Friday, June 15, 2007

The Keystone Report on Nuclear Energy

From the NEI newsroom:

Capping a year-long evaluation of nuclear energy by a diverse group of experts, The Keystone Center today issued a report that details the group’s consensus that U.S. nuclear power plants are safer today with an improved safety culture; that climate change policies will improve nuclear energy’s relative economics, and that options are available today to safely manage used fuel.

The report, a “joint fact-finding on nuclear power,” was undertaken to provide an “assessment” of nuclear energy amid growing discussion – in policy circles and among the general public – of the technology’s appropriate role in the nation’s energy future.

“Nuclear technology is re-emerging as a power generation option in the face of concerns about climate change, energy demand growth, and the relative cost of competing technologies,” the report states.
For a copy of the final report, click here.


Muckerheide said...

The Congressional Quarterly reports on this at:

CQ sees the report as saying that nuclear power (GNEP specifically), can not significantly contribute to the global warming problem. It presents current conditions and historical problems as insoluble - that plants can't be built fast enough (that it would not be possible for the industry to maintain 1981-1990 growth for 40 years), plants will cost too much, and be uneconomic for the industry, and that we can't manage the wastes (we would need multiple repositories). They also find that proliferation risks would be significantly enhanced. (The CQ article presenting the report is titled: "Proliferation Threat Seen in Nuclear Power Expansion")

A fair reading of the actual report reaches these same conclusions.

This report, substantially repeats the Bob Alvarez (anti-nuclear) Insitute of Science Policy report. It sees "facts" that are "ancient history," and arbitrary regulatory and legislative conditions, as demonstrating fatal factors, without indicating that there are new solutions or conditions, or corrective actions, that apply!

The industry should substantially comment on this report, or at least on how it is being presented. We should identify the changed conditions that discount the identified current and past conditions that are used here to clearly indicate that future reliance on nuclear power is misplaced.

Regards, Jim

JimHopf said...

The thing that bothers me about the proliferation drumbeat is that it fails to distinguish between the potential effects of new nuclear programs in several new (developing) countries and the effects of increasing nuclear power here in the US. It should be clear to any one that increased nuclear in the US will have absolutely no impact on proliferation, whether or not we reprocess. But they try to blur the issue and paint all nuclear power with the same brush.

It isn't the proliferation stuff, however, that bothered me most about the report. It's the cost projection table that appears right near the front of the report. This table states that nuclear's estimated overall cost will be 8-11 cents/kW-hr. Even more amazing, it states that even the operating (non-capital) costs will be 3.7 cents/kW-hr!! Don't we have solid data (e.g., from the Utility Data Institute) showing that current reactors (right now) are achieving operating costs of ~1.7 cents/kW-hr? This is not a matter of calculation or projection. It is established, observable fact, w/ no uncertainty. So what gives?

I've also been told that nuclear utility people, and even NEI contributed to this report. How can NEI sign its name to any document that states that new nuclear's overall costs will be 8-11 cents/kW-hr, and that even its operating costs are 3.7 cents?

The fact that the "official" capital cost estimates for new reactors has been going up, oh, about 50% per year for several years now is annoying enough ($1000/kW ~7 years ago, then $1500/kW, then $2000, then $2500, and now I'm even hearing about $3000-$4000). Am I being lied to now or was I being lied to then? Inflation and materials cost escalation is nowhere near enough to explain this. Weren't reactors supposed to be cheaper this time around ("50% fewer valves....", etc..).