Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Comments:


  1. It is a thinking error to pick out the worse case, and then conclude that all the other cases are just as bad, without any further test.

    1. Indeed:

      “The real point of this story is that nuclear power is not commercially viable but has become a state-sponsored technology. There is nothing wrong with state supported technology. But we could save a lot of time and money by not pretending that it is something else.”

      One might also observe that neither wind, solar, nor large-scale hydro are commercially viable but have become have always been state-sponsored technologies.

      There is also one’s definition of “commercially viable” and “state sponsored”. In one sense, one might regard regulated markets such as those enjoyed by South Carolina Electric and Gas and Southern Co. to be “state sponsored”. The states sponsor them that long-term investments might be made — and financed — in such a way as to assure long term supply of reasonably priced power. As the authors note, there is nothing inherently wrong with this, nor should we pretend it is anything else.

      Neither is there harm in cost-benefit analysis both vis-a-vis and in conjunction with other state-sponsored power technologies, including long-term resource management, energy independence, and climate considerations.

  2. If “commercially viable” is the standard, Hyman and Tilles would have done better to go after windmills. I recall the one WSJ article from Nov. 2014 that included cost data showing windpower was subsidized to a level about 18 times higher than nuclear. Most of those windpower subsidies were direct payments to the owners. The only “subsidies” credited to nuclear were things like DOE research programs and the like, as well as the one loan program that one project in the South (Vogtle) took advantage of.

    I’m tempted to cite the relative lack of regulatory burden as another “subsidy” for windmills, as well as natural gas, but I don’t have the data or financial model to quantify it. If others do, it would an interesting comparison

      1. Yes, I had seen those figures. What I was interested in is something like an “equivalent subsidy” that accounts for the regulatory burden that nuclear is forced to bear versus the light or non-existent regulatory burden that other energy sources enjoy. It could be quantified as a penalty (negative subsidy) for nuclear or, if an appropriate model could be developed, a positive subsidy for non-nuclear sources since they have income that isn’t sequestered by paying for the regulatory ratcheting that nuclear has to bear.

        1. @ Wayne SW
          Estimation of “equivalent subsidy” may be useful, necessary even, to the sorts of regulatory reforms envisioned by H.R. 4979, the Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Act of 2016 that Rod discussed April 30.

          However, such a document will also provide specific targets for the anti-nuclear enablers of the fossil fuels industry. I invite your attention to the Statement of Geoffrey H. Fettus, Senior Attorney
          Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
          which serves notice that ANTDA 2016 will not go unchallenged.

          Now admittedly, the legislative process can be adversarial, in no case more prominently than nuclear power regulation. Mr. Fettus’ written testimony is reasonably brief and easily read; I encourage all interested to do so to get some flavor of some specific objections the nuclear industry and low-carbon energy advocates will face.

          1. Yes, I see that. Certainly there will be formidable pushback on this initiative, just as there will be push on the continuance of the subsidies, both federal and state, for the unreliable generators. In my state alone, when the state-sponsored subsidies were expiring last year, it was pandemonium in the legislature and the media to renew those for another biennium (which they did, of course).

            We all know that meeting regulatory requirements is s significant cost factor for nuclear and I don’t want to rehash those arguments. It would be nice to have a model that quantifies them for comparison with the other energy sources. One of my first assignments when I went back to grad school was to develop a model for pollution control costs for coal-fired power plants using both sulfur dioxide scrubbers and electrostatic precipitators. Fortunately, we had a mathematical relationship between scrubber capacity and cost, so we were able to quantify the costs as a function of pollution control level. Something like that would be quite valuable in illustrating the burdens nuclear plants face in meeting increasingly strict regulatory requirements. We all know the playing field isn’t level, and the regulatory burden is a significant factor in tilting the field in favor of those who don’t bear such a burden. In a handicap race, it is always helpful to know which horse is carrying more weight, and how much.

    1. One thing that I’m sure is relevant has to do with decommissioning.

      As you may be aware, many coal mines are on public lands, & the mining company is supposed to set aside money to restore the landscape after they’re done. In practice, the Department of Interior allows most companies to be “self-bonded”, which is a fancy way of saying that they take the company’s assurance that they’re good for it. A notable instance lately was a large company which was re-certified for self-bonding, and then filed for bankruptcy only months later. Who do you suppose is going to pick up the tab?

      And now the GAO has discovered that the same is true as regards windmills & PV panels.
      RENEWABLE ENERGY: BLM Has Limited Assurance That Wind and Solar Projects Are Adequately Bonded

      1. @publius,
        Don’t bother.
        The Germans are the only who have substantial experience with decent decommissioning, etc..
        Based on their experience, their cost estimations increased towards €1billion per reactor, plus ~€1billion per reactor for the nuclear waste (which amount is considered to be too low by many in Germany).

        I doubt whether the utility funds in USA are capable to pay similar amounts?

        1. That’s right, sure, nobody but Germany has ever decommissioned a nuclear plant. Ignore the former sites (such as, say, Shippingport) in the USA which have been returned to green-field status. They don’t count.

          And ignore also the enormous pots of money US nuclear operators are required to set aside in the form of “decommissioning funds” so large as to make it attractive to shut a plant down!

        2. @Bas – from the NRC web site.
          “Before a nuclear power plant begins operations, the licensee must establish or obtain a financial mechanism – such as a trust fund or a guarantee from its parent company – to ensure there will be sufficient money to pay for the ultimate decommissioning of the facility.
          Each nuclear power plant licensee must report to the NRC every two years the status of its decommissioning funding for each reactor or share of a reactor that it owns. The report must estimate the minimum amount needed for decommissioning by using the formulas found in 10 CFR 50.75(c). Licensees may alternatively determine a site-specific funding estimate, provided that amount is greater than the generic decommissioning estimate. Although there are many factors that affect reactor decommissioning costs, generally they range from $300 million to $400 million. Approximately 70 percent of licensees are authorized to accumulate decommissioning funds over the operating life of their plants. These owners – generally traditional, rate-regulated electric utilities or indirectly regulated generation companies – are not required today to have all of the funds needed for decommissioning. The remaining licensees must provide financial assurance through other methods such as prepaid decommissioning funds and/or a surety method or guarantee. The staff performs an independent analysis of each of these reports to determine whether licensees are providing reasonable “decommissioning funding assurance” for radiological decommissioning of the reactor at the permanent termination of operation.”

          For several years I ensured that the required reports were made to the NRC. during that time I learned that this trust fund is, must be by regulations, separate from any operating monies. It can not be used for collateral/surety/guarantee/etc. for any loan etc. The NRC reviews the fund, progress in achieving full funding and the analysis reports detailing the sufficiency of the fund for satisfying all regulations to complete required decommissioning, including cost predictions.

          1. Thank you. This sounds well.

            I had the question because I vaguely remember accusations that utilities decided to decommission their NPP prematurely, so they could still get all money from the fund as it would be not sure whether there would be enough in the fund in the future.

            The only interesting but more difficult to answer question concerns the high cost difference between Germany and USA. Though employees cost more in Germany, the difference is not so much..

  3. One thing that is driving up the cost of the UK plants is non-acceptance of pre-certified designs such as the AP1000. The AP1000 UK certification should just be a difference comparison with UK vs. US regulatory requirements. Instead it has morphed into a lets pretend we don’t have a pre-certified design.

    A good way to waste a ton of money. There needs to be work done to synchronize regulations as much as possible internationally.

    1. @Jim Doyle

      There needs to be work done to synchronize regulations as much as possible internationally.

      Agreed. Regulators around the world are taking steps in this direction, but they need political support and financial resources to accomplish the effort. Please write your congressman and express your thoughts on the matter.

      1. Rod I think your idea of having a levy on nuclear generated product (heat or electrical power) would solve the issue of regulatory burden. (i’m british so looking at my country) the ONR in the UK spends about 65m GBP a year for the UK generators this could be covered by a 0.1 pence levy on every kWh produced (roughly 2% of the cost of wholesale electricity in the UK). With this policy there would be no upfront costs nullifying a lot off the costs with approving a new design for a given country (roughly 30m GBP).

  4. Why make NPPs aircraft proof? Surely a software change to aircraft is all that’s required. It must be pretty simple to program the autopilot to to cut in and fly the aircraft to a safe height, before disengaging, if it detects it is on course to hit a NPP (or any other potential terrorist target).

    Cheap and foolproof.

    1. Though it also allowed the German pilot to fly his airliner against a mountain last year (luckily he didn’t choose a NPP in the nearby Rhone valley),
      it’s safer that pilots are allowed to switch off the auto-pilot.
      They often do it for good reasons, improving their safety and that of their passengers.

      1. Well, yes, because he could set the autopilot to make the plane crash. That doesn’t make it safer. Quite the opposite!

        What I’m suggesting is an embedded piece of software/hardware that cannot be over-ridden (at least by anyone flying in the aircraft).

        In which case, there would be no way for an aircraft to be able to be crashed on purpose, and would still be disengaged by the aircraft flying to a pre-selected height or being over ridden from air traffic control.

        I cannot imagine a situation where safety would be an issue.

        What we do know is, there is a huge cost of not having such systems fitted.

        9/11 for a start?

        What is the cost of making buildings aircraft proof? A notion so ridiculous it beggars belief.

        1. You touch a long, old debate in airline circles, which ended by allowing the override. An example:

          I also do para-gliding. In flat NL we use a winch to pull us up..
          About 3 years ago a pilot caught thermals and went up, until he suddenly faced a big airliner on collision course (~500m altitude).
          Luckily the pilot saw him and made a fast turn away.

          We are not well visible on radar (nearly all is synthetic fiber). So an auto-pilot would have continued…
          In the aftermath they explained that a collision could/would have caused a crash of the big airliner. They said crashes occurred with smaller collisions…

          1. Of course there needs to be an auto pilot over ride for normal flight paths (and even most abnormal ones).

            I’m talking about very specific and well defined circumstances where someone is going to deliberately crash an aircraft into a identifiable terrorist target. Like a NPP.

            So, your objections just are not relevant to honest.

            It was a mistake for the Nuclear industry to pay the costs of making their power plants aircraft proof.

            If the aircraft industry are not willing to to make the changes to their products navigation systems, they should be forced to take out insurance to cover the costs of what happens when their planes are deliberately crashed.

            Maybe the nuclear industry wants to be seen to appease the irrational fears of the public by making their reactors bomb proof in order to curry favour?

            If they did, it’s coming back to bite them now.

            Maybe Mr Adams can shed some light on why the nuclear industry didn’t lobby harder for the aircraft industry to make the necessary changes.

            1. @benj

              Maybe Mr Adams can shed some light on why the nuclear industry didn’t lobby harder for the aircraft industry to make the necessary changes.

              For reasons that I can only begin to understand, the nuclear industry has a long running habit of accepting regulatory changes without much public squabble with the regulator. I’ve been assured that there is resistance behind the scenes, but once a change has been announced in public, the industry goes along to get along.

              I’m of the strong opinion that the nuclear industry leaders missed a key lesson in civics classes. Our legal system is fundamentally an adversarial one where both sides are expected to make their best arguments and raise objections whenever necessary. If one side does not object or resist, the other side automatically wins and establishes a precedent.

              Going along with a regulatory body in hopes of receiving fair treatment later is a losing strategy. It is bound to result in regulatory ratcheting.

          2. @benj
            Your proposal implies that the auto-pilot can override the pilot, and correct the direction even while it implies flying into a para-glider visible for the pilot, etc.
            I think we are many decades away from that situation.
            Especially since it implies that all airliners, freight planes, etc. need to have such auto-pilot and airliners last up to 60years now.

            It may become an option once cars which bring you 100% automatically to your destination are common. I hope soon as then I can continue with nice weekends in the Swiss mountains because I can sleep Friday and Sunday night, while the car drives me to/from the destination from/to home.

          3. @Rod,
            “For reasons that I can only begin to understand, the nuclear industry has a long running habit of accepting regulatory changes without much public squabble with the regulator.”
            Look into the “ratchet” effect, and how it is effectively used by the regulators. And has been for at least 40 years (and not just the NRC. The EPA and many others use it).
            Step1. A NPP has a problem, the NRC gives them a NOV, the plant cannot restart (or restart from the next outage if operating) till the problem is mitigated. Do you fight to not make the changes that are neither cost effective nor fit the NRC Cost Benefit Analysis guidance – and lose $1 (or 1/2) Million a day while the plant sits idle going to court or spend 1, 2, 3, N Million to make changes to make the NRC happy and let you operate? Seen it happen, personally, four times. Favorite time is right before fuel load. That is where the NRC perfected it.
            Step 2. The same or very similar problem occurs at another plant. Repeat step 1 for that plant.
            Step 3. After N plants (Usually less than 10) The NRC decides this is a generic problem and requires all plants to fix this non cost effective problem.
            Watch this happen, live, with the “open phase condition”
            So, the real question is, why isn’t NEI or some NPP association joining together and pushing back?
            You spoke of the need to make plants Airline crash proof. Where is the testing and Cost-benefit analysis on this? The risk analysis? If any it was done with “Worst-Case” models by “prove we need it” biased organizations. Again, where is the hardening needed for fertilizer manufacturing plants? Skyscrapers? Realistically, if a terrorist had control of an airplane would he fly it into a 100 story building filled with several thousand people or the containment building of a NPP? Many large cities have 100 story buildings today. Can you imagine the panic from 4 airplanes crashing into buildings in 4 cities?
            The president is pushing “Smart” guns. Why can’t something like this be applied all aircraft above the practicable size of the containment? Where is the push for modifying the presently installed collision avoidance system? Which would cost more? To me, all of this seems to be proposed and pushed by those that have motives other than “Safe” plant operation. Their idea of safe is shut down.
            NRC future plans SECY-14-0002

          4. “For reasons that I can only begin to understand, the nuclear industry has a long running habit of accepting regulatory changes without much public squabble with the regulator.”

            Could this be a cultural legacy of the dominance of military trained personnel during much of the history of commercial nuclear power? A culture now fixed in place by the aging workforce in the industry.

            Before anyone jumps on me for being anti-military, their discipline was also essential to safe nuclear operations.

            Having worked for three utilities over the past 34 years, they are not exactly examples of dynamic environments that you would expect to find at a silicon valley startup or even a large Fortune 500 corporation.

            On the other hand, commercial airlines also recruit pilots from the military. These industries are more sensitive to cost, however.

          5. @Bas Gresnigt

            When terrorists that arise out of oil-rich nations make statements or leave documents indicating they might be interested in attacking nuclear plants, many people tremble and impose as many new [costly] requirements on nuclear plants as they can think of.

            I interpret those “threats” much differently since none of them have ever been followed through in anything approaching a serious effort.

            They are simple, cheap, high ROI ploys to force a competitor to expend vast sums of money in equipment and people whose only effect is force plants to become less economically competitive.

          6. Bas,

            Terrorists are smart…..which is why there ISN’T a chance they would waste resources and opportunity (actually being successful in hijacking additional planes…..which is going to be VERY difficult) by crashing them into Nuclear Power Plants. Your excuse that the next terrorist leader wouldn’t want to repeat taking down skyscrapers (killing thousands more than hitting a Nuke Plant) because “that’s been done before” is beyond ridiculous.

          7. @Rod Adams

            For reasons that I can only begin to understand, the nuclear industry has a long running habit of accepting regulatory changes without much public squabble with the regulator.

            Initially all nuclear utilities were in regulated environments, in some cases either State or Federally owned. That original structure created cost “pass-through” into the approved rate base. Regulated utilities made a fixed profit, irrespective of new regulation.

            Deregulation is still the new kid on the block. It has resulted in everything from California blackouts to overly dependent power importers with promises of thrills to come.

            I saw ComEd and Illinois Power lobby for deregulation in the 1990s. A couple decades later, Exelon mulls nuclear plant closure. Much is self inflicted.

          8. I don’t know how many of you have ever actually been inside the Twin Towers and its offices as I have, but outside the pillars and elevator shafts the floors were virtually open spaces to fill with endless cubicals or what have you with only aluminum frames and lots of glass as outside walls. Some floors had firms like this where could you see sky from one window side to the other. Yet when the planes hit, very few pieces outside the engines made it plowing through floors and out the other side. I saw the smoking North tower myself and one side had the jagged rip of the impact but there was only minor damage on the other side. I don’t think the thick concrete shell of a NPP will have any problem pulverizing a careening jetliner within the first few inches. Asteroid-proof requirements next?

            James Greenidge
            Queens NY

          9. @Rob Are you implying that the average US cost to comply with the NRC mandated Fukushima mitigation regulations are about $40 Million a plant has no impact on their profit margin? All of that for a increase in safety of an event that has a barely significant impact in increasing the safety over the existing requirements. Odds similar to winning the lottery with one ticket. The NPP nearest me has to comply with a flood surge caused by the sequential failure of two dams up river resulting in the “worst case” surge, and several other changes like ability to maintain the plant with toxic fumes for several days. The wall of water would take about 12 hours from the closest dam to reach the plant. Meanwhile the fertilizer plant with several million gallon tanks of ammonia will also get wiped out and kill thousands of people and most fish throughout the course of the river till it reaches the ocean and is sufficiently diluted. Thus, like Fukushima, thousands will die of other causes. But the NRC has made it safe. I live 20 miles away and the ammonia will kill everyone this far and even farther. Not worried at all about the plant melting down or even exploding like Hiroshima. And next to the Ammonia plant is an ethanol plant with large storage tanks.

          10. Re: Rich
            May 4, 2016 at 3:08 PM
            @Rob Are you implying that the average US cost to comply with the NRC mandated Fukushima mitigation regulations are about $40 Million a plant has no impact on their profit margin?

            Wonder what our FUD-enlightened public would answer in being asked what killed more — Fukushima or Bhopal, as posed your real-life fertilizer plant situation!

            James Greenidge
            Queens NY

          11. Following the hardened vent modification (our last NRC required item) being installed during our next outage (may 2017) we will have spent 70 million on Fukushima “upgrades”.

            A plant that it 4 hours from the Pacific Ocean……

            Economically……..this is a killer. Rationally……..it’s beyond idiotic.

            The Fukushima “upgrades” should have been cheap and simple…….protect your emergency back up diesel generators from any science fiction scenario you could possibly wet dream over. Most plants this would simply mean…..WATER TIGHT DOORS!! Would this cost 70 million……..f*#k no!!

          12. At risk of committing independent interweb research, turns out googling: “nuclear power plant aircraft impact” yields a wealth of spurious information. In summary:

            Aircraft impact on nuclear power plants have been studied and incorporated to greater or lesser extent in various plant designs since US NRC “suggested” such might be considered in 1968. Investigators after 9/11 have placed the possibility of radiation release from such an accident between “highly unlikely” in the case of light-water plants not so specifically designed, and utterly impossible for plants such as those in Germany whose original design called for withstanding high-speed direct head-on impact from an F4 Phantom.

            In contrast, maximum impulse from a commercial airliner would accrue from direct-line impact of a turbofan engine on the containment. LWR containments are typically 3.5 m of nuclear-grade steel reinforced concrete, nuclear grade rebar being 6.25 cm diameter. In worst case such might result in significant damage, but would be unlikely to actually penetrate the containment. And airliner engines are roughly 16 m behind and to the side of the cockpit.

            All this entails a lot of laboratory and field testing, in addition to and in conjunction with computer simulations. Speaking of and on a lighter note and in fond remembrance of David MacKay, Rod might be amused by UK’s Dalton Nuclear Simulator. 😎

          13. @poa, Ed, Bas

            And so ends this particular off-topic thread. Any further responses will be deleted. In fact, the whole branch will disappear at the end of the day.

  5. Now do the math with “renewables.”
    First, as most reading this know, the Name Plate numbers they brag about are garbage. Yes, the average home uses about 12,000 kWhr per year or 1,000 kWhr per month or about 1.25 kW per hr. However, a 2 MW Wind Turbine does not provide power for 2 thousand homes. It only has a capacity factor of 25- 30%.
    If on an island, or not connected to the grid, the house loads must come out of that generated power. [All numbers given on EIA, etc, are for Generator output at the terminals of the generator. Generating stations have two meters, one for output and reporting such, one for input and impossible to find un less you work there.] So now we are down to 20 – 25 % usable power, when on an island!
    However, Renewables are not reliable, therefore you will need a backup source. The storage system also needs charged. That is going to use, on average, another 5% of your usable power. This is from charging the storage equipment and must be accounted for as you can only charge when the wind is blowing and odds are you will also be using power at that time. Thus, I reduced the amount be a small amount to ensure maximum capacity of the storage system. Don’t. forget, the wind turbine needs power 24/7 so that it can align itself with the wind when it does blow and is also part of the waste and another number ignored in the rosy calculations. We are now down to 15 – 20 percent usable power.
    That means you will need five 2-Megawatt wind turbines on that desert island to provide power for your 1,000 homes. But wait, those are Average numbers. Average is typically 1/2 to 1/3 of typical peak hour usage. Thus you get to double those numbers again. And that still leave you with periods of brown-outs or power curtailment. Or you can build an even larger storage system – take your choice.
    So now we need ten 2-Megawatt wind turbines on that desert island and a large storage battery system.
    Those of you that have worked with risk analysis/abatement, calculations know that once this system is tied to a grid it can be reduced and you probably do not need ten wind turbines, however, I seriously doubt that you can get it below five. Even that will require massive upgrading, almost a doubling of the present grid/transmission lines and an equal amount spent on Smarts [Computers, communication systems, sensors, controllers, breakers, transformers, capacitors, etc, etc, ] for the Smart Grid claimed to solve the problem.
    With a population of 330 million in the USA a good guess is 100 Million homes/apartments using that 1.25 kw/hr and that ignores all of the offices and factories. WWW EIA GOV has lots of good numbers. Do the math. That way you will not dismiss these facts because a minor math mistake on my part.
    Get ready for a quadrupling of your electric bill.
    Seems to me unreliables are not competitive either.

    1. It escapes me what you’re trying to establish here.

      The mania for wind & solar has been artificially stimulated by a strong propaganda, but the underlying economic case is very poor, & as a result, support will gradually & necessarily die away, until they are only used in that small proportion of instances where they do confer some advantage.

      On the other hand, fission has been artificially depressed by a comparable propaganda ; its position can only improve, because it possesses effectively all the advantages of the current dominant energy sources to a greater degree than they do, & the disadvantages to a lesser degree.

      1. What I am trying to establish here is that Renewables are an “Impossible Dream.”

        ” the underlying economic case is very poor, & as a result, support will gradually & necessarily die away,” — I sure hope so.

        When considering renewables one must consider “capacity factor” as “Loading capability.” Secondly, Renewables are actually leaching off power from the grid that they need to generate electricity, and then do not account for the use of that electricity in reporting the power they generate. They claim a 2 MW turbine will supply the power needed for 2,000 homes. Implying that it provides all the power needed. House loads alone will use the equivalent of 200 homes 24/7/365, whether the wind is blowing or not. And if that power source is not available it will never be able to generate electricity. This necessary power is never mentioned in any discussion of power needs. I use the term “leach” because it is a hidden sucking away of power.

        As I said you need to do the math. Typical daily use of electricity in the USA is 310,000,000 Megawatt hours per month or about 10,000,000 Megawatt per day. That means 400,000 Megawatts per hour. [All numbers approximate and shown for magnitude, not exactness.] Using that number and the above explanation of the number of wind turbines needed, shows that 10 times that 400,000 megawatt hours of Wind generating capacity will be needed to produce the “renewable” electricity needed to power the USA. If each wind turbine has a name plate rating of 5 MW (about the largest presently made that are reliable) that means you will 2,000,000, yes 2 Million, wind turbines. The calculation of the area of land needed and cost is left to you. Keep in mind efficiency will drop if they are to close together.

        That will cost about $2 Million per MWh (nameplate) or $400,000 Million or $400 Trillion in round numbers, before subsidies, actual cost. Now factor in the present US Government giveaway and determine how much that is going to add to the national debt, and your taxes. Wind Farm Inc. gets rich, you get poor(er).
        Yes, you can decrease this number with rooftop solar panels. However, if every roof top in the USA has one the number will only be cut by about 1/3 (to ½ in some areas like SW USA). [That quantity is based upon the assumption that there about 100 million homes and the average area of the south facing roofs.] Worse, the Capacity factors are all based upon the fact that existing wind installations are in the best areas. Less than 1/3 of the USA has optimum wind conditions for Wind Turbines. Wind potential maps are on the internet.
        As I said the math does not support this endeavor and convinces me there is an ulterior motive.

        All quantities/costs/assumptions are based data provided by EIA and are rounded for simplicity only.

        1. German scientists checked by due diligence research from well known international consultancy firms, did the math for Germany in the nineties.

          Conclusion; 80% renewable against insignificant costs if a 50 years scenario is followed. So since 2000 Energiewende scenario, targeting 80% renewable in 2050.
          Germany has 7x higher population density, far less insolation and less wind than USA.

          Last year French government institute ADEME did similar math and concluded that 80% renewable is the cheapest option for the 2050 situation: http://mixenr.ademe.fr/en (you can play with results).

          1. @Bas Gresnigt

            Your comment would mean more if the people doing the due diligence were engineers specializing in electrical power generation, transmission and distribution.

            I couldn’t care less what a group of unidentified scientists concluded 20 years ago.

          2. @Bas
            Please explain this for me. Have I made a math error?

            From Data on Wikipedia the annual average Capacity Factor for the Wind Turbines in Germany are: 2012 – !8.5%, 2013 – 17,22% & 2014 – 16,7%. “The Windpower Net” website indicates that Germany presently has installed 45 Gw of wind turbine facilities in Germany, and further claims that this has the potential of providing 1/3 of the electrical needs of Germany. [The 1/3 number comes from Name Plate Capacity. Name plate is Maximum theoretical output. not average, not typical and rarely achieved.]

            How is this possible? Even if you assume 20% capacity factor that only gives you an average of 9 Gwhr /per hour or about 7% of the average annual needed electricity.
            Now, don’t forget to subtract the “Leach Factor” of all power generating facilities. To assume it is only 5% of Name Plate is extremely optimistic, usually closer to 10%. Wind turbines are sucking electricity off of the grid 24/7/365. The power is need to operate the system that make the Wind turbine function and to communicate with the dispatcher. The Wind turbine cannot position itself into the wind without this power. Thus, you need to subtract 5% of 45 GWHR or about 2 Gwhr needed 24/7/365 to make that 9 GWHr leaving you with 7.

            How is 7 GWhr average annually worth a cost to the German economy of $2 Million (USD) per MWhr Name Plate installed or about $90 Billion dollars (US)?
            How does this work? 90 Billion dollars is at least 15 Nuclear Power Plants that produce Zero CO2, do not burn compressed peat moss (brown coal) and generate 15 GWHr 24/7/350 (15 days outage per year average) not 7 GWHr.

            How much did those peat burners cost Germany? There is at least another few NPPs. Are you trying to reduce CO2 or make the Greens Rich?

        2. And?
          I’ve done that math, or a simplified version in any case. The results don’t impress me. Roughly one Hoover Dam for every gigawatt of baseload. And what do you do in a dry year, like they’re having in Venezuela now, & there just plain isn’t enough water behind the dams?

          To try to implement solar-&-wind as the power sources for the developed world would require a level of effort on the scale of a new Panama Canal every year for a century. In practice, if such a project were begun, it would be abandoned soon after — as we see in Germany, where the Energiewende rhetoric has proven to mean going back to coal, but greenwashed via wind & solar installations, resulting in a retail electricity price double or higher what they were paying before. And there will not be wanting those who call the curtailment of demand owing to that price hike a positive step!
          This most basic consideration has not deterred the advocates of such a course of action, nor will it.

          1. @publius.

            “Roughly one Hoover Dam for every half gigawatt of baseload.”

            Fixed it for ya. And falling water levels (due to drought) have reduced head and resulted in Hoover being de-rated to 1.6 GW. Total it up, and in recent years the four lower Colorado River dams — Hoover, Glen Canyon, Davis, and Parker — have combined for about 3.17 GW capacity and 8.71 TWh/yr. While at 2.24 GW capacity, Diablo Canyon has barely been able to eke out 17.1.

  6. The difference is that Mycle opposite to you is very deceptive, as he claims, and can fool many unaware people, to present an objective situation.

    I sure hope that you wont be proven to be wrong as frequently and as strongly as Mycle, in 1981 he was already claiming that French nuclear was on the verge of failure given the delays with Fessenheim and the other early reactors, and at the end of the 90’s that Sweden was going to shut all of it’s reactors within a very short time frame.

  7. Condemning nuclear energy because of capital raising challenges …
    Quite right!
    But the investment of £24.5Billion (EU accountants corrected UK government) is not the issue. The many subsidies are. Just one:

    The inflation corrected guaranteed price of now £101/MWh ($140) for all produced power during 35years of production.

    The av. whole sale price in UK was £42/MWh ($60) in 2015 and expected to decrease.
    So it’s a subsidy of ~$80/MWh produced, which is expected to increase in coming decades.

    1. The whole deal is ludicrous because it’s predicated on 10% capital charge. The maths will never make sense, for that reason alone.

      1. Since UK government contributes a £10Billion loan guarantee and the Chinese take a 33% share, EDF needs only to invest £6.5Billion. Most of which they need to lend.
        But apparently have great difficulty to find a willing bank or other.

        So I don’t think that 10% (how do you know that number?) is ludicrous as apparently banks conclude that it’s an high risk loan.

        1. ‘ Si el banquero dice que sí, si el banquero dice que no,
          ¿Quien contrae su orden’? es lo que pregunto yo ‘
          Usually it’s Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and the City of London that the left accuse of trying to wreck the planet so they can upgrade their private jets, but as soon as the bankers show reluctance to put money in nuclear, they’re oracles of wisdom. Saying which, the same UK government that would rather have the French and Chinese governments build its power plants for it, is still keen on spending about the same amount on replacing it’s four Trident missile submarines. And the Koreans are building four reactors ( 175% of Hinkley’s projected output ) in the United Arab Emirates for a similar price.

          1. So, may be UK should start negotiations with the Koreans or Chinese, as chance is now ~75% that the deal won’t go on. Two factors:

            1. Chance ~60% that the EU high court judge that the Hinkley deal infringes the free competition rules, overruling the EU commission decision.
            Btw. It’s somewhat ironic that these free competition rules were initiated by UK (Margeret Thatcher).

            2. Some chance that EDF decides to stop the project anyway. Repeatedly postponing a decision, as EDF did, is usually a bad sign.

            When a financial analyst of the London city called the Hinkley deal insane, I tried to follow the response of other analysts as such expression is outrageous.. But nobody reacted. Apparently the others couldn’t find the figures to slam him down…

            The biggest risk may be that a new government in e.g. 2030 will tear the deal using some labored arguments in order to stop paying the then ~£100/MWh subsidy.

          2. @ Bas Grisnigt
            “The biggest risk may be that a new government in e.g. 2030 will tear the deal using some labored arguments in order to stop paying the then ~£100/MWh subsidy.”

            As a nit, £100/MWh cfd strike price is not the cost of subsidy. It might not represent subsidy at all, though that is TBD.

            As another, the risk that a new government in e.g. 2030 will tear the deal using whatever argument is precisely why these things are structured with loan guarantees. IIRC, UK government will foot loans up to ~18 billion GBP, charging EDF 2.95% interest for the honor. EDF is on the hook to repay those loaned sums to HMG. The amount of loan subsidy becomes the difference between the 2.95% and fair market value for the loans, which as you point out is might not be negligible.

            Here in US at VS Summer, SCE&G decided the government loan guarantee too expensive and went with private financing for their two AP1000. At Vogtle, Southern Co/Georgia Power were (eventually) able to negotiate a government guarantee to their satisfaction, and went with that.

            US is not UK and AP1000 is not EPR, so your mileage will vary. But that’s the concept: EDF or Southern are on the hook to repay those loans — unless the governments default on their end of the deal. In the case of UK, that means honoring that agreed upon £100/MWh inflation-adjusted cfd strike price for 35 years.

            If HMG reneges on that, EDF doesn’t repay the loans. That doesn’t preclude re-negotiation, but does put EDF in position to negotiate.

            That is — as you also point out — if EDF and their Chinese backers decide £100/MWh inflation-adjusted cfd strike price for 35 years represents fair value to them, and decide to go ahead with this. UK has made quite clear that this is their best and final offer. It’s agreed upon and HMG will honor it. But if it is not good enough for EDF, as you also observe, unlike five years ago UK now has other options — EPR is no longer the only game in town with f’rinstance Hitachi-GE ABWR planned for Wylfa Newydd and Oldbury-on-Severn, and Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 at Moorside.

            I don’t know what will be the financial arrangements for those projects, though one might guess them to be somewhat less generous than at Hinkley Point C. I see today that China’s CAP1400 has passed IAEA’s Generic Reactor Design Review, and of course China is also preparing Hualong One for export.

            Westinghouse CEO Danny Roderick appears confident that even with EDF’s head start at Hinkley Point C, his Moorside AP1000 units will complete first. We shall see. So will the Chinese.

  8. Mycle Schneider is an odd one: lauded by the anti-nuclear movement as an expert, but no evidence of any university education at all. His education background is a blank.

  9. We have perfectly good plants being shutdown and decommissioned due to economics.
    Kewaunee and Vermont Yankee already went away. Entergy speaks of the impending demise of Fitzpatrick and Pilgrim. Clinton gets its annual reprieve from the Exelon executioner.

    That’s about all the facts the authors needed to print. These events suggest that in deregulated states, nuclear is losing the battle of economics.

    Opinions vary, but facts are indisputable.

  10. Discovered this interesting interactive map. http://www.eia.gov/state/maps.cfm

    Click on “Layers/Legend” then clear all except biomass. Seems the EPA is worried about all of the bad stuff in coal but look at where all of the Biomass facilities are. Why.? What health effects do they have? Doe they have scrubbers, precipitators, etc? Does this map include the fact that ethanol producing facilities burn their own waste?

Recent Comments from our Readers

  1. Avatar
  2. Avatar
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

Similar Posts