/ Hinkley Point

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FesteringSore - on 15 Sep 2016
Can somebody please explain to me(of simple brain) why it is that a new nuclear power station in the UK is being built by a French company with investment from China.

If I recall UK companies were building our own power stations sixty years ago. I cannot believe that such UK companies no longer exist.

As for "investment" from China - I fail to see any logic in that. Are we now so beholden to the Chinese?
RomTheBear - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to FesteringSore:
> Can somebody please explain to me(of simple brain) why it is that a new nuclear power station in the UK is being built by a French company with investment from China.

Main reasons being :
- We haven't built any for a long time so we don't know how anymore
- Our government is trying to cut spending, so basically they'd rather have the Chinese and the French pay for it. It's not a bad idea frankly at least it locks in the risk into a pre-agreed price.


> If I recall UK companies were building our own power stations sixty years ago. I cannot believe that such UK companies no longer exist

They don't exist anymore as such, It was privatised and then the privatised offshoot decided to exit the nuclear industry and sold off most of it.
Post edited at 19:02
gethin_allen on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to RomTheBear:
"not a bad idea frankly at least it locks in the risk into a pre-agreed price."

That is if they've done the deal correctly.

I'm suspicious about these things after the fiasco with the second severn crossing. A deal with the french was signed but when the economy faltered and it looked like the french wouldn't make quite as much money as they wanted to before the handover and the tolls dropping the govt bent over and gave them a few more years of tolls.

What's to say that in 5 years as costs spiral the Chinese ask for a higher strike price and the uk gov bend over and take it.


Ridge - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to RomTheBear:

> Main reasons being :

> - We haven't built any for a long time so we don't know how anymore

Sort of. No one's actually built a functioning EPR either, although the Chinese have experience with other types of reactor. I'm not expecting Hinkley to be a shining example of how to build a reactor.

> - Our government is trying to cut spending, so basically they'd rather have the Chinese and the French pay for it. It's not a bad idea frankly at least it locks in the risk into a pre-agreed price.

I think this is the main reason behind the deal.

> They don't exist anymore as such, It was privatised and then the privatised offshoot decided to exit the nuclear industry and sold off most of it.

I think the original Magnox reactors were built by the Ministry of Supply then run by UKAEA, so they were built by the public sector. We haven't built reactors, (other than for submarines), for donkeys years.

FesteringSore - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to RomTheBear:
> Main reasons being :

> - We haven't built any for a long time so we don't know how anymore

> - Our government is trying to cut spending, so basically they'd rather have the Chinese and the French pay for it. It's not a bad idea frankly at least it locks in the risk into a pre-agreed price.

> They don't exist anymore as such, It was privatised and then the privatised offshoot decided to exit the nuclear industry and sold off most of it.

I really find it hard to get my head round the fact that, having been a world leader in nuclear power that neither the expertise or the resources cannot be mustered. Of course the development and use of nuclear energy should have remained on going.
I believe that the most recent UK plant was Sizewell B(1995). Was that not British built?
Post edited at 19:44
RomTheBear - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to Ridge:

> Sort of. No one's actually built a functioning EPR either, although the Chinese have experience with other types of reactor. I'm not expecting Hinkley to be a shining example of how to build a reactor.

The EPR reactor in China is on track to start next year I hear.

> I think this is the main reason behind the deal.

> I think the original Magnox reactors were built by the Ministry of Supply then run by UKAEA, so they were built by the public sector. We haven't built reactors, (other than for submarines), for donkeys years.

Well yes, and UKAEA was broken in two, a bit sold to GE, and the rest became AEA, which then exited the nuclear business.
davidbeynon - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to FesteringSore:

> I believe that the most recent UK plant was Sizewell B(1995). Was that not British built?

Core was bought off the shelf from westinghouse. Integration performed in Britain.

Before that there was Heysham 2 and Torness, which were proper UK builds. They were commisioned in 1988.

Most of the people who were in moderately senior engineering positions on those builds have now retired. The few who haven't are getting close.
Dave the Rave on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to FesteringSore:

It's easy. Some money is going into someone's bank that no one knows about until it's too late.
SenzuBean - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to RomTheBear:

> It's not a bad idea frankly at least it locks in the risk into a pre-agreed price.

ERRR. It does not. It only locks the construction and initial operating capital to a pre-agreed price. The decommissioning cost (which will be monstrous, considering we don't even know what to do with existing nuclear waste and haven't paid anything towards a sustainable solution), and the "disaster insurance" will be taxpayer funded as far as I'm aware.
RomTheBear - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

> ERRR. It does not. It only locks the construction and initial operating capital to a pre-agreed price. The decommissioning cost (which will be monstrous, considering we don't even know what to do with existing nuclear waste and haven't paid anything towards a sustainable solution), and the "disaster insurance" will be taxpayer funded as far as I'm aware.

I'm not sure who told you that but you've been lied to, from what we know of the contract the decommissioning and waste management contracts will be funded by the generator, and that's part of the strike price.
SenzuBean - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to RomTheBear:

> I'm not sure who told you that but you've been lied to, from what we know of the contract the decommissioning and waste management contracts will be funded by the generator, and that's part of the strike price.

Okay could be. Can you find any source for that? I looked briefly before posting and found nothing.
I somehow doubt they'd be willing to pay for a hypothetical Fukushima level cleanup.
wintertree - on 15 Sep 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

> we don't even know what to do with existing nuclear waste

Sure we do. We can reprocess a lot of it. We can build a particle beam transmutation plant. We can sit on it for 50-100 years and then transmute it in the lining of a fusion plant. We can bury it for people to deal with in 1,000 year time, banking on continuing technical progress whilst making the storage stable for much, much longer just in case.

The problem isn't not knowing what to do, it's being incapable at the national level of making plans beyond the end of our noses.
RomTheBear - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:
> Okay could be. Can you find any source for that? I looked briefly before posting and found nothing.

The duty for nuclear operators to finance and fund decommissioning and cleaning program is in EU law (ok this may not apply to the uk soon) and also enshrined in UK law in the energy act 2008.
There is a summary there from EDF.

https://www.edfenergy.com/sites/default/files/V2%20C05%20Decommissioning%20of%20Hinkley%20Point%20C....

> I somehow doubt they'd be willing to pay for a hypothetical Fukushima level cleanup.

This is a matter for a court of law to decide that if it happens (hopefully not needed !)
Post edited at 00:09
summo on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to RomTheBear:

> I'm not sure who told you that but you've been lied to, from what we know of the contract the decommissioning and waste management contracts will be funded by the generator, and that's part of the strike price.

Also on top of that, stations are now built with decommissioning in mind, easier to dismantle safely etc... all the early ones were just thrown up care free. After all, it's in their interests make it that way. I'd be more worried about if EDF will exist as a company in 40 or 50 years time.
Dave Garnett - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

> ERRR. It does not. It only locks the construction and initial operating capital to a pre-agreed price. The decommissioning cost (which will be monstrous, considering we don't even know what to do with existing nuclear waste

We do know what to do with the existing waste, it's been hung up for decades on the principle of finding volunteer communities. As I recall, the local council at Sellafield was happy to have a GDF but the neighbouring districts vetoed it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35096566

There's also the sensitive issue of us storing other people's waste at Sellafield....
GrahamD - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to FesteringSore:

I think the result of voting in low tax regimes for pretty much a generation now is rather starting to show in energy, travel and health infrastructure.

Still, we are where we are and at least this is a way to start to address our future energy requirements.
Phil79 - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to summo:

> Also on top of that, stations are now built with decommissioning in mind, easier to dismantle safely etc... all the early ones were just thrown up care free. After all, it's in their interests make it that way. I'd be more worried about if EDF will exist as a company in 40 or 50 years time.

If they can't resolve the reactor pressure vessel issues at Flamanville without having to rebuild the whole thing, then I'd be surprised if they haven't gone bust in 5 years!
Ridge - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> There's also the sensitive issue of us storing other people's waste at Sellafield....

The waste from Scotland?
summo on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Phil79:

> If they can't resolve the reactor pressure vessel issues at Flamanville without having to rebuild the whole thing, then I'd be surprised if they haven't gone bust in 5 years!

Exactly. I'm always suspicious of a company offering a product guarantee/warranty longer than they've already existed.
SenzuBean - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> We do know what to do with the existing waste, it's been hung up for decades on the principle of finding volunteer communities. As I recall, the local council at Sellafield was happy to have a GDF but the neighbouring districts vetoed it.


> There's also the sensitive issue of us storing other people's waste at Sellafield....

That's what I meant - that we haven't resolved that issue, and are now planning to make things even worse.
GrahamD - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to SenzuBean:

We haven't worked out what to do with CO2 either, and we produce much more of that.

Phil79 - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to summo:

What does actually happen if they do go bust then?

As I understand it, the agreed strike price includes an amount of money to cover decommissioning costs, but I cant believe that money is actually ring fenced or put aside specifically for that purpose.

Or is it? If they go bust is there a fat bank account somewhere with several billion sat in, that cant be used for anything but the clean-up?
summo on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Phil79:

> What does actually happen if they do go bust then?
> As I understand it, the agreed strike price includes an amount of money to cover decommissioning costs, but I cant believe that money is actually ring fenced or put aside specifically for that purpose.
> Or is it? If they go bust is there a fat bank account somewhere with several billion sat in, that cant be used for anything but the clean-up?

who knows, there certainly won't a be slush fund, the shareholders will want their profit annually from the word go, they won't want it being syphoned away. I doubt you could you even take out an insurance policy that would cover the cost of decommissioning a nuke plant etc..

One major accident or fault at a plant of similar design run by EDF and you'd have share collapse, equity problems, possible claims, fines... would the French government step in? Doubt it. The buck would rest with the UK government, with a further loan from China to bail them out.

In my view, if you are prepared to pay over the odds for electricity over the next 50 years and run a security risk, why not just develop you own energy in more green ways. Geothermal, biomass, tidal etc.. even if it's not the most efficient and costs a little more because it's all done internally, it will in time develop your own industry and removes any security risk.

Or, perhaps have a longer term goal over a generation of reinvigorating the UK's nuclear industry. So we can take some trade from France or China in the future, rather than consign the UK to always being a customer.
Phil79 - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to summo:

> Or, perhaps have a longer term goal over a generation of reinvigorating the UK's nuclear industry. So we can take some trade from France or China in the future, rather than consign the UK to always being a customer.

Come on now, that's far too sensible.

Surely we're much better off with a half arsed and short sighted energy policy, and in hock to any nation that will stump up the cash to build our infrastructure for us.
GrahamD - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to summo:

> In my view, if you are prepared to pay over the odds for electricity over the next 50 years and run a security risk, why not just develop you own energy in more green ways. Geothermal, biomass, tidal etc.. even if it's not the most efficient and costs a little more because it's all done internally, it will in time develop your own industry and removes any security risk.

That is completely trite. How on earth are you going to get a base load from that lot in the next 50 years let alone the next 10. I'm all for investment in renewables but some reality check please.

> Or, perhaps have a longer term goal over a generation of reinvigorating the UK's nuclear industry. So we can take some trade from France or China in the future, rather than consign the UK to always being a customer.

If we were organised as a country in the way, say, Korea is in identifying strategic investments then fine. As it is we vote in the party that promises lowest taxes.
krikoman - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to FesteringSore:

If we're soo good at small scale nuclear, i.e. submarines wouldn't it be better to have a lot of little ones, than one massive one?

If there's an issue with the one big one and it's shut-down, you're knackered, if you have a lot of smaller ones there's room for shut-downs.
GrahamD - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to krikoman:

I'm not entirely sure that the rules that apply to war ship submarines spending most of theirt time safely away from population centres really transfers that well to permanent installations within a few 10s of kms from major population centres ?
Lusk - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to summo:

> In my view, if you are prepared to pay over the odds for electricity over the next 50 years

As it's projected to supply at most 7% of total demand, the inflated price won't be that significant overall.
Probably worth paying if it prevents blackouts.
summo on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> That is completely trite. How on earth are you going to get a base load from that lot in the next 50 years let alone the next 10. I'm all for investment in renewables but some reality check please.

yes you can get limited base load from tidal but it's much more reliable than wind or solar, although you could use pump storage to fill the gaps, geothermal and biomass 24/7 base load. The UK is way behind most of northern Europe in it's use of ground, air and water heat sources.... it's been over reliant on North Sea gas and gas in general, the obsession with individual gas boilers in every house and it doesn't look likely to change.

> As it is we vote in the party that promises lowest taxes.

Which means every future generation will always be paying for the previous ones lack of investment. A nation on catch up, forever.
summo on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Lusk:

> As it's projected to supply at most 7% of total demand, the inflated price won't be that significant overall.

true

> Probably worth paying if it prevents blackouts.

you presume it gets built on time and functions correctly, current evidence of that type of reactor would indicate timelines could double before it's operational, if at all.
summo on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> I'm not entirely sure that the rules that apply to war ship submarines spending most of theirt time safely away from population centres really transfers that well to permanent installations within a few 10s of kms from major population centres ?

security would be a major issue too, given the present climate. Easier to guard one large installation, than dozens scattered around the country.
munro90 - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to krikoman:

Well, many wise people, not least the late great David Mackay would advocate exactly that. There are plans for a new generation of smaller reactors, similar to those installed in nuclear submarines, which have the advantage of using what is otherwise waste as fuel.
There is apparently a small issue with getting these fully accredited, but that is nothing some political will and co-ordinated effort could not overcome. It would side-step the problem that nobody actually has a Hinkley-type reactor working yet (so it's hardly tried and tested). It might even put British companies back at the forefront of nuclear power generations.
So in short, it's altogether too sensible for a British Government to pursue it (ie the opposite of HS2 and the Garden Bridge).
For more see: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/15/nuclear-power-no-hinkley-point-yes-atomic-ener...
Ridge - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to summo:

> security would be a major issue too, given the present climate. Easier to guard one large installation, than dozens scattered around the country.

One alternative is to do both. Essentially a fleet of small scale reactors on a single site for security purposes. Small reactors can be made with an inventory that would give a negligible dose to the public even after total failure, and you can have a determinstic design or highly reliable passive safety systems that stop things even getting that far.
tony on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Ridge:

> One alternative is to do both. Essentially a fleet of small scale reactors on a single site for security purposes. Small reactors can be made with an inventory that would give a negligible dose to the public even after total failure, and you can have a determinstic design or highly reliable passive safety systems that stop things even getting that far.

And if done on existing sites, use can be made of existing grid connection infrastructure. It's really disappointingly easy to come up with better solutions than the ones our stupid governments comes up with.
GrahamD - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to tony:

You're right. Its easy to make decisions based on bugger all in depth knowledge. Its probably much harder when some in depth analysis is needed.
wintertree - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> You're right. Its easy to make decisions based on bugger all in depth knowledge. Its probably much harder when some in depth analysis is needed.

Are you talking about posters on UKC or the government? I'm confused...

Without much in depth knowledge I don't see why multiple small reactors can't work well. They can't be that hard to do - the USA, UK, USSR and France have/had decades of experience putting them on boats and submarines. The USA and the USSR both have/had experience of launching smaller ones on satellites and building/flying aircraft powered by them. All this was done without CAD, without modern computer based numerical/mathematical modelling, without modern CNC machining, without 101 things that should make life easier.
Post edited at 17:07
GrahamD - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to wintertree:

If it was that easy and that attractive then that is what the USA, USSR, France and UK would have chosen to do. So presumably its not that easy. Sort of the equivalent of trying to power the grid from a bunch of back up generators I suppose.
wintertree - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> If it was that easy and that attractive then that is what the USA, USSR, France and UK would have chosen to do. So presumably its not that easy.

I disagree. Just because something used to be hard, does not mean that it still is. Further many "civilian" power plants were driven by a need to produce material for making weapons grade fuel, not to be ideal power stations. Also it's not unheard of for governments to make a less than optimal choice...

> Sort of the equivalent of trying to power the grid from a bunch of back up generators I suppose.

I disagree. Connecting multiple mid-sized plants at one location is pretty established technology. Look at a big hydro dam or a wind array. Even easier with steam turbines as they'll all synchronise to the grid more or less by themselves.
Post edited at 18:29
Ridge - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to wintertree:

http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-power-reactors/small-nuc...

Seems to be relatively simple to do, just requires the investment. A couple of hundred MWe per unit isn't to be sneezed at, as the Calder Hall Magnox reactors only produced 60 MWe each.
wintertree - on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to Ridge:

The Russians are doing this it turns out - with a twist...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_floating_nuclear_power_station

I've wondered before if a floating plant a mile out to see would be better placed to survive a tsunami than a land based coastal plant.
ultrabumbly on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to FesteringSore:

For the love of god though, whatever happens, can the name please be changed sooner rather than later (no need to wait for first mini disaster).

"Hinkley Point" sounds like something that happens when you've been away on a trip and the little fella isn't used to the abuse he regularly receives as part of a loving relationship.
summo on 16 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:
> Sort of the equivalent of trying to power the grid from a bunch of back up generators I suppose.

a slight digression, but the back up generators at Hartlepool / Seal Sands nuclear power station were 4 concorde engines in a sound proofed building adjacent to the reactor building. So your jest is closer to the truth than you may have thought.
Post edited at 22:21
Richard J - on 17 Sep 2016
In reply to Ridge:

To be fair to the UK government (not easy, I know) they have finally come round to thinking home grown small modular reactors might be a good idea. They are currently running a competition for a design:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/small-modular-reactors-competition-phase-one

Rolls certainly has the necessary technical expertise from the submarine programme, but the issue is whether they're able to drive the unit capital cost down. As I understand it the plan would be to put multiple units on a single licensed site.
GrahamD - on 19 Sep 2016
In reply to wintertree:

I'm pretty sure that a large part of what makes a civil nuclear power plant what it is is the cooling and all the failsafes that surround it. In that respect thats very different to reactors on ships.
wintertree - on 19 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> I'm pretty sure that a large part of what makes a civil nuclear power plant what it is is the cooling and all the failsafes that surround it. In that respect thats very different to reactors on ships.

Not exactly insolubly different problems though - and not always harder on land. A naval reactor has to survive significant changes in the gravity vector for example, and the cooling on submarine reactors has to be insanely quiet; both these requirements go away for land based reactors.

Also, they are developed and tested on land - it already happens. There used to be one in Greenwich...
ads.ukclimbing.com
Richard J - on 19 Sep 2016
In reply to wintertree:

One other way a land-based small reactor is easier is that it doesn't need to be as small as a sub reactor. I think submarine reactors run on much more highly enriched uranium, that wouldn't be acceptable in a civil reactor (and would be out of the question for export markets for proliferation reasons). Their small size and high power density makes them more susceptible to loss of coolant accidents. On the other hand a post-Fukushima civil design would probably need to have enough passive cooling (e.g. through convection) that it would survive a loss of coolant accident at the same time as a complete loss of back-up power.

It's not that I think Rolls isn't capable of designing and building a civil SMR, it just won't be a direct copy of the submarine design. And whether they can do it for a more cost-sensitive environment than money-no-object MoD procurement remains to be seen.

The US government also has been putting money into the SMR idea; not surprisingly one of the leading designs there has come from Babcock and Wilcox, who make the US Navy sub reactors. But civil nuclear in the USA has been more or less killed by shale gas.
summo on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Richard J:

> On the other hand a post-Fukushima civil design would probably need to have enough passive cooling (e.g. through convection) that it would survive a loss of coolant accident at the same time as a complete loss of back-up power.

I think the lesson there is perhaps if you build on one of the most tectonically active regions of the world, you factor in volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis in the first place. Whilst no country is immune, I think the UK lies a little lower down the list.
Richard J - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to summo:

That's true, but earthquakes and Tsunamis aren't the only cause you could imagine for a loss of coolant accident. Three Mile Island isn't very tectonically active, after all. Wherever you are, it's worth designing against that possibility (as the most modern large PWR designs do).
summo on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Richard J:

> That's true, but earthquakes and Tsunamis aren't the only cause you could imagine for a loss of coolant accident. Three Mile Island isn't very tectonically active, after all. Wherever you are, it's worth designing against that possibility (as the most modern large PWR designs do).

I would agree, given that radiation can and has spread between nations, you'd think that some things would be internationally agreed mandatory safety measures. But in cases like Japan it should not need to be mandatory, just simple common sense.
jethro kiernan - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to FesteringSore:

The main reason is ideological, the present government has fully embraced neo liberalism and won't in any way contemplate any thing that would involve setting up the "ministry of nuclear power"
This means we are now paying the Chinese to develope their industry on our buck
By the time we finish paying them off we will be building iPhone 14's in sweatshops for the consumption of Chinese teenagers

Lusk - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to jethro kiernan:

> By the time we finish paying them off we will be building iPhone 14's in sweatshops for the consumption of Chinese teenagers

What, in only seven years time?!?!
jethro kiernan - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Lusk:

2year cycle so 14 years ;-)
summo on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to jethro kiernan:

> 2year cycle so 14 years ;-)

it won't even be finished in 14 years time, if the Finnish plant construction is any indicator, most people estimate that it will be 2030 something in reality.
krikoman - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to munro90:

> Well, many wise people, not least the late great David Mackay would advocate exactly that. There are plans for a new generation of smaller reactors, similar to those installed in nuclear submarines, which have the advantage of using what is otherwise waste as fuel.

> There is apparently a small issue with getting these fully accredited, but that is nothing some political will and co-ordinated effort could not overcome. It would side-step the problem that nobody actually has a Hinkley-type reactor working yet (so it's hardly tried and tested). It might even put British companies back at the forefront of nuclear power generations.

> So in short, it's altogether too sensible for a British Government to pursue it (ie the opposite of HS2 and the Garden Bridge).


I thought as much, surely one of the major sticking points of Hinkley was the cost! Break that down to smaller units, you might lose some efficiency (though I don't know how anyone would know this as the Hinkley reactor hasn't got a similar one running yet). But it must make more sense to have smaller ones rather than one massive unit, which if it breaks the it's f*cked.

Like you say we have the tech. now and we know how it works and how safe it is. It seems a no brainer to me.

British tech. ready to be honed and exported.
krikoman - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> I'm not entirely sure that the rules that apply to war ship submarines spending most of theirt time safely away from population centres really transfers that well to permanent installations within a few 10s of kms from major population centres ?

Are you saying there not safe, and that as long as it's only navy personnel it doesn't matter?

Jim C - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to FesteringSore:

> I believe that the most recent UK plant was Sizewell B(1995). Was that not British built?


The 'nuclear island' at Sizewell B is based on a American Westinghouse '4-loop' plant known as SNUPPS
Most of the UK people I know who were involved in its building have retired with no succession planning.

The major components were supplied by
Reactor System: Westinghouse American
Reactor Vessel: Framatome (French)
Core Internals: Westinghouse (American )
Steam Raising: Doosan Babcock (Korean - Originally American the Old Babcock and Wilcox) )
Turbines: GEC Alstom (french/German ?)
Jim C - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to summo:

> it won't even be finished in 14 years time, if the Finnish plant construction is any indicator, most people estimate that it will be 2030 something in reality.

Also the French Flamenville , is the other one of the same design that has yet to be successfully built. (and it has big problems )

I think the phrase is we are buying a 'pig in a poke' as there is no reference plant to go and see.
drunken monkey - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Richard J:

You could maybe argue that nuclear should be killed here in the UK as well, given that gas is so cheap on the world market.
GrahamD - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to krikoman:

Thats a very black and white way of looking at things. Nothing is 100% safe so its all about what small level of risk / consequence we are going to live with.

So service people away from major population centres are obviously subjected to higher risks than office workers: its the nature of their job. War machinery isn't 'safe'.

Ships reactors almost certainly are relatively safe (or disasters have been remarkably well hidden) but that doesn't mean that safeguards are adequate in a static civilian environment.
GrahamD - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to drunken monkey:

> You could maybe argue that nuclear should be killed here in the UK as well, given that gas is so cheap on the world market.

If you wanted to take a particularly shortsighted view on future gas price trends (courtesy of Russia) and on greenhouse gas emissions.
drunken monkey - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

The idea being that you use gas plants to supplement renewable systems and support peak demand.

GrahamD - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to drunken monkey:

Its an idea I suppose. If you believe that renewables are going to be able to providing more than a small proportion of our energy anytime soon and the need for baseload capacity magically disapears.
Richard J - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to krikoman:

> I thought as much, surely one of the major sticking points of Hinkley was the cost! Break that down to smaller units, you might lose some efficiency (though I don't know how anyone would know this as the Hinkley reactor hasn't got a similar one running yet). But it must make more sense to have smaller ones rather than one massive unit, which if it breaks the it's f*cked.

Yes, you lose some efficiencies of scale in the running costs with smaller reactors. But since the overall cost of nuclear power is so dominated by the cost of financing the upfront capital, if you can drive down the capital cost of the reactors enough, and get at least some of them connected to the grid and making a return sooner, you can save overall. The argument for small reactors is if you make a lot of identical ones in the controlled conditions of a factory you should be able to get better at doing it, rather than making the same mistakes over and again, as seems to happen with large reactors assembled on site.

And, as you say, having lots of smaller reactors spreads the financial risk. A big plant like Hinkley is too big for the balance sheet of even a big company like EDF. If they can't deliver the project, it will probably kill the company, even with the Chinese stake.
Richard J - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> Its an idea I suppose. If you believe that renewables are going to be able to providing more than a small proportion of our energy anytime soon and the need for baseload capacity magically disapears.

Exactly. To put this in numbers, in 2015 6% of our electricity was generated by wind, wave and solar, 55% by fossil fuels, 23% by UK nuclear.
krikoman - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> So service people away from major population centres are obviously subjected to higher risks than office workers: its the nature of their job. War machinery isn't 'safe'.

I would argue that they wouldn't increase the risk from power source malfunction just because you're in the Navy.

Are Navy helicopters more dangerous than civilian ones? I doubt it, in fact I'd tend to think the opposite, there are a smaller number of different type so the people carrying out the maintenance will know more about the specific craft they are working on.

Obviously being in the forces can be dangerous, if there's a war, that doesn't mean everything is more dangerous!
GrahamD - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to krikoman:

Well for a start service personel carry live ammo. I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to at work so that automatically puts them at higher risk. On a like for like, equipment is comparable in terms of safety to civil but we aren't comparing like for like. A nuclear powered sub will have far lower margin for error than, say, the QE2 (which isn't nuclear powered).

Equally a nuclear powered sub will have far lower margin for error than a civilian power station will.
Dr.S at work - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

Interesting way of looking at things - I would expect the margin of error in nuclear installation to be higher, because the consequences of failure are greater.
wintertree - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Richard J:

> One other way a land-based small reactor is easier is that it doesn't need to be as small as a sub reactor.

Good point, thanks.

> I think submarine reactors run on much more highly enriched uranium, that wouldn't be acceptable in a civil reactor

You say that, but I believe the Russian civilian nuclear powered icebreakers such as the Yamal - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamal_(icebreaker) - run on highly enriched uranium. They also carry fee-paying tourists. Insane. I assume but don't know that their plans for floating civilian nuclear power plants are also based on highly enriched fuel. Then again are they really for civilian use or are the intended to aid a future war with China over Siberan resources...

Just because the Russians do something, doesn't mean that we should...

> (and would be out of the question for export markets for proliferation reasons). Their small size and high power density makes them more susceptible to loss of coolant accidents. On the other hand a post-Fukushima civil design would probably need to have enough passive cooling (e.g. through convection) that it would survive a loss of coolant accident at the same time as a complete loss of back-up power.

It's a mystery to me why more passively safe designs such as the pebble bed haven't become more common. In terms of designing for a Fukushima-level disaster event; you start to get to the point where you'd be better of spending the additional money on protecting the civilian population from the triggering threat, as that will kill far more people than the containable reactor incident. Close to 16,000 people were killed within minutes by the triggering disaster. Around 8,000,000 people are being killed a year by air pollution from fossil fuels. At some point it becomes sensible to accept a design that will have manageable problems after one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history followed by one of the worst tsunamis, because that is less bad than the alternatives. Not going to happen, however. We'll continue to see more people killed per kWh by wind and solar power than by nuclear...

> It's not that I think Rolls isn't capable of designing and building a civil SMR, it just won't be a direct copy of the submarine design. And whether they can do it for a more cost-sensitive environment than money-no-object MoD procurement remains to be seen.

Agreed. I don't know how much knowledge actually resides within the UK these days vs stuff bought in from the USA, and if the bits we get from the USA would be allowed to be used in civilian plant where the designs must be open to international scrutiny.
Post edited at 23:00
damhan-allaidh on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to FesteringSore:

I know this conversation is a bit old, but I don't think anyone's covered this. In a 2006 review of energy policy it was decided that, in England and Wales at least, nuclear power plants would be financed by the private sector
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/272376/6887.pdf (search 'private sector', it makes enlightening reading). A sample:

"-The Government believes that nuclear has a role to play in the future UK generating mix alongside other low carbon generation options.

-Any new nuclear power station would be proposed, developed,constructed and operated by the private sector who would also meet decommissioning and their full share of long-term waste management costs."
Lord of Starkness - on 22 Sep 2016
In reply to wintertree:

Negligible risk of a tsunami affecting the Hinkley site. There's a fecking great concrete sea wall to be built on the edge of the site - over half a mile long and 7 metres high!
Al Evans on 22 Sep 2016
In reply to FesteringSore:

My daughter in law who is a nuclear phycisist has been poached from her job in Durham to work on Hinkley Point so it's not as though we are abandoning all our expertist.
Jim C - on 22 Sep 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:


> -Any new nuclear power station would be proposed, developed,constructed and operated by the private sector who would also meet decommissioning and their full share of long-term waste management costs."

And to do that did they just add up all their worst case scenario costs, and a bit more for good measure, and then we pay for it all on the high strike price for decades to come )


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