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United Kingdom Earth Power

Gas Cooled Reactors Shut Down In UK 120

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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  • Re:not big in UK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2014 @06:21PM (#47651243)

    Yeah, but like you said, the present neocon government is willing to give HUGE corporate welfare to make new nuclear reactor plans viable.

    I used to be entirely pro-nuclear on a scientific basis. Now I see how humans behave in practice when it comes to the trade-off between safety and profit/reputation. I see how much nuclear power is really reverse Hollywood accounting, where you hide how much of the real cost is borne by government. And I would prefer a transition from fossil directly to renewable, even if that means overriding the whiny bitches who somehow think fracking is safer and more economic than wind because you can't actually SEE what's happening underground.

  • Re:not big in UK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vanders ( 110092 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @07:01PM (#47651511) Homepage

    Unsurprising after the Windscale Fire that nuclear power is unpopular in the UK

    Windscale was 60 years ago, in an air-cooled open loop pile who's only purpose was to produce plutonium and other nuclear isotopes as quickly as possible and damn the consequences.

    Most people now don't even remember what Windscale was or even recognise the name. Out of those that do, a lot of them understand the different between Windscale and their local nuclear power station.

    To the best of my personal knowledge, nuclear power is not unpopular in the UK, Windscale or otherwise. If anything the attitude appears to be "Get on and build the damn things!" and "Why are we letting the French/Chinese build them, I remember when the UK used to build things!".

  • Sigh! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @07:10PM (#47651551) Journal
    Although it seems like they've recognized and are addressing a minor engineering issue before it becomes a problem, it seems like this will be portrayed as another in a continuing series of black eyes for the nuclear alternative to our energy needs.

    There is no present, perfect way to deliver the electricity those of us on the grid have come to appreciate. When you're talking about the mainstays of the grid's backbone (coal, crude, gas, hydroelectric, nuclear), none are generated without environmental consequence.

    Continue to develop the renewables, but for fuck's sake, don't take nuclear off the table based on the performance of aging plants.

  • by DaveAtWorkAnnoyingly ( 655625 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @07:48PM (#47651739)
    Correct. Sizewell B can load follow, but we (I work there) haven't done this for years. It is however getting more likely due to the increasingly unstable nature of the National Grid, partly due to lots of smaller generators of which the grid has no control over coming online (windfarms). I believe the AGRs can also load follow. The nukes generate at baseload, full output, whenever they're on. Our frequency control is maintained by the coal and gas generators.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @11:22PM (#47652563)
    It's things like this that are the answer to the "just build a standard reactor everywhere and have an economy of scale" folks. The other answer is that since nuclear power, more than all other alternative energies, is still in a process of improvement so it makes little sense to have a fifteen year plan to build a lot of identical reactors when there could be a vast improvement in ten years.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @11:46PM (#47652633)
    Would be nice at the sub-unit level but take a look at a thermal power station to get some idea that the scale makes it impractical once you have enough steam to spin a turbine. Big turbines with lots of high pressure steam get the job done far better than little ones. Of course you could have something like a lot of little pebble bed reactors making steam in parallel on the boiler side making it possible to just shut down one reactor, but after the stuff is boiled it's pretty well the whole unit goes down for just about anything.

    Notice that I used the word "unit". A thermal power station can be made up, for example, of eight units, with eight turbine rotors, eight boilers (nukes would include reactors at that bit) and each unit using half a cooling tower each. You can take 1/8 of the plant down without impacting on the rest and that's what's done with scheduled maintanance.
    However it looks like this situation is like grounding all of a type of aircraft when a fault is found, so it's thought of being serious enough to check out all the reactors of that type at once and being worth shutting down every unit of that type. So modularity is not going to save you so long as at least one part subject to the "recall" is required by each unit.

    The French had this a few times and had to shut down all of their commercial nuclear power plants at once on occasion but it's not a nuclear thing, it's the drawback of a monoculture.

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