The much-ballyhooed U.S. nuclear renaissance, with a few exceptions, is running late, thanks to the usual Washington bureaucratic quagmire plus the added risk resulting from crumbling financial markets. The future doesn’t look much brighter. The poor outlook for Yucca Mountain and the new administration’s general indifference to nuclear power have made a rebirth of the nuclear industry an even higher-risk proposition than before.
New-generation nuclear plants may be having trouble getting out of the gate, but that doesn’t mean that nuclear capacity additions are at a standstill. In fact, the 104 operating nuclear units in the U.S. have added substantial new capacity in the form of reactor and plant uprates over the past 20 years. Power uprates alone have added more than 5,600 MW since 1998 — the equivalent of five new nuclear plants.
India has become a global business power even though hundreds of millions of its citizens still live in poverty. To sustain economic growth and lift its people out of poverty, India needs more — and more reliable — power. Details of government plans for achieving those goals demonstrate that pragmatism may be in shorter supply than ambition and political will.
Radioactive materials are clinging to the inside walls of reactor system components because of a noble metals injection process error some years ago at Cooper Nuclear Station (CNS). CNS has launched an aggressive, long-term program to remove the materials, but until the work is successfully completed, the station is also taking extensive measures to protect employees and reduce higher source term dose.
"The Russian Nuclear Industry: Status and Prospects," a February report from a Canadian-based think tank, Centre for International Governance Innovation, examines a revival of Russia’s Soviet-era plans for a massive nuclear expansion within the current state of the country’s nuclear power industry. It concludes that although the industry has been greeted with renewed funding and enthusiasm, achieving its ambitious plans will require the federation to overcome considerable problems and limitations.
The pace at which next-generation nuclear power is developing in the U.S. accelerated this February as the U.S. arm of Toshiba inked an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) agreement with an advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) nuclear development company jointly owned by NRG Energy and Japan’s Toshiba Corp. The agreement seeks to ensure that the two ABWRs planned to expand the South Texas Project (STP) in Bay City, Texas, will be constructed on time, on budget, and to exacting standards.
For the past 26 years, Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) has hosted an annual conference in Houston that is world-renowned for its high-profile speakers and attendees’ willingness to exchange ideas and share industry forecasts. The consensus this year was that the power industry remains strong but market and political forces, often working at cross-purposes, make bringing any new power generation to market more problematic than ever.
A professor and consultant who has experience and connections with just about every part of the nuclear power world concludes that the U.S. will need to add 900 nuclear reactors in the next quarter century.
China has put its nuclear power plans on a fast track, kicking off a construction frenzy worth billions of dollars. In the latter months of 2008, the nation inaugurated construction of seven reactors, and in 2009, work will begin on another 10.
A year after Exelon Nuclear ceremoniously announced the selection of General Electric-Hitachi’s Economic & Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) design (Figure 2) as its preferred technology for a proposed two-unit nuclear facility in Victoria County, Texas, the operator of the largest nuclear power fleet in the U.S. — and the third-largest in the world — said it had reconsidered its decision. The company said it is now negotiating separately with Toshiba and GE-Hitachi, both vendors of the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR), and with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for its U.S. Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (US APWR).