Well, I'm just quoting the information from the NRC about reactors, but yes
that is the heart of it.
Most plants were built with some 'room' for power uprate. And as fuel and
operating technologies improve the units can be run at somewhat higher power
level (many of the 'turnkey' designs of the 70's were built with a 20%
margin for future uprate).
Add to this improvements in capacity factors (from the mid 70% range 20
years ago to the mid 90% range today for the best run units). This is
brought about by extended fuel operating cycles, equipment reliability
improvements and much shorter refuel outages).
And although some would claim that this is all done at the sacrifice of
plant safety, the actual record so far proves just the opposite. Most of
the bigger 'fleet' operator/owners have come to realize that the best way to
get the most output is to operate the plant as safely as possible and do a
lot *more* maintenance. But do the right maintenance, on the right
equipment, at the right time and plant operation runs smoother with fewer
The few owners that cut a lot of corners and try to defer maintenance for as
long as possible find themselves suddenly faced with regulatory action,
unplanned trips, extended outages and less overall generation.
Regarding wind/solar, right now it's probably anyone's guess. If cap&trade
drive up the cost of fossil, wind/solar will see a lot more growth. But one
should be leary of government mandated percentages (like NY is trying). I
think if more of the true costs of fossil are paid by them up front, it will
stimulate a lot of development.
But wind/solar will have to wean themselves from subsidies over the next
decade or two. Standby and/or storage costs will have to be picked up and
factored in somehow if/when wind/solar becomes a large fraction of supply.
But that's a few decades off as well.
Bill Carter wrote:
Still doesn't change the fact that some places are becalmed for days on end. Both
solar and wind power HAVE to have conventional generation back-up further
increasing their cost.
All power generation methods HAVE to have backup sources. Even coal plants
have limited uptime. Wind power has been well-integrated into the Texas
"the frequently stated claim of wind power requiring an equal amount of
reserve power for back-up is not correct"
Bill Carter wrote:
Which can be predicted and scheduled with regulat maintenance. Clouds and the
At a small part of total generation that would be no trouble.
Then they're out to lunch.