Friday, October 30, 2009

The Kerry-Boxer Hearings: Day 3

JohnRowe And day last. We’re going to focus today on John Rowe, Exelon CEO. As we said over the last two days, the focus of the hearings has been general in nature, alighting on nuclear energy and other energy generators only occasionally. But Rowe dove straight into provisions that should be considered if the bill is to be responsive to the nuclear industry.

Now, there were also representatives from the coal, natural gas, wind and hydro industries present at the hearing yesterday (solar was included earlier), so do not let our monotonic focus confuse you into thinking nuclear was overstressed at the hearing at the expense of others. Not at all.

Finally, this story is taken from Nuclear Energy Overview, our news service for NEI members. What you may not know that NEI’s member will know is that 1. John Rowe is a very prominent figure in the industry, so his words carry considerable weight with the Senators. He speaks to the interests of the industry and, as you’ll see, he’s very frank and realistic in his assessments. 2. Rowe was chairman of NEI (and other industry associations, too, over his long career) for a spell. Members know that, but for our purposes, so should you. (And he said so in his testimony – no need for it to be repeated in the story.)

So, without further ado:

Exelon CEO John Rowe brought nuclear energy front and center Thursday in the marathon three-day hearings being held by the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. Rowe offered his perspective on the potential role of nuclear energy in the Kerry-Boxer climate change bill (S.1733) and provided his viewpoint on elements in the bill that would help the expansion of nuclear energy.

Asked by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) what incentives should be in the bill “to get 150 new nuclear plants up and running in the coming decades,” Rowe provided a list of elements.

“First,” Rowe said, “supporting at least uprates, or better yet … new nuclear plants as part of a low-carbon energy package would have a positive impact. A legislative finding that on-site storage or surface storage of spent nuclear fuel is an acceptable long-term solution to the used nuclear fuel issue would be an important step. Obviously, increasing amounts of loan guarantees would be valuable.”

But Rowe wanted to ensure that as a “believer in the free market,” the best solutions would be chosen over time as according to the circumstances. “We have to look at some long-term things—like solar or like next-generation nuclear plants as things we want to get jump-started, but we don’t want to go too far.”

He continued, “As many people here have suggested, what we’re ultimately looking for is to include the cost of climate protection into the marketplace then let the market make choices from decade to decade that none of us are wise enough to make today.”

Rowe provided an assessment of how many nuclear plants will be built in the short and mid-term. “I believe that the six or eight units that are supported by the existing federal loan guarantee program will ... be in operation by 2020. I do not think there will be a significantly larger number than that. If those units are successful, I believe there will be more on line by 2030 but I doubt it will be many tens let alone one hundred.”

Rowe agreed with Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) that the continued low price of natural gas “haunts” hopes for new nuclear plants. “The low-cost solution for the next decade is often natural gas, and that takes pressure off to work on either new nuclear or the more advanced forms of renewable energy.”

Rowe also strongly agreed with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that nuclear energy should be considered equivalent to renewable energy sources in terms of the renewable standard. “A carbon-free goal or set of subsidies would be preferable to renewable-only subsidies,” he affirmed to Alexander.

Other panelists included Preston Chiaro, CEO of Rio Tinto; Willett Kempton, professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware; Bob Winger, president of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Local 11; Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund; Mike Carey, president of the Ohio Coal Association; and Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

John Rowe.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Kerry-Boxer Hearings: Day 2

whitehouse As you might expect, the second of three days of the hearings on the climate change bill saw some themes emerge. First, the tenor more-or-less avoids talking about specific energy generators even when representatives of relevant companies are present. Natural gas probably picked up the most traction and even that was fairly muted.

Second, many of the participants worry that Congress will not act and carbon reduction will be mandated instead via Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Some say waiting for either a legislative or regulatory remedy causes enough uncertainly to forestall investment. Here’s Ralph Izzo, Chairman, CEO and President of the Public Service Enterprise Group  (PSEG), on this issue (our transcipt):

Some companies are now making low-carbon investment choices, particularly those like PSEG that are already subject to carbon regulation. But uncertainty about a national program slows our transition to a green economy, complicating investment decisions about whether to retrofit coal plants to reduce emissions, pursue development of new nuclear or invest in offshore wind.”

And here he makes the case explicitly:

“Congress can avoid this costly and cumbersome path by enacting strong cap-and-trade legislation that obviates the need for EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.”

Third, the expansion of nuclear energy, when it does enter the conversation, seems a foregone conclusion. We noted in the comments on Day 1 that some of our readers think the Obama administration will stifle the development of new nuclear energy facilities. We don’t agree, but would add that Congress has a hand here, too.

Here’s David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, making the case most forcefully in opening testimony:

Three new nuclear power plants by 2020, while an important first step in the right direction, does not a nuclear renaissance make. If you assume that all 104 nuclear reactors currently operating in the United States have been retired by 2050, that means we need approximately 75 new nuclear units over the next 41 years simply to keep nuclear power’s share of electricity production near 20%. If we want to double the nuclear share of power production to 40% in order to accommodate demand growth and realize a greater carbon benefit, we are going to need to build about 150 new nuclear units.

There is a big gap between the three to four new plants currently working their way through the system to construction now and 150. In my view, we have no hope of getting anywhere near 150 new units over the next 41 years unless we have an effective nuclear title as part of comprehensive climate change legislation in 2009.

That title must embrace new nuclear as a fundamental building block of our 21st century national energy policy, and provide the pragmatic, essential policy tools that are needed to realize the laudable intentions laid out for new nuclear power in the Kerry- Boxer bill -- tools that are needed in addition to a price on carbon for nuclear to succeed. Those tools must address the key commercial constraints to a nuclear renaissance, and include worker training, expanded domestic manufacturing capability, transitional loan guarantees for project financing for a second wave of new plants, and efficient and safe regulatory approval processes capable of handling a much larger volume of projects.

And consider this exchange between Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Dustin Johnson of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (our transcript):

Whitehouse: I think you’ll be happy with what comes out on nuclear. There’s a new nuclear era coming and we just need to be sure we do it right and that we work as hard as we can to make nuclear byproducts be manageable and there is technology that allows used nuclear fuel and we need to be sure that we develop that because that’s the hazard.

Johnson: Well, Senator, thank you and you do give me reason for optimism that it’s going to be better, as right now I think the nuclear title is rather weak. But I’ll take your word for it that it will get better.

We choose the theme behind door three.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Nuclear Title and the Fourth Estate

26 The industry’s release of the nuclear title has multiple goals. One, of course, is to provide information to Congress as it considers the Kerry-Boxer climate change legislation, to indicate how the industry can help government achieve its goals.

But that information is fully public, so it has a role in the public discourse, too. As important as the other estates is the fourth estate, those outlets looking for useful data to add into their editorials and news stories, blog posts and tweets. The material is trustworthy enough to inform discussion.

Here’s Steve Mufson in the Washington Post:

The elements of a nuclear package under discussion include investment tax credits, a doubling or more of the existing $18.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for new plants, giving nuclear plants access to a new clean energy development bank, federally financed training for nuclear plant workers, a new look at reprocessing nuclear fuel, and a streamlining of the regulatory approval process, according to corporate, congressional and administration sources.

And what response does Mufson find?

Asked how many Republicans could be won over to a climate bill with a substantial nuclear power provision, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said: "At least half a dozen, depending on how this issue comes out. Maybe more." And, he added, "you're not going to get a bill without meaningful Republican participation."

Graham may become as essential to this legislation as Olympia Snowe was to the health reform bill, if bipartisanship becomes as large an issue this time. Interestingly, nuclear energy may be the – or at least a – key in achieving that bipartisanship – and that’s not to mention its usefulness in reducing greenhouse gasses.

In fairness, the story also takes in the downside, so do read the whole thing.

ClimateWire’s Katherine Ling references the industry effort directly:

The NEI proposal echoes nuclear energy language and provisions laid out over the past year by several key moderate Republicans -- including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona -- for whom a "robust" nuclear title is necessary, if not sufficient, to vote for a climate bill.

We’d say it’s a double echo, but okay.

Now, a news story by its nature will balance upside and downside and let you decide which is more compelling (the flaw is that this can make sides seem co-equal when they may actually be quite lopsided – see articles about global warming for a recent extreme example of this). Editorials, though, are a different beast.

This status quo is unacceptable. Nuclear energy is far and away one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal for cutting emissions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, constructing 180 new reactors would cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

This comes from the Harvard Crimson. Maybe we’d advise a different word choice, but the editorial makes a lot of sense.

A statue in Brookgreen Gardens, S.C. The first estate, in case you’re curious, is the Church, the second the upper chamber of government and the third the lower chamber. If that sounds somewhat non-American, it is – the French coined the first three and English writer and political philosopher Edmund Burke the fourth (“the estate of Able Editors”), as reported by Thomas Carlyle in 1837. That’s a lot of history for a simple phrase.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Kerry-Boxer Hearings: Day 1

20090715_klobuchar_hearing_39 The first of three days of hearings about the Boxer-Kerry climate change bill in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)) went the way opening days often do. The Senators kicked things off with what were essentially position papers, with Sen. Boxer highly favorable to the bill and ranking member Sen. James Inhofe (R. Okla.) highly unfavorable. (Inhofe noted, “If we went full speed ahead, nuclear energy would supply 40% of our electricity,” with which we can but agree.)

Since all the speakers were Obama administration officials, the panel was highly favorable about the bill, too. Along with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff filled out the panel.

You can read about their invariably positive thoughts about the legislation in this New York Times story, but here’s Chu:

“When the starting gun sounded on the clean energy race, the United States stumbled, but I remain confident that we can make up the ground. When we gear up our research and production of clean energy technologies, we can still surpass any other country.”

The nuclear takeaway was somewhat muted, but so were most other energy sources (Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) really likes solar energy, though). The discussion stayed a bit more abstract and focused more on the efficacy of the bill.

None-the-less, there was an interesting exchange between Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who supports increased use of nuclear energy, and Chu:

Klobuchar: If we only relied on nuclear, what would be the time frame for that? I guess what I’m getting at, we might need a combination of things, things that move quicker.

Chu: We are pressing very, very hard on getting the first of the – we have authorized 18.5 billion dollars in nuclear loans. That is able to start three maybe four depending on foreign partners – four nuclear reactors at most. So we are working very, very hard. Hopefully, we can announce very soon the first of these and hopefully before the rest of the year the rest of them. This is the beginning of the start of the nuclear industry. Getting three or four going doesn’t really get it going, so I view that as the beginning.

K: So what’s the time frame for that, for when we’ll get that energy?

C: Those loans?

K: Yes.

C; We’re trying to shoot for the end of this year.

[…]

K: But when will we get the energy from it?

C: Ideally, it could be between five to ten years – from the time you get the go-ahead to the time when you turn the electricity on.

K: Thank you very much.

Chu doubtless means loan guarantees, not loans – the government wouldn’t be issuing loans only backing up commercial loans.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D. Minn.)

NEI’s Nuclear Policy Initiative

home_branding_logo We gave you a heads up the other day with some fact sheets that outline what the industry - and NEI – has been doing as hearings on the energy bill get underway today (Look at the Twitter feed on your right for some quotes coming out of the hearings. We’ll see about fleshing them out later).

Toward this end, NEI has released a detailed nuclear policy initiative outlining where nuclear energy fits into the climate change debate. And here, in brief, is where that is:

Analyses of H.R. 2454 [the House climate change bill passed earlier this year], the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House on June 26, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) demonstrate that substantial increases in nuclear generating capacity will be essential to meet the legislation’s carbon-reduction goals.

All true. Now, anti-nuclear folks argue that nuclear energy tries to hoover up all available resources set in its path, leaving little for renewables and new technologies. This takes advantage of the undoubted fact that building a new plant requires high capital costs.

But the arguments depend on how legislation is ultimately constructed and how industries – all of them – that are helpful to a government goal partner with government to achieve an effective outcome.

Nuclear energy has a key part in any climate change legislation. And as you’ll see, it’s not all about money, anyway – a lot of it is about getting nuclear energy plants licensed and built in a timely way.

And let’s not forget the jobs:

A nuclear [energy] construction program will also breathe new life into the U.S. manufacturing sector, as it rebuilds and retools to produce the pumps, valves, vessels and other nuclear-grade equipment needed for new nuclear plants.

Tens of thousands of jobs.

Here are the bullet points:

  • new plant financing, principally through creation of a Clean Energy Deployment Administration that would function as a permanent financing platform;
  • tax incentives for nuclear energy manufacturing and production facilities, and work force development;
  • ensuring effective achievement of the efficiencies in the new-plant licensing process that was established in 1992 but is only now being tested;
  • management of used nuclear fuel, including limited financial incentives for the development of voluntary interim storage facilities for used uranium fuel;
  • nuclear fuel supply, to enhance the certainty and transparency associated with the disposition of government inventories on uranium markets; and
  • other areas, such as creation of a National Nuclear Energy Council to advise the Secretary of Energy and authorization of a cost-shared, public-private partnership to advance development and deployment of small modular reactors within the next 15 years.

We’ll have a lot more to say about this in the weeks ahead, but consider this the outline of the industry’s goals as the legislation is developed in the Senate. Take a read and see what you think.

Let’s note to that nuclear energy is scarcely the only group to present a detailed legislative initiative. It’s what industry associations do – openly and to the benefit of industry, sure, but the benefits are multiple, in this case even ultimate. After all, this is one of the most important issues today, speaking directly to the fate of the Earth. It just doesn’t get more important.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Clean Energy, The EPA and a Question

schoolhouse rock bill2 Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) released what called the chairman’s mark of the Kerry-Boxer climate change bill, called the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S.1733). At least, this is an accurate title – bills are often called something benign despite repulsive contents, but this one hits the goals of the bill. While it’s about 100 pages longer than the previous draft version, the nuclear section is much as it was – the focus remains workforce, used fuel management and safety.

We expect this section – and all the sections – to gain more provisions as the bill moves along.

Grist’s David Nelson points out one notable difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill:

it retains EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act.

Nelson doubts this will survive the process. We’re not really sure why this bill would not take precedence over EPA since it establishes the same kind of carbon reduction regime and EPA would be involved in implementing it. But we’ll see.

---

EPA, speaking of that agency, released a report of this bill, looking at it (pdf) under various scenarios. Main takeaway: if nuclear energy is not part of the mix, the goals become harder to meet.

However, in scenarios with limits on the availability of technologies such as nuclear, biomass, and CCS, the limits on international offset usage would be reached.

Which is not what you want to have happen.

The fewer international offsets allowed by S. 1733 compared to H.R. 2454 in these limited technology scenarios would require an extra 9.5 GtCO2e [billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent] of abatement from covered sources cumulatively over the 2012 – 2050 time frame, and would result in higher allowance prices.

Not good, either.

---

The National Journal asked its group of insiders this question:

Q: Could you see yourself supporting a cap-and-trade bill if it included significant incentives for nuclear energy?

Okay, now guess the percentage of support based on party affiliation.

Ready?

Democrats 81-16

Republicans 3-95

But wait, don’t Republicans heavily favor nuclear energy? There’s the rub – not enough to embrace cap-and-trade. (And remember, too, this is a single question poll – lots of potential follow-up questions not asked). Still, interesting to see that the Democrats accept nuclear energy in such heavy numbers.

See the story for respondent’s comments – they really tell the tale.

I’m Just a Bill was created for Schoolhouse Rock, a series of 3-minute interstitial segments made for Saturday morning children’s programming on ABC. Ideated by adman David McCall as a song, which his agency later thought would make a viable cartoon. The series started in 1973 and, even though the cartoons played for a couple of decades, they always retained a sort of Free-to-Be 70s vibe to them. I remember these as being pretty clever and better animated than most of the fare surrounding them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

President Obama at MIT

President Barack Obama’s energy speech at MIT could have focused a bit more on nuclear energy. But he intended to cover a lot of bases and clearly did that. He noted the green jobs created by the stimulus bill, he called for bipartisanship in crafting the climate change bill in the Senate, he paid appropriate homage to the innovation and accomplishments of schools like MIT. So the actual energy portion of the speech was just that – a portion – and nuclear references, like others, were made in passing.

So let’s see what he said about nuclear energy and give you a taste of the speech:

Everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that can transform our energy system into one that's far more efficient, far cleaner, and provide energy independence for America -- making the best use of resources we have in abundance, everything from figuring out how to use the fossil fuels that inevitably we are going to be using for several decades, things like coal and oil and natural gas; figuring out how we use those as cleanly and efficiently as possible; creating safe nuclear power; sustainably grown biofuels; and then the energy that we can harness from wind and the waves and the sun.  It is a transformation that will be made as swiftly and as carefully as possible, to ensure that we are doing what it takes to grow this economy in the short, medium, and long term.  And I do believe that a consensus is growing to achieve exactly that.

So there’s that. And:

This is the nation that harnessed electricity and the energy contained in the atom, that developed the steamboat and the modern solar cell.  This is the nation that pushed westward and looked skyward.

In its context, Obama is here rejecting the notion that nothing can be done about climate change – that we can do anything we set our minds to doing.

You can read the rest of the speech here.

Meanwhile, in the World of Thorium

jons_jakob_berzelius The Thorium Energy Alliance had its first annual conference in Washington earlier this week, so The New York Times decided to take a look at the potential of Thorium as a fuel for nuclear energy plants.

Rajendran Raja, a physicist at Fermilab — the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois — said by telephone that the benefit of adding thorium to the fuel mix would be to create much more fuel using existing abundant resources and to reduce waste.

That sounds promising.

This could be done by building a high-intensity proton accelerator with the capacity to produce fast neutrons that could convert nuclear waste, thorium-232 and uranium-238 into fuel, he said.

In case you thought there wasn’t a but:

But to accomplish this, a proton accelerator would need to be 10 times more power-intense than anything that has been produced to date.

And as you can imagine, such an accelerator would need considerable amounts of electricity itself to do the job. The article goes on to say that Fermilab is trying to overcome the issue, but has not quite got there yet.

The Indians are doing without the accelerator:

India has been making advances in the field of thorium-based fuels, working to design and develop a prototype for an atomic reactor using thorium and low-enriched uranium.

Which, if we understand the history of thorium energy is the “traditional” way of leveraging the element. We had hoped the article would be more hopeful itself, but not so much:

[John Boldeman, an Australian specialist in nuclear science and engineering] acknowledged that creating any thorium systems would be a long process that could take decades before finding success.

We suspect countries like Australia and India – which sit on piles of Thorium – as well as Fermilab will find ways to get those decades down to years. Too promising to do otherwise.

See here for much more about thorium – potentials and pitfalls - from the World Nuclear Association. And pay a visit to Kirk Sorenson’s terrific blog about Thorium – and here you thought we were niche.

This is Jons Jakob Berzelius, who identified Thorium as an element in 1828. Why not call it Berzelium? Here’s the thing: Berzelius is Swedish. Hmmm! Thorium, Thorium. Where did he get that name?

A Party in the Spider’s Web

temelin-nuclear-power-plant-czech-bg If this article about the Czech Republic’s energy profile is correct, the number one goal of the country is to disentangle itself from Russia, with which it was of course deeply entangled for some fifty years.

The number two goal, though, is to keep a fishy eye on President Vaclav Klaus, who appears to be quite friendly with the Russians (we can’t pretend to understand the ideological warp that exists in Eastern Europe, but Klaus is described as very conservative – to us, that ought to mean nationalist – but in the Czech Republic, apparently not, as Klaus won the Presidency with the help of the Communists, who we guess would be considered rear-guard.)

Consider that Martin Laryš’ article in the Prague Post is about energy, yet comes to this point:

While energy remains a concern, the bigger threat for the Czech Republic remains less direct Russian takeovers of strategic companies. The close and often personal ties between large Russian state companies and intelligence services would lead to a likely increase in influence for Russian intelligence in the Czech Republic.

Would it? That’s a really big conceptual leap – but we can’t really blame Laryš for making it.

Anyway, here’s the nuclear energy angle:

Fear of Russian dominance in oil and gas was a major argument for further developing Czech nuclear energy, to create an alternative energy source and further decrease dependence on Russia. However, the Russians are trying to find their way into this strategic sector, as well. Like most things, it mostly comes down to money, which Russian energy companies are not lacking.

Neither is French or American money – one wonders if the Czechs want to detach from the Russians as much as this article suggests. Oh, wait, here come the Americans:

Another hopeful candidate [to build two new units in an existing Czech plant] is U.S. company Westinghouse, but, according to the Czech weekly Respekt, the Russians remain the frontrunner.

Oops, there go the Americans (though the deal isn’t set yet – there may be a pleasant surprise.) Here’s some more:

Recently, ČEZ [Czech Power Company] signed a contract with Rosatom subsidiary Tvel for fuel supplies to the Temelín [nuclear] plant, choosing them over Westinghouse. The contract runs through 2010.

This story imagines Russia as the spider with the Czech Republic as the fly – and given history, who can say it’s wrong – but at least on the face of it, the fly seems to be having a pretty good time in the web – or is making the best of being entangled.

See here for more on Czech usage of nuclear energy – it generates about a third of its electricity via the atom, so its an essential part of the country’s energy mix.

The Temelin nuclear plant.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Getting Up to Speed on Nuclear Issues

home_branding_logo We don’t normally point you to NEI’s content because we assume you know it’s there and will go there – as well as to the NRC, ANS and other such worthy organizations – for all your nuclear knowledge needs. However, with energy issues heating up (so to speak), NEI has been busily putting together some information that wraps some good facts into handy little reference pieces.

For example:

New Nuclear Plants: An Engine for Job Creation, Economic Growth iterates points we make here frequently: that building new plants is an engine for employment, both directly and for allied industries (such as parts manufacturing) and for communities that surround a new plant. It all comes down to this:

Absent investment stimulus, the current pace of job creation will slow and the prospect of tens of thousands of new U.S. jobs could recede into the distant future or disappear completely.

That about gets it.

And about those allied jobs that support new plants? New Nuclear Plants Create Opportunities to Expand US Manufacturing, Create Jobs discusses it in detail:

Deployment of new nuclear power plants in the numbers necessary to reduce carbon emissions depends on a robust supply chain of nuclear manufacturers. Construction of new nuclear plants requires hundreds of components and subcomponents, which in turn requires a deep and diverse supplier base.

And although it would be wildly presumptuous to suggest that a nuclear renaissance could spur a revival of the U.S. manufacturing base, it certainly will provide numerous manufacturing opportunities:

Today, U.S. manufacturers of components for new nuclear power plants and fuel cycle facilities are adding to design and engineering staff, expanding their capability to manufacture nuclear-grade components, and building new manufacturing facilities in preparation for new reactor construction in the U.S. and abroad.

And that’s only up to now.

Finally, what are the measurable benefits of a nuclear plant build out? The Economic Benefits of New Nuclear Power Plant Development provides a lot of interesting numbers (and links so you can double-check them):

For every MWh generated by a coal plant, one metric ton of CO2 is produced. For every MWh generated by a gas plant, one-half of a metric ton of CO2 is produced. According to the previous calculation above, 64,000 MW would generate 505 bkWh which therefore equates to avoiding 505 million metric tons of CO2 if the 46 new reactors replaced all coal plants or avoiding 252 million metric tons of CO2 if the 46 new reactors replaced all gas plants. According to the EPA, the average passenger car emits 5.2 metric tons of CO2 each year. 505 mmt of CO2 is equivalent to the emissions of 97 million passenger cars. 252 mmt of CO2 is equivalent to the emissions of 49 million passenger cars.

Well, you get the idea. Do take a look at these papers.

Especially with a major speech on energy from President Obama coming up tomorrow – and we’ve noted with interest some of the more overtly positive things he’s been saying about nuclear energy lately – we expect nuclear energy, along with renewable energy sources and coal, to take a key role in the upcoming consideration of the Senate climate change bill.  These papers are a great way to get up to speed on some of the issues.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stewart Brand and Amory Lovins Debate about Nuclear on NPR's OnPoint

Tom Ashbrook from NPR's OnPoint got the two to cordially hash out their opposing views on nuclear. Though the conversation lasted for about 12 minutes, not much was actually debated. I guess a good debate is what the blogosphere is for.

So far I haven't seen much praise for Lovins' latest piece, in fact it looks like in the comments section at Grist, his supporters were rather thin. Rod Adams continues to take Lovins to town, Brian Wang at Next Big Future had a lot to critique and Sovietologist piped in. We, of course, are generating our thoughts but are waiting a bit to see how the debate plays out. It's been spectacular to see the nuclear industry's supporters expose and rip up the Rocky Mountain Institute's latest junk science.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Closing A Deal in Idaho – or Maybe China

017 The difficulties of identifying and exploiting a market – whether to provide nuclear energy or to market a new food product – is never easy and, for a start-up, notably difficult.
To wit: A company called Alternate Energy Holdings has a pretty good idea:

A small company that's pushing a billion-dollar nuclear power plant in Idaho now says it wants to build another one at a different location.
Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. says it's asking Payette County to amend a plan that governs land use, so it can build a nuclear power plant on approximately 5,100 acres in western Idaho.
This is presumably on land where MidAmerican Nuclear Energy decided last year not to build a plant, so some of the work has been done. And why do they want to do this?
Don Gillispie, Alternate Energy's chief executive, says his projects will bring benefits to rural communities.
Well, we can’t argue with that, though the AP story is so short as to be barren on details.
So we visited AEHI’s Web site:
AEHI is an alternate energy electricity generating company focused on the construction and acquisition of green energy sources – primarily nuclear power plants and solar. The company also uses renewables and technology to essentially eliminate energy bills on houses and commercial buildings.
We’re not sure how they’d eliminate energy bills, but okay. In any event, AEHI centers its activities on Idaho, or seems to, until you get to this (small pdf):
AEHI will open an office in the Chaoyang District, central business district, of Beijing in July to facilitate institutional investors for AEHI projects and joint ventures with Asian companies for nuclear plant components and other energy-related projects with US companies.
That’s thinking big. So far, AEHI hasn’t got very far past the news release stage on any of its initiatives, but then, it’s only been around for three years. We checked our friends over at Idaho Samizdat to see what they know about AEHI. Answer: quite a lot. Start here for more, but here's the summary:
The penny-stock firm has had little success in its efforts to organize a nuclear reactor project in Idaho.
It may just be that AEHI is trying everything it can to find and develop a market and interest enough venture capital to help it stay afloat until it makes a sale – either in Idaho or China. Certainly not unusual (if a bit unusually far flung), often not successful, but that’s how it works. All one can really do from the outside is speculate. Let’s keep half an eye on AEHI and see how it goes.
Not the Yangtze River – the Snake River in Idaho.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What Environmentalists Know

Ken Edelstein over at Mother Nature News acknowledges that what we might call “classic” environmentalists, those raised on the Whole Earth Catalog and the No Nukes concerts, might have a bit of a problem.

How much less politically radioactive nuclear power has become was underscored Oct. 11 in a Sunday New York Times op-ed co-written by Sen. John Kerry. As Massachusetts’ lieutenant governor and then as senator, the Democrat was a vocal foe of the Seabrook nuclear power plant, then under construction in neighboring New Hampshire. He remains an environmental darling -- the climate-change bill co-author tasked with rounding up Senate supporters of the historic legislation.

Then, what about the fact that Kerry did co-write that editorial? Is it a sign of breaking faith?

The NYT op-ed generated buzz because Kerry wrote it with a Republican colleague, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. It signaled that some Republicans actually might support a climate bill this year if it contained significant compromises, and that Democrats might agree to such compromises to get the bill passed.

A lot of those compromises have to do with nukes.

Well, that’s a bit round about. More likely, Kerry saw that climate change legislation has no chance of achieving its goals without nuclear energy. Both EPA and EIA have concluded this. But Edelstein is right that climate change certitude is wreaking havoc upon the zeal that powers the anti-nuclear movement. These are bright folks and scientific consensus does speak to their interest.

Other environmental groups shouldn’t be described exactly as pro-nuke, but they are keeping their options open. The Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists -- all highly respected organizations with a strong bent toward research and policies -- have said they’re at least willing to consider nuclear energy as part of broader legislation.

Well, if you’re of a mind, that’s a bucket of cold water in the face. It’s like watching dominos topple.

Sadly, even Edelstein’s efforts to restore nuclear energy to its proper sinister place in the pantheon of evil seem a bit half-hearted.

With the start of this year’s National Hockey League season, NEI struck a sponsorship deal with the Washington Capitals; there’s nothing like rink-side signs that say “Clean Air Energy” to get your message across to members of Congress who happen to be hockey fans.

It gets “the message across to members” of environmental groups, too, which might be a cause for alarm. Nuclear energy has been the fear trigger for so long that we get why it would be tough to let go of it – we held onto our Amiga computer way too long, like a piece of ourselves we didn’t want amputated – but sooner or later, reality trumps all.

National Journal's Expert Blog Asks: "Does Nuclear Fit the [Climate] Bill?"

The answers to this question from various experts should be fun to watch unfold over the week. Be sure to remember to check in occasionally to see how the discussion is going. It's up to five mixed responses so far...

Update 1:50 pm: NEI's CEO Marv Fertel added his two cents to the discussion.

Update 10/21, 4 pm: So far 14 experts have weighed in. Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa has the most favorable votes with NEI's CEO right behind. Carl Pope from the Sierra Club dropped an odd comment about Texas and low-level waste and surprisingly the American Wind Energy Association felt the need to comment about the nuclear industry's financial barriers. I wonder what AWEA thinks of HSBC's comments:

HSBC Private Bank is recommending weightings of 1-5 percent in nuclear power to clients without ethical objections, as subsidy-dependent renewable energy stocks are too exposed to political risk. Fredrik Nerbrand, head of global strategy at HSBC's private banking arm, said nuclear power was the "only sustainable" means of electricity generation.
And the newest response was from the industry's critic on costs, Mark Cooper, who Florida Power and Light took to town several months ago.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

NHL Advertisers

Who [Else] is Advertising with the NHL?

[Dasherboard ads, positions #40 - #21, tracked Oct. 17-31, 2009]

Anaheim [Honda Center]
Travel Alberta
Del Taco
Honda
State Farm
Mountain Dew
NHL.com
Citizens Business Bank
Time Warner Cable
Acura
Pepsi
830 AM Radio
AAA.com (Triple A)
Miller Lite
Orange County Register
San Manuel Indian Bingo Casino
Fox Sports Prime Ticket HD
CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County)
Jack Daniels
free credit report.com
Lucas Oil
NHL.com
Miller Chill Lite Lime Beer
Travel Alberta
Del Taco
Honda
State Farm

Atlanta [Philips Arena]
Tires Plus Total Car Care
Philips
680 The Fan
metroPCS
Bud Light
NHL.com
Home Depot
Comcast Triple Play
Coke Zero
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Scana
Geico
AccessAtlanta.com
SPORTSOUTH
Tucker Castleberry
Scana
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Aaron's
Coke Zero
Georgia Power
NHL.com
"All You Can Eat Seats" (Thrashers)
680 The Fan
Philips
"Chick-fil-A Family Nights" (Thrashers)
metroPCS

Boston [TD Garden]
Sylvania
Welch's
Modell's
Blue Cross Blue Shield - Massachusetts
TD Bank
NHL.com
Coca-Cola Zero
Ford
Bud Light
Comcast/NESN.com
Ace Ticket
Dunkin' Donuts [Boston Brewin']
Dunkin' Donuts [Boston Brewin']
Bully Hill
AT&T
TD Bank
Blue Coat
Bud Light
Gulf
AT&T
NHL.com
Mass Lottery
Sylvania
Welch's
Modell's
Blue Cross Blue Shield - Massachusetts

Buffalo [HSBC Arena]
Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital
HSBC
Chevrolet Equinox
Tim Hortons
Geico
NHL.com
Verizon
Greatbatch Medical
Labatt Blue
Toyota
Cambria Contracting
AT&T
State Farm
Absolute Care
Enterprise
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York
Dunkin' Donuts
Bud Light
Northtown Automotive
Upstate New York Transplant Services
NHL.com
Tops Friendly Markets
Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital
HSBC
Chevrolet Equinox
Tim Hortons

Calgary [Pengrowth Saddledome]
Air Canada
HSBC
Boston Pizza
SportChek
Telus
NHL.com
on the run [Esso]
Home Hardware
Canon
FedEx
Pizza 73
The Keg
Molson Canadian
Homes by Avi
Husky
Calgary Herald
Air Canada
on the run [Esso]
Scotia Bank [Hockey Club]
Molson Canadian
NHL.com
Air Canada
AGAT Labs
HSBC
JELD-WEN Windows and Doors
Telus TV

Carolina [RBC Center]
Time Warner Cable Business Class
RBC Bank
Veramyst
Blue Cross Blue Shield - North Carolina
Chevy.com
NHL.com
Bud Light
Quintiles
Progress Energy
Compuware
John Deere
Dane Cook Concert
99.9 FM ESPN Radio
Mini Ticket Plan (Hurricanes)
North Carolina Education Lottery
SAS
Enterprise
Geico
Pepsi
FS Carolinas
NHL.com
REX (UNC Health Care)
Time Warner Cable
RBC Bank
Veramyst
Blue Cross Blue Shield - North Carolina

Chicago [United Center]
CBOE (Chicago Board Options Exchange)
Comcast Sportsnet
State Farm
North Shore University Health System
Harris Bank
NHL.com
Bud Light
AT&T

United Airlines
WGN 720
CBOE (Chicago Board Options Exchange)
Comcast Sportsnet
Magellan Corporation
Lemonhead
Blue Cross Blue Shield - Illinois
United Airlines
Bud Light
Four Season Heating and AC
Verizon Wireless
SpongeTech
NHL.com
Impact
The Sharper Image
AT&T
Harris Bank
WGN 720

Colorado [Pepsi Center]
Coors Light
Dick's Sporting Goods
Pepsi Max
Arby's
Key Bank
NHL.com
Altitude TV
Tuaca
Qwest
Tires Plus Total Car Care
Copper Mountain Ski Resort
Anthony's Pizza and Pasta
AMP Energy
Dick's Sporting Goods
The Denver Post
Denver Mattress.com
Key Bank
Oppenheimer Funds
King Soopers
Enterprise
NHL.com
Geico
Coors Light
Qwest
Pepsi Max
RE/MAX

Columbus [Nationwide Arena]
Enterprise
Nationwide Insurance
Ohio Health
Huntington Bank

Verizon Wireless
NHL.com
Bud Light
10 TV News (WBNS)
Tim Hortons
Time Warner Cable
Columbia Gas
Pepsi
AEP (American Electric Power)
IGS Energy
Lexus
Giant Eagle
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Stanley Steemer
Wheeling Casino
Donatos
NHL.com
Toyota
Labatt Blue
Nationwide Insurance
Tim Hortons
Huntington Bank

Dallas [American Airlines Center]
Gigantic Color
Ford
Super Guarantee
My TV 27 (KDFI)
Guaranty Bank
NHL.com
Craig Ranch
Bud Light
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
JC Penney
Dallas Stars.com
AT&T
American Airlines
Best Buy
Texans Credit Union
Geico
Snapple
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Chipotle
Texas Rangers (MLB)
NHL.com
Dr. Pepper
FS Southwest
metroPCS
State Farm
Dallas Stars Golf Tournament

Detroit [Joe Louis Arena]
Michigan Lottery (You Play Schools Win)
State Farm
Blue Cross Blue Shield - Michigan
Little Caesars
Kroger
NHL.com
Miller Lite
FS Detroit
ciber
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
AT&T
Red Wings Group Tickets
Molson Canadian
Comerica Bank
DMC DOCS (Detroit Medical Center)
Molson Canadian
Coca-Cola
Blue Cross Blue Shield - Michigan
Coke Zero
MotorCity Casino
NHL.com
Belle Tire
Michigan Lottery (You Play Schools Win)
Tim Hortons
Caesars Casino
Little Caesars

Edmonton [Rexall Place]
Save-On-Foods
Telus
Air Canada
Rexall
Coca-Cola Zero
NHL.com
Capital Power Corporation
Molson Canadian
EnCana
All Weather Windows
Under Armour
The Keg
Husky
Telus TV
Sportsnet.ca
FedEx
Sportchek
ATB Financial
Ford
Husky
NHL.com
Tim Hortons
Boston Pizza
Telus TV
State Farm
Home Hardware

Florida [BankAtlantic Center]
La Croix
Stars Wars in Concert
BankAtlantic
Club Saveology
Bud Light
NHL.com
Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler Law Firm
Lucas Oil
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Office Depot
ADT
FS Florida
Mayors
metroPCS
Gulfstream Park
Coca-Cola
Papa Johns
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Geico
Lexus
NHL.com
Comcast
CompUSA
Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler Law Firm
BankAtlantic
KISS Alive/35

Los Angeles [Staples Center]
Staples
Toyota
Coke Zero
McDonald's
Wachovia
NHL.com
Bud Light
FS West HD
EA Sports NHL 10
San Manuel Casino
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
The Parking Spot
American Express
AAA.com (Triple A)
MBE Digital
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Sport Chalet
Farmer John
Konica Minolta
Lucas Oil
NHL.com
State Farm
Staples
Toyota
Coke Zero
mercury insurance.com

Minnesota [Xcel Energy Center]
Travelers
Xcel Energy (United Way)
Wells Fargo
Sony
Toyota
NHL.com
AT&T
Bud Light
Imaging Path
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
FS North
Pioneer Press
Minnesota Hockey.org
Minnesota Wild Tickets
Best Buy
Andersen Windows and Doors
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Cambria Contracting
Treasure Island Resort and Casino
Coca Cola
NHL.com
MN National Guard
Travelers
Xcel Energy (United Way)
Wells Fargo
Sony


Montreal [Bell Centre]
Bell (CH en HD)
Air Canada
metro
Desjardins
Tim Hortons
NHL.com
Molson
Master Card
RCI
Bell (CH en HD)
FedEx
Expedia.ca
Reno Depot
Lafleur
bonjourquebec.com
Marche Express (Esso)
eska
Steamatic
Bell (CH en HD)
PSP Go
NHL.com
TechoBloc
Bell (CH en HD)
Viagra.ca
Samsung
Desjardins

Nashvile [Sommet Center]
a.d. vallet & co.
Vanderbilt Sports Medicine
Bridgestone
Sommet Group
Toyota
NHL.com
Bud Light
Healthways
DEX Imaging
Geico
Gaylord Entertainment
Tennessee Lottery
Fast Signs
Sommet Group
Bridgestone
Daily's
Cracker Barrel
Thomson Cat
Pedigree
FS Tennessee
NHL.com
Lochinvar
a.d. vallet & co.
Vanderbilt Sports Medicine
Bridgestone
Sommet Group

New Jersey [Prudential Center]
PNC Bank
Modell's
Prudential
Verizon
New Jersey Devils.com
NHL.com
Bud Light
Panasonic ToughBook
QuickChek
Saint Barnabas
PNC Bank
MSG Plus
Ford
Lincoln Mercury
WFAN
Air Canada
American Red Cross
New Jersey Devils.com
David Foster & Friends
Geico
NHL.com
New Jersey Lottery
PNC Bank
Swedish Fish
Prudential
Verizon


New York Islanders [Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum]
Capital One
Modell's
Spongetech
Geico
Sharp
NHL.com
ProHealth
Winthrop Univeristy Hospital
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Met-Rx
Bud Light
MSG Plus
Bully Hill Vineyards
Newsday
Ester-C
EmblemHealth
Fios TV
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Islanders Tickets
State Farm
NHL.com
NYLI Honda
Capital One
Modell's
Spongetech
Geico

New York Rangers [Madison Square Garden]
Optimum iO TV
Sobieski Vodka
Geico
Delta (Airlines)
MetLife
NHL.com
Select Sector SPDR
Bud Light
T-Mobile
American Express
MSG HD
Jana
SpongeTech
Capital One
Delta (Airlines)
newyorkrangers.com
Fuse TV
Coke Zero
State Farm
Oppenheimer Funds
NHL.com
NYLI Honda
Optimum iO TV
Sobieski Vodka
Geico
Delta (Airlines)

Ottawa [ScotiaBank Place]
State Farm
sportsnet.ca
metro
on the run [Esso]
MasterCard
NHL.com
Casino du Lac-Leamy
Molson Canadian
Algonquin College
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Air Canada
Irwin Industrial Tools
Jeld Wen Windows
Ogilvy Renault
Viagra.ca
Ottawa Citizen
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Home Hardware
pizza pizza
Coca-Cola Zero
NHL.com
Bell
Waste Management
Tim Hortons
SportChek
Minto


Philadelphia [Wachovia Center]
State Farm
Wachovia
Modell's
Geico
Kia Motors
NHL.com
Comcast Business Class
Lukoil
NovaCare
Sharp
PECO (Exelon)
Toyota
Comcast
U.S. Airways
Bud Light
Independence Blue Cross
Pennsylvania Lottery/Powerball
Verizon
revolution card
Wachovia
NHL.com
Pepsi Max
State Farm
Wachovia
Modell's
Geico

Phoenix [Jobing.com Arena]
AT&T
Toyota
Jobing.com
phoenixcoyotes.com
Twitter/Phoenix Coyotes
NHL.com
Wild Horse Pass Casino
Geico
"All You Can Eat" Tickets (Coyotes)
Facebook/Phoenix Coyotes
Toyota
Desert Schools Credit Union
bluemedia
FS Arizona
Enterprise
State Farm
KISS Alive/35
Verve!
Waste Management (Think Green)
Xtra 910 am
NHL.com
Family Pack Tickets (Coyotes)
AT&T
Toyota
Jobing.com
phoenixcoyotes.com

Pittsburgh [Mellon Arena]
Trib Total Media
Verizon Wireless
State Farm
84 Lumber
Wheeling Casino
NHL.com
Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Consol Energy
GetGo
Geico
American Eagle Outfitters
Pennsylvania Lottery/Powerball
Mountaineer Casino
UPMC Sports Medicine
Comcast
Starkist
Penguins.com Ticket Exchange
Bud Light
Esmark
Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield
NHL.com
BNY Mellon
Trib Total Media
Verizon Wireless
State Farm
84 Lumber

St. Louis [Scottrade Center]
American Airlines/AA.com/Komen
State Farm
DISH Network
Casino Queen
Schnucks
NHL.com
FS Midwest
Bud Light
Waste Management
KMOX
stltoday.com (St. Louis Post Dispatch)
Verizon Wireless
StLouisareaVW.com
Dobbs Tire and Auto
Stifel Nicholaus
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
Enterprise
Kia Motors
Bud Light
Purina Dog Chow
NHL.com
American Airlines
American Airlines/AA.com/Komen
State Farm
DISH Network
Casino Queen

San Jose [HP Pavilion]
Applied Materials
HP
OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware)
Best Buy
Comerica Bank
NHL.com
Solar Magic (National Semiconductor)
SVS&E Merchandise
Bud Light
Barracuda
SAP
Mountain Dew
Cache Creek
Symantec
Playstation3
Ticket Trader (San Jose Sharks)
LAM Research
Blue Coat
Comcast Sportsnet
metroPCS
NHL.com
Geico
Applied Materials
HP
OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware)
Best Buy


Tampa [St. Pete Times Forum]
Bud Light
Transitions (Lenses)
Rose Radiology
Brickwall Productions
FrankCrum
NHL.com
Tires Plus Total Car Care
Ticketmaster.com/nhl
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Embassy Suites
Tampa General Hospital
Bright House Networks
Sun Sports
McDonald's
St. Pete Times/Tampa Bay Times
Click It or Ticket Florida
Dex Imaging
Blue Cross Blue Shield - Florida
TECO Energy
Geico
NHL.com
RE/MAX
Bud Light
State Farm
Rose Radiology
Brickwall Productions

Toronto [Air Canada Centre]
TD Waterhouse
Air Canada
Mr. Sub
on the run [Esso]
metro
NHL.com
Molson Canadian
Rogers
Grant Thornton
Future Shop
LG
Casino Rama
Bruce Power
Nikon
IBM
RE/MAXRedtag
Meritus University
Coca Cola Zero
pizza pizza
NHL.com
Tim Hortons
TD Waterhouse
Air Canada
Molson Canadian 67
State Farm

Vancouver [General Motors Place]
Home Hardware
Chevrolet
Air Canada
Molson Canadian
Telus TV
NHL.com
Lotto Max
Save-On-Foods
canucks.com
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
PSP Go
HSBC
Jeld Wen Windows and Doors
BC Ferries
Bravia
Telus TV
River Rock Casino
Coca-Cola Zero
HSBC
SportChek
NHL.com
RE/MAX
Tim Hortons
Chevrolet
on the run [Esso]
Molson Canadian

Washington Capitals [Verizon Center]
sport&health
Comcast Sportsnet
Papa Johns
nuclear: clean air energy (NEI)
Geico
NHL.com
Sharp
Bud Light
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
Capital One Bank
Capitals Club Scarlet
Ticketmaster.com/nhl Ticket Exchange
Adobe.com/OpenGov
the Greene Turtle
Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa
washingtoncaps.com
Tires Plus Total Car Care
[Digital Dasher - Multiple Advertisers]
ciber
Geico
NHL.com
Capital One Bank
Comcast Sportsnet
Netstar
Ameritel
Verizon FiOS