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When Politics Come Up Against Reality

March 24, 2015
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By Paul Homewood  

 

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http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2015/03/germany-faces-nuclear-shutdown-conundrum.html

 

PEI report on the mess that Germany has made with nuclear power:

 

The prospect of the German taxpayer paying to cover nuclear reactor shutdowns is a live one as utilities continue to struggle, according to a government report.
As part of the country’s
Energiewende (energy transition) policy, Angela Merkels government decided to phase out nuclear power by 2022 but the expense involved in storing the waste and decommissioning the plants may prove beyond power companies.
Utility executives say more specifics on plans are needed.

 

Merkel

 

“There are still no clear answers to many fundamental questions involving final and intermediate storage, dismantling [reactors] and transporting radioactive waste,” said Frank Mastiaux, chief executive of EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG, one of Germany’s largest utility companies. “Concrete concepts have long been promised, but there is nothing yet in sight.”
That move forced EnBW and Germany’s other big utilities—E.ON SE,RWE AG and a unit of Sweden’s Vattenfall AB—to book billions of euros in write-downs on nuclear assets and increase their provisions for early decommissioning of the facilities. The provisions now total about $40bn (€37bn). The cost could ultimately top €50bn.
And that money might have to be covered by taxpayers if a power company faces insolvency or some other scenarios, the government report warned.
“Based on the current legal situation, there are risks that the financial provisions set aside by the nuclear operating companies aren’t sufficient and therefore it can’t be ruled out that, in a worst-case scenario, significant costs…could fall on the public,” said the report commissioned by the economy ministry and prepared by lawyers, auditors and tax consultants.
Meanwhile storage of nuclear waste is also emerging as a growing problem with the government now aiming to designate a disposal site by 2031, though subsequent geological exploration and construction could delay any opening to about 2050.
Until a final disposal site is found, all waste will be stored temporarily. Keeping interim facilities safe is expensive with E.ON recently stating that delays in finding a disposal site will cost the German nuclear industry $2.82bn (€2.6bn).

 

One of these days, maybe politicians will consult reality before they embark on their fantasy policies. But there again……….

10 Comments
  1. March 24, 2015 11:22 am

    Reblogged this on Petrossa's Blog and commented:
    sigh… How to destroy your nation 101

  2. johnmarshall permalink
    March 24, 2015 12:26 pm

    Merkel, a trained physicist, made a very bad decision to close down the nuclear power generators. Made after the Yokishima disaster she feared a tsunami struck Germany. This slim chance is so improbable as to be off the map of disasters. The Japanese disaster would never have happened if the station was built on the western side of the country, away from the tsunami generating subduction zone to the east.
    So Germany is now in a position of falling nuclear generation, failed wind and solar. But they have plenty of coal. Nuclear is safe and Germany must change the Merkel dictat to satisfy increasing demand.

    • tom0mason permalink
      March 25, 2015 8:18 am

      Maybe the German public should be made aware of a few facts relating to Fukushima nuclear plant and the disaster that befell it.

      The reactors proved robust seismically, but vulnerable to the tsunami. Power, from grid or backup generators, was available to run the Residual Heat Removal (RHR) system cooling pumps at eight of the eleven units, and despite some problems they achieved ‘cold shutdown’ within about four days. The other three, at Fukushima Daiichi, lost power at 3.42 pm, almost an hour after the quake, when the entire site was flooded by the 15-metre tsunami. This disabled 12 of 13 back-up generators on site and also the heat exchangers for dumping reactor waste heat and decay heat to the sea. The three units lost the ability to maintain proper reactor cooling and water circulation functions. Electrical switchgear was also disabled. Thereafter, many weeks of focused work centred on restoring heat removal from the reactors and coping with overheated spent fuel ponds. This was undertaken by hundreds of Tepco employees as well as some contractors, supported by firefighting and military personnel. Some of the Tepco staff had lost homes, and even families, in the tsunami, and were initially living in temporary accommodation under great difficulties and privation, with some personal risk. A hardened emergency response centre on site was unable to be used in grappling with the situation due to radioactive contamination.

      Three Tepco employees at the Daiichi and Daini plants were killed directly by the earthquake and tsunami, but there have been no fatalities from the nuclear accident.

      my bolding of the text

      May they note that the all 11 reactors in the region correctly and safely shutdown by the action of their designed seismic sensors. No reactors were in a dangerous state subsequent to the earthquake, they all failed safe. This happened despite the earthquake being very much large than the original design specification safety limits. Basically the over-engineered safety system worked, and worked very well.

      All of the problems at Fukushima stem from the very large tsunami that hit. The design basis tsunami height was 5.7 m for Daiichi and 5.2 m for Daini, though the Daiichi plant was built about 10 metres above sea level and Daini 13 metres above. Tsunami heights coming ashore were more than 14 metres for both plants, and the Daiichi turbine halls were under some 5 metres of seawater until levels subsided. This inundation is what cause the cooling system to fail and the structural damage that ensued.
      Information from: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of-Plants/Fukushima-Accident/ and the Earthquake links therein and from http://www.oecd-nea.org/press/2011/BWR-basics_Fukushima.pdf

      So Germany ask yourselves this —
      1. How many people have died as a direct result of the Fukushima nuclear plant incident.
      2. How many earthquakes and Tsunami happen in your country?
      3. Is it reasonable in any degree to close nuclear power plants based on the facts of what happened at the Fukushima incident?

  3. Retired Dave permalink
    March 24, 2015 1:06 pm

    No Paul, Merkel will sniff powdered unicorn horn and sprinkle fairy dust – that will do it.

  4. March 24, 2015 2:49 pm

    I’ve just had an incredibly good idea, so subtle its not surprising that nobody else has thought of it: Put engineers (real not climate ones) in charge of electricity production, keep politicians out of it!

    • March 24, 2015 4:52 pm

      I think you may find that several of us have been saying that for years, to no avail. I have a stack of correspondence form ministers and DECC saying that the PPEs know what they are doing and don’t need advice from power engineers – so there.

  5. Herve D permalink
    March 24, 2015 3:16 pm

    All this Merkel’s mess was prompted by electoralism (a local poll was soon to occur in Germany) and she launched the idea to exit from nuclear to try gain more votes. the fun is that she lost this election and entire Germany is now bound to abandon the best energy source and spend 50-650B$ (deconstruction and energy cost increase over next 20 years).
    Democracy without independent politicians audit becomes a quagmire and an open door to corruption: These 650B$ are not and will not be lost for everybody……

  6. March 24, 2015 5:36 pm

    Maybe I’m missing something here, so please step in with an explanation, but I understand that Nuclear Power Stations have a given life and at the end of that life arrangements are made for the decommissioning and spent fuel storage. Is it a fact that this is not the case in Germany?

    • March 24, 2015 6:05 pm

      After Fukushima, Merkel panicked and committed to shut all nuclear by 2022 (some have already been shut)

      Many did have scheduled lives into the 2030’s.

      There’s a list here, John

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-G-N/Germany/

      • Dave N permalink
        March 24, 2015 9:02 pm

        I expect John means that nuclear power stations should have a decommissioning strategy for end-of-life anyway, regardless of whether or not a decision to decommission is made before end-of-life.

        The story seems to suggest that they’re having problems because there isn’t any strategy. Perhaps it’s due to the fact they’re decommissioning all of them in a much shorter time frame?

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