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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
[ Parent ]
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
[ Parent ]
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
[ Parent ]

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