May 28, 2010

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 3 - NEI 2009 Stats, Nuclear Renaissance and More

Welcome to the third Carnival of Nuclear Energy.

1. NEI summarizes the updated 2009 nuclear statistics.

* US nuclear plants generated slightly less electricity in 2009 than in 2008, yet nuclear’s fuel share increased from 19.6% in 2008 to 20.2% in 2009. That’s simply because electricity generation declined by four percent in the US due to that major economic setback we’re finally coming out of

* the production costs of nuclear compared to fossil fuels. In 2009, the US nuclear fleet’s production costs were 2.03 cents/kWh, a five percent (5%) increase from 2008 after adjusting for inflation. Coal’s production costs for 2009 were 2.97 cents/kWh (6% increase over 2008), gas was 5.00 cents/kWh (36% decrease over 2008), and petroleum was 12.37 cents/kWh (30% decrease over 2008).

2. Dan Yurman,. Idaho Samizdat, reviews recent fuel cycle and reactor development decisions. He shows that they are indicators of progress for the nuclear renaissance.

Among the signs of progress for the nuclear renaissance are investment decisions in enterprises that support all phases of the industry. Three examples are highlighted here for the front end of the fuel cycle, reactor construction, and the back end of the fuel cycle.

Although USEC has not yet secured a loan guarantee from the federal government for construction of its American Centrifuge Project, a strong signal of investor confidence emerged this week with a $200 million placement by two leading nuclear energy firms.

The destiny of TVA in its shift from coal to nuclear is focused on a decision about what to build at Bellefonte. This week the utility said it will complete a 1,260 MW reactor at that site.

In Japan the shift from fossil energy to nuclear, and competition for Mideast oil, has been highlighted by its investments in MOX fuel to get a double bang for its buck from light water reactors. This week Japan Nuclear Fuel received government approval to build a MOX fuel fabrication plant.

3. Nucleargreen has - The MSR, LMFBR decision: Reason and Science Take a Back Seat.

This post is one of a continuing series of posts on the Inside the Beltway leadership of the American nuclear establishment from around 1960 to 1974. The general focus of this study is on the consequences of mistakes made by a small number of individuals who exercised a great deal of influence over the United States Atomic Energy Commission during the Kennedy, John and Nixon administrations. This particular post focused on the decision to shut down the promising Molten Salt Reactor, while continuing development of the far more troubled Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor Program. The LMFBR program predictably ended in failure 10 years later.

4. Nucleargreen also had the Social Construction of Ignorance: Knowledge Pollution and Nuclear Power.

This is the third of a series of articles in which I attempt to determine if opposition to Nuclear Power is a type of "denialism." In this post I explore Kenneth Boulding's concept of Knowledge Pollution, and explore the possibility that the constructs of knowledge pollution and "denialism" can be applied to nuclear opponents.

5. Brave New Climate provides a detailed analysis of capacity factors for different energy sources

Capacity factor (CF) is the amount of energy a power station generates over time (usually a year) compared to what it could have produced if it had been running at full power for the whole period. (Please read TCASE 2, Energy Primer, for a fuller explanation). The CF for coal-fired and nuclear power stations averages 85-90%, wind farms ~20-35%, solar farms ~15-40% (the higher figure is for CSP with thermal storage). Gas or hydro can be high or low — depending…

It’s very tempting to use these percentages as though they were directly interchangable, and indeed I’ve found that most journalists and bloggers happily do this (or else ignore CF completely and cite ‘peak’ power as though it were the same thing). It turns out, however, that this is a seriously misleading practice,

6. Yes Vermont Yankee looks at renewables and the cost of conservation.

the bottom lines were: Renewables can be built and probably should be built, but they can't take over the load from Vermont Yankee.
It takes money for conservation
Conservation, like renewables, is frequently oversold as an answer to energy issues.

7. Atomic Insights notes a San Diego Union Tribune article that renewables need helping hand from gas.

The article describes how combined cycle gas turbine plants work, with gas turbine exhausts feeding steam plant bottoming systems. It talks about air cooled condensers and about the use of peakers to supply power during periods when renewable energy system outputs change rapidly

8. Atomic Insights had an article which at the end described how the activists operate.

Nextbigfuture answered the question of who funds It is activist celebrity actors and singers.

9. Nextbigfuture reported that Japan delayed the restart of one of their earthquaked damaged reactors which was scheduled for restart on May 28. The restart should happen in a couple of months. Also, more details on Namibia's plan for ramping up Uranium production.

10. Nextbigfuture analyzed the claim of the Union of Concerned scientists that they are not anti-nuclear.

The Union of Concerned Scientists does not use common metrics to rate all energy sources. Things like deaths per terawatt hour. They have eight permanent navigation sections from their homepage and two are related to nuclear power and nuclear weapons and national security. They do not look at the issues of oil and national security or resource wars over oil. They do not present the societal costs of coal and oil along side the loan guarantee costs for nuclear power. They do not look at the risks of hydroelectric dam failures or oil or coal disasters along side potential nuclear power accidents.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is clearly biased.

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