Nuclear Newsreel, Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Nuclear Newsreel today focused mostly on clean energy developments…Note: GreenWorld will not publish tomorrow, March 28, 2014 (the 35th anniversary of the Three Mile Island accident). We’ll be back on Monday, March 31 with a special Opening Day essay! Watch for it.

Another one bites the dust. A major investor drops out of proposed Finnish-Russian nuclear project. Doesn’t anyone want a piece of this thing? Apparently not anyone with economic sense.

The Department of Energy is dangerously close to approving the release of some radioactive material into the general marketplace. In response, NIRS has launched a new campaign aimed at encouraging DOE to make permanent an existing moratorium on such practices. You can take action to encourage DOE here.

First, it was Goldman Sachs. Then Morgan Stanley. Now a new report from Citigroup agrees: the solar revolution is here. The report “notes that nuclear and coal are structurally disadvantaged because both technologies are viewed as uncompetitive on cost. Environmental regulations are making coal even pricier, and the aging nuclear fleet in the US is facing plant shutdowns due to the challenging economics. ‘We predict that solar, wind, and biomass to continue to gain market share from coal and nuclear into the future,’ the Citi analysts write.” Indeed, Citigroup says that the “levelized cost of energy,” the key metric in analyzing costs of different energy sources, indicates that all forms of renewables except marine are already cheaper than nuclear power and that both coal and nuclear are pricing themselves out of the market.

Levelized costs of electricity resources, from ACEEE. Note: we have seen some projected nuclear prices at even higher levels than shown here.

Levelized costs of electricity resources, from ACEEE. Note: we have seen some projected nuclear costs at even higher levels than shown here.

There’s nothing new about this except the report released by American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), but it’s worth remembering anyway: energy efficiency remains the cheapest and fastest means of addressing climate and energy issues. Every dollar spent on efficiency brings back $1.24 to $4 in total benefits to consumers. And, at 2.8 cents/kWh, electricity efficiency programs are one-half to one-third the cost of even the cheapest generation technologies (and way cheaper than nuclear power).

The right wing loses again in its effort to block renewable energy. Although the Kansas Senate had voted to repeal the state’s Renewable Energy Standard–as pressed for by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Koch Brothers groups, etc., it actually is very popular in the state. So the Kansas House rejected the Senate and voted 77-44 yesterday to keep the state’s RES. So far, this year is going like last year: the far-right has failed in its every effort to stymie renewable energy. Let’s hope (and work to make sure) that trend continues.

One of the targets of the far-right groups like ALEC is solar net metering programs. These enable people with rooftop solar installations to sell back excess power to utilities at a reasonable cost. But the far-right thinks they’re a burden on utilities and that homeowners should get far less money through these programs (actually, they think the programs shouldn’t even exist). But in Minnesota, the state has determined that their existing net metering programs are actually priced far too low for the social benefits solar power brings. So the state Public Utilities Commission is planning to increase the rates utilities must pay for rooftop solar generated power. The formula Minnesota used to make this determination is something that could and should be followed by other states.

Despite Russia’s armed takeover of Crimea, Ukraine is expected to continue to provide Crimean solar plants with feed-in tariff support–support that is among the most generous in the world. This will enable solar plants in Crimea to continue operating; that wouldn’t be clear if the plants had to rely on Russia. There are several large solar plants in Crimea, with the biggest able to produce 100 Megawatts of solar power.

Michael Mariotte

March 27, 2014


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2 thoughts on “Nuclear Newsreel, Thursday, March 27, 2014

  1. robie tenorio


    I want to alert you that there is no link to the second item listed (radioactive material into general marketplace) and then I went to the NIRS website and tried to find link to action and it said there was no page.

    Thank you, Robie


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