California and Germany Could Save Nuclear Reactors

California and Germany could both act to save their remaining nuclear power plants. California could save one nuclear reactor that provides 15% of its clean power and Germany could save reactors that would prevent adding about 60% more natural gas. Germany has been short natural gas that it imports from Russia.

The California Diablo Canyon nuclear plant could be saved buy the utility PGE and the California Governor, Gavin Newsom. Pacific Gas & Electric is exploring the possibility of keeping the 2.2 GW Diablo Canyon nuclear plant open beyond its currently scheduled retirement in 2024 and 2025 to support the reliability of California’s electricity system. PG&E CEO Patti Poppe told analysts during an earnings call at the end of July, 2022.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested delaying the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in May. California could use $6 billion in federal funding that was announced earlier this year for nuclear reactions facing the prospect of retirement.

California could reduce power sector emissions by more than 10% from 2017 levels and save some $2.6 billion by operating the Diablo Canyon plant through 2035, according to a report released last November from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has raised the possibility of lengthening the life of the remaining nuclear reactors.

Germany uses 42% fossil fuel (coal and natural gas) and 6% nuclear energy.

Germany could not just save the three remaining nuclear reactors but turn on three recently mothballed nuclear reactors that were turned off at the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. Having all six reactors would enable them to not need almost all of the natural gas imports.

Russia dramatically reduced gas deliveries to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Germany has already said it will temporarily fire up mothballed coal and oil power plants in a bid to solve the looming power crisis.

22 thoughts on “California and Germany Could Save Nuclear Reactors”

  1. I read a while back that Germany had built a state of the art Pebble Bed reactor years ago.
    These designs can’t melt down. So there is a lot less regulation and backup systems. Greatly lowering cost.
    They never turned it on.
    Because nuclear is bad…….

  2. Irony:
    Because Germany foolishly moved away from green nuclear energy, Russia was empowered to prosecute a we against Ukraine endangering their nuclear power plants, the stability of Chernobyl, and even adding the (unlikely) threat of nuclear war.
    Russian play chess. I don’t know what Germans play, but looking a few moves ahead as to what is *actually* safer for their citizens and for Europe and the world might be indicated here.
    Nevermind the actual harm they are doing to Germany and the EU with burning even MORE fossil fuel, the imagined nuclear threat they perceive from reactors may precipitate an actual nuclear threat!

    • The sane people are beaten down and apathetic in places like California. If they have the energy to fight the Greens, they spend it moving someplace else, instead.

    • The Inflation Reduction Act includes subsidies for existing nuclear power plants. So there really isn’t any political will needed anywhere. Existing nuclear power plants will stay running provided they don’t need major refurbishment.

  3. Germany is “full send” on nuclear phase-out. When was the last time any Western government acknowledged a policy error with regards to foreign or internal affairs? In this way both the East and West are similar; buckle-up: we’re in the midst of a Great Leap Forward.

    • Sadly I agree. We see that Germany is taking the Ukraine invasion and the impending freezing of Europe in winter as a reason to double down on intermittent wind and solar power.

      The Germans moved from the irrational religion of fascism to the irrational religion of radical environmentalism.

  4. It was stupid from Europe to get dependend on russian gas imports. They financed Putin’s regime and army. Now the economic damages to world economy could be trillions. So much was paid to Russia for gas. With that money so many nuclear reactors could be build. We must not forget that Russians paid eu politicians to get dependent on russsian gas.

  5. “Germany could not just save the three remaining nuclear reactors but turn on three recently mothballed nuclear reactors that were turned off at the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.”

    Aren’t these the plants where they performed controlled implosions of the cooling towers as part of the “mothballing” process, to make restarting them more expensive? Agreed, those cooling towers could be rebuilt, but probably not by the winter cooling season.

    • Duh. Winter heating season, not cooling. What can I say, I live in the South, we almost do have a winter cooling season…

      • Just looked that up and saw they did demo some cooling towers. That is as final as drilling holes in the Shoreham (Long Island, NY) reactor vessel.

        AFAIK, cooling towers are in the neighborhood of $1B and take years to build.

        German government/media will spin their way out of it without nuclear. Mother in Law confirms electric costs are nearly unbearable as a peasant.

          • Germans voted for this, repeatedly, so I’m not particularly sympathetic.

            “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it, good and hard”

  6. Why isn’t imported electricity in the German charts?

    Here in Sweden, our electricity power prices have sky-rocketed due to the export to Germany where we, for some reason, get the same prices as continental Europe. Also Norway and France exports a lot to Germany.

    The power distribution in Europe is highly interconnected and this is used to even out the effects of the big share of intermittent power (wind, solar) generation today.
    If this channel was not censored, I could link to the real time graphics where the power flow of northern Europe is illustrated.

    If one searches for “kontrollrummet”, one will find it…

    • yea, Germany’s green energy campaign(I forgot the name but it starts with an E) just about doubled their own price in energy, all while they had to import “dirty”, neighboring power sources.
      Absolute idiocy. Just do what France does with the nukes

  7. So how long before the exploding installations of solar and wind (see new offshore) projects, along with the gazillion utility-grade storage sites being built, not only cheaply matches Diablo’s output but greatly overtakes it? Wouldn’t the $6B be more economically utilized in even more renewables with storage instead of on a plant you’ll eventually have to use other monies to shut down anyway?

    • Mostly never. CA has 1GWhr of battery storage, equal to what Diablo produces in 30 minutes of production. The 1GWhr of batteries could have put what 50,000 EVs on the road?

      “instead of on a plant you’ll eventually have to use other monies to shut down anyway?”

      Utter nonsense. Nuclear pays for its own cleanup via a per kwhr fee on power nuclear plants produce. The disposal money is already in the bank.

      • More like, already spent, and just a nominal book keeping entry, but, yeah.

        In pointed contrast to all those solar farms and windmills.

    • No.

      Nuclear plants are too expensive to build most places to compete sure. However they are cheap to run as long as they don’t need a refurbishment. Even the refurbishment isn’t that bad (around 25-30% of the original cost every 25-30 years).

      The new Inflation Reduction Act has subsidies for existing nuclear power plants in the USA. So effectively GHG free sources are now all subsidized. Effectively there is now a CO2 price on electricity generation which existing nuclear is being compensated for. They won’t shut them down any more unless they’re REALLY old ones.

      • ‘Refurbishment’ is only a thing with CANDU, because the pressure tubes need to be replaced after 20 EFPyears due to neutron embrittlement. Less than ideal. I’m surprised the tubes last that long anyway…

        • Are you implying turbine islands are immortal? You can’t do a simple thermal annealing on a turbine like on a reactor vessel. That is just one example.

          Refurbishment is a thing in all existing nuclear power plants.

          • ‘Refurbishment’ is a specific term for long, planned outages where CANDU units have their pressure tubes replaced – takes years. A generator rewind or turbine reblading, FW heater replacement, is something that is done in a normal 30-40 day refueling outage after years of planning. I’ve seen units offline in unplanned outages for 25-70 days because reactor coolant pump needed to be rebuilt or the core baffle was coming apart after 30 EFPY or a SG tube leak develops, but no – this is termed ‘maintenance’, and unless the problem was flying under radar which happens sometimes, the work is scoped into refueling outages.

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