Another one (or more) bites the dust …

Coming back yet again to nuclear power, I’ve been arguing for a while that nuclear power can only work (if at all) on the basis of a single standardised design, and that the only plausible candidate for this is the Westinghouse AP1000. One response from nuclear enthusiasts has been to point to possible future advances beyond the Gen III+ approach embodied by the AP1000 (and less promising competitors like EPR). The two most popular have been Small Modular Reactors and Generation IV (fast) reactors. Recent news suggests that both of these options are now dead.

The news on the Small Modular Reactor is that Babcock and Wilcox, the first firm to be selected by the US Department of Energy to develop a prototype, has effectively mothballed the project, sacking the CEO of its SMR subsidiary and drastically scaling back staff. Westinghouse already abandoned its efforts. There is still one firm left pursuing the idea, and trying (so far unsuccessfully) to attract investors, but there’s no reason to expect success any time soon.

As regards Generation IV, the technology road map issued by the Gen IV International Forum in 2002 has just been updated. All the timelines have been pushed out, mostly by 10 years or more. That is, Gen IV is no closer now than it was when the GenIV initiative started. In particular, there’s no chance of work starting on even a prototype before about 2020, which puts commercial availability well past 2035. Allowing for construction time, there’s no prospect of electricity generation on a significant scale before 2050, by which time we will need to have completely decarbonized the economy.

184 thoughts on “Another one (or more) bites the dust …

  1. Julie – when it comes to the government maybe you have Stockholm syndrome. You should get it checked.

    Where does that belief that others are inherently not to be trusted comes from?

    I think we should trust people to spend their own money and trust people to vacate their homes at a time and in a way of their choosing. Maybe you agree?

  2. Breaking news about Fukushima from Global Research Canada. Backed up by information from the Journal of Radioactivity.

    “We reported in May 2011 that authorities knew – within days or weeks – that all 3 active Fukushima nuclear reactors had melted down, but covered up that fact for months.

    The next month, we reported that Fukushima’s reactors had actually suffered something much worse: nuclear melt-throughs, where the nuclear fuel melted through the containment vessels and into the ground. At the time, this was described as:

    The worst possibility in a nuclear accident.

    But now, it turns out that some of the Fukushima reactors have suffered even a more extreme type of damage: melt-OUTS.

    By way of background, we’ve noted periodically that scientists have no idea where the cores of the nuclear reactors are.

    And that highly radioactive black “dirt” has been found all over Japan.

    It turns out that the highly radioactive black substances are likely remnants of the core.

    The Journals Environmental Science & Technology and Journal of Environmental Radioactivity both found (hat tip EneNews) that the highly radioactive black substances match fuel from the core of the Fukushima reactors.

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission agrees.

    Indeed, “hot particles” with extremely high levels of radiation – 7 billion, 40 billion , and even 40 billion billion Bq/kg – have been found all over the Fukushima region, and hundreds of miles away … in Tokyo.

    Let’s put this in perspective. The Atlantic notes:

    Japanese regulations required nuclear waste with 100 or more bq/kg of Cesium to be monitored and disposed of in specialized containers.


    The new government limit for material headed for landfills is 8000 bq/kg, 80 times the pre-Fukushima limit.

    So the hottest hot particle found so far is 5 million billion times greater than the current government limits of what can be put in a landfill.

    In other words, the core of at least one of the Fukushima reactors has finally been found … scattered all over Japan.

    Nothing like this has ever before happened before.”

    And abstract from “Isotopic Pu, Am and Cm signatures in environmental samples contaminated by the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident”

    “Dust samples from the sides of roads (black substances) have been collected together with litter and soil samples at more than 100 sites contaminated heavily in the 20-km exclusion zones around Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) (Minamisoma City, and Namie, Futaba and Okuma Towns), in Iitate Village located from 25 to 45 km northwest of the plant and in southern areas from the plant. Isotopes of Pu, Am and Cm have been measured in the samples to evaluate their total releases into the environment from the FDNPP and to get the isotopic compositions among these nuclides. For black substances and litter samples, in addition to Pu isotopes, 241Am, 242Cm and 243,244Cm were determined for most of samples examined, while for soil samples, only Pu isotopes were determined. The results provided a coherent data set on 239,240Pu inventories and isotopic composition among these transuranic nuclides. When these activity ratios were compared with those for fuel core inventories in the FDNPP accident estimated by a group at JAEA, except 239,240Pu/137Cs activity ratios, fairly good agreements were found, indicating that transuranic nuclides, probably in the forms of fine particles, were released into the environment without their large fractionations. The obtained data may lead to more accurate information about the on-site situation (e.g., burn-up, conditions of fuel during the release phase, etc.), which would be difficult to get otherwise, and more detailed information on the dispersion and deposition processes of transuranic nuclides and the behavior of these nuclides in the environment.”

  3. LOL Terje who do you imagine is holding me captive? But when it comes to the government it is getting so much easier to find conservatives who are worried about ‘this’ government and what is going on.

    You might be surprised at how many farmers and country people are working out what neo-liberalism really means for our future.

    All people are not equally capable of spending their ‘own’ money responsibly or choosing when to safely evacuate or not. Life is only that simple in Libertarian dreams.

    There are no perfect persons who are capable of being rational and always making the right choice so decisions about trusting people are always dependent on the circumstances.

    Do you think that the capacity of adolescents particularly with regard to high powered cars is trustworthy? And old people who may be getting dementia, do they have the same right to make choices about when to leave their home?

    So are you saying that you do tend to trust people, rather than thinking that they are more likely to be out to rip you off than not?

  4. Do you think that the capacity of adolescents particularly with regard to high powered cars is trustworthy?

    “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” – P. J. O’Rourke

  5. > I think we should trust people to spend their own money and trust people to vacate their homes at a time and in a way of their choosing. Maybe you agree?

    Not in the general case, no. What do you know about coordination algorithms?

  6. An excellent and sober report completely debunking the so-called nuclear renaissance.

    A couple of gems from this report:

    “The nuclear industry is in decline: The 427 operating reactors are 17 lower than the peak in
    in 2002, while, the total installed capacity peaked in 2010 at 375 GWe before declining to
    the current level, which was last seen a decade ago. Annual nuclear electricity generation
    reached a maximum in 2006 at 2,660 TWh, then dropped to 2,346 TWh in 2012 (down 7 percent compared to 2011, down 12 percent from 2006). About three-quarters of this decline is
    due to the situation in Japan but 16 other countries, including the top five nuclear
    generators, decreased their nuclear generation too.”

    “Three of the world’s largest four economies (China, Germany and Japan), together representing a quarter of global GDP, are now running their economies with a higher share of renewables than of nuclear.”

  7. Will Boisvert, you wrote, “But everything is cheaper in India and China…” in response to my mentioning how much solar is being installed for in those countries. If you think this is the case, why have previously insisted that new wind power capacity in China costs about the same as it does in Australia?

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