Leigh Creek Coal Train - The End Is Nigh

 
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
Clearly not the Federal ALP nor any of the other State ALP groups who all have a say in releasing ALP policy..
Sojourner
http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/

Sponsored advertisement

  Alco_Haulic Chief Commissioner

Location: Eating out...
There is absolutely no chance of SA building a commercial-scale nuclear power station because the market is simply too small. Nearly all nuclear power stations in Japan and China are between 2000 and 8000 MW, because this level of scale is required to spread the management and compliance overheads. The SA market ranges from 1000 MW at times of low demand to 2000 MW at peak, and interconnection capacity to Victoria is only 880 MW (or it will be after the Heywood inter-connector is upgraded), so even if the inter-connector were operating at full capacity there would only just be the required scale.  Additional inter-connector upgrades would cost big money.

Furthermore, there is about a 10-year period between the start of construction and when the nuclear power station opens (in China, probably longer here).  With the current uptake of solar, declining cost of solar panels, unexpectedly low prices for gas, and declining electricity demand, it would be a brave investor to embark on a nuclear investment.
mm42
It would also be an investment for the future. Not one that the coalition seems to care about, but one that must be faced sooner rather than later. Renewable energy sources have limited all time usefulness. Nuclear on the other hand has all the benefits of fossil fuel, and very limited drawbacks (presuming a gen 4 or better reactor). And the gen 5 reactors under early development stages are going to be even cleaner. The problem is that in the long term there will be a need for energy at times that renewables won't be able to provide. Nuclear is the only viable alternative, since natural gas is just as bad as coal and oil.

And before anyone starts up with a Fukushima or Chernobyl rant, pull your head in, and do some research. Both of those incidents were to first generation reactors, and in the Chernobyl case, was caused by a systemic failure in the human systems, NOT the reactor itself.
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

It would also be an investment for the future. Not one that the coalition seems to care about, but one that must be faced sooner rather than later. Renewable energy sources have limited all time usefulness. Nuclear on the other hand has all the benefits of fossil fuel, and very limited drawbacks (presuming a gen 4 or better reactor). And the gen 5 reactors under early development stages are going to be even cleaner. The problem is that in the long term there will be a need for energy at times that renewables won't be able to provide. Nuclear is the only viable alternative, since natural gas is just as bad as coal and oil.

And before anyone starts up with a Fukushima or Chernobyl rant, pull your head in, and do some research. Both of those incidents were to first generation reactors, and in the Chernobyl case, was caused by a systemic failure in the human systems, NOT the reactor itself.
Alco_Haulic
After viewing the Mad Abbott's latest ill informed rant on wind farms and his admission he wished he had not gone down the RET path, I have just given up on this mob of dullards, who are obviously captured by the coal industry and will not do anything to encourage innovative energy sources.

However, the imminent closure of Leigh Creek indicates the electrical industry may take their own steps to close old polluting inefficient power stations if the financials do not stack up. Oh we had a carbon tax that relied on market forces but the party that is supposed to support the market mechanism abolished it. Makes a lot of sense, not
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
After viewing the Mad Abbott's latest ill informed rant on wind farms and his admission he wished he had not gone down the RET path, I have just given up on this mob of dullards, who are obviously captured by the coal industry and will not do anything to encourage innovative energy sources.

However, the imminent closure of Leigh Creek indicates the electrical industry may take their own steps to close old polluting inefficient power stations if the financials do not stack up. Oh we had a carbon tax that relied on market forces but the party that is supposed to support the market mechanism abolished it. Makes a lot of sense, not
nswtrains
Abbott is only down on wind farms because his gov can't work out a formula to TAX the wind, even with his connections to God via the pope!
  JoppaJunction Chief Train Controller

Location: Banned
8229 and DL39 currently at Leigh Creek with the 82 Class leading.
  SAR523 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Chicago, IL
It would also be an investment for the future. Not one that the coalition seems to care about, but one that must be faced sooner rather than later. Renewable energy sources have limited all time usefulness. Nuclear on the other hand has all the benefits of fossil fuel, and very limited drawbacks (presuming a gen 4 or better reactor). And the gen 5 reactors under early development stages are going to be even cleaner. The problem is that in the long term there will be a need for energy at times that renewables won't be able to provide. Nuclear is the only viable alternative, since natural gas is just as bad as coal and oil.

And before anyone starts up with a Fukushima or Chernobyl rant, pull your head in, and do some research. Both of those incidents were to first generation reactors, and in the Chernobyl case, was caused by a systemic failure in the human systems, NOT the reactor itself.
Alco_Haulic
There appears to be a little bit of confusion here regarding the viability and even the existence of certain types of Nuclear reactors.

As was noted above South Australia, with its tiny 2000MW peak loading, is not a particularly good fit for nuclear power.  Even if a very small reactor was built, it's still incredibly expensive.  The considerations must include where that money is going to come from (essentially guaranteed that it won't be the private sector) and what the opportunity cost of building the reactor is.

Even the Union of Concerned Scientists (who are very pro carbon emission reduction) does not generally support building nuclear reactors.  

There are other things that could be done with that public money which can include efficiency measures and even carbon capture using fuels that are considerably cheaper today


It's also worth noting a couple of points

1. The Fukishima reactor was a second (not first) generation power station and represents the technology that is still being used in the vast majority of reactors currently under construction today.  It's a bold gamble to both decide to pay for a reactor and then assume that it's completely safe, as it's almost certain that no-one will want to pay for anything but a clear and immediate risk after sinking huge amounts of money into it.

And there is no need to rant about Fukishima; its a very sober observation that, even in incredibly safety conscious Japan, it was deemed too expensive to address the eventualities that occured.  It's not like the vulnerabilities were unknown.

2. The available Gen 3+ reactor designs aren't panaceas.  They just allow for days rather than hours to restore power, and even those are based on certain assumptions.  Claims that they would not fail in a Fukishima situation are very dubious and based on modelling that shows that the gravity feed cooling system is still there after a large earthquake.

This isn't to say that there aren't lessons to be learned and improvements to be made (after all, we don't stop driving cars when they crash) but there are no reactors that are passively safe today.  Now, perhaps a full melt down in rural South Australia won't be the end of the world (assuming you don't live there and aren't downwind), but it's not a possibility that should be dismissed out of hand.


3.  I'm assuming the above are typos, but there are no Fourth generations reactors anywhere in the world, and Fifth gen refers to designs that are still in the concept stage (not even patented).  The first 4th gen BN-1200 planned for Beloyarsk is expected to be started in 2020.


4. There is no argument that, once built and operating, nuclear power has a lower carbon footprint than coal or gas.  However this ignores the enormous upfront capital costs.  Unless the government decides to just pay for it, no-one will buy the nuclear power if they're trying to payoff off the capital costs.  And the operating costs are far from clear (with about 33% of the worlds supply or Uranium in very unstable places), so unless we nationalize our reserves, Australia won't be immune to price fluctuations.  It's worth noting that even in heavily nuclearized France, the cost of energy is increasing much faster than in neighboring countries.


5. The end of fossil fuels is by no means imminent, although it is expected to happen.  So the question comes down to what price do you put on carbon emissions, and does that make sense to impose those unilaterally within Australia (either through direct taxation or direct subsidies)?  This will have a very real impact on Australian productivity and wealth.  No-one but China (which is choking on pollution) is spending much time building new reactors.  Why is that?



Personally I support a nuclear dump in remote South Australia, and view nuclear power as part of the mix in the US, China and Europe, but we shouldn't pretend that nuclear is anywhere near a slam dunk, especially for a market the size of Australia.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
Even the Union of Concerned Scientists (who are very pro carbon emission reduction) does not generally support building nuclear reactors.
SAR523

You don't seem to understand what the Union of Concerned Scientists are - they are first and foremost an anti nuclear proliferation NGO. As they were founded during the Cold War, their agenda includes the complete denuclearisation, commercial and military, of the entire globe. Despite having the word 'Scientists' in their name, they are not an objective group in any sense and have never had anything that could be possibly described as a 'pro-nuclear' stance to back-track from.
For actual backflipping, look at the Sierra Club: it was pro-nuclear back when their focus was getting California to stop building dams. Quickly changed its stance in order to 'cash-in' on the much larger flow of anti-nuclear donations though.

There are other things that could be done with that public money which can include efficiency measures and even carbon capture using fuels that are considerably cheaper today
SAR523

Efficiency is cheap, sure - that's why people and companies have been doing it for yonks already! It doesn't get you all the way and you can bump into Jevons Paradox if you're not careful.

The Fukishima reactor was a second (not first) generation power station and represents the technology that is still being used in the vast majority of reactors currently under construction today.  It's a bold gamble to both decide to pay for a reactor and then assume that it's completely safe, as it's almost certain that no-one will want to pay for anything but a clear and immediate risk after sinking huge amounts of money into it.
SAR523
Fukushima Daiichi (the station affected the most by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami) had Gen II reactors. Nearby Fukushima Daini, which was far less affected by the tsunami, used Generation III reactors.

Gen III designs are Light Water Reactors that incorporate 'lessons learned' from Three Mile Island and many improvements learned during construction of Gen II reactors. Many reactors that have been built in the last 25 years or so are Gen III designs.

Gen III+ reactor designs have passive safety features built in that allows for a shut-down reactor core to be cooled without any on-site power. That was the problem that the Fukushima Daiichi reactors had - they shut-down fine, but because they needed water and onsite power to cool them down, they overheated. These are the newest reactor designs that are being built today (with some exceptions, which we'll get to in time)

And there is no need to rant about Fukushima; its a very sober observation that, even in incredibly safety conscious Japan, it was deemed too expensive to address the eventualities that occurred.  It's not like the vulnerabilities were unknown.
SAR523

You're right - except about the safety consciousness part. The human factors involved in the Fukushima disaster have a lot to do with the peculiarities of Japanese culture. There were people who worked at the power station who knew what could go wrong, but because of Japanese culture is highly deferential to seniority, concerns were ignored. The Japanese nuclear regulatory bureaucracy was filled with people who had come from industry and vice-versa, creating an environment where the TEPCO and other nuclear power companies in Japan were given much more leeway than usual.

One example of this was the order to inject seawater into the reactors to cool them down. This should've been done as soon as they could get to the reactors, because without backup power and clean cooling water those shutdown reactor cores suffered irrecoverable damage. However, several people in control at TEPCO decided against ordering it until it was 'too late'. And don't forget, the Japanese Prime Minister at the time (Naoto Kan) decided to personally interfere in the process as well.

The available Gen 3+ reactor designs aren't panaceas. They just allow for days rather than hours to restore power, and even those are based on certain assumptions. Claims that they would not fail in a Fukushima situation are very dubious and based on modelling that shows that the gravity feed cooling system is still there after a large earthquake.
SAR523
The modelling shows that because the 'nuclear island' where the reactor and cooling systems for Gen III+ reactors are built upon is specifically designed to be ridiculously earthquake resistant. Every reactor building at Fukushima survived the earthquake - the tsunami flooded a below-ground diesel generator bunker, which was the main problem.

If the modelling is good enough for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (the most stringent regulator in the world, surprisingly), then it's good enough for me - and good enough for a few other countries, too.

And BTW, 'Only' buying several days time to respond over several hours is actually a big difference - the primary response to Fukushima took a couple of days, but the meltdowns happened because they only had hours of backup battery power and limited supplies of clean water for cooling.


I'm assuming the above are typos, but there are no Fourth generations reactors anywhere in the world, and Fifth gen refers to designs that are still in the concept stage (not even patented). The first 4th gen BN-1200 planned for Beloyarsk is expected to be started in 2020.
SAR523

The BN-800 fast breeder reactor, predecessor to the BN-1200, is being commissioned as we speak in Beloyarsk. The BN-1200 is largely a scaled-up version of the BN-800.

Several other Gen IV reactor designs are based on existing reactors that have been built as research or demonstration reactors. Two examples are the HTR-10 Pebble Bed Modular Reactor in China and the Integral Fast Reactor design (also marketed as the GE-Hitachi PRISM) which is based on the EBR-II reactor built in the 1960s at the then Argonne West National Laboratory in Idaho.


There is no argument that, once built and operating, nuclear power has a lower carbon footprint than coal or gas. However this ignores the enormous upfront capital costs. Unless the government decides to just pay for it, no-one will buy the nuclear power if they're trying to pay off off the capital costs. And the operating costs are far from clear (with about 33% of the worlds supply or Uranium in very unstable places), so unless we nationalize our reserves, Australia won't be immune to price fluctuations. It's worth noting that even in heavily nuclearized France, the cost of energy is increasing much faster than in neighboring countries.
SAR523
Tell that to Georgia Power, who are building two Gen III+ AP1000 reactors as we speak at Plant Vogtle, using no Federal Government assistance. They had Federal loan guarantees available, but the Feds decided to put some really onerous conditions on them that didn't make it worthwhile.

As for electricity prices in France, here's what they look like compared to the rest of 'Western' Europe from https://www.energy.eu/


No-one but China (which is choking on pollution) is spending much time building new reactors.  Why is that?
SAR523
Incorrect - South Korea is building plenty of reactors, mostly abroad in the UAE (4 reactors coming online starting from 2020). The Russians also have a large international backlog of reactor orders, mostly because they offer very generous financing terms.

The Western world has political problems with nuclear power and the developing world is only just starting to ramp up nuclear power plant orders (India, South Africa and Vietnam are particular growth areas).
  SAR523 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Chicago, IL
You don't seem to understand what the Union of Concerned Scientists are - they are first and foremost an anti-proliferation NGO. As they were founded during the Cold War, their agenda includes the complete denuclearisation, commercial and military, of the entire globe. They are not an objective group in any sense and have never had anything that could be possibly described as a 'pro-nuclear' stance to back-track from.
For actual backflipping, look at the Sierra Club: it was pro-nuclear back when their focus was getting California to stop building dams. Quickly changed its stance in order to 'cash-in' on the much larger flow of anti-nuclear donations though.
LancedDendrite

This is true, but I'm yet to see anyone provide a compelling criticism of their math.  If you'd care to provide a link, or do so yourself, go right ahead.  Only the Nuclear power industry pretend that nuclear power is anything but incredibly expensive which is my main point.  In comparison, the Sierra club's positions have largely been characterized by a naked appeal to emotion rather than science or the economics so I'm more than happy to dismiss them.


Efficiency is cheap, sure - that's why people and companies have been doing it for yonks already! It doesn't get you all the way and you can bump into Jevons Paradox if you're not careful.

Fukushima Daiichi (the station affected the most by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami) had Gen II reactors. Nearby Fukushima Daini, which was far less affected by the tsunami, used Generation III reactors. Gen III designs are Light Water Reactors that incorporate 'lessons learned' from Three Mile Island and many improvements learned during construction of Gen II reactors.
LancedDendrite
You may note that I was observing to Alco_Haulic's claim that they were first generation reactors.


The current batch of reactors being built today are either Gen III or Gen III+; the latter have 'passive safety' features built in that allows for a shut-down reactor core to be cooled without any on-site power. That was the problem that the Fukushima Daiichi reactors had - they shutdown fine, but because they needed water and onsite power to cool them down, they overheated.
LancedDendrite

We are to some extent talking about different things, and again I was specifically addressing an assertion of Alco_Haulics that they were first gen.  Yes, the reactors that being built today include several design improvements, but they're still fundamentally light water reactors (although PWRs are considerably more popular than the BWRs at Fukishima) that require external passive safety systems; these safety systems are not integral to the design, i.e. they're not 4th gen (which was my point).  

Also - keep in mind that the new designs aren't exactly being held to stringent independent analysis.   Quite incredibly the NRC in the US does not require new reactors to be demonstrably safer than existing designs, and (as I understand) their own modelling shows that the designs are only safer in the event of an internal incident; in the case of external incidents (such as earthquakes) they don't appear to be.

So year they're safer, but current reactors are also extremely safe.  It's just that the cost when they fail is so high.



You're right - except about the safety consciousness part. The human factors involved in the Fukushima disaster have a lot to do with the peculiarities of Japanese culture. There were people who worked at the power station who knew what could go wrong, but because of Japanese culture is highly deferential to seniority, concerns were ignored. The Japanese nuclear regulatory bureaucracy was filled with people who had come from industry and vice-versa, creating an environment where the TEPCO and other nuclear power companies in Japan were given much more leeway than usual.

One example of this was the order to inject seawater into the reactors to cool them down. This should've been done as soon as they could get to the reactors, because without backup power and clean cooling water those shutdown reactor cores suffered irrecoverable damage. However, several people in control at TEPCO decided against ordering it until it was 'too late'. And don't forget, the Japanese Prime Minister at the time (Naoto Kan) decided to personally interfere in the process as well.
LancedDendrite

Yet Japan manages to maintain a safety record in essentially every endevour that is the envy of much of the rest of the world.  There are peculiarities to Japanese culture, however regulatory capture (the fundamental problem) is a reality everywhere.  It would be even more pronounced in Australia where we're talking about at most a handful of reactors.  See the persistence of negative gearing for an example.

However, this is ignoring my point which is that nuclear reactors are really, really expensive, and people are slow to fix problems in the ones that exist today.  I don't see why we should assume that will change if a flaw is found in Gen3 reactors.





The BN-800 fast breeder reactor, predecessor to the BN-1200, is being commissioned as we speak in Beloyarsk. The BN-1200 is largely a scaled-up version of the BN-800.

Several other Gen IV reactor designs are based on existing reactors that have been built as research or demonstration reactors. Two examples are the HTR-10 Pebble Bed Modular Reactor in China and the Integral Fast Reactor design (also marketed as the GE-Hitachi PRISM) which is based on the EBR-II reactor built in the 1960s at the then Argonne West National Laboratory in Idaho.
LancedDendrite

My error, the BN-800 is a gen IV reactor.  There is one demonstrator planned for PRISM and is the HTR-10 commercially deployed?  So, back to reality - is Australia likely to build any of these designs?




Tell that to Georgia Power, who are building two Gen III+ AP1000 reactors as we speak at Plant Vogtle, using no Federal Government assistance. They had Federal loan guarantees available, but the Feds decided to put some really onerous conditions on them that didn't make it worthwhile.
LancedDendrite

Are you sure that the credit subsidy fee wasn't waived, and the consortium including Vogtle is now the only recipient of the federal nuclear loan guarantee program (a European consortium cancelled plans to build another one)?


As for electricity prices in France, here's what they look like compared to the rest of 'Western' Europe from https://www.energy.eu/


Incorrect - South Korea is building plenty of reactors, mostly abroad in the UAE (4 reactors coming online starting from 2020). The Russians also have a large international backlog of reactor orders, mostly because they offer very generous financing terms.

The Western world has political problems with nuclear power and the developing world is only just starting to ramp up nuclear power plant orders (India, South Africa and Vietnam are particular growth areas).
LancedDendrite

I'm pretty sure I specifically said "even in heavily nuclearized France, the cost of energy is increasing much faster than in neighboring countries", not "energy costs more in France".  Today it is cheaper, but as I understand it from the new I see regularly in Germany, France's energy costs are increasing faster than its neighbor's.

The point I was attempting to make here is that, even once you've sunk this enormous capital expense into the reactor, you are far from guaranteed low operating costs.



I will also concede that I painted an overly broad brush claiming that only China was investing in Nuclear.  However (as I understand it) all of those countries that you've noted are taking the road of heavy public investment.  

To claim that the western world has political problems with nuclear power is to commit a similar sin.  The Germans and Italians are certainly taking anti-nuclear steps.  However Finland and France (and the US) are building new ones, and the UK is currently in a spitting match with Austria over their (the UK's) plans to *ahem* significantly subsidize Hinkley point.  And both congress and the presidency in the US have been pro-nuclear power since 2005 (when the aforementioned subsidy program was passed).  Yet not a lot are getting built, not because of political obstacles, but because they don't make economic sense even with massive loan guarantees (albeit with some hurdles, but that would appear to be good husbanding of taxpayer dollars).  They have never made money in the US, after decades of trying; safety concerns notwithstanding.  We are so far from 'electricity too cheap to meter' that it's not even funny.


Which is my fundamental point; nuclear power is actually really, really expensive. If you have problems accessing natural resources or have a strategic need to maintain a nuclear power industry, it might be worth it.  Neither case would appear to apply to Australia.  Again, what price on carbon emissions are you wanting to place to make it worthwhile to build a nuclear reactor?  Could a lot less of that money be spent on something else such as fuel & insulation efficiency, heck, even carbon capture to achieve the same goals?
  Alco_Haulic Chief Commissioner

Location: Eating out...
You may note that I was observing to Alco_Haulic's claim that they were first generation reactors.
SAR523


I apologise for that mistake, I was under the impression they were Gen I.


My error, the BN-800 is a gen IV reactor.  There is one demonstrator planned for PRISM and is the HTR-10 commercially deployed?  So, back to reality - is Australia likely to build any of these designs?
SAR523

It would be idiotic not to. While the expense would be greater than using a "proven" Gen III+, it would make longer term sense to use the most advanced design. I mentioned Gen V, as it is most likely that they will be in early production by the time Australia does decide to build a nuclear reactor.

While I agree that the upfront costs are prohibitive, and that the technology has it's drawbacks, it is ultimately the only KNOWN solution that is relatively carbon neutral that is available with an on/off switch.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
Also - keep in mind that the new designs aren't exactly being held to stringent independent analysis.   Quite incredibly the NRC in the US does not require new reactors to be demonstrably safer than existing designs, and (as I understand) their own modelling shows that the designs are only safer in the event of an internal incident; in the case of external incidents (such as earthquakes) they don't appear to be.

All operating nuclear reactors in the US are held to the same standards as any new reactor designs. For the NRC to demand even safer future reactor designs without requiring existing reactors to meet new standards would be... idiotic.

Yet Japan manages to maintain a safety record in essentially every endeavour that is the envy of much of the rest of the world.  There are peculiarities to Japanese culture, however regulatory capture (the fundamental problem) is a reality everywhere.  It would be even more pronounced in Australia where we're talking about at most a handful of reactors.  See the persistence of negative gearing for an example.

In Japan there is a quite a difference between what things look like on the surface (clean, orderly, disciplined) and what things are behind-the-scenes.
At the risk of making this all about Japan, look at a specific example: their homicide solution rate. The solution rate fundamentally depends on two things: how good police are at solving homicide cases, and how many homicide cases occur in a given period. The homicide solution rate in Japan is very high and the murder rate very low. There is evidence to show that police in Japan are much more likely to rule out homicide as a cause of death, whether by bureaucratic obfuscation or by disallowing investigative procedures like autopsies from being performed. But because it looks like on the outside that the police are efficient (high solution rate) and the society is very civilised moral (low homicide rate), investigation into the honesty of these statistics is discouraged. The same thing goes for corruption in many other Japanese Government bureaucracies, including the Japanese nuclear regulatory regime.

However, this is ignoring my point which is that nuclear reactors are really, really expensive, and people are slow to fix problems in the ones that exist today.  I don't see why we should assume that will change if a flaw is found in Gen3 reactors.
They do change things though - in the wake of Fukushima, the US NRC required mandatory installation of effective hydrogen-oxygen recombiners on reactor containment air filtration systems in order to prevent the sort of explosions that happened there. What happened at Fukushima in that particular event was that steam in the reactor core got so hot that it oxidised the fuel cladding, releasing hydrogen gas. When this gas reacts with air, it explodes as it forms water again. Recombiners get rid of the hydrogen gas by reacting it before it gets to volumes that could lead to an explosion.

The US NRC also mandated changes to emergency diesel generator locations to make sure that they don't get flooded before everything else at a nuclear power plant.

...is the HTR-10 commercially deployed?

The HTR-10 is an experimental reactor that went online in 2003. The commercial version of it, the HTR-PM, is currently being constructed in China as a dual-reactor plant.

So, back to reality - is Australia likely to build any of these designs?

I'd say yes - especially if a reactor design can be used to recycle spent nuclear fuel, like the PRISM.

Are you sure that the credit subsidy fee wasn't waived, and the consortium including Vogtle is now the only recipient of the federal nuclear loan guarantee program (a European consortium cancelled plans to build another one)?

I got confused - Plant Vogtle in Georgia got a loan guarantee, but its sister power station VC Summer in South Carolina that is also under construction didn't apply for a loan guarantee. They're nearly identical plants in adjacent states - easy to get confused!

I'm pretty sure I specifically said "even in heavily nuclearized France, the cost of energy is increasing much faster than in neighboring countries", not "energy costs more in France".  Today it is cheaper, but as I understand it from the new I see regularly in Germany, France's energy costs are increasing faster than its neighbor's.

If you have evidence that contradicts mine, please show me.


Which is my fundamental point; nuclear power is actually really, really expensive. If you have problems accessing natural resources or have a strategic need to maintain a nuclear power industry, it might be worth it.  Neither case would appear to apply to Australia.  Again, what price on carbon emissions are you wanting to place to make it worthwhile to build a nuclear reactor?  Could a lot less of that money be spent on something else such as fuel & insulation efficiency, heck, even carbon capture to achieve the same goals?

You're right in asserting that all of these arguments about cost must be considered in relation to other low carbon technologies - let them all compete! Lets look at some:
  • Solar thermal is expensive, but at least it is more reliable and scalable than any other renewables tech out there (short of hydro and biomass)
  • Solar PV is expensive (German solar power is 4x more expensive than Finnish new-build nuclear!) but the costs are falling - from a high base.
  • Wind is pretty competitive but is hard to rely on (even if you spread out wind farms by thousands of kilometres, their output positively correlates to a degree)
  • CCS could work in some cases, but its costs aren't fully known yet - kind of like advanced nuclear power (Gen IV).


You're also correct that the current nuclear power is not the best. That should be a reason to try building simpler, smaller, cheaper designs, not to stop looking into it. We didn't look at the cost of solar PV or wind turbines in the 1970s and say "it's way too expensive and all way too hard, lets give up on the whole idea". Governments poured billions into renewables R&D instead - just like they did with nuclear in the 1950s and 1960s. Nuclear R&D has largely stalled since the 1960s. That looks like an opportunity.

As for carbon prices - AU$23/tonne was a pretty good start. Make it a bit higher (say, AU$30-35/tonne) and you might see nuclear get really competitive with gas and coal. The real coup would be to make nuclear (and renewables, perhaps) cheaper than coal, without subsidies. It's possible, but will take a lot of investment between there and now.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Well if we set the cost of CO2 emissions at $35 a ton, we'd be many times the current European price (possibly 10 times, but I'm too lazy to look it up). So our remaining industries be at a huge disadvantage competing with Europe and the rest of the First World.

Trying to drag this theme back towards northern Sth Aust. in particular, the heavy industries at Whyalla, Port Pirie, etc wouldn't last very long.

But not to worry, the thousands of newly unemployed people could all get jobs at the greatly expanded CentreLink offices in the area. Rolling Eyes
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
So here's a question: if you were the South Australian government, what would you do to save Port Augusta? Or wouldn't you try to save it at all?
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
So here's a question: if you were the South Australian government, what would you do to save Port Augusta? Or wouldn't you try to save it at all?
LancedDendrite

Chuck in $150m towards the solar array. That's what Alinta say they are short of for the project.

Cheaper than propping up outdated, polluting technology.

But then I'm a non cashed up latte sipping leftie.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

So here's a question: if you were the South Australian government, what would you do to save Port Augusta? Or wouldn't you try to save it at all?
LancedDendrite
Decentralise a little by shifting a government department or two there.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
Decentralise a little by shifting a government department or two there.
"justapassenger"

The only department that makes sense to move would be parts of the Department of State Development (the mining bits, mainly). But you have to watch out - you get a lot of employee turnover when you move from a capital city to beyond the black stump. Here's a good article on that: http://www.themandarin.com.au/689-decentralisation-debate-public-servants-just-wont-move/?pgnc=1

And also, those bureaucratic jobs aren't exactly a replacement for the mostly blue-collar jobs that Northern, Playford B and Leigh Creek Coal Mine provide(d).
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
I have a friend in Germany, I asked them about the topics in this thread. They were pretty sure Germany had much more expensive power than much of Europe and that it was increasing in cost quite rapidly too. When I asked about France's electricity prices increasing more rapidly they said they'd heard nothing of this, but suspected it might be stated to prevent the local Germans from complaining too much.

Then I found this data Germany euros/kWh 2012 - 0.130, 2013 - 0.144, 2014 - 0.152
France 2012 - 0.079, 2013 - 0.085, 2014 - 0.091

% change
Germany 2013 - +10.7, 2014 - +5.55
France 2013 - +7.59, 2014 - +7.06

Taken over the 2012-2014 time span France's rapidly rising predominantly nuclear power rose 15.2%, Germany's 'cleaner, greener' power rose 16.9%

Seems my German friend might be on to something.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Last Monday evening Four Corners ran a story on Coal and how countries are turning away from Fossil Fuels and moving to renewable sources.  The Story was very interesting and placed a lot of scrutiny on the proposed Adani mine and how it would almost be impossible to get a return as coal prices are expected to remain low (export thermal coal) for years.  

The story stated according to the IEF Coal exports have peaked. India is not looking at buying any large volumes of coal from Australia.  The jobs touted for the project being 10,000 is a farce and more like 1500.

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2015/06/15/4253096.htm

China has cut back on buying coal from Australia.

Abbott out there promoting coal that no one on the planet is likely to want.
  jmt Deputy Commissioner

Last Monday evening Four Corners ran a story on Coal and how countries are turning away from Fossil Fuels and moving to renewable sources.  The Story was very interesting and placed a lot of scrutiny on the proposed Adani mine and how it would almost be impossible to get a return as coal prices are expected to remain low (export thermal coal) for years.  

The story stated according to the IEF Coal exports have peaked. India is not looking at buying any large volumes of coal from Australia.  The jobs touted for the project being 10,000 is a farce and more like 1500.

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2015/06/15/4253096.htm

China has cut back on buying coal from Australia.

Abbott out there promoting coal that no one on the planet is likely to want.
x31
Who in their right mind believes anything seen or heard on the ABC?

Their well documented bias, and use of left wing and progressive commentators has made the network irrelevant to most Australians living outside of inner city suburbs
  apw5910 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
Who in their right mind believes anything seen or heard on the ABC?
jmt
How's that plan to run the ABC with only renewables going?
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Who in their right mind believes anything seen or heard on the ABC?

Their well documented bias, and use of left wing and progressive commentators has made the network irrelevant to most Australians living outside of inner city suburbs
jmt

I know change is hard for you knuckledraggers to deal with, but seriously dude ease up on the Mcarthyist fairytales, you're starting make Abbott look intelligent.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Tell that to Georgia Power, who are building two Gen III+ AP1000 reactors as we speak at Plant Vogtle, using no Federal Government assistance.
LancedDendrite

Not that I really want to get into this debate again but ...

Except for free underwriting their public liability risk:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price%E2%80%93Anderson_Nuclear_Industries_Indemnity_Act

The bottom line if the risk of these 1:1000 year Chernobyl type events were properly priced, nuclear wouldn't get a gig anywhere, and certainly not in Australia.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Who in their right mind believes anything seen or heard on the ABC?
jmt

I do.

The ABC have a statutory responsibility to be impartial in their reporting, and even if they don't achieve it all the time, at least they make an effort.  The same can't be said for News Corp's publications.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
Except for free underwriting their public liability risk:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price%E2%80%93Anderson_Nuclear_Industries_Indemnity_Act

The bottom line if the risk of these 1:1000 year Chernobyl type events were properly priced, nuclear wouldn't get a gig anywhere, and certainly not in Australia.
"djf01"

Price-Anderson isn't 'free' underwriting, as you should know if you read the bloody Wikipedia page!
First up, nuclear power station owners are forced to buy as much insurance as they can from commercial insurers - this payout is used first if something happens. Then, owners have to contribute a substantial amount to the the Price-Anderson fund, which is drawn down before the US Federal Government has to start contributing.

The US offshore oil industry also has a similar setup - which is also pointed out in the Wikipedia page you linked to. Indemnity arrangements aren't as uncommon as you'd think - especially in areas where a catastrophe can have possibly open-ended consequences.

Chernobyl-type events don't happen to Light Water Reactors, which is the type of nuclear power reactor that the vast majority of other countries use. There is no positive reactivity coefficient in the LWR cores that allow for runaway reactor power excursions.
The primary problem with LWRs is decay heat management, as Fukushima demonstrated. We now know what the consequences of a worst-case scenario are, thanks to Fukushima Daiichi. That's a good data point for insurers to use.
  jmt Deputy Commissioner

The ABC have a statutory responsibility to be impartial in their reporting, and even if they don't achieve it all the time, at least they make an effort.  The same can't be said for News Corp's publications.
djf01
News Corp don't have a statuary responsibility
  Sojourner Train Controller

So here's a question: if you were the South Australian government, what would you do to save Port Augusta? Or wouldn't you try to save it at all?
LancedDendrite
I would send a group of ministers and their entourage to the Negev Desert in Israel, have a good close look at how they have used desalinated water to open up the desert into the largest food bowl in the middle east, then perhaps see if we can form a public private partnership with some of those companies to do the same thing here and export to Asia. Doing something similar off the coast with aquaculture might be another way to provide jobs and prosperity to the region. The growth of Asia suggests that there are strong markets for good quality food supplies. Gaganis are putting on an additional 50 staff for their food business at hindmarsh, so perhaps getting on something that is already working might be a good next step?

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