Sunday, April 8, 2007

Nuclear Energy Renaissance

Nuclear power seems to be coming back without any of the problems being solved with respect to how to dispose of the waste. There is also still the danger of accidents. It seems the long term dangers of the plants are ignored. Environmentalists seem to be concentrating on global warming and climate change and problems of nuclear energy are being left on the back burner.

Nuclear renaissance already here: consultant
Mon Apr 2, 2007 3:05PM EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The race to generate more electricity from nuclear power plants in the United States is officially underway, according to a report released on Monday.

Cambridge Energy Research Associates, private energy consultants, says that the promised U.S. "nuclear renaissance" is already happening, although not through the construction of new plants.

Mostly, companies are expanding existing reactors and extending licenses to operate, the report found.

In the United States, 48 reactors have recently been granted 20-year life extensions by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the remaining 56 will likely be granted extensions soon, the group said.

The nation's 104 nuclear plants generate about 20 percent of U.S. electricity supplies, but the NRC has not issued a new plant license since 1973.

Financial incentives packed into an energy law passed in 2005, along with a move to diversify U.S. energy supply away from fossil fuels, is driving the trend, the group said.

A growing global acceptance of nuclear plants and solid performance in Asia and Europe has also boosted demand, CERA writes.

The Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979 and the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986 heightened safety fears and effectively halted new reactor construction in the United States.

Now, CERA reports, 20 countries have new plants under construction. More than half will be built in five countries --- China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States. Concrete could be poured at the earliest in the United States in 2010, the report said.

In the short term, a lack of manufacturing for reactor components and skilled personnel in the United States could constrict growth, CERA said.

The recent spike in the price of uranium, which has increased by about 700 percent since the 1990s, might also tighten the market.

But those are "growing pains" that can be overcome, the group said. Over the long haul, the industry must find places to store used fuel and prevent its materials from ending up in weapons, CERA wrote.

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