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Nuclear and Coal; Different parts of the same side of the same coin...

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by nwdiver, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

    Feb 17, 2013
    United States
    #1 nwdiver, Nov 29, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2014
    So here's something that's somewhat obvious to those working in the nuclear industry... with the exception of a few companies like Exelon and Areva the VAST VAST majority of companies that operate nuclear plants also operate a LARGE number of coal fired plants.

    The PR arm of the nuclear industry is the NEI... they receive their funding from members like Duke Energy.

    Duke Energy operates over 20 coal-fired power plants. Duke Energy has absolutely no interest in seeing legislation that would hurt its coal fleet and NEI has no interest in losing funding.

    I asked a lobbyist for the company I work for several years ago why the NEI was silent on Cap-and-trade since passage of that legislation would be of enormous benefit to the nuclear industry. Anyone want to guess what I was told?

    Sure, the NEI will talk up the advantages of nuclear power but they will NEVER explicitly compare it to coal; they will NEVER pursue anti-carbon legislation;

    Despite the fact that the nuclear industry does produce clean power it is chalk full of AGW deniers. ~90%+ of my co-workers explicitly deny Global Warming. You can't think of the nuclear industry in the same way as wind/solar. It's part of the utility sector, it has absolutely no desire to displace coal, absolutely no desire to reduce CO2 emissions.

    I would LOVE to see evidence of that... since from everything I've seen, the coal and nuclear industries are VERY close friends...
  2. macpacheco

    macpacheco Member

    Feb 13, 2014
    #2 macpacheco, Dec 3, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014
    You are very correct that many pro nuclear people are not anti coal. Very correct. But that is completely irrelevant.
    The core of my statement is that even the current nuclear establishment has lots to loose from revolutionary nuclear solutions.
    Its the interests of coal mining that are anti nuclear. Same for natural gas extraction.
    Plus the existing nuclear establishment have billions in lucrative solid fuel fabrication contracts with existing / new nuclear reactors. If you buy a GE reactor, you need GE fuel. If you buy a Westinghouse reactor you need Westinghouse fuel. If you buy an AREVA reactor, you need AREVA fuel. Can't shop around. They produce fuels with different sizes on purpose. You are locked in for the rest of that reactor's life.
    Molten salt reactors skip the fuel fabrication step, and radically reduce the level of uranium needed to run a reactor (much less enrichment costs). Those are the largest costs after a water/solid fuel reactor is up and running (total fuel purchase costs).
    Fast reactors could get 100x the electricity already produced from existing nuclear using just spent nuclear fuel, depleted uranium, and existing plutonium stockpiles (for startup). So for every year we run 400GWe worth of nuclear (99% is thermal reactors) we get about 40 thousand tons of depleted uranium + spent nuclear fuel, which is enough to sustain 400GWe worth of fast reactors for 100 years. Fast reactors do take a lot of initial fuel. But we have enough existing SNF+separated plutonium to startup enough fast reactors to add 30% of existing nuclear generation capacity.
    Its not by accident that Westinghouse and Areva have no fast reactor efforts, and GE S-PRISM is mostly a means to replace Yucca/burn plutonium stores. Instead of building the first one in a nuclear friendly jurisdiction on their own pocket, they are shopping around for a country to pay for them to actually learn everything that still needs learning (given they have no demonstration/test reactor).
    Plus we need to consider the fact that billion dollar corporations are uber risk averse. They are not interested in undertaking a 10 years R&D project unless they are 100% guaranteed in its return. Sometimes even if a return is 99% sure they still don't want the 1% risk (success has a much lower payoff for those that decide on it).
    Dear nwdiver, have you actually watched the molten salt reactor videos on youtube ? LFTR is the dream MSR reactor, the DMSR is far less sexy, but far more logical and economical, and safer than LWR/BWR/HWR.
    Of course I don't have proof. But we must face the fact that in the real world suppliers must have a sixth sense of what their customers want in order to avoid loosing their business. This applies to politics / large political contributors, big media / media buyers.
    Plus I just don't see green peace attacking coal like they attack nuclear. Why is that ?

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