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Gas Cooled Reactors Shut Down In UK

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the closing-the-doors dept.

United Kingdom 120

mdsolar writes EDF Energy, the British subsidiary of the French state-controlled utility, said on Monday that it was shutting down three nuclear reactors and that a reactor with a fault that has been shut down since June would remain so. The facilities, which are being investigated as a precaution, generate nearly a quarter of nuclear capacity in Britain. The British Office for Nuclear Regulation said that there had been no release of radioactive material and no injuries. Industry experts did not anticipate much effect on electricity supplies or prices in the short term. EDF said that over the next few days it would idle a second reactor at the facility, Heysham 1, in northwest England. The company said it would also shut down two other reactors of similar design at Hartlepool in northeast England to investigate whether they had the same flaws.

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energy production is for niggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47651169)

Posh people demand fewer reactors on home soil and more giant hamster wheels full of negroes to be built on the black continent. All we need is one big undersea cable to supply our country with power produced by the most clean method in history: slave fucking labor, bitches.

Re:energy production is for niggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47651251)

Slave or serf labor isn't clean, you ginormous dumbfuck, as they are smelly, shit everywhere and die on the job.

And Brits don't need to look abroad, with it's high number of people on the dole and history of press-gangs, you can build and operate the hamster wheels right at home; maybe a giant one in front of Parliament or Buckhingham for Her Majesty's pleasure.

I'd tell you to volunteer, for Queen & Country and all that but they'll just grab your lazy ass right at the offtrack betting.

Re:energy production is for niggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47651273)

Slave or serf labor isn't clean, you ginormous dumbfuck, as they are smelly, shit everywhere and die on the job..

But we are also going to sterilize them, so they won't breed. This solves two problems at once.

By the way, would you like to meet me on the street so we can see whether you can back up
your shit talk ? I didn't think so, you cock-gobbling faggot piece of shit.

Re:energy production is for niggers (-1, Offtopic)

Dzimas (547818) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651421)

See? This is what happens when an infinite number of monkeys sit down at an infinite number of typewriters to write an infinite number of masterpieces. It reads like an ode to Tourette's Syndrome.

Up yours, loser. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47651905)

Wasting my time beating the crap out of yet another moron with nothing better to do since he's already blown this months' welfare check isn't worth the effort and brings no satisfaction.
Your time would be better spent peddling your ass for a place to sleep. Happy skid trails.

Re:energy production is for niggers (1, Troll)

lgw (121541) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651925)

you can build and operate the hamster wheels right at home; maybe a giant one in front of Parliament or Buckhingham for Her Majesty's pleasure.

I though London already had a giant hamster wheel [wikipedia.org] on the South Bank - the EDF Energy Hamster Wheel?

not big in UK (3, Insightful)

iggymanz (596061) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651189)

UK gets about 18% of its power from nuclear (before this shutdown). Four new plants are planned at two sites that EDF energy owns, ground broken for those

Re:not big in UK (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47651243)

Yeah, but like you said, the present neocon government is willing to give HUGE corporate welfare to make new nuclear reactor plans viable.

I used to be entirely pro-nuclear on a scientific basis. Now I see how humans behave in practice when it comes to the trade-off between safety and profit/reputation. I see how much nuclear power is really reverse Hollywood accounting, where you hide how much of the real cost is borne by government. And I would prefer a transition from fossil directly to renewable, even if that means overriding the whiny bitches who somehow think fracking is safer and more economic than wind because you can't actually SEE what's happening underground.

Re:not big in UK (2)

Mikkeles (698461) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651449)

True, but this seems to apply to all large scale power generation, whether it's land for hydro or windmills (and screw the people living there who have to put up with it or move) or cash for nuclear. To say nothing of externalizing the environmental costs.

It's called subsidizing (if you disagree with it) or incentivising (if you do).

Re:not big in UK (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653327)

We just had two major off shore wind farm projects blocked on the Norfolk coast (thats Norfolk, UK) because of "environmental concerns", and one fell through a few years back because of NIMBYs not wanting the power cable link up to go through their general area.

The entire thing is a joke - even renewable energy projects run into major "environmental" issues :/

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653735)

We just had two major off shore wind farm projects blocked on the Norfolk coast (thats Norfolk, UK) because of "environmental concerns", and one fell through a few years back because of NIMBYs not wanting the power cable link up to go through their general area.

The entire thing is a joke - even renewable energy projects run into major "environmental" issues :/

Not to mention the technical issues consisting of "not actually working".

Re:not big in UK (1, Troll)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651623)

'Renewable' fuels are a misnomer. The sun will run out of fuel too sometime. When that happens you can forget about solar panels or windmills.

Of course that's in geological timescales so it does not matter. There is enough nuclear fission fuel to last for thousands of years so that is irrelevant as well. As for oil we have been using it for over a century by now and it seems we haven't ran out of it yet.

Re:not big in UK (1)

dfsmith (960400) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651901)

'Renewable' fuels are a misnomer. The sun will run out of fuel too sometime.

But the sun is renewable. Where do you think our current Sun came from? Recycled stars.

Re:not big in UK (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652615)

Go to Wikipedia and read the entry on Entropy.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47652819)

I tried explaining this to a chemist the other night and they flipped out. Asking people to think at larger and longer scales makes them unhappy. I hear a lot of "I don't care" and "that doesn't matter". For people who should be versed in physics and logic to deny what their own model says is pitiful--regardless of whether they like the conclusions or not. Apparently, when you say Universe, most people think it ends at happy hour and picks back up at work the next day, and is limited to a 5 mile radius.

Re:not big in UK (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653443)

It's OK, AC will sort the chaos out.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654149)

The only things that contribute to a model are the things we know and that someone has determined relevant to the model. This is a major flaw. While it's our best guess, at the end of the day it's still a guess. That's why people lean towards "don't know" / "don't care" in 5 10 15 20 years from now what we "know" today to be true will change (more than likely many times) and we'll look back in wonder the same way we did at the flat earth theory.

Re:not big in UK (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655989)

This is why the world "renewable" is such a misnomer. Oil is also a renewable resource. It formed naturally on the Earth and is continuously replenishing itself. Some say the replenishing rate is higher than our current consumption rate but that does not make it any less renewable. Same thing for coal.

Both solar pv and windmills are powered by the energy of the sun so they are both ways of harnessing a natural fusion power source.

Re:not big in UK (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655997)

s/higher/lower/

Re:not big in UK (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a month and a half ago | (#47656031)

Imagine if I covered the sun with a Dyson sphere blanketed with solar panels. Would solar power stop being a "renewable" then?

Re:not big in UK (1)

ultranova (717540) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653571)

Of course that's in geological timescales so it does not matter.

Astronomical, actually. It takes millions of years for continental drift to change the face of the Earth, while Sun requires a hundred times that much to change significantly.

As for oil we have been using it for over a century by now and it seems we haven't ran out of it yet.

The price of oil has risen a lot recently, and there's talk and even practical attempts to tap unconventional sources, which are far more expensive to extract than conventional oil wells. From basic laws of economics we can conclude that this means the conventional sources are running out, or at least unable to increase production to keep up with demand.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654177)

You're funny dude. My guess is that when that happens we'll have a little more to worry about than generating electricity. We are running out of oil (or so the powers that be tell us), but who knows? Tomorrow some company may "discover" another large pool underground somewhere that will now be sold at a higher rate due to "scarcity".

Re:not big in UK (1)

jez9999 (618189) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652015)

I used to be entirely pro-nuclear on a scientific basis. Now I see how humans behave in practice when it comes to the trade-off between safety and profit/reputation. I see how much nuclear power is really reverse Hollywood accounting, where you hide how much of the real cost is borne by government. And I would prefer a transition from fossil directly to renewable

And could you explain how your "renewables" will be significantly cheaper than nuclear? Or not take up shitloads of space for the same amount of power generation? Or generate a significant baseload of electricity as the wind and sunlight fluctuate?

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653117)

Past experience has shown that rooftop solar is more practical than rooftop nuclear, so the space argument seems to be in favor of solar for now.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655437)

Nuclear is not even competing aka decentralized tech.

Re:not big in UK (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652033)

Yeah, but like you said, the present neocon government is willing to give HUGE corporate welfare to make new nuclear reactor plans viable.

Given that Nuclear power is the best way to reduce CO2 emissions, wouldn't that make sense?
http://www.scientificamerican.... [scientificamerican.com]
Check out the silver consumption of Solar... silver mining is terrible for the environment.
Keep in mind the graph doesn't track CO2 output of burning the fuel itself. So Coal, oil, natural gas and biomass fuels would have huge CO2 impacts. Biomass consumes much of what it produces, but it still imbalances CO2 levels throughout the seasons (spikes in the winter, troughs in the summer) Hydroelectric has the lowest impact, but damns are terrible for river ecosystems. Nuclear power has the least direct impact, though older reactor designs put out warm water that can lead to algae blooms in the immediate area. I used to live next to one, the areas where the water exited the plant were the best fishing spots in the state.

If we can build foolproof reactors, and we can, then nuclear power is by far and away the best and safest source of power we have.

Re: not big in UK (1)

xuchilpaba (3645217) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652667)

Solar don't necessarily needs silver. There are different designs. Plus keep an eye on new battery technologies and smart grid. Solar will surely be the main energy resource for quite sometime. Even if nuclear will be used, there are cheaper and extremely secure(leaking wise) reactor designs with nearly no unusable radioactive waste. They are smaller though.

Re:not big in UK (2, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653369)

My BS detector went off when I saw that graph, so I had to actually read the paper... and now I understand the graph and it's not at all what it seems to be.

See that giant circle for silver? That doesn't mean "a massive amount of silver", or even "a massive amount of environmental impact from silver". These circles are sized proportionally to how much more of a resource is needed than in the current generation mix, if all power came from that source. Since almost no silver is used in the current generation mix, anything that actually uses silver - even if a rather small amount - will dramatically inflate its circle.

In all of the study's graphs, the amount of silver used is so small that the bars don't even register one pixel tall, so you can't really estimate how much they're talking about. The only graph where you see any height at all, Fig 8, is the graph relative to total world production - but even in their highest scenario it's less than 0.5% of world production. And the study itself notes, "Silver in PV cells might be replaced by other metals". Silver has only a 6% better conductivity than copper, it's not a big difference. And if you're willing to use slightly thicker or more frequent connects, you can use cheap and hyper-abundant aluminum. Either way, the amount of metal involved is practically irrelevant, the interconnects we're talking about here are practically microscopic.

Re:not big in UK (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653519)

Indeed that 'Scientific' American graph reeks of bias against renewables.

I'd like to see their explanation of how uranium doesn't require the largest amount of energy to process or that somehow the nuclear industry doesn't use much uranium relative to all of the other industries.

Also noted that they make weasely comments against solar and wind but not coal etc (growing crops for fuel is retarded outright).

I'm getting sick of all the bad science coming out of supposedly good institutions. There's been the BS article about nuclear's carbon footprint that conveniently ignores much of the nuclear power cycle. And the spurious crap like wind power kills a lot of birds, wind power is noisy, wind power is too intermittent, wind turbines break a lot and have short lifespans, solar is expensive, there isn't enough room for solar or wind, renewables transmission is too expensive.

Re:not big in UK (1)

brambus (3457531) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655159)

And the spurious crap like [...] wind power is too intermittent

Indeed, who could ever present such slanderous accusations? Oh wait, how about actual grid measurements [imgur.com] ? (Aggregate German whole-grid performance numbers from Dec 2013 broken down by source.)

Re:not big in UK (1)

dkf (304284) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654333)

And the study itself notes, "Silver in PV cells might be replaced by other metals".

What's more, the total amount of silver required by world industry has been dropping a lot recently due to the switch to digital photography. Silver availability really isn't a problem.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47652531)

What about the huge rebates that must be given to renewable, just to build a system that doesn't deliver?

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654213)

Ok I see what you did there. Your bias is clearly showing. At least you're honest. Perhaps if you wanted to be completely transparent you'd have mentioned the way the liberals have foisted this renewable wind nonsense on us. Has to be met with spinning reserves so that when the wind dies you have something to back up the load. Have to puchase it from suppliers whenever the wind is blowing (guaranteed income for those guys). Don't forget either that wind has the highest cost / MWh. The only reason they're economically viable is due to the fact that it's subsidized by the government. But yeah the neocons and their nukes... Funny thing about these liberals. They seem to be just as hell bent on making money no matter the cost. Perhaps greed is bipartisan.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655499)

The support of Solar is bipartisan aka Green Tea Party and Markets in a Coalition with Sierra Club.

Re:not big in UK (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654741)

Part of the problem is that without government incentives/subsidies, companies will go for the highest-profit methods of power generation available.

Which means that the only plants built will be fossil fuel plants.

I don't believe that we currently have the technology to fully switch to renewable and won't for a few decades. Nuclear provides that bridge - Ideally after one more generation of nuclear reactors (modern designs are FAR safer than the existing ones) we'll have the storage technology to properly use renewables. In the worst case that renewables are STILL not ready, by then we will hopefully have some descendants of the IFR breeder reactor design coming online. Last time I saw a calculation, I believe the estimate was that IFR designs could have supplied the entire electrical needs of the USA for a century using only existing LWR waste stockpiles. (One of the big benefits of the IFR is that extracts a FAR higher percentage of the available energy from nuclear fuel, and the end waste products are only hot for 200 years or so.)

Re:not big in UK (5, Informative)

DaveAtWorkAnnoyingly (655625) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651247)

Ground isn't broken and the company hasn't even committed to building them yet. (I work for EDF Energy)

Jaw dropping (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652153)

$27 billion for Hinkley Point....

Re:Jaw dropping (2)

weilawei (897823) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652843)

From Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk] :

EDF expects to miss its own deadline for deciding whether to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation, the Telegraph can disclose.

The French energy giant announced in October that it planned to take a final investment decision on the £16bn Hinkley Point C plant by July, after striking a landmark subsidy deal with government.

But it now believes that an ongoing European Commission investigation into whether the subsidies are illegal state aid will not be fully resolved until autumn, forcing its decision on the Somerset plant back until then.

The delay could threaten EDF’s plans to deliver first power from the plant in 2023 – a timescale it had said was “subject to a final investment decision by July 2014”.

EDF has been at pains to insist it can deliver Hinkley “on time and on budget”, despite its Flamanville reactor in France being dogged by cost blowouts and years of delays.

From EDF [edfenergy.com] :

6 May 14
Phase II preparatory works begin on site

At this phase of the project these works help to prepare the site ahead of the main construction following a final investment decision. These initial works include the construction of roundabouts, temporary construction roads and drainage works, all of which are reversible. Visit our community hub to see the planned works.

They appear to be building housing and beefing up the roads, but a final investment decision appears to have been postponed.

Re:Jaw dropping (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654053)

Wow, what a ginormous waste of money - does it even include the massive subsidies that they will get for the electricity as they rob the taxpayer to pay their share-holders.

Some quick math, $27b would buy 20GW of solar panels at consumer retail price, 13GW installed utility scale.

$27bil could buy 62 to 101GWh of battery storage.

And how big is this nuclear power station going to be? Only 3.2GW

Re:Jaw dropping (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654291)

I think England is culturally tied to the idea of keeping the home fires burning which give nuclear power a kind of hold on them that technically it does not merit. That may explain the huge price they are willing to pay.

Re:Jaw dropping (1)

dkf (304284) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654359)

I think England is culturally tied to the idea of keeping the home fires burning which give nuclear power a kind of hold on them that technically it does not merit. That may explain the huge price they are willing to pay.

The English power consumption profile is winter-biased, and that's when loss of power can really cause trouble. Politicians think it is better (in electoral terms) to over-spend than to have the lights (and heating!) go out; they may be right on that.

Re:Jaw dropping (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654515)

Yes, but it takes a while for the penny to drop that synthesizing methane using wind power would be more reliable. Nuclear seems more like a fire pit in a Saxon shelter than that.

Re:Jaw dropping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655181)

synthesizing methane using wind power would be more reliable

Are you even real? There's no way anyone could be that stupid to actually believe that.

Calculate the number of turbines required to cover the entire UK nuclear generating capacity. Don't forget to factor in the huge efficiency loses. Get back to us on that.

Re:Jaw dropping (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655435)

The Navy seems to have this kind of thing covered. http://blogs.discovermagazine.... [discovermagazine.com] If the gas turbine is 60% efficient, then this will be nearly twice as efficient as a nuclear plant. And the wind resource is not lacking. "The United Kingdom has been estimated to have over a third of Europe's total offshore wind resource, which is equivalent to three times the electricity needs of the nation at current rates of electricity consumption." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Jaw dropping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47656365)

Right, so that's half of it: burning the methane in gas turbines. 40% loss right there. What about the other half; producing it? How much do you think we'd need to produce, transport, store and burn, to match the current output of the UK's nuclear generating capacity? Oh and what's the environmental impact of converting water into hydrocarbons and burning it?

Re:Jaw dropping (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month and a half ago | (#47656641)

The Navy likes its efficiency. And, the methane is a drop in replacement for natural gas. The UK already has a natural gas infrastructure. So, it all looks much much less expensive than nuclear power. The environmental impact is benign of course since it is carbon neutral.

Re:Jaw dropping (3, Insightful)

brambus (3457531) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654857)

You made the very basic error of comparing nameplate capacity. You also need to consider capacity factor, which for solar in UK latitudes is around 0.1 - 0.15, whereas the EPRs that they plan to construct here are 0.9. So taking that into account, your 13 GW utility scale solar suddenly shrinks to <2 GW, whereas the nuclear plant is still around 3 GW. So before we even get to dispatchability of the power source and seasonal loading, solar loses by about 1/3 to the most wildly overpriced nuclear power plant I've ever seen in my life. Next you need to consider that the nuclear plant is planned to operate for 60 years, whereas the solar plant is most likely going to need replacement after 30 or at most 40 years. Finally, the $27B cost of the plant seems to me to be wildly out of whack with what these very same reactors cost in places like China [wikipedia.org] (cheaper by about a factor of 4x). Meanwhile Russia is also building modern VVER-1200s [wikipedia.org] at an equivalent cost of 4x cheaper than the plant in the UK. Make of this what you will, but it appears to me that the western world is losing its industrial prowess and losing it fast.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47651359)

Unsurprising after the Windscale Fire that nuclear power is unpopular in the UK, even if the unpopularity is (today) unfounded.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47651451)

Unsurprising after the Windscale Fire that nuclear power is unpopular in the UK, even if the unpopularity is (today) unfounded.

Especially in this case since Windscale was also gas-cooled.

Re:not big in UK (3, Informative)

Rising Ape (1620461) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651667)

Especially in this case since Windscale was also gas-cooled.

Air-cooled. Which is indeed a gas, but very different to the CO2-cooled reactors described here. Windscale was an air-cooled, open-loop plutonium production reactor designed in the 1940s. It didn't generate electricity and has very little relation to the later electricity-generating reactors.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47651821)

Both air and gas make a WHOOOOOOSHing sound

Re:not big in UK (5, Interesting)

Vanders (110092) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651511)

Unsurprising after the Windscale Fire that nuclear power is unpopular in the UK

Windscale was 60 years ago, in an air-cooled open loop pile who's only purpose was to produce plutonium and other nuclear isotopes as quickly as possible and damn the consequences.

Most people now don't even remember what Windscale was or even recognise the name. Out of those that do, a lot of them understand the different between Windscale and their local nuclear power station.

To the best of my personal knowledge, nuclear power is not unpopular in the UK, Windscale or otherwise. If anything the attitude appears to be "Get on and build the damn things!" and "Why are we letting the French/Chinese build them, I remember when the UK used to build things!".

Re:not big in UK (2)

sjames (1099) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652877)

Windscale is amazing. An actual reactor where the core was open to the atmosphere (and cooled by blowing air through it!). It did remarkably little harm for such a design.

As compared to our standards today, one might expect Europe to be inhabited exclusively by shambling radiation burned mutants now.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653145)

one might expect Europe to be inhabited exclusively by shambling radiation burned mutants now.

Wait, it isn't?

Re:not big in UK (1)

sjames (1099) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653349)

It's a common misconception. No more than 10% of the population is shambling radiation burned mutants.

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654701)

limey shambling mutants are due to inbreeding not radiation

Re:not big in UK (1)

tomhath (637240) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653923)

Odd as it seems, radiation wouldn't leak out of a reactor with that design. Radiation isn't like smoke going up a stack, the material in the reactor is what's radioactive.

Re:not big in UK (1)

sjames (1099) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655821)

It did have particulate filters and such, but no effort was made to contain the iodine and xenon.

But then it caught fire...

Re:not big in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654245)

Ahhhhh, that explains much. I always wondered what was wrong with those Europeans.

Re:not big in UK (1)

Alioth (221270) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653389)

As of today, the UK is still getting this much from nuclear (19% right at this very moment). The shutdowns don't seem to have really made much of a decrease in the total nuclear supply.

http://www.gridwatch.templar.c... [templar.co.uk]

EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (2)

haruchai (17472) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651203)

Taking that many GW-hrs of production offline for that length of time is a serious outage.
Greater modularity would allow for a quicker ID of the scope of the problem, even if the total time to repair or replace would be greater.

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47651277)

Greater modularity would allow for a quicker ID of the scope of the problem, even if the total time to repair or replace would be greater.

Say what? How does having a larger number of small reactors make it easier to spot the cause of a problem? As far as I can see, the only way this might be the case is due to a larger number of reactors available to develop a fault.

Bloody hell, I just noticed who posted this. Has someone hacked mdsolar's account? I reads like something written by an honest-to-goodness reporter of facts (I'd say journalist, but that has long since ceased to be an accurate definition, assuming it ever was).

modular is often the opposite of more smaller (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651825)

> How does having a larger number of small reactors

He didn't say that. He said modular. As in, each turbine module should be separable from each reactor module. Within the reactor itself, you'd have separate modules that you could inspect or replace, rather than bringing the whole facility down for eight weeks. If you're looking at cooling issue, you take one cooling module down at a time rather than taking apart the whole facility.

Often, larger things are more modular, while smaller versions are built in one piece, so "more modular" certainly does not mean "smaller" or "a larger quanity of".

You're right, mdsolar seems to have submitted something that isn't outright propaganda. It IS about precautions regarding a potential flaw with the UK's reactor design, so in that sense it is "anti-nuke" and by extension "pro (md)solar", but it's largely objective and factual.

Already like that to an extent, but ... (4, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652633)

Would be nice at the sub-unit level but take a look at a thermal power station to get some idea that the scale makes it impractical once you have enough steam to spin a turbine. Big turbines with lots of high pressure steam get the job done far better than little ones. Of course you could have something like a lot of little pebble bed reactors making steam in parallel on the boiler side making it possible to just shut down one reactor, but after the stuff is boiled it's pretty well the whole unit goes down for just about anything.

Notice that I used the word "unit". A thermal power station can be made up, for example, of eight units, with eight turbine rotors, eight boilers (nukes would include reactors at that bit) and each unit using half a cooling tower each. You can take 1/8 of the plant down without impacting on the rest and that's what's done with scheduled maintanance.
However it looks like this situation is like grounding all of a type of aircraft when a fault is found, so it's thought of being serious enough to check out all the reactors of that type at once and being worth shutting down every unit of that type. So modularity is not going to save you so long as at least one part subject to the "recall" is required by each unit.

The French had this a few times and had to shut down all of their commercial nuclear power plants at once on occasion but it's not a nuclear thing, it's the drawback of a monoculture.

Re:Already like that to an extent, but ... (1)

olau (314197) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654023)

The French had this a few times and had to shut down all of their commercial nuclear power plants at once on occasion but it's not a nuclear thing, it's the drawback of a monoculture.

Actually, this is not entirely true. If the security concerns over nuclear weren't so high, you wouldn't have to shutdown everything, and vice versa even without monoculture, you may have to shutdown the whole industry if flaws in inspection rules are found (witness Japan for a recent example).

That word doesn't mean what you think it does (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654929)

> Big turbines with lots of high pressure steam get the job done far better than little ones. Of course you could have something like a lot of little pebble bed reactors

Modular
noun
something, as a house or piece of furniture, built or organized in self-contained units or sections.
http://dictionary.reference.co... [reference.com]

Modularity has nothing to do with big versus small. Think of a modular home for example, it's not made up of lots of little homes. Modular means steam from one reactor core piped to different turbines, for example, because the turbine attaches to the reactor core only at defined interface points, otherwise they are separate modules. Which means you can do maintenance on a turbine module without touching the reactor core.

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651443)

These plants were built in the 70s, and have been running for quite a while. They are AGR models, very few build and troublesome compared to most of the PWR designs. Despite that, they have generated a bunch of power, and probably will continue to as soon as the issues are worked out.

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651493)

These reactors are relatively new, "commissioned in 1983", but that's still over twenty years old. The main goals of reactor design are safety and efficiency. With that in mind I'm sure they've done quite a bit of design work on making these things more maintenance friendly. Especially since the shutdowns are precautionary after they found a problem at the first one. They're searching for something that may not even exist.

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651515)

If they more solar, as some folks think wise, they could lose even more electrical generation than this every single evening.

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651559)

1983 was over thirty years ago, just for the record :)

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652279)

1983 was over thirty years ago, just for the record :)

Great, now I feel old.

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (2)

xaxa (988988) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651545)

Taking that many GW-hrs of production offline for that length of time is a serious outage.

It's still summer here, so there's probably lots of space capacity elsewhere. Few homes have air conditioning, the outside temperature tomorrow is forecast to peak at 21C in London. August is the month with the lowest demand.

There are some graphs and dials here: http://www.gridwatch.templar.c... [templar.co.uk]

I'm surprised nuclear power varies over the year -- does anyone know why?

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (2)

DamonHD (794830) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651569)

Maintenance and refuelling is done when demand is low, eg in summer.

In the UK I don't think any nukes explicitly load-follow, unlike in France for example, though one (Sizewell B) could.

Rgds

Damon

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (5, Interesting)

DaveAtWorkAnnoyingly (655625) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651739)

Correct. Sizewell B can load follow, but we (I work there) haven't done this for years. It is however getting more likely due to the increasingly unstable nature of the National Grid, partly due to lots of smaller generators of which the grid has no control over coming online (windfarms). I believe the AGRs can also load follow. The nukes generate at baseload, full output, whenever they're on. Our frequency control is maintained by the coal and gas generators.

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (1)

sjames (1099) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652883)

It wouldn't help in this case. The shutdown is precautionary until they can determine if the problem is systematic due to a design flaw or not. In a more modular system, they would still have to shut down all of the modules until they could make the determination.

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653471)

One imagines that sort of thing comes with using non-prehistoric reactor designs.

Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653739)

One imagines that sort of thing comes with using non-prehistoric reactor designs.

How about a power source that shuts down every single night. That would suck, wouldn't it?

take Japanese approach Let them melt DOWN (0)

deysOfBits (2198798) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651281)

The Japanese are really sophisticated so lets let these nuclear reactors melt down as in fukushiama According to Japan radiation is good for you and there are no ill effects Hell the Japanese have even forced forced former residents against there will back to live in Fukushiama it is so safe (read we wont pay you for your house so either move back or live in poverty). Anyone want to buy a house in fukushiama Its safe believe m e. Remember radiation has not ill effects !!!

Oh look it's mdsolar again (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47651485)

a reactor with a fault that has been shut down since June would remain so

The reactor, in fact, doesn't have a fault. There was a potential issue identified in the heat exchanger at one unit, found during a routine check, and the others have been shut down early to allow the heat exchangers at those to also be checked earlier than scheduled.

As much as mdsolar wishes it was, this is in fact a non-issue. The system and safety protocols are working precisely as they were designed.

Re:Oh look it's mdsolar again (1)

haruchai (17472) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651941)

It's hardly a non-issue when you're taking gigawatt-hrs of baseload offline for 2 months.
Granted, it's not such a big issue in summer but that's just dumb luck. This could just have easily happened in mid-winter although it would be much easier to keep a gas-cooled reactor cooled in February than in August. :-)

Re:Oh look it's mdsolar again (1, Insightful)

Captain Hook (923766) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653379)

The system and safety protocols are working precisely as they were designed.

Actually, the faults were found by chance, there wasn't a specific check for this which could be scheduled and signed off, it was just an engineer noticed something odd while doing other inspections.

So while you are right in that this is not a huge safety issue and we weren't minutes from disaster, I wouldn't agree that the system and safety protocols are particularly brilliant either.

Heysham (1, Troll)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651549)

I once designed a huge display clock for the reception area of Heysham nuclear power station. The clock had a sweep second hand that traced out a ring of LEDs once per minute, and a counter that showed the number of days since the last industrial accident. The specification called for this counter to have just three digits, which frankly didn't inspire much confidence.

Re:Heysham (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651607)

You are mis-representing the clock. It is common to have a clock for continuous days without an outage, 3 digits would be up to 999, which is well beyond the refueling cycle. Its a measure to show the results of their preventative maintenance and operations effectiveness, and quite impressive numbers are often achieved. Some plants do clocks for number of days without a workplace injury, which is typical of any industry, and also pretty much unheard of to go 999 days with the type of maintenance activities that go on without someone falling or cutting themselves or hurting their back.

I can assure you it was not for time between nuclear accidents, but don't let that little truth stop you from you from making a slant.

Re:Heysham (2)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651673)

I can assure you it was not for time between nuclear accidents, but don't let that little truth stop you from you from making a slant.

I never claimed it was. I designed the thing; it was pretty clear they meant industrial accident in the normal sense of someone cutting themselves, dropping a hammer on their foot, etc. Nevertheless it struck me as a strange thing to want to put on display, because no matter what value the display showed up to 999, it would either be misinterpreted (e.g. as a nuclear accident) or always look far too low. The only way it would ever be impressive would be if it had a 10-digit display that always showed some very large number (but then that would be dishonest). So what's the point of it? Not for me to question, we were happy to take the customer's money.

Re:Heysham (1)

DaveAtWorkAnnoyingly (655625) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651757)

It's not meant to be "impressive", it's simply meant to be honest. All the sites do it, and anyway, three years (~999 days) without an industrial accident leading to time off work is impressive for any large industrial site that employs about 600 full time staff and another 300 odd contractors.

Re:Heysham (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653937)

a counter that showed the number of days since the last industrial accident. The specification called for this counter to have just three digits, which frankly didn't inspire much confidence.

I don't think you know what counts as an "industrial accident". You seem to think it means a Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. I have worked in such industries and a cook in the canteen cutting her hand with a potato peeler counts as an industial accident. I'm not exagerating. That did happen where I work and the fuss about that cut hand went on for days - we were called in to "refresher" safety lectures, circulars were sent round, we were sick of hearing about it. The cook herself was no doubt highly embarrassed by it all.

The truth is that the management were in a pissing contest with other industrial sites for safety awards, and they had lost Brownie points. I think if I cut my hand I would sneak out to the car park and secretly bandage myself with my car first aid kit rather than go to a site first-aider.

To go 999 days on such a site with no "industrial accidents" would be, frankly, incredible.

Sigh! (3, Interesting)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651551)

Although it seems like they've recognized and are addressing a minor engineering issue before it becomes a problem, it seems like this will be portrayed as another in a continuing series of black eyes for the nuclear alternative to our energy needs.

There is no present, perfect way to deliver the electricity those of us on the grid have come to appreciate. When you're talking about the mainstays of the grid's backbone (coal, crude, gas, hydroelectric, nuclear), none are generated without environmental consequence.

Continue to develop the renewables, but for fuck's sake, don't take nuclear off the table based on the performance of aging plants.

Re:Sigh! (0, Troll)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651705)

Isn't that awesome?

IF they address issues in a safe and responsible manner, they get slammed.
If they ignore it, and a meltdown occurs, it's even worse.
If they do what needs to be done to avoid a meltdown/accident, but don't tell anyone, they get accused of sweeping things under the rug.

Oh, and they get the Nimbitards all riled up if they decide to build new plants; despite in part, building the new plants to address the concerns raised by the NIMBY types over the old plants.

=/

(Yes, you could say just ditch nuclear power; but should that happen without drops in consumption, or something else to fill the gap coming online?)

Re:Sigh! (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653201)

There are two issues unique to nuclear that case people not to want it.

1. The extreme cost. As you are probably aware, the UK government has had to guarantee well above the going rate for energy generated from new nuclear plants for their entire lifetimes just to get them built. Even so, only the Chinese are interested in doing it. Current plants were built by the government that literally could not give them away in the 80s when they were privatised, until it agreed to shoulder most of the costs of running and decommissioning them.

2. Single point of failure. As this event demonstrates problems with reactors can knock gigawatts off the grid for long periods of time. Other sources tend not to suffer from that kind of failure, and some sources like wind are extremely widely distributed and fault tolerant.

As for judging nuclear by the performance of ageing plants, the newer designs are not significantly better in any of these areas. We can see what other countries are building and they have all the same problems.

Re:Sigh! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653641)

1. Yes but there are also benefits, in that nuclear produces low-CO2 base load reliably. In any developed economy, that ability to maintain a reliable base load is worth far more economically than the capex upfront cost.

2. If you're running your generating capacity so close to the edge that a single shutdown takes you below demand, you're doing it wrong anyway. Reactors are routinely shut down for inspection and refuelling anyway. Note that these 4 reactors are currently shut down, and it hasn't impacted the UK's ability to keep the lights on.

Re:Sigh! (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654153)

1. Yes, when the government mandates that something MUST be privatized the result is that companies take advantage of the government requirement, especially when there is essentially no competition. Its like a tax auction, you don't walk in with a high bid, you start with the absolute lowest possible one you can. Would you rather pay %50 of the price of your next car, or sticker price plus $20k?

2. They shut down 4 reactors and there is no perceivable impact and none expected for any time in the near future, clearly a dangerous single point of failure ... Do you know what the word single means? You can't have a single point of failure when there are 4 of them. You can't have a single point of failure when nothing fails when 4 of them go down without an actual failure.

mdsolar and yourself must be buddies in FUD.

Subject (1)

MaxiCat_42 (711203) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651563)

These are just boiler cracks - sorry the apocalypse is not going to happen. Power draw is low at this time of year so there is no real affect on national electricity resources.

Phil

Re: Subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653793)

True, but the water in the 2ndry loop is at higher pressure than the co2 on the reactor primary loop. If the boiler heat exchanger cracks, the water will enter the reactor core, which is not desired.

Admittedly, this wouldn't be catastrophic (no zirconium, so no hydrogen production) and the water /steam would be a good coolant, but the reactor is not intended to hold water and corrosion and reactivity (moderator) effects are highly undesirable, not to mention risk of damage to the graphite core.

is this Torness? Or some other plant?? (1)

ankhank (756164) | about a month and a half ago | (#47651565)

Re:is this Torness? Or some other plant?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653517)

The plants which have been shut down are Heysham 1 and Hartlepool, which share a design. The power station at Torness is a slightly more modern design which is shared with the Heysham 2 plant.

May have to close (4, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652133)

"The reactor problems highlight that most of Britain’s nuclear installations, which generate about 20 percent of the country’s electricity, are approaching the end of their lives. The four EDF reactors under investigation were commissioned in 1983 and are officially scheduled to be removed from service in 2019. EDF Energy had been expected to seek extensions to the lives of the plants, but if the problems turn out to be too expensive to be worth fixing, then they might end up being permanently closed sooner than expected. “If this fault is as a result of the aging of the unit, this has potential implications for the operational life of these four units and, potentially, others as well,” said Antony Froggatt, a nuclear analyst at Chatham House, a London research organization."

Re:May have to close (2)

tomhath (637240) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653939)

A couple of big "if this and if that" in the quote. If the repair is cheap and safe they could run the reactors for another 20 years.

Situation normal and why no monoculture (1, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about a month and a half ago | (#47652563)

It's things like this that are the answer to the "just build a standard reactor everywhere and have an economy of scale" folks. The other answer is that since nuclear power, more than all other alternative energies, is still in a process of improvement so it makes little sense to have a fifteen year plan to build a lot of identical reactors when there could be a vast improvement in ten years.

Summary factually incorrect (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653413)

Although the story link in your summary seems factually correct, the slashdot summary is qute wrong.

EDF Energy as a whole supplies 25% of the UK's energy needs (57.5 GW peak in 2012) with 16 nuclear reactors (about 9.9 GW of capicity) and 7 conventional coal and gas turbines (3,4 GW of capacity) and various renewable energy sources with about 1,5GW of capacity. Of the 16 reactors, 1 is a pressurised water reactor (PWR) and 15 are avanced gas reactors (AGR) and four of these AGRs are of the same design as Dungeness B with the faulty boiler pump. There are only 4 of those reactors offline and only 3 of which are offline for unscheduled maintenance and the other twelve are still running. Just because EDf Energy has 15 AGRs it doesn't mean that all 15 have the same boiler pumps as Dungeness B. Dungeness B has been shut down since june due to a pump failure and two other reactors were shutdown for an inspection of similar pumps. The fourth reactor currently shutdown (Heysham 1) is in a scheduled outage and Hartepool 1 pumps will be inspected in a schedue outage later this month.

You can see the current status of EDF Energies AGR reactors

http://www.edfenergy.com/energy/power-station/daily-statuses

or

http://www.edfenergy.com/energy

So the real impact of this problem is in fact only three reactors offline that should have been functional with a capicity of about 1,6 GW. As ratio of EDF energies total production capicity of 14,8 GW this is 12% of their capacity of 3% of the UKs total energy production capacity. As its summer the energy needs of the UK are in fact reduced and most scheduled outages of nuclear reactors in Europe and performed in this period are this reason, so a 3% loss of capacity in summer is frankly nothing.

D.

bunch of bad gas (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655357)

I am really surprised that Britain continued to use graphite moderators in their power reactors. the Wigner effect of neutron poisoning in the moderator was very well known going into the 50s, making those reactors somewhat unpredictable. after Windscale, they should have known better.

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