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

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?”


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."


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."


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.


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.


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.


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.  


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.


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.


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.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cumbria's Moorside nuclear power plant funding plan agreed


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.