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Showing posts from July, 2013

Small Reactor Shocker!? Well, Maybe Not

You have to love Fox News. Even in a fairly straightforward story about small reactors, it  amps up the controversy, even when there is none:A boon to the economy? Or a boondoggle? That's the debate raging over a new nuclear technology that -- depending on your perspective -- is either a game-changer in electrical generation, or a failure-in-the-making that will fleece taxpayers for a half-billion dollars.If there is any kind of debate, these really are not the terms of it – small reactors are neither a game changer nor a potential fleecing. They are a promising application of a technology – and they interest the federal government – and that’s it. Some of the players are new, some are veterans, but none have been shown as potential swindlers – I suppose investors can always be swindled, but the government has no reason to believe it. Nor does Fox.This bit gets to the nub of the story in an interesting way, although I don’t think the interviewee is answering the question the repo…

NEI Launches New Website

The new NEI website has arrived! Over the course of 22 months, we created a robust site specifically with our members and stakeholders in mind. The result is a site that is faster and better organized so you can find the best intel on the nuclear energy industry in a click of a mouse.

The first thing you’ll notice about the new site is that the industry’s story is told in a more visually compelling way. We use multimedia throughout the site – including photos, infographics and videos – to illustrate the policy issues that matter most to the industry. What else will you find? Brand-new sections like Why Nuclear Energy? and the Knowledge Center, which position nuclear energy as a necessary part of the electricity portfolio to meet the growing demand for power. Plus, the site features an all-inclusive News and Media section, a Google Earth map of all nuclear plants in the United States and an intelligent Advanced Search function.

Take a few moments now to explore NEI’s new digital home a…

Building Up Vogtle 3 and 4

Georgia Power created this time lapse footage of Vogtle 3 and 4 construction (perhaps in ancient Rome based on the title treatment).



Very nice. But just for fun - and because this video reminded me of it - here is a 1901 film informally called Building Up and Demolishing the Star Theater. The demolishing is in time lapse forward motion and the building up is the same in reverse motion. it was produced and directed by F.S. Armitage for the American Biograph Co., later home to D.W. Griffith, and became part of the National Film Registry in 2002. As far as anyone has determined, it is the first film made entirely of stop motion footage. That makes Georgia Power's film the scion of an exceptionally long legacy.

“The humanitarian imperative to using nuclear power”

What can be happening in editorials these days? Is nuclear energy going pear shaped under the weight of – economics? natural gas? gastric distress? No, none of these. Actually, the views of different news outlets and their op-ed writers is not so bad.Take this from NJ dot com, a website shared by several state papers (the op-ed comes from the Times of Trenton):There is good reason to give nuclear power a fresh look. It can replace fossil-fuel-burning power plants for generating electricity 24/7, avoiding air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions that could contribute to global warming.This is nothing new to readers here, but we certainly purr when we hear it in the mainstream press anyway.Now, this is interesting, an argument that really does tend to dwell among the nuclear friendly only:There is a humanitarian imperative to using nuclear power. More than 2 billion people still lack access to electricity for basic needs such as clean water, cooking, sanitation and light. Nuclear pow…

A Sour Sweet Nuclear Japan

“The central government’s policy on nuclear power generation will return to the pre-disaster one,” said Tatsuya Murakami, mayor of Tokai village in Ibaraki Prefecture, on July 21. “By postponing a solution to the problems resulting from the nuclear accident, the government will do what it wants to do.“It is disappointing that Japan will not be able to change itself despite the serious accident it caused,” he said.I know, it sounds like sour grapes. But Murakami has a grievance and maybe he’s letting off some steam. It’s really not true that the Japanese government has postponed solutions.  Last month, Japan Atomic Power began installing filter-attached vent equipment and erecting sea walls to meet the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s new safety rules on nuclear power generation that took effect on July 8.The reason Murakami is so unhappy is that the Liberal Democratic Party (the conservatives) took over the upper chamber in Japan’s diet, giving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s party control…

The Nuclear Bad Time Story

Let’s take a step back, shudder, and look at a dire report from Mark Cooper of the Institute for Energy and the Environment at the Vermont Law School. Cooper releases reports like this occasionally, although why he continues to be interested in nuclear energy is difficult to pin down. He’s not trying to dispute the “lies” propagated by the industry nor try to show that nuclear energy does something other than it claims to do. He just sees the business crumbling into dust every couple of years – I guess that can qualify as an academic pursuit, even if it’s not exactly productive.You can read the earlier articles linked above to see how Cooper’s ivory tower musings have not been as rigorous as they might be. In the current instance, he wants to grab the San Onofre/Kewaunee “nuclear is unviable” wave to assert that “more than three dozen U.S. reactors in 23 states are at greatest risk of early retirement, including nine reactors that exhibit the largest number of risk factors.” The six …

Seats at the Nuclear Employment Table

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010 data), a nuclear technician can earn an average of $68,090 per year or $32.73 per hour with an Associate’s degree and no experience — none, as in nada, zilch, zip — in the industry. Power plant operators, distributors and dispatchers controlling systems that generate and distribute electric power can earn as much as $65,360 with a high school diploma, while nuclear engineers are paid $99,920 with a Bachelor’s degree.The key word in that paragraph is nada, as the story in Politic365 is about the potential for ambitious young Latinos to join the nuclear energy industry. Now, you may ask, anyone can get into the industry without consideration of ethnic background, right? That’s certainly true. For those that rankle at minority communities being targeted for potential careers and jobs, it’s really more an issue of communicating the existence and potential of those jobs than picking people off the street and installing them in those jobs…

Being Sincere and Being Right on Nuclear Energy

There are things you  really oughtn’t to do, even if you have the best of intentions: Une vingtaine de militants de Greenpeace ont été interpellés lundi 16 juillet pour avoir pénétré dans la centrale nucléaire du Tricastin, dans la Drôme. L'association entend pointer des failles de sécurité et provoque directement François Hollande, notamment sur le "risque terroriste".  Which means (my translation – buyer beware):Twenty Greenpeace activists were arrested Monday, July 16 after trespassing at the Tricastin nuclear power plant, in the Drôme [southeastern France]. The association intended to point out security vulnerabilities and directly provoke [Prime Minister Francois] Hollande, notably about the "terrorist threat" [presumably of a vulnerable nuclear plant.]Tricastin proved not to be as vulnerable as the activists thought. There are some interesting details in the L’Express story. The security detail knew quickly that the plant grounds had been breached, bu…

No Sharks at a Nuclear Plant

It’s just a little thing, but after hoping that one of the sharks in Sharknado last night would sail toward a nuclear plant, I recalled that there was an equally fine picture about a nuclear energy plant in the path of a tornado and the “disaster” that would occur if the two crossed paths.So I poked around on IMDB and found it: Atomic Twister (2002), starring Sharon Lawrence and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (between gigs on Saved by the Bell and NYPD Blue, I guess).Now, in truth, nuclear facilities have been smacked by tornados – Davis-Besse in 1998, Grand Gulf in 1978 – and others by hurricanes – and nothing outlandish occurred. Plants powered down due to switch yard or power line damage or even because it seemed prudent with a storm on the way (this happened during Hurricane Isaac). One reactor at Indian Point powered down for super storm Sandy. Weather can provide considerable jitters, no question, but large industrial structures in general are meant to withstand it – and they have a good …

A Man, A Plan, A Canal–Panama! – Oh, and A Floating Reactor, Too

Floating nuclear energy stations, highlighted by the Russian effort noted below, are not a new phenomenon and represent a further development with small nuclear reactors. The Akademik Lomonotov is the latest, but it has a longer legacy than one might think – a legacy well worth considering.Consider the U.S.S. Sturgis, a repurposed World War II-era ship which contributed its hull to house the MH-1A (M=Mobile, H=High-Powered, 1A=First of its kind). Work began on installing the 10,000 kilowatt reactor in 1963, it was tested in Virginia in 1967 and then deployed to the Panama Canal (then under U.S. control) from 1968 to 1975 to supply electricity to the grid there.This paper from the WM (waste management) Symposium describes the origin and purpose of the Sturgis:In March, 1963, the World War II Liberty Ship Charles H. Cugle was selected from the Mobil Reserve Fleet for conversion to a mobile power source containing a high power (>10,000 kW) pressurized water nuclear reactor designated…

Sure, A Nuclear Plant, But Does It Float?

This one does:In three years, Russia will have the world’s first floating nuclear power plant, capable of providing energy and heat to hard-to-get areas as well as drinking water to arid regions.The unique vessel should be operational by 2016, the general director of Russia’s biggest shipbuilders, the Baltic Plant, Aleksandr Voznesensky told reporters at the 6th International Naval Show in St. Petersburg. The Akademik Lomonosov is to become the spearhead of a series of floating nuclear power plants, which Russia plans to put into mass-production. This is a pretty large portfolio of activities – electricity, heat, desalination – it’s like the Ginsu knife of nuclear facilities. Although shaped like a boat, it has no means of locomotion. instead, it is towed where ever it needs to be and anchored in place. I suspect what it ends up doing depends on who buys (leases?) it.Each ship will have two modified KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors together providing up to 70 MW of electricity or 300…

TIME and the Nuclear Energy Conundrum

TIME Magazine offers a bit of a head scratch today. For most of Bryan Walsh’s article, mostly about nuclear energy, the author is quite the downer on doing anything with any energy source. And his approach is peculiarly inexact. For example:Even with massive help from the Obama Administration, renewable energy start-ups like Solyndra went bankrupt, challenging existing technology. Not “start-ups like Solyndra,” “Solyndra.” Most other solar panel companies are doing okay. The last phrase, “challenging existing technology,” is completely mysterious. Other solar technologies? I just don’t know.This is how Walsh rolls, apparently.With the fracking revolution pumping out cheap natural gas in the U.S. and renewables preferred in much of Europe, nuclear will remain in decline in the developed world unless it can get cheaper. If Germany is much of Europe, fine, but otherwise, nuclear energy is not seen as in decline in Europe. But after being annoyed with Walsh’s style and uncertain grasp of …

TVA: An “industry leader in the transition to cleaner energy?”

There’s been some talk of privatizing the government-owned Tennessee Valley Authority, though it comes in the form of President Obama’s 2014 budget request and then only as a suggestion to look at TVA’s overall situation. Southern politicians love TVA on a bipartisan basis, so such efforts rarely move far. As always, we’ll see.But the notion has led to some stories – here’s one – about a University of Tennessee study that concludes TVA would have to be sold to several prospective buyers to avoid a monopoly situation. You can read the study to see the answer to the study’s title, “Should the Federal Government Sell TVA?”Energy Biz has an interesting Q&A up with TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson:ENERGYBIZ: How important will nuclear power be to TVA in coming years? Johnson: By 2023, our generation will be about 35 percent nuclear, 30 to 35 percent coal, 20 percent gas, and then the rest hydro and renewables. Hydro power is probably the key when it comes to TVA, since its creation …