Ongoing investigations into cancellation of the Yucca Mountain project have revealed an astonishing number of irregularities by agencies responsible for the project. Those investigations have exposed a broken system that failed to properly manage the project and that surrendered to political pressure. Worse still, the draft report of President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future gave the industry little reason to hope that there would ever be a long-term nuclear waste fuel repository.
The global nuclear industry is moving forward at a brisk pace, only slightly slowed by the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s most realistic estimate is that 90 new nuclear plants will enter service by 2030. Ten new nuclear plants went online over the past two years. We profile four of them as POWER’s nuclear Top Plants for 2011.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new Clean Water Act section 316(b) regulations for once-through cooling water intake structures. Comments on the proposed rules closed in August, and a final rule is expected mid-2012. The EPA estimates that at least half of the power plants using once-through cooling will be required to implement a best technology available solution in coming years. That typically means barriers and screens, but you may want to consider other options.
In China this August, as Ling Ao Unit 4—the second unit of the Ling Ao Phase II nuclear plant—started commercial operation, Westinghouse and its consortium partners marked the milestone of receiving the reactor vessel for the Sanmen nuclear power plant—the world’s first AP1000—in China’s Zhejiang province. The start-up of Ling Ao Unit 4 in Guangdong […]
The German government in July finalized a package of bills that will phase out nuclear’s 23% contribution to the country’s power supply by 2022 and increase renewable generation from the current 17% to 35%. In August, the Federal Network Agency ( Bundesnetzagentur) said it wouldn’t rely on power from seven of the nation’s oldest reactors […]
(WEB EXCLUSIVE) Much has transpired during the nearly six months following the Great East Japan Earthquake—a 3-minute, magnitude 9.0 temblor that generated a series of tsunami waves as tall as 38.9 meters (130 feet), killed more than 25,000 people, and set off the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.
A web supplement to the September issue with details of global power shortages.
It is fair to say that 2011 is bringing some uncertainty into the nuclear energy industry. The tsunami and subsequent events at Fukushima present Japan and our industry with new challenges but also serve as a catalyst for continuous improvement. In the U.S., we are learning from these events and improving our operations, designs, and emergency response approaches to make our plants safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly.
As barriers to new coal-fired generation expand and enthusiasm for nuclear plants wanes, the commissioning of natural gas–fired plants promises to increase. However, gas plants pose hazards, too. An explosion last year that was caused by unsafe use of natural gas to blow residue from a gas pipeline during commissioning of a gas-fired power plant has focused regulator and industry attention on finding safer alternatives for this task. Fluor shares its gas pipeline cleaning best practices.
Australia Pursues Carbon Tax. Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard on July 10 laid out an ambitious plan to cut national greenhouse gas emissions by 5% of 2000 levels by 2020 by imposing a A$23 (US$23.4) per metric ton carbon tax, starting next year. If parliament approves the plan before year-end, the carbon tax will increase […]