Nearly a quarter-century after the Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster in Soviet Ukraine, Russia has been making deals with energy-starved nations all over the globe to help them build new nuclear power plants using Russian second-generation reactor technology.
There is a certain tentativeness about new nuclear power in the U.S. these days, a low-grade anxiety, as demonstrated by the comments made by electric utility representatives at May’s ELECTRIC POWER Conference in Baltimore.
It’s no surprise that China leads the world in recent power capacity additions. What may surprise you is the precise mix of options this vast country is relying upon to meet its ever-growing demand for electricity. As a result, this ancient civilization is fast becoming the test bed and factory for the newest generation and transmission technologies.
Finland’s government in April approved two of three proposals for the construction of new nuclear reactors in an effort to rid the country of its dependency on electricity imports from other countries—especially Russia—as well as to decrease carbon emissions.
Offers of nuclear loan guarantees are pending, construction permit applications are at an industry high, and the political stars seem to be properly aligned. However, there remains one obstacle in the development path of the next-generation of nuclear plants: How will these plants be financed?
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act and Amendments of 1982 and 1987 established a national policy and schedule for developing geologic repositories for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes. Those deadlines have come and gone; the cancellation of Yucca Mountain was only the latest failure of this policy to become reality. The task of finding a new storage location is now a political committee’s homework assignment. History tells us that committee members have been given an impossible task.
Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California speculate that a prototype nuclear fusion power plant could be operational within a decade, thanks to a test of the world’s largest laser array that confirmed a technique called inertial fusion ignition is feasible. Their first experiments have demonstrated a unique physics effect that bodes well for NIF’s success in generating a self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction. Fusion energy is what powers the sun and stars.
President Barack Obama’s January State of the Union speech called for incentives to make clean energy profitable — mainly through the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants. That comment, an apparent effort to reach out to Republican members of Congress, drew furious applause. Within three weeks, the president’s backing of nuclear power had already made a significant impact on the U.S. nuclear sector.
The EUCG Nuclear Committee has collected benchmarking data of U.S. nuclear plant staffing for many years. A summary of this highly desirable data was gleaned from EUCG databases and is now, for the first time, made public through an exclusive agreement with POWER.
China’s nuclear power plant building spree got a little more frenzied this January, as the country kicked off its 21st project at Ningde 3.