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which is pertinent to the subject :

New report says there are five major areas of risk in putting money into new nuclear plants
According to a new report from the Energy Fair group (PDF), anyone considering investing in new nuclear plants faces five major areas of risk: market risk, cost risk, subsidy risk, political risk and construction risk.

By the time any new nuclear plant could be built in the UK (2020 or later), the market for its electricity will be disappearing, regardless of any possible increase in the overall demand for electricity. The tumbling cost of photovoltaics (PV) and the falling costs of other renewables, with the likely completion of the European internal market for electricity and the strengthening of the European transmission grid,
means that consumers, large and small, will be empowered to generate much of their own electricity or to buy it from anywhere in Europe -- and this without the need for subsidies. Explosive growth of PV is likely to take much of the profitable peak-time
market for electricity. And there will be stiff competition to fill in the gaps left by PV, from
a range of other sources, many of which are better suited to the gap-filling roll than is nuclear power.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 11:31:23 AM EST
Another solar prediction likely to be proven false.

The general point is true - the fact that nuclear installations operate on a 60 year operational timescale does make them financially very vulnerable to disruptive innovation in energy production (altough electricity prices would have to fall very far indeed before they get turned off on economic grounds. The marginal cost of keeping an extant reactor operating is insanely low.) heck, a superior nuclear reactor design could completely wreck your financial return.

But predicting distributed solar is going to be the killer? In europe? Nuh-hu. Kite gen. Large scale storage. Conventional wind. Solar imports from the sahara? Sure, I can see those pushing prices down. Solar panels on your roof?

Eh. No. Just not happening.

by Thomas on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 06:24:53 PM EST
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I tend to agree with you on this point, but how about if the marginal cost of PV roof tiles over normal roof tiles is 0.  That is, what happens if painting or whatever a reasonable efficiency PV costs no more than a similar no functional coating?  This is not completely unlikely, given the amount of research into thin film, organic, self-assembling PV coatings.  If you could get PV paint-in-a-can in a variety of colours with a similar life expectancy to normal paint, and get useful energy out I can see the price of PV electricity being very competitive.
by njh on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 11:34:56 PM EST
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This is actually quite likely to happen - Mass producing a rooftop tile with integral solar cells and slot-in connection with all neighbouring tiles is doable industrial engineering, and I dont see any inherent reason why this would be that much more expensive to put up than a conventional roof. Which would make them universal on new build and renovations where the roof needs replacing regardless. Retrofits..
Ever had to have a roof replaced? Not cheap. Not cheap at all. So this would scale up very, very slowly as roofs are replaced at the natural rate.
by Thomas on Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 10:36:57 AM EST
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It probably depends on the expected life of the average roof.  European and Australian metal and tile roofs have 50+ year design lives.  American asphalt shingles have an expected 15 year life.
by njh on Sun Apr 1st, 2012 at 12:36:20 PM EST
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.. wait, what? 15 year design life is.. Not a house, that is a glorified cardboard box. You couldnt get away with building a summer cottage to standards that sloppy here.
by Thomas on Sun Apr 1st, 2012 at 05:26:53 PM EST
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Once in a while you should check electricity prices in the German market.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 03:10:25 AM EST
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This is very interesting indeed, though if PV kills the market, it will kill the market for itself too.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 05:40:57 AM EST
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by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 06:01:54 AM EST
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Declining prices make it hard to justify investment.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 06:03:44 AM EST
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Because we're going to stop wanting electricity?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 06:08:15 AM EST
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No, the point is that in the unlikely event that the fantasies of solar advocates come true, and the price of solar cells continues to freefall until solar + storage is significantly cheaper than coal, then everyone who built solar installations at all the intermediate price points before that are going to loose their financial investment.
by Thomas on Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 10:29:02 AM EST
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FiTs would offload this fiscal loss onto the treasury, but it would still exist.
by Thomas on Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 10:30:16 AM EST
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So you're saying we should nationalise the effort?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 10:31:41 AM EST
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But this is a case where the fiscal loss is exceeded by the gainful externalities: If nobody buys solar cells today, there will not be a cost reduction tomorrow.

A central assumption of post-Fordist economic doctrines is that you can separate research and development from the physical production. This is a conceit with no basis in reality: The assembly line is customer, testbed and laboratory for industrial engineering. Remove the assembly line, and you will lose the R&D capability within less than a generation.

Whether the assembly line is dismantled to be shipped to China or dismantled because of inadequate demand for the end product is, for this purpose, totally immaterial.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 02:34:22 PM EST
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