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SOLUTION: NUCLEAR ENERGY

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SOLUTION: NUCLEAR ENERGY

WNN published.

The United Nations, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Energy Council (WEC) are drawing global attention to the inherent qualities of nuclear power as a clean and reliable source of electricity. Now into its seventh decade, nuclear energy is seen by these and other prominent organisations as an existing and proven solution to the 21st Century challenges of climate change and a sustainable energy transition.

This was the shared message of Agneta Rising and Kirill Komarov, respectively the director general and chairman of World Nuclear Association, at the opening of its Symposium 2019 in London yesterday.

"Energy is essential for promoting human development and global demand is projected to increase significantly in the coming decades," Rising said. "Securing access to modern and affordable energy is essential for all, lifting people out of poverty and promoting energy independence and economic growth. Nuclear energy is a proven solution with a long established track record.

"The 445 nuclear reactors in 30 countries are the low-carbon backbone of electricity systems, operating in the background, day in day out, often out of sight and out of mind, capable of generating an immense amount of clean power. They are the silent giants upon which we rely today.

"Nuclear power showed that it can be the catalyst for delivering a sustainable energy transition long before climate change was on the agenda. Nuclear power is the fast-track to a high-powered and clean energy system, which not only delivers a healthier environment and an affordable supply of electricity, but also strengthens energy security and helps mitigate climate change."

Growing recognition

Komarov, who is first deputy director general for corporate development and international business at Russia's Rosatom, directly highlighted the increasing importance of nuclear power to policy influencers.

A UN document published in October last year concluded that a large increase in the use of nuclear power would help keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees. This Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report - Global Warming of 1.5 degrees - was commissioned by governments at COP21 in Paris in 2015.

In May this year, the IEA unveiled its policy recommendations for the many countries that see a role for nuclear power in their energy transitions in a new report it launched at the 10th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM10) in Vancouver, Canada. Titled Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System, it was the Paris-based agency's first report addressing nuclear power in nearly two decades in order, it said, "to bring this important topic back into the global energy debate".

And at the 24th World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi next week, WEC will launch its own new report - World Energy Scenarios: Futures of Global Nuclear to 2060 - which it produced in consultation with World Nuclear Association. At the same forum, the Association will launch its white paper on the place of nuclear energy in a clean energy system.

Komarov said the power industry as a whole has been facing a major challenge to provide universal access to electricity and to decarbonise electricity production. This twin task, he said, is being reflected in the energy policies of leading nations, in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in decisions made at COP21. It also underlines, he added, the World Nuclear Association's Harmony programme, which aims for nuclear power to increase its share of global electricity generation from 10% to 25% by 2050.

"Nuclear energy is an established source of stable and affordable electricity worldwide," he said, "but it is struggling to get the recognition it deserves for its contribution to clean energy development." Nuclear is "irreplaceable in achieving decarbonisation", he said, since existing nuclear power plants already avoid the emission of about 2 billion tonnes of CO2 each year. "The question is, in 15 to 20 years' time, how far will nuclear energy go in helping to avoid climate change, given that decisions will need to be made on lifetime extensions for reactor units in operation today and on building new ones."

Now is the time, he said, to look at nuclear energy "through the prism of sustainability" and the UN's SDGs. Nuclear power is relevant to ten out of the 17 SDGs, he noted, and as such is the "frontrunner" among sources of energy, followed by renewables and hydropower.

"The fundamental role of nuclear power in providing a better life for people all around the world urges us to introduce nuclear to the agenda of the major international development and sustainable development forums," he said. In addition to the IPCC, IEA and WEC, these also include the Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future (NICE Future) initiative which was launched in May 2018 at CEM9 in Copenhagen. In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency will hold its first conference on to climate change, at its Vienna headquarters early next month.

Komarov said World Nuclear Association's strength lay in its membership - more than 180 members, representing countries with more than 80% of the world's population. Its commitment, he added, was not only to the established nuclear industry, but also to newcomer countries to nuclear power through its World Nuclear Spotlight events. Designed to bring together key national and international stakeholders involved in advancing such plans and providing an opportunity to exchange information and experience, the first Spotlight was held in November last year in Warsaw. Polish Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski made a keynote speech at the event, saying that his ministry was actively discussing the country's potential adoption of nuclear power. The following month, he announced the country plans to build its first nuclear power units in the Pomerania region in the north of the country, by 2033. World Nuclear Spotlight Poland was followed in April this year with one in Rio de Janeiro, where Brazilian Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Albuquerque said Brazil was committed to resuming the Angra 3 project. The third Spotlight will take place next month in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

So far, so Harmony

Launched at Symposium 2015, the Harmony programme aims to achieve a 25% share of world electricity production by 2050 through the addition of 1000 GWe of new capacity. It encompasses three objectives - a level playing field for all clean-energy sources of electricity, harmonised regulatory processes, and an effective safety paradigm.

To meet the Harmony goal, World Nuclear Association says the average build rate required is: 10 GWe per year between 2016 and 2020; 25 GWe per year between 2021 and 2025; and 33 GWe per year between 2026 and 2050.

Yesterday, Rising highlighted the need to triple construction rates from current levels in order to optimise nuclear energy's role in sustainable development.

"The IEA's latest report on nuclear energy highlighted the importance of dependable baseload electricity generation and the need to properly value and compensate them for the electricity security and reliability services they provide," Rising said. "It also concluded that without an expanded contribution from nuclear energy, the huge challenge of achieving emissions reductions will become drastically harder and more costly. The global nuclear industry, led by World Nuclear Association, is ready to take up the challenge."

Referring to the World Nuclear Performance Report 2019, which the Association published last week, Rising said there had been real progress towards the Harmony target.

Nuclear reactors generated a total of 2563 TWh of electricity in 2018, up from 2502 TWh in 2017. This was the sixth successive year that nuclear generation had risen, according to the report, with output 217 TWh higher than in 2012. Last year the global capacity factor was 79.8%, down from 81.1% in 2017, but still at the high level of performance seen since 2000. There is no significant age-related trend in nuclear reactor performance, it notes, since the mean capacity factor for reactors over the last five years shows little variation with age.

It makes no difference whether a reactor is "totally brand new" or has operated for 50 years, it will still be operating at high capacity factors, Rising said.

Construction started last year on a total capacity of 6.3 GWe - on Akkuyu 1 in Turkey, Hinkley Point C in the UK, Kurst II-1 in Russia, Rooppur 2 in Bangladesh and Shin-Kori 6 in South Korea.

In 2016-2017, a total of 14 new units started construction - eight in China, two in Pakistan, and one each in Russia, South Korea and the USA. In 2018-19, there were nine in China, three in Russia and one in South Korea.

There are 19 units scheduled to start up by 2020 - nine in China, two each in Belarus and Russia, and one each in Finland, India, Japan, Slovakia, South Korea and the UAE.

According to the report, in the five years between 2016 and 2020, there are due to be 47 new reactors online in 11 countries, of which two are newcomers to nuclear power. In total, these 47 reactors add 15% to global nuclear capacity. They are based on 20 different designs, of which nine are being built for the first time.

"This is fantastic development," Rising said. "If we look at the Harmony programme in 2016 to 2020, the construction rate doubled from a trend of less than 5 gigawatts per year to 10 gigawatts per year. So the 50 gigawatts projected will be delivered. But this is only the beginning. From this level we need to double and then to triple the rate."

Komarov said the Harmony target is achievable if the industry "has the will and real motivation". Rising added: "Nuclear energy is being talked about and written about in new reports and in conversations between governments and organisations. We are wanted. We are dynamic. We are essential."

 

Vladimir Vinogradov's picture

Thank Vladimir for the Post!

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Discussions

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Sep 11, 2019 5:47 am GMT

Bravo, Vladimir. If the U.S. doesn't climb aboard this train quickly, we will be left behind.

Vladimir Vinogradov's picture
Vladimir Vinogradov on Sep 16, 2019 6:33 am GMT

Bob, U.S. nuclear power and nuclear science will be develop quickly, I think.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 11, 2019 1:24 pm GMT

Energy is essential for promoting human development and global demand is projected to increase significantly in the coming decades," Rising said. "Securing access to modern and affordable energy is essential for all, lifting people out of poverty and promoting energy independence and economic growth. Nuclear energy is a proven solution with a long established track record.

I'm not sure how nuclear could/should fit into some of the developing parts of the world, but this is the message that should be used when looking at the future of energy one way or the other. The economics of building out new nuclear are still (currently, at least) tough, so that's where progress would need to be made

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Sep 12, 2019 5:15 pm GMT

Nothing compared to the economics of not building out new nuclear, Matt.

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 16, 2019 7:21 pm GMT

Nuclear makes no sense in the developing world.

The developing world needs low installed cost electricity that can be installed in a modular fashion, eliminating the need for large amounts of capital.   The developing world needs generation than can be installed in hours to weeks and start generating electricity (and revenue).

The developing world needs electricity generation that can be installed and maintained by people with very little technology training.  Even people with very limited academic skills.

The developing world also needs electricity generation that does not require large scale grid expansion.  The cost of extending the grid to many homes is greater than the revenue that will be gained from those homes for many decades. 

The need is for generation hardware that can be delivered to the house, village, or town where the electricity will be consumed.  Put into operation very quickly.  And be maintained by communitiy members who will have undergone only basic training.  That's solar, wind, and small hydro.

 

 

 

 

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 12, 2019 11:33 pm GMT

"Nuclear energy is an established source of stable and affordable electricity worldwide,"

This is a clearly false claim and makes the rest of the argument worhtless.

Paid off reactors are closing because they cost too much to maintain.  There is no chance a new reactor could compete in a fair market.

Nuclear has had a half century and many billions of dollars in subsidies to prove itself and it hasn't.  Perhaps sometime later someone will invent a reactor that can produce cheap electricity but that is not something we can do today.  We need to quit pushing a failed technology and put our efforts into accelerating what has proven to be the most affordable options.

 

 

 

Vladimir Vinogradov's picture
Vladimir Vinogradov on Sep 16, 2019 7:01 am GMT

Bob, Investment in new renewable energy is on course to total $2.6 trillion in the years from 2010 through the end of 2019, according to a study by BloombergNEF for the United Nations Environment Program and Frankfurt School's UNEP Center published.

Is it enough, you think? See here:

https://wognews.net/news/2019/9/renewable-energy-investment-2.6-tln

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 16, 2019 6:34 pm GMT

Investment in new renewable energy is on course to total $2.6 trillion in the years from 2010 through the end of 2019

Was that enough?  Of course not.  Let's look at only one part of the reason we should be eliminating fossil fuel far faster.

A 2012 paper found the US was spending between $140 billion to $242 billion a year on the public health impact from coal.

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/tallying-coals-hidden-cost/

At about the same time another paper reported that coal-fired power stations cost the European Union up to €42.8 billion a year in health costs.  Add in Croatia, Serbia and Turkey and the health costs of burning coal rise to €54.7 billion annually.

http://www.evwind.es/2013/05/03/coals-hidden-health-costs-40-billion-euros-a-year/32333

Use the median US of $191 billion and $60 billion for the EU plus three and that's a quarter of a trillion dollars per year.  For the 10 year span from the start of 2010 until the end of 2019 and only part of the world would have spent $2.5 trillion dollars just dealing with coal health impacts.  Add in Asia where air pollution has been a much worse problem and not spending much faster to eliminate coal use faster has been simply foolish.

When we add in the massive costs we are already incuring due to climate change we should see that foolish is far too mild a word.

We will be spending hundreds of billions of dollars in 2020, 2021. 2022, .... to deal with health costs and climate change because we spent too little between 2010 and 2019.  

IMO, now that solar and wind have become so inexpensive we need to be spending at much higher rates with the goal of elimiating most coal well before 2030.  Any country not doing that is wasting money.  And we need to set a global goal to be at no more than 5% fossil fuel by 2035.

It will cost more to wait than to rush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vladimir Vinogradov's picture
Vladimir Vinogradov on Sep 18, 2019 7:43 am GMT

Bob, renewable energy has a fundamental limitation - energy density. New renewable energy sources - wind, sun - have a very low energy density. If humanity switches to renewable energy, then it will be too little. Not enough for all people.

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 18, 2019 6:49 pm GMT

Energy density is a red herring.  The real issue is cost of electricity produced.

Reactor fuel is very energy dense.  Wind and sunshine are not energy dense.  But it costs so much to turn the dense energy in reactor fuel into electricity that electricity from wind and solar are 3x to 4x cheaper.

As for 'not enough'...

The United Nations Development Programme in its 2000 World Energy Assessment found that the annual potential of solar energy was 1,575–49,837 exajoules (EJ). This is several times larger than the total world energy consumption, which was 559.8 EJ in 2012. 

Wiki

Were we to power our world with only solar panels here's how much of our land mass that we'd have to cover with panels.  Those little rectangles spread around the continents.  And much of that can be rooftops and parking lot canopies.  

 

But that's only solar.  It's likely we'll get about half our electricity/energy from wind because the wind tends to blow when the Sun is not shining.  Add in a healty dose of hydro.

Our world simply overflows with free energy.  And the cost of turnning that energy into electricity has become very affordable and it's getting cheaper.

We are very, very lucky puppies....

 

 

 

 

 

Vladimir Vinogradov's picture
Vladimir Vinogradov on Sep 19, 2019 5:25 am GMT

Bob,

It’s about  Solar flux density reaching Earth  https://www.ess.uci.edu/~yu/class/ess200a/lecture.2.global.pdf

It’s about wind energy flux density

http://www.greenrhinoenergy.com/renewable/wind/

nuclear power flux density

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_flux

fusion power flux density

https://www.euro-fusion.org/fusion/fusion-conditions/

These are disparate quantities.

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 20, 2019 6:54 pm GMT

Vladimir - 

Energy density, power flux density, fascination with large, very complex machinery - none of that matters.  What matters is the bottom line.  

Wind and solar are 3x to 4x cheaper than nuclear.  

Take note that those are unsubsidized real world numbers and are from 2017.  Wind and solar PPAs are now considerably lower.  

The U.K.’s latest renewable power auction awarded 5.5 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity, with prices bottoming out at £39.65 ($50.05) per megawatt-hour.

Offshore wind, which is much more steady than onshore in most locations, is dropping below the cost of CCNG and to a third of nuclear.

Economics drive the decisions.  

 

 

 

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Sep 20, 2019 2:45 pm GMT

Bob, your map titled "Surface Area Required to Power the World" is a bad joke, created by someone with no understanding of physics or electrical engineering, an idealistic, uneducated dreamer of the breed that created our current mess.

Surface area powers nothing. Covering "those little rectangles spread around the continents" with solar farms costs a lot. At current prices, it would cost $115 trillion, more than half of all the accumulated wealth in the world. The price of the panels is irrelevant - they could be free. Installation, distribution, and backup power make the cost forever prohibitive.

The map was created by some spoiled child living in the developed world, who's never gone to sleep hungry, who can afford to pretend people of the rest of the world are as affluent as he, and have access to the creature comforts he takes for granted. He imagines an impoverished resident of Nairobi, Kenya taking his solar panels back to Home Depot and swapping them for patio furniture when they don't work.

Please. 

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 20, 2019 7:04 pm GMT

Covering "those little rectangles spread around the continents" with solar farms costs a lot. At current prices, it would cost $115 trillion, more than half of all the accumulated wealth in the world.

I question your $115 trillion claim.  But just for fun let's assume you brought the truth.

The installed cost of utility solar with single axis tracking is about $1/watt.

The original estimated cost of nuclear for Vogtle 3&4 was $6.94/watt.  Based on cost to date the installed cost will be at least $12.09/watt.

6.94 / 1 = 6.94.  12.09 / 1 = 12.09 

$115 trillion x 6.94 = $798 trillion

$115 trillion x 12.09 = $1,390 trillion = $1.4 quadrillion

 

 

 

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 20, 2019 7:26 pm GMT

The map was created by some spoiled child living in the developed world, who's never gone to sleep hungry, who can afford to pretend people of the rest of the world are as affluent as he, and have access to the creature comforts he takes for granted. He imagines an impoverished resident of Nairobi, Kenya taking his solar panels back to Home Depot and swapping them for patio furniture when they don't work.

The map was created by someone who took US DOE estimates of global energy requirements in 2030, did a simple watts from 20% efficient panels per square foot calculation and drew  to-scale boxes.

As for the impoverished resident of Kenya or any of the other ~1.2 billion residents of the planet who live without electricity solar is bringing them electricity.

Already several million households and 'village stores' have purchased micro solar systems.  A small panel, a batttery and a couple of LED lamps.  The systems are capable of lighting homes and stores much better than the oil lamps and candles they were using.  And the system will charge their cell phone.  

The micro solar program began in 1996 in Bangladesh.  The general design is that people make small weekly payment for one to two years until their systems are paid for.  Payments are typically lower than what they had been paying for kerosene and candles.

The benefits are enormous.  Trying to work or read by a kero lantern is difficult and hard on the eyes.  (Been there, done that.)  The fumes are very bad for occupant's health.  And the inefficient combustion of oil lamps means lots of carbon black emissions.  

After payoff the family will have freed up money they had been spending.  Families are also able to extend their workdays creating some additional income, helping to improve their quality of life.

Many people will never be connected to the grid.  Many others would have to wait decades for wires to be extended to where they live.  Those folks simply would not purchase enough electricity to pay for the extended runs.  But with micro solar systems they can get electricity quickly.  And then, as finances allow, they can expand their systems to cover charing inexpensive laptops, radios, TVs, refrigerators, fans, ....

 

On a larger scale solar arrays, and wind turbines, are being installed on village grids which had been operated with diesel generator.  The solar and wind systems are paid for via diesel fuel savings.

 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Sep 14, 2019 5:01 am GMT

Sounds like a nice goal. Nuclear share increasing by 2.5 times over the next 30 years even while total world generation gets larger.  So in other words nuclear will actually have to at least triple to meet this goal.

How has nuclear done over the last 20 years?

Capacity:

There has been an increase of 14% in nuclear capacity over the last 20 years. 

Generation:

There has been an increase of only 8% for nuclear generation over the last 20 years. Plus, actually still down from its peak.  Not good.

Yeah, but things are picking up, right?  Nope - one construction start so far in 2019. One???!!

So - will nuclear share of WW generation increase from 10% to 25% in the next 30 years - or will it be lucky to not fall from its current 10%?

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Sep 14, 2019 3:06 pm GMT

GreentechMedia.com, a traditionally pro-renewables, anti-nuclear site, doesn't share your pessimism Joe:

"Federal policymakers are also moving forward with plans to support deployment of the first advanced reactors within a decade, reflected in the NuclearEnergy Leadership Act legislation introduced in the Senate last month. NELA sets short-term targets for advanced nuclear deployment, including signing at least one federal power-purchase agreement by 2023 (with a design that received its license after 2019).

NuScale could qualify for these PPAs, but NELA also directs the DOE to complete at least two advanced reactor demonstrations by 2025 and up to five additional demonstrations by 2035."

Re:

"So - will nuclear share of WW generation increase from 10% to 25% in the next 30 years - or will it be lucky to not fall from its current 10%?"

"Lucky?" A quaint concept, but nuclear proponents think in different terms. Maybe it's because their tech isn't reliant upon luck to deliver a steady supply of clean electricity.

I don't know what the odds are for "Germany will meet its 2020 emissions target", but if I was a betting man I'd pick "nuclear will exceed 30% WW generation by 2050" in a heartbeat.

 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Sep 15, 2019 6:59 am GMT

Bob,

I agree with the "guest commentators" Jessica Lovering and Ted Nordhaus. The only chance nuclear has of staying relevant is with innovative small, modular reactors.

Just curious - did you read the article from WNN - World Nuclear News that Vladimir referenced.

From WNN: 

That article gives a link for:  The 39th annual edition of Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050 

If you haven't yet, you might want to read that report. It's from the International Atomic Energy Agency  and its pretty well done.

From pg 19 - here is there prediction for future Nuclear plant capacity. 

Assuming 

Generation Projections from pg 22.

Electricity and Nuclear Production Projections

●  The total nuclear electricity production in the world will continue to increase between now and 2050.

●  In the high case, by 2030 nuclear electricity production will increase by 50% from the 2018 level of 2563 TW·h, and a further increase of 50% will occur over the next 20 years. Altogether, a 2.2-fold increase over the present level is expected by 2050.

●  In the low case, despite nuclear electrical generating capacity declining from the present level until 2040 and then rebounding, nuclear electricity production will increase by about 11% by 2030 and about 16% by 2050.

 The share of nuclear electricity in total electricity production in the world will decrease in the low case from about 10.2% in 2018 to 8.5% in 2030 and 6.1% in 2050. However, in the high case, its share will increase to 11.5% in 2030 and to 11.7% in 2050.

In other words their "high case" is less than 1/2 of the 25% goal. Where do you see their assumptions being incorrect?

Back in 2000, nuclear used to provide 16% of WW electricity. It has dropped consistently since then to its current 10.2%.

 In order to meet the "high case"  in the capacity chart above nuclear needs to average over 13GW/year of new reactor starts. So far in 2019 - 1GW of new construction. Not looking good.

 

 

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 16, 2019 7:11 pm GMT

Joe, 

GreenTech Media has a new report about Rolls Royce small modular reactors that they think they can have ready by 2030.

Rolls-Royce is confident its design could deliver power at a cost of £60 ($75) per megawatt-hour even with a relatively high weighted average cost of capital. The cost of capital is the biggest factor affecting the pricing of the design, said Orr. Lower costs of capital could allow Rolls-Royce to cut costs to around £40 ($50) per megawatt-hour, he said.

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/rolls-royce-awaits-government-cash-to-start-smr-project#gs.46jv34

"Lower capital costs" sounds like a subsidy.  NuScale has done a similar estimation stating a lower price if municipalities give them low interest rate loans.

With wind and solar closing on $20/MWh and likely to be well under $20 by 2030 where is the market for much more expensive SMRs?  And, remember, reaching estimated costs for NuScale and RR assumes they can manufacture at scale, not one at a time.  Much of the expected savings comes from larger scale manufacturing which would allow for automization and lower materials/parts costs.

Being able to sell at $0.08/kWh (NuScale) or $0.075 (RR) requires operating the reactor as much as possible.  "90% CF"

Let's look at a grid that uses market pricing ....

If wind and solar cost less than 25%, when they are available, the market is going to pick wind and solar.  Since the SMRs will not be able to turn off and back on quickly they would have to bid in at a loss.  If they lose $0.06/kWh 50% of the time then they have to sell for $0.14/kWh the other 50% of the time.  And that puts their required price far more expensive than storing wind and solar for the times when the wind and Sun are not contributing.

Actually, with overbuilding wind and solar can likely provide 75% or more demand without storage and including the cost of curtailed (not stored) energy the cost would be well under the $0.08/kWh for SMRs.

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Sep 16, 2019 11:14 pm GMT

Bob W.

I agree.

Ony chance nuclear has is SMRs - but if you asked me to assign a % to that chance - I'd probably say 20-30%.

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 16, 2019 6:52 pm GMT

Left out of your comment is the age of current reactors.

For the US nuclear fleet all but 3 (~4%) are old.  About half 30 to 40 years old and about half 40 to 50 years old.  The average lifespan of US reactors to date has been about 40.  

Globally we see some newer reactors but the bulk of all reactors are old puppies.  That's a 2016 chart so add some years to the horizonal axis.

 

As any machine ages it tends to breakdown more frequently and costs more to keep in operation.  France has reported (in 2012) that producing electricity from their reactors costs more than what they report to be their wholesale cost of electricity.  Whether the price discrepency is due to importing cheaper electricity or whether their government is subsidizing the cost of electricity is no publicly known.  France recently wrapped corroded pipes with carbon fiber "bandages" because a pipe failure could disable emergency cooling and the cost of replacing the pipes was too expensive.

Paid off reactors are already often too expensive to be competitive.  It will be hard to make a rational argument to spend more repairing and refurbishing old reactors when the cost of new wind and solar continue to drop.

 

 

 

 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Sep 16, 2019 11:01 pm GMT

Yep... even if more WW nuclear licenses are extended past 40 - that will just be pushing the large closure wave out. 

Gonna be really tough for the nuclear market to grow in total size if you have 10+ reactors closing every year.

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 17, 2019 2:17 am GMT

An extended license does not renew the reactor itself.  We could license reactors for a thousand years.  They'll still wear out when they wear out.

It's standard operating procedure for engineers to over engineer parts and systems.  Especially critical parts and systems.  Given that our current reactors were designed for a forty year license we might expect the engineering to have been done to cover a longer period, "just to be safe".  

What we might be doing now by running reactors longer than 40 years is running on the safety margin.  Using up the "Oops" cushion.

By that I'm not suggesting that we're pushing our reactors into dangerous meltdown territory.  But we do need to be extra careful to monitor the critical shutdown and emergency systems to make sure some thingamajig hasn't rusted shut or a feedlemurphy died of metal fatigue.

And we need to run our nuclear assisted grids as if at any moment one of our reactors might stop functioning and never come back online. 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 20, 2019 7:51 pm GMT

(Hopefully this will display)

Here's an interesting way to look at how nuclear is doing.  A chart of new reactor construction starts - permanant closures.

<iframe src="https://drive.google.com/file/d/154yo3wJW7OlHh8BJZzA_wPdKl7oKgaaG/preview" width="640" height="480"></iframe>

2010 was a good year for nuclear.  China had a booming nuclear program.

2011, well, Fukushima.

2012 and 2013 a small rebound to a net four more starts than closures.  

And then from 2014 through 2019 a steady move into the negative.  2019 has seen three more reactors close than new projects start construction.

 

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 16, 2019 8:27 pm GMT

 "Nuclear energy is being talked about and written about in new reports and in conversations between governments and organisations. We are wanted. We are dynamic. We are essential."

What I'm seeing a lot is nuclear advocacy articles published in places that do not allow reader comments.  Those articles are being allowed to make claims which then go unchallenged.

It looks like an attempt to me to convince people that nuclear energy can deliver something which is has never delivered, affordable electricity.

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Sep 19, 2019 8:45 pm GMT

Bob, (present company excepted) most of the sites to which you refer - Atomic Insights, Neutron Bytes, etc. - attract antinuclear ideologues like flies. Without having any knowledge of the fundamental basics of radiation or nuclear physics, they show up and begin spouting the same nonsensical talking points which have been making the rounds for 40 years*.

Unintentionally or not, they chase people away from the board who do know what they're talking about. Would you want that to happen at your own discussion forum?

 

*Like the idea nuclear energy has never delivered "affordable electricity" (where I grew up, for decades nuclear energy delivered nothing but).

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 20, 2019 7:34 pm GMT

Bob M. -

I am not talking about the sites you list but general sites such as local newspapers who publish nuclear articles which are, simply, dishonest.  And then readers are given no ability to post contrary information.  The dishonesty stands, unchallenged.

What one often sees are things like the cost of electricity from a paid off plant, one of the more efficient, with no mention of the 20 to 30 years of buying expensive electricity in order to arrive at "paid off".

One does not need to know jack about nuclear energy in order to make a value judgement about it.  Just look at the cost of electricity produced.  Then look at the unsolved problem of safely storing used nuclear fuel for thousands and thousands of years.  

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