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Posts Tagged ‘Good News Monday’


Monday, September 13th, 2010

The small modular revolution may be gaining traction. After years of frustration, Hyperion Power Generation of California has secured a memorandum of understanding that could lead to building a demonstration model of its 75-MW small modular reactor (SMR) at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Hyperion, and spin-off from the Sandia National Laboratory, has had a gazebo-sized reactor on the drawing boards since 2006 but has been frustrated by the uncertainty of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensee review.

The NRC has since tried to initiate some new procedures, however, approval of SMRs is seen by most analysts as still five-to-ten years away. 

“This is one of the first in a series of steps that can put this region in an active role toward transforming America’s energy future,” said Garry Flowers, CEO of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, which operates SRNL under contract from the DOE. “Small and modular reactors can become the primary base of new, clean power for the world. SRS is an ideal place to develop and demonstrate this exciting technology.”

Senator Lamar Alexander has also suggested that Babcock & Wilcox could demonstrate its SMR by building one to power the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. At present, Oak Ridge – a leading nuclear research center since the Manhattan Project – is powered almost entirely by coal.

Read more at NEI Magazine


Monday, August 9th, 2010

The British revival of nuclear appeared to move back on course this week as Energy Secretary Chris Huhne assured the country in a radio interview that the nation’s first new reactor would be on line by 2018. The recent change in government had cast the nuclear renaissance in doubt.

Huhne, a member of the small Liberal Democrat portion of the new coalition government, had been perceived as anti-nuclear when he took the job. But in an interview with the BBC, Huhne assured listeners that his views had “always been much misunderstood.”  He said his only previous view had been that private investors had lost interest in nuclear after Three Mile Island.

Huhne’s interviewer was openly skeptical that a new reactor could be opened by 2018, particularly since Huhne couldn’t even name the site. “You can’t even tell me at this stage in the second half of in 2010 where it’s going to be?” he queried. “Well there are a number of sites that have been identified around the country and those are generally on sites where we previously have nuclear power stations and where the local people are very keen that there should be new nuclear built. We have to get through all the prior arrangements and then building can commence,” Huhne replied. “It’s very clear because of what’s happening on the oil and gas price and on the carbon price that there is going to be new investment in nuclear,” he added. “We have absolutely no intention of the lights going out on my watch.”

The previous Labour government’s plans for building ten new reactors in the next decade were thrown into doubt when Conservative Party leader David Cameron was asked to form a new government after the closely contested May election. In Britain, Conservatives are generally anti-nuclear because of the costs. Nick Clegg’s Liberal Party, which provided the swing votes needed to form a majority, is not particularly pro-nuclear either. But apparently the realities of energy have sunk in quickly with the new government. Huhne boosted renewables, complaining that the new majority had “inherited one of the lowest levels of renewables of any government in Europe.” But he said that nuclear would be “an important part of the energy mix."

Read more at the BBC


Monday, July 26th, 2010

Senator George Voinovich, a dedicated nuclear supporter, may be retiring but he is determined to leave nuclear energy with a label that could mean the difference in whether or not reactors get built – “clean energy.”

Voinovich is anticipating what many other observers are as well – that when the “limited” energy bill reaches the floor of the Senate this week, Democrats will quickly try to amend it with a “renewable energy standard” that will set the nation on a fallacious path of mandating wind and solar energy to the exclusion of everything else.

Voinovich would change the “renewable” standard to a “clean” standard that would include carbon-free nuclear. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and a few Northwestern Senators are moving to have large hydroelectric dams included as a “clean” source as well. Environmentalist activists are expected to urge opposition to both motions.

How advocates ended up supporting “renewable energy” as a panacea for climate change is something of a mystery. The original intent was to reduce carbon emissions, so carbon-free energy should be the standard. But instead, the concept of “renewable” took over, even though it is not the same thing. As a result, substituting wood for coal could be deemed “renewable” and part of the mandate – even though it produces more carbon emissions and threatens forests. (Massachusetts is currently trying to undo its wood-burning mandate.)

In addition, wind and solar account for less than 7 percent of our carbon-free energy while nuclear accounts for 70 percent (and hydro provides 23 percent). Without encouraging nuclear construction there isn’t much hope of reducing carbon emissions.

Last week Voinovich introduced his “legacy” legislation (S. 3618) that would provide incentives and investment in new build including needed infrastructure while encouraging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to accelerate the licensing process. The bill is not given any chance of passing in this Congress.  But Voinovich’s move to have nuclear declared “clean energy” may get a much better hearing.