A Brief Nuclear Update

World nuclear power generation slipped again in 2009, continuing its slide since its peak in 2006. The data shown is from BP's compilation of statistical data, but data from the World Nuclear Association shows the same pattern--peak production in 2006, with declines each year since 2006.

The part of the world with what appears to be the clearest pattern of declining nuclear power generation is what I call OECD-US, the is, the countries in the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation, minus the US. This group would include Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, and Mexico.

It is possible that there are particular accidents and facilities being taken off line for upgrades or other reasons that are causing this pattern. But with aging facilities, it may very well be a pattern we can expect in the future, at least in the parts of the world with aging nuclear facilities.

Besides OECD-US, both the US and the Former Soviet Union (FSU) showed dips in nuclear power generation in 2009, at least partly related to declining electricity demand in general. The only group which showed an increase in nuclear power generation in 2009 was the group I call "Remainder", which includes China, India, and many "developing" nations.

Last year, Michael Dittmar wrote a series of posts on the future of nuclear energy. Brian Wang, who writes at nextbigfuture.com, and under the name advancednano at The Oil Drum, took issue with the projections he made. Brian Wang made a bet with Michael Dittmar regarding the future of generation of nuclear electricity, using World Nuclear Association figures, which are slightly lower than BP amounts, but seem to follow the same pattern as BPs, where both are available.

Wang forecasts a 46% increase over 2008 power generation levels by 2018, while Dittmar foreacsts a small decrease in the same timeframe. For the 2009 year, Wang forecast production of 2,600 billion kWh while Dittmar forecast production of 2,575 billion kWh. The actual amount was 2,560 billion, which was lower than either of the estimates, so Dr. Dittmar won for this year.

There was also a bet with respect to uranium production for 2009.

Wang estimated that for 2009, world uranium production would be 49,722 tonnes of uranium while Dittmar estimated that world uranium production would be 44,000 tonnes. The actual amount, based on figures of the World Nuclear Association was 50,272 tonnes, which is higher than either estimate. Therefore Brian Wang is winner on this part of the bet.

With one bet going each way, I would describe the situation as basically a tie.

Going forward, it is not entirely clear what will happen. The spot price of uranium is very low now, only a bit over $40 a pound. This low price is reportedly occurring because of the high production and low costs of Kazakhstan.

Another reason the price is low is because the US is because recycled US bombs are reaching the market. According to mineweb:

"Prices continue to be dampened by a low level of ‘uncovered utility requirements in the West, concern over further production gains in Kazakhstan and the barter of U.S. Department of Energy UF6 inventory to pay for an environmental cleanup at a closed Ohio uranium enrichment plant," Mohr advised.

The announcement of a DOE barter sale to USEC Inc., a leading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants, was blamed for the beginning of a uranium price decline a year ago. The sale will end in the third quarter of this year. However, Mohr said U.S. Energy Secretary Chu intends to sell additional federal uranium inventory under another program.

Long-term contract prices are down, but not as much.

The long-term contract uranium price is US$58.00/lb. It is down from US$61/lb January 2010, though has been relatively stable, compared with the more thinly traded spot market price, since peaking at US$95/lb from May 2007 to March 2008.

Australia has instituted a new tax on mining profits, and this is discouraging new production there. China has said it is planning a similar tax. Both higher taxes and lower prices would tend to discourage uranium production, although it is not certain by how much.

Current uranium consumption seems to be around 66,000 tonnes a year. The amount by which current production of 50,272 tonnes needs to be ramped up to meet consumption depends on whether nuclear generation is really increasing or decreasing. (Part of the demand is now being met by recycled bomb material from both US and Russia, but in not too many years, this will be exhausted.)

If nuclear generation is set to rapidly increase, as Brian Wang forecasts, then very large increases in uranium production will be needed over the next few years, so that production matches demand. But if nuclear electricity generation is really falling as a result of older facilities going off line, then annual uranium consumption can be expected to drop from the current 66,000 tonnes. If this happens, perhaps not too large an increase from current production levels is needed.

One thing that strikes me about nuclear electric generation is the limiting factor is likely capital availability. This is likely the same limiting factor for new oil production, new natural gas production, and new wind production. To the extent these are all tied together, future new production from all of these sources may move together more than most would expect.

A decline in debt availability (or the unwillingness of governments to guarantee more debt) could be a limiting factor in the production of all of these resources, since capital is now often made available through debt financing. With governments in increasingly poor financial condition, their ability and willingness to guarantee the additional nuclear debt required to refurbish old facilities and add new ones may be limited.

These considerations would suggest that growth in nuclear generation may be be limited to a few countries which are able to finance new reactors--perhaps China and some other Asian nations. To the extent that old reactors are taken off line elsewhere, total nuclear electric generation may continue to decline.

One thing that strikes me about nuclear electric generation is the limiting factor is likely capital availability.

I also worry about capital limits, since we appear to be facing several very substantial needs for it in the next couple of decades: build-out of renewables, very large upgrades in the electric grid, etc.

And it always seem worth noting that the cumulative costs for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have now passed $1T; at $5B per for a nuclear plant, we could have replaced the current US nuclear fleet twice over. The killer for that particular piece of misguided for policy is in the opportunity cost, what we could have done with the money instead of throwing it away.

Our local electric cooperative recently announced another rate increase. I noticed that the % increase diminishes with increased usage, rewarding consumption. They have produced a slideshow to explain why an increase in rates is necessary. They are essentially caught in a credit "Catch 22", and are slaves to growth like most of our essential services (as Gail explains above). Their presentation is simple and concise: http://www.brmemc.com/rateincrease/Rate_Increase_Explained.html

Members used to get an annual rebate if the (co-op) utility showed a profit. This hasn't happened for years (according to family members). I post this as a local example of why growth in nuclear power and most other energy sources has declined. These folks are trying to pay off the debts they have already incurred, anticipating ever-increasing demand. I see this as being a good example of the state of our overall economy. It occurs to me that these rate increases may cause a sort of feedback loop, encouraging cash-strapped customers to conserve even more, further reducing sales revenues (though I'm sure that our current heatwave is good for business).

Disclosure: We are not connected to the grid and are not an electricity customer of this co-op.

Thanks for the interesting comment. The negative feedback loop I would agree is the most likely outcome. The depression as a whole I think generates much of this same -feedback in most subsets of the economy. Your comment really does speak to the possibility of an economy that can exist without growth?

There are two kinds of capital: Financial capital and real capital. Real capital limits refer to an existing stock of buildings, machines, tools, trucks, computers, and the concept can be extended to human capital; we have only x number of nuclear engineers. Real capital does indeed create binding constraints for more investment in an industry.

Financial capital refers to various kinds of money, equity, or debt. Note that the Fed can create money without limit, and it will be under pressure to do so to finance increasing government deficits. Because of the Fed's unlimited ability to create new dollars, I do not think that financial constraints will limit the investment into nuclear power. However, for there to be investment there must also be profit. As the cost of coal-fired electricity increases, I expect the profitability of nuclear electrical power generating investments to increase.

Thus, I disagree with Gail on this one big issue as to whether or not there will be financial limits to investment in nuclear energy over the next twenty years.

Thus, I disagree with Gail on this one big issue as to whether or not there will be financial limits to investment in nuclear energy over the next twenty years.

Are you saying that in your view all new nuclear power plants will be built by governments rather than private capital?

Private capital certainly does have limits on availability and right now the U.S. government is willing only to provide loan guarantees.

I expect private capital to be massively subsidized by financial guarantees by government. This has been the history of the nuclear industry in the U.S., and I think it will be the future too.

At the current moment, capital is actually plentiful if there were any kind of guarantees by the government or strong companies. Bond rates are the lowest in many decades. This should be very favorable to nuclear power plant construction.

It would be interesting to see Greece or Portugal or Spain guarantee any nuclear debt.

In fact, as we go forward, I expect to see more and more of this issue. This is the point I am making. I don't expect Britain and the US will be able to go on indefinitely, just raising their debt and guaranteeing more debt.

Yes, but loan guarantees are not the same thing as money. The capital and appetite to spend it must still be there.

It seems a very big stretch to me to say that nuclear will be built in the environment I foresee with just loan guarantees. We are, in my view, entering a period of astonishing austerity driven by a massive multi-decade deleveraging like the Great Depression but bigger. In such an environment, private capital switches to wealth preservation and doesn't want to take risks.

That leaves just the governments willing to spend, if they can beyond attempting to keep the mess from falling apart. If the American Society of Civil Engineers says we need $2.2 trillion to bring the U.S. infrastructure up to a workable level, even if they are too high by half much of our money will go toward decaying bridges, rupturing sewer and water systems, etc.

I think you and I are seeing a very different future economic environment and that is impacting what we both see is and is not likely.

Let's think about the issue in terms of net energy. There is less and less net energy flowing into the system. In terms of Charlie Hall's cheeze slicer, there is less and less net energy coming back for society to use for reinvestment and for other purposes. See for example this post:

Are you saying this basically doesn't matter? Money is divorced from the actual output of the economy. The government just prints some more. No one will be the wiser, if it has to keep printing more and more. There may be inflation, and as resources deplete, more and more inflation, but so what? No one will catch on. We will be able to obtain a disproportionate share of the world's resources (since the total is going down, but what we want to spend for concrete and steel and other items for say, nuclear, is is not), just by spending more of these inflated dollars?

I think to some extent, we have been able to fool ourselves, and think that there is more net energy (or more true output from society) than there is, by financing everything with debt--but much of the recent financing is of the type that can never be paid back with interest. Our net energy is likely already decreasing--certainly in the countries that are not ramping up coal use. It is likely that it will get worse over time.


Nuclear energy competes directly against coal. I think that coal's true costs will be recognized--and sooner rather than later. Thus I see that nuclear has a huge competitive advantage against coal: It does not emit vast quantities of CO2, mercury, soot and other pollutants. Over time I expect the nuclear industry to expand while the coal industry (eventually) contracts.

There is less and less net energy flowing into the system.

We have an enormous surplus of energy right now. We could reduce our energy consumption by 25%, and still have plenty left for essential functions such as building nuclear or wind generation.

Which 25% did you have in mind?

Start with the military.

We could do it pretty much across the board, or focus on personal transportation.

Personal transportation accounts for almost 50% of US oil consumption. The average US light vehicle carries only 1.15 people: increase that to 2.3 (perhaps with mandatory carpooling, enforced in part by 100% HOV highways), and you're there virtually overnight. OTOH, the average US light vehicle only gets 22 MPG: increase that to 44 over 10 years, and you're there.

If we reduced at least some across the board, that would be easier. Freight wouldn't be hard to reduce by 25%: move some long-haul trucking to rail, slow down truck and ships by 10%. Aviation could reduce speed and increase capacity factors to reduce consumption by 10% pretty easily.

There's still about 400K bpd of home heating oil in use in the US: it's time to get rid of that.

On financial vs. real capital, you could distinguish them as M1, M2, M3, as in cash, savings, bonds, etc, and as K1, K2, K3, as in kilograms, kilowatts, and most important of all, kilocalories.
M economics vs. K economics.
Economists work almost exclusively in the M economic sphere, where money can call forth endless supplies of drilling steel, nuclear pressure vessals, coal draglines, etc.
We live in the K world.


You are correct that we live in the K world of barrels of oil, tons of coal, cubic yards of concrete, and so forth. However, it is worth noting that financial constraints can at times bite harder than constraints on the resources of production--Land, Labor, (real) Capital, Entrepreneurship and management skills.

Gail the Actuary, for example, sees financial limits as the binding constraint on real output as we move into a post-Peak world. My own guess is that a command economy, as we had during World War II, can break through market-based financial constraints. Thus I do not think that financial limitations will work as a long-term cause of stable or declining real GDP.

GDP around the world is going to go down as oil becomes relatively scarcer and more expensive; real GDP will fall more or less in lockstep with falling global oil production.


The US produces 150% more GDP now than in 1979, with less oil.

Land freight can go by rail, and reduce fuel consumption by 70%, then go by electrified rail, and eliminate the rest. Water freight can reduce speed by 20%, and reduce fuel consumption by 50%, then install wind propulsion and batteries and eliminate the rest. Personal transportation can go hybrid, and reduce fuel consumption by 50%, install batteries and eliminate 40% of the remaining 50%, and use ethanol for the remaining 10%.

We don't need oil.

How much of that GDP is simply inflation and government spending? GDP is not a good metric to use.

How much of that GDP is simply inflation

Very little. It's not that hard to count things, especially over 30 years.

and government spending?

Government spending is real consumption. You may think other forms of consumption would be more useful, but that's different.


In any case, it's beside the point: Don was talking about GDP.

$1T; at $5B per for a nuclear plant, we could have replaced the current US nuclear fleet twice over.

Besides that it is more like $10B per nuclear plant:

The bid from France's Areva NP also blew past expectations, sources said. Areva's bid came in at $23.6 billion


Florida Power and Light estimates its two new plants will cost as much as $24 billion.

With $1T; at $1.4B per 1GW of wind power, that leads to 714 GW of wind power producing more than double as much electricity than the current nuclear fleet without depending on uranium imports and high decommissioning costs:

Exelon estimates that it would require more than $1.1 billion (in 2007 dollars) to decommission the plant today

Needless to say that First Solar is already at: $0.81B per GW for photovoltaics:

Some people keep on forgetting that people need energy for a hot shower and a coffee in the morning and don't necessarily need to save nuclear power at all costs...

Just curious - have you ever tried take a hot shower in the morning in a house with solar hot water heaters? I have - not a pleasant experience unless you are really lucky and the first one up.

I have also been becalmed for a couple of days on the open ocean on a sailboat - also not a pleasant experience because I knew that every extra day on the water was one less day on the beach in Bermuda because we had a fixed return date.

Your quoted prices for wind and solar are pretty impressive. I would bet that the people in New England whose electricity supplier has just signed a power purchase agreement with Cape Wind would love to have access to that kind of power. Instead, after collecting all available federal subsidies, the seller will be providing electricity at $207 per MW-hour starting in 2013 and escalating at 3.5% per year (perhaps the wind gets more expensive with inflation) for the next fifteen years.


I also wonder about the solar numbers that you quoted. Abengoa Solar, the company that has been awarded a DOE loan guarantee of $1.45 billion, will be spending about $2 billion to build a solar thermal plant that will generate about 250 MWe at the peak of the day. It is not clear how much extra heat will be collected and put into storage.

That works out to about $8,000 per kilowatt of peak capacity for a system that will have a CF of about 25%.


That is pretty expensive considering NuScale is quote a bottom up price estimate of about $4,000-4,400 for a 270-540 MWe power plant that should be able to achieve a CF of 80-90%.


Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast

I believe that CSP plant will have a six hours of thermal storage built in to it which will significantly increase the capacity factor.

Good references on small nuclear reactors!

I hope some day that the renewable and nuclear people can be more supportive of each other as there is a place for both depending on the situation. All of the negative talk from each side only serves to slow down any development of both technologies. We will need it all.

Besides the fact that the nuclear industry in Europe is currently running a massive PR campaign against renewables and efficiency: We won't need it all. We will need what is most cost effective on a given location, since you can't spend the same Dollar twice.

And as far as the US and its energy needs are concerned: Most cost effective is an increase in US-efficiency as there is absolutely no reason for the US to use double as much energy, despite having a lower average living standard than some much more efficient European countries.

Agreed, efficiency is great and the US will be reducing its consumption, one way or another. However, given the laws of thermodynamics, we cannot do work with negawatts. We still need to find at least partial substitutes for the energy lost from depleting oil resources which will leave a huge BTU shortfall in the world's primary energy supplies.

I have not seen anything about such a campaign in Sweden. Could you give some sources to read?
I realy dont see how such a campaign against renewables and efficiency could succeed, it would get shreeded by any politician, journalis, engineer or home owner smarter then a pile of rocks.

Here in the UK the rocks tend to be smarter than any of those except maybe the engineers.

I mostly notice PR-efforts by the nuclear industry in Switzerland and Germany.
The Swiss nuclear power operators want to build 3 new nuclear power plants and the German nuclear power operators want to keep their nuclear power plants running as long as possible. In order to reach these goals they need to fight renewables and efficiency (they don't attack coal, because the same companies who own nuclear power plants typically also own coal power plants).
At least in Switzerland they do this by preventing efficiency and renewable efforts (apart from hydro) on a political level and scaring the public by telling them: If Switzerland won't build new nuclear power plants, the lights will go out, as there are apparently no alternatives to more nuclear power. Which is obviously absurd given the fact, that Switzerland sits on 55% flexible hydro power and trades (imports from France at night and exports to Italy during day time) about the same amount of electricity as the entire country consumes.

Besides having read articles (in local newspapers), which badmouth any renewable and efficiency efforts and are often written by a PR guy rather than an actual journalist. Here's an example of TV spot run by a Swiss nuclear power operator showing a dimwit with a photovoltaic-watch that doesn't run because it's been raining:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8VeugmAsx8 (Ironically the company which has been running ads like this, also had a nuclear power plant with 1.2 GW not running for almost 6 month - not just a rainy day.)
Or if you google for PV or solar energy in Switzerland you receive ad-links from the 3 Swiss nuclear power operators (axpo, alpiq and bkw) or their PR-sites (one domain has the ingenious name: alwaysenoughelectricity.com), telling you, that PV and solar energy is basically of no use:

Of course there are journalists, engineers and politicians which know and lay out the facts, but at the end of the day the power industry only needs to win the majority in the parliament or the public opinion (which is significantly easier, if they're the one sitting on the dough).

What a waste of PR and mental energy! In Sweden has the nuclear power companies gotten what they wanted such as an ok for upratings and life lenght extensions and now also an ok for replacing old plants with new ones. But this only makes money for them if they actually produce electricity.

Having fewer competitors gives higher prices but what have they to worry about with todays trends? Everybody knows that the Danes soon will start running out of natural gas, there is a wee bit of discomfort in being dependant on Russian politics to get energy, the global coal markets has sinkholes in China and soon India and peak oil will shift everything but the need for power.

Fighting renewables and efficiency is like breaking your neighbours shovel to monopolize snow shovelling before the blizzard hits and suffocates everything.

Even worse and more ironic is the Swiss Poeple's Party (SVP) which is constantly and apparently fighting for Switzerland's independence, but at the same time blocking any efficiency and renewable efforts.
The same party just convinced the majority of the public that minarets somehow threaten Switzerland and that they need to be banned (4 were built during the last 60 years). So I wouldn't be surprised if they also manage to convince the public that we need 3 new nuclear power plants.
And by the way they also say, that they just want to replace 3 old reactors with 3 new reactors but what they don't say and most people do not know, is that they want to replace 3 x 0.35 GW reactors with 3 x 1.6 GW reactors, which will produce almost 5 times as much electricity and is obviously only an option if the country is getting significantly more inefficient. (Besides the lifetime of the 3 old reactors is unlimited, so they don't have to shut them down, even if they build 3 new ones.)

Just curious - have you ever tried take a hot shower in the morning in a house with solar hot water heaters? I have - not a pleasant experience unless you are really lucky and the first one up.

People here don't have problems with these systems over here. But then again I live in central Europe where we can draw from dependable plumbers...

Regardless, better would be to use heat pumps in order to increase the grid flexibility - similar to France which runs electric water heaters at night when inflexible nuclear power plants generate a surplus of electricity. At the end of the day electric water heaters don't care whether they are powered by homegrown wind or imported uranium...

the seller will be providing electricity at $207 per MW-hour starting in 2013 and escalating at 3.5% per year (perhaps the wind gets more expensive with inflation) for the next fifteen years.

The feed in tariffs for wind in Germany are between 5.28 cents/kWh 8.36 cents/kWh and wind manufacturers are obviously still capable to generate a profit with these prices otherwise windfarms in Germany would simply not exist. Then as opposed to nuclear, wind does not get government loan guarantees....

And if you cared to read what I wrote, I didn't quote any solar thermal numbers - oh well, ignorance is bliss.

With $1T; at $1.4B per 1GW of wind power, that leads to 714 GW of wind power producing more than double as much electricity than the current nuclear fleet...

Two questions and a comment.

  1. Is the $1.4B per GW for wind faceplate, or deloaded based on duty cycle? Many nuke plants are up to 90% duty cycle, versus 30-40% for wind depending on where you site it (offshore generally has better duty cycle figures than onshore, for example).
  2. Does that cost for wind include the grid build-out needed to (a) make wind reliable enough to be used for baseload and (b) move wind on a large scale from the Great Plains to the other parts of the country? My intuition is that the wind resource quality on the GP is enough better to make the grid upgrades more attractive than siting turbines in lower-quality locations.
  3. The current nuke fleet is essentially all late-1950s or early-1960s designs. It seems at least a little unfair to compare those to a 2010-era wind turbine. No one knows what it will really cost to build the 10th or 20th nuke plant based on -- just to pick technologies that we could have had in hand if we hadn't taken 30 years off -- fast-spectrum modular factory-built reactors. Potentially, such technologies significantly reduce the cost of nukes, including waste disposal and decommissioning.

The current nuke fleet is essentially all late-1950s or early-1960s designs. It seems at least a little unfair to compare those to a 2010-era wind turbine.

For various reasons, there is a significant % on this board who are disinclined to even consider nuclear, not even the Gen-IV designes that produce far less radioactive waste with much shorter half-life (some designs can even burn waste from older reactors). I like the eco-friendliness and simplicity of wind/solar myself, but also realize that it's foolish to take a perfectly good (and more easily scaled) energy source like nuclear off the table as we face the downslope of Hubbert's peak.

Gen IV exists only on paper!

A good definition of the advantages of Gen III and its advantages would be welcome.
(yes it is supposed to be a factor of 10 more safe (but recent EPR troubles indicate otherwise) and as such a factor of 2(?) more expensive per kwh)


How is nuclear more scaleable than smaller, modular systems? It is a fallacious to assume that only large power plants are scaleable; many smaller plants accomplish the same purpose and carry less risk and shorter lead times, which gives them a considerable advantage, particularly in a risk-averse investment environment like the one we have now.

Here is an example that demonstrates the point: You could invest the same quantity of money in nuclear plants or wind farms for roughly the same amount of average capacity (i.e., accounting for the 25-40% capacity factor for wind) but your nuclear plant will take ten years to complete, while the wind farm will be done in perhaps two or three years depending on the site. Equity investors will not want to risk uncertain returns on their investment that do not even begin until ten years in the future. Plus nuclear, like wind, has major up-front costs, but unlike wind also major back-end costs associated with dismantling and waste disposal/long-term storage. We haven't even resolved this issue for the existing fleet of nuclear plants, let alone if nuclear energy were scaled up.

You get a much faster return on your investment (and faster energy payback) by redirecting the same funds spent on nuclear to smaller, modular renewable or micropower systems. The money/energy you get back faster can in turn be reinvested in expanding the buildout of said renewables, so ultimately the same amount of money invested in wind or other renewables, even for the same initial amount, can net you easily double the total energy return or even far more once you account for reinvesting the profits. By the time the first nuclear plant is done, you would already have several generations of wind farms in place and have generated a great many kilowatt-hours already, compared to zero for the nuclear option.

Renewables are far more scaleable. It's not even close.

but also realize that it's foolish to take a perfectly good (and more easily scaled)

The world added over 38 GW of wind power last year at a growth of over 40% compared to 2008:

And the world installed 7.5 GW of PV in 2009 and is expected to install 15.2 GW of PV this year:

On the other hand net nuclear power was actually reduced last year:

On the other hand net nuclear power was actually reduced last year

Yes, but is that because of the Chernobyl/3-Mile Island effect on public opinion, and the fact we haven't had a U.S. reactor built in some 30 years? It's certainly not because we *can't* expand capacity.

Re: the other comments about scalability and speed of building wind/solar, I agree renewables *could* be scaled up to a significant % of power generation, but 2-3 years seems a tad optimistic barring a massive Manhattan-style government project. Also, as advancednano pointed out, nuclear can generate power for 60+ years vs. wind for 15-25 years. That long tail significantly boosts the attractiveness of nuclear.

"Yes, but is that because of the Chernobyl/3-Mile Island effect on public opinion"

Ah, yes. If it weren't for that silly public who have the ridiculous notion that we should learn and be warned by past experience!

And, yes again--the Manhattan project was just a wonderful effort--it really helped out the good people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Maybe another one will work similar wonders for all of our beautiful cities.

Wind is at 300 TWH per year worldwide now and solar is at 20 TWH total.
Nuclear is 2559 TWH.
We have passed the initial restart phase with reactors in the development pipeline and will start seeing ten or more completions per year.
the world did complete 213 reactors during the 1980s

So adding 100-200 TWH per year with nuclear will be happening again.

Operational improvements doubled the nuclear power generated without new reactors. Operations can still be improved in France, Japan, Ukraine and other sub-90% capacity factor countries.
Nuclear plants can have extended uprates to allow existing plants to get up to 20% more power in project that can be done in 18-30 months of elapsed time and with just the regular refueling downtime.

When 2011, 2012 and 2013 numbers start rolling in, then as I indicated all the talk about the 2006-2009 period of nuclear generation stagnation will be shown as the temporary situation that it was.

You should also put up the generation additions for coal and natural gas and hydro. Those are higher than wind worldwide.

China's overall power consumption rose 24.2 percent year-on-year to 969.5 billion kWh in the first quarter of 2010. China's total power consumption is to hit about 4.10-4.17 trillion kWh in 2010, up 12-14 percent year on year. Based on the estimation on power consumption, the research body of State Grid further forecasted that the total power coal demand would reach between 1.74 billion tonnes and 1.76 billion tonnes during the same period, up about 10.8-12.1 percent year on year. the coal-fuel power generation will reach between 335 and 341 million kWh in 2010, a year-on-year growth of 12.0 to 13.9 percent could be expected, while the coal consumption for power generating will stand at around 1.56 billion tonnes to 1.58 billion tonnes, up 10.3 to 12.1 percent over a year earlier.


We have passed the initial restart phase with reactors in the development pipeline and will start seeing ten or more completions per year.
the world did complete 213 reactors during the 1980s

So adding 100-200 TWH per year with nuclear will be happening again.


When 2011, 2012 and 2013 numbers start rolling in, then as I indicated all the talk about the 2006-2009 period of nuclear generation stagnation will be shown as the temporary situation that it was.

The numbers at http://www.iaea.org/programmes/a2/ show the dramatic ramp-up in construction:

# of reactors under construction at beginning of year:

2010: ****.****1****.**\*\**\*.*\**3****\****4****\****5****.*
2009: ****.****1****.****\*\**\***\3****.*\**4****.*
2008: ****.****1****.****\*\**\***\3****.*
2007: ****.****1****.****2**\*\**\*3*
2006: ****.****1****.****2****\*\**
2005: ****.****1****.****2****.***\3
2004: ****.****1****.****2****.****3***

# of GW under construction at beginning of year:

2010: ****.****1****.**\\2*\**\****3*\**.****4\***.****5**
2009: ****.****1****.***\\**\*.\***3**\*.****4*
2008: ****.****1****.***\\**\*.\***3**
2007: ****.****1****.****2\\**\**
2006: ****.****1****.****2*\\*.
2005: ****.****1****.****2****.\
2004: ****.****1****.****2****.****

# of GW in operation at beginning of year (− 350 GW):

2010: ~~> ****.***\6***\.**\\7\
2009: ~~> ****.****6\***.\***\\*
2008: ~~> ****.****6*\**.*\**7\\*
2007: ~~> ****.****6*\**.*\**7\
2006: ~~> ****.****6**\*.**\*7**
2005: ~~> ****.****6****\****
2004: ~~> ****.****6****.

And many reactors have been and more will be shut down.

And even if wind and PV additions will stop growing: 300 GW of wind and PV will be added in the next 6 years...

But I'm glad that you at least noticed one of the links I posted.

Is generation IV nuclear reactors the liguid fluorine thorium type or is one of these actually in existance producing electric energy?

The current nuke fleet is essentially all late-1950s or early-1960s designs.

That's why I only compare 2010 nuclear power with 2010 wind power - if you cared to read what I wrote.

...so as in the OP's explanation of the decrease in Russian nuclear production - reduced demand due to high cost - we may expect to see demand destruction due to high costs in general. I think even without problems in capital, this naturally then puts the focus on low cost production before all else, which certainly favors coal.

Nicely summarized, Gail. We used less of everything last year except hydro, according to BP:

Oil	NG	Coal	Nuclear Hydro   Total
-1.96%	-2.36%	-0.25%	-1.56%	1.21%	-1.33%

This is consumption in mtoe, btw, from the Stat Review Consumption by fuel table.

Your link to the bet was from the comments section of one of Dittmar's articles, but Brian had a dedicated guest post as well: The Oil Drum | Uranium supplies are likely to be adequate until 2020. Brian also provided this handy table of the forecast, year by year:

Likely economics will dictate the winner for this year as well. What's the latest on electrical demand? STEO forecast is for US demand to be at slightly less than 2008 levels this year, up 3.6% from 2009.

IMO the main hurdle for nuclear power is cost and finance. Nuclear plants are so expensive and their costs have to be carried for so long without revenue, that not even the largest public utilities can afford to finance them. Why would a large utility company commit more than its market capitalization to a nuclear project?

It would be valuable to hear from proponents of nuclear why you favor deploying one of the most costly electricity-generating technologies instead of those that are less costly. Do you favor the massive government intervention in the economy the companies would seek? Do you favor a government-sponsored enterprise? Information on investment and return amounts and timelines would be particularly helpful. I'm looking forward to learning from you, thanks.


Source: page 11 of http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/06-19-08-cost-electric.pdf

The comparison you show is for capacity, and different types of generation run at different capacity factors. When an adjustment is made for this, wind comes out to be roughly equivalent to nuclear, in cost of generation. (Offshore wind cost per kWh of electricity produced is likely higher than nuclear.) The quality of electricity produced from nuclear is better than the highly variable electricity produced by wind, and nuclear can be placed close to where it is needed. Wind can only be generated where it is located.

Just one question :

How much of the cost of nuclear is due to government regulation and mandated expenses ... and how much is due to actual cost of nuclear power ?

Same question for wind.

Imho, given the current tax climate and political winds I would easily "adjust" the graphs dividing the heavily taxed and regulated nuclear power by 2 and doubling the heavily subsidised wind & solar cost (obviously this in addition to the base-load problems solar and wind have).

The problem with such graphs as this is simply that government subsidies don't change the world : we pay the *real* cost, not the fake subsidized/taxed cost. Politics don't matter. Reality matters. When push comes to shove (and push *will* come to shove) nuclear will win out, and we will build lots of ill-designed quick-quick nuclear power plants instead of the very well designed ones that we could have built without all the anti-nuclear sentiment.

Here's why, a sneak preview of things to come

Am I reading your ideas correctly. You believe that nuclear power is not receiving government subsidies? Do you really believe that?

You believe that nuclear power is not receiving government subsidies? Do you really believe that?

No-one really believes that it is receiving such subsidies. If we define an energy price scale such that the spot market price of uranium is 1, governments' take on natural gas comes out as at least 2. (The vendors' price of natural gas is of course ~20, but of that, royalties are one-eighth to one-sixth.)

So persons wishing to be in government's good books strategically misrepresent the way in which nuclear energy deprives it of income. They handwave subsidies, as if nuclear power plants were a public money sink, rather than acknowledging that their operation, by preventing the mining and sale of much more expensive natural gas, impedes a public money source.

Governments don't make much on coal, and this is reflected in many public money pandering commentators' tendency to refer to coal and uranium as if they were the same sort of thing, rather than poles apart safety- and sustainability-wise. They are similar only in how much fossil fuel income they deprive government of.

(How fire can be domesticated)

Nuclear not getting subsidies, tell that to people in Georgia.

heavily subsidised wind & solar

You mean like forcing taxpayer to pay for organizations such as EURATOM and IAEA to promote nuclear power?
In fact Austria without nuclear power pays almost double as much on EURATOM than on its 995 MW wind power:

Or having laws forcing consumers to pay for the capital costs of a new nuclear power plant in advance?
Or having taxpayer backed loan guarantees for nuclear power?

Or having taxpayers to pay over $159 billions on nuclear R&D?

Nuclear power has dominated government spending on energy research and development, accounting for over US$159 billion between 1974 and 1998. Although its share has fallen, it still accounts for 51% of the OECD energy R&D budget:


Or having taxpayers to pay over $100 billions for decommissioning of nuclear power plants?

Or having taxpayers to pay billions on ultimate repositories?

Or having a federal law which in the event of an accident dramatically limits their liability?

Needless to say, that even the photovoltaic industry in Germany pay more in taxes than what they indirectly receive in feed-in tariffs (which btw are not paid by the tax payer) - not to mention that they reduced the German costly unemployment rate:
And the German wind power industry not only generated over 90,000 sustainable, tax-paying jobs and Germany exports 83% of its wind-turbines with a tax-paying PROFIT, wind power actually does lower electricity prices in Germany:

When an adjustment is made for this, wind comes out to be roughly equivalent to nuclear, in cost of generation.

Besides that this statement is as far as new nuclear plants are concerned obviously false:

In view of the long-term guarantee, the consortium's bid price of 21.16 euro cents/kilowatt hour (KWh) caused further controversy


Interesting also:
Industrial electricity prices before tax (2007):
Denmark (20% wind power): 7.06 cents/kWh
Belgium (55% nuclear power): 9.69 cents/kWh
More importantly: Denmark still exports over 90% of its wind turbines with profit in a market with a double digit growth (as opposed to nuclear power which does neither).

and nuclear can be placed close to where it is needed.

So if there's no cooling water available, God will provide for it?

The EIA doesn't show Denmark's industrial electric costs. Their residential costs are amazingly high: 39.6 cents per kWh. They may be subsidizing industrial costs. Even at that, their residential rates seem to be nearly double the rest of Europe, and more than triple the US. See my comment elsewhere on this thread showing a rate comparison, with Denmark's rates on top.

The ocean can be used for nuclear cooling. I agree though, that water can be an issue. And if ocean levels rise, we probably don't want nuclear generating units on the coast.

Both nuclear plants in my state are on the coast to use the ready cooling water. One came within 3 inches of ocean flooding in a 1993 storm. If Jim Hansen is right, and sea level rise from global warming is 10 feet per century for several centuries, where should we site new plants to use sea water yet avoid premature decommissioning? (The 2013 IPCC report is going to be interesting, because for the first time all the self-reinforcing accelerators of warming will be included in the forecasts.)

Again you are ignoring the fact that Denmark taxes household electricity highly, because household electricity prices are irrelevant if you are not wasting electricity blindly - which is exactly the point of taxing electricity.
Denmark is definitely not subsidizing industry electricity prices.

The ocean can be used for nuclear cooling.

So you are saying that the US needs to build long electricity lines from the Ocean to the windy center in order to provide those states with nuclear electricity?

Ah so after your "proof" was shown to be off by ... oh ... a bit more than a factor of 4. Never mind that given this correction your point is an illustration that using 50% renewable energy (can) quadruple energy prices (which doesn't seem to be an unreasonable estimate actually, since Spain has similar figures).

And this is your reply ? "the price is irrelevant" ? This is beyond pathetic. Why not admit you're wrong and get on with your life ?

Or at least attempt to make a reasonable argument, like "they started too soon, but technology has matured" (which is true, even if it hasn't matured enough by far). "They're too far north to get much out of renewable energy" (which is true, except close to 1/3rd of the US is further north) ...

Why not admit you're wrong and get on with your life ?

Why not admit you're a blatant liar and get on with your life.


Industrial electricity prices before tax (2007):
Denmark (20% wind power): 7.06 cents/kWh
Belgium (55% nuclear power): 9.69 cents/kWh
More importantly: Denmark still exports over 90% of its wind turbines with profit in a market with a double digit growth (as opposed to nuclear power which does neither).

And the fact that Denmark decided to tax household electricity to pay for public services has absolutely nothing to do with the actual generation costs of electricity.
I'm sorry but facts are facts...

You might be interested in knowing that the largest nuclear station in the United States is at Palo Verde, AZ. Just in case you are not familiar with our geography, the plant is about 50 miles outside of Phoenix, AZ in what we call the desert southwest. The cooling water is provided by treated sewage effluent.


All thermal power plants need some form of cooling - that is the way thermodynamics works since heat flows from hot to cold and it is the difference in temperature that enables power production.

If you remove thermal power from the US nuclear grid you are left with about 8% of our current supply - 6% from large scale hydroelectric plants and less than 2% from wind and solar.

There are some new nuclear plant designs - notably B&W's mPower - that are designed to use air cooled condensers.

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights

The ocean is very often used for nuclear cooling. It should be easy to design around the ocean water level increase and continue to use oceans for cooling water for large thermal power plants.

In view of the long-term guarantee, the consortium's bid price of 21.16 euro cents/kilowatt hour (KWh) caused further controversy

'Anyone', before posting them for the umpteenth time, it might be worth your while to check whether your favorite anecdotes have passed their sell-by dates.

Turkey's first nuclear power plant will be built, owned and operated by Russia after the two countries signed an agreement during a visit by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to Ankara.

The deal ... covers the construction of four 1200 MWe VVER units ... in the $20 billion project.

The Turkish Electricity Trade and Contract Corporation (TETAS) has guaranteed to purchase [half the power] over the first 15 years of commercial operation at a reported price of 12.35 US cents per kWh,... The reactors are expected to enter service in the period 2016-2019, ...


... Denmark still exports over 90% of its wind turbines ...

Which kind of suggests that Denmark is running out of places to install wind turbines. As does this project

[Anholt] wind farm, with a total capacity of 400 MW, ...

... the total expected investment is 10 billion kronor (1.3 billion euros). This is a very large amount, for instance approximately 50% higher (per unit of energy produced), than the Horns Rev wind farm (209 MW),


US$1.6 billion / 400 MW / ~0.4 capacity factor = ~10 $/W(average)
US$20 billion / 4800 MW / ~0.9 capacity factor = ~5 $/W(average)

Which looks like the better deal?

My 'green' electric co. said in its 2009 annual report it was able to supply only 48% of demand via wind, and the reason why they can't increase it is the NIMBYs here in UK (Not In My Back Yard) - these are mostly the landed, well-organised "professional" types of course who get so hot under the collar about their beautiful views being spoiled (in the short term of course, never mind what might happen in the long term!)

Interesting to see the amount of NIMBYism that breaks out if/when nuclear starts to expand, and also the extent of authoritarianism the government uses to crush it.

AS I understand it the upfront cost of a nuclear power station includes monies escrowed for future decommissioning of the plant. In the UK nuclear decommissioning requires the site to be returned to a green-field condition presumably because it is unlikely to attract anyone wanting to use it as a brown-field site for future development. Coal-fired and gas-fired power stations do not have this capital preloading requirement and can exhaust their waste directly into the atmosphere with no financial burden to the operators. Any attempt to put a price on the waste gases from fossil-fuel thermal stations to pay for remediation of their effects is being fought tooth-and-nail by the fossil fuel lobbies, not suprisingly.

It is not all that clear that the escrowed money for nuclear plant decommissioning will be anywhere near what is needed. The amounts set aside are in the form of financial securities, which could fairly easily have very much reduced value, if we have other problems. The cost of the energy required to take care of the decommissioning is an unknown, if oil supplies are declining in availability due to peak oil.

I have not seen how the calculation of the amount that was needed to be set aside was made. My guess though is that the funding was made assuming that the securities purchased would gain in value over time. If they are stocks, the assumption has been made that they will continue to grow in value, perhaps by as much as 9% per year. Even with bonds, the assumption is likely made that the interest on the bond will be paid. How all these amounts will compare with the true cost of decommissioning is an unknown.

Not to mention eventually the last plant constructed will need to be decommissioned and at some point, even if it occurs at some indefinite point in the future, there will be no more nuclear electricity to be produced but the waste will still need to be managed, which means you'll have an industry with an energy debt and will have to come up with some new external source of energy to pay the debt. The nuclear option makes a rather large wager that we will be able to come up with this energy from somewhere - and we won't be able to compromise because the risks of botching it up are too great, so that energy may have to be diverted from what would otherwise be more worthwhile projects (like building more renewables).

Here is the website for SKB that handle the Swedish nuclear wastes.

They have unfortunately not translated the webpages about financing.
The prognosis for the total cost is in todays SEK 107 billion for handling
and storing all the waste from 12 nuclear powerplants. This is roughly a
cost equivalent to building three new nuclear reactors.
29 billion has so far been used for facilities and research.
The fund currently hold 42 billion SEK in Swedish government bonds.
It needs a future 36 billion from utilities and interest.
The current producer fee is about 0.01 SEK per kWh, about 0.13 cents,
it has been 0.02 too 0.01 SEK per kWh depending on the funding needs.

The cost prognosis is split in these parts:

4 % final repository for low and medium level waste, bulit and in use
but will be enlarged as needed.

19 % research and administration, good enough for final selection of method.

5 % transportation, the first high level waste ship, Sigyn, is soon to
be replaced due to age and wear.

18 % demolition of old nuclear powerplants, prognosis based on maintainance work and demolition of nuclear facilities in oter countries.

13 % building and runing of the wet storage for spent nuclear fuel, built,
enlarged and in use.

13 % encapsulation of the spent fuel and other high level waste, site is selected and it s planned to reach full production in 2023.

28 % building, running and closing the final repository for high level waste, site selected and it is planned to reach full production in 2023.

These plans will however change a litle since the nuclear power plants are being life lenght extended but that makes the financing easier. 2023 is a long time in the future and the schedule could slip but the political support for actually doing something with the waste is strong. All major political parties agree that we should do now and the site selection for the final repository were made in fierce competition about getting the facility.

All waste handling facilities will be built while nuclear electricity is being produced in volume. We also have political support for replacing old rectors with new ones wich makes it likely that the relay will be handed over withouth financial market woodoo. If nuclear power anyway peters out in Sweden it will have to be carried by the rest of the economy running on hydro, wind, biomass and wathever replaced the nuclear powerplants.

Gail already pointed out the need to convert to price per Kwh. Nuclear reactors can operate for 60+ years. Wind turbines and solar can wear out in 15-25 years.

75% of the new nuclear construction is outside the OECD. Look at the costs in China, India, Russia where most of the build is going. In those places the costs are $1400-2000 per KW. Russia uprated reactors for $200 per KW. (added 311 MWe). They will add another 300 MWe with another set of reactor uprates. Not the equivalent of a full large reactor from those uprates but the point is the cost without western style regulation was ten times less.

Note : all of the reactors. Even the ones in Russia, China etc... now all have containment domes and upgraded safety and other features. I am thus confident in their safety.

As for government sponsored ... All Energy has massive government sponsorship and support. Renewables have feed in tariffs. Oil and Gas have massive tax breaks.

International Energy Agency revealed that total global subsidies to fossil-fuel energy amounts to $550 billion a year.

the world will spend over $13 trillion on energy infrastructure over this decade. $6 trillion on fossil fuel subsidies which is not included in that $13 trillion.

Energy is a big money game.

Coal and oil have the biggest subsidy which is not included in those figures is that they do not have to pay to contain or clean up their pollution. Nuclear does pay to do that. But coal and oil dump billions of tons of CO2 and smog, and millions of tons of toxic metals. Mercury, Arsenic etc... this costs the world over a trillion in health costs and environmental damage and business damage.

Acid rain reduces the years you can use a car and increases the frequency for repainting buildings. How long does an east coast car last versus a west coast car ?

Nuclear is at 2600 TWH. Wind is at 300 TWH. Solar at 20 TWH. Coal is at about 6200 TWH.

Why wouldn't you want nuclear to go to 4000 TWH by 2020 and offset coal going from 6200 TWH to 8000 TWH instead of 9400 TWH ? All of the non-fossile fuel combined from now to 2020 is just to try to stop the growth of coal. Through 2030 then we might look at using everything including nuclear to try to retire some coal plants.

Nuclear plants in the US are subsidized by the Price-Anderson act, which limits their liability to a fraction of their potential damage. Oil spills are also subsidized via liability caps. Privatize the profits, socialize the damages.

The WNA Nuclear Century Outlook Data shows a change from 2008 capacity of 367 GWe to a low estimate for 2030 capacity of 602 GWe, a 64% increase. Even if the gain shown for the US of 21 GWe does not materialize, (which it may not, due to the tenuous condition of the US financial situation,) there is still a 59% gain to 583 GWe.

I think that the most likely future for the US over the next decade is to try to reduce energy consumption per capita from the currently unaffordable levels by 40% or so to get back down to the average for developed countries, along with burning more natural gas and coal and adding some wind and solar. This may let us skip most of the next generation of nuclear plants and get to better nuclear fuel cycles in the future.

The last real price I saw for a large nuclear plant was $10,000 per kw. If you do a Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) analysis on this I still think nuclear will be competitive with other newer technologies due to its long plant life, high capacity factor, and relatively low fuel costs. Of course, that is if you don't throw in a huge cost for decommissioning.....something which is very hard to estimate right now.

IIRC Great Britain with 12 or 13 nuclear reactors has had to allocate about 3 billion so far in decomissioning costs. I think they have scaped 2 so far. I hope that helps with the estimate.

@NatResDr - I favor nuclear for several reasons. First of all, compared to wind and solar, the system is far more reliable. During the recent heat wave in the eastern half of North America, the fleet as a whole was operating at about 97% capacity. There were a couple of units in a maintenance shut down, and a couple of units that were coasting down for fall refueling outages. Other than that, the daily reports filed with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission indicated that the rest of the plants were producing 100% of their rated output for the full 24 hours per day for the whole week.


Quoting the cost of peak generating capacity without recognizing the difference in the ability to hit 100% and stay there for as long as 24 months without a rest demonstrates a real misunderstanding of the revenue generating potential and the ability to repay construction loans from that revenue. Last year, 13 nuclear plants in the US - more than 10% of the fleet - actually produced 100% of their full capacity for the entire year.

I do not favor massive government intervention, so if the renewables industry would be willing to forgo its 30% initial cost grants, renewable energy portfolio standards, and state level subsidies, I would be willing to bet that the nuclear industry would have no trouble attracting private capital. Actually, I suppose I should caveat that bet by saying there are plenty of reasons why established investors might want to shy away from financing nuclear power - those investors undoubtably have investment in fossil fuel related enterprises that would suffer dramatically from the recognition that energy is not scarce anymore.

One more thing - I am pretty certain that the cost of building nuclear power facilities will drop in a reasonably predictable fashion as we learn from the first of a kind projects and as we move towards factory manufacture of smaller plants that can take advantage of the same techniques as Eli Whitney once introduced.

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast

I do not favor massive government intervention, so if the renewables industry would be willing to forgo its 30% initial cost grants, renewable energy portfolio standards, and state level subsidies, I would be willing to bet that the nuclear industry would have no trouble attracting private capital.

This claim based on a double standard is just hard to accept. Given the risks it is unlikely that any nuclear power plant projects can attract the necessary capital without governmental support including liability limits and governmental loan guarantees....aka "massive government intervention." Removing support for renewables is not going to make this better.

However, I am all for "full cost accounting" http://summits.ncat.org/docs/EROI.pdf so we can go in with our eyes wide open on power supply investment decisions.

Here is some more thinking on this from Dr. Costanza's Solutions Journal. "The Perfect Spill: Solutions for Averting the Next Deepwater Horizon" http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/629

I thought that I would be allowed to provide part or all of an oildrum article with my own view.

The decline since 2006.
Japan had an earthquake (2007) that caused the shutdown of 7 nuclear reactors aboue 40 TWH of reactors. Those reactors are being brought back. Most have been.
This last year France had labor problems and some maintenance problems 30-40 TWH
with the economic troubles and lower energy demand utilities had the incentive to perform more maintenance and shutdowns last year.
Japan has had some issues raising its capacity factors. But they have a program to get up to US and South Korean 90+% levels over the next 4 years.
France also has a program to raise capacity factors.
Germany is extending its 17 reactors for about 15 years past a previous political shutdown for 2021.

There will be over ten nuclear reactor completions in 2011. A few were delayed from 2010, but there have been completions in 2010.

2010 9 new reactors, 6.2 GWe (shifted the two Canadian Reactors to 2011)
2 reactors are scheduled for Dec, so a slip into next year is possible for the South Korean and Argentine reactors

2011 11 new reactors, 9.3 GWe

2010 and 2011 should see 15.5 GWe of new reactors or about 100-120 TWH. Plus there
will be 1GWe of uprates.

then 100-150 TWH of new reactors every year
2012 10 new reactors, 9.92 GWe
2013 12 new reactors, 13.08 GWe
2014 14 new reactors, 13.63 GWe

61 reactors are under construction now. Those are the reactors that are getting completed from now to 2014. some may take longer but the ones in Asia are getting completed by 2014-2015 at the latest for the ones already under way.

Of the 61 (58.8 Gwe) being built in the world now
China 24 (not OECD)
Russia 11 (not OECD)
S Korea 6
India 4 (not OECD)
Bulgaria 2 (not OECD)
Slovak 2
Ukraine 2 (not OECD)
8 other countries 1 reactor each
Also about 5 GWe of uprates are expected by 2014.

There is even bigger build up to 2020. Vietnam plans 13 reactors. China another 30-50 beyond the 24 already under way. By the end of the 2020s the world will be back to the 24 completions per year of the 1980s. During the 1980s over 210 completions. With double the world GDP getting to 50 completions per year in the 2020s-2030s is just getting to proportionally what was done in the 1980s. For 2020 and beyond the big impact will be factory mass produced reactors which will get proven prior to 2020.

There are very few shutdowns expected.

Dittmar said that uranium production would be the limiting factor from 2013-2018 and already in 2009-2012. He was 15% wrong from 2009-2018 already as he never increases uranium prediction above 45,000 tons/year
This is one of two point that I would emphasize about the bets. Uranium production is clearly heading up with a lot more from Kazakhstan, Niger, Namibia, Canada, Russia. (10,000+ tons per country over the next 5-10 years.) and some more a few thousand tons from other countries. Australia could ramp up a bunch but how much they do depends upon politics.

I had indicated that the nuclear generation differences predicted for 2009 and 2010 were small and a 2-3% variance is in the noise.

Operating capacity efficiency is the big kicker for the upside. Ukraine, Japan, France, Russia, India can get their operating factors up. Getting up to 90% is doable. India just had to have an embargo lifted for fuel and that happened last year. A 10% boost in capacity factor for those counties will add about 100 TWH/year.

shifted the two Canadian Reactors to 2011

Hi an,

Please forgive the awkward phrasing, but which two would these be?


Bruce power plants. Classified as new even though they are restarts from long term shutdown


India's kundukalam 1 is now expected for end of Feb 2011.

Some of this can be looked at at the IAEA Pris database by country and status
and cross checked against


Power reactors under construction, or almost so

Start Operation*   REACTOR TYPE MWe (net) 
2010 India, NPCIL Kaiga 4 PHWR 202   (operating)
2010 India, NPCIL Rawatbhata 6 PHWR 202 (operating)
2010 Iran, AEOI Bushehr 1 PWR 950 
2010 Russia, Energoatom Rostov 2 PWR 950 
2010 India, NPCIL Kudankulam 1 PWR 950   (move to 2011)
2010 Canada, Bruce Power Bruce A1 PHWR 769 (move to 2011) 
2010 Canada, Bruce Power Bruce A2 PHWR 769  (move to 2011)
2010 Korea, KHNP Shin Kori 1 PWR 1000  (dec) 
2010 China, CGNPC Lingao II-2 PWR 1080 (oct)
2010 Argentina, CNEA Atucha 2 PHWR 692 (dec)
2011 India, NPCIL Kudankulam 2  PWR 950 
2011 India, NPCIL Kalpakkam FBR 470 
2011 Taiwan Power Lungmen 1  ABWR 1300 
2011 Russia, Energoatom Kalinin 4 PWR 950 
2011 Korea, KHNP Shin Kori 2 PWR 1000 
2011 China, CNNC Qinshan 4-1 PWR 650 
2011 China, CGNPC Lingao 2-1 PWR 1080 
2011 Pakistan, PAEC Chashma 2 PWR 300 
2011 Japan, Chugoku Shimane 3 ABWR 1375 
2012 Finland, TVO Olkiluoto 3 PWR 1600 
2012 China, CNNC Qinshan 4-2 PWR 650 
2012 Taiwan Power Lungmen 2 ABWR 1300 
2012 Korea, KHNP Shin Wolsong 1 PWR 1000 
2012 France, EdF Flamanville 3 PWR 1630 
2012 Russia, Energoatom Vilyuchinsk PWRx2 70 
2012 Russia, Energoatom Novovoronezh II-1 PWR 1070 
2012 Slovakia, SE Mochovce 3 PWR 440 
2012 China, CGNPC Hongyanhe 1 PWR 1080 
2012 China, CGNPC Ningde 1 PWR 1080 
2013 China, CNNC Sanmen 1 PWR 1100 
2013 China, CGNPC Ningde 2 PWR 1080 
2013 Korea, KHNP Shin Wolsong 2 PWR 1000 
2013 USA, TVA Watts Bar 2 PWR 1180 
2013 Russia, Energoatom Leningrad II-1 PWR 1070 
2013 Korea, KHNP Shin Kori 3 PWR 1350 
2013 China, CGNPC Yangjiang 1 PWR 1080 
2013 China, CGNPC Taishan 1 PWR 1700 
2013 China, CNNC Fangjiashan 1 PWR 1000 
2013 China, CNNC Fuqing 1 PWR 1000 
2013 China , CGNPC Hongyanhe 2 PWR 1080 
2013 Slovakia, SE Mochovce 4 PWR 440 
2014 China , CNNC Sanmen 2 PWR 1100 
2014 China , CPI Haiyang 1 PWR 1100 
2014 China , CGNPC Ningde 3 PWR 1080 
2014 China , CGNPC Hongyanhe 3 PWR 1080 
2014 China, CNNC Fangjiashan 2 PWR 1000 
2014 China, CNNC Fuqing 2 PWR 1000 
2014 China, China Huaneng Shidaowan HTR 200 
2014 Korea, KHNP Shin-Kori 4 PWR 1350 
2014 Japan, Tepco Fukishima I-7 ABWR 1350 
2014 Japan, EPDC/J Power Ohma ABWR 1350 
2014 Bulgaria, NEK Belene 1 PWR 1000 
2014 Russia, Energoatom Rostov 3 PWR 1070 
2014 Russia, Energoatom Beloyarsk 4 FNR 750 
2015 Japan , Tepco Fukishima I-8 ABWR 1080 
2015 China , CGNPC Yangjiang 2 PWR 1080 
2015 China , CGNPC Taishan 2 PWR 1700 
2015 China , CPI Haiyang 2 PWR 1100 
2015 Korea, KHNP Shin-Ulchin 1 PWR 1350 
2015 Russia, Energoatom Novovoronezh II-2 PWR 1070 
2015 Japan , Tepco Higashidori 1 ABWR 1385 
2015 Japan, Chugoku Kaminoseki 1 ABWR 1373 
2016 Romania, SNN Cernavoda 3 PHWR 655 
2016 Russia, Energoatom Leningrad II-2 PWR 1200 
2016 Russia, Energoatom Rostov 4 PWR 1200 
2016 Russia, Energoatom Baltic 1 PWR 1200 
2016 Russia, Energoatom Seversk 1  PWR 1200 

Bruce power plants. Classified as new even though they are restarts from long term shutdown

Thanks, an. Applying the label new to a reactor built in the 1970s strikes me as somewhat peculiar. If I had stored a 1974 Valiant on blocks in my driveway, tinkered with the carburetor and installed a new set of tires, do I have at that point a "new" car or one that has been refurbished/restored to service?

[I don't mean to be an ass... just a little hung-up on the semantics.]


But don't you also have to estimate how many older power plants will be taken off line, because of unforeseen issues. As power plants get closer to the end of their lives, there are likely to be more and more problems that develop.

Refurbishment is possible, but is not necessarily cheap or quick. Just recently, the article was posted Canadian nuclear plant rehab goes awry Refit was supposed to show how to keep old plants operating.

. . .an effort to refurbish Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear power plant isn’t going well. The 25-year-old reactor at Point Lepreau was supposed to be refreshed, refitted and running full-tilt last September after a $1 billion repair. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the crown corporation that built the reactor, was to have demonstrated the efficacy of refurbishing nuclear reactors that would otherwise have to be retired.

Today, nobody knows when the plant will be back online, except that it won’t be any earlier than 2011. . .

“AECL is terribly behind, terribly over budget, and terribly cash-flow negative on their refurbishment projects,” said Toronto-based energy consultant Tom Adams. “The federal government keeps writing big checks for AECL and they’re not happy about it.”

Even new plants can have problems. Britains' Sizewell B plant has had two fires this year. It is currently shut down with no date for reopening yet set.

That is the 1-3% in the noise issues. maintenance, refueling etc... However, any plant with more extended shutdowns, still ends up to usually come back online. The downtime just means that it is wearing out the other parts. So it could be 50-70 years of operation with 5-10 years of shutdowns for refueling and maintenance. With an elapsed calendar time fo 60-80 years.

But adding 4-6% per year from new plants and uprates and then adding 1-4% from operating improvements, is why I see a net 4-7% annual gain.

But the larger phaseouts, like Germany are not happening. And those that expect the USA, Japan etc... to shutdown plants after 40 years are wrong. Any well operated plant will get extended. Germany's plants are getting 15 more years and we will see if they shut them down in 2030-2040. the remaining US plants are getting their 20 year extensions. Half already extended to 60 years. The rest will be too. Except for a very few. But I do not see more than 2-3 in the 2010-2020 timeframe. Uprates offset the shutdowns.

All of Britains plants are getting swapped out for new plants. Britain had a particular crappy set of plants. Although under french EDF management they are doing better.

Germany is extending its 17 reactors for about 15 years past a previous political shutdown for 2021.

Actually no decisions have been made as of yet.

But interesting is the fact, that Germany exported about the same amount of electricity this first quarter as its 6 oldest nuclear power plants produced - making an argument for an extension a hard-sell given the fact that renewable power production will continue to increase in the next 10 years:

The only group which showed an increase in nuclear power generation in 2009 was the group I call "Remainder", which includes China, India, and many "developing" nations.

And I would predict that, absent a complete global economic collapse, that that sector will continue to grow. The developing countries all realize that if they want to build any sort of modern economy, they require reliable baseload generating capacity. Oil is too expensive to burn; everyone figured that out in the 1970s, although some developing countries still use it. Other fossil fuels have various availability and transport problems. A modest-sized country probably doesn't have the geographic diversity to overcome the intermittentcy problem of wind and solar.

Which leaves them with nuclear. I would expect that starting sometime in the next ten years, someone is going to be selling a fair number of small modular long-refueling interval reactors to the developing countries every year.

As noted in the list of reactors under construction now. the non-OECD - "remainder" is where 75% of the reactors will be.

A modest-sized country probably doesn't have the geographic diversity to overcome the intermittentcy problem of wind and solar.

There is no reason that grids should stop at national borders, and of course they do not and will not.
Currently Denmark deals with the intermittency of ~20% wind by modulating hydro generation in Norway. Similarly, Paraguay and Uruguay could deal with wind energy fluctuation by modulating Brazil's hydro. Every country that is not located in a desert far from the seacoast has the option of adding their own pumped storage facilities also.

I would expect that starting sometime in the next ten years, someone is going to be selling a fair number of small modular long-refueling interval reactors to the developing countries every year.

After the first few "dirty bomb" terrorist events I would expect that market to dry up pretty quickly. Developing countries typically cannot operate a national security state required to secure the nuclear fuel cycle, plus corruption makes enforcement of laws about waste disposal and safe operation unlikely to be enforced. Consequences of all this are much worse for nuclear than wind or solar.

Denmark has extremely high electric rates, compared to most other countries. A few 2008 comparison rates for households (per kWh):

Denmark $ .396

Finland $ .172

France $ .169

Japan $ .206

Norway $ .164

Portugal $ .220

Spain $ .218

Switzerland $ .154

United Kingdom $ .231

United States $ .113

Part of the problem is that much of the wind electricity that is generated is cannot really be used in Denmark, so it gets sold at very low rates to neighboring counties. So Denmark gets stuck with a lot of costs, and not a huge amount of benefit. There is a paragraph in Wikipedia describing this problem:

While wind power accounts for almost 20% of the electricity generated in Denmark, it covers only 10–14% of the country's consumption. Power in excess of immediate demand is exported to Germany, Norway, and Sweden. The latter two have considerable hydropower resources, which can rapidly reduce their generation whenever wind farms are generating surplus power, saving water for later. In effect, this is a way for northern Europe to store wind power until it is needed – an opportunity which is not generally available for wind power generators in other regions.[14][15] The benefit of this goes to Denmark's neighbours; when Denmark's wind farms are exporting power, it is sold at the spot market price, which sometimes falls to near zero – or even lower.[16]

58% of household electricity costs in Denmark were taxation, which has nothing to do with wind power. Denmark has a general 25% sales tax. In the US energy consumption is generally subsidized (income,sales, property taxes pay for roads instead of having drivers pay their own way via gas taxes, oil depletion allowances, etc.) while in Europe energy is taxed like any other good or more. Eventually the US will have to adopt similar policies if the planet is have any chance to slow climate change.

"In absolute values, household electricity prices were highest in January 2006 in Denmark (23.62 euro per 100 kWh), followed by Italy (21.08), the Netherlands (20.87) and Germany (18.32). The lowest prices were observed in Greece (7.01), Lithuania (7.18), Estonia (7.31) and Latvia (8.29).
When adjusted for purchasing power, household electricity prices in Greece (8.01 PPS3 per 100 kWh) remained the cheapest, followed by the United Kingdom (9.05), Finland (9.38) and France (10.92), while the highest prices were recorded in Slovakia (24.48), Italy (20.23), Poland (20.05) and the Netherlands (19.15).
The share of taxation in household electricity prices varied greatly between Member States, ranging from around 5% in Malta, the United Kingdom and Portugal to more than 40% in Denmark (58%) and the Netherlands (42%)."


Actually, most roads are paid for with gasoline taxes in the US. I will grant that the taxes on gasoline could be higher, but our roadway building funds often run surpluses that are used to fund other government expenditures.

Here is an example:


In Colorado, roads in cities and towns are completely paid for from property and sales taxes. There is no gas tax contribution to local roads and streets. Localities are prohibited from adding tazes to gas to pay for anything, roads included.

The situation is similar across the US, with almost no local roads and streets funded by gas taxes. I will grant that the Interstate Highways and other Federal roads were initially nearly funded by gas taxes, although there are constant efforts to divert general fund revenues to roads, since gas taxes are insufficient for maintenance and construction. See the article below or many others like it which prove how wrong the claim that gas taxes pay for roads is.

"n fact, Congress has developed a solution to this fiscal hole — it’s just one that it claims to be unacceptable: the use of the general fund. As Ken Orski — an Associate Administrator of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (now FTA) between 1974 and 1978 — pointed out to readers of his Innovation Briefs last week, Congress has allocated a total of $79.2 billion of income tax-sourced funds to pay for ground transportation projects over the past two years. That’s almost twice what the Highway Trust Fund is supposed to devote to highway and transit projects every year.

Orski notes that $43.2 billion went directly to make up for shortfalls in Trust Fund revenues. The rest of the money went to the Stimulus’ roughly $45 billion in one-time only project funds, including the Administration’s $8 billion commitment to high-speed rail."

Gas taxes pay only about 1/3rd of direct road costs in the U.S. Beyond that, it's exempt from sales tax in many states.

Gail's comment actually proves my earlier point, that national borders will not be a significant obstacle to coordinating renewables and storage across areas much bigger than small countries, since it is already happening on a large scale.

Denmark has extremely high electric rates,

No according to the FACTS, it does not:

Industrial electricity prices before tax (2007):
Denmark (20% wind power): 7.06 cents/kWh
Belgium (55% nuclear power): 9.69 cents/kWh

and household electricity prices are irrelevant compared to living, healthcare and income tax costs.

That cost is only there during the time when the wind blows which normally isn't in the morning when you are showering and needing that cup of coffee.


Besides that Denmark doesn't have weather dependent electricity prices,
most French showers are nuclear powered at night such that people can take warm showers during daytime. Since heat energy can be stored extremely cheaply, electricity can be consumed and stored as heat when power plants generate a surplus. And electric water heaters in fact never care, whether electricity is produced in a nuclear power plant or a wind farm.

More importantly: Denmark still exports over 90% of its wind turbines with a profit in a market with a double digit growth (as opposed to nuclear power which does neither):
If Denmark had decided to invest in nuclear power instead of wind power, it would not only have higher industrial electricity prices, but also have a much higher unemployed rate - possibly similar to France...

And your Institute of Energy Research is funded by Exxon, which has definitely no interest in a growing renewable market.
And their report on Denmark is unsurprisingly bogus:

I don't know where they get the US rates in this table -- New York and California, about one quarter the U.S. population, were much higher during times I lived in those states. The rest of the country would need to be sub-0.10 to average that out, and I don't think it is. On the other hand, in two different cities in Finland we've paid closer to what it reports for the US, so I'm not sure I believe that number either.

It's an average. I know AG customers paying less than 1 cent per kwh in the U.S. Outside of CA, TX and the NE, most of the contiguous U.S. is still under 10cents. That's the folks who didn't deregulate.

There is no reason that grids should stop at national borders, and of course they do not and will not.

This would seem to be more true of developed countries than developing ones. Developed neighbors have more extensive national grids already built, larger amounts of trade with their neighbors, etc. There is a considerable attraction for a country struggling to get a national grid built, let alone a sizable international capacity, to be able to drop nukes in increments of 100-300 MWe into regional networks, especially if a developed country is willing to let them pay it off over time.

Hydro has its own sort of intermittency problems: ask any of the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Kenya, Venezuela, Chile, as well as other places globally. Personally, I suspect that turning renewables into real baseload generating capacity is at least a somewhat harder problem than many people have thought. Not impossible, but there will be unexpected "gotchas" to deal with.

This would seem to be more true of developed countries than developing ones.

The world has already passed you by. Events you think will be difficult in the future are already implemented.

"Guatemala also has begun several projects with its neighbors to increase the reliability of its power supplies. A planned connection with Mexico's electricity grid will allow it to import power. In addition, Guatemala and five other Central American nations -- El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama -- had agreed on a project, known as SIEPAC, that would interconnect their transmission grids, allowing power to flow between the different countries. With Panama already linked to Colombia's grid, SIEPAC could eventually result in the connection of the North and South American power grids. Different laws in each of the Central American countries have made progress on SIEPAC difficult, and the immediate aim has now shifted from the creation of a common grid to the creation of a common Central American power market."

Paraguay has more hydro percapita than Brazil. They share that honking big set of hydrogenerators on the river between. Uruguay, probably.

The two bets were called a tie. I guess it could be viewed that way.

I would note that Dittmar was wrong by 14.9% in his Uranium prediction and I was wrong by 1.6% on my nuclear generation number.

Updated Uranium predictions
      Brian Wang  Dittmar            midpoint
2010  56000 tons  45,000 tons        50,500 tons
2011  60000 tons  45,000             52,500 tons             
2012  64000 tons  45,000             54,500 tons
2013  68000 tons  45,000             56,500 tons
2014  72000 tons  45,000             58,500 tons
2015  76000 tons  45,000             60,500 tons
2016  80000 tons  45,000             62,500 tons
2017  84000 tons  45,000             64,500 tons
2018  88000 tons  45,000             66,500 tons

I am expecting the amounts to be higher, but these are my 90% confidence level for betting numbers.

I do not think there is any doubt that uranium production will increase a lot. This article indicates that Gail thinks it is an open question. Gail's article also indicates that Dittmar's position still has equal validity to mine.
45,000 tons or less from 2010-2018 ? Really ? Equal ?
Nuclear generation will still stagnate ? Maintenance problems and shutdowns will offset 100+ TWH per year ?

The difference is the amount of uranium that came from uranium stock piles.
In 2008 world-nuke says 68% came from mines and 32% came from stock piles.
In 2009 75% came from mines and 25% from stockpiles.
The overall amount is about 65000 tons of demand.

If stockpiles dry up then a huge increase in mining is necessary, but prices are still low. It is surprising that Kazakhstan raised production so much, but nobody else did except Malawi.

Normally mine production increases with higher prices and higher prices come from greater nuke electricity demand. Demand actually fell. Price inflation for electric utilities tends to be rather low.

Only the speculators can keep boost uranium prices and money for gambling is tight.

Advantage, Dittmar.

It sounds like you want to make a bet too.
What is your prediction.
Bring it on

I'd say that the percentage of uranium from stockpiles will probably fall and mines will try to make up. I am surprised that the Kazakhs did so much and Australia and Canada so little.

Total demand will be fairly constant at 65000 tons consumed per year, prices about the same ~$58 per pound.
In the long run nuclear will not be economically competitive. Old plants will be too expensive to upgrade.
The best hope for subsidizing more nukes is government policy but can governments afford that right now? They'll opt for energy conservation.

This article says

Production growth from Kazakhstan has been phenomenal in recent years…Production is low cost and frequently below US$20/lb.

Having one very low-cost producer can make life impossible for the others, especially if recycled nuclear bomb material is helping hold down prices too. If Kazakhstan can make money on $40/lb. uranium, while most other producers lose money (or barely break even), the other countries are not going to try very much to expand production. They may even close higher cost mines.

In a way, it is like having China make solar panels a whole lot cheaper than American manufacturers. It doesn't do much for American manufacturers' prospects.

I tried to look a little at Uranium stock price indices. They seem to be down in the last couple of months--probably since Australia announced its tax increase. One index of stock values is down about 60% since early 2008.

What do you think would be the effect on current and future uranium metal prices if the US announced plans to start reprocessing power station fuel elements which it currently treats as long-term nuclear waste? The argument for not reprocessing was based, I believe, on nuclear weapons proliferation but used fuel rods are so heavily loaded with Pu-240 that reprocessing them should not introduce significant quantities of weaponisable Pu-239 material into the fuel cycle and disposal system.

Are there any figures out there to tell us how much potential uranium fuel is involved in the US fuel rod "stockpile" if reprocessing is decided upon?

The Russians, British and the French do a small amount of reprocessing. The French have a national commitment to reprocess but the amount of MOX produced is small.

The US is building a reprocessing unit in South Carolina. The Japanese have planned a 130 ton reprocessing unit for 2015.

MOX supplies about 2% of nuclear fuel with a 2009 worldwide capacity of 250 tons).
The world inventory of recyclable fuel enriched uranium stockpiles is 620 tons plus the equivalent on one years supply of low enriched uranium; the world total of reprocessable fuel is 3 years of mining.

For the record, reprocessing as currently done in France does not affect uranium demand very much. Their reprocessing makes use of scarcely 1% of the used fuel. They use the PUREX reprocessing plant at La Hague (inherited from the military), to extract some of the plutonium and recycle it in MOX.

Today's thermal reactors use only about 0.6% of the energy in the mined uranium. With LWRs, about 85% of the energy is left behind in the DU, and only 3%-5% of the energy that makes it into the fuel is used. MOX recycling brings that fraction up to 4%-6%.

The French are well aware of this, of course, which is why they anticipate using fast reactors, which can access most of the remaining 99+% of the ore's energy, running for centuries on the uranium that has already been mined. And the Chinese, Indians, Russians, Japanese, South Koreans . . . are well aware of it also, which is why they too have fast-reactor programs.

The United States is being left in the dust, having abdicated its technological leadership when the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) program was aborted in 1994. It is now without influence in the evolution and safe management of nuclear technology.

In decades to come, fast reactors (coming first in Asia) will gradually put uranium mining out of business – but not any time soon.

There is one fully operational breeder reactors producing commercial electricity, the BNR-600 in Russia and the recently restarted 280 MWe Monju after
14 years of shutdown. The small Phenix breeder is used for France's reprocessing program not commercial power.
Breeder reactors, which are hugely expensive, aren't going to materialize in the next 50 years.

Since no IFR-type plants approaching commercial-scale have been built yet, predictions of what the relative cost will be are simply guesses. GE thinks that, once in production with the kinks worked out, its PRISM reactor system would be competitive. The Chinese are buying at least one BN-type fast reactor from Russia, and there is active fast-reactor development in India, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, France . . . .

Actually as well as the Superphénix breeder reactor (which produced for about 500 cents per kWh) the Phénix breeder reactor has also shut down:


Phenix is gone too?
Not good omen for future of vital breeder programs.

China is building 3 breeders before 2020. Two Russian 880 mwe

Russia is finishing their bn800 2012-2013

India will have five by 2020

Russia has some smaller breeder designs in development

Breeder Reactors are like the speed of light in Special Relativity.
No matter when one enters the time or space, they are the constant that is 50 years away.

To my knowledge the new mining tax in Australia won't affect uranium. It will apply to some 300 companies mainly producing coal and iron ore. A similar 'resource rent' type tax on oil will be extended to coal seam gas.

If Kazakhstan wants to knock itself out digging uranium that saves higher prices later for Australia and Canada. It looks like the fourfold expansion of Australia's Olympic Dam mine won't go ahead. There the uranium is associated with gold and copper both of which are relatively high priced.

A global economic slowdown may not stretch Peak Coal beyond 2030 or so. Baseload electricity has to come from somewhere and gas fired electricity will be expensive.

I double checked. Uranium may have been in an earlier version of the Australia mining tax, but it seems to be out now, as you say.

If uranium prices are falling, how does that indicate a coming shortage? Are the people in the market incompetent? (I would say no, based on the people that I know who are in that market.)

There is a LOT of accessible uranium in the world. Someday, if the market prices support such a decision, we might even begin recycling the used fuel that we have removed from light water reactors after only consuming about 3-5% of the potential energy. In the meantime, since uranium is abundant and not terribly costly to mine, we will keep mining it.

I would also note that the oil market has had one or two very low cost producers for the past 40 years and still has had lots of participation by higher cost producers because they are also making a profit compared to the cost of extraction.

Side note - at current uranium prices the cost of commercial nuclear fuel in the US in 2009 , including "amortized costs associated with the purchasing of uranium, conversion, enrichment, and fabrication services along with storage and shipment costs, and inventory (including interest) charges less any expected salvage value" averaged about 0.57 cents per kilowatt hour.


Fuel costs for "clean natural gas" was 4.5 cents in 2009 and "cheap coal" was about 2 cents.

Would you care to be a little more precise so that we have something clearly right or wrong ?

Are you saying uranium demand will not exceed 65,000 tons/year ? in 2015 ? 2020 ?
Are you saying something about price per pound ?
are you saying "old plants too expensive to upgrade" --- does that mean that uprates will not be performed ?

you also seem to be saying that the price of uranium will stay low and it will not be economic for increased uranium production. So do you have number of tons per year for
2010, 2011, ... 2018 ?

You had said advantage Dittmar ? Did you want to take the midpoints of the Dittmar bets ? that he is more right from 2010-2018 on mining and generation ?
Otherwise what would "advantage Dittmar mean" ? If you do not think by repeating his bets you would get more than half of the wins ?

Oh come on.
I said that demand of 65000 tons per year will be flat or slightly declining for a decade but mining will increase only to the extent that stockpiles go down.

If demand is flat why would there be a big increase in expensive mining. I'd say we're on a uranium demand plateau and it is likely we've hit Peak Uranium.

Ok I am obviously taking the other side of the predictions that demand will exceed 65,000 tons per year through 2010-2020.

Interestingly enough I get to already claim victory for 2010, hours after you stated your wrong position. Uranium Demand is 68,646 tons.

It was why I had to ask you twice to make sure that is what you wanted to say. You are low by 5.6%.
Advantage and victory to me.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse and neither is ignorance of the facts.

I already provided a list of the reactors that I expect to see start up in the 2010-2015 timeframes. So I expect demand to go up 17-20% by 2015.

btw: Besides Kazakhstan, there is Namibia, Niger, Russia and Canada.

I reviewed Namibia here.

Namibia, stung by the collapse of the diamond industry two years ago, is trying to diversify its $8.2 billion economy by exploiting uranium deposits that are the second-biggest in Africa. Namibian uranium output may quadruple by 2015 as new mines are opened by companies including Extract Resources Ltd., more than doubling uranium’s contribution to the economy, according to IHN. The industry accounted for 5.6 percent of Namibia’s gross domestic product last year. If the uranium industry increases by four times then it would be equal to 22.4% of the 2009 GDP.

Areva is ramping the Trekkopje mine mid-2010 (now) through Q2 2012 (3200 tons/year). $262 million/year at $41/lb for a $750 million mine.

Rio Tinto’s is expanding the world’s third-largest uranium mine, Rossing.

Extract Resources plans to build the world’s second- largest uranium mine in South Rossing (6800 tons/year starting in 2013)

For Niger, the Imouraren project will be a EUR 1.2 billion investment, and Areva will also spend EUR 6 million per year on health, education, training, transport and access to water and energy for local people. Production is expected to be 5000 tU/yr for 35 years from 2013

Cameco in Canada will be growing a few hundred tons per year and then they will add Cigar Lake in 2013-2014.

Kazatomprom already had 4000+ tons in the first quarter. Three more matching quarters is 16,000 tons.

Russia - ARMZ plans to increase uranium production at existing mines and mines already under construction to 8,000 tonnes per year (several thousand of that are joint ventures in Kazakhstan. But a couple of thousand tons/yaer of increase are outside. ARMZ the state-owned company that is consolidating Russia's uranium mining assets, could boost uranium production to 20,000 tonnes per year by 2024.

Barry Brook has a prediction of an increase of demand for uranium to

He added that thermal reactors currently contributed about 380 GW of global electricity 
supplies, or 15% of total electricity production, which was due to grow by at least four times to about 1,5 TW by 2040.In line with this growth scenario, global ura-
nium consumption would rise from 69 000 t/y 
at present to about 285 000 t/y by 2040.

Uranium Demand is 68,646 tons. Victory to me...

Not really.

That's just an estimated bump due to filling some 59 unfinished reactors like Iran's but mainly in Russia, China and South Korea that aren't operational yet.

I'm talking about uranium that's actually making electricity.

Please provide a link to some agency or institution that tracks uranium demand according to your definition

it seems to me demand is the uranium that is bought

oil that gets bought to fill strategic reserves is still demand

plus for uranium with ten reactors or more starting each year that is consistent demand

certainly supply would need to match it

As the graph indicates, the limiting factor for nuclear energy is the price of oil. It's as simple as that, since the vast majority of energy required to make nuclear run is in the mining, refining and transport of nuclear fuel.

Especially the mining, which must excavate massive amounts of low-grade ore to get a tiny amount of fuel. The energy to break that rock, transport it, crush it and refine it comes from oil. All those massive mining machines and trucks run on diesel.

The massive input of energy to mine and crush those huge volumes of rock will never come from muscle power or any other less-than-dirt-cheap fuel. Uranium extraction is inextricably linked to and dependent on dirt-cheap oil.

After oil, there will be no fission. Nuclear fission is totally dependent on its subsidy of cheap oil, and when the cheap oil is gone, so too will the nuclear.

Sadly you are right! Which begs the question about our (U.S.) phobia not allowing other countries not already in the club to build reactors. I doubt we can keep the lid on nuclear power option for very long. With crude still trading at 75$ a barrel in a world wide economic depression these countries have no other option than to go nuclear. In the U.S. we are so lucky the Canadians are so short sighted selling the syn oil, crude and gas without any value added to exports. Will the Canadians sell the last drop allowing us to keep our heads in the sand (pun intended) refusing to use our nuclear power option? It really is hard to believe would could maintain such a short sighted non-energy plan!

The best-kept secret in the energy field is fast reactors. Since they can extract almost all of the energy that's in the ore, with fast reactors the uranium reserves are literally inexhaustible (see earlier post). Fast reactors will require no more mining of uranium for centuries, and no more enriching of uranium -- ever.

Also, don't forget that Th-232, the most common thorium isotope, is fertile and can be bred in various neutron efficient reactor configurations to fissile U-233. Fast breeder reactors are not required for breeding thorium, since Th-232 strongly absorbs slow neutrons. Japan, India and Russia have pilot projects. Thorium is much more common in the earth's crust than uranium, existing at levels on the
order of 15 ppm, versus about 3 ppm for uranium.

You're right about thorium -- like uranium, there's enough thorium to supply civilization for its duration.
There's a caveat, however. A thorium reactor needs fissile material to get it going, and its realistic breeding capability is yet to be determined. Thus the first thorium reactors, at least, will have to be primed with U-235 or Pu-239 (like the first fast reactors).
Unless thorium reactors turn out to be able to able to double themselves at a significant rate, their expansion would eventually exhaust the existing supply of fissile material, requiring a great deal of uranium mining and enrichment if growth were to continue. Fast reactors would have a smaller maximum initial start-up rate, but could keep up a self-sustained growth rate as long as necessary.
Another point is that fast reactors with metal fuel (needed for optimum breeding) -- i.e. the IFR (Integral Fast Reactor) or some variant -- are ready for a commercial demo now. However, the development of the thorium cycle is about where the IFR was in 1980 -- a promising concept with a lot of technical details remaining to be worked out (such as which of the competing thorium cycles is optimum).
Depending on economics and other factors that differ from country to country, thorium might well well supply a growing portion of the world's energy needs.

The best way to use thorium is in a molten salt reactor. The salt is both the fuel and the primary coolant. If you use thorium in a solid form its hard to reprocess. A liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) can also burn spent fuel rods from pressurized light water reactors by dissolving them in the fuel salt. The result is all the isotopes that will fission are used as fuel without reprocessing. Most of the fission products are transmutated to lesser isotopes and you end up with waste that is on the order of 500 year 1/2 life instead of 100,000 years.


In addition, we have stored in stockpiles in Nevada enough thorium to power the world for 3 years. Thorium is a by-product of rare earth and other mining operations. so no mining is required it in the tailings we are trying to clean up. No enrichment is needed. The natural thorium isotope is used as it is from the mine.

Because the molten salt is molten it cannot melt down. This type of reactor is not pressurized and you can not have a steam explosion in the primary coolant. The containment vessel can be cheaper because its not a large pressure vessel.

Thorium is also resistant to nuclear proliferation. Thorium when it gets bred into U233 also gets contaminated with u234 which is a high gamma producer which messes with the critical confirmation of a nuclear weapon. Making it hard to hide and making the yield is unpredictable if it can be made to work at all.

I think you mean U-232, not U-234. However: (a) Pure Pa-233 (the precursor of U-233) can be chemically separated from the salt, yielding uncontaminated, weapons-quality U-233. (b) Any reactor can be adapted to irradiate special fuel elements to make weapons-quality Pu-239. Result: The thorium reactor has no meaningful proliferation advantage over any other kind of reactor.

You are right u232 my bad. I said proliferation resistant not proof. I believe you would not be able to maintain pure U233 for any usable amount of time. If you could instantly make it and instantly use it perhaps that would be true. It starts to decay away and gets contaminated as soon as it is made. if you are good enough to do these things with u233 which no other nuclear nation does in weapons production then you would do it the traditional way. Its much easier to make a bomb the traditional way using uranium just as we did.

In order for the process to work you need to breed thorium using a neutron source. If you remove PA 233 from the cycle then you need to replace the U 233 with U 235 to replace the neutron source. if you have the U235 then why would you bother with a u233 bomb?

That's not the way it works. U-233 does not decay to U-232, but rather by alpha emission to Th-229, with a half-life of 160,000 years. As a bomb material, U-233 is about as good as Pu-239, and I think it has been used in a few experimental explosions.
The fissile U-233 that keeps a thorium reactor going arises as dollows:
Th-232 + neutron --> Pa-233 --> U-233 + beta.
If the thorium reactor's breeding ratio is even a little above unity, some Pa-233 can be removed while still maintaining criticality -- no makeup fissile required. If the breeding ratio were less than unity, then thorium would not a viable long-term energy source, and we would not be having this discussion.

you might eventually be able to collect enough U233 but it is much easier to use U-235. Any U-233 produced will be contaminated by U-232, produced in one of three ways:

meaning in time any of your U233 will get contaminated. and you run the risk of killing your crew which maybe okay for you if they are unskilled but training even for terrorist takes time. The hot
fuel also makes it harder to smuggle or hide the stuff.

although relatively pure U-233 can be obtained by a proliferator by chemically extracting Pa-233 and allowing it to decay to U-233 away from neutron sources, this is no more feasible than running a LWR for a short fueling cycle and chemically extracting the Pu-239 from the Uranium in the fuel rods.

The five major nuclear powers currently have more than 20,000 nuclear warheads in their arsenals, NONE OF THEM are U-233.

That's basically correct, but if you want a bomb, and the only reactor you have runs on thorium, and you don't have access to enriched uranium, then U-233 from separated Pa-233 is something you can use (unless you want to modify your reactor to irradiate special U-238 elements to get Pu-239). Bear in mind that some proposed thorium cycles already involve routine separation of Pa-233 from the fuel stream, so the technology is not mysterious -- and such a cycle would be ideal for a would-be proliferator.

The thorium cycle offers no significant proliferation advantage, and will have to be safeguarded like any other reactor type.

Nobody has made an arsenal with U-233 because been no motivation to do so. There's not not much of it around (so far), while the bomb makers have had U-235 and Pu-239 in great abundance.

It'd be pretty easy to see whether a plant does or doesn't have the capability of extracting protactinium-233 before it decays to U-233. If it does, that's a very good reason to look at that plant skeptically, since it's much easier to extract uranium, in which case it comes with the contaminating U-232.

You've pointed out that thorium reactors designs have low breeding ratios. The flip side of that is low proliferation risk. The wanna-be bomb maker can't bleed off fissile material quickly without shutting the plant down.

First, separation of Pa-233 is a legitimate part of at least one proposed thorium cycle, so it wouldn't necessarily indicate nefarious intent. But, as you imply, all plants need safeguarding.

Second, a low breeding ratio can still yield an appreciable amount of bomb material. Consider: A 1-GWe plant consumes about a tonne heavy metal per year. If its breeding ratio is even 1.02, that's an excess of 20 kg per year of fissile (U-233). Not enough for a serious weapons program, but about enough for one bomb per year while still keeping the reactor critical. But if you have some crappy plutonium or 20%-enriched uranium (left over from when you started up the reactor)to replace the Pa-233 you take out, you could probably get a few hundred kg of good U-233 in a year.

Yes, there are many advantages of moderated molten salt reactors over
pressurized light water reactors, not the least of which is the inherent
safety advantage gained because it can be arranged to automatically drain the
fuel from the reactor core in the event of over-temperature due to a runaway
reaction. This can be done by placing a solid salt plug at the base of the
core with a melting temperature somewhat higher than the normal operating core
temperature, which is around 1300 F. If the reaction runs away the plug melts
and the fuel drains into a catch basin. Since there's no moderator in the
catch basin the nuclear reaction is terminated and a natural convection
cooling system is adequate to deal with the fission decay heat.

In fact the experimental molten salt reactor which was operated at ORNL from
1965 to 1969 was routinely shut down by draining all the fuel from the core. It
certainly also demonstrated the practical possibility of breeding thorium
in a single fluid molten salt reactor.

The considerably higher core temperature in molten salt reactors also leads
to better thermal efficiency than light water reactors can achieve.

The problem with using U-233 bred from Th-232 to make a bomb comes from U-232
rather than U-234. U-234 is an alpha emitter with a half-life on the order of
250,000 years, so it's not terribly radioactive: considerably less than
Plutonium-239, for example.

But some U-232 is always created in a thorium breeder by occasional (n,2n)
reactions on U-233. U-232 can't be chemically separated, and it's an alpha
emitter with a half-life of just 70 years. Its decay chain contains strong
gamma emitters which make the raw material for the bomb highly radioactive,
very difficult to work with, and easy to detect.

Technically, the design of a bomb with U-233 is probably very similar to that
of a plutonium bomb, though U-233 does have a higher rate of spontaneous fission
which may well make the design a bit trickier. In any case, it's not as easy
as a U-235 bomb.

The US did build a U-233 bomb and it certainly worked. It was tested in
Operation Teapot, I think in the 1950's.

Fast reactors will require no more mining of uranium for centuries, and no more enriching of uranium -- ever.

Doubtful: The fast breeder reactor Phénix had a breeding ratio of 1.12:
And after 50 years of breeder experience none has reached more than 1.2:

And this is besides the fact that capital costs of breeder reactors can nowhere near compete with power plants running on free fuel (hydro, wind, PV, CSP, geothermal, tidal, wave etc.).

Those low breeding ratios were in ceramic-fueled reactors. Metal fuel, with less parasitic absorption of neutrons, can achieve 1.5, for a doubling time of 15 years or better.
As other posts in this thread have shown, the "free fuel" wind and solar sources turn out to have very high costs per delivered kilowatt-hour.

Actually wind is about a 100 times cheaper than the Superphénix breeder reactor was.
Wind is at 5 cents per kWh while the breeder reactor Superphénix was at 500 cents per kWh.

Actually, any wind power at 5 cents per kWh is very heavily subsidized. See, for instance,
"What you get is a recipe for disappointment to experts who hoped that electricity from wind power will soon be competitive with more conventional energy sources. "Wind power is not competitive without subsidies. That's clear," said Per Lekander, head of European utilities research at UBS."
And actually, after a series of first-of-a-kind startup problems, Superphenix was finally operating reliably when it was shut down for political reasons. It was denied the chance to earn a return on the investment.

It would be a remarkable achievement for wind power to be able to compete without subsidies, when you consider the high level of subsidies for FF and nuclear sources (unrealistically low charges for emissions, financing subsidies, government provided R&D, liability limits, etc, etc).

Please ignore Nick and Anyone's comments and return to your technofantacy wet dreams.

Again, the feed in tariffs for wind in Germany are between 5.28 cents/kWh 8.36 cents/kWh and wind manufacturers are obviously still capable to generate a profit with these prices otherwise windfarms in Germany would simply not exist.
And that's all what the wind farm operators in Germany get and this is paid by the consumers and not by taxes AND Germany has far worse wind conditions than the US does. So the US can generate wind electricity at lower costs. These are facts.

Fact is also that wind makes electricity in Germany cheaper. What the consumers pay for the feed in tariffs is less than what wind reduces electricity prices:

Needless to say that Germany exports over 83% of its wind turbines with a profit and employs 90'000 people in this sector - also reducing the costly unemployment rate.

Again I think you are right. The Olympic Dam mine expansion will require 19 billion litres of diesel, a desalination plant on the coast 300km from the mine and a 700 MW power plant, possibly gas fired. The option of powering everything with a small nuclear plant seems to be ruled out. That is, desal and battery powered mine trucks, crushing plant and so on. It's fossil fuel dependent by design.

Since SA already gets 20% of its electrical energy from wind power and there are plants to increase this to >50%,so at least for desalination and mine processing not all of the energy will be coming from FF. You can be sure if oil prices rise X5-10 fold, electric powered mining trucks will be used or present electric vehicles will be maintained and expanded. Re-charging electric mine vehicles and desalination offer an opportunity to demand shift all of SA's peak demand, reducing the need for as much new gas fired capacity.

I would say the mining trucks would be powered by LNG before batteries just like BOC and Westfarmers are doing for long haul trucks. It would make a lot of sence, especially in the Pilbara.

Since SA already gets 20% of its electrical energy from wind power ...

"SA", South Australia? 6.7 percent in 2009.

(How fire can be domesticated)

You could also say the same thing about wind since the steel and concrete need use fossil fuel to mine and produce them. Setting up wind take a bunch a of trucks and cranes all burning diesel. mining rare earth for the wind turbine magnets use the same mining equipment you talk about for uranium.

Concrete takes a bunch of fossil fuel to generate. Most of that is not diesel.

Funny - I thought that many large surface mining operations used electric draglines.


I also think it is worth noting the following conclusion about the energy used for uranium mining.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf11.html - titled "Energy Analysis of Power Systems"

"The 2001 and 2002 Storm van Leeuwen & Smith papers and Background Information represent an interesting attempt to grapple with a complex subject but depend on many essentially speculative figures to put the case that nuclear energy incurs substantial energy debts and gives rise to minimal net energy outputs considered on a lifetime basis. Recent life cycle assessment (LCA) studies such as Vattenfall's show figures around ten times lower for key capital and waste-related energy demands. The Vattenfall life cycle study gives a bottom line of 1.35% of lifetime energy output being required for all inputs, and only a tiny fraction of this being in the nature of energy debts.

Finally, it should be pointed out that, even on the basis of their assumptions and using their inaccurate figures, Storm van Leeuwen & Smith still are forced to conclude that nuclear power plants produce less CO2 than fossil-fuelled plants, although in their view "the difference is not large". Others might see a 20 to 50-fold difference (between nuclear and gas or coal) as significant. The audited Vattenfall figure for CO2 emission on lifecycle basis is 3.10 g/kWh, less than one percent of the best fossil fuel figure. This could approximately double if nuclear power inputs to enrichment were replaced by fossil fuel ones, but it is still very low.

It is clear, then that the concerns related to energy costs at the heart of the Storm van Leeuwen & Smith paper can be dismissed. The authors' other point, that nuclear energy is not sustainable, is addressed in the Sustainable Energy and Supply of Uranium papers in this series."

Google uranium solution mining. No breaking, crushing, refining rock. See for yourself.

"After oil, there will be no fission"

We all have opinions ..

My guess is that mining and agriculture will have first
call on the remaining oil resources going forward ..

Triff ..

Interesting stats and forecasts.
Nuclear does look like a 3rd world solution now, as that's where the being-installed plants mostly are.

Even there, the added-GW numbers, are not large.

In the developed countries, the price curves and trends tell the big story.

Nuclear costs here, are growing, and quickly, whilst alternatives are falling. That marked difference in cost trends, makes forecasts over 5-10 years out, very risky indeed.

Looking at the UK, for example, renewables grew 2.5x (in TWh, not nameplate) from 2003 - 2009, and are now close to half Nuclear's numbers.

Even taking that trend as less than linear, by ~2015, renewables will pass UK Nuclear in TWh, and are already WAY ahead in added-TWh.

Coal plants are the clear targets, and renewable can work in an area-under-the curve manner, to displace coal. That means reducing loading factors for Coal plants, and falling coal usage.

We may even see cases, of Nuclear falling too quickly in some countries, and needing intervention to prevent worse alternatives filling the gaps.

Japan is also interesting : Very Nuclear-Centric, but new plants listed above, are a somewhat modest 1.5GW/yr addition rate, which contrasts with this claim :

["EPIA expects Japan tο become a GW market іn 2010 under a policy-obsessed scenario аnԁ bу 2012 even іn thе moderate scenario, wіth ambitious objectives tο reach 28 GW οf installed PV potential bу 2020 аnԁ 53 GW bу 2030"]

The future of nuclear power in Canada appears bleak to say the least. AECL has reportedly received $8 billion in federal subsidies to date, although some reports suggest it's more than twice that and that when you add in the debt service charges the cost to taxpayers is over $75 billion. Now the feds want to pull the plug and without the backing of the Government of Canada, the financial risks to utilities are that much greater.

New Brunswick throws a wrench into AECL sale plans
Decision to purchase a French reactor undermines Crown corporation’s already shaky reputation

New Brunswick has cast a pall over Ottawa’s effort to sell off Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., announcing that it has dropped AECL’s proposal to build a new reactor and is turning instead to the Crown corporation’s arch-rival, France’s Areva Group.

The New Brunswick decision, made public on Thursday, is the second major setback for AECL in the past year. Last summer, the Ontario government postponed indefinitely the purchase of the corporation’s next-generation Candu reactor, which is still in development.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/new-brunswick-throws-a-wren...

And I would suggest the likelihood of Areva building a merchant plant in New Brunswick is next to nil.


The discussion has been really interesting, both for what's said and what isn't. The detail on material sources, technology, projects, dreams, and prices is valuable. I'd hoped for more, though, on my question on financing nuclear infrastructure:

Information on investment and return amounts and timelines would be particularly helpful.

What I infer from the dicussion is that advocates expect governments to finance the infrastructure, one way or another.

Personally, I don't see a nuclear panacea, despite its superior energy density, because it makes most sense to build power generation at the appropriate scale where it's consumed, rather than incurring high transmission loss. But let's accept for the sake of moving the agenda, that we should build a new fleet of nuclear plants near the largest cities of the world.

Here's my next question: What are the particular elements of the nuclear-shifted future as you see it? If a fairly complete list of the essential elements can be compiled, the overall outline of the future should emerge.

Good question. I'll add mine.

Most pro-nukers are also pro-"free market"-ers.

But for the last thirty years, the market has not chosen nukes. Was the market wrong?

If it was so spectacularly wrong in this crucial area, why should we think it is any more "right" anywhere else?

If it is right, then why should gov's spend trillions on a technology so roundly rejected by the market? Why is gov interference in the market so right here and so wrong elsewhere?

... for the last thirty years, the market has not chosen nukes. Was the market wrong?

If it was so spectacularly wrong in this crucial area, why should we think it is any more "right" anywhere else?

If it is right, then why should gov's spend trillions on a technology so roundly rejected by the market? Why is gov interference in the market so right here and so wrong elsewhere?

Government interference is inevitable. The above question is framed so as to ignore the possibility of hostile government interference. But more than 100 GW of nuclear capacity was cancelled before startup because of just such interference, and as a result, governments have enjoyed hundreds of billions of dollars in additional fossil fuel income in the years since. There also was the Kleen Energy plant disaster, but no civil servants were harmed there.

"Why should gov's spend trillions" acknowledges the large numbers of future fossil fuel tax dollars that are in play -- mostly natural gas dollars, by recent experience -- but treats nuclear energy's potential to prevent their collection as spending. Tricky.

(How fire can be domesticated)

But for the last thirty years, the market has not chosen nukes. Was the market wrong?

Kind of. The market price of coal and gas power hasn't accounted for the external costs from emissions of carbon dioxide, mercury, etc. This makes those fuels look significantly cheaper than they are.

ok lurking here I see the debate for wind and nuclear

so from my billy beer barrel point of view and the rest of humanity watching the soap operas on telly in the UK its like this ,

during that cold snap we had in the winter this year I read , on this site I am sure ,that our wind generators produce 5% of their rating due to low wind speeds

nuclear kept up

when the tellies go off and the heating stops - guess what's going to happen and what the politicians will do .......


who am I , why should you care about what I think? - I vote. They know it.

PS: I support windpower,nuclear , hydro and China's way - build it everything , build it now , conserve now but BUILD!

( nobody will listen - until the lights go out )


thanks Gail for posting this. I am in kind of vacation right now. So not much time to answer in detail.

Just to make a few points

1) yes uranium mining official numbers are roughly 51000 tons
(a huge increase and dominantly coming from Kazakhstan). The rest of the world stayed roughly constant
at least since about 5 years and at about 38000 tons. This happened despite a roughly factor of four higher uranium price compared
to the early years of this decade.

Thus I lost the bet and I am happy to pay my bottle of wine equivalent to the oil drum people.

It actually might be interesting to look at my actual papers (number I.

In table 4 I had two scenarios for a comparison of production and production capacity and in comparison with
real mining. Of course we do not know yet what the 2010 result might be.

it look like that scenario B

the 2007 uranium mines continue at roughly the 40000 tons (no significant decline yet)
and that only 50% of the new capacity forecast can become operational in time.

might be close to reality!

Concerning Kazakhstan...

there is certainly much more about this country than officially reported. So in short lets see how reality will evolve.

For what it matters, I have some difficulties to believe that all the numbers are correct, remembering that even
``Enron" managed to fake numbers for years and
with Russia getting more and more control over its former colonies in the area,
thus lets see.

For the demand of uranium. As I and many other observers wrote
the end of the uranium delivery to the USA in 2013 will become the critical date
and it depends on how many new reactors need to be filled for the first time
(three time higher than the normal annual filling!). Thus 68000 tons for 2010 if all new reactors
will be ready in time, but we know already they will not be ready in time!

But of course who can believe that ``power politics" is happening only in the oil sector
and not in the nuclear power game a much more monopolized domain?

Thus lets see for the 2010 results.

thanks for Brian he put the numbers in a nice format:

Updated Uranium predictions
Brian Wang Dittmar midpoint
2010 56000 tons 45,000 tons 50,500 tons
2011 60000 tons 45,000 52,500 tons

so lets see for the results for 2010 and 2011.

In fact it might be interesting to add the expectations for all other countries
in my "view of last years bet" and ignoring Kazakhstan (or keeping it with the roughly 8000 tons)

my number for the others would stay rather constant at around 38000 tons (and so did my expectations for Kazakhstan)

If I understand Brians view correctly, one could subtract roughly the 13000 tons from Kazakhstan 2009
and the 18000 tons predicted for this country in 2010 and all other countries would extract:

38000 tons in 2009 and 38000 tons in 2010, thus no real rise either.
Perhaps Brian Wang could correct for my misunderstanding!

2) for the thing what really matters in the end

How many nuclear TWhe are really being produced per year?

I am kind of surprised that the 2009 number was actually even lower than what I had expected.

The average 1% decline observed since the record year of 2006 continues and the first
quarter 2010 numbers from the OECD countries indicate that this decline will continue during 2010!

Just putting the numbers up, nicely posted by Brian Wang again:

for 2010 my guess was 2550 TWhe while Brain Wang expects 2630 TWhe

Thus, with the new reactors not really coming online (for 2009 and 2010 we had so far only 4 new ones and 5 reactors were shutdown with a slightly
larger nominal power)

Considering that we had no strikes so far (and no earthquakes and a cold winter in Europe) it might be interesting to learn
why the first 3 months of 2010 saw again a decrease of nuclear electric energy by roughly 1% compared to the same period in 2009
and in the OECD countries).
The closure of the Lithunia reactor at the end of 2009, after a record year, will be difficult to compensate with new non OECD reactors
in 2010.

For the large number of new reactors to become operational during the last 6 months of 2010..
lets see .. but some are already announced to have long delays.

Thus the fantastic numbers of new reactors seem to become operational only "next" year and this for many years to come.
It is important to remember that similar wrong list were published by the WNA since many years.

Reality is what matters not wishful thinking .. and yes,
my guess of 2550 TWHe for 2010 might look even too high.

but lets see again on how the ``magic" growth numbers of nuclear electric energy will be achieved during the second half of 2010
and who will be responsible this time (more strikes? low oil price? warm weather, earth quakes? )


I am willing to discuss what developments will happen in other countries with uranium. but ignoring Kazakhstan as inconveniently increasing uranium production would be like ignoring the rise of Russia as an oil power. Will you also try to ignore Namibia and Niger when they inconveniently start a massive rise in uranium production.

Namibia uranium costs are not quite as low as Kazakhstan but they are pretty low and the country is desperate to replace the diamond industry.

Fungible resources. If Kazakhstan produces cheap uranium then economically marginal projects do not proceed or get delayed in the rest of the world.

Supply goes up, prices go down or do not increase, there is an effect on other mining projects.

Kazakhstan production of uranium is that high. They are selling it to other countries and companies. Those buyers would notice not getting their uranium. Plus uranium is fairly strategically important. A lot of people outside of Kazakhstan monitor mines and their production. People would not want a bunch of uranium walking away and coming back as bombs. Your fake numbers theory is just goofy.

Dittmar, you are still working off of the 2007 red book as your touchstone. In 2007, Kazakhstan had 6637 tons. so 34645 tons from non-Kazak sources in 2007.
In 2009, 36752 from non-kazak. Kazak 13820.

the big kazak surge delayed some projects in Canada, Namimbia and Niger.

2009 was on track to more generation. The last quarter of the year had particularly low generation. It was why it still seemed like it might come in at 2580-2600 TWH. US underperformed by 20 TWH in the last quarter of 2009.

I know that you are fixated on the IEA electricity report for OECD generation. It is fairly representative for 80% of the world's generation. But it will ignore the increase from India and China. India with good fuel supply and fully operational reactors could get up to 35-40 TWH. About 20 TWH more than 2009.

The IEA report is usually about 2-3 months old. It shows march 2010 numbers now. I can see Japan's utility numbers for May, 2010 and in another week they will report June. I know that Japan had a good April and they turned on another reactor in June. So June and July numbers for Japan should look very good. I also have the May numbers for the USA.

Year-to-date 2010 nuclear generation is 0.8 percent behind the same period in 2009 but is slightly higher than the same period for the record year in 2007. Back in March, the US was -1.9% vs 2009.

April 20% over april 2009, May 5.9% over May 2009.

I had indicated that generation numbers are so close that your predictions had a good chance in 2009 and a decent chance in 2010. I think I will have an edge 60-40 for 2010. But 2011 will go 80-20 to my prediction. 2012 and onwards it will head towards 95-5 for my numbers.

Why the slight underperformance relative to 2009 for Q1 2010 ?

1. 561.6 TWH for three months at -1.2% versus Q1 2009. annualized 2246.4 which is 128 TWH more than the actual annual 2128 TWH. So actually repeating that quarter 3 more times would produce 2007 or 2008 type numbers.

2. US down 1.9% for the quarter and Europe OECD down 2.5%, Asia OECD up 3.5%

Korea, France, Canada, Mexico and several other countries were down 5-9% in nuclear generation. Sweden was down 20%.

I feel fine about my 2010 prediction on generation. It is not a slam dunk. the generation does not become slam dunk until 2012. At that point a bunch of freak stuff can happen and I still win.

Hi Brian,

I was not suggesting to ignore Kazakhstan, but just to look at it separately!

``I am willing to discuss what developments will happen in other countries with uranium. but ignoring Kazakhstan as inconveniently increasing uranium production would be like ignoring the rise of Russia as an oil power. "

Kazakhstan production of uranium is that high. They are selling it to other countries and companies. Those buyers would notice not getting their uranium. Plus uranium is fairly strategically important. A lot of people outside of Kazakhstan monitor mines and their production. People would not want a bunch of uranium walking away and coming back as bombs. Your fake numbers theory is just goofy.

the big kazak surge delayed some projects in Canada, Namimbia and Niger.

may be you could give some examples for that. But for sure Cigar Lake had other problems.

2009 was on track to more generation. The last quarter of the year had particularly low generation. It was why it still seemed like it might come in at 2580-2600 TWH. US underperformed by 20 TWH in the last quarter of 2009.

I know that you are fixated on the IEA electricity report for OECD generation. It is fairly representative for 80% of the world's generation. But it will ignore the increase from India and China. India with good fuel supply and fully operational reactors could get up to 35-40 TWH. About 20 TWH more than 2009.

The IEA report is usually about 2-3 months old. It shows march 2010 numbers now.

I am not "fixated on the IEA report. but it just gives the overall numbers for 80% of the world generation.

Integrating over the year is not just multiplying the first quarter by a factor of 4 as you know very well.
Maintenance and fuel outages are mostly done during low load demand times (thus spring and fall mostly)

but as I wrote it is just an indication that the aging french and european reactors have some tiny problems.
Anyway, we are not in a hurry to see how things will work out for 2010.

For the non OECD countries. Yes production could go up in India for example but not much in China
as they work already very efficiently. The new reactors will have a hard time to brake even with the one from
Lithunia's final year.

Finally, regarding the ``Fast Reactor" construction (yes WNA calls the russian one now fast reactor not breeder anymore!

The termination of the Phenix Reactor in February 2010 marks another big thing (may be eventually one can find a report of the
fuel analysis showing how much fissile material came in and how much out.... but so far the numbers copied everywhere are
just design breeding numbers not real measurements .. )

Official announcements from France and Japan have move the starting date for "real breeders" of the fourth generation to 2040
at least. Away from the year/decade starting 2030.

Finally you might comment on the delays for the reactor startup from the WNA tables
originally envisioned for 2008 (zero) 2009 (plus 2) and 2010 (plus 2 so far)

something like 7-8 were mentioned 2 years ago for these years

When you compare to the termination of reactors during these years

there was no net increase during the past 3 years of the so called nuclear energy renaissance
(-1% per year growth!)
Thus lets imagine how the reality would look like without the renaissance
(-2% per year perhaps?)

regards Michael

April numbers are out for IEA /OECD.

now at -0.1% vs 2009. So caught up by 1.1%.
731 TWH for first four months

Thanks for posting the link.

Actually the numbers are a little puzzling.

with the first 3 month in the OECD countries being 1.1% lower than 2009
and April (with a relatively low monthly nuclear number) being only a little more than 1% above 2009 april

the overall can't be only 0.1% lower than 2009 first four months ..

but I guess it is just to late for me to look at the correct numbers and typos..

and next week/months will tell the typo.. or whatever

Some recent information on Trends, and it's those trend-lines that will determine the futures.

Again, the focus-loser here has to be coal, rather than Nuclear, but it's what is 'moving' that is interesting.


On the installed yardstick ["Renewables account for 62 percent of the new electricity generation capacity installed in the EU in 2009"]

and on the generation Yardstick :
["In 2009, and in absolute terms, about 19.9% (608 TWh) of Europe's total electricity consumption (3042 TWh) came from renewable energy sources. Hydro power contributed with the largest share (11.6%), followed by wind (4.2%), biomass (3.5%), and solar (0.4%). "]

and Nuclear does appear, with a positive number, but very small

["new capacity constructed that same year (27.5 GW), among the renewable sources, 37.1% was wind power, 21% photovoltaics (PV), 2.1% biomass, 1.4% hydro and 0.4% concentrated solar power, whereas the rest were gas fired power stations (24%), coal fired power stations (8.7%), oil (2.1%), waste incineration (1.6%) and nuclear (1.6%) "]

More complete data is here :

- and again, the trends/forecasts show 67GW Annual Production Capacity of Solar PV expected by 2015. (assumes the market can swallow the capacity, but grid parity is claimed in the 2013-2016 time frames)

Wind is even larger,
["In 2009 the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has increased its 2020 target from 180 GW installed capacity in 2020 to 230 GW including 40 GW offshore. This cumulative installed capacity would be able to produce some 600 TWh of electricity or 14 to 18% of the European Union's expected electricity demand in 2020."]

even China is WAY ahead of earlier targets of added GW :

["At the end of 2009 the Renewable Energy Law from 2006 was amended and the renewable energy target for 2020 was increased from the previous 9% to 15%. The 30 MW wind target for 2020, set in 2006, will be surpassed in 2010 and the discussions for the "10-Year Plan for Green Energy Future" point towards a much higher 100 – 150 GW target."] (I think that 30MW meant 30GW)

Detailed retail electricity prices by state.