German Nukes to be “On Standby”

September 6, 2022

Germany’s biggest problem with gas is the need for home heating, especially if winter gets cold. Nuclear has very little bearing on that, unless there is a massive switch to. heat pump technology.

Reuters:

 Germany plans to keep two of its three remaining nuclear power stations on standby, beyond a year-end deadline to ditch the fuel, to ensure enough electricity supply through the winter during a gas crunch.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a statement on Monday the move did not mean Berlin was reneging on its long-standing promise to exit nuclear energy by the end of 2022.

Habeck said a stress test by power grid operators had shown there could be hours of crisis in electricity supply over the winter given tightness in the European energy market.

“It remains very improbable that we will have crisis situations and extreme scenarios,” Habeck said. “I have to do everything necessary to fully guarantee security of provision.”

The move is especially hard to swallow for Habeck’s Greens, which grew out of the 1970s anti-nuclear movement, although the exit was initiated by former conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Habeck said the government still deemed nuclear power as a high risk technology generating radioactive waste that would burden future generations.

While all three of Germany’s remaining nuclear reactors would still go offline by Dec. 31, the southern plants Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim 2 would remain in reserve for any emergency until mid-April.

Both plants have a 1,400 megawatt (MW) capacity and are separately operated by E.ON (EONGn.DE) and EnBW (EBKG.DE).

15 Responses to “German Nukes to be “On Standby””

  1. John Oneill Says:

    Habeck and his Greens have zero credibility left. The waste they claim to be concerned about will sit harmlessly in casks built like Fort Knox. The waste from the coal they’re choosing to use instead will go straight into the environment, and into the lungs of their fellow citizens. And for every ton of uranium, and so of waste, a reactor would produce in one year, a coal plant of the same capacity would burn a million tons of coal, and emit over three million tons of CO2.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Which is why the Greens have been pushing for half a century for faster replacement of fossil fuels by clean safe fast cheap reliable renewable energy. It’s the lunatic right wing who has stymied that, largely by telling the same kinds of lies that John spreads. How can anyone even pretend to be as phenomenally malevolently ignorant as John Oneill?

      • John Oneill Says:

        Germany built 22 GW of nuclear capacity from 1970 to 1990, which made a quarter of the country’s power. Up till 2022, in a slightly longer period, they built 64 GW of solar and 65 GW of wind, which together, last year, made 17% of the country’s power. If they’d built twice as much, that percentage would not have doubled – it would be curtailed at peak production, and the neighbours would have blocked imports, as Poland and Czechia already do. What’s more, while nuclear and wind have almost the same calculated carbon footprint (12 vs 11 grams CO2/kWh, and 12g again for offshore), solar’s is nearly four times higher, and either, with storage, will have to add both the round trip efficiency loss, and the lifetime emissions of building the storage.

      • John Oneill Says:

        PS upvoted for cracking me up – I can show it to my sister in law who thinks I’m a left-wing lumatic !

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Aye, most of the cancer-inducing radiation damage over the past half century has been radioactive components in coal smoke, but despite the near-term energy shortage in Europe, coal is definitely on its way out.

      We’ll see if new nuclear power with self-contained cooling can be made cost-effective in the coming decades, and stop being partially funded by investors who are protected from the cost-increase risk by having taxpayers or ratepayers pick up the tab, or years behind schedule.
      I’m still thinking China (and their dependent countries) has the best shot at controlling the cost and delays in NPP construction, if only because they have more control over funding shenanigans of the people who make money building them.

      • John Oneill Says:

        Mobile units with generators, etc, that can quickly go to any troubled reactor and plug in to standard outlets, are a post-Fukushima retrofit for all US reactors. Accident tolerant fuels are also a retrofit, with different fuel assemblies currently being tested. They have alternative claddings that prevent the water/zirconium reaction, producing hydrogen and heat, if the temperature goes too high, and different compositions of fuel pellet inside, which transmit heat much better than straight uranium dioxide, and so don’t get so hot to begin with. Some of these should be more cost-effective too, as they can either pack in more uranium – e.g. uranium silicide – or can last for longer between refuellings. Going from eighteen month refuelling to two yearly would raise availability without unplanned scram from about 94.4% to around 96%.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          I did not know about that refueling change. Going from 18mo to 24mo is huge in terms of reduced downtime.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          all these ideas sound great, and all of them would cost a lot of money, as well as presenting very daunting technical challenges for a retrofit.
          Not the least of these would be finding enough skilled workers to enter a radioactive area, where they might receive their legal limit of radiation exposure for the year in a half hour.
          This is a challenge that nuclear operators found out about the hard way, early on. Back in the 70s, I remember reading in the Wall Street Journal how a minor repair job at Indian Point quickly used up all the available qualified welders in a several state area, as they all quickly maxed out.

          • John Oneill Says:

            The fuel retrofit is just a matter of taking out the old fuel assemblies and putting in the new ones. The mobile backup units are already in place – they don’t have to go to irradiated areas. ( I think they use automatic robot welders for tricky pipework now – that’s what they were doing with work on the Flamanville EPR that had to be rewelded, anyway, and that hadn’t even had any uranium in it at that stage.)

          • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

            AIUI, they use extra-expensive radiation-hardened robotics for a lot of work now. The higher the cost for something is (hordes of welders), the more it is worth it to address the problem.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        Corruption is corruption, whether it’s government or corporate. The building of coal burners in China is every bit as insane as it is here, it just takes a different form. I have no proof, only a few bits of evidence here & there, but I’m pretty sure their nuke program is much the same. Even with a 10 year head start, the Chinese nuke program has now fallen behind both wind & solar; each produces more new generation every year than nukes do.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          Corruption is corruption, but there is a fundamental difference in long-term cost and safety between a county bureaucrat fudging a wetlands report for a solar farm and the kinds of shortcuts that major projects like dams, pumped hydro and tens-of-billions of dollars NPPs might attract. (I took out offshore wind farms because, though they have high capital costs, they provide quick feedback on cost overruns and even completely shoddy implementation doesn’t threaten public safety.)

          It’s actually my cynical view that China’s practice of throwing people into nasty prisons or executing them for malfeasance is a more effective deterrent to gross misconduct than anything the liberal rule-of-law democracies have. After some high-profile imprisonments, local Chinese officials keep their skimming within certain bounds. :-/

      • J4Zonian Says:

        Who else but China, doing what’s needed? 50 GW……

        …of pumped hydro storage under construction. This is part of its plan for—according to various reports—120 GW by 2030, or more than 270 GW under construction by 2025. (The whole world has about 160 GW now, with China having 80% of it. Yes, reports are confused.)
        One Chinese grid also hopes for more than 100 GW of batteries by 2030.

        https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-06-14/china-s-massive-hydro-energy-storage-goals-may-be-getting-bigger

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          I loves me some pumped hydro, but after the major drought conditions in Europe and China in 2022 (even since that June 6 article), project architects have to review their siting plans to make sure they’re not assuming a stable water supply in a future with a broken jet stream.

          There are still plenty of sites for pumped hydro, but what might have been considered a promising site in, say, 2010, might be taken off the table after the sight of all that exposed lakebed and riverbed in China, Argentina and Europe that used to be under meters of water. After this year’s jaw-dropping drought, planners in China must be reviewing siting issues for some of their pumped hydro projects.

          We definitely need long-term energy storage in the form of blocked-river hydropower and pumped hydro, but that only works in places with relatively stable water supplies. (Covering reservoirs with solar panels to reduce evaporation would help improve some sites’ feasibility.)

  2. John Oneill Says:

    Mobile units with generators, etc, that can quickly go to any troubled reactor and plug in to standard outlets, are a post-Fukushima retrofit for all US reactors. Accident tolerant fuels are also a retrofit, with different fuel assemblies currently being tested. They have alternative claddings that prevent the water/zirconium reaction, producing hydrogen and heat, if the temperature goes too high, and different compositions of fuel pellet inside, which transmit heat much better than straight uranium dioxide, and so don’t get so hot to begin with. Some of these should be more cost-effective too, as they can either pack in more uranium – e.g. uranium silicide – or can last for longer between refuellings. Going from eighteen month refuelling to two yearly would raise availability without unplanned scram from about 94.4% to around 96%.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: