As POWER closes this issue (March 15), 6,000 people have been confirmed dead and 10,000 others are still missing as a result of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that destroyed Japan’s eastern shore on March 11. At this writing, the country is battling a third cataclysm—the potential meltdown of several reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO’s) Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.
Excitement over an expected nuclear renaissance reached fever pitch over the past decade. Today, the original volume of announced projects has been sifted, leaving just a few serious ones that may match well with the level of loan guarantees recently announced as part of the president’s budget proposal. The pace of progress is slow, yet progress is almost certainly unavoidable.
Five new nuclear reactors were connected to the grid while construction of 14 others began in 2010, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in early March. Around the world, a total 65 reactors with a net power capacity of 62.9 GW were in various stages of construction—almost half of them in China.
In Canada, as in the U.S., where you live determines the type of generation technology that provides your power. Here’s how the four most energy-intensive provinces in Canada are responding to the challenge of providing reliable and cheap power in a sustainable way.
France in January announced its contribution to the wave of small and modular reactors (SMRs): a submarine-like nuclear plant that can be submerged in waters 60 meters (m) to 100 m deep and several kilometers offshore.
Development of Vogtle Electric Generating Station Units 3 and 4—the first new nuclear power plant units in the U.S. in decades—has generated considerable excitement. The next generation of nuclear plants, represented by these units, includes at least two major improvements: the use of passive safety systems and a reliance on digital control systems. The latter represents a gigantic leap in modernization and a fundamental change in control of the plant.
The Ukraine will on April 26 mark 25 years after explosions at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (then in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) resulted in a fire that sent a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive area.
Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor design hit several milestones in recent months, prompting speculation that it could take the coveted lead in the charge to deploy the world’s third-generation nuclear power plants.
If Hollywood were scripting the power industry story for 2011, it would be a sequel to 2010—more of the same, but just not quite as good. Natural gas gets top billing and the accolades, wind power drops to a supporting role, and new nuclear answers the casting call but has yet to get a speaking part. Coal is like Mel Gibson—a talented Oscar winner unlikely to get another leading role. In this, our fifth annual industry forecast report, the story may be familiar, but the price of admission is going way up.
Though electricity generation has entered a key period of transition—as investment shifts to low-carbon technologies—world electricity demand is set to grow faster than any other “final form of energy,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) says in its latest annual World Energy Outlook.