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what happens when you do not go nuclear

Page history last edited by Andrew Alder 2 years, 10 months ago

A page on energy issues


I claim at Energy reality that the current choice, in practice, is between fossil and nuclear. This investigated in detail at Are nukes economically viable.


This claim is often disputed. Well, I'm eager to learn, as I hope are others.


So this will be a little list of what replaces nuclear power in practice. It's an ongoing area of research, and so I welcome comments and contributions. There's a link below to a form that allows you to contact me with these, or go to contact me.



In practice, closed nuclear power plants have been replaced by either coal or natural gas.


United States


The undamaged Unit 1 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant closed in September 2019, despite being licensed to operate until 2034. It's been replaced by natural gas, because that was cheaper.


Suppliers of natural gas in the US were since then caught dumping radioactive waste from fracking operations on public roads. Even without accounting for the CO2 emissions, if they were required to account for and dispose of this waste to nuclear industry standards, the economics might well be reversed. 


And to stress that, this is even without considering CO2 emissions.


With fiascos like that, the current high cost of nuclear in the USA is meaningless, and will continue to be meaningless until and unless there is a level playing field.


Indian Point

Indian Point, also in New York, was a three-unit station. Unit 1 closed in 1974, replaced by units 2 and 3. Unit 2 closed prematurely in April 2020, owing to "environmental" pressure, and Unit 3 was to suffer the same fate.  


The capacity appears to have been replaced by natural gas, Two new plants have been built, CPV 678 megawatts, Cricket Valley 1,020 megawatts, and a third one upgraded, Bayonne, 120 extra megawatts. 



Germany is closing their nuclear power industry, with the last to close in 2022. Many plants have been closed before their design life, purely because of the desire to "phase out" nuclear power.


They are also closing their older coal fired plants. But these are being replaced by new coal fired plants, the last of which closes in 2038, when it is planned that coal will also be abandoned.


In other words, Germany's current generation of voters and politicians are choosing to continue to continue with massive use of fossil fuel (both coal and gas) while promising that their children will not do so. Does that remind you of what Greta is sayng? It should. 


Obviously, if the nuclear plants had not been closed prematurely, there would be less need for coal, and less CO2 emissions. Germany is still ahead of most countries in meeting emission reduction targets, but that's largely because there was so much room for improvement. 


The closure of their last BWR was understandable following the Fukushima disaster. But the premature closure of a PWR is bizarre. Remember, the main cost of a nuclear plant is building and financing it. Once you've done that, even the greenies admit that the electricity is cheap to produce.


Germany is a major net exporter of electricity, but still has high-cost electricity for its own consumers. Their next generation are losers both ways.



Sweden has prematurely closed several reactors.  


Sweden is a world leader in carbon emission reduction, but has a volatile energy policy, particularly with regard to nuclear power. After a public vote supported a nuclear power phase-out, that was adopted in 1980, to be complete by 2010. However in 2011, with nuclear still a major part of the sector, the parliament decided that older nuclear plants would be replaced by new nuclear capacity. There has been no new public vote but polls suggest that one would overwhelmingly support the continued and even expanded use of nuclear power generation.  It would be very interesting to know more about the rationale behind all of this, but I do not read Swedish. 


Their grid is connected to others, but whether they have imported fossil fuel based power to replace the closed nuclear capacity is difficult to say. It is at least possible.


Watch this space

updates will happen as I find time. 





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