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Knight: Sierra Club Ideas Would "Collapse the Economy"

Over at The Denver Post, columnist Al Knight has cracked the code with another member of the "no solutions" gang on questions of energy and the environment -- in this case, the Sierra Club:
More nuclear plants would improve the convenience and therefore the use of electric or hybrid cars, reducing air pollution in the bargain. More electric and hybrid cars would reduce dependence on foreign oil.

This trifecta of potential blessings has utterly failed to impress the Sierra Club. A posting on its website ( flatly states the club "opposes the licensing, construction and operation of new nuclear reactors" pending the achievement of two important objectives (which are impossible to meet):

There must be a national and "global" policy to eliminate "energy over- use" and "unnecessary economic growth." It is already obvious that the United States has no power to prohibit "unnecessary economic growth" around the globe.


What the Sierra Club seeks is a commitment by the American people to abandon development of adequate energy sources in the hope that other sources might be developed before the economy collapses.

Unless all common sense has been sucked into the ozone layer, saner minds must prevail.

The Sierra Club aside, before America finds the kind of energy it wants, it must continue to obtain the energy it needs.
Glad to see more folks cracking the code. The faster this happens, the closer we'll get to crafting real solutions that protect our environment and the nation's energy security at the same time.


gunter said…

Speaking about "collapsing economies" check out Finnish website on the EPR under construction in Finland. Imagine how quickly an economy could collapse trying to build a lot of these boondoogles:

Gunter, NIRS
Anonymous said…
Yeah, right Gunter. When you build a plant that will operate for 60 or 80 years with cheap fuel and a capacity factor of nearly 100%, a delay isn't a big deal. If things are going so badly, why are the Finns looking at a sixth reactor? Finland isn't California, meaning that even the Finns, who are not exactly known as a jolly race, would laugh at your proclamations that solar and wind power make nuclear power unnecessary. The other alternative is to look across the border for natural gas; given Finland's history with Russia, they are understandably loathe to rely on their neighbor. The Finns made the only sensible decision.
Matthew66 said…
One thing to remember about the new Finnish reactor, it is being built under a fixed price, fixed delivery date contract. Costs related to the delay in delivery and any cost overruns are the responsibility of the vendor - in this case Areva. The Finnish utility cannot lose on this contract - even the delayed delivery requires Areva to compensate it for electricity purchased on the open market. Areva will be taking a big hit on the contract, but that is as it should be - after all most manufacturers (e.g. Boeing and Airbus) pay the first of a kind engineering costs. My expectation is that a second EPR for Finland (the third EPR to be built after Flamanville) will be delivered on time and will generate a nice profit for Areva.
Anonymous said…

Yeah, those Finns sure are stupid, trying to meet their obligations for reducing GHG, being less dependent on Russian-supplied natural gas, being environmentally responsible. They should know better and just rely on solar energy for their needs. After all, given their location, everyone knows its an ideal place to utilize solar.
Brian Mays said…
Another thing to remember about the new Finnish reactor is that the Finns were shrewd when they chose that particular design. They know that the French are going to build a new fleet of these reactors -- as the current French fleet reaches its end of life and demand for energy increases -- and thus, the Finns are going to capitalize on the standardization of the plant and the resulting economy of scale. Considering that EPR's are likely doing to be built ultimately in other parts of the world (such as the US and China), the economic outlook for the Finns in the energy sector looks all that brighter.

Tell you what, Mr. Gunter, why don't you and NIRS and the Sierra Club get back to us after the EPR has collapsed the Finnish economy. You should have no problem waiting that long, since you yourself have commented on "how quickly an economy could collapse" by doing what the Finns are doing.
gunter said…
Matthew66 is correct about the "fixed price," unlike the real market world. He doen't mention that the Finns froze payments to AREVA in June 2006. Not happy customers even with the fixed price.

3.2 billion Euros that's $4.16 billion US.

Another thing to ponder is how "fixed price" has safety implications on QA/QC for nuclear safety systems. Know of any cheap parts for safety systems? Counterfiet, even? That wouldn't be news either. Being behind schedule indicates that cost is out of control as well.

"Fixed date" now that's another question that has very real safety implications... as a friend of mine who lives next to Braidwood, "These are't chocolate factories, right?"

Go to the above referenced website and look at the STUK Investigation Report 1/06 (10.7.2006)from Finland's Nuclear Reactor Regulation. Get real, gentlemen, there is nothing "fixed" about an operational license date if safety issues are not being closed out satisfactorily. Unless, of course, "the fix" is in on the regulator as is too often the case with NRC.

According to this STUK report, the safety culture at the construction site is currently a big safety concern. No surprise, like that hasn't happened at other reactor construction sites before? You name it, there were loads of problems, from increased DWI arrests at shift changes during Seabrook's shoddy construction to Watts Bar's perpetual construction for 26 years, poor safety culture results in loads of re-work and work arounds with a demoralized work force and plenty of built-in safety vulnerability.

And documented safety issues are piling up at OLKILUOTO; no QC for the concrete pour of the reactor basemat; wrong grain size of the steel for the hot leg reactor steam line that is incompatible with Finnish safety inpections requiring UT analysis; deficiencies and manufacturing problems with the steel containment liner and; the list goes on.

I wonder if Finnish newspapers have the translated version of the "Peanuts" comic strip? They would be likening the Olkiluoto experience to Lucy offering Charlie Brown another kick at the football, and next thing you know, he's flat on his back, again.

Need we go into Lungmen for the ABWR construction experience?

Gunter, NIRS
Starvid, Sweden said…
Taking up Lungmen is unreasonable.

That project turned into a mess because the politicians stopped and restarted it half a dozen times. That's a sure way to make something go over schedule and budget.
Matthew66 said…
The fixed date refers to the time that electricity is scheduled to be generated. If the plant vendor has not delivered the plant specified in the contract (and licence application) the plant won't be licenced for production. If that happens the vendor Areva, has to compensate TVO for the electricity it has to buy to satisfy the supply contracts it has already entered into. Suspending payments is standard commercial practice under construction contracts when a contractor fails to meet specific milestones - as are penalty clauses. The contract is for a licencable nuclear power plant - if the vendor fails to deliver that there will be one mother of a lawsuit.

As an analogy, if I contract with a builder to build a house and the builder doesn't meet agreed milestones I don't make a progress payment until the milestone is reached. Similarly, if the builder builds a house that fails final inspection for a certificate of occupancy, then I don't pay, or take delivery, until that situation is rectified.

It is reported that the Finnish regulator has very high standards and is independent from TVO. I have no doubt that Areva will live up to its contractual obligations and deliver a licencable plant, albeit late.

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