Saturday, October 08, 2011

Doubling Czech nuclear energy output

All of German-speaking Europe has decided to leave nuclear energy.

The physics textbooks in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are going to replace their chapters on the nuclei. The new books will say that "the electrons orbit around a structureless point-like object of charge $$Z$$ and mass $$AM$$ where $$A$$ is an integer. The structureless center was discovered by Ernst Carson Rachelford who said that you shall not mess with it."

This will hopefully prevent curious but politically correct physics students from speculating about possible energy benefits of any conversion of the nuclei.

Dukovany nuclear power plant. Not sure whether someone was improving the colors in a Photoshop but if he did, he did a good job, didn't he? :-)

The Czech Republic is planning to double its production of nuclear energy during the next 20 years. In a fresh article, The Washington Post (or AP) describes some details in this way:
Czechs plan to heavily expand nuclear power, angering anti-nuke neighbors
The article mentions that pretty much everyone in our country whose opinion matters considers nuclear energy to be an efficient, clean, and in some contexts irreplaceable source of energy. Moreover, Czechia has become a kind of role model for the post-socialist Europe. For example, Poland is working on its first nuclear power plant as well (which has already led to some predictable anger in Germany).

The Washington Post explains the diverging attitudes to nuclear energy as results of "different economic needs." What does it mean? Well, it means that the post-socialist countries still need to get richer while the countries of the formerly rich Europe need to produce the number of poor citizens so they're thinking about the most efficient way to screw their economies. ;-)

Czechia is small enough so that even though it gets 1/3 of its energy needs from the nuclei, it's trivial to memorize all reactors on its territory. We have 4 older 440 MW reactors in Dukovany (picture above), our older plant in Moravia (Eastern half of Czechia) built from 1974 and commissioned in 1985-87 (still works very well), and two newer 1,000 MW reactors in Temelín built since 1981 and launched in 2002 (in Bohemia, the Western half of Czechia that surrounds Prague). Each reactor comes with its two cooling towers. It's clear and simple.

Slovakia has two nuclear plants as well, each of which has 2 × 440 MW reactors: Jaslovské Bohunice and Mochovce. Expansion plans are underway, too. Austria just lost a lawsuit concerning the ongoing expansion of Mochovce. Hungary has similar 4 × 500 MW reactors as Slovakia, all of them in Paks. They give Hungary 40% of its needs because, you know, Hungary is less industrial so it doesn't consume as much as Czechia.

I have already mentioned all countries of the Visegrad Four. And indeed, the summit of the V4 presidents today concluded that the nuclei have no alternative (click).

The total energy output of the six Czech reactors is 3,800 MW (1/3 of the needs; 20% of country's electricity is being exported now): well, the 440 MW blocks may actually make 460-500 MW. The government wants to double this figure during the next 20 years. It should be done simply by expanding our two nuclear power plants.

Energy imports to Germany

Switzerland and Austria have lots of hydroelectric energy so that we are primarily talking about Germany that may be in trouble. In the North, it has lots of wind turbines etc. and they may build new ones. Their grid isn't strong enough to pump all the energy to the South where it's needed in many critical factories etc. You know, things like BMW, Audi, and Siemens in Bavaria.

As BusinessWeek analyzed, even if Germany managed to cover its needs by the alternative sources etc., it needs to build new lines which takes 5-10 years. Those things are not lethal problems, of course: Germany will import lots of energy (and about 1/2 of it will be nuclear). In average over a year, Germany will be importing 2,700 MW of energy, not far from the current whole production of the Czech Republic. ;-)

ČEZ, the major Czech power utility (which just replaced its CEO), is likely to increase their profits sometime in the medium term. You should buy some BAACEZ stocks if you do such things: they're very cheap now. Well, this is not my recommendation: it comes from Clive Roberts, a utility analyst in Standard & Poor's.

The Associated Press article today (that was reprinted in the Washington Post as I mentioned) said something about the expansion plans as well:
Czechs bet heavily on nuclear power
The expansion of the newer Temelín plant will be done by the winner of a contest. America, Russia, and France are competing:
• Westinghouse Electric is a part of Japan's Toshiba these days
• Areva SA is a French state-owned nuclear engineering giant
• Atomstroyexport leads a consortium in Russia ("stroy" means "machine" in Czech or "to build" in Slavic languages)
It would surely be tempting to eliminate the Russians because they've been overrepresented for half a century and they were doing their best to decelerate our technological progress. On the other hand, their nuclear gadgets have worked well for us so far and trying completely new things could turn out to be counterproductive. I have obviously no preference or interests here. Ambassadors of the countries have become lobbyists for their nuclear companies.

So from some continental or global viewpoint, nothing will really change. The nations that will have realized to have done a stupid thing by banning nuclear energy (however that will not be brave enough to admit so) will reduce the bad consequences of their bad decision by buying the energy that will be produced by their neighbors. Unless Germany will be forced to pay the welfare for all citizens of PIGS and beyond, it will surely have enough money to buy the energy.

Of course, the alternative decision is for them to violently prevent us from using the nuclei as well (or to refuse to buy our nuclear-rich energy) in which case they may have to shut down things like BMW, Audi, and Siemens in a decade, or transform them to plants producing organic food.

1. Sad is the devolution of German science!

From Rubbia's accelerator driven subcritical reactors, Thorium, better fuel cycles, to aneutronic fusion there are so many concepts apparently worth pursuing in nuclear energy. How can the German speaking Europe fall for the massive earth moving concepts of solar/wind/wave etc. renewable power with no realistic concepts for energy storage?

2. One remark: the consortium in the tender for Temelin extension is led by the Czech company SKODA JS. Atomstroyexport and Gidropress are the Russian partners in this consortium.

3. Josriha: you seem to be right! Well, in that case, as a Pilsner patriot, I obviously have to support the Škoda J.S.-led consortium.

4. Hi Lubos,

Do you think the English word destroy - basically de-built - has any link to the Slavic 'stroy'?

Good to know that your republic is ensuring that we will still be able to get our german cars when the wind stops blowing!

5. TheJollyGreenMan, a fascinating explanation that works almost perfectly. "Odstroiť" in Russian etc. is almost the same thing as "destroy", and the prefixes are just internationalized.

The only problem with the theory is that I may show better sources that have a different explanation. Destroy comes from the Romanic languages and the root after "dis" or "des" is just "troy" from Latin "truggere" (without "s": to make long shallow baskets).

6. Actually, the letter "s" may be a part of the 2nd root as well, as I see it. "Destruction" is the opposite of "struction" which is related to "structure". The similarity of "structure" and "stroi" is probably a coincidence (both meanings and sounds are close), or one of those old Indo-European links between all the languages.

7. good to hear that the Check's are not sucumbing to international madness. Hopefully the EUSSR does not go to forbid them to choose their own future and destiny.

8. aneutronic fusion is a dumb idea that people like because it doesn't produce "radiation", because minimizing "radiation" is seen as a goal by dumb people who are afraid of bananas.