Nuclear Energy nuclear power uk

Published on July 23rd, 2015 | by James Ayre


10 Companies Appealing €100 Billion In Subsidies For UK’s Hinkley Nuclear Project

July 23rd, 2015 by  

The relatively recent decision by the European Commission to approve roughly €100 billion in subsidies for the Hinkley Point C nuclear energy project in the UK is already being legally challenged, according to recent reports.

The legal challenge is coming via an alliance of 10 companies — which includes various renewable energy suppliers and municipal utility companies, as well as Greenpeace Energy. The plea for an annulment of the approval is being made via the European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

nuclear power uk

Reportedly, according to the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the chances that the challenge will be successful are low. Based on recent events, one could argue that Germany is essentially the de facto head of the Commission, so that doesn’t seem to bode well for the legal challenge.

The challenge is being handled by Dörte Fouquet, of the Becker Büttner Held law firm. He commented on the situation thusly: “(The European Commission used) an incorrect evaluation benchmark because these British subsidies are an unlawful State Aid and not an investment aid. Moreover … there is no general failure of the energy market which could justify these proposed subsidies.”

For some background here, the subsidies call for the European Commission to provide £92.5/megawatt-hour (MWh) in support for 35 years to the 3.2 gigawatt (GW) nuclear project.


Figures provided by Greenpeace show that subsidies for the Hinkley Point C project will total some €108.6 billion over that period if inflation is taken into account (€53.7 billion without taking inflation into account). These subsidies are in addition to more than €20 billion in credit guarantees made by the UK.

That’s certainly quite a lot of state support for nuclear energy, is it not? And people are still claiming that it’s economically viable?

“This high level of subsidization means that Hinkley Point C can generate power at negative prices without suffering financial losses. Hinkley Point C lowers the wholesale price of power in the UK. Lower prices lead to an increased import of electricity from the UK to Germany. These imports lower the price of power in Germany, reducing the profits of its conventional and renewable power plants. This effect can lower the price of electricity in Germany by as much as 20 euro cents per megawatt-hour,” as Greenpeace put it in a recent statement.

The companies involved in the legal challenge are oekostrom AG, Greenpeace Energy, and Energieversorgung Filstal. The municipal utilities involved in the appeal are Bochum, Mainz, Schwäbisch Hall, Tübingen, Mühlacker, Aalen, and Bietigheim-Bissingen.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Want to use lifetime cost? Nuclear is still too expensive.

    I use the lowest current price for nuclear when comparing it to renewables. The lowest price that I’ve seen is Citigroup’s LCOE of 11 c/kWh for the Vogtle reactors. I sometimes point out that after they made their analysis Vogtle has been further delayed by at least two years which will add $2 million per day, about 2 c/kWh to the 11.

    I use annual average for wind and solar contracts in the US. Hardly the least expensive prices I can find unless I am discussing the lowest current prices.

    I use unsubsidized prices for wind and solar while not adding back in the subsidies for nuclear.

    I use, understandably, the lowest cost for available storage. And I use that cost for both renewables and nuclear when discussing ‘full system’ costs. I use the same price for natural gas for both, not picking a higher cost for one and lower for the other.

    I often compare the cost of renewables plus storage to the cost of nuclear only. Not charging nuclear for the backup, storage and fill-in to make it 24/365 as I have done for wind and solar.

    Look, you are backing an expensive, slow to install, and dangerous energy source which we simply don’t need and would be smart to never install again.

    I’d suggest you step back and think through your position. Ask yourself since we obviously can build renewable grids and they would be our least expensive route off fossil fuels why we shouldn’t go that route?

    • berra

      Do you really think average LCOE scales? Isn’t “average” heavily biased by the simple fact that states with worse solar/wind resources doesn’t build as much?

      Also, how do we know prices aren’t positively influenced by a bubble that attracts money on very good terms? In certain high-growth markets, companies can even take market share by underbidding in a sort of pyramid scheme. When SolarCity has a revenue of $255M and take losses of $375M in 2014, how can we trust low market prices to be sustainable?

      If a major country wants to build nuclear cheaply, it can do so by easing and streamlining regulation, ensuring financing on good terms and supporting enough builds to get industrial learning effects going. Obviously, if you look at the first few builds in 30 years, of a technology subject to a hostile regulatory environment, you’ll find that costs aren’t where you want them to be.

      Again, if I believed renewables could easily overcome intermittency problems and cost issues to scale world-wide quickly and cheaply, we wouldn’t have this discussion. Also, if the economic fundamentals were there, solar+wind wouldn’t have grabbed a mere 0.5% global market share last year, whereas nuclear top rate was 2% per year. When solar+wind quadruple the rate with which it grabs market share, then we start reassessing which is quicker to deploy.

      But hey, I for one really, really hope that your gamble turns out to be successful. But I still find it completely irresponsible, of course. Climate change is for real and we need to act for real.

      • Bob_Wallace

        LCOE does not “scale”. LCOE is a standard methodology for comparing electricity costs for varied generation technologies.

        Some regions have more or less wind/solar potential. That makes the LCOE for that region unique to that region. And because one technology might cost less than another in that region it will influence the amount installed. If you’d like to see how that plays out on a state by state basis wander around this infographic and see how mixes differ from place to place.

        “Also, how do we know prices aren’t positively influenced by a bubble that attracts money on very good terms?”

        Well, some of us read a bit and know that both the wind and solar industries talk about the need to find cheaper sources of financing. There’s a bit of resentment that nuclear gets loan guarantees which results in below market rates.

        “If a major country wants to build nuclear cheaply, it can do so by easing and streamlining regulation,”

        List the companies in Europe and North America which have done that. (China builds less expensive nuclear due to very low labor rates.)

        Turkey has practically begged someone to build nuclear for them. You think they’re throwing up regulatory barriers?

        Turkey has signed a purchase agreement with Russia for 12.5 c/kWh.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Sorry, Charlie.

    You aren’t behaving rationally.
    You advocate for a more expensive and slower route off fossil fuels.

    As well you advocate for a solution which leaves very large amounts of dangerous radioactive waste for many generations to follow us.

    Do you understand why that is irrational?

    • berra

      If these climate scientists and biologists (and I) thought renewables were faster and cheaper in general, and, above all, able to completely replace fossils for baseload generation, then we would obviously advocate that. None of us crave any particular tech (like you do). We just want the (real) problem solved in time.

      Radioactive waste is not a significant problem and shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same discussions as climate change. It’s like having a discussion about global traffic deaths and introduce chain grease stains as an anti-bike argument.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Climate scientists and biologists do not spend their time studying electricity generation. Take James Hansen, for example.

        Outstanding climate scientist who obviously knew far too little about renewable energy when he advocated for nuclear.

        You should know by now that renewables are cheaper and faster to install and are able to provide 100% of our electricity needs. If you don’t then you aren’t paying attention or deliberately refusing to examine facts.

        I don’t “crave” any particular technology. I think our future grid will be a mix of renewable inputs. I just think it foolish to spend extra money to incorporate nuclear when it brings nothing critical to the mix and introduces dangers we simply don’t need to endure.

        • berra

          So, to summarise: Top climate scientists are uninformed and I am not paying attention or are deliberately refusing to examine facts? That’s pretty rich considering how this discussion has developed.

          Never mind I have repeatedly proven you wrong by digging deeper into your own sources. And not just wrong but dead wrong about costs. Never mind I have repeatedly nuanced and clarified while you provide extremely one-sided views.

          Are you really not aware of how this looks? Or do you just find insolence an effective strategy?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Show me something where a leading climate scientist has demonstrated knowledge of the current state of renewable energy including cost comparisons to new nuclear capacity.

            “Never mind I have repeatedly proven you wrong by digging deeper into your own sources.”

            Point out those many incidences of me getting something wrong.

            Look, berra, you showed up with a very high pro-nuclear bias while not knowing much about renewable energy. I hope you are at least to question your own beliefs.

  • Bob_Wallace

    When installation rates are low it’s a lot easier to grow 30%. Later on a 5% increase is a larger amount of actual installation than 30%.

    It’s not uncommon for transmission to get ahead of installation or installation to get ahead of transmission. Bit projects run by different companies. Stuff happens. Germany had some “stranded” offshore wind for a while.

    I’m using 5c for back of envelop calcs based on a Swiss project that found from 3 to 6 c/kWh for new mountain builds.

    I’m working up a set of numbers from all the sources I’ve found and waiting to get some numbers from the DOE. 15c/kWh is pretty high based on what I’ve found to date.

    • berra

      “Stuff happens. Germany had some “stranded” offshore wind for a while.”

      Yes. Are you as forgiving with nuclear?

      • Bob_Wallace

        What would you like me to forgive?

        Chernobyl? Fukushima? TMI? Fort Calhoun being offline for a year or more? Bessie-Davis? Browns Ferry burning out. Crystal River? SONGs?
        Or can you recommend some sort of nuclear problem that’s more on the scale of a few months passing before a transmission line is completed?

        Perhaps the cooling tower falling down at Vermont Yankee?

        • berra

          A few months passing before a transmission line is complete?! China has a wind CF in the area of 17-18%. Assuming it has 33% potential CF, then it is lagging some 3 years in grid connections. The stranded offshore in Germany was more than a few months and the cost overruns were humongous.

          Yes, absolutely I’d like you to forgive Vermont Yankee. And yeah, I guess the rest as well. Intuition and media attention is not a good guide here. We have to do the math. Nuclear has small average external costs and damages.

  • tikib

    Molten Salt Reactors would produce energy cheaper than coal and safer than wind.

    Not posting this comment is censorship.

  • Mike Dill

    For $100.00 per MWH ($0.10 per KWH) you can build onshore wind and solar PV right now (unsubsidized). They are looking at nuclear as ‘baseload’ and are not yet able to think about about storage coming down to that price, which totally wrecks the plan.

  • heinbloed

    That Luxemburg is also challenging Hinkley Point isn’t mentioned in the article.

    Has someone any news on legal points Luxemburg is following?

    All I could find were announcements:

    Why aren’t British power generators challenging the project, their prices would be undercut at first.
    The UK is at the moment a net-importer of power after all, the planned output of HP would hardly make that any different. The remaining load (there are plans to close a lot of power stations) still needs to be imported.
    The planned international cables are for import reasons, not for export of power.

    • Jenny Sommer

      It’s also a letdown that the Bundestag decided against supporting Austria and Luxemburg in their efforts.

  • Antony Berretti

    Reading through the comments it’s a hot topic and all are against the development of nuclear. Our only chance to stop this madness here in the UK is to get the Labour party to unite against the policy with the SNP in Westminster. Hell were screwed because Labour can’t even tell what they’re standing for….(might as well call then the New Left Tory Party).
    The SNP are the only group at Westminster with any common sense but are only 56 MP’s and notwithstanding their eagerness, are powerless against the incumbents unless supported by the sick man of England (only Labour 1 MP left in Scotland).

    • Jenny Sommer

      British utilities should join the lawsuit. It’s a complete market distortion an unsustainable.

      Just imagine the time horizon. The plant should have gone online by 2023/25 if the contracts where signed back in 2013 yet financing is still looking to fail.
      +2 years from Luxemburg, maybe 4-6 years construction delay….let’s make it 10, it’s an EPR after all.
      The plant would optimistically go online around 2027/28.
      Planed operational life is 60years+20years decommissioning.

      It would go out of business the moment it loses the substities considering the trend in EU wholesale prices.


      • Bristolboy

        The problem any companies which have interests in the UK will face is the threat (real or percieved) that there action would result in the government taking countermeasures against their British business.

      • berra

        It will probably be extended to 80 or 100 years.

        What I imagine will go out of business without subsidies is wind. Build enough of them and spot prices looks awfaul when it’s windy. Certainly not enough revenue then to cover O&M costs.

        • Jenny Sommer

          It’s hard to guess the O&M cost of 2040/45 Wind and PV but I’d bet some money that they are below that of an 35year old EPR 😉

          The EPR will probably need something in the 60-70€(2015) range by then, more when the CF drops to under 70% which is very likely after the government isn’t obliged any more to buy expensive power from the plant.

          Your guess about offshore/onshore wind cost in 40years? Have you checked out KiteGen? I even believe conventional offshore wind will go for 30-40€ by 2040.
          PV? Who knows…

          • berra

            €60-70 was a bold proposal. I’d guess more like €10-15 in O&M including fuel.

            New onshore perhaps €30 and offshore €60? But again, their costs may be comparable, but their product is not. Wind is intermittent and thus less valuable.

          • Jenny Sommer

            30year old French nukes need around 50-60€ to keep operating. At least two Swiss nuclear plants are not profitable any more.
            Where di you get your estimates for an 35 year old EPR from?

          • berra

            No, they don’t need 50-60€, far from it. That’s incorrect reporting of a French finding. Those figures are lifetime costs, including full cycle, not O&M.

            Future safety requirements is anyone’s guess, but the EPR is larger, more fuel efficient and built to last longer than the existing plants, with extreme safety built in. If regulatory bodies don’t force major changes and upgrades to the EPR, then the O&M costs should be normal, and thus my conservative estimate.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The first EPR builds are impressive, are they not?

            ​​Olkiluoto 3 is going to be at least 9 years over.

            Flamanville 3 is such a pile of screwups that there’s no way to put a number on the years it will be late.

            Taishan 1 & 2 may get one reactor on line, only 3 years late.

            That sort of stuff drives the price into outer space.

          • berra

            That China builds in 7 years total will likely not drive the price into outer space, but I agree that the others are total disasters and major blows for nuclear confidence in the West.

          • Bob_Wallace

            China has been running over schedule, IIRC.

            And few countries have a government that can say “Make it so” then back that up with a firing squad.

            Any attempt to use China timelines (or costs) to project western times/costs seems to be extremely flawed.

          • berra

            Yes, China is running over schedule, from 4 to 6-7 years. I would expect China to build the next pair in 5 years given the experience. The Chinese have a stake in Hinkley and will try to utilize their experience to make the project proceed in a timely fashion. The history of Western builds include a lot of quick ones, so the firing squad seems unnecessary.

          • Bob_Wallace

            One of the major problems with O3 overruns, IIRC, is communication between people who don’t share a common first language. With China there’s likely to be language problem plus a very significant cultural difference.

            China is talking about reducing its time overruns by moving crews (physically) from one build to another so that their experience gets transferred to the next build. Turning nuclear construction into a career where you move yourself (and family) to a new location frequently.

            There’s going to be no nuclear construction experienced labor/professionals available in the UK.

            And you probably would rather ignore the French input. ;o)

          • berra

            Agreed, these are real problems and I’m not very optimistic about the EPRs future. But some equipment supply issues, training, simulators and so on have been sorted by the first builds. I kindof believe in humanity and its ability to learn and improve.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How many chances should we give nuclear?

            Or, more important, how much of our future should we gamble on nuclear getting cheap enough to use?

          • berra

            Nuclear is the proven solution and renewables is the gamble. Nuclear doesn’t need chances. It needs governments that decide that we’re going to go that way, just as RE does. (With the difference that we know that nuclear scales with no limitations.)

            I’d be much more comfortable with our future if more countries were like France that tries to scale RE from a strong position of low-carbon nuclear generation. Instead countries like Germany (and likely soon the US) scales RE while decommissioning nuclear from an environmentally weak position with a lot of fossil generation. I think they’ll find themselves having replaced nuclear with RE and not being able to integrate more. Then we’re stuck with fossils (which will be locked in by the need to balance RE) and we’ll have lost several decades.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’ve been using wind and solar for 30 years. That isn’t “proven”?

            Why should governments ram expensive nuclear down their citizens’ throats when there are cheaper alternatives?

            South Carolina ratepayers have now been subjected to 6 rate increases in order to help pay for two new reactors and a seventh increase is under review. Overall, SCE&G electricity rates have increased 27.7 percent since 2009 and the current increase is set to be another 3%.

            “I’d be much more comfortable with our future if more countries were like France that tries to scale RE from a strong position of low-carbon nuclear generation”

            Are you aware that we have no time machines that would allow us to go back to the 1970s, 1980s in order to build and payoff a bunch of reactors so that we could use them now to transition to REs?

            Are you aware that it costs France 8c/kWh to produce power from their paid off reactors?

            You think it would make sense for the US to build 300 new reactors just as placeholders for renewables? That it would make sense to spend decades building reactors and wrecking our economy with 15c/kWh electricity and then build cheap renewables?

            Read more here:

          • berra

            Yes, we’ve had wind and solar for 30 years and all that time we’ve heard “soon now”. Soon they can scale. Soon they can push out coal and gas. But it hasn’t happened. We’re still stuck with the same hopes. No examples of an electricity region (with low-to-average hydro resources) that has moved off fossils by scaling intermittent REs. And we don’t see it happening either. Several European countries that have had periods of good RE growth have all pulled the brakes instead of following through. Why? That’s why it’s not proven!

            Governments shouldn’t ram expensive nuclear down ratepayers throats. They should decide that nuclear needs to be cheap and make it so. South Korea and China is doing that, just as France, Sweden and Belgium and others did in the past.

            No, AFAIK nuclear doesn’t cost 8c in France. Why would the US pay 15c if it decided to build 300 reactors? I’d assume more like 5c. Economies of scale and learning effects apply to nuclear as well, and regulation can be made to go hand in hand with progress instead of opposing it.

            Nuclear isn’t a placeholder for RE. I’m saying that we need to fix the CO2 problem now, and then we’re free to experiment.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’ve had wind and solar for 30 years but we did not have inexpensive wind and solar until very recently. (Below x2)

            Solar and wind are now pushing out fossil fuels in the US. (Below #3)

            Iowa is now 30% wind. That’s a pretty big achievement given they’ve been at it for only a few years. Texas has hit 10% wind. Germany is about 7% solar and 10% wind.

            It will take some time to replace most of our fossil fuel generation but we can see it happening.

            Spain pulled back because they screwed up their FiT program and it started costing them serious money at the same time their economy crashed due to a real estate/financial bubble.

            Germany didn’t lower their FiT quickly enough and then over reacted. But wind and solar are cooking right along in Germany.

            Fossil fuel interests have been pushing back pretty hard against renewables in Europe. They’ve likely slowed things down a little.

            Haven’t worked is entirely incorrect. The countries with the highest wind and solar penetrations are not experiencing more grid outages and are enjoying wholesale price decreases.

            “Production costs from the existing fleet are heading higher over the medium-term,” France’s Cour des Comptes said in a report to parliament published today.

            The report, which updates findings in a January 2012 report, said that in 2012 the Court calculated the cost of production of the current fleet for 2010, which amounted to EUR 49.5 per megawatt-hour.

            Using the same method for the year 2013 the cost was EUR 59.8/MWh, an increase of 20.6 percent over three years.


            That’s roughly 8c/kWh in US pennies.

            Governments should make nuclear cheap.

            Sure. And governments should turn toe jam into truffles.

            If you’re going to appeal to magic then you’ve got no case.

            ” I’m saying that we need to fix the CO2 problem now, and then we’re free to experiment.”

            Totally agree. We install what is cheap and fast right now. We install wind and solar. When it’s time to install large scale storage then we go with the best option, our worst option will be PuHS and it will be both practical and affordable.

            In the meantime we can experiment with nuclear.

            Works for me.

          • berra

            Of course renewables can push out some fossil fuels, but the issue is how much and how soon? There are no good examples. There is for nuclear power.

            Iowa at 30% wind. That’s good, but how about its gross electricity imports and exports? Denmark is at 40% wind, but I give that little credit since Denmark is an integrated part of a much wider grid and have huge electricity imports/exports. 40% in a small part of the grid is obviously easy.

            Whatever the explanations, Europe has pulled the brakes and we have no good example of high-penetration intermittent renewables. There is a reason countries such as Turkey and UAE go for nuclear, and it’s more about intermittence than per-kWh cost..

            “the cost was EUR 59.8/MWh”

            Just as your 9c/kWh fixed O&M that proved to be misinterpreted, this is an unreasonable figure for O&M. I’ve seen this study mentioned before and then it was clear it was a lifetime cost including everything. So your claim that this is operating cost for paid off reactors is false.

            “If you’re going to appeal to magic then you’ve got no case.”

            I don’t appeal to magic but to politics. There is an iron law of learning effects – industrial endevours get cheaper with more experience. Nuclear as you know is a great exception in the West, and the reason is politics. That can be rolled back.

            “We install what is cheap and fast right now. We install wind and solar.”

            That is not a complete solution. It will only serve to lock in enormous amounts of NG demand for the life of the solar/wind installations. I think wind is fine where you have abundant hydro. Everywhere else, nuclear should be scaled to provide baseload. Solar is fine to take care of some daytime peaking (mostly in subtropical and tropical zones, where winter is not too dark).

          • Bob_Wallace

            How much and how soon?

            I suspect that within a few years we will be adding at least 2% wind and solar to the grid. That would mean roughly 30 years to replace coal and natural gas.

            That rate will have to be expanded in order to replace petroleum at the same time. It’s not clear how much electricity will be saved and how much coal/natural gas consumption will be eliminated as we move off oil but we will have to add more renewables for charging.

            With nuclear, that technology is very slow to bring on line and very expensive. But I am forced to repeat myself…

            Nuclear has gotten more expensive over time, as you admit. If politics were the problem then we’d see very inexpensive nuclear in one of the many countries where there is no political resistance. The politics argument falls flat.

            “That is not a complete solution. It will only serve to lock in enormous amounts of NG demand for the life of the solar/wind installations”

            You ignore storage.

          • berra

            I don’t think we’ll get to 2% year-over-year increase market share, and if we do, intermittence will stop us from sustaining that rate very long.

            Nuclear is actually not slow to bring online. Each reactor is slow, but multiple countries have shown how to build lots and lots of reactors simultaneously. As I said, nuclear has had that 2% year-over-year global increase in market share, in 1984-1985. If we had chosen to sustain that, nuclear would be at some 70% now. They are also not expensive, or need not be.

            We do see inexpensive nuclear in countries with less opposition (there are no countries without opposition). South Korea, Russia, China. Also, if not politics, then what drives costs? Do you have examples of other tech becoming more expensive?

            Yes, I ignore storage until I see it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Look, if there was a gas station that sold gas for $2 a gallon when the others were selling for $8 a gallon but it wasn’t open 24/365 I’ll bet most people would shift their buying patterns as much as possible to buy from the cheaper place.

            And a lot of people would get a couple gas cans and stock up for when the station was closed.

          • berra

            Gas storage is cheap. Electricity storage is really, really expensive. Change buying patterns, sure we will, if you make it hurt as much as 4x more expensive gas. But will that be accepted when there are alternatives?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t have a good feel for “deep storage”. We’re a couple of decades away from needing to worry about the 4+ days of low wind/solar. Up until then we’ll likely continue to use NG.

            As we become more concerned about climate change and after we’ve picked the low hanging fruit – getting rid of coal and building enough renewable and storage to cover up to ~3 days – then attention will have to be turned to the few times a year when “3 isn’t enough”.

            Take a look at some data from the Budischak paper. The top green line is actual wind and solar available.

            The pink bars below show when storage was needed and in what quantities. The bottom bars indicate the times during the 4 year period that gas turbines had to be fired up.

            The issue will be how to best (most economically) to replace those gas turbines. And perhaps shorten some of the pink bars.

            Here are some ideas.

            Pump-up hydro with multiple/large turbines or flow batteries with large storage tanks. Low sunshine/wind periods should be fairly predictable. Start outputting from PuHS or flow tanks early on and keep the short term storage full as much as possible. That would allow supplying peak demand without having to size the turbines/flow systems to meet demand.

            NG turbines run on biogas. Store up methane from landfills and sewage systems.

            Coal plants run on biomass. Store up lots of wood pellets and fire up some plants early, feed the output into short cycle storage at night then use that to meet peak during the day.

            We should have plenty paid off turbines, closed cycle gas plants and coal plants. Fuel and maintenance costs shouldn’t be too bad.

            Manufacturer some sort of fuel with wind/solar electricity. Ammonia might be a good choice.

            Or a non-storage option. Contract with some of the largest consumers. Pulp mills and aluminum smelters, for example. Pay them to curtail. Give their employees paid days off and give the businesses 150% of the profit they forgo. (Something like that.) Just cut demand down to match supply once or a very few times a year.

          • Jenny Sommer

            As I remember from reading somewhere demand curtailment is now much more common in the UK than in Germany..over 40 times a year vs around 20.

          • berra

            I don’t agree there’s only a few days per year in which there will be substantial shortfalls. Also, while I agree that there’s a lot of tech out there that can do the job in theory, it always comes down to scale and economics. I don’t see that the economics is there, while you do.

            However, if the economics really is there, where is the good examples? Global wind deployment has plataued at a very low level since 2009, despite low costs. Hillary Clinton promise quite little solar, just 140 GW until 2020. Economical storage is nowhere to be seen. I don’t see any RE with storage on the horizon. I see NG extended with RE. That’s an improvement when it’s replacing coal, to be sure, but it isn’t enough.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The wind/solar data is right there for you to see.

            I wouldn’t say that global wind installation has plateaued. Installation was down in 2013 due to the US Congress screwing around with wind subsidies. By 2014 the rate of installation hit a new high. It was 33.8% higher than 2009. (Below)

            Global solar installations are climbing and with the recent plunge in solar costs look for a lot of acceleration. (Below x2)

            ” Economical storage is nowhere to be seen.”

            What’s economic to you? Five cents per kWh? That’s PuHS with a specially built dam. Converting existing dams, quarries or mines would cost less.

            We’re not seeing significant storage addition to grids simply because it isn’t needed. There’s a tremendous amount of fossil fuel generation to be replaced first. Makes no sense to store wind/solar and add cost as long as there’s a gas plant to throttle down.

            We’ve got some very interesting storage tech that seems like it will be on market within the next couple of years. I’ll list some and you can check them out…

            EOS Energy System zinc batteries. $160/kWh target price with 5,000 cycles.

            Alevo lithium-ion batteries. $100/kWh target price with long cycle life. They’ve been ‘running silent’ for several years and seem to have convinced some people with money. They have $1 billion startup funds in the back and should be shipping this year.

            Ambri liquid metal batteries. $100/kWh target price with incredibly long cycle life. Probably the most promising. Should be on a few grids within a few months.

            Imergy vanadium flow batteries. I think they will be more expensive that other battery types but offer long cycle life and the ability to store lots of energy in not-expensive tanks.

            The “not that great” battery options we have now are starting to take away some of NG’s market share. They are competing on an economic basis for grid smoothing roles. Batteries will start taking away the seconds/minutes market first then spread to hours and days.

        • nakedChimp

          Why should wind go out of business, just because the peak price is going to be when less wind is?
          That’s where gas peaker and energy storage companies come in.. they’ll suck the wind when it’s cheap and sell high when energy is needed.
          Can’t see how nuclear is going to make a living there..

          • Jenny Sommer

            Here is another interesting article.
            EDF says there will be no baseload in 2030 Europe.
            No business case for HPC past the 35years of subsidies.


          • berra

            EDF isn’t saying that. The article says that it does, but it is misquoting an EDF publication that is exploring what it would be like with 60% RE integration in Europe. It’s not a pretty picture, and among the key findings, we find this: “thermal generation remains necessary in order to ensure system stability and security of supply. A contribution of nuclear to this thermal production would seem necessary in order to obtain the required CO2 reductions.”

          • berra

            In that scenario, nuclear can get good prices for 2/3 of its production. Wind will get good prices for 1/3 of its production. So nuclear fetch a markedly higher per-kWh price in the spot markets.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear can’t get good prices for 2/3rds of its production if solar is dropping the daytime price ceiling and wind is lowering the off peak floor.

            UK nuclear, at 15c/kWh would take a bath more than 50% of the time. Store 15c for 2c and you have to sell for 17c + enough to cover your ‘other hour’ loss. Now you need over 20c/kWh to stay in business.

            Wind and solar stored for 2c/kWh is simply going to grab the rest of the market.

          • berra

            I note that you use solar, wind and storage costs that are lower than any I’ve seen. If those costs were really available to the market, the transformation would be explosive for real and fossil stocks would have junk status.

            I also note that a number of major governments around the world doesn’t share your view of the ease with which intermittent renewables can be handled.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” fossil stocks would have junk status”

            And that is exactly what is happening….


  • JamesWimberley

    The photo looks to be of one of “Hinton’s heavies” like Drax, not a nuclear power station at all.

  • wattleberry

    One thing is not quite clear to me; is the subsidy coming from the UK or the EU?
    If the latter, a lot of things fall into place.

    • Bristolboy

      The subsidy will be added to all UK electricity bills, the EU are not paying the subsidy.

      • wattleberry

        Thanks.So this travesty is just being sanctioned by the EU?
        Words fail. As pensioners , we’ve moved to Southern Europe to have a life.

        • berra

          Germany has heaped more subsidies on solar for similar results without opposition. Why would the EU oppose subsidies in the UK?

          • Jenny Sommer

            Because under EU law only emerging technologies are to be substituted.

            High risk, dying technologies that have been substituted for almost 80years without a chance of ever getting competitive don’t seem to fit the bill.

          • berra

            That sounds implausible. Could you point to the legal text, please? I’m wondering how they can heap money also on hydro and biomass burning, then? Hardly emerging.

            Nuclear gained 2% global market share per year just before Chernobyl. Solar+wind now only takes 0.5%/year together. They are still very far from the peak technology uptake level of nuclear.

          • Jenny Sommer

            It’s not one criteria that qualifies for legal substities. There is also sustainability, security of supply, market distortion and many others to consider.
            In the view of Austria and many others this does not complie with EU law and is thus illegal state aid.

          • berra

            Security of supply and market distortion? Then wind and solar wouldn’t have been allowed, I guess. What you say still sounds implausible to me. And it seems that the EU think it complies with EU law, and also the relevant German Ministry, according to the article we are commenting.

            It think this is Greens and incumbent renewable/gas lobbies that want to introduce more political risk and resistance into the project in the hope that it’ll be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I doubt they give this legal challenge much chance. It’s more of a PR thing and a signal to lenders.

          • Bristolboy

            When there was first rumours of a legal challenge I remember the industry press asked legal experts their opinions on the chances of the appeal bring successful. A couple gave low chances, however, one gave as high as 40%. If Austria or the consortium of companies choose to take it that far, this could rumble on for at least 4 years. If you were an investor or financier, the legal challenge just adds considerable additional risk with no additional reward meaning the costs of financing the project will just increase further. Recent tinkering to renewable energy subsidies have probably also increased uncertainty, EDF themselves were hit by a number of wind farm projects which are no longer viable.

            It’s also worth remembering long term interests rates, bonds etc are said to have reached the cyclical low and have now started to increase once again. This will further push up the cost of finance, plus the longer the delay seemingly the higher the cost of funding.

            Regardless of whether the plant ever gets built, the chances of it producing power by 2023 must be virtually zero, as even EDF said that production of first power in 2023 is dependent on a final investment decision in July 2014. In March 2014 the FID date slipped to August 2014 and then “autumn 2014″, then later in 2014 the FID date was said to be early 2015 and the latest is ” by the end of 2015″. The FID always seems to be about half a year away, all the time more and more doubts surely have to be creeping in?

          • Bristolboy

            The other thing is UK labour costs are starting to increase relatively rapidly, especially for construction workers. I have seen reference to potentially large numbers of workers being brought in from abroad for Hinkley C, however, again I think that may be politically unpalatable to the UK government as they have a target to increase immigration and have made a big deal of the jobs this project is going to create for UK workers.

          • Jenny Sommer

            FITs are not state aid.
            Loan guarantees and substities via taxes are.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Here are more details and some points about state aid.


          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear’s market share continues to fall. Nuclear has fallen from 17.6 to 10.8 in 2013 and continues downward.

            Wind’s and solar’s market share continue to rise.

          • berra

            Yes, that’s a pity, especially as the rise of solar and wind hasn’t been able to offset the diminishing market share of nuclear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wind and solar are doing a good job of replacing fossil fuels as well as sagging nuclear in the US.

            Nuclear has been losing market share for about 20 years. Wind and solar have become economically competitive only in the last very few years.

            I’ll show you what has happened with nuclear and wind in China. See how fast wind has grown once it got started?

          • berra

            Worldwide, solar and wind together take 0.5% market share per year, while total electricity market grows some 3% per year. That’s why fossil generation keep growing and why it’s positive that a lot of countries, including GB, start ramping nuclear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you have a need for more capacity does it make sense to add 12+c/kWh supply or 4c/kWh supply?

            Those countries that are ramping up nuclear are not making rational decisions. The UK is willing to pay 15c/kWh + large subsidies and sign a very long (35 year) PPA when the cost of onshore, offshore and solar will be considerably lower.

            Dumb, is what I call it.

          • berra

            Intermittent power is fine to extend your fossil gas supplies, and, in the case of solar, to shave some of your daytime peak off. But if one has reason to believe that there won’t be that much gas to extend, then one needs baseload production. Thus nuclear power for the UK.

            A lot of countries subsidise certain power sources to get them going, and to subsidise baseload makes much more sense than to subsidise intermittent power if you don’t have excess dispatchable power. I would have done the same as the UK govt, but differently. Going without baseload is currently not an option.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Storage is cheaper than nuclear.

            Baseload is only a description of how last-century generation plants operated. Slow to turn on, slow to turn off. Best to keep them running if possible. That was your baseload generation and then the utilities had to figure out how to match demand on top of those lumbering beasts.

            Hopefully you understand that wind + solar + storage is just as functional, and a lot more nimble, than a coal or nuclear plant running a steam plant. Or at least that you’ll figure it out….

          • berra

            If scalable electricity storage was available at a reasonable cost, we would not have this conversation as China, India, South Korea, USA, UK and others would not pursue nuclear power.

            Very strange to paint wind + solar + storage as “more nimble” than coal and nuclear. It’s the storage that’s “nimble”, while the solar and wind are quite a bit less flexible than nuclear and coal. Storage can be deployed with nuclear and coal as well, and they need far, far less.

          • Jenny Sommer

            How are you going to built storage when nuclear is too expensive in the first place?

            You did not answer my question how HPC will compete against 2030 RE or power for 10€/MWh from Norway?

          • berra

            Too expensive how? We need electricity and are moving away from fossils. Intermittent power is, well, intermittent, even in 2030. Then nuclear remains and the Brits have to pay up. If it wants lower costs, then it could deregulate and let other nuclear vendors build. The EPR is crazy expensive.

            Norway produce 4% of the EU’s electricity and what it sells is not priced at €10. Rather, my crystal ball says Norway will buy at €10 from Britain and sell back at €50 or so. The difference is one external cost of wind power, along with the high cost for the subsea cable.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Norway can’t arbitrage power for that large a difference. Other storage technologies can perform at a lower price.

          • berra

            Interesting. Do you have some links?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Links for what?

          • berra

            Links that show other storage technologies that can perform at a lower price. But I think we can continue that discussion in another part of the thread. (It seems your Eos link contradicts your claim.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Perhaps you missed what has been happening in the storage sector.

            The price of storage is dropping rapidly. For example, EV batteries were $1,000/kWh just a few years back. Now Tesla is paying Panasonic less than $200/kWh and when the Gigafactory is running the price is expected to drop to about $130/kwh.

            Low cost utility scale storage is just now appearing. EOS Energy Systems is selling grid scale storage for $160/kWh with 2016 shipping. There are a couple of $100/kWh utility scale storage options that are now in manufacture.

            It will take a couple of years for these technologies to prove themselves out and, if at least one does, then we’ll see some major grid changes start to happen.

            Yes, it’s the storage part of wind + solar + storage that makes wind + solar + storage more nimble than nuclear.
            It’s the wind + solar part that makes wind + solar + storage much less expensive than nuclear.

            Coal and nuclear might need less storage than wind and solar. But the cost of new coal and new nuclear make them non-starters.

          • berra

            Your Tesla figures are also the lowest I have ever heard. P70 sells for $70,000 but the batteries are less than $14,000? Can you back that up with official data?

            $100/kWh, what does that include, and does it make large scale utility storage viable? It’s not obvious to me, considering cycle life, the inability to deep cycle, O&M costs, financing, and such. You claim 2c/kWh in storage costs, but given $100/kWh in investment costs, you need 5000 full cycles to get to 2c/kWh and no O&M costs, no financing costs, no energy losses, no installation costs or anything. It simply doesn’t compute.

          • Bob_Wallace

            This article fleshes it out.


            The $180/kWh comes from a Navigant Research white paper which I have read.

            $160/kWh for EOS and $100/kWh for Alevo and Ambri is for a shipping container sized package. AC/DC conversion may be additional. Here’s the EOS site –


            EOS is 5,000 cycles. Ambri is as many cycles as you want for at least 30 years.

            Here’s the Alevo site –


            $100/kWh, financed at 5% for 20 years has an annual payment of $8.64 per year. Cycled 1.5 times per day (wind and solar, but not every day) would cost 1.6 cents.

            Add a penny or two if you wish. It still doesn’t get nuclear in the game. Even with 10c/kWh storage nuclear is out.

            40% wind (4c) + 30% solar(6.5) + stored w/s (5.25c + 10c storage) comes out at 9.6c/kWh.

          • berra

            Your first link states: “A typical ‘load shifting’ 4-hour battery (designed to address the afternoon/evening peak) costs anywhere from ~$720-2,800/kWh, depending entirely on the scale of the Lithium Ion battery employed and the size of order.”

            EOS, as I understand the link you provided, aims for $160 for DC power, but that cost isn’t proven and excludes inverters and some other balance of system. At that cost and assuming a 30y life (which I find optimistic), EOS claims 12-17 cents/kWh in storage costs (which is much, much lower than incumbents). Also we have 25% roundtrip losses. I think this all very much confirms my view that large scale, low cost grid storage is nowhere to be seen. 12-17 cents for future storage tech is not cool and does not provide an alternative to nuclear.

            Also, please consider that such frequent cycling can only handle daily peaking and daily solar variation. Solar variation on larger time scales and wind variation, which frequently are on the order of a few weeks, needs to be handled by battery banks that cycles just a few dozen times per year. Batteries for such applications are (even more) economically impossible.

            Your estimates for wind, solar, storage seems based on the best rumours and lowest cost sites you can find while ignoring balance of system costs and financing. Meanwhile, your nuclear estimate (Hinkley C strike price) is the worst siting/project and include all costs and a lot of profits on top of it but ignores the last 25 years of low-cost production. I guess the reason many major countries are going for new nuclear is that they use more mainstream and comparable numbers.

          • Bob_Wallace

            12 to 17 cents is EOS’s total cost for electricity delivered, IIRC. That includes purchasing the power, storage loss, storing it, sending it back to the grid. And profits for the storage owner.

            40% wind (4c) + 30% solar (6.5c) + 30% stored (17c) = 8.7 cents per kWh. Cheaper than nuclear.

            ​Now if we want to talk about long term storage, that’s different. There are no “weeks” of low wind and solar over large geographical areas. There are some ‘few day’ periods. We’ll need storage or, perhaps better, dispatchable generation for those periods.

            You might wish to read the Budischak, et al. paper in which they modeled a wind/solar only grid for the PJM grid using for years of actual demand and wind/solar data. They found that they needed to use 0.1% natural gas to keep the cost reasonable.


            Of course adding in power sharing with adjacent grids, hydro ​and dispatchable loads would cut that down.

            Nuclear. What to do when one or more reactors go down and stay down for weeks, months, years? Two went down in San Diego and stayed down for a long time. Browns Ferry and Fort Calhoun were a couple that spent years offline.

            “Meanwhile, your nuclear estimate (Hinkley C strike price) is the worst siting/project and include all costs and a lot of profits on top of it but ignores the last 25 years of low-cost production.”

            ​The Hinkley C strike price does not include subsidies- “roughly €100 billion in subsidies”. And it is a guarantee purchase agreement for 35 years. “The last 25 years” means that starting in 2060 or some years later Hinkley would start delivering power at possibly more than the cost of new onshore wind or solar.

            Certainly more than paid off wind or solar, which would have paid off after 20 years, not 35 and have opex of a penny or less.

          • berra

            The UK certainly has weeks of low wind and solar, but it might not be classified as a large area. To fix that, one has to assume substantial costs for grid integration based on a political willingness to relinquish national energy security and self-sufficiency.

            Regarding nuclear instability, an unexpected shutdown of an EPR would correspond to 4% of average consumption in the UK. While this is problem that has to be mitigated, the problem is minor in comparison to solar and wind variation that is routinely goes from almost nothing to full nameplate capacity.

            I’m curious about the solar price of 6.5c. Is that a UK estimate or is it some kind of happy US PPA? Good SoCal insolation is almost twice that of southern UK. Also, UK has its peak demand in winter time which will give little solar. That pose a seasonal problem that is unsolvable by batteries.

            “​The Hinkley C strike price does not include subsidies” – that’s incorrect. The Hinkley C strike price IS the subsidy. Also, the calculation of the subsidy does not take into account the upside to UK consumers, which will get back 60% of any profits above 13.5% ROI.

            After 35 years, Hinkley will deliver power that is likely cheaper than new solar and wind and certainly more valuable.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The few islands that make up the UK may not be large enough to be energy independent at a reasonable cost. Most European nations are not going to go it alone, don’t now. The UK is also hooked to the mainland.

            6.5 c/kWh is the unsubsidized cost of utility scale solar in the US. The PPA price is 5 c/kWh.

            Hinkley also gets loan guarantees from the UK government. That’s a subsidy outside the strike price.

            Profit sharing? You think there’s adequate profit built into the price to allow for some to flow back to the UK?

            Do you seriously want to advocate for nuclear by insisting that the price of paid off nuclear should be compared to only new solar and wind and not paid off nuclear and wind?

          • berra

            If 6.5c is the US cost, then UK costs are definitely north of 10c.

            The loan guarantees are not much of a subsidy, especially considering that the major risks are political/regulatory in nature. That state taketh away, the state giveth.

            If the subsidy really is €100 billion, you bet I think there is a lot of profit build in. There is no way the build costs can get even close to that. That’s also a major complaint regarding this deal. “One analyst at Liberium Capital described the strike price as ‘economically insane’: “as far as we can see this makes Hinkley Point the most expensive power station in the world… on a leveraged basis we expect EDF to earn a Return on Equity (ROE) well in excess of 20% and possibly as high as 35%.”

            Regarding paid off nuclear and paid off wind, you made a claim which I simply disagreed with. I don’t insist on any particular comparison, but I do note that nuclear has exceptionally long life and that the last half of it’s life, it has been paid off and produce almost free and clean energy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Last time I checked the UK was installing solar for less money than the US. Of course lower insolation raises the price.

            I don’t see solar becoming nearly as large a contributor to the grid in the UK. Wind is the UK’s strong suit. But even at 10c/kWh solar is cheaper than 15c/kWh Hinkley Point nuclear.

            If the loan guarantees are low value then let the builders accept the risk. Or go on the market and purchase insurance. One does not demand something that they don’t value in a difficult negotiation.

            15c/kWh is lower than the price of power would have been for a couple of turnkey project bids in the US. And Vogtle is like to end up close to that price once all the accounting is done.

            The average age of US reactors is about 40 years. We’re going to see if we can push some of our fleet out to 60 years. The price of the attempt will be $1 billion to $5 billion per reactor.

            The operating costs and finex cost for those plants is likely to be as high or higher than the price of new wind and new solar once wind and solar prices bottom out (somewhere in the 2 to 3.5c/kWh range).

            The fixed operating expenses for US reactors range upward from 1.3c/kWh with 9c/kWh median. Variable opex adds an additional 0.3/kWh to the least expensive to operate and 0.6 to the median. So paid off nuclear is, at best, 1.6/kWh. Older reactors are likely have more maintenance/repair issues and add in the refurb costs.

          • berra

            10c solar is less expensive than 15c Hinkley, yes, but still Hinkley power will be worth more in the spot markets. And again, the 15c might end up lower and Hinkley has a life beyond the 35 years. In all, I expect Hinkley to be a better deal than current solar. But I would rather argue that solar is not a direct competitor to Hinkley. The UK needs baseload and it needs winter energy more than summer energy. Nuclear is means to provide baseload. Solar is means to shave some daytime peaks.

            Loan guarantees are of high value to the builders, but of low cost to the government and tax payers. The reason for this apparent paradox is not only that the guarantees makes the financing cheaper and the project less likely to fail. More importantly, they give the state a more clear stake in the success of the project, which removes a lot of the political risk.

            9c median!? Was that a typo? If not, I’m interested in sources.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Worth more in spot markets? Come on. Nuclear is going to be worth peanuts to the grid when the wind is howling but the grid will have to accept 100% of the nuclear output and pay full price for it. Cheaper wind will have to be curtailed. That’s the contract.

            The price of wind and solar is going to keep falling. The spread between the cost of wind/solar and 15c Hinkley will widen (Hinkley price adjusts up with inflation). You need to get a handle on the financials.

            Our oldest solar array is now about 40 years old and at age 35 was outputting over 96% power as when new. We’ve got one nuclear reactor in the US that might make it to 50 and it will be closed down than year if not sooner. Repair costs to keep it going longer are too high.

            ​”Nuclear is means to provide baseload”

            Making a statement like that indicates that you do not understand how grids operate.

            There is no need for always-on “baseload” generation. There is simply a need to supply demand when it occurs.

            We talk about ‘baseload’ because we built our grids around cumbersome plants that needed to run at full speed all the time. We developed a mindset that kept us thinking in that vein while it was simply an artifact of the tools we had at the time.

            “Solar is means to shave some daytime peaks.”

            That’s wrong. Totally.

            “Loan guarantees are of high value to the builders, but of low cost to the govern ment and tax payers”

            That demonstrates a lack of understanding of insurance. Accepting risk has a cost.



            The max, which I didn’t add in is 12.7c/kWh. Fixed operating costs for at least one US nuclear reactor. And that is operating costs. It does not include capex, finex or profits. Just the fixed cost to keep the reactor running.

          • berra

            “Worth more in spot markets? Come on.”

            I don’t understand why you are disputing this. It’s already a reality and the logic is obvious, is it not? Wind hurts wind the most, since its hourly production volumes is highly correlated to its effects on the spot price. Wind hurts other power much less, because other powers’ hourly production volumes is uncorrelated to wind’s effect on the spot price. That’s why wind fetch worse average spot prices.

            “The spread between the cost of wind/solar and 15c Hinkley will widen”

            Yes, and so will the spread in value of electricity, to Hinkley’s advantage. But we can agree Hinkley is a bad deal in general, but that has little to do with wind and solar.

            “Our oldest solar array is now about 40 years old and at age 35 was outputting over 96% power as when new.”

            Isn’t that typical survivor bias? Also, tech and production quality has changed since then. Who knows how the Chinese panels of recent years will perform in 20 years from now?

            “There is no need for always-on “baseload” generation. There is simply a need to supply demand when it occurs.”

            There is always a base demand, and that’s what baseload supplies. Solar and wind does not. They sometimes supply virtually nothing and needs to be transformed to baseload by some dispatchable source. (With the exception on some small amount of solar, that can be used to shave daytime peaks.)

            “That demonstrates a lack of understanding of insurance. Accepting risk has a cost.”

            I just explained why that cost is very small compared to the value to the builders.

            “The max, which I didn’t add in is 12.7c/kWh. Fixed operating costs for at least one US nuclear reactor.”

            You misinterpret the OPENEI data. That’s dollars per KW, not per MWh. So nuclear’s fixed cost is median $90/KW, which given 7900 full load hours per year gives a contribution of 1c.

            I don’t want to rub it in, but your critical thinking really failed you here. If the median fixed O&M was 9c, nuclear would go out of business immediately.

          • Jenny Sommer


            Here is what you want?

            Now here are the assumptions under this is working.
            – no significant amount of electricity available from imports, CCS, biomass, biogas or solar and no significant amount of energy storage capacity.
            -massive curtailing of wind to protect nuclear.
            -20GW of £5000/kw@90%cf steady nuclear.
            -2013 wind cf.

            Here are the problems.
            -there will be imports.
            -there won’t be in 20GW £5000/kw, let alone @90%cf.
            -there will be biomass and any other kind of RE.
            -this complete market design is in violation of EU-law.
            -wind will run @40%-60%cf and there will already be more wind installed by the time nuclear could even reach 20GW. No way anybody would invest in nuclear then (or today).

            BTW…the EU is not Turkey or some rich dictatorship. If China can still built nuclear remains to be seen. If they can meet safety standards is very doubtful. They can’t even manage escalators and elevators…this is scary. When you travel with the sub in Shanghai there are stations where 4 of 5 escalators are out of order routinely.

            Nuclear power is still a very expensive distraction.

          • berra

            Regarding Euans graphs: I think wind is not very attractive in such a grid. Better to push nuclear to 30 GW and use solar, hydro and NG to handle peaks.

            China has started three reactors this year and South Korea one. China also started construction of Hongyanhe 5 in March this year and also number 6 a few days ago, as well as Fuqing 5 in May. I’m sorry you don’t like Chinese escalators.

            A week ago, South Korea released its updated 15 year-plan and has reaffirmed and slightly increased its nuclear program by aiming to go from 24 to 35 reactors until 2029. It is dropping four coal fired plants in the plan as a result.

            Japan is set to restart a few reactors and South Africa has started shopping for nuclear. And so on.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do you realize that you’re having to use only a couple of countries to bolster your position while the rest of the world is turning to renewables?
            France, the not long nuclear golden boy, is preparing to close a lot of their reactors and replace them with renewables. Europe, in general, is leaving nuclear behind. The only places in the US that nuclear is being built are in two of our most backward states.

          • berra

            14 countries have active nuclear reactor construction. 29 countries are planning new reactors. These countries produce the vast majority of global electricity.

            Your comment about backward states is interesting. I hadn’t thought about it before, but it seems to me that the rest of the world is not turning to renewables. It is rather the progressive affluent areas with saturated electricity markets that are doing semi-significant (per-capita) amounts of intermittent renewables as a fashion statement of sorts. Resisting nuclear is a part of the package, unfortunately.

            However, where there is real need for expanded energy or if your energy resources dwindle (as in the UK), you go for fossils short-term while you try to expand nuclear power medium-term.

          • Bob_Wallace

            berra, try as you might to argue otherwise, nuclear is dying. It’s a prolonged death but the path is clear.

            Without some sort of an amazing breakthrough that greatly lowers the price of nuclear energy there is no way for nuclear to survive.

            It’s simply economics. The price of renewables continues to fall. Storage is already affordable and expected to fall in price. It will take a little while for the most obtuse to get the message but the numbers no longer work for nuclear and the numbers will only get worse.

          • berra

            Throughout this thread, I feel that I have been able to disprove your claims about costs in all areas (nuclear/renewables/storage) using your own links. You have barely blinked and I have this sinking feeling you’ll keep using the same heavily biased numbers in the next discussion. But sure, it’s possible that I’m obtuse. We’ll just have to see how it all unfolds.

            My crystal ball up to 2030 says that renewables will keep rising and that solar will have impressive growth a few more years, but that it will stabilize at an unsatisfactory level just as wind is doing. Storage will go nowhere. Nuclear will decline in Western Europe and North America while slowly picking up pace in the rest of the world, lead by Asia and by Asian competition for exports.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “It’s already a reality and the logic is obvious, is it not? Wind hurts wind the most, since its hourly production volumes is highly correlated to its effects on the spot price. Wind hurts other power much less”

            berra, the price of nuclear energy is predicated on the reactor running as much of 24/365 as possible (assumed 90%).

            The survival of a nuclear reactor depends on its being able to sell its output – on average – for total annual costs / total annual production.

            Put a new reactor and a new wind farm of equal output online. Or one of our paid off reactors with above average operating expenses along with a new wind farm.

            The new reactor needs 12+ c/kWh, on average, to avoid bankruptcy.

            The paid off reactor needs somewhere above 5 c/kWh, on average, to avoid bankruptcy.

            That wind farm will be able to sell power for close to 0 c/kWh and still make money due to subsidies. Without subsidies the wind farm will be able to sell for about 2 c/kWh, use 1c to cover opex and pocket the other penny.

            When wind is setting the market price nuclear has no option but to underbid wind in order to avoid shutting down.

            A few hours at 0 c/kWh and losses pile up. Now the reactor has to earn something much higher than 5 or 12 cents in order to cover the loss. If the wind blows 50% of the time the required price for nuclear doubles.

            As the price of nuclear rises natural gas, solar and stored wind/solar become more competitive. Nuclear loses more market. Has to sell at a ridiculous amount to stay out of the red.

            Nuclear is in a terrible position. It’s already expensive and as other suppliers drop below in price nuclear simply can’t find a market that will pay enough to cover its annual expenses.

            You notice how the Chinese won’t build Hinkley Point unless they are guaranteed that they will be able to sell every single kWh they produce?
            That’s because it’s apparent to all that the market is not going to pay that extreme amount if it has the opportunity to purchase elsewhere.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Copying down –

            “Our oldest solar array is now about 40 years old and at age 35 was outputting over 96% power as when new.”

            Isn’t that typical survivor bias? Also, tech and production quality has changed since then. Who knows how the Chinese panels of recent years will perform in 20 years from now?

            It may be survivor bias, but I can find no information about older panels that have died.

            Remember, 40 years ago panels were extremely expensive. Few were installed aside from on satellites.

            There are several reports of 25 and 30 year old panels still performing at close to new output. I’ve not seen a single report of an older panel putting out only 30%, 40%, 50%. I would think if someone had one they would have reported, but there’s a chance they haven’t.

            There is one long term study (20? 25 years?) which involved a very large (for the time) array. Over the length of the study they reported a 2% panel failure due to delamination and terminal corrosion. But the 98% surviving panels maintained a very high output rate.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “I don’t want to rub it in, but your critical thinking really failed you here.”

            You are correct. I misread kW as kWh.

            I suspect that happened because I know that the operating cost of several paid off US nuclear plants is 5 c/kWh or higher, looked at the raw numbers and lept.

            Kewaunee opex was running around 5c/kWh which is why it was closed.

          • berra

            Ok, but any reactor that is at 5c is having either MAJOR disturbances in operation, unreasonable tax/fee burdens or is not really paid off. Run-of-the-mill opex is <2c.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t know of a database that lists opex for individual nuclear plants.

            The NYT reported a couple years back that about one fourth of US reactors had higher opex and were in danger of closing. Those plants seemed to be largely single reactor sites. Plants with multiple reactors are able to spread many costs across those reactors.


            They did an update later…


            The reactors that have <2c opex are probably going to be able to hang on as they don't encounter a large repair or refurbishing bill.

            But, let's remember, new nuclear plants have capex and finex costs to cover. They cannot compete.

          • berra

            This sounds good and I hope it holds true for current panels.

          • berra

            “berra, the price of nuclear energy is predicated on the reactor running as much of 24/365 as possible (assumed 90%).”

            You’re talking about average cost, while I’m talking about average price. I maintain that nuclear will fetch a far better average price in the spot markets, whenever wind reach significant penetration. That is because wind affects price on windy days and outcompetes itself. Wind power is therefore of less value than nuclear power.

            “The new reactor needs 12+ c/kWh, on average,”

            If you average the two Hinkley reactors and assume it actually needs the strike price to not go broke.

            “The paid off reactor needs somewhere above 5 c/kWh, on average, to avoid bankruptcy.”

            Your openei link doesn’t support that. It puts median nuclear fixed + variable O&M at $90.02 + $0.56/KW and which translates to 1.1 c/kWh @ 90% CF. Wind is at $34 + $12/KW, which translates to 1.3 c/kWh @ 40% CF.

            Add to this that nuclear power has higher average value in the spot markets, you’ll see that paid off nuclear is clearly a more valuable asset than paid off wind with the same average energy output.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “You’re talking about average cost, while I’m talking about average price. I maintain that nuclear will fetch a far better average price in the spot markets, whenever wind reach significant penetration.”

            Cost is what must be covered. Price determines whether cost is or is not covered.

            If wind sets a very low price for a number of hours per day then nuclear needs a very high price on the spot market to make up for the wind-hours loss.

            Solar will take away a lot of those recovery hours.

            Natural gas and storage will take the rest.

            New nuclear cannot compete on price against anything except, perhaps, new coal. Wind and solar will take the market when they are available and there are multiple highly dispatchable sources that will grab the remainder.

            “”The new reactor needs 12+ c/kWh, on average,”

            If you average the two Hinkley reactors and assume it actually needs the strike price to not go broke.”

            Citigroup calculated 11c/kWh for the Vogtle plants. Since that math was done an additional two years of delays at $2 million per day have been announced. This pushes the cost to at least 13c/kWh.

            The turnkey bids for Ontario and San Antonio would have resulted in 18 to 20c/kWh electricity had they been accepted.

            The turnkey bid for Turkey nuclear was 22c/kWh.

            There have been no builds or bids in the western world for less than 12c/kWh. But nuclear would not be competitive at 9.5c/kWh that the EIA project for “Advanced Nuclear” in 2020.

            With no subsidies wind is under 4c/kWh and falling. Solar is around 6.5c/kWh and falling. Natural gas is around 6.5/kWh. Those three sources can furnish 24/365 power at less than 9.5c/kWh.

            This is very simple math, berra.

            The average of 4 + 6.5 + 6.5 < 9.5 or 11 or 12 or 15.

          • berra

            You’re absolutely right that natural gas will carry the day and that’s what I’ve been saying all along. We’re fully agreed that new nuclear under the current regulatory and political framework in the US cannot compete with fracked gas extended by wind and solar.

            Were it not for fossil fuels, however, intermittent power couldn’t compete with nuclear, due to the price effects I mentioned. Wind and solar would outcompete themselves and nuclear would be able to recover costs by extreme prices when the is little wind and sun. It’s quite obvious, really – dispatchable power + intermittent power -> baseload. If there is no NG, wind and solar cannot compete in the baseload arena.

            For the UK, however, it comes down to willingness and ability to use domestic or foreign NG. Apparently, the Brits are either unsure of future NG availability or unwilling to base their future electricity production on it, considering the climate and such.

          • Jenny Sommer

            The frequent “extreme prices” would never be enough to recover cost. Everybody would seek ways around those and they will never happen.

            -Undersea cables to cheap hydro power.
            -Demand curtailment.
            -Syngas and biomass.
            -bigger blades, lidar and underated turbines push cfs to 60%.
            -New PuH.
            -Isotropic storage

            Everything cheaper than nuclear reactors with a cf around 20-25%…

            Someone would go for the KiteGen and the hydraulic rock storage. Maybe that is what the UK should have invested in in the first place.

          • berra

            Assuming high-penetration wind and solar comes first by heavy subsidies, the reactors would not have a CF of 20-25%, but rather 50%, but they would successively outcompete wind and solar and get better CF.

            Assuming nuclear comes first, high-penetration wind and solar is obviously not economically viable.

            What you present is what I call the fallacy of many (not sure it has a recognised name). While it may sound good, many uneconomic and hard-to-scale options does not improve much over just one option that you don’t want.

          • Jenny Sommer

            But over nuclear any time.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If reactors get built they will likely be given a clear track to run 24/365 (CF 90%) as Hinkley is demanding. No one is going to build a reactor and run it at half speed, turning 11 cent electricity into 22 c/kWh electricity.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “It’s quite obvious, really – dispatchable power + intermittent power -> baseload. ”

            You got that right. Except for using the word “baseload”. Let’s pitch that out and rewrite your formula as –

            Dispatchable power + intermittent power -> demand met.

            Now let’s look at the source of the dispatchable power. What sources do we have?

            1) Natural gas
            2) Hydro
            3) Biogas
            4) Storage

            I put NG first in the list because that is mainly what we are using now. NG and hydro.

            But as we continue to green our grid it’s almost certain that we will fade out NG as we fade in storage. It’s already happening.

            Then price. The UK can’t seem to get anyone to build them new nuclear for less than 15c/kWh (US cents).

            Fifteen cents cannot compete against wind + solar + tidal + biofuels + storage. The price of offshore wind will continue to fall. Scotland will likely supply more onshore wind. Solar will keep getting cheaper.

            Nuclear won’t survive barring an unforeseen breakthrough that lower the cost to well under 10c/kWh. And to take the price of a mature technology down by over one third would require a major breakthrough.

            I can’t pull UK numbers up quickly but let me give you US prices.

            Onshore wind < 4c/kWh (unsubsidized).

            PV solar ~ 6c/kWh (unsubsidized).

            Pump-up hydro storage ~ 5c/kWh.

            Nuclear, I'll use a very generous 11c/kWh. And that's a subsidized "hopeful" price.

            Take any combination of 4c wind, 6c solar and 5c storage and see if you can make it work out to more than 11c.

            And, as you say, a combination of intermittent wind and solar along with dispatchable storage meets demand.

          • berra

            baseload + a little dispatchable -> demand met
            intermittent + a helluvalot dispatchable -> demand met

            That’s why the word baseload has important meaning. It says something about, well, the base load which a continuous power source is ideally suited to cover.

            Nuclear can’t compete in the US because of fossils, especially NG. The Brits doubt their NG availability and feels they need to take action. Thus nuclear and not only renewables. At one point, you called that “stupid” by I don’t think the British government planners are stupid, nor corrupt. They act rationally in the face of a perceived need, since they know intermittent power won’t suffice.

            You talk give US figures but UK solar resources is lousy and winter is the time of its highest demand. You talk about storage happening but in fact it is not, and if it was, it wouldn’t help the UK much since it has to rely on wind rather than solar, and batteries will only help solar.

            You keep giving happy numbers for your favourites and pessimistic numbers for nuclear, you refuse to acknowledge nuclear’s higher value and that nuclear can be made cheaper through learning effects and streamlined red tape. I don’t think we’ll go further in this discussion, so I’ll leave you with the last word, if you like. Thanks for the exchange.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Baseload is a meaningless term that was used when talking about the old grid. It meant the minimum demand over a period of time. Utilities could determine their minimum demand and use always-on generation (coal or nuclear) to cover that minimum, then worry about how to load match everything above the minimum.

            Always on is “suited” to cover the minimum. Not for any reason that makes it golden for the min.

            It makes no difference whether the < min is met by something that runs all hours or whether it's met by a combination of intermittent and storage/dispatchable. The only thing that is important is that the < min can be covered and then we move on to the next issue – cost.

            Now, please don't tell me nuclear can be made cheaper. I've been hearing that since the 1970s and the price just keeps rising.

            And don't blame on regs unless you can specify exactly which regs and how much they add to the build cost.

          • berra

            “And don’t blame on regs unless you can specify exactly which regs and how much they add to the build cost.”

            Is that really a reasonable requirement? I’m appealing to common sense here. Again, what would be an alternate explanation?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, that is a very reasonable requirement.

            We’ve seen nuclear advocates blame the high cost of nuclear energy on regulations for years. Have you seen a single list of specific regulations which are a) unnecessary and b) drive up the cost of nuclear energy?

            Common sense tells us that if a claim is repeatedly made over years yet no regulations are identified what we are probably dealing with is an “urban myth”.

            It’s time to either prove your claim or cease making it.

          • berra

            I think I’ll keep stating the obvious until someone comes up with some counter-argument other than “prove it”. Which regulations are “unnecessary” is open for debate, at least until the climate is beyond repair. (My take is that they are all unnecessary.)

            The nuclear issue is really fascinating. We couldn’t design a more interesting social experiment if we wanted to: Trigger humans fears of losing control, of invisible dangers, of sudden large-scale catastrophe, but make sure the actual average damage done is negligible. Test if they can behave rationally by creating a creeping civilization-killer chain-of-events that can only be avoided by accepting science and choosing the lesser danger. To make it more interesting, put up a string of contenders that are inadequate but feels really good through their appeal-to-nature and small scale. See what they do.

            So far, it doesn’t look too good for humanity. I can only hope the climate change won’t be as bad as current science predicts.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, so you believe that it is unnecessary to regulate nuclear energy. That companies should be free to build as they like, not bothering to do seismic studies, install backup and safety systems, provide security if they don’t feel like doing so.

            I think that qualifies you for the nutcase bin.

          • berra

            That’s fine – then I’m proudly resting here in the nutcase bin. (I guess that’s the difference between liberals/socialists and others. Liberals just can’t imagine anything will work, not even common sense or self-preservation, if the government doesn’t force it upon the greedy, greedy companies.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            Liberals do understand that nuclear works. But most understand that nuclear is a more expensive option than renewable energy. And that nuclear brings a unique form of danger into our lives which we don’t have to accept.
            Liberals pay attention to all the crap that corporations have done and realize how much more would be done if we didn’t gather together to police them. (Our gathering together = government.)

            As the old saying goes “Reality has a well-known liberal bias”.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You leave out storage.

            Wind + solar + pump-up hydro gives both the US and UK cheaper electricity than nuclear + pump-up hydro.

            In the US there has been a big move from coal to NG due to the low price of NG plus very clear signals that the least efficient coal plants were going to come under pressure to close.

            Now we’ve got a lot of NG capacity and no price on carbon so it makes sense to use wind and solar to displace NG and save fuel.

            The US essentially quit building reactors in the mid to late 1970s. After enough time passed we lost track of why. It was the cost.

            Now we’re building a few new ones and relearning history. The UK is also getting a first hand lesson, your government apparently isn’t able to look across the Channel and see France walking nuclear back due to cost.

            I think what we’re watching is the last death twitch of the nuclear industry in the West.

          • berra

            Wasn’t gonna answer, but my fingers are twitching, I guess.

            “Wind + solar + pump-up hydro gives both the US and UK cheaper electricity than nuclear + pump-up hydro.”

            No, it doesn’t. Solar is more expensive and of less value than nuclear in the UK (low solar insolation and in the wrong season) so that’s out. Pumped hydro doesn’t help wind, since the timescales of variation are too long in relation to the reservoir sizes.

            “Now we’ve got a lot of NG capacity and no price on carbon so it makes sense to use wind and solar to displace NG and save fuel.”

            Definitely, for the US. That’s what intermittent power does: it saves some NG.

            “The US essentially quit building reactors in the mid to late 1970s. After enough time passed we lost track of why. It was the cost.”

            Due to a flurry of regulation.

            “France walking nuclear back due to cost.”

            Rather due to getting a socialist government. Renewables are very fashionable with the progressives.

            “I think what we’re watching is the last death twitch of the nuclear industry in the West.”

            I kindof agree, actually. But it’s not for the right reasons and it’s to the continuing detriment of the climate. And probably it will be resurrected eventually, when Asia has shown the way.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You probably shouldn’t have responded. At least until you had given it a bit more thought.

            “Wind + solar + pump-up solar” does not mean huge amounts of solar, it means appropriate amounts of solar. And solar does fairly well along the southern edge of the UK. Clearly less solar and more wind than in the US is where the UK is going.

            “Pumped hydro doesn’t help wind, since the timescal es of variation are too long in relation to the reservoir sizes.”

            Too long in terms of present reservoirs, perhaps. The solution is to use larger reservoirs.

            You continue to blame the cost of nuclear energy on “regulations”. That is a very common charge used by nuclear advocates. Yet none of you is able to point out which regulations could be removed without endangering the public and how much money removing them would save.

            Until we see specific regulations listed the “over regulated” claim has no validity.

            France, I suppose you missed the news.

            “Production costs from the existing fleet are heading higher over the medium-term,” France’s Cour des Comptes said in a report to parliament published today.

            The report, which updates findings in a January 2012 report, said that in 2012 the Court calculated the cost of production of the current fleet for 2010, which amounted to EUR 49.5 per megawatt-hour.

            Using the same method for the year 2013 the cost was EUR 59.8/MWh, an increase of 20.6 percent over three years.


            EUR 59.8 = $81.37 About $0.08/kWh.

            France is moving to renewables based on economics. The existing fleet is too expensive to continue using. Building new plants would mean even more expensive electricity.

          • berra

            “appropriate amounts of solar”

            Which is zero in the UK. Too expensive and seasonally mismatched.

            “The solution is to use larger reservoirs.”

            No, it’s not. Relevant sizes would drive cost and environmental impact far, far beyond what is feasible.

            “Yet none of you is able to point out which regulations could be removed without endangering the public and how much money removing them would save.”

            This is both incorrect and unreasonable at the same time. But please start here for some information:

            heading higher over the medium-term

            “Production costs from the existing fleet are heading higher over the medium-term”

            Of course. France has been starting to overdo regulation as well. But their costs are still extremely cheap compared to what Germany et al is doing in renewables.

            “France is moving to renewables based on economics.”

            Not at all. It was all politics of socialist Francois Hollande. But they are not pushing through. Instead they are going towards lifetime extensions to 60 years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, UK solar is not zero. Will not be zero. If you want to comment then do not post things which are easily proven to be incorrect.

            “”The solution is to use larger reservoirs.”

            No, it’s not. Relevant sizes would drive cost and environmental impact far, far beyond what is feasible.”

            That comment makes no sense. PuHS cost per kWh stored decreases with increase in reservoir size. The environmental impact is not large. Less than building a golf course.

            ” France has been starting to overdo regulation as well. But their costs are still extremely cheap compared to what Germany et al is doing in renewables.”

            France recently admitted that electricity from its existing, paid off, reactors now costs about 8c/kWh. And that it would be cheaper to install renewables than to refurbish at least some of their older reactors.

            France has just announced that they intend to install a significant amount of offshore wind capacity. They are seeking bids for floating wind farms.

          • berra

            “No, UK solar is not zero. Will not be zero. If you want to comment then do not post things which are easily proven to be incorrect.”

            Even you should be able to acknowledge that I’ve been well informed all along, so if you see a glaring error you might want to reread to see if, in fact, the error doesn’t lie in your interpretation. You talked about the appropriate amount, and I said that is zero. Very different from claiming the actual deployed amount is zero.

            “PuHS cost per kWh stored decreases with increase in reservoir size.”

            What about kWh delivered? And do you have links supporting that?

            “The environmental impact is not large. Less than building a golf course.”

            Tell that to the million Chinese displaced by the Three Gorges Dam, which produce the equivalent of 8 Hinkley-type reactors.

            “France recently admitted that electricity from its existing, paid off, reactors now costs about 8c/kWh.”

            No, that’s projected lifetime electricity costs. Not paid-off run-rate.

            “France has just announced that they intend to install a significant amount of offshore wind capacity. They are seeking bids for floating wind farms.”

            Which proves their rationale is not costs.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Your claiming that the appropriate amount of solar for the UK is zero does not make it so.

            You might wish to read the current piece about properly valuation of solar.


            “What about kWh delivered?”

            Increasing reservoir size will have some upward impact on the cost of kWh delivered for short term storage but should average out much less when evaluated against peaking generation savings.

            “No, that’s projected lifetime electricity costs. Not paid-off run-rate.”

            No, it’s paid-off run-rate. Pay close attention to the first six words of the following quote.

            “Production costs from the existing fleet are heading higher over the medium-term,” France’s Cour des Comptes said in a report to parliament published today.

            The report, which updates findings in a January 2012 report, said that in 2012 the Court calculated the cost of production of the current fleet for 2010, which amounted to EUR 49.5 per megawatt-hour.

            Using the same method for the year 2013 the cost was EUR 59.8/MWh, an increase of 20.6 percent over three years.


            “Which proves their rationale is not costs.”

            No, it proves that you are too biased to accept that nuclear is not “the” answer.

            France has aging out reactors. Their option is to either pay to refurbish them for extended use which will add to the 8c/kWh current production cost or to move to renewables.

            France apparently sees offshore floaters as being a promising way to bring replacement capacity to their grid.

          • nakedChimp

            care to have a number there and some background for us to look at what Germany has given out as subsidies please?

        • Bristolboy

          Technically it’s not the EU but the European commission. They have to approve things like this to ensure free and fair markets, free trade etc.

          • Larmion

            Since the EC is the executive branch of the EU, both are correct.

            Saying ‘EC’ instead of ‘EU’ is like saying ‘Westminster decided’ instead of ‘the UK decided’

    • Larmion

      The EU does not directly subsidise any source of energy, although some grants are available for key infrastructure projects like cross border transmission lines.

      Look at the EU’s puny budget. Do you honesty believe it could subsidise a project like Hinkley C?

      • berra

        This year the EU budget is 140 billion euro, so it could.

        • Larmion

          From that 140 billion, 15 billion is needed to fund the EU itself (its staff, buildings and so on). That leaves 105 billion to divide over 28 member states and a dizzying array of competences.

          Seriously. We all complain about a bloated EU, yet its annual budget is only slightly more than the subsidy pot one member state allocates to one power plant. If anything, the EU is vastly underfunded relative to its huge responsabilities. I’ve worked on EU projects and their budgets were consistently far below what was needed to achieve the set objectives (we got top ups from national governments though).

  • Dag Johansen

    Why is the UK government slashing subsidies for solar and wind but giving massive subsidies to nuclear?

    • berra

      The brits are understandably worried about dwindling gas resources and quite old nuclear plants. They need to build a stable and dependable power supply. Germany is basing its renewable adventure on a stable base of lignite, basically kicking the can down the road. The UK is simply in a worse position and feels it has to act now.

      • JamesWimberley

        So the answer to an immediate energy supply problem is to commission a plant which may, if all goes well (hollow laugh), produce power in 2023?

        • berra

          I’m not sure why you interpreted what I wrote as “immediate”. It may turn out that Hinkley is rather timely. If not, better late than never.

        • eveee

          If it gets built at all.

          • Ross

            It getting built seems unlikely. £100 billion isn’t a small wad of cash. The objections are bound to continue.

          • eveee

            I don’t know. I keep wanting to believe its an albatross. Everything says its completely unworkable. What is really tragic is that its going to cost way too much while the Torys are bleeping about getting rid of wind subsidies.
            I mean with all the EU EPRs abject failures, and Areva and EDF out of cash, what are they thinking?

          • eveee

            Love to see the Torys explain how this is going to save money.

          • Richard Foster

            They won’t – Amber Rudd has already muttered the “it’s not intermittent” mumbo-jumbo card…

    • Brett


    • Jenny Sommer


      Same that’s keeping nuclear alive in Asia.

    • Jacob

      The only reasons I can think of are corruption or incompetence.

    • mike_dyke

      I can see one reason in getting rid of RE subsidies. We’ve all been complaining here that the FF industry has had too many subsidies over the years. These subsidies started off supporting an industry and should have been removed years ago when the industry matured.

      Solar/Wind has matured enough that the government thinks that it can stand on it’s own feet without any help so it is removing those subsidies (it was going to remove them anyway in 2016 – they’ve just done it a year early).
      Think of a parent taking off the stabilisers on a child’s first bike – Once done, there’s a short period of extra wobbling but it soon passes and the child is soon riding all over the place. The FF industry is like a child who managed to persuade the parent that they still need stabilisers – they can never ride like the RE child and are losing in all the races they have between the two.

      • nakedChimp

        this assumes too much reason and not enough reality 😉

        • mike_dyke

          True. I forgot we were talking about politicians. 🙂

      • Matt

        Mike, but UK isn’t taking away the FF direct subsides, or indirect subsides or charging for externals. So the “new” industry must stand on its own while the 100 (oil/coal/NG) and 50(nuclear) is still needs support. What is it old age support?

        • mike_dyke

          Let’s get out my crystal ball and look to what I hope is the future… As RE takes over from FF, the amount of FF required reduces until RE is the only one generating electricity (which doesn’t need subsidies). As FF reduces due to coming to the end of life, less subsidy is required and hence the politicians can get rid of the subsidies gradually without upsetting their paymasters/supporters directly.

    • nakedChimp

      I Hinkley able to produce material for nuclear weapons?
      It’s the only big reason I can see for this being pushed through all the hoops and loops against economic reason.

      • Ross

        Can’t see why. They’ve got enough nukes already to take out whatever continent they park Trident off the coast of.

  • Bristolboy

    The Austrian and Luxemburg governments have also lodged legal action against the subsidies.

    The same design has also been used in Sweden, France and China but in all these countries the plants are yet to generate and construction is taking a lot longer than expected. The latest estimates of the construction of the Swedish project is 13 years and France 10 years, with key safety critical components recently found to have a flaw which could add even longer to the build program.

    EDF are the company to build Hinkley, with some major components to be provided by Areva. However, both companies are heavily in debt and unable to cheaply borrow money on the markets. The threat of legal action, and recent uncertainty in the UK energy markets caused by the changing of support for renewable energy just adds further risk.

    Furthermore, yesterday a former energy minister for the Conservative party (the party currently in power) said that this project was one of the “worst deals ever”. To make matters worse for the government, he also happens to be the the father-in-law of George Osborne, arguably the second most powerful man in government.

    Some limited construction had started, however, in about April 2015 all work stopped and 400 people were sacked as EDF did not want to commit to further expenditure. This is not the actions a company committed to the project would be expected to take.

    Despite all this, the British government still maintain Hinkley will be generating by 2023!

    • berra

      Sweden is not involved. You’re thinking of Finland.

      • Bristolboy

        You are correct, all the rest stands though!

    • Keith

      I also read recently that EDF have just tested the steel pressure vessel that was for Hinkley point C, which will now take another 2 – 3 years to build new one.

      • Bristolboy

        Exactly, that was the “safety critical components” I alluded to above!

    • Richard Foster

      And yet they’ve cut subsidies for wind already. Now solar (

      Rudd said the changes were “protecting existing investment” – read between the lines – these policies are all about protecting the interests of Tory party donors and cronies – both in the nuclear and fracking industries.

      It’s a complete scandal.

      On top of this, they’ve now scrapped the “green deal” (which wasn’t working, but still the point stands) – this means the number of government policies aiming to reduce CO2 emissions are now..errr….zero.

      • Richard Foster

        Stupidly though, if their aim is to “stop” solar and wind. It won’t work. All it will do is slow it down (economics will be driven by China and the US, India etc), but since they are already either at a par with FF or lower (or nearly so), they will win out in the end.
        All that will happen is higher energy bills (since we’re subsidising highly expensive forms i.e. Hinkley of energy generation). And then expensive follies as in 10 years (just as Hinkley comes online), as Solar and Wind dominate.

        The only sensible thing the Tories have done is give the go-ahead to the Swansea tidal barrier. And they’ve only done that because they hate distributed power and like controllable centralised generation.

        • Bristolboy

          In terms of large scale onshore wind there will be a large number of projects built under the renewable obligation up until 2017. There are then about 750MW of onshore wind supported under Contract for Difference up until 2019. After 2019 there should be some projects which can compete without subsidy and as wholesale electricity prices continue their long-term upward path more and more sites will become competitive.

          Utility solar may struggle for quite some time without subsidy, however, solar “behind the meter” will be a good financial decision for some. At present with feed in tariffs the payback period can be as low as 4 years (assuming all generated power is used on-site), even if the FiT is completely removed the geberation payback period will still be about 6-7

      • berra

        Fracking industries rather like intermittent renewables, which they know guarantees business. Gas doesn’t like nuclear, though. Also, the number of government policies aiming to reduce CO2 emissions are now at least one, since Hinkley does just that.

        • Richard Foster

          Well given that an optimistic start date for Hinkley is likely to be something around 2028, I think that might be classed as zero, in the short term.

          “intermittent” renewables are negatively correlated though – how many days in the UK without wind or sun. Not that many.

          And by 2020, storage options will be kicking in.

          Hinkley stands to generate 3.2GW only. For the cost of it and the subsidy cost, I reckon we’d quite easily build 10x that solar PV, onshore and offshore wind as a package that would continuously generate more than 3.2GW….

          • Jenny Sommer

            You should contact KiteGen.They say they can built a 5GW windplant (70%-80%CF) for 1.5b€.
            The 100b would buy you 333GW.

          • Matt

            Interesting since they did a prototype in 2006. The did a production model that was ready to test in 2012. And then no updates on the web site. Three years and no news, this is not a case of “no news is good news”. Sorry the translation of newer news I can find is hard to read, but looks like it was taken down this year.

          • Jenny Sommer

            They are still working.
            Just showed the new kitewing 2 month ago. There is also the K-Bus.

          • Matt

            Could be, but again I don’t see updates on the KiteGen site. Maybe they just need a material break thru to that the very long cable will weigh less.

          • berra

            Well, for Greenpeace estimates of nuclear subsidies, you can buy anything and his grandmother, but such a package would be vastly more expensive than the actual overnight cost of building Hinkley.

            Also, the Hinkley costs are taken partly to restart the British nuclear industry, burn a path through untested bureacracy and create a nuclear supply chain, allowing lower costs for subsequent projects.

            As I don’t like the current chickenrace against the climate that is based on the adamant belief that, for instance, “storage options will be kicking in”, I’m somewhat encouraged that Britain and some others are also investing in a proven solution.

          • eveee

            Can you say “PowerWall”? There is a revolution in the storage industry. The cost has come way down.

          • berra

            Powerwall is insanely expensive and is far from revolutionizing.

          • eveee

            Define that and explain your statement. Compared to what exactly.
            Please explain how 810 million in sales in 7 days is BAU.
            Please explain how 610 million in sales to utilities is BAU.

          • eveee

            “$250 / kwh appears to be cheap enough to replace natural gas peakers and motivate hundreds of gigawatt hours of deployment across the US.”

            “This is a potential huge impact on utilities, the power grid, and electricity markets.”



          • berra

            $250/kWh I guess is only the Tesla equipment. Then you need buildings, installation, cooling, grid connections, maintenance and so on.

            Have a look at a 3 MW wind tower. What does it cost? 4 MUSD? If you spend the same amount on Tesla batteries at that price point, you get 16 MWh if you disregard the system costs. So you have 5 hours of storage (if you deep-cycle) with optimistically half the life of the wind installation. That doesn’t help much.

          • eveee

            Cooling? Cooling is built into the PowerPack. Buildings? Not what I see.

            Look at the picture. They are outside. You exaggerate.

            Why are you comparing a wind turbine to battery? Those are two dissimilar things. Better to compare an NG peaker to a battery. There we have the conclusion of Brattle Group and others that batteries at this price are cheaper than NG peakers. There is a reason for 610 million in utility orders in 7 days.


          • Jenny Sommer

            Also transmission is cheaper than nuclear and will lower wholesale prices again.
            Connect the Brits to the EU motherlands and they are faced with 10€/MWh Norwegian power.
            Such an undersea cable is a better investment than any additional capacity.


            If only Europe was one country and one grid…

            The most economical solution still is a paneuropean supergrid. Developing African summerwinds and massive PV resources would also help with boatpeople.
            Energy is the key to everything.

          • Bristolboy

            The price will fall to £89.50/MWh for subsequent projects – hardly a massive saving!

          • berra

            Not subsequent projects. A particular subsequent project. China, Russia and other vendors are also eyeing the British market and have cheaper offerings. If they can build some trust with the quixotic regulatory agency, something can happen. EDF are expected to get a return of up to 35% on equity in this project, so it’s a sweet deal for them. Not likely to be repeated if Britain shows it can build nuclear again.

          • Bristolboy

            Indeed, that may happen, but it is even more in the future and at the moment the first big hurdle is whether Hinkley gets built, requiring massive subsidies.

            It is also worth considering whether the UK government would risk the backlash of getting into bed with Russian or Chinese state owned companies for what is such a high risk (and emotive) generating equipment, especially if doing so will require British bill payers to provide subsidy to these unfriendly states. The Conservatives may consider it to be too politically unpalatable.

          • Larmion

            Hinkley Point C already has the Chinese state nuclear cooperation as a major investor. While not as far reaching as letting them do actual engineering work, it does show that the government (rightly) isn’t averse to Chinese participation.

          • jeffhre

            “the actual overnight cost of building Hinkley” LOL, that’s par? With 13 more years of inflation, cost of money and downward credit ratings…paralleled by 13 years of falling renewable costs with 12 years of rising output at incrementally lower costs.

    • neroden

      Wow. The *father-in-law of George Osborne* has called this one of the “worst deals ever”? EDF is unwilling to commit its own money and is unable to borrow money? I think it’s going to be very hard for Cameron to force this nightmare through.

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