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Matt Robinson
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It is better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and put the matter beyond doubt
It is better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and put the matter beyond doubt

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Part 1a of my series of posts on Anti-Nuclear Myths. This post is related to part 1 (cost), and deals with LCoE reports.
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Here's something I wrote 5 years ago. On re-reading it I realise that it's still very true today. Not a word of it has lost any of its truth.

Some things never change.
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I've updated this blog article to include a commentary on LCoEs. Over the years I've been researching in the energy space I've encountered numerous LCoEs claiming to prove various energy types to be lowest cost.

I've seen an LCoE for each and every major alternative energy type that claims to prove their chosen type is the cheapest. They can't all be the lowest cost! They all cite peer reviewed literature, but (and here's the rub) they all make significant assumptions on the state of the economy, the environment, climate change, gas/uranium/coal prices, politics and popular opinion that are quite unverifiable.

So I commend to you my article as an attempt not to produce yet another LCoE, but as a warning about suggesting the high initial cost of nuclear power plants does not necessarily mean they are more expensive than other generators.

In fact, at least on a direct cost-of-plant basis, nuclear energy is by far the lowest cost.
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It's been a while since I last posted. Here's a post on solar CSP costs versus nuclear - real world examples.
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I have to say I think people are way too blasé about the capability of solar panels with storage to allow them to go completely off-grid.
It doesn't really matter how many panels you have because:

1) They will generate ZERO power at night, and next to nothing in the early morning and early evening hours.

2) Even on perfect days, peak generation can only occur during a very short period (output values plot to a bell CURVE, not a straight line). Even if your panels are positioned perfectly, they will only be perfectly positioned for moments in each day. Only solar tracking panels (very costly) can improve on that. Solar tracking mechanisms require power themselves, further reducing yield.

3) Any deviation from perfect conditions results in lower energy yield, often quite dramatic deficiencies in yield. Your best days will likely be during summer, but panels are also adversely affected by too much heat. In other times of the year, it's cooler, but the angle of the sun means you get less yield.

4) Perfect conditions (no clouds, temperature just right) are much rarer than you think.

5) Batteries can only be charged with excess generation, above what you use. Whenever yield drops below your needs (which will happen EVERY day), batteries are drained to take up the difference.

6) Panels may be guaranteed for 25 years, but maximum yield is not. You can expect maximum yield to decrease from the moment you put them in. How much decrease depends on the quality of the panels. The costs may generally be coming down, but quality ALWAYS costs more.

7) Inverters are generally guaranteed for a maximum of only 10 years. So you can expect to replace that inverter up to 3 times for the life of your plant. Yield depends heavily on the quality of the inverter, so expect to spend more if you want better yield.

8) Over 25 years your electricity needs are very likely to increase, particularly if you want that electric car! You will need to purchase more and more gear to meet your needs. More panels, more inverters and more batteries. Batteries are NOT guaranteed the same way as your solar system components and you can expect to replace batteries more often than your inverter.

9) You have become solely responsible for all your electricity needs. You must do all the monitoring, maintenance and management of the gear - all the time. It's a cost spiral that will ultimately force you to question whether going off-grid was a wise decision. Ultimately you'll either purchase a diesel or petrol backup generator, or go back to the grid, negating all that expense and hard work, in utter defeat.

10) Given all of the above, you will still need to drive significant efficiencies in your levels of consumption. You will need to become obsessed with energy usage and conservation over the long term. Are you and your spouse/family really ready for that? How much time and money are you willing to sacrifice? You may be keen environmentalists and 'planeteers' right now, but how long could that really last?

It seems everyone loves to hate the grid. Big utilities seem to be fleecing us at every turn and the costs keep spiralling. If you decide to go off-grid, you will learn - the hard way - some of the reasons why.

However, the grid is still the most environmentally friendly, cost effective and efficient way to provide electricity to large numbers of people. If it wasn't, it would not have evolved at all over many decades of industrialisation.

We just need to get our generators clean. The most environmentally friendly way to achieve this, and still obtain reliable 24/7 electricity when we need it, is NUCLEAR POWER.

SO stay on the grid. Put in solar panels to reduce your electricity bills and hedge against rate rises, but please, for the environments sake (and your own piece of mind) STAY ON THE GRID.
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Can anyone tell me whether this 500MWe Fast-Breeder reactor in India started as scheduled in September?

http://post.jagran.com/indias-fast-breeder-reactor-to-start-generation-in-september-1427188452
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Something of interest for all JAVA programmers. A cool code visualisation tool to be released soon. The blog consists of short tutorials on aspects of JAVA and features this new tool to demonstrate JAVA's inner workings.

http://www.codelytics.io/
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