NWR Climate change

Except that it is energy intensive to produce in the first place. As we switch from diesel and petrol to electricity for cars and from gas for central heating, where will all this green electricity for e.g. hydrogen production come from?
ITM Power (UK), Cummins (bought out Hydrogenics) NEL and Plug are leading the way in this regard. Electrolysis of e.g., wind, solar, tidal power (or nuclear). It's really about the storage of energy. Also, the hydrogen approach would allow for a similar lifestyle to now, e.g., quick refuelling. The infrastructure is there to the same level as battery power in that (for cars) there are forecourts ready to be changed, so a huge investment, but my understanding is that the current grid couldn't handle mass charging of batteries and so a similarly huge investment is needed there. Currently, the biggest challenge appears the cost of green hydrogen, but it is dropping rapidly, and economies of scale will help.

There are some great explanatory information on the web sites of these companies, and others such as Ballard, etc.

One thing that proponents of all approaches should keep in mind is that they are not exclusive. Batteries are much better suited for some applications, H2 for others. I see them as being complementary in nature.
 
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Yes, this seems the obvious choice for an energy source, but it suffers from such negative public perceptions that it's hard to see governments pushing it unless the perception can be changed. If we could get fusion working it would be great. As nuclear (fusion ideally) would only be a source of energy, we would still need energy storage approaches for transport. Nuclear fusion with both direct power supply and supply to energy storage processes would be a good outcome. As with everything, the potential for unintended consequences grows the more unknown/unproven the technology.
 
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UK
I don't think nuclear can only be the solution if they can crack fusion. As the only energy source not ultimately derived from the sun, it's the obvious choice even if we are limited to fission

Everything else just flows from that
 
Except that it is energy intensive to produce in the first place. As we switch from diesel and petrol to electricity for cars and from gas for central heating, where will all this green electricity for e.g. hydrogen production come from?
As @Tom Grande points out, nuclear has a huge part to play, and renewables are a lot cheaper than most of us realise. Solar keeps on getting cheaper and cheaper (there's an interesting parallel with population figures - this is one area where things are consistently better than each official estimate, and each official estimate is better than the last - one source of what @Alex Lake calls my optimism).

One way I think about this is abundances and scarcities (I can't remember where I read about this - I don't think it was my idea...). If we consider the current industrial era - we have been behaving as though clean air and water are abundances, and raw materials and energy are scarcities. This has led us to focus on conserving some, and not worrying about spending the others.

If energy, finally becomes something like "too cheap to meter" - then that does allow us to do other things. I'm not familiar enough with h2 production but certainly - it seems reasonable to expect that anything which requires electricity from a plug will be able to be powered in a CO2 neutral way.

As a slight aside - one of the things that I find particularly awesome about the cost of solar, is that it is entirely as a result of small incremental improvements over time. Even five years ago it was common to see articles stating that Solar couldn't become relevant at scale until there was some breakthrough technology - turns out that in life, as in cycling, marginal gains accumulate.
 
Yes, this seems the obvious choice for an energy source, but it suffers from such negative public perceptions that it's hard to see governments pushing it unless the perception can be changed. If we could get fusion working it would be great. As nuclear (fusion ideally) would only be a source of energy, we would still need energy storage approaches for transport. Nuclear fusion with both direct power supply and supply to energy storage processes would be a good outcome. As with everything, the potential for unintended consequences grows the more unknown/unproven the technology.
My sense is that perception on nukes is rapidly changing. As with conservatives and socialising the economy, or French people and vaccines, it turns out that when opinions stop being helpful, they are pretty easy to get rid of. Certainly when speaking to environmental activist friends and acquaintances, my views on nukes have gone from heresy, to marginally acceptable provocation, to reluctantly accepted...
 
I don't think nuclear can only be the solution if they can crack fusion. As the only energy source not ultimately derived from the sun, it's the obvious choice even if we are limited to fission

Everything else just flows from that
I fully agree, it's just that the current perception of fission would seem to limit the potential political will to pursue nuclear power on the scale needed. Breakthroughs with fusion could address the negative perception.
 
My sense is that perception on nukes is rapidly changing. As with conservatives and socialising the economy, or French people and vaccines, it turns out that when opinions stop being helpful, they are pretty easy to get rid of. Certainly when speaking to environmental activist friends and acquaintances, my views on nukes have gone from heresy, to marginally acceptable provocation, to reluctantly accepted...
I hope that you are right!
 
The thing that first interested me in solar energy and hydrogen production through electrolysis is that it mimics, to an extent, the way that things have evolved in nature regarding energy collection and transfer. What works best in nature essentially means that it simply works full stop, as all the other possible random approaches have been selected out. So, with sunlight energy capture through photosynthesis, and hydrolysis of water occurring within plants, we have a process that can be emulated with solar panels and electrolysers.

If anybody has the remotest interest in hydrogen energy, I would encourage you to do some googling. Even Shell has some good info on their site (Shell and Linde are working with ITM Power, a world leader in electrolyser technology for green hydrogen production based n the U.K.). ITM's web site has some great info.
 
If energy, finally becomes something like "too cheap to meter" - then that does allow us to do other things.
No danger of that happening with nuclear power. It seems to get more and more expensive with each generation of reactors, and there are many other problems with suppliers and security, let alone safety and management of nuclear waste. I agree that we need it though to provide a base load. Also, some countries will do very well with solar, but the solar potential in the UK is moderate at best. In the winter we struggle to produce 0.5 GW of solar power per day when total demand nears 40 GW. Max output on a summer's day is about 8.0 GW for 4-6 hours. Fusion is the great unknown technology. If we could ever make that technology work it would be a game changer.
 
I'm still on balance not in favour of nuclear, or at least more nuclear, for all the reasons Richard gives. I like the concept of localised generation wherever possible, which seems to have little downside. Further breakthroughs in the capture and storage of solar could have a considerable decentralising effect on the grid. On a slight aside. I've wondered for years why large glass buildings like the Shard and the Gherkin don't have acres of solar panels built in. Or perhaps they do.
 
In terms of hydrogen vehicles, although water vapour as a combustion product is vastly superior to any hydrocarbon based ICE, I do worry about Hindenburg type explosions on the M25 when a plumber in a transit texting his missus ploughs into the vehicles ahead.
 
No greater risk than from a tank of petrol, I believe. I haven't looked into it in much detail, but there are some analyses that show it's safer than petrol (dissipates more safely and without contamination). Batteries are not without risks in crashes either. Any stored energy has stored potential for a more immediate release of that energy than in a controlled usage system.

I wondered if the Hindenburg would be mentioned. H2 was not used as energy for propulsion but for buoyancy. And any usage of any energy source now compared with decades ago will have vastly improved safety through improved technology.
 
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Re. "Some interesting developments here: ZEROe anyone know about the realities?"

Air Liquide (French company) is the H2 provider, I believe. The energy density of H2 is a vital consideration where excess weight cannot be accepted, or not without significant penalties. So for aeroplanes every extra kg of fuel/energy source requires more power to carry it, and for HGVs every kg lost to fuel weight is a kg of potential payload lost.

A lot of technological development still needed for aeroplane engines though, as far as I know.
 
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In terms of hydrogen vehicles, although water vapour as a combustion product is vastly superior to any hydrocarbon based ICE, I do worry about Hindenburg type explosions on the M25 when a plumber in a transit texting his missus ploughs into the vehicles ahead.
Interestingly (or not, I recognise that I am a bit obsessed with Hydrogen at present!), internal combustion engines can be converted to run on hydrogen, i.e., you don't necessarily need a fuel cell to run a car. on H2 Toyota have a racing car out to demonstrate this. Of course, oil would still be needed for lubrication, and you would have all the disadvantageous maintenance implications of an internal combustion engine in comparison to an electric vehicle powered by fuel cell or batteries.
 
No danger of that happening with nuclear power. It seems to get more and more expensive with each generation of reactors, and there are many other problems with suppliers and security, let alone safety and management of nuclear waste. I agree that we need it though to provide a base load. Also, some countries will do very well with solar, but the solar potential in the UK is moderate at best. In the winter we struggle to produce 0.5 GW of solar power per day when total demand nears 40 GW. Max output on a summer's day is about 8.0 GW for 4-6 hours. Fusion is the great unknown technology. If we could ever make that technology work it would be a game changer.
I'm reasonably fundamentalist on this point so please take what I say with an appropriately sized pinch of salt...but imnvho nukes have suffered from a horrific PR problem. Two data points - it is likely the more people have died from radioactivity due to coal powered plants than from nuclear plants, and the total number of radioactivity related deaths from Fukushima was one. One. For context - this is one fifth of the number that dies due to cars every day in the UK. Nuclear power's reputation is afaict almost entirely undeserved. It stems, I think, entirely from having the word "Nuclear" in it - and peoples horror at the use of nuclear weapons at the end of the Second World War has made people believe that dying from nuclear is somehow much, much worse than dying for other reasons.

I do agree that there may be greater potential long-tail risk with nuclear - that something going wrong with a nuclear power plant is inherently more dangerous than something going wrong with a coal plant or a gas plant - however given that the certain outcome of using fossil fuels is orders of magnitude worse than anything we've done with nukes...I think we need to reconsider.
 
I'm reasonably fundamentalist on this point so please take what I say with an appropriately sized pinch of salt...but imnvho nukes have suffered from a horrific PR problem. Two data points - it is likely the more people have died from radioactivity due to coal powered plants than from nuclear plants, and the total number of radioactivity related deaths from Fukushima was one. One. For context - this is one fifth of the number that dies due to cars every day in the UK. Nuclear power's reputation is afaict almost entirely undeserved. It stems, I think, entirely from having the word "Nuclear" in it - and peoples horror at the use of nuclear weapons at the end of the Second World War has made people believe that dying from nuclear is somehow much, much worse than dying for other reasons.

I do agree that there may be greater potential long-tail risk with nuclear - that something going wrong with a nuclear power plant is inherently more dangerous than something going wrong with a coal plant or a gas plant - however given that the certain outcome of using fossil fuels is orders of magnitude worse than anything we've done with nukes...I think we need to reconsider.
Some of the fear of nuclear power comes from it being the byproduct of a potentially a world-ending military technology. We didn't start with nuclear power; we started with mushroom clouds and Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Every country that has nuclear power has the ability to revisit that upon the world and I think we human beings are well aware of that and justifiably scared. As a civilian technology it has been fairly safe, but to create that level of safety it has driven the price to around double that of wind power and solar for instance. And even if the technology is fairly safe, you need to have a human culture of quality and safety on top of that to ensure that accidents don't happen too often.
 
From a Reuters article of 2019 on relative costs:
Nuclear is also much more expensive, the WNISR report said.

The cost of generating solar power ranges from $36 to $44 per megawatt hour (MWh), the WNISR said, while onshore wind power comes in at $29–$56 per MWh. Nuclear energy costs between $112 and $189.

Over the past decade, the WNISR estimates levelized costs - which compare the total lifetime cost of building and running a plant to lifetime output - for utility-scale solar have dropped by 88% and for wind by 69%.

For nuclear, they have increased by 23%, it said.


And note that it takes ten years from breaking ground to bring a nuclear plant on stream. Nuclear plants take longer to build in the 2020s than they did in the 1960s.
 
From a Reuters article of 2019 on relative costs:
Nuclear is also much more expensive, the WNISR report said.

The cost of generating solar power ranges from $36 to $44 per megawatt hour (MWh), the WNISR said, while onshore wind power comes in at $29–$56 per MWh. Nuclear energy costs between $112 and $189.

Over the past decade, the WNISR estimates levelized costs - which compare the total lifetime cost of building and running a plant to lifetime output - for utility-scale solar have dropped by 88% and for wind by 69%.

For nuclear, they have increased by 23%, it said.


And note that it takes ten years from breaking ground to bring a nuclear plant on stream. Nuclear plants take longer to build in the 2020s than they did in the 1960s.
We just need good energy storage options so that the benefit of nuclear (always available) can be nullified.
 
From a Reuters article of 2019 on relative costs:
Nuclear is also much more expensive, the WNISR report said.

The cost of generating solar power ranges from $36 to $44 per megawatt hour (MWh), the WNISR said, while onshore wind power comes in at $29–$56 per MWh. Nuclear energy costs between $112 and $189.

Over the past decade, the WNISR estimates levelized costs - which compare the total lifetime cost of building and running a plant to lifetime output - for utility-scale solar have dropped by 88% and for wind by 69%.

For nuclear, they have increased by 23%, it said.


And note that it takes ten years from breaking ground to bring a nuclear plant on stream. Nuclear plants take longer to build in the 2020s than they did in the 1960s.
Apart from safety, time is the main point. If tipping points are occurring within this decade we don't have another 15 years for new nuclear to get signed off and built or another, say, 20+ years for fusion to become reality.

We have no practical alternative to cutting emissions immediately by buying less, travelling less, building less, burning less, eating less meat.

Don't compare doing less, with today's lifestyle. Compare it with collapse.
 
Some of the fear of nuclear power comes from it being the byproduct of a potentially a world-ending military technology. We didn't start with nuclear power; we started with mushroom clouds and Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Every country that has nuclear power has the ability to revisit that upon the world and I think we human beings are well aware of that and justifiably scared. As a civilian technology it has been fairly safe, but to create that level of safety it has driven the price to around double that of wind power and solar for instance. And even if the technology is fairly safe, you need to have a human culture of quality and safety on top of that to ensure that accidents don't happen too often.

Apart from safety, time is the main point. If tipping points are occurring within this decade we don't have another 15 years for new nuclear to get signed off and built or another, say, 20+ years for fusion to become reality.

We have no practical alternative to cutting emissions immediately by buying less, travelling less, building less, burning less, eating less meat.

Don't compare doing less, with today's lifestyle. Compare it with collapse.
Good points both. I think though we should also remember that there are great examples of incremental improvements making huge strides over time (the reducing cost of solar discussed earlier) and the fact that crises can make things happen 10x faster than they otherwise would (the development of the covid vaccines for example, or radar, computers or indeed the atomic bomb in WW2).

I would also offer a thought experiment - let us suppose that nuclear power would be able to replace all our electricity production and reduce CO2 production to zero - but only at the cost of periodic Chernobyl-like disasters. At what point would that trade-off be worth it. Once per century? Once per decade? Once per year?

To Jeremy's point - what I would personally advocate is very much and rather than or. We need to drastically cut emissions by traveling less, building less, eating less meat - and we also need to produce the energy we do use less harmfully, and we need to look at ways of undoing the damage already done.
 
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