Alastair Collins Nuclear Power - Germany et al


Great piece & would that it comes to pass, however, I believe Germany buys some 40% of its power from France, which is 80% nuclear power generating. As such it will be difficult, if not impossible for such countries to uncouple themselves from their dependency on nuclear power.
The ‘nuclear debate’ is fascinating in general - & more so here in SA, with just one nuclear station, therefore not too nuclear dependent & able to opt not to commit to that agenda - yet it has.
Also, with SA's abundance of fossil fuels, solar, wind, tide & wave power alternatives, it’s amazing that it should be planning to build more (potentially hazardous) nuclear plants on its coastline.
That said, the big power plant providers – Westinghouse, Mitsubishi etc – probably ‘incentive’ the choice, just like FIFA!

Alastair Collins
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Posted: 2 June 2011 at 13:33

Doug Vining Nuclear Power - Germany et al

Thanks for your comment, Alastair. I personally think South Africa would be missing a great opportunity if they go ahead on costly nuclear programs, mainly provided by foreign companies, instead of developing local resources like solar power, using the latest biotech and nanotech discoveries.

But like the arms deal, some projects are just too appealing to political appetites!
Posted: 2 June 2011 at 13:59

Doug Vining The New Energy faces challenges

I've been writing scenarios for innovation in the energy sector for the last eight years at least. I'm still convinced that innovations and 'black swans' will determine the future of the energy scene, not politics or ideology. I don't think new alternatives will ultimately win out because they are 'better for the planet', but because they are economically and socially more desirable.

New energy has a lot to overcome, but then so did nuclear and gas. A scenario like the one unfolding in Germany creates pressure which could cause the tipping point to a radically different future - or dismal failure, with blackouts ad economic decline. Whatever happens, it will be interesting, and the future will never be the same again!

What do YOU think is the most likely scenario?
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Posted: 3 June 2011 at 11:13

Doug Vining The New Energy faces challenges

Switzerland joins the no-nuke brigade:

"A majority of parliamentarians in Switzerland's lower house voted in favor of a gradual plan to shut down the country's five nuclear reactors by 2034."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/08/switzerland-nuclear-power_n_873012.html
Posted: 9 June 2011 at 08:12

Doug Vining The New Energy faces challenges

Italy is also taking a stand against nuclear power, even as Japan decides to rely on nuclear as a core part of their energy strategy.
http://www.smh.com.au/business/italys-non-vote-hits-uranium-explorers-20110614-1g1wm.html
Posted: 15 June 2011 at 14:36

Doug Vining The New Energy faces challenges

Here's a link to the latest statistical review of global energy consumption by BP:
http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle800.do?categoryId=9037154&contentId=7068655
Posted: 20 June 2011 at 16:30

Doug Vining New Energy has a bright future

Moore's law is alive and well, and not just in the field of IT.

The New Energy business will ultimately also grow like many other technology businesses, as the costs go down and efficiencies go up. Solar power is not new, but as we've been saying for many years, when it reaches the sweet spot on the maturity curve it will suddenly become mainstream and eclipse old technologies.

After all, the sun is the only limitless source of 'free' energy we've got. All we need is the technology to use it efficiently and economically.
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Posted: 9 November 2011 at 18:37

Neil Jacobsohn Nuclear's on. Nuclear's off. Nuclear's on....or off!

And so the nuclear debate rages on...here';s an interesting perspective of both sides of the debate.
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Posted: 28 March 2012 at 09:07

Doug Vining Nuclear's on. Nuclear's off. Nuclear's on....or off!

Anyone who thinks that current uranium based nuclear power still makes sense for a developing nation like South Africa should remember this:
The Windscale nuclear fire happened in 1957. The still-warm embers of that fire reside in Sellafield in the UK, waiting for the technology and billions - yes Billions - of Pounds Sterling needed to safely clean up the site. After 55 years the cost estimate is only growing.
After 25 years Chernobyl is requiring a new containment structure at enormous cost and won't ever be rehabilitated. Russia has to pay as the Ukraine can't afford it.
The Fukushima meltdowns will probably also take decades to clean up. The cost will be immense.
France can afford nuclear, as long as they maintain 100% safety. China can probably afford anything.
Uranium is a limited resource, but high level waste requires indefinite safe guarding.
Unless new technology can be developed, extensive nuclear expansion, as is currently being considered by South Africa, is a financial disaster waiting to happen. I agree with the Economist, calling it "The dream that failed." It's time for a new dream, one that might work for longer than 50 years!
Posted: 28 March 2012 at 10:27

Doug Vining Solar strength in Germany

Solar power is getting more powerful by the day. Who would have ever thought it possible that Germany could power over 50% of the country from solar sources, even if it is only for the midday hour in summer?

This is only the start, and eventually economies with abundant sunshine, like California and South Africa, will find that solar is indeed the cheapest form of energy!
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Posted: 28 May 2012 at 18:39

Neil Jacobsohn Solar strength in Germany

And here are some fascinating pictures of the world's largest solar thermal power plant, near Las Vegas.
http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/40460/?nlid=nldly&nld=2012-05-29
Posted: 29 May 2012 at 16:03

Doug Vining Economic reaction to nuclear problem

As I've said before, the choices we make in terms of energy and the environment are often influenced to a greater degree by economics than anything else. We'd all like to see clean, sustainable, safe sources of energy supporting economic growth. But until those black swans appear, that disrupt the energy industry forever, we can expect countries to use whatever sources of energy are economically viable, including nuclear.

Which makes a telling point. In many countries nuclear expansion has stalled, more as a result of the escalating costs of construction and the emergence of cheap alternatives like natural gas from fracking. Again, I cannot see the sense for a developing country like South Africa to invest billions in a huge new nuclear program, which they are ill equipped to manage, when natural gas is increasingly abundant in the region. It just doesn't make economic sense.
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Posted: 8 March 2013 at 09:55

Neil Jacobsohn Nuclear breakthrough on the horizon?

Don't write off nuclear energy just yet! The debate - and the science - is far from over!
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Posted: 21 August 2013 at 00:50

Doug Vining The nuclear switch off begins

We suggested a scenario where countries begin to shut down nuclear energy in favour of more economic and socially acceptable forms of power generation. Germany was considered the most likely candidate, but it seems Japan is now making plans to live without nukes.

I'm still of the opinion that Fukushima was a catastrophe for the nuclear power industry, and might one day be seen as the 'black swan' that altered the nuclear landscape forever. But other factors, like the abundance of shale gas and the ever-increasing costs of building and running nuclear plants will also weigh heavily on any plans to expand nuclear power - at least with current technology.

If 'cold fusion' or thorium reactors really get going, that will change everything, again.
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Posted: 16 September 2013 at 14:45

Neil Jacobsohn The facts about who's doing what in nuclear energy

Is nuclear power dead, in the wake of Fukushima, or is it undergoing a renaissance? The debate rages own between the pro- and anti- lobbies. What's needed are some cold, hard facts - and that's precisely what this info graphic provides. Who's investing in new nuclear power capacity and who's retracting? Will our MindBullet become a reality? Read on?
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Posted: 9 April 2014 at 10:06

Doug Vining Nuking small reactors

I've long been suggesting that the current model for nuclear power, traditional uranium fission reactors, is fast becoming obsolete, mainly for economic reasons. In this paper, Cooper not only points out that the nuclear industry is failing economically, in the US at least, but that small modular reactors are not the solution to an industry that is past its half-life and in decline.

I'm sure that in France and perhaps China and India, nuclear power still has a rosy future, and more radical and innovative technology can play its part, but I can't help feeling that the 'Moore's law' effect of solar power and the emergence of the distributed, smart micro-grid, peer production of power, and collaborative consumption of electricity will make large, centralized, costly and risky nuclear power plants an irrational strategy in the future.

Which is why I can't understand why a country like South Africa still has a plan to spend US$ 100 billion on new nuclear power plants, that they might not need by the time they're built. Oh, wait, the opportunities for graft and backhanders must be mouth-watering!
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Posted: 13 June 2014 at 10:05

Doug Vining Power from the desert sun

China doesn't do things by half measures, and its first commercial solar project is set to become the largest in the world. Big enough to power over 1 million homes, when complete it will use concentrated solar heat storage to run 24 hours per day.
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Posted: 11 August 2015 at 16:10

Doug Vining Nuclear on the wane in Europe

Despite the new nukes being planned or built in the UK and Finland, it seems that the general appetite for nuclear power in Europe is declining. Germany has long had a plan to phase out nuclear, to appease the Greens, and now France - a big proponent of nuclear power - has publicly committed to closing down several nukes in the next few years.
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Posted: 30 August 2017 at 10:14

Doug Vining Nuclear on the wane in Europe

And here's a more in-depth article on the fate of nuclear in Europe:
http://www.power-technology.com/features/featuremacrons-france-where-now-for-nuclear-power-5905019/
Posted: 30 August 2017 at 10:34
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