Britain Finland, Poland, Czech Republic – uneconomic nuclear power plans

COLUMN-Finnish delay fresh warning against nuclear: Wynn By  Gerard Wynn 17 July 12, (Reuters) – The lesson from the latest delay to Finland’s planned new nuclear reactor, announced on Monday, is either build lots of them or don’t build any at all.

It is a general economic principle that costs per plant decline the bigger a programme. Historical data support that for nuclear, where it may apply more acutely given its highly specialised and often unique supply chain and engineering skills.

It makes no sense to take a suck-and-see approach, building incrementally in a modular fashion, especially for new technologies such as Finland’s advanced pressurised water reactor.

But plans by developed countries including Britain,

COLUMN-Finnish delay fresh warning against nuclear: Wynn By  Gerard Wynn 17 July 12, (Reuters) – The lesson from the latest delay to Finland’s planned new nuclear reactor, announced on Monday, is either build lots of them or don’t build any at all.

It is a general economic principle that costs per plant decline the bigger a programme. Historical data support that for nuclear, where it may apply more acutely given its highly specialised and often unique supply chain and engineering skills.

It makes no sense to take a suck-and-see approach, building incrementally in a modular fashion, especially for new technologies such as Finland’s advanced pressurised water reactor.

But plans by developed countries including Britain, Finland, Poland
and the Czech Republic are for just that. It is not surprising that
developed countries are wary of big nuclear rollouts, given the high
capital cost and the present credit squeeze for both banks and
impoverished electricity consumers.

The danger is that they are caught in an economic no man’s land,
afraid to cancel programmes altogether in the face of the falling
costs of modular approaches such as wind power, biomass or gas, or to
ramp them up.

Of countries with definite plans, Britain supports industry plans for
16 gigawatts (10 or so large power plants) by 2025. This target looks
stretched given construction has not started on any, while developers
of 6 GW have already abandoned their interest……
Consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff estimated the capital costs of a
“first of a kind” plant (built without an established supply chain) at
nearly a fifth higher than an “nth of a kind”, in a report to the
British department for energy and climate last year.

The difference may be greater, however.

Precise estimates of the cost of nuclear power seem to go in circles
depending on the views of the advocates, given so many variables
including the discount rate applied to finance; the present and future
cost of rival technologies; and an assumed carbon price.

It is useful to review the scale of actual problems faced by first of
a kind plants being built using advanced pressurised water technology
under construction in Europe.

Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima on Monday said its Olkiluoto 3
reactor would no longer meet its 2014 completion date, which itself
was five years behind schedule and is also massively over-budget at
about 4,125 euros ($5,200) per KW.

The Finnish new build plans follow those of France’s new Flamanville 3 reactor.

French utility EDF last year estimated the overnight cost (excluding
cost of finance) of its new reactor, the first to be built in France
in 15 years, at 3,600 euros ($4,600) per kilowatt, up from an initial
estimated 2,000 euros ($2,500).

The Flamanville reactor will be over-due by four years.

Britain has the boldest plans for nuclear new build in the developed world.

The country will want to avoid these kinds of cost overruns and
delays, from a lack of supply chain and skills, but that is precisely
the situation the country presently faces.

A report published last November by a UK parliamentary panel found
that Britain’s nuclear R&D workforce had declined from more than 8,000
in 1980 to less than 1,000 now, following the closure of Government
nuclear laboratories.
The R&D programme received government funding of 300-350 million
pounds a year in the 1980s, compared with 11 million pounds annually
now, it found.

It is hard to see how a rebuilding of such intellectual capital can be
cost-effective unless applied to more than three or four plants,
leaving it dithering between shelving its plans or committing to a
large, prescribed target.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/17/idUSL6E8IHD4520120717

are for just that. It is not surprising that
developed countries are wary of big nuclear rollouts, given the high
capital cost and the present credit squeeze for both banks and
impoverished electricity consumers.

The danger is that they are caught in an economic no man’s land,
afraid to cancel programmes altogether in the face of the falling
costs of modular approaches such as wind power, biomass or gas, or to
ramp them up.

Of countries with definite plans, Britain supports industry plans for
16 gigawatts (10 or so large power plants) by 2025. This target looks
stretched given construction has not started on any, while developers
of 6 GW have already abandoned their interest……
Consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff estimated the capital costs of a
“first of a kind” plant (built without an established supply chain) at
nearly a fifth higher than an “nth of a kind”, in a report to the
British department for energy and climate last year.

The difference may be greater, however.

Precise estimates of the cost of nuclear power seem to go in circles
depending on the views of the advocates, given so many variables
including the discount rate applied to finance; the present and future
cost of rival technologies; and an assumed carbon price.

It is useful to review the scale of actual problems faced by first of
a kind plants being built using advanced pressurised water technology
under construction in Europe.

Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima on Monday said its Olkiluoto 3
reactor would no longer meet its 2014 completion date, which itself
was five years behind schedule and is also massively over-budget at
about 4,125 euros ($5,200) per KW.

The Finnish new build plans follow those of France’s new Flamanville 3 reactor.

French utility EDF last year estimated the overnight cost (excluding
cost of finance) of its new reactor, the first to be built in France
in 15 years, at 3,600 euros ($4,600) per kilowatt, up from an initial
estimated 2,000 euros ($2,500).

The Flamanville reactor will be over-due by four years.

Britain has the boldest plans for nuclear new build in the developed world.

The country will want to avoid these kinds of cost overruns and
delays, from a lack of supply chain and skills, but that is precisely
the situation the country presently faces.

A report published last November by a UK parliamentary panel found
that Britain’s nuclear R&D workforce had declined from more than 8,000
in 1980 to less than 1,000 now, following the closure of Government
nuclear laboratories.
The R&D programme received government funding of 300-350 million
pounds a year in the 1980s, compared with 11 million pounds annually
now, it found.

It is hard to see how a rebuilding of such intellectual capital can be
cost-effective unless applied to more than three or four plants,
leaving it dithering between shelving its plans or committing to a
large, prescribed target.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/17/idUSL6E8IHD4520120717

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: