Saturday, April 30, 2005

Another Blogger For Nuclear Energy

At the Collatine 1802 blog another post has been added to encourage pro-nuclear advocates to stop being reactionary, and reframe the context of the discussion in favor of nuclear energy.

Personally I have to disagree with him on the "I heart nuclear" T-shirts, though. I think they're terrific! Simple, clear, no explanations required...

UPDATE: Say hello to Tina T.

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Friday, April 29, 2005

Nuclear Energy Outside the Beltway

Over at Outside the Beltway, Steve Verdon is musing about the nuclear component of President Bush's national energy policy:

I do agree that more nuclear power is probably a good idea and that there probably should be a very serious look at and overhaul of the regulations for nuclear energy. Other countries have been using nuclear power safely for decades. One problem with increasing nuclear power in the U.S. are the hysterical environmentalists who ironically want to cut CO2 emissions, but at the same time don't want to switch to nuclear power which emits no CO2. Another problem, which is derived in part from the previous problem, is the exorbitant costs due to the regulations on nuclear power. So while this would be a good direction to go in, I doubt that we will go in that direction.

While I understand where Steve is coming from (before I came to work in the nuclear energy industry I shared many of the same misconceptions), I have some additional information that sheds some more light on the argument. First up, the environmental movement isn't quite so monolithic in its opposition to nuclear energy any longer. Over the past two months we've introduced our readers to figures like James Lovelock, Hugh Montefiore, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore and most recently, countercultural icon Stewart Brand -- all environmentalists who have endorsed the expansion of nuclear energy because it emits no greenhouse gases.

Granted there is still opposition inside the activist community, but there are clear indications that the public pronouncements of these figures are beginning to have an effect -- one that was most recently seen over at environmental pub, Grist.

Then again, when the activists decide to come out and play, nuclear supporters are proving to be more than ready for them.

As to his concerns about regulation, the NRC has made a commitment to the concept of performance based and safety-focused regulation, something that NEI CEO Skip Bowman made a point of mentioning earlier this year in his luncheon speech at the NRC's 2005 Regulatory Information Conference:

In short, reactor safety, security and emergency planning should work synergistically, in a conservative, but realistic way, to protect public health and safety regardless of whether challenges to plant safety are operational, acts of God, or acts of terrorists.

In the past, pure deterministic regulatory approaches led, in some cases, to gross over design in the zeal to build in unrealistic margins to protect against unrealistic events. This new concept, introduced only a few years ago, calls for application of realistic engineering, physics and experience centered on safety.

The NRC took the first step in this direction when it transformed the reactor oversight process to common sense, objective criteria that are focused on those systems and components that are most important to safety.

First thought to be unworkable, the safety-focused reactor oversight process demonstrates that this concept can work and bring practical discipline and rigor to the process.

And when it comes to the possibility of building new plants, 16 companies are working through three consortia to demonstrate the combined operating license process. Then there's the three companies nearing a decision from the NRC regarding early site permits.

Safe to say, there's plenty of reasons for optimism in the nuclear energy business today.

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President Bush Addresses Nuclear Energy at Press Conference

President Bush had a lot of positive things to say about nuclear energy in his prime time press conference last night:

Over the past decade, America's energy consumption has been growing about 40 times faster than our energy production. That means we're relying more on energy produced abroad. To reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy, we must take four key steps. First, we must better use technology to become better conservers of energy. Secondly, we must find innovative and environmentally sensitive ways to make the most of our existing energy resources, including oil, natural gas, coal and safe, clean nuclear power.

And . . .
We should have a active energy -- nuclear energy policy in America. We've got abundant resources of coal, and we're spending money for clean-coal technology. So these are longer term projects all aimed at making us become less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

This exchange with Terry Moran of ABC News caught my eye:
Q So am I reading correctly that the energy bill would not have had an effect on today's high gasoline --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it would have 10 years ago. That's exactly what I've been saying to the American people -- 10 years ago if we'd had an energy strategy, we would be able to diversify away from foreign dependence. And -- but we haven't done that. And now we find ourselves in the fix we're in. It's taken us a while to get there, and it's going to take us a while to get out.

What's the price tag for dawdling? According to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study published recently, it's going to take $12.7 trillion through 2030 to upgrade the world's electrical grid -- that's power plants and transmission capacity.

Looks like we have a lot of work to do.

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Another Blogger For Nuclear Energy

Here's a blog to check out: Collatine 1802.

It's a collection of amusing commentary on quotes collected from the Clinton Illinois NRC public meeting on April 18th.

UPDATE: And check out Political Musings too.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

South Carolina Officials to Investigate Possible New Reactor

From the AP wire:

Almost a decade after the nation's most recent licensed nuclear power plant went on line, S.C. officials will meet with utility representatives to see if there is interest in building a reactor in the state.

The May 9 meeting in Columbia will include representatives from the state Commerce Department, the governor's office, utility officials and U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett of the state's 3rd Congressional District.

"We just want to get everyone together, see if anyone's interested in South Carolina, and then we'll move forward from there," said Tim Dangerfield, chief of staff at the Commerce Department.

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NEI's Fertel, Moore Testify Before House Subcommittee

NEI Chief Nuclear Officer Marvin Fertel testified earlier today before the Energy and Resources Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee on the possible expansion of nuclear energy in the U.S.:

The public sector, including the oversight committees of the U.S. Congress, can help maintain the conditions that ensure Americans will continue to reap the benefits of today’s nuclear power plants, and create the conditions that will spur investment in America’s energy infrastructure, including new nuclear power plants . . .

Nuclear power plants contribute to the fuel and technology diversity that is the core strength of the U.S. electric supply system. This diversity is at risk because today’s business environment and market conditions in the electric sector make investment in large, capital-intensive technologies difficult, particularly in the nuclear power plants and coal-fired power plants best suited to supply baseload electricity.

Click here for a copy of his written testimony. Also testifying before the committee was Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, and an outspoken advocate for the expansion of nuclear energy. The following is from a press release issued by Moore's consulting firm, Greenspirit Strategies:

"Nuclear energy is the only non-greenhouse-gas-emitting power source that can effectively replace fossil fuels and satisfy global demand," Moore told the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Resources in Washington, DC.

"There is now a great deal of scientific evidence showing nuclear power to be an environmentally sound and safe choice," Moore said. Moore believes his former colleagues at Greenpeace are unrealistic in their call for a phasing out of both coal and nuclear power worldwide, as they have called for in Ontario, for example.

"There are simply not enough available forms of alternative energy to replace both of them together. Given a choice between nuclear on the one hand and coal, oil and natural gas on the other, nuclear energy is by far the best option as it emits neither CO2 nor any other air pollutants."

Moore told the subcommittee there are virtually no other beneficial uses of uranium beyond electricity production, "whereas fossil fuels are a precious non-renewable resource and have a multitude of constructive uses including the manufacture of durable goods such as plastics.

POSTSCRIPT: Moore was also quoted in an op-ed piece that appeared earlier today in the Melbourne Age by Leslie Kemeny, that touts the environmental benefits of nuclear energy for Australia.

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More Bloggers For Nuclear Energy

Say hello to Mary Madigan (via Michael Totten), and Sound of the Mushroom.

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On the Bush Energy Speech

As you might imagine, there's press coverage of President Bush's speech on energy policy just about all over -- check out these accounts from the Washington Post and the New York Times for starters.

Investor's Business Daily (no direct link, behind subscriber wall) seemed to welcome the President's message on nuclear energy:

[N]uclear power provides a form of cheap -- and clean -- energy. Paying less to heat and cool our homes would offset the pain of higher gasoline prices -- and lessen our dependence on foreign oil. All good.

Out in the heartland, it looks like the Lufkin Daily News liked what it heard:
Our view is that nuclear power plants, when properly regulated and maintained, provide a safer, cleaner, cheaper and longer-lasting source of energy than the traditional types of energy generation – coal-fired or natural gas plants in particular. Nuclear plants are used throughout Europe. With the tragic exception of Chernobyl in 1986 – the result of a flawed design – these plants have been safely operated for many years.

Nuclear plants do not pollute the atmosphere, as do coal-fired plants, nor do they require vast amounts of an increasingly expensive commodity, such as natural-gas plants. We agree with Bush that the government should make it easier to build such plants.

Here's what Crumb Trail had to say:

If things proceed as Bush advocates, helping China and India to develop and deploy clean energy technology, that will be the most effective thing the US can do about environmental issues including GHG emissions. With their large populations and fast growth rates they are poised to dwarf the rest of the world's emissions as well as consume an ever larger share of dwindling fossil fuel reserves. The US should also increase its use of emission free nuclear energy, but that wouldn't help if China and India were not also being helped.

This could be good. It was encouraging to see the US avoid being sucked into the Kyoto inanity, but avoiding dumb policy isn't enough. Good alternatives are needed, and this sounds much better, though it's still a long way from being a reality.

For more, stop by Prometheus and Green Car Congress.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Will There Be a Nuclear Split in the Environmental Movement?

In a review of The Bottomless Well: the Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy by Peter Huber and Mark Mills, Paul Weyrich noticed the authors' opinion about the ties between the environmental movement and its anti-nuclear allies:

Huber and Mills do not foresee an immediate end to oil and gas consumption but they suggest environmentalists should cut their ties to the anti-nuclear power movement (with its Hollywood axis — remember the 1979 movie starring Jane Fonda called "The China Syndrome"?) and realize that clean, plentiful energy can be produced. The Greens are the swing constituency which can set our country back or move it forward with an energy policy. Post-Three Mile Island the gap between meeting a rising demand for energy and the environmental opposition increasingly to rely on nuclear power was met by burning coal. However, nuclear power is cleaner and safer than other fuels, a record which should appease the environmentalists' concerns about global warming. Solar and wind power cannot meet all of our anticipated energy needs over the next two decades but it should be part of the energy mix.

We've already seen how environmentalists like Stewart Brand, Patrick Moore, James Lovelock and Hugh Montefiore have stepped forward to embrace nuclear energy. I'm guessing that there might be more out there, and the nuclear industry is eager to start a dialogue with them.

Hat tip to EV World.

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Sell: DOE and NuStart Reach Agreement

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on the Nuclear Power 2010 program yesterday. The big news came during testimony by Deputy Secretary of Energy, Jeffrey Clay Sell, who announced that DOE had completed an agreement with NuStart Energy to develop a budget and schedule for selecting a pair of sites for potential new reactors.

Also testifying at the hearing was Constellation Energy Group President Mike Wallace and NRC Chairman Nils Diaz.

Thanks to Paul Primavera of the Safe, Clean Nuclear Power Yahoo group, for the links.

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President to Make Major Energy Speech Today

Via Reuters:

Under pressure over high energy prices, President Bush on Wednesday will propose tackling the root causes of the problem by encouraging new oil refineries be built at closed military bases and jumpstarting construction of new nuclear power plants . . .

On nuclear, Bush will propose offering companies risk insurance to mitigate the cost of delays due to any potential failures in the licensing process. The last generation of nuclear power plants was built in the 1970s and 1980s.

"There is a new and better licensing process. However, there is substantial uncertainty with potential investors about the ability to move through the new licensing process," one senior official said.

More later.

UPDATE: From the Financial Times:
Senior White House officials said Mr Bush would also call for international co-operation to promote “greater use of clean coal and nuclear power around the world” to reduce stress on global energy markets.

In addition to increasing capacity, Mr Bush believes nuclear power can also be part of the solution to climate change because it does not produce the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

It certainly seems like the planets are aligning in favor of a new international consensus to promote nuclear energy. As we've been noting for a couple of weeks now, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair seems poised to make a major announcement concerning new nuclear build in that country immediately following the May 5th Parliamentary election.

Looks like we owe a major hat tip to Roger Pielke, Jr. over at Prometheus, who picked up on this trend a couple of weeks ago. At this point, his prediction that we would see a major announcement on nuclear energy at the G8 summit in Scotland this July looks prescient.

UPDATE: The President's speech is at 2:00 p.m. We'll have more once it's complete.

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Here's the relevant passage from today's speech:
The first essential step toward greater energy independence is to apply technology to increase domestic production from existing energy resources. And one of the most promising sources of energy is nuclear power. Today's technology has made nuclear power safer, cleaner, and more efficient than ever before. Nuclear power is now providing about 20 percent of America's electricity, with no air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear power is one of the safest, cleanest sources of power in the world, and we need more of it here in America.

Unfortunately, America has not ordered a new nuclear power plant since the 1970s. France, by contrast, has built 58 plants in the same period. And today, France gets more than 78 percent of its electricity from safe, clean nuclear power.

It's time for America to start building again. That's why, three years ago, my administration launched the Nuclear Power 2010 Initiative. This is a seven-year, $1.1 billion effort by government and industry to start building new nuclear power plants by the end of this decade. One of the greatest obstacles we face to building new plants is regulatory uncertainty which discourages new plant construction. Since the 1970s, more than 35 plants were stopped at various stages of planning and construction because of bureaucratic obstacles. No wonder -- no wonder -- the industry is hesitant to start building again. We must provide greater certainty to those who risk capital if we want to expand a safe, clean source of energy that will make us less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

To do so, I've asked the Department of Energy to work on changes to existing law that will reduce uncertainty in the nuclear plant licensing process, and also provide federal risk insurance that will protect those building the first four new nuclear plants against delays that are beyond their control. A secure energy future for America must include more nuclear power.

After the President's speech, NEI released a statement from President and CEO, Skip Bowman. Here's an excerpt:
“There is widespread recognition that nuclear energy offers an emission-free source of electricity that can be readily expanded to meet our needs for reliable, baseload power and reach our clean-air goals. The expected increase of America’s electricity demand by 50 percent over the next 20 years, along with increased awareness of our global environment, means that new nuclear power plants must be part of our energy future. We look forward to working with the president and Congress to pass an energy bill that achieves the dual goals of sustainable economic growth and environmental stewardship.”

For AP's coverage of the speech, click here.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Scottish Greens Gearing Up to Fight New Nuclear Build

From the BBC:

The Scottish Greens are urging voters to make nuclear power an election issue and oppose any Labour plans to increase the number of nuclear stations.

Nineteen years after the Chernobyl disaster, Chris Ballance MSP said nuclear power had proved to be "a dirty, risky and expensive mistake".

He said renewable energy had not been properly utilised to meet Scotland's energy needs.

The MSP said a new Labour government would build more nuclear stations.

For some of our past posts on nuclear energy and the U.K., click here and here.

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More On The Changing Mood on Nuclear Energy

In today's Financial Times, Amity Shlaes examines America's new interest in nuclear energy:

But, as Peter Huber and Mark Mills remind us in The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why we will Never Run out of Energy . . . the substitution has been outrageously wasteful. It takes four tons of coal to satisfy the power needs of one inhabitant of Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive for a year. A few ounces of uranium could cover the same need.

Then there is the matter of damage to the environment. The central hypocrisy of the green movement is that antinuclear policy has driven the US to use the hydrocarbon fuels so much opposed by the movement against global warming.

But the mood is changing and energy options open today are far more numerous than in the 1970s or 1980s. Scarcity, once the premise of all energy policy, can now be questioned: new technologies mean that the US may never run out of energy.

Huber and Mills are not without their critics, as we saw yesterday. Read the rest of Shlaes' piece now.

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Garrish to Retire, Golan to Take Over at Yucca Mountain

Ted Garrish, acting director of the Yucca Mountain project at the Department of Energy, is retiring. He'll be replaced by Paul Golan, who currently serves as principal deputy assistant secretary for environmental management at the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.

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John Ritch: Nuclear Key to Our Energy Future

In today's Washington Post, John Ritch, director general of the World Nuclear Association, writes that a global renaissance in nuclear energy could be critical to solving our future energy needs:

Around the world, there is a new realism about nuclear energy, a recognition of its essential virtue, which is its capacity to deliver power cleanly, safely, reliably and on a massive scale. This thinking is eclipsing old-school anti-nuclear environmentalism.

Increasingly, thoughtful environmentalists see anti-nuclearism as counterproductive. They worry not about the growth of nuclear energy but about the likelihood that it is not growing rapidly enough to produce the clean-energy revolution the world urgently needs.

Read the rest right now.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Report: U.K. Wind Farms Not Cost-Effective

From the Telegraph (U.K.):

Wind farms will require £12billion in public subsidies, almost three times as much as nuclear power plants will cost, according to a new report.

A study from Oxford Economic Research Associates said nuclear power could provide the same amount of carbon-free electricity for £4.4billion. The study also forecast that the Government will fail to hit its 20-year targets for carbon dioxide emissions by between 40pc and 60pc unless it significantly moves away from fossil fuels.

"Given the size of the environmental change targets, the Government is faced with some tough decisions," said Robin Smale, author of the study. "At the moment, the two options available are increasing the amount of nuclear energy or increasing renewables at the taxpayer's expense," he said.

Looks like there's a debate brewing, and it's schedule for immediately after the May 5 Parliamentary election.

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Roberts vs. Huber on Peak Energy

On Saturday, the LA Times printed an email exchange between Paul Roberts, author of The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World and Peter Huber, co-author of The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy.

This comment from Roberts caught my eye:

As with other "silver bullet" technologies, nuclear is too often touted as the endgame, when, at best, it can be only a piece of the next energy economy.

"Silver bullet"? As far as I'm concerned, the nuclear industry has never touted itself as a complete panacea to America's, and the world's, future energy needs. What the nation and the world need is diversity of supply -- a situation where we don't become overly dependent on any one type of fuel to supply our energy needs. That's the situation we find ourselves in today, as overbuild of natural gas-fired electric capacity has placed intolerable pricing pressure on that marketplace.

Another aside: I've read Roberts' book, and while it provides a comprehensive examination of the "Peak Oil" theory, he hardly touches on nuclear energy at all -- including its critical role in displacing oil-fired electrical generating capacity after the 1973 oil embargo.

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Domenici: Making a Pitch For the Hydrogen Economy

In Saturday's edition of the Free New Mexican, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici made his pitch for a hydrogen economy powered by nuclear energy:

Right now, we are researching several possible sources for hydrogen. Today, natural gas is the most popular choice, but we are funding research into sources from nuclear reactors to windmills.

Personally, I believe high-temperature nuclear reactors offer the ideal source for hydrogen for four reasons.

First, nuclear reactors don't emit carbons in the atmosphere. Natural gas, the other popular feedstock, is a fossil fuel that emits carbons when it's burned.

Second, we can provide our own nuclear power, controlling supply and, hence, price. We don't have to rely on foreign nations for nuclear power like we do for oil and, increasingly, natural gas.

To find out his other two reasons, click here now.

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On Point Examines Nuclear Energy

Last week on WBUR-FM, the NPR affiliate in Boston, the program On Point held a discussion concerning how nuclear energy might contribute to America's future energy needs. The program, which runs just over 48 minutes, is available in both Real Media and Windows Media formats.

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More On The Clinton ESP Hearing

Our friend Norris McDonald of the African-American Environmentalist Associaiton (AAEA), has posted his own account of the events at Clinton last week. And when you get a chance, stop by AAEA's brand new blog.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Report of the NRC public meeting for Clinton's ESP

The following was authored by Michael Stuart, a Senior Nuclear Instructor in Dominion, and an active member of North American Young Generation in Nuclear. It is an excellent summary of the events in and around Clinton Illinois on 4/19/05:

Trip Synopsis
Clinton Early Site Permit, Draft Environmental Impact Statement Hearing

On Monday, April 18, Delbert Horn, Kelly Taylor, and I left for Clinton, Illinois. To conserve gas (in true environmentalist fashion) Norris McDonald (President of the African-American Environmentalist Association) and his son, Sandy came down to Richmond from D.C. to car-pool with us.

We arrived in Clinton right about midnight and within minutes, we found out from a local paper that our anti friends were holding a press conference on Tuesday at the University of Illinois in Bloomington-Normal. We decided to attend.

The next day at around 11 a.m. we arrived at the press conference, about 45 minutes' drive north of Clinton Station, which drew a crowd of about 22 people. The 22 people were made up of about 12 anti-nuclear organizers and speakers, 4 pro-nuclear (us), 2 camera operators (affiliation unknown), and maybe 3 or 4 actual reporters, although I am not certain. The popularity of their conference may have been affected by the election of the Pope and President Bush's visit to Springfield.

Each person made a statement against nuclear energy, such as whether the power is needed, alternative forms of energy generation haven't been considered, waste issues, security, and health impacts. One person, Phil Huckleberry of the McLean County Green Party, had a brand new assertion: All that Illinois really needs to do is to legalize the growing of hemp. It is a crop with great economic benefits and can also supply energy. Brendan Hoffman also asserted that renewable energy could supply eight times the energy needs for all of Illinois.

At the end of the press conference a couple of the anti's asked a few "softball questions." The apparent reporters did not ask any questions. Delbert then asked the speakers to compare the dangers of nuclear power with something we could understand so that we could get a feel for relative risks. I asked if any of them were aware of studies involving actual workers who have worked in nuclear fields for nearly 50 years showing decreased risk of cancers. "If nuclear is so bad, why do the health effects on the actual workers who are exposed to the highest amounts of radiation not support their claim?" They could provide no answers, but one of the speakers suggested that people employed in the nuclear industry are healthier from the start.

After the press conference we were fortunate to be able to tour Clinton Station. Since it is a BWR, the RCA includes the turbine building. We were issued dosimetry and took a tour of the station, including a view of the fuel building, turbine building, and much to our surprise, we even entered containment (at power) where we could see the top of the reactor vessel covered with water! We were impressed with the people who worked there and cleanliness and aesthetic appeal of the site.

That evening, we arrived at the junior high school at around 5 p.m. and set up our tables, banners, signs, and information handouts. We then got to work greeting people and asking them if we could share any information. Most people were very nice and had a few questions. We were able to speak to them with a smile and an intelligent answer.

The attendees can be categorized as follows: locals made up the majority of the crowd (approximately 300 people), and the majority of them were in favor of Clinton's ESP. Non-locals, were mostly anti-nuclear, but also contained a strong pro-nuclear contingent of NA-YGN and ANS members, mostly from within 2 to 5 hours of Clinton. The NA-YGN and ANS members, many of whom were students, were excited and eager to help out.

The local NA-YGN and ANS members helped us speak to each person and encourage them to sign up to say just a few words in support of Clinton. We explained that making a statement, even if it's just a few words, has a huge impact, especially when it comes to media reports. Many of the young people who were not already part of NA-YGN were excited to learn more about how they could join and help out. We collected information from some, and pointed many of them to our web site.

One person, a local resident who was a Quaker, was looking at our materials with a concerned expression. I asked him if I could answer any questions, and he proceeded to tell me the concerns he had, which sounded like they were straight from the anti-nuclear material. We conversed about each one of his concerns. At first he seemed skeptical, but with every exchange, he became more and more interested. At the end of our conversation, he seemed genuinely thankful for having talked to us. He shook my hand and asked if he could contact me if he had more questions, to which I gladly assented. Later in the meeting, he spoke as a person who was concerned, but had "heard valid points on both sides" and had hopes that everyone would be able to set aside their emotional involvement and speak rationally and logically with each other. I considered our impact on him to be another great success.

Members of the media approached many of us and we were able to give them a simple and consistent message: Nuclear power is safe, clean, and reliable. One member of the media approached Brendan Hoffman and me thinking that we were both protesters. I told the reporter that "although we're standing beside each other, we're not on the same team." He then looked at our signs and with a surprised look said, "Oh!" He then proceeded to interview Brendan. Afterwards, the reporter interviewed me, and I was able to provide counter points to each one of Brendan's contentions. It was great!

Because of our high numbers we were able to actively engage a lot of people. By the time the meeting started, the majority of the crowd wore our pro-nuclear sticker ("Nuclear YES! Because we care about the air.") This made it very easy for us (and the media) to identify the pro-nuclear people in attendance. Unfortunately, these stickers went like hotcakes, so not everyone who wanted one was able to get one. The handouts were popular, as well. We distributed 153 of them (out of an original 200).

I counted 20 speakers opposed and 24 speakers in favor of Clinton's ESP. Each person was supposed to be limited to three minutes. Of the speakers in favor of the ESP, at least half of them were there (and over half of them spoke) as a direct result of our involvement. The NA-YGN and ANS students' fact-based enthusiasm provided an excellent balance to the often-emotional student environmentalists. Local speakers included the Sheriff, and a member of the local fire department. All of them seemed very calm and rational. An older gentleman said, "I don't appreciate these people driving down here to my town with their cars and polluting my air." He later jokingly said, "I've been living in this area for over 50 years, and I think this plant has caused me to get gray hair and wrinkles!"

The opposition was overwhelmingly emotional and irrational. They were also overwhelmingly from Chicago and Bloomington-Normal. One person said, "I know that these engineers will assure you that nuclear power is safe and clean, but I'm not an engineer, I'm a human being!" Another person said that the hydrogen economy was hype because those plans involve the use of "water, which is not renewable." Another person said that the plant had the explosive power of a thousand Hiroshima bombs. She had been to Hiroshima many times and witnessed the devastation herself. When the moderator tried to interrupt an older lady after six minutes of emotional words, she said something to the effect of, "D*mn it! Stop interrupting me, and let me finish!" Words cannot express our disap! pointment when Phil Huckleberry didn't promote in his statement his idea of hemp being the answer to the economic and energy needs to the citizens of Clinton.

Attendees were later reassured that water was, in fact, renewable and that engineers were, in fact, human beings.

On the whole, I believe that our participation at the Clinton DEIS hearing was an overwhelming success. By encouraging people to speak, we turned the numbers against the antis. By sharing information, we were able to help educate the locals on the difference between fact and fantasy. By connecting with other energetic and enthusiastic participants, we have new friends and partners in the education effort. By being visible and encouraging these enthusiastic participants, we were able to share our message with the media: There are other voices besides those of Exelon and the anti-nuclear environmentalists. We are professional, rational, and educated, and we want to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

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Government Minister: Australia Needs to Consider Nuclear Energy

It looks like Australia is getting ready to take another step toward building commercial nuclear reactors. Here's a report from the nation's ABC Radio:

The Federal Education and Science Minister, Brendan Nelson, has broken from Liberal Party policy and advocated nuclear energy as a way to cut down on greenhouse polluting gases.

He says it's a long-term proposal based on the simple reasoning that if Australia mines uranium, the country should be able to generate power from it.

Dr Nelson branded people and groups against nuclear power as hysterics.

His newly publicised views have angered most environmentalists but are seen as an encouraging step by the uranium mining industry.

For some of our previous posts on Australia, click here, here and here.

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Business Week Tries Blogging

Say hello to Blogspotting

And for a great article about why you and your business need to be blogging, click here.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Clinton ESP News Update

First, the joint press conference hosted by several anti-nuclear groups in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois on Tuesday, April 19: Brendan Hoffman of Public Citizen took the microphone. His point was that instead of a new nuclear power plant, Illinois should focus on renewables, since the Union of Concerned Scientists have produced a study showing how much economic benefit Illinois can get from a renewable energy standard. He also gave a list of six complaints of things that are missing from the NRC's draft Environmental Impact Statement, including, for example, the need for additional power, suitability of the site for long term storage of used nuclear fuel, security issues and health impacts of a nuclear power station.

I don't see how pursuing renewable energy sources and new nuclear power for baseload energy generation are mutually exclusive. Why not do both, and expand the environmental benefits?

As for what is missing from the NRC's DEIS, it does not seem reasonable to postulate that more power would NOT be needed within the next 20 years for which the site is banked. Public Citizen's other concerns would be more closely related to either the design certification or the construction and operating license, and do not belong in the study of site suitabilty. That's the whole intent of breaking the new licensing process into smaller chunks - deal with the information to be evaluated one piece at a time. If you stay on topic, at each point in the process, concerns expressed on both sides of an argument can generate a dialogue based on fact rather than rhetoric. Discussion of the whether the 6 concerns are applicable points to be made does not even belong in this step of the process.

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Greenspan on National Energy Policy

From the Reuters wire:

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Thursday the United States had "better have" some sort of national energy policy for both economic and national security reasons.

When asked at a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee if he thought America needs a national energy policy, Greenspan said, "I think that we better have one because it's something which is integrated not only into our economic system but into our national security system as well."

He said it is possible new technologies will lead to alternative sources for the fuels consumers use now.

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More Bloggers For Nuclear Energy

Say hello to No Credentials and Vast Wasteland and Light Seeking Light.

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Is Nuclear Back on the U.K. Energy Agenda?

From the Whitehaven News (U.K.):

THE chairman of BNFL has triggered an election row after hinting that the Government would build new nuclear plants if it won a third term.

Gordon Campbell’s comments have sparked strong criticism from opposition politicians, who have accused the Government of using him to sneak out the pledge in a bid to sway West Cumbrian voters.

Mr Campbell, chairman of state-owned BNFL since June 2004, made the comments at Monday’s Technology 2005 exhibition of engineering and associated services, hosted by the British Nuclear Energy Society. He said he would be “amazed” if, after the election, there was not a review of nuclear energy and nuclear new-build was something all the major political parties would have to look at.

Mr Campbell said he had spoken to sources very close to Downing Street and anticipated an announcement within weeks of the poll that new nuclear reactors would be built. “Nuclear power has to form part of the energy policy and I believe it will be grasped after the election,” he said.

U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair has been one of the most outspoken advocates of the Kyoto Protocol, and an open Labor Party endorsement of new nuclear build wouldn't exactly be a surprise. This from the Financial Times:
The prime minister has committed Labour to ambitious targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010 and 60 per cent by 2050. The targets are intrinsic to the prime minister's manifesto mission "to continue to lead internationally on climate change".

But Britain cannot meet its own domestic goals at present, let alone provide global direction. Official figures this year showed that carbon dioxide emissions actually increased in 2003 and 2004. The hastily commissioned climate change review will now recommend policy changes to get the UK "back on track" to meeting the carbon targets.

The review could herald a radical shake-up in Labour's attitude to nuclear power. "It's fairly obvious there's going to have to be a rethink of how these targets are met, which inevitably leads to the question of nuclear," Brian Wilson, a Labour former energy minister, said yesterday. "Does it make sense to get rid of our only carbon-free energy source at the same time as trying to cut carbon emissions?"

And this news also would seem to gibe with a prediction made a few weeks ago over at Prometheus, that some kind of announcement regarding nuclear energy and global climate policy may well be on the agenda of the upcoming G8 meeting in Scotland in July.

Stay tuned.

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Progress Energy Considers New Nuclear Build

From the Raleigh News and Observer:

Progress Energy is exploring the possibility of building a new nuclear plant as the company looks at economical ways to supply North Carolina's future energy needs.

The Raleigh-based utility's top executive said he expects company officials will decide within two years what type of energy will best meet anticipated electricity demand.

But the cheapest, cleanest and wisest fuel source would be nuclear, and a natural site for a new reactor would be to expand at the company's Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant in southern Wake County, chief executive Robert McGehee said in an interview.

This is an exciting prospect, and one that would have been unthinkable until recently.

McGehee will be delivering the annual state of the industry address at the 2005 Nuclear Energy Assembly next month here in Washington.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sam Bodman Chat

The Energy Secretary will be discussing the Administration's energy policy in an online chat that begins in mere moments.

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Notes on the Anti-nuclear Press Conference in Clinton

I've found a couple of reports (here is another) about the press conference organized by several anti-nuclear groups prior to the NRC hearing. From the articles and what I've gleaned from people that were there, the anti-nuclear representives presented their usual arguments to abandon nuclear and focus on renewables.

However, Phil Huckleberry, chairman of the McLean County Green Party and the Illinois Green Party, presented one new angle that the press failed to mention. That is, he proposed that to compensate for any economic benefits that a new nuclear power plant might bring and the loss of farmland that would accompany wind or solar facilities, farmers in Illinois should begin replacing their current crops with hemp...for industrial uses, of course.

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Clinton ESP Hearing News

I'll post links to articles as I find them today, but so far, this is the most complete report I've seen about the NRC hearing last night on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Exelon's Early Site Permit (ESP) application.

I was lucky enough to get a full account last night from some North American Young-Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN) members that were there. I haven't seen NA-YGN mentioned yet, but I'm proud to say that it was instrumental in encouraging nuclear proponents in the area to show their support and sharing "Lessons Learned" from the NRC EIS hearing in Louisa, Virginia in February. NA-YGN Public Information officer Sama Bilbao y Leon put together the petition mentioned in the article and NA-YGN member Laura Ekern (yes, her name is misspelled in the article) was quoted as saying

Nuclear energy is safe, clean, reliable and an important part of the balance of our energy mix.
Where nuclear supporters are working together, we are making a difference!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Zuckerman on Board with New Nuclear Build

In his latest column on energy policy in U.S. News and World Report, Mort Zuckerman comes out in favor of the expanded use of nuclear energy in electricity production:

On the production side, we are going to have to start building nuclear power plants, particularly since new nuclear technologies are safer and cleaner than ever.

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More on New Nuclear Plant Costs

The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), an agency within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently published a 2005 update to their “Projected Costs of Generating Electricity” series. The study provides some interesting perspective on some ongoing discussions posted on FuturePundit and Disinterested Party regarding the costs of generating electricity using nuclear power versus other technologies.

The NEA/IEA study uses the levelized lifetime cost approach to compare generating costs for the future. This approach looks at generation costs over the plant economic lifetime, while taking into account the time value of money; that is, money spent yesterday or tomorrow does not have the same value as money spent today. Levelized costs are comprised of all components of capital, Operations and Maintainence (O&M) and fuel costs that would influence a utility’s choice of generation options, including construction, refurbishment and decommissioning, where applicable.

The study finds that at a 5% discount rate, levelized costs for nuclear range between $21 and $31 per MWh (2.1 to 3.1 cents per KWh), with investment costs representing 50% of total cost on average, while O&M and fuel represent around 30% and 20%, respectively. For gas-fired plants, the study finds levelized costs ranging from $37 to $60 per MWh (3.7 to 6 cents per KWh), with investment costs accounting for less than 15% of total costs, O&M accounting for less than 10%, and fuel costs accounting for nearly 80% of total costs, on average. The study finds levelized costs for coal-fired plants ranging between $25 and $50 per MWh (2.5 to 5 cents per KWh). Investment costs for coal plants account for just over a third of total costs, while O&M and fuel account for around 20% and 45%, respectively.

In the recent past, gas-fired generation has been the technology of choice due to relatively low capital costs, construction periods and investment risk. However, for technologies where fuel costs are a large proportion of total generating costs, volatile fuel prices can present significant risks. High volatility of natural gas prices and the future need for large, base-load sources of electricity is diverting attention away from these smaller gas generating units.

Another uncertainty for investors in new power plants will be controls on future emissions; specifically on carbon dioxide. Carbon controls or restrictions on other emissions from fossil generation could directly affect the profitability of fossil fueled power plants, thus significantly increasing the risks associated with investment in those projects.

Gas price uncertainty and the search for non-emitting electricity sources have resulted in the renewed outlook on nuclear power witnessed today. While it may seem that investment costs represent a disproportionate amount of total levelized costs for nuclear power, the relatively smaller proportion of fuel costs result in more stable costs at the residential meter since nuclear is not as susceptible to swings in fuel price.

Modularity of new designs will also provide economic advantages that could reduce these initial capital costs, while helping the industry more quickly reach the “Nth-of-a-kind” plant. A study conducted at the University of Chicago titled “the Economic Future of Nuclear Power” found that first-of-a-kind engineering (FOAKE) costs for new nuclear designs could increase capital costs by as much as 35%. The study finds that new nuclear power plants could “reach the required range of competitiveness” after construction of the first five plants.

The NEA/IEA study concludes that “none of the traditional electricity generating technologies can be expected to be the cheapest in all situations,” and “supports that…there is room and opportunity for all efficient generating technologies.” Generation from nuclear power provides clean and reliable base-load electricity that is not susceptible to fuel price swings and does not result in the emission of harmful greenhouse gases. While there are significant uncertainties in the construction and regulatory realm that must be addressed, the industry is confident that nuclear power must be a part of a reliable, diverse and secure energy mix going forward.

UPDATE BY ERIC McERLAIN: Keep in mind that the figures we quote here don't reflect retail electricity rates, which also include transmission costs. According to the most recent data from the Energy Information Administration, the average retail price of electricity for residential customers in the U.S. clocked in at 8.5 cents per KWh. However, in some areas of the country, that can be significantly higher, especially during periods of peak demand.

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More Misinformation

The Illinois State University chapter of the Student Environmental Action Coaltion ,one of the groups organizing the press conference Kelly Taylor mentioned below, has a website. On the front page is a notice about the NRC hearing tonight in Clinton on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for Exelon's Early Site Permit (ESP) application. The group urges people to attend and says

This is the last opportunity to voice your concerns to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
This is yet another tactic by anti-nuclear extremists that makes my blood boil.

This is absolutely not the last opportunity for public comment in the licensing process for new nuclear power plants. It is probable that this well-meaning student group is simply parroting what they have been told by the likes of PACE, Public Citizen and NIRS, but I would encourage them, and other environmental groups, to check the facts. If they did, they would find that, in addition to the public comment period on the Environmental Impact Statement, interested citizens can also raise their concerns prior to the NRC's final Safety Evaluation Report and during the evaluation phase for a combined Construction and Operating license (COL). They can even comment during the NRC's post-construction review that ensures that a plant was built in accordance with the requirements of the license (called the Inspection, Test, Analysis, and Acceptance Criteria).

The primary difference from the previous process is that the NRC will resolve all licensing issues prior to a utility making the enormous investment to begin construction. That means that after an ESP and COL are issued, and assuming the proposed plant is of a design already certified by the NRC, the only comments that will be accepted are those that relate to whether the as-built condition matches the licensed design.

Clearly, the new licensing process does not prevent anyone from making their voice heard. Honest environmentalists would do well to stop spreading the lies of antinuclear extremists.

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Clinton ESP News Update

Sorry I don't have a link to the article, but Monday's paper copy of The Clinton Daily Journal reports that today there will be a joint press conference at 11AM in the Old Main Room of the Bone Student Center at Illinois State University.

The following groups are reported to be hosting the press conference:
No New Nukes (N3)
Illinois State University Studen Environmental Action Coalition
McLean County Green Party
Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of Evanston, IL
Public Citizen of Washington, D.C.

I will be attending the press conference, as well as the NRC public meeting tonight for Exelon's ESP application.

Check back here for updates later in the day!

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Quantifying Nuclear Energy's Environmental Benefit

As a followup to his MIT Technology Review article, Environmental Heresies, Stewart Brand is now engaged in a debate with environmentalist Joseph Romm on the merits of Brand's original piece.

In the course of the back and forth, Brand asks this question:

There's a statisic I've yet to see--- how much more carbon dioxide production there would be if all the considerable existing nuclear power in the world were not out there cranking out megawattage.

Here's the data Brand is looking for:
Annual emissions avoided. In 2003, U.S. nuclear power plants prevented 3.36 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 1.24 million tons of nitrogen oxide, and 679.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the earth's atmosphere.

Longterm emissions avoided. Between 1995 and 2003, U.S. nuclear generation avoided the emission of 34.3 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 14.8 million tons of nitrogen oxides, and 6.0 billion tons of carbon dioxide.

Over one-third of total voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reductions. According to the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, nuclear power plants were responsible for 41 percent of the total voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions reported by U.S. companies in 2001. Nuclear plants reported avoiding 36 million metric tons of carbon that year. In 2002, nuclear power plants were responsible for 35 percent of total voluntary reductions, avoiding 35.7 million metric tons of carbon.

Global benefits of nuclear energy. Worldwide, 439 nuclear power plants in 30 nations produced 16 percent of the world's electricity. By replacing fossil fuels in electricity generation, nuclear plants in 2001 reduced carbon emissions by over 600 million metric tons.

For more on the environmental benefits of nuclear energy, click here.

Thanks to Crumb Trail for the pointer.

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Monday, April 18, 2005

The Costs of Replacing Nuclear Capacity

Whenever anyone tells you that we can replace nuclear energy completely with renewable sources of energy, keep these following stats in mind.

From the Times (U.K.):

To replace a 1,000 megawatt (MW) nuclear station supplying just 1/65th of peak demand requires 30 miles of wave machines; or it would need a wind farm that would cover an area equivalent to Inner London, or for solar power, it would require an area half as much again. If we were to try to replace the output of that 1,000MW nuclear power station with bio-oils or biomass fuels, we would have to cover the entire Scottish Highlands with oil-seed rape or turn Wales into a giant willow coppice.

We need a balanced energy portfolio that includes clean coal, gas, hydro and renewables. Future demand for electricity is going to grow too fast, both domestically and globally, for it to be any other way. Thanks to Synthstuff for the link.

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Finland Can't Get Enough Nuclear

Many people are aware that the first European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) is under construction in Olkiluoto, Finland.

But did you know that Finland is considering building a sixth plant? This article states that Timo Rajala, chief executive of Finnish power group Pohjolan Voima Oy (PVO) reportedly said

We should be able to make a decision on a nuclear power station by 2008 and it would then be finished in 2015.
And This is a great place for a shameless plug for the International Youth Nuclear Congress 2006. The fourth biennial Congress will begin in Stockholm, Sweden on June 18, 2006 and later in the week there will be a boat trip to Finland to see the under-construction Olkiluoto-3. See the Call for Papers for details. Abstracts are due September 15. The IYNC site also contains information for potential sponsors.

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Indonesia Steps Forward on New Nuclear Build

Following up on an announcement made at an IAEA conference in Paris last month, Indonesia has confirmed its plans to build a nuclear power plant. From AKI:

The Indonesian government announced on Monday that it has approved a project to build the country's first nuclear power plant in central Java on the Muria peninsula. Construction is to begin in 2010 with the aim of producing electricity by 2016. The project will involve the construction of four power plants, each with a capacity of 7,000 megawatts.

By way of reference, one megawatt is enough to power 1,000 typical American homes.

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PWC: Blackouts Likely Due to "Insufficient Investment"

From the Bloomberg wire:

Power blackouts similar to those in the U.S. East Coast, Italy and the U.K. two years ago are likely to be repeated around the world because of insufficient investment and aging power plants, PriceWaterhouseCoopers said.

About $12.7 trillion of investment, greater than the U.S. annual economic output, is needed through 2030 to meet an expected doubling in electricity consumption, a report by consultants at PriceWaterhouseCoopers said. That total is higher than the estimated $10 trillion spending on electricity called for by the International Energy Agency during the same period.

``Blackouts are expected to become more frequent,'' according to the report, based on a survey of 119 investors and executives at utilities in 36 countries. ``Two-thirds of utility respondents believe the likelihood of blackouts will increase or remain the same. Only a quarter think it will reduce.''

Further . . .
More than half of the respondents to the report's survey said they expect new nuclear power stations, eve with popular and political opposition, because countries need to replace aging coal-fed plants and older nuclear reactors, the report said . . .

In the U.K., renewable sources are expected to generate about 10 percent of the country's electricity by 2010, and 20 percent in 2020, up from about 5 percent now. Nuclear plants such as Sizewell supply about one-fifth of the Britain's electricity, and almost all power in France.

Nuclear power stations will also be backed by governments after countries around the world, including those in the European Union, committed to cut carbon emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants under the Kyoto Protocol, the report said. Nuclear stations don't emit carbon dioxide.

To download the report from PWC, click here.

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Stand Up for Nuclear Energy in Minnesota

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting this Wednesday, April, 20th in Monticello, Minnesota to discuss the relicensing application of the Monticello Nuclear Plant.

The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Monticello Community Center, 505 Walnut Street, Monticello. Click here for a map. As we've seen in the past, efforts by pro-nuclear groups can make a difference. If you're in the area, make plants to stop by and let the NRC know just what the plant means to the community and the local economy.

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President Bush on the Energy Bill

In his weekly radio address to the nation, President Bush focused on energy legislation currently making its way through Congress:

[T]he energy bill must diversify our energy supply by developing alternative sources of energy like ethanol or biodiesel. We need to promote safe, clean nuclear power. And to create more energy choices, Congress should provide tax credits for renewable power sources such as wind, solar, and landfill gas. We must also continue our clean coal technology projects so that we can use the plentiful source of coal in an environmentally friendly way. The bill must also support pollution-free cars and trucks, powered by hydrogen fuel cells instead of gasoline.

Click here for the audio.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Spotlight on Skip Bowman

In the latest issue of National Journal, reporter Margaret Kriz profiled NEI's President and CEO, Skip Bowman. The article is only available to paid subscribers, but here's a small excerpt:

Industry officials are counting on Bowman to build broad bipartisan support for nuclear power. "Fundamental to me in the process [of hiring a new NEI chief] was to get somebody who would be genuinely bipartisan, who understands that the future of nuclear technology is dependent upon it being supported by both parties," said John Rowe, president and CEO of Exelon, a Chicago-based utility that owns more nuclear power plants than any other firm in the nation. "Skip ran a large nuclear fleet with more than 100 floating reactors. He was in business where . . . long-term stability of your plants needed bipartisan support."

For more details on his career, click here for the official announcement from last August after Bowman was named NEI's President and CEO-elect.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Not the Whole Truth on Nuclear Fuel

If I told you that cake is made from eggs, you would probably agree that's a true statement. But you wouldn't assume you could put a piece of cake in a hen's nest and hatch a chick from it.

Don't try explaining that to MSNBC News, who would be glad to have us think that nuclear fuel made from weapons-grade plutonium is still weapons-grade plutonium. The story is called Controversial nuclear fuel arrives in U.S. and delivers a litany of complaints aimed a program which, by treaty, is designed to remove weapons-grade plutonium from a Russian storage shelf and use it instead to power SC homes and businesses.

So what would actually be a better use for it? Leave it laying around in military-guarded munitions heaps? Turn it into glass bricks and then bury them under the desert? Can you imagine the environmentalists campaigning in favor of construction of a nearby vitrification plant?

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Costs for New Nuclear Reactors

A week or two ago, FuturePundit sparked a long string of comments regarding the cost of new nuclear reactors in the United States. The blogger found it difficult to find good information on the projected costs of new nuclear units in this country, and as a result had difficulty accurately comparing future nuclear electric power costs to fossil fuel electric power costs.

To ensure a common basis for comparison, the capital costs of electric generating technologies are expressed in dollars per kilowatt of capacity. The capital costs used in such comparisons are so-called “overnight” capital costs—i.e., they assume the plant is built “overnight” and thus do not include interest charges and financing costs.

In order to provide competitive electricity, the nuclear industry has determined that the next generation of nuclear reactors must have overnight capital costs in the range of $1,000 – $1,200 per kilowatt of generating capacity for the so called “Nth-of-a-kind” nuclear plant. Nth-of-a-kind capital costs are achieved after first-time design and engineering costs have been recovered and as industry incorporates improvements in construction techniques and construction management gained during construction of the first few units.

The industry’s capital cost targets have a sound basis in rigorous estimates performed by reactor vendors. Westinghouse has invested millions of dollars evaluating its estimates for the AP1000 Advanced Light Water Reactor (ALWR), and their estimates have been verified and endorsed by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), multiple utilities, and several international architect-engineers, including The Lungmen (Dragon Gate) nuclear projectin Taiwan.

Areva’s European Pressurized Water Reactor, which is currently under construction in Olkiluoto, Finland, is anticipated to be completed within 48 months; similar schedules are believed possible in the United States. The US nuclear industry is currently in the process of solidifying and streamlining the process through which new plants will be built, via early site-permitting and a combined operating and licensing procedure that will avoid delays such as those experienced by the first generation of US plants.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Checking in With 321 Energy

Here's something to add to your readling list: 321 Energy. There's plenty of nuclear energy information, including a report on the Uranium market.

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Nuclear Energy "Down Under"

Last week, Australian MP and erstwhile rock star Peter Garrett, once a reliable opponent of nuclear energy, admitted it might be time to reconsider his position in light of the threat posed by global warming. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

There should be also be a debate about the pros and cons of nuclear energy, the former rock singer and head of the Australian Conservation Foundation said, though he remained unconvinced it was a safe alternative …

"I’m not a technical expert on these issues, merely saying we should examine and consider the options closely,” Mr Garrett said.

The debate is joined. Click here, and here for local reaction.

Elsewhere, Helen Caldicott has a piece in today's edition of The Australian where she makes some familiar claims about nuclear energy -- ones that were debunked by NEI Vice President for Communications, Scott Peterson a few weeks back in the pages of the Toledo Blade.

And in case you missed it, BHP Billiton got provisional approval for its proposed purchase WMC Resources, the owner of the Olympic Dam mine.

For some previous posts on nuclear energy in Australia, click here and here.

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