Saturday, July 22, 2017

Nuclear Plants at VC Summer in Dire Straits

Subtitle:  The Bad News Keeps Piling On

The bad news just keeps rolling in for the nuclear power industry.  Besides the Vogtle twin-reactor project having long delays and $billions in cost overruns, the twin-reactor project in South Carolina is now being considered for simple abandonment.  see link to article "Economist predicts spike in power bills if SCE&G nuke project moves ahead."  dated 18 July 2017.  

The Summer nuclear plant expansion, like Vogtle, has two Westinghouse AP-1000 pressurized water reactors under construction.   These are supposed to be the best the US has to offer, with the "AP" in the name standing for "Advanced Passive."  These supposedly are faster and lest costly to construct due to their advanced design features.    Apparently not. 

These are pressurized water reactors, PWR, with twin steam generators per reactor.  The Passive portion in the name refers to an elevated water storage tank and dispersion system that is supposed to give the plant operators more time to sort things out when everything goes horribly wrong.  

The cost estimate at Summer keeps increasing, which is normal for nuclear power plants.  However, what is not usual is the call to stop the construction - 30 percent complete at this time - and save all the money that would be required to finish the plant.   

Financing this plant was done by increasing the monthly bill for ratepayers, the customers.  That is unusual in itself.  

The plant's detractors state there is no need for the power from the plant expansion.  The existing generating assets apparently have plenty of capacity without the new reactors.   In practice, that would mean that if and when the two reactors are finished, and they start running, some other plants must either throttle back substantially, or shut down.   That is not a good solution.  

The nuclear power industry is in sad shape these days.  One must wonder about the wisdom of building new reactors in times when existing plants are shutting down because they lose too much money.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2017 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved

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Nuclear Power
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