Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Review of Heritage Foundation’s “Powering America”
By William Tucker
The Heritage Foundation has decided to keep abreast of the generation that doesn’t read anymore by producing a 40-minute documentary, “Powering America,” touting the virtues of nuclear energy. It probably won’t be playing soon at a theater near you but the film will make a powerful tool for policy groups trying to convince Americans that nuclear must be part of our energy future.
“Base load power” – that’s the message “Powering America” conveys and we’re going to need plenty of it. Even the most conservative predictions say we’ll need at least 25 percent more electricity by 2035 – which happens to be the exact time when our current generation of reactors, built in the 1970s and 1980s, will be reaching retirement. So it’s not just a matter of providing more electricity. We’re going to have to replace the 20 percent of our electricity that nuclear energy already provides. It’s a big task and building one or two new reactors per decade – the rate we’re currently achieving – isn’t going to come close to solving the problem.
So what’s holding us up? Mostly fear of radiation and accidents. On radiation, the Heritage filmmakers note, most people are inclined to think it was invented in 1945 with the introduction of atomic weapons. In fact radiation is just energy in motion. It constantly bombards us on all sides. Next to what we absorb from outer space, from rocks, from food, from our own bones, the radiation emanating from a nuclear reactor is less than trivial. Living next to a reactor for fifty years would give you about the equivalent of one dental x-ray.
“Powering America” illustrates all this with real people and that’s the film’s great strength. We meet hardhat workers, male and female, who have spent their lives in the nuclear industry and know the score. As with everyone who gets close to the technology, they both understand both the dangers and appreciate the excruciating care the industry takes in dealing with them. They are not afraid. We meet Abby Rodriguez, a dosimeter specialist at Plant Vogtle who says she hasn’t picked up a trace of radiation exposure in 2-1/2 years of work. We meet Daniel and Dani Hackman, a couple who have run Red Hill Farm within sight of the cooling towers of Three Mile Island for a generation and have no worries. “There was a guy here yesterday who wanted to take samples – they come every couple of weeks,” they say. “If there was something in the atmosphere, they would definitely find it in the plants. But they’ve never found anything.”
Things being what they are, however, “Powering America” feels compelled to take on the three major accidents – Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island – and that occupies much of the film’s time. It’s a reassuring walk-through but after fifteen minutes you begin to wonder whether there is anything to nuclear energy except potential accidents. But host John L. King eventually gets around to explaining the tremendous advantages of nuclear – mainly its incredible energy density. One fuel pellet the size of a pencil eraser produces as much energy as 150 gallons of gasoline, a ton of coal or17, 000 cubic feet of natural gas. And don’t even think about wind and sunshine. Matching the output of just one nuclear reactor – as Jim Hopson of the TVA’s Watts Bar station tells us – would require covering the Great Smokey Mountains National Park with 45-story windmills.
“Powering America’s” great strength is that it introduces us to the forgotten players in the nuclear debate – the men and women who work with it every day. Who else could be more knowledgeable about its benefits, more informed about its assiduous safety measures? Strangely enough, though, I think the film could have benefitted by giving a little camera time to some of the more highly exaggerated and uninformed personalities of the anti-nuclear movement. What better contrast with the sober, ground-level assessments of nuclear workers than Pete Seeger glibly telling us that a nuclear reactor can blow up at any moment, Dr. Ernest Sternglass recounting the thousands of babies who have been murdered by reactors or noted renewable energy advocate Mark Z. Jacobson of Berkeley recounting how it doesn’t matter if the wind doesn’t blow all the time because somewhere the sun may be shining.
But these are minor quibbles. The important thing is that Heritage has taken the common-sense case for nuclear energy and turned it into a glossy, contemporary documentary that will have something to say to people of all persuasions.
Friday, March 4th, 2011
March 4, 2011
Egypt may not have a government but it is determined to have its first nuclear reactor.
Electricity Minister Hassan Younis announced this week that the Nuclear Stations Authority will convene shortly to discuss tendering an offer for bids to construction the Dabaa Nuclear Power Station on the Mediterranean cost.
“The instability in Egypt has delayed the tender for the country’s first nuclear power plant,” reports the Global Arab Network. “The tender process, due in January, has been delayed to ‘guarantee the greatest number of companies’ from different countries take part to ensure ‘real competition,’” the Network said, quoting Egypt’s state-owned newspaper.
Egypt has signed an agreement that makes the Russians the principle technological advisor on the four new reactors, but is opening the bidding to all entrants to get the best price.
The country’s original nuclear plans were canceled in 1986 after the Chernobyl accident. Former President Hosni Mubarak revived the effort in 2007, putting the project under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In one of his last acts as President, Mubarak announced the al-Dabaa site to the public last August. Mubarak was ousted from power last month by popular protests. The military has taken temporary control of the country, pending efforts to establish a constitutional democratic government.
Read more about it at the Global Arab Network
Friday, March 4th, 2011
March 4, 2011
Intergraph, a Huntsville, Alabama company specializing in engineering and geospatial software, has won the contract to provide its technology to China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation for 16 Westinghouse AP1000 reactors now under construction.â€¨
â€¨The company’s SmartPlant Enterprise system will engineering, 3D design and data management, according to a company press release. The result will be increased productivity, greater safety and accelerated construction schedules.
“SNPTC’s selection of Intergraph is validation that our solutions can meet the most challenging design and engineering projects in the world, especially in the nuclear power arena and rapidly developing economies such as China,” said Gerhard Sallinger, Intergraph Process, Power & Marine president. “We are confident that SNPTC will see productivity and quality gains with our solutions to help them meet their project schedules as their sub-companies already have.”â€¨ â€¨
Intergraph’s success marked the only American participation in China’s effort. Alstom of France won the contract to provide emergency diesel generators, in partnership with Shaanxi Diesel Heavey Industry of China. Alstom will also be installing water purification equipment. Most of the equipment will be manufactured in China by the Alstom Wuhan Engineering Technology Company. â€¨
â€¨China currently has plans to build 28 AP1000 on 12 sites. The Russians are building Tianwan 5 and 6 but all other reactors will be China’s own design, the CPR-1000, developed from French units imported in the 1990s. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is still laboring to approve the design of the AP1000, first submitted in 2004. â€¨
â€¨Although an American company founded in 1969, Intergraph was wholly acquired by Hexagon AB, a Swedish firm, in 2010.
Read more about it at the Intergraph blog
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
March 3, 2011
Korea took another step forward in becoming one of the world’s premier developers of nuclear power by bringing its 21st reactor on line this week at Shin Kori. The opening will push Korea over the 50 percent mark for generating nuclear electricity, a figure exceeded only by France among countries in the business of building reactors.
Korea will be celebrating its nuclear progress this week when President Lee Myung-bak visits the United Arab Emirates, where Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) will soon be building four 1,500-MW reactors, the largest nuclear construction project in history. (Read today’s story.)
Shin Kori 1 is a 1000-MW unit begun in January 2005 and taking six years to complete. The cost is estimated at $2.2 billion – extremely cheap compared to the $5-8 billion estimates for reactors planned in the United States. Construction costs are kept low by Korea’s indigenous supply chain and by a lack of adversarial relations with the government. The Shin Kori projects used reactor vessels forged at Japan Steel Works but Doosan, the Korean steel giant, is just completing a 17,000-ton forge that will be the largest in the world, further adding to Korea’s advantages.
Korea’s nuclear capacity now stands at 38 percent but because reactors run much more efficiently than other generating sources, nuclear will supply at least 50 percent of its electricity. France stands at 80 percent and Belgium, which buys much of its power from France, is near 60 percent. Slovakia, the Ukraine and Sweden all get close to 50 percent of their electricity from nuclear but none of these countries are marketing their own reactors on the world market.
Read more at: Bernama.com
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
February 23, 2011
Great Britain may soon join the countries showing the United States how to have a nuclear revival. The British press reports that government regulatory are close to approving the Westinghouse AP1000, a design that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been laboring over for almost six years.
“Work on assessing Areva SA’s (CEI.FR) and Westinghouse Electric Co.’s nuclear reactor designs for operation in the U.K. hasn’t identified any showstoppers so far,” reports Dow Jones. “U.K. nuclear regulatory bodies are on track to issue interim design acceptance at the end of June, they said Tuesday in a quarterly report.”
An interim acceptance would allow additional design work but construction of any new reactors would still have to wait for final approval from the authorities. Still, the British authorities seem to be avoiding the issues that have sidetracked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Final approval of the AP1000 has been delayed for several years by attempts to protect it from aerial attack. The NRC was apparently unconvinced by a 1990s DOE test that showed an F-4 fighter jet traveling at 500 mph would be atomized in a collision with a containment structure wall.
“The U.K., which is in the midst of a big revival of nuclear power to replace aging coal and nuclear plants that are closing while also meeting climate change targets, is trying to avoid a repeat of delays and cost overruns in Finland where Areva is constructing what was supposed to be Europe’s first new EPR,” says Dow Jones. So far they seem to be succeeding.
Both the Vogtle project in Georgia and the SCAN site in South Carolina are currently awaiting design approval of the AP1000. The NRC has projected it may reach a decision by the end of this year
Read more about it at Fox Business.
Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Official Press Release Follows:
20 January 2011
For Immediate Release
Contact: Bruce Landrey
NuScale Power, Inc.
Investment Firm’s Issues Stall NuScale Power’s Progress
Corvallis, OR – A Securities & Exchange Commission civil action against affiliates of the Michael Kenwood Group, NuScale Power, Inc.’s principal investor, has prevented the firm from meeting fund obligations to NuScale and has forced NuScale to reduce its spending.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of these proceedings, NuScale is stopping work on contract activities and taking other precautionary actions pending decisions by the Court hearing the complaint.
The SEC has not made any allegations of improper activities by NuScale, and NuScale is not a party in the SEC action.
NuScale Power is developing an inherently safe, modular, scalable light water reactor technology for use in nuclear power plants. Its standard design is for a power plant that can produce up to 540 megawatts of electricity using 12 NuScale reactor modules. The technology is being widely-embraced by industry and the US Department of Energy. The company currently has operations in Corvallis and Portland, OR, and Richland WA.
“NuScale has made phenomenal progress and achieved tremendous momentum,” said Paul Lorenzini, PhD, president and chief executive officer. “The company has assembled the best talent in the industry and our people have made unbelievable progress developing the technology and working with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to secure Federal approval for the design,” he said.
Lorenzini said that since NuScale’s formation in 2007, it has met or exceeded every milestone. “It is tragic that we have been forced to suspend operations and it is a tremendous setback for efforts to bring clean energy systems to the market,” he added.
Lorenzini said NuScale is pursuing alternative financing strategies and hopes the company can resume operations as soon as possible. NuScale has raised approximately $35 million in venture capital to date.
Monday, January 17th, 2011
January 17, 2011
Los Angeles Power has achieved its 20 percent renewable electricity goal for 2010 at the cost of paying higher electrical rates – just in time for the arrival of electric cars.
"We went from worst to first and quadrupled our renewable energy portfolio in a few short years, while also keeping our rates lower than other major utilities," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told the Los Angeles Daily News at a press conference this week. The city’s Department of Water and Power achieved its goal mainly by acquiring two large wind farms, one in the Mojave Desert and one in Utah. Wind now accounts for 47 percent of the city’s renewable power, hydroelectricity 30 percent, geothermal and biofuels 22 percent and solar electricity 1 percent, or .2 percent of the entire electrical bill.
Villaraigosa’s claim of lower rates appears to be only in comparison to other California utilities. The Golden State already pays 35 percent more for electricity than the national average and expensive renewable sources will push this upward. "I think everyone in this room is smart enough to understand there’s no such thing as a free lunch," Austin Beutner, the DWP’s interim general manager, told the Daily News.
Meanwhile, a study just released by Purdue University shows that owners of the new all-electric vehicles, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, will see their electric bills climb 60 percent when they start charging their cars overnight. One problem is a two-tiered system installed in recent years to discourage electrical use by charging big customers higher rates. Owners of electric vehicles will now fall into the high-use category.
"The tiered system was put in because California wanted to be green and discourage electricity consumption," Wally Tyner, author of the Purdue study, told the Los Angeles Times. "The unintended consequence is that it also discourages electric vehicles." Tyner said that oil would have to reach $171 a barrel before the Volt would become economical, even with thousands of dollars in government incentives. "Once past the highly motivated early adopters who don’t care how much they pay to run their cars, charging costs in California will make it hard to go to market with the general consumer," Tyner told the Times.
And so, as predicted in “Gresham’s Law of Green Energy,” published in the current issue of Regulation, the cost of mandating renewable energy is going to be rising electrical rates. As DPW head Beutner put it: "The benefit of a cleaner, more sustainable environment is something that we’re going to have to pay for — it’s not free.”
Read more about it at the Daily News and the Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
December 29, 2010
The call to battle went out yesterday across the land as conservative editorials warned of the impending confrontation between The Lone Star State and the Environmental Protection Administration over carbon emissions."While most of America was unwrapping their Christmas presents, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was staring at a lump of coal the Environmental Protection Agency put in his state’s stocking," said Investors Business Daily.
"We look forward to the open debate [in Congress]," wrote the Orange Country Register, "which will be an opportunity to stem the frantic rush to solve the global warming nonproblem, while exposing the shaky science behind climate alarmism and informing the public of its actual costs."
"The EPA action invites charges of unsanctioned, unwarranted government intrusion and usurpation of states’ rights, especially in regard to Texas," said the Corpus Christie Caller. The American Spectator called it "the opening shot of the War Between the Red and Blue States."
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s actions did indeed constitute an extraordinary departure from previous precedents. Normally states are given three years to come up with implementation plans when the EPA announces a new regulatory goal. But Jackson decided last August that the global warming crisis was too serious for such a leisurely schedule. She announced implementation would begin on January 2, 2011 instead.
When Texas balked at the accelerated pace, she ruled last week that EPA would take over permitting of new construction – which probably means putting a hold on 167 major projects. Ironically, all this occurred during a week when the East Coast was being hit by a two-foot blizzard. Last Friday a Boston weather consultant, writing on the op-ed page of The New York Times, said the result of global warming might actually be more severe cold and wintry weather around the world and that it might be time to go back and retool the computer models.
One way or another, it looks like carbon emissions in Texas are going to be one of the first orders of business when the 112th Congress convenes next week
Monday, December 27th, 2010
December 27, 2010
It was December 27th of last year that the United Arab Emirates chose Korea to build its $20 billion, four-reactor project in the desert. One year later to the day the Koreans proudly announced they have begun construction work.
“Since the conclusion of the contract, the UAE people’s perception of Korea here has completely changed,” task force leader Lee Heung-joo tells The Dong-a Ilbo, the Korean English-language daily. “Staff at an airport asked Koreans whether they came for the construction of the power plants.”
"A combined 1,043 Korean workers, including employees of KEPCO, Korean construction companies and other workers residing in the UAE, are working on the nuclear plant project," the website adds proudly.
The four reactors, to be built in Braka, 270 kilometers south of the capital of Abu Dhabi, are scheduled for completion between 2017 and 2020. The work force is eventually expected to grow to 12,000. Most of the task force will come from Korea. KEPCO, the nation’s major utility, is the prime contractor but Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, Hyundai Construction & Engineering, and Samsung C&T, all Korean countries, are all participating.
The work begun today only involves preliminary site clearance, but the Koreans are already moving their formidable industrial teams into place. “Before starting full-fledged construction, we are preparing to build infrastructure such as electricity, telecommunications and roads," KEPCO told Dong-a Ilbo. “The construction of the nuclear power plants is a massive project that will take almost 10 years."
The Koreans won their contract in the Gulf based on the reputation they had established for getting things done on time and on budget. So far, it looks like they are going to maintain their reputation.
Read more at Dong-A Ilbo
Friday, December 17th, 2010
December 17, 2010
From the Editorsâ€¨
The New York Times’ “Green Blog” is always on the edge of abandoning objectivity in the interest of becoming a cheerleader for global warming enthusiasts and watchdog against those who question the prevailing dogma.â€¨
â€¨Today John Collins Rudolf reports breathlessly of a Fox News email leaked to Media Matters in which Washington bureau chief Bill Sammon told on-air reporters to be skeptical about global warming during in the “Climategate” controversy last December.
â€¨ â€¨“Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data… we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question,” Sammon wrote last December. The Climategate controversy had just broken and world delegates were meeting in Copenhagen hoping to hammer out an extension of the Kyoto Protocol. The effort was unsuccessful.
â€¨Only in the hallowed halls of climate orthodoxy would such a memo be viewed as reprehensible. The East Anglia emails revealed considerable effort to keep climate skeptics out of professional journals and the enthusiasts’ Exhibit A – the notorious “hockey stick” – has now been almost completely abandoned.â€¨
“Green Blog” maintains this gentle undercurrent of partisanship in almost every entry. In reproducing how Senator James Inhofe’s sent a video message to supporters in Cancun this month, John M. Broder remarks, “Mr. Inhofe was his usual understated self.” When White House science advisor John Holdren started a campaign last September to change the term “climate change” to “climate disruption,” Green Blog’s story was that Fox News had described the effort as “rebranding.” When someone sent out a fraudulent press release on Koch Industry stationery last week saying the prominent climate critics were withdrawing financial support from prominent conservative think tanks, Green Blog called it a harmless “spoof” and commented, “If we had to guess, we’d say that the Web site and press release bear the imprimatur of the Yes Men, a group of guerrilla satirists with a penchant for lampooning industrial and corporate targets.” Reporter Tom Zeller sealed the deal by observing that Greenpeace is “taking a hard look” at Koch Industries.â€¨
Just as fish are unaware they swim in water, so the Green Bloggers stare out of their fishbowl and marvel at the strange world outside.
Read more about it at the New York Times’ Green blog