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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nuclear Power - What Can Be Done when the Will Is There

"China poised to build more nuclear reactors in the coming years than the rest of the world combined. But questions abound whether China will be a savior for the international nuclear power industry, or a ferocious competitor that could create even greater challenges for nuclear power companies in the West....

Jiang Kejun, a director of the Energy Research Institute at the National Development and Reform Commission, the top Chinese economic planning agency, said that the government was sticking to its target of 50 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2015, compared to just 10.8 gigawatts at the end of last year.

Mr. Jiang said in an interview that nuclear power construction targets for 2020 had not yet been set and might end up slightly lower than they would have been without the meltdowns in Fukushima. But he and other Chinese officials say that China’s rapidly rising electricity consumption makes nuclear power essential. ...

China allowed existing reactors to continue operating during the safety review from March to July and allowed construction to continue at reactors where it had already begun. Chinese regulators have also encouraged electric utilities to continue planning future nuclear power plants.

... Beijing’s project to build two reactors in northeastern China, using a new generation of technology known as a pebble-bed design. Critics and advocates describe it as safer than current reactors, though its cost-effectiveness unclear.

China now has an unusually varied fleet of nuclear reactors, using French, American, Russian and homegrown technology. While awarding contracts to a wide range of multinational nuclear power plant contractors, it has required that they provide documentation on exactly how to build the reactors.
That will give China the ability to export reactors in a few years, in competition with industrialized nations, nuclear power industry experts warned. Demand outside China could revive ....

China is not only acquiring technology. It is also creating economies of scale by building dozens of reactors at the same time.

Nuclear power represented only 1.1 percent of China’s electricity generation capacity at the end of last year. ...nuclear power is on track to account for no more than 4 percent of electricity capacity by 2015.

    New York Times article

We know that energy, particularly electricity is, along with economic freedom, the prime driver of growth.

Look at the sheer amount of power here. 50 gigs of continuous flat baseload power is considerably more than all of Britain uses. Indeed in the winter peak last December we hit 60 gigs for the first time ever when it was up to 20 below zero. That involved pulling out all the stops including importing French nuclear (though it only 0.2% of the total came from windmills, since, as with such cold weather generally, there was no wind). That was the top we could manage and we came close to blackouts. But it is only to be just over 4% of what China will be producing.

   I have previously said that 93% of our electricity bills are the result of government parasitism and could be ended by a sensible nuclear programme. That was including a sensible regulatory programme and substantial savings from mass production. The article confirms the latter and implies the former.

   China's growth has been on the back of electricity prices far lower than ours - or rather our industrial decline is directly caused by our industry being loaded with grossly uncompetitive energy prices. Our prices are set to soar by at least 60% because of ever increasing subsidy of ever more windmills. China's must be expected to fall to something closer to 7% of our current ones (not all the way to 7% because their coal power, while remarkably cheap by our standards, is still higher than that.

    My guess is that the very fact of China's success here will be sufficiently persuasive of all but the most Luddite countries to ensure "Demand outside China could revive" and let them dominate the world market.

  Good luck to them. Our "world recession" which is, whatever our politicians and media say, merely an EU & US recession is not China's fault it is entirely the fault of our own political parasites. We could be out of recession in days and ultimately probably exceeding their growth rate if the politicians would allow it.

  The term "technocracy" is often used to describe our own (Scots/UK/EU) smug numptocracy and their obvious contempt for the electorate. I disagree
While those running the country in are certainly "smug & insulated" I would dispute that the term "technocracy" is in any way accurate.
China is a technocracy since all of the Presidium members are engineers or have some scientific qualification. It is hardly my ideal but it certainly has something goi8ng for it.
In our Parliament the more experienced ones are lawyers, the more noisy studied PPE (a dilettante degree providing expertise in nothing but woffling) before becoming Parliamentary interns. The civil service is also led by PPE and other classics graduates.
This is how we can have politicians who don't understand simple arithmetic waxing lyrical about windmill power and global warming. The country would be much better off if the "heights" of British politics were even open to genuine technocrats.

  China's economy has been growing at almost exactly 10% a year for over 30 years. Its electricity generation has also been growing at almost exactly 10% a year. For all that time we have been told that the Chinese boom is going to collapse real soon now. Wrong again. China's national power consumption (all types of energy) from January through August, 2011 reached 3,124 TWh, up 11.9 percent on the year.

HT Next Big Future
One way out if we insist on not building for ourselves.
building reactors costs less when the money is spent on building not chairwarming bureaucracy.

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For baseload Nuclear is ideal. Gas is useful for rapid reaction and peak loads. Wind should be stopped entirely.
Hydroelectric is very good for covering power surges but all the good sites are already in use.
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