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A few good articles here, and here.

fig-2-uk-energy-production-by-source.png?w=630&h=354

Indigenous energy supply, with the black line being consumption... not looking good with such a large deficit is it?

uk_oil_production+value.png

Depletion rates for UK North Sea steady, even with new technologies and investments.

So if the UK economy is to grow, and there have been (and likely still is) strong correlations between economic growth and energy consumption, this begs the question what energy sources will fuel the economic growth?

This may serve as an illustration that we apparently are at a crossroads about what “cheap” fuel to use for future economic activities.

The prospects for continued decline in the UK’s indigenous energy production, high energy (oil/natural gas) prices and high trade deficits are not sustainable and will reinforce the drive for a reduction of total costs for the UK energy imports.

This may also illustrate that we increasingly face schizophrenic decisions about how to price our natural environment.

How this develops has wide attention.

And this;

With the onset of decline post 2000 the UK oil and gas surplus has been eaten away and since 2005 energy imports have once again become the norm and the UK trade balance in energy is spiralling into the red (Figure 6). An energy surplus of £9 billion in 2000 has turned into a deficit of £21 billion in 2012. Where UK energy security once lay at our door step in The North Sea we are now increasingly dependent upon energy imports from Norway, Russia, Africa and The Middle East.

...

Globally, high energy prices have been caused by the passing of a peak in cheap conventional oil production in 2005-2008. New energy resources coming on stream such as shale oil and gas are very expensive to develop and produce. They are not cheap. The high cost of recovering the remainder of North Sea oil reserves is amply demonstrated by Figure 4. While energy prices are clearly a burden on society, high price is far better than energy scarcity or no energy at all. The UK government, misguided by over zealous attachment to market dogma and by Green advocacy has neglected the interests of the UK population by allowing, indeed encouraging, the demise of indigenous primary energy production. Whilst some renewable energy most certainly has a place in the energy mix, an energy policy based on the 2008 Climate Change act with a focus on CO2 reduction strategies completely misses the big picture of providing affordable and secure energy for all and protecting the best interests of the UK economy.

Distractions like house prices, the various doctored measures of inflation, etc... do nothing to better educate folk on the very real issue of the UK's future and the lack of cheap energy to fuel it.

Discuss.

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A few good articles here, and here.

fig-2-uk-energy-production-by-source.png?w=630&h=354

Indigenous energy supply, with the black line being consumption... not looking good with such a large deficit is it?

uk_oil_production+value.png

Depletion rates for UK North Sea steady, even with new technologies and investments.

And this;

Distractions like house prices, the various doctored measures of inflation, etc... do nothing to better educate folk on the very real issue of the UK's future and the lack of cheap energy to fuel it.

Discuss.

Germany does all right. How much oil does it have ?

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Germany does all right. How much oil does it have ?

They don't do so well, just ask the average German.

Germany Government Debt To GDP

Germany Government Spending

EIA - Germany

I suppose the difference is that they can trade manufactured goods, basically bankroll the EU, plus have the unique geographic location right in the heart of Europe?

I'm in Germany a few times a year with my motorcycle. Most of my friends and the clubs I visit there all talk about the wholesale ransacking of their social welfare system and pensions by their government. Time will tell for them I suppose, but they are more apt to make changes than we are.

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They don't do so well, just ask the average German.

Germany Government Debt To GDP

Germany Government Spending

EIA - Germany

I suppose the difference is that they can trade manufactured goods, basically bankroll the EU, plus have the unique geographic location right in the heart of Europe?

I'm in Germany a few times a year with my motorcycle. Most of my friends and the clubs I visit there all talk about the wholesale ransacking of their social welfare system and pensions by their government. Time will tell for them I suppose, but they are more apt to make changes than we are.

To me energy is still a relatively small proportion of "stuff". Even though it might get greater.

So long as a country is adding value thats what counts. Look at Switzerland.

The idea that we have to go back to hitting stuff with hammers or making pins in order to become a global powerhouse is nonsense. In fact it is the surest route back to poverty, as there is no way those sorts of activities can sustain the UK standard of living.

Specialist software production for example doesn't require masses of energy yet produces high value products that people want.

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This I think is the real reason gov's are so determined to go the renewables route.

Frankly given what we have available and the relative costs involved there is not that much choice.

Conventional nuclear - extremely expensive, not going to ever get cheaper, if anything will get more expensive as new safety and design features get tacked on. See plants to be built by EDF in the UK and Olkiluoto plant being built in Finland.

Unconventional nuclear (thorium, etc) - sounds great but we need the power now.

Fracking - Well documented giant ponzi scheme. The U.S. fracking industry is loosing money hand over fist. Moreover it appears to be a 2 decade wonder at best given production decline rates of 90% of output over 18 months. U.S. shale gas output should peak in 3 years given the data we already have on decline rates and the large fall (75%) in the number of new wells being drilled. We'd also end up locking ourselves even further into a tech that we'd have to completely replace in 2 decades.

Coal - that peaked in 1913.

What's left except renewables?

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Notice how interest rates have dropped to record low levels ever since that production v consumption crossover!

'Fuelling' a debt based rise in house prices - capital (debt) flow!

For anyone paying attention that is one scary chart. Just look at the rate of decline.

And they wonder why the trade deficit is so bad?? Devalue the currency and those energy imports become more expensive...TRAPPED.

Population increasing - DEBT increasing - energy production falling. Talk about playing with fire!

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They spout World Growth.

We are prolly past peak Oil.

And we are going to import energy.

from who?..if the World is growing?...

Face it, its aint going to be pretty.

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What do you make of this?

If the US military constructed a prototype thorium reactor that worked half a century ago seems like we should be able to get one working today.

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This I think is the real reason gov's are so determined to go the renewables route.

Frankly given what we have available and the relative costs involved there is not that much choice.

Conventional nuclear - extremely expensive, not going to ever get cheaper, if anything will get more expensive as new safety and design features get tacked on. See plants to be built by EDF in the UK and Olkiluoto plant being built in Finland.

Unconventional nuclear (thorium, etc) - sounds great but we need the power now.

Fracking - Well documented giant ponzi scheme. The U.S. fracking industry is loosing money hand over fist. Moreover it appears to be a 2 decade wonder at best given production decline rates of 90% of output over 18 months. U.S. shale gas output should peak in 3 years given the data we already have on decline rates and the large fall (75%) in the number of new wells being drilled. We'd also end up locking ourselves even further into a tech that we'd have to completely replace in 2 decades.

Coal - that peaked in 1913.

What's left except renewables?

Alexw ,

I think Peter Styles at Keele University is right that methane is too important to generate electricity with . I would prefer it was used for heat and transport and as chemical feedstock .

The amount of fuel (nuclear and fossil) used for domestic and industrial heat and transportation in the UK is almost double the amount used for electricity generation .

The best bang for the buck is insulation .

My expectation is that what has happened in the US will happen world wide - i.e. new conventional and unconventional shale gas and coal seam gas resources will cause a glut thus lowering prices ...... but that unless something happens , 50-100 years down the line there will be a much harsher shock as these contingencies are used up .

A lot of shale operators in the U.S. are losing money , largely because the land leasing contracts force them to drill thus flooding the market and lowering the price from $8/mcf to $3.50/mcf . Wet shale gas (containing long chain hydrocarbons) and gas produced as a by-product of tight oil are often economic at $3.50 but only a few sweet spots in the dry gas maturity window of some shale gas fields will be economic at $3.50 .

Primary recovery from conventional oil wells is typically only 15-25% and secondary water floods may recover an extra 5-10% . Enhanced oil recovery technology may evolve to extract a lot more from fields which are today considered exhausted .

The biggest supply of natural gas is seabed methane hydrates and clathrates - thousands of years worth if man can learn how to exploit them .

Some coal seams which are too deep to longwall mine safely can be gasified in situ and the syngas used to power reciprocating engines or even CCGT or even the CO and H2 can be split and the H2 can be used to generate electricity in an alkaline fuel cell . The syngas can be used to synthesis liquid fuels too as Germany did in WW2 from surface gasified coal . I can only see under-sea UCG happening in the UK , not underland due to the possibility of subsidence .

Countries which do not have shale gas or use it all up will have to consider UCG .

The World has got massive tar-sand and oil-shale resources which are both mined conventionally and typically retorted or solvent extracted .

Deep drilling seems to be throwing up a few surprises like the gas in the Eastern Mediterranean and offshore Gulf of Mexico but the exploration is crazy expensive .

Would be nice to live long enough to see the next development , be it cheaper safe nuclear , fusion , cold fusion or something we don't even know about yet .

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Notice how interest rates have dropped to record low levels ever since that production v consumption crossover!

'Fuelling' a debt based rise in house prices - capital (debt) flow!

For anyone paying attention that is one scary chart. Just look at the rate of decline.

And they wonder why the trade deficit is so bad?? Devalue the currency and those energy imports become more expensive...TRAPPED.

Population increasing - DEBT increasing - energy production falling. Talk about playing with fire!

That chart must have been one of those used by Blair to time his exit from Downing Street.

Edited by billybong

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I think Peter Styles at Keele University is right that methane is too important to generate electricity with . I would prefer it was used for heat and transport and as chemical feedstock .

I think this is the next step, mainly because of the diminishing availability of higher feedstocks. The availability of C4+ feedstocks is in decline, and is being replaced by C2 as a building block, to the point where the C2 supply may become seriously constrained by 2017 (this is when a whole series of ethane to ethylene plants are due to come online in the US).

The next logical step is to use methane as the building block as we are literally awash with it. The problem is that methane itself is pretty awful as a building block as it's so stable. If someone could work out how to activate and dimerise it they would become rich beyond their wildest dreams. As it stands the logical thing to do is methane -> syngas -> methanol. Once you've got methanol you can make pretty much anything.

The economics of energy production are incredibly interesting. Making chemicals for energy, be it petrol, diesel or methane from fracking is pretty much a zero-sum venture (in fact it's slightly negative). To make profit you've got to capitalise on the crud and by-products. It astounded me when I first learned this fact, but it's absolutely true.

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To me energy is still a relatively small proportion of "stuff". Even though it might get greater.

So long as a country is adding value thats what counts. Look at Switzerland.

The idea that we have to go back to hitting stuff with hammers or making pins in order to become a global powerhouse is nonsense. In fact it is the surest route back to poverty, as there is no way those sorts of activities can sustain the UK standard of living.

Specialist software production for example doesn't require masses of energy yet produces high value products that people want.

How many jobs will that produce :lol: Energy is an major requirement.

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Alexw ,

I think Peter Styles at Keele University is right that methane is too important to generate electricity with . I would prefer it was used for heat and transport and as chemical feedstock .

The amount of fuel (nuclear and fossil) used for domestic and industrial heat and transportation in the UK is almost double the amount used for electricity generation .

The best bang for the buck is insulation .

My expectation is that what has happened in the US will happen world wide - i.e. new conventional and unconventional shale gas and coal seam gas resources will cause a glut thus lowering prices ...... but that unless something happens , 50-100 years down the line there will be a much harsher shock as these contingencies are used up .

A lot of shale operators in the U.S. are losing money , largely because the land leasing contracts force them to drill thus flooding the market and lowering the price from $8/mcf to $3.50/mcf . Wet shale gas (containing long chain hydrocarbons) and gas produced as a by-product of tight oil are often economic at $3.50 but only a few sweet spots in the dry gas maturity window of some shale gas fields will be economic at $3.50 .

Primary recovery from conventional oil wells is typically only 15-25% and secondary water floods may recover an extra 5-10% . Enhanced oil recovery technology may evolve to extract a lot more from fields which are today considered exhausted .

The biggest supply of natural gas is seabed methane hydrates and clathrates - thousands of years worth if man can learn how to exploit them .

Some coal seams which are too deep to longwall mine safely can be gasified in situ and the syngas used to power reciprocating engines or even CCGT or even the CO and H2 can be split and the H2 can be used to generate electricity in an alkaline fuel cell . The syngas can be used to synthesis liquid fuels too as Germany did in WW2 from surface gasified coal . I can only see under-sea UCG happening in the UK , not underland due to the possibility of subsidence .

Countries which do not have shale gas or use it all up will have to consider UCG .

The World has got massive tar-sand and oil-shale resources which are both mined conventionally and typically retorted or solvent extracted .

Deep drilling seems to be throwing up a few surprises like the gas in the Eastern Mediterranean and offshore Gulf of Mexico but the exploration is crazy expensive .

Would be nice to live long enough to see the next development , be it cheaper safe nuclear , fusion , cold fusion or something we don't even know about yet .

The one thing you missed from your discussion was EROEI. It does not matter how ingenuous man is if it takes more energy to get the energy source than it produces, you are still on to a sure fire looser.

This is the problem with your argument and with much of the sources you describe. Getting a positive EROEI on clatherates is highly unlikely. The EROEI of oil sands is something like 3:1. Oil shale is about the same.

There is simply no way we could have a functioning viable and vibrant society which is based on a 3:1 EROEI. We desperately need something else so we don't have to make the choice of going down this path.

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This I think is the real reason gov's are so determined to go the renewables route.

Frankly given what we have available and the relative costs involved there is not that much choice.

Conventional nuclear - extremely expensive, not going to ever get cheaper, if anything will get more expensive as new safety and design features get tacked on. See plants to be built by EDF in the UK and Olkiluoto plant being built in Finland.

Unconventional nuclear (thorium, etc) - sounds great but we need the power now.

Fracking - Well documented giant ponzi scheme. The U.S. fracking industry is loosing money hand over fist. Moreover it appears to be a 2 decade wonder at best given production decline rates of 90% of output over 18 months. U.S. shale gas output should peak in 3 years given the data we already have on decline rates and the large fall (75%) in the number of new wells being drilled. We'd also end up locking ourselves even further into a tech that we'd have to completely replace in 2 decades.

Coal - that peaked in 1913.

What's left except renewables?

According to Damik Westinghouse are just dying to build lots of their AP1000 reactors which can produce electricity at $0.035 kwh according to the 2003 company statement they made. It must be the gubbermint obstructing all this new build. Lets face it - they wouldn't dream of bending over the Uk tax payer to get even just a few nukes built :lol:

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Alexw ,

I think Peter Styles at Keele University is right that methane is too important to generate electricity with . I would prefer it was used for heat and transport and as chemical feedstock .

The amount of fuel (nuclear and fossil) used for domestic and industrial heat and transportation in the UK is almost double the amount used for electricity generation .

The best bang for the buck is insulation .

My expectation is that what has happened in the US will happen world wide - i.e. new conventional and unconventional shale gas and coal seam gas resources will cause a glut thus lowering prices ...... but that unless something happens , 50-100 years down the line there will be a much harsher shock as these contingencies are used up .

A lot of shale operators in the U.S. are losing money , largely because the land leasing contracts force them to drill thus flooding the market and lowering the price from $8/mcf to $3.50/mcf . Wet shale gas (containing long chain hydrocarbons) and gas produced as a by-product of tight oil are often economic at $3.50 but only a few sweet spots in the dry gas maturity window of some shale gas fields will be economic at $3.50 .

Primary recovery from conventional oil wells is typically only 15-25% and secondary water floods may recover an extra 5-10% . Enhanced oil recovery technology may evolve to extract a lot more from fields which are today considered exhausted .

The biggest supply of natural gas is seabed methane hydrates and clathrates - thousands of years worth if man can learn how to exploit them .

Some coal seams which are too deep to longwall mine safely can be gasified in situ and the syngas used to power reciprocating engines or even CCGT or even the CO and H2 can be split and the H2 can be used to generate electricity in an alkaline fuel cell . The syngas can be used to synthesis liquid fuels too as Germany did in WW2 from surface gasified coal . I can only see under-sea UCG happening in the UK , not underland due to the possibility of subsidence .

Countries which do not have shale gas or use it all up will have to consider UCG .

The World has got massive tar-sand and oil-shale resources which are both mined conventionally and typically retorted or solvent extracted .

Deep drilling seems to be throwing up a few surprises like the gas in the Eastern Mediterranean and offshore Gulf of Mexico but the exploration is crazy expensive .

Would be nice to live long enough to see the next development , be it cheaper safe nuclear , fusion , cold fusion or something we don't even know about yet .

The EU held that view until 1986.

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The one thing you missed from your discussion was EROEI. It does not matter how ingenuous man is if it takes more energy to get the energy source than it produces, you are still on to a sure fire looser.

This is the problem with your argument and with much of the sources you describe. Getting a positive EROEI on clatherates is highly unlikely. The EROEI of oil sands is something like 3:1. Oil shale is about the same.

There is simply no way we could have a functioning viable and vibrant society which is based on a 3:1 EROEI. We desperately need something else so we don't have to make the choice of going down this path.

I'm not sure.

I wonder what the average EROEI of the 19th century was, that seemed viable enough.

One thing I do find intereating is how few people make the link between EROEI amd overall wealth. As EROEI declines we MUST become poorer. There's absolutely no way around it.

Edited by frozen_out

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I think this is the next step, mainly because of the diminishing availability of higher feedstocks. The availability of C4+ feedstocks is in decline, and is being replaced by C2 as a building block, to the point where the C2 supply may become seriously constrained by 2017 (this is when a whole series of ethane to ethylene plants are due to come online in the US).

The next logical step is to use methane as the building block as we are literally awash with it. The problem is that methane itself is pretty awful as a building block as it's so stable. If someone could work out how to activate and dimerise it they would become rich beyond their wildest dreams. As it stands the logical thing to do is methane -> syngas -> methanol. Once you've got methanol you can make pretty much anything.

The economics of energy production are incredibly interesting. Making chemicals for energy, be it petrol, diesel or methane from fracking is pretty much a zero-sum venture (in fact it's slightly negative). To make profit you've got to capitalise on the crud and by-products. It astounded me when I first learned this fact, but it's absolutely true.

Frozen_Out ,

I really dislike landfilling household waste . The disused quarries etc could be used for something much more useful . There are so much less geological exposures than there were when I was a boy .

For that reason I'm excited to see how Air Products Teeside waste gasification plant performs when it is commissioned during 2014 .

There is a whole lot of debate on the virtues of gasification vs incineration of waste . Perhaps one day we will be able to use heat from high temperature reactors to gasify waste instead of burning a proportion of the syngas to generate electricity to power plasma or microwave gasifiers .

If Air Products can scrub the syngas sufficiently to use it as a chemical feedstock then it should be clean enough for a CCGT too .

Apparently the crud which is not gasified is a vitreous slag which can be used for bricks , presumably only for non-critical applications .

From an economic perspective surely gas to liquids economics depends on the difference in price between methane and oil . It proves economic for Shell in their Pearl plant as the GTL diesel sold on UK forecourts shows . Must make more sense to build new commercial road transport like lorries , buses and taxi's to use compressed natural gas instead of GTL diesel or even LNG .

Alexw , with a large enough resource an EROEI 3:1 ratio is good enough if the process to extract it is scalable . For instance if the energy needed to sustain nuclear fusion was one third of the energy produced that would be OK .

Estonia's main fuel is oil shale and they manage to scale it up at an environmental cost similar to open cast coal mining . Apparently the crud left over can be used as a cement too , presumably it is slaked lime so that offsets the inefficiencies of the process too . I don't hold out much hope for in-situ processing of oil shales .

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I'm being dim but why are hydro, nukes and renewables following down the fossils?

It's a stacked graph, so the overall curve is dominated by North Sea oil and gas declines.

Nuclear has dropped slightly because we are starting to switch off the older reactors, and there are no more to come on stream.

Renewables are up slightly - their bar is a bit thicker.

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Conventional nuclear - extremely expensive, not going to ever get cheaper, if anything will get more expensive as new safety and design features get tacked on. See plants to be built by EDF in the UK and Olkiluoto plant being built in Finland.

Unconventional nuclear (thorium, etc) - sounds great but we need the power now.

If we ever got properly serious about Nuclear then costs would come down as a matter of scaling. At the moment we have an awful lot of bespoke reactor designs, and pay the one-off costs every time.

Doesn't help that we keep using PWR technology, which is very useful for nuclear powered subs and aircraft carriers but invariably carries a meltdown/hydrogen explosion risk. And the nuclear power is held to an extremely high standard of safety, one that would automatically rule out most other forms of power generation, or transport, or home appliance..

It has to be said that the amount of investment in R&D for nuclear - as well as renewables - has been generally trivial, the same going for nuclear fusion.

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According to Damik Westinghouse are just dying to build lots of their AP1000 reactors which can produce electricity at $0.035 kwh according to the 2003 company statement they made. It must be the gubbermint obstructing all this new build. Lets face it - they wouldn't dream of bending over the Uk tax payer to get even just a few nukes built :lol:

Kurt, glad you are back. I enjoy to disprove your propaganda every single day:

1/ http://www.world-nuc...-Nuclear-Power/

CNEA estimated in May 2013 that the construction cost for two AP1000 units at Sanmen are CNY 40.1 billion ($6.54 billion), or 16,000 Yuan/kW installed ($2615/kW), instead of CNY 32.4 billion earlier estimated. This is about 20% higher than that of improved Generation II Chinese reactors, and 14% higher than latest estimate for CPR-1000, but likely to drop to about CNY 13,000/kW ($2120/kW) with series construction and localisation as envisaged. Grid purchase price is expected to exceed CNY 0.45/kWh (7 cents per kWh) at present costs, and drop to CNY 0.42/kWh (7 cents per kWh) with reduced capital cost.

..................

In July 2013 the NDRC set a wholesale power price of CNY 0.43 per kWh (7 US cents/kWh) for all new nuclear power projects, to promote the healthy development of nuclear power and guide investment into the sector. The price is to be kept relatively stable but will be adjusted with technology advances and market factors. Nuclear power is already competitive, and wholesale price to grid has been less than power form coal plants with flue gas desulfurization.

2/ UK consumers paying in the meantime more

http://www.bbc.co.uk...siness-24604218

_70626287_renewable_fuel_624_flat.jpg

Edited by Damik

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From an economic perspective surely gas to liquids economics depends on the difference in price between methane and oil . It proves economic for Shell in their Pearl plant as the GTL diesel sold on UK forecourts shows . Must make more sense to build new commercial road transport like lorries , buses and taxi's to use compressed natural gas instead of GTL diesel or even LNG.

Couple of points here... the limited success of GTL, despite billions of dollars of investment over the last hundred years is evidence that it's not really economical, especially compared to compressed natural gas. You're right to a point that the economics depends on the price difference between oil and gas, but there's an additional point in that the price of oil and gas actually need to be decoupled. Which is what shale gas did. In a nutshell: it's now or never for GTL. My previous point still stands too: there's just not that much money in making chemicals for fuel. The profit comes from petrochemicals and upgrading the bottoms.

If this plays out like I expect then methane (via syngas and methanol) will become the most important chemical building block of the next century.

I should add... regardless of what happens the EREOI is going down and we're all getting poorer.

Edited by frozen_out

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Kurt, glad you are back. I enjoy to disprove your propaganda every single day:

1/ http://www.world-nuc...-Nuclear-Power/

CNEA estimated in May 2013 that the construction cost for two AP1000 units at Sanmen are CNY 40.1 billion ($6.54 billion), or 16,000 Yuan/kW installed ($2615/kW), instead of CNY 32.4 billion earlier estimated. This is about 20% higher than that of improved Generation II Chinese reactors, and 14% higher than latest estimate for CPR-1000, but likely to drop to about CNY 13,000/kW ($2120/kW) with series construction and localisation as envisaged. Grid purchase price is expected to exceed CNY 0.45/kWh (7 cents per kWh) at present costs, and drop to CNY 0.42/kWh (7 cents per kWh) with reduced capital cost.

..................

In July 2013 the NDRC set a wholesale power price of CNY 0.43 per kWh (7 US cents/kWh) for all new nuclear power projects, to promote the healthy development of nuclear power and guide investment into the sector. The price is to be kept relatively stable but will be adjusted with technology advances and market factors. Nuclear power is already competitive, and wholesale price to grid has been less than power form coal plants with flue gas desulfurization.

2/ UK consumers paying in the meantime 10x/15x more

http://www.bbc.co.uk...siness-24604218

_70626287_renewable_fuel_624_flat.jpg

Except Damik - none of those renewables 'strike prices' have been promised for 40 years ;)

Edit - prices for China are not really relevant for a Western European context as labour costs are somewhat lower in China notwithstanding other issues such as regulatory hurdles which I suspect are somewhat lower in China ;)

Edited by Kurt Barlow

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Except Damik - none of those renewables 'strike prices' have been promised for 40 years ;)

Edit - prices for China are not really relevant for a Western European context as labour costs are somewhat lower in China notwithstanding other issues such as regulatory hurdles which I suspect are somewhat lower in China ;)

1/ Costs of renewables are even higher as they require a constant backup. Such as the wind from Saturday evening

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

2/ I am sure that Westinghouse will not blow up China because of the lack of regulations.

Edited by Damik

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