*Releasing an amount too low to be a serious risk as radioactivity decays away with time, and the most active isotopes are long gone.

Side note: "the USSR built a shit reactor so nuclear power is bad" is the same bad logic as "the USSR's N1 exploded so let's never go to space" https://twitter.com/europeangreens/status/1254295909359333376
I mean with renewables (or most forms of generation connected through an inverter rather than through a spinning synchronous turbine) you not only have output that can vary wildly hour to hour, but you also get a grid-management nightmare to boot. https://twitter.com/an_socialist/status/1254407872072626177
Quote me as saying that when France is out here with close to the cleanest power Europe with mostly nuclear power and some hydropower, I cast a skeptical eye at variable renewables, especially on the argument that they are "cheaper"
Hinkley Point C gets brought up a lot for the "it's too expensive!" argument, but that's because the financing is terrible.

*Two thirds* of the cost of the plant's power is interest payments to private investors. Start there.
And the thing about building reactors is this: they're complete in and of themselves. You get reliable generation, grid stabilisation through rotational inertia, at a low cost, with zero CO2 emissions.

Renewables give you the last one and *maybe* a low cost, but with caveats.
A number of financing models for renewables fall down flat when you take the proposal to build far more than we need (overbuild) as a given. Investors want returns - so, that means if we're producing too much power?

We have to *pay them* to turn their generation off.
This is where "negative energy prices" in Germany come from.

That's for big industrial customers. Paying them €30/MWh to use surplus power.

Where does that come from? Ordinary ratepayers - you and I.

Germany charges ~€0.31/kWh. France? ~€0.18/kWh

What this all adds up to is renewables are a great way to throw cash at already wealthy landowners.

A third of all land in Britain? Still owned by literal aristocrats. More than half is in the hands of ~1% of the population.
I took the liberty of making a map that demonstrates how large the tracts of land that are required for different forms of generation (data from former DECC).

The little green square is Hinkley Point C. The red square is solar farms. The blue square is wind farms.
And while it's true that wind turbines are spread apart and the impact is considerably less than solar farms (which plaster the land densely with panels and can severely interfere with runoff and soil stability - see image).

You still need a hell of a lot of land to build them.
And then there's the access roads, the transmission infrastructure - and the indirect costs like backup generation capacity ("firming" - which usually means gas, a fossil fuel) and the costs of keeping the grid stable.

It's a lot of land, a lot of effort, and a lot of work.
And what do you get for that?

A grid that's less stable, costs more to run, still requires fossil fuels during calm nights (or winter anticyclones where there's short days and little wind - which can last weeks), needs huge areas of land.... and has to be rebuilt every 20 years
And all that has just solved electricity demand, industrial heat, process heat, and domestic heating and hot water isn't even included in the scope of all that.

A third of the way there. At best.


The reason I'm so heavily in favour of nuclear energy - and why I think a lot of people of my generation are really starting to rediscover nuclear as an option - is it offers a complete solution.

And not just for electricity either.
Cogeneration with small modular reactors (SMRs) in every major town and city can power district heating systems, which provide heating and hot water to homes and businesses using the waste heat from generation.
High-temperature reactors (HTRs) and very-high-temperature reactors (VHTRs) offer ways to power chemical and industrial processes directly - clean hydrogen via the sulfur-iodine process, carbon-neutral synthetic fuels for aviation, and countless more processes.
Does radiation need to be respected? Yes. Only a fool is blasé about the damage ionizing radiation can do.

But everything we do has risks that must be respected and understood.

We cannot allow primal fear to hold us back from saving ourselves and saving the world.
We as a whole need to rediscover nuclear power as an option, because it's a damn good one. Fossil fuels tried to kill it off but it's still hanging on. And whether you think it's not great, or not terrible?

Take another look.

Split atoms, save the world.
You can follow @LindsayPB.
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