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The current two reactor facility in South Texas may be expanding soon.  (Source: NRG)

A peek inside one of the facility's current reactors. Note the fuel rods which ring the tank.  (Source: NRG)
Interest in clean alternative energy has revived interest in nuclear power

New Jersey-based NRG Energy filed to build two new reactors at its (currently) two-reactor nuclear power plant near Houston.  The two new reactors would more than double the plant's capacity by 2015.

The plants are not your father's reactors either -- they are cutting-edge advanced boiling-water reactors, which have been successfully operated in Japan for some time.  This new breed of critical fission reactors promise safer, cleaner and more efficient power production over traditional plant designs.

The Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) is a Generation III nuclear reactor, developed by General Energy.  Internal water circulation is drastically improved over older models, increasing safety and efficiency.  Rods were previously hydraulically extended, but in the ABWR they are raised and lowered by electric fine motion motors, to allow for more precise control.  Moreover, the system is automated and only needs operator control once every three days.  Japan currently has four of these reactors operational, with six more coming soon.

NRG President and Chief Executive Officer, David Crane hailed the move as an alternative energy landmark.  "Advanced nuclear technology is the only currently viable large-scale alternative to traditional coal-fueled generation to produce none of the traditional air emissions," said Crane.

The plant has received backing from the U.S. Congress and has also received $500 million in risk insurance from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The application may mark the rebirth of the U.S. nuclear industry.  As many as 29 new reactors are in the works to possibly be added to the current U.S. fleet of 104, according to Bill Borchardt, director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) office of new reactors.

"It is going to be significantly different than it was in the 1970s," said Borchardt.

The application is the first filed for a completely new design in more than 30 years.  It is not the first "new" reactor though, as an inactive reactor at Browns Ferry in northern Alabama was restarted in May after 22 years of inactivity due to poor maintenance.

The rebirth of the nuclear industry has certainly fueled its critics as well.  They point to the Three Mile Incident of 1979, the U.S.'s worst nuclear accident and Chernobyl in 1986.

Critic Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's energy program, an anti-nuclear watch-dog group had this to say about the state of nuclear power, "The flaws of nuclear power—excessive cost, security threats and long-lived radioactive waste—have not been solved.  More nuclear reactors will only exacerbate these problems."

Many people, though, in the energy industry see building nuclear reactors as key to overcoming carbon fuel reliance and possibly impacting climate change.

"If we're not serious about building more nuclear energy [power plants] around the world, then we are not serious about addressing climate change," stated James Rogers, chief executive of North Carolina based–Duke Energy reasoned in an address to the U.N. Climate Summit.

If the reactor is approved, which seems likely, it will provide over 2,700 Mega-Watts of new power capacity.

Safety issues are certainly a concern, but many improvements in both design and structural stability have helped to turn the tide in favor of nuclear energy.  In July a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck one of the Japan's ABWR plants, as reported by blogger Michael Asher at DailyTech.  The natural disaster caused limited damage, and released almost no nuclear materials, despite the severity of the quake.  Many other structures in the area received far more significant damage.

The move is likely to reopen the nuclear debate, but as the carbon resource supply enters its twilight hours, there will be increased interest in alternative energy, including nuclear power.  The future of nuclear power, which seemed nearly dead in the U.S., is suddenly looking a whole lot brighter.



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Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 10:52:28 AM , Rating: 5
Great article Jason. I'm going to respond to Public Citizen's comment, though:
quote:
The flaws of nuclear power—excessive cost, security threats and long-lived radioactive waste—have not been solved...
Nuclear power is by far the cheapest form of power generation. In 2006, it averaged 1.66 cents/Kw-hr, including plant amortization and waste disposal costs, cheaper than coal, and a tiny fraction of the 20-45 cents/Kw-hr that solar and coal typically run.

As for "long-lived" waste, most industrial wastes are dangerous forever. Nuclear waste is unique in that it decays. The disposal problem was solved long ago. Remove any Pu, drop it for six months in a holding pond to get rid of the truly dangerous radionuclides, then bury it in the desert.

Glassifying and dropping it in the ocean would be even simpler. There's countless millions of tons of uranium, thorium, and radium already dissolved in ocea wasters...a few more won't even register on the scale. As long as you don't drop it in shallow waters, ocean disposal would be the safest and cheapest solution of all.




RE: Best news of the year
By SavagePotato on 9/27/2007 11:06:04 AM , Rating: 5
Even mentioning the idea of dropping it in the ocean would have the critics on meltdown mode.

Just about nothing is going to get nuclear critics out of irrational paralyzing fear mode.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 11:21:42 AM , Rating: 3
Very true. I mention it only to highlight how irrational the debate has become.


RE: Best news of the year
By ajfink on 9/27/2007 11:30:01 AM , Rating: 4
I fully support dropping glassed nuclear waste in some of the immensely deep and other humanly unusable sea trenches around the globe. It's true, people have been trained to fear all things nuclear, but it's all about proper control, planning and not being irrational about the whole subject.

I blame Hollywood, hippies and Chernobyl.


RE: Best news of the year
By acer905 on 9/27/2007 12:01:13 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I blame Hollywood, hippies and Chernobyl


And thats why we don't use Soviet reactors!


RE: Best news of the year
By The Sword 88 on 9/27/2007 12:31:49 PM , Rating: 4
Or Soviet technicians who caused most of the problems.

I also blame the Sierra Club and Jane Fonda. especially Jane Fonda.


RE: Best news of the year
By TomZ on 9/27/2007 12:34:57 PM , Rating: 5
...and don't forget Greepeace! They hate nuclear energy with a passion.

(I just can't get past the irony of that, sorry.)


RE: Best news of the year
By hrah20 on 9/27/07, Rating: -1
RE: Best news of the year
By jskirwin on 9/27/2007 3:07:49 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
yeah right, that's what they said on chernobyl.


Unless by "they" you mean Pravda and/or Stalin, I'd agree with you. However "they" didn't care too much about plant safety - or public opinion for that matter.


RE: Best news of the year
By LogicallyGenius on 9/28/07, Rating: -1
RE: Best news of the year
By TomZ on 9/28/2007 10:11:25 AM , Rating: 2
Got proof for your idiotic assertion?


RE: Best news of the year
By LogicallyGenius on 9/28/07, Rating: -1
RE: Best news of the year
By LogicallyGenius on 9/30/07, Rating: -1
RE: Best news of the year
By LogicallyGenius on 10/1/07, Rating: -1
RE: Best news of the year
By giantpandaman2 on 9/27/2007 3:09:02 PM , Rating: 3
I don't hate nuclear. I just have problems with toxic waste and protection of nuclear facilities. Anyone who thinks we've solved either one has to go do some research. To "protect" nuclear facilities security companies actually got foreknowledge of when "secretive" raids were going to happen by the government to test them.

As for waste...technology sounds promising, but unproven yet. I live in Washington, and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is still a horrible mess. Leaky barrels, leaky cisterns full of waste, possibly contaminating groundwater, etc. Glassing it looks promising...but I'll need to see proof before I believe it can be done en masse effectively and safely. When Hanford is cleaned up, and other toxic nuclear messes, I might have more belief in nuclear power.

As it stands, the idea of trucking around toxic waste to "store" it anywhere, whether it be Yucca mountain or some deep see trench, seems like a security nightmare.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 3:30:03 PM , Rating: 5
> "I live in Washington, and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is still a horrible mess."

And yet no one has been harmed by this "horrible mess". Doesn't that make you suspect its been somewhat overhyped?

Meanwhile, we continue to operate coal plants that result in tens of thousands of deaths per year, because we're afraid of a vanishingly small risk from nuclear power. Does that seem wise to you?

> "the idea of trucking around toxic waste to "store" it anywhere...seems like a security nightmare"

We truck non-nuclear toxic waste around the country all the time...some of it much more dangerous than nuclear waste,

Is it impossible to conceive of terrorists succesfully stealing nuclear waste for use in a "dirty bomb"? Anything is possible in theory. But such a bomb would be primarily a PR tactic, useful due to the inherent fear most people have for anything nuclear-related. If you simply wanted to kill a large number of people, you'd have far more luck with a different route.


RE: Best news of the year
By Verran on 9/27/2007 4:03:55 PM , Rating: 3
I'm a VERY big fan of nuclear power possibilities, so I ask this out of curiosity, and not to be critical, but...

What is the risk of a 9/11 style attack on a nuclear power site? Assuming you're a terrorist and you target a nuclear plant, how much damage could you do? If you crashed a plane into a nuclear reactor, what kind of devastation would we be talking about? That would be my biggest concern, and I honestly don't know the answer.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 4:18:01 PM , Rating: 4
> " If you crashed a plane into a nuclear reactor, what kind of devastation would we be talking about? "

A reactor contains a concrete containment dome several feet thick, covered with steel...a structure far stronger than a freestanding skyscraper.

In the 1980s, Sandia National Labs conducted a test by slamming a Phantom Jet moving nearly 500mph into a simulated containment structure. The jet only penetrated a few inches into the 10-foot thick block.

Admittedly a Phantom is not the largest of jets. But calculations show a typical containment structure would easily survive an impact even from a 747.

Is such a calculation foolproof? Of course nothing in life is. But even if its wrong, lets look at the results. Let's assume the structure was not only penetrated, but sustained critical damage. Let's assume the reactor cooling system was compromised to the point that a meltdown would occur (even more unlikely, but nevermind). If the government took appropriate action after the accident, the expected result would be a few dozen deaths from elevated cancer rates. And remember, that's assuming a whole host of unlikely events.

Any terrorist would have far better luck with an alternate target.


RE: Best news of the year
By rbuszka on 9/27/2007 10:41:51 PM , Rating: 2
An important factor in the collapse of the Trade Center towers was the fact that the spilled fuel created an intense fire that softened steel structural members. In the case of a concrete containment structure that is literally feet thick, there wouldn't be significant damage either from the plane or its fuel.


RE: Best news of the year
By TomZ on 9/28/2007 10:18:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
An important factor in the collapse of the Trade Center towers was the fact that the spilled fuel created an intense fire that softened steel structural members.

I agree with your post, but in the Trade Center, the jet fuel actually burned within the first few minutes, however, it lit all the office contents on fire. These burning contents, mostly paper, is what damaged the structure of the towers and brought them down.


RE: Best news of the year
By Christopher1 on 9/28/07, Rating: -1
RE: Best news of the year
By jkostans on 9/28/2007 9:14:14 AM , Rating: 3
If people didn't have to mine for coal for power we would actually be saving lives. (20-50 deaths per 100,000 workers every year). That's a terrible rate, and going to nuclear would reduce this number by a good amount.


RE: Best news of the year
By Rovemelt on 9/28/2007 11:49:15 AM , Rating: 2
Coal mining in China is apparently much more dangerous than in the US. Many of their mine tragedies dwarf the ones we have here in the states. It's difficult to get accurate stats from China, but here is a ChinaDaily story regarding the issue:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-04/0...


RE: Best news of the year
By mars777 on 9/27/07, Rating: -1
RE: Best news of the year
By chrispyski on 9/27/2007 5:19:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And yet no one has been harmed by this "horrible mess". Doesn't that make you suspect its been somewhat overhyped?


I live downriver from Hanford in Portland, Oregon...and it is in fact quite a mess. In fact windsurfers who come to the gorge (which is a big attraction for the area) have been coming down with odd illnesses.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/20...


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 5:39:06 PM , Rating: 5
> "In fact windsurfers ... have been coming down with odd illnesses."

And 400 years ago, the same people would be burning Aunt Sally at the stake, because their cow went dry when she walked by.

Is there truly such a level of ignorance today that people will believe a nuclear facility is giving people stuffy noses hundreds of miles away?

Nuclear contamination is essentially impossible to miss. That's one of the reasons people have such a fear over it. We have the ability to detect the decay of a single atom, so even amounts millions of times below the human safety factor are easy to spot. If any radioactive material was in the river (other than what naturally exists in it, that is), it would have been detected.


RE: Best news of the year
By Christopher1 on 9/28/2007 2:27:39 AM , Rating: 2
Who says it wasn't? I'm not usually a suspicious person (actually, I am, but I keep it to myself usually) but after a government who allowed people to die from syphillis, a government who allowed soldiers to die from botulism, etc........ I'm wondering if it was found there and it was 'hushed up'.

Now, I know you are going to call me 'paranoid' for thinking that...... but I've been called paranoid many times before, in regards to Bush lying to us to get us to go into Iraq, and I've been proven right usually.


RE: Best news of the year
By giantpandaman2 on 9/27/2007 5:42:05 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, calling $11.3 billion on cleanup that's had repeated delays, cost overruns, etc. a horrible mess is hyperbole? Ahem, yeah. What would you characterize it as? A program with a few bugs?

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/268605_hanford...

With the security incidents the nuclear powerplants control centers were what was being "penetrated." And, please, there's all sorts of explosives that can blow through tons and tons of concrete. But, why would you need that when you could just cause the reactor to go into meltdown using the control center?

There's a difference between normal toxic waste and non-nuclear toxic waste. The biggest is simple: nuclear toxic waste can spread on the wind, and remain for thousands and thousands of years. Not to mention you don't need huge of amounts of it to cause a lot of problems.

As for the "vanishingly small" risk (hyperbole anyone?) it's not that I expect every nuclear power plant to blow up. It's simply that the stakes when you're playing with nuclear are far, far higher than any other technology. A mistake here, a security attack, etc. can do a lot of damage for a very, very long time. Do I trust contractors, the government, etc. since Hanford is still a mess? No.

As for the coal/nuclear thing-people worry about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Some people, like you, say there's no fire. Maybe you're right, maybe you're wrong. Inevitably, all the facts, data, and info tell me you're wrong at the moment. Simple as that. Could that change in the future? Maybe. But the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is still a horrible mess.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 5:56:25 PM , Rating: 3
> "Hmm, calling $11.3 billion on cleanup that's had repeated delays, cost overruns, etc. a horrible mess is hyperbole?"

Don't change the subject. The issue is safety....and Hanford has not harmed anyone.

As for the price tag, blame the environmentalists, for denying us the easy and cheap solution. Pump the waste out, glassify and drop it in a desert, or dump it directly in the ocean. Problem solved.

But everytime something is attempted to be done, some group steps in with a lawsuit and protests to block it. So the waste simply sets there, with costs mounting year after year. Its going to get worse before it gets better, with a mindset like that.

In any case, comparing the Hanford nuclear weapons site to a modern nuclear reactor is off base in the first place. Hanford began operation in the 1940s, and was never constructed to address waste issues or prevent contamination of the nearby environment.


RE: Best news of the year
By giantpandaman2 on 9/27/2007 7:14:26 PM , Rating: 1
Change the subject? We're talking about nuclear power right? The cost of cleaning up its mess isn't part of it? The fact there's millions of gallons of toxic waste that are slowly leaking has nothing to do with safety nor the viability of nuclear power? Come on now, come up with an actual argument.

Blame environmentalists for the Hanford mess? Wow, if that's not a cop out I don't know what is. As for it being old, etc. etc. Well, the toxic waste is still the same as the toxic waste from any other nuclear reactor...and it has to be cleaned up in the same way. Something that still hasn't been done. And did you read the linked article? Glassification of toxic waste still isn't doing so well as of its publication in August 2006 in Savannah.

Yeah, that pudding and your arguments are still a mess.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 7:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
> "Change the subject? We're talking about nuclear power right?"

Hanford has nothing to do with nuclear power. You do realize this, don't you? It's a massive (and ancient) weapons facility, not a commercial power reactor.

In any case, the previous poster brought up Hanford in the context of safety. I was merely pointing out that the cleanup effort there, while expensive, has not generated any public safety issues.

And yes, environmentalists are responsible for the price tag at Hanford. The waste there doesn't even need to be glassified. It could simply be pumped out, put it barrels, and dumped into a deep portion of the ocean. Total cost, under % of the $11B spent so far...and the end result would be just as safe.


RE: Best news of the year
By whickywhickyjim on 9/27/2007 6:33:29 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
As it stands, the idea of trucking around toxic waste to "store" it anywhere, whether it be Yucca mountain or some deep see trench, seems like a security nightmare.


what do think happens to all of the nuclear medical waste that comes from hospitals? Does it magiaclly disappear though the work of little gnomes?
This already happens daily.


RE: Best news of the year
By Hoser McMoose on 9/27/2007 2:09:43 PM , Rating: 5
Interesting point of note. A massive UN study found that over the course of 100 years from the date of the Chernobyl reactor accident it has or will cause 4,000 deaths. This is a tragedy, but certainly not even on the same order of magnitude as the worst accidents in power generation history.

Now even counting those 4,000 deaths, along with maybe another 1,000 deaths due to all aspects of nuclear power (mostly deaths by uranium miners as well as some in the construction of the reactor buildings) that's a total of 5,000 deaths due to nuclear power for about 50,000 TWh worth of electricity produced (worldwide since 1950), or 0.1 deaths/TWh. For comparison there have been about 30 deaths due to wind power (mostly maintenance crews) for about 150 TWh worth of wind electricity produced, or 0.2 deaths/TWh.

Long story short: nuclear power is roughly twice as safe as wind power.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 2:14:58 PM , Rating: 4
> "Long story short: nuclear power is roughly twice as safe as wind power. "

Excellent points Hoser. I'd like to add that most of the deaths from Chernobyl were due primarily to the Soviet Government refusing to notify and evacuate local citizens. There were still people fishing in Chernobyl's containment pond three days after the accident itself occurred. Had the government done nothing more than distribute iodine pills, the number of deaths would have been far smaller.

And of course, the discussion about Chernobyl is doubly moot, when one realizes we have reactor designs on the books that *cannot* explode, no matter what degree of human error one supposes.


RE: Best news of the year
By Bioniccrackmonk on 9/27/2007 2:48:59 PM , Rating: 2
What impact would iodine pills have in the event of nuclear contamination? Interested in learning this, never hear dof that before.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 3:35:46 PM , Rating: 4
All the civilian deaths from Chernobyl came from thyroid cancer. While overall radiation doses were very low, the thyroid gland concentrates the radioactive iodine released by the accident, resulting in cancer developing there. A simple, cheap potassium iodine pill prevents this.


RE: Best news of the year
By Hoser McMoose on 9/28/2007 4:14:50 PM , Rating: 2
As a bit of a side note they have seen some increased rates of leukaemia in the worst-affected population around the Chernobyl accident. It's tough to directly point to any particular case and say "this was caused by the accident", however the difference is enough to cause a certain number of estimated deaths from it. The UN study mentioned above estimated most of their 4000 deaths would be due to leukaemia.


RE: Best news of the year
By bespoke on 9/27/2007 2:37:09 PM , Rating: 2
Also, coal can contain radioactive elements, so all the coal burning we do to generate electricity releases far more radioactive elements than any nuclear accident ever has.


RE: Best news of the year
By mars777 on 9/27/2007 11:39:21 PM , Rating: 2
All you said is true, but 300 rads can be absorbed by a human body in one year. Not 1 hour. So basically low radiation isnt deadly or causes severe ilnesses. But a nuclear accident does.

All the burnt coal didnt harm us because of radiation but more likely because of impure air and the like.


RE: Best news of the year
By cyclosarin on 9/28/2007 12:55:36 AM , Rating: 2
300 cGy would make someone sick, it wouldn't kill them though unless there was some other reason that compounds the radiation poisoning.


RE: Best news of the year
By cochy on 9/27/2007 4:58:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yup. And using distance traveled world wide one finds that elevator travel is by far the safest mode of transport available. Bet you didn't expect that one! =)


RE: Best news of the year
By clemedia on 9/27/2007 10:19:35 PM , Rating: 2
Escalators USED to have them beat out..........until people started wearing crocs anyways. ;P


RE: Best news of the year
By Upstone on 9/28/2007 7:37:50 AM , Rating: 2
hilarious.


RE: Best news of the year
By Strunf on 9/27/2007 2:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
pfft blame the two nukes over Japan... if people fear the nuclear it's cause of those two had they never been sent people wouldn't even know nuclear energy could cause soo much destruction... heck Chernobyl is more like the proof that Nuclear power plants don't blow up and are relatively harmless.


By Master Kenobi (blog) on 9/27/2007 2:44:04 PM , Rating: 4
The irony is that Japan embraces nuclear power while we do not and they were the ones that saw first hand the results of a nuclear explosion.


RE: Best news of the year
By ninjaquick on 9/27/2007 4:28:47 PM , Rating: 3
yeah.... what people seem to not understand is that there is WAY too little Uranium-235 in the reactor to even cause a poof. It is simply impossible for a nuclear reactor to turn into a mushroom cloud. Chernobyl exploded cause of the tremendous pressure that built up inside of of its reactor, not because of a massive nuclear chain reaction.


RE: Best news of the year
By SavagePotato on 9/28/2007 8:09:07 PM , Rating: 3
Well it is only a matter of time before godzilla stomps his scaly ass out of one of those trenches and wreaks unholy destruction on the mainland, thats a given.

But at least if we dump it in the pacific chances are he will hit hollywood first so it's not all bad. Theres a good chance him and oh I don't know, Anne Coulter might get together and start a family.

All in all I would have to say im for it then cause that would be awesome.


RE: Best news of the year
By Upstone on 9/27/2007 3:17:56 PM , Rating: 2
Agree. It seems most people against nuclear power simply don't know anything about it.

maybe gorvernments should fund some proper education on it to stop (most) of the general public believing hollywood and taking things like the simpsons litterally.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 3:37:23 PM , Rating: 2
If the government required people to carry around a geiger counter for a few days, to see just how much radiation they're exposed to on a daily basis, most people would quickly drop their irrational fears.


RE: Best news of the year
By Christopher1 on 9/28/2007 2:23:56 AM , Rating: 1
It's not really a 'paralyzing fear' mode that is unreasonable. Personally, I would be okay with nuclear power.... but ONLY if we found a way to reuse the nuclear materials, moving them from reactor to reactor, until they were totally used up so that there wasn't hardly anything left to dispose of.

I am frightened of a nuclear meltdown, rightfully I might add, because at least if a coal plant blows up, there isn't any radioactive fallout. Solar and wind? Not ever going to have one of those blow up unless someone plants explosives at them, and even at a coal plant it's exceptionally rare.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 11:26:23 AM , Rating: 3
> "I would be okay with nuclear power.... but ONLY if we found a way to reuse the nuclear materials, moving them from reactor to reactor, until they were totally used up "

We "found that way" decades ago. It's called a breeder reactor. Combined with fuel reprocessing, it allows full burning of all long-lived radionuclides. The only nuclear waste are the so-called "dirty daughters", which primarily decay in about 6 months. And if those worry you, we can even burn them too, using a Rubbiatron-type reactor.

> "Solar and wind? Not ever going to have one of those blow up "

Actually, the Solar One plant caught fire and exploded in 1986, due to the superheated mineral oil it used as a heat concentrator. There have been a few other similar cases with solar plants. PV cells don't explode...but any concentrating or enery-storing solar facility is prone to such accidents.


RE: Best news of the year
By jmn2519 on 9/27/2007 11:11:56 AM , Rating: 4
Masher,

Does your KW/Hr cost include the red tape certifications, approvals and stuff like that? Also, does that figure include shut down and clean up costs? Assuming at some point in the future (50, 100 years) that plant will be closed and some form of clean up/remediation will need to be performed.

I'm a little familiar with the rocky flats debacle in colorado after growing up in the area. I know millions were spent cleaning up that mess though it may not apply to this situation. Rocky flats was producing weapons grade material and hopefully the containment processes have improved.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 11:20:56 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Does your KW/Hr cost include the red tape certifications, approvals and stuff like that?
No, and those can in some circumstances be a huge share of the costs.

In fact, that's a favored tactic of anti-nuclear activists. Wait till a reactor is nearing completion, then hit it with a few lawsuits to idle construction while the billion-dollar construction loan racks up interest. After a few years, the costs become outrageous, and they can then say "nuclear power isn't cost-effective".


RE: Best news of the year
By Christopher1 on 9/28/07, Rating: -1
RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 9:11:47 AM , Rating: 3
> "Name one instance where that happened? I can't think of one, and I don't think you can either."

Are you kidding? Delays due to environmental groups are the rule, not the exception. How about the Byron Nuclear Plant, delayed nearly 4 years because of a lawsuit? How about the Seabrook plant, where over 2,000 violent demonstrators took over the site in 1976, forcing the state governor to halt construction. How about the Vermont Yankee site, which had to take its battle all the way to the Supreme Court?

Even today, due to activism from the group Nuclear Free Vermont, the state government has recently voted to deny the reactor permission to operate past 2012. As the plant operator had to operate for at least another 20 years, what do you think that does to costs?

The reason you "can't think of any" is because no new nuclear power plant application has been approved in the past 30 years. Most of this is therefore decades old. Here's a link to one just a few months ago, though, when Greenpeace halted construction of a reactor in France:

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/press-releases/...


RE: Best news of the year
By Ringold on 9/27/2007 11:21:13 AM , Rating: 3
I'll let masher respond in full but the Browns Ferry unit 1 reactor, as reported by Bloomberg, will pay for its billions in start-up costs in just 5 years if that's any indication to you.

The lions share of costs are upfront cap-ex. After that they print money. After the debt used to finance them is paid off they transmute lead to gold. This is partly because energy costs tend to be the marginal cost of extra output, extra output which usually comes from gas-fired plants -- which are much more expensive to operate. Massive profit margins therefore exist. It also helps that uranium is cheap and possibly about to get cheaper as new mines are discovered and old ones reopened.

I'll also note that the idea of a wind-fall profits tax on nuclear plants in Europe has been kicked around more than once.. indirect evidence of extremely low KW/hr costs.


RE: Best news of the year
By airsickmoth on 9/27/2007 9:01:42 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah, just look at how Rich Monty Burns got from owning a nuclear power plant. Those things do print money.


RE: Best news of the year
By SandmanWN on 9/27/2007 11:27:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Nuclear power is by far the cheapest form of power generation. In 2006, it averaged 1.66 cents/Kw-hr

And even that number should go down as newer plants come online. The nearby Sequoyah Nuclear Plant run by the TVA generates electricity at 1.14 cents/Kw-hr and that thing was designed in 1968 and started production in 1980.


RE: Best news of the year
By arazok on 9/27/2007 11:32:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Glassifying and dropping it in the ocean would be even simpler.


Knowing nothing about this method I'm curious, if you gasified and then dumped this in the deep ocean, wouldn't the pressure crush the glass? Wouldn't it be the same as just dumping it over the bow of some ship?


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 11:35:18 AM , Rating: 2
Sea pressure only affects things containing compressible gases internally-- like human bodies and submarines with air inside. A solid chunk of metal or glass isn't going to be affected.


RE: Best news of the year
By HaZaRd2K6 on 9/27/2007 1:34:33 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously? That's pretty cool, didn't know that. I'm also curious about this "glassifying". Does it "shrink-wrap" the substance in glass or is it just encased in, say, a glass cylinder?

As for me, I've always believed nuclear energy is the way to go. It's safe, it's clean, it's cheap (upfront costs are large, but what isn't?) and it's pretty much the only source of energy that can generate huge amounts of power without spewing tons of gas into the atmosphere.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 1:43:01 PM , Rating: 3
> "Does it "shrink-wrap" the substance in glass or is it just encased in, say, a glass cylinder?"

Neither. The process (technically known as 'vitrification') converts the waste itself into a solid, glass form. The glass logs are then typically encased in steel before disposal.


RE: Best news of the year
By Oregonian2 on 9/27/2007 2:00:11 PM , Rating: 2
It's also a process that's been around 'forever'.


RE: Best news of the year
By kitchme on 9/27/2007 6:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
That sounds like what happened at Chernobyl. The fuel under heat and pressure combined with sand that was around the reactor and now it's a solid form (one of the shapes resembles elephant's foot). But, from what I read, the mass has been degrading faster than predicted. It's been awhile since I read about it though.


RE: Best news of the year
By bpurkapi on 9/27/2007 1:25:26 PM , Rating: 2
Once again we can look at Thomas Jefferson's brilliance of making the Louisiana Purchase; and subsequent acquisitions of land in the west which gave us the states of Wyoming and Nevada. If we can't dump it in the ocean there is always the whole state of Wyoming! It is the least populous state, and would most likely love the idea of making money from burying waste in its vast lands filled with nothing.


RE: Best news of the year
By Ringold on 9/27/2007 2:01:24 PM , Rating: 3
Not Nevada, though.

Harry Reid, Senator from Nevada (they should be ashamed), has made it his mission to abort the Yucca Mountain project in his state and to oppose all nuclear power. That was in one weeks edition of The Economist.

Next weeks edition included a blurb about solar-concentration style methods of solar power, indicating a cost of something like 16c KW/hr after a fantasy land period of improvement, and how Harry Reid is a big supporter of this technology -- a fully 10 times more expensive than nuclear.

I'm going OT, but another example of how the goal of the left is to destroy cheap energy.


RE: Best news of the year
By Ringold on 9/27/2007 2:06:46 PM , Rating: 2
Went back and checked, and my mistake:

Current solar concentration plants cost 17c kw/hr. Candide-style projections suggest it could, one day, drop "below" ten cents. Still likely, then, to stay around 10x more expensive.


RE: Best news of the year
By whickywhickyjim on 9/27/2007 6:44:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Current solar concentration plants cost 17c kw/hr. Candide-style projections suggest it could, one day, drop "below" ten cents. Still likely, then, to stay around 10x more expensive.


The one thing no one mentions about solar is that producing efficient solar panels is highly toxic and actually very harmful to the environment. These toxic panels just end up in landfills after their short useful life has expired. The problem would become massive if we covered most of the US in panels in order to generate like 1/2 or 1/3 of the amount of energy we now get from coal,gas and nuclear.


RE: Best news of the year
By Rovemelt on 9/28/2007 12:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
Solar panel technology is improving. Here is an article regarding how new processes will bring panels down to $1-$2/watt in the coming years:

http://www.industryweek.com/ReadArticle.aspx?Artic...

quote:
The process is a low waste process with less than 2% of the materials used in production needing to be recycled. It also makes better use of raw materials since the process converts solar energy into electricity more efficiently. Cadmium telluride solar panels require 100 times less semiconductor material than high-cost crystalline silicon panels.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 12:11:41 PM , Rating: 2
> "Here is an article regarding how new processes will bring panels down to $1-$2/watt"

$2/watt is $2000/kW. Multiply that solar's availability factor (~40% for a site like Phoenix, under 20% for a site like Seattle), and you get an average of about $6500/kW, excluding installation, inverter costs, and maintenance.

While that's far better than current panels, its still much worse than coal, gas, or nuclear. Plus, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that cadmium and tellurium are both rare metals, and cadmium is both highly toxic and carcinogenic. Large scale production of cadmium telluride panels is going to lead to large costs increases for both, and major environmental problems.


RE: Best news of the year
By Clienthes on 9/28/2007 3:13:51 PM , Rating: 2
That is only true if you are looking at the cost of solar as a primary energy source on a large scale. On a strictly domestic scale, a $2/watt panel ($2000/kW) really produces electricity for $2/(4hr a day of good sunlight x 365 days a year x 20 years) + miniman maintinance. For residential applications with a good battery system, it has great applications. It also has a tiny foot-print in such application, as you can just tack it to your roof.

The problem with solar, the only problem, is that it doesn't scale well. The required space become prohibitive, availability is terrible and there's no way to store large scale, and other production methods are far cheaper and just as safe. Solar will only ever be supplimentle on a large scale (though possible primary to an individual or family residence).

Nuclear is the only way to produce massive amounts of cheap, safe energy.


RE: Best news of the year
By number999 on 9/27/2007 1:45:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In 2006, it averaged 1.66 cents/Kw-hr, including plant amortization and waste disposal costs, cheaper than coal, and a tiny fraction of the 20-45 cents/Kw-hr that solar and coal typically run
This is not true. It does not include plant amortization and not cleanup costs. Looking deeper into the article and subject gives a clearer picture of the costs. According to the website below (which got the same info from the NEI, the same as your original article), the cost does not amortize the original capital costs. Coal runs extremly close to the production cost of nuclear as seen in the graph from the NEI. Also the low end of the total cost for solar in more in line with 16 cents/kWh. Lastly, the 1.66 cents is the cost of production which is the cost for the fuel, operations and maintenance only for the time period. In solar, labour is minimal, maintenance low and the fuel is free. The cost of production for solar therefore is probably much lower than nuclear. If you are going to compare costs, compare the same types of costs.

The waste of a LWR is about 0.9% U235 and 0.6% fissile PU. You can even lower this amount by using a PHWR like a CANDU. Using the DUPIC process, the fuel is mechanically processed into new fuel rods and directly used. What comes out is <0.2% U235 and <0.3% PU. You can get an extra 25% more power with little or no increase in the amount of radioactive waste and fewer proliferation concerns (since reprocessing doesn't change radioactive content) and since there is LWR waste all around the US it would be an intelligent use for that waste.

Articles:
Original costs article
http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/recordlowcosts/
Cost of nuclear power
http://www.uic.com.au/nip08.htm
DUPIC fuel cycle
http://www.nuclearfaq.ca/brat_fuel.htm


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 2:03:56 PM , Rating: 4
> "The cost of production for solar therefore is probably much lower than nuclear"

I can't let this stand, sorry. Solar costs aren't even in the same ballpark. According to the site below (which is a pro-solar advocate, and thus included to be highly optimistic), solar costs are 27.45 c/kWh for ideal sunny climates, and 60.4 c/kWh for cloudy climates. This is just amortized plant costs across system lifetime, and doesn't include maintenance or eventual plant disposal.

The costs are far, far higher than even the worst-case projections for nuclear or coal, and explains why utilities are not building large scale solar plants, despite the PR benefits they'd gain by doing so.

Furthermore, this doesn't factor in solar's primary weakness. Without a quantum leap in energy storage technology, solar power will never be feasible for anything but filling in a small amount of peak power production during daylight hours. When its dark or cloudy, solar doesn't work...and there's no practical way to store large amounts of electricity for use.

http://www.solarbuzz.com/SolarIndices.htm


RE: Best news of the year
By Hoser McMoose on 9/27/2007 2:20:01 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
> "The cost of production for solar therefore is probably much lower than nuclear"

I can't let this stand, sorry. Solar costs aren't even in the same ballpark.

Not to speak for the original poster or anything, but I think what he's getting at is that the 1.66 cent/kWh cost ONLY includes fuel costs and operating and maintenance costs. If you compare ONLY these costs than solar is quite "cheap". The fuel costs of solar are, quite obviously, 0. The maintenance and operation costs do exist, but they might well total out to less than 1.66 cent/kWh. Certainly stationary photovoltaics have very low maintenance costs, though they might not be the most cost-effective solution when full system costs are accounted for.

If nothing else though this example just goes to show that the 1.66 cent/kWh number posted by the Nuclear Energy Institute was fairly pointless when comparing the TRUE cost of different forms of power generation.


RE: Best news of the year
By number999 on 9/27/2007 3:10:28 PM , Rating: 1
Thanks, yes that is the point I was trying to make. Giving a rose coloured figure like that doesn't make sense. You are comparing two totally different prices.


RE: Best news of the year
By number999 on 9/27/2007 2:57:59 PM , Rating: 2
According to a Canadian gov't study for Ontario, it was given as 16 cents /kWh for the cells. Inverter and other equipement increased the costs.

DOE report describing the plans for solar power 2007-2011. For a 10MW plant in Phoenix, AZ, the LCOE is estimated at $0.15 to 0.22/kWh
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaics
Just because you pick a single site for the costs doesn't mean they hold up in the broad sense especially for a retail site. Nor does it take into account the actual cost of non-solar energy to the stakeholder during the peak hours.

The costs have decreased significantly in the last few years and considering the time it takes to create any mega project and get through the inertia of all the old style thinkers, it will take even longer. Sun Edison is working with companies to put solar installations on their roofs where they buy the electricity at set rates for long terms. Such entities pay only a fixed, often below-market, rate for the electricity generated from the solar system for a 10 to 20 year term. And yes they make a profit.
http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=900...

Nuclear plants work best in huge chunks of base power where the operational capacity is maximized. Peak power is way more problematic and it is doubtful that nuclear will ever have a role in this much more lucrative area given it's huge captial costs. Solar output matches peak demands better and is scalable. Solar power already has grid parity in Hawaii and Sicily. As production goes up, cost will decrease even further.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 3:49:15 PM , Rating: 2
> "For a 10MW plant in Phoenix, AZ, the LCOE is estimated at $0.15 to 0.22/kWh"

That Wikipedia entry isn't sourced and is tagged an unverified claim. But even so, lets assume its true. Phoenix is as close to an ideal site as you'll find in the US. And solar is still several times as expensive as nuclear power.

Anywhere else but Phoenix, costs are going to be higher. A cloudy site in a higher latitude is going to be roughly 2.5X higher.

What about generating the power in Phoenix and transporting it across the nation? Sorry won't work. A $100B upgrade to our power grid would make it possible...but it still would't make it feasible. Power line losses would be much too high. Even today, when most power is generated within 200 miles of where its consumed, line losses eat up 7-9% of all power generated. Transporting electricity across the entire nation would be about a 50% loss, meaning the costs double yet again.

> "And yes they make a profit."

Err, your link doesn't say any profit was made. It says a $60M donation was made, which enabled 3 plants powering a grand total of 135 homes. Not very impressive. If you subsidize anything heavily enough, it'll get done.


RE: Best news of the year
By number999 on 9/27/07, Rating: -1
RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 6:50:39 PM , Rating: 3
> "It is tagged and sourced....from the DOE-EERE."

Did you even read that link? The estimate is just a projection for a hypothetical site. No one has actually built one that operates so cheap.

The figures also don't include inverter costs, or maintenance/operating expenses. And, of course, it assumes Phoenix, an idealized location. From your own link, it says energy costs for a location such as NY would be 50% higher. For a cloudy area like Seattle -- higher still.

But still, lets use your own figures. From your link, the costs for dispatchable power (the most expensive sort) is around 6 c/kWh. This power is now typically generated by gas turbine. The non-dispatchable average (taken from a mix of coal/nuclear/hydro) is around 4 c/kWh.

Dispatchable (peak) power is just the tip of the iceberg...and even here, in an ideal location, solar can't compete. For the bulk of our power generation needs, solar isn't even in the running.

> "Peak demand can drive these prices up to 10 times that amount "

True. But that's only because demand is outstripping supply, and it doesn't in any way reflect the underlying costs.

If you're going to build additional capacity to prevent that from happening, its cheaper to do so via conventional means, rather than bringing solar into the mix.


RE: Best news of the year
By number999 on 9/27/2007 9:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
just a projection for a hypothetical site
What, they don't project costs for unbuilt nuclear plants to use when basing decisions? So is all the math just BS, or just the math that disagrees with your beliefs? Westinghouse's claims (price,reliability,cost of electricity,time to build,etc) for the AP600 and AP1000 are BS? There isn't an AP generation plant in existance. The math about safety probability bogus? You can't have it both ways. The math used to figure out costs from 4-5 billion dollar nuclear power plants is the same used by the DOE to figure out the costs here. You just don't like what it implies. The cost is 15-22 c/kWhr based on today's tech for an industrial production plant. Not future goals. Not what is scientifically feasible in the future. Today. Now.

Figures do include inverter costs and operating costs (pg 45), you just looked for stuff that applied only to your arguement. It's the unreferenced Canada/Ontario document I read that stated the exclusion of the inverter to the price of 16c/kWhr, which I did state already. The DOE document put solar trough systems in the 12-14 c/kWhr range(pg 3).

The DOE document does not talk about Seattle or New York, nor does the business week article. So where do you get the the right to talk to me about what I have referenced and spewing out figures that I have no idea where they came from.

quote:
...doesn't in any way reflect the underlying costs
No. It reflects on feasability, which you seem to want to make solar not feasible in any circumstance. Users have to pay the peak power price. Sun Edison will sell it to them from solar sources for a set price, long term, at that price or cheaper then the regular peak price. (sarcasm)That's really wrong of them. It's not feasable at all.(/sarcasm) The only way to lose is if the price of energy goes down. That's sure to happen any day now. What's the price of a barrel of oil?

It may be cheaper to produce from conventional sources(without carbon costs added) but it is not as desirable. Increased use of solar will drive solar prices down. Increased use of conventional power will just increase prices of fossil fuels as well as CO2 output. If you don't care about CO2, why even bother with nuclear at all. According to UIC article jan 2007, coal power is projected to be cheaper in the US by 2010 by about 0.3-1 cent/kWhr depending on the discount rate. And this is a pro nuclear industry site.
http://www.uic.com.au/nip08.htm

I never have said that the bulk of our power needs could be addressed using today's solar technology. Show me where I have said it. You're just assuming that since I support the tech, my head is up in the sky and I'm dreaming. I'm not. I don't support your proposition that it is a technological dead end, especially with wrong data being presented as a reason.

You still go around the point that you totally misrepresented the cost of solar energy by a fairly large margin. You even said in an " ideal situation " the cost was 27.45 c/kWhr. Well, if Pheonix does represent an ideal situation, then you were off by wide margin since the DOE puts that ideal situation at 15 c/kWhr and not your stated amount. Do you actually think people are more inclined to believe that your Solarbuzz site is more knowledgeable than the DOE?


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 10:30:42 PM , Rating: 2
> "What, they don't project costs for unbuilt nuclear plants to use when basing decisions? "

They do. But surely you realize that a projection is not as accurate as real-world figures from plants actually in operation.

> "Figures do include inverter costs and operating costs (pg 45)"

No. The initial inverter is included. Inverter replacement is specifically excluded, and maintenance/operating costs are nowhere on that chart.

> "The DOE document does not talk about Seattle or New York"

Yes it does. Right there on Page 1. Phoenix gets around 2300 kWh/m^2. The national average is 25% lower, at 1800 kWh/m^2. By the map, Seattle is just over 1000 kWh/m^2. That makes generated costs over twice as expensive.

> "Users have to pay the peak power price."

You're still missing the point. In a shortage condition, electric costs will rise sharply. That's a given. Even if they rise enough to make solar profitable, it still means all other sources are MORE profitable. Much more, in fact.

> "You still go around the point that you totally misrepresented the cost of solar energy "

Nonsense. I took figures from an actual site that promotes solar energy. Your figures are lower...but they're nothing but idealized "projections", that don't reflect reality.

And both yours and mine demonstrate that solar power isn't feasible today. It's far too expensive. That's the real point, which all your shucking and jiving can't hide.


RE: Best news of the year
By number999 on 9/28/2007 12:49:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
a projection is not as accurate as real-world figures from plants actually in operation
This is a stupid argumentive point. You can easily make all points into these types and get absolutely nowhere. Why would anyone spend billions of dollars on any nuclear powerplant if these figures had no basis? The only reason you desperately argue this is because you can't find a reasonable reason to dismiss where I got the price and this is a pathetic attempt to try to downplay it.

quote:
The initial inverter is included...
Wasn't it your arguement against the price the fact you couldn't/wouldn't look hard enough to actually find the cost of any inverter? Maintenance and operating costs are there. Again you overlooked the info. It is under M&O.

It doesn't state anything about actual production costs by location at all. It is a figure you derived from the map and guessing. A fact that I don't accept since it's not actually in the document. It does say though that it may be more cost effective in NY since electricity costs are more expensive in NY than the southwest.

quote:
still means all other sources are MORE profitable
My arguement was that of feasability. Just by being able to make a profit makes it feasable. If it was just by profit then just turn to coal. It's cheaper than nuclear as I linked to above in the UIC document and the US can BS for years about CO2 like it does now. But I'm sure you didn't read it just like you really didn't look into the DOE document. All technologies started out expensive and solar is just starting out.

quote:
...they're nothing but idealized "projections", that don't reflect reality
BS and you know it. By that token all technologies are projections. And nothing can be taken for granted or compared. Look at your hydrogen economy support. Its all BS then based on zip and "idealized projections" then. So are the figures for this reactor. Japanese construction costs and efficiencies will not translate into the same in the US market and you know that. It is after all an "idealized projection" of costs. Are you really trying to open that arguement up?

Are you really trying to compare data compiled by the DOE to that site and say that it's worse? Solarbuzz doesn't pass minimal academic standards for any solid data.

quote:
... demonstrate that solar power isn't feasible today
Real companies selling usable solar power at a profit. It's being done now. It's feasible. It can and does have a niche in the energy market, which it exploits. Contrary to your biased opinions.

There is a substantial difference in saying solar costs are 15 c/kWhr and 27 c/kWhr and you bloody well know it.

I've had it. You're too full of yourself and surety that you're right. You've missed items in the documentation that stared you right in the face over and over again and demonstrated your bias by resorting to a pathetic attempt to define the calculated costs as mere projections. A most pathetic last ditch attempt to disprove figures from the DOE and include figures from a dubious source instead. Where is the source material for them? What are their standards? How did they calculate the price? This is better than the DOE info? Very irrational.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 1:17:57 AM , Rating: 2
> "There is a substantial difference in saying solar costs are 15 c/kWhr and 27 c/kWhr and you bloody well know it"

But even your own figures don't claim 15 cents. They claim "15-22 cents" for the most ideal site in the nation, with an average cost 25% higher.

> "By that token all technologies are projections"

Now you're just being silly. Actual operating costs from physical plants are hard data. An idealized projection may be correct or off target, but hard data is always accurate.

> "All technologies started out expensive and solar is just starting out."

On the contrary, we've had PV solar cells since the 1940s. Furthermore, your quoted solar costs are based on the very latest technology. Nuclear plant operating costs are, however, based on 1960s-era designs. Hardly a fair comparison...but even still, nuclear wins by a huge margin. Were we to build new, more efficient reactors, costs would drop dramatically.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 1:33:53 AM , Rating: 4
Just as a baseline calculation for you, this new plant mentioned in the article has a capacity of 2700 MW. Over a conservative 50-year lifespan, it'll therefore generate some 1200 billion kWh of electricity. Construction costs somewhere below $9B...but lets assume 9. That works out to an amortized cost of 3/4c per kWh produced. Less than 1 cent.

Now add 2.5 c/kWh for fuel,O&M, disposal, and decomission costs. Of course, that figure is based on 60s-era reactors. This new plant is expected to be much cheaper. Still, this very pessimistic assumption gives us a cost of 3.25 cents/kWh...for a plant that can generate power 24 hours/day, filling both peak AND non-peak electricity needs.

And you seriously want to compare this with a technology that can only fill peak power needs, and, even in the best of circumstances, costs 5-6 times as much?

I won't even get into how much of the nation would need to be carpeted by solar cells before we could generate even a fraction of our energy needs...or the environmental cost of building those tens of millions of acres of panels, continually cleaning them, then replacing them every 30 years. Solar loses from a cost perspective, flat out. You don't even need to look further.

If solar technology continues to improve, then soon it will fill a limited role in some cases. But unless we create some magical new energy-storage device, solar will never fill the bulk of our electricity needs.


RE: Best news of the year
By number999 on 9/28/2007 10:47:49 PM , Rating: 2
Math Masher style. Figures out of thin air. I like multi-billion dollar 30 second calculations. It's worth about the thought put behind them.

In 2003, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) issued a report entitled, "The Future of Nuclear Power". They estimated that new nuclear power in the US would cost 6.7 cents per kWh.
http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/29/2007 12:39:41 AM , Rating: 2
> "Math Masher style. Figures out of thin air. "

Out of thin air? Of course not. The values for plant capacity and cost is from the source link to this article, and the 2.5c M&0, fuel, and decom cost value is from the NEI link in the thread.

You have a rather odd definition of "thin air".

> "They estimated that new nuclear power in the US would cost 6.7 cents per kWh"

From your own link, chart on Chap. 1, pg. 7, the costs are 6.7 c/kWh for an existing industry average, circa 2002. Not for new plants, starting construction in 2007.

The industry average is based on plants built in the 1960s and 1970s. Shall we look at the costs of solar power from 1970s technology? The era of $200,000/kW cells that degraded in just a few years time?


RE: Best news of the year
By number999 on 9/28/2007 10:41:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
your own figures don't claim 15 cents. They claim "15-22 cents" for...
You claimed the best idealized price of 27.45 cents which was part of a range. In the 15-22 cent range the best price is what?...22 cents? Of course the ideal price is 15 cents. It's the same criterea. The point is your biased reporting of the best figure which was significantly wrong and which you still are trying to weasle out of saying.

quote:
...being silly. Actual operating costs from physical plants are hard data

And they don't match up with anything said from the companies with this hard data.

In 2006, Business Week magazine stated, "...,the [US] industry is aiming to build new plants for $1,500 to $2,000 per kilowatt of capacity,...". However, they also added, "Trouble is, the cheapest plants built recently, all outside the U.S., have cost more than $2,000 per kilowatt."
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_28...

They are estimations based on best practices in engineering and accounting and given the complexity are all guesses and are inherintly going to be off. At best, the only thing to do is standardize the estimation so that realistic comparisons can be made. As for the hard data based on today's plants. Not all the plants operate at the same efficiencies. Not even when the plants are identicle. And when was the last plant built in the US. Over 10 years ago? How well do you think the knowledge survived? The EPR in Norway is over 2 years late and 25% over budget and they have far more recent experience with nuke building than the US.

And this is why you can't use that BS arguement of it's a hypothetical projection. Because it's inherintly not objective. It becomes a value judgement to what is hypothetical and what constitutes the practices that make up the numbers. Do you actually trying to compare the practices used to figure out the cost between the DOE and Solarbuzz. That's a joke.

As for hard data on PV, in 2006, Europe, Japan and the US installed 1.3-1.4 GWp. Cumulatively to 5.6 GWp. That real experience enough for you? And yes thats gigawatts.

quote:
PV solar cells since the 1940s
I'm talking about modern solar energy and you freaking know it. What, are you saying battery tech is now in it's highest form today because Volta made the first battery in 1799?

quote:
your quoted solar costs are based on the very latest technology
Nowhere did I say to build solar instead of nuclear. Nor did I try to compare base load price/cost advantages to solar's peak advantages. They are two totally separate areas in the electricity market. So stop posturing. Also, it's not the latest solar tech. It's based on the the solar tech available for PV being manufactured now. Not laboratory thin film stuff or anything like that.

quote:
even still, nuclear wins by a huge margin. Were we to build new, more efficient reactors, costs would drop dramatically

Right...
In 2003, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) issued a report entitled, "The Future of Nuclear Power". They estimated that new nuclear power in the US would cost 6.7 cents per kWh

In 2006, Business Week magazine stated, "...,the [US] industry is aiming to build new plants for $1,500 to $2,000 per kilowatt of capacity,...". However, they also added, "Trouble is, the cheapest plants built recently, all outside the U.S., have cost more than $2,000 per kilowatt."

Nothing like unwavering dogmatic approach to science. I support nuclear too but you turn me right off. I'm in the weird position of showing examples of nuclear weakness which I don't want to do. I support it because I think it can overcome it's weaknesses like I think solar can but you... it's fanatical belief like this that is dangerous especially to real dialogue.

You keep putting out these statements opportunistically to sell your views as facts. It's irritating and not objective but then you never were.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/29/2007 12:53:39 AM , Rating: 2
> " The point is your biased reporting of the best figure which was significantly wrong "

It's not "my reporting". My figures came direct from the website of a large solar consulting firm, one with direct experience in setting up numerous PV systems. Your figures came from projections made by the DOE.

Which figures are the more accurate? The point you're missing is that it's irrelevant, because not only is there not much difference between them (once you adjust your ideal values for Phoenix by the average US solar insolation level), but that both values are far too expensive to be economically viable.

27 c/kWh isn't economic. 22 cents isn't either. This new nuclear plant in TX will be generating electricity for less than 4 cents/kWh. Switching from that to solar means the difference between a $200 power bill and a $1000 bill. What makes more sense?


RE: Best news of the year
By Rovemelt on 9/29/2007 9:27:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Nothing like unwavering dogmatic approach to science. I support nuclear too but you turn me right off. I'm in the weird position of showing examples of nuclear weakness which I don't want to do. I support it because I think it can overcome it's weaknesses like I think solar can but you... it's fanatical belief like this that is dangerous especially to real dialogue.


Well said number999.

Here's a link to an article titled:

Cheap solar power poised to undercut oil and gas by half

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/m...

It's no doubt an optimistic outlook regarding cost reduction, but you can search online and see that there are companies out there dedicated to the production of thin-film modules. Eventually, those thin films will be produced much more efficiently and at a lower cost, making solar more attractive.


RE: Best news of the year
By Rovemelt on 9/28/2007 12:12:41 PM , Rating: 2
Solar panel technology is improving in every aspect. Panel prices should drop to around $1-$2/watt in just a few years:

http://www.industryweek.com/ReadArticle.aspx?Artic...

Solar also has the benefit in that panels can be spread around on rooftops, essentially distributing power production without the need to build a power plant. When a 2kwatt system can be put on my roof for ~$4k, I'd install one as it would essentially pay for itself within 5 years (based on what I pay for electricity.)


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 12:20:14 PM , Rating: 2
> "When a 2kwatt system can be put on my roof for ~$4k, ...it [would] pay for itself within 5 years "

You've forgotten the availability factor. A 2Kw system only provides that peak power for a brief period around noon. The average power output is much lower...close to 40% for a site like Phoenix, below 20% for a site like Seattle.

You've also forgotten than panel costs don't include inverters, installation, maintenance/cleaning, or a few other factors. A "2Kw system" in which the panels cost $4,000 will have a full system installed cost of somewhere in the range of $8-$12K, and provide you an average power output of around 600 watts.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 12:23:07 PM , Rating: 2
Edit: installed cost: $7-8K.


RE: Best news of the year
By Rovemelt on 9/29/2007 8:50:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You've also forgotten than panel costs don't include inverters, installation, maintenance/cleaning, or a few other factors. A "2Kw system" in which the panels cost $4,000 will have a full system installed cost of somewhere in the range of $8-$12K, and provide you an average power output of around 600 watts.


A two kilowatt system would work for me as I don't use that much power, and simple lead acid batteries can be used to store unused power. The output also depends on the panel type. Inverters often in around $2k or less and I would do the installation myself.

http://www.solar4me.com/Store/cart.php?m=product_l...

Maintenance of a static panel on a roof doesn't seem to be that much of a challenge.

Most of the electricity rate quotes being thrown around on the blog here don't include delivery and other fees, which can double the actual cost of electricity. This is why a panel system would work pretty well for me, and certainly if they came down to $1/watt for panels.


RE: Best news of the year
By masher2 (blog) on 9/29/2007 12:20:35 PM , Rating: 2
> "A two kilowatt system would work for me as I don't use that much power..."

Such a system would output around 600 watts -- enough to run a computer, monitor, and a couple light bulbs (assuming you don't have an high-performance PC). You won't run a blowdryer, vacuum cleaner, washer/dryer or an A/C system on 600 watts.

> "...and simple lead acid batteries can be used to store unused power"

Again, if you want a system that will power your home all night, you'll need a large array of batteries. The safety factor alone of charging and storing such arrays in individual homes is very high, not to mention the cost of replacing the batteries every few years.


RE: Best news of the year
By rbuszka on 9/28/2007 6:39:12 AM , Rating: 2
This is not the best place to argue these points, since the format limits each side of the argument to delivering 'sound bites.'


RE: Best news of the year
By Hoser McMoose on 9/27/2007 1:55:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In 2006, it averaged 1.66 cents/Kw-hr, including plant amortization and waste disposal costs

The 1.66 cents/kWh does NOT count amortization costs. The original news release with this figure is available at the following link:

http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/recordlowcosts/

Of importance is the following two lines:
quote:
The industry’s average production costs—encompassing expenses for uranium fuel and operations and maintenance—were an all-time low of 1.66 cents/kwh in 2006

quote:
Even when expenses for taxes, decommissioning and yearly capital additions are added to production costs to yield a total electricity cost, nuclear-generated electricity typically clears the market for less than 2.5 cents/kwh

Even that second figure of 2.5 cents/kWh does not seem to be counting amortization costs.

Once you add all the costs of nuclear together is still pretty darn cheap though. Definitely cheaper than natural gas, wind or solar and even all but the best hydro-electric. However it is not as cheap as coal.

Of course, unlikely nuclear plants, coal plants do not pay for their own waste. Instead that waste is paid for by hidden subsidized by the government, companies and individuals in the form of added health care costs, reductions in agricultural output and even just plain old fashion cleaning of buildings and windows. The health care costs of coal along and WELL into the billions of dollars per year. Ontario did some estimates a while back and found that our coal plants were costing $2B/year in health care costs, and that's for an area with only 11M people and 20-25% of all electricity from coal (vs. ~50% for the US) at the time. Based off that it's safe to say that the hidden health care subsidy for coal power plants amounts to at least $50B/year in the US, and possibly as much as $160B/year (that is the estimate cost from a report by the "Earth Policy Institute").

That works out to a subsidy of 2.5 to 8 cents/kWh for the health care bill of coal waste alone (based on an estimate of 2,000 TWh worth of coal power produced per year). Once you add that cost in suddenly coal is not only more expensive than nuclear, it's actually more in line with the costs of hydro, natural gas and wind power.


RE: Best news of the year
By 3kliksphilip on 9/27/2007 3:10:41 PM , Rating: 2
Remember the costs when shutting down a plant again. And dealing with all that waste for years to come.


RE: Best news of the year
By Hoser McMoose on 9/28/2007 4:23:18 PM , Rating: 2
Nuclear power is about the only source of electricity that actually DOES cover the cost of dealing with it's waste for years to come. Most others just pump that waste into our air or water and ignore it.

Fact is, even with the most stringent restrictions of any industry on the plant (WAY out of proportion of actual danger when compared to, for example, the chemical manufacturing industry), even with being the only power generating industry that actual deals with it's waste disposal costs and even after paying to cover ridiculous and totally pointless lawsuits, Nuclear power is STILL one of the cheapest sources of power on the plant.

The only one that is cheaper is coal, which kills more people in world one month than nuclear power has killed in it's 50+ year history.


RE: Best news of the year
By Rovemelt on 9/28/2007 11:43:04 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the blog mick.

Some people seem to forget that by burning coal, we also put radioactive elements into the atmosphere. So our other methods of generating electricity aren't free from radioactive waste.

I'm confident that some day we will have optimized the nuclear waste issue so that it's not such a concern. Certainly, in my view, I prefer nuclear power over burning coal for electricity. Just seems like a better solution at this particular point in history.


RE: Best news of the year
By sxr7171 on 9/29/2007 5:52:39 PM , Rating: 2
No way that coal power costs $0.20-0.45 a KWH. It's more like 2-3 cents a KWH. Can you imagine what our power bills would be like if coal generated electricity was what you say it is?

http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:AenMo4eueXcJ:...

With solar, you are probably right. You can't clump solar and coal together for cost per KWH, coal plants supply the grid's baseline power and contribute a large majority of the power on the grid.


Bring on the power baby
By FITCamaro on 9/27/2007 10:13:45 AM , Rating: 5
Good sweet nuclear power. Pollution free energy for years. And fuel can be reprocessed for years if the government allows it.

Yes there is nuclear waste to deal with but reprocessing can help with that since the waste becomes the part of the fuel. If we'd just invest in it we can come up with places to put it or ways to get rid of it. Why not throw it into one of those plasma reactors that produces energy by breaking things down? Assuming it won't explode.




RE: Bring on the power baby
By ussfletcher on 9/27/2007 11:16:39 AM , Rating: 3
The government can also use it for ammunition.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By Ringold on 9/27/2007 11:35:19 AM , Rating: 3
As I understand it we no longer allow reprocessing of spent fuel here meaning no new plutonium for nuclear weapons -- unless the ban is on civilian reprocessing. Not sure.

At any rate, nukes are fine in the hands of rational players as they would never see use. They were used twice in quick succession to demonstrate their power.. and unless a terrorist or unstable despot gets their hands on one they'll likely never be used again.

On the other hand, the same kind of refined plutonium is useful in space probes as a power source.

I wouldn't worry.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By Zoomer on 9/27/2007 12:03:00 PM , Rating: 1
A thermonuclear bomb was never used in war. Only two crappy crude atomic bombs were used.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By Comdrpopnfresh on 9/27/2007 7:26:09 PM , Rating: 2
plutonium does not = thermonuclear. Plutonium has a smaller critical mass than uranium, which means less would be needed- thus your proliferation risk. It also means it helped make fat man a more compact bomb than little boy and more efficient too. It also means that if used in a reactor, it could breed fuel, and be more efficient too.
Thermonuclear bombs use a Li-H compound to release hydrogen which fuses after an initial fission reaction. The fusion results in a larger fission reaction creating megaton power weapons. No 100% fusion weapon exists that is not confidential


RE: Bring on the power baby
By smitty3268 on 9/27/2007 12:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, there was quite a bit of talk recently about creating new "mininukes" that we could use as bunkerbusters if we wanted to go after underground facilities in Iran or North Korea, so never say never. It does seem unlikely we would ever use them on a civilian population again.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By Misty Dingos on 9/27/2007 1:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
Do you mean depleted uranium? The military is trying to cut back on the use of DU in weapons. But finding suitable replacements is difficult. The upshot is that the military European and US are not going to give up their DU projectiles until they have a cost effective replacement.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 9/27/2007 2:38:24 PM , Rating: 2
Armor plating on tanks.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By Comdrpopnfresh on 9/27/2007 7:29:26 PM , Rating: 2
very effective, but too heavy.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By Hoser McMoose on 9/27/2007 1:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why not throw it into one of those plasma reactors that produces energy by breaking things down? Assuming it won't explode.

We don't even need anything that fancy. The waste from this Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (and nearly all other reactors used in the United States) only needs to be physically repackaged into CANDU or CANFLEX bundles where it can then be re-used in CANDU reactors.

The "waste" fuel from boiling water reactors usually still contains at least as much fissile material as natural uranium. This is not enough to sustain a chain reaction in these reactors as they require enriched uranium, however it IS enough for a CANDU-style reactor, or any other reactor designed to use natural uranium as a fuel source.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By FITCamaro on 9/27/2007 1:25:35 PM , Rating: 3
There you go.

People have been complaining about not having cheap, reliable, stably priced power for years yet we've had the ability all along. Anti-nuclear critics have just paralyzed the American public in fear so its never gone anywhere. And whats funny is that these are sometimes the same people who are against the oil companies yet they enable them to keep us reliant on them.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By number999 on 9/27/2007 2:08:52 PM , Rating: 2
The critics also have very plausible economic reasons. In the 60's and 70's, the construction costs of nuclear plants went up especially with the delays common to mega projects. Meeting regulations (sometime changing ones)delayed projects. No standardized plants. Costs skyrocketed. Nuclear plants had crappy operational records. In an era when coal was only so-so environmentally regulated, nuclear was not the cheap option, especially since traditional energy typically externalizes environmental costs.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By Christopher1 on 9/28/2007 2:40:09 AM , Rating: 2
HAD crappy operational records? You must not have read the Popular Mechanics magazine 3 or 4 years ago. They STILL have crappy operational records and were getting tipoffs as to when government raids (which were supposed to be secret) were happening, so that they would appear to pass.

When the raids were done as they were supposed to be, with almost no forewarning...... almost every nuclear plant FAILED those tests of anti-terrorist preparation.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 9:24:51 AM , Rating: 2
Nonsense. In 1980, nuclear power plants were operating at a 55% availability factor. In 2004, they broke 90% -- the highest number of any source.

With 100+ plants operating in the US for a cumulative total of 20,000+ reactor-years and tens of trillions of kilowatt-hours. All without a single death from commercial power generation. No other power source can say that-- not even solar or wind.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By number999 on 9/28/2007 9:12:39 PM , Rating: 2
And where did you get figures for the death of people from solar or wind? Or is it just posturing? As for the nuclear deaths. What no accidents at all? I doubt that. There had to be some non-nuclear related deaths on site just like any other industrial situation. I know of at least 2 japanese killed in such. As for solar, what? They got skin cancer or did they fall off a tower? The second paragraph is just posturing and you know it.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 9:55:35 PM , Rating: 1
> "There had to be some non-nuclear related deaths on site just like any other industrial situation"

None. Not in the US.

> "As for solar, what? They got skin cancer or did they fall off a tower?"

Have you never seen a concentrating solar power station? They focus sunlight onto superheated oil, molten salts, or some other carrier medium, forcing it to extremely high temperatures. One such station (Solar One) has already suffered an explosion and fire.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By B on 9/27/2007 2:52:28 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to see one of these built in Canada, specifically dedicated to refining the tar sands. That way we could stop wasting the valuble natural gas used to heat and convert this fuel into crude, as the natural gas could be put to better use for everything from fertilizer to plastics.

Oh yeah, and it could drastically reduce CO2 emissions from that operation.


RE: Bring on the power baby
By number999 on 9/27/2007 3:37:33 PM , Rating: 2
From a study I read on the feasibility of using a CANDU reactor for tar sands extraction, it would take about 50 CANDU3-4 reactors to completly displace the CO2 associated in oil sands production of 5 million barrels a day. The target which the US wants Canada to reach. Today, production is about a million barrels/day. Given each reactor would cost 3 billion, it's a bit much. Each reactor would displace about 1-2 million tonnes/year of CO2 production.

Energy Alberta put in a site application for a twin ACR-1000 unit in Peace River, the second largest of the commercial oil sand desposits. Cost 6.5 billion.

Support documentation of CANDU for oilsands
http://www.computare.org/Support%20documents/Publi...

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/08/energy-alb...


Great Article
By TomZ on 9/27/2007 10:33:16 AM , Rating: 3
Nice article, Jason! Interesting and well written.




RE: Great Article
By JasonMick (blog) on 9/27/2007 10:51:03 AM , Rating: 3
Thanks Tom!

Believe it or not, I am a firm advocate of nuclear energy when the proper safety precautions are taken. It is somewhat akin to airplane design. Design well and you have something great. Design poorly and you have a man-made disaster.

Whats really cool is that this isn't even the newest gen. of reactors. Gen. IV reactors, when and if they come to the U.S. should bring about some big improvements, from what I understand.

Solar Energy is getting profitable, but for much of the country that is not as sunny as CA, nuclear power is definitely a smart idea, until some day in the distance future when fusion is perfected.


RE: Great Article
By Ringold on 9/27/2007 11:13:02 AM , Rating: 2
That NRG went with an older design makes me wonder; did they make a brilliant move or were they overly cautious?

GE insisted that their latest design, which I think you noted, would be cheaper to build, cheaper to maintain and provide more power. NRG didn't trust that GE could successfully have it built with contractors on time and on budget and thus went with an older design and contractors with a long history of completing the reactor successfully internationally.

When the first ESBWR or AP-1000s get built in the US we'll see if NRG made a wise move with a reliable design or gave up a little efficiency. Might've really been prudent since they're the first ones to give a nuclear reactor a try.


RE: Great Article
By CheesePoofs on 9/27/2007 11:14:38 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with Tom... that was a very interesting article!

Personally, I can't wait until we start using fast neutron reactors. From what I've read, they'll essentially be able to use current nuclear waste as fuel and run hot enough that we could generate hydrogen at the same time as producing electricity.


RE: Great Article
By FITCamaro on 9/27/2007 1:20:58 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting....I'll have to ask my friend at Washington Group about those. He gets to go to the Savanna River facility from time to time.

He's also mentioned ones that'll run on weapons grade material to essentially use our nukes as fuel rods for energy.

Reliable, cheap, stable energy from mankind's most destructive weapons. Yet hippies are against it.


RE: Great Article
By FastLaneTX on 9/27/2007 1:37:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
From what I've read, they'll essentially be able to use current nuclear waste as fuel

Is that any different from the breeder reactors we already have but aren't allowed to use? This "waste" thing is ridiculous because we could just keep reprocessing the fuel in breeders until it's harmless. It's only fear of people using breeders to make weapons that has kept them down -- which has managed to overcome the fear of not using the "waste".


RE: Great Article
By number999 on 9/27/2007 3:59:27 PM , Rating: 2
Reprocessing is very expensive. According to a Princeton study the minimum price was in the $140's not today's figures. So why build a breeder that would produce fuel that is too expensive given today's low prices?


RE: Great Article
By Comdrpopnfresh on 9/27/2007 7:39:09 PM , Rating: 2
I took a nuclear seminar at the nuc reactor at PSU (oldest publicly running one I believe....). We were told by a guest lecturer that there used to be a firm that reprocessed the waste back into fuel quite cheaply, but the government did something with regulatory fees or whatnot and killed it...


RE: Great Article
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 7:53:02 PM , Rating: 2
> "but the government did something with regulatory fees or whatnot and killed it... "

Carter banned commercial fuel reprocessing in 1977, halting all the programs then in operation or development.

Reagan lifted the ban, but Bush Sr. and Clinton both took a serious of steps designed to discourage reprocessing, which included closing the DOE's only reprocessing facility.


RE: Great Article
By number999 on 9/27/2007 9:20:53 PM , Rating: 2
The US reprocessing facility, I believe closed before the Carter moratorium on reprocessing due to costs. England, France, Germany (stopped in 2005), and now Japan reprocess nuclear fuel rods. Japan's facility, had huge costs. South Korea was experimenting with the DUPIC process where spent LWR rods are physically reprocessed into fuel rods for their CANDU reactor. Results have been positive. It keeps the level of waste approximately the same while providing power and reducing the amount of U235 and fissionable Pu.


RE: Great Article
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 10:33:18 PM , Rating: 2
> "The US reprocessing facility, I believe closed before the Carter moratorium on reprocessing due to costs"

Oops. It actually closed in 1992.


RE: Great Article
By number999 on 9/28/2007 9:15:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Oops. It actually closed in 1992.
Oops yourself. First you talk about a Carter moratorium in 1977 and then you're saying 1992? Right, get your own facts right before you try to correct mine.

The only commercial reprocessing was done at West Valley NY on a limited scale. They closed the facility in 1972.


RE: Great Article
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 9:34:57 PM , Rating: 2
> "Oops yourself. First you talk about a Carter moratorium in 1977 and then you're saying 1992? Right, get your own facts right before you try to correct mine."

My facts are correct. Carter issued a ban on commercial fuel reprocessing (weapons-based reprocessing was still allowed) in 1977. In 1992, The DOE's Hanford PUREX reprocessing facility was closed.

> "The only commercial reprocessing was done at West Valley NY on a limited scale. They closed the facility in 1972. "

The facility was forced to close due to changes in regulatory requirements the plant could not meet.

There were several other facilities under construction or planned as well, but all were killed by government action. The Allied-General plant at Barnwell, SC was killed by Carter directly. Exxon applied for license to build a reprocessing facility in 1976; the request was denied. And GE's Morris facility never received an operating license to reprocess, and eventually became just a nuclear waste storage site.


released almost no nuclear materials?!
By panhead20 on 9/27/2007 1:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
6.8 magnitude earthquake struck one of the Japan's ABWR plants, ... The natural disaster caused limited damage, and released almost no nuclear materials,


This sounds troubling to me. Until the waste can be disposed of properly and the sites built so NO nuclear material is released, this technology is a threat to future generations.




RE: released almost no nuclear materials?!
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 1:27:29 PM , Rating: 3
The waste *can* be disposed of properly, and reactors *are* built so the chance of serious accidents is negligible.

Is the possibility zero? Of course not. Everything in life is dangerous to some degree, especially if you're willing to suppose billion-to-one odds.

The point is that nuclear reactor is cleaner and safer than competing technologies. Coal is killing tens of thousands of people per year with its emissions, and even windpower is likely to kill more people than nuclear (do you think tens of millions of tall towers containing fast-moving rotating metal blades aren't dangerous?)


RE: released almost no nuclear materials?!
By FITCamaro on 9/27/2007 1:33:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
do you think tens of millions of tall towers containing fast-moving rotating metal blades aren't dangerous?


They're only dangerous to people attracted to shiny metal objects.

They'd be an excellent way for natural selection to take its course. :)


By Bioniccrackmonk on 9/27/2007 3:03:11 PM , Rating: 2
Too funny. Nature vs nurture, nature alwasy wins.


RE: released almost no nuclear materials?!
By nofranchise on 9/27/2007 2:15:21 PM , Rating: 2
I sincerely doubt the danger involved in wind mills. They might be dangerous in earthquake situations, but so are other tall structures. In Europe most wind power plants are being built on water where the "danger" is minimal. Same goes for wave generators.

I agree that the dangers of nuclear power have been completely exagerated, but to say that renewable energy sources are MORE dangerous is a stretch - even for you masher.

If you believe this to be true, I for one would like to see some numbers... How many were killed directly or indeirectly by Chernobyl? It wasn't peanuts - unless you actually believe the Soviet tally.

Either way - a windmill could potentially kill a maximum of maybe 30 schoolchildren if one hit a schoolbus. A nuclear meltdown however unlikely - could potentially kill thousands.


By Keeir on 9/27/2007 3:01:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I sincerely doubt the danger involved in wind mills. They might be dangerous in earthquake situations, but so are other tall structures. In Europe most wind power plants are being built on water where the "danger" is minimal. Same goes for wave generators.


The most likey senario for any deaths due to power generation is either in the fuel acquistion or in maintaince.

Wind Power requires maintainces workers to often be put in poor conditions. Same is true for Hydro-electric. Nuclear would be very dangerous as well, but the massive requirements for safety make nuclear plants one of the most safe maintaince situations (Again, this is based on currect practices not IDEAL for each situation)

quote:
If you believe this to be true, I for one would like to see some numbers... How many were killed directly or indeirectly by Chernobyl? It wasn't peanuts - unless you actually believe the Soviet tally.


A post above provides some numbers of current rate of deaths directly attributable to Nuclear and Wind Power

quote:
Either way - a windmill could potentially kill a maximum of maybe 30 schoolchildren if one hit a schoolbus. A nuclear meltdown however unlikely - could potentially kill thousands.


Thats true, but the possibility for a nuclear meltdown is extremely small. Following the already establish guidelines makes this even smaller. Sure thousands could die from a nuclear disaster. However, thousands (every year world-wide) DO die from our current power generation techniques. Considering the wide gap in health affecting pollution between coal and nuclear, the US alone loses thousands of productive man-years every year due to coal emissions.


RE: released almost no nuclear materials?!
By jskirwin on 9/27/2007 3:48:57 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
How many were killed directly or indeirectly by Chernobyl?


According to the IAEA and WHO, Chernobyl directly killed 47 workers and 9 children by causing thyroid cancer. These same authorities also estimate an additional 4,000 deaths attributable to the disaster.

It's interesting to note that these deaths could have been prevented had the Soviet government issued potassium iodide pills immediately after the accident. However the Soviets were too busy engaging in a collective CYA exercise instead of admitting their mistake.

I'm no fan of either the IAEA or World Health Organization - but I doubt they would be low-balling us with these figures.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster

56 directly killed and 4000 most likely killed is still a serious accident, but keep in mind that China lost nearly 5,000 people to coal mining disasters. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_accident#Chine...

When you add in the 400,000 estimated to have died prematurely from the air pollution in China last year, you'll begin to see the frustration felt by those of us who support nuclear power because it is "greener" and safer than other forms of energy generation.


By Hoser McMoose on 9/28/2007 5:23:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
56 directly killed and 4000 most likely killed is still a serious accident, but keep in mind that China lost nearly 5,000 people to coal mining disasters.

Don't forget the 26,000 - 200,000 that China lost in a hydro-electric dam failure:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam

Simple fact of the matter, power generation has dangers. These dangers can be mitigated by smart engineering and tight regulation, as well have seen with nuclear power plants and hydro-electric dams in North America and most of Europe. However without such engineering and regulation you're going to end up with cases like Chernobyl and the Banqiao Dam.


RE: released almost no nuclear materials?!
By masher2 (blog) on 9/27/2007 3:55:43 PM , Rating: 2
> "I sincerely doubt the danger involved in wind mills. They might be dangerous in earthquake situations, but so are other tall structures."

Yes. That's exactly the point. Windpower requires tens of millions of tall structures to be built. Tall structures full of heavy, rapidly moving parts. Then to be serviced and maintained.

The risk factor for a single nuclear plant is higher than that of a single windmill. But that single reactor can generate more than 1000MW of power, day in, day out...whether or not the wind is blowing. A windmill generates a tiny fraction as much power...and it does so with between a 20%-50% availability rate, depending on site.

That's why windpower is more dangerous. Each site is relatively safe. But when you need tens of millions of them, the total number of casualties from windpower are expected to be considerably higher.


RE: released almost no nuclear materials?!
By nofranchise on 9/27/2007 7:42:47 PM , Rating: 2
Maintenance is a given - and you are right about the sheer amount of windmills generating accidents. But at least there isn't any accidents in mining the fuel.

I wasn't actually trying to say that nuclear powerplants generated massive amounts of accidents, just that I found it unlikely that it was on any large scale.

In Denmark we have a very large amount of windmills, and being a reporter I know when accidents happen - which is extemely rare. It's not like the blades fly off the things regularly - and the maintenance guys arent crawling around on the outside repairing them.

No matter what I guess we can all agree that coal is by far the mass producer of victims, in aquiring fuel, maintenance and emissions.


By nofranchise on 9/27/2007 7:47:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I wasn't actually trying to say that nuclear powerplants generated massive amounts of accidents, just that I found it unlikely that it was on any large scale.


Darn this no editing.. it was supposed to say : I found it unlikely that windmill accidents occurred on any large scale.

Sorry bout that


By Hoser McMoose on 9/28/2007 5:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but to say that renewable energy sources are MORE dangerous is a stretch - even for you masher.

It might seem like a stretch, but it's totally accurate. On a per-kWh basis, wind power has thus far proved to be twice as dangerous as nuclear power.
quote:
How many were killed directly or indeirectly by Chernobyl?

According to a very large and wide-ranging UN report, 4,000.
quote:
Either way - a windmill could potentially kill a maximum of maybe 30 schoolchildren if one hit a schoolbus. A nuclear meltdown however unlikely - could potentially kill thousands.

One nuclear reactor produces anywhere from about 500MW to 1500MW at 90% capacity factor. The biggest and best windmills in the world produce about 2MW at 35% capacity factor (windmills this size are typically only used offshore as they are REALLY stinking big, most on-shore ones are only 1MW or less). So it takes 1285 windmills to replace a SINGLE typical nuclear reactor. And note that this is JUST a reactor. Most nuclear power plants have at least two reactors and plants with 4 or 8 reactors are probably the norm.

One windmill might not be able to cause that many problems, but the many thousands that are required to replace just a single nuclear power plant can.


Great article
By DeepBlue1975 on 9/27/2007 11:41:54 AM , Rating: 3
I laugh when anti nuclear guys mention the only few big accidents that were caused by these, and in cases like Chernobyl, the problem had more to do with poor decisions than with the technology itself "gee, a red light, surely the instrumental board is malfunctioning...".

It's true that nuclear disposals is the most dangerous part, but it can be safely done and, some days from now, we'll have the moon waiting for its craters to be filled with something (?)




RE: Great article
By Kode on 9/27/2007 12:30:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's true that nuclear disposals is the most dangerous part, but it can be safely done and, some days from now, we'll have the moon waiting for its craters to be filled with something (?)


You can even send it directly to the sun, that's one huge nuclear plant :p.But the chances are really small, because they don't even build spacecraft with nuclear reactors in case they explode... so tranporting them will surely be halted, unfortunately...


RE: Great article
By MrTeal on 9/27/2007 1:45:30 PM , Rating: 2
Not exactly true. The Cassini-Huygens probe is powered by 3 radioisotope thermoelectric generators, and had 32.8 kg of Plutonium onboard. Alot of other outer solar system probes use nuclear generators since the low solar constant combined with low efficiency solar panels make solar power impractical.


RE: Great article
By Ringold on 9/27/2007 2:18:07 PM , Rating: 2
That's true of Cassini, but the most glorious example I always use is Voyager!

Launched before many forum members here were born, and still sending back useful data as they exit the bow shock and enter interstellar space.

I'd like to see them do that with solar panels. :P


RE: Great article
By nofranchise on 9/27/2007 12:42:32 PM , Rating: 3
A good read Jason. And although I agree that i is time to look to nuclear power again, DeepBlues point about Chernobyl is important to remember.
Even though new safer designs are great, Chernobyl was caused by human error combined with a plant of the simplest kind (Which was also why it was so effective AFAI). This could happen again, and have potentially disastrous consequences.

I am a bit miffed that a lot of these tested and proven, but very old plants are being built. I wish new ground would be broken here. If enough research had gone into it the past 30 years, this could have been a pebble bed VHTR or a Lead Cooled Fast Reactor. At least places like Finland are trying new designs like the EPR: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olkiluoto_Nuclear_Pow...

Lets get some evolution here - and get that fusion reactor up and running!



RE: Great article
By Ringold on 9/27/2007 2:24:04 PM , Rating: 2
On the one hand, maybe every 50 or 100 years we'll have a serious nuclear incident.

On the other, how many thousands die in massive Chinese coal mines every year? 2? 3? 4? However many the Party decides to inform us of? And what about those that die in other mines and extraction processes around the world? How about the Westerners that get attacked in Africa who are there operating oil rigs?

Risk analysis looks pretty good to me even if you do discount the huge improvements in Western reactor designs -- which never melted down to begin with.


RE: Great article
By DeepBlue1975 on 9/27/2007 7:09:14 PM , Rating: 2
Don't need to go that far at all: just look at how many die every year in... car accidents.


About darn time!
By Golgatha on 9/27/2007 10:20:22 AM , Rating: 5
Critic Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's energy program, an anti-nuclear watch-dog group had this to say about the state of nuclear power, "The flaws of nuclear power—excessive cost, security threats and long-lived radioactive waste—have not been solved. More nuclear reactors will only exacerbate these problems."

Right...so greenhouse gases, toxic smog, acid-rain, heavy metals in the soil, and mercury in our streams are just a few of the many wonderful alternatives to nuclear energy.




RE: About darn time!
By RamarC on 9/27/2007 10:45:02 AM , Rating: 5
I think many of the operational problems have been addressed in the past 30 years. I'm for nuclear and would rather have a nuke plant than a coal plant. And considering 6 live nuclear warheads flew across the US at the end of August, a nuke plant is certainly no more dangerous than living near certain air force bases.


RE: About darn time!
By MaulBall789 on 9/27/2007 4:18:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And considering 6 live nuclear warheads flew across the US at the end of August, a nuke plant is certainly no more dangerous than living near certain air force bases.


Got a link to this? I'm sure this happens more often than we know but... damn.


RE: About darn time!
By cyclosarin on 9/27/2007 9:39:04 PM , Rating: 2
6 of em went from Minot, ND to Barksdale, LA a few weeks back.

The missles they were attached to were going to be destroyed. However, the people responsible for maintaining the weapons failed to remove the actual device from the missles.

It's important to note that they wern't 'live' all that much, they could not detonate on their own. Even if the crew had to drop muntions/fuel during an in-flight emergency they would have simply buried them-selves in the ground.

A lot of people all screwed up, but the real bad part of the whole thing was that 6 nuclear devices were missing for over 3 hours, the fact that they flew from point A to B isn't that big of a deal.


To avoid a Chernobyl American Disaster
By GhandiInstinct on 9/27/2007 12:48:57 PM , Rating: 2
RE: To avoid a Chernobyl American Disaster
By TomZ on 9/27/2007 1:57:46 PM , Rating: 2
Another way to avoid a "chernobyl American disaster" - don't build reactors in the US using ancient Soviet designs.


By Martimus on 9/27/2007 2:06:46 PM , Rating: 3
There is a chance that the soviet design was flawed based on them stealing false documents from the US. The US has admitted to giving the Soviets false documents that led to the large gas explosion that crippled Soviet energy, probably because there was no loss of life reported in that. (link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4394002 ) I doubt they would admit to being involved in the Chernobyl disaster though.


By GhandiInstinct on 9/27/2007 2:08:35 PM , Rating: 2
Human error occurs everywhere..

quote:
The operators violated plant procedures and were ignorant of the safety requirements needed by the RBMK design. This is partly due to their lack of knowledge of the reactor's design as well as lack of experience and training. Several procedural irregularities also contributed to causing the accident. One was insufficient communication between the safety officers and the operators in charge of the experiment being run that night.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster


By Comdrpopnfresh on 9/27/2007 7:49:15 PM , Rating: 2
can't happen. The russian rbmk reactor (Chernobyl) has a positive void coefficient, which means if the rods are left without coolant, power levels increase. All US designs must have a negative void coefficient. The reason why chernobyl happened is because the russians use graphite control rods, which burn at high temperatures, and ignited gaseous hydrogen. Plus there is the whole issue of turning off most of the plant's protocols, and leaving only what, 6 control rods in, when the considered "safe" operating condition was 30. Plus they turned off the coolant circulating systems. Thats like holding your hand around a firecracker and lighting it.... with uranium...


We should get to rate the blog entries
By rtrski on 9/27/2007 10:49:27 AM , Rating: 3
If we did, you'd get a thumbs up for this one.

For once its news that makes me happy to consider myself a 'Texan' (by location, not birth).




RE: We should get to rate the blog entries
By FITCamaro on 9/27/2007 1:30:39 PM , Rating: 2
I was born in Texas and am damn proud of it. My families been there since around 1850. Now I just need to get back to the home land.

It's nice to know when the revolution comes I can still get in. Texas is the only state in the US that can legally secede. ;)


RE: We should get to rate the blog entries
By Ringold on 9/27/2007 2:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's nice to know when the revolution comes I can still get in. Texas is the only state in the US that can legally secede. ;)


Google led me to this:
quote:
The military resolution of the secession question was then given legal force by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1868 case of Texas v. White. The Court ruled there that even Texas--an independent republic before it joined the Union in 1845--had no right to secede. "The Constitution," the Court said, "in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States."


Of course, ultimately, if Texas wanted to, and the military didn't care to stop Texas from doing so, then I'd like to see the Supreme Court justitices come to Texas and try to stop 'em!

I hope the 17th Amendment gets repealed. If Texas had two senators who represented the state (different from representing their political base), then Texas probably could if it so wanted after cultivating state power again after a while. Texas would have to be the one to do it, too; South Carolina has lost it's spine!


By theapparition on 9/28/2007 9:56:55 AM , Rating: 2
Texas secede??

Good riddance to bad trash I say.
I, for one, wouldn't mind not seeing the Cowboys in the NFL anymore :P


Nuclear v wind power
By Andy35W on 9/29/2007 3:50:07 AM , Rating: 2
It seems to me that some of the enthusiastic disciples of nuclear power have gone overboard when trying to compare deaths from wind farms to nuclear fatalities, especially with the comments on that they are dangerous large spinning metal devices etc etc. How do you think electicity is generated in nuclear power plants ? By dangerous large spinning metal devices of course, which also use superheated steam as well. So that is nonsense.

As for the number of deaths, I have no idea of the figures, but that is half of the problem, neither does anyone else for nuclear power. It could be 9000, it could be more than 100 000, and that's because of the very widespread effects of nuclear accidents. Take Chernobyl,

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4923220....

nobody knows the figure for the whole of Europe who has died from it and who will die in the future as it is impossible to know what caused the cancer or other related problems. Wind power deaths at least are constrained to a general area, ie the mast, and not half a continent away.

Another argument was that reactors are safe nowadays. Well, all things have risk factors associated with them and they are not infinitely small, they a finite value and must be offset with the potential impact if things do go wrong. Also, humans are always involved and we know those cannot be compeltely reliable, hence

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6903146.st...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/highla...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/highla...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/highla...

The best argument against nuclear power stations is actually you do not need them, it is far better to actually have energy produced in all individual buildings by giving them solar electricty production and solar heating and so reduce the need for extra centralised powerstations to be built in the first place.

So, in summary, nuclear energy has it advantages but it has it's disadvantages too and to ignore the latter is short sighted.

Finally, for the proponents of nuclear I guess you are favourable as long as it is not built next to your house? Or are you happy to take the house price drop for the good of the planet? A wind turbine farm can be stuck out in the back of nowhere, but nuclear need rivers or coastal regions and that is often prime land for building on.




RE: Nuclear v wind power
By masher2 (blog) on 9/29/2007 6:36:22 AM , Rating: 2
> "How do you think electicity is generated in nuclear power plants ? By dangerous large spinning metal devices of course"

Ah, but the "large spinning metal device" in a nuclear plant is encased behind thick concrete. Also, one single such 'device' can generate up to 1500MW of power. To match that with windpower, you need 1000 times as many...all of them placed around the countryside, in much closer contact with the populace.

> "nobody knows the figure for the whole of Europe who has died from it "

Anyone who believes the "whole of Europe" suffered from the effects of Chernobyl is inexcusably ignorant on the subject. Outside of Ukraine/Byelorus, the maximum estimated dose from the worst areas in Europe was 1 mSv. You get ten times as much from a single CT scan....and you get it in far less time. The dose for the average European was around 0.04 mSv, or about half what you get every day from natural background radiation.

> "A wind turbine farm can be stuck out in the back of nowhere"

Not if you want to generate substantial amounts of energy with it. Germany only generates 6% of its electricity via wind, and yet it has been forced to cover the nation with over 15,000 turbines, causing widespread complaints about blighting the landscape. If the nation tried to generate even 1/3 their electricity from wind, everyone in the nation would be forced to live next to one or more massive windmills.

> "Well, all things have risk factors associated with them and they are not infinitely small"

Exactly. All forms of energy production have risk factors. Nuclear has the smallest of these, however, because so few reactors can generate so much power.


RE: Nuclear v wind power
By Andy35W on 9/29/2007 7:32:16 AM , Rating: 2
>"Ah, but the "large spinning metal device" in a nuclear plant is encased behind thick concrete. Also, one single such 'device' can generate up to 1500MW of power. To match that with windpower, you need 1000 times as many...all of them placed around the countryside, in much closer contact with the populace."

No they are not, the turbines are in an open area in a normal structure. Your second argument is also wrong, no wind turbines are placed in closer contact with the populace than turbines at a muclear plant. In fact turbines tend to be placed away from the population, hence the common complaint they are spoiling "unpspoilt countryside"

>"Anyone who believes the "whole of Europe" suffered from the effects of Chernobyl is inexcusably ignorant on the subject. Outside of Ukraine/Byelorus, the maximum estimated dose from the worst areas in Europe was 1 mSv. You get ten times as much from a single CT scan....and you get it in far less time. The dose for the average European was around 0.04 mSv, or about half what you get every day from natural background radiation."

Ignorant? I'll rephrase once again, "nobody knows"

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v440/n7087/fu...

This is an article from nature and although they rightly say that we should not cherry pick large numbers they do say:-

"But despite promising "definitive" answers the report, based on two decades of research, has done little to resolve the debate over Chernobyl's impact."

So they cannot tell but you can apparently and claim everyone else is ignorant. Nature magazine v Masher2, how may scientific papers on the subject have you reviewed recently? Given the answer, which is none, you should not be claiming people with opposing views are ignorant, you just look biased.

"All forms of energy production have risk factors. Nuclear has the smallest of these, however"

Untrue as well, how much risk factor is the proposed tidal barrage system for the Severn estuary compared to this ?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7013068.stm

5% of the UK's energy needs and no chance of spreading Caesium 137 around the whole of Europe.

or perhaps wave

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/north_east/701...

"He said: "These are the energy resources like wave, like wind, like tidal to come, like offshore wind, like carbon capture, where Scotland has a natural comparative advantage.

"We can generate not only enough energy for Scotland but enough to be the energy powerhouse of Europe.

"All we have to do is make sure we are leading in these technologies and find a way export power from power rich Scotland to power poor Europe."

They actually run hydrogen powered cars on the islands up there. A wind turbine provides the energy to provide catalytically provide Hydrogen from water and that hydrogen powers cars and they produce water as a by-product. I'm sure you can admit that is pretty impressive.

You still did not answer whether you were happy for a nuclear plant to be built next door to you?


RE: Nuclear v wind power
By masher2 (blog) on 10/1/2007 1:59:16 AM , Rating: 2
> "Nature magazine v Masher2..."

Did you even read your own link from Nature? It reported 62 direct deaths from Chernobyl, plus "as many as" 4,000 more from elevated cancer rates among the 600,000 people in the immediate vicinity of the reactor. Outside that area (but still in Byelorus/Ukraine), a dose of 7 mSV--about what you get each year just from background radiation. For people in other European nations, the dosages were much lower still.

In other words, pretty much exactly what I already said.

> "So they cannot tell but you can apparently "

What they point out (and correctly so) is that the debate is primarily politically charged. One on side, you have Green and anti-nuclear organizations spouting nonsensical figures. On the other hand, you have responsible scientists, whose figures are far lower.

Tens of thousands of people are dying each year from coal emissions. And who is doing the most to keep that coal burning? People like you.

> "Untrue as well, how much risk factor is the proposed tidal barrage system for the Severn estuary"

I'm all for tidal energy myself. But a few points. First of all, tidal barrages projects have been strongly opposed by the same luddite environmentalists that block nuclear power. Secondly, as attractive of a source there is, there are limited areas where it can be used. We'll never generate a majority of world energy needs with it.

Thirdly-- availability. Tidal power doesn't operate constantly. Depending on the site, its usually 12-18 hours/day. That means even in an area with a tidal barrage, you need some other power source to fill in when its not operating.

Fourthly-- costs. The last time the Severn project was floated, the study found construction costs to be twice as high as nuclear power, and operating costs 1.5 times higher. That's not nearly as expensive as solar or windpower admittedly, but its still a pricey pill.

> "You still did not answer whether you were happy for a nuclear plant to be built next door to you? "

Actually, I not only lived next to a nuclear reactor, I interned at one, as a graduate student many years ago.


BWR is NOT the best
By Comdrpopnfresh on 9/27/2007 11:08:16 AM , Rating: 5
GE's BWR is widely considered a cheaper, rushed design with less superiority in different contexts. It contains a primary-only loop in which water is used as the coolant in the reactor, and then the same water turns the turbines- so if something goes wrong and the water is contaminated, it is carried throughout the plant...
The rush for nuclear power is driving the world to build these less expensive BWR plants, which are a GE specialty. The main reasons are cost, and time-to-critical, which is less, because the plants are not as sophisticated. Whether they are safer or not is debatable, but Ariva and Westinghouse nuclear technology with PWRs, or pressurized water reactors are much more fitting the article's description:
"This new breed of critical fission reactors promise safer, cleaner and more efficient power production over traditional plant designs"

was the use of the adjective "breed" a pun? They're not breeders...




RE: BWR is NOT the best
By djc208 on 10/1/2007 8:20:31 AM , Rating: 2
It will contaminate the rest of the plant. I was surprised that they would propose a BWR system. The big downside has always been the fact that everything that sees primary fluid has to be shielded and eventually disposed of as radioactive material.

While the core shouldn't "bleed" radioactive material unless not run correctly you still get contamination buildup just due to contaminates in the water that become activated as they pass through the core. Even stainless steel puts off corrosion products, and while nuclear plants have some of the best filtration systems they're not absolute. The corrosion products build up in the system and that's where most of the radioactivity associated with nuclear power actually comes from.

Anything that water comes into contact with will eventially become contaminated, which means it's all got to be shielded and sealed. Any steam leak in the system means you're venting radioactive fluid to the atmosphere and with all the turbines, pumps, condensers, etc. that's a lot of potential leak points.


A little talked about incident
By v1001 on 9/28/2007 5:15:27 AM , Rating: 3
A lot of people dont know that there was a reactor meltdown in California in 1959. It was an experimental reactor. It didn't even have a concrete stack on it. So it all just went into the air. The scary thing is that it was all covered up. It wasn't until years later that it was discovered what really happened and how bad it was. Scary stuff. I dont want to piss around with radiation. Nasty nasty stuff.

"Santa Susana Field Lab released as much as 300 times more radiation than the infamous Three Mile Island accident, possibly causing some 260 cancer cases in an area near the hilltop lab"

Situated on 2,900 acres in the Simi Hills above Chatsworth, West Hills and Simi Valley.




RE: A little talked about incident
By masher2 (blog) on 9/28/2007 11:50:16 AM , Rating: 2
> "Scary stuff..."

Only for someone wholly ignorant about radioactivity. The maximum estimated dose anyone received from the 1959 SRE event (which wasn't a commercial power reactor, in any case) was 0.005 millirems.

How much is that? That's much less than the radiation you receive from eating one banana, due to the radioactive potassium found in it. In fact, potassium naturally in your body gives you a yearly dose of some 25 mrems (5000 times as much as the SRE event).

But that's hardly the only source of natural radiation people are exposed to. Cosmic rays, ground radon, building materials, medical procedures...it all adds up to a dose of about 360 mrems/year. That's the average. If you live in a city like Denver, its going to be about twice as high.

Lets put it another way. A person who moves from Tampa to Denver intentionally gives themselves a radiation dose of about 415 additional mrems/year. That's more than one mrem each and every day you live in (or just visit) Denver. An exposure rate over 200 times worse than this event. If you took a FLIGHT to get to Denver, you'll get as much as 8 mrems just while on the plane...due to the additional cosmic rays from the high altitude. Now you're up to a dose 1,800 times larger than that nuclear accident...just for that one day.

A person who works daily in a granite buliding (such as many courthouses or, say, New York's Grand Central Station) is going to get an even higher dose than a Denver resident, due to the radionuclides found naturally in the stone. And some areas of the world are even worse. There are some places in India where thorium-bearing soils mean daily exposure rates of 10-30x times higher than the US average. People there are not experiencing surges in cancer rates.

Radiation is like anything else. A large dose is dangerous...but trace amounts are not harmful.

(source line for SRE exposure amounts here: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/pha/santa/san_p2.html...


RE: A little talked about incident
By TomZ on 9/28/2007 10:22:31 PM , Rating: 2
Forget tin foil, I'm donning my lead hat after reading that post. Geez, this thing sure is heavy, though. :o)


BIMBY
By Misty Dingos on 9/27/2007 10:27:41 AM , Rating: 3
Build In My Back Yard. If we want to use more power. If we want to get rid of coal. And we will, we need to realize that anything that gets built is in someone’s backyard.

The eco-whiners in the northeast are a great example of complain but don’t act. Crying that they want alternative energy and when it comes along they start screaming. “Not here! I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to hear it. Or let it kill one Purple Plum Picker Fart Bird. And the FSM forbid, it had better not affect my property values!”

So if one of these project gets proposed in my area I am all for it. BIMBY!




RE: BIMBY
By Schadenfroh on 9/27/2007 10:45:17 AM , Rating: 3
Heck, build several nuke plants and oil refineries in my backyard, my county could always use the jobs!


smart move
By kattanna on 9/27/2007 11:15:31 AM , Rating: 2
smart move putting the first new reactors on an existing site. removes a lot of the BS they would have to go through for enviromental studies and having to deal with eco-nuts standing in front of the bull dozers and such.

hopefully it will be the first of many to come.




RE: smart move
By Zoomer on 9/27/2007 12:07:22 PM , Rating: 2
That is only possible in America. Try that in China (they're building 30 in a pilot project) and see what happens.

Or any other country, for that matter.


RE: smart move
By number999 on 9/27/2007 1:53:30 PM , Rating: 2
The existing site was originally planned to contain 4 reactors. Only two were ever built so it is just being fully utilized as was planned.


From someone who has lived it
By OneEng on 9/27/2007 9:47:24 PM , Rating: 2
I spent 6 years on a US sub. I was among the elite and few in the nuclear discipline that actually worked with radiological controls (ELT "Engineering Lab Tech") and was responsible for the chemical and radiological controls for the submarine.

There is little to fear from nuclear power. I can tell you from experience that the radiation levels in a sub with a reactor very close by are less than those on the surface with the sun shining on you. This I have verified THOUSANDS of times with the required background measurements that must be performed for all the daily radio-isotopic analysis done on the reactor coolant.

The levels of radiation that were released at TMI were silly low .... ridiculous to even mention..... and this is despite the idiotic actions that were taken by the barely literate night staff at the plant. The incident report (which I was forced to watch all 4 hours of several times) plays out like something from a "far side" comic.

Surely Chernobyl was in a different league altogether; however, such poorly designed reactors should be illegal ..... and I can assure you, nothing in the same galaxy of that design could ever hope to be built on the US continent.

The level of insecurity in the US over nuclear power is so high that I find it amazing that it is cost effective to produce power with it.

In nuclear power, there is a process and paperwork for everything you can imagine. Checks, double checks, and triple checks on systems with double and triple backups.

It is nearly impossible to even conceive of a way to cause an accident in a modern reactor..... and that is if you REALLY know what you are doing and have the support of others to help you over-ride the numerous redundant automatic fail safe mechanisms built into the design ...... and even then the reactor design would likely protect itself.

I can only hope that this is the beginning of a trend here in the US.

Safe, cheep power with a vast reservoir for hundreds of years to come would be within our reach (and a reservoir that isn't in the middle east).




RE: From someone who has lived it
By andrinoaa on 9/28/07, Rating: 0
RE: From someone who has lived it
By OneEng on 9/28/2007 6:48:47 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
There just isn't enough Uranium to go around for hundreds of years.

Link please. Australia has vast reserves of Uranium as do many other places in the world (including the United States).
quote:
Why not go straight to the cleanest-- solar !

As stated earlier, it is MUCH more expensive at this time.
quote:
People like Homer actually work with reactors? Now you really scare the shit out of me.

Well, they did at TMI or at least that is my opinion. Today, regulations upon regulations make Nuclear power the most safe and qualified work force [B]BY FAR[/b] in the power industry.

Just out of curiosity, have YOU ever been to EITHER a Nuclear power plant or a coal plant?
quote:
The waste hangs around for thousands of years,

No it doesn't. The VAST VAST majority of "waste" created in the operation of a nuclear reactor is low level, fast decaying crap on rags, sample containers, etc. Only spent fuel in a modern reactor produces any serious radiation, and it is quite a small volume and is easily containable.

Do you have any idea how long a gram of uranium lasts? Do a little test with E=MC2 and let me know what you find.
[quote]we are running out of cheap petrol[/quote]
Link please. According to the most recent information I can find, even the most crazed zealot's aren't claiming an end to the oil supply for the next 50-100 years. Many are claiming much longer than that.
[quote]Sorry, but I don't trust ANYONE to do the right thing on any of these issues. Dr Strangelove is amongst us just look at Bush.[/quote]
Finally, something we can agree on ;)
[quote]As for dumping uranium wastes in the ocean, I think you would find a world wide mutiny, if you think USA is mud now, hooly dooly, you guys would be paying the true cost of shitting everywhere[/quote]
If a few feet of water (which is what is used now) can safely contain a bare core today, I believe that 12 miles of water would be a very good place to store the trivial amount of long lived radioactive waste.

As for the tons of low level crap that everyone is so freaking afraid of (what a joke), you guys get more radiation from your television ..... and hundreds of times more whey you get an x-ray at the doctors office..... and even more if you are a frequent flier.

The most "scary" thing about radioactive waste is that when it is produced by a nuclear power plant, it is required to be "bagged and tagged" and it is precisely measured. IMHO the worst thing anyone ever did for nuclear power was to put a speaker on gamma detectors. People hear the ionizing events and envision their face melting.

I wonder what would happen to the airline industry if such a device was required to output to the speakers throughout the flight so the passengers could hear the ionizing radiation that they were being exposed to.

Don't see anyone complaining about that though do we?


RE: From someone who has lived it
By djc208 on 9/28/2007 10:19:18 AM , Rating: 2
I was wondering when someone from the Navy nuclear industry would chime in. I work at one of the shipyards in the same field, I'm always amazed at the perception people have over nuclear anything.
It all comes down to that perception too. Everyone gets freaked out over a new commercial powerplant, meanwhile the navy operates just as many reactors (http://www.navy.mil/navydata/testimony/safety/bowm... that are home ported in major cities and allowed to come and go from many foreign ports without issue, and no one thinks twice. Why, because there is no safer program than the Naval nuclear program.

Some recent stats are:

Since 1955, the Navy has:
* Operated safely for more than 5,600 reactor YEARS
* Steamed on and under the seven seas for over 132 million miles.
[on nuclear power]

And this is from a 2006 speach, (http://www.navy.mil/navco/speeches/2006/dagove0602... it goes higher every day. All without using a drop of oil. I can only imagine what a non-nuclear carrier burned in one day of operation, not including plane and equipment refueling. No other technology could allow our carriers and submarines to do what they do as well as they do it.

As OneEng said, the Navy is almost excessive in it's controls and oversight of the nuclear program, but the Navy understands it only takes one "TMI" to ruin a reputation, no matter how good it is.


Finally we are moving forward
By joker380 on 9/27/2007 11:30:43 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The flaws of nuclear power—excessive cost, security threats and long-lived radioactive waste—have not been solved...

Well you wont live long anyway if you keep burning coal and melt the god damn Antartica. Send this people back to stoneage.




RE: Finally we are moving forward
By lco45 on 9/28/2007 6:09:52 AM , Rating: 2
Classic, couldn't agree more!

Global warming is an immediate threat and should take first priority.

There will always be about a quarter of the population who will assume they instinctively know more about climate science than thousands of climate scientists who've been studying the climate every hour of their working lives, but the people in charge listen to the scientists, so it's not a big problem...

Luke


I like it
By Nik00117 on 9/27/2007 3:55:54 PM , Rating: 4
Now lets look at the facts. Nuclear power is cheap and effective only real harazd is the waste. Now correct me if i'm wrong but do we not have salt mines that have been completely mined out and are just big holes in the earth that has no realestate value?

Discovery channel once suggested this, and they stated that basically the plan woul dbe to use old salt mines which were no longer in use the bits of salt left would help contain the nuclear waste, and the impact on the enviroment would be minial. As simple as that, in the 1970s our plants were fairly new and not very advanced we have since advanced quite a bit.

I don't honsetly believe we can truly say we are 100% readyt for it, but when you compare the benefits to the costs it is well worth it.




Some inaccuracies in the article.
By 91TTZ on 9/27/2007 6:51:02 PM , Rating: 2
First of all, the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor is a product of General Electric, not General Energy.

Second of all, the caption of the picture says "Note the fuel rods which ring the tank". The ring of rods that you see in that picture are not the fuel rods. The fuel rods are in that squarish grid all the way on the bottom of the tank. The rods in the ring around the tank are probably the studs which are used to hold the pressure tank together.




By DarkElfa on 9/28/2007 5:06:43 AM , Rating: 2
Oh hell, just build the reactors, glass the waste and dump it in the trench somewhere. Who gives 3 flying craps what the tree huggers say. They're gonna whine if you do it, they're gonna whine if you don't. Is any of it 100% safe? Hell no, but nothing in this world ever is and if you're going to be too afraid of the world to take risks, then you should go extinct.

Why is it you never hear a damn thing from the environmentalists about watching the sky for rogue asteroids and comets? You know, one of those hitting the Earth will do far more damage than anything any human could dream up in our wildest fantasies. Hell, we could set off every Nuclear weapon on Earth and not even come close to the power and devastation unleashed by a single asteroid strike. Face it people, we're amoeba on the surface of a small rock in the middle of a cosmic shooting gallery circling a ball of nuclear fire. Yah, 4 words for the greenpeacers: Survival of the fittest. Stop feeling guilty for being human and start acting in the best interests of humanity, the dolphins can fend for themselves and if not, they'll join the Dodo in extinction, but either way, better them then me.


2.7 Giga watts!
By jp7189 on 9/28/2007 1:08:55 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't 2.7 "jiga" watts exactly the amount needed for the flux capacitor to travel through time?




RE: 2.7 Giga watts!
By bodar on 9/28/2007 5:16:20 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it was 1.21 gigawatts. I thought the same thing for a sec too.


By gOJDO on 9/30/2007 12:44:07 AM , Rating: 2
A lot of people here are trying to make a point, but they have no basic knowledge about energy production, nuclear energy, nuclear reactors, ecology and electricity.

Reading at some posts makes me laugh and cry. "The leaky barrels"....LOL.

Does anyone here have ever been inside a nuclear power plant?
A lot of brainwashed uneducated stupid people and lame declared as unprofitable, but indeed profitable organizations like greenpiss are against nuclear energy because of non-existent reasons.

Nuclear energy was always and it will always is going to be the cleanest source of energy. Even cleaner than energy produced by wind, water and sun.




By OneEng on 9/30/2007 8:58:57 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Does anyone here have ever been inside a nuclear power plant?

As many times as your normal person has been in grocery store I would think :)

The Navy Nuclear Power program is a tribute to how safe and effective the technology really is.

I lived it for 6 years on board a submarine. The fears of the general populous are absolutely unfounded.

If you want to fear something, fear the US being OWNED by oil tycoons and the Emirates.


By cpeter38 on 9/27/2007 11:36:55 AM , Rating: 3
GREAT article Jason!!!




Great Article
By Martimus on 9/27/2007 2:00:32 PM , Rating: 3
Jason,

You did a very good job with this article. It was very professional, and I was glad to see that. You showed as many sides of the argument as you could while keeping everything in perspective.

I just wanted to say nice job, after I criticized your writing in an earlier article for glazing over the opposition and not qualifying some statistics. This article is much better, and is probably the best nuclear article that I have read on Daily Tech.

-Martimus




woot
By michal1980 on 9/27/2007 11:25:03 AM , Rating: 2
like other posters said. About time

The older design might also have less approval hurdles to jump through.




No surprise
By Oregonian2 on 9/27/2007 2:04:33 PM , Rating: 2
Not a surprise and glad to see it starting. The push for electric cars (etc) makes nuclear power a given as the major source of the huge amount of power that will be required to replace all of the petroleum being used currently. The sheer scale of the power required (in addition to our "normal" increasing electric power needs) really doesn't seem to leave any alternative. The current set of alternative power sources don't seem to be practically scalable to that magnitude.




By lco45 on 9/28/2007 5:28:18 AM , Rating: 2
The long half-life of radioactive waste is often cited as the biggest problem with nuclear power.

Natural breakdown takes 100,000s of years.

Initially glassing, or synrocking the waste was expected to safely hold material for this amount of time, however this was recently revised to just 1,400 years of completely safe storage (due to previously un-anticipated breakdown of the glass by emitted alpha particles).

So we do know for sure that we can safely store for 1,400 years under current technology.

But here's the kicker:
You don't have to store the waste until it naturally degrades, you only have to store it until our technology can dispose of the waste permanently.

The state of human technology in 1,400 years time (3407 A.D.) is almost unimaginable. Some possibilities that could be around by then are:
- the ability to convert any atom to any other atom
- the ability to routinely move objects into space and launch them on eternal voyages into empty space
- the ability to incinerate any substance in a fusion reactor

I know some of this seems far-fetched, but I'm not some starry-eyed optimist.

Think of someone from 607 A.D. seeing our technology now. Even assuming our technology increased at the same pace of the last 1,400 years (and it's actually increasing geometrically faster than that) it is not far-fetched to think that well within the 1,400 years we will be able to achieve the sort of things I've listed above.

For this reason I'm more in favour of storing glassified waste in a desert rather than in the deep ocean. Pretty safe either way, but desert storage will make it easier to find when we have the tech to fix.

Luke




Waste, Security and Cost
By cscpianoman on 9/28/2007 2:24:19 PM , Rating: 2
Waste has many places to go and I for one see salt mines, deep ocean fissures or even places of tectonic plate activity. Think about placing all this glassified waste into converging tectonic plates. Over centuries waste is returned to the earth, heated and dispersed, essentially returning what was once from the earth to the earth. Terrorists can't touch it, because quite frankly who has the technology enough to get that deep and under those temperatures?

Security is another null point. First off, most plants are located in rural locations and you can easily see groups of people coming from miles away. Also to actually storm a nuclear plant you would need a fairly large group of people. Wouldn't this be kind of obvious to more than just the power plant? Planes are also not a huge concern because most flight routes avoid plants and nuclear plants have huge no fly zones.

Cost, this has already been mentioned, but most of the cost stems of anti-nuclear people doing what they do best, complain. Lock the building in years of red tape and you effectively prevent anything from happening.

I am for nuclear and hope more efficient and effective plants come through. I'm sick of hearing how solar and wind are going to solve our problems when in reality they can't hold a candle even to coal power. We in the US need to grow up and instead of fighting the plant look for ways to improve it.




Space Elevator
By PrimarchLion on 9/29/2007 11:37:42 PM , Rating: 2
When we build the space elevator we can use energy generated from nuclear facilities to shoot the waste into the sun. Problem solved.




Ontario election
By psychmike on 10/1/2007 12:40:06 AM , Rating: 2
We're having a provincial election here in Ontario and the issue of electrical power generation is very much a hot topic. In all likelihood, the parties likely to win favor new nuclear capacity.

We use the CANDU design, one that uses heavy water but can run on unenriched uranium or depleted fuel from conventional light water designs. The price for these reactors has often gone through the roof (one from an estimated $4B to $14B. As others have pointed out, this is often due to delays in construction but this isn't always because of anti-nuclear protests. Sometimes, construction is deferred because of reduced electrical need, other times, because of labour or construction problems. In any case, nuclear reactors are vulnerable to huge cost overruns because of the immense capital costs and the very lengthy construction times. Environmentally, the mining and refinement of uranium can be very dirty and disposal remains an unresolved problem. Also, decommissioning costs are often as high as 15% of the initial capital costs. There's a reason that most of the western world has stopped new nuclear construction and it isn't all environmental - they simply are very, very expensive. I'm not anti-nuclear but I do want to make sure that the fair cost for these projects is being passed onto the people who want to make a profit from it rather than sticking it to the taxpayer which often happens when contract problems appear.

I'd love to see more research done in electrical storage so that intermittent renewables like solar or wind could be more widely used. Some great ideas have included hydro storage (converting electrical energy to potential energy by pumping water into lakes located at higher elevations) and industrial batteries that can take and store extremely high capacities. Small-scale cogeneration of electricity at thermal heating plants or waste incinerators can also help.

Mike




Thank You MAsher!
By oldman42 on 10/2/2007 2:38:53 AM , Rating: 2
I just wanted to thank masher for his highly informative and entertaining posts and responses. I find all your arguments provocative and engaging. You have never needed to convince me of anything, but I enjoy watching others try to convince you, and vice versa. I may even name my first born Asher. There's already too many Michaels in my family. ;)

Ontopic, I highly applaud the "proliferation" of nuclear power plants. Until fusion becomes feasible, I'm "Goin Fission." I nominate Arizona for a few new reactors to replace the withering Palo Verde.




"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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