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Problems Mount Up For EDF Nuclear Power

August 1, 2021
tags:

By Paul Homewood

h/t It does Not

Reposted from Watt-Logic

 

 

I don’t claim to be  a nuclear engineer, but this story highlights the idiocy of relying on just one technology:

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Regular readers will know that I am no fan of EDF’s third generation nuclear technology being deployed at Hinkley Point C – the European Pressurised Water Reactor (“EPR”). The company has been trying and failing to complete its flagship reactors at Flamanville and Olkiluoto with both schemes a decade late and something around three times over budget, and although two EPRs were completed at Taishan in China, the lack of transparency around costs and performance means they are rarely held up as genuine proofs of concept.

In my recent post about the troubles with the ageing British nuclear fleet, there was some discussion about safety concerns at Taishan, and today has come an announcement that the plant has closed for urgent maintenance.

What is the problem at Taishan?

In mid-June reports began to emerge of a potential “imminent radiological event” at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong Province, 80 miles from Hong Kong. Framatome, a subsidiary of EDF which holds a 30% stake in the plant had apparently informed US authorities on 8 June of a potential problem with a build-up of noble gases in the primary circuit of Taishan unit 1. The reason for the notification was that Framatome needed a US waiver in order to obtain the technical information required to solve the problem.

EPR containment barriersResponding to media reports of a leak at the plant China General Nuclear (“CGN”) announced on 13 June that Taishan 1 was operating at full power and there had been no release of radiation. However, Chinese safety authorities were reportedly raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the plant in order to avoid having to shut it down, and did not publicly address the issue until 16 June.

The build-up of inert gases in the plant apparently occurred due to issues with the casing around some of the fuel rods, the first of three containment barriers at the reactor. On 16 June, China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration (“NNSA”) confirmed that the increase in the concentration of noble gases in the primary circuit was related to a few damaged fuel rods, stating that the plants performance was still in accordance with the requirements of its operating technical specifications. EDF announced the following day that this is “a known phenomenon, studied and provided for in the reactor operating procedures”.

“Due to the influence of uncontrollable factors such as fuel manufacturing, transportation, loading, etc, a small amount of fuel rod damage during the operation of nuclear power plants is unavoidable, which is a common phenomenon. According to relevant data, many nuclear power plants around the world have experienced fuel rod damage and have continued operating. Within the scope of allowing stable operation and meeting the requirements of technical specifications, the operational safety of nuclear power plants is guaranteed,”
– NNSA spokesman

The NNSA estimates that of more than 60,000 fuel rods in the core of Taishan 1, about five probably have damage to their cladding, less than 0.01% of the total, and much lower than the maximum allowable damage to the fuel assembly of 0.25%. Nuclear fuel operates in a harsh environment in which high temperatures, chemical corrosion, radiation damage and physical stresses can undermine the integrity of the assembly.

The life of a fuel assembly in a reactor core is regulated to a burn-up level at which the risk of its failure remains low. Fuel “failure” in this context means a situation when the cladding has been breached, and radioactive material leaks from the fuel ceramic (pellet) into the reactor coolant water. The radioactive materials most likely leak through a cladding breach into the reactor coolant are fission-product gases and volatile elements, notably krypton, xenon, iodine and caesium.

EPR fuel assembly

Such fuel leaks do not present a significant risk to plant safety, although they can have a big impact on reactor operations and hence plant economics. Primary coolant water is continuously monitored so that any leak is quickly detected, and the permitted levels of released radioactivity are strictly regulated. The industry as a whole has made significant performance improvements in this respect, reducing fuel failure rates by about 60% in the 20 years to 2006 to an average of some 14 leaks per million rods loaded, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

An NNSA spokesman said that the increase in the level of radioactivity in the Taishan primary circuit is completely different from a radiological leakage accident:

“The primary circuit is inside the reactor containment. As long as the pressure boundary of the reactor coolant system as a radioactive containment barrier and the containment tightness meet the requirements, there is no possibility of radioactivity leaking to the environment.”

He also dismissed the reports that it had approved an increase in the acceptable limit of radiation detection outside the plant in order for it to continue operating, saying the regulator would continue to closely monitor the radioactivity level of the primary circuit of Taishan 1, strengthen on-site supervision and environmental monitoring; guide and supervise the operating units to take measures to strictly control the radioactivity level of the primary circuit, and strictly abide by the operation technical specifications to ensure that unit 1 runs safely.

However, last week EDF said it would have shut down the reactor if the facility were in France but that the decision to continue operating the plant was beyond its control.

“On the basis of the analyses carried out, EDF’s operating procedures for the French nuclear fleet would lead EDF, in France, to shut down the reactor in order to accurately assess the situation in progress and stop its development. In Taishan, the corresponding decisions belong to TNPJVC [Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co],”
– EDF

EDF said it had been allowed to analyse data related to the “detection of unsealed assembly rods in reactor No 1 of the Taishan power plant” and that the data made available by CGN suggested the “radiochemical parameters” were still below regulatory thresholds in China, which were “consistent with international practices”. The company sought to play down the problem after a CNN report in June suggested the risk of a radiation leak, stating that a leak outside the facility is not a danger and the build-up of noble gases had been contained. A spokesperson for EDF told the FT last Thursday that the primary concern was to begin maintenance to resolve the issue:

“We want to prevent the fuel rods from deteriorating further, carry out investigations to figure out why the fuel rods lost their sealings, and we want the necessary maintenance to be as simple as possible. This is not an emergency or an incident. It is a situation, that is covered by operating procedures, that is known and understood.”

An extraordinary board meeting was held by the Taishan stakeholders last Thursday to review the latest data relating to the problem, and today it has been announced that the plant has now been shut down for maintenance to be carried out.

Role of China in British nuclear power

Separately from the problems at Taishan, there have been reports this week that the British Government is increasingly uneasy about the role of the Chinese in the British nuclear power sector. This follows the ban on equipment from Chinese telecoms manufacturer Huawei in the UK’s 5G network due in part to the impact of the National Intelligence Law in China which forces companies to comply with state intelligence work.

Aside from concerns the Government has over China’s current actions in Hong Kong and allegations of human rights abuse in Xinjiang, there is a growing concern over China’s involvement in strategic infrastructure when private companies can be compelled to hand over information about their activities in other countries.

Any decision to limit the role of Chinese companies in British nuclear power would affect the proposed second EPR at Sizewell C, and a new plant at Bradwell-on-Sea using Chinese nuclear technology (the Hualong One HPR1000 reactor) which is currently going through regulatory approvals process with a decision expected in the second quarter of next year.

The FT has reported this week that CGN “is likely” to walk away from the Hinkley Point C if the company is forced out of future projects in the UK. One nuclear industry executive reportedly warned that CGN could also reassess its involvement with Hinkley Point, pointing out there are four interlinked agreements between CGN, EDF and the government dating to 2015: Hinkley Point, Sizewell, Bradwell and the pursuit of regulatory approval for China’s reactor design, saying:

“Neither EDF nor the government can assume they can just deal with Sizewell in isolation. If you open one agreement then you potentially open all four. Legally, you open one part of the agreement, you run the risk of opening all parts of the agreement.”

But even without the emergence of geopolitical concerns, there are doubts over the economic viability of Sizewell C after HPC’s budget has soared from £14 billion to as much as £22.5 billion, risking its profitability. EDF’s final investment decision on HPC was marginal with one board member resigning over the issue so if CGN is barred from future projects and with HPC looking less attractive, the company may well be glad of an excuse to walk away.

Ministers would reportedly prefer a situation where CGN was replaced as a minority investor in Sizewell, but the deteriorating economics at HPC together with the ongoing problems with the EPR technology more broadly might make finding a new investor difficult.

In addition to strategic concerns, there are also worries around the lack of transparency from Chinese authorities. It took time for the details of the Taishan issue to be made public, and had the plant been wholly-owned by the Chinese, it’s doubtful that the situation would ever have entered the public domain, a situation reminiscent of the early days of the Chernobyl disaster where the Communist regime was slow to inform the public of the unfolding tragedy.

The language from EDF reported in the FT was also concerning, with its references to EDF having been “permitted” to inspect certain data which had been “made available”. This suggests that despite having a 30% stake in the plant, and partnering with CGN on its UK EPRs, EDF does not routinely have access to plant performance data at Taishan. If that is the case then it means that EDF is not able to benefit from any operational experience relating to what is an otherwise unproven technology, which does not bode well for its troubled European projects.

Unsurprisingly, none of this makes me more supportive of the EPR technology, and while I continue to believe that large-scale nuclear is essential to the British energy mix, I believe the most effective route would be to support the Wylfa Newydd ABWR scheme instead.

https://watt-logic.com/2021/07/31/epr-update/

 

We already know that the grid cannot rely on intermittent renewable energy alone. Until other sources, such as nuclear, are proven as reliable and affordable alternatives, we should not do away with what works.

48 Comments
  1. Nicholas Lewis permalink
    August 1, 2021 10:48 pm

    Why is Sizewells PWR technology no longer acceptable?

    • Duker permalink
      August 2, 2021 12:40 am

      It was supposed to be cheaper for the 1GW plus reactor size…reality bites in long delays in Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto Finland being 10 years late.

      I think UK is looking now to the Rolls Royce smaller and modular units which can be constructed where possible at an undercover ‘factory’ and then moved to the site

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 2, 2021 8:52 am

      I assume you are referring by “PWR” to the existing Standardised Nuclear Unit Power Plant System (SNUPPS) design as is currently Sizewell B as opposed to the EPR (which is also a PWR design) proposed for Sizewell C. There is nothing at all wrong with the SNUPPS design (though it could do with modernising.) and was intended to be rolled out at other sites – notably Druridge Bay – when Sizewell B was constructed on time and budget;
      The issue comes down to the nuclear regulatory system which has added multiple additional safety systems that the SNUPPS did not have though the Sizewell design did add some. At the time HPC was decided on it was the only “approved” design under the European regulatory system so we were stuck with it;
      There were many other designs worldwide to chose from but none had yet received EU thus UK approvals.
      South Korea for example have a very good design that is tried and tested. The UAE started from scratch and now have four of them built relatively quickly and cheaply. In reality we could have done the same. $20 billion (note that is dollars) for 4 reactors totalling 5.6GWe is a hell of a lot better deal than we got shafted for.

      https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-t-z/united-arab-emirates.aspx
      However, realistically the future for nuclear is in factory construction of “smaller” units. Rolls Royce, NuScale, Moltex and indeed Westinghouse themselves (the SNUPPS designers) all have much better designs now coming to market which are cheaper, quicker and safer;

      https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-power-reactors/small-nuclear-power-reactors.aspx

      The EPR design is basically a dead dog and a bloody expensive one at that;
      incidentally when the original UK Magnox reactors were scheduled to be replaced the CEGB offered the government 3 options the Advanced Gas cooled Reactor (AGR), the Westinghouse PWR and a Heavy Water design (SGHWR) with their strongly preferred recommendation being the PWR. Their choice was over ridden by the then Energy Secretary Tony Benn who felt we had a great export opportunity with the AGR…we exported precisely NONE
      Had we gone with the PWR there would probably still be about 15 reactors generating nearly 20GW with at least 20 years life left in them!

    • Dave Gardner permalink
      August 2, 2021 12:58 pm

      In the 21st Century the Sizewell B design is no longer acceptable to the ONR, the nuclear regulatory authority that we have in the UK. They insist on Generation III PWR technology for new construction and Sizewell B is more like Generation II.

      But another issue, not mentioned by others, is that the Sizewell B PWR technology was effectively not ‘acceptable’ to John Major, the Prime Minister who took over from Margaret Thatcher in 1990. Thatcher was very pro-nuclear, but her successor Major was much less pro-nuclear, possibly even anti-nuclear.

      All the equipment supply contracts for Sizewell B in the 1980s were tendered for on the basis that at least three power stations of the Sizewell B design were going to be built, the other two stations being Hinkley Point C and Wylfa B. When Major came in, he quickly postponed the two follow-on stations, which caused quite a bit of disruption to the Sizewell B project because the equipment suppliers had submitted lower prices due to the expected three station arrangement. They tried to claw back some money through ‘contract variations’ on the work they were doing for Sizewell B. In 1996 Major formally cancelled the two follow-on stations, so effectively public spending on new nuclear power station construction was stopped then, and has not been revived since. At the beginning of the 1980s a ‘fleet’ of up to 20 stations of the Sizewell B design had been talked about.

      But Major still seemed to believe in the idea that the world needed to greatly reduce its Co2 emissions during his time of office, and building the Sizewell B fleet would appear to have been an excellent method of achieving that objective. I have a suspicion that Major may have been convinced by his ‘Green advisers’ that nuclear power wasn’t really low carbon (as Thatcher had thought), and its life cycle emissions were not much better than the much cheaper gas-fired power stations.

      In my experience many Greenies don’t think that nuclear power is low carbon (it’s a good way of avoiding a cognitive dissonance problem), but they tend to be much quieter in putting forward this view nowadays than they might have been twenty years ago. An example of the Green view that nuclear power is no better than natural gas for CO2 emissions is uncovered in this blog post by Ben Pile in 2009:

      https://www.climate-resistance.org/2009/07/ho-ho-ho-green-giantz.html

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 2, 2021 1:24 pm

        Good points. Similar experience with greenies from me. I have to insist they read the IPCC life cycle emissions data to prove to them that nuclear is very low carbon dioxide emissions indeed. Most though still desperately try to find some flaw with the IPCC data! They just refuse to accept any science that upsets their ideology.

  2. Broadlands permalink
    August 1, 2021 11:39 pm

    We are eight billion people all in need of energy. We should use all of the available energy sources (regardless of dire climate projections and impossible net-zero targets). These sources will be needed no matter what the climate does.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 2, 2021 12:09 pm

      Totally agree.

  3. markl permalink
    August 2, 2021 3:53 am

    There will always be a detractor from non fossil fuel energy sources. It’s not about clean energy, it’s about control of energy. Nuclear energy levels the playing field and that’s not what the Marxist/Socialist cabal wants. They want control despite what it means to the peoples’ well being.

  4. Martin Brumby permalink
    August 2, 2021 4:34 am

    Very interesting but not surprising.

    Let’s give credit where it is due. I accuse….

    Ed Davey, when Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change was the twerp who chose this type of reactor. Obviously based on the advice of his chosen “experts”. I wouldn’t trust Davey or his “experts” to wire up a three pin plug.

    But what attracted them to this project?

    I suggest that as a weapons grade GangGreen moron, faced with the necessity of getting at least some reliable non fossil fuel energy, Davey will have been attracted to probably the scheme least likely to succeed, most expensive and certainly most Chinese.

    Exactly the same thinking as he used when, lacking the political clout to simply ban fracking, instead imposed farcically low seismic limits, secure in the knowledge that this limitation, plus the far left protestors, paid by Gazprom, would scupper the fracking industry.

    He has subsequently bragged that he succeeded in achieving this aim.

    Of course, we must acknowledge that the gormless twats in both Houses of Parliament and the media all supported his ‘judgement’, just as they support Cameron, May and Johnson”s “Zero Carbon” insanity and now the Zero Covid, everlasting Lockdown nonsense.

    Will anyone be held to account?

    Who was it that abolished Impeachment and also Treason with it’s traditional and excellent punishment? Wasn’t it Blair?

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      August 2, 2021 6:56 am

      Short rope, for both.

    • August 2, 2021 7:07 am

      I said back then when Ed (Mr Potato) Davey chose the white elephant design (EPR) that he had done this knowing that it would be a very costly failure and would disgrace the nuclear industry in this country. Nothing since has made me change my mind. The government (if it had any sense) would be backing at least two SMR designs to the hilt. So we are all doomed.

    • Martin Brumby permalink
      August 2, 2021 4:17 pm

      More about our chum Potato Ed and his ‘assistance’ to the nuclear industry here:-
      https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/ed-davey-s-nuclear-u-turn
      Steerpike in the Observer has it nailed.

      He points out that Hinckley Point C is now the most expensive reactor in the world, that the National Audit Office predicts an outturn cost of £50 Billion and that :-

      “After losing his seat in 2015, Davey went on to work for MHP Communications, a lobbying firm whose clients include — you guessed it — EDF, the very same French company that won his eye-watering Hinkley deal.” How to royally stuff an industry and get paid for doing so.

      If the cretin had chosen the South Korean option (his predecessors having gaily destroyed the British Nuclear Industry), I’ve little doubt that it would be working by now!

  5. peterrudling permalink
    August 2, 2021 4:54 am

    I am very surprised of this post since the whole thing is a non-issue but has become an issue since people not understanding are spreading incorrect information. Fuel failures that occurred in Taishan happens all the time in western reactors and actually many more failures than in Taishan. There are exemples from France and US when many more rods had failed than in Taishan without any problems. The reactors are built such that many more rods can fail without any problems with radiation, e.g. in US in early days there were several hundred of rods that failed but without any problems since the reactors are built to handle this siutation. In Taishan which is a PWR reactor, the reactors are rarely stopped before the regular outage (to replace some of the old fuel with new fuel). If this situation had happened in a western reactor, e.g. in France they would have not stopped before the regular outage. These failures happens in all reactor types and will also happen in ABWR as well as the R-R SMR. This is a non issue but thanks’ to this type of irrelevant information posted here it will be more difficult for people to understand that nuclear technology is clean, safe and inexpensive (see e.g. https://energyeducation.se/true-cost-of-renewables/ and https://energyeducation.se/cost-of-electricity-from-new-nuclear-power-plants-is-less-than-that-of-wind-and-solar-farms/ ).
    Peter Rudling
    Nuclear fuel specialist

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 2, 2021 12:05 pm

      Hi Peter, I doubt many on here would argue with your level of expertise in this subject. Additionally I suspect the majority of readers of this blog are supporters of nuclear power. The problem for me and others revolves around the extreme (and unnecessarily high level) of cost of the EPR coupled with the equally extreme delays experienced in Finland and France. I feel that had we opted for a more tried and tested design (APR1400 for example) we could have much less expensive plants up and running much quicker.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 2, 2021 12:23 pm

      I thought that Kathryn Porter’s post was informative, detailed and balanced. She is actually a supporter of nuclear power as a major plank of our energy future (as am I – my first job was at AERE Harwell), as you would discover if you read some of her other posts. She is not a supporter of the expensive, problematic EPRs which are giving nuclear power a bad name for high cost.

      What we are not privy to is whether there are other reasons for the reactors to have been halted. What we know is that Flamanville, Olkiluoto and Hinkley Point have been subject to massive delays and cost overruns and construction difficulties. Indeed, the Taishan reactors were also delayed and over budget. Of course some of this is down to obstructiveness and diamond encrusted (not just gold plated) design impositions from nuclear regulators.

      The second part of her post, addressing keeping China out of the UK’s nuclear supply chain should surely be regarded as common sense, lacking in previous governments. Giving China sweetheart financing terms does nothing to lower the cost of nuclear power. If SMRs match up to RR claims of 470MWe for £1.8bn and a 60 year life they are indeed capable of beating wind power provided utilisation is high enough. But they are 15 years away from mass deployment potential. Meantime, we need some off the shelf proven designs that can be built on time and on budget. That is not more EPRs.

    • tomo permalink
      August 2, 2021 12:38 pm

      Most things with respect to nuclear power seem to be taken out of context – to the point where things that are mundane and normal to practitioners are hyped up to scary Hiroshima level.

      This situation isn’t improved in the UK by stuffing much of the extensive bureaucracy / nuclear nabob-ery with non engineer quangocrats ill equipped to comment but overly sensitive and timid to the machinations of the antinuclear activists.

      As a young teenager I visited ARE Harwell and several nuclear power stations and reserch reactors. The public’s awareness of things nuclear has atrophied and the space once used for education has been occupied by activists who shovel scary crap into the media sausage machine. It’s not a virtuous circle.

      Nuclear engineers need to be more visible – otherwise the volume and vehemence of nutters like “Dr” Helen Caldicott are going to prevail.

  6. tomo permalink
    August 2, 2021 4:58 am

    TMSRLF1

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 2, 2021 12:07 pm

      Hi Tomo, what is the relevance behind you referring to a prototype Thorium fuelled molten salt reactor?

      • tomo permalink
        August 2, 2021 12:58 pm

        It strikes me that EPRs are prototypes of a design that has been oversold to political “simple shoppers” and that the Chinese are looking at alternative designs and power generation methodologies – the second link I posted refers to China’s pursuit of other nuclear technologies and muses as to whether they are moving away from nuclear (seems unlikely) or if they are hiding what they’re doing (not unheard of). Leading the west and others up a cul de sac with EPRs might be cost effective if they have a plan to use something else….

        The MSRs are a possible alternative that should be investigated – the inherent beneficial features and any showstopping flaws mapped out…

        The west’s nuclear power business suffers from a constipated surfeit of bureaucracy and politics.

  7. tomo permalink
    August 2, 2021 5:28 am

    There is some murk around China;s plans for nuclear energy …

    Are they going for windmills and solar panels?

    – or are they simply being inscrutable and doing what they like while feeding the gullible western media with fairy tales ?

    https://www.energyintel.com/pages/eig_article.aspx?DocId=1079039

    • August 2, 2021 7:32 am

      Tomo,

      ‘or’, they know ‘are’ won’t work.

      • tomo permalink
        August 2, 2021 1:08 pm

        Iain

        they seem to be happy squeezing out a fresh coal power station every so often and lobbing carefully crafted tidbits for western eco-nuts to pleasure themselves with.

  8. Martin Brumby permalink
    August 2, 2021 9:25 am

    Indeed you did, Phillip. And you weren’t on your own. Not just a few crackpots on an obscure denier blog.

    But increasingly, our Beloved Leaders choose who represents The Science and ignores differing opinions, even from the most genuinely expert.

    If their anointed ‘expert’ unfortunately tells them something ‘inconvenient’, they and their report are brushed under the carpet like magic.

    Dieter Helm’s Energy Economics review in 2017?

    So they are keen to pick even the most obvious buffoons (Neil Ferguson, Jeremy Farrar, Susan Mitchie etc etc – not to mention Dominic Cummings) and rubbish alternatives.

    And no-one, ever, is held to account (other than a few nonebrities whose unfortunate weak jokes a decade ago are determined to be ‘Transphobic’ or something equally nonsensical and used to vaporise their careers).

    I keep investing in piano wire, tar and feather futures.

    No luck so far…

  9. Jack Broughton permalink
    August 2, 2021 10:49 am

    The UK press at the weekend were gloating that the Eggborough power station cooling towers had been destroyed as part of the UK exit from coal. They do not realise, and neither do parliament and their nutty advisors, that the UK security of power is now desperate. We are almost entirely dependent upon power and gas imports. If our “friends” wished to, we would be virtually without power; Germany have recognised this even despite their nutty eco-leadership and will keep their coal fired units going.

    I wonder just how secure our energy system really is given that our main gas storage now is LNG? Security-wise it is on a thread.

    Korean or, dare I say it, Russian nuclear reactors seem to be the way to go immediately, SMRs would be the best answer long term: but will take years to implement given the regulator requirements.

  10. Ray Sanders permalink
    August 2, 2021 12:25 pm

    Obviously off topic but rather than overly worrying about minor problems with the EPR we should be considering the absolute disaster that is Wind power. July 2021 total UK generation was 1,955GWh – the lowest monthly figure for at least 3 years despite hugely increased capacity. Most of the rest of Europe was similarly dire. July 2021 was the 8th month in a year of year on year reduced generation. The monthly capacity factor was barely more than just 10%. This is a serious problem. Anybody seen the MSM reporting this? Thought not!

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 2, 2021 12:41 pm

      In addition July saw the record for imported electricity smashed at 3,183GWh which compares to just 836GWh for July 2020. Seems we are now perpetually dependent on imports for an increasingly large share of our needs.

      • tomo permalink
        August 2, 2021 1:01 pm

        Ray

        looks like we need a crisis and some bureaucratic bowel looseners!

  11. Bloke down the pub permalink
    August 2, 2021 2:01 pm

    An alternative route to nuclear power. https://infinitepower.life/our-technology/

    • tomo permalink
      August 2, 2021 2:25 pm

      Bdtp

      – you should’ve appended a ?

      – take a look at the CEO’s track record …. and the physical evidence ….

      I’m surprised they haven’t got a sideline in “magic diesel beans”

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 2, 2021 7:24 pm

      Bdtp, I have this bridge for sale, would you like to buy it?

  12. August 2, 2021 5:24 pm

    What does this mean?

    “We already know that the grid cannot rely on intermittent renewable energy alone. Until other sources, such as nuclear, are proven as reliable and affordable alternatives, we should not do away with what works.?

    Nuclear is proven. We have a massive fleet of nuclear generation around the well managed Western World that has worked far more safely that any other prior form of electrical energy generation for 60 years, cheaper, cleaner, safer, better. Gen 3 and 4 will be better. And even the first generation PWR, BWR and AGR and CANDU technologies roll outs barely registered on the accident and pollution measurements compared to coal then gas. A lotta men died…..

    Nuclear uses less than any other land per KW capacity to build, is a quarter the CAPEX per lifetime energy of offshore wind, and used even less resources to build, and is as cheap as or cheaper than fossil fuel per KWh, with a very low and effectively sustainable fuel source. Half the price of offshore Wind before the massive costs of backup storage are added.

    Scalable and sustainable at any level of use, at today’s prices in real terms.

    Spent fuel is straightforward to deal with safely, either with or without post processing. I prefer post processing so only fission products are safely disposed of. The waste “problem id p assertion, because we have the technical options already working. The problem is incompetent politicians who simply don’t understand the technology, so cannot communicate reality to the public and lead on this strategically important decision making

    And it’s zero CO2, if that really mattered.

    Renewable unreliables cannot remotely match any of this. Because their basic energy sources are weak, diffuse and intermittent they cannot magically produce more energy, not do that when needed. There is not enough space or wind energy available to scale renewables to meet even current demands of developed countries . Because they collect so little energy per unit resource used they are expensive to build per lifetime energy collected, and operate in terms of cost per unit energy, so they must depend on permanent subsidies to exist, and are heavy users of land and natural resources for the same basic reasons.

    Fundamentally, and overtly, unable to to replace the fossil energy generation that had to replace them at the end of the 19th Century, to deliver the energy necessary to support a fully developed economy..

    In the future only the million times greater nuclear binding energy per unit mass of fuel can replace molecular binding energy of combustion technology, to deliver the ever increasing energy levels that developing economies will need, especially if synthetic liquid fuels replace liquid fossil fuels at some point, as they must for flight, probably a significant proportion of surface transport. When they will become a closed cycle of creation, use and recycling within the atmosphere. But not yet.

    Just as intense fossil energy replaced the inadeqaute feudal energy sources of people, draft animals, wind and water power, to get civilisation this far, nuclear must replace fossil as it really declines to continue the advance of our civilisation to the next level, within a wholly developed World of relatively limitless sustainable energy supply. Something that ONLY a nuclear age can deliver, as the fossil age, that already superseded the renewable age for reasons of cost per unit energy, controllability , absolute intensity, and scalability, runs out of fossil power, but not steam.

  13. Micky R permalink
    August 2, 2021 7:05 pm

    “Due to the influence of uncontrollable factors such as fuel manufacturing, transportation, loading, etc, ”

    Uncontrollable! Defies belief, incompetents everywhere. Of course it’s controllable, providing that people do the job they are paid to do.

    Sizewell B was supposed to be followed by a twin-reactor Sizewell C, and then further PWR stations of a similar design at various locations in the UK. However, the politicos decided to “dash for gas”, which should never be used for baseload. Sizewell B: on time and on budget. In 1994, the budget construction cost for Sizewell C was £3.5 billion. I’ll take ten please.

    AGR has its disadvantages (cost!), but it has one major advantage over the bloated sub reactor designs: initial stability in the event of coolant loss. AGR = no Three Mile Island and no Fukushima. AGR also = no Chernobyl.

    At some point, sanity might prevail: new coal-fired power stations.

    • Stuart Brown permalink
      August 2, 2021 9:13 pm

      “AGR also = no Chernobyl”
      Hmm. Well perhaps. But Chernobyl was a gas cooled, graphite moderated reactor as were the Magnox and AGR designs here in the UK. It may well be that the UK designed reactors were unable to run away by more careful design, unlike the one at Chernobyl. But we narrowly escaped our place in history when the Magnox at Windscale caught fire in 1957. There is no hugely fundamental difference between an AGR and the Chernobyl reactor.

      Hoping I’m going to be told why I’m wrong in 5,4,3,2…

      • Micky R permalink
        August 2, 2021 9:52 pm

        Chernobyl = RBMK = water cooled. Several other factors including lack of meaningful containment, unstable control processes, dismal management processes, Soviet mindset = low value on human life i.e. high risk design and high risk operating processes were acceptable to the Soviets.

        Windscale piles = production of fissile material for the UK nuclear bomb, not civilian electricity production.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 2, 2021 10:01 pm

        Mind bogglingly daft post.

      • peterrudling permalink
        August 3, 2021 4:48 am

        The key difference between the RBMK design and other reactor designs we have is that RBMK needs to have massive amount of graphite to keep the process running (i.e. to slow down the fast neutrons) while in e.g. PWRs, CANDUs, VVER, BWR you use water. What happened in Chernoble was that the graphite started to burn spreading the activity that was not contained by pressuer vessels and containment (that were missing in the RBMK design but that we have in our designs). Since we are not using graphite the Chernoble accident can NEVER happen in our types of reactors so we should not consider this type of accident for our reactors The worst that can happen is what happended in Fukushima were 0 people died from radiation (but 1000+ died due to stress of the unneccesary evacuation of elderly people due to the Tsunami and nuclear accident). Even considering the Chernoble, nuclear is the safest way to produce electricity.
        Peter Rudling/Nuclear Fuel Specialist see also: https://energyeducation.se/about/

  14. Ray Sanders permalink
    August 2, 2021 9:57 pm

    “Hoping I’m going to be told why I’m wrong in 5,4,3,2…” Nope your remark is so daft nobody else is going to bother.
    But you could always read Wikipedia at the very least. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RBMK
    and then stop posting such nonsense.

    • Micky R permalink
      August 3, 2021 6:47 am

      Thanks for the link to Wikipedia re RMBK, which refers to water cooling and the lack of meaningful containment. The link also mentions ” Safety was not given much importance ” , which is hardly a surprise.

      I’ll not respond to your “daft” comment.

      • Micky R permalink
        August 3, 2021 7:39 am

        @ Ray S: reading back through, I’m now not certain if the original “daft” comment was aimed at me. If it wasn’t then please ignore “I’ll not respond to your “daft” comment.” If that makes sense!

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 3, 2021 9:42 am

        No Micky, my response was to Stuart Brown who tried to claim the Chernobyl reactor was gas cooled and somehow exactly the same as an AGR. As you pointed out to him the RBMK is water cooled. Sorry for any confusion, I completely agree with you. I will be more careful how I frame comments in future.

      • peterrudling permalink
        August 3, 2021 9:45 am

        RBMK reactors are cooled by water but moderated (i.e. to slow down the neutrons to enable them to fission uranium and plutonium) with graphite – a dangerous combination which know from the accident. No other reactor design in the world other than RBMK reactors have this compbination

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        August 3, 2021 10:33 am

        RBMK reactors are indeed water cooled. And I knew and do accept that the Chernobyl failure was as much to do with poor operating processes as anything else.

        My apologies to Ray and Peter and thanks for putting me right. That makes my comment that AGRs are fundamentally the same incorrect and me daft for not confirming what I believed before making late evening, slightly inebriated posts. I have no objection to Paul removing it if he wishes.

  15. Athelstan permalink
    August 3, 2021 12:06 pm

    lights out and no one home, blackouts guaranteed.

    Surely only coal could save us, if only we had the transformers, oh look the Germans bought em all, typical. Buy some thermals, better yet get out and purchase a diesel generator and get it hooked up.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      August 4, 2021 6:13 pm

      Unless you have a country-pile, like Gummer, the biggest problem is storage of petrol. In most houses bulk-storage is illegal. However, if there is a garage nearby a daily visit could solve the problem. Hooking up manually is generally simple unless you want auto-change-over which requires a lot of equipment. Most of the third-world wealthy have been doing this for years due to their unreliable grids and rolling blackouts.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 5, 2021 1:29 am

        “the biggest problem is storage of petrol.” Jack, Athelstan did suggest “purchase a diesel generator”. You can modify a diesel gennie to run on domestic heating oil and you can store that by the thousands of litres.

  16. Edward Cook permalink
    August 4, 2021 4:42 pm

    Perhaps the plans for a new generation of AGR’s could be dusted off. From memory their K-effective was negative, requiring constant operator input to keep them running. RMBK’s are boiling tube reactors, the Soviet Union at the time not having the technology to manufacture large scale pressure vessels. The two designs RBMK and AGR are very different designs, graphite moderated in both but cooled with CO2 in the AGR and water in the RBMK.

    • Nicholas Lewis permalink
      August 6, 2021 12:30 pm

      Indeed as ever if it aint broke don’t fix it

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