Archive for the ‘SMR’ Category
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
March 23, 2011
Despite the general pause over nuclear energy as a result of the Fukushima crisis, some analysts believe the end result may be to bring small modular reactors to the fore.
“As improbable as it may sound amid the devastation in northeastern Japan, the nuclear accident may increase the appeal of innovative, small-scale reactors,” Chris Gadomski, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst in San Francisco, tells Bloomberg News. “We’re seeing a knee-jerk reaction saying, ‘get rid of nuclear,’ but that’s not going to happen in the long run,” he says. “There is no other good solution if you want to decarbonize the energy sector. As far as small reactors go, these events in Japan will strengthen their hand as opposed to weakening it.”
Although SMRs are getting a lot of good press lately, including a feature-length article in The American Spectator this month, the finances have not been good. Paul Lorenzini, CEO of NuScale, announced this week that his company would be making layoffs soon if it could not get further financing.
NuScale’s 45-MW reactor would sell for only $200 million and would allow utilities to add power in small increments without betting the company on a $10-billion project. Hyperion Power Generation is offering an even smaller 25-MW reactor for $50 million. The article also cites TerraPower’s 500-MW Traveling Wave Reactor but also notes that Russia is making rapid progress with 35-MW reactor it is mounting on barges. The big surprise is that Argentina is also clearing the ground for a 25-MW experimental prototype it hopes to begin in 2014.
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has said that SMRs represent the U.S.’s last big chance to get back in the game on world reactor construction.
Read more about it at Bloomberg
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
February 16, 2011
Westinghouse jumped into the small reactor pool with a 200-megawatt model designed to compete with several other models already proposed by small, innovative companies.
â€¨â€¨“The Westinghouse SMR is a 200 Mwe class, integral pressurized water reactor, with all the primary components located inside the reactor vessel,” says the promotion sheet on Westinghouse’s website. “It utilizes passive safety systems and proven components – realized in the industry-leading AP1000 reactor design – to achieve the highest levels of safety and reduce the number of components required. This approach will provide licensing, construction and operation certainty that no other SMR supplier can match with competitive economics.”
â€¨â€¨The real race to market, of course, will not involve innovation or cost or reliability but who can get their design through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Westinghouse is obviously depending on its reputation and economic muscle to win that race. Smaller companies such as NuScale and Hyperion have a long slog ahead of them and will need help from major investors to get through the marathon.
â€¨â€¨What lies ahead can be sampled from the accompanying video where Mike Anness, manager of advanced reactors at Westinghouse and Paul Genoa of the Nuclear Energy Institute confront the lugubrious Ed Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who tells Platts Energy Week’s Bill Loveless that “the economic case for small reactors is being made by the vendors to roll back regulations that protect the public.” Lyman listed these savings as “the emergency evacuation planning, the number of guards needed to protect the plants from sabotage and the strength of the containment building needed to hold the radiation in case of an accident.”
â€¨Anness insisted Westinghouse intends to crack the American market first and Genoa recites the mantra that NRC approval represents the “gold standard.” Given the likelihood that it will take the NRC ten years to deal with the question of evacuation plans and armed guards, however, it’s more than likely that the first SMRs will be built where everything else is now being built – in Europe or Asia.â€¨
Read more at Westinghouse Nuclear
Thursday, January 20th, 2011
January 20, 2011
France has taken the idea of “moving industry offshore” and given it a new twist – plant small nuclear reactors in the seabed and pump the electricity back on land. Called “Flexblue,” the underwater system could provide a large portion of the world’s energy.
“The cylinder with the power plant inside would be lowered to the seabed at a depth of 60 meters (196 feet) to 100 meters, at a site between five and 15 kilometers from the coast,” Patrick Boissier, CEO of the French construction company, DCNS, tells Platts. “Undersea cables would bring the electricity to customers on shore.” Boissier notes that three-quarters of the world’s population lives within 80 km of the sea.
DCNS, which does construction for the French Navy, will join Areva, EDF and the CEA research and development organization in exploring the idea, according to an announcement made in Paris yesterday. “The technical, economic and market feasibility study will be conducted over the next two years by 100-150 people from DCNS and the nuclear organizations, after which a decision could be made to build a prototype,” says Platts. “Boissier said a submerged power plant, unlike a floating one, would not be vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis, or floods, and would be far less vulnerable to voluntary attack.” It would also have an unlimited source of coolant and would create a minimal environmental footprint. Areva already builds 100-MW small reactors for French submarines and aircraft carriers and said it would be fairly easy to adapt Flexblue from this prototype.
The French project should serve as a warning to American political officials, who also have big dreams about small reactors but are reluctant to streamline regulatory procedures that now make such initiatives a decade-long ordeal. The French are not the only ones who are going to be building small reactors. The rest of the world knows the technology too.
Read more about it at Platt’s
Monday, January 17th, 2011
January 17, 2011
NuScale Power’s president Paul Lorenzini will be one of 24 American company representatives on board next month when Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke visits India on a trade mission.
Also among the passengers will be officials from GE-Hitachi, the international partnership that is trying to revive GE’s sagging nuclear fortunes. “Exports are leading the U.S. economic recovery, spurring future economic growth and creating jobs in America,” Secretary Locke told The Hill. “The business leaders joining me on this mission see the great potential to sell their goods and services to India, helping drive innovation and create jobs in both countries.”
Packing nuclear experts aboard certainly makes sense. Although only a handful of reactors at best will be built in this country over the next decade, Asia is bursting with nuclear construction and India is near the head of the pack.
The Subcontinent plans to add 20 new reactors by 2020 and 43 more by 2032. All these are on the order of 1000 megawatts, but NuScale’s 45-megawatt modular reactor has tremendous promise for rural areas in India’s underdeveloped countryside.
While France, Japan, Korea and Russia now dominate world construction, the U.S. has at least a glimmer of a chance of gaining leverage in India. The opening occurred when the Bush Administration decided to overlook the Non-Proliferation Treaty and strike a deal with India on nuclear technology in 2006, even though India has still not signed the international agreement.
Russia already has a foothold in India, with two Rosatom WER-1000’s scheduled for completion this year. Russia will be supplying the uranium but India will do its own reprocessing, thereby adding to its plutonium stock.
Because the long international boycott blocked its access to world uranium, India has also developed a thorium technology that may lead the world in exploiting this alternate source of nuclear fuel. The country also has a small nuclear desalination plant at Kudankulam and is constructing a 500 MW fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam.
In fact, one thing Secretary Locke may discover is that, in terms of the nuclear market, India has as much to sell us as we have to sell them
Read more about it at the Hill and the Gazette Times
Friday, December 10th, 2010
December 10, 2010
From the Editorsâ€¨
â€¨In a measure of the growing enthusiasm for downsized nuclear, small modular reactors have been listed as Idea #18 on Time’s “20 Top Green Tech Ideas” of 2010.
â€¨“[T]here’s still a reluctance to build nuclear plants no new one has been constructed in the U.S. in decades and it goes beyond environmental concerns,” says Time, parroting standard anti-nuclear rhetoric. “Nuclear power plants are incredibly expensive investments, and right now few utilities would take on the financial risk of building one, or get banks to lend them the necessary capital, even with additional government aid. But what if you could shrink the size of a nuclear plant? That’s what companies like NuScale Power and Babcock & Wilcox are trying to do. By building a modular plant that might be a quarter the size of a the current multi-gigawatt operations, it’s possible to reduce the capital expenditures needed to start construction and cut the risk that would be associated with an accident. We may at last be approaching a time that nuclear goes nimble.”â€¨
Next to some of the other ideas on Time’s Top 20, SMRs’ credentials seem impressive. The 75-200 MW units being developed by Babcock & Wilcox, NuScale and Hyperion can run a small town of about 20,000 with a basement-sized unit. By contrast, the Solar Tower (idea #7) – which has been tried since the 1980s – can generate 10 MW on five square miles when the sun shines. A new rooftop windmill manufactured by Windtronics (Idea #13) can generate “nearly 3000 KWh a year with decent winds” – about enough electricity to run your VCR.
â€¨Still, it’s great to find nuclear in such rarified company.
Read more at Time Magazine
Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
December 2, 2010
From the Editorsâ€¨
Former Green Movement activist Patrick Moore was in South Carolina this week urging that the state make the Savannah River Site the nation’s experimental laboratory for developing small modular reactors. â€¨
“The irony is the nuclear Navy has been building small nuclear reactors for 50 years and yet they’ve never been brought into commercialization,” Moore told The Greenville News. “Islands such as Puerto Rico and Hawaii could deploy small nuclear reactors instead of burning oil to generate electricity as they do now.”
â€¨GE-Hitachi and Hyperion Power Generation have already consummated MOUs to pursue prototypes for their technologies and other SMR manufacturers are expressing similar interest. Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, is perhaps best known for reversing his early opposition to nuclear energy.â€¨â€¨
The great advantage of Savannah River – other than its general comfort level with nuclear technology – is that it much of the country’s leftover bomb material that could be reprocessed into nuclear fuel. “There are hundreds of years’ worth of fuel in those used fuel rods, hundreds of years,” Moore told The News. “One you recognize that used nuclear fuel is not a waste, but is rather a valuable energy resource, it changes the whole picture.”
â€¨â€¨South Carolina environmentalists have sounded the usual campaign about the state becoming “a dumping ground,” but so far it hasn’t had too much impact. There has been opposition to importing spent fuel from Europe but most activities on the Savannah River Site continue unimpeded.
Read more at the Greenville News
Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
December 1, 2010
From the Editors
Dr. Paul Farrell is president and CEO of Radix Power and Energy Corporation, a Long Island start-up that is marketing a small, modular reactor originally designed for the military that can be scaled down as low as 500 kilowatts. A physicist with more than 40 years experience in research and commercialization of nuclear and particle beam technology, he holds three patents in the field of accelerator design. In 2010, Dr. Farrell was inducted into the Long Island Tech Hall of Fame. In addition to his role with Radix, he also serves as President of Brookhaven Technology Group, Inc., an advanced technology research and development company, which he founded in 1987. We asked him about Radix’s small reactor.
NUCLEAR TOWNHALL: What is the Radix reactor and how does it operate?
DR. FARRELL: The Radix design, which we call DEER (Deployable Electric Energy Reactor), is a standard PWR type reactor with the pressurizer and steam generator located external to the core. We chose this design to meet the requirement that the system should be transportable using standard vehicles. The reactor pressure vessel is shielded with a 20 cm thick tungsten shield to protect against gamma radiation so that it can be transported away from the site after use. It is a sealed unit that can be refueled at a central location. The DEER reactor fuel is uranium zirconium hydride, the same type of fuel that is used in TRIGA research reactors. This fuel is chosen for its proven safety properties. It has a high thermal conductivity, high negative temperature coefficient and very fast thermal response. The power level of the DEER is designed to be variable over a 3-to-1 dynamic range.
NUCLEAR TOWNHALL: What led to the invention of the DEER?
DR. FARRELL: It was originally developed in a U.S. Army Small Business Innovation Research project in response to a solicitation for bids on a deployable energy systems for use at Forward Operating Bases. We studied several alternatives and the only one that made sense at the power levels requested was a nuclear-based system. It is a very controversial approach because nuclear power has its difficulties, but the political hazard of total reliance on fossil fuel and the cost in lives and dollars of running long logistical resupply lines through hostile territories made it worth considering.
The DEER reactor is the brainchild of Dr. James Powell, who was the Head of The Reactor Systems Division of the Department of Nuclear Energy at Brookhaven National Laboratory before he retired from there in 1995. This project got enthusiastic support from some individuals at BNL, although there was no formal connection with the Lab. As we develop the detailed final design, however, we will open up formal collaboration with the Lab.
NUCLEAR TOWNHALL: What are some of the uses you imagine for your reactor?
DR. FARRELL: Right now we are focused on electricity applications for specific off-grid applications. We’re looking at applications in remote areas in Northern Canada, Alaska, and of course, United States military bases and forward operating bases abroad.
NUCLEAR TOWNHALL: Have any prospective customers expressed interest to this point?
DR. FARRELL: Yes. Without that interest, we would not have gone to the time and expense of trying to commercialize what was initially a research project.
NUCLEAR TOWNHALL: Where do you stand now on a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission? Do you have a time schedule?
DR. FARRELL: At this time, we are paying close attention to the activities of the NRC and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission with regard to how they will respond to changes they need to address with regard to SMRs.
NUCLEAR TOWNHALL: Do you think the NRC is going to be able to pay enough attention to applications from small companies like Radix? Will applications from other companies with small reactors help?
DR. FARRELL: There is talk that NRC will find a way to issue a Manufacturing License that would enable a particular reactor design to be factory built according to a set plan instead of each reactor having to undergo its own individual licensing process. This makes good sense because it would allow the market to expand without sacrifice of safety. I am optimistic that by the time Radix is ready to approach the NRC, these adjustments will be worked out.
In regard to NRC applications from other companies, it’s always expensive and hard to be first in a new market. The efforts to obtain licenses by mPower and NuScale are forcing the NRC to address issues and rebalance certain long-standing rules to take into account the different scale of the small reactors. I think the changes made by NRC that are generic to SMRs will be very helpful to Radix and other companies seeking license for SMRs.
NUCLEAR TOWNHALL: How much do you expect to have to spend on a licensing application? Where does that money come from? Are you looking for investors?
DR. FARRELL: Radix does not have a budget yet for the cost to get an NRC license. I expect our first unit will be configured to operate in the range of 1 to 10 MWe. If we use the often quoted selling price range of $6000 to $8000 per kW, the price of the system would be $6 million to $80 million, depending on the final operating specification of the complete system. I have been told the price to license a design will be $50 million and the annual licensing fees another $4.7 million. If that is true, we’ll be stopped dead in our tracks. We’re hoping a solution will be found so that once a standard design is licensed, it won’t be necessary to pay the entire license fee each time a new project is implemented.
Radix is currently looking for investors to stand up the company and support the ongoing engineering, marketing and licensing efforts. We believe we have the customers and the technology to be the first SMR to the market at the lowest cost. If we accomplish this, markets will open globally.
NUCLEAR TOWHALL: Several principals in small reactor companies have said they might have more luck at this point trying to market their reactors abroad. Hyperion has just joined a consortium of European companies, for instance, in exploring nuclear-powered ocean-going commercial vessels. Is that a possibility for you?
DR. FARRELL: The need for energy solutions has no borders, but for now, Radix is focused on markets in North America. We’re familiar with the regulatory issues and other cultural aspects and most important, we have identified a customer base that has a dire need for the solution we’re providing.
NUCLEAR TOWNHALL: Does it worry you at all that nuclear technology seems to be progressing so rapidly in other countries while it’s stalled here at home?
Yes, it is a worry for all technologies, not just nuclear. Everyone knows that the politics and the legal and financial climate in this country have produced total stagnation. Nuclear power, high-speed rail, medical health are all stalled here because there is no leadership, no longer any sense of national purpose. I am optimistic that our nation will soon gain a sense of reality and change things for the better. The nuclear power industry began in the U.S.A. The SMR market is global. We have a chance to regain a leading role in nuclear energy that would create jobs and exports. Other countries including China, Japan, Korea and Argentina have SMR designs and they are marketing them worldwide. We will either be players or we will be spectators. I think we will be players.
NUCLEAR TOWNHALL: Thanks very much for your time.
Monday, November 15th, 2010
November 15, 2010
Hyperion Power, the New Mexico designer of a 65-megawatt small modular reactor, has signed an agreement with Lloyd’s Register of Ships and Greek-owned Enterprises Shipping and Trade to try to develop a nuclear-powered, ocean-going commercial vessel.
“We are enthusiastic about participating in the historic opportunity," said John R. ‘Grizz’ Deal, the CEO of Hyperion. “This is a truly groundbreaking effort.”
"This a very exciting project," echoed Richard Sadler, CEO of Lloyd’s Register. "As society recognizes the limited choices that are available in a low carbon, oil-scarce economy we will see nuclear ships sooner than many currently anticipate."
The agreement was signed this morning in the Athens offices of Enterprise Shipping and Trading. “We are extremely honored and proud to be part of this consortium at this historic event,” said Victor Restis, CEO of the Restis Group, which owns Enterprise. “We strongly believe that alternative power generation is the answer for the shipping transportation.”
Nuclear engines have powered submarines for 50 years and aircraft carriers for the last 25. On the other hand, makers of commercial reactors have concentrated on large power plants. In the past decade, however, almost a dozen small companies around the world have started development of small modular reactors in the 25-to-150-megawatt range.
Because of the tremendous success of ocean-going military vessels, it seemed logical that someone would eventually propose using nuclear engines in commercial vessels as well. "Nuclear propulsion offers the opportunity for an emissions-free alternative to fossil fuel, while delivering ancillary benefits and security to the maritime industry," said Dr Phil Thompson, Sector Director for Transport of the BMT Group, a British company that is the fourth member of the consortium. "We look forward to providing a framework for the introduction of safe and reliable SMRs into the civilian maritime environment.”
Hyperion, founded in 2005, is based on the work of Dr. Otis Peterson, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists who invented a small, 65-MW reactor in the lab. The Hyperion SMR is still the intellectual property of Los Alamos but Hyperion Power Generation, Inc. has a license to develop it commercially.
Grizz Deal, who was entrepreneur-in-residence at Los Alamos, has served as CEO since the founding. Hyperion has proposed using its 65-MW reactor as “building blocks” for flexibly built commercial power plants and for a variety of novel uses, such as purification of water, sewage treatment and powering remote mining and industrial facilities. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently met with Hyperion to discuss a licensing schedule.
Lloyd’s Shipping Register is not to be confused with Lloyd’s of London, the insurance giant, but draws its name from the same 18th century London coffeehouse where both were founded. Lloyd’s Register, in business for 250 years, is a maritime classification society and risk management organization that provides risk assessment, mitigation services and management systems certification. In the late 20th century, Lloyd’s Register diversified out of its tradition shipping interests and expanded into oil and gas and the nuclear and rail industries.
Enterprise Shipping and Trading is one of Greece’s leading shipping firms, with 50 vessels, including reefers, container vessels, bulk carriers and tankers, in its fleet. The company is also involved in technical ship management services and new-building consultancy.
BMT Nigel Gee, the other British participant, is a Southampton-based maritime architectural firm that has created designs for everything from yachts to naval craft to commercial vessels.
The agreement provided ample evidence that American companies may still be able to participate in the breakout of nuclear development that is currently penetrating the globe. Although American companies have significant competition in baseload power plant technology, many people – including Secretary of Energy Steven Chu – believe that American enterprise and research ability may be able to create a market niche in smaller reactors.
“In addition to fitting the basic requirements for commercial naval propulsion,” said Grizz Deal, CEO of Hyperion, “the Hyperion Power Module may be able to set new standards for the use of nuclear power in maritime shipping.
Thursday, November 11th, 2010
In an adroit step backwards, the Tennessee Valley Authority has chosen the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s old two-step licensing procedure in a bid to construct the first models of Babcock & Wilcox’s mPower modular reactor.
“TVA spokesman Terry Johnson said the utility is using the two-step licensing approach to allow more flexibility for TVA and the manufacturers of the mPower reactor to change the way the plant is designed and built over the next decade,” says this report by Dave Flessner in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Under the single combined operating license, the NRC must pre-approve the design and construction method for any new plant before any building work begins.”
The two-step process also suggests that the TVA may be able to move the application more quickly through the NRC, since the initial construction license will be a simpler affair. The NRC implemented the one-step construction-and-operating licensing process in 1992 after environmental groups bankrupted several utilities by opposing opening of the reactor after the utility had invested billions of dollars in building it. The COL allows the utility to obtain an operating license before breaking ground – although the process has never been tested and opposition groups are bound to drag it through the courts anyway.
Anti-nuclear advocates are already lining up to criticize the small modular reactors, which many believe represents the future of the nuclear industry. "We are highly skeptical that these modular designs are going to deliver as promised," Stephen Smith, executive director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, told the Times Free Press. "There is a whole set of issues that are likely to be raised about these plants so TVA, the NRC and the contractors should expect a real fight." Who would have guessed?
Nonetheless, the TVA effort holds the promise that SMRs may soon move off the drawing boards. TVA plans to build two of B&W’s 125-megawatt, factory-built reactors on the site of the old Clinch River Breeder Reactor, another promising technology that was halted by the Carter Administration.
Industry and utility officials are hopeful that the piecemeal strategy of SMRs will prove easier to manage than full-scale, on-site-constructed 1,500-MW reactors. "Any time you can do a lot of work in a factory environment, you have a lot more control on schedule and costs," said Rick Bonsall, vice president of B&W.
Read more at the Chattanooga Times Free Press
Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
Fred Hemmings is an unlikely champion of nuclear energy. The World Surfing Champion of 1968, he won several other international competitions, earning a place in the Surfing and State of Hawaii Halls of Fame. (That’s him in the photo on our front page.) He also had a bent for business, winning the Top Ten Businessmen’s Award from the Honolulu Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1969. Hemmings became a sports commentator on ABC “Wide World of Sports,” a founder of pro surfing and the producer of the world famous Triple Crown of Surfing competition. He has written several books and hosted a radio talk show. In 1984 he entered politics, becoming a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives and eventually a Republican floor leader. After ten years of being “cured of politics,” he took a breather, only to dive back in again in 2000, winning a seat in the State Senate, where he eventually became Senate Republican leader as well. This year he finally retired from politics but continues to advocate on a few subjects, particularly small modular reactors. At last month’s at Infocast Conference on SMR’s, Senator Hemmings distinguished himself when a representative from the Department of Energy, in speaking on SMRs, asserted, “No one is going to go around the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.” “I beg to differ,” responded Senator Hemmings. “This country is run by the Congress, not the NRC.”
We asked him this week how he became such a passionate devotee of nuclear energy:
NTH: What’s the basis of your enthusiasm about nuclear energy? When did it start? What got you into it?
HEMMINGS: Hawaii is in dire straits with highest priced electricity and most dependence on fossil fuels. I believe SMRs, a newly developing technology, is THE solution. Hence my quest to restructure the NRC with laws that mandate expeditious, two-year licensing, adequate funding to get the job done, and allowance for recycling waste. This has to be done in Congress, hence my national effort. It is important to note that SMRs could liberate the nation from fossil fuels.
NTH: As a state senator in Hawaii, you wouldn’t seem to have much opportunity to legislation with relation to nuclear power. What are the possibilities of developing anything out there?
HEMMINGS: I hope the military can lead the way in Pearl Harbor. We have the highest concentration of nuclear reactors in the world. They are called nuclear submarines. They have a perfect safety record. My idea is to have the Navy develop nuclear energy ships that can be plugged into. “Energy ships” would have enough excess capacity to energize electric cars and desalinate water at military ports around the world…
NTH: As a volcanic island, Hawaii has developed one of the world’s largest complexes of geothermal energy. Somehow this always gets categorized as “solar energy.” Is anyone out there aware that geothermal energy is actually the nuclear radioactive heat of the earth?
HEMMINGS: Hawaii ONLY generates 30 MW of electricity from geothermal despite the potential for at least 1000 MW. Back in the eighties I was a big advocate of geothermal on the Big Isle, which has active volcanoes. The entire initiative yielded to errant alleged “environmental organizations” (really more anti-capitalist than environmental), local activists and the “just say no” syndrome that is plaguing all the Islands. Geothermal is good but only viable on the Big Isle (Hawaii.)
NTH: What’s the general reaction within the Hawaii State Legislature to nuclear? Do you have a renewable mandate? Did anyone try to include nuclear? Are people talking about covering those islands with windmills?
HEMMINGS: It is interesting to note that even the Federated Island states of Micronesia have adopted pro SMR legislation while, with few exceptions, leaders in Hawaii are mute and even afraid to broach the subject. Wind mills can be beneficial BUT…they along with solar do not provide firm capacity. They are land- intensive and can only be placed in select areas. We are putting in wind farms at certain sites in Hawaii, which I support. Let me make it clear that wind and solar cannot be the comprehensive solution because they are not firm capacity and the cost of electricity is too high.
NTH: In your experience, what’s the biggest obstacle to convincing people that nuclear holds the solution to our environmental problems? Do you see any movement among those people who are concerned about global warming?
HEMMINGS: The obstacle is a “public relations” problem. The American people are very smart collectively IF they get all the factual information. Proponents of SMRs must join with enlightened environmentalists and all others advocates in promoting that SMRs are safe, have no carbon emissions, are most affordable, can liberate our country from dependency and can fuel electric cars, desalinization much more. Fossil fuels energized the industrial era in the last century. SMRs must be the fuel of the technological revolution of the 21st. century. The good news is there are an increasing number of respected environmentalists that are seeing the wisdom of nuclear energy.
NTH: Do you have any concern about how the rest of the world seems to be pulling away from us on nuclear technology? What will be the significance if we wake up in 20 years and find India, China and Russia have gone far beyond us on nuclear while we’re still playing with windmills?
HEMMINGS: This is precisely why I as state legislator from a small state in the middle of the vast Pacific became a big proponent of SMRs and making them a national priority.
NTH: Realistically, if small reactors become bogged down in licensing procedures and Russia, Korea and Japan are beating us once again in the world market, does there seem to be any reasonable way of speeding up procedures at the NRC?
HEMMINGS: BIG YES. Congress must pass legislation that would mandate the NRC to expedite licensing while providing enough funding to do so. The legislation must also encourage recycling as is so successfully done in France. We cannot allow the fourth branch of government, the recalcitrant bureaucracy, to maintain the status quo.
NTH: On another subject, tell us your best surfing story. Did you ever encounter one of those 30 story waves?
HEMMINGS: Yes…I was a wild man surfer way before extreme sports. I was lucky to survive my youth.
(See attached photo of Hemmings as a young surfer.)
NTH: Thanks very much for your time.