Monday, January 7, 2008

Why Nuclear shouldn't be a part of the energy solution

If you read nothing else today, read this long and thorough article on the The Oil Drum that discusses lifecycle energy costs of nuclear fuels and disposal, the idea of Peak Uranium (quite possibly already passed). Based on the comments, there is some dispute on the authors figures about the costs calculations used for disposal and the amount of economically viable Uranium available. I haven't taken the time to read the literature on this and give you a synopsis. I'd be curious to see the Hubbert's curve on fuel grade uranium production for the last 67 years.

The author is writing in response to what he believes is a move by the UK government to authorize and invest in new nuclear reactors and is trying to debunk the idea as foolish on the grounds of net-energy gains through the nuclear fuel life-cycle as well as the predicted supplies of fuels for nuclear reactors. Of particular interest to me was the detail on disposal and the continuing energy costs of keeping the used fuel 'safe'. It isn't as simple as sealing it in a vault under a mountain according to his description.

He then springboards from here into discussing an energy solution. Essentially, it is to become more efficient and waste less, change the way energy is used, and spend money on improving the performance of non-extractionary energy generation including decentralization of generation and demand management. (aka: Smart grid)