Nuclear

Indian Point closure should not impact reliability: NYISO

14 Dec 2017   Nuclear, USA

New York state’s power grid will operate reliably after the Indian Point nuclear plant closes early in the next decade as long as natural gas-fired and dual-fuel resources come online as planned, the New York Independent System Operator said Wednesday. NYISO’s analysis found “there will not be a system reliability need” following deactivation of Indian Point-2 and -3 in 2020 and 2021, Respectively, “assuming that sufficient replacement sources of power are added within the Lower Hudson Valley,” according to a statement. Indian Point owner Entergy submitted official notice to NYISO in November that it intends to deactivate the 1,299-MW nameplate capacity unit 2 on April 30, 2020, and the 1,012-MW nameplate capacity unit 3 on April 30, 2021. Indian Point unit 1 was shut in 1974. Governor Andrew Cuomo along with environmental groups have pressed to close Indian Point on safety grounds for years because they found the risk […]

Thermonuclear Fusion: How Scientists Hope to Extract Energy of Stars on Earth

14 Dec 2017   Nuclear

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project has reached an important milestone, passing the 50% completion mark this month. Nuclear physicist Anatoly Krasilnikov, director of Russia’s ITER Project Center, told the RIA Novosti news agency about Russia’s key role in the project. ITER project general director Bernard Bigot announced last week that the ambitious $23.7 billion nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject in Saint-Paul-les-Durance, southern France is now over 50% finished. The project, whose participants include Russia, the EU, the US, China, India, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland, envisions completing the assembly of its doughnut-shaped tokamak reactor by 2021, and starting the process of superheating hydrogen atoms to 150 million degrees Celsius – ten times the temperature of the Sun’s core, by 2025. Physicists to Create Solar Panel Based on Graphene and Quantum Dots The idea of a reactor capable of controlled thermonuclear fusion for the creation of electrical […]

Japanese court rules against Shikoku Electric nuclear restart

13 Dec 2017   Japan, Nuclear

A Japanese court on Wednesday ordered Shikoku Electric Power Co not to restart one of its reactors, overturning a lower court decision and throwing into turmoil Japan’s protracted return to nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster.  The decision by the High Court in Hiroshima in western Japan has no immediate effect on Shikoku Electric’s operations because the reactor in question has been idled for maintenance, but it casts into doubt any restart. Shikoku Electric shares fell more than 8 percent after the ruling and the company canceled plans for a bond sale. The ruling also marks a victory for Japan’s anti-nuclear movement, which has won a number of lawsuits seeking to halt or prevent nuclear operations in recent years, […]

New U.S. energy agency head gets time to decide on coal, nuclear rule

9 Dec 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

The new chairman of the U.S. office that regulates energy projects was granted more time on Friday to decide on Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s directive to subsidize aging nuclear and coal-fired power plants. Perry had directed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in September to decide on a rule by Dec. 11 that would allow power plants that maintain at least 90 days of fuel supply on site to recover their full costs through regulated power pricing. The secretary says coal and nuclear plants should be rewarded for keeping the power grid robust by diversifying sources of power. Low natural gas prices have pushed many coal and nuclear plants into retirement. Kevin McIntyre, a Republican lawyer who represented energy companies at law firm Jones Day, was sworn in to head FERC, an independent office of the Energy Department, on Thursday. McIntyre wrote to Perry later that day, proposing […]

ITER nuclear fusion project faces delay over Trump budget cuts

7 Dec 2017   Nuclear

TER, an international project to build a prototype nuclear fusion reactor in southern France, said it is facing delays if the Trump administration does not reconsider budget cuts. ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot, in Washington for talks with the U.S. administration, said the U.S. contribution had been cut from a planned $105 million to $50 million this year and its 2018 budget cut from a planned $120 million to $63 million. The United States has already spent about $1 billion on the prototype reactor and was scheduled to contribute up to another $1.5 billion through 2025, when the experimental fusion reactor is scheduled to run a first operational test. “If we do not respect deadlines (for the first operational test) in the beginning, we cannot respect them in the end,” Bigot told Reuters in a telephone interview.

France to reduce share of nuclear in power mix ‘asap’: minister

6 Dec 2017   France, Nuclear

France will reduce the share of nuclear energy in its electricity mix “as soon as possible”, French junior environment minister Brune Poirson said on Tuesday, although she did not give a target date. Last month, the French government dropped a legal target set by the previous government to reduce the share of nuclear to 50 percent by 2025, from 75 percent today. Sponsored “We want to reach this objective. Our method will be to be as realistic as possible,” Poirson told reporters at the annual conference of the UFE power lobby. She said she could not give a new date as the government was drawing up a new multi-year or “pluriannual” energy plan (PPE) that will set a new trajectory for the […]

Looking Ahead to 2018 for Nuclear Energy

1 Dec 2017   Nuclear

Each year this blog looks ahead to issues it will follow in the coming 12 months. What this look into the future does is to provide some check marks on the page of news about nuclear energy to return to from time-to-time to see what’s going on. Readers also know that this blog presents a “realist” perspective and, while pro-nuclear in perspective, it also faces facts as they are and not as some may want them to be. This list of issues is not exclusive nor does it represent a set of predictions. Here without further fudging is the 2018 list. China is outpacing all other countries except Russia in the development of advanced nuclear reactor technologies. The U.S. has lost its place as global leader in this field. China is placing multiple bets on advanced reactors including HTGR, Molten Salt, and other types of fast reactors. It has […]

Is This The End Of Nuclear Power In The UK?

The UK’s ambitious program to build more nuclear generating stations will begin with the massive Hinkley Point units. Yet, in a recent paper, Prof. Steve Thomas, a well-known energy economist in the UK, asked a question that had been on our minds, namely is it “Time to cancel Hinckley?” The timing of the paper and ensuing editorials coincided with record low prices for off-shore wind, £57.50 per MWh to be exact. The Guardian newspaper editorialized that this figure should “blow away the UK’s nuclear plans.” First, let’s put the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in context. The UK government first announced its nuclear power expansion program in 2006. The plan was to build five new nuclear generating stations, producing 16 GWs, to be on-line by 2030. The units planned are at Sizewell, Wylfa, Moorside, Oldbury and Hinkley. At the time the government cited two concerns with respect to […]

Exclusive: Westinghouse discussing group bid for Saudi nuclear tender

22 Nov 2017   Nuclear, Saudi Arabia

Toshiba-owned Westinghouse ( 6502.T ) is in talks with other U.S-based companies to form a consortium to bid in a multi-billion-dollar tender for two nuclear power reactors in Saudi Arabia, three industry sources said. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil producer, sent a request for information (RFI) to reactor builders worldwide last month in a first step towards opening a formal tender, Reuters has reported. A nuclear newcomer, it wants to use atomic power to generate electricity at home so it can export more crude. Taking part in the tender would be a major step for reactor builder Westinghouse after it went into chapter 11 bankruptcy this year. U.S. utilities also abandoned two half-finished Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at V.C. Summer in the United States. Toshiba, which is looking for a buyer […]

Russia finds 1,000-times normal level of radioactive isotope after nuclear incident claims

22 Nov 2017   Nuclear, Russia

Russia’s meteorological service said on Tuesday it had measured pollution of a radioactive isotope at nearly 1,000 times normal levels in the Ural mountains, the first official Russian data supporting reports that a nuclear incident had taken place. The data appears to back up a report by the French nuclear safety institute IRSN, which said on Nov. 9 a cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe had indicated some kind of leak had taken place at a nuclear facility either in Russia or Kazakhstan in the last week of September. Neither Russia nor Kazakhstan has acknowledged any accident. Sponsored Russian state weather service Roshydromet said in a statement it had found “extremely high pollution” of ruthenium 106 in samples from two meteorological stations in the southern Urals region in late September and early October. At the Agrayash weather station the levels were 986 times those of the […]

A fusion future

22 Nov 2017   Nuclear

Laban Coblentz, Head of Communication, ITER gives an absorbing insight into all things fusion and the future of fusion energy From its earliest history, the human animal, among all species, has been the most ambitious to dominate its environment: to conquer the earth, the seas, the skies, and – more than half a century ago – making its first forays into space. If Elon Musk and other visionaries have their way, humans will soon become an interplanetary species. Harnessing nuclear fusion is an equally ambitious goal , but in reverse: bringing a star to Earth. Fusion accounts for more than 99% of the energy of the universe. The fusion reaction powering our Sun at its core – 600 tons of hydrogen converted every second – is our engine of sustained light and heat: the source of all life on our planet. But the Sun accomplishes this feat using gravitation […]

Europe’s Toxic Radiation Cloud Remains A Mystery

22 Nov 2017   Nuclear, Russia

One month after a mysterious radiation cloud was observed over Europe, whose source remained unknown last week speculation emerged that it may have been the result of a “nuclear accident” in Russia or Kazakhstan, on Tuesday Russian authorities on Tuesday confirmed the previous reports of a spike in radioactivity in the air over the Ural Mountains. In a statement, the Russian Meteorological Service said that it recorded the release of Ruthenium-106 in the southern Urals in late September and classified it as “extremely high contamination.” Earlier this month, France’s nuclear safety agency earlier this month said that it recorded a spike in radioactivity, and said that “the most plausible zone of release” of this radioactive material “lies between the Volga and the Urals” from a suspected accident involving nuclear fuel or the production of radioactive material. The agency noted, however, that it is impossible to determine the exact point […]

Six Years After Fukushima, Robots Finally Find Reactors’ Melted Uranium Fuel

20 Nov 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Daisuke Hirose, a Tepco spokesman, inside the Unit 5 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Tepco used underwater robots that finally found the melted uranium fuel inside Unit 3, another reactor that was destroyed.  Four engineers hunched before a bank of monitors, one holding what looked like a game controller. They had spent a month training for what they were about to do: pilot a small robot into the contaminated heart of the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant. Earlier robots had failed , getting caught on debris or suffering circuit malfunctions from excess radiation. But the newer version, called the Mini-Manbo, or “little sunfish,” was made of radiation-hardened materials with a sensor to help it avoid dangerous hot spots in the plant’s flooded reactor buildings. The size of a shoe box , the Manbo used tiny propellers to hover and glide through […]

U.S. grid regulator: interim plan could aid nuke, coal plants for years

16 Nov 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

The top U.S. electricity regulator wants to prop up ailing coal and nuclear plants for as long as it takes to determine whether they provide vital services to the grid – a process that could take two years or longer, he said in an interview late on Wednesday. g Neil Chatterjee, the acting head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said his interim plan to keep the plants open would likely require regional grid operators to evaluate which power plants should be helped, so they could recoup costs through regulated pricing. “When the power goes out for a substantial amount of time it can be truly, truly debilitating, with not just economic consequences but cultural and society and safety consequences,” said Chatterjee, a Republican […]

A Radioactive Cloud Wafts Over Europe, With Russia as Chief Suspect

16 Nov 2017   Nuclear

 Scientists across Europe have been puzzling about a phenomenon that seemed laden with mystery and menace in somewhat uneven proportions — a concentration of radioactive pollution caused by a nuclide called ruthenium 106. Official monitors in France and Germany concluded that, based on weather patterns, the contamination detected since late September had emanated from southern Russia or from Kazakhstan. “The most plausible zone of release lies between the Volga and the Urals,” the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety said on Nov. 9. Jean-Marc Peres, the institute’s director, told Reuters that the geographic area could indicate a spillage in Russia or in Kazakhstan. On Oct. 8, the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection […]

Saudi Arabia takes first step towards nuclear plant tender: sources

Saudi Arabia has sent a request for information (RFI) to international suppliers to build two nuclear power plants, a first step towards a formal tender, three sources said. The kingdom is considering building 17.6 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of about 17 reactors, making it one of the biggest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. The world’s biggest exporter of oil wants to reduce the amount of crude it burns at home to generate electricity so it can sell more of it overseas. “Saudi Arabia has just sent the request for information to various companies and it is being examined,” one industry source told Reuters, adding that firms had about two months to respond. A second industry source confirmed that Saudi authorities had sent an RFI, which is a request to nuclear vendors […]

Will This Trump Move Trigger A Coal And Nuclear Buying Spree?

26 Oct 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

That’s a slate of new regulations around power pricing across the U.S. which have been proposed by the Trump-era Department of Energy (DOE), in order to give coal and nuclear power generation a boost — opened for public comment this week. Here’s the crux: the new DOE rules aim to ensure “reliability and resiliency” of power generation in America. By rewarding electricity producers who are able to generate continuous and steady power supply. There are a couple of key pieces to the exact wording here. One being that electricity grid operators will be required to provide “full cost recovery” to some power-producing facilities. Specifically, those power plants that “maintain 90-day on-site fuel supplies”. That basically means nuclear and coal-fired plants. With these solid-fuel driven facilities being the only ones that keep large fuel inventories on-site — unlike alternative generation methods like natural gas, hydro and renewables. The cost recovery […]

UK On Track To Approve Construction of “Mini” Nuclear Reactors

The Telegraph . London’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is due to issue a study on the matter soon, and industry sources said the Rolls Royce consortium’s plan should succeed over its competitor to win the government’s approval. A spokesman for the BEIS told The Telegraph: “We are currently considering next steps for the SMR programme and we will communicate these in due course.” Small nuclear reactors (SMRs) are far cheaper to build than their full-sized counterparts. Funding for their development could be covered under the British government’s 250 million-pound pool to encourage “innovate nuclear technologies” that allow the nation to meet its anti-climate change targets. “Rolls has been involved with this technology in the past and realised it is not designed with the energy utility in mind because it simply isn’t commercially investible,” a source from Whitehall said. “It also looks as if the Government […]

U.S. regulator hints at changes to plan boosting coal, nuclear plants

18 Oct 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

The head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said on Tuesday that a directive from the U.S. energy secretary to prop up struggling nuclear and coal power plants has initiated an important conversation, but hinted the agency may not pass the plan without changes. Late last month, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry directed FERC, an independent agency, to pass a rule within 60 days that would allow certain coal and nuclear plants that store 90 days of fuel on site to recover full costs through regulated pricing, saying the plan increases reliability of the nation’s power grid. “There’s real value in Secretary Perry initiating a conversation” on whether FERC adequately compensates certain power generators for their contributions to reliability, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee told an energy conference in Washington on Tuesday. Last week, Chatterjee told reporters that he did not want to do anything to disrupt […]

US uranium producers plagued by low prices, scant utility purchasing

18 Oct 2017   Nuclear

Market sources say US companies appear to be on course to produce about 1.6 million pounds of uranium this year, the lowest amount since 1951. Jim Ostroff explains that it isn’t just production that has fallen off; prices have also plummeted. Uranium is facing stiff competition from natural gas and renewable mandates, so utilities are buying it differently in the market—but will that last? Video Transcript US uranium producers plagued by low prices, scant utility purchasing By Jim Ostroff, senior […]

U.S. energy head: Nuclear power rescue helps national security

13 Oct 2017   Nuclear, USA

The U.S. energy secretary defended his plan to reward nuclear plants with incentives against criticism it would manipulate markets by telling a congressional hearing on Thursday that a strong domestic nuclear industry boosted national security.  Rick Perry pushed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 29 to issue a rule within 60 days that would reward aging nuclear and coal-fired power plants that store 90 days of fuel on site. He has said those plants should be supported for their ability to boost the reliability of the U.S. power grid. Sponsored Many U.S. representatives at the hearing, including Democrat Frank Pallone, said the plan favored aging industries, killed free markets and would saddle consumers with higher power bills. […]

Rising Costs Slow The Growth Of Nuclear Power

9 Oct 2017   Nuclear

The troubled history of Britain’s replacement nuclear power station Hinckley Point C (HPC) will have received scant, if any, coverage in the U.S. But the story is an illustration of the blind alley in which nuclear power finds itself. The debate is one that is being (or will be) enacted in many other countries that rely on nuclear power as part of their energy mix. Eight years behind schedule, HPC should have come on stream by the end of this year, but is not now likely before 2025 at the earliest (and probably later even than that distant date). In the meantime, repeated delays have added to the costs. A Rising Price Tag Now estimated at £19.6 billion ($26 billion), it would be one of the most expensive structures ever built in the U.K. Last year, the British government pushed the financial risk onto French power generator and owner-to-be […]

Japan regulator grants safety approval to Tepco’s first reactor restart since Fukushima

4 Oct 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) on Wednesday received an initial safety approval from Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to restart two reactors at the world’s biggest nuclear power plant. The approval marks the first safety approval Tepco has received in the first steps towards the possible restart of reactors since the 2011 meltdown of three reactors at Tepco’s Fukushima plant following an earthquake and tsunami that led to the eventual closure of Japan’s nuclear power plants. Tepco has said it needs to resume operations at the closed plants to pay for Fukushima’s restoration and other liabilities from the disaster. The NRA ruled that the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors, each with a capacity of 1,356 megawatts, at […]

US delivers electric shock with coal and nuclear subsidy plan

2 Oct 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

A legal battle over the future of the US electricity system is looming after the Trump administration shocked the industry with proposals for new subsidies for coal-fired and nuclear power plants. If implemented, the plan could mean the most radical shake-up of the market in decades. Rick Perry, the energy secretary, on Friday sent a proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission calling for payments for power plants that provide “essential energy and ancillary reliability services” — and defined these in a way that means only coal and nuclear generators are likely to qualify.  Travis Kavulla, the Republican vice-chairman of the utility regulator for Montana, said Mr Perry was proposing to move US power markets from competition to a “command and control” system.  “This way, they will be predetermining through industrial policy who stays in the market and who goes out,” he said.  The plan has been drawn up under a rarely-used legal provision that allows the energy department to propose rules to FERC, an independent government agency. Mr Perry has given FERC 60 days to come up with plans for payments at a “just and reasonable rate” for power plants that meet certain criteria, including having a 90-day fuel supply on site. That requirement would be achievable for coal plants, but not generally possible for gas-fired plants. The policy is diametrically opposed to the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, regulations for cutting carbon dioxide emissions that would have accelerated the closures of coal-fired plants. The rules were finalised but never implemented after the Supreme Court issued an order that put them on hold in 2016.

Twin Nuclear Plants In Georgia Get $3.7 Billion Lifeline

30 Sep 2017   Nuclear, USA

Nuclear power plants received a much needed boost from the Trump administration this week when the White House approved $3.7 billion in loan guarantees for two struggling power plants in Georgia. The pair is currently under construction, and has already received $8.3 billion in similar loans from the Obama administration. The loans would be funneled through three companies to the two projects. Of the promised debt, $1.67 billion would go to the Georgia Power Company, $1.6 billion would go to the Oglethorpe Power Corporation and $415 million would go to the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia. To date, the U.S. government has offered $12 billion for this pair of projects. Nuclear power projects in the U.S. have had to battle the rise of natural gas – a fossil fuel considered to be healthier for the environment than coal and oil, while being cheaper than nuclear energy. The Energy Information […]

Kemp: Perry Puts Thumb on the Scale to Save US Coal and Nuclear

30 Sep 2017   Coal, Nuclear

 The U.S. Department of Energy has thrown a lifeline to the struggling U.S. coal and nuclear industries by proposing a new rule that would explicitly compensate them for contributing to electric grid reliability and resiliency. Invoking his powers under the Department of Energy Organization Act, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has directed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to consider a new grid resiliency rule. The proposed rule would require independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organisation (RTOs) regulated by FERC to implement new electricity market rules compensating eligible power producers for their contributions to reliability and resiliency. “Specifically, the (proposed) rule allows for the recovery of costs of fuel-secure generation units that make our grid reliable and resilient,” Perry wrote in a letter to FERC dated Sept. 28. “Such resources […]

Japan court rules Tepco liable over Fukushima: media

22 Sep 2017   Japan, Nuclear

A court in Japan on Friday ordered Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to pay compensation to a group of former Fukushima residents, the second such ruling following the 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster, Japanese media reported. However, the ruling by the Chiba district court, east of Tokyo, did not find the government liable for compensation, in contrast to a March ruling in another court that ordered both the government and Tepco to pay compensation to a separate group of evacuees. Tepco is facing mounting legal claims over the disaster, with about 12,000 former Fukushima residents filing about 30 similar class action lawsuits seeking compensation, media reports said. In the Chiba case, a group […]

South Korea To Begin Phasing Out Nuclear Plants

16 Sep 2017   Nuclear, South Korea

South Korea is eyeing independence from nuclear energy, to be implemented gradually over the next six decades, as it seeks to switch to safer clean energy sources. The country’s Trade, Industry, and Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu said at a conference in Seoul today that “There is a need to move away from the energy scheme of the past, which focused on promoting nuclear power plants.” So far, as part of this shift away from nuclear power and into renewables, the government shut down a nuclear power plant built in the 1970s and temporarily suspended the construction of two new ones. There are 24 nuclear reactors in operation across the country and another four under construction. The phase-out of nuclear power generation capacity was a pledge that South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in made before the elections. Last month, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy outlined the main policy points […]

Florida Power & Light shuts three Florida nuclear units amid Irma

12 Sep 2017   Nuclear

Both generating units at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami were shut over the weekend as Hurricane Irma moved along Florida’s coast, while one reactor at its two-unit St. Lucie plant, also located on the Florida coast, shut Monday after the storm had passed. Crews are working to restart all three units, a process that can take about a day, FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy said during a press briefing Monday. One unit, the 885-MW Turkey Point-3, was shut preventively on Saturday, at which point the utility decided not to shut the Turkey Point-4 unit, also 885 MW, when new forecasts suggested there would not be hurricane-force winds at the site in Homestead, Florida. It is a regulatory requirement that the units be shut at least two hours before such winds. However, in a report to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Sunday, […]

Is This The Newest Nuclear Player In The Middle East?

8 Sep 2017   Nuclear, Oman

But some global buyers see an opportunity in the current market crisis. With one of the world’s largest investors this week making a leap into the sector. That’s the sovereign wealth fund of Oman. Which agreed to invest up to $120 million to fund a uranium development project in Spain — and potentially take a significant chunk of the uranium supply from the operation. The Oman fund said it will make the investment as a combination of debt and equity in project developer Berkeley Energy. Which is advancing the Salamanca project, currently under construction and expected to begin output in 2019. The move is a big one for the Oman government. Representing the first entry by this major investment group into the uranium sector. And the timing isn’t a coincidence. With Oman’s first nuclear plant slated to come online next year — supplying baseload power to the nation. That […]

Tepco shares rise after reports of possible nuclear restart approval

7 Sep 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Shares in Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, rose more than 3 percent on Thursday after media reports that it may get approval as early as next week to restart one of its other atomic plants. Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station, the world’s biggest nuclear power plant, may get initial safety approval from Japan’s nuclear regulator next week to restart two reactors, the Yomiuri newspaper and other media reported. Approval would allow a company that has been widely criticized for a lax approach to safety and a slow response to the meltdowns at Fukushima to operate a nuclear power station after regulators earlier questioned if it was up to the task. A go-ahead would also be the first for reactors of the same basic design as those that melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi station in March 2011, after a massive earthquake […]

France plans to end oil and gas production by 2040

7 Sep 2017   France, Nuclear

France plans to pass legislation by the end of 2017 to phase out all oil and gas exploration and production on its mainland and overseas territories by 2040, becoming the first country to do so, according to a draft bill presented on Wednesday. President Emmanuel Macron wants to make France carbon neutral by 2050 and plans to curb green house gas emissions by leaving fossil fuels, blamed for contributing to global warming, in the ground. Under the draft bill presented to cabinet on Wednesday, France will no longer issue exploration permits and the extension of current concessions will be gradually limited until they are phased out by 2040 – the same year when France plans to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles. The decision is, however, largely symbolic because France only produces about 6 million barrels of hydrocarbons a year, representing about 1 percent […]

The Latest: Florida nuclear plants prepare to power down

7 Sep 2017   Nuclear, USA

The Latest news related to Hurricane Irma in Florida (all times local): 4:10 p.m. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it is preparing to shut down two Florida nuclear plants that could be in the path of Hurricane Irma. Additional inspectors are on-site at the Turkey Point plant south of Miami, and the St. Lucie plant along the state’s eastern coast. NRC spokesman Roger Hannah says both nuclear plants are preparing for the storm, checking to ensure any outside equipment is tied down or moved and emergency generators are working and secure. Hannah said both plants were operating as usual Wednesday, with plans to shut down if necessary ahead of the hurricane’s expected landfall in Florida late Saturday or early Sunday. Current projections place Turkey Point, above the Florida Keys near Homestead, Florida, directly in the hurricane’s path. — 4 p.m. If Hurricane Irma […]

Subsidizing new nuclear power such as Vogtle reactors in nation’s interest

4 Sep 2017   Nuclear, USA

Adding two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle is going to need some help from Congress and the federal government to work, according to Georgia Power’s request to continue. And it is in the national interest to subsidize new nuclear power the way the government is helping wind and solar power technologies, a nuclear engineer said. Georgia Power and its partners made the request to the Georgia Public Service Commission last week to finish Reactors 3 and 4 at Vogtle, which would be the first new nuclear reactors to come on line in the U.S. in more than 30 years. Georgia Power said its capital cost to complete would be an additional $4.5 billion, raising it to $8.771 billion, with a total capital cost for all partners of $19 billion. However, in a table buried deep in its filing, the company reports financing costs of just under $4 billion, […]

Does Nuclear Technology Advance Fast Enough?

4 Sep 2017   Nuclear

Constructing a nuclear power plant is investment and time intensive. Total costs are sky high and timetables between project proposal and actual construction and operation are unpredictable. Two cases in point—UK’s Hinkley Point C project is currently being delayed eight years after the initial target and faces huge cost overruns, and the bankruptcy of a contractor that led to the scrapping of a South Carolina nuclear project. According to a nuclear fuel expert who has worked on developing nuclear gas turbines, some 80 percent of the construction costs for nuclear power projects where nuclear fission is used to heat steam plants is spent on the technology and facilities outside of the so-called nuclear island , the one that contains the nuclear reactor. Nuclear plants produce electricity by boiling water into steam, and this steam then turns turbines to produce electricity. There are technologies that have been studied and developed […]

Georgia Power provides lifeline for $19bn nuclear power plant

4 Sep 2017   Nuclear

A $19bn nuclear power plant in the US state of Georgia has been given a reprieve after its biggest investor recommended the troubled project should be completed. Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the biggest US electricity generators, said on Thursday it wanted to press ahead with construction of Plant Vogtle, despite work running years late and being billions of dollars over budget. The decision provides a lifeline for the only new nuclear plant still being built in the US after work was suspended last month on the unfinished VC Summer power station in South Carolina. Both projects were supposed to herald a renaissance for nuclear power in the US — and for their technology supplier, Westinghouse — but have instead become symbols of the financial and technological problems blighting the industry globally.

Georgia Power said it had concluded that completing the two reactors at Vogtle “represents the most economic choice for customers” after a review which weighed the cost of continuing against those of scrapping the project. Vogtle and VC Summer were intended as showcases for Westinghouse’s new AP1000 reactors but cost overruns tipped the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March and triggered a financial crisis at its Japanese parent Toshiba. Georgia Power said it would need to inject an extra $1.4bn to complete Vogtle on top of the $5.68bn already budgeted by the company for its 45.7 per cent share of the plant. Toshiba in June agreed to contribute $3.68bn to help save the project, the total cost of which is now expected to reach about $19bn. Completion of the first reactor is expected by November 2021 and the second a year later, according to the latest revised timetable. Th

The Slow Death Of Nuclear Power In Europe

31 Aug 2017   Nuclear

Nuclear energy has been moving away from power-rich countries to nations bereft of diverse power generation opportunities, all the more so after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Europe has been particularly susceptible to give heed to the nuclear panic. Germany, for instance, announced its plans to phase-out nuclear power a day after Fukushima, France went along in a matter of several months, Switzerland and Belgium have also since voted to pull the plug on nuclear. Against the background of nuclear safety technologies having reached unparalleled heights and the global community edging closer to reducing carbon emissions, it is perhaps surprising that nuclear ended up being effaced from Europe’s energy future. Are all the hurried phase-outs worth it? With the election of Emmanuel Macron as France’s president and the inauguration of the Édourard Philippe-led government, the assault on nuclear energy took a new turn. Despite the fact that most Frenchmen oppose […]

Researchers Announce Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

29 Aug 2017   Nuclear

For years nuclear fusion was the stuff of sci-fi books and movies, but technology has brought it, like so many other things, closer to reality. So close, in fact, that there are plans to build the first nuclear fusion reactor by 2025 – a reactor that could yield a lot more energy than is fed into it and provide vast amounts of clean, sustainable energy. Nuclear fusion, unlike fission, involves smashing particles together to generate energy. Basically, as Bloomberg Energy author Jing Cao explained in a detailed June overview , it’s like recreating the Sun on Earth . An international team of scientists is working on the biggest project in nuclear fusion in France, to build the largest magnetic fusion machine – a tokamak – and test the commercial-scale viability of this clean energy source. The ITER project is based on the pretty simple premise that the larger the […]

Researchers Announce Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

28 Aug 2017   Nuclear

For years nuclear fusion was the stuff of sci-fi books and movies, but technology has brought it, like so many other things, closer to reality. So close, in fact, that there are plans to build the first nuclear fusion reactor by 2025—a reactor that could yield a lot more energy than is fed into it and provide vast amounts of clean, sustainable energy. Nuclear fusion, unlike fission, involves smashing particles together to generate energy. Basically, as Bloomberg Energy author Jing Cao explained in a detailed June overview , it’s like recreating the Sun on Earth. An international team of scientists is working on the biggest project in nuclear fusion in France, to build the largest magnetic fusion machine—a tokamak—and test the commercial-scale viability of this clean energy source. The ITER project is based on the pretty simple premise that the larger the vessel in which fusion reactions occur, the […]

U.S. Lays Groundwork for Saving Coal Plants With Grid Report

25 Aug 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

Report on electic grid touts value of coal-fired power Calls for ways to compensate reliability of coal, nuclear The Energy Department , in a long-anticipated report on the security of the U.S. electric grid, makes the case for rescuing the nation’s coal industry from widespread plant shutdowns, but stops short of an assault on renewable power that environmentalists had feared . The study, commissioned by Energy Secretary Rick Perry who has warned that policies favoring solar and wind may be forcing plants to shut and threatening the grid, recommends that the Environmental Protection Agency ease rules on coal plants. It also calls for changes to how wholesale electricity is traded and easier permitting for resources such as coal, nuclear and hydropower. The report hands President Donald Trump a plan for fulfilling his campaign promise to revive America’s ailing coal industry and put miners back to work. It paints a […]

Energy Department Faces Pressure Over Power Study

16 Aug 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry at a clean energy conference in Beijing in June. Energy Secretary Rick Perry faces stepped-up pressure from environmental groups over a power grid study that he has signaled could help bolster coal and nuclear power. On Monday, the Sierra Club announced it filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that the Energy Department violated laws on public access to information by not responding to its Freedom of Information Act requests for communications between the agency and outside groups, such as fossil-fuel interests. The suit asks the court to force the department to turn over those records. “We’ve repeatedly asked DOE for information to ensure reality and science are coming before polluter politics, but we have only been met with delays and secrecy,” said Mary Anne Hitt, a Sierra Club director. The Energy Department didn’t immediately respond to a […]

China approves plan to promote unified nuclear reactor brand

14 Aug 2017   China, Nuclear

China has approved a plan from its two state nuclear developers to promote a single integrated nuclear reactor brand that will help speed up construction and strengthen their ability to compete in markets overseas. China is in the middle of an ambitious nuclear program that could bring total capacity to as much as 200 GW by 2030, and it also aims to win more projects abroad. But approvals have been slow with a variety of new advanced reactors subject to repeated delays. The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and the China General Nuclear Project Corporation (CGN) have been jointly developing an advanced model known as the “Hualong One”, but despite government pressure, they have continued to work separately on their own designs. In a plan approved by regulators last week, the two companies agreed to use integrated technical standards when building Hualong reactors. They will also […]

Global Nuclear Power Capacity Could Double By 2050

11 Aug 2017   Nuclear

The world’s installed nuclear power capacity could increase by 123 percent in 2050 compared to 2016 levels, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report this week. These projections, however, are the so-called high in 2050. In the low case, the IAEA estimates are for a decline in capacity in the near future, followed by a rebound to current levels nearer 2050. In the high case, nuclear capacity is expected to rise from 2016 levels by 42 percent in 2030, 83 percent in 2040, and by 123 percent The main factors that are and will be influencing the future of nuclear energy are public acceptance, financing, and electricity markets. “If nuclear power’s potential as a low-carbon energy source grows in recognition and advanced reactor designs further improve both safety and radioactive waste management, the use of nuclear power could grow significantly,” the IAEA says . At the […]

South Carolina Seeks Ways to Salvage Nuclear Project

9 Aug 2017   Nuclear

An energy company’s decision to abandon work on a nuclear project in South Carolina has left the state reeling and the governor seeking one of several solutions to save at least one of the two reactors. Last week, Scana Corp. said it would walk away from its project to build two nuclear reactors in tiny Jenkinsville—after nine years and $10.4 billion spent—stunning local leaders and the 600 nuclear employees and 5,000 construction workers at its V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. The move left Jenkinsville, population 71, with…

South Carolina Nuclear Woes Could Impact Virginia

3 Aug 2017   Nuclear

A multi-billion-dollar mess over partially-built nuclear plants in South Carolina could impact whether Virginia goes forward with a pricy new reactor of its own.  Two South Carolina energy companies recently decided to abandon construction of two unfinished nuclear reactors over delays and their high costs, a move that leaves ratepayers there on the hook for billions of dollars with nothing to show for it.  The failure in South Carolina to make new nuclear work could make it harder for Virginia’s largest electric utility, Dominion Energy, to move forward with a new reactor it has been considering for years and already spent millions on. The proposed plant, known as North Anna 3, has a sky-high price tag — one state regulator last year calculated it to be about $25 billion — and would significantly increase customer’s electric bills. But Dominion has argued it’s an option worth considering, as nuclear energy provides reliable, carbon-free energy.  Sen. Frank Wagner, a leader in energy issues in the state Senate and strong supporter of Dominion, told company officials at a committee hearing Wednesday that South Carolina’s woes concerned him about the viability of North Anna 3.

“My comfort level is not what it used to be,” Wagner said.  Dominion has not committed to construct the new plant. It has spent more than $600 million preparing for a potential build and received a federal operating license earlier this year, but Dominion says it needs more certainty in carbon regulations and its effect on energy prices to make a decision.  “The economics at this time don’t support moving forward,” said Mark Webb, a senior vice president at Dominion.   North Anna 3 has plenty of opponents, with one consumer group calling it one of the biggest potential ratepayer rip-offs in the history of electricity production.

Tab Swells to $25 Billion for Nuclear-Power Plant in Georgia

3 Aug 2017   Nuclear

The cost of building the only nuclear power plant under construction in the U.S. has ballooned to more than $25 billion, but chief owner Southern Co. said it isn’t ready to throw in the towel on the project. The company released the new cost estimate for Georgia’s Vogtle Electric Generating Plant on Wednesday, adding that it expects completion of the plant, which has already seen years of delays and rising costs, to be delayed by…

Nuclear’s Demise Continues: Another Huge Project Cancelled

3 Aug 2017   Nuclear

In terms of chronology, Santee Cooper’s board of directors met on July 31 to review the revised estimates for the completion for the now ill-fated nuclear project. (Santee Cooper owns 45% of the project and SCANA the rest.) According to local press reports, Santee Cooper’s board was informed that it would require an additional $11.4 billion to complete the nuclear project for a total project cost of $25 billion, which would bring the project’s cost estimate up 75% from the original estimate when the project was initiated, and the completion date for in service would be delayed by five years. As a result, the Santee Cooper board voted unanimously to cancel the nuclear project. Finding that its partner in this vast nuclear construction project was backing out, SCANA’s board of directors was faced with one of three decisions: 1) go it alone and complete the project as sole owner, […]

Failing Nuclear Power Is Good For Coal, Bad For Earth

2 Aug 2017   Nuclear

Scana Corp. announced Monday it will stop construction on a nuclear power plant in South Carolina—one of two in development in the U.S. Project costs ballooned in recent years, and the decision should eventually save electricity customers $7 billion. But the stoppage and others like it may cost everyone more in the long run. The move has implications that last hundreds of years—the residence time of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere—as electricity generated from fossil fuels begin to replace aging or expensive nuclear reactors. Nuclear power has long provoked ardent policy fights, historically centered on the perceived safety or danger of splitting atoms to keep consumers’ refrigerators running. Since America’s most famous close-call—the 1979 partial reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island—debates have only grown in complexity. Today, it’s not local or environmental opposition but economics that’s crippling industry growth and undercutting the fiscal viability of existing plants. A […]

Trump May Have Unintentionally Killed U.S. Nuclear

24 Jul 2017   Nuclear, USA

President Trump has a different view of climate change than the previous administration. His decision to disassociate the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords has received the lion’s share of recent publicity in this regard. Now the President’s March 28th Executive Order (EO) could harm the U.S. nuclear power industry (although we doubt that was his intent). The EO directs the EPA, among other things, to review the previous administration’s “Clean Power Plan”. There are two main parts to the CPP with respect to electric power generators: 1) carbon pollution emissions guidelines for both new and existing generation and 2) federal efforts to measure the social costs of carbon (SC-CO2) as well as nitrous oxide and methane. It is the latter that concerns us here. Two states, New York and Illinois, have recently taken steps to subsidize aging nuclear generating stations. Both states used a variant of the SC-CO2 […]

Fukushima’s Nuclear Waste Will Be Dumped Into the Ocean, Japanese Plant Owner Says

17 Jul 2017   Japan, Nuclear, Water

Toxic waste produced by one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters will be dumped into the sea, according to the head of the Japanese company tasked with cleaning up the radioactive mess, despite protests from local fishermen. Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), told foreign media that nearly 777,000 tons of water tainted with tritium, a byproduct of the nuclear process that is notoriously difficult to filter out of water, will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a multibillion-dollar recovery effort following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. That year, an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, killing more than 15,000 people and leading to a series of meltdowns at the TEPCO-owned Fukushima No. 1, or Daiichi, nuclear power plant, causing it to spew radiation that has plagued the region ever since. While much progress has been made to clean the area, the company […]