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back to article Fancy a nuclear power station in your backyard?

Brighton, Bristol, and picturesque Oxfordshire have topped the list of places most suitable to have new nuclear power stations bestowed upon them, replacing existing coal or gas fired power stations. Potential and existing nuclear power station sites The report was submitted to the government last year. According to The …

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Not in My BN1

Hilarious. We've been trying to build a stadium in Brighton for ten years and a waste incinerator for seven with no success past the blueprints. I can't wait to see the truly legendary outpouring of NIMBYism that will ensue when they tell everyone they're sticking a four stack, twin-turbine, uranium-235 powered fission reactor on Shoreham beach.

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Cooling towers

Why is a large, energy-wasting radiator a good thing in power generation? Surely that heat can be made to do useful work?

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NIMBYism?

So Scotland & Wales are not options for nuclear power post devolution? - fine

BUT I do hope that this means we can cut them off from the National Grid and they can pollute their own air with coal fired power stations to make their own electricity (because despite all their spin about green policies can't see the local NIMBYs allowing enough wind farms can you?)

works for me . . .

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No juice for Scotland, then

Does the England's subsidy of Scotland run to power as well now? Is it not bad enough that the anti-smoking bill for England would have failed without Scottish MPs sticking their oar in?

Ye gods.

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Not in my BN2

Indeed. Only today on the front of the Argus is a (sensationalist) story about the proposed incinerator which leads with the frankly absurd 'finding' that waste incinerators could reduce the lifespan of nearby residents (those in the quote "fallout zone") by up to twelve years.

I too will await with anticipation with this story...

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Nuts

I did get slightly excited at the idea of a four stack, twin-turbine, uranium-235 powered fission reactor. Perhaps more Top Gear and less Greenpeace style could help swing it, how many horsepower do these things get anyway.

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none for scotland!!!

Do you reckon the govt is trying to not annoy us independent minded scots anymore than we already are?

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Brilliant!

About time the southern NIMBYs realised that there actually is some amenity value in the grim north. Bring it on.

Matt

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Ill have 2 please!

put both of them in essex... round the clacton area... warm water pumped 24 hours a day into the sea creating a near tropical feel to the water!

that along with the hit to the housing market may mean that im a double winner!

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Why we have cooling towers

You can read thia article on Wikipedia to learn why we need cooling towers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_engine

Basically you can only get electricity out of a pwoer station by having two different temperatures and the greater the difference the more efficient your power generation will be. You have some sort of heat source, be it coal, gas or nuclear and you need a "cool source" as well which is provided by water circulated through the cooling towers.

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As the government is so keen on the idea

To demonstrate how safe and reliable these next generation nuclear power plants are, the first one should be located in central London.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cooling towers

"Why is a large, energy-wasting radiator a good thing in power generation? Surely that heat can be made to do useful work?"

Okay this is from Wikipedia, but this is what they say on cooling towers:

"Like all thermal power stations (including coal, oil, and some natural gas plants), nuclear reactors require cooling, typically with water. A Rankine Cycle is used to turn the heat into mechanical power, but only roughly a third of the heat energy can be converted. The excess heat must be rejected by cooling the cooling water. Cooling towers are the most common means of exhausting the waste heat."

I'm not sure why only a third of the heat energy can be converted.

What annoys me though about cooling towers is the way the media continually show them as an example of polluting chimneys in relation to global warming when in fact all they output is water vapor. I'm sure the towers get a bad rep in NIMBYism terms because many locals also think the same.

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Bronze badge

I think I see the problem

I can see why people would object- judging by that map the average nuclear power station is approximately three times the size of the isle of wight.

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English independence

Since Scotland is a net exporter of electricity (to Engerland and Northern Ireland, 2% of Scottish exports) I think you'd be worried about cutting us off from the National Grid. After all, how would you power your pomposity generators?

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re: "No juice for Scotland, then" and "NIMBYism?"

You can cut Scotland off the national grid for all I care - you do know Scotland is a nett exporter of electricity, do you? Scotland generates a surplus of 20% which it sells to N. Ireland and England - so when ever you want to cut us off from the grid is fine by me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: no juice for scotland

Scotland is a net exporter of power at the moment due to the 2.5GW odd produced by Hunterston B and Torness.

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horsepower...

...loads. But try parking the thing in Hove...

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No reactors up north

I believe that most of the North-South electricity lines are running at close to maximum capacity taking electricity South, so I am assuming that if Scotland were to pick up more nuclear powerstations that more pylons would be required to bring the power south. I can see that being popular .....

As for the cooling towers - it is rather important to keep a nuclear reactor cooled, so I assume that there would have to be sufficient towers to keep the reactor cool even if some were out of action, or some way had been found to use the waste heat elsewhere.

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I mean really..

England Subsiding Scotland.. haha.. ok we'll take our oil revenue and blue chip companies, oh and our hydro electric and you can keep everything else.

Think we'll do fine. Just don't go having a disaster with one of your new nuclear power stations. It has been said that due to the nature of the hydro electric (ie can be called apon at peak times) it has saved this country ie the UK a few times from peak blackouts. new Nuclear will not happen up there as the Scotland's MP's/MSP's/First Minister will not allow it. There has been all the problems with Dounreay, so public support is at an all time low. Also if we want to talk about the environment, Westminster is so stupid as BP were offering to build a CO reclaim station (in Scotland may i add) but because of the ummming and ahhhing in London they have just pulled out.. yet our first minister had been saying keep ministerial delays to a minimum or BP will pull out! No one listened! So.. although it's a great loss to Scotland, england/uk and it's ministers have shot themselves in the foot, as how are you going to meet "green" targets now!

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Cut them off entirely!!! Har de har!

Cut them off from our surplus electricity produced up here in what is clearly God's country. But wait! Don't stop there!!! Oh no, sever the water we supply them because all their pipes leak. Re-route the oil, re-build Hadrians Wall and use the surplus electricity to electrify it.

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Cooling towers...?

I take it we're going to build more of those outmoded, dangerous, polluting, water cooled reactors then?

What's wrong with the much nicer pebble bed reactors?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor

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Cooling Towers

I understand that all the heat energy from the water can't be used and that the water needs to be cooled. But why just let all that heat lose into the atmosphere? Why can't it be piped around to heat houses, hospitals, offices, etc.? They manage this in other countries.

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Water reactors

The reason we're not going to go for pebble-bed reactors is that we need the power ASAP. We can't afford to dick around building a prototype pebble reactor before construcitng a fleet of them - there are NO working full-scale pebble reactors in the World. The closest, the German plant at Julich was closed as long ago as 1988.

Instead, we'll be buying into an established design such as the PWR of which the UK already has design, construction and operation experience. The PWR also has a proven track record in terms of performance and safety. All of which means its easier to work out the final costs than for the largely experimental pebble bed reactor.

It also means we can then choose to adopt one of the next generation water reactors such as the EPR (the first of which is now under construction in Finland) or the Westinghouse AP1000 design. Very foolishly, the British government allowed Westinghouse to be sold off to the very nice people at Toshiba, so we won't see any benefits from their hard work. But yes, we should also look at alternatives, of which the pebble reactor is one, but there are others - the gas-cooled fast reactor (designed in Britain) or perhaps the Swedish inherently-safe PIUS reactor.

The pebble reactor also has problems; the fuel is encased in pyrolitic carbon which not only hugely increases the volume of the spent fuel, but also poses a potential fire risk in the event of a loss of coolant; the higher temperatures of the pebble reactor make the fire risk far higher than that of the older Magnox and Advanced Gas Reactors which we used to build.

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Just a couple of points...

1. No reactors up north - Using the heat elsewhere - means building the reactor close to Housing estate or Hospital - not very popular

2. Pebble_bed_reactor - Because these have the turbines in the radioactive "Hot" zone - IE the coolant gas acts directly on the turbine, it would make servicing the turbines next to impossible without a risk of contamination

I think Nuclear is probably going to be the way forward, for now, considering it takes 1000+ wind turbines to produce the same energy, and then only if the wind blows....

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Waste heat

Chris asked about using waste heat from power stations.

The Soviet Union used waste heat from the condensors of nuclear reactors for 'district heating'; it's also been used by the North Koreans at Yongbyon and on a much smaller scale at a research reactor in Sweden. The real problem is that it requires the plant to be sited very close to population centres; something that UK and US regulations normally forbid.

District heating from conventional power stations is extremely common in former Soviet countries and in Scandinavia as it makes economic sense to use the heat that would otherwise be dumped into the atmosphere. AFAIK, Britain never adopted it widely, though I seem to recall some parts of Battersea were once heated from Battersea power station.

HTH.

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picturesque Oxfordshire?

around Didcot? I don't think so.

Perfect place in many regards - infrastructure (railway - grid position) - cooling (Thames) - culture (JET, Harwell, Culham).

Can't quite see the existing power station from my house, but it's close.

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What horsepower? A lot!

If they operate at 2.5GW as someone posted, then that works out at......

3399000 BHP !

(1.3596 BHP = 1 KW)

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Title

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Why can't (the waste heat) be piped around to heat houses, hospitals, offices, etc.?

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Because the nuclear power station would need to be adjacent to those houses, hospitals etc.

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oil..

Not sure if the DFR technology is the same but personally if as many hot particles come out of the new reactors they wish to build as did out of Dounreay i would not want them circulating around schools hospitals etc although it might help kill off MRSA :P

Andrew Crystall: If Scotland does go fully independent you'd see that all taxes from oil arriving in Scotland would go to the Scottish purse not the English/UK. I personally do not want to see Scotland independent but I'd like to see Scotland get a fairer share of the taxes, especially the new unjustified tax that is causing problems offshore. I doubt that the SNP would go for a compromise like the Welsh did.

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Jim

"Cut them off..."

Hmm, given that all the major hydro schemes are in Scotland and Wales and that hydro power is critical to the operational stability of the electricity grid it would seem a little dumb to isolate England from these important resources. Nuclear is the least responsive generating technology, which is why it is generally used as base-load generation.

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<Eh?

"that oil isn't Scotlands. It's the UK's. If you want to leave, all well and good. But not with the oil"

Aye right! an independent nation but the queen of england would own the water surrounding it. don't think so, old chap!

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Jim

Nuclear is more efficient than..?

In response to Crystal:

Coal is 40-45%, gas (ccgt) is 50-60+%, nuclear is scraping 40%. Which commercial generating technologies are worse than nuclear? Also, what about fuel utilisation? Fossil fuels get almost 100%. A PWR gets around 5% fuel utilisation, 6% if the fuel undergoes PUREX reprocessing in to MOX fuel.

In response to Mountain:

"2. Pebble_bed_reactor - Because these have the turbines in the radioactive 'Hot' zone". Maybe you should check out the rather popular BWR design, the design chosen by the Finns for their next commercial nuclear build.

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@Mike Taylor

He ha!

I was gonna say that...

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STNP

Well, the STNP (South Texas Nuclear Project) is looking at another reactor. Because it's an add on, they may be one of the first in the US. Austin gets a fraction of their power from the West Texas Wind Project and more from STNP. But most of our power comes from coal and gas. Austin being a very liberal city, the city council wants to "go green" and reduce our carbon footprint. Heck, the fire marshal drives an Insight and the city is funding research into plug-in hybrids.

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LoL @ Harwell response

I notice a theme here.... Harwell's locals are used to having power stations and tech on the door step. Doubt there will be many NIMBYs there.

Having grown up two miles from Harwell when it still had it's old, leaky Nuclear Power Station, never caused us any problems. (The news article forgets to mention that the UK's first nuclear power was generated at Harwell. Though that station was decommisioned many years back now)

It will be a little odd having _both_ Harwell (nuclear) and Didcot (gas/coal) power stations so close togther.

BTW - for the guy who thinks it is "just steam" coming out of those towers. Go talk to the staff who work there.... and you will find out about how they restart the generators with cheap old oil which tends to spit out all kinds of mucky rubbish. (Though they carefully do this at dusk so you don't see it coming from the towers... unless you had forgotten to take your washing in) (Well - that was the case early 90's. Maybe they got cleaner....)

As to a power station in Brighton - which is my current home. That is _so_ comical. As pointed out above, this town is jammed full of annoying NIMBY's who try to stop every tiny little change. TEN YEARS our local football team has been without a stadium. Meanwhile Wembley, The Emirates, Man City, Reading, Coventry, Hull, (too many others to count), etc, etc have all built new stadiums.

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Scotland

That 20% exported by scotland is set to grow I suspect. There are plans for some huge wind installations. The western isles project in its most abitious form is likely to exceed 2GW. Huge local objections to it tho (or rather to the cheapskate method they will use to connect it to the grid - overland cables). The original plan was to run a subsea interconnect right down to liverpool where the existing grid is beefy enough to accept the juice. Scotland should flog it to england for top dollar, using the profits to fund an 'environmentally friendly' interconnect.

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IMBY

Why not build a power station with 100 reactors or something like that, all in one place. Plus, you could setup a dirty great mobile and wifi transmitter, set up bird farms on the outskirts and a national incinerator of rubbish. You'd need it somewhere central, but in a place that people wouldn't mind being demolished. Also somewhere thats very grey and dirty already. I'd like to nominate Birmingham (my home town).

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Harwell

I doubt that they will build on the actual Harwell site, since:

1. the site is quite a long way from the main railway line (to get fuel to Sellafield) and the Thames (for cooling water).

2. they're already building a business park on it

However, Didcot A, a coal-fired plant to the north, is due to be shut down in a few years and is close to both the railway and the thames, so a new nuclear plant could be built on it.

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I'll have one, please

I'm not in the UK, but I'd much rather have a nuclear plant in my back yard than a fossil-fueled pollution machine. Yes, in the few cases where there have been accidents, they have been rather sensational;nonetheless, nuclear plants have a far better safety record than fossil plants, they're quieter, they actually emit *less* radiation than a fossil plant, they're cleaner in every way, and they won't be shut down by a sudden interruption in the flow of oil from client states such as Iraq.

It's the luddites who fear *anything* new that have kept us from getting rid of the old fossil plants altogether - and who are somewhat responsible for the war in whcih the US and UK now find themselves embroiled.

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Anonymous Coward

Oil..it's all ours...

Interestingly, the Scots think that they'll get to keep the oil. They won't. But before they all scream, England won't get it either. A country only has claim to oil up to 12 miles from its coastline, and by far the majority of oil is way further out into the North Sea than that.

It was only some adept negotiating by Edward Heath (probably one of the very few good things he did) that managed to secure the rights of oil exploration and exploitation further than national boundaries would normally allow. But those rights relate to the UK. Not to England, not to Scotland.

So, with the, albeit, diminishing, volume of oil left in the N Sea the treaty for the UK would have to be scrapped leaving it open for Scotland to claim it...and England...and Holland, Germany, Austria et al.

So nuclear power down south, in the densely populated areas. Makes sense in terms of delivery, but hardly an attractive prospect in terms of safety. But then, burning large quantities of fossil fuels isn't exactly without health issues either.

And if we all want power, then we have to get it from somewhere.

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Anonymous Coward

Built them at sea

Just like wind farms : Build floating reactors.

Not rising sea level problems.

Guaranteed supply of coolant even during forthcoming severe droughts.

No NIMBY (you can actually move them to somebody else's backyard, including the international waters, aka nobdody's backyard).

Just need to make them hurricane-resistant and to attach them to the grid somehow.

Simple.

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oil again

I thought that the rights were based to were it ended up being pumped to.. ie st fergus etc..so UK (currently) and it's hardly diminishing it's just becoming to more difficult to remove at old prices now it has spiked in price they are willing to try new harder to get fields and try new methods to remove the stuff thats left. remember seeing that there is still an amount left in there that would allow us to extract another periods worth similar to the 70's - 2007. I think we'll see alot of these pioneering small companies that have the technology to remove the remaining oil like there is in Aberdeen being bought over in the next few years. BP have shown they have already started to as their advert shows oil extraction similar to a bendy straw which was developed by a small company (think in holland) which they then bought out.

As for this nuclear debate.. I though one of the power stations in Scotland was (before this white paper) to be upgraded/extended.. why the total pull out.. can't be just because of the SNP..

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about the scottish border issue

I totally forgot.. Thoose who say it's the UK waters should read up about the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1999/99112601.gif

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_waters

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It's_Scotland's_oil

Basically pink and black lines above england then.

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Solar, not nuclear

Regarding Lucy Sherriff's report "Fancy a nuclear power station in your backyard?" (2007-05-24), there is absolutely no need for nuclear power in the UK (or anywhere else in Europe) because there is a simple mature technology that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.

I refer to 'concentrating solar power' (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and currently provides power for about 100,000 Californian homes. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.

CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, there are not many of these in Europe! But it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity over very long distances using highly-efficient 'HVDC' transmission lines. With transmission losses at about 3% per 1000 km, solar electricity may, for example, be transmitted from North Africa to London with only about 10% loss of power. A large-scale HVDC transmission grid has also been proposed by the wind energy company Airtricity as a means of optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.

The potential is absolutely massive. It has been calculated that, if it was covered with CSP plants, an area of hot desert measuring about 110 km x 110 km would produce as much electricity as the EU consumes. A recent report from the American Solar Energy Society says that CSP plants in the south western states of the US "could provide nearly 7,000 GW of capacity, or ***about seven times the current total US electric capacity***" (emphasis added).

In the recent 'TRANS-CSP' report commissioned by the German government, it is estimated that CSP electricity, imported from North Africa and the Middle East, could become one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Europe, including the cost of transmission. That report shows in great detail how Europe can meet all its needs for electricity, make deep cuts in CO2 emissions, and phase out nuclear power at the same time.

Further information about CSP may be found at www.trec-uk.org.uk and www.trecers.net . Copies of the TRANS-CSP report may be downloaded from www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports.htm . The many problems associated with nuclear power are summarised at www.mng.org.uk/green_house/no_nukes.htm .

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Sizewell?

That's the one that's going to fall off the cliff into the sea in x years, isn't it? Great forward planning, that.

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