Archive for February 15th, 2012

February 15, 2012 | 5:35 pm

“A Key Marker for US Nuclear Energy”

We’ve seen a couple very solid blog posts that we recommend reading. First, see “Ending the Nuclear Drought” from the Progressive Policy Institute think tank.

America’s long nuclear energy drought is officially over. For the first time in 33 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved a construction and operating license for a new nuclear reactor in the United States – actually two of them to expand Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle generating facility in Georgia.This is good news for U.S. electricity consumers, companies, and workers….

The NRC’s decision comes on the heels of another important development which bodes well for America’s “nuclear renaissance.” Last month, President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) issued its final report. It offers a new strategy for breaking the impasse on nuclear waste disposal, which has tied politicians in knots over the proposed Yucca Mountain facility for decades…

if the NRC can follow today’s action with a commitment to speeding up the approval process, some of those costs could be mitigated. In any case, it’s critical for the United States to recapture its technological leadership in energy, which includes the civilian nuclear power industry that was first invented here.

And Christine Todd Whitman and Patrick Moore write that “New Reactors Signal US Nuclear Energy Resurgence” and cover similar ground:

These next-generation reactors will power scores of businesses and homes -1.6 million in Georgia alone – and it will do so affordably and reliably. At about two cents per kilowatt-hour, the production cost for electricity at nuclear energy facilities is lower than all other major sources of power. By comparison, energy from natural gas-fueled plants doubles that cost at roughly four cents per kilowatt-hour.

Because of the stable, low price of uranium used to fuel the production of electricity at nuclear energy facilities, the price of electricity from nuclear energy varies little. Georgia residents whose power comes from the new reactors could realize up to $20 in savings on each utility bill by 2034. These two new reactors, Vogtle units 3 and 4, are expected to save Georgia customers up to $6 billion in lower electricity rates over the life of the units as compared to a coal or natural gas plant….

Plans for new reactors at Plant Vogtle mark a critical step forward to make America’s energy supply more secure, jumpstart the economy, and protect the environment, all while enhancing safety….The simple truth is that more abundant American-made nuclear energy is a vital part of our brighter energy future, but for many decades and many reasons, our nation failed to expand our energy security by building more nuclear facilities. States like Georgia have established the way forward for nuclear energy expansion. With the right policy support, more states should follow their lead to ensure a sustainable clean energy future for all.

In both quotes, the authors recognize that as a country we have just passed a marker, a milestone of sorts. That the new reactors destined for Plant Vogtle in Burke County, GA, represent more than just good economic and energy news for the residents of South Georgia. That in some important way, they mark good news and hope for the U.S. economy and clean energy supply overall.

February 15, 2012 | 2:54 pm

Next Generation Nuclear Plant Industry Alliance, LLC Selects AREVA Concept

AREVA welcomes the announcement by the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Industry Alliance, LLC that AREVA’s prismatic core, 625 MW thermal, steam cycle modular high temperature gas-cooled reactor (SC-HTGR), AREVA’s HTGR Generation IV reactor, was selected as the reactor design concept to provide high temperature process steam for industrial applications and electricity production.

“We are very pleased that the Alliance has selected the AREVA prismatic core, modular HTGR for the co-generation of process heat and electricity,” stated Mike Rencheck, Chief Operating Officer, AREVA Inc. “The industrial end-user requirements have been the primary consideration for making this advanced technology selection over other small modular reactors. The co-generation aspects offer long term, predictable energy supply.”

The Alliance industrial partners highlighted the advanced safety and performance features of our technology. Entergy Nuclear, as a member of the Alliance, has assumed the role of applicant for the HTGR pre-application and licensing activities for the Alliance in response to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Regulatory Issue Summary, 2011-02 Rev1 – “Licensing Submittal Information and Design Development Activities for Small Modular Reactor Designs.”

The SC-HTGR design offers excellent passive and inherent safety features while producing unique high temperature performance capabilities that are well suited for co-generation, providing a broad range of process heat and/or power generation applications.

The benefits of providing high temperature process steam include:

  • 566°C main steam temperatures to drive scale industrial processes
  • Stabilized, long term fuel costs for energy intensive industries, enabling sustainable expansion of American industrial manufacturing
  • Reduced greenhouse gases (GHG) through large scale displacement of premium fossil fuels in a wide range of industrial and commercial applications
  • Job creation within the U.S., supplying materials and equipment to construct and operate HTGR-based industrial infrastructure
  • Reduced reliance on imported oil and gas supplies as industry fuels
  • Extending life of domestic oil as a strategic asset for transportation fuels and natural gas as a chemical feedstock

AREVA will continue its work with the NGNP Industry Alliance on next steps for bringing the SC-HTGR design to market. The NGNP Industry Alliance is an important part of AREVA’s commitment to expanding the use of CO2-free energy around the world.

To obtain a list of NGNP Alliance members or learn more about the NGNP Industry Alliance visit: www.ngnpalliance.org