Archive for the ‘Spotlight’ Category

May 23, 2014 | 9:53 am

Martian Selfie Catches AREVA CANBERRA Technology

Thanks to Planetary blogger Emily Lakdawalla for posting the current “selfie” of dusty Mars rover Curiosity (see image below), and revealing a peak-a-boo view of equipment from AREVA-subsidiary CANBERRA. 

Image source: NASA / JPL / MSSS / Thomas Appéré

The Curiosity rover carries 10 scientific instruments, one of which is CANBERRA’s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD). About the size of a small toaster, the RAD includes 72 CANBERRA detectors to help measure and identify all high-energy radiation on the Martian surface, such as protons, energetic ions of various elements, neutrons and gamma rays. 

The data collected by CANBERRA’s RAD detector will help scientists calculate the equivalent dose people would be exposed to on the surface of Mars. This measurement of Martian radiation’s potential effect on humans will help prepare and protect future astronauts exploring the Red Planet.

Just another example of how AREVA technology is out of this world!

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August 25, 2011 | 3:02 pm

Spotlight: Nuclear Industry Works Together to Support Japan

While the media focus of the March 11 Japanese earthquake and events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility has subsided, there are still dedicated and highly-skilled teams working at the site for the best possible outcome. AREVA has been an active and engaged party helping to mitigate the situation and provide solutions for Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the reactors at the Fukushima site.

But, this is only one part of the story.
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August 17, 2011 | 6:44 pm

SPOTLIGHT: U.S. Nuclear Safety is as Nuclear Safety Does

Multiple strengthening grids integral to EPR reactor construction.

Being defined by one’s actions instead of just words can be a daunting reality, but modern nuclear reactor facilities and designs unabashedly confirm the U.S. nuclear industry’s commitment and culture focused on safety.

This commitment created an astounding statistic: From the day President Eisenhower commissioned the first reactor to the present day, the ongoing commercial operations of U.S. nuclear reactors have caused zero (0) deaths in the workforce and general public. And modern reactors are designed to maintain that safety commitment with advanced technology and techniques.

For example, AREVA’s 1,600+ megawatt U.S. EPR™ reactor design completing review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) represents additional advancements in secure, robust construction and multi-layer preventive and reactive safety systems. Here are the details divided out by the numbers …
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August 11, 2011 | 1:20 pm

Spotlight: New Nuclear Projects Can Help Administration’s Job-Creation Efforts

As the Obama Administration looks to help jumpstart job creation across the United States, it should look no farther than the nuclear energy sector. Nuclear energy already plays an important role in the U.S. economy, producing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity and employing some 120,000 hardworking Americans. Yet investment in new nuclear facilities will create many additional jobs during both the construction and operation phases.
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July 27, 2011 | 10:36 am

Spotlight: The Eponymous Blog – A Look at Solar

By Katherine Berezowskyj

Now that last week’s scorching summer heat has subsided, Americans might be little less “hot headed” about a discussion on the benefits of the sun’s rays. Yes, that’s right. The same sunshine that caused you to sweat profusely at the thought of getting into your car and kept your air-conditioning running full blast also provided some of the very same electricity through solar power.

There are several different ways to harness the solar radiation, but one of the most cost-effective and land-efficient is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). It functions just as the name indicates by concentrating sunlight to boil the water and generate high-pressure steam for direct use in power generation.
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July 22, 2011 | 2:03 pm

Spotlight: Germany’s nuclear exit will mean burning more fossil fuels

by Jarrett Adams

As Germany begins its trek toward shutting down its nuclear plants by 2022, it has to answer several questions about what effect this will have on the nation’s energy and environmental outlook. Some opponents to nuclear energy have stated that Germany’s plants, which until recently produced 24 percent of its electricity, will be picked up by expanding renewables. But, at least in the short term, much of this shortfall will be met by building new fossil fuel-fired plants.

In a recent piece, Guardian columnist George Monbiot wrote:

Germany’s promise to ditch nuclear power will produce an extra 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. In June Angela Merkel announced a possible doubling of the capacity of the coal and gas plants Germany will build in the next 10 years. Already Germany has been burning brown coal, one of the most polluting fuels on earth, to make up the shortfall.

In fact, the German chancellor has called for construction of 20 new fossil plants to replace the 17 nuclear plants until additional renewable capacity is available. According to Der Spiegel, a portion of funds originally directed for investment in renewables “has now been earmarked to subsidize the construction of new coal-fired power plants.”

Part of Germany’s solution will be to replace the electricity supplied by nuclear energy with renewable generation. We applaud the intent to build more renewable generation – AREVA has built six offshore wind turbines off the German coast and, with a production facility in Bremerhaven, working to developing many more. As these renewable sources cannot supply all of the power yet, the German energy demand will have to be supplemented through coal and natural gas. This increased dependence, mostly imported from Russia, has other drawbacks besides producing more greenhouse gas emissions.

Some recent articles have highlighted how Russian industry is positioning to help Germany with its transition away from nuclear energy, including the Voice of Russia. Last week an article plainly titled “Germany to renounce nuclear energy, Gazprom is ready to help,” detailed the new partnership between Gazprom and German utility RWE to build coal and gas fired plants in the country.

Blogger Rod Adams has written an interesting post on the Energy Collective examining Russia’s stake in the German nuclear phaseout.

Other analyses have pointed out that even if Germany meets its objective to phase out nuclear energy, it will not meet the supply the nuclear plants had provided with renewables. According to an insightful post from the Breakthrough Institute:

To fully replace nuclear power with renewable energy, the country would have to scale renewable energy to provide over 42.4% of the country’s projected 2020 electricity demand, a substantial increase from the 17% of electricity demand renewable energy provided in 2010, and far greater than the country’s goal of 35% of electricity demand in 2020. In terms of non-hydro renewables, that’s an increase of 2.6 times today’s levels.

The German people have the right to choose their energy sources, including deciding against nuclear energy. But this is not necessarily the trend. Many other countries understand the constant, low-carbon energy generated by nuclear plants and are moving forward aggressively with new nuclear plants, including China, which now has some 25 plants under construction, and India and the United Kingdom.

July 13, 2011 | 9:13 am

Spotlight: What makes nuclear energy low-carbon?

As politicians, the media, and everyday Americans continue the debate regarding our future energy sources, we believe that claims should be backed by clear science, reason and logic. One often disputed argument is how one can consider nuclear energy a low carbon source. Building nuclear power plants can play a major role in reducing carbon emissions while helping to meet our growing energy demands. It is fair to ask, where do these figures come from?

First, nuclear power plants do not emit pollutants or greenhouse gases when they operate. This means that the 104 U.S. plants generating 20 percent of electricity throughout the U.S. do so without producing greenhouse gas emissions. The same is true of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydropower.
However, as with any power plant, it is not just the emissions during operation that should be taken into account. The construction and related activities from start to finish of a plant all create associated outputs, called life-cycle emissions. It is similar to buying an electric car to cut back on your own carbon footprint. It is true that the electric car produces significantly fewer emissions than the average gasoline-powered engine. However the electric car must be built, shipped, maintained, and ultimately taken to the junk yard —all of this counts. (One might also consider what is the energy source producing the electricity for the car—coal, gas, nuclear, renewables—and their related emissions).

Looking at the start of operations until the finish, numerous studies demonstrate that nuclear energy’s life-cycle emissions are comparable to renewable forms of generation, such as wind and hydropower, and still far less than those of coal or natural gas plants. Although nuclear plants do not emit greenhouse gases when generating electricity, certain processes used to build and fuel the plants do. This is true for all energy facilities. Nuclear energy life-cycle emissions include emissions associated with construction of the plant, mining and managing the fuel, routine operations, disposal of used fuel and other byproducts, and decommissioning.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that nuclear power’s life-cycle emissions range from 2 to 59 gram-equivalents of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. Comparatively, the life-cycle of wind (7 to 124 grams of carbon dioxide-equivalents) and solar photovoltaic (13 to 731 grams of carbon dioxide-equivalents) produce more, while only hydropower’s range ranked lower, at 2 to 48 grams according to the IEA. And just for comparison, life-cycle emissions from natural gas-fired plants ranged from 389 to 511 grams of carbon dioxide-equivalents per kilowatt-hour.

So what does that all mean? To make a real comparison, nuclear-generated electricity avoids almost 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year in the U.S. This is nearly as much carbon dioxide as is released from all U.S. passenger cars (but not necessarily the type of electric cars mentioned previously). If nuclear energy did not produce 20% of U.S. electricity and avoid hundreds of millions of tons of emissions, then required reductions in the U.S. would increase by more than 50 percent to achieve targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

And since one reactor can provide enough power for more than one million homes on a reliable basis, you really can do more with less.

July 7, 2011 | 3:30 pm

SPOTLIGHT: Tracking U.S. Nuclear Safety Improvements

Progress can be a matter of perspective, but in the months since an extreme earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants, the U.S. nuclear industry has clearly made many significant advancements:

  • Began examining every single one of the 104 American nuclear power plants, confirming (PDF) that the ongoing safety and operational upgrades installed during the decades since the plants were built have maintained a secure level of performance and modernization … even in the case of a flooded river plain.
  • Established a Fukushima Response Steering Committee of nuclear industry executives and leaders to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated response in the event of an emergency
  • Confirmed the vision and value of advancing America’s nuclear power fleet with new, modern reactors, such as AREVA’s EPR™ reactor, built from the ground up with active and automatic safety systems and enhanced operational design efficiencies
  • Conducted personal interviews and opened their doors to host facility tours for government, media and public scrutiny of plant security, fuel management, operational processes, and contingency plans
  • Engaged in the national nuclear fuel cycle deliberations discussing the option of recycling used fuel to recapture and reuse the 96% energy content that remains, evaluating centralized interim storage of used fuel, and the eventual development of a repository.

As with any advancement, progress is pegged on a continuum from past accomplishments to future goals. The U.S. nuclear industry’s intense, ingrained focus on safety is obvious with the unmatched statistic of zero deaths attributed to operating a commercial nuclear reactor beginning with President Eisenhower commissioning the first commercial nuclear power plant in 1954. No other energy industry in the U.S. comes close to matching this commitment and accomplishment.

In support of the nation’s goal of reduced carbon emissions and energy security, the nuclear power industry can play a larger role if we expand its current 20% supply of America’s electricity demand with modern, safe reactors. Additional reactors could significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and replace fossil-fuel-generated carbon emissions with reliable, sustainable nuclear power. In tandem with expanding renewable energies, expanding safe nuclear energy could help us meet the expected 100% increase in electricity demand by the year 2050 with low-carbon sources.

June 22, 2011 | 4:00 pm

Spotlight: Nuclear Power Supports America’s Energy Security

By Jarret Adams

Amid the many benefits that America’s 104 nuclear power plants provide, increased energy security is rarely mentioned. It is perhaps obscured by the fact that nuclear energy is by far the nation’s largest source of low-carbon electricity. People often talk about the reliability of U.S. nuclear power plants with average capacity factor above 90 percent. And nuclear power produces low-cost electricity – building a new plant is a significant investment, but the cost of electricity from this plant over its 60-year lifespan is predictable and affordable.

But what often gets lost in the shuffle is how our investment in nuclear power makes our energy supply more secure. Nuclear plant fuel comes mostly from uranium, which is plentiful. Utilities sign long-term contracts for uranium supply. Most of the mined uranium in American reactors comes from Canada, perhaps our nation’s closest ally and trading partner. (However, it should be noted that about 50% of U.S. nuclear fuel comes from converted Soviet weapons material, but that is another story.)
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