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Trump Administration May Be A Nightmare For Nuclear Power

Dennis Wamsted's picture
Freelance Journalist and Consultant WamstedOnEnergy.com

A long-time energy and environmental policy junkie, I earned my reporting stripes at The Energy Daily in Washington, D.C. I stepped down as the daily's executive editor in 1998 to spend time with...

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The instant analysis following Donald Trump’s surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election was that renewable energy would take a hit and fossil fuels would prosper. I think that is a vast over-simplification, but that is a topic for a later post. The question of the day is what will happen to the nation’s nuclear sector.

For the past several years, the Nuclear Energy Institute has worked tirelessly to broaden support for the industry by touting the technology’s importance in providing carbon-free electricity. And the industry has a valid point; the U.S.’ roughly 100 operating plants accounted for more than 60 percent of the nation’s emissions-free electric generation in 2015. According to NEI, nuclear generation avoided 564 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions last year, which it said is roughly equivalent to taking all the automobiles in the U.S. off the road.

In a carbon-constrained world, such as the one championed by President Obama and supported by Clinton, this would be important. Certainly, the nuclear industry was using it to drive support for subsidies for nuclear reactors challenged to operate profitably in competitive electric markets. In New York, for example, NEI strongly supported the development of the state’s zero emissions credit plan that is designed to keep three upstate reactors—the 576 megawatt Ginna plant, Nine Mile Point’s 640 MW Unit 1 and the 838 MW Fitzpatrick facility—operating well into the future despite their current inability to compete on price.

And NEI certainly doesn’t want to stop at New York’s borders. “The proposal [read: subsidies] developed by the staff could serve as a model for other states as they look to preserve non-emitting generation into the future,” NEI said this summer. “While a holistic policy that would allow consistency across states would be the ideal, New York is showing that states can take action before such a national framework is available.”

The need for subsidies came up again just two weeks before the election when the Fort Calhoun plant in Nebraska, the nation’s smallest operating nuclear reactor at 479 MW, closed, driven out of the market by unfavorable economics. NEI’s spin on that, delivered by Marvin Fertel, the group’s president and CEO, is a classic: “The premature closing of Fort Calhoun illustrates the situation in which well operating nuclear facilities are forced to shut down as a result of weak market conditions. This is especially the case with smaller, single-unit facilities in unregulated markets such as in Nebraska where economies of scale make it challenging to generate electricity at a competitive price.

“The negative impacts of its untimely closing make it clear there is an urgent need to prevent this from happening to other nuclear plants at risk of premature retirement. Without change, there will be more plant closings resulting in similar negative economic and environmental consequences.”

[As an aside, note the NEI caption on the photo below, obviously designed to make the pitch that closing the reactor is bad for the environment.]

fort-calhoun-reactor

The closing of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant will remove 25 percent of the state’s carbon-free electricity from the grid.

Returning to Fertel’s comments, what he is saying, in plain language, is that there are a number of other reactors that can’t compete and need subsidies to keep them open. There is no doubt those worries are real: One outside analyst, Bob Mancini, the head of the Carlyle Group’s power unit, has been widely quoted recently saying the industry is doomed without some form of support to keep existing reactors open and encourage the building of new facilities.

But what happens now, in an environment where both the president-elect and his vice president, Indiana’s Mike Pence, largely have dismissed concerns about climate change, with Trump saying flatly that he intends to “cancel” the U.S.’ participation in the recently negotiated Paris accord designed to curb CO2 emissions worldwide. Clearly if that happens, the U.S.’ own Clean Power Plan, now in legal limbo, won’t be needed either.

Then what?

Well, Robert McNally, an energy advisor to President George W. Bush and now president of the Rapidan Group, offered one opinion in a post-election Bloomberg story: “De-carbonization, which has been the organizing principle of Obama’s energy policy, came to a screeching halt last night.”

That might be a little over-the-top, but for the nuclear industry, which has largely sought to defend itself the past few years by stressing its importance in a de-carbonizing world, it has got to be a huge worry. The soon-to-be Trump administration isn’t likely to be swayed by appeals for subsidies to support uneconomic power if they are premised solely on the concept of safeguarding the generation of emissions-free electricity.

And unfortunately for the nuclear industry, the environmental argument may have been the only thing going for it. It’s interesting to note that in its 2016 Annual Energy Outlook released this spring, the Energy Information Administration projected that “even with the CPP in place” no new unplanned reactors would be built through the forecast period and the sector’s share of total electric generation would decline from current levels.

NEI will never say it, but the nuclear industry likely would have been much better off with a Clinton victory.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 14, 2016

NEI will never say it, but the nuclear industry likely would have been much better off with a Clinton victory.

What evidence do you have that NEI endorsed Trump?

Leo Klisch's picture
Leo Klisch on Nov 14, 2016

I would assume that the NRC would be eliminated as the EPA will be eliminated with industry/manufactures taking the lead on safety.

Mark Pawelek's picture
Mark Pawelek on Nov 14, 2016

We shall have to wait and see.

The Dems were owned by a green hedge fund billionaire with renewable energy in his portfolio : Tom Steyer. So Hillary’s promise to install 500 million, or was it 700 million, solar panels makes sense to me now.

If engineers want to further the cause of nuclear power they need to support deregulation. For two reasons. First: to force the NRC to consider what matters most. Second: to enable advanced nuclear power to go ahead. Nuclear power needs deregulation more than anything else. Republicans are more likely to do that than Dems. But not with any certainty. 20 years of Republican presidents: Reagan, Bush Sr, and Bush Jr, did not bring the needed deregulation. Dems will oppose deregulation. They are in hock to the green movement who love regulation just for the sake of it because it slows down economic activity.

I’m not expecting anything from the Republicans; but I have faint hope. I’d written off the Dems. Were I an American I would’ve voted Libertarian.

http://nukespp.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/my-advice-to-trump-on-nuclear-powe...

Mark Pawelek's picture
Mark Pawelek on Nov 14, 2016

Ridiculously optimistic viewpoint. A Republican president oversaw the creation of the NRC in 1974, and Republicans supported it in response to fossil fuel lobbying. Many Republicans have long conflated nuclear power with nuclear weapons, and Republicans put national security before anything. So it is easy to scare them off nuclear power with proliferation bogeyman arguments. “Neo-cons, not Carter, killed nuclear energy” : http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/2006_articles/spring%202006/Specia... (pdf)

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 14, 2016

wind, I doubt even Trump is stupid enough to eliminate the NRC, impartial regulator of existing nuclear facilities and home of the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.

Have industry/manufacturers ever taken the lead on safety?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 14, 2016

Mark, the Republican conflation of nuclear power/weapons has always been intentional, and it began in 1969 when Jersey Nuclear Company (Exxon-Mobil Nuclear) realized the technology was so efficient they’d never be able to sell enough fuel. It’s the only source of dispatchable energy which has mounted a serious challenge to fossil fuels.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 14, 2016

Defending nuclear with lies such as this:
“… providing carbon-free electricity…. U.S.’ roughly 100 operating plants accounted for more than 60 percent of the nation’s emissions-free electric generation…”
can’t be succesful (the lies in italics by me).

Operating nuclear emits ~10 times more CO2eq/MWh than wind & solar as shown by the $56/MWh guaranteed price in NY-state shows.
That price is needed to operate the NPP’s , while wind & solar are operated for ~5/MWh!

In both situation the costs are nearly all labor. Also the costs of spare parts & equipment boils down to labor. There is no reason to assume that wind & solar people spend their income for activities & products that emit more CO2eq/$ than nuclear people.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 15, 2016

Bas “Bentvels” Gresnigt, I have no idea from what anatomical location you’re pulling the “$56/MWh” figure. Nuclear is guaranteed $17.48/MWh in NY State as a ZEC – “zero emissions credit”. Let that sink in for a moment: “Zero”. The ZEC for renewables is nearly three times more expensive: $45/MWh.

Which is a better value?

Either the author is lying, or you’re having comprehension difficulties.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Nov 15, 2016

There is no reason to assume that wind & solar people spend their income for activities & products that emit more CO2eq/$ than nuclear people.

And there’s no reason to assume that mountain-climbers emit less CO2/$ than nuclear plant workers, and good reason to assume they emit a lot more.  Classrooms and simulators aren’t exactly high-CO2 activities compared to airplane trips and helicopter rides to base camps.

Do you really think the high-profit, small mass products of Apple emit CO2 in proportion to their price?

You’ve been refuted on this exact point and many others before, Bas, but you repeat the same lies over and over again.  It is perhaps the biggest reason that everyone targeted by your monomania finds you utterly despicable:  you will not be honest, and you will not even shut up on your own.  It’s as if you were paid to lie and disrupt.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 15, 2016

$17.48/MWh is the subsidy the fully depreciated NPP’s in NY-state get in addition to the price they get when they sell their electricity on the market. That subsidy will increase when market price decrease. So their income stays $56/MWh.

We are comparing the operating costs of old nuclear (who get subsidy) with those of old wind & solar (who don’t get subsidy).

You compare new vs old, which is “comparing apples with pears”.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 15, 2016

If refuted, why don’t you show it.

Your comparison doesn’t show anything.
Why do you assume that people operating wind farms don’t have classrooms?
Is there any foundation for your implicit assumption that nuclear people don’t fly?

If these are the only arguments, readers will conclude that I’m right (except fanatic pro-nuclear of course).

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 15, 2016

“Apples vs. screwdrivers” might be an apt metaphor to describe your comparison, Bas Gresnigt.
Wind and solar are “operated for ~5/MWh”, are they? What does that have to do with the price customers pay? And is that 5 euros, or guilders? Or tulips?
Outside of what’s been consigned to landfills, there is no “old wind & solar” in the State of New York. Before taxpayer-financed subsidies, it wasn’t only useless but unprofitable.
There are limits to my patience in responding to your unchallenging imbecility – these days, there’s enough of the challenging kind to keep life interesting. Have a nice day.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Nov 15, 2016

I and others have pointed out to you that a powersource’s carbon emissions has got nothing to do with its workers’ private consumption. Is that really hard for you to understand? If you don’t want people to swiftly develop a general aversion to your comments, I suggest you limit yourself to spamming us with less obvious falsehoods.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Nov 15, 2016

obviously designed to make the pitch that closing the reactor is bad for the environment

That’s not a “pitch”, that’s simple truth.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 15, 2016

no “old wind & solar” in the State of New York

Didn’t realize they are so far behind. Sorry.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 15, 2016

Read EP’s comment to which I responded.

The carbon emissions per MWh of non-fossil power sources are directly related to its cost per MWh.

The emissions in the IPCC report are based on research of a decade ago. Since then, renewable decreased a factor 2 -5 in price, while nuclear increased >50% in price.

Hence the carbon emissions changed accordingly.
So nuclear is now far less suited to fight climate change.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Nov 15, 2016

Unfortunately, the cost isn’t a good indicator. For PV life-cycle CO2-emissions to change, it has to be because of lower energy requirements. Lower prices are not indicative where they are due to:
* subsidised overcapacity in China
* lower soft costs for PV installation companies
* low demand for oil and metals gives low input prices.
… and so on.

Nor does increases in nuclear red tape and paper pushing increase CO2-emissions much. But, of course, nuclear O&M costs have not increased 50%. That’s just another one of your lies.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 15, 2016

PV became cheaper thanks to efficiency improvements (more electricity per m², with thinner cells, etc).
Of course those imply also less emissions per MWh.

Subsidized overcapacity is nonsense. China continue to construct new factories in order to produce PV-panels to meet its recently again increased 2020 PV-targets.
Btw.
Lower soft costs imply that people get less money per MWh, which implies less C)2 accordingly.

Nuclear costs increase >50% as you can see when you look at the costs of Hinkley & Vogtle.
And those concern not only paperwork..

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Nov 15, 2016

PV became cheaper thanks to efficiency improvements (more electricity per m², with thinner cells, etc).

That’s a minor part. The other things I mentioned are more important and does not lower CO2 emissions.

Subsidized overcapacity is nonsense. China continue to construct new factories in order to produce PV-panels to meet its recently again increased 2020 PV-targets.

No. China has recently slashed subsidies to buildouts and H2 2016 PV deployments has taken a nosedive. Factory utilization has been down to 50%.

Lower soft costs imply that people get less money per MWh, which implies less C)2 accordingly.

No, it doesn’t. Money is not CO2.

Nuclear costs increase >50% as you can see when you look at the costs of Hinkley & Vogtle.

No, the subject was O&M for existing plants. Also, costs there are not indicative of CO2-emissions. Take a look at the amount of concrete and steel used for the AP1000. Much, much lower than for PV and wind installations. If a project faces delays and thereby has to pay salaries and financing for longer doesn’t mean there are any substantial additional CO2 emissions involved.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 15, 2016

People spend salary and income from financing to CO2 emitting products and activities as usual.
Uranium, steel, etc. itself doesn’t generate CO2 so much, it’s primary the salaries of the miners, the people that process the ore, etc.

Btw.
– Nuclear “burns” uranium whose production implies emissions, while wind & solar consume virtual nothing once installed.
Worse, the uranium is transformed into dangerous nuclear waste which has to be cared for during thousands of years which care also implies emissions.

– A 1GW nuclear plant inserts 3GW new heat into the atmosphere, heating it more (as the cooling towers show), while wind & solar do not insert new heat!

– the Chinese subsidies to which you refer concern the installation of PV in China itself.
No subsidies for the PV-panel factories.

Mark Pawelek's picture
Mark Pawelek on Nov 15, 2016

So the industry should put energy independence forward to team Trump as the reason to promote nuclear power. Also argue for big changes in regulation. The arguments for reforming the NRC are well known. Reform may not happen unless the nuclear industry pushes for it. The status quo is no longer an option.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Nov 15, 2016

Uranium, steel, etc. itself doesn’t generate CO2 so much, it’s primary the salaries of the miners, the people that process the ore, etc.

Again, that is nonsense. The humans are there anyway, regardless of power source. I can promise you that ALL life cycle analyses of power sources’ emissions handle _only_ the actual supply chains, never the workers’ private activities. But if you really want to go along with your misconception, you’re screwed anyway, since solar consumes a lot more labour.

– Nuclear “burns” uranium whose production implies emissions, while wind & solar consume virtual nothing once installed.

That’s what we have LCAs for. They show that nuclear and wind has similar emissions, before the natural gas, grid extensions and everythig else that intermittent wind requires. Solar is some 4 times worse, also before intermittency handling.

A 1GW nuclear plant inserts 3GW new heat into the atmosphere, heating it more (as the cooling towers show), while wind & solar do not insert new heat!

Seriously? I thought everybody knew that human heat generation is negigible and doesn’t accumulate since it radiates into space fairly rapidly, and that the problem of AGW concerns gases that traps the significant heat from the sun and heat generated in the Earth’s interior.

And again, if you want to go with your misconceptions, let me point out that PV panels are black and thus won’t reflect much energy back into space. Some AGW mitigation suggestions include painting roofs white or making them reflective.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 15, 2016

What I said was that the industry likely would have been better off with a Clinton victory,

Yes, so you say, but without an actual argument as to why. Fertel, McNally, and Mancini are referenced but only for platitudes (e.g. “industry is doomed”).

Consider:
The several nuclear plants that have closed prematurely occurred under the reality of the Obama administration. Clinton gave no indication of making any change to stop closures.
It was NY State that agreed to subsidize existing upstate NY nuclear, not the federal government.
Despite Clinton’s talk about about reducing carbon, her repeated method for reduction, indicated in speech after speech and in the debates, was to “deploy a half a billion more solar panels” in four years. Nuclear power was never prominently featured on the Clinton speech circuit.
The NEI has analyzed the CPP and recognized that it does not particularly favor nuclear power. The CPP i) does not provide any incentive for extending licenses of existing reactors, though the cost to do so is significant, and ii) does not recognize the harm from the premature closure of existing plants.

Finally, reduction of global carbon emissions, to mitigate global warming, will be little if any helped by retaining the most expensive and oldest US nuclear plants, but rather by doing what the US has always done best and innovating to make things affordable, in this case via fourth generation nuclear that might be deployed globally.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 15, 2016

Dennis, I was specifically responding to your contention that “NEI will never say it”.
True, if they were to acknowledge your point now it’s entirely likely our Infant-In-Chief would consider it a personal affront, to the disadvantage of nuclear energy in general.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 15, 2016

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 15, 2016

If engineers want to further the cause of nuclear power they need to support deregulation.

Yes. Of the two candidates, who was the obvious favorite in that regard?

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 16, 2016

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 16, 2016

The point made by the example in the article was that NY State acted to retain upstate reactors, not the federal government, which has not acted to retain existing reactors.

This is what makes the Clinton-better conclusion baffling to me. You have the reality of the Obama administration in front of you. Yes Obama went to Paris, said the words about clean power. Yet the reality was that Kewaunee, Crystal River, SONGS, Vermont Yankee, Ft Calhoun, FitzPatrick, Clinton, Pilgrim, Quad Cities, Oyster Creek, all closed or soon will. Words are counted as evidence, and reality dismissed as if it never happened.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Nov 16, 2016

Actually, I think it’s the wind industry (particularly offshore) which is in trouble under Trump. Windfarms must begin construction in 2016 to get the full federal subsidy; it goes to 80% in 2017, tapering to 0% in 2020. Advocates boast of windpower which is so cheap that it needs no subsidy, but that’s mainly in the coal-burning central plains, which will likely hit 30% windpower by the time the subsidy is gone, making further increases more technically difficult (and uneconomical alongside coal).

Also, given that the solar subsidy continues without reduction through projects started in 2019, hitting zero in 2023, solar will likely displace wind as the favorite variable renewable.

It also turns out that solar is much more compatible with nuclear than is windpower, and the nuclear+solar combination is clearly the cleanest of all options given limited hydro and unaffordable storage, at least for warm climates with a summer demand peak.

In four years, we may realize that windpower backed by fossil gas is simply not clean enough, given that greater electrification is our best hope for decarbonizing the other end-use energy sectors.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 16, 2016

Only actual supply chain, no salaries?
Then nuclear’s emissions are even much higher compared to wind & solar!
O&M emissions probably >50times higher!

Because nuclear continue to ‘burn’ uranium whose winning, processing, transport, fuel rod fabrication, etc.
emit major amounts of CO2!

That’s what we have LCAs for. They show that nuclear and wind has similar emission.
No longer, those comparisons are based on studies more than a decade ago. Since then:
– wind require far less maintenance (now one visit in 2 years to an 8MW turbine, then three visits a year to a 3MW turbine);
– nuclear require far more maintenance as the NPP’s get older and older. Also shown by the $56/MWh fully depreciated nuclear needs to continue operation. Hence >50% more emissions.

So now wind emit ~10 times less than nuclear!
And the improvements regarding solar are even better!

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 16, 2016

Those old NPP’s emit more CO2 per MWh, than new wind & solar.

So from a climate perspective its smarter to install new wind & solar than investing money to keep reactors open some more years.
Also since those reactors will need ever more maintenance and are an increasing danger for the population around.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 16, 2016

Is there a US offshore wind industry?
Thought only EU has it (~20GW? offshore wind)?

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Nov 16, 2016

You know what, Bentvels? I’m just going to vote you down for making all this stuff up. Not going to bother with more replies. I think any reader of this exchange now know what you’re up to.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Nov 16, 2016

See what he’s done?  He’s dumped so much BS in this forum, he’s won the ability to post his BS without rebuttal by sheer exhaustion of those on the side of truth.

Bas and his cohort need to be removed from society.

If they’re insane, they need to be placed under in-patient psychiatric treatment until their delusions are cured.

If they’re paid liars, they need to be in prison.  Or worse.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 16, 2016

You mean something like, “Sovacool says” NPPs emit more CO2 per unit energy than solar, as no other serious research does. Please don’t respond to my posts with pseudo science.

Even if you were correct, the CO2 from nuclear fuel production or solar cell production is irrelevant to the emissions of ~1000 gCO2/kWh, SOx, NOx, particulates, and heavy metals from coal plants. Solar does not close coal plants; it builds them if Germany is any guide.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Nov 17, 2016

Right, US off-shore wind is not just tiny compared to nuclear, it’s zero. But there is a small 30MW farm being built off the coast of Rhode Island. the cost is an eye-popping $10/Watt.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 17, 2016

$20 per average Watt, with the towers still subject to destruction by the more powerful hurricanes.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 17, 2016

Solar and other renewable reduce coal as well as nuclear. Even in Germany where all nuclear out asap has highest priority:
In past decade German electricity production by coal (incl. lignite) decreased 6% while total production increased 4%!

Recent serious research that compares emissions of nuclear with that of solar will show that nowadays, nuclear emit up to 10 times more than PV-solar!*) How much the difference is depends highly on the place (amount of sunshine).

At Abu Dhabi proposals are now at $23/MW unsubsidized, not inflation corrected.**) It is at least 10 times less than the unsubsidized costs of new nuclear!
Hence also up to 10 times less emissions!
______
*) The often referred IPCC report relies on outdated research of ~a decade ago. Then solar was 4-8times more expensive and nuclear was estimated being ~2 times cheaper than shown now by the new NPP’s at Hinkely, Vogtle, etc.!

**) Note that in Abu Dhabi solar panels don’t suffer from the high import tax (~45%) that USA and EU charge. That tax makes solar artificially more expensive in EU & USA.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 17, 2016

As I said, solar does not close coal “plants”, i.e. capacity. If the coal plants are required to be built and maintained, meaning coal mines must be built and maintained, then the marginal cost to run them quickly becomes cheaper than the cost of installing more solar. Therefore the ability of solar to reduce fossile production has severe limits; in Germany the limit appears to be 8% solar share of annual production, a limit reached at high cost.

Please, don’t bother with another tedious response on your opinion of future revolutions, of targets, of what Sovacool says.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 17, 2016

Sorry, I must correct facts about German Energiewende:

Of course the German 6% lower electricity production by coal also delivered the closure of coal plants.

Coal mines stay open until 2018 because of the social contract with the unions. It allows the older miners to end there career decently, while giving the younger ones enough time and opportunity to re-educate and find a decent job in another field.

The idea that 8% solar is the limit in Germany, is contradicted by the continuation of the solar expansion target of 2.5GW/a in the new EEG2017 law with unchanged FiT rules! It’s also not supported by Agora think-tank studies.

Even the original idea that the optimum solar capacity would be 52GW is left behind…

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 17, 2016

@Mark,
US may be backwards in these things, but I do not estimate they are so stupid that they build wind turbines that cannot withstand local weather.
Though I’m not sure, as I read already decades about major power outages.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 17, 2016

Of course the German 6% lower electricity production by coal also delivered the closure of coal plants….

No. Germany has seen a slight net increase in coal capacity since 2002.

Coal capacity in GW:
2002: Hard: 28.3, Brown: 20.3
2016: Hard: 28.3, Brown: 21.2
(Source: Fraunhofer ISE, “Net installed … capacity in Germany”)

The coal fleet capacity indicated above was maintained though domestic electricity consumption was relatively flat over the period, with 2003: 601 TWh, 2015: 600 TWh (Source: BMWi). Also, 7 GW of biomass capacity was brought online over the same period, in itself a cancellation of the 2011 nuclear closures.

Again with the solar “target” as evidence? Sorry, targets and plans are not the facts of power production.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 17, 2016

Yes, if finance was infinite an offshore turbine might be built that might survive a million year storm.

Put down the patronizing word play, and pick up something informative on i) the strength of the tropical cyclone, and ii) the engineering specifications of the Block Island Wind Farm. BI installed 4 legged foundations, with piles driven 30 m into the seabed. The BI foundations are much stronger and more massive than the typical monopile foundations installed offshore in the relatively tame Baltic, and the towers above the water line are still at risk in a strong storm (Category 3). The foundations are essentially the steel component 10 story marine office buildings. Hence the exorbitant cost, $10/Watt nameplate, or $20 average if the farm makes 50% output.

There’s nothing like the punch of the tropical cyclone. Storm surge of up to 8 meters (record 14m), with 30 meter waves on top, 260 km/h wind with the atmosphere choked with flying debris. What chance fiber glass turbine blades? Each time a strong storm goes through the offshore oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico a percent or so of the derricks there are wrecked, though they have mass ~10^5 tons, and a fraction of a billion dollars in construction costs.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 17, 2016

Yes, they replaced part of the closed plants with bigger more efficient plants.
Due to the 7% decrease in coal electricity production in 2015 compared to 2002, the coal plants in 2015 operated at a lower capacity factor: 63% (in 2002 69%).
Though total electricity production (by all methods) was 10% higher in 2015 compared to 2002.*)

The share of coal in German electricity production decreased from 50% in 2002 to 42% in 2015.
____
*) Comparison of consumption between 2002 and 2015 is wrong as in 2002 Germany had a net import of electricity and in 2015 a net export. Real comparison should be based on production.

Danny Jones's picture
Danny Jones on Nov 18, 2016

The nuclear industry is dead and it has nothing to do with Trump or the GOP. It has 100% to do with fear caused by multiple nuclear accidents. Nothing is going to change that. Fact is, before the accident in Japan the industry already required 100% financial support from the government. There will be no new nuclear plants in the USA – because no one wants them – PERIOD.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Nov 18, 2016

Climate change, nuclear vs renewables, etc… these have all been relegated to a lower priority now that Trump has been elected.

We have far larger problems.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 19, 2016

Yes, foundations of the US offshore wind turbines at Block Island are far more labor intensive than the mono-pile constructions used elsewhere (e.g. the North and Irish Sea).

My estimation is that these foundations were designed because USA has:
– little experience in such foundations for wind turbines and didn’t check at / copy from e.g. Denmark;
– no special ships equipped for streamlined production of real strong (mono-pile) foundation constructions.

Btw.
– Even with super storms, little debris flying around 30km off the coast.
– The tips of the blades of modern wind turbines travel at up to 300Km/h. So winds of 250Km/h won’t do much as the blades are then in neutral stand.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 19, 2016

Marsium, nuclear is growing worldwide, making your post-mortem and conclusion “no one wants them [new nuclear plants]” come off as silliness.

The desperation of antinuke activists, however, is hard to not view as an encouraging sign for both the industry and addressing climate change.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 19, 2016

Sorry, I thought the foundation design was a matter of forces, torques, and yield strength. But you say it’s about checking in with Denmark, in your imagination the main target of tropical cyclones. Someday perhaps someone will ‘create a flying conveyance capable of hurling it’s passengers across vast distances’, and the Danes can come help out in America.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 19, 2016

OCTOBER 19, 2016—The nation’s first new nuclear generation in 20 years has officially entered commercial operation after the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Unit 2 successfully completed an extensive series …

https://www.tva.gov/Newsroom/Watts-Bar-2-Project

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