Out nuclear power: technological possibilities and economic blockades

synthetic article Laurent Minguet, Author of blog Nowfuture, including many interesting figures, showing that a gradual exit from nuclear power is possible thanks to steam gas turbines.

Encrypted application to Wallonia.

The 2 main brakes at the exit of nuclear are 2 orders:

  • technology: the lack of flexibility and reactivity of the power of a nuclear reactor.
    This requires maintaining “high” consumption in a nuclear logic ...
  • economic: the profit of a reactor is around 250 million euros per year. A power plant with 4 reactors therefore brings in roughly 1 billion per year.
    This results in a magnificent “economic nuclear strike force”…

We also had a similar figure estimated on the basis of a margin of 4 euro cents per kWh on the 880 MW Fessenheim reactor...

Look at your price per kWh: that leaves a lot of "margin" for error ...

More: debate on the exit of the nuclear or visit our forum on nuclear electricity

The nuclear exit for dummies
by Laurent Minguet

Meanwhile a Wallonia-Brussels Federation 100% fueled by renewable electricity will have to go through a transitional phase based on three new turbine-gas-steam plants. These TGV plants are the ideal cradle for the development of renewable energies, because we can easily vary their production according to real needs. This is not the case for nuclear, which produces the same amount of electricity continuously, including at night when demand is very low. The main obstacle to the abandonment of the atom in Belgium is not the cost of renewable energy, it is the power of the nuclear lobby. In particular, he managed to infiltrate EDORA, the federation of renewable electricity, which has never taken a position on nuclear power, despite Fukushima.

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Many people are worried about the exit of the nuclear industry in Belgium. The stakes are high: it is a question of replacing by 2025 the production capacity of nuclear power plants, 5.900 megawatts (MW), half of which is located at Tihange.

In 2009, Wallonia produced slightly less than 34 TWh or billion kWh (1), including 24 TWh at Tihange and 10 TWh non-nuclear. Given that the Walloon Region consumes only 24 TWh per year (2), to satisfy our consumption it would be necessary to substitute nuclear power with a production capacity of 14 TWh per year.

An easy solution: 2 TGV plants

Until a Wallonia powered 100% renewable electricity, 14 TWh can be produced by 1.800 MW additional turbine-gas-steam (TGV), operating a little less than 8.000 h per year (90% of the time). An 900 MW project has already been licensed by Visé. It remains 14 years to achieve a second project of the same ilk. And that can go very quickly: between the decision to invest and the realization, it is necessary to count between 3 and 4 years.

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What will be the cost of the MWh produced?

The investment of these two plants amounts to only one billion euros, less than a year of "nuclear rent" (the share of the profit of Electrabel resulting from the fact that the company must not amortize any more its power plants) estimated by the federal energy regulator CREG at around two billion. The cost of this investment, funded at 5% over 20 years, is 4 € / MWh, to which must be added 3 € / MWh of operating expenses (3).

Today, the price of gas for a large consumer is about 28 € / MWh. With a production as regular as a nuclear power plant, a TGV plant can reach a yield of 58%. The cost of electricity would therefore be around 55 € / MWh (a little less than double the price of gas), which is three times less than what is charged to the residential consumer.

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No one can predict with certainty what the price of gas will be in the future, but to give orders of magnitude, the price at the Zeebruge terminal (year ahead) evolved between € 12 and € 22 / MWh in 2009 (4). The free on board market price (excluding transport) is around € 10 / MWh ($ 4 / MBTU).


Read more: exit of the progressive Walloon nuclear power with steam gas turbines

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