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A rendering of the AP1000 reactor by Westinghouse  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Prospective workers train in China to become operators at the world's first AP1000 reactor, an advanced Generation III+ reactor design by Westinghouse. The U.S. has several applications for the new reactor type pending, but with construction already started on the Chinese plant, China will almost certainly beat the U.S. to become the first to build the new reactor.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
While adoption in the U.S. still languishes, China's nuclear power is flourishing

One of the biggest controversies in the environmental community is the topic of nuclear power.  Some see it as the best short-term hope for clean, affordable alternative energy.  Others are fearful of the waste that is associated with older reactor designs.  Despite modern reactor designs recycling much of the spent fuel and being built with safer designs, these fears remain. 

The net result is that despite a couple pending applications, the U.S. is stuck with aging nuclear reactions, which indeed play to critics worst fears -- lacking much of the safety and waste recycling of modern designs.

Elsewhere, though, times are kind to the nuclear industry.  China, in particular is looking to join France and Japan in providing a large portion of its power from nuclear energy.  The nation, which currently relies heavily on coal power, is including nuclear development in a diverse program which also includes massive solar and wind power growth.

Concrete was just poured at the site of a new reactor in Sanmen, China, built by the Westinghouse Electric Company, The Shaw Group Inc., China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation, and the Sanmen Nuclear Power Company of China National Nuclear Corporation.  The reactor will be the first of four 1,100 MWe reactors built.

The new reactor, the Westinghouse AP1000, is an extremely advanced design which focuses on modularity and automation, as well as safety and optimum fuel use.  It is classed as a Generation III+ reactor and is the only such reactor to receive Design Certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

In total, the four reactor project will cost the nation approximately $8B USD.  However, it will put them in a position of nuclear leadership, with no other nation currently employing this reactor design, the latest from Westinghouse.  Westinghouse President and CEO Aris Candris states, "Completion of concrete pour is a major milestone that visibly moves the Sanmen project from the design and discussion stage to the construction stage.  More importantly, by getting this project underway on schedule, we are further helping to ensure that baseload electricity generation will begin at this plant as intended in 2013."

Some Chinese feel less than comfortable about the new reactor, though, stating that their country's people are being used as test rats for unproven designs (source in Chinese).  Regardless, construction appears geared to continue as planned.

The U.S., despite strong opposition, in coming years may roll out an even more advanced reactor design, with Georgia Power Company reaching an agreement late last year to construct two Revision 16 reactors in Vogtle, Georgia.  There are, in total, twelve such pending Combined Construction and Operating Licenses (COLs) filed for, though the go ahead from government regulators still remains.  The proposed plans may have to survive heavy legal pressure from anti-nuclear groups if they hope to advance.  Thus the status of the U.S.'s nuclear future remains significantly more questionable of that of China.



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Its time for us to move on...
By MrBungle123 on 4/20/2009 4:14:55 PM , Rating: 5
Can we please get over this ridiculous fear that every nuke reactor is a ticking time bomb and start modernizing our electrical infrastructure? Please?




RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Tamale on 4/20/2009 4:31:50 PM , Rating: 5
AMEN BROTHER.

We need GenIIIe reactors here in the U.S... Yesterday!


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By TomZ on 4/20/2009 4:42:10 PM , Rating: 5
This is an area that I really hoped that Obama would have pushed more, considering all the rhetoric about green power and energy independence. Only an ignoramus doesn't realize that nuclear is far and away the best technology that is available today and can be used on a large scale.

Let's forget about niche power generation like solar, wind, and tidal; instead, invest those resources in building nuclear power plants. That's what I would call a real solution, instead a the political so-called "solution" that creates some jobs but at the same time drives up our energy costs.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Fenixgoon on 4/20/2009 5:40:38 PM , Rating: 4
research in renewable energy is worthwhile, i think.

however, for the immediate future, as well as large-scale, highly reliable power generation, the advantages of nuclear power are basically irrefutable, particularly with new reactor designs.

NIMBYism is the only thing standing in the way :(


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By TomZ on 4/20/2009 5:49:44 PM , Rating: 4
I agree - research is fine, but let's not waste valuable resources deploying the crappy "alternative energy" technology that we have today that doesn't measure up.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Samus on 4/21/09, Rating: -1
RE: Its time for us to move on...
By CommodoreVic20 on 4/21/09, Rating: -1
RE: Its time for us to move on...
By spwrozek on 4/21/2009 8:26:36 AM , Rating: 5
Or we just build new coal plants and phase out old ones/keep them as peakers. We have an abundance of coal and we should damn well use it.

In Michigan our Governor will not give Consumers a freaking permit to build a new 800 MW coal plant (she put a freeze on all permits). Which will be very efficient and would allow them to phase out about 400 MW of plants that were built in the 50's and have high emissions.

We also need to go with nuclear power though. It is the best clean alternative. Now, though we have the coal so we should use it.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By MrBungle123 on 4/21/2009 10:42:31 AM , Rating: 4
How about this:

1. We build modern nuclear power plants.

2. Get rid of that stupid ban on reprocessing nuclear waste back into new fuel rods instated by Carter.

3. Begin implementing Coal to Liquids technology to reduce dependence on foreign oil.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Starcub on 4/22/2009 6:56:29 PM , Rating: 2
Liquified coal is even worse than coal in terms of environmental impact and cost: http://fora.tv/2007/09/13/Steve_Chu_A_New_Energy_P...


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Starcub on 4/22/2009 6:10:17 PM , Rating: 2
Coal is even worse than nuclear in terms of environmental impact. Emmissions from coal plants are also radioactive. Carbon sequestration is need. The problem is that nobody wants to do it because it's too expensive.


By Mojo the Monkey on 4/21/2009 5:29:00 PM , Rating: 3
Actually we have plenty of uranium left in Wyoming, if we should so choose to go get it. Many of the mines were shut down for lack of demand, not for depletion.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Tamale on 4/21/2009 7:17:38 PM , Rating: 1
Are you talking about geothermal heat pump technology or geothermal electricity generation technology?

geothermal heat pumps are pretty popular and growing in the U.S.. and they definitely should be more widely used.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By quiksilvr on 4/20/09, Rating: -1
RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Clairvoyance on 4/20/2009 8:04:44 PM , Rating: 5
France has a much smaller problem with waste because they don't have the same BS political restrictions on reprocessing as we do.
Get rid of waste + get more fuel back. Win-win; what's not to like? What exactly the hell do opponents think is going to happen - terrorists are suddenly going to break into heavily defended nuclear sites and steal weapons grade plutonium, just because we started reprocessing again?

In any case, both nuclear power and comprehensive efficiency improvements are steps we should be simultaneously taking right now, in addition to others like increased solar research, and electrical infrastructure upgrades.

There is no one solution to the energy or environmental crises; simply building a bunch of nuclear plants willy nilly and nothing else, or mandating everybody switch to driving hybrid cars, or spamming the landscape with windmills isn't going to accomplish anything.

There is no reason to delay nuclear adoption while you're fixing the multitudes of relatively simple widespread inefficiency fixes.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By randomly on 4/20/2009 9:37:57 PM , Rating: 5
France has the same problems with waste as the US. The US hase 2.5x more reactors so we generate considerably more waste than they do.

The basic proble of nuclear waste is the once through fuel cycle using Low Enriched Uranium. Only a few percent of the fuel is consumed and it generates a lot of high level spent fuel waste. France does reprocess their fuel, but only once. This does not significantly reduce their high level waste. The US does not reprocess commercial fuel at all.
Originally France was planning to reprocess their waste and burn it in a Sodium Cooled Fast Reactor design (the Super Phoenix). But technical problems and anti-nuke political pressure eventually killed the plan and the Super Phoenix was shut down. France is now storing their spent fuel just as the US is.
The waste problem can be solved by reprocessing the fuel and putting it back into the reactors. This requires different reactor designs however like the Super Phoenix, CANDU, or Molten Salt Reactors and it's also more expensive than using new freshly mined uranium fuel.
Another option is using Thorium as a fuel in a Molten Salt Reactor. With inline fuel reprocessing this results in very small amounts of waste and it's also a waste that decays away to very low levels in a relatively short period of time compared to spent fuel from the current Light Water Reactors. Molten Salt Reactors can also burn the spent fuel waste that has been accumulating from the current Light Water Reactors.
However these options require development to be ready for commercial deployment and that's 15-20 years away.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By TA152H on 4/20/2009 10:59:07 PM , Rating: 1
Why don't we dump it somewhere in China for "reprocessing". They always send us toxic stuff under the guise it's something we want. We could return the favor.

There's always New Jersey too. Today New Jersey stands for something. All you anti-nuke freaks don't seem to care that without toxic wastes, New Jersey would lose its identity. It would become another South Dakota, which may or may not actually exist. I'm still pretty sure we fabricated this state to fool the Soviets into wasting missiles on area that doesn't exist. Think of it rationally, do we really need two Dakotas? Do we even need one?

In short, let's keep Jersey toxic. It might not be the best identity, but it keeps them relevant, and that's something in itself.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By FITCamaro on 4/20/2009 11:35:40 PM , Rating: 2
That is exactly what some prey on. But in reality there are far easier ways to get nuclear material than stealing it from the US.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By cheetah2k on 4/21/2009 12:34:52 AM , Rating: 2
This is certainly a good news story for Australians.

While the mineral ore prices have been battling the Global meltdown, at least this will bolster our hopes for the future.

Australia holds over 40% of the worlds known uranium (not weapons grade) deposits.

Back in 2006 China signed an agreement with Australia to export 20,000 tonnes of uranium starting from 2010.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4871000.st...

This is definately good news for Australia, and our Economy.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By TA152H on 4/21/09, Rating: 0
RE: Its time for us to move on...
By phxfreddy on 4/20/2009 10:02:41 PM , Rating: 3
Not healthy to seal up your house. Indoor polution is by far worse than any outdoor pollution you have ever seen even in Los Angelos. Ask the experts they will tell you this....

,...and you have certainly heard of deadly radon gas right? You are currently living over a nuclear reactor. The decay radiactive elements in your soil put out radon gas which does virtually no harm as long as your house is not sealed up tight as a drum.......


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By bpurkapi on 4/20/2009 11:32:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well China doesn't have to worry about Nimby. We do, thats the price we pay to live in a republic.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/2009 6:00:26 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
This is an area that I really hoped that Obama would have pushed more, considering all the rhetoric about green power and energy independence.


He's pushing cap and trade, which will raise the cost of everyone's energy costs by 30% via oppressive taxes and fee's. All for political reasons.

Not sure what you guys were "hoping" for, but this is what we got.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By MrBungle123 on 4/20/2009 6:40:55 PM , Rating: 4
Come to think of it, can anyone think of any policy advocated by the Obama administration that is even economically viable? Everytime I try I draw a blank.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By FITCamaro on 4/20/2009 11:37:43 PM , Rating: 2
About the only thing I agree with him on is net neutrality. Even a socialist can't be wrong everywhere though.

But otherwise pretty much everything the man stands for is a flop that will cost us trillions.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By slunkius on 4/21/2009 1:04:30 AM , Rating: 2
no no no, you mean gazillions!


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/21/2009 10:38:10 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Come to think of it, can anyone think of any policy advocated by the Obama administration that is even economically viable? Everytime I try I draw a blank.


That's because his goal is to destroy the economy, blame it on Bush/Republicans and "rampant Capitalistic deregulation", and in the aftermath make a power-grab by being the one with the solutions to fix it all. Because, well, it couldn't get any worst so why not right ?

He's waging an all out war on businesses and financial prosperity in this country, and people are too busy cheering to realize these businesses are the ones that give them jobs and make this country work.

I'm already calling it. Barrack Obama, worst president ever in this history of the country. And to add insult to the injury he's doing here, he goes oversees and attempts to pacify world leaders who don't give a DAMN about America by blaming his own country for all the worlds problems. I mean it's like watching a 12 year old do diplomacy. " Oh you guys don't like us ? Well uhh things have changed, I'm for change. I know my own country sucks, but I'm here now and we're going to make you like us by giving you money and apologizing for everything ! "


By MrBungle123 on 4/21/2009 12:14:33 PM , Rating: 5
Hey did you see Obama is cutting $100 Million from the budget?! I mean WOW that’s enough to pay for the interest on just what he's adding to the debt for a day! I'm so glad we have a president that knows how to show REAL fiscal responsibility and that is working to close the "confidence gap" between the people and the government when it comes to monetary issues!

/sarcasm


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Starcub on 4/22/2009 7:10:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
He's pushing cap and trade, which will raise the cost of everyone's energy costs by 30% via oppressive taxes and fee's.

Why will cap and trade increase taxes and fees? We already monitor emmissions. Cap and trade will help the larger companies establish a monopoly on the market without having to fix the problem. Did you mean the companies themselves will get higher taxes and fees for not obeying the law, and then pass the cost on to the consumer?

However, cap and trade will also encourage the development of clean renewables. The longer we wait for alternative solutions the more the problem will cost to fix. It's already getting very late in the game to start addressing global warming and it's never too late for a cleaner environment.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By spread on 4/20/2009 6:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
Obama's too busy talking to do anything. Better luck next time. : (


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By phxfreddy on 4/20/09, Rating: 0
By cherrycoke on 4/25/2009 4:17:36 PM , Rating: 2
paper machete? so you can hack through the paperwork jungle?


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Murloc on 4/21/2009 11:27:31 AM , Rating: 2
if you want energetic indipendence don't go for uranium then...


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Alexvrb on 4/21/2009 11:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is an area that I really hoped that Obama would have pushed more, considering all the rhetoric about green power and energy independence.
Replace "green power" with "cap and trade" and "energy independence" with "waste money on inefficient and costly solar and wind farms". Then, and only then, will you have a more accurate picture of D'ohbama's energy plan.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By chmilz on 4/20/2009 5:40:19 PM , Rating: 2
Definition of "Nuclear Power":

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD!!!!!!!111 one1!


By inighthawki on 4/20/2009 5:54:17 PM , Rating: 3
It's all about misinformation. You get those crazy environmentalists that complain about meltdowns and radioctive waste etc but not a single one of them know the first thing about physics or the history of meltdowns (or why they aren't even as dangerous as people like to think).

Once we get a place for any kind of radioactive materials, the process will be a million times cleaner than burning coal and other dirty sources we use now.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By randomly on 4/20/2009 6:18:05 PM , Rating: 5
The AP1000 is an exceptionally safe design. The core does not even have sufficient fissile material to go prompt critical. It must rely on delayed neutrons from decay products to achieve criticality. That means you cannot have rapid power spikes like the one that destroyed the RBMK at Chernobyl.

Safety systems are passive and rely on natural circulation and gravity. There is not even a requirement for backup generators because of the passive safety design. No operator intervention is needed for extended periods of time even in cases of accident, which allows time for evaluation, mobilization of resources, etc. This also greatly reduces the chances of operator error in an accident situation.

It's currently the most advanced design in the world ready for commercial deployment.

However there is much to be gained by development of GEN IV designs such as the Molten Salt Reactor. These hold out the promise of using thorium for fuel solving the fuel supply issues, while also solving the nuclear waste problem of current light water reactors.


By Schadenfroh on 4/20/2009 7:57:20 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed!


By DeepBlue1975 on 4/20/2009 8:29:25 PM , Rating: 2
Well, yeah, of course...

But not before the reactors are painted green and feature a picture of a happy whale.

Then it'll be approved by the happy tree hugger friends... Err.. I meant, environmentotalists.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By FITCamaro on 4/20/2009 11:34:14 PM , Rating: 3
This needs a 6.

I'm tired of worn out environmentalist arguments that nuclear power is some dreaded curse when France has been using it for years. I mean come on. The French. We saying we're too chicken to do something France does?


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By jcbond on 4/21/2009 2:32:32 PM , Rating: 2
Give the French a little respect. After all they are pursuing the pirates wherever they are regardless of whom they (the pirates) are attacking. And they do so quite violently - They have become the one flag that pirates fear. We could learn a little from that.
Also, if it hadn't been for the French, a little country I like to call home wouldn't exist.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By TA152H on 4/21/2009 6:12:16 PM , Rating: 2
What country wouldn't exist without the French? Austria? Luxembourg? You'd probably be better of part of Germany, at least you'd be relevant.

The French are very brave indeed when they go after pirates who generally do not like to fight. In that way, they are alike. Since there's rarely ever deaths in these "conflicts", it's perfect for the French. They get to pose without much real risk.

They sure showed their violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, huh? But, truthfully, those people had guns they'd be fighting against, and they really would fire them.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By jcbond on 4/23/2009 11:50:33 AM , Rating: 2
I live in the US. Without French support, the Revolutionary War would have taken a very different path.
As for the pirates, the French are indeed losing people going after the pirates - not the soldiers but the hostages that the pirates take.
In terms of the pirates let's look at the US vs France.
US
CINC orders a destroyer to the vicinity of a pirate attack. ROE were to only engage if the life of the hostage is threatened. In other words, SOP for every police department in the country. The OTSC makes the decision that the hostage's life is threatened and gives the go-ahead to 3 Seals - who execute an outstanding coordinated sniper attack between two platforms with different cycles of movement. If the attack goes wrong, who takes the fall? OTSC because he made the judgment call. This is in no way a statement of national conviction.
The French? They are engaging and taking down the pirates wherever they find them, regardless of who are attacking or what they are doing. They have only negotiated as ruse for time to put their military in place to execute a strike, and they have done so time and again. They have made a statement of national intent.
And the pirates are well aware of it *and* fear the "French Option". They are starting to avoid the French flag.
I wish you could say the same about the US, but days of Tripoli are apparently long behind us.
As for Iraq and Afghanistan, there were quite a few politics being played about Iraq. And I believe that France has about 3000 troops deployed in Afghanistan - about half on the ground. Also I believe Sarkozy recently made a statement indicating that they were going to up their contribution - not bad, considering the highly publicized ambush losses late last year.
I think the French are waking up and beginning to understand the Islamo-Fascist threat. They're stepping up, and it looks like they have elected a leader who understands that sometimes you have to shed some blood (including your own) in defense of your freedoms and way of life.
Oh - just in case:
CINC - Commander in Chief could also be NCA, National Command Authority, although this seems to be used to indicate Cabinet level officials too, I think
OTSC - On The Scene Commander (in this case the Captain of the Bainbridge)
ROE - Rules of Engagement, which covers the conditions under personnel are allowed to use deadly force.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By jconan on 4/21/2009 10:51:45 AM , Rating: 2
the simpsons really conditioned people to be scared of nuclear reactors and that someone like homer might make an error at the controls ie 3 mile island...


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By callmeroy on 4/22/2009 8:58:05 AM , Rating: 2
I agree.

For any cynics out there who question the safety of nuclear power here's a link with some good information:

http://www.world-nuclear.com/info/inf06.html

So as for the current safety record of civil nuclear power:

From the outset, there has been a strong awareness of the potential hazard of both nuclear criticality and release of radioactive materials.

There have been two major reactor accidents in the history of civil nuclear power - Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. One was contained without harm to anyone and the other involved an intense fire without provision for containment.

These are the only major accidents to have occurred in more than 12,700 cumulative reactor-years of commercial operation in 32 countries.

The risks from western nuclear power plants, in terms of the consequences of an accident or terrorist attack, are minimal compared with other commonly accepted risks. Nuclear power plants are very robust.


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Kiijibari on 4/25/2009 1:33:20 AM , Rating: 2
.. yes built some nice (effective) solar power plants in Arizona / Nevada / New Mexico and it would be even enough energy for you power wasting US citizens :)

Look at the concept here:
http://www.desertec.org/

It is planned for Africa .. but actually the only thing you need is a desert ;-)


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Kiijibari on 4/25/2009 2:19:53 AM , Rating: 2
Edit:

There is already a planned 250 MW CSP project in NV:
http://seekingalpha.com/article/124096-solar-mille...

Looks good ;-)


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