Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
adrian.f.h
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Re: Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Post by adrian.f.h » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:05 pm

Germany is not like the US. There are obviously a lot of differences between the politics of both countries. This trendy thing started more than 30 years ago...
The nuclear power plants were intended to be closed down before the Fukushima incident happened.

>The perceptions are fueled by flawed media coverage and opinion, and it sounds like your is as well.

You think so because I have a different opinion about nuclear energy than you have? Even if people think about stuff like nuclear energy completely logical they might still end up with different conclusions.

I have no problem with the technology itself but I also don't really see the benefits of it. Improving other technologies and making them more economical is a good thing. So tell me what makes you so excited about nuclear energy and you might change my mind.

Adrian

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Chris Bradley
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Re: Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Post by Chris Bradley » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:45 pm

Adrian Hoefken wrote:
> So tell me what makes you so excited about nuclear energy and you might change my mind.
What's the alternative for the future?

Solar?... viewtopic.php?f=16&t=7444#p54065

I do not wish mankind to be at the beck-and-call of the winds/clouds/rain/snow/time-of-day/{insert favoured 'renewable'}.

As we are, we need to be able to generate power on demand. I do not think fossil fuels will run out as quickly as some, but it sure ain't gonna last for more than a hundred years or two.

Worrying about a dump of 100,000 year half-life nuclear waste is irrelevant if mankind as we know it dies out within 10,000 years.

At least I think Taylor is right in his general message, I'm just concerned it will 'add' to people wanting to reject nuclear power, rather than serving to overcome their objections.

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Jim Kovalchick
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Re: Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Post by Jim Kovalchick » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:10 pm

Adrian,
I am glad to hear that you have an open mind about energy policy. I may have misinterpreted your previous dismissal of fission power.

I personally believe that energy can and should be harvested in many different ways depending on the applications. For example, solar in the backyard is a great supplement if you can afford the cells.

Our current civilization thrives on large scale energy supplies and most now believe that most of those large scale supplies manage to have green house gas impact. Others that don't have their own impact. Even hydropower can be harmful. For example, the Conowingo dam on my river has operated since the 1920's and it has accumulated silt behind it to the point that the Chesapeake bay watchers say the dam is the single biggest source of harmful discharges when there are storms.

Compare all the negatives of the other supplies to fission power and you just don't have it. Yes, you must avoid putting your plants in the path of tsunamis, but no toxic releases, no green house gases, and no piles of migrating birds dead beneath wind turbine blades. Nukes go 24/7 too.

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Dennis P Brown
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Re: Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Post by Dennis P Brown » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:14 pm

While this has nothing to do with the title thread, I'll risk adding a few points of irrelevant information (aka - my normal.)

Nuclear fission power, while costing far more than natural gas and more expensive than the oxymoron statement 'clean coal', is the most carbon neutral high energy density source of power we have. Yes the plants cost vast sums that few (any?!) power companies will build without massive help from the tax payer, but when you look at the real cost of AGW and possible harm to billions of people who have made no real contribution to the carbon issue (yet will be the people who suffer the absolute most) - it is a bargain for all of us.

Really, if that issue matters to someone, than nuclear fission is the best choice; besides, it is very safe - the absolute worst case issue is a core breach and frankly, such a very unlikely (our plants!) event would only harm the people who consume the power locally; also, and lets be honest with all the facts: the Hg and other deadly products from clean coal burning kill hundreds (thousands?) a year, year in and year out. And that number will only grow in time. All in all, adding up these deaths sure makes it appear that nuclear is cost effective just on this point alone.

Besides, a mix of nuclear, wind (mainly along the coast) and solar (esp. southwest) seems a good idea. AS for storage, I agree with Chris; also, I’d rather worry about that issue after AGW is addressed. Besides, in second (third?) generation fusion, it is possible to convert deadly nuclear waste into harmless chemicals. True, that technology might not be developed in a hundred years or more but I’d think the waste wouldn’t have an issue waiting; and if stored in Yucca Mt. I’d think it would be extremely safe and secure for that short period of time.

And if people are really bent out of shape from the safety issue; well, build Candu reactors (now that is the definition of a safe reactor design); these cannot melt down even if they lose all cooling water, much less just loss of pumps. So, besides being super safe, you get loads of tritium as a recoverable by-product!!! Talk about useful!

adrian.f.h
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Re: Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Post by adrian.f.h » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:37 pm

>Worrying about a dump of 100,000 year half-life nuclear waste is irrelevant if mankind as we know it dies out within 10,000 years.

Ironically exactly such a dump is causing trouble over here right now. It’s a salt dome that was used to dump nuclear waste. Water is leaking in…
Water was already leaking in when radioactive waste was thrown in there and it will cost 2 – 3,7 billion to get the stuff out of there. The responsible people don’t have to care about it anymore and some of them now have a job as an executive in one of the bigger energy producing companies. Geologists are not that happy about this story. That’s just one example out of many. The costs for energy over here are high compared those in other countries and they already were high back when nuclear energy was ok for our government. That’s a result of bad politics and a lot of people just want this story to end.

There are options. In all discussions about nuclear energy always one thing is missing. You’re always talking about harvesting energy but I think it’s more important to think about how to use it more efficiently. I don’t want to blame anybody for wasting energy but according to the numbers I read during the last years the average energy consumption per person in the US is two times as high as it is in Germany (central Europe). Even if it wasn’t there would be plenty of space for saving energy. That would not solve all the problems but it would certainly make them smaller and at some point renewables should do the rest.

I don’t have trustworthy information about how much better or worse nuclear power is regarding CO2 than renewables are but if you consider saving energy you should end up with a nice energy concept.

Probably that’s too optimistic for some of you but it certainly is possible. Just take a look on this diagram (you will find it on one of our government websites).
http://www.bmwi.de/BMWi/Redaktion/Bilde ... che=de.jpg
The red part is the nuclear energy production. The part above the red part is energy from renewables and everything below the red part is fossil fuel stuff. You see that renewables are replacing nuclear energy while the use of fossil fuels almost stayed constant. You might think it would be better to use renewables to replace the fossil energy sources? Well a lot of this fossil fuel is used for heating and transportation so you can’t easily replace it by renewables… at least you can’t do so quickly. You can also see that the coal slowly becomes less important too. That will also reduce the problems with the mercury (my parent’s research had to do with toxic constituents in smoke).

On the other hand there are still leftovers from the washout after the Tschernobyl incident. However I would not worry about that unless you eat a lot of mushrooms or wild boar. I worked a few days in one of the bigger institutes concerning radioecology (that had to do with neutrons from cosmic radiation) and one of the first thing I was shown was a diagram of the different sources of radioactivity in everyday life. There was also a small part showing the increased level of radioactivity as a result of nuclear tests and nuclear power plant incidents. It’s interesting that those tests and incidents are enough to significantly influence the everyday exposure to radiation.

So I personally would like to see more vacuum tube collectors on the roofs of the houses (I’m not so happy with solar cells) and better thermal insulation of buildings (that would also solve the problems with mildew we have in this building) instead of a new nuclear power plant.

My conclusion might be different if we were not talking about Germany but the US.

Adrian

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Chris Bradley
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Re: Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Post by Chris Bradley » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:44 am

Adrian Hoefken wrote:
> It’s a salt dome that was used to dump nuclear waste. Water is leaking in…
> Water was already leaking in when radioactive waste was thrown in there

In cases where there are idiotic uses and consequences of technology, idiots will blame the technology whereas technologists would blame the idiocy.

adrian.f.h
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Re: Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Post by adrian.f.h » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:10 am

Chris Bradley schrieb:

> In cases where there are idiotic uses and consequences of technology, idiots will blame the technology whereas technologists would blame the idiocy.

You're right but blaming idiocy will solve nothing. Actually it was not idiocy but the financial interests that resulted in this and other decisions. Those interests can’t be separated from this technology so you will always end up with “idiotic” decisions. I don’t think it was a clever thing to build a nuclear power plant in a tsunami area but it was for sure both easy and cost-effective.

I don’t blame the technology but what the financial interests do with it and sometimes I even prefer a technology to be untouched instead of being used by the wrong people with the wrong motivation.

Adrian

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Richard Hull
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Re: Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:27 pm

It's always been about the bean counters math and market projections and showing a profit. Energy will pour forth strictly through profit and never through need or concerns of the populace. It is now and ever shall be. No one makes and sells energy for fun or to satisfy any ecological constraints if there is no profit in it.....Doing so, that's idiosy!

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Jim Kovalchick
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Re: Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Post by Jim Kovalchick » Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:57 pm

Richard,
I agree with your premise, but I would add that sometimes idiocy in the populace or with the decision makers often alters profitability. The cost to satisfy paranoid fears can be very high.

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Chris Bradley
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Re: Taylor Wilson in Forbes

Post by Chris Bradley » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:13 pm

I would invert Richard's observation, to say that it is *always trying to show a profit* that is, itself, the idiocy.

Maybe some folks could just use their money to do *the right thing* with it, for a change, cost neutral or even for the benefit of more than just themselves. Maybe, even, Governments could resist borrowing endless amounts of money to prop up endless financial growth. How idiotic is that?!

The whole world's economy is based on the notion of continuous growth so that usury practices may continue indefinitely wherein money moves from the poor to the wealthy through interest rates. I can't see a fundamental logical basis for either of those things, excepting that it is simply a 'that's what everyone else has always done, let's keep doing it' kind of sleep-walking people seem to think should just carry on for ever.

>"Actually it was not idiocy but .. financial interests...".
Take a look at the world today, with the obsession on financial interests in the form it has been expressed in the last few decades, and that phrase looks rather oxymoronic!

The financial interests that cause problems you raise, Adrian, are the ones that try to save/make money now but cost more in the long-run because all they do is a half-axxed solution now and shift the cost 'til later. That's the idiocy of the bean-counters with their five-year plans.

So this does all relate to Taylor's pronouncements on nuclear energy still because the risk is that he's right but a half a message will be heard instead, and maybe a half an implementation will happen, with consequences like putting nuclear waste in a location of susceptibility to water ingress, or putting a nuclear reactor with a 10 m tsunami susceptibility in an area where 30 m tsunamis have been seen in the last 100 years. Then 'everyone' says 'ah, you see, we implemented half the thing, so if we'd done the whole thing then it'd be twice as bad'. With logic like that, you can see the risk in giving folks a clear target like Taylor might be.

Yeah - saving/spending now to cost more later are just *genius* ways of progressing the financial interest!!

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