Taiwan is Still Moving to Shutdown Nuclear Reactor Despite Pro-Nuclear Vote

Taiwan’s recent election passed a pro-nuclear measure with a 59-41 majority. The will of the Taiwan people was to stop the phasing out of nuclear power. The ruling DPP party has an anti-nuclear power policy and passed a law in 2016 to start phasing out nuclear power.

Taipower (Taiwan Power) said Chinshan 1 nuclear reactor will officially cease operation and enter the decommissioning stage tomorrow. Chinshan 1 has been repaired and a license to operate and restart. The DPP blocked them from restarting.

The people voted to cancel the phase-out and if democracy was being followed then the Chinshan reactor should not be shut down. A pro-nuclear Taiwan should also complete and start two other nearly complete nuclear reactors.

28 thoughts on “Taiwan is Still Moving to Shutdown Nuclear Reactor Despite Pro-Nuclear Vote”

  1. Thorium is a fine substitute for 238U in any and every nuclear system. If you have plutonium, go-ahead and mix it with thorium. If you have weapons-grade uranium, go-ahead and mix it with thorium. If you are making new fuel with no reprocessed plutonium and no high-enriched uranium to down-blend, then leave out the thorium because it dilutes the fuel and would require higher uranium enrichment to be useful.

    Say I want to make a fuel assembly (or MSR mixture) that is 50% thorium oxide/fluoride/etc… Does it make any sense to enrich the 50% uranium part to 10% in order to get an effective starting enrichment of 5%? No. Does it make any sense to add 20kg of any-grade plutonium oxide to 435kg of thorium oxide to create a MOX PWR fuel assembly with 4.4% effective enrichment? Sure. It does make sense…. but you also have mountains of depleted uranium to use first and that material still has 0.3% 235U so it would be better to use the depleted uranium.

    Thorium is fine, but it is nonsense without massive-scale fuel recycling. We don’t have mass transit or electric cars or very effective water management in the USA. I think we’d move those things along first before we went big-time with fuel recycling.

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  2. Can the thorium fans do a solid state thorium reactor?

    Wiki claims it can be used in current CANDU reactors. In which case just ship it (if the other claimed advantages stack up).

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  3. “no ruler, sane or otherwise, would dream of starting a war”

    See, I don’t think you can be so sure about what other-than-sane people are going to do.

    After all, we have dozens of examples of small time dictators who take actions that result in their own executions when things go (predictably) wrong.

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  4. I think you are being too narrow in your comparison to SpaceX. Yes, the exact same tactic that SpaceX used will not work for nukes. But the general strategy of radically rethinking how the system is approached is still valid.

    Musk has also done some radical changes in other fields, and it turns out that reusability is not his only approach.
    Tesla didn’t invent the idea of the reusable car, instead it came up with the approach of

    • Instead of making electric cars as cheap, weird, bizarrely unstable looking things for hippies; instead make them as expensive, super high performance luxury prestige vehicles.
    • Because they are expensive you can afford to put in heaps of batteries, so you get decent range. Enough that many customers no longer worry about running out of juice.
    • Now you aren’t cycling the cells hard in day to day use, and so get much longer life.
    • Because you have so many batteries in parallel, you can dump huge power into your motor and get the sort of crushing acceleration that lets you sell for a high price.

    See. Also not applicable to nuclear power (Or is it? See below*.)
    But hardly the same as the the “make it reuseable” tactic from SpaceX.

    *Maybe the Tesla approach IS sort of parallel to a nuclear power approach. Scaryjello’s suggestion of making a BWR reactor much, much bigger and running it much less hard to get a cheaper, safer system is sort of the same general idea as Tesla’s.

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  5. We’ve seen oligopolies crash and burn several times. They are brought down in a few different ways.

    1. Musk type radical reinvention of the field which happens to get enough capital backing to get big without getting bought out.
    2. Japanese car industry style foreign competition. The US car companies were the definition of fat and lazy, but the Japanese industry was (relatively) lean and tough in their own country, and then they saw a fat rich field ripe for plucking.
    3. Government steps in and starts kicking heads. The favourite option of many people, this has a very common failure mode of ending up just another part of the oligopoly, and now the other 2 options will find it much more difficult because they’ll be fighting the government as well as industry.
    4. Overtaken by Events from outside the industry. Some seemingly unrelated development ends up changing the way people solve their problems so much that the entire industry is obsoleted. See the record industry and solid state storage and file sharing.
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  6. I wouldn’t say it was ‘outrageously productive of astoundingly dangerous byproducts’ – just as it takes a very small amount of fuel to make a lot of energy, it leaves a very small amount of waste in proportion, and there is potential to reduce that waste about a hundred-fold, by going to fast neutrons or thorium. That would also reduce the size of the containment about a hundred fold, if there was no water near the fuel to explode as steam. (That’s assuming a liquid coolant – gas is much worse as a ‘caloporteur’ than water, so still needs a large pressure vessel.) Sometimes I think that every tinpot country should go North Korea’s route – if they all had the bomb, proliferation control would be a pointless exercise, no ruler, sane or otherwise, would dream of starting a war, and the nuclear engineers could get on with improving the tech.
    Jet turbine aircraft and nuclear reactors were both embryonic, and the sole preserve of the military, at the end of world war two. Now anyone who wants to go anywhere hops on a jet airliner, and most countries run a fleet of them, but to buy a nuclear power plant, the paperwork has to exceed the mass of the reactor. 9/11 showed how dangerous airliners could be, and Fukushima showed how safe reactors are – 3,000 deaths from four airliners, versus as near zero from radiation, after three meltdowns, as makes no difference.

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  7. The nuclear power plant manufacturers of the world are acting as a oligopoly: a headless group of not-really-competing companies setting prices passively to be far higher than they might be would that fundamental costs and market-rate profits be applied. It used to be this way for buying extra-large road equipment — graders, caterpillars, all that. There were only a few companies making ’em, and thus they set a high and sweet price. No alternatives meant they got their coin.

    China is like this, too.
    Hence why I pine for a Musk-type reinvention of the nuclear power field.

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  8. The 4×1.4 GW Korea’s KEPCO are building in UAE are at 7.7 cents per kWh for capital costs and interest (and rising, if any more delays). Operations and fuel will be another 2.5 cents. After 25 years it will require an infusion of 25% of the original capital cost (plus inflation).

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  9. What may bring some level of comfort to people who are scared of nuclear power plants is an analysis Sandia National Labs (SNL) performed in their SOARCA (State-of -the Art of -Accident -Analysis) program. SNL calculated that only tiny amounts ( 1% or less of the initial inventory) of radioactive iodine, cesium, and other fission products from nuclear plants might enter the environment even if all active safety systems had failed, such as when there is a station blackout like Fukushima. For nuclear plants with a large “dry” containment, typically pressurized water reactors like Diablo Canyon, Indian Point, and many others, it would take over a day for the pressure in the containment air space to reach the point where significant leakage might begin. Long before such leakage would begin, a variety of natural forces, like gravity, trapping of highly soluble fission product compounds in wet surfaces and in water pools, plate out on metal surfaces, etc., reduce airborne radionuclides to very low levels without any need for electricity or plant operator actions. Thus these plants are inherently safe when the accident starts with an intact containment building. In Japan the magnitude 9 earthquake that initiated the Fukushima tsunami moved the northeast portion of Japan an amazing 17 feet, but did not cause any one of Japan’s 50+ reactors to lose containment integrity. Analyses of the Fukushima accident support the general conclusions of the SOARCA program.

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  10. Sorry, Newt. I’ll admit that I didn’t vet the numbers overly closely. I think your 0.36¢/kWh and my 0.12¢/kWh are different only by the Carnot (in-)efficiency of converting (Thermal → Electricity) at a nuclear power plant. Right? We are using the same spot price for LEU, and same burn-up rate. 

    I’ll also point out that the IAEA/etc posted $/MWh (7% discount) rates are NOT what I was writing about in re:the Chinese cost-to-manufacture of fully-installed nuclear reactors. They are masters of being able to make stuff really cheaply, then in the international marketplace, price their product “attractively below” the most mainstream competition. The U.S. can’t make nuclear reactors apparently for less than $7 a watt. No surprise. Pork, pork, regulatory lard, and more pork. 

    Anyway, note that Korea lists their amortized + operational + refueling and end-of-life set-aside cost at only 5¢/kWh. Perhaps a bit less. The point remains: nuclear power is potentially the least expensive power we can ‘make’; it has a very small footprint, and it has a remarkably solid “if run right” reliability factor. And it is what, on generation 5 now or something? Quite a bit has been learned.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy

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  11. It’s safer then 3rd generation reactors in every way imaginable. It has passive safety features. Probability of a meltdown is almost non existent, and proliferation risk is minimal.

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  12. Japanese Govt. yesterday said that TW cannot enroll for a member of CRTPP, because TW voted to deny suspected nuclear contaminated foods import from japan.

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  13. In TW, nuclear plants are not technical issues (may be earthquake is an issue). it is politic issue, DPP amplified the danger of nuclear plants and got a seat of TW Govenor on 2016. If they change the direction, that is politically suicide. The best way is to let the next govenor take action.

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  14. Comparing nuclear power to SpaceX isn’t the same – a rocket costs $60 million but the fuel costs $1.4 million. So reusability can radically change the cost structure.

    Nuclear power stations have already achieved “reusability”.

    P.S. A steam turbine island alone costs $1 per watt in China. That’s true of even a coal plant.

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  15. For fabricated fuel
    “At 45,000 MWd/t burn-up this gives 360,000 kWh electrical per kg, hence fuel cost = 0.39 ¢/kWh.” is the “front end” cost.

    This does *not* include lifecycle costs.

    Your capital costs for Chinese nuclear reactors are off by a similar multiple. Same link below has overnight capital costs at $3.50 a watt (so higher than that as no reactor is built overnight.

    You’ve repeatedly put up this misinformation without any supporting links. I’ve lost count.

    What’s the reason?

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/economic-aspects/economics-of-nuclear-power.aspx

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  16. i was reading this thinking this is the most intelligent opinion on nuclear ive ever seen and then it was signed GoatGuy and my shock and awe was replaced by a little smirk and and atta boy

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  17. While you are right to say that thorium as a fuel is not necessarily safer, there are proliferation advantages, as well as the fact that most people are referring to molten salt reactors when they discuss thorium reactors, which have some inherent safety advantages, though you are right that both are similarly very safe if run/designed well

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  18. I am a researcher studying thorium molten salt reactors. They are not necessarily safer than the current fleet, just cheaper to make safe. Current reactors go to enormous cost and effort to be the safest energy source available. Thorium, or rather, molten salt reactors are a big improvement mainly because they are cheaper to make safe, not because there is actually a safety issue with current reactors. Nearly anything can be engineered safe, which current reactors are. Molten salts have the advantage of requiring a lot less engineering to be safe. Once the reactor is built though there is no real advantage to switching to an entirely new reactor scheme since the money is already spent on the safety systems of the current reactors.

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  19. There is nothing SAFER about thorium nuclear reactions than uranium based. Bottom line is: the reaction is mind-bogglingly energetic (yay!) and at the same time, outrageously productive of astoundingly dangerous byproducts (oh, noes). That said, both (or “either”) are muzzled to safe-operation by multiple layers of protection, layers of “firewalls” between the actual reacting nuclear materials and the output of power (and spinning off of spent fuel stuff.)

    Which results in reliability which is nothing short of astoundingly good.

    Just because they’re potentially dangerous — if mishandled, misrun, mismanaged — doesn’t mean that if well managed, they aren’t a great gift to Humanity.

    GoatGuy

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  20. That’s a different reactor design.
    See Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor.
    But even existing nuclear has a better safety record than anything else.
    Google ‘Deaths per Terawatt hour’ to find NBF’s article on the safety record of various energy technologies.

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  21. Perhaps premature: the ‘wheels of government’ move more slowly than reasonable. The public has voted pro-nuclear ticket, and the government continues on its older program. 

    The bottom line: nuclear power is simply inexpensive, reliable, safe and imposes modest in land-use, resource-use, ongoing operations manpower, and even end-of-life decommissioning and remediation.

    Seriously.

    Only hydroelectric offers similar. Its main gotcha is requring large bodies of water dammed up; these however serve secondary purpose as irrigation and potable water reservoirs, as recreational features, and as renewable power buffers.  

    Given actual-cost figures, the Chinese are producing nuclear power plants for less than $1.00 a watt — production cost, out the door. The uranium enrichment sector is producing LEU (low enriched uranium) for about 97¢ per megawatt-hour. With armored delivery, on-site decommissioning pools, off-site entombing … the amortized cost is about $1.20 per megawatt hour. That is 0.12¢/kWh. I pay over 18.0¢/kWh. Pretty darn cheap, no?

    Just as Musk has revolutionized launch services with future under-$100/lb launch costs (LEO), trimming out the endless pork-barrel fat from space-launch services, the nuclear power industry could (and should) be similarly revolutionized. 

    Because cheap, reliable, clean, safe, tiny-footprint, near-no-environmental issue nuclear power is key to Humanity’s future. 

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy

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