The province of Quebec, facing a fiscal crisis, recently decided to throw away a massive source of revenue by permanently mothballing its biggest electricity generator, the Gentilly-2 CANDU 6 nuclear reactor. G-2 was due at the end of 2012 to be shut down for refurbishment, which would have added 25 to 30 years to its operating life. But Hydro Quebec, the provincially owned corporation that owns G-2, said, through clenched teeth, that G-2’s 700 megawatts of capacity were no longer needed. Therefore, the refurbishment was cancelled, and the plant will be decommissioned.
Hydro’s teeth were clenched because Hydro doesn’t really believe that it doesn’t need G-2’s power. Hydro knew that there would be days like, well, today, when Quebec’s electricity demand would skyrocket: most homes in Quebec are heated with electricity, and daytime high temperatures across Quebec are in the minus low teens. That means that most of the province’s electrical output is being consumed domestically. Electricity exports to the U.S. northeast, a huge money maker for the province, are being cut back: as a provincially owned utility, Hydro Quebec’s legally mandated priority is Quebec customers. And Quebec’s fiscal coffers, badly in need of revenue at the best of times, are running out.
Meredith Angwin, a Vermonter who publishes the excellent Yes Vermont Yankee and argues that Vermont’s only nuclear plant is an asset and not a liability, suggests in a recent post that Hydro Quebec is a loser in this cold snap—precisely because of the foregone revenue. She is right. Quebec recently had an election, which followed a lengthy period of student unrest over university tuition hikes. Tuition was hiked because the province said it cannot afford to continue to subsidize it. There are a lot of things you cannot afford when you are short of revenue. It does not help if you permanently shut the door on a massive long term source of revenue.
If Hydro Quebec hates forgoing massive amounts of revenue—and who doesn’t hate that—then why did it decide to decommission G-2 instead of refurbishing it and enjoying another quarter century of steady revenue? Because Hydro Quebec is a provincially owned corporation. That means the provincial government owns it. The party that won the recent provincial election is the Parti-Quebecois, and among the articles of faith that guide PQ policy is anti-nukery. Even when nuclear power brings in huge amounts of money.
The PQ’s decision to decommission and not refurbish G-2 is being applauded by the usual anti-nuclear greens. They would rather Quebecers freeze in the dark and borrow money to subsidize university tuition than pay for that tuition by generating huge amounts of carbon-free electricity and selling it at a profit.
No doubt the government will be replaced in a few months after the Liberal party convention elects a new leader, and a few ambitious 3rd party opposition members are “persuaded” to support the Liberals.
The new government could then entertain bids to buy the machine or just do the reburb. With a few reburbs done cost should be dirt cheap – a lot less than new Hydro at 12 cents a kwh.
yes, the professional anti-nukes act like Lepreau is the gold standard, when actually Wolsong, the more recent refurbishment, went like clockwork.
If the plant leaves provincial control, it could be opened up to other uses such as testing of experimental fuels. It would be very interesting to see a test of DUPIC fuel, and operation of a CANDU as a thorium breeder would be another worthwhile test.
Any way for reason and fact to reverse this before the point of no return? Can’t believe Quebec is this clueless or scared about nuclear real story and advantages!
James, there could be a way. I bet Quebec is, during this cold snap, not getting all that much electricity from wind and solar. Nothing spells “unreliable” to an electricity customer like the experience of shivering in a cold house while the provincial government waxes poetic about “renewable” sources like wind and solar. Let the phony greens go door to door to explain to cold, stressed out people why wind and solar are the way to go.
What could Hydro Quebec *possibly* be thinking?!
Maybe it has something to do with base load being available on the open market under 3 cents (http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/marketdata/markettoday.asp – 2.8 cents on the meter as I write this and falling rapidly), while power from G2 goes out at about 5.5 cents and their Grande-Baleine goes out at about 1.1 cents?
It might also have something to do with the fact that Point Lepreau’s re-tube cost ~$3.8/W while GB went in under $2 *including* transmission infrastructure. In other words, they could build out 1200MWp of the 11 GW of water they currently spill and run it for all of history for the price of the 600MW that will be useless in 25 years.
Like I said, what could they *possibly* be thinking? Why didn’t they turn off that albatross a decade ago?
Don’t make me laugh. What does the price of power on the Ontario market have to do with Quebec’s electricity crunch? Put another way, how much three-cent wind power will Quebec be able to buy from Ontario in the wee hours? That’s where a pro-wind Homer Simpson would say… Doh!
And Lepreau — that’s what an anti-nuke would invoke if he/she wanted people to not notice Wolsong.
Maury is a reliably anti-nuclear poster on the Ars Technica websites.
Nuclear energy can only be so cheap because the producers shift most of the cost to the tax payers and their grand- grandchildren. Cost such as:
– the huge economic loss (houses, etc) in case of disaster
– the storage of radio-active waste after the first 100 years (that waste will stay radio-active for >100.000years)!
If those costs (insurance premium, etc) are taken into account, then nuclear electricity is far more expensive than electricity from wind mills, etc.!
So the power plant could only operate thanks to these huge concealed subsidies!
Bas, in Ontario and in the U.S. too the low low nuclear rate includes spent fuel storage.
How much would it cost to harden natural gas pipes against earthquakes? So much that it would make natural gas-fired power generation even more expensive than it already is. And up would go the cost of already-ridiculously-expensive wind and solar, since they cannot survive on a grid without gas backing them up.
Natural gas and wind/solar are what gets the subsidies. Factor in their true costs and nuclear is even cheaper.
The cost of the risk is ~5cents/kWh, which is >4,5cents concealed subsidy:
We have ~500 nuclear power plants in the world that operated in total ~10,000 years, and generated 2 major accidents.
Each of these accidents caused an economic damage of ~400billion.
That implies 1 major accident per 2000 reactor years.
So each nuclear reactor should pay an insurance premium of ~200million a year.
With a 600MW reactor this converts to an insurance premium of 5cents/kWh that have to be added to the price to find the real costs.
As old equipment (as Gentilly) have significantly more risks than average, the premium for old reactors should be significantly higher.
The caused damage with the accidents includes:
– huge area no longer inhabitable (for the next x hundred years)
– the properties of citizens that lost value
– the costs of moving, resettlement, compensation to people.
– economic activites that had to stop
The least costs are the losses of lives after decades due to enhanced radio activity (that operates the same as with cigarettes, no harm for the first 20years…).
The costs of such major nuclear accidents are now absorbed by the taxpayer and all those who had to flee, losing their house, etc.
The damage of gaspipes runs only in millions max.
And those costs are compensated for by the insurance of the operating company, while those of major accidents are not!
If you want to make gaspipes more earth quake resilient you should not harden them (that will make them more vulnerable).
Practice research try outs have shown that thin pipes made of low quality steel (that flows and bends well) is much more earth quake resistant.
Pipes of thick, high quality steel are the worst!
The forces of the ground with earth quakes are so big that they will have to bend anyway. As they cannot because of the high quality strong and thick steel, they will tear.
where are you getting these numbers, out of thin air? Sorry, but there is no comic book conspiracy to conceal the costs of storing the minuscule amount of used fuel that nuclear plants produce. Those costs are covered in the rate, and that rate is low. Sorry if that fact is so inconvenient for you.
By “harden” I mean make earthquake proof.
BTW, what does it cost to manage the waste product that gas plants currently dump into the air for free? The waste product is gaseous, and gas is harder to sequester than solid. Plus, gas-fired waste is orders of magnitude larger than nuclear waste. I’d rather you quit sequestering your CO2 in the world’s oceans. See if you can invent some way of storing millions of tons per year at the site where you generate the power, like nuclear plants do.
I showed the framework of the calculation of the costs of the risk based on the experience with nuclear power plants, that is subsidized in my previous post (=5cents/kWh).
Of course that calculation is not based on the theoretical unrealistic low chances that the power companies promote. As the amount of smaller and bigger incidents have shown that those figures are far to optimistic / wrong.
It would be nice if the cost price of nuclear electricity is below 10cents/kWh, but unfortunately it is not if you do a real calculation based on real figures to find out the real cost price…
So nuclear electricity is sold far below cost price thanks to the invisible subsidies from government and citizens (that do not get compensated fully in case of real disaster).
Note also that there is no reservation for the costs of storage of radio-active material after hundred years or so! So that is an additional substantial subsidy to be payed for by our grand-grandchildren!
I fully agree that all costs should be calculated and included in the electricity bill for gas, coal, wind, sun, etc. produced electricity (also CO2 costs).
In the end it may show that wind together with pumped storage is one of the cheapest…
In Germany electricity produced by wind mills on land, cost ~5cent/kWh, which is less than half of that of a nuclear plant…
So those alternatives are booming; Germany’s peak consumption of electricity is ~60GW. The peak power of it’s wind mills is 30GW and that of it’s solar panels now is also ~30GW!
Together expanding with ~8Gw/year, while electricity consumption went down the last ~5years …
An amount of solar panels on a roof cost in USA twice as much as in Germany (no subsidy). Even the installation costs are ~50% higher in USA than in Germany while the salary costs in Germany are 40% higher!
I do not understand those differences.
Bas, how will your grandchildren retrieve the dissolved gas-plant CO2 from the water of the seven seas?
You are not accounting for the casualties from the use of gas, which is what your windmills and solar panels require in order to prevent the civil revolts against the frequent unpredictable blackouts. Gas casualties in North America alone in 2010 were north of 100. Make gas companies pay for that instead of hiding behind bankruptcy law — the cap on liability they enjoy — and what does gas cost?
There’s actual data there — as I said, hundreds of casualties per year. What did those lives really cost?
“how will your grandchildren retrieve the dissolved gas-plant CO2 from the water”
Germany is closing all nuclear and lowering it’s CO2 output with ~25% between 1990 and 2020. Surpassing the Kyoto targets!
Nuclear countries do not reach the Kyoto target, worse many even will have a higher CO2 output in 2020 compared to 1990!
So nuclear is no help! Worse it is a sign that big industries dictate in a country and those do not favor Kyoto!
“You are not accounting for the casualties from the use of gas”
According to experts we have ~2 death/year because of the radiation of Chernobyl in the Netherlands now; less in the first decades after Chernobyl, now more (same type of delay as with asbestos and nicotine).
Nuclear delivers about 1% of dutch energy (=4% of electricity). Gas delives 44%.
So to be equally dangerous gas should have ~88 death/year in Netherlands. We have <10 death/year…
Wind, Solar, Hydro, Geo Thermal are probably the safest methods of electricity generation.
To calculate the real costs we should value each death, I suggest 2million dollar. So we can take that into our calculation. Then you will find that those death have no major influence on the costs of nuclear, gas, coal, etc…
Of course gas companies should have to compensate all costs they cause in North America (that will improve their safety guidelines & records!) ! In Netherlands only nuclear has such a cap! That should be removed, so nuclear is no longer subsidized.
Especially since wind, solar, gas, etc. do not enjoy such a cap!
Bas, you drank the green kool aid. Germany is making sure the civic revolts don’t take place, by building coal and gas plants; see http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-19/merkel-s-green-shift-forces-germany-to-burn-more-coal-energy.html. Coal and gas make reliable electricity; wind and solar can’t do that.
You can believe their phony propaganda, or you can believe that coal and gas plants dump millions of tons of CO2 into the air.
Germany can put out all the rosy predictions it wants — that’s what the government has to do to mollify the hysterical greens. But the fact is, it gets today and will continue to get at least half of its power from fossil plants.
Sorry, I thought that Germany had a 20% CO2 reduction goal by 2020 (compared with 1990). Because of your ‘rosy prediction’ remark, I did some research. Results:
– They reached already a reduction of 27% in 2011 (despite closing 8 nuclear plants in march 2011)!
– They target a 40% reduction in 2020.
– Germany is a net exporter of electricity (22TWh in 2012).
Yes, they build some coal plants to replace older less efficient ones.
In 2012 Solar production went up by 44% from 20TWh(2011) to 28TWh. As Solar prices will continue to fall, you can expect similar production expansions for the next years. Just check:
In Germany (Europe’s biggest economic power), closing all nuclear before 2020 is a non issue.
The debate in Germany now concerns the scenario after 2020.
The preliminary scenario will close all fossil plants as well before the year 2050 (so zero CO2 emission for electricity production)…
The conservatives propose 2070, 2080 or so.
The greens propose 2040…
The conservatives argue more time is needed for enhancing (pumped and other) storage facicilities and to adapt the grid.
It includes the costs for spent fuel storage for only a very limited amount of time! I assume ~100year, while 1,000,000years is needed!
The same for the materials (steel, etc) of the reactor that became radio active during it operating years.
If you try to calculate those costs for that period of time, you end up with additional costs of ~3cent/kWh. That cost is now subsidized invisible, and will have to paid for by the generations after us.
The uranium ore from which it all came will remain radioactive until the Sun becomes a red giant and engulfs the Earth.
Why do you care? Unless you concentrate the stuff to give yourself many times the usual background dose, it’s harmless.
The problem is that a nuclear reactor generates new radio-activity that did not exist before. That new radio-activity is millions of times more radio-active than the existing uranium!!
In addition the reactor creates new, very long living radio active materials that did not exist in nature before!
It resembles in a way to the alchemist dream; making gold out of lead.
But sadly it operates the other way around; making harmfull new elements out of harmless material.
U-235 has a half-life of 704 million years. If you convert it into fission products which are 100 million times as active, they will have half-lifes of about 7 years. You could consider them effectively gone in 10 half-lives, or 70 years. Many are like I-131, which has a half-life of 8 days and is effectively gone in mere months.
If you remove the “actinides” (Np, Pu, Am, Cm) from spent nuclear fuel (which the process called “electrorefining” appears to do very effectively), the remaining material is less radioactive than the original uranium in about 500 years. Thermal-spectrum reactors preferentially burn U-235, which is several times as active as U-238; the activity of the remaining uranium goes down.
You’re too credulous. Spontaneous fission creates a bit of everything that comes out of a reactor very naturally.
All the radon you’re afraid of is the product of natural decay of uranium.
The point you’re missing is that the dose makes the poison; these substances, and the radiation they emit, is totally harmless in small doses. They can also protect against other harm. The decay of Cs-137 emits powerful gamma rays, which can eliminate pathogens in food and water. It does this without any external energy supply, and it can’t break down. A lead capsule keeps the radiation out of the environment, but passing water through that high-radiation environment eliminates harmful disease organisms and makes them harmless. And do I need to mention just how dangerous life is if you don’t have electricity to keep the refrigerator running?
Maybe you’d prefer the risk of E. coli or salmonella infection to the creation of short-lived radioisotopes, but I’m pretty sure that most of the people who’ve had the former would beg to differ with you.
Electricity shortage simply is a non issue now, and in the future.
Just look into the situation in Germany. They will be the only major country that reach the Kyoto CO2 target of 20% less CO2 in 2020 than in 1990. Even while:
– they close all their nuclear plants in the coming 8 years (they closed already half of them)
– they are at a higher lattitude than Montreal, so solar panels produce less in Germany..
– the country is far more dense populated than Canada, so placing wind mills is a far bigger problem (not in my backyard)…
“U-235 has a half-life of 704 million years. If you convert it into fission products which are 100 million times as active, they will have half-lifes of about 7 years…”
I recommend that you take some course in nuclear physics.
That type of calculations do not apply at all.
Further; Iodine-131 is not the major issue (half-life 8 days). With Fukushima and Chernobyl the major volumes of Cesium-137 with halflife of 30years is a far bigger issue. Cs-137 from Chernobyl is the major killer after decades, stretching it’s arms even into W-Europe!
Really? Because Germany is building coal-fired plants to make up for the variability of the wind capacity it has or expects to have, and that’s neither what they claimed they were going to do nor compatible with the level of CO2 reduction we need to even stabilize the atmosphere. 20% compared to the coal-hogging industries of old E. Germany is not anything to crow about, and not something that can be generalized to the rest of the world.
You’re funny, because that is EXACTLY the type of calculation that applies.
Q(t) = Q(0) e^(-t*ln(2)/half_life)
Divide half-life by 100 million, and the Q(t) curve drops the same amount in 1/100,000,000 of the time.
Actually, it is. It concentrates in one organ and delivers its punch in something close to a prompt dose.
Where’s the evidence that it killed ANYONE in Europe? Chernobyl babushkas carry on practically in the shadow of the sarcophagus. The levels of exposure even 20 years ago were characteristic of hormesis rather than damage:
There is no measurable health impact from radiation exposure below about 100 mSv/yr.
The idea that only many times more background radiation harms has shown to be wrong.
This link reports about a recent meta-study that shows that higher levels of background radiation deliver more chance on illness/death in the long run: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/11/meta-review-of-42-studies-even-the-lowest-level-radiation-is-damaging-to-human-health.html
The latest report (#14) of the famous LSS study shows that low levels harm even more than the LNT predicts:
As the Japanese are highly involved those radiation studies (quite interested due to the atomic bombs I assume), they concluded that the radiation standards should be raised.
So now the limits in Japan are ~6 times lower than in USA:
You stopped searching as soon as you found something that supported your claim. I did a little more digging, and found that Møller’s work isn’t what it’s cracked up to be:
More to the point, Mousseau and Møller didn’t analyze human health. The huge numbers you claim for economic damages assume that the evacuations etc. are necessary and justified to prevent harm to people, which appears to be anything but true. If the evacuations are not necessary, the reactions are due to hysteria rather than actual risk and the damages even from Chernobyl could have been kept to a far smaller level:
Last, the failures of the RMBK at Chernobyl and the GE BWRs at Fukushima Dai’ichi occurred in designs that have not been current for decades. Nothing with the same vulnerabilities will ever be built again, and indeed the problems at Fukushima Dai’ichi were not repeated at Fukushima Dai’ini to the south, nor Onagawa to the north. Onagawa even served as a refugee center!
No, I don’t believe the “worse than LNT” claims. We know better, including that those with an ideological opposition to nuclear energy don’t care how they twist or fabricate because they believe they are serving a higher cause.
The LSS study is worldwide considered to be the most prominent study regarding the long term effects of low level radiation.
It is executed by a group of Japanese, USA and UK scientists form universities such as Stanford, MIT, Cambridge, etc!
The meta-study by Mouseau and Møller is a desk-study and did not involve any field work at all! They combined existing publications in a transparent methodology anybody can check!
You clearly refer to a total different, not relevant study that did not involve human health!
If the evacuation of such a huge area was nonsense, people would have returned. And they did not! Even the huge area of the Mayak disaster in 1957 is still completely inhabiated (60years later)!
The World Nuclear Association has a big professional interest in promoting nuclear, as that is their task!
Other failures will occur with nuclear power plants. I only mentioned the two most known because of their visible effects, but more occurred.
E.g. I bet that even the Canadian Candu reactors will escalate into a disaster, spreading radio-activity the same way as Fukushima, if some fanatic flies a 9/11 like plane against the reactor.
@Bas : People did return. And 26 years later they are still very healthy despite old age
I’m not sure if you’ll see this, but I hope you do. I used to wonder how anyone could support nuclear power when nuclear waste will be a hazard for 100,000 years. So, I started looking around and asking nuclear supporters. What I learned shocked me – it’s because we *have the technology* to ‘burn off’ the long-lived nuclear waste, and the “true waste”, if you will (called “fission products”) are only radioactive for about 300 years.
Now, that might still strike you as rather a long time – 300 years ago, North America was in the early stages of European settlement (though, of course native americans had been here for thousands of years). But, from an engineering standpoint, it’s obviously easier to try to contain something safely for 300 years than for 100,000 years – the diference in time scale is *enormous*.
But, I also learned that for the vast majority of that 100,000 years, even if we didn’t burn off the long-lived waste products (called actinides; mostly Plutonium), the radiation is of such a low level, that it would likely present essentially no risk to anyone or anything, anyhow (though I still much prefer burning off the actinides – I think it’s a much more responsible path for us to take).
So, if you are *really* *truly* worried about waste which remains radioactive for 100,000 years, the only *rational* result can be that you should support the development and deployment of the technology (called fast reactors) to fission off the actinides and turn them into fission products. In the process, we can also, as a rather happy side-effect, generate a LOT of electricity, which, is, you know, kind of helpful.
Britain is entertaining offers from GE to build a couple of S-PRISM sodium-cooled fast reactors to burn off the plutonium stockpile at Sellafield. They haven’t inked anything yet, but GE has volunteered to do the work for nothing but a per-tonne disposal fee for the Pu and the right to sell the produced electricity on the grid.
If Bas (or Mr. Stensil) really cared about this, they’d spend some time reading the words of Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore. He’s been in the news lately, it’s not hard to find. But it’s obvious that they haven’t, so either they don’t care enough to read it, didn’t understand what they read, or—most ominously—they regard Dr. Moore not as wrong but as a religious heretic whose positions must be reflexively opposed.
Britain has some bad experience with the reliability of the processes at Sellafield. Apart from leakages, Sellafield also had a small explosion. That delivered so much radio-activity in the environment, that they have enhanced rates of cancer, etc. and some areas (even beaches) are advised against visiting.
I feel quite sure that GE’s offer does not include an insurance in case things go wrong totally.
Apart from that; plutonium is only a part of the nuclear wast stockpile at Sellafield.
You have difficulty making important distinctions. First, the reprocessing at Sellafield is done with the Purex process, which is 1940’s-era technology involving a lot of wet chemistry with radiolytic byproducts. It’s the liquid byproducts of Purex which have been released into the Irish sea. Pyroprocessing will make Purex obsolete.
Second, the Windscale reactor fire happened in the 1950’s (Cold War) and involved a graphite-moderated, air-cooled reactor used for weapons production. Nothing we’ll ever build will resemble that reactor in the least, so claiming it as an example of risks of nuclear power going forward is, at best, clueless.
Last, the plutonium stockpile at Sellafield has a typical half-life of 24,000 years. You, who fixate on half-life as a measure of hazard, should be enthusiastic about converting it to fission products mostly with half-lives of 30 years or less. That fraction will literally be gone in 500 years. The rest has a heat load so small that it can be encapsulated and disposed of deep underground with little risk of spreading.
Sadly, all these explanations of how you are not even correctly applying your mistaken criteria for evaluating hazards will go right over your head. Your mind is closed, you are stuck on repeating slogans.
300 years is no real problem in my eyes.
But sadly enough that is only a phantasy.
You find these ideas (burning, bombardments with neutrons to accelerate fission processes, etc) already in the scientific literature of 50years ago (the sixties). At that time with more realistic claims.
As its clear that these ideas reduce the volume of the radio-active material but not the time that the rest will stay radio-active (halflife times stay >100.000years).
In the past 50years several hundreds of billions have been spent to build breeders that could do only part of the job (Germany, USSR, Japan, etc). Until now they all were failures. For an important part because those breeders are extreme difficult and dangerous.
Difficult (=very expensive) because we do not have materials that can withstand the high temperatures in combination with aggressive fluïds such as very hot molten salt and high radiation, during many years.
Dangerous because these reactors can escalate (explode) within a few minutes while with a normal reactor it takes an hour or so…
Read the sad story about the last and best attempt:
As I keep trying to tell you, the U-238 in the original ore has a half-life of 4.5 BILLION years and will stay radioactive (albeit weakly) until the Sun turns into a red giant and engulfs the Earth. U-235 has a half-life of about 704 million years. You’re fixated on long half-lives, but cutting the half-life down by a factor of 7,000 (and only a fraction of the fission products are long-lived) doesn’t attract you. There is a serious logical disconnect in your thinking processes.
Hardly; the EBR II was a rousing success. John Kerry’s connivance shut it down in 1994; politics, not physics or engineering.
EBR II was demonstrated to shut down passively even in a complete loss-of-cooling situation. That’s neither difficult nor dangerous. Arguably, if the Fukushima BWRs had been replaced with fast breeders descended from the EBR II (like the S-PRISM), there would have been no nuclear incident after the tsunami; GE’s design for an S-PRISM reactor building is passively cooled by air.
The materials scientists who developed Hastelloy-N and added the pinch of titanium to eliminate tellurium corrosion are trustworthy authorities. You are not.
I pity anyone who takes your opinions as informed and valuable. Even the blocked coolant passage at Fermi 1 posed no risk to the public; the worst-case energy release from nuclear material slumping into a critical configuration is equivalent to burning a couple pounds of gasoline. Bombs do not happen by accident, they have to be carefully engineered to explode.
Pretty much nothing has changed. They had a very small failure which made a non-radioactive mess, and the political hysteria spiralled out of control from there as the cover-up to keep the pols from doing something stupid was itself used as an excuse to do something stupid. Basically, a valuable asset was sidelined for more than 2 decades because of an easily-fixed engineering problem. Japan is now paying the price of its hysteria, more than $20 billion per year for fossil fuel imports.
EBR2 went into operation in 1965. So if it was a success, new reactors ~20 years later on (in the eighties) would have been of the same type!
But even USA went on with other types.
So what was the issue?
I think the cost together with its low productivity / load factor. EBR2 produced ~50% of the 20MW electricity it should during it’s lifetime.
EBR2 and S-PRISM, just as the fateful Japanese Monju reactor, use hot sodium coolant which burns aggressively the moment it contacts water or vapor dissolved in the air (the latter caused the expensive destruction at Monju).
Nowadays, reactors need to be >1GW in order to be competitive (high yield turbines/generators have those capacities).
The upscaling problems are apparently not easy as appears from the fast that GE proposes only a 300MW reactor capacity.
Regarding GE’s offer for UK:
I think that GE requires a guaranteed high price for the electricity S-PRISM produces during many years, together with a compensation for the plutonium S-PRISM burns, together with no liability guarantees in case things go wrong.
Last year planning the second nuclear power plant in The Netherlands was abandoned by the electricity company because our government refused to garantee an high electricity price during 30years. That was despite the very high subsidies they already got (mainly regarding liability and waste storage).
But may be UK government runs into such high problems with the nuclear radio-active waste pile (their recent ~$10Billion underground storage attempt in Cumbria failed) that they are prepared to subsidize the additional billions…
The problem in The Netherlands is that we are quite near Germany, which produces so much Wind powered electricity that electricity prices at the Amsterdam exchange went negative several periods last year!
And we can expect to happen that more often next years!
While grid and (pumped) storage adaptation in Germany is slightly behind the scheduled scenario, Wind and especially Solar run in front (they lowered feed-in rates in order to slow down expansion, but it helped little as Solar panels are so cheap now).
What part of “Experimental Breeder Reactor II” didn’t you understand? It was used to test a number of different things; it was never meant as a production reactor, if for no other reason than it was far too small. Despite its small size it did heat and power the ANL complex for years on end, with zero carbon emissions.
EBR II successfully proved a number of things, including positive breeding ratios, metal fuel and passive thermal shutdown.
The USA didn’t go “on with other types”. The NRC effectively prohibited anything but PWRs and BWRs from entering commercial service. Those had been in use since before the EBR II was built.
Again, “Experimental Breeder Reactor II”. The production version was going to be called the Integral Fast Reactor, IFR.
You say “expensive destruction”, but metallic sodium isn’t all that costly (I’ve priced it). Repair of steel structures isn’t all that hard either. I’m not having any luck finding details now, but it was my impression that all the damage had been repaired relatively quickly after the accident (including the defective thermowell), but by then politics was the controlling factor.
Politics was also the controlling factor in the Integral Fast Reactor project. Japan was a participant in the project and had a considerable amount of money invested, but John Kerry cast the deciding vote to cut off funding for all US FBR work in a 51/49 Senate decision in 1994. Japan’s contribution to the IFR had to be paid back, which cost more than building it and running the scheduled set of experiments. The same vote forced the EBR II to be shut down; there was nothing wrong with it, it was entirely politics.
Not really, very large reactors have issues which grow with scale. Most steam-turbine plants are smaller by a factor of 2 or more. A very large plant also requires a lot of spinning reserve on the local grid, and that can be expensive and inefficient. B&W’s choice of 180 MW(e) for the mPower SMR reflects those factors, and also that each unit can go into revenue service while others are under construction and fueling outages can be staggered.
Assertion without evidence. Link to something authoritative.
Solutions for that are so obvious, I’m shocked that nobody has done anything about it. The question on everyone’s mind should be, why haven’t they? When people are paying you to take power, the list of uses is practically limitless. Even if you have to meet criteria like “providing spinning reserve”, it’s not all that difficult. What gives?
Gentilly-2 is closing for the exact same reason that OPG decided not to refurbish the 4 Pickering B reactors and has already mothballed two of the Pickering A reactors: CANDU refurb costs are now over 10 cents kwh. It’s just not worth it. Simple as that.
Shawn-Patrick, much obliged. Not sure what you mean by 10 cents per kWh. Do you mean that the cost of generating electricity with a refurbished CANDU is 10 cents per kWh? That can’t be right. OPG has been turning profits since the refurbs of Pickering 4 and 1. That’s tough to do when the regulated price is around 5.5 cents.
Hi Steve. Yep. OPG staff advised the Board of Directors in 2009 not to proceed with the Pickering B refurbishment because the cost hit 10 cents. I got this through Freedom of Information, but I believe it also came out in OPG’s OEB filings (It was a few years ago so I’d have to check.) Also, Hydro-Quebec filed a document with the BAPE back in 2004 showing that refurbing Gentilly-2 would hit 10 cents if capital costs went over $2 billion and the outage period beyond 24 months or so (Again, it was a few years ago so I’d have to dig up the document). So these are OPG and Hydro-Quebec’s assessments.
2004… back in 2004, gas was going for $15 per million BTU and even its diehard supporters, including all mainstream green lobbies, could not push it with a straight face. 2004 numbers have zero to do with today. I still have no idea where the 10 cents comes from or what it refers to. It would be interesting to see the OPG document.
Hydro Quebec is following the direction from its majority shareholder, who chooses to point up Lepreau and pretend there was no Wolsong 1 refurb. We have to compare apples with apples, Pickering A CANDUs with Pickering A CANDUS, and CANDU 6s with CANDU 6s.
You’re right that 2004 has nothing to do with today. I’m listening now to the CEO of Hydro-Quebec explain how they came to their cost estimates. He just said “The decision to refurb Gentilly-2 in 2008 no longer makes sense in 2012.” He said the company realized there was a problem in 2010 (around when OPG announced the closure of Pickering) citing problems and Wolsong and Lepreau.
well, like I said the head of Hydro Quebec works for the provincial premier. So no surprise that he/she would echo the premier’s talking points. Odd that he would mention Wolsong, since it came in ahead of schedule and on budget. Since Wolsong was the more recent CANDU 6 refurb, couldn’t we infer that this is a pretty crack refurb team that will nail subsequent refurbishments?
And backing up a little, and assuming the 10 cents per kWh is true — what exactly is your problem with that? Ten cents is one cent less than 11 cents, which is the Ontario FIT rate for wind. You support the FIT subsidy, don’t you? And let’s remember that that is for unreliable production which requires smoothing out via gas-fired generation, which in turn (1) doesn’t come for free, so add that cost to the 11 cent FIT rate, and (2) dumps literally millions of tons of CO2 into the big free garbage dump in the sky — i.e., Ontario’s air — every year.
Further, add a cost to each metric ton of dumped CO2, which I know you also support, and what is the overall cost of the wind/gas pairing? A lot more than 10 cents, no?
Yes, it seems you’re right. It appears Hydro-Quebec was following directive of the politicians. Thierry Vandal the CEO of Hydro-Quebec acknowledged this morning at Parliamentary Commission hearing that he had advised the Charest government that the project wasn’t cost effective, but the Charest government pretended it didn’t know. See: http://www.lapresse.ca/le-nouvelliste/gentilly-2/201301/29/01-4616287-gentilly-2-le-plq-savait-que-le-projet-de-refection-etait-injustifie.php
It’s been a while since I mixed it up with a true Greenpeacer, please don’t think I don’t appreciate you taking the time. My last bout was with your predecessor Dave Martin on TVO. He was a good debater and a decent guy and, I understand, a fellow canoeist. RIP, Dave.
As for Hydro’s CEO at the committee — again, Wolsong makes any Lepreau-based estimates out of date and basically meaningless.
But I’m really interested in what you have to say about my other points — especially the 25,642 metric tons of CO2 that Ontario gas plants dumped into the air between midnight and 1500 today, as per Table 2 in the left-hand sidebar. That gas-fired generation is there so that we can all pretend we’re running on wind. How much should those 25,642 tons have cost?
Hello again. Folks are still presenting to the committee.
They did discuss the various issues related to Wolsong. The Hydro-Quebec CEO did say the refurbishment period at Wolsong was longer than they had anticipated. Also, he noted the significant difference in regulatory standards between South Korea and Canada. That’s a fair remark. Hydro-Quebec told the CNSC in 2004 that the economics of the refurbishment were ‘weak’ and depended on the regulatory standards applied by the CNSC.
I see you want to move away from the fact that industry estimates for refurbishment are now about 10 cents kwh. Fair enough.
Regarding GHG emissions from gas, yeah it does concern me (and Greenpeace). I disagree with your argument (and the talking point of the anti-wind folks) that gas is there to back up wind. The province basically traded coal for gas generation. It’s used for peaking and backup the nuclear plants. You need large generators to back up large baseload generators.
What worries me is that we’re not jacking up gas to back up wind, but to back up the refurbishment outages. If you look closely at the government’s energy plan, GHG emission rise significantly for a decade to deal with the Darlingotn (and other unit) outages. If (when) there are delays on the refurbs, reliance and GHG emissions will stay high.
That’s the problem we face over the next decade.
It’s a shame there’s not enough nuclear plants to, you know, backup the nuclear plants. . . because it would clearly be impossible to have enough plants that they normallly run at 85% or %90 output, then when one or two go offline, they throttle up to 95%-100%.
No, I am happy continuing to talk about the 10 cent claim. Again, Pickering 4 was returned to service after retube in 2003, and unit 1 in 2005. Their output fetches a 5.5 cent regulated rate, and OPG turns profits. How is that possible if refurbed nuclear costs 10 cents?
Also Bruce. Units 4, 3, 1, and 2 have come back into service since 2003. Bruce on average gets just over 6 cents contracted rate. Bruce Power is a profitable company. How is it making profits if the output from those refurbed units costs 10 cents?
Of course gas is there to replace coal, and of course you need large generators to replace large generators. So if you don’t want massive GHG dumping into our pristine air, then why would you want the replacement of fossil generators with other fossil generators? Replace them with nuclear generators!
And you also have to acknowledge that gas is also there to cover wind, now that we are phasing out coal, which is actually far more flexible than combined cycle gas and can ramp down to 20 percent capacity. Your colleagues in the gas industry funded OCAA used that to help their clients win approval for more gas plants.
Ever heard of the other ‘small’ invisible subsidies that nuclear power plants get? Those may explain the inconsistency.
Gee whiz, “Bas”, what does it matter whether completely spent true nuclear waste is radioactive for 10,000 or a million years? Shove it down a deep dead volcanic shaft or salt mine where the sun don’t shine and what does it matter unless you plan on building condos down there? Like how often do you and family visit the city dump much go near it? And you know, there are lots of families in Texas and Louisiana and around the world who wish their loved ones were working in “disasters” like Fukushima rather than the all too occasional real deals in fatal oil and gas rig and plant accidents that anti-nukers love to overlook. There’s an unhealthy blind hypocrisy in choosing other energy sources historically directly responsible for physically maiming millions in disease and limb over a power source with a near nil mortality score and whose only smear and crime is making its undeserved public debut in a war — where most of the beef against it comes from outside of scary B-movies. One more thing about nuclear’s building costs; sure, I want the cheapest power I can get, but hey, if getting it in the cleanest and most unobtrusive way there is costs just a little more, wouldn’t it be worth it for a clean environment? Anti-nukers ought consider that while quaffing down bottled water over tap water and organic veggies over supermarket bins!
Storing the waste:
“radioactive … million years? Shove it down a deep … salt mine”
The Germans tried that twice. The last one at Gorleben, did cost several billions (made in very stable salt, 600m below) in order to be sure it would rest in peace (all taxpayers money = subsidy to nuclear).
They wanted to be sure after the first failure…
Now it has shown that there are such leaks occurring that in a few thousand years the ground at Gorleben will be no longer suitable for food production due to enhanced radio-active particles that come up from below…
(heat produced by the radio-active waste seems to have a negative influence)
As they guaranteed to the local community that the surface would stay clean without enhanced radio-activity, they now face removal operation with estimated costs of tenth of billions (also all tax-payers money = subsidy).
Especially since research showed that leaving the stuff down-under, implied that the area being contaminated for food production would gradually become larger and larger…
These experiences are one of the reasons the USA storage, WIPP in New Mexico, is only allowed for low level radio-active materials and only an intermediate period of 10.000 years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waste_Isolation_Pilot_Plant
France spent billions during >20years, in search of a stable permanent storage for its nuclear waste (they have trials, etc). No solution yet.
The problem with volcanic shafts is that those may become active.
And you don’t want the radio-active material to spread in the atmosphere as that will raise the background radiation substantially killing many millions (if not billions) of people during the thousands of years after that…
I really do not know why they do not choose a stable rock formation, as that seems to me the best solution… Especially since France and Germany have those in the Alps. May be they are not stable in the long run?
“the cheapest power … in the cleanest and most unobtrusive way …”
The solar panels we buy in NL (and Germany) come from China.
The Chinese will sell those against the same price to you.
Still these panels cost about twice as much in USA compared to NL or Germany! While taxes and salary costs are higher (~40%) here…
I suggest you go into that business as the present traders/installers in USA must make make a really exorbitant profit (or are extremely inefficient compared to NL & Germany)!
Installing solar is not subsidized at all here (in NL & Germany), but you do get a good feed-in rate which makes it all profitable.
In NL it is the same rate you pay for electricity, now ~22cent/kWh up until a feed-in volume of 5000kWh. That may change next year…
In Germany the feed-in was 24cent/kWh in 2012 guaranteed for 15 years. Now it is 17cent/kWh for smalle consumers, and 13cent/kWh for bigger volumes
Germany expects to solve t
he irregular delivery problem of wind and solar mainly with pumped storage.
Working in “disasters” like Fukushima rather than in fatal oil and gas rig and plant accidents”
This is an issue of chance & cost calculation. You may also take into account the way you die (fast = cheaper), and at what time (20 -50 years later on, due to enhanced low level radiation / nicotine / asbestos / etc = cheaper, even while it is cancer).
Assume you work at Fukushima and get extra radiation of ~100mSv/year. That delivers an enhanced relative risk ~4-5%. The chance you die prematurely (after e.g. 20year) is normally ~30% (depending on age, smoking, etc). So now it will becomee 31% after one year. If you work longer at Fukushima the chance raises with ~1% a year.
Now the question is what the risk is at a oil/gas rig: Also ~1% /year to die?
Personally I would choose for the rig as I think it is less risk and a fast, easy death.
I cannot estimate the situation in mines. There you also have brown lung diseases after ~25years. So I then may prefer Fukushima…
But the issue is that citizens do not have any choice regarding the risk.
They just see a nuclear power rising in their neighborhood.
So they should be protected against that type of risk.
The Torch study (by a number of eminent scientist, mainly from different universities) concluded that Chernobyl will deliver 30.000 to 60.000 death in Europe. Even the IAEA (that promotes nuclear) concluded to 4.000 – 9.000 death.
But apart from death there are other effects:
The norh of Sweden got such enhanced levels of radio-activity from Chernobyl that meat of reindeer was no longer fit for consumption.
As it is known that unborn children in the womb are especially vulnerable, researches in N-Sweden tested the intelligence of children born shortly after the Chernobyl accident years later at schools. They found a significant dip in the intelligence of the Chernobyl generation.
This link delivers an overview of the Chernobyl health effects: http://www.ratical.org/radiation/Chernobyl/HEofC25yrsAC.html
Real research results for Fukushima will come after 2030, as the effects of low level radiation are delayed like with nicotine, excessive sunbathing, asbestos, black lungs, etc.
hose only smear and crime is making its undeserved public debut in a war — where most of the beef against it comes from outside of scary B-movies. One more thing about nuclear’s building costs; sure, I want the cheapest power I can get, but hey, if getting it in the cleanest and most unobtrusive way there is costs just a little more, wouldn’t it be worth it for a clean environment? Anti-nukers ought consider that while quaffing down bottled water over tap water and organic veggies over supermarket bins!
Please neglect the last paragraph (mistake, sorry).
The link below shows something of the nuclear waste costs of UK:
The big difference is that Canada and USA can afford to have an area thousand square mile spoiled by radio-active waste. In W-Europe that is totally impossible as every square mile is habitated.
All what you said can be countered with fact and perspective, but you’ll just dig up another straw dog to bolster your anti-nuclear beef. Really, there’s no point answering you if the anti-nuclear leaders you follow like Arnie and Helen won’t even have a toe-to-toe debate with the head honchos of the leading nuclear advocate blogs, forget the industry. Ask yourself WHY.
Although Quebec has an abundant supply of hydro-electric capacity, almost 100% of the power generated by Gentilly-2 was being sent to power-hungry New York. So shutting down this reactor reduced money coming into Canada as well as Quebec. On top of this, it will put Quebecers out of work while leaving the reactor in place (no theoretical health improvement for residents). And if that weren’t enough consider this: AECL (Atomic Energy Canada Limited) was sold to Montreal-based SNC Lavalin in 2011 so this political decision by the Parti Québécois will adversely affect the health of that Quebec-headquartered company. It is lose-lose all around. Very foolish.
i’m wondering how silly these pro-nukers feel over their assertations of nuclear superiority when compared to solar/wind generated power now that technologies are advancing. seems to me that nuclear power is going the way of the dinosaur and rightfully so as the cost of upkeep on these facilities far exceeds their value going forward—renewable energy is and always has been the way to proceed. people will always fear advancements in technological advancements.
As Ontario began to head into its morning energy peak yesterday, Friday June 3, the wind fleet’s production dropped from a pitiful 241,000 kilowatts (that’s 6.5 percent of the wind fleet capacity) at six a.m. to 93,400 kW at seven.
It then proceeded to drop even further, to 23,000 kW at eight a.m.
i.e., right at the morning peak, the wind fleet was producing at less than one percent of its capacity.
It stayed below 200,000 kW until noon. With the whole generating fleet producing between 17 and 18 MILLION kilowatts during that time, wind was essentially making no power.
How useless can you get.
Nuclear through that period just cranked out its 9 some-odd million kilowatts steady, ho hum.
How silly do I feel? The real question is, how silly do you feel.