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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s a digital world, and even aging power plants are experiencing the benefits of digital controls technologies. The following cover stories provide insight into the latest options and inspiration for your own plant controls projects.
Existing nuclear power plants are increasingly facing the conversion to digital instrumentation and controls technology. Meanwhile, new nuclear designs have digital technology integrated throughout the plant. Digital controls will soon be inevitable, so how do we make the transition as smooth as possible? Without losing focus on the technical solutions, organizations have to pay attention to the nontechnical issues as well.
Given delays and cancellations of new generating capacity, pushing the existing power generation fleet is more important than ever. At ELECTRIC POWER 2009, multiple presentations explored the premise that an active knowledge management strategy — requiring a blend of digital and human elements unique to each power plant — will help you extract the most productivity from your assets.