Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Best practice in CO2 reduction: the winner is France!

I did this for a bit of fun: comparing the two largest economies in Europe with very different approaches to generating electricity. France was an early nuclear power, now leads the world in the technology and gets some 75% of its power from nuclear. Germany has nuclear but is phasing it out, to rely on renewables.

“F/G” = France divided by Germany. (And “T/K/y” = Tonnes per capita per year)
French Costs of electricity are one third those of Germany
French Carbon dioxide Emissions are one half those of Germany
One third the cost for twice the benefit is a factor of six times better for France v Germany approaches.

Why is Germany trying to wean itself off Nuclear?  Two reasons: The Greens and Fukushima.

The German Greens have always been against Nuclear, as they have in Australia, indeed pretty much everywhere (hence “Greens caused climate change”). The reasons for their opposition are, in my view, scaremongering. I’ll grant it’s an arguable issue, but the argument is very much, and increasingly so, on the  side of nuclear as leading climate scientists attest.

Fukushima was the immediate reason. Mad Mutti Merkel somehow got it into her head that Fukushima highlighted the danger of nuclear, whereas the opposite conclusion is more logical. Fukushima was designed before the days of computers; it was engineered on slide rules. And it was hit with a thousand-year tsunami.  Still, deaths as result of the accident = zero.  Modern reactors are far safer, cannot melt down and use spent fuel from older reactors as feedstock. Germany is unlikely to suffer an earthquake, let alone a tsunami.  So it makes no sense to ditch the nuclear they’ve got. Still, cheered on by the Greens, she began the decommissioning of the only carbon-free, safe and reliable energy in the world, pushed ahead with renewables and the result is skyrocketing electricity costs -- next year expected to jump another 14% -- and supply problems.

Australia is in the same boat, with increasing prices and unreliable supply.

This is not a “climate denier” post.  Absolutely not. It is to say that if we are really serious about climate change -- which we are assured is an  “existential crisis” -- then we have to have nuclear in the mix. It’s an existential crisis, after all!
Yet, in Australia, it’s virtually taboo to even discuss nuclear, and federal law prohibits it. We’re quite happy to export uranium to India, even as we don’t allow its use in Australia. Surely that’s the greatest hypocrisy. Or is it just that Indian lives don’t matter? It’s too dangerous for Australia, but India... fine!
The sooner Australia drops its de facto prohibition on discussing the issue, the sooner we can move on a realistic path to control our carbon emissions.  We have 40% of the world’s uranium. It’s not just hypocrisy, it’s insanity that we sell it to others, but deprive ourselves.
Two new technologies make it even more urgent: Bill Gates’ Terrapower is ready to go commercial.  It was only derailed by the Fukushima meltdown, and the attendant scares.  And in the UK they’re working on Small Modular Reactors.  Perfect for Australia with our widely distributed populations.

By the way, here in our suburb of DB, we get our electricity from the nearby Daya Nuclear Power station.  So our air-conditioning is 100% zero-carbon emissions. I’ve visited the Daya plant (with our local Classic Car Club) and it’s great.  Clean, neat, tidy. You’d be happy to have it in your backyard (we are), and surely less unsightly than Wind Farms.
Daya Bay nuclear plant.  We race our yacht in Daya bay.
It’s pretty, like a marina club, right?
[Much more at “Nuclear power in Australia”]