Is that still true without incentives, green grants, rebates, and tax credits? Because without all of that and with mountains of red tape nuclear still produces energy at the lowest cost, and without emitting any CO2.
That little bit of waste can be dealt with, and comparatively cheaply. Think about it, you can produce 8TWh of electricity, sell it for maybe $400M, and you only have to deal with one ton of waste. That's not a big deal, but doing it is illegal.
Don't blame the industry for a dysfunctional government.
The Utilizes got exactly what they wanted from the government in this case. Complete externalization of the problem for a nominal fee. The government also capped their liability so they could buy insurance. No insurance, no financing.
If you call $750MM/year a nominal fee, your definition of nominal is maybe a bit non-standard?
And while "the waste problem" is arguably unsolved thanks to government incompetence, currently the waste is being managed by the utilities. So far, no cost has been externalized.
"Oh yeah, maybe now, but future generations!" Maybe future generations will elect a government that gets out of the way of engineers trying to solve the problem.
> I think government is doing their part
This incompetent government declared in 1987 that there is exactly one solution to "the waste problem", and that's Yucca Mountain, categorically ruling out any sane solution (i.e. recycling). Now even Mt. Yucca isn't funded anymore. What part is this government doing exactly?
> When the facts change, I will change my mind.
Bullshit. You will continue to claim that the cost of waste disposal, which is implied to be approximately infinite, was externalized, when in fact it's neither.
Or it leaks and reaches our water...
No risk there never has been.
Unsubsidized solar and wind are both listed as $40 while coal and nuclear are listed as $34 and $29 respectively. The article also mentions that increased solar and wind necessitates batteries but doesn't list a price for those.
> "In the case of both utility-scale solar and onshore wind power, this rate has dropped to about $40 per megawatt hour..."
> "With government subsidies, the average costs of onshore wind ($28 per megawatt hour) and utility-scale solar ($36/MWh) are roughly equivalent to those of coal and nuclear generation ($34/MWh and $29/MWh, respectively)"
> "Third, in order to be able to use more wind and solar power, we’ll need to improve our ability to store that power"
"The cost of generating solar power ranges from $36 to $44 per megawatt hour (MWh), the WNISR said, while onshore wind power comes in at $29–$56 per MWh. Nuclear energy costs between $112 and $189."
"Onshore generation costs, at the upper bound installed cost of $2,000/kW, vary from $101/MWh at 6m/s, down to $55/MWh at 9m/s.
At the median cost of $1,600/kW, the corresponding figures are $80/MWh and $44/MWh.
At the lower-bound installed cost of $1,200/kW and a wind speed of 6m/s, the generation cost is $59/MWh, falling to $38/MWh at 8m/s.
... Apart from gas, wind now has no other competitor among fossil-fuel sources. There have been no new nuclear developments, leaving the UK price for its Hinkley Point C power station as a benchmark, at around $130/MWh in 2017 money."
"According to the US Energy Information Agency, the average nuclear power generating cost is about $100 per megawatt-hour. Compare this with $50 per megawatt-hour for solar and $30 to $40 per megawatt-hour for onshore wind."
See also: https://www.lazard.com/media/450784/lazards-levelized-cost-o... and https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation..... In the last report the cost for advanced nuclear is estimated to between $75.1 - $81.2/mWh and to $38.9 - $72.9/mwH for onshore wind.
Worth adding that after this year's round of UK offshore auctions, wind power comes in cheaper than new gas and under a quarter of heavily subsidised nuclear. Despite subsidy and six proposed plants, the only certain remaining nuclear is Hinkley C. Five of the others have had participants withdraw, go bankrupt in one case (Moorside under Westinghouse-Toshiba), and the final remaining UK proposed nuclear - Sizewell C looks increasingly unlikely. Depends on the package and strike prices I suspect as it's an exact copy of Hinkley. EDF (behind Bradwell B, Hinkley and Sizewell using a Chinese reactor design) are busy accumulating a Shenzen style reputation for worker conditions and suicides at Hinkley. Even the majority right wing UK media has noticed enough to report conditions.
The next auction round of offshore wind licences should see it easily come in under existing gas.
To account for those rapid jumps in non-renewable demand, you need an energy source that can ramp up really fast on short notice, like hydrocarbon fire.
Even if reactors aren't as fast to react as a gas peaking plant is, perhaps batteries will soon be able to bridge that gap. The economics of batteries change greatly if you only need them to carry the load for tens of minutes for reactors to ramp up, vs needing to carry the load until the sun shines again.
The duck curve is a smoke screen and should only exist for a region that doesn't have solar to the west of it. Those solar farms in CA should be feeding users a timezone over to the east.
Any source can then feed into those stores, wind, solar, hydro.
If your power solution is involves hydrocarbons, it should be a closed cycle.
Or batteries and other storage methods. It looks like battery solutions could get cheap enough in the next 10-20 years to smooth things out and take care of storage for a few hours (see for instance http://news.mit.edu/2018/metal-mesh-membrane-rechargeable-ba... .. Donald Sadoway has some good talks on YouTube)
But yeah, for days that happen to have less wind/solar, I think the best thing is just keep gas power plants around. The CO2 impact for that will be minimal, the power plants are already built, and over time you could replace the fuel with synthetic gas made from renewables, which would basically be another energy storage mechanism. Cheaper renewable gas is something we need to make the world sustainable anyway.
The only unsolved problem is seasonal variations in colder climates. But those areas could import more trash and burn it (for both electricity and heat), like Sweden does. Norway has a ton of hydroelectric power, and is building more HVDC power lines to other areas of Northern Europe which will help with that area. Not sure what the solution for North America is though. But it's not nuclear. Having a nuclear power plant idle for half a year is the exact opposite of what you want. The plant is expensive and the fuel is cheap - if you build it you want it to run 24/7.
Only some unexpected breakthrough could make it feasible.
Does the hourly schedule variate day by day or can it be predicted?
If you can predict when and how much power you will need to produce then it can be ramped up slowly, I assume.
There are electrical dispatchers who are monitoring grid supply 24/7 and instruct plants on how much they are responsible for generating on a minute-by-minute basis.
Storage batteries, pumped storage, and CAES are examples of this, though simple raw thermal banking (hot water heating, typically) is an excellent way to suck up excess Joules or GWh.
1 GWh is roughly the energy required to heat a pool of water 1 hectare * 1 m by 86 degrees Celsius. This scales to multiple GWh by increasing area, depth, or both. Conversion to steam is also possible, though that requires more engineering (pressure is A Thing). Substrates such as molten salt have a lower heat capacity per unit mass, but can be heated to far greater temperatures.
Storage at the scale of entire US generating capacity for multiple weeks using molten salt thermal storage, even accounting for Carnot cycle efficiency losses (about 20-50% depending on specifics, 30% is a good ballpark) is actually a tractable-scale concept. Existing petroleum storage facilities are roughly comperable in size, though molten salt would require somewhat more robust facilities and insulation.
Whilst it doesn't have the net efficiencies of pumped hydro (exceeding 90% round-trip storage efficiency), pumped hydro lacks sufficient developable sites, and has significant environmental impacts.
You couldn't be more Dam wrong.
Mind, where it does work, it's phenomenally effective, efficient, and responsive.
There are a few sites at which seawater-based systems might be possible, in which the ocean forms the "lower reservoir". These are dependent on suitable terrain. Matching terrain to consumption patterns is difficult: the Netherlands and much of Britain are sorely lacking. Some of the best potential sites are along the Balkan coast in Serbia and Croatia. Chile's Atacama Desert, along the Pacific coastline, is nearly ideal geographically, but is far from most use (North America, Europe, Asia). Portions of the US West Coast might be suitable, though would all but certainly face major political resistance for environmental impacts.
And: working with seawater is complex from an engineering standpoint: it's corrosive and sea life has a pronounced tendency to foul large-scale water-handling systems, though this may be tractable. There've been several pilot projects, though those have since been decomissioned, excepting Rance in France, designed as a tidal power plant, though capable of working as a pumped-hydro facility.
Terrible energy density, massive land use.
To store the energy contained in 1 gallon of gasoline requires over 55,000 gallons to be pumped up 726 feet (CCST 2012). 
Itaipu Dam has 14,000 MW installed power, 1,350 square kilometres (520 sq mi) were flooded. 
Hydroelectric projects also virtually always provide additional services such as flood control, irrigation water, recreation, and waterways management (ensuring water flows, etc.), which also account for design elements including scale, etc.
Pumped hydro should provide a sufficient level of both capacity and storage, though in general the storage requirements are far smaller than traditional hydroelectric dams aimed at generation. There are quite small pumped hydro facilities, the compensation being that water levels can rise or fall considerably, often many metres in a single day's storage/generation cycle.
Gravity is in general a weak force, but water is relatively massive, largely non-toxic, and can be utilised through large-scale pump-generator units (~800 MW per generator IIRC), which is a scale few other options can match. Again, on balance, pumped hydro is a good solution, there's just not enough of it to go around.
Converting to sensible units gives
mass = 55e3 * 3.79kg/gallon ~ 208450kg
height = 221 meters
mass * height * 9.8m/s^2 ~ 452043210 joules (watt-seconds)
or 125KwH, 70% of that is 87KwH. What does gasoline have to do with energy storage on the grid? Furthermore, a gallon of gas has 33KwH .
What does the Itaipu Dam's installed power have to do with stored energy?
Nothing. Was there something to suggest otherwise? I listed two weak points for hydro: Terrible energy density, massive land use.
My first reference supported the first point and my second reference addressed the second point. Land use: 1,350 square kilometres were flooded. The installed power was to give context of how big the plant is.
Ffestiniog Power Station in the UK is on the order of 1 hectare (1/100 km^2) in area (based on 170,000 m^3 storage and a 34m dam height). It's a modest and early pumped-hydro facility.
Bath County Pumped Storage in the US has an upper reservoir of 107 and a lower of 226 hectares respectively, or 1 km^2 and 2 km^2, roughly. It is the largest in the US.
There is no reason for a purely pumped-hydro facility to be anywhere remotely near the size of Itaipu. Which is not in fact a pumped hydroelectric storage facility, but a hydroelectric generating station with no pumped-hydro storage capabilities or functions.
A red herring.
>You couldn't be more Dam wrong.
I am talking about dams, not pumped storage.
And was followed up, by the same author, with another post specifically about pumped storage:
That we're still discussing this over 24 hours later may strike someone as amusing, but the jokes gone rather stale.
How many sites do we need? Why would the Netherlands need pumped hydro, isn't the European grid interconnected?
See my comment below.
Likewise, you seem to have failed to grasp what I'd hoped would be a rather evident reason for mentioning the Netherlands in the context of pumped hydro and terrain.
The events you may have noted in news of "negative energy prices" are often failures of prediction -- unexpectedly high availability (more sun or wind), and unexpectedly low demand. Though "pay to take my power" sounds good, it's actually a sign of mismanaged resources.
There are occasional incidental factors -- sudden demand, or more often, equipment or transmission failures which require bringing additional capacity online, or shedding load to prevent under-voltage (and hence: over-amperage), or underfrequency. Grid power frequency is generally 60Hz in the US, 50Hz in the UK, and just for grins, both in Japan, on separate and noninterdependent grids, which made generation capacity loss following the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami and Fukushima incident all the more critical. Loss of synchronisation or deviation by more than a very small fraction from the nominal frequency is considered a Very Bad Thing. Viz the recent UK blackouts.
You can read more about it at http://nordicbalancingmodel.net.
I’d rather have way too much nuclear power than rely on any fossil fuels. If anything, energy demand seems posed to always increase.
What can't ramp quickly is the steam turbine connected to the reactor, but that's more of a design decision than a technical limitation. The German nuclear plants ("Konvoi" series) can in fact ramp faster than the German gas turbine plants, because that was a design requirement.
So long as you don't care how to dispose of the nuclear waste. But we'll be dead by then anyway, so who cares right.
Are you sure you are accounting for Nuclear's extreme incentives? Nuclear as an industry gets its liability capped to around $12.6 billion, whereas there are plausible trillion dollar accident scenarios. It is as if you got free insurance and only had to pay insurance on paying the deductible.
The law was passed in 1957 partly because we wanted to subsidize nuclear proliferation and used byproducts from plants for weapons.
Who is paying for that? Guess who is not paying for
Also some of the red tape, for nuclear, is there for a reason.
France is also having trouble with life extension due to cracked reactor vessels, and is unable to build new capacity cheaply - Flamanville is in project management trouble, like Hinkley Point C, and is projected to have higher energy costs than the existing reactors.
And nuclear power is ironically suffering its own climate change effects, it's dependent on cool water: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-electricity-heatwa...
These technologies are extremely sensitive to weather conditions which means that other, more stable sources must exist and have "stand by" production cap to produce all the energy these tech won't under bad conditions. If so, what's the point? (I mean in the grand, climate crisis, scheme of things) what am I missing?
Even in "green" countries, most of the green energy comes from bio fuel which is just burning young "soon to be coal".
(You probably mean "geological" not " geopolitical".)
Wide deployment & interconnection will also erase some of the local variability of, e.g. a cloud passing over.
> just build twice as much solar capacity
This would increase the land use from 1% to 2%. That's a huge amount of the country to give over to power production.
But the real problem with the UK and solar is not nighttime but seasonality. No, we need to keep going with the wind buildout and not drop the tidal energy programme.
We're getting there: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jun/21/zero-carbon...
Granted, half of that will be in Scotland and ideally your solar would be further south, but even then, you're probably talking about switching less than 5% of the arable land to solar.
There's also a saying "the wind is always blowing somewhere". A good grid reduces variability a lot.
Renewables are projected to get cheap enough that over provisioning can handle most, (but not all) of the stalls, drastically reducing the need for storage or peakers. For example, if you have enough solar to provide 3X as much power as you need on a sunny day, you get about 1X on a cloudy day.
Over-provisioning results in incredibly cheap power on sunny/windy days which can be a huge boon to industry.
But what you're pointing out is why the IPCC and most climate scientists want nuclear as a stop gap. Because it's better than coal. But then the conversation becomes about nuclear vs renewables, which no one on the nuclear side wants to get rid or even slow the development of renewables.
In my city the electric scooter companies have carpet bombed the city centre with their vehicles. When I'm downtown can I be certain that one is available to take me from place A to B? I can't and in the worst case I'll have to walk a block to find one to ride on. Big deal.
The electricity grid works the same. It doesn't matter if one wind farm isn't producing because there are so many of them. As long as the total output from them is big enough. Think of it like a RAID system.
> what am I missing
Battery storage is a thing and will become much more of a thing
> What's the manufacturing breakeven in carbon costs for a windmill or a solar panel?
This questions feels like you mostly try to justify your otherwise preexisting preference. A proper system would have external costs factored into the price, by the way.
They don't for example, wonder if no one has thought to calculate the carbon impact of renewables, because they assume the scientists and other authority figures they trust who recommend it would have taken that into account. And if they did wonder, it's a short Google away, and their usual info sources would provide facts, not scaremongering propaganda.
That's why you'll rarely see a defence of nuclear that doesn't quickly degenerate into attacking Californian hippies, or government interference, or the collapse of Germany into a solar powered Islamic no-go-zone, or flat out denial that climate change is even a problem anyway" that they've read about in their highly reliable news sources. Generally they're more anti-renewable than pro-nuclear.
Historical cost declines would agree with that thesis. Renewables will approach a price so close to 0 that the battery storage will be the dominate cost in supplying dispatchable energy (but still a lower cost than fossil fuels). Utility lithium battery storage is already cheaper than the most expensive peaking plants, and the cost model improves as costs continue to decline.
https://about.bnef.com/blog/behind-scenes-take-lithium-ion-b... (A Behind the Scenes Take on Lithium-ion Battery Prices)
https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy19osti/73222.pdf (PDF: NREL Cost Projections for Utility-Scale
"Using Megapack, Tesla can deploy an emissions-free 250 MW, 1 GWh power plant in less than three months on a three-acre footprint – four times faster than a traditional fossil fuel power plant of that size. Megapack can also be DC-connected directly to solar, creating seamless renewable energy plants."
We need more Gigafactories (regardless of manufacturer/owner), which needs demand to be proven (contracts with utilities), which allows for more capital to be acquired from capital markets to build more battery factories. Batteries are a known quantity though, versus nuclear where you can spend billions and a decade and still not produce a kWh of power.
Tesla built Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai in 190 days, from breaking ground to manufacturing validation of a Model 3. These are tractable problems.
Also does your figure of 6000 Megapacks derive from total electricity consumption in the US, or just base load?
Unreasonable optimism about battery technology/cost.
You can see the hourly Ontario energy use by source here:
One of the worst inefficiencies of the Ontario grid is that we run an abundance of energy during parts of the day, during which we dump electricity to the US at extremely cheap rates. If that electricity were offered at the same rate to Ontario residents (who are paying for it!) you would see residents retrofit homes with dual-fire gas/electric heating and other utilities. Or if we had a means to store that electricity it would cover the highest-use parts of the day (approximately 3 hours later) where we still fire natural gas to cover demand.
Or push my freezer into deep-freeze mode.
Or my water heater tank into super-heat mode? I already have a thermostatic valve anyway.
Or have my dishwasher start whenever it wants between midnight and 6AM? All I can do is start now or in 4 hours, meanwhile these might be terrible times.
The amount that they divert varies by time: they want to keep the falls nice during the day, but divert more at night.
And a lot of dams are dual use: controlling water levels while generating electricity, so it really depends on weather. When it’s dry they can maybe do this, but when it’s wet, they gotta be careful. Or vice versa depending on which side it’s raining more on.
There are large regions in the country where Solar is not a good solution due to fog. And Wind is not a good solution due to lack of wind.
We have a global climate system. As is such if the goal is to reduce carbon emissions in some areas Nuclear power is the most effective method to achieve this goal. Furthermore, moving China to non-carbon energy sources would have the largest impact globally. They use ~ 22 GigaWatts of electricity per year. Which is 3.6 times as much as the US which is the 2ed largest consumer of energy by country.
They claim texas recieves >300x the amount of power consumed in the form of sunlight.
Another source claims that the Sun delivers enough power in a single hour to power the earth for a year: https://www.businessinsider.com/this-is-the-potential-of-sol...
I can respect the fact that we cannot capture 100% of that power, but even a fraction should power the earth, no?
the main exceptions--radiative exchange with the rest of the universe and energy from earth's core--are relatively insignificant sources compared to the solar influx of energy.
fossil fuels are just solar energy captured and (inefficiently) transformed over hundreds of millions of years through plant and animal intermediaries. wind and hydro (weather-based energy) are also intermediated forms of solar energy.
the sun is effectively unlimited energy for billions of years, mostly being radiated away right now, so the closer we get to transforming it directly into useful forms, the better off we are.
I just think it is more realistic to first build nuclear power plants within 50km of every city with a population greater than 1mil people in China.
I am not sure a there has ever been a UHV line longer than 3,000km? Efficiency loss only increases the longer a UHV line is.