Here is a quick post to update you on some recent work of mine.

I am thrilled that the office of Senator Sean Edwards has prepared a professionally designed version of our submission to the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

The document is complete with a brand new forward from the Senator himself, outlining how the process came to this point and how nuclear fits into his view for a new, dynamic and prosperous South Australia.

Submission cover

It’s a great looking document so please, download here and share away! Let’s build a worldwide buzz that South Australia can’t ignore. We are not joking about this: our placement in Asia at this time, our suite of advantages, really does mean South Australia could become a hub of nuclear progress.

On that global topic I recently returned from the World Nuclear Association 2015 Symposium in London. While there I delivered an updated version of my presentation World’s Without Nuclear: A review of the 100 % renewable literature. This has been work in development for some time now, rudely interrupted by a Royal Commission. In this updated slide deck you will see some additional scenarios have been captured, a version of scoring is applied and there is some additional comparative discussion of hydroelectricity vs nuclear power in the context of South America. I am hopeful that a video of the presentation will be available soon, however there is a detailed write-up of my presentation here.

The presentation was well-received, with many complimentary discussions that followed. I think that in particular the audience found the hyrdo realities to be something that had not really been considered before. I used the language of decoupling, freely piggy-backing on the recent Nature Unbound report from The Breakthrough Institute.

Four Amazonian tribes have united in protest over the Teles Pires hydroelectric dam. Where is the western activist voice on this issue. Silent it seems; probably ignorant.
Four Amazonian tribes have united in protest over the Teles Pires hydroelectric dam. Where is the western activist voice on this issue? Silent it seems; probably ignorant.

The next step is to work with my supervisors to bring this research to the literature as a paper.

My hope is that stakeholders like me and presentations like this will help the actual nuclear industry to continue to appreciate their vital role and stimulate more action as a result. I want a more externally competitive, internally collaborative nuclear industry that goes about aggressively taking market share, driven not only by economic rewards, but by a firm foundation understanding that every nuclear plant we build is coal unburned, forest unflooded, wilderness uninterrupted, land unploughed as we seek to bring energy to 10 billion people.

It’s a long road however I am pleased to report that the sentiment at this symposium was the best I have felt to date. A big hat-tip to the leadership of Agneta Rising of WNA, whose theme for the closing gala was “harmony”.

Thanks as ever for the ongoing support. We have achieved much, with much in front of us. Onwards!

26 comments

  1. Wow! What a sales pitch. It will be interesting to see how the naysayers will deal with this document while retaining their own credibility. There are so many solid benefits to South Australia in this document, it’s hard to imagine that it won’t be accepted: lock, stock and barrel.

  2. Since I live in a logging and hydro area I can confirm that neither of these can be relied upon year after year for dispatchable power. A couple of days ago I was in the nearly dried up bed of a major dam. The lake level is down 35m mainly to get top spot prices before carbon tax was nixed and it could take a decade to refill. Summer power will probably come from Bass gas and Vic brown coal via underwater cable. Hydro is dispatchable but not long term reliable.

    Biomass be it garbage, sawmill waste, bagasse, straw or whatever is utterly dependent upon fossil fuels. That is to power harvesting and planting machinery and trucks, to make fertilisers like urea and to pump irrigation water. This can involve some or all of oil, gas and coal. No ff’s no exploitable biomass to speak of.

  3. Love that table comparing renewable+nuclear grids with renewable+FF grids. Shame that Germany went from NPP+RE+FF to RE+FF.

  4. According to Figure 3 of the 2015 SA fuel report some 44.4% of SA electricity came from gas, 16.8% from coal, 32.7% from wind and the rest mainly from solar. We know Pt Augusta coal will close by 2018 though east coast coal power imports will remain an option. However soon the main gas supply can be diverted into LNG if the price is right
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/business/santos-makes-first-liquefied-natural-gas-at-glng-plant-on-curtis-island/story-fni6uma6-1227541794175
    The export LNG plant is starting with Qld coal seam gas but as the last line says it will soon include some conventional gas from Cooper Basin the major source of nearly half of SA electricity. Strangely it is thought that a spike in Qld coal consumption is for electricity to drive gas pumps and compressors. Conclusion…SA must find alternatives to coal and baseload gas ASAP.

  5. Ben & others, I agree that the dangers of radiation have been exaggerated wildly. Strontium-90 is a case in point. If 90Sr is indeed a bone-seeker, then it deposits in the inorganic component of the bone, the hydroxy(l)apatite. It ends up a couple of orders of magnitude further from the DNA than environmental 40K. I thus challenge even the supposition that 90Sr could be a big problem.

    I have written a more detailed analysis in my submission to the South Australian Nuclear Energy Royal Commission, Appendix K.

    I would appreciate anyone commenting on my analysis, as there doesn’t seem to be anything exactly addressing this issue elsewhere. I give permission for the material in my submission to be reprinted and redistributed anywhere and anytime, to support the use of nuclear energy to combat climate-change.

  6. As a naysayer…

    ….you got paid to take 60,000 tons of waste, and you put it in dry-cask storage that lasts 100 years. You reprocessed 100 tons a year over 40 years – which is 4,000 tons.

    What happened to the other 56,000 tons? You didn’t leave it in temporary storage, did you? Because that would have been pretty silly. I mean, didn’t someone just pay us because leaving their stuff in dry cask storage wasn’t viable, and storing it permanently was really expensive? How do you think the public would react to a plan that leaves 56,000 tons of waste to future generations to sort out?

    Yes: if you get paid to do a job, and do less than 10% of that job, you do actually end up with quite a lot of money.

    I also think US$1,000,000 a ton is wildly optimistic. Your own submission says that boreholes will cost less than 16% of that price. If you’re relying on that technology, don’t you think other people might like to use it, too?


    I just want to mention: PRISMs are brilliant. The attractiveness of this plan (however terrible the underlying financial case is, IMO) is that it’d prove PRISMs. As the paper says, after the first pair is built and shaken down, new ones will be cheap, they’re amazingly safe, and they offer a massive service to anyone with spent fuel stockpiles.

    Instead of the political poison of a “waste” facility, which no matter what is going to be one hell of a sell, why don’t we take advantage of the SMR design and go into the PRISM export business? That is, we could jointly fund a project with someone else, to build the things next to existing reactors / spent fuel overseas. By jointly funding we bring in an Australia workforce, and build the components in Australia for export.

    We wouldn’t even need legislation change, would we? A single government in a single term could build this industry from scratch for a few billion dollars up front and a few more set aside for contingencies. GE-Hitachi would probably jump on board in a second, given the upside potential in sales once the tech has proven itself.

    Having proven the design, we could expect to get orders galore, earning buckets and driving a very solid high-tech industry. More importantly, we’d be avoiding carbon emissions FAR beyond Australia’s entire load, in the long run, by building them en-mass elsewhere. And when the time came to try building them here (say, 10-15 years from now) we’ll know the costs, we’ll have experience in making them, and probably some national pride invested in this kickass technology. What’s more, a later PRISM proposal here would involve importing just enough spent fuel to run a reprocessing plant (for which dry cask storage is very appropriate), and producing a tiny amount of waste at the end. A ***much*** easier sell, don’t you think?

    It’s not “free electricity”, but it’s a lot more realistic, IMO.

    I’m just worried that this plan focuses on importing “waste”, which is insanely difficult to sell politically (especially given you guys forgot 56,000 tons of spent fuel, oops, which means it actually is waste, since there’s no further use planned or costed for), is just going to slow down adoption of future tech. 10-15 years from now is where we can realistically get a nuclear power industry. Right now – still waiting on boreholes and PRISMs, with all the uncertainty of FOAK tech – just seems about the worst possible time to be trying to do this *here*, of all places. Do it somewhere that already has the spent fuel! They have a strong incentive to see it through. Doing the whole thing *here*, from scratch, in a country traditionally hostile to nuclear power, is just totally the wrong place at the wrong time.

    1. As discussed in the report longer term storage in dry-cask is indeed a viable option and one with many advantages. The issue faced by potential customers of this service is amount of approved space and forward requirements for approved space. The scenarios take a range of waste prices. All these prices are referenced .The most recent contract from Taiwan was at the high end. There is really no question of a demand for service this space and the solutions we hope to develop by pooling those revenues are not off-the-shelf answers.
      The project has a life for the purposes of analysis however in actuality it would be perpetual with the scope for significant, ongoing expansion to serve a national and international market. The material would not be in storage for ever and yes, some would be in storage for a long time. That will work well and we can be among the first to demonstrate this. The marginal cost of expanding operations are small.
      Other parties may use borehole in future. I hope they do. There is development required of that approach required and, again, the existing quantities in question and forward projections cannot be overlooked.

      “Why don’t we take advantage of the SMR design and go into the PRISM export business?”
      That is the longer-term intention, to be funded as laid out in the submission.
      There is no simplistic project of “jointly funding” this in another nation, it is not a matter of stumping up a few billion and South Australia does not have a few billion to stump up. The pathway’s you suggest are “realistic” are not. They would be difficult with far less prospect for transformative economic outcomes.
      If you have specific critiques of the proposal, please post them.

      1. Well, the report says the dry cask storage will be appropriate for 100 years. That’s about the limit of what industry says it’ll last, so …I’m not sure if you’re disagreeing with your own report? Don’t you need to fund decanting and re-storing the waste after 100 years, and again, and again? It’ll take 600 years to reprocess all that spent fuel. And even there you only costed reprocessing for 40 years. Don’t you need to build a new reprocessing plant every 40 years for 600 years? Don’t you need to build new PRISMs every 50 years for 600 years? Did you cost any of that, and I missed it?

        You make 100% of all the revenue (reprocessed fuel sales aside) in the first 20 years. That money has to fund the *entire* project. It’s a project that would, at the scale shown in the plan, last 600 years. You’ve only costed it for 40-50 years. Do you really think that’s reasonable? You can’t just wave all that away – “oh, it’s government practice to do costings for 50 years”. Government doesn’t usually embark on 600 year projects, where ALL the revenue comes in the first 20.

        Again, you’ve been paid to do a job: permanently store the waste. You’ve only costed doing 7.5% of that job. No wonder you end up with lots of money left over!

        If you have costed a long term solution in the paper, or even mentioned what happens to the spent fuel after the reprocessing facility comes to the end of its life, I would very much appreciate if if you could point that out. All I can see is 60,000 going in, 4,000 coming out, and not a word about the difference. Not one word.

        (You also failed to cost a port and shipping. Your storage numbers came from a paper where all transport was via rail. Ships and ports ‘aint free).

        …and that doesn’t even go into the price. Malaysia and the Philippines both have borehole pilot projects going. When they see us making 500-900% profits (!!!!) don’t you think they’ll undercut us? Competition is basic economics. If boreholes cost $216 a kg (that figure was used in *your* report), why would anyone pay us $1,370 a kg? South Korea can use boreholes (if they work). China certainly can. What are we offering that’s going to induce people to pay 5 times the cost?

        Sorry, you don’t like rhetorical questions. The answers are: They will. They won’t. Nothing.

        Put simply: if the “free electricity” utopia really does work, don’t you think at least ONE other country on the planet of Earth would want that? And when that happens (given the essentially infinite supply of borehole storage capacity), basic economics tells us that the price will fall to the lowest anyone is willing and able to offer. That’s *reality*. You can’t make monopoly profits if you don’t have a monopoly.

        In other words, you’ve wildly inflated the price at one end, and fudged 95% of the cost at the other end. That is not reasonable. I’m not even going to go into Taiwan, except to say – no. That ‘aint going to fly with me, and you should know why.

        I really do respect you and your position, but this paper smacks of trying to force reality to fit a shape you badly want to be there. Take a step back. It’s a wonderful idea, but it doesn’t actually work. And a fudged “waste dump” proposal is just going to poison the well for another decade or two, and put us further behind.

        Incidentally, I was suggesting the federal government stump up the billions, not SA. The feds have shown ample willingness to buy manufacturing votes in SA.
        🙂

        1. The dry cask storage has approval for 100 years. The literature suggests “long-term” use will be viable meaning +150 years and the manufacturers make similar assertions.
          There are uncertainties from there. Yes, I would assume in future new casks would be required. There is no sensible way of including those costs perhaps 150 years in the future in an NPV assessment; the discounting renders it irrelevant and the future cost would be highly uncertain (though likely much less). The cost of casks is considerable in isolation however the project is more than profitable enough to accommodate several generations of casks.
          New recycling facilities may be required at year 40; that remains to be seen. It is perfectly possible that refurbishment, reconditioning and life-extension would be the right approach. Either way, again, the cost of the recycling facility is modest in the scheme of the project and a second generation is easily accommodated in the present value. That present value placed no value on the fabricated fuel product, which we estimate to be worth about $300 million per year based on current fuel prices. There is every reason to expect the facility to be profitable in its own right within the timeframe of the initial project.
          Yes, there would need to be PRISM (or similar) reactors in future. Hopefully there will be many both in Australia and globally. With the reduction in capital cost and the supply of fuel from the facility, these facilities ought be competitive replacements for fossil fuels in selling electricity to their markets. This project does not need to fund PRISM reactors in perpetuity. It does not need to fund 600 years’ worth of infrastructure. Assuming no change in conditions from 2015 for the next 600 years is baseless. Governments do not assess 600 year projects as the outcomes would be altogether meaningless. We have followed the government project guidelines.
          If there is a risk, it is that no other PRISM reactor is built anywhere, ever. That’s possible and highly unlikely. That risk may mean disposal needs to be entertained in some 120 years from the beginning of the project.
          Transportation costs were factored in, as you said. Rail ain’t free either. In the event of further investigations, a priority would be to bring as many assumptions to bear that are specific to South Australia including hire of the existing ships that perform this task. That was beyond our scope and resources. However if you wish, pinch a couple of billion from the NPV as a placeholder to cover the uncertainty.
          No, there is no short-term prospect of another nation putting a multinational fuel service into practice. No, another nation cannot simply drop in and “undercut”. Yes, over the medium term we are looking at a window of opportunity that will eventually close. Again, the prices assumed were referenced, please provide an alternative reference for my consideration.
          All of that said: I find you tone and approach to this process irksome, arrogant and rude. If you provide some appropriately referenced justifications for changes to the modelling that would be most interesting. Otherwise if you are so very confident in your position, I invite you to make a similar submission for us all to critique. In the meantime, please revise your approach or just don’t come back.

        2. Just a clarifying remark on my closing above.

          The actual essence of the questions you are asking is relevant, in fact I think it’s excellent. You are honing in on some of the important areas that South Australia will need to think about.

          I have had near-identical inquiries put to me more formally by other parties. I have no problem responding, providing answers, breaking down ideas. That’s actually the point of such a detailed submission.

          So if you have a question by all means ask. The framework of “question-here’s my answer-you are a fool or a liar for saying otherwise” is unnecessary and unhelpful. Frankly your comments would be a lot more succinct without it.

          There are several relevant issues we could respectfully interrogate and at the end we may well disagree. That’s perfectly fine. If you respect me, as you say, please demonstrate in the way you engage.

          1. Look, you’ve been paid to permanently inter 60,000 tonnes of waste. Your plan pays to inter or otherwise offload 4,000 tonnes of waste. You honestly don’t see how this is a problem?

            If I am paid to deliver 100 loaves of bread, but only deliver 4 loaves of bread, I make a sizable profit. Saying, “oh, I’ll deliver the rest later, but I’ll worry about the cost when it happens”, isn’t a very good business plan. Saying “oh, we’ve pushed delivery to 50 years from now, and government practice means we don’t need to cost it” is not a very good business case.

            You can’t earn all your profits in the first 20 years, then just shift 90% of the costs out of scope. That’s simply not honest accounting.

            If I’m rude – do you mean the bit about Taiwan? – maybe it’s because Taiwan was trying to pay for reprocessing. They would retain ownership of the 80% of material as reprocessed fuel. Your own comments give the value of that fuel at $3,000,000 a tonne if they could find a buyer. They were going to pay $1,500,000 a tonne for the service – so it was potentially a net *positive* investment. The waste produced was to be returned, not stored. And finally, the Taiwan government pulled the tender. It’s been cancelled.

            If you are going to take this Taiwan project for a service completely different to the one you propose to offer, for a price that may well have been a net positive investment, and which didn’t go ahead anyway, as an example of the ballpark figures we might hope to use, then I *honestly* can’t see an answer other than; 1. you’re intentionally misrepresenting it; 2. are ignorant of the actual tender, or; 3. are (as I concluded) in something of a state of denial.

            I think I chose the most polite option of the three. I am very much open to an alternate explanation as to why you’d use such a blatantly incompatible example. What’s the polite way of pointing out this issue?

            Further: you failed to consider or even mention competition in the paper. You failed to cost a port or shipping. You use the Taiwan example as the *only* example of a real world price approaching the one you used, and as I’ve pointed out this is grossly inaccurate. You’ve got China potentially sending us their waste, when they have ample room to use the same boreholes you intend to. You’ve failed to consider both Malaysia and the Philippines are *ahead* of us in borehole disposal siting. You say we can set up imports in 4 years, but you disregard competition for 24 years. You didn’t cost a solution for over 90% of the material taken.

            It’s like you’ve got these new technologies and methods, but assumed that no-one else would use them, too. You’ve got the rest of the world standing still while we spend 24 years making spectacular profits. The moment we prove the very first commercial borehole, it takes about a week for our customer nation to say: “hey, why don’t WE use boreholes?” and stop the shipments (Christ, whatever contract penalty they’ve agreed to, it’s got to be less than 5 times the total cost) – and about a year for another country to offer the same service for half as much (plus a couple of years to build it).

            You say the price used is the price “commonly quoted” (that’s a direct quote from the paper). The reference given, and their reference, provide no solid basis for that price (Bunn et al: “These are the figures estimated [by] First Deputy Minister of Atomic Energy Valentin B. Ivanov” who was trying to sell Russia’s own waste site – which, not incidentally, failed; plus a vague mention of unsourced “conversations”). Most importantly, in the light of *new technology* – $216/kg borehole disposal, which your plan itself relies on – a price of $1,370/kg is highly improbable. 15 year old estimates which didn’t know that boreholes are on “the cusp of commercialisation” and can do the job for less than 20% of that price, aren’t really very convincing.

            You mention that the US has put aside US$400,000, less than half the mid-scenario, but give no reason to disregard that (other than the infamous Taiwan example, and a 15-year old estimate from a Russian politician). Even your low case is higher than that. No reason is given.

            And your response to all of this is to be terribly offended, and refer me back to the document.

            Here’s my question: can you point to the part of the document that says what happens to the 56,000 tonnes of waste left in temporary storage? A page number is fine. But if, for example, I read the document and thought “they’ve forgotten 56,000 tonnes of waste”, can you show me something in the paper that would contradict that position?

            1. And also sorry: I just re-read, and that’s snarky as hell. I don’t mean it to be! Well ok, maybe a little snarky. But certainly not offensive, and I see it does actually come across as pretty offensive. I apologise for that. I just don’t think I was making myself clear earlier, and wanted to fully convey my gob-smackedness. Please read it in a cheerfully exasperated tone of voice.

              I don’t dispute the physics or the engineering – that’s not my area, and (again) you could plonk boreholes and PRISMs in my backyard if you wanted to.

              What I’m disputing is the economic case. The assumptions relied on aren’t realistic. There *might* be a net-positive investment case to be made. But the numbers you’ve used are so wildly optimistic that there are holes big enough to sail a Pacific Grebe through. “Free electricity” really should have made you guys suspect something was off right away.

              And politically, the more people talk about a “waste dump” (that’s what people will always hear when you say spent-fuel), and *especially* when there’s a plan that (pending your answer) really does seem to just wave away 56,000 tonnes of waste for future generations to deal with, the more people are going to be hostile and suspicious of any nuclear proposal. And I hate to hit that point, but it’s a valid point and one that *has to* be made.

              Politically, the issue of what to do with the rest of the material *should* have been front and centre. That’s what people are going to worry about. Tricky accounting isn’t going to fly. “You didn’t cost the other 56,000 tonnes”. “Oh, government practices meant we didn’t need to!” That’s not good enough. If you had a solution, that should have been in there. Senator Edwards is spruiking a plan that isn’t grounded in reality, and the longer he does that, the worse the fallout will be. Stop. Go back and come up with something more realistic. This plan is damaging.

              1. (Errr, and yes, 6 years for imports, not 4 years. Sigh. That’s what lunchbreak typing does. Fact remains, though, that boreholes will probably be proven quite a bit earlier than 6 years from now, so alternate operations could start setting up before we get ours finished. There would surely be a competitive pressure on the price very early, and certainly well before the Australian facility is full 26 years from project start).

              2. Dan,
                I don’t think loaves of bread makes a terribly good analogy. We are talking about used nuclear fuel rods.
                No, we are not paid to permanently inter. We are paid to take full custody and responsibility. Please re-read the submission carefully.

                90 % of the costs are not shifted out of scope. Please refer to the project costs, in the submission, including how much each component is and when it is incurred. The issues you raise are relevant, and interesting, and not effectively addressed in net-present-value analysis because of the timeframes in question. I am increasingly suspicious that you don’t understand how a net-present-value analysis works.

                Taiwan would receive, in return, vitrified nuclear waste for disposal. There was no option for Taiwan to receive material of value (uranium and plutonium) within at least 20 years. This is like the current situation with Australia that sent material for reprocessing: the French keep the good stuff and send us back a much reduced volume of conditioned waste products which are then our responsibility for disposal. Under our proposal the Taiwanese or other customer would not be obligated to receive and dispose of the waste material, we would do it. They could purchase fully reprocessed fuel for a fast reactor later. What we would offer is a superior service. It appears you have misunderstood that market, which might be the alternative explanation you are looking for. The contract obligates the Taiwanese to take back the vitrified waste and prevents them from taking back the potentially valuable plutonium. http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/country-profiles/others/nuclear-power-in-taiwan/ . The Taiwanese are not motivated by getting new fuel rods. They need a solution for their existing fuel rods. This model would provide a much better solution.

                There is no competition in this space, globally, aside from the existing re-processing option. This has limited capacity, far lower than global needs, and, as discussed, obligates countries to dispose of waste anyway. Current work in boreholes is not remotely close to offering the level and type of service discussed and would not be scaled to effectively meet demand for sometime. The Philippines requires a solution for its own stream of research waste from a small research reactor, and its challenge for them, a small volcanic island. It would be just about the last place on earth to become a service provider for multinational used nuclear fuel.

                Yes, this would be predicated on early contracts. Indications are that potential customers would be more than happy.
                The implementation of the solutions demands committed work and investment with a range of parties. This is not a matter of Teac coming in after Sony does the work.

                The low-case could have been $400,000. We nudged it higher as the US is an unlikely market. If you would like to run the numbers at $400,000 be my guest. The price of the Taiwan contract was used as a benchmark for the plausible high end of a range for an analysis with nine scenarios. The lack of real-world examples speaks to the absence of service for this market, not the established willingness to pay.

                The paper does not say what happens to the material remaining in storage at the end of the NPV project life. I can see that was an oversight. I can see that will need further discussion. Without the ability to predict the future, the likelihood is a continuation and expansion of operations, as my previous responses said.

                Well… that’s now three times I have patiently and politely played a straight bat to your enquiries, and after a request for courtesy you instead just chose to up your rhetoric. You misunderstood the nature of the Taiwan reprocessing contract, badly, and on this occasion you really have inferred that I am a liar, stupid or in denial. You suggest Philippine boreholes are a source of competition; that is patently false. You have ignored my previous responses about what would be likely to happen post the assessed project time period and just restated your question. We haven’t used any “tricky accounting”; we have correctly undertaken net-present value analysis. I think you don’t understand the nature, purpose and limitations of net-present value analysis.

                I have asked for robust alternative assumptions. In return, I get what you seem to “think” is or should be the case. As above, you are continually incorrect. Just saying the analysis is wrong isn’t actually sufficient. Here, as in your submission, I am led to suspect that you understand very little about the topic you had to address. I see that TAI gives you all sorts of things to write about. That’s nice, however it reinforces the impression that you are a non-specialist.

                However low my opinion of your organisation (The Australia Institute) may already have been, I think you have still managed to represent it badly in the way you have approached this.

                I appreciated the opportunity to respond to some important issues however I will not entertain this engagement any further.
                (This commentator has been placed in moderation)

            2. The Taiwanese sample tender is here
              http://web.pcc.gov.tw/tps/tpam/main/tps/tpam/tpam_tender_detail.do?lang=eng&searchMode=eng&scope=F&primaryKey=51520579
              It says:

              The scope includes transport casks delivery, loading used fuel into the casks, transport and shipment of the loaded transport casks, reprocessing of the used fuel, management and retransfer of the materials arising from the reprocessing of the used fuel.

              However as reported here in Nucleonics Week (February 19 2015) Taipower nuclear program spokesman Frank Lin Der-fwu “confirmed that uranium and plutonium obtained from the reprocessing would not be returned to Taiwan. However, Lin said that after about 20 years, the remaining material would be reduced in volume by 80 percent and shipped back to Taiwan and, in the future, disposed together with other high-level radioactive waste”.
              That is reiterated here http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/country-profiles/others/nuclear-power-in-taiwan/ and discussed in more detail here http://fissilematerials.org/blog/2015/03/taiwan_tenders_spent_fuel.html where it states “Under the terms of the U.S.-Taiwan agreement, and the proposed contract, only resulting designated nuclear waste is to be returned to Taiwan, with all plutonium and uranium separated at the reprocessing plant to be retained in the reprocessing state”.

              You said:
              “Taiwan was trying to pay for reprocessing. They would retain ownership of the 80% of material as reprocessed fuel”.
              That’s incorrect. The material for which they would retain responsibility would be reduced by in volume by 80 percent, as per the first reference.
              “Your own comments give the value of that fuel at $3,000,000 a tonne if they could find a buyer”
              That is a market price for fully fabricated nuclear fuel rods. There is no proposal for fabricating fuel rods. Please see the sample tender.
              “They were going to pay $1,500,000 a tonne for the service – so it was potentially a net *positive* investment”.
              No, it wasn’t. They were not to be returned the material of value, only the conditioned waste products, and they were not going to be returned a highly value added product of a fabricated nuclear fuel rod
              “The waste produced was to be returned, not stored”. Correct, with the emphasis on the waste: true, conditioned, vitrified waste similar to that Australia will soon receive, with no further purpose. This is not usable as fuel material.
              “And finally, the Taiwan government pulled the tender. It’s been cancelled”.
              Yes and it remains an unserved market with a high level of need. Please see the third link.

              1. Retained *in* the processing state, not *by* it. From your own links:

                On the basis that AREVA secures the contract with Taiwan, Taipower will remain the owner of the spent fuel as well as conditioned materials. … Taipower shall transfer ownership of the plutonium within ten years, and the final solution for the plutonium “in a third party civilian reactors'”

                Use in third party reactors. Not (necessarily) by France. They have 10 years to sell the stuff, or otherwise transfer ownership.

                They can’t get the fuel back because the US doesn’t trust them with proliferation risks. They’re only getting the waste back (that’s the 80% reduced volume: 20% is returned as waste). But they retain ownership of the fuel, even if they’re not allowed to use it themselves.

                Given that it’s to be used in third party reactors, don’t you think fuel rods might be on the table at some point? Even if the tender didn’t pay for that stage, a buyer of MOX would only have to knock Marcoule’s processing fees off whatever they’d offer to Taiwan. In other words, even if they weren’t getting fuel rods made for the price, Taiwan would surely have an expectation to recoup a sizable portion on their outlay by selling the MOX.

                And again, my point is that this is an entirely different process to the one you propose. It’s not comparable to the service you intend to offer. It’s completely different. It’s apples to oranges.

                1. Fuel rods on the table at some point? Eventually yes. However France already has a great deal more of this material than they know what to do with and not enough capacity.

                  Recoup a sizeable portion of their outlay by selling the MOx? No. To whom? As above, they would have to get in line; France has plenty to work through; not everyone in the world uses or wants MOx; there is no shortage of mined uranium nor capacity in conversion, enrichment or fabrication of uranium fuel rods at this time.

                  I see what you are saying: it’s a different service. However check the full range of the information, and the challenges Taiwan has and we can see what they are actually buying: relief by getting rid of material for which they are running out of room. It happens the reprocessing option is the only way open to them. The ownership etc of the material is a necessary part of the contract. But it’s not the issue.

                  This market is a curious beast whereby lots of money is to be made by accepting material with enormous potential future value. However that IS the market. Taiwan is not really interested in new MOx fuel rods in future, for themselves or to sell to others. They are interested in maintaining a domestic nuclear energy sector because the transition to fossil fuel imports would hurt economically in a huge way, as per the Japanese experience. That’s their position. The price of the contract represents a willingness to pay for that outcome. We will provide that outcome, even better: we would manage the disposal and give them no take back obligation. Hence we applied that price as the upper end of our range for modelling scenarios.

                  1. Well yeah, but don’t you think the urgency itself is worth a premium? As soon as you’ve taken reactor-lifespan amounts out of storage, that premium reduces to zero. Taipower was only looking to extend those reactors by a few years. Jinshan’s due to be decommissioned in 2019, and Guasheng in ’23. Surely they only need to urgently clear enough space to last ’till then?

                    Also, from: http://www.world-nuclear.org/World-Nuclear-Association/Publications/Weekly-Digest/Archive/Archive-2015/
                    The USA has agreed to the used fuel being transported overseas for reprocessing, though the agreement specifies that all fissionable material will remain with the reprocessor with a view to being sold rather than repatriated.

                    So someone expects to sell it. However realistic you and I may think that plan is, you’ve got to account for their expected return in the price they were willing to pay.

                    And finally, again, Taiwan pulled the tender. It’s under parliamentary budget review. So someone thought that was too much to spend, too. Maybe they agreed with you that they wouldn’t sell the material?

                    It’s a different situation, for a different service, and it didn’t happen anyway.

                  2. The tender was a first step of an intended much larger program, so urgency premium? Yes I accept that premise, have certainly considered that however that’s far from certain. That’s a strong case against this figure as the mid-point of the range, which it isn’t.

                    Taiwan would want to contine long-term with nuclear as previously explained.

                    I wager neither of us knows the ins and outs of the tender within Taiwanese government.

                    I have explained why the service element of our model is the same or better for Taiwan. Shan’t repeat.

                    The figure was the upper-bound for the purposes of modeling and the reasoning is sound for that purpose.

                    We have exhausted this. You have challenged, tabled your reasoning. I don’t find your reasoning compelling.

                  3. But you claimed I was ignorant about the Taiwan tender….

                    [remainder of this comment deleted because I can no longer be bothered]

                    Dan, we are now finished.

                    This is another very long comment. It seems mainly full of your own questions about how the nuclear industry works which I have been patiently trying to answer. While that’s interesting for me, it’s not actually my job to educate researchers in other organisations. I really don’t mean to be rude but that’s what this is feeling like.

                    Assuming you check the email address attached to this commenting account (the once called smellyterror) please read the email from me, Tuesday 28 August 2015. I would appreciate a response.

                    If I have been consistently misreading your tone, ok. We have, after all, never met. Please understand from my POV that while answering questions about this submission is important, I am VERY busy and this is taking a lot of my time.

                    Other parties have submitted inquiries in a straightforward way, in writing. Please feel free to do the same and I can provide a response in due course.

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