon.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 at 06:20:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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