Thursday, April 05, 2012

What Nuclear Energy Can Do

Tarapur Atomic power Station near MumbaiAREVA’s Chief Commercial Officer Ruben Lazo offers some interesting thoughts and predictions:

“In two years, there will be very strong demand on the [uranium] market, as new reactors start operating, and as new contracts with the existing fleet kick in. …I’m sure that Japan will restart a few reactors this year, and complete all necessary measures to restart many others in 2013 and 2014.”

and

“Responsible governments won’t tie the whole industrial and economic development of their country to a single source of energy,” Lazo said. “Manufacturers want some predictability in power prices that can’t be provided by gas, while nuclear is the only energy that can guarantee some price stability.”

Which is – true – and not often said. Lazo also says the “nuclear renaissance scenario isn’t there anymore,” which I’m not sure I agree with – there are 61 reactors under construction around the world, after all – 65 with the four here - but that’s okay. He’s providing his views and they’re pretty interesting. Read the whole article for more.

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“If the owners and operators of nuclear reactors had to face the full liability of a Fukushima-style nuclear accident or go head-to-head with alternatives in a truly competitive marketplace, unfettered by subsidies, no one would have built a nuclear reactor in the past, no one would build one today, and anyone who owns a reactor would exit the nuclear business as quickly as possible."

That’s Mark Cooper, commenting on a new report he’s written as a researcher at the University of Vermont. Did we mention that 61 nuclear facilities are being built outside the United States?

That’s a question beyond snark, since Cooper has to somehow account for the fact that his report’s conclusions don’t really align with the realities of the marketplace unless he alters the nature of the marketplace – partly what he’s doing here – plus a heavy dose of bald assertion. After all, nuclear energy has been a pretty light beneficiary of subsidies (coal and natural gas have been the biggest, by far – nuclear is more on par with its renewable cousins).

But that’s almost beside the point. If you try this “truly competitive market,” “unfettered by subsidies” game on any energy source – and a lot of other necessities of a working society - you’ll end up at pretty much the same place.

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And what can nuclear energy do? Take this news from India:

NPCIL chairman S K Jain, in an official release, said, … “Among the nuclear plants, Tarapur Atomic Power Station unit-3 (TAPS-3) achieved a remarkable feat of a continuous operation for 522 days. It joined the fleet of 10 nuclear power reactors, which operated continuously for more than a year. Safety continued to be accorded highest priority in all the nuclear power reactors, and there were no incidents even while achieving the excellent operational performance."

522 days – 24/7 – lights on.

The NPCIL, under which there are 19 nuclear reactors operating across the country, has produced 32,455 million units (MU) compared to 26,473MU produced last year-an increase of about 23%.

That’s what nuclear energy can do.

Tarapur Atomic Power Station.

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