Print 57 comment(s) - last by Ringold.. on Mar 3 at 12:52 AM

Electricity production costs drop to the lowest point in the industry's history.

You won't hear this on CNN, but the U.S. nuclear power industry set a record last year.  Despite rising costs of fuel and regulation, the average production cost of electricity dropped to an astounding 1.66 cents per kilowatt-hour.  This is a figure well below the cost of coal-generated electricity, and a tiny fraction of the cost of solar or wind power.  Furthermore,  nuclear plants generated 36% more electricty than they did 15 years ago, without a single new plant being built.  The industry just keeps getting better and better.

Nuclear power is a true clean, green energy source, with zero CO2 emissions, and less environmental impact than solar or wind.  Those sources of energy are extremely diffuse--which means they must be collected and concentrated.  A 1,000 MW solar plant requires 2 million tons of concrete, 600,000 tons of steel, 75,000 tons of glass, 35,000 tons of aluminum, and a whole host of rare and exotic elements.   This is several hundred times the materials needed by a nuclear plant the same size.  And the nuclear plant will have much higher availability and require much less maintenance.  Most telling of all is the costs which, for solar power, currently average a painful 28.6 cents per kW-hour.

Other nations are wiser here than the US.  France  generates 76% of its power from nuclear, South Korea has several new plants on order, and Finland is building a new one, specifically to meet its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

Expanding the US nuclear power industry would allow the US to dramatically reduce carbon emissions ... and to save money while doing so.  And it's a solution available today, without the need for years of additional research and development.  Its high time we pulled our heads out of the sand, and started using it to its full potential.

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No argument here.
By Master Kenobi on 2/28/2007 7:55:08 AM , Rating: 2
It has been a long known fact that Nuclear is better in every way. Sadly though your right, the US doesn't want to build anymore, everytime they talk about it people go nuts over Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. But we also have a problem with oil in this country. It's not as if we don't have enough oil, we have tons. We lack the capacity to refine it. So.... what we have here is...

Need more Nuclear Power Plants (More Electricity)
Need more Oil Refineries (More Gasoline)

Energy crisis solved? MAGIC! :D

RE: No argument here.
By DeltaNiner on 2/28/07, Rating: 0
RE: No argument here.
By JDub02 on 2/28/2007 10:10:21 AM , Rating: 3
There are plenty of desolate areas on the US to contain spent fuel without putting it in someone's "backyard". The Navy's been successfully using nuclear power and managaging fuel for quite some time.

RE: No argument here.
By Master Kenobi on 2/28/2007 10:20:02 AM , Rating: 2
We have uses for the depleted fuel, and the byproduct of enriching Uranium to be fuel in the reactors.... It's called Depleted Uranium and is a pretty kickass kinetic weapon. Other than that we can store it until we find better uses for it later. Storage is easy and safe. It might have been an issue back in maybe the 40's but modern storage technology is more than sufficient to ensure there will be no radiation contaminiation.

RE: No argument here.
By arazok on 2/28/2007 11:55:08 AM , Rating: 5
Depleted Uranium still has something like 97% of the energy of the original uranium rods available, and it's possible to use the depleted rods in a fast-breeder reactor. New fast-breed reactor technology could also allow for waste that is toxic for only a hundred years or so, as opposed to thousands.

The downsides are that you need a separate reactor to process the depleted uranium, adding cost. The depleted rods must be transported to it, which is dangerous, and the fast-breeders produce plutonium, so certain precautions need to be taken. There are ways to render plutonium ineffective for weapons, so there is nothing stopping this technology from being implemented if we want to. It's just complex, and expensive, but I think that one day this will be the norm.

RE: No argument here.
By ElJefe69 on 2/28/07, Rating: 0
RE: No argument here.
By Beh on 3/1/2007 12:36:20 AM , Rating: 2
you need help

RE: No argument here.
By Master Kenobi on 3/1/2007 2:14:43 PM , Rating: 4
depleted uranium is responsible for thousands of civillian cancer based diseases.

Depleted Uranium does not cause thousands of civilian cancer based diseases. That has been screamed for years and without a shred of evidence to support it. If anything I would think the tank crews would be growing 3rd eyeballs given how much exposure they have to the shells. So no, that point is false.

shitheads fire it from their multimillion dollar tanks and forget that/dont care rather, that they are poisoning the third world with spent rounds. But, dailytech is full of pro-whatever-is-a-big-penis-solution, so I doubt anyone would know about this occurence.

This paragraph is just FUD and anger, you have no evidence to support your rant.

Also, nuclear reactors have decimated lakes and waterways, changing the biogrowth to all disgusting/unhealthy forms of bacteria and choking out fish and aquatic plants. yay. I wonder what shithead was paid off for this article. The heat from reactors is not retained for future use, the excess is let off into natural bodies of water. thats a lot of freakin heat.

This one is at least partially correct. Older reactors required the water to be cycled out and into a local lake and the boiling temperature water would kill plant and aquatic life. Newer technology and upgrades to older reactors have minimized this, using closed loop systems, the water is recycled without pushing it out to lakes anymore. So, not an issue, your facts are slightly outdated.

Solar is LESS green? um? yeah ok. wind? oh yeah, that has huge environmental impacts, yeah that wind, damn, cant stand it. talk about concrete, ever see a nuclear reactor?

Solar is less green because of the amount of energy and resources that must be spent to produce a large enough field and array to harvest any speakable quantity of energy from the sun.

RE: No argument here.
By exdeath on 3/1/2007 2:31:25 PM , Rating: 4
Uhm you guys have serious misconceptions...

"Depleted uranium" is natural uranium stripped of 99.99999% of its U-235 isotope so that all that remains is the stable non radioactive U-238 isotope. Depleted uranium is not radioactive, save for insignificant trace quantities of whatever U-235 remains after refinement. Natural uranium as it is only contains about 0.7% U-235 by mass. For all intents and purposes, depleted uranium, that is, the U-238 waste remaining after refinement, used in munitions for its higher mass density, is no more dangerous or poisonous than any other toxic heavy metals such as lead or mercury.

Spent fuel rods on the other hand are not ‘depleted’. Fuel rods result from refining natural uranium until they contain about 4-5% by mass of the U-235 isotope, the radioactive kind. This is far more radioactive than natural uranium’s 0.7%. When the fuel rod is ‘spent’ it only means it is not putting out sufficient energy to power the reactor, it doesn’t mean all the U-235 has decayed completely. So ‘spent’ fuel rods are still retain dangerous concentrations of U-235 so you cannot use this as ‘depleted uranium’, however they no longer serve their purpose as sufficient fuel.

What I don’t understand however, is why we don’t return and recycle spent fuel rods back into the original refining process. You could extract the remaining U-235 from piles and piles of spent and consolidate it into a higher concentration to make new fuel. I.e.: take the bad part out of the spent fuel, add it all together to make new fuel which stays in a reactor. What is left over then becomes depleted and safer.

The problem with that is that years of bombardment by neutrons, and the fission process itself, creates an assortment of other elements that taint the pure uranium. What starts out as pure uranium (4% U-235 and 96% U-238) is now a random glob of just about anything on the periodic table, some of them radioactive in their own right and useless as a fuel.

We could still refine and separate all those elements and put them to uses in places (cesium in the medical industry, etc). Costly, but better than storage for 1000 years.

RE: No argument here.
By exdeath on 3/1/2007 3:14:11 PM , Rating: 2
Just to refine a few things (no pun intended):

As per my previous post a new fuel rod goes in with 96% harmless U-238 and 4% U-235, which is the active fuel.

After 20 years of fission in a reactor, what is left is still mostly 90-95% harmless U-238. A tiny bit of that will have been transmuted to Pu-239, which can be used as reactor fuel itself.

The primary waste components are the fission products of the actual 4% U-235 fuel component. Remember that fission is simply the splitting of an atom into two or more other random elements, giving off useable heat energy in the process. After a fuel rod is spent, most of that U-235 has become now mostly a random collection of radioactive actinides. These may or may not be useful for any particular purpose including new fuel. This is the true waste of a nuclear reactor. 90-95% of the mass of the spent fuel is just as harmless as when it came out of the ground.

One issue with reprocessing spent fuel from a political perspective is the accumulation of recovered Pu-239, which may violate weapon proliferation treaties, etc. Pu-239 results from the bombardment of stable non radioactive U-238 with slow neutrons which starts a long chain of events that eventually stabilizes into Pu-239.

RE: No argument here.
By JonB on 3/2/2007 1:40:02 PM , Rating: 2
Uranium 238 is radioactive, but barely. It has a decay half life of 4.5 Billion Years. Uranium 235 has a decay half life of 700 Million Years. There is only one other naturally occurring isotope, Uranium 234, but its half life is so short (only thousands of years) that there isn't any in the ground.

There are scientists who have dated the formation of our planet and solar system by the decay rates of U238 and U235. When they start with the assumption that it was a even mix of the three isotopes, they first toss out the U234 since it decayed away millions of years ago. Since the natural percentage of U235 is now 0.7% to U238's 97.3%, they do the math and come up with appropriately large numbers. See the wikipedia entry. The accuracy of rock dating using this is greater than 99%.

RE: No argument here.
By Rovemelt on 2/28/2007 4:51:19 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't the USN just drop spent rods onto the ocean floor? I don't know if I consider that 'managing.'

In any case, I think nuclear is the way to go until solar catches up. The waste and security issue is a serious matter, but I believe both can be addressed with some common sense approaches. I much prefer nuclear over coal...coal puts mercury, CO2, NOx, SOx, and radiation into the air. Unfortunately, China is building a huge number of coal plants to support their booming economy...wish they would choose something better.

RE: No argument here.
By Ringold on 2/28/2007 6:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
Hardly. I'm having a though time finding a link, but no, there's a quite expensive program in place that processes the fuel and takes it away somewhere. Submarines are especially expensive to refuel.. they don't exactly have an 'eject' button; if I'm not mistaken they have to be partially disassembled and the reactor rebuilt.

There are a couple nuclear submarines on the sea floor from past accidents and losses, but extensive monitoring was done to make sure the reactor's containment wasn't breached.

RE: No argument here.
By The Boston Dangler on 2/28/2007 9:15:13 PM , Rating: 2
For many years, the Soviets really were just dumping anything and everything into the ocean. I doubt the Russians, et cetera are any better.

The US military has never been "clean", but improvements have been made.

RE: No argument here.
By masher2 on 2/28/2007 10:23:13 AM , Rating: 4
> "Perhaps Masters kenobi and Asher would consent to have those pesky spent fuel rods buried in their back yards..."

If you live in a New England or Rocky Mountain state, you already have radioactive nuclear waste buried in your own backyard...waste left over from when Mother Nature made the planet. The first meter of topsoil in one acre alone contains 60 kg of thorium, 20 kg of uranium, 5 kg of radium, and 70,000 kg of potassium...all of it radioactive.

Lord Marshall of the U.K's Central Electric Generation Board once caused a furor by announcing that one of their electric plants had released a kg of uranium into the air the day earlier...and in fact had been releasing that amount daily for many years. When shocked reporters pressed for details, he named a coal -powered plant. The uranium released was that found naturally within the coal itself.

RE: No argument here.
By Matty P on 2/28/2007 8:14:17 AM , Rating: 3
Nuclear power is a reasonably green energy source right up until you come to decommision your spent powerstation and fuel. Then it gets messy for several thousand years. That is what people worry about. We in Britain worry about it a bit more as we seem to process half of the rest of the worlds nuclear waste as well as our own!
From an actual power generation point of view, nuclear is not the ultimate solution. It is very good at providing baseline power needs but you can't turn it on or off, so you still need a form of power generation which can cope with the peaks and troughs of usage (ie. fossil fuels or hydro).

RE: No argument here.
By porkpie on 2/28/2007 10:27:51 AM , Rating: 5
the waste from every other industry except nuclear is dangerous forever. heavy metals like lead and mercury, chlorine, etc, never decay, and stay dangerous forever.

see the point?

RE: No argument here.
By Matty P on 2/28/2007 11:37:48 AM , Rating: 2
That'd be why we have laws in the UK about their use and disposal. Its a good point though, just not the one being discussed in this article.

RE: No argument here.
By porkpie on 2/28/2007 12:07:38 PM , Rating: 2
the point is that nuclear waste is easily dealt with. we solved all the problems of dealing with it decades ago, its not even an issue.

RE: No argument here.
By Matty P on 2/28/2007 2:25:41 PM , Rating: 2
Depends what you mean by solved. If you mean dig a big hole and surround the waste with concrete, then, yeah its solved. But surely thats just putting the problem off? And thats before you've even started to decommission the actual power station...

I agree that we need to replace the existing nuclear power station fleet but we need to factor in the cost etc of clean up after they cease to be useful. :)

RE: No argument here.
By porkpie on 2/28/2007 2:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, it puts the problem off till the waste has decayed, which is all you need to do. theres already ten billion times as much radioactivity in the ground anyway, this doesn't cause any new problems.

oh, and the article link above takes into account the costs of decommissioning too. it only raises the price to 2.5 cents/kw-hour.

RE: No argument here.
By Merry on 2/28/2007 10:35:44 AM , Rating: 2
process half of the rest of the worlds nuclear waste as well as our own!

I believe we process it then use it again.

(ie. fossil fuels or hydro).

or windpower and such

I'm a strong supporter of nuclear power, my family have worked , indeed one of them still is working in the industry. I think that as a source of power its now pretty safe and, when implemented properly, very cheap. Of course there is still a lot of negatives attached to it and the whole 'not in my backyard' thing ( a problem which is more apparent here in the UK). I really do hope that people 'see the light' with regards nuclear power as, from the UKs perspective the north sea oil is all but gone and importing gas from Russia leaves us open to huge price swings which isnt really conducive to having a stable economy.

RE: No argument here.
By Matty P on 2/28/2007 11:32:41 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, some of the waste can get used again but there is always some absoute waste that has to be stored, along with the materials used to clean up the useful waste.

or windpower and such

I'm all for wind power, the windfarms look cool!
While family was in the fossil fuel side of power production at privatisation, we do have a number of friends who are in the nuclear side :) Creates some fun debates anyway!

RE: No argument here.
By ElJefe69 on 2/28/2007 11:33:32 PM , Rating: 2
wow. perfect explanation.

it is greenish power when it is on. making it, producing the material and then disassembling it all is incredibly harmful for the environment.

RE: No argument here.
By glennpratt on 3/2/2007 11:11:55 AM , Rating: 2
Making PVA's is harmful to the environment. Making windmills is harmful to the environment. Hell, making most sorts of alloys is harmful and uses a truck load of electricity.

Making batteries for hybrid cars is harmful for the environment. Making cars period is harmful.

Most of these things need to be properly recycled or they can cause an environmental disaster.

Do you get my drift?

RE: No argument here.
By therealnickdanger on 2/28/2007 8:45:36 AM , Rating: 3
Need more Nuclear Power Plants (More Electricity)
Need more Oil Refineries (More Gasoline)

Whoa, hold on there buddy, I don't think the masses are ready for that kind of simplicity and logic... We should probably hold a few committees, avoid the facts, invite the press, and talk about our feelings.

RE: No argument here.
By Master Kenobi on 2/28/2007 10:12:47 AM , Rating: 2
LOL! Made my morning.

heavy water reactors
By kattanna on 2/28/2007 1:25:03 PM , Rating: 2
any reason why america continues to only use light water reactors which require expensive refinement of uranium, when we could be using heavy water reactors that dont?

now i know that extracting the very very very tiny bit of heavy water that resides normally within water can be costly, but isnt it cheaper, and more enviromentally friendly, then enriching uranium to work in light water reactors? I also wonder which method requires less energy to work, anyone have some numbers on that?

RE: heavy water reactors
By masher2 on 2/28/2007 1:40:28 PM , Rating: 4
We continue to do so for the simple reason that no new nuclear plants have been ordered since the late 1970s. Heavy water also allow a nation to generate plutonium. President Carter kicked the legs out of the US breeder and CANDU-style reactor programs when he banned reprocessing and related technologies. Reagan reversed the ban five years later, but by then the US had lost interest in building new nuclear plants.

RE: heavy water reactors
By Ringold on 2/28/2007 3:38:05 PM , Rating: 1
That's a good point, the plutonium one. Relevant because of discussions in recent years about our aging nuclear weapon stockpile and less than 100% assurance all these half-century old warheads would actually work as expected if used. Plus, I don't know what is constraining supply, but we've launched at least one or two space probes with less plutonium fuel than we'd of liked due to an inability for some reason to get it supplied. That could be regulatory, though, I don't know.

Anyway, that's good to know and keep in mind if were hear Congress come up with some grand scheme to replace heavy water plants with light ones, or ban the construction of new ones. Unfortunately, this isn't shaping up to be the century to let nuclear deterence dwindle.

RE: heavy water reactors
By Grast on 2/28/2007 4:09:57 PM , Rating: 3

As an ex-nuclear submariner missle technician, please do not have any concern that aging nuclear weapons would not work exactly as designed. The average warhead takes a large amount of maintenance to keep operational. The most difficult portion of maintaining the warhead is the decay of the explosive trigger and natural tritium decay and loss. However, all warheads are under constant maintenance.

Please believe me after 12 years in the U.S. Navy, I have received enough ABOVE background radiation (2.3 Rem and yes not milliREM but REM, I spent a lot of time in the missle compartment very close to the warheads - Trident submerine) to know exactly how much maintenance is required.

The U.S. nuclear weapons program is still very well funded and working properly.

On to the topic quickly though, the construction of breeder reactors could use Uranium 235 with Plutonium to create large amounts of Uranium 238 which is used in reactors. That would solve disponsal of unneeded warheads.

As to the comment about needing to remove depleted uranium every two months or so, please extend that to every decade or so. The only time main reactor compartment work is performed is during critical maintenance or reactor refueling measures. Otherwise the spent material is kept in the reactor and used for sympothetic reactive material to be used for reactor start-up sources.


RE: heavy water reactors
By Grast on 2/28/2007 4:13:01 PM , Rating: 1
In case anyone was wondering, 3 REM is the life time limit for any nuclear working personel in the U.S. Navy. I almost made it. hehehe

Supposedly the body can take up to 5 REM with out any adverse or raized risk of issues.

RE: heavy water reactors
By Ringold on 2/28/2007 6:43:58 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think I said every two months, dont think I mentioned a time frame at all, but I figured every decade or so.

On the weapons, though, it was something of a hot topic last year regarding some concern over.. well. I don't understand it all, so a C&P from the National Nuclear Security Administration:

Plutonium, which is used in pits for all U.S. nuclear weapons, is highly radioactive and degrades over time. The material was first produced in significant quantities in the 1940s, and the effects of plutonium aging on nuclear weapon reliability is a question relevant for a stockpile with warheads reaching ages beyond historical experience.

NNSA’s weapons laboratories have been assessing whether the degradation of plutonium will affect the ability of the weapon to perform as designed. NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks said the recent aging studies showed that there appear to be no serious or sudden changes occurring, or expected to occur, in plutonium that would affect performance of pits beyond the well-understood, gradual degradation of plutonium materials.

“These studies show that the degradation of plutonium in our nuclear weapons will not affect warhead reliability for decades,” Brooks said. “It is now clear that although plutonium aging contributes, other factors control the overall life expectancy of nuclear weapons systems.”

The classified studies looked at pits in each nuclear weapon type and gave specific information on plutonium properties, aging and other information. Overall, the weapons laboratories studies assessed that the majority of plutonium pits for most nuclear weapons have minimum lifetimes of at least 85 years.

Today’s nuclear weapons have highly-sophisticated designs and rely on thousands of parts and components that act within microseconds to perform complicated and precise functions. Plutonium aging is but one variable that can affect overall system reliability. Other factors include aging of high explosives and other organic components in the design, corrosion of uranium or plutonium components, or discovery of defects uncovered in surveillance programs. Warhead refurbishments, known as life extension programs, are key to replacing aging or otherwise faulty components.

No, I've known many Navy men, I don't doubt anything you guys do is anything but top-notch. The concern wasn't if you did it's job or not, but rather if the material as decaying as they expected or not. Or something like that..

RE: heavy water reactors
By JonB on 2/28/2007 5:50:21 PM , Rating: 4
Grast, you've gotten your U235 and U238 backwards. Breeder reactors use the neutrons from the thermal fission of U235 to slowly change U238 into Plutonium239. P239 could then be extracted and put into new reactor fuel assemblies along with enriched U235 and be a very useful fuel, but the US currently prohibits it for commercial plants.

Another slight editorial comment to an earlier post. Depleted Uranium doesn't come from spent fuel (it isn't worth the radiation exposure that people would get processing it), it comes from the enrichment process of naturally occurring ores. For every kilogram of enriched Uranium ready to use in fuel, there is a byproduct of many kilograms of almost pure Uranium238. Because the depleted Uranium comes from ore that has never been in a reactor, Depleted Uranium is barely radioactive. U238 is not usable as bomb material, but it is very, very, very hard and has a high melting point. Since it is also heavy, it actually makes a good armor piercing slug. Not much will stop it, and if it does hit something very hard, its kinetic energy becomes heat, turning it into a plasma that just melts through whatever WAS in its way.

RE: heavy water reactors
By CascadingDarkness on 3/2/2007 5:33:37 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly they I bet people who handle the shells only need to wear gloves and resist licking their hands. Same thing could be said if they were lead.

Only people that really need to worry are the ones at the receiving end of the 120mm Sabots, or one of the 30mm, 3,600 rounds per second shells from an A-10.

Dang them's smarts

RE: heavy water reactors
By Ringold on 3/3/2007 12:52:33 AM , Rating: 2
Only people that really need to worry are the ones at the receiving end of the 120mm Sabots, or one of the 30mm, 3,600 rounds per second shells from an A-10.

Forgive me if I dont worry about those individuals? :)

RE: heavy water reactors
By number999 on 2/28/2007 4:19:37 PM , Rating: 3
The reactor technology in the US is derived from technology stemming from developments from Naval reactor developement. Shippingport, the first non-military reactor, was developed under Adm Rickover, who was in charge of Naval reactor developement. The technology in use there - pressurized light water. To leverage the knowledge base, he just used the expertise already in place.

Enrichment allows the fuel rods to be changed less often than natural uranium and you generate more MW/Kg of fuel. With the Candu design of pressurized tubes instead of the pressurized vessel of other water reactor types, rods of fuel can be changed without a general shutdown. Candu reactors are capable of taking slightly enriched fuel, with the added benefits.

Plutonium is a by-product of all nuclear reactors. There has never been a case where the Candu was used to generate weapons grade plutonium. In the case of India, a specially made reactor was used to generate the weapons grade plutonium used in their bomb and not the Candu built there. In fact, most weapons grade plutonium was made in specialty reactors designed to produce plutonium. The infamous Chernobyl reactor design was derived from such a design as well as the British CO2 gas cooled reactors which were recently decommissioned.

The Candu was designed from the ground up for commercial electricity generation only. Although highly neutron efficient, it is not capable as a breeder. The only breeders designed so far and even built, all use liquid metal and maybe a couple of the high temperature gas ones.

Considering the lower amount of Plutonium produced by weight in a Candu reactor, it would be a poor choice if the aim was the production of weapons grade fissionables.

Right on Masher
By Spivonious on 2/28/2007 10:31:06 AM , Rating: 3
Nuclear power is the way to go. People need to realize that TMI was not a big deal. Did anyone even get hurt? The plant still runs today.

From Wikipedia:
This [is] the worst accident in US commercial nuclear power generating history, even though it led to no deaths or injuries to plant workers or members of the nearby community.

It was caused by a design error which has since been corrected. I really wish more people in US would consider nuclear power as an option.

RE: Right on Masher
By Grast on 2/28/2007 11:55:10 AM , Rating: 2

You are correct dude. I believe that most people do not know that Three-Mile Island had two reactors and only one of the reactors had the accident. The other reactor has been running ever since.

The storage and safe handling of spent nuclear material has been successfully handled by the U.S. Navy for the last 30 years.

As to nuclear reactor design, the latest designs are a factor of 10 more safe than reactors built in the 80's. The latest reactor design do not need water pumps to move water from the reactor to the steam generators. The water moves via convection.

In the end if we want to stop using fossil fuels, nuclear is the only method which is viable at this time.


RE: Right on Masher
By masher2 on 2/28/2007 12:05:20 PM , Rating: 2
All excellent points, but I'd like to add a couple. First, the US Navy has actually been handling nuclear waste for 50 years...the first nuclear sub was commissioned in the mid-1950s.

Also, the nuclear reactors we built in the '80s are all based off designs from the 1960s. The technology has advanced far since then. You are correct in that there are far safer, cleaner, and more efficient designs on the books...but will we ever build them?

RE: Right on Masher
By JDub02 on 2/28/2007 2:08:22 PM , Rating: 2
The technology has advanced far since then. You are correct in that there are far safer, cleaner, and more efficient designs on the books...but will we ever build them?

The Navy is. There's a new reactor design that's going into the next class of carriers.

RE: Right on Masher
By Ringold on 2/28/2007 3:28:30 PM , Rating: 2
I came across an article stating FPL (or was it Progress Energy) was seeking sites to build two new reactors here in Florida. We've already got one; looks awesome driving by. Almost fools me in to thinking my local economy has solidly advanced beyond reliance on Disney world..

RE: Right on Masher
By Ringold on 2/28/2007 6:31:48 PM , Rating: 2

Half way down, says last April they submitted a notification that in 2009 they'll seek license to build another plant here in Florida. Along with disclaimers saying they will only be reviewing the option, they say it'd take 12 years from the start of the process to completion.

Progress Energy seems to want to build two new plants, probably in Citrus and Levy counties, but as of Dec 06 that hadn't been finalized yet. On top of that, they've recently finished adding 'units' (reactors?) to this..

And this seems to suggest FL encouraging all this nuclear expansion, but the site seems to be down for the moment.

So hopefully we will get some new plants built after all.

RE: Right on Masher
By nurbsenvi on 2/28/2007 1:40:24 PM , Rating: 2
I totally love the idea of nuclear energy
as long as it's NIMBY. ha

RE: Right on Masher
By porkpie on 2/28/2007 1:46:55 PM , Rating: 2
one's been in my backyard (about a mile away actually) for over 40 years. never had a problem with it.

RE: Right on Masher
By irev210 on 2/28/2007 1:54:21 PM , Rating: 2
3 mile island could have gone a lot worse, but thats besides the point.

As others have said, it has been 30 years since then.

It wasnt really caused by a design error, but by poorly trained employees who really didnt know what to do. By doing what they were trained to do, they actually made things worse.

Regardless, the fear still sank in. You guys should read about the long island nuclear plant. Greatest moment in american nuclear power generation!

Here is the most EXPENSIVE nuclear power plant!

It generated only a few 100 megawatts, at the cost of Billions. Then, the local gov't passed on writing off the power plant to taxpayers! So people payed billions.

The single problem with nuclear is how much raw material you actually need. You need to remove spent uranium every two years. There is actually a LOT of effort that goes into getting nuclear power plant grade uranium. You have LOTS of waste (depleted uranium). I forget the amount, but for every pound of mining you only get a few grams of usable uranium. So mining uses a lot of fossil fuels, but still not any more than coal, etc.

Nuclear power is the cheapest, and one of the most effective ways to generate electricity. There is no reason why US shouldnt have more nuclear power plants.

obvious bias
By soydios on 2/28/2007 6:57:56 PM , Rating: 2
I'm impressed with the obvious bias in that news blurb. Yes, I agree that nuclear is the best idea for future, but perhaps the article could have included a few sentences on how nuclear waste is/could be dealt with.

RE: obvious bias
By TomZ on 2/28/2007 9:34:00 PM , Rating: 2
This is a "blog" post - not a news article. So it's expected to be more of an opinion piece.

RE: obvious bias
By ElJefe69 on 2/28/2007 11:37:46 PM , Rating: 1
saying that nuclear waste is more green than the wind is a bit....

retarded. nothing can be gleaned from this article besides that.

RE: obvious bias
By Spivonious on 3/1/2007 10:32:09 AM , Rating: 2
Ever seen a wind farm? Let's clear out acres of forest to put up big fans. That's really green, isn't it?

RE: obvious bias
By ttowntom on 3/1/2007 11:48:41 AM , Rating: 2
A few hundred million acres of forest cleared, to make room for windfarms-- or a few nuclear power plants. The choice is pretty clear to me.

RE: obvious bias
By JonB on 3/2/2007 1:20:14 PM , Rating: 2
Windfarms have one big advantage over any nuclear plant - they don't need ANY water to run. All your fossil fuel and nuclear plants use heat to make steam, use steam to turn turbines, then must cool that steam back to water and repeat the cycle. All that heating and cooling needs lots of water. Thats why they are always near lakes, rivers and oceans. Windfarms can be up on mountains and hills that really aren't much use for farming or raising cattle. The birds learn after a while to stay away.

RE: obvious bias
By Ringold on 3/3/2007 12:49:08 AM , Rating: 2
Hmm.. with water covering just a little bit of the Earth, I don't see how it's a problem? Especially considering one of the occasionally-mentioned benefits of nuclear power is the ability to double as a water desalination plant (which states like my own, FL, will be in desperate need of relatively soon).

A Note on the cost of the electricity.
By number999 on 2/28/2007 4:52:24 PM , Rating: 5
It should be noted that the cost of the electricity is for baseline electricity. That is the reactors are run at full power and the cost of the plant is amatorized over the production. This allows the billion dollar cost of the plant to paid out over it's lifetime.

In the case of a nuclear plant, the large cost is the cost of the plant and not the fuel. The plant has to be run at near full capacity to amatorize the capital cost of the plant.

This of course limits the usefullness of the plant to those base level outputs. Peak power usage will still need to be provided for by conventional or alternative sources, where the price/KWh will be much higher.

In the case of convention generation, the fuel costs are the main factor in the price of electricity and flexibility is of greater importance. In solar, the main cost would be the cost of the facility but the fuel is basically free and it matches the peak power usage curve but it is variable.

Nuclear may be able to be more flexible, but that would require more use of boiling water types, which can vary their output or the yet to be made modular types like the pebble bed or modification of the present pressurized light water reactors(which would cost a lot of money if possible at all).

By Ringold on 2/28/2007 7:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
That doesn't seem to be a huge drawback, however, considering they note the 7.5c/kwh cost of production alone for natural gas fired plants. They don't say what coal is, but wiki suggests 4.8-5.5c/kwh. I don't put much faith in wiki, but that still places nuclear costs much lower by Masher's links standards.

At 2.5c/kwh, could afford to, with nuclear, have twice as much baseline capacity as needed just for the purpose of scaling and covering most of the peak usage, I would think. A bunch of plants middling with 50% output would presumably then be 5c/kwh, or the same as coal. Just cleaner. I could be wrong, maybe that's not feasible, but the cost difference is pretty interesting none the less.

By cochy on 2/28/2007 4:36:09 PM , Rating: 2
Let's get this technology up and running! I'll donate to research.

By CryptoQuick on 3/3/2007 12:04:13 AM , Rating: 2
It's been sixty years, but we finally have 'energy too cheap to meter!'

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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