Nuclear power thread


California to close it’s last Nuke plant. Another nail in the coffin. … story.html


So are you ready for the rolling blackouts this summer?

They usually last anywhere between 1 and 3 hours if planned. Up to 6/12 hours if unplanned. You missed the blackouts of 2000/2001 (due to PUC incompetence) and the great West Coast Blackout of 1996 (due to a court mandated water release for salmon on the Columbia River…). In 1996 the power was out for 9 hours in SF. Saying that, it was out for a day and a half in 1989. Next time it will be several weeks because they (activists) shut down the only powergen plant in the City. It seems natural gas power plants cause cancer…

You do know that due to shutting down a lot of ultra reliable base load generating capacity (nuclear and coal) over the last decade and the gross network distortions of very expensive “renewable energy” the CA grid is on the point of total collapse. Thats why they started putting offline the SoCal solar plants last month and keeping the gas plants on permanent spin up. As a desperate last ditch measure to keep the grid stable. The swing demand gas power plants in SoCal are greatly reduced due to the Aliso Canyon debacle (CalEPA’s fault) so SoCal will have major blackouts this year. The large power industrial users have already been warned that the offload agreements will be used this year. A minimum of 14 days of offload.

It will be real fun if it a big Santa Ana year and all those offline big diesel backup generators have to run for days at a time. You can say goodbye to LA basin air quality for the year.

Due to the way the interlinks are arranged SoCal and NorCal are almost two separate grids. But if any of interstate links go down this Fall you can expect extensive multi-hour blackouts in the Bay Area. And if any of the Central Valley power plants have technical problems there will be no SoCal reserve to draw on.

Time to check your earthquake emergency supplies. You do have them, dont you?


Indeed, another nail in the coffin of the Third World Californian grid and power generation capacity. Any disruption to the strained resources would be a disaster. In surprised it hasnt been an attack on the soft target. Simple idiocy to shut nuclear plants with no back up to the grid. The lack of integration into the rest of the grid is also really poor planning


No need for terrorists to attack the infrastructure. When you have the likes of CalEPA, the PUC, the Coastal Commission, the Sierra Club, and the NDRC doing the work for you.

They just pile idiocy upon idiocy.

So they decided to shutdown large chunk of the base load capacity for “environmental reasons”. To replace it they want to use “renewable energy”. Except the only viable base load renewable source is hydro. Which cannot be built due to CalEPA regulations and CEQA lawsuits. In fact they are taking capacity off line. Due to CalEPA related lawsuits.

So the only “renewable energy” are low capacity, ultra high variable sources which have no discretionary ability and a mismatch with peak load patterns. Which means with the current grid you need a matching spinning reserve (usually gas) for “renewable energy” powergens to deal with the persistent drops and peaks in net output to keep the grid from falling over.

In order to deal with such a variable generating source once it get beyond a minor percentage of total output the existing grid would have to be totally rebuilt from the ground up with a completely different topology and a much more capital intensive physical infrastructure. We are talking many tens of billions of dollars. But such a replacement grid could never be built. Not due to the cost and the resulting massive increase in the price of electricity. But due to CalEPA regulations, CEQA lawsuits and most importantly of all, the Coastal Comission. As most of the major urban populations centers are under the regulation of the Coastal Commission (according to the Coastal Commission) your chance of even starting a major infrastructure project in under a decade is nil. In a state that has a mad house of regulatory agencies none of them matches the pure Alice in Wonderland logic of the Coastal Commission.

The only upside is most of it will be flattened in the next major earthquake and will be rebuilt quickly (pre 1970’s quick) to a high standard with all the idiot environmental regulations set aside. A nice big earthquake solves pretty much all state agencies regulatory problems. Even Caltrans.

So the whole electric power system slowly collapses and everyone who know the slightest about the situation has gone and bought themselves a hefty home back up generator in Oregon or Nevada. Because due to CARB regulations you cannot buy the most practical backup home power generators in California. Its not because they produce “excessive” emissions , its because the cost of getting them “certified” by CARB is so exorbitant. And every time the manufacturers make a minor modification it has to be re “certified”. So the manufacturers dont bother. Its the same story with car LPG kits in California. None are legal because none have been “certified”. Even though they reduce your engine emission to basically nil. Cost of certification. $35K per model . With each minor variation in features for a product range being considered a model…

This is the reason why I now equate the term “green” and “conservationist” with complete and total stupidity.


I’ve always wanted to live in North Korea, now we’ll get the chance. Even better the sky will fall down in our version. DC sits on 4 fault lines, the Shoreline fault runs less than a mile from it and was discovered only a few years ago. How about mass evacuations of the pacific littoral a la Japan? I’m sure you’d stick around as it’s all just mass hysteria but say goodbye to the 101 and the tech industry. A price worth paying to make an absurd ideologic point about the hippies. PG&E are giving up the fight because DC is is monstrous money pit and has no future from their own perspective, the fight to shut it down had barely begun, in fact the IBEW made their first trip to Sacramento 2 months ago and had planned a long and expensive campaign in favor of extending it’s license, they had just got the campaign going when they had to abandon it because the workers have had to put in double shifts for the last 2 months to keep the ship afloat. As i said, money pit that made no sense without massive public subsidy.


If people on here are interested in Nuclear, they can go to the site.
As taxpayers are paying for a service that is not protecting them, we should look for a rebate. This person Michael Van Broekhoven has done painstaking research on Europe and all the fallout from Nuclear plants,and venting. Decade long gamma radiation from a Greek monitor, and other monitors.

#67 … ys/7887052 … rques.html

Just more than a coincidence that during a storm when wind and solar isn’t working the connection to gas plants get knocked out or overloaded the whole state goes out. The whole state! But nothing to do an over reliance on renewables at all. Or a lack of power storage


I don’t know the details but the news pictures are showing huge high tension pylons ripped right out of the ground and other statewide devastation. In fairness it does look like a “weather event, not a renewable energy event”.


+1 The transmission system (i.e. High Voltage lines, in Ireland 400kV, 220kV and some 110kV) is normally designed to n+1 resilience, but that just means that no one line being knocked out will take out the system or disconnect customers. Articles talk about 20 transmission lines out, that’s pretty disruptive, so major black-outs wouldn’t be a surprise.

To point at renewables is specious. You could point at any of your generation mix. A gas turbine can catastrophically fail and be offline for months, or you can have a fuel disruption, etc., Either the overall system is well planned and engineered or it’s not. And even if it is it’s not economical to have designed so that it never ever ever gets knocked over by even the most freak weather events.


Its not really specious, the transmission lines linked to the only non renewable sources of any size
personally I think its worth turning off coal plants and having a few hours without electricity in a 50 year storm as the penalty

But it is also somewhat hypocritical to bump up your renewables to a high % and import dirty electricity through an interconnector.

Just like how Ireland is actually partly nuclear powered

#71 … nn/7888290


And yet, the consensus view from scientists is that we must hurry.

edit: plus, you know, more severe storms were a predicted outcome of increased global temperatures…


You’re loading a lot of value judgements into this. The engineering is my focus, and there’s no problem per se with renewables, just a different set of challenges.


Ive been reading a lot about Thorium reactors lately.

The seem a too good to be true solution to Nuclear power.

They use liquid Thorium (abundant, effectively limitless, currently a waste product of mining so very very cheap) as the energy source.

The reaction is kickstarted with some Uranium but after that it is self-sustaining. It can never “melt down” because its already liquid. The heat exchange fluid is a liquid fluoride salt. The big advantage of that is that it doent need to be pressuised so no huge pressure vessle trying to prevent super heated water exploding like all the time. As the salt is ionic bonded if gama rdiation splits the molecules they just recombine unlike the water which produces H2 and O2 when split by the gamma radiation and we all saw what happened at Fukushima when the H2 and O2 built up.

In failure the salt leaks out immdiatly cools an solidfys and the reactor stops. No explosion, just a big lump of solid radioacive salt that can be choped up and fed back in to start the reactor again.

What am I missing?

here are some links:

TED talks: … clear_fuel

You Tube


Seriously what am I missing?


The nuclear industry aren’t keen on it because it disrupts their main revenue stream - the provision of enriched fuel.

“It eliminates one of the main sources of income for the nuclear industry: fuel fabrication. It eliminates the need for high-pressure piping, thus doing away with a critical skill set in today’s reactors. It uses thorium about 200 times more efficiently than uranium is used today reducing mining demand. In essentially every way it represents a complete departure from how ‘nuclear energy’ is done today, which means that the ‘nuclear industry’ will continue to ignore it.” — Kirk Sorensen

Link to a good information site.


Kirk Sorensen is one of the biggest fan boys and proponents of the technology I’d like to hear a rubutal from someone else.

That aside it still beggars belief that there is a safer scalable (down and up) option for effectively unlimited power why no one is doing it or has built one since the Oakridge demonstrator in the 60’s.

Why hasn’t the US Gov given seed money for a demo reactor for energy independence.

It’s like a big pile of gold sitting in the middle of a room up for the taking and everyone is ignoring it.


I think ‘too good to be true’ accurately describes thorium. The Chinese claimed some years ago they’d have mini-reactors working by now. At a guess, the output either isn’t great, or it requires an enormous (and risky) push to start the process. Thorium appears to be a repeatable bubble like cold fusion with religious adherents (spoofers?):
Some history here…

Thorium is useful in WoW, though, so maybe I’m being too cynical in my “always 5 years away” assessment?


It needs to be U-233, U-235 or Pu-239. Regular U-238 won’t do the trick.

One of the problems with Thorium is these kickstarters, they need to be be produced in uranium reactors - you need to build up a supply of them first which is what India has spend decades trying to do, also they’re handy for making bombs.


Yes but my understanding of it is that once the reaction starts then it breeds it so no more is required unless you switch it off and need to use it again.

The flip side of that is the reactor can “burn” nuclear waste in its cycle so potentially solving the nuclear wast problem.


I also came across thorium a number of years back, and have been wondering why it is not more developed if it is such a holy grail. I realise now that a lot of the recent evangelism has been done by Sorenson and as a result there is a lot of fanboy literature out there which perhaps overstates the case. You get the idea from some of them that you lob in some starter fuel, add some thorium and out comes clean green energy. It also burns up any old nuclear waste or decommissioned weapons you happen to have lying around. However, there also seem to be anti-thorium articles that talk cross-purposes or miss the point altogether.

The basic thorium fuel cycle is clearly viable – it’s a “fertile” element that can be transmuted to fissile U-233. The Oak Ridge experiment that – according to the fanboys – is supposed to have fully validated the thorium molten salt reactor idea did no such thing as far as I can see. It was hugely successful in that it tested the use of all three of U-235, U-233 and Pu as molten salts, filtered the generated products and contaminants from the primary loop, and ran continuously for months at a time. But, it was small scale (2 core, < 10 MW), had a number of unresolved issues, and crucially never involved any thorium! The thorium breeder blanket was omitted along with all the processing for extracting U-233 from it.

I’ve read that all the problems that the Oak Ridge MSR experiment encountered can be overcome, but proving that is the whole point of the requirement for further development, scale-up and commercialisation. Many a project falls at those hurdles, and a lot of up front money is needed. A major cost saving of MSRs is supposed to be avoiding the requirement for downtime for fuel rod swapping, but running a reactor near-continuously for 30 years or more is an unproven proposition, especially when you read the sort of things that can go wrong.

The $2 bn touted for development by Sorenson sounds dramatically low. Also, the estimate of $200m per reactor after initial commercialisation sounds totally fanciful to me. That’s about a hundredth of what Hinckley Point is projected to cost. And I’d be prepared to bet that a lot more than one per cent of the cost of somewhere like Hinckley has nothing to do with the technology, but is spent on planning and management and regulatory compliance.

So why don’t we have thorium MSRs yesterday, as the fanboys say we should? It seems to me that renewed interest in thorium is quite recent, and progress is being made on several active programmes (including half a dozen national programmes from what I read), but any development in nuclear technology seems to be very slow and painstaking. Development and deployment of nuclear technology is made vastly more expensive and risky by the regulatory environment and public opposition.

The idea that the nuclear industry itself is slowing things down seems overly conspiratorial. The suggestion has been made that they are making too much money out of the uranium fuel cycle. But the high cost of reprocessing threatens the viability of nuclear as a commercial energy source. The industry would be shortsighted to try and keep such a decrepit golden goose on life support forever. In any case Westinghouse are involved in a Norwegian project to test the thorium fuel cycle in existing conventional reactors alongside MOX fuels. This would have some of the same advantages as a thorium MSR, so industry is clearly not shying away.

The real issue is that MSRs – which are where many of the advantages accrue, rather than from the thorium fuel cycle per se – are considered Generation IV reactors. As such, commercialisation is probably further away than even everyone’s favourite white elephant, nuclear fusion. Many of the criticisms leveled at thorium are talking about deployment in conventional reactors (for example here, and here; a rebuttal to the first is here). A few just seem plain misguided, such as this one, which seems to be entirely about proliferation of U-233, missing the point of steady-state operation in a thorium MSR.

The conclusion I find myself coming to is that the combination of the thorium fuel cycle and the molten salt reactor is nowhere near as far developed as the fanboys claim. From what I read the basic physics works and is proven on a small scale, but it probably needs significant further advances in materials design, in processing of the fuel and the breeder blanket, and even in the cooling loops to drive a very high temperature closed-cycle gas turbine. Anyone contemplating spending the necessary money on development over a minimum 20 year period will be looking at the falling costs of renewables and the complicated and expensive regulatory environment for nuclear. You don’t need any conspiracy theories to explain why this may never come to fruition.