back to article UK facing electricity supply woes after nuclear power stations shut, MPs told

Electricity shortages appear inevitable for the UK due to the decommissioning of the nation's aging estate of nuclear power stations, according to evidence submitted by industry to politicians. While energy prices spike and the UK looks for alternative, non-carbon sources of electricity generation, it must also deal with the …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Boffin

    Hmmm.

    I wonder how much of that is due to real technological problems and how much profiteering unforeseen expenses.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm.

      I do not comprehend how it can be so late and so expensive for a 'known' design. I know Dungeness B went WAY over but they were basically designing the darn thing as/after it was being put together. I believe we managed to build Sizewell B relatively on time and budget.

      One of the reasons we went with the AGR in the 60's was that we could do it 'in house'. No huge forged pressure vessel and used the same turbines as coal fired stations.

      Did the UK gov not look on check a trade?

      I always thought the Hitachi ABWR or the Westinghouse PWR was a better alternative to the EPR.

      1. OhForF' Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm.

        I do not comprehend how it can be so late and so expensive for a 'known' design.

        Is it possible that not much (if any) plans were made to de-commission those reactors?

        Let's concentrate on building, dismantling can be planned later and is somebody else's problem.

        Are electricity suppliers run by the government in the UK or why do tax-payers have to provide the funds to de-comission the plants?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm.

          I was talking about the EPRs, the costs listed are purely construction at this time. EVERY EPR build has gone hugely over time and budget.

          When we built the MAGNOX there were no thoughts given to end of life. A little more thought was put into the AGRs but not a lot.

          1. OhForF' Silver badge

            Re: Hmmm.

            the costs listed are purely construction at this time

            The article states EDF estimates the costs of decomissioning at £23.5bn exceeding what the government put into the Nuclear Liabilities Fund (£14.8 billion). This is what i have been referring to:

            Last year the government injected £5.1 billion ($5.8 billion) into the Nuclear Liabilities Fund – now valued at £14.8 billion ($17 billion) – which it set up in 1996 to meet the costs of decommissioning AGR and Pressurized Water Reactor stations. But EDF's latest cost estimate to decommission the stations in March last year was £23.5bn ($27 billion).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmmm.

            When we built the MAGNOX there were no thoughts given to end of life.

            That's not quite true AIUI.

            There was some thought, but it included "shut things down, take the fuel out, leave it for a century for the radiation to die down, treat it all as low level waste" - that's low level as in "cut a hole in the side of the pressure vessel, walk in and pick up a brick of the moderator graphite, it's no longer significantly radioactive" ease of handling.. Then (I'll try and keep this polite) "uninformed" people come along and shout very loudly that it's immoral to leave the cleanup to our great, great, grandchildren - we must do it NOW. Thus the non-problem of dealing with volumes of very low level waste become problems of dealing with high level waste which is then much more difficult to handle (you can no longer let people be involved and there's a need for lots of remote handling machinery).

            And then the same uninformed people who demanded it be done the most dangerous and expensive way, now complain that doing it is dangerous and expensive.

            Done the sensible way, it doesn't take long before you can remove all the support equipment and structures, leaving just the containment building - i.e. something a bit bigger than a large house. Security is more to stop people gaffitying it than for any safety concern.

            What is true is that waaaay back, when the nuclear program was getting up to speed and getting things going as part of the weapons program was a priority, then what to do afterwards "wasn't a top priority".

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hmmm.

              That is just the reactor and assumes no f-ups such as the fuel melt at chappelcross. I do fully agree with the entomb the reactor building and ignore it for a long time plan as it is by far the best way. If there has been no fuel leakage then you are just dealing with neutron activation of the materials. Heck this is how carbon-14 is made in the upper atmosphere after all! The stuff spouted by the anti nuclear brigade is 99% organic bovine fertiliser. They just parrot lines from their favourite activist.

              Unfortunately we live in a society where doing nothing can never be an option. You have to 'do something!!'.

              What they didn't really do is think about the rest of the cycle. What to do with the fuel casings, the leftovers from recycling etc. The MAGNOX cladding does not like water but the best way to store the spent rods is in water. And Sellafield has HUGE amounts of such fuel gently rotting away under water. Along with the swarf silos where they dumped contaminated cladding after stripping the fuel. This IS a problem.

              I almost went to work for the company that makes the ROVs they are using to explore the fuel ponds. I did ask what happens if they break down and the response was 'cut the cable and leave it!'.

              Ideally we need a reactor technology that needs no fuel cladding and can burn the fuel to near 100%.

              1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                Unhappy

                Ideally we need a reactor technology that needs no fuel cladding and can burn the fuel to near 100%.

                Well the molten salt types dispense with cladding.

                But they tend to use Beryllium (which is highly toxic, even though it's not radioactive), Uranium (which is also highly toxic, and radiactive), in a salt mix which is chemically highly agressive.

                So maybe not such a good idea.

                "Chloride volatility" was a way of dissolving zirconium cladding (which most reactors use in form, except of course the UK AGR fleet. Because they wanted to make Beryllium cladding work. It can be made ductile, but that didn't stop it bubbling up like popcorn due to Helium gas formation from the neutron fluence at the operating temperature. When they admitted defeat they went with some no-standard steel grade which no one, anywhere, uses) back to ZrCl4, which is the form that metal smelters need to convert it back to Zircalloy cladding. Nuclear Zirconium is worth $20-40/Kg due to the complex (and expensive) process of stripping nearly all the Hafnium out of the ore, because it's neutron absorbance cross section is huge.

                Near 100% burnup means reprocessing and re-cladding the fuel. This was demonstrated by EBR II in the early 60s, but for Uranium metal fuel, not the much more common UO2. It also expanded ansiotropically on irradation (that was solved by alloying, but by then UO2 was the dominant fuel type, and no one cared :-(

                Note that UO2 is probably the most inert common Uranium compound. But H&S feel that is still not safe enough. It is not the case that only radioactivity makes Uranium toxic. Uranium is toxic. Unclad Uranium Carbide will burn in air (creating a fine smoke of Uo2 particles, perfect for irradiating the lungs or skin of anyone not in a full body suit and respirator, or self contained air supply) as will Uranium Nitride (which has to be made exclusively of N15 to avoid forming the C14 isotope) is also fairly unstable (I think it's water soluable).

            2. Jaybus

              Re: Hmmm.

              Not to mention that those "spent" fuel rods have around 90% of their energy remaining. They are extremely valuable, can be recycled, and there are 4th gen designs nearing readiness. Sodium-cooled fast reactors do not require slowed down neutrons, so can use the "spent" rods as is. Getting rid of them now would be just ridiculous.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Hmmm.

                "Sodium-cooled fast reactors do not require slowed down neutrons"

                Nothing like a hot pool of liquid sodium to make a reactor just a wee bit more dangerous.

                It's not just a matter of "spent" rods being useful in a fast spectrum over a thermal one. The solid fuel develops cracks and can go to pieces. There are also daughter products that kill fissioning by absorbing neutrons.

                I'd really like to see Molten Salt Reactors being introduced. It's anticipated that some designs will be able to "burn up" the waste fuel from PWR's. Maybe the government (US and UK) can sponsor some qualified nuclear physics students so they can get an advanced degree in trade for doing some time on the project. A government spending money towards safe cheap energy production is a worthwhile investment. Much better than many of the things they throw money at. Like Elon needs to be paid to put up a new Tesla factory.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm. @OhForF'

          All of the UKs current and recently decommissioned nuclear reactors were built when electricity generation in the UK was run as a national industry.

          Since that time, the generation, supply and distribution of electricity has been privatised, with much of it being bought by foreign companies (I have to admit, I'm baffled with the fact that a large chunk was sold off to privatise it, and has ended up being run by a company with significant French government ownership).

          When the nuclear power stations were sold off, the UK government underwrote the decomissioning costs because otherwise nobofy would want to buy it, but have very little input to what the final cost is likely to be (because there is no local expertise left to challenge the costs put in by EDF). This makes it a good candidate for price gouging, as EDF know that the UK government will have to put up the money because of the agreements.

          I just hope that successive governments remain anti-China, as otherwise the UK could become a vassal state to China as much of Africa already is.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Hmmm.

        One of the reasons for the delay with Hinkley C was that the EPR still wasn't working anywhere.

        The Finnish unit (Olkiluoto) only achieved full operating power in September. Construction started in 2005. According to a very quick Google it was only 13 years late - but then wasn't it the first of class so had all the teething problems. The French one at Flamanville is also famously delayed. Looking this up surprised me, as I'd totally missed that China already has one up and running - which is why I guess they were originally looking at getting the Chinese involved in the project. I think they started their build third - but probably benefited from having had a lot of the design teething problems ironed out.

        I wonder if they avoided Hitachi because it was a boiling water reactor? I'm sure I read years ago that UK's regulators were against that design, but admit I'm going on very vague memory.

        The problem with all nuclear decision making is how uncertain everything is. Plus how politically scary. If we'd kept our own nuclear design industry going by ordering new reactors in the 90s or early 2000s - we might have done better. But once you've lost that capacity it takes a long time to rebuild it, as well as the skills to build the damned reactors, even if you buy a design in. Hence there's then a limit to how many you can build at once, and you'll get inevitable delays in building them, because you're having to train half the workers at the same time they're supposed to be building.

        Which of course then deters you from ever starting in the first place. Eventually the politicians hwo do bite the bullet then get massive criticism for what's doomed to be an expensive and time consuming project. The only upside, is that having built that industrial capacity you've got to hope the next lot realise they can now place an order and have it built with much less trouble, and can then pretend it was their genious intervention that fixed the problems the last lot couldn't...

        1. Mark 65

          Re: Hmmm.

          you've got to hope the next lot realise they can now place an order...

          Politicians aren't that smart. Most just big-note themselves by slamming others rather than ever achieving anything....ever. Sound-bite politics.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm.

          "because you're having to train half the workers at the same time they're supposed to be building."

          There is also the endless parade of lawsuits from the moment a plant is proposed and past when it's decommissioned.

      3. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm.

        The issue between nuclear knowledge now, and nuclear knowledge back then, is that now we know nuclear waste is toxic to the point that it ruins everything for a long arsed time.

        Take Windscale Sellafield. When they built that in the 50's, and during it's operation in the early years, they thought it was absolutely fine to just dump the waste in to swimming pools on site. No bother at all boys, if it can't go on a nuke then throw it in the pool. Now though, during the clean up, this has become a problem. Over the years the pools have let radiated water seep in to the ground, and it's a pain in the arse for them to clean up now.

        And it wasn't just the UK with it's easy going attitude to nuclear in the 60's. The Americans and Russians also had those viewpoints, although the latter only (maybe) recently changed their minds on it. Maybe.

        So what was built in the 60s and the processes behind it are totally incompatible with future, long term safe nuclear energy. If they're planning on doing something in the future 20 years ago, it's inevitable the game will have changed in that time. Leading to the mess we're in now.

        1. Simplet0n

          Re: Hmmm.

          Indeed and if you want Idea of how dangerous even the spent fuel pools are watch this video of Paul Blanch talking about them.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdTlItSvv9s

          1. NeilPost

            Re: Hmmm.

            Go look up US Hanford nuclear waste site and the guys at Sellafield look like amateurish.

            1. Martin J Hooper

              Re: Hmmm.

              The Russians are the worst at this...

              https://www.damninteresting.com/in-soviet-russia-lake-contaminates-you/

              The most contaminated area in the world - Pre-dates the Chernobyl exclusion zone too...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Hmmm.

                When you have that much spare land you just don't care.

                The number of bombs the US set off in Nevada is terrifying. I found a research paper that mapped the fallout as it travelled over Utah, Colorado and up over the great lakes. I stupidly forgot to bookmark it :(

        2. Adair Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm.

          I wonder why the the down votes.

          There's no way around it: nuclear energy generation via fission is not only VERY EXPENSIVE it also relies on a lot of complex highly specialised knowledge and training (also VERY EXPENSIVE), added to which is the fact that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved, despite what the 'bury-it-in-a-deep-hole' advocates say, i.e. 'I'll be dead so it won't be my problem'.

          In other words the whole thing is a gigantic positivist gamble that 'the future' will have all the answers, and they will be cheap.

          We only need to look at history to see that neither presumption stands up, but those who are complacent about it all certainly will be dead, so it won't be their problem. They will just look like 'selfish shits' in the history books (assuming those are still being written).

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            FAIL

            "that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved, "

            This is complete bu***hit.

            95% of the Uranium that goes into a reactor core is still Uranium when the core comes out. 50% of the mass of a PWR fuel assembly is nuclear grade Zirconium alloy at $20-$40/Kg (it's regular zirconium but with the highly neutron absorbing Hafnium stripped out)

            IOW all the grief is caused by the 5% that's turned into something else.

            This all started when President Ford in the mid 70's (never expected to be President but then Tricky Dicky got caught out) started p**sing himself because India had built their own bomb. Ford banned commercial reprocessing of Plutonium. His successor Carter banned reprocessing of used nuclear fuel. Then the farcially fu**witted plan to bury-it-all-in-the-ground-for-a-time-longer-than-double-the-entire-history-of-human-civilisation.

            Say that last bit out loud. Sounds a bit retarded? Becaue it is.

            The best place for all elements with more than 92 protons (IE > Uranium) is a nuclear reactor, releasing that energy and generating power. Keeping the Pu with the (or as the South Koreans call it "Dirty Pu") others makes any attempt at diversion stunningly lethal to anyone stupid enough to try it.

            Thermal reactors are quite capable of fissioning this but not with the same loading as a fast spectrum reactor. OTOH this technology is unnecessary.

            Between them various previous designs of reactor have elements that can make a better, safer, cleaner reactor.

            What's needed by the various nations nuclear engineers is an "Apollo 13 moment," when they realize that no single nation has the whole answer, but working together than can deliver something that's much better (with the same basic ingredients, that have long reliable histories, not some dream of a techno-fix) than what has been put together before.

            1. Adair Silver badge

              Re: "that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved, "

              So you are saying 'nuclear waste' is a made up problem, and you would be quite happy to have it all dumped in your back yard so your kids can play with it?

              Like I said: ' a gigantic positivist gamble' with the future, not to mention the present. Not that there aren't other positivist gambles, they just generally happen to be a bit more manageable within normal timescales.

              1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

                Re: "that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved, "

                So you are saying 'nuclear waste' is a made up problem

                No so much made up, and only a problem because the very people who complain about the problem don't want to allow the logical solutions to be used to deal with it.

                To put things in perspective, AIUI in the UK we have enough "waste" fuel in storage to provide for all our lecky needs (at current levels) for a century. Just pause and think about that, without importing any more uranium, with the right type of reactors, and the right processing of the "waste", we could supply our lecky needs for a century. And at the end of that, the current large volume of "waste" would be vastly reduced in quantity.

                But as others have mentioned, there are a variety of political reasons why we "can't" do that. There isn't a technical issue at all.

                For another take on how stupid this is, consider the oil business. Only a small part of what comes out of an oil well is usable for petrol and diesel. What if we took loads of oil out of the ground, just distilled out the petrol and diesel, then declared all the rest (the majority of what came out of the ground for many wells) as "waste" to be expensively disposed of ? Anyone suggesting that would be labelled a complete f'ing idiot - and that would be right as there are ways to use that "waste" - much of the heavier stuff is "cracked" to make the lighter stuff for petrol and diesel. But before the infernal combustion engines was developed, and the primary use for oil was in lamps, it was found that there was a lighter fraction (what we now know as petrol) that had to be distilled out or lamps would explode - as there was no use for it, it was poured into pits and set on fire to burn it off !

                And as for the "highly radioactive for millions of years" argument - that's complete and utter nonsense. Something can be highly active OR it can be active for a long time. For example, Cobalt 60 is highly active, but it has a half life of 5.3 years - that means, in 53 years, it's decayed to 1000th of it's original activity (10 half lives, so 2^10, or 1024 reduction in activity), after 106 years it's decayed to under 1,000,000th it original activity. If something has a half life measured in hundreds, thousands, then it simply isn't highly active - of more concern is it's chemical properties (e.g is it toxic), something that applies to every non-nuclear process and it's waste stream.

                1. Adair Silver badge

                  Re: "that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved, "

                  Strange that given the answers are obvious that no one seems willing/able to put them into practice.

                  Or, is it a case of 'armchair experts' who know it all, but are somehow unable to put their brilliant schemes into practice?

                  The reality is that there are no 'simple' solutions to the difficulties raised by radioactive waste. It exists, it has consequences, some of it doesn't 'just go away' because we find it too hard/too expensive to deal with in a safe and final manner. So, politicians, and experts all end up kicking the can down the road, while irresponsible people like us shout from the sidelines about what they 'should' be doing.

                  Nuclear fission as a means of generating 'cheap electricity' is bollocks, and always has been. There is nothing 'cheap' about it. In all respects it is extremely expensive (not just in money), and those costs continue to have to be paid regardless of anyone's ability to pay them.

                  Everything has a cost, and in every case the question is: is the cost worth what we gain. With nuclear fission power generation, as with fossil fuel powered generation it is very doubtful that it is.

                  1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

                    Re: "that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved, "

                    Strange that given the answers are obvious that no one seems willing/able to put them into practice.

                    There are many complicated factors involved, most of which have been mentioned in comments here already.

                    For example, some of the option (e.g. fast breeder reactors) create plutonium which they then burn up as part of their fuel. Now, I've observed that one word that gets some people even more worked up than "nuclear" is ... drumroll ... plutonium. So even though it's burned up rather than constantly building up, that's one nail in the coffin.

                    And as other have already pointed out, in the UK it takes a lot of money and a long time to get to the stage of actually being able to start construction. Apart from an interminably long planning process, all sorts of pressure groups will crawl out of the woodwork and tie you up in legal challenges for years.

                    And that's all set against a political backdrop where the rules in place today may well change tomorrow when the politicians decide that they stand a better chance of re-election if they suddenly come over all anti-nuclear. Just look at the state of fracking in the UK - shut down because of minor earth tremors (not earthquakes) while I read just the other day a comment from someone plagued by tremors 100 times more powerful caused by endless lorries going through the village.

                    The reality is that there are no 'simple' solutions to the difficulties raised by radioactive waste

                    Very true. Nothing related to nuclear is simple, but the nuclear industry is held to higher (i.e. more restrictive) safety standards than most other industries. If all other industries were held to the same standards, you'd find that most industries would also find themselves in the "no simple solutions" category.

                  2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                    Re: "that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved, "

                    "Strange that given the answers are obvious that no one seems willing/able to put them into practice."

                    With the right level of cynicism, it's easy to see why it doesn't happen. We keep electing attorneys to political office and that overwhelming number of attorneys have zero background in science. If the problem can't be defined in one paragraph that can be emailed to them, they are never going to understand what you try to tell them or will be too disinterested on a TL:DR basis. Where it gets even more frustrating is it isn't the politician that's reading anything, it's their staff who then decide what to pass on or will create a summary if it's too long. Now you have a technoilliterate intern summarizing a highly technical explanation of something scientific to somebody that would reach for a law dictionary to find out what Ohm's Law is.

                    Just because something is not simple doesn't mean it's not very useful. Nuclear power has the potential to be very cost effective and far less expensive than it is today. If you strip away the lawyers the cost drops like a stone. There's also something to be said about a technology that has been highly reliable day in and day out.

                    Is burning coal cheaper? I don't think that can be said as many issues with it are pushed outside of the cost calculations. There have already been disasters involving ash piles turning into lahars. The ash piles are often radioactive and when the wind hits them, they can cause dust storms of material that is very bad to breath. The smog and particulate pollution cause health issues for hundreds of thousands and the cost of that is not tallied in the coal column.

                    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                      Unhappy

                      If you strip away the lawyers the cost drops like a stone.

                      Not with the most dominant designs in the market they don't.

                      Very large thick pressure vessels (European Nuclear Assocation says typically 5m Dia, 12m long, 250mm thick, 520tonnes) can only be made in a few foundries in the world with very long lead times and are a massive PITA to move to site.

                      The pi***oor steam the make can't be used by the steam turbines you can buy for coal or oil boilers (which are made in 1000s globally) and have to be special order. They are estimated to be 10x the price.

                      And every time something is used that doesn't have 40 years of usage already (despite it being used in another countries nuclear industry for decades due to the poor cross-border acceptance of nuclear regulations) in the country the reactor is being built in will need a shedload of documentation to show how it's going to be used, how it's going to be tested, and what you're going to do to fix it if it breaks.

                      So no, getting rid of lawyers will not lower costs as much as you think. Not going on site with only 30% of the design fixed (SOP for Westinghouse in the 70's) but more like 70-90% (as the Chinese and South Koreans do) helps quite a lot. Getting rid of welded socket joints, which fail on average (at US nuke plants) about 2-3 times a year, forcing the company to buy in replacement electricity at about $300k/day, helps as well.

                      Better is certainly possible.

                2. grumpy-old-person

                  Re: "that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved, "

                  Imagine that Cobalt-60 is stored 3km from your home and after a year a stupid action by someone releases - your description, "highly active" - radioactivity that reaches your home in minutes.

                  I believe your attitude would be very different.

                  Do not be deceived that "very unlikely" = "never", and bear in mind that ANY nuclear "accident" is likely to have severe and lasting consequences (likely to be covered up by politicians)

                  Nuclear fission is NEVER going to be safe, and fusion is still a pipe-dream.

                  Of course, burning fossil fuels has been shown to have had terrible consequences too - and also had its supporters despite the evidence.

            2. Jaybus

              Re: "that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved, "

              Actually, at least one of the 4th gen designs, the sodium-cooled fast reactor, can use the "spent" fuel from the current power stations as is. As you say, the spent fuel is one of the World's most expensive materials and we have only used around 10% of its potential energy. It belongs in a reactor generating clean energy. What a really stupid waste it would be to put it in a hole for centuries.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmmm.

            In other words the whole thing is a gigantic positivist gamble that 'the future' will have all the answers, and they will be cheap.

            So much like renewables and the battery capacity needed to firm their intermittent gen?

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmmm.

            "the fact that dealing with long term waste issues remains effectively unresolved"

            No, that's, at best, your personal opinion and it's worthless in this context. Principally it's a lie and anyone presenting it, knows it's a lie.

            Burying it in the ground is a very good solution and it works. Where you do you think the uranium came from? Out of thin air?

            Nope. Once again opionionated people rejecting good solutions, just because they oppose nuclear power and want people back in to stone age without any external power whatsoever.

        3. jonfr

          Re: Hmmm.

          No. This is wrong. Nuclear waste is safe and not a problem if handled correctly. Accidents do happen, but they are rare. What you are repeating is propaganda from Greenpeace and other anti-nuclear liars. You are more likely to die fossil fuel pollution from their ash (that is slightly radioactive) and other related pollution from fossil fuel.

          You can find all the technical details here.

          https://youtu.be/4aUODXeAM-k

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            fossil fuel pollution from their ash (that is slightly radioactive)

            Not so slight.

            At 125ppm of U you have an ash heap from a coal fired power plant.

            At 250ppm you have a Uranium ore body.

            A fact the residents of Tennessee, or any of the other big coal mining/burning states, realize.

          2. TVU Silver badge

            "Nuclear waste is safe and not a problem if handled correctly"

            ^ This. Sweden and Finland have already solved this issue by encasing the waste in bentonite clay and large copper casks followed by deep burial (0.5km) in stable and suitable geological formations.

            Nuclear power is very useful for providing baseload electricity supply which is why more reactors ought to be built in the UK. At one time, the UK used to be a world leader in nuclear technology with gas-cooled reactors, steam generating heavy water reactors, etc but successive governments of all colours have neglected this issue culminating in the closure of the Winfrith nuclear power development complex in Dorset, England.

            The most egregious recent example of neglect was the inattention to detail populist moron Boris Johnson who failed to prolong the life of the Hinckley B plant.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Nuclear waste is safe and not a problem if handled correctly"

              I remember back in my school days thinking of applying to BNFL for a scholarship for a Physics degree. Probably a good choice to take a different path given the gutting of the industry.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: "Nuclear waste is safe and not a problem if handled correctly"

              "Sweden and Finland have already solved this issue by encasing the waste in bentonite clay and large copper casks followed by deep burial (0.5km) in stable and suitable geological formations.

              "

              The super-deluxe better solution is to work on ways to turn the waste stream into the input of another process. Burying the copper is not a great thing. We need all of that metal as we can get. The mass of copper needed per person is growing as the standard of living rises in traditionally poor areas and humans will insist on replicating faster and faster as time goes by.

              1. Lars Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: "Nuclear waste is safe and not a problem if handled correctly"

                @MachDiamond

                We need action now, and while we act we can go on babbling about the perfect solution freely too.

          3. deadlockvictim

            Re: Hmmm.

            jonfr: Nuclear waste is safe and not a problem if handled correctly

            Would you object or complain to your MP if it was decided to bury spent nuclear waste in your vicinity?

            1. MarkTriumphant

              Re: Hmmm.

              Yes, because that would not be "handled correctly". You are arguing using a straw man. Please don't.

            2. Intractable Potsherd

              Re: Hmmm.

              No I wouldn't mind in the slightest. Every time I go up the A1 to Scotland I think that moving around Torness nuclear power station would be lovely. However, if there were any plans to put any waste site near where I live, I'd have to think carefully about the loss of property prices due to uninformed people being afraid to buy in case of an improbable risk at some time in the future.

        4. deadlockvictim

          Re: Hmmm.

          There's an increased cancer risk too.

          People living in Dundalk — across the Irish Sea from Sellafield. as well as people living on the North Wales coastline — have known about this fro decades.

          Here is an article from the Grauniad on the matter: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/1998/dec/31/nuclearpower.uknews

          1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

            Re: Hmmm.

            Ah, it's in the Grauniad so it must be true !

            You may like to try doing some research. Many parts of the world are naturally radiactive, to the extent that background radiation can be higher than occupational exposure limits. It may or may not surprise you to know that the populations in these areas don't have higher cancer rates than low radiation areas - AIUI some have lower rates.

            And guess what, we have an actual real-world example of long term (about 1.7 billion years now) storage of nuclear "waste" from a uranium 235 fission reactor.

        5. NeilPost

          Re: Hmmm.

          Hey they used to put Lead in petrol so doing dumb shit is not exclusive to the nuclear industry.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmmm.

            From engineering point of view that was very good idea and for the first 60 years it wasn't even a measurable problem.

            Then them Yanks decided to cram 50 million cars with V8s in one state and it created problems. What a surprise.

            Good solution which doesn't scale up to infinite still isn't a dumb solution and anyone who claims so, is trying to apply rearview wisdom to 100 year old problem.

        6. clyde666

          Re: Hmmm.

          Same at Dounreay. There's a big shaft which empties into the sea. Vast amounts of stuff got thrown in there. Not sure if it's been fully cleaned out yet.

          1. Julz

            Re: Hmmm.

            It hasn’t and it doesn’t lead to the sea. That said, doesn’t mean that it can’t leak into the sea…

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm.

        "Did the UK gov not look on check a trade?"

        Check-a-trade, AKA pie-keys are us?

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm.

      "I wonder how much of that is due to real technological problems and how much profiteering unforeseen expenses."

      This comment brought to you by the gas lobby. And the barbed wire lobby. And the cattle trucks lobby.

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm.

      An awful lot was due to Labour deciding that nuclear power = bad so brought forward the closure of sites and then not doing anything to replace them.

      1. BleedinObvious

        Re: Hmmm.

        Labour changed tack in 2007, ending a 20 year aversion going back to Thatcher era.

        https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11913-uk-backs-new-generation-of-nuclear-reactors/

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm.

        "An awful lot was due to Labour deciding that nuclear power = bad"

        It's not just one party, it's every politician and every person that never bothers to learn anything about science in an age where there is YouTube, iTunesU and all sorts of shows from highly educated experts and any number of topics related to energy.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm.

      "I wonder how much of that is due to real technological problems "

      Part of the issue is a long gap where no new plants were being planned or built. Every power plant has a finite lifetime and it's important to plan decades in advance to keep up. Wind and solar are both very nice, but on a windlass night they aren't all that useful. Bobby Llewellyn goes all smilely and wiggly when he can say that all of the UK's power that day came from wind and solar or that sort of thing happens with more frequency, but he fails to point out the times when a large portion of the islands would be at an absolute standstill.

      Some businesses make plans about what they'd do in case of a power outage, but I don't think I've ever seen talk of planning for outages on a regular basis or adjusting production based on electricity availability / spot pricing. It's just assumed that the vast majority of the time there will be electrons ripe for the picking.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plus the loss of capacity. Scotland just shut Hunterston and this year opens our biggest ever offshore wind farm... which won't quite cover the shortfall, assuming it produces as expected.

    We should have been building more Nuclear decades ago.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't worry, the grid is not able to send the electricity generated in Scotland to England anyway...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not sure why you are being downvoted, long distance electricity inefficiency is a huge issue and always has been.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Transferring electricity is horrible, horrible business.

          Here in North we have only 600 miles to transfer it and ~30% of it is lost at transfer. Despite 400kV lines. It's all hydro power so it doesn't cost anything at all at source, otherwise it wouldn't make any sense at all.

          People visioning transferring electricity from solar plants in Sahara to Europe, have no grasp of reality.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      We should have been building more Nuclear decades ago.

      Agreed, but 20/20 hindsight doesn't generate electricity now. Much though I like the idea of SMRs, with the interminable planning procedures involved with nukes, it's probably 15+ years before any new nuclear power comes on line. We need to start trying any and all grid scale storage systems to deal with peaks and intermittency to see what works, and encourage new power sources to be built. Amphetamine crazed hamsters on treadmills, anyone?

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        We need to start trying any and all grid scale storage systems to deal with peaks and intermittency to see what works

        Grid scale storage is economically impossible; you can figure that out in 5 minutes on the back of an envelope. Take the cost of a UPS capable of supplying 1 kilowatt for 1 hour, multiply by a thousand to get to megawatts, then multiply again to get to a gigawatt. How much is it costing for one gigawatt hour (excluding connection to the grid, installation, maintenance, etc)? Then go and look at gridwatch, and figure out how many hours long the troughs are in demand from wind power are for.

        Multiply your answer by the number of hours required. What does the total figure come up to?

        Afterwards you'll question why anybody has ever considered energy storage as a viable option because it's obviously bonkers. Even if you could do storage for a tenth of the price required it'd still be price prohibitive compared with building power generation.

        1. Chris Roberts

          Grid scale storage

          I think a better way to estimate this is to take the Gridwatch figures for a year for production by the various plant types and the usage. You can chuck them into a spreadsheet and use the renewable values to create an output waveform you can scale to produce, when added to a flat baseline, an equivalent energy in for energy out. You can then pull out of that how much storage to make up the differences you would need.

          It is artificial since even nuclear can be varied, however it gives you an idea what you need to match renewable output to demand. It was a few years ago when I tried this so I'm not going to guess the totals, however iirc it was optimal around 20% renewable. I used 100% efficiency for the storage as well so very much approximate outputs, but fun to play with.

          1. teknopaul

            Re: Grid scale storage

            Grid scale storage is totally possible at quite high efficiency. >90% I was reading recently.

            hydro, lifting concrete blocks, heating rocks, and other battery tech.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Grid scale storage

              "Grid scale storage is totally possible at quite high efficiency. >90% I was reading recently."

              Point being: "reading". Having wet dreams cost zero. Show us one working example, at reasonable price, and we start to believe.

              Until then it's a literal pipe dream which does not exist. And won't exist, either. Not at least with any existing technology.

              Hydro especially is a bad joke: Either you've whole pond concreted over or you'll have *massive* erosion on it for daily drain/fill.

              How many cubic kilometers of swimming pool you can afford to build?

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Grid scale storage

            "however it gives you an idea what you need to match renewable output to demand. "

            If you stay with the status quo. Renewable energy can be a good way forward with EV's. If spot prices are transmitted down the lines or over the air, EV's that are plugged in can charge when supply drives the price down and not charge when demand is peaking. Given the range of most new EV's, they can make a great match to absorbing the output of a variable input such as wind and set to not charge when supply is constricted and therefore, the spot pricing is higher. Somebody that commutes during the week might be able to go from M-F without needing to charge if they start the week full so they can wait until there is a rate drop due to excessive supply. The power company is in a better position as they have a ready supply of load that will buy that power instead of needing to signal turbines to shut down to keep the grid balanced.

        2. Binraider Silver badge

          Grid scale storage is absolutely possible. Dinorwig matches the output of the largest operating UK nuke plant.

          Other sensible options for such storage would be using the working range of the Scottish Lochs, or a Severn Barrage.

          Good luck with the planning permission on the latter of course, but it is disingenuous to say it's not possible. Because it absolutely, is.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Dinorwig Power station can supply 1,728 MW yes but only for 6 hours or 9.1GWh while a Nuclear plant will provide that level of power for *years*.

            If we're relying on unreliable "renewables" such as wind then the UK has regularly had *days* or even weeks without any significant wind. The "Dunkelflaute" event in 2021 saw a shortfall of ~2300GWh of power. That's 252 Dinorwig's (which we're going to put where exactly?) at a cost of roughly £900 Billion (based on 252* £425M in 1974 adjusted for inflation) and of course we'd have to fill them again afterwards which means we'd need more additional generation.

            Or we could use batteries of course. An area roughly the size of Liverpool filled in batteries would be needed to fill that lull and a bargain (in comparison) at roughly £400 Billion (based on the cost of the Victorian Big Battery).

            So yeah, while it may be technically possible it is in no way practical or at all cost effective.

          2. James Turner

            Yes, Dinorwig can output 1.8GW at full power which would cover something like Hinkley Point C going offline suddenly. But its capacity is ‘only’ 9GWh, so after 5 hours it’s empty and you need to wait for it to be refilled.

            Nicking from withouthotair.com, the situation you need to prepare for is a major lull in wind across the UK for several days. The number he uses is 10GW of wind power being unavailable for 5 days = 1200GWh. (And as the amount of wind capacity we build goes up that number only gets bigger).

            So you’re looking at 100s of Dinorwigs, are there that many suitable sites in the country? Are people going to get upset when you start flooding valleys for reservoirs?

            1. Binraider Silver badge

              We're not talking hundreds of Dinorwigs. China is doing very well thank you with 25GW of generation linked to the Three Gorges project.

              Such a similar project is absolutely (technically) possible in the UK, a Severn barrage could probably do four times that with with spare change PLUS much storage, plus significant "free" refilling by the tides of the sea. The Scottish lochs offer multiple options. Planning and the will to do do these things is the bit that's a patent non-starter.

              The majority of the British public don't want Nukes in their back yard. They don't want coal. They don't particularly want to buy extortionately priced gas. And a lot of them don't want windmills either, even offshore. Thats a lot of don't; which in turn equates to high prices and probably interruptions to service if left unattended.

              Also quoting from without hot air, one of my favourite books, "you have to have a plan that adds up". The aforementioned problems with any single-solution (except Fusion, which is 30+ years away, still) mean that no single solution is viable. The right answer is, and always has been a mix. Right now, the mix has split to nearly 40/40 wind/gas with odds and sods filling in the other 20 percent. And gas spiking to maybe 75 percent on a not irregular basis.

              Britain is roughly 10GW short on Nuclear generation to cover current baseload demand. That's going to get worse as EV become more common. There is, with possibly some following wind approx 4 to 8GW coming in the next 15 years. Not remotely enough to keep up. Whereas Wind, there are 20 to 30-odd GW+ of new Windmills connecting over the same time period.

              So, bearing in mind the having-your-cake-and-eating-it argument, what generation mix would you accept; and is also a plan that adds up? Incumbent gov is hell bent on Wind; but has not added the other elements needed to make wind really work (i.e. Grid scale storage).

              Their faith so far lies in interconnection, which as Ukraine has amply demonstrated, is not a solution to the demand problem because if the UK has a shortage, in all likelihood so does the rest of Europe.

              1. Flywheel
                FAIL

                Severn Barrage

                "Severn barrage"

                I seem to remember that there was a tidal scheme planned for Cardiff Bay but the morons in Downing Street cancelled it at the last minute. Idiots!

                1. Peter2 Silver badge

                  Re: Severn Barrage

                  The one with an initial estimate (which would obviously rise) of a quarter of the defence budget where unlike Hinkley point where private investors are paying for it, the developer expected the government to provide all the cash because private investors wouldn't touch their somewhat dodgy looking figures with a bargepole?

                2. hoola Silver badge

                  Re: Severn Barrage

                  It was also hugely expensive for what it would produce with a strike price nearly the same as Hinkley C.

                  Tidal lagoons and such like are not really that viable for the damage the cause and resources needed to build them.

                  All that rock and concrete has to come from somewhere and in the case of Cardiff the construction company was either planning or had bought substantial chuck of Cornwall to essentially destroy and tip into the sea.

                  There is no magic solution but as we (should) have already learned, the environmental part of generating power is just as important as the power its self.

              2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

                Re: We're not talking hundreds of Dinorwigs. China is doing very well thank you

                We're not talking hundreds of Dinorwigs. China is doing very well thank you with 25GW of generation linked to the Three Gorges project.

                Such a similar project is absolutely (technically) possible in the UK, a Severn barrage could probably do four times that with with spare change PLUS much storage

                And how exactly do you propose dam up the Severn esturary to create a reservior large enough to provide remotely comparable generating capacity to Three Gorges, without flooding huge areas of Somerset and south Wales?

                Tidal has been tried, and mostly doesn't work that well. They tend to get fouled up with biofilm and general crud in the water, are damned expensive and need frequent maintenance, which is also expensive. Hydroelectric is known to work but the oddly enough people don't want to move house to avoid being drowned when the requisite reservior is filled.

              3. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

                Construction of the three gorges dam (or rather the impounding of the reservoirs) triggered multiple (I think thousands were claimed) significant earth tremors (the term 'earthquakes' in this instance would probably be justified, if I recall what was reported, they were quite noticeable), leading to slope instability issues and damage to surrounding communities*. Plus, flooding all that area destroyed a significant amount of the natural environment (plus farms and smaller communities).

                I've a vague recollection of reading somewhere that the lakes are so big they have created their own micro-climate, which again has had direct (negative) impacts on the pre-existing natural environment.

                The Three Gorges Dam project may be environmentally justifiable, but it is not environmentally friendly.

                Similarly, though on a smaller scale, the proposed Severn Barrage would be devastating to the existing environment within the Severn tidal area (though it wouldn't come with added earthquakes).

                * A quick internet search suggest that the impounded volume is 22 billion cubic metres. Freshwater density 1litre = 1kg, 1 meter cubed = 1 tonne, so that's 22 billion tonnes of mass added to the ground surface at that location. And Apologies for not using the Reg Soviet's approved units of mass.

              4. hoola Silver badge

                3 Gorges is a completely different thing (as will as a total environmental disaster).

              5. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                China is doing very well thank you with 25GW of generation linked to the Three Gorges project.

                You know China has nuclear power and burns lots of coal, right?

              6. MachDiamond Silver badge

                "That's going to get worse as EV become more common."

                Not if electricity is priced in 15-30 minute intervals. If the wind is up at 2am, the controllers at the National Grid control office have to turn wind turbines out of the wind and shut them down to keep from having a major imbalance. If they could signal a sale on leccy that EV's could take advantage of, many people could charge up their cars at a very low cost if the cars can watch the price feeds and stock up when it's cheap enough. It means that people won't be looking to charge in the late afternoon when demand outpaces supply. It's also far more efficient than pumped storage and less expensive than the utilities building their own battery storage farms. Two things would need to happen, a way to transmit prices in real time and a way for EV's that are plugged in to charge when prices are low (mostly software).

          3. hoola Silver badge

            For a very short time.

            That is the problem with all storage. In reality the least bad option is to have over-capacity on renewables and use the surplus to extract hydrogen. That can be stored and added to gas or even better used in vehicles with fuel cells. The latter solves many problems but the current rush is all about BEV.,

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Hydrogen storage? Not that simple. It leaks and tends to destroy what it's contained within by making it brittle. That's a cost I bet nobody is factoring in whilst they beg for taxpayer funding and subsidies.

        3. veti Silver badge

          Tell that to the Australians.

          Grid scale storage is indeed not cheap, until you compare it to a nuclear power station.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Those figures look very dodgy and come from a source that would appear to have an agenda (PV Magazine being presumably having an obvious agenda) and so they aren't likely to be critically pointing out holes in the story. However, let's assume that they are actually true just for the sake of argument. The system is for 250 megawatts, ie 0.25GW.

            So...

            0.25GW for 1 hour for $132 million.

            1GW for 1 hour for $528 million.

            1GW for 1 day = $12,672 billion

            The issue is week is frequent long lulls in wind power, so you'll want a weeks worth, right? 1GW worth of power output from battery storage for a week would cost $88.2 billion. You probably want at least 5 GW, so that's $441 billion ($ 0.44 trillion) for a week. And that's just storing it, not actually covering generating it in the first place.

            A new EPR nuclear reactor costs ~$30 billion and outputs 3.2GW of zero carbon electricity for 60 years.

            Grid scale storage makes building nuclear power plants look cheap.

            1. hoola Silver badge

              Only if you take the cost of the storage.

              You have to be able to charge it, that needs huge quantities of surplus power to recharge them. The comparison with nuclear is false as nuclear is a consistent power producer. By their very nature, storage systems have a finite run time.

            2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              Grid scale storage makes building nuclear power plants look cheap.

              True.

              I looked at the biggest battery on the planet, in Australia, Vs UK energy generation (about 70GW total)

              IIRC it would take >300 of the biggest batteries on the planet to cover the UK electricty demand for 12 hours

              But as has been noticed calm wind days can run 5+ days.

              Deep down, people know current nuclear is s**t, slow, economies-of-scale that don't materialise on close scrutiny etc.

              But they don't really know that better (with the same basic components) is possible.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ veti & @AC above

            https://newatlas.com/hyrdogen-storage-nanotechnology-unsw/25291/

        4. NeilPost

          Pumped storage Hydro at grid scale.

          1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

            Umm... yeah... where exactly are you going put all that water?

        5. Mark 65

          Afterwards you'll question why anybody has ever considered energy storage as a viable option because it's obviously bonkers.

          No you won't. You'll come to the logical conclusion that, like so many other things in life, some parasite stands to make a fortune with their nose buried deep in the trough.

        6. Jaybus

          How can you say that? The US alone has over 250 GWh of grid storage capacity. Pumped-storage hydroelectric is a very good way to store excess grid capacity during off-peak hours. It just depends on the terrain. Of course batteries are not capable, but there are other forms of storage.

          1. jake Silver badge

            "The US alone has over 250 GWh of grid storage capacity."

            I think someone added a decimal place. Last time I checked, it's about 23 GWh (with a projected 125 GWh by 2050), almost all of which is pumped hydro. And that's just a drop in the bucket, as the US used about 4 PWh last year ...

        7. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "Take the cost of a UPS capable of supplying 1 kilowatt for 1 hour, multiply by a thousand to get to megawatts, then multiply again to get to a gigawatt"

          Ehhhhh, it scales much better than that example.

          I'd be happier to see the EV charging standards be updated for Vehicle to Grid in a more formal way. We will also need more places to plug EV's in while they aren't being used. Not high power, just 3kW or so. People can get paid to sell a certain amount of their car's charge when needed at a price they find acceptable and the car can recharge at night when rates are typically very low. Somebody in the right area with a good margin on buy vs. sell might not pay for the leccy they use in their car that often. This leads to a far more distributed source of backup power and utilities aren't buying and installing massive and very expensive battery farms.

          I just got a screaming deal on about 2kWh of 18650 battery cells, a charger and 48v BMS from somebody giving up on a project and needing to shift a bunch of stuff they have prior to a long distance move. My plan is to power a small chest freezer in the garage with solar backed up with a battery, backed up with the grid if all else goes pear shaped. Longer term I'm hoping to power most of my workshop that way. There is little point to working up any home system where I am that will feed the grid as the government is thinking about regulations that make it not too cost effective. The permits and permissions are a major PIA too.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: Amphetamine crazed hamsters on treadmills, anyone?

        But what about the amphetamine-laced hamster poop?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's something personally I've been annoyed about for probably about 25 years although it's been a problem for longer.

      The Conservatives didn't want to build more in the 90's because of privatisation. Then Labour didn't want to build any because gas was so cheap and abundant. Then they realised it was a problem, decided to build eight, pissed about for a few more years before finally starting one. At an absolutely ridiculous strike price.

      1. NeilPost

        Yup the cringeworthy and moronic ‘dash for gas’ strategy.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          To be fair, for the 1980's it was a good strategy and dealt with replacing obsolete, expensive and unreliable coal generation.

          40 years on it'd still be a good strategy, if we hadn't decommissioned North Sea gas production before having deployed an alternative to it.

        2. hoola Silver badge

          At the time it was the quick and cheap option.

          Gas was plentiful and cheap

          The power stations are small, cheap and quick to build

          Coal was on the way out because of all the costs to sort out pollution, particularly acid rain.

          Many of the coal plants were well towards the end of their lifespan so gas was the easy solution.

          Few people cared about a CCGT on their doorstep.

    4. NeilPost

      Labour completed the shutdown started by the last lot of Tories of Dounreay Reactor Research facility in the late 90’s and as the article says pretty much fuck all has happened since apart from a decommissioning strategy of old nuclear/coal with a ‘dash for gas’…. Which came back as a heavy and predicted ***-fucking this year.

    5. hoola Silver badge

      And not forgetting that all the renewables are quoted on installed capacity, not output capacity. The difference can be surprising.......

      I agree we need more renewables (real ones, not chopping trees down in and burning them to call it "Green") but we are a long way off having enough. Even then there still has to be baseload and gap filling capacity.

      The last one is the real issue because it has to be able to run for weeks (months( at a time in the event of sustained low output from renewables.

      It is exactly this scenario that caused the first peak in gas prices when Germany used gas reserves for months to make up the shortfall from wind generation for about 6 months in 2021.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "real ones, not chopping trees down in and burning them to call it "Green")"

        That is, literally, the greenest option ever invented. Anyone who claims otherwise, lies or has no idea. Looks like the commenter here is one of those people.

        You see, trees have limited lifespan (Novel idea, I know). When they die, they fall down and eventually rot and all of that nice carbon tied into the tree, is freed as CO2 into atmosphere. Assuming it just stays on the ground, is all wrong: It does not happen.

        Now: If you don't wait it to tree to fall and rot, but burn it before that, the amount of CO2 released is exactly the same. If you use it to build a building, you can postpone of that release a long time, but eventually it will happen, no matter what you do.

        So the CO2 emissions from burning wood are literal zero. Only thing causing *any* emissions, is the transport. Compare that to solar where manufacturing the cells uses *huge* amounts of energy and rare earths. Environmental disaster, but as it happens in China, no-one cares.

  3. Al fazed
    Devil

    Funny

    Folks today do not seem to be talking about the other draw backs of nuclear powered electricity production.

    It sounds like yoiu are comparing rotten apples to rotten pears.

    Please look elsewhere for the massive amount of electricity needed to run our science experiments and the rest of us can avoid power cuts by switching off our lights.

    I think they want us to switch off our brains.................

    ALF

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Funny

      And the drawbacks are?

      1. R Soul Silver badge

        Re: Funny

        No viable solution for the disposal or long-term storage of high-level radioactive waste with half-lives measured in millenia.

        It would be a very good idea to do that before making any more of the stuff.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Thorium reactors can use "used" nuclear reactor fuel in addition to Thorium, and they produce comparatively little waste which lasts vastly less long.

          On top of that, they do not need active surveillance because, if the reaction gets too hot, the salt plug melts and all the reactive material just drops into retaining pans. The reaction stops automatically.

          All you need to do after that is wait for the existing matter to cool down, put in a new plug, scoop it all up and start over (of course, I am aware that this is a largely oversimplified version of reality, but I'm not a nuclear scientist, nor even an engineer).

          The thing is, nobody wants to do Thorium reactors because everyone wants to get the Plutonium that EPR reactors make, to make more bombs.

          We have more than enough bombs.

          Let's get back to making civilization function.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            "nobody wants to do Thorium reactors because everyone wants to get the Plutonium that EPR reactors make, to make more bombs."

            Whut? No-one except Iran, NK, etc wants more plutonium. The existing nuclear powers have a glut.

            1. xenny

              If there's a glut of Pu, why am I seeing stories like https://science.howstuffworks.com/plutonium-238-fuel-shortage-nasa.htm about a shortage of the stuff hindering space exploration?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                NASA needs a different isotope of Pu for their thermal generators. It isn't the stuff used in bombs.

          2. jonfr

            Thorium is not nuclear fuel

            No. Thorium is not usable as nuclear fuel. It is possible to change Thorium into uranium-235 and plutonium-239. But that is an expensive energy process.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle

            https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jun/23/thorium-nuclear-uranium (from 2011, but remains valid today.)

          3. veti Silver badge

            Thorium generation remains, at this time, science fiction. Only the Chinese claim to have anything operational at all, and that's just an experimental station producing, IIRC, about 2.5 MW.

            And there's a deathly silence from them as to how testing is going.

            So basically it's at the same stage as conventional uranium power in the early 1950s. Lots of phenomenally expensive mistakes remain to be made before we can realistically claim to know what it can actually do.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "Thorium generation remains, at this time, science fiction."

              The US had an experimental reactor going decades ago at ORNL under Alvin Weinberg. It wasn't the full embodiment to a complete design and Richard Nixon pulled the funding before they could get that far. That's the basis of what the Chinese are putting together. The documentation was open source. What we'll see before long is a whole pallet full of patents on what the Chinese have figured out to advance the technology. It's easy to see their motivation. They have loads of Thorium they've been storing and collecting from processing mine production for rare-earth metals. By the time they have a LFTR reactor worked out, they'll have all fuel they need for a couple of hundred years.

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Funny

          No viable solution for the disposal or long-term storage of high-level radioactive waste with half-lives measured in millenia.

          R Soul,

          Stuff with half-lives measured in millenia aren't that radioactive. If they were, they would have a shorter half-life. That's literally what it means. It's a measure of how fast they're radiating. Not that I'm saying they're safe and you should immediately bath in the stuff. They're dangerous.

          But the problem of storage was solved decades ago. You melt the stuff down, mix it with glass, pour it into barrels and stick it in a mine or a cave.

          Vitrifying it means that there's no danger of leaks (as it's now a solid medium) that's been poured into barrels before solidifying - and also no danger of criticality accidents, as it's been diluted (I'm sure there's a proper scientific word for this - but I am not a proper scientist...

          This means it's now much safer to handle, and much more stable. It's also less radioactive, by dint of being mixed with a whole bunch of glass, which I presume also means the heat output from radioactive decay can be lowered to a set amount.

          Then you just need to find a geologically stable place to park it for the next ten thousand years. The problem with that is getting people to agree to it of course. Which would be a lot easier if we had less fear-mongering.

          Or at least if the people who are quite rationally scared of nuclear accidents were equally scared of the dangers of all other means of power generation. Which are much greater. Nuclear is pretty much the safest method of generating power we know, bar solar I think.

          Here's a link to back that up: link to Our World in Data which came up first when searched.

          This is only data from deaths caused by accidents and air pollution. Even if the UN report on Chernobyl is wrong and it killed tens of thousands of people - it would still make nuclear way safer than coal or oil as a method of power generation. And the fossil fuel figures miss out the potentially massive number of deaths that will be caused by climate change in future if we keep burning them, as well as the political/military costs and deaths caused by the fact that oil and gas are often found in unstable bits of the world.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Funny

            ... it would still make nuclear way safer than coal or oil as a method of power generation.

            It's also far safer than 'renewables', especially wind. But that's risky given working with large lumps of metal at height, in notoriously unsafe conditions like off-shore. Then there's 'grid-scale' batteries and their potential to release large clouds of very toxic chemicals.

            Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to bake a banana and brazil nut cake because I fancy a sicky from the NPP.

            1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

              Re: Funny

              > It's also far safer than 'renewables', especially wind.

              This is complete and utter bollocks. Both nuclear and renewables (no need for scare quotes) have similar death-rates that are multiple orders of magnitude below any other type of power generation. See my comment on another article.

              Enjoy your 'banana' cake - take your time, no need to hurry back.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: Funny

                Both nuclear and renewables (no need for scare quotes) have similar death-rates that are multiple orders of magnitude below any other type of power generation.

                But.. but.. Nuclear is so dangerous. Isn't it? As for quotes, I use them because 'renewables' aren't. They're one of the biggest cons in human history and directly responsible for our current self-inflicted energy crisis.

                As for your previous claim-

                Their figures for deaths (from accidents or air pollution)

                And then your table still has wind ahead of nuclear, even though your Green rag attempted to include Chernobyl casualty figures/estimates. And..

                per TWh of energy produced from 1990-2014 were roughly:

                Any idea what produces more energy, 1GW of nuclear, or 1GW of wind? Or why the cherries stopped being picked after 2014.. But no matter, shouldn't you be playing in the road somewhere, or supergluing yourself to something like your fellow neo-Luddites?

                1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                  Re: Funny

                  The definition of "Renewables" is that you can extract power from the source without depleting it. It applies to wind, solar, hydro because you don't eventually run out of wind or sunshine or rain. This concept is simple enough for children to grasp.

                  Given your struggle with this and apparent confusion over why deaths are quoted per TWh, I'm going to leave it there - it would be like trying to explain relativity to your dog. Also I'm too busy chortling you describing The Economist as a "green rag". Dear oh dear...

                  PS. "Luddite" means a general opposition to new technology, and yet you use it to describe people who are pro-renewables, pro-nuclear, anti-coal and anti-oil? You might want to rethink that.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Funny

                    " because you don't eventually run out of wind or sunshine or rain"

                    We ran out of one of them this summer! And don't tempt POTATUS or Putin as they may cause one of the others to run out.

                  2. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Funny

                    "The definition of "Renewables" is that you can extract power from the source without depleting it."

                    Perpetual motion is still impossible. Entropy says no.

                    You can't buck the laws of physics, no matter how hard you try.

                    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                      Re: Funny

                      So it's to be pedantry, is it?

                      Fine. The sun will eventually turn into a cold dark cinder in 6 billion years, but it will do so regardless of whether we put up PV panels, wind turbines or hydroelectric dams to capture some of the energy its dumped on earth. Your statement applies to a closed system, which the Earth is not. And I have a sneaky suspicion you already know this. Happy?

                      1. jonfr

                        Re: Funny

                        White dwarfs are around 10 million degrees C hot. They cool slowly. When it turns into a dark dwarf star takes around 100.000 trillion years. That sphere is going to turn into iron sphere in another 100.000.000.000 trillion years. Then it is going to quantum it self out if existence in 100.000.000.000.000 x 100.000.000.000.000 trillion years (this is not a typo, this takes ridiculous amount of time).

                      2. jake Silver badge

                        Re: Funny

                        That's not what I was addressing. What I was addressing was the muddy thinking. The phrase "you can extract power from the source without depleting it." is total bullshit ... and yet it is one of the main tenets of the Green faith. When people use this kind of language, I tend to assume the rest of the so-called "science" they spout is equally erroneous.

                        And so should you.

                        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                          Re: Funny

                          Look jake, unlike some of the clowns here I know you're not arguing from a position of wilful ignorance or dogma. So I'm genuinely curious as to why you think that phrase is incorrect when applied to - let's take the simplest example - solar PV.

                          "you can extract power from the source without depleting it" - I didn't say for free, there's a cost to building PV and I'm aware the junctions will break down, the plastics will craze, the glass will crack. Inefficiencies will increase and the machinery will fail. That applies to every endeavour, universally. Only Ozymandias thought otherwise.

                          But from the point of view of humanity, not the infinite universe, the sun will rise tomorrow and PV panels can extract electricity from it when it does without making the Sun less bright. Tell me where I'm wrong.

                        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                          Re: Funny

                          "The phrase "you can extract power from the source without depleting it." is total bullshit"

                          With solar power the equation is sort of upside down. The collection device is 'depleted' but the process does not change the source's rate of depletion. If we covered the Earth in solar panels, it wouldn't make the sun expand into a red giant any sooner.

                          The promise of perpetual energy is something you'll never dissuade some people of. I can't tell you how many times I've had people I know suggest hooking an alternator on a drive shaft to help recharge an EV's battery or deploy a small wind turbine. All I do now is tell them it won't work and email them the local college's course schedule for a physics degree. I tell them if they don't see the problem after the first couple of semesters, they should drop out and switch to a degree in fly-fishing or playground supervision. While the doctorate in those isn't any cheaper, it's way easier to get.

                    2. Lars Silver badge
                      Happy

                      Re: Funny

                      @Jake

                      The sunlight I use right now left the sun 8 minutes ago, it's free to use, and I am not depleting the sun, no help is needed by me.

          2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Funny

            Then you just need to find a geologically stable place to park it for the next ten thousand years. The problem with that is getting people to agree to it of course.

            One suggestion I've seen is dumping it at subduction zones so it gets taken down into the mantle for multiple millennia. There is, of course, an international treaty that prevents nuclear waste being dumped at sea, which is where the subduction zones are (or at least the easiest to get to).

        3. Lars Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Funny

          @R Soul

          The solution in Finland is not too bad. The Americans are planning something similar if in a mountain.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYpiK3W-g_0

          Finland Might Have Solved Nuclear Power’s Biggest Problem

        4. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Funny

          Geological disposal appears to have worked just fine with the natural nuclear reactor at Oklo.

          So with two billion years worth of testing, disposal into geologically stable rock formations would appear to be the rational approach based on "we 100% know that it works".

        5. JamesMcP

          Re: Funny

          Interesting factoid from a study by Oak Ridge Nuclear Laboratory in the 1970s was that the low concentration of fissionable materials in coal (~1ppm) turns out to have about the same energy value as the coal itself. (If you didn't know coal had fissionables, surprise! Coal produces the carcinogen radon, because coal contains fissionable materials that were concentrated by plants umpteen billion years ago, which were then further concentrated into coal)

          So if a very hypothetical 10MW-yr powerplant uses 1M tons of coal, there would be ~1 ton of nuclear material (1 part per million) which is enough to produce 10MW-yr. (all of these are round numbers as exemplars of the study's summary, not actual fuel:power ratios)

          One thing that tells us is that you can grind up nuclear waste and mix it with some wood ash and then treat it like you do coal ash. If that horrifies you, maybe you should look into the millions of tons of coal ash hidden across your country. No, it probably doesn't matter what country you live in, most of them are full of coal ash.

          Another thing that says is that we could in theory extract the fissionables from all those millions of tons of coal ash (which is actually denser than the original coal after the carbon is burned off) and have the equivalent power as all those coal power plants once produced. And then the nuclear waste would have less radiation than the original coal ash as we've turned that into electricity.

        6. khjohansen

          Re: Funny

          Ummmhh it's EITHER "high-level radioactive" OR "half-life measured in millennia" - a long half-life means 1-2 particles escape per month ...

        7. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Funny

          high-level radioactive waste with half-lives measured in millenia

          There is no such thing - that's the propaganda the anti-nuclear lobby want you to think.

          It's either highly active, or it has a long half life. If it's highly active, it's probably got a half life measured in a few years - so 50-100 years and it's no longer highly active. Part of the problem is that there are a lot of people who do not understand the basics, but are very vocal in shouting down any sensible suggestion that the answer to the "high level" bit is simply to let it cool down. A bit like cleaning the ashes out under your fire hearth just before you light a new fire (i.e. when they've been left overnight and much of the next day to cool down) rather than insisting on doing them while they are still hot. Or leaving the chip pan on the stove to cool down instead of trying to put the oil back into storage while it's still dangerously hot.

          Not to mention, a very large proportion of this "waste" is actually "fuel". AIUI if we were to properly handle it and use it as such in the right type of reactors, then just using what we currently have in storage awaiting very expensive disposal, we could produce the UK's entire lecky requirement for a century - and have a very much smaller amount of waste at the end.

        8. hoola Silver badge

          Re: Funny

          A bit like all the CO2 we have dumped into the atmosphere that is attributed to the changes in climate.,

          At least we know where the radioactive waste is and can do something with it.

          If the output from burning hydrocarbons was just as toxic at the point of emission and in the same timescales, more thought would have gone into the consequences.

    2. Dr Scrum Master

      Re: Funny

      Dump it into a geological fault and let the Earth swallow it up.

      1. Fred Dibnah

        Re: Funny

        ….then melt it into magma and spit it out of a volcano some time later.

        1. Stoneshop

          Re: Funny

          Magma tends to churn. And there's a fair bit of it for the waste to get mixed into, so I doubt the magma-plus-radioactive-waste that would come out of the nearest volcano would be even marginally more radioactive than any fresh unpolluted whole-grain biological non-GMO magma.

        2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: ….then melt it into magma and spit it out of a volcano some time later.

          Did you think at all about this before posting, or were you just making a poor joke?

          [ Icon = "Atomic Volcano", the title for a really bad SyFy channel B-movie which ignores hard science in favour of rabid anti-nuclear knee-jerk reactionist sensationalism. It's mine, I call dibbsies. Get your own crap moive idea! ]

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Funny

        "Dump it into a geological fault and let the Earth swallow it up."

        The problem is the travel of one plate into a subduction zone is glacially slow on a human time scale.

  4. VoiceOfTruth

    Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

    We have not had a real energy policy in this country for 30 years. "Let the market decide" was the mantra from the shut-everything-down Tories. They said the future is services like banking for dictators, not engineering. That works only during the lifetime of the power stations, dunnit? When the electricity cuts come these same let-the-market-decide pinheads will be telling us something like "at least the cuts are not as bad as in, ahhhh, Cambodia or Equatorial Guinea". They will not admit that they were wrong all along.

    -> taxpayers would have to make up a multibillion-pound shortfall to decommission nuclear power stations

    -> now valued at £14.8 billion... latest cost estimate... £23.5bn

    That's nuclear for you. How much money do you have? They will take every last penny, and more. Just borrow more if you don't have it.

    Meanwhile China has plans to build 150 nuclear power stations, and given their evident ability to manage large scale infrastructure projects (their high speed rail system dwarfs every other country in scope) they will likely do it. What do we do to please the USA? We block China from building here. We will go the more expensive slower-to-build route. All so the politicians can sit like poodles at the table of the American lords, and occasionally be fed the odd scrap.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      Is 'murica involved in the EPR build? I thought China was involved as well as helping to finance.

      The US is rabidly anti-nuclear so not sure why they would help.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        The US is rabidly anti-nuclear so not sure why they would help.

        $$$

        See-

        https://emerging-europe.com/news/poland-signs-nuclear-deals-but-concerns-over-slow-pace-of-coal-exit-remain/

        First, Poland last week inked an agreement with US firm Westinghouse Electric to build a three-reactor nuclear power plant at Choczewo near the Baltic Sea, and then, just four days later, this week reached a deal with South Korea to develop a second nuclear power plant in central Poland.

        Westinghouse used to be owned by us, until a certain G.Brown esq. flogged it off. Sadly, our political elite have long been rabidly anti-nuclear, except when they jet off to bask in radiation in places like the Caribbean. Then have too many PPEs, and not enough engineers or scientists. Shame BoJo wasn't made to sail away and back for his latest vacation. He may have gained a better understanding about the benefits of modern vs pre-Industrial technology.

        Come to think of it, this is an excellent idea. Ban flights for politicians, replace them with sailing ships. But it's urgent I travel! Sorry master, the Trade Winds are against you..

    2. nichomach

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      In all fairness, new reactors were greenlit in 2009, but were shelved by the coalition.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        @nichomach

        "shelved by the coalition".

        Funny how it's always the Liberals at fault in the coalition and never the Tory with the majority.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          Funny how it's always the Liberals at fault in the coalition and never the Tory with the majority.

          Pardon my cynicism but wasn't that why they were invited in? Too hungry for a place at the top table to realise it was a poisoned chalice they were drinking from. A supply and confidence agreement would have been saner but no LD would have got a cabinet post.

        2. Dave Schofield

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          >Funny how it's always the Liberals at fault in the coalition and never the Tory with the majority.

          IIRC it was the Liberal MP Chris Huhne who was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change at the time who nixed it with the support of Cameron and Osbourne. This was before he attempted to subvert the course of justice and was sent to prison for trying to dodge a speeding ticket...

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            -> Liberal MP Chris Huhne

            I had forgotten about him. He is another of the Oxford PPE people. They are amongst the dimmest bulbs in the world, the educated but stupid peolple.

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          Well it is definitely the LibDems fault HS2 wasn't binned back then.

        4. nichomach

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          I didn't say it was the Liberals' fault, merely stated that it was the coalition government that shelved the plan. That said, lay down with dogs, you get fleas.

    3. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      As I have said elsewhere, Sizewell B was the CEGB's prototype for a whole new fleet of generators. Thatcher rolls in, stops the whole plan and goes with Gas burning instead.

      Now the North Sea is depleted, we are rushing up Windmills which are good (some of the time) and importing Gas for the remainder.

      Having a plan means looking beyond surviving the next election. And no parliamentary party of the last 40 years has done that. (Though I am as up for a change from the Tories as anyone else).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        Thacher was pro nuclear as it helped to kill off the coal miners unions. Once that happened and we found cheap gas she got much less interested.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          To be fair, give any politician two options-

          1) Cheap to build, moderate running costs that are cheaper than people are used to paying for. Up and running in ~3 years so finished in your electoral term to win you votes.

          2) Expensive to build, cheap long term running costs. Up and running in 10 years from go ahead when your opposition is in office and wins them votes.

          Which do they pick?

          1. Binraider Silver badge

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            You missed option 3.

            3) Trust in the Free Market to "deliver". And thereby build nothing except in those areas where subsidies are massively favourable; while compromising national security of supply.

            2 is obviously my preference, but it's literally been over 40 years since any UK government has had a plan measured on that timescale. We're all paying for that short sightedness now.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

              "2 is obviously my preference, but it's literally been over 40 years since any UK government has had a plan measured on that timescale. We're all paying for that short sightedness now."

              That might be due to the profit motive that most politicians seem to have coupled with a genetic disorder that prevents them from seeing government service as altruistic in any way. If a project has little potential in buying them votes the next time they are up for re-election, they have little interest. On the other hand, being anti-nuke can be very popular and "buy" them some votes so they'll just go with that since there hasn't seemed like a good time to be pro-nuke.

        2. Binraider Silver badge

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          How many Nukes were built under Thatcher?

          One.

          She was pro-nuclear, but not able to deliver on building them, because doing so would have lost out on A) massive profits from the Gas industry and B) vote-losing elections.

          1. Binraider Silver badge

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            Downvotes, but no actual challenge to the statement of fact that we got ONE new reactor under Thatcher.

            1. Adrian 4

              Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

              Always the way with the downvotes. Costless negativity.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        Given Sizewell -B was a prototype, it would make sense to have waited until it had been in service a few years before committing to a larger-scale rollout/build programme. Which given Sizewell-B went into operation in 1995, would seem to indicate the decision would have fallen on to the New Labour government. As we know they and the subsequent Coalition and Conservative governments simply kicked the ball down the road...

        So whilst Thatcher did stall the CEGB's plans, and for good reason, given the intent was to deploy a fleet of identical reactors instead of the fleet of boutique reactors the country currently has, she did set the ball rolling, assuming her successors would pick it up.

        1. Binraider Silver badge

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          The dismantling of the CEGB and end of the nuke programme beyond Sizewell B is widely documentented as a decision made in the early 1980s.

          Responsibility and blame lie with the Tories.

          Although noting that Neil Kinnock campaigned extensively on anti-Nuclear too. That didn't go too well for him.

          Have your cake and eat it is the default vote-winning tactic employed by many sides, and is why FPTP must die. We have had ineffective government for too long.

          1. Twanky

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            ...why FPTP must die.

            When offered the chance to adopt AV - which although it is not PR is at least an opportunity to vote for 'anyone but the *whatever party you hate* candidate' - the Brits didn't take the opportunity. If we had done so we might then have had the ability to grant enough power to those who support proper PR to get that over the line. But I guess the LDs were already hated for sleeping with the enemy by then. I blame the voters.

            (This reminds me - I wonder what the regional/national split was for what was the second UK-wide referendum ever held? Did certain areas feel collectively aggrieved because they didn't get the result they wanted?)

            1. Binraider Silver badge

              Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

              AV has all the problems of FPTP, and a few of their own.

              AV is not PR.

              Give us the option for MMPR and I'll be on it like a shot.

              1. Twanky

                Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

                AV has all the problems of FPTP, and a few of their own.

                I slightly disagree: it offers the opportunity to upset the trend to tactical voting where people vote for the least-bad party because they worry that the candidate/party they really want won't win. In other words it gives an opportunity to shake up the current duopoly.

                AV is not PR.

                Yep. That's what I said.

                I guess we'll just have to keep voting for the candidate of the party which supports the change to MMPR...

                Oh, wait.

    4. Duncan Macdonald

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      The projected costs are stupid because of hopelessly strict radiation guidelines. (No one in the next 10,000 years should be exposed to the same level of radiation that many people experience naturally in Cornwall due to the traces of uranium in the rocks there.)

      A much more realistic way of decommissioning nuclear power stations

      1) Remove the fuel rods

      2) Wait 10 years to allow the short lived (under 1 year) radioisotopes to decay to low levels

      3) Fill the reactor core with concrete

      4) Surround the reactor core with 20 feet of waterproof concrete (the Roman volcanic ash and seawater mix)

      5) Use some bulldozers to create a small artificial hill (50 feet above the reactor core) and make it into a park

      This would still meet the requirement of very low exposure risk but would take the cost down to well under £1billion per reactor.

    5. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      @VoiceOfTruth

      "We have not had a real energy policy in this country for 30 years. "Let the market decide" was the mantra from the shut-everything-down Tories"

      I havnt seen much of the market being allowed to do anything for energy. We have power generation but we must shut it down because of the new religion. Nukes have been planned then blocked by govs fearing greenies who have opposed nukes until very recently. Vast amounts spent on monuments to the sky god in hopes it will fart at the right time to produce some electricity. Fossil fuels will be banned by the gov in a couple of decades but then they cry there is a lack of gas storage that has no ROI due to green madness.

      "Meanwhile China has plans to build 150 nuclear power stations, and given their evident ability to manage large scale infrastructure projects (their high speed rail system dwarfs every other country in scope) they will likely do it."

      Nukes coal and more, China seems serious about improving itself while we westerners hobble ourselves. I must admit to a little amusement that Germany is removing wind turbines so they can mine lignite coal.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Mushroom

        I don't find that amusing at all.

        The Greenies in Germany have been very vocal about nuclear for the past fourty years, talking about pollution and keeping our planet clean, and now they don't even squeak when new coal plants are being built ?

        Fucking hypocrites.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Greens and their associated ilk are parties of protest. Allowing them to govern leads to predictably catastrophic results.

          Most of Europe is going through a political reality check at the moment and I expect much of the magical thinking associated with leftist ideology, so prevalent in the post-war era, is soon to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

          1. Filippo Silver badge

            *scratches head*

            I admit I'm not keeping up with politics on all European countries, but, at least in Italy and the UK, it looks to me like the reality check going on is on right-wing ideologies. Which countries are doing especially bad with a left-leaning government?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Greens are far right, not leftists at all. Their ideologies are similar to fascists and their goals are literally fascist goals where *they* decide what other humans (the peons) may do or not do.

            All that with 'care about environment' BS they won't even believe themselves. Painfully obvious immediately when one of them gains power and we've had that here in North, for several years.

            It's *all* "power for me". No more, no less. Greenest government ever gave permission to build 2 new nuclear plants. That tells you what kind of 'greens' they actually are.

            Decades ago (yes, I'm an old fart with a long memory) we had actual greens in government. Then the Cabinet decided to grant a permission for one new nuclear plant and the greens left the Cabinet in protest. I don't agree with them, but I do respect them having a back bone to do that.

            None of the modern greens have that.

            "Leftist ideology", like having health care organized by the state, *should* go into dustbin of history? Are you a stupid Republiclan or what? (no, that's not a typo either.)

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          @Pascal Monett

          "The Greenies in Germany have been very vocal about nuclear for the past fourty years, talking about pollution and keeping our planet clean, and now they don't even squeak when new coal plants are being built ?

          Fucking hypocrites."

          Yup. The fantasy land of fairies and unicorns is sweet for a while until reality hits and their lights go out. The rest of us have been pointing this out for a while. But now the panic sets in and anything goes because the ideology doesnt provide the energy needed to live.

        3. anothercynic Silver badge

          Funny you should mention the Greenies in Germany. They *do* squawk in protest, but they have also pointed out that nuclear power does not resolve the problem people have right now - heat, which many coal/gas-fired stations provide through district heating systems. The German nuclear power stations are not connected to district heating at all.

          The Greens are pragmatic right now, pointing out that the nuclear industry in Europe now represents a different risk profile than before. Previously it was more about what happens when a nuclear power station goes pop (i.e. Chernobyl/Fukushima). While this risk, especially with the Russian war against Ukraine, still exists, they now also point out that Europe mostly gets its uranium from... Russia (via Rosatom) and Kazakhstan (under Russian influence), which they believe to be a problem similar to the current gas supply. They also point to France as an example of where the nuclear policy presents a problem (mostly in summer) in so far as that higher summer temperatures (and associated drought) lead to low river water levels and stations have to then reduce production (although, as pointed out elsewhere, we know also that EDF schedules maintenance during summer to service their aging nuclear estate).

          The problems they raise are relevant, but I agree that burning lignite is not the correct answer either (they know it, we know it, everyone knows it). Short of a magic bullet that makes heat easy to produce out of nothing, we're stuck with what we have - burning stuff, whether gas, coal, or uranium. Wind and PV won't fix that problem.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            France is mostly poor placement of the reactors. If the UK went down the road of gen4 type reactors we could use the huge stockpile of old magnox fuel we have piled up at Sellafield.

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              Poor placement is relative. Yes, France has a huge coastline, but they also have huge rivers (which is why many nuclear power stations are sited along them). But since they were built, things have progressed in environmental protection (and rightly so), so suddenly being able to pour hot (in comparison) water en masse back into the river is no longer the done thing.

              And terminating all nuclear power stations inland in favour of large ones on the coastline doesn't work well in a country with a large landmass (like France).

              In Germany (which is a long but relatively narrow) country, putting up a bunch of nuclear power stations on the North and Baltic Seas will not work well either, 'environmental lobby'/CND-advocates notwithstanding.

              At least Germany *has* managed to store huge amounts of gas, which we've not managed to do (we have a safety margin of 9 days, theirs is 90), mostly because Centrica refused to invest more into the Rough storage facility (and the government refused to subsidise any investment), and then shut it down. Now that windfall taxes are a thing, Centrica suddenly has the money to upgrade Rough (but still only to 20% of its total capacity) to save themselves any taxes they might otherwise have to pay.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            German "Greens" have opposed anything related to nuclear since the '70, and Germans are now paying the price of their Luddite influence.

            In France, most of the flats are heated using electricity, Germany with more nuclear plants could have done the same.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            " The German nuclear power stations are not connected to district heating at all."

            Yes, because someone decided to do so. I wonder who was that? The Greens, perhaps?

            Nuclear plant produces almost 1:1 heat/electricity, so wasting all that is just plain stupidity and that doesn't happen by accident.

            Here in North the same stupid thing was done and I know the exact reason for that: Local power companies didn't want free heat from *other* company. Literally because of greed.

            They rather burn coal to make heat than get free heat from nuclear plant nearby because it would mean *less profit*. No other reason.

      2. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        -> the market being allowed to do anything for energy

        Gas became a thing in the UK for a few of reasons. 1. It's not coal, which was then very out of favour with the Tories. 2. It's quick to build, unlike nuclear. 3. There was no real opposition to gas burning, unlike nuclear. 4. Gas plants are cheap. Points 2 and 4 are market factors.

        The other points you make your reply about nuclear/gas is just confirmation of the lack of an energy policy. We have too many lawyers as MPs and not enough engineers and scientists. As shown at the peak of the corona virus, the Tories could not even find a doctor to be Health Secretary.

        -> China seems serious about improving itself

        The scale and speed at which China does this is staggering. They really have mastered large scale infrastructure. We in the West (collectively) lack vision these days.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          @VoiceOfTruth

          "1. It's not coal, which was then very out of favour with the Tories."

          Labour closed more coal mines than the Tories.

          "2. It's quick to build, unlike nuclear."

          To be fair that makes sense when energy was needed asap. It would provide time to build other energy generation (as you say nukes).

          "3. There was no real opposition to gas burning, unlike nuclear."

          Very true. This was greenies opposing nukes. For over a decade now there have been plans and then no action due to opposition to nukes. Clegg rejected nukes during the coalition because they wouldnt be online until 2022.

          "4. Gas plants are cheap"

          And extremely necessary for the green madness garbage. Otherwise the lights go out.

          "Points 2 and 4 are market factors"

          They sound like market factors but was government policy. Market factors would be not shutting down the coal plants we already have. If it was market factors we would have more gas storage which takes decades to provide a return but would be worth it but for government energy policy.

          "The scale and speed at which China does this is staggering. They really have mastered large scale infrastructure. We in the West (collectively) lack vision these days."

          Well said but this is where they have proven that increased free market produces prosperity while their previous approach cause starvation and poverty. Cheap energy changes everything.

          I dont think people quite realise that expensive energy increases the amount we are taxed, poorer public services as well as the direct costs we face. Unfortunately green madness has caused a lot of damage

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            >Labour closed more coal mines than the Tories.

            Labour closed more coal mines, but redeployed the miners into other more profitable mines. The Tories shut the mines and expected the miners to retrain themselves to do non-existent jobs with significant impact on the surrounding communities - even 30 years later.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

              @AC

              "Labour closed more coal mines, but redeployed the miners into other more profitable mines."

              Sounds like a good way to make a profitable mine less profitable (if true).

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

                Do I assume 8 people are confused about this or just miffed at reality?

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            " We in the West (collectively) lack vision these days.""

            I'll call it a focus on greed. Any planning that won't come to fruition before a politician is up for re-election again isn't a high priority. Publicly traded companies are worried about next quarter's figures since the Execs are awarded their bonuses based on those figures or tossed out of their corner offices for a miss. The furthest forward they'll think is one year if they have a really good way to pitch the program. When you start talking about any project that will take multiple years it almost doesn't matter the magnitude of the benefit or the amount of money it could make.

        2. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          @VoiceOfTruth

          One thing you don't mention is that Britain is one of those countries using gas for cooking and heating homes. That was never a smart solution to stick with.

          1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            "That was never a smart solution to stick with."

            Not really.

            Britain uses natural gas for cooking and heating because long before we had natural gas, we had coal gas.

            We had lots of coal and converting that to coke gave a better solid fuel (as I understand it) plus a whole load of useful (at the time) chemical by-products, including gas for lighting/heating/cooking.

            As a result, the country has an extensive pipe network distributing gas (certainly within urban areas).

            The mistake was probably the 'dash-for-gas' in the late 1980's, when we switched from coal to gas for electricity generation. Decades worth of North Sea Gas supply for domestic fuel (heating/cooking use) were burnt up in years of electricity generation.

            But gas for electricity generation was quick to implement, much cleaner than coal, and also largely killed the UK coal industry (and thus, the UK coal mining unions).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            False.

            When you have your own oild field which produces huge amounts of gas *as a by-product* using it is the most brilliant idea you can have.

            Anyone who doesn't understand that, isn't qualified to comment anything: It was literally free gas: All of the cost was covered by selling oil.

            Also gas is moved in pipes, dropping the transport cost and losses near zero: Very efficient.

        3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          Fuck off Kremlinbot. We're not going to keep buying your gas, because your fuhrer invaded Ukraine.

        4. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          The scale and speed at which China does this is staggering. They really have mastered large scale infrastructure. We in the West (collectively) lack vision these days.

          It's actually not particularly staggering. Your looking at one aspect (total reported output) and nothing else and coming to the conclusion that the yare great based on that.

          If they decide that they are going to build something then they just do it, and nobody protests because they'd be beaten unconscious and then sent off to court, where they'd either get sent for forcible re-education at best. The appeal process? Well, technically they do have one; China only has a 99% conviction rate, but you'd better hope the appeal is processed in less time than it takes to walk out of the court to the execution van.

          Hence, there are no groups like extinction rebellion or greenpeace. There are no long drawn out court cases for much the same reason, as well as the fact that the court rulings will owe little to what laws say, and much to the interests of the people in charge want so there are no "lawfare" groups causing legal holdups.

          They also pay scant attention to environmental concerns, or living standards for the people either doing the building or living around the building site. ie; the "996" culture of working hours; 9AM to 9PM 6 days a week and lack of any real compensation payments for causing avoidable problems.

          I suppose it might look superficially impressive at how much they've built, right up until you look at how it's been done and the build quality of what's gone up and how quickly it's likely to come back down again.

          Central command and control is great at doing things and maximising output, but really, really awful when you realise that 70% of the output is faulty and would fail a QC process. (hence why it's there isn't one because it would embarrass somebody) and nobody can protest anything at any point so there is no self correction process in the system.

          1. anothercynic Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            I was about to comment on how China's political system and lack of opposition allows for grand scale projects to proceed at speed... you got in there before me.

            Well-summarised!

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          > The scale and speed at which China does this is staggering. They really have mastered large scale infrastructure. We in the West (collectively) lack vision these days.

          It's so much cheaper and quicker to shoot anyone who objects than to have a million barristers hold a public enquiry until after the next election (WTF is an election after all).

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            If China implemented a policy of shooting barristers, who in his right mind would object?

            1. Twanky
              Pirate

              Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

              "Objection!"

              "Overruled."

        6. Adrian 4

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          > The other points you make your reply about nuclear/gas is just confirmation of the lack of an energy policy. We have too many lawyers as MPs and not enough engineers and scientists. As shown at the peak of the corona virus, the Tories could not even find a doctor to be Health Secretary.

          Engineers and scientists aren't good enough liars to be politicians. And the government got rid of the perfectly good experts they had because they started to argue. Can't have experts who have better arguments than ministers.

    6. Oddlegs

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      Russia's behaviour in Ukraine has highlighted that we should be very wary of becoming reliant on any potentially unfriendly regime especially when it's something as critical as energy infrastructure. Hopefully China see which way the wind's blowing, cut Russia loose and realise that the west are the far more valuable trading and political partner but it could still go the other way.

      We may not always agree with our American, European and other 'western' partners but being closer to them in terms of political and legal structure means doing business with them is generally pretty reliable.

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        -> Hopefully China see which way the wind's blowing

        China sees it very well. The West bans its companies, subjects it to sanctions, and then somebody like you comes along and says the West is better. No. The USA (not the West, but the West is co-opted into line by US threats) is opposed to China. That is how it is.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

          China sees it very well. The West bans its companies, subjects it to sanctions, and then somebody like you comes along and says the West is better.

          VoiceOf"Truth",

          China were invited into the World Trade Organisation. Given a seat at the table of all the big international bodies. We sent loads of investment so they could grow their economy. And traded with them on reasonable terms.

          Their response was to steal loads of our technology and try to subborn a bunch of our academics to do more of the same and suppress free speach. I've no problem with the other spying, because not only do all governments spy, but actually I think it makes the world a safer place that they do. It means the more paranoid ones feel less threatened and are less likely to panic and start wars. China also explicitly subsidised loads of their companies in order to steal work from ours - which is again something all governments do or have done, but on a ludicrous scale that has casused massive disruption to our economies. And then they gave themselves the ability to control our infrastructure by subsidising companies like Huawei so they could out-compete our infrastructure and then openly having government controls on their choices - so they were giving themselves the power to spy on or turn off our infrastructure - and then get all surprised when finally we react.

          And even then, only really after Xi Xinping took over, made himself dictator for life and purged all his more moderate rivals. Started the minor matter of a genocide against the Uighur people, which I believe is already being implemented in Tibet as well. Broke all the deals made over the handover of Hong Kong and publicly threatens to invade the island (Taiwan) that makes a large amount of the world's best chips.

          So yes, finally people in the West are waking up to the potential dangers of being dependent on China. Well some, the German Chancellor has just popped across to China today to sign loads of investment agreements and undermine the rest of the EUs attempts to have a more sensible China policy. German policymaking on Russia having proved to be such a shining example to the rest of Europe...

          Even with all the above I think it's taken Russia's invasion of Ukraine and several years of China's "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy to get a lot of people to realise the dangers and at least think about making some sort of policy response. Even if nobody quite agrees what it should be...

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            Don't bother 'debating' with the Kremlinbot. Especially when it leads you into 'yellow peril' racism, which is his intent.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

              Especially when it leads you into 'yellow peril' racism, which is his intent.

              What the hell are you on about?

              Talking about the dangers posed by this Chinese government is important. Rather than ignoring the problem and hoping it'll go away as we've been doing with both Russia and China for the last few years.

              Putin and Xi are now both effectively dictators for life - because they've committed so many crimes and stomped on, or purged, so many of their rivals that they probably don't dare retire. That's a problem for our relations with both Russia and China that we simply can't ignore.

              Also we need to say this stuff out loud. Precisely because it's not about racism, but about us defending our own interests. Sometimes that means not being nice. For example we've all just had a demonstration of the risks of appeasement. And the risks of hope instead of strategy when trying to effect deterrence. People assumed Putin wouldn't invade Ukraine, beause it would be stupid. But he invaded Ukraine in 2014 and 2015 and it was stupid then too. But we didn't impose significant enough costs to deter him doing it again, and we didn't clearly say that we would count another invasion of Ukraine as a massive risk to our interests that would cause a devastating response. Had Putin know that, he might not have done it.

              So now's the time to wake up, smell the coffee, and try and avoid a devastating Chinese invasion of Taiwan, before it happens. It's Xi's aim, and he's not made a secret of it. Of course he talks about re-unification through peaceful means, but that's a clear and obvious lie - as Taiwan's people don't want that. Even less now they've seen how the Chinese government are treating the people of Hong Kong. So it's an open threat of war, and should be treated as such, and peacefully deterred.

              1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

                "What the hell are you on about?"

                Hmmm...

                "Their response was to steal loads of our technology and try to subborn a bunch of our academics to do more of the same"

                "China also explicitly subsidised loads of their companies in order to steal work from ours - which is again something all governments do or have done, but on a ludicrous scale that has casused massive disruption to our economies"

                "and then they gave themselves the ability to control our infrastructure"

                "Xi Xinping took over, made himself dictator for life and purged all his more moderate rivals. Started the minor matter of a genocide against the Uighur people, which I believe is already being implemented in Tibet as well"

                "publicly threatens to invade the island (Taiwan)"

                These are all 'yellow peril' racist talking points rather than reality. (The Uighur oppression is horrific, but it isn't genocidal. Yet, at least. They are wiping out the culture, not the people.) Most of the claims aren't even possible, just like the 'rare earths monopoly' nonsense.

                "a devastating Chinese invasion of Taiwan, before it happens. It's Xi's aim"

                This is like believing Spain is about to invade Gibraltar. The 'yellow peril' mob claim China is engaged in a military build up when it builds a fraction of what is needed to catch up with the US, at the same time as the US builds many times as much and widens the gap. We hear about how historic naval ports which have been there for centuries are somehow positioned to threaten Taiwan. And so on and so forth. There is not a single reason to believe China has the means to invade Taiwan; quite the contrary, we know there is no chance. They are decades away from having an adequate military if they started building now - which they aren't doing.

                Sabre rattling about Taiwan plays well domestically when it comes to keeping a certain crowd happy, just like sabre rattling about Gibraltar does for Spanish politicians, about the Falklands for UK politicians, and so-on. That doesn't mean there's any actual prospect of any action to that end.

                The reality is that China has not actually been building many modern aircraft or weapons systems. The Taiwanese air force is almost a match for the PLAAF on its own, let alone with NATO help.

                I'm no fan of China or the current regime in charge there, but you're spouting racist talking points rather than realistic criticisms. Even when you were on the right page regarding social oppression, you still fell for the nonsense.

                1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                  Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

                  These are all 'yellow peril' racist talking points rather than reality. (The Uighur oppression is horrific, but it isn't genocidal. Yet, at least. They are wiping out the culture, not the people.)

                  UN definition of genocide

                  In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

                  Killing members of the group;

                  Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

                  Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

                  Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

                  Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

                  Locking at least a million Muslim Uighur people in concentration camps and imposing political education on them for months until they accept that they are no longer Muslim but good Chinese communists in order to be allowed out, is genocide by the above definition.

                  You don't have to set out to kill a population, you can also just force them to move, as the Soviet Union did under Stalin to the Chechens, Ingush, Crimean Tartars and others. Or you can do like Putin (who also forced a bunch of Crimean Tartars out of Crimea in 2014) - who's sent teachers to occupied parts of Ukraine and burned all the school books so the kids can be forced to learn that they're not really Ukranians, but actually Russians. Oh and learn that all in Russian. With Ukranian banned from schools. At the same time threatening their parents, that if they're not sent to school, they'll be kidnapped and farmed out to Russian families for adoption. And unknown number of Ukranian children have already been so kidnapped and adopted in Russia, mostly the kids of parents killed in the war, or separated from them. Plus sending tens to hundreds of thousands of Ukranians through "filtration" camps, where they were interrogated, some tortuned and some deported to remote areas of Russia. That's also genocide. Russia is committing genocide in Urkaine, as well as all the other war crimes.

                  In both cases this is about language and culture, not extermination.

                  It's not some fucking "yellow peril talking point". It's deadly serious and we should be doing more about it.

                  This is like believing Spain is about to invade Gibraltar.

                  Have you looked at how many amphibious landing ships China has been building in recent years? For a country with no history of expeditionary warfare. Did you notice the virtual naval blockade of Taiwan, just for inviting Nancy Pelosi over for a visit? Have you not seen what just happened in Ukraine? Use your brain man! Maybe President Xi isn't planning an invasion of Taiwan. He just says he is and is spending vast quantities of time and money on preparing to. But it would be catastrophically fucking stupid to act on wishful thinking like that. You might not think it's a sensible thing to do, but unless you can read Xi Xinping's mind - that's no help.

                  I just did a quick Google. China has 3 helicopter carrier, landing craft docking ships (LHDs), plus another three bigger ones on order - the new ones equivalent in size to a US Wasp class.

                  8 x LPD - (Landing platfrom dock) again for transporting troops and landing craft then launching them. But not the full flat deck for helo operations, just landing pads.

                  29 x LST - Landing Ship Tanks. The allies did D-Day with 23 LSTs from memory. They'll each hold about a company of tanks / armoured vehicles - so that's enough for an entire armoured division!

                  11 x LSM - medium landing ship.

                  Most LHDs hold about a battalion, more if you squeeze them in because you're not going far. So that's 2 brigades worth, plus maybe the same again on all the other stuff?

                  D-Day was 3 divisions of paratroopers dropped and about 2 divisions per beach on day one. Plus overwhelming naval and air superiority but Portsmouth to Cherbourg is 93 miles - so not much less distance.

                  China has specialist assault landing ships for lets say 4 infantry brigades and 3 armoured / mechanised brigades. Plus what you can get on ro-ro ferries and bring in to a port (once you've captured it) plus troops on the rest of the fleet and in cargo ships that can be moved by helicopter. So it's no D-Day, but it isn't much smaller than the landings in Sicily and then Italy.

                  It's not enough to conquer Taiwan. But enough to hold a bridgehead while reinforcements are brought in from China. Assuming enough shipping can survive multiple trips across the Taiwan straight. Not a given.

                  Final point. Taiwan's defence budget is about $14bn. China's is $230bn. Any capability they don't have now, they might have in ten years.

                  Oh and real final point. Stop calling people you disagree with racist. Engage with the points they make.

                2. Filippo Silver badge

                  Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

                  By that criterion, any criticism of any nation's policy would be called racist. That can't work. If "X threatens to invade Y" can be dismissed as racist, I can't see any way to have a meaningful conversation about international relationships - ever. Racism targets people, not policies.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

            "Their response was to steal loads of our technology and try to subborn a bunch of our academics to do more of the same and suppress free speach."

            Just like USA, I don't see any difference at all. You Yanks just used dollars you made by stealing from everyone else, a step more.

            Also using 'free speech' in USA leads immediately to death threats: It doesn't exist. Unless you're Fox News spreading those death threats.

    7. Velv
      Flame

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      China will build their 150 reactors quit easily, because they don't suffer from pesky environmental controls and troublesome protestors.

      You think the current anti-oil campaigners are causing disruption, wait until the anti nuclear protestors start blocking the streets. Or is the UK Home Office going to disappear protestors to Rwanda along with the asylum seekers?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        Or is the UK Home Office going to disappear protestors to Rwanda along with the asylum seekers?

        I think you misspelled economic migrant there, old chap.

        And as for the Rwanda plan, the UK is simply taking a leaf out of the EU's play book.

        After deadly airstrikes and attacks on migrant detention centres in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, the European Union has come up with a new plan to evacuate vulnerable migrants and refugees stranded in the volatile North African nation: send them to Rwanda.

        The proposal – which is reported to involve some 500 detainees but does not yet have a timeline – is expected to alleviate some of the most immediate humanitarian needs facing migrants and refugees, many of whom have been caught in the crosshairs of Libya’s renewed civil war.

        https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/opinion/2019/08/16/migration-eu-rwanda-libya-plan

      2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        "the current anti-oil campaigners"

        They aren't really anti-oil, they're anti black and brown people. They've noted that the IPCC says the scientific consensus on climate change is that to ban oil now would result in billions of excess deaths amongst the poorer and poorest people on the planet, and see it as a great opportunity to achieve their genocidal white supremacist goal.

        If you look at the pictures and videos of them, you will never see a dark face among them. Same with XR. They're nutty racists, and occasionally people too stupid to realise they're the tools of the far right.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        "China will build their 150 reactors quit easily, "

        No they won't. Or, if you want to nitpick, they will *build* them easily. Getting them *to work* is totally another thing and, as it's a country corrupted to the hilt, getting any of them to work properly won't happen easily. If ever.

        Nuclear plants aren't a thing where you cut every corner and get it working. Therefore they won't work.

    8. Altrux

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      What does China do with its nuclear waste?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        What does China do with its nuclear waste?

        Chinese reactors are wholesome party implements, and do not produce any dangerous waste. Their output can be safely dumped as landfill, and no-one will complain. Or else.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      Get over yourself and your misanthropic chinese ruling party lap dog mantras.

    10. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      " "Let the market decide" was the mantra from the shut-everything-down Tories"

      More lies from the Kremlinbot. That is the exact opposite of the truth. This has all been directly mandated by central government.

    11. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      As soon as all remaining EU laws are scrapped, there won't be any need to properly decommission nuclear reactors, won't it?

    12. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

      Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

      given their evident ability to manage large scale infrastructure projects

      Yes, we could learn some lessons from the Chinese in how to manage big projects.

      Population doesn't like the project ? Over here they get listened to, we go through years of public enquiries, and often the result is that nothing gets built at all due to the squabbling. Over there, it's happening, if you don't like it we have some nice forced labour camps you may wish to "relocate" to.

      It involves knocking your house down. Over here, again PIs, compensation, etc. Over there, your house is going, your choice if you choose to move out before the bulldozer arrives.

      So once you take out the listening to the public, public enquiries, planning applications, and all that stuff - yeah it's trivial to make a big project happen. I'm not sure I'd prefer the Chinese approach over ours though !

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

        "Population doesn't like the project ? Over here they get listened to, we go through years of public enquiries, and often the result is that nothing gets built at all due to the squabbling. Over there, it's happening, if you don't like it we have some nice forced labour camps you may wish to "relocate" to."

        I'll agree with some of that. They also don't have nearly as much red tape when a project goes forward. In the US where I'm living, the local government seems dead set on finding ways to keep anything from happening (except spending). Want to put up a fence? There's planning permissions, permits to pay for and an extra cost if the inspector has to return to inspect a correction (nearly every time). Want to tear down a fence? There's planning permissions, permits to pull and a sign off from an inspector. Want to do a major repair on the fence....................... If there's been a strong wind and your fence is in need of repairs, you could be cited and fined if you don't fix it within a set period of time. If you decide to take the whole thing away or the repairs will cost above an amount set in the 1960's, see above.

        People note the short amount of time that it took the Chinese to build a Gigafactory for Elon. It was a government sponsored project and they had building inspectors on site at all times to sign off work as it was done. No waiting for them to show up or getting surprised with a correction. (nobody seemed to have noticed that VW built an EV plant at and in the same time frame)

  5. davcefai
    Facepalm

    Prophetic

    From The 70s:

    "When you're cold, hungry and out of work....................eat a conservationist!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Prophetic

      FTFY

      "When you're cold, hungry and out of work....................eat a conservative!"

      1. Adrian 4

        Re: Prophetic

        Upvoted,. But I think they'd be very bitter.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Prophetic

          Eating a Conservative is likely to give you Constipation.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Prophetic

          "Upvoted,. But I think they'd be very bitter."

          Not with enough brown sauce.

  6. Spazturtle Silver badge

    The public won't tolerate daily blackouts after sunset, so we will likely have to do the same thing as California, grant a liabilities waiver to the old nuclear power plants and allow them to ignore safety regulations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Too late, they have shut them down and restarting would be VERY hard.

      Plus our fleet of AGRs is in much better state than the reactors in California.

    2. Franco

      We already did, many of the nuclear plants like Hunterston went past their original expected EoL (although shut down now) and the primary safety concern which was cracking in the graphite bricks in the reactors was reclassifed several times in terms of the "safe" amount.

  7. codejunky Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Surely not

    How can the UK have energy problems. It cant be possible. We spent so much on monuments to sky gods and was promised all this plentiful free energy. Surely our energy bills are falling and we have an abundance of energy?

  8. AndrueC Silver badge
    Facepalm

    There was a report published in the 90s - The Busby Report I think - that said we weren't planning and building enough generating capacity. I seem to remember various people and organisation poo-pooing it. Oh well.

    1. sitta_europea Silver badge

      "There was a report published in the 90s - The Busby Report I think - that said we weren't planning and building enough generating capacity."

      Engineers in the nuclear power programme were saying the same thing in the 1970s. I was one of them. I joined the UKAEA hoping to build nuclear reactors for peaceful use - primarily power generation. More or less the the first thing our government did after I qualified was make it very plain that peaceful uses didn't float boats in Downing Street, so we were to build SGHWRs. Guess what SGHWRs are good at making?

      Then people who planned no farther ahead than the next election cancelled even that programme, incidentally leaving me with no obvious career path, so I left.

      "I seem to remember various people ... poo-pooing it. ..."

      Yup, same thing happened in the 1970s.

      Walter Marshall once said to me "You know I meet a lot of politicians in my job, an awful lot..."

      He was quick to clarify with a smile that he didn't really mean that the politicials were awful, but somehow word got out. It wasn't me.

      As far as I'm concerned what followed was the constructive dismissal of one of the brightest lights in power generation, and a truly staggering blow to British industry which continues to be felt to this day.

      1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

        Father-in-law worked there too. Fission and other nuclear-related stuff in the '60s, then saw which way the wind was blowing and moved to Culham when it opened to work on fusion but that soon started having the same problems with lack of political interest and under-funding. So many really talented people were pretty much forced to work elsewhere over the years, many/most of them moved out of the industry altogether. What had started as a terribly optimistic and exciting area of industry and research degenerated into a neglected and rather depressing thing. Very sad to see so much expertise and so many opportunities just being squandered, and that's before considering where it's got us. :|

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Back in the 60s my father was being flown to far flung corners of the world to help countries build nuclear reactors, but that was in the days when we wanted to have an export industry doing high tech stuff.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      we weren't planning and building enough generating capacity

      Surely not. Those nice chappies from the National Grid keep telling us that we should all drive electric vehicles, and the grid will have no problems supplying the power to charge them. If that's true, how can we possibly be running short of power to meet existing demand?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Same here in North.

        We are expected to have 1-2 hour long brown outs in next winter because lack of electricity but at the same time we are expected to buy electric cars en masse. While zero new power plants are built and old ones are standing unused because they use coal.

        Shut down power stations, raise electricity price 200% claiming "shortage" and make *huge profit*.

        Only an idiot buys an electric car when there's not enough electricity even for lights. And it costs 55 cents/kWh. Even more expensive than gas.

  9. Velv
    Pirate

    "Nuclear will be so cheap we won't need to meter it"

    And yet we have nearly a £10,000,000,000 deficit in the money required to maintain and decommission the nuclear we already own. We might not be paying directly today, but our children and grandchildren are going to be footing our bill for decades to come.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      "our children and grandchildren are going to be footing our bill for decades to come"

      They will be doing that for our past use of fossil fuel as well, probably with far greater consequences to their lives in terms of habitat and extreme weather.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      That was always hype. But also partly because we artificially increased the costs of nuclear power and ignored all the environmental costs of coal and gas - making them look much cheaper in comparison. And not just the theoritcal cost of climate change, burning coal causes massive amounts of deaths every year, just from soot causing breathing difficulties. Not to mention the diplomatic / military costs of being able to get oil from the Middle East.

      Then there's all the extra costs of regulation. Mention nuclear and suddenly you're expecting a ten year planning enquiry - followed by ten years of often frivolous lawsuits, just to delay things, increase cost and make nuclear politically unattractive.

      Or that nuclear plants have to expensively dispose of "low level" nuclear waste that basically is totally safe to just bury in a rubbish dump. It's the same level of radiactiviy as bananas, or the ash extracted from coal fired plants that's allowed to be dumped in the open air (or the smoke they emit).

      Until we have some renewable energy alternative that's good for generating base load - the options are coal, oil or gas. Of which gas is by far the best - but it still causes climate change and still kills more people per unit of electricity generated (in just accidents and immediate effects of pollution) than nuclear. Same link I posted up-thread.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        "Until we have some renewable energy alternative that's good for generating base load - the options are coal, oil or gas"

        Latest-generation geothermal is showing some promise in this regard, with advanced drilling techniques allowing deep drilling and rock fracturing to create reservoirs where wanted rather than just relying on natural ones. Hopefully it is actually 5-10 years down the line (ie 2027-2032) rather than 'fusion/flying car' N years down the line where target year = current year +N

        1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

          upvoted - but deep drilling and fracturing will, obviously, generate earth tremors. Or as the media will (probably) portray them "potentially devastating earthquakes!!!!" (yes, with that many exclamation marks).

          The deliberate misrepresentation of the earth tremors from fracking have now set legal and media precedent regarding the precautionary principle that you can't do anything unless you can prove something bad will never happen.

          So yes - geothermal - good prospects, should be doable technically. It just might not be the technical challenges that block it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Earth tremors

            There was a study in the BMJ about the health effects of the tremors, which basically said they were slightly detrimental to health.

            These fracking tremors were in the daytime and only magnitude 2, whereas the listed roadside houses in my tiny village get magnitude 3 and 4 shaking through the day and night when the huge Articulated lorries pass by on the roads rough from constant repair.

            My MP (who voted for fracking) said it was interesting, but is too busy with a new ministerial role.

            District, now Unitary, council for 20 years have said they will not place weight limits to protect our village (as one of the main daytime perpetrators, a grain merchant, is in the same lodge as the planners - oops! didn't say that!). The Unitary cannot come up with any reasons that stand up to even superficial scrutiny when compared with their own policies and data. [As a tiny village we cannot afford a judicial review which would cost at least 5 times our annual precept, just to get started!]

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Peter2 Silver badge

      "Nuclear will be so cheap we won't need to meter it"

      His predictions were:-

      “Our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter…Transmutation of the elements, unlimited power, ability to investigate the working of living cells by tracer atoms, the secret of photosynthesis about to be uncovered, these and a host of other results, all in about fifteen short years. It is not too much to expect that our children will know of great periodic famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and under the and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a life span far longer than ours, as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age.”

      Which has mostly been proven right, and the thing about "electrical energy" is mostly driven at the moment by the fact we use "cheap" gas. Which is only cheap if you ignore the geopolitical and military costs of propping up the OPEC nations and buying gas from Russia. It also ignores that just Britain is spending up to £140 billion keeping the prices only absurdly high as opposed to "economically catastrophic" this year.

      With the cost of the new nuclear reactor design being ~£20 billion a pop if you exclude the pandemic related charges as being unlikely to reoccour then that £140 billion quid would have built 7 of them which would be >22.4GW worth of output, excluding the 6.4GW from the two already under construction would amount to just shy of 29 GW worth of output, with Britain's total usage being 35GW. In short, when completed Britain's electricity supply would be decarbonised for at least the next 60 years and because supply costs would be known, you could simply decide to provide unmeted power connections in the same way that we do with water.

      And if you built that many plants again then gas cooking and heating could be killed off for electrical alternatives that already exist, and building that many yet again afterwards and we'd be producing enough juice to make electric vehicles viable on a large scale.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        "Britain is spending up to £140 billion keeping the prices only absurdly high ...... then that £140 billion quid would have built 7 of them..."

        Good analysis and I generally agree, however keeping in mind that it isn't just a cost factor. There are supply constraints in building reactor parts, construction materials, and particularly highly skilled engineers and construction workers, and that limits how many reactors can be built in a given time, for all the goodwill and money in the world

    4. Filippo Silver badge

      A good part of the problem is that when we talk the costs of nuclear, we are very keenly accounting anything and everything, and then some. Which is good and proper.

      However, when we talk the costs of fossils, we are completely ignoring all externalities. Waste gases are dumped into the atmosphere, millions of people get cancer from particulates and stuff, the entire global climate gets screwed up, and none of this has ever been factored into the costs of fossil power.

      This is... bad, really bad. It's as if we had set up a whole ecosystem of nuclear power, and then just dumped radioactive waste into people's backyards, handled decommissioning by giving the building a paint job and converting it into a public pool, and handled major accidents by asking the janitor to give it a really good sweep next wednesday. I bet nuclear power would become really cheap then, maybe even "too cheap to meter". But we don't want that, it would be insane.

      But we somehow ended up having exactly that situation for fossils.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " we have nearly a £10,000,000,000 deficit in the money required"

      The point is that that number is pure BS. We don't and that amount is *not* required.

      it's an imaginary number someone pulled out of their collective arses and in reality there's no deficit.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only the Meta pillock had been ignored...

    https://twitter.com/GaiaFawkes/status/1556561318865510400

  11. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Holmes

    As long as the wind blows... and blows

    we should be ok.

    This site is a great source of data

    https://grid.iamkate.com/

    The strike rate goes up and down like a yo-yo. At 16:00 yesterday, it was £160/MWh. At 07:00 today, it was under £30.00/MWh. Today, it is pretty windy and fairly sunny. The wind is contributing 46.5% of the current demand. Solar adds another 8%.

    I think that we need some blackouts in order to make the population at large understand that they can't take the supply of leccy for granted. Perhaps then there will be less NIMBYism when it comes to building the new infrastructure that will be needed to carry the power from more offshore wind to the consumers.

    {Don't be silly.... of course it won't. If anything, it will be worse than ever}

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

      Interesting to see it that high, last time I looked it was gas that was over 50%

    2. 9Rune5

      Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

      Recently I did a back of the envelope calculation based on numbers from one of the windparks in Norway.

      Given the average I found there, it would require 720+ wind turbines to produce the same amount of energy as a single 1GW nuclear reactor (annually).

      And it still, as you observe, leaves the nasty little problem of what to do on those calm days where there is no wind.(or wind speeds exceeding 24 m/s as that apparently triggers a shut down according to google)

      In the northern part of Norway, reindeer herders are complaining because the turbine blades will sometimes let loose blocks of ice. "An event that almost never happens" was the message before the wind turbines were put up. According to the person interviewed, one day he received no less than 200 alerts on his mobile phone, making him hesitate to go up and check on his herd.

      On the positive side, we're finally making great strides in controlling our bat and bird populations. [/sarc]

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

      "I think that we need some blackouts in order to make the population at large understand that they can't take the supply of leccy for granted. Perhaps then there will be less NIMBYism when it comes to building the new infrastructure that will be needed to carry the power from more offshore wind to the consumers."

      They say that the next earthquake arrives just after the last one is forgotten, so yes, I absolutely agree. As a child of the 70's I remember those cold nights by candlelight, with no power. And all we had was a TV and lights that needed power. I think folks have forgotten how significant 'leccy is to all aspects of life these days, and a wake up call is needed and some poignant questions have to be asked.

      As to lack of energy policy and letting markets decide for the the last 30 years, I agree with pretty much every post on here.

      Back in the mid 90's I worked for a large telco organisation in a specialist team. A new chap joined us, he had spent the 10 years since graduation working in the nuclear industry. During the "getting to know each other" chats round the canteen table, etc, he was quite blunt on why he left nuclear and moved to the (then) rapidly expanding telco. "most of the work in nuclear planning is how to de-commission and shutdown. No-one is planning new projects. It's hard to see a future career when you are planning your own demise" "unless there is a major change in strategic thinking from government downwards, in 25 years our world-class power grid will be f*cked, once we close all the coal, run out of gas and de-commission the nukes without starting now (ie. 1995ish) to build replacements"

      Guess what situation we are in, 25 year after he said that?

    4. Franco

      Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

      There does need to be related infrastructure for storage when the wind doesn't blow though, whether that's battery technology or pumped storage hydro or something else.

      There was some joined up thinking back in the 50s and 60s. When Hunterston A was constructed, so too was Cruachan Power Station, a pumped storage station which used the overnight off-peak energy from Hunterston to fill the reservoir, which was ready to meet peak demands the next day.

      Planning permission is in place to convert Sloy Power Station (on the shores of Loch Lomond) to pumped storage, it's never been carried out yet however due to an invasive species of non-native fish in Loch Lomond and the risk of contaminating Loch Sloy, the reservoir above, with the same species.

      1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

        Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

        Unfortunately, energy storage on the scale needed to deal with some of the "non windy" periods we have already experienced (i.e. real, not hypothetical so can be ignored) is very difficult and expensive (see other posts higher up). We've done pumped-storage for more or less all the suitable sites - and doing any more would be prohibitively expensive by the time you've dealt with all the public enquiries etc. Somewhere like Windermere would make a good lake for PS - it's a huge area so massive amounts of storage for minimal change in level - but you try suggesting your dam up a valley to make an upper pool, and make Windermere itself "tidal" and I think you'd have a lot of wealthy people speaking out against it.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

          I think you'd have a lot of wealthy people speaking out against it.

          Not just the wealthy. There is an environmental cost to any dam and the impact on wildlife of making Windemere 'tidal' would be worthy of serious discussion.

          1. Franco

            Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

            I suspect we're going to get a lot more small-scale district and/or run of the river type hydro schemes, it's worked for small isolated communities like Knoydart and small hydro plants like Stonebyres and Bonnington on the River Clyde are still going 100 years after construction, plus were designed with environmental consideration in mind.

            People don't want huge power stations next to them, and transmitting power long distance is expensive and inefficient, that's what finally killed off Longannet although as a huge coal-fired station its days were numbered anyway.

            1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

              Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

              Yes, but the key bit there is "small". For the UK as a whole, a few smalls schemes just won't cut it. Look at the figures for Dinorwig - 1.73GW max, for just over 5 hours - and then it's empty. So scale that up by at least a power of 10 for capacity, and then at least a factor of 25 (5 days) for additional time - so you're looking at (absolute minimum, and then it still won't cover things all the time) another 250 Dinorwig sized schemes. It could be more smaller schemes, or fewer larger schemes, but you get the idea.

              Realistically, I doubt you could find that many sites in the UK - regardless of whether they were acceptable to the various people who'd object.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

                "Realistically, I doubt you could find that many sites in the UK"

                Realistically, I doubt you could find that many sites in the US, and we're a few square miles larger, with real mountains.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

        "There does need to be related infrastructure for storage when the wind doesn't blow though, whether that's battery technology or pumped storage hydro or something else."

        Wish for fusion power while you're at it, as it doesn't exist either. And won't exist, for a long time.

        There's literally zero grid scale energy storages existing. The largest has 6 hour capacity which is a fraction of what is needed if you run on wind power.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As long as the wind blows... and blows

      "new infrastructure that will be needed to carry the power from more offshore wind to the consumers."

      Achh, another 'i've no clue'-person.

      The point is that you can't. Even with 400kV lines, moving any significant amount of electricity to long distances generate huge amount of losses. A real life example, from here in North: ~30% losses for 600 miles. It's economically feasible only because it's hydro power which is literally free *and* runs 24/7/365, for decades. All the major plants were built in 1960s and they still run, 60 years later.

      Add another 600 miles and only 30% or so goes through. That's unbearable even if the energy itself is free at the source, as it won't even pay the cost of the transfer line.

  12. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Yet another OBVIOUS problem that all our incompetent governments just "missed".

    My Dad worked for Westinghouse Nuclear Europe from the early 70s until the late 90s. He got laid off due to successive governments of both hues, and on both sides of the Atlantic, being unwilling to invest in new nuclear power stations. Gas was cheap and governments are congenitally incapable of seeing beyond the next election, so long term planning was ignored or else setup and then cancelled until now it's too late. I also have every intention of laughing in the face of all the hippies, greens, and nimby's who complain about the power cuts we are pretty much guaranteed to have over the next few years. They believed the pushers of the nuclear "boogeyman" stories and ignored the experts (remind anyone of anything?) and now they get to suck it up.

    Personally I'd rather live near a big Nuke than anywhere near a coal/gas/oil/wood-chip/waste burning plant, and definitely rather than near a wind farm.

  13. Sin2x

    https://www.cnbc.com/2022/07/01/russian-and-chinese-designs-in-87percent-of-new-nuclear-reactors-iea-chief.html

  14. crayon

    "Whut? No-one except Iran, NK, etc wants more plutonium. The existing nuclear powers have a glut."

    So why not ship it over to them. In the case of Iran it kills two birds with one stone - your nuclear waste is taken care of, and Iran doesn't need to run those centrifuges that the US and Israel seems to be so upset about.

    "If they decide that they are going to build something then they just do it, and nobody protests because they'd be beaten unconscious and then sent off to court, where they'd either get sent for forcible re-education at best."

    Unlike the British road to development, they broke the fingers of Indian weavers so their high quality products would not compete with lower quality products from Britain's newly industrialised textile mills. Or the USA who stole the land from the Native Americans and worked the land with slaves from Africa.

    "I suppose it might look superficially impressive at how much they've built, right up until you look at how it's been done and the build quality of what's gone up and how quickly it's likely to come back down again."

    Not sure what your point is in linking video, except to prove that China is not only competent in constructing buildings but they are also pretty good at demolishing them as well.

    "Central command and control is great at doing things and maximising output, but really, really awful when you realise that 70% of the output is faulty and would fail a QC process. (hence why it's there isn't one because it would embarrass somebody) and nobody can protest anything at any point so there is no self correction process in the system."

    So with all the new construction that have been going on on China for the past 30-40 and at 70% faulty rate where are all the stories of buildings in China tumbling down? There should be thousands falling down each and every day. Do you even believe in your own bullshit? At one point Shanghai was reported to have had more cranes in operation than the rest of the world put together - not sure how true that was. I know for a fact that in some places even constructing a low rise residential building requires local government inspectors to sign off on each particular stage of construction. If in future that building was found to have been sub-standard and or in breach of building regulations then the official(s) who signed off on the relevant work will be held responsible.

  15. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    No nukes! No nukes!

    OK, only fossil fuels will carry the load.

    No carbon! No carbon!

    OK, no nukes and no carbon. No more central heating, no more telly, no more internet, no more refrigerators, no more cookstoves, and no more having light after the sun goes down.

    Solar and wind simply will not cut the power mustard, unless there's a quantum leap in the tech.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No nukes! No nukes!

      "Solar and wind simply will not cut the power mustard, unless there's a quantum leap in the tech."

      Nonono! The idea is that we (but not them) cut the energy usage to the level solar and wind can support.

      You may not burn wood either (because of particles and "CO2") either. Solar here in North in winter doesn't exist and when it's really cold, there's literally zero wind too.

      So there're no allowed way to heat the houses or cook food. Literally. To me (an engineer), these people are outright insane.All of them.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: No nukes! No nukes!

      "Solar and wind simply will not cut the power mustard"

      On a large scale, I have to agree. I could be completely self-sufficient with just solar where I am, but I'd have to give up having local shops that couldn't make that work and employers in the area that also couldn't survive on nothing but what sun they could harvest from their rooftops. Petrol would be a giant problem as refineries are massive users of electricity as well as producers of Ammonia.

  16. ChrisB 2

    Amusing and informative - podcast with a comedian and a _real_ nuclear physicist

    NSFW at all.

    If you don't like the humour skip to c31 minutes int where the scientist (https://www.kevinhickerson.com) answers the questions rather than the comedian Jim Jefferies.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LSHLkzoYXE

  17. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    I blame

    the 'green' movement (and the western marxists who took it over in the 1990's after their beloved communist bloc fell over and died unexpectedly)

    we knew the lifespan of every power station back then, plus the various tricks to extend the lifespan and knew by 2020 , that our AGR stations would be life expired.

    And the politicians did nothing, mostly because those 'green' anti-globalists as they've become would protest everything and the ones with money would tie every attempt to build nuclear in legal knots that would take 10 years to untangle......... and besides..... dirty old coal was dead (killed by thatcher and her tories followers I think as an act of revenge for the 70's power cuts that saw the tories kicked out of power) and clean cheap non polluting gas that was easy to build was in (well clean in the fact theres no huge towers emitting steam anyway)

    And so the 2000's came and went....... labour came and went and did nothing

    2010's came along and the tories did nothing too.... and nuclear was expensive (even if some in the green movement said "hey! no CO2 with nuclear" (shortly before they were lynched)

    And now its the 2020s , our AGR stations are knackered... and people are now saying "WTF is gonna keep the lights on?"

    But wind !

    well its windy today ... just dont look at friday's forecast...

    Solar.... gets dark about 5pm

    Oh well never mind, guess candle makers are gonna make a killing soon.

    And the biggest green joke of all is that Drax power station was modified to burn wood chips because chopping down forests, grinding them up and then burning them was 'green' compared to coal...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Drax..burns wood chips because,,grinding them up..burning them..'green' compared to coal...

      But only if the wood chips are made somewhere else.

      DRAX is an accounting trick that HMG used to show how "Green" the UK was.

      But frankly no major successful reactor design is very impressive. :-( Only AGR approached SoA coal burners in thermal efficiency, and it might have done so on natural uranium as well if the CEGB and gone Zircaloy instead of some non-standard steel grade when Beryllium proved to bubble up like popcorn at the design operating temperature and neutron fluence levels (they'd cracked the brittleness problem, which was poor control of tramp elements in the melt).

      Which is a pity as Uranium Dioxide melts at >2800c, Zirconium (and it's alloys) at >1800c and Graphite (in a vacuum or reducing atmosphere, like CO2) is good to 3000c, even the SA508 low alloy steel that PWR pressure vessels are made out of is good to 350c (according to the US "Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor" project).

      So you could make a more efficient reactor with existing materials if you ditched water as the moderator/coolant. Keep in mind the "safety" case for the design, developed for submarines.

      1)Submarine gets damaged (by a Russian torpedo for example, this being the Cold War) 2)Reactor dumps all "water" that flash boils (at anything less than 1Km below the ocean surface roughly)into the surrounding ocean and instantly shuts the reactor off 3) Submarine, tonnes lighter automatically rises to the surface without human intervention.

      Genius plan.

      On dry land...

      This would dump a huge cloud of acidic (due to the Boron for corrosion and fine tuning the reactivity) and radioactive due to the significant levels of tritium steam into the atmosphere, so necessiating a massive containment building (about 4 atmospheres above ambient, otherwise it would be even bigger).

      Fortuately post 9/11/01 it now has to handle a 747 crashing on top of it (it used to be the worst-case case was an off-course fighter plane) so the concrete thickness doesn't have to go up as much as you'd think (because it's already pretty damm thick).

      The PWR. Great business for concrete companies.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I blame

      " western marxists who"

      Greens have never been Marxists. Some of them joined, but left soon when they noticed that greens are outright eco-fascists and therefore at extreme right in political charts. Nazis hated Jews, Greens hate oil, coal and nuclear. That's the difference.

      Think about it a while: Greens want to ban *everything* except solar and wind, fully knowing there isn't even a fraction of need of either existing. They don't care because *they* already have solar powered houses and are, in general, upper class people.

      How many actual people can afford a new electric car, anyway? Not poor people, you can bet on that. And yet every 'green' drives one.

  18. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Holmes

    EDF said it would have no cost impact on British consumers or taxpayers.

    Don't have the figures to hand, but IIRC, the cost per MW was set artificially high at the outset, so that statement would be true. Just that the cost to the consumers is already priced in

    1. adam 40 Silver badge

      £89.50/MWh

      So actually, compared with the spot price £150... £550/MWh, it's looking quite the bargain!

      Similar prices for Sizewell C, which I hope the Treasury butts out of pronto, and allows to go ahead.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pumped hydro is NOT "green"

    ... methane produced by reservoirs, ecological impacts, vast amounts of concrete* used, etc...

    *Yes, I'm aware that carbon-neutral concrete has been developed - but it's still not in widespread use as far as I'm aware.

    One of the best eco-friendly power generation schemes I've heard of is in India, where they decided to put solar panels over canals. This slowed evaporation from the canals, kept the solar panels cooler (and thus improved their efficiency) slowed the growth of algae in the canals, and didn't take up any agricultural land.

    Thorium hot salt reactors FTW IMO, regarding base load capacity, as amongst their advantage is that they fail-safe due to the laws of physics rather than complicated mechanisms and procedures.

    Oh, and I would much rather my electrickery supply was controlled by the UK government, whose responsibility is to UK voters (ie consumers), rather than in the hands of commercial entities, whose responsibility is to shareholders, not consumers. Cynical as I am about ANY government, irrespective of their political leanings, getting a decent grip on how technology and the laws of physics actually work, the privatisation of power supplies was, IMO, an obvious and unmitigated blunder. Would everything have been entirely wonderful had things not been privatised and we'd had more Labour and less Tory governance? I very much doubt it - but at least the politicians would be giving serious thought to avoiding fsck-ups in providing a secure supply of electricity to the nation rather than having the capability of just doing much hand-wringing, finger-pointing and blaming it on the private companies.

    When it comes to private or public control of an industry, it isn't a one-size-fits-all situation; I neither need nor want public ownership of all lemon-drizzle-cake manufacturing in the UK, because it's an utterly foolish idea to have that in public ownership. Similarly, I do not want electricity supply in private hands due to exactly the kinds of situation we're in today, where a private company feels it can slurp billions out of UK taxpayers without much, if any, accountability or oversight.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Pumped hydro is NOT "green"

      I agree with most of what you've written except for this bit:

      ..the UK government, whose responsibility is to UK voters (ie consumers)...

      Have you seen much responsibility of late? And as a 56 year old I struggle (and fail) to put any great faith in anything governments do. I've been let down too many times.

      where a private company feels it can slurp billions out of UK taxpayers without much, if any, accountability or oversight.

      The government has slurped a great deal of money out of us already and looks set to take even more over the next decade. Where is this accountability you speak of?

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      1 question for developers of "Thorium hot salt reactors "

      Actually any molten salt reactor really.

      "How's your heat exchanger development programme going?"

      Because what people who cite the MSRE either don't know (or don't care to remember) was that there was no heat exchanger to demonstrate water boiling steam generation. IIRC it was pipes with air blown over them.

      These salts are very hot (in both senses of the word), highly toxic (especially if they are using Beryllium), highly enriched (up to the 20% top end of "low" enriched uranium) and of course chemically aggressive.

      Which gets a whole lot worsse if the hit water...

      So, molten salt reactor developers, tell me how your HX development programmes are going...

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