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The context I am assuming is that of a completely low carbon grid. This changes the cost calculations drastically because it means wind no longer gets to externalize its load balancing costs onto the rest of the power sector, because there is no rest of the power sector.  This is, however an issue that can be solved with sufficiently heroic civil engineering. Google "granite piston storage". I promise you will like the scheme ;)

-- Secondly, I would very much like it if you provided me a link documenting a current producer of nuclear electricity who does in fact externalize the costs you mention. Because I cannot at the moment think of any examples.

Thirdly: There is no such thing as "The cost of wind" and the "Cost of nuclear" at the present time. The per-kwh-produced cost of wind is massively dependant on location and climate, and same calculation for nuclear is extremely sensitive to the political context of the construction programme. For example, I very much doubt you are correct in, oh, South Korea. Or China.

by Thomas on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 05:57:16 PM EST
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-- Secondly, I would very much like it if you provided me a link documenting a current producer of nuclear electricity who does in fact externalize the costs you mention. Because I cannot at the moment think of any examples.

TEPCO

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 05:59:11 PM EST
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The context I am assuming is that of a completely low carbon grid. This changes the cost calculations drastically because it means wind no longer gets to externalize its load balancing costs

Neither does nuclear, and there is no reason to believe a priori that nuclear will have lower load-balancing costs than wind in a properly run grid.

Secondly, I would very much like it if you provided me a link documenting a current producer of nuclear electricity who does in fact externalize the costs you mention. Because I cannot at the moment think of any examples.

Right now spent fuel rods are being kept in on-site storage in much of the world. That was, as you surely recall, one of the things that blew up in TEPCO's face. Those fuel rods are going to need final storage at some point, and if that doesn't happen before the plant is decommissioned, you're essentially betting that the company in question will not use its limited liability status to pull a Bhopal.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 07:11:26 PM EST
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Actively cooled initial waste storage is an inherent nessesity of all solid fuel reactor designs. - fresh waste is just too hot to go straight into final disposal. If you want rid of this problem, it is nessesary to transition to reactor designs that permit online reprocessing, like the molten salt reactor, or this http://www.rbsp.info/rbs/RbS/PDF/aiaa05.pdf rhing.

But advanced reactor research is depressignly underfunded. It really would not take very much money by government research programme standards to build a prototype of either of the above.

by Thomas on Wed Jul 20th, 2011 at 01:20:27 AM EST
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Re balancing costs.. Are you joking? A nuclear grid needs sufficient balancing capacity to timeshift about less than half its output 12 hours. A full wind grid would need about ten times that. This is not an insurmountable problem for wind - as I said, google granite piston (I really like that idea. Its clever, and should work) but neither is it equivalent.
by Thomas on Wed Jul 20th, 2011 at 01:23:23 AM EST
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Re balancing costs.. Are you joking?

No, I'm considering the actual economics of load-balancing, which depend on how much electricity you need to balance, not on how much capacity you need to build (combined-cycle gas turbines are cheap, converting pig shit to biogas is expensive).

So you need to make the case that wind requires more MWh per year than nuclear, not that it requires more MW (which is not necessarily the case either - nuclear being more concentrated, it requires more backup capacity to deal with unexpected plant closure).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 20th, 2011 at 08:19:23 AM EST
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