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Nuclear Electricity

 

Nuclear power is a significant competitor to renewables generated electricity in many countries. Conventional nuclear power (fission) is growing rapidly and fusion sill holds promise for the future (as the resource is effectively limitless).

 

In much of the world nuclear generated electricity is already competitive with fossil fuels and less costly than wind or solar energy. Nuclear energy is expected to replace a modest proportion of fossil fuel generated electricity in many large economies during the first half of this century[28]. Prominent amongst these are China and India[29].

 

For example, the Republic of (South) Korea produced 343 TWh of electricity in 2004[30] of which 63 per cent came from conventional thermal sources, mainly coal, 36 per cent came from nuclear power, and a small amount came from hydro-power stations. But nuclear power is planned to steadily increase its share of the country’s net electricity generation. Korea already has four operating nuclear power stations containing a total of 20 nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 17,716 MWe. This exceeds the total electricity generation capacity in NSW[31].

Six additional reactors are under construction and a further six scheduled for completion by 2021 (total 14,800 MWe capacity). As a result, Korean manufacturers have developed proprietary IP and are beginning to market reactors internationally (with a target of 80 reactors exported by 2030)[32]. Similarly another major NSW coal customer Taiwan has two new 1,350 MWe reactors due to come on line this year.

A carbon mitigation strategy that attempts to achieve a zero increase in CO2emissions worldwide by 2030 (while not constraining economic growth) would need to achieve a very much faster growth in renewables than is presently the case (or is achievable in practice).

 

Implicit in the EIA projected worldwide growth in coal and gas consumption is the assumption that many new thermal power stations will be built. Many existing thermal power stations worldwide will also need replacement in this time frame.

 

Worldwide, the only practical and available alternative in a 20 year time-frame may be a very much faster growth in nuclear energy. If reliable, proven designs are adopted, allowing approvals to be streamlined, nuclear stations could have similar lead times to thermal stations.

 

A relatively modest threefold increase in present nuclear generation worldwide would meet the entire projected world electricity growth to 2030 and together with projected growth in renewables, return World fossil fuel consumption for electricity generation to 2006 levels.

 

 

World Electricity Projections to 2030 Present and with 300% Nuclear

 

 

image006
Source: IEA ibid; and the author

 
 

 

Simply replacing conventional thermal stations with nuclear stations as they retire may obviate the need to use the marginal renewables such as wind and solar when they are uneconomic without subsidy.

The following graphic shows the relative scale of energy flows in Australia.
 

image033

 

The dominance of coal and uranium are immediately apparent, as is the very small contribution presently made by renewables. The total of the carbon in the coal, gas and oil represents the Australian contribution to worldwide CO2 emissions.

The domesticity consumed component of this is so small that the domestic achievement of 20% renewables would be overwhelmed by a fractional increase in coal exports, as a result of the growing world demand for coal-fired thermal electricity.

 

A cessation of Australian coal exports might make a greater contribution to reduced world CO2 release. This would result in an increase in the world coal price, followed by accelerated development of coal projects in other countries to meet the growing demand.

This may be marginally effective as a higher coal price could be expected to accelerate the adoption of nuclear power, particularly by major NSW coal customers[33]; all of which have a high and growing nuclear capacity. But such a policy would have a serious short to medium term impact on the Australian economy (particularly in NSW[34] and Qld). Correspondingly, a relatively small increase in the export of uranium oxide would achieve greater reduction worldwide carbon emissions than can be achieved by adopting renewables domestically.

 

 

 

 

 

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Travel

Israel

 

 

 

2023 Addendum

 

It's a decade since this visit to Israel in September 2014.

From July until just a month before we arrived, Israeli troops had been conducting an 'operation' against Hamas in the Gaza strip, in the course of which 469 Israeli soldiers lost their lives.  The country was still reeling. 

17,200 Garzan homes were totally destroyed and three times that number were seriously damaged.  An estimated 2,000 (who keeps count) civilians died in the destruction.  'Bibi' Netanyahu, who had ordered the Operation, declared it a victory.

This time it's on a grander scale: a 'War', and Bibi has vowed to wipe-out Hamas.

Pundits have been moved to speculate on the Hamas strategy, that was obviously premeditated. In addition to taking hostages, it involving sickening brutality against obvious innocents, with many of the worst images made and published by themselves. 

It seemed to be deliberate provocation, with a highly predictable outcome.

Martyrdom?  

Historically, Hamas have done Bibi no harm.  See: 'For years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it’s blown up in our faces' in the Israel Times.

Thinking about our visit, I've been moved to wonder how many of today's terrorists were children a decade ago?  How many saw their loved ones: buried alive; blown apart; maimed for life; then dismissed by Bibi as: 'collateral damage'? 

And how many of the children, now stumbling in the rubble, will, in their turn, become terrorists against the hated oppressor across the barrier?

Is Bibi's present purge a good strategy for assuring future harmony?

I commend my decade old analysis to you: A Brief Modern History and Is there a solution?

Comments: 
Since posting the above I've been sent the following article, implicating religious belief, with which I substantially agree, save for its disregarding the Jewish fundamentalists'/extremists' complicity; amplifying the present horrors: The Bright Line Between Good and Evil 

Another reader has provided a link to a perspective similar to my own by Australian 'Elder Statesman' John MenadueHamas, Gaza and the continuing Zionist project.  His Pearls and Irritations site provides a number of articles relating to the current Gaza situation. Worth a read.

The Economist has since reported and unusual spate of short-selling immediately preceding the attacks: Who made millions trading the October 7th attacks?  

Money-making by someone in the know? If so, it's beyond evil.

 

 

A Little Background

The land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea, known as Palestine, is one of the most fought over in human history.  Anthropologists believe that the first humans to leave Africa lived in and around this region and that all non-African humans are related to these common ancestors who lived perhaps 70,000 years ago.  At first glance this interest seems odd, because as bits of territory go it's nothing special.  These days it's mostly desert and semi-desert.  Somewhere back-o-Bourke might look similar, if a bit redder. 

Yet since humans have kept written records, Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, Ancient Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, early Muslims, Christian Crusaders, Ottomans (and other later Muslims), British and Zionists, have all fought to control this land.  This has sometimes been for strategic reasons alone but often partly for affairs of the heart, because this land is steeped in history and myth. 

Read more: Israel

Fiction, Recollections & News

The Atomic Bomb according to ChatGPT

 

Introduction:

The other day, my regular interlocutors at our local shopping centre regaled me with a new question: "What is AI?" And that turned into a discussion about ChatGPT.

I had to confess that I'd never used it. So, I thought I would 'kill two birds with one stone' and ask ChatGPT, for material for an article for my website.

Since watching the movie Oppenheimer, reviewed elsewhere on this website, I've found myself, from time-to-time, musing about the development of the atomic bomb and it's profound impact on the modern world. 

Nuclear energy has provided a backdrop to my entire life. The first "atomic bombs" were dropped on Japan the month before I was born. Thus, the potential of nuclear energy was first revealed in an horrendous demonstration of mankind's greatest power since the harnessing of fire.

Very soon the atomic reactors, that had been necessary to accumulate sufficient plutonium for the first bombs, were adapted to peaceful use.  Yet, they forever carried the stigma of over a hundred thousand of innocent lives lost, many of them young children, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The fear of world devastation followed, as the US and USSR faced-off with ever more powerful weapons of mass destruction.

The stigma and fear has been unfortunate, because, had we more enthusiastically embraced our new scientific knowledge and capabilities to harness this alternative to fire, the threat to the atmosphere now posed by an orgy of burning might have been mitigated.

Method:

So, for this article on the 'atomic bomb', I asked ChatGPT six questions about:

  1. The Manhattan Project; 
  2. Leo Szilard (the father of the nuclear chain reaction);
  3. Tube Alloys (the British bomb project);
  4. the Hanford site (plutonium production);
  5. uranium enrichment (diffusion and centrifugal); and
  6. the Soviet bomb project.

As ChatGPT takes around 20 seconds to write 1000 words and gives a remarkably different result each time, I asked it each question several times and chose selectively from the results.

This is what ChatGPT told me about 'the bomb':

Read more: The Atomic Bomb according to ChatGPT

Opinions and Philosophy

The Chimera of Clean Coal

The Chimera - also known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) or Carbon Sequestration

 

 


Carbon Sequestration Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Whenever the prospect of increased carbon consumption is debated someone is sure to hold out the imminent availability of Clean Coal Technology; always just a few years away. 

I have discussed this at length in the article Carbon Sequestration (Carbon Capture and Storage) on this website. 

In that detailed analysis I dismissed CCS as a realistic solution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions for the following reasons:

Read more: The Chimera of Clean Coal

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