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Showing posts from 2007

NEI's Nuclear Performance - November 2007

Here's a summary of U.S. nuclear plant performances last month: For November 2007, the average net capacity factor was 89.8 percent. This figure is 4.6 percentage points higher than November 2006. Monthly nuclear generation was 64.9 billion kilowatt-hours for November 2007, compared to 61.4 bkWh for November 2006. For 2007, year-to-date nuclear generation was 734.8 billion kilowatt-hours, compared to 716.7 bkWh in 2006 (2.5 percent increase) and 719.9 bkWh in the record year of 2004. It is fairly certain 2007 nuclear generation will break the 2004 record. With one month left, we project 2007 nuclear generation will end the year at slightly over 800 bkWh. In 2004, nuclear generation was 789.5 bkWh. Fleet generation in 2007 benefited from the return of Browns Ferry 1 in May and a lower number of refueling outages this year. Browns Ferry 1, which returned to operating status in May 2007, is projected to add roughly 4.4 bkWh to the fleet's generation by year's end. In 2007,

NEI's Energy Markets Report - December 10 - December 14, 2007

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week: Electricity peak prices increased at all hubs except for PJM West. The NEPOOL hub rose another $11/MWh due to the wintry temperatures over the past two weeks. The PJM West hub fell $17/MWh after season temperatures returned to normal. The other four hubs modestly increased between $0.26-$9/MWh (Platts, see pages 1 and 3). Gas prices at the Henry Hub decreased $0.06 to $7.13/MMBtu. Gas futures prices for January 2008 averaged $7.15/MMBtu. EIA forecasts gas prices at $8.04/MMBtu for January 2008 (see pages 1 and 3). Estimated nuclear plant availability rose to 95 percent last week. Pilgrim was at zero percent power for two days. Only four reactors remain in refueling outages (see pages 2 and 4). Crude oil prices fell nearly $4 to $88.71/barrel (see pages 1 and 3). Residential heating oil prices resumed their upward course for the season and reached a new record high during the period ending December 17, 2007. The a

Despite Opposition to Yucca, Reid is "Cool with Nukes"

From : Senator Harry Reid - “If I have a choice between coal and nuclear, it’s an easy choice to make,” Reid said. Reid says he prefers renewable alternatives to coal rather than nuclear, and he’s skeptical of federal subsidies for the nuclear power industry. But between coal and nuclear, his choice is nuclear. That's great to hear. Since we now have a Democratic Congress (which probably won't change for awhile) it is important for the Democratic leaders to recognize the benefits of nuclear power. You can't get much higher than the Senate's Majority Leader.

Loan Guarantees for New Nuclear Could Total $20.5B

That's what the Washington Post is reporting : The report on the omnibus bill says the Energy Department should guarantee, among other things, $18.5 billion in loans for new nuclear plants, $10 billion for renewable energy and efficiency, $6 billion for carbon capture at coal plants and $2 billion for uranium enrichment. The $18.5B would go towards the construction of potentially 3-5 new nuclear plants. Keep in mind, though, this is not actual money the industry is receiving. The monies are a "guarantee" the bankers (the ones who provide the loans for a new plant) receive their payments in case an electric company defaults on a new nuclear plant. Critics, though, don't seem to understand how the loan guarantee program works: But Peter Bradford, a policy adviser and former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that the fees are "a pittance compared to the taxpayer exposure" and that "scoring the loan guarantees at zero is financial chicanery

EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2008

The Energy Information Administration last Wednesday released it's AEO 2008 Overview (pdf). This is a preview to an annual report (due out in February) which studies and forecasts the energy supply and demand fundamentals out to 2030. Questions they attempt to answer each year are: how much energy will the U.S. be consuming in the future? how fast will the U.S. GDP grow? will renewables have an increased role to play? what happens to fossil fuels? etc. One of the topics NEI pays close attention to, of course, is the role EIA sees nuclear power playing over the next several decades. According to the report, by 2030, 20 GW of new nuclear capacity are projected to be built as well as 2.7 GW in uprates and 4.5 GW in retirements. Total nuclear capacity in 2030 is projected to increase to 118.8 GW from today's 100.3 GW. This year's nuclear projection is a step up from last year's report which forecasted nuclear will only increase to 112.6 GW by 2030. Prior to 2006, nucl

Duke Energy Submits COL Application

From Duke Energy : Duke Energy today submitted a combined construction and operating license (COL) application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a proposed two-unit nuclear station in Cherokee County, S.C. ... Duke Energy Carolinas’ resource needs are expected to increase by 10,700 megawatts by 2027. The proposed two-unit William States Lee III Nuclear Station will have a capacity of 2,234 megawatts. ... Duke Energy is the fourth company to submit a COL application to the NRC under the revised licensing process, and the first to submit an application for a greenfield site. The Duke Energy application uses TVA’s Bellefonte COL application as the Westinghouse AP1000 reference application. Congratulations. The Carolinas' population is projected to increase by about 4.5 million people by 2030 (Table 6). The Southern states will definitely be needing a substantial amount of power especially in the Carolinas, Florida and Georgia region.

NEI's Energy Markets Report - December 3 - December 7, 2007

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week: Electricity peak prices varied across the country last week. The NEPOOL and PJM West hubs rose $34-40/MWh due to unseasonably cold temperatures. The ERCOT and Entergy hubs increased only $4-6/MWh and the Palo Verde and SP 15 hubs fell $4-7/MWh (Platts, see pages 1 and 3). Gas prices at the Henry Hub increased only one cent to $7.19/MMBtu. Colder temperatures and greater electricity demand kept prices nearly static at the Henry Hub last week (EIA, see pages 1 and 3). Estimated nuclear plant availability rose to 93 percent last week. One reactor finished a refueling outage, and two reactors finished maintenance outages (see pages 2 and 4). By 2011, the following amounts of new generating capacity are expected to start up: 26,000 MW of coal; 52,000 MW of natural gas; and 39,000 MW of wind (see page 5). EIA’s Short Term Energy Outlook (see pages 2 and 5) Total U.S. electricity consumption in 2007 is projected to inc

On Chalk River

For the most part, we concentrate on the news coming out of the commercial nuclear energy industry, but there's an incredibly important story affecting nuclear medicine taking place right now in Canada. Click here and here for coverage from We Support Lee on the events at the National Universal Research reactor at Chalk River. For a basic overview of the medical and research applications of nuclear energy, click here .

Dispelling Myths About Nuclear Energy and Total Lifecycle Emissions. Again.

Once again, the global anti-nuclear lobby has found a reporter willing to parrot its lies and distortions regarding nuclear energy and CO2 emissions. Stepping to the plate this time is Reuters reporter Nick Trevethan : Nuclear power's claim to be the answer to global warming is being questioned by reports suggesting mining and processing of uranium is carbon intensive. While nuclear power produces only one 50th of the carbon produced by many fossil fuels, its carbon footprint is rising, making wind power and other renewable energies increasingly attractive, according to environmental groups and some official reports. [...] "Nuclear is a climate change red herring," said Ben Ayliffe, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace. "There are safer, more reliable alternatives, like energy efficiency and renewables as part of a super-efficient decentralised energy system." What an utter hunk of baloney. Rather than explain things in detail again, here are t

Bob Geldof: "To really help the planet, we have to go nuclear, fast."

Over in the U.K., former rocker Bob Geldof isn't shying away from sporting his pro-nuclear energy credentials at a blog sponsored by Lexus on hybrid vehicles . From The Guardian : Luxury car maker Lexus may have got more than it bargained for when it signed up Bob Geldof to take part in a blog debate about the green credentials of its hybrid models. Geldof, as well as talking about hybrid cars, airs his views on climate change, branding renewable energy initiatives such as wind farms "Mickey Mouse" and insisting "to really help the planet, we have to go nuclear, fast". [...] On the wider question of making an impact on climate change he said: "We may mess around with wind and waves and other renewable energy sources, trying to make them sustainable, but they're not. They're Mickey Mouse ... but to really help the planet, we have to go nuclear, fast." Geldof added: "In the UK, we'll soon have to scramble for more nuclear power. On

GE Hitachi Signs Deal with Exelon

From the AP : GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy said Tuesday it has received a tentative multimillion-dollar order from power plant operator Exelon Corp. to provide parts for two possible nuclear reactors. The deal for steam turbine generators and other components depends on whether Exelon's nuclear division decides to continue with plans for a plant in Texas. GE Hitachi said Exelon needs to have plans in place ahead of time to make sure the parts are available. And the hits keep on coming.

John McCain on the Stump on Nuclear Energy

From the AP : Republican presidential hopeful John McCain says the United States needs to reduce its dependence on troubled parts of the world for oil. McCain told about 200 people at the Center for Hydrogen Research in Aiken Monday the United States should look to hydrogen and nuclear power as alternatives. The Arizona senator says more nuclear power has been stymied by politics. He says an endless political fight over the storage of old nuclear fuel has made it virtually impossible to build a new plant. McCain called nuclear energy safe and non-polluting.

Nuclear Energy Means 350 Jobs for Chattanooga

From Reuters : French industrial power and transport systems group Alstom (ALSO.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) on Tuesday said it would invest over $200 million to build a new manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States. The site will manufacture steam turbines, gas turbines, generators and related equipment for use in U.S. power generation facilities and create 350 jobs at a time that the dollar/euro exchange rate makes it more attractive for European groups to produce in North America. Alstom will be manufacturing those components for UniStar .

Moore Piece Sparks Debate Down Under

In yesterday's edition of The Melbourne Age , Dr. Patrick Moore called on his old compatriots at Greenpeace to drop their long-standing opposition to nuclear power in light of the threat posed by climate change. In response, Australian columnist Andrew Bolt is hosting quite a debate over at the Herald Sun . Check it out.

State Approves FP&L Uprate Plan

From the Palm Beach Post : Florida Power & Light Co. got approval from utility regulators Monday to add more nuclear power to the electricity grid. FPL will do so by upgrading each of its four nuclear reactors: two at the St. Lucie plant on Hutchinson Island and two at the Turkey Point plant near Miami. The move would add 414 megawatts of power between 2011 and 2012. The Florida Public Service Commission unanimously signed off on FPL's proposal without taking testimony Monday morning. Something to keep in mind the next time your hear an anti-nuke say nuclear capacity can't be added quickly enough to make a difference. For more information on power uprates in the American nuclear energy industry, click here .

When it Comes to Indian Point, Think Before You Leap

As we're all aware, a bevy of local and state politicians in New York have jumped on the anti-Indian Point bandwagon . But for Westchester County resident Peter Applebome, the answers to questions about energy and the environment aren't so obvious : [C]losing Indian Point raises its share of vexing questions. For starters: Is New York prepared to increase carbon emissions and perhaps flunk its goals under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to close Indian Point? In whose neighborhoods in Westchester or Rockland Counties is it prepared to build the power plants that would replace it? Is the possibility of more expensive and less reliable electricity an acceptable trade-off for not having to worry about Indian Point? If Indian Point poses an unacceptable risk, shouldn’t the dozens of nuclear plants in metropolitan areas around the country and the world close as well? And we’re comfortable with those carbon trade-offs too? In the end, they come down to this: Do the forever-

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

After reading an article about Gwyneth Cravens and her public about face on nuclear energy, Glenn Reynolds had this to say: Just think how much better-off the planet would be if people had been smart enough to ignore the no-nukes crowd 30 years ago. Indeed, just imagine.

Please Build that Nuclear Power Plant Here

That's the message the folks in Matagorda County, Texas are trying to send to Exelon : Matagorda County officials are stepping up their efforts to inform Exelon Nuclear of the county’s positive attributes and why it is a better fit for the new nuclear power plant than the company’s alternative site near Victoria. Recent news that Victoria County has formed “Team Exelon,” a group of representatives from the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, Victoria County, City of Victoria and the Victoria Economic Development Corporation, to tout Victoria County has prompted local officials to reconsider their actions, said County Judge Nate McDonald. Victoria County is “treating this project just like we would treat any industrial project, to make sure our community attributes are highlighted,” said Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corporation in a telephone interview. “We’re pretty aggressive about getting in front of industry and talking about what this county has

Wired News on Gwyneth Cravens

In the midst of promoting her new book, The Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy , Gwyneth Cravens sat down for an interview with Wired News ... WN: You have an interesting statistic comparing the waste levels produced by individuals over a lifetime. Cravens: A family in four in France, where they reprocess nuclear fuel, would produce only enough waste to fit in a coffee cup over a whole lifetime. A lifetime of getting all your electricity from coal-fired plants would make a single person's share of solid waste (in the United States) 68 tons, which would require six 12-ton railroad cars to haul away. Your share of CO2 would be 77 tons. Wow. Very neat. For our entire archive of entries on Cravens, click here .

NEI's Energy Markets Report - November 26 - November 30, 2007

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week: Electricity peak prices soared with price increases ranging from $10-21/MWh. A cold snap throughout the country last week helped send prices back to the average norms from the depressed prices two weeks ago (Platts, see pages 1 and 3). Gas prices at the Henry Hub increased from $6.96/MMBtu to $7.18/MMBtu. Colder temperatures were also considered the reason for the price increases at the Henry hub last week (EIA, see pages 1 and 3). Estimated nuclear plant availability remained at 92 percent last week. One reactor finished a refueling outage, one reactor began refueling and three reactors were down for maintenance (see pages 2 and 4). Uranium spot prices remained unchanged for the third week in a row at $93/lb U3O8 according to TradeTech and UxConsulting (see pages 1 and 3). Crude oil prices rose more than $4/barrel to $97.93/barrel. Looking ahead into 2008, both crude prices and refinery constraints should ease s

Defending Indian Point

From : The future of Indian Point is scheduled to be the topic on Journal News/ columnist Phil Reisman's radio show today at noon on WVOX 1460 AM . Reisman's show, "High Noon," airs from noon to 1 p.m. every Thursday. Listen online at or check back at during the show for a link. Federal officials are preparing to review a request to extend the operation of the nuclear power plants in Buchanan for an additional 20 years beyond their current license expiration dates of 2013 and 2015. To listen, click here , and then click the Listen Live button in the upper left hand corner of the Web page. If you'd like to participate, call the studio line at 914-636-0110.

Dispelling Myths About Nuclear Energy

Over at the Heritage Foundation, Jack Spencer and Nick Loris wrote an excellent nuclear myth-busting piece on topics about proliferation, terrorism, waste, lifecycle emissions, and economics just to name a few. Enjoy. MYTH: There is no solution to the problem of nuclear waste. FACT: The nuclear industry solved the nuclear waste problem decades ago. Spent nuclear fuel can be removed from the reac­tor, reprocessed to separate unused fuel, and then used again. The remaining waste could then be placed in either interim or long-term storage, such as in the Yucca Mountain repository. France and other countries carry out some version of this pro­cess safely every day. Furthermore, technology ad­vances could yield greater efficiencies and improve the process. The argument that there is no solution to the waste problem is simply wrong. ... MYTH: Incidents at Davis-Besse, Vermont Yankee, and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa demonstrate that continued use of nuclear power will lead to another Chernobyl.

Environmentalists Mobilize to Stop Texas Wind Farm

In New York, they want to shut down a nuclear power plant . In Texas, they want to stop a wind farm dead in its tracks : The famed King Ranch and a coalition of environmental groups sued Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson in federal court Tuesday, seeking to require extensive environmental review and public comment on two planned wind power projects along the Gulf Coast in Kenedy County. The coalition, the Coastal Habitat Alliance, also sued over the wind project in state District Court in Travis County. That suit claims that the state's Public Utility Commission illegally denied the alliance's request to participate in permit hearings for the wind project's transmission line. The lawsuits threaten to delay or stop the two massive wind projects, which could place more than 600 turbines on 60,000 acres near Laguna Madre, south of Corpus Christi. Part of the wind projects would place about 250 turbines just east of a portion of the sprawling King Ranch.

John McCain on Nuclear Energy and Yucca Mountain

Senator John McCain is on the campaign trail in New Hampshire talking about energy and the environment : A key way to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, he said, would be to increase the use of nuclear power. When asked after the forum how he proposed to dispose of high level nuclear waste, McCain said, "My preference is that we store it. I always thought that Yucca Mountain was the right place to do it." "It's not a problem of technology. It's a problem of political will. We have now the worst of all worlds, because we have nuclear waste sites around every nuclear power plant in America, which provides us with the greatest challenge to our security," he said. "So I would try and resolve it and I would try to go back and revisit the Yucca Mountain issue, but I would do everything in my power to resolve it." The Senator has been pretty consistent on this issue for some time now:

Czech President Klaus on Nuclear Energy

From : Prague- The dream of endless lowering of energy consumption is nonsense and this should be said aloud, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said at the reopening of the VR-1 training reactor at Czech Technical University (CVUT) today. "I cannot imagine the development of this country without nuclear energy," Klaus said. Klaus said he considered it his duty to contribute with all of his forces to place the heated debate over atomic energy back from the heaven to the earth. No economic development will be possible without energy, he added.

Spitzer, Cuomo Rachet Up Fight on Indian Point

From the New York Sun : To the alarm of business and energy groups, the Spitzer administration is cranking up its effort to shut down the Indian Point nuclear reactors by demanding that the federal government reject the plant's license renewal application because of safety reasons. Governor Spitzer, along with Attorney General Cuomo, yesterday submitted a petition to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission claiming that the Hudson River plant is too old and susceptible to terrorist attacks and natural disasters to be granted a 20-year extension of its license. "The presence of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in our midst is untenable," the petition states. The legal filing is the governor's most significant action against the plant since taking office, and the latest sign of a political shift among local government officials toward shutting it down. Here's the official NEI response from CNO Marv Fertel: “The position taken today by the governor and the attorney

On Ireland and Uranium Mining

Ireland's minister of energy and natural resources is working to shut down potential uranium mining there , saying it would be hypocritical for a country that doesn't use nuclear power to do so. Dave's Rants responds with some inconvenient truths.

Water Consumption and Nuclear Power Plants

Over the past few weeks, we've seen a lot of stories concerning water consumption and nuclear power plants , which means plenty of anti-nukes are trying to take advantage by spreading plenty of FUD about the issue. To get the real deal on what's going on, check out this fact sheet NEI recently published on the topic : According to the U.S. Geological Survey, thermoelectric power generation accounts for only 3.3 percent of freshwater consumption in this country, the same percentage as industrial use and raising livestock. Residential use accounts for 7.1 percent of water consumption, while commercial use and mining are the least at 1.2 percent each. The largest consumption of water is for irrigation, at 80.6 percent. Keep those numbers in mind.

Congressman Ron Paul on Nuclear Energy

Outside , Grist and Salon are continuing their interviews with Presidential candidates on environmental issues, and today they ran a piece on Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tx.) : What's your take on nuclear? I think nuclear is great. I think it's the safest form of energy we have. Click here for a previous post on Paul.

Natural Gas Crisis Ahead in Massachusetts?

Dr. Gilbert Brown from South Coast Today (Mass.): Here in Massachusetts, natural gas plants account for roughly half of our electricity generation. Disruptions in the supply of natural gas would have a significant impact on electricity availability, and no plans are under way to provide an alternative source of base load power. Although there are plans to build gas turbines and wind mills, they will not eliminate the need for power plants that reliably provide large amounts of electricity. Coal is not an option due to environmental challenges. The best option is nuclear power, which produces electricity without polluting the air or emitting greenhouse gases. That's an option worth considering not only in Massachusetts but elsewhere in New England. This isn't the first time we've noted this issue in this region. Click here for more.

NRC Accepts STP's New Reactor Application

From NRC : The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for review a combined license (COL) application for two new reactors at the South Texas Project site near Bay City, Texas. The agency is seeking more information, however, before it establishes a complete technical review schedule for the application. This is the first COL application the agency has accepted for review. “We have what we need to open a file, or ‘docket,’ on this application, and we’ll start analyzing those pieces that have enough detail to review properly,” said Bill Borchardt, Director of the NRC’s Office of New Reactors. “We’ve also listed those areas where the applicants, NRG Energy and South Texas Project, will have to give us more detailed information.” The companies submitted the application and associated information Sept. 24. The NRC’s acceptance letter, as well as the application’s public version (minus proprietary or security-related details), will be available on the NRC Web site here: http://www.nrc

Investors seem pleased with Dominion

In the latest in a series of announcements and newsworthy events , Dominion (NYSE: D ) seems to be steadily on track to bringing high-tech, low-emission energy to Virginia. In a press conference held at Dominion's headquarters in Richmond, Virginia yesterday, Dominion CEO Tom Farrell announced, "Dominion has taken an important step to meet Virginia's future energy needs while simultaneously protecting the environment.” And according to Dave Christian, President and Chief Nuclear Officer, "It's good news for our company, good news for Virginia, and good news for our country." Good news, indeed! Despite antinuclear predictions to the contrary on February 17, 2005, Dominion stock seems to be performing rather favorably. And, if investors are leery of new nuclear, then it certainly doesn't show up in the stock price. I'm trying to imagine what form future predictions may take... "When large parts for a new reactor are orde..." Oh, sor

NEI's Nuclear Performance - October 2007

Here's a summary of U.S. nuclear plant performances last month: For October 2007, the average net capacity factor was 82.3 percent. This figure is 5.1 percentage points higher than the same one-month period in 2006. Monthly nuclear generation was 61.4 billion kilowatt-hours for October 2007, compared to 57.5 bkWh for the same one-month period in 2006. For 2007, year-to-date nuclear generation was 670.5 billion kilowatt-hours, compared to 655.4 bkWh in 2006 (2.3 percent increase) and 660.0 bkWh in the record year of 2004. As of November 28, 2007, six reactors were in refueling outages and 15 were completed for the Fall 2007 season. At the same time last year, eight reactors were in refueling outages and 23 reactors had completed outages for the Fall 2006 season. Final 2006 data showed nuclear power in the U.S. accounted for 70.8 percent of the generation from emission-free sources of energy. Hydro accounted for 25.4 percent; wind, 2.3 percent; geothermal, 1.3 percent; and solar,

Dominion's Press Conference about its COLA

Dang it, one expected special guest wasn't able to attend the press conference but maybe he/she will have a statement. I was looking forward to it. Regardless, my colleagues and I are pleased as punch that Dominion is maintaining a leadership position in the nuclear industry by submitting a full COL application for a third unit at the North Anna site. (Lisa's 401k watch--at last check D stock was up $0.63.) And while Dominion's CEO Tom Farrell said that getting the licenses does not obligate the company to build NAPS 3 it is clear from many of his other statements that he believes that it is likely that all of the variables will come together in such a way that it will make sense for the company and its customers to go ahead and build. For instance, he mentioned that in the next decade demand in Virginia will increase by at least 4000 MW and that the need must be supplied by a combination of conservation and efficiency, advanced technologies and reliable baseload. He al

NEI's Energy Markets Report - November 19 - November 23, 2007

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week: Electricity peak prices decreased $3-13/MWh at all hubs except for PJM West (no trading occurred there). The holiday week and mild weather were seen as the factors in the decline in spot prices. Entergy and ERCOT decreased by more than $10/MWh with ERCOT falling to its lowest price over the last 52 weeks (Platts, see pages 1 and 3). Gas prices at the Henry Hub fell from $7.07/MMBtu to $6.96/MMBtu. NYMEX futures fell to $7.60/MMBtu from $7.89/MMBtu for December 2007 (see pages 1 and 3). Estimated nuclear plant availability rose to 92 percent last week. Two reactors finished refueling outages and no reactors were in maintenance outages (see pages 2 and 4). Uranium spot prices remained at $93/lb U3O8 according to TradeTech and UxConsulting (see pages 1 and 3). Crude oil prices fell to $93.56/barrel. EIA attributes high oil prices to a strong global oil demand growth combined with moderate supply growth and low spare

MOX Progress, plus Inconsistency from UCS

Nuclear disarmament took a big step forward on Monday, when the U.S. and Russia announced a new agreement on disposition of surplus plutonium. Each country had previously agreed to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium by using it in mixed-oxide (plutonium-uranium) fuel, also known as MOX, but there were disagreements on how to do it. Monday's agreement notes that the U.S. will use the plutonium in light-water reactors, whereas Russia will use it in fast-spectrum reactors. The distinction may seem slight, but it had been a significant point of contention. The agreement clears the way for removing a significant amount of weapons-grade material. You might think that such news would meet with hearty and uniform approbation, but it did not, particularly at the Union of Concerned Scientists . This time, their "concern" is about the BN-600 and BN-800 reactors that the Russians plan to use. As reported by Newsday , Ed Lyman, nuclear weapons exper

NEI's Energy Markets Report - November 12 - November 16, 2007

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week: Electricity peak prices decreased $2-11/MWh at all hubs except for PJM West, which increased due to below normal temperatures. Mild weather contributed to the $7-10/MWh decline at the Palo Verde and SP 15 hubs (Platts, see pages 1 and 3). Gas prices at the Henry Hub rose from $6.90/MMBtu to $7.07/MMBtu. This is the first time in 21 weeks (week of June 25) the average weekly price of gas exceeded $7/MMBtu. NYMEX futures and EIA forecasts indicate gas prices will hover around $8/MMBtu for December 2007 (see pages 1 and 3). Estimated nuclear plant availability rose to 87 percent last week. Four reactors finished refueling outages and four reactors finished maintenance outages (see pages 2 and 4). Uranium spot prices were $93/lb U3O8 according to TradeTech and UxConsulting. Prices are expected to remain at or around this level over the next month. After summer, the late November to end of December time period is the s

Giving credit to the Antis

It was a cold day in February, 2005, during the NRC public meeting for North Anna's Early Site Permit. One antinuclear sage in attendance had the proverbial "good news" and "bad news" for the shareholders of Dominion. The good news was that the Dominion would never build a new nuclear power plant at North Anna, the bad news was that it was going to cost the shareholders a lot of money in the process. Another antinuclear prognosticator added, "Dominion does not even know the reactor design it wants to build. Why? Because the minute they mention that they have a reactor design, Wall Street will think it's an intent to construct, and they will short your stock." And, as if these antis were descended from old Nostradamus himself, a strange thing happened today, November 20, 2007. Just take a gander at this headline: Dominion Hails Approval of Early Site Permit for North Anna Power Station And sure enough, as I write this, Dominion shares (NY

World Energy Outlook 2007 Report

The International Energy Agency released its World Energy Outlook 2007 report last week (purchase required). According to the web page : The annual World Energy Outlook is the leading source for medium to long-term energy market projections and analysis and has achieved widespread international recognition. It is the flagship publication of the International Energy Agency. Last Friday I attended IEA’s Executive Director’s and Chief Economist’s presentation on the Outlook here in DC. Needless to say, their assessment of global energy to 2030 kept me tuned in as each point made was intriguing and sobering. Below are some highlights. The report analyzed three energy scenarios for the world’s demands: a reference, an alternative policy, and a 450 stabilization case. The reference scenario is what happens if the world continues down its current path of energy consumption without any “new energy-policy interventions.” By not changing our current trajectory, we can ex

The Heritage Foundation on Nuclear Energy

Jack Spencer of the Heritage Foundation has published a pair of papers that should make your reading list. First, read Congress Should Not Overlook Benefits of Nuclear Energy , then take a look at Competitive Nuclear Energy Investment: Avoiding Past Policy Mistakes . Thanks to Rod Adams for the pointers.

CFR Discussion on Nuclear Energy and Climate Change

Last week, the Council on Foreign Relations sponsored an online discussion on nuclear energy and climate change between NEI's Steve Kerekes and Michael Mariotte of NIRS. To say the least, I think Steve got the better of the exchange, but I'll let our readers decide for themselves. Click here to read it right now.

UniStar Moves Ahead on Calvert Cliffs Project

Off the wire : UniStar Nuclear Energy (UNE), a joint venture between Constellation Energy and The EDF Group (EDF), has submitted an application to the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for the potential construction of a new nuclear unit at Constellation Energy's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Southern Maryland. While UNE has not made a final decision to build this new advanced-design reactor at Calvert Cliffs, it has submitted the CPCN to the PSC as a step toward potential construction of a non-greenhouse gas emitting, base-load, 1,600-megawatt generating facility to meet increasing energy demand in the Mid-Atlantic region, and in particular, the state of Maryland. "A third reactor at our high-performing Calvert Cliffs site offers the potential for an economic and environmentally sound means to provide additional base-load electricity to meet anticipated growth, both regionally and within the state o

NEI's Energy Markets Report - November 5 - November 9, 2007

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week: Electricity peak prices increased $2-9/MWh at the Eastern hubs and decreased $3-5/MWh at the Western hubs (see pages 1 and 3). Gas prices at the Henry Hub rose from $6.81/MMBtu to $6.90/MMBtu. Working gas in storage reached a record level for the second week in a row with 3,545 Bcf as of Friday, November 2. Factors contributing to the large volume in storage include improved supply and favorable economics. The 3,545 Bcf is 8.9 percent above the 5-year average inventory level for the report week (EIA, see pages 1 and 3). By 2011, the following amounts of new generating capacity are expected to start up: 29,000 MW of coal; 47,000 MW of natural gas; and 37,000 MW of wind (see page 5). Estimated nuclear plant availability remained at 83 percent last week. Two reactors finished refueling outages while four reactors shut down for maintenance (see pages 2 and 4). Uranium spot prices were $93 and $92/lb U3O8 according to

French Nuclear Phase-Out?

France's anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucleaire claims the country can phase-out all of its nuclear plants in five to ten years (in French). Here is World Nuclear News' take : The pressure group's recently published 100-page report, Nucleaire: Comment en sortir? , presents a highly detailed plan of far-reaching energy saving measures that it says could enable the country that famously relies on nuclear power plants for 78% of its electricity to close them all down. It then advocates an energy efficient vision of France which uses other generation options - including fossil fuels. The group's vision of electricity generation in a nuclear-free France relies chiefly on wind power, with aims to build 11.8 GWe of terrestrial wind power and 10 GWe of maritime wind power facilities in five years, rising to 24.3 GWe and 15 GWe respectively in ten years. At present France has only 2 GWe of wind powered generation, although the report points to Germany's current example of

Longing for France's Nuclear Electricity

Following a press conference announcing GM's new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, a blogger from AUTOSAVANT was able to ask GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz a couple of questions. The following exchange caught my eye: I’m sure you’re familiar with the report from the Department of Energy that stated that the existing utility grid in the U.S. could accommodate approximately 140 million plug-in hybrids right now (our reporter was dizzy from all the new iron around him - the actual number stated by the DOE in the report was 180 million). Has GM been in contact with the DOE or any of the utility companies regarding this conclusion? No, although our research gives a smaller number than the DOE report, but it’s still a pretty big number. That’s the great thing about the Volt or an EV, it runs on something that is cheap and readily available in this country, doesn’t require pumps, pipelines, you know? It’s an even better situation in other countries like France; they have nuclear power that

An Interview With a Nuclear Engineer

PayScale talks to Michael Flagg. He's got some interesting insights for anyone who's thinking about a career as a nuclear engineer. Also, be sure to check out Michael's blog, FutureJacked . UPDATE : More on staffing issues in the nuclear industry from Advanced Nanotechnology .

On the Incident at Pelindaba

By now I'm sure many of you have read the disturbing news coming out of South Africa concerning the incident at Pelindaba . For a solid roundup of all the events, click here . Thankfully, the NRC is ever vigilant about plant security here in the U.S.

Yucca Mountain and Presidential Politics

Betsy Newmark is taking a look at the effect that moving Nevada up on the presidential primary calendar is having on policymaking and Yucca Mountain, and she doesn't like what she sees: Policy-making is about tough choices. If the choices were easy, they'd already have been made. But our system will become even more messed up when we let the political calendar determine a position on an important policy issue. I've become very sick of seeing politicians supporting ethanol subsidies simply because of Iowa's status as the first state to hold a vote for the presidential nominations. Now we're seeing the effect of pushing Nevada up.

NEI's Energy Markets Report - October 29 - November 2, 2007

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week: Electricity peak prices moved modestly last week (see pages 1 and 3). Total electricity consumption for 2007 is projected to average 10.7 billion kilowatthours per day, 2.1 percent above last year’s consumption (EIA STEO, see pages 2 and 5). Gas prices at the Henry Hub rose from $6.55/MMBtu to $6.81/MMBtu. Colder weather is considered the cause for increasing gas prices for the week (EIA, see pages 1 and 3). A new report from EIA stated that U.S. natural gas proved reserves increased 3 percent in 2006, rising to over 211 trillion cubic feet, the highest level since 1976. Estimated nuclear plant availability remained at 83 percent last week with three more reactors beginning refueling outages. FitzPatrick was down briefly due to algae accumulating at the plant’s cooling water intake (see pages 2 and 4). Uranium spot prices rose to $93 and $90/lb U3O8 according to TradeTech and UxConsulting. TradeTech noted that th

California Sues EPA Over Auto Emissions

From the AP : SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California sued the federal government on Thursday to force a decision about whether the state can impose the nation's first greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and light trucks. More than a dozen other states are poised to follow California's lead if it is granted the waiver from federal law, presenting a challenge to automakers who would have to adapt to a patchwork of regulations. The state's lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., was expected after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed last spring to take legal action. "Our future depends on us taking action on global warming right now," Schwarzenegger said during a news conference. "There's no legal basis for Washington to stand in our way." At issue is California's nearly two-year-old request for a waiver under the federal Clean Air Act allowing it to implement a 2002 state anti-pol

Bruce Power Chief: No Free Lunch on Electric Power

From The Record (Ontario, Canada): Alternative energy sources may have a role to play, but Ontarians should not expect them to replace nuclear power as the province's main source of electricity, the chief executive of Bruce Power told local Rotarians yesterday. When surveyed, most people say they prefer wind, solar or hydroelectric power over nuclear energy because they think energy from renewable sources is "free," Duncan Hawthorne said. "That's fair, except I can qualify them all with one word: 'Sometimes,' " he said. "Because sometimes the sun shines, sometimes the wind blows and sometimes the rain falls. We need energy on a stable basis." "It's not reasonable to build a developed society out of any of those three things," he said. I first heard Hawthorne speak at a Platts conference in 2005. Bruce is lucky to have him.

China Rejects Binding Emissions Limits

From the AP : BEIJING,: China will reject any agreement that calls for binding limits on carbon dioxide emissions that will replace the Kyoto Protocol, an EU official said Wednesday. Guido Sacconi, chairman of a visiting European Parliament delegation, said that was the impression he got after three days of talks in Beijing with government and environmental officials. "In the private meetings we have had, particularly with Chinese politicians, there were of course some differences of opinion," Sacconi, who heads the European Parliament's Temporary Committee on Climate Change, told a news conference. "The main difference is, unlike the European Parliament or the European Union, the Chinese believe that it will not be possible, in the agreement which follows the Kyoto Protocol, for China to accept any binding obligations — this was one difference between us."