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.
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).
A German finance court in September questioned the constitutionality of a controversial tax on fuel used in nuclear power plants, a decision that could influence rulings in various finance courts around the country that are reviewing complaints by nuclear operators regarding the levy.
The number of companies pulling out of the nuclear business continues to grow. Just weeks after Louisiana-based engineering firm The Shaw Group announced it would sell its 20% stake in the nuclear company Westinghouse back to partner Toshiba, German engineering conglomerate Siemens said that, prompted by the German government’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022, it would quit the nuclear business.
Building on the success of the Fluegas 2700 combustion gas analyzer, the new SERVOTOUGH FluegasExact integrates Servomex’s unique Flowcube flow sensor technology to give users even more confidence in their combustion gas measurements. The analyzer features a patented zirconium oxide cell for oxygen measurement and a thick film catalytic sensor for measuring carbon monoxide (CO) […]
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.