Friday, August 29, 2014

Nuclear power looks for new ally—environmentalists

Even as the U.S. shale boom has sent oil and gas production skyrocketing, interest in alternative energy has increased. Yet nuclear power is still largely shunned by environmentalists, who see the fuel source as too costly and inherently dangerous.

That, however, may be changing. Last week, more than 200 United Nations researchers threw their weight behind atomic energy, calling for a tripling of output within the coming years as a means to combat carbon emissions. The move comes against the backdrop of nuclear innovations that seek to address safety and cost issues that have hampered the sector.

Currently, support for nuclear power among most environmentalists is tentative at best. But at least a few voices within the movement insist that soaring global demand for energy makes it imperative for climate change advocates to fully embrace atomic power.

"Environmentalists have to learn to live with nuclear energy," said Josh Freed, vice president for energy at Third Way, a multi-issue centrist think tank in Washington. "The globe is going to be an increasingly high-energy planet ... and [emerging markets] are going to demand the same baseload energy that industrialized countries are used to."

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Nuclear is key to reducing carbon emissions

By Christine Todd Whitman 

In the next month, the EPA will begin holding public meetings and accepting public comments on its proposal to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants. As a former EPA administrator, governor, and concerned citizen, I believe we must act on climate change. I strongly support efforts to transition to a clean energy economy and I hope that the EPA will continue its outreach to the public and maintain a flexible approach in achieving meaningful and lasting emissions reductions. These two elements — public input and flexibility — are key to maintaining support for emissions reductions while maintaining a reliable electric system.

EPA’s proposal would cut carbon pollution from the electricity sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels. States have options on how to achieve the goals – including installing new low-carbon electric technology such as nuclear, wind or solar generation, improving energy efficiency, or through regional initiatives to reduce emissions.

Nuclear energy already provides 1 in 5 American homes and businesses with electricity, and represents 63 percent of our clean-air and carbon-free electricity. And nuclear energy’s contribution is set to grow as five new reactors are under construction — providing more clean energy that our economy and environment demand.

America’s commercial reactors are carbon-free and are also one of the most efficient and reliable producers of electricity – operating 24/7 at industry-leading reliability. These facilities generate electricity on the hottest of days, the coldest of nights, when the wind isn’t blowing and when the sun isn’t shining. America’s decades-long leadership in nuclear energy means that every year, we prevent the emission of 570 million metric tons of carbon pollution — essentially the same amount of carbon emitted by almost all U.S. passenger cars.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Want to fight climate change? Build more nuclear power.

Aging plants and competition from cheaper alternatives threaten the future of US nuclear power, the country's largest source of carbon-free electricity. Even with renewable energy, it will be exceedingly difficult to meet US climate change targets if much of American nuclear goes offline, Cunningham writes.

By Nick Cunningham, August 28, 2014

The floundering U.S. nuclear industry just got a bit of good news: Utah is considering building two new nuclear reactors.

Blue Castle Holdings Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding with Westinghouse that could eventually lead to the construction of two AP1000 nuclear reactors. The two reactors have an estimated cost of $10 billion and an estimated operational date of 2024.

If constructed, Blue Castle says the reactors will increase Utah’s electricity generation capacity by 50 percent, which would replace the power lost with the retirement of a few coal plants in the state.
Recommended: Climate change: Is your opinion informed by science? Take our quiz!

The announcement is important because building new nuclear reactors in the United States has been a struggle, to say the least. There are five other reactors under construction – two in South Carolina, two in Georgia, and one in Tennessee. All have suffered delays and unexpected cost increases.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Investment in electricity transmission infrastructure shows steady increase

There has been a five-fold increase in new electricity transmission investment in the United States by major investors and privately owned companies during the 15 years from 1997 to 2012. The investment increased from $2.7 billion in 1997 to $14.1 billion in 2012—reversing a three-decade decline.

The first major wave of electricity transmission investment ended in the late 1960s. It began with electrification in the early 1900s and was driven by increased use of new transmission technology, the growing use of large central station generating plants to serve large areas, and growing electricity demand following World War II. From then until the mid-1990s, investment in transmission infrastructure declined. It has increased since then for several reasons:
  • Improving reliability
  • Connecting to renewable energy sources
  • Accommodating changes in electricity demand
  • Increasing costs to build new transmission
  • Reforming markets
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Friday, August 22, 2014

New Salem County nuclear reactor would have small impact on environment, boost economy, NRC study says

By Bill Gallo Jr. | South Jersey Times Today's Sunbeam on August 22, 2014 at 12:33 PM

LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TWP — Construction of a new reactor by PSEG Nuclear in Salem County would have mostly small to moderate impacts on the physical environment, but a large positive impact on the area economy, according to a study released by federal regulators on Friday.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission made public its draft environmental impact statement that is part of its review of PSEG Nuclear's application for an Early Site Permit.

That permit, if granted, would be one of the first steps in the possible construction of a new nuclear reactor at the utility's Artificial Island generating site in Lower Alloways Creek Township.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Deal Inked to Develop Nuclear Power Plant Near Green River

Posted 6:11 pm, August 20, 2014, by

SALT LAKE CITY — A deal has been signed to develop a planned nuclear power plant near Green River.

Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric announced late Wednesday it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Blue Castle Holdings to develop the plant.

“The executed MOU continues to implement the Blue Castle stepwise approach to risk reduction and favorable economics for utilities and ratepayers. The Blue Castle Project success is rooted in the support we have received from the public, state and local governments to deploy clean, predictable, long-term nuclear electricity generation,” Blue Castle CEO Aaron Tilton said in a statement.

Westinghouse claimed more than 2,500 jobs would be created with construction of the power plant, and 1,000 others when it was completed. The plant had a 60-year operating life, Westinghouse said.

Last year, a judge approved plans for a nuclear power plant in Utah after a trial over its impact.


Energy Secretary Pushes for Nuclear Power

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho • U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz championed the use of nuclear power and urged politicians and leaders in the energy industry to adapt and modernize energy production to help minimize the fallout from global warming.

Moniz stopped to speak in Idaho Falls on Wednesday at the inaugural Inter-mountain Energy Summit as part of his week-long tour throughout the West. Idaho's Republican congressmen Jim Risch, Mike Crapo and Mike Simpson also spoke during the conference.

"The predictions of a world where we do nothing predict unhealthy outcomes for our forests," Moniz said. "Working hard on it means innovating energy technology. And I want to emphasize, the goal of energy is very simple, keep the costs down. As we have seen, that will make the policy making easier."

Repeating the Obama administration's "all of the above" energy strategy, Moniz said the United States isn't shunning coal or oil energy sources. Instead, officials are finding ways to reduce their carbon emissions. Moniz added that funding and improving the nation's 17 nuclear research laboratories must also become a higher priority.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Missouri Utility Still Interested in Nuclear Power

Monday, August 18, 2014
ST. LOUIS -- Past the razor wire and security checkpoints that guard Missouri's first and only nuclear power plant, there's an empty gravel lot where a second reactor was to have been built.

Union Electric -- the utility now known as Ameren Missouri -- envisioned an $839 million, two-reactor facility when it began work in Callaway County in the 1970s. Rising costs and more conservative electricity demands prompted the utility to scale back the project. When it finally went online in 1984, the single reactor ended up costing $2.85 billion.

Even after that experience, which led to the largest electric rate increase in state history, Ameren never quite gave up on a second reactor, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. It spent recent years trying to pave the way for another reactor via a financing rule from the state legislature and, more recently, a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

UK prompt power prices surge as supply tightens on nuclear shutdowns

London (Platts)--13Aug2014/850 am EDT/1250 GMT

UK prompt power prices rose on Wednesday, posting strong gains for the second consecutive day, as forecasts of waning wind generation and shutdown of nuclear reactors tightened supply, one market source said.

The baseload day-ahead power price rose to GBP39.60/MWh on Wednesday, rising more than GBP2 in value above the previous close of GBP37.10/MWh, while the peakload price for Thursday delivery also jumped to GBP44.10/MWh, adding GBP3.60 on the day.

Prompt prices continued to rise as "supply is tightening," despite stable demand, one trader said, as the shutdown of four nuclear reactors in the UK curtailed supply.

According to National Grid data, surplus margins are set to tighten on Thursday to 10.4 GW, down nearly 1 GW from Wednesday's supply margin expectations of 11.3 GW.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Shore up our electric grid

The federal government needs a comprehensive strategy to keep the lights on, argues the CEO of the Allegheny Conference

By Dennis Yablonsky for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For 70 years, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development has worked to provide sustainable prosperity and a high quality of life in the Pittsburgh region. The people of our region pioneered and produced many of the technologies that make such prosperity possible, chief among them, a reliable electric grid.

Today, the electricity service that we take for granted is under stress. Market dynamics, inadequate transmission infrastructure, too few new power plants to ensure sufficient supply and new federal regulations are combining to call into question something all of us take for granted — that when we throw the switch, the lights will go on.

The federal government has no overall plan to ensure the stability of the grid. Instead, it has taken a series of piecemeal and ad hoc actions without a full understanding of how they interact and impact the electricity grid.

The United States needs a national grid policy and a comprehensive action plan to ensure an adequate, affordable and reliable electricity supply.


Young professionals in nuclear power industry to meet for conference in Augusta

AUGUSTA, Georgia — About 100 young professionals in the nuclear energy industry are expected to meet in east Georgia this week for an annual meeting on advancing nuclear power.

The Augusta Chronicle Reports ( ) members of the Southeast chapter of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear group are expected to meet for a conference in Augusta. According to the organization's website, the conference runs from Tuesday to Friday.

Conference organizer and analyst Sandra Stewart says Augusta is a prime location for the conference since four nuclear reactors are under construction in Georgia and South Carolina. Stewart says the organization's Southeast region has the most of eight chapters in North America.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dismantling California nuke plant will cost $4.4B

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Dismantling the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California will take two decades and cost $4.4 billion, but spent radioactive fuel will be held at the site indefinitely, according to a game plan from Southern California Edison.

The price tag could make it the most expensive decommissioning in the 70-year history of the nuclear power industry, U-T San Diego reported ( ).

The plant was shut down in 2012 after a small radiation leak led to the discovery of extensive damage to steam-generator tubes that carried radioactive water. Edison, which operated the plant, closed it for good last year.

NUCLEAR RESEARCH: St. George ponders investment

The Spectrum (David DeMille) - Officials in St. George are considering taking part in a research program that includes plans to build a demonstration power plant using a small nuclear reactor.

St. George is part of a conglomeration of Utah utilities called Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), and last week members of the city council gave verbal approval to joining the entity’s research program based on the potential of a proposed nuclear facility in Idaho that could help the city and other utilities move away from a reliance on coal plants.

Federally-funded researchers with Corvallis, Oregon-based NuScale Power are working toward construction of a new wave type of nuclear plant that would use a series of small, factory-built modular reactors to produce power without some of the safety concerns inherent in larger nuclear facilities.