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Nuclear energy hot topic once again $7 billlion seriously?

  1. Jul 1, 2007 #1
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070701/ap_on_sc/rethinking_nukes [Broken]

    There is also fervent anti-nuke opposition waiting to be re-stoked. Jim Riccio of Greenpeace said nuclear advocates are exploiting global warming fears to try to revive an industry that's too risky to fool with.

    "You have better ways to boil water," Riccio said.

    " Watts Bar reservoir in Tennessee after 22 years of construction and $7 billion in costs"

    I don't see how it can be cost competitive to build a $7 billion dollar plant.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2007 #2


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    You "don't see how it can be cost competitive" at $7 billion? That doesn't mean a whole lot except in relation to how much income it will generate from selling the electricity. So why don't you calculate it for us? Use the following info:
    It has a capacity of 1167MW. Assume $.1/kWh.

    Also, the thoughtless opinions of anti-technology crackpots really aren't worth anything here.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007
  4. Jul 2, 2007 #3


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    It isn't! But that was then - and we are now.

    If the plant wasn't finished it would represent stranded costs - and it would a totally wasted investment. Unit 1 was finished, and unit 2 could be for less than starting brand new construction. Other units, e.g. Bellefonte were nearly completed and ready to start, but those were finally mothballed and then disassembled. However, that is in the past.

    The cost overruns for some of the last plants, e.g. River Bend, Grand Gulf, Shoreham (mothballed then disassembled), Zimmer (cancelled), Midland (cancelled and converted to gas).

    ("Financial Review" 23rd January 1984)


    Some of the huge cost overruns were related to delays and then retrofitting and design changes in the wake of TMI. Then a little later the fire which knocked out Browns Ferry units. Since then the industry has developed a huge amount of experience on nuclear power plant design issues and operation. That experience has been incorprated into the design of the current and next generation of plants.

    New plants are expected to cost on the order of $1-2 billion, depending on capacity.

    Other large costs were related to ligitation, some of that related to petitions by anti-nuclear groups.

    We'll see what happens.
  5. Jul 2, 2007 #4


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    It DOESN'T really cost $7 billion to build a nuclear power plant.

    The problem is that the anti-nukes DELAY nuclear power plants that have been
    approved for construction.

    This draws out the construction process. The utility BORROWS the money to build the
    plant. It has to pay the interest and carrying charges as the plant is being built. The
    plant doesn't start earning its keep until it is finished and producing power.

    However, the actions of the anti-nukes DELAY the construction, and the utility ends up
    borrowing the money to pay the carrying charges - and the cost the the construction loan

    For example, construction on Watts Bar was begun in 1973. Watts Bar was completed
    in 1996 - just two years shy of a quarter century to build!!! It doesn't take that long to
    build a nuclear power plant. What takes that long is to keep fighting lawsuits brought
    by the anti-nukes.

    It is the height fo HYPOCISY for the idiot anti-nukes to complain about something

    The anti-nukes have long stated that their strategy was to draw out the process to make
    it too expensive.

    The USA HAD a two step licensing process. If you look at building construction; it's a
    one step process. Once you get approval of your building's construction permit - you
    can build it. As long as you satisfy the building inspectors who make sure you comply
    with the construction codes - at the end of construction - you can occupy the building.

    In a nuclear plant, once the plant is built - the operating license is NOT automatic even
    if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission certifies that the plant was properly built to specs.

    It takes an entirely separate government action to license - an action that can be
    challenged in the Courts. So the anti-nukes get a second chance to hold up the
    operation of the plant - with the price of the plant escalating all the time.

    That $7 Billion price tag was due to the interventions of the anti-nukes; and it is the
    RANK HYPOCRISY for their mouthpieces to claim nuclear power is too expensive
    when they are the ones that CAUSED IT!!

    Congress recognized that the anti-nukes were ABUSING the LAW they wrote; and
    changed it to a one-step process.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  6. Jul 2, 2007 #5
    I agree that it is hypocrisy. Still, since greenies can do this, their action should be factored into any realistic projection of cost overruns.
  7. Jul 2, 2007 #6
    Is $1 billion for light water nukes? What are the next generation nukes that can be built?
  8. Jul 2, 2007 #7


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    It's hard to factor in something you don't know.

    Additionally, Watts Bar was an especially attractive target for the anti-nukes.

    The USA's nuclear weapons employ tritium as part of their constituent materials. Tritium
    is the "heavy-heavy" form of Hydrogen - H3 - and is radioactive with a 12 year half life.

    Because it decays, tritium in the USA's nuclear weapons needs to be replenished with
    freshly made tritium, which requires a nuclear reactor. Until about 1988, the USA
    operated a fleet of heavy water reactors at its Savannah River site in Aiken, South
    Carolina. However, in 1988; the last of these reactors was shutdown. The USA
    had to rely for many years on its already made inventory of Tritium to replenish its

    The Clinton Administration decided that a US Government-owned commercial power
    reactor would be used as the irradiation source for production of new Tritium. The
    reactor chosen was Watts Bar which is owned by the TVA - the Tennessee Valley


    http://www.tva.gov/news/tritium.htm [Broken]

    Watts Bar also faced particularly agressive challenges and a whole new set of legal
    issues because it was UNIQUE among nuclear power reactors, since it is the ONLY
    one that also has a role in the USA nuclear weapons program. [ TVA's Sequoyah
    nuclear power plant was also selected; but, to my most recent knowledge; has not
    actually produced tritium, it's in a "stand-by" phase.]

    Not only could the anti-nukes shutdown the operation of a nuclear reactor; they could
    also throw a monkey-wrench into the maintenance of the USA's strategic nuclear

    Courtesy of ABC News KGO Radio in San Francisco, the current estimates of
    electricity costs by generation technology:


    Dr. Gregory Greenman
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  9. Jul 3, 2007 #8
    Thanks for sharing this with me, if new reactor plants were built tomorrow, what reactor design would you favor, based on an informed view? lightwater still?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  10. Jul 3, 2007 #9


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    Plans on the books are for advanced LWRs at the moment - about 30 or so - in the US at least. ABWRs have been built and two are being completed in Taiwan now. EPRs are being built, but there are already delays and some technical issues to be resolved. AP-1000 and ESBWR are still in design stages and in the approval process at the NRC.

    It has to be LWR because GenVI concepts are not ready, and probably won't be for a decade or more.
  11. Jul 3, 2007 #10
    Oh okay. What about pebble bed reactors?
  12. Jul 3, 2007 #11


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    Yes - lightwater reactors do enjoy the most mature development. However, I recently
    attended the meeting of the Mathematics and Computation Division of the American
    Nuclear Society in Monterey in April.

    The plenary talk on the "Global Nuclear Energy Partnership [ GNEP ]" was given by
    Dennis Spurgeon of the U.S. Dept. of Energy. In addition to a fleet of advanced lightwater
    reactors, the GNEP plans also envision that the fleet also include some "actinide burner"
    reactors to deal with nuclear waste - to "burn up" the long-lived isotopes, in order to make
    ultimate disposal easier.

    For that function, I would suggest a reactor design that I worked on 20+ years ago when
    I was on the staff of Argonne National Laboratory. The reactor is called the Integral
    Fast Reactor or IFR. The leader of the project was the then Associate Director of
    Argonne, Dr. Charles Till. Dr. Till gave an interview to the PBS series "Frontline" about
    a decade ago when Frontline did a program on nuclear power:


    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  13. Jul 3, 2007 #12


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    I'm less sanguine about pebble bed reactors after attending the Monterey M&C Division
    conference in April. There were several talks about pebble bed reactors. These
    reactors present some interesting challenges in terms of calculating the operation of the
    reactor - because they are stochastic. That is - you don't really know where all the pebbles
    are at any given time - there's a random distribution coded into the reactor simulation
    programs to account for this.

    I'd just feel more comfortable if I didn't have to "guess" what the configuration and
    operating parameters of the reactor were. I prefer a more deterministic approach.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  14. Jul 4, 2007 #13
    So in the near future it will be LWR, how soon can IFR designs come online?
  15. Jul 4, 2007 #14
    I did not know that. I've heard of claims that those pebbles are highly flammable and that they can jam.
  16. Jul 5, 2007 #15


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    Argonne had a working prototype of the IFR reactor by modifying EBR-II; the Experimental
    Breeder Reactor II at the Argonne-West site in Idaho. Argonne also demonstrated the
    reprocessing system by modification of the Hot Fuel Examination Facility - South that
    adjoins the EBR-II reactor site.

    Dr. Till refers to the working prototype in the Frontline interview; which actually took
    place in the control room of the IFR prototype.

    The IFR concept is about as advanced as any of the "next generation" reactor designs.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  17. Jul 5, 2007 #16


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    I wouldn't say "highly" flammable - which is a term I would reserve for gasoline, and
    charcoal lighter fluid.

    I would say "flammable" - they are essentially "charcoal briquettes".

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  18. Jul 13, 2007 #17
    Do you think IFR are the best possible design reactors, given humanity's need for safe, clean energy with little toxic long term waste?

    I know there is a lag time from the blueprints to construction to going online,
    but why do they say 4th generation nuclear reactors will take 2030 to be online?

    I don't think the LHC took that long!
  19. Jul 13, 2007 #18


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    I think it is a design that is worthy of serious consideration.

    I believe the inclusion of a number of "actinide burner" reactors is being considered
    by the Dept. of Energy. The IFR would certainly be a candidate. I wouldn't want to
    pick a particular design without studying all the possibilities.

    However, one can certainly read about the advantages of the Integral Fast Reactor
    in the Frontline interview with Argonnne's Dr. Charles Till:


    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  20. Jul 13, 2007 #19
    Do you favor actinide burner reactors, or for that matter, what type of design would you like to see implemented in the world.
  21. Jul 14, 2007 #20


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    You don't need all your reactors to be actinide burners.

    The current vision under GNEP is that there will be a handful of
    actinide burner reactors; and the rest of the fleet will be other
    forms of advanced reactors.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
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