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    1. @E-P

      Vermont Yankee is no longer an option. Its operating license has already been modified to a possession-only license. The only available process for obtaining the required operating license is starting over again with a new process. A plant designed with 1960s technologies cannot meet today’s licensing requirements, so that is a non starter.

      On the other hand, the Vermont Yankee site is in a favorable grid location for VY II. A 12 unit NuScale plant would be a near 1 for 1 replacement for VY’s 620 MWe output. I’ve visited the site; there is plenty of room there for such a project.

      1. The only available process for obtaining the required operating license is starting over again with a new process.

        That’s a process, a bunch of marks on pieces of paper.  It’s much easier to replace paper than a hard, physical asset with at least 20 years of useful life remaining.

        If we really had an environmental emergency (the emergency the climate science community insists we truly have), would paper stand in the way of restarting VY?

        the Vermont Yankee site is in a favorable grid location for VY II. A 12 unit NuScale plant would be a near 1 for 1 replacement for VY’s 620 MWe output.

        The river’s ability to handle waste heat was already a limit for VY on hot days.

        If the paperwork limits on staffing can be properly reduced for walk-away safe units like NuScale, there’s no particular reason to put a whole bunch of units at a single site.  I’d have to run some numbers but I’m sure it wouldn’t take more than 2-3 NuScales to both light and heat Burlington and South Burlington with steam.  Rutland, Barre, Essex, Colchester, Bennington, Brattleboro and Milton, one each (with lots of excess).  That’s 9-10, with another 2-3 for other possible sites before rounding out the dozen.

        When the paper is made consistent with the physics, we will do great things.

        1. @E-P

          Would that it was so easy. The Standard Review Plan for obtaining an operating license is more than just a bunch of marks on pieces of paper, but even if you want to count it that way, it is a densely packed bunch of marks on about 4,600 pages of paper.

          Vermont Yankee has an array of cooling towers that enable it to operate at full power, even during the summer months. That means that the site is fully capable of supporting a 12 unit NuScale facility; it’s waste heat product would be virtually identical to that of VY I.

          There are several economic reasons why 12 units on a single site that is already wired and provided with cooling water for a power plant of roughly equal output.

          Even if reactors are “walk away safe” they still need operators and maintenance staffs where shared training, watch rotations, etc. benefit by colocation.
          Even if reactors are “walk away safe” and designed with security in mind, a single unit will still need about the same security staff as a multi-unit site.
          Part of the NuScale walk away safe design is provided by an enormous tank of cooling water that all of the modules share. A much smaller tank will be needed for single units, but it’s not clear to me how much smaller the tank will be. Per gallon of water held, smaller tanks cost more than larger tanks.

          There are certainly ways to alter existing rules, but it is going to be a lengthy, contentious process that will most likely take too long to enable VY I to be restored to service. Again, under current rules, it’s remaining licensing period is ticking away even though the plant is shutdown.

          1. The Standard Review Plan for obtaining an operating license is more than just a bunch of marks on pieces of paper

            You misunderstand my intent.  VY is more or less in operable condition by the terms of its original license.  How much paper would be involved in a process which boils down to “this plant meets the conditions of its original operating license, which is hereby re-instated”?  All this requires is that NRC inspectors sign off on the work they signed off on when it was coming back from any other shutdown.

            Vermont Yankee has an array of cooling towers that enable it to operate at full power, even during the summer months.

            I understand that some of them fell down, because they were seldom used and maintenance was neglected.

            Even if reactors are “walk away safe” they still need operators and maintenance staffs

            Do they really need operators?  Gas-turbine plants often have no staff on site.  A NuScale doesn’t even need fuel delivery, why would you need a staffed control room at the unit?  The control room is at the other end of a wire with several intervening walls anyway; little changes if it’s a fiber-optic cable to someplace elsewhere in the state.

            Burlington and Colchester are neighbors; Montpelier is less than 30 miles away.  Brattleboro and Bennington are also maybe 30 miles apart.  The maintenance staff could easily be shared between a number of distinct units spread across such small distances.

            a single unit will still need about the same security staff as a multi-unit site.

            A walk-away safe unit in a well-alarmed vault can use the normal police force.  There’s nothing that intruders could do that could endanger the public, so no hazard requiring greater security.

            Part of the NuScale walk away safe design is provided by an enormous tank of cooling water that all of the modules share.

            A single-unit plant would have a 2-bay tank, to allow for one operating and one being changed in/out.  What you lose in concrete, you gain in ability to sell steam for heat as well as electric power.  Vermonters could have carbon-free everything AND their ridgelines too.

            under current rules, it’s remaining licensing period is ticking away even though the plant is shutdown.

            Other plants are seeking license extensions to 80 years, no reason VY couldn’t do the same if it remained in good condition.

        2. I like your phrasing on the climate change emergency angle. Maybe the thing to do would be to turn the focus on the NRC and the regulatory morass that is seemingly the major obstacle to entry of new technology into the effort to mitigate climate change (i.e., new nuclear units). Use the reasoning that poster Engineer-Poet suggests: if you really believe there is an environmental emergency, one effective way to deal with it would be to reduce the regulatory burden that is hobbling the one industry that is ready to go and do something about it in a significant manner. If that means making it easier to restart shuttered plants, go that way. If it means making the burden lighter on multi-unit plants with smaller capacity modules, do that. It may take time, but probably less than building very large units, and the time could be shortened if significant political pressure were brought to bear, because there seems to be considerable inertia on the climate change “fight”. Whether it is happening or not, whether it is man-made or not, people seem to believe it. Maybe we can turn that to our favor, at least in terms of cutting through some of the regulatory logjam.

          1. It seems to me that this country is largely headed towards putting all its’ “eggs in one basket.” I refer, of course to the tendency to replace aging coal and nuclear plants with natural gas. I do see a lot of advantages to this as long as there is adequate supply at a favorable price. However, I think the owners and operators of today’s utilities would want greater diversification to ensure that their customers always have a ready supply of electricity. In addition to physical security, economic securities of various regions should also be considered. Otherwise, the owners of the utilities and their customers may find themselves slapped by Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

          2. Really? You’re okay with the 462 tons Co2eq/GWhr released, on average, by gas-fired plants. That is totally uncontained release to the biosphere, nothing done to sequester it, no way to re-use it. That doesn’t sound very environmentally-friendly.

        3. I agree with Rod that by the letter of the law once you turn in your license you have to apply for a new one which would be judged by the new rules.

          However, logically you should be able to just prove that the plant is as good as it was when it was previously licensed.

          Two precedents might support this logic. Watts Bar Unit 2 continued their 30+ year old construction permit and is being allowed to start the plant up under those rules.

          TVA was also for a time proceeding with the completion of Bellefonte which had turned in their construction permit. I don’t know the exact details but they were not going to be required to license the plant to the same standards as new construction. TVA decided to suspend the program but the I believe there is some precedent that may be useful in restart of a unit which has turned in its license.

      2. Replacing a paid off, operating plant with a debt laden first of a kind plant under construction might not pass the bean counter sanity test.
        Speaking of non-starters.

        Simply put, the economics of the grid is closing power plants. Cheap natural gas, subsidized wind, and lower industrial and residential load growth are working together to make nuclear unprofitable. Regulated states do much better. But deregulation was a bust.

        1. @Rob

          Who said anything about an FOAK project? NuScale already has UAMPS lined up for that plus a growing list of “once it’s proven” customers who are keenly interested.

          I don’t expect my proposal to be accepted anytime in the near future, but the site isn’t going anywhere. The power needs continue and time will expose the weakness of the other alternatives.

  1. Engineer-Poet:

    I am in favor of small modular reactors: I think they can be the salvation of the world. I think that counts as “in favor.” 😉

    However, here and now, there’s a big infrastructure (switch yard etc) adjacent to the VY site, transmission lines are already built, and there is very serious talk and negotiations about putting a natural gas plant there. A set of modular reactors would take advantage of the existing situation. They would be good for the town, the atmosphere, and the local grid.

    About the river. Indeed, VY had cooling towers: they were effective, small and modular. Even adding another set of cooling tower cells to protect the river would not be show-stopper about cost. In other words, we could have a concentrated power source in Vernon, Vermont, and it would be great if it were a nuclear source.

    In later decades, the grid could transform to smaller sources. But for right now, it would be good to use the existing infrastructure, and have nuclear instead of gas. I am in favor of doing this in any way that nuclear could be arranged.

    OT. Thank you for your very helpful comment on my blog post about wind.

  2. Engineer Poet

    Indeed, one cell at a cooling tower fell down. It was scheduled for maintenance about a month later, but that was a bit too long. The cooling towers were not “neglected.” Wooden towers are hard to inspect, and you don’t want to take them offline in the summer. Obviously, the maintenance protocol should have been more aggressive, not waiting till summer’s end, I guess. But they weren’t “neglected.” That bothers me. The opponents sure made hay with that very visible failure, though the plant didn’t even have to go offline.

    I have visited a CCGT plant. It doesn’t have MUCH staff, just a few people, but there is staff on site while it is running.

    1. CCGTs are usually much bigger than a NuScale.  It’s the standby peaking OCGTs which may have no staff on site; they are controlled remotely.

      I’m proposing the nuclear equivalent of a municipal CHP plant.  Many large building complexes and university campuses have central heating plants.  They have staff but I understand that only guards and skeleton monitoring crews work overnight.  Everyone else works days.  If the bulk of the 24/7 management is done from a central location overseeing a couple dozen units, the cost per MWh could be lower than current plants.

  3. There are several reason to maintain a staff…even one operator (though two for OSHA regs)…I’ve not only worked at a CCGT, I’ve been on the start up crew of a huge one in Texas. The turbine/generator sets need to be watched. Not constantly, but often enough, to make sure *before* an alarm comes in, that bearings are cool, oil is following, filters not clogging, etc. After a shutdown, the turning gear has to be checked to make sure it is working or you WILL get a bow in the shaft…while some areo derivative units don’t need turning gears, proper cool down still needs to be inspected.

    1. You can do a lot of that stuff with data loggers, flow and pressure meters and whatnot, and I’d bet that that’s exactly how it’s done in practice.  If I’m logging the temperature of a bearing and the oil flow and pressure drop across its filter, I can spot trends before they become problems.  I can even write software to raise flags before they rise to alarm levels.  Heck, I can do this on a PLC that’s not even a “real” computer.

      How long does it take for a bow to develop in a shaft?  How big does a turbine need to be before it’s a problem (NuScale is ~50 MW)?  Can you simply roll the shaft 180° and reverse it?  I bet that sort of thing makes the difference between needing to have staff on duty, or having staff on call.  Huge difference in staffing cost.

      I once converted code to control the clutch on a manual heavy-truck transmission.  I’m sure this stuff is solvable if people really want it solved.  You can even provide item-by-item demonstration that the system requirements are satisfied by the systems; been there, done that.

      1. I know an operator at a large turbine generator installation (gas). He told me the staff is 34 persons. A comparable nuke would have a staff of up to or more than a 1000 persons. Recently, I’ve been working at sites next to small turbine peakers. There is nobody there. They can be started remotely, but it is good for an operator to give it a walk through first. Certainly, the same parameters observed locally by an operator may be sent to a central dispatcher. SCADA can handle it.

      2. I have dealt with bowed rotors before on a ~1000Mwe BWR with a GE Turbine Generator. The Turbine has an Eccentricity monitor on it. If the generator comes off the Turning Gear (warm oil with too many lift pumps or too much shell / chest warming steam can cause that) it may bow the rotor. This is from a small amount of gland seal steam rising to the top of the turbine casing (heat expands metal) while the bottom of the LP turbine is at Main Condenser Vacuum Tsat, MUCH colder.
        The bow is oddly in the upward direction.
        To get the bow out, we simply roll the Turbine with the heat applied, the Turning Gear will do. Over a course of about four hours the Eccentricity pen will reduce its swing and stabilize. I’ve also seen a low speed selected on EHC and the turbine rolled with steam – monitoring Turbine Bearing vibration. You have to make sure there’s no rubbing, which is not subtle. Vibes will start out high near the alarm and subside over time.
        I’m sure a PLC can figure it out. Computers are smart.

  4. I don’t quite understand why Vermont didn’t start a program to encourage people to put more solar on rooftops. Vermont is more south than Germany.

    If that is done by most people, rooftop will produce all electricity needed.
    Adding storage capacity, incl. Power to Gas, in the next decade will solve the remaining winter problem at ~2030. The CCGT plant can then switch to burning the renewable gas.

    Many MW-scale P-t-G trials in Gsrmany now. Even Netherlands will get a 8MW Power to Gas plant in 2018.

    The NuScale units are still in the development phase and won’t be operational before 2030.

    1. No one believes we can operate 100 MW foundries because their neighbors put sunshine panels on their rooftops. That being said, Everyone *does* love sunshine because it just seems so innocuous. It just *feels* so nice on your face on an early spring day, and that is why it is pushed as an alternative to “hard” realities to high power density systems, and systems that *can* supply power to 100 MW Foundries. At this point you aren’t fooling anyone whom likes to think about Energy. You should be more alert to your audience.

  5. Last year the German aluminum melters competed the last Dutch melter off the market because they run their melters only in the hours the German wholesale electricity price is very low (1cent/KWh or so).

    Those extreme low electricity prices are caused by the excessive production of PV-solar & wind turbines in Germany when the sun shines & the wind blows….

    I don’t see why that wouldn’t work in Vermont?
    Thought that the New England region also has an wholesale market, though less sophisticated and free than the markets in Germany and most other countries in north-west continental Europe, it should work their too.

    100MW solar power is of course not much. When most Vermonters cover the roofs with pv-panels, we talk about several GW.

      1. Furthermore, in Germany, electricity prices to industrial customers are partially subsidized by higher residential electricity prices (even more than the “buying in bulk” discount normally would be). So in a sense, they are artificially lower than what they would be in other countries with similar generation portfolios.

        1. @Brian,
          There is no such subsidy for industrial customers.
          It’s against the EU free competition rules.
          Violating those rules generate real big fines from the EU (up to 10% of the turn-over of the holding company. More if the crime is repeated).

          Few years ago Germany got a detailed EU competition investigation because others (competitors) accused Germany of measures which resulted in some kind of subsidy such as artificial low electricity prices for big industrial customers.

          The investigation didn’t find any confirmation, though the EU investigators recommended some measures in order to make things more transparent. Germany implemented those recommendations.

          Same EU competition rules are a main cause for the delay of Hinkley C.
          Though the EU board approved the investment, Austria and some utilities (as well as green organizations) went to the EU high Court with the argument that the EU board decision was against the EU rules (the NPP gets substantial subsidies, which is forbidden) hence the decision should be destroyed.
          That implies that the situation at Hinkley has to be reset to the situation before any action regarding the new NPP took place..

          1. There is no such subsidy for industrial customers.

            Bas – What nonsense! For example, big industrial consumers in Germany are largely exempted from paying the renewables surcharge on electricity (EEG-Umlage).

            Is your entire purpose here to tell lies? Because that’s all you do.

          2. @Brian,
            You formulated the core of the competition complaint to the EU which started the research into the German situation few years ago.

            That investigation didn’t deliver that Germany broke the free competition rules, but the EU made some recommendations which Germany implemented.

            One was to increase the special (somewhat complicated) energy tax which industry has to pay (and consumers not).

            The situation is somewhat complicated as the Energiewende is created to protect the consumers only (primarily against radiation, furthermore against the hazards fossil fuel). The employees of the industry pay already. So why let only them pay twice as their job will be lost when their employer again has to pay the full levy.

          3. Bas – That’s a lot of nonsense you wrote in an attempt to dodge the fact that I was right, you were wrong, and you told a big fat lie.

            Now you’ve been reduced to relying on “logic” so ridiculous that it’s hysterical.

            So … are you trying to tell me that …

            (1) German companies get a tax break because of some sort of health burden that their employees are having to bear?!

            (2) But wait … if the point Energiewende is to replace fossil-fuel and radiation-producing electricity generation with “clean” energy, why wouldn’t the employees of industry be protected from these “hazards” as well? So it sounds to me that the employees are getting a health benefit and their employers are getting reduced electricity rates because of this health benefit. In other words, industry gets a double bonus in this deal.

            So if (1), wow … it really stinks to be a German employee.

            If (2), wow … it really stinks to be a German residential customer.

            But I’m going with (3) … you are just making up BS.

          4. @Brian,
            Sorry, but you misunderstand the situation slightly.

            The industry employees get same improved protection from those hazards as any other citizen & consumer (not more, not less).
            And they pay the same Energiewende levy (~6cnt/KWh) as any other citizen & consumer for the electricity they consum.

            German companies do not get a tax break. That would be a violation of the EU free competition rules which the EU investigation didn’t find. In the EU it is normal that industry pays different taxes than citizems and consumers.

            The industry employees don’t bear a special burden due to radiation & fossil fuel burning hazards. They suffer the same health hazards as other citizens (according to the rules). So they pay the same Energiewende levy as other citizens for the electricity they consume at home.

            German citizens also judge that industry is treated correct, in line with the EU judgement, as ~90% support the Energiewende!

          5. Sorry, but you misunderstand the situation slightly.

            In other words, you take back everything that you said above. Thanks.

            German companies do not get a tax break.

            Do you deny that large industrial consumers in Germany are for the most part exempt from paying the renewables surcharge on electricity (EEG-Umlage)?

            Yes or no. Just answer the question.

          6. @Brian,
            Somehow you read & interpret (a.o. my first sentence of my last response) differently than my intention was and is.
            When I write “you misunderstand” I do not retract anything I wrote, but express that you read wrongly.

            To make it clear, I do not take anything back I wrote here.

            As I wrote and the EU concluded, “the German big electricity consuming industry, such as alu melters, is not subsidized regarding electricity. Neither do they get a special tax break”.

      2. @Rod,
        Other factors may of course also play a role.

        the new owner is busy to install a direct line to the German grid (our melter is only ~30km away from the German high tension grid). So our melter can then compete against the Germans with more equal arms (can than also buy electricity at the Leipzig exchange).
        He wants to restart when he succeeds with the line (planned for next year).

        1. The integrated European market means that the price of power in Nederland and Germany should be the same, except when the power lines between the two country are saturated and can not export any more power from Germany to Nederland.

          Rather than building a line only for one user, it would make more sens to add an additional high tension line so that the congestion is less frequent.

          1. Electricity prices are generally not the same everywhere. For example, in the Northeast, there are LMP regions (Local Market Price) regions on the ISO-NE grid, and the price of electricity varies between those regions.

            European prices also vary by region. Here’s a link to some European statistics.

            When you look at the statistics, you can see that Germany is about 0.30 Euros per kWh for households, 0.15 for industry. France is 0.16 for households, 0.10 for industry. The right-hand columns are the most recent data. I am rounding to the nearest 0.01 Euros. You can look at the table, though, and see all the numbers.

          2. @jmdesp,
            Yes prices should be ~ the same but they are not because the im-/export is restricted by the line / interconnect capacity.
            So the av. price at the Amsterdam (NL) exchange is ~1cent/KWh higher than the one at Leipzig (Germany).
            The av. price in UK is >1cent/KWh higher as in NL. Belgium is also more expensive.

            So we in NL import German electricity and sell to UK and Belgium, while part of our own powerplants are mothballed. Partly due to (temporal) overcapacity.

            Our state owned grid operator is busy to three fold our interconnection capacity with Germany, but this high tension lines require a lot of time to install (NIMBY, etc).

          3. @Merwdith,
            The EU prices for households are right in general.
            But the situation with industry is too complicated to summarize it in one price. Also because definitions differ in different countries.

      3. @Rod,
        If the EU makes decisions which are not correct in the mind of some interested party, that party can complain at the EU high Court in Luxembourg.
        That right concerns decisions at all levels.

        So the complainers who stated that the electricity for German industry such as alu melters is subsidized (via tax excemption), could also go to the high Court when the competition committee decided that there was no such subsidy.
        They did not.
        Apparently the report of the EU committee was so clear that the complainers decided that they had no chance to win at the EU Court.

        The decision of the EU comission (the top of the EU) to allow the subsidies for Hinkley C generated complaint’s at the EU high Court by a number of parties.
        It’s one of the reasons for the excessive delay of Hinckley C. .

    1. “because they run their melters only in the hours the German wholesale electricity price is very low (1cent/KWh or so).”

      Besides the subsidized prices described by others, I’d like to note that temperature swings are not healthy for many industrial processes. I would guess that both the melting in recycling aluminum and the heat of a potline can be counted among them. Temperature swings cause additional wear and tear on equipment. Running a process at unpredictable times of the day is also bad economics. Do you want to just have guys to stand around and wait for the sun to start shining? Baseload heat provided by a big clean nuke would be better.

      1. @Eino

        I’m pretty sure Bas was up to his old tricks of making stuff up when he said aluminum smelters only run when power is cheap. However, I don’t have the time right now to find proof. Actually, I don’t even want to waste the time or bandwidth required.

        1. @EP,
          You (try to) confirm one of the predictions of the anti-nuclear social scientists and lobby:
          That nuclear will inevitable lead to an un-democratic society!

          Often formulated stronger; to a secretive society runned by only few people, just like the USSR.

        2. Aluminum smelting ,The Hall process, uses molten salt. Trying to run that following solar/wind production, willy-nilly, would be the keystone kops of industrial processes. Just imagine! …and we thought Alcoa was in trouble…. I like BAS here, it’s always worth a chuckle.

        3. @Rod,
          I would have delivered the links shwing it, but I’m now cycling through New Zealand with only a small tablet which I’m not used to (waiting till the rain stops here at the west coast, they have 7 meter rain per year here).

      2. @Eino,
        The price changes at the wholesale exchange in Leipzig are quite predictable with a.o. the weather (there is some regularity in those anyway, also because consumption patterns are predictable).
        So no need to keep the employees stand-by all the time. But they do have irregular work hours for which they get compensated.

        Keeping molten aluminun at about the same temperature (~650 degr.C) doesn’t take much electricity, so no need to let it cool down.

        The Borssele NPP in NL was built in the seventies in order to deliver cheap electricity to an aluminum melter of Pechiney nearby. But Pechiney moved that melter away long ago because they found cheaper electricity elsewhere.

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