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Will an Independent UK Emphasize Nuclear Energy?

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When the dust has had a chance to settle, effects of the UK voter decision to leave the EU on the UK nuclear energy and climate change mitigation programs will become evident. In the meantime, bloggers and other observers will continue to do what they do, which is to offer opinions in spite of enormous uncertainties.

Yesterday, I published a piece providing my own interpretations on what I think the Brexit will mean to the Hinkley C project as well as what it will mean to the UK nuclear energy program in general. I also touched on what I consider to be a logical extension of that argument to a comment on the effectiveness of the UK’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

I also promised to share insights that I have received from other people that I consider to be experts, some who are UK citizens and residents and some who are observing from this side of the Atlantic.

Here is the common question that I posed to my sources.

I’d like your on the ground opinions about the effects that the Brexit vote will have on nuclear energy development in the UK. If you have any opinions on its effect on nuclear energy in the rest of the EU, feel free to offer those as well.

Andy Dawson is an energy sector systems consultant and former nuclear engineer who lives and works in the UK. He is a UK citizen. He provided me with a lengthy and thoughtful response. I’ll summarize it so that I can allow room for other responses.

First of all, Mr. Dawson declared himself to be a Brexit supporter. His reasons were left for another conversation, but nuclear issues played a minor role.

He noted that the UK has been significantly more open to nuclear energy than most traditional EU states and that the EU has issued a number of mandates for renewable energy production that specifically exclude nuclear. Austria and Luxembourg have actually gone to the European Court of Justice to challenge the deal done to encourage the first of a kind Hinkley C.

The huge project is worrisome to EDF unions and some managers because they are concerned that a failure to complete construction at an economic rate would put their pensions and other benefits at risk. As a company, EDF has announced that it remains committed to the project.

Dawson also believes that other UK nuclear projects based on Hitachi’s ABWR and the Westinghouse AP1000 will continue to move forward, if for no other reason than “those vendors have no other real options in Europe as launch pads for their designs.” He applied the same logic to the CGNPC Hualong-1.

According to Dawson, the EU has few free trade agreements with countries outside of the block. “It’s hard to see how Brexit would limit the ability to reach deals with new vendors” like South Korea.

Dr. John Bickel, a safety and reliability consultant who lives in the US but occasionally works in the UK, provided the following commentary.

It certainly ends the Austrian-Luxemburg challenges to issues of state support to British energy firms.

I just came back from two weeks in London on a legal case – and even the folks who wanted to stay in EU were getting totally fed up with what they saw as “outside meddling” in what should be UK sovereign affairs. Yes it will take two years for the divorce to go into effect – a lot can happen in two years but the goofy anti-nuclear policies of Brussels elites will not longer be driving the agenda in Britain.

The next two countries to watch will be France and Italy – where there are also sizable majorities that are tired of the EU meddling in their affairs.

Dr. Wade Allison is a UK citizen and resident. He’s an Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and the author of several books including Nuclear is for Life: A Cultural Revolution and Radiation and Reason.

Dear Rod
I was a Brexit voter for the very reasons you have articulated.

Today there are many in the UK who are surprised, shocked and horrified, but later they will appreciate the step that has been taken.

The barrage of advice and dire warnings about Brexit came largely from committees, bodies, corporations and institutions.

Noticeably, those speaking in favour of Brexit were individuals, some of whom are held in high regard, unalloyed by collective-think.

Many opinion formers in the UK are influenced by the anti-nuclear philosophy and politics of Germany and Austria that are backed by EU-wide regulations.

But plenty of UK voters object to being muzzled in this way — and nuclear is only one example.

The good news is that the UK will now be free to use its judgement on nuclear energy and work with others worldwide to ensure the future.

Steve Aplin, a well-known blogger and energy industry professional who publishes Canadian Energy Issues, noted that Brexit’s effect on nuclear is probably far larger than nuclear energy’s effect on the Brexit vote.

How much did “central” EU anti-nukery regarding Hinkley fuel the sentiment that drove the vote?

I bet it was a smallish factor that played at most a minor role in contributing to the anti-EU noise — if it was a factor at all.

After several correspondents chimed in with the opinion that nuclear energy considerations most likely influenced few, if any votes, Aplin responded.

I’m just testing the validity of interpreting the vote as, among other things, a rejection by Brits of a very wide ranging and deep seated view of environmental stewardship on the part of the predominant nation in the EU.

The World Nuclear Association published a detailed thought piece about the Brexit effects on a number of nuclear related issues. It did not add much that has not already been mentioned, but it mentioned potential negative effects on fusion research.

Professor Steve Cowley, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, told the BBC he was “very concerned” by the implications Brexit would have on funding research programs. Researchers are afraid, he said, that £55 million in annual European Commission funding would be withdrawn.

The Joint European Torus (JET) investigates the potential of fusion power as a safe, clean, and virtually limitless energy source for future generations. The largest tokamak in the world, it is the only operational fusion experiment capable of producing fusion energy. As a joint venture, JET is collectively used by more than 40 European laboratories.

Fusion research has no relationship to energy and climate change solutions. Until it can be demonstrated to produce a sustained output that exceeds the energy input requirements, it is merely an intriguing research problem. It’s had that status for the past 60 years and shows no indication of graduating to reliable power production for at least another 60 year years.

The engineering, technical and construction talent engaged in that activity could be put to more productive uses.

Update: (Added 6/28/16 at 10:45 EDT) Lenka Kollar, the owner and editor of Nuclear Undone is a native of Slovakia who is currently living in Austria. She provided the following thoughts.

Hi Rod,

Thanks for your recent post on Forbes about how Brexit will affect nuclear energy. I think that its a good post and I’m sure you’re received a number of comments on it.

I agree that, without EU regulation, it will likely grow in the UK but also think that, in the UK’s absence, countries like Germany and Austria will have more influence on EU energy policy and therefore you could see nuclear energy decrease in the rest of Europe. Austria has already successfully shut down reactors in neighboring Eastern European countries in exchange for entrance to the EU and I think we will see more of this because these countries benefit from EU infrastructure funds and have less bargaining power. The UK has usually been on their side, not only in terms of energy policy but also other regulation. So this could be great for UK energy policy but not so good for the rest.

It will be interesting to see what really happens in the next few years.

During the interval between publishing the above information on Forbes.com and now, I had the opportunity to watch a speech given by Amber Rudd, the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. She was addressing the Business and Climate Summit: Working together to deliver real climate action, which was held in the City of London and attended by senior representatives of most of the heavy hitters in Britain’s energy and financial sector.

Read carefully, the speech contains broad hints of a sustained focus on using nuclear energy in order to fulfill — and perhaps exceed — climate commitments in a serious, measurable way. Here’s what I mean.

When The Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP said, “As a Government, we are fully committed to delivering the best outcome for the British people – and that includes delivering the secure, affordable, clean energy our families and business need. That commitment has not changed,” I started listening closely.

After a number of statements focusing on renewable energy achievements, I began to get a little concerned that the land of my ancestors had chosen to follow Germany into a technological dead end. Then the Right Honorable Secretary started to make some sensible statements. She said “We said that security of supply would be our first priority,” and I realized she couldn’t possibly be referring to wind or solar energy.

Next she said, “We have agreed to support up to 4GW of offshore wind and other technologies for deployment in the 2020s – providing the costs come down.” Her limitation told me that those offshore wind deployments will never occur; there few known ways to reduce the cost of building, deploying, operating and maintaining equipment in the harsh, at sea environment. The British people have known that since the 1600s.

The hinting halted with this clear statement of intent, “We remain committed to new nuclear power in the UK – to provide clean, secure energy.” She quantified the expectations, 18 GW of projects already being seriously developed, eventually employing at least 30,000 people directly in the construction effort and manufacturing effort.

During the 5-year spending review, the UK will devote at least £500 to innovation in energy systems focusing on systems that are “reliable, clean and cheap.” That sounded good, but the following sounded even better. “As part of that programme, we will build on the UK’s expertise in nuclear innovation. At least half of our innovation spending will go towards nuclear research and development…Our nuclear programme will include a competition to develop a small modular nuclear reactor – potentially one of the most exciting innovations in the energy sector.”

My sense is that the UK has gained enough experience with renewables to know they are incapable of supplying much more than they already do without massively depowering the economy. That is not the kind of prospect that will make already disillusioned citizens who voted in surprising numbers to get out from under onerous restrictions being imposed by the EU.

Nuclear energy success will expose annoyances like outlawing tea kettles and toasters as trivial, unnecessary gestures attempting to cover for the fundamental unreliability of weather-dependent power sources.

In a few years, we’ll be able to look back to use hindsight to evaluate the accuracy of the predictions.

Note: A version of the above first appeared on Forbes.com under the headline of How Will Brexit Affect UK Nuclear Energy? Variety Of Views. It is reprinted here with permission.

The post Will an independent UK emphasize nuclear energy? appeared first on Atomic Insights.

Photo Credit: Neil Stokes via Flickr

Content Discussion

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on July 5, 2016

Fusion research … shows no indication of graduating to reliable power production for at least another 60 year years.

Funny that 60 years was chosen … the old joke is that fusion is 40 years away and always will be.

Perhaps fusion is being impacted by the same anti-nuclearism as fission. It can be argued that the best way for fusion to contribute to our energy system is as a replacement for the fission-based fast breeders to work symbiotically with light water reactors (LWRs). Conventional (tritium-deuterium) fusion is much more neutron-rich than fission, so that each MWatt of fusion reactors can (theoretically) support a couple of times more LWRs than could a fast breeder (see fusion-fission hybrid). (as absurd as it may seem, I’m still a fan of the nuclear hegemony system in which every nation can enjoy safe, clean, nuclear power, but only the chosen few can fully control the fuel cycle, and the onerous paperwork that goes with it).

But the latest wave of fusion hype is centered around a radio-phobic form of fusion called aneutronic fusion, which is to say, it produces far fewer neutrons than normal fusion. Advocates of the technology claim that tritium-deuterium fusion is so easy that they have moved on to the greater challenge of fusion using normal hydrogen and boron (“proton-boron fusion”). This fuel combination requires much higher temperatures and pressures to ignite, but produces only non-radioactive helium as a fusion product, unlike tritium-deuterium which also produces fast neutrons. Tri Alphas Energy for example, is a startup company trying to develop the technology.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on July 5, 2016

High-energy neutrons are a problem because of neutron spallation in nuclei between the first wall and the lithium blanket (creating radioactive isotopes by the curie), and the associated neutron damage to the materials from having atoms knocked every which way.  The energy of neutrons can only be captured as heat.  Aneutronic plasmas can be tapped for energy by MHD, which is potentially a much more efficient way to generate electricity.

Karel Beckman's picture
Karel Beckman on July 6, 2016

I find it pretty amazing how poorly informed this article is – or rather, the people quoted in it. The “Brussels elites” do not oppose nuclear power. That is just totally wrong. The EU has no policy on nuclear power, as member states are too divided. Whatever policy inclinations there are in Brussels, they lean in favour of nuclear power, as can be seen in the latest PINC (which I guess most people engaged in this debate have never heard of) or in the EURATOM treaty. Or indeed in the decision of the Commission to allow state aid to Hinkley Point C – another point which people here do not seem to have grasped. Brussels has been behind Hinkley Point all the way. True, Germany and Austria oppose nuclear power, but they are not the EU or Brussels. There is France, too, remember?
As to offshore wind not being able to reduce costs, that is just prejudice, not based on facts. Check out this story on Bloomberg earlier this week: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-05/dong-energy-win-what-may-be-world-s-cheapest-offshore-wind-deal Dong is now building offshore wind for 8 cts/kWh

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 6, 2016

Well Dong Energy already reaches Strike prices well below Hinkley Point strike prices for Offshore Projects: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2463995/dong-energy-set-to-smash-offshore-wind-cost-reduction-record
Things are changing faster than many opinions.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on July 6, 2016

The problem is that grids don’t run on LCOE.  They run on dispatchable generation with reserves, which no wind farm can supply alone.  So long as the dispatchability of the generators on a renewable-heavy grid relies on fossil fuels, there will be a solid and rather high floor to the emissions it can achieve.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 6, 2016

Which just shows that you dont understand the mathemathics around stochastical functions ant theis summarations.
Subscribe to a good university, and learn.
The only thing needs to do for wind is, to cover enough area.
Correlation of wind breaks down to zero on distances >1500km.
The summaration of uncorellated stochastic functions converges asymthotic to a constant output. So mathematical inevitable the output of wind in sufficient big grid converges to a constant output. Where only LCOE counts, if baseload is what you want.
Grid extensions are far cheaper than expensive nuclear experiments. And with far less economic and other risks.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on July 6, 2016

Karel, thanks for that POV from Europe.

The Energy Collective had two commenters: Joris Van Dorp (posting from the Netherlands), and Bas Gresnigt (posting from Belgium ?) who would disagree with your assessment. Bas was banned from TEC, and Joris has been missing in action for a while, so possibly the situation has changed.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on July 6, 2016

Helmut, I have to admit, I don’t understand “the mathemathics around stochastical functions ant theis summarations” either. For all purposes, they look to me like “deliberate obfuscations and misinterpretation of statistics in support of an ideologically-driven agenda”. But maybe Google Translator is failing me, too.

http://translate.google.com

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 6, 2016

Maybe it fails for you.
But mathematics is clear on this topic.
lim (n ->infinite) SUM(i=1…i=n)of fi(x) -> const with f(x) a stuchastical function so with y=f(x) is a random result with certain stochastic parameters (stadard deviation, average, etc) and fi(x) uncorelatet to fj(x) .
Translation seems to be correct, maybe some semsester of higher mathemathics at university are missing?
Unfortunately I do ot see any possibility to write nice looking mathematic fiormulas here.
But this fact is needed to calculate the output of complex electronic circuits when inputs with randome characteristisc are applied at the input, so the fact that the electronic devices you use work as you want them to prooves that mathemathics works here as usual. Same mathematical fact also works with wind power in large grids. As sure as 1+1=2.
Siame mathemathical principle just with different kinds of functions caueses that although the single fission happens at randome the thermal output of a nuslear reactor is constant, and not randomly jumping up and down.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on July 6, 2016

The only thing needs to do for wind is, to cover enough area.
Correlation of wind breaks down to zero on distances >1500km.
The summaration of uncorellated stochastic functions converges asymthotic to a constant output.

Meanwhile, on 3 July in the REAL world, winds across the entire continental USA plus southern Canada and northern Mexico were below the cut-in speed for wind farms except for two sites reporting, one around San Antonio TX and one in NE Montana where there is not much of anything.  Winds at neither were high enough for more than minimal output.

Further, wind power availability scales as the cube of wind speed.  The sum of the individual measurements themselves is irrelevant.  I suspect you know this, as your well-practiced spiel shows that you’re used to being able to snow people who don’t have any knowledge in the area.  That makes you a con-man at best, and inherently untrustworthy.

Grid extensions are far cheaper than expensive nuclear experiments.

Meanwhile nuclear France has some of the lowest electric rates and emissions in Europe, while Germany’s rates are among the highest while still having stubbornly high emissions.

Take it to Greenpeace, Mr. Frik.  Nobody here is buying what you’re selling, save perhaps Joe Deeley.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 6, 2016

Yes it shows you are trained to obfuscate things. Meanwhile wholesale prices in France are significant higher than in germany, and EDF is forced to lift end user prices higher because no further financial support will come from gouvernment to cover that EDF spendings on nuclear power plants constantly exceeds earnings from nuclear power. Main difference between german and french power prices are taxes etc. which are higher in germany than in france. But this is not the topic here.
Here: https://earth.nullschool.net/#2016/07/03/1500Z/wind/isobaric/1000hPa/orthographic=-136.02,31.83,420/loc=-125.106,43.235 you can take a closer look where the wind is at that day, e.g. around 10m/s in Texas, and richt at east and west coast.
And getting stronger the higher you look above ground: https://earth.nullschool.net/#2016/07/03/1500Z/wind/isobaric/850hPa/orthographic=-136.02,31.83,420/loc=-100.556,45.480

What you show is typical for trying to confue people
a) you take ground wind speeds for wind speeds at hub height, tryint to tell wind is below ciut in wind speed. Wind speed at hub height is significant fifferent from ground wind speed. In power output a error of one magnitude.

b) you choose the size of grid and the smoothing effect you want by deliberate decision, not by calculation, and system design. Adding two areas which are 1500km apart does not smooth wind perfectly, it just reduces the likelyhood of having the output of the lowest 10% to 2%, and tha same for the high output. The same if you add a third area, and so on. With every area variability becomes smaller. and extreme situation shorter in time, reducing amoutnts of storages needed step by step.

I can also tell you that nuclear power stations are useless, because about 10% of time they produce no power at all because being offfline. You woud then tell that if you have enough power stations in the grid there will always be onloine. The copy of your argument here against nuclear would then be to choose e.g. 3 nuclear power stations, and show that there are times when all 3 of them are off grid simultaniously. Wow. DOes this proof thart reliability of nuclear power does not increase with the number of stations in the girid? No it does not. As your have no argument with your link showing variability of wind does not decrease with the size of area a grid covers. It decreases inevitabely. With it decreases need for other generation and amounts of storage. Adding solar power, which is anticorrelated to wind, decreases variability further.
The question to discuss is: how big is the grid required to be? If you ask the chnese state grid operator, the’d choose the brute force solution, eliminating all variability: http://img.welt.de/img/wirtschaft/crop149840654/9809402092-ci16x9-w780/DWO-China-Stromnetz-sk-1.jpg Do I hear next that the chnese state grid operatorhas no idea about grids?

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on July 6, 2016

Note Frik’s bait-and-switch.  He does not claim that effective wind power cannot all go to zero over continent-spanning areas.  He claims it is uncorrelated, which is a different thing.

We understand how you lie, Mr. Frik.  We also understand why.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 6, 2016

So when you come to the end of your wisdome, you start insulting people, and call them “liar”, if they constantly use the correct mathematical terms. IT shows just how poor your knowledge is, and how bad your education.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on July 6, 2016

July looks breezy compared to August in the continental US.

Try 14 August 2015 for a continental dog day. Nothing spinning anywhere in Texas. In the US, the wind goes on vacation in August every year.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on July 6, 2016

So when you come to the end of your wisdome

You mis-spelled “limits of tolerance”.

you start insulting people, and call them “liar”

Only the ones who lie.

if they constantly use the correct mathematical terms.

But that is your offense.  There is no way you cannot know that wind power in the real world is unreliable and falls well below immediate needs even when averaged over very large areas; this continent-spanning deficit from July 3 is just one of many examples.  So instead of acknowledging this real-world problem and working to do something about it, you retreat to mathematical abstractions which have no relevance to reality.  You try to convince the uninformed that there is no problem, when there is a HUGE problem.

You know what you are doing.  It’s no accident, it’s deliberate.  That is the essence of a lie:  the intent to falsify or mislead.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on July 7, 2016

Mark, Just curious by what you mean by vacation – wind was down a little bit in August 2015 – but not really that much.
Also, if wind provides more than 10% of TX electricity this August(2016) would that still be vacation?

One last question – do you really think nothing was spinning in TX on 14 August 2015?

In other words if I said the capacity factor of wind in TX on that day was in the high 30%s for multiple hours and averaged 15% for the entire day you would call me a liar – according to Engineer Pet’s definition above.

Nice weather map.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on July 7, 2016

Hey Engineer-Pet

You said the following:

Meanwhile, on 3 July in the REAL world, winds across the entire continental USA plus southern Canada and northern Mexico were below the cut-in speed for wind farms except for two sites reporting, one around San Antonio TX and one in NE Montana where there is not much of anything. Winds at neither were high enough for more than minimal output.

Is this really what you mean? Just checking first – see below.

You know what you are doing. It’s no accident, it’s deliberate. That is the essence of a lie: the intent to falsify or mislead.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 8, 2016

See below. There is wind power in the US also in the US, and not just from two wind turbines.
Look at the definition of a lie and your own posts.
Low wind in summer was the largest headache for researchers on renewable power supply in the 1990’s and this headache is gone with the arrival of cheap solar power, and also with the idea that expanding grids to really big areas is not really expensive, compared to continental power plant equipment.
There is no way that you can not know that wind equals out more and more the bigger you span the grid, it’s a mathemathical necessity. If you would call yourself sociology-poet, ok maybee, than you might not know anything about mathemathics. but wit “engineer” in your nickname you ignore facts by will obviously.
And if you look at costs – A trillion dollar in relation to the worldwide power supply equipment is not even peanuts. A trillion dollar spent on highest volt DC equipment buys you a hellable lot of wires to wrap around the whole world in all thinkable directions.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on July 8, 2016

Good job explaining Helmut – but I am sure we will these “wind maps” used again in the future.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 8, 2016

Sure they will. There are the same kind of nuclear power station emplyees with no idea about mathemathics, physics in general and grids in detail around in europe too.
Showing some wind map, and jumping off to another topic whan you show the production data of several countris where they claimed that there was no wind that day.
And also ingnoring that a good system combines many sources in a big grid. There is no cause to worry if locally wind is low if the sun shines like crazy.. And it is always possible to shape the demand curve with prive incentives to fit to the constant output of nuclear power, but doing the same to move the demand to noon where sun is stronger is completely impossible although having things running at noon is far more convenient for the people than having things running at three o’clock in the night to accomodate nuclear power.
And suddenly when their nuclear power station is closed down they are gone from discussion.
Lets see if our non engineer poet lets us know what his profession is.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 8, 2016

Here a repy which reached my by mail, but is not visible here any more :

————————————————————–
” And here we have an example of Law #3, SJWs Always Project:
Yes it shows you are trained to obfuscate things.
After which Mr. Frik proceeds to obfuscate and deceive with half-truths:
Meanwhile wholesale prices in France are significant higher than in germany
Now why would that be, Mr. Frik? Perhaps it is because so much German electric generation is massively subsidized by “environmental” fees levied on retail consumers, and those generators sell well below their cost—even selling at negative wholesale prices because they’re still making a profit, as others not favored by the distorted markets take losses?
and EDF is forced to lift end user prices higher because no further financial support will come from gouvernment to cover that EDF spendings on nuclear power plants constantly exceeds earnings from nuclear power.
Of course, there is no “taxe environnementale” paid to EDF to support Paris’s “Transition Énergétique” and allow the lowering of French wholesale electric prices. That would also “lift end user prices higher”, but it’s different when YOU do it, isn’t it Mr. Frik?
b) you choose the size of grid and the smoothing effect you want by deliberate decision, not by calculation
Take a look at this clown. 1. He thinks I chose a “grid”. That’s a Unisys weather map which reports the readings from higher-profile weather stations, mostly on airports; I had nothing whatsoever to do with the selection of reporting points. 2. WHAT “smoothing effect”? All I can tell you is that the typical spacing between reporting nodes is a lot less than 1500 km, and if there’s significant usable wind anywhere in the continental USA it’ll be reflected on that map.
you take ground wind speeds for wind speeds at hub height, tryint to tell wind is below ciut in wind speed. Wind speed at hub height is significant fifferent from ground wind speed.
Standard weather stations have their anemometers at 10 meters above the ground. Wind speeds over normal terrain typically follow a 7th-root distribution with altitude; going to 100 meters increases them less than 40%. 5 knots at 10 meters is still well under cut-in speed at 100 meters, and 10 knots @ 10 meters is still below a 15-knot cut-in speed at 100. There’s also this pesky little fact that wind farms radically increase the surface roughness and make less wind energy available downstream of them; that 7th-root law only applies to the first row of turbines for many tens of miles. That’s one other thing that Greens claimed would not happen, but turns out to happen anyway.
I can also tell you that nuclear power stations are useless, because about 10% of time they produce no power at all because being offfline.
You need to stop trying to use rhetorical tricks in English. You do not know the language well enough to do that. You only make it worse when your rhetorical claim has very successful real-world counterexamples (in France, Sweden and Ontario, to name 3) and you have exactly ZERO examples to back up your claims. So far I’ve caught you trying to evade using irrelevant mathematics and false equivalences. Why don’t you just stop?”

———————————————————————–

At first : http://www.windenergie-im-binnenland.de/powercurve.php for cut in wind speeds. Cut in wind speed, where a turbine starts producing power is at 2m/s for a E141. so 3.5 knots. At 15 knots which you claim still to be below cut in windspeed so at 27,72km/ h or 7,7m/s the turbine is already aroung 1500kW, Hub heights are today usually above 100m beside areas where ground is especialy smooth and wind speed rises faster with height due to this. e.g. over the ocean or at treeless flat land.
And about EDF – obviously nuclear poer is not so cheap when it produces losses for EDF. Wholesaleprices and prices for larger industrial consumers are lower in germany than in france.
The rest is not worth answering, maybe because of this the post was withdrawn.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on July 8, 2016

Helmut, it’s great that you are trying to use math to understand the world. But your assumption that wind speed at different wind farms is random and uncorrelated needs to be checked against actual data. Furthermore, your assumption that transmission cost is low enough to neglect is also problematic.

The good news is that this analysis has been done for us! Previously, I provided a link to a very detailed study of this very question (wind power smoothing with long distance transmission), from NOAA and UC Boulder: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n5/full/nclimate2921.html

Basically, they say if the cost of fossil gas quadruples from today’s values (and coal is forbidden), then clean sources would contribute 62% (that’s wind, solar, hydro, and a substantial nuclear component). That’s more than triple as dirty and polluting as France’s 90+% non-fossil grid (which is built around nuclear power).

I believe you complained previously that this study was only about cost. Well, the fact that the study found that marginal cost rose rapidly with renewable penetration tells the whole story. This rapid increase in cost with growing renewables (which occurs around 50-40% fossil fuel) is effectively “fossil fuel lock-in”, and will leave our grid CO2 emissions much higher than scientists tell us it needs to be. (The cost axis on the graphs below represent the cost per MMBtu of fossil gas which is displaced; the vertical axis is the resulting equilibrium grid mix that results).

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on July 9, 2016

At first : http://www.windenergie-im-binnenland.de/powercurve.php for cut in wind speeds. Cut in wind speed, where a turbine starts producing power is at 2m/s for a E141. so 3.5 knots.

A whole 3 kW, less than 0.1% of rated output.

At 15 knots which you claim still to be below cut in windspeed so at 27,72km/ h or 7,7m/s the turbine is already aroung 1500kW

The graph shows a bit over 1000 kW at 7.7 m/s; it doesn’t cross 1500 kW until about 8.5 m/s.  It pretty closely follows a cubic curve, going up roughly 8x between 5 and 10 m/s.

The point, which you keep blowing smoke to try to evade, is that except for 2 rather small areas most of the habitable part of N. America had next to no wind power available on July 3 at 0430 Z.  Even worse:  if you made an aggressive effort to collect it, wind-shadowing would even stop it from blowing very hard there.

And about EDF – obviously nuclear poer is not so cheap when it produces losses for EDF.

Do you seriously think EDF’s existing (Westinghouse-derived) fleet is not profitable?  Do you think Areva’s fuel business is not profitable?

The EPR is Areva’s first-ever original reactor design.  It was designed by people who had no direct experience with construction of nuclear plants, the personnel who built the original fleet being long retired.  With its massive redundancy and double containments, it was obviously an attempt to please everyone.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that it winds up pleasing no one, except the reflexively anti-nuclear (like you).

Wholesaleprices and prices for larger industrial consumers are lower in germany than in france.

If the industrial customers had to pay the environmental fee, they would be out of business.  Many smaller businesses have moved to France to escape it.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on July 9, 2016

A long reply to Helmut Frik is stuck in moderation.  These filters need some tuning.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 10, 2016

You referenced this before, it is the likely transtiton till _2030_ but transmission costs really have been calculated many times, as well as the correlation of wind over long distances. First references which come to my mind is Gregor Czisch, but there are many others too. From this it is also known that distance for uncorrelation in the westwind drift area which is relevant for europe, and as far as I know also for the US and canada, distance for uncorrelation is a bit higher than 1500km in east west, and a bit less for north-south direction.
You will also know the prediction of ERCOT that with highest likelyood in the future only nw solar power wil be built in their region.
Your graphs are also questionable in the nuclear part, where a phase out is under way wherevewer larger repairs are neccesary, while the graph expects constant output till 2030.
You should not cherry pick the only graphs which are in favor of your opinion, but also look at all the other studys on the market.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on July 10, 2016

Helmut, you write (and spell) like a German six-year-old who has stumbled upon Dad’s Einführung in Kalkül text, and is convinced assembling the concepts and symbols in random combinations might impress.

But keep at it. “1+1=2” is a nice-looking equation which makes sense.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on July 10, 2016

Bob,
Careful with the comments

Clayton Handleman's picture
Clayton Handleman on July 10, 2016

Really? Wind is down in the day in the US but not off and solar is quite . . . well . . . sunny.

http://content.caiso.com/green/renewrpt/20150814_DailyRenewablesWatch.pdf

Clayton Handleman's picture
Clayton Handleman on July 10, 2016

“We understand how you lie” Those who live in glass houses . . .

Clayton Handleman's picture
Clayton Handleman on July 10, 2016

I couldn’t get inside the paywall but interesting that the data inside is so at odds with the abstract:

“Our results show that when using future anticipated costs for wind and solar, carbon dioxide emissions from the US electricity sector can be reduced by up to 80% relative to 1990 levels, without an increase in the levelized cost of electricity. The reductions are possible with current technologies and without electrical storage. Wind and solar power increase their share of electricity production as the system grows to encompass large-scale weather patterns. This reduction in carbon emissions is achieved by moving away from a regionally divided electricity sector to a national system enabled by high-voltage direct-current transmission. ”

Wow 80% reduction, and that is with “current technology” . Wonder how it changes with 140m towers for wind, large deployment of EVs with real time pricing and GtoV to absorb production surpluses at essentially now cost or degradation to the distributed battery.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on July 10, 2016

No need to look at CA – the entire country was generating significant amounts of wind on that day.

Helmut explained it – but I am sure we will see those weather maps again in future.

Here is fuel mix for MISO on that day -note that in Northern Miso (Iowa) wind provided 20% of total generation.

By the way , it was also a good day in TX.Same goes for EPs day – Jul 3rd – plenty of wind.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on July 10, 2016

Clayton,
Here is an “appendix pdf”

You can see most of the assumptions there. For instance, the “low solar” assumption will easily be eclipsed by 2030 – if not 2020. Also, they decided not to include storage – but mentioned that they are looking into further studies with low cost storage.

In particular, you may also be interested in off-shore wind assumptions.

Finally, if we do get some more flexible,modular nuclear then numbers will change as well.

Good study overall and agree with you that the abstract conclusion is actually very promising.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on July 10, 2016

Yes, as is common with most of the studies done for renewable energy, there is a strong bias in the abstract and press release for optimism. In fact, there is almost an implicit, “if cost were no object…” in the data interpretation (the 80% renewable case was only achievable at very high cost). In contrast, articles in the green press about nuclear always conclude this clean energy source is not acceptable while fossil fuel is cheaper.

I have not read the peer-reviewed/pay-walled version, but the free supplemental information is quite thorough. It actually includes a discussion of storage: their optimization chose zero storage when the cost was $1.5/Watt, and storage was still negligible at $0.75/Watt (see p. 25 of supplemental info).

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on July 10, 2016

” And it is always possible to shape the demand curve with prive incentive ”

It is always possible to adequately demand shift only in a world with infinite funds to pay incentives. The fact that demand incentive schemes have been around for decades and peak demand remains in the afternoon by two or three to one times slack demand indicates this world is one with limited funds.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on July 10, 2016

You should not cherry pick the only graphs which are in favor of your opinion, but also look at all the other studys on the market.

Agreed. Unfortunately, due to editorial bias on the part of the researchers doing the pro-renewable work, the graph I showed is seldom provided.

The US NREL (national renewable energy lab) developed the computer model which predicts thermal power plant dispatch, renewable generation as a function of weather, and transmission line construction which was used in this NOAA (the US weather service) study. So clearly they could easily have provided the plot, but they have never chosen to do so (but the careful reader can see the hints in the NREL publications such as EWITs and RE Futures).

I’m not in the least persuaded by wind studies that look only at correlation coefficients. This is incomplete, and there is no excuse for using this data when there is better data available (i.e. studies like the one from NOAA which include real load data, transmission cost, and distances).

Every engineer or scientist who spends an hour thinking about the problem will conclude that the renewable penetration versus cost graph will have the shape that it does (high pen renewable is much more expensive than low pen). So NREL is basically allowing the general public to believe a lie that is spread implicitly by optimism, and explicitly by green journalist who don’t know any better: that if we just put our faith in solar (and throw up barriers to nuclear), fossil fuel use will magically go away.

Similar studies have been done for Germany as well. I’m sure you’ve heard the name Lion Hirth; his studies describe the difficulties with Germany’s renewable plans. On the other hand, your Fraunhofer is like our NREL: they gather lots of good data which technical readers understand to indicate problems, then write optimistic abstracts for the general public.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on July 10, 2016

” not really that much.”

August wind generation per EIA was 37% below the Spring high for the entire US. In other years the drop has been 40%. In regions, the swing obviously can be much worse.

A year may occur where the August September seasonal wind drop is mild, but this fact is of no use to the design of reliable power grid.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on July 10, 2016

So are you saying that the abstract description of article is wrong?

Our results show that when using future anticipated costs for wind and solar, carbon dioxide emissions from the US electricity sector can be reduced by up to 80% relative to 1990 levels, without an increase in the levelized cost of electricity

And by the way the future anticipated costs for solar are too high.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on July 10, 2016

Interesting that you did not reply to the “nothing spinning in TX on Aug 14” comment. Amazing that with nothing spinning the CF is 15%. Would have been really high if they were actually spinning, right? Hopefully that is the last time we see your map.

Another interesting item. Below is wind in TX as % of Total generation for August since 2010.

2010 – 3.7%
2011 – 4.0%
2012 – 4.2%
2013 – 4.7%
2014 – 5.6%
2015 – 6.9%

By the way, the last couple of years, wind has performed better in Aug vs the average for year as a whole. Interesting.

All that said,TX needs to get solar going.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on July 10, 2016

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on July 10, 2016

Joe –

i) The weather map is of course not mine, it is NOAA data hosted by Unisys. That weather graphic does not depict the daily average wind speed. The graphic does not depict the highest wind speed for multiple hours. The graphic depicts surface wind speed at a moment in time (1 minute resolution from NOAA) given on the map. I suppose a doubling of surface wind speed is appropriate at 80M elevation (multiplier of 80^0.143), so that 3-7 kts on the surface goes above cut-in at 80M, plausibly producing the reported 15% wind CF in Texas at 0715 central time.

A worse doldrum pointed out by the NOAA weather maps was Sept 7, 2013, 1215Z where ERCOT reports 3% CF at the 7AM hour, when solar is also no help, and wind fell to 1% at 10AM. MISO at the same hour was less than 7% CF (839MWh / 12239MW)

ii) Wind generation across the year is highly seasonal in the US and Europe, a trivial fact. In the United States as a whole, that month is almost inevitably August per the US wind series I referenced above. In ERCOT, that month is most often August or September but varies occasionally. In 2013, Texas wind generation fell by half in September from its Spring peak. All this is available at the same EIA wind link by selecting Texas instead of the US as a whole.

iii) The fraction of load from wind in any given moment, if wind happens to be above cut-in speed, can always be driven to 100%, in theory, by overbuilding wind, and then throwing most of it away over the year, not an economical proposition.

eia.gov
/electricity/data/browser/#/topic/0?agg=2,0,1&fuel=vtvv&geo=0000000002&sec=g&linechart=ELEC.GEN.WND-TX-99.M~~~~~&columnchart=&map=&freq=M&start=200101&end=201604&ctype=linechart&ltype=pin&rtype=s&pin=&rse=0&maptype=0

ercot.com
/content/gridinfo/generation/windintegration/2013/09/ERCOT%20Wind%20Integration%20Report%2009-05-13.PDF

misoenergy.org
//MKTRPT_Archives/hwd_HIST/201312_hwd_HIST.zip

Sorry for the double post (pending)

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on July 10, 2016

If you like, drop the http and www prefixes – seems to avoid the filters.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on July 10, 2016

California’s poor seasonal wind is in the winter, January typically, and the seasonal variation is much higher than with ERCOT or MISO. In 2015, January wind for California was 12% of the annual peak. September wind is middling in CA; I don’t see it making up for the rest of the US in some future ~300 GW build out of CA wind and cross continental transmission at $7 million/GW-mile.

eia.gov
/electricity/data/browser/#/topic/0?agg=2,0,1&fuel=vtvv&geo=000000000004&sec=g&linechart=ELEC.GEN.WND-CA-99.M~~~~~&columnchart=ELEC.GEN.ALL-CA-99.M&map=ELEC.GEN.ALL-CA-99.M&freq=M&start=200101&end=201604&ctype=linechart&ltype=pin&rtype=s&pin=&rse=0&maptype=0

atcoelectric.com
/Projects/HVDC/Eastern-Alberta-Transmission-Line

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on July 10, 2016

Basically, they say if the cost of fossil gas quadruples from today’s values (and coal is forbidden), then clean sources would contribute 62% (that’s wind, solar, hydro, and a substantial nuclear component). That’s more than triple as dirty and polluting as France’s 90+% non-fossil grid (which is built around nuclear power).
…Well, the fact that the study found that marginal cost rose rapidly with renewable penetration tells the whole story.

I agree with the main point above about the rate cost escalation with renewable penetration. However, I believe the Nature article by MacDonald et al errs in the assumption of absolute cost, and is low by several multiples based on an estimate of transmission costs below what is actually realized in recent overland projects: $7 million/GW-mile. That is, renewables don’t hit 70 – 80% until gas MMbtu is double or triple the $14 indicated.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on July 10, 2016

“I have not read the peer-reviewed/pay-walled version”

One of the authors, Clack, provides a link to this slide deck summary:

ams.confex.com/ams/95Annual/webprogram/Handout/Paper262348/AMS_clack_RenewableEnergy.pdf

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 11, 2016

Well I do not put the graph in itself into question, just your conclusions.
The graph shows the renewables penetration in the grid till 2030. SO in a distance of time where not too much gas generation will go offline simply due to old age and need replacement by new generation capacity of any kind.
So it shows, how much gas generation, based on some assumption of prices for solar and wind, will be pushed out of market simply based on fuel prices, with some grid extension in mind also.
When time span is longer, the fraction of renewables will not remain static. The decision to build new renewable generation and to extend grids to push out gas generation based on price is much different from the question of building new gas gerneration or buils new renewables generation and/or expand grids.
In germany it is acknowledged, that so far renewable generation without support is not cheap enough to push existing conventional power plants out of the market only based on fuel prices. But it is as well acknowledged by the utilities, that new conventional generation can not compete with unsubsidied renewables in germany as well.
Which results in utilities having scrapped each and every plan for new conventional generation.
Existing generation closes down wherever bigger repairs are neccesary. Which will lead to rising wholesale power prices within some years again, which will decrease money spent on renewables drastically. And the proice trigger to build more renewables will be reached faster than reaching the price trigger to build more conventional power.
The price trigger to build several new power lines is already reached although many projects are already under way – e.g. the new connection to the netherlands was triggered by wholesale price differences.
Be aware that the sum of wholesale prices and EEG costs for endusers is about constant now for a decade.

Also reread the Documents of Fraunhofer sometimes, they conclude that without significant grid extensions storages will be needed in the area of 60-80% renewable penetration in germany, in detail depending on demand management, so e.g. on the penetration of EV in traffic and heatpumps in buildings. To get form 80-100% without power exchange over the boders will become increasingly storage intensive in germany alone, while it will not need new storages in really large grids. Well known and well studied during the last decades, and getting relevant soonest in 20 years.
Todays problems are inflexible nuclear (going offline soon, solving this porblem in grid management) and inflexible combined generation, solved by ataching large hot water storages to existing units.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 11, 2016

No the graph shows 1472kW at 7m for the E141. MAybe you look at some old turbine for which also graphs are available? Shows how carefully you look at the data.
And yes, EDF is losing money with teir existing nuclear fleet.
See:

http://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2016/03/10/la-cour-des-comptes-souligne-la-fragilite-financiere-d-edf_4880734_3234.html

http://www.lesechos.fr/industrie-services/energie-environnement/021684800564-la-renovation-des-centrales-nucleaires-inquiete-la-cour-des-comptes-1199159.php

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 11, 2016

I will not reply on insults. Come again if you have learned about mathemathics and are able to produce a substantial comment.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 11, 2016

No, it does not need more “funds” than available today to shape demand to fit to nuclear output. Reat the other posts, how much load is shifted today for this purpose.
But as usual shifting demand is always possible to be done in any amount at no costs at any time, while it is completely impossible to do this for renewables at any costs (Who finds irony in this text is allowed to keep it)

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on July 11, 2016

So wind is up when solar is down – and vice versa.
So to smooth out solar someone needs to built a storage with similar size than hoover dam to make it constant enough to fit to demand during the day.
Oh wait hoover dam was aleready build decades ago, just misses some turbines like many other similar dams……
At least this is about the result which dropped out of the calculations to optimise power production for europe and north africa, without giving the computer any prejudices for a special generation or grid dimensioning – optimum is at a ery strong gtid, some flexible biomass and using a psrt of existing hydrodams to adjust production to demand.
No batterys in the result, although naturally with batterys there are also solutions, just with reasonable prices of batteries not as the cheapest solution.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on July 11, 2016

The data speak for themselves: sometimes wind and solar are both insignificant, and over vast regions. Pumped storage projects require suitable geography, and the largest of these of these provide hours long backup, not seasonal. Standard hydro dams don’t lend as much storage as one might think due river water level requirements.

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