Ahhh, yes, privatisation. EDF could just walk away and what could one do about it?
Central planning with an agenda further than the end of one's nose are not without its disadvantages
The UK government is being warned that taxpayers will have to make up a multibillion-pound shortfall to decommission nuclear power stations unless a history of overspending is reversed. French firm EDF Energy runs seven Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) stations in the UK, part of eight second-generation reactors set to be …
What would be the point? Hinkley Point C is just a great big hole in the ground for burning UK taxpayer money. It's literally a gigantic hole in the ground. It's never going to generate electricity. EDF would be delighted if they got shot of Hinkley Point C. The project's costing them billions. It's late and over budget too, just like the new nukes they're trying and failing to build elsewhere.
The French state pockets the profits from selling electricity whilst they're operating, then the British taxpayer pays to clean up the waste!
(Not blaming France for doing this, rather it's one of the many consequences of UK governments trying to pretend that nuclear power was part of a free market, rather than being something that needs to be paid for by the state - precisely because you can't just convert the power stations into luxury flats afterwards like they did in Battersea)
> 2 thumbs down
Hey look, we have two career politicians among the commentators...
Unless it's some starry-eyed idealist youngsters who still believes their father can't possibly be wrong or do bad things, and that their sacred filial duty is to blindly trust him whatever the circumstances.
That's in the "legacy ponds" that are related to the early days of the nuclear weapons program; all that was important then was recovery of plutonium.
Things are much better when you look at current spent fuel processing and reactor decommissioning. BBC 4's "Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield" gave some great coverage of this.
In what way is it much better? Has Sellafield stopped discharging radioactive water into the Irish Sea? Have all the billions spent there produced a solution for long term radioactive waste? Have any of the nation's dead nukes - OK they're not at Sellafield - been decommissioned on time and on budget? Has the multi-billion THORP plant been transformed into a success story yet?
When they really mean "store the fuel at Sellafield" - safely not really a part of that sentence
A lot of people are uneasy about nuclear not for reasons of "huge scary nuclear explosion" (though 3 mile island, Chernobyl etc. not good for nuclear PR) but because of ever increasing expense of decommissioning, the costs always seem to increase and increase unfettered (and as other commentards have said, the station builders / designers walk away inconvenienced by those costs), and that there is no genuinely safe way* to get rid of the nuclear waste - just hoping that future generations have a better solution to the problem is far from ideal.
*I'm aware various proposals exist, all I have seen are flawed. Please point me to a viable solution I may have missed as would love to see one.
"Nuclear power is cheap ..."
comparatively, to build and operate on a per unit produced basis.
Total cost of ownership from concept through to returning a green field, not so much. Some of the waste has a half life in the thousands of years, not just your grandchildren who are going to be paying to look after it.
Watch a 2010 documentary film called "Into Eternity", it is mostly about Phase 1 of a facility being built on Olkiluoto Island in southwest Finland, where they plan to store 65 tons of spent nuclear fuel for a minimum of 100000 years. They started building the tunnels for the Onkalo spent nuclear fuel repository in 2004 and expect to begin storing waste in 2023 when Phase 4 is complete. KBS-3V storage does require that the waste is stored for 30 years to become less radioactive (For the 'hot' material to decay through their chain, eventual producing less neutrons) before it can be stored permanently, well for 100000 years hopefully all going well.
It could actually work as envisioned, at least on paper it is the best attempt at long term nuclear storage that I've seen. And it is duplicating what was found in nature.
But it is probably time for Finland to start selecting the site to build the next spent nuclear fuel repository, because there is only enough room for about one hundred years of waste.
A thorium reactor would happily munch its way through the bulk of the spent fuel leaving them with nothing but a few years of half-life left before they are deemed safe, compared to the ten's of thousands of years they would otherwise take.
Problem is, there is no political will behind sane choices such as molten salt reactors, as they can't produce weaponiseable materials. Best we stick to what we have and keep up pretending we're only ten years away from developing fusion.
> A thorium reactor would happily munch its way through the bulk of the spent fuel
What is the solution to the high intensity gamma ray emissions produced as it munches through that waste. Do not get me wrong I think thorium reactors are great, but even they need their waste stored for a few centuries. Every solution has some problem.
why can't they just do some upgrades instead?
Wouldn't it cost LESS to do some refits, repairs, and upgrades to EXISTING systems?
'Shirley' it makes a LOT more economic sense for the electricity to pay for the retrofit over a couple of decades (including the storage of radioactive 'old reactor parts' and nuclear waste) than to just tear it down and pay for it all through tax money...
The refit/repair/upgrade path means it PAYS FOR ITSELF and continues to supply needed electricity. Win-Win
And yes, I HAVE operated nuclear reactors. I pretty much know how they work, I've worked with radioactive material, done many contamination surveys with radiacs and swipes, worked in high radiation areas, and wore different types of dosimeters depending on the conditions. And I'll yell it from the cheap seats if I have to, that NUCLEAR ELECTRICITY MAKES SENSE. It should not just be "decomissioned" because SOME people FEAR it.
The problem with the AGRs is that the graphite core has reached end-of-life in four reactors (2 closed, 2 closing this year), with the others getting closer. There is no practicable way to replace the graphite. The reactors have all run well beyond their design life as it is.
There was a proposal to build a Thorium reactor at Wylfa (an old Magnox site) and use it to extend the life of the generators and transformers, but it was not possible to get funding.
It's not just the graphite core. The fundamental structural problem is nuclear embrittlement of the pressure vessel (the reactor itself); this [so far] has not been solved by science, only reduced. It is a structural weakness & property of the steel material itself, and why all nuclear reactors have a service life specified
You simply can't run a nuclear reactor forever. At least, not one using any form of metallic pressure vessel.
Don't worry, all those electric cars that are being planned are going to ensure that coal-based generators will be severely swamped, and as for wind, well I'll get a kick out of seeing how many people have to stay home because their car didn't charge enough during the night.
Without nuclear, we as a society can kiss goodbye to all the power-hungry amenities we have grown used to. There will not be enough juice to power the fridge, the freezer, the aircon, the TV box, the laptop and two smartphones per person, and on top of that, two electric cars per household.
Because people don't want nuclear, but they do want all the gadgets and "smart" doorbells and all the rest.
In 1950, people had a fixed-line telephone, a TV set, a radio, a fridge and, maybe, a washing machine and a dryer. Plus a few lightbulbs. If we go back to that, we could probably do without nuclear. But today ? And IoT on top of all the stuff we have ?
There's no way we can make do without nuclear. Fusion would be better, but that's 30 years away, as we all know.
Not for much longer. Neither of them have very many running hours left on them - unless we tear up the rules concerning them.
I would suggest most will have to start getting used to Britain being energy poor unless there is a dramatic change in the direction of our government and funding mechanisms. Doing without is, contrary to popular opinion, an option.
Not saying I'm happy about this of course but turkeys keep voting for christmas.
Cracking of the graphite core of the AGRs is the main restriction of the reactors lifetime, and it isn't realistically possible to refit or upgrade these. You would basically have to build an entire new reactor, but first having to wait until the old one is decommissioned. It's quicker and cheaper to build the new one next door, and take the time to decommission the old one, which is what is being done.
My dad was an engineer at one of the earliest commercial nuclear power plants in Germany. He retired early in 1995 along with the plant. The plan was to return the site to its prior state, i.e., back to a "green pasture." Now, 27 years later, most of the structures are still standing (except for the cooling towers, which would have crumbled without maintenance), and engineers are still trying to figure out how to dismantle 3 meter thick concrete foundations of the strongest concrete available at the time. Some low-radiation remains are still on site, because Germany, like everywhere else, still hasn't found a place willing to accept radioactive waste. No idea what the original budget for the build-back was, but they must have exceeded it 10x by now with no end in sight.
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