A double first for China with two new nuclear power plants

From IEEE Spectrum (h/t to GWPF)

Safer reactors designed in the U.S. and Europe make their power grid debuts in China

Call it the world’s slowest photo finish. After several decades of engineering, construction flaws and delays, and cost overruns—a troubled birth that cost their developers dearly—the most advanced commercial reactor designs from Europe and the United States just delivered their first megawatt-hours of electricity within one day of each other. But their benefits—including safety advances such as the AP1000’s passive cooling and the EPR’s airplane crash-proof shell—may offer too little, too late to secure future projects.

Both of the design debuts happened in China late last month. On Thursday, 29 June, a 1,400-MW EPR designed in France and Germany synced up to the grid at the Taishan nuclear power plant. The next day the U.S.-designed 1,117-MW AP1000 delivered first power at China’s Sanmen plant.

Both projects are coming online years behind schedule, and they are still at least several months away from full commercial operation. But the real problem for the AP1000 and the EPR are the designs’ unfinished Western debuts.

Delays are commonplace in the nuclear industry. For instance, the Korean-built nuclear reactors originally due to begin starting up last year in the United Arab Emirates were recently pushed back to late 2019 or early 2020. But the AP1000 and EPR troubles are in a different league.

The AP1000 is designed to passively cool itself during an accidental shutdown, theoretically avoiding accidents like the one at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi. But AP1000 developer Westinghouse declared bankruptcy last year due to construction troubles, particularly at dual-reactor plants for utilities in Georgia and South Carolina. The latter abandoned their pair of partially built AP1000s after investing US $9 billion. The Georgia plant, initiated in 2012, is projected to be completed five years late in 2022 and at a cost of $25 billion—$11 billion more than budgeted.

Delays for the EPR, whose dual-layered concrete shield protects against airplane strikes, contributed to the breakup of Paris-based nuclear giant Areva in 2015. And the first EPR projects in France and Finland remain troubled under French utility Electricité de France (EDF), which absorbed Areva’s reactor business, Fromatome. The Finnish plant, started in 2005 and expected to take four years, is currently slated for startup next year, and deadlines continue to come and go. In June, Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj announced that startup had slid another four months to September 2019.

The troubled EPR and AP1000 projects show that U.S. and European firms have lost competence in nuclear construction and management. ”It’s no coincidence that two of the four AP1000s in the U.S. were abandoned, and that the EPRs that started much earlier than Taishan’s in Finland and France are still under construction,” says nuclear energy consultant Mycle Schneider, principal author of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report. “The Chinese have a very large workforce that they move from one project to another, so their skills are actually getting better, whereas European and North American companies haven’t completed reactors in decades,” says Schneider.

Full story here

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152 thoughts on “A double first for China with two new nuclear power plants

    • That’s just the beginning. Everything must be standardized, modular and pre-built to factory specs. All the controls and operating instructions must be standardized so that any qualified operator can go to another plant and see the exact same layout and controls. No custom built or proprietary systems or parts. Use the power of industrialization to drive the cost down relentlessly.

      • So instead of 3000 pages for the validation of a device working under 15 atm, they would required 30000 pages to validate the assembly line. LOL

          • Show us that you can it ten times without civil unrest.

            Remember, Superphenix the French (well, international but mostly French) fast breeder, during construction, was attacked with a rocket by an “ecologist” who got it “for free” from a terror group.

        • It’s some complicated.

          Every generation of French reactor is different from the previous one, and many plants have specific features.

          Some reactors are designed for MOX, some were re-designed and some are U only.

          Some reactors do frequency control and some don’t.

      • The biggest problem is licensing and regulatory hurdles. That and public ignorance on all things nuclear.

        • It wasn’t just the pork: it was that that the molten salt reactors they were working on at the time did not produce weapons grade material. To make matters worse, when the project was closed the research results were not merely filed away in dark corners but destroyed. The necessary work has to be done all over again.

          • Indeed, the molten salt does turn solid when it is cold. This is why the reactor design includes heaters for startup.

      • The US Air Force operated one using uranium fluoride slats back in the 60’s. The design was abandoned when it proved too heavy to power a bomber. I take that test as proof that they are fairly straightforward to build, but the regulatory barrier is too high now.

        • Well, the reactor itself wasn’t too heavy, it was the shielding. The weight was so much that no air frame at the could carry it all safely leaving only one option to shield the pilots only. The other issue was there were two types of engines the reactors powered, direct and indirect. The direct reactor engine was too “dirty” emitting high levels of radioactive gas leaving indirect type the only sensible option. It did fly but was quickly abandoned.

        • Loren

          The ‘nuclear powered aircraft” was a cover story to continue with the proof of concept: upgrading Thorium to U233 and its use in a reactor to generate heat. It works.

          This article is ostensibly about Chinese nuclear power technology coming to the grid. It doesn’t mention the new CANDU 2 reactor, the design for which was completed in January. Canadian and Chinese scientists are now making a new generation of heavy water reactors. Both already use the 50+ year old design from Ontario Hydro.

          CANDU 2 will be able to use as fuel, the waste from these fast breeders and light water reactors plus a host of other materials. It is not as inherently safe as the Thorium-fluoride reactors, but it is a heck of a lot better than the pressurized light water variety.

          Remember than in 1974 the decision was taken to adopt as the main technology the most expensive possible option. The difference between a 2.5 bn reactor (1974) and a 1.5 bn reactor goes to whom? The constructor and operators! By choosing the most dangerous (expensive) and potentially disastrous (expensive safety systems) design, they maximized the cost of construction, electricity and operation. There is literally no incentive to minimize the operating and fuel waste costs of a power generation system. The more it costs, the more one can charge for the power. Power companies can even fund “green’ groups to oppose them to drive up the price of construction. Every little bit helps. Dangerous technologies requires masses of overlapping backup systems and redundancies. What’s not to like? It will all be paid for by consumers.

          Green groups think they are ‘clevah’ by driving up the costs of nuclear power. All it does is raise the price of power. In the long run, coal, oil and gas will be depleted or declining. Having a century of clean, safe operation of fantastically expensive nuclear power stations under their belts will merely reinforce the argument that they should be paid a lot, not that they should not be built. No one is going to run a modern society on wind turbines and PV panels, and the power has to come from somewhere. Absent a new inexpensive form of nuclear power, the medium term looks like it favours Thorium, natural uranium and heavy water.

    • Unfortunately much research is required before the details of the nasty aspects of the chemistry can be resolved. The Chinese have been working on these for years and it is their publicly announced intention to own all the key patents if they can. The rest of the world is several years behind them.

  1. Even China isnt going full nukes. They are still building coal and gas plants. If they were really committed to the CO2 meme, they wouldnt be doing this. China knows that the CO2 meme is a big hoax.

    • I’d like to know how the Chinese know it’s a hoax while so many westerners actually believe CO2 is an existential threat?

      • Because china is run by engineers, not political philosophers and economists.
        And they rule with a heavy hand, so they don’t need to tell lies to get stuff done.

        Most of what te government and media does in the West is manipulating public consciousness to get things done. Unfortunately good manipulators are not good managers.

        • “… they don’t need to tell lies to get stuff done.”

          Remember the comment on WUWT a few years ago from a GE? engineer who had helped build a reactor in China.

          He noted that he had advised the plant operators of the required operational parameters. Upon returning 6 mos later, he was astounded to see that, regardless of actual results, they had ‘rigged’ the numbers to report ‘correct’ parameters to their bosses!

        • China is run by a vicious heavy handed communist party.
          But the party has chosen to use “rich slave” instead of “starving proletariat” rule.
          There is a great deal of lying going on, but on balance they leave technical issues to technicians, and seem so far able to see “climate change” for the irrational circular thinking and misanthropic bs it is.

        • Hey hey hey, skeptic political philosopher here (working quite happily in corporate America).

        • Just about exactly right. We wanted to believe that educating idiots creates geniuses. It doesn’t. It just empowers morons and there is a fantastic surplus of them.

          • John Harmsworth :
            Sadly….I concur ! FORCING EVERYONE to “DO” higher
            education has simply REDUCED THE STANDARD of education ,
            extended adolescence into the student’s 30’s and 40’s
            ( delayed maturity ) , almost destroyed the training of
            SKILLED TRADESMEN and , with it , so much of our
            manufacturing industry , saddled ALL THE YOUNG
            with EDUCATION EXPENSES that very few of them
            actually needed and produced a ” highly opinionated ,
            immature , “green-washed” generation devoid of initiative and
            purpose BUT “FEELING highly entitled” and hard-done-by !”
            Mind you……they can ALWAYS blame the “baby-boomers” ….
            everyone else does…….especially the Governments !!
            They NOW all have degrees that aren’t worth the paper they
            are written on ( let alone what they had to pay to get them ! )
            and most of them are trained for fields that lack a
            practical application ( Dead-end !?? ).
            AND it STILL hasn’t solved the problem of WHAT TO DO
            with the 10% of the population that LACK THE
            MENTAL ABILITY to ever function productively in our society !
            LEFT WING : Everyone DESERVES a good education and then
            they can get a well paid job – or WELFARE ( a living allowance !)
            RIGHT WING : Everyone DESERVES the OPPORTUNITY of a
            good education IF THEY SHOW THE ABILITY or DESIRE IT !
            What they do with it after that IS THEIR CHOICE !
            Welfare should NOT be part of that choice !
            MIND YOU ….there IS A BONUS at the end of this delusionary
            rainbow !! “RESEARCH has INDICATED that undergoing tertiary
            education DELAYS the onset on various forms of dementia ,
            especially Alzheimer’s Dementia.”
            So….. it means you can be LUCID and able to contemplate the
            futility of un-employment or under-employment and it’s
            debilitating effects on your life FOR EVEN LONGER NOW !!
            NOW…… Is THAT a bonus or what !??

      • There are a few advantages to government run media.
        The problems greatly outweigh the advantages, but there are advantages.

      • Because political activism to the detriment of the country isn’t funded by the government in China.

      • The Chinese just don’t care what white people think. They have 1.3 billion people to feed, and they are going to do what is expedient for them. If it causes problems for white people, so much the better.

      • The Chinese have been civilised for much longer than the West and are smarter. The Chinese instinctively know a hoax when they see it, owing to hundreds of more years of experience of hoaxes in China.

        • Nicholas AND Walter :
          Walter…..what knowledge or right do you have to SPEAK for 1.3 Billion Chinese ?
          .
          Nicholas….I think that you are much closer to the true situation !
          ( for what it is worth !?? )

      • The deneration that permits crazy unreal ideas like “climate chsnge” to become real in the minds of many requires certain conditions to exist.
        China is hardly a healthy free place to live.
        And corruption runs high in many areas.
        Their government imposes a “rich slave” system, allowing wealth as long as their is no serious residtance to the communist party rule.
        There is much financial and technical corruption.
        But so far they have not bought into the climate change mess.
        The Chinese, irt to solving problems, do not seem to simply blame humans as the primary problem.

      • Klem : Mostly because the ONLY CHINESE who are constantly subjected
        to DELUSIONARY “green-washing” about
        CATASTROPHIC CLIMATE CHANGE are those “lucky” few
        who attend WESTERN UNIVERSITIES !
        So , most of their students are PROTECTED from that and learn that CO2
        is a biological necessity and they can build COAL-FIRED POWER STATIONS
        with a clear conscience KNOWING that they are doing good in the world !
        Providing their citizenry with ECONOMICAL power and continuing prosperity !

    • I’m not sure they care if it’s true or not. They want electricity. If they’ve got coal, and no other form of power, they will use coal. The alternative for many of the poorest in China is to burn cow dung for heat.

  2. Sigh…this story covers one aspect of the problem. Certainly there’s an issue with completing huge projects of this magnitude, but what the author of that article failed to point out is the regulatory environment that all but ensures failure. I contend that it’s impossible for an industrial company to properly plan and budget projects such as a new nuke plant in an environment where the regulator exerts as much control as they do. When every calculation, every design parameter, and every phase is required to be redone multiple times to satisfy the whims of beurocratic overseers, well, what do we really expect? (I believe there’s a reason that China has successfully completed these projects, but the US and Europe can’t.)

    Note, this doesn’t excuse the performance issues of AREVA and Westinghouse, but it should be put into the context of the environment they are currently working in.

    Just my opinion.

    rip

    • Yeah, that’s why the cost to expand bridges built around the 1960s is about ten times higher even adjusting for inflation. Environmental impact studies and mitigation alone can exceed the original cost.

      Seems likely no existing in-service design would be approved today, let alone installed.

      • Also the price of high speed (“TGV”) railways as increased bigly since the first 320 km/h safe railways in the 70ties. Now the speeds are slightly higher (350 km/h) and the cost is about tens times as big.

    • This is a problem entirely due to government incompetence/malfeasance.

      I was peripherally involved with the project to build the reactors in Richland, WA in the 1980’s. The utility wanted to build 5 reactors simultaneously but eventually ran out of money. Only one is running today.

      The money issue was entirely due to constantly shifting regulations and requirements. One day a wall would require half inch steel. The next week it required one inch steel. So the old wall would be torn down and the new wall put up. Next month the type of steel required would change. Yet another tear-down was required.

      Do realize that perhaps 60 reactors, including the Fast Flux Test Facility, had been built in that area starting in WWII. The plutonium for the nuclear weapons was produced just down the road in Hanford, WA. So there was no lack of expertise in building reactors in that area.

      This constant re-design happened continually during the build process. It is my belief that this strategy was employed by the regulators to destroy the nuclear industry in the United States.

      They were successful. Much like they illegally and illicitly destroyed the DDT market.

      This is why the firms building new reactors in the USA demanded a completed and approved design before turning a single shovel of dirt. The reactor developers got wise to the government scam and would no longer allow the bureaucrats to “passive aggressively” destroy the projects.

      • Other companies were able to build multiple commercial reactors.

        WPPSS had zero experience building any kind of commercial steam plant.

        I will also point out DOE had zero experience building reactors with independent oversight.

        Oversight is only a problems when you are not very competent.

    • This is one of the reasons SpaceX is launching giant rockets while NASA is talking about them.

  3. So it would seem that western nations have fallen behind in the hierarchy of competence, with respect to the nuclear industry. Use it or lose it is the lesson to be learned here.

  4. There must be something other than technical concerns going on here. Anything that progresses in such a manner has the whiff of politics, of issues other than engineering becoming dominant.

    • Coal is nowhere near as cheap as uranium, energy wise

      $25bn has to be seen in the light of what the plant produces and its lifetime.

      And the prevailing interest rates.

      The capital cost works out at around $10bn/GW . which is similar to UK EPR costs.

      Put in the context of an offshore windmill at $5bn per GW BUT with only a 25 year lifetime and only a 30% capacity factor at best…and it looks cheap.

      Coal power stations with stack scrubbers and so on are not cheap either, Gas turbines are the cheapest of all to build.

      • Today, gas turbine economics benefits from historically very low gas prices. As more gas is exported from N.A. the continental price should move closer to world prices. Those gas turbines don’t look as good at double or triple the gas price. Also, the Greens are only friendly to gas as long as it displaces coal, diesel or gasoline use. If they ever push those out of the way they will turn on nat gas like rabid zombies, only stupider.

      • Gas turbines are great for cycling plants as peak demand coverage. That is their real application sweet spot.

      • Good fiscal calculations, except that Nuclear requires 3 extra factors in deciding Affordability:

        – Disaster Risk Management:
        How could the Fukushima disaster happen to the extremely careful Japanese?

        – Insurability:
        Who’s paying for the evacuees who will likely never return to their homes?
        Who’s paying for the multi-decade decontamination of the reactor?

        – Disposal & Storage of radioactive waste & deconstructed reactors:
        Where will they store the radioactive materials for 10,000 years (boiler tubes, concrete, etc) and 300,000 years (spent fuel rods)?

        Hubris.

        • – Fukushima Daishi had its lifetime extended twice. It was designed for a 8.0 earthquake, and was hit by a 9.0 earthquake (the largest recorded earthquake in the history of Japan — and that’s a long history.) The reactor self-SCRAMed without issue. But then the 30 meter high tsunami hit the 10 meter high sea wall and flooded the emergency generators used to run cooling. Because the plant was so old, it had never been retrofitted with the newer auxilliary power plugs, so the generator trucks that drove up literally could not be plugged in to run the cooling pumps. Yes, the meltdown literally could have been avoided with plugs that fit the sockets. Result: disaster because of the difficulty of building a new, replacement, modern plant that would have survived. Note that the Fukushima Daini power plant, just 10 kilometers away, which was not hit full-force by the tsunami and did have the new plugs, safely SCRAMed and shut down without issues.

          – The highest levels of radiation near the F. Daishi plant are now lower than that on the public beaches in Brazil, and most of the areas are lower than the level I am exposed to daily living in Colorado. Again, had the insane high prices of compliance not prevented the on-time retirement and replacement of the plant, there would be no cleanup and decontamination costs. That said, most of the people could move back now with no real risk, but we have politically charged the word “RADIATION” as if it was something every single person on the planet wasn’t exposed to every single day.

          – Switching to a molten thorium salt self-breeding process allows the burning of current “waste” products (which still contain about 95% fuel) and produces final products that are only radioactive and dangerous for about 3 centuries, at a much lower proportion than current reactors because they use all of the fuel. Powering the entire planet for a year would use a cube of thorium less than 12 feet on a side, and produce an equivalent small amount of waste. In the meantime, just the fly ash from coal plants could bury whole cities. When it comes to waste, we have the knowledge build containers that can safely store things for 3 centuries. We have no clue how to build containers that are good for 300,000 years.

          So, by your own argument of costs, you are saying we stopped working on nuclear reactors just as we reached a point where further research would have eliminated all the current problems, and you can now point at the very problems that you used to stop progress just as they were being solved as the reason not to work on fixing those problems. That’s circular logic at its finest.

          And there’s no real alternative.

          Wind power is expensive and takes up huge tracts of land, requiring power leveling from banks of batteries that we can’t even produce in quantities large enough to replace 5% of the cars on the road, much less the baseline power of the U.S. Typical maintenance on windmills is dangerous with fires, collapses, and falls common. And let’s not forget that they are not especially kind to our flying friends, with an average of over 500 birds per year killed by blade strikes per windmill in the most recent studies.

          Solar power uses some of the most hideous chemicals and greenhouse gasses thousands of times as powerful as CO2 to manufacture. And, they still need the same battery farms to level the power for baseline use. Places where solar panels are built turn the ground beneath them into a practical desert, destroying those ecosystems as well — especially the extremely fragile balance of desert ecosystems where everyone wants to put them.

          Hydropower is 95% or more utilized in the United States, so we can’t get anything there of consequence. Even if 100% utilized, it would produce less than 10% of baseline power.

          Geothermal power is limited to areas with geothermal hot spots, so that’s extremely limited as well.

          If you want to go with extremely “out there” solutions like tidal generators or OTECs, then you are decades away from even minimal production, and we have no idea what the consequences of any of those systems will be.

          The real fact is, even with Chernobyl and Fukushima (and, by the way, no one actually _died_ at Fukushima, while we ignore the 20,000+ people who died from the earthquake and tsunami that caused the meltdown) nuclear power still represents the safest form of power production in the world, with 0.04 deaths per terawatt hour of production. Coal is in the range of 240 world wide. Solar is 0.10, Windmills are 0.15.

          If we had ignored the Jane Fondas of the world, and kept developing nuclear power using Gen 5 and Gen 6 walk-away safe designs like pebble beds, and molten salt reactors with on-site fuel reprocessing and reclamation, not only would we not be having questions about nuclear power, we would have switched most of the world to clean, efficient, cheap, and carbon-free power generation decades ago.

        • The geologists assured them that a 9 meter tsunami was the worst case scenario.
          They got hit with a 10 meter tsunami. Worse, the back up generator was stored in an area that got flooded.

          The evacuees could return home now if the politicians would let them.

          Nuclear waste doesn’t need storage, it needs to be reprocessed and used again for fuel. Everything that can’t be reprocessed has half lives in the months to a few years range.
          First off, reactors aren’t deconstructed while they are still hot. The fuel is removed then the doors are locked for a decade or so. After which times they are safe to handle with standard safety protocols.

          Not hubris, pure ignorance. On your part.

          • “Everything that can’t be reprocessed has half lives in the months to a few years range.”
            ..
            The following fission products (and half lives) cannot be reprocessed:
            ..
            Technetium-99 211,000 years
            Tin-126 108,000 years
            Selenium-79 327,000 years
            Zirconium-93 1,535,000 years
            Caesium-135 2,300,000 years
            Palladium-107 1,250,000 years
            Iodine-129 15,700,000 years

          • And the concentrations are? Close enough to nonexistent that the difference doesn’t matter.

          • It’s the shorter lived half-lives that are more harmful to people and the environment.

          • Technetium-99 and Iodine-129 are candidates for transmutation because they have sufficiently high neutron cross-section and are isotopically pure. They happen to be the most prevalent long-lived fission products.

          • The activity of a radioactive isotope sample declines over time because the radiation is produced by the destruction of one of the isotope atoms in the sample. After it destructs, it is no longer an atom of that isotope and therefore no longer radioactive in the same way.

            If it takes 300,000 years to destroy half the atoms, then they aren’t self destructing at a very high rate, and so the radioactivity of that isotope LOW. This is a very GOOD thing not a BAD thing.

        • No credible accident in a nuclear plant would require evacuation. Ever.

          An hospital is more dangerous for the population.

        • cuzLorne,
          If you understood the physics and chemistry of radioactive decay, if you actually worked with it instead of bleating propaganda messages, you would know that those figures like “300,000 years for spent fuel rods” are a fantasy. Essentially all radioactive materials can be processed and diluted until their radioactive emissions become level with those of other cases, such as the radioactivity exposure to people in uranium mines, the radioactivity in high-flying aircraft, that in parts of India where natural minerals produce high backgrounds, or even the plain case of people living in their homes.
          Decades ago, people worked out that undiluted, the spent fuel radioactivity dropped down to be equal to uranium ore levels in a couple of hundred years, or less, depending on how the fuel burn had been managed. Since we do not now have a health problem for uranium miners, a conservative approach would be to simply let the spent fuel sit for a few years until much of the short-life radioactivity decayed away, then to progressively dilute the product until it can be approached safely by workers with minimal shielding.
          Remember that for most practical applications, you are safe with radioactivity if you can walk away from it for a few hundred metres. It is like we say about tiger snakes here in Australia. It is best to walk away from them than to try to engage with them, as in to catch or kill them. I worked with anomalous radioactivity for much of my career and these simple truths were well known. An ignorant blob of activists, usually with no experience, has distorted these simple truths into unimaginable horror fairy tales and a few too many suckers have believed them.

          You should feel ashamed for promoting the 300,000 year garbage that has no credible links to anything understood by those who know about these things.
          You should be promoting a series of meetings between those who want to progress nuclear energy and those who want to over-regulate it. It might be a good ides to hold such meetings in China at the sites of these new reactors, so the ignoramuses at such meetings can be educated first hand. Geoff.

      • Gas turbines do not have the reliability of site storage of month’s supply of coal on generator acreage. To equal that inventory tremendous tankage must be provided as pipelines cannot guarantee that reliability. Haven’t been involved in NAT gas storage tank economics but I bet it exceeds that of on-site coal storage piles.

  5. Bill Gates’ company is pursuing 4th gen nuclear reactor technologies, including the molten salt reactor…

    “….TerraPower, the Bill Gates-chaired nuclear company, has altered the design of its so-called traveling wave reactor and has begun exploring other fission technologies as well, including thorium fuel and molten salt reactors..”
    ..
    ..
    “… TerraPower has quietly begun exploring alternative nuclear technologies , including thorium fuel and “high temperature reactors” such as molten salt reactors (MSRs) and others. Each of the alternatives offers a different set of advantages, including improved safety, reduced waste, less risk of weapons proliferation, and improved operating efficiencies. High temperature reactors can also serve as clean sources of industrial heat …”

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/bill-gates-stops-chasing-nuclear-wave-pursues-variety-of-reactors/

    If anyone in the private sector has the money to do this, it’s Bill Gates. I believe I recall reading that he abd his company wwere given grant money from the DOE for these projects as well. If the civilian nuclear power generation industry in the US is to get a reviving shot in the arm, this is perhaps the shot it needs.

  6. China is poised to beat crap out of us. (On many levels.) Q: Will the politically powerful anti-nuke loons in the western world ever be overcome?

  7. We’re crazy not to be utilizing more nuclear power. We should have settled on a standardized design years ago and at this point we should be getting almost all of our electrical energy from nuclear power. While I don’t believe in the current global warming superstition, nuclear power if used properly produces cheap reliable safe energy with minimal disruption to the environment.

    It’s like the ancient Greeks developing a steam powered engine in Alexandria and then never utilizing it. I guess they preferred using slaves, horses and the wind. Like them we know how to use the technology but our wise men are too clever to be practical.

    • The steam powered engine that they developed was little more than a toy. They didn’t have the metallurgical technology necessary to make a usable version.

      • Since we haven’t solved the disposal & very longterm storage problem in 60+ years, might it be argued that we too haven’t yet developped a usable version of Nuclear power?

        Perhaps the Greeks understood Hubris.

        • Because GE successfully lobbied congress to make fuel reprocessing illegal so they could continue to produce fresh fuel rods at high profits? We are currently “throwing away” fuel rods after using about 5% of the uranium-235 in them, solely to continue to enrich GE’s fuel rod division.

          • Interesting how urban legends get started.
            It was the left that lobbied for the elimination of reprocessing because those rods also contained plutonium that could have been used to build nuclear bombs. That is why reprocessing was killed.

            Would GE make more money from running the reprocessing plant, or from making new rods?

        • The storage problem was only a problem because the politicians prevented any workable solutions.
          Not hubris, pure ignorance. On your part.

        • The US Navy reprocesses their fuel rods. It can be done. We have a long-term storage site in Nevada, but politically, we can’t use it yet. Wait until a tank bursts at Hanover.

          • Do you mean Hanford? No high level waste is stored in tanks there.

            Yucca Mountain is the geological repository for high level nuclear waste (spent fuel).

            Currently there is no engineering problems with storing spent fuel.

        • Very long term disposal of nuclear waste has been solved for decades, in the rational world.
          In the “green” world, not so much..
          Also, the actual scope of the waste problem has been deceptively hyped by the greens.
          Sadly for the West, greens who believe in “climate change” and “all radiation is bad” control the public square.

          • Been there! Not licensed, not build.

            Sufficient work and testing has been done to license and build it.

    • The steam engine was a novelty but it wasn’t a toy. It was used to haul wood to the top of the lighthouse in Alexandria. It didn’t need any piston. And the ancients knew how to make iron. They had all the technology they needed. It would have been a very small leap of imagination to have attached a gear connected to a paddle wheel on a boat or to have attached the axle on the spinning kettle directly to the wheel of a cart. It could have been attached to a grinding wheel. While I admire many things the ancient Greeks accomplished, they completely flubbed this one. They had the technology – they just didn’t use it.

      We already know how to dispose of nuclear waste. There is enough storage space in the government’s depository in Nevada to last us forever. We just aren’t using the technology that we already have.

      • Got a cite for the claim that they used a steam engine to haul wood? The metallurgy of the day was not up to containing the pressures needed.

  8. The main obstacle for the AP1000 reactors was the inability of a U.S. firm to construct the reactor core. Westinghouse struggled with Chicago Bridge and Steel (?) and then bought the company, but never was able to produce the steel and cast structures accurately enough. The U.S. simply had lost the ability to produce large steel components. But the good news is that these monolithic water reactors are the past, not the future of nuclear power. All of the development
    these days is about molten salt (and ocasionally Thorium) small modular reactors (which are not that small – 300-450MW). These reactors do not have to contain the high internal core pressures of current reactors. Their core cannot physically melt down and the pressures they are under are insignificant – totally incapable of spewing radioactive debris to any distance, even in the very unlikely event of a rupture of the reactor core. They also heat the water for the turbine generators without allowing any water in that system to be radioative, so any rupture on the power generation side can do no harm with ‘respect to radiation. These reactors can be constructed in factories and have only a fraction of the mass required by current reactors, therefore can be installed on a site which requires little preparation. They also do not require a body of water for cooling – they are air cooled. Very few of them require refueling shutdowns, which increases their capacity, and they can load follow – they are not limited to base load operation as are current reactors, and they can eliminate the need for mid-peak load generators.. Build costs are low – estimated power costs are under 4 cents per kWhr. They can literally be located just about anywhere. And they offer the ability to incrementally add capacity as demand increases.

  9. Four AP1000 reactors were also being built in the USA – two each at Vogtle and Summer. However, construction of the two Summer units was suspended last August, World Nuclear News (WNN) noted. Trump must take action on this.

  10. China is currently building 17 reactors, only a few by foreign companies. China has designed their own version of Westinghouse’s AP1000 and others as well. They can build them at $5bill
    apiece. They also have 170 plus reactors proposed or planned for the future. They, like the U.S. and U.K. and Canada and India, are oalso rapidly developing molten salt and (especially India) Thorium small modular reactors.

    • India is not as far as I know utilizing liquid salt reactors.

      Their research is into thorium breeders with a uranium or plutonium starter.

      Not sure what CANDU are up to, but their original series were fine reactors.

      They pulled out of bidding for UK new nuclear because it was all too bureaucratic and protracted.

      Don’t blame em.

      • CANDU is likely the world’s safest design But refurbishing “the original series” every ~20 years (replacing zirconium boiler tubes) has caused ~50% of Ontario electricity rate increases in the past 15 years.

        This has driven Ontario to the highest rates in North America and threatened our economy by driving away industry.

        Heavy industry in Niagara, Hamilton and Brant began moving away when Pickering came on stream in the early 1970’s and cheaper Niagara Falls hydro was used to subsidize Pickering for Toronto. This prevented the provincial government of the day from being voted from office by Torontonians, but it destroyed Ontario heavy industry and non-Toronto economies.

    • Arthur, that confirms what I was thinking reading this post. All China, or anybody else needs to do, is do away with the US/Europe designers and specs and design them themselves. Use the basis of those designs, but reduce the quintuple-redundant requirements & regulations. Or use the basis of the US molten-salt reactor that operated successfully in the 60s.

      • Beng135

        The CANDU 2 design is now ready. Expect that it will change many assessments. There is no need to chase the UK market. They can freeze in the dark as penance for avoiding their obligations to the public.

        China, India and Canada have no major obligation to the light water reactor market. Even South Africa would do better with a CANDU 2, if they are allowed to bypass the party kickback mechanisms (30%) required for large public expenditures.

  11. As a Practical Futurist I tend to dig at the root of a problems and then offer a simple holistic solution. If I may offer an idea. http://www.flexobile.com/power . I’m not a scholar and there is nothing new here it’s just putting the pieces together in a way that has the potential for success.

    • No I don’t.

      We were building safe reactors back in the 70s at a far cheaper price. Nuclear has been strangled by legislation, not made safer.

      • What’s done is done though, no matter how wrong it was. I don’t believe it can be undone now, not even by Trump. But he can at least save coal.

      • Wind might work if you can use it to pump water to a higher reservoir which generates hydro power. Let us face it. Gas is best.
        More carbon is OK.

        • There aren’t enough suitable locations for water storage. Not to mention it’s a very inefficient form of storage.

          • Gas powered stations are the cheapest to build. Why go for nuclear if gas can do the same job?

          • The biggest reason nuclear is expensive to build is because regulators want it that way.
            Gas is cheap now, it won’t always be that way.

          • “Gas is cheap now, it won’t always be that way.”

            I don’t see this as being obviously true. There are enough methane hydrates around the world to supply all the world’s necessary energy (i.e., that not supplied by photovoltaics or wind) for at least several centuries.

            I don’t see a clear reason why extraction of methane from hydrates should be expensive.

          • “There aren’t enough suitable locations for water storage”

            Lake Erie is a pretty large storage tank. Use wind power to pump water up Niagara Falls at night. If they are going to finance boondoggles, it is better to do that than dumping the power at a loss on the NY grid as happens now. At present, they could light the Burlington Skyway with the glow of “stupid” emanating from these renewable schemes.

            I passed the Darlington Station on Wednesday, near Bowmanville, where they are building a new interchange on the 401. It looks as if the expansion of Darlington is going ahead. I presume it will be with the new generation of CANDU 2 reactors.

    • And wind turbines destroying all open spaces possible, filling the horizon with industrial bird killing clutter, is good?

      • You did not get it.
        Wind will work if you can control output. E.g.
        Demand is high = there is no wind.
        Demand is low = there is wind.
        How to solve the problem?
        Use the wind to pump the water up to a higher reservoir and produce hydro electricity if and when required. It is a simple proposed solution?
        Anyway. I still think gas is best..
        Just frack it.

  12. This will be another thing to be accomplished by Trump. It is disgusting how US superiority in such a critical industry has languished for a number of decades under government’s who let activists who would destroy the country kill off nuclear. This is where all the bs regarding nuclear being too expensive comes from. Activists these days dont have any real people concerns, but rather global political objectives, making there activities a branch of anti-American economic terrorism.

    • On the money @Gary Pearse – US has lost the technical/economic ability to build current reactor designs, let alone new developments. And all the time Russia and China have maintained/grown their expertise. A strategic disaster.

      Whats needed in a new US nuclear power program, with all the technical re-establishment to go with it. Trump having secured the US base load power capability (and cost) with the re-establishment of coal, is this for Trump’s second term?

      • If Trump announced a next-generation nuclear program he’d blunt and split the climate-crisis opposition and win votes from a populace looking to recover America’s can-do spirit and MAGA. Why aren’t his advisors pushing this?

      • The nukes being built in the Emirates are Korean design and Korean supplied. Too bad the US has fallen behind.

        • “The nukes being built in the Emirates are Korean design and Korean supplied. Too bad the US has fallen behind.”

          Too bad Abu Dhabi wasted money on those reactors. It would have been much less expensive to implement demand side management, photovoltaics, and natural gas and battery backup to come online at the time the four reactors at Barakah are going to come online.

          https://renewablesnow.com/news/update-abu-dhabi-confirms-usd-24-2-mwh-bid-in-solar-tender-540324/

        • Copied from a US design.

          The US is still the leader in making electricity with with nuclear nuclear power.

          South Korea certainly should be commended for turning one of the poorest countries into a rich industrialist power with the help of nuclear technology.

  13. Ghostbusters had the number of national regulators way back in 1984. They’re sad, useless little men and women who use their positions to lash out at those more successful and likeable than themselves. In this instance, there’s no difference between the U.S. and China.

  14. The lesson from this is simple.
    If you kill something .. it dies.
    The west has killed its nuclear industry by chemical warfare, in a toxic fog of narcissistic self-righteous muddle-headed politically correct ecofasc1sm.
    And having killed our nuclear industry, we are now finding to our surprise that it is dead.

    • So now our 3-legged energy stool is composed of NG + Coal (hopefully), and “renewables”?
      Yikes, we’re screwed. Yes, we do still need nuclear. Base power doncha know. “Renewables” can’t cut it as one of the legs.

  15. Finland has and had have the World tightest nuclear law. You have to prove in design that any critical part of nuclear power plant (core, emergency cooling systems, etc) will work. It was not understod by Areva that the Finnish law really mean that and that it is enforced by local authority. I.e. Areva built several diesel motors in a well known German factory. One motor did not start in the first test, and they had to switch a part in the diesel motor. Finnish autority wrote a report that by fixing Areva had proved that the original design was not according to the law of Finland.

    • In France a “justification” for any design is also necessary. I hear that it’s on the order on thousands of pages for any pressurized part. It’s just crazy.

  16. I’m fine with nuclear power if:
    1) There is no dangerous waste with a long-term life span. Don’t like the idea of storing the current waste, there is no guarantee that the US will be here in 500 years. People coming across it in the future may get sick and die from it.
    2) The reactors are idiot proof.
    3) The reactors can automatically shut down in the event of an earthquake.

    • 1) Reprocess it, don’t store it.

      2) Nothing is idiot proof, if that is the standard you want, we better go back to living in caves. Modern reactors are very fault tolerant. There have been three major accidents in 50 years of nuclear power. That’s a much better record than any other source of power.
      3-Mile Island and Fukishima were old designs. Chernobyl was a design rejected in the west as inherently unstable. It was also built without a containment dome to save money. Finally they were performing a test involving seeing how close they could push the reactor towards it’s unstable region. They went a bit too far.

      3) That’s been handled for decades.

    • Can’t some of the waste be glassified, containing it? And/or dumped in an ocean trench (if not for a UN treaty banning this)?

      • Why does used nuclear fuel need to be ‘dumped’ in an ocean trench? Most of it is effectively safe once it’s been encased and all the short-term fission products are no longer active, a few years after it comes out of a reactor. It could actually be used as fuel in a ‘fast reactor’ design. Throwing it down an ocean trench wastes it and gives eco-nutters one more thing to whinge and whine about.

          • Correct, but it can be used as fuel in a CANDU 2 heavy water reactor. That’s the point.

        • What I was thinking of, and should have specified, is the bulky, mildly radioactive, non-reusable items like clothing. It would waste space inside Yucca Mountain.

          I was also thinking of the case where anti-nukes prohibit breeder reactors, as Carter (?) did, because of the thread of their being used abroad to create bombs. This would be a fallback if that occurred, and if Yucca Mountain were still declared off-limits.

    • Thank you for demonstrating the miasma of the green extremust mind.
      You are not even wrong, just non-rational.
      Wind turbines are a bigger risk, cost more in total, don’t pay for themselves, destroy more envirinment and leave longer term waste than nuclear.

      • “Thank you for demonstrating the miasma of the green extremust mind.”
        You wouldn’t say that if you’ve read my other posts here.

        “You are not even wrong, just non-rational.”
        Sure, I could be wrong about the waste and other things. It (nuclear power) was never a big ‘hot button’ item for me. Was just noting some concerns of nuclear that I’ve gleaned over the years that I thought were fair concerns.

  17. It is so much less costly, faster, higher efficiency, less political and smaller land use to build CCGTs than build nuclear. This is particularly true here in the environmental extremist U.S.

  18. “Nuclear energy consultant Mycle Schneider”

    Schneider is not a ‘consultant’ to the nuclear industry. He’s a professional alarmist, and anti-nuke. He’s never worked for the nuclear industry. True that the EPR, AP1000 plants take too long and cost too much. Any fool could tell you that. Take any advice Schneider [sells] and they’d take twice as long and be yet more expensive.

    World Nuclear Industry Status Report

    Just a left-wing hatchet job against nuclear power.

  19. Interesting. The miasma of the “climate concerned” mind has not yet infected China.

  20. A member of my family works in the U.S. nuclear industry. The original manufacturers have – either bankrupt or having sided with wind for profit – provided as minimal support as possible. And it’s hard to get good help when every engineering student has been pushed away.

    But they started a project with a budget of $14B? Really? There are reactors built for $4B that require subsidies to operate in the subsidized wind dominated (not by volume, but by price) markets . And yes, the delays and regulation is where the expenses go to magnify. Not. Economically. Close. To. Feasible. We’re looking for a better bullet because the gun is broken.

    • “And it’s hard to get good help when every engineering student has been pushed away.”

      No kidding. Engineers of any stripe do not graduate as competent people. They actually NEED experience and mentoring after graduation, none of which is available to them if you stop operating facilities . This doesn’t just apply to the nuclear field, but any manufacturing or technical arena. ( ie. electronics).

      The people who argue against nuclear, are falling prey to the ‘American disease’ which is to be inward looking to the USA only. So go ahead and ban all nukes.
      The nuclear industry will not be folding up shop everywhere else on the planet.

      Look at this page from World Nuclear Association website to see the current nuclear power construction projects by country. Nuclear isnt going away at all, except in ‘green’ western countries.

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/plans-for-new-reactors-worldwide.aspx

  21. Perhaps …….when the Chinese have FINISHED buying Australia
    they will build “us” some Nuclear Reactors and just use “their coal”
    for smelting ?

  22. My last job before retiring was at the Tiashan Nuclear plant.

    Some fundamentals. Just down the road was a 5000 MWe coal plant fueled with imported coal. China is dependent on the US Navy to keep the sea lanes open. China is build nuke plants to reduce coal imports.

    Second, nuke plants benefit from economy of scale. This reactor is 1600+ MWe for each unit. Visualize two- 100 car coal trains per day not needed.

    The EPR is designed to last practically forever. It has a large equipment hatch. Even the reactor vessel can be replaced. It is a standard design. Assuming the first two units operated as expected, the Chinese will add 6 more at the site.

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