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Topic Title: DECC-EDF makes yet another attempt to fund 3rd Generation Nuclear at any cost
Topic Summary: Jilted at the altar several times before, DECC-EDF is looking for partners bringing a large dowarie to the relationship.
Created On: 25 May 2013 12:04 PM
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 04 June 2013 12:56 AM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
Joined: 05 September 2004

Westonpa,

I am sorry, but I think I am doing a little better than DECC in listing my assumptions on time scales. I shouldn't have bothered, DECC don't...

In advocating molten salt thorium reactors at least there is evidence that they can work once built (from the experimental research reports and papers of Oak Ridge National Laboratories written in the 1960's and 1970's).

DECC's Energy Bill is not just about Renewables and 3rd Generation Nuclear at any cost, its about completely unproven Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies as well.

Now CCS is vital to the success of the Energy Bill, but no one has got it working efficiently and reliably at scale yet...

This is what the government has to say about CCS

https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/increasing-the-use-of-low-
carbon-technologies/supporting-pages/carbon-capture-and-storage-ccs

"CCS is the only way we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and keep fossil fuels (coal and gas) in the UK's electricity supply mix. Fossil fuels are an important part of the electricity mix (and will remain so for some time to come) because they let us balance the intermittency of wind and the inflexibility of nuclear.

If developed at scale CCS could:
.allow the safe removal and permanent storage of carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas power stations
.remove and permanently store emissions from large industrial sources such as steel or cement factories

The technologies used in CCS (capture, transport and storage) aren't particularly new or unique. They have been used for many years individually (notably in the oil and chemical sectors) but there are no projects that use all 3 together at commercial scale to capture and store carbon dioxide from a power station.

To bring down costs and allow CCS to be more widely used, the full chain of capture, transport and storage needs to be built and operated on a commercial scale at power stations that are already generating electricity."


"What we are doing

We are working with industry to create a new cost-competitive CCS industry in the 2020s. Our support for the development of CCS includes:
.a £1 billion commercialisation competition to support practical experience in the design, construction and operation of commercial-scale CCS
.a £125 million, 4-year co-ordinated research, development and innovation programme
. reform of the UK electricity market so CCS will be able to compete with other low-carbon energy sources"


Given the extent of the support for CCS I don't think asking for £100 million over next 4 years to start a molten salt thorium reactors research programme is entirely unreasonable. Especially as molten salts have wider uses in the renewable solar energy and waste treatment industies.

Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned thoughts on time scales past this initial four year research and development programme, DECC don't bother after all. It might make my argument more convincing if I don't talk about things which are difficult to achieve.

James Arathoon


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James Arathoon
 04 June 2013 07:30 AM
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rogerbryant

Posts: 854
Joined: 19 July 2002

James,

"- I do not personally know how to rate the removal of a thyroid due to radiation induced cancer in childhood, requiring life long drug treatment, vs coal pollution reducing someone's life by a few days, months or years."
From this statement you have obviously not seen someone dying of respiratory failure from working in the coal industry. It is slow, disabling and very unpleasant. In the final stages the victim just sits or lies attached to an oxygen cylinder barely able to move.

"Lets assume that because we can build 4th generation 3 times quicker and that we can roll out 3 times the power generation capacity per year compared with third generation"

This is a very big assumption. There is a large amount of technology and infrastructure missing from the molten salt reactor concept. The promoters are very good on all the positive aspects, eg. operation at atmospheric pressure, abundance of thorium, breeding of fissile fuel inside the reactor, negative temperature coefficient for the reaction offering stability.

They say rather less about the materials issue due to the corrosive effects of the various fluorides generated, what they will do with the fission products that are generated, building up a Thorium supply chain and a supply chain for suitable fissile material to start the reactors.

In a conventional reactor most of the fission products remain in the fuel and are dealt with at a single location (reprocessing facility) after they have had time to decay (in spent fuel pool and then dry storage). The amount of fission products per GWh is the same whatever the reactor type. In the molten salt reactor they will be removed in various ways (depending on their chemical and physical form) and will then have to be dealt with on site or transported for offsite storage.

There are various proposed designs, some of which use graphite to separate the breeding area from the fission area. This avoids a number of problems but brings graphite into the reactor which has a limited life span as well as a positive coefficient of reactivity.

A few trial reactors were built and operated some decades ago but there are still a lot of issues to resolve. You need to 'read' the bits that the promoters leave out.

Best regards

Roger
 04 June 2013 12:33 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
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Roger,

You rely on electricity from coal just as me, but we can't instantly ban it. Ex-Coal miners have suffered a great deal in later life from our addiction to coal. However they were rewarded in life for doing the work and working conditions in mines have gradually improved over the decades.

People who get thyroid cancer as children from radioactive iodine released in the early stages of a nuclear accident, have not been paid to take the risk.

United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation
http://www.unscear.org/unscear/en/chernobyl.html

"For the last two decades, attention has been focused on investigating the association between exposure caused by radionuclides released in the Chernobyl accident and late effects, in particular thyroid cancer in children. Doses to the thyroid received in the first few months after the accident were particularly high in those who were children and adolescents at the time in Belarus, Ukraine and the most affected Russian regions and drank milk with high levels of radioactive iodine. By 2005, more than 6,000 thyroid cancer cases had been diagnosed in this group, and it is most likely that a large fraction of these thyroid cancers is attributable to radioiodine intake. It is expected that the increase in thyroid cancer incidence due to the Chernobyl accident will continue for many more years, although the long-term increase is difficult to quantify precisely."

I agree there are engineering and materials problems to solve in developing molten salt thorium reactors.

I agree exactly how fission products are processed and stored is a problem that needs to be solved.

I think agree promoters sometimes leave out or minimise problems that skew and debilitate their research: look at the fusion program in regards to materials research, look at CCS, look at fast breaders, look at Sellafield reprocessing including MOX plants, look at building 3rd Generation builds and lessons not learned.

Transparency over the problems to be faced is the only cure for this. That is why I am putting a new ethos and culture central to my request for resources. Who else is doing this!!!!!!!!

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 04 June 2013 02:23 PM
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AndyTaylor

Posts: 162
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James, not just coal miners are affected (and children are affected);

The following quotes are from here. where information from a large number of independent scientific sources is brought together. When you consider the numbers globally (or even for just the UK) they are staggering, and what is worse, they are annual figures.

"The World Health Organization and other sources attribute about 1 million deaths/year to coal air pollution. Coal generates about 6200 TWh out of the world total of 15500 TWh of electricity. This would be 161 deaths per TWh.
In the USA about 30,000 deaths/year from coal pollution from 2000 TWh. 15 deaths per TWh.
In China about 500,000 deaths/year from coal pollution from 1800 TWh. 278 deaths per TWh.

But what about Chernobyl ?
The World Health Organization study in 2005 indicated that 50 people died to that point as a direct result of Chernobyl. 4000 people may eventually die earlier as a result of Chernobyl, but those deaths would be more than 20 years after the fact and the cause and effect becomes more tenuous."


There have been 4000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children, but that except for nine deaths, all of them have recovered. "Otherwise, the team of international experts found no evidence for any increases in the incidence of leukemia and cancer among affected residents."


You should also read the last few paragraphs from the link in your post above, in particular the conclusions;

"Conclusions

The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 was a tragic event for its victims, and those most affected suffered major hardship. Some of the people who dealt with the emergency lost their lives. Although those exposed as children and the emergency and recovery workers are at increased risk of radiation-induced effects, the vast majority of the population need not live in fear of serious health consequences due to the radiation from the Chernobyl accident. For the most part, they were exposed to radiation levels comparable to or a few times higher than annual levels of natural background, and future exposures continue to slowly diminish as the radionuclides decay. Lives have been seriously disrupted by the Chernobyl accident, but from the radiological point of view, generally positive prospects for the future health of most individuals should prevail."


-------------------------
Andy Taylor CEng MIET
 04 June 2013 04:40 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
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Andy,

We had almost unlimited coal burning pollution until the Clean Air Act 1956 following the great smog of 1952. Everyone in London and other major conurbations was affected.

To compare the effects of coal pollution to radiation exposure, you have to normalise the statistics in terms of the type of exposure, exposure mechanism (airborne, waterborne, food borne etc), number of the people exposed at a particular level and length of time for which they were exposed.

It is very clear that many more people have been exposed to airborne coal pollution than to food containing significant amounts of radioactive iodine. So simplistic numbers of deaths per year are meaningless, in terms of increasing our scientific understanding of what will actually happen to us as individuals given a specific balance of chemical and radioactive chemical pollution and the manner in which it is transmitted to us in the environment.

It is clear that at this particular moment in time money spent on reducing coal pollution is better value for money in terms of reducing illness and premature death, than money spent on reducing nuclear pollution. This may not hold true in future if there are vastly more nuclear power stations running, than there are coal or biomass burning power stations.

I suspect that food-borne contamination of either type may have different efficiency in regards to making us ill than to airborne pollution of either type You have to compare like with like on a scientifically normalised basis otherwise you just end up concentrating on the current ephemeral balance of pollution which will inevitably change in future years.

I think splitting the ONR from the HSE (as is proposed in the Energy Bill) is a complete nonsense as the same set of skills are needed by scientists in both organisations in terms of scientifically evaluating, and normalising for comparison, the effects of enviromental pollution on us all.

James Arathoon


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James Arathoon
 04 June 2013 08:39 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
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Originally posted by: jarathoon
People who get thyroid cancer as children from radioactive iodine released in the early stages of a nuclear accident, have not been paid to take the risk.

OK James before you drive on the road tomorrow please ensure you contact each and every person you may pass by to ensure they are happy to take the risk or else ensure they are being paid to take it.

When I decided to have children I decided that they would come into a world with risks and that is the decision and responsibility of a parent. If I did not want them to be in a world with risks then I would not have had them. One day they are going to go through the experience of going from life to death, who made that decision for them? It does not make cancer right and we seek to avoid it but there are far bigger risks to children than those caused by Nuclear issues and so it's important to maintain a perspective.

Regards.
 05 June 2013 12:41 AM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
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Westonpa,

It was a sort of throw away line.

For example, some people participating in drug trials are paid to take a risk. Coal miners have known for generations that (in high probability) their health would be impacted in later life, from taking that particular career choice; and yet there has always been plenty of people willing to be coal miners.

However you said in response...

"If I did not want them to be in a world with risks then I would not have had them."


"Them" meaning your children.

Hypothetically speaking, if you liked getting drunk, and then 50% of the time, when you returned home from the pub, you beat your kids, then I would object.

You could have decided to have your kids when you were sober, but they would face their main risks of injury when you were drunk.

How could you properly evaluate this risk in advance of having children?

You can't.

You have to modify your behaviour (i.e. not get drunk) when you realise your falibilities in this regards or face legal state sanction.

Your children have their own independent human rights in law, no matter what your cultural background and belief systems happen to be when you decided to have them.

I have always followed the liberal tradition in my thinking, even before I knew what the liberal tradition was.

I think we all should all aim to not knowingly hurt others as we go about our lives, and to be transparent and honest about discussing things when we are not sure or when conditions change (even at the margins).

For example when aged 19 (1987) I wrote the very first student article on green issues for the Mancunion (Manchester University) Student Newspaper, on the problem of CFC's and the Ozone hole, I stressed the support for the Friends of the Earth campaign (at the time), that aerosol cans should be labelled appropriately so that people could easily choose a product that didn't contain CFC's (as the aerosol propellant) if they wanted to. Without labelling consumers had to obtain and study lists of CFC free products, then compiled by Friends of the Earth, to guide their consumer choices.

It just so happened that when a labelling rule was brought in many more manufacturers chose not to use CFC's, and with that came the momentum to look for alternatives in other spheres of human activity as well.

I learnt from this that entrenched and established resistance to transparency and change in society can broken though the power of collective and informed consumer choice. The process of change starting through bottom-up choice, rather than top-down control.

I didn't call for authoritarian rule to solve the problem then and I don't call for authoritarian top down controls to force change without choice now; even given the much more difficult and complex energy and environmental problems we face now.

For me the energy question should be surrounded by transparency, clarity and informed public choice. Then a plurality of viewpoints and incessant argument can help to thrash things out in terms of government action.

As a liberal it is sometimes very hard to decide when government should act and when it shouldn't act, and in what way it should or shouldn't act. So I say, given that we have very little knowledge of what the future might bring, decisions over levies and subsidies in regard to energy supply, that can't be easily reversed for generations, are definitely not Liberal (or Conservative in the Thatcherite tradition for that matter).

I find it truly astonishing that I will soon be put in the position of having to leave the Liberal Democrats (because of this patently illiberal Energy Bill) when I am a natural and life long Liberal.

James Arathoon


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James Arathoon
 05 June 2013 08:30 AM
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AndyTaylor

Posts: 162
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1. As I have said, people of all ages have little option with regard to atmospheric pollution; it's not simply an issue relating to coal miners.

2. Informed choice is a nice idea, but does not always work as well as we would hope.

The proportion of the population that does not care, or does not understand is way too high for a 'bottom-up choice' to be made on the long term energy policy of the country, and many people simply cannot cope with the complex interrelated conflicting interests e.g. at a very simple level;

Do you want green energy - "yes"
Would you be happy for a wind farm to be built near you home - "No"

3. Isn't it more the case that the 'Liberal Democrats' have left you? I used to have a lot of respect for the Liberal Democrats, even though I didn't agree with all their policies, but the coalition has severely damaged that respect for me. I do however still believe that the grass-roots of the party are as principled as they ever were.

-------------------------
Andy Taylor CEng MIET
 05 June 2013 10:31 AM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
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Change with choice would for me does include a slowly ramping carbon tax, which is the only part of the governments energy policy I can support.

It can be slowed or reversed if carbon prices start rocketing of their own occord. We are not locking ourselves into 40 year deals or things that can't be reversed or modified if unforseen problems emerge with the policy.

1. It is transparent what is happening and the timescales over which the carbon price will change are clear.

2. The rules apply to everyone in the same way. There many need to be some transistion arrangements for exporters of carbon intensive products (e.g. help investing in new capital investment, or export tax credits), until other countries being exported to adopt similar tax measures.

3. Product price is used to indicate carbon footprint as well as other costs of materials. We don't have to calculate some other complex parallel measure along side price or create a separate market in carbon; price does everything we need in one simple number.

4. It encourages new entrants to market on the basis of innovating to reduce their carbon footprint.

5. You are still free to invest your money in which ever way makes sense to you as an individual.

6. The carbon tax money doesn't completely disappear from society, and can be re-invested or be used to reduce taxes on energy efficient products or to help the poorest members of society cope with the changes or what else the politicians democratically decide (except flooding the supply side with copious subsidies to roll out mature technologies ready for mainstream).

One problem to be further addressed then is the maximum power consumption of products. Products might be very carbon efficient in manufacture but be very energy inefficient in use. Perhaps in certain sectors manufacturers should pay some sort of levy on their products if they are grossly inefficient in comparison with their competitors products.

Again here we are using the price mechanism to help consumers make choices that will ultimately lead to cost savings to them even if they don't want to take the time to understand exactly how and why this will happen.
People are still free to choose the energy inefficient product if they really want it.

Many people hate the carbon tax, but the only alternatives that seem to be on offer are authoritarian centralised controls and market manipulations that erode consumer choice, heavily subsidise and support the interests of the established players and severely restrict competition by discouraging new innovative start-ups from entering the market place.

If the quantum of investment (and associated risk) needed by private sector players to take a stake in the energy supply sector is too large, this quantum of investment (and associated risk) must be reduced somehow, rather than copious subsidies applied to artificially maintain it at the old and now wrong level given the current level of technological change and uncertainty on costs.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 05 June 2013 05:21 PM
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acsinuk

Posts: 153
Joined: 30 June 2007

James
Surely it is in the consumers interest to make energy as cheaply available as possible. Take Drax power station; if it is cheaper to generate using pulverized coal and pay the carbon tax then why force the station to burn imported wood chip at uneconomical cost?
The argument of silicosis is no longer a problem as breathing apparatus could be made obligatory and anyway most coal is surface mined without having to enter dusty underground mines.
Further, we could get the coal extractors to plant forests of trees that will absorb the carbon dioxide and/or scrub the CO2 out of the flue gas with warm water where it will dissolve into carbolic acid which could then be pumped down into old mine workings that have an alkali base soil. The idea of pressurized gas CCS schemes seems to me to be over complicated and expensive.
CliveS
 05 June 2013 09:03 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
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Originally posted by: jarathoon
It was a sort of throw away line.

OK please let us know what are your throw away lines and which are serious and then we may have a clue as to what you are actually on about.
For example, some people participating in drug trials are paid to take a risk. Coal miners have known for generations that (in high probability) their health would be impacted in later life, from taking that particular career choice; and yet there has always been plenty of people willing to be coal miners.

As I said before you drive on the road contact everyone before hand to find out if they want to take the risk, of course you do not want to because that does not suit your argument and therefore you simply wish to move on from it. There is risk in life and the facts show that those from Nuclear are less significant than many others so I would reccomend that you change your argument.
Hypothetically speaking, if you liked getting drunk, and then 50% of the time, when you returned home from the pub, you beat your kids, then I would object. You could have decided to have your kids when you were sober, but they would face their main risks of injury when you were drunk. How could you properly evaluate this risk in advance of having children?

As I do not get drunk or else beat my kids and am a reasonably well educated person I am able to evaluate the risks, those are the facts and trying to create some hypothetical situation is like trying to create the same with regards to Nuclear issues.
You have to modify your behaviour (i.e. not get drunk) when you realise your falibilities in this regards or face legal state sanction.
Your children have their own independent human rights in law, no matter what your cultural background and belief systems happen to be when you decided to have them.

Before they are conceived I the parent make the decision as to whether I want them to come into a world with risks....fact number one and for which there is no law to govern that choice. Fact number two is that, and as far as I know thus far, the UK Nuclear industry is properly regulated and are complying with our laws and are therefore able to remain in business. Therefore even the government and society which elected it have decide the risks are acceptable. So it would seem that both the government and the law and my own evaluation are in agreement.
I have always followed the liberal tradition in my thinking, even before I knew what the liberal tradition was.

Fair enough and I can respect that.
I think we all should all aim to not knowingly hurt others as we go about our lives, and to be transparent and honest about discussing things when we are not sure or when conditions change (even at the margins).

You do not know the child will get cancer as you suggest and anyway the risks of it are relatively low and so in reality it is a weak argument in addition to all the scaremongering against the nuclear industry.
I learnt from this that entrenched and established resistance to transparency and change in society can broken though the power of collective and informed consumer choice. The process of change starting through bottom-up choice, rather than top-down control.

Informed means based on facts and perspective.
I didn't call for authoritarian rule to solve the problem then and I don't call for authoritarian top down controls to force change without choice now; even given the much more difficult and complex energy and environmental problems we face now.

Well maybe they are not so complex or difficult to others.
For me the energy question should be surrounded by transparency, clarity and informed public choice. Then a plurality of viewpoints and incessant argument can help to thrash things out in terms of government action.

So do you think scaremongering with little evidence to back it up properly informs people?
I find it truly astonishing that I will soon be put in the position of having to leave the Liberal Democrats (because of this patently illiberal Energy Bill) when I am a natural and life long Liberal.

Yes and I am quite sure Clegg, Davy and co would have said they would be in the same position as you if we had asked them 5 years ago when they were waffling on from the opposition benches. Now they are in power and have had to swallow a dose of reality and actually run the country they have changed their opinions. Suprising really is it not?

James, I respect your right to your opinion and that you take the time to give it but do try to keep things in perspective and appreciate that there may be perfectly valid reasons for things even though you may not neccessarily agree with them.

Regards.
 06 June 2013 12:39 AM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
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Originally posted by: westonpa
James, I respect your right to your opinion and that you take the time to give it but do try to keep things in perspective and appreciate that there may be perfectly valid reasons for things even though you may not neccessarily agree with them.

Regards.


If there are perfectly valid reasons for centralised control of the electricity market then I expect DECC to be able to articulate them clearly. I am still waiting.

Parliament has been debating an Energy Bill of over 200 pages stuffed full of references to new regulations that have not even been published in draft form.

We could end up with thousands of pages of new secondary legislation regulations as a result, some of which would be highly controversial. There is no transparency and clarity here.

There was once talk of one regulation out, for each new regulation in. Faint hope. I haven't tried to count up all the references new regulations in the Energy Bill it would take me several hours.

It's important to identify when politicians start using the law in the wrong way, for the wrong job, with legal complexity spiraling out into more layers of legal complexity "fractal style".

I have no confidence in DECC's approach to governing the country even if you have. A straw glued to a tonne of bricks has now broken the camels back.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 06 June 2013 09:48 AM
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poo

Posts: 227
Joined: 07 May 2008

**Energy Costs**

Robert Kennedy Jr: Fossil fuels wouldn't last one day in a free
market. "If everybody had to pay the true cost of bringing their
product to market, wind and solar would demolish the incumbents" To
build solar is about $3bn a GW - to build a nuke it's about $15bn a
GW. Why would you ever build it? People say 'well, y'know, we can do
this with nuke, it's a proven technology'. Well, you can make energy
burning prime rib if you want, but why not make energy from the
cheapest thing around, which is wind and solar. It's much cheaper. If
everybody had to pay the true cost of bringing their product to
market, wind and solar would demolish the incumbents. They wouldn't
survive one day in the marketplace.

Business Green 3rd June 2013

http://www.businessgreen.com/b...e-day-in-a-free-market
 06 June 2013 11:50 AM
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rogerbryant

Posts: 854
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Poo,

"To build solar is about $3bn a GW" and what is the usable output?

A nuclear GW will give you a GW for more that 90% of the time and for more than 40 years. That is why people are building them.

A solar GW will not give more than 500MW probably considerably less. So already $6bn a GW. What is the expected lifespan, 20 years? Now up to $12bn a GW relative to nuclear and we haven't even started to consider energy storage to cover night time and winter time.

Similar comments apply to wind generation.

I do agree however that fossil fuels do not pay their true costs, but how do you put a true price on a non renewable item? How do you distribute the costs of pollution? If fosill fuels had to follow the same environmental constaints as nuclear (coal fired power stations emit more radioactive materials than nuclear power stations) the cost balance would change considerably.

Best regards

Roger
 06 June 2013 08:58 PM
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OMS

Posts: 18919
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For example, some people participating in drug trials are paid to take a risk. Coal miners have known for generations that (in high probability) their health would be impacted in later life, from taking that particular career choice; and yet there has always been plenty of people willing to be coal miners.


LoL - I guess you've never been anywhere near the business end of a a coal mine in your life, James - and you've never spent any time in mining communities that's for sure.

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 06 June 2013 09:09 PM
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Zuiko

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I too thought that comment was rather patronising.

Back-breaking, lung busting work is done out of necessity.
 06 June 2013 09:28 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
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Originally posted by: OMS

For example, some people participating in drug trials are paid to take a risk. Coal miners have known for generations that (in high probability) their health would be impacted in later life, from taking that particular career choice; and yet there has always been plenty of people willing to be coal miners.




LoL - I guess you've never been anywhere near the business end of a a coal mine in your life, James - and you've never spent any time in mining communities that's for sure.



Regards



OMS


I went pot holing and caving a few times in my youth (in limestone cave systems) and have been lowered down Gaping Ghyll. You don't get black with coal dust doing that, although it does on occasion get very wet and muddy, and when you switch off all the lights you can't see a thing. So can imagine what its like being underground, or even being briefly stuck underground, but not what its like to labour hard for hours underground.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 06 June 2013 09:50 PM
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Zuiko

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James - stop digging
 07 June 2013 12:46 PM
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poo

Posts: 227
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We are not the only country struggling with the economics of nuclear power.

The Wall Street Journal (US): The Real Deterrent to Nuclear Power

Tuesday 5 February 2013

The Wall Street Journal

By LIAM DENNING

Long before they consume even a pound of uranium, nuclear-power plants burn through copious quantities of cash. That handicap was laid bare, once again, on both sides of the Atlantic this week.

On Tuesday, Duke Energy said it would decommission its Crystal River nuclear-power plant in Florida rather than pay a repair bill estimated last October at more than $3 billion. The day before, Centrica pulled out of a new nuclear project in the U.K., writing off £200 million ($315 million) in the process.

Unlike a gas-fired plant, the bulk of a nuclear-power station's costs relate to construction and maintenance. A megawatt of new nuclear capacity can cost five times as much, and take five times longer to build, than a gas-fired one. Little wonder Duke is considering building a new gas-fired plant to replace Crystal River.

Gas aside, the central problem is that, even in today's zero-interest-rate world, the economics of sinking billions of dollars into a new nuclear plant years before it generates a cent of revenue still don't seem to add up for most companies. Big upfront cash outflows combined with uncertainty over future inflows - and the risk of accidents - don't win many fans among investors or credit-rating firms.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2012, published last July, found that of 59 reactors listed as "under construction," 13 had been classified that way for 10 years or more.

Not coincidentally, 44 are being built in the BRICs: Brazil, Russia, India and China. Those markets are characterized by varying degrees of fuel-price subsidies and heavy state involvement in infrastructure. In other words, new nuclear works best in countries where consumers and financiers are shielded from its full costs - hardly the best basis for the industry's ever-elusive renaissance.
 07 June 2013 05:15 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
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poo,

One of the ways reducing costs of new 3rd Generation builds put forward by the proponents is to build several of the same type one after another.

This becomes a problem because the very very large amounts of cash expended before even one electron of electricty is put in motion.

Lest assume the country decides on a single reactor type of 1.6GWe and these cost £7 billion on average and take 10 years to build. (the suggested figures for the EPR build by Areva-EDF

For simplicity lets distribute the £7 billion cost across 10 years evenly.
(Most of the money will generally be spent in the middle somewhere)

If we want to build 10 stations with 16GWe of generation capacity what is the maximum capital outlay before the first station starts generating an income stream.

If we build one station after the other the build program will take 100 years and we will be have a maximum of £7 billion capital expended at any one time without an associated income.

If we start one build every 3 years the build program lasts 37 years and requires a £15.4 billon outlay before any income starts arriving. The programme will finish in 2051 if started next year.

If we start one build every 2 years the build program lasts 28 years and requires a £21 billon outlay before any income starts arriving. The programme will finish in 2042 if started next year.

If we start one build one every 1 year on average the build program lasts 19 years and requires a £38.5 billon outlay before any income starts arriving. The programme will finish in 2033 if started next year.

I am underestimating the maximum outlays needed of course by flattening the build costs across the whole 10 years.

Apparently we can only get nuclear costs down overall by parting with more investor cash up front and trusting the word of the 3rd gen nuclear build consortia that they will deliver on time.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
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