No, just say no

Russia offers to build Britain\’s nuclear power stations
Moscow has offered to help Britain build nuclear power stations in partnership with Rolls-Royce, Russia’s deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov has said.

God alone knows what Rolls Royce is doing with this deal. But no, just no, for two reasons.

1) If you think the Russian oil and gas business is bad then you just wait and see what the nuclear side is like. A ghastly, appalling, money pit of bribery and corruption. I do know, I have been involved with it.

2) You\’d never get any reactor built in Britain if it had the word \”Russian\” associated with it. Doesn\’t matter if they\’re the finest engineers on the planet (they\’re not, although they\’re good), all you\’ve got to do to close the entire programme or idea down is to utter one single word.

\”Chernobyl\”.

10 thoughts on “No, just say no”

  1. A story I heard years and years ago – sometime in the early 80s the chief inspector of Russian nuclear power stations went to the US to discuss safety issues. He apparently spoke no English so everything was done through a translator until the subject of a meltdown came up, at which point he wheeled out the one phrase he did know. “Three Mile Island” he said “Ho ho ho”

  2. The Japs are doing it, according to the radio this morning.

    (although it was the BBC, so it’s probably not true).

  3. RR are excellent at turbines, of course.

    I would imagine their JV with the Russians is targeted more at the sort of places where “Russian nuclear reactor” is accompanied more by “supplier from country without enforceable anti-bribery legislation, hurrah!” than “won’t somebody think at the children”. With the Derby boys supplying the Russians directly in a completely honest and above-board fashion, naturally.

  4. Rolls Royce, as john b said, make excellent turbines. As such they have an interest in maximising investment in natural gas, which has two sets of turbines, versus everything else which only use one.

    Perhaps this is their contribution to stopping any further expansion in Nuclear in the UK 😉

  5. RR are excellent at turbines, of course.

    Weeeeeelll….sometimes, for sure. Maybe even usually.

    But in one particular case I am intimately familiar with, out of a set of 6 turbogenerators, we are lucky if 4 are working at any given time. To be fair they were of bespoke design due to the size of the facility they are powering, but there is no escaping the fact that the things have some pretty major design flaws. The waste heat recovery units, also RR, have had to be completely overhauled at great expense to them. 3 years after installation, they are still not working properly.

    I met one of the RR technicians once, who quipped:

    “I hear you guys want 6 TGs to be available at any given time? In that case, you should have installed 12!”

  6. RR has nuclear power experience, they make the reactors for our nuclear subs, so at least they know the basics.

  7. Are there not some standardised plans these days? So can have similar design to reactor xxxx in yyy country?

    As for building, would quality control and Health & safety not be involved? So any reactor built should (yes, should) be as safe as can be for the particular design and materials.
    Whether willing to pay the cost to make as safe as possible or merely safe to a particular degree is a different matter…..

  8. But because people are afraid of nuclear power, what we do in continental Europe is that we stop building new reactors with Western technology. But we still do need electricity. So what do we do? We buy electricity from Russia. From Chernobyl type reactors, among other things, still running just fine.

    I don’t get that. I think we should build so many that the Russian reactors could be closed.

  9. RR certainly know the basics, they build all the nuclear power plants for all our submarines.

    They also have a nuclear-powered CHP at their site in Derby, which just sits there and does its thing.

    But they certainly shouldn’t let Putin’s people anywhere near any of this stuff.

    Just “no”, as Tim says.

  10. So Much for Subtlety

    Martin Davies – “Are there not some standardised plans these days? So can have similar design to reactor xxxx in yyy country?”

    There is close to it. The US PWR design is increasingly common. France builds one a lot like it. So did/does the Soviet Union/Russia. This is partly because it is a military design – for use on submarines – and so everyone who can build one can build the other. Also I just assume people stole the designs. Except the French got open US help.

    “As for building, would quality control and Health & safety not be involved?”

    You have to buy them some pints. Then they will sign off on anything.

    “Whether willing to pay the cost to make as safe as possible or merely safe to a particular degree is a different matter…..”

    But that is the wrong question. PWR are a bad design for land operations. Too compact. We shouldn’t be looking at costs and safety add ons, but inherently safe features that mean even an undergraduate could not cause the reactor to fail. I don’t see why that should be expensive. A thorium-salt reactor might be both vastly safer and cheaper given the lack of high refueling and enrichment costs.

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