Archive for the ‘Nuclear power’ Category

Go-ahead for mini reactors as energy crunch looms

Posted: September 10, 2017 by tallbloke in Energy, Nuclear power
nuke-powerFrom the Sunday Times: By Alan Tovey

MINISTERS are ready to approve the swift development of a fleet of “mini” reactors to help guard against electricity shortages, as older nuclear power stations are decommissioned.

The new technology is expected to offer energy a third cheaper than giant conventional reactors such as the ongoing Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Industry players including Rolls-Royce, NuScale, Hitachi and Westinghouse have held meetings in past weeks with civil servants about Britain’s nuclear strategy and development of “small modular reactors” (SMRs).

A report to be published by Rolls-Royce in Westminster this week claims its consortium can generate electricity at a “strike price” – the guaranteed price producers can charge – of £60 per megawatt hour, two thirds that of recent large-scale nuclear plants.

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There are robust and reliable electricity supplies, or the other kind.

STOP THESE THINGS

Texans have been in the news for all the wrong reasons, over the last week or so.

Hurricane Harvey belted the Texan coast with 130 mph (209 kph) winds and delivered a deluge of biblical proportions.

For some time now, Texas has been the pinup girl for American wind worshippers. With some 21,000 MW of nominal capacity spread over 40 projects, like everything in Texas, wind power is ‘big’.

Except, of course, when the weather turns nasty.

Modern industrial wind turbines do not operate when wind speeds hit around 25 m/s (90kph or 55mph) – Hurricane Harvey dished up a gale double that speed, and more.

In order to prevent their catastrophic disintegration (as seen in the video below) Texas’s turbines downed tools, en masse, (as they are deliberately designed to do) leaving the critical work of providing power to storm battered Texans to its fleet of nuclear power plants.

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Planned nuclear power station at Hinkley Point


For some reason the UK has chosen to pay a lot more for its new nuclear power than anywhere else, using untried and complex technology, and now even the country’s own auditors are complaining about it. The fear seems to be that it could prove to be a vastly expensive pig in a poke.

UK government plans for a new £18bn nuclear power station have come under fire from public auditors, who call it “a risky and expensive project”, BBC news reports.

The case for the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset was “marginal” and the deal was “not value for money”, according to the National Audit Office (NAO). The NAO said the government had not sufficiently considered the costs and risks for consumers.

The government said building the plant was an “important strategic decision”. The report comes nine months after the government granted final approval for the project, which is being financed by the French and Chinese governments.

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How Moorside might look [credit: in-cumbria.com]

Moorside no more? The UK doesn’t seem to be making much, if any, progress with its plans for new nuclear power plants, as the old ones head for retirement.

The GMB union has once again demanded that the government “stop faffing” and step in to save the Moorside nuclear development from falling apart, reports Utility Week.

The union made the comments after Utility Week reported yesterday that National Grid has shelved a multi-billion project to connect the proposed plant to the transmission network.

GMB slammed the government for “continued dithering” following the latest in a series of setbacks.

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‘The donkey goes on to the ice until it breaks’ - German proverb [image credit: evwind.es]

‘The donkey goes on to the ice until it breaks’ – German proverb [image credit: evwind.es]


Grasping the nettle of reporting the views of leading German climate sceptic Professor Fritz Vahrenholt, PEI magazine airs several awkward issues arising from Germany’s ambitious – he says reckless – energy policies.

At a mid-January meeting in parliament buildings in London, Professor Fritz Vahrenholt provided a very detailed monologue on the motivations behind Germany’s energy transition, and why he feels it’s misguided and potentially disastrous, writes Diarmid Williams.

Had the lecture been delivered by somebody from the coal power sector, they might have been written off as a ‘climate denier’, but given Vahrenholt’s background and pedigree as a backer of renewable energy, he is not so easily dismissed and his position must cause some unease for those so adamant that climate change is man-made.
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fusiongrid
The latest contenders for the elusive fusion crown are reviewed here. Chasing the ‘holy grail’ of energy is an expensive and time-consuming business, as IB Times reports.

In a world struggling to kick its addiction to fossil fuels and feed its growing appetite for energy, there’s one technology in development that almost sounds too good to be true: nuclear fusion, writes Matthew Hall.

If it works, fusion power offers vast amounts of clean energy with a near limitless fuel source and virtually zero carbon emissions. That’s if it works. But there are teams of researchers around the world and billions of dollars being spent on making sure it does.

In February last year a new chapter of fusion energy research commenced with the formal opening of Wendelstein 7-X. This is an experimental €1 billion (A$1.4bn) fusion reactor built in Greifswald, Germany, to test a reactor design called a stellarator.
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So where does this obvious nonsense come from?

TYV says: ‘Installed capacity is not the same as production. Why is that so incredibly hard to understand for journalists?’

Because such realities would ruin their story perhaps? Either that or they are not up to their jobs. Maybe they aren’t up to the job anyway if they are having to resort to distortion of facts.

Trust, yet verify

The journalists of our beloved Flemish media seem to go ballistic lately. Yesterday there was the item in the VTM news about the current “drought” that was “direct result of climate change”. Today the VRT news felt it had to compete with that and went full stupid in an article with the sensational title:

Flemish windmills have almost the same capacity as a nuclear reactor

vrt news 20161228 windmil

Apparently the onshore windmills in Flandres have a total capacity of 920 MW, which is only slightly below the capacity of (some of) our nuclear turbines (at somewhat above 1,000 MW).

Hurraaaah!!!

I am afraid that I have to spoil that party…

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The proposal to force older nuclear power plants to close in Switzerland has been rejected in a referendum. The five reactors that provide over one-third of electricity can continue to operate according to their economic lives.

Nuclear power plants in Switzerland (Nov 2016) (WNA)

Nuclear power is Switzerland’s second largest source of electricity, providing about 35% of electricity in 2015 and complementing 52% hydro to give the country one of the cleanest and most secure electricity systems in the world.

In 2010 there were active plans to replace the five current reactors based on a supportive referendum and confirmation by regulators that the sites were suitable. This program was scrapped by a National Council vote in June 2011, just four months after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, and Switzerland was put on a path to lose nuclear power when existing reactors retired in the 2030s and 2040s.

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Small modular reactor [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]

Small modular reactor [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]


With enough government backing SMRs could be a competitive alternative to unreliable renewables in the long term. PoliticsHome reporting.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) could be operating in the UK by 2030 and the Government has a crucial role to play in encouraging early investor confidence, according to a new report by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). 

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Hinkley what's-the-point?

Hinkley what’s-the-point?


The GWPF points out an inconvenient truth – that as more and more subsidised and prioritised renewables are injected into the UK’s electricity grid system, the tougher it must get for competing methods of power generation to turn a profit worth the cost and effort involved.

The UK government has, after some delays, given approval to Hinkley C nuclear power station. However, and in spite of subsidies intended to offset risks arising from renewables policy, it is still not clear that the project can actually make money. It remains to be seen whether EDF has the courage to proceed.

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Hinkley Point C nuclear site [image credit: BBC]

Hinkley Point C nuclear site [image credit: BBC]


The Independent’s headline may be an exaggeration, but nuclear power is not popular in Britain at present. The illusion persists in some quarters that Britain could run almost entirely on wind power, which is very far from being technically or financially realistic.

Three out of four Britons oppose the Hinkley nuclear power project that has just been approved by the Government, according to a poll.

A quarter (25 per cent) of the 2,028 people surveyed in the Populus  poll, conducted on 7-8 September, said they supported Hinkley, while nearly half (44 per cent) oppose the plans.

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Proposed nuclear plant at Moorside [credit: in-cumbria.com]

Proposed nuclear plant at Moorside [credit: in-cumbria.com]


Utility Week points to a press report that shows untried French nuclear reactors are not the only game in town for the UK, as it increasingly struggles to ‘keep the lights on’.

Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) is close to investing in the £10 billion Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria, the Financial Times has reported.

Sources said progress has been made towards a potential equity stake for Kepco as well as possible role in construction. The company is 51 per cent owned by the South Korean government, which has set the target of becoming the world’s third largest nuclear reactor exporter by 2030.

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Hinkley Point, Somerset [image credit: conservativehome.com]

Hinkley Point, Somerset
[image credit: conservativehome.com]


Seconds out, round 10 – or so it might seem in the Hinkley nuclear struggle. Who kept who in the dark [pun intended]? PEI’s Diarmaid Williams takes a ringside seat.

Five of the 17 board members who voted to approve a decision by EDF to press ahead with the development of Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in England are now seeking a court annulment of that decision.

The board members, all union representatives, say they were not provided with information that was crucial to their decision on the day.

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Small modular reactors [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]

Small modular reactors [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]


Climate News Network reports on a possible alternative to the mega-sized nuclear plants of the last century.

The nuclear industry sees the UK as a springboard for its plans to expand in the next 20 years, especially as a pioneer in the deployment of a new breed of small reactors.

Despite the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union, the industry is confident that many small reactors will be built in Britain and that the country will become a showcase for the industry and an exporter of the technology. The ideal is for each town to have its own reactor.

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nuke-powerIn a surprise move, the UK govt has put the brakes on the Hinkley Point nuclear power contract. Yesterday, there was anticipation in the media that the directorate of EDF would approve the scheme. In the event, the vote was 10 to 7 in favour, though one director resigned beforehand.

Maybe the depth of the split on the EDF board has given the new UK government the jitters. In a brief two line statement this morning, the business secretary, Greg Clark, said the government would now examine all components of the deal and decide in the Autumn whether to go ahead, or not.

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Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia


Sanity went out of the window some time ago in the Western world’s ideas on electricity supply, and California’s leaders have been keen to lead that type of charge, in league with ‘green’ pressure groups, as Somewhat Reasonable points out.

“California’s largest utility and environmental groups announced a deal Tuesday [June 21] to shutter the last nuclear power plant in the state.” This statement from the Associated Press reporting about the announced closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant should startle you.

The news about shutting down California’s last operating nuclear power plant, especially after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) had sought a 20-year extension of the operating licenses for the two reactors, is disappointing—not startling.

What should pique your ire is that the “negotiated proposal,” as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) called it, is between the utility company and environmental groups—with no mention of the regulators elected to insure that consumers have efficient, effective and economical electricity.

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Small modular reactors [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]

Small modular reactors [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]


A thousand or two of these and Hinkley Point C could be surplus to requirements. — PEI reporting.

A UK-based small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) development consortium has announced a co-operation agreement with the Polish National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) aimed at deploying its U-Battery technology in Poland.  

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credit: IB Times

credit: IB Times


This non-project (so far) must hold some sort of record for delays, doubts, cost increases and basic feasibility. PEI reports on the latest negative news.

The beleaguered Hinkley Point C project in western England is set to suffer another setback, with the unions involved in EDF reinforcing their opposition to the nuclear power plant project going ahead.

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Hinkley Point, Somerset [image credit: conservativehome.com]

Hinkley Point, Somerset
[image credit: conservativehome.com]


This could be yet another spanner in the works for the tottering nuclear power project that Britain’s political leaders seem so keen on. On the other hand a negative view from Greenpeace of nuclear power is no surprise.
H/T Power Engineering International

Legal opinion commissioned by Greenpeace suggests that any French government financial support to EDF to enable the company to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in the UK would almost certainly be blocked by the European Commission.

The legal viewpoint is that the commission would not agree to government assistance as it would constitute a breach of state aid guidelines.

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Decision time? [credit: Bussolati]

Decision time? [credit: Bussolati]


Now EDF has to show it wouldn’t be sidelining renewable energy projects if it committed to building Hinkley nuclear plant, reports the Telegraph. Can it get any more farcical?

Hinkley Point C could still be postponed, French energy minister Ségolène Royal has said, in an apparent sign of division within the French government over the controversial nuclear project.

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