The role of nuclear power in a low carbon future

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I think The VC Summer failure, including the unsettled legal ramifications, coupled with the severely over budget condition at Votgle may be the end of any new nuclear endeavors for a while in the US. Not to mention that the current administration has zero interest in nuclear.

If Georgia power can get the Votgle AP-1000s on line, they will look like geniuses in 20 years.

I hope NuScale can get lucky and get some action from outside the US. Maybe even get some govt assistance (unlikely) to build at least a six pack somewhere in the US.
 
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I think The VC Summer failure, including the unsettled legal ramifications, coupled with the severely over budget condition at Votgle may be the end of any new nuclear endeavors for a while in the US. Not to mention that the current administration has zero interest in nuclear.

If Georgia power can get the Votgle AP-1000s on line, they will look like geniuses in 20 years.

I hope NuScale can get lucky and get some action from outside the US. Maybe even get some govt assistance (unlikely) to build at least a six pack somewhere in the US.
I live 20 miles from Plant Vogtle. The existing units there have operated safely and efficiently for the past 30 or so years. The new units being built there will be a boon to the power grid when they go online. Unless great strides are made in wind and solar power as far as technology/efficiency (at some point this may happen), I don't see them as being major contributors to grid power for the foreseeable future. Whether people like it or not, nuclear power is an efficient way to produce power, despite the high initial cost and red tape.
 

OVERKILL

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I live 20 miles from Plant Vogtle. The existing units there have operated safely and efficiently for the past 30 or so years. The new units being built there will be a boon to the power grid when they go online. Unless great strides are made in wind and solar power as far as technology/efficiency (at some point this may happen), I don't see them as being major contributors to grid power for the foreseeable future. Whether people like it or not, nuclear power is an efficient way to produce power, despite the high initial cost and red tape.
You aren't fixing this with efficiencies:
Screen Shot 2020-01-01 at 11.16.33 AM.jpg
 
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I live 20 miles from Plant Vogtle. The existing units there have operated safely and efficiently for the past 30 or so years. The new units being built there will be a boon to the power grid when they go online. Unless great strides are made in wind and solar power as far as technology/efficiency (at some point this may happen), I don't see them as being major contributors to grid power for the foreseeable future. Whether people like it or not, nuclear power is an efficient way to produce power, despite the high initial cost and red tape.
I stumbled into some Ted Talks on my last business trip and there were several with former anti-nukes discussing factual information about the shortcomings of solar and wind. The main issue seemed to be the lack of storage capacity......
 
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As many have probably noticed, the Whitehouse recently announced plans to extend zero emissions subsidies to nuclear power plants, recognizing their contribution in displacing fossil fuels:

This is in-line with environmentalists reluctantly coming around on the source as being a critical enabler of an ultra-low emissions grid, as demonstrated in many places around the world such as France and Ontario.

It's a bit of an about-face for environmentalists who, until recently, had been plugged-in to the "wind and solar utopia" pitch that has utterly failed at delivering the same level of deep decarbonization as has been seen in grids with significant nuclear and hydro resources. Denmark has produced well north of 100% of its power using wind at times, but on average, it only provides ~40% of Denmark's power, resulting in reliance on fossil fuel generation and imports to make up the difference. The same is seen in California where solar is only able to displace fossil sources during the daytime and emissions skyrocket when wind generation collapses.

An article in National Geographic delves into this topic:

stating:


I know I've mentioned this on here before, but a great place to find real-time emissions intensities of grids around the world is Electricity Map:

Ontario, Sweden and France are currently near the top of the list for lowest emissions intensity today:
View attachment 56469 View attachment 56470 View attachment 56471

While Germany, Denmark, South Australia and California are much higher:
View attachment 56472 View attachment 56473 View attachment 56474 View attachment 56475

Before the sun came up, California's grid was more than twice as dirty as it is right now:
View attachment 56476

More nuclear instead of gas as baseload and solar could nicely work to displace peaking, keeping the overall emissions intensity down. Instead, California is heading the opposite direction, shutting down Diablo Canyon, so their emissions are in fact slated to go up instead.

It will be interesting to see if this act by the Whitehouse does anything to change the course on Diablo Canyon. It's clearly already too late to save Indian Point. With the two units at Vogtle coming online shortly (unit 3 is in the final stages at this point), will this new support from the Whitehouse prompt further investment or will gas continue to win-out?

Being a player in the pro-nuclear movement here in Canada, I know all too well the tactics used by anti-nuclear groups, who often receive funding from the oil and gas industry. Greenpeace managed to lose their charity status up here due to their antics. The ironically named "Ontario Clean Air Alliance", who received funding from Enbridge, proudly plugged gas as a replacement for Pickering. However, despite all of this, we are seeing support both Federally and provincially for new nuclear builds which include novel designs like Moltex Energy's "waste burner" SSR, which is designed to recycle and consume all the long-lived actinides in used CANDU fuel.

The "dyed in the wool" anti-nukes are getting old, so as they die-off, we'll see and hear less as well, as the younger generation hasn't grown up with the same level of fear-mongering. Lunatics like Helen Caldicott for example, who is now 82, will be leaving the picture with nobody to replace them while plants like Bruce, which produced first power in 1977, will be generating electricity until at least the mid 2060's, long after she is gone. She may in fact be out-lived by Pickering, which is slated to close in 2025 and which she has been outspoken about in her baseless fear-driven campaigning.

They have to get the cost way down to get nuclear viable.
 
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They have to get the cost way down to get nuclear viable.
I agree. But currently either fossil fuel power stations, or nuclear power stations are our only viable source of large scale power production. All other sources at the present just don't cut it. We live in a power hungry world. The electric vehicle crowd have to realize this.
 
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I am certainly pro nuclear, but when you really think about it, people do have a right to be concerned about the perceived risks if they want. After all, they are being told there is something so bad out there that they need to get off coal and live beside a nuclear plant instead.
 
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It is really about the worst case scenario when everyone screws up or intentionally try to sabotage things. You can imagine how bad a NG plant will get if it blew up, a LNG ship get hijacked and blew up, a coal plant blew up, heck even in 911 when a 747 hit a building or 3. With nuke we have seen TMI, Chernoyl, Fukushima. We were told what couldn't happen, and then someone screw up or cover up and things turn ugly. So there's always some trust issue despite theoretically it should not happen and people should trust the technology and the management. We also assume future generation will do the right thing keeping waste in the right place for 500 years, but then we look at history and we see many government don't last 500 years without a civil war or two in between, and we already see nuke plants being attacked before they were finished.

There's always an uncertainty and we have seen worst case scenarios on the news. We have also seen 2 towns near Chernobyl and Fukushima turned post apocalyptic because of human errors / cover up. That's always going to be around haunting people and therefore we end up with a lot of non optimal design (for overbuild safety) or non-proliferation, or stick to the devil we know instead of trying out new technologies that have better potential, at least in the developed world we don't want to try anything anymore.

I can see that the only way we will have new technology on this front would be some arm race between super power, trying to go where we cannot rely on current energy source, and have to come up with something with nuclear that we don't have yet. Maybe mission to Pluto or Neptune, Maybe to send a silo to Mars underground to deter a nuclear first strike and you cannot use solar and have to rely on nuke power plant underground.

I'm sure it will always be military budget driven, or else nothing gets done. The thing about arm race is we don't want to be too far ahead, or the other side will want to catch up, I think this is one of the reason we don't want too much research leading to great nuke power technology and then forces the rivals to catch up, then eventually we reached proliferation. Not doing something and make it so expensive for everyone through red tape may be a way to deter your rival from doing the same too.
 

wwillson

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I can see that the only way we will have new technology on this front would be some arm race between super power, trying to go where we cannot rely on current energy source, and have to come up with something with nuclear that we don't have yet.
We are going to build full scale demonstrator plants of both of these designs in Idaho soon.



They are both much simpler than the current operating nuke plants. Both designs will self shutdown and self cool with zero power or intervention from humans.

My bet is that we'll see many of these built in the next couple decades.

The fuel balls for the helium cooled XE-100 are a huge innovation and my opinion is the XE-100 is going to be the most widely deployed.
 

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They have to get the cost way down to get nuclear viable.

That's the hope with the SMR's, that it will overcome the issue I touched-on earlier in the thread with the west being unable to properly execute large infrastructure on time and on budget anymore.
 
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We are going to build full scale demonstrator plants of both of these designs in Idaho soon.



They are both much simpler than the current operating nuke plants. Both designs will self shutdown and self cool with zero power or intervention from humans.

My bet is that we'll see many of these built in the next couple decades.

The fuel balls for the helium cooled XE-100 are a huge innovation and my opinion is the XE-100 is going to be the most widely deployed.
That's the one I heard that cost 1.6B for the first 4 at a 7.4c / kwh price. I hope it will gradually scale to a lower price.
 
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$1B? Is this a portable LoL 😝

1B per 500MW, that's like $2 per MW? Let's see how much it really cost after other redtapes.

They probably has to be portable to avoid all the redtape though. I remember a company I once interviewed, uses tripod and wire ducts on ground to avoid building code and electrician work to get things done cheap and fast.

Precharge mini split is also a way to avoid expensive HVAC contractors and building permit.
 
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That's the hope with the SMR's, that it will overcome the issue I touched-on earlier in the thread with the west being unable to properly execute large infrastructure on time and on budget anymore.

Have they/we ever really? I'm being serious here. I'm having a hard time remembering anything that didn't at least have some hiccups at introduction.
 
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Have they/we ever really? I'm being serious here. I'm having a hard time remembering anything that didn't at least have some hiccups at introduction.
That's the cost of high standard of living -> NIMBY -> regulation and environmental. It is not just the West or the nuclear industry. That's why many things are done elsewhere and then imported. No way around it unless you make them small and simple (i.e. window AC vs mini split vs central AC the cost doesn't go up linearly per energy used or size or efficiency).
 
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That's the cost of high standard of living -> NIMBY -> regulation and environmental. It is not just the West or the nuclear industry. That's why many things are done elsewhere and then imported. No way around it unless you make them small and simple (i.e. window AC vs mini split vs central AC the cost doesn't go up linearly per energy used or size or efficiency).
I'm saying even back in the day before environmentalism and NIMBYism were a thing. When did things come in on time, on budget and with performance as originally anticipated. Almost never.

Even during the war. Planes, tanks, engines, boats, etc, etc. The first revision rarely worked as anticipated. Remember the "Battle of Kansas" where they struggled to get dozens of B-29s screwed together in a bitter cold Kansas winter. The R-3350 engines were actually first introduced in 1937 and were still cantankerous when they were strapped to the B-29 after 7 years of development. Feel sorry for those guys who died trying to get them off the ground in India in the intense heat, in order to make air drops over China.
 
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BBC Inquiry had a good discussion on this topic


They pointed out even tho currently nuclear fails the affordability metric vs other types of generation currently, if you factor in the cost of "not doing nuclear" and continuing to burn coal and NG, it could seem like a bargain in the long run.
 

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Have they/we ever really? I'm being serious here. I'm having a hard time remembering anything that didn't at least have some hiccups at introduction.

The short answer? Yes. Pickering A was built on time and on budget, in fact it might have even come online early. It was less than 5 years from shovel to breaker. As we moved into the 80's with the inflation and financial crisis, things started to really go sideways, but have gotten even worse since, as we stopped building large infrastructure.

Sir Adam Beck II, the ~2GW hydro-electric project at Niagara Falls cost $156 million in 1951, and I believe that was also extremely close to, if not totally on-budget.

Then we get into more recent projects:

Bruce A, which was the 2nd large commercial nuke built in Canada was supposed to cost $900 million in 1970, but ended up costing $1.9 billion, so more than double what it was supposed to. BUT, a $1 billion overrun would be laughed at nowadays, and was comical relative to what happened with the subsequent plants. It was 6 years shovel-to-breaker.

Bruce B, which was the 4th large commercial nuke built in Canada was supposed to cost $3.9 billion in 1978 (compare that to the cost of the A plant) but ended up costing $6 billion, less of an overrun percentage-wise than the A units, but in reality, was triple the price. It was also 6 years shovel-to-breaker.

Darlington, which was the 5th large commercial nuke built in Canada was supposed to cost $7.4 billion in 1981. It was nailed by both the Chernobyl disaster industry pause and skyrocketing interest rates. It cost an incredible $14.4 billion dollars and took 10 years from shovel to breaker. This is when we stopped building new nukes.

ALL of the above examples are CANDU 4-packs. Bruce A and B are quite similar, Darlington was based on Bruce B with some additional improvements which increased the cost (deep water inlet and outlet diffusers, whereas Bruce only has deep water inlets, outlets are near-shore).

Now, we look at Vogtle, that's two units that were supposed to cost $14 billion. Initial construction activity started in 2009 (12 years ago!, though construction in earnest after things were resumed took place in 2013) and the projected cost is now $25 billion, an $11 billion dollar cost overrun! Of course the bankruptcy of Westinghouse was one of the main drivers in turning this into a bit of a gong show.

Of note, the original Vogtle units, 1 and 2 were supposed to cost $660 million ( :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:) but ended up costing $8.87 billion in 1989, which was $3.85 million per MW, better than Darlington at $4.1 million per MW, but not as good as Bruce B which was only $1.74 million per MW.

Given the period within which the first two units were constructed, one would think they would have had a better handle on cost estimates, but then you look at the Bruce units and you realize this was an industry-wide issue. Were we really that daft or was the idea to pitch a low price to get things rolling and then once the project was in motion and the real cost came out, the project was too far along to pull out of? If I was a cynic, I'd be inclined toward the latter ;)
 
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