October 05, 2015
A funny thing happened on the way to buy electricity: the
Clean Power Plan, which requires cuts in heat-trapping emissions. Its creation,
in fact, may have kept alive some struggling nuclear energy plants and in doing
so, helped certain states meet their carbon restrictions under the new
Absent a successful legal
challenge, the United States must come to terms with the Environmental
Protection Agency’s carbon regulations finalized in August, which mandate 32
percent cuts in carbon emissions by 2030, from a 2005 baseline. Nuclear energy
is a major benefactor, especially those facilities that are now under
construction as well as any existing plants that upgrade to increase output.
Exelon Corp., which owns nuclear
plants that sell electricity at market rates, is the first to benefit. Simply, the
PJM Interconnection that orders up electric generation and schedules the flow
of electrons across the wires in 13 states agreed to buy its nuclear output for
a few years.
That futures contract has
enlivened its unregulated — or “merchant” — nuclear operations, for now:
Exelon’s plants, actually, had a competitive bid, well below the auction cap.
Until now, the running theme has been that the shale gas boom, which has
created sustained low electricity prices, has made it too difficult for nuclear
plants to compete in this new and unforgiving merchant world.
Already, two merchant units owned
by Dominion Resources and Entergy Corp. have retired. As much as 6 percent of
the total nuclear capacity is at risk of closure. In total, 99 nuclear reactors
generate 19 percent of the nation’s electricity.
compete against the marginal source: natural gas. And we do not see those
prices rising. We need diversification. We need a balanced portfolio,” said
Chris Crane, chief executive of Exelon at the Edison
Electric Institute’s annual meeting in New Orleans, before
He subsequently added in a news
release that his company’s nuclear plants will remain “economically challenged”
but that the Clean Power Plan will give them some breathing room. That rule, he
explains, puts a premium on those facilities that are “always-on” and that are
Byron, UNITED STATES: The Exelon Byron Nuclear Generating Stations running at full capacity 14 May, 2007 in Byron, Illinois, is one of 17 nuclear reactors at 10 sites in three US states, is the nation’s largest operator of commercial nuclear power plants and third largest in the world. In the US, nuclear operators have focused on improving safety and efficiency at existing plants. There have been no notable US accidents since 1979 at Three Mile Island and the US reactor fleet has produced at about 90 percent of licensed capacity since 2001, up from efficiency figures of the early 1980s. Nuclear plants today produce about 20 percent of the electricity used in the US. Dozens of electrical company?s are seeking licenses for as many as 31 new nuclear power reactors in the US. AFP PHOTO/JEFF HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
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September 17, 2015
The objective for this task was to test and evaluate the FX2 Advanced Fogging Technology, developed at Idaho National Lab (INL), for potential implementation at the SRS 235-F facility, though this technology is also relevant to D&D activities at other DOE sites and internationally. INL’s FX2 fogging agent is a proprietary mixture of water, latex paint, glycerin, and sodium lauryl sulfate. It displayed promising results at fixing potential airborne contamination such as dust and lint via cost effective, remote application methods during initial testing at INL during 2014. Florida International University (FIU), in collaboration with INL and SRNL, expanded on these initial results with a larger scale technology demonstration.
September 17, 2015
Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday the federal government should follow New Jersey’s lead and invest in nuclear energy to address climate change. Left unsaid: Christie has received substantial support as governor from the nuclear energy industry.
During CNN’s Republican presidential debate, Christie argued against “massive government intervention” to address climate change, and said that in New Jersey “53 percent of our electricity comes from nuclear.”
“We shouldn't be destroying our economy in order to chase some wild, left-wing idea that somehow us by ourselves is going to fix the climate,” Christie said. “We can contribute to that and be economically sound. We have proven we can do that in New Jersey. Nuclear needs to be back on the table in a significant way in this country if we want to go after this problem.”
Energy companies with nuclear interests have poured money into groups affiliated with Christie since he became governor, and at least one such utility -- New Jersey’s largest electricity provider -- is backing his presidential campaign.
Two of New Jersey’s three nuclear power stations are owned by PSEG Nuclear. The firm’s parent company, Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), has donated $250,000 to America Leads, a super PAC supporting Christie’s presidential bid.
Ralph Izzo, PSEG’s president and CEO, serves on the Christie campaign's New Jersey finance leadership team. Izzo also chairs the board of Choose New Jersey, a nonprofit that has funded Christie’s foreign travel as governor. To qualify for a seat on the group’s board, a company must pledge to donate $150,000 for three years. PSEG is also a donor to the New Jersey governor’s mansion fund.
Under the state’s pay-to-play rules, PSEG and its executives cannot contribute to Christie’s gubernatorial campaign or the New Jersey Republican Party. But those rules don’t apply to federal political committees or nonprofit groups.
While Christie chaired the Republican Governors Association last year, the group accepted large contributions from the nuclear energy industry. Duke Energy was one of the RGA’s top donors on Christie’ watch, donating more than $3 million. The firm has has seven nuclear energy stations and plants around the country. NextEra Energy, which has three nuclear facilities, contributed $2.5 million to the RGA in the 2014 election cycle.
While the United States has not built new nuclear energy reactors since the 1970s, President Barack Obama’s administration has sought to jumpstart the construction of new facilities through loan guarantees as well as environmental regulations that permit states to count new reactors as part of their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during the Republican presidential debate Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. Getty Images/Justin Sullivan
September 17, 2015
A nuclear evolution is now occurring, in Tennessee. While it’s been a long and slow process, the Tennessee Valley Authority is moving closer to starting up one of its nuclear plants that it expects will displace coal and help curb the region’s carbon emissions.
Most of the attention is now given to those merchant nuclear units that are in the process of closing, with little focus on the gradual development of TVA’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Unit 2. Originally licensed in 1972, it shut down in the 1980s because of security and economic concerns. Now, though, the Clean Power Plan has thrust this plant forward.
That final regulation released in August requires a 32 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030, from a 2005 baseline. It gives full recognition to all new nuclear plants or those existing ones that make upgrades, although it does not give current nuclear plants any credit for carbon reductions. With that, Watts Bar 2 is expected to rev up this year — long before 2020, which is when Southern Co and Scana Corp. are to complete two units each.
All are to be baseload plants that run around-the-clock. The two units at Southern and the two at Scana will each generate about 2,200 megawatts. TVA’s Watts Bar 2 will crank out 1,150 megawatts. For the record, nuclear power has the greatest “capacity factors” of all power generation, or 92 percent; wind and solar energy are half that.
“This will really help Tennessee manage its emissions under the rules of the Clean Power Plan,” regardless of how the various legal challenges should turn out, says Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, in a phone interview with this reporter on Tuesday.
Plumes of water vapor emit from the Tennessee Valley Authority Paradise Fossil Plant in Paradise, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. The plant generates and delivers 14 billion kilowatt-hours of coal-fired electricity per year to Western Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
July 16, 2015
While the United States is working to get four new nuclear units up-and-running in Georgia and South Carolina, it is also partnering with China and Canada to operate some highly advanced next-generation nuclear plants.
“Molten salt reactors” that burn “thorium” are not only safer but they also create less radioactive waste than uranium. As for China, its next-generation 100 megawatt smaller plant could be operational within a decade. Similarly, the national labs here are partnering with a Canadian firm to build such a modular reactor — an effort that is expected to produce an engineering design in a few years, and a commercial reactor in 10 years.
“While simple black and white statements about thorium versus uranium are the easiest point to get across, the real story is about a particular type of reactor, called molten salt reactors whose main feature is a liquid fuel form which gives outstanding potential benefits in safety, fuel economy and waste issues,” says David LeBlanc, an expert with Terrestrial Energy in Canada, which is working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee on its project.
“Molten salt reactors are all-liquid fuel, or ‘pre-melted,’ which offers great potential for reactor safety and cost innovation,” adds LeBlanc, in prior email exchanges. “They do not need to keep coolant flowing to the reactor because the fuel itself is the coolant.”
By contrast, solid-fuel reactors burning uranium are now prevalent. Once uranium is used, it becomes highly radioactive. That waste is then cooled in spent fuel pools before it is stored in above-ground, concrete-encased steel caskets. As the world learned from both Ukraine’s Chernobyl and Japan’s Fukushima accidents in 1986 and 2011, respectively, that spent fuel could escape and do irreparable harm.
In this Monday, June 29, 2015 handout photo made available by the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry press service on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, an aerial view of a forest fire is seen in the Chernobyl area, Ukraine. Fire has engulfed a large section of the exclusion zone around the destroyed Chernobyl plant in Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday. It was unclear if the blaze has hit parts of the zone heavily contaminated by radiation from the 1986 reactor explosion and fire. (AP Photo/Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry Press Service handout photo via AP)
Thorium’s proponents point out that molten salt reactors that burn that fuel won’t “meltdown” because, unlike today’s high-pressured units, they are low-pressured and won’t vaporize. It is also far more abundant in nature than uranium.
China has the most aggressive research program into molten salt reactors and thorium. But so do India and Canada. In China’s case, it is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to try and commercialize this technology for two different plants using molten-salts.
Continue Reading at : http://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2015/07/14/are-there-safer-ways-to-produce-nuclear-energy/2/
Source: AP / Forbes, Ken Silverstein Contributor
September 09, 2015
By 2030, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes it’s regulations on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants will cut carbon emissions from the electricity sector 32 percent compared to 2005 levels.
Reaching that goal depends on one big assumption, however: that the aging fleet of 99 nuclear reactors that now supply about one-fifth of America’s electricity continue operating.
As a new analysis recently published by Third Way makes clear, if existing reactors retire en masse, it could be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to meet the EPA’s carbon reduction goals. And there’s simply nothing in the EPA rule to prevent nuclear retirements from ruining America’s climate progress.
Let me explain…
Cutting power sector emissions depends on progress on multiple fronts—without backsliding
To reach the so-called Clean Power Plan’s emissions goals, the EPA expects fossil fueled power plants to get more efficient, relatively clean natural gas to displace a lot of coal-fired power, as well as a big surge in renewable energy generation, which the EPA believes will supply 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030. In other words, it’s going to take a lot of forward progress on multiple fronts to reach the Clean Power Plan’s emissions reduction goals.
Continue reading at http://energy.einnews.com/article/284088667/1AyS6eQw0DFuPz61
August 24, 2015
Imperial College London has received approval from the UK nuclear regulator to decommission its 50-year-old CONSORT research reactor. Decommissioning work is expected to be completed by 2021.
The CONSORT reactor (Image: Imperial College)
The 100 kilowatt CONSORT reactor at Imperial College's Silwood Park Campus in Berkshire began operations in 1965 and was shut down in 2012 due to increasing costs and a lack of research, educational, training and commercial use. The reactor's fuel was successfully removed and transported to Sellafield for storage in July 2014, significantly reducing the safety hazard on site.
Imperial College applied to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in January 2015 to begin a decommissioning project that will involve the removal of all radiological and non-radiological waste and the demolition of the reactor centre to enable the site to be de-licensed.
The ONR yesterday announced that it had granted consent for the decommissioning of the reactor. This consent followed public consultation involving 27 organizations and assessment of Imperial College's environmental statement and supporting evidence.
ONR concluded that a comprehensive assessment of the project's likely environmental impact had been carried out and had demonstrated that "the predicted environmental benefits far outweigh the possible adverse environmental effects".
However, ONR attached conditions to the consent "to ensure mitigation measures are implemented to minimise the environmental impact of the project". This includes requiring Imperial College to prepare an annual environmental management plan updating on the project's progress and reporting on the effectiveness of the mitigation measures. The college must also notify the ONR in advance of any significant change to a mitigation measure.
Imperial College said, "Although CONSORT is a small, low-power research reactor, approximately 10,000 times smaller than a nuclear power station, the decommissioning process will still take over a decade to complete."
The college anticipates all of the reactor's physical structures being removed from the site by late 2019 and final site de-licensing in 2021. The site will then be "suitable for any purpose the college considers best supports its academic mission".
August 06, 2015
Representatives from the world's leading universities discuss the finer points of the International Nuclear Management Academy (INMA) framework with IAEA staff at a technical meeting in Trieste, Italy (Photo:F. Adachi/IAEA)
As of September 2015, the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom will offer a new master’s programme on nuclear technology management that conforms to the requirements endorsed by the IAEA. Officially listed as the Nuclear Technology Management Professional Development Programme, it is the first full-pledged management-focused master’s programme designed to meet the requirements of the IAEA’s International Nuclear Management Academy (INMA) framework.
INMA defines a set of common requirements that a university has to meet in order to maintain the high quality of its nuclear technology management master’s programme. It also fosters university collaboration and sharing, and provides supporting tools. Developed by the IAEA in collaboration with the nuclear engineering and business faculties of several universities, and with nuclear employers around the world, INMA offers a sustainable educational framework that will enable participating universities to implement high quality master's level management programmes for the nuclear sector.
The IAEA presented the INMA framework to universities at a technical meeting held from 28 to 31 July in Trieste, Italy. Representatives from more than 20 leading universities attended the meeting.
“There was general recognition that nuclear managers have to acquire management competencies to ensure the peaceful and safe use of nuclear technology,” said John de Grosbois, Head of the IAEA’s Nuclear Knowledge Management Section. “After all, INMA master’s degree graduates will be managers with responsibility for nuclear safety and working in nuclear power plants, regulatory bodies, vendor organizations, or R&D institutes.”
A university that wants to have its programme recognized as an INMA-endorsed programme has to incorporate into its curriculum the managerial competencies defined by INMA, and receive an INMA Peer Review Assessment.
Some of the universities that attended the technical meeting have committed to launch their own master’s programmes in Nuclear Technology Management under the INMA framework in the next few years, and are in the process of preparing agreements that would outline responsibilities — theirs and the IAEA’s – under INMA, de Grobois said.
The INMA initiative was started with the support of contributions by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The IAEA is counting on the financial support of other Member States as well, to ensure the sustainability of the university INMA programmes by funding student fellowships, de Grobois said.
Source: International Atomic Anergy Agency (IAEA)
July 16, 2015
President Barack Obama, standing with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015, after an Iran deal is reached.
VIENNA (AP) — Iran, the United States and other world powers struck a historic deal Tuesday to curb Iranian nuclear programs and ease fears of a nuclear-armed Iran threatening the volatile Middle East. In exchange, Iran will get billions of dollars in relief from crushing international sanctions.
The accord, reached after long, fractious negotiations, marks a dramatic break from decades of animosity between the United States and Iran, countries that have labeled each other the "leading state sponsor of terrorism" and "the Great Satan."
"This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction," President Barack Obama declared at the White House in remarks that were carried live on Iranian state television. "We should seize it."
In Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said "a new chapter" had begun in his nation's relations with the world. He maintained that Iran had never sought to build a bomb, an assertion the U.S. and its partners have long disputed.
Beyond the hopeful proclamations from the U.S., Iran and other parties to the talks, there is deep skepticism of the deal among U.S. lawmakers and Iranian hardliners. Obama's most pressing task will be holding off efforts by Congress to levy new sanctions on Iran or block his ability to suspend existing ones.
Continue Reading at http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/18-day-negotiation-yields-landmark-iran-nuclear-accord/ar-AAcUja5?ocid=HPCDHP
Source: Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Julie Pace in Washington contributed
June 24, 2015
Russia and Saudi Arabia have announced an agreement that allows for cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for producing electricity in the country that is famous for its oil exports capacity.
In yet another signal that the Middle East is concerned about the longevity of its oil export business and is growing as a nuclear power market, the two countries signed the agreements in Russia at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that allow for construction of nuclear power reactors, which would be a first for Saudi Arabia, and for various supportive endeavors, such as transportation and use of nuclear fuel, handling of radioactive waste, production of radioisotopes and nuclear energy applications in medicine, industry and agriculture.
"It is planned to exchange of experts, scientific and technological information, organization of seminars, symposiums, cooperation in the preparation of scientific and technical personnel. All this became possible for the first time in the history of Russian-Saudi relations," it was announced in a joint statement.
The document was signed by the general director of the state corporation ROSATOM Sergey Kiriyenko and president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) Hashim Abdullah Yamani.
But the big prize for Russia is the potential for as much as $80 billion in nuclear construction build projects in the foreseeable future – and perhaps more. Last week, In 2012, Saudi Arabia made known its intention to develop nuclear power capacity of 17GW by 2032, while building up a solar power capacity by 41GW.
Last week, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia had plans to build “more than one reactor,” at least. “It is possible that we will build 16 reactors,” he said.