Yesterday the print edition of the WSJ had a very interesting article about decommissioning nuclear power plants. Here is a link to the electronic version of the article:
Monica Houston-Waesch (2017, June 11). First Rule of Dismantling a Nuclear Power Plant: Check the Exits. The Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/first-rule-of-dismantling-a-nuclear-power-plant-check-the-exits-1497206437It is definitely worth reading. Here are some key points:
Approximately half of the world's 450 (roughly) nuclear power plants are nearing the end of their anticipated lifespan.
The engineers who built the plants did not plan for decommissioning.
The decommissioning costs for a single nuclear plant can cost $1.5 billion and the anticipated clean-up of 90 plants in Europe is expected to cost over $100 billion.
The metal and other building materials of nuclear reactors can be very radioactive, requiring very specialized technology to avoid contaminating workers and the site.
The engineering challenges facing efforts to decommission nuclear reactors are illustrated in the article using the example of a German plant where the reactor was built first, with the encasing reactor building constructed afterwards, around the reactor.
The problem with this design is there is no way to remove a highly radioactive reactor lid through the building's doorways.
The article demonstrates conclusively that nuclear is THE MOST EXPENSIVE ENERGY FORM pursued by humanity. This sentiment is not mine alone but has been expressed by General Electric's former CEO as well:
Financial Times Monday July 20, 2012, p. A1 by Piita Clark
"Nuclear power is so expensive compared with other forms of energy that it has become 'really hard' to justify, according to the chief executive of General Electric, one of the world's largest suppliers of atomic equipment.
'It's really a gas and wind world today,' said Jeff Immelt....'When I talk tot he guys who run the oil companies they say look, they're finding more gas all the time. It's just hard to justify nuclear, really hard. Gas is so cheap and at some point, really economics rule,' Mr. Immelt told the Financial Times in an interview in London....