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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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RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/2009 6:00:26 PM , Rating: 4
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
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!


RE: Its time for us to move on...
By Starcub on 4/22/2009 7:10:21 PM , Rating: 2
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.

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