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View Diary: Whiny Frog or Boiling Frog - Why don't you care about energy? (406 comments)

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  •  i was opposed to nuclear power... (none)
    ...back in the 1980s, on the basis that the waste disposal issue hadn't been solved and there were still operational safety issues.

    Since that time, France has demonstrated success in recycling nuclear waste into new nuclear fuel to the extent possible with current technology (and further improvements are possible).  By now they have something like a 20-year track record in this area, with no accidents or problems.  

    Also since that time, a number of new reactor designs have been developed, which are intrinsically safe: in the event of a loss of coolant or other critical systems malfunction, the fission reaction shuts itself down: there is no need for complex safety systems, the reaction simply stops on its own.  

    So at this point I believe the significant issues have been solved, and there's nothing standing in the way of going full-ahead with nuclear construction.  

    As it turns out, nuclear is also the best foundation for renewables, aside from hydroelectric.  The intermittency of wind limits it to 20% of grid capacity, otherwise grid instability issues occur: think of water sloshing around in a bowl, by analogy for power sloshing around the grid depending on local wind strengths at any given moment.  Solar is coming along nicely and should be possible to handle another 30% of grid capacity during daytime hours in good sun areas.  Conservation can produce the equivalent of a 30% increase in capacity.  

    With all that, there is still a serious need for "firm and dispatchable power" from sources whose output can be controlled moment-to-moment.   Think of a hydro dam where you can vary the amount of water going through the turbines as needed.  Locations with good hydro can use that, but locations without, need something else.  

    That's where nuclear comes in.  And we'll need a lot of it to make ends meet.  So let's get building.  

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