Australian news, and some related international items

France’s nuclear energy output falling, as signs of corrosion halt several nuclear reactors

Electricite de France SA has found corrosion on key piping on four nuclear
reactors during recent checks, taking the number of affected units at its
French fleet of atomic generators to nine.

Corrosion issues have forced the French energy giant to halt some of its 56 reactors for lengthy checks and repairs, just as Europe faces its worst energy crisis in half a century.
The state-controlled utility previously said its nuclear output will fall
to the lowest in more than three decades this year and hardly rebound next
year due to the reactor works.

Signs of corrosion were found in pipings of
the Chinon-3, Cattenom-3 and Flamanville-2 reactors, three of the six units
that EDF had decided to check in February, EDF said in a statement posted
on its website last week. Indications of corrosion have also been found at
the Golfech-1 unit during a planned maintenance halt, and deeper checks
will be carried out, the utility said.

 Bloomberg 19th April 2022

April 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Constant cheap renewable power to Britain – the Sahara wind and solar cables

Within five years, the world’s longest undersea cable will link Devon to
a vast territory of solar panels in the Sahara Desert, supplying
electricity directly into Britain’s grid at a fraction of today’s power
prices. A second cable will land two years later in 2029.

Together they will provide 3.6 gigawatts (GW) of constant baseload power, equivalent to
two Hinkley-sized nuclear reactors. The difference is that we will be able
to afford it.

That, at least, is the plan. The £16bn Xlinks Morocco-UK
Power Project – chaired by former Tesco chief Sir Dave Lewis – has an
elegant feature. It combines wind and solar in perfect geographic
circumstances to make near-constant power for 20 hours a day.

Trade winds on the coast of North Africa raise the average “capacity factor” of
onshore wind turbines to 54pc. A desert convection effect creates a regular
wind current in the early evenings and smooths the handover from solar to
wind. “It picks up every afternoon just as the sun is setting,” said
Simon Morrish, the project’s chief executive.

This overcomes the curse of intermittency, with lithium batteries in the desert to cover the remaining
gaps. Xlinks will be a park of 580 square miles at Guelmim Oued Noun on the
28th parallel south of Agadir, picked because it is at the top of the
global horizontal irradiance index. The yield is three times higher than in
the UK. The sun shines for 10 hours a day in winter. “The space is
unlimited. We could in theory put up 500 of these projects in Morocco,”
he said. The consortium is already planning a second hub to power Benelux.
It could multiply the scale several times over for the UK, constrained only
by the safe limits of energy security.

 Telegraph 20th April 2022

April 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The life and slow death of nuclear power plants

The UK government and EDF have pledged 20% of the cost each, but the additional 60% is yet to be found. Some of that is a levy on our electricity bills for a decade before Sizewell generates a single Kwh.

once planning permission is given, construction of a small-scale wind farm, 10MW or less, could take less than two months.

A further elephant in the room is that the costs of new nuclear are highly “back loaded”, i.e., that by building them you commit to high levels of expenditure at the end of their working life, to remove the fuel rods, decommission, remove and store nuclear waste.

The Life and Death of nuclear power plants By NEWSROOM, Apr 18, 2022, By Peter Rowberry with additional reporting by Newsroom

It seems that the policy [in the UK] to build new nuclear power stations has caused some friction at the heart of the cabinet, with the Prime Minister trying to get the agreement of the Chancellor to spend at least £100 billion on eight new nuclear power stations. This didn’t stop the government issuing its energy security strategy last week.

Such a huge commitment merits careful scrutiny. Hinkley Point C was one of eight announced by the British government in 2010 with a nuclear site licence granted in November 2012. EDF’s board approved the project in July 2016 and on 15 September 2016 the UK government approved the project in principle. Construction work on-site began by late September 2016. Completion of the reactor bases was completed in June 2019 for reactor 1 and June 2020 for reactor 2. The two bases required a total of 633,700 cubic feet of concrete.

Hinkley C is the only one of the 2010 eight designated sites to have commenced construction. The UK government strategy paper calls for 8 further new nuclear plants but does not name locations. This is similar to the Brown government’s announcement in 2008 which the coalition government pinned down in 2010. With only 1 of 8 since 2010 actually under construction the conclusion is the new 8 suggested could be decades from coming online.

Earlier costs for Hinkley C were estimated at around £18 billion. The current cost estimate is around £22 to £23 billion, and the first reactor will not be complete until June 2026 at the earliest, and the second at least six months later.

This timetable is currently being reviewed, with a fault found in similar nuclear reactors in China meaning the design may need to be changed. EDF have not commented on whether this will affect the timescale for completing the projectThese delays, and the consequent impact on other nuclear projects, such as Sizewell C and Wylfa, have resulted in serious failures to meet the government obligations to move to low carbon generation and taken up time, time which we are now desperately short of if we are to meet our target of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.

The building of the two reactors that form the Sizewell C project is still not fully financed. Nor has the planning process been completed. All the work in progress so far is on vast quantities of paper and construction cannot commence until Sizewell C plant receives planning permission.

There remains considerable opposition to Sizewell C over the high cost of nuclear energy and environmental issues. The cost of a plant that is over 10 years away from generating power will start hitting electricity bills sometime soon. The BBC reported “Legislation allowing construction and financing costs to be added to customer bills, as Sizewell C is built over the next decade, is due for a second reading in the House of Commons next month.”

The UK government and EDF have pledged 20% of the cost each, but the additional 60% is yet to be found. Some of that is a levy on our electricity bills for a decade before Sizewell generates a single Kwh. The government’s plans to have eight nuclear reactors up and running by 2030 seem naively optimistic. New nuclear is not a quick fix, as our near neighbours will attest. The Finnish reactor, Olkiluoto 3, was started in 2005, but only went onto the grid seventeen years later, on 15 March this year.

Of the eight nuclear power plants announced back in 2010, Hinkley Point C might be generating by 2026 (16 years) and Sizewell C by 2032, subject to planning permission (22 years) None of the other 6 proposed nuclear plants are anywhere near getting off the ground.

France, a country which historically generates a large percentage of its electricity from nuclear, is in the process of building only one new reactor, a third at the Flamanville site. EDF, the state-owned energy giant, began work in December 2007 and the cost was estimated to be €3.3 billion. It is now expected to cost more than €12.7 billion and it is yet to generate a single kilowatt of power.

Continue reading

April 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment