It’ll Take How Long?

I think we need to adopt nuclear power in Australia to effectively address our nation’s contributions to climate change. Some may disagree that it is a good idea for any reason at all, but they would be disagreeing with the IPCC.

They may argue that Australia’s proportional emissions are such a small fraction in context that arguably dramatic climate action is unnecessary. Certainly context does matter, but the ill-fated carbon price, one of the first in the world, did influence emissions without bringing disaster to the economy, and was a display of strong leadership in our region.

Oh, they just don’t want nuclear in Australia! It’s good for emissions, it’s no problem in most countries – who may even buy our grudgingly-extracted uranium for it – but they just don’t want it here? Nuclear is a proven climate change tool which is supported by respected conservation scientists in Australia and abroad, by Australian engineering peak bodies, by my state’s peak business advocates, by the CEO of Australia’s leading integrated energy company, and by our national experts. For what it’s worth, I want solutions to climate change in my backyard.

“But Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations say it will take 15 years ‘or more’ to bring in nuclear from scratch.” Yes they do, and although I’ve never seen the basis for this figure, it’s what I’ll work with in this article.

Part I – Wind & Solar

The following analysis was directly inspired by Geoff Russell’s May 2013 article. (For those who’ve made it this far, but still doubt the net benefits of nuclear power, he wrote a little book, Greenjacked!, which is worth the virtual pocket change and will supply indispensable context.) This is the relevant chart:

11years

The UAE shows what a country with no nuclear could achieve given the political will. By 2020, about 12 years after notifying the IAEA, the Emirates will be getting 44 terawatt hours of power [sic] annually from its South Korean reactors. This is a per capita addition of some 3400 kwh/yr of clean electricity. It’s not enough, but as the chart shows, it’s nearly three-and-a-half times faster than the German wind and solar rollout.

As you can also see from the chart, if all goes well, the UAE will have added electricity faster with nuclear alone than the Chinese have done using all sources, including coal, during the past 11 years.

I wanted to firstly check Australia’s progress in adding zero-carbon capacity with real numbers which weren’t available back then. We have good data for household photovoltaic (PV) solar, which certainly looks impressive:

2014pv

With clear installation rate data:

20132014pvinstal

Which gives a 2013-2014 inclusive average of 816.5 megawatts per year (MW/yr). Examination of 2013 capacity (averaging 2930 MW) and generation (3.82 terawatt hours) provides an Australian PV capacity factor of 14.9%. This means that the two consistently best years of PV addition, for a population now at 23,706,600, is 45.5 kilowatt hours per person (kWhr/capita) annually.

aust12yearwind in2014is3562

2013: 3240 MW; 2014: 4053 MW

Australian wind power enjoys a high average capacity factor of 35% and a phenomenal annualised build rate in 2013-2014 of 2281.5 GWh/yr, or 96.2 kWhr/capita.

Calculating the “per person” rate is useful. It makes it more of a human issue, and ties it to an important statistic: Australian per capita electrical consumption, which was 10712.18 kW in 2011. It lets us calculate that Australia’s historical best push for wind and solar together (at 141.8 kWh/capita annually) will satisfy that average consumption in 75 years, or, more realistically, half of it in 37 years. Obviously a rising population (which I will not consider here) will tend to increase the denominator and add years to this estimate, so what can be done to decrease it? We could accelerate those renewables, but this will be unlikely for PV without increasing expensive incentives, and even more-so for wind power in the short term (despite recent large additions sensibly being in high capacity factor locations). More fundamentally, Australia’s best effort would already be ahead of Germany’s:

11yearsPVwind

Australia’s projected comparison best effort over 11 years (purple).

We could reduce overall electricity use: better insulated homes with double-glazing, lower wattage efficient lighting, standby power isolators, modern heatpumps and evacuated tube solar water heaters… Undoubtedly, there will be a lot of this, and it will be easier to achieve than any speculative mass change in behaviour. But recall Mr Russell’s point regarding Sweden, which uses around 15,000 kWh/capita:

This is way more than we use in Australia (10,000 kwh/person/yr), but they only generate 25 gms of CO2 per kwh, so who gives a damn how much electricity they use? Swedish electricity is about 50:50 nuclear and hydro. Scale back their profligacy and they’ve got plenty to charge electric vehicles and so on.

I contend that the undeniable need for a transition to majority electric vehicles in something far shorter than forty years is vital. Using Tom Murphy’s figures for the Tesla EV (13.7 kWh/100 km) and assuming a charging efficiency of 90%, each will add an extra 1956 kWh of electrical demand for charging per car. At 13 million cars, that’s over 1000 extra annual kWh/capita.

In addition, we will need desal. Efficient sea water reverse osmosis (SWRO) requires about 3 kW per cubic metre, or kilolitre. Replacing all 930 kL used by each Australian in 2005 would add another 2790 kWh/capita to yearly demand. Less than this would still go some way to relieving pressure on our artesian basin and major rivers.

I like to call these factors “demand destruction destruction” – the necessary electrification of future capacity. I won’t add these to the tally because estimating the most likely extent of EV and desal adoption is beyond the scope of this article. But they’re there, and they will help in the long run – if we have the electricity for them.

There are other challenges. This build out would result in approximately 31.2 GW of PV and 28.1 GW of wind capacity – roughly seven times what we have of each today. For the average rooftop PV installation of 4.3 kW, we will need 83% of today’s households. which may be a problem with a rate of home ownership at 67% and gradually falling, and no real incentive scheme for landlords. A large amount of this could well be in the form of solar farms, which Mr Russell has also analysed in detail, and based on his reference Moree site (at 150 MW) each gigawatt of solar farm would be over 50,000 truckloads of material and occupy over 7,900 hectares of land. The panels and wind turbines last roughly 25 years – at least half will effectively be installed twice over before the task is complete. And of course there’s appropriate grid upgrades and transmission infrastructure to be added.

20141216192834_NEM Peak Demand_CHART_1
Then there’s the bright, windy days. Demand last summer topped out around 34 GW, but we’ll have over 59 GW of wind and solar capacity, each penetrating the market way over their capacity factors. 50 GW of renewable energy can’t be fed to the grid if 50 GW isn’t being demanded. Will vendors want to be compensated? Who will take responsibility for curtailment? Storage? We might as well wish for economical HVDC interconnection to Indonesia, and hope they still need our surplus electricity.

Net installed electricity generation capacity vs generation in Germany in 2014

2014 capacity vs generation in Germany. Despite market price disruption by subsidised wind and solar, ordinary consumers are increasingly suffering.

And the biggest question of all: how much carbon has this abated? Hopefully a lot, but I’m afraid I don’t see this emphasised by many commentators who favour renewable energy. In fact, much of the time the potential of renewables just seems taken as gospel. And regardless of marketing, spin or preferential advocacy, the 85.1% of Austrlian solar and the 65% of wind power that won’t be on the grid, on average, will be backed up by a substantial portion of fossil fuel combustion.

Part II – Nuclear

In 2012-2013 power plants around Australia generated various amounts of MWs and emitted so much tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e). Choosing a few of the most polluting gives a selection from each state, concentrating on the Victorian lignite stations.

50carbon
94.4 million tonnes is just shy of half of Australia’s total electricity emissions, estimated in 2009-2010 at 195 MtCO2-e. Bearing in mind that disrupting the status quo always affects people, we still need to close these coal plants. We can use some of the same sites and much of the existing infrastructure for the reference nuclear option: the AFCR.

cycle

Fuel versatility and recycling with the Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor.

This is essentially the Enhanced CANDU 6 detailed in the Zero Carbon Options Report, except now, in addition to running on uranium at natural enrichment levels, it can run on recycled natural uranium equivalent fuel, as well as blended thorium/uranium. Based on the biggest turbine sizes found in Australian power plants, it is perhaps the largest plant that our grid could handle right now. Each is classed as a 700 MW unit, with an expected 95% capacity factor based on the performance of CANDU 6 plants around the world. That will mean 60 years of delivering 5.83 TWh/yr essentially uninterupted, which will mean we need to build fifteen of them.

Wolsong CANDU reactors, South Korea.

Wolsong CANDU reactors, South Korea. Supreme energy density.

Hey, they said fifteen years – they didn’t say per reactor.

EC6s are generally built on time – 5 years or under – and on budget. Construction should be staggered to coordinate with suppliers and allow transfer of Australian FOAK lessons to benefit the NOAK, as long as all fifteen reactors are underway by the 10 year mark. This may benefit from a rigorous fact finding process involving South Korea, China, Argentina and Romania, in the initial two or so years when Australia’s climate action-aggressive, scientifically-informed regulatory framework is being established (following the repeal of our arbitrary nuclear prohibition).

Fifteen years to install 10.5 GW of state of the art, versatile, always on, historically safe Canadian nuclear capacity. As the last reactor is connected to the grid, the last coal plant in the above list can be shut down for the final time, and average Australian electricity emissions will be around 100 million tonnes of CO2-e. Our clean capacity annual addition rate has been an average of 245.9 kWh/capita. Fifteen reactors sounds like a big ask, but more has been done faster before.

11yearsPVwindNUCLEAR

Average addition rate of modern CANDU capacity (blue).

Just like with wind and solar, several factors can affect this rate. There may be delays: unavoidable ones like major component supply bottlenecks or a lag in expertise, or entirely avoidable ones such as funded, organised nuclear opposition acting simply to further delay Australian nuclear development rather than responsibly involve itself as a productive stakeholder in the rapid, science-informed decarbonisation process. Additional grid upgrades will likely be unavoidable. On the other hand, concomitant efficiency increases would bring closer the day that last coal plant burns its last furnace-load.

Again, I’m choosing to ignore population growth, a factor which I expect will seriously complicate any realistic scenario. That leaves the electric vehicle fleet, which is often treated as a convenient battery for renewables-dominated grid models, but with a high proportion of nuclear electricity available on a constant basis no one needs to modify their automotive habits – just plug in whenever is convenient or cheapest or both – and the extra grid-managed battery cycling can be avoided. To cover the entirety of this extra demand would take another eight years of nuclear build-out.

27806,zoom,MED-TVC

MED-TVC desalination.

What about desal? Well, this is the really good news, because nuclear capacity directly opens a new world of large-scale efficiency which wind and solar frankly would not. Multiple effect distillation with thermal vapour compression utilises the steam out of the nuclear plant turbines to economically desalinate water more efficiently than SWRO can. This would involve a drop in overall electrical output, but since modern CANDU reactors are invariably rated well above 700 MW it doesn’t affect this article’s estimations. Running it on waste heat from steam turbines is the most supremely efficient approach to desalination (desal-dedicated nuclear is even being considered in South Korea). It can be achieved to some degree with renewable energy, of course, but why sacrifice this efficiency just to maintain a rejection of nuclear?

In comparing the contributions of a massive expansion of both wind and solar versus nuclear in the form of fifteen CANDU reactors, some might say two against one isn’t a fair competition. As long as I’m assuming the rapid adoption of effective, evidence-led decarbonisation policy, let me add the IFR to the mix. Compared to CANDU, it is less well demonstrated but IFRs in the form of PRISM – or something like it – will be needed in the future as a rational and economical tool for nuclear material recycling.

ARC

The GE Hitachi Advance Recycling Center, incorporating the PRISM 311 MW small modular sodium-cooled fast reactor, would generate its own fuel as well as fuel for CANDU reactors from other nations’ high level “nuclear waste”.

This is what real environmental responsibility entails: deploying the technology to deal with by-products of civilisation’s needs. The current and future inventory of recyclable nuclear fuel is a contentious issue in many countries – how much would they pay Australia to take it? Of course, each PRISM is smaller and to slot into our scenario would need to be built in a rough ratio of 4:9 CANDU to PRISM. The overwhelming advantage of taking this step would be to effectively by-pass the need for constant mining and enrichment of domestic nuclear fuel – processing and fabrication is largely handled by the advanced fuel recycling center (which is powered by the attached fast reactors). Without mining and enrichment, or fossil-fueled nuclear fuel production, every megawatt would be truly carbon-free.

Part III – Wind & Solar & Nuclear

The two separate approaches I have used for deriving these annual rates reflect the different magnitudes of certainty we can realistically have about directly and decisively replacing fossil fuel generation. I think it is now straightforward: begin a decarbonisation-focused adoption of modern nuclear energy capacity, at what would be a modest rate in comparison to the most successful historical efforts, and in addition to continued expansion of successful renewable capacity. Have I claimed anywhere that it would be easy? Of course not. Neither approach will be: a single year lacking in bipartisan support and regulatory certainty was enough to bring the renewable energy industry to “a standstill“.

Correcting the vociferous “renewable energy only” voices on the intrinsic limitations of the two superstar intermittent low carbon renewable technologies is not at all “anti-renewables”, though it is often labelled so. In my experience so far, it is mainly these loud commentators who perpetuate the idea that it is a competition (it should be nothing of the kind). I have found most nuclear advocates to be far more focused on carbon-abatement, and it is not renewables that bother them, it is the unreasonable overselling and the ill-informed policy that sometimes is the result.

You’re probably sick of that graph by now, but if you add the purple line to the blue line it gives a respectable annual rate of electricity decarbonisation, something like an average of 390 kWh/capita. Realistically, these are surely best case scenarios: Australian anti-nuclearism will not be swayed overnight, and wind and solar would top out before reaching those calculated levels of penetration for purely technical reasons. Of course, the way to ensure we get nowhere near it is to put off nuclear indefinitely.


We can be quite sure that, with human willpower, nuclear won’t take too long. With all the tools in the box, we might make quick work of it after all. And the cost?

Am I a Feminist?

By way of Atomic Insights, I have now seen Margaret Thatcher’s address to the UN General Assembly on the issue of climate change.


It brought to mind a much more recent speech by another high profile British woman on an equally important issue.


Or is it equally important? Equal rights for both sexes, versus action on maintaining a human-livable biosphere? Well, I think so, but that’s because I think it all comes down to energy supply – and specifically for rich countries, wherein civilised debate over minutiae of feminism and equality in general is as ubiquitous as reliable and affordable electricity, maintaining the quality of this supply is paramount. But don’t just take it from me:


Women’s participation in modern civilisation is unparalleled in history and should be celebrated; this must be expanded, at the same time as any backward step should be fiercely opposed. In the absence of informed national policies that ensure appropriately clean and reliable energy for the future, will noble causes such as feminism advance… or contract?

greenlemons

 

Exceptionally Unharmful

This is a video clip worth watching.


Sadly, he didn’t take the opportunity to visit Guarapari but the point about smoking, which is still quite popular was very well made.

Would I feel uneasy in an abandoned Fukushima prefecture village? I expect so – the place has been left to the elements for three and a half years, and there are boars everywhere. In contrast to the radiation release from 2011, the death toll due to pigs is non-zero. I’m not going to get worried about the elevated background dose rate though: it is well below the medically-informed AHARS suggested limit of 100 milliSieverts per month, which works out to 137 microSieverts per hour.

ahars
I majored in cellular biochemistry, and as I learn more about health physics I may adjust my opinion, but to be conservative I peg 70 μSv/hr as my cutoff – don’t expect me to freakout anywhere below that, ok?

I want to especially recommend a reference I have recently come back to, written by the late Professor David Wigg, who headed clinical radiobiology for decades at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

There is now a large body of human data showing the existence
of low dose thresholds of approximately 0.2 Sv or less
below which there is little or no effect.

…The most rigorous epidemiological study of the effects of
low exposure to radiation workers was the Nuclear Shipyards
Workers Study initiated by the USA Department of Energy in
which 71 000 workers were examined. There were two exposed
groups with doses less than or greater than the equivalent
of 5 years’ background radiation. These were compared
with similar workers with no exposure. The higher dose group
had lower cancer death rates and lower death rates from all
causes.

Addendum:
I must second the recommendation of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids. The great thing is it preceded the full-bore advent of both nuclear power and weapon proliferation, and instead imagines both a far more creative, immediate threat – the triffids themselves – and the existential threat of the cold war satellites, realised in abrupt global blindness. The main characters are flawed but compassionate and resourceful, struggling with the pressure of relinquishing just enough of their civilised morality to aid in building more than just bare survival. To quote, though not to necessarily endorse:

“Do you mean to say we could have had lights all the time we’ve been here?” asked the girl.
“If you had just taken the trouble to start the engine,” Coker said, looking at her. “If you wanted light, why didn’t you try to start it?”
“I didn’t know it was there; besides, I don’t know anything about engines or electricity.”
Coker continued to look at her, thoughtfully. “So you just went on sitting in the dark,” he remarked. “And how long do you think you are likely to survive if you just go on sitting in the dark when things need doing?”
She was stung by his tone.
“It’s not my fault if I’m not any good at things like that.”
“I’ll differ there,” Coker told her. “It’s not only your fault- it’s a self-created fault. Moreover, it’s an affectation to consider yourself too spiritual to understand anything mechanical. It is a petty and a very silly form of vanity. Everyone starts by knowing nothing about anything, but God gives him – and even her – brains to find out with. Failure to use them is not a virtue to be praised; even in women it is a gap to be deplored.”
She looked understandably annoyed. Coker himself had been annoyed from the time he came in. She said: “I don’t see why you need to pour all your contempt for women onto me – just because of one dirty old engine.”
Coker raised his eyes.
“Great God! And here have I been explaining that women have as many brains as anyone else, if they’d only take the trouble to use them.”
“You said we were all petty and vain. That wasn’t at all a nice thing to say.”
“I’m not trying to say nice things. And what I meant was that in the world that has vanished women had a vested interest in acting the part of parasites.”
“And all that just because I don’t happen to know anything about a smelly, noisy engine.”
“Hell!” said Coker. “Just drop that engine a minute, will you.”
“Then why-”
“Listen,” said Coker patiently. “If you have a baby, do you want him to grow up to be a savage or a civilized man?”
“A civilized man, of course.”
“Well, then, you have to see to it that he has civilized surroundings to do it in. The standards he’ll learn, he’ll learn from us. We’ve all got to understand as much as we can, and live as intelligently as we can, in order to give him the most we can. It’s going to mean hard work and more thinking for all of us. Changed conditions must mean changed outlooks.”
The girl gathered up her mending. She regarded Cokes critically for a few moments. “With views like yours I should think you’d find Mr. Beadley’s party more congenial,” she said. “Here we have no intention of changing our outlook – or of giving up our principles. That’s why we separated from the other party. So if the ways of decent, respectable people are not good enough for you, I should think you’d better go somewhere else.” And with a sound very like a sniff, she walked away.
Coker watched her leave. When the door closed he expressed his feelings with a fish porter’s fluency. I laughed. “What did you expect?” I said. “You prance in and address the girl as if she were a reactionary debating society – and responsible for the whole western social system as well. And then you’re surprised when she’s huffed.”
“You’d think she’d be reasonable,” he muttered.
“Most people aren’t, even though they’d protest that they are. They prefer to be coaxed or wheedled, or even driven. That way they never make a mistake: if there is one, it’s at’ ways due to something or somebody else. This going headlong for things is a mechanistic view, and people in general aren’t machines. They have minds of their own – mostly peasant minds, at their easiest when they are in the familiar furrow.”
“That doesn’t sound as if you’d give Beadley much chance of making a go of it. He’s all plan.”
“He’ll have his troubles. But his party did choose. This lot is negative,” I pointed out. “It is simply here on account of its resistance to any kind of plan.” I paused. Then I added: “That girl was right about one thing, you know. You would be better off with his lot. Her reaction is asample of what you’d get all round if you were to try to handle this lot your way. You can’t drive a flock of sheep to market in a dead straight line, but there are ways of getting ’em there.”
“You’re being unusually cynical, as well as very metaphorical, this evening,” Coker observed.
I objected to that. “It isn’t cynical to have noticed how a shepherd handles his sheep.”
“To regard human beings as sheep might be thought so by some.”
“But less cynical and much more rewarding than regarding them as a lot of chassis fitted for remote-thought control.”
“H’m,” said Coker, “I’ll have to consider the implications of that.”

 

Anti

reply

The ideology at the root of this sort of attitude has been progressively bothering me over the last few months. Mark Pawelek (@swcrisis) put it into words recently:

I think you missed out a 4th category [to explain anti-nuclear belief]:
4. They are politically (ideologically?) opposed to nuclear power because they think it prevents a ‘decentralized economy’ (DE). DE posits a world where technology is locally controlled – a sort of syndicalist economy. They believe that real democratic control is a value in itself. They think that nuclear power must lead to centralized solutions, and autocratic institutions.

I’m not pretending their posited ‘decentralized economy’ makes sense. It doesn’t. They believe it. This DE argument has become widespread since the end of communism. In early 1990s many Trotskyists migrated to green politics. Prior to that the DE argument was just latent in green thought. Since the 1990s it’s become of prime importance to these disillusioned politicos who value politics above all else.

It doesn’t make sense, and it is far from internally consistent. For me, it was first elucidated while reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance about a year ago. The increasing academic distaste for industrialisation during the late sixties/early seventies was a jarring theme for me while I was employed in analytical quality control for food manufacturing. That’s not to say I didn’t understand it; I feel this attitude permeates my society’s psyche in much the same way that, traditionally, Australia has just been anti-nuclear.

Of course, that doesn’t sound very scientific, and it’s not – but I’m not a sociologist. Having participated in every aspect of a value-adding industrial process, I see how divorced from reality the notion truly is. The ideology of anti-centralised energy offers no way forward due to intrinsic inconsistency. Replying on an internet forum to reject any discussion of nuclear energy and advocate decentralised energy ignores the centralisation of the manufacturing required to mass produce every circuit and component needed for the mobile device or computer being used to post, plus the transmission infrastructure, the datacenters (which are inherently centralised) and any number of ancillary physical entities and services, and, fundamentally, dependable grid electricity required to run it all in an economical fashion. A skerrick of consistency would be obtained if such an advocate were to divest himself of all his personal electronic communication devices, which are only affordable due to centralised economies of scale – scale that he cannot grasp, and indeed frightens him. I hope many have in fact already done so, though we won’t hear from them, of course.

Further consistency – in the context of the actual energy debate – would be gained by opposing windfarms – invariably centralised at an optimal site to assist transmission of their output – and the economical manufacturing of solar panels, just as vociferously as nuclear reactors. We’re not talking about pencils here, this is seriously complex science, engineering and electronics, in all cases. Seimens and Yingli – just like Areva, Toshiba, Hitachi, Mitsubishi – are not exactly local produce cottage co-ops. This is important, because the decentralised energy argument does not lead to any answer to human-caused climate disruption. According to the best analysis, we are likely to see several degrees of average warming in the next seven decades – glacial retreat, ice shelf melt, less stable weather – along with possibly disastrous oceanic acidification. So let’s decentralise all our electrical supplies and – do what? Ride it out? All agree to (just as magically) limit the birthrate so far fewer people are fighting over resources by the time it gets really bad?

A moment’s clear thought is all it takes to see that resilience for the billions of people who will live in the future we shape today will be best delivered by enabling abundant energy supplies. Still hesitant about the risks of expanding modern nuclear energy as part of this? Fair enough, but authoritative information is available. Fact is, it’s already happening. At best it is merely the illusion of decentralised energy and, for all its indulgent western appeal, it won’t spontaneously take hold in the parts of the world hungriest for energy. What do proponents want to do – force them to decentralise?

I’m not hating on local economies – doing away with bank notes and trading locally-sourced produce and services among neighbours and communities. There should be more of that, and I feel it contributes to regional resilience. And obviously I’m not claiming that there’ll be no decentralised generation. There’ll be a lot. After all, the idea is popular and therefore marketable. Will it realistically contribute to climate action? I hope so, but the arithmetic is beyond the scope of this post. Take the example of solar PV plus batteries – Tesla is pursuing an unprecedented battery gigafactory, primarily “to engineer a step-change downwards in battery costs.” Well, that’s centralisation of mass-production to capture economies of scale. This is the only physical way to bring costs down for stuff normal folks want to buy, and it’s exactly what a hypothetical purely distributed energy world would lack.

emroi

Weißbach and co-workers tried to define the threshold below which an energy source (stand-alone or buffered with storage) was in fact supported by the grid it served.

 

 

 

I Could Be Arguing In My Spare Time

This morning on Seven Network’s Weekend Sunrise my friend Ben Heard went opposite radiologist and treasurer of the Medical Association for Prevention of War’s Peter Karamoskos, ostensibly to debate the merits of starting to move ahead with nuclear power as part of Australia response to carbon emissions.

Ben was allowed to summarise some of situation first, but unlike the previous encounter, his opponent seemingly had no interest in the matter at hand, instead citing international estimates from the IPCC (which calls for an end to fossil fuel use by 2100) of global proportions of electricity use. He even argued with Andrew O’Keefe who tried valiantly to rerail the context: electrical power in Australia. The unstated implied doubt was obviously that addressing the carbon emissions from electrical generation may not be worth the effort, but when Ben was allowed the opportunity to disagree – and explain that this logic also undermined any reason to switch to renewable energy technologies as well – his opponent interrupted with flat-out umbrage, and continued to interrupt at every opportunity. It was becoming clear what his agenda was. Decarbonising Australia’s electricity, as is the aim of every proponent of every ultra-low carbon energy source, will cut a third of our nation’s carbon footprint. It is ridiculous for anybody to downplay that, especially with the potential future demand (and necessity!) for desalination and rechargeable electric vehicles.

This leads to the other point of contention, what we could call a classic, and it was raised purely to run down the clock: lifetime emissions. Ben’s opponent’s organisation flatly opposes nuclear power – unlike the previously cited IPCC:

ipccsynth

But of all the excuses provided, lifecycle emissions were stressed the most, on the basis of debunked studies. The IPCC source does not cite them. They were widely criticised years ago, with far better studies now available, plus in-real-life experience – and nuclear opponents know that. It was when “Sovacool! Sovacool!” was being hollered across the studio link – which would mean nothing to almost everyone out in TV land – that it became crystal clear that only one guest was there to engage in mature debate.

nuclearsafestsunrise

Read that caption again.

The patient hosts were genuinely interested in the perennial issue of nuclear waste, which is of course fuel for future reactors, as South Australia’s peak business lobby group understands far better than the sort of NGOs who worry loudly, publicly and incessantly about it. But Ben was interrupted on that one, too.