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Nuclear power is the least cost and fastest way to substantially cut GHG emissions from electricity

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/31/2014 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 754 times Debate No: 64310
Debate Rounds (3)
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Nuclear power is the least cost and fastest way to substantially cut GHG emissions from electricity

1Energy supply requirements

The most important requirements for energy supply are:

1. Energy security (refers to the long term; it is especially relevant for extended periods of economic and trade disputes or military disruptions that could threaten energy supply, e.g. 1970"s oil crises [1], world wars, Russia cuts" off gas supplies to Europe).

2. Reliability of supply (over periods of minutes, hours, days, weeks " e.g. NE USA and Canada 1965 and 2003[2])

3. Low cost energy - energy is a fundamental input to everything humans have; if we increase the cost of energy we retard the rate of improvement of human well-being.

Policies must deliver the above three essential requirements. Second order requirements are:

4. Health and safety

5. Environmentally benign

1.1Why health and safety and environmental impacts are lower priority requirements than energy security, reliability and cost:

This ranking of the criteria is what consumers demonstrate in their choices. They"d prefer to have dirty energy than no energy. It"s that simple. Furthermore, electricity is orders of magnitude safer and healthier than burning dung for cooking and heating inside a hut. The choice is clear. The order of the criteria is clearly demonstrated all over the world and over thousands of years " any energy is better than no energy.

2Nuclear better than renewables

Nuclear power is better than renewable energy in all the important criteria. Renewable energy cannot be justified, on a rational basis, to be a major component of the electricity system. Here are some reasons why:

1.Nuclear power has proven it can supply over 75% of the electricity in a large modern industrial economy, i.e. France, and has been doing so for over 30 years.

2.Nuclear power is substantially cheaper than renewables

3.Nuclear power is the safest way to generate electricity; it causes the least fatalities per unit of electricity supplied.

4.Nuclear power is more environmentally benign than renewables.

5.ERoEI of nuclear is ~75 whereas renewables are around 1 to 9. An ERoEI of around 14 is needed to support modern society. Only Nuclear, fossil fuels and hydro meet that requirement.

6.Material requirements per unit of electricity supplied through life for nuclear power are about 1/10th those of renewables

7.Land area required for nuclear power is very much smaller than renewables per unit of electricity supplied through life

8.Nuclear power requires less expensive transmission (shorter distances and smaller transmission capacity in total because the capacity needs to be sufficient for maximum output but intermittent renewables average around 10% to 40% capacity factor whereas nuclear averages around 80% to 90%).

9.Nuclear fuel is effectively unlimited.

10.Nuclear fuel requires a minimal amount of space for storage. Many years of nuclear fuel supply can be stored in a warehouse. This has two major benefits:

"Energy security - it means that countries can store many years or decades of fuel at little cost, so it gives independence from fuel imports. This gives energy security from economic disruptions or military conflicts.

"Reduced transport - nuclear fuel requires 20,000 to 2 million times less ships, trains etc. per unit of energy transported. This reduces shipping costs, the quantities of oil used for the transport, and the environmental impacts of the shipping and the fuel used for transport by 4 to 6 orders of magnitude.

There is no rational justification for renewable energy to be mandated and favoured by legislation and regulations.

2.1Nuclear cheaper and lower emissions than renewables
Renewables v Nuclear: Electricity Bills and Emissions reductions by technology proportions to 2050

The CSIRO "MyPower" calculator shows that, even in Australia where we have cheap, high quality coal close to the main population centres and where nuclear power is strongly opposed, nuclear power would be the cheapest way to reduce emissions:
"MyPower is an online tool created by CSIRO that allows you to see the effect of changing the national "electricity mix" (technologies that generate Australia"s electricity) on future electricity costs and Australia's carbon emissions."

Below is a comparison of options with different proportions of electricity generation technologies (move the sliders to change the proportions of each technology). The results below show the change in real electricity prices and CO2 emissions in 2050 compared with now.

Change to 2050 in electricity price and emissions by technology mix:

1.80% coal, 10% gas, 10% renewables, 0% nuclear:
electricity bills increase = 15% and emissions increase = 21%

2.0% coal, 50% gas, 50% renewables, 0% nuclear:
electricity bills increase = 19% and emissions decrease = 62%.

3.0% coal, 30% gas, 10% renewables, 60% nuclear:
electricity bills increase = 15% and emissions decrease = 77%.

4.0% coal, 20% gas, 10% renewables, 70% nuclear:
electricity bills increase = 17% and emissions decrease = 84%.

5.0% coal, 10% gas, 10% renewables, 80% nuclear:
electricity bills increase = 20% and emissions decrease = 91%.

Source: CSIRO 'MyPower' calculator

Points to note:

"For the same real cost increase to 2050 (i.e. 15%), BAU gives a 21% increase in emissions c.f. the nuclear option a 77% decrease in emissions (compare scenarios 1 and 3)

"For a ~20% real cost increase, the renewables option gives 62% decrease c.f. nuclear 91% decrease.

"These costs do not include the additional transmission and grid costs. If they did, the cost of renewables would be substantially higher.


Nuclear is the least cost way to make significant reductions in the emissions intensity of electricity.

The difference is stark. Nuclear is far better.

But progress to reduce emissions at least cost is being thwarted by the anti-nuclear activists.


No power costs nothing and is instantly done.
Debate Round No. 1


PeterLang forfeited this round.


Ohhhhh yeaaaahhhh
Debate Round No. 2


PeterLang forfeited this round.


I win vote me please
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by 9spaceking 2 years ago
Posted by PeterLang 2 years ago
Good point. There is a word limit for the title so I used the common term of 'nuclear power' when I should, perhaps, have been more technically correct and said 'nuclear generated electricity' or 'electricity generated by nuclear power'. It is not correct to refer to this as nuclear energy. I expect most people will understand the the intended meaning of the title.
Posted by moneystacker 2 years ago
I wonder if anyone will argue thorium reactors
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by FuzzyCatPotato 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited, but Con put no effort in. Tieing the debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's points went unrefuted, but he forfeited.