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Showing posts from April, 2007

Another Blogger Considers Nuclear Energy

The blogger behind AustinPermie is in the midst of making up her mind about nuclear energy. Here's something she wrote recently about Patrick Moore that I think every supporter of nuclear energy ought to keep in mind:
As a poli sci person, I have to say that all the negative sites I've seen on Moore's position, makes it seem like a big campaign angry at the 'defection' of one of its champions. Laden with editorial venom is unfortunately not conducive for a real debate.Interesting. Stop by and be sure to offer your thoughts, but, as always, please be polite. For Part I of her post, click here.

UniStar Selects Calvert Cliffs Site for Possible COL

Just off the wire:
UniStar Nuclear, a jointly developed enterprise between Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG) and AREVA Inc., today notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that a location adjacent to Constellation Energy's existing Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, Md., has been selected as the site for UniStar Nuclear's first combined construction and operating license (COL) application. The application, which will feature UniStar Nuclear's chosen technology, the U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR), will serve as the reference document for all future UniStar Nuclear COL applications to the NRC.

The identification of a specific site is the first step in a multi-step
process required before a COL application can be submitted to the NRC. It
does not, however, represent a commitment on the part of Constellation
Energy to construct a new nuclear plant at the Calvert Cliffs site.

"Moving ahead with our reference application is an important step in
realizing th…

IPCC to Endorse Nuclear as Means to Fight Climate Change

From the Bangkok Post:
The United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which gathers in Bangkok this week is expected to throw its weight behind nuclear energy as a means of mitigating global warming, media reports said Sunday.

"In addition to renewable energy sources, nuclear power will be recommended by scientists as a lesser evil in terms of global warming," Wanum Permpibul of the Climate Action Group said.

On Monday through Friday, 80 of the world's leading experts on climate change will meet in Bangkok to debate the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report to 150 state representatives on policy recommendations to mitigate the impact of global warming, blamed primarily on consumption of carbon-based fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal.

The final report, after what is expected to be a heated debate among participants, will be made public on Friday.That will be Thursday night our time, so we should have the details ready by Friday morning.

Thanks to Ruth Spons…

Popular Science Looks at GNEP

From the pages of Popular Science:
Later this year, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee hope to take a big step toward solving America's nuclear-waste woes. Pending clearance from the Department of Energy, they will demonstrate a new toxic-waste recycling process.

The aim of the demo—part of a controversial $405-million government project called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)—is to transform nuclear leftovers into fuel for a new breed of reactors. The new reactor/fuel combo, GNEP officials say, could produce up to 100 times as much energy as conventional reactors and could generate 40 percent less waste.

The initiative is a key part of the Bush administration's long-term strategy to meet America's rising demand for electricity—according to the DOE, it's expected to jump by 45 percent from 4,000 billion kilowatt-hours in 2005 to 5,800 billion kilowatt-hours in 2030—without creating more greenhouse gases. "Nuclear energy is the bigge…

Next Week on the Hill

Some hearings scheduled for next week that we'll be watching. Links provided where available:

Senate Finance--Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Sub
May 1, 10am, 215 Dirksen
"Advanced Technology Vehicles"

House Energy and Commerce--Energy and Air Quality Sub
May 3, 10am, 2322 Rayburn
"Small Electric Grid"

House Natural Resources Committee
May 1, 2pm, 1325 Longworth
“The Future of Fossil Fuels: Geological and Terrestrial Sequestration ofCarbon Dioxide

House Science and Technology--Energy and Environment Sub
May 3, 2pm, 2318 Rayburn
"Changes in US Global Climate Change Research Program"

EDF in Talks With British Energy to Build New Nuclear

From AFP:
French electricity group EDF is in talks with British Energy, a part-government owned nuclear group, about constructing the first nuclear power station in the UK in 30 years, the Financial Times reported.

EDF chief executive Vincent De Rivaz told the newspaper that the British government would have to pass legislation this year making a decision on nuclear power so that energy companies would be able to make investment decisions, otherwise it risked a 'power crunch.'

'It is quite natural that British Energy want to be part of new-build nuclear, and because we have also a clear ambition, I am confident that these two ambitions can match each other,' he told the business daily.The choice in Europe today is pretty simple: Build a diverse energy portfolio that includes emission free nuclear energy, or get ready to import natural gas.

Former EPA Secretary: Nuclear Energy Has a Future

From NC Times.com:
William K. Reilly, the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator who served when President Bush's father was in the White House, said Thursday that nuclear power has a bright future in a world increasingly concerned with climate change.

"I think it definitely has a future," Reilly said, adding that nuclear plants have the potential to supply large amounts of power to the country while sharply reducing utilities' emissions of greenhouse gases.

[...]

Reilly, in his address, said the biggest obstacle to nuclear power is the widespread concern about how to dispose of the spent radioactive fuel. But he said the country can and ultimately will solve that problem.

"The country has got to get beyond it," Reilly said. "In my view, nuclear waste disposal is a political issue, but not a technologically unsolvable issue."Reilly also expressed concerns about license renewal of existing plants. Click here for an NEI fact sheet on the s…

Newt Gingrich on Nuclear Energy

Appearing on this week's edition of America's Business hosted by NAM's Mike Hambrick, Newt Gingrich had this to say about nuclear energy:
You have, by the way, for those people who say they are worried about global warming, you have the same kind of hysterical emotion caused by the movie, "The China Syndrome" about nuclear power. It turns out – and I think this is a great irony to pose to people like Al Gore -- if the United States had followed the French in a clean nuclear strategy, and we were producing the same amount of electricity from nuclear that the French are, we would be generating two billion -- not million -- two billion, two-hundred million tons a year less in carbon.

Supplementing the Nuclear Workforce

I've got two stories on the nuclear workforce that came across my desk today. First, here's a feature from PRI's Marketplace on a recent visit to ANS' most recent student conference:
SARAH GARDNER: It's a Friday afternoon on the campus of Oregon State University. Young people from all over the U.S. are here for the American Nuclear Society's annual student conference.

If this were the '80s, there might be protesters outside. But times have changed, and Idaho State nuclear engineering major Caleb Robison feels it.

CALEB ROBISON: There's a lot more buzz about nuclear going on.

Robison says when student groups on his campus got together recently, he met some unexpected allies.

ROBISON: You wouldn't have ever expected it because the uh, I guess I'd call 'em tree huggers, I don't know what organization they were from, they came over and you would have thought that we were best friends. They said it was such a great id…

21 Years After Chernobyl

It's been 21 years since the accident at Chernobyl. For a variety of information sources on what happened that day, click here for a document NEI compiled a year ago.

Most importantly, you should read the fact sheet about the incident in order to understand exactly what happened on that terrible day, and what the global nuclear industry learned from it.

ANL Director: Use of Nuclear Energy is "Unavoidable"

In today's edition of E&E TV's On Point, Monica Trauzzi interviews Robert Rosner, director of the Argonne National Lab. He has some interesting things to say about nuclear energy:
Monica Trauzzi: Where do you think the debate over nuclear stands and do you see it having a major role in the future of U.S. energy policy?

Robert Rosner: So the answer is, let me start with the second part. I think nuclear is at some level unavoidable. When we think about what the energy mix will be for stationary power say 30 years from now or 40 years from now, it's very hard to see how you're going to avoid the use of nuclear power. Even in the most optimistic scenarios about carbon sequestration one question that does come up is, in the long term, if you're really talking about say time scales of the order of say a century, 100 years, does the United States, for example, have sufficient reservoir capacity to actually contain all the CO2 that would need to be, for example, pumped …

Gazprom Bundling Natural Gas With Emissions Credits

Here's an interesting piece of news from the International Herald Tribune: Russian energy giant Gazprom has started to bundle natural gas sales with emissions credits.

If Russia continues on a course where it displaces gas-fired electric generating capacity with nuclear energy, Gazprom will have even more emissions credits to sell.

Stewart Peterson has some related thoughts.

More Talk on Nuclear Energy and Progressive Politics

David Walters, a member of the IBEW and the mind behind the new blog Left Atomics, is expanding his thoughts on why political progressives need to re-think their position on nuclear energy:
Base load is what constitutes the basic source of bulk energy for any nation's grid. There are only two choices now that can cheaply provide the hundreds of thousands of megawatts for current and future growth: coal or nuclear. Society must make the best choice. Wind, solar, both now and for the foreseeable future, are incapable of providing reliable and cheap power to the world.Feel free to stop by and continue the conversation.

This Week in Nuclear, Episode #43

After a lengthy hiatus, John Wheeler is back with another edition of his nuclear energy podcast.

Click here (Mp3) to download and here for the transcript.

Uranium Set to Trade on the NYMEX

From the New York Post:
In a bet on the revival of nuclear energy, Wall Street giants including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are set to move mountains of cash into uranium when it starts trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange next month.

The price of uranium has skyrocketed over the past year from around $40 a pound to around $113 as demand has outstripped supply. Goldman and other investors including hedge funds see big opportunities trading uranium because of its high level of volatility.Despite the current volatility, it's important to note that fuel only accounta for a relatively small portion of total operating costs of a nuclear power plant -- one of the reasons nuclear energy can help bring price stability to an energy portfolio.

NRC Proposes Adding Aircraft Impact Assesments to New Reactor Certification Process

Released late yesterday by NRC:
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) today unveiled the third in a series of major steps to enhance the post-Sept. 11 security of nuclear power plants. The agency proposal would require each applicant for a new reactor design to assess how the design, to the extent practicable, can have greater built-in protections to avoid or mitigate the effects of a large commercial aircraft impact, making them even more resistant to an attack.

The Commission emphasized that seeking security assessments and examining how designs can be improved is consistent with the traditional approach the NRC has taken to so-called “beyond design basis events.” These are events with conditions exceeding the stresses imposed by the “design basis event” conditions which require plants to be brought to a safe shutdown. Design basis event conditions include large pipe breaks, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados and floods. Assessing a new reactor design in the early stages…

American Myths and Facts About Energy

In today's Examiner, Max Schultz takes a look at a recent study by the Manhattan Institute that discovered a serious disconnect between the truth about energy and what Americans think they know about it:
MYTH » The accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was fatal.

More than 80 percent of respondents did not disagree.

FACT » No one died from the accident at Three Mile Island.

Untenable safety concerns prevent a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that could be achieved by turning to nuclear power as an energy source.I wind up talking about this one with plenty of my friends, and to this day some still refuse to believe it. It can be frustrating, but I find it pays to be patient. For more on TMI, click here for an NEI Fact Sheet.

Thanks to NAM Blog for the pointer.

Third Way Memo Supports Expansion of Nuclear Energy

Third Way, a strategy center for progressives, today released a policy memo entitled, Another Inconvenient Truth: Solving Global Warming and Energy Security Requires Nuclear Power. The memo supports expansion of nuclear power and calls on political progressives to support it for three reasons:

1. Expanding nuclear power will make a difference in addressing the problem of global warming.

2. Embracing nuclear power by progressive leaders would have a galvanizing impact on the public, demonstrating the severity of the climate change problem and the need for everyone to make hard choices.

3. Moving forward efficiently on nuclear power could help provide momentum to take additional steps to curb carbon emissions.

But what really caught my eye in the report was this passage concerning the position of environmental activists on the expansion of nuclear energy:
Many advocates have taken this approach, attempting to keep the debate fixed solely on conservation and renewable sources. And no one den…

Survey Reveals Gap in Public’s Awareness of Nuclear Energy’s Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases

New from NEI:
Even though nuclear energy is by far the largest clean-air energy source used to generate electricity, fewer than half of Americans strongly associate nuclear energy with clean air, according to a new national survey of 1,000 adults.

The survey shows that only 42 percent of Americans associate nuclear energy “a lot” with clean air. This is the case even though nuclear power plants provide 71 percent of all U.S. electricity that comes from sources that do not emit greenhouse gases or any of the pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The other clean-air energy sources for electricity are hydroelectric power plants (25 percent), wind power projects (2.3 percent), geothermal projects (1.3 percent) and solar power (one-tenth of one percent).

More than 100 nuclear power plants operating in 31 states provide electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses.

The new telephone survey was conducted March 30-April 1 by…

Patrick Moore on E&ETV

Patrick Moore, co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CASEnergy) was a guest on today's edition of E&E TV. Here's an excerpt from the transcript where Moore talks about nonproliferation issues:
Patrick Moore: It's unfortunate that a lot of activists insist on making us connect those two things as if they're one and the same, nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, but it isn't true. First thing, you don't need a nuclear reactor to make a nuclear weapon. With the new centrifuge technology you just enrich uranium. That's what Iran is suspected of doing. So there's no nuclear reactor involved in that. They aren't even connected in that sense, because it's easier to make a nuclear bomb with centrifuge technology than it is to use the plutonium from used nuclear fuel after you've had to build a nuclear reactor as well for billions of dollars. Secondly, do you think that if we shut down all the civilian reactors on this planet, there'…

Senator Dodd on Nuclear Energy

Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is running for President, and he's keeping an open mind on nuclear energy. From the Brattleboro Reformer:
Dodd addressed nuclear energy head-on during a question-and-answer session following the speech.

"I will not take nuclear power off the table," he said. "If we're going to deal with global warming, we're going to have to deal with the grid."

When asked specifically about Vermont Yankee's license renewal following the event, Dodd said he could not comment on a specific plant, but argued that nuclear energy may be necessary to adequately deal with global warming.

"There aren't many options at this point," he said. "There are issues, obviously, with waste. The French are doing some interesting things with nuclear. There are things developing all the time. We're better managing today than we were 15 years ago with waste, with these heavy dry casts."

Dodd lives a mile from Connecticut Yankee -- th…

The Facts on CSP

If you've spent any time reading energy blogs, you'll probably trip over some comment spam from time to time on Concentrated Solar Power. Here at NEI Nuclear Notes, we like solar power, and think it's got plenty of potential. What we don't like are folks who overhype the technology and pretend that it can become a substitute source of baseload power.

One of our contributors, Michael Stuart, just wrote a letter to Carribbean Net News outlining the case against CSP:
Inefficient
According to the California Energy Commission, all of the utility-generated solar power in the state amounts to two-tenths of one percent of the state's electricity production. Because of the limited availability of sunlight, these systems have notoriously low capacity factors and are therefore cannot be relied upon for baseload power.

Expensive
According to the California Energy Commission, at 13 to 42 cents per kWhr, solar power is *the* most expensive way to generate electricity, hands down. I…

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 rea…

2008 Presidential Contenders on Nuclear Energy

In today's New York Sun, Josh Gerstein reviews the positions of the presidential candidates for 2008, and finds that nuclear energy is getting a strong reception:
Each of the top contenders for the Republican nomination and all but one of the major Democratic hopefuls support nuclear power to some extent. Most cite the prospect that atomic energy could help reduce climate change by supplanting power produced by fossil fuel sources such as coal and natural gas.

"The global warming issue is what is causing at least the Democratic candidates to say we need to leave nukes on the table," Ms. Becker, the executive director of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, said.

The two leading Democratic presidential candidates, Senators Clinton and Obama, have joined one of the top Republicans in the race, Senator McCain of Arizona, to sponsor the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007. The measure includes more than $3.6 billion in funding and loan guarantees for the planning…

Crow Learning Same Old Anti-Nuke Talking Points

After traveling around the nation with "global warming activist" Laurie David, singer Sheryl Crow claims she's been "learning" about nuclear energy:
[W]e've been getting lots of questions about nuclear. I know that nuclear is better than fossil fuels when it comes to carbon dioxide, but nuclear energy is by no means clean. We don't know what to do with the waste we already have and it seems like a bad idea to me to make more when we have so many cleaner options such as wind and solar.I think it's safe to say Crow probably didn't bother talking to Bill Maher too closely after he had the temerity to disagree with her on his show last Friday night.

In any case, we call nuclear, "clean air energy" for more reasons than just carbon dioxide. Click here for our section of the Web dealing with nuclear energy's environmental benefits.

CFR’s Balancing Benefits and Risks of Nuclear Energy

It’s been awhile since I’ve debunked a report so I thought I’d break my hiatus by starting on a new one. This one is from the Council on Foreign Relations titled Nuclear Energy: Balancing Benefits and Risks.

To start off this post, readers should note that our CEO (Skip Bowman) and CNO (Marv Fertel) were on an “Advisory Committee” for this report noted on page 37. By reading the paper one would of course think that NEI endorsed the report. Quite the opposite. The two raised serious objections to their conclusions but apparently had no weight. However, as the long disclaimer at the front of the report notes, the advisory committee “are not asked to sign off on the report or otherwise endorse it.” Instead, these advisors are a “sounding board” to provide comments on the report after it is drafted.

While Mr. Ferguson addresses the challenges to a greater role for nuclear energy, he doesn’t recognize the efforts being made today to overcome those challenges. In any event, to address climate…

EPRI Founder Chauncey Starr Dead at 95

Today, the nuclear energy industry says goodbye to Chauncey Starr, a man who stayed active in the business until the very end:
Starr, who still worked six days a week, died Tuesday in his Atherton home. His heart stopped beating during a morning nap before heading into the office, said Clay Perry, a spokesman for the Electric Power Research Institute, which Starr founded in 1972.

On Monday, Starr attended a celebration in his honor at the Palo Alto-based EPRI, an independent, nonprofit center for public interest energy and environmental research. He wryly quipped to more than 200 people Monday that his title of EPRI president emeritus was academic speak for "has-been."

Starr specialized in nuclear power, nuclear risk assessment and the challenges faced by the electric utility industry. In the weeks preceding his death, he actively worked with scientists, industrialists and politicians on risk-based analysis of nuclear plant investments and development of the "SuperGrid&quo…

Defending Nuclear Energy in Real Time

Hollywood has never been known as a place that's been terribly hospitable to nuclear energy, but it looks like that might be changing if Bill Maher, the host of HBO's Real Time has anything to do with it.

The following comes from a transcript from the program's April 13, 2007 edition where Maher brought up the topic in conversation with Sheryl Crow and Laurie David:
MR. MAHER: That was my next question. What about nuclear power? Because it seems to me that we’re going to have to go nuke if we really want to solve –

MS. CROW: I don’t think that’s true. We have better options than nuclear power, I mean, there’s never been a plant that’s actually even made money from nuclear power. It is so heavily subsidized by the government. We have other options that should be subsidized by the government, which are wind and solar.

MR. MAHER: But can wind and solar –

MS. CROW: And it’s just not a great viable option.

MR. MAHER: But can wind and solar provide all the energy we need? I…

NEI Energy Markets Report (April 9th - April 13th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week: Electricity prices were mixed last week (see pages 1 & 2).Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub $0.30 to $7.84 / MMBtu (see page 4).From EIA’s STEO (see page 8): Concerns about extreme weather conditions and rising prices in the oil market will keep upward pressure on the Henry Hub spot price during much of the forecast period. Total retail electricity sales are expected to grow 0.8 percent this year and 1.9 percent in 2008. The price of WTI is expected to average close to $64 per barrel for both 2007 and 2008 as a result of tight balances.For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

TXU, Mitsubishi and the Benefits of Standard Designs

Going through my clips yesterday, I came across the following editorial from the Boston Heraldconcerning TXU and its plan to build new nuclear plants in lieu of coal-fired electric generation. Though I don't normally do this, I'm going to print the entire editorial:
TXU Corp., formerly Texas Utilities, says it wants to build nuclear plants instead of the 11 large coal-fired plants - so scorned by environmentalists - that it announced earlier this year. It’s another welcome sign of the return to favor of nuclear power, which generates no greenhouse gases said to warm the earth.

The problem is that TXU, one of more than a dozen utilities considering nuclear projects, wants a new plant design. But one of the reasons nuclear fell from favor was that U.S. utilities vastly overestimated their ability to cope with the new designs they kept ordering throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Of the 105 nuclear plants operating in 1986 (there are 102 today), there were 62 designs.

One reason for th…

NRC Issues License for Gas Centrifuge Uranium Enrichment Plant in Ohio

From NRC:
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a license to USEC Inc. to construct and operate a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment plant at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant reservation near Piketon, Ohio.

The facility, to be known as the American Centrifuge Plant, will use a design based on gas centrifuge technology developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to enrich uranium for use in fuel for commercial nuclear power reactors. The license authorizes USEC to enrich uranium up to 10 percent of the fissile isotope uranium-235.

USEC submitted its application for the license Aug. 23, 2004. The NRC staff published an environmental impact statement (NUREG-1834) on the facility in April 2006, finding that there would be no significant adverse environmental impacts that would preclude granting a license. The staff’s safety evaluation report (NUREG-1851), published last September, documents the staff’s review of the application.

Tom Friedman on the "Power of Green"

In a piece in yesterday's edition of the New York Times Magazine, Thomas Friedman shows how he's broken the code on the implications of new nuclear build:
I recently visited the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear plant with Christopher Crane, president of Exelon Nuclear, which owns the facility. He said that if Exelon wanted to start a nuclear plant today, the licensing, design, planning and building requirements are so extensive it would not open until 2015 at the earliest. But even if Exelon got all the approvals, it could not start building “because the cost of capital for a nuclear plant today is prohibitive.”

That’s because the interest rate that any commercial bank would charge on a loan for a nuclear facility would be so high — because of all the risks of lawsuits or cost overruns — that it would be impossible for Exelon to proceed. A standard nuclear plant today costs about $3 billion per unit. The only way to stimulate more nuclear power innovation, Crane said, would be…

Poll: New Support for Nuclear Energy in Canada

From the CBC:
A little more than half of Canadians believe nuclear power is one way to have cleaner air and lower greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new poll commissioned by the government.

The CBC obtained a copy of the Ipsos Reid survey of 2,000 Canadians that was conducted between Feb. 16 and Feb. 22 for the federal Department of Natural Resources.

Seventy-one per cent of those surveyed believed nuclear energy will be an important part of Canada's energy supply in the future.

But only 51 per cent believed that to reduce greenhouse gases, the use of nuclear energy should be increased.For more news out of the Pickering station in Ontario, click here.

G7 Gives Nuclear Energy Endorsement

From AFP:
Finance chiefs from the G7 industrialized countries have endorsed nuclear energy, an increasingly attractive power source as governments confront global warming and over-dependence on fossil fuels.

The Group of Seven, following a meeting here Friday, described energy diversification as an important priority for both rich and poor nations.

"Diversification can include advanced energy technologies such as renewable, nuclear and clean coal," said the ministers and central bank governors from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

The group at previous meetings had been unable to agree on a text citing nuclear power, notably in the face of opposition from Germany.

But a steady rise in oil prices, from less than 30 dollars a barrel in April 2003 to nearly 80 dollars last year, as well as increased energy nationalism in producers such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran have managed to change minds.Thanks to NAM Blog for the pointer.

Browns Ferry Reactor Inches Closer to Restart

From the AP:
The Tennessee Valley Authority on Thursday told federal regulators it is ready for a final inspection before returning its oldest nuclear reactor to service after a five-year, $1.8 billion restoration.

TVA asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to send its "operational readiness assessment team" to the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Ala., to evaluate the Unit 1 reactor.

The reactor is slated to power up in May after a nearly 22-year shutdown.

"It is kind of the last significant test," TVA spokesman John Moulton said. "It is basically telling the NRC, 'Bring your team in and confirm that this plant's ready to operate again as a three-unit plant.'"
For more on the reactor from NRC, click here.

AREVA and MHI's Joint Reactor Development

From AREVA: AREVA, the world's largest business group in the nuclear energy field, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) confirm the fast deployment of their alliance in the nuclear energy area, as established last October....Since October 2006, AREVA and MHI teams have worked together to define the conceptual bases on which the future advanced reactor will be developed. They have agreed on the main features of this reactor: an advanced generation 3, pressurized water, 3 loops reactor with a power of around 1100 MWe. It will integrate the latest features already adopted by AREVA and MHI in terms of safety (resistance to commercial airplane crashes for instance), environment (reduced spent fuel and waste) and efficiency (possibility of extended fuel cycles and capacity to use MOX fuel for instance).Sweet stuff!

NEI Energy Markets Report (April 2nd - April 6th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week: Electricity prices increased last week (see pages 1 & 2).Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub $0.28 to $7.54 / MMBtu (see page 4).Twenty one reactors were in refueling outages with eight beginning and two finishing last week. Five reactors were down for maintenance last week (see pages 2 & 3).Uranium prices jumped $18 to $113 / lb U3O8 according to TradeTech and Ux Consulting. “This is the largest single increase since uranium prices were first reported by NUEXCO in 1968, and marks a 57 percent increase in the spot uranium price since the beginning of the year,” according to TradeTech.For the podcast click here. For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

The TVA and the Future of Nuclear Energy

Here's Rep. Zach Wamp from today's Chattanoogan:
There's another piece to energy independence and that is nuclear energy. We have tremendous resources and skill sets in our Tennessee Valley region to help bring about a nuclear renaissance. TVA could demonstrate proliferation-resistant technology to recycle spent nuclear fuel and reduce waste. We have five nuclear units online today, and could have eight to nine nuclear units in the TVA system within the next seven years if we can show that a large part of the spent fuel can be converted back into energy. France and Great Britain already do this and there's no reason why we can't lead these efforts from our region.

An Interview With Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers

He recently spoke to Amanda Griscom Little of Grist:
Q. You've recently tried to define one approach via the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. Tell us how that alliance formed, and the process of give-and-take that got you to the final agreement.

A. Most of the executives knew each other and had had ongoing conversations with environmental groups on a range of issues, so there was a set of existing relationships that brought us all into the room. I think the pivotal moment was in December when we began to agree on how we would structure the cap-and-trade program. The really big issue was: Can coal be part of the energy equation in the future? We agreed that it will be, given the fact that 50 percent of our electricity in this country comes from coal.

The other issue was the recognition that nuclear had to play an important part in the equation. This is a tightrope that the environmental community is walking. On the one hand, they want to solve climate. On the other hand, nuclear is th…

Texas and the Future of Nuclear Energy

On Sunday night, 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft mentioned that France had managed to build 58 nuclear reactors in a country the size of Texas. Coincidentally, less than 24 hours later, the Wall Street Journal fronted a story about how TXU, a company that recently abandoned plans to build 8 coal-fired power plants, was now planning on building some of the largest commercial nuclear reactors in the world.

Now that story about Texas and nuclear energy is creating some other conversations. Click here for a post from Slouching Toward Serfdom, and then here to listen to a discussion of TXU's plans on the latest episode of the Atomic Show.

UPDATE: More from Marketplace.

A Bright Electric Powered Future for the Car

After taking a hard look at the all-electric Tesla Roadster, Demon Speeding is conjuring up a hopeful, and fun, vision for the future of the automobile:
Voltage. Amps. Kilowatts. Zero Emissions. Lithium Ion. I see parking garages and parking lots of work places being equipped with plugs. I see gas stations offering “quick change” battery exchanges similar to the way one could exchange a propane tank today. I see the US taking a new interest in the development and construction of new nuclear power plants. I see electricity rates per kilowatt hour electricity rate falling to all-time lows. I see new racing leagues, in the spirit of Formula 1, Indy, Cart and NASCAR, being launched with all-electric vehicles. I see light at the end of the tunnel for a lifelong “gear-head”.Sounds great to me. Zoom zoom!

Checking The Numbers On the Anti-Nukes

Megan McArdle:
The environmental movement has so far utterly failed to develop a coherent approach to replacing carbon producing power sources. Wind and solar are not such a coherent response without a massive breakthrough in battery technology, because variable sources are inadequate to provide base-load power. Also, they too have negative externalities: wind kills birds and destroys views, and many solar panels are loaded with gallium arsenide, a highly toxic substance that is apparently rather tricky to dispose of.

All this wouldn't be so bothersome if the environmental movement merely failed to provide realistic alternatives, but in fact, many environmentalists actively move to block new wind installations (I'm looking at you, Robert jr.) and nuclear power plants, spread hysteria over nuclear waste, and otherwise actively work against the cause they are trying to advance. As such, it is perfectly legitimate to demand why they are blocking the only things that have any r…

TCS Daily on the Supreme Court and GHG

From Max Schulz:
The irony is that the beneficiary of Monday's ruling won't be wind power, solar power, or any of the other renewable technologies favored by the Green establishment. Their economic and technological limitations are too severe for them ever to occupy more than a small niche in the American energy economy. Instead, one of the winners from Massachusetts v. EPA just may be something that many of the environmentalists who brought the suit have long abhorred: nuclear power. Like renewables, nuclear power generates electricity with no pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions. But unlike renewables, nuclear is capable of generating reliable power on a massive scale, which is what our country's future energy demands will require.

Nuclear power is on the verge of making a comeback in the United States. Thanks to several favorable provisions in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, as well as a streamlined licensing process, it is possible we could see the construction of new plan…

Are Renewables Really Renewable?

We all know that the fuel required for renewable sources of energy are virtually limitless, hence the name. But what about the essential components that renewables like wind turbines and solar panels rely on to function? An article from The Economist (subscription required) highlights several production problems for the "clean-tech boom":
THESE should be heady times for Vestas, a Danish firm that makes more than a quarter of the world's wind turbines. The wind business is booming, and the company said last week that it had swung into profit in 2006, thanks to an 8% rise in revenue. But there is “significant unexploited production capacity”, Vestas says, due to shortages of high-quality turbine components. Other companies grumble about a lack of gearboxes and bearings.Wind firms' worries echo those in the solar-power business, which is also booming but where a shortage of polysilicon has hampered growth. Silicon is made from sand, which is abundant, but there are not …

NEI Energy Markets Report (March 26th - March 30th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week: Electricity prices were mostly increasing throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub $0.38 to $7.26 / MMBtu (see page 4).Fourteen reactors were in refueling outages with two beginning and one finishing last week. One reactor was down for maintenance last week (see pages 2 & 3).Natural gas futures traded between $7.44 - $8.16 / MMBtu for the months of April to October 2007. Crude oil futures traded between $64.36 - $68.32 / barrel for the months of April to October 2007 (see page 6).For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

New Template for NEI Nuclear Notes

I'm sure by now some of you have noticed some changes in our design template. Please don't be alarmed, as this is all part of our efforts at fully leveraging the new features of Blogger that are just out of beta.

So don't fret, all of the links and such you like will be restored over the weekend.

Where in the World is Patrick Moore?

Last night he was on the Texas Gulf Coast. Details from the Houston Chronicle:
Speaking Thursday before the Gulf Coast Power Association in The Woodlands, Moore described himself as "proudly skeptical" of claims the scientific community has reached a consensus on the causes of global warming, but said he remains in favor of moving away from reliance on fossil fuels.

Moore, who is chairman and chief scientist of consulting firm Greenspirit Strategies and co-chair of a pro-nuclear energy group called the CASEnergy Coalition, said nuclear power could help wean the U.S. from its reliance on foreign oil and natural gas. It could also reduce the health effects of power plant emissions and save oil and gas for better uses, such as creating plastics, he said.

Moore's visit to Houston comes as a growing number of companies announce plans to build what will be the first new nuclear power reactors in the U.S. in nearly two decades.To join the CASEnergy Coalition, click here.

60 Minutes Looks at the Nuclear Energy Comeback

My boss, Scott Peterson passed along an interesting nugget of news: 60 Minutes will be airing a segment on nuclear energy this Sunday night:
“VIVE LES NUKES”

With power demands rising and concerns over global warming increasing, the search is on for an efficient means of producing large amounts of carbon free energy is becoming ever more. One of the few available options is nuclear, a technology whose time seemed to have come and gone, but may now be coming again. For the first time in decades, new nuclear plants are being built, and not just in Iran and North Korea. With zero green house gas emissions, the U.S. government, public utilities and even some environmental groups are taking a second look at nuclear power – especially in France, where it has been a resounding success. 60 MINUTES’ report on the nuclear power option will air this Sunday, April 8, 7PM ET/PT on CBS.Click here for a preview of Steve Kroft's piece.

Solar vs Nuclear Energy in Hawaii

Michael R. Fox Ph.D. for Hawaii Reporter debates the topic but finds solar doesn't have the answers: In response to a recent article I wrote about nuclear energy - "Why Not Nuclear Energy in Hawaii?" - an advocate with a United Kingdom (UK) email address pushed his preference for a solar facility as an energy source for Hawaii.One of the areas he questioned was: “If there is space and flat land in Hawaii sufficient to build nuclear power stations, (given that you probably wouldn't want to put them too close to human habitation) isn't there probably enough space and flat land to build a CSP plant (Concentrating Solar Power) to harvest the rays of the sun and turn them into carbon free electricity?”Sound familiar? Looks like Mr. Fox was spammed by Gerry Wolff whom we and many other bloggers have been spammed by as well. Needless to say Mr. Fox wasn't impressed and had these thoughts on the technology. This author spent many years of professional experience in t…

UniStar Signs Contract with AmerenUE to Prepare COL

From Yahoo: UniStar Nuclear's development arm, UniStar Development Company, has entered into an agreement with Ameren Corporation's (NYSE: AEE - News) Missouri-based utility, AmerenUE, to assist in preparing a combined construction and operating license application (COLA). UniStar Nuclear, the jointly developed nuclear business enterprise of Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG - News) and AREVA Inc., is working toward developing and deploying a proposed standardized fleet of advanced U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactors (U.S. EPR) in the U.S.Another one to add to the list.

Ford's Hydrogen-Powered Plug-In Hybrid

Details from Popular Mechanics. They have video of a test drive. Don't forget, one way to make hydrogen without generating emissions is with nuclear energy.

Thanks to Instapundit for the pointer.

On the UC Berkeley Nuclear Study

I'm sure many of you saw stories about a report yesterday out of UC Berkeley about nuclear energy and cost overruns:
The report is based on historical construction cost data. It does not reflect where the industry and the regulatory process are at today. While it cites many studies, including the MIT and University of Chicago, it has some notable omissions. For example, it does not provide any form of reason for the huge cost overruns in the 1980s, it does not explain or reference the new and improved licensing process, nor does it mention the extensive industry efforts relating to standardization.



The licensing process has been improved based on the lessons learned from the 1970s and 1980s. It now resolves safety issues before the start of construction. The standards for the combined license application will result in the designs to be essentially complete prior to starting construction. It provides for greater public participation.



The new licensing process and modern, modu…

CERA Report: Nuclear Power “Renaissance” Moving Beyond Talk to Real Action

From the press release:
Governments and businesses around the globe have moved beyond talking to real action to renew development of nuclear power, and have created “good prospects for a major nuclear expansion over the coming decades,” according to a new analysis by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA).

“Over the past few years, high fossil fuel prices, energy security and climate change concerns and increasing urgency about reducing greenhouse gas emissions have all converged to improve the position of nuclear power relative to other options,” CERA Senior Director Jone-Lin Wang and Associate Director Christopher J. Hansen write in the new report Is the “Nuclear Renaissance” Real?

In the U.S., where no new reactor has been ordered in 28 years, these trends, plus excellent performance of the existing nuclear fleet and financial incentives in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, have led to a race to develop new nuclear power reactors. In Asia, where the building of new nuclear plants n…

Nuclear Powered Train Sets Speed Record

Well, yes but not quite. I'll explain in a bit. Here's the story from the AP:
A French train with a 25,000-horsepower engine and special wheels broke the world speed record Tuesday for conventional rail trains, reaching 357.2 mph as it zipped through the countryside to the applause of spectators.

Roaring like a jet plane, with sparks flying overhead and kicking up a long trail of dust, the black-and-chrome V150 with three double-decker cars surpassed the record of 320.2 mph set in 1990 by another French train.

It fell short, however, of beating the ultimate record set by Japan's magnetically levitated train, which hit 361 mph in 2003.

The French TGV, or "train a grande vitesse," as the country's bullet train is called, had two engines on either side of the three double- decker cars for the record run, some 125 miles east of the capital on a new track linking Paris with Strasbourg.

Aboard the V150, the sensation was comparable to that of an airplane at takeoff.

Th…

NEI Teaches the Teachers About Nuclear Energy

When 11,000 science teachers invaded St. Louis, Mo., last week, the nuclear energy industry was there to teach them about clean-air nuclear power.

The Nuclear Energy Institute hosted an exhibit hall booth that drew strong traffic during the week-long convention that ended April 1. We answered plenty of questions about new plants and used fuel, and provided brochures and other material about nuclear energy.

We received an overwhelmingly positive response from the teachers. Many appreciated our up-to-date materials. That’s especially important since many said that their textbooks contain little or no information on nuclear power. And even when the books discussed nuclear energy, the information was out of date (sometimes by 10 years or more). Here's a sampling of some of their comments:

-- "I don't understand why we ever stopped building nuclear power plants in the United States." – Missouri teacher
-- "When will we build more plants? I am behind that 100 perce…

On Europe and Nuclear Energy

The European blog Power Encounter is running an interview with Natalie Horbach, a professor at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy, University of Dundee. Here's an excerpt:
Club of Amsterdam: Can you explain how nuclear energy relates to environmental issues? What role is it going to play in context of sustainable energy sources like wind energy etc.?

Nathalie Horbach: Nuclear energy provides for a credible alternative source of electricity. It does not emit CO2 although, similar to renewable energy sources, emissions are not entirely zero. Due to the need to mitigate recognized risks, nuclear energy has the most secured and innovative energy fuel cycle, in respect of both strict international and national safety and liability regulation (polluter-pays), including internalization of such costs in the electricity price.Read the rest right now.

Sweden Moving Closer to New Nuclear Build

From The Local:
The Christian Democratic party in Sweden has recently announced that it is changing its position on nuclear power. According to a report published by the party, the goal is no longer to "phase out Swedish nuclear energy as renewable sources replace it".

Instead, the Christian Democrats explain that they "do not wish to rule out that new nuclear reactors will be built in Sweden after 2010".One more European nation comes to its senses. What a relief. For more from our archives, click here.

Nuclear Energy on TVOntario

Back on March 15, TVOntario did two programs on the future of nuclear energy in the province. Click here (MP3) for an interview with Patrick Moore of the CASEnergy Coalition. Then click here (MP3) for a panel discussion that includes our friend Steven Aplin, Duncan Hawthorne of Bruce Power, Dave Martin of Greenpeace Canada and our old friend Dr. Helen Caldicott.

For TVO's blog coverage, click here and here.

50 Years Ago: The Start of Commercial Nuclear Power

Early this morning over at NAM Blog, our friend Carter Wood posted about the opening of the Vallecitos Atomic Electric Power Plant, the proud owner of NRC Reactor License #1:
Two generations later, America's nuclear renaissance is picking up speed. Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 5-0 to authorize an Early Site Permit (ESP) to System Energy Resources Inc. for the Grand Gulf site near Port Gibson, Miss. Supporting documents are here and the NRC's news release is here. The ESP process, while cutting government red tape, still covers all the important areas to ensure each site's plant safety, environmental protection and comprehensive emergency response plans.

[...]

Good news, good developments, indeed. Two generations after the first commercial nuclear power plant began generating electricity, nuclear energy is being reborn in the United States. All the more reason to make 2007 a year to celebrate.Here, here.