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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 4:19 pm 
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I saw this discussion on Slashdot this weekend:
https://hardware.slashdot.org/story/16/ ... es-on-fire

The Slashdot blog linked to a couple news articles about the recent fire at the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility:
http://gizmodo.com/the-world-s-largest- ... 1777767880
http://news3lv.com/news/local/mirrors-b ... near-primm

This site is already set up for natural gas power generation as the solar collectors need a morning "boost" to produce power through the day. They obviously have a large grid connection. The site is relatively remote but yet has infrastructure for a power plant. What I'd like to see is this site be used to build a nuclear power plant.

What we've seen in the USA is that new nuclear reactors have been largely limited to sites that already have a nuclear reactor. The building of new nuclear reactors is largely to replace those that have reached the end of their operational life span, we're just replacing the old with new and not growing in output. I'd like to see a precedent set for building nuclear fission reactors on existing power plant sites that previously hosted non-nuclear power.

This is not a new idea to pair alternative energy with nuclear fission on the same site, what I propose is actually implementing this idea at Ivanpah. What kind of hurdles would have to be overcome to make this happen?

It would certainly be preferable to see this site used to host a molten salt reactor and/or a small modular reactor but even if it is used to host a traditional solid fuel reactor this would be a win. Given that a traditional solid fuel reactor has a typical output in the 1000 MW range and the site currently hosts a 400 MW solar thermal plant it would take some upgrades to the site to host such a power plant. Using it to host a small modular reactor, or two, or three, is (in my mind at least) more logical.

This power plant has been in trouble from the start, and it represents a large investment in capital. I'd think that the investors and regulators would like to see this investment put to use when (not if) this power plant is shut down. This recent fire is likely to make the regulators even more suspicious about the future capability of this power plant and I think this would make an opening for nuclear fission to advance.

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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 4:34 pm 
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A site for a nuclear power plant should have...

- Plenty of cold cooling water. The more and the cooler the better (thermal efficiency). An alternative used in Iran/Tunisia/Algeria... power plants are dry cooling towers. These are more expensive. The efficiency is lower.
- Close to the very high voltage grid... It requires unnecessary investment to build an extra line to the existing grid.
- As close as possible to the electricity consumption
- Close to a railroad or major road. It requires unnecessary investment to build roads and/or railway lines.
- Ideally close to an existing nuke as you can use part of the infrastructure and share personal.

That means the nuke is better placed at the pacific coast.

Holger


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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 7:21 pm 
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Location: Iowa, USA
I'll give a rebuttal to your concerns based on my admittedly limited knowledge.

HolgerNarrog wrote:
A site for a nuclear power plant should have...

- Plenty of cold cooling water. The more and the cooler the better (thermal efficiency). An alternative used in Iran/Tunisia/Algeria... power plants are dry cooling towers. These are more expensive. The efficiency is lower.

The site already has cooling for the existing solar power plant, if a similarly sized SMR is placed on site then the same infrastructure can be used. Alternatively an air cooled reactor can be placed on the site.

HolgerNarrog wrote:
- Close to the very high voltage grid... It requires unnecessary investment to build an extra line to the existing grid.
- As close as possible to the electricity consumption

This is true for any power plant and given that a power plant exists on this site then it would appear these conditions have been met.

HolgerNarrog wrote:
- Close to a railroad or major road. It requires unnecessary investment to build roads and/or railway lines.

The Ivanpah site is right next to I-15. I looked at what aerial photos I could find and I see something that is either a rail line or pipeline nearby, if it is a rail line then this condition has been met. Alternatively this can be a test of the claims that a SMR can be brought on site by truck.

HolgerNarrog wrote:
- Ideally close to an existing nuke as you can use part of the infrastructure and share personal.

Since this would be a site for a new style of nuclear reactor then any personnel from an existing nuclear power plant would be as well trained for this site as any personnel from any other power plant, such as those currently at the Ivanpah site. My assessment may be false but I think it would not be too much of a leap to make that argument. Also, the NRC has offices in nearby Las Vegas and there are a handful of still operational and recently shutdown reactors in southern California. Finding people willing and able to operate the plant should not be difficult.

HolgerNarrog wrote:
That means the nuke is better placed at the pacific coast.

Having seen what happens to nuclear reactors on the Pacific coast this assessment can be contested. There is another common name used for the Pacific Coast, the Ring of Fire. Placing a nuclear reactor far from the threats of tsunami and earthquakes seems like a good idea to me. This is especially true for air cooled SMRs that do not need access to large bodies of water for cooling or bringing in large equipment.

I don't mean to suggest that your concerns are unfounded, I went through a similar checklist in my head. What my argument boils down to is that the site was built to the specifications of a solar to steam turbine power plant, these specifications would be identical or nearly so for a small modular nuclear reactor. This site exists and is operational but given the recent technical and financial troubles of this solar power facility it seems logical to make use of as much of the infrastructure on this site as possible so that it can continue to provide "clean" energy. I suggest this take the form of transitioning the site to host a nuclear power reactor.

It is equally logical, perhaps more logical, to transition the site to host natural gas, windmill, or photovoltaic power generation. I'd rather see it used for nuclear power.

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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: May 23, 2016 12:19 am 
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Kurt Sellner wrote:
I'll give a rebuttal to your concerns based on my admittedly limited knowledge.
HolgerNarrog wrote:
A site for a nuclear power plant should have...
- Plenty of cold cooling water. The more and the cooler the better (thermal efficiency). An alternative used in Iran/Tunisia/Algeria... power plants are dry cooling towers. These are more expensive. The efficiency is lower.
The site already has cooling for the existing solar power plant, if a similarly sized SMR is placed on site then the same infrastructure can be used. Alternatively an air cooled reactor can be placed on the site.
I believe Ivanpah uses dry cooling.

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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 10:01 am 
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The cost of overhead power lines of any reasonable distance is negligible compared to the cost of the plant itself. So existing grid coupling is almost irrelevant.


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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 2:03 pm 
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Kurt Sellner wrote:
This site is already set up for natural gas power generation as the solar collectors need a morning "boost" to produce power through the day. . . . What my argument boils down to is that the site was built to the specifications of a solar to steam turbine power plant, these specifications would be identical or nearly so for a small modular nuclear reactor. This site exists and is operational but given the recent technical and financial troubles of this solar power facility it seems logical to make use of as much of the infrastructure . . . as possible so that it can continue to provide "clean" energy. I suggest this take the form of transitioning the site to host a nuclear power reactor. . . . I'd rather see it used for nuclear power.
Kurt, Ivanpah is struggling to stay in business. It was sited for thermal-solar. Even though advanced nuclear reactor designs have greater siting flexibility, Ivanpah doesn't seem to be a good location. Maybe for Vegas.

Interesting timing. The fire happened last Thursday when simultaneously in D.C., the DOE was hosting the Improving the Economics of America’s Nuclear Power Plants summit. One issue on balancing the markets to yield fairness to nuclear mentioned how nuclear outperforms renewables. (Such as the world's largest solar-thermal power plant at Ivanpah!--is that a Russian name?)

If Ivanpah solar-thermal plant stays afloat in the market for the interim, the booster ought to be one of the new advanced reactor designs. (I favor the pure thorium fuel cycle so I guess my only candidate is the Flibe Energy LFTR?)

If the bipartisan Advanced Nuclear Technology Development/Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act of 2016 would get bumped up and passed through Congress to the President's desk so he can sign it as he's pledged, along with other legislation that seeks to level the playing field for nuclear, assuming the solar-thermal plant stays open for business, retrofitting Ivanpah with one of the new designs would seem an interesting experiment in energy technology considerations.

I mostly agree with your implicit answer, Kurt, except for the "we" part.
Wikipedia wrote:
The project was developed by BrightSource Energy and Bechtel. It cost $2.2 billion; the largest investor in the project is NRG Energy, a power generating company based in Princeton, New Jersey, that has contributed $300 million. Google has contributed $168 million; the U.S. government provided a $1.6 billion loan guarantee, and the plant is built on public land. In 2010, the project was scaled back from the original 440 MW design, to avoid building on the habitat of the desert tortoise.

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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 3:19 pm 
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Advantages: The site is next to Interstate 15 which connects LA to Los Vegas. There are major power lines parallel to it to take power from Hover Dam to LA. There is also a railroad also parallel to the highway.

Disadvantages: The area is in the desert. It is very hot and dry, and California is in a multi-year drought. Also, California is very antinuclear.

If you can really dump heat into a very hot desert, maybe something in Nevada might work.

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PostPosted: Jun 13, 2016 5:17 pm 
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Ivanpah would be a great place to prove that nuclear doesn't NEED water. But a SM LWR would lose a not inconsequential bit of efficiency.

It would be interesting to see if a therml COOLTH storage system could be set up to hold daytime condensor heat for nighttime rejection. And at that time, the demnd is lower so some of the output could be used to move the cooler air in greater volumes.

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