Saturday, October 1, 2011

72nd Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers at Yes Vermont Yankee: International Builds, Domestic Issues, and What Do You Do With the Wolves?

Yes Vermont Yankee is privileged to host the 72nd Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers.

Let's start with some good news. There's nothing like looking at the international scene to cheer a person up!

The International Renaissance

Jeff Madison of Cool Hand Nuke describes the biggest nuclear power station in the world. In UAE reactors to break ground in December, Jeff features a Dan Yurman post about the build in the United Arab Emirates. Construction of four new 1,400 MW nuclear reactors worth $20 billion, supplied by South Korea, will begin at Braka as early as this December. The actual date will depend on regulatory approval. The first of the four new units will come online in 2017 followed by the others through 2020.

France has ordered new steam generators to extend the lives of the nuclear plants from 40 to 60 years. Meanwhile, the Fukushima plants near cold shutdown, with pressure vessel temperatures below the boiling point of water.

In another post, Wang notes that the Oskarshamn plant in Sweden has finally completed its 250 MW power uprate. It is the largest BWR in the world. In the same post, he updates us on one of the Chinese builds, scheduled to go on-line in 2014. The dome is now in place.

But what about Scotland? They backed out of the nuclear renaissance recently, didn't they? In Scots Drop Out of UK Nuclear New Build, Dan Yurman of Idaho Samizdat analyzes the numbers, not the rumors. Yurman notes that lot has been made of the fact that Scottish & Southern pulled out of the U.K. new build. After looking at the numbers, it becomes clear they were hardly even in it to begin with. Claims by green groups that their actions represent a setback for new reactors in the U.K. are not supported by the facts. The company plans to go back to their core business: natural gas plants fueled by the fields of the North Sea. Oh, yes, they will build wind turbines, too.

While we are looking internationally, we must tip our hat to Rod Adams, who doesn't shy away from the big issues. In Radioactive Wolves, Coming to PBS Nature on October 19, 2011, Rod looks at Ukraine and Belarus: Chernobyl. One of the persistent propaganda myths about using nuclear energy is that hypothetical accidents can release radioactive material that will render vast areas of land uninhabitable for centuries. It is a good thing for wolves, deer, and boars that they cannot read antinuclear propaganda or watch television.

If you want to understand a little more about the actual environmental conditions just 25 years after a catastrophic nuclear plant accident, tune in to PBS’s Nature program on October 19, 2011 and watch Radioactive Wolves.

(If you can't watch the program, at least watch the trailer for it on Rod's blog post.)

The Domestic Scene and the Government

Unfortunately, all the posts about the domestic scene are basically about the Government and Its Role in Nuclear Power. Well, we soldier on. At least our bloggers have good insights into the problems.

In Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus looks at Solyndra: What It May Mean for Nuclear Loan Guarantees. She considers the bankruptcy of Solyndra and contemplates the effects it could have on other industries. The nuclear power industry is also in the Federal government's loan guarantee program. This business failure will not cause renewable advocates or nuclear advocates to rethink their positions, but it may cause the government to decide that all loan guarantees are a bad idea.

In The Neutron Economy, Steve Skutnik posts the second part of his analysis of the Blue Ribbon Committee recommendations. Dissecting the BRC Report Part II: Where Interim Storage Falls Short. While the BRC provided useful guidelines for situating an inevitably necessary geologic repository, their technical recommendations for waste management fall short for a number of reasons. Their recommendations depend on interim storage, which may be useful at buying time for waste management policy. However, the BRC report's conclusions ultimately rely on a deus ex machina approach, waiting for as-yet nonexistent transformative technology to come and solve their problems for them.

At Yes Vermont Yankee, I report that Governor Shumlin does not give our nuclear plant even the most minimal level of credit for its service to society. In Taking the Petty Road: Governor Shumlin, Hurricane Irene, and Entergy's Charitable Donations, I note that Governor Shumlin gave the press a list of business "angel donors" who contributed large amounts to disaster relief after Hurricane Irene. He included several companies who gave far less than Entergy (Entergy gave $130,000). Shumlin left Entergy off the list.

Well, that's a downer.

So I'll include my blog post about the Energy Safari visit to Lempster Wind Farm, which has plenty of pictures, as well as some interesting information about wind.

The Future

For our look into the future, let's join Charles Barton of the Nuclear Green Revolution. Charles sees into the future because he understands the past: specifically, work done at Oak Ridge National Labs that was abandoned before it was truly completed. This time, Charles has a pair of posts about small reactors. His first post is about Underground Reactor Advantages:

Underground housing of small reactors appears to be practical and it is credible to argue that Underground reactor housing can lower nuclear costs, and dramatically shorten reactor construction times. In addition underground housing can increase nuclear safety and offer significant protection of reactors from aircraft and other forms of terrorist attacks.

But how do we get our reactors in place? Charles answers this question in Transporting Small Factory Built Reactors and Modular Components. Both highway and rail transport of reactor units and reactor modular components will create problems for reactor mobility. At the same time it appears possible to truck transport core units for MSRs of up to 100 MWe. The SM MSR modules could be locally delivered by barge or ship, and then moved to their final locations by truck or by rail. Thus the cost savings potential of factory manufacture of reactors is an open possibility.

Hope you enjoyed the Carnival! Next week, the Carnival will appear again--at Next Big Future. Stayed tuned!

Photo of Avignon carousel and Lempster wind farm are my own. Oskarshammn photo from Wikipedia. European Wolf from Wikipedia

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