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United Kingdom Earth Power

Gas Cooled Reactors Shut Down In UK 120

Posted by samzenpus
from the closing-the-doors dept.
mdsolar writes EDF Energy, the British subsidiary of the French state-controlled utility, said on Monday that it was shutting down three nuclear reactors and that a reactor with a fault that has been shut down since June would remain so. The facilities, which are being investigated as a precaution, generate nearly a quarter of nuclear capacity in Britain. The British Office for Nuclear Regulation said that there had been no release of radioactive material and no injuries. Industry experts did not anticipate much effect on electricity supplies or prices in the short term. EDF said that over the next few days it would idle a second reactor at the facility, Heysham 1, in northwest England. The company said it would also shut down two other reactors of similar design at Hartlepool in northeast England to investigate whether they had the same flaws.
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Gas Cooled Reactors Shut Down In UK

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  • not big in UK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iggymanz (596061) on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:15PM (#47651189)

    UK gets about 18% of its power from nuclear (before this shutdown). Four new plants are planned at two sites that EDF energy owns, ground broken for those

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:55PM (#47651485)

    a reactor with a fault that has been shut down since June would remain so

    The reactor, in fact, doesn't have a fault. There was a potential issue identified in the heat exchanger at one unit, found during a routine check, and the others have been shut down early to allow the heat exchangers at those to also be checked earlier than scheduled.

    As much as mdsolar wishes it was, this is in fact a non-issue. The system and safety protocols are working precisely as they were designed.

  • Re:Sigh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:39AM (#47653201) Homepage

    There are two issues unique to nuclear that case people not to want it.

    1. The extreme cost. As you are probably aware, the UK government has had to guarantee well above the going rate for energy generated from new nuclear plants for their entire lifetimes just to get them built. Even so, only the Chinese are interested in doing it. Current plants were built by the government that literally could not give them away in the 80s when they were privatised, until it agreed to shoulder most of the costs of running and decommissioning them.

    2. Single point of failure. As this event demonstrates problems with reactors can knock gigawatts off the grid for long periods of time. Other sources tend not to suffer from that kind of failure, and some sources like wind are extremely widely distributed and fault tolerant.

    As for judging nuclear by the performance of ageing plants, the newer designs are not significantly better in any of these areas. We can see what other countries are building and they have all the same problems.

  • Re:not big in UK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rei (128717) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:50AM (#47653369) Homepage

    My BS detector went off when I saw that graph, so I had to actually read the paper... and now I understand the graph and it's not at all what it seems to be.

    See that giant circle for silver? That doesn't mean "a massive amount of silver", or even "a massive amount of environmental impact from silver". These circles are sized proportionally to how much more of a resource is needed than in the current generation mix, if all power came from that source. Since almost no silver is used in the current generation mix, anything that actually uses silver - even if a rather small amount - will dramatically inflate its circle.

    In all of the study's graphs, the amount of silver used is so small that the bars don't even register one pixel tall, so you can't really estimate how much they're talking about. The only graph where you see any height at all, Fig 8, is the graph relative to total world production - but even in their highest scenario it's less than 0.5% of world production. And the study itself notes, "Silver in PV cells might be replaced by other metals". Silver has only a 6% better conductivity than copper, it's not a big difference. And if you're willing to use slightly thicker or more frequent connects, you can use cheap and hyper-abundant aluminum. Either way, the amount of metal involved is practically irrelevant, the interconnects we're talking about here are practically microscopic.

  • by Captain Hook (923766) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:55AM (#47653379)

    The system and safety protocols are working precisely as they were designed.

    Actually, the faults were found by chance, there wasn't a specific check for this which could be scheduled and signed off, it was just an engineer noticed something odd while doing other inspections.

    So while you are right in that this is not a huge safety issue and we weren't minutes from disaster, I wouldn't agree that the system and safety protocols are particularly brilliant either.

  • Re:Jaw dropping (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brambus (3457531) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @09:46AM (#47654857)
    You made the very basic error of comparing nameplate capacity. You also need to consider capacity factor, which for solar in UK latitudes is around 0.1 - 0.15, whereas the EPRs that they plan to construct here are 0.9. So taking that into account, your 13 GW utility scale solar suddenly shrinks to <2 GW, whereas the nuclear plant is still around 3 GW. So before we even get to dispatchability of the power source and seasonal loading, solar loses by about 1/3 to the most wildly overpriced nuclear power plant I've ever seen in my life. Next you need to consider that the nuclear plant is planned to operate for 60 years, whereas the solar plant is most likely going to need replacement after 30 or at most 40 years. Finally, the $27B cost of the plant seems to me to be wildly out of whack with what these very same reactors cost in places like China [wikipedia.org] (cheaper by about a factor of 4x). Meanwhile Russia is also building modern VVER-1200s [wikipedia.org] at an equivalent cost of 4x cheaper than the plant in the UK. Make of this what you will, but it appears to me that the western world is losing its industrial prowess and losing it fast.

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