Nuclear Newsreel, January 16, 2014

Strike threat looms at Entergy’s Indian Point reactors, already battered by economic & legal challenges. The unions, including control room operators, are threatening a strike at Indian Point and have even set up “practice” picket lines in front of the site. But this story goes beyond the labor strife and looks more deeply at the growing list of challenges faced by Entergy which could well lead to shutdown of the reactors. Let’s keep adding to the pressure, folks….

Even BP admits renewables are the fastest-growing energy source, will pass nuclear generation by 2025. BP dropped the pretense of it being a big player in solar power a few years ago, but even their analysis shows that renewables are the future. The figures are staggering: BP projects the use of renewables in power generation will rise 768 percent in China by 2035, 539 percent in India, 227 percent in Brazil and 277% in the U.S. Still, BP likely understates the case and still predicts fossil fuels will remain dominant, providing about 75-80% of the world’s energy (not just electricity) in 2035. A guy who is out to change that dominance is Elon Musk, owner of Wall Street’s favorite electric car company, Tesla Motors. This article looks at Musk’s plan to wean civilization from fossil fuels, not only through electric cars, but through his involvement with SolarCity, which is one of several companies behind the extraordinary acceleration of rooftop solar in the U.S. Musk is not the only one to believe that solar power will be the dominant source of electricity in the U.S. by mid-century, but he is one actually making that happen.

Two press releases from allied groups, Friends of the Earth and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, focus on the only two private new reactor projects in the U.S. moving ahead now–what’s left of the “nuclear renaissance.” SACE’s release talks about the continued secrecy from the Department of Energy in attempting to give a taxpayer loan for the Vogtle reactor project (a loan that reportedly has been blocked by concerns from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget). Taxpayers kept in the dark as deadline looms to finalize $8.3 Billion nuclear loan for Vogtle reactors. And FoE examines newly released documents that show all is not as rosy as the utility, SCANA, has publicly portrayed progress at South Carolina’s Summer nuclear project. Another nuclear debacle: Cost overruns, delays and construction woes bedevil V.C. Summer reactor project in S.C.

MOX funds in spending bill top budget request. Yesterday, we noted that the omnibus budget bill included more money for the controversial small modular reactor (SMR) program than requested by the Obama Administration. We forgot to mention yesterday that the SMR program last year received Taxpayers for Common Sense most uncoveted Golden Fleece Award. Today, as journalists continue to delve into the fine print of the 1,000+ pages of the omnibus bill, we learn that Congress wants to give the MOX program more money than the Administration requested. This program is even more controversial–after years of delay and overspending, the Administration actually wants to end this program entirely. The program involves building a facility at South Carolina’s Savannah River Site to reprocess reactor fuel into plutonium-based “mixed-oxide” fuel. It’s a dangerous, dirty, and entirely unnecessary program whose only real constituent appears to be Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC).

Report finds increased cancer cases near St. Louis radwaste landfill. The oldest radioactive waste dump in the US lies near the runways to the city’s airport; it’s a vestige of World War II that has never been cleaned up because, as is the case for just about all radioactive waste, no one wants it and there is really no place for it to go. As to why no one wants it–this story should make that clear.

How solar power beat natural gas in Minnesota. Seriously, if solar power can beat natural gas (which itself beats nuclear power and coal) in Minnesota–no one’s idea of a sunny resort area–then can there possibly be anywhere that solar power has not become the cheapest electricity source? Well, maybe in areas well-suited to wind power…

Stock analyst says avoid Exelon stock in 2014. and warns of nuclear shutdowns ahead. The analyst names three single-unit Exelon reactors he believes are vulnerable–Oyster Creek, Clinton and Ginna–that also have shown up on other lists of potential near-term reactor shutdowns. But he adds a fourth, the two-unit Quad Cities site on the Illinois/Iowa border, as vulnerable too, apparently due to competition from Iowa’s fast-growing wind industry.

Japanese taxi company refuses ride to anti-nuclear lawmaker in fear of retribution from nuclear industry.

The Colorado legislature yesterday beat back yet another attempt to weaken the state’s Renewable Energy Standard.

RealClearPolitics released a list of who it calls the 10 most influential legislators on energy issues. Some names on the list are obvious; some may surprise you.

Finally today, researchers at North Carolina State University have discovered a new way of storing energy from solar power production. Energy storage is probably the hottest field in the energy arena right now, and is the last, though quickly disappearing, obstacle before renewables become a 24/7 “baseload” kind of power source. Not that the old concept, still pushed relentlessly by the nuclear industry, of “baseload” power has the same level of relevance to a modern, distributed energy grid that it did in the 1970s.

Michael Mariotte



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