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Engineers Australia Electrical College Newcastle Branch Nuclear energy – Australia’s opportunity? Martin H Thomas AM FTSE HonFIEAust FAIE Member UMPNER.

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Presentation on theme: "Engineers Australia Electrical College Newcastle Branch Nuclear energy – Australia’s opportunity? Martin H Thomas AM FTSE HonFIEAust FAIE Member UMPNER."— Presentation transcript:

1 Engineers Australia Electrical College Newcastle Branch Nuclear energy – Australia’s opportunity? Martin H Thomas AM FTSE HonFIEAust FAIE Member UMPNER Taskforce 23 February 2012

2 The big picture The world nuclear power industry – some facts In February 2012 there were: –434 reactors operating in... –30 countries generating nearly 14% –30 countries generating nearly 14% of world’s electricity totalling... –370 GW installed (over 8 times Australia’s 45 GW) with... –61 reactors under construction (another 61 GW) and... –160 reactors planned (177 GW ) and.. –160 reactors planned (177 GW more) and.. –335 reactors proposed(another 380 GW) –335 reactors proposed (another 380 GW) Despite Fukushima - the nuclear renaissance continues! Source: World Nuclear Association (WNA) website

3 Do we live in a risk free world? This was just one short week last August!

4 Boat Sinks in Moscow, Killing Nine Cheers, then screams as plane breaks up Chinese bullet train crashed into another high- speed train that had stalled after being struck by lightning – 39 dead, 191 injured Anders Breivik massacres 77 World wide nuclear industry deaths over 2,500 weeks? Three Mile Island (1979) – 0 Chernobyl (1986) - 50 Fukushima (2011) - 0

5 And others? Seven die in Indian train accident Russian Hydroelectric Dam Disaster 76 Dead Pacific Highway crash claims two more lives

6 Meantime - nuclear power still gaining public support in UK Support for nuclear power in Britain has risen over past year, despite Fukushima disaster. Independent March poll shows UK nuclear acceptance continuing decade-long rise. 41% believe benefits of nuclear outweigh risks, compared with 38% in 2010 and 32% in Those who feel risks are greater than benefits dropped to 28% from 36% in 2010 and 41% in Will the same trend arise in Australia? I think so.

7 The Australian picture Uranium part of Australia's mining heritage. Three mines – Ranger (NT), Beverley (SA) and Olympic Dam (SA) - more planned. Australia's uranium reserves - world's largest at 23%. In 2009 Australia exported over 9,700 tonnes (over A$ 1.1 billion). Australia third largest producer after Kazakhstan (~18kta) and Canada (~10kta) But –But – Australia is the only G20 country not using nuclear power! With carbon constraints and rising electricity costs inevitable, nuclear power is an economic imperative – if policy to reduce CO2 by 80% by 2050 has any meaning!

8 Uranium deposits are widespread

9 The Nuclear Fuel Cycle

10 Ranger uranium mine

11 U 3 O 8 (Yellowcake) export

12 Fuel pellet

13 Equivalents 1 uranium fuel pellet …… = 1 similar spent fuel pellet = 3 barrels of oil = 1 tonne of coal = 3 tonnes CO 2 = 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas

14 More interesting equivalents 1 golf ball of uranium (or thorium) could provide a lifetime’s energy use for a typical American or Australian, including all electricity, transport and food production. It would yield same quantity of spent fuel with no other emissions 3,200 tonnes of coal (about a 16m cube) will do the same, but with over 11,000 tonnes of CO2 and much toxic ash. Think about it – then ask why our leaders refuse to!

15 Typical nuclear power station

16 Evolution of nuclear power plant designs - current technologies Generation I – 1950s to 60s - Early prototypes (eg UK Magnox) – now nearly all decommissionedGeneration I – 1950s to 60s - Early prototypes (eg UK Magnox) – now nearly all decommissioned Generation II – Mid 1960s – Commercial power reactors (eg LWR, PWR (eg Fukushima), BWR, CANDU, RBMK (eg Chernobyl) – many installed but designs now supersededGeneration II – Mid 1960s – Commercial power reactors (eg LWR, PWR (eg Fukushima), BWR, CANDU, RBMK (eg Chernobyl) – many installed but designs now superseded Generation III – Mid 1990s – Advanced light water reactors (LWRs) (eg ABWR, System 80+, AP-600 and AP-1000, EPR) – high safety - current generation of new reactors worldwideGeneration III – Mid 1990s – Advanced light water reactors (LWRs) (eg ABWR, System 80+, AP-600 and AP-1000, EPR) – high safety - current generation of new reactors worldwide

17 Evolution of nuclear power plant designs - future technologies Generation III onwards – Advanced light water reactors (LWRs) (eg ABWR, System 80+, AP-600 and AP-1000, EPR) – being installed now for generation this decadeGeneration III onwards – Advanced light water reactors (LWRs) (eg ABWR, System 80+, AP-600 and AP-1000, EPR) – being installed now for generation this decade Generation IV – 2020 at earliest – Very advanced ‘fast neutron’ technologies - highly economical (60 times energy from enriched uranium – minimal waste (much is ‘burnt’) – inherently safe (shut down on fault) – proliferation resistant – likely circa (the golf ball!)Generation IV – 2020 at earliest – Very advanced ‘fast neutron’ technologies - highly economical (60 times energy from enriched uranium – minimal waste (much is ‘burnt’) – inherently safe (shut down on fault) – proliferation resistant – likely circa (the golf ball!) Generation IV Forum – Australia not a member Fusion reactors – say 2050? – Physics complex, deuterium fuel, theoretically possible, no radiation and no wastes – circa Fusion reactors – say 2050? – Physics complex, deuterium fuel, theoretically possible, no radiation and no wastes – circa Cadarache ITER demonstration project in France. Australia not involved

18 Electricity generation to 2050 Australian electricity demand set to double before 2050Australian electricity demand set to double before 2050 –Around 100 GW generating capacity needed (currently 45 GW ) –Around 100 GW new generating capacity needed (currently 45 GW ) –Portfolio of technologies needed for 2050 will include clean coal, CCS, wind, solar and nuclear power. –Essential mix to meet energy security and heroic CO2 reduction targets (80% reduction from 2000 levels!) without excessive pollution permits Nuclear power - proven least cost option for many countriesNuclear power - proven least cost option for many countries –Includes lifetime waste disposal and decommissioning Costs vary - with Australia’s low cost coal without carbon taxCosts vary - nuclear not yet competitive with Australia’s low cost coal without carbon tax –Still 20-50% more costly – with carbon tax imminent (or is it?) –Still 20-50% more costly – situation changing with carbon tax imminent (or is it?)

19 Generation cost comparisons (2006)

20 Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation

21 Power plant siting criteria Land – comparable coal PS without chimneys, mine or ash dam.Land – comparable coal PS without chimneys, mine or ash dam. Typical 1000MWe NPS generates ~ 1,000W/m 2, cf conc solar power ~ 15W/m 2, offshore wind ~ 3W/m 2. Water – 20% more CW due lower efficiency – once-through sea/estuary water, evap cooling towers or radiator coolingWater – 20% more CW due lower efficiency – once-through sea/estuary water, evap cooling towers or radiator cooling Air pollution – >10 times less than coal – no CO 2Air pollution – >10 times less than coal – no CO 2 Solid waste – dramatically below coal - radioactivity and toxics containedSolid waste – dramatically below coal - radioactivity and toxics contained Access – same as coal for generation plantAccess – same as coal for generation plant Safety – better than any other major generation technologySafety – better than any other major generation technology Location – anywhere near grid – unlike coalLocation – anywhere near grid – unlike coal

22 Reprocessing spent fuel and high-level waste (HLW) disposal Medium term HLW disposal in cooling ponds - heat and radioactivity decaysMedium term HLW disposal in cooling ponds - heat and radioactivity decays Reprocessing HLW to retrieve uranium and plutonium - highly complex –Reprocessing HLW to retrieve uranium and plutonium - highly complex – unattractive for Australia Long term deep HLW disposal - mature long before Australian need – earliest 2050Long term deep HLW disposal - mature long before Australian need – earliest 2050 Much of Australia ideal for long term deep (>500m) geological HLW disposalMuch of Australia ideal for long term deep (>500m) geological HLW disposal HLW volumes smallHLW volumes small – around one ensuite bathroom per 1000MW reactor year if fuel reprocessed – cf 7 million tonnes of CO2 for coal

23 Implementing deep HLW disposal

24 Relevance of background radiation (International Commission on Radiological Protection (IRCP) limit is 1 millisieverts pa above natural background) The contribution from nuclear power is minute!

25 Nuclear power plant safety Radiation dose return Sydney-London flight greater than living near nuclear power plant for 60 years – but still minimal. Pilots and flight crew don’t die of radiation!Radiation dose return Sydney-London flight greater than living near nuclear power plant for 60 years – but still minimal. Pilots and flight crew don’t die of radiation! Modern reactors, like modern cars, have dramatically improved safety and operator training post TMI (1979) and inherently unsafe Chernobyl (1986) – 33 years and 26 years ago!Modern reactors, like modern cars, have dramatically improved safety and operator training post TMI (1979) and inherently unsafe Chernobyl (1986) – 33 years and 26 years ago! Enormous improvements made and in prospect - new Gen III+ reactors are ‘inherently safe’.Enormous improvements made and in prospect - new Gen III+ reactors are ‘inherently safe’.

26 In summary - the bad news Technology costly - ($M3-5/MWe) cf coal and gas Technology costly - ($M3-5/MWe) cf coal and gas Political block - Australia refuses to consider nuclear despite UMPNER report and fact that all other G20 nations use nuclear power safely Political block - Australia refuses to consider nuclear despite UMPNER report and fact that all other G20 nations use nuclear power safely Regulatory environment - Still inadequate Regulatory environment - Still inadequate Australian engineers - Lack of qualified numbers Australian engineers - Lack of qualified numbers Water – Significant need (but can use dry cooling) Water – Significant need (but can use dry cooling) Public concerns - Australians still concerned about: Public concerns - Australians still concerned about: Waste disposal Waste disposal Nuclear weapons proliferation, and Nuclear weapons proliferation, and NIMBY siting issues NIMBY siting issues

27 In summary - the good news Uranium - Vast Australian resources (~40% world’s low cost supplies) – politics good for exports! Uranium - Vast Australian resources (~40% world’s low cost supplies) – politics good for exports! Technologies - Mining, enrichment, reactors, spent fuel management and permanent disposal proven Technologies - Mining, enrichment, reactors, spent fuel management and permanent disposal proven Base load generation - Ideal - capacity factors typically >90%, unlike wind (30-40%) and solar PV (15-20%) Base load generation - Ideal - capacity factors typically >90%, unlike wind (30-40%) and solar PV (15-20%) Technology proven – 440 reactors safely generate ~14% of world supply - steam plant conventional Technology proven – 440 reactors safely generate ~14% of world supply - steam plant conventional Minimal emissions – Australia could achieve CO2 targets Minimal emissions – Australia could achieve CO2 targets Generation III and III+ reactors inherently safe Generation III and III+ reactors inherently safe Generation IV reactors inherently safe ~ with 60 times more energy recovery from uranium fuel Generation IV reactors inherently safe ~ with 60 times more energy recovery from uranium fuel RD&D - Worldwide RD&D promises further gains, eg Gen IV & fusion RD&D - Worldwide RD&D promises further gains, eg Gen IV & fusion Engineering capability – Australia strong, but still to grasp nettle Engineering capability – Australia strong, but still to grasp nettle Debate? - Warming up – but slowly Debate? - Warming up – but slowly

28 But - infrastructure is on the cliff edge! Australia is facing a potential monumental infrastructure disaster as the politicians dither with long-term carbon questions and undertake speculative research on coal technologies. “Unless someone starts actually making hard decisions now, fasten your safety belts for a very large rise in power prices in the eastern states, which will flow into inflation and interest rates.” But - infrastructure is on the cliff edge! “Australia is facing a potential monumental infrastructure disaster as the politicians dither with long-term carbon questions and undertake speculative research on coal technologies. “Unless someone starts actually making hard decisions now, fasten your safety belts for a very large rise in power prices in the eastern states, which will flow into inflation and interest rates.” COMMENTARY R OBERT G OTTLIEBSEN 15 Jul 2009

29 G8 leaders tighten carbon targets Leaders of the G8 have agreed to a goal of achieving at least a 50% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with developed countries achieving an 80% reduction by then. Australia too has committed to 80% reduction by 2050!

30 So what choices would you make?


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