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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 bobbied (2522392) on Monday August 18, 2014 @01:45PM (#47697347)

    Citation please?

    There are a number of nuclear plants which are not being kept in operation due to the advent of cheap, clean, natural gas. Fracking has increased the production of old wells and opened up new areas to energy production. So much that wholesale electricity prices have been falling (along with retail prices). This has hammered the nuclear industry (along with solar and wind power) who are facing rising costs (due to inflation, as well as plant age), not to mention other fuel sources such as coal are suffering too. This low natural gas price is not expected to rise for at least the next decade.

    So, electric power has NOT been an industry to rack in billions of ill-gotten profits. They make profits, but many are facing the cold hard fact that their current set of generation capacity fueled by nuclear or coal is not going to be financially viable in short order. They are currently on a natural gas fired plant building binge, while shuttering their existing plants. I don't see this trend changing anytime soon.

  • by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Monday August 18, 2014 @01:54PM (#47697415)

    I'd love it if a nuke plant was built in my town. Would source a ton of decent paying jobs as well as bring some infrastructure improvements. But alas, Lane County (OR) is a designated "nuclear free zone". =/

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday August 18, 2014 @01:56PM (#47697435) Journal
    These sites have land close to cities (efficient), cooling, transmission lines, generators, etc. Basically, the problem with the old reactors is that they are old and are second generation.
    What should be happening is that we should put on-site NEW multiple small 3+ gen reactors, such as mPower, to handle the loads, providing power/money for the company, while they take down the OLD reactors.

    At the same time, we need to do a 4th gen reactor that will burn up the 'nuclear waste', and leave only 5% of the volume as well leave it safe in under 200 years (as opposed to 20,000+ years).
  • by brambus (3457531) on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:49PM (#47697853)
    Reprocessing is just one step. In order to achieve a true closed cycle, we'll need fast neutron waste burners. We've built them [wikipedia.org]. We've got designs ready to go [gehitachiprism.com]. Some pilot commercial plants have already been built [wikipedia.org]. And we've got refinements in the pipeline that will make them even better [terrapower.com]. Unfortunately, the modern environmental movement has turned into a religion and some of them are mistaking Slashdot for their soap box.
  • by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Monday August 18, 2014 @03:47PM (#47698301) Homepage

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

    Another translation: due to decreased economic activity as industry moves to China, along with improved efficiency in household consumption and in the market in general, the existing generation assets we have are no longer needed as overall demand lowers.

    Example: Ontario has been decommissioning nukes and coal plants for 10 years now and still has negative pricing at night. Exact same reasons.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Monday August 18, 2014 @04:45PM (#47698655)

    German steel producers have already said they will move elsewhere if the electric power prices don't come back down again. It is uncompetitive to manufacture steel in Germany at current prices.

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