Skip to main content

Council on Foreign Relations Studies Nuclear Power Expansion

nuclear-power-expansionThe nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations surveys the economic and political landscape of nuclear energy in an article, Challenges for Nuclear Power Expansion, written by Toni Johnson.
Even with these challenges, some still believe climate change policy will soon make nuclear power more competitive. James Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, said in a 2007 CFR symposium that when the life cycle cost of nuclear is accounted for, nuclear power "is still the best way to produce electricity with zero greenhouse gases from the actual operation"—even compared with energy sources such as wind. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in May 2008 that a carbon price of between $20 and $45 per ton, which many projections say is feasible, would make nuclear competitive with coal.

But other experts point to a climate change policy model (PDF) that indicates at least 700 gigawatts in additional capacity would be needed for nuclear power to make any measureable additional contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That could amount to over one thousand new reactors in the next forty years if the majority of reactors currently online need to be replaced.

Some experts believe that while daunting, it is possible to achieve that level of building even with the current lack of construction capacity. Ray Ganther of the French nuclear company Areva said in 2007 the industry managed to start building 150 nuclear reactors within a decade of inception. A 2007 report written by a number of nuclear experts concludes that to reach 700 gigawatts the industry would need to return to nuclear power's "most rapid period of growth" and sustain this rate of growth for the next fifty years (PDF).

Comments

GRLCowan said…
50 years seems like rather a long time to me.

If a nuclear plant produced liquid hydrocarbon rather than electricity, and had the same heat-to-product efficiency of 33 percent, a 1 GW(oil) plant would make 15,000 b/d. That's rather small by, for instance, marine oil production platform standards.

It is unreasonable to suppose that when ground is broken for a nuclear motor fuel plant 25 years hence, its owners will see fit to take the same very small steps into the motor fuel market as nuclear developers historically have had to take into the electricity market. Bites of 1 to 5 million barrels per day are the sort of bite they are going to want to take, if the fuel they are making is one that typically comes in barrels.

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…