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Showing posts from May, 2015

Butch Otter and Idaho Nuclear Tourism

Idaho Governor Butch Otter recently said some warming things about nuclear energy.
Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said collaboration with the private sector is crucial to improving education in the state, and nuclear energy and advanced nuclear manufacturing will connect the state government, universities and the private sector. This makes sense. Despite not having any commercial nuclear facilities, the presence of the Idaho National Labs and the state’s history with the atom makes it a natural to encourage development.
Otter said that nuclear power now accounts for about 20 percent of the energy produced in the U.S. And over the next 25 years, that demand will increase by 37 percent.
Experts estimate that 360 new nuclear power plants will have to be built to meet the growing need, and Otter wants Idaho to take the lead. No governor is going to say no to new business, of course, and Idaho is well-positioned to tout its affinity for nuclear manufacturing. Regardless, it’s …

EPA’s Clean Power Plan Needs Nuclear Energy On The Menu

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning at NEI.

It’s so obvious that it shouldn’t bear repeating, but it does: If you’re worried about climate change, one early, easy remedy is to preserve nuclear power plants that are already running. If you are facing limits on carbon emissions, don’t shut down perfectly serviceable merchant nuclear plants, just because cheap natural gas has left them, for now, a few bucks out of the money in the competitive electricity markets.

Last Thursday the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, a group made up of officials from 42 states and the District of Columbia, plus 116 metropolitan areas, released its 465-page “Menu of Options” for complying with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (Section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act).

We could quibble with some details, like describing nuclear technology as “mature.” It is highly developed, but it has evolved markedly in the la…

Google and Facebook’s Nuclear-driven Data Centers

A Greenpeace initiative that’s actually kind of interesting is its drive to get large scale data centers – such as those run by Google, Facebook and Apple – to use more renewable energy to run them. They call it Clicking Clean.Greenpeace operates in an area where the practical -  which, after all, is what electricity is – intersects with the idealistic, if one defines idealism fairly narrowly, i.e., as what Greenpeace favors.That’s where data centers come in. There’s a cluster of them in North Carolina, which, in part, has to do with the state’s efforts to foster high-tech development. I’ve had a couple of friends migrate to the Research Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) to pursue their careers, so it’s having an impact on the east coast at least. But it likely also has something to do with plentiful electricityBut here’s the problem for Greenpeace. Greenpeace says Duke’s Green Source Rider, proposed in 2013 at the urging of Google and Facebook as a way to sell green energy to customers will…

What Matters to Jeb Bush, Yucca Mountain and Media Matters

IT’s way too early in the cycle to talk about the presidential candidates’ energy policy formulations – heck, we may not have the majority of them announced as candidates yet. Consider, then, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, one of those candidates who has not yet announced.The Associated Press and Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush spoke out against the proposal to bury nuclear waste in Nevada's Yucca Mountain, without mentioning Bush's ties to a nuclear industry group that actively supports the project.Really, a nuclear energy group? Which one?What the AP and Review-Journal left out, however, is that Bush is currently listed as a member of a nuclear industry group called the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CASEnergy), which has long advocated for Yucca Mountain -- and continues to do so. As recently as February 24, CASEnergy published a blog post declaring Yucca Mountain a "scientifically safe and sound option" for storing nu…

The QER, Nuclear Energy and Energy Infrastructure

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning at NEI.

The Energy Department has posted the first installment of its Quadrennial Energy Review. Quite sensibly, the department cast a critical eye on the sorry state of energy infrastructure: overstressed gas lines that leak, sometimes catastrophically, and can’t meet the demand during cold spells; bottlenecks in the rail and canal systems that move coal and oil; and electric generating stations that starve for fuel when the coal pile freezes.

But the sections of the plan that have been published so far do not give any credit to generation technologies that do not add strain to the fuel shipment infrastructure. To the department’s credit, officials there say that they are working to “unbundle” the attributes of various electricity generation systems, and to assign appropriate values to each attribute, including transportation requirements.

Nuclear power plants, in addition to mak…

Business Rallies for Carolina Jobs & Ex-Im Bank

The following is a guest post by Ted Jones, Director of International Supplier Relations for NEI.

For several months now, we've been shining a spotlight on the dispute in Washington over the reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. But this week, the focus of this battle is moving outside the Beltway far away from Washington-based Tea Party groups to where real jobs are at stake - in this case on Wednesday morning in Charlotte where businesses from across the Carolinas are going to rally to support the bank and the work it does promoting exports in the region.

The event will take place at the Westin Charlotte Hotel beginning at 8:30 a.m. and will include businesses from all over the Carolinas. Already confirmed to be in attendance and participating are companies like Duke Energy, Holtec, CB&I, Fluor, Curtiss-Wright, GE Aviation and Boeing. We also expect a number of smaller nuclear energy suppliers - companies who would be forced to start laying off employees immediate…

NEA: A Discussion on Climate Change

The Nuclear Energy Assembly wrapped up this morning with a panel on nuclear energy and its worth as a low carbon dioxide emitting energy source. Low in this case means zero. That’s been true from the opening of Shippingport in the 50s and remains true. But it has taken on new significance in recent years.The panel was called A Discussion on Climate Change. Panelists included  Philip Sharp, President of Resources for the Future, Christine Todd Whitman, Co-chairman of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition and President of the Whitman Strategy Group, Armond Cohen, Executive Director of the Clean Air Task Force and Dan Reicher, Executive Director of Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University. This is an excellent group, ranging over the topic from their varied perspectives. We’ll provide a few highlights from each speaker, but the exchanges between them are very enlightening as well. You can view the 40 minute session here – if you need something to convince y…

Crane Highlights Energy Diversity, Markets & Trade in Nuclear Industry Keynote

Christopher Crane is president and CEO of Exelon Corporation, and chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute. This morning he spoke at NEA 2015 where he offered remarks to the state of the nuclear industry and its future. Below is a summary of his remarks. Click here for the full text.

Chris Crane made it clear from the outset of his address before more than 850 industry leaders this morning that the U.S. nuclear industry is at the top of its game. The latest WANO performance indicators clearly show the industry not only operated at-or-near record-setting levels in 2014, but has been doing so for a decade or more.

But Crane didn’t shy away from pointing out that there is a lack of recognition of “the importance of a diverse electricity supply” that poses serious ramifications for the nation.
Energy diversity is taken for granted and—if current trends continue—that diversity is seriously at risk.

Coal-fired generating capacity is declining. The U.S. has about 300,000 megawatts of coal-f…

Building a Light Bridge to Nuclear Value

An op-ed in The Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago roused attention because it dinged the American nuclear energy industry as being oppressively overregulated – especially compared to Russia and China. I noted then that a focus on safety regulation risked obscuring the larger problem of the energy marketplace. To quote myself “I’d probably also focus more on markets, a WSJ thing, because reforming them to recognize nuclear energy’s value as a reliable and emission-free energy source would bolster the argument considerably.”Well, they write letters:The main problem for nuclear isn’t the NRC, but politics and the way markets are structured. Regulated market structures in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee have led to the construction of billions of dollars of reactors under way now in each of those states. Deregulated market structures in Vermont and other states where reactors have been closed give no credit to the desirable benefits of safe commercial nuclear power, such as…

What Nuclear Plenitude Means Economically

Nuclear energy plants are financial boons in all kinds of ways – both directly, in terms of the people they hire and their contribution to the tax base; and indirectly, through their support of the supply chain and all the businesses that benefit from having a nuclear energy plant in their midst. That’s obvious enough and true of almost any large physical plant.
There’s another economic consideration, too, that one nuclear reactor can produce a lot of new electricity. Sometimes, a new reactor will take the place of an older electricity generator – a coal plant here, a gas works there – but sometimes, more is just more.
With the construction of base-load nuclear plants at the Summer Nuclear Station, South Carolina will have ample electric capacity to attract more companies like Bridgestone and BMW while also protecting the environment. This combination will put South Carolina in the driver’s seat for an expanding economy in the years ahead. Op-ed writer Mel Bruckner points out in The …

How Germany Turned Its Energy Policy Into Folly

In an article about the counterintuitive nature of closing nuclear facilities, this bit stuck out: Nuclear plants would likely be replaced by natural gas or (shudder)coal plants, which would drive up carbon dioxide emissions. It’s happening in Germany, where the government decided to abandon nuclear power after the March 2011 catastrophe at Fukushima. In Vermont, where a 600-megawatt plant closed in December, carbon-free nuclear power is being replaced largely by fossil-powered electricity from the grid. Germany, ah, Deutschland. We had a good run. At its height, nuclear energy supplied about 20 percent of the country’s electricity – in the same range as in the United States - but as the article indicates, the accident in Japan flipped Prime Minister Angela Merkel from support to opposition for nuclear energy and she decided to close the remaining plants by 2022. At the same time, Germany would change over to all, or nearly all, renewable energy. Germany tends to be an all-or-nothi…

Why Should You Attend the 2015 Nuclear Energy Assembly?

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning at NEI. Matt joined us in April after 38 years at The New York Times.

Anybody who is anybody, was anybody or will be anybody in the nuclear world is likely to turn up at the Nuclear Energy Assembly. Engineers, executives, policy makers, vendors and experts from home and abroad will give presentations or listen to them, or engage in a lot of off-the-floor side conversations about what is going on in the industry, and how it fits into the larger energy world. Many of the speakers come from outside the industry.



And there will be the annual informal competition where industry veterans try to stump each other with acronyms.

Reactors are coming (Watts Bar 2, Vogtle and Summer) and going (Vermont Yankee, San Onofre and Kewaunee) and there is likely to be something interesting to be heard about all of them. The future – small modular reactors, fast reactors, and new technologies for existi…

Do Environmental Sciences Programs Have a Bias Against Nuclear Energy?

Over the course of the history of this blog, I've often written posts slugged, "Another Environmentalist for Nuclear Energy." In recent years, I've gotten out of the habit, given that when you see prominent names like James Hansen, Stuart Brand and Bill Gates all speak on behalf of the technology, that headline ought not to be a surprise any longer.

But given some reading I did earlier today, perhaps that shouldn't be the case. If the findings of a new study are accurate, academia is doing its level best to make sure the environmental professionals of tomorrow are exposed only to a narrow point of view that excludes nuclear energy from the global solutions toolbox.

Over at The Conversation, Matthew Nisbet, a professor of communications at Northeastern University, tells the story of Jacqueline Ho, an environmental studies graduate who recently conducted a study into how major colleges and university teach environmental issues.

What did she find? Apparently the r…

Investigating Terrestrial Energy's Molten Salt Reactor Design

Today, we welcome Matt Wald to NEI Nuclear Notes. Matt, who is senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning at NEI, joined us in April after 38 years at the New York Times.

Around the world, most nuclear power reactors work by splitting uranium to make heat, and using water to carry the heat away so it can be used to make electricity. The uranium is a solid, sometimes in metal form and sometimes ceramic with a metal support system. The design works well, but it dates from the 1950s, and some engineers are re-thinking the whole package.

Enter Terrestrial Energy, of Mississauga, Ontario. Its engineers say that water works fine, but they point out that at reactor temperatures, the water has to be kept under very high pressure to keep it from boiling away. That means heavy, expensive pipes and vessels, and a lot of safety systems designed to kick in if a pipe breaks. A reactor builder could avoid most of that by replacing the water with salt, melted into a liquid, to move th…

The Nuclear Imperative in Taiwan, Tennessee, and Nevada

At the Washington Post, editorial board writer Stephen Stromberg surveys the energy scene in Taiwan:Taiwan imports about 98 percent of its energy supplies, mostly the fossil fuels that keep its fluorescent streetscapes flashing and its many factories humming. The Taiwanese are against virtually every form of carbon dioxide-free energy for various reasons. A fourth reactor on the islands faced such massive protest it has never been turned on. But Stromberg is having none of it, coming to the point of his piece:Because climate change is a global problem, the choices of Germany and Japan — both of which have shut down perfectly serviceable reactors in recent years — and Taiwan as well affect the rest of us. Their greenhouse-gas emissions mix into the atmosphere just like everyone else’s. And the big danger is that these nations will encourage the international stigmatization against nuclear power, when tough-mindedness, not self-indulgence, is necessary. The global norm should be to expe…

How the House is Revving Up Nuclear Momentum

In talking about the budget for the Department of Energy and particularly its Office of Nuclear Energy, we often zero in, logically enough, on the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate. These are the committees that will ultimately determine what the budget will be.
While appropriations committees determine what money is given to various programs, authorizing committees decide the general policies and programs that Appropriators can fund. In talking about the budget for the Department of Energy and particularly the Office of Nuclear Energy, the general policies and programs are decided in the House by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
And what this committee decides show how things might go over the next year and beyond. The Science Committee members have consistently expressed a lot of interest in next-generation nuclear technology – and on a bipartisan basis.
That brings us to this amendment from Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.):
Developing an advanced rea…