Most people thinking about energy policy in Europe tend to focus on the renewable power the continent generates. While it is certainly true that many European countries have made enormous strides in renewable energy generation, there is another fuel source that is unusually important in many European countries compared to the rest of the world; nuclear power.
Sweden is a prime example of this. The country generates almost 35 percent of its electricity from nuclear power – just shy of the amount that it generates from all renewable sources combined. It was big news and more than a little surprising then when Swedish utility company Vattenfall announced earlier this year it was closing its Ringhals 1 and 2 nuclear reactors.
The company shut down the reactors in response to a combination of relatively low wholesale power prices and the announcement by the Swedish government that taxes on nuclear power would increase starting in August. Nuclear power is in fact a greener technology than conventional renewables.
The shutdown of nuclear reactors can even lead to more carbon emissions and of course higher electricity prices as supply of wholesale electricity declines and remaining conventional fossil fuel plants find that it is more profitable to ramp up output.
That issue aside though, Vattenhall’s decision highlights an under-the-radar industry disruption taking place around the world. Sweden has been a bit dubious of nuclear power for decades, but the current shutdown is an economic decision as much as a political one. As governments around the world have opted to subsidize renewable power while taxing other forms of power, renewable supplies have increased. This supply increase in turn has pushed down wholesale power prices, which has led to lower profits for conventional utility companies. Then as renewable use has expanded, production costs have fallen dramatically leading to still more investment in renewables, greater supply and even more pain for utility compa
For a nuclear "renaissance" in the US we need to get construction costs down by removing the regulatory burden and we need a place to ship spent fuel.
Maybe after the next election we can designate one of the Hawaiian Islands...
Of course "spent" fuel isn't really "spent". A breeder reactor would happily run on it for years to come. Let's hope the next president reverses the Carter-era mistake that outlawed fuel-efficient reactors
We can reallocate the money from solar, wind, and ethanol subsidies.
For Centrus to succeed, SWU costs have to increase and they have to complete the ACP. Here's the expected demand growth for nuclear power:
The global nuclear reactor construction market is expected to rise by 5.22 percent during the 2014-2019 period, announced analytic firm Research and Markets on Tuesday.
Nuclear construction siteThe global value of the market rose by nearly $1.5 billion in from 2013 to 2014, climbing from $32.64 billion in 2013 to $34.13 billion in 2014, according to the newly published “Global Nuclear Reactor Construction Market 2015-2019” report.
“The analysts forecast the global nuclear reactor construction market to grow at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 5.22 percent during 2014-2019,” the report says.
The market size is calculated based on the investment in the market and does not include costs associated with the maintenance and service of nuclear reactors.
Uranium miners hit especially hard
LEU -1.53% $3.85
URRE -7.17% $0.8539
UEC -6.40% $1.17
DNN -5.85% $0.4896
CCJ -2.18% $13.88
URZ 0.00% $1.05
Power Companies In Japan Expected To Spend $24B On Nuclear Plant Upgrades
Eleven power companies in Japan are expected to spend $24 billion on safety upgrades at their Japanese nuclear power plants, according to a report published by The Japan Times. The figures, which come from various sources in the nuclear power industry, includes an expected spending of $60.1 million...
Nuclear Capacity Factor At Six-Year High In June
The U.S. nuclear power industry's 99 operating power generation facilities operated with a capacity factor of 96.4 percent in June, according to a Nuclear Energy Institute report. The capacity factor was one percentage point higher than June 2014 and topped the 2013 June figure of 93.1 percent..
This means nuclear power plants are being operated more efficiently, which means more profitably!
Now if we could only reduce construction costs for new plants.
We’re all tired of the old joke that practical nuclear fusion power plants are just 30 years away, and always will be. Then there’s the one about tokamaks never dieing, they just get more expensive. So far they have just gotten bigger to the sense of incredible.
Maybe the jokes might not be based in reality. Advances in magnet technology have enabled researchers at MIT to propose a new design for a practical compact tokamak fusion reactor – and it’s one that might be realized in as little as a decade, they say. The era of practical fusion power, which could offer a nearly inexhaustible energy resource, may be coming near.
Using new commercially available superconductors, rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tapes, to produce high-magnetic field coils “just ripples through the whole design,” says Dennis Whyte, a professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and director of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center. “It changes the whole thing.”
The stronger magnetic field makes it possible to produce the required magnetic confinement of the superhot plasma – that is, the working material of a fusion reaction – but in a much smaller device than those previously envisioned. The reduction in size, in turn, makes the whole system less expensive and faster to build, and also allows for some ingenious new features in the power plant design.
The proposed reactor, using a tokamak (donut-shaped) geometry that is widely studied, is described in a paper in the journal Fusion Engineering and Design, co-authored by Whyte, PhD candidate Brandon Sorbom, and 11 others at MIT. The paper published in Fusion Engineering and Design started as a design class taught by Whyte and became a student-led project after the class ended.
The basic reactor concept and its associated elements are based on well-tested and proven principles developed over decades of research at MIT and around the world, the team said.
SILXY has been a real stock of pain. Currently $1.52. I guess this answers the question of whether or not laser enrichment works. GE cancelled their plant blaming "economic issues" rather than "technical problems". If they had been more honest, LEU would have benefited.
This makes the ACP the most advanced enrichment technology, but while Centrus limps along Russia is testing its own advanced centrifuges. Given the numerous Russian hacker raids on the US government, I'd guess their new centrifuges look a lot like ours...
MOSCOW (CBS News/CBSDC/AP) — Russia has submitted its bid for vast territories in the Arctic to the United Nations, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry said in a statement that Russia is claiming over 463,000 square miles of Artic sea shelf extending more than 350 nautical miles from the shore.
Russia, the U.S., Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas. Rivalry for Arctic resources has intensified as shrinking polar ice is opening new opportunities for exploration.
According to a new study, in the first part of the 21st century, glaciers are melting faster than at any point in the last 165 years — and possibly any point in recorded history.
Russia was the first to submit its claim in 2002, but the U.N. sent it back for lack of evidence.
The ministry said that the resubmitted bid contains new arguments. “Ample scientific data collected in years of Arctic research are used to back the Russian claim,” it said.
In 2007, Moscow staked a symbolic claim to the Arctic seabed by dropping a canister containing the Russian flag on the ocean floor from a submarine at the North Pole.
Amid tensions with the West over Ukraine, the Kremlin also has moved to beef up Russian military forces in the Arctic. The effort has included the restoration of a Soviet-era military base on the New Siberian Islands and other military outposts in the Arctic. Russian officials said the facilities are crucial for protecting shipping routes that link Europe with the Pacific region across the Arctic Ocean
I'm sure Hillary would approve.
The campaign to stop President Barack Obama's sweeping emissions limits on power plants began taking shape Wednesday, as 16 states asked the government to put the rules on hold while a Senate panel moved to block them.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is leading the charge against the rules, banded together with 15 other state attorneys general in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy requesting that the agency temporarily suspend the rules while they challenge their legality in court. The letter called for the EPA to respond by Friday.
The EPA and the White House both said they believe the limits are legal and have no plans to put them on hold. But by submitting the formal request anyway, the attorneys general are laying the groundwork to ask the courts to suspend the emissions limits instead.
"These regulations, if allowed to proceed, will do serious harm to West Virginia and the U.S. economy," Morrisey said. "That is why we are taking quick action to bring this process to a halt."
The 16 states and a handful of others are preparing to sue the Obama administration to block the rules permanently by arguing they exceed Obama's authority. Bolstered by a recent Supreme Court ruling against the administration's mercury limits, opponents argued that states shouldn't have to start preparing to comply with a rule that may eventually get thrown out by the courts.
You can't live in Las Vegas without air conditioning. I wonder what the Obama Energy Plan did to their electricity rates?
I found this:
Energy regulations to kill thousands of Nevada jobs
So-called 'renewable' and 'clean' energy mandates driving up energy prices
Short of activists, academics or those who work in the energy field, most Nevadans don’t have time to sort through the energy regulations that drive up the cost of their monthly electric bills.
But in the coming years, Nevada’s destructive energy policy will become an unavoidable reality for over 2,600 hard-working Nevada residents and harder to ignore for all rate payers. That’s thanks to Senate Bill 123, a law passed by the 2013 Legislature ordering the Silver State’s energy provider, NV Energy, to close down its remaining coal-fired power plants by 2020.
This move will leave 2,630 people without jobs by 2020 as energy rates skyrocket, according to a new study commissioned by the Nevada Policy Research Institute and conducted by The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University.
By 2020, residential customers are projected to pay an additional $40 annually on energy as a direct result of SB123, while businesses and industry will pay even higher rates — with commercial ratepayers paying an additional $170 per year and industrial customers facing annual hikes of $9,450.
As businesses and families adjust their spending to account for the losses of jobs and the increase in prices, real disposable income within the state is expected to drop by $226 million per year. Investment is forecast to drop by at least $29 million annually, though some expensive renewable energy projects may provide a mild offset.
Making the situation worse is that SB123 is being implemented on top of a 1990s law that requires Nevada make a significant shift toward using renewable energy. In 1997, state law was amended to implement a Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires 25 percent of the state’s electricity be provided by a ren
The U.S. Energy Department announced a new round of funding to support research and development of advanced nuclear reactor projects. Using partnership funding, the DOE said two awards of up to $6 million would be allocated in the fiscal year 2015, which ends September 30.
Reactor AdvancementThe available grants include $3.6 million from the Department of Energy, awarded in conjunction with $2.4 million form the federally funded research and development center.
The DOE said it was “Furthering efforts to encourage clean energy innovation … to support the research, development, and demonstration of advanced reactor concepts."
The announcement represents an early step in increasing investment in nuclear advanced reactor technologies, which have the potential to provide substantially enhanced operational performance, safety, security, economics, and proliferation resistance, the agency said.
“We have been encouraged by recent interest in advanced reactor technology,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy John Kotek. “We believe this funding opportunity will foster scientific innovation to advance the goals of the Department in developing clean energy technologies.”
Through this competition, the Energy Department seeks to foster collaboration with industry and the national laboratories, in support of advanced reactor concepts that would provide clean, affordable, and secure energy. The Department is soliciting proposals for cost-shared advanced reactor concept development projects with the potential to be demonstrated in the 2035 time frame.
Recipients will be required to invest $1.5 million as part of the cost share. The funding opportunity allows for multiple-year funding for up to two awards with a total of $40 million in DOE cost share per award.
Maybe Centrus could get a slice of the pie?
U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has observed that for over 100 years, “journalists have quoted scientists predicting the destruction of civilization by ... either runaway heat or a new Ice Age.”
Predictions, however, are easy to make, because so few remember the ones that didn't pan out: rising sea levels, melting ice caps, and other such catastrophes, all supposedly anthropogenic (caused by human activity).
The latest blow dealt to anthropogenic climate change is a new study presented at the Royal Astronomical Society meeting at Llandudno, North Wales by Professor Valentina Zharkova, who holds a BSc/MSc n Applied Mathematics and Astronomy and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. According to Zharkova, it is now anticipated that between 2020 and 2030, solar cycles could cancel each other out, leading to a repeat of what is known as the Maunder Minimum. The period of the Maunder Minimum, between 1646 and 1715, was a time of unusually low temperatures in England, when the Thames River actually froze over. During these years many of Americans’ ancestors left England for the colonies to escape the chilling conditions.
Zharkova’s thesis is based on a model that draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the sun: one close to the surface, and one deep within its convection zone. She expects that solar activity will fall 60 percent during the 2030s, because the two waves will, in her words, “exactly mirror each other, peaking at the same time, but in opposite hemispheres of the Sun.”
She explained that the results will cause a period of much cooler temperatures. "Effectively, when the waves are approximately in phase, they can show strong interaction, or resonance, and we have strong solar activity.” But, when they are out of phase, “we have solar minimums.” And, when there is full separation, “we have the conditions last seen during the Maunder Minimum, 370 years ago.”
The Obama administration is giving the struggling U.S. nuclear industry a glimmer of hope with changes to its carbon emission rules that mean new reactors will count more toward meeting federal benchmarks.
States will be able to take more credit for future carbon-free electricity to be generated by nuclear power plants still under construction when meeting their emission reduction targets, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a call on Sunday. The targets are required under the EPA’s landmark Clean Power Plan that was unveiled on Monday.
Under last year’s draft of the rules, the yet-to-be completed reactors were counted as existing units that wouldn’t be fully credited for carbon reductions generated in the future after they started operating. The nuclear power industry complained that amounted to a penalty on the plants and made state targets harder to achieve.
“We tend to view new rules as potentially the first bit of good news for the struggling nuclear industry,” Julien Dumoulin-Smith, an analyst for UBS, wrote on Monday in a research note.
Nuclear operators are being challenged by high maintenance and clean up costs as well as competition from cheap natural-gas fueled power plants and low-cost wind and solar generation. About 10 percent of the nation’s nuclear output could be retired early due to low energy prices, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
The question of waste disposal also hangs over the industry as efforts to establish a federal repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada have stalled.
Investor's Business Daily Editorial:
Regulation: As businesses struggle to stay open and lay off workers, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing one of the biggest hiring binges in America outside of Google. Good news? Hardly.
Barack Obama's EPA has announced it will try to hire 800 new regulators over the next several months. The goal, reports the newsletter Energy & Environment, is for the EPA to "add eight new hires a day for three months." It just goes to show there's no jobs recession in Washington, D.C.
The EPA says this new hiring is in part to make up for early retirements and normal attrition. The EPA's human resources chief, Karl Brooks, said that "the agency hasn't been in this position to bring so many people on board in well over a decade."
Nearly 15,000 people work at the EPA now — making the agency a major national employer. This also lets its tentacles grow even more intrusive.
Big government advocates like to argue that there is a multiplier effect from government spending and hiring that can lead to two to three private-sector jobs for every federal employee. This was the justification for the $830 billion stimulus plan that Obama signed into law within weeks of becoming president.
Instead, the unemployment rate was higher than it would have been if we hadn't spent the money at all.
Adding more hyper-regulators at the EPA is almost certainly a job killer in the private sector.
Take your hands and hold them palms down, middle fingertips touching. Your right hand represents the North American tectonic plate, which bears on its back, among other things, our entire continent, from One World Trade Center to the Space Needle, in Seattle. Your left hand represents an oceanic plate called Juan de Fuca, ninety thousand square miles in size. The place where they meet is the Cascadia subduction zone. Now slide your left hand under your right one. That is what the Juan de Fuca plate is doing: slipping steadily beneath North America. When you try it, your right hand will slide up your left arm, as if you were pushing up your sleeve. That is what North America is NOT doing. It is stuck, wedged tight against the surface of the other plate.
Without moving your hands, curl your right knuckles up, so that they point toward the ceiling. Under pressure from Juan de Fuca, the stuck edge of North America is bulging upward and compressing eastward, at the rate of, respectively, three to four millimetres and thirty to forty millimetres a year. It can do so for quite some time, because, as continent stuff goes, it is young, made of rock that is still relatively elastic. (Rocks, like us, get stiffer as they age.) But it cannot do so indefinitely. There is a backstop—the craton, that ancient unbudgeable mass at the center of the continent—and, sooner or later, North America will rebound like a spring. If, on that occasion, only the southern part of the Cascadia subduction zone gives way—your first two fingers, say—the magnitude of the resulting quake will be somewhere between 8.0 and 8.6. That’s the big one. If the entire zone gives way at once, an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2. That’s the VERY big one.
General Electric wants to be a "sizable" player in the market for energy storage systems, a sector the company expects to quadruple to $6B by 2020. "We believe in the space and its ability to grow," Jeff Wyatt, GE's (GE) general manager for energy storage, told Reuters. Demand for industrial battery systems has attracted a wide range of companies, including Tesla Motors (TSLA), which said in April it plans to package batteries for utilities as well as homes and businesses.
Energy storage systems would be needed to make intermitant generators (wind and solar) more practical.
You're assuming Iran intends to abide by the agreement? They are determined to get the bomb and Putin is helping them just to stick it to President Obama.
(CBS SF) — The fault that produced a 4.0-magnitude earthquake in Fremont early Tuesday morning is expected to produce a major earthquake “any day now” and Bay Area residents should be prepared, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist said.
The 2:41 a.m. earthquake on the border of Fremont and Union City occurred on the Hayward Fault at a depth of 5 miles. The epicenter was at a spot just north of the intersection of Niles Canyon Road and Mission Boulevard.
The quake caused some BART delays early Tuesday while work crews checked the tracks, but appears to have caused no major damage. At least 13 smaller quakes or aftershocks had been reported near the same location as of 6:42 a.m., the largest of which was a 2.7-magnitude at 2:56 a.m.
While damage from the quake was minimal, scientists warn that a much larger one is expected on the Hayward Fault, which extends from San Pablo Bay in the north to Fremont in the south and passes through heavily populated areas including Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward and Fremont.
The last big earthquake on the fault, estimated to have a 6.8-magnitude, occurred in 1868, according to the USGS.
It killed about 30 people and caused extensive property damage in the Bay Area, particularly in the city of Hayward, from which the fault derives its name. Until the larger 1906 earthquake, it was widely referred to as the “Great San Francisco Earthquake.”
“The population is now 100 times bigger in the East Bay, so we have many more people that will be impacted,” said Tom Brocher, a research geophysicist with the USGS.
“We keep a close eye on the Hayward Fault because it does sit in the heart of the Bay Area and when we do get a big earthquake on it, it’s going to have a big impact on the entire Bay Area,” Brocher said.
While a 2008 report put the probability of a 6.7-magnitude or larger earthquake on the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system over the next 30 years at 31 percent, Brocher said the reality is a major quake is expected on the fault “any day now.”
NWBO Has gone from $4 to $12 since last October! I prefer the somewhat safer play of BIB, the triple-leveraged biotech ETF. Its gone from $40 to $103 in twelve months. I bought more today!
Advances in our understanding of physics always pay off in the long run. That's how we got nuclear power.