A Few Insights Regarding Today’s Nuclear Situation

The issue of nuclear electricity is a complex one. In this post, I offer a few insights into the nuclear electric situation based on recent reports and statistical data.

Nuclear Electric Production Is Already Declining

Figure 1. World nuclear electric production split by major producing countries, based on BP’s 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy. FSU is Former Soviet Union.

According to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, the highest year of nuclear electric production was 2006.

There are really two trends taking place, however.

1. The countries that adopted nuclear first, that is the United States, Europe, Japan, and Russia, have been experiencing flat to declining nuclear electricity production. The countries with actual declines in generation are Japan and some of the countries in Europe outside of France.

2. The countries that began adopting nuclear later, particularly the developing countries, are continuing to show growth. China and India in particular are adding nuclear production.

The long-term trend depends on how these two opposite trends balance out. There may also be new facilities built, and some “uprates” of old facilities, among existing large users of nuclear. Russia, in particular, has been mentioned as being interested in adding more nuclear.

Role of Nuclear in World Electricity

Nuclear provides a significant share of world electricity production, far more than any new alternative, making a change from nuclear to wind or solar PV difficult. If nuclear electricity use is reduced, the most likely outcome would seem to be a reduction in overall electricity supply or an increase in fossil fuel usage.

Figure 2. Based on BP’s 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy

Nuclear is the largest source of world electricity after fossil fuels and hydroelectric, comprising about 12% of total world electricity. Wind amounts to about 2% of world electric supply, and solar (which is not visible on Figure 2) amounts to one-quarter of one percent (0.25%). “Other renewable” includes electricity from a variety of sources, including geothermal and wood burned to produce electricity. Limits on wood supply and geographical limits on “hot” geothermal limit how far these can be scaled up. With respect to wood and other biological products, there is also concern that we are reaching a tipping point with respect to man’s interference with ecosystems. See Approaching a State Shift in the Earth’s Bioshpere, coauthored by 20 internationally known scientists and recently published in Nature.

Note that even with the growth of renewables, there is still very substantial growth in fossil fuel use in recent years. If nuclear electricity use is reduced, fossil fuel use may grow by even a greater amount.

Role of Nuclear in Countries that Use Nuclear

The world situation shown in Figure 1 includes many countries that do not use nuclear at all, so the countries that do use nuclear tend to generate more than 12% of their electricity from nuclear. This means that if a decision is made to move away from nuclear, an even larger share of electricity must be replaced (or “be done without”).

Figure 3. Based on BP’s 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy.

For example, in the United States (Figure 3), nuclear now amounts to about 19% of US electricity production, and is second only to fossil fuels as an electricity source. US nuclear production tends to be concentrated in the Eastern part of the US, so that nuclear amounts to 30% to 35% of electric production along the US East Coast. This would be very difficult to replace by generation from another source, other than possibly fossil fuels. Some argue that with sufficient investment, solar PV and wind energy, together with long distance transmission lines and battery backup could be a replacement, but this has yet to be proven to be possible in practice. Germany, discussed below, is really the first test case for this. In some views, this is not working well.

For countries that are planning to reduce their nuclear generation, nuclear electricity as a percentage of total electric production in 2010  are as follows:

  • Germany, 22%;
  • Switzerland, 37%;
  • Belgium, 52%; and
  • Japan 25%.

Unless these countries can count on imports from elsewhere, it will be difficult to make up the entire amount of electricity lost through demand reduction, or through a shift to renewables.

Nuclear Electric Plants that are “Paid for” Generate Electricity Very Cheaply

Nuclear power plants for which the capital costs are already “sunk” are very inexpensive to operate, with operating costs estimated at 2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Any kind of change away from nuclear is likely to require the substitution of more expensive generation of some other type.

The electrical rates in place today in Europe and the United States today take into account the favorable cost structure for nuclear, and thus help keep electrical rates low, especially for commercial users (since they usually get the best rates).

If new generation is added to substitute for the paid off nuclear, it almost certainly will raise electricity rates. These higher rates will be considered by businesses in their decisions regarding where to locate new facilities, and perhaps result in more of a shift in manufacturing to developing nations.

Germany’s Experience in Leaving Nuclear

It is too early to know exactly what Germany’s experience will be in leaving nuclear, but its early experiences provide some insights.

One cost is decommissioning. According to Reuters, German nuclear companies have made a total of $30 billion euros ($36.7 billion) in provision for costs related to the cost of dismantling the plants and disposing of radioactive materials. According to the same article, Greenpeace expects the cost may exceed 44 billion euros ($53.8 billion). If the amount of installed nuclear capacity in Germany is 20.48 million kilowatts (kW), the direct cost of dismantling the nuclear reactors and handling the spent fuel ranges from $1,792 to $2,627 per kW. This cost is greater than the Chinese and Indian cost of building a comparable amount of new reactor capacity (discussed later in this article).

David Buchanan of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies did an analysis of some of the issues Germany is facing in making the change. Germany was in an unusually favorable situation because it had a cushion of spare capacity when it decided to close its reactors. When Germany closed its oldest eight reactors, one issue it discovered was lack of transmission capacity to transfer wind energy from the North to areas in the South and Southwest of Germany, where the closed reactors were located. In addition, the system needs additional balancing capability, either through more natural gas generation (because gas generators can ramp up and down quickly), or more electric storage, or both.

In Germany, natural gas is an expensive imported source of energy. The economics of the situation are not such that private companies are willing to build natural gas generation facilities, because the economics don’t work: (a) renewables get first priority in electricity purchases and (b) electricity from locally produced coal also gets priority over electricity from gas, because it is cheaper.  If new gas generation is to be built, it appears that these plants may need to be subsidized as well.

Increased efficiency and demand response programs are also expected to play a role in balancing demand with supply.

Not All Countries Have the Same High Nuclear Electricity Costs

We don’t really know the cost of new nuclear electricity plants in the United States, because it has been so long since a new plants were built. The new reactors which are now under construction in the state of Georgia will provide a total of 2,200 MW of generation capacity at a cost estimated at $14.9 billion, which means an average cost of $6,773/kW.

In China and India, costs are lower, and may drop even lower in the future, as the Chinese apply their techniques and low-cost labor to bring costs down.  The World Nuclear Association (WNA) in its section on China makes the statement,

Standard construction time is 52 months, and the claimed unit cost is under CNY 10,000 (US$ 1500) per kilowatt (kW), though other estimates put it at about $2000/kW.

In the section on nuclear power for India, the WNA quotes construction costs ranging from $1,200/kW to $1,700/kW, using its own technology.

If we compare the cost of  US planned plants in Georgia to the Chinese and Indian plants, the cost seems to be three or four times as high.

These cost differences also appear in comparisons on a “Levelized Cost” basis. The EIA in its 2012 Annual Energy Outlook quotes an US expected levelized cost of nuclear of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), anticipated for facilities being constructed now. The section on the Economics of Nuclear Power of the WNA quotes levelized costs in the 3 to 5 cents per kWh range for China, depending on the interest rate assumed. A cost in the 3 to 5 cents range is very good, competitive with coal and with natural gas, when they are inexpensive, as they are now in the United States.

Some of China’s nuclear reactors were purchased from the United States, and thus will be higher in cost because of the purchased components. But knowing that China has a reputation for “reverse engineering” products it buys, and figuring out how to make cheap imitations, I expect that it  will be able to figure out ways to create low-cost reactors in the near future, whether or not it can do so today. So the expectation is that China and India will be able to make cheap reactors (probably without all the safety devices that some other countries currently require) for itself, and quite likely, eventually for sale to others. Sales of such reactors may eventually undercut sales by American and French companies.

Interest in Purchasing Reactors

The interest in purchasing electricity generation of all kinds is likely to be greater in developing countries where the economy is growing and the need for electricity generation is growing, than in the stagnant economies of the United States, Europe, and Japan. If we look at a graph of electricity production of Asia-Pacific excluding Japan, we see a very rapid growth in electricity use.

Figure 4. Asia-Pacific Excluding Japan Electricity by Source, based on BP’s 2012 Statistical Review.

The Middle East (Figure 5, below) is another area with an interest in nuclear. It too has shown rapid growth in electricity use, and a historical base of mostly fossil use for electricity generation.

Figure 5. Middle East Electricity by Source, based on data of the BP’s 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Use of Thorium Instead of Uranium Would Seem to be a Better Choice, if It Can be Made to Work

I have not tried to research this subject, except to note that research in this area is currently being done that may eventually lead to its use.

Uranium Production is a Problem 

World uranium production fell a bit in 2011, relative to 2010, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Figure 6. World Uranium Production, based on data of the World Nuclear Association.

Production from Kazakhstan is becoming an increasingly large share of the total. Production in both the US and Canada declined in 2011. Spot prices have tended to stay low, in spite of the fact that an agreement that allowed the US to buy recycled Russian bomb material reaches an end in 2013. There are no doubt some stockpiles, but the WNA estimates 2011 production to equal to only 85% of current demand (including military demand).

Figure 7. World Uranium Production and Demand, in an image prepared by the World Nuclear Association.

A person would think that prices would rise higher, to incentivize increased production, but this doesn’t seem to be happening yet, at least. The uranium consulting firm Ux Consulting offers the following comment on its website:

The market that we now find ourselves in is like no other in the history of uranium. Production is far below requirements, which are growing. HEU [highly enriched uranium] supplies and the enrichment of tails material make up a large portion of supply, but the fate of these supply sources is uncertain. Supply has become more concentrated, making the market more vulnerable to disruptions if there are any problems with a particular supply source. Another source of market vulnerability is the relatively low level of inventory held by buyers and sellers alike.

The consulting firm ends the section with a pitch for its $5,000 report on the situation.

A person would like to think that additional production will be ramped up quickly, or that the US military would find some inventory. Markets don’t always work well at incentivizing a need for future production, especially when more or less adequate current supplies are available when Russian recycled bomb material is included. The discontinuity comes when those extra supplies disappear.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to inadequate supply.
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74 Responses to A Few Insights Regarding Today’s Nuclear Situation

  1. PeteTheBee says:

    This is a good report. But you can’t forget that for the last 24 months cheap natural gas has been destroying the market for additional nuclear in the US, and this will probably go on for another 5 years at least.

  2. b_f says:

    Some few corrections: Anything done by the Chinese state, as opposed to private companies, is actually pretty safe. On a passenger-kilometer basis, their railroad system is THE safest in the world, not “one of the”, just “the”, and its actually SHOCKING how much better they do it.

    http://ilookchina.net/tag/rail-accidents-in-india/

    In terms of grid losses, they’re on par with Singapore at 5%, better than the 7% of the NA grid and far superior to the 30% of India. The accusation of lowering safety in something as obviously dangerous as a reactor is just pure racism.

    • PeteTheBee says:

      Fascinating. Also not terribly surprising.

      The Chineese apparently have lots of shale and they are now driving whole hog behind fracking it for gas and NGLs. That would be pretty mind boggling if they pulled this off – can you imagine Bejing with clean air and Las Vegas lights?

  3. Jonny Earth says:

    From a website recommended by a CERN researcher, another article on thorium nuclear: http://www.stormsmith.nl/i35.html. Excerpt:

    Feasibility
    The feasibility of the thorium breeding cycle is even more remote than that of the U-Pu breeder. This is caused by specific features of the thorium cycle on top of fundamental limitations. The realisation of the thorium-uranium cycle would require the availability of 100% perfect materials and 100% complete separation processes. None of these two prerequisites are possible, as follows from the Second Law of thermodynamics [more i42, i43]. It can be argued beforehand that the Th-U breeder cycle will not work as envisioned. In addition it would be questionable if the energy balance of any thorium fuelled nuclear power system could be positive.

  4. Jonny Earth says:

    Assuming that storage issues can be solved, I’d appreciate a robust discussion of the claim by Gail that renewables, including solar and wind, can not be scaled up sufficiently to replace nulcear, given the news this year out of Germany:

    Germany sets new solar power record, institute says
    By Erik Kirschbaum
    BERLIN | Sat May 26, 2012 2:02pm EDT

    (Reuters) – German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said.

    The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.

    They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.

    Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs.

    “Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” Allnoch told Reuters. “Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt (GW) mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”

    The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world’s leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed.

    • Mel Tisdale says:

      Yeah, we get a few hot days too, here in Poland, which is next door, so to speak. I certainly would not like to rely on photovoltaic for any situation where consistency of supply mattered.

    • PeteTheBee says:

      Sure, a few sunny days.

      The question is how many terraWattHours they produce over the year from wind and solar, and compare that to coal and nukes.

      The Germans include hydro in the renewable mix, but hydro in Germany has nowhere to grow.

      Any plan that says “we will take this energy supplier and increase it by a factor of 10 over the next 10 years” is to be taken with a grain of salt.

      “Assuming that storage issues can be solved,” … well that is the whole ball of wax, really. If grid power storage can be solved, it will do a lot more than just improve renewables, it will upend the way grids work throughout the world. It will turn nuclear and coal power plants from baseload power to peaker power – a huge improvement. It will encourage grid operators to build combined cycle gas generators instead of peaker generators – with a huge improvement in efficiency. Everything in the industrial world gets turned on it’s ear if a cheap and efficient way to store electricity is invented…. which is why few people are optimistic it will happen. People have been chasing this grail for a very long time.

      • Leo Smith says:

        Yep. average insolation in the UK varies from less than 150W a sq meter in December to over 1.5Kw on a clear sunny day. Peak electricity demand is around 6pm in winter when solar is producing nothing at all. In summer in Germany up to 30GW – that’s pretty much the size of the entire UK grid- has to be kept on hot standby waiting for sunset, burning fuel. Then its like 20 nuclear plants all shut down together. A nightmare. Storage? What storage? As you rightly say, if we had storage we could slash fuel burn 30% or more just by using it to cope with peak demands..

        We have definite proof (France) that nuclear power works At a sane cost. We have definite proof (Germany) that massive investment in renewable energy does nothing to reduce carbon burn, and simply triples electricity prices instead.

        But selective reporting makes this an apparent ‘success’.

        • davekimble2 says:

          French nuclear reactors have had to shut or reduce output due to lack of sufficient cooling water at times. And we should consider Government financial support in a variety of forms (research laboratories, insurance, planning, security, financial guarantees, etc)

          Germany and Spain threw their support behind solar, and without that, penetration into the energy mix would be far lower. Whenever they talk of reducing subsidies, the PV industry cries that it will be ruined.

          The fossil fuel industry gets its subsidies too, and even with all these subsides households are having trouble paying their electricity bills. Industry always lobbies for itself, of course, and usually pays far less for its KW.hs than households.

          This makes spotting Peak Energy more difficult.

  5. Jonny Earth says:

    One more thought on nuclear, and how climate change likely will prevent current plants from generating peak power just when it’s most needed for cooling urban residents. Wherever surface water is utilized for operations cooling, quantity and temperature become problematic during periods of drought.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/heat-and-drought-pose-risks-for-nuclear-power-plants/

    EXCERPT:
    Like coal-fired power plants, nuclear facilities use large amounts of water for cooling purposes. After water has cycled through the plant, it is discharged back into a nearby waterway, usually a lake or a river, at a higher temperature. State regulations prohibit nuclear plants from operating once water temperatures go above a certain threshold, in part because it could compromise the safe operation of the facility, and also because discharging very warm water can kill fish and other marine life.

    According to the New York Times’ Matthew L. Wald, the Braidwood Generating Station, located about 60 miles southwest of Chicago, was recently granted a waiver to continue operating despite the fact that the unusually hot and dry summer had heated the water it was taking in to a toasty 102°F — 2 degrees above the legal operating limit for the plant.

    Climate Central’s Alyson Kenward reported on the threat that climate change poses to electricity generation in 2011, when she detailed problems that a 2010 heat wave caused for operators of the Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama.

    “With river water so warm, the nuclear plant couldn’t draw in as much water as usual to cool the facility’s three reactors, or else the water it pumped back into the river could be hot enough to harm the local ecosystem, says Golden. But for every day that the Browns Ferry plant ran at 50 percent of its maximum output, the TVA had to spend $1 million more than usual to purchase power from somewhere else, he says.

    What happened in northern Alabama last summer, at the largest of TVA’s nuclear power plants, did not present a human safety concern. Operators knew there was never a risk of an explosion or nuclear meltdown, nor was there a threat of leaking radioactive material. But the prolonged spell of hot weather put the TVA at risk of violating environmental permits, with hefty fines as one consequence and potential harm to the Tennessee River ecosystem as another.

    It’s not the first time high temperatures have affected the performance of the Browns Ferry plant, and extreme heat is a growing concern for power plant operators across the Southeast.”

    • Leo Smith says:

      That’s why people build nuclear power on the coasts

      • Ikonoclast says:

        So that tsunamis can hit them!

        Let’s face it. There are few (if any) ideal sites or for nuclear power stations. They need lots of water for cooling but need to be away from tsunami prone coasts. Virtually all coasts are theoretically tsunami prone. They need to be away from fault lines and earthquake prone areas. They need to be sited in politically stable countries. They need to be relatively far away from major population, agricultural and other resource areas (to allow minimum exclusion zones). Yet they need to be relatively close for power transmission purposes. The list goes on.

        Public boosters and fanatic advocates of nuclear power are amongst the least scientifically literate bloggers I have come across. This is leaving aside the tiny core of industry centred boosters who have a clear self interest in promoting nuclear power.

        • Mel Tisdale says:

          If ‘nuclear power stations’ is replaced with ‘LFNR stations,’ then every single one of your objections goes by the wayside.What we need is a Manhattan project to bring them on stream. What we don’t need is horizon to horizon wind turbines in the hope that the wind might blow when we need it too, or vast areas of solar panels in the hope that the sun might shine, never mind that temperate zones experience long periods of neither wind nor sun. On top of that we don’t want the countryside further despoiled by mile upon mile of power lines desperately chasing where the sun or the wind might, just might, be present in sufficient strength.

          We live in a scientific and technological age, lets take the best it has to offer in order to keep the lights on while keeping the temperatures down and the seas less acidic.

          • Ikonoclast says:

            By definition and by empirical fact, all non-renewable energy sources will run out. By “run out”, I mean substantially run out even if small pockets and dribs and drabs continue to be found and used from time to time. These dribs and drabs will never run a global civilization of 7 billion people or more. This means coal, oil, natural gas, and all fission fuels on earth will substantially run out. Fusion may be a special case but we will leave that aside for the moment.

            When coal, oil, natural gas, and all fission fuels run out what is left apart from the long shot of fusion power? All that is left is renewable energy sources, the key ones being solar, wind and perhaps some biofuels. Wind and biolfuels are a subset of solar power in any case. Wind is driven by weather systems which are driven by incoming solar heat energy. Biofuels are prodcued by photosynthesis using sunlight as the energy source. So in effect, solar is it.

            It is fruitless and pointless to say “solar” isn’t good enough. In the end, it will be all we have. Thus, the ONLY realistic questions are how good will solar be and how much of a global civilization if any can we sustain with it?

            Fusion power may be a way out of this but I doubt it for several reasons. Scientists themselves are renowned for saying “fusion is always thrity years in the future”. Essentially, the technical engineering problems of harnessing fusion power may be technically and inherently unsolvable.

            With all due respect to Gail and most of her bloggers, I think the general tenor of this site discounts the potential scale of solar power much too readily. It may well be eminently possible to power a world economy with solar power alone. The raw numbers indicate that enough solar energy to power the whole world impacts on a fraction of the world’s major desert areas. Solar convection towers and/or solar concentrating arrays could produce the electricty and the liquid (methane) fuels required by the world. Methane can be made from atmospheric CO2 and seawater using solar generated electrical and heat energy along with catalytic reactions.

            Many of the materials required to build this solar generating infrastructure are ubiquitous as in silica and materials for cement. And if we didn’t waste enormous amounts of steel, aluminium and other metals on the world’s unnecessary fleets of private cars (instead using public transport systems) then adequate metals for the infrastcutures would be available.

            • Mel Tisdale says:

              Get real. The human species is in danger from climate change and it is obviously not going to tackle it while the world’s leading nation, which is also one of the top CO2 emitters, is intent on not even admitting that climate change even exists, or if it does, that it is not a problem – “only an engineering problem” in the words of one oil industry CEO; when it is obvious that a considerable number of scientists have been ‘bought’ by the fossil fuel industry with its priority of serving its shareholders in preference to its country.
              Money is the only god these people worship, despite the fact that many of them are in the ‘happy clappy’ movement. It is obvious that because the sun doesn’t shine on tap and nor does the wind blow on demand, they are never going to meet the needs of industry and are thus a threat to the dollar that they worship. In short, wind and solar are never going to be a solution to the climate change problem, even they were practicable, of which many scientists are extremely doubtful.
              While some form of storage to cope with the lean wind and solar times might well be developed, it is not by any means guaranteed. It is not even decided what form it might take, let alone just how much such storage is necessary and how much it might destroy the local environment to house it (think hydraulic storage in the form of potential energy). So the result is a countryside despoiled by expensive power lines chasing wherever the sun or wind happen to be, if they exist, that is, or if they don’t, wherever the necessary storage happens to be so that we can keep the lights on. A countryside that was already despoiled by wind turbines blotting the landscape and possibly massive acreages taken up by solar arrays, which would be better used for food production, given the projected population figures.
              Thorium is sufficiently plentiful that it will ‘never’ run out (think many thousands of years, by which time other solutions (or needs, with all that that implies) may well emerge. At present its presence is a nuisance in many mining operations.
              The main problem with the green movement is that it can only see absolutes. Like it or not, cars are a fundamental part of life today, their development was a milestone on human progress and will of necessity continue to form a central part of human society If we go back from that, we will be on a very slippery slope to a world that will barely support on billion, let alone the nine or ten projected. It is not even sensible to think only in terms of public transport, unless the whole human population is going to live in towns and no one live in the countryside, but of course, that would mean progress in automated food production, which, even if possible, would, by definition, mean progress and as the idea that cars are a “waste” of money clearly shows, progress is not something the greens believe in, unless it is in the form of ever bigger wind turbines, of course.
              We need to fight climate change. Thanks to the efforts of the fossil fuel industry the need is urgent with many obstacles still to overcome, the main one of which is to offer those opposed to the notion of fighting climate change some security that their beloved industry can continue unabated and their stocks climb ever upwards. No matter how wedded one is to renewable technologies, wind and solar will never provide that security because they are both subject to periods of non-availability and no one can guarantee how long those periods will be.
              We have a battle on our hands. Just look at the discussions regarding the current financial situation in the world and note how many times climate change is even considered. The projections are that the earth is going to warm by between 4 and 6 C. Four degrees will be dire and six does not bear thinking about. Mother Nature has given us a sample this summer of how things might be. Perhaps, when the public catches on to how much they have been conned by the fossil fuel industry (when they join the dots) and see just what it means to them, they might accept wind and solar. But even then, LFTR reactors will still come out on top because of their reliability and because it is possible to hide a small modular LFTR reactor on a small industrial estate, leaving the countryside unspoiled. Pity the same cannot be said for the massive and very ugly wind turbines incongruously peppering what was once our beautiful countryside. But I suppose the greens can’t see them because they are so short-sighted.

            • I would be a lot more optimistic about solar if we could make and transport new solar energy with previously made solar energy. I don’t see that we will ever be able to. As a starter, please show me a plant that makes solar panels using only solar panels for their energy supply.

  6. Rober2D2 says:

    Nuclear can’t be replaced except by fossil fuels? I don’t agree at all. With the adequate policies, Spain passed from less than 5% to more than 16% electricity produced for wind in just 10 years (Until policies changed due to pressures made by gas industry). The reality is that if you want to do it, you can do it. France for example, produces more than 77% of electricity from nuclear plants. They could achieve that because they implemented adequate policies. Now, as their plants become old, and must be closed, they are going to be replaced. The question is: What will they choose to replace those plants? Due to financial costs and financial crisis, new nuclear plants seem not an option, while wind and sun are becoming more attractive. Nuclear power will probably have a slow decline worldwide, but it will probably be a very fast one in west Europe.

    • PeteTheBee says:

      It will be interesting to see what the bankrupt Euro-zone turns to for power, but anyone who thinks they can chase the wind for a “green economy” is seriously kidding themselves. The technology just isn’t there.

      I don’t believe the French govt has the slightest desire to turn away from nukes, they have served them so well for so long. They even have storage worked out.

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