I am all for more wind power. We should build more of it and all other power except coal. I was correcting the statement of some people on the oildrum.com and other sites who say that only 4 reactors per year are possible or that it will take a long time to ramp up reactor production in the USA.
If we look at the list of nuclear plants in the USA and when they were completed.
We can see:
12 nuclear plants were completed in 1974, 10 in 1973, 8 in 1972. There were years in the eighties with 8 completed. Before 1968 only small reactors were built. Only two had over 400MW, but most were less than 100MW. 1969, 1970, 1971 had 3-4 each year, then in 1972 the 8 reactors. So from a relative standing start the scale up was rapid to the peak of 12/year of the last build cycle. We are in a better position now because US rebuilt a new nuclear plant and is switching on Browns Ferry 1 this year.
The nuclear industry is a global industry. So the experience developed from the 30 nuclear plants that are being completed now globally by Westinghouse, Areva, GE and other global firms will mostly be transferrable to the US build up. We can fly in some of the project managers and lead foreman and key engineers and workers etc...
Besides building more nuclear reactors, it has been possible to increase operational performance.
The rate of increase in units of energy, delivered as electrical power per year in the period between 1993 and 2005 (12 years). The units of this calculation will be thousand megawatt-hours/per year.
Nnadir at dailykos compared the increased power per year from 1993 to 2005 of non-fossil fuel sources in the United States
Wood (biomass): 96 thousand megawatt-hours/per year.
Waste: - 259 thousand megawatt-hours/per year. Negative number.
Geothermal: - 190 thousand megawatt-hours/per year. Negative number.
Solar: (Usually everybody's favorite): +8
Wind (Another favorite): 1345 thousand megawatt-hours/per year.
Overall, renewable energy in the United States has increased at a rate of 1,000 thousand megawatt-hours/per year. The nuclear energy figure is 16,203 thousand megawatt-hours per year for nuclear even without building a new plant.
Where did all this energy come from if no new plants were built? Improved operations mostly. Nuclear reactors are 90% efficiency to the 782,000 thousand megawatt-hours per year could only be theoretically increased another 75,000 thousand megawatt-hours/year without more reactors or without up-rating the power.
Recent work from MIT indicates that existing nuclear plants could be modified to safely generate 50% more energy.
This can be done by changing the shape of the fuel from rods to cylinders and by adding nanoparticles to the water. A power uprating application takes about a 18-24 month to be processed.
So applying the MIT work over the next 10 years would add 390 billion kWh in the USA, even without new plants.