Looking to the future, we should fund Nuclear energy rather than Wind energy.
Hello, I am Jacob Gibbs, and this debate is part of my Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
Resolution: "Looking to the future, we should fund Nuclear energy rather than Wind energy"
I will be arguing for the resolution, my opponent will be arguing against.
Rules of the debate
1. No abuse of semantics.
2. No resorts to insults or personal attacks.
4. Breaking any of the rules constitutes a forfeit and the voters are then not justified in giving that person any points.
Structure of this debate
Round 1 - Acceptance
Round 2 - Arguments
Round 3+4 - Rebuttals
I'm excited for this upcoming debate as I am both interested in energy production and because this is my very first debate. Good Luck!
Thank you for accepting this debate.
#1 Nuclear Energy is cheaper than Wind Energy
Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris's statistics show the current wholesale prices for the two energies - Nuclear is £50/MWHr, and Wind energy is £100-220+/MWHr .
#2 Nuclear Energy is more efficient than Wind Energy
It is no secret that the wind doesn't always blow, but how much does this impact on the efficiency of Wind turbines? Wind Turbines have a capacity factor ranging from 20-40% , whilst Nuclear Power Plants have a capacity factor of 90.9% (2013 figure) .
Also, Wind Turbines have to be turned off when the wind is blowing too strongly in case they catch on fire, and also in a lot of other non-mild weather conditions. This fact was highlighted well in 2013 when over just 2 days, Wind Farms were given £5 million to turn off the Wind turbines, leaving thousands of homes without power .
#3 Wind Turbines cause large amounts of noise, which causes psychological stress
Scientists have found that people can experience psychological stress because of the amount of noise that wind turbines produce . This is a massive problem when you consider the fact that it would take 2077 Wind Turbines to produce as much energy as one Nuclear Power Plant .
#4 Wind Turbines contribute further to problems with housing
Keeping the last statistic in mind, let's think about what impact it means Wind turbines will have on housing. It's not good, 2077 Wind Turbines doing the same job as one Nuclear Power Plant . This means that:
a) There won't be able to be as many houses, because of the large amounts of space that Wind Turbines take up.
b) A significant amount of houses will become much less desirable by being near Wind Turbines.
My argument is:
A: Wind Energy shows greater potential than Nuclear Energy and has made many technological advances than nuclear energy has over the past decade or so.
1: Wind Turbines have increased their energy capacity dramatically.
Over the past decade wind turbines have increased their energy capacity (the amount of energy that can be produced and stored) from 25% to over 50%. This is a drastic change due to increased rotor sizes from the original 70 meter rotors to rotors over 100 meters. The greater the size of the rotor, the more energy can be produced, and therefore increases its energy capacity. Also, with greater rotor sizes, wind turbines are able to produce energy even when the wind is not blowing hard, therefore allowing wind turbines to be built in many more places .
2: Increased usage of offshore turbines.
While onshore turbines are still the more efficient and popular form of wind turbines, offshore wind turbines have improved dramatically over the past ten years. Offshore turbines are so promising due to the fact that, if successful, we could install wind turbines throughout the entire ocean, which makes up 70% of the Earth. This would increase energy productions and help replace usage of fossil fuels.
Some examples of advancements of offshore turbines can be found in GE's Halidade 150. The Halidade 150 has an enormous 150 meter rotor size yet is also being improved on to become lighter and more efficient. Another type of offshore turbine is called a "floating turbine". Floating turbines are a relatively new idea and are currently in the testing stage, however they have great potential because it allows countries or companies to install turbines without securing them underwater, and as a result would be able to install turbines in deep sea, which consists of over 65% of the earth .
3: Bladeless turbine shows great promise and could replace the current form of wind turbines.
One very young, yet very promising idea in the advance in wind energy technology comes from a Tunisian scientist named Anis Aouini. Aouini proposed a prototype for a wind turbine that does not have any blades, and rather has a circular shape, called the Saphonian. What makes the Saphonian so innovative is that it has over an 80% energy capacity rate (almost 30% greater than current turbines and approximately equal to what nuclear energy produces). Also, according to Aouini it costs almost "...half as much to make" than current wind turbines .
4: Limited advances in Nuclear Energy
Nuclear Energy currently has shown that it produces more energy at a better rate than wind energy. However, there has not been many advances in nuclear energy over the past decade. For example, Graph A shows that nuclear energy made great strides in the first twenty years of its developments by increasing its energy capacity. However, in the past decade the energy capacity has remained constant at about 80%, inferring that advancements in nuclear technology have stalled.
Wind energy has made great advances in the past decade and should further benefit from increased funding. Nuclear energy, on the other hand, is currently productive, however has not made significant advances in the past decade to deserve increased funding.
Counter-argument #1: The amount of Steel and concrete Wind Turbines use
A Canadian engineer who specializes in energy production has revealed that Wind Turbines use 5-7 times the amount of steel and concrete as a Nuclear Power Plant, on a per MegaWatt basis . This is very significant if you want more efficient/safe Wind Turbines, as one of the flaws of Wind Turbines is their very tall and slender structure . By increasing the height of Wind Turbines, you'd also have to increase the amount of steel and concrete used dramatically. This is a particularly bad problem as the Wind Turbines talked about in the first source have only a 25-30% capacity factor.
My opponent then starts to talk about how you can build Wind Turbines in many places by increasing the size of the rotors, yet the rotors are actually the cause of many of the faults in Wind Turbines - the noise, their impact on housing, and the amount of birds that are killed each year by Wind Turbines, currently at 20,000-37,000 .
Counter-argument #2: The problems of offshore Wind Turbines
Granted, offshore Wind Turbines sound like a brilliant idea, just like Solar Roadways or Powdered Alcohol. But then we look at the facts, and then they don't sound so much like a good idea after all.
First Problem: Faulty foundations
In May of last year, 52 of 140 offshore Wind Turbines in the Wind Farm GGOWL were found to have faulty foundations by engineering firm Fluor Ltd - that's 35% .
Second Problem: They rot into the sea
All the steel that the Wind Turbines are made of will rot/rust , and do you know where that will go? Into the sea, which is polluting/littering it. This is bad for the environment.
Third Problem: The change in Sea currents
As described here: , offshore Wind Turbines (particularly farms) obstruct the sea currents and as a result, it causes one end of a beach to drown in heaps of sand, and the other end of a beach, the sand has been washed away, making those areas to be very unsafe and in need of massive repairs costing a lot of money.
Fourth Problem: The damage done to Natural Carbon sinks
Offshore Wind Turbines damage Natural carbon sinks , which means that more CO2 will be created than saved by Wind Turbines. This makes Nuclear a more viable alternative, as they do not produce Carbon Dioxide .
Counter-argument #3: Even considering Bladeless Wind Turbines, Nuclear is still more cost-efficient and in most cases even cheaper
My opponent claims that bladeless turbines have an energy capacity of over 80%, but this is not the case. His source claims that it is nearly 80%, which means that even the bladeless turbines' energy capacities are inferior to that of Nuclear energy by 11% [Round 2, source 3].
Aouini states that his turbines cost "nearly half as much to make", implying that they cost slightly more than half of what ordinary turbines cost as if it were slightly under, he'd say "under half as much to make". Using Chris Heaton-Harris MP's statistics from the second round [Round 2, source 1], that means that even the cheapest kind of Wind Turbines (double the cost-efficiency of Nuclear), Wind Turbines with subsidies, would be significantly less cost-efficient than Nuclear energy.
Counter-argument #4: Advances in Wind/Nuclear Energy
The only advances that my opponent could name in Wind Energy that have increased the energy capacity of wind energy that isn't the bladeless Wind Turbines are making the Wind Turbines taller, which I have showed has problems and would not add to the cost-efficiency because either more materials would need to be used, there'd need to be added maintenance costs, or the Turbines would not last as long, all resulting in the same amount of cost-efficiency despite there being able to be more wind for the turbines to harness.
Conclusion: Nuclear Energy is much more cost-efficient than Wind Energy, and so deserves more funding.
 Lombardi, D. (2010). Long Term Performance of Mono-pile Supported Offshore Wind Turbines. Bristol: University of Bristol.
 Ben Acheson, parliamentary assistant to Struan Stevenson MEP at the European Parliament, http://scef.org.uk...
#1 Nuclear Energy is Cheaper than Wind Energy
Currently, this statement is true; wind energy is currently a more expensive energy source than nuclear energy is. The reason for this is due to the fact that:
a) The technology is newer than nuclear energy.
b) There is less wind energy being produced.
The price of Nuclear energy has reached a constant now and is not decreasing as much as the price of wind energy due to the fact that there are less advancements in the technology and therefore no reason for the price to fluctuate. In wind energy, however, the price is dropping dramatically because the technology has greatly improved and wind energy can be produced more efficiently. Due to this, it is expected that the price of wind energy will continue to drop until it has reached its technological summit. This scenario is very similar to other renewable energy source. Graph B shows how the price of wind energy has dropped in the past three decades:
#4 Wind turbines contribute to further to problems with housing.
The wind turbine itself takes up very little room, and in a wind turbine plant the turbines themselves only take up about 1% of the land. This means that the surrounding 99% of the land can be used for a variety of things such as farming and housing. Also, the argument that wind turbines are not popular is invalid due to the fact that in the UK about 80% of the people are in favor of wind energy, while only 5% are against it (the remaining 15% are undecided) .
Conclusion: My opponent does not seem to understand that my argument is not that wind energy is currently superior to nuclear energy and therefore his rebuttals consist of evidence of modern day turbines vs. modern day nuclear plants. My argument is quite the opposite of this, as I am saying that wind energy has more potential than nuclear energy and therefore requires further funding for it to reach this potential.
 http://rameznaam.com... (image)
Efficiency of Nuclear vs. Wind
My opponent did not supply a source on his claim that Wind Turbines (not bladeless ones) have an energy capacity of "60% or higher in some cases". This is false, as a study from 2012 (which makes it even newer than one graph my opponent used), shows the difference of energy capacity between Nuclear and Wind being 55% .
But even this is not really representative of the efficiency of Wind Turbines, as they are also dependent on the weather, which is highly variable throughout the year. This fact was highlighted by the BBC nicely three years ago when on December 21st 2010, when Wind Turbines made up less than 0.1% of the electricity generated , despite renewable sources of energy making up 6% of the total energy consumption in the UK in 2010 .
[Round 3] The Problems with Offshore Wind Turbines
Con dropped my four reasons for the impracticalities of Offshore Wind Turbines.
The Problems with bladeless Wind Turbines
Conventional wind turbines directly harness the wind's mechanical energy to spin a generator. It's adding at least one step to the process: the wind's mechanical energy pressurizes a fluid which then turns a turbine, and Saphon has not proved that said step even exists. This is especially alarming because of the extraordinary claims made about this Wind Turbine's energy capacity compared with that of a regular Wind Turbine.
The Safety of Nuclear Power Plants
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has disproved many claims similar to the ones that Con has been making of Nuclear Energy, namely that they emit dangerous amounts of radiation, that their radiation causes cancer and other harmful effects, and that people near Fukishima in Japan died because of the radiation . However, the point about Wind Turbines catching fire still stands because it exists.
Wind Turbines contribute to further problems with housing
Claim: "the argument that wind turbines are not popular is invalid due to the fact that in the UK about 80% of the people are in favor of wind energy, while only 5% are against it (the remaining 15% are undecided)"
Just because they are in favour of Wind energy in principle, does not mean that they would like to have a Wind Turbine in their back garden, as it were. The prevelance of protests against local Wind Turbines/farms can be proven by just doing a simple search on Google images . So, the argument stands and so does this point.
This pdf file  shows the massive amounts of land that would be needed to accompany Wind Turbines.
External Costs: Nuclear Power Plants vs. Wind Turbines
An academic report in the journal Energy policy conducted just last year concluded that it is significantly cheaper to keep nuclear reactors as opposed to replacing them with Wind Power backed by Natural Gas , not only because of external costs from pollution or accident damage, but also from daily operating costs.
Effects on employment: Nuclear vs Wind
For every job created in Wind Energy and renewable energy in general, 3.7 are destroyed  due to driving up energy costs, reducing competitiveness, and deterring investment .
I feel that I have comfortably made seven good points that back up my case:
I urge you to vote pro.
 2010 UK Energy consumption, http://www.economicshelp.org...;
 May 2010, http://docs.wind-watch.org...
Counter-argument #1: The amount of steel and concrete wind turbines use
Increasing the size of both the turbine and the rotor could prove to be a very successful idea. Increasing the turbine about 100 to 140 meters could increase the energy capacity of the wind turbine by 40-50%. This is due to the fact that the higher up the turbine is, the more steady and consistent the wind speeds are. Increasing the size of the turbine would also decrease the amount of bird deaths due to the fact that less birds fly that high. Also, the increased rotor size dramatically improves the turbines efficiency as shown is round 2. Also, increasing the height would result is using 15% less steel than the modern day turbine uses and 40% less bolted connections. This would be less harmful for the environment, less expensive, and make the turbine easier to maintain . All of these statistics go against my opponents claim that increased rotor size would be overall detrimental.
Counter-argument #2: The problems of offshore wind turbines
I would just like to make it clear that I did not drop the four impracticalities of offshore wind turbines as my opponent suggested because this is the very round were I am supposed to rebut his original rebuttal.
Before I begin with the rebuttals of my opponents four impracticalities, it is important to know that offshore wind turbines are hardly a commercial product as of now. Currently offshore turbines are in the experimentation stage, and are about 15 years from being competitive with fossil fuels, according to a Danish energy company . Therefore, while my opponents arguments are true that there are multiple problems with offshore wind turbines, they are currently being improved on.
Counter-argument #1: Faulty Foundations
Faulty foundations would only be a problem for offshore turbines that are installed onto the ocean floor. However, I was arguing more for floating turbines, which quite literally float on the surface. However, in order to prevent corrosion, many companies have began using remote monitoring to detect whether the turbine requires repairs or not. This method has been proven to work as it is currently being used in the fossil fuels industry consistently .
Counter-argument #2: They rot into the sea
This argument is similar to the first argument, and my rebuttal will be similar as well. Using remote monitoring, it can be detected if a turbine is corroding or not. If it is, then it can be easily repaired and there will be little to no environmental impact.
Counter-argument #3: The change in sea currents
Current obstruction would only be a problem if the company installing the turbines did so illegally. Currently there are many guidelines such as the IEC 61400-3 and independent country regulations that require companies to report where they will install their turbines .
Counter-argument #4: The damage done to natural carbon sinks
Again, this issue can be resolved if there were more regulations as of where turbines can be installed. Also, the usage of floating turbines gets another point due to the fact that it would not damage the carbon sinks because they are not installed into the sea floor.
Counter-argument #3: Even considering bladeless wind turbines, nuclear is still more cost-efficient and in most cases even cheaper.
Again, I must show to my opponent that my argument is not that bladeless turbines are currently superior to nuclear energy, because they are not. However I am arguing that bladeless turbines have massive potential. This is due to the fact that bladeless turbines haven't even had a commercial launch yet and they have already shown to have a energy capacity of around 80%. Once bladeless turbines begin to take hold, the price will inevitably drop as shown in the third round.
Counter-argument #4: Advances in wind/nuclear energy
Contrary to what my opponent, I have provided several examples for how wind energy has improved over the past decade. Such as:
Also, my has not provided any examples as of how nuclear energy has improved over the past decade, only stating the current statistics about nuclear energy. This means that nuclear energy is not worthy of further funding because an increase in money would not increase efficiency of nuclear energy. However, wind energy has shown several advancements in the past decade therefore making it obvious that only more advancements would come with increased funding.
My opponent has consistently ignored my argument stating that wind energy has higher potential than nuclear energy. I have shown that wind energy has made several huge advancements in the past decade while nuclear energy has provided none. I have also shown that wind energy is far safer than nuclear energy, as the only detriment against wind energy is that it very rarely catches fire while nuclear energy has the potential of a massive disaster and overall increases cases of cancer and leukemia.
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