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I ran into “Roadmaps towards sustainable energy futures”-project. It is a german funded project which has created a set of different scenarios for IAM simulations. They describe themselves:

“The Roadmaps towards Sustainable Energy futures (RoSE) project aims to provide a robust picture on energy sector transformation scenarios for reaching ambitious climate targets. A broad and systematic exploration of decarbonization scenarios for the energy system is indispensable for better understanding the prospects of achieving long-tern climate protection targets. RoSE is assessing the feasibility and costs of climate mitigation goals across different models, different policy regimes, and different reference assumptions relating to future population growth, economic development and fossil fuel availability, in order to provide vital insights into the overarching policy question: What are robust roadmaps for achieving a sustainable global energy future?”

Now I am not really a big fun of these modelling games since one tends to get out whatever one puts in and I have had a feeling that not all modellers model carefully enough. See my earlier post on this… However, ROSE-project has a database for the modelling results and let me just show what the 450ppm medium growth, medium population growth, and medium convergence scenarios ROSE211 give for the primary energy supply. I show bioenergy, non-bio renewables, and nuclear.

RoseBiomass450

Insane amounts of bioenergy in all except IPAC

RoseNonBioRE450

non-bio RE grows a lot. REMIND model extreme is this.

RoseNuclear450

Wow! Colossal increase in nuclear generation from todays abut 10EJ/year. In REMIND reductions in the 2nd half of the century…for silly reasons.

See how two of the models actually see about 20-fold increase in nuclear generation. In those model scenarios capacity growth in the 2nd half of the century seems to be more than 100 GW/year (probably unrealistic). If I understood correctly REMIND model is a german model and even that sees dramatic increase in nuclear power until about 2060 after which it declines. They got this result by forcing it down by declaring world runs out of uranium at this time. This is an assumption other presumably considered silly, but which does have the benefit of creating a safe-space for german IAM modellers. I find it curious to observe the disconnect between the modelling results and how they are communicated in public.

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I usually write this blog in finnish, but since these thoughts originated from the comments to a recent post in Carbon Commentary this one will be in english. (See especially the comments by J. M. Korhonen and Dominic Hofstetter.) I want to understand some general issues regarding attractiveness of electricity storage and also how storage schemes are likely to differ between intermittent power sources and baseload power sources.

Since storage would pay for itself from the spread of electricity prices at different times, as a first step, I wanted to know how much do the prices actually vary. I checked this for the Swedish market and show the result in the figure. In Sweden the average range for daily variation in price is about 18 euros/MWh. Data implies that the price varies from about 0.75 times the daily mean price (typically) at night to about 1.25 times the mean price during peak demand.

Swedish spot prices (2012)

Swedish spot prices (2012)

So each stored kWh should make a profit from this spread and cannot therefore cost more than this. So it would seem that for large scale electricity storage to be interesting, the cost should certainly be less than about 10 euros/MWh. Unfortunately storing electricity is costly.
Over the lifetime the prices per kilowatt hour can vary from hundreds of dollars to thousands. If we optimistically assume a cost of 100 euros/kWh, to get the cost for a single cycle to the 10 euros/MWh range implies around 10000 cycles. If there is one cycle per day, this implies a lifetime of around 30 years. For battery systems both the cost assumption as well as the lifetime assumption are quite unrealistic. Pumped hydro is somewhat more realistic (although it has its share of problems…see here), but it is geologically limited resource and implies flooding large areas of land.

What kind of efficiency should we expect from our storage system? Let us say we have an efficiency E so that to get 1 kWh of stored electricity for sale, we need to spend 1/E kilowatt hours during storage and lose “minimum price/E” worth of sales. Selling the stored electricity will gain us (at best) “maximum price” and in order for the process to make sense efficiency must be much better than about “minimum price/maximum price”. With Swedish figures anything that has a roundtrip efficiency less than around 60% makes no sense. Naturally, less efficient the system is less it should cost so that it can still make a profit within that 18 euros/MWh range.

Increasing amount of wind power in the grid will increase price volatility. Why this would be desirable is unclear. Typically increased uncertainty is a thing to avoid since it increases the likelihood of proverbial shit reaching all the way up to the proverbial fan. Here it would seem that we first pay someone subsidies for extra volatility and then someone else to get rid of it. Maybe there is beauty in here, but it does seem well hidden. In any case increased volatility can make some storage schemes more viable, but who would build such storage? Currently wind power producers are guaranteed a market AND the price so they do not have an incentive to move their production to some other time periods using storage. For storage the system should be changed so that wind power producers do not get guaranteed prices and have to find actual customers for their product. However, even then the volatility increases to make (theoretical) large scale storage viable would have to be very dramatic and storage schemes would still have to compete with generators burning stored energy contained in fossil fuels.

How would a storage scheme coupled to say wind power compare with a scheme coupled to a baseload power plant? Even if the size of the storage would be the same, storage for wind power would have to live with much larger swings in power levels. A 1 GWe baseload power plant could store night time production at a rate from zero 0 to 1 GWe. If same amount of electricity is produced with wind power storage would be fed with anything between zero and 3 GWe. This would add to the costs. Similar conclusions apply to the rate at which the storage is discharged. If it has to cope with baseload plant dropping off grid, output of 1 GWe is enough. If it has to compensate for swings in wind power production, much more might be required. (Also, it might not be a good idea to put large mass of water moving upwards and then suddenly stop. Reliable pump power seems more fit for this purpose, but someone with required engineering skills can correct me if I am wrong.)

Since the output of a baseload power plant is also predictable, it seems clear that anyone who has storage to spare will find it easier to make a profit by coupling this storage to a baseload power plant. Finally, it should be noted that with wind power storage for about 12 hours is not enough to create a wholly renewable system. Not even close. With such a short time storage we would still need reliable (fossil fuel based most likely) power plants with capacity that is enough to cover all electricity consumption. On the other hand, 12 hours of storage coupled to a baseload power plants would go some way towards removing the need for peaking power plants.

All of the above is of course purely theoretical. I do not see any reason to believe that the cost for electricity storage would become so low as to make it economically viable in anything but fringe applications. Perhaps more viable route is to use night time production to produce heat and fuels that would reduce emissions outside the electricity sector?

Updated on 19.3.2013:  Anders Örbom raised an issue in Twitter as to how representative Sweden is due to price levelling effects of their hydro power. I hand’t thought of that and I used swedish data mainly since that I had readily available. From the link in the text one can also get the spot price in Germany. It turns out that in Germany the daily variation is stronger and amounts to about 39 euros/MWh on average. So there the storage can cost more than in Sweden and still be interesting. Nevertherless, to get the price low enough is still a huge challenge even in Germany.

Some time ago in Brave New Climate Peter Lang wrote an interesting post on the CO2 abatement costs in Australia. He found that nuclear power is not the cheapest abatement method under Australian circumstances. His post was followed by interesting discussion and several wondered that can one arrive at sufficiently decarbonized electricity supply by always choosing the lowest cost alternative, should we not only include options that actually get all the emissions reductions we need, and what is the proper way to account for and discount costs. Since I have wanted to understand cost calculations better for quite some time, I decided to use this problem as one of my own exercises. For background you might want to read my earlier postings on related things (here and here, or in finnish here and here). Here I attempt to sketch system wide cost and CO2 abatement consequences of wind and nuclear based options. (In case you want to play and have access to Matlab, you can download some poorly documented macros I used.)

Throughout I will use the discount rate of 7.5%, a payback period of 20 years for wind power, 50 years for hydro and nuclear (this is longer than usual, but assumption is not hugely important for my needs), and 40 years for natural gas and coal. I won’t bother to list all the input parameters here, but most of them I have picked up from the typical market prices for different fuels as well as from the National Renewable energy laboratory. As a calibration I find following levelized costs of energy:

Source Capacity factor LCOE ($/kWh)
Coal 0.85 0.066
Gas 0.85 0.071
Wind 0.29 0.102
Hydro 0.5 0.046
Nuclear 0.9 0.063

Few remarks are in order. There is no single LCOE since the costs are different in different places and different cost components keep changing. In Asia, for example, the costs of nuclear can be considerably lower than the above estimate, but under American style regulatory framework maybe higher. For gas prices I used a value of 8$/MMBtu. This is higher than the current gas prices in US, but lower than the European ones. The LCOE for wind power is lower than the typical feed-in tariffs in Europe and electricity spot price in the Nordic regionfluctuates around 7.5 cents/kWh. The fact that Finnish utilities want to build nuclear power also suggests that compared with alternatives economics for it are favorable in our circumstances. Changing the assumptions can of course change the above values somewhat, but overall I think the numbers pass the sanity check. In what is to follow the figures above are not even that important since they mainly set the starting point and after that the cost trends are determined by the changing energy mix and the capacity factors.

I will now compare two different scenarios for decarbonizing the electricity supply. In the first scenario we start with the fossil fuel dominated system where coal provides baseload power corresponding to the minimum yearly demand (as before I take the demand pattern from the Bonneville power authority load). I make drastic approximation that the output power of coal burning power plants does not vary at all and that the load following is only done with hydro (with capacity of 15% of average demand) and natural gas. Somewhat unrealistically I also assume that the hydrocapacity is always available. (This assumption makes the systems appear to have somewhat lower emissions than in reality where hydro power might have a capacity factor of around 50%.) I then start increasing the amount of electricity generated with wind. The production profile of wind power is derived from combining the Irish, south-eastern Australian, and Bonneville power authority wind production. The details are explained in an earlier posting. The wind production is taken to have a priority access to the grid. To generate the remaining electricity, we use coal at a power corresponding to the minimum demand once the contribution of wind power has been subtracted from the demand. The rest is generated with hydro and natural gas in that order. I further assume that production can always respond so rapidly that no capacity has to be in the spinning mode. (Our imaginary state has an average demand of 10000MW.)  In the first movie, I demonstrate how the mix of different sources of electricity evolve under this scenario. (link to the 1st movie).

In the second scenario the starting point is the same, but rather than increasing the amount of wind power, we increase the amount of nuclear power. Like coal, this nuclear power is taken to produce constant power so that it first displaces baseload coal and then starts replacing natural gas. When nuclear power starts to replace gas used for load following its capacity factor starts to take a hit. The 2nd movie illustrates the mix of different sources of electricity in this scenario. (link to the 2nd movie).

These two scenarios are naturally not the only ways to satisfy electricity demand, but they are possible ways and with the numbers shown in the movies production always matches demand. Since the required capacities and capacity factors change with increasing wind or nuclear penetrations, the LCOE for different sources do not stay the same. For the society (although not necessarily for the individual investor) what matters most is the cost of typical kWh rather than the LCOE for each individual component of the electricity supply. I will take the cost of typical kWh to be the weighted average of each separate LCOE. The weights are given by the relative amounts of electricity produced from each source.

I think one clear error in what I do, is to implicitly assume that the underlying energy infrastructure stays the same over the payback period. As we decarbonize the electricity generation, capacities and capacity factors change with time and this should, in principle, be taken into account. On the other hand, since we do not live in a planned economy postulating construction plans decades in advance would also be dubious. The best the society might be able to do, is to try to reduce uncertainty and ensure that the market pressures always act in the right direction of ever lower GHG emissions.

So what do I find? In Figure 1, I summarize how the system evolves under the first scenario while Figure 2 summarizes the costs involved. For the wind based solution increasing share of wind power first lowers the space occupied by the base load power plants. This implies shutting down coal power plants and replacing them with gas plants.If methane leakage is bravely assumed not to be an issue, at this phase some CO2 emissions are avoided due to swapping for somewhat cleaner fuel. At higher penetrations capacity factors of wind, gas, and hydro power are reduced and costs continue to increase. (Btw. Getting someone to invest in new gas infrastructure might be tricky if the investors expect the demand growth early on the decarbonization path to be short lived. Presumably they do not believe this to be the case which, if accurate, would be bad news for the climate.) Even with very large wind power capacity one needs a reliable backup that can produce almost all the power consumed. For this reason after rapid rise in the capacity of power plants burning natural gas, their capacity declines only very slowly with increasing wind penetration.

Figure 1: Capacities, capacity factors, and the share of fossil fuels as the fraction of wind generated electricity increase.
Figure 2: LCOE under the wind based scenario.

For the nuclear based scenario 2, the corresponding results are shown in Figures 3 and 4. Now the system wide LCOE actually decreases slightly until nuclear power produces around 75% of the demand (at this point around 10% is produced with natural gas). After this the cost increases with the reduced capacity factors in NPPs. However, the kind of cost escalation apparent in the wind power based solution is absent since there is no need to maintain large amounts of reliable capacity running at low capacity factors. In these examples I made no assumptions about learning curves. If the capital costs of nuclear power are reduced by about 10% for each doubling in capacity until 10000MW (around 30% reduction in capital costs in total), the final LCOE of the decarbonized system is actually lower than the starting point. Similar cost reductions of wind power over the decarbonizing pathway used here do not avoid escalation of costs since cost increases are largely caused by the reduced capacity factors. It seems that one can also make a plausible case that the increased cost at high nuclear penetrations is an artifact of the simplifying assumptions I made. Eventually smart grid solutions can increase the share of base load power, NPPs can load follow, and lower capital cost NPPs which are better suited for load following can be engineered.

Figure 3: Capacities, capacity factors, and the share of fossil fuels as the fraction of nuclear generated electricity increase.
Figure 4: LCOE under the second scenario.

Finally in Figure 5, I compare the most relevant metrics of both scenarios. The costs diverge dramatically with the fraction of chosen carbon free energy. Nuclear based solution ends up with fairly constant LCOE over the pathway leading to decarbonization, while costs escalate with wind based solution. The installed carbon free capacity is drastically higher in wind based solution, suggesting greater challenges in construction and grid design. Finally, the fraction of electricity generated from fossil fuels is higher in the wind based solution. Together with increasing costs this implies dramatically lower “bang for the buck” at large wind penetrations. In contrast by the time nuclear power produces the same amount of electricity as the yearly demand, share of fossil fuels has dropped to less than 2%.

Figure 5: Comparison between wind and nuclear based scenarios.

It should be noted that in the above in addition to many simplifying assumptions I ignored the additional transmissions costs for the wind based scenario. I am quite clueless as to what kind of grid upgrades are needed, but it seems clear that with wind capacity in excess of 5 times the average demand changes would be substantial. Where I live the transmission costs amount to around one third of my electricity bill so changes in transmission costs would have a large impact on the cost of electricity.

In this post I also focus on electricity production only. To decarbonize our societies we will also have to decarbonize heating and transport. If we were to use excess wind power to heat water, it is easy to see that the rise in the cost of warm water would be even greater than the cost increases in electricity (home work exercise). In case of nuclear power warm water could be a by-product of electricity generation (although this reduces the electrical power somewhat). Furthermore, if this warm water is produced close to the wind turbines, transporting it to consumers will cost more than moving electricity around. Similar conclusions apply for liquid fuels.

Do these kind of cost differences matter? I find it shocking that so many (typically wealthy westerners) seem to have an attitude that energy costs are almost irrelevant and that the question is basically analogous with a choice of buying a PC or a Mac. Some even seem to view rising energy costs as a good thing. We spend roughly 8% of our GDP on energy and this energy use pretty much makes all the rest possible. It is useful to remind how much we actually spend on some things that are widely valued. I will take the figures from my home country of Finland, but they are probably quite representative of industrialized countries in general.

Spending on Share of GDP
Public health care 7%
Education 6%
Pensions 12%
Pensions (2030 esimate) 15%
Development aid 0.5%
Ministry of environment <0.2%

In the past few decades the income differences have increased also in Finland so that today our richest 10% have around 2-3% greater share of the GDP than in 1990. My impression is that most environmentalists find this terrible. The aging population causes our pension costs to increase and this increase is cause of anxiety for many both left and right. So we can very easily see that the energy costs in our society are comparable to many big spending categories for which it is already hard to find resources. Large increases in energy costs can easily have far greater social consequences than most people probably realize. Fantasizing that this is something to be promoted not only borders on insane, but is morally dubious. I have yet to find an explanation for why a society that spends more on energy rather than, for example, on education and health care is a better place for its inhabitants?

You might try to rescue the fantasy by somehow assuming that the same GDP could be produced with so much lower energy consumption that the total costs remain the same. However, as is clear from the above estimates this would require so drastic reductions in energy use that it cannot be taken seriously as a basis for responsible climate policy. There is nothing to suggest that this is doable and especially in the case of poorer countries that this is desirable. (Also, why would economically justified energy savings measures be incompatible with nuclear power is not clear to me.)  Once the discussion strays into this territory, I often end up confused by the inconsistency of the arguments in favor of the paleogreen consensus. Construction of ideologically favored energy sources is typically touted (not entirely convincingly) as being good for the economy, but the same people might in a different context condemn economic growth and express desire for degrowth. Which one is it? Surely one cannot have it both ways?

Do I seriously believe that the societies will choose the path of ever increasing energy costs? Of course not. As soon as the effects of cost increases become apparent and start to affect other priorities people have, different choices will be made. As I see it, choosing the wrong way initially implies wasteful spending and unnecessary CO2 emissions since it delays the day when we eventually do choose policies that can eliminate the GHG emissions from the energy sector for good.

Vuonna 2008 Helsingin energian toimitti asiakkailleen 13800GWh energiaa (sähköä ja lämpöä). Tästä tuotannosta leijonan osa oli tuotettu fossiilisilla polttoaineilla ja tästä tuotannosta olisi ilmastonmuutoksen hillitsemiseksi päästävä käytännössä eroon (eikä siis vain vähennettävä joitain kymmeniä prosentteja) mikäli Helsinki aikoo tehdä oman osansa päästöjen vähentämiseksi. Tarkastelen nyt hiukan lukuja siitä mitä tuo hiilivapaus tarkottaisi mikäli Helsingin energia muuttaa fossiilisia polttoaineita käyttävät sähkön ja lämmön yhteistuotantolaitokset “bioenergialla” toimiviksi. Puuperäisen polttoaineen käytön lisäys oli nimittäin yksi keskeinen osa äskettäin esitellyissä Helsingin energian tulevaisuus skenaarioissa.

Oletetaan energian säästöjä niin, että Helsingin energian kokonaistuotanto on 10000 GWh. Jos puukuutiossa on energiaa noin 2000kWh, niin tarvittava puun tarve on noin 5 miljoonaa kuutiota. Kun metsänkasvu etelässä on noin 5m^3/ha, niin tuohon vaaditaan noin miljoona hehtaaria metsää. Arvio saattaa olla alakanttiin, koska metsän muuttaminen puuhiileksi (anteeksi, nykyään kutsumme sitä biohiileksi) varmasti syö osan puun energiasisällöstä. (Jossain näin arvion, että ns. fast pyrolysis prosessi hukkaa noin 30% energiasta. En tiedä kuinka paljon tuosta voidaan helposti parantaa.) Vertailun vuoksi voi sanoa, että tuo pinta-ala on noin kolmannes Etelä-Suomen läänin pinta-alasta. Mikäli Helsingin naapurit etelä Suomessa noudattaisivat Helsingin tällaista esimerkkiä, nousee “hakkuualueen koko” yli puoleen läänin pinta-alasta.

Tällaisessa skenaariossa Helsinkiläinen takavarikoisi siis luonnon primäärituotannosta useita hiilitonneja nykyistä enemmän… sanotaan arviolta 3 Ct/vuodessa asukasta kohden. Jos maailman ihmiset nuodattavat tätä esimerkkiä, primäärituotannosta ohjataan ihmisille 20Gt C/year nykyistä enemmän (olettaen epärealistisesti ettei ihmiskunnan koko nouse nykyisestä). Tämä on noin 30% mantereiden primäärituotannosta, josta ihmiset ohjaavat jo nyt omiin tarpeisiinsa suunnilleen tuon saman määrän. Tuo on karkea arvio siitä kuinka paljon bioenergiaskenaariot kaventaisivat luonnon elintilaa, koska primäärituotanto on ekosysteemiä ylläpitävää “ruokaa”. Kuten olen jo aikaisemmin todennut, minusta tällainen lääke ilmastonmuutokseen on pahempi kuin itse sairaus. Tämä arvio ei muuten edes oleta, että biomassa muunnetaan nestemäiseksi polttoaineeksi. Mikäli näin tehtäisiin olisivat ympäristövaikutukset vieläkin huonompia.

Toiset bioenergiaa innokkaasti ajavat henkilöt (mm. Satu Hassi) ovat (nähtävästi osin jälkijättöisesti ja vahingon jo tapahduttua) viime aikoina painottaneet sitä, että bioenergiaa ei saa kuitenkaan tuottaa ihmisten ruuasta. Kun tavoitteista ei tingitä, tuo tarkoittaa sitä, että bioenergian käytön aiheuttamaa eettistä ongelma ruuantuotannossa pienennetään pahentamalla sen aiheuttamaa ekologista ongelmaa. Toiset bioenergiaa ajavat tahot haluavat rajata myös sademetsät hakkuiden ulkopuolelle (hyvä niin). Tämä kuitenkin poistaa “potentiaalisesti hyväksi käytettävästä” primäärituotannosta 22 Gt C/year ja jos biopohjaiset skenaariot pidetään ennallaan kaikki sademetsien ulkopuolinen luonto valjastetaan tuolloin ihmisten käyttöön.

Selaillessani Metlan raporttia energiapuun korjaamisesta minua hätkähdyttivät huomautukset siitä kuinka esim. latvusmassan ja kantojen korjaamisen seurannaisvaikutuksista tiedetään vain vähän. Tiedetään, että korjuulla on epäedullisia pitkäaikaisvaikutuksia, mutta esim. ravinteiden huuhtoutumisesta on vain vähän tietoa enkä myöskään ole vielä löytänyt selvityksiä siitä mitä pitkään jatkuva primäärituotannon poistaminen metsistä aiheuttaa esimerkiksi metsien sitoman hiilen määrään tai sen biodiversiteetille. Varmaankin spesialistit tuntevat näitä tutkimuksia, mutta minun kaltaisen maallikon korviin niiden tulokset eivät ole kantautuneet. Epäilen etteivät monet muutkaan asiaan kantaa ottaneista tahoista ole muodostaneet mielipidettään hyvin tutkitun tiedon pohjalta. Kuinkakohan moni on vaivautunut yrittämään ottaa selvää? Montaako asia edes kiinnostaa? Sen kuitenkin tiedän, että mikäli metsää ei häiritä se voi toimia hiilinieluna satoja vuosia ennen tasapainoon hakeutumistaan.

Mitäkö itse tekisin nykytilanteessa? Laskemalla yhteen Helsingin energian laitosten tehot toteamme, että yhtiö voi tuottaa sähköä noin 1GW teholla ja lämpöä noin 1.5GW teholla. Tuon voisi tuottaa yhdellä sähkön ja lämmön yhteistuotantoon rakennetulla ydinreaktorilla (tai esim. kahdella pienemmällä reaktorilla antamaan paremman huoltovarmuuden). Helsinki muuttuisi tällä toimenpiteellä kertaheitolla de facto hiilivapaaksi nykyisellä asuntokannalla sekä sähköntuotannon että ennen kaikkea lämmöntuotannon osalta. Tämä tapahtuu ilman vallankumouksellisia muutoksia energian tuotannossa, asuntokannassa ja kuluttajien käytöksessä. (Onko jollain esimerkkiä vallankumouksesta, joka päätyi sinne minne sen alunperin tarkoitettiin päätyvän?) Lisäksi uskallan väittää, että tämän skenaarion kokonaiskustannukset ovat huomattavasti
alhaisempia kuin vaihtoehtoisten skenaarioiden (tosin viherpesu voi tulla halvemmaksi), jotka tuottavat yhtä suuret hiilipäästöjen vähennykset. Lopuksi tässä skenaariossa ei ennen kaikkea hakata metsiä nurin, polteta niiden vuosittain sitomaa hiiltä savuna ilmaan, ja sotketa niiden ekosysteemiä. Minusta valinta bioskenaarioden ja ydinvoiman välillä on siis itsestään selvä. Sellaista ydinonnettomuutta ei olekaan, joka aiheuttaa yhtä suurta ekologista vahinkoa kuin mitä laajamittainen biomassan käyttö aiheuttaa. Kun tämä suhteutetaan vielä onnettomuuden todennäköisyyteen, joka on likipitäen nolla (länsimaisten normien mukaan rakennetut voimalat ovat tainneet pyöriä jo yli 10000 reaktorivuotta ilman kuolonuhreja), päätös on selvä. Se mihin ydinlaitos kannattaisi rakentaa on toinen kysymys. Nyt Loviisaa on esitetty yhtenä vaihtoehtona, mutta kustannusten vuoksi olisi luultavasti järkevämpää sijoittaa laitos lähemmäs pääkaupunkiseutua. Minulla ei ole mitään sitä vastaan, jos laitos rakennetaan takapihalleni. Samoin jätteet saa upottaa minun alleni 500 metrin syvyyteen.

I have been pleased to note that many thoughtful people worried about environment and climate change have changed their opinions about nuclear energy. In my mind the opposition to nuclear energy has always appeared poorly argued and, when placed in the wider context, actively harmful. I probably share this point of view with most of my colleaques. My favorite Guardian columnist George Monbiot is the most recent “convert” and the finnish green politician Osmo Soininvaara is cautiously positive as well. However, I am still amazed at how slowly this shift has been happening. It is not that there has been any fundamental change in the available information. It is only a question of looking at things openly, rather than selectively looking for things which enable one NOT to change opinions.

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