Monday, March 14, 2011

There will be no nuclear power without oil

In times of peak-oil, climate change and a resurgence of nuclear power it is good to take big picture perspective on developments and not discuss details in safety, or if the oil peak has already occurred or will occur twenty years ahead - the point is that it is a fact.
I write in Garden Earth
Harnessing energy and the use of this energy in various technical applications is one of the most characteristic and defining human activities. Technology is not neutral and one kind of technology requires or fit in a certain society. And not only that; certain technology will only be developed if another technology is in places. Therefore, different technologies and societies hang together in technological complexes and it is not possible to change or say no to one component and keep the rest. Because of all these interactions, one can speak about a thing like the “nuclear power society”. That society pre-supposes a highly educated corps of engineers (which in turns presupposes higher education and technical schools); reliable entrepreneurs (little corruption); uranium mining; access to global technology; intelligence agencies (checking the reliability of staff); bugging of telephones; surveillance systems capable of operating for millennia and a number of special, technologies essential for the operation of nuclear reactors. A nuclear power society also needs oil for many purposes, for building of the plants to driving emergency pumps and generators to transporting uranium and fuel. Therefore is nuclear power society not an alternative to oil but an extension of the oil society.

Thinking about Ghadaffi, I should add, that a nuclear society pre-supposes political stability over centuries - and can we find any country that has had that?

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points Gunnar. It is often shocking to me how many supporters of Nuclear energy complete ignore the complete lifecycle of nuclear power from fuel from extraction, through refining, consumption and finally long term storage of waste. All of these steps along the nuclear power lifecycle are completely dependent on fossil fuels and the additional support systems you mention.

    The statement about political stability is an excellent one as well. If we had built a nuclear plant at the first dawn of man, we would still be dealing with the waste today.