Monday, July 25, 2005

From the NEI Clip File

Here are some of the news clips we're reading at NEI today. The House-Senate conference committee is busy at work on the energy bill - one that includes a package of incentives critical to the industry:

The proposals call for taxpayers to share the cost of licensing the first generation of new plants, offer loan guarantees and set caps on industry liability in case of an accident, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

In addition, the White House wants to protect investors against regulatory delays by defraying the cost of some delays. Some proposals would give the nuclear industry protection against fluctuations in the price of electricity.

Nuclear power advocates say nuclear power would cut the country's dependence on foreign oil, may seem more attractive as oil prices increase and cut the production of greenhouse gases that can cause global warming.
Keep an eye on this space for the latest developments on the progress of the conference committee, which we hear is going to be working long into the night on the bill.

Elsewhere, the Louisiana Public Service Commission announced their interest in nuclear energy as a power-generation option for their area.
State utility regulators on Friday urged a consortium of electricity utilities to consider building in Louisiana what would be the nation's first nuclear power plant startup in more than 30 years.

"The Louisiana Public Service Commission supports . . . the investigation of nuclear power as a potential power generation option in Louisiana," according to a resolution unanimously adopted by the five-member agency.

Entergy Corp.'s River Bend nuclear power station near St. Francisville is among six existing reactor sites that made a short list of potential new reactor sites announced in May by NuStart Energy Development LLC.

The consortium, which includes Entergy, wants to obtain licenses for two nuclear reactors. The group plans to name its final two sites by Sept. 30 and begin the years-long process of applying for the licenses from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

PSC members hope their resolution will help make River Bend a finalist, said Commissioner Jay Blossman, who wrote the resolution.

"I would love to see the first one built here," he said.
For more on the NuStart Energy consortium, click here.

Transportation is moving closer to "The Jetsons," reports the Hunstville Times, as some planes may one day be powered by nuclear energy:
Cars fueled by hydrogen or electricity. Commercial airplanes powered by nuclear energy. Individual airplanes for zipping down to the beach.

The changes in transportation from 2005 to 2055 could be startling.

...Air travel in 50 years could also be significantly different. Airlines will be looking for ways to build airplanes that go faster and hold more people. Commercial planes could be powered by nuclear energy. Instead of a long runway for takeoff, airplanes may copy the space shuttle and take off vertically.
National Geographic recently ran a story outlining our options for energy generation, and said nuclear energy was "still a contender."
...Enthusiasm [for nuclear energy] is reviving. China, facing a shortage of electric power, has started to build new reactors at a brisk pace of one or two a year. In the U.S., where some hydrogen-car boosters see nuclear plants as a good source of energy for making hydrogen from water, Vice President Dick Cheney has called for "a fresh look" at nuclear. And Japan, which lacks its own oil, gas, and coal, continues to encourage a fission program. Yumi Akimoto, a Japanese elder statesman of nuclear chemistry, saw the flash of the bomb at Hiroshima as a boy yet describes nuclear fission as "the pillar of the next century."
The bloggers over at Fortex Currency Trading feel that the nuclear energy option is a good choice for China:
Nuclear power is a natural choice for China. The standard "green" objections to nuclear power simply do not exist in the Middle Kingdom. Furthermore, China has awful problems with water shortages, air pollution and acid rain. A nuclear alternative could remedy some of these issues by substituting nuclear energy for fossil fuels and removing stress from the environment. Nuclear power has another green aspect as well: It produces virtually zero carbon dioxide, and thus does not contribute to global warming.
Come back tomorrow for more news from the NEI Clip File.

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3 comments:

Stewart Peterson said...

The only way we're going to see nuclear power take market share from coal is if
-more coal plants are built to replace the oldest nuclear plants. People might wake up. But then again, they probably won't. Choking on coal dust, they'll probably say to each other, "what, you want a third arm?"
-there's a legislated phaseout of coal, which is not going to happen.
-there's a heavy carbon emissions tax, which could be done but won't be.

Nuclear power, by itself, will not lower our dependence on foreign oil. We use very little oil to generate electricity--the real problem is cars. Natural gas and coal are not good candidates to replace gasoline for obvious reasons. There are several options.
-RTGs (nuclear batteries). There is some HLW that cannot be reused in reactors; it would be ideal for nuclear batteries. An RTG plus an electric motor is small enough and powerful enough to replace a compact car's (100 HP) fuel system.
-Gas-optional hybrids. Nuclear power could provide the electricity via batteries and e80 fuel would probably hold gas prices down until battery technology caught up.
-Just using all the fossil fuels until we don't have any more fossil fuels and then wondering where all the fossil fuels went, which is probably going to happen.

Airplanes are not going to take off vertically or use nuclear reactors. Airplane accidents are rare enough that reactors could be used safely if contained well enough, but the politics of nuclear regulation will not allow it. VTOL, though, poses unnecessary risks to passengers, who do not want to rotate 360 degrees, then flip upside down while spinning some more. It's not going to happen.
Likewise, there will never be personal aircraft. I might understand jetpacks if used with parachutes and if you live somewhere where congestion is absolutely impossible. Other than that, no flying cars. (BTW, there is an advanced nuclear rocket--direct fusion--that might work for this purpose. The problem would be getting the thrust under 2000 pounds, but the irradiation concerns could be dealt with using some simple geometry that has been used since the 1940s.)
The current trend (JetBlue for example) in the airline industry is to look at smaller aircraft making more flights, not bigger aircraft making flights between large hubs. This is one of the explanations for the enduring popularity of the 737.

China needs nuclear. I think there's very little dispute about that. Their environmental problems, large size, and expanding economy are unique and require nuclear power. This is an almost perfect case; there's no reasonable alternative, environmentally or economically.

Stewart Peterson said...

>>Nuclear power could provide the electricity via batteries and e80 fuel would probably hold gas prices down until battery technology caught up.

e85, sorry.

L. Alan Smith said...

Note the National Geographic article has a "poll" (See the frame to the left on the page) - Would you live near a nuclear plant?

http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0508/feature1/index.html


More no votes than yes votes