Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Technology

Next-Gen Nuclear Power Plant Breaks Ground In China 426

Posted by timothy
from the plenty-safe-bye-now-call-later dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The construction of first next-generation Westinghouse nuclear power reactor breaks ground in Sanmen, China. The reactor, expected to generate 12.7 Megawatts by 2013, costs 40 billion Yuan (~US$6 billion; that's a lot of iPods.) According to Westinghouse, 'The AP1000 is the safest and most economical nuclear power plant available in the worldwide commercial marketplace, and is the only Generation III+ reactor to receive Design Certification from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.' However, Chinese netizens suspect China is being used as a white rat to test unproven nuclear technologies (comments in Chinese)." Update: 04/20 07:28 GMT by T : As several readers have pointed out, this plant will generate much more than 12.7 Megawatts -- more like 1100 MWe.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Next-Gen Nuclear Power Plant Breaks Ground In China

Comments Filter:
  • Nexr-Gen Nuclear Power Plant

    Is "Nexr" either an acronym or abbreviation for something I should be aware of, or is this a "typo in title" case?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by RuBLed (995686)
      It is an abbreviation you are not aware of. I am not aware of it before but I am now.
    • by jae471 (1102461) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:17AM (#27642239) Journal
      Either way, people may want to consider getting on the nexr plane out of China...

      In all seriousness, 12.7 MW seems rather small for a $6 billion price tag.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by palegray.net (1195047)

        Either way, people may want to consider getting on the nexr plane out of China...

        Hope they've got all their paperwork in order; from what I understand, simply leaving can prove problematic for those folks.

      • Re:Power Output (Score:3, Informative)

        by DrKnark (1536431)

        Either way, people may want to consider getting on the nexr plane out of China...

        In all seriousness, 12.7 MW seems rather small for a $6 billion price tag.

        The AP1000 produces 1150 MWe (megawatts electric). The 12.7 MW figure is either wrong or has to do with the start-up phase.

    • The grammar/spelling nazis, racist trolls, and the suprisingly angry partisans from both sides of nuclear power are going to have a field day with this. Also there's also a good chance that global warming will come up here, and I'm pretty sure the chinese are running vista on the control system.

  • Units? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:19AM (#27642253)

    12.7 MW sounds a bit low. Even a DeLorean could generate 1.21 GW.

    But seriously, my home entertainment center uses more than that. Well, OK, not so seriously. But still, I'm just sayin.

    • by Cyberax (705495)

      1.21GW?

      Tsar Bomba generated about 5.4 yottawatts (5.4*10^24 Watts) of power! Now that's what I call 'powerful'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Indeed, the summary seems to pull "12.7 Megawatts" out of thin air. The article states "1100MW" which is 1.1 Gigawatts, exactly what you'd expect from a large nuclear plant.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by auric_dude (610172)
        Now "pulling 12.7 Megawatts out of thin air" may imply use of cold fusion, use of a ZPM, or some other form of Exotic Matter power source or it might not.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Yeah, the press release says 1100 MWe... (Megawatts electrical) So the summary is a little off.

      The astounding thing to me is just how expensive this is... 6 billion for 1100MW is almost $6/nameplate watt.

      $6 billion will buy a lot of Honda generators..

      • Re:Units? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by wildsurf (535389) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:21AM (#27642537) Homepage
        The astounding thing to me is just how expensive this is... 6 billion for 1100MW is almost $6/nameplate watt.

        From a related article [xinhuanet.com]:

        The Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant will be built in three phases, with an investment of more than 40 billion yuan (5.88 billion U.S. dollars) injected in the first phase.
        The first phase project will include two units each with a generating capacity of 1.25 million kw.

        So it appears that the real cost is closer to 5.88 / (2 * 1.25) = $2.35 per watt. Still expensive, but not outlandish. I'm in the process of installing a 4kw grid of solar panels on my own roof for a cost (after subsidies/rebates) of $17k, so $4.25 / watt. For greener energy, I think the premium is worth it.

        • Re:Units? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Beriaru (954082) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:59AM (#27642737)

          I'm in the process of installing a 4kw grid of solar panels on my own roof for a cost (after subsidies/rebates) of $17k, so $4.25 / watt. For greener energy, I think the premium is worth it.

          $4.25/Watt-peak, not Watt. It's not the same.

          Also, the Nuke power plant gives 1.2gW constant. Day and night. Sunny or rainy.

          Not quite a good comparison.

        • Re:Units? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Nutria (679911) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:12AM (#27642795)

          solar panels on my own roof ... For greener energy, I think the premium is worth it.

          Except for all the lead, mercury and cadmium needed to produce PV cells.

          • by jabithew (1340853)

            Not to mention the horrendously high energy needed to reduce sand to silicon in the first place, and the inefficient purification processes (which are improving a lot at the moment).

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Hurricane78 (562437)

              Which does not matter, because you can get that energy from other solar panels. :D
              So in the end, you only need the power the production of the first panel with anything other than solar power. And you can use that panel, to gain energy back for another process that would normally need another plant.

          • by delt0r (999393)
            You are thinking of the R&D thin film cells, not the current crop. Parent almost certainly has silicon cells so the lead mercury and cadmium is released is nill. They make more energy over there lifetime (much more) that it takes to produce the cells in the first place.

            No matter how you slice it, its a net win. Unless you are a plant and can grow better with *more* CO2 in the atmosphere.
        • $2.35 per watt.

          The problem with Nuclear plants is they tend to build them in the middle of nowhere, usually on the coast so they can pump the "waste" heat into the ocean. This means they can never really be much more than about 40% efficient. Really you should implement a District Heating and District Cooling systems as well if you're spending billions on new nuclear power plants.

          The other thing is the current generation of plants (and AP1000 is such) are basically once through designs. The fuel is enriched, left in the r

          • by dbIII (701233) on Monday April 20, 2009 @06:43AM (#27643721)
            No.
            If you don't get rid of the heat then you don't have such a big temperature difference so you can get a lot of energy in the first place. While you can get a bit from power plants as industrial heat you really need a really reliable heat sink such as evaporative cooling (those big towers) or sea/lake water.
            The second point has been shown in practice by the French - reprocessing of highly radioactive material is very difficult and very expensive since for one thing everything has to be done remotely. Lead lined gloves aren't enough - the stuff might as well be on Mars because it has to be handled so it doesn't get near anybody. That was really the thing that killed Superphoenix (where the waste was far more radioactive again and even more difficult to handle) and the idea of a commercially viable fast breeder reactor. What that has meant is that even though it takes a lot to make the fuel in the first place it is far easier to do that than reprocess. Accelerated Thorium is a different story since it appears that far less handling of fuel materials is required and it can apparently use up discarded weapons materials and uranium fuel rods.

            IMHO the answer is less money on PR and more on R&D. Having nuclear power pushed by brainwashed zombies into conspiracy theories that think it was all perfect in 1970 is counterproductive.

          • I did some reading on wikipedia about the various nuclear reactors recently. So being a lay-person, there's some existing common wisdom.

            The placement of the nuclear reactor to the sea is a safety issue. You NEED guaranteed large cool water in the condenser stage or reactor goes boom. Wiki says thermal heat is regularly used as hot-water heaters - similar to geothermal heating in iceland. Whether anybody actually uses this is anybody's guess.. Obviously you'd need to pipe the hot water to end locations, so existing suburbia obviously isn't anywhere near able to handle this.

            As for breeder reactors:
            A) All fission reaction is of a breeding nature. The ratio of bred material is what the different processes produce. The bred ratio varies from 0.5 to 1.2. Where 1.01 is the accepted min ratio to be called a breeder reactor (producing more fissile fuel than originally introduced).

            B) Any of the high breeder reactors utilize some aspect of fast-fission. Canada, India and Russia (and France?). Fast fission requires the ABSENCE of water, as water (either light or heavy(deutreonic)) captures energetic neutrons. Instead reaction-neutral coolants are used such as sodium, molten lead, etc. The problem here is related to safety. It is harder to produce intrinsic stability into non-water-based fission. Namely, in boiler-based reactors, when a greater ratio of steam is produced, the reaction naturally slows down, thus naturally regulating the system if electronic control mechanisms don't catch and compensate the control rods in time. With non steam based systems, you use complex chemical fission-poisons (in high-pressure based reactors as found in subs) or are fully reliant on control-rod actuators. (possible single point of failure). (note: I could be wrong about liquid metal based systems not having alternate backup mechanisms such as fission-poisons)

            C) Chernobyl was a fast-fission reactor. And it's melt-down was related to the inability to shutdown quickly enough.. (specifically pressure-valve failures and insufficient monitoring which would have initiated the shutdown sooner) The environmental DAMAGE, however was due exclusively to the fact that it was a warhead manufacturing site, and the construction apparatus is too large to enclose with a hardened concrete barrier.

            D) 70% of Thorium is in India. Thus, even though Thorium is (likely) a less efficient starting process for a breeder reactor, it's a better long-term strategy for India so as to provide energy independence. This isn't true of most countries.

            E) Breeder reactors are the basis of nuclear warheads, thus it's an extremely hot-button issue. The US and Russia specifically discontinue their breeder reactors to comply with arms control. Russia now strip-mines their old warhead supply to fuel existing reactors both domestically and abroad. I suspect that China is not indifferent to this topic as well. The french reprocessing plant is actively/heavily monitored by the UN (IAEA).

            F) The French rebreeding process is apparently NOT cost effective by any measure. The reason they do it is similar to the Indian Thorium objective - international energy independence.. China is not likely to be short-supplied of uranium mineral deposits - but I'm not aware of their status. I know Canda has massive Uranium supplies.

            Currently boiler and pressure based reactors are 'cheap' to build and are cheap to operate (so long as raw Uranium ore is cheap). They both require 'pre-processing' of the ore to increase the concentration of U-235 to a sufficient level. So it's slightly more expensive in the long run as both ore prices will increase over time, and the added cost of pre-processing.

            heavy-water and liquid-metal and inert-gas based reactors facilitate 'raw' Uranium, (e.g. U-238 and possibly thorium), and thus make the operating costs MUCH cheaper, but they don't have the longevity of trivial passive boiler-based plants, and thus the high capital costs are for shorter terms - and thus the average cost is higher.

            • by BlueParrot (965239) on Monday April 20, 2009 @11:11AM (#27647263)

              B) Any of the high breeder reactors utilize some aspect of fast-fission.

              Not true. India has constructed thermal breeder reactors that use thorium-uranium fuel and heavy water moderator / coolant.

              Fast fission requires the ABSENCE of water

              Nope. You just need to ensure you don't moderate the neutron spectrum. Supercritical water coolant has a high enough heat capacity and low enough neutron absorption cross section to make this feasible. Google for the Fast SCWR if you doubt me.

              Chernobyl was a fast-fission reactor.

              Nothing could be further from the truth. Chernobyl was a thermal spectrum reactor that was heavily moderated with graphite and cooled by water. Wikipedia has a good article about the causes of the chernobyl disaster. In summary it was caused by a heavily over moderated design ( the opposite of a fast reactor ) in combination with flawed control rod design and the lack of a containment building.

              Thorium is (likely) a less efficient starting process for a breeder reactor,

              U-233 in thorium fuel has a much better capture to fission ratio than U-235 and Pu-239 which means you don't need a fast reactor to set up a breeding cycle. The waste products are also less long lived since the thorium cycle only produces trace actinides.

              Breeder reactors are the basis of nuclear warheads

              Every single plutonium based nuclear weapons program in existence has used low-burnup thermal reactors and not fast reactors. Furthermore most designs of fast reactors are not practical to be run on a frequent refueling cycle, making them substantially less suitable to produce weapons grade plutonium than more traditional methods. The reprocessing methods needed to recover the minor actinides are also unsuitable for separating pure plutonium, making the entire fuel cycle significantly less prone to proliferation than the thermal + PUREX cycle.

              Russia specifically discontinue their breeder reactors to comply with arms control

              Russia has commercial breeder reactors in operation and actively develops fast breeder technology, including their BREST project based on lead coolant and dry reprocessing.

              The French rebreeding process is apparently NOT cost effective by any measure.

              Only if you compare it to coal or traditional nuclear. Compared to wind and other low-co2 energy sources it works out cheaper. In addition the French programs currently aim for research. Commercial reactors would likely use different designs to optimize economics rather than flexibility of the experiments that can be run. In addition they use the PUREX process for recycling the waste as opposed to newer dry-reprocessing methods. Because dry reprocessing uses salt rather than water ( a moderator ) criticality problems are heavily reduced allowing the plant to be smaller and cheaper. Furthermore while liquid sodium reactors are indeed more expensive than pressurized water reactors, it is fully possible to use other coolants such as Lead or Supercritical water. These would with high probability lead to a much cheaper plant ( by 30% or so ) since the lack of a phase change in the coolant allows the plant to be simpler and smaller. In addition the higher temperature increases the efficiency to about 45% as opposed to 33% for more traditional designs.

    • by RuBLed (995686)
      But the DeLorean had a flux capacitor, there is no comparison in this. It's like comparing an apple with an apple from the 18th century.
    • Even a DeLorean could generate 1.21 GW.

      Unfortunately, the DeLorean wins, as 1100MW is only 1.1 Gigawatts. They need a flux capacitor to help liven things up to surpass 1.21 GW. Speaking of which, a nuclear symbol almost looks like a flux capacitor. Coincidence?

  • by creimer (824291) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:37AM (#27642315) Homepage
    (~US$6 billion; that's a lot of iPods.)

    That iPods have become an international currency? Maybe I should cash out my collection of iPods...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      Only if you bought them in China and then sold them in America or EU. Otherwise, you will lose money.
    • by adamchou (993073)
      how many libraries of congress is that again?
    • It's also the next unit up from "song" when referencing file sizes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jabithew (1340853)

      That's not actually as silly as it sounds, though I believe the Big Mac is more traditional. [wikipedia.org]

      Really you need to price it in iPods-bought-in-China. This can then be converted back to whichever local currency used, to give some idea of the cost taking into account purchasing power parity (i.e. $1 in China still goes further than $1 in the US and $1 in the UK can barely buy a packet of crisps these days).

      • by jabithew (1340853)

        So, an iPod touch bought in China is going to set you back RMB1998yuan, according to my poor Mandarin and Apple's China site. This gives about 20E6 iPods Touch for total plant cost.

        Converted into local currency;
        US$229*20E6=$4.58b
        GBP169*20E6=£3.3b=$4.86b
        EUR219*20E6=â4.38b=$5.69b*

        Note that this back-of-the-envelope calculation doesn't take into account taxes.

        *Taken from www.apple.com/de

  • Oops (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:37AM (#27642317) Journal

    Next-Gen Nuclear Power Plant Breaks Ground In China

    So... it was a surface detonation instead of a standard air detonation?

  • No! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:37AM (#27642321)

    ... suspect China is being used as a white rat ...

    By now everyone should know it's the rats that are using us (or the Chinese in this case).

  • I've crawled around a number of hydroelectric generators, from 1 MW to 300 MW; a 1 MW turbine "runner" is about the size of a truck tire. There is simply no way anyone would spend billions on a dozen of those.

    And the math doesn't work either. At $100 per MWh, a 12 MW generator would have to run for about 5 million hours to earn $6B. TFA says 1100 MW, which is more like it.

    • Re:12.7 Megawatts? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:59AM (#27642455)

      The brochure web page for the AP1000 [westinghousenuclear.com] also says much the same thing, 1154MWe.

      It also states that this is a Pressurized Water Reactor, so it's probably more about generating by-products (esp. tritium) than it is about generating energy.

      • Re:12.7 Megawatts? (Score:5, Informative)

        by delt0r (999393) on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:03AM (#27643285)

        It also states that this is a Pressurized Water Reactor, so it's probably more about generating by-products (esp. tritium) than it is about generating energy.

        What are you talking about? If the control rods are Li then you get T. But if you want more interesting byproducts you leave the water out and go for a fast neutron spectrum *and* you get more tritium.

        Its pretty clear that this is about generating electricity.

      • by dfenstrate (202098) <dfenstrate@gmail ... minus herbivore> on Monday April 20, 2009 @06:41AM (#27643701)

        It also states that this is a Pressurized Water Reactor, so it's probably more about generating by-products (esp. tritium) than it is about generating energy.

        I work at a pressurized water reactor so I'm really getting a kick out of these replies....

        No, seriously, I'm not an expert on the radionuclide table, but that's hardly why one would choose a pressurized water reactor over a boiling water reactor. (Those are the two big established types. The United States has dozens of both varieties in commercial operation.)

        One big reason to pick a pressurized water reactor is that you limit your contamination to the primary reactor coolant loop and it's support systems. The steam plant- the electricity generating side- stays completely radiation free.

        This makes servicing the steam-electricity side of the plant much cheaper and simpler.

        Most electricity generating power plants in the US operate on steam power.

        In a pressurized water reactor, there's a separate reactor coolant loop that passes heat through metal tubes, boiling 'feed water' in the steam generator, and the steam spins the turbine that makes electricity. The primary coolant and the feed water/ steam do not come in contact.

        In a boiling water reactor, the reactor directly boils the water that spins the turbine. One big advantage of this is cheaper construction.

        Both types 'burn' Uranium to generate the heat that boils the water. Pressurized Water Reactors simply have an additional segregated loop of water.

        There are probably a number of advantages to either type that other folks could fill you in on. I assure you though, as an operator of an American Westinghouse Pressurized Water Reactor, tritium is nothing more than an occasional annoyance.

        • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday April 20, 2009 @07:16AM (#27643911)

          It also states that this is a Pressurized Water Reactor, so it's probably more about generating by-products (esp. tritium) than it is about generating energy.

          I work at a pressurized water reactor so I'm really getting a kick out of these replies....

          No, seriously, I'm not an expert on the radionuclide table, but that's hardly why one would choose a pressurized water reactor over a boiling water reactor. (Those are the two big established types. The United States has dozens of both varieties in commercial operation.)

          One big reason to pick a pressurized water reactor is that you limit your contamination to the primary reactor coolant loop and it's support systems. The steam plant- the electricity generating side- stays completely radiation free.

          BWRs have a number of advantages:

          advantage that uncovering fuel rods does not automatically lead to clad failure (in fact a portion is not covered by water during power operation as it turns water into steam); even a fully uncovered core could be steam cooled to prevent meltdown.

          Refueling is also easier since the rods go in the bottom so there are no CRDMs to pull to pop the vessel head.

          No Boron.

          Those are few that come to mind.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:49AM (#27642395) Homepage

    The AP-1000 isn't a new technology reactor. That's the whole point. It's a conventional pressurized-water reactor. It's built mostly from existing Westinghouse components which Westinghouse had type-approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, so that multiple identical units could be built without going through a full design review for each one. So far, nobody has ordered one. Until now.

    Most US reactors are unique designs, which is a headache. France has 34 reactors of the same design, which has cost and maintenance advantages, although there's been at least one common design flaw found.

    Westinghouse is no longer a US company. It's owned by Toshiba.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dbIII (701233)
      Hence my many comments in this forum about Westinghouse stuff just being the old stuff painted green.
      The important thing before building a lot of a new design is to get something that works well for the purpose. With France they needed something that could give them military material with civilian power generation as a side benefit so they were not in competition with other forms of energy. Purely civilian nuclear power has a lot of competition and for one thing needs to be economicly self supporting with
  • iPods? WTH? (Score:5, Funny)

    by NilObject (522433) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:59AM (#27642459) Homepage

    Since when did iPods become a unit of measurement?

    "That kid was hit by a 2-ton truck. That's a lot of iPods!"

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:04AM (#27642473) Journal

    I'm guessing it's about 12 GW rather than MW. Nuclear plants' power is usually in the order of (a few) gigawatts.

    If this is, indeed, a 12 GW power plant, it's one of the largest I've heard of.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrKaos (858439)

      I'm guessing it's about 12 GW rather than MW. Nuclear plants' power is usually in the order of (a few) gigawatts.

      An AP-1000 is a descendant of the AP-600. The AP-600 is a 600 Mega Watt reactor and the AP-1000 is a 1 Giga Watt reactor.

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:14AM (#27642507) Homepage Journal

    It's a 1.2GW plant. The current order is for four reactors, for 8 billion dollars. The price is expected to fall to about 1 billion per reactor. China has a goal of building 100 reactors by 2020. IF the USA built that many, it would cut power plant greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, or the equivalent of nearly a million windmills.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      And China's per capita CO2 emissions were already about 1/4 of those in the US - even though so much of the heavy industry supporting us occurs there. Now we're losing our last excuse to avoid doing anything about our C02 pollution, which was pointing the finger.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>And China's per capita CO2 emissions were already about 1/4 of those in the US

        Having a large percentage of your population living in abject poverty will do that for 'ya.

        I don't recommend copying their strategy in that regard.

    • by Zoxed (676559)

      > IF the USA built that many, it would cut power plant greenhouse gas emissions by 30%,

      Any references for that ? Does that figure include emissions related to uranium mining, enrichment, plant building/decommissioning and long term storage of waste ?

      Just wondering...

      • by Nit Picker (9292) on Monday April 20, 2009 @08:57AM (#27645075)

        I don't have time to search for the exact reference or the numbers, but there was a European study of the total life cycle environmental costs, including CO2 and other pollutants, of various energy technologies. In terms of CO2, hydro was lowest. Nuclear, solar, and wind were roughly the same. (I believe nuclear was computed two ways, once with gaseous diffusion--still used, but being phased out--for enrichment and once with gas centrifuge. Gas centrifuge produced lower CO2 emissions, but neither figure was astoundingly high.) I believe nuclear (and wind and solar) come in at around 6% of coal. The concrete and steel use in a nuclear plant was taken into account in the study, as were emissions from mining. There is also a Swedish environmental report with similar conclusions.

        As for what percentage CO2 reduction in US power plant emissions could be expected, that would depend on how much of the new capacity replaced gas, and how much replaced coal. Any (expensive) gas used for base load would be the first candidate for replacement. That would reduce the impact on CO2 because baseload gas fired plants, expecially the combined cycle plants most useful for base load generation produce less (half?) the CO2 per unit of electricity generated of coal plants, though still far more than nuclear plants. Once you cut into coal, which produces about 50% of US electric power, you see some serious CO2 savings.

        Two other comments:
        The statement was that there would be a 30% reduction in emissions from POWER plants. I think electric power plants only account for about half on US CO2 emissions, so you would only get a 15% or so reduction in overall CO2 emissions.
        From your question, I suspect you are being misled by a discredited Dutch study which claims ridiculously high CO2 emissions for both nuclear plant construction and uranium mining.

  • by Lord Lode (1290856) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:32AM (#27642587)
    What, money is measured in iPods now? Maybe its output should also be measured in iPods it can power instead of megawatts?
  • netizens suspect China is being used as a white rat to test unproven nuclear technologies (comments in Chinese)."

    This is what happens when you have a closed government: people go wild with conspiracy theories. Happens in America too.....I knew people who seriously believed Bush was going to call martial law and cancel the last election.

    Of course, who knows, maybe it is an experimental power station. But given that it is a standard design, I find it highly unlikely. Just like moon landing hoax theories are extremely unlikely. Open government is important.

  • Ah cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:03AM (#27642753) Homepage
    I just gave a briefing to one of the engineers at this power plant a few weeks ago. Interesting place! It's sort of out in the middle of nowhere, at least as a far as coastal China goes. It's about an hour and a half from here, and the place would never have been built anywhere in the West. There is a Western psuedo-religion that automatically opposes anything with the word "atoms" in the name...it really retards progress. It's the sort of thing that really stands out in relief after you've been out of America for a while and gotten used to the sanity of daily Chinese life. It's really cool when you have a relationship with the guy who grows your vegetables, AND he's just a regular guy, not some psuedo-religious neogardener.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigiShaman (671371)

      "...after you've been out of America for a while and gotten used to the sanity of daily Chinese life" emphasis mine

      I cannot stress how true this is. The nanny-state psuedo science culture is KILLING western civilization.

      If your an engineer looking to develop the next generation of technologies, China is the place to do it. It does have it's political downfalls, but for many well worth it temporarily for the job experience.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by superposed (308216)
        I don't normally go in for grammar corrections, but I can't resist here:

        1) "pseudo"
        2) you are -> you're
        3) owned by it -> its (it is -> it's)
        4) The quote you attribute to Thomas Jefferson was actually made by Gerald Ford [answerbag.com]. Nobody imagined "a government big enough to give you everything you want" in Jefferson's day.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:34AM (#27643417) Homepage

    China is building up powerful clean power-stations, while the US is wasting billions on bullshit projects [washingtonpost.com] intended to keep people working, rather than doing something useful.

    Why aren't we building these stations so as to be able to stop polluting the atmosphere with coal and whatever else gets burned to produce electricity here? The Chinese bloggers suspect, we aren't sure of the technology and want to test it in China first, but the truth is much less sinister — and much more worrying...

    We have simply lost the drive and our ability to take bold steps and initiatives. Would I like a nuclear plant in my backyard? Yes, as a matter of fact, I would certainly prefer it to a coal-burning one (with its radioactive smoke [sciam.com]) or to a wind-turbine, which would take up the entire plot to produce enough electricity for a single light-bulb.

  • by superposed (308216) on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:46AM (#27643469)
    At a cost of $5.85 billion [google.com], and assuming a lifetime of 40 years, an interest rate of 6%, this nuclear plant will have an annual mortgage of $389 million [google.com]. With a nameplate rating of 1100 MW [mediaroom.com], if it runs 92% of the time [nei.org], it will produce 8.9 billion kWh per year [google.com], so the capital repayments will amount to $0.044/kWh [google.com], assuming it doesn't go over budget. Assuming an optimistic cost for fuel around $0.005/kwh [world-nuclear.com], this gives a total cost of $0.049/kWh, neglecting the cost of maintenance, waste disposal, and any risk of contamination or weapons proliferation.

    Now let's look at a new wind farm. A 50 MW wind farm would cost around $96 million [google.com] (at $1923/kW [doe.gov]), which yields an annual capital repayment of $7.5 million [google.com] (assuming a lifetime of 25 years). If the plant runs at a 35% capacity factor [awea.org], it will produce 153 million kWh per year [google.com]. So the total cost will be $0.049/kWh [google.com].

    So, which would you rather spend $0.049/kWh on -- a nuclear plant that might go over budget, might leak radiation at some point during its life, whose waste will need to be carefully controlled and permanently stored somewhere that hasn't yet been identified; or a wind farm whose costs are much more certain and which comes without all those ancillary risks?

    Yes, any individual wind farm will not provide a firm supply of power. But if a lot of wind farms are used, and they are combined with solar, geothermal and other renewable resources, they will provide a fairly stable power supply. There is also a lot of potential for reshaping electricity loads to match the supply of power (e.g., recharge electric vehicles when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining). And finally, if you must have a firm supply of power, you can convert a wind farm into a completely firm supply (at 35% of its nameplate rating) by spending about 10% extra and building rarely-used natural gas peaker plants ($634/kW [doe.gov] * 35% = $222kW).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fnj (64210)

      So, which would you rather spend $0.049/kWh on -- a nuclear plant ... [blather] ...; or [exactly the same figure on] a wind farm ... [blather]?

      Well, I'll go for the nuke, thank you, but then I'm not a luddite. I prefer my power not to fail every time we have a calm day, and not to have ridiculous amounts of land used per unit of power generated. Your own optimistic figures show no advantage to wind power, and do not take into account that the cost for nuclear power plants would drop precipitously if they were mass produced.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      How much land does that 50 MW wind farm take up?

      More important how much land will those 58 (8.9 billion / 153 million) 50 MW wind farms take up? Not to mention what is the cost of building conventional power plants to supply the power on days when it is not windy. Did you factor that in to your price =)

      I'd also venture a guess that maintenance costs on 58 wind farms (+ supplemental power)would actually be more than the one nuclear plant just due to the quantity of them.

      I'm all for alternative energy as su

    • by ColaMan (37550) on Monday April 20, 2009 @06:29AM (#27643653) Homepage Journal

      Let's look at two numbers here:

      8.9 billion kWh per year

      and

      153 million kWh per year.

      And - oh wait, there's just the trivial need to have them...

      combined with solar, geothermal and other renewable resources, they will provide a fairly stable power supply

      A nuclear power plant needs none of this to provide a *very* stable power supply, and is neatly placed in one spot, with a much smaller overall infrastructure build than a miscellaneous hodge-podge of various power sources scattered wherever the environment is suitable for them. It's also proven to work very well at base load generation.

      So, which would you rather spend $0.049/kWh on -- a nuclear plant that might go over budget, might leak radiation at some point during its life, whose waste will need to be carefully controlled and permanently stored somewhere that hasn't yet been identified; or a wind farm whose costs are much more certain and which comes without all those ancillary risks?

      I would prefer to spend my 4.9cents per kWh on something that will reliably produce base load power 24/7 thanks. Come back in 20 years when some other sucker^W fearless forward-thinker has lost a pile of cash getting the tech tamed and into the markeplace.

    • by khallow (566160) on Monday April 20, 2009 @07:08AM (#27643849)
      So a one-off nuclear plant costs 10% less in capital investment than a wind farm of equivalent size? I'd go with nuclear. We can always make more reactors and improve the design while exploiting economies of scale. OTOH, wind power is probably close to what it can do. There's only so many windy locations. The cost per kWh will increase as less energetic and more remote regions are populated.

      So, which would you rather spend $0.049/kWh on -- a nuclear plant that might go over budget, might leak radiation at some point during its life, whose waste will need to be carefully controlled and permanently stored somewhere that hasn't yet been identified; or a wind farm whose costs are much more certain and which comes without all those ancillary risks?

      Remember China doesn't have the NIMBYism that the US and Europe has. The waste will be recycled when possible and put in the ground when not possible.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2009 @07:13AM (#27643883)

      You've started with wrong numbers. The 40 billion Yuan cost is not for one reactor; it is for two of the same kind.

      The Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant will be built in three phases, with an investment of more than 40 billion yuan (5.88 billion U.S. dollars) injected in the first phase.

              The first phase project will include two units each with a generating capacity of 1.25 million kw.

      http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-04/19/content_11217433.htm

      So in fact, under your assumptions, the levelized cost of these reactors is 1/2 the cost of wind.

That does not compute.

Working...