Nuclear power is in decline, despite new reactors
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Source: Economist

Category: Digital Media, Energy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

22 Responses to “Nuclear Power in Decline?”

  1. Joe Friday says:

    Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, and South Korea have all announced plans to completely phase-out their nuclear power plants. The Japanese people (not the current conservative government) also want to get rid of their nuclear power plants.

    The nuclear industry should be globally banned from constructing any new nuclear plants until they can come back with fusion reactors that have a track record of safety and stability.

    • bprophetable says:

      The jellyfish are going to enjoy hanging out on the new reef around the remains of the steaming, sinking, twisting, creaking Fukushima plant with its deadly spent fuel rod pools wafting in the wind for now……
      Who is going to fund the decommissioning, the relocation of populations away from the dangerously radioactive crumbling concrete nuclear reactors once they are off line, but still decaying into the landscape, into the water table, into the rivers and oceans?
      Where’s the corporation, government or non-profit signing up for this job?

  2. S Brennan says:

    Joe Friday,

    All the advantages of a fusion reactor can be found here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor#Advantages

    This was Jimmy Carter’s biggest mistake and NOBODY wants to go back and re-examine it.

  3. Bob A says:

    Even newer combined cycle gas plants are being shut down or mothballed in Germany due to the abundance of wind and solar which has come on line. In the US new wind plants are now cheaper than gas in wind resource rich areas and solar is competitive in areas with high solar resources.

    Nuclear power can’t compete. Possibly in China where labor costs are lower but not in the US or Europe. And they still haven’t figured out what to do with the waste.

    • S Brennan says:

      Bob A,

      The biggest single purchaser of French Nuclear Power is Germany. It is France’s abundance that allows Germany to behave as they do. Whatever else you may think of France, unlike the rest of the world, it runs it runs it’s nuclear industry well.

  4. Lyle says:

    Lets look at the deregulated parts of the US electric system (which is where new plants are not being built BTW). There are basically three kinds of entities in this system, the retailer, the distribution company, and the generating company. The distribution company does not care who is the retailer or other than in terms of grid stability who the generator is. The retailers concern is to get the lowest cost of power to supply its customers, because in this environment in general electric kilowatt hours are a pure commodity. The folks that would build a new nuclear plant would be the generators. However in order to get financing for the new plant they need to have signed contracts with the retailers to supply them power, else no financing. Now from a retailers point of view in the past nuclear plants have had large delays and as well a serious cost overruns, meaning that unless the generator is willing to sign a fixed price (under all conditions ) contract, the retailer would prefer a gas turbine solution which can be delivered in 3 years at a predictable cost. So short of the fixed price contract the retailer won’t sign up for the nuclear power, and a fixed cost contract, would mean that the generator would likely not be able to finance the plant as its ability to service its construction loans can not be determined.
    It is interesting that the plants being built in the US are in areas of traditional vertically integrated electric service, where the utility gets a profit of x% of its installed capital, thus a nuclear plant is a good thing in this environment because the rate payers will pay for it plus a little for profit. due to the way regulation works. In fact today the utilities are asking the state PUCs to include the partially constructed plants in the rate base before they come on line.
    So in many respects I contend that Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling killed the US nuclear industry off at least in the non vertically integrated electric regions.

  5. Biffah Bacon says:

    Is WPPSS still the largest bond default in the history of the world? That didn’t work out so well, and Hanford is a bottomless pit of nuclear contamination endlessly leaking and creeping into a brutalized Columbia River.

  6. Investradamus says:

    New reactors? Not in the NIMBY world of ‘muricuh! The first reactor (first 2, actually) to be built in the last 30 years in the US was going to be the expansion of the STP in Bay City, TX which would have provided power to San Antonio and Austin. However, after lots of lawsuits and litigation, CPS Energy (municipally owned by the residents of SA) became the minorty stakeholder and the majorty stakeholder ultimately became TEPCO. Then Fukushima happened (which was also owned/operated by TEPCO), and the STP expansion was put on hiatus indefinitely, and eventually it was effectively cancelled in 2011 when they pulled out of the permitting process.

  7. Willy2 says:

    Why build new reactors when the world economy is about to take a nosedive (again) ?

  8. DeDude says:

    A new reactor is a bet that for the next 30 years (at least) the efficiency of solar and wind power will not increase by more than a factor 4 and there will be no technology to obtain mid-term (weeks) storage of electrical energy with less than 50% loss. That is a heck of a risky bet. No surprise that knowledgable investors are not willing to make such a bet.

    What we need is to decentralize our energy infrastructure to make it compatible with a future where all single family houses can produce their own needs for energy with just a small need for “backup” and peak winter support from the local grid. With a small natural gas powerplant/generator most town could be completely independent of outside electricity sources.

    • darkstar says:

      Solar works now – at least in California. I recently bought 10 Sunpower panels for my house, and they’re producing more electricity than we use – the extra goes back into the grid. Based on current electricity costs, the panels have an ROI of about 14%, pre-tax. Talk about a no-brainer – I sold some utility stocks with a 4-5% divvy, and bought the panels instead.

      So why build nuclear, which is inherently dangerous, produces a deadly waste product, and is massively capital intensive, when solar is clean, decentralized and economically beneficial? How’s this for a stimulus plan: Put solar panels on every house in the country.

      • darkstar says:

        Haha, just saw this a few minutes later:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/business/energy-environment/utilities-confront-fresh-threat-do-it-yourself-power.html?hp&_r=0

        Utilities fighting tooth and nail to stop rooftop solar.

      • S Brennan says:

        As we convert to electric vehicles our residential sector consumption of electricity will increase radically*, but here is where we stand now.

        http://www.energyliteracy.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/ElectricityGridSourceSector2008.png

        As you can see, you are trying to solve 1/3rd of the problem…and as you noted, in a place that lends itself to your preferred solution. A Brooklyn walk up might be a bit trickier to convert to solar. Additionally, the solar panel market maybe artificially cheap, given the Chinese governments support of their industry in driving competing nations out of the business.

        *and that is a good thing

      • DeDude says:

        Very interesting to see that twice as much is lost in generation and transmission as is actually used by the end users. Pionts to the huge waste of energy from these huge centralized generation centers compared to direct production on the roofs of end users. That should be taken into account as we compare the so-called “efficiency” of building huge solar plants vs. the residential rooftop panels. Not surprising that the industry for producing, transmitting and distributing electricity is so scared (as pointed out by darkstar). Those people would lose out big time if the government began supporting the only sensible solution of small local safe and independent power companies. Don’t upgrade the national grid – get rid of this wasteful and outdated concept.

      • S Brennan says:

        You misunderstand transmission losses, most are caused by bottlenecks, not long lines. This because most lines were installed in the 50′s with little update due to population shifts.

        “In many areas of the US, transmission constraints have reached the point where they not only cost consumers billions of dollars in congestion charges, they threaten the integrity of the power system itself…Over the past twenty years, the situation has continued to deteriorate to the point where now the question of installing a new line is nearly moot in some locations. By the time it was completed, demand would long since have outstripped the ability of the local grid to meet it, so a short-term solution must be implemented in the interim…Improving transmission capacity is also vital to the integration of renewables like wind and solar which are often located far from the loads they must serve.”

        http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2007/07/energy-efficiency-in-the-power-grid-49238

      • DeDude says:

        @ S Brennan, there is not going to be much “congestion” for the electricity traveling from my roof to the sockets in my house. Furthermore, the fact that I no longer require electricity produced hundreds of miles away will help reduce congestion (and loses) within the current grid and for those who do not have solar panels.

        It is true that most people would not have money to pay in cash for such a system. But people get mortgages for more than 19K so what should prevent them from getting loans for something that can give a ROI of 14%. Still plenty of room for investors to get a good return on a loan and for the stretched consumer to get some savings in the long run.

      • darkstar says:

        Interesting graph. As far as “trying to solve 1/3 the problem”:

        1. I don’t see why commercial retail couldn’t participate as well. That makes it 2/3.
        2. We also won’t have that “lost in transmission” problem anymore.
        3. I used to live in Manhattan. No reason every building in the city couldn’t have solar panels on the roof.
        4. California is obviously naturally suited to solar. So are Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, etc etc. 10 panels takes care of my own needs. No reason I couldn’t put up 20 to feed into the grid, if there was an economic/political reason to do so.

        Never mind all that – I really wanted to solve MY problem. I sold $12,000 worth of utility stocks yielding a taxable 4.5%, and will now save $1500 per year of taxed dollars. A roughly 14% ROI, already taxed. It’s awesome…just got my latest bill from PG&E today. It said “no payment due.”

      • S Brennan says:

        How many households 150,000,000? Times $12,000.00 or 2x in less optimal states, say an average of 19,000 average? That’s about 3 TRILLION up front. The net worth of the bottom 1/3rd of American citizens is approximately 90 Billion. The average American has 3,800 dollars in liquidity, [ie, money not tied to housing]…and remember, this number is an AVERAGE, which means the vast majority don’t have two nickles to rub together.

        I’m glad you’ve taken care of yourself…and the environment, but you’re projecting your wealth into a population that will NEVER have anything like it. What-chah gonna do with a place like this?

        http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/robert-taylor-homes-opens

        Don’t forget, YOU are being HEAVILY subsidized by other rate payers who are less fortunate than you. Good for you, but bad for the folks in Hayes Valley.

  9. jeffvision says:

    Look for the next poke at Cold Fusion, or rather Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR). It’s been around for a while and this could be the time to slip it by the hot energy physics lobby.