Tag Archives: China

Why October 21 will become known as International Embarrassment Day

swirlingdollarsImagine it’s October 2017. A young conservative, let’s say Marco Rubio (because the idea of the other young conservative in the race, Ted Cruz, is just too odious), has been elected President. He and his new energy secretary and new treasurer decide what the U.S. needs more than anything is some shiny new nuclear power reactors. Big ones.

But no one in the U.S. wants to build them. They’re just too expensive. The ones we have under construction at Vogtle and Summer are over-budget and behind schedule, same with the ones being built in Europe. And renewables are coming on strong, even stronger and cheaper than they were back in 2015, especially since Congress extended the production tax credits for wind and solar before Obama left office. Continue reading

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Yep, wind is better than nukes/CCS for climate

Global wind energy capacity has been growing and continues to grow at a rapid rate.

Global wind energy capacity has been growing and continues to grow at a rapid rate…..

It’s not like this will come as startling news to most readers–most of us already have a strong sense that renewables are far better than either nuclear power or carbon capture/storage (CCS) at addressing our climate crisis.

After all, that’s the main message the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent is taking to the People’s Climate March in New York City September 21.

But it’s nice to see others take the same position, especially when bolstered with facts. That’s what Mike Barnard did yesterday in CleanTechnica.com with his article Wind Energy Beats Nuclear & Carbon Capture For Global Warming Mitigation. Continue reading

Nuclear Newsreel, Monday, July 7, 2014

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear facility in Japan; with seven large reactors, it's the world largest. Tepco had been hoping to begin restarting them next month, but that's not going to happen.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear facility in Japan; with seven large reactors, it’s the world largest. Tepco had been hoping to begin restarting them next month, but that’s not going to happen.

A mish-mash of various news stories that caught our attention today, beginning in Japan…

…where Kyushu Electric’s Sendai nuclear reactors could restart this Autumn without its required off-site emergency center in place. Emergency evacuation plan regulations instituted after Fukushima expanded emergency planning zones to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) and added other new requirements, including establishment of fully functional offsite emergency operations centers. But the center for the Sendai reactors–scheduled to be the first to restart in Japan–isn’t completed, and is lagging far behind schedule. The situation is similar at most other reactor sites in Japan, and emergency evacuation plans are emerging as a major issue in the country.

Meanwhile, restart of the world’s largest nuclear power facility, the seven-unit Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant owned by Tepco, has been delayed and won’t take place this year as Tepco had hoped. Tepco had promised its lenders that the reactors either would restart or that it would increase electricity prices, but the government has told Tepco not to implement the latter option.  Continue reading.

Nuclear Newsreel, Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Waste Control Specialists radioactive waste dump in Andrews County, Texas. WCS wants to triple the site's capacity and slash its liability at the same time.

The Waste Control Specialists radioactive waste dump in Andrews County, Texas. WCS wants to triple the site’s capacity and slash its liability at the same time.

It’s been a while since we caught up on the news, so let’s jump right in….

Nuclear Power

EPA chief Gina McCarthy has in essence admitted that our analysis of the EPA’s proposed carbon rules is correct: they are intended to boost the nuclear power industry, and are especially an effort to protect those uneconomic reactors–mostly owned by Exelon–that would close without more subsidies. However, McCarthy also demonstrated that she doesn’t know much about nuclear power or the reactors she’s trying to keep open: “There are a handful of nuclear facilities that because they are having trouble remaining competitive, they haven’t yet looked at re-licensing (to extend their operating lives). We were simply highlighting that fact,” McCarthy said at a round-table discussion with business leaders in Chicago. In fact, of the dozen or so reactors that have been publicly cited as in danger of closing because they’re losing money, only Exelon’s Clinton reactor has yet to receive a license extension. Perhaps that lack of knowledge at the top levels of the EPA is the reason the proposed rule is so inartfully worded.

In any case, McCarthy’s admission is just one more reason to make sure the largest possible response is provided to the EPA. The first step is signing and spreading the word about the NIRS/CREDOMobilize petition here. The next step is to begin organizing to attend, speak out and protest at the four public meetings EPA is setting up for public comment.  Continue reading

Nuclear industry wins short-term victories, but losing long-term battle

Three major decisions, in three different venues, made last week a good week for polluting utilities and thus a bad one for actual people. But the longer-term trends stayed on track,  with the nuclear/fossil fuel industry still in growing trouble and facing decline as the transition to a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy future continues on.

The bad news first:

*Under utility pressure, the EPA caved and “watered down” its proposed rule to prevent massive fish kills and other damage to marine life from power plants using once-through cooling systems. Environmentalists had wanted the proposed rule strengthened to require such power plants to close or at least build cooling towers but nuclear and coal plant owners successfully lobbied the agency and won weaker regulations.   Continue reading

Five days in solar news

When I began working at NIRS in 1985 solar power was just a dream. Oh sure, President Carter had put a few solar panels up at the White House (which President Reagan promptly took down, just to make sure everyone knew there would be no future in solar), and a few, mostly off-the-grid types had installed solar PV at their homes, which was expensive and sort of worked–especially if the homes weren’t too electricity-dependent. But solar power was a future energy source. It was way too expensive and not efficient enough for prime-time.

The same was true for wind power, for that matter. And even natural gas was just a blip on the nation’s electricity generation radar. Coal was dominant, providing well over 50% of the nation’s electricity. Nuclear was edging close to 20%, a figure it eventually reached but never topped (and now is back down to about 19% and falling). The rest was hydro, some gas, and even, back then, some oil.

The picture has changed today, of course. We don’t use oil for electricity production anymore–it’s not only dirty, it’s too expensive. Coal has slipped substantially (although it remains too high), with nuclear stagnant, natural gas has picked up much of coal’s portion of production.

But solar power is no longer a dream.  Continue reading

Nuclear Newsreel, Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nuclear Power

No new reactors will be added to the existing Temelin site. Photo by Michael Mariotte.

No new reactors will be added to the existing Temelin site. Photo by Michael Mariotte.

Another one bites the dust: Czech utility CEZ cancels new reactors at Temelin; utility’s stock immediately rises more than three percent. CEZ had planned to build two new reactors at its long-controversial Temelin site, but wanted government subsidies to do so. Czech president President Milos Zeman refused to provide such subsidies and instead told CEZ to revoke its existing tender and try again to get an offer to build the reactors that wouldn’t require government support. CEZ knew that was impossible, and gave up on the idea entirely.

New York Times: Japan still wants to open reprocessing plant, stockpile more plutonium despite proliferation risks. It looks to us like Japan’s much-ballyhooed announcement last month about returning some plutonium to the U.S. wasn’t about proliferation concerns. Rather, we suspect Japan just wanted to unload some of its radioactive waste on the U.S., since Japan is even further behind than the U.S. on a disposal site.

People and elected officials on Cape Cod are not at all happy about NRC’s rejection yesterday of NIRS’ petition to expand emergency planning zones.  Meanwhile, in nearby Vermont, Entergy wants to end emergency planning entirely once its Vermont Yankee reactor shuts down later this year, even though the reactor’s high-level radioactive waste will remain onsite for the foreseeable future. That idea is not likely to play well in Vermont, though it’s not clear what recourse the state may have. The NRC is actively working to make it easier for utilities with shutdown reactors to get exemptions from emergency planning requirements.

China’s nuclear program is beginning to look a lot like the failure of the U.S. nuclear “renaissance.” China is still rejecting inland nuclear reactors. As noted in GreenWorld earlier this week, nuclear’s share of Chinese generation capacity is at only 1.2% (it’s about 19% in the U.S.). While China’s nuclear construction program remains far more ambitious than anything in the West, it is dwarfed by China’s spending on renewables and nuclear is still unlikely to ever provide a significant share of the country’s electricity.

More delays are likely for the Summer nuclear project in South Carolina, according to a new report from state regulators. Note, the dollar amounts in this article are only for SCANA’s share of the project, not the full cost, which is far higher.

How to get away with almost anything. Essay in Bulletin of Atomic Scientists pointing out that in many developing countries–the focus here is on Pakistan–the nuclear industry is still a secret industry and that leads to lower safety standards and greater risk of disaster.

Publics indoctrinated in the virtues of nuclear weapons let their nations’ atomic energy establishments get away with almost anything. Public subsidies are dispensed for nuclear power, but hidden for secrecy reasons, and are thus excluded from the real costs of electricity. Nuclear establishments need not reveal their plans for disaster management, prove these plans’ adequacy, develop environmental impact mitigation schemes, or educate the population about radiation hazards. These establishments, operating almost unchallenged, feel little need to make the case for nuclear power over alternative energy technologies. Bureaucracies, shrouded in layer after layer of secrecy and relying on official secrecy acts, can continue to hide from the public gaze their appalling inefficiency and incompetence.

Here’s a hoot–and an exercise in self-delusion. Or maybe there’s just a desire to boost graduate school enrollment figures. In any case, a manager at Southern Company told a nuclear engineering graduate school gathering in Tennessee yesterday that 130,000 new workers will be needed to build the next 30 nuclear reactors in the U.S. Sounds like an echo of John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and the idea of 30 new reactors in the U.S. inevitably will follow the same fate as that campaign. But we do feel sorry for any students who believe such a fantasy and spend tens of thousands of dollars on a grad school curriculum that is not very likely to have the future its backers claim.

Clean Energy

A California county has become the first in the nation to be grid positive: it produces 152% of the energy it uses from solar.

Also in California, utility-scale solar power topped five percent of the state’s electricity needs in March, a new record. Renewables generally provided more than 22% of the state’s power. And those figures don’t count rooftop solar, which doesn’t show up in such estimates because for utilities it’s power they aren’t providing. But with 2.2 Gigawatts of rooftop solar already installed in California, solar would have bumped up a point or two.

Goldman Sachs plans to invest $40 Billion in renewable energy over the next ten years. That’s serious money from just one investment company. Stuart Bernstein, the head of Sachs’ clean energy group, says we are already in a period of rapid transition to clean energy but says Sach’s belief is that this will be a 20-year process.

Inside Washington

 

The entrance to Mount Ronald Reagan?

The entrance to Mount Ronald Reagan?

A Nevada Republican, Rep. Joe Heck, wants to name part of Frenchman Mountain in the state after former President Ronald Reagan–as if they weren’t already enough things named after him. But some members of the House Natural Resources Committee had a more appropriate idea: Rep. Peter DeFazio suggested naming the now-abandoned Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump after Reagan. Said DeFazio, “If we were going to name something after the president, it ought to be something that actually had to do with the president’s service in office, and something the president supported that was extraordinarily significant to the state of Nevada.” The committee ended up approving Heck’s request, knowing that it is highly unlikely to get to the Senate floor controlled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Sometimes it’s not worth rooting for either side, but if anyone had doubts about how difficult this Congress is, read on. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz continued to push his inane “all of the above” energy strategy on Capitol Hill yesterday, and said DOE needs more money to implement the strategy. House Republicans countered that the administration is too biased against fossil fuels and is waging a war on coal. The chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), complained that the Obama White House has continually proposed spending three to six times as much on investments in alternative energy sources, including wind and solar power, as on fossil fuels. “It certainly appears to me to be a not-balanced approach—not an ‘all of the above’ approach by this administration,” Smith said. Neither side appears to have noticed the changes taking place in the electricity sector, which is pushing away coal at least as fast as nuclear power, although Moniz did support the idea of new coal with carbon capture technology, which so far has proven remarkably expensive and ineffective.

Meanwhile, CNBC, which appears to be on a relentless pro-nuclear promotional campaign, touted an appearance by Moniz, in which he spoke favorably about small modular reactors and pushed the department’s existing loan guarantee programs, as a sign of a hopeful future for nuclear power. Never mind that the nuclear side of the loan guarantee program hasn’t been able to give away more than $10 billion it has remaining after the one loan–for the Vogtle reactors in Georgia–that it managed to eke out four years after announcing its approval. We have no idea if CNBC’s investment advice is any more accurate or in-depth than its reporting, but for the sake of its viewers we sure hope so.

Michael Mariotte

April 10, 2014

Permalink: https://safeenergy.org/2014/04/10/nuclear-newsreel-thursday-april-10-2014/

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