It’s been another contentious week on nuclear and the pro-nuclear blogging community has been right in the mix. This week we have the privilege of hosting the carnival for the fifth time that’s been on-going for more than a year.
To start, Rod Adams at Atomic Insights has a piece describing what’s happening between the NRC, the AP1000 and Friends of the Earth. According to Rod, the NRC appears to be wavering in its commitment to its own established process because some believe that receiving 14,000 emails on the AP1000 design certification indicates a high level of general public opposition. Rod notes that the emails are mainly from a single group, the FOE, who have professionally opposed nuclear energy for 40 years. The group claims credit for orchestrating nearly every one of those emails as part of a campaign against nuclear energy in general, not against the AP1000 in particular. The FOE sources who have identified the cited "technical issues" have questionable professional backgrounds, long histories of antinuclear activity, and little credibility.
Dan Yurman at Idaho Samizdat discusses the NRC Inspector General’s report on the NRC Chairman’s use of budget guidance on the review of the Yucca Mountain license. According to media summaries of the leaked IG’s review in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, the Chairman issued controversial budget guidance to his staff to stop the work and brushed off complaints from other commissioners about it.
Rick Maltese at Deregulate the Atom pointed out that the NRC should not get all the credit for nuclear energy's decades of safety.
The Institute for Nuclear Power Operations in the US and the World Association of Nuclear Operators deserve a lot of the credit for improvements in safety and other design improvements. They are the Nuclear Industry’s self regulating bodies. And most of the accomplishments were made within the 10 or so years after the Three Mile Island accident. I point this out to set the record straight about who and how the excellent record of safety that has come about in the nuclear industry is not at all understood.
Meredith Angwin at Yes Vermont Yankee reviewed a new blog started by Vermont Law School (VLS) about Vermont Yankee’s legal actions. VLS has been advising the State of Vermont on how to shut down VY. Meredith notes that lawsuits on the subject are breeding like rabbits and VLS is not exactly doing a great job of reporting on them.
Steve Aplin at Canadian Energy Issues asks: Why is Iran stepping up uranium enrichment? Tension over Mid-East nuclear security increased this week when Iran announced it would install additional uranium enrichment capacity. Is this a headlong rush to a nuclear bomb, or a new negotiating position? Aplin argues that it could have everything to do with Libya, and that recent history might offer clues as to how to negotiate a resolution of this issue.
New Construction and Future Plans
Jeff Madison at Cool Hand Nuke notes that one “of the most dramatic resurrections of a stalled nuclear reactor construction project is unfolding in Hollywood, Ala. There, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is getting ready to formally ask its board of directors this August to approve completion of the 1,260 MW PWR plant [Bellefonte] which halted in the late 1980s.”
Alan Rominger and Steve Skutnik at Neutron Economy have two posts to mention. Alan explains the connection between the recent idea for "charter cities" where small modular reactors located at the bottom of the ocean can provide sustainable, independent power for such efforts. And Steve explains why he ultimately went from being a physicist to a nuclear engineer. Steve encourages other nuclear professionals and advocates to tell their stories of how they came to be involved in nuclear energy as well (I’m reminded of this example).
Charles Barton at Nuclear Green asks: Why Is Renewable Energy So Expensive, While Molten Salt Reactors will be So Cheap? He finds that an examination of input materials for wind generation systems and solar PV generation is greater than the input materials for an Advanced High Temperature Reactor. The study he cites reveals that the AHTR, a near relative of the Molten Salt Reactor, has big advantages by the little amount of resources needed. MSRs can potentially offer the same material input advantages over renewables, and thus may generate electricity at very competitive costs.
Dan Yurman at Idaho Samizdat posts that Areva plans to push spent fuel recycling plans in the US. Areva’s CEO, Jacques Besnainou, sees startup of the effort by 2015. Besnainou said the firm is already in discussions with several nuclear utilities about a consortium to develop a plan and design for such a plant. Along with Areva, Besaninou said the group “would advocate more loudly for a recycling center in the U.S. … We’re going to be much more vocal by the end of the year.”
Brian Wang at Next Big Future reports that Lawrenceville Plasma Physics’s (LPP) research team has sorted out several issues on their dense plasma focus fusion project which should enable them to substantially increase power.
Germany, Germany, Germany
Margaret Harding at 4 Factor Consulting, with her cynical glasses on, looks at Chancellor Merkel’s decision to acquiesce to Germany’s apparent desire to abandon nuclear power. Margaret notes that it is a brilliant move politically that puts Merkel’s government into a win-win. Doesn’t matter if they succeed or fail at nuclear power, Merkel can look the hero.
Michele Kearney at her Nuclear Wire points out that Germany’s nuclear exit failed to give Chancellor Merkel's party a boost. As well, she also points out a piece from IEA on Germany’s “real costs of zero nuclear.”
And to add, Gail Marcus at Nuke Power Talk examined the recent decisions by Germany and Switzerland to withdraw from nuclear power as well as the rumblings in Japan who may move in that direction. In her piece she points to some of the implications of these actions, both within those countries and elsewhere.
Nuclear Stats and Competitors
Brian Wang at Next Big Future reported the latest nuclear generation stats in the developed countries. “The IEA's Monthly Electricity Statistics for March 2011 showed nuclear generation at 185.6 TWh (1.2 % ahead of March 2010). For the year to date up to March 2011, the OECD is 13.5 TWh ahead of the pace of 2010.” Japan's nuclear generation in April was 17 TWh, three TWh lower than March.
Another post worth mentioning from Rod Adams at Atomic Insights is his discussion on the IEA’s new gas report. A recent meme floating around the media is that we are entering a "golden age for natural gas". Atomic Insights wants to start a new meme - the golden age of nuclear energy. There is no way that any other fuel or power source can compete with uranium or thorium fission on anything close to a level playing field. The fuel is extremely dense, is the cheapest source of fuel per unit of heat, and is clean enough to power sealed submarines for long periods of time.
And last but not least, Will Davis at Atomic Power Review has the latest on Fukushima-Daiichi. As we noted before, if you’re not following Will, you’re not following what’s really going on at Fukushima.
Hope you enjoyed, stay tuned for next week’s carnival to be hosted at the ANS Nuclear Cafe.