They have one coming online shortly.
I am somewhat reluctantly supporting the idea of nuclear energy to replace e.g. coal fired power; I would like to mention though another possible long-term problem: Uranium is actually a pretty rare commodity and known deposits even at the current consumption rate and reactor efficiency will only last another ~70 years. It is estimated though that undiscovered deposits may extend that to about 200 years, by which time new technologies should be firmly in place anyway.
How the changing price for U will affect electricity production feasibility is anyone's guess. Long term, fewer people on this planet and far more intelligent use of power might be much better ideas, in which case the current "growth" mantra will have to come to an end.
PS: The US, Canada and Japan should perhaps go to 220V, to minimise wiring losses, but I don't know how big a difference that would make (any ideas?) - The US use 50% more energy pp than the EU for all sorts of reasons.
Thorium nuclear reactors are currently at an advanced stage of development which could solve the long term problem of uranium shortages. Further advancements such as the the Travelling Wave Reactor (although not commercially viable for at least 15years) will result in nuclear fuel being re-used in the nuclear reaction rather than being discarded at nuclear
I think we would be clutching at straws if we were to expect the US to adopt an intelligent use of power, it just doesn't seem likely in the medium term at least.
fewer people = less problems.. yes this is true but the pop is likely to increase by a couple billion at least in the next 30-40 years by any measurement.
The fact is, if we try and do nuclear the way we've been doing nuclear up to now it is an irrelevant power source as far as having a global impact on carbon release. It takes too long and is too difficult and expensive - at least in the format we've been applying so far. There are better ideas out there as Gates and his friends have been harping on about but as 'they' say this is a huge problem which requires a huge 'fix'. They want a super dooper ridiculously stupendously massive investment into nuclear at what is really the worst time to attempt such a thing so it's unlikely to get traction any time soon therefore IMO nuclear, as it stands, is simply a business for people in that area to make money and certainly will have no global impact in any relevant way going forward UNLESS A MASSIVE TURNAROUND AND CRAAAAZY INVESTMENT AND INNOVATION HAPPENS IN THIS SPACE... in which case I'm all for it but it really can be proven with out doubt that nuclear, in its current format ( i.e. cost and time from planning to grid and limit of production and political and economic constraints as they exist in reality right now) is not a feasible answer to the global electricity problem and will it seems play a small part of a complex mix of approaches to solve this problem. There is no silver bullet as much as we would like there to be unless fusion is solved 'soon' which is a million to one.
Nuclear means huge capital cost and having to dig a big hole to put the waste in later on
Geothermal energy here would mean going down 4,000 - 5,000 meters
I don't think it's economic, but the costs per MW aren't too dissimilar to nuclear, also those costs may drop as new technologies come on board. I can't see any advantages to nuclear. Especially since geothermal is much quicker to come on line
other thread - with links to maps n' stuff
Here's Bill Gates explaining TerraPower in 6 mins.
I posted this before but the math is approx right and I personally think it's important to understand the reality in this area.. as it stands now. Things can and do change but in this case it would require a radical, massive and abrupt change.
I reckon Nuclear Power Stations are too expensive and take too long to build for Nuclear Power to be seriously considered as a way to greatly reduce carbon emissions from Coal fired power stations.
I wouldn't expect anyone to have geeked over the costs associated with building nuclear the way I have of late so I'll just give you the numbers and you can checkem out yourself if you want. It's a massively complex subject so I'll just throw some good numbers out there which are approx correct...if possibly over simplified.
- It costs about 5 Billion dollars to build a nuclear power station that produces 2 Gigawatts of electricity.
- It takes anywhere from 5-8 years to plan and build one.
- There are 435 reactors today which produce about 13-15% of the electricity we use.
- Coal fired plants produce about 41% of what we use.
The cost of building a Nuclear Power Plant has increased more than 20 fold since the 70's. The Av cost of a car in 1970 was about $3,700 so obviously now cars would cost $75,000 on average if inflation is what you're thinking.
Most plants were built between 1965 and 1985.
To replace ALL the electricity gotten from Coal plants with nuclear would require today - another 1500 nuclear plants....and that's today, right now.
BUT next year the demand will have increased 5% !! and the year after...for at least the next 10/15 years.
The general opinion is that electricity demand will be double todays by 2050.
So just keeping up with demand, will require, that we build another 435 stations in the next 40 years which is what? 10 a year say, to keep it the same 13-15% of electricity from Nuclear.
lets assume we all believe deeply in Man-caused Global Warming and also lets assume we all think Nuclear is completely safe, just for a second.
In that scenario we would WANT very much to massively upscale nuclear generated electricity right?
So how many plants would it take to make a big difference, not a little one, a big FAT difference?
Well to replace HALF of the coal plant electricity with nuclear, by 2050, and thereby (hypothetically) halving carbon emissions from coal fired plants would require us to build by 2050 approx
1500 New Plants
(and that's ignoring the more than 150 plants which will close during the period to 2050...100 of which will be closed within the next 15 years)
I only illustrate the numbers because it seems that pro-nuclear global warming concerned people seem to think Nuclear will and should play a central role in electricity production given that renewables will not play a large enough part over the next 40 years at least realistically speaking. (Renewables will not for instance replace even close to 25% of coal electricity or anything like it in that period)... and either, I'm saying, will Nuclear and not because I'm an irrational nuclear pessimist!
I think this because when you look at the costs, time, barriers, constraints, limits and drivers that exist right now....verses... THE SAME back in the nuclear golden age of the 60's/70's/80's , you quickly come to the conclusion that Nuclear CANNOT and therefore WILL NOT scale up FAST ENOUGH to make a large difference when it comes to the issue of Carbon Emissions and man caused global warming, at least over a reasonable period like 40-50 years. Now, over 100 years or more? then that is a different conversation and would include things like Nuclear Fusion etc etc but that's not my thesis here. I'm merely saying that it can be clearly shown that we CANNOT AND WILL NOT replace coal electricity with Nuclear in any significant way in the period to 2050 even 2060, and therefore Nuclear should not enjoy a central role within this debate.
It is in fact, relatively speaking, a red herring as far as carbon emission reduction up to 2050 goes.
We managed to build approx 300 stations between '65 and '90, 300 in 25 years say, and that was during the Cold War which served as a major driver for nuclear build and it was impressive, but since then the cost of building has risen 20 fold !!! and it takes much much longer now AND there's a global backlash against nuclear right now.
There's no way we could build an average of 30-50 stations per year every year to 2050. In fact I'd like to hear a solid argument for 25 per year to 2075 because from what I've learned it currently seems so unlikely as to be almost impossible.
I doubt we could build 18 per year every year to 2050.
Russia and America managed about 12 a year between them at the height of the Cold War !!
There aint no Cold War now although there is a global warming war, alas mostly a war of words.
Sure, China is building 25 right now and plans for 100 over then ext 20/30 years but America hasn't delievered a nuclear power station in 30 years... it actually cancelled or stopped more than 60 projects in the last 30 years!!
you could increase nuclear supply by 50%-100% of current level over the next 20 years, but CERTAINLY not 500% .. no chance in hell. That's the reality and that's why I regard the whole nuclear debate as marginal in terms of the big problem and a relevant time frame of solution. If you think I'm wrong you better bring the facts because I put a lot of work into understanding this area and I don't think I'm far off base. The stats and figures are there to be found and the math is simple and speaks for itself.
The Russians have the gun to the heads of all Western European states with regard to gas supplies, hence leaving us in a position that leaves us in an unstable position in terms of security of supply and price. The sooner we embrace nuclear power the better, because IMHO, sooner or later we are going to rely on it due to circumstances of other fuel sources.
Also don't we have a trillion cubic feet of gas being connected up in Mayo ?
That be on line before a nuclear power station could be built.
It will supply 10 million cubic meters per day
we average ~ 15.5 million cubic meters per day
And chances are that there could be other finds on our continental shelf.
as new technologies are developed costs of gas extraction are going down and efficiency of CCGT has gone up.
Max temperature in a Nuclear plant is determined by the properties of the fuel, things like non-linear expansion and volume changes at temperature mean rod crack, also may have two heat exchanges to keep the turbines from getting radioactive, these inefficiencies all add up. cba looking it up but the early UK reactors used something like 10% of the power output to power the fans.
I don't expect CCGT to go much over 60% because it's a Carnot engine and there isn't a lot you can do with the ambient temperature short of locating the plant in Siberia. Perhaps if they used MHD with CCGT they might get a little more. Alternatively if the waste heat could be used productively - my favorite is using it in green houses / algae farms so the CO2 gets used too , but probably not economical.
Nuclear power is probably more expensive now than it was, as more safety measures are put into place.
Don't get me wrong an actinide burning thorium reactor could be vastly cleaner than any nuclear power we have at present.
But like fusion the technology isn't likely to happen in the short term, economic or not.
As for the economics the hidden costs mean it's got to compete with geothermal power which is quicker to setup , more reliable , cleaner and fewer worries about Nimbys or fuel costs.
Bottom line - nuclear is competing with geothermal. Nuclear is a mature technology and few real improvements are expected apart from the use of higher temperatures because of better materials. Better materials mean fossil fuel plants are ~50% more efficient since the start of the Nuclear age btw. Improvements can be expected in geothermal as it's early days yet.
Nuclear power has one great long term prospect.
When the lights start going out - as they inevitably will if the Tweety Pie solutions of the Greens continue to be followed - citizens will be damn glad to turn to it for both grid and transport energy.
A few years of rolling power cuts and cold dinners - that's if they have a dinner - will concentrate the collective mind wonderfully.