Skip to main content

Getting Up to Speed on Nuclear Issues

home_branding_logo We don’t normally point you to NEI’s content because we assume you know it’s there and will go there – as well as to the NRC, ANS and other such worthy organizations – for all your nuclear knowledge needs. However, with energy issues heating up (so to speak), NEI has been busily putting together some information that wraps some good facts into handy little reference pieces.

For example:

New Nuclear Plants: An Engine for Job Creation, Economic Growth iterates points we make here frequently: that building new plants is an engine for employment, both directly and for allied industries (such as parts manufacturing) and for communities that surround a new plant. It all comes down to this:

Absent investment stimulus, the current pace of job creation will slow and the prospect of tens of thousands of new U.S. jobs could recede into the distant future or disappear completely.

That about gets it.

And about those allied jobs that support new plants? New Nuclear Plants Create Opportunities to Expand US Manufacturing, Create Jobs discusses it in detail:

Deployment of new nuclear power plants in the numbers necessary to reduce carbon emissions depends on a robust supply chain of nuclear manufacturers. Construction of new nuclear plants requires hundreds of components and subcomponents, which in turn requires a deep and diverse supplier base.

And although it would be wildly presumptuous to suggest that a nuclear renaissance could spur a revival of the U.S. manufacturing base, it certainly will provide numerous manufacturing opportunities:

Today, U.S. manufacturers of components for new nuclear power plants and fuel cycle facilities are adding to design and engineering staff, expanding their capability to manufacture nuclear-grade components, and building new manufacturing facilities in preparation for new reactor construction in the U.S. and abroad.

And that’s only up to now.

Finally, what are the measurable benefits of a nuclear plant build out? The Economic Benefits of New Nuclear Power Plant Development provides a lot of interesting numbers (and links so you can double-check them):

For every MWh generated by a coal plant, one metric ton of CO2 is produced. For every MWh generated by a gas plant, one-half of a metric ton of CO2 is produced. According to the previous calculation above, 64,000 MW would generate 505 bkWh which therefore equates to avoiding 505 million metric tons of CO2 if the 46 new reactors replaced all coal plants or avoiding 252 million metric tons of CO2 if the 46 new reactors replaced all gas plants. According to the EPA, the average passenger car emits 5.2 metric tons of CO2 each year. 505 mmt of CO2 is equivalent to the emissions of 97 million passenger cars. 252 mmt of CO2 is equivalent to the emissions of 49 million passenger cars.

Well, you get the idea. Do take a look at these papers.

Especially with a major speech on energy from President Obama coming up tomorrow – and we’ve noted with interest some of the more overtly positive things he’s been saying about nuclear energy lately – we expect nuclear energy, along with renewable energy sources and coal, to take a key role in the upcoming consideration of the Senate climate change bill.  These papers are a great way to get up to speed on some of the issues.

Comments

Bill said…
"505 bkWh"

Blech. A billion thousand is a trillion (tera-):
'505 TW·h'.

[/pedant]
Brian Mays said…
Bill - If you're familiar with traditional engineering practices in the US, then you should be relieved that these numbers are at least expressed in SI units instead of units based on British measures. Otherwise, the numbers would be in "trillions of BTU" or "quads."

By the way, if you're going to be pedantic, then why did you pick on one unit and not another? Shouldn't "million metric tons" be expressed as either megatonnes (Mt) or teragrams (Tg)? After all, a "billion thousand" is also a "million thousand thousand."

Popular posts from this blog

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…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

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…