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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Report Casts Doubt on Britain’s Nuclear Electricity Strategy

Report Casts Doubt on Britain’s Nuclear Electricity Strategy
Published: March 4, 2013

LONDON — Britain’s plans to build a fleet of nuclear power plants by 2025 are “ambitious” at best and “unrealistic” at worst, according to a report to be released Monday by a committee of the House of Commons.


Replacing the country’s aging network of nuclear power stations is a major component of the government’s strategy to lower 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. While nuclear power has disadvantages, particularly the production of radioactive waste, it emits virtually no greenhouse gases.

The French utility EDF and the British government are negotiating the terms for developing new nuclear plants. EDF has proposed constructing two plants at Hinkley Point on the Severn Estuary in southwest England, where the company operates two nuclear stations built in the 1970s. The new plants would be the first for Britain since 1995.

But cost estimates for the project have soared. Analysts say that in order for the project to be viable, EDF needs the government to guarantee it will buy electricity from the plants at prices substantially higher than the current market rates.

Nuclear power now...


1700 1GWe reactors only equals 1/3 of global electric supply

If world electricity demand grows 2%/year until 2050 and nuclear share of electricity supply is to rise from 1/6 to 1/3...
– nuclear capacity would have to grow from 350 GWe in 2000 to 1700 GWe in 2050;
– this means 1,700 reactors of1,000MWe each.

What is the significance to nuclear weapons proliferation control efforts:
If these were light-water reactors on the once-through fuel cycle...
– enrichment of their fuel will require ~250 million Separative Work Units (SWU);
– diversion of 0.1% of this enrichment to production of HEU from natural uranium would make ~20 gun-type or ~80 implosion-type bombs.

If half the reactors were recycling their plutonium...
– the associated flow of separated, directly weapon- usable plutonium would be 170,000 kg per year;
– diversion of 0.1% of this quantity would make ~30 implosion-type bombs.

Volume of nuclear waste would be enormous:
Spent-fuel production in the once-through case would be...
– 34,000 tonnes/yr, a Yucca Mountain every two years.

I've plagiarized a presentation by Pres. Science Advisor Holdren here. The bolded text is my commentary.

Renewables are faster, safer and cheaper

22 months ago:
Will China’s 50 GW goal create a solar bubble? No.
In fact, the dramatic scaling of solar manufacturing capacity is just what’s needed to keeps costs dropping

By Stephen Lacey on May 12, 2011

The renewable energy industry is central to addressing many national problems: Climate change, national security, and job growth. Its biggest international challenge is the Green Giant – the competition from China’s full-court press into clean energy.

Seemingly every week there’s another story about how China is upping the U.S. in the race to develop clean energy. This week’s news is in the solar sector, where Chinese officials say they plan to deploy 50 GW of cumulative capacity in the country by 2020. China only has about 1 GW of solar PV installed today (and no concentrated solar thermal power). But assuming it can meet those targets and continue scaling manufacturing (the country currently holds 57% of global solar cell manufacturing in the world), China is poised to become a vertically-integrated solar leader – not just an exporter of technology.

This story on the Forbes blog seems to have misunderstood the implications of China’s strategy:

“The epic expansion planned for the latter part of this decade may create the world’s first solar-energy bubble. The existing solar supply chain is likely too shallow to sustain growth on this scale. Unless the industry develops scalable infrastructure over the next four years, China’s planned installation of 8 GWs of solar capacity annually between 2015 and 2020 is likely to create severe bottlenecks in the solar supply chain. These bottlenecks could radically inflate the price of basic materials like silicon and create labor shortages that would affect the costs of manufacturing solar modules, designing and installing new solar systems and operating and maintaining already installed systems.”

So are we really going to see a solar energy bubble? That’s extremely unlikely, says Shayle Kann, a leading solar analyst with GTM Research.

“It’s actually nothing crazy,” he says. “I have a hard time seeing this creating a global undersupply – we’ll have 50 GW of module manufacturing capacity by the end of this year. The goal is doable.”

That’s a pretty amazing feat....

And from the beginning of Feb:
China increases solar target by 67% – yet again

For the fourth time in two years China has increased its solar energy target (- from) 21GW by 2015 to 35GW.

Chinese newspaper The Economic Times reported Shi Lishan, Deputy Director of the Renewable Energy Office of the National Energy Administration (NEA), said, “The target of 35 GW has been confirmed, and will soon be announced.

“The reason for making the adjustment is that the PV industry has been developing very quickly.”

In the last ten years, China’s solar PV cumulative installed capacity has already grown by 67 times the average annual growth...

You use no data and poor reasoning to support your position

If you wish to choose the most effective solution going forward the "whys" of where we are now are crucial; when you ignore the evolution of our sources of generation and the reasons we are where we are regarding the energy mix you cripple your understanding of what is happening.

There is no validity to a claim based on the status quo unless you can show how the circumstances that created it are still dominating the world. Since those circumstances no longer hold sway, then the current set of technologies - especially their technical characteristics and their economics - must be reevaluated from scratch. We've known for decades that a distributed renewable energy supply is technically feasible and more reliable than any centralized system can possible. We now know that it is also less expensive than any of the centralized options and faster at achieving carbon reductions than nuclear.

Chinese Companies Projected To Make Solar Panels for 42 Cents Per Watt In 2015

Add in the safety, proliferation, social and waste issues associated with nuclear infrastructure and the decision is self evident.

It is obvious why you call for government to build nuclear - they don't need to worry about competition from renewables. No nuclear plants get built based on the economic merits of nuclear nor on public calls for deployment of nuclear - they only get built as a result of the nuclear lobby buying politicians. That's because they are a wasteful purchase compared to the alternatives and they cannot attract private capital on their merits.

(FL) State senators to utilities: Build nuclear power or risk loss of funding

Ikea to Double Renewable Energy Investment to $4 Billion by 2020 http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/01/ikea-to-double-renewable-energy-investment-to-4-billion-by-2015?cmpid=SolarNL-Thursday-January24-2013

Nuclear power and the French energy transition: It’s the economics, stupid!

Is Germany abandoning wind, solar and bioenergy?

Duke CEO confirms threat renewables pose to their business model

So the answer is no, you have nothing to support your belief.

All of the experts specializing in a transition to a carbon free energy system disagree with you. We use fossils because the infrastructure is a legacy of what worked best in the past. We use nuclear because it fit into that centralized system and was seen as having the potential to augment the centralized system that depends on fossil fuels.
An energy system is composed of many elements and the way those elements work together define how the economics work. Renewables work together differently than centralized thermal. They are, in fact, able to produce a superior system because of its distributed nature, and this builds redundancy into the system to make it more reliable than one prone to cascade failures.
Contrary to your "all of the above" approach, it is wasteful in the extreme to pursue ineffective solutions, such as nuclear or coal with CCS. That view is a result of nothing more than political kowtowing to the established powers in the energy field and it simply isn't true.

Renewables are right now shutting down centralized power generation. If you look at the proposals for companies seeking to build nuclear, you'll find they the plan to expand coal along with building nuclear. Nuclear reenforces the economics that support coal - renewables destroy those economics and replaces them with a system of local control over energy supplies.

Duke CEO confirms threat renewables pose to their business model

Some Leaders Souring on Nuclear Power Costs

Some Leaders Souring on Nuclear Power Costs
By RAY HENRY Associated Press
ATLANTA March 3, 2013 (AP)

As the cost of building a new nuclear plant soars, there are signs of buyer's remorse.

The second-guessing from officials in Georgia and Florida is a sign that maybe the nation is not quite ready for a nuclear renaissance. On top of construction costs running much higher than expected, the price of natural gas has plummeted, making it tough for nuclear plants to compete in the energy market.

In Georgia last week, Southern Co. told regulators it needed to raise its construction budget for Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia by $737 million to $6.85 billion. At about the same time, a Georgia lawmaker sought to penalize the company for going over budget, announcing a proposal to cut into Southern Co.'s profits by trimming some of the money its subsidiary Georgia Power makes.

The legislation has a coalition of tea party, conservative and consumer advocacy groups behind it, but faces a tough sale in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. GOP Rep. Jeff Chapman found just a single co-sponsor, Democratic Rep. Karla Drenner.

As a regulated monopoly...


Golden Fleece Award for Federal Spending on Small Modular Reactors

Golden Fleece Award Goes to Department of Energy for Federal Spending on Small Modular Reactors

$100 Million in “Mini Nuke” Corporate Welfare Already Doled Out, Another Half Billion Dollars Or More in the Pipeline for Major Corporations that Could Pay for Own R&D, Licensing

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The federal government is in the process of wasting more than half a billion dollars to pay large, profitable companies for what should be their own expenses for research & development (R&D) and licensing related to “small modular reactors” (SMRs), which would be about a third of the size or less of today’s large nuclear reactors. In response, the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense today handed out its latest “Golden Fleece Award” to the Department of Energy for the dollars being wasted on SMRs.

...Ryan Alexander, president, Taxpayers for Common Sense, said: “The nation is two days away from the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. But at the same time we are hearing the Department of Energy and the nuclear industry evangelizing about the benefits of small modular reactors. In reality, we cannot afford to pile more market-distorting subsidies to profitable companies on top the billions of dollars we already gave away.”

Autumn Hanna, senior program director, Taxpayers for Common Sense, said: “The nuclear industry has a tradition of rushing forth to proclaim that a new technology, just around the corner, will take care of whatever problem exists. Unfortunately, these technologies have an equally long tradition of expensive failure. If the industry believes in small modular reactors and a reactor in every backyard – great – but don’t expect the taxpayer to pick up the tab.”

The federal government already paid for a version of SMR R&D when small reactors were designed for the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet. Now some highly profitable companies – including Babcock & Wilcox, Westinghouse, Holtec International, and Fluor Corporation -- are at the federal trough for another round of federal support for small modular reactors that could go into suburban American neighborhoods.

The TCS Award ...


Policy Briefs
Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Modular Reactors


Duke CEO confirms threat renewables pose to their business model

Duke Explores Rooftop Solar as Panels Slow Electricity Demand, CEO Says
By Jim Polson, Bloomberg
March 1, 2013

NEW YORK CITY -- Duke Energy Corp., the largest U.S. utility owner, may expand into rooftop solar as wider use of photovoltaic panels by customers cuts into demand for electricity in states including California, Chief Executive Officer Jim Rogers said.

Rooftop panels are gaining popularity as the industry faces “anemic” growth in power demand that may redefine the traditional utility business model, as this growth makes it difficult to predict long-term energy demand, Rogers said at an analyst meeting in New York today.

“It is obviously a potential threat to us over the long term and an opportunity in the short term,” Rogers said in an interview after the meeting.

“If the cost of solar panels keeps coming down, installation costs come down and if they combine solar with battery technology and a power management system, then we have someone just using us for backup,” he said.


This confirms the statements I've made regarding the different roles that renewables and nuclear play in changing the fossil oriented system. Nuclear preserves the economic model based on large-scale fossil generation, renewable energy destroys it.

Climate Change, Nuclear Economics, and Conflicts of Interest

Climate Change, Nuclear Economics, and Conflicts of Interest
Kristin Shrader-Frechette
Received: 10 August 2009 / Accepted: 19 October 2009 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Merck suppressed data on harmful effects of its drug Vioxx, and Guidant suppressed data on electrical flaws in one of its heart-defibrillator models. Both cases reveal how financial conflicts of interest can skew biomedical research. Such conflicts also occur in electric-utility-related research. Attempting to show that increased atomic energy can help address climate change, some industry advocates claim nuclear power is an inexpensive way to generate low-carbon electricity. Surveying 30 recent nuclear analyses, this paper shows that industry-funded studies appear to fall into conflicts of interest and to illegitimately trim cost data in several main ways. They exclude costs of full-liability insurance, underestimate interest rates and construction times by using ‘‘overnight’’ costs, and overestimate load factors and reactor lifetimes. If these trimmed costs are included, nuclear-generated electricity can be shown roughly 6 times more expensive than most studies claim. After answering four objections, the paper concludes that, although there may be reasons to use reactors to address climate change, economics does not appear to be one of them.

For many years bioethicists have recognized that conflicts of interest can skew biomedical research. An Annals of Internal Medicine study recently showed that 98% of papers based on industry-sponsored studies reflected favorably on the industry’s products (Rochon et al. 1994). A Journal of the American Medical Association article likewise concluded that industry-funded studies were 8 times less likely to reach conclusions unfavorable to their drugs than were nonprofit- funded studies (Campbell et al. 1998). Does something similar happen in electric- utility-related science?

Jonathan Porritt, chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission and advisor to Gordon Brown, says it does. ‘‘Cost estimates from the [nuclear] industry have been subject to massive underestimates—inaccuracy of an astonishing kind consistently over a 40-, 50-year period’’ (Porritt, Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission 2006). A UK-government commission agrees, claiming virtually all nuclear-cost data can be ‘‘traced back to industry sources’’ (UK Sustainable Development Commission (UK SDC) 2006). University of Greenwich business professor, Stephen Thomas, says nuclear-industry sources ‘‘are notoriously secretive about the costs they are incurring’’ (Thomas 2005). Such charges suggest the need to scrutinize industry claims that, to address climate change, nuclear power is ‘‘the most cost-effective power source’’ (European Atomic Forum 2006).

Nuclear-Cost Studies
Apart from who is right about addressing climate change, how good is the science (therefore the ethics) behind studies claiming atomic energy is economical?


Paper can be downloaded with this link:

About the author: http://www3.nd.edu/~kshrader/

EDF confirms it wants 40-year contracts to build nuclear plants (UK)

EDF confirms it wants 40-year contracts to build nuclear plants
French-owned firm in talks with ministers over long-term subsidy guarantees as Ofgem warns of steep hike in energy prices

Electricity firm EDF has confirmed it wants the UK government to sign 40-year contracts to support building new nuclear reactors in Britain – as the national energy regulator warned prices are likely to rise higher than expected.

The French-owned company is in talks with ministers over "contracts for difference" funding, under which the government guarantees generators will be paid a minimum price for electricity from new nuclear plants: if the market price falls lower than this "strike price" then a surcharge will be added to customers' bills; if it rises higher there would be a refund.

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that in order to keep the strike price at below the politically crucial £100 a megawatt hour, ministers and officials are proposing the contracts will last for up to 40 years, double the original timescale. On Tuesday, it emerged that EDF's chairman, Henri Proglio, told analysts and investors that the company was in talks over 40-year contracts when the company published its annual results in Paris last week.

The UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said on Monday no final agreement had been reached. However insiders acknowledge such long deals could have trouble passing EU state aid rules, and nuclear critics who are already angry the government has reneged on a promise that there would be no public subsidy for new nuclear power...

More at http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/feb/19/edf-40-year-contract-nuclear-plant
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