Wednesday, February 28, 2007

NEI Energy Markets Report (February 19th - 23rd)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices experienced large drops in the East, Southeast and Midwest as prices were mostly decreasing throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices fell at the Henry Hub $0.49 to $7.83 / MMBtu (see page 4).

Nuclear plant capacity availability was 94% last week as three reactors were down for maintenance and three reactors were down for refueling outages (see pages 2 & 3). Crystal River 3 was down after a “failed circuit card resulted in the unit automatically coming offline.” Palo Verde 2 was down to “repair a small oil leak in a high pressure safety injection pump bearing.” Browns Ferry 2 began its refueling outage on February 20th.

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

LaSalle Station Holds Top Two Spots For World Record Continuous Runs

From Exelon:

Both LaSalle County Generating Station operating units hold the top two spots worldwide for longest continuous runs of light-water reactors. LaSalle Unit 1 holds the world record for longest continuous run at 739 days. As of Feb. 26, Unit 2 holds the world record for second longest continuous run at 711 days. The continuous run ended yesterday when Unit 2 was taken offline for scheduled refueling and maintenance.

“A continuous focus on the safe and reliable operation of our plants is essential at Exelon Nuclear, and LaSalle’s record run emphasizes this fact,” said Michael Pacilio, Exelon Senior Vice President, Midwest Operations. “Achieving the top two world records for longest continuous runs is due to the hard work and dedication of the entire LaSalle team. LaSalle Station and the entire Exelon fleet can be proud of this great accomplishment.”

Well done!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

NEI's Nuclear Performance Monthly (January 2007)

Here's a summary of U.S. nuclear plant performances last month:

For January 2007, NEI estimates the average net capacity factor reached 98.8 percent. This figure is 2.1 percentage points higher than the same one month period in 2006. NEI estimates monthly nuclear generation at 73.5 billion kilowatt-hours for January 2007 compared to 71.9 bkWh for the same one month period in 2006.

For 2007, NEI estimates year to date nuclear generation at 73.5 billion kilowatt-hours compared to 71.9.0 bkWh in 2006 (2.2 percent increase).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

Al Gore's Electric Bill

In the wake of Al Gore's Oscar win on Monday night, some folks over at the Tennessee Center for Policy Research decided to have some fun at the former Vice President's expense by printing a detailed analysis of the electric use at his Nashville home:

Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.

In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.
Wow. Gore fired back this morning through the progressive politics site, Think Progress, noting that he and his family try to soften the impact of their electricity use by purchasing green power and buying carbon offsets.

All I could think when I saw the original note is how much larger Gore's carbon footprint would have been if he had lived in a state that gets generates less of its electricity from nuclear energy? After all, Tennessee gets 28.6% of its electricity from nuclear energy (PDF), almost 10% more than the national average.

Plenty of folks are unconvinced at the sincerity of his response. As for me, I just think this whole episode points out how difficult it's really going to be to cut carbon emissions while continuing to provide reliable and affordable electricity. Feel good bromides alone aren't going to get the job done. For more, visit our friends over at NAM Blog and Wizbang.

Data Center Power Usage to Grow by 40% by 2010

Hmm. What is a data center, and why should we be concerned?

A data center is a facility that provides a safe, secure, powered home for computer servers. Generally companies rent space in a data center to house the servers that make their companies run. Data centers house everything from this blog, for example, to the massive Google search index (which is comprised of an estimated 450,000 servers).

Data centers are big dollar, and the level of security is intense. Data centers are a study in how to secure an industrial facility. For the interested, take a tour of The Bunker, an example of how far companies will go to ensure the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of their data.

Powering these facilities is no small matter. Many large-scale facilities are connected to 2 or more separate power grids to ensure a constant supply of power. Most have additional, redundant power generating capacity.

In a study released in February, Jonathan Koomey, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, indicates that the power consumption in the world's data centers will grow by 40% in the next 3 years after doubling in the past five.

Here are some excerpts from an article by Scott Ferguson for eWeek magazine:

The amount of electricity used to power the world's data center servers doubled in a five-year span due mainly to an increase in demand for Internet services, such as music and video downloads, and telephony, according to a new report.

If current trends continue, the amount of power to run the world's data center servers could increase by an additional 40 percent by 2010, said Jonathan Koomey, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., and a consulting professor at Stanford University.

Koomey's report, funded by Advanced Micro Devices, the Sunnyvale, Calif., chip maker, is being presented at the at the LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit in New York City on Feb. 15.

Between 2000 and 2005, according to Koomey's research, the average amount of power used to fuel servers within the data center doubled. In the United States, that represented a 14 percent annual growth in electrical use, while worldwide use increased by about 16 percent every year.

In 2005, the electrical bills for U.S. companies totaled $2.7 billion. The cost of electricity for the entire world topped $7 billion. Within the United States, the total cost of powering data center servers represented about 0.6 percent of total electrical use within the country. When the additional costs of cooling and other usage is factored in, that number jumps to 1.2 percent.

"The total power demand in 2005 (including associated infrastructure) is equivalent (in capacity terms) to about five, 1000 MW [megawatt] power plants for the U.S. and 14 such plants for the world," Koomey wrote in the report.

Koomey concludes that a number of factors could change power consumption in the ext several years, including the adoption of more blades in the data center, virtualization technology, and more awareness of the total cost of ownership of data center equipment.
This situation is not going to be solved entirely by "conservation." At the same time, we can't simply have these centers subject to "rolling blackouts." Yes, they may run seemingly non-critical sites like YouTube, but they also house medical imaging data stores, and research on new drugs, cures, and vaccines.

These facilities will continue to demand increased power as our dependence on Internet connected systems grows. We must make sure we are on the path to providing increased supplies of electricity.

Stewart Brand Looking for "Green Nuclear Engineers"

In today's edition of the New York Times, John Tierney talks to Stewart Brand:

Stewart Brand has become a heretic to environmentalism, a movement he helped found, but he doesn’t plan to be isolated for long. He expects that environmentalists will soon share his affection for nuclear power. They’ll lose their fear of population growth and start appreciating sprawling megacities. They’ll stop worrying about “frankenfoods” and embrace genetic engineering.


He’s also looking for green nuclear engineers, and says he feels guilty that he and his fellow environmentalists created so much fear of nuclear power. Alternative energy and conservation are fine steps to reduce carbon emissions, he says, but now nuclear power is a proven technology working on a scale to make a serious difference.

“There were legitimate reasons to worry about nuclear power, but now that we know about the threat of climate change, we have to put the risks in perspective,” he says. “Sure, nuclear waste is a problem, but the great thing about it is you know where it is and you can guard it. The bad thing about coal waste is that you don’t know where it is and you don’t know what it’s doing. The carbon dioxide is in everybody’s atmosphere.”
Brand started talking this way almost two years ago when he published, Environmental Heresies in the pages of MIT Technology Review.

For those of you not familiar with Brand and his change of heart regarding nuclear energy, you might want to watch this speech he delivered at the 2006 Nuclear Energy Assembly:

For the rest of our Stewart Brand file, click here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Wall Street Journal Starts Energy Blog

They're calling it Energy Roundup. Looks like they soft launched it in the middle of the month.

Just check their archives, and they haven't covered much nuclear energy news as of yet. Needless to say, we'll be adding them to the daily reading list.

TXU's $32B Buyout

From the Statesman:

TXU Corp., Texas' largest electricity producer, said Monday it has agreed to be sold to a group of private-equity firms for about $32 billion in what would be the largest private buyout in U.S. corporate history if shareholders and regulators go along.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Texas Pacific Group led a group that included Goldman Sachs & Co. and three other Wall Street firms that will pay $69.25 per share for TXU. They will also assume about $13 billion in debt.

The firms won support for the buyout from some environmentalists who have criticized TXU by agreeing to sharply scale back TXU's controversial $10 billion plan to build 11 new coal-fired power plants that would produce tons of new greenhouse gas emissions.

They also agreed to cut electricity prices 10 percent, which they said would save TXU residential customers more than $300 million per year, and limit prices until September 2008.

Nuclear Policy Outlook Now Available Online

The January-February 2007 issue of Nuclear Policy Outlook, a publication formerly only available to NEI members, is now available online. Nuclear Policy Outlook analyzes the nuclear energy industry’s most critical policy issues and is issued bimonthly by NEI. In this issue, Outlook examines how the changing congressional leadership will affect the industry and its legislative priorities. Click here (PDF) to download.

Company Forms to Build Australia's First Nuclear Power Plant

From The Advertiser (Australia):

THREE of Australia's richest men have formed a private company to set up the first nuclear power plant in the country, with South Australia and Victoria identified as potential locations.

Former SA Economic Development Board chairman Robert de Crespigny and business identities Hugh Morgan and Ron Walker are the key shareholders of a company called Australian Nuclear Energy Pty Ltd.

Mr Morgan, the former head of previous Olympic Dam uranium mine owner Western Mining, is chairman of the venture and owns 20 per cent of the company.

Mr de Crespigny and his close friend Mr Walker each hold a 40 per cent stake in the business.

The trio are examining the viability of setting up a nuclear plant at sites in South Australia or Victoria. A source close to the business partners told The Advertiser the company had raised its plans with the Federal Government and the Rann and Bracks governments.
For the rest of our archive on Australia, click here.

Patrick Moore Supporting New Nuclear in Fresno

The co-founder of Greenpeace was in Fresno last Thursday night supporting the idea of building a nuclear power plant in that electricity-starved California city. For more details and video, click here.

UPDATE: Dr. Moore also had a piece in yesterday's San Jose Mercury-News on the topic.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a link to a New York Post piece supporting Indian Point. More from the American Thinker and Jeffrey Mark.

Online Poll on Nuclear and Carbon Emissions

The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies just completed a poll asking the question: "Is nuclear part of the solution to carbon emissions"?

Here are the results:
Stop by and leave your comments. As always, please be respectful.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Birdblog.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Nuclear Energy Insight

The February issue of Nuclear Energy Insight is now available online. In it, you'll find an article on the reactor restart project at TVA's Browns Ferry plant. There also are reports on teaming plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with nuclear-generated electricity to deliver clean-air benefits and new-plant construction plans. Other articles detail China's choice of a Westinghouse design for new reactors, the industry's integrated used fuel management program, and community outreach efforts by Canadian and U.S. nuclear plants.

Greenpeace's Angry Kid Backfires

We all know that Greenpeace is a natural when it comes to needless fear mongering, but this latest "public service" video on energy and global warming has to take the cake:

If you slide over to YouTube, reading some of the comments there is pretty instructive:

God, this video convinces me, I really do hate GREENPEACE. Even their name is a misnomer!!

I'm definitely voting AGAINST his future.

I'm an enemy, kid. Definitely an enemy. If the world is going to be left in your hands, I say let's destroy it now. This ad makes me want to start my car and let it idle in the driveway all night. Every night.
As I've written before, I'm sympathetic to the aims of many environmentalists. But time and time again, groups like Greenpeace lower the level of public debate, and actually make it harder to implement real solutions.

Can Nanotechnology Unlock Waste Heat from the Steam Cycle?

The Foresight Nanotech Institute is talking about it.

Romania Seeks to Increase Nuclear's Share of Electricity Production

Details from Xinhua.

Turkey Moving on New Nuclear

A bill designed to encourage the new nuclear build in Turkey is moving through Parliament.

Russia Seeks to Invest in South African Nuclear Ventures

Or so said the Russian natural resources minister during a visit to Pretoria earlier this week.

More details and discussion, here.

The Atomic Show #50

Congratulations to Rod and Shane for reaching the 50 show milestone.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

NEI's 2007 Wall Street Briefing

This morning in Manhattan, NEI conducted its annual Wall Street Briefing. Details from the NEI press release:

The challenge of building the new nuclear power plants that the nation needs will require innovative financing approaches and constructive input to the federal government from the financial community, among others, nuclear energy industry leaders told Wall Street analysts here today.

As the industry prepares federal license applications for more than 30 new plants and invests heavily in design and engineering work and the procurement of long-lead time plant components like reactor vessels, it also is striving to extract the value intended by Congress from the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Nuclear Energy Institute President and CEO Frank L. (Skip) Bowman said at NEI’s annual briefing for the financial community.

The legislation provides limited investment incentives for construction of new nuclear plants and other high-capital-cost clean energy technologies. But it does not by itself resolve all financing challenges, particularly with regard to the Department of Energy’s implementation of the clean technology-neutral loan guarantee program that the energy bill authorized, he said.

“The construction period is when a new nuclear project most needs credit support,” Bowman said. “Unfortunately, the Department of Energy’s interim guidelines published last year were developed without input from companies with financial expertise, and are not optimal for large power projects. So we must continue to work cooperatively with the agency as it moves forward. Constructive input from credible organizations and institutions, including the financial community, will be essential to making this program a success.”

Properly implemented, the loan guarantee program will reduce financing costs and thus reduce our consumers’ cost of electricity from the project, Bowman said.

Anthony Earley, the chairman and CEO of DTE Energy and chairman of the NEI board of directors, said the business challenges facing the industry are manageable.

“In fact, the business challenges facing nuclear energy are not necessarily larger or more formidable than those facing coal or natural gas or any other source of electric power,” Earley said.

“The climate for nuclear power is changing. We have a more complete understanding of the business risks associated with new nuclear plant construction than ever before. And I am confident in our ability to manage those risks.”

DTE two weeks ago announced its plans to submit an application to build a possible new nuclear plant to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is among 15 companies and consortia that are preparing license applications for as many as 33 new reactors that would be built over the next 10-20 years. By the end of this year, the industry will have invested more than $2 billion in preparing license applications, procuring long-lead components and equipment and design and engineering on advanced-design plants, Bowman said.

Currently, 103 nuclear plants operating in 31 states supply electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses. Early estimates for 2006 show that they produced the second-highest amount of electricity in the industry’s history—about 787 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh)—and posted a record-low electricity production cost for fuel and operations and maintenance expenses—1.66 cents/kwh.

As the industry continues to achieve excellence in operations, it also sees growing bipartisan support, particularly among leaders in the new Congress, Bowman said. He noted comments made recently by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who told the House Science Committee recently, “In the early days of my life in Congress, I was an opponent of nuclear energy because of questions on how to dispose of the waste. Your question is good because the technology has changed, and I bring a more open mind to that subject now because I think we should look at this technology, and compare it to the alternatives…it has to be on the table.”

Bowman said that the industry is seeing renewed interest at the state level as well. Supportive legislation has passed or is being considered in Georgia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia, Kansas, South Carolina and Texas.

“We see increasing evidence that state political leaders and policymakers recognize the value of a diverse energy portfolio that includes new nuclear plants,” he said.
For a copy of the presentation, which is filled with plenty of interesting and insightful data, click here (MS Word).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

NEI Energy Markets Report (February 12th - 16th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices were mixed to decreasing throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub $0.06 to $8.32 / MMBtu (see page 4). According to Ux Consulting, uranium spot prices jumped $10 to $85 / lb U3O8 last week.

Nuclear plant capacity availability was 96% last week as three reactors were down for maintenance and two reactors were down for refueling outages (see pages 2 & 3).

The Electric Power Research Institute released a study last week detailing how to reduce CO2 emissions in the U.S. over the next 25-30 years. Among the seven technologies recommended was nuclear power which was targeted to build 64 GWe by 2030. For more information on the study go to

For the podcast click here. For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

Professor Takes Issue with Greenpeace Estimates in Belgium

In Belgium, the local chapter of Greenpeace is calling on the government to close that nation's nuclear power plants earlier than scheduled.

Luckily, not everyone is buying it. One professor ran the numbers, and had this to say:

Professor Jacques De Ruyck, specialist in renewable energy, disagrees with the reasoning that Greenpeace puts forward to encourage the closing of the old nuclear power plants. The oldest nuclear power plants are producing just a small share of the electric energy we use, he says. Meanwhile, Greenpeace is not taking the rising demand for electricity into account. Instead, they estimate that the consumer will cut down on usage by 2.5 to 3 percent a year. “That gigantic percentage is unrealistic”, De Ruyck says.

If we try to both decrease our CO2 production and close the nuclear plants, we may face serious shortages. Electricity will become five times more expensive, De Ruyck says.
Currently, nuclear energy accounts for 55 percent of Belgium's electricity. Meanwhile, the Belgian Entrepreneurs Union has already asked the government to build a new nuclear power plant.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Latest Nuclear Stats - February 2007

For all you stat gurus out there, I'm going to begin periodically posting new and updated statistics as they come out. Here you go.

Electricity Demand
According to EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2007, forecasts show that the United States will need an estimated 40 percent more electricity by 2030 (xls). In terms of capacity, the U.S. is projected to need an additional 292 GW by 2030 (xls).

2005 Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases
According to EIA, U.S. nuclear plants avoided 36% of all reported emissions avoided in 2005 (pdf). This is more than any other category in the program.

Nuclear Waste Fund Statistics Q1 FY 2007
As of December 31st, 2006, total ratepayer commitments to the Nuclear Waste Fund are $28.938B.

Indie-Filmmaker Answers Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth

Ruth Sponsler has found a recent college grad who isn't afraid to take on the conventional wisdom being spouted by Al Gore on nuclear energy:

Robby Tinker, an Oberlin College graduate and indie filmmaker, has teamed up with a physics prof, Dr. John H. Scofield, to do a film. It's Robby Tinker's first production.

No, it's not not one of those old filmstrips about inclined planes, gravitation, or the derivative of velocity.

The film is a documentary sequel to An Inconvenient Truth. Robby Tinker believes that an acceleration in use of nuclear energy is one of the best ways to effect a large-scale displacement of CO2 emissions. Dr. Scofield makes cameo appearances in the film, which is titled The Nuclear Option.
If you're in the Washington, D.C. area, you might want to think about catching one of two local screenings this weekend.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Willy Callit.

Another Democrat for Nuclear Energy

Another diarist over at Daily Kos, wolverine 06, is making the case that Greens need to take another look at nuclear energy:

IMO, Greens need to re evaluate their position using hard data, not an emotional gut feel about what Nuclear Energy USED TO BE like back in the seventies. Currently, green energy sources cannot maintain or even sustain the gigawatt needs of our society.


IMO, Greens need to get their act together before amongst themselves before they can be in a position to reasonably influence debate. Please do not get me wrong. I am a strong advocate of maxing out the development of green sustainable resources. But I think it is disingenuous and foolish of people to just dismiss a whole resource and technology because of what they think it is and not for what it truly is. I believe the bitter argument would be over quickly if people were to read and understand the facts (See the two articles referenced above). Then afterwards, they will be in a better position to judge why Diamond, Lovelace, et al do advocate for using the resource and be able to reach their own conclusions on a much more informed basis.

Currently green technologies sources fall short of society’s needs, period. Better technologies are being developed, but do we have the time and the will to develop and employ them? Global warming is no longer a theory, but an imminent reality. How bad it gets will be determined by how quickly the entire international community begins to cooperate.
Good to see that Kos diarist N. Nadir isn't alone any longer.

Ireland's ESB Thinking About Nuclear Energy

That's ESB as in Electricity Supply Board, Ireland's largest electric utility. The following item ran this morning in RTE Business:

One interesting story over the weekend was the news that ESB would consider joining forces with a nuclear power producer. The company's chairman Tadhg O'Donoghue said the group was interested in all opportunities to produce power by all legal means. While the Government opposes nuclear power, O'Donoghue said realistically that would have to change. But he stressed that the company was neutral on the issue and said the decision was one for the Government. Ireland already imports a small amount of nuclear power through an interconnector pipe with Britain.
Interesting. For more, click here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

FuturePundit Asks a Question About Nuclear Energy

Randall Parker, the brains behind FuturePundit, has been reading an EPRI study about the prospect of the electric industry being able to constrain carbon emissions going forward, and asks a provocative question:

The study assumes only a two thirds increase in nuclear power.


But imagine instead that we no longer built new coal or natural gas burning electric plants and all new electric plants used energy sources that generate no carbon dioxide. Coal burning technology isn't ready for full carbon sequestration. So go with nuclear and wind instead.

Most drastically, we could halt all carbon dioxide emissions from electric generation (cutting out a third of US CO2 emissions) by switching to only non-fossil fuels for electric power generation. For example, in the United States we could switch to nuclear where we now use coal and natural gas. In 2005 nuclear power accounted for 19.3% of total electric power generated. The United States had 104 nuclear reactors operating in 2005 with a total capacity of 97 gigawatts (almost 1 gigawatt per plant). So as a rough first approximation if we built 400 nuclear power plants or 4 times as much as we already have we could shut down all the fossil-fuels burning plants. Though that would not provide enough electric power during the peak afternoon demand periods.

So here's my question for knowledgeable readers: What percentage of electric power is used for baseline demand and what percentage is used for above baseline usage? Would we have to build 6, 7, or even 8 times as many nuclear plants as we have now in order to eliminate all use of fossil fuels to generate electricity?
I've already sent a link to Randall's post to the interested parties here at NEI, though we're all scattered around the Washington area for the President's Day holiday. Then again, there's no reason why our readers can't participate. Drop by and be sure to comment where appropriate.

Lovelock: Greenpeace Making "Incredible Mistake" on Nuclear Energy

At the end of last week, we linked to a number of bloggers who took issue with the decision of the High Court in London to scuttle the U.K. government's energy review that called for an increase in new nuclear build.

Yesterday, James Lovelock, the father of the Gaia Theory, joined the chorus condemning Greenpeace, who filed the lawsuit, and continues to work to block the progress of the industry globally:

What an incredible mistake Greenpeace made when it took the government to court in an attempt to delay the building of new nuclear power stations. By so doing it increases the burden of carbon dioxide (C02) the Earth has to bear; nuclear is the only large-scale energy source that is emissions free.

Why don’t we wake up and emulate the French, who make almost all their electricity from nuclear energy? French trains are legendary, especially the TGV. One of these bound for Marseilles was standing at the Gare de Lyon; it seemed like any other train except that it was double decked. We climbed aboard and took our seats on the upper tier and sat back as it travelled from Paris to Marseilles at 200mph.

No wonder the French are building an even faster train track from Paris to Germany. Best of all, this form of intercity travel is the world’s only wholly carbon-free nonpolluting way of travelling, because the trains are powered by nuclear electricity. Soon our cars and trucks will be powered by batteries charged from the electricity supply. What a wonderful way to avoid C02 emissions, but only if we make nuclear our source of electricity.
For more on James Lovelock from our archives, click here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Brits Not Happy With High Court on Energy Review

Plenty of folks in the U.K. aren't happy with the decision by the High Court to send U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's government back to the drawing board for another energy review. Click here and here to see what I mean.

NPR Profile of NRC Commissioner Edward McGaffigan

A report from David Kestenbaum.

Energy Diversity at Heart of Duke's Plan for North Carolina

In today's edition of the News and Observer, Duke Energy Chairman, President and CEO Jim Rogers lays out the rationale for his company's long-term plan to provide reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy to North Carolina.

Though Rogers may be talking about one state, the following three paragraphs could easily be applied to any region of the country:

Some people who oppose our plan do so out of a belief that renewable energy and energy efficiency alone can address our energy challenge, but that is wishful thinking. Having a duty to provide electricity to a growing customer base of 2.2 million, we do not have the luxury of detaching ourselves from reality. Instead we must meet our customers' growing demand for power with real electrons that customers can depend on.

Our duty is to provide reliable, affordable electricity to support a growing population. By 2030, North Carolina's population is predicted to grow from 8 million people to 12 million -- a 50 percent increase from 2000, bringing more homes, hospitals, schools and businesses in need of electricity. Increased demand is also driven by the growing appetite for computers, plasma TVs and other devices.

We stand at a crossroad. Business and government leaders must address this challenge in a way that says "North Carolina is open for business" -- and in an environmentally responsible way. Our plan does that. It assures adequate, reliable and affordable electricity to support economic growth. And it begins reducing the environmental impact of generation by retiring older and high-emitting coal plants and investing heavily in energy efficiency.

STP Sets Another Generation Record

Off the wire from the South Texas Project (release not available online):

For the third consecutive year, the South Texas Project nuclear power plant led the U.S. in electricity production by two-reactor facilities. STP’s total generation in 2006 was 21.37 billion kilowatt-hours, setting another record for the facility.

In addition, 2006 was the third year an STP unit has led all 103 reactors nationwide in production. Unit 2 operated continuously all year and generated 11.22 billion KwH. Its output was the third highest of the 442 reactors worldwide as well as highest in the U.S. STP Unit 1, which was routinely shut down 34 days last year for refueling and maintenance, generated 10.14 billion KwH. Despite the outage, the unit still ranked sixth in the country and seventeenth globally. It was the U.S. production leader in 2002 and in 2004.
Congrats to the team at STP for a job well done.

NRG President: End Game for Texas is Nuclear

More from the Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) Annual Meeting, this time from the Houston Chronicle:

David Crane, president and CEO of power plant operator NRG Energy, said he believed "the end game for Texas is nuclear," and that the state should focus less on coal-fired plants to meet its power needs.

"This is the ideal place for nuclear because it doesn't use a lot of water, it doesn't threaten the nonattainment zones of the two largest cities, and it has wide open spaces so you do not have to put plants right hard up on 10 million people," he said.
For more on the meeting, be sure to check out the CERA Web site which has been providing daily summaries.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

NEI Energy Markets Report (February 5th - 9th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices were mixed to decreasing throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub $0.73 to $8.26 / MMBtu (see page 4).

Nuclear plant capacity availability was 96% last week as three reactors were down for maintenance and two reactors were down for refueling outages (see pages 2 & 3).

The unseasonably warm temperatures in the United States and throughout most of the northern hemisphere through early January reduced the demand for heating
fuels, leading to an easing of petroleum and natural gas prices (see page 8).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Immodest Proposals.

Another Democrat for Nuclear Energy

At a luncheon hosted by our friends at NAM, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), offered an unqualified endorsement of nuclear energy.

South Africa May Build as Many as 36 New Nuclear Power Plants

Earlier this week we learned that South Africa is making plans not only to purchase a conventional nuclear power station, but also to begin enriching its own uranium. And with a nuclear power conference taking place this week in Johanesberg, we're beginning to see news emerge at just how large a part nuclear energy will take in that nation's future energy mix:

The Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA (Necsa) expects electricity generated from nuclear energy to increase by 25 000 megawatts by 2030, which could cost as much as R100 billion.

To achieve this, the government would have to build about 24 pebble bed modular nuclear reactors as well as 12 conventional nuclear power stations, Necsa chief executive Rob Adam told a nuclear power conference in Johannesburg.
Tom Ferreira, the communications manager for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Company (PBMR), said its business plan was based on the assumption that the country would need a minimum of 24 plants.
The nation seems firmly committed to ending its overdependence on coal.

Bodman: Nuclear is "Only way to meet our future needs for power"

Energy Secretary Sam Bodman in a speech delivered to the annual meeting of Cambridge Energy Research Associates in Houston yesterday:

Nuclear power is the ultimate answer to America's future power-generation needs, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Wednesday to an international forum of energy-industry executives.

"The only way to meet our future needs for power will be through nuclear energy," Bodman said at the annual meeting of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "We are trying to streamline the licensing process to get some new plants built. The U.S. hasn't built a new nuclear plant in more than 30 years."
For the full text of the speech, click here.

Plans for New Nuclear Move Ahead in Idaho?

Details from the Bedford Bulletin.

High Court Rejects U.K. Energy Review

The big news out of Europe this morning is a decision from the High Court in London that the U.K. energy review released in 2006 that included a recommendation for expanded use of nuclear energy was "seriously flawed". From Bloomberg:

The High Court in London today backed claims brought by environmentalist group Greenpeace that ministers didn't present clear information on key issues such as the disposal of radioactive waste and the costs of new plants before publishing a report on its energy review last July.

``There was procedural unfairness and a breach of the applicant's legitimate expectation that there would be the fullest consultation,'' Justice Jeremy Sullivan told the court. ``It was not merely inadequate, but it was also misleading.''
Despite the setback, the government, which may yet appeal the ruling, vowed to fight on:
``We're in a race against time here,'' Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling said in an interview about the ruling on British Broadcasting Corp.'s Radio 4 in London. ``Climate change is a major threat for us. The best thing to do is to learn from the judge's verdict, to consult and to get things back on track.''
As one of my colleagues here at NEI just mentioned to me, "It's all fun and games until the lights go out in London. What are they waiting for, a chance to become over reliant on Russian natural gas?"

UPDATE: A realistic look at the practical implications of Greenpeace's "activism" from Time Immortal. And to enjoy some hip and casual opposition to Greenpeace, click here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nuclear Energy a Political Issue in Ontario?

Steven Aplin has the details.

NAM Releases Energy Security Report

Our friends over at the National Association of Manufacturers today released Energy Security for American Competitiveness, a comprehensive report on diversifying the nation's energy mix:

"Our economy and way of life are dependent on reliable and affordable energy," said NAM President John Engler. "We cannot rely on the future to take care of itself - we must be proactive and we must be vigilant in creating an energy policy to keep America strong and working.

"Many dream of energy security, but the NAM's strategy lays a solid foundation to make that dream a reality," Engler said. "Nothing short of a robust, aggressive, and comprehensive energy strategy will adequately address our energy security needs."
Click here for a copy of the report. Here's what it has to say about nuclear energy:
“Nuclear: Since this is the second-largest source of electricity in the United States, we need to make sure it’s available in the future. To grow nuclear power, we need interim storage facilities, provisions that prevent delays in approving new nuclear plants and more funding for new university based nuclear physics programs.”
Great stuff. Be sure to check it out.

China Wants Two Units From AREVA

From the New York Times:

The French state-run company Areva has unexpectedly agreed to a $5 billion deal to build two nuclear power plants in China weeks after an American rival appeared to have won a competition that dragged on for more than two years.

Beijing’s decision to add two plants, expanding the program to six from four plants, was considered a surprise.

The agreement covers a total of 3.2 gigawatts of generating capacity in southern Guangdong Province, the government-backed China Nuclear Society said on Tuesday.

Final commercial details have yet to be hammered out, but the two reactors are set for completion around 2013, the organization added.
The other four reactors refer to the separate deal that China recently completed with Westinghouse.

Florida PSC Adopts Pro-Nuclear Incentives Package


In a move that could provide more financial incentive for building nuclear power plants, the Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday adopted new rules that will let investor-owned utility companies recover some of the costs of the new plants before they begin operation.

The immediate beneficiary of the rule change could be Progress Energy, which is taking steps to build the state's first nuclear power plant since 1977, when the company began operating its Crystal River facility. Progress Energy has identified a 3,000-acre site in Levy County eight miles north of the Crystal River complex as the possible location for a new nuclear plant.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lieberman and McCain Urge Congressional Colleagues to Promote Nuclear Energy

In today's edition of the Boston Globe, Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) got busy re-introducing the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act to the American public:

The bill, which has growing bipartisan support, would harness the power of the free market and the engine of American innovation to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough and quickly enough to forestall catastrophic global warming.
However, they have a bit of advice for their Congressional colleagues:
Congress must listen to the companies that will be governed by the new climate law. After all, they are the ones who will develop and deploy the advanced energy technologies that will solve this problem. While intransigent firms should not be allowed to weaken the legislation, lawmakers must be open to a good-faith business perspective that can help solve this urgent global problem. As the bill reflects, lawmakers must also have the courage to promote safe climate-friendly nuclear energy.
For a copy of the bill, click here.

Patrick Moore Profiled in the Wall Street Journal

Today's Wall Street Journal profiles our friend, Dr. Patrick Moore of Greenspirit Strategies, and highlights his support of nuclear energy.

That's a current picture at inset. And believe it or not, that's Dr. Moore under the "P" in Greenpeace in the larger photo.

My how things change.

And other folks are beginning to notice.

UPDATE: To read the views of others following Dr. Moore's story, click here.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet David Dundas from the U.K.:

t’s fair to blame Green parties for global warming; they have campaigned long and hard to ban nuclear energy, so nuclear power stations have been shut down around the globe, and replaced with fossil fuelled power stations, that have signficantly increased the production of global warming CO2. Not only should you thanks the Greens for our global warming, but also the Lib-Dems who are clearly anti-nuclear; while Labour sits on the fence, instead of showing leadership and persuade us that nuclear energy is essential to stabilise our climate.

There are two critical reasons why we must quickly switch most of our energy needs to nuclear power: security of supply and global warming.
Elsewhere in the U.K., British Energy made a major announcement today concerning its build plans.

Siemens CEO: Shutting Down German Nuclear "Environmentally Unsound"

Klaus Kleinfeld, the CEO of Siemens AG, said yesterday that proceeding with the planned shutdown of Germany's nuclear power plants would be environmentally unsound. According to Kleinfeld, replacing Germany's nuclear generating stations with coal, oil and gas fired capacity would increase the country's emissions by 150 million tons annually.

But the best line from the AFX wire story was this one:

Kleinfeld added that is would be 'absurd' if Germany met part of its future energy needs by purchasing electricity generated by French nuclear power plants.
That gave me a little chuckle.

South Africa to Build Second Nuclear Power Plant

Yesterday in Cape Town, South African Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin announced that the nation would soon build a second nuclear power plant, and that the decision on a "preferred bidder" would take place before the end of the first quarter of this year. The new plant will be rated at 1,000 MWe.

Fans of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor shouldn't get excited, as the new plant will be of the current Generation III+ variety currently being built around the world. Though the exact site of the new reactor has yet to be determined, Erwin indicated it would be in one of the Cape provinces that have been hit hard by rolling blackouts.

In conjunction with Erwin's announcement, both he and the nation's energy minister declared uranium to be a "strategic mineral," meaning...

"In this regard," said Mr Erwin today, "we are developing a uranium mining and beneficiation strategy."

Such a strategy would enable South Africa to "beneficiate" - add value to - the raw material of uranium rather than to import the enriched fuel, the raw material for which it has in abundance.

This would be more cost-effective for South Africa, Minerals and Energy Minister Bulelwa Sonjica told BuaNews today, "so we would beneficiate our own mineral".

Declaring uranium a strategic mineral, she added, would lead to more controls over its production and exportation to ensure that South Africa has adequate reserves of the mineral in years to come.

"We can't export uranium when we want to embark on a nuclear programme," she said.

"We want to ensure that all the time, when we need it, we have reserves in store."

That would be strategic way of dealing with it, she said, adding that there would be limitations on the export of uranium.

"We'll be managing it very carefully," Ms Sonjica said.
You'll recall that we first reported this possibility last August. Separately, Eskom announced a number of renewable energy projects for the Cape totalling about 350MWe in capacity.

Uranium One Agrees to Takeover of UrAsia Energy

From The Independent:

Canada's Uranium One has agreed a $3.1bn (£1.6bn) reverse takeover of UrAsia Energy, which has a London listing, creating the world's second largest producer of uranium in a deal triggered by the rising demand for nuclear fuel.

The new company, which will retain the name Uranium One, will have a market capitalisation of $5bn, making it second only to fellow Canadian group Cameco, which is valued at $14m. It will be the only company operating in every one of the world's five largest resource areas - Kazakhstan, South Africa, Australia, the US and Canada. Over half of the world's production of uranium from mines is in Canada and Australia.
More from Bloomberg.

Monday, February 12, 2007

DTE Pursuing Possible New Nuclear Plant at Fermi Site

Earlier today, DTE Energy President and CEO Tony Earley delivered a speech on the future of nuclear energy at the Detroit Economic Club. In that speech, Early revealed that the company is pursuing plans for a possible new nuclear power plant at the company's Fermi site in Monroe, Michigan:

When I addressed this group in 2002, my comments about nuclear energy were brief and pretty discouraging. I predicted that while most nuclear power plants would have their licenses renewed, no new nuclear power plants would be built in the U.S. to accommodate growing demand.

Today I’m here to tell you that I was dead wrong. Despite the condition of our economy, within the next decade, Michigan—and the rest of our country, for that matter— will need more electricity … a lot more, and pollution-free nuclear power has to be an important part of the mix.

Today I am pleased to announce that DTE Energy has started work on preparing a license application for a new nuclear plant at our existing Fermi site near Monroe. This is the first step to providing clean, reliable and affordable energy for the better part of the rest of this century. And with it we will provide thousands of highly paid jobs to highly skilled Michigan workers. But despite my enthusiasm, let me be clear that we have not yet made a final decision to build. Rather, we are preserving our option to build at some point in the future by beginning the long and complex licensing process now.
Read the rest of the speech right now.

Does Pelosi's Statemet on Nuclear Energy Open the Way for a Larger Compromise?

Following up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's surprising announcement that she was keeping an open mind about how nuclear energy could play a role in battling global warming and climate change, Moe Lane over at Red State wonders if there's a deal to be made (where have we heard that before?):

Well, for a start: it's a positive sign, obviously - unless you're the sort who spits at the idea of nuclear power. In that case, you'd better get cracking at repairing your ties to the Democratic Party. Nope, I haven't gotten the order mixed up. The Democrats have been nursing a grudge against the Greens for, oh, just over six years now: if they could do them dirty, they will. And what better way than to strike against one of the fundamentals of the Green Party's religion? Excuse me: "core political views". And if you don't think that the GOP won't hand the Democrats the knife with which to do the dirty deed, then you don't know the GOP very well at all, at all.
It gets more interesting from there. Be sure to read the rest.

Here's one reaction from Instapundit.

UPDATE: Be sure to vote for our WTF blurb on this topic at Technorati.

Citigroup Issues Study on Climate Change and Investment Strategy

From Marc Gunther:

Climatic Consequences, a 120-page report from Citigroup analysts Edward M. Kerschner and Michael Geraghty, ranges far and wide to look at the investment implications of climate change. Kerschner is chief investment officer at Citigroup research, and an influential voice on the street. So this report is a sign that Wall Street, along with Washington, is waking up to the threat of global warming.

That’s significant: If investors begin to calculate what global warming could mean to their stock portfolios, corporate America will take notice—and adapt.


Some of the stocks they highlight won’t please environmentalists. The Citi analysts are bullish on utilities Constellation Energy, Entergy and Exelon which operate nuclear power plants, which don’t emit carbon dioxide.
Click here for a copy of the report. For an interview with Kerschner, click here.

More on Erik Moe's Power Bill

Last week, we introduced you to Erik Moe, a graphic designer and resident of Chicago who was shocked to find that 92% of his electricity was supplied by nuclear power.

This week, our friend Ruth Sponsler has some thoughts on why a progressive thinker like Erik should be proud that he gets that much electricity from nuclear energy.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Here's one U.K. resident who is sold on nuclear energy.

UPDATE: And here's someone else who's thinking along similar lines.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Local Pols Picking on Vermont Yankee

Over at The Prog Blog, Rep. Sarah Edwards of Vermont is attacking Patrick Moore for his efforts in support of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant:

Moore said Vermont should be held up as an example of how greenhouse gases can be reduced, and that the rest of the country should follow our lead. “Vermont has the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the United States for one single reason, your power supply,” he said. While Moore is right about Vermont having low per capita greenhouse emissions, his rationale is way off base.

Moore believes that there is literally no future without nuclear power. Many of us believe there is another way to create a sane energy future in Vermont. It lies with focused economic development related to conservation, efficiency, and new, renewable energy technologies. Rather than lauding our aging nuclear power plant, we would like to see Vermont play a strong leadership role in the renewable energy industry.


As a shameless campaigner for nuclear energy, Moore presented a wholly biased view to the committee. He neglects the danger of creating high-level nuclear waste. He claims nuclear power is cheap but fails to examine the total cost. He doesn’t mention the fact that the federal government has provided massive subsidies to the industry since its inception. Since 1974, the industry has received $47.9 billion, while $12.4 billion has been given to renewables and $11.7 billion has been devoted to efficiency. Imagine how it would be if those numbers were reversed.
As we've noted before, folks like Rep. Edwards like playing fast and loose with the numbers when it comes to energy and subsidies. For a little dose of the truth, see these posts by David Bradish and N. Nadir.

For our complete file on Vermont Yankee, click here.

Claiming the Earth Challenge Prize With Nuclear Energy

Yesterday, former Vice President Al Gore and Virgin Airways CEO Richard Bransom announced the establishment of a $25 million prize for greenhouse gas reduction:

Branson, founder of Virgin Group Ltd., will award the Virgin Earth Challenge prize money to anyone who develops technology capable of removing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases at the rate of one billion tons a year. Gore will be a member of a panel of judges that makes the award. The two made the announcement at a press conference in London.
That gave Michael Flagg an idea:
Build more nuclear power plants. Ramp up work in South Africa on Pebble Bed Modular Reactors, build those big AP-1000's for major industrial centers and we in the U.S. start recycling used fuel rods.

I just won $25 million!

Party at my place when the check clears.
Who needs to count the emissions prevented by new nuclear build when the exisiting fleet of plants worldwide is already getting the job done. According to NEI's own internal estimates, 435 nuclear power plants in 30 nations produce 16 percent of the world's electricity. By replacing fossil fuels in electricity generation, nuclear plants in 2005 reduced CO2 emissions by more than 2 billion metric tons.

When you have a chance, be sure to go to Technorati to vote on our WTF submission on this topic.

EEI Adopts Global Climate Change Principles

As we reported yesterday, the members of the Edison Electric Institute voted on a set of policy principles designed to "guide their engagement" in the debate over climate change. They were approved.

The press release follows:

In unveiling the new principles, Kuhn stressed three components he said would be critical to any federal action or legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
  • Ensuring the development and cost-effective deployment of a full suite of "climate-friendly" technologies;
  • Minimizing economic disruption to customers and avoiding harm to the competitiveness of U.S. industry; and,
  • Ensuring an economy-wide approach to carbon reductions.
Kuhn said EEI's member companies have long been leaders in taking voluntary actions to address climate concerns. "Since 1994, when EEI joined the U.S. Department of Energy in the Climate Challenge, the electric utility sector has accounted for more than two-thirds of all the greenhouse gas reductions achieved under the program," Kuhn said. "Looking forward, the principles we're releasing today are designed to help us build on that progress in a way that allows us to maintain an affordable and reliable supply of electricity."

Underscoring the critical importance of technology, Kuhn declared, "No matter what path America chooses to address greenhouse gases, success will require an aggressive and sustained commitment by the industry and policymakers to the development and deployment of a full suite of technology options." Some of these options are currently available-although at a higher cost than conventional generation sources-but others are not, Kuhn said.

Needed technology options include energy efficiency; demand-side management and renewable energy sources; increasing nuclear capacity; advanced clean coal technologies and carbon capture and storage; and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
For the complete document, click here. More coverage later as it becomes available.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Princeton’s Stabilization Wedges

From one look at how the world could work to constrain greenhouse gases over the long-term, look no further then Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative. Instead of falling back on the idea of the one silver bullet to reduce GHGs, two professors, Robert Socolow, and Stephen Pacala, have broken the task into seven wedges.

Here's a more complete explanation from ScienceMag (subscription required):

The Stabilization Triangle

We idealize the 50-year emissions reductions as a perfect triangle in Fig. 1B. Stabilization is represented by a "flat" trajectory of fossil fuel emissions at 7 GtC/year, and business as usual is represented by a straight-line "ramp" trajectory rising to 14 GtC/year in 2054. The "stabilization triangle," located between the flat trajectory and BAU, removes exactly one-third of BAU emissions.

To keep the focus on technologies that have the potential to produce a material difference by 2054, we divide the stabilization triangle into seven equal "wedges." A wedge represents an activity that reduces emissions to the atmosphere that starts at zero today and increases linearly until it accounts for 1 GtC/year of reduced carbon emissions in 50 years. It thus represents a cumulative total of 25 GtC of reduced emissions over 50 years. In this paper, to "solve the carbon and climate problem over the next half-century" means to deploy the technologies and/or lifestyle changes necessary to fill all seven wedges of the stabilization triangle.

So what are the wedges? Check the table below:And low and behold. What’s Option 9?....Nuclear Fission.
Option 9: Nuclear fission. On the basis of the Option 5 estimates, a wedge of nuclear electricity would displace 700 GW of efficient baseload coal capacity in 2054. This would require 700 GW of nuclear power with the same 90% capacity factor assumed for the coal plants, or about twice the nuclear capacity currently deployed. The global pace of nuclear power plant construction from 1975 to 1990 would yield a wedge, if it continued for 50 years. Substantial expansion in nuclear power requires restoration of public confidence in safety and waste disposal, and international security agreements governing uranium enrichment and plutonium recycling.
Did you read that? “The global pace of nuclear power plant construction from 1975 to 1990 would yield a wedge, if it continued for 50 years.” Meaning we’ve done it before and we can do it again.

Each time I read their ideas I get pumped to go out and promote these solutions. I want everyone from all industries (renewables, fossils, nuclear, tree huggers, etc.) to get together and focus on their contribution for reducing carbon.

Back in the real world though, that thought becomes more a pipe dream than a reality. What’s worse, a former NRC commissioner says nuclear can’t scale to the task while all other options can. I wonder if he has studied how much renewable capacity it takes to fill a wedge. According to the table above, it would take 50 times the current capacity of wind, 700 times for PV and 100 times for biomass. And only three times the current capacity for nuclear. Hmmm. I wonder which is more realistic. I also wonder how many people know that nuclear avoids about half a wedge in the world right now.

If anyone gets anything out of this concept it should be that not one option is going to solve our climate change situation. Also, if you hear someone saying that renewables or nuclear or sequestration are going to solve climate change by themselves, then I suggest you quit listening.

For other bloggers’ takes on the Wedge Concept, check out We Support Lee and A Musing Environment. Also don’t forget to review Princeton’s wedge game.

House Speaker Pelosi: "Nuclear has to be on the table."

From the Raw Story:

Citing "a growing chorus of voices," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called Thursday for "mandatory action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution"and said she wants legislation ready for July 4th – which she declares "Energy Independence Day."

The Speaker's remarks came at the beginning of a hearing of the House Committee on Science and Technology this morning.

The Speaker also answered an inquiry from Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) on nuclear energy by saying that while she was once opposed to nuclear energy, changing technology had made her "bring a more open mind" to the option.

"It has to be on the table," she said.
Wow. Now that's interesting news.

UPDATE: Another reaction from Power Pundit.

EEI Voting on Greenhouse Gas Legislation Position

From Bloomberg:

U.S. utility chief executive officers are voting today on a statement that would express support for federal legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The statement was drafted by the Edison Electric Institute, the Washington trade association for investor-owned utilities, which will collect the votes via conference call. The group's members are the largest U.S. utility owners, including Southern Co., American Electric Power Co. and Exelon Corp.

``EEI supports federal action or legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,'' according to the draft set of principles the utility chiefs will consider, which was obtained by Bloomberg News. The draft also says members ``clearly recognize the growing concerns regarding the threat of climate change.''

Momentum is growing in Congress to tackle global warming with mandatory limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases. A United Nations panel last week reported that it is more than 90 percent certain that the Earth is warming because of the carbon released by burning fossil fuels. The Bush administration said that the causes of global warming are ``no longer up for debate.''

``Having EEI decide to participate in this process is a major step forward,'' Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat and the chairman of a House subcommittee on air quality, said yesterday in a telephone interview. ``It is very meaningful for industry to have decided that the time has come to work with members of Congress to draft legislation.''

Russia Reasserts State Control of Civilian Nuclear Sector

From RIA Novosti:

President Vladimir Putin recently signed the so-called "tunnel law," which is opening new vistas for Russia's civilian nuclear power industry.

Its official title is as follows: "The Law on the Peculiarities of Managing the Property and Shares of Organizations Using Nuclear Energy and on Relevant Changes in Some Legislative Acts." The document had previously been approved by the Duma.

The law is designed to rationalize the legal and institutional conditions for the operation of the energy-and-industry sector, and make it more competitive internationally and more attractive for investment. It separates the Russian nuclear power sector into military and civilian parts.

Leaving intact the military branch, the law aims to establish a state-controlled nuclear holding monopoly, Atomenergoprom, or Atomprom, using the industry's civilian assets. It will be a vertically integrated structure encompassing the nuclear industry's full technological cycle.

Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom, the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, said, "The holding should integrate all stages of nuclear energy generation: uranium extraction and enrichment, fuel production, and generation, as well as all related industries, including nuclear and non-nuclear machine-building, science, engineering, and construction."

This is a revolutionary event - the state has established control over the entire civilian branch of the nuclear industry. It has revived the old but highly effective Soviet style of management: government control.
Thanks to The Oil Drum for the pointer.

Nuclear Power Plants and Ecological Protection

While anti-nukes like to smear nuclear power plants with the charge that they spoil the environment, the truth is a far different story. From the Reading Eagle:

Suggesting a visit to a nuclear power plant on a day trip may seem a bit unusual. But, the PPL & Allegheny Electric Cooperative has put together an attraction that combines education and recreation.

It is the Susquehanna Riverlands Environmental Preserve that wraps around the Susquehanna nuclear power plant near Berwick.

The stark, steaming cooling towers of that plant loom just beyond the tree line to the north, but their grim presence is softened by the lakes, ponds, trails, forests and fields of the preserve.

The two-unit plant was built in the mid-1980s and from the start, its owners provided a visitors center and much more.

In that center, formally the Susquehanna Energy Information Center, are several interactive and static displays that explain everything from the functions of a nuclear plant and the fundamentals of the production and distribution of electrical power to the history of the region and its earliest natives.

The small building is also a source of information about the adjacent 1,200-acre nature compound known as the Susquehanna Riverlands Environmental Preserve.
For more on how utilities have worked to preserve the ecology around nuclear power plants, read Powering the Future with Environmentally Sound Nuclear Energy: The Ecological Stewardship of the Nuclear Energy Industry (PDF).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Realistic Assessment of Wind in Minnesota

A couple of days ago, Aaron Fontaine (an avid reader of NEI Nuclear Notes), asked us to look at how realistic the state of Minnesota’s goals are for developing a 20 percent requirement of wind generation by 2020. He sent me a link to the Public Utility Commission which links to this Minnesota Wind Integration Study presentation (pdf).

At first, whenever I hear about a 20% renewable portfolio standard I take it with a grain of salt. But I want to be fair, so we should look at the numbers.

According to the presentation, for wind to achieve 20 percent of MN’s retail sales, utilities would need to build about 4,500 MW. The state right now with the most wind capacity is Texas with 2,800 MW. Minnesota has about 800 MW. So if the state wants to meet that timeline it needs to get cracking.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, one MW takes up about 60 acres. That makes the amount of land needed to develop 4,500 MW about 421 square miles. Then the question becomes whether or not you can site those 4,500 MW in the areas that are most advantageous -- and as we've seen, that's not always the case.

Let’s compare to nuclear. The average land space needed for a nuke is about 1 square mile. This could be for one, two, maybe three reactors at one plant site. Right now, two nuclear plants with a combined capacity of 1,600 MW (pdf) provide almost 25 percent of the state’s generation. If nuclear were to provide the same amount of generation as the 4,500 MW wind farms, Minnesota would only need to build two AP1000s. That would probably only take one square mile and could come online by 2020.

If Minnesota can marshal the political will to deploy enough wind energy capacity to meet 20% of its electricity demand, then more power to them. But if they want the reliable, 24/7, baseload power, then a couple of nuclear reactors could serve them just fine.

China to Invest in Aussie Uranium Mine

Details from

"How Much Electricity from Nuclear Energy?"

Click here for a post by a Chicago blogger who came by some interesting information in his last bill stuffer.

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.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

NEI Energy Markets Report (January 29th - February 2nd, 2007)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices were mixed to increasing throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub increasing $0.59 to $7.53 / MMBtu (see page 4). Crude oil prices increased to $53.57 / barrel (see page 5).

From 2007-2011, the current capacities in the pipeline coming into operation are 50,982 MW for coal; 45,561 MW for natural gas; and 25,102 MW for wind (see page 8).

Nuclear plant capacity availability was 95% last week as seven reactors were down for maintenance (see pages 2 & 3).

For the podcast click here. For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

C-Span Alert: Reps. Bartlett and Gilchrest to Discuss Fossil Fuel Use, Peak Oil and Climate Change at 5:15 U.S. EST

From the office of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett:

Congressmen Roscoe Bartlett and Wayne Gilchrest will discuss the interrelationships between energy and the environment in a one-hour Special Order speech this afternoon beginning at @5:15-5:30 pm Eastern. They will discuss the impact of fossil fuel use and the challenges posed by peak oil and climate change.

C-SPAN will broadcast the one-hour Special Order speech LIVE on cable and the Internet. Streaming video on C-SPAN can be accessed on the Internet at

Transcripts of the texts of the speeches can be downloaded from the Congressional Record using the Thomas search engine from the House website: with keyword searches by Member and date. The C-SPAN toll-free number to order video tape or DVD copies of floor speeches is 1-877-662-7726. Electronic copies of some previous Special Order speeches by Congressmen Bartlett and Gilchrest and charts are posted on Congressman Bartlett's website: under Energy Updates.

New Nuclear in Thailand?

Details from Business Week.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy?

James Lovelock has Stephen Retherford thinking it over. Be sure to stop by and tell him what you think.

Will Nuclear Power Be "Made in China"?

Thoughts from the Brown Journal of World Affairs.

NPR on Europe and Nuclear Energy

Today on NPR's Morning Edition, reporter Emily Harris took a look at European nations that are reconsidering nuclear power:

More European countries are taking a new look at an energy source they had rejected. For instance, Germany's plans to phase out nuclear power by 2021 are under review due to concerns about energy security and climate change.

AREVA: Journey to the Center of Energy

As a communications professional working in the energy business, it's easy to get frustrated when some folks fail to make the connection between energy production and the workaday world.

Back in 2004, Areva launched a global branding campaign that made that connection very clear: Journey to the Center of Energy:

For more on the 2004 Areva campaign, click here.

Nuclear Engineers on John Edwards and Yucca Mountain

Elizabeth McAndrew-Benavides and her husband watched John Edwards on Meet The Press on Sunday, and they weren't happy with what he had to say about nuclear energy and Yucca Mountain:

My 30 year old Hispanic husband and I watched Tim Russert this past Sunday and were incredibly disappointed with the uneducated statement John Edwards made concerning Yucca Mountain. We are both nuclear engineers who are proud to work as environmentalist on a daily basis to supply the needed electricity for our country.

I will gladly vote for a candidate who supports a national call for conservation, but I cannot support a candidate who does not understand the fundamental basis nuclear power supplies for our energy security. I became a nuclear engineer because I believe the millennia generation will need to do more than just debate the energy question, but constantly work to solve it. My husband and I help create an emissions free base load energy supply for millions of US citizens. Nuclear Power is not dependent on the Middle East for oil and I personally ensure that our plant is a good environmental steward by operating within environmental guidelines.

Simply stating that nuclear waste should stay near its home location is a policy that continues a broken promise by the federal government. John Edwards should consider a policy that includes updating US technology to reprocess used nuclear fuel and continuing the necessary research and construction of a permanent fuel repository.
For more, visit the African-American Environmentalist Association.

UPDATE: More thoughts from DCS Security.

Atomic Insights: Don't Give Up on the Anti-Nukes

After reading the latest nonsense from groups like Greenpeace and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, it's hard not to despair that those groups will ever abandon their religious opposition to nuclear energy.

But Rod Adams has another idea:

I know that most of you think that there is no hope of changing the positions taken by these groups - and others like them - but we are doomed to failure if we do not try. Make every effort you can to contact the groups and let them know how you feel about their continuing illogical position regarding nuclear fission in a world whose very survival may be threatened by continued burning of increasingly massive quantities of fossil
I guess if Patrick Moore can change, perhaps we shouldn't give up on anybody.

This Week in Nuclear: Episode #42

Earlier this week, John Wheeler published his latest podcast. Click here for the transcript.

Bush Administration Asks for $24.3 Billion for DOE

The Bush Administration released its FY'08 Budget yesterday. NucNet has all the details on the budget request for the Department of Energy.

DTE's Tony Earley to Address Detroit Economic Club

Just off the wire:

On Monday, February 12, 2007, the Detroit Economic Club (DEC) is pleased to host Anthony Earley, Jr., chairman & CEO, DTE Energy. The meeting will be held at noon at The Masonic in Detroit, MI.

Within the decade, Michigan - and the rest of the nation - will need more electricity. It is no longer a question of whether there will be new nuclear plants in our future. The conversation has shifted to how many, where and when. Seven in ten Americans now favor the use of nuclear energy to produce electricity. What's changed and why? What can derail this source of clean power? In his speech, titled, "The Nuclear Renaissance: Is It Real?" Anthony Earley, Jr. will share his perspectives and talk about the challenges and opportunities facing the nuclear energy industry.
The idea to get industry executives speaking to more audiences outside the nuclear industry actually originated with NEI. Kudos to my colleagues who helped set this up.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Dan Yurman.

Tim Russert Sets Yucca Mountain Trap on Meet The Press for John Edwards

MyDD has all the details.

Click here for links to the interview.

UPDATE: Here's the relevant segment of the transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: Next stop is Nevada, January 19th. Big issue there is Yucca Mountain...


MR. RUSSERT: ...the nuclear repository. You voted against making that a national repository, then you voted for making it a national repository, saying that...

SEN. EDWARDS: And that’s starting to have a familiar ring.

MR. RUSSERT: You voted—you voted for it before you voted against it. But the thing...

SEN. EDWARDS: You said that, not me.

MR. RUSSERT: But now you’re saying that maybe the nuclear waste should be stored locally where the waste was produced. Is that your position?

SEN. EDWARDS: My position is that, that what’s happened with Yucca Mountain is there’ve been serious questions, including the, the possibility of lying and fraud in the scientific evidence of—that Yucca Mountain would work. I was always concerned, still am, about this nuclear waste being transported around the country. I, I think, at this point in time, it does not make sense to do—to do Yucca Mountain. So the, the, the answer is we have nuclear plants, the, the stuff has to be stored—waste has to be stored somewhere, so it has to be stored where the plants are.

MR. RUSSERT: So in...

SEN. EDWARDS: Or in the vicinity.

MR. RUSSERT: So in Seabrook, New Hampshire, the nuclear waste has to be stored in New Hampshire.

SEN. EDWARDS: It has to be stored somewhere close by.

Aussie Reports on Nuclear Issued

All of the reports from the Australian Task Force on Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy have been issued. Click here for an index.

As a first pass, Seeker Blog is taking a look at their findings concerning total lifecycle emissions.

For the latest on the state of debate on carbon trading in Australia, click here.