What’s Behind the US-Saudi Nuclear Mega-Deal?

Up to 16 nuclear power plants for civilian purposes? Really?

By Leonard Hyman and Bill Tilles for WOLF STREET:

Last week, the NY Times ran a front-page story on Saudi Arabia’s efforts to purchase nuclear fuel enrichment capabilities and as many as 16 nuclear power generating plants from the US. The principal concern expressed here was the Saudi’s insistence on ownership of nuclear fuel-enrichment technologies.

Typically, when the US has exported its reactor technology, it is accompanied by a fuel purchase agreement. We sell the fuel more or less as finished product. In the past, reluctance to export fuel-processing technology stemmed from concerns regarding proliferation of nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia does have domestic sources of uranium they could mine but they have also expressed the need to respond to a potential nuclear arms rivalry with Iran.

But this article omitted the most important point. The key question is what are the Saudi’s motives regarding construction of a vast number of nuclear power plants for supposedly civilian purposes? The answer is obvious. There is no earthly commercial or economic reason for them to produce those quantities of electricity in the proposed nuclear fashion.

We should also point out that the seemingly large number cited for these nuclear power plants, $80 billion, is understated by a factor of almost five. Sixteen Westinghouse-designed nuclear stations with two reactors apiece would cost roughly $30 billion apiece! And 16 such plants would cost $480 billion – not $80 billion.

This sounds to us more like a bribe. Sell us nuclear fuel-processing technology (which it appears they really want), and we promise to purchase a large number of extremely expensive power plants from the US (the need for which is presently unclear).

Major nuclear construction projects currently underway in the West, V.C. Summer in South Carolina, Plant Vogtle in Georgia, Hinkley Point in the UK, Flamanville in France and lastly Olkiluoto in Finland all have two things in common: They are all vastly over-budget as well as years behind schedule.

  • The V.C. Summer project in South Carolina was recently canceled in mid-construction due to its lack of economic viability (used the Westinghouse reactor design under discussion in the article).
  • The Plant Vogtle in Georgia (also using the Westinghouse reactor design under discussion in the article) has turned into an economic albatross for Southern Company’s Georgia Power subsidiary.
  • Hinkley Point in the UK has required huge government subsidies to continue and if completed will produce overly expensive power for decades.
  • The Moorside nuclear project in the UK was recently abandoned by its developer after incurring almost a half a billion dollars in costs.
  • The UK government is also negotiating a major subsidy-disguised-as-investment in the Wylfa nuclear plant to keep that project afloat.

There are cheaper and cleaner ways to produce electricity other than from nuclear energy. The sun shines and the wind blows even in oil-rich Saudi Arabia, does it not? The Times’ story states that nuclear arms competition with Iran is a Saudi concern. As a result, they are eager to also obtain nuclear fuel enrichment technology.

This article leaves us with two possibilities:

Either, that the electricity-needy Saudi kingdom is truly embarking on a nearly half-trillion-dollar endeavor to bring reliable, carbon free energy to its people and perhaps the region as well.

Or, that this is merely a cynical ploy to dangle an enormous contract in front of gullible Americans in order to obtain nuclear fuel enrichment technology. And we would bet that following the technology transfer currently under discussion, the actual number of US reactors eventually purchased will total one or two at most, not 16. Not that we’re cynical or anything.

In March of last year, Westinghouse’s corporate parent Toshiba filed Westinghouse into bankruptcy in the US. Westinghouse is now a subsidiary of Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management who, as corporate strategy, has been a purchaser of distressed utility and infrastructure properties. Perhaps the AP1000 reactor design will be a winner for them.

Although Westinghouse still retains a presence in Cranberry Township, PA, we wonder what President Trump will say when he learns Westinghouse is now owned by a Canadian company? By Leonard Hyman and Bill Tilles for WOLF STREET

For investors there is little clarity through the smoke and haze. Read…  Will PG&E Have to File for Bankruptcy Protection?  
 

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  77 comments for “What’s Behind the US-Saudi Nuclear Mega-Deal?

  1. Justme
    Nov 28, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    One motivation would be that oil and natgas is too valuable to waste on generating electric power.

    • char
      Nov 28, 2018 at 6:33 pm

      Solar per kwh is so much cheaper than nuclear that this sounds unlikely to be a reason.

      • Caliban
        Nov 28, 2018 at 11:46 pm

        Regardless of what one may have learned from the Mainstream Media, the truth is much different regarding energy subsidies.

        US Federal Government subsidies per barrel of energy equivalent produced in 2010 were as follows*:

        1. Coal: $0.36
        2. Oil & Gas: $0.45
        3. Hydro: $0.49
        4. Nuclear: $1.72
        5. Geothermal: $7.63
        6. Bio-mass/Fuel: $10.39
        7. Wind: $31.39
        8. Solar: $52.30

        In 2010 the Federal Government alone collected $9.01 per barrel of energy equivalent in oil company corporate taxes and excise taxes on retail sales of gasoline and diesel fuel. In essence, the vast tax revenues from sales of coal, oil & gas are what are keeping the renewables afloat economically. Kill coal, oil & gas and everything else will collapse.

        I last looked up this same information in early 2016 on the US Department of Energy Website. They had the figures for 2014 and the rankings were the same and the individual subsidy numbers had not changed appreciably. The 2017 subsidy numbers should also be available on the DOE site should anyone want to do the research.

        *Twenty-First Century Snake Oil, Captain. T. A. ‘Ike’ Kiefer, WICI Occasional Paper no. 4, January 2013, page 32

        • jimbob
          Nov 29, 2018 at 12:47 am

          where is corn ethanol?

        • fajensen
          Nov 29, 2018 at 3:16 am

          The US energy subsidies apply in Saudi Arabia? Interesting!

        • char
          Nov 29, 2018 at 6:40 pm

          Using 2010 numbers end 2018 is IMHO highly suspect. The price of solar and gas both have crashed compared to for instance 2008. Nor am i interested in road fuel tax intake which can with some difficulty be changed in a mile tax.
          Saudi Arabia is a country famous for being a big empty desert. That is an ideal place for cheap solar. They don’t have a high need demand. (no -40C like Canada) So a few days of batteries is more than enough so using nuclear reactors, which are 10x as expensive than solar if you believe the reactor sellers, sounds to me very fishy.

    • Dave
      Nov 29, 2018 at 12:57 pm

      Solar is cheaper than nuclear.
      Also, much quicker to come on-line.

      • Kallie
        Nov 30, 2018 at 3:00 pm

        But solar only provides power when the sun shines. Without storage it is not reliable. Even with storage it is not reliable enough to provide baseload. For an electricity network you need reliability.

        • char
          Dec 1, 2018 at 7:18 pm

          Reliable is it delivers electricity when it promises to deliver electricity. In a desert environment like Saudi Arabia and with the size of the country i would say that it is highly reliable for something like a month out. It still wont generate at night but a nuclear plant also needs to be refueled every 18 months or so. For the Saudi electricity network solar would be highly reliable

          ps. The problem with the baseload concept is that with baseload the electricity price is lowest when demand is lowest so time independent demand is shifted to nighttime so demand at 03:00 is now something like 50% of 15:00 but if you make 03:00 the most expensive time of day a add some light vampire draw regulation and you will get this down to less than 10%

      • a citizen
        Dec 1, 2018 at 10:30 am

        Another bald-faced liar.

        By the time all costs are counted, solar (at present) is far more expensive – even when integrated into existing grid infrastructure. And given the thermal radiation the panels reflect, there is no doubt that the radiative emissions are higher than any nuke plant, from a climate warming perspective.

        Not a nuke advocate, folks, but I can’t tolerate the lies from people who are malignantly ignorant.

        • char
          Dec 1, 2018 at 7:32 pm

          Electricity demand is concentrated during hours when the sun is up, especial in A.C. territory like Saudi Arabia. Batteries etc are unneeded until you get to the point that the need for none solar electricity during the day is lower than during the night. Saudi Arabia isn’t anywhere near that so for Saudi Arabia solar is
          a) very cheap
          b) substituting expensive electricity

          ps. I don’t understand your thermal radiation point.

  2. Justme
    Nov 28, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    The US motivation is to sell stuff, the Saudi motivation is to get a cheap energy source, cheaper desalination, and maybe nuclear weapons.

    • BTilles
      Nov 28, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      Hi Justme,

      We would agree that the Saudis appear to want nuclear capabilities to counter Iran. But these proposed plants are not a cheap energy source–quite the contrary.

    • Mike G
      Nov 28, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      Given their climate, solar would appear to be more suitable if the goal was actually cheap energy.

      • BTilles
        Nov 28, 2018 at 3:08 pm

        That or wind.

      • jo6pac
        Nov 28, 2018 at 5:08 pm

        My thought also but then again you can’t make a-bombs from solar panels so there’s that. Sad

      • fajensen
        Nov 29, 2018 at 4:05 am

        And –

        The kind of maintenance staff needed for operating solar panels is a few skilled electricians and some people with window-cleaning equipment to take the dust off.

        Nuclear is quite another kettle of fish entirely. From what I hear, the Saudis have nothing of the skilled trades and specialised processing needed to run their power plants and they have to import everyone.

        The western contractors will all become very wealthy, assuming they can hold on to their heads, of course.

        • BTilles
          Nov 29, 2018 at 8:22 am

          Hi fajensen,

          You’re right, the Saudis prob. lack nuclear operating technical skills. But there are 450 or so commercial reactors and a huge army of contractors eager for this lucrative work.

    • Korkin
      Nov 30, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      Dont worry. The United States does not have its own commercially viable uranium isotope separation technology (“enrichment”).
      The only plant in the United States belongs to the european URENCO Group.

      • char
        Nov 30, 2018 at 4:35 pm

        There is a difference between ownership and control. I have no doubt who controls the plant.

  3. Western Sun
    Nov 28, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Some things never change …

    “The Plant Vogtle in Georgia (also using the Westinghouse reactor design under discussion in the article) has turned into an economic albatross for Southern Company’s Georgia Power subsidiary.”

    I lived in Georgia back during the last era when they were trying to deal with the previous economic albatross for constructing the original units at Plant Vogtle. These were of course much more expensive than advertised and very late in completion. The fight was of course to stick the customers of the Georgia Power electric monopoly with the bills to pay for these original economic albatrosses.

    Sounds like the same old corruption between Ga. Power (a Southern Company subsidiary) and the PUC which is supposed to protect rate-payers in the monopoly arrangement, but of course never does.

    Very happy I don’t live in Georgia anymore. No dangerous nuclear plants around, and no high electric bills due to all the extra charges to ‘recover’ the costs of buying yet more albatrosses.

    • BTilles
      Nov 28, 2018 at 4:07 pm

      Hi Western Sun,
      Thanks for the comment. However it’s not simple corruption if the public’s representatives on the PUC fail to do their jobs properly. It is also encumbent upon the public to vote the rascals out so to speak.

      • Javert Chip
        Nov 28, 2018 at 11:33 pm

        Btilles

        Ok. Got it.

        Bunch of people in Georgia spending more time supervising billions in financing for some nuclear plants.

        That ought to fix the problem.

        • BTilles
          Nov 29, 2018 at 8:43 am

          Hi Javert,
          My point is simply this. The Georgia PSC is an elected body. This plant was on the ballot recently and is lijely to remain so in future elections. These elections can have real world econ. implications.

  4. Wisdom Seeker
    Nov 28, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    This deal certainly smells rotten. Fuel enrichment technology is a huge red flag. Better to put the Saudis under a nuclear umbrella (a la Japan or Germany) than to give them the critical technologies. The cost of a nuclear war (or even nuclear escalation) in the Middle East is too high. And after 9/11 and Khashoggi, who’s to say whether a Saudi nuke might “accidentally” end up in NYC?

    • Peacenik
      Nov 29, 2018 at 6:49 pm

      It has been rumored for the last few years that the Kingdom has had talks with Pakistan (quietly) about acquiring a nuke or two. Maybe they already have?

  5. J.M.Keynes
    Nov 28, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    – I would say: just stick to the old and proven design.

  6. Saudisembody
    Nov 28, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Nuclear is the most expensive (and most dangeous and most polluting) way to boil water per megawatt hour to produce electricity. More than oil, coal and of course solar and wind.

    This seems like a blow-off-top orgy on the heels of a cooling ipo float after which the kingdumb will be ….what? over?

    the trend is looking like a looting before the booting and shooting

    • Wisdom Seeker
      Nov 28, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      Re “Nuclear is the most expensive (and most dangeous and most polluting) way to boil water”

      No, it’s not. Coal and oil are far worse. There’s more radioactive material released into the environment from mining, pumping and burning than from nuclear power at comparable scale. The nonradioactive components of fly ash (etc) are not all benign either. And then there are the mining accidents, oil spills, Deepwater Horizon drilling disasters and so on. And all the CO2 climate change stuff is on top of all that.

      Nuclear is to energy sort of the way socialism or communism is to economics & politics: a fantastic choice in theory, which can work well for a short time (when implemented carefully on a small scale), but prone to horrific failures when applied long-term because of the dark side of human nature. Basically they both require ongoing checks and balances, but the incentives always work out such that the checks and balances get undermined over time.

      • Jean-Marc Pelletier
        Nov 28, 2018 at 11:10 pm

        I do agree on cost of electricity nuclear vs oil vs… In France, 0,1754 €/kWh vs 0,295 €/kWh for Germany. Obviously, cost for residential consumers much higher in Germany due to policy to subsidize wind/solar on a large scale. Nevertheless, electricity is quite cheap in France, 75% of electricity through 58 nuclear generating stations commissioned after 1974. Since generating stations are almost identical, no costs overrun, medium-size nuclear generators (600 MW ?), no exotic technology… Cost of generation around 4 €/kWh

        So, pls check the facts before asserting that nuclear generation costs much more than other sources.

        “France is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation, and gains over €3 billion per year from this.”

        https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Electricity_price_statistics

        http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/france.aspx

        • Nov 28, 2018 at 11:37 pm

          Jean-Marc Pelletier,

          Oh lordy…. So much confusion, all in one package — or willfully misleading? Given your screen name, most likely the latter, because surely, with a French name like this, you know that ALL of these nukes were built by the French government, funded by the government, and run by the government. Even today, after its “privatization,” EDF is still owned 85% by the government. The consumer pays for electricity what the government decides the consumer should pay. And the last thing any government in France wants is 60 million shouting and car-burning consumers “dans la rue,” protesting against higher electricity bills. What the consumer pays has nothing to do with the actual cost of building, financing, and maintaining the nuclear power plants. Citing this as an example of low-cost nuclear power is total BS.

        • Sparkling wine IS champagne!
          Nov 29, 2018 at 12:12 am

          Senor Pelletier,

          https://energyinnovation.org/2018/01/22/renewable-energy-levelized-cost-of-energy-already-cheaper-than-fossil-fuels-and-prices-keep-plunging/

          The above link shows the current and forward looking costs of comparable sources of energy production.

          notice the cost of nuclear is higher than most conventional and renewable sources of energy production.

          C’est la vie..

        • char
          Nov 29, 2018 at 6:54 pm

          75% of production is nuclear but France exports something like 15%. Electricity demand in France is not covert for 75% by nuclear but significantly lower

      • I am Marx's Complete Lack of Surprise
        Nov 28, 2018 at 11:10 pm

        socialism, communism and the dark side…that worked in the movies…star wars episode 19 mickey’s house, where the rebels and darth vader rename the death star, the epcot princess, and re-purpose it into a condo co-op with pools on every deck…

      • Technics
        Nov 28, 2018 at 11:42 pm

        which is worse?

        A. Fossil fueled climate with concomitant effects that can last for millennia before returning somewhat to pre-industrial levels.

        or

        B. Radioactive envelopment of the entire planet in the event of single or multiple meltdowns with possibly increasing concomitant effects forever in geologic time.

        Fukushima, and the others, and there are many others, regularly release radioactive gases on a 24/7 basis as part of their operation or in disaster, if you ask me that is way worse.

        Humans have burned coal, plants, etc, for hundreds of thousands of years and it took all of that time to get to this point, yet nuclear has been a force on this planet for just 70 years and in that blip of time, it has destroyed central eastern europe, it has and will continue to destroy the pacific ocean (in just 5+ years) and eventually the entire oceans of earth.

        put it another way, would you rather live next to a coal plant or a nuclear plant?

        would you rather be exposed to nuclear power radiation or fossil fuel/coal emissions?

        I’ll go with option A

        • fajensen
          Nov 29, 2018 at 3:30 am

          it took all of that time to get to this point

          No. It really didn’t. It only took the last 200 years or so because we are burning fossils at an exponentially growing rate!


          nothing, no technology, is going to work in the sense of creating less problems than it solves if we keep those exponentials around.

    • Khat smoking Saudis
      Nov 29, 2018 at 1:22 pm

      Aramco’s chief executive said yesterday that the company needs $150 billion worth of investments over the next decade as the company plans to increase output and become an LNG exporter.

      Haha mbs and the “royals” are smoking khat if they think theyre getting a combined $600 Billion dollars for LNG and Nuclear over the next 10 years;

      all of this again makes me feel theyre flailing around in panic, trying to forestall the end, by reaching out and popping up trial ballons with big big price tags for vaporware projects.

      who in their right mind would put up to $450 and $150 into the stable genius regime of the Dönmeh head and hand cutters of the peninsula.

      The looting always comes before the shooting and the booting.

  7. kgc
    Nov 28, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Water. They and the Kuwaitis have been talking use of nucs for desalinization for decades.

    • MC01
      Nov 29, 2018 at 2:49 am

      David Ben-Gurion famously used the slogan “let the desert bloom!” to advertise the Israeli nuclear-powered desalinization program in the 50’s.
      The Eisenhower Administration was interested in helping with this proposed initiative under the Atoms for Peace program but the Israeli balked when the Department of Energy (DoE) made clear they would retain full nuclear fuel cycle control: in short the fuel would be controlled by the DoE every step of the way, no hanky-panky allowed.

      What happened next showed Israel had no real interest in a desalinization plant and was only aiming at obtaining fuel processing capabilities under a convenient guise.

  8. HMG
    Nov 28, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    I seem to remember two decades ago that ‘someone’ said (Kissinger? ) why would a country (Iran) floating on a sea of oil need to invest in Nuclear technology?

    • Nuclear Suppliers Group is nuclear OPEC
      Nov 28, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      what he said was:

      why float on a sea of oil, when you can float nuclear offshore.

      “All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk” – Ronald Reagan 40th President, Host of General Electric Theater

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSMIoXzkSZA

    • ewmayer
      Nov 28, 2018 at 9:17 pm

      For Iran, as for North Korea, there is an obvious strategic incentive, namely to protect themselves from forcible regime-change by the US, in Iran’s case at the behest of the Israel-Saudi ME axis.

  9. raxadian
    Nov 28, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    No wonder nuclear is doing so bad in future prospects, with Wind and Solar becoming cheaper and cheaper, who would want to go nuclear in twenty years? Those who live so close to the poles nights last too long?

    • BTilles
      Nov 28, 2018 at 4:15 pm

      Hi raxadian,

      You raise an interesting question re who will want nuclear energy in twenty years. My question is which nations will still need it? In short all those with significant nuclear arms programs. will go out of their way to maintain this capability. And that’s why govt subsidies are likely as well.

      • char
        Nov 28, 2018 at 6:42 pm

        A nuclear arms program needs enriched uranium/plutonium to build more nukes but not to keep the same number. Recycling to old ones works great and tritium has other sources than an nuclear energy program

      • fajensen
        Nov 29, 2018 at 4:33 am

        If what you want is some good fissile material for nuclear weapons, you will be very much better off from running a MeV proton accelerator with the beam going into a quite small spallation target (a few metric tonnes) made from something fissile but not on the proliferation list, like Thorium or natural Uranium.

        A nuclear power plant produces all manner of garbage that you then have to scrape out of the spent fuel using all manner of horrible and inefficient processes to concentrate the good stuff. With spallation sources and the right starting material you can almost directly get the isotope you want with very little “cleaning” required.

        Specifically:
        “””
        In SNS and fusion facilities high concentrations of plutonium can be bred thus dramatically reducing the amount of source material necessary for production. Even with amounts well below 10 t natural uranium, which can be exempt from safeguards, significant production is possible. The isotopic composition of the produced plutonium is weapon usable with Pu-239 contents of more than 90%.
        “””
        https://www.ianus.tu-darmstadt.de/media/ianus/pdfs/matthias/gap_Augustfinal.pdf

        Of Course the same setup can also be used to build a much safer, less than critical, nuclear reactor. And even to burn up radio-toxic nuclear fuel because the spallation process cannot be “poisoned” by impurities capturing neutrons like the fission can. With a spallation source one can “just” increase the accelerator current and produce more neutrons to compensate for the loss.

        http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/accelerator-driven-nuclear-energy.aspx

        • drg1234
          Nov 29, 2018 at 11:42 am

          Wow. Thanks for this information, which is pretty unsettling since there are particle accelerators all over the place.

        • a citizen
          Dec 1, 2018 at 10:43 am

          You’re the same one that alleges “fossil” fuel use is growing “exponentially,” yes?

          And now you’re making fissile material in a particle accelerator, which begs the obvious question: Why build nukes when you’ve ray guns?

          Seriously, you have too much time on your hands and more imagination than sense.

  10. Auld Kodjer
    Nov 28, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Call their bluff.

    Offer 16 thorium-based plants instead of uranium-based plants. If they hesitate, you know its all about bombing the shit out of their neighbours.

    • Thorium is the Norse word for Vaporware
      Nov 28, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Thorium? theyre in the middle of a vast desert with sunlight, wind and they got oil and geothermal…

      there is no commercial power producing thorium reactor in the world AND there has NEVER been one since it started to be thought of as nuclear fuel back in the mid 1960s…

    • Just Me
      Nov 28, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      ha! awesome. that would be a great test.
      good for you for bringing this up.

    • BTilles
      Nov 28, 2018 at 4:18 pm

      Ha Ha. And who might be capable of delivering 16 turnkey “LFTRs”?

    • Kent
      Nov 28, 2018 at 5:08 pm

      I’m very surprised Tel Aviv would allow Washington to even discuss this type of deal. Eventually Saudi Arabia isn’t going to be able to produce enough oil to feed their people. Does anyone really want 30 million starving Arabians to have nuclear weapons?

      • R Davis
        Nov 29, 2018 at 11:54 am

        I was of the opinion that Saudi Arabia is the footrest of Israeli-US ease & comfort ??
        According to Dubai Video Promo by Piers Morgan – Dubai Has run out of oil already –
        Oh, woe ez us – hey.

  11. MCH
    Nov 28, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Pure curiosity, has anyone ever done a baseline financial analysis of nuclear vs solar or wind over time?

    I mean, it seems like nuclear might cost a ton more up front, but what is the overall costs over the life time of each system? I figure the downsides with nuclear is what to do with all that waste, and the upshot is continuous power generation. But what’s the downside on solar or wind? The obvious things is unless you have a ton of batteries or do solar thermal, there is going to be an issue of power on demand. But it’s cheaper up front, I would assume. Then also, what is the life time on the panels or the turbines, I have no idea what the potential waste products are coming out of solar, or even wind, but that might be an interesting way to look at it too in terms of overall costs. Finally, there is a question of space…. how much space do you need to equate a nuclear power plant to a wind farm or a solar farm.

    None of this has anything to do with the Saudis obviously. If you ask me, the Saudis should never get anything nuclear in their hands. Just look at what the last Saudi rich dude did with airplanes. Does anybody want another on like him with spent fuel rods or waste?

    The other side of the coin is of course, if the US doesn’t provide it, there are the Russians and the Chinese. Ain’t competition great?

    • Petedivine
      Nov 29, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Solar and wind don’t produce energy 24×7. You need to store the energy in large batteries. So large in fact that they would cover football fields in size. It’s one of the reasons wind and energy are not viable as a primary energy sources. For that reason most power plants run on coal or natural gas, and use oil to cover peak usage periods. There hasn’t been a U.S. based nuclear power plant brought into production since the 90s. They’re too expensive and require a level of expertise that isn’t readily available anymore. Dream about clean energy all you want, but modern society is dependent on fossil fuels. As for the Saudis, my guess is that their oil reserves are becoming exhausted. They’ve been pumping oil since the 30s. All good things come to an end and once the oil is gone it’s gone.

      • Nov 30, 2018 at 9:10 pm

        Couple of things:

        In the US, every nuclear power plant goes off line every couple of years for about two months for maintenance. And then some other power plants have to step in to replace the electricity generation of that nuke. That’s how the “grid” works. No difference for night-time solar-power blackout.

        And in case you haven’t noticed, solar produces the most during the middle of the day when power consumption in the summer hit the peaks of the year (AC). Power use plunges at night. So solar fills a hole, so to speak.

        • a citizen
          Dec 1, 2018 at 10:52 am

          Solar advocates aren’t interested in supplementing baseload. They insist solar is The Answer To All Things. But solar’s Achilles heel is storage. Period. Lead acid, lithium, whatever – storage kills solar.

          Solar is un-economic AND is a significant thermal pollution emitter.

        • Dec 1, 2018 at 2:43 pm

          a citizen,

          Everyone and his dog know that an economy needs a “portfolio” of power sources. No one in their right mind advocates switching to all-solar. That’s total nonsense, and anyone with any say on this matter, knows that this is nonsense.

          Solar serves its purpose, but you need other sources as well, whatever you can get. So in a sunny southern area, you might have more solar than elsewhere. In windy places – West Texas, OK panhandle, in the Plains, in certain coastal regions — you might have more wind power. And this is precisely the case. Texas is the #1 wind-power producer in the US. In the mountains, you might have more hydro. You will also need natural gas fired power generation.

          What you don’t need is expensive power generation, such as nuclear. With nuclear you need to calculate all costs, including the costs of decommissioning the power plant, cleaning up the area, dealing with nuclear waste for a few hundred thousand years, and dealing with the consequences when something goes wrong (Chernobyl, Fukushima).

  12. Tyson Bryan
    Nov 28, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Uranium is most simply & inexpensively enriched by spinning. The precision, cost & longevity of the Zippe centrifuges has steadily improved over the past 60 years. Let’s see, who has the capacity to manufacture precision centrifuges ? The Times article says nothing to identify the specific tech being marketed by the MIC for Saudi use. Iran, Pakistan, India and others already have reasonably state of the art enrichment tech. The nuclear & uranium markets need wealthy customers like the Saudies. Perhaps they can trade their accumulated gold hoard back to the Banksters for yellow cake, which they can then enrich themselves.

  13. Laughing Eagle
    Nov 28, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Also the Crystal River Nuclear Plant in Florida opened in December 1976 and operated until 2009 when Duke tried a do-it-yourself maintenance to change out the steam generators but in the process the concrete in the retaining walls cracked. To repair it was estimated to cost $3.4 billion and to close it down $1.8 billion. Now the ratepayers are force to fund the their mistake by decommissioning of the plant as a SAFESTOR where the fuel will be permanently stored on site under control of NRC.
    Just in August of this year the Public Service Commission signed off on allowing Duke to collect $43 million from ratepayers for the costs in 2019.

  14. polecat
    Nov 28, 2018 at 11:45 pm

    How could this push for a nuclearized Saudi State end in any way but death and misery !! .. “All Hail the Mutation”

    Honest to God .. humans really ARE dumber than yeast !

    ‘sigh’ …

  15. Sailorgirl
    Nov 29, 2018 at 2:44 am

    If electricity generation was really the true need, the Sauds would build Combined Cycle natural gas plants with adjacent solar and wind fields to smooth production. Natural gas is burned as a waste by product in Saudi Arabia. Nuclear power plants only exist today for one reason.. to aid in the production of nuclear weapons. Everyone knows that except the occupant in the White House.

    • Lars
      Nov 29, 2018 at 4:06 am

      No Sailorgirl, “everyone does not know that” :=)

      In the first phase it is true that it was mostly to produce uranium, e.g the first (and small) British nuclear reactor had electricity generation as a byproduct (I hav forgotten its name). But nowadays nuclear is an indispensable part of many nations energy mixture and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons.

      The Japanese for instance realize nuclear is necessary to keep electricity affordable and have restarted many reactors after Fukushima in 2011. Among the industrial nations only the Germans seem to really be against nuclear (so Herr Richter is no exception there). Ironically, the 17 reactors Germany had pre Fukushima could have powered a fleet of only electric vehicles (about 170 Twh annually) and made them less dependent on oil which they don`t have themselves.

      Another example, the Swedes had a referendum in 1990 and voted to abandon nuclear within 2010 (producing about 40% of their power), but soon had to realize it would be impossible without threatening their low cost electricity which is the base of their large paper and pulp industry among other things.

      • Dave
        Nov 29, 2018 at 1:07 pm

        Dear Lars,
        You are quite wrong.
        The Japanese have a highly advanced nuclear weapons program, and their “civilian” program functions mainly as a fig leaf.

        Japan’s nuclear weapons program is actually quite similar to Sweden’s:

        “We don’t have the bomb. We just have the parts.”

        • a citizen
          Dec 1, 2018 at 11:05 am

          Evidence?

        • char
          Dec 1, 2018 at 7:51 pm

          Solid fuel rocket program? Road-mobile sounding rocket? More plutonium than the rest of the world combined? Not having 4 aircraft carriers?

          Do you want evidence or will you never see evidence?

    • BTilles
      Nov 29, 2018 at 9:00 am

      Or large wind/solar arrays with battery storage and natural gas back up.

      • Sailorgirl
        Nov 29, 2018 at 7:03 pm

        BTilles.. Where I live in Florida it is more the other way around because of our AC load requirements. Large solar fields are being built if possible adjacent to existing power plants to reduce or eliminate transmission costs. Battery storage is the new thing. I am fortunate that my local utility is a subsidiary of the largest green utility in the world.

  16. Nicko2
    Nov 29, 2018 at 9:30 am

    UAE is almost finished constructing their nuclear reactors, built by South Korea and EU partnership. 5600 MW….that is a lot of electricity. Consider the solar panals required to match such a capacity (uneconomic at present). With Climate change and fast population growth in the region, Nuclear is the sane choice.

    Additionally, Saudi and the US are tied at the hip (like it or not). Together with other US allies in the MENA region, that means the US directly/indirectly controls over 50% of known oil/gas supplies on the planet. That’s what makes the US a superpower.

    • R Davis
      Nov 29, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      There we are – problem solved.
      All that is left for us is to ponder which brand of Sparkling White we prefer & how many bottles it will take to keep us in eternal, suspended bliss, a state to the which we should be accustomed & perhaps are not.
      It is afterall End Time … so let’s relax & enjoy the show.

  17. Dr. Roberts
    Nov 29, 2018 at 10:55 am

    I don’t understand how the Israelis allow sonething like this to happen. The long-term stability of the Saudi state is extremely questionable. What happens when the oil dries up, everyone is starving, and they’re engaged in a genocidal war against their own slave work force 20 or 30 years down the line? Nuclear weapons would make such a situation even more dangerous that the masses of high-end conventional weapons they’re buying as bribes and stockpiling. If the Kingdom falls, there’s no chance whoever ends up with those weapons doesn’t hate Israel. Sure the Saudi’s might be worthless fighters today, but they’ll fight just as well as the Yemenis once the AC has been off for a few years.

  18. Nov 29, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Uh… hello? How about Saudi Arabia’s HUGE AND CONCRETE ROLE IN THE 9/11 ATTACKS? Anyone?

  19. Nov 30, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Saudi has already started working with Rosatom to develop a nuclear power program. Rosatom has a strong record of completing projects on time and on budget.

    I don’t know why Saudi would bother to deal with incompetent and bankrupt US companies, except to save face with Trump or something like that.

    https://www.rosatom.ru/en/press-centre/news/russia-and-saudi-arabia-signed-a-roadmap-for-cooperation-in-peaceful-use-of-nuclear-energy/

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