Clean energy for Poland


Environmentalists were the least of it. The fig leaf to deny a lot of cost overruns because economically nuclear plants make no sense. It is good to have someone to blame but it is not reality.

Cheaper and much better is always going to win. Never mind waiting over 10 years and finding out the cost is considerably higher. False promises.

Pete, it is called a solution now that will expand without waiting over ten years.

I do not understand your point at all. Renewables are superior to nuclear because they are cheaper, easier/faster to build, and safer. Renewables are currently reducing CO2 emissions faster than nuclear.

Renewables generating 27 TWh per year in 5 years from now is better than AP1000 generating 9 TWh per year in 10 years from now. And all for less money!

China is currently building more renewable generation than nuclear generation every year. The same is true in USA, Europe, India, Japan, Brazil, Canada, Middle East, and Africa.


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Maybe his point is me me me…and my pension?

It is true that the feedwater pumps do not pump radioactive water and are outside of the primary coolant loops. But sudden loss of all feedwater is a cause for immediate reactor shutdown and likely would initiate use of the emergency coolant system.
Of course, designers knowing all this, have installed backup feedwater pumps so that one (or more) may be shut off for repairs while others are operating and even if cracks caused a failure in a pump they wouldn’t all fail at once


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From the information I read, the EPR has four main feedwater pumps, so it is unlikely all four would simultaneously fail.

In the US PWRs I am familiar with, the feedwater pumps are quality class 3. Quality class 1 and 2 are considered safety grade. Upon loss of feedwater, if the operators don’t manually trip the reactor, the reactor will soon trip itself on low steam generator level. At that point, safety grade auxiliary feedwater pumps will automatically start up to maintain steam generator level and core heat removal. Those aux pumps are either steam driven, electric motor driven, or both, and are regularly tested to make sure they start up and achieve proper pressure to perform their safety function.

  • Pete

That is assuming the for-profit operator was willing to take the hit to profits to properly maintain the systems.

I am reminded of a case in NYC some years ago, when the phone company suffered a mains outage. The way the POTS system was designed, diesel powered generators were supposed to kick in automatically and run the system. The company had not maintained the generators, so they failed to start. The alarms that should have warned the CO the generators had failed, also failed. So the CO carried on, oblivious, until the batteries that backed up the backup generators died. iirc, one of the major NYC airports lost all phone service on that one.

Ah, the net is a wonderful thing. 1991:


Just days after the US Westinghouse deal was announced, Polish officials have now signed agreements with South Korean representatives to develop other nuclear plants.

From the link above…
Officials from the Polish and South Korean governments, as well as from energy companies, met in Seoul on Monday to sign agreements laying out their cooperation on the construction of the second nuclear power plant. It is to be built with Korean technology in Patnow in southwestern Poland, some 230 kilometers (140 miles) from Warsaw.

% % % % % %

This deal with South Korea makes a lot of sense. The Koreans recently built four large nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates. Three of those plants are now in service, with the last reactor currently undergoing pre-start testing. As I mentioned in another post, the UAE needed to create a new regulatory structure for their nuclear power industry, as well as develop training for operators and engineers, and other nuclear-specific industry requirements. The South Korean companies, along with Westinghouse from the US, can now help with creating similar systems in Poland.

% % % % % %

My guess is the leaders in Poland saw the need to reduce their reliance on coal, but decided not to go down the unsuccessful and expensive path that Germany went with its Energiewende fiasco.

  • Pete

This is, of course, true. BUT, solar/wind generating 27TWh starting 5 years from now PLUS nuclear generating an additional 9TWh 5 years later is even better.



I disagree. You are not saying why it is better.

Instead of wasting the money and time on the 9 TWh nuclear reactor, the best option is use that money for an additional 27 TWh of renewables: (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal or biomass) for a total of 54 TWh (this would reduce CO2 emissions even faster). Base load power generation is not an issue because there is no shortage of base load power generation in USA, Canada, Europe, China, India, Japan, etc. etc. etc. Once we reach the point of not enough base load generation, then we may need some nuclear reactors or other dispatchable generation. That is more than 15 -20 years from now.


That has to be qualified by the cost. The cost is detrimental in reality.

I want a deflationary energy policy that is global.

All four may not fail, but they all need to be examined and fixed if it is a common mode flaw/failure.


Nuclear would be better. An MIT study stated that the AP1000 has a potential lifetime of 80 years, which is 4X that of your standard wind turbine. Add that to the fact that on average, nuclear plants are at maximum output >90% of the time, compared to a capacity factor for land wind in the mid 30% range. In effect, about 12X the energy capacity of wind turbines must be deployed to equal the electricity produced by the AP1000 over an 80 year lifespan.

This is reflected in another MIT study that projects it would be far more expensive to reach a low emissions world without nuclear energy than it would be with it.

Nuclear must be part of the zero carbon equation or it won’t happen in time.


Depends when you want to get started. You can have a windmill up in a couple months, a whole farm in under a year. I’ve never heard of a nuclear installation being done in anything but a multiple multiple of that time frame.


Of course isn’t this a little like companies being more interested in short term quarterly results rather than the long term?

And there have been many conversations like this over the year. Wind/solar aren’t predictable like nuclear. So you need to have some way to store it for later. So when looking at a sizable per centage of total power produced and consumed in a day you must include the construction, cost and usage of something like batteries. Which are decreasing in cost but are still a large additional investment.
They also take resources away from thing like BEVs. And they primarily only shift power for a few hours delay, not day to day or week to week.


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I don’t understand why this matters. Why does it matter than wind operates at 30% of the stated capacity over the long run, while nuclear operates at 90%?

These are just numbers that tell us about the operation of the different types of generation.

Does it bother anyone that natural gas peaker plants might also run at something like 30% (or 15% or something in that range) of their nameplate capacity?

It doesn’t bother me because that is the nature of that kind of plant’s energy production. Just like it doesn’t bother me for wind or solar or nuclear.


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But as the MIT study (I just read the executive summary, not the whole thing) points out, the nuclear power has to be dispatchable . Here’s why: If the goal is a carbon free grid, because of the intermittent nature of wind and solar you need a huge amount of wind and solar to meet peak demand and the rest of the time all that extra capacity is not needed or wanted. If you add even small amounts of dispatchable carbon free power, the amount of wind and solar you need goes way down, hence the cost of the whole system goes way down (Figure E 1). To put it another way, because there will be presumably lots of extra wind and solar most of the time, you don’t need more baseline, you need more dispatchable. So dispatchable nuclear solves a whole raft of problems.

But if the nuclear plant is providing dispatchable power, then it isn’t running at 90% capacity anymore. That’s a serious problem because the capital costs of building the plant are so high that you need to run it at 90% to even have a hope of breaking even. That’s one of the challenges with existing Diablo Canyon plant. At certain times there is so much extra wind and solar the utility thinks they can only run it at about 70% capacity, and they say that’s not enough to be cost effective.

The paper addresses the cost problem by pointing out an enormous number of things that need to change in order to make nuclear cheaper, most of which require massive government intervention and subsidies. In order for that to happen, a clear majority of politicians would have to conclude AGW and buying gas from Putin are problems. We’re not even close to that point politically, at least not domestically.


I don’t think that’s the case. Let’s look at an overly simplified situation with only solar power supplemented by batteries and a constant load. It’s all just a sizing problem. Because of the change in the hours of daylight as you go through the year, you get more power in the summer than in the winter. So you size the batteries such that their expected low charge over the winter doesn’t drop below some figure. The average charge in the summer will be higher than the average charge in the winter. That effectively moves summer production into the winter.

In the real world, it all becomes a big optimization problem. Costs to build and operate the various sources are the inputs, and juggling the sizes of each so as to reach the minimum cost (or perhaps minimum carbon output) is the task. The fact that things like solar and wind are intermittent doesn’t matter when you can add storage into the equation.

Come to think of it, their intermittent nature doesn’t matter even without storage. You just have to substitute some other type of dispatchable generation for the storage. Something like a natural gas peaker plant would suffice. It’s still an optimization problem.


This works if one has a sufficient amount of land appropriate for wind energy and are willing to deal with the uncertainties of total intermittency. The Poles apparently feel the need for and prefer the stability of nuclear. Their goal is to wean away from coal by 2040. Their nuclear plans fit that time frame. BTW they also made a deal with S.Korea for four more reactors.

It is only to illustrate how much more wind infrastructure is needed to provide the same amount of energy as a nuclear reactor. Presumable the acreage modified to become windfarms also has an environmental/economic cost that should be taken into consideration.

It means some of the power, whether nuclear or renewable, has to be dispatchable. To put it another way, in a 100% wind/solar system dispatchable power comes in the form of storage (typically batteries) and a smart distribution system. If half your power comes from nuclear, which provides a constant and dependable baseline power level, the dispatchable challenges are much reduced. Fewer batteries and less renewable redundancies are needed.

Not sure I understand you but it may be relevant that currently, utility size batteries can only hold their charge for 3-4 hours, so as mschmit says, they are only good for shifting power over a few hours, not between days and certainly not seasonally. Polish winters can be severe, so their desire for the stability of an always on energy source like nuclear is understandable.