Monday, September 24, 2007

Without comment

"NRG Energy, the US power generator, said on Monday it was filing the first application to build a new nuclear plant in the US in 29 years.

In seeking to build two nuclear power stations in Texas, NRG said it was taking a leading role in moving US electrical generation to cost-effective power that does not contribute to global climate change. "It is a new day for energy in America," said David Crane, NRG's president and chief executive."

and

"WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 — An independent power producer expects to ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday for permission to build two nuclear reactors at a site 90 miles southwest of Houston, the first time since the mid-1970’s that a company has sought approval to build a nuclear power plant in the United States.

The company, NRG Energy, based in Princeton, N.J., is seeking to build a General Electric model now used in Japan and under construction in Taiwan but untried in the United States. The announcement Tuesday will be a decision to seek a combined construction and operating license under a new process meant to avoid the long delays and cost overruns in the last round of nuclear construction, but the company has not yet ordered the reactors. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates the cost of obtaining a license at $24 million, but some industry experts say it could easily be more. The plant itself would run into the billions of dollars.

Still, the application, the first of what the commission anticipates will be about two dozen in the next few months, is a milestone for the industry. More than 100 reactor projects were canceled in the 1970s and ’80s, some abandoned in late stages of construction. Revived interest in nuclear power is being driven by a combination of strong growth in demand for electricity, high prices for natural gas and the potential for taxes on carbon dioxide, which would make coal use more expensive, experts said.

By filing first, NRG is likely to get first consideration from the commission. Not having seen an application in a generation, the commission has been hiring for the task but has also warned that its capacity to deal with the work involved is not unlimited."


30 comments:

Anonymous said...

NRG Energy (you can't make up names like that) has never operated a nuclear reactor before, and is "an independent power producer", which means it will sell the power as a wholesaler. So, if you as a consumer are able to sign up for "green" renewable electricity, will someone offer "all-nuke all the time" as an option?

Anonymous said...

Revived interest in nuclear power is being driven by a combination of strong growth in demand for electricity, high prices for natural gas and the potential for taxes on carbon dioxide, which would make coal use more expensive, experts said."

..and, of course, billions of dollars more in subsidies, without which nuclear power would never have seen the light of day in the first place.

Same as it ever was.

"New nuclear power ‘wave’ — or just a ripple?
How millions for lobbying, campaigns helped fuel U.S. industry's big plans


"Buoyed by billions of dollars in subsidies pushed through Congress by the Bush administration, the U.S. nuclear power industry says 2007 is the year its plans for a “renaissance” will reach critical mass."

[end quote]



It makes far more sense to conserve the energy through efficiency improvements -- which actually saves money (ie, negative cost) -- than it does to build new nuclear plants.

But hey, what energy policy ever made sense in this country?

It's all about the payola.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Conservation is a wise policy, but in the medium term, the only realistic alternatives are coal and nuclear power. It doesn't look likely that clean coal is happening anytime soon, so that leaves nukes. Nukes have their risks - the worst of which is that they might get nuked, spreading their radioactivity on a continental scale.

We ought to try to build as many as possible of them downwind - somewhere on the East Coast.

Anonymous said...

Nuclear has advantages: cheap energy, no emissions. In Texas, nuclear is the only energy source cheaper than coal.

The downside is nuclear waste must be desposed of safely. Nuclear accidents also risk contamination.

I predict the enviromental groups will be divided. Groups that are anti-growth will not support nuclear. There are others who are not automatically anti-growth or anti-cheap-energy, just pro-environment. For example, the founder of Greenpeace has become a supporter of nuclear power.

Conservation is well intended but ignore s reality, which is: restricting energy supply and higher energy prices hurt poor people. Many conservationists tend to be anti-development, which also hurts poor people.

Anonymous said...

"the only realistic alternatives are coal and nuclear power. "

There are some very knowledgeable people who have studied this issue in depth for quite some time who disagree, eg, Amory Lovins (a phycist and energy efficiency expert) at RMI.

Lovins et al have written volumes (books, papers, etc) on the issue of efficiency (and the nuclear power option in particular), but you might want to start by reading this

Given that many countries in Europe maintain living standards as high or higher than that in the US with only half the per capital energy use, it is no stretch to believe that the US may be able to slash its emissions in half through efficiency and conservation efforts with little or no change in standard of living. And that's just a start.

Efficiency improvements are some of the easiest, quickest and cheapest ways to achieve deep cuts in emissions.

I'm curious what you are basing your assumptions on, that "the only realistic alternatives are coal and nuclear power."

What detailed studies support this conclusion? references? Calculations?

I have seen such sweeping (cliche, actually) statements many times and without something to back them up, they are simply not credible.

Anonymous said...

Conservation is well intended but ignore s reality, which is: restricting energy supply and higher energy prices hurt poor people. Many conservationists tend to be anti-development, which also hurts poor people."

That statement actually ignores reality.

First, "conservation" need not mean living in cold dark houses and not driving. It means getting the same (or even more) end use out of the same (or less) energy.

There is nothing inherently "anti-development" or "anti-humanity" about conservation.

It makes no sense NOT to try to conserve limited resources by using energy more efficiently.

The amount of energy that this country wastes is just astronomical and it provides nothing in the way of end value. We would not miss it one bit if the waste completely disappeared tomorrow. But future generations will miss the resources if we do not eliminate it.

Zeke said...

About damn time.

stevesadlov said...

Consider this scenario. The US adopts a French or Japanese style nuclear power paradigm, but does it safer and better. Meanwhile, T.J. Rodgers and other innovators undermine the current stranglehold that a few key players have on the solar cell business, and get the price point way down. Conservation fever takes hold in Western Europe, Japan and North America. Consider the implications, to geopolitics, to AGW, to the long term millenneum scale economy. Throw in a Helium 3 breakthrough for icing on the cake.

Hank Roberts said...

This was a big thing on the Lyndon Larouche website a couple of years ago. Modular design, cookie-cutter stuff. The advantage is they're faster. The disadvantage is whatever's wrong with one is wrong with all of them so when a flaw is found in one, all have to be shut down to fix it.

"Construction experience with General Electric's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) in Japan and South Korea, using structural modules, will be improved upon in GE's next-generation Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor. GE has identified 15 different module types for their new construction approach."

drhealy said...

Hopefully we will continue research into the new nuclear technologies involving "fast reactors" which are much safer and can mitigate the waste issue. With nuclear we can use processes to create hydrogen thermally which is much more efficient than electrolosis. This might even allow fuel cell technology to become economically practical.

Anonymous said...

Safer and better, Steve? I'm not entirely sure about Japan, but the safety record for France's reactors is actually excellent and better than the US. That leaves better, which is probably doable since their plants are mostly from a 60's-80's generation. Furthermore, the waste problem can definitely be worked on and has some room for marked improvements.
Considering the enormous amount of taxpayers money that is going to go into this, I wonder how much say the public will have once the thing is operating.

Anonymous said...

I am, of course, for distributed generation and non-fossil fuel-based R&D. As for nukes, Yucca Mt is again an issue, so I'd ask if the folk pushing Nuke As Savior can keep some drums under their kid's beds, for the good of the collective, ya know.

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

"the waste problem can definitely be worked on and has some room for marked improvements"

Ya think?

Judging from the fact that all of the waste in the US is still sitting in pools outside the reactors, I'd say there is definitely "room for marked improvements" (maybe even a couple rooms)

Anonymous said...

"That statement actually ignores reality."

Maybe we are using a different definition of reality. By reality, I mean "how things are" and "how things tend to be in the real world."

"First, "conservation" need not mean living in cold dark houses and not driving."

That is exactly what it means for the poor. If conservation is enforced by regulations, higher prices are inevitable, and the poor suffer the most from higher prices.

Conservation sounds noble, and the intention is well placed, but look at history.

For example, CAFE standards were enacted in order to encourage conservation. The result was the K-Car and other light cars the were demonstrated to be less safe. It doesn't "have" to be this way, but that was the reality.

Another exmaple are towns in Africa that are not permitted to have electricity unless it is green powered. Unless someone can afford the outrageously expensive solar power, they are forced to live without electricity. It doesn't have to be that way, but that is the reality.

"There is nothing inherently "anti-development" or "anti-humanity" about conservation."

Conservation is well intentioned, but in reality it doesn't improve people's lives, and the poor suffer the most.

"It makes no sense NOT to try to conserve limited resources by using energy more efficiently."

It depends on what you mean by "try". If you mean I should try to consciously lower my electric bill, then I agree. Done. Who doesn't want a lower bill. Individuals and businesses are both motivated to do so.

However, if by "try" you mean regulation, then you are are condeming the poor to a worse life. It is inevitable. That is the reality.

My advice is: don't be cruel, don't ignore reality, and consider how it will affect the pooreset among us.

Hank Roberts said...

> Another exmaple are towns in Africa
> that are not permitted to have
> electricity unless it is green
> powered.

Cite please? It's only an example if it has a citation/source in fact.

Anonymous said...

"Conservation is well intentioned, but in reality it doesn't improve people's lives, and the poor suffer the most."

I think you have a very narrow view of "conservation" in mind that is not very realistic -- and certainly not what I am referring to.

What I am referring to is energy efficiency improvements that conserve energy (eg, gasoline for cars) and that benefit all consumers -- including the poor.

Anonymous said...

>towns in Africa
> that are not permitted to have
> electricity unless it is green
> powered.

Some villages can't have electricity unless it is "green powered" (eg, solar, wind, water). There is no other choice!

I think some of the people making such comments live in a giant bubble -- totally divorced from reality.

They talk about Conservation "hurting the poor" but it never occurs to them that saving energy (through more efficiet cars, refrigerators, houses, lights, etc) means saving money.

This helps the poor the most, since they spend a higher percentage of their income on stuff like gas for their car and electricity for their house.

Anonymous said...

In case it was not clear above, "There is no other choice" because there are no transmission lines into some villages.

Anonymous said...

"What I am referring to is energy efficiency improvements that conserve energy (eg, gasoline for cars) and that benefit all consumers -- including the poor."

Here is another example. Hybrid cars generally get much better gas mileage, with the tradeoff of a higher sticker price. But Edmunds has performed a cost of ownership analysis, and Hybrids don't do nearly as well, taking 5 years to break even. The analysis does not include the maintenance cost of the hybrid batteries.

Now imagine if regulation required all cars to be hybrid. Those who can afford pricier cars would be the least affected, and the poor would be hurt the most.

The reality is, poorer people are buying used cars, living closer to work, car pooling, or taking the bus. These are the true conservationists.

The true conservationist walks the walk. Someone who supports regulation to force others into an undesired situation are not true conservationists, just posers.

It nice to envision that better gas mileage is a win-win. If regulation is involved, then it is more likely a win-lose. For the poor it is more likely a lose-lose.

Holly Stick said...

In France, during the 2003 heat wave, the nuclear reactors operated at a reduced capacity because some plants did not have enough water for cooling.
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0813-05.htm

So if the world is getting hotter, and the middle of North America is probably going to be a lot drier, what's the point of building nuclear plants?

EliRabett said...

Holly, that is what is called a design problem, the French nuclear plants were designed 30 years ago when the summer temperatures were lower. That does not mean that plants built today cannot be designed for warmer summers (and winters).

EliRabett said...

Sorry Anon 10:08, we don;t need more free riders. As Eli has often said, regulations should set goals that the markets can meet. It worked quite well with air and water quality until the free riders (aka business) learned how to manipulate the system and became rent collectors.

Holly Stick said...

But nuclear plants still need water to cool them, don't they?

Anonymous said...

"Cite please? It's only an example if it has a citation/source in fact."

After further research I must admit it is an inaccurate example so I will retract it.

"There is no other choice" because there are no transmission lines into some villages."

This is also a good point.

Anonymous said...

"Now imagine if regulation required all cars to be hybrid. Those who can afford pricier cars would be the least affected, and the poor would be hurt the most."

That's not how it works -- at least not in the US. Fuel economy standards (at least as they have been applied in this country) are for new cars.

"The reality is, poorer people are buying used cars, living closer to work, car pooling, or taking the bus. These are the true conservationists."

I'm not sure what your point is here. I agree that people who live closer to work, car pool, or take the bus" are conservationists.


"The true conservationist walks the walk. Someone who supports regulation to force others into an undesired situation are not true conservationists, just posers."

I don't understand. Why are the two mutually exclusive? If I take the bus to work and the grocery store and nonetheless advocate higher fuel economy standards for new cars, how does that make me a "poser"?

"It nice to envision that better gas mileage is a win-win. If regulation is involved, then it is more likely a win-lose. For the poor it is more likely a lose-lose."

Please provide some data to back up your assertions.

Unfortunately, I am am suspect when I see the "It hurts the poor" argument, especially with no evidence.

Anonymous said...

The Earth's magnetic shield is run by a fission reactor we all live above.

Anonymous said...

So it hurts the poor. Who cares about the poor. Let them bike or walk. They can go make more money or move someplace cheaper.

If you don't like that it hurts the poor, do something about it. Give them money.

Holly Stick said...

anon, you are not suspect, you are suspicious. The statement "It hurts the poor" is suspect.

The thing is that poor people are probably conserving already because they know they cannnot afford to waste gas, electricity, food, etc. My parents grew up during the Depression so of course I learned to turn off lights that were not in use, etc. The well-off people and the big corporations can afford to waste things and they need to be reigned in by whatever methods work well, including government regulation and stronger social disapproval of waste.

Anonymous said...

Depends on what kind of poor they are. And where they live. And why they're poor. You can't just lump it all into one thing. Single mom with 5 kids? Recent graduate with high debt? A farmer in Sudan? Etc etc etc

Horatio Algeranon said...

Nuclear or Unclear?