Nuclear Power in the UK

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 14xxDave, 3 Jan 2020.

  1. 14xxDave

    14xxDave Member

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    Mod Note: Please note posts #1 - #8 originally in this thread.

    Actually nuclear runs flat out all the time at 6.9GW, it's the only way it works. If you watch the grid then quite often coal does shut down at night but gas keeps going.
     
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  3. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    OT, but no it doesn’t. Nuclear varies in the long run as units are taken off line for maintenance or faults. It’s 6.9GW right now, a couple of weeks ago it was about 6GW, and for most of October around 5-5.5GW. This is from a capacity of 9.5GW.
     
  4. 14xxDave

    14xxDave Member

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    But it does run flat out apart from refuelling and maintenance. Do you not agree?

    Oh and I thought the current nuclear capacity was 8GW?
     
  5. nlogax

    nlogax Established Member

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    Current UK nuclear capacity is somewhere around 9GW with a large drop-off expected in the next decade before the next generation of reactors are completed and operational.
     
  6. nlogax

    nlogax Established Member

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    Edit; I should really quote my sources. Chart 1 is what you need.

    https://assets.publishing.service.g...file/789655/Nuclear_electricity_in_the_UK.pdf

    "Nuclear electricity in the UK
    This article looks at nuclear electricity in the UK, examining how its position within the UK energy mix has shifted from the 1950’s to 2018, and how nuclear capacity is likely to change in the future."
     
  7. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    Whether there ever will be a "next generation" of them is not a given.
     
  8. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    It’s a racing certainty, albeit that generation may only be two strong, both based at Hinckley Point.
     
  9. 14xxDave

    14xxDave Member

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    Well the red line as you would say on the rev counter is 8GW but what's a GW between friends. I also don't think we will have another generation of nuclear.
     
  10. Facing Back

    Facing Back Member

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    You think not? Well Hinkley C is due to last 60 years and EDF are - rather understandably - keen to use it as a blueprint for a new Sizewell reactor. There is a lot of research going on around much smaller, simpler reactors using quite different technologies and producing much less waste. And in 60 years who knows, the miracle of cold fusion may have materialised....
     
  11. GRALISTAIR

    GRALISTAIR Established Member

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    And then there is Thorium
     
  12. Facing Back

    Facing Back Member

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    Cheaper, less waste, breeds its own fuel and you can't use the by-products to make weapons.

    Only downside is as far as I recall the only semi-working example was 50 years ago.
     
  13. GRALISTAIR

    GRALISTAIR Established Member

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    Just requires the political will
     
  14. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

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    That is probably why the politicians have shown no interest in pursuing Thorium reactors.
     
  15. Facing Back

    Facing Back Member

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    and possible a few billion in speculative investment.

    Which isn't totally impossible, I do know of some practical research which has been going on into "regional" thorium reactors.
     
  16. 14xxDave

    14xxDave Member

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    I think you will find Hinkley C will never be built.
     
  17. 14xxDave

    14xxDave Member

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    The thorium cycle is a nightmare.
     
  18. DDB

    DDB Member

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    You can use it to produce weapons or rather the theoretical method of producing weapons with it has been developed.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/sc...uel-thorium-riskier-than-we-thought-14821644/

    Last I heard only the Indians were looking at it seriously and that was because they don't have many (any?) uranium deposits but do have plenty of thorium deposits.
     
  19. Puppetfinger

    Puppetfinger Member

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    Whilst I must admit to having limited knowledge, is greater research into Nuclear fusion the way forward, given this produces next to no waste, and removes the weaponisation issue? Also the sheer amount of energy produced would simply solve the Worlds energy generating issues.
     
  20. Facing Back

    Facing Back Member

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    That's true, it is possible and its been done but it makes poor weapons (at the moment) and the yield from a uranium fast breeder is over 50 times higher. Its also a quite multi-stage process which would (currently) need a different reactor to produce fuel than the produce commercial energy - which is not the end of the world for India of course.

    lol - I'm surprised to be having this discussion on a railway forum.
     
  21. Facing Back

    Facing Back Member

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    Very true. But Fusion research is very different to fission research though so both are conducted, its not an either/or. Fission research tends to be about incremental improvements whereas fusion research is about containment and how to do away with a fission element entirely.

    Fusion research is progressing but costs gazillions and last time I looked the fusion reactions they were creating took more energy required as input than was being generated as output and only for a fraction of a second. The good news is that its possible to produce a fusion reaction at all which wasn't the case a number of years ago.

    Agreed fusion power doesn't really change the weapons debate, we've already got fusion weapons.
     
  22. TrafficEng

    TrafficEng Member

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  23. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    Even the one currently going-to-be-built at Hinckley (in the sense that the actual reactor part is nowhere near being built yet) is far from certain to ever see the light of day. It's a new EPR design which no-one elsewhere has got running yet; similar ones elsewhere are well behind schedule and not certain to ever come on line. And given we'll all pay through the nose for decades to subsidise the cost of the most expensive electricity every produced, if Hinckley C does ever operate, then let's hope the plug is pulled [so to speak] as soon as possible.

    And as for the other (besides Hinckley) sites talked of ... that's really fantasy land, in my view.
     
  24. JamesT

    JamesT Member

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    Isn’t Hinckley Point the same design as the two reactors in China? One of which has been supplying power commercially for over a year now.
     
  25. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    You'll be referring to the Taishan plant - that's an earlier version of the EPR and the only EPR design operating anywhere. (And of course there have been concerns that safety problems are more easily brushed aside these days in China in the race to install technology.)

    The only other EPRs - in France and Finland - are well behind schedule (10 years and 12 years respectively) with all sort of problems.

    The Hinckley EPR has itself been described as "the first of its kind" by its own people, albeit based on what they've so far failed to get operating in France and Finland.
     
  26. Facing Back

    Facing Back Member

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    I agree with some of this, the build at Hinkley is progressing and a lot has been done but there of years of work ahead. If it gets bogged down in huge delays and cost overruns then of course its sponsors could lose interest.

    I hope not. I agree to a large extent its the first of its kind but I'm afraid I'm an old fashioned engineering type and I think the UK should indulge in some world class first of its kind engineering.

    I do agree that the strike price for the electricity is very high - but I don't want all of the lights to go out if the wind isn't blowing and I think a balanced energy production base is critical as we move away from fossil fuels. As to whether any other reactors are "fantasy land" then I guess its wait and see. You'd expect the second reactor of the same design to be significantly cheaper/faster/less risky.

    The cost of renewable energy is dropping - who knows where the floor there is? And there is huge investment in energy storage. I think its entirely possible that these technologies will overtake fission in time which would potentially make future reactors redundant. But as I can't see a final decision on anything else for at least 10 years then I guess the powers will be able to assess the state of tech then.
     
  27. Meerkat

    Meerkat Established Member

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    I like the sound of the small reactors Rolls Royce want to make based on the submarine ones.
    Small enough to be prefab and trucked in. Less capital lumpy and theoretically quicker to set up.
     
  28. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    Some of the remaining AGR units are licenced to refuel under load, albeit some only at reduced power.
    The travails of the AGR loading system are long and boring.

    For a long time the records for longest continuous run have been held either by British or Canadian reactors, although the Indians have now managed to pinch it.
    Heysham II Unit 8 did manage to remain on load for 940 days, which is approaching the statutory maximum of 1095 days before it was shut down for maintenance and inspection.

    Remember with nuclear your fuel costs virtually nothing and equipment tends to break when you switch it on or off, so the reactors are kept running whenever possible.

    The problem is Rolls Royce have no real experience on building civil reactors.
    And submarine reactors are hilariously expensive to build and operate, what with them being filled with bomb grade material.

    It is not clear they really have any relevant experience at all.

    The EPR is an example of what happens when you design a reactor by committee, trying to combine two designs with fundamentally different safety philosophies and neither side is willing to concede that their system is inferior. It's a terrible mash up of a Konvoi-type Siemens PWR and a late model French unit.

    That is why it has insane features like a core-catcher that are unlikely to significantly imporve the safety of the plant but cost enormous amounts to make.
    It is only being built at all because of French exceptionalism at EdF and in the French Government.

    AP1000 has problems with its pump shafts disintegrating in testing, and the plant is designed such that they cannot be replaced once the plant is built.

    The APR1400 is better, but it's been embroiled in scandals in Korea with faked cable approvals and the like, as well as the mess in the UAE caused by problems in actually training enough staff to start up the finished reactors.

    As someone proposing an emergency nuclear build programme in their PhD, it is a bit disheartening.
    (My provisional target is one gigawatt scale unit per month)
     
    Last edited: 5 Jan 2020
  29. Meerkat

    Meerkat Established Member

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    Theres always some bloody expert coming along and ruining things with facts and science and stuff!!
     
  30. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    I'm currently neck deep in studies on reactor construction, trying to work out what designs are easiest to build given our currently technology base.
    Its an interesting but rather depressing field.

    But I think we can make reactors fast enough to make a big difference to carbon emissions in time to hit the 2C target.
    But I kinda want to requisition the contents of the Jaguar Land Rover plant....
     
  31. GRALISTAIR

    GRALISTAIR Established Member

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    I had as part of my Masters to do an essay and calculation of stress cracking caused by CsI (Caesium Iodide) on the zirconium alloy used in some nuclear reactors. Interesting field of study. Cs and I isotopes are often by products of nuclear reactions.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2020

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