Nuclear power presents the only viable option for reducing CO2 output
Debate Rounds (4)
One opening statement each, two rebuttals and then one open to floor/closing.
Nuclear power is not only a safe and reliable source of power but also when considered the most cost effective source of electricity currently available.
Even taking into consideration all nuclear incidents globally, this includes mining, fuel purification, plant operation, waste disposal, construction and material transport the number of life years lost as a result is considerably less than those lost solely in the mining of coal. The effects of radiation are widely misunderstood and the limits set by the international community are extremely cautious compared to studies on actual tolerable levels of radiation. This combined with the media outlook on the results of nuclear accidents has given a highly distorted view of the danger posed by nuclear power generation.
Nuclear power plants as a result of the way they operate are an inherently stable and reliable source of energy particularly when plants operate more than one reactor and have the capacity to shift load from one reactor to another during routine maintenance. The long and predictable lifespan of reactor designs also gives a constant source of unvarying power output for extended periods of time. The typical lifespan of a nuclear reactor is 70 years this is almost double that of a coal fired power plant.
When compared to other forms of electrical generation the overall lifetime cost per per kW is one of the lowest if not the lowest, this however does not take into account the potential global economic costs of global warming beyond 450ppm CO2. If the potential cost of the effects of global climate change are factored into the costing then nuclear is easily the best option. Not only this but if you consider the heavy impact of concrete production on the release of greenhouse gasses then it is in fact, in terms of construction, greener to build a nuclear power plant than to build the equivalent number of wind turbines. This is down to the fact that each and every wind turbine requires a considerable concrete foundation and when this is multiplied for an entire installation of wind turbines the volume of concrete involved is greater than that required to build a complete functioning nuclear power plant. Another downside to both wind and solar is that they both have high maintenance cost compared to nuclear power. In wind turbines this is down to their adverse working conditions and the inevitable wear on expensive moving parts. In solar the relatively short working lifetime of solar cells combined with the expensive material used in photovoltaic coating means that the costs are similarly high.
I am sure there are more points to be made but I am leaving some, hopefully, to be highlighted by my opponent and/or some for later remarks.
Solar and wind farms are renewable unlike nuclear energy. solar and wind will not deplete for another billion years or so whereas nuclear energy will probably deplete within 1-2 decades if nuclears is used as the prime source of electricity.
If you look at the levelized cost of electricity here http://www.eia.gov...
you will find that the lcoe of wind it is 80.3 per mwh while advanced nuclear energy is at 96.1 per mwh. Hmmmm, which is cheaper?
Look, wind and solar will solve, new tech is advancing to make them more efficient. Nuclear fission supplies will only last a couple of years if you implement them to their absolute capacity while wind will always blow as long as there is the sun to stir the air. Solar will always be here until the sun burns out. You can't solve long term global warming with short term nuclear energy, It is illogical. Even if the cost of creating wind turbines and solar energy may be bad for the environment now, the investement will eventually pay off as these are long term solutions that are renewable and don't require a fuel supply that will eventually run out. Once all the nuclear fuel is spent, what do we do? Burn more fossil fuels? No, eventually when all the nuclear fuel is gone, they will have to develop solar, wind, and other sources of renewable energy in order to attain long lasting energy supplies.
You have quoted two different sources:
The second of these also produced an economic study of various power generation technologies where nuclear power is cheaper than other alternatives.
Even in your cited source the cost of nuclear power is competitive and its cost range from max-min is narrower than wind power meaning more predictable cost. When also considering that nuclear is always on when wind is variable it is fair to say that in terms of output reliability nuclear power offers a high degree of confidence in price and capacity.
If you read the article to the end:
You will see that at current levels with current methods 200 years is a good approximation but if you take into account new technologies and already understood but not widely used methods you will see that terrestrial supplies would last upwards of 30000 years. That is slightly beside the point though we need CO2 reduction and we need it yesterday wind and nuclear offer the only two currently competitively priced methods for power generation. Large areas of land suitable for wind generation have already been developed and from your own source offshore wind is uneconomical. Put that with the fact that wind is intermittent and not predictable beyond extremely short time-scales(days possibly weeks) and the fact there is no tested grid level storage solution available yet and nuclear power has an obvious advantage. I am not saying that the world needs to be all nuclear in fact a mix of generation methods is better and in the future I, like you, hope that solar will become cheaper and fill the gap but we need change now and we have a proven technology that can fill the role. Even in a future where solar is the dominant method of generation I believe there is a place for nuclear as a base load power source. I hope in the form of fusion currently moving towards positive energy output at ITER. I would also look at LFTR's which breed fuel, have a small actinide footprint and are inherently safe as they operate at low pressures and have fail safes that operate even with power failures.
The storage is cost effective and is taken into account in when calculating the total cost per kW. It is also incredibly safe, there is a misconception that radioactive waste is "dangerous" for tens of thousands of years. In reality the radioactivity of stored waste falls to within safe levels in a relatively short time after this point the major risk is form heavy metals not from radioactivity. Considering the locations and methods used for waste disposal and the time scales involved in geological processes the threat of an dangerous accident at a disposal site on a probability scale is approaching zero.
The cost of $140billion is tiny compared to the cost of irreversible climate change in 2013 the GWP was approximately $75trillion the predicted cost of 4degC temperature change is 1-5% of GWP I will be optimistic and say 2% that would have been $1.5trillion lost in 2013 alone assuming the global economy will grow this figure will be even greater by the time we reach 4degC. Another way of looking at it would be to divide the cost across all the operating nuclear power plants for the rest of their lifetime and again this would result in a rather small number. Taking figures out of context is not representative of the industry as a whole, another good example of this is with radiation leaks even. Taking into account all of the nuclear accidents and tests there have been; coal fired power plants have still released more radiation into the environment than the nuclear industry has over its lifetime.
"Disaster" is another exaggeration of what happened at Fukushima yes a large amount of radioactive material was released but aside from some mature freshwater fish most areas and foodstuffs have already dropped back to close to levels where any effects would not be statistically separable from the effects of background radiation. A study has even shown that animals living in and around the town of Chernobyl experience a lower incidence of cancer than those from areas with lower levels of radiation. The work, I think, is ongoing but the theory is that low level radiation induces the turning on of more DNA proof reading enzymes in the animal affected thus resulting in higher fidelity during DNA transcription. So low level radiation may not be harmful it may in fact be beneficial.
One final note if ITER is energy positive it will be proof of concept and scaling up will have a huge energy output also it will breed some of its own fuel and the rest can be relatively easily extracted from water this would last us for the foreseeable future whilst having an extremely low waste footprint and reliable energy output.
Firstly, i would like to point out that ITER does not solve, it would take another 30 years to develop safe and affordable fusion energy, might i mention that Global warming needs to reversed now in order to end the negative effects of climate change. You have cited economic statistics on the negative impacts of climate change which i agree with. The fact is, ITER is not even functioning, merely it is a concept. Fusion energy has yet to create a net positive creation of electricity. Even if ITER works within the next couple years, it would take another decade to refine the theoretic concept and make it safer and more efficient for the public, then take another couple years to make these plants that would cost millions of dollars. Fusion energy has not even opened a single power plant that works and puts energy into our system. By 2050, which is when Fusion energy should be up and ready, Global warming would most likely have taken nasty destructive effects. Fission energy cannot solve either since Countries like the US don't want other countries to use nuclear energy(ie Iran, North Korea) therefore it cannot solve in those regions. Fusion energy will also not be trusted in other non-nuclear proliferation countries due to it's potential bomb making qualities.
Btw in your evidence for thorium reactors, it stated:
Current international research and development efforts are led by China, where a $350 million MSR programme has recently been launched, with a 2MW test MSR scheduled for completion by around 2020.
So essentially this technology has potential , i won't deny that. But i want to point out that the first test for this new
technology will not occur until 2020. Based upon the assumptions of the time it takes for these nuclear plants to be constructed and refined, this will not be a viable source of fuel until around 2050, we cannot implement this undeveloped technology simply due to the fact that we cannot wait that long period of time and let Global warming continue to destroy our environment. India wants to do this plan and supply 30% of it's energy by 2050 but in order to solve global warming, we need a global effort and radioactive substances can't be trusted to some nations/
On climate change, i can't agree with you more. We need to take action now to prevent the destruction of the environment. This destruction is destroying aspects of our economy and the global economy. The fact is current nuclear energy can last a decade or so. By the 2030's nuclear fuels will run out and nuclear energy cannot solve until the new technological changes can power the rest which will be around 2050-2070's. The fact is, we need to act now or we will face the economic and climate catastrophes that await us since nuclear can't solve completely in this century.
Therefore i propose the following plan: The World should substantially increase Solar, Wind, and other renewable energy sources to power our future.
You agree that fission material will be everywhere and will cost money.
net benefit - no radioactive fuel or environmental catastrophes from nuclear failures or breakdowns which bear environmental and economic costs. plus you don't have to spend millions of dollars storing all this nuclear waste,
and you solve faster.
Wind and solar technologies are tested. In the UK, offshore wind is set to take about 15% of the energy markets of the UK by 2020, which is only 5 years and a substantial portion of their energy.
Onshore wind is now powering 4% of the US's electricity, like right now. Wind power can supply US energy by 20% by 2030 with current tax credits.
The international energy agency(IEA) in 2014 estimated that solar energy can power 27% of global energy by 2050. Wind
will supply another 18% of global energy. Hydro electric power will continue to be a large resource for energy producing around 15% of the worlds energy in the status quo.
Here's the fact, if you don't support solar, wind, and hydro electricity, our energy future looks bleak. Sustainable nuclear energy cannot be created for another 40 years or so and until then, we need to find alternative fuel sources. Nuclear energy is not the only viable resource because it is not feasible at it's current state. Pro is arguing that in the future, Nuclear will BECOME A VIABLE source of energy. He is not arguing that it IS a viable source of energy. Vote con for solar and Wind, it will solve for around 45% of energy by 2050 and is currently solving in the UK, US, and other countries like China. The debate topic is that nuclear energy is the only option, i am arguing that alternate energy sources can solve as well.
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