Cap And Trade

Published on January 4th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


Europe’s Fossil Fuel Exit — 30% Of Fossil Fuel Power Capacity To Close By 2017, UBS Analysts Project

January 4th, 2014 by  

Following up on a Credit Suisse report stating that ~85% of US energy demand growth would come from renewables by 2025, we thought it would be good to take a look at the energy trends in Europe as well. Actually, one of our readers pitched this idea prior to the publishing of that article, and did most of the research for this piece. I then had the pleasure of putting it together to create the primarily positive (with one notable hiccup) non-fiction story below. Enjoy!

Let’s start with the broad overview. UBS analysts in 2013 reported that utilities in Europe need to shut down 30% of their gas, coal, and oil-fed power capacity by 2017 — not necessarily to fight global warming, cut pollution, or cut fuel imports, but because the renewable energy revolution is pushing fossil fuels off the grid.

In other words, increasingly cheap and fast-growing renewables are killing fossil fuels in Europe.

“Producers must close 49 gigawatts of capacity to stabilize profits at 2012 levels, analysts led by Paris-based Per Lekander wrote in an e-mailed report,” according to Rachel Morison of Bloomberg. “That includes 24 gigawatts of ‘mainly cashflow positive capacity’ on top of the 7 gigawatts that utilities already plan to shut and an additional 18 gigawatts of closures expected to be announced.”

“The most important driver has undoubtedly been the remarkable increase of renewable capacity, and in particular solar, mainly in Germany,” Lekander said.

fossil fuel exit

Credit: Nuclear Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development, via @SamHamels

Unfortunately, the most closures are projected to be of natural gas power plants. Coal power’s big exit is projected to get rolling in 2015.

However, that’s not to say no coal power plants are being closed or kept off the grid until 2015. Back in August 2013, it was announced that a coal power plant in Finland would shut down due to its failing competitiveness. “Finland’s largest utility, Fortum, is closing a coal-fired power plant in Inkoo, west of Helsinki,” yle wrote. “Built in the mid-1970s, the 750 MW plant has rarely been used in recent years, only supplying backup power to the Nordic grid during periods of peak demand. It has long been a loss-maker. This is partly due to falling electricity prices in Europe, driven by Germany’s shift toward renewable energy.” The Finnish government, in the meantime, has committed itself to transitioning to a clean, renewable energy future — only logical, right?

And in the center of much of the clean energy revolution, Germanydozens of coal power plants have been canceled or closed in recent years, with others on the edge of the plank:

coal power plants germany

It’s true that coal power production increased in Germany in 2012, but you have to put that into some context to understand why. What many people don’t know is that many coal power plants were previously planned for Germany. The renewable energy revolution hasn’t increased the need for coal power plants, as many misinformers would have you believe, but has resulted in the majority being dropped. Closing of nuclear power plants, combined with high natural gas prices in Europe, however, did result in a slight rise in coal power production.

Natural gas is clearly the fossil fuel getting hit hardest in Europe at the moment. As Tino Andresen and Tara Patel of Bloomberg wrote in March 2013, “Three years ago, Germany’s largest utility spent 400 million euros ($523 million) building a natural gas-fired power station. Later this month, the company may close the plant because it’s losing so much money.” EON’s Irsching-5, the power plant in discussion, only operated 25% of the time in 2012! The factors for the quick death of such an expensive plant were varied, though: “As Europe’s weak economy holds back electricity demand, cheaper coal, requirements to buy renewable energy and the collapsing cost of carbon permits are undercutting gas-fired plants.”

But it’s not only happening in Germany. “Gas-fired plants are stopped three days out of four,” Gerard Mestrallet, chief executive officer of GDF Suez, France’s former gas monopoly, said at a briefing on Feb. 28. “The thermal industry is in crisis. There is overcapacity.” The story is essentially the same in the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic, and other European countries.

In the end, the story is actually rather simple: as more renewable energy comes on line, something has to go off line. Aside from nuclear power plants that are being shuttered due to old age and citizen demand, the big loser at the moment is natural gas. However, coal is on its way out too, just a bit more slowly. Of course, if there was a higher price on carbon, or other fossil fuel market dynamics changed, we could see those two switch places on their way out the door.

Anything more you’d like to add? Chime in below.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • LookingForward

    700+ comments…. shiisssh…. been reading for about an hour before I gave up 0_o

    You guys should read about Desertec: plan for the EU to get 25% of it’s electricity from the Sahara by 2050.
    Together with growth in renewable installations of all forms (I don’t count biofuels among those) and storage in whatever forms and a big continental redesign of the grid and evs, we’ll get 80% below 1990s standard.

    Solar will make another huge drop in price, why? Weither it will take the industry 5 years or 50, sceintists know for a fact it will be possible one day to get electricity from 80% of the lightspectrum, right now the average panel is at about 20%, plus cheaper inverters, installment, licensing and the rest make a price very close to 10 cents/watt.

    Imagine, one day, towns and urbanareas driving in EVs and warming with electric heating that have electric stoofs, completely of the grid, with just the use of rooftopsolar and storage. Will it take 5 years or 50 for the first town to be like that?
    Before answering, know that Icelands electricity grid is allready completely running on renewable.

    I don’t think developing countries will mind buying 25 year old solar panels for cheap, as long as they still work.
    That way we can keep expanding renewable globally, even in poor countries, idea?

    4th generation nuclear sounds pretty interesting, cause it leaves about 1% of the waste of a 3rd gen nuke and can use old nukewaste on top of that to clean that to that 1% too, to bad the tech was invented about 20 years to late.
    The US also has ideas of using micro reactors like the size in a sub for us in other areas of the military and for small remote villages and remote industry like mining.

    These are some of the comments I wanted to make, I think I forgat more then half of them, but I’m tired.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Desertec seems to have fallen apart. I suspect due to the political instability in North Africa. It seems to have been replaced by a similar program called E-Highway 2050 that brings Europe together along with, I think, Morocco.

  • heinbloed

    The map of new coal power projects for Germany (s.a.) is changing again !

    The head of RWE, Germany’s 2nd largest electricity generator has cancelled the lignite power plant in Niederaussen ( called “BoAplus”):

    See at

    On the map published above this thing sits far left, printed in green and marked with 1,100MW

    Left of Koeln(Cologne), below Krefeld.

    It is in the planning phase but won’t be build unless subsidies are paid. Since it is economically not viable – so the owner RWE on the 16th of december 2013 in the daily paper Handelsblatt.

    The winds are changing, the old maps are blown away.

    We can cross it, mark it as ‘dead duck on the plank’ 🙂

  • No way

    It’s kind of fascinating how people from outside Europe, mainly the US seem to think that Germany is some kind of green “hero”. Germany has been and still is (one of) the black sheep of Europe.

    The goal is to reduce emissions and most European countries have been working hard on this for a long time. Germany has recently started to add renewables to the mix at a high pace and that is good, but they have yet to show any big progress on the emission reduction.

    It’s kind of like cheering on the late and lazy kid in school for turning in an overdue paper that he’s getting an E- on.

    The largest black sheep in Europe is Poland though, not only for what they use but for the unwillingness (at least at government level) to change.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Let’s review our notes…

      30% of Europe’s fossil fuel plants will need to be shut down by 2017.

      “because the renewable energy revolution is pushing fossil fuels off the grid”

      “The most important driver has undoubtedly been the remarkable increase of renewable capacity, and in particular solar, mainly in Germany,”

      • No way

        I’m not saying that this article per se is trying to make Germany look like a green country. It’s just a general observation of them being pictured of some kind of role model when they go from extremely bad to very bad. And of course they are going to be the ones (in the future) closing most coal plants since they have like one third of all the capacity in Europe.
        Maybe I should just be happy that they are finally trying to catch up to the rest and not be the worst anymore…

  • Bob_Wallace

    It seems like for those most hopeful that nuclear will play a large role in our future electricity supply that China is the great hope. So I decided to look at how the nuclear industry is growing in China.

    I plotted out the number of reactor construction starts per year.

    Looks like Fukushima might have deflated that balloon. It will take a while to see it if gets patched up. Or if China’s nuclear industry is doing the dying dog….

    • jeppen

      Nice graph! The nuclear capacity target for 2020 is now 58 GWe in operation and 30 GWe under construction. The latter figure is disappointing, as this means they will not really ramp construction efforts further in this time frame (they already have 30 GWe under construction). 30 GWe is equivalent to about 6 construction starts per year, so I expect your graph to stabilize at at 6 for the rest of the decade.

      At that rate, they will have 100 reactors in 2027 to become the leading nuclear power, if the US doesn’t do anything unexpected.

      Also, according to WNA: “In July 2013 the NDRC set a wholesale power price of CNY 0.43 per kWh (7 US cents/kWh) for all new nuclear power projects, to promote the healthy development of nuclear power and guide investment into the sector.” (Regarding the claim that nuclear costs more than 15c.)

      • juxx0r

        China has a solar target of 35GW by 2015.

        “China’s State Council, or cabinet, in a statement dated July 4 but posted Monday said installed capacity for solar electricity would reach more than 35 gigawatts by 2015, and would grow by about 10 gigawatts a year between now and then. China’s previous target was 21 gigawatts, and its installed capacity in 2012 was about 7 gigawatts.”

        So by 2020 it’ll be at least 85GW at constant installation rate.

        “The government is building up a stock of demonstration distributed solar projects and is offering RMB0.42/kWh to incentivise their construction.”

        So there you have it, solar is cheaper than nuclear in China

        • jeppen

          Doesn’t really follow – “offering RMB0.42/kWh” might be in subsidies in addition to wholesale power price. Need more info.

          Also, I hope you agree that 10 GW yearly growth in solar is far, far less than 6 GW growth in nuclear?

          • CaptD

            Hope you agree that Nuclear is far more risky than Solar…

          • jeppen

            Risky in what sense? From a life cycle perspective, more people will die from solar. From an economic perspective, when solar and nuclear both are $1-2/W in China, solar isn’t risky so much as an obvious waste of capital in comparison to nuclear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “From a life cycle perspective, more people will die from solar.”

            Bull. Installing panels in a field is low risk. Lower risk than large scale construction such as reactors. People get killed operating reactors (not only from radiation). People working in solar farms would be hard pressed to get killed.

            People can get killed while installing on roofs. But only if they violate safety regulations.

            And that doesn’t address the “fuel danger”. We’ve heard of no sunshine deaths but a number of radiation deaths.

          • jeppen

            Since you had something that resembled an argument here, and didn’t just troll, I’ll entertain you with a reply.

            Solar irradiaton is an incredibly diffuse power source while uranium is incredibly dense. Therefore, more material is needed to collect solar power. That means more mining, more manufacturing, more energy expenditure and more transports. That drives the far, far higher life cycle death rates for solar. This is not controversial stuff and you will find these results in the academic literature, should you care to look.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Energy density is a red herring.

            What matters foremost is the cost of electricity produced. Also important is time of production and external costs, if any.

            We can start with very energy dense sources such as uranium, coal or oil but if it costs more to produce a kWh of electricity then density is of no value.

            Wind and solar are relatively non-dense sources. But we’ve figured out how to take those non-dense sources and produce cheap electricity.

          • jeppen

            Now you strayed from the current topic, which was deaths. There, energy density helps to explain the difference. Here is a good illustration, btw:

          • Bob_Wallace

            There’s no way to have a reasoned discussion about death simply because we don’t have the data.

            We don’t know death rates for construction of nuclear reactors. We don’t have, as far as I know, a database of operational deaths.

            We have a database for wind industry deaths up until a couple years ago.

            Was there some point you were trying to make with your video?

            We know that it takes a lot of wind turbines to equal the output of a nuclear reactor.

            We also know that the electricity from the reactor is more expensive, takes longer to bring on line, and those puppies can go sour and be a signficant PITA.

          • jeppen

            You shouldn’t say “we” when it’s really “me”. You’re trying to lay out a smoke curtain, but it won’t work. Life cycle analyses are quite clear that nuclear has far less deaths than solar, because of the reasons mentioned. Also, nuclear is well known to have less deaths than other heavy construction, for the same reasons flying is fairly safe – there is simply more order and more precautions taken.

            I won’t say much about your serial lying on costs. I’ll just mention that the strike price of nuclear is less than the strike price of wind in the UK, despite the fact that they chose the most expensive reactor design on the block and revive a dead construction industry in the UK.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Where are the records of all construction and operational deaths for nuclear? All I’ve been able to find on the web are unsubstantiated claims.
            I find no data base that lists the number of people who have been scalded to death, who have died from falls inside the plants, who have been crushed by equipment while performing repairs, etc.

            You can go on all you like about the strike price for offshore wind in the UK but some of us are aware that the wind industry has stated that the price is set unrealistically high. And speculation abounds that it was set there to take some of the heat off the government over the price they are offering for new nuclear.

          • jeppen

            So, you claim that the academics who do life cycle analyses have no basis for their numbers. Also, you claim that the UK wind industry complains that they’ll get too much money (so we’ll see an explosion in offshore wind growth in the coming few years, right?). Also, you are silent on the fact that onshore wind and solar also have higher strike prices than nuclear.

            You know what? That met my expectations fairly well.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s looking like we will see an explosion in offshore wind in our future.
            And as we build wind the price will almost certainly drop. The strike price, the FiT for offshore wind will likely be dropped quite quickly.
            Subsidies for wind and solar have brought their prices down. Over a half century of subsidizing nuclear has seen nothing but rising prices.

          • jeppen

            Nuclear has rather been used as a cash cow by most governments. Also, most countries haven’t built since the middle of the 80-ies, so we’ve not seen rising prices, nor any prices at all.

            The US and the UK are establishing new facts by restarting their construction industries. In the coming decade, we’ll get increasingly more information regarding what prices are possible under their regulatory regimes.

            In Asia (China and Korea, mainly, and at least two other countries they export to), it’s super cheap, that much we know. In the UK, all we know is that it’s not as expensive as wind and solar.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Check the bid prices for Ontario, Canada, San Antonio, Texas and Turkey. Then get back to us.

            The Vogtle reactors are already over budget and behind schedule. The costs are so far over budget that the builders have announced that they will no longer make the costs public until after the reactors are completed. (Or abandoned.)

            Overnight costs in China do not represent what reactor cost would be in another country. China is offering to build very expensive nuclear in the UK.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I’ve got a spare minute.. I’ll do it for you!

            The Darlington bid in 2009 was for $26 billion dollars, for two 1200 MW reactors, at an existing facility (Land costs not included)

            The comes in at a total of over $10.83 / watt for those keeping track at home. Don’t forget, those were prices 5 years ago, and we can expect that they would be 10% higher today, due to inflation… Possibly even higher than that considering Fukishima! That puts it at roughly $12 / watt. That works out magically close to the cost of the Hinkley C reactors! Odd that, eh?


            Furthermore, even refurbishing the existing plant for continuing use for an additional 30 years, is going to cost between 6 and 10 billion. Refurbishment cost then, comes in at around $2.85 / watt. This is in addtion to the existing $4.11 / watt that we paid in 1981.. With inflation, that number is actually $9.79 / watt. It should be noted that this reactor is notorious the world over for costing double the original budget, which nearly bankrupted the hydro company, and for which I still pay a stipend on my bill. If the Hinkley C goes similarly overbudget, and hey.. there is precident here… It would end up costing ratepayers the equivalent of $0.32 / kWh.

            It should also be noted that this expensive mid cycle refurbishment is coming less than 25 years into the life of the plant, despite being designed for 60 years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Turkey asked for bids pretty much like the UK has done. A fixed kWh price.
            The lowest bid they got was $0.21/kWh.

            So now we have a number of prices for new nuclear running from 16 to 21 cents. Real world, outside of China, numbers.

            That stuff ain’t cheap….

          • jeppen

            In the UK, all we know is that it’s not as expensive as wind and solar.

            So, you don’t know about Vogtle costs, so you guess it’s expensive. Ok. AFAIK, they don’t have to make public stuff that’s being negotiated. Different from “until after the reactors are completed”.

            Turkey seems to appreciate nuclear, since they are buying reactors in packs of four. For the first four, a construction cost of $20 billion is assumed, which is pretty standard. (UAE deal, Pakistan deal both are like $5 billion per reactor). To get the reactors built by Russia, Turkey will buy about half of the electricity produced the first 15 years for $0.1235/kWh. The rest will be sold on the open market. That’s a quite moderate subsidy, I’d say, compared to i.e. Germany’s FiT for solar. And so on.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sep 2013…

            “Georgia Power said its share of the estimated $14 billion project will rise to $6.85 billion, up from $6.11 billion,”
            That’s $0.74 billion, $740 million. And that’s only Georgia Power’s share. Georgia Power is a 45.7% owner. So I’d make it $1,619 million. $1.6 billion over budget.

            And that’s a number from March. Since then the time schedule has slipped another three months which will boost the number higher.

            19 months over schedule.


            22 Months…

            The updated long-term schedule for Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle expansion shows additional delays that may push back the reactors startup dates by another three months into January 2018 and January 2019.

            Steven Roetger, an analyst for the Georgia Public Service Commission, told regulators on Tuesday that “significant challenges to meet this schedule remain,” citing delivery timetables for major components. He said operational dates “remain far from certain.”

            Georgia Power said earlier this year the $14 billion project will take 19 months longer than originally thought, mostly because of regulatory and pre-construction delays. The utility maintains that the reactors will start producing electricity in late 2017 and 2018.
            ATLANTA — If Georgia was starting from scratch, it would not build a nuclear power plant.

            That conclusion from a state financial analyst illustrates how an anticipated boom in nuclear power turned into a bust as natural gas prices fell.

            An analyst working for state regulators, Philip Hayet, said in written testimony that the total costs of building two more nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle (VOH’-gohl) is more expensive than the next-best option, constructing natural gas plants.

            Still, Hayet said it is cheaper in most scenarios to finish the nuclear plant rather than halt the project and instead build natural gas plants.
            Hayet’s calculations have not been publicly released since they involve proprietary financial information from Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power. The cost of natural gas has plummeted since the project started.–Nuclear-Plant-Costs
            And news from further east –

            South Carolina Plants Running Late and Over Budget

            The first is now scheduled to open at the end of 2017 or early 2018, rather than March 2017

            SCE&G estimates that the delay added $200 million to the project’s cost.

            Power company Scana Corp on Wednesday told energy analysts a reactor under construction at the Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina will likely enter service several months later than expected.

            In a presentation, Scana said Unit 2, which was expected to enter service in March 2017, will instead likely enter service between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018.


          • jeppen

            So 12% over budget at one estimate in March. But it seems that the last being said (December) of Vogtle is that it’s actually ahead of schedule?

            (The 19 months over schedule, didn’t that include delays in even starting? That also adds some project costs, but not at all as much as late delays, when a lot of money has already been expended and financing costs are ticking.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Looks like their double shifts paid off and they made up for their earlier setbacks.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Again with the overnight costs.

            You’re becoming a joke.

          • jeppen

            I think overnight costs are easier to compare, since financing cost estimates vary greatly depending on political decisions, financial strength of the utility/builder and so on. But you’ve regarded me as a joke all along, and I in turn think you’re routinely intellectually dishonest, so me using overnight costs doesn’t change much, does it?

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, using overnight costs allows pro-nuclear folks to present a dishonest argument.

            If financing nuclear plants wasn’t so expensive the electricity they produce would cost about half what it actually costs.

          • jeppen

            No, you’re not being serious. Financing may add 30% or so, not 100%.

            Using overnight costs is a great way to compare nuclear costs and intermittent renewables, that has a lot of external costs in grids and backup.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Historically financing has doubled cost.

            If someone can borrow money cheaply and build fast then perhaps only a 30% increase. But borrowing cheaply generally means that taxpayers have subsidized the project by accepting liability for non-completion with a loan guarantee.

            The actual cost of financing is hidden by a subsidy that pro-nuclear folks try to wave away.

            Olkiluoto 3 is now stretching out to 13 years. That’s going to be some serious interest accumulated.

          • jeppen

            I agree. It does depend on running a tight ship.

            Olkiluoto 3, the first EPR build, is a disaster. It’ll probably cost something like a fifth of Germany’s first equivalent solar PV. That’s bad. That’s really, really bad, and I hate EDF for it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, but the difference is after spending a lot to get solar kick-started Germany has helped solar get cheap.

            Nuclear keeps getting more expensive over time.

          • jeppen

            You keep saying that, but it isn’t true, of course. And that’s why ordering more reactors are cheaper, why UK strike price is lower for later reactors, one reason why China that is mass producing is cheaper and so on.

            All industrial work has this property. Again, you assume that nuclear is somehow magical and different from other industries. It isn’t, it’s just another industry.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Perhaps you would benefit by reading something about the history of nuclear pricing in the US.
            Pay attention to how costs continued to rise until nuclear construction was stopped.

            And take a look at how new build estimates have risen over the following years.

          • jeppen

            The US isn’t the world. And also, even the US flurry of new nuclear regulation seems to have been easing up a bit, and that’s what has been driving costs.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yeah, regulations were ramped up post Fukushima. And post Sandy when backup gens went underwater.

            A lot of nuclear backup generation failed the smell test.

            The F5 tornado that hit Joplin a while back? That’s not all that far from the Fort Calhoun reactor. After the tornado people were doing a “what if”.

            The reactor should have survived a direct hit from a F5. Obviously the grid would have been stripped away. It would have taken quite a long time to pull new wire to the site and hook it up. That meant that the backup generator would be needed to prevent a meltdown.

            Thing was, the backup generator was housed in a simple metal building that wouldn’t have survived a F3 hit.

            That’s the sort of thing that bothers some people so much about nuclear. The unknown unknowns. Who knows what Homer has left uncovered. When he’ll next crawl through the innards with a lit candle….

          • Steve Grinwis

            It’s not just the U.S. though… Or did you miss my post about 26 billion dollar reactors, and 10 billion dollar refurbishments? Or Turkey’s $0.26 / kWh pricing?

            Solar may not be as cost effective an option yet in Britain… It apparently rains there more than I thought.

            However, the strike price for wind will be cheaper than the strike price for nuclear starting in 2017, which is probably a solid decade before the nuclear plant ever generates power, if it see traditional delays. And a few years after that it declines again. By the time Hinkley C ever starts a single turbine spinning, it will already be more expensive, never mind 35 years into the future, when people will be cursing this government.

          • jeppen

            If EDF and the Chinese believed in what you called “traditional delays”, then they wouldn’t accept the project.

            Turkey’s pricing is just for half of the electricity for 15 years, so it’s not by itself indicative of the electricity cost. It should rather be viewed as a delayed subsidy. 26 billion dollars was for a pair of reactors, and only a rumour from Canada, IIRC.

            The strike price for wind cheaper in 2017? Perhaps, perhaps not. It’s hard to know what politicians decide, but right now, it isn’t. You’re another one of these believers in ever-decreasing costs for wind and solar, but we cannot know that.

            In the future, possibly people will be cursing the greens who stood in the way of real solutions to climate change, air pollution problems, mountaintop removal, gas fracking and more. Or I’m wrong and they’ll say that the millions who died from smog and some minor climate change was a reasonable sacrifice for eventually getting wind and solar instead of nuclear power.

          • Steve Grinwis

            It’s not a rumor from Canada… It’s a real bid, submitted for a pair of 1200 MW reactors, at a price of over $10 / watt by AECL. You can look it up.

            The strike prices for 2017 has already been set… I’m using the published strike prices. You can look it up.

          • jeppen

            Problem is, I keep finding stuff like this: “Sources close to the bidding, one involved directly in one of the bids, said that adding two next-generation Candu reactors at Darlington generating station would have cost around $26 billion.”

            To me, that’s rumors. Do you have trustworthy sources that proves it to be more than a rumor?

            Strike prices can be adjusted and already have been, IIRC.

          • Steve Grinwis

            What I’m seeing here is “There’s a number I don’t like, so I’m going to dismiss the widely published value”

            The strike prices were adjusted DOWN for solar and wind, and UP for nuclear IIRC.

            I’m not sure why I keep arguing with you. It’s clear that you are completely unwilling to argue on any kind of factual basis.

          • jeppen

            “Never check a good story.”

            But that’s right – when I ask for facts, and not rumors, that means I’m unwilling to argue on any kind of factual basis. You really had me there.

          • CaptD

            As in FUKUSHIMA and its Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster potential!

        • CaptD

          Good points.

          One thing is sure, twenty years from now Solar (of all flavors) will be far cheaper than it is now and far more efficient; plus the equipment being installed today will still be in operating safely…

          The same cannot be said for nuclear, unless some amazing breakthrough is made and I believe the odds on that are slim to none… Time will tell.

      • Bob_Wallace

        What the graph shows is that China had a robust nuclear program.

        Renewable prices fell, Fukushima melted down and now China seems to not have a robust nuclear program.

        The increased capacity you speak of comes from decisions to build prior to Fukushima and the new economic reality.

        • jeppen

          You know, you can’t create reality by wishful thinking. The current nuclear plans in China is what I said they are. You’re allowed to think that they won’t follow through, but then we’ll just have to agree to disagree and see how it plays out.

          • Bob_Wallace

            China is on track to get 6% of their electricity from nuclear. Most of that is coming from reactors whose construction started pre-Fukushima.

            Following Fukushima China has drastically cut the number of new reactor starts and boosted wind and solar installation.

            China took a year post Fukushima to reevaluate their nuclear program. The year after that they started less than half as many reactors as they had been building per year. And the year after that the number fell further.

          • CaptD

            Bob Great Chart…

            I believe that China wants to keep its finger in the nuclear pie but at the same time they cannot affrd to get burnt by another Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster like Fukushima that might also result in making one or more rivers radioactively polluted!

          • Bob_Wallace

            China has stated that they will build no more nuclear reactors inland. They have decided that they must protect their fresh water supplies.

            It could be that having to reposition to coastal builds has disrupted their build program. We’ll have to wait and see if starts pick up over the next few years.

          • CaptD

            Yes, inland reactors will forever be a perfect weak spot target because they could not only devastate a Country financially but also wipe out the areas that are downwind and/or downstream of them…

            A great example is if a N. Korean reactor had a problem S. Korea wold be completely helpless…

      • LookingForward

        In 2013 China build over 12 GW of solar and wants get over 14 GW in 2014.
        Compaired to nuclear 6 GW anually?!
        How do you like them apples, Jep Nukem! 😛

        • jeppen

          My apples are better than your oranges. 😛

          6 GW nuclear will yield about twice as much energy as 14 GW solar. There is a big difference between a 24/7 source such as nuclear and a 10-20% capacity factor source such as solar.

          • LookingForward

            You’re right about that (about nuclear being 24/7, not about it being twice as much, 12.5GW*8hours=100GW per day versus 6GW*24hours=144GW).
            But still China is increasing annual solar installations and not nuclear, why do you think that is?
            I think because installation times are way shorter, it will take about 20 years AFTER the about 10 year installation time for nuclear to catch up, that’s 30 years, plus nuclear needs alot of government funding/loans from banks, solar is privately payed, with or without loans from banks.
            What do you think?

    • CaptD

      Bob I believe that most if not all of what we all are seeing as China’s future Nuke growth is really only their Nuke project’s momentum; i.e. Projects that are already in their Energy pipeline and too far along for the Chinese to stop at this point. China and others like S. Korea, Japan and Russia will try and build them for other Countries that want nuclear for status symbols no matter the cost and are willing to allow the manufactures to be held harmless if anything goes wrong, like another Fukushima…

      • Bob_Wallace

        That’s what the graph suggests. Since Fukushima China’s reactor start numbers are greatly down.

        Were China charging forward to being a major user of nuclear energy, on the scale of France, then they would be increasing their reactor starts, not lowering them.

        We know that China took a year off following Fukushima to reevaluate their nuclear program. That was 2011. And it would be understandable that their rate might be down a bit in 2012 as they restarted. But 2013 is down from 2012.

        Now that does not mean that China has decided to no longer pursue large scale nuclear. But until we see start rates return to the pre-Fukushima level then we shouldn’t be holding China up as a leader in nuclear adoption.

        • CaptD

          Agreed, I believe that China is learning much more from Fukushima than anybody except possible the Germans…

          A coastal meltdown may become a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster but an inland Fukushima would be orders of magnitudes worse especially if BOTH land and rivers were to become radioactively polluted for generations if not forever for any reason like a War or Nature…

  • heinbloed


    ALDEL – the Dutch aluminia smelter- went bancrupt for 2 reasons: high electricity prices and low aluminia prices.

    This is official:

    Use google-translate or similar.

    German electricity is cheaper than Dutch electricity, this is official (s.a.) and can be checked at the electricity exchange every day:

    The smelters for the scrap aluminia will stay open at ALDEL(at least for another few weeks) but the Bauxit smelters are bankrupt and have closed.

    ALDEL’s magement was extreme incompetent, they purchased electricity in the long term, years ahead whilest international electricity prices dropped sharply, day for day, month for month, year for year.
    Thanks to RE from Germany, Denmark, Norway and others.

    Other large consumers in Europe like for example Georgmarienhuette (steel smelter) in Germany buy their electricity on the spot market, day-ahead. And therefore are growing by being compatible to market demands.

    Whilest Arcelor Mittal in France (steel smelter) is strugling to survive, they are not allowed to purchase on the spot market nor are they allowed to build their own power plant nor are they allowed to build cables to Germany.
    To protect the atomic Mafia’s market.
    That is official as well.

    ALDEL would have been saved with a direct link to the German drid, they aren’t far away from the border.
    But managment was delaying decisions until it was to late, incompetence it was, total ignorance of the Energiewende.

    • heinbloed


      The closure of ALDEL’s Bauxit smelter means the closure of several coal power plants in Europe, again.

      And a smaller market for USA-coal exports.

      The alumina smelters went years ago to Iceland (hydro power),to Saudi Arabia (cheap oil and gas). Where ever electricity is cheap and a relyable grid available.

  • jeppen

    Renewables are still only greenwashing coal. I’ll believe it close fossil plants when I see it. Btw, if some fossil plants actually close before 2018 or so, then they might well be restarted again, because Germany is closing all its nuclear reactors 2017-2022, with 7 of 9 in 2021-2022. So any fossil gain until then might vaporize come 2022.

    • ghawar

      recall that sweden had 30 years to get off the nuclear power.

      the deadline was 2010. however, they simply continued using the nuclear power and now there is no talk of the phase out. most likely in germany it will be the same thing. when the deadline approaches realpolitik wins, and the past promises are quietly forgotten.

      • jeppen

        Yes, perhaps that was the idea when scheduling the major shut-downs within just two years – to make it unreasonable to carry through. But as a Swede, I know how damaging the deadline was to our nuclear industry. Little investments, minimal maintenance, no nuclear education, aging and disgruntled workforce. It is hard to recover from that.

        Also, Siemens has already quit the nuclear game and sold off its nuclear assets, just as ABB in Sweden did when in a similar situation.

        China however is conducting very broad nuclear research and are gaining experience in all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle and in all nuclear designs. It clears IPR with its own solutions or with agreements, and it has started exporting reactors. My prediction is that it will sell reactors like toasters in 15 years. This is actually fortunate for the climate – someone has to do serious work.

        • Bob_Wallace

          It appears that China is slowing its nuclear plans.

          Don’t forget, renewables also became very affordable in China. Plans made a few years ago were based on renewables costing much more.

          • jeppen

            It still builds its energy future on nuclear, but we’ll see. Solar in China might be little more than a maskirovka.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, the Chinese seem to being building a hell of a disguise.

            China currently gets less than 2% of its electricity from nuclear and plans to get no more than 4% in 2020.

            China predicts 16% from renewables by 2020.

          • jeppen

            China had 17% renewable power (almost all hydro, of course) already in 2007, so 16% by 2020 means the renewable share is dropping:

            China has deployed 16 GW nuclear, but a whopping 32 GW is under construction, which will obviously triple its nuclear capacity come 2018 considering their proven build times. It will likely meet its plans to have 58 GW in 2020.

            I’ve read that China has plans of 100 GW wind and 50 GW solar in 2020, and considering capacity factors, that would combine to produce a lot less energy than 58 GW nuclear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’ll have to see how that plays out over the next decade or so.

            With their economy slowing down China is going to have to spend their money more carefully. I suspect the high cost of nuclear will put a severe cramp on new reactors past the ones now under construction.

          • jeppen

            Strange to think nuclear is expensive in China compared to renewables. This is definitely not the case. For instance, they are building two EPRs, 2*1660 MW, for some $7.5 billion in total. And the domestic designs are cheaper still. Wind and solar can’t touch that.

            Worded differently, nuclear capacity in China is about the same cost as wind and solar capacity, but has 3-5 times the capacity factor and 2-3 times the life, for a long term cost advantage of 6-15 times. Also, as nuclear has not yet reached mass production, its potential to become cheaper is better.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Like nuclear fanboys so often do, you fail to include the cost of financing nuclear. That makes your claims inoperative.

            And you make the unsubstantiated claim that reactors can operate more than 50 years. To date, none have. And as reactors age they tend to become victims of large repair bills that causes them to close.

          • jeppen

            Financing does not offset that extremely large cost differential. New nukes are built to last 60 years. As current nukes have exceeded life time expectations, that is not hard to believe. At the very least, nuclear is not in a worse position in this regard compared to solar (with inevitable inverter breakdowns and big risks overall) and wind, whose designs are not proven to last either.

          • Matt

            One of my favs, is that the government is providing the insurance it isn’t a cost. Or at least you don’t count it until there is a “problem”.

          • eject

            yeah, and all the cooling water comes for free as well as the transmission and the back up capacity.
            Fuel costs, reprocessing and waste storage is all negligible.

            I am sorry. I do like nuclear technology but the current designs are not up for the job and new designs are expensive to develop and implement into regulations. On top of that they simply can’t come only within months and years. It will take decades which is not acceptable.

          • jeppen

            Yes, cooling water is free, transmission is included, backup costs are far, far, lower for nuclear than for renewables. Nuclear construction costs clearly dominates the nuclear power cost, and O&M costs for nuclear is not higher than for wind and solar.

            Current designs are very much up for the job, and the amount of regulation we choose ourselves. We have way too much in western countries today, which is perhaps the worst suboptimization in history. The reason is that we are left with coal, whose use is comparable to a number of Chernobyl accidents every year.

            Nuclear is far cheaper, and as funding is limited, nuclear is far faster than renewables in larger scales. It might be counter-intuitive, but if you think about it for a while, you’ll realize that it is so.

          • eject

            I wish it where so and I actually believe that nuclear can be cost competitive if it wouldn’t be water cooled. I think it would be possible to develop a Molten Salt Reactor that can run hot enough to drive turbines just with hot gas and doesn’t need active cooling to be safe. I would also really appreciate it if we could burn up all the U238 and the Pu which is at the moment just a nuisances. And of course all the transuranic crap from the spent fuel we have lying around.

            But this is simply not happening, all we got are useless EPRs. They are to expensive.

            And by the way cooling water is a gigantic problem for China. But also for Germany and France. We have to turn down Coal and Nuclear plants in Summer because the rivers cant take it.

          • jeppen

            I don’t like the EPR and EDF either. Their Finnish fiasco is a PR problem for the entire nuclear industry. I don’t regard cooling water as a big problem, but I’m aware that hot rivers and such can limit the power in the summer. But you’ll be happy to learn about the Chinese gas cooled pebble bed, then. Seems cheap enough and very safe.

          • eject

            I hope it is nothing like the German Pebble Bed. That is decades after shut down still a single huge fucking nightmare. Those nuclear engineers somehow missed that their pebble bed could also be described as a ball mill. Which is exactly what happened. Now we have the whole thing filled with ultra fine radioactive dust. Solution? build a proper roof for the thing and let it sit for the next millennium. Nothing really happened but there is no technology to break the plant down since the dust could easily pollute large parts of Europe.

          • jeppen

            Pollute large parts of Europe – sure, but not significantly.

            I don’t know how the Chinese handle the dust issue, but they did license the tech from Germany. It has run a small 10 MW prototype and started building a 200 MW version a year ago. (Cost about $2.5/W.)

          • eject

            “AVR dismantling costs will exceed its construction costs by far. AVR was the basis of the technology licensed to China to build HTR-10.”

            If you can read German click on the German version of the Article. A lot more detail to what is the problem. Basically it is full of dust containing Sr90. That stuff will be stored in humans, plants and animals. Since it is dust it can spread. Long story short, you breath some of that dust or eat it or drink it, you will get cancer. It is decaying directly in your body. So the reactor Vessels will stay closed. Will be reassessed in 60 years.

          • jeppen

            I don’t read German, sadly. Still it is likely a problem for decommissioning workers and not for the general public. (If not, please cite a Bq inventory figure for the dust.)

            Sr-90 is fairly nasty, but not magical. As for all other radioactive substances, it needs to be present in sufficient quantities to do harm. We have a lot of radioactive substances in our bodies as it is.

          • heinbloed

            Try a translation program, the technical data is usually well to understand. Well, better than Kant or Hobbes 🙂

          • JimBouton

            “As for all other radioactive substances, it needs to be present in sufficient quantities to do harm. We have a lot of radioactive substances in our bodies as it is.”

            A lot? No. The stuff we eat, breathe and drink, it accounts for around 10% of the radiation. (The rest is from natural background.)

            You don’t see why a few of us have a little concern based on fine radioactive dust that can give us cancer with just a breath or two? Not that I don’t trust your assurances that Strontium 90 is not magical, but it will still be dangerous until sometime in 2070.

            “Pollute large parts of Europe – sure, but not significantly.”

            You sort of sound a little like General “Buck” Turgidson with that statement.

          • jeppen

            It’s all about quantities. Given the not-that-bad Sr-90 releases from full-scale meltdowns in Fukushima and Chernobyl, I’m quite certain that there is no risk whatsoever for “large parts of Europe” from some residual dust within a smaller reactor whose main core inventory have been removed.

            Sr-90 has a half life of 29 years, so “dangerous until 2070” is a strange statement. About an eight or so of the original amount remains, so if you snort eight times as much then as you were planning to do in 1990, you’d get as much (or as little) cancer.

          • JimBouton

            I calculated the exponential decay of Strontium 90 based on a starting period of 2010. That is 60 years. t 1/2 is about 29 years. 50% will remain for the next 15 years, and so on.

          • jeppen

            I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your comment at all. After 60 years, about a quarter remains. “50% will remain for the next 15 years” I also don’t get. Could you please elaborate?

          • Thorsten

            what about flamanville ?
            what about hinkley point c ?

            pebble bed reactors ??? – so cheap that the pebbles break up like in the THTR-300 and you have massive problems during operation and even more to clean up the mess ???

          • jeppen

            Hinkley Point C, well, the same production as Germany’s solar (but twice the life-time) at a fifth or less of the cost? What’s not to like?

            Pebble bed, I guess the Chinese has it covered somehow. They aren’t stupid, you know?

          • Thorsten

            well, if hinkley point c is so “cheap” – why is the FIT (feed in tariff) for the electricity from hinkley point c then fixed to a tariff above german and other wind energy tariffs ???
            even german solar FIT is right now getting cheaper then what edf is traing to fix there with the brits government …

            maybe you might have forgotten about mantenance and other operating costs – including fanancal services …

            after all – areva was ucapable to get even near to the investment costs for the epr that they promised to built …

            yes, of course – the chinese thought about that – and the south african guys also – just the germans – with the only realized plant (thtr-300) haven’t been able to get things going – lol …

          • jeppen

            Perhaps because nuclear power is worth more than wind power? Do you have a link to this FiT for Hinkley Point C, btw?

          • Bob_Wallace

            The builders refused to build for 12c and held out for 15c plus loan guarantees worth another 1c.

            Apparently someone in the UK government thinks nuclear is worth 16c. Very hard to see how.

          • Thorsten

            well, I wold doubt that …

            there are several out there – try qoogle – or take this one for instance :


            one should also keep in mind that prcing for wind / solar are NOT fixed over a period of more than 20 years – in many cases it’s shorter – and in germany for instance and many other schemes where a similar law like the EEG applies we have no adaption scheme for inflation – this is of course a major impact for a plant with a liftime of 2 decades(at for instance 2+% inflation in the european union)

          • jeppen

            Ah, sorry, confused Hinkley with something else for a moment. I should go to bed and give this thread up, and everybody will be happier.

            Yeah, nuclear power is worth more than wind power. Less external costs, better price profile.

            Also, UK is not Germany. The nuclear strike price, as mentioned several times, are less than RE strike prices.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The external costs of nuclear are higher. Just ask Japan.

          • jeppen

            Fukushima is cheaper than Germany’s 5% solar, but Japan, IIRC, had 25%+ nuclear. So no.

            And also, on a global scale, Fukushima doesn’t add much to each kWh produced in terms of cost. 60 trillion kWh or so.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry. Fukushima is a loss. Money pissed away.

            Germany has invested in renewables and will enjoy sweet returns from here on out.

          • jeppen

            Fukushima Daichii alone had time to produce some 878 TWh before blowing up. Germany’s current solar fleet will be hard pressed to produce that much before end-of-life.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Germany’s solar fleet will not melt down and create an exclusion zone.
            German citizens won’t be facing hundreds of billions of dollars cleaning up after solar panels.

          • jeppen

            The solar investment costs are comparable to those of Fukushima cleanup.

          • Bob_Wallace

            One is an investment that will return dividends for many decades.

            The other is lost money.

          • jeppen

            Fukushima did return dividends for decades. Actually it’s economically very preferable to reap dividends first and take the hit later than the other way around.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Man, you’ll go to any lengths to support your baby won’t you?

    • Bob_Wallace

      How many coal plants do you need to see closed in order to believe?

      • ghawar

        of course it’s the total consumption and not the number of plants that matters. germany’s coal consumption has been pretty stable last 10 years or so

        we’ll see how this will play out in the future. is there any explicit statement somewhere that in 2014 they will use x% less coal than in 2013? (or something similar)

        • Bob_Wallace

          Germany’s new coal burning plants are replacing (not adding to) the older plants that either have been or will soon be decommissioned. These new plants were planned and construction was started prior to the decision to close nuclear plants.

          By 2020, 18.5 gigawatts of coal power capacity will be decommissioned, whereas only 11.3 gigawatts will be newly installed.

          Furthermore those plants will be more efficient, releasing less CO2 per unit electricity produced than are the ones they are replacing. And the new coal plants are partially load-following.

          As of November 2013 some 28 power plants with a collective capacity of 7,000 MW – roughly equivalent to the capacity shutdown in Chancellor Merkel’s sudden nuclear phaseout in March 2011 – have been submitted for decommissioning. This would be an 8% decrease in Germany’s coal burning capacity.

          Some will be permanently closed and a few ‘mothballed’ in case they might be needed in the future.

          More recently it has been calculated that Germany will not need all of the planned 11.3 gigawatts of coal capacity, around 3 gigawatts may not be built. Overall a drop from 18.5 to 11.3 (39% decrease) or 18.5 to 8.3 (65% decrease).

          • jeppen

            “By 2020, 18.5 gigawatts of coal power capacity will be decommissioned, whereas only 11.3 gigawatts will be newly installed.”

            Why do you believe that? It will decommission 12 GW of nuclear power until 2022. How can Germany also decommission 7 GW net coal and replace all that with some extremely expensive intermittent sources that they already have a very hard time balancing?

            Yeah, yeah, even greens are applauding new coal plants nowadays. Oh so efficient! It kind of makes me sick. If you bleed enough money on solar, apparently any amount of pollution is forgivable. Sacrifices seems much more important than results.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Don’t be ridiculous. No greens are applauding new coal plants.

            Germany is mapping out a route to being carbon free by 2050. They can’t get there overnight and they can’t stop using fossil fuels immediately. Their calculations tell them that more efficient coal plants help them to get where they want to go.

            And at the same time that they are moving to a 100% renewable energy system they have decided that they no longer wanted to live with the risk of nuclear energy. That will make the task a bit harder, but Germans are very serious about achieving their goals.

            Why don’t you get all bothered about all the countries that are doing far less rather than criticize one of the countries doing the most?

          • jeppen

            If not applauding, they have become very much apologist.

            Germany’s plans aren’t worth the paper it is written on. Actually, they are worth less, because they are cementing Germany as the worst polluter in Europe, and they inspire non-effective action in other countries too.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Show us the data to back up your claim that Germany is becoming the worst polluter in Europe.

            And show us something to back up your claim that Germany’s move to renewables is somehow inspiring inaction in other countries.

          • jeppen

            It isn’t becoming, it IS the worst polluter in Europe. 2011 it released 750 million tons CO2, which is far more than any other country in Europe. Of course, it compares badly to other large European countries even in a per-capita perspective. Coal loving Germany is at 10 tons per capita while nuclear France is below 6 and nuclear/hydro Sweden is below 5. Even UK is significantly lower at 7.5.

            Germany’s move to renewables inspires nuclear inaction in other countries? It is obvious for those of us who live in Europe. Are you an American, by any chance?

          • eject

            Although this is true as with China it is rather unfair to put the blame for all that emission on Germany (or China, Korea and any other export nation). People all over the world are consuming the goods made with that energy. If you would check deeper into those statistics you will find that domestic energy use is actually not that high in Germany given the tolerable living standards it offers.

          • jeppen

            Sweden has as high standard and as much exports per capita but half the emissions. There can be no excuse for Germany – it could easily have been rid of its coal now given a rational energy policy like in France.

            China does have an excuse, because it has to do something (i.e. coal) until its nuclear construction capacity is adequate.

          • eject

            Sweden exports Oil, Pharmaceuticals, Electronics and Wood. Somewhat different from exporting mainly machinery.

            Germany is historically coal powered and coal has a very strong lobby. It is hard to get rid of it. I do not support the shut down of existing nuclear plants before time but constructing new ones would be utter madness.

          • jeppen

            Paper is very electricity intensive, as is some of the metals. We also import facebook and google datacenters due to cheap electricity and cold climate. Sweden has far more electricity per capita than Germany has, but we have almost no CO2-emissions from it.

            Far from utter madness, the only rational thing in Germany would be to go into nuclear again. Solar is just kicking the can down the road, CO2-wise.

          • heinbloed

            Sweden exports oil? That is new to me, do you mean turpentine, rapeseed oil ?

          • eject

            Wikipedia says so. Why not? Norway has oil, why shouldn’t there be some in Sweden as well.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s strange. Using the data you linked I find 7 European countries with higher per capita CO2 emissions in 2011. You wouldn’t be trying to mis-report would you?

            Now Germany started with high CO2 levels. They’ve been reducing them. Obviously they could reduce them faster if they kept reactors on line, but they no longer wish to accept that risk.

            When Germany falls behind other nations in their renewables installation then we can criticize them. To this point Germany is a leader and looks to stay one.

          • jeppen

            I was talking about the total emissions, and Germany is worst by far. Of course some minor European countries like tiny Luxembourg have higher per-capita emissions, but the large ones have lower per-capita emissions.

            You’re a coal apologist. I’m not – I think Germany sets a really, really bad example for the rest of the world. It pursues policies that threaten the climate and kills thousands every year due to air pollution. There are no excuses for that kind of behavior.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Total emissions is not the correct metric. It lets small countries with terrible practices off the hook.

            Everyone on the planet needs a small carbon footprint.

            Me a coal apologist? You have some more idiotic claims to make?

          • jeppen

            Total emissions is the correct metric. I don’t give a rats ass about what Luxembourg does. Germany is the worst offender in Europe by far.

            You’re obviously a coal apologist. You continuously make excuses for Germany and its new coal plants and its slow pace of progress.

          • eject

            With exports you are fine using the per capita? You can’t pick and choose you have to look at both

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s the metric you need to use to support nuclear.

            Your argument is bogus.

          • jeppen

            Nope. You just have bad luck when you think it through.

          • heinbloed

            Luxemburg makes a living on (German) tax evaders, jeppen.
            This money was ‘produced’ by manufacturing.

            Not the per capita emissions count in economical terms but the emissions by gross product (tonnesCO2 per Dollar or Euro).
            Switzerland, Monacco, Lichtenstein, Vaduz, the UK, the channel Islands have no real emitting industry but make a living by fleecing their neighbors.
            Without the industry – which is shifting towards Asia – there would be no shopping for their poeple.
            Well, bartering spuds for butter, fish for drift wood ……

          • eject

            I don’t think the new generation capacity in terms of coal is actually necessary. You are simply going to lose more votes then you win if you step up to the public and tell them that all coal mines will be shut within the next decade. There are regions where this is all they know. Get coal, dry it, burn it.
            At the moment coal also helps to keep wholesale prices down and thereby creating revenue for the Utilities and providing the industry with an edge over international competition.

            It could all happen a lot faster. Well the tipping point is imho reached and I think renewables will catch more momentum and arrive earlier thans sceduled at the moment.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here in the US we are in the process of closing a lot of coal plants. That’s already underway.

            As our concern about climate change grows we’ll see pressure to close more. That means that some people in coal country will lose jobs. At the same time even more jobs will be created in renewable energy.

          • eject

            Energy transition definitely creates a net benefit in job numbers. And there is something else that gets never mentioned, where all the money goes from this (apparently) gigantic costs energy transition creates. It goes into the national economy. The power bought from a wind turbine or a solar array ends up in some small village, subjected to income tax, and will inevitably increase spending instead of ending up in some shareholders pocket overseas with no taxation on it due to some neat algebra.

          • jeppen

            A net drawback in job numbers. The more jobs “created in” (rather “devoured by”) energy for the same result, the worse it is. Our great economies are built on increasing efficiency and doing more with less, not the opposite.

            The same way, the money does not “go into” the national economy as much as it is destroyed there, to install black junk on roofs instead of putting new cars in your garages or creating new homes altogether.

            This is basic economics.

          • jeppen

            I think the opposite is true. Soon the amount of wind and solar that the grid can handle is reached. A saturation point, if you will. Then expansion will stall.

          • eject

            That extra power will go into the heat sector that is covered by oil and gas at the moment. You can dump gigantic loads there. Since Germany is able to accommodate 50% peak loads of renewables which is the highest values reached for now (because that is all what is installed yet) it should be absolutely fine to accomodate 50% permanently. I actually think it will be able to cope with a lot more. The gas plants will be on stand by of course. But that is the same story as with nuclear. You have to have dynamic load to match demand and supply.

            Soon there will be solutions for dynamic demand (immersion heaters, they are cheap) and the dynamic supply had always to be there.

          • jeppen

            I don’t think you appreciate the difficulties, but I think you’ll become aware in time.

          • eject

            They are not greater than with power plants that can only operate at a fixed load. The demand is fluctuating. With switching all primary energy to renewable we do get instruments to influence demand. The instruments to influence supply are always needed.

          • jeppen

            No. Nuclear in Sweden, which is a pretty long country, fluctuates within 60%-125% of its average, with a lot of it being planned. Total wind fluctuates within 5%-300% of its average. To replace nuclear with wind would give enormous problems. Yes, nuclear can vary very quickly, but the deeper variations of wind is worse.

            DSM is costly and has limited applicability. Wind can have week-long lulls, and you don’t want to move demand for a week.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Load following with nuclear makes it even more expensive.

            It’s ridiculously expensive already.

          • jeppen

            I didn’t talk about load following, but of involuntary fluctuations (ie stops).

            You’re lying when you’re saying nuclear is expensive, at least if you don’t acknowledge wind + solar to be a lot more expensive.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The most objective prices we have for new nuclear set the price above 15c/kWh. (Ontario, San Antonio, Turkey and the UK.)

            Wind has been selling, on average, for 4c/kWh in the US. Solar is selling in the US SW for 5c/kWh.

          • jeppen

            UK has strike prices for renewables that are higher than the strike price for nuclear. The “selling price” of solar/wind seems not very relevant. The production cost is what matters, not subsidized or market prices that might sell at a loss.

            Do some calculation with levelized energy cost. You might be surprised.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The UK set a very high strike price for offshore wind. It’s out of line with European prices.

            The UK has installed utility scale solar at about $1.50/watt. Even given the UK’s lower solar resources this will produce electricity at a much better price than new nuclear.

            BTW, I’ve run a lot of LCOE calcs. And I know how to adjust selling price to include subsidies as well as owner profits and real estate costs which are not included in LCOE calcs.

          • jeppen

            No $1.50/watt is worse than new nuclear, if you factor in life times and capacity factors. Do the math. UK chose the most expensive player on the block, and paid whatever it demanded to get going. I expect the strike price to come done when the first nuclear has cleared the way in terms of red tape and so on.

            Owner profits shouldn’t be included, you just have an interest rate to reflect rate of return. Real estate costs would be included in investment costs. Subsidies are irrelevant to our discussion. It doesn’t seem like you understand what you do, really.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry, the LCOE for solar at $1500/MW and 11% CF is significantly lower than the UK strike price for nuclear and below the other price examples we have.

            If you’ve any experience with calculating LCOEs you’d know that real estate prices are not included. Neither are subsidies or owner profits. But all are included in selling price.

          • jeppen

            You compare apples and oranges. Compare LCOE for solar and nuclear, or strike price for solar and nuclear. Then nuclear comes out as the best buy.

            I stand by my comment on LCOE calculations.

          • Bob_Wallace

            When one runs LCOE for wind, solar and nuclear they find than nuclear is priced off the table.

          • jeppen

            Nope, it’s the other way around. Try it instead of guessing.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve run the numbers many times. You’re full of crap.

          • jeppen

            Let me run some LCOE by you, and you can try to adjust the parameters to make wind and solar look good in comparison to nuclear (to usual trick is to force nuclear’s interest rate far higher than the others. I won’t buy that, though).

            Solar LCOE $0.18/kWh.
            Parameters: $2M for 1 MW, 0 year build time, 11% CF, $0.03 in O&M, 5% interest, 25 years of life, 0.7% degradation.

            Wind LCOE $0.069/kWh.
            Parameters: $6M for 3 MW, 0 year build time, 33% CF, $0.023 in O&M, 5% interest, 25 years of life.

            Nuclear LCOE $0.061/kWh.
            Parameters: $5B for 1.1 GW, 6 years construction, 90% CF, $0.023 in O&M, 5% interest, 60 years of life.

            The O&M parameters I kind of pulled out of my hat, i.e. I had some figures available but haven’t saved links to back them up, but we can adjust them later.

            So, as you see, wind is almost as cheap as nuclear, not considering the lower value and added external costs of intermittent power. I’m sure you will try to push for parameters that make nuclear seem more expensive than wind. However, for solar, you’ll really, really have to stretch to accomplish that, as it is some 3 times more expensive.

          • A Real Libertarian

            (to usual trick is to force nuclear’s interest rate far higher than the others. I won’t buy that, though).

            Does nuclears cost include the mafias take for kidnapping the orphans required to fuel it?

            The usual trick is to deny “Uranium” is a technical term for orphans. I won’t buy that, though

          • jeppen

            I don’t get it. Please elaborate.

          • A Real Libertarian

            That’s what you sound like when you deny the massive financing costs of nuclear power.

          • jeppen

            Sorry, still don’t get it. But just keep out of comedy and keep working on that libertarianism. If anything is illibertarian in this world, it is nuclear regulation.

          • heinbloed

            There are thousands of generations to come who have to fork out the costs these Mafiosis have caused to men kind.

            These future people have no other way but sending their children to idiot schools to keep them stupid enough to watch and shovel atomic waste.
            The atomic dump in Sweden is leaking already, who do you think will look after that rubbish?


            The same in Sellafield/Uk, in Asse/Germany, in La Hague/France, in Fukushima/Japan, and the in USA and Russia anyhow in hundreds of places already.

            A calculator doesn’t seem to be at your hands. Well, not the silly thing with 12 digits , you know …:)

          • jeppen

            Nuclear waste, at least from more modern civilian operations, is extremely compact and easy to handle. Once buried, it stays buried.

            A new working reactor is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children and grandchildren. Extremely inexpensive, clean power for 60 years or more.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’re friggin’ delusional.

          • jeppen

            I thought this was quite obvious, but you call it delusional.

            It kind of goes to show who is being the subjective believer here. You know, I have nothing against a running wind turbine or an already built PV installation. Wouldn’t dream of calling it something else than cheap, clean power. Likewise, a new running nuke is an extreme asset to society. But you don’t believe even this, and that’s a bit sad.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear is too expensive to consider.

          • juxx0r

            According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2009 the capacity factors were as follows:[15]

            Natural Gas Plant–42.5%



            Other renewables (Wind/Solar/Biomass)–33.9%



            However they do tend to vary.

            Wind farms 20-40%.[16][17]

            Photovoltaic solar in Massachusetts 13-15%.[18]

            Photovoltaic solar in Arizona 19%.[19][20]

            CSP solar in California 33%. [21]

            CSP solar with storage in Spain 75%. [22]

            Hydroelectricity, worldwide average 44%,[23] range of 10% – 99% depending on design (small plant in big river will always have enough water to operate and vice versa), water availability (with or without regulation via storage dam, where a storage dam is designed to store at least enough water to operate the plant at full capacity for around half a year to allow full regulation of the annual flow of the river).

            Nuclear power 70% (1971–2009 average of USA’s plants).[24]

            Nuclear power 88.7% (2006 – 2012 average of US’s plants).[25]


            The average construction time of the 34 units that started up in the world between 2003 and

            July 2013 was 9.4 years.

          • jeppen

            Regarding construction times, the yearly average has diverged wildly post-Chernobyl. With the ramping of nuclear construction that we see now, fluctuations will go down, however (more samples in each average tends to have a stabilizing effect).

            From what I can see in ongoing projects in China and other countries that are on schedule, and given the ongoing standardization efforts, the averages will tend to move toward the lower bubbles in the coming years:

            A few restarted builds such as Watts Bar 2 will push more single year averages really high when they complete, though.

          • juxx0r

            Finland should push things out a bit too

          • jeppen

            Yes, but worse are a few reactors in Slovakia, Argentina and Ukraine that are similar to Watts Bar 2. Construction started in the 80-ies and then had it halted, only to be reactivated recently. Whatever year has one of those completed will have bad statistics.

          • heinbloed

            Slovakia has stalled all atomic ambitions.
            But you know that and you are still spreading the shite on hot toast.


          • jeppen

            AFAIK, Slovakia is building two nukes as we speak. What you reference is negotiations over another, new, plant, and they will apparently seek other partners than the Russians, which they didn’t agree with. So Slovakia has not stalled all atomic ambitions.

          • heinbloed


            Do you mean ” Mochovce E4 and E5 ” ?

            These bangers are being ‘build’ (ahem) since 1985 ……

            30 years now, and not 1 kWh from them.

            How long will you ‘believe’ in this project?

          • jeppen

            Mochovce 3-4, not 4-5. Construction was halted in 1991 and restarted in november 2008. (You are very assertive considering you are wrong all the time.)

          • heinbloed

            So nothing new there?

            No. 4 and 5 have no containment and are therefore not legal in Europe.

            An ‘operating license’ (for which no one has aplied so far) is therefore unthinkable.

            Slovakia is member of the EU, how do you think the owners get around this legal hurdle?

            These are atomic reactors on paper, they will never be charged with fuel.
            Unless Slovakia leaves the EU.

          • jeppen

            Again, it’s 3-4, not 4-5. Please pay attention.

            Number 1-2 is of the same type and they have been generating power since late 90-ies, so it is unclear why 3-4 would not get operating licenses. And why do you think they would be sinking billions into a project that cannot be used?

            I also don’t understand your claim of no containment. AFAIK, these reactors have the usual concrete containment. Are you confusing VVER with RBMK?

          • heinbloed

            When Mochvce 3 and 4 ( I’ve got it) where reported to the EU in 2008 as necessary under Euroatom legislation the EU Commission stated the lack of the pressure proof concrete containment.
            And nothing has changed since then.

            A pressure proof containment is demanded in Europe.

            Not just a concrete flooring.

            Bad luck for the Mafia.

            It isn’t the first time that the atomic Maafia has build atomic power plants without a valid operating license, it happened in Germany as well:


          • jeppen

            Well, you know, I think the “Mafia” will simply win this one. 😛

          • heinbloed

            Mochovce 3+4 has no pressure proof concrete containment, thanks for the hint.

            I checked the VVER440/V-213 design via the home page of the owner:


            (page 9 )

            and compared the little data/drawing with a wikipedia article



            “The VVER-440 V213 model was built to the first set of Soviet nuclear
            safety standards. It possesses a modest containment building, and the
            ECCS systems, though not completely to Western standards, are reasonably
            comprehensive. Many VVER-440 V213 models operated by former Soviet bloc
            countries have been upgraded to fully automated Western-style
            instrumentation and control systems, improving safety to Western levels
            for accident prevention – but not for accident containment, which is of a
            modest level compared to Western plants. These reactors are regarded as
            “safe enough” by Western standards to continue operation without major
            modifications, though most owners have performed major modifications to
            bring them up to generally equivalent levels of nuclear safety.”

            In short:

            Existing bangers like these are still allowed to operate in the EU.
            New ones are not.

            “Soviet safety standards” are illegal in the civilised part of Europe.
            Hence no operation permit can be granted under EU legislation.

            It is the Italian ‘familia’ ENEL which is now asking for another 1/2 billion Euros to finish the project, and of course they are far beyond budget already and far behind schedule, again:



            France’ Fessenheim reactors have no pressure proof containment as well and must close down by 2015.
            A renewal or extension of the old operating license is not possible under EU legislations.

            EDF tried to tunnel (!) the Fessenheim reactors whilest operating them to fit more concrete underneath, but gave up on this mad professor idea.
            Fitting a pressure proof containment onto an existing VVER 440/V-213 is impossible.

          • jeppen

            Cool, I didn’t know that about Fessenheim! As I said, it seems it is permissible under the euratom treaty with some modifications to, as in your quote, get the plant “to generally equivalent levels of nuclear safety.”. Or at least, this is the position of the European Commission. We’ll see how it goes.

          • heinbloed

            Don’t bother them with data, stories and tales please 🙂

          • Grad

            You didn’t include decommissioning costs for nuclear, which are real costs. Add another $1B and you get more realistic LCOE.

          • jeppen

            I include funding for that in the O&M.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You pulled the O&M for wind and solar out of some place much stinkier than your hat.

            Median fixed O&M for onshore wind $10.95/kW, PV solar 32.03/kW, nuclear 85.66/kW.


            You are using fantasy years for all three. Both wind and solar have demonstrated longer than 25 life spans. Nuclear has not demonstrated 60.
            Nuclear can’t borrow money that cheaply unless it is underwritten (subsdized) by governments.

            Here’s the problem with the BS you’re trying to sell. You claim nuclear can be built for 6 cents. Now you have to explain why no one stepped up and underbid the >15c/kWh lowest bids we’ve seen over the last few years.
            Why would someone not have jumped into the game in the UK and grabbed the UK’s offer of 12c and doubled their money?

          • jeppen

            Oh, much stinkier than my hat? You’re so clever.

            Cool, if we convert your fixed O&M figures to kWh, the we get some $0.01/kWh for nuclear (much lower than my figure), 0.0037 for wind and 0.033 for solar. Solar was spot on, then, but you claim wind is lower. BUT when we add variable O&M at 0.00645/kWh for wind, we reach 0.01 for wind in total (nuclear variable was negligible).

            So those figures that I pulled out of something stinkier than my hat turned out to be correct in that nuclear and wind O&M are about the same, at least, while solar is higher. Great.

            My fantasy years are as good as yours. You claim wind and solar has proven 25 years, but those installations and the wear and tear modern wind is subjected to has little in common with the tiny wind installations of 30 years ago.

            Nuclear can’t borrow that cheaply, no, but what’s subsidized for real is renewables, so no comparison there.

            The UK only negotiated with EDF during the final phase. I don’t know the details, unfortunately, but I know that now, Rosatom and Hitachi are positioning themselves in the UK to get licenses and be able to compete for later plants.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, let’s review….

            You claimed O&M for wind = 2.3c, solar = 3c, and nuclear = 2.3c.

            When I work out the O&M (fixed and variable) I find wind = 0.77c, solar = 0.37c and nuclear = 1.03c.

            Over the 30 years that has passed since the first generation of wind turbines we’ve learned a lot about turbine technology. It would be foolish to suggest that new turbines would last for shorter years than old tech.

            “Nuclear can’t borrow that cheaply, no, but what’s subsidized for real is renewables, so no comparison there.”

            Nuclear in the US receives much more subsidy than does wind or solar. Nuclear gets the PTC that wind and solar get plus loan guarantees, taxpayer assumed liability for large scale disasters and taxpayer provided long term fuel storage.

            “The UK only negotiated with EDF during the final phase.”

            There have been four opportunities seeking the lowest cost bid for new nuclear since 2009. In all four cases the lowest qualifying bids would have resulted in electricity >$0.15/kWh. Your 6 cent claim is a fantasy.

          • jeppen

            You aren’t very lucky with your calculator. I stand by my calculations in the previous post. And your solar at 0.37c is unreasonable – you claimed PV solar 32.03/kW and then 32.03/(24*365*0.11) = 3.3c, or an order of a magnitude worse.

            “It would be foolish to suggest that new turbines would last for shorter years than old tech.”

            Why? We increase the power a 100 times over and have doubled capacity factors, increased hub height by a factor of eight. All the while working in an increasingly cost competitive landscape where the correct compromise between durability and costs have to be found, where wings have had to be made increasingly light and where turbine weight scales faster than power. How can we assume durability have been maintained? And also, you haven’t proved that durability was all that good 30 years ago. That some turbines remain is no proof at all.

            “Nuclear in the US receives much more subsidy than does wind or solar.”

            This is utter bull. All these “subsidies” except the PTC are fantasies. These accident liabilities does not affect the government, and waste handling is paid through fees on nuclear.

            Nagging me about the UK case still rings hollow when nuclear has the lower strike price. Also, there is the matter of having time and licenses to make the bids. Toshiba/Horizon is aiming for later builds, as are the Russians. They stand to profit from the high strike price (even though it will be lowered for later builds.)

            My 6 cent claim is based on LCOE for somewhat cheaper models in a reasonable regulatory climate and with a fairly low interest rate. UK is known to be, well, difficult to work with and EPR is known to be expensive as far as reactors go. The first reactor in the UK will cost more and be slower to build as the workforce and supply chains has to be trained and licensed and so on. The strike price assumes a return on profit of 10% and is only good for 35 years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ll stand by my numbers. You incorrectly multiple the fixed O&M costs by CF.

            You think engineers can’t calculate loads for larger turbines properly?
            Again, nuclear in the US receives PTC, loan guarantees, free liability coverage and doesn’t have to pay the full cost of long term waste storage. Wind and solar receive only the PTC (or an ITC option).

            When someone builds nuclear for 6c then we can start talking about 6c nuclear. At this point the price of nuclear is over 15c.

          • jeppen

            “You incorrectly multiple the fixed O&M costs by CF.”

            How the hell are we supposed to get a per kWh cost otherwise? Think again!

            “You think engineers can’t calculate loads for larger turbines properly?”

            Of course they can. But that doesn’t mean they can easily prevent them from wearing out. If costs are significantly higher to make them outlive 20 years, then it won’t be done.

            “When someone builds nuclear for 6c then we can start talking about 6c nuclear.”

            So you refuse using LCOE. Ok.

            “At this point the price of nuclear is over 15c.”

            In the UK, for the first EPR build. What the cost is, we have no idea.

          • heinbloed

            “In the UK, for the first EPR build. What the cost is, we have no idea.”

            Strange, you have the internet?

            Ask in Flamanville, in Olkiluoto, …


            ( This page was last modified on 31 December 2013 at 01:29.)

            Someone couldn’t sleep that night.
            All involved parties are only to happy to get out before these bangers are commissioned.

          • heinbloed

            (I’ve posted this just a few minutes ago with another answer)




            The EPR builder Areva has missed another deadline in reporting the proposed start of the banger, exactly as I said:
            they have had a sleepless night on the 31.12.2013

            Now it won’t be before 2017 before this thing is finished.

          • jeppen

            This is quite telling. You were wrong about the O&M costs vs the capacity factor, you finally understood that but won’t acknowledge it. Instead you go on to spew your naked lies about costs elsewhere in the thread, even though your main objection to the LCOEs was false. So pathetic and sad.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We both had O&M problems.

            What kills nuclear is capex and finex costs. If a plant did not have to be paid for it could compete with wind and solar. But reality rules.

          • jeppen

            I guess that the closest you will ever come to just admitting you were dead wrong.

            Wind and solar is even more capex intense.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Fact is, nuclear costs 2x to 3x as much as wind and solar.

            More than a minor role for nuclear on a grid requires storage.

            Those are facts you try to dance around.

            And that’s why nuclear is dying.

          • jeppen

            You know, this is probably the 30-ieth time you said that, but it still didn’t become true. I gave you LCOE and showed solar to be 3 times more expensive. It is also obvious from a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation that it is more expensive. $2/W for a tech with that bad capacity factor, short life and high O&M compares badly to nuclear’s Western price of $7/W or so.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I can’t help it if you use bogus numbers in order to arrive at bogus outcomes.

            Use real world prices.

            16c for nuclear.

            5c and dropping for solar.

          • jeppen

            But you can help, but you won’t. You just repeat yourself.

            What was wrong with the $2/$7 comparison, then? And how do you construct an LCOE with 5c for solar and 16c for nuclear? What’s the parameters? The fixed O&M for solar you provided yourself is awfully close to that 5c just by itself!

          • Bob_Wallace

            0.37 cents is quite a bit less than 5 cents.

          • Bob_Wallace

            jeppen – here are EIA’s capex prices. The overnight cost of nuclear is much greater than wind and solar.

            Nuclear $5,530
            Solar $3,873

            Onshore wind $2,213


            Then, since it takes so long to build a nuclear reactors the financing costs essentially double those overnight costs.

            That’s why nuclear is 2x to 3x more expensive than wind and solar.

            You live in a denier’s paradise.

          • jeppen

            Let’s say financing cost doubles the costs for nuclear, which it doesn’t, but let’s just say it does. Then we have nuclear at $11 and solar at $3.9 according to you. Any rational being aware of capacity factors would then conclude that nuclear is far cheaper than solar.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, if we look at real world prices we see that solar is selling for less than half the price of nuclear. And it has higher value to the grid since it delivers during times of highest demand while nuclear produces largely unneeded offpeak power.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Don’t worry. Storage is coming.

          • jeppen

            Again, you don’t have any urgency. “Just wait, the problems will go away.” It’s not good enough.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We have a few years before we need large scale storage. Our grids can accept a 30%+ penetration of wind and solar and we’re only at 5%.

            We have the option of pump-up hydro and could convert existing dams fairly rapidly if the need be. But it’s more likely we’ll have better technologies before we need storage.

          • jeppen

            30% penetration has not been shown and pioneer countries evidently slows down wind penetration increases to almost nothing before reaching such levels.

            3% solar gave 50% in Germany a few hours a bright summer day. 30% solar will give 500% under such circumstances, so 400% of demand need to be stored somehow. There is no way whatsoever to do anything even remotely close to that.

            Pumped hydro is great but limited by geography. You not only need a dam, you need a big lake below the dam. No, it’s not likely we’ll have better tech before we need storage. Not in the least. This is a really tough problem.

          • Bob_Wallace

            jeppen, you’re simply making stuff up.

            Wind and solar just started becoming major players. We have no data that shows them to be limited.

            Pump-up hydro is being built in abandoned underneath mines, rock quarries and open pit mines. Closed-loop can be built any place with sufficient change in elevation over a short distance. Power needs to be stored only for a few days. Enormous reservoirs are not required.

          • jeppen

            Oh yes, enormous reservoirs are required. A few mines gives nothing. Do the math.

            No data that shows solar and wind to be limited? Why then isn’t it happening? Wind is quite old stuff. Countries such as Portugal, Germany, Spain, Denmark got to double digits and then they almost gave up and slowed to a crawl. Why not just surge past 50% before slowing down that much?

          • heinbloed

            Germany has shown 60% RE several times now.
            The VDE ( the worlds largest electric engineer association ) has calculated that 40% RE in the grid is no problem whatsoever.


            The electricity price would have to increase by 10% to cope with 80% RE in the grid (for storage capacity).
            These are the numbers of the (atomic) engineers.of the VDE.
            They are correct, do you think?
            As said, over 60% we have seen several times since October 2013:


            Play with the data, type-in your dates there, it is easy enough.

            Why denying what is meassured, jeppen?

          • jeppen

            “Germany has shown 60% RE several times now.”

            It isn’t the best hour that counts. Penetration is about yearly averages.

            “has calculated that 40% RE in the grid is no problem”

            Great, but that’s not good enough.

            “The electricity price would have to increase by 10% to cope with 80% RE in the grid (for storage capacity).”

            Yeah, sure. Do you seriously believe that? Or do you mean 80% RE at single hours a few times per year?

            “Why denying what is meassured, jeppen?”

            As soon as somebody shows me cheap intermittent sources with REALLY high penetration in a real grid, them I’m sold.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If the Germany grid had an hour in which they got 60% of their supply from renewables and survived then why would the grid crash if they got additional 60% hours?

          • jeppen

            Obviously because if they get more 60% hours, then they will get some 80% hours as well, and so on.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s not an answer.

          • jeppen

            I’m sorry you don’t get it. To get more 60% hours means more intermittent generation that produce at the same time. It will push the (more frequent) 50% hours to become 60% hours, and the 60% hours to become 70% hours. Isn’t this obvious?

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, it’s pretty much gibberish when compared to the question I asked.

            Are you ever going to answer my “100% nuclear” question?

          • jeppen

            I’m sorry you still don’t get it.


          • Bob_Wallace

            Tell us how to run a grid with nothing but nuclear.

          • heinbloed

            And so what?
            More than some hundred % coverage in a few decades ?
            A perpetuum mobile ?

            Check the Norwegian grid, they can do it already. And they do it: Producing at any time of the year more than 100% of their electricity demand with RE is done there – if markets demand it.

            Ireland plans so as well, 8GW windpower by 2020 but only a national max. electricity demand of around 3 or 4 GW:


            Brasil grows more coffe than they consume there,
            Jeppen more bananas than he goes …:)

          • jeppen

            The problem lie in the economics of balancing such a large amount of intermittent power.

            Norway is irrelevant, since that is hydro, not wind and solar.

            Then Ireland’s progress (or lack thereof) will be very interesting indeed.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Five cent wind/solar plus 8 cent storage is cheaper than 15c nuclear.

            Remember all the time that wind/solar will be supplying directly (not via storage) a 5c.

            And nuclear requires storage.

          • eject

            How was German able to shut down all nuclear power plants within hours while Fukushima was ongoing? (the ones running now have only be brought back online after review).
            Because Germany has about 3 time the conventional generation capacity that can be expected as an absolute peak.
            This huge overcapacity is/was necessary to ensure the industry can keep going if unforeseen events take out a couple of plants or transmission backbones. This is also why Germany has one of the most reliable grids around. And does of course explain why Germany exports more and more power (33 TWh in 2013) since all the renewables have been build in addition to the overcapacity which was around anyway.
            With newer technology power plants which are deemed more reliable and upgrades to the transmission lines like new backbones and underground transmission Germany can risk to lower the amount of running stock.
            However, not all the coal and gas plants will be demolished. There will be some arrangements to be made i.e. Utilities to be paid of for maintaining some plants in cold storage in some critical areas.

            Hopefully some more Wind-turbines will be built. Sadly most of them will be Off-Shore and therefore more expensive then they would need to be due to turbine and transmission line costs. (even the better capacity factors can’t recoup the costs of getting the power all the from the north to the south). But the upgraded grid will be able to do some heavy lifting of power from and through Germany and thereby creating opportunity to supply service to her neighbors (at a price of course).

            It is now 2014, this means that the large amounts of solar PV which have been built 2004,05,06 are half way though their comparatively high feed in tariffs. In around 10 years they will have to sell at what ever the market offers. There will be some ridiculously cheap power around in a couple of years.
            I can already see the light at the end of the tunnel and we will come out on top before anyone else will be able to fire up a single new nuclear plant.

            And why is all this discussion always about electrical power. Even the new coalition Government Germany has now (don’t blame me, I voted for neither of the two parties) has reconfirmed that it is committed to increase the renewable share across all primary energy. Plus/minus a few coal power plants won’t matter.

          • jeppen

            The solar power is already in the market, so that idea won’t pan out, sadly. Feed-in tariff fees seems to be ever increasing, so I think you’re fairly alone to see the light in the end of the tunnel.

            Otherwise I agree that one way for Germany to close down nuclear without expanding fossils is to cut its large exports. However, that will just create more fossil generation elsewhere.

          • eject

            How do they seem to be increasing? they where 0.56€ back in 2005 and are now 0.12€ (hint, retail rate is 0.26€).
            They will continue to drop until yearly deployment rate under FiT is at 1.5GWp. Prediction for 2014 is 3.7GWp of new PV capacity in Germany. The reduction of FiT does simply become meaningless since you are of course free to sell your energy to a higher bidder (or use it yourself). This sis something we start to see more and more. FiT is becoming more or less the bare minimum price. (And never forget, income trough selling RE is subject to income tax (FiT or not) which means that 40 something % go actually to the government building schools or buying weapons and decreasing the deficit (just kidding, they certainly don’t do the latter) However, this is money they would tax out of us anyway so it is somewhat preventing any increases).

          • jeppen

            I was talking about the feed-in fees that the public has to pay, per kWh of electricity consumed. If I remember correctly, German consumers in 2013 had to pay around €0.05 for every kWh, mostly to support a 5% solar content. This fee is increasing in 2014, as I’ve understood it.

            And no, this isn’t tax they would take anyway. It is actual capital destruction going on. If you didn’t have all these workers climbing roofs and such, you would have more teachers, care-givers, house builders and so on.

          • eject

            My initial point was that 10 years from now this is going to drop significantly. Because that is when the FiT runs out on the heavily rewarded PV arrays. The increase of the retail rate we are seeing at the moment is due to falling wholesale prices. The rate payer has to make up the difference between the market price and the FiT rate. In principle the Energy suppliers should hand down the lower wholesale prices which on paper would actually lead to a reduced not an increased retail rate. But they don’t, lining their pockets seemed more attractive. Consumers could actually avoid this f they switched their supplier instead of complaining (those that are prepared to switch pay less, we pay 2cents less then the average even though we buy energy meeting the OK criteria for 100% renewable).

            However, all PV that has been installed past 2011 gets FiT rates that are below the wholesale price. As mentioned before the rate payer has to make up the difference. For this new installations this differences is negative. So those installations are actually lowering the rate. I.e. every new PV array is lowering the rate.

          • jeppen

            Are you saying that new PV isn’t subsidized in Germany? I think you have it backwards. The extra fee to support renewables goes up every year, and this means subsidies continue to accumulate. What happens 10 years from now depends on how much additional FiTs are locked in in the meantime (and also how much the grid has to be expanded, how much backup has to be subsidized and so on).

          • eject

            since FiT for PV past 2011 is lower then wholesale price the only subsidies consist of guaranteeing the ability to sell and there is no power tax on RE energy (tax exemptions should be counted as subsidies). But new PV does not raise the retail price it does lower it. That was even said by Peter Altmeier the former Environment Minister. It’s only the old stuff that costs us but it will be paid off soon. The light at the end of the tunnel.

          • jeppen

            Lowered retail price is a small comfort when the FiT-related fees paid by consumers keep increasing.

          • eject

            New PV installations do not lead to increases, they lead to decreases. I have written this now a couple of times. Where is the problem with accepting this?

          • jeppen

            The problem, I guess, is that I read stuff such as this:

            “Oct 14 (Reuters) – Germany’s surcharge for renewable energy will rise by almost 1 cent to 6.24 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) next year, increasing power prices for households and companies, industry and government sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

            The surcharge, levied on consumers to finance subsidies for renewable power, rose by almost 2 cents to 5.277 cents this year, causing widespread criticism as the cost of electricity increased sharply.”

            So 1 cent more, for what, 1-2% extra solar penetration?

          • eject

            No, but I think this just won’t enter your head.
            The 6.24 cents cover all renewable energy on the grid. Even the stupid Biomass plants which should all be shut down. But the rise of the surcharge comes from old installations, not new ones.

            The only new installations that would be able to rise the surcharge would be payments for Off-Shore wind. They are above wholesale price (again solar PV is now below market price) and have nothing to do with transforming the energy supply but more with helping the big 4 energy companies survive.

            As you probably know Vattenfall will be leaving Germany, they can’t compete anymore. RWE stopped international engagement because they need to get their house fixed and I suspect it will be the same for E.on and ENBW. They are all screwed and will have to shutdown coal plants. They are try to build new ones but it becomes more and more obvious that they won’t get enough full load hours.
            That is where you can see that the renewables produce enough energy to squeeze fossils hard. And we practically haven’t even start building them on a proper scale.

            Honestly, I couldn’t care less if electricity doubled in price as long as it is used to make energy cheaper in the long run. That is only possible with solar for the future and wind at the moment. The only people I hear moan about energy prices in Germany is the media, Industry Giants which did it to get exempt and politicians who are board members at the Big 4. Ah yeah, and bloody foreigners as it is any of their business. First they tell us we can’t shut down nuclear because that would raise electricity prices in Europe through the roof and now they complain that their national companies can’t compete because Wind and solar are to cheap. Get yourself sorted and in the meantime step back and watch energy costs drop over the next decades (except for countries that insist on EPRs.

          • jeppen

            Please explain how the surcharge can rise based on old installations. AFAIK, there are degression schemes for the FiTs, so surcharges for old installations should monotonically go down. Until you prove otherwise, I’ll assume that increased surcharge is due to new FiT liabilities that pile up faster than the old ones degress.

            Incumbent companies can only be temporarily threatened by renewables. They will just shut down unprofitable plants and production so prices rise and the remainder is profitable. But I’ve heard that Germany is forcing utilities to keep loss-making fossil capacity online to protect the grids ability to always meet demand. But I guess you can tell whether this is true or not.

            You say that “we practically haven’t even start building them on a proper scale”. I would disagree. I think you have come quite far in relation to how much intermittent power a grid can handle. Consider how German companies are installing backup solutions to handle frequency fluctuations, and how neighboring countries are installing kill switches at the border to Germany to not have their grids threatened by power fluctuations.

            I have no problem with you squandering money on a grand scale, but I dislike that you do not take effective action regarding your coal. You keep being the black sheep of Europe, and you have guaranteed no permanent progress until at least 2025 due to your nuclear phase-out.

          • eject

            It is due to old installations. I explained it before. The PV electricity is sold on the wholesale market. The difference between the wholesale price and the guaranteed FiT rate (which depends on the date of installation) is covered by money coming from a accumulating EEG account. This EEG account is kept in balance by rising or lowering the EEG surcharge on energy. Since wholesale electricity prices go lower and lower the gap between wholesale price and guaranteed FiT rate for old installation widens. The wider the gap the more money needs to come from the EEG account the higher the surcharge must be.

            Everything Clear Now? The first Drop outs will be seen 2020. The meat comes at 2024, 2025, 2026.

            If fossil fuel plants are closed down or electricity demand rises (economic upturn) the wholesale price will rise and the gap will become narrower.

          • heinbloed

            You are explaining a sustainable development, eject.

            This isn’t the type of development cowboys are used to.

            Fast bullets and quick rides, anything beyond that would be asking to much from them.

            @ jeppen:

            Read Imanuel Kant, Das kathegorische Imperativ.
            It is available in your library, in English.

          • jeppen

            I read it in school. I would probably apply it differently than you to the black sheep of Europe and its poisoning of our atmosphere, though.

          • jeppen

            Yes, that’s clear, thanks!

          • Bob_Wallace

            “But I’ve heard that Germany is forcing utilities to keep loss-making fossil capacity online to protect the grids ability to always meet demand.”
            Utilities pay some plants to sit idle just in case something happens that would need their power. Utilities pay for capacity.

            We saw that when the two SONGS reactors failed in San Diego. Old gas turbines that had been mothballed for years were dusted off and fired up in order to keep the grid running. As soon as enough renewables can be installed to replace them they will go back into mothballs.

          • jeppen

            If you don’t know the details, perhaps you shouldn’t start guessing wildly?

            For instance:

            “What this amounts to is that companies will be compensated in the future for keeping their backup power plants up and running. As the government considers writing a bill to this effect, electricity consumers will once again be the ones to foot the bill.”

          • Bob_Wallace

            Utilities pay for capacity now. This is nothing new.

          • heinbloed

            This is the case in countrys with an electricity grid.

            Where do you live?

            With a hospital bed you pay for an emergency generator, with a fire brigade office, with an army barrack, with a village, a town, a nation, a continent.

            Have you never heard about this?

            Spiegel throws pearls of wisdom in front of your door, read it.

            For us it is a tabloid.

            Spiegel hired the chief of Bildzeitung as their new chief editor.
            That would be like Ruppert Murdoch working as editor for the New York Times, in the English context.

          • heinbloed

            Read the article, jeppen.
            There are only a few being build and even less being used.

          • jeppen

            You hope. But coal have been increasing the last couple of years in Germany and it still stands to decommission 12 GW of nuclear power until 2022 and plans to put in about as much renewables in that time frame. So what is going to replace the coal, exactly?

      • jeppen

        I need to see that the actual fossil consumption declines are eclipsing the remaining nuclear consumption.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Patience, grasshopper.

          Australia is closing coal plants, thanks to solar and wind.

          Seeing how Australia has no nuclear plants their actual fossil consumption declines have eclipsed all their remaining nuclear consumption.

          • jeppen

            No, I refuse to be as patient as Greens are, because I’m worried about the climate and I don’t like the hundreds of thousands that die each year in coal and biomass combustion.

            Australia’s choice is little comfort. It is exporting coal like mad to Japan, India and China, and while it may close some fossils using wind and solar, they will too find that intermittent sources doesn’t scale well in double digits, so it will help only a little. However, nuclear is a real threat to coal, and Australia acknowledges that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, enjoy the recent price drops for wind and solar and how installation rates are soaring.

            Nuclear is no threat to fossil fuels. It’s simply too expensive and takes too long to install. Nuclear is fading away….

          • jeppen

            Nuclear is ramping as we speak. Its construction rate is now at 3 times the all-time-low in the 90-ies, and is comparable to the rate just before Chernobyl. 72 reactors is under construction world-wide.

            Actually, global wind growth rate is coming in weaker every year now, percentage-wise. Solar – well, we’ll see where it goes. Most pioneer countries reins in the expansion by cutting subsidies.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The US closed 5 reactors in 2013. Germany is closing 17 reactors by 2022. The US has another ~18 reactors in danger of going bankrupt in the next few years.

            The world’s reactors are aging and as they age they tend to fall by the wayside.

            The world is not building reactors at a replacement rate. Nuclear plateaued in 1989, bounced down a bit and is now on the downturn. Notice that the last bar includes several Japanese reactors which will likely disappear.

            The nuclear renaissance fizzled….

          • jeppen

            As I said, nuclear construction has tripled and continues to ramp as we speak, post-Fukushima. Turkey is ordering nukes in packs of four. Arab countries are getting them too. Africa is planning for it. China is selling to Vietnam. Finland is not discouraged by the really bad fifth reactor project and goes for more. Russia is building like mad. India obviously can’t go without and is clearing the path for, among others, a single 10 GW plant with 6*EPR. The UK is going for new reactors, as is the US. And so on.

            The current construction of 75 GW nuclear is exactly 20% of the currently installed fleet of 375 GW. Since the reactor life time is far more than five times the construction time of an average reactor, the current construction rate is far above the replacement rate.

          • juxx0r

            As of July 2013, 66 reactors are under construction (7 more than in July 2012) with a total

            capacity of 63 GW. The average construction time of the units under construction, as of the

            end of 2012, is 8 years. However:

            • Nine reactors have been listed as “under construction” for more than 20 years and four

            additional reactors have been listed for 10 years or more.

            • Forty-five projects do not have an official planned start-up date on the International Atomic

            Energy Agency’s (IAEA) database.

            • At least 23 have encountered construction delays, most of them multi-year. For the

            remaining 43 reactor units, either construction began within the past five years or they have

            not yet reached projected start-up dates, making it difficult or impossible to assess whether

            they are on schedule or not.

            • Two-thirds (44) of the units under construction are located in three countries: China, India

            and Russia.

          • jeppen

            Old stuff. As I said, now 72 reactors are under construction. Average construction times will go down since China has a lot going on on schedule and on budget, as do the Russians.

          • Bob_Wallace

            72 are being constructed?

            I call bullshit.

            The World Nuclear Association claims “over 60”. The first two countries they list are:

            In the *USA * there are plans for 13 new reactors, and two combined construction and operating licences for these were issued early in 2012 while five more are under review. All are for late third-generation plants, and a further proposal is for two ABWR units. it is expected that some of the new reactors will be on line by 2020.

            In *Canada *there are plans to build up to 2200 MWe or more of new capacity at Darlington in Ontario.

            The US has four under construction. One that was abandoned years ago being completed. Ontario canceled plans to build a new reactor. They count four in the UK – no shovelful of dirt has been turned.

          • jeppen

            I call bullshit on your call. The list I gave you has no UK builds. These are not plans – it is builds where first concrete has been poured and hasn’t been cancelled.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Give me the link to your list. I don’t see it in the last few comments.

          • jeppen
          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, that list seems more valid that the World Nuclear Association list.
            I’d question the three Japanese reactors. They’re not likely to be completed.

          • jeppen

            Possible, but I guess they cannot and will not pull them off the list until they have been formally cancelled.

          • jeppen

            Fascinating how this has two down-votes when I’m obviously factually correct and not more disrespectful than the previous speaker. Says something about this forum, I guess.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Turkey is holding off on nuclear, at least for a while.
            There’s considerable discussion in South Africa and India about the wisdom of continuing with their nuclear plans. Both countries have increased their renewable programs.

            Vietnam’s nuclear program seems to be wavering.
            Your math is flawed. Add up the MW of closed and closing reactors in the US and Germany. And don’t count the chickens not hatched.

          • jeppen

            Turkey isn’t really holding off on nuclear, it just got bogged down in the red tape. Of course there is discussions going on – there are a lot of people like you who don’t feel any urgency and think coal is good enough for now, while you are happily deluding yourself regarding the potential of renewables.

            Regarding Vietnam, my memory failed me. I was thinking of Pakistan, sorry about that.

            No, I won’t add any closing nukes. I’ll just look at the construction rate versus the current fleet and conclude the construction rate is far above replacement. That’s from a macro perspective, but in the micro perspective, both additions and closings will fluctuate wildly from year to year, but that’s not that interesting to me.

            You might like the micro perspective though (some years), as it gives you some fuel for your arguments, and you definitely want to postpone any understanding by only counting fully completed reactors and not analyzing based on reactors under construction. I fully understand that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do this. Make us a list of the reactors currently under construction worldwide.

            Not purposed. Not might get started. The ones currently being built.
            This will be the second time I’ve asked you to bring facts to the table. Personally I’m having trouble accepting your unsupported statements.

          • jeppen

            There is the Prius database, the WNA reactor database and this list:

            They all give more or less the same info. The databases are more detailed.

          • heinbloed

            Turkey’s energy and economy ministers are with 1 foot in jail. Corruption.
            Would you trust the Mafia to hadle atomic material ?

          • jeppen

            I have no problem with Turkey building nuclear whatsoever.

          • heinbloed

            “nuclear” can’t be build, jeppen.
            ” nuclear” is an adjective.

            Do you mean ‘atomic power plants’ ?

          • jeppen

            Do you think “atomic” sounds worse than “nuclear”? I don’t play those games.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No problem with Russia building reactors in Turkey?

            I guess you live well out of the plume zone….

          • jeppen

            Or well within the plume zone of coal plants, perhaps? But really, Russian nukes are good and Turkey is entitled to progress just like everybody else. I refuse to look down on these people.

            The lessons learned from accidents, as well as improvements in designs, make new nukes orders of magnitudes safer than old ones anyway.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’ve pretty much reached the end of your talking point list, eh?

            Now it’s time to drag out the “Will it be coal or nuclear?” bogus argument.
            Next do we see “No one has been killed by radiation (as long as we ignore all the people who have been)”?

          • jeppen

            Considering your last few comments, I think I know who is at the end. You know, if you’re too fed up to make even attempts at reasonable and interesting comments, then you’re allowed to just stop. No one will see it as you giving up on the issues or admitting any of the points I make.

            Btw, “coal or nuclear” is not bogus.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve been through this routine with too many knuckleheaded nuclear fanboys.
            Actually, I suspect you’ve been here before with other identities.

          • jeppen

            Yeah, conspiracy theories usually go along with the rest for knuckleheaded renewables fanboys. *sigh*

          • heinbloed

            Coal power plants emit lead.
            And this is brain damaging, you know that.
            Similar to radioactivity.

            “nukes” for pips and adjectives ?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Right. Nuclear is the answer.


          • jeppen

            Of course it is. France, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary and others have proven it. It has been done very quickly and easily and that can be replicated. Germany’s failure to scale OTOH is very discouraging.

          • eject

            That is a rather neat plot showing he decline of nuclear power and in particular that Denmark nearly produces more Wind power then Sweden Nuclear. If that plot contained more recent data I would bet little Denmark actually puts out more.

          • jeppen

            I bet Denmark does not. Sweden had a good nuclear year in 2013, and Denmark had a good wind year 2012. Also, Denmark can only have that much wind because it imports and exports an extreme amount of power from giant neighbors. Germany can’t replicate that penetration level.

            Everybody does their interpretations, I guess, but I see little appreciable decline in nuclear penetration except in Belgium. What the plot does show is how fast nuclear can be ramped, and how much wind and solar has yet to prove.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Most European countries intend to build no new nuclear reactors. Some countries have decided to close their existing reactors early.

            That’s the future of nuclear energy in Europe.

          • jeppen

            In the medium term, yes, without a doubt. Until the Green house of card falls, nuclear will falter in Europe. In Asia, however…

          • Bob_Wallace

            In Asia China will build some more reactors. They’ve already got them started. Other Asian countries are having second thoughts about building more reactors and are turning to renewables.

            It’s just math.

          • jeppen

            Sorry, but you obviously don’t know what you’re talking of. Nuclear interest and plans in Asia has been increasing.

          • heinbloed

            “Interest” is a financial term.
            Plans are ideas no banker puts a penny on.

            Asian atomic power plant sellers don’t know how to make money:


            ” China needs Western help for nuclear export ambitions ”

            The French neither:


            “France needs foreign sales to keep nuclear sector alive”

            That’s the reason the British Mafia invited them, to receive help …:)


            “Nuclear power: UK will get help to compete, say ministers”


            The financial circus arena has send the atomic clowns out the same way they came in.

          • Ross

            The misinformation about renewables not being able to be a significant part of a grid have been proven to be false (e.g. Island of Ireland). There is no house of cards. It’s built on bedrock.

          • jeppen

            AFAIK Ireland has sub-20% wind penetration as well. 20% might be significant, but far from what we need to combat climate change.

            World-wide electricity production is scheduled to increase almost 100% until 2040. How can we make sure coal and natural gas goes down in such a scenario? Not by having 20% wind, that’s for sure.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We take coal and gas offline by installing the cheapest, fastest to install and safest generation we have – renewables.

            Ireland and the UK have tremendous offshore and tidal potential. No reason for them to waste money on nuclear.

          • jeppen

            The UK government doesn’t agree, which is reflected in that the strike price is lower for nuclear than for tidal and off-shore.

          • Bob_Wallace

            And since when do all governmental leaders have good sense?

          • jeppen

            So you mean tidal and off-shore strike prices should be lower?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tidal and offshore prices are quite likely to fall. I don’t know what the UK needs to set their short term strike prices at in order to get their industries up and running.

          • jeppen

            Nuclear prices are as likely to fall, and also needs to get up and running. You’re applying double standards.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There is nothing that indicates that nuclear prices will fall. Nuclear is simply the fuel source for large thermal plants. And large thermal plants are expensive to build and take a long time to construct which means they pile up a lot of interest which has to be paid off.

            Some people think thorium will make nuclear cheaper but since fuel costs are now only $0.0075/Wkh there’s very little cost that can be cut with a fuel switch.

            Within a couple years both wind and solar should be firmly under 5c/kWh in the US. Nuclear will remain higher than 15c/kWh.

          • jeppen

            Well, that’s your crystal ball, and that’s your truth. I’ll believe it when I see it.

            In reality, solar and wind use a lot more metals and materials than nuclear, per kWh, and that give nuclear power a fundamental edge.

            $1-2/W is what the Chinese are aiming for. REs can’t compete with that, if you take capacity factor into account.

            The US costs are decided by the NRC, and I don’t know what they will decide.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Whatever the amount of concrete, steel or whatever wind, solar and nuclear use the price of electricity from a new nuclear plant is 2x to 3x that of wind and solar.

          • jeppen

            Yeah, yeah, materials doesn’t matter, LCOE doesn’t matter. Only your naked statements matter.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wind and solar have much lower LCOE and selling prices than nuclear.

          • jeppen

            You have provided variations of that naked statement 20 times now. It didn’t have any value the first time, even, and now the value is negative.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do you understand that selling price is the LCOE decreased by direct subsidies and increased by factors such as profit which are not included in a LCOE calculation?

            Or do you think there’s some sort of magical disconnect between LCOE and selling price?

          • jeppen

            Yes, I understand this.

          • heinbloed

            Mighty, a bit of logic please.

            There is no “medium term future”.

            There is no future for atomic power plants unless some dictators try to grab for the atomic bomb.

            You are an atomic clown, at the end of your wits and no one aplauding.
            Now you have to spread advertising leaflets you do not understand.

          • jeppen

            No country has acquired A-bomb capacity using ordinary power reactors.

          • juxx0r

            If nuclear is so awesome in Sweden why is the power company called The Water Fall?

          • jeppen

            Our hydro is even awesomer, I guess. But we do have the most nuclear power per capita in the world. Also, our nuclear has three owners, actually. It’s not all Vattenfall.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Wow, I was still sucking milk from my mother’s teat when that nuclear is bad for coal ad came out.

          • jeppen

            Ok, and how old are you now? 🙂

          • Ronald Brakels

            Let’s just say my relationship with my mother is complicated. But you are definitely behind the times. If you want to catch up I suggest you look up how the cost of new solar and wind compares to new coal and gas capacity in Australia. Also, check out how much electricity South Australia gets from wind and solar and note that’s not a limit. South Australia’s largest wind farm is now under construction near Snowtown and solar is continuing to expand.

          • jeppen

            Of course you can expand solar and wind. But will it ever combine to go above, say, 40% of yearly electricity production? I doubt it, due to intermittence.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do you understand that both renewables and nuclear need storage and dispatchable fill-in in order to play significant roles on any grid?

            In the US we had to build a significant amount of pump-up and CAES in order to get nuclear up to 20%. Japan also had to build a lot of storage.

          • jeppen

            Nuclear in France has about the same level of difficulties at 80% as wind at 20% has had in Denmark. Nuclear has ramped fast in different countries, as shown in the graph I gave earlier. That doesn’t seem to happen with wind. Why?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear ramped fast. It won’t again.

            There are now cheaper and safer alternatives.

          • jeppen

            Ramping speed is a choice made by different countries. I wouldn’t be so sure if I were you. But you’re lying about cheaper and safer alternatives. I still don’t understand why you’re lying about costs – the math isn’t that difficult, is it?

          • Ronald Brakels

            That’s why I said look it up. So you can actually know instead of just guessing.

          • jeppen

            Not very helpful. Tell instead, if you know. I’ve yet to see a grid that handles high penetrations (25%+) of wind + solar. All that have more are not grids, but small parts of a wider grid.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Jeppen, I’m not telling you things. From your responses to Bob and others I’d be a fool to think you’d listen. It’s clear the only way you’re going to learn something is if you look it up yourself. So why why don’t you go look up just how rooftop solar compares on cost to buying fossil fuel generated electricity from the grid in Australia, or look up just how much electricity a grid can geet from wind and solar? If you don’t know how to do that I’ll happily point you in the right direction,

          • jeppen

            That grid parity might be possible in Australia is nothing I’d argue against, but grid parity is usually a point of suboptimization, since when the grid is there, central production is usually more cost efficient.

            Yeah, then point me in the right direction on penetration. But I would really prefer a real life example to an academic paper that “proves” high penetrations are possible. I’ve seen a few of these before but have found them unconvincing.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Of course you don’t find research studies convincing when they don’t support your closely held beliefs.

            That’s exactly what happens with climate change deniers. They start with a belief and then discard any inconvenient facts.

            People who operate from a belief base rather than an empirical base can’t be convinced by data that doesn’t support their beliefs.

          • jeppen

            I would say the same about you, and you’re the one who goes on about renewables, as if that property had any value in itself. That’s a common feature of green dogma.

            To me, it’s all about empirical base, and that’s why I asked for real world examples. There is a lot of junk science out there, and some good too, of course. But anyway.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I started as a nuclear advocate. I thought that the best way to minimize climate change.

            But as I watched the price of renewables plummet I realized that we could do the job cheaper and faster with renewables.

            My position is based on data.

          • jeppen

            No, your position is based on false hopes and a failure to realize the external costs and limitations of intermittent power.

            We see how Germany’s slideware has them fossil free at 2050. Nobody in their right mind believes that slideware. At the same time, France did the trick between 1973 and 1988, in 15 years. Isn’t this “data”?

          • Bob_Wallace

            When your inputs are 5c to 10c and can provide you with 70%+ of your needs direct and storage costs are 5c to 10c, making the other 30% 10c to 20c it makes no sense to build >15c generation which will also require some significant 5c to 10c storage.

            Do I need to write the formula for you?

          • jeppen

            It isn’t the math, but your unrealistic assumptions on penetration potential and storage costs, as well as nuclear costs, that is the problem.

            But I can’t reach you on this. You really want renewables to be cheap and easy to integrate, and thus you decide they are. All information that comes your way is filtered and interpreted to fit that decision. Simple as that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Renewables are cheap. Half to a third the cost of new nuclear in the US.
            Integration of more than modest amount of wind, solar or nuclear requires storage, load-shifting and dispatchable generation.

            All three bear the same burden. But one of the three is greatly more expensive.

          • jeppen

            We’ve been through the LCOEs and discussed how intermittent sources (of course) require much more integration costs. That you, despite this, repeat the same falsehoods ten times over is just tiresome.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Very large quantities of wind are being used by several grid operators with virtually no increase in the need for operating reserves,” AWEA Transmission Policy Manager Michael Goggin. “The Midwest System Operator (MISO) has over twelve gigawatts. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has over ten gigawatts. Xcel Energy subsidiary Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) has had well over 50 percent wind at times.

            Renewables opponents, Goggin recalled, “have said for years that costs would go up and the grid would fall apart. They have been proven wrong.”

            In ERCOT’s calculations for 2011, Goggin said, “the total cost for integrating wind came out at about $0.50 per megawatt-hour.” And, he added, without 2011’s anomalies in July and August that accounted for 80 percent percent of all costs, the total costs in 2012 for the necessary balancing reserves and other expenses associated with the integration of large amounts of wind are expected to be even lower.

            “Newer research suggests systems can go to 40 percent renewables with no problem,” Goggin said, “using the very efficient grid operating practices being applied by MISO, ERCOT, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and others.”

            “They do very fast interval dispatch of all energy resources,” Goggin continued. “because load is continuously changing, the output of fossil-fired plants is continuously changing, and, of course, wind is continuously changing, too.” The closer system operators are to real-time dispatch, he explained, the more effectively supply and demand can be balanced without the use of reserves.

            “They also have pretty large balancing areas,” Goggin added. “If one wind project is going off, another is probably going on somewhere, providing an overall more stable output. Larger areas also simply have more resources to accommodate variability. In MISO, wind’s variability is just something in the noise. It is not showing up in their reserve needs.”

            ERCOT’s data is similar, Goggin said. “The areas of the country that have efficient grid operating practices have shown it is possible to integrate very large quantities of wind very reliably at virtually zero incremental cost. The areas of the country that don’t have efficient grid operating practices, namely, much of the West outside California, are seeing increased costs and challenges.”

            Studies show nuclear and large fossil plants actually have “far higher integration costs than renewables,” Goggin said. “Contingency reserves, the super-fast acting energy reserve supply required of grid operators in case a large power plant shuts down unexpectedly, are a major cost. Comparing the incremental cost of wind to those costs that ratepayers have always paid, the wind cost looks even more trivial.”

            The fundamental issues are more or less the same with integrating solar, Goggin, who specializes in wind, said. “Relative to wind, solar has more minute-to-minute variability, which increases the cost. But forecasting the sun is easier because it is clear when the sun will come up and go down and when the peak is, and that reduces the cost. But grid operators who use efficient operating methods are finding it is no more of a challenge or cost than wind.”


            $0.50/MWh is $0.0005/kWh which is about nothing.

            And let’s repeat – “Studies show nuclear and large fossil plants actually have “far higher integration costs than renewables,””

          • jeppen

            That’s a really good quote, I’ll give you that. But what are those “very large quantities of wind” really? 10%? Balanced by a large amount of fast, pre-existing gas generation? I can imagine that that is easy.

            They talk about research showing “40% renewables with no problem”. That’s good, and I hope to see it, but it is not good enough. But perhaps that is the best we can hope for in the US in the medium run – 40% renewables and 60% fracked gas.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Jeppen, you say grid parity might be possible in Australia, but why don’t you look it up and tell me whether or not point of use solar is cheaper right now than buying fossil fuel generated electricity from the grid in Australia? Then you should understand why solar is such a problem for fossil fuel generators in Australia and why the problem is only going to get worse for them.

          • jeppen

            The correct action to take to solve this problem would be to lower taxes for grid produced electricity and reduce variable grid fees and increase fixed grid fees.

          • heinbloed

            There is no problem for anyone with the Energiewende.
            Except for senile Mafiosis.

          • jeppen

            Your comments are really, really deteriorating now. Do you get any enjoyment out of that?

          • Ross

            The Island of Ireland grid generated over 25% of demand in every single month of 2012 (latest statistics).

          • jeppen

            No, you misread the statistics. Look at the graph called: “System Average Monthly Wind Penetration %”. It shows penetration vary from 10% to 20%!

          • heinbloed

            Wait ’till this years numbers are out.

            You will post them here, promised?

          • jeppen

            Also fascinating. I made an obvious correction, without being disrespectful in the least. And of course I get voted down.

          • Grad
          • jeppen

            Denmark has extreme gross imports and exports, so that isn’t a grid, but just a part of a grid that doesn’t seem to be able to handle the wind penetration itself. Then you talk about renewables, not intermittent power. Again, high wind penetrations have not been shown.

          • Grad

            Spain had 21% and Portugal had 27% of wind in first quarter.

            That is quite significant penetration, larger than coal (14% in Spain) and it actually reduced demand for it.

            Why do you downplay and ignore these numbers is beyond me.

          • jeppen

            Significant, yes, encouraging, yes, but I’d like full year figures and I’d like to see far higher penetrations to be convinced it’s a fully scaleable alternative. I’ll have to wait, though, because Portugal increased its wind capacity only 11% in 2012 and Spain only 5% and the growth rate is trending down.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You aren’t aware of the recession that hit Europe?

          • jeppen

            Yes, sure, that could be an explanation for the PIIGS, but not for most of the rest. We’ll see how it pans out – my prediction is that wind penetration growth will keep slowing.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Good luck with your predictions. Here’s some of the stuff you’re fighting against:

            Lower turbine prices. Turbines designed for lower wind speed locations. Dropping price of offshore wind. Specialized offshore wind turbines which lower maintenance costs. Significantly larger turbines. Smarter wind control systems.

          • jeppen

            I’m not fighting against anything. I’ll be overjoyed if wind one day becomes really scaleable and cheap, and not just imaginary so.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, son, we’ve been trying to tell you that wind and solar are right now affordable and are being scaled up.

            You seem to have a hard time hearing facts that interfere with your belief system.

          • jeppen

            So do you, so do you.

            But I mean REALLY scaleable and cheap. Not propped up by subsidies and scaling in the 20% range, but unsubsidized and in the 75% to 80% range. That’s where we have to be to tackle global warming and air pollution problems.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear is priced off the table.

          • juxx0r

            You can’t use a political ad by a union as evidence of anything but the stupidity and self interest of said union.

          • jeppen

            The self interest is rational. Coal is threatened by nuclear, but not very much by renewables. Also, the stupidity extends to the party said union roots for.

          • juxx0r

            See what i mean about stupidity. It was renewables that keeps shutting down the coal that came about through cheap solar and wind partly brought about by the political party that this ad supports. Cheap solar and wind. Those coal plants would likely still be running if we’d have gone with nuclear.

          • jeppen

            Funny. We see all over the world how nuclear is effective in replacing coal, while wind and solar does very little, especially considering the costs.

          • juxx0r

            Well we don’t have nuclear. Much of the solar has been roof top. This means it’s 25-30% of the cost of grid power. That’s 70-75% cheaper. You can see why we like it. We also have some of the best wind resources in the world. We will shut down all the coal power in australia and it will happen because wind and solar and hydro are cheaper. Nuclear is not.

          • jeppen

            Sounds really nice. Then you’ll be done pretty soon, right? When will you go past 50% solar+wind combined, in your estimate?

          • juxx0r

            Last Friday, for South Australia.

          • jeppen

            I’m not talking about the best hour for the home closest to a selected turbine. I’m talking about a full year for an entire grid (i.e. a region with preferably single-digit gross import and exports).

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’re asking for something unreasonable. The price of wind and solar has been low for only a very few years and there’s been no time for either to grow to major contributors.

            South Dakota and Iowa are 25% wind. The Pacific island of Tokelau is 100% solar.

          • jeppen

            Claims of low wind prices and faster-than-nuclear has been around at least since 2005, but nothing much happens. When will we see something for real?

          • Bob_Wallace

            “The cost of large-scale solar projects has fallen by one third in the last five years and big solar now competes with wind energy in the solar-rich south-west of the United States, according to new research.

            The study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory entitled “Utility-Scale Solar 2012: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States” – says the cost of solar is still falling and contracts for some solar projects are being struck as low as $50/MWh (including a 30 percent federal tax credit).”
            “Another interesting observation from LBNL is that most of the contracts written in recent years do not escalate in nominal dollars over the life of the contract. This means that in real dollar terms, the pricing of the contract actually declines.

            This means that towards the end of their contracts, the solar plants (including PV, CSP and CPV) contracted in 2013 will on average will be delivering electricity at less than $40/MWh. This is likely to be considerably less than fossil fuel plants at the same time, given the expected cost of fuels and any environmental regulations.”

            “The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged $40/MWh for projects negotiating contracts 2011 and 2012, spurring demand for wind energy.”

            The build time for wind farms is under two years, sometimes under one.

          • juxx0r

            But if the current rate of solar installation keeps up the World will have 614% of it’s electrical needs provided by solar alone in the same amount if time it will take to build a nuclear reactor in the western world.

          • jeppen

            What is the installation rate now, world-wide? 30 GW solar? That gives 750 GW steady state, given a life time of 25 years. This will produce what, 1500 TWh/year? Less than current nuclear production.

            I’m curious about your math – go ahead and show it.

          • juxx0r

            Current world solar production 0.6%
            Rate of increase in solar installations 58%
            Divide into 72 to get the doubling time = 1.24 years
            0.6% * 2^(12.5 years/1.24)
            =649% of world electricity production

            I did it yesterday but i rounded the 1.24.

            wind is just as good
            Current world wind production 5%
            Rate of increase >25%
            divide into 72 = 2.88
            5%* 2^(12.5/2.88)
            =101.28% of world electricity needs.

            and there you have it, current growth rates of wind and solar gives you >700% of world electricity needs within the completion time of a new nuclear reactor in the western world

          • jeppen

            Ah, exponential growth, not current growth. Then I get it. And some cherry-picked nuclear build time. Worthless but correct math.

            Btw, your wind rate of increase is old, the rate diminishes every year and stood at 19% in 2012.

          • juxx0r

            Exponential growth is current growth:

            OK lets drop the permitting and construction time to 7.5 years.

            Then you get 40% for solar and 30% for wind for a total of 70% add in 16% for hydro and you’ve got 86% renewables in 7.5 years.

            How can you justify a 70 year investment when wind and solar are undermining your market, to the point where you might not even have a market by the time you’ve finished construction?

            New nuclear is dead. Dead as a doornalium.

          • jeppen

            Again, wind pioneer countries are slowing to a crawl when in low double digits. Nuclear, in its time, easily surged past 50%.

            Exponential growth with wind isn’t happening anymore. It might look like that at a glance, but according to the numbers, the percentage-wise growth is decreasing year-on-year.

            2009, wind increase in nameplate capacity was 32%. The following years: 24%, 20%, 19%. It might look a bit better for production, when capacity factors increase, but that’s a temporary thing. Over the coming decade, global wind growth will slow to a crawl when more and more grids saturate their capacity to handle intermittency.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear exceeded 50% only when other countries provided “storage” for the producing country. You can’t run a grid on nuclear unless you have significant storage of one form or another.

            Nuclear has a need for storage just as wind and solar do. Anytime you start talking about significant nuclear penetration you need to included the cost of storage.

          • jeppen

            Similar level of difficulties with 80% nuclear as with 20% wind. It is silly, fraudulent even, to try to make them the same. System costs for wind is far, far, far higher.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Somewhere around 30% nuclear and the grid starts needing storage to move off peak generation to peak demand hours.

          • jeppen

            Very strange argument. But I’ll leave it at that, it seems you’re just on a childish “na-ah” spree.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Describe for us how one would run a 100% nuclear grid. Assume a 1:3 off-peak to peak demand ratio.

          • jeppen

            I’ve never talked about 100% nuclear. I’ve talked about what I’ve seen, the 80% in France.

            AFAIK, we can’t run 100% nuclear unless we make nukes that are better at load following.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t care.

            Tell us now a 100% nuclear grid would work.

            If you want to admit that you aren’t capable of doing that then tell us how France could run with 80% nuclear – if it couldn’t trade power with other European countries. Essentially using other countries as storage.

          • jeppen

            Fair enough, 20% intermittent and 80% nuclear is ok with cross country grids.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Enough tap dancing.

            Explain how a free standing 100% nuclear grid would work.

            Just tell us how, using nothing but nuclear for an input, you match supply to demand with a 1:3 ratio from off-peak to peak.

          • jeppen

            You’re getting more and more childish for every comment, I think. I told you, a free standing 100% nuclear grid won’t work, as current nukes are designed. (But I would rather have that than 100% wind.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, how much nuclear could one use on a free-standing grid? What is the maximum percentage?

            Tell us how this grid of yours would function.

          • jeppen

            Depends on the flexibility of the rest of the generation, for instance, and on the amount of overbuilding you allow. There is no simple answer for this and no one value. What is clear, however, is that the percentage is a lot higher than the maximum wind penetration, given the same requirements. This should be obvious for anyone who has looked at a wind production graph.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tippity-tappity. Put out a hat and we’ll pitch in some coins.

            OK, here’s the deal.

            You’ve got a grid that needs an average of 200 MW of demand.

            Sometimes demand is as low as 100 MW and sometimes as high as 300 MW.

            How many 100 MW reactors do you need to build to supply that grid?

          • jeppen

            Perhaps five, if you want some margin when some of them has to shut down, i.e. 500 MW.

            Now, how much average solar do you need for a 100% solar grid? No amount will suffice, of course, since you need power at night too.

            How much average wind would you need for a 100% wind grid? If you have a big enough country so that you get at least 10% of average at all times, then you need to overbuild by a factor of 10. I.e. make sure that you average 3000 MW, with a nameplate of 9000 MW.

            Each of these scenarios are impractical, but they illustrate that nuclear is by far the easiest to integrate in high-penetration settings.

          • Bob_Wallace

            So in order to supply an average of 200 MW you have to build 500 MW of nuclear generators. Let’s not get distracted with solar or wind. Let’s work out how this grid of your operates.

            3 am. Demand 100 MW. How many reactors do you have running?

            10 am. Demand 300 MW. How many reactors do you have running?

            8 pm. Demand 200 MW. How many reactors do you have running?

            Let’s stay on topic, please.

          • jeppen

            Yes, you’re desperate not to compare this to wind and solar, right! 🙂 So sad…

            I guess you’d have all five running at all these times, and use some form of load shedding (enormous resistor banks have been used by the French) to get rid of excess power.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, I want you to answer the question I asked.

            You refuse to, I suspect, because in order to do so you would have to admit that any significant penetration by nuclear would require large amounts of storage.

            If you admit that storage would be required – just as wind and solar require storage – then any advantage for nuclear falls away.

            16c electricity stored costs multiple times more than 5c stored electricity.
            Nuclear has lost due to its high cost.

          • jeppen

            Strange comment. I didn’t refuse, I answered.

            You fail to appreciate the difference in magnitude for storage/balancing problems for baseload vs intermittent power. I can’t do anything about that, because you don’t want to understand.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, you tap danced around the question. You never answered it.

            That’s because giving a direct answer would require you to admit that nuclear requires storage.

          • jeppen

            Could you elaborate a bit on exactly what you mean by “storage”? If maximum nuclear generation is below minimum load, do we need storage then?

            If maxium nuclear generation is above minimum load, I’d say we need storage or at least we need to be able to dump excess power, yes.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The amount of nuclear generation that can be added to a grid is limited by the flexibility that grid already has. The amount of storage, dispatchable generation and ability to load-shift.

            The same restrictions hold for wind and solar.

            Once the limits have been reached then both nuclear and wind/solar require storage to be added to the grid.

            Nuclear at 15+cents/kWh plus storage costs more than 5 cent/kWh wind/solar plus storage.

            If storage costs 8 cents then stored nuclear costs more than 23 cents. Stored wind/solar costs 13 cents.

          • jeppen

            “The amount of nuclear generation that can be added to a grid is limited by the flexibility that grid already has.”

            So when France went from 8% to 75% nuclear in 13 years or so, it had a really flexible grid to begin with?

            “The same restrictions hold for wind and solar.”

            Yes, in the abstract, but as I’ve been trying to explain, the magnitude of the problem is different. You assume that it is the same magnitude, the same storage necessary. And this means you don’t really understand the difference between intermittent power and baseload power. I seem to be unable to explain it to you.

            I’ll skip your repetitions of false costs, so you don’t have to threaten me again.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, for the umpteenth time.

            France ships its extra to other countries and buys back when it’s under supplied. Other European countries serve as virtual storage for France. —

            Let’s talk baseload. The first “one third” of the demand.

            You could build nuclear. 15c/kWh. You’d need to build backup for when the nuclear is offline, at least 10% of the time. (Nuclear backup for nuclear would raise the cost of electricity to about 30c since most of the cost of nuclear is non-op expenses.)

            You could build wind/solar at 5c/kWh. You’d need to build enough storage to fill in for the ~30% of the time that wind and solar were not directly supplying needs.

            And from “baseload” to 100% grid supply the math stays the same. Nuclear and wind/solar need backup and storage. The difference is that one costs 15c and the other 5c.

          • jeppen

            France hasn’t generally bought back much. In 2000-2005, it exported some 15% and imported about 1%. Please see:

            I’m sorry, I’m sure your explanation makes sense to you, but my Christmas vacation are over as of today and I have to give up trying to explain stuff to someone who doesn’t want to understand.

            I’ll respond to other interested parties, as that might be fruitful, but will let your comments slip from now. I hope you enjoyed trolling “15c/kWh and 5c/kWh” a hundred times.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve looked at France’s import/export data many times.

            Why did you pick 2000 to 2005? Not that it matters but did you not see that their exports have been dropping and imports rising since 2005?

            Regardless, your data shows exactly what I’m talking about. France buys and sells as a form of storage. France sells less electricity to Germany than it buys back. And Germany makes roughly a 7% profit off France in the exchange. France is forced to dump nuclear and has to pay more when it’s found short.

            France’s nuclear fleet also has a rather low CF, down around 77%. Part of the year they simply turn off reactors.

            When your building a grid with nuclear you’ve got a large capex/finex nut to cover. An idle reactor is not saving you money, as you know the variable operating expense is low. Fixed operating expenses can’t be turned off. (You still need staff, guards, etc. on hand.) Running a reactor at 77% makes the electricity produced about 15% more expensive than if run at 90%. All the electricity produced that year.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “I’m sorry, I’m sure your explanation makes sense to you, but my Christmas vacation are over as of today and I have to give up trying to explain stuff to someone who doesn’t want to understand.”

            I just don’t think you’re going to have any success trying to convince anyone that 5c > 15c.

          • heinbloed

            EDF is exporting electricity to Swiss hydro storage plants and re-importing this stuff, with a loss of about 10-30 %.
            This loss is counted as “export”, nice fiddeling of numbers that is.
            EDF even built hydrostorage plants in the Swiss alps with only 1 cable, from France to France via the hydro power plant in Switzerland
            This they called ” Export” since it went over the border.

            Check the tremendous overall loss of their electricity distribution system, about 4-5 % are lost.
            EDF is Europes Top Electricity Loser in Europe.

          • juxx0r

            Yes it might look like that at a glance. It might look like that when you plot it on log paper. It might look like that when you look at the pipeline of projects. It’s awfully deceptive this growth if you say it’s something different.

            You didn’t answer my question:
            “How can you justify a 70 year investment when wind and solar are undermining your market, to the point where you might not even have a market by the time you’ve finished construction?”

          • jeppen

            If you really believe in no-limits cheap solar and wind, then of course you can’t justify nuclear power.

            So the Chinese, the British, the Russians, the Turks and all the others must be really stupid to not see what you guys see as obvious.

          • juxx0r

            Politicians. Sure, they’re stupid. Thats in the definition.

            Entrepreneurs, you don’t see them building nuclear reactors. They’re building wind and solar plants.

          • jeppen

            The entrepreneurial spirit in nuclear was killed in the 70-ies. To be an entrepreneur, you need low regulatory burdens or massive resources. It’s not a coincidence that google is doing autonomous cars and Gates is supporting some nuclear research. You can’t do much in those areas if you’re smaller than that, given the regulation involved.

          • Bob_Wallace

            In the 1970s we reached the point at which we no longer believed that nuclear would give us electricity too cheap to meter. We watched the price of nuclear energy rise over the years rather than fall as we had been led to believe.

            We stopped building reactors.

            Now a few people seem to not remember their history and seem to have been taken in by the nuclear industry that has somehow convinced them that reactors aren’t really expensive.

            We’ll build a few so the dummies can get a personal taste of cost.

          • jeppen

            Yeah, that must be why.

          • Bob_Wallace
          • Bob_Wallace

            The Chinese have cut their nuclear goals and greatly increased their solar and wind goals.

            I have no explanation for what the Brits are thinking. As far as looking to Russia or Turkey as a role model, that’s scraping the bottom of the barrel.

          • jeppen

            Yeah, I know only Westerners count for you.

            The Chinese still build their future on nuclear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            4% of total electricity is a pretty low future.

          • jeppen

            They have higher goals than that. But why argue – we’ll just have to see. I realize nothing really comes through to you. You have to see it for yourself. I suspect it will take at least a decade more of this self delusion before facts on the ground become obvious enough for you.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I now see a site claiming 6% by 2020.

            That’s still a pretty small percentage of total power. And all their plants now under construction are scheduled to be completed before 2020.

          • jeppen

            Yes, of course. But they are still ramping, and the economics of power sources in China suggest that they will keep ramping.

            Please remember that China’s top leadership is mostly engineering types. This means they still favor rational solutions to problems, just like Westerners did a long time ago. The last few decades of political life in the Western world, however, has been very much about replacing what really works with whatever sounds good.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, China’s leaders do seem to be pretty rational when it comes to energy.
            Post Fukushima and post the massive decrease in wind and solar cost they have greatly cut back new nuclear projects and ramped up wind and solar projects.

            That’s rational thinking.

          • jeppen

            You’re so clever! You have these really bright and mature responses to everything. My hat goes off for you!

            (The current problem with Chinese nuclear ramping, as stated by officials, is not that leaders doesn’t want to expand, nor that the economy or tech isn’t there. The problem is public acceptance at specific sites. I guess you’ll be as happy with this, no?)

          • Bob_Wallace

            One does not have to be at all clever to understand that nuclear energy is expensive and that the cost of wind and solar have plummeted over the last few years.

            Only someone blinded by an irrational love for nuclear energy would have trouble understanding that 5 < 16.

          • heinbloed

            Several members of Chinese public had been killed by death sqads.
            They were convicted for bribery and corruption , being involved in the construction of atomic power plants.
            At least 1 gouvernor was included.

            So better don’t ask the public, they would not dare to answer unless tortured.

          • Steve Grinwis

            You are confusing the warranty period for solar panels with its lifespan. The panels don’t stop working the second they are out of warranty. We have every rain to believe panels that aren’t physically destroyed will continue to work at slightly reduced power output rates for decades past their warranty. A solar panel is basically a rock, that produces electricity when exposed to sunlight.

            You are also ignoring that nuclear reactors are turning out to be a lot more expensive to maintain then we thought.

            I suspect both of these are intentional on your part.

          • jeppen

            We’ll see about the panels. They aren’t as simple as rocks, unfortunately. Cheap Chinese stuff – perhaps it won’t hold together as well as you think? Also, I think inverters might be the big problem. If they cost nothing in 15 years, then solar is in a far better position.

            Reactors aren’t that expensive to maintain in relation to the power produced. However, regulatory burdens have made it easier to upgrade and up-rate reactors than to build new ones, and that is a problem. Also, stuff isn’t “turning out” to be more expensive, they are actively MADE more expensive by putting people like Jazko in charge of regulation and oversight.

          • Steve Grinwis

            No… They are turning out to be more expensive than planned to maintain, and while this mainly has to do with safety, we kind of want our nuclear reactors to be safe.

            France did an audit of their nuclear reactors to prevent a fukishima style meltdown at their plants and reccomended $13 billion in immediate repairs… In addition to the $50 billion so odd worth of work the industry was going to do anyways. Spending $63 billion on the countries 58 reactors increases the cost substantially, and is causing France’s rates to go up.


            You’ll note in that link from the Nuclear industry, they they describe the costs of nuclear as ‘soaring’.

            I know in Canada, for a while, the Prime Minister ordered a nuclear plant to run without having all of the designed backup cooling systems operational. Know how terrifying that is to be potentially living down wind from such a monstrosity? I suspect not. That’s the real reason why I can’t condone nuclear. Because it often isn’t the designers and engineers making the calls on safety. It’s regulators and politicians, who inevitably do a horrible job of it. Fukishima was supposed to be a safe plant.

            As for solar cell lifespan, we don’t have a massive volume of data, no. That’s because most of the solar panels in the world are still only a few years old. However, the worlds first modern solar panel still works, 60 years later. Kryocera has a bunch of 30 year old installations still rocking, and warranty returns for existing fleet are manageable. We can also model solar panels based off of other electronics, and work out their life expectancy and make a pretty decent prediction… Turns out solar panels follow the standard bathtub curve failure model. They have a relatively high failure rate when new, which drops to almost no failure for a very long period of time, and at some point the failure rate will climb… We haven’t had panels around long enough to see the other side of that curve yet. That’s a good thing, and suggests that panels are going to hang out for a long time.

            We do have this list of how fast the panels degrade over time. Newer panels degrade more slowly than old ones…


          • jeppen

            Fukushima turned out to be fairly safe. Even with multiple meltdowns, nothing much happened. You’ll go ballistic, I’m sure, but that’s the truth. A freak tsunami killed more than ten thousand and destroyed countless of homes and the nuclear plant, but the nuclear plant itself didn’t add to casualties.

            Being afraid of a nuclear plant is like fretting about flying while speeding your car to the airport. Understandable and human, but not rational. Nuclear power saves 80,000 lives per year. We can regulate it to be “safer” and too expensive to run, and then those lives won’t be saved anymore. To find the sweet spot is a classic optimization problem which Western governments ignore, and its fairly obvious that we now have way, way too much safety regulation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            People were killed in the evacuation.

            It’s too early for the radiation illnesses to appear.

          • jeppen

            Yeah, the panic is far worse than the radiation. There won’t be any radiation illnesses. Look it up.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Oh, what people should do when a reactor starts melting is to stick around to see how bad it gets.

            Do you realize that you’re drifting off into sillyland?

          • jeppen

            It’s a common theme in nuclear contingency plans to have the right amount of evacuation, correct information and so on, because it is well known that too much panic and evacuation is quite damaging. (Still politicians can’t help themselves when ordering too much of everything.) This is not silly-land, but serious, mainstream planning.

          • Steve Grinwis

            You completely missed / intentionally ignored the part where the reactor in question did not have it’s safety equipment operational. The emergency cooling pumps were not working. The regulator knew this and ordered the plant shut down. By definition, this plant was no longer safe, but was operated anyways. I have every right to be afraid of such a beast. It could have easily gone sideways on us, and irradiated a big chunk of land.

            And I’m not sure how you consider Fukishima to be safe… Massive amounts of radiation were released, and a rather large chunk of formerly very productive land is now irradiated past the point where humans aren’t allowed to live there, and that may not change for decades or centuries. The total clean up costs for the reactor are estimated between 250 and 500 billion according to some experts. Now, we’ve had nuclear power for all of what.. 4 decades? And we’ve had a number of close calls. How long till the big one? Exposed core, plumes of radioactive dust sent into the upper atmosphere, and the rest of it?

            I was a former nuclear advocate, like yourself. Then it turned out that a really safe plant (or so we thought) couldn’t hold up to a Tsunami like it was supposed to, and suffered multiple meltdowns… And all this points to something terrifying… The plants aren’t as safe as they are supposed to be. The 1 in 1000 year accident rate that they were designed for has turned into a 3 in 50 year accident rate. The plants are simply -NOT- safe.

            Add to that, the fact that solar and wind power rates are dropping quickly, and in a year or two, we’ll all be total fools if we don’t have solar arrays on all our houses. The truth is, you’ve already lost. Nuclear is winding down. Plants are being offlined quickly, and new plants are being stalled. Those that are being built are running horribly over budget. I don’t buy that the Chinese plants are coming in on budget… We have a very good idea that the Chinese lie through their teeth on all kinds of metrics to make themselves look good. This is much the same. If the U.S. and Canada can’t bring a reactor in on budget, despite having large industries in these sectors, then if the Chinese are doing it, they are either doing it badly, or they’re lying through their teeth.

          • jeppen

            “The emergency cooling pumps were not working.”

            Sounds implausible, but interesting. Do you have a link for this (not a Greenpeace-type link, but something more official)?

            “a rather large chunk of formerly very productive land is now irradiated past the point where humans aren’t allowed to live there”

            Aren’t allowed. That’s very true. Even though radiation levels in most of those places presents no appreciable risk.

            “The total clean up costs for the reactor are estimated between 250 and 500 billion according to some experts.”

            Experts like Greenpeace or worse.

            “Now, we’ve had nuclear power for all of what.. 4 decades? And we’ve had a number of close calls.”

            That glass is half-full to me. We have had full-blown meltdowns with big-time containment breaches. And in the grand scheme of things, the damage is nothing. It’s cheaper than German solar, it is less damaging to human health than a few days of global traffic or a few weeks of global coal combustion and so on.

            “I was a former nuclear advocate, like yourself.”

            George Monbiot was a skeptic but Fukushima made him a nuclear advocate. He drew the correct conclusion that nuclear accidents weren’t all that bad.

            “The 1 in 1000 year accident rate that they were designed for has turned into a 3 in 50 year accident rate.”

            Every accident improves the rest of the fleet by a lot. And all accidents have happened in old reactors that have far less time margins and passive safety than new ones.

            “The plants are simply -NOT- safe.”

            Of course not. Did you believe they were? Industries are not and cannot, even should not, be safe. There is always a trade off. People get dazzled by the large scale of nuclear accidents, but seems to fail to divide the size of the accidents with the amount of useful output between them and compare this to the steady grind of other industries and generation methods. Life cycle analyses show that nuclear, including accidents, is actually best.

            “in a year or two, we’ll all be total fools if we don’t have solar arrays on all our houses.”

            No, solar is still many times more expensive than nuclear and wind. It might reach grid parity, but that doesn’t make it inherently cheaper.

            “The truth is, you’ve already lost.”

            I cannot lose, because I’m not competing. I’m simply worried about climate change and coal pollution.

            “Nuclear is winding down.”

            Constructions have tripled since the low point in the 90-ies and now 72 reactors are under construction. The EIA 2013 projection have global nuclear almost doubled until 2040. Far too little, far too late, but anyway.

            “I don’t buy that the Chinese plants are coming in on budget…”

            It’s a free world and you can buy whatever you want, but it’s a fact that they have come in on schedule, sometimes even before schedule.

            “then if the Chinese are doing it, they are either doing it badly,”

            Their regulatory regimes try to promote progress and rational, lean decision-making. Ours don’t. That’s the main difference, I think. I assume you’ll equate such Chinese regulatory regimes with “bad” and “irresponsible”, but I don’t. I think regulation is killing us, and not only in the nuclear arena, but in medicine, agriculture, traffic and more. We could have better medicines, great GMO crops, flying or at least autonomous cars and so on.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Solar panels are basically thin sheet of rock under a sheet of glass.

            Speaking of cheap Chinese stuff, now long do you think it will be before one of the Chinese or South Korean plants melts down because someone took some money under the table to cut a corner or two?

            These are countries with major corruption issues. Look what happened in Japan when their government crawled into bed with TEPCO.

          • jeppen

            Why then does a solar panel’s output drop a lot when a small part is shaded? (You don’t need to answer, I know why. Just trying to explain that it isn’t just rock and glass.)

            We’ll surely have new nuclear accidents in the future, and aircraft accidents and so on. It’s worth it by far. I absolutely think China and Korea should do industry, and nuclear is not magical, but like any other industry. And it’s a fallacy to think the government can or should make sure no accidents ever happen. The attempt isn’t worth its costs in dollars and in lives.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Why then does a solar panel’s output drop a lot when a small part is shaded?”


            Why does a nuclear reactor shut down when someone sets part of it on fire?
            (See, I can ask irrelevant questions as well.)

          • jeppen

            You know, the mature thing to do when you don’t understand is to just ask.

          • Steve Grinwis

            You do remember my preface right? “Solar panel is a rock that creates electricity when exposed to sunlight… turns out unsurprisingly, that if you don’t expose it to sunlight, it doesn’t make electricity (SHOCKING REVELATION!!). Also, logically… A half shaded panel doesn’t work as well as a panel in full sunlight! (SHOCKING).

          • jeppen

            *sigh* So you don’t know that shading a single cells usually works as if all cells were shaded? You need to read up on PV.

          • CaptD

            I believe that it is important to mention that TEPCO is really (especially now) just part OF the Japanese Government, which spells “more disasters” in the future, as operators all seek to build and operate for less to maximize short term profits…

          • heinbloed

            You are talking rubbish again.

            Or is it your world is a different one?
            The English term “world” is known to you?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Gee, you could read the article about how fossil fuels in Europe are going to have to be shut down. Largely thanks to German solar.

          • jeppen

            German solar won’t offset the German nuclear shut-down, as mentioned. It might precede it, though, in which case German fossils will have to ramp again.

          • heinbloed

            No glass ball reading here.

            Share your experience with PV, like durability, output etc….

    • heinbloed
      • jeppen

        Sometimes, market explanations becomes a bit silly. Finland is quite far from Germany (AFAIK, no direct transmission either) and it’s a bit strange to explain everything that happens in the world with 5% German solar (when they have decommissioned as much nuclear). There is also cheap German coal, new Swedish wind, record Finnish nuclear production and improved Swedish nuclear production. All those I’d say is more likely to influence Finnish coal profitability.

  • ghawar

    “The Finnish government, in the meantime, has committed itself to transitioning to a clean, renewable energy future — only logical, right?”

    yeah right. finnish government has committed to nuclear power (well if areva ever manages to complete the project in olkiluoto…). the share of renewables in finland hasn’t increased significantly recently. perhaps the writer meant that the clean energy future is nuclear.

    anyway in spite of the greenwashing germany remains even a net importer of coal.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Germany will be cutting its use of coal as they finish replacing their inefficient plants with load-following supercritical plants.

      And Germany can’t convert to 100% renewables over night.

      • jeppen

        Yeah, sure. Those new, shiny, efficient plants won’t be used much, right? Ever heard of Jevons paradox?

        • A Real Libertarian

          How does the observation that energy efficiency in general often results in more energy consumption in general imply that energy efficiency in a specific source would result in more energy consumption in that specific source?

          • jeppen

            Why would it not translate? They are cheaper to run so it will be more attractive to do so.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Except they aren’t cheaper to run… Solar costs $0/ kw/hr to run once installed… so in modern electricity markets that bid for production, they simply bid $0/ kw/hr, and then earn whatever price the wholesale price winds up at. This is why the wholesale price of electricy in Germany has fallen.

          • jeppen

            New coal is cheaper to run than old coal, that’s what I’m saying.

            Solar O&M is quite high, because of inverter breakdowns but also cleanup, site maintenance and such. But sure, if you have a working solar installation, you want to run it as long as prices are in positive territory.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sure, as long as you ignore the capex and finex.

            That’s a pretty common thing that nuclear fanboys like to do.

          • jeppen

            Funny, when Steve Grinwis, renewable fanboy, just talked at length about “$0/kw/hr” for solar power, you fault nuclear fanboys for ignoring capex and finex.

            We are correct in doing this btw – capex and finex does not matter in production decisions when a plant is complete.

            Can you please try to be just a little bit even-handed and not assume everything I do is part of some general evil?

          • Bob_Wallace

            “capex and finex does not matter in production decisions when a plant is complete”

            Oh, come on. The reason that nuclear energy costs more than 15c/kWh is because the capex and accumulated interest have to be paid.

            Solar and wind also have capex expenses but accrue much less interest because they come on line very quickly and start an income stream.

            If I see someone out of line (IMO) on the renewable side I point it out to them. I don’t catch everything. And you’ve turned this thread into a PITA with your constant posting.

          • jeppen

            You are the pain in the ass here. You just keep repeating falsehoods, seemingly to bait me, or possibly because you believe that if you say them enough times, they will become true.

            My statement about capex and finex holds true. For instance, you don’t choose to run an old, written off plant before a more efficient new plant that hasn’t been written off, just because the old plant is “cheaper”. What matters then is the marginal cost.

    • heinbloed

      News about Finnland’s EPR banger are just in:

      or in German language from Austria

      In short:

      Areva missed a dead line at 31/12/2013, they have tell at the end of the year to the Finnish grid authorities when that thing will be going online.
      And they did not do so.

      Areva isn’t available for comments.

      So if they fit in a new date it won’t be before 2017 the project is finished.
      The press and the public are speculating : the EPR will never be finished.
      A ruin before it explodes.

      That is an inherent safe atomic power plant, never being fueled 🙂

  • Bob_Wallace

    Natural gas isn’t cheap in Europe like in the US. That would explain why gas plants are taking a hit. But I would assume they are keeping enough on line for dispatchable fill-in.

    The new German coal plants are somewhat load following so that might be lowering the valuable of gas.

    • Lindsay Wilson

      Yep, European nat gas prices determined at margin meaning they are following the LNG price out of Qatar

  • Ross

    So the owners of Irsching-5 are threatening to close down the plant? Well make my day boys.

  • Will E

    ALDEL aluminum melter shut down in Groningen, Netherlands, last week 2013.
    due to high energy prices in Netherlands
    low energy prices in Germany,
    more high energy companies will follow
    ALDEL was no more competitive
    Still the Netherlands are super slow on renewables

    • Bob_Wallace

      Aldel has been trying to buy cheaper electricity from Germany. I guess that didn’t work out.

      Interesting how der Spiegle and other right wing media outlets have been talking about how high electricity prices in Germany were causing manufacturing to leave the country.

      • JamesWimberley

        Der Spiegel is historically left-wing. Also contrarian, which dominates its odd anti-renewables stance, Compare the lefty British pundit George Monbiot’s support for nuclear.

    • jeppen

      How much money has Germany wasted on renewables? 200 billion euros? It is obvious that Netherlands have the better deal here.

      • Bob_Wallace

        How much has Germany invested in renewables? Is it 200 billion euros? Let’s assume that’s an accurate number and not an inflated one.

        In 2012 Germany saved 8 billion euros because renewables let them purchase less fossil fuel. If they spent 200 euros and saved 8 then they’re getting a 25 year 3% return on their investment. Not huge, but when one considers that a lot of the purchased infrastructure will continue to produce returns post the 25 year payback period it’s actually some better.

        Remember, those panels and turbines that saved Germany 8 billion in 2012 will continue to save them fuel costs for decades.

        • jeppen

          I assume you include pre-existing hydro in your 8 billions? I’d be surprised if much of current installations will be operating in 25 years. If they are, new inverters and replaced parts for wind turbines will have cost them many, many additional billions. They will clearly not recoup costs, especially not for their solar which provides little power but have generated most of the costs.

          More importantly, 200 billion euros would have given them some 60 GW nuclear power, easily replacing all their coal. Financially, Germany’s solar is a worse disaster than Fukushima, and still it gives them only 5%.

          • Bob_Wallace

            First gen wind turbines lasted 30 years. We now have much better technology.

            First gen solar panels have been operating for 40 years with ~0.5% output loss per year.

            Nuclear plants have repair issues, you realize?

            Germans paid a lot early on in solar feed-in tariffs as a way to bring down the price of solar. That was an investment in cheap solar. From here on they can install solar at a small fraction of what they had to pay only a few years ago.

          • jeppen

            SOME first gen wind turbines may have lasted 30 years, at low altitudes and perhaps continually repaired? Design life for new wind and solar is typically 25 years. Also, roof-top solar is somewhat limited by inverters and the need for roof replacement. At some point, it isn’t worth it to keep an old solar installation going.

            Old nukes were typically designed for 30 years and some of them are far beyond that. I fully expect the 60 years design life for new nuclear to eventually be licensed to 80 years.

            But let’s use 25 years for wind and solar and 60 years for nuclear, since that’s what’s advertised.

            German solar is still far too expensive to be rational.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We could use 25 for wind and solar and 60 for nuclear if we were interested in having a dishonest conversation.

            We could use the price of electricity from paid off reactors rather than the cost from new reactors.

            We could cherry pick the fastest build time for China’s reactors and talk about reactors being built in just a few years and ignore the reactors that have taken more than a decade to bring on line.

            We could do a lot of things to make nuclear seem like a reasonable choice, couldn’t we?

          • jeppen

            25/60 is the advertised life times. If you know better than the companies doing these systems, then by all means, you can try to have a more “honest” conversation.

            I don’t use the price of electricity from paid off reactors, and I don’t cherry-pick the fastest build times. (Then I would be going for 3.5 years or something, not 5.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Give me a list of all reactors which have operated for 60 years please.

          • jeppen

            There are none. But, you know, the engineers talk about 25/60, so if you have nothing better, I will tend to use those figures. You can give your figures for how large a percentage of wind turbines have survived to 30 years, perhaps?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well we have solar panels that have been operating for 40 years. A study of panels in service for 30 years with a 2% failure rate for the 30 years and a <0.5% per year output loss.

            Altamont Pass's 30 year old turbines are just now being replaced.

            So we have examples of wind and solar lasting more than 25 years. No examples of reactors lasting 60.

          • jeppen

            Again, how large a percentage of the wind turbines have survived, without replacement, for 30 years?

            Where can I read about this panel study claiming 2% failure rate?

            (I’d also like to be extra obnoxious and claim those figures are irrelevant anyhow. New wind and solar installations have little in common with the old ones. So I’d go with the advertised figures anyway. Nuclear is just as likely as solar and wind to perform beyond that.)

          • Bob_Wallace
          • Bob_Wallace

            I suspect you’re looking at warranty life for panels and taking that for expected lifetime.

            Cars often get 3 year, 30,000 mile warranties but run trouble free for 100k+.

          • jeppen

            Sure, but there is also the roof lifetime, the inverter lifetime, the degradation and so on. Many will be thrown away at 15-25 years, and if not, it still doesn’t do that much for the LCOE to extend the lifetime of solar further.

          • Matt

            If life time does not impact LCOE then lets assume 5 years for the life of nuclear. Having trouble repaving parts in current nuclear and they are not 60 years old.

          • jeppen

            Life time matters, but it doesn’t matter that much beyond the 25 years I assumed, depending on interest rate.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Convention is to calculate LCOE on a 20 basis. It is not common credit to give wind and solar credit for the years of almost free electricity they will produce after the 20 year period is over.

            It is expected practice to install solar over roofs with at least a 30 year life left.

            Inverters last 25 years or more. And aren’t hugely expensive like the sort of repair costs older reactor encounter.

            If someone does decide to remove a solar system after 25 years those panels need not be thrown away. They will have significant resale value.

            When wind turbines react the end of their lives the sale price of recycled materials covers removal and site restoration.

            Decommissioning and storage of radioactive materials for reactors is a major cost.

          • jeppen

            I prefer to calculate LCOE on the basis of commonly stated life time of plants. Inverters for solar are really costly compared to nuclear repairs, on a per kWh basis.

            Greens often make these claims of perpetual installations. On one hand, the costs will go down exponentially until nothing is left, while efficiencies increase to infinity. On the other hand, apparently, someone will be interested in reusing 25 year old worn solar panels or even the old wind towers and foundations (although you didn’t claim the latter). Something isn’t right with that. Just restoring the land (removing at least the top meter or two of the foundation) for wind is a major hassle.

            Decommissioning and storage of radioactive materials is no major cost. (But, as in all nuclear business, can be made arbitrarily expensive by regulatory agencies.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Inverters for solar are really costly compared to nuclear repairs, on a per kWh basis.”

            Oyster Creek, Crystal River and the two SONGS reactors have gone away because it would have cost too much to repair them.

            “Decommissioning and storage of radioactive materials is no major cost. (But, as in all nuclear business, can be made arbitrarily expensive by regulatory agencies.)”

            Sure, it would be cheap to decommission reactors if we simply walked away and let them rot in place.

            Nuclear would be a lot cheaper if we just eliminated all the safety/inspection stuff.

          • jeppen

            Everything is so simple and clear cut to you. Too expensive to repair – well, regulation adds a lot of costs, risks, license time limits and requirements that are not strictly necessary. The NRC lets silly organizations like “Friends of the Earth” hold up decisions and so on.

            Inverter breakdowns for solar still compare badly to four out of 100 nukes going out of business prematurely. The O&M costs you yourself found is telling that same tale.

            “Sure, it would be cheap to decommission reactors if we simply walked away and let them rot in place.”

            That comment is bad, even for you. Inspections, documentation, declassification limits and cleanup operations can all be done in a way that does not add appreciable safety, but manifolds the cost. This is commonly done.

            “Nuclear would be a lot cheaper if we just eliminated all the safety/inspection stuff.”

            Same here. Too bad you don’t know what you’re talking of.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, jeppen I know what I’m talking about. And you’re coming to us from fantasyland.

            You’re making cost claims for less than half of real world costs.

            You’re denying that nuclear gets subsidies that it clearly receives.

          • jeppen

            What can I say? No? Your comment does not further the discussion.

          • JimBouton

            “Decommissioning and storage of radioactive materials is no major cost.”

            jeppen, could we get your address?

            If it is no major cost, then can we store our 80,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel in your apartment? I’m assuming your landlord does not have any of those “arbitrarily expensive” regulations for uranium, curium, americium and plutonium-239.

            I assume you have a lease, too. We’ll need it to be around 500,000 years, give or take a few hundred thousand millennia.

          • jeppen

            This is very little material considering the amount of power produced, and burying it will keep it put. Have a look at the natural reactors of Oklo. No designed environment, but still the fission products have moved only a few decimeters (mostly downwards) in more than a billion years.

            Nuclear waste storage is perhaps this century’s (and the last) most overrated engineering problem. It is hardly a problem at all, except in politics. Consider the volumes – assuming a density of 10 (as uranium is at 20, but there is lighter cladding and such), there is only 8,000 cubic metres of it. Per person in the US, that is less than two tablespoons for a lot of pollution free power for 4 decades.

            If you want large volumes, have a look at input and output from coal plants.

          • JimBouton

            jeppen, you seem like a pretty smart fellow. And, determined. Not too many nuclear folks would have hung in as long as you have on a pro-green website. (I am a anti-vax type of guy, so when I start talking to pro-vax groups, well, it gets hostile pretty quick and that is on neutral ground.) You’ve maintained your composure fairly well. Plus, I enjoyed reading the responses.

            This might be one of the best threads to have read on a lot of issues of the future of energy, even though I think you have taken a beating by trying to pretty up even the most notorious warts of nuclear. To suggest that Japan does not have a calamity on their hands long term is just ludicrous. I work for a major computer company and we won’t even host any conferences over there anymore. Too many people simply refuse to attend. The perception of whether it is safe over there is still at an all time low.

            Any chance you had of convincing me that nuclear could be part of a future energy plan would have started with an approach that offered 1) more respect for the dangers of a reactor and its spent fuel and 2) the understanding that nuclear (best case) would be a niche power provider in the future for certain geographies with newer technologies down the road. Instead you went all “full monty” on us.

            You have not moved me even a centimeter closer to considering nuclear as a realistic option. (I, too, was a fanboy of nuclear when I was much younger and less worried about destroying the world for, at the time, my unborn son.) When you make statements like “5,000 nuclear reactors” and your unnerving lack of respect you have for the dangers of radiation, it is difficult to want to get anywhere near your vision.

            Bob expressed it best. The nuclear designers might build the most efficient nuclear reactor the world has ever seen, but it will take too long to get there and it will be too expensive. Plus, it might be designed to be perfectly safe if used properly, but as we have seen, corporations and governments have a bad record on following what “should be done.”

            But, keep fighting the fight. And, tell me how GMO crops will better our lives, too. I just love fairy tales late at night.

          • jeppen

            Jim, thanks for your kind words.

            “To suggest that Japan does not have a calamity on their hands long term is just ludicrous.”

            This depends on your perspective. The big problem lies not in the direct adverse effects of the radioisotopes. The big problem lies in perceptions and excessive political action. Now, we could just give up and say “this is how it has to be – nuclear will always be perceived as a magical threat and thus it can’t ever fly”. But I’m perhaps a bit to idealistic (and worried about coal) to accept that.

            “1) more respect for the dangers of a reactor and its spent fuel and 2) the understanding that nuclear (best case) would be a niche power provider”

            Perhaps I should have, but I don’t play games, I just tell the truth.

            “You have not moved me even a centimeter closer to considering nuclear as a realistic option.”

            I can only lead the horse to water, but I cannot force him to drink it.

            “I, too, was a fanboy of nuclear when I was much younger and less worried about destroying the world for, at the time, my unborn son.”

            AGW is threatening to destroy the world, and nuclear is the solution. Nuclear accidents to date does not indicate that nuclear power may “destroy the world”. Quite the opposite, actually.

            “When you make statements like “5,000 nuclear reactors””

            What’s the problem with that? It’s just a tenfold scaleup and not a very big deal. It would be less than a nuke per million people, and in my own Sweden, we have more than a nuke per million people (and we built them quickly).

            “unnerving lack of respect you have for the dangers of radiation”

            I have a science based level of respect for radiation. That might be unnerving for those who have media-based levels of respect for radiation, but think the science-based perspective should prevail.

            “Bob expressed it best. The nuclear designers might build the most efficient nuclear reactor the world has ever seen, but it will take too long to get there and it will be too expensive.”

            Perhaps I should be more charitable, but Bob is a troll who substitutes obnoxious repetition for depth of analysis. Current nuclear designs are good enough, cheaper and more scaleable than intermittent renewables and thus faster.

            “Plus, it might be designed to be perfectly safe if used properly,”

            It shouldn’t be perfectly safe. It should have a good balance between safety and economy. That’s the big problem – nuclear regarded as magical, fundamentally different, beast. It isn’t. It is an industry like any else, worth some accidents and having low average accident impact.

            “And, tell me how GMO crops will better our lives, too.”

            I’d love to, but that’d be off-topic. But other than that, thanks, I’ll try to keep on being a voice for reason in this world of unfortunate media logic and panics.

          • Thorsten

            bullshit, germany installed in the last few a maximum of 7gw solar a year – at a mean 2€ per wp this amounts to around 60-70 billion for the 30-35 gw that we have right now – therefore we have driven down costs now to 70cent/wp and this makes it beneficialy for households and commercial subsidiaries to produce at least a portion of their electricity on their own …

            wind generation is now real issue as feed-in tariffs are already low …

            btw. – germany is spending 30 billion each year on the bundeswehr and 0.7% of gdp for “entwicklungshilfe” – so you better do your homework and calculate by yourself if we are bankrupt – or if we have just taken the load to introduce new power generation like wind, biomass, solar into main stream markets – and have therefore a certain share in these markets …

            p.s.: germany exported (net !!!) more than 30twh (that means the baseload of more than 3 nuclear plants) in 2012 and also in 2013 – and we have lower power prices (generation) right now in germany also with respect to france – I think that’s a huge issue right now ….

            p.p.s.: irsching 5 is not offline – it’s contracted as a backup-plant until 2016 – and I assume that it will then substitute coal and nuclear plants that will be fading away until 2022 (when no nuclear power station wil be left …)

            last point : my last information about new built reactors from areva is – that costs for a 1.6gw amounts now to 8.5billion(finland) and that areva doesn’t comment anymore if they will be capable to finish the plant in 2017 (consent for the plant was achieved 2002 and it should have been online in 2009) – maybe you have no clue what would have been happend if someone tried to built such a plant in Germany – but imho you could have added easily another 10 years in Germany (due to public actions against such an effort) and therefore another 50-100% in building costs for such a plant – so for 200biilon you wouldn’t get much more 20gw – this is what Germany had more or less before we shut down 8 plants after Fukushima (12gw left right now) – but who would like to built plants for 20+ years ?

          • jeppen

            The investments into renewables in Germany can be seen here:

            Solar might be rational to install for consumers and companies, but it remains a major suboptimization given the unnecessarily high costs for grid electricity.

            Germany is clearly doing well economically, but you would have an even higher standard of living if you had new homes and new cars and more hands in health care, shools and so on instead of black stuff on your roofs and legions of professional roof climbers. The same goes for military – it’s mostly a waste of resources (until you really need it, of course). You could, as mentioned, have been rid of coal today if you had put you money into nuclear. You remain the black sheep of Europe.

            It is fairly silly to extrapolate even further delays and cost overruns from an already botched nuclear project. You have built nukes before and could build more of them. Having an irrational public opinion that you can’t seem to deal with is no excuse – quite the opposite.

          • eject

            You are overlooking the fact that nuclear power is not possible in Germany. It is a democracy. The only way to build and maintain nuclear power in Germany would be to invest in the military and have them protect the railway leading to the power plants and the plants itself.

            See Youtube here in 2010 (that is even before Fukushima, and Fukushima didn’t exactly calm the people down).

            Nuclear power in Germany would only work if you enforce it. I am not sure that this would make me feel like my living standard is improving. And as can be seen in the video the police is very careful and is using a lot less force then they normally do when they deal with events like this. Partly because politicians know that this could cost them their office. Partly because the Police reflects the public, there are police men who are not fond of having nuclear and most importantly because suppressing this violently would only escalate situation. They are removing the gravel below the rail lines. If they are violently stopped doing this they might resort to simply blow them up at night or fire bomb involved construction firms.

          • jeppen

            Firebombing construction firms. Sounds like a nice democracy.

          • So whenever undemocratical elements are resorting to violence, however few they are, the majority of the people should just resign and adapt to whatever their will is ?


          • eject

            that is not really what I was suggesting. But in the case of Germany with roughly 70% anti nuclear power you really have to consider that cracking down on it does not work.

          • Thorsten

            for the “grid” we have wind energy 😉

            with respect to the mentioned epr-project in finland I can’t see that the epr-project in flamanville is doing better. and if I take into account the edfs-aproach to build for 14billion pounds – then this is not better – and if you look at the requested feed-in-tariff especialy for this reactor then it is higher than the tariff for onshore-wind (in Germany for instance) and more than 3 times higher than current prices for electricity at the eex …

            btw. siemens has already exited it’s jointventure with areva – so there is no player in the nuclear arena left in Germany – and I don’t realy think that we should rebuilt our old Konvoi reactor series – which areva tries now to develop further as a low cost version of the epr, which they hope to sell to third-world countries ….

          • jeppen

            Well, Germany has taken a hit of 100 billion to get solar going, so I don’t get very upset that a few governments decide to waste single digit billions to get nuclear going again. Especially since it is the only plausible way to really get rid of fossils.

          • Grad

            World consumes about 17TW of power. We get about 170000TW from Sun and there’s also enough wind potential to cover world consumption demand multiple times over.

            If we wanted to use nuclear we’d need tens of thousands nuclear plants. Can you imagine how much waste would that produce? Not to mention huge costs and problems with supply of uranium.

            It’s much easier, cheaper and safer to go for renewables.

          • jeppen

            France’s and Germany’s examples prove otherwise.

            Also, to nitpick, the 17 TW is thermal and thus some 5000 nukes should suffice, up from today’s 400. We might eventually need to use breeders to resolve uranium availability if we scale that much.

          • Grad

            17TW is total energy consumption, including transportation. We get about 85% from fossil fuels today, and we do have to scale that much.

            It’s not possible to do it with nuclear, it doesn’t scale up that much. Uranium supply and waste problems become enormous. Breeder reactors are very expensive (and with that many reactors you STILL have a lot of very highly radioactive waste).

            Solar and wind can scale up much better and more we build the cheaper they get.

            If we connect whole world even storage is not needed (although I believe storage will come anyway).

            It would be very helpful if nuclear advocates would stop smashing renewables, because they’re not helping to solve the real problem, which is 17TW big.

          • Steve Grinwis

            jeppen won’t like that renewables work really well with electric vehicles though, since you can just program them to charge when it’s windy or sunny, and take advantage of electricity at a fraction of the cost of new nuclear, so he’ll conveniently ignore that bit.

          • jeppen

            I love everything that works. However, that electric vehicles would help much is another delusion. Too little and too inflexible, however much market share they have.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Oh, horseshit.

            We could move almost all drivers into EVs and PHEVs right now and cut our oil use by more than 80%.

            Battery prices are coming down, perhaps very rapidly. Once battery prices reach the sweet spot ICEVs will be on their way out.

          • jeppen

            As usual, you didn’t really read what wrote. Yes, EV and PHEV is the way to go (probably in autonomous taxi fleets, btw). Yes, it will cut oil use for transportation. But no, it won’t help renewables’ penetration much, and it won’t provide much needed storage. To little, too inflexible.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Actually EVs and PHEVs greatly assist the addition of renewables to the grid.

            On average an electric will need charging less than 3 hours per day on a 240 vac outlet. That makes electrics very valuable dispatchable loads.
            They can charge during wind/solar supply peaks and drop off when supply falls in relation to demand. They allow us to install much more wind/solar before we will need to add storage.

            (Yes, they could charge off late night unneeded nuclear, but nuclear is too expensive to consider.)

          • jeppen

            Still too little and too inflexible. You should check the math instead of gripping for straws.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Try again. I don’t think you understand how dispatchable loads work

          • jeppen

            Again, do the math. (I’ll quit the discussion soon due to upcoming time constraints, so I won’t do it for you this time.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do what math? Onshore wind tends to blow more at night. Peak demand is gone by 11pm or earlier. Doesn’t pick up until after the Sun is up.

            EVs create a market for nighttime wind. Increases profits, Brings more investments, Installs more turbines. Puts more cheap wind into peak hour supply.

            If the wind kicks up when a storm passes there’s someplace to put the extra power rather than curtailing.

            If there’s a drop in supply or big ramp up in demand EVs can drop out and not charge until things are back into balance.

            We can install more solar because we can send surplus supply to EVs. That increases the percentage of supply that can come from solar on the shoulder hours.

            This is valuable for grid management.

            One solution for avoiding storage costs is to overbuild capacity. EVs mean that the extra generation won’t need to be discarded (curtailed).

          • jeppen

            I don’t argue that there is no such effect. I’m arguing that it is small, i.e. EVs doesn’t need that much energy, and not that many will be willing or able to shift very much power, at the risk of not being able to take your car for a spin at a whim.

            Also, on the supply side, nighttime will have little solar and also wind lulls are often on the order of several days, which means charging has to be performed during lulls anyway.

            Then I think the future will have heavily utilized fleets of autonomous (self driving) taxis to replace much of car ownership. They will have to charge very often and cannot adjust to supply at all.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We will probably have EVs with at least 200 mile ranges before long. The average US driving day is 35 miles. That means that some drivers will be able to go for days without charging.

            Utilities will pay people to let them control charge times. At least pay them with much lower rates.

            People can set their comfort zone (50 mile minimum by 7am, 75 miles by 5am, whatever). Utilities can top when supply is high and charge only to minimum when supply is low.

            We don’t go long periods of time without the wind blowing and the Sun not shining.

          • jeppen

            This is assuming people are rich enough to get huge batteries with great ranges in pure EVs instead of going for hybrids, but poor enough to allow the charge level (and range) of those batteries to be dependent on the price of power.

            I wouldn’t agree that we don’t go long periods of time without the wind blowing and the sun not shining (much).

          • Bob_Wallace

            Renewables plus storage are cheaper than nuclear plus storage.

          • jeppen

            Yeah, keep saying stuff like that. It’s so fruitful.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Huge batteries are getting pretty cheap these days.

            I think it was Elon Musk who was predicting a $200 / kWh battery price by next year or the year after?

            And those cells are good for around 5250 cycles to 82% capacity?

            That means storage for a solar system based on those batteries (and thus excluding inverter costs since the solar system already has them) would be around $0.038 / kWh? And that’s assuming you don’t simply let the pack run itself down a bunch more.. Size your batter pack big enough, and it’ll last you 20 years! Also, remember that partial discharge gets you a bunch more cycles.

            Even with today prices, it should be around $375 / kWh of battery with storage being and $0.07 / kWh for batteries. that ain’t half bad. That’s only slightly more than I pay for the grid now.

            Nuclear reactors that take a decade to complete on the other hand are getting pretty expensive lately.

            That’s the basic bit you repeatedly fail to see / admit / grasp. Renewables are cheap, and getting cheaper every month. This is well documented, and the trend is clear. Nuclear is expensive, and getting more so. This is documented and the trind is clear. You keep nuclear saying could be cheaper… well.. it isn’t. But renewables are.

            If we can’t afford to go renewable, then we certainly can’t afford to go nuclear.

          • jeppen

            Solar is clearly more expensive than nuclear. I can understand that there is a debate regarding wind, but with solar, there is no question that it is still too expensive. $2/W * 7 for capacity factor is far more expensive than nuclear and yet with less life and more O&M expenses.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Solar is clearly more expensive than nuclear. ”

            Look, if you’re going to continue to lie you can do it elsewhere.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I’m glad I’ll have solar on my roof before the price of Natural gas skyrockets and hoses grid electricity prices.

          • jeppen

            Wow, yet another clever comeback.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, that’s putting you on notice.

          • jeppen

            So, you’re saying that you’re a (very bad, disrespectful, childish and biased) moderator in this forum? Then just go ahead and cut me off. That will surely make all your lies true.

          • Steve Grinwis

            According to my LCOE calculator, solar in my area would cost me $0.093 / kWh ($2 / watt, 4.2 hours of insolation, 5% financing 25 year amortisation)

            Oddly enough, the price for the power at the Hinkley C reactor is… $93 / MWh or $0.093 kWh.

            And for reference, this compares with wind contracts in the sub $0.05 / kWh range. Wind is definately cheaper than new nuclear.

            But don’t worry… next month, solar will be sub $2.00, and cheaper than the Hinkley reactor!

            Also, don’t forget that the solar array is going to survive at least some period past 25 years, giving years of free power. It may need a new inverter, which is relatively cheap if the panels are already up and running.

            On the other hand, there is a high liklyhood the Hinkley C will run over schedule and over budget, since virtually all nuclear plants in the western world do.

            Also, what’s your source that O&M expensive are more expensive for
            solar than nuclear? There is virtually no O&M costs associated
            with solar. You wash it down once or twice a year, depending on how
            dusty it is… No maintence to speak of really.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Pounds, not dollars. 16c/kWh for Hinkley.

            The Hinkley price is guaranteed for 35 years and will adjust upward with inflation. 35 years of 3% inflation makes the average cost per kWh 26.3 cents.

            When you calc your solar price that’s a fixed 9.3/whatever cents for the first 20 years of the system. And then falls to about zero. Even if you have to replace your inverter for the second 25 years.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Wow. I didn’t catch the conversion there. Just wow.

            So, lets see. Known price installed for solar is around $0.10, even in areas with limited sun, like Canada and Germany.

            And the latest reactor we know of that was priced is 60% more. That’s a lot worse than I thought.

            And that’s before the cost overruns. Ewww.

          • jeppen

            How would you calculate $0.10 for solar in Germany? Germany’s current FiT for large installations is 9.47 eurocents, or 13 usd-cents. (Yes, I know, this is equal to 5 bob-cents.)

            In the UK, nuclear power’s strike price is £92.50 for the first plant and £89.50 for the second. On-shore wind has £95 and large scale solar £120.

          • jeppen

            You compare high LCOE with a high strike price. It’s not the same. Hinkley is expected to give 10% return (while you use 5% interest for your panels) over 35 years and some contingencies is obviously included. But then it will keep producing power for 25 years, giving “years of free power” as you call it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The companies who might build Hinkley will have to borrow money.

            The UK is underwriting those loans which adds a penny in subsidy to the cost of electricity.

          • jeppen

            That’s one way to see it. However, these are one of these “subsidies” that does not cost anything (if the government doesn’t have to chip in of course), and should be seen as a compensation for the regulatory risk that the government itself impose on builders.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m sorry. Underwriting loans is accepting risk.

            Risk is calculable. Insurance companies do it all day long, every day.

          • jeppen

            I agree, but still it’s an average, and the average won’t happen. Either the insurance will have to pay out, or not. Either it costs the taxpayers a lot of money, or it costs nothing.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s bogus accounting.

          • Steve Grinwis

            To get a 10% return over 35 years, at the strike price mentioned at 90% capacity factor, you have to have capitol costs around $12 / watt.

            Given solar capacity factor of 17.5% (4.2 hours of sun / day),

            Solar would be $2 * 5.7 = $11.4

            Solar is looking pretty cheap still.

            And even there, it’s not really a fair comparison because that math assumes solar is getting 100% capacity factor to nuclear 90%.

            Edit: Also, don’t forget that in the next 8 years till these plants come online, solar will have gotten cheaper, and the nuclear plant will have gone over budget.

            But right now… we could build all the required solar to replace that nuclear plant in about a year, for less money.

          • jeppen

            Or the nuclear plants goes under budget. Solar doesn’t get that kind of capacity factor in Britain, AFAIK. Also, solar has shorter life span of installations. So no, solar doesn’t look good, and that’s why its UK strike price is higher.

          • Steve Grinwis

            The nuclear plant isn’t going to come in under budget. That’s a pipe dream and you know it.

            It does look like parts of Britain doesn’t get quite that capacity factor. It’s strike price is as high as it is to encourage investment in solar.

            You keep arguing that nuclear plants last longer… Just because you keep saying it, doesn’t make it true. So I’m going to call a big [Citation Needed] on that one. The solar panels are warranteed for 25 years, that is not their engineered lifetime, and we have lots of examples of panels working out just fine, 30 and 40 years later.

            Conversely, we have lots of example of nuclear plants (such as the one at San Ofre, a mammoth machine costing billions of dollars) failing to hit it’s engineer lifespan of 40 years.

            Yes, we use 20 or 25 years in our LCOE calculators… that doesn’t mean the panel doesn’t continue to last past that. So long as you don’t physically destroy the panel via hail (which BTW, you can get cheap insurance for), the panel will continue to degrade naturally at around .5% capacity per year, pretty much forever. 65-70 years is not unrealistic , though those power outputs will have obviously dropped significantly after such a long time. Conversely, nuclear plants internals are exposed to incredible stresses, thermally, mechnically, and are irradiated to such a point that the composition of the metal actually changes over time… As opposed to a rock that generates electricity when exposed to sunlight.

            According to the paper linked below, there is no end-of-life for solar. Just a continuous degradation of performance over time. This is on panels after being exposed after 20 years… Furthermore, these panels were crappier technology than we use now, and these were the panels that were stress tested prior to being used for the experiment, and higher than average failure rate was expected. Turns out.. rocks exposed to sunlight… last quite a while.

            I’ll leave the conclusion of that study here:

            “The results of this study indicate that current module design would guarantee 90% power after 20 years of life and moreover there is no visible evidence that this
            degradation rate is increasing with time i.e., we have
            no defined “end of life”only a continuous degradation, this is very positive for owners and users of such systems but may not be the ideal situation for manufacturers of photovoltaic systems. ”


          • jeppen

            The nuclear project may very well come in under budget. As far as I can see, they have highballed estimates by quite a lot. The main thing that favors your assumption that it will go over budget is the well known quixotic behaviour of the UK regulatory body.

            No part of the UK will get that capacity factor. And the nuclear strike price is also to encourage nuclear investments. We must conclude that to get solar and nuclear going in the UK, a higher price for solar is needed.

            Again, PV panels isn’t just rock, and its parts are subject to enormous stresses as well. For instance, have a look at this breakdown:

            It is unclear how long PV panels will really last, and it might differ enormously beween different manufacturers. Please read:

            Also, that some panels have withstood the test of time (often, I guess, in storage rather than at a roof), doesn’t say that much. Partly because we don’t know how large percentage has failed, partly because new panels aren’t made the same in all respects. The cost pressure is enormous and of course, corners are cut all the time.

            With regard to nuclear power longevity, it is well known that most US reactors have got license extensions to operate for 60 years, so the NRC evaluation has concluded that they will be able to do it safely. And new reactors are made to even higher standards, with a design life of 60 years that’ll probably easily extend to 80 years. This is an article from a very disgruntled guy fuming about these license extensions:

            Anyhow, extending the life of a solar panel beyond 25 years (or a nuke beyond 40 years) does almost nothing for its levelized cost of energy (LCOE). So this fight is fairly pointless anyhow, from a raw economic perspective.

          • Bob_Wallace

            jeppen, the panels reported have been in continuous use for their 30, 40 year lifespans.

            You’re getting deeper and deeper into denial land.

            Nuclear is expensive. Renewables have become cheap in comparison.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I realize it’s not just a rock, But it mind as well be compared to 10 billion dollar monostrosity that is a nuclear power plant. My point is that it is steady state electronics, with no moving parts. The only failure mechanism is if the seals leak. And it turns out… we’re pretty damned good at making seals. No corner cutting required.

            I mentioned it, because you keep throwing out that solar has a 25 year life, whereas nuclear has a now claimed 80 year lifespan according to you. Neither of those is true. Nuclear plants are going offline well before their time, just like San Ofre, and as the fleet ages, that’s going to keep happening.

            Also, generally, to get those licence extensions, they do massive overhauls. The steam generators for instance, have a nasty tendancy to corrode, so they have to be monitored very carefully, and once they get to far gone, they have to replace them, at an exceedingly high cost. That’s what put San Ofre out. I’ll note that those steam generators that corroded? They were only 2 years old. Billion dollar upgrade.. 2 year service life. That kind of stuff makes Nuclear pretty expensive.

            As for the panels, the study I linked, the panels were outside, generating power for 20 or 22 years… I forget which. During that period, no panels failed, and there was no indication the panels would fail… Each panel was then inspected, and they indicated that there was no end of life. That’s huge. That means that Germany’s investment in solar will continue to pay dividends for decades.

            You have presented no evidence whatsoever that panels won’t last for a very long time. You just keep saying 25 years like it means something. It doesn’t.

            Your LCOE number is flawed.. If the panels pay for themselves in 25 years, then, you take the LCOE for 25 years. Then you look at refreshing the plant, if required, and letting it rip for another 25 years. I’d guess that inverters would need to be replaced, somewhere around the 25 – 30 year mark. By then we’ll have cheaper and more efficient models, and the plant can continue to run for another 25 years, at a fraction of the cost. If you need to replace some panels that are under providing, that’s no big deal. By then, they’ll be sub $0.10 / watt. That’s when you start looking at solar providing power at what… $.02 / kWh? That plus cheap storage is a no brainer.

            As for the batteries… you asked why we aren’t building out battery storage.. The answer there is.. we are. We have two plants under contructions. A 10 MWh plant in the UK, and.. I think a 50 MWh plant in Japan?

            Also, either China or Germany has announced that they want to have storage equal to 2 hours of power on site at each wind farm location… So… we are building storage, it’s just still in it’s early stages.

            As for battery costs, see here:


            40% drop in EV battery prices between 2010 and 2012. You’ll note that I can now buy new batteries from GM for the Volt at sub $200 / kWh prices, although there is suspicion that they are selling at a loss. It’s still a pretty good sign of things to come.

          • jeppen

            “The only failure mechanism is if the seals leak.”

            I think you didn’t read the link I provided?

            “we’re pretty damned good at making seals. No corner cutting required.”

            That’s not very convincing.

            “That means that Germany’s investment in solar will continue to pay dividends for decades.”

            I’m sure of it, but the question is how much. How much will remain after 25 years? We can’t know this. Ever heard of the “fallacy of positive instances”, btw?

            “Nuclear plants are going offline well before their time, just like San Ofre,”

            Oh yes, and so are solar panels.

            “You just keep saying 25 years like it means something. It doesn’t.”

            I agree. It could be 20 on average. It could be 30. It could even be 40. But again, more than 25 for solar and 60 for nuclear doesn’t matter.

            “Your LCOE number is flawed..”

            You then talk about just letting the panels run for longer. But that shows you don’t understand LCOE and interest/discount. The net present value of the remaining life after 25 years, regardless of how long, is close to zero. Try it in your LCOE calculator with 5% interest and see for yourself!

            “By then, they’ll be sub $0.10 / watt.”

            Pure fantasy. Can’t extrapolate like that. (Also, pure panel cost is a minor part of total system costs even today, right?)

            “We have two plants under contructions.”

            We have also sent two drones to Mars. Humanity like exploring and performing impressive feats. That’s good, but it’s not about economics. Mass production is about economics.

            “40% drop in EV battery prices between 2010 and 2012.”

            You claimed 40% per year. Now you claim 40% in two years. And that is for EV battery packs, not for pure li-ion cells. Your graph shows consumer prices li-ion learning curve to be fairly flat in comparison. And we can’t extrapolate even that with certainty. We can hope the learning curve will keep working, but we might as well get stuck.

            I’m long term optimistic about batteries for EVs, but I don’t see them as a contender for large scale grid storage. Also, I think 80 EVs at 50 kWh is far better for the environment than 2h of storage at a 2 MW wind turbine that might easily stand almost still for days on end.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I did not remember the discount correctly. My bad. It’s still getting cheaper pretty quickly.

            Comparing pilot plants to mars drones is intellectually dishonest. If these plants are successful and profitable, then we have every expectation that their use will grow.

            As for the price of solar panels… Why is it a fantasy? 25 years ago, solar was $9 / watt for panels, it’s now $.9 or or less. Why should I not expect that in 25 years it will be $0.09? “The past is the best indicator of future performance”. And we’re only now starting to see gains from mass production. We’re still in the Model T days. We haven’t seen the Civic yet.

            As for panels being only a portion, that’s true, obviously. But the other components of the system are experiencing significant learning profiles as well. As standardization takes hold, permitting gets easier, installation and inverter costs will fall too. Germany has slipped under $2 / watt installed and is falling.

            As for batteries… It’s cute that you don’t think they’ll work for storage. Have a cite for that? Because I’ve got two plants under construction that expect to be profitable. And, as I’ve pointed out, battery costs are falling even if they aren’t quite as fast I remembered.

          • Grad

            Batteries are not big enough for very large grid scale storage.

            Power-to-gas (methane or hydrogen) is final solution for intermittency problem.

            However, there many intermediate steps before introduction of power-to-gas technology, such as coupling heat and electricity sector, getting the price of wind and solar low enough,…

          • Steve Grinwis

            Large scale power to gas would be cool, and it would let us use cheap excess hydro to provide hydrogen for our natural gas network. I think it’ll be a great way to use cheap excess wind and solar.

            But I take issue with your statement: “Batteries are not big enough”

            We have a pilot plant being planned at 60 MWh. How big do we have to be to qualify as big? I know Ontario would need something on the order of 30000 MWh to qualify. that would give us storage equal to about an hour of peak production, and would solve all our intermittancy issues. Assuming we can scale that battery plant up by a factor of 100 (We can trivially, since it’s a redox-flow system), we need about 5 6000 MWh plants, scattered around the province. It’s around 200 mill for the original system, but all we have to do to scale up is put bigger tanks in and fill them. This is the type of battery we’d be able to scale up pretty easily. I’d guess we could do this for around 20 billion (4 billion ea) especially once we get some experience building and installing them, roughly the cost for two Nukes.

          • Grad

            Germany has about 3-4 weeks per winter with low winds.

            It’s hard to imagine batteries could fill the gap. Amount of materials needed would be really enormous.

            The way I see it is that power-to-gas will have to be final solution. Gas turbines are very responsive (very good with renewables) and infrastructure is already in place.

            I think that above 70% of renewables penetration we’ll need power-to-gas technology. There’s still a long way to go, but we’ll need it eventually.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You don’t try to store that much power with batteries.

            Europe is moving toward a unified grid (read up on eHighway 2050). When Germany is low on wind someone else will have plenty wind, solar, hydro, whatever.

            There may be some need for thermal deep backup but it might make more sense (cost less) to do that with biogas rather than converting electricity to fuel. Municipal methane should be pretty affordable.

          • Grad

            It doesn’t work like that. Consider winter time. Northern Europe has most of wind, and if northern Europe is windless, then you have a problem.

            Alps and Scandinavia don’t have large enough reservoirs to power whole Europe for a week.

            Biogas can be stored, but it’s very small, even smaller than pumped hydro.

            It is essential to have storage for at least a week or two in winter time, there’s no way around it.

            Well, if we connect whole world then storage would not be needed, but that’s clearly not realistic within short timeframes.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Whatever the need for storage might be electricity -> H2 -> electricity is very inefficient.

            Inefficiency generally means high cost.

          • Grad

            That is true, and that’s why it cannot be used all the time, but only a couple of times a year.

            Round trip efficiency is about 30-38%, compared to 75% for pumped hydro. So not very good, but it can get the job done (it’s scalable).

          • Bob_Wallace

            It will come down to cost. I suspect methane from waste will price out better.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Hydrogen storage is too inefficient. You lose half the energy going from electricity to compressed hydrogen. Then you lose more going from H2 to electricity. Add in infrastructure costs.

            Batteries are scalable. Grid storage batteries are delivered in shipping container sized package ready to be plugged into the grid. Flow battery tanks can be huge.

          • Grad

            Methane can be better than hydrogen. Infrastructure is already in place.

            30-38% round trip efficiency, and about 50% if you also use heat.

            How do you know batteries are scalable so much? We’re talking TWh, which is really big amounts of energy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            As Steve says, use flow batteries and install as many big storage tanks as you wish.

            There’s also pump-up storage.

          • jeppen

            “If these plants are successful and profitable,”

            That’s a very big if.

            “25 years ago, solar was $9 / watt for panels, it’s now $.9 or or less. Why should I not expect that in 25 years it will be $0.09?”

            A learning curve predict that when production doubles, costs drop by some percentage (roughly 20% in this case). To achieve that drop in prices to a tenth, production has increased a 1000 times (roughly 100 MW to 100 GW).For it to drop to a tenth again, production will again have to increase a 1000-fold. That means 100 TW or so, and there is not enough demand for that, and also, production growth is slowing a lot now, so thousand-folding will obviously go slower, Also, learning curves sometimes shift into lower gear or even end altogether. It’s possible to run into fundamental barriers regarding materials requirements and so on.

            “As standardization takes hold, permitting gets easier, installation and inverter costs will fall too.”

            Yes, but not as dramatically. Since panel efficiencies (W/sq meter) doesn’t improve much, costs related to size don’t budge much, for instance: land, roads, fence, installation, stuff for mounting and so on.

            “It’s cute that you don’t think they’ll work for storage. Have a cite for that?”

            They’ll work from a technical perspective, of course. It just seems the economics doesn’t work out.

            “Because I’ve got two plants under construction that expect to be profitable.”

            Well, but it sounds unlikely. And if they are, I guess it will be very niche operations.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Efficiencies for solar are still climbing. Just the other day, they released news of organic cells with 30% higher efficiency… Something to do with not having to use florine… They also have plans to be able to split frequencies, and have different parts hit different cells that are turned for them…This has been demo’d to produce cells 50% more efficient than now… Even now, commercial cells are less than half the efficiencies of state of the art one-offs in labs.

            Here’s a look at how cells are progressing efficiency wise:


            As panels continue to get more efficient, installation costs drop as fewer panels are required to get the same number of watts.

          • jeppen

            Multi-junction and such – sure, I’ve read about them. But doing something in the lab is different from making it cheaper per W. Again, we can’t extrapolate, we’ll just have to see.

            I saw these breakthroughs on batteries many years ago – 10-folded capacity by growing lithium nanowires, for instance. I was really hyped then, kind of like you are now, at least for its EV applications. But now? It doesn’t seem to be able to progress from lab to mass production.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I think you might want to read up on Redux-flow batteries. They scale really well, because they pump ‘charged’ electrolyte through a reaction chamber, kind of like a fuel cell, but rechargable. You build a bigger tank, and you can hold more kWh, (albeit at the same peak power output). Not suitable for EV, but could be very handy for grid level storage.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Panel price (retail) is currently ~ $0.70/watt. The industry expects to be back to $0.50/watt within a couple of years. First Solar has said that they expect to be manufacturing for $0.30/watt by 2017. (Retail will be higher.)

            Ten cents a watt would seem to be a hard target to hit. Frame and cover costs aren’t likely to fall significantly.

            China is apparently already installing for $1/watt. Italy is at $1.33/watt. No subsidies.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Frame and cover costs will fall as efficiency climbs though, will they not?

            Perhaps $0.10 is a bit hard to hit, but I think installed price is going to get pretty cheap, pretty soon.

            Where are you finding panels for $0.70? Best I can find is $0.84

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, but it would take a doubling of efficiency to cut the aluminum/glass contribution in half.

            Average silicon prices 70c here. Min 56c.


            70c if you buy 20 here. 75c for a single.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Also: you do realize why they need such a massive return right? Nuclear is a risky business. In 30 years (after just 20 years of operation), renewables will be so cheap, that the plant will likely be forced out of business early, so they have to make their money now, and get out.

          • Bob_Wallace

            This Hinkley thing is probably the sweetest deal every purposed for a supplier.

            A guaranteed price (inflation adjusted) for every kWh produced for the next 35 years.

            The reactors can’t be pushed offline by cheaper sourcing. They will be given grid priority. Cheaper supply will be required to curtail.

            If the UK decides to stop using the power for any reason then the owners get paid off.

          • Steve Grinwis

            What idiot set up that deal?!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Someone high up in the UK government.

            Someone should contract with other European countries and offer the UK a 20 year PPA for power at 12 cents. Pull together southern European/North African solar, northern European wind, and Scandinavian or Icelandic hydro for fill in.

            They could lay some big wire on the ocean bottom much faster than reactors could get built.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Ya.. This seems like a horrible deal.

          • jeppen

            Someone who sees the North Sea gas dry up and is not willing to bet its country’s future on intermittent sources’ unproven ability to replace most baseload and peak power. Chicken bastards!

          • jeppen

            That’s pure conjecture.

          • jeffhre

            Ha Ha debate! Wind prices crushing solar!

          • JimBouton


            We can’t build a simple solar panel that will last 25 years, but we will soon be facing a zombie apocalypse of self-driving taxis?

            When can I expect my hover car?

          • jeppen

            I don’t know, but I think it will happen (self driving taxis, not hover cars). All the hassle with cars just seems irrational – driving, getting license, repairing, parking and parking fees, having parking spaces/garage space, buying, lending money to buy them, washing, filling them up and so on. More economical and convenient to just order the trip.

          • I see a probleme with this though. I have owned a couple of EV’s and the major concern of course is range.
            So what you do is that you’ll always keep your EV as charged as possible.

            I.e. you charge whenever you have the opportunity – not when it happens to be windy or sunny.
            Usually people drive to/from work and some othe activites with kids in weekdays. And they typically go shopping and have other activities during weekends.

            But you always want to charge as fast as possible if you need to go for a spin (or fetch your son from a firend, or drive your daughter to hospital or whatever…).

            So major recharges would be daytime (after going to wrok if there are outlets) and nighttime (when you come home).
            For wind that doesnt matter it always depend on the conditions so well need a base energy anyway, for sun the 1st is good, the 2nd bad.For nuclear/Hydro it doesnt matter whatsoever…

            But you could never rely on “smart” charging, maybe more so on statistical analysis of peoples habits…dont forget to have a sunny/windy day before a major soccer game tehn though, today thats when for instance the UK grid gets a very hard load… :/


          • Bob_Wallace

            EVs probably won’t always be so range limited. With 200 mile range EV people are going to be more flexible about the amount of charge they carry. Many will be comfortable with a 50 or 100 range minimum as long as they know they can grab a rapid top up if something unusual comes up.

          • Steve Grinwis

            If you are regularly using the full range of your EV, that makes sense. But if, for instance, I owned a Model S, I would only use a tiny fraction of it’s battery on any given day.

            That would allow me to use a significant portion of the battery capacity to help balance the grid.

            For instance, the Model S 85 KWh has a 400 km range. I only travel 60 km as part of my commute, so I would be very comfortable having my car charged to 200 km, and charging the rest of the battery opportunistically. It does tend to be windier at night. All it would take would be for it to be windy two nights a week, and I’d charge my car completely on cheap excess wind.

            And that’s being fairly conservative. I regularly leave home in my gasmobile with 100 km of range… I see no reason why I couldn’t do the same with my EV.

            Now, a Volt? I’d want that charged everynight. A Leaf? Not a whole lot of wiggle room there. But cars with more range are coming…

          • Bob_Wallace

            And the grid would likely pay you (in cheaper electricity) if you allowed them to control the time of charge.

            If you’re comfortable with a 200km range by 7am but have a 400km range then you can tell the grid that the top 200km is theirs to play with. As long as you have your minimum available on time.

            That way they can charge you during supply peaks and drop you off when other demand is sucking up the supply.

            They can look ahead at the weather and charge you to 400km with moderately priced electricity and avoid charging for a couple of days when the wind is going to be low and power more expensive.

            Dispatchable load. It has value. Utilities now pay some companies to supply it. During power crunches big users such as pulp mills get paid to shut down.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Exactly Bob. And if this is in widespread use across even 50% of the population, you have a large amout of dispatchable load on your hands. Have a really windy / sunny day? You have 42.5 kw/hr * millions of consumers to play with… ( 42.5 GWh / million cars)

          • jeppen

            (It’s still thermal, and electricity is worth three times as much in transportation and in other uses.)

            Nuclear easily scales that much. Uranium supply is no problem at all with breeders, and waste is still extremely, extremely little and compact with nuclear. You calculate how much uranium (and consequently, waste) you need for your lifetime energy needs!

            Solar and wind doesn’t scale like that, because of intermittence and costs. This is evident since if it could be done, it would be done, but isn’t.

            “If we connect whole world even storage is not needed”

            Won’t happen, too expansive and too much transmission losses.

            “It would be very helpful if nuclear advocates would stop smashing renewables”

            Problem is that renewables is an alibi for coal and hinders effective action, which is nuclear. If we ramped both nuclear and renewables to replace all fossils, and then continued ramping renewables and replacing nuclear, then it would be kind of ok (even though renewables kill more people). But we aren’t – we do nothing because “in a year or two, we’d all be mad if we don’t put solar on our roofs”.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear does not scale easily. We have limited acceptable sites.

          • jeppen

            Um? That was possibly the worst argument yet, as nuclear has so extremely low footprint. But I can guess that you consider very few sites acceptable? Like not within 10000 miles in any direction to any city or agricultural property and so on?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Cooling water. Need cooling water.

            Inland sites are challenged by heat waves and floods.

            China has decided to build no new inland nuclear. Only build at coastal sites and only in places that the local population can be quickly evacuated.

          • jeppen

            It has deferred construction of inland projects.

          • Grad

            I think you are grossly underestimating problems that come with scaling nuclear.

            It inevitably becomes more expensive. If you use conventional reactors then uranium becomes problem, if you use breeder reactors then reactors are very expensive.

            It will never be scaled more than a fraction of energy needs, it just can’t be done.

            Renewables are the opposite, they become more cheap when scaled. Solar has scaled only tiny bit and it’s already cost competitive in many areas. And resource is practically limitless.

            It makes much more sense to go for renewables.

          • jeppen

            Nuclear becomes cheaper when scaled. Learning effects, standardization and economies of scale applies to nuclear as to anything else. Breeder costs need not be higher than LWR costs, long term.

            Many renewable resources (not whale oil, though) are limitless, but intermittence limits solar and PV in practice.

          • Grad

            You can store excess energy in methane (via electrolysis of water) and then burn methane in gas turbines when there is no Sun and wind.

            Round trip efficiency is about 30-38%. This way you entirely eliminate intermittence problem.


            This is long term Germany plan (also Denmark).

            But to get there, several intermediate steps are needed. You can check some basic German insights about current situation here:

            Intermittence is a real problem (also depending on penetration), but it can be dealt with.

          • jeppen

            30-38% efficiency. Yes, sure, that can be done. But it will be quite costly.

          • Thorsten

            excess energy – here in the north of germany we have a very simple concept for that – we put small electric heaters into boilers and use the excess energy for heating purposes – if you say now that this is not economical think better twice …

            anyway this problem will get much more evolved when battery systems come up in cars and to a certain extent for residential housing and some commercial applications as backup for solar installations – some figures :

            1kwh li-cells is now available below $200/kwh (tesla $178/kwh) – bosch and others think that tey will be able to half this price until 2020 …
            that means we will see 10kwh systems for around 1000€ in the next decade – this is at least affordable for every household in germany that is also using a 10kwp solar plant (5000 €).
            calendar life of the cells is getting into the 10 year range – and cycles are already well above 6000 cycles …
            for cars this means that you can travel per day (two ways with intermiediate charging) – up to 150km with a 10kwh pack.
            germany has 40 mio households – and about the same number of cars – if only 25% would be equipped with at least one pack in a car or(!) in a household – and charging can take place at up to 3kw – then this means that this can generate a negative and controlable load of up to 30gw – evidently with mass distribution it will get into the 100gw range …
            I think it’s evident what the implications will be …

          • jeppen

            100 euro (at the factory gates) per kWh in 2020. And that would be used for 6000 cycles, at a cost of 1.7 euro cents per cycle and kWh. Not impossible, but not that attractive either. Today at least, I would sure as hell not let the grid use my car battery pack for dispatchable power, thereby decreasing its life and capacity.

          • Thorsten

            you must be kdding – 1.x cent per kwh added on top of 5-10 cent per kwh for solar power is 10-20% and less than half of what the consumer is aske to pay in europe …

            in geeral one can say that you pay this amount of money instead of fees for grid usage – if you compare this to grid fees than this is quite fair also …

            furtheron – the prices named have been acounted in usd …

          • jeppen

            Sorry, dollars, yes. But still, we’re not there yet. I think it is madness to go from rational central production and load following to inefficient home production and big battery banks. But I know this idea is better than sliced bread to many progressives who feel it will “democratize” power production and wrestle it out of the hands of greedy, evil corporate players.

            Just a word of caution – if we want to stay on grid, we’ll have to pay for the grid somehow. The solar pioneers can temporarily get out of paying (some of) their part, but if widespread, they will need to raise the fees for having a grid.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’ve been building nuclear for over 50 years. And the price has risen year after year after year.

            No learning curve that decreases the cost of nuclear has been discovered.
            Wind prices have fallen over 7x in the last 30 years and are still falling. Solar panel prices have dropped 100x in the last 30 years and are still falling.

          • jeppen

            Not true either, regarding nuclear costs.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Read some history jeppen.

            You live in a fantasy world.

          • jeppen

            I see the asian build prices, consider inflation and improved O&M features and life times. All in all, good progress.

            Could be better, but regulation killed innovation in the 70-ies, so now China will try to fill the void. You might be surprised with what they come up with in the coming decades.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I will be surprised if China doesn’t reduce its nuclear goal as it further increases its wind and solar goals.

            Remember, all those reactors under construction now were put into play before the bottom dropped out of wind and solar prices. What made sense a few years ago makes no sense in a greatly changed world.

          • jeppen

            Considering China is building nukes for $1-2/W, I’d be really surprised. I think it prefers to sell its solar and wind to foreigners.

            The price of solar power might go up, btw, if China decides to impose more stringent regulation on the chemical pollution of its PV factories.

          • Bob_Wallace

            China can’t build cheap nuclear outside of China.

            And lots of people don’t trust China’s in-country accounting. I suppose if your enamored of nuclear then you accept the word of the Chinese government.

          • jeppen

            Depending on regulatory regimes of recieving countries, the Chinese will likely be able to build cheaply outside of China.

            I don’t fully trust China’s accounting either, but OTOH I don’t see any big reason for them to publish bogus numbers. Also, it’s indisputable that they build on time, and since cost overruns usually go hand in hand with delays, this is an indication that they build cheaply.

          • Bob_Wallace

            China, along with France, are the bidders for the 16c/kWh Hinkley reactors.

          • jeppen

            I know. China bought into it because it sees profits and a way to build competence in exporting nuclear. It’s a good start.

          • Bob_Wallace

            China can’t build cheap nuclear in the UK. Accept reality.

          • Steve Grinwis

            If there is anything we’ve learned in all this, it’s that jeppen has an awesome imagination!

          • Bob_Wallace

            He’s a believer.

            He totally believes in nuclear energy and like climate change deniers he cannot accept anything that bothers his beliefs.

          • jeppen

            I still feel it’s a good start. Don’t you?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ll be a bit surprised if the deal doesn’t fall apart.

          • Zer0Sum

            This statement is false. China is moving towards LFTR technology. They will definitely be combining that with Concentrated Solar in the second phase. In addition Nuclear is the clear winner for space exploration where it will be built in space not here on earth once we get the robotics sorted.

            However the rest of Jeppen’s arguments are stupid. Clearly conventional Nuclear technology using Highly Toxic Uranium and Plutonium is on the way out for global energy supply and that is a good thing ™. The only reason for the rise of those technologies was to provide fuel for the nuclear military industrial complex.

            On the other hand next gen Nuclear Power is certainly not dying. India, Saudi, China, Pakistan and several other large population countries are ramping up, not down. They have various reasons to justify the expense but anything that requires fast breeders and is not Thorium based is purely for military purposes. The civilian use is just a thinly veiled cover. Iran would save themselves a lot of grief if they switched to Thorium but then they wouldn’t have strike capacity. Clearly they have learnt from Japan and North Korea and Libya that it is better for their ongoing security to have the fuel and technological know how than to give it away completely.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “This statement is false. China is moving towards LFTR technology. ”

            Which statement is false – that China is moving towards LFTR or something I posted?

            Is China researching LFTR? They seem to be.

            Would LFTR be cost competitive with renewables? That’s unknown and probably it won’t be. Nuclear in any form is nothing but a great big coal plant in which the coal firebox is replaced with some sort of nuclear reaction.

            You still need a big firebox. And a bunch of stuff to keep the fire from burning people. You need a big steam plant. And you need some way to move heat from the firebox to the steam turbine.

            Uranium/thorium/fusion – it’s all heat. And the cost of uranium is already low enough that further cost reductions could hardly drive the price down. $0.0075/kWh for fuel does not give one much help when what it needed is a $0.10/kWh move.

            Maybe you can same some money on eliminating some of the safety systems and backup generation, but cutting costs by 2/3rds is a big nut to crack.

          • Zer0Sum

            China will be able to export their next gen Nuclear technology cheaply if they choose to. They may even subsidise it completely if they can get other benefits like Agricultural or mineral resources in return.

            LFTR technology is substantially safer and much less toxic than the current Nuclear solutions. That will take out alot of the unaccounted for costs of Nuclear which is what most people are concerned about.

            However the Nuclear industry is rife with corruption so the liklihood that any nuclear project will end up cheap or even on budget is pretty low.

            Keep in mind though that corruption and the costs of building a plant are not major problems when it comes to the decision making process for building new power plants. Someone has to receive the money and the process of funds distribution provides lots of opportunity for kickbacks so politicians, construction mafia and Banksters like the potential that large scale Nuclear Projects provide for expanding their swiss bank accounts on sovereign debt. After all they won’t be around to deal with any unexpected meltdowns (like Fukushima) or will be rich enough that an ensuing debt crisis will not affect their retirement plans. They might shed a tear for their grand children but probably don’t care enough about them to stop themselves from raiding the till when the opportunity presents itself. They might even be able to justify that the wealth they gain for their family is a reasonable tradeoff.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Best I can determine the cost of building a new coal plant and a new nuclear plant aren’t too different. Coal plant might cost 2/3rds that of nuclear. Capex.

            Both take a lot of years to build and pile up a lot of interest. Finex.
            Like I said, there probably are some savings to be had from fewer safety systems, but if one looks at a coal plant, it’s like a safe nuclear plant.
            Where, exactly, is money going to be saved? Remember, it’s a great big savings that has to be found. A very, very big savings. Ones that would bring the price of electricity down by 2/3rds. Eliminating safety systems might bring the price down by 1/3rd, but that’s not enough.

            Electricity would still be twice the price of wind/solar.

            As for China exporting their cheap nuclear, they’re involved building the very expensive new UK nuclear (if it gets built). They certainly haven’t brought cheap to this project.

            I don’t know that China’s cost cutting measures would be transferable. Cant’ hire workers, technicians and engineers for Chinese salaries in Europe. Can’t require a subcontractor to produce on schedule or get shot.

          • Zer0Sum

            The Chinese have not subsidised the Hinkley project because the UK cannot provide any resources in return. Besides there is too much opportunity for graft and everyone involved wants the price to be as high as possible as that makes their 10- 30% kickback more valuable. Anyway, the UK is not a good example for building anything cheap. There are too many banksters there to lap up the lucrative govt credit and ongoing interest at the tax payers expense. Keep in mind that at the end of the day it’s not really paid for by the tax payer as it is just sovereign debt which is just money created out of thin air.

            The whole cost issue is a misnomer anyway. Large scale projects cost so much because of the institutional graft and inflated vendor pricings. If you are on the gravy train you aren’t complaining but the hourly rates some of the contractors are charging are ridiculous.

            The real debate should be about the ongoing energy costs. Once a LFTR is built the economies of scale resolve over the lifetime of the plant just like solar or wind and the environmental impact is minimal because they are so much safer. They can provide industrial scale baseload 24/7 with minimal ongoing costs and a near inexhaustible supply of fuel. In that regard they are not different to any other large scale project. The energy cost of the project resolves over the lifetime of the project or is net energy positive. Also while they are consuming large quantities of Thorium during the nuclear process it is an abundant element. If we are going to get hung up about that aspect then the sun is also a finite resource at the end of the day. They are clearly going to be useful for keeping industrial and economic growth targets while also minimising harmful environmental pollution and reducing our total carbon footprint if we are going to lift the poor people of the world up to a decent standard of living.

            Solar also has a real carbon foot print. It takes a heck of a lot of carbon to produce all the solar panels and a lot of that is being done with dirty coal in China so while we are converting carbon to PV we are still increasing the total global Carbon footprint in the short term.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Why should the Chinese subsidize UK power? The UK government is offering to subsidize the Chinese.

            The 16c/kWh Hinkley price is very much in line with the bid price for Ontario, Canada and San Antonio, Texas. When Turkey asked for a fixed price bid the cheapest they got was 21c/kWh.

            That’s what new nuclear costs.

            China can build a bit cheaper inside China because a lot of their costs are lower. I don’t think government review costs are charged to the project and I doubt they pay fair market price for land. Nor are financing costs included.

            Nuclear, of all flavors, does not provide 24/7 baseload power. It has to be backed up in order to fill in for the hours/days it is offline each year.

            The cost of renewables plus storage to make them 24/7/365 is less than the cost of nuclear, even without adding in its backup costs.

            The lifetime carbon footprint for wind, nuclear and solar is very similar. All three are sufficiently different from coal that any are a very acceptable alternative. Nuclear is a bit less than solar, but not very much.

            Thorium is the flavor of the day. But no one can explain how it would lower the cost of nuclear energy enough to make it competitive. Remember, the fuel cost for uranium fueled reactors is less than a penny. And the cost of nuclear electricity would need to come down at least a dime.

          • Zer0Sum

            It’s not really a matter of how much the fuel costs in terms of money. Uranium and plutonium is highly toxic and unstable which makes it a long term threat to the survival of the human race. Thorium is much safer and much easier to deal with. Plus it is massively abundant. Basically just dirt. It doesn’t require much effort to produce large quantities. It definitely requires less energy expenditure than Uranium and that makes it cost effective by comparison.

            Solar and wind also have supply issues which are at least equivalent to a LFTR plant. However neither of them can guarantee that when you need the power you are gonna get it for industrial scale processes. Unless you add on storage. At that point Thorium becomes an attractive alternative because it is stored energy in the first place, provides work for the construction industry which is good for local economy, allows greedy people to siphon off large quantities of cash relatively easily and also provides a solid supply of energy when for industry to tap.

            In this regard non polluting LFTR plants are a decent option for civilian energy supply. The only thing that has stopped the adoption up to now is the mad obsession with military dual use nuclear. Fukushima has made a lot of people reassess that attitude and it seems that Thoriums time has finally come at least in China. Hopefully India will follow that path too in their civilian nuclear program. It makes perfect rational sense as they have abundant supplies of Thorium and could become an export nation in that regard. Perhaps even exporting to China which is a lucrative market.

            However rational and sensible decisions are not the strong suit of the current crop of Indian politicians and business leaders. So far they have been much more concerned with military strength and lining their own pockets.

            I highly doubt that the Saudis will go with LFTR but maybe the Chinese can convince the Iranians it is worthwhile in exchange for oil resources. Burma might be convinced to but probably not Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You can’t argue that thorium will make nuclear affordable and the argue that fuel cost doesn’t matter.

            Safety is a separate issue and is not included in electricity price.

          • Steve Grinwis

            The problem there is that American made panels aren’t that far off the price of the Chinese ones.

            I can buy American panels at $1.10 / watt vs chinese panels at $0.85. That’s my price as well, not a mass installer who can surely get both cheaper. With inverter, installation, the prices aren’t that different.

            And I’d be more willing to bet the American panels have a 40 year lifespan as well.

          • jeppen

            That was interesting, didn’t know that. Thanks!

          • Thorsten

            come on – tell me just one breeder effort – that was even close to what you are trying to express here …
            the germans, the frenchies, the americans and the russians – all these guys are brain dead of course …

            intermittance is no problem at all – if you take a look at german power prices than it can also realy flatten peak loads – and put like this pricing pressure on peak load prices …
            that’s the main mechanism why in germany so many gas turbines are shutting down nowadays…

          • jeppen

            The russian BN reactor is ok for instance. But, you know, breeders needs economies of scale and learning effects too.

            Yeah, yeah, intermittence no problem at all. Sheesh.

          • Thorsten

            intermittance is no problem if the boundry conditions are valid (grid, grid codes, environment of loads).

            otherwise one could also argue that baseload power plants also pose a major problem because they can’t regulate output power according to the load conditions – something that the frenchies figure out nearly every summer(cooling), winter(eletric heating), when they are asking for flexible power production from german hardcoal and combined cycle gas plants …

            with repsect to russian tech I have a quite differentiated view as I had the chance to get some insight into russion “tech” in plants that these guys built up in eastern germany for instance …
            if you realy think that this can be a basis for a cost assumption for plants built in the western hemisphere – well – then this is your problem 😉

          • jeppen

            When we have to license all electricity (nuclear) generation tech from China, it will be our problem.

          • Thorsten

            well right now china i licensing wind power gensets from germany/europe 😉
            on the other hand I’m wondering why areva is still “alive” after all the cost overuns in finland and flamanville …
            and if you are reluctant to share tech with the chinese – than you should better take a look at arevas activities in china – and that hinkley point is now realized (or can it be only realized) with chinese backup …

            lastly : what is the benefit to the brits if everything with repect to the new nukes comes from outside the country and they just have to pay …

            when I look at offshore wind for instance – then the aggregate value added is much better for scotland and the rest of the uk …
            (that’s similar for spain, germany, denmark with respect to wind for instance and as long as german companies are producing machines for solar production and providing polysilicon and other parts this is also true here)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Areva is alive because it is the French government.

            Areva’s main shareholder is the French public-sector company, the CEA, which owns 78.9% (the CEA’s brief is similar to that of the US Department of Energy). Wiki

          • jeppen

            The benefit to the brits would be that it is serious, cheap, stable, long term power production in comparison to off-shore. This by far is more important than how it is sourced. But it would be nice if we didn’t just hand the chinese a walk over victory.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Notice that your heroes, the Chinese, can’t build cheap nuclear?

          • jeppen


          • Thorsten

            serious ? – you must be kidding …
            cheap – please tell me who gets fixed prices with inflation correctional measures for inflation over 35 years nowadays – starting at a level of 11 euro cent /kwh – I know comments from the remaining british industry – and they are “not amused” – to name it politely …
            stable – who . wants a “stable” plat – everybody (even lignite plants in germany from rwe) is trying to get gradients for power reduction/increase that ressemble to pumped storage or at least gas plants …
            the frenchies tried to do that with their nuclear plants and some german utilities also – it’s oviously not so “good” for the lietime of the fuel rods …
            long term – who wants to invest into a plant nowadays that takes 10+ years to plan and built and then has to run 60 years in order to be viable ??? if I take into account how fat other markets have changed and how fast the market for renewable enrgy is changing (price decrease of solar – upscaling of windturbines, price decrease in china for turbines, price decrease for storage systems like batteries 1000->200usd within some years, increase of cycle life from several hundreds to several thousands …) then I admire that windturbines regain the investment within their lifetime of 20 years …

            with regard to the chinese – I will be very glad if the silly trade war for solar comes to an end and solar goes down the same road that drams, flash, lcd and other semi products already did …

            and I will be glad if all the exported knowhow from germany (for example from vensys to goldwind) will get back in form of real machines that are technicaly at par with enercons machines but just have half the cost …
            if you fear china then you just fear that in th long run we will have a similar living standard…

          • jeppen

            Disagree about most, but we have been through it already I guess.

            Regarding China – I don’t fear them, and I certainly don’t fear having a similar living standard. The global economy is a win-win thing – we’ll be richer if the Chinese become richer. But it’s still not good for us to give them W.O. in this important industry.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You assume we would want to pay 3x more than necessary for electricity.
            I think not.

          • jeppen

            Now you’re just being silly again. Don’t you ever tire?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Anyone who thinks nuclear can be brought to the grid for under 15c/kWh is not operating in the real world.

            Not even the Chinese can do it.

          • Steve Grinwis

            First of all, it’s rather unfair to say we do nothing. All the electricity I purchase is a combination of solar / wind, and low-impact hydro. I pay a premium for this power, slightly, but I do it. Eventually I will switch to a grid tied solar array in my next house in a few years. I also go to great lengths to minimize hydro usage, which is the most cost effective means available to reduce CO2 emissions.

            Based on current prices which are projected to increase, solar in my area is cheaper and projected to decrease, over the 25 year life span than the grid, including financing without subsidies. In two years, installed costs are projected to fall another 40%.

            So, I’m already a nut for not having solar on my roof, but I’ll remedy that in a bit.

            But as solar continues to get cheaper we will see exponential growth just like in Australia. As solar continues to drop, batteries continue to drop, off-grid arrays are going to be common place.

          • jeppen

            Sounds great. Then we don’t need to argue about it – we can just sit back and watch it all unfold. (Strange then that Germany’s energiewende is so conservative. Only 35% RE in 2020, 50% in 2030. Slideware worse than reality? Also EIA prognosis doesn’t show any really impressive RE gains, and so on.)

          • JimBouton

            “even though renewables kill more people”

            And birds! Don’t forget about the birds!

          • jeppen

            I find the people killed to be more important.

          • JimBouton

            Now you are going to anger the PETA folks, too.

          • But how do you refine that solar power into useful energy ?
            Even with the best solar energy we have (including 10yr prognosis) the footprint is enourmous, even superseeds wind by magnitude of 100’s, we would need powerplants in areas bigger than the deserts to get the energy we need, and then we have the problems to transport that energy with low losses, not to mention the political problems discussed above!
            Nuclera fission and fusion is really about getting the mechanisms of the sun closer and skip the “middle man”. We are a lot better equipped now than 50 years ago, it is just dumb political desciions that stop development of various nuclear power i some countries…

          • Bob_Wallace

            First, I hope you realize that no one suggests a 100% solar powered grid.

            (Well, anti-renewable, pro-nuclear/fossil fuel people sometimes do when setting up their argument.)

            But what if we did use nothing but solar? Could we afford the land?

            Look at the small green rectangles on the world map below. Each shows the amount of land needed in each part of the world for a 100% solar grid.

            In the real world solar is likely that solar will produce a maximum of about 40% of our electricity, so make each of those rectangles about half their current size.

            Now we’re approaching the amount of area of rooftops. Add in some parking lots and some brownfields and other very low quality land. Or canopies over city highways. Or over the median strip of highways. Or over railroad tracks. Or on top of canals.

            I think you probably get my drift….

            Should we stop nuclear research? I don’t think so, research often yields very interesting and useful information aside for what one is looking for.

            I don’t think we should throw massive amounts of money at it.

            And I certainly don’t think we can afford to stop installing renewables and sit back hoping that some day someone will figure out how to make affordable electricity from nuclear energy.

          • In reality those are huge areas, albeit i take back my comment above about “more than the desert areas” – it edepends on a lot of factor of course though since the theoretical figures ar enever correct.

            Anyway, you are right of courese – it is NOT about one or the other – we need to have a mix.
            But in my opinion solar power is most likely to be uses for instance on roofs in cities, to power streetlights/billboards outdoors etc. We still need base power, and I see that coming from Nuclear/Hydropower (where available) – not enormous solar plants.

            Also keep in mind that solar is NOT 0% emissions – you need to produce the panels AND not least maintain them (clean, repair, replace)

            And it is al about cost and environment impact/produced KWH not installed


          • Bob_Wallace

            Wind, solar and nuclear all have very small lifetime carbon footprints. Nuclear is a bit lower than solar but not much and with increases in panel efficiency that amount shrinks.

            All three are so much lower than fossil fuels that their differences are insignificant.

            “Baseload” is a concept built on a grid supplied with generation that was hard to turn on and off – bit coal and nuclear plants. That’s a word getting less use as the grid moves to “supplying demand” thinking.

            There’s nothing that nuclear can do that renewables plus storage can’t do. The grid is going to use what is cheapest. Renewables and storage are cheaper than new nuclear and coal.

          • jeppen

            500,000 sq km = 500 billion sq meters. At $320/sq meter, the total cost would be $160 trillion. Plus storage and transmission.

            Equivalent nuclear at Chinese prices would cost some $32 trillion and occupy a space of 800 sq km. With considerably less storage and transmission.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Obviously we can’t use Chinese prices.

            The Chinese can’t even use their own prices once they cross their boarders.

          • jeppen

            How do you know? Depends on target country, I’d guess. And it’s also a matter of time – China is building capacity and experience in nuclear exports right now.

            They have just sold a pair of reactors, 2*1100 MW, to Pakistan for a total price tag of $9.6 billion. It is still far from Chinese prices, but $4.4/W beats the crap out of solar and wind.

            Pakistan, by the way, is aiming for 40 GW nuclear by 2050. That probably is unrealistic, but OTOH they will have a population in 2050 roughly the same size as the US has today, so they could make good use of 200 GW. Who knows what they can do with Chinese help?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Pakistan has very low cost labor.

            You did not include financing costs. Unlike wind and solar which come on line very quickly nuclear takes a long time to build and piles up mounds of financing costs.

            Using overnight costs for nuclear makes for a dishonest argument.

          • jeppen

            Not if you realize that intermittent power has large external costs when it comes to grids and balancing.


            Then there is the need for companies to install backup solutions when German electricity’s frequency fluctuations increase.

            Then we have the need for additional fast, inefficient and low-CF peaker plants.

            Combined, renewable externalities are far worse than governments guaranteeing nuclear projects and thereby lowering interest rates.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Supply and demand is constantly changing on grids. All generation needs backup.

            Renewables are actually easier and cheaper to integrate according to ERCOT.
            Luckily we seem to be making good progress with battery technology which will make regulation easier, cheaper, and take fossil fuels out of that role.

            (You do realize that grids have to be ready at all time for a nuclear reactor or two to go offline without warning? That is some serious backup need.)

          • jeppen

            We’ve been through this, but I guess you try to fool the audience? Everybody knows that grids needs to be upgraded and extended to handle intermittent power. Everybody knows more backup needs to be added (if excess peakers isn’t available already for some reason).

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, grids don’t need to be strengthened or extended to include renewables. You misunderstand.

            If we install wind in places where transmission isn’t present then we have to build transmission. That’s no different than adding any other generator. If we found an acceptable place to build a reactor that wasn’t adjacent to existing transmission we’d have to spend money to hook it up.
            More and more solar is being “distributed”. When solar is installed on rooftops it actually takes strain off the grid because it lowers demand.
            And we don’t need to add more backup or fill-in. Until wind/solar get to at least 30% of the grid supply.

            You continue to ignore the fact that nuclear requires backup and fill-in. In fact, backing up and filling in for nuclear is more difficult for grid operators than dealing with wind/solar.

          • jeppen

            “No, grids don’t need to be strengthened or extended to include renewables.”

            Sure, sure. We just see news about this all the time.

            “If we install wind in places where transmission isn’t present then we have to build transmission.”

            That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about connecting distant wind farms and integrating countries more. And, mind you, the capacity of these power lines need to be doubled for wind compared to “old stuff”, or even more for solar, since wind have very high peaks compared to average production.

            “And we don’t need to add more backup or fill-in. Until wind/solar get to at least 30% of the grid supply.”


            “You continue to ignore the fact that nuclear requires backup and fill-in.”

            Nope, I just point out that it is far less. Anyone who has seen a wind generation graph next to a nuclear generation graph for a country understands this. For instance, in Sweden, which is a reasonably large country, nuclear and wind varies around their respective averages like this during a year:

            Anyone who thinks it’s easier to deal with the wind in the picture above should have his head examined.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Take it up with ERCOT. They have real world experience.

          • jeppen

            So no comment regarding the graph and how wind is easier to balance?

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, because in the real world grids are dealing with the variability of wind just fine.

            Work up the same year long plot for people getting up in the morning and going to bed at night and you’ll see a lot of peaks and valleys. In fact, a lot more. One set per day.

            You’ve just picked a graph that compresses the time line and makes the changes look quite abrupt when, in fact, they are fairly gradual and very predictable.

            Imagine if you were running a grid when all of a sudden the two North Anna reactors went off line (earthquake), or the two SONGS reactors went off line (power surge), or the four Fukushima reactors went off line (you know…).

          • jeppen

            Consumption and nuclear both changes more rapidly than wind, yes. But wind and solar is a lot more extreme in the magnitude of variations. This should be obvious from the graph.

            This is two different problems. Wind’s problem is handled reasonably well in current grids at low penetrations. At high penetrations, it’s a killer.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Actually it’s not clear that wind is a lot more extreme in magnitude of variation. It’s running often in the 1:2 to 1:3 range quite similar to off-peak:peak demand.

            I think we should have gone through this wind/nuclear thing often enough for it to start to sink in, but let’s give it one more go.

            Yes, wind is variable. At higher penetration we will need some combination of storage, load-shifting and dispatchable generation to deal with the variability.

            Nuclear also has a problem at higher penetration. Since nuclear cannot (economically) load follow then storage or load-shifting is needed to deal with its over production during low demand periods.

            Either can be added to most grids at low penetration since most grids already have a certain amount of flexibility.*

            Perhaps you should print that out and refer to it you again find yourself getting concerned about high wind penetration and forgetting about nuclear’s problem.

            *The obvious exception is France. They have a very non-flexible grid and must depend on neighboring countries to deal with their demand variability issues.

          • jeppen

            “Actually it’s not clear that wind is a lot more extreme in magnitude of variation.”

            Please print out the graph I gave you. Whenever you think wind is not a LOT more extreme in magnitude of variations, you can have a swift look at that graph, do a facepalm, shout “d-oh” and then try to forget again.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I looked at it full screen. And my monitor is easily three times the size of a printed page.

            Out in December there are some pretty big spikes, but they are the exception.

            Thanks for your concern….

          • jeppen

            Are you kidding me? The graph shows variation with wind is routinely shifting between 20% and 250% of average throughout the year. Nuclear 60% to 140%. Nobody in their right mind could see that graph and argue that the amount of storage and peaker plants would be the same.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I didn’t say that the storage needs for wind and nuclear would be the same. I said that at higher penetration both need storage. The amount of storage would depend on local conditions.

            Remember, if nuclear is at high penetration, installed on top of other ‘always on’ generation that already covers off-peak demand, you’ve got to carry the full output of the reactor into high demand hours.

            Adding storage to the already high cost of nuclear makes it even more unaffordable.

          • jeppen

            Ah, “would depend on local conditions”? You constantly weasel out like that. Just say something fuzzy, argue that “nuclear also needs” and pretend that there is no real difference. But ok, we won’t get any further.

          • Grad

            Spain got to 26% of solar and wind in 2013, so your claim that there is insurmountable barrier has already been demonstrated to be false.

            That does of course do not mean that they won’t need better integration above 30%. They surely will, but pumped hydro, biogas, solar thermal and demand-response opens possibility for significant progress to get to 50% and beyond.

            Of course, the same goes for other countries (Germany, Portugal, Denmark).

          • jeppen

            Do you have a link that proves this 26% for wind+solar in 2013? It seems they were at 18+3=21% in 2012. To add 5 percentage points is not impossible but sounds a bit high.

            But still, I haven’t said 26% would be impossible. I think any penetration is technically possible, it’s just increasingly economically irrational.

            I said like 10 years ago that I hope a few countries will try really high wind penetrations rapidly and either succeed (which would be great) or fail and thus let us get on with rational energy (i.e. nuclear). To my mind, they did, and wind growth fizzled (failed) in pioneer countries.

            However, it didn’t help, because just as wind failed, solar surfaced as the new straw to grip for for greens who didn’t want to admit nuclear is necessary. So now I hope a few countries will try wind + solar rapidly, and push in more subsidies. We need the matter resolved, we need real-world facts. So I’m happy if Spain really tries.

          • Grad

            Here’s link:

            Wind 21.1%
            Solar PV and thermal 4.9%

            That’s 26%. Together with other renewables was about 42%. This reduced coal consumption (which accounted only 14%).

            “wind growth fizzled (failed) in pioneer countries”
            Actually in 2013 in Germany, UK and Denmark wind installations ramped up.

            However, Spain and Portugal have other problems (recession), which are not due to renewables.

            ” I think any penetration is technically possible, it’s just increasingly economically irrational.”
            If wind and solar are cheap enough, then it is economical. Getting wind and solar to become competitive is a big step forward.

            Also you have to remember that 86% of world energy consumption comes from fossil fuels. Wind and solar are still very tiny, we have a long way to go to get to 30%, which is demonstrated to be feasible.

          • jeppen

            That’s great progress for Spain, even more impressive considering the bad economy. I’m noting that PV hardly moved in sunny Spain, though.

          • Grad

            So you plan to build nuclear fusion reactor that is as big as the Sun?

            Wouldn’t you think that it would be simpler just to collect energy from the Sun?

          • Ehh – the day we need the whole amount of energy emitted from the sun we probably have colonized at least a couple of hundred solar systems…
            The trick is that fusion and fission is so very powerful that you do not need large facilities !
            A sugarcube sized uranium pellet has enough energy to power 200 homes for a year…and that is with our ridicoulusly aged Fission technology we used today that was developed more than 60 years ago !

            To power 1 single home for a year you would need around 5000-10000 square meters of solar panels (assuming 10-20% efficiency and 8h sunny weather each day) !

            Thus I think a much better option is to develop fission and fusion and use solar and wind as complements, for instance on house roofs etc – I do not really see those as alternatives for large scale electric power generation – and indeed the last years we have seen countries who scales down on scaling up on fossil (own or imported) and keeping the same increase as before on solar/wind (such as germany)…


          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear is too expensive.

            If someone can build a new nuclear plant and sell electricity at a competitive price then we can consider adding more to our grids. But right now nuclear costs 2x to 3x the price of wind/solar.

          • In China they are expanding all energy sources available. Their new Nuclear plants are at around $2615/kW (installed), $0.07/kwh (produced) with more optimistic outlooks for the future once they get more plants into production.

            I saw figures for germany quoting as low as $2008/kw (installed-of course production is only a fraction of this calculating efficiency and solar-hours) for Solar PV systems there recently and around $0.08-0.10/kwh (produced – calculated for the US).

            So I may buy that costs are almost the same (not 2-3 times higher though) – but it comes down to other things as well, for instance distribution and lack of space in populated areas (once rooftops are covered we still need 100x more panels as to my earlier calculations above where we need about 10000 sqm to power a house) – which requires more investment in grids and also then lacks the benefits of “small sized powerplants”

            Again: Yes to solar and wind – but I still dont foresee this to be a major contributor and definately not a base which we can rely on for low energy prices and stable production…


          • Bob_Wallace

            Double check those China reactor prices. I think you’ll find them “overnight” costs. They do not include financing costs which greatly drive up the cost of nuclear.

            The UK is installing solar for under $1,600/kW. Italy for $1,300/kW. China for $1,000/kW.

            US prices seem to be dipping below $2,000/kW (utility scale). Solar is currently selling in the US for $0.05/kWh.

            Nuclear has a “space” problem. It needs cooling water. Inland is becoming problematic with more frequent heat waves and floods. Coastal areas are limited by the population density along our coast and a frequently encountered NIMBY resistance.

            We know that if you hook wind farms spread over a couple hundred miles or so to the same grid then ~35% of their total output becomes “baseload”. It’s available 85% of the time like a coal plant would be.

            Nuclear plants were “on” 84% of the time in 2011. Nuclear plants were no more “baseload” than would be some wind farms spread over a modest area.
            If we add some storage we can suck up the other 65% from the wind farms, feed it back and end up with wind being just as reliable as coal or nuclear. Think about clipping off the peaks and using them to fill in the valleys, ending up with nice, smooth power flows.

            Your lights don’t care if the electricity coming to them is straight from the source or has been stored away for a while.

          • Grad

            “To power 1 single home for a year you would need around 5000-10000 square meters of solar panels”

            An elephant size pile of crap! Zero-energy houses and plus-energy houses are popping out across Europe and they only use efficient materials and rooftop solar.

            So much about 5000-10000 sqm of panels for a single house. Pure rubbish!

            “The trick is that fusion and fission is so very powerful that you do not need large facilities !”
            Sun is very powerful, why not just collect huge amounts of energy that it releases? It’s much easier to use solar panels than to build complicated, dangerous and expensive nuclear reactors on Earth, which leave huge amounts of extremely dangerous radioactive waste behind them.

            Solar and wind potential on Earth vastly exceeds nuclear, I don’t know why would we even bother to build nuclear.

          • Yes Grad – Why do companies and governments in countries where politics doesnt dominate by economy and energy needs are the driver go for nuclear indeed ?
            It could maybe be because it is actually a competitive energy form !

            Is it reallly much easier to harvest electric energy from a solar panel – really ?
            Yes we have a lot of safeguards in place in a nucelar reactor, especially the ancient ones that are most commonly used today – but splitting atoms and generating electricity from steam is no longer at the edge of science…

            Making efficient solar panels requires front edge technology, some less nice substances (for some types) like GaAs, and somewhere to make them with a good
            Of course once solar panels have been manufactured you will only need to put them up, make sure to keep them clean and exchange them every 25 years or so…oh and make sure that your grid can support the fluctuations…and have some form of storage or backup power of course for when the sun isn’t shining,..

            And bringing 0-energy houses (we build them in sweden too) is another story altoghether – using such houses would mean less amounts of energy needed per house – regardless of type. But saving on energy is not the issue – having plentiful of cheap, reliable and clean energy is what we need in the future to keep progress.
            One vision is that almost everything is recycled (we cant use metals and raw materials forever and dumping “garbage” in piles) – so just add a loit of energy and we should be able to efficiently recycle most of what we use with very little effort….
            Another, more national, view is that countries not investing in energy will be less competitive – even with more efficieny we would like to have access to more energy, especially if we want to progress from the fossil burning era !

          • Grad

            “Making efficient solar panels requires front edge technology, some less nice substances (for some types) like GaAs”
            Nuclear reactor produces about 5x more radioactive waste per kWh of energy, compared to solar panels that use hazardous materials (which not all use).

            So if you come up with hazardous materials, nuclear is much worse.

            “even with more efficieny we would like to have access to more energy, especially if we want to progress from the fossil burning era”
            Nuclear cannot provide that energy. There is not enough uranium out there, and nuclear waste would become even bigger problem. Not to mention costs.

            On the other hand, we get about 170000TW of energy from the Sun (world consumption is at the moment 17TW). If we collect only tiny fraction of that energy we can power the world multiple times over.

            It’s not possible to do that with nuclear. Just think about the numbers. We’d need tens of thousands of nuclear reactors, if we wanted to increase world energy consumption a couple of times. It’s just no feasible. Renewables are the only way we can do that.

          • Grad

            Also, consider connecting world into supergrid, with superconductors.


            No transmission losses, 24/7 solar energy, this is the biggest energy oportunity we have on this planet. I think we should go for it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Klas, 25 years is the warranty some manufacturers give their panels. It is not the expected lifespan. We don’t how long panels last, the oldest ones installed are now 40 and outputing about 80% of their original power.
            We do have a lot of safeguards in place for nuclear plants. And they work most of the time. Of course all those safeguards cost money and help make nuclear energy expensive.

            Luckily we’ve been clever enough to learn how to make cheaper electricity with wind and solar.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “To power 1 single home for a year you would need around 5000-10000 square meters of solar panels (assuming 10-20% efficiency and 8h sunny weather each day) !”

            Let’s see how that works. How about a house in the not so sunny NE of the US? Remember the US uses more electricity per household than most countries. Fair enough?

            “the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S.residential utility customer was 11,280 kWh”


            30.9 kWh per day on average.

            The NE gets an average of 4.2 “solar hours” per day.

            That would take a 7.4kW solar array. Let’s go big to cover any inverter loss, squirrels running across the panels and call it 8kW.

            Just grabbing a solar panel at random – Sharp 250 watt. 15.3% efficiency.

            250 watts 17.5 square feet
            32 panels 560 square feet

            For people who don’t recall how large the king’s foot was –

            52 square meters

          • @Bob: I took the data from a pro-solar energy page – thus did not double check the figures since I assume that the are overly positive if anything…

            However regarding your figures: Homes may use different amounts of power. Houses here in sweden use in the range from 9000 – 30000 kwh/yr in average – there are of course “0 energy” houses that only consume around 4000-5000 kwh/yr as well (for appliances etc), but heating is very much an isse here – but around 11-12 mWh for an avg US home seems reasonable.

            32x250w = 8000W x 4.2h = 33600 wh = 33.6kWh/day x 365

            Hmm, my calculations must have gone wrong somewhere.
            I calculated (with the need of 54 kWh/day) 100 m^2 returning 480 wh/day.

            So then if 100 m^2->0.54 kWh/d => 10000 m^2->54 kWh/d

            But clearly the error is in the assumption that 100m2 gives 480wh/d – I cannot retrace where I saw that figure though.

            Although to be fair you cannot assume that the solar panel would be operating at full efficience giving 250w for 4.2 h every day ?

            I have her a refernce to a calculator from a Finnish electrical company operating here in Sweden, they offer a solar panel kit for theri cusomres (unfortunately it is in swedish, so goolge translate may come in handy :):

            Their largets package comes in at 30 sqm, 4,5 Kw panels generating a calculated 3600 kWh (in the middle of sweden with a flat roof). Thus to cover 15 000 kWh you would need 150 sqm of panels, if the calculations is correct – plus of course a backup system if its not sunny, speecially if you use a lot of energy for heating since its dark when its needed the most.
            Unsubsidied this would cost me 107000 SEK ($15300) without subsidies, thus, assuming 20 years without major new investents, giving around $0.21/kWh

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Although to be fair you cannot assume that the solar panel would be operating at full efficience giving 250w for 4.2 h every day ?”

            4.2 hours is the average per day over a year. It is not a daily minimum.
            And before you go off on to “but how about the days the Sun doesn’t shine”, no one suggests a 100% solar grid. The grid needs to be a mixture of as many renewable technlogies as possible and well need storage, load-shifting and dispatchable generation to produce electricity when people want it.
            I would suggest that trying to be off the grid using only solar in Sweden would not be a wise thing to attempt. I would also remind you that the world is a great big place – some places are sunny, some windy, some have a lot of hydro – and we can tie them together over large areas with transmission.

          • Steve Grinwis

            And Japan is taking a 500 billion hit for going nuclear. I think Germany one here.

          • jeppen

            500 billion? Yeah, I guess big lies are better than small ones.

          • Steve Grinwis

            The 500 billion includes the loss of the land within 20 km of the reactor.. which is kind of a big chunk.

            Now, you think they should just go live in the irradiated exclusion zone, despite the experts at the WHO thinking that this is a terrible idea. But you know, we can’t let public health get in the way of your nuclear ambitions.

            It also includes the as yet unknown cost to decommission the reactor. Tepco has already said they are going to need 130 billion or something like that, and that’s only for immediate costs. If Chernobyl is any indication, the costs will continue to escalate for decades.

          • jeppen

            500 billion for loss of land with less than 100,000 permanent evacuees? So 5e11/1e5 = 5e6. Five million dollars per capita, or 20 million for a family of four? Seriously?

            “despite the experts at the WHO thinking that this is a terrible idea”

            The exclusion zone isn’t all the same. And WHO is hardly as categorical as you pretend them to be.

            We’ll see where the costs end up. As usual, they are politically determined. How much money and effort does the incumbent politicians need to devote to make it look good?

          • Thorsten

            well for these 100 billions (efgfectively these are “just” a few 10 billion and much of the work was done in gemany – which makes the calculation a little bit more elaborated when it comes to economoics 101) germany was capable to brin down costs for feed in tarriffs into an below the 10 cent/kwh mark – this is below what the brits are willing to pay for electricity form the nuclear plants, that they want to built …
            furtheron there is another side effect – in germany the prices for generation of electricity from solar and wind are below wholesale prices from utilities – therefore it’s the first time in history that the end consumer can step up and decide if he wishes to generate his electrictiy on his own more economicaly than buying from utilities …
            this is a biest of marketforce – and german utilities know that – from the 600twh consumption 140twh belong to households and more than another 100-200twh belong to commerce and small companies …
            in conjunction with upcoming battery systems – which will replace imho in the next decade short rangemobilty (more than 80% of the rides in germany are shorter than 100km per day) it’s quite easy to see what is coming up there …
            the discussion here ressembles to the question in the seventies if workstations/personal computers will be capable to fight back the dominant mainframe concept at this time …
            give the people the opportunity to do so – and you can’t put the genie back into the bottle – that’s what Germany paid for with respect to wind energy and solar in the past two decades – and now wind is getting cheaper than gas and coal and solar is getting unbeatable for household and commercial applications (even in Germany) – the price we paid is mainly for the state of the art tech that allows us now to have production prices nearly one magnitude below the initial costs …
            and if you say this price is too high – well – subsidies for german nuclear tech have cumulated over the past decades to more than 200billion – and they are still rising because the state has to pay partialy for the breakdown of old plants (lubmin, rheinsfeld, several smaller r&d reactors) and mining (wismut) – ony this amounted since runification to several 10 billion …
            and if you think this is different somewhere else – well then take a look at the up to 100billion pound that the brits are going to pay for getting rid of their old plants and the mess at sellafield …

          • jeppen

            One thing that you don’t seem to consider. It is commonly argued that solar is pushing down wholesale prices, but at the same time, solar at home is claimed to be cheaper than wholesale.

            In reality, if hourly dynamic pricing is used, and 5% solar pushes prices low already, what will 15% solar do? Electricity prices will be really low when solar produce at its best, and high otherwise. When that is so, how can anyone save money by installing yet another solar array, when you can buy the power for nothing?

            The same problem applies to wind. These intermittent generation types destroy their own spot prices, and this puts a fairly low economic limit to their unsubsidised penetration.

            Nuclear subsidies calculations are usually bogus, btw. Won’t go into details here, but anyway.

          • Thorsten

            “In reality, if hourly dynamic pricing is used, and 5% solar pushes
            prices low already, what will 15% solar do? Electricity prices will be
            really low when solar produce at its best, and high otherwise. When that
            is so, how can anyone save money by installing yet another solar array,
            when you can buy the power for nothing?”

            well, as reality shows at the eex – the fluctuations in pricing that you describe are evidently not the case – take a look at the eex – the main reason is that there is so much fossile power waiting out there to kick in -> merit order) that this just doesn’t happen …

            the “power for nothing” argument seems to me a hen – egg -problem – if there wouldn’t be renewables – then pricing for fossiles would be high – if you put some pressure on these plants – for instance by solar or wind – then pricing will go down …
            furtheron there is also another effect – as I pointed out nuclear production (uk for instance) is getting more expensive than wind and also coal with carbon capture is in germany only possible when power rices are around 10 cent/kwh – so wind for 6-9 cent/kwh is putting a ceiling into this market place for new built plants – that’s at least on of the reasons imho why so many companies in germany stopped their projects to built new coal plants …

          • jeppen

            “the main reason is that there is so much fossile power waiting out there to kick in -> merit order) that this just doesn’t happen …”

            This doesn’t make sense. Solar would push out such generation.

            “hen – egg -problem”

            Not really. Just the more intermittent power you push in, the less money you can make by pushing in more, since the new intermittent installations work in tandem with the installed base. The same problem you always have, but concentrated.

          • Thorsten

            “This doesn’t make sense. Solar would push out such generation.”

            well this makes sense …

            when you have a depreciated old plant – and mainenance costs can be earned by sporadicaly operating above operating costs – then many old plants will remain out there – this is the reason for instance why mothballing or even closing down coal plants with lifetimes over 40 years in germany takes so much time right now …

            for new-built plants it’s somehow the similar – they still have to earn the deprecation or the owners will have to take the losses anyway – what will happen – if electricity prices are above cashcosts – these plants kick in and compete …

            this is what happens …

            just plants that can’t earn even o&m-costs anymore will close down completely or will be mothballed for a longer period …

            the latter happened for instance to a some new highly efficient combined cycle gas plants like irsching 5 from eon. anyway for a minor amount of money (20 mio per annum I think per annum – taken from the net operating fees) this plant 860mw) is now backing up the grid …

            that’s quite fair for both sides – the utility will earn a certain amount for the write-down of the plant and maintenance and for the net it assures gird stability – for the severaal 100 hours the plant is on the net per year operating costs are not the main issue …

            the more intermittent power you push in, the less money you can make by
            pushing in more, since the new intermittent installations work in tandem
            with the installed base. The same problem you always have

            in tandem doesn’t mean

            “Not really. Just the more intermittent power you push in, the less money
            you can make by pushing in more, since the new intermittent
            installations work in tandem with the installed base. The same problem
            you always have, but concentrated.”

            well if they work in tandem this is not the case – because if you have a combined cycle plant you have cheap invest costs but don’t use it for 8000+ hours a year …
            furtheron I already pointed out that the way wind and solar produces energy fits very well – tkae a look at the eex transparency website – there everything is well documented – nearly realtime – to the task to flatten the daily load in germany – peaks during daytime are flattened by solar – higher demand in the winter is leveraged by stronger wind and therefore higher production of wind enery – right now therfore mainly the baseload plants (nuclear – 12 gw, lignite 17gw) are producing in germany without much support from combined cycle plants (1gw of 15gw is mainly producing right now) – and hardcoal (single digit gw rnage – 25gw installed – 7-8gw new-built coming online in 2013-2016)
            quite easy to understand imho, why power prices are low in germany and why we realy don’t need to built any new nuclear or coal plants over the next decade …

            to push things further – the lignite baseload plants – are getting quite flexible (and I wouldn’t assume that the new built plants will go offline in the next two decades) – so that we could easily double or triple wind/solar so that we could get rid of the old nuclear plants until 2022 and just reamin with 13gw lignite and a certain amount of combined cycle and hardcoal plants for backup – electricity pricing will stay low as coal prices are pushed down by fracking in thes states and we just have to use the gas plants from time to time (in tandem as you said)

            lastly – offshore wind in germany will grow 10-20gw and will deliver 4-5000 full load hours – no difference to a coal plant here with respect to intermittance …

            the aspect of upcoming battery I have already mentioned above …

            that’s the concept – and we can afford it …

            and as you can see in china – they can do it also – check for turbine and solar pricing – also check the pricing for feed in there and you might be surprised 😉

          • jeppen

            Solar and wind flattening the demand curve, sure, but that will change as penetration increase. What I said holds true – a tech that has 11% capacity factor and work in tandem will destroy its own spot price very easily.

            Not to be disrespectful, but your comments could be more to the point. It’s a little bit of tl;dr.

            Offshore wind is intermittent, coal is not. No difference with respect to capacity factor, you mean. But that’s not at all the same.

          • Thorsten

            “What I said holds true – a tech that has 11% capacity factor and work in tandem will destroy its own spot price very easily.”

            to the point:

            – the assumption that solar (wind is right now getting here in the range of 30-60%) has a capacity factor of 11% is getting totaly irrelevant if you have grids and storage or if you have an outlook that this will be the case …

            – the fancy thing about the EEG is that you have no spot price for renewables 😉 – so you are only pushing spot prices for _old_ fossile and nuclear plants …

          • jeppen

            Spot prices for windy days in Denmark, for instance, is
            quite depressed. This means that wind in Denmark fetch a substantially worse price than the average. This effect is noticable even for Swedish wind, even though we have a far lower penetration. We also have plenty “grids and storage” in the form of hydro resources.

            This effect is more pronounced for solar, since solar has less than half the capacity factor (i.e. less than half the penetration will suffice to depress the spot price of electricity as much).

            When the spot prices you can fetch (or avoid) by building your own PV array are increasingly lower, the gain of doing so is increasingly lower.

            You comment suggest that you do not understand this, so I hope this helps.

          • Grad

            It is true that wind and solar lower prices and that they undermine their own profits.

            That’s why we have to fundamentally change the way electricity market operates.

          • jeppen

            Aka “subsidize the hell out of renewables”.

          • Grad


            What is needed is market system that is not based on marginal costs.

          • jeppen

            Aka “subsidize the hell out of renewables”. Sorry, but this is what it will amount to. The market deals with marginal costs. If it doesn’t it isn’t a market system but a system of subsidies and regulations.

          • Grad

            Rubbish. Fossil fuel and nuclear market design deals with marginal costs, not renewables. Renewables need new kind of market mechanisms.

            Capacity markets will come, I think it will be very soon, before 2020.

          • jeppen

            Well, we have to agree to disagree on markets and subsidies.

          • Thorsten

            well, what you don’t understand is that this assumption is only valid in a marketplace with power gens that are very unflexible like nukes and liginite – otherwise everything is quite fine …

            additionaly you didn’t get my point obviously : the industry in germany is quite happy that renwable energy is depressing the prices for fossil fuels and nuclear power …
            for the renewables prcing is fixed and doesn’t bother the industry (as they are exempted) – for the others it realy doesn’t matter as taxes and additional surcharges for these customers are alread very high – so in relation to that it’s neglible …

          • jeppen

            I know for a fact that this is untrue. In Sweden we have plenty hydro and not that high wind penetration, but wind still fetch a worse than average spot price.

            Perhaps Germans are happy about it, but 200 billion euro wasted by 80 million people is 2500 euro per person, or 10,000 euro per family of four. Of course Germans are rich enough to handle that, but I wouldn’t call it negligible.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You continue to use inaccurate numbers when that has been pointed out to you.

            Please stick to facts if you wish to engage in discussions here.

          • jeppen

            I have proven that 200 billion euro figure with a reference, and all I got back was that someone didn’t accept numbers from the mafia.

            Grow up!

          • Thorsten

            “Offshore wind is intermittent, coal is not. No difference with respect
            to capacity factor, you mean. But that’s not at all the same.”

            well, from an engineering point of view the question boils down to :
            is this “intermittance” with increasing capacity factors, better load management, different load conditions, adapted grids relevant in my system ?
            if you take the boundry conditions that I mentioned you will end up with no …

            if you finaly complain that there will for a certain period of time a fraction of combined cacle plants – o.k. that’s up to you – but then you have also to explain how you managed before to adapt the limited capabilities of nuclear plants to the real demand 😉

          • jeppen

            Nuclear is far more stable. If you add one stochastic variable (demand) to another unrelated stochastic variable (intermittent supply) you will have worse variation. I.e. load followers (peaker plants) will see a far greater range of power demand.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Not at all. Reactors go off line without warning. Reactors break down and never return to the grid. That is a major disruption much more serious than the daily rise and setting of the Sun.

          • jeppen

            I’m sorry you didn’t understand this either. It’s really simple – let me give you an example:

            In Sweden we have 10 reactors and we’ve AFAIK never had worse than 60% delivery from them during winter, when the power is needed the most in Sweden. This means that some 5 GW is always covered. Now, if we were to replace our nuclear generation with the same amount of average wind, then our hydro would have to match the full demand. It wouldn’t be able to rely on these 5 GW always-on baseload power.

            This means our hydro would need to have more turbines and to be allowed to flood the rivers more severely, harming the river ecosystems more and jeopardizing buildings along the river banks.

            We would also have a similar, but less severe, problem at peak wind generation. It would cover more than we need, so hydro would need to be shut entirely, which would have the rivers kind of dry, which is not good either. And it wouldn’t be sufficient, we’d have to try to max out on export lines and probably still have to ask some wind producers to shut down.

          • Grad

            You have huge thermal storage in winter. Just store excess electricity as heat, which you need it anway.

          • jeppen

            Heat is a pretty bad use of electricity, I would say. Also, it will only fix the lesser problem of excess, not with shortfall, unless you build systems that can store a lot of heat for very long durations, which would be expensive and have losses.

          • Grad

            Shortfalls are covered with biogas and power-to-gas technology.

            Gas infrastructure is already in place, also gas turbines. What is needed is cheap wind and solar excess power to produce power-to-gas.

            But cheap wind and solar is well underway, it’s already competitive in lots of places.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you didn’t already have nuclear reactors and needed to build new generation then it would be cheaper to use renewables and storage.

          • jeppen

            Fact remains – peaker plants see a wider range of demand with wind than with nuclear. I hope you understand that now. Hopefully, but probably not, you understand that this wider range translates into a significant cost.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s not clear. Something has to fill in for peak hour demand that nuclear can’t deliver.

          • jeppen

            Yes, but a nuclear fleet of appreciable size always deliver 50%+. Wind does not, and that means peakers sometimes has to fill in BOTH both peak hour demand AND that 50% that wind doesn’t guarantee.

            I really explained this clearly before, with my Swedish example. Many times now, I have had the impression that you read and respond too quickly to have time to understand the reasoning of your counterpart.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, nuclear does not always deliver at least 50%. SoCal lost both its reactors at the same time due to a grid surge.

            Wind delivers at least 85% of the time when wind farms spread over a hundred miles or so are connected to the grid in the US.

            The capex for NG generation is low. It’s all about fuel prices.

          • jeppen

            I said “appreciable size” and two reactors are not that. Think more like 10, as in my Swedish example.

            Yes, wind delivers SOMETHING 85% of the time if connected like that. But how much then? Not 50% of average. And what about the 15% of the time? Then, as I said, other generation has to cover the full range.

          • Bob_Wallace

            35% of average. 85% of the time.

            Nuclear does not produce 100% of the time. In 2011 nuclear had a 84% CF in the US.

            All generation needs backup and fill in.

          • jeppen

            “Nuclear does not produce 100% of the time. In 2011 nuclear had a 84% CF in the US.”

            Do you interpret that as if all US nukes stood still for the same 16% of the calendar year? Of course they didn’t! .

            So widely connected wind produce at least 35% of average 85% of the time.

            I say an appreciable nuclear fleet produce at least 50% 100% of the time.

            The difference translates to wind needing much more storage and a number of additional peaker plants.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s still the case that you have to provide for the portion of baseload (or any generation) that nuclear is down.

            If you were able to approach the problem from a neutral position you would be able to see that a grid that gets X% of its power from a 15c source is going to be more expensive than a grid that gets X% of its power from a 5c source.

          • Steve Grinwis

            So, you cheaply overbuild wind and solar, and then use relatively cheap storage. Fill it when it’s sunny or windy. Drain it when it’s not. Place the storage at the wind farms to use existing transmission lines / inverters.

            You then build cheap, but expensive to run natural gas plants to bridge the gap durning those times that there isn’t enough wind + sun + storage + hydro available. It’s ok to occasionally curtail your wind plants. It’s not going to happen all that often that. Eventually, as storage gets cheaper, you build out days worth of storage into the grid, such that you can have a really crappy week generationally, and not need to fire up your natural gas generators.

            With enough geographically spready out wind, wind can provide a ‘virtual baseload’ of about 18% of capacity factor. I’ll try and dig up that study. It’s never calm everywhere, and even in the dreariest day, solar still generates some power. It’s not all or nothing like you make it seem. It’s about 18% to 100%, and both extremes are very rare.

          • Bob_Wallace

            35% of capacity. 85% of the time (the CF of a coal plant).


          • Steve Grinwis

            That’s far better than I remembered. Thanks for the link!

          • jeppen

            So if capacity factor is 40%, then virtual baseload would be 0.18*40 = 7.2%? If you can find the study, I’m interested, but if my interpretation is correct, that’s not that impressive.

            I see your point and acknowledge that it is technically feasible, but can’t agree that it would be cheap. We need to pay the solar/wind, overbuild their capacities, add more long haul transmission capacity, large-scale storage solutions and backup nat-gas peakers. It’s a lot of stuff, and to me, it isn’t cheap.

            But let’s assume it is cheap and what’s cheap generally becomes reality. So would you agree that in that case, Germany’s plans to 2050 is far too conservative and slow? I mean, given 25 years of life time for installations and more than a fifth of the job already done, Germany should be done in 20 years from now, or in 2033, even if it doesn’t rush? It should integrate some 4% new renewables per year to achieve a 100% RE steady state. The whole world should, actually. But it doesn’t. So what’s holding us up?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Remember. You’re starting with 15+c nuclear and 5c wind/solar.

            Both need full backup. Both need storage.

            In general it’s cheaper to overbuild wind/storage and throw some away because they are cheap.

            It’s not cheap to throw away nuclear or to load-follow with nuclear because you’re starting with very expensive electricity.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Well… yes, technically it’s 7.2 of nameplate capacity.

            But it’s 18% of electricity produced from that source. i.e, If you produced all of your electricity via wind, 18% of it would be reliable enough to be considered baseload.

            Now, you don’t need all your power to be baseload. I don’t know about where you are, but baseload requirements are around 50% of total generation here. The rest is peak.

            So, we can rely on wind to provide a fairly significant amount of our baseload. It’s not all or nothing like you were suggesting, and wind can actually supply a pretty significant chunk of our baseload.

            Now, with regards to overbuilding… Once again, I don’t know about Sweden, but Ontario overbuilds a significant portion anyways. Ontario’s highest ever usage was around 28 GW peak, but we have 36 GW installed capacity. So, why couldn’t we do exactly the same thing with solar and wind? Except, instead of shuttering the plants when we’ve got enough juice, we produce the power, and throw it in storage.

            We’d probably need a bit more of an overbuild, but wind is so cheap, it’s not that big of a deal.

            Also not considered in the study on power, is that solar and wind complement each other to a large extent. When it’s not windy, it tends to be a nice clear sky and sunny during the day. And when it’s not sunny, it tends to be windy. You get more sun during the summer, and more wind during the winter.

            So, an appropriate overbuild mix, should be pretty cost effective.

            Why are we not all rolling out solar and wind right now? Well.. to be honest… we are starting to.. a large portion of new plant installed are renewable in Ontario (70%?), and I think the same applies to the states as well. 5% of Ontario’s power is being produced by wind as I type this. That was not true just a little while ago. We’re rolling out more and more plants, and closing our coal plants.

            Don’t forget, it’s only been the last few years that wind and solar have been as cost effective as they are now.

            Solar is growing at 60% year over year over the last 4 years. Wind is growing at 20% year over year over the same period. Each year, more and more capacity is coming online. This exponential growth in inevitably level off somewhere, but if it keeps going for a couple of more years, it’ll dominate grids.

            Brazil and Australia have had renewable explosions once renewable energy started being cheaper than grid prices. Australia has scaled from 4% renewables in 2006 to 14% in 2012. Granted, that’s not 4% per year, but it’s not insignificant. That includes a significant replacing of the 4% that was already installed in Australia.

            Brazil has gone from 0% wind penetration to 4% wind penetration in 4 years.

            You have to understand though, that we’re only at the cusp. We’re at the top of the roller coaster, staring down that first drop. Just last year, solar couldn’t compete with the grid in my location. Now it’s cheaper. It’s not much cheaper, but it is. What happens when the payback period for a solar array drops from 25 years to 15? 10? 5? What happens when you can install a solar array and have it cost 30% of what you were paying in Hydro? Mass adoption by the people, that’s what. This is what happened in Australia. Solar arrays installed by the people have scuppered peak demand, and the utilities now have generation and transmission capacity that isn’t being used any more. This makes the grid that much more expensive. And as solar gets cheaper, and the grid gets more expensive, that payback period from before is dropping. As fossil fuel prices rise, solar arrays drop in price. At some point, the cost disparity will be so great (and even is already) that renewables will be winning every bid for generation capacity. In Brazil, because storage isn’t quite cost competitive yet, they actually had to create a separate auction for baseload power that wind wasn’t allowed in. That’s how effective renewables are once they are cost competitive. Literally, nothing else is competitive.

          • jeppen

            Let’s assume 33% capacity factor and N GW average demand. Then you need 3N GW nameplate wind to be able to use 0.18N as baseload power, right?

            Now, baseload demand is 0.5N and maximum wind production is perhaps 80% of nameplate or 2.4N. So how much of wind production does not match demand and needs to be stored and re-dispatched? An big fraction. And I don’t share your view that storage is cheap. At available pumped hydro sites, it is, but not otherwise.

            Overbuilding peaker plants means you plan to fetch really good spot-prices. Overbuilding wind means that you add marginal generation that will fetch close to zero spot price. It doesn’t matter how cheap it is if you can’t get paid for it.

            Solar going below grid parity usually depends on avoiding taxes levied on central generation and avoiding variable grid infrastructure fees. These factors may change as politicians and grid operators have to protect the existing infrastructure. To make households install solar that cover more than a small fraction of their own demand requires net metering, which is basically a beggar-thy-neighbor scheme. And again, when double-digit solar is in place already, adding more would be to try to avoid paying close-to-zero spot-prices.

            So again, to me, intermittent sources might be competitive at low penetrations, but have a number of barriers to high penetrations, of which the most fundamental is the low spot price that incumbent intermittent sources create during high-production periods. Other barriers include the external costs including upgrading grid infrastructure and providing more of those very-low-capacity factor peaker plants.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Somewhere in this mess of comments, I showed that next year, we anticipate $200 / kWh battery prices, with a 5250 cycle life. That works out to $0.038 / kWh batteries prices. And that is to 82% capacity. In reality, I think you’d want the battery to run down to closer to 50 capacity before replacing the battery bank. So, battery storage would be cheap, around $0.02 / kWh. Even with current prices at around $0.065 ( for $375 / kWh batteries), + $0.04 / kWh wind, that’s pretty cost competitive peak generation capability already. And both wind and batteries are set to get cheaper over the next few years, with battery prices dropping 40% per year right now. Like I said, top of the roller coaster. Pretty soon, battery storage will be ubiquitous.

            In Ontario, we already have these very low capacity factor natural gas peaker plants. I suspect most places do, but I could be wrong on that. In any case, they are cheap and easy to build. So we should be able to safely add a large amount of wind and solar, and use the existing peaker plants. We don’t have to build a brand new grid from the ground up. We can leverage what we have existing. As we add more wind and solar, the amount these peaker plants runs diminishes. You are also ignoring three things in your analysis. That solar will complement wind to increase ‘virtual baseload’ above 18%, that we can use existing hydro resources to supplement baseload, and that we can always curtail plants on super windy days if we need to. Also realize that the number of days that will happen is pretty low. It’s a pretty tight cluster of values around the mean that we end up, with a long tail down to 18%, and up to 80% ( if 80% is the real number on a geographically distributed grid, I suspect it’s much lower, probably around 50%). We don’t have to take all generation all the time if it’s not convenient. In Ontario, baseload is not a problem at all. We have something like 20% of our generation in Hydro already as baseload…. So, wind doesn’t have to cover all baseload, I was just pointing out that it can contribute. That’s all. In Ontario here, we can use wind as baseload, and reduce it’s output when wind and solar and hydro combined are too great, building up reservoirs for when the water is needed.

            This is doable. It does rely on solar and wind continuing to get cheaper to make it cost effective, but that’s a no brainer at this point. They’ve both been dropping in price consistently for decades.

            As storage gets cheaper, we can add more and more renewable cost competitively.

            Economics will drive us in the right direction.

            As for solar going below grid… It’s gone below the price at the plug for me here. But i’m in Canada, land of the lonely sun. That’s with a really crappy solar resource. In places like Texas, or California, or Australia it’s actually poised to go below true grid price, I believe. Or is pretty close to it. Actually, I think there is a plant in Spain that is competing on the open market, without subsidies. So.. Once again… Top of the roller coaster.

            Also: Avoiding grid fees seems like a good thing to me… I personally will be slapping up a solar array on my roof and cutting myself off the grid in a few years. I’ll be moving house first though.

          • jeppen

            “That works out to $0.038 / kWh batteries prices.”

            But that’s in bulk out the factory door, right? Then you add distribution, installation, insurance, O&M, taxes, profits, financing costs, floor space, roundtrip losses and more. Also, can we produce enough lithium?

            I would agree that nothing would change the world like a really good, cheap battery. But I won’t believe we have one before I can buy it.

            “Even with current prices at around $0.065 ( for $375 / kWh batteries), + $0.04 / kWh wind, that’s pretty cost competitive peak generation capability already.”

            But it doesn’t happen, so it isn’t cost competitive.

            “with battery prices dropping 40% per year right now”

            They are? Sounds incredible – do you have a link to support that?

            “In Ontario, we already have these very low capacity factor natural gas peaker plants.”

            If replacing baseload with intermittent power, you need a lot more of them, unless you already had irrational amounts of overbuild.

            “They’ve both been dropping in price consistently for decades.”

            Not really true for wind. Please see:

            Wind turbines have great economies of scale and learning effects have optimized them a lot. To make them even cheaper will be challenging and the price curve prognoses I’ve seen are fairly flat.

            Solar should improve in time, but they still have a long way to go, considering the solar installations costs as much as wind per Wp, but have half the capacity factor or less.

            “Top of the roller coaster.”

            Sure, but the question is more like where the bottom is.

            “Avoiding grid fees seems like a good thing to me…”

            But someone has to pay for the grid for it to exist, so if all try to beggar-thy-neighbor by avoiding grid fees, what will happen? Grid fees will simply rise until you pay as much again. (Not if you go off-grid, of course, but on-gridders will have to pay.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wind/solar is ~5c/kWh.

            Nuclear is > 15c/kWh.

            Storage is 5 to 10c/kWh.

            Wind/solar and nuclear all need storage.

            Use math.

          • Thorsten

            unrelated (i.e means more specific uncorrelated )stochastic processes …

            this assumption is totaly wrong – there is evidently a hig correlation between demand and solar power generation over the period of a day or with regard to higher consumption for cooling purposes in summer.

            there are furtheron process correlation also for wind …

            so your model assumption are wrong and therefor the conclusion.

          • jeppen

            Yes, there is some correlation, but correlation doesn’t cut it. Load followers will still see a greater range of power demand with intermittent sources, because sometimes, low intermittent production and high demand will happen at the same time.

          • Grad

            And it is very cheap to provide reliable supply in those rare hours.

          • jeppen

            Well, you’d have to have that extra capacity on standby and use it at very low capacity factors. I’m not sure I would call it “very cheap”, but everything is relative, I guess.

          • Grad

            It costs about 35-70million per GW per year, for operating <200hours at windless november evenings.

            Read insight number 5:


            It's not expensive and it can be done.

          • jeppen

            Good reference.

            20 GW to 2020 at up to 70 million/year. That’s 1.4 billion/year to support perhaps 100 TWh of intermittent power? Is that somewhat correct? If so it’s 1.4 euro cents per kWh it supports. It’s not that expensive, but I would hesitate to call it “very cheap”.

          • Steve Grinwis

            This list suggests that Nuclear will remain horribly expensive, as even with the number of safety improvements in reactor operation and design, there have been dozens of minor accidents costing billions.


          • jeppen

            This is not big stuff in the grand scheme of things. 60 trillion kilowatt hours nuclear power since Chernobyl…

          • jeffhre

            It is true that if Germany had more gas and diesel burning cars – that they would need more hands in health care.

      • heinbloed

        Your number is inflated, it was 20 billion Euros last year
        of which only a fraction went into direct RE support.

        And less the year before and less the year before that year and so on.
        This support includes science, development, student exchange programs incl. the USA and much more.
        RE is only direct supported since about 10 years, so you used last years number and 10-folded it?

        Do a bit of research and tell us the real number, o.k.? 🙂

        • jeppen

          I referenced this before and it sums to close to 200 billion euro, so I had done a bit of research. Please adjust these figures if they are wrong:

          • heinbloed

            No advertising material from the Mafia here, jeppen, we want the official data.
            Check with the German department of economics, environment.

            And come back then.

          • jeppen

            I’ve shown data and this is the best we got so far. If you want to challenge that, you have to provide better data. I rest my case for the time being.

          • john

            I can agree with most of what jeppen has said. Have all the greenies considered the environment costs of the sourcing, manufacturing and transportation of solar panels, electric cars, etc.? The hazardous materials utilized in manufacturing electric cars and their support systems can actually be worse over the lifetime of the vehicle (and it disposal) than just using a traditional gas powered vehicle fueled by Canadian tar sands oil. Food for thought before we try to make the unwise switch to all renewables. —

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sure John, and thanks for your concern.

            Manufacturing an EV is not really different that manufacturing an ICEV. Then over the life of the EV charged with renewable energy a bazzilon tons of CO2 won’t be spewed into the atmosphere.

            The energy that goes into wind turbines is paid back in 3 to 9 months. The energy it takes to manufacture solar panels is paid back in less than two years. And we now have enough wind and solar generation on line to more than generate all the energy we need to manufacture turbines and panels.
            We’re making turbines and panels without spewing more bazzion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

            We’re going to make the switch and trolls like you won’t slow things down.

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