Friday, October 08, 2010

An Educated Consumer

Koeberg_nuclear_power_station Let’s call it Partnership Friday:

Japan has submitted a bid to construct a nuclear energy power plant in Turkey through the mediation of Toshiba, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız has said.

And the Turks seem amenable:

“We see this offer from Japan as an important bid in terms of our efforts to construct nuclear power plants in Turkey.

However, we told them that we cannot give them a definite answer before concluding our negotiations with South Korea,” Yıldız said.

But if the South Koreans lose? Well:

Korea signed an agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy with South Africa Friday, completing the necessary procedure to make Korean firms eligible to access the nuclear energy market there.
The announcement came about a month after South Africa announced plans to build more nuclear reactors to cope with soaring demand for electricity.

Oddly, South Africa doesn’t seem to acknowledge two Koreas. Maybe the South Koreans call it Africa.

And keeping the daisy chain going, what’s up with South Africa?

An ambitious plan to reduce SA’s reliance on coal by almost half by 2030 and to more than double the use of nuclear energy was released by the Department of Energy yesterday, while the contribution of renewable energy technologies is poised for a significant increase.

No complaint here – and the story tells us what that will mean:

In the draft integrated resource plan, the department is proposing that coal contribute 48% to the energy mix by 2030, followed by renewable energy (16%), nuclear (14%), peaking open cycle gas turbine (9%), peaking pump storage (6%), mid-merit gas (5%) and baseload import hydro (2%). These point to a window of investment opportunity mainly in renewable energy and nuclear technologies. The draft plan envisages 52248MW of new capacity in the next 20 years.

That may seem a lot for coal, but aside from the country’s one nuclear plant (which has about 6% of the country’s electric capacity) outside Cape Town, virtually all its electricity is through coal fired plants. This commitment to bring that down couldn’t come soon enough.

Oops! That’s the end of the chain.


I’m a big fan of the most vociferous anti-nuclear folk sitting down with the strongest nuclear advocates – and with anyone in between the two poles, too - and hashing out their positions. Talk is always good.

The Institute for Global Education on Thursday sponsored a discussion on the merits and threats of nuclear-generated power in hopes of bringing home the issue.

This is in Grand Rapids, Mich., with John Ellegood, the NRC's senior resident inspector at the Palisades plant outside Covert Township. He adds a touch of the practical to a conversation that might stray too far into assertion. For example:

"Far too often, the industry gets what it wants and, when it comes to violations, it takes so very long for them to be processed," [Corinne] Carey said.

This kind of thing is easy to say, but of course Ellegood works at the plant but not for the plant.

"I'm there every day," Ellegood said. "I interact with the operators every day. We don't just trust what they say. Our motto is 'trust but verify.'"

But Ellegood also showed himself quite agreeable to admitting concerrns. Cleary said, “"Many of these plants are getting extensions to operate far beyond the number of years for which they were engineered to operate."

Ellegood conceded aging plants are a concern. But acknowledging an issue is not the same as using it as a club. The nature of the NRC job implies no rooting interest in whether Palisades or any other plant closes or remains open – the job is to ensure that it operates safely, which Ellgood does. (And the DOE has a program to work on the issue of aging nuclear plants. The article doesn’t say whether this was mentioned.)

The point isn’t that the NRC can trump an anti-nuclear advocate – it’s that local organizations host these discussions and people turn out to listen and comment. Here’s one:

Richard Machado, also of Grand Rapids, noted nuclear power has resulted in far fewer deaths than coal-fueled plants, the emissions from which have been blamed for a range of respiratory illnesses.

"Those are real risks as opposed to theoretical risks," Machado said.

Actually, that’s a real consequence, but good for Machado. As they say in the clothing store commercials, An educated consumer is the best customer.

South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear plant.


T.R. said...

This comment responds to the story discussing Palisades here in Michigan. One of the critics of nuclear power claimed that:

"Many of these plants are getting extensions to operate far beyond the number of years for which they were engineered to operate."

I have seen this statement made in several blogs and news sites. My understanding is that the current fleet of NPP are LICENSED to operate for 40 years by the US NRC and many (maybe all) are currently applying for extensions of this licensing period. I do not have inside knowledge of NPP engineering but I suspect that they were ENGINEERED (i.e. engineered does not equal licensed) for a period of time greater than 40 years. I do not think it is unreasonable to extend the license for a facility when engineering factors indicate that the facility is sound for such extension.

My point in commenting is that I have not seen this fallacy challenged on any forum. I read the NEI blog pretty regularly and have seen quotes from many anti-nukes make this claim (that the current fleet is is applying to run beyond its design/engineered lifetime).

Why are none of the advocates refuting this obvious fallacy?

Rick Maltese said...

You have nothing to say about the biggest story on Constellation. Why's that. Look forward to a future post.

Joffan said...

Rick, NEI Nuclear Notes never updates on a weekend or public holiday.

Anonymous said...

Their Twitter feed is active apparently.

David Bradish said...

Sometimes Joffan it's better to watch it play out and let others do the talking. If you didn't already know, a great source for keeping up with the latest news such as with Constellation is our twitter feed at the top right of the blog.

Anonymous said...

At least the CEG decision should silence the folks who have claimed the loan guarantees were handouts or bailouts.

David Bradish said...

And the Constellation story continues to evolve...

Joffan said...

David, if my FYI post came across as criticism, let me assure that was not the intent. I was following elsewhere and certainly the NNN blog list updates were good pointers, as usual.