Part of an exchange on the e-List Ionizing Radiation Affacionadi:
Between issuing the first new USA nuclear power plant licenses since 1978, and the startup of any of these plants, there exist potential barriers that have proven effective many times in the past in preventing the startup of a new nuclear plant: massive construction cost overruns, and the increasingly unenthusiastic investors who react to the eventual disclosure of massive overruns.
These barriers are entirely independent of a poorly informed public, or assaults by anti-nuclear activist-ideologues.
The bottom line, figuratively and literally, is the willingness of investors to support the long and hyperexpensive construction process for several years. When, for any reason, sufficient capital ceases to fertilize the plant project, the plant dies, or begins to thrash around in an unfocused investment market that may involve bankruptcy and reorganization, or quick and bargain-basement sale to other entities.
There is also an ever-changing "weather" to nuclear power: The fluctuating regional market price of electricity generated by non-nuclear means. If it becomes significantly cheaper than the price the new nuclear plant would sell watts for, a collapse in demand for more expensive watts can kill the project.
Every new plant needs the blessings of the NRC and the federal authorities above it.
But they dwarf in significance compared to the blessings of Wall Street. When investors try to prophesy what their profits will be over the next 5 or 10 years, a historical absence of clear and accurate investment prophesy on billion-dollar-plus nuclear plant constructions can significantly dampen investor enthusiasm.
In the USA, the benchmark investment meltdown is (Wikipedia:)
The Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant was a completed General Electric nuclear boiling water reactor located adjacent to the Long Island Sound in East Shoreham, New York. The plant was built between 1973 and 1984 by the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO), but never operated.
Eventually, LILCO sold the completed Shoreham plant to the state of New York for $1, and efforts were made to retro-convert the plant to a coal-burning generation facility -- with what success or investor satisfaction I don't know.
This list has been one of the Internet's most detailed and accurate chronicles of almost all aspects of the Fukushima incident. But one phenomenon this list has not discussed or "monitored" has been the behavior of the investment and capital market in the nuclear power industry for the decade before and the 11 months since Fukushima (commenced 11 March 2011). Surely this curve must be as interesting, significant and informative as ionizing radiation levels before and since Fukushima.
All investment takes and accepts risk, and runs the risk of partial or complete loss.
But some games in the casino are riskier and more volatile than others. (Best: blackjack. Worst: slots.)
One of the most stable and carefully monitored industries -- accurate government records date to at least the 18th century -- is Death, so in theory, investing in Death Futures should be the gold standard of stable prediction and investments.
About ten years ago, Canada's largest chain of funeral homes suddenly and without warning went bankrupt because of a freakishly mild winter. The vulnerable and the old die in usually predictable numbers during the stress of winter, and the funeral home chain had, as it always had, made its operating and purchasing plans on this known fact. When Canadians failed to die in the predicted numbers, the entire chain collapsed.
There's also a new "player" in town who wasn't playing the stock market the last time lots of nuclear plants were licensed and built in Western capitalist nations.
A huge amount of investing is now the result not of what humans think is a good bet, but is placed by computer programs, whose decisions to buy or dump huge blocks are triggered (within a hundredth of a second) by the behavior of dozens of fluctuating market conditions. This is called Programmed Trading. So a great deal of the behavior of the investment market results from the behavior of non-human intelligence. (We seem to be naturally and instinctively greedy; computers must be specifically instructed to try to make profit.) It's unlikely human investors can prophesy how computer programs will support the construction and eventual startup of a newly licensed nuclear power plant with much accuracy.
Bob / Massachusetts USA
----- Original Message -----From: bcer_ehSent: Wednesday, February 08, 2012 9:05 PMSubject: [GeigerCounterEnthusiasts] Re: 2 new nuclear plants in Georgia USA
You Americans. It wasn't mindless CNN drones that destroyed
chernobyl or Fukushima to prove that nuclear energy is not safe. It was highly-trained, highly-paid nuclear engineers. Not only did they prove that reactors are unsafe, they threatened the lives of millions of people and polluted the air and oceans.
Paranoia results in crazy thinking and bad decisions, not watching TV.
--- In GeigerCounterEnthusiasts@yahoogroups.com, "jp2cbyou"
> Even if CNN is correct, and one is fully approved; it will be cancelled now because CNN informed their army of mindless drones followers. Expect P.I.T.A and N.A.M.B.L.A and the like crazies to show up at the construction site wearing suicide bomb vest to kill contractors and destroy equipment. Perhaps they will wait until the reactor is online to destroy it to prove nuclear energy is not safe. That is how they think.