Monday, December 29, 2014

Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant unplugs from the grid for good this week

By Mary Serreze - Special to The Republican 

VERNON, VT -- The 620-megawatt Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will disconnect from the regional power grid this week after four decades of producing electricity, according to the company's decommissioning website.

Vermont Yankee's final day of operation, targeted for Dec. 29, comes sixteen months after parent company Entergy Corp. announced the plant would close by the end of 2014. Entergy cited economic reasons for the shutdown, including high regulatory costs, increased competition from natural gas power plants, and disadvantageous market structures.



Read more... The Republican

Renewable Energy and Protecting the Grid from Terrorism and Natural Disasters

Tom Lombardo on Engineering.com

A society that relies on technology becomes extremely vulnerable when the technology fails, and since most of our gadgets are electrical, protecting the power grid is a top priority. Failures can be caused by human error, weather, animals, or acts of malevolence, so grid designers must build in safeguards in order to keep faults from taking down major portions of the grid. The National Research Council published two documents that outline the potential problems with the US electrical grid and offer potential solutions based on current or near-future technology. Obviously the reports don’t go into great detail, for security reasons. As Data (the android in Star Trek: The Next Generation) once said, “If you had an off switch, would you want everybody to know about it?”

Read more...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Back to the Future: Can Nuclear Energy Save the World?

Newsweek -

The Nuclear Science and Engineering Library at MIT is not a place where most people would go to unwind. It’s filled with journals that have articles with titles like “Longitudinal double-spin asymmetry of electrons from heavy flavor decays in polarized p + p collisions at [square root symbol]s = 200 GeV.”

But nuclear engineering Ph.D. candidates relax in ways all their own. In the winter of 2009, two of those candidates, Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie, were studying for their qualifying exams—a brutal rite of passage—and had a serious need to decompress.

To clear their heads after long days and nights of reviewing neutron transport, the mathematics behind thermohydraulics, and other such subjects, they browsed through the crinkled pages of journals from the first days of their industry—the glory days. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Warren County Power Station Joins Dominion's Generation Fleet

PRESS RELEASE - Market Watch

New station can power up to 325,000 homes- Use of natural gas reduces impact on the environment- Facility will provide more than $35 million annually in economic benefits 

RICHMOND, Va., Dec. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The newest member of Dominion Virginia Power's electric generation fleet, 1,329-megawatt Warren County Power Station, entered into commercial operation yesterday evening December 10th, 2014.

The natural gas-fired power station is located just north of Front Royal, Va., and can produce enough electricity to power about 325,000 homes at peak demand. The $1.1 billion facility came in on time and under budget.

"Our newest power station is a welcome addition to a generating fleet that is already one of the cleanest and most-reliable in the nation," said David A. Christian, chief executive officer-Dominion Generation.  "It fills a critical need to meet growing demand in the Commonwealth and in Northern Virginia in particular. It is built to be both environmentally and economically efficient, promoting quality of life as well as economic development."

Read more...

Executive management changes announced at Southern Company subsidiary

PRESS RELEASE - Market Watch

ATLANTA, Dec. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning today announced two changes to the executive management team of subsidiary Southern Company Services, Inc.

Theodore J. McCullough has been named chief production officer and executive vice president of Southern Company Services' operations organization.McCullough previously served as executive vice president of engineering and construction services. In his new role, McCullough will be responsible for the operation of all of the Southern Company system's fossil and hydro generation assets.

"Southern Company's commitment to energy innovation is important to continue delivering customer value," said Fanning. "Ted's solution-focused approach will help ensure Southern Company's generating fleet remains among the nation's safest, most efficient and most reliable."

Read more...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Nuclear Power’s Place in the Green Energy Market



By Lee S. Gliddon III

Nuclear power is becoming recognized as a “green energy” source more and more each day.  As environmentalists and the public at large become more educated in regards to nuclear power, the positive perception of nuclear power grows.

Considering the cost, emissions, carbon footprint, renewable aspects, and the improvements already present in new nuclear technology; nuclear power as a whole is an environmental advantage for countries that champion and move forward with it as a source.  These same countries are realizing an economic boom, while those abandoning nuclear power are falling into difficult economic times.  When economies falter, the environment often suffers greatly, this offers yet another reason for countries to embrace nuclear power.

Cost of Power

Nuclear power has been determined to be an inexpensive energy source in regards raw materials required and cost to produce.  

All energy production requires raw materials to create usable electricity.  Nuclear power, by a factor of millions provides the greatest multiplier from raw material to usable energy.   That fact; makes nuclear power incredibly “green”.

The actual cost of Nuclear Power to produce is significantly less than Solar, Coal, and Natural Gas with only Wind Power as a rival.  However, Wind Power does not offer the reliable and quantity of energy which Nuclear Power provides.


Electric Vision' by Robert Preston Sept 7, 2005 using figures from US Department of Energy, September, 2005.

Nuclear Power – The World Report 2012 - 2030



By Lee S. Gliddon III
Research by:  Mary Owings, Lee S. Gliddon III
February 2012 (Republished 12/8/2014)

Mark Twain once said, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."  Like Mark Twain, recent reports of the death of nuclear power are also greatly exaggerated, but unlike the prolific author who died in 1910, nuclear power will be present, with growth scheduled for decades to come, throughout the planet.  Recent trends, plans, and quotes from the world community let us know there will be expansion of nuclear power, not contraction.

WORLDWIDE

Growth in nuclear power reactors is expected throughout the world and particularly from China and India.  Over 80 new nuclear power plants are expected to be commissioned by 2017.  61 nuclear plants are under construction and an additional 491 are planned or proposed.  That number has grown by 9 since the Fukushima event.   

The International Energy Agency estimates world electricity demand will double by 2030.  The advantages are that nuclear energy is not subject to unreliable weather or climate, uranium supplies are solid, and there are zero carbon emissions.  Ever improving technology have new plants producing far more energy using less fuel; while being less expensive to build with far less waste.  Countries looking to meet their Kyoto environmental commitments simply cannot without nuclear power.

EUROPE

Currently almost 30% of the electricity consumed in the European Union comes from nuclear power. Although Germany has claimed they will “get off” nuclear power; it remains an important technology of choice and the European Commission will maintain and develop research into nuclear power.  France alone obtains over 70% of its electricity needs from nuclear power with no plans to change.

Germany

German Chancellor Merkel has vowed to get off nuclear power.  That goal is costing Germany economically and environmentally already.  Germany was a net exporter of energy and is now at a “break even” point with still over half of its nuclear reactors online.  Germany is now slated to build 17 new coal and 29 new gas-fired plants.  Meanwhile, German environmentalists are upset as 25 million tons of carbon emissions have been added according to, Laszlo Varro of the International Energy Agency.  



The Czech Republic defies Germany

Merkel backed down on the German position regarding its neighbors which was to oppose the Czech Republic’s plan to build two more reactors at the Temelin nuclear power station near the German and Austrian border.  There may even be a long term plan to buy energy from the Czech Republic as Germany must begin to buy energy from its neighbors.

Before we close more nuclear power plants, we need a national conversation

ew England is about to get hit with huge electricity rate increases, job losses and more carbon emissions, a result of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant’s imminent closure.  Make no mistake, the potential for these consequences to occur is not isolated to one region -- all parts of the country should brace themselves if additional premature plant closures occur.
 
In fact, a growing number of America’s existing nuclear energy plants are at risk of shutting down. In 2013, four nuclear energy reactors from across the country announced their retirement, an unprecedented retrenchment for the nuclear industry.   Others have indicated that they will follow suit if conditions do not improve, even though these plants have years of useful life left.    

Such losses will be devastating because of the benefits that our existing nuclear energy plants provide to the nation. 

Existing nuclear plants produce 20 percent of our electricity, provide 100,000 well-paying jobs, contribute billions in local, state and federal taxes, and make up 63 percent of our carbon-free energy.
To put a finer point on it: due to Vermont Yankee’s closure, 600 people across Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts will lose their jobs. Not to mention that regulators are already scrambling to ensure that the energy from the Vermont Yankee unit is replaced, given that nuclear power, including from Vermont Yankee, produced 26 percent of New England’s power during the peak of last year’s frigid weather.  Vermont Yankee also helps prevent the emission of a million tons of carbon each year.

Vermont Yankee is just one example of this national problem.  The closure of the Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin and the San Onofre plant in California pose serious carbon emissions challenges for their host regions, among a number of other issues.  

Read More...

GOP gains put nuclear power back on the table

Republicans and the nuclear power sector are hopeful that GOP control of the Senate will improve the political landscape for an industry that hasn’t opened a new generator in nearly two decades.
As Senate Democrats this week held their tenth hearing on nuclear safety since Japan’s Fukushima Daichii meltdown three years ago, Republicans and observers looked forward to a future with a more business-friendly approach to the industry.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), long a champion of nuclear power and a critic of environmental rules, is set to become chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees nuclear safety. The committee is also likely to retain nuclear fans like Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.).

“It’ll be clearly a more favorable committee, and there may be some things that we can do” to help the industry," Sessions said.

An Inhofe aide said the Obama administration and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have been far too adversarial to nuclear energy, hurting the industry and making it difficult to justify investments in new plants.

“When you think about federal regulations on the nuclear industry, they’ve certainly had a chilling effect lately,” the staffer said. “The NRC has been very aggressive in their regulatory agenda, proposing a number of regulations that aren’t justified from a cost-benefit standpoint and are duplicative of other regulations that are already in place.”

The aide drew a contrast between Inhofe, who wants to set a high bar for new regulations to prove they are beneficial and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the current chairwoman of the environment panel. Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have also made names for themselves as diligent advocates for nuclear safety.

Boxer has pushed for years for NRC to improve its rules on storing spent nuclear fuel, emergency response procedures for plants and seismic requirements, among other protections. Republicans and the industry have characterized her response to the Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and meltdown as an overreaction.

Read More...

New EPA rules and nuclear power

It is time to recognize preventing severe climate change is a matter of national security – and that the availability of nuclear power is critically important. Not only is it the cleanest way to produce a large amount of “base-load” electricity without emitting greenhouse gases, it is also safe and reliable, generating 19 percent of the nation’s power.

In order to reduce our nation’s carbon footprint, renewable energy sources like solar and wind power can help, but on days when the weather isn’t cooperating they require backup energy from fossil fuels. Currently, solar and wind energy combined, even with tax credits and state mandates for renewable sources, contribute less than 5 percent to the power grid.

Because nuclear power is the largest source of zero-carbon energy, we must act promptly and decisively to ensure the continued use of existing nuclear plants – and development of a new generation of reactors using innovative advanced designs. That’s where the government comes in.

As a professor of nuclear engineering, I find the Environmental Protection Agency’s policy toward nuclear power problematic. Without existing nuclear plants, EPA’s carbon-reduction goals will be practically impossible to meet. Rather than recognize nuclear power’s value, EPAs proposed carbon regulations fall considerably short of what’s needed to keep operating nuclear plants online, counting only 6 percent of nuclear generation toward a state’s carbon intensity goal. And the rules actually penalize new nuclear plants that are being built in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Read More...

Russia may build up to 24 nuclear power units in India

MOSCOW, December 8. /TASS/. Russia may build 20-24 nuclear power units in India against 14-16 units agreed previously, the Times of India reported Monday, citing Russia’s ambassador Alexander Kadakin.

The new road map on the countries’ cooperation in the nuclear industry can be formed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Delhi on Thursday.

“We have big plans for nuclear energy cooperation,” Kadakin said, addressing a news conference ahead of Putin’s visit. “Russia had agreed to help India build 14-16 nuclear units. Now it seems that demand of India is much bigger and this may rise to 20-24 units.”
The countries plan to start negotiations for the construction of a fifth and sixth units at the Kudankulam nuclear plant soon, he also said. An agreement on the construction of the plant’s third and fourth units will be signed during Putin’s visit, he also said.

Read More...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cumbria's Moorside nuclear power plant funding plan agreed

From BBC.com

Funding assistance for a new nuclear power plant in Cumbria has been guaranteed by the government.

The Treasury has signed a "co-operation agreement" with developers NuGen, Toshiba and GDF Suez, to help them access a finance scheme for a 3.6GW facility at Moorside near Sellafield.

Three reactors, billed as being able to power up to six million homes, are due to come online in 2024. A final investment decision is due in 2018.

Read more...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Groups want Northwest's only commercial nuclear power plant shut down due to fuel storage concerns

by The Associated Press

RICHLAND, Wash. — Two Seattle-based groups are calling for the closure of the Northwest's only commercial nuclear power plant.

Heart of America Northwest and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility on Wednesday said the Columbia Generating Station should be closed because of worries about the storage pool that cools used nuclear fuel.

A new report commissioned by the groups also questioned worker protection at the plant, which is on leased land at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The Tri-City Herald reported the plant employs about 850 people and generates about 4 percent of the electricity in the Northwest through the Bonneville Power Administration.

The report was written by Robert Alvarez, a frequent critic of nuclear power and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.

The report is "64 pages of details about a plant that the author knows very little about," said Mike Paoli, spokesman for Energy Northwest, which operates the plant.

Read more...

Cities may turn to new forms of nuclear power

by JENNIFFER WARDEL, THE Davis Clipper


BOUNTIFUL, UT —  Safer, more compact nuclear power may be Utah’s energy future.

According to Doug Hunter, general manager of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), the group is currently looking at small modular nuclear reactors as a possible solution to the new EPA regulations that will severely restrict the state’s coal plants by 2024. Though no decisions have been made, UAMPS members cities including Bountiful Power and Rocky Mountain Power are looking into utilizing the smaller, safer reactors.

“The nice thing about these smaller reactors is that they have such a safety factor built in,” said Allen Johnson, director of Bountiful Power. “The bigger nuclear plants can be sort of scary.”

The modular reactors are smaller nuclear units currently being built in a plant in Idaho. Though they produce much less power than a larger reactor or even a coal plant, they can be used in conjunction to produce just over the power an average coal plant would put out. The advantage is that this power is carbon-free, making it safe from the EPA regulations.

Read more...

Monday, November 17, 2014

New nuclear power threatened by shortage of atomic engineers

Engineering and design consultancy Atkins is having to retrain engineers from other specialisms in nuclear technology to meet growing demand for atomic power in the UK and internationally.

The company is running an internal academy to deal with the shortage of suitably skilled engineers as the UK begins to gear up to build a new fleet of nuclear power stations and other countries hope to develop their own generation capabilities.
Uwe Krueger, chief executive of the FTSE 250 business, said: “You cannot believe how scarce these guys are. We are willing to support growth opportunities with resources and to encourage people into the field we have started an internal academy.”

Training can range from just learning the terminology of the industry so engineers understand its requirements, meaning they can design buildings on nuclear sites, to much more in depth learning for complex design challenges.

Read more...

Before we close more nuclear power plants, we need a national conversation


Friday, November 14, 2014

Texas, the U.S. wind energy leader now looks to battery storage

By Robert Magyar for DigitalJournal.com
 
Dallas - Texas, home of the oil and gas industry, is the U.S. leader in installed wind energy. As its energy mix for electricity continues to change, it has begun to deal with the issue of battery storage similar to California and New York. 
 

Texas, the long time hometown to the nation's oil and gas industry, now has the most installed wind energy generation in the country and continues to add more wind generating capacity each year going forward. According to the American Wind Energy Association in its latest 2014 quarterly production data, Texas has installed more than 12,752 megawatts (MW) of wind energy and currently has more than 40 new wind projects in various stages of development. Its total wind energy output is on par with many U.S. nuclear plants and it has double the amount of wind production as California and more than four times the amount of wind energy generated in neighboring Oklahoma, it close cousin in the oil and gas industry. 
 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

America's Critical Infrastructure Is Vulnerable To Cyber Attacks

Guest post written by Michael Assante for Forbes - Similar to the use of technology, the ability to regulate a solution is inherently limited. Regulation creates a compliance mentality in which policies and investments are based on achieving and maintaining compliance. Compliance is predictable, which makes it the hacker’s best friend.

Lack in security professionals who understand both digital security and control system technology

Legislation (HR 3696) has been introduced in the U.S. Congress that would increase the sharing of information related to control system breaches to better arm security professionals to prevent future breaches. That is a worthwhile goal; unfortunately, there is a dire lack of security professionals with an understanding of both digital security and control system technology to benefit from this information sharing.

Read more...

Monday, November 10, 2014

NRC Resumes Nuclear Power Plant License Renewals

By Enerknol Research - On October 29, 2014, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report highlighting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) resumption of license renewals, ending a two-year suspension on licensing decisions. The NRC resumed the process on October 20, extending the license expiration dates of Pennsylvania’s Limerick Generating Station Units 1 and 2 by 20 years (to 2044 and 2049, respectively) – bringing the number of renewals with 20-year extensions to 74.  Currently, there are 100 operating nuclear reactors in the U.S; nuclear power accounted for 20 percent of total power sector electricity generation in 2013.

 Read more...

Friday, October 31, 2014

Nuclear Energy: The Once and Future Power Source

By Brandon Ott (RCP) - To say the nuclear industry has had highs and lows in the last 35 years is an understatement. The “atoms for peace” that were intended to wean Planet Earth off fossil fuels, make Western nations energy independent, and provide a clean environment all but screeched to a halt after the disasters at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986.  Add in 20 years of weapons of mass destruction talk and sensational sci-fi movie explosions -- all before a tsunami overwhelmed a reactor on the coast of Japan -- and nuclear energy was on the verge of going full dodo.

In the United States, nearly all of the currently active nuclear power plants were built 40 years ago or more. We’d gone almost 30 years without seeing any new ones built. Now, five reactors are under construction, with one close to coming online, and many more are receiving licenses to operate for another 20 years. After four plant closures since 2013, the United States has 100 working reactors with clear support from the American public.

Yet growth has been sluggish, for several reasons. First, the revolution in hydraulic fracturing technology dramatically expanded the supply of oil and natural gas while driving the price of natural gas to historic lows.  Utility companies looking to build new power plants are looking at a third the cost per kilowatt-hour if they employ “nat-gas.”


Read more...

DOE invests in more efficient nuclear power plants

The Obama administration is looking to develop more efficient nuclear power facilities.

Next generation nuclear reactors would not only save energy, but they would also be safer to operate, the Department of Energy (DOE) said Friday as it announced new investments in the sector.

As part of the Obama administration's climate action plan, the Energy Department announced it will provide tens of millions of dollars to support companies involved in key nuclear energy research.

The companies, including AREVA Federal Services, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, General Atomics, NGNP Industry Alliance, and Westinghouse Electric Company, are looking to build advanced reactor technologies.

These companies will receive $13 million in cost-share agreements with the Energy Department that will help them address design, construction and operation issues associated with next generation nuclear reactors.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Research shows urgent need to address instability of world's power supplies

Phys.org by Elizabeth Mitchell - A new study reveals the urgent need to address instabilities in the supply of electrical power to counteract an increase in the frequency and severity of urban blackouts.

Research by Hugh Byrd, Professor of Architecture at the University of Lincoln, UK, and Steve Matthewman, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, highlights the insecurities of power systems and weakening electrical infrastructure across the globe, particularly in built-up urban areas.

The work builds on previous studies which examined a sharp increase in electrical usage over recent years, and warned the world to prepare for the prospect of coping without electricity as instances of complete power failure become increasingly common.

Read more...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Nuclear Gap In Obama's Clean Power Plan

By Michael Krancer for Forbes - If we want to arrest climate change, all we need are more renewables like wind and solar, right? Not exactly, according to a newly published Canadian report on life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”). In fact, the report, which is based on 246 studies covering various power generation scenarios and constraints, concluded that nuclear power beats wind and natural gas on an ‘apples-to-apples’ basis for battling climate change.
[...]
How is possible that nukes have a smaller carbon footprint than the wind-natural gas duet? Well, wind power is intermittent and needs back-up from natural gas-fired electricity. Nuclear is a 24/7/365 power generation with zero carbon emissions. This is no back-of-the-envelope calculation. The methodology used by Hatch was in conformance with ISO 14040, the international standard governing lifecycle assessments. You can read more about the solid methodology on pages 2 and 3 of the report.

Read more...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

California ISO: Challenging 2014 summer but reliability held firm

By Editors of Electric Light & Power/ POWERGRID International 

The California Independent System Operator Corporation grid operators managed reliable electricity delivery this summer through major wildfires, historic drought conditions and heat waves.

This summer’s highest level of demand reached 45,090 MW at 4:53 p.m. on September 15, 2014. This compares to 45,097 MW set on June 28, 2013 and 46,846 MW on August 13, 2012. The ISO’s highest peak on record is 50,270 MW on July 24, 2006.

On a local level, southern California set new demand records that underscore the impact from above normal — hot — temperatures recorded during the summer, especially along the coast. San Diego Gas & Electric area experienced record use on Monday, September 15 and then topped that on September 16 with an all-time record demand of 4,895 MW. The standing record peak was 4,684 MW set on September 27, 2010.


Southern California Edison area also experienced heavy loads reaching 23,266 MW on September 15. This was just shy of the area’s all-time peak of 23,388 MW set on September 7, 2011.

Meanwhile, one of the California ISO’s newest participating transmission owners, Valley Electric Association of Pahrump, Nevada, which serves a 6,800 square mile area south of Las Vegas and a sliver of California, set a new demand record of 120 MW on July 1, 2014.

Read more...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rising cost of electricity fuels debate over need for Tennessee Gas Pipeline

By RICHIE DAVIS - Recorder Staff

When National Grid announced recently that it will increase electricity prices this winter, that was enough to raise some eyebrows.
 
Not only will its Massachusetts Electric customers have their bills jump by more than one-third beginning next month because of rising fuel costs to generate that power, but competing Western Massachusetts Electric Co. said it will likely also be raising its prices for the six months beginning in January.

This comes as the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. moves forward with controversial plans for its Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline, which the company says is needed for New England to power its electric grid and lower energy costs to compete with other regions.

“Limited natural gas transportation infrastructure ... has led to extremely high electricity prices in the Northeast U.S., and threatens the reliability of the region’s electric grid,” Tennessee Gas reported last month in its request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the pipeline across Massachusetts. “As a result of the fact that current natural gas transportation infrastructure is inadequate to meet the growing demand in the New England region, gas prices in New England are the highest in the United States.”

It quoted an industry association study as predicting that 6 billion cubic feet a day of new natural gas pipeline capacity will be needed in the Northeast by 2020, and 10.1 billion cubic feet per day of capacity will be needed by 2035.

NRC OKs Yucca Mountain Repository Plan After Closure


The repository has been a political bone of contention for years and is far from even opening. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered completion of the NRC Yucca Mountain review in August 2013 after Congress had cut off funding for the evaluation.

The NRC report released Thursday, called Volume 3, covers one million years past closure of the repository.  The agency still has to complete Volume 2, which is to cover repository safety before permanent closure, Volume 4, covering administrative concerns, and Volume 5, addressing licensing issues. It published Volume 1, which dealt with general information, in August 2010. The final three volumes are expected to be completed by January 2015.

Read more...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Researchers explore power of thorium for improved nuclear design

The UK is playing a key role in an international project to develop a radical new type of nuclear power station that is safer, more cost-effective, compact, quicker and less disruptive to build than any previously constructed.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as part of the RCUK Energy Programme, a team at the University of Cambridge is exploring whether the element thorium could help to meet the new design's fuel needs. As well as being three to four times more abundant than uranium, thorium could potentially produce electricity more fuel efficiently and therefore more cheaply.

The aim of the overall project, initiated by the US Department of Energy and led by Georgia Institute of Technology, is to design a power plant whose size would be reduced and safety enhanced by breaking with convention and integrating the main heat exchangers inside the secure pressure vessel where the nuclear reactions take place. This innovation gives the design its name: Integral Inherently Safe Light Water Reactor (I2S-LWR).

Read more...

Nuclear power's future focus of Purdue workshop

Chris Morisse Vizza, cvizza@jconline.com

Purdue University is gearing for a two-day workshop on campus this week that will draw, among others, a top official from the U.S. Department of Energy.

At 7 p.m. Thursday in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse, Sal Golub, associate deputy secretary for nuclear technologies, will present the Discovery Lecture. It is free and open to the public.

Nuclear power provides carbon-free energy but poses challenges in terms of safety, proliferation and environmental impact, said event organizer Anter El-Azab, a Purdue nuclear engineering professor.

"This Purdue workshop devoted to nuclear power and related research will attempt to put all those issues on the table to a lively discussion on where we can go from here," El-Azab said.

The workshop will include a brainstorming session geared toward creating partnerships between Purdue and external institutions, national research laboratories, industry and other universities.

Read more...

Monday, October 13, 2014

FACTBOX: Six concepts for the future of nuclear power

(Reuters) - The Generation IV International Forum (GIF) was created in 2000 to perform research on new types of nuclear reactors to replace the water-cooled models that make up the majority of today's global nuclear fleet. 

The group, which consists mainly of public nuclear research agencies, selected the following six systems on which to focus its research efforts.

A former EPA director is pushing for wider use of nuclear power in the US

Friday, October 10, 2014

Deadline extension averts costly shutdown at Wolf Creek nuclear power plant



Federal officials gave the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp. an extra eight hours to fix a backup generator that was damaged in a fire early this week, averting a shutdown of the nuclear power plant near Burlington, officials said Thursday.

“We’re totally good,” plant spokesman Terry Young said Thursday evening, shortly after the damaged generator was certified as repaired. “We’re running full-steam ahead.”

The actual repairs to the damaged generator were completed Wednesday afternoon, but the unit had to be tested and then run for 24 hours without incident before it could be certified as being back in service. The plant continued in full-power operating mode while the repairs were done and no radiation was released in the incident, officials said.

The deadline extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was good news for customers of the three utility companies that own the plant. Shutdowns cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a day as the power companies have to burn more fuel at their coal and gas plants or buy power from other systems, or both. Those costs eventually show up in consumers’ bills.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/state/article2636088.html#storylink=cpy

Read more...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

E.U. Approves Plan for New Nuclear Power Station in Britain


LONDON — The European authorities on Wednesday approved construction of Britain’s first nuclear power station since the mid-1990s, in a ruling that could clear the way for other European countries to plan nuclear plants as part of their energy future.

The decision, by the European Union’s competition regulator, removes one of the final obstacles for the plant, at Hinkley Point in southwest England, which would produce about 7 percent of Britain’s current power supply but would not start operating before 2023.

Although the British government had already approved the power station, Brussels needed to sign off to make sure the financing plan did not constitute unfair state aid.

The plant would be built by EDF Energy, the British subsidiary of the French state-controlled utility, which already operates nearly all the nuclear power plants in Britain. EDF said the plants would cost 16 billion pounds, or $25.7 billion, at 2012 prices.
Read more...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Expansion Gives Colorado Highlands Wind Project A 24 MW Boost

The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association recently announced that a 24 MW expansion of the Colorado Highlands Wind project is complete.

The wind farm originally came online in December 2012, with 42 1.6-MW GE turbines able to produce 67 MW of power. The expansion - which was announced in April and began construction in July - consists of an additional 14 1.7-MW GE turbines,  increasing the facility's total current capacity to 91 MW.

Read more...

Monday, October 6, 2014

As feds set carbon rules, a renewed interest in nuclear power

Exelon Corporation Three Mile Island

The Three Mile Island power plant has a conspicuous place near the Pennsylvania Turnpike and in the history of the world's nuclear power industry.

Drive east over the Susquehanna River in Dauphin County and you'll see steam emanating from only two of TMI's four cooling towers. That's because one of its reactors partially melted down in 1979. It was the worst nuclear accident in United States history.

Unit 1 is still operational. It's run by Exelon Corporation.

Before we can go inside, company spokesman Ralph DeSantis takes us to a security checkpoint where we meet heavily armed guards. They check our names, social security numbers, and birthdates. We pass through a metal turnstile and reach more security. It looks a bit like an airport, with a metal detector, x-ray machine, and an explosive detector.

Once we make it through, DeSantis takes us to TMI's Unit 1 reactor.

"This is the reactor building," he says, pointing to a wall of concrete that's four feet thick. "Right on the other side of this wall is where the reactor is. That's where the chain reaction is occurring."

At full capacity, the plant generates enough electricity for 800,000 homes.

It's one of five nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania — together they account for about 35 percent of the state's electric generation. Only Illinois has more nuclear capacity.

Read more...

UK wind power bests nuclear power – for a few symbolic minutes

TheGuardian - by Chris Goodall

Stormy weather helped wind power briefly overtake nuclear power in electricity generation on 6 October Photograph: Global Warming Images/REX/Global Warming Images/REXIt only has symbolic significance, but at half past nine this morning wind was supplying more electricity to the national grid than nuclear.

For a few minutes, the gusts over the western side of the United Kingdom supplied more than 6 gigawatts and a temporary slight dip in nuclear output meant that wind was more important for electricity supply than the UK’s ageing nuclear fleet.

The new record came a few hours after stories about new cracks in the graphite blocks of one of the reactor at EDF’s Hunsterston plant. We’ll see more and more days when wind power beats the geriatric nuclear fleet.

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Nuclear Power: Florida PSC credits $54MM to Duke Energy customers

PennEnergy - By PennEnergy Editorial Staff

The three-member panel of the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has ordered that a credit be given to Duke Energy Florida (NYSE: DUK) customers for $54 million dollars in equipment that was never received for the defunct Levy Nuclear Project. In 2013, Duke Energy terminated the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement for the proposed 1,100 MW nuclear power plant, as part of a settlement with PSC.

Commissioner Julie I. Brown stated "We need to pause here and reflect on what is fair, just and in the public interest. $3.45 per month may not seem like a lot to some people, but it means everything to Duke's customers. Customers shouldn't have to pay for something that was never delivered on."

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Emission-free nuclear industry blasts EPA plan

Washington Examiner - By

The nuclear power industry says it’s getting a raw deal under President Obama’s proposal to limit carbon emissions from power plants.

States and energy utilities say the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan would penalize nuclear energy generation, which produces no greenhouse gases. The contentious issue has emerged prominently during the comment period that began after the rule was proposed in June.
The rule is intended to produce a 30 percent cut in power-sector emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, but industry has two big concerns.

One is an EPA policy designed as an incentive for states to keep operating reactors “at risk” of shutting down because of market pressure or expensive safety upgrades. Industry officials say the incentive is not enough and won’t work as intended.

The other issue concerns five nuclear reactors that are under construction. When it wrote its emissions proposal, the EPA counted these projects, in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, as completed. The states say this makes their emission targets difficult because they are not allowed to count these cleaner plants’ lower emissions toward their mandated cuts.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why Doesn't U.S. Recycle Nuclear Fuel?

Post written byWilliam F. Shughart II (as Opinion at Forbes.com)
Research director of The Independent Institute in Oakland, California.

The chattering class’s call for action on “climate change” overlooks a crucial point: to succeed, we need to increase reliance on nuclear power, the cleanest technology available, despite the vocal opposition from those who fear another Three-Mile Island or a more-serious disaster like Chernobyl or Fukushima.

Compared to electric generating plants fueled by coal and other fossil fuels, nuclear plants have a very light “carbon footprint.” Current public policy, however, favors solar, wind and other “green” energy sources, largely because used nuclear fuel remains radioactive, and policy-makers can’t decide what to do with it.

What we ought to do is what other countries do: recycle it. Doing so would provide a huge amount of zero-carbon energy that would help us reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

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Report: Nuclear Energy Essential To Illinois' Economy, Environment

NEI - Nuclear Energy Institute
Study Shows Severe Consequences if Three Illinois Nuclear Plants Close

 WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Illinois' six nuclear energy facilities deliver enormous economic, environmental and electric reliability benefits to the state, according to a new analysis from the Nuclear Energy Institute. The benefits include nearly $9 billion of annual economic stimulus and almost 28,000 direct and secondary jobs across the state. The highly efficient power stations generated 90 percent of Illinois' carbon-free electricity.

The NEI study is entitled "The Impact of Exelon's Nuclear Fleet on the Illinois Economy."

"Illinois is fortunate to have such a workhorse for the state's economy, environment and energy reliability," said Richard Myers, NEI's vice president for policy development. "These nuclear assets have been delivering value to Illinois consumers for decades and they should never be taken for granted."

The report includes an analysis of the consequences if three Illinois nuclear plants were to retire prematurely because many key attributes of the facilities are not properly valued in the electricity market. It shows that the consequences for the state's economy and environment would be dire.

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Watts Bar Nuclear Plant shows it can perform under pressure

TimesFreePress - by Dave Flessner

Four decades after workers began construction of the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, TVA successfully passed a critical test this week toward finally completing a second reactor at the Spring City, Tenn., power plant.

TVA workers and contractors on Tuesday successfully completed a cold hydro-static pressure test to ensure that key reactor equipment and systems did not leak or fail under pressure in the Unit 2 reactor under construction at Watts Bar.

"This is a significant milestone and success for Watts Bar yesterday to ensure that the workmanship used to construct the reactor coolant system and other associated systems were constructed in the right manner," said Ray Hruby, general manager for Watts Bar Unit 2 construction services.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Exelon touts nuclear to meet EPA Clean Power Plan

September 26, 2014 | By Barbara Vergetis Lundin for FierceEnergy
 
To meet proposed carbon emissions reduction targets, Illinois must preserve its existing nuclear energy facilities. That is according to Exelon Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory Affairs and Wholesale Market Policy Kathleen Barrón speaking at a policy session convened by the Illinois Commerce Commission to solicit expert perspectives on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed rule (Clean Power Plan) for reducing carbon emissions from existing power plants.
 
Economic pressures facing Illinois' nuclear energy facilities have put some of them at risk of early closure and retiring the three Illinois nuclear plants at greatest risk would set the state back substantially, jeopardizing its ability to meet emissions reduction targets, according to Barrón.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Decommissioning of San Onofre nuclear power plant to cost estimated $4.4 billion

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Decommissioning of the idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County will cost an estimated $4.4 billion, according to a plan submitted Tuesday by majority owner Southern California Edison.

The plan was vetted in a series of public meetings. Another chance for the public to comment on the plan is scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m. at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center in that southern Orange County city.
The plan, summed up in three documents submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, envisions major decommissioning work to begin in early 2016. The documents include a decommissioning plan, a cost estimate and how to manage spent fuel.

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Florida nuclear power plant auctioning $100M worth of equipment

By Adam Winer, ABC

No, you can't buy uranium...

A decommissioned nuclear facility in Citrus County is selling all of its surplus supplies.
 
Equipment like a Micro Vu Optical Comparator, Limitorque Nuclear Service Motor and Sulzer Bing Lower Bowl are among the millions in items going up for auction Wednesday morning.
 
Duke Energy says the supplies were worth a total of about $100 million when they were purchased, and company officials can only hope to make most of that back.
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

UK agrees deal with EU on new Hinkley Point nuclear power plant

By Alex Barker in Brussels - Financial Times

Britain has agreed terms with Brussels to secure approval for billions of pounds of public funding for Hinkley Point, the country’s first new nuclear power plant in a generation. 

While the conditions are not yet public, Europe’s competition chief is satisfied the revised deal meets EU rules on state support and will propose the project is approved before the end of this European Commission’s mandate in November.

The breakthrough is a big boost for the UK government’s contract with French utility EDF, which will provide a template for the next wave of state-backed nuclear plants across Europe. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Visualizing the Changing Landscape in Nuclear Power

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Regulators Affirm Quake Safety For Last Operating Nuclear Plant In California


LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — A top Nuclear Regulatory Commission official has rejected a federal expert’s recommendation to shut down California’s last operating nuclear power plant until it can determine whether its reactors can withstand powerful shaking from nearby earthquake faults.
KNX 1070’s Megan Goldsby reports in a decision released Wednesday, operations executive Mark Satorius said there is no immediate or significant safety concern at the Diablo Canyon plant near San Luis Obispo.
Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon’s lead inspector, said in a confidential report disclosed last month by The Associated Press that no one knows whether the plant’s equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults.

Peck had requested the NRC study be done after the Shoreline fault was discovered in 2008. While there are five seismic faults close to the plant, both studies say they don’t pose a threat to Diablo Canyon, according NRC spokesperson Lara Uselding.

“The NRC’s position is that Diablo Canyon Power Plant is safe to operate and would be able to withstand the worst case earthquake possible on the Hosgri fault,” said Uselding. Blair Jones — a spokesman for plant owner Pacific Gas and Electric Co. — says in a statement the NRC decision reaffirms that the plant “has been and continues to be seismically safe.”

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Hope Creek nuclear reactor in Lower Alloways Creek returns to service after safety valve repair

By Bill Gallo Jr. | South Jersey Times Today's Sunbeam
Posted September 11, 2014 at 11:05 AM
 
LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TWP. — The Hope Creek nuclear reactor has returned to service after being shut down for repairs to a key safety relief valve, officials said.

The plant began sending out electricity over the regional power grid at 12:26 a.m. Thursday, according to Joe Delmar, spokesman for the plant's operator, PSEG Nuclear.  "The maintenance outage was well executed and we were able to make the repairs we needed to ensure the continued safe operation of Hope Creek," Delmar said.

The reactor was taken offline Friday evening for the work after it was discovered a valve was not operating as designed. The relief valve's function is to protect the reactor from overpressure in the event of a trip — a sudden shutdown. It would release steam to relieve pressure within the reactor. In the plant there are 14 of these valves.

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