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LQD - A new definition of 'affordable'

by ThatBritGuy Wed May 28th, 2008 at 08:09:27 AM EST

According to the BBC:

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Nuclear clean-up costs 'to soar'

The cost of cleaning up the UK's ageing nuclear facilities, including some described as "dangerous", looks set to rise above £73bn, the BBC has learned.

A senior official at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said the bill would rise by billions of pounds.

Nineteen sites across the country, some dating from the 1950s, are due to be dismantled in the coming decades.

A spokesman for the Department for Business said it was ready for an adjustment in the clean-up costs.

In January, the National Audit Office said that the cost of decommissioning ageing power sites had risen from £12bn to £73bn.


Can anyone think of any other industry where this would be acceptable?

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Nuclear clean-up costs 'to soar'

Speaking to the BBC, Jim Morse, a senior director at the authority, said of the projected cost: "I think it's a high probability that in the short term it will undoubtedly go up.

"We've still a lot to discover, we haven't started waste retrieval in those parts of the estate where the degradation and radioactive decay has been at its greatest."

When asked if the cost increases could run into billions of pounds, Mr Morse said: "I'm sure it'll be some billions, I really don't know."

Now - in the interests of fairness and full disclosure, it's worth noting that this is the cost to clean-up virtually all of the UK's fifty year old nuke program.

But even so - although it's nice that the Department for Business is 'ready for an adjustment' of >600%, this is a sizeable chunk of GDP which is being slipped past the public without investigation or oversight. (Snarky reporting from the BBC doesn't count as either, unfortunately.)

The best argument against nukes isn't about technology, efficiency or economics, or even that clean-up costs are reliably misunderestimated by large factors - it's that some governments, especially the UK's, lack the political or strategic skills to manage the technology effectively without turning it into a steaming mountain of faintly glowing pork.

The current estimate for the Severn Barrage tidal energy scheme is £23bn.

This assumes a privately funded and managed project, built with the UK's traditional vastly inflated construction costs - reliably between 25% and 50% higher than those on the mainland.

Public or semi-public funding, combined with aggressive construction cost management might be able to trim that by 25%.

With £73bn to spare, it would be possible to consider similar schemes for the Thames Estuary, the Wash, and the Solent, and perhaps add fill-in capacity with off-shore wind. Or indeed vice versa.

The Severn Barrage was considered economically viable back in the 80s, subject to some modest green tax breaks, but the Thatcher government chose not to support it. It's unlikely to be less viable now than it was then.

Perhaps the Department for Business could consider making an 'adjustment' to its politics instead of its budget, so that it's not making the same mistakes twenty years from now?

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Discussion around the Severn Barrage has been picking up slowly again lately.  Newer technology makes it more viable than it used to be although concerns around the local environmental impact are often raised.

At Wales TUC conference, there were a number of green motions, and a forum on climate change.  A motion to reject nuclear power as an option fell, despite good arguments against nuclear power and very poor ones in favour of it ("I've lived near a nuclear power station all my life and it hasn't done me any harm. I won't tolerate people from the south telling us how to live our lives in Angelsey") - largely because the general council want to have a full debate on all options available to us (not because they are pro-nuclear).

Other options are off shore wind, 'green' coal, the barrage and so on.  The AM with responsibility for environment claims that that Wales could become self sufficient with green energy at the level we use now (24 terrawatt hrs) of electricity.  

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 08:27:12 AM EST
The thing about the Severn barrier is that it wrecks an awful lot of ecology including some valuable resources. I believe there are ecologicaly friendly versions but, let's be honest, this is the British govt we're talking about here.

But wouldn't it be a lot cheaper to have a distributed network of small schemes in areas where there's a good hydro-electric resouce ? Lots of streams with good water power in Wales , Scotland and N England. But then we end up with lots of wind resource and then we remember what country this is.

So we're back to nuclear power and the weakness the govt won't admit : It shouldn't be trusted with a lead battery, let alone a nuclear power station.

Rinse and repeat

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 09:40:05 AM EST
It's not so much that the Servern Barrage is The Answer. Big concrete projects only make sense sometimes. It's more that for comparison purposes we could have had An Answer twenty years ago, instead of a massive and open-ended clean-up bill now.

That £73bn is wasted cash. It will not make the UK more sustainable, more fuel efficient, more secure, or nicer to look at when it's raining.

So I think the point is more about starting to apply pressure to the points of weakness - the links between the people who authorise this spending, and the people who benefit from it.

Perhaps a side order of shrieky tabloid ranting wouldn't hurt either, in the right places.

Hardly anyone seems to have noticed the irony of news like this coming out the day after the fuel protests, and Gordo's 'give me more oil or I'll cry' stern exchange of raised eyebrows with the oil boards.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 10:03:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is possibly a question for Crazy Horse. Is it possible to submerge turbines in the water to take advantage of the strong tidal currents as opposed to damming the Severn estuary? Also, could something similar (submerged turbines without damming) be done in the Thames estuary, which also has large tidal currents?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 10:36:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_power#Tidal_stream_generators

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 11:12:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In water, one could also use a vertical axis turbine to avoid having to reorient the nacelle in turbulent water. My reasoning is that the higher density of water may put more strain on the mount point of the nacelle on the base of the turbine.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 11:37:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Windmills" in water do exist

http://www.marineturbines.com/

by Francois in Paris on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 01:18:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They are doing it in the East River in NYC.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 01:44:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is that maintenance under water is a bitch. It's not bankable as of today.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 06:28:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And sea water is corrosive, not to speak of all those barnacles.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 06:35:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
plastic turbines!

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 07:36:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or Amory's forged carbon composites shown in the reference provided by Crazy Horse yesterday in the EV diary.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 09:27:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]

maintenance under water is a bitch.

As is off-shore oil platform maintenance.  Companies supplying divers for the oil industry could supply divers for these facilities.  Hopefully, the East River Project will provide information on that issue.  It may prove possible to remove-repair-reinstall.  For some aspects tidal estuaries seem worst case, but at least, in this case, they are close to shore.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 09:24:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My understanding of the Severn barrier project is that it is a useless white elephant project that's used as a "green"diversion to get nuclear plants under way.

Wind, both onshore and offshore, works, has a understandable price structure (with a cap on said price, increasingly a luxury these days) and no physical limitation.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 06:30:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed.

The latest proposed version seems to be a 8.6 GW plant, which is supposed to meet 5% of the UK's needs (that would be roughly 20 TWh/year, or a capacity factor of around 25%). A single giant project, 1500 times bigger than the largest wind turbine; but it is not much overall - and not much even with all the other potential estuaries barraged.

The same amount of electricity would be produced by off-shore wind farms with a combined capacity of 5.7 GW, assuming a capacity factor of 40%. The cost to build that with all strings attached, even at today's increased prices is presently around £17 billion I believe (but Jérôme correct me).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu May 29th, 2008 at 08:39:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS
The electricity calculator gives you the opportunity to choose how you would like the UK's electricity to be generated in 2020.

Once you have made your choice, the calculator will work out the possible impact in terms of carbon emissions, whether you managed to keep the lights on and how it will affect people's annual bills.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Wed May 28th, 2008 at 02:08:27 PM EST
A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon....

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu May 29th, 2008 at 08:21:42 AM EST


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