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EU Power Technology

The Cost of Caring For Elderly Nuclear Plants Expected To Rise 249

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-going dept.
mdsolar writes with this story about the rising costs of keeping Europe's nuclear power plants safe and operational. Europe's aging nuclear fleet will undergo more prolonged outages over the next few years, reducing the reliability of power supply and costing plant operators many millions of dollars. Nuclear power provides about a third of the European Union's electricity generation, but the 28-nation bloc's 131 reactors are well past their prime, with an average age of 30 years. And the energy companies, already feeling the pinch from falling energy prices and weak demand, want to extend the life of their plants into the 2020s, to put off the drain of funding new builds. Closing the older nuclear plants is not an option for many EU countries, which are facing an energy capacity crunch as other types of plant are being closed or mothballed because they can't cover their operating costs, or to meet stricter environmental regulation.
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The Cost of Caring For Elderly Nuclear Plants Expected To Rise

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  • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:20PM (#47697115)
    The cost of caring for elderly _____ is expected to rise;

    1) Nuclear Plants
    2) Houses
    3) Windmills
    4) Cars
    5) Solar Installations
    6) People
    7) Factories
    8) Roads
    9) Bridges
    ...and the list goes on.

    Another amazingly useful submission to slashdot.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:24PM (#47697149)

    This user mdsolar submits a lot of stories. All of them are negative about nuclear power.
    Isn't that an interesting pattern?

  • Which? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:32PM (#47697209)

    And the energy companies, already feeling the pinch from falling energy prices and weak demand

    Closing the older nuclear plants is not an option for many EU countries, which are facing an energy capacity crunch

    Wait, which is it, is there too much electricity or not enough?

  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@co[ ]ll.edu ['rne' in gap]> on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:33PM (#47697223) Homepage

    "Closing the older nuclear plants is not an option for many EU countries, which are facing an energy capacity crunch as other types of plant are being closed or mothballed because they can't cover their operating costs, or to meet stricter environmental regulation."

    In short: While nuclear isn't perfect, it currently sucks less than any other alternative available.

    (Renewables just aren't scalable enough yet.)

  • by Tyrannicsupremacy (1354431) on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:38PM (#47697265)
    mdsolar more like mdSHILLER
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:43PM (#47697309)

    Either this is a "true believer" who worships and genuflects on PV panels, or a fossil fuel industry astroturfer. Did we really need another fact free FUD fest on this subject? In either case, his claims need to be taken very critically. I don't see any reasonable hope that mankind's energy needs can be met with only PV and other "renewable" sources. The numbers do not add up. Look up the French Revolution for an example of pretending that politics > math.

    Bottom line: Until the last coal plant is shuttered, nuclear power needs to be a major, perhaps THE major, source of electricity if we care to preserve a global ecosystem even faintly resembling that of pre-industrial times.

  • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:45PM (#47697355)
    For all of the laudable successes of the Environmental Movement in the late 20th Century (e.g. bans on DDT and chlorofluorocarbons, regulations to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions, habitat preservation), the anti-nuclear movement has to count as one of its great failures. These old plants are dangerous, and becoming increasingly so. Knee-jerk opposition to the construction of new nuclear facilities has made all of us less safe by encouraging obsolete plants (like Fukushima) to be patched together for another few decades because there is no alternative to meet power demand. Knee-jerk opposition to any waste respository has resulted in the highly dangerous on-site storage of spent fuel.

    Environmental opposition to nuclear power has made nuclear power vastly more dangerous than it needs to be, which appears to be a deliberate strategy: if you are convinced beyond any reasoning that something is too dangerous to be used at all, then it becomes paradoxically sensible to work to make it as dangerous as possible so that other people will agree with your preconceived notions about the hazards. I'm not sure if this effect has a name yet. Proof by suicide?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:55PM (#47697425)

    There's nothing positive about radiation, but even taking into account Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima & every other Nuclear accident on the books as a form of power it has caused far fewer deaths & far less ecological damage then any other power generation method. Hundreds if not thousands of people are constantly dying drilling for oil and digging for coal a year to fuel those plants, nuclear has maybe has a handful of deaths a year associated with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:58PM (#47697443)

    It's almost as if Chris Dudley is a reseller for the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative and has a vested interest in scaring people away from nuclear power to buy his solar panels as if there's no way the two can co-exist.

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday August 18, 2014 @03:09PM (#47697527)

    Energy prices in Europe have been declining for a while now: http://www.platts.com/pressrel... [platts.com]

    Electricity rates have been rising in America [inflationdata.com]. Perversely, this is because of falling demand. Electricity consumption peaked in 2007, and has been falling since then. Falling demand should mean lower prices, but most generators are protected monopolies that are guaranteed a profit. So falling demand means that fixed costs must be spread over fewer kwHrs.

  • by Applehu Akbar (2968043) on Monday August 18, 2014 @03:15PM (#47697577)

    The rational response to this situation is that when the cost of keeping some old X running gets too high, you replace it with a new and improved X. But in this one case, no.

  • Alternate headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Monday August 18, 2014 @03:36PM (#47697747) Homepage Journal

    Nuclear power plants have greater value than first anticipated, so we're keeping them for longer than originally planned.

  • by brambus (3457531) on Monday August 18, 2014 @03:41PM (#47697789)
    Interesting article. Couple of important quotes from it:

    “German power prices for March 16 delivery turned negative as wind power output rose above 24-GW combined with stronger solar production,” Franke said.

    Translation: we've overproduced by such an amount that we're paying for people take our crap.

    If the legislative environment weren't such that grid operators were forced to take unneeded generation, wind & solar would have to be curtailed and you'd see the owners of those facilities cry bloody murder, because that's lost revenue and a big hit to ROI. What's funnier is that this situation isn't going to get less frequent with more wind & solar buildout, it's going to get more frequent. Much, much more. The politicians have essentially made grid operators pay for the unreliability of wind & solar, instead of the people who actually own the thing and earn money from it. It's like making a public transport company pay for the lost wages of people who continuously oversleep and show up late for work, despite the public transport running on time.

    Contrary to many wind & solar advocates' claims, negative energy prices are not good - it means something's seriously messed up in the grid.

    At continental Europe’s most liquid natural gas trading hub, the Dutch TTF, the average price of day-ahead natural gas was €22.76/MWh in March, down 4% on February and down 29% year-over-year.

    “The decline has accelerated in recent days,” Richardson said. “TTF prompt delivery gas has dropped below €20/MWh in early April trade, the first time we’ve seen it this low since December 2011. Norwegian gas flows have been healthy and demand for heat and storage have been low.”

    So a significant part of the cheap power price is also natural gas, which is most decidedly not renewable and not zero-CO2.

  • by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Monday August 18, 2014 @03:48PM (#47697849) Homepage Journal

    The true cost of nuclear power is practically infinite, because we have to insure that highly concentrated and deadly waste must not come into contact with people's bodies for somewhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000 years into the future, depending upon the waste.

    The true cost of coal power is practically infinite, because we have to insure that highly dispersed and deadly waste must not come into contact with people's bodies for somewhere between 10,000,000,000 and over 10^33 years into the future, depending upon the waste. (the latter is the lower limits on the half-life of mercury)

    We have only had a writing system for 5,200 years (roughly speaking, the length of recorded history). How many people on Earth today could read a radiation warning written in cuneiform 5,200 years ago (or today)? Many civilizations on Earth have had periods of scientific and technological decline, and we've all read articles about knowledge from Ancient Rome or, more recently, the Renaissance being rediscovered today. How can we guarantee persistence of any scientific or technical knowledge?

    How are we supposed to convey the message: "Don't touch any of this, or pass it around. You and anyone who touches this will die not instantly but within months of a painful death, perhaps after you have traveled a great distance" for 200x the length of recorded history?

    How are we supposed to convey the message: Um, could you guys put all this mercury, uranium, and greenhouse gases from our coal power plants back into the ground for us? We were too lazy to do it ourselves, we were hoping you guys wouldn't mind. Also don't eat any fish from the ocean, they're full of poisonous mercury, sorry about that.

  • re: nuclear waste (Score:2, Insightful)

    by King_TJ (85913) on Monday August 18, 2014 @03:50PM (#47697865) Journal

    Agree completely with your comments, although the nuclear waste issue still strikes me as one that few people are taking seriously enough. The reaction is always the same, "Don't load that stuff on a train that travels through MY city!" "Don't bury that stuff anywhere near MY place!" So it winds up sitting right where it started, on-site at the plant, where it's, to say the least, not an ideal storage location.

    We've seen a lot of technical innovation in the last 50 years or so, which makes me question why we can't seriously look into developing a new type of power generator that can use all of this "spent" radioactive waste as fuel? Even if the costs to construct it were prohibitive in the sense of it generating enough electricity to be profitable? It would seem to be a cheap solution as a place to put waste coming from the existing reactors.

    As long as the nuclear waste contains so much energy, it's this dangerous to handle or store -- that means there's got to be untapped potential left in it.

  • by onkelonkel (560274) on Monday August 18, 2014 @03:54PM (#47697913)
    Sorry. Wrong.

    Nuclear has by far the lowest deathprint.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/ja... [forbes.com]
  • by plover (150551) on Monday August 18, 2014 @04:35PM (#47698229) Homepage Journal

    Actually, I was thinking about the radioactive iodine isotope the doctors used to successfully treat my wife's thyroid cancer. That's something very positive about radiation.

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