Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Another Engineer for Nuclear Energy

After reading about how cooking fires fueled by wood are contributing mightily to global warming, Responsible Nanotechnology had this to say:

It's ironic, isn't it, that easy answers like 'no nukes' and 'comforting wood fires' don't always make sense in the real world. In fact, building more modern nuclear power plants might be a sensible replacement for fossil fuels.
Be sure to visit the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Path is the Happiness.

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SEJ Followup

Some bloggers from the Competitive Enterprise Institute were at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Vermont last week, and they took a look at some of the booth displays:

Next up are the companies represented by the Nuclear Energy Institute, which have been hoping for a while that global warming would be their savior. After all, atomic energy doesn’t generate greenhouse gases. As NEI’s own material puts it, “We need more electricity and we want clean air. With nuclear energy, we can have both.” Unfortunately, many of the same people doing climate change advocacy work today are the same ones who staffed the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s and 80s. Global warming may be “the greatest threat facing mankind,” but that doesn’t mean the environmental movement is going to embrace nuclear. It’s just not a position an ideological fashionable person takes.

NEI’s table giveaways are among the best. You’ve got a “Nuclear: The clean air technology” luggage tag, a small coaster/miniature mouse pad, a pen, and a pellet of uranium. Well, it’s just a “simulated fuel pellet,” but it’s interesting to know that something that small could replace an entire ton of coal. They’ve also got a fascinating pamphlet on the “effects and benefits of radiation.” Anyone who is willing to engage the general public on the benefits of radiation has my admiration.
He's talking about our own Melanie Lyons and Janice Cane, who braved the hostile anti-nuke crowds at the conference. Great job.

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C-SPAN Interview With NRC's Dale Klein Now Available

The video from the C-SPAN interview with Dale Klein we told you about last week has finally been posted.

Click here for the Newsmakers archive to find the interview. Click here for the transcript.

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License Renewal Alert

We've gotten word that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will announce the issuance of a license renewal for two nuclear reactors sometime today. Stand by for more.

UPDATE: The lucky plant is Nine Mile Point, near Oswego, N.Y. The NRC has approved the renewal of operating licenses at Constellation's two reactors here for an additional 20 years. That means Nine Mile Point 1 will operate until 2029, and Nine Mile Point 2 until 2046. Constellation submitted its application in May 2004.

With renewal of the Nine Mile Point reactors, the total number of reactors with renewed licenses is now 46. For more details, click here.

The NRC release is not available on its Web site yet. When it is available, you can find it here. And of course, we'll update this post to link to the release itself as soon as we can. In the meantime, Constellation has issued a release as well.

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Energy Information Digest

The October issue of Energy Information Digest (PDF) is now available on the NEI Web site, in the Newsroom. In it, you'll find articles about the Department of Energy's plans to address climate change and energy challenges, California's new law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Illinois' new global warming initiative, new nuclear plant activity in Texas, deep-sea wind turbines, rebuilding New Orleans with sustainable development, Yucca Mountain legislation, and other topics.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Another Environmentalist for Nuclear Energy

In an column positing that environmentalism can become the new glue to cement the traditional alliance between Europe and America, Tom Friedman interviewed Jürgen Hogrefe, a former German Green Party spokesman and currently an executive with electric utility, EnBW:

“The Green Party has been extremely important for German society,” he said, helping to transform the post-Nazi society into a more liberal domain. But an antinuclear stance has been at the core of the party, and now that the German mainstream has embraced a green agenda, the Greens need to rethink nuclear energy. “The Green Party should redefine itself,” added Mr. Hogrefe. “In some fields they are very modern party. ... But concerning nuclear energy and ecology they are stubborn, not open enough to see what is happening around the globe.”
Maybe Mr. Hogrefe can compare notes with Patrick Moore someday.

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FT Looks at the Nuclear Rebound

Here's a good overview piece on the return of nuclear power from the Financial Times. There's not a lot here that we haven't seen before, but it's still worth your time.

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Fighting the "Nuclear Taboo" in the Czech Republic

Here's Daniel Kaizer from Czech Business Weekly, on Czech Prime Minister's Vaclav Klaus' recent support for expanded use of nuclear energy across Europe:

[W]e can’t allow ourselves to be suspicious of nuclear energy in principle. We have to face the fact that we’re increasingly dependent on Russian gas and oil, and that with every passing year our concern with Russia’s muscle flexing on the international scene grows.

That’s why we should applaud Klaus for breaching this topic and shooting at the “consensus” made up by the half-educated chattering classes. This iconoclastic position suits him much better than interfering into executive politics. Klaus has no right to decide how big a majority a prime minister must have in Parliament; he lost his instinct for politics about 10 years ago. But he’s a good provocateur; and no sacred cow of our public debate needs to be slaughtered more urgently than the nuclear taboo.
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Another Democrat for Nuclear Energy

Nashville in the 21st Century is reprinting excerpts from Rep. Harold Ford's (D-TN) book, Tomorrow's Patriots. The following passage comes from Chapter 3, which deals with energy policy:

Finally, it is past time for us to recognize our need to develop safe and effective use of nuclear energy. France relies on nuclear power for 78 percent of its electricity. Sweden and Korea each use nuclear energy to generate over 40 percent of their electricity. Yet here in America, we have not built a nuclear generator in over 30 years. This must change. Scientists at Oak Ridge have joined researchers across the globe as part of the ITER Project to develop the next generation of nuclear power – clean, safe and emission-free fusion power. While this kind of energy is still decades away from commercial availability, it will be a big part of our future.
This seems to be happening more frequently. Credit Instapundit with the link.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Live From Vermont: Patrick Moore vs. the Anti-Nukes

Hello from Burlington! I'm at the Society of Environmental Journalists Conference with Melanie Lyons, NEI media relations manager. This morning Patrick Moore spoke on a panel called "Cradle to Grave: New Nukes and Old Radioactive Waste," which focused largely on the safety and economic issues surrounding nuclear power. Patrick was outnumbered on this panel 2-1, as he was joined by Jim Riccio of Greenpeace and former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford, now of the Union of Concerned Scientists and an adviser to the Grace Energy Initiative. But Patrick held his own and shared a lot of facts about nuclear energy. I'll walk you through the proceedings in case you missed the webcast by Grace Energy Initiative.

Jim Riccio spoke first and painted nuclear power plants as prime targets for terrorism. From where I was sitting, it looked like he was doing a bit of fearmongering, basically saying it's only a matter of time before a plant is hit. Patrick Moore refuted this a bit later, noting that terrorists choose political targets, not industrial targets, and even if they did, nuclear plants are highly regulated and focused on safety. He later claimed that nuclear power plants have never tested their ability to sustain an attack from a commercial airline, but instead just say testing during station blackouts is for this purpose. I really don't know where he got that idea, nor the idea that a nuclear plant caused the Northeast blackout a few years back. For more background on the 2003 blackout and nuclear energy, click here.

Anyway, Dr. Moore talked a bit about his early days at Greenpeace, and why he left--choosing to spend his time being in favor of solutions to problems rather than simply protesting the problems. He made a very important point: Greenpeace is opposed to nuclear energy, as we all know. It is opposed to coal-fired plants and natural gas. And it opposes hydroelectric dams. That leaves the category of "other," which accounts for only 0.8 percent of the world's energy supply. This includes wind, solar, etc. While NEI and savvy environmentalists like Moore recognize that renewable sources of energy should be a part of the solution to climate change, we also know that they simply cannot be expanded enough to be the only solution. And Dr. Moore said repeatedly today that nuclear also is not the only solution--but it should be and will be an important part of it. So he asked how Greenpeace can possibly favor only 0.8 percent of the world's energy supply. If they are so concerned about climate change, shouldn't they be open to more likely possibilities?

Another important point Dr. Moore made: We should not ban the beneficial uses of a technology just because of its potentially dangerous uses. If we did that, we would have to ban machetes and automobiles, among other things.

On to Peter Bradford. He reiterated our own point that nuclear power is not the "magic bullet" answer to climate change. We agree. See above. Then he talked about the wedge theory (PDF), which David Bradish discussed in an earlier post this week. Basically, a wedge from renewable electricity replacing coal-based power is available from a 50-fold expansion of wind by 2054 or a 700-fold expansion of solar power. We would have to triple nuclear power's current capacity. Which even I can understand (after David explained it to me) means that nuclear requires less expansion because it can provide more energy. Bradford's take on the wedges? Nuclear can't be good because it's only one wedge, while renewables are two (solar and wind). That's just semantics.

Then the panel turned to a Q-and-A session. When asked "if no nukes, then what?" Riccio simply did not answer the question. He said the government and taxpayers would get a bigger bang for their buck of they spent it on renewables instead of nuclear, but that's as specific as he got.

Well, that's all from the SEJ conference. Melanie and I are having fun manning our booth and talking to the journalists and other exhibitors about nuclear, the clean air energy!

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Patrick Moore In Showdown With Anti-Nukes

Later today, Dr. Patrick Moore of the CASEnergy Coalition will take part in a panel discussion sponsored by the Society of Environmental Journalists at their annual conference. The title is, "Is Nuclear Power the Solution to Climate Change," and he'll be joined on the panel by Peter Bradford, former Vice Chair of the NRC and now with the Union of Concerned Scientists as well as Jim Riccio, nuclear policy analyst for Greenpeace.

Two anti-nukes and Patrick Moore, I guess that's what SEJ thinks of as "fair and balanced".

If I sound a little skeptical of SEJ's motives, there's a reason, one that David Bradish hinted at earlier this week: SEJ has agreed to allow the anti-nukes at the Grace Energy Initiative to Webcast the panel. In isolation, that's not a problem. The problems started when Grace Energy worked to actively deceive the public into thinking that they were the sponsors of the panel.

Here's an excerpt from a press announcement they issued earlier this week:

The live GRACE Webcast:

"Dirty Power -- —False Promises: Nuclear Power & Climate Change -- is a panel discussion from the SEJ Conference called --— "Cradle to Grave: New Nukes and Old Radioactive Waste"”
Kind of nice, hijacking somebody else's event and putting your own name on the proceedings.

To SEJ's credit, they contacted Grace and got them to issue another release. But all credit here goes to Patrick Moore. Despite the fact that it appears that some anti-nukes are attempting to set a trap for him, he's moving forward regardless.

The Webcast is today at 11:15 a.m. U.S. EDT. Click here for the feed and watch the fireworks. We've got some NEI people on the ground in Burlington at the conference, so look for some first person accounts later on.

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Captain Ed and Nuclear Power

The influential blogger at Captain'’s Quarters, Ed Morrissey, posted a very strong endorsement for nuclear power as a way to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

He called for consideration of making most or all of our electricity from nuclear power. The problem is that today, more nuclear power plants will NOT reduce importation of petroleum. We'’ve already displaced oil as a fuel for electricity with our first big nuclear build back in the 70’s and early 80’s. In 1970, almost 35% of US electricity was fueled by oil. Today, it's down to 3%.

The real problem lies with the prospective fuel for generators --– imported liquefied natural gas. As domestic demand increases and North American supplies decline, energy planners and marketers are looking more and more to new LNG terminals to provide the gas to run combined cycle combustion gas turbine plants. Are we adding a NEW addiction to our old bad habit? Nuclear power could and should prevent that.

Morrissey goes on to advocate hydrogen fuel cells for autos and other independent uses. He rightly identifies the problem as the source of hydrogen.

Ed thinks that an "Moon shot"” program can get us off foreign oil and "“make it happen within the next ten to fifteen years."”

Well, as a nuclear engineer, I can feel the love, but it ain't gonna happen. The FIRST new nuke to make electricity is scheduled to come on line in 2015. As some of the commenters note, production of hydrogen for fuel will require nuclear power. The current government plan is first commercial-scale nuclear hydrogen production in 2019. Lab-scale demonstration of the thermo-chemical reaction is not planned until 2008 and that'’s using non-nuclear heat.

Still, as a public discussion of energy policy issues, it is way above what passes for public discourse in the main stream media.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fighting Grace Energy's Myths With the Facts

Following up on David Bradish's post from the other day, our colleague Mitch Singer has produced a point by point rebuttal of the Grace Energy Report.

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More Democats for Nuclear Energy?

Thanks to my NEI colleague Donn Salvosa passing along the following exchange between Larry Kudlow and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi than ran this morning on CNBC (no link available):

KUDLOW: All right. We're here, back with more of my interview with House leader Nancy Pelosi. We'll get her thoughts on the U.S. policy in Iraq and on energy. I began by asking whether she would support an offshore drilling bill.

Rep. PELOSI: Depends. The Senate bill that is out there now is a much better bill than the House bill because it's targeted in what it would use the money for. I think we have to have some sunset to say, `How many years can we have tens of billions of dollars siphoned off from the federal government to a state?' Which is part of that bill? But there's really a need for remediation in terms of wetlands in New Orleans and the rest. So some kind of a bill like that might gain support just so long as it wasn't used as a model to do offshore drilling all over the country and in a way that is very close to shore.

KUDLOW: Expansion of nuclear power?

Rep. PELOSI: Has to be looked at. Technology has changed over the last, say, dozen years when this debate was going on a long time ago. I think we have to look at it. Because what is the alternative? You go to India? What is it, coal for all of those people, China and the rest? So I think it has to be revisited.
Next, click here for an interview Virginia Governor Mark Warner gave to Helen Smith and Glenn Reynolds where he expresses much the same sentiment.

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Westinghouse Exec: PBMR Ready for Commercial Deployment by End of Next Decade

From Mining Weekly (South Africa):

“The PBMR is one of three reactor designs that we want to offer to clients as our developmental reactors,” explains Westinghouse senior vice- president and chief technology officer Dr Regis Matzie. The other two are both Westinghouse designs – the AP1000 and Iris.

“The AP1000 is our flagship – its development has been finished; it has been licensed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and it’s ready to launch,” he states.

The AP1000 is an advanced pressurised water reactor, and would be able to produce 1 117 MWe to 1 154 MWe.

For comparison, a single PBMR module would be a 165-MWe unit, although for power generation applications the PBMR would most often be constructed in four-, six-, or more module plants; a typical ‘four-pack’ modular unit would be able to deliver 660 MWe.

“We are currently bidding the AP1000 in China,” he reports.

“After the AP1000, chronologically speaking, will be the PBMR – we believe that the PBMR will be commercially ready by the middle of the next decade,” he says.
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A Cry for Common Sense Environmentalism

Here's Katherine Booth from the Yale Daily News:

Environmentalism is a great idea, up to a point. Let's run our buses on used cooking oil and recycle our red plastic cups, but let's also look to nuclear energy and expanded oil drilling in the United States to take care of our short-term energy crisis. Renewable energy may feel good initially, but a million wind turbines in Yellowstone or Yosemite would be ugly, expensive and incredibly inefficient. Look up the statistics - wind turbines and solar panels don't produce nearly the power you thought. And if you don't want wind turbines in Yosemite or the Branford courtyard, do you want them covering the state of Oklahoma? The self-righteousness of the environmentalist movement tries to make the conflict black and white, to sharply delineate between those who support the environment and those who gleefully turn it into a stinking cesspool. But even those who claim to be "environmentalists" are willing to take the fight only so far.

Of course Yale isn't going to put up windmills: not in Branford, not on Old Campus, not on top of Kline Biology Tower - but if they did, you'd have a right to be pissed off. So let's stop supporting equally ridiculous and impractical ideas elsewhere. If we dispense with the self-righteousness and base our opinions and decisions on a broader view of what is important - before the environmentalists decide that because humans are the cause of pollution, we ought to just get rid of them - we might find that most people, regardless of party affiliation, care about the Earth and are willing to move toward solutions that make sense.
A woman wise beyond her years.

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Greenpeace Asks Romania to Become Overdependent on Russian Natural Gas

Well, not exactly, but that's the import of the international anti-nuke crusaders plea to the Romanian government not to build new nuclear power plants:

Bucking a trend in Europe, Romania plans to inaugurate its second reactor early in 2007 and has set a deadline for binding bids to build and operate a third and a fourth reactor for end-2006. "A major nuclear accident due to technical causes or following a terror attack will be devastating ... such as an accident at the Belene and Kozloduy plants in Bulgaria," Anamaria Bogdan, a spokeswsoman for Greenpeace in Romania, said in a statement.

"Nuclear energy is one of the worst options to solve Romania's energy (needs)," Jan Haverkamp, an expert with Greenpeace was also quoted as saying.
Sounds like Romania's leaders are on the same page as Czech President Vaclav Klaus.

My boss, Walter Hill, just returned to the U.S. after helping to run a communications seninar sponsored by the IAEA, and he made a point of mentioning that he came back impressed with the folks from Romania.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Update Your Bookmarks...

Just got a note from Peter Gowin at IAEA:

I am pleased to announce the new website of the INIS & Nuclear Knowledge Management Section. You can access the new site at


The new site unites the two formerly separate IAEA websites for INIS
(www.iaea.org/inis) and nuclear knowledge management (www.iaea.org/km) and informs you about activities, products and services of the Section, i.e. nuclear information in INIS and nuclear knowledge management.

I would like to invite you to take a few minutes to explore the new site. I would also be pleased if you could add a link to our new site on the webpages of your organization. Please do not forget to also update your bookmarks and links to the new site, since the old sites will not be updated any longer and will be disconnected from the net in due course.
Update your links/bookmarks accordingly.

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Who Is Grace Energy?

At 1 p.m. this afternoon, Grace Energy Initiative released a document titled “False Promises: Debunking Nuclear Industry Propaganda,” in which the group addresses 10 nuclear industry claims and why they are misleading.

I’ve read so many of these types of reports that each time I read a new one, for fun, I test myself to see who the source is for each claim.

On our blog, we’re about to the point where the issues have been addressed and refuted on almost all aspects of nuclear power. So why bother addressing this most recent report? Because it goes beyond the typical anti-nuclear claims and on to dirty tactics involving the Society of Environmental Journalists’ 16th Annual Conference beginning tomorrow, which Eric will get more into in more detail in a later post.

Let’s begin. The report says on page 10 that “nuclear power is the slowest and costliest way to reduce CO2 emissions when compared to efficiency, distributed generation and some renewable sources.” yet whenever I hear this claim, I never see any information available on how much renewables, distributed generation and efficiency it would take. Considering that nuclear reactors are some of the largest sources for generation (9.25 out of the top 20 plants in the U.S. are nuclear, and one quarter of the Crystal River plant in Florida is nuclear), I find it hard to believe that a lesser effort would be required of distributed generation, renewables and efficiency.

Furthermore, in 2005, 73 percent of U.S. emission-free electricity came from nuclear (PDF). We’re not saying nuclear power will do it all. We’re saying that if the world wants to reduce emissions, it can’t exclude one of the largest sources of emission-free power. Once again, the antis are setting up a false choice between nuclear and alternative energies.

But let’s get into this a little more. I’m sure some of the readers have heard of Princeton’s Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow’s concept of stabilization wedges (PDF), in which, in a 50-year period, if all seven wedges are achieved worldwide CO2 emissions would be stabilized. How much is required for some of the wedges?

A wedge from renewable electricity replacing coal-based power is available from a 50-fold expansion of wind by 2054 or a 700-fold expansion of PV relative to today. The expansion factor for geothermal energy is about 100.

A 50-fold expansion of wind amounts to deploying two million wind turbines (of the one-megawatt size that is currently typical). The land demands are considerable: A wedge of wind requires deployment on at least 30 million hectares (the area of the state of Wyoming or nearly the area of Germany).

For a renewable energy technology, land demands for PV are relatively low because the efficiency of conversion of sunlight to PV is relatively high: An entire wedge of PV electricity will require an estimated two million hectares (the area of New Jersey).

Similarly, building a wedge with new nuclear power requires tripling the current nuclear electricity production, assuming the new plants displace coal. This would mean building about 700 new 1,000-megawatt nuclear plants around the world.

And this is just contributing one wedge out of seven from each of these technologies. Quite a challenge for each. Nuclear can definitely build another 700 gigawatts in 50 years, as we already have built about 400 GW in roughly a 30-year period.

On pages 21 and 22, the report blasts NEI’s false advertising on clean-air energy and the impact of nuclear power plants on marine ecosystems. I guess Grace Energy is not aware of the ecological stewardship programs many utility companies contribute to the environment (PDF, beginning on page 10). The Grace report says:
In actuality, the NRC has documented nearly 200 “near misses” to serious reactor accidents in the U.S. since 1986.
If readers have been around long enough, they will remember that this came from Greenpeace’s report last spring, which we debunked.
Many reactors are built near large population centers, especially along the eastern U.S., which is more densely populated now than when plants were constructed. For example, Oyster Creek nuclear reactor in New Jersey has seen local population triple in size since the plant was built, making safe and timely evacuation a non-reality for today’s surrounding residents.
If people are so fearful of nuclear power, why would Oyster Creek’s local population triple in size? Maybe nuclear plants are not as bad as everyone is falsely led to believe. And I love the assumption that since population tripled, “a safe and timely evacuation is a non-reality.” I guess Grace is not aware that
every two years, each nuclear plant conducts a full-scale emergency exercise involving a confidential emergency scenario to be handled by on-site and off-site emergency response organizations, including plant employees, local law enforcement, fire departments, radiological monitoring teams, among others. The NRC evaluates performance of the on-site plan and FEMA the off-site plan. Necessary improvements are identified to be corrected. In alternate years, plants conduct training drills, frequently unannounced, involving such key factors as coordination, communications, assessment of emergency, medical, and fire brigade response, and radiation dose measurement.
Back to Grace:
While the nuclear industry likes to point out that nuclear power is cheaper than other forms of electricity generation, it counts only the price of operating the plants, not the full costs of building them. Operating costs of nuclear power plants are in fact low, but to argue these are the true costs of nuclear power is disingenuous, and like arguing that it’s cheap to drive a Rolls Royce, counting only gasoline price and leaving out the purchase price.
To my knowledge, we never say that nuclear’s operating costs are the “true costs.” Here’s information on our Web site that shows much more than just the operating costs.

Let me expand on the Rolls Royce analogy a bit. When you get a nuclear plant, you are getting quality like a Rolls Royce. It’s expensive to buy, but you expect it to perform exceptionally well, be very reliable and last all the way 'til it’s time to retire it. How well it operates is the key. If they couldn’t operate well, then most likely there would not be a renewed interest in building more nuclear plants (PDF).

There is quite a bit more we can get into when debunking these reports, but I’m going to turn direction onto Patrick Moore. Since he will be on a panel at the SEJ conference on Friday, Grace Energy has put forth effort in this report and in other ways to attack his intentions and credibility. All I have to say is, if they’re going to get personal, it’s a sign that they can’t debate the issues. Just stick to the facts, as people are consistently advised on this blog.

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Another Environmentalist for Nuclear Energy

Visit Seeing the Forest for the Trees:

I believe the problem of where to put nuclear waste pales in comparison to what we face - and what we are doing now is just dumping the waste (CO2) from burning fossil fuel into the air.
Click here for the interview with James Lovelock that inspired him to write his pro-nuclear post.

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Nuclear Supporters Outnumber Antis at Georgia Meeting

There was an NRC public meeting last week in Waynesboro, Georgia to gather comments regarding Southern Nuclear’s proposed expansion of Plant Vogtle. Articles in the Savannah Morning News and the Augusta Chronicle (registration required but it’s free) had different reports for the number of attendees, but both noted that nuclear supporters greatly outnumbered antinuclear activists. The Savannah article said:

The majority of Burke County residents spoke in favor of expansion, including resolutions of support for the Waynesboro City Council and the Burke County Commission.
Mal McKibben of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness said
This is important…because a key factor in the NRC's decision-making is how much support local leaders give to nuclear projects. If pro-nuclear folks don't show up, the field is left to well-organized and highly vocal anti-nuclear groups that come from all over the Southeast.
Local NA-YGN members were also at the meeting and report that the speakers were split half in favor and half opposed. DeLisa Pournaras, the chair of the local section, spoke on behalf of the organization and discussed the safety record and environmental and economic benefits of nuclear power plants. She wrote to me
I think the meeting went very well. There was overwhelming local support present of course, and we counted about 8…NA-YGN members at the meeting. There were about 150 people there total, and 50 gave comments, including several local leaders. Even though the majority of the people there were there to support Vogtle, we counted 25 anti-nuclear speakers from 7 or 8 activist groups, and they had the floor for about 1.5 hrs straight. Anti-nuclear groups present: Women's Actions for New Direction, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, The Sierra Club, Nuclear Information Resource Service, Georgians Against Nuclear Energy, Turner Environmental Law Clinic, Southern Alliance For Clean Energy. There were also a few other's that I didn't recognize.

Groups in support: Local citizens and Plant Vogtle neighbors, local leaders, Burke Co. School System, Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness, Women in Nuclear, NA-YGN, and others.

We counted the same number of speakers (25) in support of Vogtle expansion and they had the floor for 2.25 hrs. In my opinion, that wasn't enough time. I'm glad that I was able to speak for NAYGN, but in retrospect, I think we should have had several other NAYGN members get up to speak their support as well. There were several circumstances that prevented others from speaking…but this was one of only a few chances to voice our support for the Vogtle expansion. From what I understand, the next public meeting will be held in July 2007 to discuss the NRC's investigation results.

...It's important that we continue to gather support for the next meeting, so that we will have a larger presence in July. I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting, and would encourage as many of us as possible to participate in future public meetings of this sort.
Another NA-YGN member, Amy Marshall, wrote
I feel the meeting was very informative in learning about the tactics of the anti-nuclear groups. I had no idea they are arguing that nuclear power is much more expensive in the long run compared to other sources of energy, even compared to coal fired generating plants, and that nuclear power produces extreme amounts of harmful waste.

I was also surprised to learn…there were groups publishing information that the new reactors "will require tens of millions of gallons of water above and beyond the tens of millions Vogtle is already pulling from the Savannah River." That statement leads one to believe that nuclear power plants use up all of this water and do not return any of it back to the river, nor does the statement describe the timeframe over which tens of millions of gallons are taken from the river. The anti-nuclear groups are making statements to validate their cause but their statements are neither accurate nor complete.

I learned a lot at the meeting, and it has motivated me to stay more aware and involved in the future of the nuclear industry.
Amy, you’re not the first person to be shocked by the blatant lies and propaganda that some antinuclear activists spew. And I’ve found that nothing spurs nuclear supporters to action more than hearing for themselves the rubbish that is being spread.

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NEI Energy Markets Report (October 16th - 20th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices mostly increased throughout the country again last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub increasing $.79 to $5.69 / MMBtu (see page 4).

Nuclear capacity availability was at 74% last week. Twenty four reactors were down for refueling and six were offline for maintenance (see pages 2&3). Palo Verde 3 tripped after a device that measures the position of fuel rods in the reactor core failed to show the location of a control rod. River Bend was down briefly after isolation valves on two feedwater switches inadvertently closed, causing a reactor trip.

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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EU Approves New Reactor Build at Flamanville

From Business Week:

The EU on Tuesday approved French plans to build a new atomic power reactor expected to be a model for the next generation of more fuel-efficient nuclear energy stations.

Under EU nuclear rules, the European Commission must clear investments for building or renovating nuclear power plants.

Electricite de France SA says the new station -- to be built at Flamanville (current plant pictured at left), northern France -- will be able to generate 1,600 megawatts of energy using European pressurized-water reactor, or EPR, technology that aims to use 17 percent less fuel.
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Leading Global Utilities Urge Support for Low Carbon Technologies

From Reuters:

Leading electricity companies from around the world on Tuesday issued a report urging governments to adopt new sustainable energy and climate policies to avoid a future environmental crisis.

The report, released by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and eight power companies, contained an agenda to secure future electric generation, bring power to more people around the world and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The companies included ABB Ltd. of Switzerland, EDF Group and Suez of France, Eskom Holding Ltd. of South Africa, CLP Holdings Ltd. of Hong Kong, Entergy Corp. of the United States and Kansai Electric Power Co Inc. and Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc. of Japan.

In the "Powering a Sustainable Future" report, the companies urged governments to start favoring low carbon sources of electricity like nuclear, solar and wind power, to boost energy conservation programs and to invest more in energy technologies.

"Governments must set the framework and give financial support for the development of low carbon technologies. Nuclear power is part of the solution," said Bruno Lescoeur, senior executive vice president, international industrial and public affairs at Electricite de France SA (EDF).
Click here for the press announcement and here for the report.

Though Entergy is named in this story, other electric utilities like Xcel and Duke Power have come to the same conclusion.

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AECL CEO Takes On Lovins

Now that Amory Lovins has had his say in the pages of the Toronto Star, AECL President and CEO Robert Van Adel is firing back today in a letter to the editor.

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Thorium Fuel Company Goes Public

We haven't heard much from our friends at Energy from Thorium lately, but this interview from Newsweek with Seth Grae, board member at Thorium Power Ltd. might wake them from their slumber.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Double-Checking The Facts on Amory Lovins

After giving an interview with the Toronto Star, Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute is starting to kick up some dust again. And as any reader of NEI Nuclear Notes remembers, whenever Lovins makes his case against nuclear energy, we warn folks to double-check his data.

Below I've listed a selection of entries from our archives where we've dealt with his claims in detail:

Rod Adams vs. Amory Lovins
Bad Data Leads to Bad Conclusions
More Bad Data From Amory Lovins
Revisiting RMI's Bad Data
Revisiting RMI and Amory Lovins

I'd also suggest you take a closer look at some of the more recent work by Rod Adams of Atomic Insights.

Lovins math continues to confuse me
Are these examples of the "micro" power that Lovins likes?

And here's a doozy you shouldn't miss:

Amory Lovins' Academic Career

Happy reading!

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NRC's Dale Klein on C-Span

Sunday's edition of Newsmakers on C-SPAN featured an interview with NRC Chairman Dale Klein. Though video of the interview is not yet available online, you can click here for a transcript.

For another view, click here for an account from a diarist at TPM Cafe.

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Alabama Paper Endorses New Nuclear Build

Reacting to last week's NERC report on grid reliability in North America, the Mobile Press Register had this to say:

Among the energy mix, the United States must revitalize its dormant commitment to nuclear energy and expand development of alternative energy sources and conservation programs. Meeting the nation's future energy needs will require greater investment of resources and creative solutions.

Power companies will have to "think outside the box" to keep the nation energized.
Alabama is in the unique position to revitalize plans to build three nuclear power units near Scottsboro. State and federal regulators should do all they can to encourage the Tennessee Valley Authority to proceed with the units.
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ANS, U.S. WIN Team Up to Educate Mississippi Teachers

Our friend Alan Smith from Entergy sends along the following news from Mississippi:

Volunteers from the Mississippi Section of the American Nuclear Society and U.S. Women in Nuclear presented information about nuclear science and technology to educators at the Mississippi Science Teachers Association's 2006 Convention (Pictured here are Undree Wells and Scott Stanchfield of ANS). Over 450 science teachers attended the October 23-24th event in Jackson, Mississippi. In a break-out session, a presentation entitled "Nuclear Science and Technology -- In the Classroom Around the World" was made to inform teachers about available classroom resources as well as careers in the nuclear industry. Hands-on demonstrations were used to provide examples of classroom activities available to educators.

Volunteers at the event included Bill Bird, Mark Eckenrode, Thomas Hallmark, Jean Kinnard, Alan Smith, Scott Stanchfield, Charles Turk, Undree Wells, Latrecia Lewis and Fatma Yilmaz.
Thanks to everyone from ANS and U.S. WIN for participating. Getting a new generation of students interested in nuclear technologies is critical if we're going to build new plants and keep the current fleet operating safely and efficiently, and making sure their teachers are up to speed on the latest is a critical element of that effort.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Merrifield Won't Seek Third Term at NRC

Released by NRC very late last Friday afternoon:

Commissioner Jeffrey S. Merrifield, one of five members of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, notified White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten on Friday that he would not be seeking a third term at the NRC. Commissioner Merrifield, a Republican, was first appointed by President Clinton to the NRC in October of 1998, and subsequently reappointed by President Bush in August of 2002.

Merrifield, whose term ends on June 30, 2007, informed Bolten that it was his intention to serve out the remainder of his term, but was notifying the President well in advance of his plans to leave the Commission to allow the Administration to have sufficient time to find a suitable replacement.

“It has been an honor to serve the nation as a Commissioner,” Merrifield commented. “NRC is an outstanding agency and I am proud to have served for over 8 years.” He also stated that it was a very difficult decision not to seek a third term but believes that the agency is strong and well prepared for the future. “Commissioner Merrifield has made extraordinary contributions to the work of the NRC and rendered exceptional service to the American people,” said NRC Chairman Dale Klein.
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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Advanced Nanotechnology.

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AEI Seminar Video Available

The seminar at the American Enterprise Institute that I covered a few weeks back, "Is Nuclear Power a Solution to Climate Change and Rising Energy Prices?", is now available in video format over at C-Span. Click here (Real Player) to launch the video.

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German Nuclear Update

German Prime Minister Angela Merkel is taking the gloves off when it comes to the phase-out of nuclear energy in her country:

In a speech to a party rally in Wiesbaden, Merkel went further than before to criticise her junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, for their refusal to reconsider laws requiring German producers to shut down nuclear plants by 2020.

"I consider it to be wrong that we're turning off our nuclear plants only because that is what was agreed," Merkel said. "The bad news is, however, the Social Democrats consider that to be important," she added.

Merkel said the conservatives could still push for a review of the phase-out.

"No one can prevent us from discussing the topic of energy anymore. We're facing challenges and need to develop strategies to ensure our energy supplies over the years ahead," she said.

Nuclear power currently supplies a third of German electricity. Opinion polls regularly show the vast majority of the public opposed to any further extension of nuclear power.
I like that last paragraph, don't you? It makes it sound as if Merkel is proposing some massive nuclear building program, when all she's really talking about is keeping all energy options open -- and that means not hamstringing the German economy by phasing out virtually all of its emission-free generating capacity.

If Merkel is able to shed her current partners in the German coalition government in a susequent election, the phase-out will be history.

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Bull Market in Uranium May Create Up to 34,000 New Jobs

One ancillary benefit of the bull market in uranium: New jobs. Here's Strathmore Minerals President David Miller from a Q&A he did with StockInterview.com:

When annual uranium production reaches 20 million pounds U308 in the United States, the industry would create about 4,000 direct jobs in the mining industry and nearly 30,000 in support services.
Beats importing even more natural gas, don't you think?

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More on Vaclav Klaus and Nuclear Energy

My friend Pat Cleary over at NAM Blog picked up on Vaclav Klaus' endorsement of nuclear energy this morning. Check it out.

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Bye, Bye, China Syndrome

The most terrifying vision of nuclear power from the ‘70’s was the image of the self-melting radioactive lava from a former reactor core eating its way to China. People seemed to understand it intuitively no matter how over-represented the risk.

The new reactors make that scenario obsolete with a solution that’s “as dumb as a brick” - hire a bunch of boilermakers to lay down a brick patio under the reactor vessel. Of course, one has to use high temperature alumina brick and lay it about 1.5 meters (~5 feet) thick and wide enough to act as a “cookie sheet.” There will be minor specification changes necessary but nothing that the refractory industry can’t handle easily. Alumina brick is already used for lining glass furnances and slag pits.

Yet, I’ve have NEVER heard or read of the nuclear industry mentioning this in public. We engineers know about it but the ramifications of this feature on the public debate haven’t yet been communicated to the world. In my marketing classes at B-school, I was taught to never confuse a feature and a benefit (unintentionally, that is.) Nobody CARES about our firebrick patio, especially if we insist on calling them "passive corium barriers." But tell them that there can never be a China Syndrome in the new designs, that the China Syndrome is obsolete, and you’ve communicated a real benefit.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Another Endorsement for Energy Diversity

From today's Dallas Morning News:

Larry Makovich, managing director for consulting group Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said the urgency to bring more power-generating plants online cannot be understated.

"A fundamental reality of the power business is there is no single fuel of choice, so if you are going to survive in the long run, you need to have a good mix of fuels and technologies," he said. "If we are going to keep supply and demand in balance, you're looking at a five-year lead time, so you have to get started building these plants now."
More support for the NERC report.

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NIRS Debuts Beyond Nuclear

We knew it was only a matter of time before the anti-nukes started some high-profile organizing to fight the resurgence in nuclear energy. The result: "Beyond Nuclear" a Web site/fundraising tool that debuted on the Web today courtesy of our friends at NIRS.

They've got a rather impressive array of actors and other artists serving as the backbone of the campaign, including Ed Asner, Ed Begly, Jr. and James Cromwell.

There isn't much there right now, but I'm relishing the opportunity to have the nuclear professionals here at NEI Nuclear Notes go head to head with a bunch of actors.

Let the games begin!

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Should Singapore Develop Nuclear Energy?

Over at Singapore Angle, Speranza Nuova is asking just that question.

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Time to Level the Energy Playing Field?

Responding to a recent column by Tom Friedman in the New York Times regarding the political opportunity that lies in promoting energy independence, our friend Geoffrey Styles had this to say:

The political opportunity may be great, but it'’s going to require some icon-breaking for both sides, if we want real progress, rather than well-intended but impractical remedies. I plan to suggest some concrete examples during the next couple of weeks, but topping the list is the need to mesh our energy and environmental priorities in a way that treats all primary energy sources --—i.e. those that create net new BTUs, rather than changing them from one from to another -- equally, and differentiates between them based on their total environmental impact, with greenhouse gas emissions as first priority. That means coming up with a systematic way to evaluate the life-cycle environmental consequences of a wide range of energy sources, including ethanol and other biofuels, clean coal, nuclear, oil sands, offshore drilling, photovoltaics and wind power, and then prioritizing our efforts.
Might a new consensus be developing on this issue? I sure hope so, and the nuclear industry is ready to play a significant role in what comes next.

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Klaus Issues Energy Warning on Russia to EU

Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus tried to send a message about energy independence to the rest of Europe during a press conference earlier today:

Speaking before an informal EU summit that will discuss EU energy dependence, Klaus voiced doubts about the EU being able to find a joint position on the issue towards Russia.

According to Klaus, the European energy strategy should not be dependent on the talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin with whom participants in the summit will meet today.

It is necessary to start with the energy industry in Europe and "certain taboos that have been forced on Europe in the past years according the operation of thermo- or coal-fuelled plants or nuclear energy should be abandoned," Klaus said.

"If we ban this in Europe there is and there will be dependence from Russia and we cannot achieve anything," Klaus added.
Glad to see more people are paying attention to the problems endemic in overeliance on Russian natural gas supplies.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Hard at Wonk.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Last Rounds

I’m sure by now many readers are getting tired of reading about Dr. Caldicott and her latest book “Nuclear Power is Not the Answer.” So if the readers can hang with me for one last post on the book I would really appreciate it.

Chapter 9 – Renewable Energy: The Answer

Caldicott, p. 161:

Many kinds of alternative solutions are currently on the drawing board because of the extreme urgency of countering global warming. For instance, the conversion of coal to a synthetic fuel, which can be used for transportation and which would contribute much less to global warming than petroleum, is actively being championed by Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana.
I don’t know about you but I’m a bit stunned to see that she would mention coal as a solution to climate change.

Caldicott, p. 161:
However, the world at large has already begun to shift over to alternative energy sources, as is documented in several recent studies…Globally, more electricity is now produced by decentralized, low-carbon or no-carbon competitors than from nuclear power plants-about one-third from renewables (wind, biomass, solar) and two-thirds through a very efficient form of energy production in which electricity is made from waste heat emanating from industry in a process called fossil-fuel combined-heat-and-power CHP, or cogeneration.
For those readers who have been around for sometime you can probably guess whose ideas are these. If you guessed Amory Lovins you are correct. And if you’ve been around quite a bit you already know of the many posts we have written on Mr. Lovins and his ideas. I like his ideas about energy efficiency; however, when it comes to comparing to nuclear I find them way off. My opinion of course.

Back to Caldicott. Maybe I’m misinformed but I thought that “alternative energy sources” did not include natural gas which is the primary source of fuel for cogeneration. If she’s concerned about climate change, and she believes that nuclear produces only about one-third of the lifecycle emissions as natural gas, then why go for natural gas anyways. I find this puzzling.

Caldicott, p. 170:
It is imperative that the federal and state governments subsidize these important and critical new energy sources (wind).
So she rails against subsidies for nuclear in Chapter 2 but states in Chapter 9 that “it is imperative” that wind receives subsidies. I have no problem with wind receiving subsidies but am a little confused by this logic. The way she made it sound for nuclear in Chapter 2 is that subsidies are bad. But in Chapter 9 subsidies are apparently appropriate for wind.

Chapter 10 – What Individuals Can Do: Energy Conservation and Efficiency

Caldicott, p. 175:
Europeans use approximately 50% less energy per capita than Americans, while maintaining the same standard of living…If Americans change the way they live and decide to take responsibility to clean up the polluted planet, millions will follow.
Energy does not really have much to do with standard of living. It’s the consumption of electricity (ppt) that does. Regardless. I think she has a good point about conserving electricity. Do we really need to have lights on in rooms that aren’t even being used? Do we really need to have the AC set to 65 so our offices are so cold that we need heaters under our desks to keep warm? I don’t know the numbers specifically but conservation could go a long way. And the same goes with efficiency. According to EIA data (PDF), we saved less than 2 percent in 2004 utilizing demand side programs compared to what we generate in the U.S. I am sure we could do a lot better.

Think of electricity like water. Do you leave the faucet running when you’re not using it? Do you run the faucet while brushing your teeth? Same applies to electricity.

However, you still need a source to supply electricity and with a 45%-50% increase in electrical demand by 2030 projected in the U.S. (pdf), we are going to need all the supply available. Just to give an idea of the magnitude of the increase, think of adding about 300-350 new nuclear plants to the grid by 2030. That’s almost the current capacity of the world’s existing nuclear fleet (pdf). Not one source can scale up that fast to meet all that demand. And that’s exactly what NERC’s latest assessment states on page 7:
Long-term electricity supply adequacy requires a broad and balanced portfolio of generation and fuel types, transmission, demand response, renewables, and distributed generation; all supply-side and demand-side options need to be available.
That is all from me. I hope the readers have enjoyed this debunking session over the past several weeks. For the previous posts on Dr. Caldicott’s book see below.

"Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer"
Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Round 1
Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Round 2
Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Round 3
Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Rounds Four and Five
Dr. Caldicott vs. Nuclear Power, Rounds Six, Seven and Eight

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NEI Energy Markets Report (October 9th - 13th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices mostly increased throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub increasing $.79 to $4.90 /MMBtu (see page 4).

Nuclear capacity availability was at 78% last week. Twenty reactors were down for refueling and four were offline for maintenance (see pages 2&3).

The North American Electric Reliability Council released its 2006 Long-Term Reliability Assessment which can be found here: http://www.nerc.com/~filez/rasreports.html. According to the summary, “electric utilities forecast demand to increase over the next ten years by 19 percent (141,000 MW) in the United States and 13 percent (9,500 MW) in Canada, but project committed resources to increase by only 6 percent (57,000 MW) in the U.S. and by 9 percent (9,000 MW) in Canada.”

For the podcast click here. For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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