Friday, January 14, 2011

35th Carnival of Nuclear Energy – Bullish Views, Big Perspectives and Burgeoning Economies

This week is the 35th week the nuclear carnival has been going on and our fourth time hosting.

Always staying up with the latest technology disruptions, Brian Wang at Next Big Future reported on an important research breakthrough on fusion. From the press release:

The [UK] researchers used large scale computer simulations to confirm a longstanding prediction by US researchers that high energy alpha particles born in fusion reactions will be key to generating fusion power in the next planned generation of tokamaks. 

In the same post, NBF also highlighted that all 58 of France's nuclear power reactors were currently connected to the grid at the same time for the first time in six years. And last from Brian is how he sees the world reducing CO2 in comparison to Joe Romm’s latest “revelations.” While Romm says nuclear will contribute about one wedge of CO2 reduction (an increase of 700 GW of nuclear worldwide by 2050), Brian is much more bullish and thinks the world could have 1,800-2,200 GW of nuclear by 2030.

Steve Packard at Depleted Cranium gave us the big perspective that even though times are tough for many, there are plenty of things to be appreciative about in 2011. Here are a few:

You have all the fresh, clean water you could ever want. Water is pumped to you of a purity so high you can drink it, and in quantities large enough that you can bathe in it every day. It even comes out heated.

You can be reasonably certain that the food you buy at your local market or restaurant will not kill you. Even the cheapest canned meats or corn is generally free of dangerous pathogens.

It is possible to travel at near supersonic speeds through the air to any city across the world. Doing so is extremely safe, about as safe as you could ever hope for a form of transportation to be. Not only that, but it’s affordable enough that even the lower middle class can afford to take a trip by air from time to time.

No matter how cold it is outside, you can be comfortably warm.

imageNext, Suzy Hobbs, who contributed to ANS’ Nuclear Cafe, noted that nuclear needs to update its appearance at the plants:

Nuclear energy is a little bit like an overly qualified job candidate in a bad suit. That is to say, despite being the best contender for the job of creating clean energy, no one wants to hire it because it needs a hair cut and a good tailor.

Also at the Nuclear Cafe, Margaret Harding uses the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as an excellent case study for a future engineering leaders class to examine crisis management and communications. Her list of media communication no-nos from BP’s oil spill response is well worth reading for the nuclear industry.

Published by the American Physical Society, Energy From Thorium highlighted a piece by Robert Hargraves and Ralph Moir where they reviewed “some of the history, potential advantages, potential drawbacks, and current research and development status of liquid-fueled reactors.”

Jack Gamble at Nuclear Fissionary took on a comment from a nuclear critic who believed that nuclear energy will leave our children with doom and gloom. In it, Jack refuted the critic who claimed that nuclear neglects the costs of its entire fuel cycle and our children will hate us for “contaminating the world.” Oy, good thing smart nuclear folks already know how to manage the fuel cycle responsibly.

At Cool Hand Nuke, Dan Yurman reported on Duke’s and Progress’ $14BN merger with a combined six Westinghouse AP1000 reactor license applications pending with the NRC. Over at his own blog, Dan reported on Areva’s monthly blogger call where CEO Jacques Besnainou said the Calvert Cliffs III reactor project is alive and well. Areva’s CEO also talked about clean energy parks and gave advice for the Blue Ribbon Commission on recycling spent nuclear fuel.

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As well, at Areva’s blog you can find the latest pictures of the EPR construction of Taishan 1&2 in China (pic to the right). 

Rod Adams at Atomic Insights held a lively discussion on how even power uprates attract opposition. Two Wisconsin organizations, one claiming to be dedicated to consumer protection and one claiming to be focused on clean air and water, came together to file their opposition to NextEra Energy Resources’ proposal to increase the output at the Point Beach nuclear plant by 17%. Even though 63% of the electricity generated in Wisconsin each year comes from burning coal, these two groups claim that Wisconsin does not need any more electricity from nuclear - even if the project would not add any new facilities.

Slightly diverging from nuclear, Gail Marcus at Nuke Power Talk brought up a report from Germany saying that the explosion of solar due to “generous feed-in tariffs” is seriously stressing the country’s aging power grid. Gail’s message is that “the German experience is just the latest cautionary tale that we really need to learn to do a better job of anticipating the potential impacts of all technologies.”

And Steve Aplin at Canadian Energy Issues talked about why China is eating, and will keep eating, our lunch. Aplin notes that cheap electricity from coal is fueling China’s economy and that its plan to add at least a hundred thousand megawatts of new nuclear generation capacity will ensure electricity stays cheap. He contrasts that with the electricity policies of western countries, including the US and Canada, which seek to make electricity expensive. Will western economies with rising electricity costs be able to compete with this burgeoning eastern economic force? We’ll see.

Have a great MLK weekend and be sure to stop by and check out everyone’s posts.

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