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Earth Power

France To Invest One Billion Euros In Nuclear Power 308

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the but-nuculars-will-make-mah-bebbe-a-commie dept.
An anonymous reader writes "France will invest one billion euros in future nuclear power development while boosting research into security, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday." The Guardian has a more detailed article. It's not a huge investment, but it is nice to see continued commitment to Generation IV reactors by at least one Western country.
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France To Invest One Billion Euros In Nuclear Power

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  • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:08PM (#36602310)

    They will make a fortune selling power to all those countries "phasing out" nuclear power with no plan to replace it but the underpants gnomes.

    ... which will work fine until those countries have built enough windmills, dams and solar arrays to no longer depend on France.

    ... and then France will have a problem: indeed, it buys as much electricity from abroad than it sells there. Nukes can only supply base load, and for peak France mostly relies on buying back from other countries (who are constructing storage facilities as we speak).

    If the French aren't careful, they might be in a world of hurt twenty years from now...

  • Hydrogen Production? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:18PM (#36602482) Homepage Journal

    An international task force is developing six nuclear reactor technologies for deployment between 2020 and 2030. Four are fast neutron reactors.
    All of these operate at higher temperatures than today's reactors. In particular, four are designated for hydrogen production. [world-nuclear.org]

    Don't we have a crapload of unused base load power in this world which we could use for hydrogen production?

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:22PM (#36602550)

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but why can nuclear power only supply base-load, instead of peak as well? I've certainly heard that solar and wind are unsuitable to supply base load, as they're not terrifically reliable, but never anything about nuclear being unable to scale to peak load.

    The term you don't know to google for is "xenon poisoning" or the "iodine pit"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine_pit [wikipedia.org]

    Using the most non-technical terms I can, the "ashes" from the "fire" choke it from cranking up for a couple hours when you change the power level.

    Naval reactors work around it by including massive extra reactivity, meaning you have to be really freaking careful when running them. The average Homer Simpson is probably ... unprepared for their rather spirited performance. The other problem is, for the sake of argument, building a naval reactor 5 times bigger than it "needs" to be is affordable. Really, it is! But building a nuke 5 times bigger than "necessary" for a base load plant will make the brains of the bean counters in finance go prompt-critical.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:24PM (#36602596) Journal
    The trouble with nukes(true to a lesser extent of coal and oil, not true of gas turbine, not true of hydro(though some different constraints apply)) is that they do not take kindly to rapid adjustments in output power. Even when SCRAMed, they take a while to cool down, and they are sufficiently expensive(both absolutely and in terms of the ratio between capital costs + fixed costs of operation vs. variable and fuel costs) that if you aren't running them at full output except when servicing them, you are shoveling money away.

    Because of that, you try to set them up so that you have nuclear capacity less than or equal to the lowest continuous(base) load on your grid, and run it at full power all the time. Then, during times of heavier usage, you fire up the cheap, fast-responding; but comparatively expensive per unit fuel gas units, or increase the flow rate at the hydro plants, or whatever.

    If it came to it, you could build nukes to match your peak load; but (since you can't scale them up and down fast enough to match demand) you would have to generate continuously near peak, and then figure out something to do with the excess during off-peak. That isn't an impossible problem(if you have the geography for it, you can used pumped hydro or pressurized gas storage as relatively inefficient; but not hopeless, 'batteries', or you can try to align the demands of certain power-heavy industries toward off-peak times, or try to reduce the peak/base swing by increasing adoption of thermal storage systems in building climate control and other measures, or, worst case, just burning the excess in some huge resistors); but it isn't ideal.

    Nuclear can scale as high as you wish to build it, it just can't adjust output very fast, so you either run it higher than needed in off-peak, or run it at baseload levels all the time.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @04:09PM (#36604340)

    No tin-foil hats for me, thank you. I don't believe in faked moon landings, little green men with anal probes, armies of assassins on the grassy knoll, etc.

    But I do believe in a long and well-established history [amazon.com] of nastiness when it comes to U.S. foreign affairs, and the lengths to which the government will go to protect American interests. Public discreditation is a long-established tool in a deep toolbox that can be used to advance those interests, when necessary. And I don't believe for a second that Julian Assange, Strauss-Kahn, Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, and Moammar Gaddafi all being charged with rape right after crossing the U.S. in recent months was just a very convenient coincidence.

    In fact, I expect that any day now we will hear about all the child porn found on some Lulzsec or Anon hackers' hard drives. We'll see if I'm psychic.

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