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.

An open letter to Secretary Granholm

April 6, 2021, 9:09AMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Madam Secretary:

Congratulations on becoming America’s 16th secretary of energy! Welcome to one of the most misunderstood, confounding, yet important and underappreciated agencies in the federal government.

Even the name—the U.S. Department of Energy—is misleading. Given that the majority of its funding and operational focus is dedicated in some form or another to the splitting and fusing of atoms, the DOE should probably be called the Department of Nuclear Technology and Other Energy and Science Stuff.

Leaked report says EU can tag nuclear investments as sustainable

March 30, 2021, 6:57AMNuclear News

Within the European Union, recognizing nuclear energy as green, sustainable, and worthy of investment depends on nuclear being added to the EU taxonomy of “sustainable investments that have been found to ‘do no significant harm’ to human health and to the environment.” The EU will issue a final taxonomy this year, and a decision to include nuclear power—which was excluded from a draft released in late 2020—could raise prospects for public and private nuclear investments both inside and outside the EU.

The decision rests with the European Commission (EC), which will take into consideration expert opinions, including those in a scientific report of the EC’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) that was requested last summer. The JRC's 387-page report, Technical assessment of nuclear energy with respect to the ‘do no significant harm’ criteria of Regulation (EU) 2020/852 (‘Taxonomy Regulation’), was leaked to the media and made available online on March 26. The report supports adding nuclear to the taxonomy.

NRC's RIC: A clear line of sight for accident tolerant fuel deployment

March 12, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

To nuclear fuel suppliers, today’s operating reactors represent a defined customer base with predictable demands. Utilities must order their next fuel reload far in advance of an outage; enrichers and fabricators work to fill those orders. Adapting such a highly optimized supply chain to accommodate new products—fuels with new materials, claddings, and higher enrichments and burnups—will require alignment between all parties involved to meet the associated research, enrichment, manufacturing, regulatory, transportation, and operating experience needs.

That was the consensus during “Current Accident Tolerant Fuel Environment,” a technical session held on March 9 during the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's four-day Regulatory Information Conference (RIC, March 8-11). The session was chaired by NRC Chairman Christopher Hanson, who was taking part in his first RIC as a member of the commission.

The economics of wind power

January 27, 2011, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeUlrich Decher, Ph.D.

It is often stated that since no one can charge money for the wind, wind-generated electricity is free. This is not true. A modern wind turbine, which can generate 2 megawatts of electricity (MWe) when the wind is blowing, costs about $3.5 million installed. Five hundred of these turbines installed at a wind farm, to be able to generate 1000 MWe, would cost $1.75 billion. Add in other costs, such as for operation and maintenance (O&M) and transmission lines, and the total sum could match the approximate $4 billion required to build a nuclear plant.