South Australia: Making money by solving "waste" problems of others 1

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  1. Concrete-and-stainless canisters ought to have a useful lifespan of centuries (particularly if buried in e.g. sand to keep them below the frost line), which is long enough for even SNF to decay to the point of being handled with gloves.  Further, the amount of higher actinides plus re-enrichable uranium is considerable.  “Out of sight, out of mind” seems silly to me, but I’m not in the target demographic for this idea.

    If SA can capitalize on other people’s psychological need for OOS,OOM then more power to them.  Then they’ll be sitting on a stockpile of driver fuel for the next generation of fast-spectrum reactors.

    1. I agree with reprocessing rather than stocking of used fuel. The customers could pay for reprocessing. It should be partitioned in following parts.
      1. Cladding and inactive materials.
      2. Uranium, the major part.
      3. Fission products. This could give important isotopes in some conditions.
      4. Transuranics including plutonium. This could form the valuable fissile component of fast reactorfuel or thorium based fuel.

      1. @Jagdish Dhall

        Recycling is a good long term option, but there isn’t much sense in pushing it before there is a profitable market for the resulting products. The used fuel gets easier to handle with each passing year. The containers are affordable, require little or no maintenance and do not take up much space.

        Surface storage will work fine and last a long time. When we’re building new nuclear plants at a pace sufficient to address some of society’s most important challenges, there will be demand for the materials that is sufficient to pay for the costs of the infrastructure investments needed to extract them from the stored, stable assemblies.

        1. Exactly, Rod. Extremely durable, secure, self-cooling, basically maintenance free casks with dose rates barely above background will/are working just fine.

  2. Australia & Alberta have a lot in common, in regards to GHG emissions and zero-nuclear power. I show climate-minded Albertans Bed Heard’s talk as it is just as pertinent here.

    Hope Australia moves ahead on this, if at least to show folks here how it can happen.

  3. There’s a soveriegn island in the Pacific with a population of 25.

    $328BN split 25 ways.

    With that much cash they could all buy another island each somewhere else.

  4. Interesting that you mention Jim Conca’s article.

    That article states that “countries having, or planning, less than five reactors, such as Argentina, South Africa and about 40 other countries, will not have sufficient waste generation, or a favorable geologic site, to justify the economic and environmental issues of developing their own repository.”

    That five reactors limit appears to be aimed at excluding countries which ARE developing their own repository, but have five or just over, reactors.
    That includes Switzerland, Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden and Belgium.
    Wonder what those “40 other countries” with less than five reactors are?
    I can think of Mexico, Slovenia and Taiwan, but not 40.
    Besides which, the volume of SNF from those countries is small, even when combined.
    Did the NFCRC ever list which countries they figured would make the business case ? (if so, I seem to have missed it).

    1. They do, it is in the consultants report (Jacobs MCM) that did the analysis on the dollar figures Rod quoted. Pages 108 to 110. You can find the report at the following link as well as all the other reports on other aspects of the fuel cycle (scroll down):

      http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/tentative-findings/

      Note that the figures that are quoted are assuming that only 50% of the inventories listed will be imported, and they do exclude countries with local storage solutions.

        1. All that matters is that the modelling, by assuming either 25%, 50% or 75% of the listed inventory is imported, takes those concerns into account.

        2. Just to add an additional comment on the inventories.

          The 50% model scenario requires 138,260 tonnes of spent fuel. If we assume that all the material in the proposed section never comes to fruition then we are left with existing inventories (Table 2.1 p.108-109). 138,360 tonnes represents 61% of that tables total inventory to 2080, in other words that 88,280 tonnes is not imported. This figure is enough to satisfy Switzerland, Belgium and some others from not exporting any spent fuel.

    2. Good point Jaro. Only 47 countries have or have had reactors, Perhaps there are a lot planning to have reactors?

  5. I should point out that the finding of nuclear power generation not being economic in SA is based on the size & location of the South Australian grid, the size of the connector to the remainder of the east coast, & the legislated grid priority of wind, solar & hydro.

    Basically South Australian wind & solar would effectively curtail ANY other generator to the extent that it would become uneconomic to operate in South Australia. The ONLY way a non renewable source could possibly be economic, would be to have it connected to 3 other state grids (as in Victoria’s case) and to be cheaper than coal, OR to be treated equally on both grid priority & subsidization to “renewables”.

    1. That was going to be the question I was going to ask.

      I’ve spent the last ~20 minutes trying to find the average cost of electricity in SA and finding that a straight answer is surprisingly difficult to come by, but as best as I can figure it seems to be somewhere in the ballpark of $0.30 AUD per kWh. Please correct me if I’m wrong there.

      Now with that in mind and combined with the large uranium reserves in the area, something like a CANDU is an absolute economic impossibility? Really? That just smelled off to me.

      But I guess if The Law mandates ‘Use solar and wind first!’ it kind of throws a wrench into the gears of what I’d consider normal thinking.

      1. Commission papers I saw indicated any alternative generator (including nuclear) would be curtailed 75% of the time with the current incentives to build renewables combined with their legislated grid priority, and the fact that Victorian brown coal across the interconnector is about $35MWh.

        Nuclear could only be economic if there was a strong desire to reduce CO2 (which was not the question asked of the evaluation)

  6. If that profit included getting used fuel from all countries, I’m skeptical. I would hope countries would be smart enough to realize that paying someone to take something that still has 97% fresh fuel might later require them to pay SA to get that material back again for future fast reactors.