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“Western Nuclear” is in deep troubles.

This has been seen again and again.

We must conduct a proper post mortem and find out why.
First the obvious symptoms:
– Cheapest nuclear power from an ‘old system’ (Sweden): € 26/MWh
– Cheapest nuclear power from new power plants (Korea): € 27/MWh
– Most expensive new nuclear power (Hinkley Point C): € 124/MWh
– Russia: “Guarantee” 2017 50 €/MWh
Kina, Russia and Korea are able to follow plans.
Both costs and timetable.

We have to analyze the horrifying symptoms and I have tried to come forward with the following:
– Why it is so expensive:
– How the exaggerated demands for safety undermines the economy:

The Market ?

Is it because we are locked into a capitalistic thinking and will, at all costs, avoid government investments?

From The Energy Collective
Edward Kee, February 23, 2017, I quote, extract and modify:

– – – – However, consolidating, standardizing and scaling require:
– Selection of a “winning vendor” – around which the industry can
– Selection of a “winning design” – around which the industry can
standardize; and
– Large need for new nuclear capacity to facilitate scale.
– Government determination.

– –The examples of where this has been done are limited.
– France until mid-1980s (when N4 designs started construction)
– South Korea
– China
– Russia and
– Probably also Sweden.

– –What these examples have in common are:
– Government ownership of nuclear power industry.
(Easy to decide on vendor and reactor design.)
– Government control of electricity industry.
(Captive customer for nuclear power plants).
– Need for capacity.
(Large and growing demand for power).
– An industry, allowed to getting things done.


– –The market approach to nuclear power, whether in U.S. or elsewhere in the world, involves:
– Vendors competing for market share.
– Reactor designs being developed by these vendors to meet buyer
preferences and/or requirements.
– Ever changing government demands and regulations.
– And, building units as possible (i.e., when buyers make investments.)

To make matters worse

Private investors will obviously be afraid of being treated as in Germany.
It may be difficult to find out:
– Shall we go for the extreme? – Both price and security.
(as in England.)
– Shall we go for something realistic?
(as now in Finland and different East European countries.)
– Shall we just wait and see?
– Will it be possible to find the necessary (private) investment?
(Except for the rich Gulf-states.)
It is trumped, that nuclear (in the west)
will be extinct.


What can be done to get out of the iron-grip of those who, just per automatic, say no No NO as soon as they hear the word nuclear?

Dear unknown reader

I need your input and hopefully constructive comments.
Write to me at

Thorkil Søe


From a long, but interesting article in The Economist Feb. 2017, I quote:
– –Paradoxically, that means:
The more states support renewables, the more they will have to pay for conventional power plants, too, using “capacity payments” to alleviate intermittency.


Now we ask: Does nuclear has a future in the west (US)

From The Economist 2017 Feb. 25

I have made major changes in the lay-out:
Mainly headings and line-shifts.
My additions and comments are marked as “indented text” with bullets.
Sometimes, I have used square brackets [ ]


ALMOST 150 years after photovoltaic cells and wind turbines were invented; they still generate only 7% of the world’s electricity.
Yet something remarkable is happening.

  • If the grid has less than say 10 % of the supply from the unstable renewable, this renewable can be incorporated in the system without major problems.
    Above this it starts to act as parasites.

From being peripheral to the energy system, just over a decade ago, they [the renewables] are now growing faster than any other energy source and their falling costs are making them competitive with fossil fuels.

  • As usually it is not discussed, how the varying and partly unpredictable renewables, should pay for the necessary backup.

BP, an oil firm, expects renewables to account for half of the growth in global energy supply over the next 20 years.
It is no longer far-fetched to think that the world is entering an era of clean, unlimited and cheap power.

About time, too

There is a $20trn drawback, though.
To get from here to there, we will require huge amounts of investment over the next few decades, to replace old smog-belching power plants and to upgrade the pylons and wires that bring electricity to consumers.

  • $20trn, as an investment, would bring us a long way towards nuclear with future clean and reliable power.
  • Here, as usually, it is “forgotten” that very little will be gained with a strong net to distribute what is not there.
    Or better: For obvious reasons, sunshine is synchronized.
    But in spite of green hopes, the wind is almost synchronized as well.
  • On an other website, I discuss the hopeles dream.

The dirty secret

Normally investors like putting their money into electricity because it offers reliable returns.
Yet green energy has a dirty secret.
The more [subsidized] renewables is deployed, the more it lowers the price of power from any source.
That makes it hard to manage the transition to a carbon-free future, during which many generating technologies, clean and dirty, need to remain profitable.
If the lights are to stay on.
Unless the market is fixed, subsidies to the industry will only grow.


Policymakers are already seeing this inconvenient truth as a reason to put the brakes on renewable energy.
In parts of Europe and China, investment in renewables is slowing as subsidies are cut back.
However, the solution is not less wind and solar.
It is to rethink how the world prices clean energy in order to make better use of it.

  • It is difficult to understand why nuclear is excluded from being “clean”.

Shock to the system

At its heart, the problem is that government-supported renewable energy has been imposed on a market designed in a different era.

For much of the 20th century, electricity was made and moved by vertically integrated, state-controlled monopolies.
From the 1980s onwards, many of these were broken up, privatized and liberalized, so that market forces could determine where best to invest.
Today only about 6% of electricity users get their power from monopolies.

The pressure

Yet everywhere the pressure to decarbonize power supply has brought the state creeping back into markets.

This is disruptive for three reasons.
The first is the subsidy system itself.
The other two are inherent to the nature of wind and solar: their intermittency and their very low running costs.

All three help explain why power prices are low and public subsidies are addictive.

1: Substidies

First, the splurge of public subsidy, of about $800bn since 2008, has distorted the market.
It came about for noble reasons – to counter climate change and prime the pump for new, costly technologies, including wind turbines and solar panels.

  • No. I dare to say that it was not noble reasons.
    $800bn became available because we, in the West, had been brainwashed against nuclear.
  • Try to imagine how it would have been now.
    If these $800bn had been used for nuclear, instead of being lost down into a bottomless green hole?
  • If so, it would have been enough to pay for 160 new reactors as those now exported by Korea to UAE

But subsidies hit just as electricity consumption in the rich world was stagnating because of growing energy efficiency and the financial crisis.
The result was a glut of power-generating capacity that has slashed the revenues utilities earn from wholesale power markets and hence deterred investment.

2: Intermittent

Second, green power is intermittent.
The vagaries of wind and sun – especially in countries without favorable weather – mean that turbines and solar panels generate electricity only part of the time.
To keep power flowing, the system relies on conventional power plants, such as coal, gas or nuclear, to kick in when renewables falter.

  • Much too often we see how it is assumed, that the (dirty) coal, and especially the (hated) nuclear, should just kick in and act as back-up for the (bellowed) renewables.
  • Here, it is necessary to come forward with the following:
    1) The physical lifetime of these plants will suffer with frequent
    blaramp-up and down.
    2) After a ramp-down, a nuclear plant will suffer Xenon-poisoning.
    blaIn this way, a quick ramp-up may result in an accident as at
    However, “Western Reactors” are provided with a proper containment.
    Therefore a “Chernobyl Accident” will not cause damage outside the plat.
    3) The costs for power from coal, and especially from nuclear, are
    blamainly fixed costs.
    Elementary economics will show that it is not the best to use coal and nuclear as back-up.
    4) Back-up will usually be hydro or gas-fired plants.
  • Without subsidies.
    If we want to be “green” it must be with very high economic penalties on pollution.
    In an absolutely free market, nuclear would probably be able to manipulate the prices and kill the economics of renewables.
    Just as the subsidies to the renewable is killing the economy of the rest.

3: Investors

But because conventional power plants are idle for long periods, they find it harder to attract private investors.
So, to keep the lights on, they require public funds.

Everyone is affected by this third factor:
Renewable energy has negligible or zero marginal running costs because the wind and the sun are free.

  • It is claimed, but usually neglected, that the wind-turbines, and especially the gears, have a limited life-time, which is markedly reduced during max loads.

In a market that prefers energy produced at the lowest short-term cost, wind and solar take business from providers that are more expensive to run, such as coal plants, depressing power prices, and hence revenues for all.

Get smart

The higher the penetration of renewables, the worse these problems get.
Especially in saturated markets.
In Europe, which was first to feel the effects, utilities have suffered a “lost decade” of falling returns, stranded assets and corporate disruption.
Last year, Germany’s two biggest electricity providers, E.ON and RWE, both split in two.
In renewable-rich parts of America power providers struggle to find investors for new plants.
Places with an abundance of wind, such as China, are curtailing wind farms to keep coal plants in business.

  • Wind farms in northern China are far away from the necessary back-up provided by stable regulated hydro.
    The necessary power lines are not cheap either.


The consequence is that the electricity system is being re-regulated as investment goes chiefly to areas that benefit from public support.
Paradoxically, that means the more states support renewables, the more they [have to] pay for conventional power plants.
Using “capacity payments” to alleviate intermittency

  • Capacity payments has been introduced in England.
    In Germany the talk is about “scheduled black outs”.

In effect, politicians rather than markets, are, once again, deciding how to avoid blackouts.


They often make mistakes:
Germany’s support for cheap, dirty lignite caused emissions to rise, notwithstanding huge subsidies for renewables.
Without a new approach the renewables revolution will stall.
[See also ]


The good news is that new technology can help fix the problem.
Digitalization, smart meters and batteries are enabling companies and households to smooth out their demand — by doing some energy-intensive work at night, for example.
This helps to cope with intermittent supply.

  • Smart meters and variation in prices has been proposed, and rejected, some 40 years ago.
    Anyhow, whatever is done, it will have a limited effect.
  • For the time being, and for the foreseeable future, batteries will not be cheap enough to stabilize the grid for more than very short periods.
  • Much too often we are told, that “Small is Beautiful”.
    If larger plants cannot be economic, it may not be possible for smaller plants.

Small, modular power plants, which are easy to flex up or down, are becoming more popular, as are high-voltage grids that can move excess power around the network more efficiently.

  • Can smart grid save the fluctuating wind power?

  • In the discussion about wind power variation, it is often mentioned that ‘we just’ need to connect countries with a strong network of power lines.
  • April 2016 this problem was addressed by Sören Kjärsgaard.
    He provides a very thorough assessment of the energy situation, especially in Denmark and Germany.
    From this report is quoted as follows:
    It is evident that when you have said Wind power you have to say back-up too.
    Could this back-up be:
    European Wind Power connected by a super grid?
    ——– You find data from Austria, Belgium, Czech Rep.,
    ——– Denmark, Spain, France, Finland, Hungary, Poland,
    ——– Sweden and Germany:
    Over this huge area, the Wind Power fluctuates between
    56,512 MW and 3801 MW (7%).

    The answer will be NO – Unfortunately
    No matter, how much smart grid you get, it can not conjure a stable supply.
  • On another page I have tried to analyze the hypothetical situation assuming Wind Only.
    It should not come as a surprise that it will be extremely expensive.
    If at all possible.

The power market

The bigger task is to redesign power markets to reflect the new need for flexible supply and demand.
They should adjust prices more frequently, to reflect the fluctuations of the weather.
At times of extreme scarcity, a high fixed price could kick in to prevent blackouts.
Markets should reward those willing to use less electricity to balance the grid.
Just as they reward those who generate more of it.
Bills could be structured to be higher or lower depending how strongly a customer wanted guaranteed power all the time – a bit like an insurance policy.

  • Sure, but as mentioned above, it will have a long way to go and will be of minor benefit.
  • Extremely high prices will have a heavy negative social impact – even if it is for shorter periods.

In short, policymakers should be clear they have a problem and that the cause is not renewable energy, but the out-of-date system of electricity pricing.
Then they should fix it.

Atter, 2019-09-21 kommer The Economist med en lang og grundig vurdering.
Naturligvis uden at angive en reel løsning eller påpege de ansvarlige.
The past present and future of climate change.
Humanity will find ways to adapt to climate change.


Tysk solkraft variationFrom Germany: (right)
From the American “Sunshine-states”: (below)Duck curve result (2)
Sure you know: I say go nuclear.
If you say Chernobyl, then look at
If you say Fukushima, then look at
Previously, I have tried to get to the same problem on the following:
Is “Western Nuclear” on its death-bead?
Why did nuclear end up to be so expensive?
Passionately, I claim that we have been cheated by “The Green”
Greenpeace’s Credibility is a Myth.

Mere KK mindre forureningIf you want to avoid (unnecessary) pollution.
Better do as in France.

Og.klik påb For sources and references:
Og.klik påb Click on the yellow and see if you get useful details.
Og.klik påb Click on pictures for more details.
The first part of the following, based on information from World Nuclear.

The cost of removal of installations for nuclear power is very little compared to the value of the power produced at the nuclear power plant.
Still it becomes subject to political plaything.
At least in the discussion.

Broadly, there are four different options.

  • “Now and here”
    Shortly after the shutdown the of the reactor, final demolition will start.
    Of course also, “everything else” such as cooling towers, turbines and administration buildings.
    In this way, the site can be released and it is possible to say that “Everything is forgotten.”
    This solution will naturally be the most expensive.
    How expensive will depend on political decisions about what should be classified as hazardous.
    See further down on this page.
  • “Just, wait a little”
    Of course, the reactor contents (fuel rods and cooling water) will be removed along with anything else that is easy to remove and might find other use.
    In that way: 99% of the radioactive material is removed.
    The radioactivity that remains is mainly due to neutron-activation of steel and others.
    It has a half-life of less than 5 years.
    After some 50 years this radioactivity to be reduced to less than 1/1000 of the initial value and final demolition will only cause political problems.
    Apparently it’s what is done in the United States.

In various media you can see how, with ill-concealed horror, it is reported that the cleanup will take a very long time.
Here, it is likely that this solution is going to be used.

  • “Just let it stay” Reaktor Findland
    The cheapest will obviously be to remove
    “all the loose” and let the reactor containment remain and save costs for demolition, at least for the time being.
    The reactor containment, as seen in the background of the image, will only occupy a very little area.
    But opponents of nuclear power will of course consider this as a symbol of something terrible.
    In order to relate to something else, I note that, in Germany, it has been necessary to destroy huge areas of agricultural land for the strip-mining for brown coal.
  • “Mothballed”
    In the US, several power plants have been (temporarily?) unecunomic.
    Partly by the advent of cheap gas and partly as a result of subsidies for solar and wind.
    Preliminary (2016) it has apparently not been (politically) possible to maintain the power plants for later restart.

In this context, I would mention that, quite a long time ago, I calculated and detailed a parking garage with prestressed concrete.
Shortly later the owner got second thoughts.
He allowed all of it to remain standing.
Because it would be too difficult to demolish.
OK Eventually it has provided space for a residential property.

Ultimately, the choice of strategy will depend on the political climate and the criteria used to specify what will be defined as being dangerous.

Given the above, one is tempted to say that the conditions for demolition should be included in the license for building new plants.
Almost as if it would require an agreement related to a future divorce before you get married.

The confusion is almost total

Here, I quote from World Nuclear.

  • Recycling materials from decommissioned nuclear facilities is constrained by the level of radioactivity in them.
    This is also true for materials from elsewhere, such as gas plants.
    But the levels specified can be very different.
    For example, scrap steel from gas plants may be recycled if it has less than 500,000 Bq/kg (0.5 MBq/kg) radioactivity (the exemption level).
    This level however is one thousand times higher than the clearance level for recycled material (both steel and concrete) from the nuclear industry, where anything above 500 Bq/kg may not be cleared from regulatory control for recycling.

The reactor containment contains thousands of ton of concrete.
If it has to be checked and disposed of as a “dangerous radioactive material”, the costs can easily spiral out of control.

  • There is increasing concern about double standards developing
    in Europe which allow 30 times the dose rate from non-nuclear recycled materials than from those out of the nuclear industry.
    Norway and Holland are the only countries with consistent standards.
    Elsewhere, 0.3 to 1.0 mSv/yr individual dose constraint is applied to workers in the oil and gas industries.
    Compared to 0.01 mSv/yr for workers in the nuclear industry.
    This double standard means that the same radionuclide, at the same concentration, can either be sent to deep disposal or released for use in building materials, depending on where it comes from.
    The 0.3 mSv/yr dose limit for workers in the oil and gas industries is still only one tenth of most natural background levels, and two orders of magnitude lower than those experienced naturally by many people, who suffer no apparent ill effects.

For the record, I would mention that we, all of us carry with us some
4,500 Bq from natural sources and that the natural background radiation that we can not avoid is about 3 mSv/year
Several places considerably more.
BUT In Japan 1 mSv/year is defined as being dangerous.

As can be seen, there is much scope for interpretation and harassment.
All depending og the polical objective.
Especially if the aim is to discredit nuclear power.

From Decommissioning of nuclear power plants (Sweden) I quote:

  • Each year the owners of nuclear power plants pay an agreed sum to a fund that will pay for closure of the power plants.
    The money deposited will stay in the fund’s nuclear waste account with National Debt Office.
    The fee varies between 0.3 and 0.9 öre per kWh (0.1 US cent/kWh)
    Each year payment is fixed by the government.
    It is based on cost estimates from SKB submitted to the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate.
  • Around SEK 500 million flows into the fund annually in this way.
  • The book value of the fund at the end of 2004 was almost
    32 billion SEK.
  • The costs to close down a reactor is a little more than a billion kronor .
  • Despite the fact that nuclear power plants can have a life of 40-60 years, each plant has paid its share to the fund, after a period of 25 years.

The following will hopefully shed more light on the subject:

  • Some of the components two be disposed of in connection with decommissioning are long-lived and so radioactive that they have two be radiation-shielded.
    Such components mainly include control rods and other reactor internals.
    These components comprise only a very small portion of the total volume of decommissioning waste, but account for nearly all the radioactivity
  • We expect that more than 90% of the total shut-down waste can be released for unrestricted use, either directly or after cleaning.
    The exact percentage can not be given today, as it depends on what the conditions for unrestricted release will be.

Just for the record, I mention that a radioactive material can:
Either be “highly radioactive” (e.g. Iodine-131) or:
It can be “long-lived” (e.g. Thorium).
But it can’t be both.

Unless one turns into conspiracy theories, I think the topic is exhausted.

I can not resist

I quote as follows:
Ideally, local environmentalists would let the plant stand.
Although 300 men for over ten years had been engaged in removing the work into small chunks.
As a kind of practical joke the demolition workers recently sent a sack of ordinary fertilizers through the measuring instruments.
There was measured trace of potassium, uranium and lead.
If bag had come from the plant, it should be deposited as “dangerous material”.
But because it came from an ordinary store, the waste could end up in the fields.