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The Aging of Our Nuclear Power Plants Is Not So Graceful

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the tests-of-time dept.

Power 436

Lasrick writes "This is a very thoughtful article on nuclear power plant aging: how operators use early retirement of plants to extract concessions from rate-payers and a discussion on how California's 'forward-looking planning process' has probably mitigated disruption from the closing of San Onofre."

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Grossly inaccuracte. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088231)

The aging of our reactors doesn't compare to T Hunter. Done.

san onofre (0)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#44088341)

ahh yes, san onofre. "everywhere I look, something reminds me of her."

Re:Grossly inaccuracte. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088621)

Some of the old reactors are developing chinks due to the constant nips of the operating machinery. Sometime the equipment is hosed down so that they are soaking, with wet backs. Of course the owners don't want to put money into maintenance because most of them are quite greedy and niggardly.

I sit here, wearing my coon skin hat and drinking limey flavoured beverages as a froggie would go through water.

NIMBY (4, Insightful)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about a year ago | (#44088235)

It's going to be pretty ugly in a couple decades. It would be nice if people could be rational and let us build newer reactors.

Re:NIMBY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088255)

Yes, because everyone who disagrees with you must be irrational.

Re:NIMBY (4, Insightful)

Zynder (2773551) | about a year ago | (#44088351)

Oh well please, AC, enlighten us with how exactly you propose we generate and supply the 1.21 GW of power that each person will eventually need. Our society craves more power (of all kinds!) and capitalism flourishes when each participant is continuously consuming more and more. You will not get us, as a modern society with all of our toys, to take a step back in time and do without. It just won't happen. GP is correct, we have several technologies, such as pebble bed reactors, that are not the unsafe designs of the 50s and 60s. But when you try to tell someone that, all they can think of is Chernobyl and Fukushima. Both were outdated and should have been scrapped but due to irrational fear, were allowed to keep running past thier expiration date.

Re:NIMBY (4, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#44088473)

You put the nail on the head and are summing up the article just nicely:

But when you try to tell someone that, all they can think of is Chernobyl and Fukushima. Both were outdated and should have been scrapped but due to irrational fear, were allowed to keep running past thier expiration date.

That's exactly what TFA is talking about: when calculating the gain-cost-ratio of any new technologies, you have to always calculate in a) the cost of getting the technology to mature and b) the cost of keeping the technology up-to-date and c) the cost of finally scrapping the technology. Yes, we have several technologies. No, those technologies are not mature (e.g. we have no clue how they will scale, how much fine tuning it will take until they are at their designed power output and for how long they will maintain this output). And we don't know which incidents will happen in the future that force us to retrofit the technologies, and more so, at which point in time it will be cheaper just to scrap the new technologies instead of continous retrofitting.

The experience with those mature technologies like the ones used in the U.S. (which didn't, with the exception of Three Mile Island, have had any large and costly failures) proves so far, that the time frame in which those technologies ran at least at 90% of their capacities were much shorter than expected, and 70% capacity would be a much more realistic assumption.

Re:NIMBY (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088477)

Need is an interesting word. Our use and need for electric power as two quite different things. Even if we decide nobody should have to go without their favorite gadgets there is no reason to think that we would need to produce more power to meet demand. This is principally because newer devices are often better than old one. A 15 year old fridge is a monster and junking it for a shiny new one will save the owner money. Other new technologies such as more efficient lighting are saving huge amounts of power. Today's computers are more efficient than the one they replace.

US energy consumption per capita has declined since its peak in 1974 (http://ourfiniteworld.com/2012/03/12/world-energy-consumption-since-1820-in-charts/) Per capita electricity consumption has been flat since 2000 in the US. The reason for this is not a sudden distaste for new things or a turn to socialism. It is simply that the new things are better than the old ones.

I have no idea where your 1.2 GW per person figure comes from, but for your family's safely I hope it is hyperbole, since it would take about 1,000,000 toaster overs to generate that kind of power, though far be it from me to judge how dark you like your toast.

-- same AC as above

Re:NIMBY (0)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about a year ago | (#44088559)

The problem is that energy consumption may be flat, but our population is still growing. I've heard claims that we'll max out at around 9 billion and then decline as more and more countries develop and the tendency of developed nations to have lower birth rates takes hold, but in the meantime we still need power and while renewable is great nuclear is more reliable and simpler to meet the demands with.

Re:NIMBY (2)

fast turtle (1118037) | about a year ago | (#44088649)

The only problem is, that new fridge Isn't using less power then that 15 year old model as I well know. Had to replace my old fidge with a new unit and it actually uses a bit more energy then the old one did because it has less insulation. You want to cut the energy use of a fridge? Glue an extra 1 inch of rigid foam board to all sides. Sure it's only an increase of R2 but that makes one hell of a difference for most refridgerators. Alternative is to buy a SunCold unit that's designed with 3-5 inches of insulation instead of the 1 inch most new units have. A bit more expensive but when your food can stay cold for a 72 hour power outage, you'll soon appreciate it.

Re:NIMBY (5, Insightful)

Random Destruction (866027) | about a year ago | (#44088731)

I have no idea where your 1.2 GW per person figure comes from

Turn in your nerd card. [youtube.com]

GREAT SCOTT! (4, Informative)

Zynder (2773551) | about a year ago | (#44088749)

1.21GW-- That's a Back to the Future reference.

Re:NIMBY (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year ago | (#44088787)

The weird thing is that computer power consumption at the user level seems pretty steady. My office PC of 10 years ago used the same amount of power as my office PC today. Today's PC has the potential to do more but, aside from facebooking and streaming video, most office workers are doing the same things now as they were 10 years ago. Maybe even less local (work-related) processing if they're at one of those companies that Clouded. The cube farm computer should be down to around 5 watts by now but it's not. Heck, my Raspberry Pi pulls 3 watts and has the potential to handle daily office tasks.

Think of the energy savings of cutting the average cube farm computer from 100 watts to 5 watts. Not only have you cut your energy demand for the computers by 95%, you're no longer pumping out all of the waste heat through the AC system. Seems like the kind of thing market forces should have been demanding for years.

Re:NIMBY (2)

macpacheco (1764378) | about a year ago | (#44088521)

There are many solutions that will be ready long before a nuke project started today.
Natural Gas Fuel Cell power plants are twice as efficient as thermal natural gas plants, so produce half the pollution for the same electricity and their exhaust makes it very easy to sequester just the CO2 (without the steam), since the reformer that produces the CO2 is a completely separate stage from the fuel cell that produces only water.
Since Fuel Cells are modular, those plants will produce over 99% of their capacity over 99% of the time, something that no nuclear reactor can match over 20 yrs.
This technology is already available, but still undergoing significant cost declines, but since those plants take less than half the time from conception to becoming operational than a nuke reactor, even if those projects wait another 2-3 yrs when this technology becomes really affordable, it will still be online before the nuke one.
There's room to increase our wind production by at least 20x before we begin to talk about the best areas in the world for wind electricity being saturated. Let's do that.
Oh, and LENR is coming. It's a reality. No matter how much Fission and hot Fusion interests try to kill (smear) LENR, it will become a reality in just a few years, and like fuel cells, it will be completely modular, we will be able to run them at home, at our business, in factories, producing combined electricity and heat on site.
In just 5 yrs we'll see there's no need for nuclear reactors any more.

Re:NIMBY (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44088607)

Natural Gas Fuel Cell power plants are twice as efficient as thermal natural gas plants

Maybe compared to inefficient natural gas plants, but Combined-cycle [wikipedia.org] plants have efficiencies over 50% (approaching 60%) so what you say is not possible in general.

I've got nothing against natural gas fuel cells, and would be interested in any links, but overstatements are always undesirable.

Re:NIMBY (1)

Zynder (2773551) | about a year ago | (#44088837)

Oh I could foresee us using all the things you mentioned. I am not pro-nuclear in the sense that it is a one size fits all solution. You pick the technology that works the best for your area. If you got good winds, you do turbines. If you have a river, you build a dam. Right tool for the job as they say. I HOPE your thought that we'll need no reactors in 5 years happens. I just can't take that bet. So let's use em all.

Re:NIMBY (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#44088533)

What pisses me the fuck off is with the NIMBYs you CAN'T BUILD ANYTHING. Nuke? "ZOMFG radiation" Fine,dams? "ZOMG you'll hurt teh fishies", fine wind? "ZOMFG the noise and the dead birds!" alright you PITA how about solar? "ZOMFG you'll destroy habitats in the desert"...FUCK YOU!!!

You wanna know why we are only building NG and coal plants? Because its the only things you CAN build, and then only in places where they mine for coal or NG because the "We need the jobs" can get the public to turn on the NIMBYs. Look at how they let Yucca flats spend billions of fricking dollars building it, but when that billion dollar gravy train shut down? here come the NIMBYs.

I just want to shake these assholes, they suck their fricking latte while using their iPad and Macbooks and then bitch about us building more power plants...where the fuck do you think all the power for all the shit you are running comes from? the fricking electric fairy? Douchebags!

Re:NIMBY (1)

winwar (114053) | about a year ago | (#44088873)

You do realize that there are these things called roofs. They are everywhere. They are great places for solar installations.

I think Germany has also proved that you can generate a massive amount of energy from solar. Why waste the time with nuclear. If you want jobs, start with solar.

The real reason we are building NG and coal plants? They are much easier and cheaper to build than nuclear plants. They can be build smaller. They can be built quicker. People don't object if they have problems. These things aren't because of NIMBY or BANANA. It's primarily technical.

I've seen people kill power plants that weren't nuclear (biomass) based on health concerns, so nuclear isn't unique.

Re:NIMBY (2)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about a year ago | (#44088681)

I believe the newer designs are safer, but the rub is that any reactor will still be operated by the same model of humans that brought us Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. Can you honestly tell me that any new reactor will be built and operated by companies that have any different set of priorities than the ones that currently run nuclear plants? Keep it cheap, repay the investors, keep the profits coming in, whatever it takes.I would like to see dozens of new reactors in the U.S., but as long as the clueless and the greedy continue to own the techs who build and operate them, we're going to see more "accidents".

Re:NIMBY (1)

Zynder (2773551) | about a year ago | (#44088825)

Now that right there is some truth I can't argue over. The 3 biggest accidents we have had have all been PEBKAC. There's no stopping that. Humans will always screw off, get tired, cheap out, and so on. You don't let this stop the advancement in society. Sometimes a space shuttle will blow up, a plane will crash, a building may topple over, but you don't stop launching, flying, or building stuff. You analyze what the hell happened and you do what is reasonable to ensure it doesn't happen again. By no means should we lay down and give up though.

Re:NIMBY (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#44088805)

1.21 Gigawatts?? Great Scott! What was I thinking?

Re:NIMBY (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088283)

The failure to build new reactors is primarily driven by economics. Nuclear reactors require huge capital investment and take a long time to build. They also take a long time to turn on and off, so make an inflexible source of supply that integrates poorly with more variable sources, such as wind and solar. Natural gas, on the other hand, has a comparatively much lower capital investment and time to build for the same generation capacity. The low price of natural gas also makes it extremely competitive with other power sources. Natural gas turbines can also come to full power from a dead stop in 20 minutes and partial power sooner than that, allowing it it integrate gracefully in a world with variable power demand and supply.

Re:NIMBY (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088317)

So why not make nuclear reactors that make natural gas?

Re:NIMBY (-1)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#44088371)

Natural gas plants are a supply-side solution to the problem of variable power demand and supply. A demand-side solution is smart meters. Smart meters can be programmed so that when supply is reduced, it will turn off your water heater, or turn down the heat or A/C, or stop charging your electric car, or recommend that you dry your laundry on the line instead of using the dryer.

Adequate demand management such as this makes power plants that can start up quickly unnecessary.

Re:NIMBY (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088437)

So demand side methods turn us all into nice model citizens under threat of removal of service?

Wait, what you just described was turning everyone into model citizens by removing service! No threat needed.

Re:NIMBY (3, Interesting)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#44088485)

No, it's more like an auction where you can program your appliances to stop bidding on electricity when the price gets too high. Allowing the price to fluctuate in response to demand gives people a greater opportunity to economize than exists with flat rates. If the fall of communism is any indication, the "one price fits all" model just doesn't work very well in the real world.

Re:NIMBY (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088525)

These consumption reduction plans are voluntary but can get you a lower rate. So if you agree to a demand management system where your hot water heater might delay going on for a little while on the hottest days then you get a lower electric bill. The reason for this is that a peak kilowatt hour is much more expensive than a baseload kilowatt hour, so by shaving off the peak of your personal demand, you can save the utility from having to supply as much power on a peak day from a plant that sits idle 99% of the time. (Yes these plants exist - they're called "peakers.") It is not about behaving like a model citizen. It is about responding rationally to available economic incentives.

Re: NIMBY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088631)

The only problem with the "lower rate" is that eventually SDG&E increased the lower date to a much higher rate because people are conserving and the utilities company was nit making enough money.

Re:NIMBY (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088453)

Smart meters

Are an admission of failure. We can do better than turning off the AC when it gets hot. We could keep going down this road and decide we might as well knock ourselves back to the stone age (then worry about who burns their fires too long...)

Re:NIMBY (2)

CodeBuster (516420) | about a year ago | (#44088757)

Smart meters can be programmed so that when supply is reduced, it will turn off your water heater, or turn down the heat or A/C, or stop charging your electric car, or recommend that you dry your laundry on the line instead of using the dryer.

Because people will just love it when their smart meter turns down their AC during a scorcher or stops charging their electric car so they don't have enough juice to get to work the next day or nagging them about how they should be drying their clothes on a laundry line during working hours. The belief that this will actually work in the real world is utterly obtuse. Can you imagine the political fallout from ACs being turned down in the sunbelt by smart meters and seniors being found dead in their homes from heat stroke? Even the liberals out in California want to opt out of smart meters. What does that tell you about the future of smart meters in the United States?

In other words energy rationing.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088807)

If it's hot outside, you won't be able to use your air conditioner because environmentalists have opposed every single method of electrical power generation. Eventually, we will be all shivering naked in caves because burning wood will violate the EPA's particulate emissions standards.

Re:NIMBY (1, Interesting)

oPless (63249) | about a year ago | (#44088403)

Here in the UK we enjoy almost uninterrupted mains power. No brownouts (a brownout perhaps every eight months which is usually due to maintenance, extreme weather or emergency works), no requirement for external generators nor for a UPS for your desktop PC.

I understand that the power supply in the US is patchy at best, with frequent brownouts. I think you guys really do need a stable source of power. Nuclear is a good way to supply this. Focusing on renewables won't begin to replace this, nor will it give an easily modulatable power supply that reacts to user demand. Sure they take a long time to build, and there's legislation preventing waste processing being done that would wring out more power from the same uranium. So you end up with large waste disposal sites where you wastefully allow spent rods to decay needlessly. That's assuming you still are building old-style reactors. Newer ones have much less waste, more power and frankly are less dangerous.

Gas Power? Coal Power? Great, Cheap to build but pollute like crazy. Not to mention coal burners actually more radioactive than nuclear power. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste [scientificamerican.com]

Solution lots of smallish pebble-bed nuclear reactors to do the heavy lifting, augmented with solar, with the odd gas & coal power stations taking up the slack.

Re:NIMBY (4, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about a year ago | (#44088465)

Here in the UK we enjoy almost uninterrupted mains power. No brownouts (a brownout perhaps every eight months which is usually due to maintenance, extreme weather or emergency works), no requirement for external generators nor for a UPS for your desktop PC.

I understand that the power supply in the US is patchy at best, with frequent brownouts. I think you guys really do need a stable source of power. Nuclear is a good way to supply this. Focusing on renewables won't begin to replace this, nor will it give an easily modulatable power supply that reacts to user demand. Sure they take a long time to build, and there's legislation preventing waste processing being done that would wring out more power from the same uranium. So you end up with large waste disposal sites where you wastefully allow spent rods to decay needlessly. That's assuming you still are building old-style reactors. Newer ones have much less waste, more power and frankly are less dangerous.

Gas Power? Coal Power? Great, Cheap to build but pollute like crazy. Not to mention coal burners actually more radioactive than nuclear power. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste [scientificamerican.com]

Solution lots of smallish pebble-bed nuclear reactors to do the heavy lifting, augmented with solar, with the odd gas & coal power stations taking up the slack.

I like a lot of what you say, but your "patchy at best" lead in isn't very convincing. An average American home that hasn't just been through a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake might see 5 minutes without power per year and no brownouts in the occupants' lifetimes. Yes, these things happen, but they're isolated and rare. The brownouts in California about a decade ago, which were the only widespread American brownouts in recent history, were caused by Enron manipulating power markets, not a lack of real power.

Re:NIMBY (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44088633)

I like a lot of what you say, but your "patchy at best" lead in isn't very convincing. An average American home that hasn't just been through a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake

So everyone not on the East Coast, Midwest or West Coast?

>quote> might see 5 minutes without power per year and no brownouts in the occupants' lifetimes.

5 minutes per year is high when it's spread out over dailly 1-2 second outages. Which is what I started experiencing when moving to the US 14 years ago, and have experienced since, living in three different towns and five different homes. Compared to Europe, the stability of hte electric grid here sucks. I never needed a UPS before, but here I can't possibly run a file server 24/7 without it.
And the lights just blinked again, as I typed this.

Re:NIMBY (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#44088795)

I can't imagine where you could live and see only five minutes without power per year. I've never seen that level of reliability anywhere I've lived:

  • I currently live in the heart of the Silicon Valley, and I've seen several multi-hour blackouts in the past decade, and one multi-day blackout. And I'm not including the rolling blackouts in that total. I'm only counting PG&E infrastructure failures. The joys of for-profit power companies....
  • Things were even worse in Santa Cruz, where we saw several hour-plus outages caused by storms in the two years I lived there.
  • And back in rural Tennessee, where the government provided power (TVA), we had very few outages caused by poorly maintained infrastructure, but you could count on at least one two-hour-plus outage per year, and usually several, resulting from storm damage to power lines, ice pulling tree limbs down on power lines, high tension lines slamming together in high winds and tripping breakers, etc.

Re:NIMBY (1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about a year ago | (#44088573)

I'm not sure where you're getting your information from, but we don't have much trouble with that here either. Our biggest issue in that regard is that we still use power poles, which I understand are rare in Europe.

Re:NIMBY (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | about a year ago | (#44088581)

Brownouts ?
I don't live in the US anymore, I lived there 1993-2002. I had zero blackouts/brownouts except for extreme weather in the entire time. Lived in New Hampshire/Florida, worked part of the time in Massachusetts and traveled around the US as a consultant (over 30 states).
I now live in Brazil, where I was born. Here we have major blackouts from time to time due to insufficient peak load generating facilities and neglect to the long distance power grid. But even then, those are about once a year events, in the peak dry season, when many of our huge dams have their reservoirs getting danger low, and only in drier than usual years.
Anyhow, look at my post before. Nuclear power is not viable anymore. Technically 3rd and 4th gen nukes are safe enough, but just too expensive when you take into consideration interest on the total investment, with money invested for a long time before the plant is operational. Solar PV and Wind Turbines begin producing in just a few months after receiving the turbines / solar panels, as long as transmission lines are operational.
And we need to incentive people to buy solar heating solutions, that are far more economical than solar PV (truly a slam dunk investment).
Solar PV tied to the grid in Brazil is practically non existent, no feed in tariffs. The Govt is a major stake holder in our largest hydro plants, few nuclear plants, NG thermal and long distance power distribution, so they don't want the competition from home / commercial PV.

Re:NIMBY (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088591)

The US power supply is quite stable. I've never experienced a brownout. Blackouts are almost always the result of storms knocking down local electric lines. Large blackouts tend to be rare but also due to transmission, not supply difficulties. (This is mostly a regulatory failure, born of deregulation and deferred maintenance.) The rolling blackouts California a few years back were due to intentional supply constraints to jack up the wholesale electric spot market price. (This was suspected and later shown to be true. Enron was involved. Government ended up paying huge sums to industry to cover the high wholesale power cost.) Utilities are required to plan for projected demand.

Re:NIMBY (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44088713)

The US power supply is quite stable. I've never experienced a brownout

It depends on how you define brownout. If you include short outages of a second or less, the US system has them aplenty. Lights flicker so often that people born and raised here don't even recognize it. It's considered normal.
My UPSes log an average of 3-4 of them per day, and did so before too, when I lived in a different town.
Then let's not say anything about the unwillingness of the power companies to bury the wires or bring multiphase to the homes. First a 3 day outage and then a 9 day outage in two successive years. No, it's not fallen branches that's to blame - it's relying on two-phase with no redundancy (and single-phase to the home) and above ground cables. In 2013.

Re:NIMBY (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44088729)

That's true, but that has basically nothing to do with generation. That's a matter of the cables in some areas being shit, above-round stuff that goes through poorly trimmed trees which, unsurprisingly, fall in the next major storm.

The solution to that is better maintenance of the grid, not anything to do with power plants.

Re:NIMBY (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44088777)

That's true, but that has basically nothing to do with generation. That's a matter of the cables in some areas being shit, above-round stuff that goes through poorly trimmed trees which, unsurprisingly, fall in the next major storm.

The solution to that is better maintenance of the grid, not anything to do with power plants.

Yes, it's a grid problem - also a faulty design in that a single downed wire can cause an outage, unlike in (I would guess) most of the industrialized world.

All the transient failures, though, I'm not so sure about. I notice them pretty much wherever I go in USA. So it could be a grid design problem, but it could also be related to frequent switching over from one provider to another due to capacity problems. I am not sure what causes it, but it's certainly common here in the US.

Re:NIMBY (5, Insightful)

john.r.strohm (586791) | about a year ago | (#44088605)

With all due respect, you appear to fail to understand the distinction between base load plants and topping plants.

Base load plants supply the huge amount of power that MUST BE THERE 24x7. Topping plants supply the variable amount that is or is not needed depending on seasons, weather, uncharacteristic heat waves, sudden cold snaps, Pink Floyd concert light shows...

MOST of the power demand is base load demand. Heating and cooling don't stop. Water pumping doesn't stop. Hospitals run 24x7. Ditto traffic lights.

For topping plants, there are lots of choices, natural gas being a popular one. For base load plants, there are at the moment exactly three viable choices: hydroelectric, coal, and nuclear (to be precise, negative void coefficient pressurized water reactors). We are maxed out on hydroelectric power: every dammable river in the country has already been dammed. Coal is about the dirtiest power generation technology known to man, as well as one of the most dangerous (Google "black lung disease" someday). That leaves nuclear as Hobson's Choice, if you actually care about environmental and safety issues. (Hint: Of the three, only one emits significant quantities of carbon dioxide.) (For that matter, if coal plants were held to the radiation release limits applied to nuclear plants, it would be impossible to light up a coal plant, because of the radioisotopes in the coal (carbon-14 being the big one) that go straight up the smokestack and into the atmosphere.)

*ANY* base load plant costs a lot of money and takes a long time to build, because, by their very nature, they are BIG.

Finally, observe that wind and solar are utterly unsuitable for base load, because the wind doesn't always blow, and the sun effectively "goes out" for several hours every day.

Re:NIMBY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088717)

This is exactly what the nuclear power people don't get. Who is going to put on the capital?

Re:NIMBY (5, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | about a year ago | (#44088733)

Nuclear reactors require huge capital investment and take a long time to build.

It's true that the capital costs of nuclear power are high, but in all fairness a substantial part of those costs and the time required to build are caused by anti-nuclear pressure groups and other NIMBYs who drag the process out for decades in courts and through environmental review boards as a delaying tactic to discourage development by artificially running up the cost. Meanwhile the world continues to burn ever more and dirtier fossil fuels to make up for lost nuclear generation capacity in national electric grids.

They also take a long time to turn on and off, so make an inflexible source of supply that integrates poorly with more variable sources

Which is why you don't turn them off and why the electric grid should never be entirely nuclear. Nuclear is for the portion of the demand that needs constant and consistent base load supply. Because the national energy grids never have zero energy demand at any time of day there will always be demand for some amount of base load power and nuclear fits that profile perfectly. The variable power sources, like wind and solar, can contribute as they're able with the remainder of variable demand being handled by natural gas turbines that can be turned on when necessary to fill in supply gaps and shutdown quickly and easily when not needed.

Natural gas, on the other hand, has a comparatively much lower capital investment and time to build for the same generation capacity.

Natural gas is also a valuable transportation, heating and cooking fuel. It's not just power plants that demand natural gas, so it would be unwise in the long run to replace base load nuclear with natural gas. We have many centuries of proven nuclear fuel, but natural gas supplies have waxed and waned over the years along with demand, depletion and development of new supplies. The lifespan of a power plant is measured in decades but nobody can tell you what the price will be for natural gas decades in the future.

The low price of natural gas also makes it extremely competitive with other power sources.

For now, but much of the newly drilled glut of natural gas comes from horizontally drilled and fracked wells in tight shale formations where the long term depletion rates are still poorly understood. We might have centuries of gas left in these formations or they might be depleted in a matter of decades; nobody's sure yet because we don't have enough data on depletion rates and demand is also uncertain. For example, increased use of natural gas in commercial transportation may eventually put upward pressure on natural gas prices as an alternative to diesel in those applications.

Natural gas turbines can also come to full power from a dead stop in 20 minutes and partial power sooner than that, allowing it it integrate gracefully in a world with variable power demand and supply.

Which is why there will always be a role for natural gas in electricity generation. My point was that we shouldn't lean too heavily on any one technology, but rather seek to optimize the grid by tapping into the different strengths of different generation technologies. We need nuclear, solar, wind, natural gas and even niche sources, like geothermal or tidal, where available. The best solution utilizes a mix of all of these technologies, but as long as there are ignorant, biased and uneducated people we will continue to "debate" whether eliminating one or more of these technologies from the mix is a "good idea", as in the case of the "no nukes" crowd.

Re:NIMBY (1)

winwar (114053) | about a year ago | (#44088803)

"It's true that the capital costs of nuclear power are high, but in all fairness a substantial part of those costs and the time required to build are caused by anti-nuclear pressure groups and other NIMBYs who drag the process out for decades in courts and through environmental review boards as a delaying tactic to discourage development by artificially running up the cost."

Citation needed.

For instance, please explain how the failure of WPPSS in the late 70's and early 80's was the result of this versus economic, technical, and competency factors. Ratepayers in the PNW are still paying for nuclear power they are not receiving to this day.

Then please explain how the new designs will escape this fate. After all, since there must be places which don't have this problem, these new designs must be operating successfully in large numbers. Where are these places?

In any case, it will still take decades for them to come on line in significant numbers at BEST (based on production estimates). And they would be replacing existing generating capacity in practice. They are not a useful solution when you can put solar on a roof of a structure within a few months.

Sure, it's not base load, but maybe we should be looking at a solution for that? We have decades, after all...

Re:NIMBY (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088835)

long time to turn on and off

Since we use nukes for subs and carriers, I expect there is indeed a method to throttle output. Possibly our old reactors simply weren't designed for flexibility because it wasn't a requirement? Possibly new reactors can be designed to flex gracefully with wind and solar?

Keyword is "flex". They wouldn't need to "turn on and off", that's a strawman if wasn't meant only as a shorthand.

Re:NIMBY (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088305)

1. The reason reactors are not being built has to do with the cost -- they're not cost-effective for utilities unless they get huge subsidies.

2. Where are you going to put the nuclear waste? No, seriously, stop joking around: where are you *really* going to put the waste? This has been well-studied, and there's no good answer.

3. Improving efficiency is faster and more-effective than increasing output in the near term. Sure, we do need increased capacity, but instead of burning money in the form of subsidies lavished on for-profit energy companies, let's commit real public expenditure on real efficiency initiatives.

Re:NIMBY (4, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year ago | (#44088391)

1. The reason reactors are not being built has to do with the cost -- they're not cost-effective for utilities unless they get huge subsidies.

Like, say, burning coal and oil? Let's see what the price of those would be if you had to store the waste.

2. Where are you going to put the nuclear waste?

Burning coal produces a lot more of radioactive dust which is simply put into the air. Almost any solution for (relatively) easy to secure barrels is better to that. Oh, and besides radioactive stuff, you get carbon dioxide, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and a laundry list of other pollutants.

So any comparison that is not biased towards combusting carbon-based deposits by many orders of magnitude shows that if we had any shred of rationality we should replace those with nuclear power. Geothermal is better where it's available, wind not really.

Re:NIMBY (3, Informative)

oPless (63249) | about a year ago | (#44088415)

Not to mention there's legislation that prevents spent rods being reprocessed. Leaving a lot of nasty radioactive waste about when it could be reprocessed into more fuel, and reused and further being a source for fast breeders.

Besides Pebble Bed reactors are the way to go.

Re:NIMBY (2, Interesting)

macpacheco (1764378) | about a year ago | (#44088623)

The issue is economical.
As far as burning light/heavy water reactor nuclear waste, the way to go is Sodium Cooled IFR reactors, that burn existing nuclear sludge, in the end producing waste that has less than 1% of the radioactiviy of the nuclear sludge that fed it, and can burn depleted uranium too, and thorium too.
Those reactors will be the solution to use the remainder of the nuclear waste, as we move to a nuclear free world in the near future. Those will be the last reactors to be shutdown eventually.
Resulting spent nuclear fuel from IFR reactors take just a few dozen yrs to have just a few times more radioactivity than the original raw uranium ore.
In about 100 yrs their spent fuel is just as radioactive as raw uranium, but have almost no uranium, since it used 99,5% of the original nuclear yield of the ore.
It's now mostly transmuted to atoms about half the nuclear weight, just two or three quick nuclear decays away from completely stable (non radioactive) elements.
Except that unlike you that seem to have utter faith on those proposing new nuclear technologies, I have read the GE/Hitachi PRISM reactor stuff, but I'll only believe when they put their money where their mouth is and build the first fully operational reactor out of their own pocket, instead of waiting for govt handouts/subsidies first.

Re:NIMBY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088491)

Yes sir. In normal conditions, the coal smoke is radioactive, as oppose to no emissions from nuclear power plant.
However I think the question no 2 was about nuclear waste that remains after nuclear fuel "burn".

Re:NIMBY (2, Insightful)

john.r.strohm (586791) | about a year ago | (#44088641)

I invite you to observe that the quantity of nuclear waste per kilowatt-hour generated is very very small, compared to the quantity of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, including radioactives, emitted per kilowatt-hour by a coal-burning plant.

You COULD figure this out by noticing that a coal-fired plant takes many, many freight trains of coal per year to haul the fuel in, while a nuclear plant takes on semi-trailer I think every two years or so.

It is also worth noticing that the United States is the only country doing nuclear power generation that does not recycle (reprocess) the spent fuel rods, so that more energy may be extracted, leaving less total waste.

Re:NIMBY (1)

balise (82851) | about a year ago | (#44088569)

You use the waste in what they call a Fast Reactor. http://is.gd/Vc1noJ That's what we have to be building. In addition to renewable building, we must do something about the waste. Hanford WA is leaking right now.

Re:NIMBY (1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about a year ago | (#44088589)

1. How much of that is natural cost and how much of it is paranoid over-regulation? How many subsidies do the existing power companies get for things like "clean" coal?

2. There's several designs that either leave very little spent fuel or leave the fuel in contained chunks that are easily disposed of, additionally there's reactor designs that eat the spent fuel from other reactors and spit out less dangerous waste. The problem with waste is not a technical issue from what I've seen, it's a political one.

3. I'm not really even talking about increasing output, that would be simply a nice side-effect, we need to build new reactors because the old ones are crappy, less-safe designs that are near or past their projected lifespans. Replacing them will allow us to improve safety, reduce waste production and increase output all at once.

Re:NIMBY (1)

winwar (114053) | about a year ago | (#44088831)

Actually it's both technical and political.

For instance, the nuclear waste repository was sited in Nevada for political reasons. It was not a good site otherwise. The best sites were excluded early on for political reasons.

Second, we use the reactors we use because they work and we are familiar with them. At least most of the time. Yes, there are other designs that might work better. In theory. But based on how well the current ones "work", I doubt it.

Re:NIMBY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088319)

The failure to build new plants in the US is largely due to economic reasons. Other power sources are simply cheaper and more convenient. Nuclear power suffers from high capital costs (the cost to build the plant) and quite long construction times. Also the power output of a nuclear plant cannot be quickly regulated to compensate for changes in demand or variations in supply from other sources such as wind.

Natural gas turbines, on the other hand, can be build relatively rapidly for much lower capital cost for the same generating capacity. The fuel cost is at record lows and is anticipated to stay that way for a while. These turbines can also come to full power from a dead stop in about 20 minutes and come to partial power sooner. This allows gas turbines to better integrate with the grid and its variable demand and increasingly variable supply from new wind farms, making its capacity more valuable on per megawatt hour basis.

Re:NIMBY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088817)

I'll add the difference between a nuclear plant and a natural gas plant is the difference between a long bet and a short one. Nuclear power is a very long bet, if everything goes well, it'll take 10 years from the initial investment to producing the first joule of electricity, then you try and make your investment back over the next half century. Natural gas plants can be build for low cost, with a quick return on investment, and if it becomes a white elephant the cost to mothball it is minimal.

Solar frankly has features common to both. High upfront costs like Nuclear, long pay back period, but can be built quickly. Operating costs though are low enough that, while an installation might technically go bankrupt, it'll be profitable from an operating stand point.

Insurmountable issue for nuclear is the cost per name plate kilowatt keeps rising, not falling which is a bad bad sign.

Re:NIMBY (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about a year ago | (#44088441)

The issue is that people assess risk differently. Some people look at the probability of a bad event multiplied by it's magnitude, others just look at the probability of a bad event, others just look at the magnitude. People may not do the math explicitly, but that's effectively what's going on in their head. Now how do you say which method is rational. I like probability of a bad event multiplied by it's magnitude. On the other hand, I will acknowledge the people who are concerned about the magnitude of the events because a low probability event would suck if it happened.

And that's only one factor that makes assessing the decision to build nuclear hard, even if you stick to rational measures.

Re:NIMBY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088451)

It's going to be pretty ugly in a couple decades. It would be nice if people could be rational and let us build newer reactors.

It would be even nicer if people could be rational and thoroughly and honestly solve the nuclear waste issue (and not use "breeder reactor" as a handwave dismissal of the problem as if there were no problem) before begging to build newer reactors. And it would be nicer still if people had a plan for effective alternative and truely clean energy sources to replace the newer reactors when they need retired, and didn't attempt to manipulate mankind into endlessly being dependent on nuclear power just because they like it or they wasted 8 years or their lives studying nuclear engineering and need a job and job security.

Re:NIMBY (1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about a year ago | (#44088625)

Can you explain why the breeders are a handwave?

Re:NIMBY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088841)

Can you explain why the breeders are a handwave?

They don't solve the problem... there is still waste, and even nastier waste. The first thing a nuclear energy proponent must accept if they wish to be intellectually honest is that there is a nuclear waste problem, even if all current reactors were decommissioned and no others were ever built; the problem alredy existed and is inherited.

Breeder reactors are better than those currently operating, but do little to nothing to solve the existing problem. What's the problem? The big issue is that the problem has never seriously been addressed. Every single temporary nuclear waste storage facility was at capacity decades ago... and we're still producing it. And the Yucca Mountain proposal was a political construct, not a scientific one. Moving nuclear waste around isn't a good idea even under the best circumstances.

The problem is the problem is not recognized, overshadowed by supposedly cheap energy. What's worse is when you account for all the money, all the money invested in R&D by the US Government, all the money it takes to educate nuclear engineers, all the money it takes to train nuclear technicians, all the money it takes to train and equip security, all the money it takes to build these things and get them online, all the money it takes to maintain them and keep the operating safely... the reality is nuclear power is only slightly cheaper than solar (photovoltaic) energy, solar thermal energy, wind energy, and pretty much any other truely clean alternative energy, and far more expensive than hydroelectric energy or geothermal energy. The problem includes the fact that even if this is accomplished and we have stable power for the next 80-120 years, Fukushima-scale events will still occur. The problem is nuclear energy must only be a temporary stopgap to tide us over for the next 80-120 years so we don't run out of power or destroy our planet while trying to come up with cleaner cheaper alternative energy sources, and its so expensive it never really make economic sense... we should abandon the idea and pay more now for clean alternative energy... because whatever the "more expensive" non-nuclear energy solution is will only get less expensive as we invest in the technology and sell the power it produces.

If the US hadn't needed fuel for bombs, and instead of the fortunes dumped into nuclear energy we had dumped it into solar R&D, today solar energy would be so cheap it would nearly be free for the utility provider to produce. If we don't heavily invest in alternative clean energy, alternative clean energy will always be more expensive than traditional not-as-clean energy.

The problem is nuclear energy is so expensive and complex and fragile and dangerous it creates as many problems as completely running out of energy.

Re:NIMBY (1)

winwar (114053) | about a year ago | (#44088843)

Please point to the many breeder reactors that have been successfully operating (meeting the claims established for them) for decades.

If you have difficulty (and you will), that's why it's a hand wave.

Re:NIMBY (3, Interesting)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#44088571)

a couple of decades? Let's see with San Onofre offline California residents are paying more in electrical rates now and the power is being generated by more mainline gas generation to make up the shortfall. This article indicates to that it may be difficult for California to meet it's CO2 goals because of the need to burn 360 million cubic feet of gas per day to make up for the loss of the reactors at San Onofre. [rawstory.com]

nuclear power plants are still evolving (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088629)

The United States built a lot of nuclear power plants in the 60s and 70s, before nuclear power plant designs matured. Fortunately, the nuclear construction stopped. France picked up the torch, starting with a GE reactor, made dozens of identical nuclear reactors. They cooperated with Germany, and designed the EPR reactor in the 90s. The EPR is the culmination of several decades of light water nuclear research and design. The EPR has some bugs, that will be fixed. Then, we should build lots of EPRs.

There are still lots of small, unique, old nuclear power plants in America that will be retiring soon.

Fission power is the past (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about a year ago | (#44088237)

At least the kind of jumbled-up ad hoc reactors Americans like to build. What's going on with space-based solar power?

Re:Fission power is the past (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | about a year ago | (#44088309)

Why? Earth-based solar power doesn't work?

Re:Fission power is the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088509)

Not well enough.

Re:Fission power is the past (1)

PNutts (199112) | about a year ago | (#44088541)

What's going on with space-based solar power?

Why? Earth-based solar power doesn't work?

Solar panels on the sun charge things more quickly.

Re:Fission power is the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088361)

At least the kind of jumbled-up ad hoc reactors Americans like to build. What's going on with space-based solar power?

SOMEONE forgot to turn disasters off when they started this city, so every time we build one the microwave beam inevitably sets someone's hair on fire.

Another Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088271)

That we need clean, renewable energy solutions. Shut down all the nuclear and coal plants and subsidize solar and wind energy, and by the end of this century we will have more than met our energy needs.

Re:Another Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088327)

No. Wind and solar are almost useless without something that can run the grid by itself. One of our energy needs is that when we turn something on, it has power.

Re:Another Reason (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44088429)

Wind and solar, sufficiently distributed, can run the planet all by themselves. With some batteries (hydro storage is already deployed in some areas), you get some pretty good baseline power capabilities.

Your dislike of the options doesn't make them bad.

Re:Another Reason (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year ago | (#44088543)

'Sufficiently distributed' wind power can also eliminate all those pesky birds.

It doesn't scale well in a world with other species we need to coexist with.

Re:Another Reason (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44088751)

'Sufficiently distributed' wind power can also eliminate all those pesky birds.

Better tell the Audubon Society, because they support wind power.

Re:Another Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088687)

This is true, but we do have a number of options to fill this role.
- Supplementary generation: hydro power or natural gas. You can simply increase or decrease the amount of water going through the generator or spin up an extra gas turbine as solar or wind power fluctuate.
- Power storage. Pump storage facilities pump water to a high reservoir at times of excess supply and use it to generate power when demand is high. These have been in operation for decades. Compressed air is a newer approach that may be especially useful in flatter areas.
- Averaging. A study a couple of years back looked at potential offshore wind power supply for the US east coast. It found that if offshore wind farms up and down were connected the variations in power would even out quite substantially. (Offshore wind is much more steady and predictable than what we experience on land.)

Re:Another Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088337)

Yes, and let's just concentrate really hard and all hunger, war and pestilence will be over by the end of this century.

Re:Another Reason (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#44088369)

Isn't that how they did it in the Star Trek storyline?

Re:Another Reason (1)

oPless (63249) | about a year ago | (#44088425)

They also had dilithium reactors too.

Re:Another Reason (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088397)

There is another important thing to consider which is demand. Often demand is thought of as inflexible and that we must simply supply what people choose to use.

There is huge potential for power savings in efficiency. Take cooling costs, for example. Air conditioning is a huge part of electric demand. This cost could be greatly reduced in a number of ways:
1) Appliance efficiency standards. A more efficient air conditioner doesn't cost the owner much more up front and saves a bundle in the long run.
2) Insulation standards for new construction. (Its a whole lot cheaper to put it there before the walls are up.)
3) Energy use labeling for home sales. Imagine if the seller were required to provide an energy use estimate. Imagine if mortgage companies required these as part of the application process to see what you could afford. Now owners would be have a stronger incentive to improve the efficiency of their homes, even if they were not sure how long they would stay. Imagine if renters were required to receive the same information.
4) A lighter colored roof. Imagine how many fewer power plants would be required if buildings in warm climates had roofs that reflected more sunlight.

Re:Another Reason (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088419)

Wind subsidies are actually harmful in that windmills are being put in in places where they aren't cost effective and don't belong. Wind energy is profitable, but not everywhere. If you wanted more oranges, would you subsidize orange trees in Alaska? With subsidies, there's no incentive to be more efficient or cut costs -- quite the opposite in fact. This is government accounting run amok -- You need to burn through your budget at any cost to get an increase next year. Saving money is counter productive.

I'm skeptical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088285)

... California's 'forward-looking planning process' has probably mitigated disruption ...

This can't be right. California always seeks to maximize disruption.

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

Alex Pennace (27488) | about a year ago | (#44088365)

I'm skeptical as well. From http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=San_Onofre_Nuclear_Generating_Station&oldid=560938909#NRC_response [wikipedia.org]

In May 2012, two retired natural gas electrical generators were brought back online to help replace the lost power generation capacity: the Huntington Beach Power Station, which produces 440MW of power,[47][48] and the Encina Power Station which provides 965MW; coupled with new conservation measures, this has helped keep power available to San Diego and Riverside counties.[49]

So the "forward-looking planning" seems to rely on two mothballed power stations. Was this *actually* part of some government and/or utility plan, and these two plants were held in reserve as a contingency? Or is it more that they planned to look forward to saying "oh crap" and quickly scrambling to find a stopgap solution?

This subject is shill ridden (5, Interesting)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year ago | (#44088443)

The last time I commented to a post on this subject I saw my karma go from excellent to good because of rabid pro nuke folks modding down anything that asked questions of real long term cost and un subsidized cost of nuclear power per G/Watt versus wind or solar actual costs.

It would be nice to have a real discussion about this with citations to factual numbers, but there seems to be a foaming at the mouth "nuclear power is the only answer" bunch here that wat to obfuscate real data.

Even asking questions about factual discussion of long term nuclear power ACTUAL cost will prolly cost me Karma.

 

Re:This subject is shill ridden (2, Insightful)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#44088503)

wat to obfuscate real data

How else would someone get big expensive nuculer reactors installed??

Re:This subject is shill ridden (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088551)

/. karma > nuclear energy discussion

Re:This subject is shill ridden (0)

KingMotley (944240) | about a year ago | (#44088563)

Well except last I heard, nuclear wasn't being subsidized in the way most people think. They are subsidized loans, defraying the initial upstart cost so that the reactors can be built, but the government isn't really paying for them (nor are the tax payers). It is unlike say corn subsidies or oil/gas subsidies that ultimately the tax payer is paying for.

Re:This subject is shill ridden (3, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44088775)

nuclear wasn't being subsidized in the way most people think. They are subsidized loans

Which are subsidies, plain and simple. Interest on construction loans is a standard cost that has to be dealt with.

Re:This subject is shill ridden (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088783)

Oh, you heard that, did you? I heard that there was a lot of covering up and bribery going on and that was the only way they could actually get them built.

Re:This subject is shill ridden (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088855)

There are two very important subsidies to remember
1. The liability limit created by the Price-Anderson act of 1957. Nuclear producers pay into a common insurance fund which covers their liability up to $12 billion.
2. The government promise to take high level waste and store it forever. (To be fair they really haven't come through on this promise yet, they are just waiting on a politically and scientifically acceptable solution to appear. The utilities are now getting grumpy about having to store their waste on site. )

Simple Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088725)

Don't post (non-anonymously). Instead, mod.

Slashdot is a giant pro nuke circle jerk at this point. You standing in the middle and posting ideas that might rain on their circle jerk parade is just going to invite blue-ball wrath. Let them jerk each other off and then mod them accordingly. Eventually, things will even out or they will realize that circle jerking is not going to change the basic economics that are actually playing out here. At least, one can hope . . .

Re:This subject is shill ridden (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44088743)

The metamod system (does it even exist anymore?) is full of fail, and infected by the same infection that downmods people with different opinions. "No, that downmod of (some opinion I disagree with) is perfectly fine. +1 metamod!"

Re:This subject is shill ridden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088823)

Anyone that thinks solar is cheaper than nukes is a fucking idiot and needs to be down modded.

Really? (2)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year ago | (#44088489)

Quoth TFA:

It is unrealistic to assume that complex new technologies will have a significantly better experience.

I might be wrong, but I was of the understanding that the 1970's generation of nuclear reactors were mostly based on designs proven a decade or more earlier. Is the article suggesting that in fifty years there has been little progress in making them more economical to build and run? This seems hard to believe.

Nuclear power, for good or ill, strikes me as one of the few ways to lever ourselves out of the hole we dug mining fossil fuels. It boggles the mind that in Europe despite having the potential for clean, cheap and abundent energy in nuclear power we're still building fucking gas fired power stations.

They are NOT aging that well. (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#44088553)

Instead, what is needed is for us to produce new reactors such as thorium or the IFR, so that these can replace what is on-site and then burn the 'spent' fuel that is there. By doing this, we can cut our 70,000 tonnes of waste down to 5,000 tonnes of waste, while making a tidy profit and preventing any future accident.

How about some actual research? (5, Interesting)

imikem (767509) | about a year ago | (#44088557)

What I find utterly baffling is that research in this field appears to be dead in the USA, Europe and Japan. We seem to be content to watch China, India and a few others design and build the next generation of nuclear reactors. Then we will have the privilege of spending money to decommission our own hopelessly obsolete reactors. We will pay higher rates as the availability and diversity of power sources is reduced. We will endure unreliable swings and reduction of supply. We will pay for electricity generated by the new guys on the block. We will watch as yet more industry moves where there is cheap, reliable power.

When we've had enough of all that, we'll spend money to license their designs since we made a point of making "intellectual property" central to our international agreements. Those countries will be more than happy to throw our IP regime regime right back in our collective face.

The NIMBYs, the willfully ignorant, and a few well-meaning critics have "won" in the West, and so thoroughly that even building research reactors has become impossible. The above will be their "prize".

Re:How about some actual research? (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44088747)

What I find utterly baffling is that research in this field appears to be dead in the USA, Europe and Japan.

Why would any company in their right mind research new reactor designs in countries where the government won't let them be built?

Re:How about some actual research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44088867)

The NIMBYs are coke-snorting, sports-car-driving, trust-fund shits who basically took time out from their partying and their supermodels to piss on something that we love. Fuck them.

Retirement isn't bad (4, Insightful)

meustrus (1588597) | about a year ago | (#44088683)

Please don't talk about "early" retirement like it's bad to retire nuclear plants too early. The real problem in the world is that they are not being retired at all long past their originally intended lifetime. These power plants are literally blowing up. Every first world nuclear disaster involves an old power plant that should have been retired a long time ago. This is a serious problem caused by people thinking that they can just eke a little more out of these reactors instead of spending the huge amounts it takes to build new ones. So please, don't tell the world that we should be wary of "early" retirement like there are even any reactors that young anymore.

Re:Retirement isn't bad (2)

meustrus (1588597) | about a year ago | (#44088719)

Aaaaand read TFA. The summary is absolutely f***ing terrible. The article is precisely about why these reactors need to be retired, the reasons they aren't, and an economic argument that they shouldn't have been built in the first place (I think they should have but that's beside the point). The summary implies that retiring these reactors is some kind of scam to "extract concessions from rate-payers". That phrase may appear once in TFA, but it's as an argument not to rely on nuclear power in the first place and not to never retire the reactors as I feel the summary implied.

leverage (1)

shentino (1139071) | about a year ago | (#44088821)

"early retirement of plants to extract concessions" -- leverage and coercion right there.

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