THE FALLING EROI KILLS WESTINGHOUSE: 2 U.S. Nuclear Reactors Construction Halted

by Steve St. Angelo, SRSrocco:

Yes… it’s true.  Two state of the art nuclear power projects bankrupted the mighty Westinghouse Electric Corporation, a company founded in 1886.  Actually, this is old news as Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy back in March 2017.  However, the breaking news is that the Westinghouse bankruptcy has now forced two utility companies to stop construction on two nuclear power reactors in South Carolina. (photo: courtesy of 12 News, Augusta, Ga)

While many factors will be attributed to the halting of these two nuclear power reactors, such as rising costs, construction delays, decreasing electricity demand and the bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the real reason is the FALLING EROI – Energy Returned On Investment.

As a refresher for newer readers, the falling EROI means that it’s taking more and more energy inputs to produce less and less net energy for the market.  For example, in 1970 the U.S. EROI of its oil and gas industry was 30/1.  Thus, the burning of one oil barrel worth of energy produced 30 oil barrels to the market.  Today, shale oil production comes in at a whopping 5/1 EROI, six times less that the profitable energy in 1970.

Moreover, those who have been following my analysis on energy, understand that the falling EROI of oil and natural gas are gutting the entire global economy.  Even though nuclear power generation doesn’t come from burning oil and natural gas, the construction of the reactors most certainly consumes a massive amount of fossil fuels.  Actually, it takes a great deal of the burning of coal, natural gas and oil to produce nuclear, solar and wind power plants.

This was especially true for the construction of Westinghouse’s two nuclear power plant projects, the Vogtle Plant in George and the V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina.

Two Nuclear Power Plant Projects That Bankrupted Westinghouse

The Vogtle Nuclear Plant (Units 3 & 4), located near Waynesboro, Georgia, started construction with the new Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors in 2013.  Here is a picture of Vogtle Plant under construction last year.

As you can see, Vogtle 3 & 4 are the extension of the original Units 1 & 2 that were commissioned in 1987.  Originally, the Vogtle 3 & 4 were to cost $14 billion and be operational by 2016 (Plant #3) and 2017 (Plant #4).  However, the total costs are now estimated to reach $29 billion for the Vogtle Plant, and it won’t be operational until at least 2022. (source: Reuters article).

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