On Nuclear Power

In opinion on November 3, 2005 by karan

This is kinda late for the time when the whole debate was raging in Australia, and it’s probably a non-issue for the rest of the world, but I just wanted to jot down some of my ideas on Nuclear Power.

Australia needs to start using it.

Probably a kind of bold, contentious and ill-informed viewpoint. And running contrary to many of my previously stated principles that generally favour environmentalism. This was also a topic that got Daniel‘s goat when we were in Japan. But vaguely, my reasons go like this:

  • Australia has 40% of the world’s uranium. Or some such absurdly disproportionately large number. Given that we’re only committed to limited exploitation and all that, we’re really not participating in one of the growing resource trades. Over and above this, given that we have so much, why should we not be taking advantages of one of our major local resources?
  • Nuclear power sure beats coal power. Coal mining isn’t going to be any cleaner than uranium mining, and uranium does not contribute to global warming through the direct output of greenhouse gases. Australia has enough coal to last us lifetimes, but the use of this 18th century power source is definitely a relic. Why use coal when an alternative that can have a huge direct impact on climate change is available. Nuclear power is by far more energy efficient, I believe.
  • Nuclear power is relatively safe, contrary to expectations. Chernobyl especially will always hang a big black cloud over the use of nuclear power, but one has to admit the number of other reactors that have been running for years without significant fault – millions of hours of nuclear power production, billions upon billions of watt-hours, all without a hiccup. Why must one incident shade all those that come after?
  • Nuclear waste is manageable. People simply don’t want to be associated with it, but again, compared to the direct, but accepted, effects of coal, uranium waste is treated with a lot more respect and handled with extreme caution. I wonder why no-one chooses to bury it in a desert – not like it’ll affect people. Drill down some hundreds of meters, put in ground, cover with sand. The expanse of the deserts in Australia is sufficient to cover this – the waste is not exactly going to harm living things.
  • It’s the best way to step forward in terms of large scale energy generation. At the moment, there is no real viable alternative to the economy of scale that coal affords other than nuclear. Solar and other renewable forms of generation simply don’t give the scale to power a city such as Melbourne or Sydney. In years to come, yes, they will become more viable – solar especially as materials and efficiency of power conversion increases. But they will operate on a micro scale, not a macro scale, and when they do operate on a macro scale it won’t be for years yet. Industrial applications may also be many more years off yet. Viable shorter term options for rising power demand? More coal, or nuclear.

I’m all for environmental approaches and use of renewable sources – but in pragmatic terms, in the medium (10 ~ 20 year) term, Nuclear is the way forward in my opinion.

Am I wrong? Why?


5 Responses to “On Nuclear Power”

  1. hrmm u really like to write long posts about imporant adult stuff here…..

  2. hahah yeah this is my opinions blog where I write about all the stuff i’m thinking but is probably boring-as for my normal blog.

  3. Nothing wrong with that, I’d do it more often if I didn’t sound like a pompous opinionated arse when I did it. :D

  4. dude, we’re all pompous opinionated arses, why not run with it?

    everything has a good side and a bad, and the whole 100,000 years of radioactive decay thing is definitely a BAD thing.

  5. yes but it’s manageable; we can do something about it. That’s far more than we can say about all the pollution belching into the atmosphere.

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