nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

The ‘all-of-the-above’ story used to sneak nuclear power in as a climate-action technology along with renewables .

“These claims are almost entirely misleading as you start looking at the facts”

Nuclear power gets another look in ‘all-of-the-above’ energy approach as climate worries mount

But critics cite safety concerns, costs and say widespread use of reactors is decades away.

Utility Dive. Jan. 20, 2023, Nuclear energy is increasingly getting another look by federal and state officials seeking to cut greenhouse gas emissions and bolster energy security………

A federal zero-emission nuclear power production credit, state legislation ending bans on nuclear plant construction and state policies easing development of small modular reactors, defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency as advanced nuclear reactors with a capacity of up to 300 MW, are among the recent developments spurring renewed interest in the industry.   

Detractors cite safety risks, rising costs and other concerns. Critics also caution that a significant increase in nuclear generation in the U.S. is years, maybe even decades, away……….

In the U.S…..nuclear electricity generation declined for a second consecutive year in 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Output from nuclear power plants totaled 778 million MWh, or 1.5% less than in 2020. Nuclear’s share of U.S. electricity generation across all sectors in 2021 was similar to its average share in the previous decade: 19%.

As of November, seven units with a net summer capacity of 5,505 MW had retired since 2018, according to the EIA. The agency listed four Entergy plants: Palisades in Michigan; Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 in New York; and Pilgrim in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Also retired were two Exelon plants: Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and Oyster Creek in New Jersey and NextEra Energy’s Duane Arnold facility in Iowa.

In addition, California’s Diablo Canyon, which is slated to retire a unit in 2024 and another in 2025, could remain open with funding conditionally approved by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Federal money, state policies induce nuclear investment

The Inflation Reduction Act, which commits $369 billion for climate efforts, includes a zero-emission nuclear power production credit. It provides up to $15 a MWh for electricity produced, assuming labor and wage requirements are met.

The credit will be available for plants in service in 2024 and would extend through 2032, according to the DOE.

However, the fiscal year 2023 omnibus spending measure enacted last month cut funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy by $182 million from fiscal year 2022, to $1.47 billion. The FY 2023 spending includes $85 million for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, $322 million for fuel cycle research and development, $114 million for accident tolerant fuels and $259 million for reactor research and development. 

Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said the $1.7 trillion spending bill includes “robust funding” for public-private partnerships and support for nuclear energy education and research infrastructure. But she said it “fell short” of $2.1 billion needed to bolster the domestic nuclear fuel supply.

Federal spending to provide incentives for nuclear energy development began before Congress and President Joe Biden approved the omnibus spending bill last year.

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Biden signed into law in November 2021 includes $62 billion for clean energy projects. Spending was directed at advanced nuclear projects, preventing the premature retirement of nuclear plants and considering how nuclear power may produce hydrogen for other energy applications. 

In addition, states are looking to bolster nuclear power. Christine Csizmadia, senior director of state government affairs and advocacy at the NEI, said several states are broadening policies that aim to advance nuclear energy. Legislation supports studies of small modular reactors, providing tax incentives for nuclear power plant construction and ending moratoriums on new plants…………………………………………………………………………………..

The U.S. is not a ‘great market’ for new nuclear plants

Policies giving nuclear energy a boost have their limits. 

Bret Kugelmass, CEO of Last Energy a manufacturer of what it calls micro modular reactors that generate about 20 MW, is active in European markets. It’s announced 10 projects in Poland, two in Romania and has “some activity” in the U.K. that has yet to be publicly detailed, he said in an interview……………………………………

Next nuclear technology is seen as a decade away

Avi Brenmiller, president and CEO of Brenmiller Energy, a thermal energy storage manufacturer, said the next nuclear technology is 10 years away “to be safe and clean, and I don’t see the move yet.”…………………………………………………………

Critics say nuclear power is potentially dangerous and that its promoters are overly optimistic about construction schedules. 

Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said during the forum that nuclear power has the potential for a “catastrophic accident that could lead to large scale radiological contamination of the environment, massive economic damages and the potential for significant human health impacts.”

The industry cannot easily estimate the risks associated with storms, earthquakes and tidal waves as climate change makes weather more unpredictable, he said.

Even if a reactor is safe against accidents, it’s vulnerable to terrorists or military attacks as in Ukraine at the hands of Russia, Lyman said.

He questioned whether SMRs are easier to cool and are less radioactive than light water reactors “and therefore we don’t have to worry about it as much.”

“These claims are almost entirely misleading as you start looking at the facts,” he said.

Developers looking to reduce capital expenses and operating costs are cutting “rigorous requirements” for sites in or near populated urban centers or towns, Lyman said.

David Schlissel, director of resource planning analysis at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, cited cost overruns and schedule delays in the nuclear power industry.

“We don’t need a transition from coal to nuclear,” he said at the Dec. 15 forum. “We’re already pretty far along a transition from coal and natural gas to renewables.”……………………… https://www.utilitydive.com/news/nuclear-power-smr-climate-ira-omnibus-spending/639484/

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January 21, 2023 - Posted by | climate change, USA

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