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IEA: The World Needs to Construct Twice As Many Nuclear Power Plants Each Year

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A lot has changed in the years since IEA issued its first technology roadmap for nuclear.

In 2010, the International Energy Agency released a report predicting a resurgence for nuclear around the world. Months later, the Fukushima Daiichi disaster unfolded in Japan, rekindling fears about nuclear and sending shock waves throughout the industry.

After the closure of reactors in Japan and Germany, global nuclear generation has dropped by 10 percent since 2010. Investment in new capacity also fallen. There were only three new plants under construction in 2014, with only 5 gigawatts of capacity added last year.

That’s less than half of the yearly capacity additions needed to stabilize global temperatures at 2 degrees Celsius, argues the IEA in an update to its 2010 report.

According to analysts at IEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency, the nuclear industry will need to bring 12 gigawatts of capacity on-line every year for the next decade in order to meet the 2-degree target. By 2050, the industry will need to add an additional 530 gigawatts of capacity in order to boost nuclear generation to 17 percent of global production.

“Nuclear energy remains the largest source of low-carbon electricity in the OECD and the second-largest source in the world. Its importance as a current and future source of carbon-free energy must be recognized and should be treated on an equal footing with other low-carbon technologies,” reads the IEA’s technology roadmap, written in partnership with NEA.

While many agree with that sentiment — including a growing number of scientists and environmentalists — the reality for nuclear is bleak. Slowing power demand in many developed countries makes it difficult to justify building new plants. Post-Fukushima, new permitting requirements have also slowed construction. And across the world, new projects are facing long delays and cost overruns.

Doubling nuclear power plant construction rates in a decade’s time won’t be easy. Safety concerns and competition with distributed technologies for private and public investment will be impediments to growth.

The solutions to help spur new development are also likely to be controversial in some countries. Both IEA and NEA suggest tools such as capacity markets, carbon pricing or fixed-price requirements in deregulated markets to ensure nuclear can compete with natural gas, wind and solar.

“A clear commitment and long-term strategy for nuclear development at the national level is critical in raising financing for nuclear projects,” write the agencies.

The organizations also called on regulators to improve their permitting processes and make it easier for advanced reactors to get approval. Finally, developers need to show they can build on time and on budget — a rarity for nuclear. 

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Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 5, 2015

This post and it’s linked IEA report state a new nuclear target of 12GW/a in order to keep the climate temperature rise within 2°C.

However same climate effect can be reached:
– much cheaper; now ~2times, in 2030 ~3times cheaper,
– much safer; without adding radiation and “hot” waste for next generations,
– more effective; no extra 30GW heat added each year to the earth,
– much faster; as little high tech know how needed,
via installing more renewable. *)

Since the nineties nuclear share in the world’s electricity production went down from 17% towards 10% now. The IEA proposal takes 35 years to bring nuclear back to the same 17%, while neglecting the reasons for the decline of nuclear power.

Reality is that renewable installation rates surpassed nuclear greatly. In China wind is now even bigger than nuclear, and solar will be bigger within a few years.
The main reason: wind+solar(+grid+storage) are much cheaper. Nowadays a factor 2 and in the future a factor 3 or more.

So with the same amount of money, the 7% increase in low carbon electricity via more nuclear, becomes a 14% to 20% increase via more renewable.
And renewable can do it much faster, without adding each year 30GW more heat to the atmosphere.

___
*) As German report (slide 14) shows; wind + solar complement each other. And when they do not a range of technologies are available, such as:
– short term storage such as pumped storage, batteries;
– long term storage such as power-to-gas (and store underground) or power-to-fuel
– grid extension
– reservoir hydro;
– geothermal;
– waste, biogas & -mass.

German and Danish statistics also show that such decentralized generation (numerous wind and solar installations) result in higher reliability of electricity supply!

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Feb 6, 2015

There were only three new plants under construction in 2014…”

Is this for the US alone?  Globally, there were 72 reactors under construction at the start of 2014 (according to p.5 of the IEA nculear tech roadmap).  China, which plans to have a total of 150 GWatts of nuclear on-line by 2030 (up from 20 GWatts now), has 23 reactors under construction (see here).


the reality for nuclear is bleak. Slowing power demand in many developed countries…”

That is a very US-centric and European-centric view.  As the IEA roadmap says, nuclear is growing rapidly in China, and “Other growing nuclear energy markets include India, the Middle East and the Russian Federation.”  Nuclear is also growing in “...the Republic of Korea, Poland, Turkey and the United Kingdom. “

As shown in the following chart from the US EIA, developing nations already use more energy than developed nations, and the difference is widening over time.  

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Feb 6, 2015

Bas, once again you are mis-representing the Fraunhofer data.  Chart 14 shows that with monthly power averaging, wind and solar appear complimentary.  But continuing on chart 42, we see that on a daily basis, they do little to smooth each other’s chaotic variations, and even 1 day smoothing with batteries of unprecedented size would result in a grid that got about half of its energy from fossil fuel backup.

You’ve included the usual laundry list of renewable technologies, while neglecting to admit that hydro is already maxed out in most developed countries, waste is always a small percentage of total energy use (due to laws of thermodynamics), and geothermal, which geographically quite limited, is a baseload technology, thus will never be economical in a grid with high wind and solar penetration (as you often claim about baseload nuclear).

As discussed in this TEC article, power-to-gas-to-power is an incredibly expensive way to store electricity, and is likely doomed to stay that way.

Regarding your claims that nuclear is too expensive, the Chinese, Indian’s, and Russians don’t agree, as they are building nuclear plants as fast as they can (or perhaps you believe yourself to be smarter than they are?)

donough shanahan's picture
donough shanahan on Feb 6, 2015

Really Bas Bomber?

Germany is a country where they used to pay very little tax on top of their electricity prices. Now tax accounts for more than half the price and the price has risen faster than any of its peers except for Denmark. Real world experience does not agree with the Bomber. But I am sure experience is wrong.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 6, 2015

…hydro is already maxed out…
Hydro is now a regular source producing all the time. So it is not used to fill the gap if wind and solar fail.

By installing more water turbines, hydro can be used only when wind and solar fail. So fill the gaps that wind and solar leave.

That alone may not be enough but it is then an important contributor, avoiding the use of gas peakers.

….power-to-gas-to-power is … incredibly expensive…
If it’s really so expensive why are commerial companies than investing in it (up to 8MW pilots)?
Even we in NL are arranging a 8MW power-to-gas pilot (in the north where there are lots of wind turbines, and gas facilities already present).

When the electricity price is frequently very low (<$10/MWh) even a low efficient installation will become profitable.*)

Cloete’s assumptions are rather biased (he even supported the Hirth/Vattenfall simulation study).
The two processes, power-to-gas and gas-to-power should be separated, each has to be profitable.

Chinese, Indian, Russian don’t agree Nuclear is expensive
All nuclear there is state guided. So cost price is less relevant. Especially in Russia.

China has detected that wind and solar are much cheaper. So their expansion rate of wind and solar increased and is now x-times greater than that of nuclear.**) While that of nuclear decreased (just compare their 2008 plans with those now).

I belief that India will follow, though they have less wind.

___

*) The generated renewable gas is sold and added to the gas grid (nearly every building is connected here). A gas plant or factory or … elsewhere just burn the gas from the gas grid. They buy the gas at the market, which may be the renewable gas from the power-to-gas plant, bio gas, or russion, or our Slochteren gas…
So the power-to-gas plant has to make a profit, which it does here as gas prices are high here. Shale gas is not allowed on the W-European continent as far as I know (only in island UK.

**) China’s wind production surpassed that of nuclear already, solar will follow in a few years.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 6, 2015

We in NL have no Energiewende, but have similar increased taxes.
You find these high taxes also for car fuel, etc.

It’s cultural: High energy taxes are based on the idea that less energy consumption is good for the future world, as less will be consumed with high prices. So more left for next generations, less climate warming, etc.

And indeed it works, when I compare fuel consumption of US cars with Dutch cars. etc.

So I propose to increase all car fuel tax gradually to €10/liter ($40/gallon).
Less deadly accidents as people would drive more slowly, because that saves fuel.
More economy cars.
Less exhaust gasses which take ~2yrs (average!) off the live of people living in busy city centers or near busy highways. etc.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 6, 2015

Bas, the Netherlands derives 27% of its electricity from coal and 54% from gas. While its electricity rates are average for the EU, its per-capita carbon is 60% higher.

I understand the temptation to be patriotic, but this is really an abysmal record. Why do you insist on using the Netherlands as an example? It’s really nothing to be proud of.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Feb 6, 2015

I don’t understand how a mere 17% can halt global warming. It simply can’t. Nuclear needs to be scaled faster than that and it’s easy, if the political will is there. In 1974, more than 40 years ago, Sweden had eight reactors under construction simultaneously, which is one per million inhabitants. We didn’t break a sweat, it was cheap and the builds were completed quickly, because at that time, regulation was encouraging progress and wasn’t suboptimizing by overdoing regulatory oversight, limits and safety features:

http://media.nejdetkanviinte.se/2014/08/swedish-reactors.png

Imagine one reactor per million inhabitants today, worldwide. 7000 reactors. 1000 watts/capita. We have proven it is doable within a short time frame. But to not risk another TMI or Fukushima, we can always accept 7 million air pollution deaths/year and a global climate risks, while pretending renewables will come save us any day now.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 7, 2015

So we should raise the energy taxes gradually more. For car fuel toward €10/liter ($40/gallon).

An explanation: .
We have a lot of energy intense industry, and also lot of greenhouses which are heated in winter and get artificial light (~30% of our electricity is generated by CHP of greenhouses).

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 7, 2015

Measured to today’s standards, those reactors were very unsafe.

With 400 reactors we had about one disaster per 25years, So with 7000 reactors we will have one big disaster per two years.

Don’t think the public will accept such shifting of damage to public/government (~$500billion/year).

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Feb 7, 2015

Oh, the IEA nuclear roadmap is part of their ETP 2015 2DS scenario, so it does remove essentially all CO2 emissions from electricity generation.  The somewhat low 17% average contribution of nuclear is a function of regional differences in portfolio mix such as many European country’s claims that they prefer renewables with storage and fossil fuel w/ CC&S backup instead.  The nuclear component is expected to be mainly in poor countries like China and India that can’t afford expensive high-penetration renewables.

The IEA combines science with politics, so they can’t show any skepticism when countries take actions that appear to increase entrenchment of their fossil fuel industries and CO2 emissions (e.g. replacing their nuclear with variable renewables while building only token amounts of energy storage, and not lifting a finger towards CC&S).

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 7, 2015

The nuclear component is expected to be mainly in poor countries like China and India that can’t afford expensive high-penetration renewables.
If that is true, than the outlook for nuclear is much bleaker, because those countries will soon detect that wind+solar+storage is a much cheaper solution.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Feb 7, 2015

No, they won’t. You seem to assume US nuclear costs in China. In fact, nuclear, solar and wind has fairly equal costs in China in terms of “capacity”, which means nuclear is 3 times cheaper than wind and six times cheaper than solar in terms of energy. And that’s before factoring in that nuclear has twice the life time of solar and wind and much less storage, balancing and grid costs. Please get your facts straight.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Feb 7, 2015

One big disaster every two years? But fossil fuels and combustible renewables give us one Chernobyl disaster every single day, just from bad air quality. And then there’s climate risks on top of that. Nuclear power saves lives and costs and is easily worth even that lousy accident record.

Also, no, those Swedish reactors were likely one or two orders of magnitude safer than the RBMK and Mark I reactors of Soviet and Japan. The lessons from Fukushima and Tjernobyl make the old fleet and new reactors alike safer still, even if only the cheap learnings are applied. For 7000 reactors, one big disaster every 200-2000 years is in a more reasonable ballpark even with worse reactors than EPR, AP-1000 and such. 

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Feb 7, 2015

Solar will never pass nuclear in China, and nuclear will pass wind again. If you believe solar will pass nuclear, you’ll have to be a big believer in storage tech that is currently not economically feasible.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Feb 7, 2015

You’re still ignoring Fraunhofer chart 42, which shows huge variations in combined wind and solar output in Germany, even with one day of energy storage.

Why build a pilot plant to show power-to-gas?  To mislead the gullible who wish to believe in that phantasy.  Pilot plants do not prove cost effectiveness, and business plans which assume that electricity will be obtained at zero cost (and/or the resulting gas will be marketable in spite of high cost) tend to indicate that the whole system will have poor economics.

Regarding China and renewables:  they are still not deploying large scale energy storage, so effectively all of the wind and solar they are installing are contributing to lock-in of their coal-fired generation.  

By the way, Japan, which has pioneered the high temperature sodium-sulfur battery (the longest lasting battery) still is not investing in significant utility-scale quantities.  And what little pumped-hydro storage they have was built during the first nuclear boom.  Nuclear is the only technology which has every seriously threatened fossil fuel with obsolesence; the anti-nuclear movement is the strongest ally that the fossil fuel industry has!

Steve K9's picture
Steve K9 on Feb 7, 2015

The World needs about 10,000 nuclear plants by 2050, to give everyone in the World a decent standard of living and protect the environment.  We can do it!  Just multiply France by the World.

56 plants in 25 years with a population of 55 million

56*(35/25)*(7000/55) = 9978

OK, this is a bit simplistic, but … let’s start thinking big for a change instead of handing our money to Wall Street.

Robert Bernal's picture
Robert Bernal on Feb 7, 2015

I don’t trust that big (top heavy?) pool for the AP-1000. Sounds like something the Romans would have done, lol.

If we are to seriously scale nuclear, we must use a design that can withstand a station blackout without need for external or internal power, without need for human intervention and without need for hydrogen core cooling (oh, I mean water for core cooling), and without need for a pool of water for passive cooling (which can easily be removed by unexpected events).

Since a MSR has proved itself to some degree in the 1960’s, we need to test a full scale reactor, with overhead crane built in for easy “pot” recycling, as per most probable commercial reactor setup. and then mass produce.

John Oneill's picture
John Oneill on Feb 8, 2015

  Bas, New Zealand gets half its power from hydro (and three quarters from renewables), but it’s still highly seasonal. Averaged over the year gas makes about quarter of our power, but in winter, when demand is higher and river flows lower, that goes to forty percent. If a country nearly the size of Germany, but with one twentieth the population and much less industry, can’t do without peaking gas for a good part of its electricity, how will hydro balance the wild swings of wind + solar in Germany, where it’s about three percent of total generation? Or in the Netherlands, with none? Norway and the Alps’ hydro can’t power the whole continent for the eighty percent time x capacity that solar will not deliver, and nothing else except fossil fuels is anywhere near to scaling up.

Math Geurts's picture
Math Geurts on Feb 8, 2015

According to Fraunhofer ISES (institute for Solar Energy): Germany in 2050

Energy demand approx.  50% of today.  But be aware:  Germany will have considerably less inhabitants than today.

Still 34% non-renewable energy needed.

Contribution of biomass to renewable energy share comparable to solar PV + wind on-land.

Contribution of fluctuating  renewables to power production:  78%

Power load: between 23 and 61 GW

Power from fluctuating RE:  2 GW to 202 GW

Residual load from  -145 GW to 53 GW

Negative residual power load during most hours of the year

 

https://workspace.imperial.ac.uk/climatechange/Public/pdfs/presentations...

 

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 8, 2015

Hydro is only one of the means to balance. E.g. Power-to-gas is in full development. That can solve all seasonal issues.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 8, 2015

Check current trends in implementation rates.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Feb 9, 2015

I have, and PV additions are fairly insignificant in China and can be disregarded. Wind however has been scaling faster than nuclear in China for a few years, but that is about to change in a big way. 2015 and 2016 will see far more nukes coming online, so nuclear will gain on wind and likely surpass it again in 2016 or 2017. (At least if China doesn’t get its lousy wind capacity factor figures up.)

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Feb 9, 2015

~30% of our electricity is generated by CHP of greenhouses

Another clever way to lock-in fossil fuels.  

A great non-fossil option would be to install hot-water district heating networks to heat the green houses, and use nuclear-powered combined-heat-and-power plants to make electricity and hot water.

A fundemental problem with living in a cold climate is that energy demand increases in the winter due to the need for space and water heating.  Coincidentally, nuclear plants can put out more usable energy when they serve demand for both heat and electricity.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 9, 2015

Not in line with the Energiewende targets. Neither do I believe that the situation you state is Fraunhofer official point of view. E.G:

(in 2050): Contribution of biomass to renewable energy share comparable to solar PV + wind on-land.”
That is the situatio now, but since the EEG2014 the expansion target corridors for the expansion of:
 – solar+ wind-onshore is 5GW/a
 – biomass is 100MW/a (so 50times smaller).

Reason: litte decrease in the cost of biomass despite creating a mass-market and (more important) no perspective for strong price decreases. That implies that the expansion difference will increase with next revisions of the EEG.

So solar+wind-onshore will be ~4times bigger than biomass in 2050.

Similar mistakes in the other statements.

Math Geurts's picture
Math Geurts on Feb 10, 2015

Of course you don’t want to read this. But it is a message of a representative of Fraunhofer ISES, Institute for Solar Energy Systems. ISES is very solar friendly but apparently these people consider it also as their task to (carefully) explain to Germany that it is located far from the equator and needs most of it’s energy during winter months.

The EEG is only about power, even in 2050 considerable less than half of Germany’s energy demand.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 9, 2015

District hot water systems play a marginal role for more than 50years in NL. Their problem is the high costs of the distribution system (also losses).
CHP installations for greenhouses are next or even in the greenhouse. So no distribution costs.

Bruce McFarling's picture
Bruce McFarling on Feb 9, 2015

China seems likely to substantially scale up their nuclear plant construction over a 35 year time horizon, but with uranium reserves at around 3% of total world reserves (according to the Wikipedia machine) it seems unlikely that China will put all of their eggs in that basket … the Chinese will certainly accelerate their roll-out of wind power, solar power and assorted secondary renewable energy resources as well.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 9, 2015

Look at recent figures, e.g. these and their plans.

Robert Bernal's picture
Robert Bernal on Feb 10, 2015

I assume P2G has nothing to do with biofuels or biomass (except at a rather small percentage of global scale). The higher the temps, the more efficient, hence the reason I want MSR development. With conventional nuclear, we would have to use the electricity, already at about only 35% or so efficiency, to electrolize water into hydrogen and then add nitrogen to make ammonia (or CO2 from the ocean or air to make DME). This would involve another substantial efficiency loss. With heat, the hydrogen is already at about 50% or more, thus less nuclear heat necessary. This, allows for nuclear baseload at night and nuclear to gas in the day when solar kicks butt. However, MSRs are load following to a certain degree, meaning that even less storage is needed to bridge the few “moments” for ramp up inbetween solar and nuclear flat baseload.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Feb 10, 2015

Once again, the experts disagree with you Bas.  Here is a study on the potential of district heating for Europe.

District Heating can meet much of the EU27 fabric heat loads, ventilation loads and domestic hot water load in a low carbon and energy-secure and cost effective (indigenous) fashion with the existing building stock.”

There are thus major benefits from the integration of heat, gas and electricity networks particularly due to the ability of heat networks to store heat to meet peak heat demands, absorb and smooth the variable output of renewable, and this ability can be readily extended using hot water storage tanks which are extremely cheap compared to electricity storage.

Denmark (Chapter 6) is one example of high penetration of low carbon piped heat networks and since the oil crisis of 1973 has lowered its fuel imports as a result … having already reached 60% of heat supply in Denmark

Page 115 of the report states that the heat losses (from source to the home) are typically10% anual average, falling to 3% in the winter, when heat consumption is greatest.

When someone is not truely committed to phasing out fossil fuel use, continuing to burn fossil gas can seem like the path of least resistance.  Fossil fuel will always be the easiest fuel to distribute with a methane pipe network.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Feb 10, 2015

Bas, the article you linked once again fails to support your claims.  After adjusting for likely capacity factor, China installed the following for 2014 (assuming CF = 90%, 20%, and 16% for nuclear, wind, and solar respectively):

  • nuclear – 4.8 GW avg
  • wind – 3.9 GW avg
  • solar – 1.7 GW avg

And China has announced plans to double the rate of nuclear plant installations.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Feb 10, 2015

China has, the last few years, been importing 3x the amount of uranium it currently uses. I.e. it has 20-ish reactors and imports fuel for 60 reactors. So it is very conciously stockpiling for the boom it is building, while making sure that world-market demand does not slump, which would delay mining projects and create uranium price volatility. It is also buying stakes in mines around the world and is preparing to deploy breeder reactors and is scaling reprocessing plants. It is researching and ramping all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle and will soon dominate them all.

Chinese wind and solar deployment should be seen as a classic maskirovka, keeping European and US progressives in denial about real energy technology until China has a very clear lead.

John Oneill's picture
John Oneill on Feb 10, 2015

    Bas, You claim that renewable energy can power Europe without producing the ( roughly 65% ) waste heat that current nuclear does. True for direct use wind and solar, but any storage and reconversion of those will also produce considerable waste heat. As does geothermal ( about 90% ) and biofuels (60%). In any case these are all completely insignificant compared to the solar heat trapped by CO2, which gas will continue to be produced from the coal-burning plants currently replacing nuclear, the coal- plus clearfelled tree- burning plants which you hope will work while your windmills idle, and even from geothermal generators, some of which are nearly as carbonodiferous as a natural gas turbine. 

Bruce McFarling's picture
Bruce McFarling on Feb 10, 2015

The first part of that is quite true … but note that nothing in it that disagrees with the thesis that China will not make the strategic mistake of staking all of its energy supply on an imported energy source.

As far as the idea that China is rolling out wind and solar as rapidly as it can as a way to fake out “the West”, a far more plausible reason is that they are rolling it out as rapidly as they can because they want the generating capacity in place.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on Feb 10, 2015

Please get your facts straight.”

If you spend some time on this website, you’ll find that Bas Gresnigt never does.

Math Geurts's picture
Math Geurts on Feb 10, 2015

According to Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, contribution of solar PV to Germany’s end user energie demand in 2050: less than 8%.  

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on Feb 10, 2015

Once again, the experts disagree with you Bas.”

Bas doesn’t care about that. He likes to create confusion and doubt about nuclear power, which is all about disagreeing with experts after all. 

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Feb 10, 2015

I usually speak out against conspiracy theories, but this one is not as far out as it may seem. Of course, the Chinese play the game on all levels simultaneously. Yes, they likely want to have the generating capacity, or rather suppress coal somewhat due to pollution issues (but why does its wind have half the capacity factor of the US fleet?). They likely want to have a strong domestic market to support domestic producers of wind and solar equipment. And they likely want to have the West betting on the wrong horse for as long as possible.

The “imported energy source” argument is a red herring, though. Uranium is abundant and well distributed within and outside its sphere of influence. China can never get real problems with supply and they know it.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on Feb 10, 2015

Bas, once again you are mis-representing the Fraunhofer data.”

Bas, the article you linked once again fails to support your claims.”

Since some of us have been commenting in the past few months that Bas Gresnigt should be banned from TEC, or at least warned about his misbehaviour, Bas had been stepping up his deliberate repetitive misinformation and propaganda activities on TEC another notch.

He should be banned right away, since he is incorrigeable and his misbehaviour is negatively impacting the discussion, in my opinion.


Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Feb 10, 2015

I’m starting to realize.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 10, 2015

We agree for wind & solar.

Renewable energy can power the whole world, without adding heat to the earth.
Produced waste heat is heat that is extracted directly from the earth (wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels), as well as the produced usefull heat & energy.

Storage and reconversion have losses between 10% and 60%. Those losses, being mainly heat, are not new heat added to the earth! It is heat extracted directly from the earth (wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels).

Totally different than fossil fuels and uranium. That is heat in chemical form or in the atomstructure. We should keep it there to avoid adding more heat to the earth!

Coal burning is going down with the increase of renewable, also in Germany. Just check the figures (e.g. at AGEB). And realize that the Germans replaced many old inefficient coal plants for new ones that are ~25% more efficient. Which implies that a KWh generated by a new coal plant adds 25% less CO2 to the atmosphere.

Nuclear out has highest priority in Germany because nuclear facilities (power plants, etc) damage DNA of people living up to 20mile in their surroundings, Chernobyl kills a million, and similar accident as Fukushima would generate a damage of many trillions euros (major winds from nuclear power plants don’t go to the ocean as in Fukushima, but pass along dense poplulated areas and cities) and cripple Germany.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Feb 10, 2015

At the moment solar produces ~6% of German electricity (AGORA). While installed capacity is ~38GW.
The expansion target is 2.5GW/a. That implies (2050-2015)x2.5GW=87GW more in 2050.
That implies that solar will produce in 2050 ~20% of German electricity. Assuming the decrease in electricity consumption will not occur.

When the costs of solar decrease, which is highly likely, the expansion target may be increased.

Bruce McFarling's picture
Bruce McFarling on Feb 10, 2015

(but why does its wind have half the capacity factor of the US fleet?)”

That I cannot answer, since its wind does not appear to have half the capacity factor of the US fleet. With an overall capacity factor in the US of about 33%, “half” would be about 17%, which is more like a province with the worst case than the mean.

The two main reasons that the capacity factor is lower appears to be transmission constraints and lower quality equipment, though the flip side of the lower quality equipment is that it is also likely less expensive equipment as well. Much of the transmission constraints are due to a willingness to install wind with nameplate capacity in excess of available transmission capacity.

As far as the Chinese administration supposedly wanting the West to bet on what you consider to be the “wrong technology” … it is highly implausible that they would actually spend money in pursuit of that objective.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Feb 10, 2015

According to BP 2014, China in 2013 produced 132 TWh wind while starting the year at 75 GW and ending at 91 GW. If we use mean capacity, then CF was 18%. So I would say close enough to say “half”. Also, recent US additions seems to be closer to 40% CF.

Regarding my maskirovka theory, everyone has to make up their own mind about what’s plausible. It might be more or less plausible than your assertion that they “want the capacity”, even though we see that they often don’t want the energy enough to even connect the turbines to the grid. So what do they want the capacity for, if not for the energy? Bragging rights?

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Feb 11, 2015

nothing in it that disagrees with the thesis that China will not make the strategic mistake of staking all of its energy supply on an imported energy source.

China has access to all the uranium in the world’s oceans, and also has a commercial-scale fast-spectrum reactor under construction which can turn the 99% of natural uranium that is untapped in LWRs into energy.  Further, China has an aggressive program to develop molten-salt reactors which can breed fissiles from thorium (which China has in abundance from its rare-earth refining operations), as well as access to the data from the US’s light-water breeder experiment at Shippingport which used thorium in a conventional light-water reactor and ended its 5-year run with 1.3% more fissiles than when it started.

There’s an incredible amount of knowledge and experience out there.  Much of it came from the United States in the first place, but local political considerations make it impossible to exploit it here.  China has no such limitations.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Feb 11, 2015

I am informed that he has received the boot.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Feb 11, 2015

I am informed that it has been done.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 11, 2015

John, I don’t know that anyone here would take issue with the importance of permitting dissenting viewpoints to be aired.

If a newcomer sees an unbroken array of opinions alien to his own, he won’t stay around…

And if that person does stay around? When someone insists on dominating a discussion simply by repeating the same disproven points or parroting the same discredited sources, at some point systematically and logically rebutting brings nothing new to the table – and it becomes clear the poster is more interested in propagandizing than discussing.

Ultimately, it reflects on the credibility of the forum. If steps have been taken by moderators here to prevent this kind of activity, they’re positive ones.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on Feb 11, 2015

I agree with your argument, but there is a practical problem in this case.

Bas is not a dissident. A dissident is someone who disagrees with prevailing opinions on religious, political or social topics. Such dissent is an important part of a well functioning democracy and I have no problem with it. After all, my politics can differ fundamentally with the politics of someone else without either of us being ‘wrong’. Our political differences reflect our different physical, social and cultural conditions and identities, and our political viewpoints can thus both be subjectively defensible, despite differing fundamentally. To resolve disagreement (i.e. preserve peace and prosperity), people with differing political viewpoints need to discover common ground and build on that as much as possible, agreeing to disagree on many if not most remaining issues. If there is enough mutual respect and wisdom, then agreements can be reached which prevent war and promote prosperity. This is well and good and a completely normal part of civil life.

But unlike religious, political and social issues, differences of opinion on technical issues can always be resolved by the objective application of the scientific method. Disagreement about technical issues is therefore always a matter of either both viewpoints being wrong, or one viewpoint being wrong, but never of both viewpoints being at the same time correct but irreconcilable. Resolving technical issues in the realm of our common energy/climate future efficiently (which is what we need to do in order to avert looming catastrophe for humanity sooner or later) is therefore merely a matter of discovering which party is wrong by examining assumptions and arguments objectively and accurately. Once particular assumptions and arguments have been identified and shown to be false, these assumptions and arguments are placed out of bounds of the discussion. Dissenters may advance new arguments and new assumptions, but they may never reanimate assumptions and arguments which have already been placed out of bounds in the course of rigorous scientific analysis.

What Bas is doing, for years now, is exactly that: constantly reanimating dead assumptions and arguments, while ignoring the painstaking effort by many on the website and others to engage with him on the basis of objective, accurate analysis of fact. I don’t see any benefit at all of this. On the contrary I see such behaviour as an avoidable, grave threat to our common future. I see the wasting of precious time while identified humanitarian and environmental catastrophies facing humanity draw inexorably closer, threatening our decendents and the natural world, if not ourselves right away.

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