Thursday, May 31, 2007

President Bush Proposes Climate Talks

From the AP:

President Bush, seeking to blunt international criticism of the U.S. record on climate change, on Thursday urged 15 major nations to agree by the end of next year on a global emissions goal for reducing greenhouse gases.

Bush called for the first in a series of meetings to begin this fall, bringing together countries identified as major emitters of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The list would include the United States, China, India and major European countries.

The president outlined his proposal in a speech ahead of next week's summit in Germany of leading industrialized nations, where global warming is to be a major topic and Bush will be on the spot.

Rely on Nuclear Australia

Developments in the civilian nuclear energy sector in Australia are coming fast and furious and it's hard to keep up sometimes -- unless you read Nuclear Australia every day. I know I can't afford not to.

This Week in Nuclear, Episode #47

Click here to listen to John Wheeler's latest podcast.

A Grand Coalition on Nuclear Energy and Climate Change

We Support Lee says the latest round of G8 negotiations provides an interesting opportunity.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Nuclear Energy and the Alberta Oil Sands

Updates from the Calgary Sun and the Whitecourt Star.

South Africa Identifies Five Possible Nuclear Plant Sites

Details from The Herald (Port Elizabeth, SA).

Uranium and the Daily Reckoning

Last Fall, I spent a couple of days at a conference in Las Vegas where I sat in on a discussion of how to use free content to drive purchase of paid content. That session was run by an editor from Fleet Street Publications (FSP), a publisher of investing newsletters, and the free vehicle they used to drive paid subscriptions was something called The Daily Reckoning.

After listening for a few minutes, it became pretty clear to me that FSP was one of the few newsletter publishers that had a real handle on what it was going to take to compete in a world that was awash in free content.

Why mention this? Because today's edition contains an interesting discussion of international uranium markets. Feel free to take a look.

The Chinese Nuclear Energy Push

From yesterday's Washington Post:

Under plans already announced, China intends to spend $50 billion to build 32 nuclear plants by 2020. Some analysts say the country will build 300 more by the middle of the century. That's not much less than the generating power of all the nuclear plants in the world today.

By that point, the Chinese economy is expected to be the world's largest, and the idea that it may get most of its electricity from nuclear fission is being met with both optimism and concern. Nuclear power plants, unlike those that run on fossil fuels, release few greenhouse gases. But they produce waste that can be dangerously radioactive for thousands of years.
But unlike greenhouse gas emissions, used nuclear fuel can easily be easily managed for an indefinite period of time. Meanwhile, techniques to sequester carbon have yet to be perfected.

Here's hoping China builds every last one of those nuclear plants, and maybe a few more.

For more news from China, click here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Greenpeace’s Economics of Nuclear Power

Greenpeace International recently issued a report titled “The Economics of Nuclear Power” (pdf). The four analysts (commissioned by Greenpeace) pulled cost information from 12 recent studies, analyzed how they differed, and even got into the breakdown and makeup of nuclear’s cost components. They discussed all the different reactor technologies and kept Greenpeace’s anti-nuclear spin to a minimum. Facts are facts and writers should not have to spin facts to bolster their arguments.

With that being said, I have a few problems with the study. There are some contradictions in the report; it is a bit careless with the data; and the authors apparently have not fully thought out their alternative solutions.

Contradictions in the Report
From the press release:

A new report published by a team of international energy and economic experts…conclusively proves that nuclear power is neither a practical nor economically viable solution to tackling climate change.

I read the report before I read the press release and from my reading of the report, it does not conclude with the above statement. Here’s what the report concluded (p. 49):
Hydro electricity and wind energy are expected to deliver the biggest increases in electricity production by 2020 – roughly 2000 TWh in each case, depending on the growth rate in wind. Each of these technologies is expected to deliver electricity at around €40-50/MWh, which is likely to be competitive with nuclear, gas and coal – although this depends on the price of carbon by that time…
So based on this conclusion, nuclear is already economically competitive with gas and coal, and hydro and wind will be competitive with nuclear, gas and coal sometime in the future. Did Greenpeace even read the report they commissioned? Apparently not, because the report concluded that nuclear power is currently “economically viable” with fossil fuels. Not the other way around like their press release states.

P. 21:
...from the late 1980s onwards, the nuclear industry worldwide has made strenuous efforts to improve performance. Worldwide, load factors now average more than 80%. The USA has an annual average of about 90% compared to less than 60% in 1980…
Hmm. The press release states nuclear plants have “poor reliability” but the report says we have strenuously improved performance. It looks like Greenpeace wrote the press release before the report was even written, then didn’t bother to read what they paid for.

Carelessness
On page 8, the report provides a table on the “Construction time of nuclear power plants worldwide.” The period of reference in the table moves in 6 year increments yet skips the period 1989 – 1994. Oops.

On page 30 is Table 2.2 which compares the cost components of the 12 recent studies of nuclear. But it neglects to indicate the monetary year in which costs are given. Is it in 2005 euros? 2006 euros? 2000 euros? All the studies were released in different years and so when comparing studies, the authors need to adjust the figures for inflation. The chart is meaningless if costs are not adjusted to a common year.

On page 42 and 44 the reader will find that Table 4.1 and 4.2 are actually the same tables with apparently different sources. Oops again.

This is nitpicking on my part but if we’re discussing economics I would make sure my data is impeccable.

Too Much Time Spent on Olkiluoto
Part 3 begins with a three page analysis of the Olkiluoto reactor currently under construction by Areva in Finland. For those who do not know, the reactor is an Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) rated at 1,600 MW. The Olkiluoto project is the first EPR to be constructed, and the U.S. and France are looking to build several more. The reason why it is highlighted in this report (as some of the readers here I’m sure can guess) is that startup has been delayed by about a year and a half.

The 1,600 MW reactor was originally projected to take about 4 years to build. It is now about 1.5 to 2 years behind schedule therefore taking 5-6 years to construct. Considering that it will be the largest reactor in the world when finished and is the first of its kind, I think a 6 year construction period is pretty good compared to nuclear power’s construction history. Let’s wait and see when the plant is finished.

The thing to keep in mind about Olkiluoto is that it is one reactor under construction out of over 500 reactors that have been constructed in the world. And it will not be the last reactor to be built.

Let’s not forget that the nuclear industry isn’t the only industry that experiences delays and cost overruns during construction. For instance, take the Mackenzie gas pipeline which will run from Canada to the U.S.:
Imperial Oil Ltd., the lead partner in the pipeline project, said Monday costs to build the pipeline and a gathering system and develop three anchor fields escalated to $16.2-billion, from $7-billion predicted in 2004. The company also said the startup date for the pipeline will arrive no sooner than 2014, three years later than had been anticipated.
Wow, their price for the pipeline more than doubled and the start up date increased by three years. Does this delay mean though we should stop building all gas pipelines because this project is experiencing a construction delay?

The Alternatives
What I look forward to most about reading this type of report are the alternative solutions brought forth. “The Economics of Nuclear Power” (pdf) cites another Greenpeace report as the primary source for information about alternatives. That report, entitled “Energy Revolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook” is summarized in Annex C of the Economics report. According to the report:
Renewable Energy will deliver nearly 70% of global electricity supply and 65% of global heat supply by 2050.
At the same time the report says the world will be able to cut CO2 emissions by almost 50%. How are they going to do this you ask? P. 57:
The phasing out of nuclear energy and rising electricity demand will be met initially by bringing into operation new highly efficient gas fired combined-cycle power plants…
Greenpeace’s plan is to rely on more fossil fuels in order to phase out nuclear energy. But it also plans to reduce emissions by about 50% by 2050. I wonder if they know that gas plants emit CO2 and nuclear plants do not. This plan is backwards. P. 57:
wind will be the most important single source of electricity generation
As wind technology advances, its capacity factor could gradually increase from its current 30%. But the wind doesn’t always blow and according to the report on page 48:
Wind, wave and solar energy are variable, and generally unpredictable.
So this begs the question, can the world run on an “unpredictable” source of energy? My opinion: not if people want to live prosperous lives.

P. 57:
The installed capacity of renewable energy technologies will grow from the current 800 GW to 7,100 GW (emphasis mine) in 2050.
The world needs to build an additional 6,300 GW of renewable capacity in 43 years. Wow. That’s equal to building 147 GW a year or 1 GW every 2.5 days of renewable capacity. One gigawatt is the average size of a current U.S. nuclear plant. So the report wants to build the equivalent renewable capacity of one nuclear plant every 2.5 days. I wonder what the IEER thinks of Greenpeace's plan since it gawks at the idea of nuclear plants being built "more rapid than one a week." (pdf)

I’m not saying that it can’t be done though. What I want to point out is that current worldwide nuclear capacity is 370 GW (pdf) versus renewables’ 800 GW. Yet they are roughly providing the same worldwide energy contribution (see chart below).

This should tell readers that we would need twice as much renewable capacity as nuclear capacity to provide the same needs. So if we need 6,300 GW of renewable capacity, that means we really only need 3,150 GW of nuclear capacity to do the same thing.

What about costs? The Greenpeace report states that hydro and wind will be economically competitive with nuclear, coal and gas. So if renewables are around the same price in the future as nuclear and you need twice as much renewables to match the same output as one nuclear plant, then we’re talking about twice as much money required for renewables then for nuclear. It appears the report is so concerned about the costs of nuclear they fail to realize how much more it will cost to implement 6,300 GW of renewables vs. 3,150 GW of nuclear for the same output.

Wrap Up
Before the report analyzed 12 different studies, it noted that “a forecast is only as good as the assumptions that go into it.” That’s the key. All we are doing here are making assumptions. To conclude that nuclear plants are uneconomical is premature. The simple fact is this: there are 436 nuclear reactors currently operating in the world (pdf). If they weren’t economical, then they wouldn’t be operating.

After about a 10-15 year lull in new nuclear plant construction, the world is going to give it another shot. We already know how to make these plants safe and efficient. The key now is making them economically better than the alternatives. And only time, not Greenpeace reports, will tell if nuclear can compete. Nuclear power is too good of a technology to stop using. We’re talking about harnessing the atom after all. I mean how cool is that?

News from the 2007 Nuclear Energy Assembly

While we've got a skeleton crew working at NEI's offices in Washington, D.C., a significant portion of our staff has spent this week in Miami working at the 2007 Nuclear Energy Assembly, the annual meeting of the nuclear energy industry.

While the meeting concludes today, there was a lot of action yesterday, including the two speeches that traditionally serve as the centerpiece of the event. This year's theme is "The Changing Climate for Nuclear Energy," and it's more than adequately reflected in the remarks delivered by John W. Rowe and NEI's Chairman and Skip Bowman, NEI's President and CEO.

Here's an excerpt from Skip's remarks that should give you a flavor of where things are headed:

Discussion and debate over how to address climate change is dominating the policy agenda in Washington and across the country. The Nuclear Energy Institute has never taken a position on climate issues but we will, over the next several months, be working with the NEI Executive Committee and our member companies to define an appropriate policy position for the only carbon-free technology that’s available today and capable of large-scale expansion.

It may well be past time to abandon the notion that a voluntary, “best effort” approach, by itself, represents a viable policy. As the world’s largest economy and most powerful nation, the United States has a responsibility to provide leadership on critical issues with major geopolitical implications.
Click here for a press release that summarizes both speeches. For other news from NEA 2007, click here and here.

Putting together this meeting takes a tremendous amount of effort, and I want to take a moment to congratulate all of my colleagues who worked so hard to put on this event. Congratulations on a job well done.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Paul Newman and Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

One of my colleagues at NEI just handed me the following statement from actor Paul Newman. Newman toured Entergy's Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant earlier this week, and after the completion of the tour, he issued the following statement which has also been distributed by Entergy and NEI:

Statement of Paul Newman

Indian Point tour of May 21, 2007

I recently toured the Indian Point nuclear plant and I expected to be shown safety and security at the plant. But what I saw exceeded my expectations. No Army or Navy base I’ve ever visited has been more armored and I couldn’t walk 30 feet inside the plant without swiping my key card to go through another security check point.

There was security at every turn, and the commitment to safety is clear. One worker told me his family lives very close to the plant, downwind even, and he is very comfortable because of the plant's commitment to safety.

During my tour of the plant, I was amazed that a generator that is the size of two or three rooms of my home can provide electricity for 1 million people without producing any greenhouse gas emissions.

I know a lot of people are concerned about nuclear waste. All of the spent fuel rods at Indian Point from more than 30 years of generating electricity are stored in a pool that, in my younger days, I could jump across.

Indian Point is an important source of electricity for millions of New Yorkers today. Because it doesn't produce any emissions that cause global warming, Indian Point will be even more important in the future.
Wow. More in a bit as I get details.

UPDATE: Coverage from Mid Hudson News. And please vote for this story over at Technorati at their WTF feature.

NEI Energy Markets Report (May 14th - May 18th)

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

Electricity prices were decreasing in the East and mixed throughout the rest of the country (see pages 1 & 2).

Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub $0.05 to $7.68 / MMBtu (see page 4).

Ten reactors were in refueling outages with three finishing last week. Six reactors were down for maintenance last week (see pages 2 & 3).

Uranium prices rose to $122 / lb U3O8 and $125 / lb U3O8 according to TradeTech and Ux Consulting. SO2 prices have increased by 44 percent since the middle of April. (See page 7 for uranium and SO2 prices.)

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

South Africa Wants 20,000 MWe in 20 Years

Details from iafrica.com.

U.K. Energy White Paper Calls for More Nuclear Energy

From the BBC:

Nuclear power is needed to help reduce carbon emissions and to ensure secure energy supplies, Tony Blair has said.

He spoke as the Energy White Paper was published, proposing a large increase in renewable energy.

The White Paper says there should be a mix of energy - and Mr Blair said that nuclear power must be "on the agenda".

Industry Secretary Alistair Darling told MPs a decision on nuclear power was needed by the end of the year. A consultation will run until October.
For a copy of the white paper, click here.

For a set of "key points" from Darling's statement, click here.

For more from 10 Downing Street, click here. Related news, here and here.

UPDATE: Nice quote from Darling:
“To say no to nuclear and there are many people saying no to new wind farms, that’s daft, it would needlessly expose the country,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. “I came to this as a nuclear sceptic, but the facts have changed.”
Indeed they have.

Meeting Patrick Moore

When told she was going to meet a co-founder of Greenpeace, reporter Alicia Colon wasn't terribly excited:

When I was asked to meet the cofounder of Greenpeace, my eyes rolled up a bit at the thought of meeting someone I assumed was an environmental militant.
She was in for a big surprise once she started talking to Patrick Moore.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

EIA's International Energy Outlook 2007

The Energy Information Administration released yesterday its annual International Energy Outlook for 2007. Here are some highlights from the press release:

World marketed energy consumption is projected to grow by 57 percent between 2004 and 2030.

...

Coal consumption, which grows an average annual rate of 2.2 percent, is the fastest-growing energy source worldwide in the IEO2007 reference case projection, which assumes that existing laws and policies remain in effect through 2030 notwithstanding concerns related to the rising level of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

...

Higher fossil fuel prices, energy security concerns, improved reactor designs, and environmental considerations are expected to improve prospects for nuclear power capacity in many parts of the world, and a number of countries are expected to build new nuclear power plants. World nuclear capacity is projected to rise from 368 gigawatts in 2004 to 481 gigawatts in 2030.

...

In the IEO2007 reference case, which does not include specific policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to rise from 26.9 billion metric tons in 2004 to 33.9 billion metric tons in 2015 and 42.9 billion metric tons in 2030.

Well the nuclear forecasts are definitely great news. The increase in carbon dioxide emissions, not so great news. For more info on the forecasts of nuclear power check out page 63 of the report.

Shell Investigating Nuclear for Alberta Oil Sands

Looks like this is an idea with some staying power: Another multinational oil company is investigating the use of nuclear energy to extract petroleum from Alberta's oil sands. This time, the name involved is Royal Dutch Shell.

Norwegian Company Expresses Interest in Thorium Reactor

This time, the company interested is Statkraft. Previously, we've seen reports of interest from both Thor Energi and Bergen Energi.

For more from our archives, click here.

Vermont Governor to Veto Vermont Yankee Tax Bill

Details from the Bennington Banner.

Fact Checking Another Sloppy Anti-Nuke

Over at the Huffington Post, John Rosenthal trotted out the same old tired anti-nuke talking points. Unfortunately for him, nuclear engineer Michael Flagg of FutureJacked is on the case.

TVA Restarts Browns Ferry Unit 1

From the TVA (release not yet online):

The Tennessee Valley Authority restarted Unit 1 at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in North Alabama today, completing one of the most extensive recovery efforts in the nuclear industry for an operating plant.

TVA received permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission May 15 to restart the reactor. TVA told the NRC on May 9 that it has the ability to operate and maintain all three units at Browns Ferry safely, that work to restart and operate Unit 1 is complete and that pre-start up testing was successful.

The restart completes the recovery effort within the five-year plan approved by the TVA Board in 2002, and at the projected cost of about $1.8 billion.

“Returning Browns Ferry Unit 1 to our nuclear fleet gives TVA another dependable, safe and emissions-free source of generation to help meet the growing demand for power in the Tennessee Valley,” said TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore. “The successful recovery of TVA’s third unit at Browns Ferry is a result of the commitment, determination and attention to detail of the people who did the work. I offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to all TVA employees and contractors who helped bring this important project to a successful conclusion.”

Operators began the deliberate, controlled process of restarting the reactor on Monday, May 21, and a self-sustaining nuclear reaction was achieved at 12:28 am CDT on Tuesday, May 22. Operators will gradually increase power in the reactor over the next several days and will test secondary plant systems to ensure they operate as designed.

TVA will continue to conduct tests on the reactor and the other plant systems during the next several weeks, including a series of brief connections to the power grid, followed by deliberate “automatic” trips, or shutdowns, to ensure that safety systems operate correctly.

Following these and other tests, the unit will be reconnected to the TVA power system for the final time. The tests are part of a program designed to bring the plant safely to power production. TVA conducted similar power-ascension tests during the successful restart and subsequent safe operation of Browns Ferry units 2 and 3.

“All three units at Browns Ferry are essentially alike now,” said TVA Acting Chief Nuclear Officer Preston Swafford. “We have new or refurbished equipment that is operated in the same manner on all three units, and our ongoing operations, maintenance, training and oversight programs can focus on sustaining high-quality performance to ensure the safe and reliable operation of Browns Ferry.”

TVA completed more than 4 million work hours preparing the engineering and design and more than 15 million work hours modifying, replacing, and refurbishing systems and components to ensure Browns Ferry Unit 1 can produce electricity safely and reliably to meet the growing need for power in the Tennessee Valley.

TVA installed modern digital instrumentation and controls, modern power supplies, replaced 200 miles of electrical cable and eight miles of pipe, replaced or refurbished the unit’s large pumps and motors and conducted more than 1,200 tests that showed Unit 1 meets the design and regulatory requirements for safe operation.

Browns Ferry is located on Wheeler Reservoir in Athens, Ala. All three units are capable of producing more than 1,155 megawatts of electricity each, enough for each unit to supply power to approximately 650,000 homes. TVA also operates two units at Sequoyah Nuclear Plant in Soddy Daisy, Tenn. and one unit at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Tenn.

TVA shut down all three Browns Ferry reactors in 1985 to address management and operational concerns. Browns Ferry units 2 and 3 were returned to service in 1991 and 1995, respectively. The recovery of Unit 1 used lessons learned from the restarts of units 2 and 3, and Unit 1 has the same upgrades and improvements made on the other two units.

In May 2002, the TVA Board approved returning Unit 1 to service, calling it the best business decision to meet the Tennessee Valley’s long-term power needs. The Board based its decision on improved nuclear performance, increased power demand in the Valley, a positive evaluation of the environmental impact, and a detailed scoping, estimating and planning effort for the Unit 1 restart.
Congratulations to everyone at TVA for a job well done. You've set a great example for the rest of the industry, and we're all proud of you.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Nuclear Energy, Increased Temperatures and the Truth About the Steam Cycle

Summer is just around the corner, which means that an old anti-nuke talking point that was first used about a year ago is getting trotted out in the press again.

From the International Herald Tribune:

But there is a less well-known side of nuclear power: It requires great amounts of cool water to keep reactors operating at safe temperatures. That is worrying if the rivers and reservoirs which many power plants rely on for water are hot or depleted because of steadily rising air temperatures.

If temperatures soar above average this summer - let alone steadily increase in years to come, as many scientists predict - many nuclear plants could face a dilemma: Either cut output or break environmental rules, in either case hurting their reputation with customers and the public.
For details on why this is not an insurmountable problem, click here and here for posts from our archives. Here's an excerpt from one of those posts by my friend Lisa Stiles:
It doesn't matter if you're burning uranium, coal, oil, or cow dung, anything that uses a steam cycle has the potential problem of exceeding discharge limits if temperatures are excessively warm. Since only about 1/3 of the heat is usable to turn a turbine, the waste heat has to go somewhere. To not have this problem you can:

--Not make the environmental regulations overly conservative
--Build a bigger heat sink
--Build a smaller plant
--Invent a thermodynamic cycle better than the ones the world's best minds have come up with in the past two centuries or so (and be sure to include my name on the patent).
Be sure to read the rest right now.

Why India Needs Nuclear Energy, and a Whole Lot More

One theme we've hit on a lot since we started NEI Nuclear Notes is the fact that billions of people in the developing world are in need of electricity, and getting them that electricity in a way that's both affordable and sustainable is an incredible challenge for science, engineering and international public policy.

Case in point, India:

GURGAON, India — This suburb south of New Delhi is where the fruits of India’s economic advance are on full display: sprawling malls, skyscrapers housing India’s acclaimed software companies, condominiums with names as fanciful as Nirvana Country.

But this fashionable address of the new India is also a portrait of ambition bumping up against reality, namely an electricity crisis that represents one of the major hurdles to India’s ability to hoist itself into the front ranks of the global economy.

Look up at the tops of buildings, and on any given day, you are likely to find three, four or six smokestacks poking out of each, blowing gray-black plumes into the clouds. If the smokestacks are being used, it means the power is off and the building — whether bright new mall, condominium or office — is probably being powered by diesel-fed generators.

This being India, a country of more than one billion people, the scale is staggering. In just one case, Tata Consultancy Services, a technology company, maintains five giant generators, along with a nearly 5,300-gallon tank of diesel fuel underground, as if it were a gasoline station.
Further...
The country’s energy needs are one of the government’s main arguments for a nuclear deal with the United States, which would allow India to buy reactors and fuel from the world market.

But even if the deal goes through, it would lift nuclear power, which provides 3 percent of India’s energy, to no more than 9 percent, said Leena Srivastava, executive director of the Energy and Resources Institute, a private research group.

Similarly, in the coming years, alternative sources of energy, like wind, are expected to double, but to no more than about 8 percent of supply.

Coal will continue to dominate power generation, and already more than a third of India’s coal plants do not meet national emissions standards.
That's right, nuclear energy can't do it alone. But facing down the challenge without nuclear energy would be impossible.

Click here for possible links between India and Brazil on transfer of civilian nuclear technology.

Dr. Richard Leaky Wants Nuclear Energy for Africa

From an Edmonton Journal story on environmentalists who are now supporting nuclear energy:

[D]uring a recent visit to Edmonton, world famous Kenyan paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey also said he'd welcome nuclear power to Africa. People there are energy starved, burning the forest cover to cook meals, he said. If the developed world would help them by building nuclear reactors, they would prevent the release of greenhouse gases and provide many people with a stable energy source to build their lives around, he said.
I'm sure the folks in South Africa who are working on the PBMR heard that request loud and clear.

For more details, check out the essential We Support Lee.

Used Fuel, Carbon Emissions and Vermont Yankee

From the Boston Globe:

Activists released a new report Friday indicating Vermont has more radioactive nuclear waste per capita than any state in the nation, which they said underscores the need for approval of a climate change bill that would tax the Vermont Yankee plant.
Which led Ruth Sponsler to respond:
Vermont Yankee's spent nuclear fuel is contained and hidden away where it hurts no one. If there's more "nuclear waste" per capita in Vermont than in other states, that means that Vermont is releasing less fossil fuel waste to the open atmosphere. That means Vermont residents breathe less sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and nitrous oxides per capita - - - because nuclear energy is substituting for fossil fuel generation.
Here's hoping somebody's editor at the Boston Globe reads Ruth's response. For a previous post on anti-nuke efforts to increase taxes on Vermont Yankee, click here.

Brown to Complete Blair's Plans for U.K. Nuclear Expansion

With U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair set to leave the scene in a few weeks, some folks are speculating on what areas his presumptive successor, Gordon Brown, might break with the current PM. As it turns out, new nuclear build is one of area where there won't be any policy change at all. From the Guardian:

Gordon Brown is to face down sceptics in his party and give the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations, which will be built across the country.

In a move immediately condemned by environmental organisations, the Prime Minister-elect will give the green light to the plans that will show that he is backing Tony Blair's support of the nuclear industry.

Boosted by a new poll, which shows Brown pulling ahead of David Cameron on the issue of competence to run the country, the Chancellor will signal his support this week for a dramatic renewal of the nuclear power programme that will see the building of up to eight new stations, possibly within 15 years.
Thanks to Logipundit for the pointer.

UPDATE: More details on next steps, here.

Another Environmentalist for Nuclear Energy

From TPM Cafe:

the global warming issue is far graver than the issue of nuclear power plant waste. Therefore I think we should follow our priorities and promote nuclear energy plants as well as solar and wind. Because I am skeptical that we can get to 100 percent green energy production...

It's an environmentalists' predicament - but it's obvious which of the two choices, global warming or nuclear waste, poses greater risk to the planet. We have met the enemy and he is us – environmentalists have prevented nuclear plants from being built in the past. Has this resulted in CO2 emissions? Probably. I will say that if we can have 100 percent electricity generation from green power (solar, wind, geothermal,) that would be peachy with me, but I am skeptical it could be done.
Sounds like there's some common ground here. We're ready to talk if you are.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Taking the Measure of Alternative Energy Growth

One of the common claims that anti-nukes like to make about nuclear energy is that it can't be expanded quickly enough to have an impact on constraining greenhouse gas emissions. One person who doesn't believe that claim is David Barnett. From the Canberra Times:

Alternative energy can only be peripheral. We do not face up to our real choice because the Greens are watermelon green on the outside and deep Trotskyite red on the inside. Their prime concern is the evil of capitalism, and they command the media.
For proof of the claim that alternative or renewable energy can only be peripheral, click here for the latest DKos diary from NNadir. I've added boldface to the appropriate figures
Let's do the numbers.

Here are the forms of primary energy that are not fossil fuel based available and tested and therefore measurable. In parentheses I am going to put a date off the top of my head indicating when that form of non-fossil fuel energy provided energy to the grid, if I know it.

Solar electricity (1955).

Biofuels/trash/waste burning (Early in 20th century - wood).

Geothermal (1913 - Italy)

Nuclear Power (1954 - UK, 1957 - US)

Wind power (1970's - Altamont)

Did I leave anything out?

Here are the statistics, measured in units of energy for everything listed above except nuclear energy from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) for the period between 1993 and 2007.

Renewable Energy Production in the United States, 1993-2007 (Feb)


Now I am going to take the rate of increase in units of energy, delivered as electrical power per year in the period between 1993 and 2005 (12 years). The units of this calculation will be thousand megawatt-hours/per year.

Wood (biomass): 96 thousand megawatt-hours/per year.

Waste: - 259 thousand megawatt-hours/per year. Negative number.

Geothermal: - 190 thousand megawatt-hours/per year. Negative number.

Solar: (Usually everybody's favorite): +8

Wind (Another favorite): 1345 thousand megawatt-hours/per year.

Overall, renewable energy in the United States has increased at a rate of 1000 thousand megawatt-hours/per year.

Now let's do nuclear, recognizing at the same time that no new nuclear power plants have been ordered since 1978.

Here is the data for the eleven year period between 1993-2004 (2005 does not show up on this chart):
Nuclear Energy for the whole world, but I'm just using US figures.

Be careful with the units and note that this chart is in BILLIONS of KILOwatt-hours.. Thus you will need to correct with a factor of 1000 to be equivalent to the renewable figures above.

Converting billions of kilowatt hours to thousands of megawatt-hours we see that the nuclear figure is 16,203 thousand megawatt-hours per year for nuclear even without building a new plant. Where did all this energy come from if no new plants were built? Improved operations mostly.
Interesting, don't you think? Thanks to Advanced Nanotechnology and Nuclear Australia for the pointers.

A Salute to Pat Cleary

I wanted to take a moment to note that one of NEI's best friends in the blogosphere, Pat Cleary of Shop Floor, the blog of the National Association of Manufacturers, will be leaving NAM effective today to join Fleishman-Hillard as Director of Digital Public Affairs.

From the start, Pat and his colleagues at NAM Blog have understood the critical role nuclear energy plays in the nation's energy mix, and how it supports American manufacturing. He's a great blog buddy, and everyone at NEI wishes him nothing but success in his new role at Fleishman-Hillard.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet realdre.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Marketplace on Used Nuclear Fuel and Recycling

Here's an item I had forgotten to pass along: A feature by PRI's Marketplace on used nuclear fuel and the potential for recycling. For the audio, which includes an interview with NEI's Steve Kraft, click here.

More on the Wisconsin Nuclear Legislation

Details from the Green Bay Press. For our post from last week, click here.

China: Full Speed Ahead On Nuclear Energy

Two items out of China caught my eye this morning. First, here's a report from XFN-Asia:

China's uranium demand is expected to grow 4-6 times by 2020, as the country increases its annual installed nuclear power capacity to 40 mln kilowatts from 9 mln at present, a government official said.
My guess is that a lot of that uranium is going to be coming from Australia, where I'm sure our Aussie friends are going to be happy to cash the checks.

Next, there's this statement from China's Vice Premier, Zeng Peiyan:
China should further develop the new generation nuclear power technology to ensure the sustainable development of the economy, Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan said on Tuesday.

Zeng made the remarks when inspecting the 10MW high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) in Tsinghua University.

"Developing the technology of generating power with HTGR is significant for promoting the country's innovative capability, improving the energy structure and building up a resource-efficient and environment-friendly society," Zeng said.
China still has a few hundred million people it wants to lift out of poverty, and those people are going to need electric power. I'm glad to see that nuclear is going to be part of that mix.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Patrick Moore Interview with New York Resident

CASEnergy co-chair Patrick Moore sat down for a recent Q&A session with New York Resident. Here's an excerpt:

In your work, have you found that people are resistant to expanding nuclear power?

PM: No, in fact, in Ontario, a decision was made over a year ago to build new nuclear. In the United States, there are now 34 nuclear power plants on the drawing boards – most of them in the Southeast where the population is growing most rapidly – but I understand there’s talk of a new nuclear plant at Nine Mile Point in upstate New York. So, yes, there’s a great deal of public acceptance. Fully 70 percent of the American public supports nuclear energy. The fact that there is a small and extremely vociferous anti-nuclear movement makes it seem as though there’s inordinate opposition, but it’s not the case if you look at the actual polling. Even in Westchester County, where the Indian Point reactor is, there is a clear majority in favor, according to a recent poll just a few weeks ago (by Manhattanville College in Purchase).
For our latest public opinion report, click here. For details on the Manhattanville poll, click here.

USA Today: Nuclear Energy Must Play Larger Role

In the wake of NRC's decision to authorize the restart of Browns Ferry Unit 1, USA Today is editorializing that nuclear needs to play a larger role in the nation's energy future.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

MIT Forum on Nuclear Energy

The MIT Technology and Culture Forum sponsored a recent forum on the future of nuclear energy on campus back in March:

ABOUT THE PANEL DISCUSSION:
Nuclear energy will emerge either as a solution to the twin crises of global warming and a secure energy supply, or global catastrophe. Within this panel at least, there doesn’t seem to be a comfortable middle ground.

MIT’s Andrew Kadak, one of the two speakers arguing the necessity of nuclear energy, advances the policy recommendations formulated by a group of fellow researchers. Given the fact of global warming, we must admit a “second inconvenient truth,” says Kadak -- that all non-CO2 emitting energy sources must be used, and to make a real difference in the near term, we must turn first and foremost to nuclear energy and conservation.

Right now, 20% of U.S. electricity flows from nuclear power stations, but there have been no new orders for plants since 1975. The current administration hopes to spur interest, through its Energy Policy Act of 2005, which sets up tax credits for building new power plants. With the help of sophisticated new plant designs and an activated Yucca Mountain repository for spent fuel -- all potentially coming together in the next few years -- Kadak believes utilities and investors will accept the high costs of construction. This will be more likely if government puts in place a carbon tax, which will make fossil fuel costs higher, eventually evening the playing field for nuclear power.
Professor Kadak's presentation is called "A Second Inconvenient Truth". Also on the video are Victor Reis and Allison Mcfarlane.

Thanks to Paul Kedrosky for the pointer.

IBD: Make Nuclear Part of Comprehensive Energy Policy

Investor's Business Daily is calling for a comprehensive national energy policy that must include nuclear energy:

The White House also should be taking the argument for increased nuclear power to Congress and the public. Atomic energy now provides nearly 20% of our electricity needs, but that's far less than what it could be delivering. Nuclear power accounts for about 80% of France's electricity, 55% of Belgium's, half of Sweden's and 40% of Switzerland's and South Korea's. Why are we behind?

Atomic energy makes sense. It is efficient. It takes only 0.0007 of a pound of uranium in a commercial reactor to burn a 100-watt light bulb for one year. That same bulb would require 876 pounds of coal or 508 pounds of oil to get the same results, the Nuclear Energy Institute says.

And it is clean. There are no harmful emissions created when nuclear material produces power. Unlike plants fueled by fossil fuels, nuclear plants don't blow smoke when making electricity.

To their credit, some environmentalists have come around to conceding that atomic energy is clean and support, for environmental reasons, the development of more U.S. plants.

But resistance remains. Much of the blame for the weak effort in the U.S. to take advantage of nuclear power should be placed on eco-Luddites still gripped by a paralyzing fear of nuclear power.

None of them, however, can point to a single death in any of those countries that resulted from a nuclear power accident. Yes, 47 died in the former Soviet Union in the 1986 Chernobyl incident. But that was a product of wretched Soviet engineering, not proof that nuclear power is by its nature dangerous.

Crunching the Numbers on Nuclear Construction and CO2

For a while now we've been seeing desperate anti-nukes making the ridiculous charge that nuclear energy contributes to greenhouse gas emissions once you add in the emissions from construction, mining and processing uranium -- this despite the fact that plenty of studies from third parties have found just the opposite.

Today, U.K.-based engineer Tim Jervis decided to crunch the numbers himself when it comes to construction, and he isn't impressed with the anti-nuke claims:

Let's be harsh again and pick 3 tonnes of CO2 for a tonne of steel. So we have another 200,000 tonnes of CO2 from the steel, or 200 million kg of CO2 from the steel to make a 1 GW nuclear power station.

Sum the steel and concrete CO2 figures: 300 million kg of CO2. If we had been conservative, that would have been 100 million kg CO2.

Energy from a 1 GW nuclear power station

If the power station produces power for a conservative 40 years, and runs for a pathetic 60% of the time (thus we're allowing for maintenance periods), the plant will deliver 210,000 million kWh of electricity.

The ratio is nearly zero

The simple ratio is 300,000,000 kg CO2 / 210,000,000,000 kWh - nearly 0.001 kg CO2 / kWh. Irrelevant.
As we've mentioned before, when it comes to many of the claim made by anti-nukes, it's a lot like dealing with the Wizard of Oz. Once you get too close, there really isn't any there there at all.

Senator Coleman on Nuclear Energy

In a speech in Minnesota yesterday about national energy policy, Senator Norm Coleman had an interesting way of selling Americans on the benefits of nuclear energy. Smart Politics reports:

Coleman says nuclear energy will need to be a part of the U.S. becoming less dependent on foreign oil. His best line of the morning: "The French aren't braver than us, and they're not afraid of nuclear energy." Coleman says he was a firm believer in Yucca Mountain as a means to dispose of nuclear waste - a problem, the Senator recognizes, as the Majority Leader (Harry Reid) of the Senate hails from Nevada.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Rep. Dingell at the Detroit Economic Club

Earlier today, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) gave a speech at the Detroit Economic Club entitled, "Strengthening Our Economy & Protecting Our Environment: An Update from Capitol Hill". The Wall Street Journal reports:

At a Detroit Economic Club luncheon, Mr. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he is determined to craft an economy-wide "cap-and-trade" policy to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and that it is time to ask whether the federal mileage regime, known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, "does, will or can do the job it was meant to address."

Instead of focusing on CAFE, Mr. Dingell in his prepared remarks proposed crafting legislation that spreads the emissions-regulation burden "evenly and equally," among several industries, including oil companies and electric utilities.
Standing by on a transcript from Rep. Dingell's office. Meanwhile, back in Washington...

Earlier this year at the same podium, DTE Energy President and CEO Tony Earley gave a speech on the future of nuclear energy.

Texas Business for Clean Air -- And Clean Air Energy

I was kicking around the Web this morning when I came across the Web site for Texas Business for Clean Air. When you take a look inside their Executive Summary, you see a lot of support for clean air energy:

Any future power plants beyond this should use newer and cleaner technologies such as IGCC (gasified coal), nuclear power and renewable sources, such as wind and solar power.

[...]

We support nuclear power as a clean, safe alternative for generating base loadpower. While we take no position on the Texas Pacific/KKR/TXU deal, we commend TXU for ordering nuclear power plant equipment and starting to prepare for the next generation of nuclear power.
Looks like it's worth a bookmark.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Energy Policy

At a speech last week at the Greater Houston Partnership, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg laid out his vision for a national energy policy, and had some interesting things to say about nuclear energy:

“In New York, we are pursuing every option to produce more clean power. We have begun working with the local utilities and private energy developers to expand the amount of clean energy that is generated and distributed, and our plan for 2030 includes new incentives for the production of renewable energy. We’re also committed to protecting existing clean energy sources, including the nuclear plant that helps power parts of our city and suburbs. This is a good example of people not facing reality.

“There are a lot of people who want to shut down the nuclear plant, but they have never offered any realistic alternatives – even as they at the same time want to fight global warming. You just can’t have it both ways!
Of course, the nuclear plant he's talking about is Indian Point, and as for the folks who aren't facing up to reality, I'll let you decided who they are.

Ok, I'll give you one hint.

For the best coverage of what's going on at Indian Point, visit John Wheeler.

AREVA CEO to French Cabinet?

The blog of the German Marshall Fund is reporting that representatives of newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy have approached AREVA CEO Anne Lauvergeon about a cabinet post.

For a post from last week concerning Sarkozy's position on nuclear energy, click here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Patrick Moore Bumped from Real Time

Just got the follwing note from one of my superiors at NEI.

"Real Time" has undergone some guest changes in the true fashion of the show's name and Patrick Moore is no longer on tonight's lineup. We will endeavor to reschedule his appearance before the end of this season's shows.
Bummer, but that's show biz.

Switkowski: Nuclear Power in Australia in 20 Years

From the Herald-Sun (Australia):

VICTORIA will have its first nuclear power station in 20 years, the head of the Federal Government's nuclear taskforce has predicted.

Dr Ziggy Switkowski said eight nuclear power stations would be built in the state by the middle of the century.

But Dr Switkowski said he believed a framework for carbon emissions trading would come first from the debate over climate change.

"I think the decision to go nuclear can be made in the next few years and then you add 15 before you see the first reactors," he said yesterday.

John McCain on Energy Policy

From Newsmax:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Wednesday that America's current energy policy needs revamping with more focus placed on alternative forms of energy.

"We need to increase our technology of hybrid cars," McCain told reporters after a campaign stop at a restaurant in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth. "We need to increase our use of ethanol and all kinds of alternative fuels, and we need to go back to nuclear power."
For previous posts on Senator McCain from our archives, click here.

Wisconsin Committee Votes to End State's Nuclear Construction Moratorium

The reports I'm seeing now are sketchy and incomplete, but taken together the news is pretty clear: A special committee of the Wisconsin State Legislature created to study legislation that would end the state's 1983 nuclear construction moratorium has voted to recommend lifting the ban.

Here's a clip from BusinessNorth.com:

Greenhouse gas emissions from coal and oil fired power plants have people like liberal Democratic Representative Frank Boyle of Superior switching sides in favor of nuclear power. "If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be here advocating for the lifting of the ban on nuclear construction, I'd say you were crazy." Boyle says the danger of climate change has future generations facing catastrophe.

"The time has some for nuclear proliferation in terms of energy plants versus continuing to fire up those generators with coal and gas and oil and produce a climatic effect of carbon loading the upper atmosphere that could ultimately kill us and destroy the earth."

[...]

Today, a committee narrowly voted to lift the restrictions on a party line vote with only one Democrat voting for the lifting. The measure may go to the full Assembly next.
More evidence, the local Green Party of Wisconsin has issued a press release condemning the vote.

I'm making some phone calls. Back in a bit. In the meantime, more discussion from We Support Lee and Atomic Insights.

UPDATE: I had a brief phone call with David Lovell, a staff person at the Wisconsin Legislative Council who had some additional details. The final vote in the committee was 12-9 in favor, with one member absent. That means that the bill now goes to the full assembly with the special committee on nuclear power named as its sponsor. Thanks to David for taking the time to speak with me.

NEI Energy Markets Report (April 30th - May 4th)

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

Electricity price changes were mixed last week (see pages 1 & 2).

Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub $0.17 to $7.60 / MMBtu (see page 4).

SO2 allowance offer prices have been increasing over the past four weeks to $540.00 / ton (see page 7).

According to EIA’s STEO, preliminary estimates show that February residential electricity consumption was nearly 17 percent higher than in the same month last year due to colder temperatures. However, an assumed return to normal summer temperatures should keep total U.S. electricity consumption growing at a relatively normal rate of 1.5 percent this year and 1.9 percent in 2008.

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

Thursday, May 10, 2007

State Senate Approves Vermont Yankee Tax

The new tax increase on Vermont Yankee that we wrote about earlier this week passed the state senate:

Without a word of debate or even a roll call, the Senate voted Wednesday for a bill designed to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy, along with an increase in the state's tax on Vermont Yankee to pay for it.

The tax on Vermont Yankee's electric generation would claim $25 million from the nuclear power plant's owner, Entergy Corp., between 2009 and 2012. The House is expected to vote on the bill Friday, when it's likely to face debate.

Though the tax is significantly less than a $37 million profits tax the Senate previously proposed, the company and the governor remain opposed to it.

"This is still a case of a deal not being a deal," Entergy spokesman Brian Cosgrove said. "How do we know what's next?"

David O'Brien, commissioner of the state Department of Public Service, called the tax "irresponsible," and said it would hurt utility companies' negotiations for electric rates with Entergy if the nuclear power plant is relicensed in 2012.

O'Brien wouldn't say whether that means Gov. Jim Douglas would veto the bill, but he said the governor's opposition is strong.
That's good news.

Patrick Moore to Appear on HBO's Real Time

Two weeks ago Sheryl Crow and Laurie David got their chance to take a free shot at nuclear energy on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, but tomorrow night one of nuclear energy's most articulate advocates is going to get a chance to fire back: I'm talking about Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, who will be a guest via satellite on tomorrow night's program.

Real Time airs live Friday nights at 11:00 p.m. EDT on HBO. For a full schedule including re-air dates, click here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

DOE Announces New GNEP Grant

From DOE (not yet online):

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Secretary Clay Sell today announced that DOE will provide up to $60 million, over two years (FY’07-’08), to engage industry experts in the conceptual design of the initial nuclear fuel recycling center and advanced recycling reactor as part of President Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). Studies from this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will include scope, schedule and cost information of the proposed facilities and will also identify technological needs that will be used to inform, and effectively and efficiently implement GNEP’s Research & Development (R&D) activities.

“Nuclear energy is a safe, environmentally sensitive, and affordable way to meet the world’s growing need for baseload electricity. By further engaging engineering and design experts in the nuclear industry, we can spur radical development of new nuclear recycling technologies that are more proliferation-resistant and economically attractive,” Deputy Secretary Sell said.

U.S. Uranium Sales Down

Details from UPI.

Duke Energy Working to Make Way for New Nuclear

In a conference call detailing Duke Energy's latest quarterly performance, CEO Jim Rogers talked about some of the activities the company is undertaking in conjunction with plans for new nuclear build:

Rogers said he's pushing for new N.C. legislation to allow the company to recoup financing costs from nuclear plant construction before a project is completed. Current N.C. law allows for costs to be passed onto consumers only after power plants are up and running.

A new law would allow the company to stay financially fit during the construction process for the expensive twin reactors, estimated to cost up to $3 billion each, Rogers said.

He cited a new study from the Electric Power Research Institute in California, the research arm for the electric power industry.

The study concludes the country needs about 58 new nuclear reactors by 2030 to meet growing electricity demand.

"There are a set of things that are not totally in our control but critical to our long-term success," Rogers said of the company's future financial performance. "We need to get the right legislative package in place in the states where we operate. ... That's the challenge we have in front of us."
For more details when it comes to Duke's plans for conservation, click here.

More Support for New Nuclear at North Anna

From the Daily Press (Hamptom Roads):

A growing Virginia is demanding more electricity, and nuclear plants are a reasonable way to provide the power. And it's better that that juice should come from in-state than that Virginia should depend on out-of-state sources that may be less reliable or efficient than Dominion. Additional generation capacity at home will reduce the nation's reliance on imported natural gas.

And anything that will reduce Virginia's reliance on dirty, noxious, coal-fired plants to meet its power needs is a blessing.

The Guys Who Get it Done at San Onofre

Today's Orange County Register is taking a look at a refueling outage at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

What's different about this profile is that the reporter actually took the time to talk to a pair of employees at the plant:

Bob Ashe-Everest is a supervising engineer in the Nuclear Fuel Services group. Randall Granaas is a refueling engineer. For those months, Bob takes the day shift. Randall works at night. It's imperative that someone from their group be on hand as the delicate dance – offloading spent fuel, uploading fresh fuel – unfolds.

[...]

Ashe-Everest has worked at San Onofre for 31 years. Married, two kids, lives in Laguna Hills, is on the city traffic commission. Likes to go boating. Is team captain for the Orange County-to-San Diego bike race that benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Is handy under the hood of a car.

Granaas has worked here for 16 years. Married, lives in Dana Point, joined the Navy with the express desire of becoming a nuclear engineer. Loves to travel. Is planning a trip to China. Very handy with computers. He and Ashe-Everest have a mutual aid agreement: Ashe-Everest helps Granaas fix his cars, and Granaas helps Ashe-Everest with his home computer headaches.

Nuclear power is not a mystery to them, not an enigma, not a boogeyman. It's what they do.
Sounds a lot like the folks in NEI's Nuc Gen group that I work with every day. I wish more people could get a chance to get to know nuclear workers like Ashe-Everest and Granaas, and understand the kind of skill and dedication they bring to the job.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Sarkozy Letter to EFN

With the French presidential election over, the task of governing is now on the shoulders of the newly-elected President, Nicolas Sarkozy. And when it comes to energy security, it seems as if he appreciates the role nuclear energy plays both in France and around the world.

Why do I say that? Back in April 2006, Bruno Comby, President of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy, sent a questionnaire to all 12 candidates for President, and the most positive response was received back from the Sarkozy campaign.

The following is an excerpt from an English translation of the response that Sarkozy's campaign sent to EFN:

I am perfectly aware of the fact that renewable energies, in their present state of development, cannot seriously hope to replace nuclear energy.

[...]

We should obviously continue to support the development of renewable energies; but at least for the medium term they will be nothing more than a rather small contribution to our energy supply. And I can not accept the idea of replacing nuclear power stations by coal or gas. Let me repeat that my priority is to counter climate change.

More exactly, you are asking me the orientations of the energy policy which I would like to see implemented. Let me give you a precise answer.

You know that nuclear energy provides 80% of the electricity in France. That largely explains why France emits 18% less greenhouse gas per inhabitant than the average of the European Union countries. If our nuclear power plants were to be replaced tomorrow by coal plants, our greenhouse gas emissions would rise by 25%.
Renewable energies are one solution, but they would not be able to satisfy the entire energy needs of France. We must keep all our options open for replacing our present fleet of nuclear power plants starting about 2015, beginning with the construction of the EPR to come on line in 2012. In terms of safety (prevention of accidents) and for the protection of the environment against waste, it is my position that the EPR reactor represents a great step forward.

It is clear that we must at the same time reassure all our citizens who expect to be better informed about the disposal of nuclear waste and more closely associated with decisions concerning nuclear waste. I propose therefore to create an independent agency which would guarantee that nuclear energy is properly dealt with. This agency would have a "freedom of information" mission, sorting out those documents which can be communicated to the citizens from those which cannot, for obvious reasons of national security.

In any event, taking in consideration the many benefits of this source of energy, I do not contemplate any rapid abandonment of nuclear power. I cannot forget that nuclear energy contributes in a decisive manner to the three objectives of our energy policy as defined in the French law: to guarantee national independence in energy and the security of supply; to take action against the greenhouse effect; and to make sure that the price of electricity remains competitive and stable.

Now to answer your questions about the development of civilian nuclear power world-wide, I am favorable to this development, with the obvious rule that we collaborate only with democratic governments and under strictly administered conditions. This kind of partnership backed by the strength of the French nuclear industry implies to maintain the leadership in this domain of our French nuclear constructor (AREVA) and our French nuclear utility (EDF). The construction of the first EPR reactor will help us keep our leadership.
For the full text of the questionnaire and the responses in French, click here.

Nuclear Idea Advances in Alberta Oil Sands

Following up on a story from last week, local ruling party officials in Alberta have endorsed the studying the idea of using nuclear energy to help extract oil from the province's oilsands region.

Details from the CBC. For more, visit Oil Week.

Romanian CANDU Ready to Go Online

Details here.

Congress Pushing for Nuclear Surface Ships?

From Defense News:

The prospect of the U.S. Navy once again using nuclear energy to propel its larger surface warships edged a bit closer to reality May 3 with a push from a powerful congressional subcommittee.

“We are requiring that new classes of major surface combatants are designed and constructed with integrated nuclear power systems,” Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., chairman of the House Armed Services seapower subcommittee, said during the panel’s markup of the 2008 defense authorization bill.

Taylor’s predecessor as chairman, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., echoed the call.
“Nuclear propulsion is simply the right thing to do,” said Bartlett, now the panel’s ranking minority member.

Both lawmakers have strongly supported nuclear power as a means to reduce the military’s dependence on oil for fuel. At their request, the Navy produced a study on the viability of re-introducing nuclear power into surface ships — a capability the service stopped buying in the mid-1970s.

Most observers expected the Navy study to repeat the assertions made since those years — that the dramatically higher cost of buying nuclear-propelled surface ships outweighed tactical advantages.

But appearing before the committee March 1, Delores Etter, the Navy’s top acquisition official, surprised onlookers with her testimony that the high cost of oil is making the nuclear option more economically viable — at least for some ships.
Interesting.

Show 'Em It's Not a Knee-Jerk

Last Thursday, Eric reported on the nuclear debate in Canada, but he missed what I thought was the most interesting part of the article.

The reporter said that there is a ...

[N]uance creeping into the language of some environmentalists who are still far from sold on nuclear power. Even David Suzuki, the public face and living patron saint of the Canadian green movement, has raised eyebrows by declaring in at least two broadcast interviews that he doesn't take a "knee-jerk" position against nuclear energy, although he remains, for now at least, firmly opposed.

In an email exchange with Maclean's, Suzuki explained his position.

"I don't say unequivocally that nuclear is not an option. It may very well be sometime in the future," he wrote. "But right now, I think it's nuts to even suggest nuclear.
It seems that I have heard a lot of similar talk south of the border. Antis want to appear to be open to reason. But to say that "it's nuts to even suggest nuclear" rather spoils the effect.

So here is some advice to anti-nukes. If you want to show people how open you are to reason, tell them about the splendid safety record of nuclear power plants, about how small the related carbon emissions are, how the radiation workers in the plants are healthier than the population as a whole, and how the volume of spent fuel is so small that power plants can (and do!) keep decades worth on site.

Mention that some countries recycle the fuel. And, of course, be sure to mention the low-cost, reliable electric power. If you do that, people will know that your opposition is not a knee-jerk reaction. Then leave your comments here so everyone will know how your message is received.

I'll be waiting.

Bruce Power and OPG File for Up to Eight New Reactors

From the Globe and Mail:

The two companies that operate nuclear power plants in Ontario are seeking the green light to build up to eight new reactors, a far more ambitious plan than that touted by the McGuinty government.

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said last year that a large portion of the $40-billion it plans to spend addressing the province's looming electricity shortage would be earmarked for refurbishing existing nuclear reactors. He said only two new reactors would be built.

However, Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation have each applied to Canada's nuclear safety regulator to build four new reactors. Company officials played down their expansion plans, saying they merely give them the option of building new reactors or refurbishing existing ones.

But the spectre of up to eight new reactors is fuelling concerns among nuclear-energy opponents that the province will be much more dependent on nuclear power than previously believed.
Interesting. As always, this is something to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, other areas of the province dealing with the prospect of job losses if Ontario goes ahead with plans to shut down a number of coal-fired plants, are making plans to try to attract new plants. From the Toronto Star:
The McGuinty government is determined to close all coal plants in the province, including the massive Nanticoke Generating Station that employs 600 workers in the area. Surrounding communities, fearful of more job loss, are cautiously exploring their options as a 2014 shutdown deadline approaches.

Desperate, they keep coming back to one controversial word: nuclear.

"There's a lot to consider," says Bernie Solymar, one of more than 300 locals who packed a community centre in Port Dover recently for a nuclear "information" session. "I don't think the community has had time to form an opinion."
One thing is for sure: You can't shut down baseload generation and expect to replace it with a non-baseload generation source.

Germany to Increase Nuclear Research Spending, Local Media Puzzled

From Der Spiegel:

The fact that the German government renounced nuclear energy in 2000 and pledged to take its last plant off the grid by 2020 might lead you to think that it would scale back its nuclear research programs. What, after all, is the point in spending money on developing a technology which is on its way out? However, the current administration seems reluctant to give up nuclear quite yet -- at least not totally.

German Research Minister Annette Schavan raised eyebrows this week with her announcement to DER SPIEGEL that she would increase research spending between 2008 and 2011 by up to €40 million. Most of the money has been earmarked for young researchers working on nuclear waste storage and nuclear security issues.

[...]

Meanwhile, over at the Green Party -- which governed together with the Chancellor Gerhard Schröder when parliament approved the phaseout -- party boss Reinhard Bütikofer said he viewed the plan as an open provocation. "Each euro which is spent on dead-end nuclear technologies is an irresponsible waste of money," he said, arguing that research into renewable energies should be expanded instead.
German Prime Minister Angela Merkel has been playing an interesting game on nuclear energy ever since her party came to power. She's an open supporter of nuclear energy, but doesn't have a lot of wiggle room because she's stuck in a coalition government with Socialists who are committed to maintaining the scheduled nuclear phase-out.

But while she doesn't have a lot of wiggle room, she does have some, and prudent spending like the program outlined above is just one example. As we've noted before, the second the coalition dissolves and Merkel's party is able to take power in its own right, the nuclear phase-out will be history.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Duke Energy Buys Southern Company Out of Lee Nuclear Power Project

Just off the wire:

Duke Energy announced today that, subject to board approval, it intends to purchase Southern Company’s 500-megawatt interest in the proposed William States Lee III nuclear power project, making the plant’s total output available to electric customers in the Carolinas.

Demand in Duke Energy Carolinas’ service area is projected to grow by more than 6,000 megawatts by 2021. The two-unit Lee Nuclear plant proposed for Cherokee County, S.C., could come into service by 2016 with a capacity of more than 2,200 megawatts. Under a joint ownership agreement signed with Southern Company last March, the Atlanta-based company would have been entitled to 500 megawatts of the plant’s output.

Southern Company said it is withdrawing from the Lee Nuclear project to explore and focus on energy options within its service territory, including the two proposed new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Ga. Duke Energy management will recommend to the company’s board of directors at its May 10 meeting that Duke proceed with the plant without Southern Company’s participation.

“Lee Nuclear is an important part of our strategy for meeting growing demand,” said Ellen Ruff, president, Duke Energy Carolinas. “Having its entire output available will be a benefit for electric customers in the Carolinas.”

Taxing Behavior Around Vermont Yankee

Some folks in Vermont want to raise taxes on Vermont Yankee to help pay for a "clean energy" fund. Considering that the state is already running a budget surplus, Vermonter Cool Blue has other ideas:

[Th]e owners of the Vermont Yankee power plant already contributes $2.5 million a year into the state's Clean Energy Development Fund.

So what does the Legislature want to do with this obvious good Green neighbor? Why, tax it more, of course.

In the name of Global Warming.

So they can buy buses.

Which pollute the air and spew greehouse gases.

Make sense to you?
I'll leave that up to my readers.

Anti-Nukes Rallying in Wisconsin

With the word out that some in the state would like to lift the moratorium on new nuclear build, the old line anti-nuke groups are planning some trouble.

Does it Make Sense to Oppose Nuclear Power?

That's the question that one progressive activist at The Irregular Times is asking:

Considering the current climate crisis, it seems clear to me that now is not a good time for shutting down the nuclear power industry. It seems to me that effort needs to be focused on reducing the role of fossil fuels and other carbon emitting sources of energy.
Wow, that's not the sort of conclusion I'd expect out of a blog like that one -- but as we've seen before, these are interesting times.

Our new friend at The Irregular Times says he's keeping an open mind on the issue, so stop by and invite him to join a conversation with us. As always, please be polite.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Gore vs. Schwarzenegger

Slate is asking the question: Who is a better spokesman for the environmental movement, former Vice President Al Gore or California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger?

The answer may surprise you.

Asian Development Bank May End Nuclear Opposition

From the AP:

The Asian Development Bank may end its long-standing rejection of nuclear energy and embrace it as a green power source for rapidly expanding Asia, the bank's energy chief said Friday.

The ADB, which was founded four decades ago to fight poverty through economic growth, has a standing policy of not advocating atomic power out of concerns of safety and possible conversion to weapons use.

But under increased pressure to promote alternatives to the fossil fuels that fan global warming, the ADB is considering the use of nuclear power under a new energy policy to be adopted in three months, WooChong Um, ADB director of energy, told The Associated Press in an interview at the ADB's annual meeting.

"Now we have an environment were a lot of climate change issues are becoming a significant and nuclear power is quite positive in that context," Um said. "So we are actually debating it internally."
Interesting, especially as much of the world's most recent experience in building new plants has been in Asia.

Double-Checking The Nuclear Numbers in France

They had a presidential debate in France last night, and the moderator asked the two candidates how much of France's electricity was generated by nuclear power:

Both candidates stumbled on the question of nuclear power. [Nicolas] Sarkozy, 52, said nuclear plants produce 50 percent of the country's electricity. [Segolene] Royal put the number at 17 percent. Last year, 78 percent of French power production was nuclear, according to the industry ministry. Nuclear accounts for about 17 percent of total energy consumption.
For more on the French nuclear program, click here.

PBMR May Remain as Eskom Sub

Details from All Africa.com.

IPCC Releases Summary for Policymakers

Click here for one of the documents we've been waiting on out of Bangkok.

Thanks to We Support Lee for the pointers.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

One visit to a plant was enough to convince Peter Chow.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

From the IPCC in Bangkok: Expand Nuclear to Help Fight Climate Change

From the New York Times:

The world’s established and emerging powers will need to divert substantially from today’s main energy sources within a few decades to limit centuries of rising temperatures and seas driven by the buildup of heat-trapping emissions in the air, the top body studying climate change is poised to conclude.

In an all-night session capping four days of talks, economists, scientists, and government officials from more than 100 countries agreed in Bangkok early on Friday local time on most sections of a report outlining ways to limit such emissions, led by carbon dioxide, an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal and oil.

[...]

To stop the rise, the report’s authors said, countries would need to expand adoption of existing policies that can cut emissions - like a fuel tax or the binding limits set by the Kyoto Protocol - while also boosting research seeking new large-scale energy options. This work would include pushing for advances in solar and nuclear power.
Look for more details later.

Atomic Rod and Adam Curry

One of the things that's been most fun about blogging in the nuclear industry has been seeing the kind of success many of my newfound colleagues are enjoying. One of those colleagues is Rod Adams, better known as "Atomic Rod" to his new BFF, ex-MTV VJ Adam Curry.

Rod earned that moniker after a couple of appearances on Curry's popular podcast, the Daily Source Code. Most recently, Adam had Rod on as a guest, and gave him plenty of time to talk about nuclear energy.

Click here (MP3) for a direct link to the show. Rod's appearance comes toward the second half of the program. And thanks to Adam for giving our industry a fair shake, something we're not quite used to as of yet.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Jeremy Raines.

Canadian PM Embraces Nuclear Energy

From Maclean's:

Stephen Harper would seem an unlikely pitchman for nuclear power. When the Prime Minister launches into his familiar spiel about Canada as an emerging "energy superpower," we all think we know what he's talking about - he's an Alberta MP, after all, and his father worked for Imperial Oil. Yet in a key speech last summer in London, his most gleeful boast was not about record oil profits, but about soaring uranium prices. "There aren't many hotter commodities, so to speak, in the resource markets these days," Harper joked to the Canada-U.K. Chamber of Commerce crowd. Then, noting that Britain is among those countries poised to begin buying new reactors for the first time in decades, he added: "We'll hope you remember that Canada is not just a source of uranium; we also manufacture state-of-the-art CANDU reactor technology, and we're world leaders in safe management of fuel waste."

Louisiana Adopts CWIP

Details from We Support Lee.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Make another visit to Noblesse Oblige.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Duke CEO Rogers: Without Nuclear, Congress Won't Reach Climate Change Goals

From the Charlotte Observer:

Duke Energy Corp. Chief Executive Jim Rogers said environmentalists and Congress should support nuclear energy or risk failure in battling global warming.

The strident talk from Rogers, one of the first utility executives to call for regulating carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources, comes as Duke plans a nuclear project in Cherokee County, S.C., estimated to cost up to $6 billion.

It also comes at a time when the Democratically controlled Congress considers how to tax or otherwise regulate industrial carbon dioxide emissions.

Coal-fired power plants are a major source of carbon dioxide, blamed by climate scientists as a cause of global warming, which threatens to melt polar ice and cause flooding, among other environmental disasters.

Nuclear energy, on the other hand, has zero emissions, and the President Bush-backed Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides financial incentives for utilities to start building plants again. But where to store nuclear waste for the long term is unresolved and has been a sticking point in Congress for years.
Rogers has been ahead of the curve on this issue for some time now. For a look back in our archives, click here.

GE Nuclear Wins Deal With Dominion

From the Wilmington Star:

GE Energy's nuclear division announced a deal Tuesday to build parts of the core infrastructure of a new nuclear plant tentatively planned for Virginia.

Terms of the deal with Dominion Resources were kept secret. But Andy White, head of GE Nuclear, said the agreement was a boon for its Wilmington headquarters, where much of the design, engineering, procurement and budgeting for the project would be done.

"This is great for Wilmington," White said.
Congrats to everyone involved. Just another step in the process on the way to the next new nuclear power plant.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Looking Back at Seabrook

We Support Lee takes a look back 30 years at the protest at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant:

The Seabrook facility now provides 1,244 MW of emissions-free electricity for New England. It is now owned by FPL, which is Fortune's Most Admired Electric Utility. FPL is a leader in addressing climate change through emissions reduction. FPL participates in the community and with education, doing such things as training Texas students in wind turbine technology.
Pretty good record if you ask me.