The Big Idea--Small Town Nukes

Skull Pilot

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This article in a recent national geographic was one of the most interesting I've read in a long time regarding nuclear power.

The Big Idea - Small Town Nukes - National Geographic Magazine

Small Town Nukes
They'd be carbon free, relatively cheap, and according to the industry, inherently safe. An underground mini-nuke could power a village

"Small reactors can't address all the problems standing in the way of more nuclear investment, but they can address the biggest barriers—the economic ones," says Richard Lester, head of nuclear science and engineering at MIT. Building giant reactors, he points out, isn't the only way to achieve economies of scale; another way is to mass produce inexpensive mini-nukes. If they're designed as modules, a single unit might power a remote town or mine, while a dozen used in tandem could match the output of a traditional nuclear plant. In the developing world, small reactors would place less strain on fragile electrical grids. And the ability to start small and gradually add power modules could appeal to cash-strapped utilities everywhere

None of the new small reactors have been deployed yet. Some, like the one designed by NuScale Power, are light-water reactors that resemble ones long used on warships. Others are more novel. Toshiba and the Japanese Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry are working on a liquid-sodium-cooled "nuclear battery." Delivered partially assembled and installed underground, the reactor would generate ten megawatts for 30 years until it needed refueling. The isolated Alaska village of Galena is in discussions with Toshiba to become its first customer.

Besides costing less to build, some small reactors could be inherently safer, says Vladimir Kuznetsov of the International Atomic Energy Agency. NuScale's design requires no reactor cooling pumps, while Toshiba's pumps are electromagnetic, without moving parts; either approach diminishes the possibility of a disastrous failure. Chinese researchers, meanwhile, are developing a small reactor in which the nuclear reaction itself is self-limiting. In a dramatic 2004 demonstration, they turned off the cooling system; the reaction just burned itself out. With any of the new reactors, of course, there will still be radioactive waste to contend with.

There are 56 reactors under construction in the world today, 19 in China alone. But with energy demand soaring—and the threat of climate change looming—even that much construction will not greatly increase nuclear's share of the global electricity supply. Small reactors could help, Lester says. "The point is to scale up low-carbon energy sources rapidly. Nuclear has great potential to do this." If regulators go along, that is. In the U.S., officials say some designs may win certification within five years. More innovative ones may take longer. —Chris Carroll

Simple solutions to big problems.

Why is it that the government can't see past it's pie in the sky ultra-expensive so called green initiatives and do something that will actually work?
 
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Bad idea. The waste get's shipped where ?
By what method ?
Who is going to install them ? Halliburton ?

Quake rattles Chilean-U.S. uranium move - UPI.com
What you do not seem to understand because you blindly subscribe to the rampant misinformation regarding nuclear waste is that there really is very very little reactor fuel that cannot be recycled. But we here in the USA are so afraid of nuclear power that we have laws prohibiting the recycling of nuclear fuel.

There Is No Such Thing as Nuclear Waste - WSJ.com
Ninety-five percent of a spent fuel rod is plain old U-238, the nonfissionable variety that exists in granite tabletops, stone buildings and the coal burned in coal plants to generate electricity. Uranium-238 is 1% of the earth's crust. It could be put right back in the ground where it came from.

Of the remaining 5% of a rod, one-fifth is fissionable U-235 -- which can be recycled as fuel. Another one-fifth is plutonium, also recyclable as fuel. Much of the remaining three-fifths has important uses as medical and industrial isotopes. Forty percent of all medical diagnostic procedures in this country now involve some form of radioactive isotope, and nuclear medicine is a $4 billion business. Unfortunately, we must import all our tracer material from Canada, .....
What remains after all this material has been extracted from spent fuel rods are some isotopes for which no important uses have yet been found, but which can be stored for future retrieval. France, which completely reprocesses its recyclable material, stores all the unused remains -- from 30 years of generating 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy -- beneath the floor of a single room at La Hague.

The supposed problem of "nuclear waste" is entirely the result of a the decision in 1976 by President Gerald Ford to suspend reprocessing, which President Jimmy Carter made permanent in 1977.
We are operating under a delusion that is nearly 40 years old( probably older than you) and you are falling for it.

And did you read the article where it mentioned the new Toshiba "nuclear battery" would last 30 years (a longer life span than fuel rods in large reactors) before needing to be refueled? Certainly waste is not the issue you believe it to be.

I find it curious that people who want to look to the future and new technology ignore the advances in a proven, emission free power producing technology due to baseless fears that have been propagated for decades.
 
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Old Rocks

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Consider the past of the nuclear industry. First, when I was young, they were promising us power so cheap that it would not have to be metered. Second, they stated that it was absolutely safe, that there was no way that it could fail.

Nuclear turned out to be enormously expensive. And Three Mile Island was a very close thing. Most Americans have good reason to distrust anything this industry states.

I am not against the nuclear power, but the people that are pushing it had better come up with prices that are reasonable, as compared to other sources of power.
 
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Consider the past of the nuclear industry. First, when I was young, they were promising us power so cheap that it would not have to be metered. Second, they stated that it was absolutely safe, that there was no way that it could fail.

Nuclear turned out to be enormously expensive. And Three Mile Island was a very close thing. Most Americans have good reason to distrust anything this industry states.

I am not against the nuclear power, but the people that are pushing it had better come up with prices that are reasonable, as compared to other sources of power.
So now price is an issue with you?

Small nukes like the ones in the article would provide more reliable power than the acres of windmills and solar panels you seem to support and wouldn't clutter the landscape as they can be buried underground.

And the endless referrals to TMI are getting tedious. These new reactors have as much in common with TMI as an orange does with an ostrich.

And really, what's so great about wind power?

Response: The myth of the Danish green energy ?miracle? - FP Comment


wind power in Denmark has not reduced CO2 emissions and has been a terribly expensive mistake
Most wind turbines run at about 25% of rated capacity, requiring back-up generation for the balance of the time. And because of their unpredictability, they require spinning reserves all the time, while conventional forms of electricity generation typically run at 75% to 95% of capacity utilization.
Data from the International Energy Agency shows that the cost of residential electricity in Denmark in 2007 was US34¢ per kWh — the highest in Europe.
Energy statistics from the Danish Energy Agency for 2007 suggest that comparing changes between 1994 and 2007, coal production has fallen by 40% while natural gas production has increased by 203%. While proponents of wind power point to the 20% of Denmark’s electricity output met by wind power, they downplay, for example, that in 2004, 70% of Danish wind power was exported to Sweden, Norway and Germany, typically at a substantial loss, and that wind power accounted for only 6% of Danish consumption. In turn, Denmark imported significant quantities of hydro and nuclear generated power from Sweden, Germany and Norway. Thus, any sensible reading of these numbers renders it implausible that Danish wind power has displaced significant amounts of fossil fuel generation. To the extent that CO2 emissions from Danish electricity generation declined at all, this is as much attributable to hydro and nuclear imports as to wind power.
 

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The small nukes are not presently operating anywhere in the world. So we have yet to see what the real cost is for them.

Wind power is currently operating all over the world, and profitably in most places.

Once again, the nuclear industry is promising pie in the sky. When it is delivered, then I will believe them. Until then, I have only past performance to go on. WHOOPS here in the Pacific Northwest is part of the performance. TMI on the East Coast is also. Consumers have long memories, ask GM.
 
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The small nukes are not presently operating anywhere in the world. So we have yet to see what the real cost is for them.

Wind power is currently operating all over the world, and profitably in most places.

Once again, the nuclear industry is promising pie in the sky. When it is delivered, then I will believe them. Until then, I have only past performance to go on. WHOOPS here in the Pacific Northwest is part of the performance. TMI on the East Coast is also. Consumers have long memories, ask GM.
Certainly not profitably for the Danish.

And what about what wind power is costing the Brits?

Christopher Booker's Notebook - Telegraph

The most prominent proposal is that which will require Britain to build up to 20,000 more wind turbines, including the 7,000 offshore giants announced by the Government before Christmas. To build two turbines a day, nearly as high as the Eiffel Tower, is inconceivable. What is also never explained is their astronomic cost.

At £2 million per megawatt of "capacity" (according to the Carbon Trust), the bill for the Government's 33 gigawatts (Gw) would be £66 billion (and even that, as was admitted in a recent parliamentary answer, doesn't include an extra £10 billion needed to connect the turbines to the grid). But the actual output of these turbines, because of the wind's unreliability, would be barely a third of their capacity. The resulting 11Gw could be produced by just seven new "carbon-free" nuclear power stations, at a quarter of the cost.
So it seems your concerns about the cost of nuclear as compared to wind should be put to rest.
 
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Energy Tribune- Overblown: The Real Cost of Wind Power

If you have a hankering to see Britain's green and pleasant countryside or its rugged coastline, you shouldn't wait too long. They are both likely to disappear soon under thousands of massive, swirling, 400-foot wind turbines. Recently, U.K. Industry Secretary John Hutton announced that the British government is planning 25 gigawatts of offshore wind power capacity, adding to the 8 GW already in development. A grand plan that could, in theory anyway, power all of Britain's 25 million homes by as early as 2020.
Hutton's plan would literally change the face of Britain. On the BBC's “Politics Show” he recently said the plan will result in roughly 7,000 turbines – astoundingly, one every half-mile around the entire coast of Britain.

What a lovely sight. A big ugly windmill every few hundred feet as far as the eye can see.
Despite U.K. wind industry subsidies of over $500 million, so far such a massive investment has only provided less than 0.5 percent of the U.K.'s electricity needs. In August 2007, the BBC's Radio 4 “Costing the Earth” program reported that the government’s financial incentives were encouraging wind industry firms to take advantage of massive government subsidies and build wind farms on non-viable sites across the mainland. So it seems winds are too variable even in Europe’s windiest country, with most turbines consistently underperforming as a result.
However, many of Britain's onshore farms have been running at around 20 percent, with some in urban areas dropping as low as 9 percent. Oswald believes that overly relying on wind power will result in major power failures across the U.K. and an increase of up to 50 percent in electricity bills.
So less reliability and higher costs. Gotta love that wind power!

Much has been written about Denmark's success as the world's wind power pioneer. But the regularly repeated claim – that Denmark generates 20 percent of its electricity demand from wind sources – is highly misleading. That 20 percent of electricity is not supplied continuously from wind power. Denmark’s wind supply is so variable that it relies heavily on neighbors Norway and Sweden, taking their excess production. In 2003 its export figure for wind power electricity production was as high as 84 percent, as Denmark found it could not absorb its own highly variable wind output capacity into its domestic system. The scale of Denmark’s subsidies was such that in 2006-07 the government increasingly came under scrutiny from the Danish media, which claimed the subsidies were out of control.
Unreliable power and out of control government subsidies. Is that what you call profitable?

In a recent U.S. report about Silicon Valley’s investments in clean-energy technologies, Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, said, "I worry about over-investing from firms that don't understand the energy markets." He's not alone. In last June’s Energy Pulse, consulting engineer Brian Leyland warned that the entire investment boom in alternative energy renewables could turn into just another "dotcom bubble.”

Leyland noted that the boom is driven by "a belief that we must reduce emissions of manmade” carbon dioxide, which in turn has "led to direct and indirect subsidies for otherwise non-economic renewables. These subsidies and tax breaks caused the boom. Without them, it wouldn't have happened."
The next bubble to burst will not be Wall Street's fault. The question is who will the government blame for the wind bubble?
 
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This is a shameless bump but I want the pro wind people to refute the claims that nuclear power is cheaper than wind and that maybe we should be investing inthe implemantation of these new smaller nukes.

http://www.usmessageboard.com/energy/115779-the-big-idea-small-town-nukes.html
The ferocious opposition from Massachusetts liberals to the Cape Wind project has provided a useful education in green energy politics. And now that the Nantucket Sound wind farm has won federal approval, this decade-long saga may prove edifying in green energy economics too: Namely, the price of electricity from wind is more than twice what consumers now pay.

On Monday, Cape Wind asked state regulators to approve a 15-year purchasing contract with the utility company National Grid at 20.7 cents per kilowatt hour, starting in 2013 and rising at 3.5% annually thereafter. Consumers pay around nine cents for conventional power today. The companies expect average electric bills to jump by about $1.59 a month, because electricity is electricity no matter how it is generated, and Cape Wind's 130 turbines will generate so little of it in the scheme of the overall New England market.

Still, that works out to roughly $443 million in new energy costs, and that doesn't count the federal subsidies that Cape Wind will receive from national taxpayers. It does, however, include the extra 6.1 cents per kilowatt hour that Massachusetts utilities are mandated to pay for wind, solar and the like under a 2008 state law called the Green Communities Act. Also under that law, at least 15% of power company portfolios must come from renewable sources by 2020.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved Cape Wind, placing it in the vanguard of "a clean energy revolution." A slew of environmental and political outfits have since filed multiple lawsuits for violations of the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, certain tribal-protection laws, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act.

There's comic irony in this clean energy revolution getting devoured by the archaic regulations of previous clean energy revolutions. But given that taxpayers will be required to pay to build Cape Wind and then required to buy its product at prices twice normal rates, opponents might have more success if they simply pointed out what a lousy deal it is.
 

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This is the 1996 costs. Fossil fuel prices have gone up since then, and the alternatives have come down. This does not include geothermal, which may be the least expensive of all.

http://www.pewclimate.org/docUploads/10-50_Hoffert.pdf

Table 1
Levelized Electricity Cost at Busbar (¢/kWe-hr) (1996)4
Coal
4.8 -5.5
Gas
3.9 -4.4
Hydro
5.1-11.3
Biomass
5.8-11.6
Nuclear Fission
11.1-14.5
Wind (without federal production tax credit)
4.0-6.0
Wind (with federal production tax credit)
3.3-5.3
 
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This is the 1996 costs. Fossil fuel prices have gone up since then, and the alternatives have come down. This does not include geothermal, which may be the least expensive of all.

http://www.pewclimate.org/docUploads/10-50_Hoffert.pdf

Table 1
Levelized Electricity Cost at Busbar (¢/kWe-hr) (1996)4
Coal
4.8 -5.5
Gas
3.9 -4.4
Hydro
5.1-11.3
Biomass
5.8-11.6
Nuclear Fission
11.1-14.5
Wind (without federal production tax credit)
4.0-6.0
Wind (with federal production tax credit)
3.3-5.3
Then why is the cape wind power project projected to be so much more expensive?

Could it be that you are using nominal output and not factoring in that wind on average only runs at one third rated capacity?
 
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Rocks lives near them and doesn't mind, but when ever I go east of the Dalles on 84 there are huge rows of the things on either side of the river. Only half of them seem to be moving even on a really blustery day (And the upper Columbia is always breezy) and they are painfully ugly.

I would prefer consistent, cheap and discreet. All that remains is safe.
 

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Interesting article posted by Industry7 on another thread. Now consider that First Solar is producing solar cells for less than a dollar a watt.

Unless Nuclear can come in at a reasonable cost, it will only be used as a buffer for flucuations in the grid.


Wind's latest problem: it ... makes power too cheap

Jerome a Paris has an interesting post at the European Tribune about the economics of wind power - Wind's latest problem: it ... makes power too cheap.

Bloomberg has a somewhat confusing article about the newest complaint about wind power, but the gist of it is that wind power is an issue for the industry because it brings their revenues down:

operators in Europe may have become their own worst enemy, reducing the total price paid for electricity in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, by as much as 5 billion euros some years
Implicit in the article, and the headline (which focuses on lower revenues for RWE) is the worry that wind power will bring down the stock market value of the big utilities - which is what the readers of Bloomberg et al. care about.

But despite the generally negative tone of the article, it's actually a useful one, because it brings out in the open a key bit of information: wind power actually brings electricity prices down!

windmills (...) operators in Europe may have become their own worst enemy, reducing the total price paid for electricity in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, by as much as 5 billion euros some years ...

The wind-energy boom in Europe and parts of Texas has begun to reduce bills for consumers. ...

Spanish power prices fell an annual 26 percent in the first quarter because of the surge in supplies from wind and hydroelectric production

This tidbit of information, which will hopefully begin to contradict the usual lies about the need for hefty subsidies for the wind sector, has been publicised by EWEA, the European Wind Energy Association in a report on the merit order effect (PDF). This is the name for what happens when you inject a lot of capital-intensive, low-marginal-cost supply into a marginalist price-setting market mechanism with low short term demand elasticity - or, in simpler words: when you have more wind, there is less need to pay to burn more gas to provide the requisite additional power at a given moment.
 

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Rocks lives near them and doesn't mind, but when ever I go east of the Dalles on 84 there are huge rows of the things on either side of the river. Only half of them seem to be moving even on a really blustery day (And the upper Columbia is always breezy) and they are painfully ugly.

I would prefer consistent, cheap and discreet. All that remains is safe.
No, Baruch, I do not live near them yet. I live at present in Portland. Hopefully, I will be nearer to them by the end of the year.
 
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Interesting article posted by Industry7 on another thread. Now consider that First Solar is producing solar cells for less than a dollar a watt.

Unless Nuclear can come in at a reasonable cost, it will only be used as a buffer for flucuations in the grid.


Wind's latest problem: it ... makes power too cheap

Jerome a Paris has an interesting post at the European Tribune about the economics of wind power - Wind's latest problem: it ... makes power too cheap.

Bloomberg has a somewhat confusing article about the newest complaint about wind power, but the gist of it is that wind power is an issue for the industry because it brings their revenues down:

operators in Europe may have become their own worst enemy, reducing the total price paid for electricity in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, by as much as 5 billion euros some years
Implicit in the article, and the headline (which focuses on lower revenues for RWE) is the worry that wind power will bring down the stock market value of the big utilities - which is what the readers of Bloomberg et al. care about.

But despite the generally negative tone of the article, it's actually a useful one, because it brings out in the open a key bit of information: wind power actually brings electricity prices down!

windmills (...) operators in Europe may have become their own worst enemy, reducing the total price paid for electricity in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, by as much as 5 billion euros some years ...

The wind-energy boom in Europe and parts of Texas has begun to reduce bills for consumers. ...

Spanish power prices fell an annual 26 percent in the first quarter because of the surge in supplies from wind and hydroelectric production

This tidbit of information, which will hopefully begin to contradict the usual lies about the need for hefty subsidies for the wind sector, has been publicised by EWEA, the European Wind Energy Association in a report on the merit order effect (PDF). This is the name for what happens when you inject a lot of capital-intensive, low-marginal-cost supply into a marginalist price-setting market mechanism with low short term demand elasticity - or, in simpler words: when you have more wind, there is less need to pay to burn more gas to provide the requisite additional power at a given moment.
So how do you reconcile what you posted with the articles I posted on Denmark England and Cape Wind.

It seems to me someone is lying. My bet is on the wind power industry not the people actually paying for the windmills.

See4ms to me the only reason Cape Wind uses for its price estimates is an assumption that federal subsidies (taxpayer money) will increase 3.5% a year so as to keep actual consumer costs down.

Doesn't seem like a bargain to me.

http://www.mvgazette.com/article.php?25405
 
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