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Friday, February 08, 2013

Nuclear and Shale Gas - Lets Not Let The Best Be the Enemy Of The Good

  I still have no doubt that nuclear power, if unfettered by unnecesary political regulation, would be a small fraction of the cost of current power - I have previously suggested 7%.
   I have no problem with necessary regulation but since nuclear is easily the safest method of power generation the overwhelming majority of regulation is clearly pure political parasitism.
   From a purely engineering point of view niclear, being the most concentrated sort of energy should, if the laws of thermodynamics are to be believed, be inherently least expensive.
   However since we live in the world as it is it seems that the best thing to cvoncentrate on today is shale gas. With gas having dropped to 1/4 of its previous price in the US we should expect electricity produced by it to drop to about half current gas prices, which curently roughly match nuclear. So if in a fully free market we could have unlimited electricity at 7% of current costs, in one in which shale was unrestricted we could have it at 14% of current costs. That is about £200 a year, rather than £100 but still dar lower than the curent £1,300, heading for £2,000 the LabNatConDemGreens insist on.
   Still easily enough to end fuel poverty and make the economy grow, if the politicians want it (or the voters get to decide they want new politicians).
   I have come to this conclusion because of a whole range of links provided by the GWPF. But equally lets never let the "renewablists" fraudsters ever get away with saying that any of the lies about neclear they have ever told are in any way more truthful than the lies they are now telling about shale gas, or that if they had not known, all along, that their CO2 scare is a total fraud by total, pensioner murdering,  fraudsters, that they could ever have opposed nuclear, as the only practical way to create mass power without CO2:
"Duke Energy’s decision to dismantle a Florida nuclear power plant rather than undertake the costliest- ever U.S. atomic repair shows how rapidly cheap natural gas is remaking the U.S. power industry, hastening a shift from traditional fuels such as coal and uranium. Duke’s Crystal River Unit 3 plant in Florida joins Dominion Resources Inc.’s Kewaunee reactor in Wisconsin as the first to be shuttered in the U.S. because of growing shale gas supplies, serving as signposts for utilities from Japan to Belgium also considering decommissioning reactors. At least four other U.S. reactors are also at risk of early retirement due to new power market economics --Julie Johnsson & Jim Polson, Bloomberg, 7 February 2013
Thierry Vandal, president of Hydro-Québec, told a National Assembly committee hearing on the decommissioning of Gentilly-2 that shale gas killed Quebec’s only nuclear reactor. -- Kevin Dougherty, The Montreal Gazette, 29 January 2013

French industrial groups are up in arms as their once-celebrated nuclear-energy edge evaporates. After decades when their factories churned out everything from steel, glass and chemicals with one of the cheapest power prices in Europe thanks to the country’s 58 nuclear reactors, French companies’ competitive advantage is being whittled away as the U.S. embrace of shale gas cuts energy prices there and as Germany gives businesses fiscal breaks against green electricity costs. --Tara Patel, Bloomberg, 7 February 2013

A shale-fed plunge in gas prices is tilting the power industry toward that fuel, lowering electricity prices and pressuring profits at coal and nuclear generators. At the same time, rising fuel prices and escalating safety repairs are making older, single-unit reactors like Crystal River increasingly difficult to operate profitably. --Julie Johnsson & Jim Polson, Bloomberg, 7 February 2013

The market is telling us that right now, nothing can really compete with natural gas unless it’s renewables that are loaded with subsidies. --Samuel Brothwell, Bloomberg, 7 February 2013

Centrica has abandoned plans to build new nuclear power stations in the UK with Electricite de France, raising serious doubts over the programme. Centrica follows Perth-based SSE and Germany's RWE and E.ON in withdrawing from new-build nuclear ----Tim Sharp, The Herald, 5 February 2013

Centrica is expected to turn its back on building new nuclear power stations in Britain and instead focus its expansion on US shale gas. Executives believe there are not enough incentives to develop offshore wind projects and plan to invest in the US shale boom. With higher profit margins and shale gas offering huge opportunities, Centrica believes it is better to invest in the US. The company is planning to buy billions of pounds worth of cheap shale gas from the US over the next few years to give Britain greater energy independence. --Tom McGhie and Lisa Buckingham, Mail on Sunday, 18 November 2012

The withdrawal of Centrica from its proposed nuclear joint venture with EDF leaves a serious hole in the Government’s energy plans. Surging shale gas production offers ways to fill it, and should strengthen ministers’ hands as they consider how to hold an already fragile nuclear energy policy together. In a complex and fast-moving negotiation, this much is clear: Britain’s obligations under the Climate Change Act cannot be held to ransom by a single French contractor and its shareholders, and nor can Britain’s consumers. –The Editor, The Times, 7 February 2013.

Deposits in banks with branches in the Bakken shale region, which stretches from central North Dakota to the northeastern corner of Montana, soared 15 percent last year, to $3.9 billion, after rising 27 percent in 2011, according to preliminary data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “By any standard, deposits are exploding,” says Ron Feldman, senior vice president for supervision, regulation, and credit at the Minneapolis Fed. --Anastasia Ustinova, Bloomberg, 7 February 2013

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I share your disappointment that nuclear appears to be abandoned even though it is the best option for base load power (cheapest, cleanest, enormous resource of fuel available, and even low CO2 if that is considered an advantage). The main advantage of nuclear, though, is that it leaves a legacy for future generations. Not only by leaving more of the "cheap" fossil fuels in the ground, but also in the technology advancements towards cleaner, and possibly clean nuclear technology. Fusion is still a dream - but would be a real game-changer if we could get to the point of commercial exploitation.
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