Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

It is currently May 23, 2018 6:12 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 22 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Breakdown of LWR costs
PostPosted: Feb 26, 2016 7:00 am 
Offline

Joined: Dec 22, 2015 9:54 pm
Posts: 5
I've been trying to do some research. The research predated the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, but now the tentative findings came out giving figures like $7.5b/GWe for conventional nuclear and $8.5b/GWe for SMRs I've begun to get a bit more desperate as I want to submit a response to the tentative findings, specifically the enormous costs.

Basically I'm trying to find an accurate breakdown of nuclear capital costs. I think most of us here know the capital costs of nuclear has done things no other industry has done. Anti-nuclear activists like to blame it on the whole industry being fundamentally flawed, my personal suspicion based on how cheaply the Chinese and Koreans have put up nuclear is that the nuclear regulator in most Western nations is fundamentally toxic. Significant lead times and delays (again due to the regulators or from hardcore green groups) I suspect also significantly contribute to the cost.

What I'd like to do is prove my suspicions. So has anyone seen any papers on the topic? Preferably dealing with actual constructed reactors.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 26, 2016 9:37 am 
Offline

Joined: Jun 19, 2013 11:49 am
Posts: 1512
Well just take a look at the costs at Barakah I would think.

That pretty much proves that the cost escalations have little to do with the reactors themselves.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 26, 2016 6:05 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sep 02, 2009 10:24 am
Posts: 509
Hinkley C is planned to be the most expensive reactor ever at about $8,000/KW. It's expected that the UK AP1000s and ABWRs will come in a bit below that.

I was looking for the graph which plots the overnight costs for reactors from the 1960s to the present day, but couldn't find it.

The UK expects SMRs to be quite a bit less - which is why they're pursuing them. I have no idea why people think they'll cost more.

At differing maturity of the costings, NuScale has mentioned $5,500/KW (I think), where as Moltex is talking about $2,000 / KW, though with a less mature concept.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 27, 2016 4:23 pm 
Offline

Joined: Oct 28, 2013 12:24 am
Posts: 257
Quote:
I was looking for the graph which plots the overnight costs for reactors from the 1960s to the present day, but couldn't find it.


Maybe you are looking for the graph on the thorcon page :

http://thorconpower.com/costing/should-cost-versus-did-cost

There is also a graph on the Professor Cohen website :

http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

One additional factor for the cost escalation is that there was not nuclear construction in the west since a long time. So we basically lost the experience in construction.

Also there are maybe differences on the financing conditions between the old reactors and the current ones, I don't know much about this subject.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 27, 2016 6:18 pm 
Offline

Joined: Jun 19, 2013 11:49 am
Posts: 1512
alexterrell wrote:
The UK expects SMRs to be quite a bit less - which is why they're pursuing them. I have no idea why people think they'll cost more.


Massive duplication of equipment in a gigawatt of SMRs compared to a gigawatt's worth of large reactor will be a killer.

Especially as the ESBWR shows that the "small reactors can have better passive safety" argument doesn't really wash with light water designs that can use boiling water as an emergency cooling mechanism.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 28, 2016 9:34 am 
Offline

Joined: Jul 14, 2008 3:12 pm
Posts: 5058
Quote:
Also there are maybe differences on the financing conditions between the old reactors and the current ones,


In case of high LWR costs there are several elephants in the room. Financing is one of the bigger bulls. Interest payments are a killer on the modern projects.

Indeed, if I were a major investor and had no considerations of morality, and was raking in the levels of interest - just the interest during construction - that current LWRs are suffering, I would not want the project to be delivered on time. I would want it to be delayed as long as possible, and I would be smart and put in extra interest payment if it were delayed. Then I would demand overly ambitious timelines and construction schedules, virtually ensuring that targets will fail, and I will be very rich.

Quote:
Massive duplication of equipment in a gigawatt of SMRs compared to a gigawatt's worth of large reactor will be a killer.


For the first few units only, cost goes down quickly. Problem about the large reactor is that you can only build one - and then you're bankrupt as you've found out that these large projects are not cost and time-manageable. Indeed, they rather remind me of a television soap series, always a new problem and complication. The error cost is enormous. With SMRs you cut down on the error cost and have much steeper learning curve.

But you are right in the sense that just making NPPs smaller does not help, it makes it worse. It requires a lifecycle approach to production, construction and modularity, not just downsizing.

Quote:
Especially as the ESBWR shows that the "small reactors can have better passive safety" argument doesn't really wash with light water designs that can use boiling water as an emergency cooling mechanism.


As you know, I very much like the ESBWR design, but I also see the merit to a simpler passive safety case for a smaller higher temperature reactor. You can just lose heat in a fail safe way. The ESBWR needs that two phase coolant and it is actually a bit more ornery than you might think. Those upper pools, for example, had better be filled with water when the time comes - a big leak in these pools would be a serious issue (eg BDBA earthquake causes large leak in the liner, and without power you only have small makeup pumps to fill the pools). The upper pools provide heat sink for both the containment cooling as well as the isolation condensers (core cooling), so beyond design basis failures in the pool can take out both containment cooling and core cooling simultaneously. There's also all sorts of failures involving buildup of non condensable gasses that can actually shut down two phase heat transfer completely. Or just failure to isolate the containment, which prevents the containment cooling from working (it needs pressure in the containment to work). ESBWR has made extensive engineering design modifications to deal with the issues, and I'm comfortable with that design, but the issues are not totally eliminated, in the way that you could with a small, high temperature reactor system.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 28, 2016 5:11 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sep 02, 2009 10:24 am
Posts: 509
fab wrote:
Quote:
I was looking for the graph which plots the overnight costs for reactors from the 1960s to the present day, but couldn't find it.


Maybe you are looking for the graph on the thorcon page :

http://thorconpower.com/costing/should-cost-versus-did-cost

There is also a graph on the Professor Cohen website :

http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

One additional factor for the cost escalation is that there was not nuclear construction in the west since a long time. So we basically lost the experience in construction.

Also there are maybe differences on the financing conditions between the old reactors and the current ones, I don't know much about this subject.


A report out questions "what cost escalation"?

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 1516300106

Quote:
We find that trends in costs have varied significantly in magnitude and in structure by era, country, and experience. In contrast to the rapid cost escalation that characterized nuclear construction in the United States, we find evidence of much milder cost escalation in many countries, including absolute cost declines in some countries and specific eras. Our new findings suggest that there is no inherent cost escalation trend associated with nuclear technology.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 3:11 am 
Offline

Joined: Dec 22, 2015 9:54 pm
Posts: 5
E Ireland wrote:
Well just take a look at the costs at Barakah I would think.

That pretty much proves that the cost escalations have little to do with the reactors themselves.


The two separate nuclear power cost reports done by two different firms discounted Asian and Middle Easter reactor costs. They handwaved it away with comments about lower labour.

fab wrote:
Quote:
I was looking for the graph which plots the overnight costs for reactors from the 1960s to the present day, but couldn't find it.


Maybe you are looking for the graph on the thorcon page :

http://thorconpower.com/costing/should-cost-versus-did-cost

There is also a graph on the Professor Cohen website :

http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

One additional factor for the cost escalation is that there was not nuclear construction in the west since a long time. So we basically lost the experience in construction.

Also there are maybe differences on the financing conditions between the old reactors and the current ones, I don't know much about this subject.


Made worse by every reactor built being utterly ginormous. If they were building smaller reactors they might be able to get a learning curve going. No other industry builds single units that large. CCGT max out at about 500MW per unit and are usually in the 300MW range, while coal max out at about 800MW.

E Ireland wrote:
alexterrell wrote:
The UK expects SMRs to be quite a bit less - which is why they're pursuing them. I have no idea why people think they'll cost more.


Massive duplication of equipment in a gigawatt of SMRs compared to a gigawatt's worth of large reactor will be a killer.

Especially as the ESBWR shows that the "small reactors can have better passive safety" argument doesn't really wash with light water designs that can use boiling water as an emergency cooling mechanism.


Other generation technologies feature a lot of duplication as well. I see where you're coming from but I think the learning curve and smaller parts to handle and forge (I imagine 1600MWe reactor vessels are a bitch to forge) would make smaller reactors more favourable than large reactors down to about 200MW or less per unit.

Honestly, I think in some ways I think the regulators did this. Reactors are licences per reactor rather than per site, this means that you want to get as much capacity per painful licence as possible. The reactor manufacturers then overreached and created reactors that are too large to get a learning curve going and are probably very difficult to manufacture due to their size. Sure, there is economies of scale, but that only goes so far.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 4:03 am 
Offline

Joined: Sep 02, 2009 10:24 am
Posts: 509
Download wrote:

Honestly, I think in some ways I think the regulators did this. Reactors are licences per reactor rather than per site, this means that you want to get as much capacity per painful licence as possible. The reactor manufacturers then overreached and created reactors that are too large to get a learning curve going and are probably very difficult to manufacture due to their size. Sure, there is economies of scale, but that only goes so far.


The regulators may impose burdens.

The US regulations were insisting that NuScale has a seperate control room for each reactor. Makes sense at 1.6GW, but rather pointless for NuScale's 50MW. Any news on that front?

Likewise, ThorCon plant to replace the core every 4 years. Does that count as a separate reactor requiring full licensing? I hope not.

The other stuff is cheap. As you say, you only get marginal economies of scale above 500MW. A Thorcon plant with 16 250MW reactors, and 8 500MW steam turbines, will still be a lot cheaper than two EPRs, with two 1,600MW steam turbines.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 8:40 am 
Offline

Joined: Jun 19, 2013 11:49 am
Posts: 1512
The french managed a production line like learning curve for 900MWe reactors.

I can't see anything below that being worthwhile.
And I am not sure you can just handwave Barakah as "lower labour costs" - the cost is so much lower that there is something seriously strange going on.
And the construction schedule is rather short.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 12:54 pm 
Offline

Joined: Oct 28, 2013 12:24 am
Posts: 257
Quote:
As you say, you only get marginal economies of scale above 500MW


The few graphs I saw on this subject showed that you still get some economies of scale by going beyond 500 MWe according to their authors. I think this is the reason that Westinghouse went from AP600 to AP1000.

In France the cost per kW has increased with the power of the unit but the latest and more powerful units are more complicated and safe and the regulatory requirements changed over time (Three Miles Island) so it is difficult to assess the effect of increasing the power.

We must combine simplicity, assembly line production and economies of scale.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 5:46 pm 
Offline

Joined: Jun 19, 2013 11:49 am
Posts: 1512
I am minded to recommend pushing to even larger LWRs.
Like the 1700MWe Mitsubishi design.

2 Gigawatts or bust!
The problem with SMRs is that it makes nuclear sound less capable of meeting demand.
Saying I can support a country with 20 reactors makes nuclear sound better than saying I need 200 or 2000.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 7:01 pm 
Offline

Joined: Dec 22, 2015 9:54 pm
Posts: 5
E Ireland wrote:
The french managed a production line like learning curve for 900MWe reactors.

I can't see anything below that being worthwhile.
And I am not sure you can just handwave Barakah as "lower labour costs" - the cost is so much lower that there is something seriously strange going on.
And the construction schedule is rather short.


Because they built 40 reactors back to back. We're not going to see order like that anytime soon. Do you have any justification for the claim anything smaller isn't worthwhile? W ery other type of generator gets away with far smaller per unit.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 7:03 pm 
Offline

Joined: Dec 22, 2015 9:54 pm
Posts: 5
E Ireland wrote:
I am minded to recommend pushing to even larger LWRs.
Like the 1700MWe Mitsubishi design.

2 Gigawatts or bust!
The problem with SMRs is that it makes nuclear sound less capable of meeting demand.
Saying I can support a country with 20 reactors makes nuclear sound better than saying I need 200 or 2000.


That's lunacy. 1600MWe reactors are already difficult enough to construct and install as it is, and you'll just further drag out lead times making them even less commercially viable.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 9:42 pm 
Offline

Joined: Jun 19, 2013 11:49 am
Posts: 1512
Download wrote:
Because they built 40 reactors back to back. We're not going to see order like that anytime soon. Do you have any justification for the claim anything smaller isn't worthwhile? W ery other type of generator gets away with far smaller per unit.


Because the SMR has huge concrete and steel inputs per megawatt, will require all the licencing of a full scale reactor (it is a full blown nuclear reactor after all and can thus be expected to be subjected to the same scrutiny) and yet will only produce a tiny fraction of the electricity.
In the long run small reactors also have inherently inferior conversion ratios to larger reactors.

And how about the fact that noone has built anything smaller than that except as a my-first-nuclear-reactor or a experimental prototype/engineering development reactor like that since the 80s at the latest.
And every other generator doesn't have capital costs in the thousands of dollars per kilowatt which seem to a large degree to actually be independent of the reactor's output.

Download wrote:
That's lunacy. 1600MWe reactors are already difficult enough to construct and install as it is, and you'll just further drag out lead times making them even less commercially viable.


1400MWe PWRs are currently under construction in the UAE put lie to the fact that large reactors must have huge lead times.

And nuclear power is never going to be 'commercially viable' - the glorious free market that makes that decision in the west has huge capital return expectations that a design that inherently has huge capital costs and low operating costs will never bea ble to meet at a reasonable electricity cost.

10% capital returns (like Hinkley Point) like those in the 'free market' and nuclear power just don't mix.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 22 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group