Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Human Crouton, Jan 10, 2019.
How is it awful for the environment (other than risk of meltdown)? (Genuinely asking)
I'm curious as well. Just seems like a standard left wing environmentalist message. I realize I am biased having worked in the industry for a short while. But I'll take a bite. The biggest problem with some civilian plants is the warm water discharge can be harmful for wildlife. But this is true for most fossil fuel power plants, since most power plants do have to condense steam. Obviously fission fragments and heavy metals isn't good for the environment, nor the mining used to get Uranium. Keep in mind that Uranium is getting scarce, and requires more tearing up rock to get sufficient amounts. Even in the 90's I realized it was a dead industry, and made no effort to stay in it. Uranium will get harder and harder to obtain. The extremely high level nuclear waste is a problem. But there are places to put it. Yes my state is one of them. But political pressure makes it impossible. There are places with no seismic activity (though Yucca mountain isn't one of them). Right now we have fuel rods from my former ship just sitting in pools of water on the surface. Which is quite dangerous, it is better to bury it. The problem though, is everywhere has ground water, including my state. There is the chance of waste reaching ground water in thousands of years. This isn't something that can be just stored and forgotten about. Someone has to make sure it's not leaking. Ask yourself, is it a good idea to be creating waste with no way to deal with that waste? The answer is no. I feel nuclear power should only be used by the U.S. Navy (and other Navies such as England and Russia who also use it) because of certain defense requirements.
Now most waste is low level stuff. Much of the stuff from my ship had no detectable radioactivity, but we used certain materials in water analysis and radiological controls, and they have to be disposed of properly. That waste is almost negligible. I'm talking the high level waste here that is the problem.
This is super helpful, thanks! I know you're skeptical but you are convincing me that nuclear plants are an environmental problem! But they are definitely better than fossil fuels.
Let's put it this way. I would rather live next to a nuclear plant than a coal one. Hell, I did it for 5 years. I slept within 1/8 mile of a nuclear reactor (8 reactors actually). I would never want to be downwind of a coal plant.
But the long term problems are an issue to contend with. And I'm not sure if the cost is worth it in any way other than for national defense purposes. We have more choices for green energy now than we did before. It's time we explore those options.
This is the Rub: Nuclear plants are better environmentally in the Short Run, potentially disastrous in the Long Run, but the Long Run is Indeterminable: might be thousands of years, with improper storage (like our problems here in Washington State with Hanford Site) might be just a few years. It's the Unknown that scares people. Coal and Oil burning, on the other hand, whether the 'oil' is gasoline in cars or fuel in plants, are Immediately an environmental and public health problem, and there's nothing in our technology right now that can change that: 'clean coal' is a myth and an oxymoron, and 'low emissions' in millions of cars and trucks is still a lot of poisonous emissions in total.
But nothing in the future is certain except this: our Main Problems will not stay the same. In 1900, the major environmental problem facing every American (and European) city was Horse Manure: hundreds or thousands of tons of the stuff being deposited on the streets every year, and nowhere to put it. There was too much to use as fertilizer for agriculture, and dumping into the ocean (as New York City was doing) brought too much of it floating ashore later. The pollution level was considered a major health risk and city environment killer. By 1920, 14 years after the Ford Model T automobile started mass-production, there was no Horse Manure problem in American cities: 90% or more of the horses had disappeared.
I'm not going to predict what will replace Plastics, Coal, Oil, Uranium or other current Environmental problems, but I guarantee something will, and it will, inevitably, have its own problems associated with it. TANSTAAFL: "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch" - no magical solution to all problems. . .
The only real long-term downside of nuclear power (aside from the risk of accident) is the long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel, which stays highly radioactive for tens of thousands of years. However, in terms of normal operation, nuclear power has a much lower environmental impact than wind, solar or hydroelectric power.
It is often overlooked that all of our energy sources require that we modify the landscape massively, either by digging it up, flooding it with hydroelectric dams or cooling lakes, covering it with reflectors, or modifying tidal and wind patterns by trying to 'harness' them: TANSTAAFL Part Two.
Unfortunately, what is 'acceptable' environmentally usually comes down to What Are People Afraid Of, not What Should Worry Them.
The question is, what to represent in the game: the Actual benefit/cost of the various technologies and structures, or their potential to Scare the Eyebrows off people. One possibility would be to couple the game factors to game events: Nuclear Reactors are acceptable and 'environmentally friendly' (in perception) until a Nuclear Accident event occurs, after which they start accruing Negative Amenity to cities near them. A second or third Nuclear Incident and they could become virtually impossible to build without negative consequences to your cities and your Civ - Even if the actual damage from any or all of the Nuclear Events was minor . . .
Or is this getting a little too 'Current Eventish' for gamers?
Not necessarily too "current event"-ish, but perhaps a bit too "replicates human stupidity that I already see too much of every day to want replicated in my games"-ish.
They are also hideously expensive to huild & decommission, take a decade or more to build (unless you're China, with a very abundant & cheap labour force) & are far more susceptible to heat induced closures than other forms of power.
Then there is the fact that the fuel is much more limited than pretty much any other type of fuel, requires a large amount of enrichment, & this enrichment can also produce weapons grade material, which is something we do not need more of in this world.
But yeah, aside from that, nuclear is *awesome* (/sarcasm).
BTW, opposition to nuclear power isn't a "leftie" thing-its a common sense thing.
How does it have a lower impact than the 3 you mentioned? Solar panels can be placed on the vast quantities of freely available roof space, & wind turbines already co-exist very well with farmland. Run-of-the-river hydroelectric schemes merely require a relatively small channel/lagoon in order to harvest the energy. Nuclear Power requires the land for the mines and tailing dams, land for the milling & enrichment (& storage of associated waste), the land for the power station itself & then the land on which the waste is stored for thousands of years.
Take a look at Northern India to see how much damage the pursuit of Nuclear Power can do to the environment.
As far as I can tell, that's what the Left believes about all their policies.
It's worth recalling that both wind turbines and solar farms are extremely disruptive to the local ecosystem, which, yes, is true of any power source, but all the same the environmental impact of wind and solar can't be written off as negligible--especially when we're still a long ways off from efficient wind and solar energy on a large scale.
I spoke purely in terms of environmental impact, because that's the question that was asked. Obviously, there are other concerns about nuclear power, but in terms of actual environmental impact, aside from waste disposal and the risk of accident, the environmental impact is negligible. Probably the most significant issue is water use for cooling, but the environmental impact of this can be largely negated by proper design.
Solar panels placed on rooftops are not a "Solar Powerplant." Solar powerplants require large areas of open space (which are no longer a natural habitat, and yes, desert is a natural habitat), and have a variety of environmental impacts (birds and insects flying past can burst into flame, etc.). The manufacture of solar cells also tends to involve hazardous materials which must be disposed of.
Traditional hydroelectric generators require damming a river, which has a variety of serious environmental impacts on habitat and wildlife. Wave action generators have less impact, but are also less efficient, and still disrupt local ecosystems, as they alter the flow of water and movement of organisms.
Wind generators, deployed in large enough numbers to be meaningful, alter the local winds, which can have negative impacts on local ecosystems, in addition to leading to diminishing returns for further generators. Deployed around farms where the ecosystem has already been disrupted, this is probably not a problem, but it's still not zero impact. Unfortunately, wind is the least efficient of these three renewable sources; it's not really physically possible to deploy enough windmills to meet primary energy demands.
Germany generates about 25% of its electricity from wind and solar, that seems pretty large scale to me.
I just want to point out that I'm really liking this real world nuclear power talk. Not being sarcastic.
It isn't all sunshine and warm breezes. Renewables obviously have the intermittent power production issue, and they have to be where the energy is, not where it's being used. But ignoring large scale batteries (maybe someday we can just use graphene!) being a major issue, there's other things. For example, an energy grid must be balanced in terms of real power (how many watts are being generated/consumed) reactive power (motors and generators produce and consume this, it needs to be balanced) and frequency (for your AC electronics!) Wind farms traditionally consume a lot of reactive power. This is bad because a wind farm can become incompatible with the rest of the grid as the wind changes. For those who don't mind some science, here's an old link. Nowadays, there's a new type of wind turbine design (doubly-fed induction generators or DFIGs) that gets around this entire problem. But my point is not all electricity was made equal!
Every power source requires the industrial fuel extraction operation, and the simple scale of coal extraction or the nastiness of rare earth processing probably dwarfs uranium mining per MWh. Power plants themselves barely take up land on any appreciable scale (all plants need space, but they aren't like the size of farms or cattle ranches.) All the nuclear waste ever produced could be stored on a small amount of land - it's just doing that safely. And, thanks to advances in reprocessing, a lot of the time its best to keep the stuff on site- where the nuclear expertise and containment talent already is. So that's handy.
Nuclear plants themselves are a PITA to build because in the west, we just don't do it often anymore and we've added extensive regulations and red tape and political pressure. Not saying all of that is bad. But if for example, the USA built only nuclear reactors instead of coal turbines, people would get good at it, the regulatory agencies would have streamlined the process (especially for modern designs that can remove the risk of meltdown) etc etc. The entire lure for a big utility company is that nuclear can be very cheap per kilowatt hour- cheaper than coal. It's a long game. Otherwise they never would have built them to begin with, and you wouldn't need to publicly pressure gov'ts to close them- they'd all decommission willingly! France is a great example.
Hydro is probably the best form of energy out there, it's just limited because you need the waterways to support it. We try.
Of the renewable energy sources, I like tidal the most as a likely long term replacement for current power plants. The tide is very very reliable! Obviously it has it's own cost issues around installation and maintenance; and could also have unforeseen environmental impacts, though I think it should be less of a hazard to sea life than wind turbines and solar are to birds etc.
Those scrubbers they have on modern coal plants are a huge improvement.
Yeah, I'd like to see something like that in game. As long as it reduced over time, like a grievance does.
Wow, I'm seeing such a boat-load of nonsense posted here, so much so that I really cannot be bothered wasting time debunking it, as you've clearly all been brainwashed by the Nuclear/Coal industry. Claims re: Intermittent Power are increasingly being shown up to be utter bunkum, especially with massive advances in storage technology. Claims that Wind Turbines disrupt Wind Patterns in a significant fashion are also pure bunkum, and as a scientist I feel dumber for even reading such comments.
As someone who has taken the time to study renewable energy technology, versus the more outdated technologies, I know as a fact that the price per MWh & the acreage per MWh of renewable energy continues to drop, decade by decade-as does the quantity of toxic materials & the life-cycle CO2 emissions.
By contrast, Coal, Nuclear & Gas continue to have high prices per MWh (nuclear being the most expensive, even with massive state subsidies) & high acreage per MWh.......often even before you take mining into account. Then there is the simple fact that Coal, Gas & Uranium are non-renewable resources, which makes moving away from them a common sense proposal, even if you ignore the costs (economic & environmental).
Anyway, I'm bored with arguing with a bunch of technophobes who are all stuck in the mid-20th century.
You know that the thermal efficiency of Coal & nuclear is less than 40%, even after decades of time & money invested into it? Unlike Coal & Nuclear, at least Wind & Solar can be broken up into smaller, less disruptive pieces, with no loss of efficiency. You can't make a nuclear enrichment facility or nuclear power plant much smaller than what they already are. Plus, how would you feel if all those Central African "Republics" were suddenly given the ability to enrich nuclear fuel.....would you be comfortable with them potentially having weapons grade plutonium? How about Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates....or Afghanistan?
I'm 100% for renewables - I just happen to also have experience in the US utility industry, and an electrical engineering background. I'm very much a technophile.
Based on the content of your posts I did some digging and also realized that Australia and the USA have quite different power sectors and government policies about it- especially given the scale of US nuclear and natural gas plants, which is absent in Australia. I happen to live in a city with a nuclear plant and coal plants and tons of wind turbines outside it. Just a different perspective. Here, costs (not what's paid for the power by people, what it costs to operate these plants) are about 10, 24, 35 $ per MWh for Hydro, nuclear, and coal respectively. The only reason I made the link is because one can see that the fuel for nuclear is the reason is so much cheaper than coal. And as usual, no one can beat literally free water powering a turbine. No wonder the devs have made the Dam district so good!
Anyways, from a grid level, I was just trying to mention (more for everyone watching us post about power) that there are more factors than just having enough electricity. (And as I mentioned, new wind turbines actually can add stability to the grid! Yahoo!) They are all challenges to solve. That does not mean I think renewables = bad. Crystalline solar cells get the same production advances that microchips do. There's a zillion dollars pouring into semiconductor fabrication research, so it should shock no one that adapting those processes for solar cells (which are basically reverse LEDs) has made them better and cheaper over time - just like transistors. Similarly, the rise of Electric cars also means more research into storage tech - another long term winner. It's only a matter of time.
In Gathering Storm thought mode- I wonder if Solar Plant tiles will still generate power if you set the visual time of day in game to night?
It‘s uncomfortable enough to look at the often occurring irregularities in Belgian and Swiss nuclear plants, thanks. Add to that this post-9/11 study that most nuclear plants could be severly damaged by a 747 and cause havoc and I don‘t even need terrorists and unreliable governments/states to have nuclear weapons. (Although I‘m not sure if that study was worldwide or just pan-European or even more regional). That‘s why I propose spies to be able to cause nuclear incidents in IZs with a nuclear plant.
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