Deloitte weighs in on achieving zero-carbon goals

The accounting firm Deloitte on September 21 issued a report on the decarbonization strategies of 22 utilities in the United States.

The 38-page report, Utility decarbonization strategies: Renew, reshape, and refuel to zero, is available online.

A summary of the report is available here.

Op-ed: UAMPS project needed for abundant, carbon-free energy

Hunter

An op-ed piece in the September 17 Salt Lake City Tribune touts nuclear energy as needed for a carbon-free future. The piece was written by Doug Hunter, chief executive officer and general manager of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS).

Five big US utilities committed to zero carbon emissions by 2050

Over the past three years, some of the country's biggest utilities have been committing to weaning themselves off carbon-emitting generation by 2050, reported a September 16 story from Green Tech Media (GTM).

Here's a look at the five largest U.S. utilities by market capitalization that have set net-zero targets so far:

IAEA Director General reports to agency's board

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi delivering his opening statement to the IAEA Board of Governors. Photo: D. Calma/IAEA

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, delivered a statement on September 14 to the agency’s Board of Governors during a meeting in Vienna, Austria.

Grossi briefed Member States on nuclear verification and monitoring in Iran. He explained that he had met with President Rouhani during a visit to Iran and that they had reached agreement on the resolution of the safeguards implementation issues raised by the IAEA.

Crews make progress on Hanford tank farm improvements

Crews work on Hanford's tank farm improvements. Photo: DOE

Work crews at the Department of Energy's Hanford Site recently completed removal and staging of 52 large concrete covers used to shield hoses for transferring radioactive waste between waste tanks in Hanford’s AY and AP farms. (Tank farms are groups of tanks.) The covers, known as “barns,” are being staged as part of an infrastructure improvement project until they can be used in the building of a hose system that will transfer waste from Hanford's A farm to the AP farm.

Georgia Power provides Vogtle project update, addresses COVID concerns

Vogtle Unit 3, in August. Photo: Georgia Power

The target in-service dates for the Vogtle nuclear expansion project remain November 2021 for Unit 3 and November 2022 for Unit 4, plant owner Georgia Power announced in an August 31 report to the Georgia Public Service Commission. The project is now approximately 87 percent complete.

BAS: Don’t be afraid of nuclear energy

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) is currently featuring on its website a series of five articles by young American and Russian scholars on nuclear safety, with a focus on the industry’s three major accidents: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.

In one of those articles, “Don’t let nuclear accidents scare you away from nuclear power,” the authors conclude that “even after accounting for both the immediate and long-term toll of the three accidents, nuclear power has a remarkably safe track record compared to coal, natural gas, and even hydroelectric power.”

Yucca Mountain? The Bulletin says to look elsewhere

Noting that both presidential candidates are opposed to the Yucca Mountain repository project in Nevada, David Klaus writes in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that “it is time for everyone else to accept that Yucca Mountain is finally off the table, and for the United States to begin to seriously consider realistic alternatives for safely managing the more than 80,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel currently sitting at 72 operating and shutdown commercial nuclear reactor sites across the country.”

After decades, Democrats' platform endorses nuclear energy

In its recently released party platform, the Democratic Party says it favors a “technology-neutral” approach to energy that includes “all zero-carbon technologies, including hydroelectric power, geothermal, existing and advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and storage,” Robert Bryce writes in an article published Sunday on the Forbes blog. The statement marks the first time since 1972 that the Democratic Party has said anything positive in its platform about nuclear energy, according to Bryce.

Shellenberger: Stop the war on nuclear

Shellenberger

U.S. civil nuclear cooperation pacts—so-called 123 Agreements—are too strict, says Michael Shellenberger, founder and president of Environmental Progress, in an August 13 City Journal article.

Shellenberger reasons that the 123 Agreements force nations that have expressed interest in developing nuclear energy programs to turn to Russia and China. That result is bad, Shellenberger continues, not only for the American nuclear industry, but also for the global nonproliferation movement.

Conca: What would Biden-Harris administration do for nuclear energy?

With the Democratic Convention now under way, it is good to remember that all the leading climate scientists say that we cannot address climate change without significant nuclear power, Jim Conca noted in his opinion column on the Forbes blog site. Supporting nuclear power - or not - is a clear signal about how serious a candidate is about climate change and supporting science over mere activism, Conca said.

Nuclear has a good mythbuster

There’s a new mythbuster out in the Idaho desert by the name of Don Miley, separating nuclear fact from fiction in the service of science and the Idaho National Laboratory. An article released by INL’s Communications and Outreach staff on August 3—“Nuclear MythBusting: Using Social Media to Set the Record Straight”—explains what you need to know about INL’s new public outreach venture on YouTube. And Miley, a longtime INL tour guide, tells what everyone should know about nuclear technologies in these short videos. Just head to INL’s YouTube channel.

NIA: Repeal restriction on foreign ownership, control, domination of U.S. reactors

A new report from the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, U.S. Nuclear Innovation in a Global Economy: Updating an Outdated National Security Framework, argues for the repeal of the Atomic Energy Act’s restriction on foreign ownership, control, or domination of nuclear reactors—the so-called FOCD provision.

The art of the 10,000-year warning

How to warn future generations to the location of buried long-lived radioactive waste has been debated for decades. Everything from massive obelisks inscribed with ominous warnings and fields of concrete “thorns,” to “atomic priesthoods” and cats that change color when exposed to ionizing radiation—all are real ideas that have been proposed. Others argue, rather convincingly, whether any such warning is needed at all.

The multifaceted issue of nuclear semiotics is the subject of a recent article in the web magazine BBC Future.

TerraPower looks to turn DOE’s waste uranium into actinium-225

This vial contains traces of actinium within a mixture of thorium and uranium. Photo: Isotek

An article recently published in Chemical & Engineering News describes TerraPower’s efforts to extract actinium-225, a radioisotope with therapeutic potential, from highly radioactive uranium-233 owned by the Department of Energy and slated for disposal. While others are working to ramp up production of Ac-225 by using a linear accelerator or cyclotron, TerraPower hopes to harvest between 200,000 and 600,000 doses a year from U-233 to increase the global supply.

Barrasso: The future of nuclear energy is American

Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) authored an op-ed that was published in the Casper Star Tribune this week on the importance of rebuilding domestic uranium production. The article was published on the heels of a draft Senate bill, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020, that was released on July 29.

Metal frameworks could capture krypton-85 during reprocessing

Separation of Kr-85 from spent nuclear fuel by a highly selective metal organic framework. Image: Mike Gipple/National Energy Technology Laboratory

According to a story published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on July 24, the capture of gaseous fission products such as krypton-85 during the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel could be aided by the adsorption of gasses into an advanced type of soft crystalline material, metal organic frameworks(MOF), which feature high porosity and large internal surface areas that can trap an array of organic and inorganic compounds.

U.S. study finds advanced reactors can be cost effective

Nuclear Engineering International reported this week on a new study for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) program. The 90-page study, “Cost and Performance Requirements for Flexible Advanced Nuclear Plants in Future US Power Markets,” finds that advanced reactors that cost less than $3,000/kW will create the most value for plant owners. The work was funded by ARPA-E’s Modeling-Enhanced Innovations Trailblazing Nuclear Energy Reinvigoration (MEITNER) program.