Friday, April 20, 2007

Gov. Romney on Nuclear Energy

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was in the Washington suburbs yesterday to give a speech to the Northern Virginia Technology Council. During a post-speech Q&A, the Governor was asked a question about the future viability of nuclear energy:

"I'm afraid building a nuclear power plant in our country today would require us first to hire the French to show us how to do it because they've been building 'em and we haven't,"
For more, including video, click here. A couple of points:
  • While a new nuclear power plant hasn't been built in the U.S. in a few decades, both General Electric and Westinghouse have been building them overseas in the interim, gaining valuable construction experience, especially in Asia.
  • While French nuclear giant AREVA is a leader in the industry, it is important to note that its reactor technology is essentially built on a Westinghouse design.
For more facts on new nuclear plant construction, click here. For more on advanced reactor designs, click here.

6 comments:

Rod Adams said...

It is also important to note that the French have also had a building hiatus. Their last completed plants in France were in 2000, which means that their construction skills have also begun to atrophy.

Of course, they have had a strong presence in the component replacement market, but that is a different skill set from starting up a new project.

Kevin McCoy said...

When Mr. Romney says "I'm afraid" is he expressing a dislike for nuclear or for France? Or are we just overanalyzing his words?

Perhap he is just unaware that, like it or not, nuclear companies are global in scope. A couple of AREVA's recent jobs illustrate that fact: reactor vessel heads were forged in Japan, machined in France, transported on a Russian plane, and installed in a U.S. nuclear plant.

I would be as pleased as anyone else if the forging and machining could be done in the U.S., but national pride should not stand in the way of national progress.

Kirk Sorensen said...

Romney lived for two years in France and speaks French fluently, so he probably has a greater appreciation for French capabilities than the average American.

nada said...

Of course the French have also started building plants too, in Finland, and, the one they will build in Flamesville(sp?). In way, Areva is very well positioned since they are so well integrated vertically in the industry, literally top to bottom.

David Walters

Anonymous said...

Some of the hiatus may be attributed to gearing up for the next generation of plants. My understanding is that the French are following an evolutionary process that will build upon their experience with light water plants. This makes sense. It is where Western expertise lies. We'd be wise to consider such an approach.

Joffan said...

Kevin:
I read Romney's words ("I'm afraid...") as expressing regret for his preception of a skills gap in the US.

nada:
Flamesville is of course Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I think you mean Flamenville.