Skip to main content

“30 percent higher than it would otherwise be”

logo One of the points that is made again and again about nuclear energy – on this blog, certainly, but really, in many places – is that if the world pulled away from nuclear energy, it would be very hard to achieve the carbon emission reduction goals that are wanted – needed – to stave off climate disaster. That’s not a slam at renewable energy, just a recognition of what’s currently possible and impossible, practical and not practical

Still, the starkness of this article startling:

A halving of a global nuclear power expansion after Japan's Fukushima disaster would increase global growth in carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent through 2035, the IEA said on Wednesday.

Although the International Energy Agency has a dog in the race, it’s not the one you think. It was created after the seventies oil crisis (If you’re of an age, you may remember lining up your car - on certain days of the week – to get your rationed gasoline) to act as a stopgap if the petroleum supply is again interrupted. It still has that role, but has also taken on board issues of international energy development.

"(Growth in) CO2 emissions from electricity generation between now and 2035 would be about 30 percent higher than it would otherwise be." That was equivalent to almost an extra 500 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually by 2035, he [IEA chief economist Fatih Birol] added.

CO2 emissions rose above 30 billion tons last year, a new record and just short of the amount that Birol estimated was consistent with the world's new warming target.

You can read the rest for yourself. There are two points to keep in mind before getting thoroughly depressed by the article (which you will): One, as Doris Day once sang, the future’s not ours to see. People predict things all the time based on the band of evidence they consider relevant, but there are many, many such bands and they all of them make the future together. Two, the world has not declared that fifty percent of nuclear energy will go away. In fact, the likelihood of it becoming more ubiquitous is pretty good.

And one of the reasons this is so, no doubt, is the grim forecasts of groups like the IEA. We’re not the only ones who can read, after all. But, all told, I doubt the issue of carbon emission reduction is even determinative in countries committing to more nuclear energy – the growing need for a lot more electricity is closer, the desire for developing countries to modernize while not producing emissions closer even.


News is of a mixed nature, but not bad. There’s this:

China's nuclear safety regulators said that the country's all operating nuclear reactors are safe and sound, following a two-month inspection after the disaster at Japan's earthquake-stricken Fukushima Daiich nuclear power plant in March.

Li Ganjie, Vice Minister of Environment and director of China's Nuclear Energy Safety Administration, said in a statement posted on the ministry's website Wednesday that inspections of all 13 working reactors have been completed, and found no problems.

Not that there would be any particularly glaring problems. But this is what China has really needed:

The country originally plans to have up to 100 reactors in operation by 2020, but Beijing has suspended issuing permits for new plants until a national nuclear safety regime is phased in.

And that seems just right.


And this:

The UAE’s nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), has said that there could be changes to the design and location of the country’s proposed nuclear reactors to ensure safety, following Japan’s nuclear disaster.

Again, seems judicious enough.

“Everything is on track. We asked Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC) and its Korean partners to look at the design and siting in the light of the Fukushima accident and see what can be learned from that,” John Loy, Director of Radiation and Safety Department at FANR, told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday.

He added that changes would not affect the project’s timeline.

The UAE said it expects to start its first nuclear power plant in 2017, and hopes nuclear energy to eventually supply 25 per cent of its power.

A variation of trust but verify. I expect many actions regarding nuclear energy will take that approach.


Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…