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Dominion Announces Plans To Close Kewaunee Nuclear Power Station In 2013

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the natural-gas-is-forever dept.

Power 217

An anonymous reader writes "Due to low electricity prices in the Midwest, and an inability to find a buyer for the power station, Dominion will be shutting down and decomissioning Kewaunee Nuclear Power Station. One of two operating nuclear power stations in Wisconsin, Kewaunee's license from the NRC was not due to expire until the end of 2033."

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Well... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41738913)

... the times of low electricity prices will then be over soon.

Re:Well... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41738951)

Not likely. The reason they're shutting it down is that it's being undercut by cheap natural gas. A small, single-reactor power plant is very inefficient. Most plants have two or more large reactors. Economy of scale.

Re:Well... (2)

nojayuk (567177) | about 2 years ago | (#41739133)

Current new-build reactors being constructed in China and elsewhere in the world generate three times as much electricity (1400MW) as this 1970s PWR does (550MW). The cost of fuel is trivial so the major expenses involved in running an older reactor are things like operating costs, staffing, maintenance and insurance which are similar or even greater than the newer designs due to economies of scale, rationalisation of design etc.

Re:Well... (3, Interesting)

trum4n (982031) | about 2 years ago | (#41739825)

The main issue is, they have no plan to replace it. They simply are lowering the electrical supply, and leaving it low, so they can claim they need to charge more.

Re:Well... (1)

QuantumPion (805098) | about 2 years ago | (#41739969)

How is Dominion going to charge more for electricity when once the plant is shut down they won't be producing any in Wisconsin?

Re:Well... (2)

trum4n (982031) | about 2 years ago | (#41740177)

From what i'm seeing, there is a solid chance they are buddy buddy with local power producers. Also, if there's less power made in Wisconsin, they will have to bring it in from outside sources.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740445)

So, basically we can rely on your sense of conspiracy theories and no facts. I'm in.

Re:Well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740037)

Current new-build reactors being constructed in China and elsewhere in the world generate three times as much electricity (1400MW) as this 1970s PWR does (550MW). The cost of fuel is trivial so the major expenses involved in running an older reactor are things like operating costs, staffing, maintenance and insurance which are similar or even greater than the newer designs due to economies of scale, rationalisation of design etc.

They won't be building one of those either. Or any other design.

This is about getting rid of an aging white elephant, not about selling more or cleaner power.

I'd respect them if they were planning an upgrade or a revision. Heck, I'd almost respect them for their forethought.

We won't get that either.

Re:Well... (1, Troll)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 years ago | (#41739461)

They are over but the real reason they are over is coal.

Even though coal is probably our shortest most reliable and secure path to energy independence and even though we have enough to meet our needs of several centuries, using the most conservative efforts. Men like Sherrod Brown and Obama are determined to make its use impossible.

Now add the fact that Government as well as the NIMBY crowd prevented the construction of new nuclear plants, resulting in an entire deployed base being near end of life all at the same time, coinciding with destructive energy policy around coal we will see intense pressure on our base load generating capacity. Its going to be an economic calamity for our country and represents a spectacular failure on the part of Private energy, Government, and individual interest groups within our society.

Pretty much everyone is to blame actually; for ounce we probably deserve the ass reaming we are all about to receive in the mail monthly for electricity.

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41739757)

...apart from all that pesky CO2.

Re:Well... (5, Informative)

chill (34294) | about 2 years ago | (#41740279)

Bullshit. Oh, and you forgot Mitt Romney's actions-that-speak-louder-than-lies position on coal plants [politifact.com] in your rush to make this a Democrat-only political football.

Coal is taking a hammering because they compete in exactly the same areas a natural gas. Natural Gas is at an all-time low in price and an all-time high in availability.

Two independent financial firms say the Marcellus isnâ(TM)t just the biggest natural gas field in the country â" itâ(TM)s the cheapest place for energy companies to drill.

The Marcellus could contain "almost half of the current proven natural gas reserves in the U.S," a report from Standard & Poorâ(TM)s issued last week said.

http://www.ohio.com/news/break-news/reports-marcellus-shale-reserves-larger-and-cheaper-to-develop-1.344086 [ohio.com]

Geology.com has reports [geology.com] of super-sized fields that are turning up there.

Output from the Marcellus - a rich seam of gas-bearing rock that straddles Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia - has jumped nearly ten fold since 2009, flooding pipelines and playing a central role in pushing futures prices to ten-year lows earlier this year.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/15/us-energy-natgas-marcellus-idUSBRE89E12B20121015 [reuters.com]

Local radio up in the Eastern West Virginia Panhandle has run stories about the switch from coal to natgas and the jobs issue. It starts with people who've been in the coal business for generations complaining about losing jobs -- then finishes with THOSE SAME PEOPLE saying they moved over to natgas jobs that PAY MORE and ARE SAFER. They just had an emotional tie to the coal, which has employed their families for generations which took some getting over.

People may bitch about fracking, but it doesn't hold a candle to the environmental damage caused by mountaintop removal and coal mining. Coal mining is also one of the single most dangerous jobs in the country.

The coal isn't going anywhere. It'll still be there if we ever need it. But pure economics is driving the industry to natural gas and coal is the primary loser -- and rightfully so. It is more expensive to produce, more dangerous to both the producers (miners) and end users (people who breathe), more difficult to transport in quantity (can't use pipelines), cleaner (natgas doesn't leave coal dust messes in homes that use it for heat) and all-around substandard to natural gas.

This is capitalism and the free market at work, baby. Or are you one of those planned-economy socialists longing for the good-old days of Marx, Lenin and Mao?

Re:Well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740395)

Ah yeah, coal.

1: Lots of allegations of pollution. Very nasty for the environment in every step of the process, from mining to transport to burning. The stuff in lignite coal (the good stuff is already gone) puts more nasty stuff in the air what most reactors use for fuel.

2: Coal leads some deaths/TW statistics. Nuclear leaves the fewest deaths.

3: We already passed peak coal.

Coal is nasty stuff. If it weren't for the fact that Carter put a permanent ban on any new plants out of a knee-jerk reaction to 3MI, we actually would have nuclear plants with technology that isn't fresh out of WWII and are not aging. We might be able to be reprocessing the spent fuel too, so Yucca Mountain efforts would not be needed.

Re:Well... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 2 years ago | (#41740463)

we have enough to meet our needs of several centuries, using the most conservative efforts. Men like Sherrod Brown and Obama are determined to make its use impossible.

GOOD

Actually releasing those several centuries of carbon into the atmosphere would be an unmitigated disaster, dwarfing any conceivable so-called "economic calamity" caused by using energy sources that cost a little more.

As far as nuclear power's viability to solve the world's energy problems, I offer one word: Iran.

Re:Well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739515)

In my machine shop (in the midwest), every machine runs on electricity, and my electric bill is 4-figures every month.

They don't even bring Natural Gas to our area. We use a combination of electric and LP heat.

So I am not sure how your idea of economies of scale plays out regarding natural gas as the competitor.

Might be instead that if you build an expensive power plant with excess capacity and then cannot sell it at a the high rate you require...you can't stay open.

Re:Well... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739819)

And the other part of the reason, you close a producing plant is to drive up the cost of bying on the speculation market. In the midwest we are not as dumb as you think, but there is big, with a capital b, money to be made on shortages, such as the coming food shortage in the US, and a few bain capitals that bet again the US, by making laws easier to transfer capital out of the us,will be eating their steaks of their ground, and bad mouthing the other party for doing nothing while the country burns. I'tll be such fun seeing them destroy the US of A by their tatics. Such good americans, will follow a mustachioed H or a The royal Hirio, or the tinfoil M.

Re:Well... (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#41739873)

They don't need to bring natural gas to your shop, or even to your area. They just need to bring it to the power plant. The wires that are currently in place will bring that power to you.

Re:Well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739981)

He's not talking about running your shop on nat gas. It is becoming fairly common to build natural gas generating facilities. They generate electricity that is then transmitted and distributed by your local electrical utility. The reason your bill is 4 digits every month is that A) you use a lot of electricity, and B) the cost of that electricity is steadily increasing because of low supply, high demand, regulatory requirments, environmentalism, and political leveraging.

Environmentalists stone wall just about any project that might produce electricity. Want a build a nuclear plant? Ha, forget about it, not in my back yard. They tie these companies up in legal battles that last decades. To a certain extent it's hard to disagree with that stance. We don't know what to do with the waste, it remains deadly for hundreds if not thousands of years, and oh by the way we're going to store it a mile or two from where you live. Is that ok with you? Um, no. Not really.

But then they don't like coal either. The environment requirments have become so stringent that it's no longer economically viable to run a coal plant. Before you go all environmentalist on me consider that coal plants (especially new ones) are far more efficient and pollute less than they used to. They also don't like hydro. How can you not like hydro? It's renewable, it doesn't generate waste or pollute the environment. Sure, but it kills the fish. Seriously???? WTF??? I happen to work for a utility (however the opinions expressed are mine and not necessarily theirs) and one of our departments is devoted to replentishing the fish we inadvertantly kill with hydro generation. I suspect that we repopulate over 10000 times what we kill, but it is good for our local fishermen (and subsidised by your electric bill).

Wind? Kills the birds, and ruins our view. Wind has other problems that most environmentalists don't even think about. For one thing it's not constant. You can't base load a wind farm because you never know when it's going to speed up or slow down. The only way wind works in an electrical grid is to use something else that is controllable; to increase to meet demand, or scale back when demand is less. This happens in real time, and it's somewhat painful to chase. For our specific utility this means using hydro as our reserves. However, when you have no hydro, and only coal or nuclear you still have to have those plants online and ready to respond to fluctuations in demand. The other problem with wind is that it is hands down the most expensive form of energy generation. If it were not for government subsidies and federal requirements to purchase the energy no one would be using it. Some would say that's good for the environment. Wait until they get their electric bill, and see their taxes increase to pay for it. It might not look like such a great bargain then. Solar? Takes up too much space, is also very expensive, and is hindered by cloud cover.

Politicians have not been helpful in this regard either. They tend to want to please everybody (and the environmentalists are a subset of that group) whether their concerns/demands have validity or not. They take positions based on what will make them the most popular as opposed to what will be the most beneficial in terms of envionmental stewardship, economic viability, and security for future generations. The result is the mess you see today.

Re:Well... (2)

quetwo (1203948) | about 2 years ago | (#41739703)

And natural gas has become so cheap because everybody invested in it after Wall St. tanked. Natural Gas was seen as the most stable commodity at the time, and became one of the most heavily invested resources (because it was pretty expensive at the time). Now, many are taking their money out of NG because the bottom fell out and investing elsewhere -- meaning the price will go up again (and seeing that many places are not riding out their investments in NG, but rather shuttering plants, it is looking like it is going to spike rather than slowly rise).

Re:Well... (4, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41738959)

... the times of low electricity prices will then be over soon.

You still have low electricity prices in the USA. In the UK prices have doubled in under a decade [castlecover.co.uk]

Re:Well... (1)

Quakeulf (2650167) | about 2 years ago | (#41739329)

With loving and caring companies such as British Gas [bbc.co.uk] the UK economy will surge into oblivion and beyond.

I see that the USA hasn't had the same increase (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41739397)

in the USA real consumer prices for electricity have fallen slightly [eia.gov] over the same period!

So much for "this is a world problem" that the governments kept telling us

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739661)

That's because the government set a minimum price at which electricity can be sold. The purpose for this is to make wind farms appear more price competitive so they can be more easily justified.

We should be in an age of cheap energy thanks to nuclear power, but instead the ecofascists are having us pay far more than we should be. Ecofascists rant fanatically about carbon output, but when presented with a carbon-neutral technology like nuclear power they reject it totally. It's like they don't want to have a solution, they just want to be seen to be continually addressing the problem through taxation and artificially high prices.

Re:Well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739849)

Want to provide some evidence of those price floors? And how would that usher in cheap nuclear if already built plants can't compete with prices you claim are already inflated?

Nuclear Waste Storage facility (2, Insightful)

slashdyke (873156) | about 2 years ago | (#41738935)

Now comes the fun part, explaining to the tax payers and anyone else involved, why it stops producing electricity today, but they still pay for the cleanup and stoarage of the radiated materials for the next hundred or so years. Was that cost factored in to all the 'cheap energy prices' the electricity was sold for?

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (4, Insightful)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | about 2 years ago | (#41739015)

The answer to your question can be found in a magical and mysterious thing called TFA

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (2)

slashdyke (873156) | about 2 years ago | (#41739219)

You are right, I should have read the article. Now that I have, I would have to modify my earlier statement to say, that I hope they have put enough funds aside. I know here in Canada, the government makes it very easy for businesses to get away with minimal coverage, and if anything goes wrong, well we tax payers get stuck with it in the end.

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (3, Informative)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 2 years ago | (#41739027)

My understanding is that in the US, that's prepaid to the federal government on a charge-per-unit-energy basis, so that's already paid for (give or take any shortfall or surplus compared to the actual net present value of the cost of storage).

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (1)

biodata (1981610) | about 2 years ago | (#41739583)

So the federal government has all this money in the bank waiting to be spent on the clean-up, or they have already spent it all and will be taxing future generations?

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (3, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | about 2 years ago | (#41739633)

A big chunk of it has been spent building the Yucca Mountain depository in Nevada. Whether it ever gets used for storage of spent nuclear fuel is another matter.

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (4, Insightful)

ScottyLad (44798) | about 2 years ago | (#41739043)

The answer, as so often is the case, is in TFA...

Kewaunee's decommissioning trust is currently fully funded, and the company believes that the amounts available in the trust plus expected earnings will be sufficient to cover all decommissioning costs expected to be incurred after the station closes.

And if it were not sufficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739075)

Do we go back and ask for more from the company running this?

Re:And if it were not sufficient? (3, Informative)

ScottyLad (44798) | about 2 years ago | (#41739201)

Do we go back and ask for more from the company running this?

So it would seem, according to the Unites States Nuclear Regulatory Commission [nrc.gov] , although the point is a moot one in light of the fact this particular fund appears to be sufficiently funded.

Although there are many factors that affect reactor decommissioning costs, generally they range from $300 million to $400 million. Approximately 70 percent of licensees are authorized to accumulate decommissioning funds over the operating life of their plants. These owners – generally traditional, rate-regulated electric utilities or indirectly regulated generation companies – are not required today to have all of the funds needed for decommissioning. The remaining licensees must provide financial assurance through other methods such as prepaid decommissioning funds and/or a surety method or guarantee. The staff performs an independent analysis of each of these reports to determine whether licensees are providing reasonable “decommissioning funding assurance” for radiological decommissioning of the reactor at the permanent termination of operation.

Re:And if it were not sufficient? (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | about 2 years ago | (#41739275)

Wouldn't it be cheaper to just switch off the cooling and let it blow itself up?

Re:And if it were not sufficient? (2)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#41739459)

Yes, but only if we all get superpowers as a result.

Re:And if it were not sufficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740181)

Well, you do get what you pay for.

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740531)

Are those expected earnings based on prevailing interest rates, or the highly reliable returns of the stock market?

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (5, Insightful)

nojayuk (567177) | about 2 years ago | (#41739055)

Yes, the cost was factored in. All US nuclear operators pay 0.1c per kWh generated to the US government to deal with spent nuclear fuel. They also pay into a fund for decommissioning reactors at end-of-life; I don't know whether this particular reactor's fund is paid off.

I don't know if they're going to decommission this reactor quickly or not; British practice is to seal the reactor building after final defuelling, demolish the ancillary buildings like turbine halls etc. which have no radiological problems and let the reactor vessel "cool down" for about 80 years in a custodianship period. That costs very little to do (basically a wire fence, secure doors and a few watchmen) and at the end of that period the rest of the plant can be demolished like any other building, with maybe some asbestos to worry about.

Faster decommissioning of the site requires the reactor vessel, the only part which is noticeably radioactive, to be removed and then buried in a pit for a few decades after which it can be dug up and treated as regular scrap. All of the really radioactive material on the site is in the fuel rods and that is dealt with separately when the reactor is taken out of service.

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (3, Insightful)

delt0r (999393) | about 2 years ago | (#41739473)

Yes, the cost was factored in. All US nuclear operators pay 0.1c per kWh generated to the US government to deal with spent nuclear fuel.

Which is stupid since there is no incentive to reduce waste. You pay the same per kWh no matter how much waste that kWh produces.

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (2)

nojayuk (567177) | about 2 years ago | (#41739577)

The US government has chosen not to reprocess spent fuel as a matter of policy. This means the 30-odd billion dollars it has been given by the nuclear generating companies over the past few decades as a result of the 0.1c per kWh levy has to cover the cost of safe disposal of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of complete fuel rod assemblies currently in store rather than a few thousand tonnes of actual non-recyclable waste which would be the result of reprocessing.

Reprocessing doesn't actually save much money in total compared to a once-through fuel production system since uranium is very cheap but it does reduce the absolute amount of waste with significant long-term cost savings.

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 2 years ago | (#41740263)

Personally i think once through cycles are pretty stupid really. Reprocessing reduces U mining impact as well as the waste burden. However does anyone really reprocess successfully, as in produce a significant proportion of the countries fuel? (not bomb grade material). Even in France its a token effort really IIRC.

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739597)

Because the amount of waste is proportional, to a degree, to the amount of fuel that you're buying. What's more the maximum amount of utilization is largely determined by the design of the reactor. Not something that can be changed to relate to the changes in the cost of disposal.

I could definitely be wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm right about that.

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739807)

There is a huge incentive to reduce the volume of spent fuel as the spent fuel pool space is very limited, and if fuel utilization is poor than additional dry storage casks have to be procured, and they aren't cheap.

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739613)

In my state, Maine, we had one of the first "large" nuclear reactors fully decommissioned. I think it took around a decade, and one of the last things they did was ship the reactor vessel to some southern state (by rail or barge) for processing/disposal. Then the containment building was demolished. The only thing left is a several acre concrete pad they constructed on which they placed "dry-cask" storage containers full of spent fuel. This fuel must remain on site, at a cost of around $1,000,000 per year, until the federal government finally has a solution for storage/disposal.

Re:Nuclear Waste Storage facility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739799)

Because the plant's license goes to 2033, it is being mothballed in safe-storage mode until then, and the owner's license goes from an operator's license to a ownership license, so it cannot be restarted unless permission is given by the NRC. It won't be dismantled until then.

I can't understand this topic. (4, Funny)

Ecuador (740021) | about 2 years ago | (#41738937)

I mean, why would the Dominion need nuclear power plants in the first place? Are they out of dilithium?
And even if they did need nuclear power plants, why would they be in the Alpha Quadrant?

Re:I can't understand this topic. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739003)

Well, let me guess! You're either lost, or desperately searching for a good tailor.

Re:I can't understand this topic. (4, Funny)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about 2 years ago | (#41739023)

I'd be more worried about the Dominion having a Nuclear Facility in Wisconsin!

Re:I can't understand this topic. (1)

PsyMan (2702529) | about 2 years ago | (#41739051)

More like the Ketracel White supplies are drying up and the workers have all but died, send in Sisko to broker a new deal.

Re:I can't understand this topic. (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | about 2 years ago | (#41739287)

This is the prequel. They haven't discovered dilithium yet.

Re:I can't understand this topic. (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#41739351)

Maybe Dominion just read that [prisonplanet.com] , or this [opednews.com] , for instance. These are recent news...

Re:I can't understand this topic. (5, Funny)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#41740215)

Maybe Mitt Romney is a "Founder" (Shapeshifter)
It would account for his recent changes of policy if its not the real Mitt

an inability to find a buyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41738947)

an inability to find a buyer

Did they try putting it on ebay? If they keep the shipping costs down then I'm sure they could find a buyer for it.

Re:an inability to find a buyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739393)

an inability to find a buyer

Did they try putting it on ebay? If they keep the shipping costs down then I'm sure they could find a buyer for it.

You can't sell this kind of thing on eBay. Think "local", think Craig's List.

Re:an inability to find a buyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739843)

They were unable to even give it away for free. Since they cannot sell power at a profit, operating it or owning it is a guaranteed loss.

Aging Infrastructure (0)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about 2 years ago | (#41738993)

Before the rage tides of, "blah blah nuclear is good," comes in I'll point out why this is a good thing. I agree completely that nuclear is good.

For starters the natural gas is cheaper, which is great while we transition, but it's important not to go comfortable on our cushion or cheap electricity. The reactor is, more or less, outdated technology. We need to phase out these older, more dangerous nuclear reactors in favor of thorium reactors. I hope you fellas start writing to your senators and representatives about the importance of investing in thorium cycle reactors. "Clean" coal, wind, solar, hydroelectric... They're all great to invest in, but none of them are as technology feasible right now as these new nuclear reactors. We have the ability, gentlemen, in our generation, to usher in an era of clean, safe, and cheap nuclear power.

It's this and then we look to fusion as the next innovation. And after that, penning traps and black holes. But more on that later.

Re:Aging Infrastructure (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739061)

Thorium has some advantages but it's not really a new idea and particularly full of roses. Why do we need to switch to it? Not really a magic bullet. Just gradually move to better nuclear plants as time rolls on, whether Uranium or Thorium or Hydrogen-Fusion or what-have-you. Do the same with every power plant of every kind that we keep using. Phase out fossil fuels where we can.

I don't want to sound like a dick, but the bit about penning traps and black holes are so sci-fi that it makes you sound like you're choosing Thorium because it sounds cool and sci-fi-ish.

Re:Aging Infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740091)

The primary reason that thorium never took off is that there are already entire industries surrounding plutonium and uranium. They kind of like what they've got going and don't want anyone else crashing their party. Funny how you don't mention the advantages. The only drawback I know of is that a thorium reactor would require more fuel and would therefore generate more waste. However that's more than offset by the very short half life of that waste, and the fact that it's solid and wouldn't leach into the ground water. Additionally it's inherently stable, you cannot melt down a thorium reactor.

Re:Aging Infrastructure (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739225)

It's always funny to see the word clean next to coal.

Re:Aging Infrastructure (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#41739523)

"They're all great to invest in, but none of them are as technology feasible right now as these new nuclear reactors."

OTOH you can get a fucking insurance to pay for any damages they may cause. The sexy new reactors still don't.

The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (1, Troll)

invalid-access (1478529) | about 2 years ago | (#41739007)

To my pro-nuclear friends: This is as clear evidence as you're gonna get why nuclear power is not taking off. It's not nut-job environmentalists, it's not NIMBY, it's not some grand conspiracy. Nuclear is just too freaking expensive to operate with any semblance of reasonable safety.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (5, Insightful)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 2 years ago | (#41739091)

One power plant in one place is economically unviable, therefore nuclear power is a bad idea always everywhere and there has never been opposition that could be described as irrational.

Also, restaurants won't ever take off because I know this one restaurant halfway across the country that closed down because ingredients cost too much and nobody would eat there if they used cheaper ingredients.

This whole thing seems like a non-story to me. "EXTRA! EXTRA! Random business venture you probably never heard of before this news article folds after almost 40 years!"

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739391)

They could always export the power, that's what they do in the rest of the world. Oh wait, with such screwed systems and ideas about the energy infrastructure, who would be crazy enough to buy it.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (5, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41739111)

Nuclear is just too freaking expensive to operate with any semblance of reasonable safety.

Nuclear has to pay to clean up the mess. Whereas a coal plant can dump megatonnes of CO2 and sulphur into the air and just collect the money from selling power, leaving the rest of us to pay the cost for the next centuries.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (1, Informative)

michelcolman (1208008) | about 2 years ago | (#41739295)

Not to mention the radioactivity those coal plants produce.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (1)

rapidmax (707233) | about 2 years ago | (#41739333)

Coal is no alternative to nuclear regarding the environment. It's just as dumb. The interesting part is that renewable sources gets more and more cheaper. I'm sure they render current nuclear plants obsolete soon.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (2)

AlecC (512609) | about 2 years ago | (#41739525)

The problem with the fashionably renewables is continuity of supply. Both wind and solar are intermittent. It was reported that one day a third of German's electricity was provided by wind, and four days later none was. Either you get used to having power only when the wind blows, or you need to have effectively 100% capacity in non-intermittent supplies.

Hydroelectric is an excellent renewable, but most of the sites near users have been exploited. Some of the solar variants with heat storage may work, particularly near the equator. But wind and photovoltaic solar are too erratic to be a major part of out power generation.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739767)

How is 30GW of solar in Germany not a major amount of generation?

Also, the world still seems to consume the brunt of the electricity during the daytime hours, because we're mostly awake when it's light.

On the other ridiculous end, Germany has over 50% of all solar installations in europe. I really wish the rest would keep up and it wouldn't look as silly.

It's not that Germany is leading, it's because the rest is lagging.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (2)

AlecC (512609) | about 2 years ago | (#41739853)

How is 30GW of solar in Germany not a major amount of generation?

Also, the world still seems to consume the brunt of the electricity during the daytime hours, because we're mostly awake when it's light.

Because the maximum peak is in the early evening, after dark in winter. When solar power production is zero. Even on a cloudy day, a lot of that 30GW is not available. Are you happy to be able to work only on sunny days? Of course we use little energy after midnight. But we use a lot before, and we will need power stations to provide that on windless evenings,

My house uses partial electric heating, which I want in winter, when solar power is at its lowest.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41739919)

Coal is no alternative to nuclear regarding the environment.

Why reply to my post with this ? I never suggested anything like that.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (2)

stomv (80392) | about 2 years ago | (#41739555)

They're both similar.

Both nuclear and coal are obligated to clean up their own site upon retirement. In the case of nuclear, there are typically trust funds established. In the case of coal, differing states have differing requirements, but site remediation is typically part of the requirements.

Now, for off-site pollution, neither coal nor nuclear are responsible for their own mess. Coal plants emit SO2, NOx, CO2, Hg, PM2.5, PM10, and other effluents and pollutants, and once it's out of the smoke stack, it's somebody else's problem. Nuclear plants typically emit very little more than water, but when they do, the US Government is on the hook, not the owner of the plant. It turns out that the United States Government is the sole insurer for catastrophic nuclear accidents in the United States. Yip, that would be the 300 million of "us", not the owner of the plant. It's not a coincidence that nuclear plants in the US are often (always?) LLC corporations, so that the parent company (in this case, Dominion) can walk away from a financial disaster even more easily.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739915)

Uh, Dominion is not an LLC. It is a fortune 500 company, and one of the biggest energy companies in the country,

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41739949)

They're both similar.

Bollocks. You say why they're not -- nukes don't emit much to the environment (unless they melt down). Fossil fuel plants emit just about all their waste into the air.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#41739585)

"Nuclear has to pay to clean up the mess."

Really? The have a trust fund to pay for the armed guards for their ashes for the next 184000 years?

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740245)

Why, do you expect them to have their salaries paid in full in advance?

Maybe you can do that to the Postal Service, but sometimes you need a little sanity.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739627)

Bill Gates TerraPower fission reactor startup uses U-238 (depleted uranium). We have 700,000 tons of this already stockpiled. Their whitepaper says that the fuel cost using these stockpiles would be 1/250th of a cent per KWH. This process would blow the carbon credits (tax) scheme to smithereens. Why isn't our administration doing something about this?

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (1)

benjamindees (441808) | about 2 years ago | (#41740617)

Because fuel cost is irrelevant.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (1)

kiwimate (458274) | about 2 years ago | (#41739841)

Whereas a coal plant can dump megatonnes of CO2 and sulphur into the air and just collect the money from selling power, leaving the rest of us to pay the cost for the next centuries.

Except that they no longer can get away with this. EPA regulations requiring retrofits were going to make it so prohibitively expensive that coal plants planned to retire in droves. [chicagotribune.com] Then that regulation got knocked back, but the coal plants are still closing because of other regulations around mercury, etc.

Not even counting cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740179)

if nuclear generate *one* cancer it is immediately scream right and left of fear , "nooklear will kill us". But in the mean time with all the stuff coal plant release in the atmosphere or in the ashes has definitively been linked to a lot of cancer (100K worldwide per years although admittedly disproportionally a lot more in the 3rd world, but still quite a lot in the first world) and nobody bat an eye.

Re:The real reason nuclear power is not taking off (1)

invalid-access (1478529) | about 2 years ago | (#41739889)

To the people who replied to this post with reasoned arguments - Thank You. I was not passing any moral judgements regarding the externalized costs of fossil fuels - I personally think it's wrong coal power plants are allowed to do that. But I also think that our money, here and now, is better spent on wind and solar tech than on nuclear (0.5B failures like Solyndra notwithstanding). A time may come when the bang-for-buck shifts the other way, but it's not now. To my dear downmodder: Sorry, I learned my lesson, I will only ever post stuff that complies with the groupthink guidelines - please be kind enough to send me link where I can read them, before you downmod this post as well. Many thanks.

No problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739013)

Private enterprise will put solar panels in space. Like these guys.

http://www.solarenspace.com/ [solarenspace.com]

Oh wait, it's been years and that's all the website has to show? WIndmills it is, then. What a glorious sci-fi future, eh kids?

Re:No problem (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739163)

Windmills in space sound like a great idea! Satellites would look so much prettier with big turbines on them instead of all those blue panels.

Re:No problem (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | about 2 years ago | (#41739301)

Exactly! If we can have solar sails, there's no reason we can't have solar windmills.

in other news....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739025)

Google and Tesla Motors announce a new joint venture in the mid-west that will push the limits of green energy, data center deployment/management, electric vehicle technology that will bring economic prosperity to the local communities and political sanity to a better educated and more well-informed electorate. The POWER vacuum that resulted from an emerging shortage of ideologically FUELED self identity of the region has meant that the prevailing lifestyle that has developed over the course of the last decade is now recognized as worthless, much like this very comment and the time that has been wasted by readers who are now no doubt angry at having been tricked by a troll masquerading as a comedian.

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739203)

when Odo merged with the Founder, that ended the Dominion war.

good! Germany is shutting down all nuclear plants (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#41739363)

And I like it, because we can focus on next-generation technology. In the first half of 2012, 40% of our energy requirement can from renewable resources, which means we'll have the mature technology for sale when other countries want to switch :)

Re:good! Germany is shutting down all nuclear plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739401)

...or, you'll have the rest of the world to bail you out when wind has blown you into bankruptcy.

German is being very foolish (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 years ago | (#41739451)

ITYF thanks to your idiotic chancellor that german power companies are starting to build coal fired replacements for those shut down nuclear plants. So much for germany being green eh?

Renewables you say? Would those be the windfarms in the north which are 600km from where most of the energy is needed in the south? And given that the wind doesn't always blow - what other renewables did you have in mind? Solar? Yeah , right, in northern europe... suuure. Hydro? Nope, not enough locations. Tidal/wave? Same problem as wind with power transmission. So what is this great hope you germans have for renewables?

Re:German is being very foolish (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739713)

Germany only has over 30GW of installed solar power, you are right that's totally not working.

They just installed a 150Mw installation east of berlin that will be operational before the end of the year. I have not seen a coal plant realized in just 5 months yet. That would be a stellar.

Your distance argument is moot, 600km is not as much as you think it is. The Netherlands imports quite a bit of power from Nuclear plants from France, that's also over 600km away. So yes, it works fine, we've been operating that way for the better part of the last 50 years.

The amount of generated power by the Solar and Wind has gotten so good over the past years that the peak electric tarifs in Germany are now under pressure and cheaper then ever. If that's not a economic boost, then what is.

It's not a problem to forecast the amount of generation for solar and wind, we've gotten pretty good at predicting the weather the last couple of years. They are able to plan well ahead and fire up a natural gas plant in about an hour. You need to look at the bigger scale, it's perfectly normal for plants to go into maintenance and power will come from elsewhere. Similar here, the weather is not bad everywhere.

Also, in the winter solar is low, but wind is generally high, in the summer the other way around. They complement each other quite well.

I think you need to see diversification as a good thing. I don't think being dependent on just one source of energy (coal, oil, gas, sun, wind etc.) is a good thing. regardless.

Re:German is being very foolish (0, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 years ago | (#41740481)

"Germany only has over 30GW of installed solar power,"

At night?

I guess you just forget about all the power stations required to supply the base load when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow.

Re:German is being very foolish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740709)

Cheaper than ever? And yet the energy bills keep going up.

Re:German is being very foolish (2)

rmstar (114746) | about 2 years ago | (#41740027)

thanks to your idiotic chancellor that german power companies are starting to build coal fired replacements for those shut down nuclear plants.

It is quite an irony that Merkel was the one to pull the plug. She and her party have been in favor of nuclear power for decades. The nuclear industry thanked them by causing lots of embarrassing scandals. As a consequence, the point was reached when Merkel decided it was better to part with them. The Fukushima incident presented an excellent opportunity to do so.

So, no. Merkel is not idiotic at all. It is the industry that yet again has shown that it cannot keep its act together, to the point that it alienated one if its most loyal allies.

So what is this great hope you germans have for renewables?

To never again have anything to do with the nuclear industry, it seems. That they have to resort to coal and gas is, in this way, also a failure of the nuclear industry. They fucked up.

Re:German is being very foolish (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#41740065)

I stand corrected, it's only to 25% in the first half of 2012 from 20% in 2011. Of that 20% of total consumption (in 2011), 19,500GWh came from hydro; 46,500GWh from wind; 31,920GWh from biomass; 5,000GWh from waste; 19,000GWh from PV; 18.8GWh from thermo.

Also, 600km is nothing (roughly 2 hours by train or 3 by car).

To be honest, I think your concerns are moot, at best.

we're actually AHEAD of schedule... (4, Informative)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#41740199)

In September 2010, the German government announced a new aggressive energy policy with the following targets:

Increasing the relative share of renewable energy in gross energy consumption to 18% by 2020, 30% by 2030 and 60% by 2050

Increasing the relative share of renewable energy in gross electrical consumption to 35% by 2020 and 80% by 2050

Increasing the national energy efficiency by cutting electrical consumption 50% below 2008 levels by 2050

Re:good! Germany is shutting down all nuclear plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740443)

You do realize that Germany's alternative to nuclear is importing nuclear from France and coal from the Czech Republic and Poland while building new coal generators right? And that they're doing this at the cost of many billions of Euros?

If you think this is a valid energy policy and a step forward rather than kowtowing to political extremist and fear mongers you haven't been reading the news.

Good News! (-1, Troll)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#41739483)

Next let's close down all the plants that burn oil coal or gas too. Obama 2012, party like it's 1825.

Re:Good News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41739547)

Which happened in '73 after the famous OPEC memo leak during trade negotiations

How was it paid for? (3, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 2 years ago | (#41739821)

How was the plant paid for? I know that in my area that the power companies have managed to get the regulation authorities to increase the price of electricity long before the plant is ever built, letting the customers pay for the construction. And without giving the customers stock in the company, even though they are effectively forced to become investors. And this is done with the claims that the electricity is needed and it will keep rates low.

Now they want to shut down the plant? Because building it did help keep rates low? If it was financed completely with private money then they might just get away with that. But if it was financed with rate payer money. then there ought to be a hell of a lawsuit over this move that will drive down supply and drive up rates.

Nuclear Plant Can't Compete with Natural Gas (2)

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) | about 2 years ago | (#41740297)

The NY Times reports that the Kewaunee Power Station will close early next year because the owner is unable to find a buyer and the plant is no longer economically viable driven by slack demand for energy and the low price of natural gas [nytimes.com] . âoeThis was an extremely difficult decision, especially in light of how well the station is running and the dedication of the employees,â says Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell II. âoeThis decision was based purely on economics.â When Dominion bought the plant from local owners in 2005, it signed contracts to sell them the electricity, a common practice, but as those contracts expire, the plant faces selling electricity at the lower rates that now dominate the energy market. Other companies have also reported falling revenues, although they may not be on the verge of closing reactors because they are in regions where the market price of electricity is higher. The closing, which did not catch many in the industry by surprise, highlights the struggle of the U.S. "nuclear renaissance." A decade ago, the nuclear industry talked about a nuclear renaissance due to rising fossil fuel prices and concerns about meeting greenhouse gas emissions, but the nuclear revival did not occur in the United States as the cost of fossil fuels like natural gas fell [reuters.com] and the federal government has been slow to put a price on carbon. "A number of nuclear units won't run their 60-year licensed lives if current gas price forecasts prove accurate," says Peter Bradford, a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "The determining factor is likely to come at the point at which they need to decide on a major capital investment."

I thought the Dominion was gone? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41740421)

Didn't Captain Sisco and the crew of DS9 take them down?

Such a mistake (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#41740623)

Instead, we should be shutting down OLDER reactors and bringing in smaller thorium reactors that can also burn up the stored waste. The time is coming when nations are going to tax for carbon emissions. When that comes, they will wish that they were on nukes.
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