I have a question about nuclear power?

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A friend of mine told me that the power grid could only take a 25% hit before it started to have problems. This guy supposedly did some homework on the subject. I am also told that the nuclear power plants produce around 30% of the power??? Can anyone verify this information or give me more information to better understand the situation. Thanks Tman

-- Tman (Tman@IBAgeek.com), March 07, 1999


Have you been to the euy2k site (Electric utilities and the year 2000)? They have a bunch of info and a forum with many sharp people. I was there last week and had an answer to a fairly complex question in a few hours. <:)=

euy2k.com - The Newsroom

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), March 07, 1999.


The 25% figure is too vague to confirm. First, I assume you are talking about a loss of generating capacity, not loss of T/D (load). A lot depends on the geographic distribution of the outages, and season of the year; a bitter cold snap in winter or hot spell in summer decrease the margin between capacity and demand.

I believe the 30% figure for nuke capacity is in the ballpark, maybe 35%. But location is a factor here as well. 40% of east coast power is nuke. FWIW.

-- Elbow Grease (Elbow_Grease@AutoShop.com), March 08, 1999.

Tman.....missed seeing your posts last few days. Welcome back In answer to your question, i don't think anyone knows exactly how big a hit the grid in any one area can withstand. We belong to R. Kelly's Upstate 2000 group and Duke Power gave a talk last Thursday. Talk about a slick talking PR man!!! Said a lot--and didn't say anything. The state of SC gets about 40% of it's power from nuclear plants. The rest comes from fossil fuels. All of the Hydro plants were shut down a long time ago as the cost of keeping up old outdated equipment was prohibitive. GN has some interesting info on his site specific to the grid. Of course it has a slant to it but the facts are pretty straight as far as I have been able to research. The information I have been able to find indicates that 20-25% is a realistic figure for causing major problems--trouble is, I can't verify that anywhere. I DO know that the NERC site is a lot of very powerful smoke and mirrors. I spent a lot of time over there and came away more confused than at the start.

Got candles?

-- Lobo (Hiding@woods.com), March 08, 1999.

Vague, but ballpark right. Go to one of the main electricity supply sites (below) to clue yourself up.

I suspect that the 25% may represent overcapacity under normal circumstances; the plant that the grid has available to cope with the extraordinary, such as freak weather or unanticipated failures. So if 25% of generating plant goes, there will have to be some sort of power rationing.


Rick Cowles euy2k

Dick Mills

Nuclear percentage varies depending on where you live; I've seen higher figures for Chicago area and France, whereas in other places it's near to zero. 30% is probably something like the average for the whole USA.

-- Nigel Arnot (nra@maxwell.ph.kcl.ac.uk), March 08, 1999.

Reserve capacity (all sources) will vary by region and time of year - for example, the Wisconsin area this summer expects to "improve" its reserve capacity to 21% - above the legistlative requirement of 19% margin, and far above the actual margin of less than 15% that happened last summer. (See thread on WI power)

In winter, when all thermal plants are slightly more efficient becuase ambient temperatures are lower, and when electric usage is reduced (less A/C loads, about the same industrial loads, less construction loads, about the same commercial loads) - then margins are actually higher. Without knowing exactly the area and time of year, you can assume about anything between 20% and 30% and not be incredibly wrong.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), March 08, 1999.

Robert, can you or anyone out there provide a link to "WI power" thread you mentioned? I can't find it.

Gosh, this site is becoming so incredibly dense, I keep wondering if it would be possible to set up a search engine here. Is it? I know know nothing of the technical issues around that. But sure think it would be valuable.

-- cat (ccordes@scruznet.com), March 08, 1999.

I think this is the Link you want. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), March 08, 1999.

Thanks, Sysman. Geez you're reliable. Such a valuable trait in a rapidly disintegrating world.

-- cat (ccordes@scruznet.com), March 08, 1999.

What's your problem, Nigel?

I didn't say "vague but ballpark" at all. There are two percentages Tman wanted verified; one was vague because one needs to know 25% of what? "Normal Overcapacity" in spring/fall is not "normal" for summer/winter, *as I stated.* So if, as one might assume, the question concerns the rollover time frame, we are talking about winter, where overcapacity nationwide is 10 - 15% at best. The margin is smaller in summer. Also vague is the phrase "before it started to have problems." The grid will "start" to have problems even before max generating capacity is reached. Power companies implement other strategies first before resorting to shedding load.

The 30% figure for nuke capacity, on the other hand, is close enough, or in the ballpark. And if Tman is implying that shutting down all the nukes will cause problems for the grid, I'd agree. Clear enough, old boy?

-- Elbow Grease (Elbow_Grease@AutoShop.com), March 08, 1999.

Yes this is exactly what I am talking about. Could the power grid on an average handle a 30% power loss? Let's say because the nukes are down, would the grid still hold up? I ask this question because I live on the West Coast and a small squirrel crashed the western grid in some places for up to 24 hours. Yes it would also depend on the demand of power however I am looking for an average. PS. I have been painting my house(what a drag) so I have not had a chance to use the Net. Soon my house will go on the market.

-- Tman (Tman@IBAgeek.com), March 08, 1999.

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