China Will Show Nuclear Energy is Still Better for a Decarbonized Electrical Grid

China is one of the only countries increasing its construction of nuclear power. China will have more nuclear energy than the USA by 2030.

In 2020, nuclear is still the second-largest source of low-carbon electricity, after hydropower. In the US, Europe and Japan nuclear power is the largest source of low-carbon electricity generation. It provides more than hydropower, but also more than wind and solar PV combined. Nuclear energy has reduced global CO2 emissions over the last 60 years by almost 20%.

France has proven that using 80% nuclear energy for electricity built in the 1980s was a faster and cheaper way to decarbonize than Germany construction of solar and wind power. France is still doing better with nuclear than any other country has done with wind and solar.

China is also building solar, wind and creating a massive advanced energy grid using ultra high voltage power lines to reduce energy losses for transmitting over large distances.

We will be able to compare states, regions and countries that attempt to only use solar, wind and batteries with other countries that use solar, wind, batteries and nuclear power. We will see which countries have problems with power outages and which get less energy generation for the costs spent on infrastructure.

SOURCES- World Nuclear News
Written by Brian Wang,

35 thoughts on “China Will Show Nuclear Energy is Still Better for a Decarbonized Electrical Grid”

  1. The idea is quite old, before Musk, and needs to be completely re done for both costs and tech. All things GEO will work on Moon, so not much new to learn other than main Space Solar stuff military is doing. They know radar, perhaps? Put cells on Moon, get it?

    See ppg 12-13 for starter kit of power beaming, leads to Space Solar and LSP directly. "100 000 km^2 to rectennas. " Each rectennae is ~1 km^2, gives ~.2GWe locally. Your math is for 10^5 rectennae, so (edit: *, not / is .2 GWe *10^5 is 20 TWe, not 50, but twice current world, good starting goal for world) (edit wrong! 5*10^4 GWe , 5*10^1 TWe, 50 TWe) for US' continent is a little extreme, but doable. Do you really need that much? See pg 11 for rectennae, which replace I think you mean conduction lines, like we now have. Transmission is power beaming, no wires.

  2. Production tax credits and similar are a tiny drop in the ocean of subsidies given to wind and solar.

    The three big one are as follows:

    Transmission. It is alone more expensive than electricity production in the electrical grid as a whole. New nuclear you would plop down to replace old nuclear or old coal next to the same high voltage trunk lines that already exist. New wind and solar is scattered over large areas, not infrequently inaccessible like a ridge somewhere. This (local) transmission is rarely accounted for in levelized cost (!) and is often subsidized to 100%.

    Wind and solar are unreliable and supply no rotating mass to stabilize the grid. They are "negative load"; they come and go randomly just like the load consumers place on the grid. Wind and solar need rotating mass for frequency regulation as they can't do it themselves and that spinning reserve is fossil powered wherever there's not enough hydro. They need backup to the tune of almost their entire installed capacity. The cost of maintaining this duplicate infrastructure is never added to the cost of wind and solar.

    Grid upgrades, storage etc to decarbonize the wind+solar+gas+coal system (every wind farm is a gas plant, they just aren't co-located in most cases). What are these massive new HVDC lines between different grids about? They are about increasing the reliability of wind and solar. Without it wind and solar locks in natural gas use forever and can't make a significant difference.

  3. That is what they say, but why do they need all these subsidies? Each time the wind tax credit is supposed to expire, it is renewed. And nobody can really fathom all the subsidies pushed into solar.

  4. "metal flow batteries and especially on the optimal Sulfur flow batteries that can plummet to a cost of $20-$30 per KW. Flow batteries can keep a capacity of 100 hours and this is what is needed to supply steady power also in off peak seasons of".
    I know of work on these batteries, but are they seriously used anywhere? Will they really have capacity to make up for seasonal shortfalls?

  5. The movement would be by power beaming or H use in existing natural gas pipelines, so the large H storage would be fixed. Bladders in deep water works, but this is to moderate Earth renewables, not replace them by vast storage. Delivery/balancing of power by power beaming is also a big deal, no matter the source. Vehicles get H by the tank, currently avail nationwide on call. Space Solar will then smooth things out further. By replacing the grid with power beams, a lot of things look different! If all we did was make H with otherwise *extra* or excess power, we should be able to have a lot. Power beaming and H are distinct issues, but clearly can work together. Big money!

  6. The 460 MW dam inland from here has nobody on site – it's run from a hundred miles away. Ideally, you could do the same with nuclear – refuel half a dozen plants, then swan off for a five year holiday. The plant drone would automatically vapourise any Greenpeace protesters.

  7. 'H instead of batteries'
    Hydrogen is a terrible energy storage medium. The first liquid hydrogen tanker is undergoing sea trials – it's slated to carry 'blue' hydrogen – made from coal – from Australia to Japan. The energy content of the ship, converted into the equivalent of nuclear fuel pellets, would fit in a handbag. The tanker had to be made of special steels to cope with the -250C temperature ( a good ~ hundred colder than liquid natural gas ) and the welds have to deal with hydrogen's propensity to sneak out through metals. Even so, they'll lose a fair percentage through boil-off. The alternative to liquid hydrogen is to compress the stuff to pressures higher than a scuba tank, resulting in a heavy, expensive potential bomb that needs a lot of energy just to fill it.

  8. China invests a lot in solar too but Brian is silent on this as he gets money from the nuclear association maybe?

  9. Smaller fourth generation nukes would be a major help. The Chinese were building a special hundred kilometer road just so they could transport the pressure vessels from the Yangtse to their first inland site – before they went cold on the AP1000, and cancelled it.

  10. Current buildout seems to be about acquiring IP rights and building infrastructure. Next round of buildout with CAP-1400s would be the "France Like" build.

    Single party politics can help but there is also a good deal of rent seeking and corruption in the budget that keeps eternal R&D projects alive.

  11. Is there a point to this comment? It's all over the place. Not even sure what are you trying to talk about. And what is "my reload"?
    "solar, Hydro, fossil, biomass are all garbage,"
    Actually, solar is very good for heat. You can also store it in what is mostly a hole in the ground.

  12. The future of nuclear power seems pretty grim to me.
    Even China and Russa are not putting substantial effort into it. Nothing like what the french did during their transition.
    There are a large number of modern nuclear reactor concepts, one more underdeveloped than the other.
    Even the old ones take ages to approve and build.

  13. "When storage is solved", AKA never.

    Didn't you say the same thing about wind and solar producing the cheapest electricity in human history?

  14. I heard a while ago that they were triple manning their construction crews to get more experienced teams. In any case, they're capable of building American reactors a lot more expeditiously than the Yanks, and French reactors faster than the Frogs. They're planning on four VVER1200s shortly, we'll see if they can put them up faster than the Russians can. The first two 1200s in Russia took eight and ten years. The Chinese built four earlier model VVER1000s, at Tianwan, in six then five years each, then built two of their own design at the same site, the first also in five years. The latest of Chinese design is due to fire up by the end of this year, and the next Russian design one, unit 7, should start construction this month.
    Xudabao, the other plant due for a pair of Russian 1200s, will be the first nuclear plant within cooee of Beijing. It was due to get six AP1000s, but first Fukushima scared the horses, and then Westinghouse ran into problems.

  15. Agreed. Nuclear is safer by far than every other energy source including solar. Nuclear is the way to go.
    The anti-nuke parade was a Marxist attempt at preventing the USA and the rest of the free world from achieving energy dominance. It worked. People today still quote the tired and discredited canard that a nuke plant will blow up like Hiroshima. Utterly impossible. The quote of the useful idiot.

    Also Gen-4 reactors will be able to consume what we previously called "nuclear waste" as fuel. Solar power can't do that. If for no other reason, we should build out Gen-4 reactors for the singular purpose of cleaning up the nuclear waste.

    The fact that we can run the whole world at current USA levels of energy consumption for several hundred years solely by burning the existing nuclear waste is an added perk.

    Any "Green advocates" who don't embrace nuclear power wholeheartedly are complete frauds.

  16. Pulling numbers out of your ass is technically a cost estimate, but it is not a believable one. What can be presented without evidence (or even a hand-waving calculation, e.g. your linked PDF) can be dismissed without evidence.

    Transmission and land is a major cost in electrical systems and yours implies a continent-scale grid due to "only" dedicating 100 000 km^2 to rectennas. Transmission costs alone will make it uneconomic even if cranking out solar cells on the moon was gratis.

  17. Actually, the need is to not launch, just use what is already there. 0 launch cost does not mean the resources are on Earth, and they are not, in the bigger scale of things. We need that stuff here. Also, GEO is already crowded, too much for another 20-200 TWe of Space Solar, so do it on the Moon or at L5. Make bucks at .01 $ per KWe-h, with pre Musk launch costs estimate. Only 5 times cheaper than nuke.

  18. The first thing one should do is figure out a way to make viable space solar even if the launch cost to geostationary orbit is identical to 0.

  19. China had better build out nuclear power – a BIG chunk of their biggest cities lie in areas with less than great solar or wind, and if the US keeps backing off from intervention to keep seas safe for transport (e.g. not doing anything about Iran "detaining" a South Korean oil tanker), China (and others in SE Asia) are going to have less secure access to oil and gas. Which China is trying to do something about with pipelines and such, but that's a lot more expensive than oil tanker transport, and also subject to easy disruption.

  20. "We will be able to compare states, regions and countries that attempt to
    only use solar, wind and batteries with other countries that use solar,
    wind, batteries and nuclear power." We will not compare to using power beaming instead of grid, H instead of batteries, existing fusion instead of nuke (other than to burn nuke waste and make heat), Space instead of Earth to collect said fusion, opening Space to the future.

    Or will we?

  21. World Nuclear Industry Status Report is published by a well known Big Oil paid anti nuclear troll.

    Rather than Big Oil sophistry from its banker Lazard, the actual experts at the IEA have different numbers in their 2020 report.


    From the chart in the middle of the report when we assume the current 3% finance cost for public power projects from OPG and Canada we get a median LCOE for new nuclear at 4.5 cents/kwh wind at 4 cents and solar at 4.3. For wind and solar we need to add 40 cents for fossil backup, low utilization transmission and surplus dumping. Switch to Green storage and add $5 yes 500 cents/kWh for the cheapest green storage envisioned.

  22. You are clueless like all green ghouls. Every year you can delay the French example of a transition to nukes is another 10 million dead from your fossil fuels. Can you taste their blood?

    $per kw – Like all greens you never finished grade school science
    A meaningless measure of storage capacity.

    Off seasons? – you disgusting half wit. Wind and solar have low output weather events in all seasons.

    Actually nukes are cheaper than wind and solar in China which run at a very low capacity factor.

    China's actual future power blend with depend on the technical successes. Its HTGR or MSR high temp reactors can replace the heat source in their many coal plants and provide dirt cheap district heat.

  23. The distinction is falsely strict. China is also basing its power generation growth on renewables. The best route I think is to evolve the battery capacity steadily and inexpensively with focus on metal flow batteries and especially on the optimal Sulfur flow batteries that can plummet to a cost of $20-$30 per KW. Flow batteries can keep a capacity of 100 hours and this is what is needed to supply steady power also in off peak seasons of renewable energy. In the meantime natural gas turbines should not be completely decommissioned but continue supplementing power in the off seasons.

    Aside from batteries biomass energy should also be developed, it can also add power during off seasons. This is what Germany does.

    Nuclear should continue transitioning technologically and stay where it is in share of generation in the meantime, no need to rattle this snake either way! There are other forms of baseload renewables that should be invested in first! Nuclear will become safe enough to start growing in share after thorium reactors become commercially and widely available, if there is a necessity and if it shows that it can compete commercially against renewables. Molten salt reactors used in designated safe countries, their byproduct shipped and used in thorium reactors in less safe countries. The designation will be made in a new nuclear treaty.

    See table in page 11.

  24. ""

    When storage is solved, it will mean the ignominious end the facebook religion that is nuclear advocacy.
    What ever happened to the madcap view ~"if you dont support the cheapest
    solution your true goal might be tyranny"…or some such nonsense.

    "The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) from nuclear power rose from around $117/MWh in 2015 to $155 at the end of last year(2019), according to the latest edition of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, published annually by French nuclear consultant Mycle Schneider.By contrast, the LCOE from solar power decreased from $65/MWh to approximately $49 and that of wind from $55 to $41."

    No, tree hugging is not responsible for an inept industrial capacity producing negative -115% transfer learning rates. The more Americans build reactors the more inept they become at it.
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2020.10.001

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