The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in October directed staff to begin implementing seven safety recommendations put forth by the federal body’s Near-Term Task Force on lessons learned from the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Daiichi power plant in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture last March. The recommendations affecting all 104 nuclear reactors (Figure 3) […]
Driven by policies to limit carbon emissions, as well as government subsidies, the share of worldwide nonhydro renewable power is set to grow from just 3% in 2009 to 15% in 2035, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts in its recently released World Energy Outlook 2011. Under the same scenario—which assumes that carbon pricing, explicit […]
South Africa is at a critical turning point. An uncertain environment for private investment, escalating electricity prices, and a lack of available power threaten South Africa’s position as an attractive investment destination for many of the country’s most important industries. Power has been placed at the forefront of the government’s agenda, but South Africa needs a collaborative effort to meet the country’s energy demands and diversify its generation portfolio in order to drive economic growth.
Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO’s) Fukushima Daiichi 1 reactor—a unit that suffered a core melt and hydrogen gas explosion after the March 11 earthquake in Japan and subsequent tsunami devastated the six-reactor facility—was fully encased in an “airtight” cover in October.
TVA completed the $1.9 billion restart of the 1,100-MW Browns Ferry Unit 1 in 2007. That restart project provided the opportunity to incorporate state-of-the-art materials and radiation-reduction techniques to ensure that Unit 1 would be an industry-leading low-ALARA-exposure plant when it returned to service. The reductions achieved were significant.
One of the great successes of the power generation industry over the past two decades has been the significant increase in nuclear plant reliability and other performance standards. However, there is reason to be concerned that the design, operation, and maintenance practices used by the current fleet of plants do not leverage all the possible advantages from a digital controls upgrade. Perhaps past success is the biggest barrier to future success.
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.
For seven years in a row, the number of new nuclear construction starts increased markedly. Then the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant occurred, prompting shutdowns of existing plants and a rethinking of future plans in many countries. Nevertheless, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expects “continuous and significant growth” in the use of nuclear […]
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in southern France, the world’s biggest nuclear fusion research project, is seeing a revival. After a budget shortfall last year and cost projections that continue to escalate, in September, the project got the European Parliament’s (EP’s) backing for an autonomous budget that seeks to guarantee transparent and reliable financing while limiting cost overruns. Japan also announced that it would increase its budget for ITER by 50% (the current ITER director-general is Japanese). Also in September, scientists announced that after an 18-month shutdown to upgrade the Joint European Torus (JET)—the world’s largest magnetic fusion device—the machine is ready to test materials to be used inside ITER (Figure 5).