December 27, 2009
Wind Energy Limits In Britain

A BBC article about the problems with micro wind turbines (in a nutshell: fuggedaboutit) ends up with an analysis of the wind energy potential in the UK. The problem is that Britain isn't big enough to produce enough power from wind to supply the whole (dense) population. This illustrates a larger problem.

Professor David MacKay, the new chief scientist at the Department for Energy and Climate Change, has done the maths on this. Instead of kW, he calculates power in kWh, and he estimates that if we put wind turbines across the windiest 10% of the country, we would generate only 20 kWh per day per person in Britain.

...

Add in offshore turbines covering a third of the available shallow water locations (44,000 turbines) and installing deep water turbines in a 9km-wide strip all round the entire British coast and you get an additional 48kWh day per person.

That's a lot of power, but even on quite conservative estimates the average UK resident uses 125 kWh day.

That 9kn-wide strip of offshore wind turbines all the way around Britain would be much more expensive than onshore wind as well. Plus, hey, sometimes the wind doesn't blow.

Europe is densely populated and it is pretty far north. These two facts are highly problematic for European efforts to gradually phase out fossil fuels in order to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Europe doesn't have enough land to put up enough wind turbines to supply all the power the continent needs. At the same time, solar power still costs too much and Europe is too far north to get enough solar energy during the winter anyway. In much of Europe demand for electric power peaks in the winter (not in the summer like much of the United States). So Europe can't shift over to running purely on wind and solar power.

Since Europe can't run just on wind and solar power either it must bring power in from distant places (whether renewable or fossil fuels) or it has to use nuclear power. The current ban on new nuclear power plants in Germany therefore is impractical.

Even provided enough electric power for all energy needs the migration to a pure electric economy is still very problematic. Airplanes need liquid fuels and liquid fuels are still much cheaper than electric power for vehicles in most cases. There's also still the need for chemical feedstocks. We still need many technological advances in order to migrate away from fossil fuels. Oil's liquid hydrocarbons are especially valuable.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 December 27 09:36 PM  Energy Wind


Comments
th said at December 28, 2009 3:09 PM:

Wind and solar, two milestones of stupidity from the elitist greens, 30 years of wasted time and money over there, I hope an equally lengthy 30 years of deep freeze over there thins the population of these annoying bastards, 2 down and 28 to go.

Nick G said at December 28, 2009 3:55 PM:

David Mackay the physicist at the Cavendish Lab, Cambridge Uni UK, has a try, mainly using British examples, in his book, Sustainable Energy - without the hot air http://www.withouthotair.com/download.html.

I've reviewed Mackay's book, and it's really quite unrealistic. He skews things against wind & solar at every turn.

We can get a clue to his attitude towards renewables from the second quote at the beginning of the chapter on wind, where he quotes Lovelock: "Wind farms will devastate the countryside pointlessly".

Here's an example - he says "if we covered the windiest 10% of the country with windmills (delivering 2W/m2), we would be able to generate 20 kWh/d per person, which is half of the power used by driving an average fossil-fuel car 50 km per day."

Well, that's just goofy. We're not going to power FF cars with electricity, we're going to power electric cars. Further, the average km/day/person in the UK is only 30, so we'd only need 4 KWHs (20% of the figure given) to drive that far.

-----
Neil1947 had the following comments May 6, 2009

MacKay has made a serious error in his calculations of on-shore wind energy resources. In the interests of simplicity he has taken the average wind speed (6m/sec at 10 meters height). In fact the better locations in Scotland and off-shore islands have much higher wind speeds at the 100m hub height of wind turbines(10-12m/sec). This means MacKay has underestimated the potential of these regions by X5-X10. These regions are also distant to villages and more likely to be used in future wind farms once transmission lines are built.
Some of the wind farms initially built were in poorer locations but close to electric transmission lines, so his calculations are not good examples of what is possible in UK.

there's more discussion: http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/5354#more
--------------------
Here's more:
anyone on August 20, 2009 - 4:35pm Sorry I couldn't resist. I just followed the link of that MacKay and first he gives every person 10 m2 of roof area and then claims that there IS only 10 m2 of roof area.

Let’s give every person 10 m2 of expensive (20%-efficient) solar panels and cover all south-facing roofs. These will deliver 5 kWh per day per person. Since the area of all south-facing roofs is 10 m2 per person, there certainly isn’t space on our roofs for these photovoltaic panels as well as the solar
thermal panels of the last section.

Actually, the total area that is used by the households, the service industry and the production industry in Germany is according to the facts: 24,294 km2. http://tinyurl.com/ktt3ke

With a German population of 82,220,000 that leads to almost 300 m2 of built area per person.
And the area covered by roads is another 215 m2 per person.

So a total of over 500 m2 per person of built area in Germany alone.

In addition: This built area obviously does not even include any facade area.

Someone who claims that there is not enough area for a considerable solar hot water or PV production, simply ignores the simple facts.

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5677/531630
------------

Nick G said at December 28, 2009 4:04 PM:

Mackay claims that UK residents use 125KWH/day claim here http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c18/page_104.shtml.

He's talking about "“primary energy” (which means the energy contained in raw fuels, plus wind and hydroelectricity)". That's so inaccurate that it amounts to deliberate deception: the number of KWH's needed to replace primary energy is roughly one third as large, due to heat-engine inefficiency.

Randall Parker said at December 28, 2009 6:06 PM:

Nick,

You can't put solar panels on the roads and I think we'll be waiting a long time before we can. So that would leave us with 300 m2. But note how in the US the utilities are building solar farms out in the deserts. Why? Mainly because it is far cheaper to do so. Roofs are hard to work on top of. Power cables have to be run thru existing buildings. Labor and materials are more expensive.

Also, PV isn't providing power in the UK when demand peaks - the winter.

The UK can do more with wind because wind blows at night and in the winter. But offshore wind costs more. This is not a cheap solution. The UK is small and so offshore is necessary.

Nick G said at December 28, 2009 10:31 PM:

You can't put solar panels on the roads

Yeah, that was "anyone"'s idea, and I agree that doesn't make sense. I'll have to edit that...

in the US the utilities are building solar farms out in the deserts. Why? Mainly because it is far cheaper to do so.

PV doesn't have that kind of dramatic economy of scale. OTOH, CSP does. So, utilities do CSP, and customers do PV.

Roofs are hard to work on top of. Power cables have to be run thru existing buildings. Labor and materials are more expensive.

That's not the case for industrial/commercial flat roofs - they're really pretty ideal environments: big, safe, with nearby wiring. Most rooftop PV installations in California are residential, but most KWH's are I/C.

More later...

LL said at December 29, 2009 7:19 AM:

This article takes the total production of a single technology and show that it alone can not solve energy needs and therefore is a failure. I think this is a very narrow minded approach and obviously the wrong one to take.

For the purposes of green energy we should be looking at a combination of Wind, Solar, Hydro, Geothermal and BioFuels. Taken all of these together what is the likelyhood of eliminating the dirty fossil fuels? It is certainly a lot more feasible than just wind alone. Now what if we also throw Nuclear into the mix? Now it must seem a lot easier to do.

Throw in a few Natural Gas plants and (clean as possible) Coal plants and now you have a decent energy mix that can also hedge against any one of the sources increasing rapidly in costs.

anonyq said at December 29, 2009 8:05 AM:

Utilities can't build PV on roofs because roofs, even PV roofs, are a small part of the cost of a building so utilities have to negotiate with the owners for work. This just makes it to difficult and expensive. But owners can do PV a lot cheaper because they don't have the negotiating hassle with themself.

If you look at the yearly peak than it is obvious in the winter, but if you look at the daily peak than PV is nearly ideal.

Smallness isn't important. Population density is and the UK is densely populated which makes it almost impossible to be self-reliant.

Bruce said at December 29, 2009 8:06 AM:

Germany subsidizes PV at 30-50 cents per kWh. I'm not paying 50 cents per kWh for electrcity just so fanatics can stop plant food from being generated.

Nick G said at December 29, 2009 8:42 AM:

Randall,

LL has a good point: Mackay commits the common error of evaluating wind's contribution as if we might expect it to provide 100% of grid requirements, when I don't think anyone would contemplate wind providing more than 50-60% of total KWH's, even with a 100% renewable grid.

The UK is small and so offshore is necessary.

I don't think we have the data to say that yet. It certainly looks like we can't rely on Mackay's analysis: everything he does appears to be inaccurate by orders of magnitude.

Bruce said at December 29, 2009 10:14 AM:

Nick, why attack mackay (other than that being the usual tactic)?

He provides a chart summarizing the reports of 5 different groups "Estimates of theoretical or practical renewable resources in the UK".

http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c18/page_107.shtml

Onshore wind ranges from 1 kWh per day to 2.6.

Offshore is 4.6,4.6,4.6, 6.4 and the outlier 21.

As he said, "Average European consumption of “primary energy” (which means the energy con-
tained in raw fuels, plus wind and hydroelectricity) is about 125 kWh per
day per person. The UK average is also 125 kWh per day per person."

6-8kWh out of a needed 125kWh with one outlier at 22kWh out of 125kWh.

5 - 6% (and one outlier WAG of 17%). Not your fantasy island 50-60%.


You just make stuff up Nick.

Randall Parker said at December 29, 2009 10:27 AM:

LL,

My argument is that if Britain is to end all use of fossil fuels it must embrace nuclear power. I am making a very similar point to this:

For the purposes of green energy we should be looking at a combination of Wind, Solar, Hydro, Geothermal and BioFuels. Taken all of these together what is the likelyhood of eliminating the dirty fossil fuels? It is certainly a lot more feasible than just wind alone. Now what if we also throw Nuclear into the mix? Now it must seem a lot easier to do.

But I am focused on Britain. Out goes biofuels because the place is too small to feed itself, let alone grow biofuels. Geothermal? A Swiss government is prosecuting a Swiss engineer for an earthquake he allegedly caused:

A SWISS geologist on trial for causing earthquakes while drilling for hot rocks to produce clean energy has said he was surprised by the strength of the most powerful tremor.

Markus Haering, who designed the geothermal project, rejected allegations that he deliberately damaged properties, saying local people knew the risks.

So scratch geothermal. Companies in Europe and Britain will be afraid to touch it.

What's next? Solar costs too much and doesn't work at night or during short winter days in places as far north as London, let alone Edinburgh. Solar's contribution will therefore remain small in Britain.

How about hydro? Britain doesn't have tall mountains being drained by massive rivers. That leaves tidal energy. There's small potential for that. But not enough to make a big difference.

So Britain ends up with wind. But it has to be offshore mostly because the country is too densely populated.

All the non-nuclear non-fossil fuels energy sources can't provide Britain with all the energy it needs. It will need nuclear power.

Nick G said at December 29, 2009 11:32 AM:

Bruce,

why attack mackay

I'm not attacking him personally, I'm disproving his arguments and demonstrating a consistent bias.

You just make stuff up

Now that is ad hominem.

As he said, "Average European consumption of “primary energy” (which means the energy con-
tained in raw fuels, plus wind and hydroelectricity) is about 125 kWh per
day per person. The UK average is also 125 kWh per day per person."

The UK average electrical consumption is 16 kWh per day per person. That 16 KWH takes about 50KWH equivalent in primary energy to generate. To include the 34KWH waste heat in the figure is simply dishonest. Further, the other 75KWH is used to do things that it would be highly wasteful to use straight electricity for.

As a prime example, UK housing is incredibly under-insulated: the sensible energy strategy for the UK is to insulate housing, and use air-based heat pumps instead of resistance heating (which are 3-4 times more efficient).

If I have time, I'll review the other references from Mackay that you reproduced (I'm not hopeful that they'll be high quality). I'm puzzled, though - why not use Mackay's higher figure of 20 KWH? Further, have you looked at what Neil1947 had to say above?

Nick G said at December 29, 2009 12:01 PM:

"The UK’s outstanding tidal resources could provide at least 10% of the country’s electricity." per http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/pages/tidal-power.html . That's significant.

Solar costs too much...wind...has to be offshore mostly because the country is too densely populated.

These are social choices for the population of the UK. The wind (probably even limiting it to just on-shore) and solar resources are large enough. Further, they're easier to develop fast, especially wind - that has a value of it's own.

I think it's likely that the UK and Europe will use everything, including nuclear and coal. I just find it hard to get enthusiastic about nuclear, given the weapons proliferation risks demonstrated by Iran.

Which is more important - keeping wind turbines out of the view, or limiting weapons proliferation by example? That's a difficult social choice. I think making one's view the highest priority (and choosing to view wind turbines as unattractive, for that matter) is a mighty short-sighted approach, but that's just me.

Bob Badour said at December 29, 2009 12:43 PM:
limiting weapons proliferation by example

That's the most futile wishful thinking I have seen in a long time. Even if we all forswore nuclear energy, Iran would want nuclear weapons.

Nick G said at December 29, 2009 2:21 PM:

Even if we all forswore nuclear energy, Iran would want nuclear weapons.

Actually, I don't really think they do want them. Instead, I think they want the option of having them - a bit like Japan, perhaps.

The problems:

1) they can't guarantee successor regimes will be rational, and

2) other countries, especially in the Middle East, are following their example, out of fear, competitiveness or a desire for nuclear status.

Why does our example matter? Because if we have nuclear power (and weapons), attempting to deny them to other countries is obvious hypocrisy, imperialism, colonialism, or some such thing. We just look like idiots. That's why we've been unsuccessful in dealing with Iraq. If we didn't have nuclear power (and weapons) then it would be infinitely easier to deny centrifuges to Iran. Heck, the particular kind of centrifuges that were needed wouldn't even exist.

If we rely on nuclear power, we look like idiots suggesting that other countries rely on renewables. If we make renewables work, we develop and prove the technology and engineering needed to make it work.

Further, if we develop and prove the technology and engineering needed to make renewables work, we have something we can actually export to any country in the world. Wouldn't it be nice to do something about the trade deficit that caused this current recession, instead of developing software and hardware that can't be exported?

Finally, how did we get the idea that nuclear weapons have disappeared? Sure, there are other threats in the world, from grey nano-goo to PO to CC, but there are still thousands of nuclear weapons in the world that could be launched in 45 minutes. That's important, and wishful thinking about the intentions and rationality of other countries won't make it go away.

Nick G said at December 29, 2009 2:27 PM:

Oops. "That's why we've been unsuccessful in dealing with Iraq" should be "That's why we've been unsuccessful in dealing with Iran".

Bruce said at December 29, 2009 2:33 PM:

Nick, "85% of UK households use natural gas for home heating".

http://www.environmental-protection.org.uk/air-quality-and-climate/air-quality/solidfuel/

The UK now imports 51% of its gas needs. That amount will keep going up.

http://www.upstreamonline.com/live/article202201.ece

In 10 years it will 80-90%.

The 125kWh includes NG for home heating as well as gas/diesel for vehicles.

If those NG imports are cut off, what will the UK do? Heat homes with non-existant electricty from non-existant wind farms?

Nuclear would be a better choice to replace the NG now imported.

th said at December 29, 2009 3:47 PM:

The best silicon-based solar PV efficiency in the seventies was mid teens, in 2009, it's 22%, the best thin film is 19%, the best NASA comes up with is a 40% that no one can afford, the best dc/ac converter wipes out 20% of the 20%, , looks like no progress at all to me, this with all the billions spent.
Since the greens and the East Anglia zero-carbon fanatics probably already know this, the phrase from Alice in Wonderland is no exaggeration in describing their state of mind,

"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?"

and these idiots think they are going to fix the energy problem.

Nick G said at December 29, 2009 4:00 PM:

th,

Solar PV panels cost $30/Wp in 1980, now it's $1/Wp.

That's progress.

th said at December 29, 2009 4:05 PM:

It's also interesting to note that once Britain became a net importer of oil about 10 years ago, they lost a huge source of welfare funding, no wonder that a country about to adopt sharia law can't get anything else right either.

th said at December 29, 2009 4:12 PM:

nickg, if its still not practical in most of the world, who cares how cheap it is?

Nick G said at December 29, 2009 4:17 PM:

Bruce,

85% of UK households use natural gas for home heating

That's interesting - it's higher than I thought. I have the impression that 20-30 years ago the majority of UK home heating was electric resistance. I'd note that your second reference say's it's 2/3. It would be nice to find something authoritative - I looked a bit, but it didn't pop up.

The UK now imports 51% of its gas needs. That amount will keep going up.

True. Fortunately there's a decent chance LNG will stay cheap.

The 125kWh includes NG for home heating as well as gas/diesel for vehicles.

Direct burning of NG for home heating probably makes a lot more sense than resistance electric, whatever the generation fuel. As I said before, UK housing is incredibly under-insulated: the sensible energy strategy for the UK is to insulate housing, and use air-based heat pumps instead of resistance heating (which are 3-4 times more efficient). I would also note that electric vehicles use about 20% as much energy as gas/diesel vehicles (because electric motors are about 5x as efficient - more so in the US).

If those NG imports are cut off, what will the UK do? Heat homes with non-existant electricty from non-existant wind farms? Nuclear would be a better choice to replace the NG now imported.

That's an odd question, because wind farms can be built much, much faster than nuclear. The UK will struggle to provide sufficient electricity without very large NG imports, and I expect it to maximize all other sources, including wind and nuclear as well as coal. As far as short-term UK economic interests are concerned, that's the smart strategy.

Nick G said at December 29, 2009 4:22 PM:

th,

if its still not practical in most of the world, who cares how cheap it is?

If it's cheap enough, it will be practical in all of the world.

PV's only downside is cost.

Nick G said at December 29, 2009 4:26 PM:

correction: PV's primary downside is cost. Even if it's very cheap, solar's intermittency will probably limit it to 20%-50% of overall KWHs (unless, of course, it's essentially free.)

bane said at December 29, 2009 4:59 PM:

I'm completely perplexed by NickG's comments. Firstly he claims that "Mackay commits the common error of evaluating wind's contribution as if we might expect it to provide 100% of grid requirements": could you point to any writing by him where he says that? In his book he multiple times stacks up all the energy used and stacks up all potential sources and compares them. Secondly, the most important point about his book is that he's providng HIS detailled-derivation "estimate figures" and challenging disputers to respond with THEIR figures. Unfortunately NickG seems to use almost exclusively on verbiage (like "The wind (probably even limiting it to just on-shore) and solar resources are large enough.") along with the occasional vague "order of magnitude" thrown in. Given that it's easy to conflate different this into a misleading confused "argument" by doing this, that's precisely what his book was trying to get people out of the lazy habit of doing (as discussed in the foreword).

I'd love his conclusions to be shown to be erroneous (genuinely I would), but to do that you have to actually work on a numerical argument of approaching the unambiguousness of his. (Do it on a different web-space and just post a link here by all means.)

th said at December 29, 2009 5:14 PM:

nickg, if this is possible in even the next 100 years, which is more likely, it would be real progress,
http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/1329/

The biggest problem isn't cost, its, does it work. What good is a cheap source of clean nothing in a bazillion-watt world? One of the many objections greenies have had to fossil fuels is its lack of efficiency, take a good look at your stuff. ICE engines, coal generation, the grid etc. are still at least 3 to 5 times more efficient than wind and solar, fossil fuels inefficiency is irrelevant because of abundance, your stuff doesn't have that luxury, using the source efficiently is of much greater importance, isn't it, or is the plan making due with much less?

Bruce said at December 29, 2009 7:40 PM:

NickG: "because wind farms can be built much, much faster than nuclear."

Did you read the quote: "Add in offshore turbines covering a third of the available shallow water locations (44,000 turbines) and installing deep water turbines in a 9km-wide strip all round the entire British coast and you get an additional 48kWh day per person."

So far, 228 turbines have been built offshore in the UK.

http://www.bwea.com/ukwed/offshore.asp

"Modern nuclear reactors need less than 40 metric tons of steel and 190 cubic meters of concrete per megawatt of average capacity."

"Modern wind energy systems, with good wind conditions, take 460 metric tons of steel and 870 cubic meters of concrete per megawatt."

http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/004449.html


Where ya gonna get all the steel and concrete needed for all that windpower?

Bruce said at December 29, 2009 7:49 PM:

NickG: "because wind farms can be built much, much faster than nuclear."

The Hollies Wind Farm, Lincolnshire, England
2x 1.3 MW turbines (yes just 2 x 1.3MW turbines)
Site identified - year 2000
Legal documentation agreed with the landowner - 2001
Surveys and environmental report preparation - 2002
Planning application submitted - 2003
Planning permission considered by local planning authority - 2003-2005
Planning consent granted on appeal - 2005
Grid connection agreement completed - 2005/2006
Contract with turbine manufacturer placed - 2006
Constructions starts - 2007
Generation starts - 2007

http://www.windenergyplanning.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-build-a-wind-farm/

LL said at December 30, 2009 8:36 AM:

Randall,

I agree with your comment that Nuclear is really the larger option to move away from dirty fossil fuels. My comment was not Britain specific so your point that some of the renewable options are not as viable there is a valid one.

-LL


The one comment I would add for this board is that it is important to think in terms of the EU rather than Britain alone. Smart grid technologies are something that needs to be heavily invested in. While building wind farms may be faster than a nuclear plant the fastest way to close a dirty coal plant in Britain would be to purchase clean power from neighbor that may have surplus wind or nuclear capacity.

I know the goal is to remove all fossil fuels, but I think the best method is to take a multi step approach.
-Priority 1 is to close the dirtiest coal plants. In order to do this the ideal would be to it replace with a wind farm or Nuclear, but until their capacities are online, it may be best to replace it with a Natural gas plant or power purchased from a neighbor country. (Possible a clean coal plant but this is debatable)

-Priority 2 would be then to replace the Natural gas plants with Nuclear/Wind/Clean grid power.

With this approach the closing of the dirtiest plants can happen the quickest, and air for most Britains would be clean and you can reap the health benefits that come with that.

***with regard to clean coal, the my idea is to reduce the pollutants in the air (with the scrubbers)and gain the health benefits from that. I do acknowledge that it still produces a lot of CO2 and mining process is not clean either. Again the intent is for a stop gap technology to speed up the removal of dirty coal plants. 'Clean coal' is something the mining indutry/unions wont oppose since it wont affect then as much as going nuclear with gas, so there are a few political benefits.

Randall Parker said at December 30, 2009 9:04 AM:

LL,

Understood.

My take on new coal plants: They should have very high requirements for efficiency. That way less coal would be used per kwh of electricity.

European grid: But there's no obvious European provider of clean energy except France with its many nuclear power plants. It is my impression that all that nuclear power is currently already utilized.

Britain, being an island, has more potential to build wind offshore than many European countries with much smaller coastlines. The European mainland, with a few southern exceptions, needs nukes even more than Britain does.

Bruce said at December 30, 2009 9:07 AM:

LL, the market seems to be causing a move to NG for electricity in the UK.

"According to a recent report by Reuters, electrical plants in the U.K. are increasingly relying on natural gas to generate the base load power instead of coal.
This is obviously being driven by the current surplus of natural gas, which has taken away the arbitrage opportunities and kept prices within a range that makes it economic to use the more environmentally friendly fuel."

And why is this happening? Marcellus! Shale gas.

"All the liquefied natural gas that was destined for American shores is obviously not needed these days and is finding its way to Europe – particularly those countries seeking to decrease their dependence on Russia as primary supplier."

http://www.canada.com/business/Morning+Memo+Pricing+spurs+switch+natural+generating+electricity/2263858/story.html

The UK should be really thankful for the hard work doen by US companies who decided to invest billions in unlocking US gas shale.

I suspect "Peak NG" scaremongering will be ramped up by greenies to try and stop this switch to a cheap cleaner fuel.

anonyq said at December 30, 2009 11:07 AM:

Bruce,

Shale gas is a play of the last year or two and not somuch in the UK (Do they have shale). The gasification of electricity in the UK has been happening since privatization. It has more to do with the low risk of a gas plant because the electricity price is coupled to the gas price

Any welder can weld the foot of a windmill. That is simply not true for a high pressure vessel. Also the steel quality is different so simply equating one number with the other is incorrect.

Construction time for a wind farm was 1 year to find site and get the land. 5 years to survive government red tape and 1 year to build. Building a nuclear plant isn't done in a year, not even close. I expect red tape to take much more than 5 year when you deal with a nuclear plant. And finding a site also takes much longer as you need to deal with the 100 year life time of a reactor (10 years to build + 50 years operation + 50 year of cool down)

Nick G.

Nuclear power is limited to 60% of consumption because it cost to much to provide peak load. See for example France.

Bruce said at December 30, 2009 7:48 PM:

54 months for 1650MW reactors in Frace. And EUR 3 cents/kWh.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf40.html

And France does do Load-Following.

You can even watch the load: http://www.rte-france.com/htm/an/accueil/courbe.jsp

anonyq said at December 31, 2009 7:41 AM:

But it mostly does load dumping.

In other words exporting nighttime production to non nuclear heavy countries

anonyq said at December 31, 2009 8:13 AM:

54 months. That is 4 years and 6 months from the day construction starts. Compared with your data about Hollies Wind Farm.
Constructions starts - 2007
Generation starts - 2007

ps. The reactor vessel nozzle support ring was forged by JSW in 2006 so construction didn't start in 2007 but 2006 and the schedule slipped 9 months so now it is at least 63 months.

Engineer-Poet said at December 31, 2009 8:33 AM:

Quoth Nick:

If we rely on nuclear power, we look like idiots suggesting that other countries rely on renewables.
We have the technical capability to use PWRs safely; most third-world nations don't.  It is extremely difficult shading to impossible to use PWR fuel (fresh or spent) to make effective weapons (crude bombs which cannot be stored, maybe), so that's not setting a bad example.  Supplying the world with nuclear power using something like denatured molten-salt reactors (DMSRs) would be even less of a proliferation risk while being within the capability of almost any nation to run.

th's trolling is just stupid.  He's comparing the efficiency of PV against ICE while trying to obscure the fact that sunlight is free while oil is nearly $80/bbl.  I wish Randall would just block his IP, because all he does is decrease the general intelligence level; I haven't seen him stir up a worthwhile question yet.

Bruce:  We've had the discussion about load-following in France, and it looks like it's not true.  France trades with Swiss hydropower plants, but that's not the same.  On the other hand, nice mountainous Switzerland has plenty of room for more hydropower.  Here in the USA we'll have to use other things.

Bruce said at December 31, 2009 8:50 AM:

EP ... I never believe anything you say.

Bruce said at December 31, 2009 8:39 PM:

anonyq. Load Dumping?

"This means that RTE can depend on flexible load following from the nuclear fleet to contribute to regulation in these three respects:
1. Primary power regulation for system stability (when frequency varies, power must be automatically adjusted by the turbine),
2. Secondary power regulation related to trading contracts,
3. Adjusting power in response to demand (decrease from 100% during the day, down to 50% or less during the night, etc.)

PWR plants are very flexible at the beginning of their cycle, with fresh fuel and high reserve reactivity. But when the fuel cycle is around 65% through these reactors are less flexible, and they take a rapidly diminishing part in the third, load-following, aspect above. When they are 90% through the fuel cycle, they only take part in the first aspect above and essentially no power variation is allowed (unless necessary for safety). So at the very end of the cycle, they are run at steady power output and do not regulate or load-follow until the next refueling outage."

anonyq said at January 1, 2010 3:09 PM:

They sell their electricity to their neighboring countries for a price which is lower than the price of coal. In other words they dump their electricity. Without it other electricity producers in the neighboring countries would make more profit.


EP, I don't trust the management capabilities of the Japanese with PWR's as they have proven themself of being incapable. I only trust the French a bit with them. So is France the only first-world country?

Bob Badour said at January 1, 2010 3:51 PM:

anonyq,

Technically, it's not dumping unless they sell it for a price which is lower than the price of producing electricity by nuclear means. Otherwise, it's just cheaper.

Bruce said at January 2, 2010 9:26 AM:

anonyq, France's costs are low. They can sell for lower prices. Their biggest advantage is that they build the same plant over and over again until they bring out a new model. Essentially an assembly line. Every one of the USA's plants are essentially a new unique model.

"All French units are now PWRs of three standard types designed by Framatome - now Areva NP (the first two derived from US Westinghouse types): 900 MWe (34), 1300 MWe (20) and 1450 MWe N4 type (4). This is a higher degree of standardisation than anywhere else in the world. (There have been two fast reactor - Phenix which ran for over 30 years, and Super Phenix, which was commissioned but then closed for political reasons.)"

Engineer-Poet said at January 2, 2010 9:28 AM:

Alan Drake at The Oil Drum has looked at the claims that French nuclear plants load-follow.  He says they don't, with data to prove it.

Refusing to believe anyone who doesn't adhere to your ideology is a great way to maintain ideological purity, but it's very brittle in response to changing facts and can lead to a catastrophic failure of your system.

anonyq said at January 2, 2010 12:03 PM:

Selling for a price lower than production is dumping and that is what the French do. Production cost maybe low but they are not that low

Bruce said at January 2, 2010 9:37 PM:

EP: Adam the commenter says: "So "load following" by French nukes just barely works"

You pretending to be Adam or whoever Adam is ... claims it does work but just barely.

You pretending to be EP says Adam says they don't load follow.

Again, EP, I never ever believe anything you say.

Alan appears to be a one time builder of part of a streetcar line. Is a nuclear engineer? An expert on anything other than starting an advocacy group?

Engineer-Poet said at January 3, 2010 7:16 AM:

Okay, Bruce has officially gone into paranoid delusions, believing that I'm faking a bunch of identities to try to confuse him.  (I can't even find a commenter named "Adam" in this thread.  Either that, or he's referring to the TOD thread in which comments closed months ago, so he's believing I can go back in time to confuse him.  I'm putting a "buy" on tinfoil-hat manufacturers.)

anonyq:  The marginal cost of a kWh in a nuclear reactor is essentially the price of the fuel.  That cost is what, a fraction of a cent per kWh?  Also, a plant which can't shut down for short periods isn't "dumping" if it continues to operate.

anonyq said at January 3, 2010 2:01 PM:

You can't use the marginal cost to claim it isn't dumping. You have to add depreciation.

ps. I was talking about dumping in the economic sense. Not any other

Bruce said at January 4, 2010 11:38 AM:

EP: I meant Alan. (I got it right in the last sentence) You refer to Alan's comment on the Oil Drum site. It was YOUR reference.

People who build streetcar lines are not experts on Nuclear Power.

And I assume you are Alan. He fits your profile. "Engineer", deluded.

Engineer-Poet said at January 4, 2010 12:51 PM:

Unless the depreciation is a variable cost, it doesn't matter.

So long as the plant operates at a profit over the 24-hour period and cannot be throttled to meet minimum demand, I don't see how selling at a loss off-peak is "dumping".  Dumping is selling at an uneconomic price, and clearly the act is economic.  It's like wind farms selling at a negative price at times; they still get their PTC and the net revenue is greater than the marginal cost (roughly zero) so it's not dumping.  The rational thing to do is to use e.g. larger DHW tanks to take advantage of the excess supply.

anonyq said at January 4, 2010 5:11 PM:

In the long run all costs are variable and France made the decision to build nuclear plants with the knowledge that they could export. So you have to add deprecation and with it nuclear plants are not economic for exporting nighttime electricity. So it is definitely dumping.

Engineer-Poet said at January 5, 2010 6:32 AM:

"all costs are variable"?  Including interest?  Sorry, you fail.

Engineer-Poet said at January 5, 2010 6:50 AM:

I just noticed Bruce's LOL-worthy paranoia above.  Alan Drake is a streetcar advocate who lives in New Orleans.  I'm a software engineer who works in safety-critical systems, and I've never even been to New Orleans (I'm not sure I've even been in Louisiana in my life, certainly not in the last 30 years).  Bruce is an idiot.

anonyq said at January 5, 2010 10:21 AM:

In the long run all cost are variable as everything wears out and needs replacing. At the time of replacement there is the moment of will i invest in this and t that moment that cost is a variable. This also includes interest

Engineer-Poet said at January 8, 2010 6:21 PM:

Some things wear out in proportion to use.  Some things wear out by the calendar.  And some things don't wear out meaningfully over the service life of whatever they're part of.

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