Friday, March 30, 2007

On China and Nuclear Energy

Rod Adams has some thoughts.

Senator Larry Craig and Al Gore on Nuclear Energy

During his testimony before the U.S. Senate Energy and Public Works Committee, former Vice President Al Gore had this exchange with Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) on nuclear energy. Near the start of the video, Craig accused Gore of gutting funding for nuclear R&D during the Clinton Administration.

As you can see, Gore claimed not to know what Craig was talking about, and said that he'd respond directly at a later time. Here's graphic that NEI developed to demonstrate exactly what happened to the DOE R&D budget during the Clinton years:


UPDATE: More from Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Senator Hillary Clinton on Nuclear Energy

The following comes from a campaign rally held in South Carolina:

Thinking About a Career in Nuclear Energy?

Our CEO, Skip Bowman, guest stars.

Finland Making Way for Sixth Reactor

Details from Helsingin Sanomat.

UPDATE: Found this piece from DW Television on the project from last month. There's an interview with a German anti-nuke at the end where he predicts that there won't be any further investment in nuclear in Europe. Funny, eh?

WCCO-TV Interviews Patrick Moore

CASEnergy Coalition co-chair Patrick Moore recently sat down with Don Shelby of WCCO-TV to talk about the revivial of the nuclear energy industry.

Click here for the video.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More on Al Gore and Nuclear Energy

Last week, I asked Mary Quillian, NEI's Director of Business and Environmental Programs, a couple of questions about Al Gore's testimony on Capitol Hill concerning nuclear energy. Click here for the video.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

NRC Vote Authorizes ESP for Entergy's Grand Gulf Site

It's been a busy day here at NEI, but not so busy that we can't pass along this great news:

By a 5-0 vote, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today authorized the NRC’s Office of New Reactors to issue an Early Site Permit (ESP) to System Energy Resources Inc. for the Grand Gulf ESP site near Port Gibson, Miss. The staff has 10 business days to carry out the Commission’s directions and issue the permit, the second ESP the NRC has approved.

Successful completion of the ESP process resolves many site-related safety and environmental issues, and determines the site is suitable for possible future construction and operation of a nuclear power plant. The company filed its ESP application Oct. 21, 2003. The permit will be valid for up to 20 years. During that time, the company (or any other potential applicant interested in the site) must still seek NRC approval for a Combined License to build one or more nuclear plants on the site before any significant construction can occur.

The NRC staff’s technical review of the Grand Gulf ESP application covered issues such as how the site’s characteristics affect plant safety, environmental protection, and plans for coping with emergencies. The staff published a final safety evaluation and a final environmental impact statement for the Grand Gulf ESP in April 2006. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) conducted a hearing on the matter and ruled Jan. 26 that the permit could be issued.

The NRC issued the first-ever ESP for the Clinton site in Illinois on March 15. The NRC continues to work on two other ESP applications, North Anna in Virginia and Vogtle in Georgia. The staff has completed its technical review of the North Anna application, which is currently the focus of an ASLB hearing. The staff expects to issue a draft environmental impact statement and initial safety report on the Vogtle application by late summer.
Congrats to everyone involved on a job well done.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Why Oxford Research is Wrong on Nuclear Energy and Total Lifecycle Emissions

This morning, both Reuters and Business Week wrote lengthy features concerning the publication of a report by U.K.-based Oxford Research claiming that nuclear energy can't serve as a solution when it comes to climate change.

From Business Week:

Now, some scientists and other experts are beginning to raise a different question about nuclear power: Is it really as clean as supporters contend? A report, released on Mar. 26 by a British nongovernmental organization called the Oxford Research Group, disputes the popular perception that nuclear is a clean energy source. It argues that while nuclear plants may not generate carbon dioxide while they operate, the other steps necessary to produce nuclear power, including the mining of uranium and the storing of waste, result in substantial amounts of carbon dioxide pollution. "As this report shows, hopes for the climate-protecting potential of nuclear energy are entirely misplaced," says Jürgen Trittin, a former minister of the environment in Germany and a contributor to the report. "Nuclear power cannot be promoted on environmental grounds."
As I opened the PDF copy of Secure Energy? Civil Nuclear Power, Security and Global Warming, I couldn't help but be overcome by a sense of deja vu -- after all, the global anti-nuclear community has a habit of recycling old charges and using them over and over again in the hopes that nobody realizes the reports they issue aren't very new at all.

Sure enough, the section on total lifecycle emissions is authored by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen, a man whose work David Bradish debunked here at NEI Nuclear Notes back in July 2005!

Here's what the World Nuclear Association said about Storm van Leeuwen's work in this area:
"The 2001 Storm van Leeuwen & Smith (SLS) paper dismisses arguments that nuclear energy is sustainable, either physically, environmentally or in terms of its energy costs, and this is repeated in the numerically-depleted May 2002 version. They purport to offer 'evidence'’ that building, operating and producing fuel for a nuclear plant produces as much carbon dioxide as a similar sized gas-fired plant. The foregoing WNA paper, quoting all the reputable studies we are aware of, shows that this is demonstrably wrong - there is a 20 to 50-fold difference in favour of nuclear. . ."

"Finally, it should be pointed out that, even on the basis of their erroneous assumptions and using their inaccurate figures, Storm van Leeuwen & Smith still are forced to conclude that nuclear power plants produce less CO2 than fossil-fuelled plants, although in their view "‘the difference is not large". Others might see a 20 to 50-fold difference (between nuclear and gas or coal) as significant."”
Once again, what really annoys me is that this is an old charge, one that the nuclear industry has answered over and over again. No matter, we'll keep knocking it down as long as they keep floating the same old trial balloon.

STP Completes Second Consecutive Breaker-to-Breaker Run

Just off the wire from STP:

Completing a second consecutive breaker-to-breaker run, the South Texas Project nuclear power plant successfully took its Unit 2 reactor offline on Sunday for a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.

“We are pleased with the reliable and successful performance of our reactors. STP’s consecutive breaker-to-breaker runs could not have been accomplished without the continued commitment and skill of our entire team," said Ed Halpin, STP's site vice president.

A breaker-to-breaker run refers to the time between refueling outages when a nuclear plant safely produces electricity. An outage begins with the opening of an electrical breaker to discontinue power to the grid so that maintenance can be performed and refueling can occur. The outage ends when the breaker is closed and electricity can again be produced. Refueling outages occur every 18 months.
Congrats to the team at STP for a job well done. Bravo Zulu!

Senator Bingaman on E&E TV

On today's edition of E&E TV, you'll see footage of Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) speaking at the March 23 USEA Newsmaker Breakfast.

In this appearance, Senator Bingaman -- who is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee -- talks about plans for upcoming climate change legislation, as well as what lessons America can learn from European climate policy.

The clip runs about eight minutes.

What Nuclear Energy Means to Eunice, N.M.

Jobs and economic development, that's what it means. From The Albuquerque Tribune:

Eunice, population 2,700, is expected to grow by about 1,000 people in the next year or two - workers needed to build and operate the Louisiana Energy Services' $1.5 billion uranium enrichment plant there that recently was approved by state and federal regulators. To accommodate that rush, the city expects it'll need at least 400 new houses and dozens of new apartments.

Eunice, which does not have a traffic light, also is preparing to spend millions of dollars on new water lines, a new sewage treatment plant, a new public swimming pool and a downtown beautification project - with some of the financing coming from contributions from the town's new corporate citizen, LES.

Anti-nuclear critics say its a fool's bargain, but Eunice and southeastern New Mexico are betting on a future in which nuclear energy is in demand, uranium enrichment is a growth industry and some of the associated profits will flow into Eunice.

It's a safe bet.
Click here for our archive of reports detailing the economic benefits derived by communities that host nuclear power plants.

Why Doesn't Al Gore Embrace Nuclear Energy?

From The Daily Inter Lake, (Mont.):

Al Gore, the former vice president and recent Oscar recipient, sanctimoniously decrees that Americans should reduce their “carbon footprints” while he runs up electric bills that could power an entire neighborhood. He exonerates himself by purchasing “carbon offsets” from a company that he has a financial interest in. The company invests in wind power or other green projects, and presto, his conscience is clean. Just like purchasing a medieval indulgence for cleansing away sins.

Gore never talks about one source of energy that would greatly reduce carbon emissions, and that’s nuclear energy. Why doesn’t Gore urge Congress to provide incentives for nuclear power development, a change that would vastly reduce the nation’s carbon footprint?

Because the left has long detested and protested nuclear power plants. And Gore certainly isn’t going to counter that position, because he has become a national environmental leader.
As we've noted before, not every environmentalist is anti-nuclear energy. Here's hoping folks like that start getting more attention.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Energy Outlook on the Gore Testimony

As we noted earlier this week, during his testimony on Capitol Hill this week, former Vice President Al Gore went to pains to say he wasn't reflexively anti-nuclear, though he added that he believed a combination of distributed generation and "smart-grid" technology could obviate the need to build new baseload generating capacity.

Mr. [Gore] worked hard to avoid sounding rigidly anti-nuclear, focusing instead on concerns about waste storage--he opposes the Yucca Mountain waste facility--and the very large capital costs involved in building new nuclear plants. Yet despite these issues, we are likely to see the first new nuclear plant in this country in two decades get its permits within a few years. The cloud of uncertainly that the recent TXU deal has cast over new coal-fired power plants will inevitably improve the prospects for new nukes.

To refine a statistic tossed out by one Senator, in 2005 nuclear power contributed 68% of all the low-carbon electricity generated in the US. As we contemplate a cap on carbon emissions and a carbon tax or an emissions trading system--or both, as Mr. Gore advocated Wednesday--the market value of all those green electrons from wind, solar, hydropower and nuclear will go up significantly. I doubt we can rely exclusively on wind and solar energy to provide all the green electricity we'll need, and efficiency won't eliminate the role of central power plants. I'd be very surprised if the greener world we need to create didn't also feature a bigger contribution from nuclear power.
I'm sure Mr. Gore would be surprised too.

A Trip To Yucca Mountain

AQTEBlog reports from the scene.

USA Today: "Some rethinking nuke opposition"

From today's edition:

Other environmentalists say the need to address global warming means taking a harder look at nuclear.

Besides Pew, at least three leading environmental organizations — Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Environmental Defense — say they are willing to consider nuclear power as part of a long-term solution to global warming.

Bill Chameides, chief scientist for Environmental Defense, says his group's position "has evolved."

"Global warming is the environmental issue of our generation," he says. "Clearly to solve this problem we need to have all technologies on the table. Therefore, nuclear energy … needs to be considered."

However, he says a big expansion of nuclear power would be "foolhardy" until a solution is found for where to put nuclear wastes.

Christopher Paine, senior nuclear analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says his group is also willing to give nuclear a look.

"Our position is that nuclear is not off the table as an energy source, but we believe there are cheaper, cleaner and faster ways to reduce pollution and provide reliable energy than nuclear power," Paine said.

Even the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has been sounding alarms about nuclear safety since before Three Mile Island, said in a position paper revised this month that nukes "should be considered as a longer-term option if other climate-neutral means for producing electricity prove inadequate."
And some folks like to make it look like Patrick Moore is the only one coming to this sort of conclusion.

UPDATE: Captain's Quarters has some related thoughts:
Nuclear power has proven itself more reliable, less damaging to the environment, and safer than coal for creating energy. Dozens of miners die every year retrieving coal to produce our electricity, but no one has died from operating a nuclear power plant in the US. The worst accident we had, Three Mile Island in 1979, killed no one and resulted in only a short, small release of radioactivity outside the plant. Although older plants have operated for decades since then, the US has not built another reactor since Three Mile Island, just as we have not built an oil refinery since before that.

We have to start getting realistic about our energy needs. We need to start tapping our own oil resources for national security purposes as well as economic health; we send far too much of our money outside the US for oil. We need to expand our refining capability to meet the expanding needs of our population, at least in the short term. If environmentalists believe these to be dangerous, then they need to allow for the use of nuclear power as a replacement for coal, at least.

Australian Labor Party Yields on Uranium Mine Policy

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Labor appears certain to dump its policy of banning new uranium mines, with the party's Senate leader and a resource-rich state joining the chorus for change.

Opposition resources spokesman Chris Evans - Labor's leader in the Senate - came out in support of an overhaul on Friday, saying the policy had failed to limit the production of uranium.


Senator Evans, whose state of Western Australia holds huge deposits of uranium, said the policy that confines production to three mines was untenable.

"I do not dismiss the legitimate concerns over nuclear weapon proliferation, the disposal of waste and environmental concerns - these need to be tackled head on," he said.

"But imposing an arbitrary limit on the number of uranium mines does little to address those concerns."
For some time now, our friend Robert Merkel has told us that the ultimate aim of John Howard's government in discussing building new nuclear plants in Australia was to expand uranium mining. If that's so, it looks like it worked.

Life Cycle Emissions Facts Acceptance Reluctance

Last week I had an interesting email exchange with Dulce Fernandez, research and policy coordinator for the GRACE Energy Initiative. Ms. Fernandez emailed NEI looking for the International Energy Agency (IEA) study we cited in in last October's point-by-point rebuttal that took the air out of GRACE's claim that nuclear can't claim to have the "second-lowest emissions of greenhouse gases next to hydro electric, which is not a baseload electricity source."

I sent Ms. Fernandez the IEA report, "Externalities and Energy Policy: The Lifecycle Analysis Approach," (available by purchase from IEA), and even pointed her to the specific pages from which we pulled the information, including a chart on the NEI web site. I told her that unlike many organizations, NEI "validates our positions with facts; not blatant the-sky-is-falling myths and flagrant misrepresentations." I received the following response:

"As you certainly noted the study is based on data published from various sources and not on any original data acquisition, a situation that may raise questions regarding data consistency. Moreover, the wide range of emissions variation for each type of energy makes direct comparisons somewhat dubious, as acknowledged in the study itself. Therefore, this issue certainly warrants deeper scrutiny and the information you sent me is certainly useful for continuing to look for the best scientific information available concerning this topic.

Please feel free to send me any other information concerning this issue that you may find relevant."
Ms. Fernandes response is sadly typical of groups who come to a pre-determined conclusion and try to backfit data to support it. Not one to just shake my head and drop it, I wrote:
"I think you're missing the point by saying the results from different studies as pointed out on the NEI web site and the blog posting raise questions on data origination and consistency. First of all, I believe all the sources provided come to their conclusions by analyzing original data, but can't swear to it. You'd have to ask IEA, the professors at the University of Wisconsin, British Energy, etc.

In addition, putting aside certain minor differences in results (most likely due to slightly different methodology approaches as can be the case in public opinion polls) the fact that all these INDEPENDENT analysis show nuclear life-cycle emissions to be very low provides substantial proof that it is true. No amount of spinning can change that. As I learned a long time ago, if the sky is bright and the sun is warming you but you insist that it's gray and cold perhaps you should take a second look. But don't forget your sunglasses."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

On MIT's Uranium Study

Yesterday, MIT released a study that the Globe and Mail described this way:

Growing global competition for scarce enriched uranium threatens to derail a much-heralded nuclear renaissance in the United States and around the world, says an industry researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In a report released yesterday, MIT researcher Thomas Neff said there has been 20 years of under-investment in uranium production and enrichment, resulting in a tightening of supply that has driven prices up eightfold.

The shortfall leaves a gap between the potential increase in demand for nuclear energy -- which is particularly strong in Asia -- and the ability to supply fuel for it.

"There has been a nuclear-industry myopia; they didn't take a long-term view," Mr. Neff said in his report.
Others have since picked up the story. This is an issue we've looked at before, so I though I'd check in with Felix Killar, one of our internal experts on the nuclear fuel cycle.

The following graph [above] was produced by IAEA. It is based on international data which provides the ability of uranium to meet the demand between now and 2050. It assumes that the production of electricity from nuclear power plants will triple by 2050 from today. Reasonably Assured Reserves is the uranium which has already been identified as being recoverable at reasonable costs. The Inferred Reserves are quantities of uranium which the industry has good data to support its existence, however, the data is not sufficient to put the reserves in the Reasonably Assured list. Note this table was generated prior to the price the industry is experiencing today on the uranium spot market.
In short we do not have a uranium problem. The industry does have a tight uranium market because uranium mining was in the decline due to low uranium prices and inventory liquidations. This was enhanced by the lost of 8 million pounds of annual production from Cigar Lake has been deferred for a time period due to the cave in at that mine. The industry is also short about 4 million pounds of uranium from the Ranger mine due to rains which stopped production and will require time to return the mine to full production.
Don’t equate tight market conditions to an inability to have sufficient uranium to meet demand.
Thanks to Felix for answering so promptly. NIOF has more.

Nuclear Energy in Ireland

The Good Life ponders the production of electricity in an interconnected Europe:

No European nation is an island when it comes to their national grid. There are no national grids anymore just a Europe wide grid. So, if a proportion of Irish electricity is already provided by nuclear power stations then why not build our own?
Why not indeed? For more from our archives on Ireland, click here.

UPDATE: More from We Support Lee.

Introducing Left Atomics

For a long time now, we've contended that nuclear energy shouldn't be a left/right issue. Thanks to folks like N. Nadir, we've found that there are folks who agree.

Make room for one more: Left Atomics:

Left Atomics is a group of left activists: socialists, progressives, Marxists, etc., who believe that nuclear energy can be a positive force for humanity. We propose that the Left, broadly speaking, should support, not oppose, nuclear energy.

We will be posting here a Manifesto for Nuclear Energy that we hope can be the basis of a discussion on the left among pro- and anti-nuclear activists. We feel that by and large there has been only knee-jerk opposition to nuclear energy by the left. Few have re-examined the technology of nuclear power production, the enormous changes that have been made in operating safely old plants since 3 Mile Island and Chernobyl and the newer Generation III plants currently under construction or being proposed.
Count us as another party ready to engage in some meaningful dialogue. Welcome to the debate.

Thanks to Rod Adams for the pointer.

CORRECTION: The link to N. Nadir's diary on DailyKos has been corrected.

Fluor Creates Dedicated Nuclear Energy Business

Just off the wire:

Fluor Corporation (NYSE: FLR) today announced the formation of a dedicated business line within its Power Group to address the next generation nuclear power market. Fluor has prepared for this emerging market through the combined talent, activities and resources in both its Government and Power Groups. The nuclear business line will be headquartered in Fluor’s Greenville, S.C. office.
Looks like somebody is bullish on a future for nuclear energy.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

From WILLisms:

We should make every common sense effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, not because bureaucrats in Brussels or Kyoto say so, not because Al Gore says so, and not because we need to "reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil." We should do it because reducing emissions, at the local level, is good for our health. Nuclear power enables us to reduce our emissions without harming our economy. Indeed, it may boost our economy, as inexpensive, reliable energy reduces the cost of doing business and ultimately raises productivity and profitability. Atomic energy enables us to make strides toward cheaper, cleaner, more sustainable energy based on more than feel-good, pie-in-the-sky ethanol/solar/wind schemes. Moreover, we can pursue nuclear energy without harming our domestic energy industry.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Listening in on Al Gore's Testimony

I've been listening to Al Gore's testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee this morning, and he predictably left expanded use of nuclear energy out of his list of options to restrain carbon emissions. As Mitch Singer noted this morning, that's no surprise.

I couldn't help but chuckle a little bit when Gore mentioned Amory Lovins in glowing terms. As my colleague David Bradish has written in the past, while Lovins might have some interesting things to say about conservation, his research in the area of nuclear energy is fatally flawed. Click here for our complete archive on Lovins.

More later, I'm sure.

UPDATE: Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) just mentioned the elephant in the room, namely that electricity demand will be increasing by about 40% in the coming years and that nuclear energy can play a role in providing that energy while helping to keep the air clean. He also mentioned the continued political impasse over Yucca Mountain and the billions of dollars that are piling up in the nuclear waste fund. Waiting on Gore's response.

GORE's RESPONSE: The former Vice President repeated an answer that he's given before: That while he's not an absolutist about nuclear energy and believes that it can play a role, he doesn't believe that it can play any larger a role than it does now because of the cost.

He also said that because nuclear power plants are so large and take so long to build, that utilities will be discouraged from investing in them. But as we've noted here at NEI Nuclear Notes before, nuclear plants in Asia have been built in 42-48 months -- about the same amount of time it will take to build advanced coal-fired plants like ultra-super critical or IGCC plants.

Further, NEI estimates say that the capital cost of nuclear power plants is expected to be competitive with advanced coal-fired power plants. If you factor in capital costs from new nuclear power plants, productions costs and most importantly, the cost of carbon controls on fossil-fueled power plants -- something that Gore vigorously endorsed in his oral testimony -- the cost of electricity from nuclear energy is very competitive when compared to coal and more affordable than electricity from renewables. For more, see our recent Wall Street Presentation.

ANOTHER NUCLEAR QUESTION: This time from Rep. Bob Ingliss (R-S.C.) who relayed the contents of a conversation with Jim Rogers of Duke Energy. It boils down to this: South Carolina, like a lot of other states, needs to build new sources of baseload electricity generation. Rogers has a choice to make: Either build a coal-fired power plant that will spew all sorts of emissions in addition to carbon; or build a nuclear power plant that will help keep the air clean and produce no CO2. The congressman's question: In light of the environmental benefits, shouldn't government do something to support Duke's decision to invest in a nuclear plant that would accrue so many other environmental benefits?

Gore's answer is straight out of the anti-nuke playbook: We need to pass laws to support individuals who want to sell electricity back into the grid -- the old distributed generation canard that N. Nadir debunked just last week over at Daily Kos. Now Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) is challenging Gore on the issue that Mitch Singer raised yesterday -- that his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, omitted any mention of nuclear energy as part ofthe solution.

Again, Gore insists that he's not reflexively anti-nuclear and once again repeats the distributed energy canard. One point that Ingliss made that Gore neglected to address: South Carolina gets 55% of its electricity from nuclear energy, while California gets 55% of its electricity from natural gas. As we've mentioned before, there are both economic and national security implications for following that kind of course.

For more play-by-play, visit Planet Gore.

NEI's Nuclear Performance Monthly (February 2007)

Here's a summary of U.S. nuclear plant performances last month:

For February 2007, NEI estimates the average net capacity factor reached 94.3 percent. This figure is 1.1 percentage points higher than the same one month period in 2006. NEI estimates monthly nuclear generation at 63.4 billion kilowatt-hours for February 2007 compared to 62.6 bkWh for the same one month period in 2006.

For 2007, NEI estimates year to date nuclear generation at 136.9 billion kilowatt-hours compared to 134.5 bkWh in 2006 (1.2 percent increase).

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

Al Gore Ignores Nuclear's Role in Restraining Emissions

NEI Nuclear Notes has visited this topic before, but it warrants looking at it again. The discussion on how best to reduce the growth of greenhouse gases (GHG) has dominated the environmental agenda in the first months of the 110th Congress. Wednesday, March 21, the first full day of Spring, promises to bring climate change to the forefront of the day's news.

Former Vice President Al Gore, who testifies Wednesday on Capitol Hill, focused on ways to mitigate climate change in “An Inconvenient Truth.” In the film, Gore discussed a 2004 study entitled “Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative,” by professors Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala. The analysis is based on the concept of stabilization “wedges,” or measures that could be used to limit and ultimately reduce GHG emissions.

These measures include efficient vehicles, an increase in nuclear power to displace coal-fired plants, greater efficiency at coal-fired power plants, an increase in wind and solar power to displace coal-fired plants and carbon sequestration. If all 15 wedges were achieved worldwide over the next 50 years, carbon dioxide emissions would be stabilized, according to the study.

Vice President Gore addresses most of these wedges in his documentary—except the essential role of nuclear energy—which he conveniently ignores despite its emphasis in the Princeton study.

Domestically, 103 commercial reactors generate nearly 75 percent of the electricity that comes from sources that do not emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Hydropower and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal produce the balance.

Socolow and Pacala call for an additional 700 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power worldwide over the next 50 years. In the United States, companies or consortia have announced their intention to file licenses for up to 32 new reactors to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Those who argue that increases in renewable sources of energy (wind, solar, biomass), energy efficiency and conservation are all that is needed to mitigate GHGs should note that:

  • The United States will require 45 percent more electricity—some 300,000 megawatts—of new electricity supply by 2030, according to the federal government’s Energy Information Administration. Moreover, the vast majority of new electric generation added to the grid over the past 15 years has been mid-sized or small power plants. The industry is entering a period where large power generating plants like advanced nuclear and coal stations must be built.
  • A wedge from nuclear entailing the building of 700 new 1,000 megawatt nuclear plants over the next 50 years is an achievable goal. The vast majority of the 435 reactors operating worldwide were built in the past 30 years, and new plant designs and state-of-the-art construction technologies that include modular building would allow this goal to be met over the next half-century.
  • A wedge from renewable electricity replacing coal-based power would require a 50-fold expansion of wind by 2054, a 100-fold increase in geothermal energy or a 700-fold expansion of photovoltaic.
  • A 50-fold expansion of wind requires building 2,000,000 wind turbines (each with a one-megawatt capacity). The land demands for this undertaking are considerable: A wedge of wind requires approximately 74 million acres—about the area of the state of Wyoming or Germany. An entire wedge of photovoltaic electricity production would require the area of New Jersey.
The Socolow-Pacala study makes it abundantly clear that it will take expansion of all energy sources that don’t emit greenhouse gases, plus energy efficiency and conservation, to mitigate greenhouse gases for future generations.

Moreover, studies or climate change policies from the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, Progressive Policy Institute, Earth Institute at Columbia University, an independent task force at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology point to an essential role for nuclear energy in meeting our future energy needs in a manner that protects the environment. There simply is no way to meet the fast-growing 24/7 electricity needs of our growing population and economy as well as our air quality goals without a robust nuclear energy program.

Former Vice President Gore testifies before Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on climate change today at 9:30 a.m. U.S. EDT. Testimony will be aired on C-Span. Though committee rules say that anyone who testifies is required to submit a written copy of their testimony 48 hours prior to appearing, the former Vice President has yet to submit his.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Pat Cleary at NAM and The Atomic Show.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Amy Ridenour is also asking for answers from Gore on nuclear energy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

NEI Energy Markets Report (March 12th - March 16th)

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

Electricity prices were mostly decreasing throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices fell at the Henry Hub $0.36 to $6.92 / MMBtu (see page 4).

Twelve reactors were in refueling outages with two beginning and two finishing last week. Five reactors were down for maintenance with three finishing last week (see pages 2 & 3).

Uranium prices remained flat at $90 and $91 / lb U3O8 according to TradeTech and Ux Consulting.

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

On Nuclear Energy and Global Warming

Here's Santa Clara University professor David D. Friedman:

Nuclear power is the one energy source that does not produce greenhouse gases and, using current technology, can be expanded over the next couple of decades to replace many, arguably almost all, uses of fossil fuel. So anyone who believes that the great threat facing us, the threat we should be willing to pay large costs to deal with, is global warming due to greenhouse gases should be strongly inclined to favor nuclear power.


I am sure there are people who are both seriously worried about global warming and in favor of nuclear power. But how many of them are there? How many high profile spokesmen or organizations have taken that position?
We know of a few. How about James Lovelock, Patrick Moore and Stewart Brand for starters?

Kevin Kamps Unmasked

Last week we told you about how anti-nuclear campaigner Kevin Kamps was masquerading as a "nuclear waste expert" during a trip to Australia.

But thanks in part to Nuclear Australia, the jig is up.

Monday, March 19, 2007

South Africa and Russia May Cooperate on Nuclear, Natural Gas Projects

From Engineering News:

South Africa is considering helping Russian state oil firm Rosneft and gas giant Gazprom in making liquid fuel from natural gas or coal, a cabinet minister said on Monday.

South Africa's Mining and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said that PetroSA officials would hold technical talks on its gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology with the two Russian firms, which are in the early stages of exploring synthetic fuel production.

"There are plans to have such talks with officials of Rosneft and Gazprom. PetroSA will be involved in the talks, which will be on technology exchange to help them produce gas- or coal-to-liquids (CTL)," she said after a formal briefing by senior leaders from the two countries.

PetroSA runs South Africa's biggest GTL pant at Mossel Bay.
South Africa has shown willingness to partner with any number of nations -- including China -- when it comes to future energy development.

Nuclear Energy Insight

The March issue of Nuclear Energy Insight is now available online. In it, you'll find an article on the nuclear energy industry’s stellar year marked by near-record production and continuing low costs. There also are reports on DTE’s preparations to seek a license for a new reactor at its Fermi reactor in Michigan and an industry briefing to Wall Street analysts. Other articles discuss the role of nuclear energy in combating climate change, the NRC’s adoption of a new security rule, and nine universities embarking on nuclear research projects. Click on Industry News/Insight.

The State of Environmental Justice in America 2007 Conference

Our old friend Norris McDonald of the African-American Environmentalist Association is responsible for putting together The State of Environmental Justice in America 2007. The conference runs from March 29-31 at Howard University Law School here in Washington, D.C.

Norris has also set up a blog to promote the conference. Be sure to check it out.

Ankle Biting Pundits on Nuclear Energy

Bull Dog Pundit, one of the contributors to the popular Ankle Biting Pundits, has some specific problems with Senator John McCain's position on energy policy in general, and a few concerning nuclear energy in particular:

Like McCain, I’m all for more nuclear power. However, here’s the problem I see with that. There hasn’t been a nuclear power plant built in the United States for decades. The reason? Well, for one they cost a great deal of money, but in terms of the long-terms cost savings it’s well worth the price.

The other big problem with building nuke plants is that the government has so regulated the industry, that it makes it nearly impossible to get one built. Further, lawsuits by environmental groups can delay the start of construction for years. Even a site that gets the initial permit from the NRC can take decades to be built, even assuming no opposition.

So what that means is that while the stated goal of greater reliance on nuclear energy is great in theory, the reality of the situation is that reliance on it is a risky proposition, and in the short term, impossible.
First of all, while there were certainly problems with new plant licensing in the past, the public needs to know that a new plant licensing process was established by NRC in 10 CFR Part 52, and that Congress reaffirmed that process in the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

A number of companies are engaged in testing the new plant licensing process, and most recently, NRC approved an early site permit to build a new reactor at Exelon's Clinton site in Illinois. Just last week, we did an interview with NRC Commissioner Jeffrey S. Merrifield where we asked him a number of questions about the new plant licensing process and how it could be reformed to speed approval of new plants while still protecting public safety. Click here for that interview.

Granted, there are a number of other challenges ahead for the industry. Certain elements of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 still need to be implemented properly. However, to imply that nothing has changed is simply inaccurate.

There's a lesson in this post. While many of the facts on the ground about nuclear energy have changed, and those of us inside the industry might be well aware of the changes that are taking place, there's still a lot of work to be done in educating others about how our industry operates and what the realities are.

More on Google and Electricity

Looney Dunes cracks the code when it comes to where Google is building its data centers.

Japan and Russia in Bilateral Energy Talks

From Bloomberg:

Japan, the world's fourth-biggest energy user, will discuss plans to boost imports of oil, gas and uranium from Russia as government officials start a 2-day meeting today.


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russia Premier Mikhail Fradkov last month agreed to start negotiations on a nuclear energy contract. The talks centered on a legal framework allowing Russia to enrich extracted uranium from Japan's spent nuclear fuel and to import nuclear related technologies from Japan.

Bodman in India to Discuss Energy Issues

From the Economic Times:

MUMBAI: Indo-US nuclear deal talks will be in the limelight this week as America’s energy secretary Samuel ‘Sam’ Bodman begins his India mission. The focus of Mr Bodman’s visit will be India’s ever rising energy needs and nuclear co-operation between the two. He is expected to discuss the issue with India’s nuclear establishment.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Texas at the Forefront of the Nuclear Renaissance

That's a story that's running in today's Houston Chronicle:

The number of nuclear-powered generators in Texas could triple in the next decade with several new projects in the works.

Expansions at the state's two existing plants — Comanche Peak [pictured to left] south of Dallas and the South Texas Project near Bay City — took steps this past week when TXU Energy said it will likely buy two reactors from Mitsubishi for the Dallas-area expansion, and NRG Energy said it will work with a Tokyo utility as an adviser for two reactors at Bay City.

Illinois-based Exelon Energy has also said it is considering sites in South and East Texas for a new two-unit plant, while a private firm in Amarillo hopes to build two new nuclear units.


The four announced projects in Texas may only be the tip of the iceberg.

TXU has indicated it may build more than just two new reactors and may place them at sites previously planned for the coal plants.

And according to the state's main power grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, power companies have expressed interest in hooking up as much as 25,000 megawatts of nuclear-generated power to the grid. That's some 14,000 megawatts more than have been announced.
Our CEO, Skip Bowman, had some thoughts on this issue when he addressed the Houston Forum back in January 2006:
In 2004, South Texas Project and Comanche Peak produced about 11 percent of the state’s electricity.

Replacing the South Texas Project (STP) and Comanche Peak generating capacity with fossil fuel sources would mean an additional 31.6 million tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of emissions from six out of every seven cars in the state.

By building emission-free generating capacity such as new nuclear power plants to meet growing electricity demand, we reduce the clean-air compliance costs that otherwise would fall on other types of generating capacity that do produce emissions. Nuclear power plants create headroom underneath emissions caps for the industrial sector and for transportation, and to allow continued economic growth.

To the extent we build new nuclear power plants, we also reduce the demands placed on natural gas supply. This time last year, as many of you know, the Texas Institute for the Advancement of Chemical Technology proposed construction of a new nuclear power plant in the Texas Gulf Coast region. That study was inspired, in part, by the desire to free up natural gas supplies used in the electric sector for hard-pressed industrial users.

The idea deserves your consideration.
Looks like the state was listening. For more, see the Energy Roundup. Related news, here.

Can Nuclear Energy Work for the Developing World?

That's a question that MIT Technology Review is asking today:

New reactor technologies offer poorer nations cheap, safe, efficient power. Sanctions designed to prevent the proliferation of weapons impede their use. What would a better policy look like?
It's an interesting quesiton, and one that deserves our attention, especially given the interest of many developing nations.

Idaho Falls Turns Out for GNEP

Details from Idaho Samizdat.

Next Week on the Hill

Here are some hearings scheduled for next week in Washington to keep an eye on:

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality hearing, “Global Climate Change,” focusing on state and local perspectives. The hearing will be held March 15, 11 a.m. (2123 Rayburn Building).

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality hearing, “Climate Change: Perspectives of Utility CEOs.” Invited witnesses include Mike Morris (American Electric Power), Gary Rainwater (Ameren), Jim Rogers (Duke), David Sokol (MidAmerican) and Jeff Sterba (PNM). The hearing will be held March 20, 9:30 a.m. (2123 Rayburn Building).

House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces hearing, “Fiscal 2008 Budget: Energy Department,” concerning the department’s atomic energy defense activities. Invited witnesses include Thomas D’Agostino, acting administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration; James Rispoli, assistant secretary of energy for environmental management; and Glenn Podonsky, director of DOE’s Office of Health, Safety and Security. The hearing will be held March 20, 10 a.m. (2212 Rayburn).

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, “Global Climate Change.” Former Vice President Al Gore is the invited witness. The hearing will be held March 21, 9:30 a.m. (106 Dirksen).

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on “The Future of Coal” study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The hearing will be held March 22, 2:30 p.m. (366 Dirksen).

Note: Committee schedules are subject to change.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Interview With NRC Commissioner Merrifield

Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to interview NRC Commissioner Jeffrey S. Merrifield in between sessions at the RIC and ask him some questions about the NRC new plant licensing process.

The interview comes in at 4:02. Click here to download.

Be sure to have the latest edition of Windows Media Player installed in order to view the content.

The Atomic Show, #51: Talking Uranium

Rod and Shane return after a couple of weeks off to talk Uranium:

Uranium is as common as tin and can be found in measurable quantities almost anywhere in the world. Its price often varies by several hundred percent over short periods of time, often encouraging booms, busts and much speculation.

Each kilogram of the material contains as much potential energy as 2 MILLION kilograms of oil or three MILLION kilograms of coal, but we use only a tiny portion of that potential energy in currently operating nuclear plants.
Click here to listen.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Commander Salamander.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Distributed Energy Canard

One of the most common arguments anti-nukes use against nuclear energy concerns the fact that a nuclear power plant is a "centralized" source of energy that can be controlled by big, bad corporate interests. In contrast, the thinking goes, renewables like wind and solar support a model of "distributed" generation that would free consumers from evil corporate utilities.

Today over at Daily Kos, N. Nadir takes a shot at that contention.

NEI Energy Markets Report (March 5th - March 9th)

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

Electricity prices were mixed throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices fell at the Henry Hub $0.50 to $7.33 / MMBtu (see page 4).

Ten reactors were in refueling outages with four beginning last week. Four reactors were down for maintenance with two finishing last week (see pages 2 & 3).

According to EIA’s Short Term Energy Outlook, February 2007 residential electricity consumption is likely to approach record levels for monthly winter demand, especially in the East North Central, Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic regions.

The Henry Hub natural gas price is projected to average $7.58 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) in 2007 compared with $7.10 in the previous Outlook (see page 8).

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

At the RIC

That's RIC as in Regulatory Information Conference, an annual event hosted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. With all the activities around possible new plants, this year's RIC is hopping, with over 2,600 people in attendance this year.

To get an idea of what's going on, click here for a copy of a speech by NRC Chairman Dale Klein and here for one from Commissioner Jeffrey S. Merrifield.

I'm leaving the office with my video camera to see if I can snag some interviews with the help of the folks on the NRC media relations staff. We may have some video clips to share as early as tomorrow.

EU Rejects Kozloduy Appeal, Even in the Face of Rising Electricity Prices

From the EU Observer:

Bulgaria's plea to restart two reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant has suffered a blow, with the European Commission appearing to reject the idea despite growing pressure from the Balkans in support of Sofia.

On Monday (13 March), four Balkan countries - Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Croatia - adopted a declaration, asking the EU to allow Bulgaria to resume electricity production and warning of grim consequences if the two reactors were not reopened.

"We are concerned about the current electricity supply problems of the region, which could result in higher economic and political instability," the common statement, cited by the BBC, said. The statement also claimed that electricity prices had jumped 80-100% when compared with last year.

Prior to the shut-down in 2006, Bulgaria exported 7.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, the amount that roughly equals to what the two nuclear reactors in Kozloduy produced.
I guess the EU would rather have these member states importing Russian natural gas to generate their electricity. For more from our archive, click here.

APPA Resolution Calls for Streamlining of New Reactor Licensing

From the American Public Power Association:

Members of the American Public Power Association today adopted unanimously a resolution urging Congress to “consider carefully all solutions for addressing climate change” and to incorporate 10 principles in any new federal policy designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). They said federal legislation must be economy-wide and apply to all industry sectors, consider the financial impact on consumers, and protect the ability of U.S. industries to compete in world markets. They also asked Congress to ensure that incentives for the development and deployment of renewable and clean energy are provided on a comparable basis to all sectors of the electric utility industry, including the not-for-profit, community- and state-owned public power sector.
Here are the relevant passages:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That the American Public Power Association (APPA) supports efforts to provide the NRC with all the regulatory and statutory tools necessary to streamline the licensing of advanced nuclear generating facilities so as to shorten the time necessary to win final approval of an application for the operation of a new nuclear unit; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That APPA urges the Congress to pass legislation that may be necessary for the NRC to set in place a standard regime for the licensing of new nuclear plants that takes into account the “standard design” components of applicants so as to shorten the lengthy review process for the granting of final operating licenses; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That APPA urges the responsible federal agencies, including the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to take steps to promptly implement the provisions contained in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to encourage the development of advanced nuclear generating facilities and for Congress to fully fund these provisions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That APPA urges the Congress to provide a comparable incentive to the production tax credit available to investor-owned utilities for public power systems to invest in building new generation nuclear plants and to reinstate the advance antitrust review for new nuclear plants eliminated in EPAct05.

TXU to Order Mitsubishi's APWR

From Reuters:

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd is set to receive a $5.2 billion order to build two nuclear reactors for U.S. power plant operator TXU Corp. the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday.

TXU said in August 2006 that it planned to file construction and operating license applications in 2008 to build two to six gigawatts of new nuclear capacity at one to three sites in Texas. The company expects the new reactors to enter service between 2015 and 2020.

This is the first company in the U.S. to announce intentions to build this type and it's the largest reactor (1,700 MW) yet. For a list of other company's new nuclear plant intentions in the U.S. click here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The OPEC of Natural Gas

More bad news for American and its allies from the WSJ Energy Blog:

OPEC, meet Opegasur.

That’s the name of a new natural-gas cartel established this morning in an agreement between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Argentina’s President Nestor Kirchner.

Opegasur, which stands for Organizacion de Paises Productores, Exportadores de Gas del Sur, will also include Brazil and Bolivia. It will be built around a $20 billion gas pipeline that will eventually connect the four countries.

There has been talk that the natural-gas cartel might never get off the ground. But it may not be long before an even bigger — and scarier, to U.S. interests anyway — cartel takes shape, Michael J. Economides, editor-in-chief of Energy Tribune, warned recently on Foreign Policy’s Web site.

“With domestic gas production in decline, the United States and many of its allies will grow more dependent on imports to generate electricity and heat homes,” he wrote. “Gas suppliers will band together in response to the growing global demand, just as oil producers did decades ago. Few people talk about the looming U.S. dependency on imported natural gas, but it could be painful.
Actually, here at NEI Nuclear Notes, we've been sounding the alarm bells since January 2006, when we noted that Russia's fight with Ukraine over natural gas supplies could very well presage a time when that nation held the entire continent of Europe hostage over dwindling supplies of natural gas. It's exactly that fear that has led U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair to advocate the replacement of Britain's aging fleet of Magnox nuclear reactors.

So, in effect, those who oppose expanded use of nuclear energy are more or less compromising the energy security of the entire free world. In Europe, retarding the expansion of nuclear energy means that more natural gas-fired electric generating capacity will be built, with the most logical sources of liquified natural gas being Russia and Iran. Here in North America, it will be nations like Venezuela who use the natural gas weapon against the U.S. and its allies.

The Future of Nuclear Energy in Europe

In the wake of this weekend's deal on European greenhouse gas emissions, the European Tribune has some thoughts on the future of nuclear energy on the continent.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit View From the Bushes, who has some thoughts on nuclear waste and double standards.

The New Seven Sisters and the Implications for Energy Security

After the breakup of Standard Oil, the seven companies that dominated global oil production became known as the "Seven Sisters". Yesterday, via the WSJ Energy Blog, we learned that the Finanical Times has designated seven new members of the sisterhood -- and the implications for the free world are rather alarming:

The new Seven, per the FT, are Saudi Aramco, Russia’s Gazprom, CNPC of China (parent of PetroChina), NIOC of Iran, Venezuela’s PDVSA, Brazil’s Petrobras and Petronas of Malaysia.

All are state-controlled. A few are owned by governments that are less-than-friendly, if not downright hostile, toward the U.S. Many are flexing their “resource nationalism,” wresting control of lucrative oil and gas projects from foreign companies, including the old Sisters.

Together, the FT points out, the new Sisters control more than 10 times the oil reserves of the old Sisters. They produce more than twice as much oil as the old Sisters.

The new Sisters only lag the old Sisters in net income. But the new group will likely control the world’s production for decades to come...
As if you didn't need another reason to give nuclear energy a second look. Did I forget to mention that the two nations with the largest proven reserves of uranium are Australia and Canada?

What Makes a Specialist?

Kevin Kamps, taking a tour of Australia to talk about the dangers of nuclear energy, is billing himself as a "nuclear waste specialist".

J.F. Beck is less than impressed:

Kamps is nothing more than an anti-nuclear activist with no real authority to speak to the weighty matter of nuclear energy. Despite this, the ABC gives him national coverage as a "nuclear waste specialist". Even worse, the Mackay Daily Mercury bills him as a "nuclear waste expert". With the MSN propagandizing for environmentalists it's no wonder people cringe at the mere mention of "nuclear".
Then again, for many of us, it's just another day at the office.

UPDATE: Time to add a new blog to your bookmarks: Nuclear Australia.

Monday, March 12, 2007

'Big Oil' Must Go Nuclear

From ThisIsMoney:

Shell and BP will have to go nuclear if they want to remain 'supermajor' leaders of the global energy industry.

That is the startling finding of a major report into the energy industry in the age of climate change by JPMorgan.

The US investment bank envisages that 'Big Oil' will play a significant role in the future redevelopment of nuclear power.

The JPMorgan report suggests that within 10 years, nuclear will be at the top of the agenda for a world preoccupied with clean, green energy and replacing diminishing global stocks of oil and gas.

Nuclear is also likely to come to be seen as the only effective future for the socalled 'hydrogen economy', when powercharged fuel cells replace oil in the global automotive industry and elsewhere.

This could definitely be great if oil companies get into the nuclear game. They have plenty of market capital to build new reactors in the first place and would be able to fund billion dollar projects without blinking.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

EU Climate Deal Gives Boost to Nuclear Energy

From the Times of London:

The role of nuclear power in Europe received an unexpected boost yesterday as EU leaders hailed a landmark climate change deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and switch to renewable fuels.

Environmentalists complained that an ambitious headline goal to cut Europe’s CO emissions by a fifth by 2020 had been weakened by concessions to the main nuclear nations and the biggest polluters in Eastern Europe.

Nonetheless, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, will use the agreement struck at the spring EU summit in Brussels to put pressure on world leaders to follow suit when she hosts the G8 meeting in June.


Jacques Chirac, the outgoing French President, welcomed the deal as one of the top three achievements of the EU during his 12 years in the Elysée Palace.

Tony Blair was also pleased with the concession towards the nuclear powers. The outcome will give a boost to his plans to rebuild Britain’s ageing nuclear power stations which suffered a setback last month when the High Court ruled that the consultation process was seriously flawed. Mr Blair said: “There is then the 20 per cent target on renewable energy. In setting that, there will be permission to look at the energy mix that countries have . . . including nuclear technology, which obviously helps the UK as well.”

Friday, March 09, 2007

Arguing Nuclear Energy at The Oil Drum

Back on March 1, The Oil Drum kicked off a discussion of nuclear energy. Here we are 10 days later and the discussion is still going on. Be sure to stop by and add your two cents.

Sellafield Using RFID for Radiation Detection

Via RFID Journal comes a story about how Sellafield is using RFID monitoring for radiation dtetection.

WGI Inks Deal With Mitsubishi on U.S.-APWR

Just off the wire:

Washington GroupInternational (Nasdaq: WGII) announced today that it has been selected by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), to provide design certification document engineering and licensing services to support MHI's plans to launch its new advanced pressurized water reactor model, the US-APWR, in the U.S. market.

Washington Group will perform services to prepare the design certification document to assist MHI efforts to obtain Nuclear Regulatory Commission certification of the US-APWR design. After the design certification document has been approved, Washington Group will leverage its nuclear industry and regulatory expertise to support MHI's introduction of its technology in the United States.

"Nuclear power is expected to return to prominence in meeting growing energy needs," said Lou Pardi, president of Washington Group's Power Business Unit. "Washington Group International has been providing nuclear expertise since the industry's infancy, and this project continues our heritage of leadership and innovation. We plan to be involved with several new nuclear technologies in order to serve the current and future owners of new nuclear plants worldwide."

France Digs in Over EU Fight on Nuclear Energy

From the Guardian:

Divisions over nuclear power and renewable energy threatened to derail the EU's campaign to assume a global leadership role in the fight against climate change at the bloc's spring summit which began last night. Warning that "it is closer to five past midnight than five to midnight" for international measures to combat global warming, Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel, chairing the meeting, urged EU leaders to "deliver results for our grandchildren" by making Europe the world's first low-carbon economy via a unilateral 20% cut in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

But France, backed by several east European countries, insisted carbon-free nuclear power be included within the EU energy mix and rejected Ms Merkel's proposal to make a 20% target for renewable energy binding on all 27 members.
Think the recent forced shutdown of the two reactors in Bulgaria had anything to do with Eastern European countries refusing to buckle down this time?

For more, visit The Transatlantic Assembly.

UPDATE: The FT looks at exactly the same news, and comes up with a completely different spin on reality. For a more realistic look at things, check out World Nuclear News.

FINAL UPDATE: Looks like we have a deal:
While the deal laid down Europe-wide goals for cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and developing renewable sources, separate national targets will have to be set with the consent of member states, presaging years of wrangling between Brussels and governments.
Which sounds like the coalition of France and Eastern Europe have kept the nuclear energy option alive.

Virginia Needs More Electricity

On the morning of February 6, 2007, Dominion Virginia Power set a peak winter usage record of 18,079 megawatts.

We Support Lee thinks it's time for a third reactor at North Anna.

Boy, Those Rock Concerts Use a Lot of Electricity!

Over at NAM Blog, Carter Wood writes about how he ran into a USPIRG canvasser who wanted to ignore the connection between affordable and reliable electricity and rock 'n roll.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Reid Release on Yucca Mountain Legislation

From the office of Senator Harry Reid:

Today U.S. Senators Harry Reid and John Ensign of Nevada introduced bipartisan legislation that would require nuclear waste to be stored at the facilities where it is produced. The Federal Accountability for Nuclear Waste Storage Act of 2007 would eliminate the need for the proposed Yucca Mountain Project.

"As elected leaders, we have a moral responsibility to protect the thousands of Nevadans and millions of Americans that could be put in harm's way because of projects like proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump," said Reid. "This isn't just a Nevada issue, it's a national issue. It would be dangerous and irresponsible to ship the most dangerous substance known to man through cities and small towns, and past schools, hospitals and businesses so it could be buried 90 miles outside of Las Vegas. The next step forward is to secure nuclear waste in scientifically sound ways at the sites where it is produced. This legislation will accomplish that."

"This bill provides a safe, responsible, common sense way to dispose of nuclear waste," said Ensign. "We must look for long-term innovative solutions to recycle waste produced by nuclear power, and as we look for these solutions, we should not transport dangerous waste through cities and rural areas across our nation to Yucca Mountain."

The bill would also require the federal government to take responsibility for possession, stewardship, maintenance, and monitoring of the waste and increase safety at all nuclear power plants by providing funding for additional security to guard against accidents or terrorist attack.
For the NEI statement on the said legislation, click here.

UPDATE: Thanks to my friend Kelly Taylor for passing along this link to a feature at MSNBC. Be sure to read it all, and take time for the companion video as well.

NRC Approves Browns Ferry Uprate

From NRC:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a request by the Tennessee Valley Authority to increase the generating capacity of Browns Ferry Unit 1 by 5 percent.

The NRC staff's review of TVA's application has been part of the agency's intensive oversight of the proposed restart of Unit 1, which has been inactive since March 1985 and was reloaded with nuclear fuel in December 2006. The NRC staff concluded that, as long as all other issues related to restart were satisfactorily resolved, TVA could operate the reactor at a higher power level, primarily by upgrading major plant components such as turbines and transformers. NRC staff also reviewed TVA evaluations that showed the plant's design can handle the increased power level.
There's been a lot of great news lately. Congratulations to the team at TVA on a job well done.

You Can Help Close the Nuclear Fuel Cycle!

No, this doesn't mean that we need you to find the best way to transmute minor actinides (though if you do have that information I know some places that are hiring). But you can go far in making nuclear fuel recycling a national priority by showing your support at a Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) scoping meeting that DOE is holding in Washington, DC on Monday, March 19. The meeting will be at the Hotel Washington from 1pm to 5pm, though I suggest that advocates arrive no later than 12:30pm.

DOE has held seven such scoping meetings in communities that are potential hosts for GNEP facilities. In locations such as North Augusta, GA and Carlsbad, NM local supporters organized themselves and the meetings were very positive with balanced media coverage. However, in Joliett, IL nuclear opponents outnumbered supporters by about 3 to 1 and media coverage was predictably negative.

There are no potential GNEP sites in the Washington, DC area but it is still important that nuclear advocates demonstrate support of the initiative. Antinuclear groups are certain to be present and we want to ensure that the PRO-nuclear message is the dominant one!

Plus, while Congress, policymakers, and media of all stripes increasingly recognize the important contribution nuclear makes to meeting our energy and environmental goals, there remains much skepticism about advanced fuel cycle initiatives. To help overcome such skepticism I believe our leaders and the media need to see that citizens want our country to pursue a path that will better utilize natural resources and make the world cleaner and safer.

There are several things you can do to help:

  • Attend the meeting and speak as a representative of your organization.
  • Attend the meeting and speak as a private citizen. If you want help in crafting a message, please send an email to But it is also tremendously beneficial just to say something as short as “My name is John Q Public and I work in the energy industry. I support the GNEP initiative because I know nuclear energy is clean, safe, and reliable and an important part of a balanced energy mix in this country. By recycling used fuel, the GNEP initiative will encourage greater use of nuclear energy and will more efficiently use our natural resources.”
  • Attend the meeting and wear a pro-nuclear sticker.
  • If you can’t attend the meeting but would like to show your support, you can write a letter to DOE. The Federal Register Notice is here with contact information at the bottom of the first column on the second page.

Some online resources include:

1. DOE's GNEP website
2. An excellent Op-ed
3. Fact Sheet on the economic benefits of power plants to states and local communities—not exactly the same thing as GNEP facilities, but comparable.
4. Fact Sheet on preventing proliferation with a short section on GNEP
5. Policy Brief about advanced fuel cycle technologies

Speakers must sign in at the meeting no later than 12:45 pm to be assured a slot and the earlier you sign-up the better. There may be time at the end of the meeting for additional speakers, but it isn’t guaranteed. If you are representing an organization be sure to let them know at the sign-in table because they may have representatives go first.

If you plan to attend or speak or have any questions, please send an email to


    NRC Approves Clinton ESP

    From Reuters:

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved on Thursday the first site in over 30 years that could eventually house a new nuclear power plant, but the United States is still far away from breaking ground on any new reactors.

    The NRC's action clears the location for a new nuclear reactor but does not yet approve building a specific reactor.

    Exelon Corp., which sought the agency's first-ever early site permit in September 2003, would have up to 20 years to seek a license from the NRC to build and operate a reactor at the company's Clinton, Illinois, site, where it already has one nuclear reactor generating electricity.
    Congratulations to the team at Exelon for a job well done.

    Archives Online for Nuclear Policy Outlook

    A couple of weeks ago Eric let you know that the January/February 2007 issue of Nuclear Policy Outlook is available online. Well, now all issues going back through 2004 are available in NEI's online Library. Previously a quarterly newsletter for NEI members only, Outlook now publishes on a bimonthly basis so everyone can read analysis of the nuclear energy industry’s most critical policy issues. The Jan/Feb edition examines how the changing congressional leadership will affect the industry and its legislative priorities. Up next for March/April is used nuclear fuel management. In the meantime, check out the archive.

    Senator McCain Supports Yucca Mountain

    From last week's Deseret News:

    Arizona Sen. John McCain said Friday he supports high-level nuclear waste storage in Nevada — even though Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. praised McCain as the only GOP presidential candidate who understands Western issues.

    Huntsman, along with most elected officials and voters in the West, opposes the proposed Yucca Mountain facility, citing concerns about radioactive waste being transported through Utah and other states on its way to the site.

    But McCain mocked a question about the dangers of transporting nuclear waste while speaking with Utah reporters.

    "Oh, you have to travel through states ... I am for Yucca Mountain. I'm for storage facilities. It's a lot better than sitting outside power plants all over America," he said, then added, "I don't mean to be sarcastic. I apologize. But I believe we can transport waste safely."

    Is Nuclear Power Green? Part 2

    Over at Gristmill, anti-nuclear zealot David Roberts is at it again. This time with the Christian Science Monitor article I referenced yesterday. Roberts:

    The question is not whether nuclear power is "acceptable" or "good" by some subjective standard -- economic, moral, or otherwise. It's not even whether investments in nuclear power could lead to emission reductions. The question is: what is the maximum amount of climate change mitigation we can get for a given dollar of investment? Nuclear fails that test.
    Hmmm, where have we heard that before? Oh yeah, Amory Lovins. Roberts quotes him in the post but that last sentence from Roberts above looks like he’s pawning Lovins’ words as his own.

    We have dealt with Mr. Lovins’ arguments plenty of times, but we’ll go another round.
    "It's easy to show that building more reactors makes climate change worse than it should have been," says Amory Lovins, chairman of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy think tank in Snowmass, Colo. "That's because a dollar put into new reactors gives two to 10 times less climate solution for the amount of coal-power displaced than if you had bought cheaper solutions with the same dollars.
    So what are Lovins’ solutions? Efficiency, cogeneration and renewables. And which one of these can replace a baseload source of power like coal? Only cogeneration. And what is cogeneration fueled by? Natural gas. Unless my memory escaped me, doesn’t natural gas create emissions by burning it? And if you’re creating emissions, how is it a “climate solution”? According to EIA, natural gas accounts for 20% of the U.S.’ total CO2 emissions. You have to have some convoluted assumptions to come up with a way that natural gas is a greater solution to climate change than nuclear. Mr. Lovins’ argument doesn’t even pass the logic test.

    Mr. Roberts needs to ask himself if some of Mr. Lovins’ quotes make sense. Lovins’ quote here: "It's easy to show that building more reactors makes climate change worse than it should have been," should raise a red flag to readers all over. But I guess not, since they go unquestioned and repeated as gospel by the antis. Oh well. All we can do is keep repeating our message that if we want clean, affordable and reliable power, nuclear energy needs to remain an option.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    How Green is Nuclear Power?

    That's what the Christian Science Monitor is asking:

    "Saying nuclear is carbon-free is not true," says Uwe Fritsche, a researcher at the Öko Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, who has conducted a life-cycle analysis of the plants. "It's less carbon-intensive than fossil fuel. But if you are honest, scientifically speaking, the truth is: There is no carbon-free energy. There's no free lunch."
    Well it's good to see they are not spouting the anti's claims on CO2 emissions. They appear to do some homework on the issue. NEI's Paul Genoa is there to represent:
    "Yes, absolutely there's carbon," says Paul Genoa, director of policy development for the Nuclear Energy Institute, which represents the nuclear power industry in the US. "Most studies have found life-cycle emissions of nuclear to be comparable with renewable. Some show nuclear to be extremely high, but we do not find those credible."
    Stewart Peterson has a different view on the whole life cycle analysis issue here. And be sure to check out the Wall Street Journal's blog on the CSM article.

    NEI Energy Markets Report (February 26th - March 2nd)

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

    Electricity prices were mixed throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices fell at the Henry Hub $0.50 to $7.33 / MMBtu (see page 4).

    Nuclear plant availability was 91% last week with six reactors down for refueling and five reactors down for maintenance (see pages 2 & 3).

    By 2011, the following amounts of new generating capacity are expected to start up: 43,000 MW coal; 46,000 MW natural gas; and 25,000 MW wind (see page 8).

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

    The Nuclear Energy Search Engine

    Stewart Peterson, the mind behind the blog Nuclear is our Future, has created a specialized Google search engine just for the nuclear energy industry.

    Here's how he describes it:

    've tried to make the information as reliable as possible; it searches neither LaRouchies nor Greenpeace-type sites, but focuses on informational (neutral and pro-nuclear; if there were an anti-nuclear site with reliable information I'd include it, but then it probably wouldn't be anti-nuclear) and government websites.

    Please try it out and tell me if it works for you--or if you can't find things; there's no point in me linking to something that doesn't work.
    In other words, this is still a work in progress. So stop by, kick the tires, and if you have any suggestions, send them Stewart's way.

    Nuclear Industry Welcomes Introduction Of Legislation to Manage Used Nuclear Fuel

    The following is a statement by NEI Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs, Alex Flint regarding the U.S. DOE's submission to Congress yesterday of the “Nuclear Fuel Management and Disposal Act”:

    “The nuclear energy industry is pleased that the Bush Administration has sent legislation to Congress to facilitate implementation of the federal government’s used nuclear fuel management program. We view this legislation as additional evidence that the administration continues its support for nuclear energy as an essential part of a diverse energy portfolio for our nation.

    “This legislation addresses one of the three key foundational pieces of the integrated used fuel management strategy that the industry has embraced to protect the environment in an era of expanded use of nuclear energy. In addition to the planned Yucca Mountain disposal facility that is the focus of this legislation, the industry advocates research and development and demonstration projects to recycle nuclear fuel, along with interim storage of used nuclear fuel until commercial-scale recycling technologies or permanent disposal – or both – are available.

    “As Congress considers this legislation, the Department of Energy should continue to take the steps necessary to submit a license application for the repository to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by June 2008. Timely submittal of the application does not hinge upon legislative action.

    “The nuclear energy industry will work with the administration and Congress to ensure that the federal obligation to remove used nuclear fuel from reactor sites is met as soon as possible. For more than 20 years, electricity customers have paid funds through their monthly electricity bills into the federal Nuclear Waste Fund specifically for the development of a geologic repository for used nuclear fuel. This legislation will help the government meet its obligation to the American people while being a good environmental steward.”