The Anonymous Widower

EC To Consider Hydrogen Produced From Nuclear Power As Low-Carbon

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Nuclear Engineering International.

This is the opening paragraph.

The European Commission (EC) will consider hydrogen produced from nuclear power as “low-carbon”, Paula Abreu Marques, head of unit for renewables and CCS policy told the European Commission’s energy directorate. “Electrolysis can be powered by renewable electricity, which would then be classified as renewable hydrogen,” she said.

I think that those advocating this have a point, as no carbon-dioxide will be released once the nuclear plant has been built.

This type of hydrogen is referred to as purple hydrogen in the article.

I wonder how costs will compare with Shell’s new process, that I wrote about in Shell Process To Make Blue Hydrogen Production Affordable.

Conclusion

Nuclear power used to generate hydrogen with electrolysers could be a valuable way to generate hydrogen for transport needs, in a country that because of geography can’t generate a lot of electricity from renewables. A farm of small modular nuclear reactors linked to a large electrolyser could be the most affordable way to satisfy their needs.

It could also be a way for an industrial company to generate large amounts of hydrogen for steelmaking or an integrated chemical plant.

November 26, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Sizewell The Ideal Site For A Fleet Of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors?

As someone who spent forty years in project management, the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor or SMR could be a project manager’s dream.

Suppose you were putting a fleet of SMRs alongside Sizewell B.

This Google Map shows the current Sizewell site.

Sizewell A power station, with Sizewell B to its North, is on the coast.

This second Google Map shows the power stations to an enlarged scale.

Note the white dome in the middle of Sizewell B.

Sizewell A

Sizewell A power station was shut down at the end of 2006 and is still being decommissioned, according to this extract from Wikipedia.

The power station was shut down on 31 December 2006. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is responsible for placing contracts for the decommissioning of Sizewell A, at a budgeted cost of £1.2 billion. Defuelling and removal of most buildings is expected to take until 2034, followed by a care and maintenance phase from 2034 to 2092. Demolition of reactor buildings and final site clearance is planned for 2088 to 2098.

Only a few of those, reading this post, will be around to see the final end of Sizewell A.

Note that the size of the Sizewell A site is 245 acres.

It appears to me, that if any power station will be able to be built on the cleared site of Sizewell A, until the late 2080s or 2090s.

Sizewell B

Sizewell B power station opened in 1995 and was originally planned to close in 2035. The owner; EDF Energy, has applied for a twenty-year extension to 2055.

Sizewell C

Sizewell C power station is currently under discussion.

  • It will be built by the French, with the help of Chinese money.
  • It will have an output of 3260 MW or 3.26 GW.
  • It will cost £18 billion.
  • It will take twelve years to build.

This Google Map shows Sizewell B and the are to the North.

I would assume it will be built in this area.

 

A Fleet Of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

These are my thoughts on building a fleet of SMRs at Sizewell instead of the proposed Sizewell C.

Land Use

In Rolls-Royce signs MoU With Exelon For Compact Nuclear Power Stations, I gave these details of the Rolls-Royce design of SMR.

  • A Rolls-Royce SMR has an output of 440 MW.
  • The target cost is £1.8 billion for the fifth unit built
  • Each SMR will occupy 10 acres.
  • Eight SMRs would need to be built to match the output of Hinckley Point C, which will occupy 430 acres.

It looks on a simple calculation, that even if the SMRs needed fifteen acres, the amount of land needed would be a lot less.

Connection To The National Grid

The transmission line to the National Grid is already in place.

This Google Map shows the sub-station, which is to the South-West of Sizewell A.

From Sizewell, there is a massive twin overhead line to Ipswich.

This Google Map shows the overhead line as it crosses Junction 53 of the A14 to the West of Ipswich.

The pylons are in the centre of the map, with the wires going across.

The line has been built for a massive amount of nuclear power at Sizewell.

The Sizewell Railhead

This Google Map shows the railhead at Sizewell.

It can also be picked out in the South West corner of the first map.

  • The railhead is used to take out spent fuel for processing.
  • In the past, it brought in construction materials.
  • Wikipedia suggests if the Sizewell C is built, the might be a new railhead closer to the site.
  • If a fleet of SMRs were to be built, as the modules are transportable by truck, surely they could be move in by rail to avoid the roads in the area.
  • I am an advocate of reinstating the railway from Saxmundham to Aldeburgh, as this would be a way of doubling the frequency on the Southern section of the East Suffolk Line between Saxmundham and Ipswich stations.

I hope that whatever is built at Sizewell, that the rail lines in the area is developed to ease construction, get workers to the site and improve rail services on the East Suffolk Line.

Building A Fleet Of SMRs

One of the disadvantages of a large nuclear power station, is that you can’t get any power from the system until it is complete.

This of course applies to each of the individual units, but because they are smaller and created from a series of modules built in a factory, construction of each member of the fleet should be much quicker.

  • Rolls-Royce are aiming for a construction time of 500 days, from the fifth unit off the production line.
  • That would mean, that from Day 501, it could be producing power and earning money to pay for its siblings.
  • If the eight units were built in series, that would take eleven years to build a fleet of eight.

But as anybody, who has built anything even as humble as a garden shed knows, you build anything in a series of tasks, starting with the foundations.

I suspect that if a fleet were being built, that construction and assembly would overlap, so the total construction time could be reduced.

That’s one of the reasons, I said that building a fleet could be a project manager’s dream.

I suspect that if the project management was top-class, then a build time for a fleet of eight reactors could be nine years or less.

Resources are often a big problem in large projects.

But in a phased program, with the eight units assembled in turn over a number of years, I think things could be a lot easier.

Financing A Fleet Of SMRs

I think that this could be a big advantage of a fleet of SMRs over a large conventional large nuclear power station.

Consider

  • I said earlier, that as each unit was completed, it could be producing power and earning money to pay for its siblings.
  • Hinckley Point C is budgeted to cost £18 billion.
  • Eight Rolls-Royce SMRs could cost only £14.4 billion.

I very much feel that, as you would get a cash-flow from Day 500 and the fleet costs less, that the fleet of smaller stations is easier to finance.

Safety

SMRs will be built to the same safety standards as all the other UK reactors.

In this section on Wikipedia this is said about the Rolls-Royce SMR.

Rolls-Royce is preparing a close-coupled three-loop PWR design, sometimes called the UK SMR.

PWRs or pressurised water reactors are the most common nuclear reactors in the world and their regulation and safety is well-understood.

This is from the History section of their Wikipedia entry.

Several hundred PWRs are used for marine propulsion in aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and ice breakers. In the US, they were originally designed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for use as a nuclear submarine power plant with a fully operational submarine power plant located at the Idaho National Laboratory. Follow-on work was conducted by Westinghouse Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory.

Rolls-Royce have a long history of building PWRs, and Rolls-Royce PWRs have been installed in all the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines except the first. The Royal Navy’s second nuclear submarine; HMS Valiant, which entered service in 1966, was the first to be powered by a Rolls-Royce PWR.

How much of the design and experience of the nuclear submarine powerplant is carried over into the design of the Rolls-Royce SMR?

I don’t know much about the safety of nuclear power plants, but I would expect that if there was a very serious accident in a small reactor, it would be less serious than a similar accident in a large one.

Also, as the reactors in a fleet would probably be independent of each other, it is unlikely that a fault in one reactor should affect its siblings.

Local Reaction

I lived in the area, when Sizewell B was built and I also went over Sizewell A, whilst it was working.

From personal experience, I believe that many in Suffolk would welcome a fleet of SMRs.

  • Sizewell B brought a lot of employment to the area.
  • House prices rose!
  • Both Sizewell A and B have been well-run incident-free plants

Like me, some would doubt the wisdom of having a Chinese-funded Sizewell C.

Conclusion

Big nuclear has been out-performed by Rolls-Royce

November 19, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will INEOS And Rolls-Royce Get Together Over Hydrogen Production?

It has been a busy week for press releases.

8th November 2020 – Rolls-Royce signs MoU With Exelon For Compact Nuclear Power Stations

9th November 2020 – Rolls-Royce signs MoU with CEZ For Compact Nuclear Power Stations

9th November 2020 – INEOS Launches A New Clean Hydrogen Business To Accelerate The Drive To Net Zero Carbon Emissions

Does the timing of these three press releases indicate that there is possible co-operation between the INEOS and Rolls-Royce?

These are my thoughts.

Electricity Needs Of Integrated Chemical Plants

Integrated chemical plants, like those run by INEOS need a lot of electricity.

When I worked for ICI Plastics in the early 1970s, one of the big projects at Wilton works was the updating of the Wilton power station.

  • Fifty years later it is still producing electricity.
  • It is fired by a variety of fuels including coal, oil, gas and biomass.
  • It even burned 110,000 tonnes of cow fat (tallow) from the carcasses of animals slaughtered during the BSE Crisis of 1996.
  • It produces 227 MW of electricity.
  • It also produces around 4,000,000 tonnes of steam per year for the plants on the complex.
  • Wilton 10 is a 2007 addition to the station, that burns 300,000 tonnes of a combination of sustainable wood, sawmill waste and otherwise unusable wood offcuts a year.
  • Wilton 11 is a 2016 addition to the station, that burns domestic waste, which arrives by train from Merseyside.

ICI was proud of its power station at Wilton and there were regular rumours about the strange, but legal fuels, that ended up in the boilers.

Integrated chemical plants like those on Teesside can be voracious consumers of electricity and steam.

I can envisage companies like INEOS boosting their electricity and steam capacity, by purchasing one of Rolls-Royce’s small modular reactors.

A Look At Teesside

If you look at the maps of the mouth of the Tees, you have the Hartlepool nuclear power station on the North side of the river.

  • It was commissioned in 1983.
  • It can generate 320 MW of electricity.
  • It is expected to close in 2024.

This Google Map shows the mouth of the Tees.

Note.

  • Hartlepool power station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  • The Hartlepool site is probably about forty acres.
  • Wilton power station is on the South side of the Tees in the Wilton International site.

I can see, when Hartlepool power station closes, that more power will be needed on Teesside to feed the various industries in the area.

Some will come from offshore wind, but could a fleet of perhaps four of Rolls-Royce’s small modular reactors be built on a decommissioned Hartlepool power station site to replace the output of the current station?

If built in a planned sequence to correspond to the expected need, there are savings to be made because each unit can be commissioned, when they are completed and used to generate cash flow.

I can even see INEOS building a large electrolyser in the area, that is powered either by wind or nuclear power, according to what power is available and the various costs.

An Integrated Small Modular Nuclear Reactor And Electrolyser

Some countries don’t have good resources to exploit for renewable power.

Will a small modular nuclear reactor, be pared with a large electrolyser to produce hydrogen for feedstock for chemical plants and fuel for transport?

How Much Hydrogen Would A Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Produce?

Consider.

  • One of Rolls-Royce’s small modular nuclear reactors has a power output of 440 MW.
  • It takes 23 MWh of electricity to create ten tonnes of hydrogen.

This would create 4,600 tonnes of hydrogen in a day.

That is a lot of zero-carbon chemical feedstock to make fertiliser, plastics, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals and fuel for heavy transport.

Conclusion

I will be very surprised if INEOS were not talking to Rolls-Royce about using small modular nuclear reactors to generate the enormous quantities of electrical power and steam, needed to produce chemicals and fulfil their ambition to be a world leader in the supply of hydrogen.

November 13, 2020 Posted by | Business, Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rolls-Royce signs MoU With Exelon For Compact Nuclear Power Stations

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on the Rolls-Royce web site.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Rolls-Royce and Exelon Generation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pursue the potential for Exelon Generation to operate compact nuclear power stations both in the UK and internationally. Exelon Generation will be using their operational experience to assist Rolls Royce in the development and deployment of the UKSMR.

Rolls-Royce is leading a consortium that is designing a low-cost factory built nuclear power station, known as a small modular reactor (SMR). Its standardised, factory-made components and advanced manufacturing processes push costs down, while the rapid assembly of the modules and components inside a weatherproof canopy on the power station site itself avoid costly schedule disruptions.

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry of Exelon.

Exelon Corporation is an American Fortune 100 energy company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and incorporated in Pennsylvania. It generates revenues of approximately $33.5 billion and employs approximately 33,400 people. Exelon is the largest electric parent company in the United States by revenue, the largest regulated electric utility in the United States with approximately 10 million customers, and also the largest operator of nuclear power plants in the United States and the largest non-governmental operator of nuclear power plants in the world.

These two paragraphs from the press release flesh out more details.

The consortium is working with its partners and UK Government to secure a commitment for a fleet of factory built nuclear power stations, each providing 440MW of electricity, to be operational within a decade, helping the UK meet its net zero obligations. A fleet deployment in the UK will lead to the creation of new factories that will make the components and modules which will help the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and pave the way for significant export opportunities as well.

The consortium members feature the best of nuclear engineering, construction and infrastructure expertise in Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Rolls-Royce and TWI. Exelon will add valuable operational experience to the team.

This is not what you call a small deal.

This is the last section of the press release.

By 2050 a full UK programme of a fleet of factory built nuclear power stations in the UK could create:

  • Up to 40,000 jobs
  • £52BN of value to the UK economy
  • £250BN of exports

The current phase of the programme has been jointly funded by all consortium members and UK Research and Innovation.

But that is not all, as there is also a second press release, which is entitled Rolls-Royce Signs MoU With CEZ For Compact Nuclear Power Stations.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Rolls-Royce and CEZ have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the potential for compact nuclear power stations, known as small modular reactors (SMR), to be built in the Czech Republic.

Rolls-Royce is leading the UK SMR Consortium that is designing this type of low-cost nuclear power station. Its standardised, factory-made components and advanced manufacturing processes push down costs; and the rapid assembly of the modules inside a weatherproof canopy at the power station site itself speeds up schedules.

These are my thoughts.

What Is A Small Modular Reactor or SMR?

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for Small Nuclear Reactor.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a type of nuclear fission reactor which are smaller than conventional reactors. This allows them to be manufactured at a plant and brought to a site to be assembled. Modular reactors allow for less on-site construction, increased containment efficiency, and enhanced safety due to passive nuclear safety features. SMRs have been proposed as a way to bypass financial and safety barriers that have plagued conventional nuclear reactors.

This section on Wikipedia gives more details of the Rolls-Royce SMR.

Rolls-Royce is preparing a close-coupled three-loop PWR design, sometimes called the UK SMR.] The power output is planned to be 440 MWe, which is above the usual range considered to be a SMR. The design targets a 500 day construction time, on a 10 acres (4 ha) site. The target cost is £1.8 billion for the fifth unit built.

The consortium developing the design is seeking UK government finance to support further development. In 2017 the UK government provided funding of up to £56 million over three years to support SMR research and development. In 2019 the government committed a further £18 million to the development from its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The construction time, site size and cost make for one of the big advantages of SMRs.

Say you need to create a 3260 MW nuclear power station like Hinckley Point C.

  • This would need a fleet of eight 440 MW SMRs.
  • These would cost £14.4 billion
  • Wikipedia lists Hinkley Point C as costing between £21.5 billion and £ 22.5 billion.
  • I suspect there will be an adjustment for the connection to the National Grid, which is probably included in the Hinckley Point C figures.
  • Eight SMRs will occupy 80 acres.
  • Hinckley Point C will occupy 430 acres.
  • Hinckley Point C was planned to be built in seven years.
  • Eight SMRs built one after the other would take 11 years. But, they would probably be planned to be built in an optimal way, where reactors came on-line, when their power was needed.

The biggest advantage though, is that as each of the eight SMRs is commissioned, they can start supplying power to the grid and earning money. This means that financing is much easier and the first reactor helps to pay for its siblings.

Could An SMR Replace A Fossil Fuel Power Station?

Suppose you have a coal-fired power station of perhaps 800 MW.

The power station will have a connection to the grid, which will be able to handle 800 MW.

If the power station is closed, there is no reason, why it can’t be replaced by an appropriately-sized fleet of SMRs, provided the site is suitable.

Who Are TWI?

I would assume that TWI is The Welding Institute, who are described like this in their Wikipedia entry.

The Welding Institute (TWI) is a research and technology organisation, with a specialty in welding. With headquarters six miles south of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, since 1946, and with facilities across the UK and around the world. TWI works across all industry sectors and in all aspects of manufacturing, fabrication and whole-life integrity management technologies.

It strikes me, this organisation could be a very important part of the consortium.

 

November 10, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , , | 3 Comments

Sizewell C: Nuclear Power Station Plans For Suffolk Submitted

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on the BBC.

A few points from the article.

  • It will provide enough electricity for six million homes.
  • It will create 25,000 jobs during construction.
  • Sizewell C will be a near replica to Hinckley Point C.
  • It will generate 3.2 GW of electricity.
  • It will be low-carbon electricity.

As a well-read and experienced engineer, I am not against the technologies of nuclear power.

But I do think, by the time it is completed , other technologies like wind and energy storage will be much better value. They will also be more flexible and easier to expand, should we get our energy forecasts wrong.

  • We will see higher power and more efficient wind farms, further out in the North Sea.
  • Massive energy storage systems, based on improved pumped storage technology and using new technology from companies like Highview Power, Zinc8 and others will be built.
  • Wind and solar power an energy storage are much easier to fund and financial institutions like L & G, Aberdeen Standard and Aviva have invested in the past for our future pensions.
  • If you want to go nuclear, small modular reactors, look to be much better value in the longer term.
  • I also don’t like the involvement of the Chinese in the project. History tells me, that all pandemics seem to start in the country!

It is my view that the biggest mistake we made in this country over energy was not to built the Severn Barrage.

My preferred design would be based on the ideas of Sir Frederick Snow.

There would have been a high and a low lake, either side of a central spine, behind an outer barrage.

  • Reversible turbines and pumps between the lakes would both generate and store electricity.
  • When proposed in the 1970s, it would have generated ten percent of the UK’s electricity.
  • A new road and rail crossing of the Severn, could have been built into the outer barrage.
  • A lock would have provided access for shipping.
  • It would have controlled the periodic, regular and often devastating flooding of the River Severn.

Some versions of the original design, even incorporated an international airport.

  • The runways would be in the right direction for the prevailing wind, with regard to take-off and landing.
  • Take-off would be over open sea.
  • High speed trains could speed travellers to and from London on an updated Great Western Railway.

I believe a modern design could be even better.

  • The central spine and the outer barrage would be the foundations for a large wind farm.
  • There would also be a large number of powerful floating wind turbines to the West of the outer barrage in the Severn Estuary.
  • A giant electrolyser on the central spine would produce hydrogen, that could be used to decarbonise the UK’s gas network.
  • A power interconnector could be built into the outer barrage to connect Wales to the nuclear power stations at Hinckley :Point.
  • A cluster of small nuclear reactors could be built on the central spine.
  • In the intervening fifty years, we have probably learned how to build a barrage like this, so that it can benefit birds and other wildlife.

I believe, it will never be too late to build a Severn Barrage.

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments