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


#1

[Read the post]


#2

What is so special about this nuclear power plant?


#3

Hinkley or Hinky. I’m thinking hinky.


#4

It’s a Von Neumann probe. It [makes another of itself] (New UK power station to be “most expensive object on earth”) every three days.


#5

Shit, didn’t they just buy the most expensive one last week? Oneupsmanship and keeping up with the Jones will bankrupt them if they aren’t careful.


#6

Nuclear engineering grad here again. I’ll reply to any technical questions you have!


#7

#8

So why such a large price tag? Isn’t this old technology?


#9

the price tag? [though per block it’s in the same ballpark as the other EPRs under construction in Finland and France]


#10

Did the projects main political ally look like this?


#11

Every nuclear plant that I know of was built using the least expensive design that could be legally approved at the time. For example, GE BWRs were advertised as having the thinnest, least costly containment that could possibly be expected to work, and were designed to be decommissioned after a set amount of time (which, of course, they won’t be).

Is this still the case? Or is that too much of an economic as opposed to technical question?

I have been involved with both nuclear weapons and plutonium reactors, but I am not a nuclear scientist by any stretch of the imagination. I strictly worked on the control systems.


#12

Not at all, the European Pressurized Reactor is brand new design. It represents the current state of the art for evolutionary designs. There are two under construction in Europe already, in France and Finland. Both of them have experienced cost overruns and delays; I’m not a European politico or an economist, so I’ll leave the analysis of the why to others. No power plant takes into account the cost of global warming and pollution. A nuclear plant produces no emissions itself, and the carbon footprint of construction, mining, and transport of fuel is far lower than coal or natural gas.

I will also point out that it is technically two objects - they are to build two reactors at the site. The previous two reactors in Europe are single unit plants. You could also consider this plant to be the first western “production” example, with Flamanville and Olkiluoto being prototypes. China is building a two-unit plant, with far lower cost estimates.

It is worth the investment for the global nuclear industry to get the first of this new fleet of plants built. Nuclear power is the only currently available technology to replace fossil fuels in the near term.


#13

If this was Star Trek we could trust the Federation to run nuclear power plants. In the real world nuclear power plants are run by profit driven corporations who put profit before the safety of millions upon millions of lives. Bottom line, they can not be trusted. The track record on nuclear is so bad they this technology can not be used. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima clearly demonstrates that the human race is not ready for nuclear power.


#14

The EPR is orders of magnitude safer than TMI or Fukushima. With a strong regulatory structure I think that they can be built and operated safely.

I would also point out that no one actually died as a direct result of either TMI or Fukushima. TMI also didn’t release a significant amount of radiation offsite. Fukushima was an absolute disaster, and is the result of TEPCO and the Japanese regulators not anticipating tsunami and protecting the plant properly. Regardless, what happened at TMI and at Fukushima is simply not possible under the design of the EPR (and the current generation of BWR and American PWR) - they are all passively safe designs.

Chernobyl is irrelevant to any discussion of western reactors, as it was an inherently unsafe design that would never have been licensed in the west. And it certainly wasn’t operated for a profit, being built by the Soviet Union.


#15

There is no factual basis to this statement whatsoever. It’s simply not true.

The USA could, for far less than we’ve expended on unfunded wars in the middle east, implement a distributed, carbon-neutral methane distribution and consumption infrastructure based on agriculture. We could do it in ten years.

A global solar energy infrastructure is also within the economic and scientific capabilities of the human race. It’d take longer, but still reasonably “short term” and without the military vulnerability that highly concentrated power plants represent.

Either could be done in the same “short term” as total replacement of fossil fuels with nuclear. What is lacking is the will to excellence, and the ability to cooperate.

Given human shortcomings, particularly the spectres of terrorism and war, nuclear is one of the worst choices for terrestrial power generation (though slightly better than coal or deep-sea drilling, admittedly). It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the idea - basically, it’s using hot rocks to make steam, which is a great old antique concept - it’s just the cost/risk analysis sucks compared to things like bio-methane and distributed portfolios comprised of multiple sustainable sources.


#16

We should exploit all of the technologies we have. I haven’t seen an analysis of replacing all of our base load generation in the U.S. with natural gas turbines (it is usually used for peak load generation) and then using agricultural waste as feedstock, but if that would be practical let’s do it. Is methane generation from agricultural waste a mature enough technology to be scaled up to produce enough natural gas?

I will disagree on solar though. The production and installation of thousands of square miles of solar panels, their maintenance, replacement and recycling would produce an immense amount of carbon.


#17

Several people died at Fukushima, although it is customary to blame that on the tsunami rather than TEPCO’s incompetently run nuclear plant. There will be more, since Fukushima and Chernobyl are ongoing disasters; neither one is completely controlled at this time… although it’s nearly a certainty that we will never know how many people have been affected by either one.

The idea that you can know in advance how much natural disaster one should protect against is a logical fallacy. If they were predictable, they would not be disastrous; we’d be prepared.

I strongly agree, as long as we’re not talking about dirty fossil fuels. I don’t think we should stop researching nuclear fission plant design and I think fusion power is a very desirable goal. But terrestrial fission plants are way down at the bottom of the list for economic practicality. No privately owned, privately funded nuclear facility has ever made a profit. Not ever. They have always required taxpayer sponsorship, mostly for the insurance and decommissioning costs, but since 2005 the US taxpayer’s been on the hook for per-kwh subsidies by way of “production tax credits”. Overtly socialist countries without domestic energy reserves (such as France and some of the Scandinavian nations) have a better record than nominally “private” nuclear plants, though.

Yes, but they would displace exponentially more carbon creation. You might find this an interesting read, from a technical standpoint; it goes into some detail about the importance of solar siting when accounting for carbon footprint.

The problem with solar as a local power system is the need for large scale energy storage; it’s certainly doable, but adds tremendously to expense, since the sun occasionally stays hidden for weeks at a time. The problem with globalized solar infrastructure (the sun’s always shining somewhere!) is that humans can’t seem to stop finding excuses to kill each other and smash each other’s stuff. This is a problem also for nuclear; nuclear plants are a super high value military target.

The reasons the USA should be developing agricutural methane production are myriad, but the two principal ones are 1) we’ve already got more than 75% of the national infrastructure required - we have nationwide distribution of heating, refrigeration, clothes drying, and cooking appliances that run on natgas, and we’ve got several very large coastal pipelines and 2) it’s a carbon neutral system that will employ vast numbers of people doing worthwhile, healthy honest work.

If I were in India, I’d be pumping for thorium reactor research. There are very good reasons to think thorium would be a boondoggle in the USA, but India has the stuff laying around everywhere!


#18

People and the environment were irradiated in all cases. There is no way to calculate the long term effects of this persistent radiation exposure.

My primary judgement is that people, especially people in a corporate structure, can not be trusted with when the risks are this high and overarching. In the Soviets case they were more negligent than corporate institutions. This is no conceivable way we can allow any human at this level of global development access to any mid scale nuclear material or devices. Note that I said mid scale. This power plant would obviously be high scale. Nuclear technology should be relegated to the lab and hospitals, no more.


#19

Fission is pretty good for deep space exploration, too. Solar’s a great resource in-system, not so much out past the Oort Cloud.


#20

The large price tag? Corruption mainly.

This government is determined to transfer as much taxpayer money into private profit as possible. The more ludicrously overpriced the project, the more profit to be had.

I bet there’s lots of backhanders and donations to the Tory party in the background.