Sunday, June 5, 2011

55th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs

Today I am hosting the 55th Carnival of Nuclear Energy, bloggers look at the world, including Saudi Arabia, Germany, and what kind of Lessons Learned are possible at this point from Fukushima. It's truly a feast of information!

Germany and the Czech Republic

At Idaho Samzdat, Dan Yurman describes Germany's Nuclear Energy Panic Attack.

Shortly after the extent of the damage to reactors at Fukushima became apparent, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she was reversing her policy of keeping the nation’s oldest reactors open beyond 2022. A deal put in place by her predecessor called for the eventual closure of all 17 reactors by that date.

There is no middle ground in the nuclear debate in Germany. Anti-nuclear sentiment in Germany runs high with polls showing as much as 70% of the population says "no thank you" to nuclear power.

Some sentiment among Green Party members calls for a reduction in Germany's industrial economy and a return to a life style of "off the grid" villages in natural ecosystems. Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, the utility is moving ahead with its reactor projects, planning three to five new reactors. Perhaps Germans won't have to live "off the grid" after all. There's always "nuclear colonialism." If a neighbor country like the Czech Republic builds nuclear plants, there's nothing wrong with Germany buying the power, right? The map to the right shows a potential nuclear colony of Germany. Much more complete analysis in Yurman's post.

Fukushima Fuel Pools (Red Herrings)

In her blog post, Nuclear Power and the Witch Hunt, Margaret Harding shows that the spent fuel pools at Fukushima are a witch story. They didn’t burn, they did run out of water and caused problems for TEPCO, but we should not over-react in the need to “fix” a problem that isn’t there. There is risk that a fix could create other issues.

Harding's post includes a video of Unit 4 fuel pool, showing the pool intact, the fuel rods intact, the fuel racks intact, and debris in the water from the explosion at Unit 4. Harding is in touch with people in Japan who are figuring out what caused the explosion at that unit: clearly not the fuel pool. Harding notes that we may well have to rethink our fuel storage, but we should do it on the basis of facts, not witch hunts.

The NRC and Nuclear Power

In Nuclear Sanity and Nuclear Insanity, Will Davis of Atomic Power Review describes the evolution of nuclear thinking world-wide (Germany wants to shut down its nuclear plants, Saudi Arabia plans to build 16 nuclear plants) and in the United States. As he points out, we can expect 40 million tonnes more CO2 in the air each year if Germany closes down its nuclear plants. Davis describes the role that nuclear bloggers and others might take to change the NRC's position from insanity (we must PROVE we are doing EVERYTHING possible) to some level of sanity. His post is a call to action.

The Future of Energy in Europe and Arabia

In a series of posts at Next Big Future, Brian Wang describes Saudi Arabia building 16 nuclear reactors by 2030 and Lithuania building two. As usual, his well-referenced post is a pleasure to read.

Wang also notes that Desertec plans to build terrawatts of wind and solar power in North Africa. Desertec is a proposal to build terawatts of wind and solar power in North Africa, which is Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and other countries. This proposal would be to spend $600 billion or more to build wind farms and solar farms in the same politically unstable area where OPEC is now to provide about 17% of europe power needs by 2050. About 110% of the current world nuclear power generation. (2,940 TWh per year). The detailed financial and technical proposal is due in 2012. So currently it is a back of napkin proposal and they hope to progress to vaporware in 2012, all for a bad idea for Europe to fund a solar and wind OPEC by 2050.

Wang describes the consequences to Switzerland and Germany if they phase out nuclear power. Electricity costs will go up and Germany will depend more on coal and fossil fuel.

In another post, Wang points out that instant-phase-out of nuclear power in Germany is running into some snags. German Utility Eon is taking action to recover tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue that will result from the German decision to shut down nuclear prematurely.

That's the trouble when governments take unilateral action without due process. They get sued. Happens in Vermont and it happens in Germany.
  • Due Process: it's what makes governments into governments, not tyrants.
  • Lawsuits: they are what keep governments from becoming tyrants.

All in all, this Carnival is perfect for a summer evening's reading!


The 54th Blog Carnival was hosted at Idaho Samizdat last week. It includes good news about thorium reactors, discussions about the NRC, and an analysis of passive cooling for small modular reactors. Worth reading! (I had serious internet connection problems last week and was not able to blog or even email, most of the week.)

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