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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 @01:20PM (#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 @01:24PM (#47697149)

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        mdsolar more like mdSHILLER
      • by MrKaos (858439)

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

        This user AC makes a lot of ad hom attacks and defensive comments about nuclear power. Isn't that an interesting pattern?

      • No, it is not more interesting/pattern than noting that baseball players and baseball watchers occationally meet in stadiums. (It is his hobby!)

        If you want pro nuclear stories, post them yourself. Everyone can post stories to /.

      • by MrKaos (858439)
        I don't see any bias in the Scientific American article that mdsolar has linked to. Facts are facts, you either accept them or you do not. If you are able to post any good news stories about nuclear power, then post them.

        If the story was about how some machine wears out over time would you call that 'negative'? A nuclear power plant is a machine, it doesn't work forever and is quite a valid topic for discussion. The only negative characterization is the one that you have made.

    • by Applehu Akbar (2968043) on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:15PM (#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.

  • Which? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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 MRe_nl (306212)

      I read it as "as other types of plants (i.e. Coal) are being closed or mothballed because they can't cover their operating costs, or to meet stricter environmental regulation".

      i.e. "there's not enough clean energy being produced and some of the older other (non-nuclear) types of plants are as dirty/dirtier than nuclear"?

    • Actually, there is to much power. Much to much.
      There are some strong exporters, depending on time of year and daytime, like Swizerland, Germany, Denmark and Norway, also some eastern countries that especially deliver power when they already are at peak and the west is at 10:00 in the morning.

      Since a few years, nearly two decades, the neighbours started to build up plants for export as well. During the time when the European spot market and all the market rules got forged.

      Meanwhile many countries either have

  • "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.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gurps_npc (621217)
      No. Let me correct that bit of foolishness on your part.

      While nuclear isn't perfect, the paranoia about potential nuclear accidents means it isn't commercially viable.

      In fact, coal processing has killed more humans from radioactivity than nuclear power in the United States and also in the world.

      Also, hydro electric dams destroy and threaten to destroy a greater ecological area than nuclear power plants do.

      The problem with nuclear power is simple ignorance. Most people don't understand it, and basi

      • > While nuclear isn't perfect, the paranoia about potential nuclear accidents means it isn't commercially viable.

        That, or maybe...

        1) the $7.60/W CAPEX, which is over seven times that of wind or natural gas
        2) the multi-year lead times which means significant economic risk in an era of they-can-only-go-up interest rates
        3) construction costs that invariably go very very wrong and leave the investors holding the bag
        4) banks which have been watching all of this for 40 years and consider it to be a toxic inves

        • You also have the problem of location. Implied by cooling.
          Basically, if you shut of an old plant, there likely is only the option to build the new one right besides it (rivers have not enough water in summer to cool that many plants). Germany at least has no safe options left, after meanwhile 'everyone' knows that ALL our plants are in seismic dangerous places. Except you perhaps want to try the russian idea and have 'special' nuclear reactor ships in the sea. For germany that would mean: instead of having

        • by Uecker (1842596)

          Give it up. The nuclear fanboys on slashdot will not believe it.

          The nuclear industry itself states that this is the reason they don't build nuclear power plants (John Rowe):
          http://www.bloomberg.com/video... [bloomberg.com]

      • Coal processing has not killed more than mining uranium by "processing", those agrs old myths are debunked since 30 years.

  • I didn't know nuclear plants were powered by the elderly. They told me grandma passed, and was in a better place. No one said that was inside a reactor.

  • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Monday August 18, 2014 @01:45PM (#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?
    • Darn it. After I posted, I realized that I had moderation power. I would have modded you up.
      I consider my an environmentalists, but a sane one. Hell, the primary reason why I became Libertarian was because both dems and pubs are responsible for so much destruction.
      We desperately need an energy mix, not depending on just ONE TYPE of energy. Right now the greenies push wind/solar. Yet, BOTH depend on the sun, which means that if say yellowstone erupts, or China attacks and uses clouds over America first (C
    • re: nuclear waste (Score:2, Insightful)

      by King_TJ (85913)

      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 w

    • The "Environmental Movement" is not one homogeneous group of people. There are tons of sensible, evidence-based people like myself that have always been pro-nuclear. Then there are the non-evidence based folks who are terrified of "radiation" and rub crystals of themselves to cleanse their chakra.

      I would like to think that I'm in the mainstream and they're the fringe.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      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,

      Yes, the anti-nuclear movement told you that would happen, but you ignored them. That was a failure, but it was largely yours.

      Environmental opposition to nuclear power has made nuclear power vastly more dangerous than it needs to be,

      Riiiiiight. Blaming the victim, real nice. It's not the environmentalists' fault that these old plants are dangerous. That's your fault. You put yourself in the pro-nuclear camp; you want to be there, you can take your share of the responsibility for making this situation possible. Instead, of course, of blaming the people who warned you. Fuck you for that.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      You present a false choice. Nuclear or dirty fossil fuels.

    • by forand (530402)
      I agree that there was a great failure in the US to build out newer nuclear plants in the latter years of the 20th century. Unfortunately it isn't as clear as you state. Energy produces were spreading mis-information if not lies about nuclear power while the Environmental people were crying about the waste. Nuclear power is NOT without its drawbacks. I remember vividly having a PG&E rep come into our class and go through her whole spiel which included numerous falsehoods. When I called her on it she was
    • Erm, you are mixing up stuff.

      The anti nuclear horde always pointed out that the current plants are not safe. (And on top of that they don't want new ones).

      And now you try to use that as a stick against them? Hey, lets build new nuclear plants (which are 'safer' ... but does that imply 'sade'?) so we can replace the old unsafe nuclear plants? Wow, and why did no one from the 'establishment' agree with them the last 50 years that the plants we operate said 50 years are unsafe? Wow, now as it seems convenient,

      • by PvtVoid (1252388)

        Erm, you are mixing up stuff.

        The anti nuclear horde always pointed out that the current plants are not safe. (And on top of that they don't want new ones).

        And now you try to use that as a stick against them?

        The plants weren't unsafe when they were built. They are unsafe now because they are far beyond their design lifetime. We have better plant designs now. Why is this so hard to understand?

  • 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 AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Two problems with your plan. Firstly you can't just build a new plant or new reactors on the old site. Removing the old ones takes decades, and the spent fuel pools need to be dealt with as well. Existing UK plants are looking at between 40 and 90 years for decommissioning and clean up.

      Secondly the reason no one is building reactors to burn up existing waste is that they are uneconomical and risky to develop. The only people trying are governments in China and India who ate willing to throw money at the pro

      • The Below was actually mine, so I am re-posting it here since I know that many ppl ignore ACs.

        First, new reactors are added regularly to sites. In fact, in america, all of the current construction is doing just that.
        Secondly, a number of sites have already Benn decommissioned and were done in less than 10-15 years. For example, ft. St. Vrain along with Zion plant took less than 10 years.
        Third, it makes good economic sense to continue the sites with new fail-safe reactors, esp if they can use the 'waste' and convert it into a fraction of volume and years being dangerous.

        It is far far better for these companies to keep the sites open, running safe nuclear, while cleaning up the old mess.
        In addition, just as we are looking to build new safe reactors, it would be useful to come up with a rail-road based plant that will take the old nuke waste, and convert it into fuel for reactors like transatomic's, or flibe's. Upon converting a bunch, or perhaps all, then the plant is simply move

  • Alternate headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:36PM (#47697747) Homepage Journal

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

  • by Atmchicago (555403) on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:52PM (#47697887) Homepage
    How is there simultaneously a supply crunch and drop in prices? If there is a crunch, then prices will be raised until demand drops to an appropriate level, or more capacity will be built... unless major market distortions are in play which disrupt this relationship. I don't get it.
    • Yeah, that is the brain dead idea 'how markets work' in the idea of the general public of america.
      ThT was perhaps true 200 years ago, when sailing ships transported news about market changes.

      If you want in our days to see a market opportunity for a new power plant you have three simple hurdles: money, planning/legislation/regulation/license and the actual building.

      Now comes the complex problem: everyone around you who has the money: has the exact same idea.

      And now comes what makes you bankrupt: the one who

  • by Ichijo (607641) on Monday August 18, 2014 @03:24PM (#47698157) Homepage Journal

    "[E]nergy companies [are feeling] the pinch from...weak demand..."

    "[M]any EU countries...are facing an energy capacity crunch"

    The above two quotes contradict each other. The first says there's weak demand, but the second says there's a "capacity crunch" (a shortage) which means there's too much demand. So which is it, a surplus of energy or a shortage of energy? It can't be both.

    Resolving this contradiction will lead to the real problem. Then we can think about ways to solve it.

  • TFA is factually wrong on many counts.

    The main reason we don't get new reactors in most european countries are political, not economical. In fact, power companies are doing fine and nuclear power is highly subsidized, mostly indirectly. New plants are expensive only on paper.

    But the political culture has moved many countries into a very strange corner. Because the public dislikes nuclear power and wants it gone, but politicians don't (bribery, lobbyism, desire for energy-independence or wisdom in planning t

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. -- Albert Einstein

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