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Let's blame wind for energy disruptions!

by Jerome a Paris Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 08:01:46 AM EST


Dash for gas-fired power stations raises concerns over future supplies

A steep increase in the number of gas-fired power stations has been approved by the government, raising fears about the growing pressure on future gas supplies.

This new "dash for gas", along with the huge investment in wind power launched by the government on Friday, reinforces concerns that Britain's infrastructure may become more vulnerable to extreme weather and supply disruption.

The article notes that "[c]ombined cycle gas-fired plants remain the preferred choice for many utilities because of their relatively low cost and how quickly they can be built" but of course fails to point out that they are relatively cheap because they bear the least burden of debt per kWh (so the higher cost of capital of the private sector is less penalising for such plants than it is for nukes, wind of coal), and, even more importantly, they are more profitable even when they are (on average) more expensive because their costs are better correlated, for technical reasons, to market prices.

But the article actually blames the large wind developments being planned for the 'dash-for-gas':


Gas-fired plants are being developed to back up the thousands of new offshore wind turbines planned by the government. The recent run of cold and still days has highlighted the risks created by a growing reliance on wind power.

At the end of last week, while gas supplies were being cut off for some large industrial users, wind farms, which account for 5 per cent of Britain's generation capacity, were providing only about 0.2 per cent of the country's electricity, enough to power a town the size of Tunbridge Wells.

The reality is that the UK has a creaky power system that needs massive investment just to replace existing plants. Nukes are old and will be decommissioned over the next decade or so, and coal plans are being phased out because of their carbon emissions and pollution. So new plants need to be built in any case, and not specifically as backup for wind.

The fact that wind is also being built means that the new plants will be used rather less than if wind were absent, but not that they do not need to be built: indeed, at times they will be all needed. But not often. Gas-fired plants are actually a good thing in the context of a massive wind build-up, as they are flexible enough to be able to come in when needed, and their lower capital requirements means that it still makes economic sense to build them even for lower use (gas-fired "peaker" plants that function as little as 3% of the time can be profitable, by running only at times of very high demand and commanding extremely high prices at such moments).

But - wind provides power, not capacity. Capacity needs to be built in the UK. If left to market forces, it will be mostly gas-fired plants. If wind is indeed built on the scale proposed, such build up will be a lesser evil, indeed a necessary one. If not, then it will be the dangerous, but inevitable consequence of the deregulating policies of our times, which favor financial returns over proper policies with collective purposes.

Front-paged by afew


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Of course, don't you read the Daily Mail/Telegraph or Express. It's there in the papers, it must be the truth

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 11th, 2010 at 04:11:40 PM EST
Of course, England cannot obtain the same share of effective baseload power as the US by both placing wind farms broadly across a substantial wind resource and linking together multiple largely independent resources, together with a modest amount of firming from dispatchable renewable power like hydro ... but it could certainly do the first part, and the EU as a whole certainly offers a broad enough range of wind resource areas for the second part.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jan 11th, 2010 at 07:57:19 PM EST
Is the British electrical grid not connected to Europe?
by asdf on Mon Jan 11th, 2010 at 10:06:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the Wikipedia, one link to France exists, another to the Netherlands is under construction, a third to Norway is proposed.

The existing link is 2gw and (again, according to the Wikipedia) supplies about 5% of UK electricity. So its a start, but not the capacity for full cross resource pooling along the lines proposed by some.

From Transmission and Distribution World, the link to the Netherlands is 1gw.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 12:51:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's now an EU program to link all who border the North Sea, while at the same time strengthening the ability use to offshore wind more efficiently.  Some 9 countries have signed on already, and working groups and tech analysis are already in motion.

J had it here a while back.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 02:53:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I recall seeing it, but couldn't recall the details - hence the recourse to The Wikipedia.

I presume that is the "proposed" UK/Norway link.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 11:19:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What the Brits should do is build lots of cross-channel power lines, lots of pumped hydro in Scotland and use the surplus nuclear power in France, which has to do load-following because of lack of nightly and weekend demand. I'd love to see a feasability study on that.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 12:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How much existing hydro is there in Scotland? Its often far less capital intensive to add reverse cycle capacity to a conventional hydro facility than to build modular pumped hydro from scratch, though as this source notes, since the generator must be below the water level of the lower outlet, tunneling is often required, while a modular pumped hydro would have the turbine designed into its lower reservoir from the outset.

One of the appealing things about pumped hydro storage is the responsiveness - that same source notes that as a spinning reserve, powered by the conventional hydro facility using the same upper reservoir, as able to come online in 15 seconds. And AFAIR there is a pumped hydro installation somewhere in the UK that can reverse from storage to power generation in a handful of minutes.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 12:49:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by JeroenMostert on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 02:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that's the one precisely - Dinorwig, which can take a generator from standing still to full load in under a minute and a half.

That form of storage on a grid will be especially useful when volatile energy sources in the portfolio are running below average demand, as they allow energy to be brought in over the grid to grid HVDC links in off-peak periods and stored for use during peak demands.

The Wikipedia mentions that it, too, was originally planned for use with shifting nuclear generated electricity from off-peak to on-peak, and with the switch in nuclear plans a sister plant at Exmoor was never built.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 06:42:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wrote a while back (No technical limitation to wind power penetration that the UK could actually absorb wind quite well:



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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 05:09:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's see if I understand that chart correctly. It's saying that 40GW of installed wind capacity provide 10% of the installed capacity but 40% of the energy produced?

Considering the trend lines, could one extrapolate that 100GW of installed wind would provide 100% of the energy but only maybe 15% of the capacity - that is, in order to have close to 100% energy from wind you'd need to have 5 times more idle capacity from other sources?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 05:18:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you wouldn't need 5 times more capacity, you'd need close to the maximum potential demand as available capacity (which would be smaller than the overall wind MW capacity), and indeed that capacity would be idle a good part of the time.

In my opinion, it's not wise to target 100% wind - a good chunk of the base load is probably usefully provided by nukes (or hydro if you have it, or by gas-fired plants), with wind part of the variable load of the day.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 05:30:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you wouldn't need 5 times more capacity, you'd need close to the maximum potential demand

What is a typical ratio of peak to mean capacity utilization? Somehow, 5x doesn't seem far-fetched, come to think of it. For residential power, think of how running an electric oven, kettle, vacuum cleaner or iron compares to average use. A 3kW spike would not be unusual and base consumption (close to the average) could well be below 600W (a laptop, a TV/stereo and a couple of lights?).

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 05:41:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but from memory, maximum capacity should be 5-20% higher than peak demand; peak demand is probably 50-80% higher than average demand, which is itself 50-80% higher than minimum demand

So: 30GW base, 50GW average, 80GW peak, 90-100GW capacity.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 06:10:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Check Spain's power demand curve in real time.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 09:33:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. Together with the real-time wind power production, over the past 24 hours in Spain wind provided about 1/4 of the power.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 09:43:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right now, wind meets 25% of the Spanish mainland demand: 10,100 MW generated by wind power while demand is 41,536 MW.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 09:44:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also last night: around 6GW generated for a demand of 26GW.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 09:47:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wind production nicely followed actual demand this morning...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 10:15:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
10.1GW was the eastimate. The real production was just about 9GW. So a 1GW discrepancy between prediction and reality.

The only question is whether that estimate was fined tuned in the hour before each timewindow (as is usually possible) and whether the estimate shown is the one done a day before, or the fine-tuned one. I would expect it to be the day-ahead one, but maybe not.

(or am I missing something from the definition of estimate and "telemetered" production?)

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 10:19:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
10.1GW was the eastimate. The real production was just about 9GW. So a 1GW discrepancy between prediction and reality.

Nope. The 9GW is the metered production, the 10.1GW estimate includes unmetered capacity. That's pretty good -- back when I first bookmarked this link years ago, the metered part was barely above 50% of the total capacity.

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

by DoDo on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 10:24:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ok, thanks! Good to know.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 10:58:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean: telemetered means that outgoing electricity metered at the wind farms is beamed to REE in real-time.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 10:29:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
can hardly balance each other, unless new nuclear plants are developed for (and built with a business model foreseeing) highly variable output.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 09:30:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but it depends on the proportion of each, and it depends how nuclear is run. France has shown that nukes can be used quite flexibly - the obvious question then being what the cost of such electricity is.

But I would expect that in the long term, having nuclear used at 75% instead of 90% is still cheaper than a lot of baseload gas-fired power, and a lot better for the environment than the same capacity from coal-fired plants...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 10:11:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France has shown that nukes can be used quite flexibly

Could you write more about this? My understanding was that France could 'balance' big using its exports to Italy and Spain, and other than that, whole plants were powered down for longer periods of time; no regulation in 5-minute, 15-minute or even one-hour regimes.

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

by DoDo on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 10:27:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that showed that EDF was able to modify production quite rapidly on some of its plants. I'll try to find them.

Maybe Pierre or Francois can comment if they are around...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 10:52:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is not the problem with load balancing wind with  nuclear, the "problem" is that the existance of enough nuclear capacity to do the job makes building any wind whatsoever utterly pointless. All costs of nuclear capacity are fixed, save fuel, and fuel costs essentially nothing. So if you have sufficient nuclear capacity to cover demand during dead wind, building windmills adds.. no utility or value whatsoever, because it costs exactly the same to have the nukes supply electricity 365 days a year as it does to have them supply backup capacity.

The cheapest and cleanest way to fix the UK short term energy shortage is, as someone already suggested, to build pumped storage facilities and time shift French surplus night time generation to UK daytime consumption, since unused nuclear capacity is for all intents and purposes free electricity, but the problem is of course that the french will charge a non-zero amount of money for this, and it only goes so far, at some point the frogs will catch on and build their own  electric mountains, forcing the UK to build their own nukes in any case.

(Honestly, financially speaking? Fuck wind. Costs too much per tonne of co2 displaced. Nukes and pumped storage is where its at.)

by Thomas on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 03:10:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wind is a great way to save water in the dams and gas in the gasturbines. If nuclear should be as profitable as possible, you need to run it at full blast at all times, and to do that you need peakers. If you can save money by adding wind to reduce the gas consumption and be able to use the water at times of higher demand, wind is a great idea.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 04:21:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with this logic is that wind doesn't die down during the night.
Lets say that you build nukes equal to base load- they produce 100% of your nighttime demand, and 40% of peak daytime demand. This works out to some 50% of your total electricity carbon free and cheap. Now, how to cover day time peak: Cheap option is just to build gas turbines and run them during the day. This isnt green, but it works, and then you decide to reduce the damage your are doing by adding some windmills. During the day, all is fine and dandy- when the wind blows, you are burning less gas. But when the wind blows during the night, windmills still produce power, and there is no market for it, so now you got to loadfollow your nukes, and if you are willing to do that, why on earth build the gas turbines and windmills in the first place? it would be overall cheaper, and less polluting, to overbuild nukes and go to a wholly atomic gird...
by Thomas on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:51:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In an all-nuclear grid, you don't build 100 % peak demand nuke capacity and load-follow. You build 110 % average demand and load-balance with smart grids, interruptible delivery contracts, heat baths, pumped hydro, etc.

Now, in some places, it will be cheaper to build 110 % of average demand in wind, hydro, biochar, waste incinerators, solar or some combination of all the above options.

Nuclear simply isn't always cheaper pr. MWh, even when you include the load-balancing costs of wind and solar. In some places it will be cheaper, and in some places it will not be. It would, after all, be silly to suppose that any single power source is always and everywhere cheaper than everything else.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:00:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All costs of nuclear capacity are fixed, save fuel, and fuel costs essentially nothing.

Well, no:

Particularly not when you consider waste post-processing and final storage (which normally faces substantial cost overruns). And it is not altogether self-evident that current storage solutions can be scaled up arbitrarily without hitting a point of escalating costs, as they are every bit as dependent on limited geological resources as oil extraction is.

Oh, and uranium prices do not necessarily reflect the full social and ecological cost of extraction, when said extraction is done in third-world countries where both life and pollution are cheap.

And while we're at it, nukes also require idling backup plants, because you cannot expect to always be able to schedule maintenance in periods where the plants are not needed (and that's just the scheduled maintenance - any emergency shutdowns, which kinda by definition cannot be scheduled, come on top of this). Since nuclear comes in somewhat bigger chunks of generating capacity, it is not really self-evident that nuclear needs less backup capacity than wind.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 04:24:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Particularly not when you consider waste post-processing and final storage (which normally faces substantial cost overruns).
The cost is very small, even with the overengineered solutions developed, and can be taken from cashflow. Cost is about 0.1 cents per kWh over the lifetime of the plant.

And it is not altogether self-evident that current storage solutions can be scaled up arbitrarily without hitting a point of escalating costs, as they are every bit as dependent on limited geological resources as oil extraction is.
Not in the slightest. Good enough bedrock is by no means rare. They are limited in the same way the global supply of gravel is finite.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 04:28:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
€ 1/MWh is still a 3 % increase in total cost, according to the above figure. And something on the order of a 30 % increase in the variable cost, which goes from being on the order of 10 % to being on the order of 13 %.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:35:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since nuclear comes in somewhat bigger chunks of generating capacity, it is not really self-evident that nuclear needs less backup capacity than wind.

Furthermore, because it comes in such large chunks, with such long lead times for installation nuclear is always behind or ahead of the demand curve and spends of lot of time stranded.  Whereas, wind and solar can be added almost continuously with demand making them even more attractive.

by njh on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:18:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, not really. Nuclear has such low variable costs that it will displace other sources of generation (except wind and hydro) even if it is added to a grid with surplus capacity. Furthermore, lead times need not at all be long. In a national effort with a solid competence base the plants will be built in about 5 years. The Japanese even manage to do it in 4 years at times.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:27:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... that is at best a four year lead time to produce the number of plants a country is presently equipped to produce. Otherwise the lead time includes the lead time of building the production capacity.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 02:53:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One need only look at the French (and Swedish) examples to see that needn't be a problem.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 03:19:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The issue is not whether its "a problem", the issue is whether a four year build out of a planned expansion in share of nuclear capacity is a realistic number. Citing the French case, if the decision was around 1974, 1984 looks far more like the target share than 1978.

Not installing wind turbines which will begin to be delivering power later in year one of the build-out on the promise that in four years the first power will begin to be delivered and in ten years you'll be getting close to your target is just a substantially different case to evaluate than not building wind turbines on the promise that in four year you'll be getting about the amount of power you want from nuclear.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 03:37:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Four years is the minimum time to build one reactor. The French peak reactor construction year was 1982 (6 reactors) IIRC. Going from 0 % to 75 % nuclear took about 15 years IIRC. Hardly a long time.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 05:50:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Compare the first statement to the final statement:
Furthermore, lead times need not at all be long. In a national effort with a solid competence base the plants will be built in about 5 years.

Four years is the minimum time to build one reactor.

We've gone from a statement that in the most direct reading suggests that all reactors desired may be built by a country "with a solid competence base" in about five years, so long as its part of a national effort, to one that makes it clear that four is an absolute bare minimum time to build one reactor.

Whether fifteen years is a long or short time, it is appreciably longer than five years.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 07:42:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We've gone from a statement that in the most direct reading suggests that all reactors desired may be built by a country "with a solid competence base" in about five years
I never claimed that.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jan 18th, 2010 at 03:42:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but it's not obvious to me at all that new-build nuclear is cheaper than wind, given identical financing conditions.

Wind makes less sense in France than elsewhere, given the given capacity, but that's certainly not true elsewhere.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 04:43:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly. Wind has a place and so has nuclear. It makes no sense to build an EPR on Aruba.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 04:50:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My "Anti-every-thing-but-nukes-and-large-hydro" attitude is a tad extreme, but I feel that it is, in fact, well grounded. See if you can spot any major holes in this logic:
Think in terms of "what would it take to decarbonize the grid"
Wind has an average capacity factor of 35% for on-shore mills - meaning that on any given day, a windmill will be producing between 0 and 100% of its nameplate capacity, averaging 35%. Now, lets say that you are the CEO/dictator supreme of a utility.  and wish to use wind to reduce the carbon intensity of electricity. Okay, so as a first step, you order that windmills are built until nameplate capacity equals base load. At this point, on windy nights when your turbines produce at their nameplate capacity, they meet 100% of nighttime demand.
This, unfortunately means that over the course of a year, wind covers some (scribbles..) ca 15% of your annual demand for electricity, with the remainder coming from a zillion gas turbines.. This clearly isnt doing much to reduce carbon intensity.
Second step: You order windmills built until nameplate capacity is equal to average day-night demand, and pumped storage enough to loadbalance 24 hours of production. This means that during windy periods, your mills + storage meet demand exactly. Unfortunately, it also means you meet a percentage of your annual demand equal to the capacity factor of your windmills, EG; 35%. With the remainder still produced by gas turbines. Still utter fail, from a global warming perspective. Finally, you order enough windmills and storage built to match average output with average demand, with the result that the revolutionary council  for public safety orders you hanged from the nearest lamp post, as this would utterly bankrupt the nation.

Wind will not cut it. It is, simply, too fracking fickle.

by Thomas on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:33:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh... so build wind so that the nameplate capacity is 300% of the average demand and enough pumped hydro to loadbalance 24 of production...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:41:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if your do that, you get hanged by the the aforementioned revolutionary council of public safety as a public safety hazard because you are now generating 3 times as much electricity as demanded on windy days, and you have nowhere to put it. This is.. Not safe. And you still need backup gas generators for quiet days.
by Thomas on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:59:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Um, which part of "continent-spanning electrical grid," "uncorrelated fluctuations," "interruptible delivery" and "pumped storage" do you fail to understand?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:01:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. you can turn some wind farms off when there's too much power produced. This is not difficult to do
  2. what is the problem with having lots of gas-fied plants that you use very little? The problem is burning the gas, not having the gas-fired plants.

You have to stop thinking only in MW and think also in MWh! In the old centralised world, talking of MW was enough, but that doesn't translate well to a world with wind, gas peakers, interruptible demand and other similar tools.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:05:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that wind is not, in general, more expensive pr MWh actually produced than nuclear. The fixation on nameplate capacity and capacity factors is a red herring.

Load balancing is an issue, but not an insurmountable one, as the Danish experience demonstrates. It will probably prevent 100 % wind penetration, but nobody within shouting distance of sanity will want to base their entire energy supply on a single set of technologies anyway...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In that case, Ive left sanity long ago.

The basic point I obviously did not communicate clearly enough is that when name plate capacity exceeds demand, actual production will also exceed demand on windy days.

This means that your total build of wind capacity cannot exceed a nameplate capacity equal to your base demand unless you are willing to throw part of your electricity production away, or have a way to store that surplus.

And the gap between average output and nameplate capacity always gets filled by gas.

Thus a decision to rely on wind, is in fact a decision to rely mostly on gas, with some wind power thrown in, and this will hold true until the day someone invents a battery far beyond anything we have.

by Thomas on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:13:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This means that your total build of wind capacity cannot exceed a nameplate capacity equal to your base demand unless you are willing to throw part of your electricity production away, or have a way to store that surplus.

I am and I do.

The point which I have apparently repeatedly failed to get across is that even including the pumped storage facilities and the losses on windy days a good wind location will provide cheaper MWh than nuclear plants.

Thus a decision to rely on wind, is in fact a decision to rely mostly on gas, with some wind power thrown in, and this will hold true until the day someone invents a battery far beyond anything we have.

Pumped hydro. Gravitational potential energy is the lowest-loss energy storage known to man.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:40:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two problems with this: firstly, as you scale up wind to a bigger proportion of the grid, the quality of your sites degrades quickly, and this is really bad for their economics (this is why nearly all current danish build is at sea or replacement of existant turbines, all quality sites are in use) Secondly..

Eh, well, it appears you are wrong. At least in europe. The eocd, EU, and IEA studies I just googled again to check, all site prices per kwh for new nuclear a bit below that of wind, and while both wind and nuclear really do require pumped storage for optimal operation, the storage needed for nuclear should be much smaller, and thus cheaper than that needed for wind. The numbers I can find for the US look a heck of a lot more favorable for wind than the european ones, I will freely grant, but we have neither a great plains to place windmills on, nor a legal system that allows opponents to increase capital costs via nusiance lawsuits.

by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 07:46:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm.. further notes: The base issue is that I belive global warming is a serious issue, and that it needs to be solved. "doing some good", "gradual improvements", "20 % decrease in carbon emmisions"- all these are things that strike me as "Not fracking good enough".
Carbon has to be entirely removed from electricity production, because nothing can really be done to clean up transport, industry or heating without clean electricity. Further, we need to not only clean up electricity production, we need to clean it up while anticipating and accomodating a vast increase in electricity demand. Conservation is all well and good, but any decrease in electricity consumption your gain from more efficient appliances and tvs, ect is going to evaporate when you plug in your electric car to your mains, not to mention what asking industry to burn as little gas and coal as possible will do to demand.
If the future is low carbon, it is also, nessesarily,a world of extremely high electicity consumption.  

There are extant examples of wholly carbon free electricity grids. They all rely on favorable geology (hydro, geotermal) and nuclear. And these technologies can be scaled up to meet a future with very high electricity demand, so these are the technologies we should deploy. We know this will work, because it already does. In this context, wind is, basically, nothing but a distraction. The concrete in the bases would be better poured into containment domes, and the steel better used in pressure vessles.

(note that I am not really a fan of the extant nuclear industry either. Its not ambitious enough, by far. We need to increase our build rate by orders of magnitude)

by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 08:09:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that the likely new uses for electricity, in particular for personal transport via electricla cars, will be highly compatible with wind as they will provide for highly flexible decentralised storage capacity...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 08:30:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why not run that extra night time energy to biodiesel-from-algae factories?

double plus good...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:25:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... plugin hybrid buses of various sizes for extending the range of dedicated transport corridors - they plug in for shorter intervals through the day, and then for an extended spell overnight so they can off the battery for the first part of their service day.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 12:22:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"doing some good", "gradual improvements", "20 % decrease in carbon emmisions"- all these are things that strike me as "Not fracking good enough".
Carbon has to be entirely removed from electricity production, because nothing can really be done to clean up transport, industry or heating without clean electricity.

Then I flatly fail to comprehend why you take issue with wind and solar. To achieve that target - which seems like a sensible and responsible thing to do - you'll need to mobilise a considerable fraction of our industrial capacity. Ignoring an entire class of energy technology strikes me as a poor way to mobilise industrial capacity swiftly.

any decrease in electricity consumption your gain from more efficient appliances and tvs, ect is going to evaporate when you plug in your electric car to your mains

Cars are never going to be economical for bulk transportation over middling to long distances. The thermodynamics favour rail and water too massively for that. So no, there will not be a massive migration to electrical cars. There will be a considerable migration to electrical trains, but they are more energy-efficient than cars pr. person-km and ton-km. By around an order of magnitude...

not to mention what asking industry to burn as little gas and coal as possible will do to demand.

Presuming that industrial production continues at its present pace and energy intensity. Which is a dubious assumption, since we are entering a century of widespread raw material scarcity (not just energy, though that is certainly the most pressing constraint).

And, frankly, much of what is being produced is worthless garbage that we would be better off without.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 09:09:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While there is reasonable consensus on wind costs, the range for nukes is a lot bigger, and it's often hard to know what's the hidden bias of the organisation doing the estimate.

The International Energy Agency (which I'd described as mildy pro-nuke, and mildly anti-wind) provided this in its 2007 outlook:

So: fairly comparable costs for wind and nukes.

French numbers (by the DGEMP) tend to be lower, but French numbers are critically dependent on public or quasi-public cost of funding for the investment - and using such cost of funding for wind would also do wonders for its cost (and thus my recommendantion to do such public funding in both sectors).

Altogether, I'd say that well-run, publicly funded nuclear MWh are somewhat cheaper than wind, but the range for nuclear cost, both for uncertainty and to discount for less-well run organisations, is much higher for nuclear.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 08:29:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
firstly, as you scale up wind to a bigger proportion of the grid, the quality of your sites degrades quickly

So what? That's an argument against trying for 100 % wind, which is a crude straw man that nobody is defending.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 08:59:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the issue is that I am advocating that the world should move to a "french" energy mix of "Nukes + hydro" only as a strategy to combat global warming, and people invariably respond with "we should build wind instead". in that context, the relevant cost of wind is the cost of wind in a wholly wind+hydro grid. Yes?
Otherwise the response is entirely besides the point.
by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 09:48:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The relevant comparison is between grids with different mixes of wind, solar, nuke and hydro.

You propose a 0/0/80/20 mix.

I tell you that this is unlikely to be economical, and is susceptible to all the normal risks of monocropping vis-a-vis systemic failures.

A 80/0/0/20 mix is equally unlikely to be economical, but that is irrelevant, because no sane person proposes this mix. Personally, I could see a 45/25/10/20 mix, if solar matures rapidly, or a 45/10/25/20 mix if it does not. Give or take ten to twenty percentage points.

Alternatively, one can consider the marginal cost of adding capacity. Since nuclear has already harvested all the economies of scale that are likely to apply, you are facing constant or increasing marginal cost as you add nuclear to the energy mix. Wind has harvested much but not all of its economies of scale, so for a while you're going to see declining marginal cost before they start going up again.

Now, in any scenario where you have two or more factors of production that all have constant or rising marginal cost, it makes sense to diversify. This is really, really simple arithmetic...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:00:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"We should build wind instead" is a straw man. We should build wind as well.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:02:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there somebody here who is defending a 100% wind+hydro solution? Most people here seem to be in favour of a heterogeneous solution appropriate to the locality - so smart grid, whatever renewables are available and reasonably cost efficient (wind, hydro, wave, biofuels, whatever).

There is an issue around nuclear power: some people see it in terms of cost benefit analysis and some simply believe that the risks are such as to exclude it - they effectively belief the costs are unbounded. You can't solve that by talking about cost.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:01:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that France relies on balancing via its exports to Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, the French model is not transferable to the entirety of the world or even just Europe, the same way US/UK capitalism isn't.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:18:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am aware of that- France has not invested nearly enough money in pumped storage, vis-a-vis nukes. The mix, if you will, is somewhat off. This however, isnt really an insurmountable problem, but rather a question of proper planning.
by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:40:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:

Two problems with this: firstly, as you scale up wind to a bigger proportion of the grid, the quality of your sites degrades quickly, and this is really bad for their economics (this is why nearly all current danish build is at sea or replacement of existant turbines, all quality sites are in use) Secondly..
Eh, well, it appears you are wrong. At least in europe. The eocd, EU, and IEA studies I just googled again to check, all site prices per kwh for new nuclear a bit below that of wind, and while both wind and nuclear really do require pumped storage for optimal operation, the storage needed for nuclear should be much smaller, and thus cheaper than that needed for wind. The numbers I can find for the US look a heck of a lot more favorable for wind than the european ones, I will freely grant, but we have neither a great plains to place windmills on, nor a legal system that allows opponents to increase capital costs via nusiance lawsuits.

1.  Quality of sites degrade quickly, using tiny Denmark as an example?  Straw man AND false.  Of course in Europe coastal sites have stronger mean annual winds, but "degradation" doesn't equal unviable. Long-term cost of energy calculations for wind include the less productive inland sites, which also have lower O&M costs. Secondly, the industry has developed a generation of multi-megawatt scale turbines to take advantage of inland winds, with shifted power curves and larger rotors. Third, even in northern Germany, so-called packed, there's enough virgin sites remaining for years of intense build-out.  The situation is actually a socio-political one, solved as people become more at ease living with windparks.

There is barely a replacement industry in Denmark, and it's because of government policies, not lack of sites.  Reality is the political and utility will has CHOSEN to go offshore, partly because we need to anyway, but also to avoid the socio-political issues.  And inland sites don't have "bad economics" when properly sited, simply not as good as coastal areas, which have other mixed use problems.  Further, for those who constantly analyze actual data, a significant portion of "degradation" comes from poor siting, which is easy to remedy.

  1.  In most places in the world, and this discussion is global, not just nuclear in Denmark, we are so far from site saturation that the quantifiable effects won't be apparent for 15-20 years.  Europe doesn't need the Great Plains, simply fill where the resource warrants, AND grow the virtually separate offshore industry. But even in Europe, the scale of the resource not yet developed is significant.

  2.  Wind and nuclear require pumped storage to be optimal?  No, generation requires optimal to be optimal, and usually, that's a very dynamic mix of a host of both supply and demand-side technologies.  Of which one might be pumped storage, with the right siting as in large hydro.  And since we're not near the levels of wind penetration necessitating storage technologies yet, why not just develop the grid marginally as it comes, step by step, instead of comparing today with 12-15 years down the road?  By that time compressed air is just as likely to be viable as pumped hydro.

  3.  Costs.  Wind costs of course are well known, but that doesn't mean the IEA etc. properly accounts for them.  Real nuclear costs depend completely upon the assumptions used, and in the case of nuclear, are far more likely to be off than for wind.  Even so, there is considerable debate on the accuracy of externalities (discussed downthread) at present, when indeed all externalities are even included. I have yet to see a nuclear study which properly accounts for cooling water externalities, for example. (He'll take the bait on this one.)

Again, you include pumped storage when comparing nukes and wind, and that's also a straw dog.

US costs "heck of a lot more favorable for wind than European ones?" Europe and the US both have a wide mix of wind resources, even if the Great Plains is the US's Saudi Arabia.  When one factors in proximity to load, transmission issues and grid upgrades, and distance in general, Europe has it all over the US.  Further, turbines in Europe are currently 2-5% more efficient than when the same turbines are placed in the US, when adjusting for wind differences.  This is because of turbulence (minor) and infrastructure (major.)  The European infrastructure advantage will disappear over time, but turbulence issues will remain.

Bottom line on costs, as Colman pointed out, I'm one who uses the costs that are current, knowing that there's a huge margin of error remaining.  In the case of nuclear, it never goes down, and no one can yet assume externalities are properly accounted for.

5.  "increase capital costs via nuisance lawsuits?"  Wave your true colors here, Thomas.  We're not talking about customers not knowing how to hold a cup of hot coffee.  We're talking about the right of the citizenry to demand true accounting, and science-based environmental impact statements which include real assessment of externalities.  That's only a nuisance in dictatorships, or perhaps centralized control of power generation. Say what you will, the nuclear industry has been guilty of lying and malfeasance throughout the world, on a major scale, to this day.  It's even too soon to know if France is the exception or not, but everywhere else in the world the evidence is in, and the track record of deceit is appalling.  Every month for the past three decades another example of lies and cover-ups is reported, the latest being yesterday's fine to Babcock and Wilcox for not reporting an emergency according the US NRC regulation.

Given the half-lives involved in the technology, calling what remains of the system of legal redress a "nuisance" denotes a certain lack of reality in your viewpoint, or at best a world view needing some enlightenment.

Though you won this round, as I spent over nearly three hours reading and writing here, when i should have been focused on reality.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 02:44:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I use Denmark as an example, because its where I live, and the actual, historical and projected, results of denmarks choice of wind over nukes - and that was explicitly the political choice made - has been catastropic for the enviorment. Denmark has the highest per capita emissions of any country in the union due to this choice, and looking at the future planned and projected build, we will catch up with where france is now.. The sunday after never.
Thus whenever I hear someone advocate wind and efficiency as a answer to AGW, I see red. This isnt useful, because said rage shines through in every argument I make, which makes me less persuasive.

Adressing a few of your points:
I include pumped storage because I am in no way interested in what the cost of a given energy source is in a grid that loadbalances with natural gas. I consider natural gas burning for power a grossly unacceptable waste of a valuable resource, a irresponsible risk to the climate, and absurdly expensive. With current technology, that means supply-side loadbalancing has to be done with hydro or throtthling of nukes. If we invent a cheaper solution for energystorage, that would be wonderful, but its not really relevant for generation.

The US economics are more favorable because the US is less densely populated, which means that all else equal, it has more good wind sites per capita.
Mackay made a very illustrative graph about this, sec..
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/29/business/energy-environment/29iht-sustain.html

Increasing nuclear cost via nusiance lawsuits was, and remains, an explicit strategy of american anti-nuclear activists. They do not hide or deny this. I can go qoute hunting, but it isnt very relevant for a discussion of global energy strategy as it is simply an unique economic hazard specific to the US nuclear industry, and equating it to due dilligence hearings in europe or elsewhere would be wholly false, in either direction.

Externality studies are an obsession of mine, and ExternE is in fact what converted me to a nuclear advocate, because it put numbers on exactly how much damage our current, coal and gas based grid is doing year in, year out. Every coal plant in operation is a slow-motion disaster. and looking at the actual methods used, arguing with a straight face that these studies are in any way lowballing the damage of nuclear is impossible. There are uncertainties, yes. But they are of the "we have no good feel for how much we are overstating the danger of nuclear here". kind.

.. Waste heat ecological impact? Ehh.. there is one. Any heat engine of this size is going to heat the water body it uses for cooling, which shifts ecological balances of which species thrive in that strech of water.  For plants near the sea, this essentially doesnt matter, because the sea is too big a heat sink to affect, and if you are directly replacing a coal plant with a nuke plant in the same location, it doesnt matter either, since after decades of operation, the local water system will have adapted to the warmer water, and removing the heat source would be the disruptive act. This is not, in general, a very worrysome type of enviormental impact, however. as the footprint is minute, and non-toxic.

by Thomas on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 04:47:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, if you want to talk about Denmark, and want to talk about political decisions, you are remiss in not mentioning that if there had been a caretaker government during the last ten years, we would have had a higher wind penetration and a lower CO2 footprint.

Disallowing nuclear power is not the only conscious political choice Denmark has made. Disallowing new wind farms is another conscious political choice. Banning congestion charges is another conscious political choice. Building two new highways every time we do maintenance on one railway line is a conscious political choice.

So let's not pretend that Denmark is an example of a wind/conservation strategy. That was almost true in the 90s, but elections have consequences. Specifically, the election of the current crop of anti-wind, pro-car, anti-conservation, neoliberals had disastrous consequences.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 05:33:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for a polite and reasoned response, considering your wind rage, but your underlying assumptions still are quite strange.

  1.  I have no idea about per capita emissions in Denmark, but it is not because of wind.  one doesn't begin with a clean sheet and build out from there, one starts with what already exists, it's called reality.  Existing fossil plants matter, the game is the degree with which wind supplants their operation.  Period.  One then has the future to restructure the game.  And you seem to be ignoring a decade of weird and backward political decisions in Denmark, which have far more to do with DK emissions than the lowering which wind continues to provide.

  2. Wind catastrophic for the environment?  In which parallel universe does that occur?

  3.  Wind and efficiency as an answer to AGW makes you see red?  Given that globally, historically, and in any study ever published efficiency (advanced motors, insulation, double glazing, etc.) is the cheapest source of heat and power, you undercut your arguments by relying on your own blind spot.

  4.  Not being interested in load-balancing with natural gas ignores current reality around the globe.  We start from where we are, again, not with a clean slate.  Since gas plant exists, we begin by cutting it back.

  5. wind sites per capita?  Brilliant, you've developed an obfuscating statistic which not only has no bearing on energy decision-making, but ignores cabling costs (transmission) which, in the case of electricity, have something to do with long-term cost of energy.  McKay's "illustrative graphs" also have nothing to do with reality, because while watts/m2 of say, rotor diameter, is a useful number when properly framed, it's a useless number for policy decisions because the land itself doesn't use energy.  not to mention his numbers for wind just happen to be wrong.

  6. That anti-nuclear activists use the system of laws to make their case is a function of democracy, just as pro-nuclear lobbies are allowed obscene advertising budgets.  Neither negates the functioning of a free society, though obscene budgets do distort the system.  Why, the court system is also used by scientists and engineers, and even whistleblowers, to make their case.  But you're right, dictatorships with no right of redress can be more efficient, even if disastrous. So yes, i do equate it with due diligence, which is part of our society.

  7.  ExternE.  How exactly did you get from pointing out the dangers of coal to "arguing with a straight face that these studies are in any way lowballing the damage of nuclear is impossible. There are uncertainties, yes."  Unfuckingcertainties?  You slay me, master.  "we have no good feel for how much we are overstating the danger of nuclear here".  That's your best yet.  Consensus studies from Japan, the US, Russia, North Korea and Mars show that nuclear power dangers have been overestimated by approximately 23%.

  8.  You obviously don't give a shit about ecological impact, because while in an equation a sea as a heat sink is big, the funny thing is just like the atmosphere, which has microclimates, so does ecology have micro environments which are integral parts of the chain.  By your logic, taking the top off 20 mountains doesn't matter if 200 are left pristine.   PS, given the data from water tables around the world, you should be very careful how you banty about the words minute and non-toxic.  Scientific heavyweights might have your arguments for lunch.

  9.  All this brings up the question of who you are.  What is your job, or how do you support yourself?  Who pays for your diligent efforts to parse irrelevant data, and make arguments based upon, umh, something?  More to the point, do you receive any funds from a particular lobby group, or industry association, or corporation?

  10.  Well, you won again, given the time i've taken.  Though i haven't even mentioned the points from my previous comment which you haven't addressed.


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 06:30:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re 9: now now! Except for you and Jérôme, all who argue energy on ET are from outside the energy sector, yet do spend diligent effort to parse relevant or irrelevant data and argue passionately without being paid. (While I too am perplexed f.e. how the Danish wind energy situation could be mis-represented this much, I think politicial bias or being young could explain it too.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 07:30:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i apologize if that seems harsh, in reality i'd merely like to know where Thomas is coming from, and given some of his statements, he should disclose that to the community here. He should also realize that this is not anti-nuclear site, but has advocates from several viewpoints, including pro-nuclear.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 07:35:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you going to assume anyone who is a pro-nuclear advocate is a paid shill?

Thomas' position is not unusual, including his tone. Do you remember Ustenzel?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 08:10:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hold on, there was no assumption, just a legitimate question, so far ignored.  And i don't have any recollection of Ustenzel.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 09:02:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uztenzel was extremely pro-nuclear and abrasive. I believe he was a computer scientist, not an oil shill. He was a fan of John Mc Carthy if I am not mistaken.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 09:46:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. The decisions not to expand wind further in denmark have a hell of a lot to do with the costs of loadbalancing it. That is one reason I keep bringing up storage - In the nordpool electricity market, the windspeed in Denmark moves the price of power a lot, which means that peak electricity from wind is given away for free, or sold at outright negative prices, while cover for low winds provokes high spot prices on electricity. This means that for denmark, the marginal cost of adding more wind to the system are in fact very high, since it would make this situation worse.

  2. This one. The energy debate in Denmark post the 70s oil crisis was explicitly between a bet on nuclear and a bet on renewables. Looking at the actual consequences of the choice made, when compared to the people who came down on the other side of the fence, IE: Sweden, France, the wrong side won in Denmark.

  3. efficiency is shiny, but it tends to induce jevrons paradox effects, so I dont trust it as a solution to AGW. Better energy efficiency will make mankind richer, it will only reduce actual energy use if future generations behave in ways no past generation of mankind ever has, and use machines less while they get cheaper to use..

  4. still dont care. Gas has to go.

  5. The point I am trying to make is that wind is a less appropriate technology in tokyo than it is in Texas. Which part of this is controversial?

  6. I have no objection to due dilligence, or the role of the legal system in holding polluters accountable. That has nothing to do with the perversion of the legal system some groups have engaged in. And boasted off. Note that I am not engaging in conspiracy theory here, the activists themselves publically stated that they sued to raise nuclears costs.

  7. Have you read externe? Mostly I am talking about things like the calculation of casualties from c14 emmisions. Summing casualties over a projected future population of nine billion over the next 100000 years while assuming cancer survival rates equal to todays, with a 0 discount rate is... Silly. Thats not a possible future. If mankind is still about in a thousand years, noone is going to be dying from cancer, and if we arent, noone will be dying of cancer either.

  8. Say what? I bloody well hope noone runs cooling, for any powersource,  off water drawn from the watertable. That would be criminal. There are plants that use grey water, but thats not the same thing.

  9. Tech support! For electronics. Also student, but that doesnt pay any bills.
by Thomas on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 09:34:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1) the balancing is rather easy technically as there is a lot of hydro in the Nordpool. Denmark selling power at low prices and buying it a higher prices from Norway or Sweden does not negate the benefits of wind, it's just a question of who gets that benefit. Thereality is that wind brings down prices, on average (via the merit order effect), with an overall benefit to consumers (ans a loss to traditional power generators) which is larger than the cost of the feed-in tariff for wind.

So, irrespective of the cost to Danish generators (and you should be happy about coal-plants oweners losing money, right?); it's a positive to Danish consumers and taxpayers.

3) that's an argument not to do anything.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 10:07:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The energy debate in Denmark post the 70s oil crisis was explicitly between a bet on nuclear and a bet on renewables. Looking at the actual consequences of the choice made, when compared to the people who came down on the other side of the fence, IE: Sweden, France, the wrong side won in Denmark.
You could make this the topic of your first diary.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 10:15:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but it is a reason to expect that if a plan for  future energy supply includes "and then electricty demand drops by 20%" at any stage, its probably not going to work out well.
by Thomas on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 10:42:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The decisions not to expand wind further in denmark have a hell of a lot to do with the costs of loadbalancing it.

The decision not to continue expanding wind in Denmark has nothing to do with engineering and everything to do with the fact that Fogh and that useful idiot he installed as minister for the environment hated Sven Auken's guts. Therefore, any project that Sven Auken liked was bad simply by virtue of the fact that Sven Auken liked it. Sven Auken liked wind. Therefore, wind was bad.

(Yes, for more than half a decade, Denmark based our policy in a vital strategic sector like energy supply on "not invented here" and personal animosity towards the outgoing administration. Yes, Danish right-wing politicians really are that petty and stupid.)

efficiency is shiny, but it tends to induce jevrons paradox effects

Only under laissez-faire. In a properly managed industrial production economy, there is nothing which prevents you from adjusting product taxes to compensate for lower cost.

And as far as heat and electricity goes, Jevron's effects are minor to negligible, because heat and electricity are infrastructure, not consumer goods.

If mankind is still about in a thousand years, noone is going to be dying from cancer

And by 2010, we'll have nuclear-powered airplanes. Oh, wait...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 10:22:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas, thanks for letting me know something about you.  Me, pioneer in windpower from the 70's on (that's 1970's), developed first utility-scale wind park in the world, and have been influential in energy policy at both Federal and State policy levels.  One of my teachers is a father of windpower in DK, and former head of RISO Labs.  Once found an entire set of blueprints and binders for an Oregon nuke plant in someone's garbage. and read them.

Are you open to changing your views when confronted with evidence, i am.

  1.  Annual costs are the marker for evaluating electricity prices, not short-term spot prices high or low or negative.  Your marginal cost of adding DK wind is not calculated upon spot prices, nor does it include what most other people believe are benefits.  But i'll let the Danes here contest this point.

  2.  Point conceded.  Wind IS a catastrophe for the environment, you are correct, especially as you have evaluated the "actual consequences" of the two technologies so well, and so far into the future.

  3.  Perhaps you don't trust energy efficiency, but then you wouldn't trust a half century of science, engineering and financial analysis which says otherwise either.

  4.  Correct again, gas has to go.  But if it's the cleanest of all the fossils, when should it go?  Tonight?  After we C4 all the coal plants tomorrow morning?  Perhaps you should care, then you might be helpful in enabling a reasonable transition.

  5.  Now you wrapped the knot around your neck.  Who's advocating wind in Tokyo, or Christiania for that matter, and how does that relate to your previous statement regarding wind/capita and watts/m2?  Which part controversial?  The parts that make no sense.

  6.  Well, they are certainly good activists, if they raised nuclear costs all by their lonesomes.  You should hire those guys to your side, no?  Or perhaps the utility lawyers were drunk, and didn't give it their best shot?

  7.  Have i read ExternE?  I was one of the leading players working years to get externalities mentioned, much less accurately accounted, including testimony before the California Public Utilities Commission and Congress.  You could say that ExternE came out of the work I and many others performed to set the stage.  So yes, i've read that and others, as well as those who investigate its shortcomings.

Your future cancer discussion is pretty absurd, so i'll let it stand on it's own.

  1.  No one said ground water was used for cooling.  Cooling discussion was about your myopia on what a sea or air ecosystem is, and ground water contamination is a very real and separate issue.

  2.  again, thanks for answering, now we know a bit more about you.  But i'm betting you have some better goal in life, and that tech support is not it, it's just a job for now.  What do you want to be doing in ten years?


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 11:02:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Am I the only one that finds
But i'm betting you have some better goal in life, and that tech support is not it, it's just a job for now.  What do you want to be doing in ten years?
slightly patronizing?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 11:27:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no i don't find it patronizing, others may.  once i found out he's a student i ask such questions, same as i'd ask a waitress, partly because i'm actually interested in where Thomas is heading.

Poor phrasing, yeah, grant you that.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 12:40:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i'm actually interested in where Thomas is heading

Yeah, right, just in your previous comment you were questioning his motives.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 12:59:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no, you interpreted it as that. i asked because it was a possibility, period.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 01:32:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this subthread has just passed the official EU heat/light threshold for electrical equipment...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 01:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While I'm generally with you on the substance of the argument, I think you are using a rather too combative tone here.

We have a lot of arguments to defend the qualities of wind power and critique some of the claims made by Thomas, so let's focus on these rather than on ad hominems. While partial to nuclear, Thomas' arguments are rational and follow traditional lines that we are all-too-familar with, so let's just respond as we know we can rather than question his motives or good faith.

Don't forget that even within the wind industry, many of the points we regularly make here on ET are not that well known (such as the size of merit-order effect on prices of wind).

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 11:49:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may, and well-taken.  Except for the part of rational argument.  if you go through the thread, there's a host of statements that are not rational, spinned opinion at best, which of course he's entitled to.  But then he's also entitled to a sharp answer.

i think i'll just leave it alone.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 12:37:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dude, which part of this is rational argument exactly? I see argument by authority, argument by derision, argument by intimidation, argument by CV...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 01:03:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migs, i'm not going to post what i wrote in answer to this.  Just know that it's obvious from my very first comment on in what direction i was going here, and that's writerly, not rationally on a very serious issue to me.  I welcome your interpretation, just don't call me Dude when it's a serious comment again.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 02:06:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
3. efficiency is shiny, but it tends to induce jevrons paradox effects, so I dont trust it as a solution to AGW. Better energy efficiency will make mankind richer, it will only reduce actual energy use if future generations behave in ways no past generation of mankind ever has, and use machines less while they get cheaper to use.

The Jevons paradox goes beyond a normal division of the gains of efficiency between demand and supply to an increase in quantity demanded of the final product exceeding the efficiency gain.

However, where Jevon first observed it, it was in a market for a product where large numbers of low income consumers faced a tight budget constraint, and reduction of the price of coal-fired heat allowed switching to coal burning furnaces from, eg, wood.

Its a common abuse of the Jevon's paradox itself, as well as the far more common cases where Jevon's effect does not apply but the reduction in consumption of the input is less than the efficiency gain, to take it from arguing against sole reliance on efficiency gains - the techno-cornucopian position - to arguing against the benefit of pursuing efficiency gains at all.

We already know that efficiency gains alone are not going to be enough, because as we mine the easiest to reach inefficiencies, the result is a more efficient system with less inefficiency to be mined.

But that is no argument against replacing policies that support and encourage inefficient energy use with policies that support and encourage more efficient use. Its just an argument that efficiency on its own is not sufficient.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 11:48:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The decisions not to expand wind further in denmark have a hell of a lot to do with the costs of loadbalancing it.

Demonstrably, utterly false. Why do you keep pushing this fantasy? The policy decisions of the Fogh cabinet (which I listed in a previous comment, and which you didn't deny but switched to criticise the present policy of parties) and their justifications are well known, as are their effects. And it is also well known that the Danish public utilities themselves prepared studies already back then showing that wind with 50% grid penetration can be easily be integrated in the current grid.

Gas has to go.

Yes, and before it, coal. While gas plants are less CO2 intensive and cheaper for load balancing than coal or oil, on the long run we need CO2-free peaker plants/energy storage, whatever will provide baseload. Now: are you advocating inaction on baseload until 100% replacement of peaker plants is possible?...

wind is a less appropriate technology in tokyo than it is in Texas

This is not an argument but flashy rhetoric. Europe is not one single megapolis like Tokyo, and suburban sprawl USA (including large swathes of Texas) is not a wilderness area like you imagine Texas.

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 03:37:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Increasing nuclear cost via nusiance lawsuits was, and remains, an explicit strategy of american anti-nuclear activists.

If those lawsuits are without merit, and the activists lose them, then it's the activists' costs that increases, not that of nuclear. If the lawsuits are with merit, then what exactly are you complaining about? They are only turning externalities into internalities.

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 07:07:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The cost of the lawsuit to the activists doing the suing is the cost of lawyers fees, which is often pro-bono, and if the judge takes particular offense at the waste of time, they get stuck with court costs as well. The cost to the utility are lawyers fees, distruption to construction schedules, interest accumulated on building loans for 3 billion dollar projects, and the purchase of electricity from merchant operators to cover the commitments the not-yet-operating plant isnt meeting. This is not a symmetrical cost, and it was successful in deterring any build whatsoever in the us for decades. If the laws congress has recently passed in the nuclear area seem strange, its because they are designed to counter this tactic.
by Thomas on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 09:03:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Utility legal fees are built into overhead costs (and to some degree rate-recovered), activist lawyers are not often pro-bono, there is no construction schedule prior to permits being issued (just a plan), there are no electricity commitments which must be covered by merchant plants or any other sources. And the US Congress doesn't pass laws to counter activist tactics, though it may pass laws to streamline the nuclear permitting process.

What deterred US nuclear build for decades had little or nothing to do with activist tactics, rather cost and safety issues, as well as little utility desire to counter the prevailing zeitgeist.  Add to that the ease of developing various nat gas, because of artificially low fossil prices, and ease and cost of financing.

Please feel free to rejoin reality at any time.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 09:15:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If those lawsuits are without merit, and the activists lose them, then it's the activists' costs that increases, not that of nuclear.

Not necessarily. Not all American states have anti-SLAPP statutes on the books, and the winning side is not always awarded compensation for their costs.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 10:03:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
denmarks choice of wind over nukes

Sigh. That was the nighties. Then came the naughties, and Anders Fogh Rasmussen made sure to change the credits system so that on-shore installations practically stopped (they only had a second boost thanks to a time-limited repowering programme, which proveed uncomfortably successful for the government); and he halted the projecting of the next off-shore farms in the schedule made law by the previous SocDem government, with the excuse that Denmark already reached the foreseeen share of renewables. (Yes, projecting began again five years later, but you'll see its effects on Denmark's CO2 emissions only in the coming years.)

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 07:14:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The overall failure of the drive for wind cannot be blamed on Fogh, much as I would like to - The energy plans of every party actually elected to the folkting are publically available, and noone in spitting distance of the levers of power advocate a mix, or for that matter, a level of investment, that would actually allow us to dynamite the coal plants.

(I watched bits of connie hedegårds confirmation hearing this morning. Depressing as fuck, as she was standing by the danish consensus on energy policy, and it is a consensus that has failed to deliver)

by Thomas on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 08:54:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For suitable definition of "spitting distance."

SF has a coal phaseout policy.

Now, if you subscribe to the theory that SF is firmly installed in S' back pocket, that doesn't matter. But if you subscribe to that theory, you really rather need to take a look at the last EP and municipal elections...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 10:03:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The overall failure of the drive for wind cannot be blamed on Fogh, much as I would like to - The energy plans of every party actually elected to the folkting are publically available

Don't mix past and present. I don't know what the parties current plans are, but the overall failure over the past decade can be blamed 100% on Fogh. The previous SocDem plan was all-out.

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 03:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What can be said is that a partial commitment to wind was not sufficient to reduce high existing emissions sufficiently (but the question of how the emissions were reduced compared to coal-dominated BAU is an open one)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 09:48:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. If balancing needs it, you can shut down wind farms the same way they are shut down in storms. Throwing away potential electricity production? You always have to do that with peaker plants.

  2. The larger an area you consider, the more unlikely it will be that all wind farms will run at 100% (or 0%) capacity at the same time. That is, in effect, we could say that the nameplate capacity of wind power for a large area is less than the sum of nameplate capacity for the individual turbines.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 04:19:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:

have a way to store that surplus.

that's where the electric cars in everyones' garages come in, topping up all night long.

or have downtown daytime charging stations for all the office workers' parked cars, that themselves are charged up during the windy nights.

having 300% of nameplate would also lower the price to the public, no?

lowered tax revenue from utilities' lower income could be boosted in compensation, by schemes like industrial locations to attract new business investment in low footprint businesses, offering extra low electricity rates, especially for night time automatised production facilities.

i don't see why a simpler, lower-tech version could be offered to small, poor countries with wind too, with weights lifted through electrical power at night, left to descend during the day, and geared to turbines that would charge transport batteries or generate current for daytime use on windless days.

all the shoreline communities with exposure to the trade winds would qualify, i imagine.

in a planet that is moving into a more active seismical cycle, might it not be foolish to think we know the future costs of storing nuclear waste are going to remain stable?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:14:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in a planet that is moving into a more active seismical cycle

What?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:15:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe a Mayan calendar reference?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:24:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well, is that bullshit? you can say so, as you know!

i installed that quake extension for firefox, it is quite eye-opening, though i set it low at 3.

i'm not that far from l'aquila, and in a 400 year old house, so i do think about it a lot.

i don't have the stats, do you?

the fact that it's prophesied by numerous seers from many cultures is not adding to my concern, at least on a conscious level, lol.

try the extension, the popups are interesting enough as you realise how much rocking is going on globally.

when the screen starts shaking, (local quivers), as it has the last two days in a row here, i start coiling my muscles, ready to spring somewhere safe(r).

i know science can't predict earthquakes very well yet, but it's getting good at linking the information. having indonesia and l'aquila last year, and haiti this year may be no formal trend, but it's walking and quacking, i'll be thinking about statistics i'm sure as i leap from a window!

ireland is unusually blessed with stability in this regard...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 09:24:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no reason to think it isn't bullshit: you're proposing the idea, you provide the evidence.

It sounds like you're saying that because you're more aware of quakes there must be more of them, which would be bullshit. I assume that's not what you mean.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 09:45:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i don't have the stats, do you?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 09:49:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
USGS:

Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase?

Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase?

We continue to be asked by many people throughout the world if earthquakes are on the increase. Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant.

A partial explanation may lie in the fact that in the last twenty years, we have definitely had an increase in the number of earthquakes we have been able to locate each year. This is because of the tremendous increase in the number of seismograph stations in the world and the many improvements in global communications. In 1931, there were about 350 stations operating in the world; today, there are more than 8,000 stations and the data now comes in rapidly from these stations by electronic mail, internet and satellite. This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed us and other seismological centers to locate earthquakes more rapidly and to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years. The NEIC now locates about 20,000 earthquakes each year or approximately 50 per day. Also, because of the improvements in communications and the increased interest in the environment and natural disasters, the public now learns about more earthquakes.

According to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 17 major earthquakes (7.0 - 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) in any given year.

Also, some stats here.

The stats are interesting - numbers for catastrophic quakes remain relatively constant, very small earthquake numbers have dropped, and there was a trend and spike for mid-sized earthquakes that peaked in 2008.

I'm not totally convinced that was an effect of improved monitoring. You'd need to check info about the total number of monitoring stations to know for sure.

This was 2000 to 2010 only. Numbers for previous decades are available, if anyone wants to dig through them.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 10:22:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks TBG, very interesting.

apologies to all for not being fact based, and thanks to Colman for calling it out.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 11:23:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are likely more efficient means of load shifting than trying to store energy with mechanical weights - eg, off-peak AC in the fancy part of downtown provided by making ice off-peak and circulating air through the iceblocks for cooling during the day, and further development of the lower capital cost Ammonia production techniques than the traditional one, which are powered by electricity - given the energy intensity of Ammonia production, switching cells offline when conserving load and running at 100% when there is what would otherwise be stranded wind is a promising line.

In the larger cities of most low income countries (and in most low income countries, electric grids are most commonly in place in the larger cities), the excess in demand over supply capacity is addressed by system wide brown-outs and rolling black-outs, and as a result, there is widely dispersed energy storage to cope. If substantial wind capacity is added, the intermittent brown-outs become less frequent, as does the number of days per month that any given neighborhood is blacked out.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 03:03:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's like arguing that because no one has solved the problem of nuclear waste, nuke plants aren't viable.

The obvious hole in the logic is that no one - not even Jerome - is suggesting that wind should supply 100% of average power.

The less obvious hole is that if you apply simple conservation strategies - insulating houses and buildings, adding smart distribution systems, hanging people who buy kw plasma TVs from lamp posts, forcing everyone who works on Wall St to get a proper job - the required average load can be decreased significantly.

Add microgeneration, or even basic passive solar for hot water, and you can create local energy independence which enhances national and international energy policy.

Unreliability isn't an issue for wind. If you have a network of ten or more farms with reliable but intermittent wind profiles, the statistical distribution more or less guarantees a supply that's steady enough for the base load.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:55:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From an message by Graeme Bathurst on the Claverton Group. It should pop up online somewhere but I haven't found the right link. This is written with the UK system in mind, but the logic stands anywhere:


Consider a hypothetical system:

50GW peak demand, 25GW annual average (219TWh).

This requires 55.6GW of dispatchable plant to secure the demand based on a 90% average capacity credit (50GW/0.9). This plant has a combined average utilisation or capacity factor of 45% (25GW/55.6GW).

Consider a target of 10% of energy from wind with a capacity factor of 30%. This requires 8.3GW of installed capacity (21.9TWh).

The wind has a capacity credit of 10% which means we can rely on 0.83GW at time of system peak.  This requires 54.6GW (49.17GW and 90% cc) of dispatchable generation to secure the peak demand. The wind contributes 1.7% to the system peak demand.  The dispatchable generation has an average utilisation of 42%.

Taking this up a level, consider a target of 50% of energy from wind based on the same system and numbers.

50% wind energy means 109.5TWh or 41.5GW of installed wind capacity. At time of system peak we can rely on 4.2GW or 8.4% of system peak demand. This therefore requires 50.9GW (45.8GW/90%) of dispatchable generation. This generation has an average utilisation of 25%.

If in the 50% scenario you have about 15GW of nuclear running at 80% capacity factor (105TWh) and 90% capacity credit, then the remaining 35GW of plant will have an average utilisation of 1.5% (4.5TWh). The total system margin is around 92GW to service a 50GW peak or 25GW average system demand.

Demand reduction measures can be brought in to these scenarios to flex the demand up or down, as can wind constraints for the cases when the wind exceeds the demand (+ interconnector capacity and external market sink). However to address the usage of capacity factor and capacity credits I hope that the above is clear and helpful.

For those of you with CapEx, fuel and O&M costs, plug these plant type capacities into a spreadsheet and calculate the cost per kWh produced. That will give you a good baseline for scenario comparisons.  There are a range of other factors such as maintaining minimum fault levels, system inertia, spinning reserves and reactive reserves that are not factored in here that complicate, but do not detract from, the principles described here.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:00:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... wind turbine is being installed on top of the other one.

That is, you are assuming that when wind turbines are added, each wind turbine is receiving exactly the same wind at each moment in time. That is not true even for a single wind farm, and less true for multiple wind farms across a wind resource, and less true for multiple wind resources.

Say that average yield is 35% of nameplate capacity. A study of the Southwestern Great Plains wind resource in the US indicated that wind farms spread widely enough across the wind resource would be yielding under 10% of installed capacity about 10% of the time, though each wind turbine would be yielding under 10% of installed capacity well over 10% of the time.

So shifting to average yield as the benchmark, about 30% of the yield of that resource backed by an equal capacity providing about 3% of the yield as power could be treated as baseload.

And the wind is always blowing somewhere - tap multiple wind resources with widely dispersed wind farms in each wind resource, and the energy required to firm a given share of the average year continues to drop.

And of course the division of energy supply between baseload and peak is not intrinsic to electricity supply, but imposed by the technologies in place, and then social institutions have been developed and evolved to accommodate those technologies. When those institutions interfere with adopting a new technology that is less expensive in terms of full economic cost, that's normal institutional lag, and the solution is to develop new institutions that accommodate the new technology, and then as it is adopted additional institutions will be modified or evolve to accomodate it.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 12:18:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... key. The technical challenge of throttling back nuclear power output fairly responsively (and share in the portfolio matters here too, see my comment below on biocoal) is likely to be solved more readily than the business model challenge of the increase in capital cost per unit energy produced if the plant is frequently throttling back its total energy output.

The big open pond pumped hydro site in Michigan was built, after all, to shift nuclear power across both daytime and seasonal swings in demand.

And then I'll toss in the point that its not a genuinely sustainable technology unless its internationally reproducible, which entails an ability to establish the power plans in locations where effective implementation of anti-proliferation activity cannot be taken for granted. If the ability to throttle up and down is only available with fuel cycles that are proliferation risks, its a stop-gap solution at best. OTOH, if it is available with low proliferation risk fuel cycles like some of the thorium fuel cycles, that is far more promising as part of a long run sustainable portfolio.

If its known that there is a substantial component required to have more dispatchable capacity than energy supply, one approach may be to throttle the generating capacity without throttling the energy supply with heat storage such as molten salts. While that adds to total capital investment, it could mean more capacity utilization of the most expensive part of the capital investment and a better business model.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 12:07:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And then I'll toss in the point that its not a genuinely sustainable technology unless its internationally reproducible,

I'm not sure I'd go quite that far.

Different countries have different energy mixes - in Denmark, it makes lots of sense to have lots of wind (Denmark is a windy country, as one finds out when architects from other places design buildings that work as natural wind tunnels...). It makes markedly less sense to have lots of large-scale hydro in Denmark, on account of the fact that Denmark has no mountains. Similarly, hydro makes a lot of sense in Norrbotten, while solar... not so much.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 01:36:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you are confusing resource and technology. Wind turbine technology developed in Denmark can, of course, not harvest a wind resource that is not there, but it is not limited to Danish winds, per se, and is obviously broadly internationally reproducible. As is hydropower, from the example of the big dams in the DRC and Zimbabwe.

The institutions to manage the technology will, of course, always have to be adopted from local ones or adapted to fit the local institutional network.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 06:52:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While that is certainly true, I'm not sure what it has to do with anything. I don't see how the fact that - say - Liberia cannot be trusted with nuclear technology prevents Germany from building nuclear plants.

Obviously, if the technology carries a proliferation risk, the construction and maintenance of the supporting infrastructure will carry a proliferation risk, simply because more people will have the necessary know-how. But I don't find it self-evident that this risk is impossible to manage responsibly.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 07:07:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't say it prevents Germany from building nuclear power plants, just pointing out that its not a fully sustainable, renewable technology if its a technology that cannot be safely be allowed to be used in large sections of the world.

And you use libya as if the proliferation point is only an issue with a few, extreme cases, when there are, for instance, few nations in sub-Saharan Africa where one would feel secure seeing proliferation-risk fuel cycles in use.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 11:19:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Liberia, not Libya. But substitute "sub-Saharan Africa" for Liberia and "Europe" for Germany and the point still stands.

Now, the fact that proliferation risks may make the technology inaccessible to large parts of the world is certainly a strike against nuclear. And it remains to be seen whether such a technological imbalance is sustainable.

But there's some way from "not an unproblematic technology" to "only a stopgap measure." Large-scale hydro projects are not unproblematic either and that does not lead us to conclude that they are only a stopgap measure. (Incidentally, in much of Central Africa and the tropical parts of Latin America, you should think not once or twice but three times before building large hydro, on account of the fragility of the local biosphere and the risk of soil disruption caused by damming up a river).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 11:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the technology that solves the problem of reducing CO2 impact is one that can only be used in a part of the world, there's the problem of how you keep the impact of the CO2 from the ROW from spilling over.

Wealthy countries putting a lifestyle on display that cannot be sustainably emulated by other countries, whether because it relies on technology that cannot be allowed to be used in those countries, or because it relies on the net import of material resources, is not a long term sustainable position.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 11:18:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This argument is, ehh, what is the word I am seeking. Oh, yes. Wrong. In Error. False.
Primus:
The entire system on international anti proliferation efforts rests on the NPT under which non-weapon states allow UN inspectors to nosy around their country at will in exchange for technological assistance with the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Read that again. Not only do non-weapon states have the legal right to nuclear power, under the relevant treaties, the weapon states are obligated to help them.

Denying anyone access to nuclear power out of fear of proliferation is clear violation of international law, and very directly weakens the only effective framework we have for limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.

Secundus: Even if we assume that the NPT is a dead letter, which I am not ready to grant,  there is also the fact that the countries that already possess nuclear technology and the countries responsible for AGW are sets that overlap very, very greatly. The states that currently possess nuclear weapons are responsible for somewhere in the region of 70% of all CO2 emmisions, and clearly, a weapon state building (more) nuclear power plants is not increasing the risk of proliferation, the horse has left that barn, and burned it down on the way out. Add on the states that have reactors, but no bombs, and we are talking 80% of all emmisions. If those countries, and only those countries turned their electricity production sectors into copies of the french one, that would, indeed, solve global warming. Or at least, halve the size of the problem. It would also be nessesary to transition shipping to nuclear, and automotion to electric, but saying that proliferation makes nuclear an impractical solution to AGW is just wrong.

by Thomas on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 03:32:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the internal logic of the non-proliferation treaty is that those countries that have the capacity to develop nuclear weapons technology refrain from doing so in exchange for receiving nuclear power technology.

But in practice, it does not actually mean that all nations gain access to nuclear power technology, does it? Certainly all the nations "that matter" do, but lots of nations fall into the "they can be ignored" category.

Except climate chaos is a global problem, and as we proselytize Western lifestyles with movies and other entertainment, we cannot safely presume a perpetual global underclass that produces less than the average CO2 per person, and consumes less than that as they export to fill in material deficits by the "have" countries of the world.

Neoliberalism (aka Globalization, when people wish to distract from the fact that it is a policy choice) rests on that presumption, but dominance over the medium term is not evidence of sustainability over the longer term - a longstanding lesson we have just had repeated in the context of financial markets.

And the Modern Liberalism which Neoliberalism supplanted was premised on less developed nations accepting their place in return for receiving development assistance to improve the standard of living of people in countries in that place - but that is not tenable if the technological basis for improving the standard of living is not one that can be reproduced.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 10:29:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BruceMcF:
that is not tenable if the technological basis for improving the standard of living is not one that can be reproduced.

or god forbid it makes them dependent on maintenance wot ain't there.

great point, Bruce, one that seems obvious, but isn't mentioned enough.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 11:18:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why can't currently dysfunctional, proliferation-prone countries develop institutions to put a lid on proliferation risk?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 12:31:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The question presumes that those countries that have such institutions did so entirely be deliberate choice.

But stating the tacit assumption reveals the problem: that would be a silly reading of history. All institutional change involves unintended consequences, and the more wide-reaching the change, the greater the potential for some of the unintended consequences to be both strong and malignant.

And even if it were an entirely deliberate choice, there is still the "Dear Liza" conundrum - if it were possible to identify precisely the institutional changes required to make the society functional in that respect, implementing those changes in precisely the way required would itself require a foundation of an institutional capacity for institutional improvement which, by observation, does not exist.

IOW, there's a hole in the bucket, and you need the bucket to fetch the water to wet the whetstone to sharpen the knife to cut the straw to patch the hole in the bucket.

Following the experience of post-WWII reconstruction in Europe and Japan, there were high hopes in the 50's and 60's of lending the bucket to allow new buckets to be made (so to speak - no we are out of the range of the song and use sharpened axes to cut down trees and sharpened saws to cut them into timber) ... but it turns out that reconstructing in a society that was already a functioning industrial society and developing industrial capacities in nations that were not previously functioning industrial societies are quite different challenges.

And as it turned out, the most successful industrial development in the past fifty years occurred in a country that was locked out of the mainstream development program in the 50's and 60's, but which had a massive agrarian revolution in the 50's and 60's following a massive land reform and which was developing in a society which previously had a highly developed commercial economy.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 01:09:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not seeing that.

Colombia has greater insolation than the subarctic. So they can, ceteris paribus, obtain more energy from solar power. Canada has more stable and trustworthy institutional safeguards against nuclear proliferation than Colombia. So they can, ceteris paribus, obtain more energy from nuclear power.

There's no demand for nuclear power - there's a demand for electricity (and, in the colder regions of the world, for heating). The fact that some parts of the world can't use nuclear power won't be a problem if there are other sustainable technologies for them to obtain electricity (respectively heat).

Incidentally, it is not obvious that nuclear is even a desirable technology for countries that are heavy proliferation risks. High-risk countries for proliferation are typically those without a functioning central government and/or with active militias, or whose governmental institutions are chronically incapable of keeping up their end of a deal.

Centralised power generation requires the capability to construct and maintain a centralised power grid (and provides nice, big sabotage targets for the aforementioned militias...). And if the central government is institutionally incapable of sticking to an agreement, there's a case to be made for decentralised power on institutional grounds - namely that it removes leverage from the incompetent/corrupt/bigoted central government.

Then you have countries like Iran which are proliferation risks not because they can't be held to an agreement, but because The West refuses to enter into serious negotiations with them. But that is not a sustainable situation in any case, nuclear power or no nuclear power.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 04:56:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a risk that if the rich nuclear capable countries all move to nuclear, then the poor sun rich proliferation risky countries will not be able to afford the development and construction of alternatives?  Similarly, given the tendency for the world to follow the 'most advanced countries', would this make the poor countries discount wind/solar as options if the rich discounted them?
by njh on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:37:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a risk that if the rich nuclear capable countries all move to nuclear, then the poor sun rich proliferation risky countries will not be able to afford the development and construction of alternatives?
Not really.

Similarly, given the tendency for the world to follow the 'most advanced countries', would this make the poor countries discount wind/solar as options if the rich discounted them?
Typical colonial mindset. Brown and yellow people can think for themselves, they don't need us to tell them what to do.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:42:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, but the rest of the world does tend to follow the behaviour of the US, even when it has been shown to be harmful (e.g. agribusiness, financial industry, freeway construction).  There are some refreshingly  independently minded countries, but they appear to be in the minority.
by njh on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 01:54:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A risk, but not a particularly serious one.

As I noted upthread, nobody within shouting distance of sanity will want to go all-wind, all-nuclear or, indeed, all-anything. For the same reason that you won't want to go all-wheat or all-rice or all-potato when it comes to food production. Monoculture is inherently vulnerable to systemic shocks.

And in terms of wind, solar and hydro R&D, a 35/20/30/15 wind/solar/nuclear/hydro mix isn't substantially different from a 44/30/25 wind/solar/hydro mix.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:52:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hydro has the problem that dammed areas of still water in warm climates tend to develop large areas of rotting vegetation. This makes hydro far from carbon neutral. It's safe in higher latitudes where nothing much grows, but closer to the equator it becomes more problematic.

That's an inconvenient fact, but it's something that has to be considered.

Wind has the advantage that the only carbon costs are the building and (relatively) minimal maintenance costs. Once the blades are spinning, there's no carbon being generated. (Apart from the pile of dead birds at the base of every windmill, and the babies that windmills sneak out to eat at night. But anyway.)

I've never seen a complete carbon budget for a nuclear station, including everything from building, mining and fuel management, decommissioning, and spent fuel storage/reprocessing. Considering the amount of effort needed to keep spent fuel out of circulation - has the spent fuel problem been solved at all, for permanent, static and maintenance-free values of solved? - it's difficult to believe that the total carbon cost isn't significant.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:05:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hydro has the problem that dammed areas of still water in warm climates tend to develop large areas of rotting vegetation.

Indeed. In fact, the carbon footprint is arguably the least of the problems with that large pile of rotting vegetation. Soil loss and disruption of river habitats are at least as serious. Quoting myself from upthread:

Incidentally, in much of Central Africa and the tropical parts of Latin America, you should think not once or twice but three times before building large hydro, on account of the fragility of the local biosphere and the risk of soil disruption caused by damming up a river.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:08:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is small, because the mass and volumes involved are relatively speaking very small. This comes from the enormous energy intensity of the fuel.

The waste issue has been solved.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:15:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd still like to see a complete carbon budget - especially for countries that aren't seismically stable.

So far as I know, the UK is still storing most of its waste in ponds. Says the inevitable Wiki quote:

Radioactive waste - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the United States alone, the Department of Energy states there are "millions of gallons of radioactive waste" as well as "thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel and material" and also "huge quantities of contaminated soil and water."[1] Despite copious quantities of waste, the DOE has stated a goal of cleaning all presently contaminated sites successfully by 2025.[1] The Fernald, Ohio site for example had "31 million pounds of uranium product", "2.5 billion pounds of waste", "2.75 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and debris", and a "223 acre portion of the underlying Great Miami Aquifer had uranium levels above drinking standards."[1] The United States has at least 108 sites designated as areas that are contaminated and unusable, sometimes many thousands of acres.[1][2] DOE wishes to clean or mitigate many or all by 2025, however the task can be difficult and it acknowledges that some may never be completely remediated. In just one of these 108 larger designations, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, there were for example at least "167 known contaminant release sites" in one of the three subdivisions of the 37,000-acre (150 km2) site.[1] Some of the U.S. sites were smaller in nature, however, cleanup issues were simpler to address, and DOE has successfully completed cleanup, or at least closure, of several sites.[1]

Admittedly these are pounds, not tons, but it's still a lot of trash to take out and bury.

As I've said before, the most telling argument against nuclear is political - you simply can't trust governments and market-run economies to build nukes sensibly with a mature safety culture, or to clean up after themselves.

The fact that this may be possible in Sweden doesn't necessarily mean the problem has been solved elsewhere.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:30:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say that the vast majority of that waste is pretty spurious - like "contaminated" soil which is less radioactive than the bedrock in considerable parts of Europe, and so on. A lot of nuclear "waste", like the ash we get from our biofueled CHP plant (classified as nuclear waste) can be managed pretty easily. We use it to build foundations to roads.

The liquid waste on the other hand is often pretty radioactive or chemically toxic, but that generally originates from legacy weapons manufacture, not power generation.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 06:50:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is small, because the mass and volumes involved are relatively speaking very small.

This would change by orders of magnitude if global nuclear capacity would be significantly expanded, necessitating the exploitation of to lower concentration uranium ore. (Then again, going for lower concentration uranium ore would also face problems similar to those ignored by Peak Oil sceptics arguing with oil shales and sands: the amount of reserves is one thing, running up the rate of production to a level similar to that from present high-grade ores is another.)

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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 04:35:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The waste issue has been solved.

Hm? Even you acknowledged that even the Swedish method has its questions -- not to speak of other countries (like Germany in that diary of mine).

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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 04:38:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There might be certain minor enginereeing issues, but they pale when you look at the big picture of the overengineered storage system. I.e., even if the canisters fail, the system will still be safe enough. Remember Oklo.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 05:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This has been the subject of quite considerable study. Externe is the biggest one, and if you are too lazy to google it, the carbon impact from nuclear is the same as that of wind, and mostly from the same sources - Concrete manufacture and steel smelting nessesary for construction.
Ore grades used dont much matter, because the quantities of fuel used are tiny, and make up a tiny part of the overall impact of a plant.
by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 09:17:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
here: The real cost of electricity



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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 09:44:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing ive never understood on that chart, what are the health costs of wind? is it saying that a percentage of workers will fall off? or is there some other factor that im just not seeing?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:04:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pretty much. I read the actual study, the health impact of wind was the number of workers who had fallen to their death and/or injury during construction and maintainance, and the people killed and hurt in traffic accidents during transport of mill parts. Apparantly things occasionally go wrong when you are driving around with 30 yard wings on your trailer. Who would have tought?
This also applies to nukes - bulk of that health impact was construction workers dying during construction.
by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:09:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In that case, seeing as there are many fewer large parts to move in the construction of a nuke. dosnt that show lower safety standards?

and in that case if safety standards are lower in that sector of construction, why should there be any confidence in other parts of construction or operation?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:20:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bulk is not all. The diffrence between the health hazard of nukes and wind is mostly down to the fact that while nuclear is one of the safest industies to work in, nuke plants are also quite heavily manned, so there are more workers to slip down stairs, do stupid things with hazardous chemicals, and have heart attacks - then there is the health impact of the radiation. This isnt a big factor at the plant, as it is mostly down to noble gas isotopes leaking to the atmosphere and causing some theoretical* number of cancers over the next few thousand years.

*The way this number is calculated is absurd. A population of 9 billion people is assumed, as are cancer survival rates identical to todays. That is not a possible future - If we maintain a technological civilization, cancer is not going to kill anyone in 400 years. If we do not, the population will be rather a heck of a lot lower than nine billion, and the number of cancer cases will be correspondingly lower.

by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:34:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Got a link to the outline of those calculations?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:48:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.externe.info/ pulbications, nuclear. Huh. should have re-read. the most significant isotope is c-14. Calculation is still absurd, tough.
by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 11:00:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't look like that the mortality of eg. miners involved in extracting the necessary minerals are included in the health tally...
by Nomad on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:34:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is, it just doesnt come to much, in the final reckoning. The present global uranium industry just doesnt kill a lot of people per annum. The wwII/50s era "Get Uranium now to defeat nazism/communism" wildcatting had casualties, but modern in-situ leaching and canadian mining operations just are not very dangerous.
by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:45:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Still would like to see mining stats on mortality/injuries per energy category one day...

My focus lies not with uranium mining per se, but with the coal industry.

by Nomad on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 12:48:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... nuclear power with intrinsically unsafe fuel cycles that require substantial and complex safeguards are not an internationally reproducible technology.

How does that support the argument that a complement of technologies including nuclear power that allows a country to be energy sufficient in support of its standard of living is as reproducible internationally as a complement of technologies other than nuclear power that allows a country to be energy sufficient in support of its standard of living?

It seems as if you are taking physical limitations on the energy that can be obtained from a particular technology in the complement as equivalent to social limitations, when of course natural systems are prior to human societies, and the constraints imposed by Natural System will always be respected by technology - by consequence, when not by design.

Of course, "nuclear" is too broad a category here: for instance, the way that some potential Thorium fuel cycles are described by advocated would permit designs that are not prone to proliferation risks in transport of either new or spent fuel.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 11:27:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How does that support the argument that a complement of technologies including nuclear power that allows a country to be energy sufficient in support of its standard of living is as reproducible internationally as a complement of technologies other than nuclear power

It doesn't, because it isn't. The more components you add into an energy supply mix, the less reproducible the whole package will be. The point is that the whole package doesn't have to be reproducible, so long as large enough parts of it are.

Or, to put it another way: If a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo can have light on demand from electricity produced by a dam or a windmill, why should he care that a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany can have light on demand from electricity produced by a nuclear reactor? Light on demand is light on demand - the electrons don't care where the potential gradient comes from, and neither does most of the end users.

It seems as if you are taking physical limitations on the energy that can be obtained from a particular technology in the complement as equivalent to social limitations

In the short term, they are.

In the medium term, social limitations are more amenable to betterment than physical limitations.

In the long term, we're all dead.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 12:25:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... reproducibility of a particular complement of techniques, I referred to the reproducibility of the technology.

That is, a particular concentrated thermal solar power technology is at a cost point that makes it an appealing choice for installing large plants in the US Southwest for peak power demands in Southern California. That same technology is only a niche player in another setting, and is not adopted at all in a third.

But if its feasible in the third, and not implemented because there are technically superior choices in those conditions, that means its reproducible technology for that country, and indeed with further technical development may come into the frame for adoption. Its availability at its Energy Return on Investment in that context provides part of the baseline for all settings where its Net EROI is positive, and where it is not implemented is where a superior Net EROI is available.

The specific point about proliferation-prone nuclear fuel cycles is not about whether its a feasible technique for acquiring power from the Natural System within which the economy exists, but whether we can confidently promote its use everywhere that it is technically feasible. Its an additional constraint, over and above the fact that yields of different techniques in a technological complement will vary in different settings, so the reliance on one technique will be higher in one setting and the reliance on a different technique will be higher in another setting.

And its a different type of constraint, because when a renewable energy harvest technique is pushed aside by another renewable energy harvest technique with better Net EROI, that implies that some other technique with better EROI exists. When some particular nuclear power fuel cycle is ruled out because the society does not have the institutional capacity to transport virgin fuel to or spent fuel from the plant without ongoing substantial proliferation risks, that does not imply that there is some other technique with some better Net EROI.

The present-day core economies, resting on the dependency of the other economies of the world on us for productive equipment, cannot therefore rest satisfied that they have developed an adequate technological complement for energy sufficiency for ourselves until it also includes an adequate technological complement that is internationally reproducible.

Since we cannot, after all, move the core economies en masse to another planet with a more benign climate, and since the channels of technological development will tend to follow the track of those lines that we choose to pursue.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 02:51:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if not a single new country was "allowed" (sovereignty, where art thou?) to use nuclear, the majority of all power could still be nuclear. Pretty much all South American countries of note use nuclear, add to this Europe, Russia, China and the US, and that's what, 3/4 of all people in the world live in nuclear power nations? 90 % of all GDP is produced in these countries?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 04:24:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and India.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 05:04:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect that this is a sloppily titled graph: displacement of capacity should be a percentage of the current total capacity.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 09:36:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Displacement" is a strange framing, too - why not just "share"?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 09:45:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that's my point: displacement looks at it from the direction of existing plants, "share" would be a percentage of a changing total.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 09:48:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... sustainable renewable power sources are "harvested" rather than strictly speaking "produced", displacement of a stable benchmark generating capacity is a very useful measure for analysis of different portfolio components and different portfolio mixes.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 12:10:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
because in that case the study was about artifically injecting wind into the existing system, and analysing what kind of production, and what kind of capacity, was no longer needed, from the exisitng system.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 10:09:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... geographically distinct wind resource kicks it up - if you have 10% POWER (average energy yield), 40% CAPACITY dispatchable firming (say, hydro, which can normally add generating capacity more readily than it can add power supply), it pushes the pink curve for that energy portfolio up more than the red one, and then an independent, or even better negatively correlated wind resource reduces the number of days the total wind component is below, eg, half of average power yield, which further reduces the POWER requirement of the firming component.

Of course, to the extent that a substantial share of the variance can be predicted 24 hours in advance from weather systems, part of the firming capacity can be provided by sources like biocoal. Ideally that would be a technology with better variable power generation than thermal power, such as direct carbon fuel cells.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 11:40:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
very curious about this concept. Don't know your trade, but seems to me, the way you describe this, that this is a new energy trade concept.

Common to speak of a plant which is used in such a way?

Even if not common (yet), the concept is intriguing. But, suspect by marginal price we are speaking about Enron-charged prices to CA.

All the same...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 05:29:34 PM EST
I don't know whether the term is new, but the function is not. The requirement for load balancing in the electrical grid is a consequence of some very fundamental laws of physics, so the function has been around as long as serious country-wide electrical grids.

Now, I'd think that the smart way to run peaker plants is to enter into long-term insurance-style contracts, where the utility buys capacity rather than power. But then, I don't know the business either.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 06:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you need plants that are used only at times of maximuim demand.

In a non-market system, the utility knows its needs, builds the plant, and turns it on when demand requires it.

In a market system, the plant designates the price it needs to be profitable (ie it sets a mimimun price t obe dispatched), and during demand peaks, power prices will get to the price required for that plant's bid to be accepted, and it will then be turned on to fulfill that "contract." Such plant would designate its price depending on its expectation of the number of demand peaks which will require it to run (knowing the rest of the supply curve, and expected demand patterns), and the price required to be profitable only be being turned on in such limited occasions.

As noted elsewhere, peakers can be profitable by producing only at a few % of their nominal capacity - they will typically required very high price peaks (2 to 10 times more than normal prices). As they will suually have restricted fuel supplies, if the peaks require them to function more than normally expected, they will bid even higher to cover the need to buy gas on the paralle spot market, which will likely be strianed as well, or simply because they can get away with it (the risk for them is that prices get high enough that demand destructions mechansims enter, such as interruptible contracts, or big industrial users which decide to re-sell their power rather than use it for their needs).

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 13th, 2010 at 12:22:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... you could get peaking capacity in part by keeping thermal plants hot and spinning off load.  And in the US, with the substantial investment in hydropower in the 30's, the quick dispatch of hydro carried a lot of the peaking burden.

But more recently, a lot of the gas plants built closer to consumption centers to economize on investment in the distribution grid have been deliberately planned for and built as peaking plants ... especially useful as a business model since the summer AC peak has overtaken the winter evening peak.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 12th, 2010 at 06:58:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another wind v. nukes argument.  Again, where almost everyone focuses upon this or that technical detail, using this or that number or cost, bantying about capacity factors and reliability data as if we, in the case of nuclear power, actually knew.  When another 50 or 100 years open experience have shown zero technical or environmental issues, and no malfeasance, in France, perhaps this discussion would make sense.

But no one examines the underlying big picture, except to some degree in the discussion of proliferation.

My first number.  Let's round out the globe's total experience with nuclear to be roughly 50 years out of 10,000 for the first cycle, as context.  That's not a particularly significant number.

The most ridiculous argument brought out is Starvid claiming that you can build a nuke in 4 years.  Perhaps it's been done once in Japan, i don't know, but for sure that's not reproducible in a world where ALL externalities must be examined and mitigated first.  Let's also assume he's using next gen nuke technology.  Current forges allowing for casting complete containment vessels allow 2 vessels per year, expanding to 4/yr next year or two, and with Areva's proposed forges doubling that by sometime supposedly soon.  Perhaps S. Korea, india and China also plan for a steel binge, and perhaps we reach 20 plants a year in the next decade or so, at the most optimistic estimates.

Cool, wind is already producing 50% more capacity per year.  And far easier to expand, with calculably more social and environmental benefit.

Or we expand the use of segmented containment, leading to more of the same we have today, where every single time leakage is underestimated, under-reported, and over budget.  Fer chrissake, the Chinese can't even get the steel for the Frisco Bay Bridge right, or the foundation monopiles for Greater Gabbard, though leaking windmills don't represent much social risk.

Storage?  Starvid likes the idea of mixing ceramics and bedrock.  Me too, it's sexy tech, probably even works to some degree.  Given that we've got 50 years of 10,000 under our belt (for the first cycle), and given that most of our global technologies are now operating failure free, shit just let's do it.

Thomas says the nuclear cycle is free fuel.  Even Edward Teller never said that, i wonder if he's ever been to a mine or processing plant, or realized that most mines are not located onsite.  Perhaps he's never seen Navajo children playing on radioactive tailings piles, then dying young, because it wasn't economically feasible to ship the tailings to Wall Street, where the quants have cash to dispose of it properly.

But enough of my garbage without graphs and detailed reports showing what nuclear actually costs, let's skip the rest of my analysis and get to the meat of the issue.

If the technology can be safe and cost effective over it's lifetime, one could take the outrageous step of positing that it would take a superior, peaceful and intelligently mature civilization to ensure such safety for the entire cycle.  and no bad welds.

Well i'll be damned.  My search of over 17,380 civilizations around the universe puts ours in the top 0.1%, so we obviously have our track record of intelligence, civility, peace and harmony going for us. Hell, i'd trust us, especially if i can be sure Goldman Sachs finances all the deals.  And out of work Chinese coal miners can ride shotgun on all the transport, thus ensuring safety doubly, even in central Africa and graft-free Bulgaria.

Wow, now i've even convinced myself.  This next-gen nuke stuff is way cool.  Let's get on with it dudes!

What was i thinking that a civilization should take it's energy from the solar flux source that's flowing into it?  That such use of what creation gave us would help civilization realize what was important?  Naw, that's too sensible for a mature, peaceful, intelligent technologically perfect civilization like ours.

I mean, look at our track record with soil, and water, and air, and those former elements are not nearly as important to sustaining our life, and are far more dangerous than the peaceful atom.

"Nope, commercial nuclear power will never, ever be up to Navy safety standards, because Navy standards cost money."

     -- The designer of the Navy's first nuclear submarine, 1960 something.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 03:59:02 AM EST
There's some documentary film shot around 1980, where in one scene i'm debating the VP Nukes for GE on some stage somewhere.  I said the debate reminded me of a guy who jumps out of the 80th story window.  As he reaches the 50th floor, he says, "So far, so good."

Still doesn't seem such far-fetched logic.

(There J, am i getting a little closer to stating how i FEEL about nuclear power?)

Can anyone imagine what the kWh cost of photovoltaic would be now, if we weren't so busy sophisticatisizing our weapons systems, and airport scanners?

Wish i had a copy of the film.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 04:07:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and here's where we should put them.


h/t Sven

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 04:16:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
would probably be more relevant if it only showed events above a certain threshold of strength. Europe looks all black but is now (most of it anyway) a hotspot of seismic activity.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 06:11:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It presumably does, but the threshold is unreasonably low. I can't find any information about what the map actually represents, but here's one color coded for strength (though scanned with a resolution that makes the scale unreadable). Most of Europe looks much better now.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 06:24:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
to be truly accurate, in terms of danger, would be to superimpose a map of seismic building codes.  A 5.2 in most of Germany (a sneeze in Frisco) would have some damage, and a 5.8 would begin to be significant.  But the real issue in this discussion is the time scale, thousands of years.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 06:33:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You also need to know something about enforcement of these codes. With L'Aquila in mind, I assumed that Messina would have very strong building codes, but that enforcement of them would be lax. But maybe not: it turns out that in the 1975 earthquake in Messina (strength 5.4)
The most significant of these earthquakes was the January 16, 1975 event, measuring M5.4 and causing heavy damage to just three buildings in Messina.
Maybe two 7.5 earthquakes really does focus peoples minds, even in Southern Italy.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 03:13:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can anyone imagine what the kWh cost of photovoltaic would be now, if we weren't so busy sophisticatisizing our weapons systems, and airport scanners?

It is going down slowly, though. The industry already foresees this:

Solarwirtschaft: Solarstrom bereits 2013 auf Niveau der Verbraucher-Stromtarife: BSW-Solar - Bundesverband SolarwirtschaftSolarwirtschaft: Solar electricity on the level of consumer electricity price already in 2013: BSW-Solar - Solar Business Federal Association
Berlin, 13. Januar 2010: Nach Angaben des Bundesverbandes Solarwirtschaft e.V. lässt sich Solarstrom bereits in vier Jahren auf deutschen Dächern zu Kosten erzeugen, die dem Niveau herkömmlicher Verbraucher-Stromtarife entsprechen. Möglich wird dies durch Erfolge bei der Kostensenkung, durch die Weiterentwicklung der Technologie und durch einen beschleunigten Photovoltaik-Marktausbau. Auch die hohe Investitionsbereitschaft der Bürger trägt maßgeblich zur erfolgreichen Entwicklung der Solarenergie bei.Berlin, 13 January 2010: According to the [German] Solar Business Federal Association, already in four years, solar electricity can be produced on German rooftops at a price corresponding to the level of conventional consumer electricity prices. This will be possible through successes in cost-cutting, further development of the technology, and an accelerated expansion of the market for photovoltaics. The high willingness of citizens to invest has a crucial role in the development of solar energy.

Well, let's see when we get there; I hope it's based on more than an extrapolation of current trends. Which are, for Germany, according to BSW (this is a module price index, including installation costs but excluding tax):

...and for Europe and North America, according to Solarbuzz:



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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 06:57:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo, this is excellent, but i must point out that cost numbers are skewed as Chinese panels enter the market at much lower costs.  Actual performance (including long-term) has to be taken into account for true numbers.  From a colleague, it seems chinese exports to California's solar rush went from several % to around 30% in just several years, or so i'm told.  (don't know actual figures.)

But the trend is clear, following exactly as the industry predicted, and wind has shown is valid.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 06:34:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chinese products may be a factor, but the industry usually explains the year-long steep fall, as well as the plateau before, with changes on the demand side: the rapid expansion and then abrupt collapse of the Spanish market, following changes in the feed-in law.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 06:58:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the lifetime of the Chinese cells?

We know Chinese cars and trains don't have the kind of lifetime that you'd expect from German hardware. Or even American hardware. So it seems reasonable to consider that when doing cost calculations.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 10:07:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hell, don't talk about, invest!

French Gov Seeks Investors for Areva


The source close to the deal said there were strong disagreements between the potential bidders and the French state on the valuation of Areva.

"They are having a hard time valuing the company (Areva) and coming to an accord with the bidders over price. The assets are incredibly difficult to value," the source said.

He said the nuclear reactor building arm of Areva had produced little or no profits while uranium enrichment and waste treatment were "indecently" profitable.



"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 04:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
nuclear reactors are a loss-leader for their real business... and seen as such internally, from a strategic perspective. The biggest issue is perception management - €2 billion cost overruns and a couple years delay on the EPR in Finland looks bad, but is irrelevant in the long run, especially as it is the very first unit of that series, where you inevitably discover all sorts of issues which are ironed out and solved the next time round.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 06:09:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least that's what they hope. But I hear the second EPR in France got similar issues, while those at the Finnish one aren't completely solved.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 06:40:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I add that part of the cost overruns in Finland are for extra required systems added later, those costs will be added to that of new EPRs, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 06:42:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of the Finland issues are linked to the difficulty of the regulatory process: this was a first for the Finnish regulatory authority, and they were probably more punctilious than Areva expected. Don't forget also that Areva bid low to wind this crucial contract (the first in the Western world in a long time).

I hear that EDF is hoping to complete its EPR before the Finnish one...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 07:40:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The site under construction (Dec 2007)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 08:10:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
they were probably more punctilious than Areva expected

Like, having to re-do some shoddily poured concrete and misplaced piping?... If I want to be fair, the inexperience factor is more because the current workers had no opportunity to having turned experienced workers on earlier nuclewr constructions.

BTW, an article linked earlier on ET was this one.

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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 09:35:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, it's nnot just Finnish authorities.

FT.com / Companies / Utilities - Countries question Areva's reactor design

Nuclear safety authorities in three countries have raised questions over the design of control and command systems in Areva's new generation EPR reactor, the latest in a series of blows to hit the flagship of France's international nuclear ambitions.

Authorities in France, Finland and the UK have asked for changes to ensure greater independence of the reactor's safety systems from control operations. "The EPR design, as originally proposed by the licensees and the manufacturer, Areva, doesn't comply with the independence principle, as there is a very high degree of complex interconnectivity between the control and safety systems," they said in a statement.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:05:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that was a failry minor comment that was blown out of proportion, simply because it is made public, like all French nuclear incidents, on the French nuclear watchdog website.

The watchdog itself intervened to say that the interpretation made in the media of this announcement was widely off the mark.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 12:08:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't doubt the nuclear watchdog felt the need to (or was forced to) play down the issue, but explain why it is a "fairly minor comment". The failure to follow the independence principle means that a small incident can break down safety and control systems meant to prevent a bigger incident (which, I note, was a point raised by EPR critics in the early 2000s already, in addition to the criticism of the core catcher concept) -- that is not a minor issue whichever way I look at it.

The Finnish authority also sought to play down the issue when an identical note was leaked. The also similar British criticism however IIRC was not a leak.

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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 03:47:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PlPlant delays and overspend harm the cause of nuclear cheerleaders | Business | guardian.co.uk

Meanwhile at an investors' day in Paris, EDF said the EPR which is being built in Flamanville would cost €4bn (£3.47bn) at 2008 prices instead of €3.3bn .

"This update takes into account increase in prices and the effects of some contractual indexes due to higher raw material costs and the impact of technical and regulatory evolutions," explained EDF.

One may celebrate that the cost increase so far is less than at Olkiluoto 3 (where it essentially doubled to €5 billion), but even the €3.3 billion was already well above the Olkiluoto 3 offer price, so it's not just the prototype that gets more expensive.

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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 10:14:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
given what the economic crisis has done to the prices on steel, concrete and construction labour, the price of a plant started now should be somewhat lower.

Mostly the problem is, however, a supply chain that is not remotely sized to service demand for current nuclear build, and is laughably inadequate for either projected or nessesary build. The world needs a lot more Japan Steel sized forges.

by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 11:05:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
for all your contributions to this thread/debate. I hope you stick around!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 12:09:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
given what the economic crisis has done to the prices on steel, concrete and construction labour, the price of a plant started now should be somewhat lower.

Mmmph, I think the construction of a nuclear plant typically spans a business cycle. At any rate, the nicely worded factor of "the impact of technical and regulatory evolutions" will remain wheneverand wherever a third EPR is started.

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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 03:52:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
.. thats going to take quite some social engineering. I can see ways to persuade people to do the bulk of their car charging at night (time variable electricity rates should do it) but letting the grid draw down on their charge while parked at work? Eh. No.
by Thomas on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 09:07:30 AM EST
a) What? What does that follow?

b) Money.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 14th, 2010 at 09:14:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... while parked at work? That is a not critically necessary flourish often added by people stuck in the idea of fitting new technology to a 20th century system of regulation and control of 20th century technology ... the "storage problem" is easily exaggerated by those who do not understand the difference between variance in supply of a component part of the energy portfolio and variance of the energy supplies by the total portfolio, leading to an exaggeration of the total energy that must come from storage.

However, the drawing power from people's batteries is not an example of something that requires social engineering: it just requires a deal. Someone plugs in and pays a certain price to be guaranteed 100% charge by a specified time or gets a substantial discount on energy cost to be guaranteed 80% charge at a specified time.

The discount is less money paid up front, the implicit cost is a long term factor - simple human nature ensures that there is some discount where there will be substantial take-up of the offer.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 15th, 2010 at 01:24:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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