30 Comments

    1. Hinckley Point is great news.  Now if the UK inks a deal with GE to build a couple S-PRISMs to burn Sellafield’s plutonium, that’ll be another green shoot in nuclear’s flower bed.

      1. I would love to see this happen! A western country building a Gen-IV reactor would be a great step forward.

      2. @Engineer-Poet

        I agree, but….

        The biggest signal for me if GE was willing to actually install S-PRISMs would be that they’re ready to challenge their own wind and gas turbine business in favor of Generation 4 Nuclear opportunities. I’m not sure they’re there yet.

        I worry instead, that they will tend to use their leadership in liquid metal fast breeders to slow things down in order to milk their turbine opportunities for yet another half decade or longer.

        They have some real cash cows that they won’t be so eager to lose.

        1. John Chatelle
          October 21, 2013 at 12:41 PM
          They have some real cash cows that they won’t be so eager to lose.

          Speaking of cows, and I kid you not, I heard over the radio that some Argentine firm is going to try to harvest “bovine flatulence” for power. Bull fart! And Greens are running to support them to help cancel their nuclear program! Can’t dream this up!

          1. Nuclear heat can take the effluent from anaerobic digestion and convert the remaining organics into light gases.  This is called Supercritical Water Gasification, and requires temperatures around 700°C.  Doing this with wastewater eliminates both pathogens and most of the remaining biological oxygen demand, so the liquid product (which still contains all of the phosphorus) can be spread on farmland without risk to consumers of crops or from runoff into streams.

        2. GE is in a race with the Russians for fast-spectrum reactors.  I don’t think they’d rest on their laurels, not when the nuclear division and the wind division probably have no common management below the CEO.

          1. @Engineer-Poet

            In any large corporation, divisions compete for resources. It is not difficult to see that GE’s nuclear division is losing the battle for marketing resources compared to its wind division. I have a recording of their common manager – Jeff Immelt – describing to the American Nuclear Society how he wanted to get rid of the nuclear division when he first took over. I listened to the same man speak last week at the OPEC Embargo +40 Summit; he could not stop gushing about natural gas. GE not only sells gas turbines, but it sells a LOT of drilling equipment and loves the fact that fracked wells require quite a bit more drilling equipment than conventional gas wells.

            He talked a little about nuclear – but as a distant future power source option that must be kept open.

        3. If that is the case they will lose to the russians and the chinese. One BN-800 in Russia, two in China.

          Russia is already taking the first steps into a western country with the finish deal.

  1. If only Duke would have asked for external help for Crystal River … No let’s screw things up ourselves.

    What they planned to do had been done succesfully by dozens with outside help.

    1. It was Progress Energy back then. There was a great article in a Florida paper a week or so ago. Maybe I’ll look for a link. It rehashed the whole fiasco. Trying to save $25 million (or something like that) by doing it yourself and using inexperienced people, ignoring your own engineers, … and in the end throwing a multi-billion dollar machine in the garbage.

  2. And Bruce Power us the biggest in terms of opérating capacity.

    Until Japan ré opens the biggest plant on the planet.

  3. There’s much more to Hinkley than a strike price (at twice the cost of average market rate for electricity). There’s also low cost federal loan covering 65% the cost of construction. And decision is still pending with European Commission on state aid rules (which could take some 9 to 12 months).

    Czechs are also looking at the same. Domestic retirements, rising consumption, shrinking share of electricity for export, and strike price 220% the cost of export power for next-year delivery. As one analyst put it:

    “The problem with nuclear power is it lacks flexibility,” UBS’s Hummel said. “It’s the dinosaur in the energy system. It just doesn’t fit in the future energy mix.”

    If the cost of stable baseload at peak capacity factors runs some 200% the market rate (plus subsidized lower financing costs), what’s the cost of operating a plant on a more flexible and load following basis, or advanced Gen IV reactors (including costs for development of new fuel cycles). Is nuclear even trying to compete with natural gas, or is it just holding it’s own and protecting it’s existing market share in a rapidly changing and shifting energy marketplace (and with a big ask from governments and consumers in the process)?

    1. Gas isn’t that cheap in Europe, only slightly less expensive than oil at ~$11/mbtu… In a 55% efficient CCGT that comes out to about 6.6c/KWh just for fuel. It’s slightly cheaper in Britain, but the North Sea field is in pretty rapid decline production-wise so that wont be for much longer. The wholesale market in Britain is probably manipulated by renewable FITs/RPS anyway just like everywhere else…

      Remember, it won’t be done until 2023, so you also have to factor in about ten years of 2-3% inflation… I do wish they could get the costs down though. The Koreans are doing 2 1400MW reactors at the hanul plant for about $7 billion, or $2.5 per watt, and Korea isn’t a low-wage country anymore either, In terms of GDP-PPP per head it’s already ahead of Spain and Italy, the UK isn’t that far behind. The west really needs to get it’s head out of it’s rear.

      Even so, over a 60-year life @ 90% CF, they’ll produce about 1,500,000 GWh of electricity in their lifetime… $23b/1,682,000 = $0.015 per KWh true capital cost. At ~90% CF they’ll produce about 25,000 GWh per year, which is more than all of Britains windmills and solar panels combined did in 2012.

      1. “..$0.015 per KWh true capital cost.”

        I was wondering about the “economies of scale” that is put forward as the reason for preference for larger plants. Maybe there are some figures already available, but I did my own calculations, based on the projected costs for the Galena, Alaska, 4S project. The 10 MW unit was pegged at $20-30 Million, so I used the upper figure, and based on a continuous supply of 5 KW to each of 2000 homes, for 30 years, I came up with 1.2 cents/KW. That would be $15,000 for each home, and amortised over 30 years at 5%, that would be about $80 a month. Ongoing costs would be much lower, as manpower requirements are minimal, and no refuelling required. Maybe this is a simplistic and unrealistic comparison, but it makes me wonder (yes, call me cynical), but doesn’t this suggest that the bigger units are favoured because they are a make-work project that the Government, unions, engineering professionals, construction companies, would all much prefer? It is a quandary I suppose that cheap, clean, reliable power could put a great many people out of work. Don’t get me wrong, I think what they have done at Bruce is wonderful, and demonstrates just what can be achieved by a co-operative effort, and some very smart, dedicated people, and close to large population centres maybe big is the way to go, but surely the SMRs are not being given a chance to demonstrate their practicality in less densely populated situations?

      2. @ZachF

        A barrel of oil contains approximately 5.6 million BTUs of heat. Therefore, the current Brent price of $109 per barrel is equivalent to $19.50 per MMBTU without considering any refining costs. Even in Europe, there is a higher than historic spread in price between an MMBTU from natural gas and one from oil.

    2. @EL

      You wrote:

      Is nuclear even trying to compete with natural gas, or is it just holding it’s own and protecting it’s existing market share in a rapidly changing and shifting energy marketplace (and with a big ask from governments and consumers in the process)?

      Terrific question and one of the many reasons I have transitioned from being a nuclear industry employee to being an independent writer and consultant.

      As has been discussed many times in this forum, there is no “nuclear industry” that is separate from the established energy industry — not yet, anyway. The current players do not have any intention to aggressive compete on a price basis, they like high energy prices and do not want to do anything that will disrupt their current business models. They will get involved in nuclear energy, but only if the prices are relatively close to those of existing options and if the government supports those prices in the name of energy security or low emissions.

      Nuclear energy based on actinide fission has the technical potential to be as disruptive to the energy business as the development of the integrate circuit was to the mainframe computer business. The establishment does not like to be disturbed and will work hard to protect its existing business models.

  4. The Hanul NPP in Korea though will be bigger than the K-K in Japan in once it gets it two new APR-1400s… 8.6GW! ~70,000 GWh of clean annual generation, that’s almost right up there with the Itaipu and Three Gorges Dam, or equal to all the solar panels and windmills in Germany combined!

  5. Bradford for Vermont Law whatever is miffed at UK Hinxkley.

    Subsidized at 92.5. A rip off.

    Does not address wind and solar at 125 and 135.

    Economic energy expert ? In your lemonade stand dreams only.

  6. Remember that the UK is run by a incompetent fascist government with home grown nuke power destroyed by successive Fascist governments starting with Thatcher.

    Swiss bankers are skittish about nukes after the Krauts condemned tens of thousands of citizens annually to horrible deaths replacing its nuke plants with coal without compensation for the nuke providers, solely to gain Green party political support.

    Note that Areva in the China will have finished next year the same first of kind EPR plants proposed for England at a a cost of $3B/GW, the same cost Areva quoted for Ontario in 2009, and a third the cost assumed for Hinkley. First of kind AP1000 nukes will be finished next year in China as well at the same cost which works out to 3 cents a kwh.

    In the US the VC Summer AP1000 nuke project is 50% complete, at cost of $4.5B /Gw 4 cents a kwh if built by public power operator TVA or 7 cents a kwh in the hands of its private operator with higher finance cost. That 7 cents is lower than the 8 cents gas costs despite its current price at less than half the cost of production.

    All 7 Candu’s built in the decade to 2007 were built at $2B/GW on time and on budget as where all Japanese ABWR’s in that timeframe.

    There are hundreds of nukes under construction and engineering stages at costs consistent with those above.

    A publicly owned and operated revival in England – the pre Thatcher Central Generation utility like Hydro Quebec – would build nuclear plants at a third the cost per KWh as the Fascist strike deal. Between idiotic austerian economics and third world industrial capabilty the UK voter is getting the well deserved shaft for its support of fascist governance.

    Western European nuke construction is an outlier.

  7. Rod. Thanks for teaching something about Bruce. I recently wrote about how Ontario has a better energy model than Germany. I now have a better explanation why? It’s nice to know the actual numbers. This proves the myth false that NPPs cannot load follow. 2400 MW variability is admirable.

    1. However redirecting steam is not the ideal way to vary output. But it works. Do you know which new designs have control of variable output?

      1. Pretty much all of the new reactors are designed for easier, more economical load following in one way or another. I don’t know a ton about the EPR or APWR, but I know ESBWR can load follow well and (Working for Westinghouse) that the AP1000 is very adept at load follow. It can do most load following without stepping any traditional control rods (it uses Tungsten gray rods in the M-SHIM system) or modifying boron. It can handle a full load rejection without tripping and can do this over 90% of the fuel’s life. It was designed with the future (unreliable) energy markets in mind.

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    Renewables people are masters in marketing. Unreliable intermittent generators whose output is all over the place, and usually badly correlated…

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