[Mediatoday] Why Denuclearization Should Be Done Within 5 Years

Why Denuclearization Should Be Done Within 5 Years

Won-Young Lee (Professor, University of Suwon, Dir. of the Land Future Research Center)


As you know, for last ten years the cost for solar power system has been cheaper by almost one ninth. As the capacity of solar power system gets bigger by twice, the price of solar panel gets lower by 20 %. The efficiency of power generation has also become higher, now it is possible to install solar power system twice more than seven or eight years ago in the same area. This tendency of the past 40 years will continue forward.

This means that the renewable energy will replace the fossil fuel quickly. The solar electricity whose material is free, and which everyone can produce, and for which everyone can earn income is getting to throne in this age of electricity revolution. That is, it cannot but become a foundation of electric power.

▲ Decrease in the price of solar power equipment Compared to 1976, the price has decreased by 99.6%. Graph source= Our World of Data

In spite of all these positive view, there is still a problem to solve. That is the intermittency, electricity output is not steady. The strong point of solar electricity is that the period of production and that of consumption is similar, but because of this intermittency, it is not easy to manage electric power system. Especially, the key for solution of the problem is the technology of energy-storing equipment. Hydrogen as means of storage also becomes important. A series of technological, economic stream to cover the weak points of foundation electricity is opening a new ground for energy transition.

The Destiny of Nuclear Power that Cannot Coexist with Intermittency of Solar Power

The intermittency of solar power also influenced on nuclear power. Yeonghan Chun, electric engineer and professor of Hongik University said, “when renewable energy suddenly increases on the system in which nuclear power occupies a lot, the stability of frequency of electric power gets much worse. the broken stability is directly connected to black-out. To maintain stability, the number of power generator working should be decreased. And the influence that the stop of one power generator makes is increased gradually.”

▲ Data on the decrease in nuclear power output in May 2020 When electricity demand fell to at least 41 million kW during the holiday season, the output of Shin-Kori Units 3 and 4 was lowered for 13 hours for fear that the system frequency would drop below the standard value (59.7 Hz) if even one of these generators failed. The problem is that there is a limit to the speed to lower the output and the speed to recovery. Graph data = Yeonghan Chun, Professor, Hongik University

Actually for 13 hours from 2 May to 3 on weekend, setback was forced for the first time while nuclear power is in operation. In spite of structural limit of nuclear power plant that it is difficult to suddenly reduce the production of electricity, the measure of setback should be taken. It is an inevitable measure to prevent the danger of black-out by the excess of supply over demand, which is caused by the increase of electricity production by renewable energy like solar energy in gear with the decrease of electricity consumption on weekend. In other words, to coexist the intermittency of solar power, the foundation energy meeting the peak of demand, the output of nuclear power should quickly be reduced and should quickly return to normalcy. This is why smaller nuclear power is more advantageous than a bigger one.

▲ Simulation of electricity production by time period (per week) by energy source in Korea, assuming 2034 In this figure simulated by Professor Yeonghan Chun, dark green is sunlight and light green is wind power. Nuclear power plants must be completely shut down on weekends to avoid a blackout. However, it is physically impossible for nuclear power plants to rapidly reduce and recover. Graph data = Yeonghan Chun, 2021

Professor Chun said, “it is impossible to stop 1400Mw nuclear power at once and again operate it at a time. It cannot fill up the gap of crisis in the situation of solar power’s intermittency.”

He emphasizes that this limit of nuclear power’s makes it impossible to use it side by side with solar power. “Before 2034(the goal year of the 9th Plan for Electricity Supply) we will face the critical point of electric power system. Additional construction of nuclear power plant is not permitted. Nuclear power is destined to sink to the subordinate energy.” It is an inevitable limit in management of electric power system. The conclusion is that nuclear power cannot coexist with renewable energy.

Nuclear Power Afflicting Mental Terror to Humanity

When nuclear power accident happened in Fukushima 10 years ago, some German professor who started to teach from the spring semester in Gyemyoung University, Daegu, resigned his job and returned to his country immediately he heard the news of Fukushima. Since he experienced that he could not drink milk for a long time when radioactive fallout reached his country 800km away from Chernobyl. Daegu is at equal distance from Fukushima.

▲ Map of radioactive contamination caused by the Chernobyl nuclear accident A distance of 800 km from southern Germany was radioactively contaminated. Source = UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), 2000

Needless to say, such a man-made calamity makes even Japanese leave their country. It is the main reason for economic decline of Japan. As old Soviet Union fell after Chernobyl accident, so after Fukushima accident Japan is on the decline. They are on the same structure. The networks of not only human world but also biological world are destroyed.

Koreans Living with Critical Danger at Their Bedside

Everytime we cannot but ask again. If such a critical accident as those of Chernobyl and Fukushima break out in Korea, how it turns out? If such an accident happens in Gori and Wolseong, the cities such as Busan, Ulsan, Daegu, Yangsan, Pohang, Gyeongju and Changwon which are within 100 km away from Gori and Wolseong will be influenced. All the economic activity will be paralyzed, If anywhere in about 16 nuclear power plants of Gori and Wolseong, radioactive leakage happens as in Taisan nuclear power of China, economic system will get paralyzed.

The idea of national security is undergoing a change as international influential power of the South Korea gets bigger in every sense, and as Korean-American alliance becomes more meaningful to USA in the age of new cold-war between USA and China. Now it seems that Acheson Line which has been rooted deep in subconsciousness of many people moves above the Korean peninsula, since we live in the world where if the Korean semiconductor company fails, global village will share the same fate. The Korean peninsula considered as a point of strategic importance in economy as well as in security should not have any accident caused by nuclear power plant. There happens some fundamental changes in American subconscious recognition.

▲ Population density distribution in Korea (2015) and the Kori nuclear power plant

Nuclear power gives a hundred harms without a single gain to coping with climate crisis. IPCC and some foreign scholars said that 8 years from now on is the time we have to concentrate on coping with climate crisis. But it will take 12 years to construct a nuclear power plant. So it is a useless thing. Sussex University in England also points that renewable energy is much more effective than nuclear power and nuclear energy is a very troublesome question in electric grid. Only when there is no nuclear power, we can upgrade electric grid.

We use the energy produced from splitting of atomic nucleus, but two thirds of that energy is thrown away. And radioactive waste products from operation of nuclear power plant for less than 5 years will spurt out radioactive ray for millions of years, threatening our life. The point is that nuclear power plant becomes a factory to produce radioactive waste rather than electric power.

A few days ago, we receive the news that reprocessing of radioactive waste was permitted from USA. But the news is not true. The fact is: JFCS committee publicly approves that joint statement reporting of the results of research of pyro-processing and SFR(Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor) and not making a decision whether they will continue additional research or not.

Lee Jeong-Yoon, representative of ‘Safety and Future of Nuclear power Plant’ made a severe remark that the research has been carried out from the National Assembly’s standpoint that reprocessing of radioactive waste should be stopped because of the opacity of its economical efficiency and safety in 2018. The result of research carried out by Korean-American joint team until 2020 reached a conclusion that they cannot make an assessment clearly on economic efficiency, which means it failed. We are watching now the end of research invested by more than 700 billion won“ Journalism distorting the truth should be reprimanded.

SMR(small modular reactor) which is very often mentioned in the press is predominatingly estimated not to get out of the laboratory because of economical efficiency. M.V.Ramana, professor of Columbia University says clearly that even the design of SMR is not ready yet. Even if we could have transformed SMR, we could control the load of electric power, we could generate hydrogen and we could have fresh water, up-to-date nuclear reactor has problem in economic efficiency. Supporters of nuclear power emphasize the other possibility as if catching at a straw.

Why should quick Nuclear Power Phase-Out be required?

However, while we have hovered without making a decision for five years, the circumstances have changed tremendously. Reality demands a quick nuclear power phase-out because of, above all, the economic activities of enterprises. To cope with the global climactic economy such as RE100, they cannot but transit quickly to electricity produced by renewable energy. About 280 global enterprises and organizations through the world declared to participate in RE100, and Korean enterprises get started too embark on the stream. The products made from electricity produced by nuclear power will not be exported. To break through the new trade wall, RE100, they should be transformed and only their transformation will bring them enormous profits. Judging from the present state of things, owing to carbon border tax, good manufacturing industry cannot but get out of Korea to the foreign countries that supply the factory with renewable energy. This is a critical crisis threatening the foundation of our economy.

On the other hand, if we concentrate on the upbringing of solar power industry which, in consequence, have a high competitive power, we could earn enormous foreign currency in the global solar power market which is estimated to grow up to 500000billion won per year around 2025. we already have some enterprises standing in the forefront. The technology connected with solar power, such as ESS, V2G and hydrogen is striking. Only 10 % occupation of the global market will earn us 500000 billion won. It is clear that energy independence as well as the lead of world economy cannot be possible without solar power industry which will make up the third world market following car and semiconductor. In contrast, nuclear power is less than one tenth of renewable energy in terms of scale and employees. There is not enough time for us to compete with other countries for solar power market.

IT Technology Leading Energy Reform After Electricity Market Opening

Yeonghan Chun, professor of Electric Engineering in Hongik University asserts that to open electricy market that KEPCO(Korea Electric Power Cooperation) monopolizes is indispensible for real change of energy. “Since our IT technology is highly developed, with investment that market opening will draw, we can achieve much better than other countries. As renewable energy is collected from lots of energy generating facilities, it is necessary to monitor and control it. Korea has the best basis for that. In spite of this beneficial basis, KEPCO’s monopoly of electricity blocks the way to the future. Not commercialization of electricity but liberalization and overall market opening of electricity is necessary. In Sweden in addition to Vattenfall, a national enterprise, lots of companies trade electricity. If Korea had opened electricity market, creative startup could have come to being, and made a new model. Under this frame of KEPCO’s monopoly, prosumer and intermediary businessman cannot extend their power to the full.”

His remarks are same as what I heard a few years ago from Dr. Neumann, energy policy-maker of Frankfurt, Germany; “I cannot understand why Korea with such a high IT technology is not good at energy transition.”

In the same way, Kim Hyunwoo, a member of research-planning committee in Energy-Climate Policy Institute criticizes Korean policy: “Korean policy to free from nuclear power is facing a crisis since it is structurally weak and incomplete in terms of its philosophy and system. Moon Jaein’s government explained denuclearization and energy transition mainly as an opportunity for a new growth, and escaped the technological tasks or the issue of a raise in electricity cost complying with the expansion of renewable energy. After declaration of denuclearization it did not propel to make the law to back-up the close of nuclear power plant, which becomes a cause to bring about attack and dispute related with the stop and close of old nuclear power plant. In some sense, it is like turning its head with its body not moving for 5 years”

The Way to Realize Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

The common feature of the countries which keep operating nuclear power plants such as USA, Russia, England, France, China, India is that they all have nuclear weapons. Japan stiil has an ambition to possess nuclear weapons. While Korea earlier entered into the way to denuclearization. All the presidents of Korea declared denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The keynote of peace is the destiny of the Korean peninsula.

The real denuclearization means removing nuclear power plant completely as in Germany. USA should help denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Afterwards it should make a strategy to turn the Korean manpower of technology to deconstruction and safety of nuclear power plants all over the world. As the present situation is to lessen the operation of nuclear power plant, even before 2030 we will face the limit of electric system. So the mission to get rid of the impending danger is given to us. Without denuclearization, coping with climate crisis is impossible. They are not seperated. They together should go side by side.

Germany will complete its 11-year-denuclearization in 2022. In the same year new president of Korea will start his five-year-term of office. Just in time prime minister Merkel came out to learn the Korean coping with the Pandemic when she resigned from her office. The other way round we should learn German spirit of denuclearization and their elaborate carrying forward of it based on their life and ethics. 5 years is enough time to get out of the danger of sleeplessness with time bomb on our heads.

Original Article >>>> http://www.mediatoday.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=215494

Translated by O’bog Park

Categories: Media Reports

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