As Germany’s Green Dream Becomes A Nightmare, Asia And Russia Power Ahead With Nuclear Power

By P Gosselin on 13. February 2022

Asia goes nuclear while Europe goes bust

By Fred F. Mueller

During the past few decades, a quiet but all the more important divergence has begun to evolve between Asia und Europe: their respective attitudes towards climate change and nuclear energy. In their crusade against what they perceive as a looming climate catastrophe, most European nations are focusing on reducing carbon emissions. Among them, Germany has taken the lead. Its first step was to scrap its fleet of nuclear power stations. Moreover, coal-fired plants are being decommissioned  one after another even before the nuclear decommissioning is completed. The ultimate goal is a net zero society exclusively powered by renewables, mainly solar and wind.

It’s a green’s dream that is slowly morphing into a nightmare for ordinary people.

Asian countries barrel ahead with nuclear power

In stark contrast, the far more pragmatic Asian countries have preferred instead to pay lip service and care about their people. Instead of fatally crippling their energy infrastructure, they are increasingly opting for nuclear power.

Clear leader Russia takes the lead

More and more nations have already installed or are on the brink of installing nuclear power stations. In this field, Russia has clearly taken the lead, followed by China, South Korea and Japan. These four nations have mastered and developed native nuclear technologies of their own and are now exporting them. Among them, two behemoths stand out: Russia as the clear world leader in the field of exporting nuclear power generating plants, and China, a rather new kid on the block but with a high potential to quickly evolve as another key player in this field.

Figure 1. Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov is the first floating nuclear power plant. It is equipped with two small modular reactors of 40 MW (Photo: Elena Dider 1)Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)


With respect to nuclear high-tech, Russia has three decisive advantages: it does not fall for the CO2 climate hoax of the big cats in the US financial industry 2), and as one of the earliest and biggest player in the field of nuclear power and arms technology, it has a large nuclear industry. This industry masters all stages of the nuclear cycle such as mining, enrichment und fuel processing, engineering, machine building and power generation equipment through to nuclear services, maintenance, fuel reprocessing and a closed fuel cycle.

Another aspect is that the vast nation has an incredible wealth of mineral and natural resources of all types, including some of the world’s largest reserves of fossil fuels. Russia is thus a first-tier energy and resources giant, and it has systematically used these advantages to carve out a leading role when it comes to energy exports including the export of nuclear power installations.

Russia’s energy riches and technological prowess

Let’s first look at Russia’s energy assets as detailed in an International Atomic Energy Associaton (IAEA) report3) updated to 2021:

Figure 2. Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) in the Russian Federation. In total, 38 reactors with an installed capacity of 30.3 GW are operated at 11 NPPs in the Russian Federation (Graphic: IAEA 3)

Currently Russia is operating 38 reactors at 11 nuclear power plants contributing 20.7% to the production of electric power. The biggest contributor is natural gas, but the country would rather prefer to sell it abroad, where it fetches much higher prices. The latest Federal Target Programme thus envisages a 25–30% nuclear share in electricity supply by 2030, 45–50% by 2050 and 70–80% by the end of the century.

The reactors in service range from older soviet-era models through state of the art Gen. III models and to advanced designs such as fast reactors e.g. the BN 600-800-1200 series. A next generation of fast models cooled by sodium and lead-bismuth is already on the drawing boards.

The list is complemented by small modular reactors such as those in the floating power plant “Akademik Lomonosov”. Design lifetime for new reactor models is generally 60 years. Ample supply of well-trained human resources is secured by training centres and technical colleges with a yearly throughput of some 18,000 technicians and academics

Figure 3Former concept of the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant II with two VVER-1200/392M as AES-2006 (Graphic: Rosenergoatom, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license)

Impressive array of expertise, technologies and services

The country’s nuclear industry offers a level of skills, technologies and services hard to match by other countries. Prices are in the lower range.

In a survey assembled by the World Nuclear Association 4), domestic prices ranging from 2050-2450 US$/kW and a construction time of 54 months are mentioned. For the BN 1200 fast reactor, an energy price of 2.23 ct/kWh is given, while for export reactors of the VVER type, 50-60 US$ per MWh in most countries is indicated.

The Russian one-stop-shop, full service packages from cradle to grave are very attractive, especially for emerging and third world countries. Even take-back and disposal of spent nuclear fuel are taken care of. Risks are minimized since all design projects meet modern international requirements and IAEA recommendations.

Compare this to the deplorable state of the industry in the Western world, where the likes of Siemens, Areva or Westinghouse grapple with frightening delays and cost overruns. No wonder thus the State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) holds first place in terms of the number of simultaneously implemented nuclear reactor construction projects (35 units abroad at various implementation stages). In 2020, Rosatom’s package of foreign orders exceeded US$138 billion.

Figure 4. On January 1, 2022, the third Hualong One (HPR 1000) with a capacity of 1161 MW was connected to the grid as unit 6 of the Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant of China National Nuclear Corporation(CNNC) (Photo: CNNC) 

Emerging China

The prospective next best competitor will probably be China, though the country started much later and still has not the same wealth of experience and technology bandwidth. Notwithstanding these shortcomings, China has demonstrated astonishing prowess in its learning curve and has in the meantime developed and brought on stream a variety of modern reactor designs such as the Gen. III pressurized water reactor Hualong one. After receiving a first order from Pakistan, China has just succeeded at convincing Argentina to opt for this model too. And further interesting developments including the first commercially active high-temperature gas-cooled “pebble bed reactor” (PBR) nuclear power plant 5) as well as a small modular reactor are in the pipeline. Given the impressive track record of Chinese machinery and construction work deliveries in many countries around the globe, they will probably soon gain a solid foothold in this field.

Figure 5. Contrast program: In its quest to save the world from CO2, Germany is shutting down its last nuclear reactors and intends to erect many thousand wind energy plants instead (Photo: Gudrun Ponta)

Massive market on a world-wide scale

Western countries, including the US, will find out that their policy of obstructing the natural resources sector, including the fossil fuel industry, with their “leave it in the ground” policy is backfiring seriously.

In order to boost their economy, create jobs and feed their growing population, third world and developing countries desperately need cheap, reliable energy supplies. The “net zero” campaign strangling fossil fuel producers by cutting their financing off has led to dramatic increases of energy and raw material prices. The current level will probably not ease away in the near future, forcing politicians worldwide to rework their energy supply strategies.

Bright nuclear future

“Renewable” sources such as solar and wind are no alternative for countries in need of reliable und steady supplies. The consequence will be a boom in demand for nuclear energy. And thanks to the Greens and Gretas of our times, Russia and China are in an ideal position to reap these fruits. Demand will be so massive that only countries with a big, well-oiled industry base, sufficient financing power and a well-organized supply of human resources will be able to fully participate when demand will overwhelm smaller suppliers.

For people not believing in this scenario, a look at France might be enlightening. Despite already having 56 nuclear power plants, president Macron has just decided to order the construction of up to 14 additional ones. With some 65 million inhabitants, the country counts for slightly less than one percent of the world’s population. Scaling this figure up on a world-wide scale delivers a market potential of possibly 1,500 nuclear power plants over the next 28 years.

Figure 6. After a long decline, the relative share prices of a bundled selection of Canadian uranium mining companies have suddenly taken off since March 2020 (Graphic: Private)

Smart money shifting to uranium miners?

In view of these developments and factoring in the current political tensions around Russia and Ukraine, one might wonder why Russia should be impressed by sanctions directed at its gas pipelines to Europe such as North Stream 2. While there are lots of competitors in the oil and gas market, no European country will be able to match the clout of Russia and China in this emerging world-wide market. Russia could probably survive losing the German or even the whole European gas market and focus on selling nuclear technology, while on the other hand, Europe would suffer enormously.

The prospects of this emerging renaissance of nuclear power seem to have already attracted the attention of smart money investors growing tired of technology stocks such as Tesla or Facebook.

In this context, it is interesting to note that the combined relative valuation of a bundle of Canadian uranium mining stocks has, shown a marked upward trend since March/ April 2020, after an initial long-term decline, see Figure 6.

Fred F. Mueller



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February 14, 2022 6:11 am

“The Americans can always be relied upon to do the right thing….
…after they have exhausted every other alternative…”

Sir Winston Churchill.

Sadly I suspect the Germans will take longer.

We can do little but repeat the message tirelessly.

Nuclear power is not an alternative to fossil fuels…

…It is the only alternative to fossil fuels.

Reply to  Leo Smith
February 14, 2022 6:28 am

Not that we need alternatives to fossil fuels.

Reply to  MarkW
February 14, 2022 7:17 am

USA has enough fossil for a while, but Europe is pretty much out of nearly all the oil and gas and the coal is pretty flaky.

Ther is a world beyond the USA…

Reply to  Leo Smith
February 14, 2022 7:49 am

No, Leo, GB has enough coal to last for several hundred years and more offshore oil and gas is being discovered all the time. We just aren’t allowed to use it, or not at the moment anyway.

Reply to  Oldseadog
February 14, 2022 9:14 am

We didn’t stop mining coal because we were forced to. We stopped because it was cheaper to import foreign coal.

Reply to  Alba
February 14, 2022 9:48 am

You are right, Alba, but I was responding to the comment that “coal is pretty flaky.” We still have lots of it that we can use if necessary, but the political will to start it again is not there at present.

Rich Lentz
Reply to  Oldseadog
February 14, 2022 10:33 am

The main reason Utilities are not building coal plants in the US is that the PHONY EPA COAL PLANT ELEMINATION REGULATIONS have made their construction and operation to expensive. The US EPA P2.5 Regulations required that the P2.5 emission’s to be LESS than that of the local environment. Thus the Coal plant was a giant HEPA filter. Input air around the plant was at 10, Emissions had to be at 2.5. DUMB Then, they forced plants that had “Grandfathered” EPA approvals to Build the filters or shutdown. ILLEGAL – but the court fights were more than the utilities could afford.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Rich Lentz
February 16, 2022 5:12 am

Junk Science’s Steve Milloy has a significant history of this issue. I would encourage all to view his content. www,

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Oldseadog
February 16, 2022 5:07 am

According to CNBC this week major banks have loaned $1.2 trillion
since Obama tried to destroyed them. If the political will is not there than the money still is.

Reply to  Alba
February 14, 2022 11:35 am

Cheaper to import because of ridiculous union contracts.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Alba
February 14, 2022 11:37 am

Maybe the cost to mine coal in GB could be lowered with modernization and no unions? Even if still more expensive, it would be a strategic decision to use SOME coal for electric power.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 14, 2022 12:39 pm

Coal mining fell apart in the UK not because of the unions but Nimby- ie. open cast being the only sensible way to do it resisted by the land owning classes.

Reply to  pigs_in_space
February 14, 2022 5:25 pm

No, it fell apart because it was insanely expensive and could not be subsidised any more. Did the UK want a health service, or coal mines?

Reply to  Oldseadog
February 14, 2022 5:23 pm

You are making a very serious mistake in thinking that resources are economic. Or maybe you think that the UK can survive on hundreds of thousands of tonnes per annum?

The UK currently has 33Mt of reserves. There are 344Mt contained within projects at various stages of planning.

Resources stand at nearly 4Bt. Note that resources do not have to be economic.

I have worked almost my entire career in the coal industry and mines do have significant impacts on neighbours. Large amounts of water are consumed in washing coal. Dust is always a serious issue. Likewise noise.

Underground mines are higher cost and most of the shallower suitable seams have been worked. Very deep mining is difficult and much more expensive. Underground mining also results in very poor overall recoveries of coal, with seams above and below being impacted.

Surface mining typically will recover seams down to 30cm and so get much higher recovery of coal in the ground, but with much larger environmental impacts. The costs of buying up impacted land can place huge financial hurdles on surface mines, given you will be required to pay many multiples of what the land is actually worth. Unless you buy land in the decades before you actually plan on mining. The major coal mining companies in NSW Australia are mostly the largest private landholders in the state.

Reply to  Leo Smith
February 14, 2022 8:04 am

Ever heard of NordStream 2? Even Biden did.

Reply to  Leo Smith
February 14, 2022 8:36 am

Even if you don’t have your own fossil fuels, there is still no reason to deliberately abandon fossil fuels.

BTW, I just love how you naturally assume that in this case I was speaking from a US centric position.
Is jumping to conclusions a natural for you?

Reply to  MarkW
February 14, 2022 8:47 am

When I was in college over 50 years ago and long before political correctness was invented, I read that at the current rate of usage the United States had at least a 500 year supply of coal in the ground. Assuming that the coal hasn’t suddenly just disappeared from the ground it seems to me that we would crazy not to use it as a cheap energy source.

Bryan A
Reply to  Marty
February 14, 2022 9:49 am

Crazy isn’t a requirement for not using cheap energy sources just leaning left…
Oh, wait…

Reply to  Marty
February 14, 2022 11:18 am

My understanding is that coal has lost market share in the USA because it has been undercut by cheaper natural gas (and a natural gas industry that has been happy to support the “climate change” fr*ud’s attack on coal – a dumb strategy because if coal goes under, they are next). When the easiest gas has been burned, coal may well come back.

Reply to  Marty
February 14, 2022 11:39 am

And in association with a nuclear reactor heat output, coal can be gasified and delivered across the US through an existing network of pipelines.

Build the SMR near coal mines and as fracking and drilling output fades, some 10s of years in the future, coal gasification will pick up the slack.

Reply to  MarkW
February 14, 2022 9:57 am

You’re right. Since CO2 is actually beneficial, there is no reason not to use the lowest cost energy source available, whatever that is, as we did before the green religion corrupted environmental science.

Reply to  MarkW
February 14, 2022 11:12 am

True. But as a Saudi(?) oil minister said decades ago, oil is far too valuable to just burn it. It would make a huge amount of sense to build up nuclear energy so that oil and gas can be used much more for material products (plastics etc).

jeffery p
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 14, 2022 6:42 am

Close, but no cigar. There are no viable alternatives to fossil fuels. There are limits on the raw materials needed to replace fossil fuel powered ICE with electric vehicles.

Reply to  jeffery p
February 14, 2022 7:15 am

Actually if the price of nuclear power is low enough, synthetic fuels are a proper alternative to fossil fuels. The $64,000 question is in that ‘If’

Last edited 1 year ago by Leo Smith
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 14, 2022 11:41 am

Yes Leo, build the nukes next to coal mines and you can make most liquid hydrocarbons you need from coal.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Drake
February 14, 2022 2:43 pm

As you can likewise do with biomass.

Why should we switch irrationally to a fleet of all electric vehicles with the impact that has on the grid and on demand for lithium and cobalt and copper, etc.? We could continue using liquid fuels and their existing infrastructure, without tearing up the earth building non-sustainable windmills and solar panels.

Wind and solar will never be viable because it’s too expensive to store electricity. They will always be too intermittent, but biomss is like a big battery storing solar energy whenever it is available. Combine that with high temperature process heat from molten salt reactors and we should be able to continue with a hydrocarbon economy indefinitely or at least until the uranium and thorium run out.

In principle this would be “carbon-neutral” if we grow as much biomass annually as we convert to fuels. I’m not advocating this, but as an expensive alternative it is still a lot less insane that what is being proposed.

jeffery p
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 14, 2022 7:01 am

Don’t look to the US until we have a regime change (through elections). The far-left now controls the Democrats and the Democrats are currently the party in power.

The Republicans will likely control the legislative branch after the 2022 elections. The presidential election isn’t until 2024. The best we can get in the years in-between is gridlock. Given what the progressives have done to the US in less than 2 years, gridlock ain’t so bad.

If the Republicans gain power, they might not be much better. The party establishment also thinks fighting climate change is a winning issue. Conservative, America-first Republicans must prevail for real changes to happen regarding energy policy.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  jeffery p
February 14, 2022 7:56 am

I don’t know how many Washington DC, Republican politicians believe the idea that CO2 is a potential danger and needs to be regulated, but however many there are, they all need to have a little talk with Dr. Happer, before they go any farther down that road.

I’m happy to say one of my Senators, Senator Inhofe, Republican, Oklahoma, has led the climate change skeptic charge in Washington DC for many years.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Tom Abbott
February 14, 2022 11:42 am

I wonder if he or his staff read this blog?

Reply to  jeffery p
February 14, 2022 9:02 am

One of the problems we face is that a lot of the Republicans are RINO’s. That is they are Republican in name only. These RINO’s are ambitious politicians from deep red states who can’t get elected from their states as Democrats and so to advance their careers they pretend to be conservative in order to get elected. But once in office they begin to act like liberals.

For example take the EPA. The Clean Air Act should have been amended years ago to make it clear that the Act doesn’t cover carbon dioxide. For that matter the EPA probably should have been abolished altogether. But it just never happened.

Or for example, take Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court nominated by President George W. Bush. He is voting like a liberal. To get the life-time job he pretended to be a conservative.

If we are ever going to stop the craziness going on our government we need real conservatives, not RINO’s.

Reply to  Marty
February 14, 2022 11:14 am

But once in office they begin to act like liberals leftists.

Yet the people in those states keep sending them back for some reason…

Reply to  TonyG
February 14, 2022 3:22 pm

The problem is that once a politician builds up a little bit of seniority, they start to gather more power, which enables them to increase the share of the ill-gotten tax pie that is sent back to their constituents.
Replacing a crook means you lose that seniority and the number of goodies sent your way decreases.

Reply to  MarkW
February 14, 2022 3:36 pm

What was that Franklin said about people “voting themselves money”?

Reply to  Marty
February 14, 2022 1:55 pm

We need them to behave like honorable citizens, like statesmen.

Reply to  Marty
February 14, 2022 3:28 pm

He is doing exactly what he was chosen to do, vote like a Catholic. We have non-Protestants on the court interpreting a Protestant written document. Protestants have no hierarchy, no holy land or holy city. Catholics and Jews have hierarchies, and holy lands or holy cities. A hierarchical religion really does affect how one thinks of government, whether that thinking is conscious or not.

Ron Long
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 14, 2022 7:10 am

The follow-up comments to Leo are correct, but Germany has another agenda also. The Chancillor (?) of Germany, Sholz, recently refused, in a conversation regarding Russis invading Ukraine, to join the sanction Russias Nordstream 2 pipeline project, suggesting that Germany also is keeping an eye of gas availability. Go Nuclear!

Reply to  Ron Long
February 14, 2022 8:03 am

And Biden blurted out before camera’s and Scholz that he personally will stop NordStream 2. Biden, the new King of Germany.

Reply to  bonbon
February 14, 2022 11:45 am

A couple of well placed explosives will stop any pipeline, at least temporarily.

The US military is pretty good at placing explosives where they want them.

Act of war, probably, but the military industrial complex needs a new war to test out their new, secret, stuff.

Reply to  Drake
February 15, 2022 1:58 am

They outsource that stuff to ISIS et. al. Just look at Syria!

Reply to  bonbon
February 14, 2022 3:32 pm

The US can not stop Russia or China from building pipelines or silk roads. If Russia wants to flood Europe with gas there is nothing the US can do about it other than threaten its European “allies.”

Nick Schroeder
February 14, 2022 6:16 am

The Earth is cooler with the atmosphere/GHGs/albedo not warmer.
Is this correct or incorrect?

To perform as advertised the GHGs require “extra” energy upwelling from the terrestrial surface radiating LWIR as a black body. See these graphics which contain egregious arithmetic and thermodynamic errors:
Is this correct or incorrect?

As explained and demonstrated by experiment the terrestrial surface cannot radiate/upwell “extra” energy as a black body. For the experimental write up see:
“The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific “truth.””
Richard P. Feynman, “Six Easy Pieces”
Is this correct or incorrect?

If even one of the above three points is correct the greenhouse effect theory is not.
No GHE, no GHG warming, no mankind/CO2 driven climate change or global warming.

Yeah, I’m a pain, but am I wrong?
Stick to contents of post.

K-T Budget solar & calcd.jpg
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
February 14, 2022 6:28 am

Ingraham got banned for constantly spamming every thread with the same nonsense.

Reply to  Nick Schroeder
February 14, 2022 8:28 am

Go back to playing your toy piano, Schroeder.

Reply to  Nick Schroeder
February 14, 2022 11:27 am

Earth has been warming over the last 300 years.
GHGs operate on all LW.
Measurements do show that a warmer Earth radiates more LW.

Reply to  Nick Schroeder
February 14, 2022 12:51 pm

The Earth is cooler with the atmosphere/GHGs/albedo not warmer.

Is this correct or incorrect?

As far as I can tell, it’s incorrect.

If the atmosphere did not interact with EM radiation, and if heat were somehow evenly distributed over the Earth’s surface, the temperature necessary to balance incoming and outgoing radiation would be 279K.

Since the hypothetical atmosphere couldn’t shed heat to outer space, the only mechanism for getting rid of heat would be radiation from the surface.

The above situation would produce the warmest average temperature given a clear atmosphere.

So, what about the opposite case with no heat distribution?

Let’s simplify the math by imagining a disk orbiting with one side facing the sun.

Case 1: With perfect heat distribution. We’ll place it in orbit such that its surface temperature is 279 K on both sides. It will radiate equally on both sides.

Case 2: With no heat distribution. All the radiation will be from the sunward side. The other side will be 0 Kelvin. Using SB, the temperature of the sunward side will be 332 K. Thus the average temperature will be 166 K.

So, depending on how heat is distributed, the Earth’s temperature averaged globally will be somewhere between 166 K and 279 K. Given that the real Earth has a higher average temperature, the most parsimonious explanation is that the atmosphere (including clouds) interacts with outgoing radiation.

February 14, 2022 6:23 am

Eleven of the 38 Russian nuclear power stations are of the RBMK type. These are the same as the reactor that self-destructed at Chernobyl. Not sure I would want to live near one.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  DHR
February 14, 2022 6:36 am

The Chernobyl disaster was caused by a design fault which became critical when operators deviated from the prescribed procedures. The design fault has been fixed in the other reactors of similar design.

Flash Chemtrail
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
February 14, 2022 6:46 am

What design flaw? Using graphite as a moderator?

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Flash Chemtrail
February 14, 2022 10:59 am

The flaw was in the fail safe mechanism, ironically. When the operators realised the reactor was out of control due to their flaunting of procedure they pushed the red button to force a shutdown. Unfortunately before the rods would have gone in, the cladding at their tips would act as a mirror for the neutrons thus making the whole system supercritical. Although this should have lasted only a fraction of a second, it was enough to trigger a flashover followed by a massive steam explosion blowing up the reactor and its containment building.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
February 14, 2022 7:02 am

A design fault which presumably 11 current power plants share?

Reply to  griff
February 14, 2022 7:42 am

up to a point, yes, but its no worse than having say and aircraft which, if you fly it too slow too near the ground will stall and crash. You simply don’t fly it that way.
The RBMK are not up to modern standards and no more are being built. Later ones are better as I recall.

Reactions to the chernobyl accident have been 1000 times worse than the accident iself

Reply to  griff
February 14, 2022 12:55 pm

Griff talking more bollox as usual.
Never been to Russia, always talking complete crap about anything to do with nuclear!

Ever heard of Ignalina??
It was shut down thanks to eco-loonies from the EU.
Never had a single problem.
The NPP manager was mystified by the perfect example of self-harm.

Reply to  pigs_in_space
February 14, 2022 3:09 pm

Actually the RBMK is an obsolete design for a principal purpose no longer necessary. The RBMK was designed and intended to produce plutonium for the Soviet strategic weapons program. It is a graphite pile reactor and rather inefficient at power production. All western nations abandoned or are discontinuing graphite reactor cores regardless of their original purpose except in the case of the AGRs in Britain. And they cannot be life extended, so they too will all close before the end of this decade.

alastair gray
Reply to  DHR
February 14, 2022 6:45 am

Chernobyl was the consequence of gross human error. No machine is immune from wanton stupidity but with enough education it can be minimised or eliminated

Reply to  alastair gray
February 14, 2022 11:47 am

So was 3 Mile Island.

Reply to  alastair gray
February 14, 2022 3:11 pm

Mostly wrong, Alastair. RBMKs were designed with a defective shutdown system that injected positive reactivity into the core under specific operating conditions. The operators had no knowledge of the deficiencies of the shutdown system.

Reply to  alastair gray
February 14, 2022 5:37 pm

It was a combination of inherent fatal design flaws and negligent operations. The design of the reactor was fail to disaster, not fail to safe. It had a positive void co-efficient, meaning it was vulnerable to any loss of water.

You can never eliminate risk through education. Relying on humans to operate in a specific manner to reduce risk is ranked and the second worst way of controlling risk.

Eliminating risk requires the process to be re-engineered, or a substitute found.

Reply to  DHR
February 14, 2022 7:03 am

Why not? Chernobyl was a cock-up by technicians “experimenting” while the experts were on leave. So it’s not quite fair to call it “self-destruction”.

In addition that was at the end of the Soviet era. As the article makes clear, modern Russia is very different.

Also, the RBMK design is very old now and will be replaced very soon.

Last edited 1 year ago by Disputin
Reply to  Disputin
February 14, 2022 8:44 am

From the reports I’ve read, the “experiment” was a test that they were supposed to have performed prior to going live. The managers lied and declared they had done the test so they could get their bonuses for starting up on time.
The test was supposed to have been run during the day, when the first, most experienced, shift was on duty. But due to issues in another plant (in Poland if memory serves) the test was delayed and ended up being run during the middle of the night when the least experienced shift was in charge. The set-up was botched and their reactions to the ensuing problems were wrong. If I remember correctly, the control rods were pulled out too far, and they waited too long to try and re-insert them. Also, because of the design of the control rod assembly, it took several minutes to re-insert them, by that time the reactor had heated up, shrinking the diameter of the insertion channels and binding the control rods so they could no longer be inserted at all.

Reply to  MarkW
February 14, 2022 3:14 pm

Mostly wrong. The power surge was created by insertion of the shutdown rods. The time interval from insertion of the shutdown rods to power surge to 100 times reactor max thermal power was about 8 seconds.

Reply to  cgh
February 14, 2022 6:46 pm

Reactor was already totally out of control before they activated the emergency control rods.

Reply to  MarkW
February 14, 2022 6:34 pm

Not really.

The test was required to be done as part of the commissioning of the reactor, but was delayed until about 3 years after reactor 4 had begun operation.

The planned test was delayed by very high electricity demand just prior to May Day annual targets. The test was delayed so targets could be met.

The operator in charge of operation the Unit 4 reactor had only been in the job for approximately 4 months. The size of RBMK reactors meant that knowing what was actually happening in the reactor was difficult and hence operation was done based on intuition alongside actual measurements.

The Soviet system of treating the reactors as state secrets meant that zero information was passed around the industry to learn from the many incidents which had happened. Such was the secrecy that an accident in one of the other units at Chernobyl was not communicated to the other units in the plant.

RBMK reactors were notoriously unstable at low power levels and the test was required to be done at 720MW power levels. The deputy director of the plant decreed that it be done at 200MW.

At low power levels Xenon poisoning of the reactor is also an issue which makes maintaining power levels difficult. Xenon is a fantastic gobbler of neutrons.

As reactor power was reduced, the operators tried for several hours to stabilise power levels. Output fell to 30MW as Xenon poisoning took over. They attempted to lift reactor output the nominated 200MW by removing boron control rods (also gobblers of neutrons).

The minimum number of control rods required in the reactor was 30.

At 1:19 there were only 6 or 7 control rods in the reactor.

The reactor was now cocked and ready to explode. The control rods needed 20 seconds to be inserted into the reactor.

The coolant water in the reactor also provided some absorption of neutrons.

Triggering the rundown test reduced water cooling and water turned to steam, absorbing less neutrons, increasing the power of the reactor, creating more steam and creating more power. The fatal design flaw, positive void, took over.

At 1:21 the top of the reactor was seen to be “jumping”.

At 1:21:50 pressure was lost in the steam drums, indicating leaks in the coolant system.

At 1:23:40 the emergency control rod system was activated (it is considered that this would have achieved nothing even if the rods were able to be fully inserted). The graphite tipped control rods only added to the moderation of the already out of control reactor. Due to the damage to the reactor channels the control rods jammed at 2 to 2.5m insertion.

At 1:23:44 the power of the reactor had increased to 120 times the reactors rated capacity. The resulting steam pressure explosion lifted the containment lid of the reactor, allowing air to come into contact with the fuel rods, creating hydrogen.

At 1:23:45 a hydrogen explosion completed the destruction of reactor 4.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dean
Reply to  Dean
February 16, 2022 2:26 am

RBMK reactors were notoriously unstable at low power levels

All reactors are unstable at low levels due to the issue of xenon poisoning for which the RBMK makers are not responsible.

The RBMK reactor type has amassed thousands of safe operation years, so instinctively saying its bad because its Russian is unfair. Yes it used graphite moderation and yes this was because of the yield of fissiles for military use. This is the best moderator but also allows runaway heating and water coolant loss as happened in Chernobyl.

But if you want an example of a truly bad reactor you need to look at Britain’s Winscale in the 1950’s, although that was a one-off made in stressed circumstances.

Reply to  DHR
February 14, 2022 7:04 am

Not forget that there was an earthquake involved. It never was openly discussed but was documentated.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 14, 2022 11:02 am

And also a tsunami, of course ….

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
February 14, 2022 2:32 pm

That’s what “we” fear in Germany 😀

Reply to  DHR
February 14, 2022 7:45 am

Britain’s Windscale cought fire, graphite, in 1957, same reason . Safety systems were turned off to drive the reactor faster. Likely Plutonium production was the overriding objective.
Anyway Ukraine got immediate help – Britain had stockpiles and had been there done that….
Nice of Britain to inform France only 30 years later that Normandy was in the Polonium plume…

France has ordered a study to extend its reactor’s lifespan to 50 years. Russia is for sure doing the same thing.

John K. Sutherland
Reply to  bonbon
February 14, 2022 8:17 am

Partially correct. At Windscale, they were deliberately heating the graphite to correct a lattice defect in the graphite (the Wigner effect) when it caught fire.

Reply to  DHR
February 14, 2022 8:50 am

Now 10. There used to be 17, but 7 have been shut down. All the remaining reactors have been modified to be much safer than Chernobyl (higher enrichment, revised control rod design, etc.) but their inherent design (graphite moderated and no robust containment structure) makes them less safe than modern western reactors.

By the way, there are still dozens of GE Mark I boiling water reactors ( Fukushima type) operating in the US. Those reactors also don’t have a containment structure. While they are safer than an RBMK, they are nowhere near as safe as other modern reactors and should be candidates for replacement.

Reply to  Meab
February 14, 2022 9:54 am

They are completely safe as long as they aren’t hit by a 30′ high tsunami.

Reply to  MarkW
February 14, 2022 11:51 am

It was putting the backup generators in the basement that caused the failure. If they had built them on the hills above the reactor, there never would have been a failure.

Newer designs will not need big power to shut themselves down.

Reply to  Drake
February 14, 2022 12:45 pm

They put the backup generators in the reactor building for earthquake protection. Not a bad idea but, in retrospect, they should have had a second set uphill. That way they could have survived an earthquake or a tsunami.

Reply to  Drake
February 14, 2022 3:17 pm

If the Fukushima seawall had been built to meet the standards required by the risk analysis, it would have been two metres higher and no one would ever have heard of the place. Daichi’s reactors were all on their last operating fuel cycle anyway before shutdown and decommissioning.

Reply to  MarkW
February 14, 2022 12:51 pm

Nothing is completely safe. The flaw in the Mark I design is an undersized suppression toroid – a flaw that was fixed in the Mark II – just one of many upgrades. If Fukushima had been a Mark II, it would have still melted down but the radioactive releases would have been far less.

Reply to  DHR
February 14, 2022 5:12 pm

For sure I would not want to live near any of the Russian nuclear power stations. That would involve living in Russia after all. 🙂

Tom Halla
February 14, 2022 6:40 am

Ehrlich’s comment that having a cheap unlimited source of power would be like giving an idiot child a machine gun was at an antinuclear protest.

February 14, 2022 7:02 am

what exactly is the problem in Germany from renewables?

and do note:

Germany will lower its renewable electricity surcharge to the lowest point ever in 2022 amid signs that the next government may be preparing to abolish the tax entirely.

The renewable electricity surcharge, introduced under the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), “will go from 6.5 to 3.7 cents per kWh starting 1 January,” said Peter Altmaier, the country’s caretaker minister of economy and energy.

“That’s a decrease of almost 43%,” Altmaier told journalists on Friday (15 October, 2021)’.

Reply to  griff
February 14, 2022 7:45 am

The problem is simple Griff. Germany’s electricity is three times the price of France and Germany is the highest emitter of CO2 by country, per capita and per MWh generated, in Europe.
In short Energiewende has trebled electricity prices and increased CO2 emissions.
No doubt you consider that a laudable result.

Last edited 1 year ago by Leo Smith
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 14, 2022 8:18 am

france has problem with their reactors. they have maxed out the 2gw link importing from from uk to france and regularly imports 6-8 GW from germany and 2 gw from spain!

Reply to  ghalfrunt
February 14, 2022 11:55 am

Thanks for not providing the WHEN of the importing of power as you have noted.

WHEN?? The sun is shining and the wind is blowing??

And are they getting PAID to take the excess load off of the German and Spain grids???

Inquiring minds want to know.

Reply to  ghalfrunt
February 14, 2022 5:42 pm

UK was the 2nd biggest importer of energy in 2021 after Italy but apparently it is supplying France who is the biggest exporter in europe in 2021.

All readily available data

France and UK did reverse their inter-connector for a brief periods in November and December.

So your statement is at best misleading at worst deliberate deceit.

Reply to  griff
February 14, 2022 7:49 am

Well, instead of dropping energy prices for voters, they rocketed skyward. No matter what they try it ricochets green bills!

What do you think of my post above about Greenpeace?

Last edited 1 year ago by bonbon
Reply to  griff
February 14, 2022 8:12 am

The problem is that weak minded leaders fell for a massive scientific fraud and leveraged an imaginary problem unambiguously precluded by legitimate science into a political ideology.

You would think that the Germans should know better than to do this again.

Reply to  griff
February 14, 2022 8:46 am

Decreasing the subsidy renewable energy from insane to merely stupid is proof that renewable energy is the wave of the future.

Reply to  griff
February 14, 2022 11:43 am

what exactly is the problem in Germany from renewables?

As Leo Smith points out, the price of Germany’s outdated 1970’s antinuclear greenism is to be among the highest per capita CO2 emitters in the world.

So what you are really asking is,

“What exactly is the problem with CO2?”

And it’s a good question of course.

Reply to  griff
February 14, 2022 12:59 pm

The simple fact Griff, is you can’t generate solar power with moonlight or on bad weather days.
Being as you have never set foot in Germany, you wouldn’t appear to know it’s a country invaded by FOG for a lot of the winter.
When you have fog (nebel in German), you automatically have neither wind nor solar.

Is this an explanation your thick head can actually understand?

Reply to  griff
February 14, 2022 2:35 pm

Can’t find these 43% less on my invoice, continue dreaming ! 😀

John K. Sutherland
February 14, 2022 7:04 am

Europe and too many other relatively wealthy countries with green dreams and a lack of technological understanding (in their politics), have been persuaded to believe that the way forward can be achieved by BANNING something (fossil fuels, and nuclear… in the case of Germany) while going out on a limb with ineffective ‘unreliables’ (wind and solar).

Other countries, much more well-informed and enlightened, know that the way forward is achieved by first CONSTRUCTING something (alternatives that work, like Nuclear Power), as with Russia, India, China, Japan… and the ‘new’, France, while using Fossil fuels as a bridge. The difference will be about 30 years of progress, as opposed to stagnation, and thousands if not millions of winter deaths because of energy unavailability and affordability.

michael hart
Reply to  John K. Sutherland
February 14, 2022 4:24 pm

My thoughts entirely, John.
Back in the 80’s recession in the UK there was a saying “You can’t buy Japanese cars with British haircuts”.

Later on, and into the 90’s (and still today) there were too many people who thought we could all get better off by selling and re-selling the same houses to each other at ever inflating prices, not by actually building new and better houses.

February 14, 2022 7:45 am

The French will supply nuclear power to the anti-nuclear Germans and Norway will supply gas and gas-power electricity to the Brits. The Brits will supply excess power randomly to the Continent and China will supply all goods by rail to Europe via Russia. It will only take five more tax hikes on carbon to power the great money wheel.

February 14, 2022 7:50 am

Interesting piece in the FT about fertilizer. The Eu is now reliant on Russia for fertilizer. Moreover the EU companies that handle this are increasingly dependent on Russian gas. There seems to be collective madness in Europe. Maybe not , France, who will be continuing with Nuclear.

Reply to  richard
February 14, 2022 1:23 pm

This site is dependent on posters like Griff for fertiliser…

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  pigs_in_space
February 14, 2022 9:33 pm

With output greater than Russia

Or is that “by” Russia as well?

February 14, 2022 7:59 am

As if the damage was not enough, German Foreign Minister Baerbock announced an American, Jennifer Morgan, for the newly created job of Special Climate Protection.

Ms. Morgan is Greenpeace International Head.

This is what in-sync really means. A G7 country with Greenpeace in government.
Just last week, before cameras and German Chancellor Scholz, Biden promised to stop NordStream 2.

Made in the USA.

February 14, 2022 8:20 am

Better get the EV cheat software in place.

February 14, 2022 8:50 am

most European nations are focusing on reducing carbon emissions. Among them, Germany has taken the lead. Its first step was to scrap its fleet of nuclear power stations. 

What does scrapping nuclear power have to do with reducing carbon emissions? Seems like it’s the opposite.

Gary Pearse
February 14, 2022 8:54 am

“Its first step was to scrap its fleet of nuclear power stations.”

There must be something in the German drinking water. Formerly, before shutting down something that works, a bankable feasibility study and piloting setup would have been done for its replacement. Skipping this step is madness.

What they have is the world’s largest failed pilot plant which they are trying to retrofit to try to make it work at any cost. German reputation as science/engineering giants is no more. They are victims of an abusive relationship with the greens and seem helpless to resist (except for that stalwart small minority that includes the likes of author Fred F. Mueller)

America has an ill president, but they “will be back”.

February 14, 2022 9:17 am

I worked on the South Carolina nuclear plant construction in South Carolina that was cancelled as budgets and schedules ballooned out of control. The sister project in Georgia has continued (with increased costs and delays) but they have deeper pockets.

One of the major problems we had was getting enough qualified nuclear workers. The long term stagnation in the industry discouraged new entries into the workforce, leaving a depleted workforce overwhelmingly much older. They also had a high injury rate. Many of the younger workers recruited could not pass the drug/alcohol screening or didn’t want to put up with the strict nuclear requirements. We were constantly competing with the Georgia project for the same workers. And this was only for the construction of four reactors at a time. No private firm in their right mind would consider building a large nuclear reactor in the US for at least a generation.

The only way I see for significant nuclear additions in the US is the deployment of small modular reactors made on an assembly line basis like aircraft and shipped to the site with minimal skilled labor requirements. We will also have to relax the siting requirements to allow such reactors to be located in higher population density areas.

February 14, 2022 9:34 am

Call me a conspiracy theorist. First demonize nuclear energy for being dangerous despite it causing less deaths than fossil fuels. Then manufacture the narrative that fossil fuels are deadly and must be banned, but only target West/industrial nations for scorn. Next allow certain nations to be free of negative press for increasing their nuclear energy and allow them to not only play catch up but exceed and take over the industrial output of the demonized nations. What started as “wealth redistribution” has become “wealth flipping”.

Rich Lentz
February 14, 2022 10:19 am

When is the Western World going to wakeup and realize all of the experienced Nuclear Engineers and Constructors are in China?
In 2007 China contracted with Westinghouse to build four NPPs. Now China is the Leader in NPP design and construction. Number of students in US Colleges has declined steadily and China is taking over, By the time those in charge wake up they will discover that Wind and Solar was not the answer and it will take decades to catch up with China. China, like Russa, has been propagating misinformation, propaganda and funding Anti-Nuclear Activists, throughout the Western World condemning Nuclear Power. Meanwhile, they are building more and more NPPs.

william Johnston
February 14, 2022 11:02 am

“countries with a big well-oiled industry base…” Convince me that wasn’t an intentionally used phrase.

February 14, 2022 11:05 am

“a bundle of Canadian uranium mining stocks has, shown a marked upward trend since March/ April 2020”. I’m ahead on my (Australian) uranium shares, but further ahead on gas, and way ahead on coal. The market is very volatile, and there’s obviously a lot of nervousness about whether the greens still have clout. We go to a federal election in May, and the Liberals (that’s centre-right) are 10 percentage points behind Labor (centre-left) in the polls. Since the polls are normally about 10 percentage points out towards the left, the May election should be close. A win for the Libs in May should see a major surge in all three (U, gas, coal). I wish the Libs had the guts to state explicitly that they are dropping all notion of net-zero CO2 emissions and concentrating on providing cheap reliable energy. (I suspect that the reason is that the greens are too strong overseas and would be able to penalise Australia. I do feel that the greens’ grip overseas is waning, and Australia fully breaking ranks could be the trigger to bring them down. With the momentum clearly starting to shift, it’s an experiment worth trying, IMHO).

Peter Fraser
February 14, 2022 11:07 am

Why would you build a floating power plant except for self propulsion?

Rich Lentz
Reply to  Peter Fraser
February 14, 2022 12:21 pm

More than half of the Total price of building a NPP is Interest on the loan and Labor, interest being the largest. The longer it takes to build the plant the more the expenses grow. If built in half the time the total is 25% less. Worse, in the US regulations are changed and increase time to build and Interest payments. Keep in mind, it is sort of like building a new home while paying for the one you are living in and making the payment on the construction loan with you credit card, doubling the debt you are in. Training for “Operators” is another large cost. Identical plants can keep training costs down for the life of the plant.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Peter Fraser
February 14, 2022 9:28 pm

Maybe the same reason that they build floating fishing lodges on the ocean by BC
Not on land, different rules

Reply to  Peter Fraser
February 16, 2022 6:57 am

Perhaps because of the immediate presence of cooling water and no need for expensive cooling towers, lengths of cooling-water piping/tunnels, etc. Properly sited, relatively easy delivery of materials by barge.

Willem post
February 14, 2022 12:14 pm

In New England wind turbine mania, onshore and offshore, is alive and well.

However, Biden needs to pass his BBB bill, otherwise a lot of wind and solar will not get built.




Gregory Kelly
February 14, 2022 12:42 pm

Many years ago the Tennessee Valley Authority had the desire to build and operate 17 nuclear power units (they have 7 operating at the present time) and then along came an ignorant southerner need Jimmy Carter who said “we don’t need nuclear power we have natural resources”, so he appointed board members who basically killed the program from expanding from where it is now. It appears we never learn from our mistakes and just keep getting deeper and deeper into the quagmire of stupidity.

Reply to  Gregory Kelly
February 14, 2022 3:47 pm

Nixon nixxed the molten salt reactor we develped at Oak Ridge in the 1960’s.

February 14, 2022 1:00 pm

Fate awaiting Ukrainian people if Russia invades may be only but tragic way to bring the current west European governments to their senses that zero carbon and renewable energy would never bring expected economic prosperity.

Reply to  Vuk
February 15, 2022 5:42 am

The politicians are simply gas-lighting our populations on this (and so much else, of course!).

Martin Pinder
February 14, 2022 1:04 pm

The Russians & Chinese sensibly don’t listen to green activists. They send them all to dummies like Boris Johnson & Joe Biden who have no idea that they are being manipulated. Russia & China see the West’s dash for net zero, among other things, as a strategic vulnerability which they will exploit. The Chinese know that they do not have to go to war to beat the West & achieve world dominance.

February 14, 2022 2:37 pm

I watched a video “how green is nuclear” by DW, Germany’s cnn. It was an exhibition of self delusion and mindless antinuclear tribal groupthink.

First it is laughable how current acute energy inflation is attributed completely to the pandemic. The proximal cause is correctly attributed to dis-investment in fossil fuels, but this is falsely blamed on the pandemic only. The actual leading role in this disinvestment by deliberate climate activism is ignored/denied. Even as ecofascist websites such as Skeptical Science post articles boasting of the hundreds of billions of dollars of dis-investment from fossil industry achieved by Soros-the-Hut and other militant climate financial warlords.

It’s like a pet kitten or puppy refusing to acknowledge crapping on the carpet.

The program then continues as a procession of zombie 1970’s hippy greens intoning their mindless outdated litany of terrible dangers of the atom and that the weak nuclear force (behind radioactive decay) should be banned.

A thoroughly sad spectacle.

Reply to  Phil Salmon
February 14, 2022 4:43 pm

Götterdämmerung by a thousand cuts!

February 14, 2022 3:45 pm

China began testing its new molten salt thorium reactor last fall. The technology we developed at Oak Ridge in the 60’s.

February 14, 2022 3:54 pm

advanced designs such as fast reactors e.g. the BN 600-800-1200 series.

With this Beloyarsk series Russia succeeded to get Na-cooled 238U fast breeder reactors working where the US, U.K., Germany and France failed – and gave up decades ago.

Not sure the reason – something connected with metallurgy and welding (or not) pipe joints.

Pat from kerbob
February 14, 2022 9:23 pm

I bought into a nuclear ETF last year
Doing great

Get rid of Trudeau is at least a start

homer d
February 15, 2022 3:53 am

global warming isnt believed by those pushing it,it is just the scam that allows politicians with endless amounts of money they don’t have to account for to partner with people with products/technology that doesn’t work as claimed to cash in. It is a partnership of corrupt greedy people, and it has paid off big time. They won’t stop on their own. They will continue as long as they can, and then just walk away claiming they had good intentions. The ordinary people who aren’t in the club are just the farm animals to the greedy partnership.

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