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Nuclear - future for Ireland?



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,929 ✭✭✭ Birdnuts

    Neither solar or wind were producing much 2nite so your last paragraph is moot

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,597 ✭✭✭ Markcheese

    Does seem a bit odd that the renewable firms agree a minimum strike price - and get a subsidy (Pso ) if that isn't reached , they get preferential access to put power on the grid , and then get to charge the max rate if other power prices are higher..

    I would have thought the agreed Ress rate , (topped up as necessary by the PSO,) AND the preferential access would be a fairer deal for the nation ..

    Even if that was changed in the morning It'd take up to 15 years to fully change ..

    But a windfall tax on high profits could be achievable ..

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,929 ✭✭✭ Birdnuts

    Thats the problem - at least we will have access to plenty once that interconnector to France is operational

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,852 ✭✭✭ SeanW

    There are 5 million people in the Republic of Ireland and 2 million more in Northern Ireland. Thusly, we alone are a considerably large electricity market in and of ourselves. We also have direct electrical links with Britain, a market of 60+ million people with which we can share "spinning reserve" and other backup arrangements. Additionally we have already lost massively in the data centre industry because we cannot provide a reliable and consistent supply of near zero CO2 power. Adding to all of that, the government wants us all to pack in our petrol/diesel cars and buy electrics - those are going to need eye watering amounts of energy.

    The argument that "Ireland is too small a market for nuclear energy" doesn't wash. The need for near-zero CO2 electricity in the British Isles is going to increase. Dramatically.

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 88,912 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Capt'n Midnight

    Birmingham. That's the size of our market.

    It's why there was no foreign competition until the ESB's prices were artificially inflated such that "for profit" companies had some incentive to come here.

    Ireland is too small for nuclear. There's no demand for 1.1-1.6GW always on power from a remote location that can't load balance or provide local grid stability or voltage control. And our grid will be able to accommodate 95% renewables long before construction of such a white elephant.

    The UK is having to provide several Ireland's worth of power for a decade or two because their 2011 plan to build 6 nuclear power plants has had so many setbacks and delays. And the price increases have been eye watering.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,852 ✭✭✭ SeanW

    Wrong. Birmingham's Metro area population is 4.3 million, second only to London in the UK. The island of Ireland has a population over 7 million and growing. And that's before the phase out of ICE cars and their replacement with BEVs is taken into consideration, which will make our electricity demand much greater, and will do so on an "around the clock" basis as many of these BEVs will be charged overnight. The claim that Ireland "cannot load balance" given that we already have interconnectors to the UK and will soon have one with France is at best overstated.

    As to the claim that the UKs nuclear plans are having cost and delivery difficulties, I can't speak to that because as recently as 1995, the UK was delivering nuclear reactors for less than £2bn a pop, on time and on budget, like at Sizewell B. Whatever difficulties they may be having now are clearly not related to nuclear energy as a concept.

    As to your bizarre claim that Ireland will be able to accommodate 95% renewables ... Your side has been in charge of Ireland's energy policy since the days of the Carnsore Point protests back in the 1970s and we're still no closer to having solar panels that produce power during winter nights or windmills that produce power during an anti-cyclone. Likewise Germany floated the idea of Energiewende back in 1980 and like us they are still hopelessly reliant on fossil fuels 40 years later.

    This is why they were building their Nord Stream 2 Pipeline to Russia until the 24th of February. All we've got from such concepts has been dead birds, dead bats, super high electricity bills, an ugly industrialised landscape, needless CO2 emissions and a deadly reliance on Putin's Russia for natural gas, which Ukraine's children are now paying for with their blood.

  • Registered Users Posts: 902 ✭✭✭ gjim

    The primary reason for the reason for avoiding nuclear power is financial and a history of failed project delivery in recent history. Why do nuclear-advocates avoid addressing these absolutely fundamental issues?

    These are the reasons that it's a dying tech globally - nuclear's share of global electricity has halved to about 8% since its 1996 peak - which is how far you have to reach back to claim Sizewell B as a success. They are shutting down functioning reactors in the US - like Indian Point - years before their end-of-life because even if the construction cost is considered sunk, operating and fuel costs alone make them uncompetitive in the modern world. Just to keep some plants operating requires massive subsidies (see It's not a German or European phenomena - it's a global one.

    Believe it or not, technology, economics and grid engineering have advanced considerably in the last 3 decades. And unfortunately nuclear tech has simply been left behind.

    There hasn't been a successful (on-time/on-budget) nuclear power project in the west in the last three decades. And some of the failures - like JC Summers and Flammenville have been absolutely epic disasters. No sane person, having looked at the data and history of the nuclear power industry over the last 3 decades would choose to bet the the energy future and security of their country on constructing new nuclear plants.

    And unfortunately, the case for nuclear is about to get much, much worse in a world of rising interest rates. Nearly 50% of the cost of Hinkley C will be in the form of finance costs - and that's in a low-interest environment. We're now looking at a sustained period of higher interest rates - and the huge front-loaded cap-ex associated with nuclear means the death of nuclear. My prediction is that we won't see a single new nuclear power plant begin construction anywhere in the West for at least a decade. In fact, I doubt we'll ever see another new nuclear plant developed - the nuclear power age is over and has been for decades.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,088 ✭✭✭ Shoog

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  • Registered Users Posts: 16,019 ✭✭✭✭ cnocbui

    That is exactly the cause. Wind failed, more gas was needed to compensate so demand and price rocketed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,088 ✭✭✭ Shoog

    The problem with interpretation is that the outcome would be the same wind or not.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 16,884 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell

    Wind is variable - short term, that is day to day, week to week - not even month to month.

    The average for wind generation in Ireland mid term is 40% or so. Gas prices have risen, not for day to day variation, but because of global issues - the Ukraine way being the major one, and that has little to do with renewables.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,587 ✭✭✭ CrabRevolution

    Why have gas prices been rising for over a year and a half though, after several years of steady prices? Has wind "failed" everywhere all over the world for over a year, causing a worldwide increase in gas prices?

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,597 ✭✭✭ Markcheese

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,019 ✭✭✭✭ cnocbui

    Wind is variable, all right. Unfortunately demand isn't. The gas price cluster duck was in full swing before the invasion of Ukraine.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,597 ✭✭✭ Markcheese

    That doesn't show failure - it shows that we've a wind AND gas system...

    If we had a nuclear reactor backed up with gas that went off line for a month we'd have had the same result ...

    2 of the newer power stations on our grid both went off line for approx a year , it happens ..

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 88,912 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Capt'n Midnight

    Birmingham has industry too.

    In 2011 the UK decided to build some nuclear power plants. The timeline goes something like this .... in 2012 EDF want £165/MWh .... After seven years of negotiations and revisions, the British government decided in 2016 to execute the Hinkley Point C project .... EDF said £16 Bn on their site which is nowhere near "less than £2bn a pop" .... the first reactor unit will start operating in June 2027, a year later than planned and costs are now estimated in the range of £25bn to £26bn.

    £165 per megawatt hour in 2012 sterlings isn't remotely cheap. The fact they could ask for it should convince anyone that nuclear isn't cheap.

    5 years of haggling and sorting out planning before they even signed off on construction. Nuclear isn't fast.

    And the way nuclear can drop off the grid without warning isn't good as it would require us to have spinning reserve able to replace 85% of the reactor's output within 5 seconds.

    From the first link. This is why nuclear is expensive. "Destination of the price that will be paid per MWh (1 MWh = 1000 kWh) for HPC power. About two thirds is paid to investors, only one third is needed for the construction, operation and dismantling of HPC."

    The 95% of renewables is a peak figure not average. If you use creative accounting then we've already hit ~96% of electricity consumed on the island from renewables (the electricity fossil fuel used for grid stability being exported)

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,965 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk

    "There are 5 million people in the Republic of Ireland and 2 million more in Northern Ireland."

    I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. 7 million people in rural India will use far less electricity then us, while 7 million people in Texas will use far more more then us.

    And that tells us nothing about the reality that we are an almost completely isolated relatively tiny island grid.

    You can talk all you want about population size, but the reality of our grid, is that a Nuclear reactor in the 1.1 to 1.6GW size is technically far too large for our grid. You understand that such a reactor would need almost the same amount of either gas stations or interconnectors as spinning reserve in case the reactor went offline. That is just how grids work. Currently our largest single point of failure is 500MW. We simply couldn't handle such large reactors.

    Small European countries get away with building Nuclear power plants because they are part of the wider synchronous mainland European grid, so if their reactors go offline, they can just rely on their neighbours, they don't need the same amount of spinning reserve. Unfortunately we don't have that luxury.

    Even the most pro-Nuclear in Ireland supporters admit that the current Nuclear reactors are simply too large for our grid and instead their focus is on SMR's.

    "That is exactly the cause. Wind failed, more gas was needed to compensate so demand and price rocketed."

    I'm sorry this is nonsense. The price of wind power hasn't fundamentally changed since 2019, what has changed is the price of fossil fuels, including gas. Mostly because of the terrible war in Ukraine and the scramble to replace Russian oil and gas.

    You know that when the wind blows strongly in Ireland, the price of wholesale electricity drops to €0 or close to it, yes ZERO! It is when the wind isn't generating and we are relying on gas that the price peaks way up. In other words, having wind keeps our bills from being vastly more expensive.

    If we didn't have wind, we would be totally reliant on coal and gas and our electricity bills would be basically twice as much!

    And no Nuclear doesn't solve that, as mentioned above, any Nuclear plant we build, would need to have a similar amount of gas plants as spinning reserves, so you are back to having to use gas.

    The only mistake we have made is not moving to wind even faster! If we had 80% renewables today rather then 40%, we would be using half as much gas and our electricity bills would be much cheaper. If we were at 100% (hydrogen, etc.) we wouldn't even notice what is happening with fossil fuel prices.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    we're still no closer to having solar panels that produce power during winter nights or windmills that produce power during an anti-cyclone.

    What a bizarre statement lol its akin to "we're still no closer to having oil-fired turbines that produce power without fuel"

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,194 ✭✭✭✭ lawred2

    Your say Nuclear is not for us.

    What is? Another few gas burners?

    Sorry. That came across as glib. I'm actually being serious, what is our way out of dependence on imported gas?

    Could Ireland ever achieve energy independence?

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 88,912 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Capt'n Midnight

    UK made a firm commitment to build 6 nuclear power plants in 2011. Sixteen years later, if there aren't yet more delays they will start commissioning the first half of the first one. That'll take about 6 months which easily sees us into 2028. At best it's 50:50 that that first plant will be fully up and running by 2030.

    If you want nuclear power you'll still have to keep they lights on while it's being built. But you won't have money because of the capital tied up or the insane interest payments. ( compare the % EDF & Co. get compared to what HMG pay for loans or bonds, the difference is pure profit ) Also our 2030 targets mean we can't use coal or oil for baseload.

    Gas is the least worst in the interim. Low capital cost, can ramp up/down to load balance with renewables so lower average emissions. By 2030 hydrogen turbines will be a thing (they are already but by 2030 they'll be available across the whole range) and you can store months worth of the stuff in old gas wells. And that's the worst case scenario. Cheaper storage or better rememberable or better insulation or demand shedding would all play a part too.

    Nobody is suggesting that nuclear can compete with renewables on price to make hydrogen. And you can export hydrogen in pipes so nuclear here would be competing with summer solar in Spain.

    Unlike the UK we haven't been doing civil and naval nuclear power since the 1950's and there's no incentive for the nuclear power companies to give us a good price or treat us well to get further orders, we'd be in a rubbish bargaining position because they'd be holding us to ransom because it would be "too big to fail".

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,597 ✭✭✭ Markcheese

    "Could Ireland ever achieve energy independence ?"

    It kind of depends on definitions - we could very quickly become a net energy exporter , if the off-shore wind sector gets to their stated aim .. and we're heading towards using a lot more electricity for home heating and for cars ,

    But we'll still need some fossil fuels as a back up to wind , for the foreseeable future ..

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,019 ✭✭✭✭ cnocbui

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,597 ✭✭✭ Markcheese

    Which bit ? The turbines or the grid ?

    Well we're likely to find out soon , because offshore wind is coming to Irish shores ..( in a limited fashion )

    Actually we could just compare the costs of UK offshore wind to hinkly C , although the projected costs for sizewell (if it gets built) should be lower because it'll be almost identical ,obviously adjusting for inflation .

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,597 ✭✭✭ Markcheese

    thats a 2017 one but there are many newer articles ,

    Added to that many of the future offshore schemes refered to in the article are already producing power by now ... Hinkleys a while off yet ..

    Slava ukraini 🇺🇦

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,019 ✭✭✭✭ cnocbui

    2027 LCOE cost of nuclear per MWH: $88.24 for nuclear vs 136.51 for offshore wind - I'm ignoring the tax credit nonsense.

    This can be confirmed via real world actual costs by comparing the recently commissioned nuclear plant in the UAE against the most recent larg scale offshore wind farm off Scotland, which I have detailed earlier in this and other threads.

    And the difference is considerably greater than the broken and dishonest LCOE model, which favours intermittent renewables to a ridiculous extent because it only looks at the cost of electricity that is generated by the systems when they are functioning and doesn't factor in the additional costs arising from having to meet demand when renewables fail, which for offshore wind is an immense 47 % of the time.

    This failure of renewables is characterised by their low availability rating. I can't understand why the energy market and technologies are so dishonestly represented and costed. I think the real LCOE should include the gas generated energy cost for the extended period of unavailability of renewables.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    I'm ignoring the tax credit nonsense.

    Its possible to make data say anything you want when you're selective about which parts you choose to ignore

    comparing the recently commissioned nuclear plant in the UAE against the most recent large scale offshore wind farm off Scotland

    Again, being selective. You are not comparing like with like. If you were you would compare offshore wind UAE with Nuke plants in UAE or the same in Scotland.

    Given the UAE would have lower salary levels, less stringent environmental regulations, less strict safety regs etc, its apples to oranges