ANS Nuclear Cafe

The ANS Nuclear Cafe is a blog owned and edited by the American Nuclear Society. Information contained on the ANS Nuclear Cafe has been provided by numerous sources. Therefore, the American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy of information contained herein. DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.


Energy markets strained by price spikes make the case for nuclear

September 16, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Energy prices surged across Europe recently as markets were stricken by reduced output from wind turbines. Low supplies of natural gas had already boosted the cost of the gas–powered generation required to make up for dips in renewable energy sources. The result: a series of dire headlines, soaring prices for natural gas, and the startup of idled coal power plants.

Woke nuclear?

September 15, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear CafeMaureen T. Koetz

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.

After decades of relinquishing its value and return on investment as “emission-free” electricity generation, segments of the nuclear industry are pursuing actions in several states to secure emission credits for avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. To harmonize electricity market stability and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, states such as New York and New Jersey have enacted programs to award zero emission credits (ZECs) to nuclear plants for their emission-free output.

Dearly earned and too long forgone, air emission credits have been the economic birthright of the nuclear industry since the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) amendments, when emission control capability first became a tradable commodity. Yet it took until 2016 for ratepayers and shareholders to receive even a small fraction of this valuable return on investment.

Leaders of advanced nuclear in Canada interviewed in new video

September 14, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear Energy TV has teamed with the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC) to launch the third program in its “Advanced Nuclear Energy Spotlight” series. According to its website, Nuclear TV is a “community-based Internet TV channel for live and on-demand nuclear energy industry video programming."

Heralding a fusion breakthrough and “a new era” for energy

September 13, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Paul Dabbar, former undersecretary for science at the Department of Energy and distinguished visiting fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, is lauding the recent successful test of a 10-ton high-temperature superconducting magnet performed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Commonwealth Fusion Systems. In an op-ed published on September 10 in The Hill, Dabbar calls for a new level of investment and support for the commercial fusion sector.

Opposition to VTR is “dogmatism” we can’t afford, says Breakthrough Institute

September 10, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A rendition of the VTR. (Graphic: DOE)

In an op-ed published online yesterday in The Hill, Ted Nordhaus and Adam Stein of the Breakthrough Institute pick apart arguments made against funding for the construction of the Versatile Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory. Nordhaus and Stein contend that opposition to the VTR has been led by “entrenched opponents of nuclear energy” who “fear that innovation of the sort that many U.S. nuclear startups are presently betting on might give the technology a second life.”

Nuclear energy ensures clean energy jobs for American workers

September 8, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear CafeSteven P. Nesbit and Lonnie R. Stephenson

America’s electric utility workers and nuclear engineers are ready to work together to help rapidly decarbonize and electrify the economy. We welcome provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that aim to prevent premature closures of our nuclear power plants. Through measures such as production tax credits, President Biden can safeguard America’s largest carbon-free energy source by recognizing the clean-air contributions of nuclear energy.

Back to school with Navigating Nuclear: ANS’s complete K-12 curriculum

August 27, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Teachers and parents around the nation are learning about Navigating Nuclear: Energizing Our World—a K-12 nuclear science curriculum that now features content for all grade levels and can be accessed at ans.org/navigatingnuclear. The free online materials are classroom-ready, and include virtual field trips, project starters, and lessons available to every teacher and parent.

Conca implores Congress to rethink funding for the VTR

August 26, 2021, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe
(Image: INL)

The nuclear community continues its collective push to restore funding for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) project at Idaho National Laboratory for fiscal year 2022. We first heard from the Department of Energy’s Katy Huff, followed by Argonne National Laboratory’s Jordi Roglans-Ribas. Now add Nuclear News opinion columnist James Conca to the list of supporters hoping to change the minds of those in Congress regarding the crucial VTR project.

Controlling global warming  

August 25, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear CafeSamuel H. Levine
(Photo: Jackl)

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.

Global warming is widely recognized as an existential threat that will have horrific consequences if left uncontrolled. The intent of this article is to create a call to action for our industry to unite in promoting nuclear energy as the best way to combat this threat while investing in research for improved deployment methodologies.  Together, we need to decriminalize our reputation by reversing the extraordinary and lasting fear generated by the sensationalistic and irresponsible reporting done throughout and after the Three Mile Island-2 nuclear accident.  Provided is context on how the world’s current energy use will only continue to accelerate global warming. Lastly is a proposed nuclear research program to develop a method to contract 1000-MWe or larger nuclear power plants that are safe and able to compete on price.   

Controversy over nuclear organizations’ involvement in the COP26 Green Zone

August 24, 2021, 2:59PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A conversation among nuclear advocates led most to believe that nuclear supporters will have a minimized voice at this year’s UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, commonly known as COP26. According to Kirsty Gogan, cofounder of TerraPraxis and a senior climate and energy advisor to the U.K. government, “All three Green Zone applications by nuclear groups were rejected.” However, it seems some of that may be due to miscommunication regarding application deadlines for the COP26 Green Zone.

Op-ed asserts that coal power will replace Diablo Canyon’s output

August 23, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

With California’s electricity rates the highest in the continental United States, and with rolling blackouts last summer and more blackouts likely this year, now is not the time to shut down the emission-free, reliable energy source that is the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, according to Gene Nelson, the legal assistant for Californians for Green Nuclear Power.

The two-unit Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is scheduled to be shut down in 2025.

Lessons from a research reactor director regarding ANSI/ANS-15.4

August 20, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeMelinda Krahenbuhl

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.

Introduction

In April 2016, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission initiated an investigation that led to enforcement proceedings regarding my actions while employed as the research reactor director at Reed College. In the course of those proceedings, the director of the NRC Office of Enforcement made a finding that I had submitted incomplete or inaccurate information to the NRC in 2015. As part of the resolution we reached, I agreed to outline those events so that others can learn from my experience. I also offered to propose a redraft of ANSI/ANS-15.4, Selection and Training of Personnel for Research Reactors, with an aim of making the challenges I encountered less likely to recur for other research reactor directors.

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Chicago news program spotlights nuclear plants slated to close in Illinois

August 18, 2021, 3:05PMANS Nuclear Cafe
A screenshot of Illinois legislators before session from an August 17 video of the Chicago Tonight television program. (Source: YouTube)

Yesterday, a television news program, Chicago Tonight, shined the spotlight on the financial troubles and potential shutdown of two of Illinois’s six nuclear power plants. The host of the show introduced the issue by stating, “Illinois lawmakers may be back in Springfield [the state’s capital] soon for a second extra session [to] strike a deal on a massive energy package.” Readers of Nuclear News might be thinking, “It’s about time!”

Time to get serious about our energy future

August 18, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear CafeSteven Curtis
(Photo: mik Krakow)

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.

It is hard to get anyone to agree on anything these days. However, it’s pretty safe to say that most of us want clean air to breathe and adequate energy supplies. It is difficult to see any current or proposed energy policy that brings us closer to that goal. In fact, over the past 15 years, we have not put a dent in our “carbon footprint,” despite the proliferation of “renewable energy” supported by staggeringly large subsidies. What is really puzzling, however, is the huge amount of subsidy money going toward fossil fuels when we are told that these have to be gone completely by the year 2050. Of $18.4 billion dollars in subsidies in 2016, 59 percent went to renewables, 25 percent went to fossil fuels, and 15 percent went to “energy efficiency.”

Report: GHG reductions will flatline without existing and advanced nuclear

August 17, 2021, 3:09PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Carbon emission reductions from the power sector are likely to flatline after 2025 unless clean energy innovations and net-zero commitments from utilities pick up steam, concludes a report out this month from ClearPath, a conservative, Washington, D.C.–based clean energy nonprofit organization.

Clear Path to a Clean Energy Future: The Role of Utility Commitments on the Path to 2050 is the inaugural edition of a report to be published annually to track power sector trends and model the impacts of new technologies and policies. For the 2021 analysis, the authors engaged the research firm Rhodium Group to model ClearPath-designed scenarios using RHG-NEMS, a version of the National Energy Modeling System developed by the Energy Information Administration.

Virtual reality in the nuclear community

August 17, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear CafePayal Gupta

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.

The nuclear industry is rapidly embracing virtual reality (VR) technology to optimize operations and improve safety. VR companies build an interactive 3D virtually realistic environment where teams can be trained without compromising safety.

Rensselaer to use DOE funds for nuclear efficiency and safety projects

August 16, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Photo: RPI)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will use $1.5 million in grants from the Department of Energy to lead projects aimed at upgrading nuclear power plant efficiency and safety, the university announced earlier this month. The grants are part of more than $61 million in awards recently announced by the DOE to support nuclear energy research.

Could Hawaii get its clean energy from nuclear?

August 11, 2021, 6:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A satellite image of Hawaii. Image: NASA

Jacob Wiencek, a self-described concerned resident of Honolulu, is doing his part to encourage the state of Hawaii to embrace nuclear power. An opinion piece written by Wiencek was published in Honolulu Civil Beat, an online, nonprofit news site, on August 4.

Setting the record straight on the Versatile Test Reactor

August 9, 2021, 2:50PMANS Nuclear CafeJordi Roglans-Ribas
A rendering of the VTR facility. (Image: INL)

The Department of Energy announced in 2020 its approval of Critical Decision 1 for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) project, a one-of-a-kind scientific user facility that would support research and development of innovative nuclear energy and other technologies. The decision was well received by the nuclear energy community—after all, the DOE’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee had studied and reported on the need for the VTR and found strong support for the project among reactor developers, federal agencies and national laboratories, and university researchers.

The VTR is “crucial” for U.S. national security, Atlantic Council leaders contend

August 4, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Mies

Graham

An article written by national security experts Thomas Graham Jr. and Richard W. Mies, published online in The National Interest on August 3, argues that a recent move by the House Appropriations Committee to zero out the budget for the Versatile Test Reactor “has grave ramifications for U.S. national security and the fight against climate change.” Funding and building the VTR would present an opportunity for the United States to regain its leadership role in nuclear reactor designs and fuel, Graham and Mies assert.

Former ambassador Graham is chairman of the board of Lightbridge Corporation and former general counsel and acting director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Retired admiral Mies served as the fourth commander in chief of U.S. Strategic Command. Graham and Mies serve as cochairs of the Atlantic Council’s Nuclear Energy and National Security Coalition. Select excerpts from their article are provided here.