free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 343. UK EMBRACES NUCLEAR POWER

Thursday, March 27, 2008

343. UK EMBRACES NUCLEAR POWER

Good news from the UK today:
A government minister will call today for a huge expansion of Britain's nuclear power in what he predicts could be a £20bn economic bonanza that will create 100,000 new jobs and benefit the economy as much as North Sea oil.
As we've known all along here at POD, nuclear will be a key backbone of the post-peak-oil energy regime, and countries which get out in front of it, like France, and now the UK, will derive huge benefits. The title of the article say it all:

Nuclear is UK's new North Sea oil

What happens when the North Sea runs out? You send all the babbling old farts from the oil industry to the nursing home, and replace it with nuclear. Problem solved. Just like Hubbert suggested in his 1956 paper Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels(pdf):
Also nice to see the Minister discussing the economic benefits of a massive nuclear build:
But in his speech to Unite, Britain's largest union, which has 26,000 members in the energy sector, Hutton will attempt to focus attention on the potential economic gains to be achieved from the replacement of Britain's nuclear reactors.

"Just replacing our existing capacity alone will equate to three times the size of the project to build Terminal 5 at Heathrow. It could represent around £20bn worth of business for UK companies," he will say.

"And with no artificial cap to constrain the potential of new build in the UK, there is every reason to believe that the industry could be contributing a significantly higher proportion of the UK in the decades ahead. Creating thousands of long-term highly skilled jobs directly within the energy industry and throughout the supply chain, the prize could be massive."
POD couldn't agree more. The solution to peak oil -- retrofitting and rebuilding our entire energy/transportation infrastructure from the ground up -- is going to be a massive economic stimulus. A process of intense creative destruction, rather like a war, except it will occur during peacetime.
by JD

22 Comments:

At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 5:02:00 AM PDT, Blogger Gareth Doutch said...

How is this going to benefit liquid fuels?

 
At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 5:24:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It won't. But britain has an extensive rail infrastructure.
Given the massive build of nuke and wind underway it is at least conceivable that they may be able to run an electric economy based around nuke & wind as the source with electric rail as the long distance people and freight carrier combined with ocean shipping to ports (britain is ideally placed for this).
Inland delivery of goods could be done via electric truck.

 
At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 8:28:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cars will also benefit from electricity.

Of course all the doomers are going to say we're not going to have the oil to build all these plants or mine the uranium and ship it but they're clueless.

 
At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 12:09:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Babun said...

I don't think it's building the plants that would consume the oil, rather the conversion of the automobile fleet. I'm guessing heavy cars that work with the internal combustion engine won't easily convert into electric cars.

That's a huge lot to replace. I guess you could try to work out some sane recycling thing though. Nevertheless, a huge effort. We haven't just suddenly started using 600 million motor vehicles and that won't happend to electric vehicles either. But yes, i suppose electric vehicles may very well be a factor making declining oil production less harsh.

 
At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 12:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger bc said...

The announcement sounds good on paper, but what exactly is the UK government actually going to do? Any reactors would be funded and built by the private sector. All the government is likely to do is reduce the planning inquiry time (6 years for Sizewell B) and "influence public opinion" - but that's all.

Basically, the announcement is hot air.

The utilities could build now, if they wanted, but they are hoping to squeeze some subsidy and guarantees out of the government, which haggling could go on for a while.

This is similar to the other announcement on wind power in the UK. The government won't be doing anything, just "streamlining" the planning process. NIMBY protesters can still tie up/block the planning.

The tragedy in the UK is that we abandoned strategy to the private sector, while still being lumbered with expensive social provisions like 9 months maternity leave. We tried to steer a course somewhere between deregulated USA and socialist Europe, we may end up with the worst of both worlds.

I am somewhat sceptical the private sector will be doing any massive build out of nuclear, just on cost grounds. It is most likely we will end up more dependent on imported energy, and all the risk that entails.

 
At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 12:16:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Babun said...

But don't fool yourself to believe electric cars and nuclear power could be anything like a future where the economic situation is even close to "business as usual". With a potentially huge new industry that demands loads of oil when the supply is decreasing - this means something else has to give. That would be the existing industry.

What i would be curious about is how many cars are produced yearly at this point and how many smaller electric vehicles might be produced using the same materials / amount of energy.

 
At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 12:56:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Babun said...

Hmm, if the numbers here are correct i'm betting one could replace quite a large percentage of cars annually to electric cars.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_vehicles_in_the_United_States

"In the year 2001, the National Automobile Dealers Association conducted a study revealing the average age of vehicles in operation in the US. The study found that of vehicles in operation in the US, 38.3% were older than ten years, 22.3% were between seven and ten years old, 25.8% were between three and six years old and 13.5% were less than two years old."

If you can replace even 13,5% in two years that's huge. Of course the first years are bound to be quite slow, but in terms of energy usage that looks pretty damn good for the future. I mean that's a whole lot of materials and energy to do electrical vehicles with instead of motor vehicles.

 
At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 4:19:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"'m guessing heavy cars that work with the internal combustion engine won't easily convert into electric cars."

Just take out the engine and do a few other things.

It's so easy even High School kids can do it.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/02/high_school_homework_make_an_electric_car.php

 
At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 9:06:00 PM PDT, Anonymous RySo said...

I know this doesn't have anything to do with this post, but the next article you should dig into the reserve replacement ratios of the 25 or so largest public oil companies around the world. It seems to me that the issue of reserve replacement for the large oil companies has been overblown and isolated to a few of the large companies (Chevron, Total).

Just a thought for your next post

 
At Friday, March 28, 2008 at 8:28:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Babun said...

"Just take out the engine and do a few other things.

It's so easy even High School kids can do it."

Sure, but how effective is it? I'm guessing most regular cars (especially in the US) tend to be quite heavy and that electrical vehicles tend to have a lot less power for propulsion.

 
At Friday, March 28, 2008 at 11:54:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Bob Wallace said...

Misleading title?

Seems to me that one single Minister pitched the idea of building new nuclear plants to a labor union - suggesting lots of new jobs.

That's a long way from the people of the United Kingdom flooding into the streets demanding additional nuclear.

 
At Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 10:16:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good as far as it goes, but let’s remember this is the UK we’re talking about, and the UK nowadays is crap at engineering. So while France will sail into a golden nuclear future and likely end up ruling the world, Britain will collapse into a moonscape of radioactive Chernobyl-like craters as one after another their dodgy reactors go kaput on them due to crap design and rubbish execution, just so the financiers could save a few bucks.

My kitchen is adorned with a toaster made in the UK … and they couldn’t even design that right...

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 at 2:00:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous (Freak Oil)


""Just take out the engine and do a few other things.

It's so easy even High School kids can do it."

Sure, but how effective is it? I'm guessing most regular cars (especially in the US) tend to be quite heavy and that electrical vehicles tend to have a lot less power for propulsion."


In the US if they would let us get more creative with the types of vehicles we could register and insure it would certainly help.

I have a 30 mile range electric scooter that it is illegal to be on the street or sidewalk, I could ride it back and forth to work!!

What if we could put registration plates and insurance on golf carts, or legally ride motor assisted or driven converted bicycles, tricycles or quad-cycles? Less weight means less wasted energy.

as far as conversions check out

www.metricmind.com

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 at 2:09:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous (Freak Oil)

Gareth Doutch said...

How is this going to benefit liquid fuels?

It could offset oil being used where electricity could be used instead; freeing up that supply to go to applications that could only use oil.

As far as vehicle Turn-over it took
about 5 years for Americans to ditch their Honda station wagons, and mini-vans for absurd SUVs.
and building electric motors and control circuitry is far more straight forward and standardized than building the 500 or so application specific Internal-Combustion Drivetrains.

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 at 4:10:00 AM PDT, Anonymous luisdias said...

Jevon's Paradox Refuted:

Hi, JD. Completely Unrelated, but I've been thinking about this stuff, Jevon's Paradox, and I found so many flaws in the reasoning that I simply had to share them, and being this "POD", I thought it would be the best place to do so.

Jevon paradox claims that conservation is not the solution for a scarcity problem because people will save money with conservation and use the double of it, rendering conservation null.

This is ridiculous.

1. The only way JP is true is when the resource is not scarce, and therefore JP is only but the "render" of a normal resource exploration growth and optimization.

People spend less resource to get their purposes, therefore they can get more purposes, therefore economy grows.

When the resource begins being scarce, any optimization that doesn't offset the referred increase in usage growth (and therefore consumption) of referred resource, will result in a bigger pay check in the end of the month for every user, which won't happen forever, people won't want to spend more money when their goal was to save money!

Example: Fred in year 0 spends 1000 dollars in energy cubes. But then he gets the visit of Peak Energy Cubes' witnesses, and he decides to cut his consumption. Year 10 he consumes half the energy. Jevon's idiots will claim that he now has more money to spend and he will spend it in exactly those same cubes (because Matt-knows-it-all says energy=money), but what has been not said is that the PRICE of energy has climbed as the resources have constrained. Therefore, if the price has doubled, he will have exactly the same money he had before, same lifestyle, but, consumes HALF of the ENERGY. If the price has more than doubled, JP is not only refuted, its exactly the opposite that happens, even less energy will be spent.

Therefore, all society can consume much less energy without any JP hammer.

The other obvious flaw is that that even if money is saved, it won't be spent in goods that are so much energy intensive as gasoline and electricity, rendering the entire Paradox nul.

Point in case, JP only works if we accept that money (therefore all the economy) equals energy in a constant way always, which is clearly false: A good stone massage is not nearly as oil intensive as a full tank of gasoline.

What's interesting is that JP is, I think, a kind of a petri-dish yeast parabolization of mankind, teaching us that we are destined to consume more and more and more, and even if we try otherwise, dark obscure mathmatical forces like JP ensures that instead we end up consuming even more!

It's not helpful. It's like saying: fuck it all. If we all dare save, we all end up worse, so what's the point? Let's live "Full Throttle".

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 at 7:05:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Bob Wallace said...

Getting back to UK and new nuclear....

From the Australian Uranium Association (sort of hidden toward the bottom of the page).

"... Florida Power & Light in February 2008 released projected figures for two new AP1000 reactors at its proposed Turkey Point site. These took into account increases of some 50% in material, equipment and labour since 2004. The new figures for overnight capital cost ranged from $2444 to $3582 /kW, or when grossed up to include cooling towers, site works, land costs, transmission costs and risk management, the total cost came to $3108 to $4540 per kilowatt. Adding in finance charges almost doubled the overall figures at $5780 to $8071 /kW."

OK, new nuclear in the range of $5,780 to $8,071/kW. That's Florida where land and labor are probably less expensive.

Thermal solar electricity is in the range of $4,000kW and expected to drop as much as 40%.

Thin film solar is approximately $1,400kW (panels only) and installation should add no more than $2,000kW.

Might it not make sense for the UK to rig a HVDC line to North Africa and the rest of Europe and buy thermal solar and PV solar?

And sell surplus wind/wave back to the grid?

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 at 9:12:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Soylent said...

The cost of nuclear power is only to a small extent materials; most of it is financing costs and labour. Costs depend a lot on how stream-line the legal process is. During the legal ratcheting and increasing opposition to nuclear power in the US, the price per installed capacity went up about a factor 4(inflaction adjusted) from the 70's to the 80's with no significant improvement in safety or capabillity.

"Thermal solar electricity is in the range of $4,000kW and expected to drop as much as 40%."

Nuclear and solar thermal aren't really competitors. Nuclear has ~90% capacity factor and is ostensibly base load. Solar thermal has some ~20-30% capacity factor and may be peak load if noon happens to coincide with peak usage.

Solar thermal base-load (with heat storage) has yet to be demonstrated commercially and I haven't seen any numbers for the cost; but assuming it does not add any construction costs at all, just expands the capacity factor to 90% it would cost it would cost 12 000-16 000$/kW.

"Might it not make sense for the UK to rig a HVDC line to North Africa and the rest of Europe and buy thermal solar and PV solar?"

I believe the efficiency losses would be pretty reasonable. Inverter costs do not change with the length of the line and they're pretty reasonable, so they'd be insignificant in comparison to the cable.

For the 8 GW in 4 links under the english channel the cost was some ~£1M/km per link if wikipedia is to be believed.

I don't know what the cost of HVDC land lines is but I have trouble believing it's much lower.

I think you may well be looking at a couple of thousand USD per kW capacity. For the expense to be justified you'd definetly want to be using that capacity close to 24/7. The cost of maintenance might be unjustifiable. At least two countries, probably more, must be interested in allowing you to build the power lines(France is probably among them, but they'd rather just export more nuclear power if they can help it).

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 at 2:16:00 PM PDT, Blogger bc said...

Jevon paradox claims that conservation is not the solution for a scarcity problem because people will save money with conservation and use the double of it, rendering conservation null.

That's not what Jevons actually said, but it may be what some people say he said.

There is actually quite a lot of evidence that Jevons paradox is real, to some extent. Picking a random example UK energy savings 'miscalculated'

In fact, I think Jevons paradox applies even more when a resource is scarce; any reduction in use by one person is quickly filled by demand from someone else.

But JP is a false target, it is not the reason people consume more. That's because a) people like to consume more, and b) there are more people. Even without JP.

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 at 2:55:00 PM PDT, Anonymous luisdias said...

According to Wikipedia, JP states that

"...as technological improvements increase the efficiency with which a resource is used, total consumption of that resource may increase, rather than decrease."

What I said refutes this simple case. Petroleum is now 900% more expensive than ten years ago, so any savings that any efficiency measure creates will be absorved by that increase in price, rendering the thought false.

The only way Jevon is right is when the society adopts efficiency measures without any price increase. A case study of this is europe with the average usage of oil a lot better than the US, because people payed taxes for the gasoline, while efficiencies were achieved during the eighties. It's a proven result and a live refutation of Jevon.

But JP is a false target, it is not the reason people consume more. That's because a) people like to consume more, and b) there are more people. Even without JP.

JP is a false target because it is false. Of course, people spend more every day because the economy has not yet adopted efficiency measures to counter the oil price. Still, it is being felt, with the stagnation of oil increase of usage in the US and Europe. If oil continues to be at 100, I believe we will see a decline in consumption as well. The thougth that "people like to consume more" is naive. I consume what I can, therefore if I can consume more, I will. But if I can't, I'll try to have more of what I *want* without increasing my own consumption (increase on efficiency), or even decreasing my own consumption.

It's not that difficult. A decade ago, people thought that light bulbs would never upgrade the way they are being nowadays.

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 at 2:57:00 PM PDT, Anonymous luisdias said...

darn. I've just seen that in wikipedia the rebuttal is more pro than mine. What a loss of time! :p

 
At Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 2:46:00 AM PDT, Blogger DB said...

Not strictly on topic but since it's being bandied about on TOD and it's just plain WRONG:

Why EROEI is not a problem.

Jay Hansen propagated a misleading idea on his site www.dieoff.com.
This misleading idea has lead to all sorts of problems, not least the doom cult of peak oil. The concept is Energy Return on Energy Invested.

This is a valid concept. However, Jay misunderstood this because of his inccorect assumption that there is no such thing as a replacement for a barrel of oil and his other incorrect assumption that you can say "barrels of oil equivalent" when in fact oil and other non-renewable resources are different from renewable resources PRECISELY because they are non-renewable. They are two opposite faces of compound interest.


The issue at hand is that IF we are using ONLY barrels of oil to extract barrels of oil then we have a declining EROEI.

We are really saying "ability to produce oil is running out".

If we take this tack then logic leads us to conclude that when we get down to using one barrel of oil to pull out one barrel of oil it cannot be done.

The problem is when we start saying "barrels of oil equvalent", because not all energy IS equivalent. There are renewable non declining barrels of oil equivalent and non-renewable declining barrels of oil equivalent.

As soon, however, as we start using renewable sources of energy to pull out the barrel of oil it becomes possible to pull out a barrel of oil even if we have used MORE than a barrel of oil energy equivalent.

The obvious conclusion, however, is: why would we do such a thing?
At some point it will become more sensible to just leave the oil in the ground.

That point is rapidly approaching. Well to wheel energy efficiency of both fuel cell and electric battery driven transport is much greater than that of oil-driven transport thus at some point soon when we are forced to make the choice of extracting oil from energy produced from renewable sources we will conclude that it is better to just use the renewable energy directly.

While on the way down (burning up energy to get more harder to get energy) the compound interest effect of EROEI leads to diminishing returns.
When it no longer makes sense to use renewable energy to pull up oil, however at that point it becomes interesting because then the compound interest effect of EROEI comes into play in a positive sense. We build infrastructure which produces a positive return. The infrastructure unlike oil, is not burned up to get energy. It remains in place. Thus as long as we are not stupid enough to use every watt of power generated from the renewable sources we can feed some of it back into the loop.

Thus simple compound interest effects come into play.
For example:
If we leave 5% of the energy required to create the infrastructure for producing more infrastructure we get a doubling of the gross energy output in 16 years.
If we leave 10% for growth we get a doubling in 8 years.
If we leave 20% for growth we get a doubling in 4 years.

etc etc

So, people, the solution is to get building renewable infrastructure RIGHT NOW and as fast as we can. Breeder windmills.

 
At Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 3:39:00 AM PDT, Blogger DB said...

"In fact, I think Jevons paradox applies even more when a resource is scarce; any reduction in use by one person is quickly filled by demand from someone else."

Only if there is absolutely no substitute. If there are even partial substitutes then these will be used by some people who would otherwise face demand destruction.

 

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