Thursday, February 4, 2016

UK Proposed Nuclear Plant at Hinkley Point C In More Trouble

Subtitle:  An Expensive Plant Gets More Expensive 

Hinkley Point C proposed nuclear power plant in UK has hit yet another snag, as the man in charge quit to take on a different role at a different company. see link to story.   Meanwhile, the financing for Hinkley Point C is also murky, with sources lacking for the £18 billion (UK).   The project is experiencing cost creep already, as every few months the cost appears to escalate.  

One can only imagine the cost over-runs and schedule delays as, and if, the project actually gets into the construction phase.   Cost overruns of 25 to 50 percent are quite common with nuclear power plant projects.   This fiasco in the making could easily cost £27 to 30 billion.  At those figures, the price of electricity would be brutally high for UK citizenry.  Their outrage will be felt loudly and repeatedly.  

This is but one example, of many, of the real world of nuclear power plants.   The real world has actual plants that are either running, shut down, or under construction.  Each plant has an operating history, a cost to build or refurbish, among other documented facts.   Many nuclear plants in the US, in the real world, cannot make a profit and are shutting down.  

There is another world, though, the world inhabited by nuclear dreamers.   In the dreamers' world, costs to build are based not on real world facts, but on the overnight cost.  In addition, the dreamers like to discuss the cost of future nuclear plants as Nth Of A Kind, which they so cleverly abbreviate NOAK.   The dreamers like to point to various studies, presumably from authoritative sources, to support their cost estimates.   What the dreamers apparently can not do, or will not do even if they could, is realize that no one builds a nuclear plant in one month for the overnight cost as the final cost.  Nuclear plants require half a decade at a minimum, and in most cases, at least a decade to build and start up.  Inflation alone on materials, equipment, and labor add 20 to 50 percent to the overnight costs.   Also, interest on construction loans begins to add up over a decade period, so that final installed cost of a nuclear plant can be another 30 percent or more.  

Back in the real world, Nth of a kind is elusive for nuclear power plants.   More than 450 have been built and started up worldwide, with some shut down and approximately 430 still in operation.   One would think that after more than 450 units of a technology have been built, that there would already be well past the nth of a kind cost efficiencies. 

However, nuclear plants are not like automobiles, nor like commercial aircraft.  Cars are turned out by the millions each year, and aircraft by the several hundreds.   Nth of a kind costing is commonplace for cars and airplanes.   Nuclear plants, not so much.   Perhaps 4 or 5 nuclear plants worldwide are finished per year, in recent years.   One source states 65 plants are currently in some phase of construction, globally.   How many of those actually are ever finished is anyone's guess.  

The dreamers apparently do not know, or do not care, about Professor Derek Abbot's paper that clearly shows nuclear has zero chance of being the long-term, sustainable energy supply of the future.  Zero.  see link

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved

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