Per Peterson answers the “nuclear waste” question

Amongst the Reddit AMA questions, I appreciated the direct way Peterson put this classic opposition complaint into proper context: 

Q: I don’t think we should build any reactors until we have a repository for the waste ready to go…

A: I understand this position (don’t make waste until you have the ability to dispose of it properly).
But the major problem we face is that we are using our atmosphere as our primary waste repository for the products of fossil fuel combustion. We have a strong scientific and technical consensus that deep geologic disposal can provide acceptable long-term isolation of nuclear wastes, and we have two countries now that have successfully developed and are building repositories for commercial spent fuel (France and Sweden).

We also have no plausible approaches to remove CO2 waste from the atmosphere once it is put there, except for some scary geoengineering ideas (such as fertilizing the oceans). Future generations are likely to be much more angry about the CO2 we’re generating now, than the nuclear waste.

5 thoughts on “Per Peterson answers the “nuclear waste” question

  1. Some might suggest nuclear power not necessary because wind/solar/efficiency will solve the issue. So I think to complete this discussion, examples like Germany are showing that wind and solar intermittancy and unreliability challenges have yet to prove that they can make a significant reduction to carbon emissions. Also, efficiency gains are likely more than offset by annual electricity growth demands. Excellent comparison by Peterson of nuke waste versus using the atmosphere for carbon waste.

    • I keep asking “Greenies” to tell me where any of their concepts have actually worked.  Just ONE grid, over 5 GW average load, formerly driven by fossil-fired generation (not hydro) which has de-carbonized using wind and solar.

      They all devolve to accusations, evasions or just go silent.  They KNOW their schemes have failed to fulfill the promises… and they STILL refuse to hold them accountable.  They are as culpable as the Koch brothers.  No, more so:  at least the Kochs are honest.

      • Please let us know if you do get a solid report on just ONE 5 GW grid where wind/solar substituted for fossil. We know substitution is possible by building hybrid gas/wind/solar generation, but that is at least 70% gas – so the wind/solar is really just green washing. It can also be done by building the wind/solar in a grid that has excess hydro availability for buffering – but that isn’t what the 100% RE advocates propose. And of course Denmark does not generalize.

        Also any reliable reports of UNSUBSIDIZED utility scale wind/solar (there must be some somewhere).

        Have you seen UCSD physicist Tom Murphy’s Energy Trap post? http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/10/the-energy-trap/

        Tom uses EROI of 15 for nuclear which is low by at least a factor of 7 for current generation centrifuge enrichment. I’m not sure how much higher EROI for PB-AHTR, IFR is likely to be. Do you know of any analysis of EROI for advanced nuclear designs?

      • of course Denmark does not generalize.

        Denmark still gets 48% of its electric power from coal.  Generalizing Denmark is suicide; we need to generalize Sweden.

        Do you know of any analysis of EROI for advanced nuclear designs?

        Not my area of investigation at the moment.

      • Yes,Sweden is a model decarbonization which does generalize. France is even better with regard to having little hydro.

        What I meant by “Denmark does not generalize” is in response to VRE advocate claims that “critics say VRE is limited to small penetration — Denmark proves they don’t know what they are talking about!” The advocates don’t realize that Denmark was only able to turn on so much wind by buffering with Denmark coal and Norway hydro. The least bad part of that system is the hydro, which clearly doesn’t generalize. As you said generalizing Denmark’s coal buffering is suicide.

        BTW, the “greens” who boast about clean, green, Denmark have just looked at the Greenpeace windmill photos. They don’t know about the 48% coal. Or they are intentionally misleading.

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