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#1 2017-11-12 17:09:17

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 941

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

The hysteria about using nuclear power in space probes is in response to this sort of uneducated and ill advised thinking about contamination.

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#2 2017-11-13 16:34:30

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,135

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

I wish someone who actually understood radiation contamination would explain it to the ignorant general public so they'd quit wringing their hands over a good bit of nothing.  These "but it's radioactive for millions of years" dimwits don't understand that when someone says that, it just means it's barely radioactive at all and yet is still slightly radioactive.

Is it a problem?  Yes.  Is it some sort of calamity of epic proportions?  Hardly.  Nobody bats an eye at all the radiation contamination from burning coal or natural gas.  These would be the same morons who want to use fossil fuel backup plants for their "clean energy" schemes to make power when the sun doesn't shine.  The exhaust products from those plants contain "some" radioactive elements because the Earth it was brought to the surface of always contains some quantity of radioactive material mixed in with everything else.  It's a question of "how much" and "how fast".  Drinking enough water can kill a human, but most of us tend to die from the opposite problem.  You really can't fix stupid.

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#3 2017-11-13 17:45:26

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 10,527

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Some of what people fear is coming from the likes of these disasters...

Nuclear meltdown events

    7.1 United States
    7.2 Soviet Union
    7.3 Japan
    7.4 Switzerland
    7.5 Canada
    7.6 United Kingdom
    7.7 France
    7.8 Czechoslovakia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_damage

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima … ower_Plant

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mil … ng_Station

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

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#4 2017-11-13 20:03:22

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,135

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

SpaceNut,

The climate changers are only proposing more of the same.  Build a solar power plant or wind farm and then build an additional gas or coal power plant to back it up, because the sun doesn't shine 24/7 and the wind doesn't blow 24/7.  Apart from fossil fuels, nuclear fission and fusion are the only other forms of electrical power production that can realistically meet 100% of the world's electrical power demands.  Eventually, we'll run out of fossil fuels that require less energy to extract than was put into the process.  We're never going to run out of Thorium because it's everywhere on Earth, from the ground we live on to the oceans.  Nuclear energy is also the only form of energy that breeds new fuel using the same process that makes the heat energy that ultimately produces electricity.

I'm not telling people to warm themselves at night with RTG cores or to start playing with Uranium.  I'm telling people that there is a cost-benefit analysis required for every form of energy production.  There's no such thing as "clean energy".  There are forms of energy that produce less waste products and/or less hazardous waste products than others.  Fossil fuels release a slew of pollutants into the atmosphere along with that dreaded plant food, aka CO2.  Solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries are made with toxic metals.  Nuclear fission produces some long-lived high level radioactive waste, along with more transient elements that have much shorter half lives (which are actually far more radioactive than the long-lived waste and far more dangerous to life for a brief period of time).  All forms of radiation are NOT the same, either.  Basically, every form of energy has an environmental impact.

My supposition is that the energy production scheme that leaves the least quantity of toxic waste behind, and by a staggering margin at that, is probably better than the alternatives.  Although nuclear energy produces hazardous waste products, there is no comparison whatsoever between the total amount of energy produced per kilogram of Uranium in a fission reactor and any other form of energy production that can meet electrical power demands today (here or on Mars), as in "as I write this response".  The units of energy produced per unit of waste products produced is so ridiculously lopsidedly in favor of nuclear fission or nuclear fusion (whenever we manage to pull that off) that the notion that we should shovel money into other forms of energy production and more or less ignore what's so obvious about nuclear energy, given the total quantity of energy that humanity requires (here or on Mars), is an absolute mathematical absurdity.

I'm not the one who decided the physical universe would operate at it does.  I merely accept that it behaves as it does and react accordingly.  I'm not for or against any form of energy production in the strictest terms.  If solar panels produced more energy than nuclear fission and we had people who couldn't count advocating for nuclear fission, then I would be making the exact same arguments for using solar power.  I am 100% in favor of accepting that basic mathematics does not care about anyone's belief system, including my own.  The best argument for using nuclear power comes from the minds of the ordinary person when they learn just how much energy we need and what their options are.  Whereupon they learn how to count, the "light bulb" inevitably turns on.  I'm on the winning side of this argument because I know how to count, not because I am morally, ethically, environmentally, or scientifically superior to anyone else.  Whenever other people make such claims about other forms of power production like solar and wind, I will happily point out their bloviating.  I accept that our present options are what they are.  If something better comes along, I will cease advocating for nuclear fission.  In more than a human lifetime, nothing better has come along when enormous quantities of energy are required.  In closing, and once again, I don't make the rules.  The universe does that.

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#5 2017-11-13 21:32:31

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 10,527

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

If it were not for the power grid being for profit of the electrical companies I would think that we would be seeing many with no means to power at all and since the means to create nuclear relies on electrical energy from other sources in the first place how would we have made the first reators.
Sure hind site we would eventually get there and maybe if we were all not attached to a grid the nuclear industry would have built the small home reactors and they would be popular every where by now.
So stop building the huge nuclear plants and we would get there sooner...

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#6 2017-11-14 05:56:46

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,135

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

SpaceNut,

Historically, we burned fossil fuels to produce energy until nuclear power came along.  By dint of fact that we were awash in energy reserves at that time, we then had the opportunity to devote some of that plentiful energy production capacity to the creation of a functionally inexhaustible energy supply.  At about the same time that we developed commercial nuclear power, we also developed solar panels.  There was never any reason to favor development of one technology over the other and to this day, there still isn't.  We don't have any crystal balls to peer into, so I favor an "all of the above" energy production strategy, but the major emphasis needs to be on methods of energy production methods that don't require vast quantities of materials per person.  Basic physics and current state-of-the-art engineering has decided what that rules out, not me.

The grid systems happen to enable the most efficient way to produce electricity, even if the distribution system is vulnerable to damage and less than ideal for distribution of electrical power as a function of the losses incurred from resistance to current flow in the wiring.  Efficiency in electrical power generation remains a major problem, here and on Mars.  The losses from transmission are truly staggering.  Any solar or wind turbine farm has the exact same grid issues that a nuclear reactor or fossil fuel power plant has and that's how we're spending the overwhelming majority of our money on "renewable energy".  So the arguments about solar or wind creating "energy independence" for the average human are a "moo point", much like the opinion of a cow.

If someone can develop a home energy solution that doesn't cost more than a brand new luxury SUV, then I would have no issue whatsoever with using such a system.  Having electrical power generation backups and grid independence is a very good thing, but not at exorbitant cost in terms of monetary value or simply resources consumed if we ignore money.  The mass of materials and thus energy required for extraction and processing of natural resources has to be taken into account.  A billiard ball of Thorium produces a lifetime's worth of energy for the average American, from cradle to grave.  If new fuel is bred in a reactor, then a lifetime's worth of energy can be generated for at least the next thousand years or so.  Presumably, we'll achieve sustained fusion in the next thousand years, if not much sooner than that.  A 1kWh/kg battery (which doesn't exist commercially) would require several hundred kilograms of raw materials per person, excluding all packaging and other equipment (which isn't possible in the real world), assuming worldwide recycling of the battery materials, which also doesn't exist.  Then the tonnage of materials (yes, tons, because after the raw materials are extracted they have to be transformed into something that can produce electricity) required for power generation using solar or wind have to be produced to give every person their electrical power supply to recharge those batteries.  The processes to manufacture and recycle batteries are energy intensive and all current batteries and all real world electrical power generation equipment contains toxic materials.  The primary "difference" between nuclear and other forms of energy is the spectacular disparity in the total quantities of hazardous wastes produced.  You need graphs using semi-logarithmic scales or an absurdly long piece of paper to illustrate the difference.

At an absolute bare minimum, the solar panels alone will generate ten thousand times as much volume of waste as the nuclear materials would.  In the real world, this waste volume for the solar panels will be at least several multiples of that figure and that completely excludes batteries to store power at night and any support equipment or structures that the solar panels or batteries require.  If U233 is bred from Th232 for nuclear fuel, then the disparity increases even further.  Can you understand the incredible scale of the disparity?  Can you understand that we can easily extract 1kg of material per person lifetime, but basically require vast expansion of existing industries to extract the 10,000kg of Iron, Aluminum or Copper, Lithium or Lead, Gallium, Arsenic, Silicon, and other materials that comprise the solar or wind solution?  When fusion comes along, the quantity of materials that need to be extracted per person go down another order of magnitude.  If we have issues obtaining 1kg of material per person, how much more difficult will it be to get our hands on 10,000kg of material per person?  That's the basic problem we're discussing, irrespective of where the human happens to be located.

People like Elon Musk are trying to overcome the problem of energy production and storage using the least energy dense and most energy and resource intensive methods known to man.  It's a losing proposition, even if it's technically feasible to do, as a function of the vast quantities of natural resources available.  That is not my "say-so" on the matter.  It's what basic physics and science indicates and no contraindications exist.  Whereupon someone develops a true room temperature superconductor or we start using motors that don't also function as generators, then there might be a way to make this scheme work.   Incidentally, motors that don't also function as generators is what I spend my free time working on.  I don't have any affinity for nuclear vs solar vs other power, I just can't ignore what basic math tells me.  In any event, I still want him to change the world with electric vehicles because we're running out of easy-to-obtain fossil fuels and what's left is looking increasingly unattractive from a cost-benefit standpoint.

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#7 2017-11-14 09:51:08

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,599

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

I think we do have some crystall balls to peer into. PV panels do not require much monitoring or maintenance. Nuclear power does.  As a society becomes more prosperous, so processes with high labour input become proportionally more expensive. Similarly with respect to health and safety - the more developed a society the more rigorous its health and safety rules. Furthermore products are either potentially amenable to cost production via technological innovation (cf computers) or they aren't (steel bridges). Put this altogether and what does it mean? Nuclear power has got MORE expensive, not less, while the cost of PV panels has fallen dramatically. All analysts are agreed that there is no obvious floor for the price of PV panelling and we will see further sharp falls in the future. I haven't seen any analyst who has said such falls will be matched by nuclear.

If you were right nuclear power would be everywhere cheaper than solar which it isn't. In many parts of the world it is the far more expensive option.

Energy density is not the vital issue you think, in my view.  Price is the key determinant - and price reflects a whole load of factors e.g. transportation, human input, licensing costs, insurance, post-production costs.

kbd512 wrote:

SpaceNut,

Historically, we burned fossil fuels to produce energy until nuclear power came along.  By dint of fact that we were awash in energy reserves at that time, we then had the opportunity to devote some of that plentiful energy production capacity to the creation of a functionally inexhaustible energy supply.  At about the same time that we developed commercial nuclear power, we also developed solar panels.  There was never any reason to favor development of one technology over the other and to this day, there still isn't.  We don't have any crystal balls to peer into, so I favor an "all of the above" energy production strategy, but the major emphasis needs to be on methods of energy production methods that don't require vast quantities of materials per person.  Basic physics and current state-of-the-art engineering has decided what that rules out, not me.

The grid systems happen to enable the most efficient way to produce electricity, even if the distribution system is vulnerable to damage and less than ideal for distribution of electrical power as a function of the losses incurred from resistance to current flow in the wiring.  Efficiency in electrical power generation remains a major problem, here and on Mars.  The losses from transmission are truly staggering.  Any solar or wind turbine farm has the exact same grid issues that a nuclear reactor or fossil fuel power plant has and that's how we're spending the overwhelming majority of our money on "renewable energy".  So the arguments about solar or wind creating "energy independence" for the average human are a "moo point", much like the opinion of a cow.

If someone can develop a home energy solution that doesn't cost more than a brand new luxury SUV, then I would have no issue whatsoever with using such a system.  Having electrical power generation backups and grid independence is a very good thing, but not at exorbitant cost in terms of monetary value or simply resources consumed if we ignore money.  The mass of materials and thus energy required for extraction and processing of natural resources has to be taken into account.  A billiard ball of Thorium produces a lifetime's worth of energy for the average American, from cradle to grave.  If new fuel is bred in a reactor, then a lifetime's worth of energy can be generated for at least the next thousand years or so.  Presumably, we'll achieve sustained fusion in the next thousand years, if not much sooner than that.  A 1kWh/kg battery (which doesn't exist commercially) would require several hundred kilograms of raw materials per person, excluding all packaging and other equipment (which isn't possible in the real world), assuming worldwide recycling of the battery materials, which also doesn't exist.  Then the tonnage of materials (yes, tons, because after the raw materials are extracted they have to be transformed into something that can produce electricity) required for power generation using solar or wind have to be produced to give every person their electrical power supply to recharge those batteries.  The processes to manufacture and recycle batteries are energy intensive and all current batteries and all real world electrical power generation equipment contains toxic materials.  The primary "difference" between nuclear and other forms of energy is the spectacular disparity in the total quantities of hazardous wastes produced.  You need graphs using semi-logarithmic scales or an absurdly long piece of paper to illustrate the difference.

At an absolute bare minimum, the solar panels alone will generate ten thousand times as much volume of waste as the nuclear materials would.  In the real world, this waste volume for the solar panels will be at least several multiples of that figure and that completely excludes batteries to store power at night and any support equipment or structures that the solar panels or batteries require.  If U233 is bred from Th232 for nuclear fuel, then the disparity increases even further.  Can you understand the incredible scale of the disparity?  Can you understand that we can easily extract 1kg of material per person lifetime, but basically require vast expansion of existing industries to extract the 10,000kg of Iron, Aluminum or Copper, Lithium or Lead, Gallium, Arsenic, Silicon, and other materials that comprise the solar or wind solution?  When fusion comes along, the quantity of materials that need to be extracted per person go down another order of magnitude.  If we have issues obtaining 1kg of material per person, how much more difficult will it be to get our hands on 10,000kg of material per person?  That's the basic problem we're discussing, irrespective of where the human happens to be located.

People like Elon Musk are trying to overcome the problem of energy production and storage using the least energy dense and most energy and resource intensive methods known to man.  It's a losing proposition, even if it's technically feasible to do, as a function of the vast quantities of natural resources available.  That is not my "say-so" on the matter.  It's what basic physics and science indicates and no contraindications exist.  Whereupon someone develops a true room temperature superconductor or we start using motors that don't also function as generators, then there might be a way to make this scheme work.   Incidentally, motors that don't also function as generators is what I spend my free time working on.  I don't have any affinity for nuclear vs solar vs other power, I just can't ignore what basic math tells me.  In any event, I still want him to change the world with electric vehicles because we're running out of easy-to-obtain fossil fuels and what's left is looking increasingly unattractive from a cost-benefit standpoint.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#8 2017-11-14 13:27:31

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,135

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

louis wrote:

I think we do have some crystall balls to peer into. PV panels do not require much monitoring or maintenance. Nuclear power does.  As a society becomes more prosperous, so processes with high labour input become proportionally more expensive. Similarly with respect to health and safety - the more developed a society the more rigorous its health and safety rules. Furthermore products are either potentially amenable to cost production via technological innovation (cf computers) or they aren't (steel bridges). Put this altogether and what does it mean? Nuclear power has got MORE expensive, not less, while the cost of PV panels has fallen dramatically. All analysts are agreed that there is no obvious floor for the price of PV panelling and we will see further sharp falls in the future. I haven't seen any analyst who has said such falls will be matched by nuclear.

As manufacturing becomes more automated, we can have millions or even billions of unemployed workers.  It's not like they have to eat, live in doors, or require health care.  The government should provide that "for free", right?  If we ignore the fact that nothing is ever free, what's a big bright shining lie to a political partisan except a means to an end?  We have a real shortage of unemployed or underemployed workers, too, don't we?  We don't need to pay people who don't work, either, except that we do that anyway.  Pure genius!  Why didn't I think of that?  Oh wait, that's right...  I learned how to count and other people with more education and experience than I'll ever have STILL can't grasp that concept and apply it to real life.

Why is it that the "green energy" sector is always touting the number of jobs they create, yet here you are claiming that nuclear energy would require the creation of even more jobs?  Those nuclear jobs presumably also require more education, with an emphasis on math and science, hopefully raising the average level of knowledge and intelligence of the average human.  One of these things is not like the other.  One of these things just doesn't belong.  Yeah, that would be this painfully obvious anti-human political agenda intended to deny energy to people using these stupid pricing schemes that raise the cost of energy to unobtainable levels.  Aren't the "climate changers" constantly claiming that everyone else who doesn't share in their hysteria is "dumb" or "uneducated"?  If that's so, we wouldn't want to "educate" those people, would we?  Especially when we can just have them making rubber dog shit in sweat shops for less than a livable wage and burning their feces to cook.  Double face-palm on that one.  Where's Shiva when you need her?

I won't completely address the cost issue for equivalent output here because you're willfully ignorant of what things actually cost and I'd just be wasting further effort to once again disprove your false claim, and I've already done elsewhere on this forum.  Nuclear power is STILL not more expensive if total output is considered.  Yearly consumption is what it is and it's going up, not down.  Three of those $2.5B per PV plants located in a desert will actually produce the 1,500MW nameplate capacity that a single plant never reaches more than a third of, whereas the output of a single $5B 1,250MW fission reactor running at 90% capacity produces electricity 24/7.  That's using legacy 1950's era resource and manpower intensive pressurized water fission reactors.  We haven't begun to address energy storage, either, and all of these "renewable energy" schemes require battery technology that doesn't exist for grid scale deployment.  Let's ignore the most obvious solution, the one that already exists and works so well it produces 20% of our electricity needs, because one day we might solve the battery capacity problem.

louis wrote:

If you were right nuclear power would be everywhere cheaper than solar which it isn't. In many parts of the world it is the far more expensive option.

Apart from the time that Dook was on these forums, before he was banned, I don't think I've seen any greater deliberate attempt to ignore basic math, electrical engineering, or what things actually cost.  Sparse and/or intermittent sources of power will not, at least in our lifetimes, supersede an energy source as concentrated as fissionable nuclear materials in terms of monetary cost, natural resource sustainability, or land use.  That said, we can always try the same thing again and again, hoping for a different result.  Psychology defines that process as insanity, but partisan political agendas typically aren't sane or rational.

louis wrote:

Energy density is not the vital issue you think, in my view.  Price is the key determinant - and price reflects a whole load of factors e.g. transportation, human input, licensing costs, insurance, post-production costs.

If you actually believe that price is key, then you would not be here arguing about the price of solar panels because there is no cost argument to be made when equivalent output is required.  In the real world, equivalent output is required to meet demand.  In the real world, the demand is 24/7, not only when the sun shines or the wind blows.  In the real world, there are no grid scale energy storage systems in existence that satisfy energy needs 24/7.  The rest of us shouldn't ignore reality simply because you have an agenda to push or can't count.

Let's review.  You don't have a cost argument (since we know what the last solar plants and nuclear fission reactors built actually cost and the outputs they actually produced, this is the worst comparison you could possibly make if you wanted to somehow support your argument), you don't have a resources consumption argument, you don't have a waste quantity argument, and you'll never have an energy density or land use argument, short of room temperature superconductors that have never materialized.  Those superconductors would provide much of the same land use benefits to nuclear reactors or any other form of energy production, too.  That leaves us with some other form of argument, which must necessarily be based on ignorance or willful ignorance.

In the real world we function off of what things currently cost, what they currently produce, and what additional effort could reasonably be expected to produce in the future.  The solar power enthusiasts have a Pollyanna mentality to their belief system and unfortunately basic math isn't amenable to their level of naivety.

If we accept that solar panels cost nothing (let's pretend), and nuclear power is $100/MWh (it's actually less than that, but let's pretend), and Lithium-ion batteries cost $1,100/MWh (it's more than that, but again, let's pretend), then the cost of storage only needs to come down by an order of magnitude to make the cost of the batteries alone more than the cost of nuclear power.

Someone's argument is not based in reality and that someone is not me.  Basic math will ruthlessly smack down any non-reality-based argument because that's what basic math does.  I don't blame ignorant people for being ignorant, but I do blame them for refusing to learn.  The world is trying to teach you something, not me.  I'm merely the one conveying the information.  Ignore it or accept it, but the numbers don't care what you or I believe and they never will.

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#9 2017-11-14 14:43:51

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,599

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

I think your figures are already out of date:

  lithium-ion now ranges from $285 to $581 per megawatt-hour; last year it was $321 to $658 per megawatt-hour. That's a 12 percent drop in the median cost in one year.

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles … gs.tGL_GZ8

Chemical batteries of course aren't the only potential form of storage and improved transmission decreases the need for storage of course.  The UK for instance is linking up with Norway and Iceland to tap into their energy as required.

Green energy can boost domestic employment if you are otherwise an energy importer. But there is no doubt that the amount of labour per green energy unit of output is declining rapidly. That has been a sign of growing economic prosperity over time - the UK used to employ 500,000 people in the coal mining industry when there was widespread poverty.

The brutal maths in the market place is price. And that's why nuclear has been losing friends faster than Harvey Weinstein has been losing his pals in Hollywood. There is no strict correlation between energy density and price.

I think my outlook is realistic and am glad that Musk shares it.


kbd512 wrote:
louis wrote:

I think we do have some crystall balls to peer into. PV panels do not require much monitoring or maintenance. Nuclear power does.  As a society becomes more prosperous, so processes with high labour input become proportionally more expensive. Similarly with respect to health and safety - the more developed a society the more rigorous its health and safety rules. Furthermore products are either potentially amenable to cost production via technological innovation (cf computers) or they aren't (steel bridges). Put this altogether and what does it mean? Nuclear power has got MORE expensive, not less, while the cost of PV panels has fallen dramatically. All analysts are agreed that there is no obvious floor for the price of PV panelling and we will see further sharp falls in the future. I haven't seen any analyst who has said such falls will be matched by nuclear.

As manufacturing becomes more automated, we can have millions or even billions of unemployed workers.  It's not like they have to eat, live in doors, or require health care.  The government should provide that "for free", right?  If we ignore the fact that nothing is ever free, what's a big bright shining lie to a political partisan except a means to an end?  We have a real shortage of unemployed or underemployed workers, too, don't we?  We don't need to pay people who don't work, either, except that we do that anyway.  Pure genius!  Why didn't I think of that?  Oh wait, that's right...  I learned how to count and other people with more education and experience than I'll ever have STILL can't grasp that concept and apply it to real life.

Why is it that the "green energy" sector is always touting the number of jobs they create, yet here you are claiming that nuclear energy would require the creation of even more jobs?  Those nuclear jobs presumably also require more education, with an emphasis on math and science, hopefully raising the average level of knowledge and intelligence of the average human.  One of these things is not like the other.  One of these things just doesn't belong.  Yeah, that would be this painfully obvious anti-human political agenda intended to deny energy to people using these stupid pricing schemes that raise the cost of energy to unobtainable levels.  Aren't the "climate changers" constantly claiming that everyone else who doesn't share in their hysteria is "dumb" or "uneducated"?  If that's so, we wouldn't want to "educate" those people, would we?  Especially when we can just have them making rubber dog shit in sweat shops for less than a livable wage and burning their feces to cook.  Double face-palm on that one.  Where's Shiva when you need her?

I won't completely address the cost issue for equivalent output here because you're willfully ignorant of what things actually cost and I'd just be wasting further effort to once again disprove your false claim, and I've already done elsewhere on this forum.  Nuclear power is STILL not more expensive if total output is considered.  Yearly consumption is what it is and it's going up, not down.  Three of those $2.5B per PV plants located in a desert will actually produce the 1,500MW nameplate capacity that a single plant never reaches more than a third of, whereas the output of a single $5B 1,250MW fission reactor running at 90% capacity produces electricity 24/7.  That's using legacy 1950's era resource and manpower intensive pressurized water fission reactors.  We haven't begun to address energy storage, either, and all of these "renewable energy" schemes require battery technology that doesn't exist for grid scale deployment.  Let's ignore the most obvious solution, the one that already exists and works so well it produces 20% of our electricity needs, because one day we might solve the battery capacity problem.

louis wrote:

If you were right nuclear power would be everywhere cheaper than solar which it isn't. In many parts of the world it is the far more expensive option.

Apart from the time that Dook was on these forums, before he was banned, I don't think I've seen any greater deliberate attempt to ignore basic math, electrical engineering, or what things actually cost.  Sparse and/or intermittent sources of power will not, at least in our lifetimes, supersede an energy source as concentrated as fissionable nuclear materials in terms of monetary cost, natural resource sustainability, or land use.  That said, we can always try the same thing again and again, hoping for a different result.  Psychology defines that process as insanity, but partisan political agendas typically aren't sane or rational.

louis wrote:

Energy density is not the vital issue you think, in my view.  Price is the key determinant - and price reflects a whole load of factors e.g. transportation, human input, licensing costs, insurance, post-production costs.

If you actually believe that price is key, then you would not be here arguing about the price of solar panels because there is no cost argument to be made when equivalent output is required.  In the real world, equivalent output is required to meet demand.  In the real world, the demand is 24/7, not only when the sun shines or the wind blows.  In the real world, there are no grid scale energy storage systems in existence that satisfy energy needs 24/7.  The rest of us shouldn't ignore reality simply because you have an agenda to push or can't count.

Let's review.  You don't have a cost argument (since we know what the last solar plants and nuclear fission reactors built actually cost and the outputs they actually produced, this is the worst comparison you could possibly make if you wanted to somehow support your argument), you don't have a resources consumption argument, you don't have a waste quantity argument, and you'll never have an energy density or land use argument, short of room temperature superconductors that have never materialized.  Those superconductors would provide much of the same land use benefits to nuclear reactors or any other form of energy production, too.  That leaves us with some other form of argument, which must necessarily be based on ignorance or willful ignorance.

In the real world we function off of what things currently cost, what they currently produce, and what additional effort could reasonably be expected to produce in the future.  The solar power enthusiasts have a Pollyanna mentality to their belief system and unfortunately basic math isn't amenable to their level of naivety.

If we accept that solar panels cost nothing (let's pretend), and nuclear power is $100/MWh (it's actually less than that, but let's pretend), and Lithium-ion batteries cost $1,100/MWh (it's more than that, but again, let's pretend), then the cost of storage only needs to come down by an order of magnitude to make the cost of the batteries alone more than the cost of nuclear power.

Someone's argument is not based in reality and that someone is not me.  Basic math will ruthlessly smack down any non-reality-based argument because that's what basic math does.  I don't blame ignorant people for being ignorant, but I do blame them for refusing to learn.  The world is trying to teach you something, not me.  I'm merely the one conveying the information.  Ignore it or accept it, but the numbers don't care what you or I believe and they never will.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#10 2017-11-14 16:44:46

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,135

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Louis,

Cherry picking data points from a single person's analysis is not indicative of the actual LCOE, nor a particularly good business practice if you want to keep the doors open.  In any event, what you're telling me is that the cost of storage has to be reduced 2/3rd's to 5/6th's times for the storage alone to come to the same price as nuclear power.  Then we're omitting the cost of the solar panels or wind farms entirely.  And then, and only then, do you have any argument about cost.  And then you still don't have an argument about current costs, because it favors nuclear over these other schemes that willfully ignore reality because some sucker out there is dumb enough to buy into it.

Nuclear power doesn't have friends or enemies.  It's a basic math proposition.  You're hoping that the cost of batteries will come down an order of magnitude or by a major fraction of the current cost and that the cost of the PV or wind farms will essentially be zero in order to arrive at the same price point as nuclear power.  People who believe nuclear power is voodoo and ignore reality have killed new nuclear projects, not the cost-benefit of the energy source.  It's still the best, even using 1950's technology.  Imagine how much further the cost would fall using 1970's technology that doesn't have to shut down the reactor to reprocess, store, or transport spent fuel rods.  Now imagine what the costs will be when most of the current waste products don't exist and no water or enormous pressure vessels are required for coolant.

Your random statement about coal and poverty appears to ignore every other aspect of history in order to somehow link poverty to coal.  Those coal miners gave your forebearers quite a bit of the energy necessary to even enable this solar power fantasy to exist to begin with.

You're living in a fantasy land.  That or you want to assure we keep consuming fossil fuels because that's exactly what we're doing until the prices for batteries come down to a level that makes them affordable like-kind replacements for energy storage.

Musk is a realist, but he's also trying to sell solar panels and he's a shrewd businessman:

Elon Musk Why I like Nuclear Power

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#11 2017-11-14 18:10:35

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,599

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

In any event, what you're telling me is that the cost of storage has to be reduced 2/3rd's to 5/6th's times for the storage alone to come to the same price as nuclear power.  Then we're omitting the cost of the solar panels or wind farms entirely.  And then, and only then, do you have any argument about cost.  And then you still don't have an argument about current costs, because it favors nuclear over these other schemes that willfully ignore reality because some sucker out there is dumb enough to buy into it.

I am not saying that at all. As we see in Germany and Denmark, you can build up intermittent green energy to high levels as long as you have fall back measures in place including transmission connections to other countries with less intermittent supplies e.g. hydro in Scandinavia. Solar and wind are already highly competitive in most parts of the world, certainly with nuclear. We are talking about taking it to the next level.  But you certainly don't need to rely on nuclear for baseload.

Your analysis of the cost of nuclear certainly doesn't account for the hundreds of years of costs of nuclear waste management or the costs of security vetting by security services of nuclear power employees.

Also, nuclear energy is uninsurable - that tells you something about the potential costs if something goes wrong. Did you know that still, today, after Chernobyl wild boar in some parts of Scandinavia cannot be eaten without risk to health? 

Nuclear power doesn't have friends or enemies.  It's a basic math proposition.  You're hoping that the cost of batteries will come down an order of magnitude or by a major fraction of the current cost and that the cost of the PV or wind farms will essentially be zero in order to arrive at the same price point as nuclear power.  People who believe nuclear power is voodoo and ignore reality have killed new nuclear projects, not the cost-benefit of the energy source.  It's still the best, even using 1950's technology.  Imagine how much further the cost would fall using 1970's technology that doesn't have to shut down the reactor to reprocess, store, or transport spent fuel rods.  Now imagine what the costs will be when most of the current waste products don't exist and no water or enormous pressure vessels are required for coolant.

I can only talk about the UK where it certainly has had friends.  Mrs Thatcher was a great friend of the industry but was shocked to find out about the near fraudulent accounting practices that had been going on when they came to light. Likewise George Osborne (finance secretary) was a great friend, giving the nuclear industry the biggest ever subsidised deal in history. If we wanted cheap 100% reliable energy we only needed to run with natural gas. The state of the art new nuclear facilities being built in the UK are incredibly expensive compared with natural gas and coal.

Your random statement about coal and poverty appears to ignore every other aspect of history in order to somehow link poverty to coal.  Those coal miners gave your forebearers quite a bit of the energy necessary to even enable this solar power fantasy to exist to begin with.

I am simply pointing out that the high energy density of coal didn't deliver an affluent society before the 1950s.  That was because coal digging, transporting and burning was a highly labour intensive process in that period.  Things only really took off with mechanical extraction of coal and more automated burning.

You're living in a fantasy land.  That or you want to assure we keep consuming fossil fuels because that's exactly what we're doing until the prices for batteries come down to a level that makes them affordable like-kind replacements for energy storage.

I think this analysis is essentially correct, certainly for the USA (which has good insolation resources in the SW area):-

https://www.coolenergyworld.com/blog/20 … w-baseload

The changeover won't happen overnight but once you've got that basic price parity at the "short" storage level, then you are going to see gradual replacement and I can't think of a good reason to keep nuclear going. 

Musk is a realist, but he's also trying to sell solar panels and he's a shrewd businessman:

And he's also an innovator. It's a great combination.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#12 2017-11-14 18:37:45

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 10,527

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

A small google for "Nuclear power plant construction cost" yields,

Costs for nuclear power plants are driven primarily by the upfront cost of capital associated with construction. While a natural gas power plant could be constructed for as little as $850/kW, recent estimates put construction of a nuclear power plant at $4000/kW.

I am sure that some plants were constructed in a cheaper manner as this is dependant of size and reactors built at a single site and for the fuel type used.

Solar types have different costs for the construction..
How much does it cost to build different types of power plants in the United States?

There would be also different numbers for off grid builds for any of these and if we had a viable nuclear off grid solution it just might be what I would be going with....

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#13 2017-11-14 18:48:49

Antius
Member
From: Cumbria, UK
Registered: 2007-05-22
Posts: 948

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Wind and solar power can be affordable (though not cheap) means of electricity production on Earth only if they are backed up by fossil fuel power plants, usually combined cycle gas turbines.  The ff powerplant provides dispatchable power supply but fuel can be saved when wind or solar output are high.  One must still meet the labour and capital costs of the ff powerplant, so the renewable powerplant is unlikely to save money, though it may reduce pollution.

100% renewable energy will never be cost competitive with nuclear energy in a LCOE calculation.  This is because to provide the same product, I.e. baseload electricity, one must build 2.5 powerplants instead of one.  There are ways in which a 100% renewable energy economy could work in principle, but it would be a very different way of life to what we have become accustomed to.
http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2017/09/ … ather.html

It is easy to lose sight of the fact that wind and solar power are old technologies, much older in fact than anything that they are competing against.  Before the age of steam, wind and water power were important mechanical power sources.  There has never been any practical difficulty in producing power systems that generate base load electric power from 100% wind and solar energy.  We could have done it in the later years of the 19th century, using a mixture of wind turbines, solar dynamic power and thermal energy storage.  It would have been easier in many ways than coal power, as it would not have required mining, fuel transport or ash disposal.  But it could not have produced electric power at a remotely comparable price to coal.  This is a fact that has never really changed in the 140 years that it has been possible.  The problem is that most renewable energy sources are inherently inferior to concentrated fuels.  They have low power density and large energy investments are required to overcome intermittency and large energy losses are accrued in the process.

New nuclear energy appears relatively expensive in the western world, because (1) there are no scale economies on new nuclear power systems, few have been built in recent years; (2) nuclear energy is overburdened by authoritarian control in most countries.  This stems from the fact that people are generally terrified of these things going wrong and assume that the best way of making them safe is to drown them in red tape.  There is nothing inherently expensive about nuclear energy.  It is expensive because we have screwed it up.

Last edited by Antius (2017-11-14 19:09:53)

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#14 2017-11-15 12:37:06

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,135

Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Louis,

Insurance didn't help the people on Puerto Rico, did it?  When you make dumb decisions about what type(s) of energy to use (solar panels, wind farms, or generators that require fossil fuels on an island hundreds of miles from the mainland) and how you construct your power distribution infrastructure (above ground power lines, a point where GW and I will have to agree to disagree), you're forced to contend with lots of very real negative consequences.  Excluding nuclear weapons production accidents (Apparently the most powerful weapons ever created can be dangerous...  Who could've guessed that weapons can be dangerous?), there haven't been any deaths from nuclear power related to radiation release incidents here in the US for about the past half century or so.

My cost analysis of using nuclear power includes using the waste products as fuel, as is already being done in plain old PWR's and BWR's with solid fuel rods.  Once again, using 1970's nuclear reactor tech eliminates about 90% of the waste products and nearly all of the long-lived waste products.  Sooner or later, someone with two working brain cells that have a chance encounter with each other will decide to use it.  The Chinese and Indians, people who simply need lots of power and don't care if they have to pay more upfront to get something better, are actively working on Thorium fueled reactors.  They don't have enough money to try to create a solar powered fantasy world just to satisfy agendas.  They'll use whatever they can get their hands on that works well, including solar panels.

Pretending that solar and wind are cost competitive with nuclear requires one to completely ignore the price tags attached to what they're buying or be mathematically illiterate.  Fools and their money are easily separated from each other, so I'm not taking investment advice from the people who are trying, knowingly or unknowingly, to bankrupt the western world to prove that capitalism doesn't work.

If the idiots running the world ever fail to intercept an incoming asteroid of any significant size, launch nuclear weapons at each other in any appreciable numbers, or a major volcano eruption occurs, we're rapidly going to discover that those solar panels and wind farms are about as valuable to their owners as a vehicle with square wheels would be.

Regarding the coal, I think you're ignoring the wars fought over there wherein the Europeans were busy offing each other in record numbers.  That may have had a little something to do with the poverty level.  When you utterly obliterate all of your industrial base, or use it in self destructive ways, and kill off a major percentage of your working population, life will be harder.  Machines can obviously do more work than humans can do with their bare hands, but pray tell what sources of energy you think permitted industrialization to flourish, because I don't recall solar panels being available in the 1800's.  I the availability of coal, oil, and electricity contributed greatly to modern society.  It was a means to an end and now it's time to move on to better things.  That said, we need to be honest with ourselves about how well things actually work in practice.

I agree on your points about Mr. Musk.  I think he's a national treasure.

Anyway, you keep talking about this future where solar panels and batteries will cost less than nuclear power, but we're not there yet and no amount of ignoring the numbers, using provably false numbers, or speculation on the future will solve the problem.  As demand for electricity skyrockets when we start going all-electric, will the prices will continue to fall forever or will someone start charging a premium?  Has such always been the case in the past?  If not, then would that explain why the price of just about everything continues to go up, understanding of course, that prices are somewhat arbitrary since humans are controlling them?  Did you ever take Economics or Macro Economics 101 in college wherein basic laws of supply and demand were explained?  We're in no danger of running out of the metals required for solar panels and batteries, but when demand increases dramatically, prices also typically increase.

SpaceNut,

I don't work off of estimates.  I work off of what things that have been constructed in the same time period actually cost the investors and what they actually produced as output.  That's the great advantage of having real data to work with.  If a solar plant was supposed to produce 1,500MWe at nameplate capacity, but only produced 380MWe in its best year, and also cost $2.5B to construct, and also requires batteries or the construction of a gas turbine peaker plant to continue to produce at night, then we could logically conclude that a nuclear reactor that cost $5B and actually produces 1000MWe continuously, as in 24/7 for 18 months between refueling cycles, is probably a less costly total investment, even if it costs more up front.

Topaz Solar Farm cost $2.4B to construct between 2011 and 2014, has a nameplate capacity of 550MWe, and actually produced 1,265GWh in all of 2016.

Watts Bar #2 cost $4.7B to construct between 2012 and 2016, has a nameplate capacity of 1,218MWe, and in the 73 days that Watts Bar #2 was commercially certified to produce utility electric power in 2016, it produced 1,962GWh of electricity because it ran at near 100% of its capacity because unlike solar panels it actually can do that, 24/7.

Do you see how ridiculous the output disparity is for a given cost?

If the extra $2.3B was spent on another solar farm, let's call it Topaz #2, it would be equivalent to just 5 months of operation of Watts Bar #2.

If another $4.6B was spent on Topaz #3 and Topaz #4, for a total cost of $9.3B, then you still can't get e output equivalent to one of the Watts Bar reactors over the course of a year.

Does that look like a bad investment to anyone else but me?  Double the cost for less than equivalent output?  The total cost of all construction at Watts Bar is $12B.  That means more than $20B in solar farms are required to provide equivalent output.  Those are real numbers, not something I made up because I have some sort of personal preference of one over the other or a bone to pick with anyone.  I, as a consumer, just want cheap electricity and I don't give a damn how it's made as long as it doesn't excessively pollute the environment.  We already know that extraction and burning of natural gas and fly ash from (edit: meant to say "coal", not "fossil") fuel power plants spew more radiation into the air than nuclear ever has, even with the handful of accidents.

We can pay more than double what nuclear plants actually cost to construct up front, which still leaves us with nothing at night unless we spend even more money, or we can admit that some things just cost more than others and we don't want to pay premiums for basic utilities.  Some of this stuff is so elementary that a kid still in grammar school should be able to figure it out using the numbers and a calculator.

Last edited by kbd512 (2017-11-15 12:40:11)

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#15 2017-11-15 15:47:29

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 941

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

kbd 512; BRAVO! Thanks for doing the number crunching most of us others were just not doing. This is an excellent precis of why we should also do nuclear on Mars.

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#16 2017-11-15 18:00:08

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,599

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

Insurance didn't help the people on Puerto Rico, did it?  When you make dumb decisions about what type(s) of energy to use (solar panels, wind farms, or generators that require fossil fuels on an island hundreds of miles from the mainland) and how you construct your power distribution infrastructure (above ground power lines, a point where GW and I will have to agree to disagree), you're forced to contend with lots of very real negative consequences.  Excluding nuclear weapons production accidents (Apparently the most powerful weapons ever created can be dangerous...  Who could've guessed that weapons can be dangerous?), there haven't been any deaths from nuclear power related to radiation release incidents here in the US for about the past half century or so.

The wind turbines kept turning during and after the Japanese tsunami while the 9GW nuclear facility ground to a halt.

My cost analysis of using nuclear power includes using the waste products as fuel, as is already being done in plain old PWR's and BWR's with solid fuel rods.  Once again, using 1970's nuclear reactor tech eliminates about 90% of the waste products and nearly all of the long-lived waste products.  Sooner or later, someone with two working brain cells that have a chance encounter with each other will decide to use it.  The Chinese and Indians, people who simply need lots of power and don't care if they have to pay more upfront to get something better, are actively working on Thorium fueled reactors.  They don't have enough money to try to create a solar powered fantasy world just to satisfy agendas.  They'll use whatever they can get their hands on that works well, including solar panels.

You're expressing hypotheticals, not looking at the reality. I've been hearing this nonsense about the Indians being on the verge of a thorium reactor breakthrough for many years now - at least 10. It's getting like hot fusion promises.  You don't seem to appreciate how a small cost running over 1000 years might add up to rather a lot of money. Who is supposed to take on that cost?

India plans to increase its solar power capacity to 200GW by 2050.

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6220

China already has 79GW capacity.

I'm not sure what decade you are living in.

Pretending that solar and wind are cost competitive with nuclear requires one to completely ignore the price tags attached to what they're buying or be mathematically illiterate.  Fools and their money are easily separated from each other, so I'm not taking investment advice from the people who are trying, knowingly or unknowingly, to bankrupt the western world to prove that capitalism doesn't work.

That's completely paranoid. Last time I looked the main energy users in Denmark and Germany were capitalist firms.  The USA is growing well as it expands solar power capacity at a fast rate (around 15GW per annum).

If the idiots running the world ever fail to intercept an incoming asteroid of any significant size, launch nuclear weapons at each other in any appreciable numbers, or a major volcano eruption occurs, we're rapidly going to discover that those solar panels and wind farms are about as valuable to their owners as a vehicle with square wheels would be.

If the idiots running Europe or the USA ever allow terrorists to get their hands on a nuclear power station, then you can find half of continental USA or Western Europe by population becoming uninhabitable. That's a much more credible threat. An asteroid strike will in any case create tsunamis - and we know how vulnerable coastal nuclear power stations are to those.

Regarding the coal, I think you're ignoring the wars fought over there wherein the Europeans were busy offing each other in record numbers.  That may have had a little something to do with the poverty level.  When you utterly obliterate all of your industrial base, or use it in self destructive ways, and kill off a major percentage of your working population, life will be harder.  Machines can obviously do more work than humans can do with their bare hands, but pray tell what sources of energy you think permitted industrialization to flourish, because I don't recall solar panels being available in the 1800's.  I the availability of coal, oil, and electricity contributed greatly to modern society.  It was a means to an end and now it's time to move on to better things.  That said, we need to be honest with ourselves about how well things actually work in practice.

Poverty reduced in both world wars, at least in the UK. I think you are desperately scrabbling around for evidence that isn't there.

Anyway, you keep talking about this future where solar panels and batteries will cost less than nuclear power, but we're not there yet and no amount of ignoring the numbers, using provably false numbers, or speculation on the future will solve the problem.  As demand for electricity skyrockets when we start going all-electric, will the prices will continue to fall forever or will someone start charging a premium?  Has such always been the case in the past?  If not, then would that explain why the price of just about everything continues to go up, understanding of course, that prices are somewhat arbitrary since humans are controlling them?  Did you ever take Economics or Macro Economics 101 in college wherein basic laws of supply and demand were explained?  We're in no danger of running out of the metals required for solar panels and batteries, but when demand increases dramatically, prices also typically increase.

My point is that long before you get to the point where you are replacing all baseload with solar plus batteries you will be increasing the green energy proportion as we see in Denmark and Germany. Each country will be different as to how easy it is to do that.

I don't work off of estimates.  I work off of what things that have been constructed in the same time period actually cost the investors and what they actually produced as output.  That's the great advantage of having real data to work with.  If a solar plant was supposed to produce 1,500MWe at nameplate capacity, but only produced 380MWe in its best year, and also cost $2.5B to construct, and also requires batteries or the construction of a gas turbine peaker plant to continue to produce at night, then we could logically conclude that a nuclear reactor that cost $5B and actually produces 1000MWe continuously, as in 24/7 for 18 months between refueling cycles, is probably a less costly total investment, even if it costs more up front.

Topaz Solar Farm cost $2.4B to construct between 2011 and 2014, has a nameplate capacity of 550MWe, and actually produced 1,265GWh in all of 2016.

Watts Bar #2 cost $4.7B to construct between 2012 and 2016, has a nameplate capacity of 1,218MWe, and in the 73 days that Watts Bar #2 was commercially certified to produce utility electric power in 2016, it produced 1,962GWh of electricity because it ran at near 100% of its capacity because unlike solar panels it actually can do that, 24/7.

Do you see how ridiculous the output disparity is for a given cost?

If the extra $2.3B was spent on another solar farm, let's call it Topaz #2, it would be equivalent to just 5 months of operation of Watts Bar #2.

If another $4.6B was spent on Topaz #3 and Topaz #4, for a total cost of $9.3B, then you still can't get e output equivalent to one of the Watts Bar reactors over the course of a year.

Does that look like a bad investment to anyone else but me?  Double the cost for less than equivalent output?  The total cost of all construction at Watts Bar is $12B.  That means more than $20B in solar farms are required to provide equivalent output.  Those are real numbers, not something I made up because I have some sort of personal preference of one over the other or a bone to pick with anyone.  I, as a consumer, just want cheap electricity and I don't give a damn how it's made as long as it doesn't excessively pollute the environment.  We already know that extraction and burning of natural gas and fly ash from (edit: meant to say "coal", not "fossil") fuel power plants spew more radiation into the air than nuclear ever has, even with the handful of accidents.

We can pay more than double what nuclear plants actually cost to construct up front, which still leaves us with nothing at night unless we spend even more money, or we can admit that some things just cost more than others and we don't want to pay premiums for basic utilities.  Some of this stuff is so elementary that a kid still in grammar school should be able to figure it out using the numbers and a calculator.

Let's look at real costs:

The "new nuclear" facility at Hinkley Point C in the UK - supposedly the most up to date in the world - is likely to cost at least £20 billion for 3.3 GW capacity.  The electricity will be sold at a locked in price of £92.50 per megawatt hour minimum.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/201 … t-delayed/

Wind energy does much better than that and the lower end of solar is already competitive with nuclear.

https://c1cleantechnicacom-wpengine.net … d-copy.png

Yes, you have to address intermittency, but that does not have to be addressed wholly by battery storage.  In terms of cost, it's about as cheap to build natural gas and wind energy facilities so that the intermittency problem is coveredas it is to build nuclear and you avoid the threat of catastrophic failure.  That is a short to medium approach. You can also develop transmission connections to neighbouring grids to improve the resilience of your own grid, as the UK  is doing with respect to Norway and Iceland.  But the intermittency problem does not have to be solved in one year, 5 years or 10 years. This is an evolution that will take two or three decades.

Last edited by louis (2017-11-15 18:11:23)


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#17 2017-11-15 19:56:48

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 10,527

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Do you have fuel costs and replacement time periods for the nuclear plant, life time of the reactor to decomissioning and finally mothballing costs or destruction costs.

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#18 2017-11-15 20:08:43

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,135

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Oldfart1939,

Waiting an extra year and spending a little more upfront to get the stupendous output difference is not a bad idea.  I cringe when I see the price tags attached to all of this stuff, whether it's coal, gas, nuclear, solar, or wind.  It's all insanely expensive.  The only question is just how ridiculous the energy prices will get for the same service.  I get the sense that there are some who want to make energy unaffordably expensive for the poor, essentially to kill them using energy economics.  Unfortunately, the poor are a growing segment of society here and elsewhere precisely because we have so much general ignorance about what things cost, what takes priority, and how we can possibly pay for what we need.  I want to avoid the next world war over natural resources or revolts by the poor because we're literally killing them.

The essentially brand-new AC units are, by far, the most power hungry systems we have in our home.  All the lights and electronics don't hold a candle to the consumption of those things in the heat of a Texas summer.  Even so, I invested in LED lights to further cut consumption and reduce waste heat generation since our home has so many flood lights.  Our power consumption was roughly 750kWh/month in the summer months, which is a good chunk of the year in Houston.  After we had the new windows and AC units installed, we're down to 500kWh/month or less in our worst months.  I have a couple more weatherization improvements to make to the doors and will install a radiant barrier in the attic this winter.  That might knock another 50kWh/month to 100kWh/month or so off the consumption in the summer.  It's a nice house, or so I've been told, but it obviously wasn't designed with energy efficiency in mind.  Mostly, it's just an endless money pit.

I would love to have my own home solar power system complete with battery storage, but my investment decisions are based upon dollars spent for capability provided.  Right now, the battery prices are still too expensive to justify an investment in battery storage.  Next year, assuming the economy doesn't tank, we're going to start construction on a 5kWe home solar panel system and build capacity as we have funds available.  The prices for electricity continue to rise, mostly as a result of power utility investment decisions that simply don't work at the macro scale, so there's no time like the present to reduce our dependency on the grid for electrical power.  My goal is to flatten the demand curve for our grid power and Houston weather and insolation is (mostly) amenable to that goal.

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#19 2017-11-15 20:54:29

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 10,527

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

My daily use before A/C or Heat for the minimum I use is at 30 Kwh a day ( 900Kwh monthly) to which here we have reduced the A/C in summer to near zero and most of the heating to minimal in winter use as its just to much to payout percentage wise out of the pay that I get each week.

Energy Use by State and by Source, 2006

U.S. electricity generation by energy source

  • Major energy sources and percent shares of U.S. electricity generation at utility-scale facilities in 20161

        Natural gas = 33.8%
        Coal = 30.4%
        Nuclear = 19.7%
        Renewables (total) = 14.9%
            Hydropower = 6.5%
            Wind = 5.6%
            Biomass = 1.5%
            Solar  = 0.9%
            Geothermal = 0.4%
        Petroleum = 0.6%
        Other gases = 0.3%
        Other nonrenewable sources = 0.3%
        Pumped storage hydroelectricity = -0.2%4

Energy Source Cost Comparisons
page 10 summarizes all types of sources.

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#20 2017-11-15 21:25:01

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,135

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

louis wrote:

The wind turbines kept turning during and after the Japanese tsunami while the 9GW nuclear facility ground to a halt.

TEPCO was warned by US nuclear engineers to increase the height of the sea wall and they did nothing.  That's like submerging a jet engine in the ocean and then complaining that it doesn't work.  In any event, human stupidity following the tsunami is what caused the damage to the plants.  Elon Musk said he thought they should turn the remaining reactors back on, so long as the engineering problems were fixed, and I provided a link to that.  Why would one of the most ardent advocates of solar power recommend that?  Is it because he's a brilliant engineer who knows a thing or two about how the real world actually works?

Solar panels are essentially wings in a hurricane and wind turbine blades are wings.  None have fared well in hurricane force winds and the fossil fuel powered plants go offline the moment the next shipment of oil fails to arrive on schedule.  A wrecked power plant is a wrecked power plant.

Gen IV molten salt nuclear reactors don't need water for coolant so they don't need to be anywhere near water, don't use pressure vessels, eat most of their own waste, produce very little long lived waste, can't melt down as a function of how the reaction works, and can use Thorium as a far less expensive fuel.  That pretty much solves all the engineering problems that Gen II reactors had and addresses the failure modes of those designs.

louis wrote:

You're expressing hypotheticals, not looking at the reality. I've been hearing this nonsense about the Indians being on the verge of a thorium reactor breakthrough for many years now - at least 10. It's getting like hot fusion promises.  You don't seem to appreciate how a small cost running over 1000 years might add up to rather a lot of money. Who is supposed to take on that cost?

The First Thorium Salt Reactors in Over 40 Years Were Just Switched on in Europe

Are the Europeans idiots, too?

China carrying forward with large scale development of nuclear energy from US research that has been underdeveloped

And the Chinese?

louis wrote:

I'm not sure what decade you are living in.

We're living in the decade where nuclear power is taking off in countries that aren't deliberately trying to prevent its use.

louis wrote:

That's completely paranoid. Last time I looked the main energy users in Denmark and Germany were capitalist firms.  The USA is growing well as it expands solar power capacity at a fast rate (around 15GW per annum).

There's a difference between countries with governmental bodies comprised of people that believe in the system and countries where the leadership subverts every aspect of the system that runs counter to their socialist agendas.

louis wrote:

If the idiots running Europe or the USA ever allow terrorists to get their hands on a nuclear power station, then you can find half of continental USA or Western Europe by population becoming uninhabitable. That's a much more credible threat. An asteroid strike will in any case create tsunamis - and we know how vulnerable coastal nuclear power stations are to those.

You haven't embraced "multi-deathturalism" in the UK thanks to our muslim immigrant "friends"?  Anyway, we kill people for far less than trying to get their hands on nuclear materials here in Murica, so I'm not overly concerned about that.  Shooting people is something of a national pastime.  Has such a thing ever happened in Europe?

louis wrote:

Poverty reduced in both world wars, at least in the UK. I think you are desperately scrabbling around for evidence that isn't there.

I think you're too ideologically motivated to even consider any evidence that doesn't suit your personal proclivities.  My "ideology" is inexpensive and abundant energy that's cleaner than fossil fuels.  Nuclear power beats the pants off all the existing alternatives when governments permit it to exist.

China is building new nuclear reactors at a record rate.  Their people don't care about what solar panels and batteries might be capable of one day.  They'll use anything they can get their hands on that doesn't spew pollution into the atmosphere because their people are dying over there every day from pollution.  They can't wait another three decades for a solution that competes with nuclear.

louis wrote:

My point is that long before you get to the point where you are replacing all baseload with solar plus batteries you will be increasing the green energy proportion as we see in Denmark and Germany. Each country will be different as to how easy it is to do that.

The only people who will be seeing loads of green will be those fossil fuel suppliers.  There's nothing "green" about sucking down fossil fuels at record rates.  Deutschland is building more coal plants because that's the only other real alternative to nuclear power.

louis wrote:

Let's look at real costs:

That's what I've been doing.  You've been busy ignoring them because they don't fit your argument.  You brought up construction costs and basic math smacked down that argument.  We've already gone over LCOE.  Again, basic math using real numbers, not what something might cost with technology that doesn't exist or plants that haven't been built or a future that hasn't happened.  LCOE includes the cost of EVERYTHING to run a power plant, because it has to.

The people who run these numbers, look at output and total cost, both construction and maintenance.

louis wrote:

The "new nuclear" facility at Hinkley Point C in the UK - supposedly the most up to date in the world - is likely to cost at least £20 billion for 3.3 GW capacity.  The electricity will be sold at a locked in price of £92.50 per megawatt hour minimum.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/201 … t-delayed/

Wind energy does much better than that and the lower end of solar is already competitive with nuclear.

https://c1cleantechnicacom-wpengine.net … d-copy.png

I get my numbers from our government, not one man's spreadsheet or a data point.  Europeans over-pay for everything because they always come up with gold plated solutions to their problems, much the same way we Americans over-pay for gold plated military technology.  They also have lots of make-work projects

louis wrote:

Yes, you have to address intermittency, but that does not have to be addressed wholly by battery storage.  In terms of cost, it's about as cheap to build natural gas and wind energy facilities so that the intermittency problem is coveredas it is to build nuclear and you avoid the threat of catastrophic failure.  That is a short to medium approach. You can also develop transmission connections to neighbouring grids to improve the resilience of your own grid, as the UK  is doing with respect to Norway and Iceland.  But the intermittency problem does not have to be solved in one year, 5 years or 10 years. This is an evolution that will take two or three decades.

Nuclear power solves the intermittency problem right now, as in today.  No new battery technology that has never existed is required and guzzling more fossil fuels is not required.

What have those "grid interconnections" cost?

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#21 2017-11-15 22:18:30

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,135

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

SpaceNut wrote:

Do you have fuel costs and replacement time periods for the nuclear plant, life time of the reactor to decomissioning and finally mothballing costs or destruction costs.

SpaceNut,

Fuel costs vary by plant because we're not using standardized fuel.  That's part of the problem with solid fuel reactors.  Some use natural Uranium like CANDU, but most use LEU.  Even at that, no 2 fuel elements are exactly the same.  They basically hand fabricate them, albeit with the help of machines.

A 1,000MWe reactor uses approximately 20,000t/yr, so roughly $60M for the fabricated fuel elements at $3K/kg, but it varies between $2K/kg and $4K/kg.  That's the cost of the fabricated fuel elements, not the cost of the enriched Uranium, which is much lower than that.

1t of Thorium provides about the same amount of fissionable material as about 200t of Uranium, if the reactor requires LEU.  Th232 is about three times as abundant as Uranium, so the cost of the raw material is pretty low.  For inquiring minds, LEU ranges between $150/kg and $250/kg.  I haven't considered prices for the ores or refined materials because those require refinement and transformation into fuel rod assemblies if we stick with solid fuel elements, which is kinda dumb since powder mixed with a molten salt is far less costly to fabricate.  Basically, powders are no more expensive than the refined ores.

There are European test reactors consuming U233 produced from Th232 as I write this.  It works just as well today as it did in the 1970's at Oak Ridge, but in a solid fuel rod assembly.  Every test and quality control check devised has been met with success.

Refueling cycles are roughly every 18 months and last 30 to 60 days.  The refueling process doesn't take that long, but the offline periods are necessary for routine maintenance and most of that work is a function of using pressurized water.  Those figures are very representative of how actual commercial nuclear reactors in the US work.  Cracking in the fuel elements is what mandates removal from the core.  95% to 97% of the energy content of the Uranium fuel in the rod remains after removal from the core.  A fuel mixed with salt solutions won't require offline periods except for maintenance on core components.

Most reactors have minimum design service lives of 3 to 5 decades, but apparently we're going to run some of them for another 5 to 7 decades.  A half century to a century is about what can be expected with routine maintenance, but there is a limit.

NRC estimates for decommissioning costs vary, but ceasing operations consistently costs $250M to $500M.  It's not cheap.

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#22 2017-11-16 03:50:01

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 2,599

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

"None have fared well in hurricane winds..."?  Please do some research - Cuba's two wind farms survived Hurricane Sandy:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferhi … 42ec8d7ad1

How much do you think it costs to build a sea wall that can protect a huge installation like the one in Japan from all tsunamis in an Earthquake zone?  You will be talking billions of dollars I suspect and creating all sorts of problems for the local communities.

The amount of nuclear power capacity/energy produced across the world has basically flat lined now for several decades. 

https://www.euronuclear.org/info/encycl … d-wide.htm

Leaving aside green energy, why would anyone choose nuclear over gas?  Nuclear power is chosen for strategic reasons and that's about it.

I'll believe commercial thorium when I see it.

China (Communist), North Korea (Communist) and Iran (Islamist) seems about the most enthusiastic builder of nuclear facilities in recent years.

The danger of Islamic or other terrorism, is not just about assault from outside but infiltration either through direct human agency (employees of the organisation managing the power station) or via computer hacking.

Actually there was a huge reduction in use of coal for electricity generation in Gerrmany between 2015 and 2016 - a drop of more than 16 TwHs.  Gas was up. That makes sense. Renewables accounted for 33%. All major European countries have plans to phase out petrol/diesel usage for road vehicles by 2040.  This is only going one way.

Despite the "intermittency" issue, neither Denmark nor Germany have suffered any significant outage since renewables became a major source of electricity generation.

It's true grid connections are costly but so is cleaning up after a major nuclear power incident:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-38131248

The clean up following the Fukushima disaster is estimated by the Japanese government to cost $180billion.

That was, in my view, a fairly minor disaster in a relatively unpopulated area compared with what could happen in Western Europe or Eastern USA.





kbd512 wrote:
louis wrote:

The wind turbines kept turning during and after the Japanese tsunami while the 9GW nuclear facility ground to a halt.

TEPCO was warned by US nuclear engineers to increase the height of the sea wall and they did nothing.  That's like submerging a jet engine in the ocean and then complaining that it doesn't work.  In any event, human stupidity following the tsunami is what caused the damage to the plants.  Elon Musk said he thought they should turn the remaining reactors back on, so long as the engineering problems were fixed, and I provided a link to that.  Why would one of the most ardent advocates of solar power recommend that?  Is it because he's a brilliant engineer who knows a thing or two about how the real world actually works?

Solar panels are essentially wings in a hurricane and wind turbine blades are wings.  None have fared well in hurricane force winds and the fossil fuel powered plants go offline the moment the next shipment of oil fails to arrive on schedule.  A wrecked power plant is a wrecked power plant.

Gen IV molten salt nuclear reactors don't need water for coolant so they don't need to be anywhere near water, don't use pressure vessels, eat most of their own waste, produce very little long lived waste, can't melt down as a function of how the reaction works, and can use Thorium as a far less expensive fuel.  That pretty much solves all the engineering problems that Gen II reactors had and addresses the failure modes of those designs.

louis wrote:

You're expressing hypotheticals, not looking at the reality. I've been hearing this nonsense about the Indians being on the verge of a thorium reactor breakthrough for many years now - at least 10. It's getting like hot fusion promises.  You don't seem to appreciate how a small cost running over 1000 years might add up to rather a lot of money. Who is supposed to take on that cost?

The First Thorium Salt Reactors in Over 40 Years Were Just Switched on in Europe

Are the Europeans idiots, too?

China carrying forward with large scale development of nuclear energy from US research that has been underdeveloped

And the Chinese?

louis wrote:

I'm not sure what decade you are living in.

We're living in the decade where nuclear power is taking off in countries that aren't deliberately trying to prevent its use.

louis wrote:

That's completely paranoid. Last time I looked the main energy users in Denmark and Germany were capitalist firms.  The USA is growing well as it expands solar power capacity at a fast rate (around 15GW per annum).

There's a difference between countries with governmental bodies comprised of people that believe in the system and countries where the leadership subverts every aspect of the system that runs counter to their socialist agendas.

louis wrote:

If the idiots running Europe or the USA ever allow terrorists to get their hands on a nuclear power station, then you can find half of continental USA or Western Europe by population becoming uninhabitable. That's a much more credible threat. An asteroid strike will in any case create tsunamis - and we know how vulnerable coastal nuclear power stations are to those.

You haven't embraced "multi-deathturalism" in the UK thanks to our muslim immigrant "friends"?  Anyway, we kill people for far less than trying to get their hands on nuclear materials here in Murica, so I'm not overly concerned about that.  Shooting people is something of a national pastime.  Has such a thing ever happened in Europe?

louis wrote:

Poverty reduced in both world wars, at least in the UK. I think you are desperately scrabbling around for evidence that isn't there.

I think you're too ideologically motivated to even consider any evidence that doesn't suit your personal proclivities.  My "ideology" is inexpensive and abundant energy that's cleaner than fossil fuels.  Nuclear power beats the pants off all the existing alternatives when governments permit it to exist.

China is building new nuclear reactors at a record rate.  Their people don't care about what solar panels and batteries might be capable of one day.  They'll use anything they can get their hands on that doesn't spew pollution into the atmosphere because their people are dying over there every day from pollution.  They can't wait another three decades for a solution that competes with nuclear.

louis wrote:

My point is that long before you get to the point where you are replacing all baseload with solar plus batteries you will be increasing the green energy proportion as we see in Denmark and Germany. Each country will be different as to how easy it is to do that.

The only people who will be seeing loads of green will be those fossil fuel suppliers.  There's nothing "green" about sucking down fossil fuels at record rates.  Deutschland is building more coal plants because that's the only other real alternative to nuclear power.

louis wrote:

Let's look at real costs:

That's what I've been doing.  You've been busy ignoring them because they don't fit your argument.  You brought up construction costs and basic math smacked down that argument.  We've already gone over LCOE.  Again, basic math using real numbers, not what something might cost with technology that doesn't exist or plants that haven't been built or a future that hasn't happened.  LCOE includes the cost of EVERYTHING to run a power plant, because it has to.

The people who run these numbers, look at output and total cost, both construction and maintenance.

louis wrote:

The "new nuclear" facility at Hinkley Point C in the UK - supposedly the most up to date in the world - is likely to cost at least £20 billion for 3.3 GW capacity.  The electricity will be sold at a locked in price of £92.50 per megawatt hour minimum.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/201 … t-delayed/

Wind energy does much better than that and the lower end of solar is already competitive with nuclear.

https://c1cleantechnicacom-wpengine.net … d-copy.png

I get my numbers from our government, not one man's spreadsheet or a data point.  Europeans over-pay for everything because they always come up with gold plated solutions to their problems, much the same way we Americans over-pay for gold plated military technology.  They also have lots of make-work projects

louis wrote:

Yes, you have to address intermittency, but that does not have to be addressed wholly by battery storage.  In terms of cost, it's about as cheap to build natural gas and wind energy facilities so that the intermittency problem is coveredas it is to build nuclear and you avoid the threat of catastrophic failure.  That is a short to medium approach. You can also develop transmission connections to neighbouring grids to improve the resilience of your own grid, as the UK  is doing with respect to Norway and Iceland.  But the intermittency problem does not have to be solved in one year, 5 years or 10 years. This is an evolution that will take two or three decades.

Nuclear power solves the intermittency problem right now, as in today.  No new battery technology that has never existed is required and guzzling more fossil fuels is not required.

What have those "grid interconnections" cost?


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#23 2017-11-16 12:13:43

Antius
Member
From: Cumbria, UK
Registered: 2007-05-22
Posts: 948

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Louis, lots of points here.  I will try and answer as many as time allows.  But you should honestly ask yourself whether your advocacy for solar power and wind power over nuclear energy are for rational reasons or are more down to the fact that you like the idea of it because it appeals to you on some emotional level.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that in itself; a lot of human decisions are made on that basis, such as the design of buildings, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, etc.  If we were only ever interested in practical efficiency the world would look very different.  But the decision in that case isn't really about the practical benefits / dis-benefits of the two energy sources and there is no point pretending that it is.

louis wrote:

How much do you think it costs to build a sea wall that can protect a huge installation like the one in Japan from all tsunamis in an Earthquake zone?  You will be talking billions of dollars I suspect and creating all sorts of problems for the local communities.

Had the Japanese planned ahead for what should have been a foreseeable event, the cost would have been pitifully small.  It would not have been expensive to protect diesel generators from the incoming tsunami and indeed, had the plant been constructed to modern standards, decay heat removal would have been accomplished through passive cooling.  The failure was due to a weak safety culture.  Ultimately, nuclear power plants, aeroplanes, cars, etc. are only as safe as we design them to be and things can be made better or worse by the operating organisation.

louis wrote:

The amount of nuclear power capacity/energy produced across the world has basically flat lined now for several decades.

In the western world, the amount of generating capacity of all kinds has been flat lining since the 1980s.   In the UK, Sizewell B which went critical in 1995 was the last large power plant completed that does not burn natural gas.  The problem is that this has not reduced electricity costs to consumers, which have been skyrocketing.

louis wrote:

Leaving aside green energy, why would anyone choose nuclear over gas?  Nuclear power is chosen for strategic reasons and that's about it.

Who wants to be at the mercy of Mr Putin?  If you are dependent upon imported gas for your electricity supply, then the risk of being cut off is hardly trivial.  It also means that you must export something to these people to pay for what you are importing.  The Germans have no problem in that respect, but the UK is in a much weaker position, thanks to our public industries being sold off to foreign owners by Madame Thatcher and Norman Lamont.

A LWR based nuclear electricity system will deliver substantially lower electricity costs compared to any other generating system, provided that two conditions are met: (1) Scale economies are exploited, such that continuous supply chains are developed for components and a skilled workforce is maintained; (2) The regulatory system is structured to avoid excessive extension of build times.  This is how the French achieved some of the lowest electricity prices in Europe and even reached a situation where they could profitably export electricity to other nations, like the UK and Germany.

But when those two conditions are not met, you get the situation that we see at Hinkley C, which will be competitive with most other electricity sources but is clearly no bargain.  It is a first of kind plant, with lots of technical issues that must be ironed out, no real UK supply chains and no established workforce capable of building it.  All those things push up cost massively, especially in the UK regulatory environment.

louis wrote:

I'll believe commercial thorium when I see it.

On this we think alike.  I don't believe a thorium fuel cycle has huge benefits over a uranium cycle.  It is a fertile material for one thing and will need a breeder reactor fuel cycle to work at all.  It can be made to work if we need it to, but it won't be the game changer that people think it is.

louis wrote:

China (Communist), North Korea (Communist) and Iran (Islamist) seems about the most enthusiastic builder of nuclear facilities in recent years.

Also Russia, India and South Korea.  Basically, those countries with regulatory regimes that don't drag out build times and invest persistently on a scale sufficient to build up supply chains and skilled workforce, are fertile ground for new nuclear power.  No power plant of any kind will be economically attractive if it takes 15 years to build and new suppliers must be established especially to cater for it.  For much the same reason, you won't find many new coal power plants being built in the US.  Rapid build times is one of the reasons offshore wind power looks better than it once did; but there are a lot of other fundamentals that go against it from a whole systems perspective.  But more on that later.

louis wrote:

The danger of Islamic or other terrorism, is not just about assault from outside but infiltration either through direct human agency (employees of the organisation managing the power station) or via computer hacking.

Islamic infiltration is a problem for a lot of reasons in the western world.  We have handed our countries over to aggressive third-world colonists that do not share any of our values.  It will cause no end of problems in years to come.

It is not impossible for terrorism to result in nuclear accidents, especially if they fly hijacked planes into nuke plants, although containment domes and LOCA protection systems are engineered to protect against these events in more modern plants.  Hacking is more a problem in terms of stealing commercially or militarily sensitive information.  It is unlikely to pose a direct hazard to a nuclear power plant because most electrical systems are hard wired and control computers are not web interfaced.  Direct sabotage is always possible, but nuclear reactor shutdown and cooling systems have enough redundancy and inherent safety to protect against this at a local level.

louis wrote:

Actually there was a huge reduction in use of coal for electricity generation in Gerrmany between 2015 and 2016 - a drop of more than 16 TwHs.  Gas was up. That makes sense. Renewables accounted for 33%.  All major European countries have plans to phase out petrol/diesel usage for road vehicles by 2040.  This is only going one way.
Despite the "intermittency" issue, neither Denmark nor Germany have suffered any significant outage since renewables became a major source of electricity generation.

Both Denmark and Germany have maintained substantial coal and natural gas power generation that is capable of meeting 100% of their peak demand.  They pay for this whether it is generating or not.  They also 'dump' renewable electricity onto other countries grids sometimes at negative prices (they have to pay others to accept it).  What the Germans have at present is essentially a coal/natural gas/nuclear based electricity system with solar and wind reducing the amount of fuel burned on an annual basis.  It does reduce CO2 emissions, but they would have cheaper electricity if they simply ran their fossil plants on a baseload profile.  Storage of electric power is achieved to a limited extent in Norwegian hydroelectric dams.  But this has reached limits that cannot easily be expanded.  There are presently no other technologies capable of storing bulk electric power in a remotely cost effective way.  For this reason, it will be physically difficult for the Germans to meet much more than 1/3rd of their electricity consumption with intermittent renewable energy.

louis wrote:

The clean up following the Fukushima disaster is estimated by the Japanese government to cost $180billion.
That was, in my view, a fairly minor disaster in a relatively unpopulated area compared with what could happen in Western Europe or Eastern USA.

Doubtful.  The Fukushima accident involved fuel damage in several reactors and fuel ponds simultaneously.  And Japan is hardly a lightly populated area.

It is possible to have a worse accident.  But then again, all sorts of nasty things are possible if you are interested in low frequency, high consequence events.  Devastating plagues, super volcanoes, meteorite strikes and less dramatic but ultimately damaging things, like an economic depression caused by poor abundance of energy.  All of these things could occur on a frequency much greater than a beyond design basis nuclear accident and would kill a lot more people.  What we are interested in is striking a balance that allows us to keep high living standards with the lowest risks that we can get away with.  Phasing out fossil fuels and nuclear power and living on 'natural' energy may be emotionally appealing, but if it does result in much more expensive energy and lower prosperity, it will cut human life expectancy dramatically, not to mention quality of life.  This would be completely counterproductive, since the assumed benefits of nuclear phase out are reducing accident risks that people fear could threaten their lives.

I carried out my own calculations of the consequences of the Fukushima accident, based upon the total activity deposited on the land, its ground shine effects and its uptake in locally grown food.  I assumed that no one moved out of the area between being born and dying and that the area had average Japanese population density.  I also assumed no other countermeasures.  I assumed a linear relationship between radiation dose and accrued cancer risk, with a radiation weighting factor of 5-10% per Sievert depending upon age group.  The results were 20,000 early fatalities – most of them occurring in the 10% of most heavily contaminated land – which amounted to a few hundred square km.  Half the fatalities would occur within 50 years of the event, 75% within 70 years and 90% within 90 years.  In the most heavily contaminated areas, a person living their whole life in the area, having been born at the time of the accident, would lose about 5 years of life expectancy.  The average person dying from cancer as a result of the radiation would lose 20 years of life expectancy.

This gives you an idea of the worst-credible consequences of a nuclear accident in a populated area if no one attempts to move away or take any countermeasures.  It all sounds quite dramatic until you realise that: (1) 200,000 people die every year in the US due to fossil fuel air pollution and globally, some 7 million people die every year due to air pollution; (2) Core damage frequency at a new nuclear power plant is something like 1 in 1million years.

At US population density levels, we would need to have a Fukushima every ten days or so to reach the mortality levels that we achieve by burning fossil fuels.  In Europe, the situation is much the same, because higher population density typically means dirtier air.

The reason for all this is simple: The fission products from a nuclear reactor are a million times more toxic than coal smoke, but are produced in a million times smaller quantities.  The fact that we contain them at all means that nuclear power will always be safer than fossil fuels.  Even if we built reactors that were carbon copies of Chernobyl, we would still be striking a much better balance between individual risk and prosperity than if we were to generate our energy from burning coal.

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#24 2017-11-16 12:39:32

Antius
Member
From: Cumbria, UK
Registered: 2007-05-22
Posts: 948

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

kbd512 wrote:

1t of Thorium provides about the same amount of fissionable material as about 200t of Uranium, if the reactor requires LEU.

Yes.  But 1t of natural U used in a breeder reactor of some kind will provide the same amount of energy as 1t of thorium used in a breeder reactor.  The difference is that you can use uranium without the complication of a breeder cycle, whereas you cannot use thorium without breeding.  There is no energetic advantage in using thorium.

The molten salt reactor has some promising attributes but is no panacea.  The original aircraft reactor experiments kept corrosion rates low by carefully controlling uranium oxidation state.  It lasted for months, not years.  For a commercial MSR you need to contain a complex molten mix of actinide and fission product halides in a stainless steel or nickel-alloy vessel for a period of decades without unacceptable corrosion levels.  That is a tall order.  Long-term materials degradation of primary circuit components is the number one problem that limits the life time of commercial nuclear reactors.  We have decades of experience with this in LWRs - enough for some vendors to reasonably assure 80 year lifespans for their new reactor plants.  It will be a long uphill struggle to achieve a commercial MSR that meet that sort of longevity.  The truth is that this reactor concept is still at prototype stage and it will be a very long time before commercial units are built in any number.

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#25 2017-11-16 13:50:53

kbd512
Member
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,135

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

louis wrote:

"None have fared well in hurricane winds..."?  Please do some research - Cuba's two wind farms survived Hurricane Sandy:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferhi … 42ec8d7ad1

Why were the wind turbines and solar panels on Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands so thoroughly damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey?

If nuclear power providers have to prepare for the worst case scenarios to prevent their plants from going off line, shouldn't that also apply to other providers since the result of loss of power for any significant time is always death and destruction?

louis wrote:

How much do you think it costs to build a sea wall that can protect a huge installation like the one in Japan from all tsunamis in an Earthquake zone?  You will be talking billions of dollars I suspect and creating all sorts of problems for the local communities.

I think it wouldn't have cost a dime since it was put there by nature.  Tepco spent money to remove it.

Tepco Tore Down the Natural Seawall Which Would Have Protected Fukushima from the Tsunami

Those idiots actually spent money to remove the sea wall that nature put there.  They lopped 25m off of the 35m sea wall that nature put there.  How's that for brilliance?  Tepco actually created a problem that didn't exist before they decided that the problem should exist.  Now we're "reaping the benefits" of their stupidity.  Humans are mostly a bunch of morons and I think you have a valid point there, even though I completely debunked your argument about what it would cost since the sea wall was free of cost until Tepco spent money to remove and replace it with something that wasn't high enough.

louis wrote:

The amount of nuclear power capacity/energy produced across the world has basically flat lined now for several decades. 

https://www.euronuclear.org/info/encycl … d-wide.htm

louis wrote:

Leaving aside green energy, why would anyone choose nuclear over gas?  Nuclear power is chosen for strategic reasons and that's about it.

Quite right.  Those "strategic reasons" include, first and foremost, supplying power for your people.

As for why you'd choose nuclear power, it's likely because it works so well.  Gas power plants require gas.  The climate changlings aren't leaving aside "green energy".  They're treating their agenda as a club to beat people over the head with, claiming that anyone who doesn't subscribe to their agenda doesn't care about their environment.  You want to consume more fossil fuels.  So either the climate changlings don't believe their own nonsense, and if it's not nonsense and they have a valid scientific point to make then their only solution (using the least energy dense form of power which also requires record consumption rates of fossil fuels) is the antithesis of what they say they want.

louis wrote:

I'll believe commercial thorium when I see it.

Look no further than what your fellow Europeans are doing with Thorium.  They're in the process of certifying Thorium for use in commercial light water reactors, whether you believe it or not.

louis wrote:

China (Communist), North Korea (Communist) and Iran (Islamist) seems about the most enthusiastic builder of nuclear facilities in recent years.

It is strange that these "backwards" Communists are intelligent enough to understand that when your people are desperate for clean electrical power that you select the most energy dense source known to man, not the least dense sources.

louis wrote:

The danger of Islamic or other terrorism, is not just about assault from outside but infiltration either through direct human agency (employees of the organisation managing the power station) or via computer hacking.

So why are we intentionally letting these foreign invaders into our countries to rape and murder?

louis wrote:

Actually there was a huge reduction in use of coal for electricity generation in Gerrmany between 2015 and 2016 - a drop of more than 16 TwHs.  Gas was up. That makes sense. Renewables accounted for 33%. All major European countries have plans to phase out petrol/diesel usage for road vehicles by 2040.  This is only going one way.

Yet another provably false claim:

France and Germany Turn to Coal

EXCLUSIVE: German Emissions Increase in 2016 Due to Nuclear Plant Closure

France and Germany are now using more coal.  They may also be using more natural gas.  Nuclear reactors are so powerful that you need multiple fossil fuel sources to replace them.  Neither of those events are good for the environment, so say the climate changlings.

louis wrote:

Despite the "intermittency" issue, neither Denmark nor Germany have suffered any significant outage since renewables became a major source of electricity generation.

When you start burning more coal and gas, intermittency is not a problem.  That's the opposite of what the climate changlings say we need.

louis wrote:

It's true grid connections are costly but so is cleaning up after a major nuclear power incident:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-38131248

Okay, but how expensive?  Recall that I'm not opposed to new ideas or spending a little bit more money up front to achieve a better end result.  I only care about the mathematics involved at the macro scale.  Don't cherry pick data points.  Provide an example where this grid upgrade has been completed, provide the number of customers serviced, and tell us what the price tag was.

louis wrote:

The clean up following the Fukushima disaster is estimated by the Japanese government to cost $180billion.

What percentage is actual cleanup costs versus litigation?

There's no limit to what law suits can cost.

louis wrote:

That was, in my view, a fairly minor disaster in a relatively unpopulated area compared with what could happen in Western Europe or Eastern USA.

These estimates keep fluctuating and the estimates vary wildly, yet nobody has identified exactly where the money is going and there don't seem to be any figures available for what the Japanese government is currently spending.  The only numbers I've seen to date indicate that more compensation money has been paid out to people who were evacuated than actual cleanup funds have been expended.

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