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UK’s nuclear industry decline is a permanent process

Cash-strapped nuclear industry has no answers to Britain’s energy shortages. While the issues limiting the UK’s nuclear power plant capacity may be temporary, its broader pattern of decline is not. As power
prices spike to record levels this week, one vital corner of Britain’s energy supply is failing to operate at full tilt. A nuclear reactor at Hartlepool has been floundering over an issue with a gas turbine, while another at Heysham 1 is offline after a forced outage last month.

Overall, the capacity of Britain’s ageing nuclear fleet of reactors is down by about one-third (5.2GW compared to 8GW) this week amid planned maintenance and unexpected problems. It is only adding to pressure on officials attempting to balance the electricity system as gas prices soar to record highs on a supply crunch, and wind output drops as weather calms.

But while the issues limiting nuclear power plant capacity may be temporary, its broader pattern of decline is not. The industry, which produces about 18pcof UK power annually, sits at a crossroads amid a rapidly evolving energy system. Most of the ageing nuclear fleet is set to shut down by the end of
the decade and several within the next few years.

Whether and how it will be replaced is uncertain, with industry critics accusing the Government of
dragging its feet at a time when Britain needs low carbon power to fill gaps in wind and solar generation. In a bid to help the flailing sector, ministers are set to bring forward a new finance mechanism which supporters believe can help reduce the costs of large nuclear projects. Consumers
would pay for the projects upfront while they are being built.

This,however, is sure to be a much tougher sell this winter given the soaring wholesale costs likely to boost bills. Whitehall is aiming to bring forward at least one large-scale nuclear project this parliament, and is puttingsome money into developing the next generation of technology: Advanced Modular Reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs).

So, does it matter if more nuclear power is not developed? Many experts say yes, given the stable
role they can provide. But that doesn’t mean it should be at any cost……….

 Telegraph 15th Sept 2021

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/09/15/cash-strapped-nuclear-industry-has-no-answers-britains-energy/

September 21, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, politics, UK | Leave a comment

A site once earmarked for nuclear power will now assemble wind turbines

A site once earmarked for nuclear power will now assemble wind turbines,   WHYY, This story originally appeared on NJ Spotlight. Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight, 15 Sept 21,

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority and PSEG have signed a longtime lease on land that is planned to become home to the New Jersey Wind Port — a step enhancing the state’s goal of becoming the hub of a burgeoning offshore wind industry.

The site, located on an artificial island in Lower Alloways Creek in Salem County next to three PSEG nuclear plants, is viewed by the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy as an almost ideal location to serve the supply needs of an offshore wind sector that’s expected to take root up and down the Eastern seaboard.

With an expansive footprint alongside Delaware Bay, lack of height restrictions, and easy access to the Atlantic Ocean’s wind farm lease areas, the Wind Port is one of a few select spots on the East Coast that can accommodate the marshalling, assembly and shipping of the huge turbines used to generate offshore wind power. Hundreds of feet tall, offshore wind turbines cannot fit beneath bridges, power lines and other naturally occurring barriers.

For PSEG, the lease agreement also should prove to be lucrative. The site was once viewed as the location for a fourth nuclear unit. But the company abandoned that concept when it appeared economically unsound. Now it’s looking to use the land to help secure its foothold in the emerging offshore wind industry. PSEG already has a 25% stake in the state’s first offshore wind farm, a 1,100-megawatt facility off Atlantic City to be built by Ørsted……….

“The New Jersey Wind Port is a transformational investment that will create hundreds of good jobs and drive billions of dollars of economic activity in South Jersey and throughout the state,” said EDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.

PSEG Chief Operating Officer Ralph LaRossa agreed. “Alongside PSEG nuclear plants, the New Jersey Wind Port will establish South Jersey as the heart of New Jersey economy,’’ he said. “By supporting the development of renewable energy and offshore wind power, this lease will establish New Jersey as the destination for clean energy development, operations, training, skills and innovation.’’

New Jersey has approved three wind projects, including two by Ørsted, one of the largest offshore wind developers, and another by New Shell Ventures and EDF Renewables — all in the Atlantic Ocean. The Murphy administration wants to develop 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035.

Along the East Coast, offshore investment through 2035 is anticipated to exceed $150 billion, according to the EDA.

The first rule of real estate and offshore wind is location, location, and location,’’ said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “The New Jersey Wind Port is uniquely positioned to jump start the state’s offshore wind industry and offshore wind in the region.’’ https://whyy.org/articles/a-site-once-earmarked-for-nuclear-power-will-now-assemble-wind-turbines/

September 16, 2021 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Energy Markets Bet Against Nuclear As Election Nears In Japan

Energy Markets Bet Against Nuclear As Election Nears In Japan, Oil Price, By Haley Zaremba – Sep 08, 2021  Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga shocked the world on Friday when he announced that he will be stepping down and declining to seek re-election after serving one term. ………

one candidate has emerged as a major frontrunner. ….. Taro Kono served as the minister in charge of battling Covid-19 in Japan. It is looking likely that Kono will garner the support of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), whose majority in the Japanese parliament ensures that any candidate who heads the party will ultimately win the race for Prime Minister. Kono emerged as the clear frontrunner in Japanese media polls over the weekend that asked respondents to indicate their preferred leader.

It remains to be seen whether Taro Kono will take the helm of Japan, but if he sticks to his guns, the Japanese nuclear energy sector could soon recede into the rearview. 

In addition to being known for his role in combating the novel coronavirus pandemic, Kono is also a noted anti-nuclear advocate with a long history of outspoken dissent about the nuclear energy that currently represents a fifth of Japan’s energy mix. Due to this history, the news of Kono’s ascent toward the Prime Minister position on Monday has already sent shockwaves through Japan’s energy markets.

So far, renewable energy markets are winning big. “Frenzied buying from retail traders sent Japan’s renewable energy stocks soaring Monday,” in response to Kono’s emergence as a top contender according to reporting from Bloomberg. Solar and biomass power company Renova Inc. saw its stock increase by 15% while solar firm West Holdings Co. hit an all-time high after its stocks jumped 9%. These gains came at a cost to nuclear energy firms and power companies, and Kansai Electric Power Co. stocks notably dropped 2.7%.

Although the markets have already spoken, it remains to be seen whether Kono will stick to his staunchly anti-nuclear stance if he enters office as Prime Minister. “Whether he will actually reflect his previous stance into his policies once the race for the prime minister position begins is a different story,” Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Tokyo’s Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. was quoted by Bloomberg. “The market is just getting ahead of itself.”

……..  Currently, the national plan “calls for renewable sources to provide between 22% and 24% of Japan’s electricity by 2030, and for nuclear energy to provide between 20% and 22%.” But nuclear energy is a hard sell in Japan, a country that is still recovering from the devastating 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster

Just this week, a full decade after the tragedy caused by an earthquake and ensuing tsunami, the International Atomic Energy Agency is reaching out to Japan to work alongside them in their continuing struggles to manage the radioactive waste still piling up after the 2011 accident. Japan has continued to use more than a million tonnes of water to cool the damaged reactors and prevent a meltdown, and now they’re running out of storage space for the radioactive waste water. Their plan? Dump it into the Pacific Ocean. 

The continued complications and hazardous aftereffects of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima throw the dark side of nuclear into stark relief for the Japanese public. ……… It remains to be seen whether Taro Kono will take the helm of Japan, but if he sticks to his guns, the Japanese nuclear energy sector could soon recede into the rearview. https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Energy-Markets-Bet-Against-Nuclear-As-Election-Nears-In-Japan.html

September 9, 2021 Posted by | Japan, renewable | Leave a comment

A Just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for Africa

Friends of the Earth Africa today launched ‘A Just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for Africa’ which offers a practical and much-needed opportunity to change the trajectory of energy development, distribution, and access on the African continent.

The report stresses the urgency to democratise energy systems, reduce the power of transnational corporations and enable peoples and communities to access sufficient energy to live a dignified life. The report which was launched during a webinar with key climate justice voices demands a complete shift from current dirty energy systems to achieve 100% Renewable Energy in Africa.

The plan found that it is technically and financially feasible, with an annual investment requirement of around US$130 billion per year. It lays out clear targets for this vision, with over 300GW of new renewable energy by 2030, as agreed
by the African Union, and over 2000GW by 2050. It also shows that the finance and investment needed to achieve the 100% renewable energy goal can be done through public finance from the global North, ending tax dodging and dropping the debt.

 All Africa 2nd Sept 2021

https://allafrica.com/stories/202109020695.html

September 6, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, renewable | Leave a comment

How much energy do we need to achieve a decent life for all?

 the amount of energy needed for decent living worldwide is less than half of the total final energy demand projected under most future pathways that keep temperature rise below 1.5° C. This indicates that achieving DLS for all does not have to interfere with climate goals. While this ratio changes in different climate mitigation scenarios and by region, the energy needs for DLS always remain well below the projected energy demands on the level of larger global regions.

How much energy do we need to achieve a decent life for all?,  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210902125025.htm

September 2, 2021 Source: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis Summary:

For many, an increase in living standards would require an increase in energy provision. At the same time, meeting current climate goals under the Paris Agreement would benefit from lower energy use. Researchers have assessed how much energy is needed to provide the global poor with a decent life and have found that this can be reconciled with efforts to meet climate targets.

For many, an increase in living standards would require an increase in energy provision. At the same time, meeting current climate goals under the Paris Agreement would benefit from lower energy use. IIASA researchers have assessed how much energy is needed to provide the global poor with a decent life and have found that this can be reconciled with efforts to meet climate targets.

In the fight to eradicate poverty around the world and achieve decent living standards (DLS), having sufficient energy is a key requirement. Despite international commitments such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in many areas progress on achieving DLS worldwide has been slow. There are also fears that improving energy access could lead to higher carbon dioxide emissions, which would interfere with goals to alleviate climate change.

In a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, IIASA researchers used a multidimensional approach to poverty to conduct a comprehensive global study on DLS. The researchers identified gaps in DLS by region and estimated how much energy is needed to fill them. They also assessed whether providing everyone with a decent life is compatible with climate goals.

Studies on poverty often use an income-based definition for defining poverty thresholds ($1.90/day or $5.50/day), which obscures that there are other factors contributing to human wellbeing more directly. In contrast, DLS represent a set of material prerequisites to provide the services needed for wellbeing, such as having adequate shelter, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, cooking stoves and refrigeration, and being able to connect physically and socially via transportation and communication technologies. Crucially, this allows for calculation of the resources needed to provide these basic services.

The largest gaps in DLS were found in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 60% of the population are lacking in at least half of the DLS indicators. The researchers also identified high DLS deprivation in indicators such as sanitation and water access, access to clean cooking, and thermal comfort in South and Pacific Asia, and more moderate gaps in other regions. One of the most striking findings of the study was that the number of people deprived of basic needs according to DLS generally far exceeds the number of people in extreme poverty, meaning that current poverty thresholds are often inconsistent with a decent life.

When looking at which components of DLS require the most investment in energy, the researchers identified shelter and transport as having the largest share.

“The majority of the global population does not currently have decent levels of motorized transport. An important policy lesson for national governments is the large impact of investing in public transit to reduce the use of passenger vehicles, which generally have much higher energy use per person,” says Jarmo Kikstra, lead author of the study and a researcher in the IIASA Energy, Climate, and Environment Program.

The upfront energy required globally to build new houses, roads, and other materials to enable DLS provision for all from 2015 to 2040 is about 12 exajoules per year. This is only a fraction of current total final energy use, which exceeds 400 exajoules per year. The increase in annual energy for operating this increase in services, including maintenance costs, is more substantial, eventually increasing by about 68 exajoules. For some countries, reaching this goal would require robust changes in development, which will be challenging, especially in the Global South.

“For most countries, especially many poor countries in Africa, unprecedented growth in energy use as well as more equitably distributed growth are essential to achieving DLS before mid-century,” Kikstra adds. “Therefore, the biggest challenge for policymakers will be to achieve an equitable distribution of energy access worldwide, which is currently still out of reach.”

According to the study, the amount of energy needed for decent living worldwide is less than half of the total final energy demand projected under most future pathways that keep temperature rise below 1.5° C. This indicates that achieving DLS for all does not have to interfere with climate goals. While this ratio changes in different climate mitigation scenarios and by region, the energy needs for DLS always remain well below the projected energy demands on the level of larger global regions.

“To achieve decent living conditions worldwide, it seems that we do not have to limit energy access to basic services as there is a surplus of total energy. What is perhaps unexpected is that even under very ambitious poverty eradication and climate mitigation scenarios, there is quite a lot of energy still available for affluence,” says study author Alessio Mastrucci.

“Our results support the view that on a global scale, energy for eradicating poverty does not pose a threat for mitigating climate change. However, to provide everyone with a decent life, energy redistribution across the world and unprecedented final energy growth in many poor countries is required,” concludes study author, Jihoon Min.

September 6, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, ENERGY | Leave a comment

In China, wind and solar energy are the clear winners over nuclear.

A Decade Of Wind, Solar, & Nuclear In China Shows Clear Scalability Winners
China’s natural experiment in deploying low-carbon energy generation shows that wind and solar are the clear winners.   https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/05/a-decade-of-wind-solar-nuclear-in-china-shows-clear-scalability-winners/ By Michael Barnard, 6 Sept 21,

Generation in TWh added each year by wind, solar and nuclear in China 2010-2020

My 2014 thesis continues to be supported by the natural experiment being played out in China. In my recent published assessment of small modular nuclear reactors (tl’dr: bad idea, not going to work), it became clear to me that China has fallen into one of the many failure conditions of rapid deployment of nuclear, which is to say an expanding set of technologies instead of a standardized single technology, something that is one of the many reasons why SMRs won’t be deployed in any great numbers.

Wind and solar are going to be the primary providers of low-carbon energy for the coming century, and as we electrify everything, the electrons will be coming mostly from the wind and sun, in an efficient, effective and low-cost energy model that doesn’t pollute or cause global warming. Good news indeed that these technologies are so clearly delivering on their promise to help us deal with the climate crisis. 

In 2014, I made the strong assertion that China’s track record on wind and nuclear generation deployments showed clearly that wind energy was more scalable. In 2019, I returned to the subject, and assessed wind, solar and nuclear total TWh of generation, asserting that wind and solar were outperforming nuclear substantially in total annual generation, and projected that the two renewable forms of generation would be producing 4 times the total TWh of nuclear by 2030 each year between them. Mea culpa: in the 2019 assessment, I overstated the experienced capacity factor for wind generation in China, which still lags US experiences, but has improved substantially in the past few years.


My thesis on scalability of deployment has remained unchanged: the massive numerical economies of scale for manufacturing and distributing wind and solar components, combined with the massive parallelization of construction that is possible with those technologies, will always make them faster and easier to scale in capacity and generation than the megaprojects of GW-scale nuclear plants. This was obvious in 2014, it was obviously true in 2019, and it remains clearly demonstrable today. Further, my point was that China was the perfect natural experiment for this assessment, as it was treating both deployments as national strategies (an absolute condition of success for nuclear) and had the ability and will to override local regulations and any NIMBYism. No other country could be used to easily assess which technologies could be deployed more quickly.

In March of this year I was giving the WWEA USA+Canada wind energy update as part of WWEA’s regular round-the-world presentation by industry analysts in the different geographies. My report was unsurprising. In 2020’s update, the focus had been on what the impact of COVID-19 would be on wind deployments around the world. My update focused on the much greater focus on the force majeure portions of wind construction contracts, and I expected that Canada and the USA would miss expectations substantially. The story was much the same in other geographies. And that was true for Canada, the USA and most of the rest of the geographies.

But China surprised the world in 2020, deploying not only 72 GW of wind energy, vastly more than expected, but also 48 GW of solar capacity. The wind deployment was a Chinese and global record for a single country, and the solar deployment was over 50% more than the previous year. Meanwhile, exactly zero nuclear reactors were commissioned in 2020.

And so, I return to my analysis of Chinese low-carbon energy deployment, looking at installed capacity and annual added extra generation.

Grid-connections of nameplate capacity of wind, solar and nuclear in China 2010-2020 chart by author
Continue reading

September 6, 2021 Posted by | China, Reference, renewable | 1 Comment

Nuclear power “just doesn’t make sense” for Ireland, a leading energy expert says.

Why nuclear power ”just doesn’t make sense” for Ireland, news talk,  Stephen McNeice, 26 AUG 2021

Nuclear power “just doesn’t make sense” for Ireland, a leading energy expert says.

John Fitzgerald was speaking following recent fears that Ireland could face potential blackouts this winter.

Those concerns have eased now that two power generators are due to come back online in October and November, ahead of the high-demand winter season.

However, the situation has raised concerns about how the system will cope during periods when renewable sources such as wind turbines are unable to produce much power.

Those concerns have increased as more and more data centres are announced for Ireland – all of which require substantial and consistent supplies of electricity.

That has led to some questions about whether nuclear power – which, outside of safety concerns, is seen as a reliable source of energy by many countries – should be considered for Ireland.

Professor Fitzgerald – Research Affiliate at the ESRI and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin – told The Pat Kenny Show it wouldn’t work for Ireland.

“Our generators come in what are called 400 megawatt lumps – nuclear comes in 1200 megawatt lumps.

“If you have a bloody massive nuclear generator in Ireland, you’ve got to have three gas stations puttering away and ready to go in case anything goes wrong. It just doesn’t make sense.”

rading electricity……   

he suggested the current make-up of Ireland’s electricity grid does make sense.

He said: “The thing about nuclear is it’s always on, whereas with wind it’s intermittent.

“When you have a load of wind on the system, having a load of nuclear doesn’t fit – it makes more sense to put in more wires to France and Britain and trade the electricity.

For now, he said the concerns with wind energy are about what happens in periods – usually in January – when you have several weeks with low or no wind.

He explained: “You have to have alternatives so the lights don’t go off when the wind doesn’t blow.

“What the concerns were – although there are less now than they would have been two weeks ago – is there are two big gas generators which are broken.

“They’re an important part of the system, and if they didn’t come back on… then when the wind didn’t blow we’d be short of generation.”

However, he said EirGrid and its predecessors have ensured Ireland’s electricity supply has been one of the most reliable in the world.

He added: “We just need to keep them at it.”   https://www.newstalk.com/news/why-nuclear-power-just-doesnt-make-sense-for-ireland-1243726

August 30, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, Ireland, politics | Leave a comment

German utility aims to expand renewables, rejects keeping nuclear reactors open

RWE CEO rejects keeping nuclear power plants open, Reuters DUESSELDORF, Aug 24 – German utility RWE (RWEG.DE) rejected on Tuesday the idea of letting nuclear power plants stay open for longer due to the fact they produce less carbon dioxide.

“We are not available for this,” CEO Markus Krebber told journalists. The German government is paying four nuclear operators – including RWE – nearly 2.6 billion euros ($3.05 billion) in compensation for forcing them to shut their nuclear plants early in response to the Fukushima disaster.

RWE, which used to rely heavily on nuclear power and coal, has transformed itself into one of the largest green power companies in Europe.

Krebber called for a new federal government to accelerate the pace of the shift to renewable energy by increasing targets, expanding the grid and cutting the approval procedures for wind energy plants.

Krebber, who took over as CEO at the end of April, will present his strategy in the fourth quarter, including a new dividend policy: “We are no longer a dividend stock. We are a growth stock,” he said. https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/rwe-ceo-rejects-keeping-nuclear-power-plants-open-2021-08-24/

August 26, 2021 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Renewables are beating nuclear

It’s Not a Competition, But Renewables Are Beating Nuclear Anyway,   Bloomberg Green  By Nathaniel Bullard19 August 2021,  Energy giant BP Plc has been publishing its annual review of global energy statistics for seven decades. (I’ve been reading it — and digesting its data — for about a fifth of that time.)
The latest edition published in July is, understandably, quite focused on the largest year-on-year decline in primary energy consumption since 1945. But there’s another finding worth noting: 2020 was the first year in which renewable power generation (excluding hydro) surpassed nuclear power generation.

……..with nuclear generation basically flat since the turn of the century and renewables continuing to grow, the latter caught the former in 2020.


[on original – graph showing dramatic rise in renewable energy,  uneven output of  nuclear]     Compare the shape of the renewables curve to nuclear’s. The perfectly smooth renewables curve is an aggregate of hundreds of geothermal plants, thousands of biomass turbines, a-third-of-a-million wind turbines, and more than a billion photovoltaic modules, installed across numerous global markets. It shows not a single annual decline in more than 50 years.
Nuclear is basically the opposite: a single technology with a small number of plants in an even smaller number of markets. Many discrete decisions — whether to embark on a massive expansion in one market, say, or to shut down generation for years in the wake of disaster — are visible in this chart. There, in 2011, is the Japanese nuclear fleet response to the Tōhoku earthquake and ensuing tsunami. And we don’t need to squint to see the shutdown of six plants last year in the U.S, Sweden, Russia, and France.

This is what the nuclear fleet’s growth trajectory looks like, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency: basically flat in the 21st century, with only four more plants operational now than in 2001.

Nuclear plants are also pretty old. Most were designed for a 40-year useful life, and a lot of them are approaching that age now—a full 45% are between the ages of 31 and 40. There are more nuclear plants older than 46 than there are those under 6.

……….  It takes years, sometimes a decade or more, to bring a nuclear plant into full operation, which means that there’s a significant lag between when construction starts and when the finished facility is connected to the grid. New nuclear construction in the U.S. is also running over schedule and over budget, for many reasons………. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-19/it-s-not-a-competition-but-renewables-are-beating-nuclear-anyway

August 21, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

An expert explains that the Philippines’ nuclear power plant would be OK, but solar power would be faster and better.


Instead of nuclear power, why not solar power?  
https://opinion.inquirer.net/143165/instead-of-nuclear-power-why-not-solar-power Philippine Daily Inquirer  August 17, 2021,   Last July 8, Peter Wallace wrote in his column about nuclear power plants being safe and that there are many countries operating their nuclear power plants safely over the last 50 years: the United States, Germany, Taiwan, Japan. etc.

I agree about recommissioning the Bataan nuclear plant. As a chemical engineer, I can say that we have enough controls to operate it safely.

However, reviving the Bataan plant will take at least five years. Why not recommend the use of solar panels instead, per Republic Act No. 11285 or the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, which requires building owners to use renewable sources like solar? The Philippines is the only country in the world with 2,000 hours of sun per year.

Germany went on to use solar panel systems on roofs and, in a short period of time, four million houses have been generating power, resulting in the shutdown of many coal plants. In the United States, New York appointed an energy czar to speed up the use of renewable energy.

Australia gives incentives to households that use solar batteries. lberdrola Spain has made tremendous progress on the use of renewable energy, becoming one of the top five electric utility companies in the world. Portugal and Spain have invested in photovoltaic battery storage systems.

August 17, 2021 Posted by | Philippines, renewable | Leave a comment

Comparing the costs of nuclear and solar power

Solar challenging nuclear as potential climate change solution https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/08/09/solar-challenging-nuclear-as-potential-climate-change-solution/

Research suggests that we can power 80% of the United States with wind, solar, and 12 hours of energy storage, but the replacement of nuclear power plants hasn’t been financially viable. Is that about to change?AUGUST 9, 2021 JOHN FITZGERALD WEAVER  Nuclear power delivers almost 20% of all electricity in the United States, and about 50% [ if you don’t count the uranium-nuclear fuel chain] of all low-emission electricity. Moreover, the United States has almost 100 nuclear power units operating more than 90% of the time, providing a steady base of power generation.

But moving forward, it seems nuclear has lost its swagger. Price increases, project delays, and cancellations have caused what may prove to be generational damage to nuclear power’s reputation. pv magazine USA has previously reported on industry pricing models, showing nuclear’s lagging pricing.

Now, Georgia Power’s Vogtle Unit 3 and Unit 4 – the nation’s only nuclear generating units currently under construction – have announced further delays and price increases. Conservative cost estimates suggest the two 1.117 GW facilities will require at least $30 billion to complete, including $3 billion in finance costs and $27 billion in construction costs.

Solar+storage costs

As solar and energy storage professionals, we must be conscious of the limitations of the sun, and the cost of energy storage. As we all know, the sun also sets. And while research suggests we can power 80% of the U.S. with wind, solar, and 12 hours of energy storage, being able to replace a nuclear power plant that runs 24/7/365 in wind, rain, snow, and sleet simply hasn’t been financially viable.

But is it today?

The chart above [ on original] shows the price of solar panels from 1976 through the end of 2019. Here, we see prices fall by more than 99.8% from over $100 per watt down to nearly $0.20 per watt. Below, we see the price of battery packs starting in 2010 and ending in 2020, based on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Here, we see costs fall from $1,191/kWh to $137/kWh – a price decrease of greater than 88%.

In both cases, we can expect prices to continue trending downward in both the middle and long term. And so, what can we expect to pay when we replace a nuclear power plant with solar power plus batteries?

Cash to spend

The chart above [ on original] shows the price of solar panels from 1976 through the end of 2019. Here, we see prices fall by more than 99.8% from over $100 per watt down to nearly $0.20 per watt. Below, we see the price of battery packs starting in 2010 and ending in 2020, based on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Here, we see costs fall from $1,191/kWh to $137/kWh – a price decrease of greater than 88%.

In both cases, we can expect prices to continue trending downward in both the middle and long term. And so, what can we expect to pay when we replace a nuclear power plant with solar power plus batteries?

Cash to spend

In order to replace the two nuclear plants while the sun is down, the batteries would need to replicate two 1.117 GW power sources for 16 hours. The total energy storage capacity would be 39.3 GWh, after we add an extra 10% for safe measure.

Roughly speaking, the total cost of these solar+storage facilities would be:

  • $8.4 billion for 10.55 GWdc of solar power, fully installed at $0.80/watt
  • $527 million for hypothetical power grid upgrades at $0.05/watt
  • $7.8 billion for 39.3 GWh of energy storage fully installed at $200/kWh
  • Around $16.8 billion grand total, no incentives

So, Georgia, pv magazine USA just saved you more than $13 billion (as of today, anyway).

Some caveats

It’s almost certain that a solar facility of this magnitude – roughly 27,000 acres, or around 0.07% of Georgia’s land – would be split among many landowners in the state. If land lease rates in Georgia are comparable to what  might be earned in Pennsylvania, the project could provide as much as $27 million per year in income to Georgia landowners for decades to come.

Furthermore, the solar power plants would start generating electricity and revenue within about three years of the first signature, and two years after groundbreaking. The new Vogtle reactors began construction in 2013 (planning began much earlier), and are projected to complete in 2022-23.

With these considerations in mind, the repowering costs to get a solar+storage facility to a 40 to 80-year lifetime would likely be offset by the fact that the solar facility will enter service at least eight years earlier than the equivalent nuclear site. Additionally, during the solar plant’s operating lifetime, it saves massive amounts of regular operations and maintenance costs, 

 as well as specialist engineer labor costs. The nuclear facility will easily last 40 years, and potentially as long as 80. However, the ongoing operations and maintenance costs are significant, as well as upgrades and equipment replacements that start to become necessary after 40 years. And sometimes, those $1 billion dollar upgrades go wrong, and a nuclear power plant gets trashed.

When we do repower the batteries and solar panels, they almost certainly will be cheaper, and operate at a higher efficiency, likely stretching the life of the solar facility to 50+ years. Again, this solar+storage facility would generate 20% more juice in the summer (when the power is needed most in Georgia) because we oversized it for the winter.

In the end, it would be best if we had a healthy ecosystem of clean energy generation systems that include nuclear [but nuclear is not clean]. However, if we’re going to debate the costs of nukes vs. solar, then it is no longer a discussion.

August 10, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, renewable, USA | 5 Comments

US Renewables Generated More Power Than Coal Or Nuclear In 2020 For First Time

US Renewables Generated More Power Than Coal Or Nuclear In 2020 For First Time,  IFL SCience,  Jack Dunhill, 3 Aug 21, Renewables produced more power than coal or nuclear power in the USA last year for the first time in history, according to a new report by the Energy Information Administration. With surges in windsolar and hydroelectric power, the renewable industry produced 21 percent of all electricity generation in the US last year, a massive increase over the previous decade.  

Over the past year, the US has seen record growth in renewable power generation, adding 26 gigawatts of production capability in 2020 alone, 80 percent more than 2019. Combined with previous infrastructure, it brought the total renewable power production up to 170 gigawatts, which edged out both nuclear and coal by just a few percent (20 percent and 19 percent of total energy production, respectively). ….. https://www.iflscience.com/environment/us-renewables-generated-more-power-than-coal-or-nuclear-in-2020-for-first-time

August 5, 2021 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) publishes analysis of report of-”Just Transition Commission in Scotland” – moving to renewables, while providing jobs.


 NFLA publishes report on the need for a ‘Just Transition’ to help
communities and protects jobs in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
The UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) publishes today a
detailed analysis on the work of the Just Transition Commission in Scotland
and the importance of such policies being delivered across the UK and
Ireland.

The necessity of tackling climate change requires a move away from
fossil fuels and towards renewables. In the view of the NFLA, the long time
and huge cost required to build new nuclear facilities means they are not a
practical alternative within a ‘just transition’, whilst there are
extensive costs in nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management
that will keep jobs in this sector going well into the next century.

There are lots of jobs in the fossil fuel and related sectors, and it is
important, given the lessons that took place from the end of the mining
industry, to transfer these jobs and skills to other sectors as carefully
and as fairly as possible.

A ‘Just Transition’ was included, following extensive international trade union lobbying, in the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement in reference to providing “a just transition of the
workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs”. The NFLA
report focuses on, and very much welcomes, the work of the Scottish Just
Transition Commission, which has reported to the Scottish Government.

Its final report, published just before the recent Scottish Parliament
elections, had four key conclusions. These included: Pursue an orderly,
managed transition to net-zero that creates benefits and opportunities for
people across Scotland. Delivery of this must be a national mission. Just
transition roadmaps will give direction and confidence, driving investment
that brings jobs, skills and value. Equip people with the skills and
education they need to benefit from the transition.

A just transition is
shaped by Scotland’s citizens, not imposed on them – empowers and
invigorates communities and strengthens local economies. Share benefits
widely and ensure burdens are distributed on the basis of ability to pay.
In this way a just transition refocuses on wellbeing; it uses the power of
government intervention and public finance (such as the Scottish National
Investment Bank and public pension funds) to drive action; it explores new
funding methods for local projects; it fully explores the distributional
impact of taxes; it ensures new technologies and services are delivered in
a way that works for people, and improves the lives of the most vulnerable
in our society. For the NFLA, this ground-breaking report could be a
blueprint for action not just in Scotland, but provide detail for the rest
of the UK, Ireland and the wider European Union.

 NFLA 3rd Aug 2021

 https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/news/nfla-report-need-for-just-transition-help-communities-protects-jobs-mitigating-adapting-climate-change







August 5, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

Bitcoin’s electricity use is boundless. No wonder that Elon Musk etc now want nuclear power to fuel it.

Here’s what a modern massive Bitcoin mining operation in upstate New York looks like:

Greenidge Generation’s bitcoin mining operation at their power plant in New York State.

How Bitcoin is Heating This Lake and Warming the Planet more https://earthjustice.org/blog/2021-june/bitcoin-dirty-power?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_term=page&fbclid=IwAR30Z3V5q_FlRtyr1NnIZCQ6tU34tMs1AQUp8rgFRVGNTYaNoXl7I6Au8dg

Bitcoin is bringing dirty power plants out of retirement. Earthjustice is fighting this new trend in order to put an end to fossil fuels once and for all.By Ben Arnoldy | June 1, 2021 Seneca Lake in upstate New York is drawing attention to Bitcoin’s impact on the environment. A nearby Bitcoin mining plant is heating the lake waters — and the climate.

Bitcoin, the first and most famous cryptocurrency, is now burning through as much energy and pumping out as much greenhouse gas as entire nations.

Current estimates put the currency’s electricity usage on par with countries like the Netherlands. This is, shall we say, not helpful at a time when humanity is racing to switch to clean energy before we cook the planet.

In fact, Bitcoin’s energy demands are so high that the people who get rich from producing it want to pull dirty power plants out of retirement to power their operations. Earthjustice is urging regulators not to let that happen.

Bitcoins aren’t physical coins, so you might be asking why does a virtual currency require much energy?

The appeal of Bitcoin for some people is it allows them to trust no person, bank, or government. Bitcoin is entirely decentralized. But there needs to be some system to prevent fraudsters from making copies of the coins and trying to spend them twice.

To solve this, the system incentivizes many people rather than one trusted entity to devote computing power to validating transactions. The system is competitive, awarding new Bitcoins only to one “miner” who completes the validating and other tasks first, leading to an arms race of ever faster and more powerful computer rigs. While other cryptocurrencies use much less energy, Bitcoin’s particular solution to security without trust, it turns out, is extremely energy-intensive.

That monster requires a lot of energy to run the machines and to keep them from overheating. The cooling system for this rig uses cold water from Seneca Lake and discharges it back at temperatures reportedly as high as 98 degrees — with a permit to go even higher — harming trout and promoting algal blooms. For years, Bitcoin miners have sleuthed for places to set up shop where power is cheap and the climate cool, such as China’s Inner Mongolia or the hydro-abundant Pacific Northwest.

But the mining operation pictured above went next level. They own their own damn power plant:

Investors bought this plant in 2014. It was a fixer-upper. Mothballed power plants lying around for sale tend to be dirty fossil fuel plants.

The Greenidge Generation station in New York had been built in the 1930s as a coal-fired power plant. By 2011, there was not enough demand for its costly, dirty power and it was shut down. After not operating for several years, the new owners switched its fuel to dirty gas and re-started its operations, using the plant’s old pollution permits.

The plant struggled to find demand for its electricity, and the operators turned their attention instead to mining Bitcoin. Pollution started to skyrocket. In just one year, emissions of greenhouse gases increased ten-fold. The plant currently uses 19 MW of power, enough to power 14,500 homes if it weren’t mining Bitcoin. And it has plans to go to 55 MW and the capacity to go to 106 MW. At full capacity, the plant would blow past its current pollution permit — but that permit is up for renewal.

Earthjustice and the Sierra Club have sent a letter to regulators urging them not to allow the company, Greenidge Generation LLC, to expand the air permit and to take notice of the emerging trend of cryptocurrency miners taking over power plants and operating them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. At least one other plant in the region is planning to get in on the game, and there are nearly 30 plants in upstate New York alone with the potential to convert to full-time Bitcoin mining. A coal plant in Montana is also ramping back up for cryptocurrency mining.

“The aim of the letter to the New York Department of Conservation is to say this is not some random or isolated thing. Cryptocurrency is real and increasingly important, and dirty power plants are coming back from the dead,” says Earthjustice attorney Mandy DeRoche. “Greenidge just gave other retired, retiring, or peaking plants a roadmap of how to do it, how to recruit investors, how to go public on NASDAQ.”

Earthjustice has spent years fighting in public utility commissions around the country to ensure old, dirty power plants get pushed into retirement — and if replacement power is needed, steer clear of dirty gas in favor of clean energy. Our goal is to hasten the day when everything is powered with 100% clean energy.

New York state has a new climate law, and DeRoche says the commitments made in that law won’t be met if dirty power plants get resurrected and operate 24/7. That should spur legislators and regulators to clarify the regulatory gray zone that miners have exploited here with power generation that’s not sent to the grid.

There are many ways to tackle this issue, and we are exploring them,” says DeRoche. “One solution may be to require renewable generation for cryptocurrency mining, with an excess renewable generation requirement on top, so that the mining is not preventing renewables from going directly into the grid. We need that clean power on the grid as fast as possible to mitigate the unequal and most harmful impacts of climate change.”

The climate crisis is accelerating, and we have less than a decade to dramatically cut our carbon emissions if we hope to preserve a livable planet. Tell your members of Congress it’s time to build a sustainable and just future with the American Jobs Plan.

August 3, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, ENERGY, Reference | 1 Comment

Australia’s carbon emissions down 20% due to wide take-up of renewable energy

 Telegraph UK, 29th July 2021, For Australia’s part, our experience with technology-orientated pathways
gives us confidence that with the right investments and partnerships, a prosperous net-zero world is well within our reach.

On the ground, our real-world rollout of renewables has made clear to Australian firms and families the immense benefits of investing in clean technology. Because of their embrace of our new energy future, Australia’s emissions are down over 20 per cent on 2005 levels and green technology continues to be taken
up at record levels right across our nation.

 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/07/29/technology-key-free-prosperous-net-zero-world/

July 31, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, renewable | Leave a comment