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  1. Good article, AOC Alexandria Occasional-Cortex and her socialist friends want to end Nuclear power. After doing my own research I am a firm believer that nuclear power is the only viable clean solution to this planets future. After learning of this site and reading Plentiful Energy and other books written by nuclear physicists I’m convinced it’s truly our best option!

    1. “Plentiful Energy: the Story of the Integral Fast Reactor” is a favorite. Packs sooo much real-world engineering, nuclear, and electrochemistry into a brief(?) volume.. Robert Hargraves’ “Thorium: Energy Cheaper Than Coal” is also good.

      Can anyone recommend a concise reference on conventional light-water reactors?

    2. When we need to decarbonize the energy supply, socialism is actually a far better bet than capitalism.

      Boomer (and pre-boomer, like Bernie Sanders) liberals turned against nuclear power out of frustration at their inability to rid the world of nuclear weapons. That ought not to be an issue for AOC and other millennials that either weren’t born or were small children when the USSR collapsed.

  2. Um, you realize that your pictures are upside-down for (at least some) viewers?

    Also, typo:  silicon-carbine should be carbide.

  3. When I load the images into Gimp it says “According to the EXIF data, this image is rotated”. I Guess an EXIF editor or plugin can change the orientation.

    1. GIMP will do that for you, all you have to do is click the button and done.

      Now we know who doesn’t use GIMP.

  4. Turkey’s Big Nuclear Ambitions
    Viktor Katona
    2019 Feb 02

    Rosatom is contracting a firm price of power, US $123.50/MWh for the next 15 years, for the 4 VVER-1200 generating station for which construction has now begun.

    But to compete with natural gas the price of power from nuclear power plants will have to be quite a bit less, I opine.

      1. The LCOE for CCGT generation appears to be close to US $87/MWh in Europe and a comparable US $85/MWh in the USA in 2015. The prices will be slightly lower now.

        These are for locations which already have a natural gas pipeline network. For example, nowhere in sub-Saharan Africa is there any interest in natural gas except for export as LNG.

        So a reactor design with an LCOE of, say, US $80/MWh ought to command considerable interest as balancing agent, i.e., backup for wind & solar.

      2. Indeed. EIA estimates LCOE for nuclear entering the market in 2022 at $90/MWh. Kepco’s Barakah units are apparently about $75/MWh, or would be were they turned on and grid connected.. OECD-NEA’s recent publication uses $80/MWh. Thes tend to be quite competitive in a given region, so one assumes Rosatom VVER-1200 are similar.

        Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2018

        The Costs of Decarbonisation: System Costs with High Shares of Nuclear and Renewables (…but don’t tell E-P)

        Bear in mind LCOE assumes an overnight capital cost. Your PPA will run higher as it includes multi-year (decade) financing.

        But as for “backup for wind & solar” why on Earth why?

      3. David Benson — I think you misunderstood.my irony. Too brief, if one needs nuclear capacity, then run that nuclear capacity in the most efficient way to minimize total emissions and grid cost. That usually means running nuclear at 100% 24/7. Load following is possible, but if the variable load is introduced by variable renewable energy sources – as opposed to variable demand – requiring nuclear to follow the VRE introduces needless thermal stress. If VRE introduces too much energy on the grid, curtail the VREs. It’s what they’re made for and costs nothing.

        The demand is for reliable energy. Being the case, the only inherent value of VRE generators is their ability to occasionally displace fossil generation. There is no reason (other than ideology) to displace nuclear, which in operation is already at zero ghg emission.

      4. Edward Leaver — Nope. For simplicity, I ignore solar. Then wind is the least cost generator when the wind blows. But there can be long lulls without wind. So a backup is required. Just now that is, depending upon locality, a combination of gas and liquid fueled generators, assuming that the coal burners are gone as in South Australia.

        So the backup could be nuclear power plants designed for that role, attractive if the price is less than that of the carbon dioxide emitting generators.

        1. @David Benson

          Wind isn’t the least cost generator if it was never built in the first place. Neither is nuclear.

          But given existence of some capacity of both, nuclear’s marginal cost up to point where it is generating 100% of its rated capacity is essentially zero. Under our current paradigm of refueling reactors based on a calendar schedule and no based on fuel utilization, it costs no more to operate a nuclear plant at full power than it does to simply own a nuclear plant that is not generating any power or that is generating something less than its full capacity.

          Wind is in the same cost situation, so why would the nuclear plant operator decide to give up sales opportunities in order to allow wind to make the sale?

          All things being equal, that is.

      5. Rod Adams, yes but. The “but” is big. Depending upon who one reads, the price of wind power is going down to US $20–40/MWh. Design a nuclear power plant which delivers just those costs and the world will beat a path to your door.

        As it is, there is a market for balancing agents with low carbon dioxide over the unit lifespan. It makes it easier to sell if this is lower cost than the natural gas work horses currently in use. I suggest beating CCGTs might be good enough.

      6. DBB:

        there is a market for balancing agents with low carbon dioxide over the unit lifespan. It makes it easier to sell if this is lower cost than the natural gas work horses currently in use.

        Nuclear can’t compete on that basis due to capital cost.  It needs to have the same preferences as other zero-emission sources.

        I suggest beating CCGTs might be good enough.

        Nuclear can beat any system based on emissions.  The problem is that the “renewables” are given a pass on the emissions from their required balancing plants.  If the CO2 and criteria emissions from the fast-ramping OCGTs were charged to the wind and PV farms, there would at least be a level playing field.

      7. EL:

        Load following is possible, but if the variable load is introduced by variable renewable energy sources – as opposed to variable demand – requiring nuclear to follow the VRE introduces needless thermal stress.

        As Rod notes, if fuel is being changed on a schedule then there is literally no savings from ramping nuclear down.  AAMOF we should be trying to find interruptible loads which can take surplus power and operate as balancing on the demand side.  Space heaters and DHW tanks are better uses of energy than curtailing anything.  Why there isn’t already a program to sell surplus juice to customers who heat with propane or fuel oil, I don’t know.

        If VRE introduces too much energy on the grid, curtail the VREs. It’s what they’re made for and costs nothing.

        If those interruptible loads can absorb enough energy, the unreliable generators will have economic value even at large penetrations and nothing need be curtailed.  There are a lot of things you can do at 3¢/kWh.

      8. @E-P

        The problem is that the “renewables” are given a pass on the emissions from their required balancing plants. If the CO2 and criteria emissions from the fast-ramping OCGTs were charged to the wind and PV farms, there would at least be a level playing field.

        Is what the above-linked Systems Cost of High Shares of Nuclear and Renewables terms internalization of external costs:

        “Ideally, policies should be developed to make sure that system costs are well analysed and allocated to the source that generates them. In the UK, Dr Dieter Helm proposed the concept of Firm Equivalent Power whereby any VRE source should guarantee its output with some storage it would be responsible for. Practically, in any given system, this would be very difficult to implement.”

        One can imagine.

        There are a lot of things you can do at 3¢/kWh.

        I’m listening. How many of those things are feasible at an unreliable 3 cents? At what scale and at what demand? Wishing for lots of things doesn’t necessarily attain them.

      9. I’m listening. How many of those things are feasible at an unreliable 3 cents?

        Anything that (a) isn’t particular about when it gets done and doesn’t have much in the way of costs for idle capital, or (b) substitutes for a more expensive energy source.  I’m in the patent process right now and can’t say much about my idea, but consider electric space heaters as dump loads for wind farms in the winter in, say, Iowa.  The farm operators would be happy to get 1¢/kWh instead of having to curtail their output, and 1¢/kWh is equivalent to natural gas at 29¢/therm.

        At what scale and at what demand?

        Hundreds of TWh/yr for the USA, at least.  Peak demand could be 100 GW or more.

        Wishing for lots of things doesn’t necessarily attain them.

        Why do you think I’m in the patent process?  I have a path to this goal.

  5. This was a nice optimistic piece. However, as has been mentioned on this website man many times, nuclear energy needs to be sold to the “right” people. In this case, I believe the “right” people are actually left wing people.

    I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to politics these days. The times are just too crazy. However, recently I’ve heard the phrase “green new deal.” I wondered what it is. It appears to be legislation dictating that we eliminate existing fossil fuel energy in favor of wind and solar power. See for yourself.


    This thing is gaining support among prominent politicians some of whom with views I normally respect. How do they view nuclear? They seem to just ignore it.

    Of course they also ignore the fact that these replacement forms of energy are still intermittent and need to be backed up by natural gas. This is changing with the improvements in large battery banks, but I don’t think batteries will only be a band aid.

    In order for Nuclear Renaissance 2.0 to occur, I think the people backing the green new deal need to be convinced that nuclear belongs to their solution set for global warming.

    1. @Eino: The GND Resolution, as introduced, “is silent on individual technologies.”

      Jesse Jenkins’ tweet storm briefly describing GND is here.

      Dr. Jenkins is an energy economics researcher at MIT, and was instrumental in the decarbonization systems cost study linked earlier.

    2. @Eino: Further aside, and as a footnote to Jenkins’ coverage of the Rise and Fall of one particularly short-lived GND fact sheet, out of consideration and sympathy for it’s author, one might note Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is a freshman, sworn in but only last month, and may have been unaware the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act passed the U.S. House by a narrow 361-10 vote December 21, having cleared the Senate by voice the day before.

      Signed into law January 14, one assumes AOC takes her new responsibilities seriously, and by then was paying attention?

      Speaker Pelosi subsequently re-formed the House Select Committee on Climate Change, and offered to appoint Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, who declined the honor.

      (If that’s what it was.)

      1. That link is also positive news. However, I wonder if there is a timetable for when those laws are to be revised. Were I a rich investor, I would hesitate investing in new nuclear technology without rules in place. Without rules, the game cannot be played.

        The young Senator is not the only politician I’ve heard speak of this green new deal. I think the word “nuclear” is still anathema for politicians when addressing the global warming issue.

      1. That’s been obvious for years, Jeff.  The top priority of the Energiewende is not GHG reduction, it’s “all nuclear out”.  Germany’s GHG emissions have stopped falling and the Greens do not consider it a problem.

        Also look at the money behind various “environmental” organizations.  Rod has documented that FoE was founded with ARCO money and Mark Z. Jacobson’s “Solutions Project” is financed by oil magnate Jay Precourt.

  6. CEOs Ask Trump to Help Them Sell Nuclear Power Plants Overseas
    Jenifer A Dlouhy et al.
    2019 Feb 12

    I am most uncertain what to make of this, but it sounds encouraging.

  7. I came across a good example of what is wrong with our nuclear regulator yesterday. It involves interpretation of a five sentence paragraph in standard pwr tech specs, of which the last sentence mentions LTAs, or Lead Test Assemblies. The context is the Accident Tolerant Fuel (ATF) campaign and a NEI interpretation of the T/S. Sorry, I don’t remember the ADAMS #, but it is VERY RECENT, like 2018. In short, the problem is the legal system, or rather my observation that nuclear engineering is A LEGAL ENDEAVOR. It’s a good example, trust me. So, there is a five sentence tech spec, which spawned a 12-page NEI interpretation, which was unsuccessfully challenged (not final) by a “non-concurrence” rebutted and published in an 80+page report of which the only substance of the complaint I can distill and digest is that 50.59 shall not screen out radical lead test assemblies that use things like uranium silicide or silicon carbide cladding. okay well duh. Nobody was going to load that stuff without a license ammendment anyway. Interestingly enough, the poor soul, whatever his motives, PASSED add an untimely early age shortly after submitting the dissenting opinion! This individual died recently. Condolences. Seriously. I wanted to find out who he was, I looked him up on Google, and found an obit. I have an ex-co-worker that recently left an organization that buys more than a hundred million dollars worth of fuel a year; he left to go work for the regulator on the ATF project. I pity him. in my mind the tech spec is succinct and adequate. If there is a desire to load a new type of fuel assembly then there shall be the best engineering behind its licensure, and it should receive plenty of scrutiny and have a PE sign off on it, but it DOESN’T NEED an 80+page legalise interpretation of 30 year old T/S. It just needs engineering judgement and some skin in the game (a PE’s signature and a warranty).

    1. Yes, congress needs to change the rules for NRC. Those in the know, like you, need to complain to your congesscritters.

      1. @David B. Benson

        Congress and the President recently passed a law that directed the NRC to revise its rules for reviewing and approving both new designs and revisions to existing designs.
        Changes will take some time, but they should be made correctly with plenty of participation from people like Scaryjello.

    2. One of the things I hated about working in nuclear power was the realization that you also had to be a lawyer in addition to mastering the engineering. If I had known I would have to practice law, I might as well have actually gone to law school and made more money.

      1. I worked on the DCPP project for a bit. One of the folks I worked with turned this around. He figured that with all the experience he gained figuring on reg guides that he could go to school at night to become a lawyer and he did.

  8. The Renaissance has already begun in China and Russia.

    But it won’t really start in the US, IMO, until SMRs like the NuScale reactors start being manufactured. These little nuclear units are going to be absolute game changers both on land and on the sea.


    1. No kidding, on both.  Two NuScales would suffice to power the biggest container ships ever built, at a vastly smaller mission weight.  If we can get the NRC to reduce the disaster-planning boundary of a NuScale to the reactor building walls, they could be located inside cities and used for CHP rather than just electric generation.  CHP is a HUGE game-changer.  The NuScale has been recently up-rated from 50 to 60 MW(e) , which suggests to me that it’s capable of 192 (up from 160) MW(t).  The waste heat should be on the order of 120 MW(t), accounting for losses.

      120 MW(t) is quite a bit of heat.  It’s around 98,000 therms of heat per day.  That should heat quite a few buildings and any water above perhaps 40°F should be sufficient to de-ice pavement.  Even if the weather reduced the pavement to less than freezing temperatures, any precipitation would sublime and eventually leave it dry.  Distributing such reactors around cities would both light and heat them with no emissions whatsoever.

      1. Engineer-Poet — From following Nuscale developments it seems they argued to NRC that radiation release could not leave the plant boundaries. As I see it, a Nuscale 12pak is deemed to require a 14 hectare, i.e., 40 acre, site. Further, as I understand it, NRC accepted that argument.

        I think 14 ha. is “city sized”.

      2. 40 acres is a square 1/4 mile on a side, which is awfully big to put inside existing cities (save where “urban renewal” is urgently needed—coughDetroitcough).  I’d like to see that figure pared down to 1 acre for a single-unit installation, perhaps with a commercial or government building of some sort on top of it.  Small scattered units make distribution of hot water much easier and cheaper than massive central installations.

      3. City parks are awfully expensive to make out of built-up areas.  They are usually set aside in the planning and zoning stages.

      4. In the context of plant operation only, the NRC might well find plant boundaries for accident planning acceptable. The public might eventually see them more like the nuclear medicine lab in a hospital than a villainous Hollywood scary something. However, assuming space restrictions in a city force spent fuel removal, I don’t see spent fuel transport through a city ever reaching daylight in the NRC, nor reactor decommissioning.

        I’m familiar with the design existing storage casks, their toughness and the failure tests run on them. Doesn’t matter. They could be made from unobtainium and, given radio-phobia, still not get a license to roll on city streets in this century.

  9. Based on funding here appears to be a potential national labs Renaissance

    Navy HEU UNF Reprocessung and down blending to HALEU
    TRISO fuel Quals

    And military Renaissance
    National Labs MSR work funding

    Micro-Base Reactors
    Micro-Mobile Reactors
    Watts Barr 3 completion for tritium for weapons production
    SRNL HEU reprocessing/downblended to Watts Barr fuel for military tritium production

    But, very little Commercial nuclear Renaisance funding or progress, at least not by the US govt

    NuScale, originally for military, and commercial, but too big for military, so commercial only, so could fail on economics, lack of orders, like B&W mPower or NRC feet dragging over 2 years on license already for a low source term, passively decay cooled. DIE is clawing back already small FOA’s for the above Lab and military project funding.

    Plus the belief in Global warming/Climate change is weakening in the US, and fossil is retrenching their help for solar/wind and the govt still supports it, which is support for Nat gas as well. US Govt is NOT supporting existing nuclear at all. And the Democratic Congress is trying to kill nuclear export sales to Saudi Arabia, so not really interested helping on climate change internationally either.

    1. Congress — both parties — are killing US nuclear export sales to KSA simply because the Saudis refuse to sign a Section 123 Agreement concerning military use of the tech. Without such an agreement, the deal as presented is both opposed by the NSC, and is patently illegal. As such, it is Congress’s duty to see it’s timely demise.


      It’s a good article. Author Sean Gallagher is a former Naval Officer and national security editor at Ars Technica.

      1. The Saudis are ok with the 123, just not the Golden anchor part, no commercial enrichment, no reprocessing.

        They were presented with improved economic MCSFRs whereby no even minor reprocessing would reduce the economic case after 40-100 years

  10. SMRs get the public’s and therefore the politicians’ votes on their perceived safety superiority over ‘big nuclear’ and will be the future of nuclear worldwide.

    The GE’Hitachi, 300 MWe, BWRX-300 is a uniquely simple design and must represent the most cost-effective configuration that can be achieved. In 15 years time a single BWRX-300, costing $600 million will be able to supply all of the 24/7, low-carbon electricity to a population of 200,000 US citizens. With its EPZ at the boundary fence of its tiny site, and having a 900 MWt rating, there will be opportunities to use it as a CHP plant and supply much of the heating and hot water to buildings, to decarbonise that problem area of energy use too.

    It’s doubtful any other SMR manufacturer will be able to compete. The GE-H and their BWRX-300 may well become the Boeing Dreamliner of nuclear power.

    1. Agreed. GE has so far stayed out of the game because there is no market. If a market develops for SMR, then GE will get a big piece of it. Also, natural circulation in a BWR supports real heat rates, 10s of kw/ft, unlike a natural circulation PWR where the heat rate is limited to 1 or 2 kw/ft.

    2. Large reactors do not require an EPZ beyond the boundary fence. That was clearly proven at Fukushima. Saying otherwise tends to increase deaths by evacuation, like at Fukushima. So, EPZ is not a discriminator for either SMRs or ATF fuel vs current large reactors.

      Such discussion is just fake news advertising by demonizing existing nuclear.

      1. You are fixated on current nuclear, when in the US, the ‘current nuclear’ industry is in stasis.

        If you want to get nuclear power moving in the US, why don’t you give credit where it’s due – overnight costs of $2000/kW, which will never be attainable by current nuclear.

        There’s still expertise enough in the US to meet a boom in the political and investment adoption of SMRs. But that expertise is withering on the vine with every year of the withering of current nuclear.

    3. The NRC has waived class 1E power for the Nuscale SMR 6O MWe. The size of that design enables area to volume ratios that in turn enable passive cooling with station blackout. I doubt that’s possible at 300 MWe.

      1. “…The BWRX-300 utilizes natural circulation and passive cooling isolation condenser systems from the U.S. NRC-licensed ESBWR. Steam condensation and gravity allow the BWRX-300 to passively cool itself for 7 days without power or operator action during abnormal events including station blackout. Indefinite cooling is achieved by the simple action of water addition to the isolation condenser pools…!


      2. I just ran a calculation on the AP1000, and so far as I can determine a radiator covering the shield building roof and operating at 275°C would be able to eliminate 100% of the remaining decay heat 1 week after a shutdown from full-power operation.  You’d need to use water from that rooftop tank for additional cooling for that first week.  This would require some non-safety critical plumbing, like valves that dump steam from the steam generators to the radiators perhaps an hour after a power-off shutdown if the radiators have not indicated damage by e.g. depressurization.  This would not be hard to manage with gravity-operated valves and pneumatic interlocks, no electric power required.

        If I’m not mistaken, that puts the passive shutdown limit up to 1100 MW(e).

  11. The AP1000 has a similar passive and gravity water cooled period as I understand the design, yet it does not enjoy a class 1E power waiver from the NRC (dc power required) as the NuScale design does. This waiver must substantial impact on capital cost. The salient question then is whether the BWRX 300 can also expect that waiver, when it was not granted to the AP1000.

      1. This is fantastic. I had not heard that, and assumed with all the NuScale hype over it, that it implied they were first, but indeed we’re not according to this.

        Dies this mean that the AP1000 also eliminates the 15km/10mile EPZ as well? Fukushima proved large LWRs do not require an EPZ beyond the fence, or even at the fence, but this non-diesel status helps for the first one to eliminate the EPZ!

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