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PostPosted: Nov 29, 2015 7:48 pm 
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http://slashdot.org/story/303085

FYI.


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PostPosted: Nov 30, 2015 7:07 pm 
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Here's a quote from the article:

Quote:
Fortunately, we have solved this problem before. In 1949 the federal government built a test facility at Idaho National Laboratory to study and evaluate new nuclear reactor designs. We owe our nuclear power industry to the foresight of those New Dealers, and we need their openness to innovation again today.


Certainly sounds reasonable that we should be trying these new reactor designs in pilot plants to get the "kinks" out and maybe see some even better ideas. You learn by doing. Expertise in any endeavor is obtained by continual practice. When it comes time to actually build large scale reactors again, we need to be ready.


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PostPosted: Dec 01, 2015 12:39 am 
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The thread on Slashdot was also interesting because of a number of posts critical of molten salt designs. No idea whether their objections were reasonable or not. I guess there just isn't enough engineering experience (yet)?


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PostPosted: Dec 03, 2015 11:18 pm 
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josb wrote:
The thread on Slashdot was also interesting because of a number of posts critical of molten salt designs. No idea whether their objections were reasonable or not.


After reading many of the comments I believe that a great many of the objections are not reasonable.

Many of the complaints on nuclear power generally mention the cost, danger, waste management, or other issues that are based on solid fuel reactors and do not apply to molten salt reactors. Complaints on molten salt reactors specifically are based on claims of cost, unproven designs, and waste management again. These claims are based on the problem that we have a regulatory environment that makes disproving these claims difficult. No one can demonstrate the true costs, design issues, waste production, and so forth until someone is actually given permission to build one. Regulators are unwilling to license construction until these questions can be answered. A convenient catch-22 for those that oppose nuclear power.

Much of the criticism against nuclear power is based on the claim that unreliable energy like wind, solar, and hydro, will become so cheap in the future that building any nuclear power plant would be a fools errand. A common claim is that improvements in wind and solar are moving so quickly that by the time a nuclear power plant is approved and built that wind and solar would be so cheap that no one would bother to turn it on. Claims like these are rather optimistic given that we've seen government subsidies of wind and solar for fifty years and all we have to show for it is that we get less than 3% of our electricity from wind and solar.

I saw a rather interesting analysis of the economics of solar power. This analysis placed the known power producing properties of solar power and compared it to the known demand curves. What it came up is that solar power can only provide a certain amount of electricity because at some point it becomes unprofitable. Solar power will peak at noon but electric power demands peak at about sunset. The prediction is that, given enough solar power on the grid, the price of electricity at local noon will be zero. Solar power producers will have to give away their electricity at noon so that they can afford to charge money for it in the morning and afternoon. During the night electricity could be quite expensive but then few people would care, most of them will be asleep.

I may be telling the readers here something that they already know but I found that analysis fascinating. It's rare to see anyone bother to make an analysis of solar power based on minute by minute pricing, such as what utilities have to deal with all the time. Most people will point to average prices, and hand wave over the rest, and then claim that in a few years solar and wind will be so cheap that it would be stupid to try to build a nuclear power plant now. These unreliable energy advocates will claim that in the time it would take to get a nuclear power plant approved and built that the owners could not afford to even turn it on.

That's another thing I picked up from these articles describing the problems with renewable energy, it's unreliable. From now on I'm not going to call wind and solar "green", or "renewable", or "alternative" energy sources. I'm going to call them what they are, unreliable. Even if we figure out how to store unreliable energy it's still unlikely to compete with coal and nuclear. The cost is still going to be a problem. We've made advancements in wind and solar power through the years, that's undeniable. But we've also made advancements in coal, nuclear, and other forms of energy. People will claim that wind and solar can advance while also claiming that nuclear power cannot. I suppose that is true so long as government policy forbids any construction of a nuclear power plant.

We will see our new atomic age, or we will go extinct. We have enough known coal and natural gas reserves to continue the status quo for potentially another thousand years. If we run out of fossil fuels before we get our new atomic age then we will revert to cavemen. The human race will then die out as our technology fades and we lose our advantage against the beasts and elements of this world. Without nuclear power the last human will die in a fight against hunger and cold.

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Disclaimer: I am an engineer but not a nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, or industrial engineer. My education included electrical, computer, and software engineering.


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PostPosted: Dec 04, 2015 3:03 am 
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We do need a modern reactor fleet that does not generate radio active waste for baseline carbon free power. What is ignored is the role sustainable energy technologies like 110 meter tall wind turbines and 25% efficient solar panels articulated on 2 axis can reliably supply over 30% of our grid power. Germany hit 100% renewable power peak one summer afternoon. In California we are at 25% of statewide power grid supplied by the biggest solar plants in the world and upgraded wind farms in the Tehachipis. The proof is visible daily on the Cal ISO website that monitors the state transmission lines. the bell curves for wind and solar power output offset each other daily so very regularly peak demand matches peak solar and evening power demand covered by peak wind . Batteries and other storage will shift renewables supply closer to peak demand especially during spring and fall. Utility solar is down to below A $1 dollar a watt installed according to recent bids won.
To make advanced reactors realistic they need to be designed cheaper and safer by eliminating waste products and weaponizable materials.
To even be competitive economically the cost would have to come down to the $5/watt range to get LCOE down to $50/ MWh, the rate wind and solar being sold in 20 year PPA. Even if the min by min market drops to zero at noon, utility Solar plants are still collecting $50/MWh.
Distributed power like rooftop solar are on the way to being aggregated into generator nodes per substation driving peak power down to fractions of historical peak. Distributed storage and demand reduction technologies will drive the peak demand down to baseline levels ( where reactors serve best).
That being said wind and solar will always be cheaper peak power, its the remainder 50% of demand baseline needs a 24/7/365 carbon free source, hydro can't fill that gap maybe 5- 20% varying by region. So to go carbon free we need at least 30% of load supplied by reactors which would require at least doubling of our current reactor output power. These percentages may sound rounded off , the Clean Power Plan is even worse on its estimates.
I have seen the charts of the products produced by thorium reactor could drive the levelized costs to this range.


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PostPosted: Dec 04, 2015 7:47 am 
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'...Utility solar is down to below $1 dollar a watt installed...'
Except in winter, you get half as much sunlight, so it's like $2 per watt. When it's cloudy, you might get about 15% of nameplate power, so it's about $7 a watt. At night, it's whatever your batteries cost, plus a whole new set of solar panels ( one set can't run your grid and charge your batteries at the same time.) And when your batteries run out of juice - which they will- you'd better have been paying to keep all your fossil burners on standby. Then build the whole shebang again every twenty years, for the panels, and probably half that for the batteries and inverters, if they're in your house. If you think concentrated solar thermal can provide the power at night, CSP is currently much more expensive to build than photovoltaic, and has only been built in deserts - cloud diffused light is even less use to a CSP plant than to PV ones. Building in deserts means trucking all the gear out there, housing the workers there, and then putting in power lines back to civilisation - or across the Mediterranean, if you 've been listening to fairy tales like Desertec. The world's largest CSP plant, Ivanpah, has been producing about half as much power as it was supposed to, and the most prominent company developing CSP, Abengoa of Spain, has just gone bankrupt.


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PostPosted: Dec 04, 2015 12:30 pm 
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jbacha wrote:
We do need a modern reactor fleet that does not generate radio active waste for baseline carbon free power. What is ignored is the role sustainable energy technologies like 110 meter tall wind turbines and 25% efficient solar panels articulated on 2 axis can reliably supply over 30% of our grid power. Germany hit 100% renewable power peak one summer afternoon. In California we are at 25% of statewide power grid supplied by the biggest solar plants in the world and upgraded wind farms in the Tehachipis. The proof is visible daily on the Cal ISO website that monitors the state transmission lines. the bell curves for wind and solar power output offset each other daily so very regularly peak demand matches peak solar and evening power demand covered by peak wind . Batteries and other storage will shift renewables supply closer to peak demand especially during spring and fall. Utility solar is down to below A $1 dollar a watt installed according to recent bids won.
To make advanced reactors realistic they need to be designed cheaper and safer by eliminating waste products and weaponizable materials.
To even be competitive economically the cost would have to come down to the $5/watt range to get LCOE down to $50/ MWh, the rate wind and solar being sold in 20 year PPA. Even if the min by min market drops to zero at noon, utility Solar plants are still collecting $50/MWh.
Distributed power like rooftop solar are on the way to being aggregated into generator nodes per substation driving peak power down to fractions of historical peak. Distributed storage and demand reduction technologies will drive the peak demand down to baseline levels ( where reactors serve best).
That being said wind and solar will always be cheaper peak power, its the remainder 50% of demand baseline needs a 24/7/365 carbon free source, hydro can't fill that gap maybe 5- 20% varying by region. So to go carbon free we need at least 30% of load supplied by reactors which would require at least doubling of our current reactor output power. These percentages may sound rounded off , the Clean Power Plan is even worse on its estimates.
I have seen the charts of the products produced by thorium reactor could drive the levelized costs to this range.


If carbon gets taxed, nuclear adoption will skyrocket as all fossil fuels will become too expensive and solar limits will be quickly exposed.
Solar is good for perhaps 1/3 of an average temperate climate country energy, rising to perhaps 50% for a equatorial/tropical country.
Until we have economical multi TWh storage this limit will never be broken.
With storage, equatorial/tropical countries could exceed 2/3, perhaps 50% for places on the

Nuclear is expensive because the level of nuclear "safety" paranoia have gotten out of bounds.
We kill 100000x more people / TWh with fossil fuels than nuclear. Rollback the crazy nuclear safety paranoia and anti nuclear taxes and nuclear costs could drop by half.

And that comes from probably the most pro solar guy in this forum (with at least a few years membership).

The real problem with nuclear is the people that let their irrational fear trump logic. Nuclear is quite affordable in China, India, South Korea where people seem to be far less paranoid about nuclear "safety".

And before you tell me about Germany... Germany doesn't matter. What matters is the whole European grid. Germany can dump their excess solar/wind generation onto their neighbors and buy it back with nuclear/coal generation when it has a shortfall. Same for the UK with that massive London offshore wind farm, when UK had a week long windless period in the winter, France nuclear saved the day.

At least 25% nuclear is a must if we decide to really get rid of fossil fuels in the world (for many countries at least 50%).

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PostPosted: Dec 04, 2015 3:54 pm 
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jbacha wrote:
That being said wind and solar will always be cheaper peak power, its the remainder 50% of demand baseline needs a 24/7/365 carbon free source, hydro can't fill that gap maybe 5- 20% varying by region. So to go carbon free we need at least 30% of load supplied by reactors which would require at least doubling of our current reactor output power. These percentages may sound rounded off , the Clean Power Plan is even worse on its estimates.


I wasn't aware you could command wind and solar panels to produce at will.

Especially since peak demand in many countries happens at an entirely different time to peak insolation.


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