Vogtle Construction Update Video

This video provides an encouraging view of the positive impact that the Vogtle expansion project is having on the local community. It’s 4,000 – 5,000 construction jobs is just one part of the economic impact; that $23 million dollar property tax check shown during the video is another part that apparently brings smiles to the faces of local government leaders and school children.

During a talk at the Nuclear Energy Insider Small Modular Reactor conference, I heard a Wall Street banker make the following statement to explain why his bank is reluctant to finance a nuclear energy project.

As an investor, I am not anti-nuclear. I am pro-money.

I couldn’t find the speaker after his talk. I wanted to tell him that I am not anti-money. I am pro-people. That’s why I am a nuclear energy proponent.


Personal side note – George Koucheravy, the big, bearded guy speaking from 4:12-5:29, signed a substantial portion of my EOOW qualification card on USS Stonewall Jackson in the spring of 1983. He asked some tough questions. It was great to hear his voice again; it brought back a flood of memories.

About Rod Adams

24 Responses to “Vogtle Construction Update Video”

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  1. Pete51 says:

    Meanwhile, I see that the Sanmen Unit 1 control room is now operational. This plant being built in China should be the first AP1000 to go into service.

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-AP1000-control-room-declared-operational-0104147.html

    For those of us more familiar with the old style control rooms full of dials, switches and meters, these digital control rooms look like something out of the future.

  2. Todd says:

    Thanks for posting this Rod.
    Todd Terrell
    Director of Nuclear Development Communications
    Georgia Power, Vogtle 3 and 4

    Follow me on Twitter… @taterrel

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Todd

      You’re welcome. There are many of us who are rooting for you and VC Summer to succeed and quiet the critics a bit.

    • NP says:

      Todd, what is your expected annual rate of return on investment for those 2 units, based upong the S chart of the money expenditures?

  3. David Walters says:

    Pete, yes, I thought the same thing. I supervised the Control Room digitization project for my power plant owned by Mirant at the time. When it went operational there were of course hundreds of advantages…except for ‘process’, seeing rates of firing and pressures and temps on a drawn out Bailey circular chart, the hiss of the pneumatics from the hand-auto stations when I could ‘drive’ the load by opening the turbine valves and so on. The screen based digitization lacked the human interface and was thus more alienating in many ways. That was my thought too when I saw the photo of the control room. Greatly advanced over my time, sad in a way in it’s sterility.

    David Walters

    • Pete51 says:

      Here is a link with another larger view of the AP1000 control room.
      http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2014/04/01/first-ap1000-reactor-control-room-operational-in-china-040102.aspx#.Uz4bRVcXL-E

      The digital control rooms reinforce to me how much the new plants will rely on software for practically all systems. I’m sure everything will be thoroughly tested, but it still seems a little foreboding with how much the computers will actually control the plant. I suppose the old “stick and rudder” pilots must have felt the same about the new “fly-by-wire” airplanes.

      • NP says:

        Because of Gates involvement, it is rumored that only Microsoft operating systems will be running the key processes. That doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy.

        • FermiAged says:

          I am heavily involved in testing the simulators for the domestic AP1000’s. I have not heard of any involvement of Bill Gates. The process control is managed by software that has been used in many other non-nuclear mission critical applications such as the chemical industry. Several existing nuclear plants have successfully used the same process control system also run under Microsoft Windows.

          While it feels comforting to have a physical meter, indicator or switch, the distributed control systems used in the AP1000 rely on several, independent machines (that’s why it’s a DISTRIBUTED control system), independently powered over independent communications links capable of being displayed on any of several independent displays. Our problem is coming up with individual malfunctions that fail the system.

          That being said, if it makes you feel any better, there are about a few dozen switches to trip the reactor and initiate safety features if automatic system fail to do so. The safety systems themselves run under a real-time, non Microsoft Windows operating system.

  4. Daniel says:

    NRA says no problemo at Sendai ….

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

    Yeah baby. We have a restart soon.

  5. Todd says:

    Rod,
    Send me your direct contact info. and I will copy you on materials we release to the public.
    Todd

  6. Eino says:

    Good post – most interesting.

  7. Rick Armknecht says:

    Rod,

    I just read on the Energy From Thorium website that the comment period for the NRC strategic plan is closing tomorrow, April 4th. The search (in http://www.regulations.gov) to make a comment is: NRC-2013-0230
    There were only TEN comments, as far as I could tell.
    Of course, the MSR was what Energy From Thorium was urging as the item to bring to the attention of the NRC, but there can and should be comments from all interested groups and people.
    You site appears to be very high profile, so you might want to bring the closing comment period to the attention of your readers.

  8. NP says:

    Rod, the main problem with nuclear, is that in order to build to modern standards, the rate of return on investment is around 2%. IF nothing goes wrong.

    that is better than then .25% the bank gives you, lucky if you can get 1%.

    But with nuclear, you have to put up the money and then wait for 5 to 10 years, while getting only risk and no return.

    If the anti-nukers prevail, the entire investment can be lost.

    Investors don’t like that kind of risk and return. That is why it is important to put the American taxpayer on the hook for the loan guarantee, it is an excellent strategy to prevent the project from getting stopped. Although that didn’t stop the MOX project.

    Investors like at least 5%, especially on a high risk, usually way over budget project like a nuclear plant.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @NP

      I disagree. Nuclear energy, built to current prescriptive regulatory standards with legacy thinking, legacy design strategies and legacy project management is somewhat too expensive to compete against the temporarily low natural gas prices that exist only in North America. It can compete and produce a good rate of return in a market where natural gas earns suppliers a traditional price — somewhere within 20% of the price of oil on a heat-content basis.

      Nuclear energy, built to modern, performance-based safety standards using techniques and strategies learned from a variety of experiences can be a world-changing, disruptive-abundance technology with both impressive financial returns and incredible physical returns in the form of better lives for billions.

      • NP says:

        Well then why was Kewaunee shut down for economic reasons when all it had to do was compete with nat gas and solar at 14 cents per kWH?

        And Kewaunee was purchased as a used plant for around $180M

        So how can a new plant costing $17B possibly compete?

        I do recognize the recent attempt to let nuke charge more than other power sources because it is “baseload power.

        I will be happy to review any backup or back of the envelope methods to show that nuclear can compete. When a new plant costs 100 times more than an old bargain plant, and the bargain plant cannot compete at 14 cents per kWH, it just doesnt seem that any more analysis is justified.

        And this is not taking into account decomissioning, cost of accidents (say $600B on Fukushima), and the long term storage of spent fuels.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          Subsidized wind power, market rules allowing negative prices, no credit for fuel diversity or availability, monopsony market rules, and a dispatch merit order forcing RE to be placed first are all factors.

        • Pete51 says:

          For starters, wholesale power prices are significantly less than the rate you might see on your utility bill
          http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/prices.cfm

          Nuclear does not compete against 14 cents/kwh from natural gas. Many states have Renewable Portfolio Standards that require utilities to buy a certain amount of power from wind, solar and other politically favored energy sources. Nuclear is always excluded from these RPS laws.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @NP

          Well then why was Kewaunee shut down for economic reasons when all it had to do was compete with nat gas and solar at 14 cents per kWH?

          I don’t know what you are talking about. The market price in the grid where Kewaunee sold its power averaged about $30 per MW-hr (3 cents per kilowatt hour) for the last three years that the plant ran. That is the selling price of the commodity that the specific electricity factory in the specific location was able to obtain for its output.

          The cost of operating the plant, including the mandated capital expenditures aimed at making sure that the plant did not suffer the effects of a tsunami or earthquake and the post 9-11 security requirements imposed to make sure that no terrorists attacked and stole nuclear materials, averaged about $40 per MW-hr.

          Costs of 4 cents per kilowatt hour and a market price of 3 cents per kilowatt hour is the definition of “uneconomic.”

  9. Daniel says:

    Watch the DOE secretary Moniz show Rep Shimkus who’s in charge.

    The last 30 seconds are hard to watch.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=KwsROv6MOmI

    • Daniel says:

      Congress has no clout against the NRC nor the DOE.

      Imagine if the navy and the army were acting as such !

    • NP says:

      Painful indeed, at what point does shirking one’s duties become criminal in nature? Jail time will get these bumbling bureaucrat’s attention.