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15 June 2019

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SRW

I agree. The US Navy shows how nuclear power can be used responsibility. Although I don't know all the particulars on commercial nuclear safety etc. I always thought we should follow the Navy's example of nuclear use. Recently read an article in May's Scientific American, titled " Reactor Redo" on how advanced fuels could both improve the safety and economics of todays nuclear power plants. The bottom line is to replace the zirconium cladding on nuclear pellets with other designs. If zirconium overheats, it can react with water (or steam) to produce potentially explosive hydrogen gas. The article goes on to state that manufacturers are testing these so-called accident tolerant fuels that if overheated, are far less likely to create conditions that led to Fukushima disaster. The article went on to describe four different examples of these accident-tolerant fuels.

Paco

I wouldn't bet anything against that creature being handsomely paid. Ignorance loudly displayed has become a pricey asset.

akaPatience

I agree about the potential of nuclear, but wonder if it can ever overcome anti-nuclear sentiment here, much of which was born in the late 1970s during the age of the 3 Mile Island nuclear plant accident and the film, The China Syndrome. And now that anti-nuclear sentiment's intensified in the wake of the Fukishima disaster, I doubt if the populous west coast, with its earthquake risks, would EVER consider nuclear.

I live in a region where shoddy workmanship caused the costly conversion of an under-construction nuclear plant to coal-powered. If it weren't for 3 Mile Island and The China Syndrome, I wonder if the [short-sighted?] conversion would've taken place:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_H._Zimmer_Power_Station

Amir

The geography of tectonic plates are different on France than in California but I presume some regions in US would be safe. The central control by the government will probably be more difficult to organize considering the general political ideology

The Twisted Genius

The French nuclear power industry benefits from standardization, central control and the reprocessing of spent fuel. Although this greatly reduces the amount of radioactive waste needing long term storage, this is still a problem. I don't think the US industry or public would stand for such a socialized, centralized approach. I also don't know how proper reprocessing and long term storage of waste figures into the economic feasibility of nuclear power vs natural gas or renewables.

rho


Meanwhile, Germany's nuclear plants are scheduled to go out of service by the end of 2022 and the government has also decided to stop power generation from coal by 2038 - and even that is not soon enough if you ask the "Fridays for future" kids and their handlers from the Green party (think AOC on steroids, for people not familiar with the political situation in Germany right now).

We will need to import lots of nuclear energy from France very soon, they better build some new reactors.

james

yeah - get the same folks who designed the boeing 737 to work on a nuclear plant, all under supervision from some freaks on wall st... a real recipe for success, lol... but, make sure iran can't explore this option for fear it might get a nuke out of it all.. crazier heads continue to prevail.. one day the world might grow up, but it is going to come at a cost which wall st and etc. will pay dearly for..

BabelFish

The issue of waste disposal continues to be the major shadow over the industry in the U.S.

"The ongoing controversy over high-level radioactive waste disposal is a major constraint on the nuclear power's global expansion.[39] Most scientists agree[40] that the main proposed long-term solution is deep geological burial, either in a mine or a deep borehole. However, almost six decades after commercial nuclear energy began, no government has succeeded in opening such a repository for civilian high-level nuclear waste,[39] although Finland is in the advanced stage of the construction of such facility, the Onkalo spent nuclear fuel repository. Reprocessing or recycling spent nuclear fuel options already available or under active development still generate waste and so are not a total solution, but can reduce the sheer quantity of waste, and there are many such active programs worldwide. Deep geological burial remains the only responsible way to deal with high-level nuclear waste.[41] The Morris Operation is currently the only de facto high-level radioactive waste storage site in the United States."

BabelFish

The preceding quote was from Wikipedia.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste

Harry

Agreed. I think the newer small scale plants seem to be very cost effective. The question is disposal of hazardous waste but it seems to be perfectly solvable.

Persse

Too expensive. Any other questions?

ace

There is a great online resource for realtime viewing of power generation and usage in France.

You can view it here

At this moment (20:20 EST), 102% of French energy grid demand is being generated by nuclear.

W Patrick Lang

persse Why?

Ulenspiegel

The article misses the point:

1) French NPPs are old and there is absolutely no economically competitive reactor design available to replace them.

2) The current plans aim for a reduction of the fleet to 30-40 GW and still need 2 billion per surviving reactor to prolong the production live to 60 years.

3) The French peak demand is about 100 GW in winter, the realiable power is provided by other generators....

4) EDF is economically in dire straits, they only survive because they are supported by the government.

Major issue: As long as windpower plus some backup provides much cheaper electricity than NPPs there is no reason to pay more money for a worse result. And wind power is saver and has a lower politicla costs.

Lefty_Blaker

Nuclear too expensive relative to solar gas and wind: from anhttps://climatenexus.org/climate-news-archive/nuclear-energy-us-expensive-source-competing-cheap-gas-renewables/

"The levelized cost of nuclear power is relatively high compared to other energy sources: the minimum cost per megawatt hour to build a new nuclear plant is $112, compared to $46 for utility-scale solar, $42 for combined cycle gas, and $30 for wind. Nuclear power is only able to remain viable in power markets due to subsidies. Capital costs to build nuclear plants can run into the tens of billions of dollars, and are much more expensive compared to wind, solar and gas plants."

W Patrick Lang

persse A reponse that contains your argument is equired here. Otherwise don't bother to write..

Philippe

No free lunch. French reactors are aging, and the future deconstruction process is still a blind spot. It will be a very hard and long task, no one really knows how to proceed safely, so the cost may - and will - be stratospheric, indeed.

Fred

Ulenspiegel,

"the realiable power is provided by other generators...."

So France has 100GW of base load generation itaht is non-nuclear? Just what is the power souce since it sure isn't the windpower and "some backups".
"wind power is saver and has a lower politicla costs." I certainly agree that it has lower political costs - for now. But it has no where near 100GW of generating capacity. Data from RTE:

http://www.rte-france.com/en/eco2mix/eco2mix-mix-energetique-en

Fred

Lefty,

What is the ongoing fuel cost of new wind, solar and gas plants? How's the carbon footprint of natural gas and just what pipeline is going to provide the extra capacity for the new combined cycle plants, or didn't the climate folks calculate those costs along with plant contruction costs?

m

What is it that people don't get about nuclear power?
The cost of dealing with the waste is prohibitive which is why it has been ignored for nigh on 70 years. The only reason to maintain a domestic nuclear power program is to enable the maintenance of nuclear weapons. France is in a real bind as most of their nuclear power generating facilities are approaching their end of life usefulness. what's next? do the maths

DH

"2011 Virginia earthquake

At 1:51pm on August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake occurred, centered south of Mineral, Virginia, eleven miles from the North Anna Nuclear Station.[18] The Associated Press reported the quake "was felt as far north as Rhode Island, New York City and Martha's Vineyard, Mass." The reactors automatically shut down and, because of a loss of offsite power, four diesel generators started up to supply electricity to safety systems. The plant reported an "Alert" status, the second lowest level of four NRC emergency classifications,[19] until 11:16am on August 24, 2011.[20] One of the generators suffered a coolant leak and stopped working.[21] A fifth standby generator was activated to replace the broken unit, which was repaired.[20][22][23][24][25] Offsite power was restored later on August 23.[20][26] Dominion also reported that the aftershocks did not affect the power plant.[20] Also on August 24, Dominion announced that it had ended the "Notice of Unusual Event", the least serious of the NRC emergency classifications, at the North Anna Power Station following inspection of equipment susceptible to seismic activity.[27]

After the Fukushima disaster had occurred six months prior, the Virginia earthquake prompted public fears of a similar nuclear accident at North Anna.[28][29][30] According to local Virginia media station, WHSV, "The two North Anna reactors are among 27 in the eastern and central U.S. that may need upgrades because those plants are more likely to get hit with an earthquake larger than the one on which their design was based, according to a preliminary Nuclear Regulatory Commission review." The Nuclear Regulatory Commission extended the operating licenses of these plants for an additional 20 years back in 2003. Dominion has publicly stated that on-site, spent-nuclear-fuel long-term storage canisters shifted during the earthquake along with various building cracks, all while maintaining such damage does not represent unsafe operating conditions.[citation needed]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Anna_Nuclear_Generating_Station#2011_Virginia_earthquake

I heard the spent fuel shifted eight inches on its concrete base. I lived in central Virginia at the time, and for the next year or so there were some pretty scary aftershocks where the tinkling in the curio cabinet would reach ominous levels.

There's also the issue of the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

And what james said.

rho

Philippe

"and the future deconstruction process is still a blind spot. It will be a very hard and long task, no one really knows how to proceed safely"

Not true. Nuclear reactors are already being deconstructed in Germany. It takes several years to do it, but it is by no means an unsolvable or inherently unsafe problem.

Lefty_Blaker

Fred,

The article did not get into any other costs but is clear that solar and wind have very low to no fuel costs. Right now the capital costs of solar are such that they can outcompete gas peaker plants which I believe is the situation in Germany right now. I have seen some knowledgeable people claim that there is not reason to build gas peaked plants any more given the cost advantagres of solar and wind and these advantages get better each year. I think it is a matter of time when storage because cheap enough so that wind and solar are the most cost effective electricity solution worldwide. I can find a better source on this info if you are interested. The tried to find it just now but could find the link.

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