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Flip-side of nuclear-free power

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Power

The Fukushima crisis is eroding years of Japanese efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as power plants running on oil and natural gas fill the electricity gap left by now-shuttered nuclear reactors. Before last year's crisis, Japan had planned to meet its carbon emissions reduction targets on the assumption that it would rely on nuclear power, a low-emissions source of energy. But now its unclear to what extent nuclear energy will even be part of the electricity mix.

Japan will be free of atomic power for the first time since 1966 on Saturday, when the last of its 50 usable reactors is switched off for regular inspections. The central government would like to restart them at some point, but it is running into opposition.

The ministry of environment projects that Japan will produce about 15% more green house gas emissions this fiscal year than it did in 1990, the baseline year for measuring progress in reducing emissions.


The above is the text of the article published in the New Indian Express on 5th May, under the caption "Japans last N-plant to shut today", credited to AP, Tokyo.

Meanwhile, OL3 in Finland, seems to carry on undaunted by the Fukushima disaster - check this

Muralidhar Rao

Comments

murali772's picture

Any better off with thermal power?

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Air and water pollution from the contentious 600 MW thermal power plant in Udupi's Yellur village has not only corroded infrastructure and caused leaf burn in crops, it has also had a devastating impact on human health, finds a report of an expert team.

For the full report in The Hindu, click here

Apart from the above, is going to be the destruction of thousands of trees along a strip across the verdant Western ghats to accommodate the 400 KV evacuation line, presently awaiting environmental clearance.

Muralidhar Rao
sanjayv's picture

Power generation is always a impactful activity

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Power generation, thermal or nuclear (which is also effectively thermal but using nuclear energy) is a high impact activity.  Unfortunately, our economy and lifestyles are built around power consumption.  Modern life would grind to a halt without power.

You have to take the right measures in power plants to control emissions, handle waste and factor that cost into retail power costs.  No way around it.  Unfortunately, all our policies and systems are just blundering around.

murali772's picture

independence of the regulator holds the key

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With an acute peak-hour power deficit of 13 per cent and 40 per cent of its population still without electricity, India does need nuclear power. It has to be safe power and, as the Koodankulam impasse shows, the people’s genuine concerns about safety cannot be ignored. It is the government’s responsibility to instil nuclear literacy, address legitimate fears and counter misinformation. The government also needs to set up an independent Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India in place of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board that reports to the Atomic Energy Commission. This would make clearances more credible and boost public confidence.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here.

Indeed, quite as stated, the independence of the regulator holds the key.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

government institutes IAEA's safety programme

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The safety review of units 3 and 4 of the atomic power station at Rawatbhatta in Rajasthan by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has ended with the inspection team identifying certain deficiencies in the operations of the units. - - - The plant management, he said, has expressed its determination to address all the areas identified for improvements and requested that the IAEA schedule a follow up mission in about 15 months.

The team also identified several “good practices’’ of the plant and they would be shared by IAEA with the global nuclear industry for their benefit in due course. Examples of good practice included the safety culture of the plant, which cultivated a constructive work environment and a sense of accountability among the power plant personnel and gave the staff opportunity to expand skills and training. In addition, the plant’s public awareness programme provided educational opportunities to the local community about nuclear and radiation safety; the plant had a management of training and authorisation system for effective management of training activities and the plant used testing facilities and mock ups to improve the quality of maintenance work and reduce radiation dose.

- - -This is the first ever safety review of an Indian nuclear power plant under IAEA’s ‘Operational Safety Review Team [OSART]’ programme. The in-depth review, which began on October 29, covered the areas of management, organisation and administration, training, operations, maintenance, technical support, operating experience, radiation protection, chemistry, emergency planning and preparedness, and severe accident management.

The review was conducted at the request of the Central Government. The team comprised of experts from Canada, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden, apart from the IAEA itself.

The OSART programme was launched in 1982 and teams of international experts have already conducted 170 such reviews before coming to India and Rawatbhata.

For the full report in The Hindu, click here.

Like stated in the post dt 12th July (above), it is not going to be easy for India to do without nuclear power. Perhaps, with such stringent safeguards in place, it should become more and more acceptable. The government needs to be complimented for instituting the programme.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

coal - more dangerous

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Nuclear technologies come with significant ‘fat-tail’ risk (low probability of disasters, but very high impact if and when they occur) and can wreak havoc on all forms of life for multiple generations should things go wrong. That said, the fear and skepticism over nuclear fuel and associated technology and the resultant amount of attention and discussion on it often divert attention from what is arguably the most dangerous fuel of them all - Coal! That people die of unsafe work conditions while mining coal with crude pickaxes in states like Jharkhand is well documented. What is relatively less publicized, however, is the extent of human health damages due to operating coal power plants in the country.

- - - -It is also clear that much of this increase in electricity supply will have to be fuelled by coal due to energy security and cost considerations. Internalizing the true costs of coal usage (i.e. its contribution to global warming as well as to health damages) will increase the cost of energy and, in turn, slow down economic growth. The policymaker’s challenge in this situation, therefore, is determining the acceptable level of damages to keep the economic growth engine running and also figuring out how to compensate the people affected by this growth.


For the full report in India Together, click here.

Any development will necessarily entail some amount of environmental damage. How to keep it to the minimum is the challenge.

Muralidhar Rao
blrpraj's picture

every option has a flipside - which one has the least?

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I guess every energy option has a flip side. Nuclear power has flip sides in addition to what we saw at Fukushima; what to do with the nuclear waste?  Best example of Nuclear Waste problems is the problems being seen at the Hanford Nuclear reactor - http://rt.com/usa/washington-radiation-leak-nuclear-635/

 

We have seen the flipsides in fossil fuel (Oil/Coal etc) based power generation.

I guess even Solar power will have a few flip sides like...what goes into the production of SOLAR panels and how environmentally destructive that is. Also, how the panels are displosed off once they reach the end of their life. Another thing to consider is the massive environmental footprint involved in setting up the batteries that go hand in hand along with SOLR panels to store power for usage when the sun is not up. But still; SOLAR power seems to have the least environmental damage as there is very minimum "operational" environmental destruction as compared to fossil fuel based or nuclear based power. 

 

murali772's picture

didn't follow

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"operational" environmental destruction as compared to fossil fuel based or nuclear based power.

didn't follow - what is this in case of nuclear power?

Muralidhar Rao
blrpraj's picture

re: didn't follow

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"operational" environmental destruction as compared to fossil fuel based or nuclear based power.

didn't follow - what is this in case of nuclear power?

My answer :

I am no expert in energy generation field; but what i was referring to is the Nuclear waste generated in the course of Nuclear Power generation and the associated consequences. I would like to draw your attention to this -

http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Magazines/Bulletin/Bull202/20205083242.pdf

I would like to draw your attention to these sentences from the above article -

1) "It is true that non-nuclear wastes andpollutants affect man and his environment and some may have genetic effects but in the case of radioactive wastes, the damage would be more potential and not easily reparable  [page 40]

2) "the actmides in thespent elements will remain dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years" [page 37]

The other article is 

http://www.huffingtonpost...

But, it appears that Nuclear power generation does seem to have a lower environmental impact though judging by what is written in the IAEA article (but again, i am not an expert and don't know). Hopefully, my response clarifies what i was trying to say by "operational" environmental impact of Nuclear Power. 

murali772's picture

major plus factor

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Nuclear power generation does seem to have a lower environmental impact

This in fact is what is generally considered the biggest plus factor in favour of nuclear energy. If not for this, it wouldn't be in the reckoning even considering the serious -ve aspects

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Britain going nuclear anew

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Britain on Monday paved the way for its first nuclear plant in a generation, to be built by state-owned foreign firms, underlining the government's controversial commitment to atomic power. The coalition government signed a £16-billion ($26-billion, 18.9-billion-euro) deal with French energy giant EDF to build two reactors at Hinkley Point C, southwestern England, to meet Britain's future energy needs. Also involved in the contract are French group Areva — the world's leading nuclear power company — and Chinese nuclear firms CGN and CNNC.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the deal, subject to European Union approval, was necessary as Britain faced a "looming energy crisis" in the next decade owing to years of under-investment. Britain has placed nuclear power at the heart of its low-carbon energy policy, in stark contrast to Europe's biggest economy Germany, which vowed to phase it out in the wake of Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster.


For the full report in the ToI, click here.

Well, food for thought for us too.

Muralidhar Rao

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