Nuclear power plant

Learn more about Nuclear power plant

Jump to: navigation, search
Image:Nuclear Power Plant 2.jpg
A nuclear power station. The nuclear reactor is contained inside the cylindrical containment buildings to the right - left is a cooling tower venting water vapor from the Non-Radioactive side of the plant.
Main article: Nuclear power

A nuclear power plant (NPP) is a thermal power station in which the heat source is one or more nuclear reactors.

Nuclear power plants are base load stations, which work best when the power output is constant (although boiling water reactors can come down to half power at night). Their units range in power from about 40 MWe to over 1200 MWe. New units under construction in 2005 are typically in the range 600-1200 MWe. The 1600MW PWR FIN5 reactor being built in Olkiluoto, Finland, will be the largest in the world. The project is led by Areva while Siemens will deliver the reactor. FIN5 will not be ready for commercial operation until the second quarter of 2010. <ref> "Finn atom project a year late," Gerard O'Dwyer, Utility Week, Sutton: Jul 21, 2006, Vol.25, Iss. 21; pg. 11. </ref>

As of 2006 there are 442 licensed nuclear power reactors in operation in the world <ref>NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS INFORMATION, by IAEA, 15/06/2005</ref>, operating in 31 different countries <ref name="UIC">World NUCLEAR POWER REACTORS 2005-06, 15/08/2006, Australian Uranium Information Centre</ref>. Together they produce about 17% of the world's electric power.

(According to the above references, the U.S., France, and Japan together account for 49% of all nuclear power plants and 57% of all nuclear generated electricty.)


[edit] History

Image:Chp controlroom.jpg
The control room at a U.S. nuclear power plant.

Electricity was generated for the first time by a nuclear reactor on December 20, 1951 at the EBR-I experimental station near Arco, Idaho in the United States. On June 27, 1954, the world's first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid started operations at Obninsk, USSR <ref>World Nuclear Association, Nuclear Power in Russia, June 2006</ref>. The world's first commercial scale power station, Calder Hall in England opened in October 17, 1956. <ref>1956: Queen switches on nuclear power, BBC, 17/10/2005</ref>.

For more history, see nuclear reactor and nuclear power.
For information on the Chernobyl accident which did not have a containment building, see that subject and RBMK and nuclear power.

[edit] Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages of nuclear power plants against other mainstream energy resources are:

  • No greenhouse gas emissions (during normal operation) - greenhouse gases are emitted only when the Emergency Diesel Generators are tested (the processes of uranium mining and of building and decommissioning power stations produce relatively small amounts)
  • Does not pollute the air - zero production of dangerous and polluting gases such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, aerosols, mercury, nitrogen oxides, particulates or photochemical smog
  • Small solid waste generation (during normal operation)
  • Low fuel costs - because so little fuel is needed
  • Large fuel reserves - (e.g., in Canada and Australia) again, because so little fuel is needed
  • Nuclear Batteries - (see SSTAR)

Disadvantages include:

  • Risk of major accidents - an example of the worst possible situation is what happened to Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (which did not have a conventional containment building)
  • Nuclear waste - high level radioactive waste produced can remain dangerous for thousands of years if not reprocessed.
  • Can help produce bombs - all designs of reactor can produce plutonium, aiding nuclear proliferation (see Magnox)
  • High initial costs
  • High maintenance costs
  • Security concerns
  • High cost of decommissioning plants
  • Thermal pollution (although all power plants emit thermal pollution)

Nuclear power is highly controversial, enough so that the building of new commercial nuclear power plants has ceased - at least temporarily - in the U.S. and most of Western Europe. (As of 2006, new nuclear power plants are under construction in several Asian countries, as well as in Argentina, Russia, Finland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Romania. In the U.S., a consortium of six major companies is planning construction of a new nuclear power plant, which would be the first since the 1970s.) <ref name="UIC"/>, <ref>Nuclear power plants in Europe, by the European Nuclear Society, 10/05/2006</ref>, <ref>Stronger Future for Nuclear Power, Physic, February 2006</ref> Almost all the advantages and disadvantages of commercial nuclear power are disputed in some degree by the advocates for and against nuclear power.

The cost benefits of nuclear power are also in dispute. It is generally agreed that the capital costs of nuclear power are high and the cost of the necessary fuel is low compared to other fuel sources. Proponents claim that nuclear power has low running costs, opponents claim that the numerous safety systems required significantly increased running costs.

Disposal of spent fuel and other nuclear waste is claimed by some as an advantage of nuclear power, claiming that the waste is small in quantity compared to that generated by competing technologies, and the cost of disposal small compared to the value of the power produced. Others list it as a disadvantage, claiming that the environment cannot be adequately protected from the risk of future leakages from long-term storage.

[edit] Accident indemnification

The Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage puts in place an international framework for nuclear liability <ref>Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage, IAEA, 12/11/1977</ref>. However states with a majority of the world's nuclear power plants, including the U.S., Russia, China and Japan, are not party to international nuclear liability conventions.

In the U.S., insurance for nuclear or radiological incidents is covered (for facilities licensed through 2025) by the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act.

Per the Energy policy of the United Kingdom through its Nuclear Installations Act of 1965, liability is governed for nuclear damage for which a UK nuclear licensee is responsible. The Act requires compensation to be paid for damage up to a limit of £150 million by the liable operator for ten years after the incident. Between ten and thirty years afterwards, the Government meets this obligation. The Government is also liable for additional limited cross-border liability (about £300 million) under international conventions (Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy and Brussels Convention supplementary to the Paris Convention). <ref>Nuclear section of the UK Department of Trade & Industry's website</ref>

[edit] In popular culture

In The Simpsons cartoon series, Homer Simpson is an employee of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. In the episode "Homer Defined", Homer falls asleep and nearly causes a meltdown at the plant. (Actual plants are operated differently.)

On the fourth season of the television show 24, Habib Marwan (and his associates) attempt to hijack and melt down every nuclear reactor in the United States, but all stay stable except one.

The 1979 movie "The China Syndrome" features an accident and implied core meltdown at a nuclear power plant.

[edit] References

<references />

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

}"> |
}}v  d  e</div>
Nuclear Technology
Nuclear engineering Nuclear physics | Nuclear fission | Nuclear fusion | Radiation | Ionizing radiation | Atomic nucleus | Nuclear reactor | Nuclear safety
Nuclear material Nuclear fuel | Fertile material | Thorium | Uranium | Enriched uranium | Depleted uranium | Plutonium
Nuclear power Nuclear power plant | Radioactive waste | Fusion power | Future energy development | Inertial fusion power plant | Pressurized water reactor | Boiling water reactor | Generation IV reactor | Fast breeder reactor | Fast neutron reactor | Magnox reactor | Advanced gas-cooled reactor | Gas cooled fast reactor | Molten salt reactor | Liquid metal cooled reactor | Lead cooled fast reactor | Sodium-cooled fast reactor | Supercritical water reactor | Very high temperature reactor | Pebble bed reactor | Integral Fast Reactor | Nuclear propulsion | Nuclear thermal rocket | Radioisotope thermoelectric generator
Nuclear medicine PET | Radiation therapy | Tomotherapy | Proton therapy | Brachytherapy
Nuclear weapons History of nuclear weapons | Nuclear warfare | Nuclear arms race | Nuclear weapon design | Effects of nuclear explosions | Nuclear testing | Nuclear delivery | Nuclear proliferation | List of states with nuclear weapons | List of nuclear tests
ast:Central nuclear

bg:Атомна електрическа централа cs:Jaderná elektrárna da:Atomkraftværk de:Kernkraftwerk et:Tuumaelektrijaam es:Central nuclear eo:Nuklea centralo fa:نیروگاه هسته‌ای fr:Centrale nucléaire ko:원자력 발전소 id:PLTN it:Centrale nucleare lt:Atominė elektrinė nl:Kerncentrale ja:原子力発電所 no:Atomkraftverk nn:Atomkraftverk pl:Elektrownia atomowa pt:Central nuclear ru:Атомная электростанция sl:Jedrska elektrarna sv:Kärnkraftverk th:โรงไฟฟ้านิวเคลียร์ zh:核电站

Nuclear power plant

Personal tools
what is world wizzy?
  • World Wizzy is a static snapshot taken of Wikipedia in early 2007. It cannot be edited and is online for historic & educational purposes only.