nuclear power too expensive

Is nuclear fission going to make a comeback and plug the gap in our energy needs? Will nuclear fusion ever become energetically viable?

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Eclipse
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Post by Eclipse »

fuzzy wrote:I think we are all interested in any new nuclear developments. I agree that if life is to stay as convenient as now, we need a baseload electricity supply. Maybe nuclear will be inevitable for that reason. I am expecting life to have far less convenience in the future.
Thank you for your open minded attitude towards this sometimes quite emotive subject. BTW, have you seen the Thorcon plans? It's a Molten Salt Reactor with all that safety, but mass produced in shipyards and deployed by boat. They're floating nuclear reactors that pilot into developing world harbours and plug into their grids at 7c kwh, projected of course. They're Canada based but aiming to sell to Indonesia within 7 years.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

I note that you say "the Thorcon plans". It is yet to happen like so much in the nuclear and fusion field. Perhaps when there is actually a reactor on the ground that is actually producing electricity at a cost which is competitive and actually breeds and which is actually safe, all at the same time, we can start thinking about a future for the technology.

Hopefully the new reactors won't have to be sited on the coast where they are vulnerable to sea level rise and tsunamis.
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Post by Eclipse »

kenneal - lagger wrote:I note that you say "the Thorcon plans". It is yet to happen like so much in the nuclear and fusion field. Perhaps when there is actually a reactor on the ground that is actually producing electricity at a cost which is competitive and actually breeds and which is actually safe, all at the same time, we can start thinking about a future for the technology.

Hopefully the new reactors won't have to be sited on the coast where they are vulnerable to sea level rise and tsunamis.
Thorcon isn't a breeder. It's a short lived reactor that will be recycled after 10 years. It's got all the passive safety of a molten salt reactor, so if a tsunami knocked it out it would sink and the salt would 'freeze' into a solid at below 400c, and not go anywhere. Water is a great moderator of radioactivity, halving the radiation of something every 12 cm. A fatal dose is reduced to fairly harmless within the height of the average man.

Thorcon will float up with the sea level rise, just not an issue. In fact, ideal for it! Better than land reactors close to the ocean! But it produces waste, and that will need to go off to carefully placed MSCFR's that can burn up the waste.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

A virtual tour of Hinckley C Marine Project to be given by Balfour Beatty either on August 1st and 5th August have just been cancelled. No reason given although revised dates are to be offered. Seems familiar for nuclear projects!!
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Post by Eclipse »

kenneal - lagger wrote:A virtual tour of Hinckley C Marine Project to be given by Balfour Beatty either on August 1st and 5th August have just been cancelled. No reason given although revised dates are to be offered. Seems familiar for nuclear projects!!
When did I say anything to do with Hinckley is gold-standard or some sort of example to take note of? In fact I often quote this study which illustrates how easy it is to cherrypick the wrong individual reactors or even the wrong countries! That is, bad project management can sometimes be a legislative issue when we're talking about huge capital investments.
The existing literature on the construction costs of nuclear power reactors has focused almost exclusively on trends in construction costs in only two countries, the United States and France, and during two decades, the 1970s and 1980s. These analyses, Koomey and Hultman (2007); Grubler (2010), and Escobar-Rangel and Lévêque (2015), study only 26% of reactors built globally between 1960 and 2010, providing an incomplete picture of the economic evolution of nuclear power construction. This study curates historical reactor-specific overnight construction cost (OCC) data that broaden the scope of study substantially, covering the full cost history for 349 reactors in the US, France, Canada, West Germany, Japan, India, and South Korea, encompassing 58% of all reactors built globally. We find that trends in costs have varied significantly in magnitude and in structure by era, country, and experience. In contrast to the rapid cost escalation that characterized nuclear construction in the United States, we find evidence of much milder cost escalation in many countries, including absolute cost declines in some countries and specific eras. Our new findings suggest that there is no inherent cost escalation trend associated with nuclear technology.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 1516300106
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

What I posted had nothing to do with your post Eclipse. It refers to the OP and to do with Adam's posts relating to the continual failure of nuclear plants in the UK to restart on time after maintenance closures. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to stress the unreliability of the nuclear industry once more.
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Post by Eclipse »

kenneal - lagger wrote:What I posted had nothing to do with your post Eclipse. It refers to the OP and to do with Adam's posts relating to the continual failure of nuclear plants in the UK to restart on time after maintenance closures. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to stress the unreliability of the nuclear industry once more.
Are nukes safe?
Well - which one?

Are countries safe?
Well - which one?

Dr James Hansen has calculated that nuclear power has saved 1.8 million lives by displacing deadly coal.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/th ... lion-more/

And that's old nukes! Today's passive safety nukes shut themselves down in a power failure - much like the EBR2 did when they put it through Fukushima-styled power outages. It "politely refused" to melt down.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experimen ... ive_safety

But not only that, the EBR2 demonstrated (as many other fast reactors have also shown) that the raw physics of breeder reactors works - meaning we can convert the UK's nuclear weapons and waste into about 500 years of clean, safe, affordable, abundant, RELIABLE carbon free energy. The UK nearly agreed to build these. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_(reactor)

It gets better. Many companies are working on Molten Salt Reactors - breeder reactors that eat nuclear waste but do so in a liquid core. That means it CANNOT 'melt down' because it is ALREADY a liquid! Indeed, if someone shot it with a rocket and the reactor exploded, the molten salt would crystalise and just sit there and not burn off all over the place like Chernobyl did. We have enough uranium on land to run us for 50,000 years but I think we'd have fusion or baseload solar power from space long before then. But in the meantime - nuclear is my preferred green energy.
Last edited by Eclipse on Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Little John »

The solution to the problems attendant with technological progress is not more technological progress
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Post by Eclipse »

Little John wrote:The solution to the problems attendant with technological progress is not more technological progress
It is if you love the earth and want to save her.

Cavemen drove mammoths extinct, and hunter gatherers have also eaten many megafauna into extinction.

The solution to I=PAT isn't trying to reduce the P or A, but the T.

If we reduce the T, we'll eat the planet down to the bones. If we increase the T we'll have abundant clean goods and services from all, 'decoupled' from nature.
http://www.ecomodernism.org/

There are many low-tech ways we can feed a modern world of 10 billion people... but this is my favourite high tech way.

George Monbiot discusses it - flour from bacteria and hydrogen grown in a factory! They have already fermented a bacteria grown flour and made George a pancake - and are working on meat patties and even omega 3 rich seafood alternatives. Forget farming - meet fermenting - or 'ferming'. If this happens, solar powered ferming factories in our deserts could feed the human race with only fruit and vegetable farms scattered around our cities required for flavours.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ave-planet

"The solution to the problems attendant with technological progress is not more technological progress" - when you've seen some of the tech I've seen and read about - you'll realise that the mantra quoted here is not just hippie crap - it's actually anti-environment.
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Post by fuzzy »

Any reactors in Sidney? Show us how it's done.
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Post by PS_RalphW »

I went for a job interview in fusion research in 1984 France won the ITER contract in 1985. The start building the demonstration reactor (not commercially viable) this year, planned completion 2025. 40 years and I am not holding my breath. Nuclear and fusion are far too complex to be safe in a world of declining net energy. Renewables are cheaper, safer, more distributed, more scaleable.

Read Tainter
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Post by Eclipse »

Fusion is making gains in many measurable metrics. But even if it remains impossible to do real net energy profit, we don't need fusion to have reliable clean energy forever. We already have that in fission. The uranium in seawater is 'renewable' in that continental drift + mountain creation + erosion = renewable uranium particles in our oceans constantly topped up from the magma.

Fission can prevent the net energy decline you speak of - and even Dr James Hansen says believing in a 100% renewable grid is like believing in the Easter Bunny or Tooth fairy. Google it.

Tainter is a complexity theorist for modern societies and especially those that have too much administrative burden as a net energy decline occurs. But his theory doesn't apply in this situation if the population tops out due to a Demographic Transition and we have a stable energy supply for all our needs.
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Post by adam2 »

Each new design of nuclear power station seems to be more expensive and less reliable than previous designs.
New safety features are continually added to deal with actual or imagined risks, and each new safety feature adds another layer of complexity.

Wind turbines and PV modules meanwhile continue to get cheaper as the technology becomes more familiar and production increases.
Utility scale battery storage is also becoming cheaper.

Any technology to produce electricity carries some risks, but wind and solar simply can not cause the scale of destruction that a melted down or blown up reactor can.
Also lots of small accidents are considered more acceptable than the odd very large accident.
If say 1,000 people die worldwide in individual accidents whilst erecting or servicing wind turbines, no one much cares apart from those directly affected.
If 1,000 people are killed in a nuclear reactor meltdown, there would be outrage.
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Post by clv101 »

There's a reason we're not, some 60 yrs on, mostly powering the country (the world?) with fission. Its not lack of U, fears about accident or concerns about waste. It's cost. Just too damn expensive.

For fusion, assuming all the fundamental science and engineering challenges are solved, there still doesn't seem to be anyone saying it will be cheap enough to be competitive.

If it really was plausible that fusion had the potential to deliver large amounts of cheap energy - it would be receiving *far* more investment from governments and billionaires alike.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

Eclipse wrote:
kenneal - lagger wrote:What I posted had nothing to do with your post Eclipse. It refers to the OP and to do with Adam's posts relating to the continual failure of nuclear plants in the UK to restart on time after maintenance closures. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to stress the unreliability of the nuclear industry once more.
Are nukes safe?
Well - which one?

Are countries safe?
Well - which one?

.......................
You have a strange style, Eclipse! Quote someone's post and then ask and answer questions completely unrelated to that post. That's twice in as many days that you have done that. And you have also voided answering the claim of unreliability of nuclear power.

Then you make the claim that we have enough U on land to run us for 50,000 years. According to this article from an authoritative industry source
According to the NEA, identified uranium resources total 5.5 million metric tons, and an additional 10.5 million metric tons remain undiscovered—a roughly 230-year supply at today's consumption rate in total.
If nukes are so good everyone will want one so we end up with 100 times as many as we have now so that we actually only have 2.3 years supply left. Or do you propose that no one else apart from us should have nukes?

When you come up with figures, Eclipse, can you find a decent reference for them and that might actually calm your ludicrous claims down a bit. Also can you answer the questions that people ask and not the ones that you want to answer in your own biased way.

Is this figure where you got your 50,000 years supply from?
There is around 40 trillion tons of uranium in Earth's crust, but most is distributed at low parts per million trace concentration over its 3 * 1019 ton mass. Estimates of the amount concentrated into ores affordable to extract for under $130 per kg can be less than a millionth of that total.

Peak uranium - Wikipedia
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