“This year is expected to be a bad one for the nuclear energy industry in the U.S., with several reactors, including a handful in Illinois and New York, at risk of shutting down. Yet the dwindling number still produce roughly 70 percent of the electricity in the country that does not exacerbate global warming.” SciAm February 17, 2015
Archive for the ‘In The News’
Catch the latest installment, hosted by The Hiroshima Syndrome.
With the first Global Power Shift event wrapping up this week in Istanbul, Robert Margolis urges climate movement activists to consider nuclear energy as a critical component of any post-carbon vision for the future, and to engage with nuclear professionals to begin the dialogue that will lead to a successful and thriving future. http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2013/06/24/open-letter-to-those-attending-global-power-shift-and-to-the-climate-movement-at-large/
Visit Yes Vermont Yankee, for the latest installment of the 59th Carnival of Nuclear Blogs.
Nationally, power companies have seen plans for construction of new nuclear power facilities stalled, in response to a slow economy and lack of an appropriate stimulus. Two years ago, it seemed a done deal, that nuclear was on the comeback, yet today the lack of a national plan to respond to climate change, which includes a carbon tax, and lower demand puts new construction on hold, much as we are seeing in other sectors, according to one Nuclear Energy Institute spokesperson.
WASHINGTON — Just a few years ago, the economic prognosis for new nuclear reactors looked bright. The prospect of growing electricity demand, probable caps on carbon-dioxide emissions and government loan guarantees prompted companies to tell the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they wanted to build 28 new reactors. [Read More]
Please take a look at the recent article from Wired.com, on thorium reactors!
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A new nuclear reactor facility has been proposed for Piketon, Ohio. The power reactor, presumed to be Areva’s 1600 MWe EPR, would be built on the very large site of the former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, and would be owned and operated by Duke.
The proposed site is the location of the Portsmouth gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plant, which operated from 1954 to 2001. The plant and its facilities were then kept in ‘cold standby’ until 2005, when they entered ‘cold shutdown’, and decontamination and decommissioning began. In 2004, US enrichment company USEC selected the Portsmouth site as the home of its American Centrifuge enrichment plant, currently under construction and due to begin commercial operations in 2010.
Ohio Governor Ted Strickland said: “The project will revitalize the region’s economy, further advance Ohio’s nuclear infrastructure, help address our energy needs and be part of Ohio’s solution to the challenge of climate change.”
Babcock & Wilcox announced its intention to put smaller, rail-delivered 125 MW reactor modules, into production by 2018. These units are one-tenth the size of a typical nuclear plant, and this makes them suitable for rural and third-world applications. These reactors are rated for 60 years, with refueling every 5 years.
There is a lot of talk about the hypothetical “worst case” dangers of nuclear reactors, yet in reality, the proven record of nuclear power shows a much more environment-friendly footprint than burning coal or using fossil fuels. Aaron H., on the Skeptically Speaking website forum, points out a comparison of wind and solar capabilities to that of nuclear power:
Maple Ridge in New York is one of Americas largest windfarms. It has 195 wind turbines, covers an area of more than 12,000 acres while generating a mere 300 megawatts at peak efficiency and on a calm day, it generates nothing.
For one of the “sunbelt” (e.g. Nevada and Arizona) states in the US, a 1000 megawatt solar facility will cover more than 14 square miles. For an “average” US state, this figure jumps to over 18 square miles.
By comparison, the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station on the shores of Lake Huron, which is the largest operating nuclear facility in the world, occupies roughly 2 or 3 square miles (rough estimate) and has a maximum capacity of more than 6,200 megawatts. To match the capacity of the Bruce Station with solar power, you would need to clear 108 square miles of land and devote it all to solar panels. And this doesn’t even include space for batteries or capacitors you’d need for nighttime or cloudy day use. To replace all of Canada’s nuclear reactors with solar you would need almost 300 square miles of solar panels.
[From IEEE Spectrum, Energy Wise.]
Two of the largest Japanese utilities, Kyushu Electric Power and Shikoku Electric Power, are preparing to fuel nuclear reactors with rods containing recycled plutonium starting this fall, John Boyd reports from Tokyo. In the middle of last month, two ships arrived from France with loads of mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) containing plutonium that originated in Japanese spent fuels, which Japan is contractually obligated to take back. The MOX consignment from France’s La Hague reprocessing complex weighed an estimated 1700 kilograms.
The recycling of nuclear fuels has been intensely controversial for decades, mainly because of concerns that fuel containing plutonium could fall into the hands of terrorists. Well before Al Qaeda appeared on the scene and fanatics were killing themselves in bomb attacks, experts worried about the ease with which the plutonium in MOX could be separated from uranium, to provide the explosive material for an atomic bomb. [Would you like to know more?]