Over the past several months, I'm sure many of you have noticed that posting on the blog has become, well, a little more "bursty" than it had been historically. The reasons for that are pretty simple, as I've been deeply involved in the redesign of NEI's public Web site for a number of months now.
It's been an arduous process at times, but now the we're looking to launch the brand new site at the end of July. While it may be a number of weeks before the site goes live, I'm happy to give our readers a sneak peak of what's coming next. Again, click the image in order to enlarge it:
As you can see, the new site is quite an upgrade over the current one when it comes to design. But the changes didn't end there, as we re-wrote mounds of content, and reorganized hosts of links into a structure that was easier to understand and a whiz to navigate.
As we get closer to the actual launch date, I'll be sharing more details of what's to come next. I hope you'll be pleased with the result.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Over the past several months, I'm sure many of you have noticed that posting on the blog has become, well, a little more "bursty" than it had been historically. The reasons for that are pretty simple, as I've been deeply involved in the redesign of NEI's public Web site for a number of months now.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
From the Houston Chronicle:
Exelon Nuclear has picked two possible sites for for a proposed nuclear plant both located southwest of the Houston area.UPDATE: Our friends at Exelon have shared a map of the designated sites with us. Click the image to enlarge:
Illinois-based Exelon, which operates the largest number of nuclear plants in the country, is considering building a plant in Matagorda County or Victoria County.
If it goes forward the primary site is a 1,250-acre tract about 10 miles south of Collegeport in Matagorda County. The secondary site covers 11,500 acres about 20 miles south of Victoria in Victoria County.
Matagorda County is already home to the The South Texas Project, near Bay City. The owners of that plant is seeking to build two new reactors.
The proposed sites are needed to seek a permit allowing the company to build and operate a plant, should it go decide to build one.
Exelon said it expects to submit the application to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in November of 2008.
A Czech pro-nuclear group turns the tables on their anti-nuke counterparts in Austria:
The members of Start Zwentendorf, a freshly minted Czech nuclear power advocacy group, are on a bold mission. “We call for the immediate launch of Zwentendorf nuclear power plant,” the group’s Web site proclaims. “Austria’s populist, alibistic, unecological politics must stop.”I think an international public affairs award is in order. To see their site, click here. Thanks to Rod Adams for the pointer.
Zwentendorf, Austria’s only nuclear power plant, has been inactive since its completion in 1978, when Austrians decided in a public referendum they would prefer not to launch it.
Start Zwentendorf (SZ), an open-source community that operates through an online wiki site and has no organizational hierarchy, claims to be a partner organization of Austria’s Stop Temelín, an anti-nuclear group. The latter has for years been a vocal opponent of the Czech Republic’s Temelín nuclear power plant, organizing border blockade demonstrations to protests a perceived lack of safety measures.
SZ says the inactive Zwentendorf is more harmful to the environment than Temelín since it means Austria must generate its electricity from other, less ecological sources, such as coal-burning power plants.
Lithuania's parliament adopted a law on Thursday on building a new nuclear power plant, the formal start of a project that is expected to involve Baltic neighbours Estonia and Latvia as well as Poland.
The 3,000-3,500 megawatt plant, to replace the ageing Soviet-era Ignalina nuclear reactor, which has to be shut down under a deal with the European Union, is expected to be built by 2015.
One goal is to strengthen the region's energy independence from Russia.
"Lithuania has made a strategic step, which will enhance our energy independence and strengthen our cooperation with partners in the region," Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas told parliament after the vote.
"We very much feel that nuclear has to be a significant part of the energy mix. If one is truly serious about global warming, it is the only carbon-free alternative we have right now,".That's Container Store founder Garrett Boone, one of the founders of Texas Business for Clean Air.
Thanks to We Support Lee for the pointer.
From today's edition of Electric Power Daily (no link):
EPRI estimates that a 500-MW solar plant would cost about $1.5 billion, or $3,000/kW, Bedard said. A just-built 64-MW solar plant in Nevada cost about $4,000/kW, he said. Nevada Power is buying the output from the Nevada Solar One project.That's a serious chunk of change.
EPRI has had little involvement with solar power in the last decade, Bedard said. But climate change and renewable portfolio standards have renewed utility interest in the technology.
Currently, electricity from a CSP plant costs about 16 cents/kWh, compared with 7 cents/kWh for wind and 5.5 cents/kWh for coal, he said.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
In conjunction with the release of its World Energy Review, BP has also released an energy charting tool and conversion calculator that allow you to manipulate the data in some very interesting ways.
I played with it to create this chart about U.S. consumption of nuclear energy between 1965 and 2006:
Kudos to BP for doing such a great job. Applications like these really help advance public understanding of energy issues. And it doesn't hurt that they're fun to use too. Dive in, there's no reason for me to have all the fun.
Back in April, David Bradish posted an extensive debunking of a Council of Foreign Relations report on nuclear energy. Now, the author of that same report, Charles Ferguson, is back with another article in the pages of Foreign Policy magazine. But this time, our friend Rod Adams is stepping in to do the debunking:
As is often the case with anti-nuclear arguments, there are some elements of truth to the above litany, but my response as a problem solver is to think and act on ways to overcome as many of the obstacles as possible. Fortunately, many of them are imposed by humans, so they can be solved by humans. It seems to me that it is easier to solve a problem like excessive licensing delays or lack of a sufficient skilled work force than it is to solve the basic physics, chemistry, supply or weather related shortcomings of other energy sources.Read the rest right now.
Nothing I can imagine any humans doing is going to make the wind reliable, the sun shine at night or through clouds, crops grow in winter or reduce the fundamental challenges of finding enough oil fast enough in a world where about half of all available oil has been consumed. Though there is easy talk about carbon sequestration, the fundamental challenge of separating, transporting and storing tens of billions of tons of a gaseous waste product each year seem pretty mind boggling.
Here's a twist in the usual Atomic Show podcast: Instead of being the host, this time our friend Rod Adams is the guest on his own show, with the hosting duties falling to Daily Kos diarist, N Nadir.
What's the occasion? Rod is talking about his baby, the Adams Atomic Engine. Give it a listen.
POSTSCRIPT: And speaking of N Nadir, he's been on something of a roll lately over at Daily Kos. Click here for his diary. You'll be glad you did.
Over the past day or so, I've been engaged in a conversation with the blogger who runs The Cost of Energy. He's been very gracious, so I urge you to stop by and join in the debate. As always, I ask you to be polite while you're a guest over there.
With U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair leaving office today, I couldn't help but notice the following passage from a blog written by a Labor Party supporter from the U.K. about the political left and nuclear energy:
It is the duty of the left to protect the livelihoods and interests working people whether it be jobs at the local level or combating climate change on the world stage. Therefore the left must endorse nuclear power as the only sensible way forward whilst striving for increased investment in renewable energy.Interesting.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The lives of Britain's nuclear power stations must be extended where possible to meet the country's needs for CO2-free power, the chief executive of British Energy said on Tuesday.Sounds like an idea that should gain traction elsewhere in Europe. For more discussion, click here.
"I think it's imperative that we maximise the stations we have," Bill Coley told Reuters on the sidelines of the Unite Nuclear New Build conference in London.
"I'm talking about extending their lives -- not just British Energy's stations, but all the stations in the UK."
For a state so concerned with controlling greenhouse gas emissions, Ruth Sponsler is wondering why California isn't doing more to roll back its moratorium on new nuclear build:
At some point, California will be stuck between a rock and a hard place as it attempts to meet emissions reductions while at the same time providing sufficient electricity to meet the needs of its residents and information economy. California still has some time to do the small and medium-sized things first. Some of California's wind farms are in the range of hundreds of megawatts.Be sure to read the rest.
But, sooner or later, that state will need need thousands of MW of emissions-free energy. That will be the time when California will be forced to choose between hanging onto its 30-year-old nuclear power construction moratorium...or
Energy Secretary Sam Bodman was in Boston yesterday to address the annual meeting of the American Nuclear Society. Here's an excerpt:
[W]e must expand access to safe and emissions-free nuclear power in a way that responsibly manages waste and dramatically reduces proliferation risks. This is a tall order. But, it can and should be done. Because - and this is a critical point - at present, nuclear power is the only mature technology that can supply large amounts of emissions-free base load power to help us meet the expected growth in demand.Read the rest right now.
Yes, there are other technologies available or under development - from wind power to biomass to clean-coal and to carbon sequestration and energy efficiency technologies - that can have a big impact on our energy security.
But, if we are talking about what is available to order right now that would have a material impact on our ability to produce homegrown, clean power, we must talk nuclear.
From the AP:
Brazil's energy council on Monday recommended the country resume construction of its third nuclear power plant.For more on Brazil's possible plans, visit World Nuclear News.
The National Energy Policy Council will send its recommendation to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will make a final decision on whether to restart work on the plant, said interim Mines and Energy Minister Nelson Hubner.
There is no timetable for Silva's decision.
Brazil currently has two operating nuclear plants, Angra 1 and Angra 2, with an installed capacity of about 2,000 megawatts. The plants are near the coastal city of Angra dos Reis.
Angra 3, located in the same region, would raise capacity to 3,300 megawatts. Work on the third plant began in 1984 but was stopped because of financing problems and concerns over security and the viability of nuclear power.
Friday, June 22, 2007
It's June, so it's time to trot out the old charge that Summer heat waves are going to shut down nuclear power plants around the world. This time, the story appeared in the Globe and Mail, so I guess I ought to link to Lisa Stiles-Shell's original rebuttal.
Then again, I wonder why we haven't seen more attention paid to the performance of wind power during California's heat wave last Summer.
GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) today submitted its ESBWR reactor design to government regulators in London to initiate the generic design assessment (GDA) process as the United Kingdom considers whether to build a new fleet of reactors to help meet its energy and emissions-reduction requirements.Good luck to the folks at GE and Hitachi. I'm sure it's a high quality application.
GEH is seeking “design acceptance confirmation” from U.K. nuclear energy regulators – the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agencies and the Office for Civil Nuclear Security – which is required before utilities can seek to build new plants based on the ESBWR in the United Kingdom. The business also has begun adding staff to its U.K. nuclear project development team.
Included in its application, GEH submitted letters of endorsement from credible nuclear power operators stating they considered the ESBWR to be a serious contender for the first projects in a U.K. initiative to replace the country’s existing fleet of nuclear power plants. GEH received letters of endorsement from Iberdrola of Spain (which recently acquired Scottish Power), RWE npower and British Energy. A fourth European-based utility has also endorsed the ESBWR.
Within two weeks, GEH expects to be notified by the U.K. regulators’ coordinating body, the Joint Programme Office, as well as the Department of Trade and Industry, on whether the ESBWR will be included in the first group of reactor designs to be assessed. If selected, the business will begin the initial step of the GDA process, which is expected to last until the start of 2008.
The entire GDA review is expected to take three-and-a-half years. This review is similar in purpose to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) design certification review of the ESBWR, which began in 2005.
With countries with around Europe beginning to think again about nuclear energy, the future is looking bright for EDF, France's national electric utility. More details from the Guardian.
From time to time, readers of NEI Nuclear Notes have urged our industry to get more confrontational with our critics in the public space. Last night up in Peterborough, Ontario, one Greenpeace volunteer, Shawn-Patrick Stensil, ran straight into a number of industry advocates who had obviously had enough:
Early into Stensil's presentation Martyn Wash, general manager of the Organization of Candu Industries, asked Stensil if he was a scientist and questioned his credibility.While something tells me the conversation was probably a bit more substantive, this is something I'd like to see more of -- much like the work my colleague Lisa Stiles-Shell did last year when Helen Caldicott embarked on her book tour.
The two got into a heated conversation during the question and answer portion of the evening, each accusing the other of providing misinformation.
"They come here and tell half-truths," Wash said, referring to Stensil and Greenpeace.
Wash told The Examiner Greenpeace bases their argument from facts and figures dating back to the ’50s and ’60s.
"Greenpeace presents a story based on falsehoods," Wash said.
It is important to have a dialogue on the future of nuclear energy, Wash said, but there needs to be balance.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
From the Huntsville Times:
President Bush, speaking at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, said the nation's energy policy "must include" the use of nuclear power and he called for the construction of new nuclear plants across the country.More later.
"It's time for our country to start building nuclear power plants again," he said. "It's one thing to restart one, and I congratulate you. It's another thing to build a new one."
At the outset of his comments, Bush thanked TVA workers for bringing in the Unit 1 reactor restart "on budget and on time." The unit was restarted on May 22 after being dormant for 22 years.
He announced his Nuclear Power 2010 initiative to remove "regulatory burdens" that might hold up the approval and construction of new nuclear power plants. TVA is looking to build a new plant at Bellefonte near Scottsboro, a nuclear plant that was never completed.
Congress sent another strong signal yesterday that the deep geologic repository planned at Yucca Mountain, Nev. is a vital component of our national used nuclear fuel management policy.
Congressman Jon Porter (R-NV), proposed an amendment that would have cut funding for the Yucca Mountain program previously approved by the House Committee on Appropriations. However, his bid to slash over $200 million from the project was met with resounding opposition.
In a sizable margin that represented large numbers of both Democrats and Republicans, the proposed amendment failed with just 80 in favor and 351 opposed.
That reflects an increase in support for the project over previous House votes regarding the used nuclear fuel repository. When the House voted to select Yucca Mountain as the site for the program in 2002, there were 306 votes in support and 117 against. Last year, another amendment which would have restricted activity at the site also failed, 271-147.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Porter said in response to the outcome, “This is proof that Yucca Mountain is alive and well.”
In a statement released by the Office of Civilian and Radioactive Waste Management, Director Ward Sproat said, “Yucca Mountain is critical to the nation’s current and future energy and national security needs.”
The Senate has not yet cast any votes this session regarding the program funding.
Posted by Trish Conrad at 3:34 PM
In today's Chico Enterprise-Record (CA), Lionel Brooks has something to say about how his home state is going about constraining greenhouse has emissions:
We may find ourselves with mandated wind power that is good as long as the wind blows, solar power that is good so long as the sun shines, and bio-power so long as the area of fertile land can be prepared and harvested.I guess Mr. Brooks must have read this post from last year.
Remember the adage, "There is no gain without pain," because that is how politicians work. The real pain-free answer is to replace aging coal-fired plants with nuclear plants. They emit no CO2. Surely the Russians, Chinese, Indians, Japanese and French can't be all that wrong in pressing ahead with nuclear. Automobiles that will need to charge batteries overnight in the garage will require a reliable and abundant supply of electric power. The day is coming when most cars will have batteries and the governor should be planning for them.
Yesterday, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) unveiled a study that makes some startling claims about the community that hosts the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant in Georgia:
The number of people dying from cancer in Burke County is on the rise, and one group says a nuclear plant may be to blame.To read the reports, click here (PDF) and here (PDF). To be sure, the conclusions sound alarming, but if you take a closer look at those reports, you'll see that they're authored by Joseph Mangano of the Radiation and Public Health Project. Here at NEI Nuclear Notes, we've been tracking Mangano since March 2005 since his claims were the subject of a feature on CNN.
A new study released by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League shows the number of people dying of cancer in Burke County has shot up 25%, while the rest of country's cancer rate was on the decline.
"If I lived in this county I'd want to know why these numbers are increasing," said Louis Zeller with Blue Ridge.
But the most startling statistic is the change in infant mortality. In Burke County the number of infant deaths increased 70% compared to the other surrounding counties in the CSRA. But even the backers of the study admit waste from other plants could be contributing to the problem.
"It's like a crime being committed, but too many suspects to find out for certain what the source of the problem might be," said Zeller.
At that time, we reminded readers that in all, eight state departments of health have investigated Mangano's claims, and all eight states (Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan) refused to validate them. Even better, here's what the New Jersey Commission on Radiation Protection had to say about Mangano's research:
The Commission is of the opinion that "Radioactive Strontium-90 in Baby Teeth of New Jersey Children and the Link with Cancer: A Special Report," is a flawed report, with substantial errors in methodology and invalid statistics. As a result, any information gathered through this project would not stand up to the scrutiny of the scientific community. There is also no evidence to support the allegation that the State of New Jersey has a problem with the release of Sr-90 into the environment from nuclear generating plants: more than 30 years of environmental monitoring data refute this.Mangano's act goes something like this: Pop around the country making outrageous claims, and get out of town before anyone has a chance to double check his work.
Here's hoping the folks in Georgia don't buy into the scare mongering. For more from our archives on Mangano, click here. And for a look at our archives on BREDL, which has a similar track record when it comes to playing fast and loose with the data, click here.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
June 15, 2007 was a big day at the National Enrichment Facility in New Mexico. From a special edition of a newsletter we received here at NEI:
This was not your normal, ordinary Friday. Today was special. A major construction milestone was reached at 11:15 a.m. with the first concrete placement for the National Enrichment Facility.Congrats to everyone at NEF for reaching an important milestone.
A small crowd gathered around the central utilities building (CUB) vault to watch the event. The CUB will be the heart of the plant. Power, from the electrical sub station, will enter the CUB vault (or cable spreading room) and be distributed throughout the plant.
It took ten concrete trucks (or approximately 100 cubic yards of concrete) for the outside wall footer of the CUB vault. A third party testing agency performed various tests for every 50 cubic yards of concrete to ensure the quality level was met or
The world must embrace nuclear power if it is to create a low carbon economy this century and beat global warming, electricity generators said on Wednesday.For more from the World Energy Council, click here. We'll have the full report once it gets posted tomorrow.
The World Energy Council (WEC) said nuclear electricity was not a panacea, and had to go hand in hand with other low carbon technologies, but it would be crucial to the energy mix.
The WEC said renewables like wind, waves, solar and hydro had a role to play but would in most cases not be deployed quickly enough to decarbonise electricity production which accounts for 41 percent of world carbon dioxide emissions.
"If we are going to get through this century we had better assure ourselves that nuclear power is available for our coming generations," said Kurt Yeager, lead author of the WEC's "Energy and Climate Change" report to be released on Thursday.
The report says climate policies globally have proved inadequate to meet the challenge of global warming and governments need to be far sighted and bold.
"The problem will not go away magically in 2050. We will be at a low carbon economy at that time but to sustain that we need to build nuclear," Yeager told Reuters.
From The Age (Australia):
CHINA has surged past the United States to become the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, beating even the most pessimistic predictions that it would take at least another year to outstrip the US.
The findings, by a Dutch environmental agency that advises the Netherlands Government, sharply raises the stakes as world leaders try to reach a climate accord — to include China and the US — to succeed the 1997 Kyoto protocol when it expires in 2012.
Australia, which is hosting the next APEC summit, has been lobbying the US and China to strike a regional deal on climate change in Sydney in September. But in its first action plan on climate change, released this month, China committed itself to improving energy efficiency but rejected mandatory emission cuts, as the US is demanding, dealing such hopes a blow.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
From the Decatur Daily:
Athens is to experience a first in its history when the nation's president visits Thursday.You'll remember back in 2005 that President Bush visited Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant.
A White House spokesman confirmed that President Bush will be in Athens at 1:15 p.m. to tour the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant and make remarks.
Limestone County archivist Philip Reyer said to his knowledge, a sitting president has never visited Athens.
Although local officials could not say if Bush initiated the visit, it is part of an effort by Bush to push long-stalled energy legislation in Congress. Bills in both the Senate and House include provisions designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Bush has said nuclear power is one of the best ways to reduce such emissions, especially the carbon dioxide most scientists believe contributes to global warming.
The restart of Unit 1 in May made Browns Ferry one of the largest nuclear plants in the country. The unit, shut down in 1985, is going through a gradual power increase and review process.
While reading my Google Alerts today, I came across a gem of a blog entitled, Understanding the Lie Of The Nuclear Cycle.
It occurs to me that there are plenty of reasons to be against just about any source of energy, be it fossil fuels (CO2), nuclear (waste), or even wind (ecological impact), solar (toxic waste), or hydro (migratory fish). But when the facts aren't sensational enough to stir up emotional opposition, the anti-(fill in the blank) need only make something up.
Take cancer rates for instance.
We've all heard the far-fetched claims of often-debunked pediatrician-turned-nuclear-expert Helen Caldicott before: Cancer rates are higher around nuclear facilities. But the questions she can never answer, even when asked face to face: If your claims are true, then why do medical studies, such as the one performed by Johns Hopkins University of over 30,000 nuclear workers, show no increase in cancer rates - even for the people who work closest with this radioactive material? Why aren't the thousands of nuclear workers who have been working in commercial nuclear power plants for the last 40 years not dropping like overripe grapefruits? And why do the people of France, where 80% of the power is provided by nuclear, have the *lowest* cancer and infant mortality rates and the longest life expectancy in all of Europe? Why is that?
Probably some French-government cover-up or Bush conspiracy, huh?
Understanding the Lie of the Anti-nukes: If the facts aren't compelling enough, just make something up.
In the latest issue, we look at the restart of Browns Ferry 1, and what it means to an industry poised for growth. To get the PDF, click here (PDF).
Most people in the United States only think about where electricity comes from when the lights go out suddenly.Then again ...
But unless the antiquated transmission grid is fixed, expensive blackouts that bring modern life to a grinding halt will become ever more common, according to "Lights Out" (Wiley, $27.95), a new book by Jason Makansi.
The average US electricity customer loses power for more than three hours annually – outages that cost the US economy about $80 billion.
That may be about to change.
America's power grid has a new cop on the beat, ready to slap stiff fines on power companies that don't meet new national standards for grid reliability. The standards become mandatory on Monday.
Reliance on voluntary guidelines and collegial cooperation among power companies is out. Fines of as much as $1 million a day are in – levied by the North American Reliability Corp. (NERC), which is freshly armed with a federal mandate.
Over at Inside Bay Area.com, Sarah Tribble has put together a nice overview of why policymakers in California are giving nuclear energy a second look. Here's a passage that made me smile:
As California grapples with global warming, energy-industry leaders, environmentalists and policy-makers are subtly — but significantly — starting to shift their thinking about the controversial power source.Here, here.
"Nuclear power has to be part of the solution," Stanford University President John Hennessy said at an alternative-energy gathering in Palo Alto this spring. "Can we really understand the notion of risk? Nuclear plants versus carbon emissions — which will kill and has killed more people?"
The audience applauded.
The editorial board at The Journal News in New York met last week with NRC licensing staff - P.T. Kuo, director of the license renewal division; Rani Franovich, licence renewal branch chief, and Bo Pham, manager for the Indian Point review. Click here for excerpts of the discussion.
Monday, June 18, 2007
I know Monday's are usually the busiest day of the week here at NEI Nuclear Notes, but a combination of meetings and other duties have kept me away from the keyboard. And now, I'm actually going to be doing a presentation on blogging for the folks at EPRI.
Look for some updates later tonight. Please check back then.
Friday, June 15, 2007
From the NEI newsroom:
Capping a year-long evaluation of nuclear energy by a diverse group of experts, The Keystone Center today issued a report that details the group’s consensus that U.S. nuclear power plants are safer today with an improved safety culture; that climate change policies will improve nuclear energy’s relative economics, and that options are available today to safely manage used fuel.For a copy of the final report, click here.
The report, a “joint fact-finding on nuclear power,” was undertaken to provide an “assessment” of nuclear energy amid growing discussion – in policy circles and among the general public – of the technology’s appropriate role in the nation’s energy future.
“Nuclear technology is re-emerging as a power generation option in the face of concerns about climate change, energy demand growth, and the relative cost of competing technologies,” the report states.
Plenty of our friends in the anti-nuclear movement often go to great pains to detail many of the PR activities that groups like NEI engage in -- Sourcewatch, being just one example.
But all too often, many of those same groups won't reveal the sources of their funding. Which is why this exchange between Rod Adams and one of his readers -- who isn't a native speaker of English -- caught my eye:
I have a friend whose girlfriend was a speaker of Greenpeace for antinuclear matters in the Czech republic, now she does the same ... for Calla (a similar organization), that is a long story, but anyways my friend, boyfriend of this lady, told me once with a surprised face: "all this environmentalists movements in Czechia are financed from Austria, you didn't know that? I thought everybody knows that."Sounds like something somebody ought to look into.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Two weeks ago I looked (5/25/07) at the risk that higher biofuels mandates would deter the expansion of US refineries. Today's Wall Street Journal examines another constraint on those expansions: an industry-wide shortage of experienced personnel, along with higher construction costs. This problem is another consequence of the extended "wilderness years" from which the sector has only recently emerged. Two decades of low margins and large investments to comply with expanding environmental regulations imposed cost pressures that forced refineries to run as leanly as possible. In the meantime, an entire generation found employment in other, flashier industries. Unfortunately for consumers, the bill is coming due now.That sounds a lot like the situation the nuclear sector faces, as our work force continues to age, and we need to recruit more new workers into the employment pipeline. For more, click here.
Earlier this week I linked to an article that talked about nuclear energy's potential in Atlantic Canada.
Yesterday, Robert Duncan did an interview with the CBC concerning whether New Brunswick might become the site of a new reactor.
Maine Representative Bob Walker is concerned about his state's energy future, so he introduced legislation in that state' House of Representatives to create a nuclear energy study group to prepare to build new nuclear power plants.
Unfortunately, the effort was defeated:
A roll call vote this week, which divided along party lines, approved a motion to “indefinitely postpone” the Walker amendment, effectively killing it.Until it was decommissioned in 1997, Maine Yankee produced 45% of the state'e electricity -- a shortfall that has been made up by building new natural gas-fired generating capacity that comes part and parcel with rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Rep. Walker submitted the legislation to amend LD 1851, a bill to establish the State of Maine as a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a 10-state agreement designed to reduce emission of carbon dioxide by electricity generating plants. That bill has been passed by the Legislature.
The Walker amendment would have created the Maine Nuclear Power Council to explore the need for carbon-free alternatives for power generation.
The council, consisting of seven members, would have been responsible for examining ways to reduce Maine’s reliance on fossil fuels to produce electricity, while lowering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.
It also would have coordinated the planning for potential construction of a nuclear power facility, including location research and environmental impact. The council would have reported annually to the legislative committee with jurisdiction over energy matters.
“Sooner or later, we will need nuclear power to meet the energy needs of Maine and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said the first-term legislator from Lincolnville. “Our major power plants run on fossil fuels — oil and natural gas. Not only are these finite resources that will eventually run out, but they pump CO2 into the atmosphere.”
Please note that a similar legislative task force in Wisconsin just completed proposed legislation to lift that state's moratorium against new nuclear build.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Last year during Helen Caldicott's book tour, my colleague David Bradish did some excellent work debunking it chapter by chapter. In my regular reading this morning, I came across a blog post that seems to suggest that the truth about Caldicott is getting out:
I got a suggestion for Ms. Caldicott, we need alternatives to fossil fuels NOW. We should have been looking at alternatives to fossil fuels in the 80’s when she was destroying nuclear energy and not offering any viable alternatives. Because of her actions, we are in a hell of a crunch NOW. Sure, being green is great, and is the ultimate future of energy, but because of people like Caldicott, we’re in a jam NOW. In the 80’s, she killed off a non-fossil-fuel source of energy and gave us NOTHING. Now, 20 years later, she’s wanting to kill of a non-fossil-fuel source of energy and is offering us NOTHING.Looks like things are getting tougher out there for Dr. Caldicott.
So, excuse me if I suggest that the people that got us in this mess be ignored and we listen to people with some answers. Nuclear energy may not be the answer. But, at this time, thanks to Ms. Caldicott’s efforts in the past, we don’t have any other ones that can provide the amount of energy we need NOW to get us off coal and especially petroleum.
Columnist Melanie Gosling has taken a look at South Africa's energy budget, and she doesn't like what she sees:
Eskom has a budget of R6-billion for nuclear energy, but a mere R4,5-million for renewable energy.On the contrary, I think there's plenty of green in South Africa's plan, and I hope more local supporters of the industry stand up to counter this kind of propaganda.
This vast difference in South Africa's energy spending was highlighted at the Renewable Energy and Climate Change conference on Thursday, hosted by the Western Cape's department of environmental affairs and development planning.
Yaw Afrane-Okese, renewable energy specialist at the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), told delegates that part of Nersa's job was to review Eskom's budget.
He said anyone who compared the amount Eskom spent on nuclear energy with the amount it spent on renewable energy, would be "amazed".
"If you compare this (R4,5m on renewables) to the billions on nuclear energy, really, there is nothing green here, far from green," Afrane-Okese said.
To paraphrase a quote wrongly attributed to the late Willie Sutton, South Africa is betting on nuclear because that's where the clean air energy is.
In his latest diary at Daily Kos, N Nadir takes a closer look at Greenpeace and its methods:
Greenpeace is an organization that proudly announces that it is it acceptable to deal with half of the problem of climate change two full generations from now. Never mind that the means by which this dealing with half of the problem is dubious and has remained dubious for many decades in spite of similar past wishful thinking and cheering, or that energy demand should be expected to rise if we are to eliminate poverty, from where exactly does Greenpeace think that all the oil and coal and gas to cover the half they don't talk about is going to come? This is NOT an environmentalist position.I would hope that more of Nadir's confederates in progressive/Democratic circles would consider what he's written, and think about nuclear energy on the merits, rather than to judge it by ideological considerations.
Greenpeace is an organization that files suits against nuclear power plants and then announces that nuclear power is too expensive because people file suits against nuclear power plants. Greenpeace is an organization that announces that so called "nuclear waste" cannot be shipped because there are Greenpeace activists - and might this not qualify in some cases for a Darwin award? - lying on the railroad tracks obstructing shipments of used nuclear fuel. Greenpeace is an organization that tries to claim that no nuclear energy expert is qualified to discuss nuclear energy because they are nuclear experts and that only Greenpeace is qualified to discuss nuclear energy because they have no direct involvement in the management of nuclear power.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Say hello to The Nautilus Forum.
And thanks to them for digging up this clip of John Edwards stating his opposition to nuclear energy at a campaign event in South Carolina:
Again, that's South Carolina, a state that gets 52% of its electricity from nuclear energy.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Al Gore has been hectoring Americans to pare back their lifestyles to fight global warming. But if Mr. Gore wants us to rethink our priorities in the face of this mother of all environmental threats, surely he has convinced his fellow greens to rethink theirs, right?Anyone feel like a BANANA?
Wrong. If their opposition to the Klamath hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest is any indication, the greens, it appears, are just as unwilling to sacrifice their pet causes as a Texas rancher is to sacrifice his pickup truck. If anything, the radicalization of the environmental movement is the bigger obstacle to addressing global warming than the allegedly gluttonous American way of life. . . .
These dams provide cheap, renewable energy to 70,000 homes in Oregon and California. Replacing this energy with natural gas -- the cleanest fossil-fuel source -- would still pump 473,000 tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. This is roughly equal to the annual emissions of 102,000 cars.
Given this alternative, one would think that environmentalists would form a human shield around the dams to protect them. Instead, they have been fighting tooth-and-nail to tear them down because the dams stand in the way of migrating salmon. Environmentalists don't even let many states, including California, count hydro as renewable. . . .
Their opposition to nuclear energy is well known. Wind power? Two years ago the Center for Biological Diversity sued California's Altamont Pass Wind Farm for obstructing and shredding migrating birds. ("Cuisinarts of the sky" is what many greens call wind farms.) Solar? Worldwatch Institute's Christopher Flavin has been decidedly lukewarm about solar farms because they involve placing acres of mirrors in pristine desert habitat. The Sierra Club and Wilderness Society once testified before Congress to keep California's Mojave Desert -- one of the prime solar sites in the country -- off limits to all development. Geothermal energy? They are unlikely to get enviro blessings, because some of the best sites are located on protected federal lands.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
A few days ago, I noted a post from Steven Aplin about how Ontario's achievements in carbon emissions reduction are being purposely ignored by environmental activists.
Then again, there are others who understand the need for new nuclear, like David Goodings of Burlington, Ontario, who wrote the following in a letter to the editor in the Toronto Star:
Like the proverbial generals who continue to fight the last war while preparing for the next one, Greenpeace Canada's Dave Martin continues to tilt against nuclear power with 30-year-old arguments – despite the fact that the world around him has dramatically changed.Looks like a battle that's going to be won one person at a time.
An entirely different opinion was recently expressed by the co-founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, who had this to say in a May 11, 2007 article in the Hamilton Spectator: "When I helped found Greenpeace in Vancouver in the 1970s, my colleagues and I were firmly opposed to nuclear energy. But times have changed. I now realize nuclear energy is the only non-greenhouse gas-emitting power source that can effectively replace fossil fuels and satisfy Canada's growing demand for energy."
Environmentalist James Lovelock has also recognized nuclear energy's contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Three years ago, he wrote: "We cannot continue drawing energy from fossil fuels, and there is no chance that the renewables – wind, tide and water power – can provide enough energy and in time.... Only one immediately available source does not cause global warming and that is nuclear energy."
As society shifts away from coal, oil and natural gas, it is inevitable that demand for electrical power will grow, despite efforts aimed at conservation and energy efficiency. It is fortunate that public opinion in Ontario, the U.K. and elsewhere appears to be moving rapidly toward accepting nuclear energy.
I know we've mentioned this news before, but in case you missed the press release earlier this week:
GE and Hitachi, Ltd. have today completed the first half of their agreement to form a global alliance of their nuclear businesses, creating one of the world’s most comprehensive nuclear power plant and services operations that will compete for new reactor projects around the world.Congratulations to both parties. Something tells me they're going to be very busy over the next few decades.
The global business that will operate throughout the world, excluding Japan, is called “GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy” and officially began business today. It is 60% owned by GE and 40% by Hitachi, and will be led by the executives of GE’s current nuclear business.
In Japan, the business is planning to begin operations in early July and will be called “Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy.” It will be owned 80.01% by Hitachi and 19.99% by GE and will be led by the executives of Hitachi’s current nuclear business. All entities will share a joint advisory committee.
With climate change and energy security concerns driving a global resurgence in support for nuclear energy, GE and Hitachi are combining their nuclear businesses to become the world’s foremost provider of advanced boiling water reactor (BWR) plants and related services. The newly allied businesses will also offer key equipment and services for pressurized water reactors (PWRs), another light-water reactor design popular in certain countries.
“Our new alliance complements and optimizes GE’s and Hitachi’s respective strengths, allowing us to offer customers a broader portfolio of technology and services backed by the industry’s most extensive and experienced advanced reactor project development supply chain,” said John Krenicki, president and CEO of GE Energy.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:
For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.
Electricity prices were mostly increasing throughout the country. Prices experienced jumps greater than $10 in the East and Midwest (see pages 1 & 2).
Gas prices fell at the Henry Hub $0.05 to $7.60 / MMBtu (see page 4).
Uranium prices rose to $138 / lb U3O8 and $135 / lb U3O8 according to TradeTech and Ux Consulting (see page 7).
By 2011, the following amounts of new generating capacity are expected to start up:
39,000 MW coal; 46,000 MW natural gas; and 29,000 MW wind (see page 8).
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
It's one thing to be a blogger, but speaking to your local Rotary Club is another great way to get the message out about our industry and how it can protect the environment while supporting energy security.
Steven Aplin says that what's been happening in the energy sector in Ontario deserves more attention:
Canada has achieved major greenhouse gas reductions in recent years (see article). This is due almost entirely to reductions in Ontario’s power generating sector, where emissions were 15 million tonnes lower in 2006 than in 2003.That's a metaphor I can understand.
It’s depressing that nobody knows about this. Professional environmental advocates pretend the reductions didn’t take place, for two reasons. First, they are partisan to a fault, and their partisan leanings are definitely not toward the federal Conservatives. So they don’t want to give any credit to a party they don’t like. Second, they don’t like the cause of the emission reductions: nuclear power.
Hence, they never mention Ontario’s stunning reversal. Nor, for the most part, do their media interlocutors. Instead, they trot out phony scorecards like the one today from the World Wildlife Federation, which puts Canada in second-last place among greenhouse gas emitters (right behind the U.S.).
It’s time to knock these guys off the puck.
Monday, June 04, 2007
The Green Bay Press-Gazette has an update on the proposed legislation we reported on last month concerning a possible lifting of the state's moratorium on new nuclear build:
Some might consider the push for nuclear energy a step backward, but state Rep. Phil Montgomery says both can work together to build the energy supply.Testing ground? Last time I checked, Wisconsin already had three nuclear reactors generating in excess of 9.9 million MWh of electricity in 2005.
The Republican from Ashwaubenon, who co-authored the state's renewable energy bill last year and chairs a special task force on nuclear energy, said nuclear power provides a larger and more constant supply of electricity to Wisconsin's energy portfolio. He said climatic conditions vary energy output for wind and solar, making them "peaking powers."
"What our task force showed is that nuclear is a vital part of that generating portfolio," Montgomery said. "And as plants and technology age, we are very much in a building mode again."
Two weeks ago, the task force proposed legislation that would make it easier to introduce new nuclear power plants in Wisconsin. Similar proposals in the 2003 and 2005 sessions failed.
Gov. Jim Doyle has not come out strongly against nuclear energy in his tenure, but according to spokesman Matt Canter, "He does not want Wisconsin to be a testing ground for nuclear power." Doyle would rather fund renewable energy sources that have been proven to be safe, efficient and environmentally friendly, Canter said.
Sounds like the test has already been passed, and with flying colors.
For more from our archives on Wisconsin, click here.
From our buddies at World Nuclear News:
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power would limit its full potential to reduce carbon emissions "without a doubt."Not anything here that we haven't talked about in the past, but it's nice to see a third party confirm a possible crack-up in German energy policy.
The IEA made the statement on the launch of its 2007 review of its summary of German energy policy. The agency publishes similar documents on policies in all its 26 member countries.
IEA executive director Claude Mandil praised German prudence on climate change, saying the country was promoting "sound, sustainable energy policy in Europe and around the world" through its presidencies of the Group of Eight industrialised nations (G8) and the EU. Nevertheless, he continued to say Germany was facing some key challenges in energy - one of which was the key issue of the nuclear phase-out.
Just off the wire, taking place right now:
The Creative Coalition brings a distinguished delegation and their keynote program, Talking the Talk: The Creative Coalition’s 21st Century Debate Dialogues, to New Hampshire for the 2008 CNN Presidential Debates. The Dialogue event will be moderated by The Creative Coalition Advisory Board member Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr. and feature notable thought leaders, policy makers and actors.NEI is sponsoring this event. To view the Webcast, click here. Please note, in order to participate, you must install Second Life's virtual world software package. Give it a try!
The dialogue will include viewpoints from the left, right and center, featuring syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington, Republican pollster Dr. Frank Luntz and CNN’s Bill Schneider who all will engage in a lively discussion on issues surrounding the Presidential election and offer an in-depth look at the debates. This event and brunch will be held on Monday, June 4th, the day after Sunday’s Democratic Candidate debate.
As the nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy arm of the arts and entertainment industry, The Creative Coalition works to mobilize and educate the arts community on issues of national importance with special focus on those involving First Amendment rights, public education, and arts advocacy.
"This presidential election cycle is unique-- the race is wide open and it's the first time without an incumbent in more than 50 years," said Robin Bronk, The Creative Coalition's Executive Director. Talking the Talk kicks off a series of Creative Coalition dialogue events and other initiatives that will bring together the nation's most strategic political thought leaders to help dissect the issues in what will be the most important presidential race in years.
Recently, columnist Marc Fisher of the Washington Post took a visit to the North Anna Nuclear Station in Virginia to get a look at Dominion Virginia's possible plans to build a new reactor:
"The nuclear issue has hardly even come up" in the local debate over expanding North Anna, says the Dominion executive who runs the plant, Dan Stoddard. "The only real issue was the impact on the lake. People who live here often say, 'We're not opposed to the plant as long as we can't see it, hear it or smell it.' "Kudos to Fisher for giving us an even break, but what's disturbing is the discussion string that's developing below it. Be sure to stop by and add your two cents -- or more if need be -- to counter what's becoming a rather twisted discussion.
There is still great concern about the nation's failure to figure out what to do with the spent fuel rods that emerge from nuclear plants. But the path toward the new reactors seems relatively smooth. For now, all of the spent fuel ever produced at Lake Anna sits in rows of 14-foot-high concrete and steel canisters on an open-air concrete pad behind a barbed-wire fence near the power plant.
That's just too obvious an environmental problem -- and too easy a terrorism target -- for many people. But as I walk through the North Anna facility with Dominion executives, watched constantly by black-clad men toting machine guns, I hear something the nuclear power industry has been short on for decades: confidence.
"If you're going to do something about CO2," Grecheck says, "and it's pretty clear that the politics of the situation are heading in that direction, you're going to have to look at nuclear."
Friday, June 01, 2007
Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:
For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.
Electricity prices were mixed throughout the country (see pages 1 & 2).
Gas prices fell at the Henry Hub $0.03 to $7.65 / MMBtu. The yearly weighted average rose to $6.71 / MMBtu (see page 4).
Seven reactors were in refueling outages with two finishing last week. Seven reactors were down for maintenance last week (see pages 2 & 3). SO2 prices increased again last week to $624.80 / ton. (See page 7)
From the Dallas Business Journal (subscribers only):
"More recently he (Rudy Guiliani) was speaking on the West Coast, and he said basically what (I) said in the Los Angeles Times: That the fuel of the future of course is going to be nuclear power. Got to have it; got to use it. It's clean. There have been no accidents with it, and you can get rid of the waste. That will be the first question about it. But Giuliani said we're not going to be energy independent; we're going to have to figure a way out of this. I think that's the way the question should be answered.Interesting.
It's been a busy week filled with meetings and other responsibilities that have kept me away from blogging, but I wanted to take a few moments to write about a lunch meeting that my colleague David Bradish and I had earlier today with N Nadir, the famous pro-nuclear blogger who conducts his business over at Daily Kos.
As many of our readers know, we've been pointing to Nadir's (not his real name) posts at DailyKos for some time now, at times astonished at the sort of support nuclear energy can enjoy at a traditionally progressive blog like that one.
Then again, Nadir told me he wasn't surprised, as has been seeing a movement of a number of Democrats and others of a progressive political stripe give nuclear energy a second, and enthusiastic look.
We had a very interesting lunch, and Nadir passed along some advice that I'm sure to take to heart when it comes to confronting our industry's foes. In particular, Nadir made it clear that we needed to be more, not less confrontational, and just a bit more edgy when it comes to our presentation.
Simply put, he gave us a lot to think about, and I hope we did too.
It was great to take the jump and meet Nadir face-to-face as we have with Rod Adams and John Wheeler. Here's hoping we might do it again soon with another member of the nuclear energy community online.