The conflict over energy production has been taken to a new level with what is now unfolding in the Vossen case.
The Supreme Court believes that Norway’s largest wind farm violates human rights, and many seem to believe that there is no other way than to demolish parts – or all of them – of wind farms.
If Storheia and Roan parks fail, 1.9 TWh of wind energy production will disappear. That’s about three times what it is at the Alta Power Plant.
The Energy Authority believes that 10 TWh of new wind capacity should be built on land by 2030. According to Energy Minister Terje Asland You’d need 350 square kilometers — more than four times the size of Füssen’s two gardens — to make it happen. If existing wind farms are removed, the need will be even greater.
There is little sign that this will happen without conflict in Norway.
Also read: Would you rather have nuclear power than wind power: – The whole energy policy is a mess!
around the area
In the debate surrounding renewable energy, the idea of land area used for various forms of energy production often gets lost.
Vossen’s struggle illustrates how difficult the trade-off between the need for more electricity and natural intervention can be.
That’s what CEO Johnny Heisthammer says at Norsk Kjernekraft AS, a company whose goal is to produce nuclear power in Norway within ten years.
The company wants to use a new type of smaller reactor (SMR – Small Modular Reactor) which is now completely in the starting pit. Recently, NuScale’s design was approved in the United States, and GE Hitachi has already begun obtaining contracts for its design.
Norsk Kjernekraft has done some calculations, first posted on Facebook, that show the difference in land use between wind power and new nuclear power plants:
|Wind farm facilities and submarines:||SMR from GE HITACHI (BWRX-300):|
|151 turbines||1 turbine|
|129 km construction road||1 km construction road|
|82 square kilometers planned area||0.05 sq km area requirement (170x280m)|
|1.9 TWh annual electricity production, depending on the weather||2.6 TWh of continuous annual electricity production|
– It seems a bit surreal
The wind farms in the Vossen conflict thus have a plot area 1,640 times greater than that required for a small reactor (SMR). SMR saves more than a third of electricity compared to wind farms and delivers year-round, not just when it’s windy, Hesthammer says.
Read also: Støre Aasland’s “interrogation” about nuclear energy
– And then it’s a bit surreal when top politicians, including Terry Asland, say, “We don’t need nuclear because we have so many alternatives.” Maybe it’s time to reconsider? he asks rhetorically.
Getting new nuclear power isn’t going to happen this side of 2030, but Hesthammer thinks there’s a good case for starting now:
– If we don’t start now, the government risks many “Füssen cases” in the years to come.
Currently, there are no such reactors
The reactors Norsk Kjernkraft wants to use in Norway are of a very different type than those we traditionally associate with nuclear power.
This is a much smaller facility. Reactors are mass-produced in a factory to reduce costs, and the idea is that you almost buy a standard, ready-built plant for a fixed price.
But as of today, there is no such serial production.
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– How far can you be sure that this will actually be available, and at a scale that will allow you to get economies of scale from it?
– GE Hitachi is developing the BWRX-300. It is a light water reactor and X means this is the tenth generation of boiling water reactors. It’s not a new technology for this SMR, then, says Hesthammer.
It’s the same type of reactor that NuScale recently gained approval in the US, but with much more power.
– The Polish state-owned oil company PKN Orlen has entered into a partnership with GE Hitachi, and they are so forward-looking that they want to build 79 SMRs of the GE Hitachi type by 2038. Then there will quickly be economies of scale. Extensive collaboration is also underway to develop common regulations on the Standard Minimum Rules (SMR) so that it is easier for countries to implement them when they are ready.
Also read: The Energy Authority rejects nuclear power in Norway now: – Embarrassing and disappointing
– There is a lot of talk about Norway’s lack of expertise that it needs to build for nuclear power. SMR is something new by definition and doesn’t have much experience. What specifically needs to be applied in terms of personnel and legislation to be able to operate the first SMR?
– GE Hitachi and Rolls-Royce are responsible for building SMRs, so Norway doesn’t need much building experience. We need operational experience, but you don’t need to be a nuclear physicist to operate an SMR. Hesthammer believes it would be entirely possible to train engineers who currently operate oil rigs to operate small, modular nuclear power plants.
– In general, I think that blaming a lack of competence is an exaggerated counterargument. After all, Norway offered to lead the work on nuclear safety in Ukraine and contribute to the maintenance and equipment of nuclear power plants in the war-torn country. We have more experience than many people think. However, we need to educate more people, and then we can learn from Poland, where PKN Orlen has started cooperation with universities.
In the fall, he notes, UiO will launch a new educational program related to nuclear energy.
Also read: This is why the government says categorically no to building nuclear power in Norway
Cost is one of the biggest jokes in the nuclear power debate. There have been many terrifying examples of massive cost overruns in, among others, England and Finland in giant conventional power plants.
The price per kWh for standard nuclear power isn’t impressively low either. NuScale has talked about prices over NOK 1 per kWh for the first reactors. Compared to today’s prices, they are not very high, but in a historical context they are very expensive.
On the other hand, Hesthammer believes there are a lot of misunderstandings circulating.
– When it comes to costs, it is true that the first will be more expensive (the first of its kind), while the next will be cheaper (the first of its kind). Suppliers are well aware of this, and it makes sense for Norsk Kjernekraft not to buy the first product (we wouldn’t be able to do that anyway), says Hesthammer.
He says they assume that building GE Hitachi’s first SMR will cost nine billion kroner. This would produce 300 megawatts of energy – or theoretically 2.6 TWh per year. This results in an approximate cost. 30,000 NOK per kilowatt.
– I saw on NRK yesterday that Storheia / Roan cost six billion to build just under 600 MW. This means approx. The installed capacity is NOK 10,000/kW. But a nuclear power plant lasts three times as long, has a much more than twice as long runtime (95% vs. roughly 40%), and produces electricity one third more. Plus, there are no integration and system costs for consumers, he says.
As is well known, the challenge with wind power is that it sometimes produces too much, and that it doesn’t necessarily blow when you need the electricity. This means that you should always have a backup – usually called system costs.
However, Hestemar recognizes that capital costs are important:
Income in the distant future is worth less than money today. It therefore becomes important to specify the terms of the loan used as a basis (or the condition of return for the investors). Norsk Kjernekraft believes the first SMR installed will be able to provide electricity for around 60 øre/kWh, but costs will be lower as more are installed.
According to Heathhammer, many of the most stringent estimates of nuclear energy costs are based on very high estimates of capital costs.
– Then they use capital costs of $6,000/kW, which is double what we’re starting from, and these capital costs can be obtained by just looking at the most expensive nuclear power plants in the world. However, it does not reflect the average in the world. Studies show that it is very important how complete the design is at the start of construction
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