Below is the experience from the European union of retail cost of electricity in all member nations from the year 2019, the last year to make any meaningful analysis, Covid and the Ukraine war has made worthless any newer analysis.
This slide tells it best. The real cost for Solar and Wind electricity is 5.7 times that of the average of coal, gas, nuclear and hydro-electric power. The real reason is that you still need all the generating power for when the wind doesn’t blow enough or too much, and the sun doesn’t shine, which is most of the time. In addition, solar panels and windmills require mining of rare earth metals, and are as such highly mining intensive. Then there is the cost of disposal, which has already begun for first generation wind mills and solar panels.
The solution is simple: Do not buy any more solar panels from China! Let them use them themselves, they may then only have to build a thousand new dirty lignite coal fired power plants instead of 1171 between now and 2030
The other inflationary thing is the rising cost of Lithium and rare earth metals. In 2020 the price of LiCO2 was around 40,000 yuan/ton (yes, Lithium and rare earth metals are traded in Chinese currency). The price since then has more than twelve-folded and is now close to half a million yuan/ton.
China produces three-quarters of all lithium-ion batteries and is home to 70% of production capacity for cathodes and 85% for anodes (both are key components of batteries).
Over half of lithium, cobalt and graphite processing and refining capacity is also located in China. The U.S has a high quality rare earth metal mine in Mountain Pass, CA.,
but the refining is done in China. In June 2022 Amarillo, Texas had a groundbreaking ceremony for a rare earth metals refinery, so refining capacity will finally return to the U.S. See more here. Below is a chart of the worldwide mining of rare earth metals. Notice the prominent role Myanmar plays in rare earth metals. China is positioning itself to dominate Myanmar for their metals and to build an oil import pipeline to avoid the Malacca strait choke point.
In 2016, Hunter Biden’s Bohai Harvest RST invested in China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. (CATL), the world’s largest lithium ion battery producer.
Remember this every time you hear Joe Biden talk about Green new deal and electric vehicles.
So, my suggestion is simple: Do not buy any solar panels from China, let them install them in China at 4.7 times the price of coal power. this is a much cleaner global investment. China was planning to build 1171 new coal plants polluting more than our clean coal could ever do. Likewise do not buy any more wind mill generators from China, let them install them in China. Wait to promote electric vehicles until the grid is built up to handle the additional demand for electricity.
This would save about 430 billion dollars from the inflation reduction act. What can we do instead and achieve an even better outcome? Check this video.
What shall be done? Congress must immediately pass SB4242. Ten years ago I made the same observation, see here. At that time there was 1400 kg U-233 remaining at Oak Ridge. A ton has been downblended since then. It is late, but not too late to save the rest. Here is a very illuminating video:
I agree totally with this video. Molten salt Thorium reactors can produce electricity for less than 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, comparable to coal and five times less than wind and solar when mass produced as SMR’s (small Modular Reactors. ) A 100 MW reactor can be built on an assembly line, and the vital parts can be shipped in 3 standard containers over road. They require much less mining to produce than the corresponding windmills and solar panels, and Thorium is already mined as a byproduct of mining rare earth metals. The only cost is therefore the cost of extracting the Thorium.
How is China dealing with Thorium nuclear power? They recently approved starting up their own molten Salt reactor, (source here.
In January 2011, CAS launched a CNY3 billion (USD444 million) R&D programme on liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs), known there as the thorium-breeding molten-salt reactor (Th-MSR or TMSR), and claimed to have the world’s largest national effort on it, hoping to obtain full intellectual property rights on the technology. This is also known as the fluoride salt-cooled high-temperature reactor (FHR). The TMSR Centre at SINAP at Jiading, Shanghai, is responsible.
Construction of the 2 MWt TMSR-LF1 reactor began in September 2018 and was reportedly completed in August 2021. The prototype was scheduled to be completed in 2024, but work was accelerated.
“According to the relevant provisions of the Nuclear Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China and the Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on the Safety Supervision and Administration of Civilian Nuclear Facilities, our bureau has conducted a technical review of the application documents you submitted, and believes that your 2 MWt liquid fuel thorium-based molten salt experimental reactor commissioning plan (Version V1.3) is acceptable and is hereby approved,” the Ministry of Ecology and Environment told SINAP on 2 August.
It added: “During the commissioning process of your 2 MWt liquid fuel thorium-based molten salt experimental reactor, you should strictly implement this plan to ensure the effectiveness of the implementation of the plan and ensure the safety and quality of debugging. If any major abnormality occurs during the commissioning process, it should be reported to our bureau and the Northwest Nuclear and Radiation Safety Supervision Station in time.”
The TMSR-LF1 will use fuel enriched to under 20% U-235, have a thorium inventory of about 50 kg and conversion ratio of about 0.1. A fertile blanket of lithium-beryllium fluoride (FLiBe) with 99.95% Li-7 will be used, and fuel as UF4.
The project is expected to start on a batch basis with some online refueling and removal of gaseous fission products, but discharging all fuel salt after 5-8 years for reprocessing and separation of fission products and minor actinides for storage. It will proceed to a continuous process of recycling salt, uranium and thorium, with online separation of fission products and minor actinides. The reactor will work up from about 20% thorium fission to about 80%.
If the TMSR-LF1 proves successful, China plans to build a reactor with a capacity of 373 MWt by 2030.
As this type of reactor does not require water for cooling, it will be able to operate in desert regions. The Chinese government has plans to build more across the sparsely populated deserts and plains of western China, complementing wind and solar plants and reducing China’s reliance on coal-fired power stations. The reactor may also be built outside China in Belt and Road Initiative nations.
The liquid fuel design is descended from the 1960s Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA.
Researched and written by World Nuclear News.
As of yet China does not have any U233, so they have to use U235 as a start fuel. This will produce PU239 as well as U233, so the separation step is far more complicated. The U.S. still have 450 kg of U233, so the separation step can be made clean, and we can make a clean, breeding reactor with 0,01 % of the nuclear waste if conventional reactors.
The conversion of Thorium 232 to Uranium 233, leading to fission looks like this:
To remain pure, the protactinium mist be separated from the neutron bombarding environment as soon after it is generated as possible to avoid it to be transfered to U 234, which is non fissible, but radioactive. The breeding coefficient is 1.03, which means that 3% more U233 is generated than consumed. The half-life of the Protactinium is 27 days, so it will take up to 900 days for the U233 to double, which is two and a half years.
There is no time to spare. Pass SB4242 immediately, build a clean Molten salt Thorium reactor as soon as possible, remove Thorium as a source material and streamline the permit process so permits can be issued in weeks instead of years.
The thorium energy is the future clean energy until fusion is perfected, not solar panels or windmills, which do far more damage to the environment than Thorium nuclear plants!