Monday, October 7, 2013

Nuclear Power Between Broken Promises, Breakthroughs, and Ludditism

Below is the first of two posts by Robert Petroski and Brian Marrs about the future of nuclear energy. Petroski is a nuclear engineer, with a degree from MIT, and Marrs is a Power Markets Specialist, with a degree from Yale. They are colleagues of mine from the Atlantic Council’s “Emerging Leaders in Energy and Environmental Policy,” a Transatlantic Network of professionals in the energy field. In this post, they argue against hyperbole about nuclear power from both opponents and proponents.
Reasonable discussion about nuclear power is hard to find. Sifting through the post-Fukishima rhetoric about nuclear power is difficult whether you are an energy markets professional or even a nuclear engineer. Depending on what you read, nuclear power is either an antiquated technology far too dangerous and too costly for society, or on the verge of a technological renaissance which promises clean, safe, proliferation-free power the world round. The energy industry is no stranger to broken promises or unanticipated breakthroughs. The punditry and associated polarization surrounding nuclear power comes at a time when regulators and investors must make critical decisions about funding nuclear innovation and renewing the global nuclear fleet, particularly that in the United States, the country on which this article most focuses.
It is time to set the hyperbole aside about nuclear power – then and only then can we begin to evaluate the potential and limitations of new nuclear energy technologies. However worthy, objections about the legacy of nuclear energy should not eliminate funding and market deployment for future innovations. All energy sources come with trade-offs. None of today’s (and likely tomorrow’s) energy technologies – nuclear included – offers a panacea for the security, environmental, and economic development challenges facing the 21st century. Nuclear power will either adapt to new concerns, perceptions of risk, and market conditions, or justly become obsolete.
We believe that innovation can and will fundamentally change nuclear power. Rather than relying on the past as the sole predictor of the future, we challenge policymakers, investors, and engineers to envision a new era of nuclear power. With new and still emerging science and technologies, tomorrow’s nuclear can overcome the drawbacks of the previous 50 years, and, in doing so, provide safe, clean, and competitive power. Written from perspective of a markets professional and that of a nuclear engineer, we seek to briefly lay out some of the market factors reshaping the business of electric power in the United States, the implications for nuclear power, and the technical solutions to reconcile new sources of nuclear energy with tomorrow’s constraints.

Nuclear Energy and the Shifting Power Market Landscape

Shale hydrocarbons, new environmental regulations, and cheaper distributed generation (DG) & smart energy technologies have brought more changes to the US power landscape over the past decade than the previous three. Cheap natural gas will erode gross margins for coal and nuclear plants. Retail-oriented DG, demand-side management technologies, and a sluggish economy will bite into utility sales. The power industry faces historically low load growth – barely 1% over the coming decades. Yesterday’s 30-40 year old nuclear plants have struggled – and probably will continue to struggle – to compete in this new landscape.
Capital costs are set to increase, while revenues decrease, particularly for merchant nuclear plants, roughly 40% of the US fleet. Stable $4.00-$6.00/mmBTU natural gas over the next 20 years will squeeze the profitability of coal and nuclear plants. At the same time, safety upgrades and upkeep capital expenditures may cost some plants $5-$80 million. For example, PPL estimated that post-Fukushima safety upgrades would require a $60 million investment for its two-unit Susquehanna plant. EPA thermal cooling rules and other water regulations will require further nuclear plant capex. Regulatory upgrades aside, traditional market pressures continue to move the economics of nuclear in an unfavorable direction. Capacity prices in key organized markets like MISO and PJM have been lower than many power providers anticipated, furthering eroding key income streams for nuclear power. Even the cost of uranium is set to increase some 5-8% over the coming 5-10 years.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

California: Ratepayers should bear part of San Onofre closure cost, utility says

SACRAMENTO — Preparing for months of battle over who should pay the estimated $4.1-billion cost of permanently shutting down the San Onofre nuclear power plant, which closed in June, Southern California Edison has launched a public relations campaign suggesting that ratepayers pick up part of the cost.

Who pays — ratepayers, stockholders, equipment manufacturers or insurers — is expected to be a long and thorny dispute before state and federal regulatory agencies as well as in the courts.

On the eve of legislative hearings Tuesday on the issue, the utility offered its 4.9 million customers a preview of its point of view in an advertisement published in the Los Angeles Times.

Closing the power plant is in the "best interests" of customers, it said, and ratepayers should be prepared to pitch in. The company discovered that hundreds of new steam generating tubes were wearing out, and it determined that keeping the plant open till the problem was resolved would be too costly.

"[I]f a utility asset must be retired before the end of its expected life, the utility recovers from customers its reasonable investment costs," Edison wrote.


South Korea warns of power shortages amid nuclear shut downs

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea has warned of serious power shortages this week amid an expected rise in summer temperatures and as the resources-starved country struggles to keep up with demand after six nuclear plants have gone off-line.

The energy ministry said it may take emergency measures such as rolling power cuts to avoid a repeat of 2011 blackouts which cut electricity to businesses and homes across the country.

Separately, the ministry said some major companies, including Kia Motors Corp and Hyundai Motor Co, had not complied with energy saving regulations such as cutting power consumption during peak hours.


Taiwan: Scrapping nuclear power could hurt GDP, employment: CEPD report

Taipei, Aug. 12 (CNA) Putting an end to Taiwan's nuclear power plant operations could cause heavy economic damage to the country, including on its GDP and employment rates, a report released Monday by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) says.

The report shows that halting construction on the fourth nuclear power plant and allowing the three other plants to be decommissioned as scheduled would cause real gross domestic product (GDP) to contract by NT$94 billion (US$3.1 billion) while some 19,464 jobs would disappear.

The economic damage would be the end result of a rise in electricity prices and the subsequent impact on local industries, the report says.

If the fourth nuclear plant is completed, it will cost about NT$2 per degree of electricity generated, including operating fees, it says. That's lower than the NT$2.5-per-degree cost that a coal power plant would incur and much lower than the NT$4.7-per-degree cost of natural gas power generation.

If the plant is not completed, the cost of electricity from extra coal plant production could rise NT$0.04 per degree, assuming that electricity sales reach 230.6 billion degrees in the year 2018, the report says. The cost would surge by NT$0.23 per degree if extra natural gas plants were used instead.

By the year 2025, this could cause national income to contract by NT$134.5 billion while economic growth would drop by 0.58 percentage points, it adds.


Pickering, Ontario nuclear power plant gets five-year licence extension

A federal regulator is allowing the nuclear power plant in Pickering, Ont., to keep operating for another five years.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has renewed the plant’s licence — which was set to expire next month — until the end of August, 2018.

The plant’s operator — the Ontario Power Generation — says it intends for the plant’s six active reactors to stay operational until 2019 ... Read More....

Moscow, Tehran to sign agreement on building new nuclear power plant

Moscow and Tehran will soon sign an agreement on the construction of a new nuclear power plant in the Islamic Republic, Iran’s Foreign Minister announced.

“Iran has held consultations with the Russian side and soon an agreement of mutual understanding will be signed on the construction of a new nuclear power plant,” Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranian foreign minister and former nuclear chief, said on Sunday.

He reiterated that Iran’s nuclear program is purely peaceful, as the country needs nuclear power for electricity generation and medicine.


Friday, July 26, 2013

California power prices up 59% after San Onofre Nuclear shutdown

The nuclear shutdown at San Onofre is partially to blame for a 59 percent increase in wholesale electricity prices for California in the first half of the year, the Energy Information Administration said Tuesday.

The statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy found that wholesale electricity prices rose across the country during the first six months of 2013 over the same period last year.

Prices in New England were the highest largely because of pipeline constraints that limited the delivery of natural gas.

In California, the "increase was largely the result of the continued outage of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station," according to the agency's Today in Energy briefing. "This factor also caused a large and unusual separation in power prices between the northern and southern parts of the state's electric system."

M. Tyson Brown, a statistician at the Energy Information Administration, clarified that a modest rebound in historically low natural gas prices has been the main driver of the overall increase in wholesale electricity in California. Natural gas generation is California's principal source of electricity.

Since the San Onofre outage began in January 2012, however, there has been a persistent spread between wholesale power prices in Northern and Southern California, Brown explained.

"The Southern California prices have been a good deal higher than the Northern California prices," he noted.

The Climate Case for Nuclear Energy

I encourage you to watch this short video interview with climate scientist and campaigner James E. Hansen, posted by the folks who brought you “Pandora’s Promise,” the flawed but valuable film arguing for a substantial role for nuclear energy in sustaining human progress without disrupting the climate.

Those preferring text can read a few transcribed excerpts below. Hansen proves himself, as always, somewhat inconvenient for almost everyone.

To me, for example, Hansen’s far too confident about the scale at which nuclear power, particularly the new technologies that he prefers, could be deployed by the middle of this century.

But his statements pose a particularly tough challenge for those who embrace his take on the dangers attending an unabated greenhouse-gas buildup but see a fast transition to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources as the solution. Here he reprises the points he made in a 2011 essay, “Baby Lauren and the Kool-Aid“:
Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.
Here are some excerpts, starting with a basic endorsement of nuclear power plants:
I think the only hope we have of phasing down emissions and getting to the middle of the century with a much lower level of fossil fuel emissions — which is what we will have to do if we want young people to have a future — we’re going to have to have alternatives and at this time nuclear seems to be the best candidate.


Tentative Agreement Reached on First Polish Nuclear Plant

A tentative agreement reached by a group of Polish companies this week will move the country a step closer to building its first nuclear plant.

Polish news agency PAP quoted unnamed sources as saying negotiations among utilities Polska Grupa Energetyczna, Tauron and Enea, as well as mining company KGHM Polsaka Miedz, have reached a point where a contract on joint ownership of the plant could emerge as early as September. The agreement would come a year after the companies signed an initial letter of intent to buy into a joint company tasked with building the plant, according to the Warsaw Voice. Operation of the first unit is envisioned in 2024.

With the largest reserves in the European Union, Poland currently generates about 90 percent of its power from coal.

Read More Here...

Time-Lapse Video Shows Four Years of Work on New Plant Vogtle

Watch the Video Here:


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nuclear Power Has Saved The Lives Of Many More People Than It Has Killed

I’m sure that all of us informed and reasonable people already knew this: that nuclear power has saved many more lives than nuclear power has killed. However, it’s nice to have the calculations done properly, in a peer reviewed paper, and from NASA itself so no one can start arguing that it’s all a plot by the nuclear industry to confuse us.

The idea strikes me as being obviously conceptually true anyway: nuclear power plants, yes including the disasters like Chernobyl, actually release into the environment much less radioactivity than the coal burning industry does (yes, this really is true, collectively there’s a lot of uranium and thorium in the fly ash from coal burning). Therefore, even if low levels of radiation really does murder us all in our beds then we should all be dying from the coal burning and lives would be being saved by the nuclear power.

What James Hansen (yes, that James Hansen) and his colleague Karecha have done is look at something slightly different. They’ve looked at the air pollution that comes from coal burning and calculated (or, rather, looked up in the scientific literature) the number of people who die from that. Then they’ve looked at the number that have been killed by civilian nuclear power and we find that, very clearly, nuclear, by displacing coal fired generation, saves lives, not takes them.

The paper is here:


IAEA leaders highlight importance of nuclear power

At the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ministerial Conference in St. Petersburg, IAEA Director-General Yukia Amano said the world needs to utilize nuclear power to meet growing energy demands.

"Overall demand for energy is growing steadily as the world population increases," he said. "In order to meet that growing demand, we need to tap all available sources of energy. Nuclear power is a tried and tested technology. It provides electricity at a stable cost."

He added that uranium - the material used to create nuclear fuel - can last thousands of years if used in fast reactors. However, fossil fuels, will likely run out in a few hundred years.

Amamo compared nuclear power to renewable energy, in that nuclear can "deliver the steady supply of baseload electricity to power a modern economy," RTT News reported.

Read More....

Japanese Utility to Seek to Restart Two Nuclear Reactors

TOKYO — The operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said Tuesday that it would ask regulators to allow it to restart two reactors at a separate site in eastern Japan.....

The request by the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, is expected to be among a flurry of such appeals from utilities seeking to restart reactors now that the government has approved tougher safety guidelines. The government hopes the regulations will help it overcome deep public concerns about nuclear power and government oversight, allowing it to get additional plants back online more than two years after the Fukushima crisis. 


Monday, July 1, 2013

Thorium nuclear reactor trial begins, could provide cleaner, safer, almost-waste-free energy

At a test site in Norway, Thor Energy has successfully created a thorium nuclear reactor — but not in the sense that most people think of when they hear the word thorium. The Norwegians haven’t solved the energy crisis and global warming in one fell swoop — they haven’t created a cold fusion thorium reactor. What they have done, though, which is still very cool, is use thorium instead of uranium in a conventional nuclear reactor. In one fell swoop, thorium fuel, which is safer, less messy to clean up, and not prone to nuclear weapons proliferation, could quench the complaints of nuclear power critics everywhere.

In a conventional nuclear reactor, enriched uranium fuel is converted into plutonium and small amounts of other transuranic compounds. There are ways to recycle plutonium, but for many countries, such as the USA, it is simply a waste product of nuclear power — a waste product that will be dangerously radioactive for thousands of years. While the safety of nuclear power plants is hotly contested, no one is arguing the nastiness of plutonium. Any technological development that could reduce the production of plutonium, or consume our massive stocks of plutonium waste, would be a huge boon for the Earth’s (and humanity’s) continued well-being. 

Enter thorium. Natural thorium, which is fairly cheap and abundant (more so than uranium), doesn’t contain enough fissile material (thorium-231) to sustain a nuclear chain reaction. By mixing thorium oxide with 10% plutonium oxide, however, criticality is achieved. This fuel, which is called thorium-MOX (mixed-oxide), can then be formed into rods and used in conventional nuclear reactors. Not only does this mean that we can do away with uranium, which is expensive to enrich, dangerous, and leads to nuclear proliferation, but it also means that we finally have an easy way of recycling plutonium. Furthermore, the thorium-MOX fuel cycle produces no new plutonium; it actually reduces the world’s stock of plutonium. Oh, thorium-MOX makes for safer nuclear reactors, too, due to a higher melting point and thermal conductivity.


St Petersburg hosts international conference on nuclear power

The international ministerial conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century has come to an end in St Petersburg. Delegates including energy ministers and senior officials from around the world discussed the future of nuclear energy and measures required to ensure its safety and sustainability.

Participants agreed that atomic energy contributes to environmental safety and helps reduce CO2 emissions. They said, nuclear power sector is highly innovative and can be used in science, education and technologies around the world.

The conference was the first international gathering on nuclear power since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan in March 2011. Safety was one of the key issues discussed at the three-day conference.

Atom Expo forum was also held on the sidelines of the conference. Heads of leading companies from more than 42 countries showcased their businesses and potential.


Without San Onofre Nuclear Plant, Southern Calfiornia Realized First Black Out of the Summer

The first real heat of the summer arrived last Friday, June 28, 2013.  As the citizens of Southern California arrived home they received their first real notice that San Onofre Nuclear Power plant was closed.  All traffic lights, businesses, and homes were dark from 6:00 p.m. until approximately 8:40 p.m. from the Cypress, CA area to the La Mirada, CA area.  Well over 100,000 homes were affected.

There was no news reporting the issue.  But, the residence experienced what could the beginning of a dark summer.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

UK and France: Nuclear power gets £10bn financial guarantee boost

Ministers respond to warnings that UK is on brink of power blackouts with support for French generator EDF to build Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.

The government has responded to warnings that Britain is on the brink of power blackouts by announcing £10bn in financial guarantees to the nuclear power industry – a concession aimed at paving the way for the building of the first new reactor in the country for a generation.

The support for French generator EDF, which is in negotiations to build the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, was announced by the Treasury chief secretary, Danny Alexander, as the centrepiece of a £100bn package of infrastructure investment covering 2015-20, including new roads, schools and affordable homes.
Michael Fallon, the energy minister, insisted the substantial guarantees represented a commercial loan, not a subsidy, saying: "This is big-scale financing, not available in the markets." He added that similar government guarantees had been offered to Drax power station to convert from coal to biomass.

EDF had already prepared the site next to the two existing stations, but would not commit to the project unless the government guaranteed a minimum price for the electricity the new reactor would produce.

The news came as Ofgem, the energy regulator, said the statistical probability of major power shortages in the UK would increase to about once in 12 years in 2015, from once in 47 years now, as a result of closing power plants. About a fifth of Britain's power generation capacity is scheduled to close in the next decade, including all but one nuclear plant.


Layoffs Start at San Onofre, SoCal's Only Nuclear Power Plant

  An unpleasant aspect of shutting down Southern California's only nuclear power plant started Monday, as plant operator Southern California Edison (SCE) laid the groundwork to begin laying off about 600 plant workers.

The 2,200-megawatt plant on the San Diego County coast has been closed down since January 2012 after a leak of radioactive steam at one of the facility's two remaining reactors. SCE announced earlier this month that it would be decommissioning the plant.

SCE made the terminations official Monday by issuing a "workforce reduction notice" targeting 600 non-union positions. Those workers will lose their jobs within 60 days. All told about 500 additional positions will be shed as SCE begins the long decommissioning process at San Onofre, slashing the plant's workforce from 1,500 to a skeleton crew of 400.

Read More....

The President’s Pro-Nuclear Rhetoric vs. His Anti-Nuclear Policies

President Obama released his Climate Action Plan this week, which laid out his vision for reducing climate change.

Regardless of what one thinks about climate change policy, producing more unsubsidized, affordable, clean, reliable, emissions-free power is a laudable goal. That is why, of all the recommendations that the President puts forth, increasing nuclear energy is perhaps the one thing that could actually attract bipartisan support in Washington and broad public support across the country. The problem is that he does nothing to actually move nuclear energy forward in the U.S., and most of his policies actually hold it back.

The biggest problem is his nuclear waste policy—or lack thereof. Though the pre-Obama policy to put nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain as mandated by the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act needed to be amended, it at least was a policy. And that policy gave the nuclear industry and federal regulators some predictability and confidence that eventually something would be done with America’s nuclear waste.
President Obama’s decision to completely ignore the 1982 law and attempt to terminate the Yucca project has led to a complete unwinding of nuclear waste policy. This has thrust an additional layer of uncertainty onto an industry that was just beginning to emerge from a decades-long hiatus driven by cost, regulatory, and safety uncertainty.

Moreover, instead of identifying policy and regulatory obstacles that could be reformed to help nuclear be more competitive, the President is attempting to subsidize nuclear power into success. For example, instead of developing a rational, flexible, and predictable regulatory process that would allow new nuclear technologies to be efficiently introduced into the market, the President introduced a program where government bureaucrats decide what type of nuclear technology would receive taxpayer money to offset development costs. This unfair, anti-competitive approach reduces nuclear power to being little more than the subject of another big-government program whose future is dependent on perpetual taxpayer support. Nuclear can be so much more.

If President Obama really believes that nuclear power is critical to the future of the country, then he needs to leave his current policies behind and do the following:
  • Restart and reform Yucca. The Administration should immediately restart the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review of the Yucca Mountain permit. If the commission approves the permit, the permit should be transferred to a Nevada-based entity that can then negotiate directly with the nuclear industry on what, if anything, to do to move the project forward.
  • Institute market-based nuclear waste management reform. The U.S. needs a market-based nuclear energy policy. This begins with a nuclear waste policy that gives utilities and other waste producers the primary responsibility for waste management and a system for financing nuclear waste disposal that allows waste producers to directly pay for nuclear-waste-related services.
  • Develop a rational, flexible, and predictable regulatory regime. The nation needs a regulator that can issue permits for new plants on a predictable basis at a reasonable cost and is capable of regulating multiple types of reactors and other industrial facilities such as used fuel treatment plants................  Read More.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Benefits of Nuclear Power

Nuclear Plants, Old and Uncompetitive, Are Closing Earlier Than Expected” (Business Day, June 15) did not mention key factors regarding the United States nuclear energy industry. 

Regardless of their age, all nuclear energy facilities are required to be maintained in top condition. Since 1990, the nuclear energy industry has invested more than $90 billion in capital expenditures to improve and upgrade facilities. Those improvements have helped yield a 33 percent increase in nuclear-generated electricity production over that period. 

The Energy Information Administration forecasts that electricity demand will increase 28 percent by 2040, the equivalent of 339 new large power plants. Meeting that demand with low-carbon electricity sources requires recognition of nuclear energy’s many attributes. These include round-the-clock production of large amounts of electricity to help stabilize the electric grid; clean-air compliance; forward electricity price stability; fuel and technology diversity; and high-paying jobs at facilities that can withstand extreme natural and man-made events. 

President and Chief Executive
Nuclear Energy Institute
Washington, June 19, 2013

Nuclear Energy Institute Celebrates 60 Years

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Xcel Energy still making big investments in nuclear power

As some U.S. utilities are abandoning old nuclear power plants, Xcel Energy says it’s investing $1.8 billion to extend the life of its 40-year-old Minnesota reactors.

At the company’s Prairie Island nuclear plant in Red Wing, Minn., 1,550 contract workers this fall will replace two massive steam generators — at $280 million, its single most costly improvement project. The plant was completed in 1974 at a cost of $350 million.

The Minneapolis-based utility’s other reactor, in Monticello, Minn., also is getting a $600 million upgrade that aims to keep it running safely and boost its output by nearly 13 percent.


Fighting climate change with nuclear energy

 Nuclear power is currently the only carbon-free energy source that can provide base load electricity, Stepp writes, a characteristic crucial to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change. Next-generation nuclear energy offers even more productive strategies for reducing carbon emissions.

In the last week, two news stories really captured the potential future for nuclear energy. The New York Times Matthew Wald reported from Georgia, where construction crews are slowly building the first two new nuclear reactors in thirty years. And National Geographic’s Will Ferguson reported from Tennessee that engineers and scientists are taking core samples and mapping regional geology as part of the early planning stages of building the first small modular nuclear reactor in the world. Both projects face unique challenges, yet they both represent the beginning of two potential nuclear paths for reducing climate-warming carbon emissions in the United States (and potentially the world).

India: Country’s growth depends on nuclear energy: NPCIL officials

Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has given a categorical assurance to people that the proposed Kovvada nuclear project in Srikakulam district will be safest on the lines of other existing projects in India. On the invitation from NPCIL officials, media personnel from Srikakulam district visited Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) which was constructed three decades ago in Kalpakam of Tamil Nadu

During the tour from June 18th to 20th, the officials have shown the plant, safety measures and welfare activities to improve health and educational standards in and around Kalpakam under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). MAPS Station Director T.J. Koteswaran said that the NPCIL has been spending Rs. 25 crore every year in the country for CSR activities. 

According to the Corporation, India has to depend upon nuclear power for its future needs since thermal, hydel and solar powers cannot meet the growing electricity demands of the country. 

The country’s current installed capacity is 2.11 lakh mega watts and it will require 4.25 lakh mega watts of power by end of 2020. Countries like United States, China and France are still heavily depending on nuclear power since it will be cheaper and eco-friendly compared to thermal power projects. 

Giving a power point presentation Kovvada plant Project Director G.V. Ramaesh and MAPS Operations Superintendent M.Venkatachalam said that future nuclear projects will be safest plants with the adoption of advanced technology. 

They said that new plants such as Kovvada project would spur the economic activity on the lines of Kalpakam which had witnessed rapid development in the last two decades. 

Taiwan: President touts safety of nuclear power plants

Taipei, June 25 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou touted the safety of Taiwan's nuclear power plants Tuesday, saying that there are emergency measures to prevent a disaster from happening even if they cause a power plant to be written off.

Taiwan is more concerned about Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster than other countries, Ma told a group of Japanese experts at a forum on the catastrophe resulting from the massive tsumamis and earthquake in March 2011.

After the disaster, Taiwan improved its fortifications against tsunamis at the nearly completed fourth nuclear plant in New Taipei and has in store a tested measure to permanently shut down nuclear reactors in 46 minutes to ensure zero chance of atomic disasters, Ma said at the forum in Taipei.

"We'd rather sacrifice our nuclear plants than experience any nuclear disasters," he said.

The president highlighted the merits of the fourth nuclear plant, the reactors of which will be cooled by electrical pumps and non-electrical water systems.


French Support for Nuclear Power Rises Ahead of Law, Poll Shows

French public support for nuclear power is rising ahead of recommendations on a new energy policy law for the country, as fears about its dangers fade.

Some 36 percent of people surveyed said they favored France’s use of nuclear power with only 14 percent saying they opposed it, an Ifop poll released today for the newspaper Ouest France showed. That compares with 32 percent in favor of nuclear power and 20 percent opposed in July 2011.

Concerns about nuclear power rose in France after a March 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami crippled Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant, causing three reactor core meltdowns, forcing about 160,000 people to evacuate and leaving about 132 square kilometers as a no-go zone.

French President Francois Hollande has pledged to cut the country’s reliance on nuclear power. Electricite de France SA’s 58 atomic reactors currently provide more than three-quarters of electricity, a proportion Hollande vowed to reduce to 50 percent by around 2025.


Friday, June 7, 2013

California: Edison Plans to Permanently Close San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Edison International (EIX) plans to permanently close its San Onofre nuclear plant in California, shut since January 2012 by a leak of radioactive water, because regulators may take too long to decide whether it can restart.

Southern California Edison, the utility unit that owns and operates the two reactors, will record after-tax costs of $300 million to $425 million this quarter as a result of shutting the reactor, Rosemead, California-based Edison said today in a statement.

Four commercial nuclear-power units have been permanently closed in the U.S. this year, the highest ever annual total, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data. A glut of shale-fed natural gas and government-subsidized wind has upended power market dynamics and squeezed margins, making costly repairs uneconomical for some nuclear operators.

“The continuing uncertainty about when or if SONGS might return to service was not good for our customers, our investors, or the need to plan for our region’s long-term electricity needs, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Edison Ted Craver said in the statement.

The decision to shut the reactor came after the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ordered a hearing on the company’s plan to restart the least-damaged reactor at 70 percent of full power. A regulatory decision may be a year away, Edison said in today’s statement. Time and money are better spent on plants or power lines to replace San Onofre’s output, the company said.

Both reactors at the San Onofre plant, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Long Beach were shut by the radioactive leak and discovery of unusual wear on tubes that transfer reactor heat to power-generating turbines. The plant had the capacity to generate 2,200 megawatts, enough to power 1.76 million average homes.

The announcement was made before regular trading began in New York. Edison rose 1.3 percent to $46.36 ... Read More...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

General presentation of the EPR: a generation III reactor model

Plans For New Nuclear Reactors Worldwide

(Updated March 2013)
  • Nuclear power capacity worldwide is increasing steadily, with over 60 reactors under construction in 13 countries.
  • Most reactors on order or planned are in the Asian region, though there are major plans for new units in the USA and Russia.
  • Significant further capacity is being created by plant upgrading.
  • Plant life extension programs are maintaining capacity, in USA particularly.
Today there are some 435 nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries plus Taiwan, with a combined capacity of over 370 GWe. In 2011 these provided 2518 billion kWh, about 13.5% of the world's electricity.

Over 60 power reactors are currently being constructed in 13 countries plus Taiwan (see Table below), notably China, South Korea and Russia.

Each year, the OECD's International Energy Agency (IEA) sets out the present situation and also reference and other, particularly carbon reduction scenarios. Following the Fukushima accident, the World Energy Outlook 2011 New Policies scenario has a 60% increase in nuclear capacity to 2035, compared with about 90% the year before. "Although the prospects for nuclear power in the New Policies Scenario are weaker in some regions than in [WEO 2010] projections, nuclear power continues to play an important role, providing base-load electricity. Most non-OECD countries and many OECD countries are expected to press ahead with plans to install additional nuclear power plants, though there may be short-term delays as the safety standards of existing and new plants are reviewed. Globally, nuclear power capacity is projected to rise in the New Policies Scenario from 393 GW in 2009 to 630 GW in 2035." In this scenario the IEA expects the share of coal in total electricity to drop from 41% now to 33% in 2035. Electricity generation increases from 20 to 36 trillion kWh.

It is noteworthy that in the 1980s, 218 power reactors started up, an average of one every 17 days. These included 47 in USA, 42 in France and 18 in Japan. These were fairly large - average power was 923.5 MWe. So it is not hard to imagine a similar number being commissioned in a decade after about 2015. But with China and India getting up to speed in nuclear energy and a world energy demand double the 1980 level in 2015, a realistic estimate of what is possible (but not planned at this stage) might be the equivalent of one 1000 MWe unit worldwide every 5 days.


‘Knowledge’ about dangers of nuclear power not based on proper science

"There is no such thing as a ‘pro-nuclear environmentalist’,” says the US-based lobby group Beyond Nuclear. “Environmentalists don’t support extractive, non-sustainable industries like nuclear energy, which poisons the environment, releases cancer-causing radioactive elements and creates radioactive waste deadly for thousands of years.”

This was in response to a new documentary film, Pandora’s Promise, which charts the almost Pauline conversion of five well-known environmentalists from bitterly opposing to strongly advocating nuclear power. 

What’s most likely to get us into trouble, Mark Twain observed, is not what we don’t know “it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so”. There are few subjects on which so many people, from politicians to rock stars, NGOs and environmentalists, passionately and confidently espouse views that are so completely at variance with observed reality as nuclear energy.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What You Know About The Risk Of Nuclear Power Is Probably Wrong

During the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which is a couple hundred miles from where he and his family live, Paul Bluestein stayed in his home while thousands of others fled the Tokyo area and many foreigners left Japan for good.  Radiation was about to create a Godzilla and he always goes for Tokyo. If you believe fear and doubt promoted with junk science.

Not only did they not flee, they still buy as much of their fruits and vegetables as possible from Fukushima Prefecture.

He knew what most people in science knew. Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing over radiation levels that were less than background radiation makes sense in a 'better safe than sorry' way, but the anti-science public relations campaign against nuclear power is more myth than data. Guarapari Beach in Brazil has background radiation way above permitted levels in terms of what the public can be exposed to but it’s coming out of the soil. It's all natural.  People cover themselves in that sand because they claim it cures pain.


AREVA technology adopted to improve nuclear power safety in Japan

Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd. (Hitachi-GE) and AREVA have reached an agreement aimed at improving the safety of nuclear power plants through the delivery of filtered containment  venting  systems  (FCVS).  The two companies intend to work together, including the adoption by Hitachi-GE of AREVA technology for the design, fabrication, and installation of these components. They will be used for the boiling water reactors (BWR) in Japan.

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, Hitachi-GE has stepped up its efforts to improve the safety of nuclear power plants, and AREVA has already installed FCVS in more than 50 plants worldwide. Hitachi GE has been working with AREVA to study the functions and performance of FCVS suitable for installation at BWR nuclear power plants in Japan.

This partnership combines AREVA’s technology, experience, and know-how in FCVS with Hitachi-GE’s extensive technology, experience, and know-how about BWR nuclear power plants in Japan to adapt FCVS and achieve early delivery for these plants.

FCVS, a solution for enhancing the safety of nuclear power plants, plays an important role in preventing damage to primary containment vessel (PCV) due to pressure rises in situations where severe damage has occurred to the reactor, such as following an event that goes far beyond the design basis event criteria. FCVS is also a filtering system for removing the radioactive material throughout different high efficient filter stages.


PPL Restarts Unit 2 at Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant

Unit 2 at PPL's Susquehanna nuclear power plant resumed generating electricity for the regional electric grid on Wednesday (6/5) following a successful refueling and maintenance outage that included extensive inspections and plant improvements.

"The major investments we made and continue to make during refueling outages reflect our long-term commitment to the safe and reliable operation of the plant," said Timothy S. Rausch, senior vice president and Chief Nuclear Officer for PPL Susquehanna.

"There is a tremendous amount of work that takes place during a refueling and maintenance outage," Rausch said. "Planning begins at least a year in advance, and the outage itself transforms the site and offers a significant boost to the local economy."

PPL employees and more than 1,000 supplemental workers replaced about 40 percent of the Unit 2 reactor fuel during the outage. They performed extensive inspections and testing of plant equipment, systems and technology. They inspected and replaced several pieces of the unit's turbine assembly, making improvements that address turbine blade issues that have affected the plant in recent years. 

Japan: Abenomics Needs Cheap Nuclear Power to Work

Everybody knows that Japan has an energy crisis. We also know that the yen has greatly depreciated, by some 20 percent in just a few weeks. It’s time to put these two facts together.

“Abenomics,” the shorthand for the aggressive economic strategies being pursued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is the hot thing in Asia. What wonders will the weak yen work for Japan’s export machine? Is a recovery just around the corner? Despite its volatility, Japan’s stock market says so, and foreign investors, in particular, like the prospects.

Yet what makes exports more competitive also makes imports more expensive. After the March 11, 2011, Fukushima disaster, Japan turned off its nuclear-power plants and stepped up imports of energy. Looking just at the four biggest categories (oil, liquefied natural gas, coal and liquefied propane gas), the monthly value of Japan’s energy imports jumped from 1.4 trillion yen (before March 2010) to 2.2 trillion in March 2013. In March, that was about $17 billion; now add 20 percent in exchange-rate shifts to get $22 billion per month. Energy imports constitute about one-third of total imports, and since Fukushima, imports have grown to account for 17 percent of gross domestic product, up from 12 percent.

No wonder Japan is running a trade deficit. Yet the export machine can’t fix the economy if energy imports keep rising.

Nuclear Dependence

If all of Japan’s nuclear-power plants were running at full capacity, they would provide about 30 percent of electricity, and 11 percent of total energy consumption. With the current shutdowns, nuclear contributes only 2 percent of electricity, with oil and gas filling the gap.

Setting aside the question of greenhouse gases and global warming, the economic question is: Who will pay for the growing costs of energy imports? Industry, which consumes about 36 percent of energy, is supposed to lead the recovery, and some of Japan’s export leaders are energy guzzlers. If energy costs rise, the companies that produce the bulk of Japan’s world-class products will either lose out or -- to prevent this from happening -- move production elsewhere. Either outcome would surely halt Japan’s domestic recovery.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Nuclear Energy: Truth vs Fear

As I was thinking about what to write this month, I was invited by my dry cleaner to attend a protest in a nearby park against genetically modified food. This somewhat infuriated me as I know without doubt that GMO has helped millions around the world and had never killed anyone (although denial of these foods has), yet, as with nuclear power, opposition remains strong, especially in Europe.

My dry cleaner argued trying to tell me that 500,000 were killed in India due to GMO and, as you can imagine, there was no winning the argument.  Mark Lynas, who I have quoted in previous posts has recently taken a hard stand against those who oppose GMO.  Mark makes his position clear in his talk at Cornell University this past April where he opens with the following: “I think the controversy over GMOs represents one of the greatest science communications failures of the past half-century. Millions, possibly billions, of people have come to believe what is essentially a conspiracy theory, generating fear and misunderstanding about a whole class of technologies on an unprecedentedly global scale.
It is no mistake that environmentalists like Mark have also changed their views on nuclear power and are now vigorously supporting it.  The simple reason is that Mark and others like Stewart Brand and George Monbiot, are taking positions that are founded in science rather than a set of beliefs that may feel right, but cannot be supported by scientific evidence.

Scientific evidence continues to increase its support while disproving widely held beliefs of many who oppose it.

For example, this past week (on May 23), a new study was reported on by the Canadian regulator (CNSC) looking at cancer rates near Canadian nuclear plants.  Not surprisingly, once again the results were clear.  No indication of any increases in cancer near nuclear stations relative to the rest of the province.  “The most important finding of this study is no evidence of childhood leukemia clusters in the communities within 25 km of the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce NPPs.”

Next I return to the study I wrote about last month published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology by Pushker A. Kharecha and James E. Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute.  They found that nuclear power has saved an estimated 80,000 lives annually – 1.84 million in all – since widely introduced in the 1970s and could save another 5 million if construction continues at a decent pace due to a reduction in air pollution.  Nuclear power has also reduced carbon emissions by 64 Gt over the same period.

And finally UNSCEAR has now released the results of its latest study on the Fukushima accident.  It clearly concluded “Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers“.  But of even more importance this study also concluded that there are health effects from the Fukushima accident stemming from the stresses of evacuation and unwarranted fear of radiation.

So what does all this tell us?  Looking at these three studies we can confirm that:

i) operating nuclear power plants do not cause cancer to the residents of nearby communities from normal operations;
ii) over the past 40 years nuclear power has in fact saved almost 2 million lives through a real reduction in pollution by not burning fossil fuels and its resultant health impacts; and finally
iii) that after the biggest nuclear accident in the last 25 years, radiation has not harmed any of the people of Japan and is unlikely to do so in the future.

Considering these kinds of results, why aren’t we seeing this reported in the main stream media?  With this kind of story there should be universal praise of nuclear power and strong support for its expansion.   Frankly, if it were any technology other than nuclear that was reported to have saved millions of lives we likely would have seen it in the headlines at CNN, BBC  and other mainstream media.  So why are we primarily seeing these nuclear studies reported in trade magazines and blogs?  Why is the world not blown away by this fantastic evidence of the benefits to our lives of nuclear power?  As I was pondering these developments I came upon a chapter title in the book I am currently reading by Ben Goldacre called “Bad Science” (Good book by the way).  The chapter title is “Why Clever People Believe Stupid Things”.  The chapter then goes on to discuss many of the things we have discussed in this blog before such as confirmation bias, seeing patterns where there are none and a host of other standard reasons why people tend stick to their beliefs in light of strong evidence that they should consider alternatives.


Fukushima Disaster Has Not Caused Any Radiation Deaths, Could Be Argument For More Nuclear Power

No one has died yet as a result of radiation exposure from the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, according to a new UN report.

So far, it's not even clear if anyone has gotten sick, although other studies have shown evidence some still could.

"Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects," the report, released Friday, says. "It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers."

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami that caused nuclear cores in multiple reactors to overheat, causing the release of radioactive fallout.

UK - Is nuclear our energy hope?

IT’S not just the way forward for Cumbria, but for the country, because fossil fuels are running out, writes Councillor Brian Crawford, a former physics teacher.

We are importing vast amounts of gas, particularly for use in gas fired power stations. But we face a shortfall as many of the old gas, oil and coal power stations are coming to the end of their service and are being shut down.

The UK once had 20 nuclear power stations. 11 of these are now closed or in the act of closing; five more will close by 2014, one will close in 2018, two in 2023 and the last one in 2035.

It is wholly sensible to go nuclear as the main energy supply. Our energy demands are increasing rapidly, year on year, but our non-renewable energy sources are rapidly decreasing.

Electricity from wind power and nuclear power as proposed, and if constructed by 2020 will produce about 30 – 40 per cent of the requirements of the UK. This needs to be made up to 100 per cent by coal and gas fired power stations.

At present, there are 18 coal fired power stations in the UK producing about 28.5GWatts of electricity or about 25 per cent of our requirement. All these were constructed in the late 1960s or early 1970s and are coming to the end of their productive life and will probably be decommissioning within the next five to 10 years or so, losing about 25 per cent of the UK’s present electricity production by 2020.

At present there are about 52 gas, oil or gas/oil fired power stations in the UK producing about 50 per cent or about 60GWatts of our electricity requirement. Of these, about 30 were constructed in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and are coming to the end of their productive life and will probably be decommissioned within the next five to 10 years or so, losing about 25 per cent of the UK’s present electricity production by 2020.
The government are planning about eight nuclear power stations across the country, but for me that is not enough.

We have got to find the right sites for them. They have to be on the coast as they require massive amounts of cooling water from the sea, but they will provide power for 60 years.


EU Energy Commissioner: Nuclear Essential to Meeting Continent's Climate Goals

The head of energy policy for the European Union said recently that the continent will not be able to reach its climate goals without nuclear energy.

At a nuclear power conference in Prague, EU Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger said reactors belong in Europe's energy mix. He added that goals to reduce carbon emissions cannot be achieved without them, although each EU member country has the right to choose its own power sources, Dow Jones reported.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Russian ambassador: Nuclear power India's future

PANAJI, India, May 28 (UPI) -- Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin said that nuclear power is the future of energy for India.

Kadakin argued that even if India somehow acquired global oil output, it wouldn't prove sufficient for the country's long-term energy needs.

Kadakin spoke to journalists after inaugurating a Russian consular office in Panaji, observing.

"Nuclear power is the only way out of the situation," Kadakin said. "It can make India self-sufficient in energy. Otherwise, even if India buys all the oil in the world, it would not be sufficient for its energy needs."


Abu Dhabi turns to nuclear energy with second reactor

The oil-rich UAE began construction yesterday of a second nuclear power plant, one of four reactors aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions by some 12 million tonnes a year in 2020.

Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC) said it poured the first part of safety concrete for Unit 2, in a ceremony attended by visiting Korean Trade, Industry and Energy Sang-jick Yoon.

In 2009, an international consortium led by the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp won a $20.4 billion (15.8 billion euro) deal to build four nuclear power plants in Baraka, west of Abu Dhabi.

Under the biggest single contract Seoul has ever won abroad, South Korean firms including Samsung, Hyundai and Doosan Heavy Industries will build the four 1,400-megawatt reactors.

Work began last year on the first plant, which is expected to enter service in 2017 after further regulatory approvals.

Unit 2 is to begin commercial operations in 2018. In addition to diversifying the UAE’s energy supply once operational, the four plants should cut 12 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually by 2020, ENEC said.
ENEC said it had applied in March to the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation for construction licences for Units 3 and 4, but did not indicate when work would begin.


Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant back online

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth is back online as of 4:24 a.m. Thursday, according to a spokesperson from the plant's owner Entergy.

Pilgrim was taken off the grid on April 14 for a planned maintenance and refueling. The shutdown, according to Carol Wightman, was the 19th of its kind.

During the shutdown, the reactor was refueled and maintenance was done to the main turbine generator, valves and transformer.  An inspection of the plant was also conducted, according to Wightman.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Nuclear is the greenest energy

Tom Horton's recent commentary on nuclear energy is excellent and provides the beginning of a rational discussion of green energy in Maryland ("Embracing nukes," May 23). He includes data which shows that wind farms on average operate at 30 percent of design capacity versus 90 percent for nuclear power. Solar power systems operate on average at 15 percent of design capacity. Wind and sun power are erratic. Nuclear plants operate constantly, and the 90 percent utilization factor is due to planned maintenance.

There is no current capability to store power on a large scale. In order to produce reliable power, generating companies that are forced to take wind power must have thermal backup power and cycle or spin their turbines, inefficiently wasting steam to instantaneously replace sudden decreases in wind power. Denmark, the poster child for offshore wind farms, shows essentially the same level of carbon dioxide emissions from 1999 when the country's frenzied construction of wind mill capacity began to 2007 with zero population growth. No thermal plants were shut down in Denmark when the wind farm was built.

The United Kingdom is another country where wind power can be isolated. Stuart Young Associates analyzed wind power from November 2008 to December 2010. During the study period, wind generation was below 20 percent of capacity more than half of the time, below 10 percent one-third of the time and below 2.5 percent of capacity one day in 12.

In 2011, in a comprehensive study of U.S. wind power, "The Wind Power Paradox," Bentek Energy assessed emission reduction performance based on actual generation and emissions data across a variety of regions of the country. This study shows that actual carbon dioxide reductions through wind generation are either so small as to be insignificant or too expensive to be practical.

Denmark and Germany have high levels of subsidized wind and solar power with costs including taxes of 43 and 30 cents per kilowatt hour respectively, compared to an average of 11 cents per kWh in the U.S.
France is Europe's lowest cost power producer at about 6 cents per kWh before tax and 19 cents after tax. France has the world's most sophisticated energy policy, producing 75 percent of their power with nuclear plants. France reprocesses its spent fuel rods and is the leader in high speed electric rail transportation. France is also Europe's lowest producer of carbon dioxide on a per capita basis at about one-third of our production.


SoCal Edison Responds To Boxer's Charges on San Onofre


Southern California Edison (SCE) has responded to charges by Senator Barbara Boxer that the utility may have misled regulators about the scope of the steam generator replacement at its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, and the utility's characterization of the events leading to the replacement couldn't be more different from the Senator's.

In a series of statements this week, Senator Boxer said that a November 2004 letter from SCE Vice President Dwight E. Nunn to Akira Sawa of generator manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) offered evidence that SCE had later misled regulators at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which agency was charged with ensuring that changes to San Onofre wouldn't pose a public safety risk.
Those new steam generators, which were substantially larger than the ones they replaced, caused big problems for SCE and San Onofre. Premature wear in the generators' steam tubes apparently contributed to a leak of radioactive steam from one of the new generators in the plant's Unit 3 in January 2012. Unit 2 was shut down for maintenance at the time: both units have remained offline since.

The Boxer announcements come as SCE is waiting on a decision from the NRC over a proposed low-power restart of San Onofre's Unit 2, which the utility says will "prevent" the vibrations that caused the unexpected degree of tube wear.

In the letter, Nunn states that the new steam generators MHI was designing for San Onofre would not be a "like-for-like" replacement of the generators being retired. Boxer charged this week that SCE had subsequently described the steam generator replacement as a "like-for-like" replacement, a term of art that allows nuclear plant operators to avoid seeking a costly, time-consuming license amendment from the NRC.
But SCE says that the Senator has made a "fundamental error" in her reading of the history of the plant. Rather than certifying that San Onofre's replacement generators were a "like-for-like" replacement, says the utility, SCE sought and obtained a permit to replace the generators under a section of the NRC's rules covering Changes, tests and experiments in nuclear power plant design.

"In the November 2004 letter," said SCE in a statement released Tuesday, "SCE emphasized the care that would be needed during the design phase because of the differences between the new and old units. These differences -- which were intended to improve the overall performance of the new units -- were permitted under the NRC's 50.59 process, which allows changes to a nuclear facility if certain criteria are met. Contrary to Sen. Boxer's suggestion, Section 50.59 does not require that replacement equipment be 'like for like' or identical to the equipment being replaced."


Everything you thought you knew about the risks of nuclear energy is wrong

Kamakura, Japan—Chances are pretty high, based on prevailing public opinion, that you will think my wife and I are a tad crazy, maybe even guilty of child abuse. During the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which is a couple hundred miles from where we live, we stayed put while thousands of others fled the Tokyo area and many foreigners left Japan for good. Not only that, we buy as much of our fruits and vegetables as possible from Fukushima Prefecture, the Connecticut-size jurisdiction where the plant is located (we even specially order boxes of Fukushima produce) while millions of others in Japan take extreme care to consume only food from the far west and south of the country. And yes, our whole family, including our 12- and 10-year-old sons, eats Fukushima food. We’re convinced it’s perfectly safe, and we like helping people whose products suffer from an unjust taint.

Are you recoiling in horror, perhaps even wishing the Japanese child welfare authorities would seize custody of our kids? If so, you are the ideal audience member for a provocative new film, titled Pandora’s Promise. This documentary focuses on five thoughtful environmentalists who were once terrified of radiation, and thought nuclear power was imperiling the planet’s future, but after educating themselves, they gradually realized that their assumptions were wrong. For people who are instinctively opposed to nuclear power but open-minded enough to consider evidence that goes against their predilections, this film will, and should, force them to question their certitude.

The five people whose intellectual journeys are chronicled admit the superficial incongruity between their environmentalism and their enthusiasm for nuclear power.

Thus, in some of the early scenes the five establish their Green bona fides. “The slogan was ‘No compromise in defense of Mother Earth.’ That was the original Earth First slogan. And it’s one that I still subscribe to at a very deep level,” says Mark Lynas, a British author and journalist, recalling his “hardcore activist” days. “Well, I [thought] nuclear power was evil. No doubt about it.”

Likewise, Gwyneth Cravens, a writer who participated in protests against the Shoreham nuclear plant on Long Island, recounts the fear she felt when news broke in 1979 of the accident at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania: “Are those rays coming out of Three Mile Island going to come to New York and harm my daughter?” And Richard Rhodes, whose 1986 book The Making of the Atomic Bomb won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction, tells how he wrote a number of articles about the dangers of nuclear power for national magazines some years ago, but changed his mind by talking to physicists and other experts in the field “until it finally got through my head” that his basic premise was mistaken.

Making slick use of a pulsing sound track and camera shots of scenes from bustling metropolises in Asia and Latin America, the film engagingly explains why nuclear power, which is greenhouse-gas free, is so essential to the prevention of climate change. Michael Shellenberger, a consultant to major environmental groups who co-founded a center-left think tank based in Oakland, California recalls having “gotten the religion” as a student that energy efficiency and renewable sources could save the planet.

After scrutinizing the numbers, “I ended up feeling like a sucker. The idea that we’re going to replace oil and natural gas with solar and wind, and nothing else, is a hallucinatory delusion,” Shellenberger says, citing projections that global energy demand will likely double by 2050....

Read More....

Nuclear Power Saves Lives And Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Global use of nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and release of 64 billion tons of greenhouse gases that would have resulted from burning coal and other fossil fuels, according to a paper in Environmental Science&Technology.
Pushker A. Kharecha and James E. Hansen of Columbia University state that nuclear power has the potential to help control both global climate change and illness and death associated with air pollution. That potential exists, they say, despite serious questions about safety, disposal of radioactive waste and diversion of nuclear material for weapons.

Concerned that the Fukushima accident in Japan could overshadow the benefits of nuclear energy, they performed an analysis of nuclear power's benefits in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution deaths.
The study concluded that nuclear power already has had a major beneficial impact, based upon calculations of prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions for the period 1971-2009. Nuclear power could prevent from 420,000 to 7 million additional deaths by 2050, and prevent emission of 80-240 billion tons of the greenhouse gases linked to global warming, the study found.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Vote to Keep San Onofre Online

Please support San Onofre and their bid to provide power to Southern California.  Since its shut down, Southern California has had to purchase over $400 Million in Energy elsewhere.  It is a cost Californians can't afford.


Although this is a non-scientific vote, it is happening on a site that has been against San Onofre and yet the vote to keep it producing is winning by a 58% approval margin at the time of this post.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Costs for San Onofre nuclear power plant shutdown exceed $550 million, may be retired

Costs tied to the idling of California's San Onofre nuclear power plant have climbed to $553 million, while the majority owner raised the possibility Tuesday of retiring the plant if it can't get one reactor running later this year.

The plant between San Diego and Los Angeles has not produced electricity since January 2012, when a tiny radiation leak led to the discovery of unusual damage to hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water.

Edison International — the parent company of operator Southern California Edison — reported Tuesday that $109 million has been spent through March 31 on repairs and inspections, while $444 million was needed for replacement power.

SCE has asked federal regulators for permission to restart the Unit 2 reactor and run it for a five-month test period. Without that approval, Chairman Ted Craver told Wall Street analysts in a conference call that a decision on whether to retire one, or both, reactors might be made this year.

The company is facing a tangle of regulatory obstacles that include a Nuclear Regulatory Commission review of the restart plan and a separate state investigation into who should pay for the long-running shutdown — customers or shareholders.


Russia to spend over $30 billion in nuclear energy development

Russia will expend one trillion rubles ($31.3 billion) to develop its nuclear power industry through to 2015. Russia’s next-generation nuclear power plants will have an improved safety design, as well as an improved water desalination system.

“Nuclear security and nuclear power production safety should be upgraded with the aid of new technological solutions,” the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for security and disarmament Mikhail Ulyanov, said on Wednesdayas, as quoted by Itar-Tass.

A new generation of Russian nuclear power plants will include such safety features as double reactor containment, passive heat removal systems, and specialized cooling units, he said.

According to Ulyanov, Russia has started designing the reactors that not only generate electric power, but also desalinate water. Plants with such reactors may potentially become “instruments of development for many countries,” the official believes.