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Thread: what improvements should be made in the next generation nuclear power plants?

  1. #21

    Default Re: what improvements should be made in the next generation nuclear power plants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    I'm saying that high capital costs are a problem, not a benefit. Solar has incredibly low capital costs AND low O&M costs.
    And I'm telling you that high capital costs are a benefit. The issue with solar is that it'll require considerable change in the way we manage the power grid. More than that, it's really a private-driven effort. Government action is most effective when high capital costs are involved, not vice versa.

    Then you better read it instead of making assumptions about nuclear construction which you seem to be grossly misinformed on.
    You have yet to point out a "misconception" I possess. I have no issue saying that I don't know the minutia of nuclear energy. Very few people do, but I didn't make many statements that are particularly controversial.

    UAMPS just purchased the NuScale (twelve 60 MWe reactors) plant at Idaho national laboratories. Each member is a small town. They funded NuScale the exact same way Renewable projects are funded.
    In 2015, as part of its long-term carbon emissions avoidance strategy, UAMPS formally launched the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP). In August 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a second, $16.7 million cost-shared financial assistance award to NuScale Power, LLC for the preparation of a combined construction and operating license application (COLA) for the UAMPS CFPP.

    Important steps continue towards commercialization of the CFPP, like initial licensing and investigative activities that are underway with the expectation that COLA preparationóincluding selection of the preferred site for the projectówill be completed in 2020.

    In 2016 the DOE issued a site use permit granting access to Idaho National Laboratory (INL) for the purposes of identifying potential locations for the NuScale plant. If suitable, the use of a preferred site for such purposes is 99 years from the commercial operation date for the first nuclear power module at the CFPP.
    I highly doubt that these small nuclear reactors are profitable. Renewables are almost always better.

  2. #22

    Default Re: what improvements should be made in the next generation nuclear power plants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    And those low O&M costs don't become a benefit until 20 years after reactor completion.
    That I don't understand. If you are saying that the lower operating and maintenance cost don't pay back the high investment cost until after 20 years, I agree. But lowered operating.and maintenance cost will be a benefit right away, it is just that they won't offset the high investment cost until after 20 years.


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    I don't get how you think nuclear energy isn't scalable. The entire reason we've moved to large reactors is because it costs effectively no more for a 1400 MWe reactor than it does for a 900 MWe reactor. Successive builds are also known to reduce costs of construction by 12 to 18% and reduce construction times.
    A 1400 MW reactor does cost more to build, but some of the costs like the regulator cost to certify the reactors is about the same regardless of size, so while the construction cost might go up by 30%, you are generating 56% more power, which represents more revenue to pay for the construction. You can spread the cost of building over more kilowatts-hr with a bigger plant.
    Last edited by Common Soldier; October 13, 2019 at 09:29 PM.

  3. #23

    Default Re: what improvements should be made in the next generation nuclear power plants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sukiyama View Post
    And I'm telling you that high capital costs are a benefit. The issue with solar is that it'll require considerable change in the way we manage the power grid. More than that, it's really a private-driven effort. Government action is most effective when high capital costs are involved, not vice versa.
    I don't see how high capital cost could ever be a benefit. If you had low enough capital cost, you would not need government support. It is only lower operating cost that makes nuclear power economically feasible. Although plants are expensive to build, you save on fuel cost over the long run.

    One of the advantages od solar is has an increaingly lower capital cost, make it more economical. Howeverx the biggest draw back on solar is its lack of reliability - youncsnt depend on it providing power when you need the power. You have to develop very costly storage power, or use back up fossil fuel plants that provide the back up power when you need it. This usage of the fossil (gas turbine) to back up can add cost. A power plant isn't generating any revenue to pay back the investment cost unless it is generating power. You need these backup plants, because electric companies need to.providr power reliably, whenever the customer needs its, but if the plant is idle it is just an insurance policy and expense. You can at present only use so.much solar power until the cost of.all the idle fossil fuel plants you need as backup becomes an issue.


    While nuclear can provide all our electric theory, and practically does in France, solar cannot until we have a lot better storage technology than we have.




    I highly doubt that these small nuclear reactors are profitable. Renewables are almost always better.
    If depends on the cost per kw of the small reactor, which depends heavily on the initial price to build them. If you can build the small reactors cheap enough, and operate them cheaply enough, they could be cost effective. The way US had built reactors I agree it would be unlikely small reactors cost effective, but wirh different methods, it could've different.

    Renewables might have a lower investment cost, unless you consider the backup power cost that is needed, but a single small nuclear power plant might be able to in theory completely provide all a small community's electric needs, a solar system system never will with current storage technology. Wind is also too unreliable to depend completely on for all electric power needs.
    Last edited by Common Soldier; October 13, 2019 at 09:31 PM.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: what improvements should be made in the next generation nuclear power plants?

    A 1400 MW reactor does cost more to build, but some of the costs like the regulator cost to certify the reactors is about the same regardless of size, so while the construction cost might go up by 30%, you are generating 56% more power, which represents more revenue to pay for the construction. You can spread the cost of building over more kilowatts-hr with a bigger plant.
    Yes that is correct but the nuclear reactor and the nuclear steam supply system (NSSS) are not the primary driver of cost, and the cost to build a 1650 MWe reactor (Taishan, EPR) is currently no more than to build a 1100 MWe reactor (Haiyang, AP-1000). Both cost 7 Billion USD per unit when converted from Yuan.

    The primary drivers of cost are poor project and supply chain management, which causes delays, which financing models then drive up costs due to those delays. Incompetence with construction is the other primary driver, as the majority of costs for nuclear plants are embedded in all the secondary systems and their construction (wiring, piping, etc.)

    If depends on the cost per kw of the small reactor, which depends heavily on the initial price to build them. If you can build the small reactors cheap enough, and operate them cheaply enough, they could be cost effective. The way US had built reactors I agree it would be unlikely small reactors cost effective, but wirh different methods, it could've different.
    I have high hopes for the BWRX-300 if it finds a buyer. It uses about 17,000 m^3 of concrete compared to NuScale which uses 162,000 m^3 of concrete, more than an AP-1000 even. It's things like that, where errors in pouring and setting the rebar in the containment structure, are major drivers of cost. They had to replace 600 million worth of rebar at VC Summer.

    a solar system system never will with current storage technology.
    Storage tech is actually what I work with, and current storage is more than sufficient for microgrids. Graphene, Flow Batteries, Lithium Ion are all viable with microgrids and small communities. By 2021 storage technology costs will be viable for achieving 95% renewable.

    Wind is also too unreliable to depend completely on for all electric power needs.
    Offshore wind has gotten pretty good. 45% capacity factors have been demonstrated, with current models rated up to 55% capacity factor possible (although not yet demonstrated). I'm seeing claims of 63% possible but I want to see proof of that before I believe them.

  5. #25

    Default Re: what improvements should be made in the next generation nuclear power plants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Common Soldier View Post
    I don't see how high capital cost could ever be a benefit. If you had low enough capital cost, you would not need government support. It is only lower operating cost that makes nuclear power economically feasible. Although plants are expensive to build, you save on fuel cost over the long run.

    One of the advantages od solar is has an increaingly lower capital cost, make it more economical. Howeverx the biggest draw back on solar is its lack of reliability - youncsnt depend on it providing power when you need the power. You have to develop very costly storage power, or use back up fossil fuel plants that provide the back up power when you need it. This usage of the fossil (gas turbine) to back up can add cost. A power plant isn't generating any revenue to pay back the investment cost unless it is generating power. You need these backup plants, because electric companies need to.providr power reliably, whenever the customer needs its, but if the plant is idle it is just an insurance policy and expense. You can at present only use so.much solar power until the cost of.all the idle fossil fuel plants you need as backup becomes an issue.


    While nuclear can provide all our electric theory, and practically does in France, solar cannot until we have a lot better storage technology than we have.
    It's a lot easier, politically, to structure a one time massive capital expenditure, than it is to approve sustain spending over a long period of time. For example, if you look at any fighter program, F-14, F-22, F-35, etc, you will see that a lot of these programs are subject to budget cuts. That's because spending is projected over a long period of time, 20-30 years, which is then subject to periodic reviews and oversight. That's how you end up with 187 F-22s instead the original 750. On the other hand, if you earmark a specific, X dollar amount in a form of a long-term loan, that money is a lot harder to divert somewhere else.

    Also, because renewables are really cheap on a per-unit scale, it's much more efficient to simply subsidize them, set requirements on how much renewable energy production each state must have, or otherwise incentivize their adoption. With nuclear power, you cannot really do that. The extremely high capital costs means that the private sector is unlikely to take risks building them. This is where government is strong, they can take risks and "waste money" where private capital simply won't go due to inherent risk. High capital costs makes government intervention as the only effective source of funds.

    What you're talking about is baseload power. How much actual baseload we need is debatable, but the advantage of renewables is that they can be adopted bottom-up rather than top-down. A solar panel today is a sensible investment for a family if they have the money. Same with energy storage.

    If depends on the cost per kw of the small reactor, which depends heavily on the initial price to build them. If you can build the small reactors cheap enough, and operate them cheaply enough, they could be cost effective. The way US had built reactors I agree it would be unlikely small reactors cost effective, but wirh different methods, it could've different.

    Renewables might have a lower investment cost, unless you consider the backup power cost that is needed, but a single small nuclear power plant might be able to in theory completely provide all a small community's electric needs, a solar system system never will with current storage technology. Wind is also too unreliable to depend completely on for all electric power needs.
    That's what I'm saying. I'm very skeptical about the accounting behind these reactors. It's cool as a stunt, and as a development of eventually making these things cost-effective. Currently? I don't think they are. Plus, the use case for a small nuclear reactor is limited. It'd make sense in remote research stations, or at a location where building a power grid to is too expensive, etc. But for most people? Renewables make way more sense. If you're a very large commercial farm that needs a lot of energy, but you don't want to pay a utility company for wiring you to the grid, it'd probably make much more sense to get a Tesla power wall with wind turbines and solar panels.

    I'm also very optimistic about battery storage, as far as I can tell, it's already viable in many use cases.

    Science Alert: Power Wall in Australia.

  6. #26

    Default Re: what improvements should be made in the next generation nuclear power plants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sukiyama View Post
    It's a lot easier, politically, to structure a one time massive capital expenditure, than it is to approve sustain spending over a long period of time. For example, if you look at any fighter program, F-14, F-22, F-35, etc, you will see that a lot of these programs are subject to budget cuts. That's because spending is projected over a long period of time, 20-30 years, which is then subject to periodic reviews and oversight. That's how you end up with 187 F-22s instead the original 750. On the other hand, if you earmark a specific, X dollar amount in a form of a long-term loan, that money is a lot harder to divert somewhere else.
    Programs get cancelled when the investment cost become to high, when they require too much capital expenditure. Many fighter programs struggle because they became too expensive. For example, if we could have man mission to Mars for mere billion dollars, we would start building the rocket tomorrow. But since rhe actual cost is 100 times that or more, it is just talk about going Mars, the capital expenditure is just too high. You logic is like sayi g it is better that a manner trip to Mars cost trillion dollars than a billion, and that is nonsense.

    Lower the capital investment of nuclear planr, and it will become more attractive to investors. You keep saying the high cost of nuclear power is a good thing. The higher cost of nuclear, the less likely people will be using nuclear. High capital cost is a good thing if youndont want to use nuclear power, and in that case you are right, if you don't want nuclear power to be used, a high capital cost is a good thing, but only in that case.


    Also, because renewables are really cheap on a per-unit scale, it's much more efficient to simply subsidize them, set requirements on how much renewable energy production each state must have, or otherwise incentivize their adoption. With nuclear power, you cannot really do that. The extremely high capital costs means that the private sector is unlikely to take risks building them. This is where government is strong, they can take risks and "waste money" where private capital simply won't go due to inherent risk. High capital costs makes government intervention as the only effective source of funds.
    Renewables are less reliable when it comes to producing power when you need it. No power should be subsidized, what ever system that is adopted should be on its own economic merit. Dictating how much renewables each state should have is a bad idea. You can give incentives.for their adoption, but we should let market forces work when possible. Some states are in a better position to.adopt renewals that others. Sunny New Mexico is in a better position to adopt more solar than say Michigan, New Mexico gets more sunlight. And some states get more winds ornhave more hydro electric power available - it depends on geographic features beyond a states control.

    What you're talking about is baseload power. How much actual baseload we need is debatable, but the advantage of renewables is that they can be adopted bottom-up rather than top-down. A solar panel today is a sensible investment for a family if they have the money. Same with energy storage.
    It depends on the cli.ate of your area whether renewables are cost effective.. Exactly how much storage and renewable power you need and how much did you spend for it are factors. . Storage energy is almost certainly not a good choice for most families today. For example, in an area like Illinois, I have a chart that says youncsn expect to generate 27 kw-hr per month with a 600 watt solar panel system. Assuming electric cost of around 16 cents a kilowatt-hour, that is a savings of only around $4.30 per month, let's say $5 per month. For a system with a turn key cost of $2000 installed, it would take. 33 years for the electric savings to pay for themselves. Not really feaible. Even for southern California, where you could expect the system to generate 58 kw-hr per month and electric cost are $.20 kw-hr, it would still take 14 years formthr system.ro pay for itself.

    On the grid systems, you are still tied to the utility companies, have a better payback. I have read you can get 600 w solar panel for $500, and taking a total installed cost of $1000, you would have a payback of 7 years. A larger system likely would have a better payback, installation would be a lower percentage, so if you are willing to spend $5000 to $10,000 you might get a 5 to 6 year payback. But you are sti.tied to the grid.






    That's what I'm saying. I'm very skeptical about the accounting behind these reactors. It's cool as a stunt, and as a development of eventually making these things cost-effective. Currently? I don't think they are. Plus, the use case for a small nuclear reactor is limited. It'd make sense in remote research stations, or at a location where building a power grid to is too expensive, etc. But for most people? Renewables make way more sense. If you're a very large commercial farm that needs a lot of energy, but you don't want to pay a utility company for wiring you to the grid, it'd probably make much more sense to get a Tesla power wall with wind turbines and solar panels.

    I'm also very optimistic about battery storage, as far as I can tell, it's already viable in many use cases.

    Science Alert: Power Wall in Australia.
    If you are not already tied to the electric grid, renewables are the way to go. If it cost you $5000 to wire electricity to your remote farm or cabin, solar and wind will be cheaper. And if the climate is right, you have a lot of sun like Australia's or a lot of wind, it makes sense for a utility as well to use a lot of renewable. But war and wind just won't be able to provide all the electric needs an utility has to provide, it will still need some fossils fuel plants as backup.

    It will remain to be seen if this be new battery technology works as well as proposed. Things in realiry often don't work as well as they did on paper, and the economics of batrerynstorage will depend on how long the batteries will actually last.

    Now, if they ever make a break through in carbon nanotube capacitors they are talking about, where you could have batteries cable od a couple thousand miles.odndriving on charge, that would revolurionalize things. But right now those kind of storage devices are not a reality.
    Last edited by Common Soldier; October 14, 2019 at 02:12 PM.

  7. #27

    Default Re: what improvements should be made in the next generation nuclear power plants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    Yes that is correct but the nuclear reactor and the nuclear steam supply system (NSSS) are not the primary driver of cost, and the cost to build a 1650 MWe reactor (Taishan, EPR) is currently no more than to build a 1100 MWe reactor (Haiyang, AP-1000). Both cost 7 Billion USD per unit when converted from Yuan.

    The primary drivers of cost are poor project and supply chain management, which causes delays, which financing models then drive up costs due to those delays. Incompetence with construction is the other primary driver, as the majority of costs for nuclear plants are embedded in all the secondary systems and their construction (wiring, piping, etc.)



    I have high hopes for the BWRX-300 if it finds a buyer. It uses about 17,000 m^3 of concrete compared to NuScale which uses 162,000 m^3 of concrete, more than an AP-1000 even. It's things like that, where errors in pouring and setting the rebar in the containment structure, are major drivers of cost. They had to replace 600 million worth of rebar at VC Summer .
    when it comes to construction, younhave to contend.wirh things like weather as well. Flooding in the area, unusually heavy rains, unusual early cold wearher can all delay and effect the quality of construction. As little ofnrhr reactor should be assembled at the construction site. An ideal reactor in my view should be able to be transported to the site, hooked up, and a way you go, everything self contained. Rhr Russian had a small nuclear reactor you could mount on a truck to transport to remote sites for power. Not really a reality for most power plants, but the less younneed to do on site, the better.



    Storage tech is actually what I work with, and current storage is more than sufficient for microgrids. Graphene, Flow Batteries, Lithium Ion are all viable with microgrids and small communities. By 2021 storage technology costs will be viable for achieving 95% renewable.
    Improved storage will make small nuclear power plants a less viable option. A nuclear plant will always be a hefty investment. Solar and wind will always have less investment, and the more you can improve storage, the more attractive renewables will become. If storage was cheap enough, customers could provide their own backup power instead od relying on the utilities.

    One application China is considering fornnuclrar is using them to provide heating for homes. In the US, and China. Most hearing of homes during winter is done by fossil fuels. A nuclear system can provide steam to heat buildings snd homes, eliminating the need for fossil fuels snd reducing CO2. This is actually pretty attractive use of nuclear power in my view, since it can utilize waste heat from nuclear plants that otherwise would be just thrown away. Innolder buildings in central city downtown, utilities used to have a central plant to provide steam to provide heating to a number of buildings through underground steam pipes.


    Offshore wind has gotten pretty good. 45% capacity factors have been demonstrated, with current models rated up to 55% capacity factor possible (although not yet demonstrated). I'm seeing claims of 63% possible but I want to see proof of that before I believe them.
    For a country like the US, with a vast interior, offshore wind isn't really an option in most places. Further, rhe North Sea is relatively shallow, making it easier to mount wind turbines offshore. I don't know if the US shoreline is as amenable to offshore wind power. Although in the Grand Banks it might work, Chesapeake Bay regions..

  8. #28
    Magister Militum Flavius Aetius's Avatar Aetī Avēas!
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    Default Re: what improvements should be made in the next generation nuclear power plants?

    Yes the US East coast from South Carolina northwards has MASSIVE potential for offshore wind.

  9. #29

    Default Re: what improvements should be made in the next generation nuclear power plants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    Yes the US East coast from South Carolina northwards has MASSIVE potential for offshore wind.
    That maybe so, but it still doesn't help the vast interior of the US which are thousands mile or more away from the coast. But it does mean that the US could be using a lot more renewables that it currently does.

    The new generation of nuclear reactors, which are much more.adaptable to changing power demands rhan the current reactors, could be be a good compliment for rhr variable renewable energy sources. The nuclear power plants could produce power at lower levels when renewables are at their peak, then produced more power when renewables are not available.

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