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Published on July 18th, 2013 | by Joshua S Hill

41

Wind And Solar Competing With Nuclear

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July 18th, 2013 by
 
The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013 (WNISR) was published last Thursday and revealed a measly growth of over 1.2 GW during 2012 globally, compared to 32 GW of solar growth in the same time. In fact, the nuclear industry seems to be in decline in every category and in every country across the face of the planet, and many are laying the blame equally at the feet of the Fukushima disaster and the growth of the renewable energy sector.

The report us subsequently proclaiming the end of the “nuclear renaissance.”

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report bill themselves as “the Independent Assessment of Nuclear Developments in the World,” and are headed up by lead authors Mycle Schneider and Anthony Patrick Froggat, with support from Steve Thomas, Dough Koplow, and Julie Hazemann. The report “provides a reality check of the current situation and trends of an industry in great difficulties”, as well as this year providing “an essential status report on the complex situation that arose from the triple meltdowns in Fukushima” in 2011.

Coming in at 140 pages long, the WNISR outlines the decline and fall of nuclear as a viable future alternative to fossil fuel energy sources.

On 29 June 2013, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declared at the Ministerial Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia that “nuclear power will make a significant and growing contribution to sustainable development in the coming decades.” The figures, however, do not bear this out. Annual nuclear electricity generation reached a peak of 2,660 TWh in 2006, before dropping to 2,346 TWh in 2012, a 7% decrease compared to 2011, and a 12% decrease compared to its 2006 peak. The report points out that approximately three-quarters of this decline can be placed at the feet of Japanese insecurity following the Fukushima disaster, but 16 other countries — including the top five nuclear generators — all decreased their nuclear generation to some extent as well.

Nuclear’s share in the world’s power generation mix has declined steadily over the past two decades, after it reached its peak of 17% in 1993. It has since dropped to approximately 10% in 2012, while nuclear’s share of global commercial primary energy production dropped dramatically to 4.5%, a figure last seen in 1984. Given that the average age of nuclear energy plants is 28 years old — which includes 190 units over the age of 30, of which 44 are over the age of 40 — it is no surprise that nuclear is in decline.

However the increase of renewable energy in the global energy generation mix has also played its part.

The WNISR split their analysis of the fight between nuclear and renewable energies into three categories; investment levels, installed capacity, and electricity generation.

According to the WNISR global investment in renewable energy during 2012 totalled $268 billion, a drop from the $300 billion seen in 2011. These figures were derived from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports, figures which were recently confirmed by second quarter 2013 figures released by BNEF. 2013 Q2 investment in global clean energy was up, reaching $53.1 billion, and again we saw that the greatest investment was directed towards utility-scale renewable energy projects such as wind farms and solar parks, just as was the case for 2012′s figures.

“These figures are a mixture of sweet and sour,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“On the sour side, 2013 globally is still running below 2012, which was itself down on the 2011 investment record. And European investment is clearly being hit by cuts in support for renewable energy and by policy uncertainty, notably ahead of the German election in September.

“On the sweet side, the US is back in business following the hiatus that resulted from fears about the possible expiry of the Production Tax Credit for wind at the end of 2012. And the 50% rally in clean energy share prices since their lows last summer, with rises of 200% or more for Tesla Motors and a clutch of major wind and solar manufacturers, is rekindling – at least for the moment – the appetite of stock market investors for equity raisings.”

Unsurprisingly, given the relative danger and cost of nuclear power when compared to renewable energies like solar and wind, three of the world’s four largest economies — China, Germany, and Japan — as well as India are now generating more power from renewables than from nuclear power.

In fact, since 2000, the annual growth rates for onshore wind and solar photovoltaics have grown 27% and 42% respectively, resulting in 45 GW of wind and 32 GW of solar being installed during 2012, compared to only 1.2 GW of net addition to the nuclear industry. This is played out in the level of electricity generated as well, with wind producing almost 500 TWh more than it did in 2000, and solar another 100 TWh over what it did in the same year. On the other side, nuclear power generated 100 TWh less than it did in 2000.

The full report can be read here (PDF), and includes 40 pages of detailed country-by-country information, as well as an update on the challenges triggered by the Fukushima disaster.

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



  • pateriot

    Today I passed hundreds of giant windmills across the M46 of Michigan, costing hundreds of millions of dollars… all at a complete standstill! Wind may be better than solar but it is still, yet another, Liberal boondoggle!!!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Many people today drove past nuclear reactors and coal plants which have gone out of business because they could not be profitably operated. Cheap wind and natural gas have made life difficult for them. Solar prices are dropping rapidly and will bring more misery to thermal plants that have fuel costs.

      The only boondoggle I see around here is your information level.

      Wind is lowering the cost of electricity in Texas. Solar is lowering the cost of electricity in Germany. Got to get enough on line to move the dial. When that happens old tech starts to die off.

      Cheaper, cleaner electricity is coming to your grid.

      Thank liberals….

  • sunshinesuperman

    “Others” comment on the current production from PV, Wind and Nuclear is revealing. With 100GW of PV today and prices falling, by 2030 PV is likely to outstrip the “energy” production of all nuclear in the world by a very wide margin, specially with nuclear costs on the increase. All it takes is a modest rate of PV deployment, about what it is at the moment. With more people realizing the value proposition of current prices, the rate of PV deployment can only increase. The nuclear industry has been done-in, “in relative short order” by the Chernobyl disaster.

    The fossil fuel, utility and nuclear industries have done their best to push back on PV deployment for the last 30 years. However, mankind can live in ignorance only for so long, specially with the widespread communication capabilities of today, around the world. You can not compete with free for long; silicon and solar power are essentially free … much freer than free beer.

  • Others

    China has developed a CAP 1400 nuclear reactor and they are planning to export it. Expect the prices of nuclear power to go down.

    http://www.snptc.com.cn/en/index.php?optionid=939

  • Others

    Just to summarize.
    Nuclear is good for base load power generation.
    Solar & Wind are good for peak load power generation.

    Solar & Wind are ideal for small towns, many homes & schools & stores.

    But we should not try to replace nuclear with Solar & Wind.

    In this process, we will only help Coal & Oil increase its share. That’s what happened in the last 12 years.

  • Others

    Here is the data for Capacity Factor as per bp stats for Year 2012.
    Solar Power
    Twh : 93
    Mwh : 93,000,000
    Installed Capacity: 100,115 MW
    Mwh/year in 2012 : 928.93
    Capacity Factor : 10.6 % (928.93 / 8760 * 100) : 8,760 = 365 days * 24 hours / day

    Wind Power
    Twh : 521.3
    Mwh : 521,300,000
    Installed Capacity : 284,237 MW
    Mwh/year in 2012 : 1,834.03
    Capacity Factor : 20.94 %

    Nuclear Power
    Twh : 2,476.6
    Mwh : 2,476,600,000
    Installed Capacity : 320,000 MW (50,000 MW is down in Japan)
    Mwh/year in 2012 : 7,739.38
    Capacity Factor : 88.35 %

    It will never make sense to compare Solar & Wind with Nuclear power for base load power generation. Nuclear power in pursued in 40 countries including Saudi Arabia which is a major Oil Power.

    By suppressing Nuclear, we are only aiding Coal & Oil. BTW, the concept of Peak Oil is slowly dying with the increase in Shale Oil.

    • heinbloed

      And no link to these phantasies? Ashamed of mentioning the source?

      • Others

        Down load the energy statistics at bp.com. Here is the link

        http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/about-bp/statistical-review-of-world-energy-2013.html

        • heinbloed

          Nowhere in the world an atomic electricity industry delivers

          ” Capacity Factor : 88.35 % ”

          That statement is plain rubbish.

          Check the published numbers of the national grid operators around the globe.

          This capacity factor number is a theoretical value based on ‘idealised calculations’. Advertising material.

          It assumes for example that an atomic powerplant reaches it full life time. Only a few do so.

          That BP is downplaying the capacity of PV and wind – who would have thought so?

          Their own ‘success’ in the PV industry lead to these meager results I suppose?
          Billions they sank. ‘Proving’ that PV doesn’t work.

          • Others

            We know the installed Solar PV capacity and also the generated Solar power would have come from some Solar based organization.

            Just make a simple calculation.

            12 hours a day is full darkness, so reduce to 50%.

            Cloudy, Rainy, Snowy days take away another 20%, so reduce to 30%.

            In the early mornings and late evenings, when sunlight does not beam on the panels, output is lesser, so reduce to 20%.

            Only the utility scale panels on the ground track the sun and has higher efficiency, but much of the roof top panels especially in Europe don’t track and misses lot of light. Now you can agree.

            Note : Germany and Italy are much north of USA.

            Check the Solar Radiation in USA.

            http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/1961-1990/redbook/atlas/serve.cgi

          • heinbloed

            There are state bodys responsible for statistics and education. Privateerers have nothing to say.

            Here the French state body for electricity (and energy) giving a 66% availability for atomic power for yesterday:

            Actual generation:

            http://clients.rte-france.com/lang/an/visiteurs/vie/prod/realisation_production.jsp

            On-line yesterday:

            http://clients.rte-france.com/lang/an/visiteurs/vie/prod/parc_reference.jsp

            Note that non-delivering atomic power plants are huge electricity consumers themself.

            Here the German body eex, the electricity exchange, showing an avaiability of 64% for yesterday, there 12.1GW of installed capacity:

            http://www.transparency.eex.com/en/Voluntary%20Commitment%20of%20the%20Market%20Participants/Power%20generation/Previous-day-generation

            In Japan there are 2 atomic reactors at the moment working/delivering to the grid. They produce together only a fraction of what the atomic industry needs to cover their own demand. A so called minus-availability.
            Put that into a global context.

            As you can see those who post here are informed and no advertising clowns.

            Now bring us the Scandinavian numbers, the British, Dutch and Belgian.

            And no advertising material please.

            Spare us Readers Digest, the results of digestion we had enough of from the atomic mafia’s aprentice boys here.

      • Martin Vermeer

        Actually these numbers look rather realistic — and don’t mean what some folks think they mean.

        Now, I could mention that contrary to wind and solar, a nuclear reactor manages only 30% thermodynamic efficiency — throwing 70% away, into the environment as waste heat.

        …and when I look at the main road leading into my city, I see that even during rush hour, half of the lanes are almost empty. Morning rush our, one half, evening rush hour, the other half. And outside rush hour, both lanes are almost empty… not a good ‘capacity factor’, that. Still I would call this a useful road :-)

        There are many ways of presenting numbers…

    • Hans

      The capacity factor for solar is realistic for Northern Germany which is on the same latitude as Quebec. In the Mediterranean area the value will be more than 20%. New York lies on the same latitude as Madrid!

      Capacity factor is not a measure of reliability or usefulness. For example a coal power plant mostly works at full capacity an thus has a high capacity factor, but it cannot respond quickly to a changing demand. A hydro plant with dam can respond quickly to changes in demand, but will mostly work below rated level. Especially in arid regions solar power will be well correlated to demand and thus more useful than a coal or nuclear plant that produces day and night at the same level.

  • Ed

    The problem with solar farms is that they are an environmental disaster. Thousands of acres in the high desert are being destroyed. Installation of the panels requires scraping off the top soil. When the wind blows, the dust is so bad one can hardly see a quarter mile. The solar companies can’t seem to find a solution.

  • Roger Blomquist

    Can you provide your source for nuclear being dangerous relative to renewables?

    • Ronald Brakels

      I don’t know if this is what you want, but you could compare the insurance costs of different generating capacity.

    • heinbloed

      Well, who can’t?

      http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130718p2g00m0dm033000c.html

      http://www.isciencetimes.com/articles/5641/20130715/fukushima-vegetables-fukushima-disaster-nuclear-meltdown.htm

      http://rt.com/news/radiation-fish-fukushima-japan-385/

      The advice to mothers: eat more vegetables, fish, folic acid …..

      You can contact the Tchernobyl aid organisations who help amputated children as well as non-amputated ones. They might tell you about PV-panel risks and wind mill syndroms, but I don’t think so …..

    • Others

      Well said Roger.

      Here is the count of deaths in nuclear accidents. Except Chernobyl which happened in the Communist Soviet Union, there is no deaths in any nuclear plant. These guys are just scaremongering.

      Three Mile Island : 0 (Direct Death), 0 (Indirect Death)
      Chernobyl : 31 (Direct Deaths), 4000 (Indirect Deaths)
      Kashiwazaki : 0 (Direct Death), 0 (Indirect Death)
      Fukushima : 0 (Direct Death), 0 (Indirect Death)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_power_accidents_by_country

      • heinbloed

        No link, no source for this inhuma publishing of rubbish? Not ashamed of publishing it?

        The term ‘radiation sickness’ is well known.

        This man died of it, the fool ordered the destruction of the personal radiation controll units of his men when the catastrophe happened, after he neglected the safety of the nation:

        http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130710p2a00m0na012000c.html

        There were hundreds of deaths in and around Fukushima.

        http://digitaljournal.com/article/308815

        http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/07/national/tepco-admits-culpability-in-fukushima-farmers-suicide/#.UeiEpazlPcs

        • Others

          All those hundred’s of dead were because of Tsunami, not because of Nuclear accident. Nuclear melt down is not like nuclear bomb. Don’t get confused.

          • Altair IV

            Don’t YOU get confused either. No immediate deaths ≠ not dangerous! The radioactive material released in the meltdown is going to result in many long term health risks and early deaths. I’m now personally concerned for my own long-term welfare because (unlike you) I live only a few hundred kilometers from the site and I’m at real risk of consuming contaminated fish and produce.

            Not to mention the huge pile of radioactive debris that still needs to be cleaned up and the large exclusion zone around it where a large number of people will probably never be able to return to their homes again.

            So why don’t you try coming over here to Japan and try telling some of the people who’ve had their lives completely overturned by the disaster that nuclear power is “safe”? I’m sure they’d just love to hear it.

            But really, go ahead and believe what you want. No matter how much you delude yourself, it doesn’t matter in the long run. Nuclear power is dead. It’s no longer viable, economically, politically, or technologically. Dead dead dead!

          • Martin Vermeer

            Altair IV,

            don’t get personally concerned about this before you have actually, properly, calculated the risk to you as an individual — risk perspective being something human beings are known to be very poor at.

            If, in the past, you didn’t choose your domicile based on the level of natural background radiation there, then you should exercise the same common sense also now. You know, the foreigners fleeing out of Japan immediately after the disaster received more radiation on their flight out than they would ever have gotten from Fukushima, had they chosen to stay!

            Now of course, on the population level the situation and the responsibilities are different, as it is in the actual disaster zone. But for individuals, there is nothing to fear but fear itself: you will die in the end, there is a fair chance that it will be of cancer, and it will with near-100% certainty not be due to Fukushima.

          • Others

            Every year 4,000 people are killed in Coal Mines, besides this the # of people dying because of pollution runs into 100s of 1,000s. Same is the story with Oil with people killed in war and civil wars and pollution.

            Compared to this nuclear is far more safer. Big Oil and King Coal are scaremongering the people and these environmental groups are just joining them.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Luckily for us the choice is not nuclear or coal or petroleum.

            We need neither.

            We’ve got far more energy available from wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, hydro and biomass/fuel than we could ever use.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How about the deaths of senior citizens while they were being evacuated from Fukushima?

            Old people dying don’t count?

            It’s a bit early to declare that no one died from radiation effects at Fukushima. Cancer doesn’t appear overnight.

        • Martin Vermeer

          > This man died of it,

          No he didn’t.

          Look up “latency period, radiation”.

      • Martin Vermeer

        The 4000 number from WHO which everybody is quoting (without ever reading the source, it seems) is only a partial count, for the immediate surroundings of the disaster site. The WHO report is quite explicit about it. They refused to give an estimate for the rest of the world, as such numbers would be ‘too uncertain’.

        Others have not been so squamish: 34,000 globally, or 18,000 for Europe.

        Same with Fukushima: zero is the number of death certificates reading “Fukushima”, not the number of deaths

        We will never know the precise number, but prudent policy considers best estimates based on the best science available.

    • Martin Vermeer

      About comparing nuclear and renewables, what you’re looking for is this web site, largely based around the European ExternE externalities study.

      Note that some of the computations he does are questionable. Not only does he accept the 4000 estimate as global, he divides it over future global nuclear production for 1985-2030! Of course attribution should be to past nuclear production at 1985. Doing it properly would produce something like 2.8 deaths/TWh instead of the 0.04 he finds. This is way more than the fractional numbers he finds for renewables, and more in line with natural gas.

      OTOH of course taking a single event as representative for the whole nuclear industry is questionable. Compared to the Western nuclear industry, Chernobyl was very atypical. But, if we want nuclear to be the world’s baseload, most of the new capacity will be in countries whose safety culture may represent that of the Soviet Union more than ours… I expect the next big nuke accident to happen in China.

      And we haven’t talked proliferation yet.

  • Lucas K.

    One factor is always forgotten. The speed you can place new energy production. Solar on grid scale can be organized and placed in 2 years, or even shorter. Nuclear takes at least 10 years.

    • RobS

      Which means that a nuclear plant being designed now has to compete against the cost of solar panels bought in 8 years time, good luck with that.

    • Roger Blomquist

      France went from near zero to 80% nuclear electric in less than 20 years.

      • Ronald Brakels

        That’s a good example of how quickly the generating mix in a grid can change. Another example is how South Australia went from basically all fossil fuels to one third renewable in 7 years. I don’t know if France’s current transition to renewables will proceed as quickly, but they plan for their primary energy use to be 23% renewable by 2020.

      • heinbloed

        For the safety of the nation they must be demolished as quick as possible:

        http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pei/2013/04/French-nuclear-best-done-quickly-says-sector-safety-chief.html

    • heinbloed

      Germany installed more than 7 GWp/ year in 2010, 2011 and 2012 . PV alone. Plus wind and biomass.

      7GW PV correlate to about 1 GW of atomic power.
      I never heard of a an atomic powerplant to be designed or installed and connected to the grid within a year.

      Or being demolished and recycled within a year.

      The French EDF still doesn’t know how to demolish atomic power plants. never thought of it.

    • Others

      Look at the speed at which the Chinese are building nuclear power plants. Just 4 years. The same country that has industrial labor to make the solar panels @ $1/watt is the same country that builds nuclear reactor in dozens.

      • heinbloed

        The last atomic power plant which was connected to the grid in China took 28 years to build.

        There are only 21 ‘commercial’ reactors in China, not dozens.

        Where do you get this blubber from?

        The population of China is treated as a flock of guinea pigs by the atomic mafia. So EDF says:

        http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/states/french-nuclear-reactors-to-be-tested-in-china-prior-to-supply-for-jaitapur/article4807515.ece

        • Others

          The 28 years would have been the reactor built in Mao’s time. Read the news, it takes only 4 – 5 years for them to build. Here is the list of reactors under construction by them.

          In fact they have 28 under construction.

          http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/China–Nuclear-Power/#.UeicoI2sh8E

          • heinbloed

            The building of Ningde atomic power plant/China which went in operation 2012/2013 took 28 years.

            In 1985 the people living there were evicted, the planning started, the site was layed out.

            You are obviously unfamiliar with building processes, esp. in the atomic industry.

            Planning and sit preparation are part of the building process.

            Check the IAE reports from before 2000, Ningde is stated there as “under construction”.

            ———–

            In England Hinkley Point C is “under construction”. Since a long time.

            Costing every day £ 1 Million.

            And not even a fence errected.

            This propaganda of the IEA ( China has 28 reactors under construction ) is used by the duds who do not realise what the term “under construction” means: it costs money, consumes electricity and doesn’t deliver a single Watthour. At the very moment!

            As said: £1 Million per day to list a mafia project in the IEA list

            See

            http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Fresh-blow-Hinkley-Point-C-nuclear-reactor-build/story-18790229-detail/story.html#axzz2ZTpqtcOK

          • Others

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ningde_Nuclear_Power_Plant

            Construction started in 2008 and commission date is December 2012. So even if they have started in January 2008, its less than 5 years. Why are you saying 28 years.

          • heinbloed

            ” Why are you saying 28 years.”

            See my posting above. Land purchase, planning, evictions, paying overheads is part of the planning process.

            Therefore the building took 28 years.

            The Chinese atomic mafia changed the plans several times, put the project on hold, started again, found faults, no money, corruption, demolished, started all over again.

            28 years it took from evicting the farmers to get the first kWh delivered.

            There are many similar projects in the list of the IAEA.

            The very long “under construction” projects (more than 20 or 25 years) they moved from the list last year.

            When they had the funny idea to delist the idled and exploded Japanese reactors from the list the numbers of atomic reactors “on-line” dropped by more than 10 % globally.

            That did not look nice, so the jokers put the 40something Japanese time bombs back on their list of global atomic capacity.

            Despite they aren’t delivering but consuming electricity!

            Your BP papers claiming an 80something percentage of full availability of atomic power plants are for toilet paper.

            Independant statistics please. And no advertising trash.

            Get used to the term “under construction” before using/posting it.
            We all have seen to much of constructed reality from the atomic mafia.

            Read the IAEO statistics and compare them with reality as you see it before quoting them.

            We call that media competence……

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