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The real cost of wind - full scale evacuation plans!

by Jerome a Paris Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 09:57:14 AM EST

Fire around Sarov poses no threat to nuclear security - Kiriyenko

MOSCOW, August 4 (Itar-Tass) -- There are no threats to nuclear safety in connection with the fire that is raging near the classified nuclear center Sarov. All explosive materials have been removed, the head of Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, said at an enlarged meeting of the Security Council devoted to fire safety at sensitive sites and facilities.

"All explosives and radioactive substances have been removed from there, he said. One can guarantee that even in extreme situations, such as a barrage of wind the strength of a natural disaster, there will be no threat to nuclear safety, or any risk of an explosion or environmental impact on the center."

Kiriyenko acknowledged that the country was faced with the risk of losing only expensive equipment and of stopping important work under the state contract, "which certainly must not be allowed.

I think we should make sure that any wind farm built today has appropriate plans for the evacuation of explosive and radioactive substances, and that such plans are properly budgeted and included in the real cost of wind power. And of course, wind proponents will need to also include the cost of backup by other sources when plants are temporarily or permanently disabled by such events.

Reluctantly included in the wind power series


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And of course, wind proponents will need to also include the cost of backup by other sources when plants are temporarily or permanently disabled by such events.

1st, nice catch J. (and spot on comment.)

Seriously, wind installations, particularly in north america, have a lot of experience with fire. Windparks are never installed in forested areas.  They are installed in grasslands, farmlands, or at worst some brushy areas. They have often been subjected to fires sweeping the lands, and sometimes even caused them. There has been very little damage to the turbines themselves, or even to the equipment on the ground (though there are instances of some damage.)

In far more cases, the development leads to increased fire protection and fire breaks, from roadways and construction clearing. In very rare instances, the turbines themselves, like any electrical equipment, have started fires.

All of it is covered in standard, financeable insurance contracts.

I've been on the ground as fire swept through hundreds of acres or more, and the turbines were not damaged. In the Altamont, we had fires because a local sport would be shooting out the transformer coolant (typical amurkan sport).

to my knowledge, all radioactive material produced by operating windplants is stored onsite only briefly, then shipped by horse and buggy (with armed federal cowboys) to the central wind half-life facilities in El Paso.  Europe uses underwater storage in Venice.

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 10:37:06 AM EST
Windparks are never installed in forested areas.

Except in Bavaria and Baden-Württenberg. (The article says that the area to be cleared for the foundation and the crane is 1350-2400 m² per turbine.) Some are well visible between Ulm and Stuttgart.

I can imagine damage to the blades when flames shoot up high and there is a sustained flow of hot air in a full-blown forest fire. But do those happen in Germany at all? (As opposed to fires fed mostly by the undergrowth?)

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

by DoDo on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 11:58:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are correct, there are exceptions which i was aware of; never should have said never.  There will continue to be forested ridgeline windparks developed, and they will incur a bit of extra insurance.  Such parks represent far less than half percent of total, my guess.

Notice the taller towers. Forest areas create extra turbulence, so turbines must be even higher to be effective.

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 12:28:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Glad to see that The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Russia has things under such excellent control. Perhaps this is the result of the capitalism they have so wisely embraced over the last twenty years or so.

Who could imagine that either the Soviets or, especially, their wiser recent democratic successor could be so arrogant and reckless as to allow their research facilities to pose unanticipated, serious threats to themselves and the world any more than would those in the United States of America? The environmental measures at Sarov must at least be comparable to those at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 10:37:20 AM EST
... an unparalleled record with regard to nuclear safety. But let US Republicans have their way, and enough corporate corner cutting will bring the US to a position of vying for the world class standard set by Russia.

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 Thu Aug 5th, 2010 at 05:51:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As enjoyable as sarcasm is, I would like to point out that russian civil nuclear power is a: very cheap. and B: very important from a non-proliferation nuclear security perspective, as russia inherited a uttely nuts number of people with expertise in nuclear technology from the soviet nuclear arms establishment, and it is infinitely preferable that they are employed producing electricity instead of going un/under employed, and c: wind is not much of an option in russia for much the same reason you dont see a lot of them in northern sweden. King winter is not your friend.
by Thomas on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 10:52:10 AM EST
So having existing cadres of trained nuclear technicians is a proliferation risk unless you employ them productively in the nuclear power sector, but training new cadres of nuclear technicians to run the nuclear power sector is not a serious proliferation risk?

How does that work, again?

(Oh, and Russian nukes are cheap because they're fully amortised, not because Russian nukes are cheap to build and operate...)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 10:59:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The rational reason for a nuclear advocate to oppose wind is economic - nuclear and wind servicing the same grid do not play well with one another at all - they both draw on long-time-horizon capital, and in a zero carbon grid,  the intermittent supply of wind electricity unrelated to demand is going to lead to supply spikes that have to be wasted and under a feed-in-tarrif-for-wind regime, which is the current rules, said wastage will be borne entirely by the nuclear operator - and turning off a nuke plant on a windy night does not save a nuclear operator a single euro-cent, so it is all cost. There are potential solutions to this - Using such spikes to synthesize liquid fuels is, in particular, an idea I am fond of, but currently, if you build enough nukes to get a carbon-free grid (which is what nuclear advocates want!) adding windmills to said grid just adds cost with no real upside.

The emotional reason nuclear advocates come across as opposed to wind is much, much simpler, and far more potent; It is this: The expansion of the nuclear electricity industry got halted in its tracks 40 years ago by activists that promised us a future of wind and solar power. "A grid powered by nature by the year 2000" was their ideal, their slogan, and their promise to the world. Honestly. If I give you a time machine, and statistics of what power production look like today, and send you back to the founding of greenpeace, do you think you could convince them that solar is still effectively non-existant in 2010? that we are still burning coal?

Those guys had a vision, and they were wrong

It is now 2010, and the side that argued that we should replace king coal with the atom, and sooner, rather than later, are feeling really rather massively pissed off that people are still advancing that same vison as an alternative to the technology that we know, without a doubt, can get the job done. The gut reaction, the vision I get when I hear people advocating an all renewable future ? I do not think "That would be nice" I think "If these guys keep winning, 2060 will roll around, and the grid will still be 50% coal".

by Thomas on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 12:01:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
then, and they are not wrong now.

The reality is that, in case you don't remember, there was a sea change in policies in the early 80s and policies that worked (remember how oil use was significantly cut in the late 70s and early 80s?) were not sustained, or even reversed, when they should have been extended.

Reagan tore down the solar panels on the White House. That's not benign neglect, that's outright sabotage.

Governments stopped increasing gas taxes, they failed to react to Saudi Arabia flooding the oil market in late 1985 to get prices to collapse (predatory market manipulation to kill off competitors).

And they thought that the temporary reprieve provided by Alaska and North Sea oil would be eternal. There will be no North Sea today, no Alaska oil, and no Saudi flood to make us believe that fossil fuels are plentiful.

A change to our energy infrastructure requires 20-40 years of consistent policies, not 5-10 years. You need to change the existing assets, and you need to fight the incumbents all the way.

Just because it's hard doesn't mean it can't be done. (In fact, nukes require the same kind of commitment. If it can be done with nukes, it can be done for energy savings, renewable energy and storage or storage-equivalents like not-time-sensitive energy consuming industries)

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 12:26:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
they failed to react to Saudi Arabia flooding the oil market in late 1985 to get prices to collapse (predatory market manipulation to kill off competitors).

This they did, but would they have done it if it did not suit the US's bottomless appetite for cheap gasoline generally, and Big Oil in particular?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 02:29:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The rational reason for a nuclear advocate to oppose wind is economic - nuclear and wind servicing the same grid do not play well with one another at all - they both draw on long-time-horizon capital,

That just means they're both baseload. So what?

and in a zero carbon grid,

Which we do not have, and will not have within the amortisation time of any wind farm that will enter the pipeline for the foreseeable future.

the intermittent supply of wind electricity unrelated to demand is going to lead to supply spikes that have to be wasted

Not if you have proper demand-side management and hydro buffers.

and under a feed-in-tarrif-for-wind regime, which is the current rules, said wastage will be borne entirely by the nuclear operator

You can't do electricity provision without intermediate and peak load. Nuclear grid, wind grid, coal grid, doesn't really matter - if you don't have short-notice dispatchable power, Shit Happens with distressing frequency.

and turning off a nuke plant on a windy night does not save a nuclear operator a single euro-cent, so it is all cost.

So you make fixed-price take-or-pay contracts for nukes, just like you do for wind, other baseload generation modes and any other capital-intensive industry.

but currently, if you build enough nukes to get a carbon-free grid

Then every single country on the planet will have their own domestic sources of weapons-grade plutonium. What fun!

adding windmills to said grid just adds cost with no real upside.

Except of course for conserving nuclear fuel, reducing the effects of maintenance downtime and permitting electricity generation beyond the point where diminishing returns in the nuclear sector become prohibitive.

Wind has one set of trade-offs. Solar has another set of trade-offs. Geothermal has a third set of trade-offs. Nuclear has a fourth set of trade-offs. And so on and so on and etcetera. By combining these cost profiles, you can obtain a larger space for optimisation than by letting any one of them monopolise your policy options. This really shouldn't be a major and novel insight - it's trade theory for first-year students.

It is now 2010, and the side that argued that we should replace king coal with the atom, and sooner, rather than later, are feeling really rather massively pissed off that people are still advancing that same vison as an alternative to the technology that we know, without a doubt, can get the job done.

Except we don't know that until we try. Right now, we're running our nuclear reactors off decommissioned warheads, which are a finite resource. When they run out - which they will do even faster when we expand nuclear penetration - you are going to have to dig into ever more marginal uranium ores. The alternatives put forward - fast breeders and high-temperature fusion - are, at the moment, even more speculative as a full replacement of all baseload by solar power was in 1960.

The gut reaction, the vision I get when I hear people advocating an all renewable future ? I do not think "That would be nice" I think "If these guys keep winning, 2060 will roll around, and the grid will still be 50% coal".

And that is why you keep coming up short against the fact that for the full amortisation duration of all nuclear and wind projects currently in the pipeline, the baseload displaced will be coal. Wind and nuclear are not competitors for another decade or two.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 12:26:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right now, we're running our nuclear reactors off decommissioned warheads, which are a finite resource. When they run out - which they will do even faster when we expand nuclear penetration - you are going to have to dig into ever more marginal uranium ores.

And the warhead source is dwindling.

I was eagerly awaiting the release of the Uranium 2009 report (the newest of a bi-annual report on uranium supply prepared jointly by OECD NEA and IAEA). Unfortunately, even the pdf would cost me lots of Euros, there is only a propagandistic press release in the public domain. Still, even in that, one finds disclaimers -- I changed the emphasis to highlight those:

The uranium resources presented in this edition, reflecting the situation as of 1 January 2009, show that total identified resources amounted to 6 306 300 tU, an increase of about 15% compared to 2007, including those reported in the high-cost category (<USD 260/kgU or <USD 100/lbU3O8), reintroduced for the first time since the 1980s. This high-cost category was used in the 2009 edition in response to the generally increased market prices for uranium in recent years, despite the decline since mid-2007, expectations of increasing demand as new nuclear power plants are being planned and built, and increased mining costs. Although total identified resources have increased overall, there has been a significant reduction in lower-cost resources owing to increased mining costs. At 2008 rates of consumption, total identified resources are sufficient for over 100 years of supply.

...current projections of uranium mine production capacities could satisfy projected high-case world uranium requirements until the late 2020s. However, given the challenges and length of time associated with increasing production at existing mines and opening new mines, it is unlikely that all production increases will proceed as planned. As a result, secondary sources of previously mined uranium will continue to be required, complemented to the extent possible by uranium savings achieved by specifying lower tails assays at enrichment facilities and technical developments in fuel cycle technology.

IIRC the 2007 report already claimed an increase in resources based on the inclusion of more lower-grade or less secure resources, shrouding a decrease of better resources.

I find a little more specifics in this NEA pdf, some choice quotes, again with my emphases:

Uranium production in 2008 (the most recent year with full production figures) totalled 43 880 tU, a 6% increase from the 41 244 tU produced in 2007 and an 11% increase from the 39 617 tU produced in 2006. ... Global production increases between 2006 ... and 2008 were driven principally by significant increases in Kazakhstan (76%). More modest increases were recorded in Australia, Brazil, Namibia and the Russian Federation. Reduced production was recorded in a number of countries between 2006 and 2008 (including Canada, Niger and the United States) owing to a combination of lower ore grades and technical difficulties....

At the end of 2008, world uranium production provided two-thirds of world reactor requirements, with the remainder being met by supplies of uranium already mined (so-called secondary sources), including excess government and commercial inventories, the delivery or low enriched uranium (LEU) arising from the down-blending of highly enriched uranium (HEU) derived from the dismantling of nuclear warheads, re-enrichment of depleted uranium tails and spent fuel reprocessing.

...

Although information on secondary sources is incomplete, they are generally expected to decline in importance through the next decade. ...a sustained strong market for uranium will be needed to stimulate the timely development of production capability and to increase the identified resource base should growth in nuclear generating capacity follow currently projected trends. However, because of the long lead times required to identify new resources and to bring them into production (typically in the order of ten years or more), the relatively sparse global network of uranium mine facilities and geopolitical uncertainties in some important producing countries, uranium supply shortfalls could potentially develop.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 04:13:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not even going to enter this thread. It wasn't those guys, it was this guy and hundreds of others (thousands around the globe) who set up the path forward for sustainability and renewables.

We were not wrong then, except that we now know we really underestimated the entrenched power of fossil and nuclear world.

There is nothing in today's technologies which couldn't have been developed through the 70's to 90'swhich would have meant we would have more, perhaps far more, than 20% of all electricity (and heat and transport) globally by now.

and we would be well on our way to settling warming back, instead of having already crossed the tipping point.

Go read Soft Energy Paths by Amory Lovins from Foreign Affairs (1974?) before you tar us with your Greenpeace pablum.  Then check his work on getting the military off oil this decade.

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 12:45:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, I purposedly did not make any references to the Russian vs Western nuclear debate, because I don't think it's relevant to the points I was trying to make.

Which are that:

(i) nukes represent highly concentrated generation sources, and any force majeure event which prevent them from operating (even if there are no risks of nuclear "accidents" as such - an event damaging the high voltage lines coming out of the plant will have the same impact) take out a large fraction of available capacity - backup for such events needs to be available and, if we use that logic used by wind opponents, should be fully charged to such nuclear plant (ie the cost of an EPR should include the cost of a standby 1,600MW gas-fired plant elsewhere in the system)

(ii) force majeure risks can be more dangerous for nukes than for wind farms, and again, in addition to the loss of a large chunk of capacity in one go, present additional safety issues which have a cost - such costs should similarly be added to the cost of nukes.

This is all about consistency of the requirements applied to each technology in their evaluation.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 11:13:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I say that as someone generally favorable to nukes, when run the French way. I just have a lot of trouble understanding the visceral hostility of so many nuke proponents against wind (not talking about you in particular, as you have been generally precise in your arguments about different technologies)

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 11:15:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US, they are often vying for an artificially constrained defined pool of money, especially under PAYGO rules and the Senate and House committee systems. Under feed-in tariffs, that source of conflict would be gone, but there would still be the others.

They are complementary, of course, in terms of their mutual benefit from long haul transcontinental grid to grid "Electricity Superhighways" but there is enough legacy of conflict that the complementarity on that front cannot be tapped into very easily.

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 Thu Aug 5th, 2010 at 05:57:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frater Thomas:

wind is not much of an option in russia for much the same reason you dont see a lot of them in northern sweden. King winter is not your friend.

perhaps King Winter is not my friend, as i do prefer beach weather, but...

  1.  Care to explain the turbines running unattended in the Arctic and Antarctic going back years?  At 4000 meters in the Canadian Rockies?

  2.  Care to explain the windparks throughout the Canadian plains, Wyoming, the heavy winters of Buffalo Ridge Minnesota?

  3.  Care to explain the thousands of turbines in Mongolia, and now across the border in China's worst winter weather?

  4.  Care to explain why Siemens just signed a deal to place 1250 MW in Russia by 2015, and 5 GW by 2020, in joint venture with Russian Manufacturing? Here.


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 11:29:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed you can't go much further North in Europe than the location of Havøygavlen wind park, operational for 7 years North of Nordkapp in Norway...

...and then there is Tauernwindpark in Austria, operational for almost eight years at a height of 1,900 m...



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

by DoDo on Wed Aug 4th, 2010 at 12:16:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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