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Europe is Ignoring its Energy Reality

There is no debate on the role of nuclear power in mitigating climate change in many countries across Europe and the OECD. It is categorically ignored. Yet evidence implies that we need more nuclear in the mix.

The current best evidence shows that we will not be able to cut emissions fast enough with only renewable energy and efficiency improvements. We might not be able to cut them fast enough even with nuclear in the mix, but at least there would be a fighting chance.

Regarding this fact, it is very strange that nuclear power has been systematically ignored in public climate policy debate for decades. The COP21 climate negotiations in Paris was the first time in the 25-year history of climate negotiations that nuclear was included and represented somehow. COP22 all but ignored nuclear power. Yet nuclear is historically by far the fastest tool we have when it comes to decarbonizing energy production.

Clean energy in EU

A fact-based and pragmatic debate needs to be started on the role of nuclear in achieving a deep decarbonization of our societies by 2050. Not just electricity, but the whole energy sector, including space heating and hot water, industrial process heat and transportation. The fact that nuclear energy produces almost half of the low carbon energy in Europe is simply ignored at almost every level. This might sound like a cliché, but my 10-year old kid can see the ridiculousness of the situation.

Debate needs to happen

If we don’t want to simply drift silently into climate failure, we need to have a factual discussion on this. To start this debate, at least in The Netherlands, the Nuclear Elephant -symposium was organized in Amsterdam in early March, 2017. I attended as one of the speakers.

The energy mix of Netherlands is mainly – over 90 % – based on burning fossil fuels. Electricity is mainly generated by burning natural gas and coal, with smaller shares on renewables and nuclear. Their emissions are roughly 8.8 tons CO2 per capita per year. Total emissions are now roughly the same they were 20 years ago.

The most prominent climate action in The Netherlands is the plan to build 15 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the coming years. While that is a substantial amount and will certainly lead to less burning of fossil fuels to make electricity, it is only a start. It will also lead to a lock-in where the remainder of the electricity is provided with flexible natural gas, as the intermittent wind power can only provide some part of electricity. At the same time, this subsidized production will likely lead to baseload providers, such as nuclear power, to be less competitive. The problem is, adding even a substantial amount of wind will only lead to partial decarbonization – while it breaks the market for other solutions that are needed in moving forward.

And there is little talk about what to do after that, and even less talk on what to do beyond the electricity sector, where two thirds of Netherland’s emissions are generated (industry, manufacturing, transportation, heating).

The Nuclear Elephant Symposium

There was an interesting cast of speakers invited. Stephen Tindale, former anti-nuclear activist and executive director of Greenpeace UK, started by presenting the case that we need everything we have for the climate challenge. Wind, solar, hydro, nuclear and advanced nuclear and even some uses for biomass. Nuclear, biomass and hydro are the only tools that can provide reliable power that our society needs. Of those, only nuclear does not have severe limitations in adding more capacity.

The second speaker was Pier Stapersma, a senior researcher at The Clingendael International Energy Programme (CIEP). While his analysis was sound, the conclusion was somewhat stark. To put it bluntly, with current market policies there is no chance we can decarbonize even electricity production, with or without nuclear, let alone the whole energy sector. The energy market, and what it values, needs to change drastically.

Another speaker was Kirsty Gogan from Energy4Humanity with her personal tale on how she became an advocate for evidence based energy policy. E4H is an NGO that is focused on bringing evidence-based energy policy to the table while recognizing the enormous need for developing countries to increase their energy use and the living standards of their people. Anouk ter Brugge spoke about her experiences in representing (almost alone) nuclear energy in COP22 climate negotiations under the Nuclear4Climate initiative, and how nuclear is still being ignored as a climate solution even at such high level. Their stand at COP22 even got vandalized by anti-nuclear activists.

Me and Janne Korhonen, my co-author of our book Climate Gamble, gave the final presentation, asking the audience for their opinions on some energy and nuclear related questions/myths that are often circulated in public debate but often have little basis on reality. Some of the presentations can be downloaded here.

Politics make nuclear politically problematic

Right now, new nuclear in The Netherlands is not realistic, since it is not on the political agenda. The same holds for many OECD countries, especially in Europe. Nobody talks about it, and if nobody talks about it, we will eventually lose one of our most powerful tools in mitigating climate change. This will likely lead to an open-ended licence to keep on burning. It is obvious that we need to start talking more about nuclear, and take back the initiative from the anti-nuclear establishment.

That establishment is steering humanity on a dangerous road where evidence is disregarded and dogma rules the day. People deserve to know what the benefits and possibilities of nuclear are compared with other options. The nuclear industry certainly needs to go out there and participate in the discussion in a whole new way.

Civil society needs to participate as well. Organizations like Energy4Humanity and other pro-evidence environmental groups, often hailing themselves as Ecomodernists, need to do a lot more, and they need everyone’s help to do it. The established anti-nuclear organisations have global budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. They are using those resources to deny us our most efficient tool to mitigate climate change.

It is encouraging that there are people able and willing to discuss the Nuclear Elephant in the room. Now we need to keep the momentum, take the initiative. The facts and the evidence is on our side. Physics is on our side. When we get the people on the side of rational policy, the politicians will follow.

The Nuclear Elephant – Symposium materials and photos

This artivle was first published in Fennonen.

Content Discussion

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on May 8, 2017

The established anti-nuclear organisations have global budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. They are using those resources to deny us our most efficient tool to mitigate climate change.

Sad but true. Witness Germany.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 9, 2017

Well, first take a look at e.g. the plans of entsoe how to enhance the grid for 100% renewable power supply, without significant extra storage.
The tell what nuclear should provide useful in such a environment.
– it costs much more per TWh than wind or solar power this way reducing the amount of CO2 which can be avoided
– it takes a very long time to build the plants and a cignificant number of nuclear power plants gets never completed. So a lot of additional CO2 gets emitted while nuclear projects are under construction and can not deliver power
– it is too inflexible and to costy per kWp toprovide residual power, so it does not integrate with wind or solar power.
The amount of storage or reisidual pweor production, e.g. from biomass is shrinking with rising grid size and strength. This is a way how renewable powered grids can be designed and run safely. Naturally this does not fit to people interested to sell other ways of power hgeneration than wind, solar, biomass and hydro (and a few other renewable modes of power generation of lesser importance)

Thorkil Soee's picture
Thorkil Soee on May 9, 2017

Helmut Frik
You write:
“significant number of nuclear power plants gets never completed.”
2017 May 01 World Nuclear reports the following:
447 reactors, with a capacity of 392,000 MW are operational.
59 reactors, with a capacity of 63,400 MW are under construction.
Some reactors in Europe, especially in Germany have been closed for political reasons.
Please inform me about how many reactors have never been completed for technical reasons.

Further you write about “renewable powered grids should provide stability.”
Here I want to mention the following:
Solar power (PV) is basically synchronized in Europe.
Similar power from wind turbines depends upon unreliable and synchronized weather systems.
Contrary to many Green Dreams, the North European wind is almost synchronized.
On http://www.reo.dk/CustomerData/Files/Folders/9-udgivelser-pdf/275_danish-and-european-energy-2015-iia.pdf you will find a very comprehensive evaluation of the North European wind.
On page 22 you will see (normalized) data from Austria, Belgium, Czech Rep., Denmark, Spain, France, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Sweden and Germany.
Over this enormous area, the wind power varies quite a lot.
Maximum 269 % of average and minimum 18 % of average (7 % of maximum)

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 9, 2017

Your question confirms that Helmut is right!
Helmut:“significant number of nuclear power plants gets never completed.”
You: “…how many reactors have never been completed for technical reasons.”

So you ask for a subset of Helmut’s never completed nuclear plants, for which you know the result is favorable as near always other motives*) cause that nuclear plants are not completed.
_____
*) Most frequent causes (often a mix): Endless long construction period, escalating costs / constructor break down (now with Westinghouse), etc.), changing market circumstances, etc.

Though ‘endless’ escalating long construction periods and escalating costs can also be considered as technical as it indicates bad project management, wild guessing in stead of careful calculations, etc.

Such high risk taking seems to be an inherent part of nuclear engineering and even operations! When one compares the long lists of accidents by the 400 nuclear reactors with those of many thousands of Boeing 747’s which have to fly in extreme different environments.

Your and World Nuclear’s 447 operational reactors are a typical example of nuclear cheating. There are ~403 operational reactors in the world (~40 are in Long Term outage; most of those will never restart).

With such attitude regarding facts, it’s not amazing that nuclear is such disaster.

Seems, there is something wrong with the mentality / culture of nuclear people. They cannot be trusted.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 9, 2017

Thorquil, I will not follow your strawman and fake argument style of discussion.
But if you calculate the corellation of wind between these countries, you will find it drops linear from 1 an zero distance to 0,05 and lower in 1500km and higher distance. Just check it with the detailed data. it’s not that complicated to let Excel do such calculations.

greggerritt greggerritt's picture
greggerritt greggerritt on May 11, 2017

Another nuclear disaster this week. (in Washington State) ) When will the shills for nuclear power learn that they have a VERY unsafe product and that no one wants it.

Jarmo talks about the budgets of activists against nuclear power, but he neglects the exponentially larger budgets for the proponents/manufacturers. And with their billions of dollars they still are failing. That says they have a very lousy product.

Nuclear waste is dangerous for thousands of years. Longer than civilization has been around.; Until you can prove nukes are SAFE and that we do not need to guard nuclear waste for 10,000 years you are going to continue to seem ridiiculous..

Paxus Calta-Star's picture
Paxus Calta-Star on May 11, 2017

“The established anti-nuclear organisations have global budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. They are using those resources to deny us our most efficient tool to mitigate climate change.” This is the most laughable of alt-facts i have seen in a long time. Would you like to cite any reference for this clearly false claim? I have worked for all of the major international anti-nuclear organizations. The combined budgets for nuclear for all these groups might be $10 million, this includes both weapons and reactors. You have no idea what you are talking about.

Paxus Calta-Star's picture
Paxus Calta-Star on May 11, 2017

What a funny article. Let’s not talk about theory, lets talk about hard facts. Which reactor would you like as the model of your new build nuclear plant in Europe? Would that be the EPR, wildily over budget and years (heading towards a decade) late in France and Finland? This design was also foolishly purchased by the Brits at Hinkley C at a price point which beyond what real renewables are selling for today? [See https://funologist.org/2015/10/20/worst-deal-ever/]

Or perhaps you would like the Gen 3+ reactor which has been started more than any other in the world. The Westinghouse AP1000, 4 in China plus 4 in the US. Oh wait, Westinghouse just went bankrupt because of cost overruns on these plants in the US. Parent company Toshiba is retiring from nuclear new builds completely as did Siemens not long after Fukushima.

Which specific reactors are you proposing Europe build. And please don’t bore with fantasies about SMRs or Thorium reactors. These are not yet ready for prime time, and may never be.

The revealing truth is that there is not a Gen 3+ design which has proven reliable, can be built on time and within budget anywhere in the world. Unless you want to have the Chinese build it, without a safety inspection culture.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 11, 2017

When will the shills for nuclear power learn that they have a VERY unsafe product and that no one wants it.

It would be nice if you’d EXERCISE SOME HONESTY and admit that this happened at the Hanford site, which was used for COLD-WAR WEAPONS DEVELOPMENT AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH NUCLEAR POWER.

Leaking tanks at Hanford are from reprocessing wastes—civilian nuclear fuel is not reprocessed!

The tunnel that collapsed contained railcars with contaminated equipment on them—nobody disposes of civilian plant parts that way.  Whole nuclear plants have been carted off and the sites restored to “greenfield” status.  I should know, I once toured one of them.

Civilian nuclear power is safer than anything else on the planet; wind power kills almost 4x as many people per TWh.

Nuclear waste is dangerous for thousands of years.

Hogwash.  After 500 years you can handle spent fuel with gloves.  Getting a little plutonium on you won’t hurt; the UPPU group averaged healthier, longer lives than the typical population.

Longer than civilization has been around.

The last I checked, Columbus sailed about 525 years ago and we have the same civilization now as then.

Until you can prove nukes are SAFE and that we do not need to guard nuclear waste for 10,000 years you are going to continue to seem ridiiculous.

Why should anyone have to dis-prove a claim that you clowns made up out of whole cloth?

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 11, 2017

The NRDC alone:  $133 million.
Greenpeace had “turnover” of about €85 million [http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/greenpeace/2016/Combined-2015-Yearend-Report-final.pdf]

That’s enough to prove that you either have no idea what you’re talking about, or are another professional propagandist/troll.

James Hopf's picture
James Hopf on May 11, 2017

Ridiculous? Literally everything in your post is ridiculous.

Starting with the biggest Whopper, that nuclear is “very unsafe”. Mindboggling. 180 degrees from all the facts, statistics, and scientific consensus. There has been exactly one significant release of pollution in nuclear power’s entire history, outside the (non-applicable) old Soviet Union, i.e., Fukushima. And that event (i.e., even that absolute worst-case event of a full meltdown of three large reactors) caused no deaths and is projected to have no measurable public health impact. Even the most pessimistic, theoretical estimates top out at ~100 total eventual deaths.

Meanwhile, most of the world’s electricity is produced from fossil fuels, and fossil power generation causes several hundred thousand deaths ANNUALLY, in addition to being a leading cause of global warming. That’s on the order of 1000 deaths every single day, and ~10 million deaths over the ~50 years that nuclear power has been around. So, over the last 50 years, fossil power generation has caused at least 100,000 times as many deaths, in addition to global warming.

Statistical analyses actually show nuclear to be the safest generation method of all, even safer than solar and wind (due to simple things like falling off of roofs and wind towers).

http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

As for the Hanford event, not only is that totally unrelated to nuclear power (wastes from a nuclear *weapons* plant operating in the 40s and 50s), but it’s utterly comical that you would refer to an event that didn’t result in any release of radioactivity or harm to any people as a “disaster”. Meanwhile, world coal generation killed ~1000 people THAT DAY (something that you seem relatively unconcerned about).

I’ll discuss waste in a follow up post….

Paxus Calta-Star's picture
Paxus Calta-Star on May 11, 2017

NRDC does not even oppose nuclear, if you read their materials carefully. And the amount that they spend on nuclear issues is tiny (and i have worked with them). Greenpeace does directly oppose nuclear, and the fraction of their budget that works on it is also tiny (i have also worked for them). This is your logic so others might understand it. “The US Federal government funds NPR. The federal government has over half a trillion dollar budget. Therefore NPR has over half a trillion dollar budget.” Go back to school.

Paxus Calta-Star's picture
Paxus Calta-Star on May 11, 2017

i guess you are just ignoring the Chernobyl fatalities low balled at 4K deaths?

James Hopf's picture
James Hopf on May 12, 2017

That nuclear waste is unique in terms of long-term hazardousness is a myth. The requirements and standards placed on its disposal are unique, not the hazard. I have to ask, why do you think that other wastes don’t pose a long-term hazard? Do you think that all other waste streams are non-toxic, or do you think that all other waste streams just become harmless after some relatively short period of time? If so, what is that (short) time period? I’m curious.

The fact is that there are many other long-lasting, toxic waste streams. And those waste streams are generated in many orders of magnitude larger volume, are usually in a much more dispersible, harder to contain physical/chemical form than nuclear waste (i.e., liquids, sludges and even gases, vs. ceramic pellets sealed inside corrosion resistant metal rods, in nuclear’s case), and are disposed of with infinitely less care. For all those reasons, those waste streams will pose a far *larger* hazard over the very long term than nuclear waste will. Note that solar and wind involve toxic elements that never decay away, which are generated in far larger volumes than nuclear waste.

Nuclear is the only waste stream for which we require demonstration (via very rigorous and conservative/pessimistic analysis) that it will remain contained for as long as it remains hazardous. Basically, a requirement that it does not now, and never will cause any harm, ever. No other waste streams are held to anywhere near that impeccable standard. Despite the uniquely stringent requirements, the nuclear “waste problem” has been technically solved, i.e., that standard can be met. The US NRC has concluded that Yucca Mountain would meet that standard. The Fins are also moving forward with actual repository construction.

Finally, we do not need to guard nuclear waste over the long term, any more than we need to guard or monitor any of our other waste streams. After the repository is fully loaded and sealed, it needs no further monitoring or attention. All of the technical evaluations for deep geological repositories assume no monitoring or any other activities over the long-term disposal period.

Finally, as for the finances of nuclear opponents vs. supporters, why do you conflate proponents and manufacturers? The utilities and companies that build and operate nuclear plants are relatively agnostic (they’re happy to build and operate whatever type of power plant people want). They do not directly lobby the govt. for nuclear support, to any real degree. The companies whole fortunes are directly tied to nuclear power specifically (i.e. Westinghouse and a few uranium mining companies) are very small and politically impotent. In terms of direct political pressure, anti-nuclear “environmental groups” wield far more influence.

As for more indirect influence, if you’re going to count utilities that operate nuclear plants, than you’d definitely have to count the (extremely powerful, rich, and influential) fossil fuel industry, particularly the oil/gas industry. Their influence dwarfs any influence of any pro-nuclear entities. And it’s pretty clear that they’ve been quietly lobbying against nuclear for a long time. It may even be true that the oil and gas industry is behind the whole renewables push, since the addition of such intermittent sources has the effect of causing coal and nuclear plants to be replaced by “flexible” gas plants (that can better back up intermittent renewables). Why do you think that they get to continually pollute the environment for free whereas nuclear is held to a standard of perfection, and any release of nuclear pollution, ever (no matter how rare) is considered a “disaster” (even though few if any deaths or other impacts result)? I see it as a sign of their powerful influence.

James Hopf's picture
James Hopf on May 12, 2017

Even the Finnish reactor will produce power cheaper than solar or offshore wind, in Europe. (But hey, with huge subsidies and outright mandates, that’s no problem!). The large percentage increases in the Finnish reactor are often discussed, but people forget that that’s all vs. a very low initial quoted cost of only ~$2,500/kW (i.e., ~4 billion for the 1600 MW plant). As a bonus, it produces reliable, vs. intermittent, electricity.

Another option would be the Russian plants like the ones currently being considered in Hungary, Belarus, and Finland. Also there are the Chinese homegrown plants, or the Korean plants like the 4-unit plant being built (on time and on schedule) in the UAE. All those options are significantly cheaper, and come from entities that have been building plants, successfully, and therefore have experience doing so (i.e., no first of a kind issues for those plants).

I would also add the NuScale, 45 MW SMR (not to be a bore). Nothing fancy or exotic, just a very small LWR. So small that it can go indefinitely w/o active cooling (rendering meltdown all but impossible). And even if fuel melting were to somehow occur, the release would be a tiny fraction of Fukishima’s (again, solely due to the small size and geometry – nothing “needs to work”). The potential release is so small that radiation levels above the range of natural background would not occur anywhere outside the site boundary (i.e., the land area with radiation levels above the range of natural background would be negligible).

The reactor is so small that the entire module can be shipped on a rail car, or ship, etc.. This would allow the modules to be fabricated in just a few large scale assembly line factories, and shipped all over the world. That allows the reactors to be built where it can be done cheapest. High volume, repetitive construction should also result in higher quality, with fewer defects and associated hold ups. And yes, those factories would most likely be in places like China, where there is ample demand and the fabrication cost is low (due to cheap labor and other factors). Note that this is what China did for solar panels (their cheap manufacturing is largely responsible for the drop in solar costs). They should be able to do this for nuclear as well.

You seem to imply that the Chinese with their “no safety inspection culture” would be able to build reactors on time and on budget, at a reasonable cost. On this, we actually sort of agree. Yes, it is the excessive regulations and quality requirements, based on the notion that (unlike other industries) everything nuclear does must be held to a standard of perfection, that is mostly responsible for nuclear’s current high costs. Current requirements are wildly out of line with the potential hazards involved. The Chinese (and Koreans and Russians) can build reactors at a reasonable cost, and part of the reason is that they actually has the *correct* level of regulations and QA requirements. They are actually sane, and in line with the level of hazard. Back in the 70s, regulations were sane in the US too, the result being large reactors built at ~1/3 the cost that they are today.

You doubt that SMRs could ever be built at a reasonable price. I half agree with you. With no relaxation in the current, absurd regulations and QA requirements, you’re probably right. But given their inherent near immunity to meltdown, and much smaller potential release, it is even more clear that such requirements are not necessary or called for with SMRs. With reasonable requirements, in line with the potential hazards, along with high-volume assembly line construction, I believe that SMRs can be competitive. Let’s find out. I hope the Chinese will take the lead.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 12, 2017

Well the UAE are building the for reactors as test run. And they built solar and wind as test runs too. After that they decided to invest heavily in more wind and solar, and drop further nuclear investments. So much about real world costs of nuclear.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 12, 2017

Yeah, right.  Try 31 fatalities on-site with possibly a couple hands-full off-site (11 at most among the cleanup workers, most of whom did not die from radiation-related disorders).

The total is less than 50, a number you could put on a single bus.  Compare to 150,000 dying every year from coal emissions in China alone.

And no, the “New York Academy of Sciences” book was NOT prepared or vetted by NYAS and has been a total embarrassment to them.  It ought to be a total embarrassment to anyone who cites it as authoritative, but we’ve seen that most anti-nuclear ideologues have no shame whatsoever.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 12, 2017

Even if it did cause 4K deaths, that adds 0.05 deaths/TWh to global nuclear power. Wind and solar has lifecycle estimates of 3 and 9 times that number, respectively. Coal in the US is at 300 times.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 12, 2017

There was no “disaster” at Hanford. It was a minor incident.

Global fatalities from bad air quality is around 20,000 every day. That’s a disaster. We are destroying the climate as we speak. That’s a disaster. Every nuke saves around 200 lives per year. Have you contributed to shutting one down or prevent one from being built? Then blood is on your hands.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 12, 2017

I have worked for all of the major international anti-nuclear organizations.

Then the blood is on your hands.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 12, 2017

NRDC does not even oppose nuclear, if you read their materials carefully

No points for spin in the fine print. NRDC opposes nuclear at every decision point that matters, as you know if you worked for them.
Start with clean energy portfolios, or RPS in US: nuclear not invited by the NRDC.

The claim that small fractions of green budgets go to nuclear opposition is misleading. The organizations are large, and every soul working there, every executive, fund raiser, legislative liasson, and grass roots activist is expected to comply with main the message point, regardless of their area of focus.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 12, 2017

The revealing truth …

Is that S. Korea, Russia, and China build gen 3 at a price competitive with coal, build times 5 to 6 years. So did the US under the AEC with high build rates. This occurred prior the advent of the US NRC, and its politicized leadership levying new mandates on builds *after* design approval, all to the approval of groups like the NRDC, Sierra.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 12, 2017

NRDC does not even oppose nuclear, if you read their materials carefully.

Their materials are propaganda.  Their actions speak totally differently; NRDC authored the first draft of the Obama “Clean Power Plan”, which created REWARDS for shutting down well-operating nuclear plants and replacing them with gas-fired turbines.

And the amount that they spend on nuclear issues is tiny (and i have worked with them).

Everything they spent on people at the EPA writing the CPP, and on getting the access to do it, was almost 100% aimed at destroying the US nuclear power industry with payoffs to the gas industry.  Nothing else explains the CPP’s elaborate clauses and incentives.  For instance, if OCGT at 550 gCO2/kWh is good, CCGT at 330 gCO2/kWh is better… but the CPP had NO requirements or even incentives for CCGT.  Once you skated past 550 grams CO2 you were home free.

Know why that was?  It’s because the utility companies have used the repeal of PUHCA to get back into self-dealing for fuel, so they profit on every cubic foot they sell to themselves.  The more fuel they burn, the more they earn.  The less-efficient OCGTs make them more money.

NRDC will tell you they’re not spending money to do X, but when you look at where they are actually doing X and how much they’re spending, you’ll realize they’re lying to you.  Just like when they take the entire DOE nuclear budget as “subsidy” for commercial nuclear power when almost all of it goes to Hanford cleanup (WWII/cold war weapons), current nuclear weapons, and the ITER.  They are very accomplished liars.  They can get away with it because you fail to question them.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 12, 2017

I would also add the NuScale, 45 MW SMR (not to be a bore). Nothing fancy or exotic, just a very small LWR.

Factoid:  The current design of the NuScale reactor module weighs 700 tons.  A typical Mississippi river barge has a displacement of 1500 tons and a width of perhaps 35 feet, so a barge could easily carry 2 at a time.

Coal plants not co-located with mines must be served by rail or water for their fuel supply, so practically every coal-plant site is already equipped with everything necessary to bring in NuScale modules to replace the coal boilers.

Geoff Thomas's picture
Geoff Thomas on May 12, 2017

James, not believing in Nuclear does not mean supporting fossil fuels, – there seems to be a problem with Nuclear Protagonists in understanding set theory, as others have pointed out, eg that Greenpeace spends x amount per year so that greenpeace spends all of that on anti nuclear, – not logical, you may as well argue that every cent spent on coal and every worker in the coal industry is money spent on promoting coal, whereas most people just want their lights to come on when they press the switch. Out in the real world, if Nuclear lived up to it’s claims, it would be cheaper than coal so retailers would buy only from Nuclear powerstations, – however they do not, simply because Nuclear generated power is more expensive. – In fact, the retailers buy from Wind and solar power generators because they are significantly cheaper than Coal. – It is the fault of Nuclear that coal fired power is killing thousands of people, not the fault of Wind, Solar, Bioenergy, tidal, wave, etc. that Nuclear just can’t cut it, – it is not just that Nuclear is last weeks fish, but that it is too bloody expensive, – no matter the theory, retailers don’t buy it. The electricity market is capitalistic, retailers buy the cheapest power they can. – Interesting that fossil fuel companies are getting into Wind, one would have thought The Competition, – but as coal fired power stations are closing all over America, they know where the money is.. The offshore wind sector is seeing rising interest from Oil and Gas majors as earnings in the maturing European offshore market cut project costs.

Norway’s Statoil and Royal Dutch Shell are increasing investments in offshore wind projects and these firms bring decades of operational efficiencies in offshore installation and maintenance practices.

Statoil recently bid a record-low price of $535 per acre to win a New York offshore wind lease and last month the group submitted an unsolicited request for a previously-unleased area offshore Massachusetts. By 2030, Statoil could spend as much as 15-20% of total capex on “new energy,” according to the company’s latest outlook.

Shell is a shareholder in the Blauwind II consortium which recently bid a record-low Dutch offshore price of 54.5 euros/MWh to build the 680 MW Borssele 3&4 windfarm.
– see for yourself, ..http://analysis.windenergyupdate.com/construction/oil-majors-offshore-wind-buy-ins-set-accelerate-opex-reductions?utm_campaign=WIN%2029MAR17%20Newsletter%20A&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&elqTrackId=82af6724bcea4763813074313ae6db69&elq=6b8c1471e9824d308c5e28128165d6f4&elqaid=26899&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=12567 Cheers, Geoff.

Geoff Thomas's picture
Geoff Thomas on May 12, 2017

Jesper,
“Then the blood is on your hands.” – what a ridiculous biased judgemental reply, One could better argue that the blood of the coal fired power industry is on the hands of the Nuclear industry as the Nuclear industry set itself up to and got Humungous funding to, provide the power of the future, – which it is not doing, and can not do, and now is trying to blame Renewable energy for it’s (The Nuclear industry’s) failure, – We would all be a lot better off if there had never been an attempt to have a Nuclear industry, all it has done is suck up and wasted all the development money that would have produced a much more developed and diversified Renewable Energy, that would have displaced coal ages ago, and will anyway, – but in the meantime the coal industry has fouled our atmosphere with global warming CO2 that will very seriously affect the future of the human race, – that is the blood you are trying to shift away from the Nuclear industry, and you should have the decency to acknowledge your mistake and move on.

Geoff Thomas's picture
Geoff Thomas on May 12, 2017

EP, There is no actual price per kilowatt nor kilowatt hour on the Nu Scale website, and it is not expected to be available till 2025, – and observing Nuclear Powerstation developments of late, will be lucky if it is 2035.
– Let’s hope it doesn’t waste any more money than the Nuclear industry has already wasted, ‘the biggest scam job in American history,’
– The website points out, “The company estimates a twelve-unit NuScale plant would cost $5,000 per kilowatt. In comparison, the Energy Information Administration in 2011 estimated costs to be $4,700 per kilowatt for conventional nuclear power, $4,600 for a carbon sequestration coal plant and $931 at a gas-fired plant or in excess of $1,800 for a gas-fired plant with carbon sequestration” And no indication that there aren’t problems as yet unsolved, which may make it impossible altogether.
– Wouldn’t want to bank the future of the human race on that one!!
Cheers, Geoff.

Geoff Thomas's picture
Geoff Thomas on May 12, 2017

Mark, Would like to see your justifying figures on S. Korea and China, not speculative, but real costings, and their estimated cost for disposing of Wastes, and how,
– Russia will say anything and probably just bulldoze their fuel rods into the local tip, otherwise your leading assertions are probably vastly incorrect, and your attempt to blame groups who attempted to reign in slack observances just an excuse for a technology that has never been worthwhile.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 13, 2017

This is not a start:

The Netherlands … plan to build 15 gigawatts of offshore wind power … it is only a start.

The av. consumption of NL is ~120TWh/a, which implies on av. 14GW. New offshore wind in the N.Sea operates at CF’s of 50% – 60% thanks to the bigger wind turbines (8MW~ 16MW)

It implies that this plan will deliver an offshore wind production of 55% – 60% of all electricity NL consumes.

Add that Dutch electricity is generated now already for:
~40% by CHP installations (most to heat green houses).
~10% by wind. solar and biomass.
– that solar and onshore wind are expanding too.

So with this plan, renewable + CHP will deliver >100%!

Btw.
Our only NPP, Borssele, won’t last long as its marginal costs are now >30% higher than the av. whole sale price of electricity in NL (~€30/MWh).
Its shareholders had to deliver a €200mln bank guarantee to prevent that it was forced to stop already (enough for max. 5yrs). The NPP already stripped its decommission fund which now contains ~€175mln, while ~€1billion is needed (compare Vermont Yankee).

So this nuclear saga may end with the Dutch tax payer paying about a €1 Bilion and more by next generations as there is no solution for its nuclear waste after half a century looking it..

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 13, 2017

Nuclear power is only safe when one follows the distorted view of pro-nuclear.
E.g.
Chernobyl death print is estimated from 31 (EP below) or 43 (James Hansen etal) via >16,000 by nuclear promotion organization IAEA, towards at least a million (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences).

Considering that:
– near 1% of the worlds nuclear reactors ended its life in a disaster costing hundreds of billions (us$) to be paid by the citizen as nuclear laws restrict liability to very low amounts;
– nuclear liability for the waste it produces is restricted to <100years, while the waste stays dangerous during thousands of years (a burden for next generations who have to pay to keep it safe);

Nuclear power is not only unsafe, but it also socializes major part of its costs, such that the innocent citizen has to pay…

Btw
When we wait another decade pro-nuclear people may declare that Chernobyl caused no deaths…
They do that already wrongly with Fukushima.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 13, 2017

You (and Greenpeace) seem to have problems with addition.

not believing in Nuclear does not mean supporting fossil fuels

It doesn’t matter what you say you support.  Opposition to nuclear hands every kWh it doesn’t generate off to some other source, and that source is almost always coal (or natural gas if we’re lucky).  In Germany it’s lignite, the worst of the worst.

there seems to be a problem with Nuclear Protagonists in understanding set theory, as others have pointed out, eg that Greenpeace spends x amount per year so that greenpeace spends all of that on anti nuclear

So you believe that there is no such thing as either creative accounting or multiple/hidden agendas.  Do I really need to repeat that we’re done with such delusions?

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 13, 2017

This is exactly the kind of absurd handwaving which epitomizes Greens, only it’s getting more hysterical as their failures keep mounting up:

We would all be a lot better off if there had never been an attempt to have a Nuclear industry, all it has done is suck up and wasted all the development money that would have produced a much more developed and diversified Renewable Energy, that would have displaced coal ages ago, and will anyway

All of the “diversified Renewable Energy” was there long before anyone learned how to use fossil fuels to provide motive power, or even seriously use it for heat.

Biomass denuded the countryside and led to fuel poverty.
Wind was unavailable much of the time, and wound up restricted to e.g. draining water from polders.
Solar was feast-or-famine and countercyclical to the most important needs.
Hydropower was limited, drove runs of migratory fish to extinction and also was slave to the weather.

And now you want to do it again, only harder?  Clinically insane or evil, pick one.

Nuclear industry set itself up to and got Humungous funding to, provide the power of the future, – which it is not doing, and can not do

So you’re saying that nuclear power did NOT provide up to 78% of the electricity in France?  The two choices above are still the only ones supported by evidence.

One could better argue that the blood of the coal fired power industry is on the hands of the Nuclear industry

Which would require the coal, oil and gas industries to have arisen AFTER nuclear power, and for wind and solar to have been latecomers also.

This is utter ahistorical nonsense, a complete reversal of time order and thus cause and effect.  Only a complete nutcase could believe this, but an evil person could want others to believe it for their own purposes.

Clinically insane or evil:  which one are you?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 13, 2017

Paxus, the revealing truth is that any Gen II design from thirty years ago would be preferable to burning coal. They’re safe, they’re efficient, they work for a long, long time.

Why set the bar too high – or is that the goal?

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 13, 2017

The most interesting thing about your posts is your self-contradictions.

EP, There is no actual price per kilowatt nor kilowatt hour on the Nu Scale website

Two points below you quote “The company estimates a twelve-unit NuScale plant would cost $5,000 per kilowatt.”

Cost per kWh depends on a bunch of overhead factors and especially the cost of money.

and it is not expected to be available till 2025

If Greens actually took ACC as seriously as the noise they make about it, they would insist that we start forging vessels today.  And on an actual war footing, we would.  Probably two years ago, AAMOF.

Know what a NuScale will generate in addition to 45+ MW of electricity?  110+ MW of heat, at temperatures high enough for space heat.  That’s equivalent to about 375,000 cubic feet of natural gas every hour.  You’d need a third wall to prevent mixing of steam-loop fluid with hot water for distribution, but with printed-circuit heat exchangers that’s only a hit of a few degrees C.  At 50¢/therm-equivalent, that’s almost $1900/hr in additional revenue.  If you could sell 50% of the heat (space heat doesn’t sell in summer, of course, but DHW is always in demand) that’s an additional $8.2 million/year in revenue.  That’s an extra 3.4%/year return on a 47.5 MW plant costing $5000/kW.

The emissions cuts are immense.  Compared to the baseline 550 gCO2/kWh generator of the soon-to-be-defunct Clean Power Plan, carbon-free 47.5 MW(e) @ 90% capacity factor cuts 206,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.  If you add to this another 110 MW(t) of heat at 50% CF replacing natural gas at 55.5 MJ and 2750 gCO2/kg, that’s another 86,000 tons/year of emissions eliminated.  Together that’s 292,000 tons/y of emissions just gone… eliminated by a unit 16 feet in diameter by about 85 high and weighing just 700 tons.

Serving the USA’s current average electrical load of ~450 GW, plus a small increment for a growing PEV fleet, would take perhaps 10,000 NuScale units.  This brings the annual savings up to 2.9 billion tons per year.  That is almost 60% of TOTAL US CO2 emissions of 5,171 million tons in 2016.

Note that you’re left with another 50% of the low-grade heat to play with.  You can get things like 3-season outdoor swimming pools for the cost of plumbing.  This is the kind of thing that Icelanders enjoy from their geothermal hot water.  Why not us too?  After doing such a great thing for the environment, I’d say we’d deserve it.

Harry Degenaar's picture
Harry Degenaar on May 15, 2017

@Helmut Frik – Nowhere does https://www.entsoe.eu show any plans on how to enhance the grid for 100% renewable power supply. They do show 30% nuclear in the generation mix by 2050. You are well known as an anti-nuclear activist, good in making up your own stories. Show me one scientific peer reviewed paper covering a model of a 100% renewable only grid for the size of Europe or even Germany.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 16, 2017

Entsoe’s 2016 Ten Years Development Plan shows that for 2030 the share of renewable is estimated to be 45%-60% in the EU.

Apparently German Energiewende is loosing some of its head start regarding renewable, as other countries (e.g. France) move faster towards more renewable since renewable became cheap.

Couldn’t find your statement regarding 30% nuclear in 2050 at your link. It’s not part of the recent 10years grid development plan…
But may be someone at Entsoe copied the notorious / famous wrong estimations of EIA & IEA regarding the position of wind, solar and nuclear.
The reason experts now use Lazards to estimate (future) costs, etc.

Btw.
Entsoe = European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity.
Transmission systems / networks / grids target to serve the needs for transmission. Which is a different business than generation. So:

Entsoe plays no substantial role in decisions regarding the method of electricity generation.
Entsoe even cannot execute grid improvement plans, only propose to national grid operators.

Harry Degenaar's picture
Harry Degenaar on May 16, 2017

On the topic of replacing coal plants. China’s plans to begin converting coal plants with, walk away, safe nuclear SMR 630 MWe Plants starting in the early 2020’s. They intend to build some 300 of them during the next 20 years. This SMR HTR-PM Reactor is also earmarked for export by 2023.
http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/12/chinas-plans-to-begin-converting-coal.html

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 16, 2017

Well if you don’t like to find something, you don’t find it.
If you’d want to find it, you’d find the reference to this project http://www.e-highway2050.eu/e-highway2050/ where in Scenario 3 you find the 100% renewable grid.
But maybe you’d prefere the fossil (+ nucleaar) scenario.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 16, 2017

You stretch the SMR definition by calling 630MWe an SMR.
No statement in your link that the HTR wouldn’t require an elaborate staff.

Agree that the helium cooled High Temperature pebble bed Reactor has a better chance than the Molten Salt Reactor MSR).*)

However:
Its high costs was the reason the HTR who operated ~8yrs in USA was not followed by more reactors. There is no sign that Chinese engineers succeeded in bringing those costs substantial down (except for the lower costs due to the low wages in China).

So one can question whether the HTR project will survive the pressure of Chinese competition, which will come up in the long run.

Btw.
Note that they are experiencing similar cost overruns with the HTR as we in the west.
_____
*) The huge Chinese MSR project seems to be stalling. Not strange since they failed to find:
– better material for the reactor than the Hasstelloy-N of ORNL (those guys did an excellent job);
– Fluoride salt mixture that would allow for substantial lower operating temperatures than the 700°C of the ORNL experiment.
So they still face unacceptable fast wear of the material (steel) used for the nuclear components (reactor vessel, pumps, first heat exchanger, pipes)

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 16, 2017

France demonstrates that high nuclear share is too expensive:
Even last known quarter, it’s average whole sale prices belonged to the highest in the EU. ~2cnt/KWh higher than the 3.8cnt/KWh in Germany (check figure 8).

So France installed laws to follow Germany. Faster than the German Energiewende; reducing nuclear share in its electricity production with 2.5%/a, which will be compensated by increasing renewable accordingly.

Especially since French govt institute ADEME showed that 80% renewable is the cheapest option for 2050 and that 100% renewable is only few percent more expensive.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 16, 2017

Opposition to nuclear hands every kWh it doesn’t generate off to … In Germany it’s lignite…

Wrong. Check the facts:
First nuclear plant closure due to the Energiewende was in 2003. Production figures:
In 2002 lignite: 158TWh, coal: 135TWh, nuclear 165TWh.
In 2016 lignite: 150TWh, coal: 112TWh, nuclear 85TWh.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 16, 2017

Nuclear is the only waste stream for which we require demonstration … that it will remain contained for as long as it remains hazardous.

Why accept a risk that the genes and health of our next generations are harmed, while there are 2-5times cheaper methods available that don’t generate any such waste?

While those alternative methods also emit 2-5times less CO2/KWh, are 3-10times faster to implement, and require about 10 times less land per KWh.

Not strange those methods are taking over from nuclear, especially since they continue to decrease in costs (with 3-10%/a), while nuclear continue to increase in costs…

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 16, 2017

Nuclear is unsafe.
Just consider the only ~400 reactors the world has and the long lists of minor and major accidents as well as the many frauds by nuclear management.

Frauds such as e.g. in US at SONGS (false info to NRC in order to avoid testing new designed SG’s), in France at Creusot (falsifying test results for nuclear parts), Korea (also falsifying that nuclear parts were tested), etc.

Accidents; near 1% of the worlds nuclear reactors ended in disaster harming people around. At least another 1% of the worlds reactors ended its life prematurely due to various accidents.

The Boeing 747 seems to have a better track record.

Harry Degenaar's picture
Harry Degenaar on May 16, 2017

@Bentvels – Your remark “You stretch the SMR definition by calling 630MWe an SMR” – First of all I wrote SMR 630 MWe Plant. This plant is made-up from 3 x 210 MWe modules and each module has two reactors. The idea of SMR is that you can build a plant from reactor modules.

Construction of the Chinese HTR-PM began in 1995, The prototype reactor located at the Tsinghua University in China,achieving its first criticality in December 2000. So by now they have 17 years of research data. The USA never had such a reactor. The Peach Bottom 1 was a 115 Mwt (40 MWe) reactor in the United States was the first HTGR to produce electricity, and did so very successfully, with operation from 1966 through 1974 as a technology demonstrator.

I don’t understand your question whether the HTR project will survive the pressure of Chinese competition. What HTR project is this.?

The huge Chinese MSR project is not stalling at all. Research is well underway in the USA, Europe and China to develop the required material for the reactor. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/542526/china-details-next-gen-nuclear-reactor-program/

I am in contact with scientist and engineers on the progress of the Chinese HTR-PM project and your statement that they are having cost overruns is not known to me or you.

Harry Degenaar's picture
Harry Degenaar on May 16, 2017

@Bentvels – The Netherlands is only a small country and is used to having wind mills and bicycles. Countries like France and the UK have different requirements. The people in Finland (small population) have embraced nuclear electricity generation and are the worlds first to construct a deep geological waste repository.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 16, 2017

Chinese HTR-PM costs overruns?
Read the article linked in your previous comment.
I cite: “It is about twice the initially expected cost.”

Chinese MSR stalling?
They started their huge MSR project in 2011, visited ORNL and got all info from the old scientists involved in the MSR experiment of the sixties.
Their trial reactor 2MWth would have been up and running during about a year by now. As far as I know they even didn’t start.

At the TU Delft MSR symposium it became clear they didn’t solve either of the two issues I mentioned in my previous comment. Nor did I see any other publication which clearly solved those major issues.
May be you can help with such publications?

What HTR project is this?
The Chinese HTR-PM project you state.
Of course they get funding for their first reactors, but when the numbers become substantial the issue will come up which technology (PWR or HTR) is cheaper…

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 16, 2017

People in nuclear countries like France and UK suffer from an about 4 times less reliable electricity supply compared to NL, Germany, Denmark.

Don’t see that people in UK and France have different requirements.
They also want reliable and cheap electricity.

UK’s new nuclear won’t deliver that. And UK whole sale prices are already the highest in the EU, on av. more than 1cnt/KWh higher than in Germany (check figure 8).*) While UK has more than enough cheap offshore wind potential to serve the whole country!

Scotland does it even with onshore wind only. It’s still expanding wind fast towards 100% renewable.

Luckily for its population France realized they were on the wrong path with nuclear and installed recently laws to:
– reduce nuclear share with 2.5%/a, faster than Germany; and
– increase renewable share accordingly.
_______
*) We in NL earns good money buying German electricity and selling it to UK. Alas our undersea power line to UK has not much capacity.

Harry Degenaar's picture
Harry Degenaar on May 16, 2017

@Bentvels – As every engineer understands, construction (mega project) of a first of a kind plant will always have over time an increased delivery cost. China’s HTR-PM 630 MWe nuclear reactor project is squarely aimed at being a cost-effective solution. They plan is to construct after completion of the demonstration HTR-PM 210 MWe plant (going critical late 2017), two further commercial HTR-PM 630 MWe plants and from this experience they will apply the learning curve to lower the costs, expecting them to approach the $2,000 to $2,500 / kw capacity range. Lowering the cost will also come from factory manufacturing the SMR modules and shipped them to the construction sites.

Old scientists, nothing wrong with them, are you one of those types that discriminate against older people, fyi – I am 70 years of age. Are you a scientists.? Young material scientists at the Delft TU and the Karlsruhe TU are very much involved with new material research on Fusion Reactors and MSR Reactors. Some of them are involved with http://thmsr.nl/

Strange conflicting wording, “So one can question whether the HTR project will survive the pressure of Chinese competition, which will come up in the long run.” The Chinese competing with themselves.!

Harry Degenaar's picture
Harry Degenaar on May 16, 2017

@Bentvels – As this discussion thread started, 48% of Europe’s clean electricity comes from Nuclear.

There is nothing wrong with the UK. They got rid of burning coal.
http://energynumbers.info/gbgrid

There is also nothing wrong with France.
http://www.rte-france.com/en/eco2mix/eco2mix-mix-energetique-en

There is something wrong with Germany.
https://www.energy-charts.de/energy.htm

Harry Degenaar's picture
Harry Degenaar on May 16, 2017

@Bentvels – Right now the export from the Netherlands to the UK is zero. I must say that the UK has an excellent energy generation mix and it will even get better. http://energynumbers.info/gbgrid

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