New UK power station to be "most expensive object on earth"


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UK nuclear power plant will be the most expensive object on Earth

It seems way too expensive and economically very irresponsible. A nuclear reactor producing power at a price that will be well above the going rate for power. More expensive than solar, waste and wind energy.


The lifetime budget of the plant is 35 billion. The LHC may have cost $6 billion to build, but it has an operating budget of about $1 billion per year. I trust it will be around another 30 years. This is a weird way to compare stuff.


As the article says, though, Greenpeace’s statement is false, in that Chevron’s Gorgon LNG cost $54bn. And that’s the $54bn that was needed only to start it up, given that it’s just broken down the cost may well be higher.

Hinkley’s certainly extraordinarily expensive, but it’s well within the scope of the various LNG megaprojects, particularly those in Australia. So Hinckley will be about the same price as Ichthys LNG and, possibly if it ever gets built, Petronas’ Pacific NorthWest LNG in Western Canada.


it’s the size of a million elephants, if elephants were the size of a cow!


It’s not bad planning at all - if you accept that the main goal is to put lots of money into the pockets of the nice people who went to school with and play golf with the Conservative Party MPs who are pushing it.

If the goal were to generate power for the country at a reasonable cost, the project would be laughable. But as the goal is the transfer of wealth from the government to already wealthy individuals around the world, it is diabolically efficient.

See also the selling of British Rail to private companies to ‘save the government money’. Now the UK government spends more money subsidizing the myriad private companies than it ever did subsidizing the national rail system and tons of money has been put into the pockets of Conservative Party supporters. At the same time service is worse and more expensive than other similar sized European countries with national rail systems. “Doubles All Round!”


From the article:

Using modern labour rates is not as strange as it might seem. A contemporaneous inscription reveals labourers received 10 loaves of bread and a jug of beer per day. Archaeological evidence suggests the pyramid builders also received meat and fish, and in modern Egypt 10 loaves, a can of Coca-Cola and a portion of beef or fish costs about £4 ($5.80).

Perchance related to our chaotic friend’s writeup.


So what did the Great Wall of China cost to build and maintain for the last 2000 years (in 1985 dollar terms)?


A glorious piece in the latest LRB (£) on the history of the railways in Britain.

It sounds too absurd to be true, but BR really was privatised into fragments set up not so much to compete as to make each part’s work more difficult. The track and stations went to one shareholder-owned company, Railtrack; the rolling stock went to three others; and the operation of the trains was franchised out to a set of bidders, the Train Operating Companies, or TOCs. Railtrack was the most obvious disaster of the privatisation era: an engineering company that started out by sacking most of its engineers, a maintenance company that killed passengers through bad maintenance, a private company dependent on government subsidies, a firm reliant on flawless signalling that committed itself to non-existent signalling technology, a privatised firm that had to be renationalised (as Network Rail) only eight years after privatisation…

…More reality denial: in order to maintain the fiction that private railways are the best, the TOCs have to be made to seem profitable. The only way this can happen without politically unacceptable ticket price increases is by allowing them to pay Network Rail artificially low prices for maintenance and renewal. And the only way that can be done is by allowing Network Rail to borrow money to cover its losses, and the only way that can be sustained is for it to use part of its government subsidy to pay its creditors. In 2014-15, Network Rail, now £34 billion in debt, spent £2.4 billion on doing its job and £2.6 billion on financing its loans. Such is the price of making sure Richard Branson and Deutsche Bahn make a profit by repainting Britain’s trains a different colour every few years…


And this is why we can’t have nice things.


Sing with me (to the tune of Raspberry Beret):

Public Private Partnerships
Public Private Partnerships
Public Private Partnerships
Public Private Partnerships
Privatize, do-dah, do-dah
bailout, bailout, bailout
too big to fail
zippity do da day.

Public Private Partnerships
Public Private Partnerships
Public Private Partnerships
Public Private Partnerships
Privatize, do-dah, do-dah
bailout, bailout, bailout
too big to fail
zippity do da day.

…what, you wanted it to make sense?


sort of flies in the face of the Libertarians that ‘private is better!’ doesn’t it? Unless of course it’s to just make money and give crappy service in which case, it’s perfect!


PPPs - the kind of partnership where one party wears a ball gag.


But Junior Doctors can go fuck themselves…


I’d hardly call a vast complex of multiple buildings an “object.” Is a city an object? A city block?


Why do I get the feeling that the Chinese are using this as an opportunity to prototype a new design for their own reactors far from the Chinese mainland?


I thought it was a new type of fiscal mass rape they’re prototyping.


More or Less debunked this last week.


Despite this huge cost, it’s actually going to be even more expensive than that, because there are two major costs that the taxpayer will also be picking up.

  1. Decommissioning the plant at the end of its life- In the UK, the NDA has been stuck with these costs for all previous nuclear power stations, at an annual cost of around £3billion for who knows how long.

  2. Insurance. Nuclear power plants cannot be insured on commercial terms, so the UK government has agreed to take on all insurance liabilities over £140 million. Yes, million with an M. This is an enormous subsidy each year, with the state accepting potential loss without limit in the worst case scenario.

So it’s clear that this power plant would never be built without an eye-wateringly huge injection of public funds.


Nuclear engineering grad checking in. If you have any technical questions regarding this topic, message me. Nuclear power production is notorious for huge upfront capital costs. It’s important to keep in mind that it is relatively cheap to continue operations once it’s built. And I’ll save rants about the environmentally positive effects of nuclear for another thread. I’m always glad to see nuclear in the news (be it good, bad, or indifferent).