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Showing posts from June, 2013

“Nuclear is indispensable as part of the global energy mix today.”

Just because you’re new at this nuclear energy stuff doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion about it:"Countries with nuclear reactors continue to operate their reactors - 434 nuclear power reactors are in operation today, 69 under construction and more are planned," said Mr Al Mazrouei. "This demonstrates, despite the challenges, that nuclear energy will continue to play a significant role in the global energy sector." Mr. Al Mazrouei is UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei. I doubt nuclear energy was even on his radar 10 years ago, but the UAE recently poured concrete for the second of four planned reactors at Barakah. And good for him. He was speaking at an IAEA summit in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) and he wasn’t the only emirati there."The reality is nuclear is indispensable as part of the global energy mix today," Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE permanent representative to the IAEA, told The National."It continues to be economical and environ…

Why Extension of the U.S.-ROK Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement is Critical to U.S. Interests

The following is a guest post by Ted Jones, Director of International Supplier Relations for NEI.
This afternoon, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on H.R. 2449, to authorize the President to extend the current U.S.-South Korea nuclear cooperation agreement until March 2016.  U.S. and South Korea negotiators had hoped to conclude negotiations for a long-term successor to the 30-year agreement earlier this spring, but ran out of time. 
Temporary extension of the current agreement will avoid a disruption of U.S.-ROK nuclear energy cooperation while negotiation of the long-term renewal agreement is finalized.  Bilateral nuclear energy trade flows in both directions and increasingly to third countries.  For example, U.S. Export-Import Bank last year authorized financing for $2 billion in U.S. exports to a South Korean-led project in the U.A.E.
Seamless continuation of U.S.-ROK nuclear cooperation is essential for the United States and South Korea to remain reliable nucle…

Insistence on the “Gold Standard” in Nuclear Trade Will Harm U.S. Nonproliferation Goals

The following is a guest post written by NEI's Tom Kauffman. Though Tom now works in NEI's media relations shop, he spent 23 years working at Three Mile Island, seven of those as a licensed reactor operator. 

The authors of the recent Weekly Standard opinion piece “Hucksterism vs. Nonproliferation, Irreconcilable U.S. Nuclear Policies,” (subscription required) insist that the U.S. government condition all of its peaceful nuclear cooperation agreements with other nations on their renunciation of the technologies used for the enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of used fuel. Proponents of this restriction, known as the “Gold Standard,” claim it will raise a higher standard against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It would in fact have the opposite effect.

Because enrichment and reprocessing technologies can potentially be used to produce a nuclear weapon, it is important to restrain their spread. But proliferation of these technologies through legal nuclear energy trade i…

Move Along, Nothing to See Here: The President’s Uncontroversial Comments About Nuclear Energy

Favorite reactor to President Obama’s climate change speech has to be this headline from Power Engineering:Reaction to Obama climate speech varies by interest groupWho’da thunk it? The article does supply a roundup of “interest group” reactions. Here’s NEI President and CEO Marv Fertel for nuclear energy:[A]tomic power is critical to any domestic climate plan. "There is no debating this fact: Nuclear energy produces nearly two-thirds of America's carbon-free electricity,” Fertel said.So no debating – since it’s true – and it’s also true that nuclear energy will claim a large share of the carbon-free electricity pie for a long time to come.In all, the President’s shout-out to nuclear energy was not controversial, perhaps surprisingly so. Fertel is stating a simple truth that is generally accepted. Even the staunchest anti-nuclear advocate must be fairly sanguine by now about Obama’s view of the atom and can only sigh at the injustice of it all. If there will be controversy ar…

Carbon-Free Nuclear Energy Must Play Strong Role to Achieve U.S. Climate Goals, NEI Says

Following is a statement regarding President Obama’s plan to address climate change and control carbon emissions by the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer, Marvin Fertel:
“The strength of America’s electric system is diversity of technologies and fuel types. When it comes to reducing the U.S. electric sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, efforts can succeed only if carbon-free nuclear energy plays a larger role in the nation’s electricity mix. That’s not simply the opinion of our industry. It is the determination made by several independent organizations that analyzed the leading climate change bills pending in Congress some five years ago when prospects for enacting legislative measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions appeared to have momentum. These include the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Information Administration, which found that between 69 and 187 new nuclear energy facilities would be needed to meet the bills’ carbon reduction …

Excerpts from President Obama’s Climate Action Plan Regarding Nuclear Energy

Like plenty of folks in Washington today, we'll be paying close attention to President Obama's speech on climate change. The President will be giving the speech today at 1:30 p.m. U.S. EDT at Georgetown University. You can watch the speech via a live stream from WhiteHouse.gov.

Copies of the climate plan were leaked to the media overnight. Brad Plumer of Wonk Blog has already done an initial analysis. Here at NEI, we've already taken a look at the plan and excerpted all of the sections below that contain references to nuclear energy.
With abundant clean energy solutions available, and building on the leadership of states and local governments, we can make continued progress in reducing power plant pollution to improve public health and the environment while supplying the reliable, affordable power needed for economic growth. By doing so, we will continue to drive American leadership in clean energy technologies, such as efficient natural gas, nuclear, renewables, and cle…

Nuclear Numbers Up in France

A poll over at Ouest France shows that support for nuclear energy has risen over the last two years, to the point that the percentage of people who do not support it has become strikingly small – at least among those with an opinion. Since there is no English version of the site, let’s look at the numbers as reported by World Nuclear News:Of the 2004 respondents, 36% declared themselves to support the use of nuclear energy in France, up from 33% in November 2011 and 32% in July 2011. Meanwhile, the proportion expressing opposition to the use of nuclear energy had fallen to 14%, down 3% from the November 2011 figures and 6% from July 2011.That leaves out half the population. What about them?About a third of the population polled (34%) described themselves as "hesitant", or undecided, towards nuclear energy. Ifop [the polling firm] notes that for the first time since Fukushima, the pro-nuclear percentage of the population outnumbers the undecided. Meanwhile 16% of respondents…

VIDEO: Simona De Silvestro on Parallels between IndyCar and Nuclear Energy Industry

Earlier this year, IndyCar driver Simona De Silvestro sat down in the NEI studio to discuss her involvement with the Nuclear Clean Air Energy campaign. She emphasized the passion, innovation and results-oriented approach found in both racing and the nuclear energy industry. De Silvestro also spoke about the importance of promoting STEM education and nuclear energy to students around the country.

Watch the video below and learn why nuclear and IndyCar racing pair together so well:

Memo to Fox News: Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Energy Are Not The Same

Last Wednesday, word leaked out through media channels that President Obama would include a call for further nuclear arms reduction in a speech has was scheduled to deliver in Berlin, Germany at the famous Brandenberg Gate. When Fox News got hold of the story, they figured the best image to twin with a picture of the President would be a shot of a cooling tower at an unnamed nuclear power plant.
Needless to say, while I understand why editors and reporters often conflate nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear energy, it doesn't make it any less annoying when it happens. As we've pointed out in the past, generating nuclear electricity actually contributes to a more peaceful world. The best example of why that's true has to be the Megatons to Megawatts program, an effort to downblend former Soviet nuclear warheads into reactor fuel. Right now, about half of the electricity generated by our nation’s nuclear energy facilities is from fuel that was once part of the Soviet Union…

Song of SONGS: The Moral Dimension of Nuclear Energy

The San Diego Union-Tribune offers an exceptionally interesting op-ed on the closing of San Onofre (which is about midway between San Diego and Los Angeles):For economical reasons alone, it would be shortsighted to exclude nuclear from California’s future power mix, particularly given major technical advances made in the 60 years since SONGS technology was conceived.San Onofre didn’t stand still in terms of technology, but it’s a good point. What’s really striking about the editorial is that it spends many of its column inches waxing philosophical about nuclear energy and electricity production more broadly. That’s not usual in case-making op-eds.Electricity empowers modern industrialized nations. Those that don’t have economical energy are at a disadvantage in an increasingly globalized economy. If energy is expensive because of insufficient supply or high costs of generation, consumers suffer. This can mean lower productivity, slower business and jobs growth, lower wages and lower …

Pandora’s Promise in Review

Opening Reviews? Mixed, with a tilt to the positive.Manohla Dargis in the New York Times grabbed a little harder than I did at the drubbing of Dr. Helen Calidicott got in the picture and said it showed the movie’s one-sided view of nuclear energy.This comic divide — the strident old lady environmentalist with the apparent bad dye job (Ms. Caldicott) versus a Yoda of the modern environmental movement (Mr. Brand) — makes for quite a setup. Yet such deck-stacking in movies can also be a viewer turnoff, no matter how seemingly worthy the cause. And “Pandora’s Promise” is as stacked as advocate movies get. The descriptions of Caldicott and Brand are pretty terrible - remind me not to get on Dargis’ bad side. I used to work in the independent film business in New York (briefly, ineffectually) and a positive review from the Times was very important to launch an independent picture. One of the companies I worked for went pear shaped after a poor NYT review.That’s not as true now as it was whe…

Does Nuclear Energy Still Have a Future? You Better Believe It Does.

Ever since last week's announcement of the closure of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, we've been seeing a spate of stories in the press questioning whether or not nuclear energy has a future as part of the nation's energy mix. Here at NEI, the answer is a resounding yes, and part of the confidence springs from the fact that we've passed this way before. Back in the 1990s, we saw 10 reactors shut down for a variety of different reasons, and it wasn't uncommon for the press to wonder if the only growth part of the business was in decommissioning reactors.

So what happened? Well, the industry got back to work figuring out how to do our jobs better than before. Over the course of a decade or so, the industry's average capacity factor rose from the high 70s to near 90% across the entire fleet. And thanks to a number of companies performing plant uprates, the U.S. nuclear fleet actually produces more electricity today from fewer reactors.

So reports of our dea…

The Power of Doubt in Pandora’s Promise

Note: Be sure to look at all of Nuclear Notes’ coverage of this important movie, most notably Eric’s review below. Should you trust a “review” of Pandora’s Promise, Robert Stone’s new movie on nuclear energy, from this particular site? Well, that’s up to you to decide. If I thought the movie terrible as a film going experience, there would still be a lot to say about it – and I wouldn’t want people who have waited a long time for a pro-nuclear movie to avoid it on my account unless it was a briar patch of lies. But Pandora’s Promise is good. It’s skillfully made, accessible to an interested general audience (in both style and content – this isn’t a dry dissertation) and it maintains a simple interview approach – shots are composed but the compositions are largely determined by the subjects – it isn’t as tightly controlled as an Errol Morris special. And it allows a more complex point-of-view than is usual for a subject vulnerable to blunt polemics – for example, it shows how decis…

Did Pandora's Promise Miss John Kerry's Change of Heart on Nuclear Energy?

One of the big ideas pushed by Pandora's Promise concerns the potential of breeder reactors to provide a technological fix to the political question of what to do with used nuclear fuel. A considerable segment of the film tells the story of the Experimental Breeder Reactor II (EBR-II) project at Argonne National Laboratory in Idaho and how funding for the project was killed in 1994 at the behest of the Clinton Administration.

The film contains a brief clip of U.S. Secretary of State and former U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) urging his fellow senators to end funding for the EBR-II. But what the film didn't mention is that like the five environmentalists profiled in Pandora's Promise, Secretary Kerry has undergone something of a conversion on the question on nuclear energy himself.

Back in 2010, then-Senator Kerry was a co-sponsor of the American Power Act. Though it failed to pass into law, the proposed legislation included a number of key incentives that would have encour…

A Brief Review of Pandora's Promise

It was back in 2006 that NEI Nuclear Notes published its first post with the title, "Another Environmentalist for Nuclear Energy." At the time, I could certainly have understood how a statement like that might seem more than a bit unbelievable.

Environmentalists? Supporting? Nuclear? Energy? Wasn't the environmental community unanimously opposed to nuclear energy? 

But what I had begun to see at the time was a growing understanding on the part of a number of thoughtful people about the size and scope of the challenge before mankind. How do you support a world with a growing population that aspires to enjoy the same standard of living that we've grown accustomed to in the developed world? And how do you do it without causing catastrophic damage to the planet?

It's was that conundrum that led environmentalists like Patrick Moore, James Lovelock and the late Rev. Hugh Montefiore to reconsider their position on nuclear energy. What began as a trickle has since beco…

Lost in the Nuclear Clouds

I watched Cloud Atlas (2012) over the last two nights (it’s almost 3 hours long) and was surprised that one plotline involves a nuclear energy facility, at least tangentially. If you haven’t seen the movie, it tells six distinct stories in widely variant time periods, each in its own style. Like D.W. Griffith’s similarly structuredIntolerance (1916), its stories are built around a common theme – in the case of Cloud Atlas, the interconnectedness of everyone through eternity. To bring this point home, many of the actors play roles in all six stories, crossing gender, racial and ethnic lines. This is different than the David Mitchell novel the movie is based on, which doesn’t suggest the characters reincarnate; the novel also tells the six stories sequentially while the movie intercuts them, sometimes in very quick shots, to make the theme and the connections clearer.All this sounds tricky, even gimmicky, but the filmmakers (the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer) work very hard to keep …

Robert Stone and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Clash After Screening of Pandora's Promise

On Monday night, I traveled to Pleasantville, NY to attend a screening of Pandora's Promise. While I had originally intended to provide live coverage of the event via NEI's Twitter feed, I was foiled by poor reception inside the theater. I'm writing this summary to take it's place.

Pleasantville is only a 27-minute ride from Indian Point Energy Center, and a number of local anti-nuclear activists as well as plant employees were in attendance. All of us were met at the theater entrance by a volunteer from Riverkeeper who was distributing a copy of Pandora’s False Promises, a primer produced by Paul Gunter’s Beyond Nuclear. The presence of the Riverkeeper volunteer led the film’s director, Robert Stone, to quip from the podium that it was the “first time he had been picketed.”


I'm planning on posting a full review of the movie here on NEI Nuclear Notes ahead of Friday's nationwide premiere, so I won’t go into much detail concerning the film itself. From a person…

Reactions to San Onofre Closing: It “ought to jolt the governor”

The reaction to the closure of San Onofre in the California Press has been mixed, to say the least. The anti-nuclear feeling out there has faded a bit, as demonstrated by the failure to get enough signatures for ballot measure to close San Onofre and Diablo Canyon, but there’s still a fair amount of it.Still, this leads to a Jekyll-Hyde response to the closure. Here, as exhibit A, is the Sacramento Bee. Take it away, Jekyll:But San Onofre and California's one remaining nuke, Diablo Canyon, delivered more than 15% of the state's electricity. San Onofre, located in northwest San Diego County, supplied power to 1.4 million homes. The plant cannot be replaced solely with sun and wind, at least not with current technology.Still to be answered: Will the bills of Edison customers go up because of the utility's need to purchase more expensive power from elsewhere?Your turn, Hyde:Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and anti-nuclear energy activists hailed the closure. Clearly, nuclear po…

Where Can I See the Nuclear Energy Documentary Pandora's Promise?

This evening in Pleasantville, NY at the Jacob Burns Film Center, Robert Stone's new documentary, Pandora's Promise, will have its New York premiere. Following the screening, Stone will have a discussion with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. of Riverkeeper about the film. The discussion will be moderated by Andrew Revkin of the New York Times. NEI will be in attendance, and we'll be following the discussion live via our Twitter feed, @n_e_i. Please check in around 9:00 p.m. U.S. EDT for our live coverage.



So Where Can You See Pandora's Promise?

The official opening will be in New York City on June 12 at Sunshine Cinema on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Two days later, on June 14, the film will open in an additional 15 cities nationwide (AtlantaBerkeleyBostonChicagoDenverHoustonIrvineLos AngelesMinneapolisPhiladelphiaSan DiegoSan FranciscoSeattleSt. LouisWashington, DC) with another four cities being added on June 21 (AustinCharlotteDallasScott…