Archive for August, 2010

PENTAGON COOL ON WIND: SQUARES OFF AGAINST DOE

Friday, August 27th, 2010

The Pentagon — which has been warm to things nuclear including, most recently small reactors as part of its move away from fossil fuels and toward energy self-sufficiency — has emerged as the latest impediment to expansion of wind generation according to the New York Times. 

The Times reports in today’s paper (Wind Turbine Projects Run Into Resistance) that "moving turbine blades can be indistinguishable from airplanes on many radar systems, and they can even cause blackout zones in which planes disappear from radar entirely. Clusters of wind turbines, which can reach as high as 400 feet, look very similar to storm activity on weather radar, making it harder for air traffic controllers to give accurate weather information to pilots."

And while there hasn’t been a documented result to date of this cause and effect, the House Armed Services Committee has been told that — in certain arenas, such as in the proximity of air bases — wind turbines are "an unacceptable risk to training, testing and national security," according to the Times’ narrative.

In 2009, it is alleged that "9,000 megawatts of wind power projects were abandoned or delayed because of radar concerns raised by the military and the Federal Aviation Administration" — more than the aggregate domestic deployment of wind in the same year. 

The Pentagon — which is already heavily engaged in several conflicts (such as Afghanistan and Iraq) — is now also pitted "in direct conflict" with the Department of Energy’s stimulus injected multi-billion dollar checkbook for wind power.  This comes at a time when the DOE is itself fighting another "menace" — bureaucracy; a couple weeks ago the department’s inspector general reported that less than 10 percent of one of DOE’s key renewables portfolios has been expended since the February, 2009, stimulus recovery act.

An Idaho National Laboratory researcher calls the Pentagon-DOE stand-off "the train wreck of the 2000s" spelled-out as "competing resources for two national needs: energy security and national security." It is not clear whether 2000s means the decade of the 2000s or the 21st Century…

Read more at the New York Times

India’s Nuclear Renaissance in Limbo: Russians Reportedly Out; U.S. Question Marks

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Just two years after U.S. and India signed a much ballyhooed civil nuclear cooperative agreement to open the doors to U.S. nuclear companies eager to meet India’s energy hungry demand , the only thing that is clear today is that confusion reigns supreme.

 

On Wednesday, India’s lower chamber of Parliament signed off on a civilian nuclear liability bill that was acclaimed by India’s Prime Minister as the linchpin to ending India’s three decades of “nuclear isolation.”

 

However, the Federal of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry characterized the legislation as a threat to India’s  “nuclear renaissance” and something that would “completely undo the government’s efforts to accelerate nuclear power generation in our country.”

 

The Confederation of Indian Industry was quoted by the Financial Times as saying the legislation would be “a major deterrent” to India’s nuclear power operators accessing foreign technology.”

 

The Russians were reported to be even more direct with the Business Standard citing Moscow sources saying they had “clearly refused to accept any liability for the two civil nuclear reactors that it is currently building…”

 

U.S. nuclear companies – a group that includes the highly interested General Electric and Westinghouse – were mum. 

 

Anti-nuclear groups said the government went too far in protecting foreign companies.  Business interests point to a potential showstopper provision that would leave technology vendors, equipment providers and materials suppliers legally exposed for up to 80 years after completion of a plant.

 

While the legislation will move to the upper house of Parliament for consideration and approval, one India market observer noted that the chamber rarely makes substantial modifications to any legislation.

 

India has approximately 50 nuclear plants on the drawing board with the potential market “ball-parked” at around $200 billion over the next 20 years.

 

Read More at the Financial Times

 

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cd2e4990-b02f-11df-939d-00144feabdc0.html?ftcamp=rss

REPORTS SHOW BLOOM OFF U.S. RENAISSANCE: GLOBAL MARKETS ON THE UPSWING

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

By Steve Hedges
Nothing in the energy field comes easy. So it is hardly surprising that a series of reports out recently have put a damper on any enthusiasm nuclear power advocates may have felt for the so-called “Nuclear Renaissance.”

A hint of the new skepticism , in the U.S. at least, is a central theme in a recent series of Standard and Poor’s assessment of the nuclear industry.

"The nuclear renaissance that seemed imminent in 2007,” S&P wrote, “has slowed due to moderate natural gas prices and the credit crisis that followed the economic downturn, which limited funding options."

What gives S&P pause is not the viability of nuclear power, but a string of cost overruns and delays involving nuclear projects in a variety of countries, and the projected higher costs of reactor construction in the U.S. due to supply prices and a lack of skilled labor.

The rating agency also notes the failure so far of the federal government to grant promised loan guarantees for new reactor construction in the U.S.

Despite the fanfare and excitement brought on the Obama administration’s $36 billion ramping-up of loan guarantees (on top of $18 billion provided in the 2005 Energy Policy Act) to back nuclear expansion as part of its energy and climate strategy –- only one such guarantee has been arranged so far. That $8.3 billion guarantee, of course, went to the Vogtle nuclear power plant near Augusta, Ga.

Other reactor projects -– Calvert Cliffs in Maryland and the South Texas Project, to name just two –- are hopeful for similar guarantees, but still waiting. Others are at the gate.

“In response to its $18.5 billion nuclear loan guarantee program,” S&P reports, “the U.S. Dept. of Energy has received 19 applications from 17 companies to build new nuclear plants. In terms of financing needs, these requests total $188 billion and average an all-in cost of $6,500 per kilowatt (kW).”

Elsewhere, the renaissance seems to be blossoming. In Asia, for instance, just about every country seems intent on joining the nuclear power race between China (27 plants underway) and South Korea (7 underway) and Japan (5 under construction).

“In other countries, new nuclear construction is in full swing,” S&P reports. “Many have adopted nuclear generation as an integral energy source option; about 60 nuclear plants with various reactor technologies are currently under construction around the world, and many more are in the advanced development and planning stages.”

S&P even has positive words for Europe where “a steady stream of new reactors in Europe and Asia has established a relatively cheap supply chain and a skilled labor force there.”

France, though, is concerned about future competition. France recently issued an internal blueprint for new ways to re-engineer its well established nuclear firms, AREVA and EDF. Those two companies, along with a few other French nuclear partners, might need the boost. For instance, the internal report to President Nicolas Sarkozy noted:

“The actors in the French nuclear industry (EDF, AREVA, ASLTOM) are the uncontested industrial leaders in France and are the ones to have first acquired expertise in this area. On the international level, the challenge is newer and more difficult: France must capture a significant part of the nuclear plant market, a market that is extremely segmented and very competitive.”

Perhaps that sentiment just reflects good old fashioned competition. But France’s nationalist fervor over its nuclear industry is not uncommon. As S&P found, “Nuclear power generation in China, Russia, and South Korea is essentially a government enterprise. Similarly, the French government owns 91% of AREVA S.A. and 85% of Electricite de France S.A. (EDF), the two major domestic nuclear players. The Japanese rely on private companies for nuclear development, but the government encourages companies to establish conglomerates.”

 Where does that leave the U.S.? Overall, the S&P reports spell gloom – though not doom – for the U.S. nuclear industry. Costs here are higher here, the reports state, and indecision over nuclear power’s future has meant that expertise and skill sets have migrated overseas.

“Amid serious doubts over the future of the U.S. nuclear industry during the 1980s, the pool of nuclear construction managers and specialized workers dried up and remains shallow today,” the ratings agency reports. “Several specialized skills (such as high quality welding) that are unique to the construction of nuclear power plants are now hard to come by in the U.S.”

There’s really only one way to fix that problem – borrow the expertise until U.S. firms can gain a beachhead again. It’s not surprising, then, that foreign nuclear firms are so heavily involved in U.S. projects, like France’s EDF’s role in the Calvert Cliffs, Md., reactor project.

First, though, U.S. projects have to break through the regulatory muddle,  As S&P observes, “the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is reviewing five types for new plant design certification: Toshiba Corp.'s advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR), AREVA S.A./ Electricite de France S.A.'s (EDF) European pressurized reactor (EPR), Westinghouse's AP-1000, Mitsubishi Corp.'s advanced pressurized water reactor (APWR) and General Electric Co.'s economic simplified boiling water reactor. The builders claim to be able to construct plants in three years from the first concrete pouring to the first fueling. But the construction track records for these technologies is not very long.”

As noted in Nuclear Townhall Aug. 23, the most vibrant sector of the U.S. nuclear industry right now seems to be one of the oldest: The Tennessee Valley Authority. By the end of 2010, TVA will have completed several rector projects that have created thousands of jobs. And its board recently approved the investment of $250 million toward the completion of a Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Alabama. And those projects are on budget and schedule. It can be done.

REPORTS OF YUCCA MOUNTAIN’S DEATH GREATLY EXAGGERATED

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

The Yucca Mountain project looks like it’s going to give Lazarus, "The Terminator" and the Energizer Bunny some competition — in the face of feverish White House and U.S. Department of Energy efforts to kill it in time for an election campaign victory lap by chief Yucca Mountain antagonist Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

The headline this morning in the Las Vegas Review Journal — "NRC staff gives Yucca overview a passing grade"– was not likely something the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted to read in Nevada’s largest newspaper two months before his hotly contested November re-election litmus test.

In an action that simultaneously rebuffed conflicting concerns from Yucca Mountain proponents and opponents that the agency would either scuttle or surface the result of its ongoing review, respectively, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission published the first of five volumes of "the agency staff’s safety evaluation report on the Department of Energy’s license application seeking authorization to construct a high-level radioactive waste repository…"

The 61-page report gave a green light to the "General Information" section of the DOE license application, which the NRC says "contains introductory and overview information about the proposed facility and its operation."

The NRC’s findings were put in context in an official agency news release saying "publication of Volume 1 does not represent a licensing decision or indicate what an eventual licensing decision might be. No decision to grant or deny a construction authorization can be made until after completion of the NRC staff’s independent technical review of the application, the adjudicatory hearing and subsequent Commission review."

The positive Yucca Mountain development prompted a muted response from Yucca detractor Bruce Breslow, executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, who was quoted in the Review-Journal article saying:  "It basically is general information making sure things were done under the rules properly."

Noting the likelihood of another volume surfacing in the fall, the NRC’s Construction Authorization Board rejection of the DOE withdrawal motion, continuing impasses in Federal court and Fiscal Year 2011 funding — and a possible shift in Congressional control in the mid-term elections — an nuclear industry consultant said: "Yogi Berra is right once again. It’s ain’t over till it’s over."

Safety Evaluation Report Related to Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Wastes in a Geologic Repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, Volume 1: General Information” (NUREG-1949, Vol. 1) is available through the NRC’s website.

Read more at the Las Vegas Review-Journal

GOOD NEWS MONDAY: TVA – THE UNHERALDED RENAISSANCE TRAILBLAZER

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Before the end of the 2010s is over, the Tennessee Valley Authority will be able to lay claim to the distinction of successfully launching:

·       The last commercial U.S. nuclear power plant to come on-line in the 20th Century (Watts Bar Unit One)
·       The first U.S. plant to come on line in the 21st Century (Browns Ferry Unit One); and
·       The first nuclear power to come on-line in the first chapter of the U.S. Nuclear Renaissance era (Watts Bar Two). Watts Bar Unit Two is projected to add 1,180 megawatts to the TVA nuclear fleet in 2013.
 
On Friday, these impressive achievements were bolstered by an announcement that the TVA Board of Directors has blessed investing about $250 million toward the potential completion of the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant Unit 1 in Alabama.  TVA is envisioning a 1,260-megawatts reactor with completion costs ball-parked between $4 billion and $5 billion.
 
These projects collectively are creating thousands of  jobs and have put TVA on the frontlines of the U.S. Nuclear Renaissance.  TVA has also shown that nuclear power plants can be built at projected costs and schedules.
 
Purists will point out that the new Browns Ferry and Watts Bar plants were either shut-down or mothballed projects – not new nuclear units.  In this vein, baseball fans may remember that in the middle of Roger Maris’ historic chase in 1961 to beat Babe Ruth’s historic home run record, Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick announced there would be a distinction in the record books if Maris took more games to break the Bambino’s record, which was achieved in 154 games.  In fact, it took Maris 162 games.   Well, after a decade or more of steroids induced home runs, both Babe Ruth’s and Roger Maris’ achievements are looking appropriately Herculean these days as are TVA’s initiative, jobs and clean energy leadership.
 
Hats off to TVA — the unheralded U.S. Nuclear Renaissance trailblazer – on its latest milestone. 
 
Read more at CoolHandNuke.com

OSTENDORFF IN THE YUCCA VORTEX: NRC VOTE ON THE VERGE

Friday, August 20th, 2010

When newly confirmed NRC Commissioner George Apostolokis cited a conflict emanating from prior work for the Sandia National Laboratories and abruptly exited stage right in mid-July from the Commission’s looming vote over the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s rejection of the Energy Department’s Yucca Mountain license application withdrawal, all eyes turned to the recused Commissioner’s freshman colleague William Ostendorff.

With the Commission now levelized at two Democrats and two Republicans — and conventional wisdom suggesting that incumbent Commissioner Kristine Svinicki will negate a likely vote by Chairman Gregory Jaczko to overturn the lower panel’s ruling — Ostendorff has emerged as the pivotal vote on the matter regardless of what fellow Commissioner William Magwood, a Democratic appointee, decides to do.

According to a mix of NRC observers a vote on the issue ranges from either "imminent" to "before Congress returns in September."

Ostendorff’s vote can either ensure a 2-2 Commission stalemate or 3-1 majority vote to sustain the ASLB decision — or result in overturning the board if both Ostendorff and Magwood side with Jaczko — a former staffer for Yucca opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

For Ostendorff, the stakes couldn’t be higher.  A decision by the Commission to overturn the ASLB and allow a DOE license withdrawal could be a fatal blow to the two-decades-old $10 billion national repository program. The Commission action will directly  impact both a legal challenge to the Obama Administration’s termination effort and Congressional initiatives to revive the program.

Ostendorff’s vote is also complicated by political realities. He represents a Republican-blessed appointment to serve out the term of former NRC Chairman Dale Klein, a Yucca Mountain proponent who has been openly critical of the Obama Administration’s handing of Yucca Mountain.  With the term expiring in less than a year — June 30, 2011 — Ostendorff’s chances for re-appointment would be clouded by a vote undermining the ASLB’s unanimous decision given outspoken  Republican support for an increasingly bipartisan Congressional campaign to continue the program.

"Based on his Yucca vote, Ostendorff will either be a hero or a heretic," said one Capitol Hill observer.

Ostendorff’s decision is made even more ticklish by his February 9, 2010, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works confirmation hearing.  In response to a question — posed by the Committee’s chair for Senator Reid — on whether Ostendorff would "second guess the Department of Energy’s decision to withdraw the license application for Yucca Mountain from NRC’s review", the prospective Commissioner said: "No."

In an early August decision declining to disqualify himself from consideration of the pending Yucca Mountain issue, Ostendorff offered a few clues:

"At the time of Senator Boxer’s question, I had only limited knowledge and appreciation for the matters at issue as part of the licensing proceeding, as well as only limited familiarity with DOE’s latest efforts with regard to that application. I certainly had no knowledge of the legal issues pertaining to the withdrawal of the application.

"I understood Senator Boxer’s question to ask whether or not I would take a position on DOE’s decision to seek withdrawal of the application as a matter of policy.  My belief at the time was, and still is, that it was not my place to question the decision made by the Secretary of Energy to  pursue such a withdrawal. 

"It was not my belief, nor do I think that any reasonable person could conclude as such in light of all the facts and circumstances, that Senator Boxer was asking for my opinion as to whether the application could be withdrawn as a matter of law. It was simply not conceivable to me that the Senator would ask me to provide an on-the-spot opinion on a legally and technically complex subject with simply a ‘yes or no’ answer, or to opine on the matter without having been given sufficient opportunity to understand the extensive history or complicated technical or legal issues."

Colleagues who have been associated with Ostendorff — during his tenures as principal deputy administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Counsel and Staff Director for the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee — say they would be surprised by an Ostendorff decision to reverse the ASLB finding.  Speaking of the buttoned-down former nuclear. submarine commander who has been known to sport an atomic tie, one former colleague said:  "He is a man of principle who understands the rule of law and respects subordinates. He will do the right thing."

SHAW GROUP CONTINUES TO WIN CONTRACTS ABROAD

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

The Shaw Group of Louisiana may be one of the few American companies participating in the world Nuclear Renaissance but it continues to prosper.

Yesterday Shaw announced it has signed an initial contract with State Nuclear Power Engineering Corp. Ltd., a subsidiary of China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. Ltd. (SNPTC), to provide technical support services for additional AP1000 nuclear power plants in China. Shaw will be providing engineering and design management, project controls and quality assurance.

The deal follows on a 2009 agreement in which Shaw provides technical support for China’s growing nuclear infrastructure. China now has 12 operating reactors with 23 under construction and 30 more planned for completion by 2020. At that point, China’s nuclear complex will be more than half the size of the U.S. fleet of 104 reactors.

Last month China surpassed the U.S. in total energy output and this week it passed Japan as the world’s second largest economy. China has also announced plans for a “Nuclear City” at Haiyan to consolidate its growing nuclear prowess.

 "We look forward to participating in additional AP1000 nuclear power projects in China as the country advances its considerable commitment to nuclear power,” said J.M. Bernhard Jr., Shaw Group chairman and CEO.

Read more at EnergyCentral.com

SCORE ONE FOR GWYNETH CRAVENS! THE HORGAN CONVERSION

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

In his on-line column yesterday, Scientific America’s John Horgan, once a reliably anti-nuclear voice,  relates how a tour of Indian Point with Gwyneth Cravens, arranged by her, softened his views. But the moment of enlightenment came in reading Cravens’ book, Power to Save the World, which cleared up his nuclear misconceptions.
 
Horgan now testifies to the following truths:
 
·        -  Radiation is universal. It does not just come from nuclear reactors. The average American absorbs 360 millirems a year (recently revised upward to 620 mrem), while living next to a reactor would only add 1 mrem.
·        -  There is no evidence that radiation exposure at less than 100,000 mrem causes any health effects. All claims to such damage are based on the linear, no-threshold assumption, which has no empirical confirmation.
·        -   About 50 people died at Chernobyl. Background radiation in surrounding areas is now near normal
·        -   No one died at Three Mile Island. There has never been any evidence of increased cancer or birth defects in surrounding areas.
·        -   Nuclear reactors are running extremely efficiently and safely. The electricity they provide is cheaper than just about everything else.
·        -   The incredible energy density of nuclear power gives it an infinitesimally small environmental footprint compared to all forms of dilute “renewable” energy.
 
All this may seem like boilerplate material to people who understand nuclear energy, but it is incredibly important to find it in the popularizing scientific literature. As Charles McKay said in Extraordinary Popular Delusion and the Madness of Crowds, “Men go mad in herds. They recover their senses only slowly, and one by one.”

MISSOURI STRUGGLES WITH RENEWABLE ENERGY MANDATE

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Renewable mandates seem so easy when they are adopted. Just pass a law saying utilities must switch to renewable energy and the operating premises is that windmills and solar farms will grow accordingly.

Like many states before it, however, Missouri is finding it isn’t so simple. In 2008, Missouri voters adopted a referendum mandating that utilities get a modest 2 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2011, rising to 15 in 2021 with 2 percent reserved for solar electricity. There was no serious opposition.

Now that utilities companies, the Missouri Public Service Commission and various consumer and environmental groups are trying to implement the law, however, all kinds of issue have surfaced. The biggest controversy is whether utilities should be allowed to buy “renewable energy credits” from out of state.

Generating even 2 percent renewables on Missouri’s rolling countryside has proved to be difficult. So the PSC passed a rule saying a utility could buy credits for renewable energy generated in “neighboring states.”  But utility and consumer groups say this is too restrictive and will raise prices. They want the area for potential credits extended across all of North America.

Critics argue that this model is ripe for exploitation. What is to keep a wind farm in Manitoba from selling its “credits” to six different utilities?  Is anybody keeping track? 

Read more at the St. Louis Dispatch

‘FRANCE NUCLEAR INC.’ IN FLUX: SARKOZY BLUEPRINTS FUTURE

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

A report on the future of French nuclear energy — recently made public amid a swirl of Sarkozy Administration pronouncements about challenging development for "France Nuclear Inc." — recommends that France seize a global leadership position in building new reactors, while safeguarding its domestic industry and uranium supplies.

The report, entitled “The Future of the French Nuclear Industry,” states bluntly: “In a market that has become global and competitive, and after some regrettable vicissitudes, it is important that henceforth the nuclear industry reorganize itself to consolidate its strengths, reinforce its coordination and develop its exporting performance, its principal market in the future.”

Ordered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in October 2009, the June 16, 2010 French report, written by Francois Rouseely, a former chairman of EDF (Electricité de France), suggests that France already maintains a leading role in the nuclear power industry worldwide, since a majority of France’s power is derived from nuclear energy.

But the Rouseely Report warns that France’s leadership role could be eclipsed in a global nuclear energy market that is growing as concerns over carbon emissions and problems with other forms of energy production grow. It encourages more support from the French government.

“The new industrial battle of civil nuclear power,” the report states, “is now so important that it requires nations to invest, at times abandoning their traditional positions, in strengthening vigorously and at the highest levels the business development of their major companies while also increasing intergovernmental agreements.”

Indeed, the report displays an unusual level of government-industry cooperation.  Corporate France maintains a leading position in the nuclear sector globally, and it empowers industrial leaders, such as the French companies AREVA, EDF and Alstom, Bouygues and Vinci to pursue new business abroad.

The report repeatedly stresses the need for safety in nuclear technology, noting that France has never experienced a nuclear accident.

But the main thrust of the study is nuclear expansion — calling the growing need for both replacement reactor construction at home and in new markets abroad as vital to its nuclear companies.

“The actors in the French nuclear industry (EDF, AREVA, ASLTOM) are the uncontested industrial leaders in France and are the ones to have first acquired expertise in this area,” the report states.  “On the international level, the challenge is newer and more difficult: France must capture a significant part of the nuclear plant market, a market that is extremely segmented and very competitive.”

The report recommends that EDF and AREVA be given the lead as France’s premiere nuclear concerns.

“As a rule, EDF must be the architect-engineer of the ‘French Team’ for constructing nuclear power plants, both in France and abroad.

“The architect-engineer should bring together all the expertise needed in all areas concerned and, in particular, should have the direct or indirect knowledge of an operator in order to optimize the implementation and to benefit from operating experience in all the details of the final design.”

AREVA, the study notes, “today consolidates the business of the nuclear fuel cycle, the design and manufacture of nuclear islands, and the operation of plants.”

The report also recommends that the two concerns unite their efforts in a “strategic imperative” when it comes to foreign contracts, as in China.

“This strategic agreement is an imperative necessity for France, to effectively unite its civil nuclear industry internationally, to prepare for the challenge of the renewal of French nuclear power plant fleet, to be part of the necessary upturn of the French economy. A review of the current geopolitics of nuclear energy shows the fundamental role of China.

“EDF and AREVA have been actively present for many years in China. In this context, it is recommended that, with their experience, AREVA and EDF offer the Chinese players a contract of partnership, under the auspices of the government.”

On the international front, the report suggests that, “Simultaneously, the mission of the International French Nuclear Agency (AFNI) must be expanded to develop a French international nuclear consulting program. In effect, each state desiring to develop civil nuclear power, or considering developing a fleet of nuclear power stations must create or reassess ‘a safety baseline.’ This baseline would be made up of a series of standards, plans and procedures competing for the safety and security (interior and exterior) of nuclear facilities and their site. France is in a position to offer its cooperation in the establishment or improvement of these standards.”

The study suggests that current problems encountered on projects by French nuclear companies must be quickly addressed. These include Finland’s Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant, an AREVA project that is over budget and behind schedule, and in Flamanville which EDF manages in France, which has also seen schedule slippage.

While the report is remarkable for its candor about the problems with the EPR reactor construction, it also focuses on nuclear market prospects in the United Kingdom, where EDF is poised to become one of the first developers of the next generation of nuclear plants.

The report is all together silent on the U.S. market. However, EDF is a 50 percent owner in Constellation Energy which has partnered with Areva to form Unistar, LLC, which currently has a COL license application under review by the NRC for a new EPR at the Calvert Cliffs site in Maryland.

Unistar also has a DOE loan guarantee application pending at DOE and has been struggling in the face of recent negative publicity over the EPR cost and schedule overruns at Olkiluoto and Flamanville. It is also hobbled by what appears to be a trifecta of unfriendly economic business trends — slower electricity growth, lower future gas price projects and the extended lack of carbon pricing.

The report also notes that in France, public acceptance of nuclear power is vital to the industry’s future, as are concerns over the treatment of nuclear waste.

“For the French, the trump card of nuclear energy is its essential contribution to the energy independence of France.

"Since 2005 more than 70% [of the population] recognize that nuclear power allows us this independence. 7 out of 10 French citizens think that the nuclear power is good for our economy and creates jobs…

“The management of nuclear waste requires the development of a communication effort: for 60 to 70 percent of the French, it is the most compelling argument against nuclear power.”

The report addresses all aspects of France’s nuclear industry, from reactor production and sales to “back end” storage of nuclear waste. Regarding the latter, France faces the same dilemma the U.S. is currently now wrestling with: a deep geological repository.

French law requires “a legal regulatory” deadline of 2015 for the authorization and implementation of the plan for a deep storage center project, according to the report. Currently, France stores nuclear waste above ground and it is often cited by opponents of the U.S. Yucca Mountain repository as a model for an alternative to deep geological storage such as Yucca.

In fact, as the report notes, France is also pursuing deep storage as a permanent measure.

To promote the French nuclear industry, the report suggests that, “The strategic importance and magnitude of the issues to be addressed as well as the leadership and coordination required to implement a nuclear program justifies the creation of either a Department of Energy headed by a full minister, or a secretary general attached to the Presidency of the Republic."

Finally, the report recommends greater cooperation among French nuclear companies when it comes to Research and Development.

“To facilitate greater efficiency of research and development in the French nuclear industry, the coordination between different actors, mainly CEA, EDF and AREVA, must be strengthened.

"It is thus proposed that a strategic R&D plan on the national level be developed with CEA, the relevant ministries and the key industries."