Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
"One real advantage of nukes is that they can directly replace a coal-fired plant."

Define "directly". Re-activate old nuclear power stations that have been shut? They would still go through a process of applying for permits, trying to get staff etc. And that for stations that are old and mostly beyond their scheduled life. It doesn't sound very realistic, and would take longer than installing the same capacity in wind and solar.

And that's not even talking of new nukes. Planning periosds of 30 years and longer, I guess, and we are not even talking of costs and political costs.

Nuclear power in Germany is dead, and that is a good thing. I doubt that it can be re-vived elsewhere, too.

by Katrin on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 09:27:57 AM EST
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I used to be pro-nuclear in 80s, turn anti-nuclear in the 90s and finally turned nuclear-apathetic while watching the slow unfolding of the satire know as Olkiluoto number 3.

Currently 13 years behind schedule, they hope to finally produce power to grid next year. But there has already been 17 delays, so nobody's holding their breath.

The other new Finnish nuclear power plant, Hanhikivi, is currently 5 years behind schedule, and they haven't even started the construction yet.

To me it looks like nuclear power is it's own worst enemy.

by pelgus on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 10:41:38 AM EST
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Its own worst enemy indeed: you can add Flamanville 3 in France (10 years delay and over €10B overrun) and Hinley Point in the UK to the list.

The nuclear advocates are no longer arguing that nuclear electricity is cheaper, but that it is the only way to achieve our transition to carbon neutral energy, no matter the costs: there are entire careers and positions that depend on that.

by Bernard on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 02:15:06 PM EST
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What do you know: just found this in Politico.eu:
FRENCH PUSH NUCLEAR OPTION: Some countries believe that the current squeeze offers an opportunity for more long-term structural change. A letter by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire circulated to ministers ahead of this afternoon's meeting and seen by Playbook, says that "more structural changes could be explored." In particular, he argues that "in the longer term, the European Union should focus on achieving energy independence by investing in all decarbonized means of energy production."

Cuts to the case: Le Maire also makes the argument that nuclear energy should be classified as green by the Commission. "It is important that the European Commission also enables the development of nuclear energy. In this regard, the rapid inclusion of nuclear energy within the European taxonomy framework and in state aid regulations is absolutely necessary."

by Bernard on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 06:36:11 PM EST
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by Oui on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 10:56:42 AM EST
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According to your link, VVD is gearing up for massive subsidies.

IIRC, Hinkley's state aid got approved in the end, that is in the court. So maybe Netherlands state aid would also get approval from the Commission. Funny how the right is very flexible about the holy market when it comes to nuclear power.

by fjallstrom on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 09:12:06 PM EST
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Hinkley Point C: ECJ Confirms Commission's Approval of Aid to Nuclear Energy Plant

No "nuclear exception" from State aid law

Aid in the nuclear sector is at the unique cross-section of two Treaties: The Euratom Treaty and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. If, where and how the Euratom supersedes the TFEU is thus a crucial question for aid in the nuclear energy sector.

The General Court accorded a broad scope of application to the Euratom Treaty, in particular Article 106a (3) Euratom Treaty. This provision states that the provisions of the Treaty on European Union and of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union shall not derogate from the provisions of the Euratom Treaty. The General Court held that Article 106a (3) of the Euratom Treaty prevented principles of EU environmental law from leading to a negative State aid assessment.

The ECJ departed from this part of the ruling, holding that aid that violated EU environmental law could not be deemed to be compatible with the internal market and could thus not be authorized.

by Oui on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 10:11:32 PM EST
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What I meant by "nukes directly replacing coal plants" was not the plant itself, which obviously has to get over all sort of regulatory and political hurdles. And cost hurdles, where "too cheap to meter" meets "OMG it is really expensive!"

Instead, I was looking at the grid connection aspect. Large centralized plants, whether fired by coal or oil or atoms, feed into the grid from that centralized location, and the distribution to customers is configured with mostly radial power lines leading to neighborhoods. Distributed supplies, like solar and wind, tend to have their own site grid that collects the power and then feeds it into the distribution grid. But that connection point is not where the old coal plant was, it is out in the boonies somewhere.

So if you have a coal plant and want to replace it with solar and wind, one of the things you need to do is a substantial reconfiguration of the grid. If you drop in a nuke where the coal plant was, the grid wiring is already in place.

Colorado Springs is doing something similar as it replaces its old downtown coal plant. They have shut it off, and are pulling out the coal boilers--but replacing them with gas turbine generators. The gas turbines are meant to be temporary (we'll see!), but the underlying reason for this approach is that the grid as currently configured needs to be fed from that existing location.

An open question is whether they will retain the old generators from the coal system to be used as synchronous condensers, to provide reactive power and freqency inertia.

by asdf on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 06:38:32 PM EST
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Yes, you can "directly" convert a coal power station by gas, and you have made perfectly clear why this makes sense, temporarily. The same is not true for nuclear, though.

I am a bit baffled how this thread on the end of the Merkel era became focused on nuclear power. It was the red-green government which had decided the (eventual) end of nuclear power in Germany. Merkel revised that when she came into power. The anti-nuke movement immediately re-organised and became a lot stronger. We were furious, and if Merkel wanted a fight, well... We made sure we would be ready for that. Then Fukushima "happened", support for the anti-nuclear movement exploded, and Merkel back-pedalled, because there was no chance for her to win. All our fury and our ideas for activism, and the efforts of organising suddenly were left without an opponent.

I wonder where we would have landed if she hadn't. What impact would the fight against her revival of nuclear power have had on society in general, and the environmentalist movement? Would this fight have moved people to the left, who now had got a chance to remain quiet again?

by Katrin on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 08:23:12 PM EST
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If there is a particularly bad winter and widespread blackouts, or a particularly hot summer, or unusually big snowstorms or floods, the "let's just build some nukes" mindset is not far from the surface. That probably applies everywhere.
by asdf on Tue Oct 5th, 2021 at 02:06:01 AM EST
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