CEI Returns from Outage Season
23 Nov, 2009
[Approx. Read Time: 4 minutes]
We’re back. After a month of outage season it’s time to get back to work. Most of Clean Energy Insight’s contributors are back from working their respective outages. Contributors spent time working long hours over the past month at places like Diablo Canyon, Sequoyah, Three Mile Island, VC Summer, Oconee, and Salem nuclear power plants. While working on-site and in the field at these plants, everyone gained invaluable experiences that will allow us to provide informed opinions and factual information to you via Clean Energy Insight in the future.
Although we did miss a lot while we were gone, we would like to provide you with a brief summary of some of the more important stories from around the nuclear industry over the past month. More extensive commentary is to follow on some of these issues.
Possibly the most promising energy legislation so far this year made its way to the game one week ago. Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) co-authored the bi-partisan Clean Energy Act of 2009 that places more importance on nuclear power than other legislative measures introduced so far. Both Senators are answering the call of several non-partisan groups that claim an inclusion of nuclear in energy legislation will reduce both costs and the use of resources. This comes after Senator Webb broke with party lines and said that he could not support the climate change bills currently going through Congress. It seems that this legislation is a step in the direction of common sense legislation that places more importance on nuclear power. The most reliable, cleanest, and cheapest form of energy available.
““The Clean Energy Act of 2009” spends $20 billion over the next 10 to 20 years to fund a series of loan guarantees; nuclear education and workforce training assistance; research into nuclear reactor lifetime-extension; and the development of solar power, biofuels, and alternative power technologies. The bill follows the urging of Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to increase funds available for the development of nuclear power facilities and technology.
“If we were going to war, we wouldn’t mothball our nuclear navy and start subsidizing sailboats. If addressing climate change and creating low-cost, reliable energy are national imperatives, we shouldn’t stop building nuclear plants and start subsidizing windmills,” said Senator Alexander. “This legislation will create the business and regulatory environment to double our country’s nuclear power production within 20 years and to launch five Mini-Manhattan projects to make advanced clean energy technologies effective and cost-competitive.”
“This legislation is measurable, achievable, and targeted. By making a concerted investment in nuclear power and other renewable energy technologies, we can effectively address our nation’s energy requirements and also the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” said Senator Webb. “This legislation is a practical approach to move the United States toward providing clean, carbon-free sources of energy, to help invigorate the economy, and to strengthen our workforce with educational opportunities and high-paying jobs on U.S. soil.””
“Other clean energy sources can’t meet the needs of a growing economy.”
Westinghouse Electric CEO Dr. Aris Candris provided a great article in the Wall Street Journal where he outlined the need for nuclear power in the United States. The nuclear industry is fortunate to have someone like Dr. Candris at the forefront. As always, Candris does a great job putting the need for nuclear power in a global context. He likens nuclear power to a stimulus package in itself. Here’s what he had to say about jobs:
“To date, the recent growth of the nuclear energy industry has created at least 15,000 jobs, with many more on the horizon. Westinghouse’s work alone in the deployment of four new nuclear plants now under construction in China will create or sustain an additional 5,000 U.S. jobs in 20 states. These jobs are in fields such as engineering and design, and in the manufacturing of fuel rods and assemblies, pumps, motors, circuit breakers, etc.
Beyond that, the American Council on Global Nuclear Competitiveness (a trade group) estimates the nuclear energy industry will create as many as 350,000 jobs over the next 20 years, many in traditional building trades (welders, pipe-fitters, construction workers) that have been hard hit by both global competition and the current economic downturn.”
In the past, we have covered the necessity of nuclear power in any effective climate change/energy legislation (here, and here). NEI President and CEO Marvin Fertel posted a concise article at The Hill while we were out. You should read it for yourself. Here are the first and last paragraphs from that piece:
“There’s a growing consensus in Congress across party lines that significant expansion of nuclear energy is needed to meet our electricity demand while achieving the country’s ambitious climate change goals. The nuclear industry is moving forward with 13 applications for a potential 22 new reactors under active review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The industry also has identified federal policies necessary to facilitate the expansion of the nuclear component of our energy portfolio to the scale that numerous independent analyses have concluded are necessary.
Addressing climate change while producing the quantity of electricity needed to sustain economic growth and maintain a high quality of life necessitates a significant contribution from nuclear energy as part of our diversified portfolio. Inclusion of a meaningful nuclear energy title by itself doesn’t get you to an agreement in Congress on climate change legislation. But at the same time, you can’t get there without it.”
NRG CEO David Crane told the US Senate that in order for electric vehicles to be used on a large scale while meeting carbon emission targets, nuclear would have to be used. Here are a couple of quotes from the article from World Nuclear News:
“A combination of electric vehicles with clean generation and nuclear power for baseload will solve America’s climate and energy security problems, according to testimony from a senior utility chief.Crane said: “We need to build a zero carbon baseload foundation under our wind farms and solar fields. That foundation is new advanced nuclear power.”“We need to focus on a commercial foothold strategy that will quickly capture a significant market share for electric vehicles in key American cities and city clusters,” said Crane, adding that “the electrification of our transportation sector will provide the cure to our national addiction to foreign oil.”"
In order to meet emissions targets and employ more clean energy, President Obama and the Department of Energy plan to get the help of the Japanese nuclear industry with recycling American nuclear fuel. This is promising since the practice has been outlawed since the Jimmy Carter years, and the Obama Administration is attempting to end the Yucca Mountain project.
Progress Energy is getting realistic in response to the recent climate change and energy legislation that is passing through Congress. Progress released a statement saying that in order to realistically achieve an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, at least 12 new reactors would have to be added to its own energy portfolio. Progress is currently planning to build new reactors at the Shearon Harris site in Raleigh, NC, and the Crystal River site in Levy County, FL.
A group of researchers at Clemson University reported that the nuclear industry in South Carolina is responsible for supporting 28,704 jobs in the state. The group upstaged their rivals at the University of South Carolina who recently reported that BMW employed 23,050 jobs in the state. The group also found that if planned nuclear reactors were to get built in the state, an additional 12,400 permanent jobs would be created. I have heard in the past that nuclear energy is South Carolina’s number one trade export.