[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] Slovaks and Czechs among the biggest nuclear energy supporters in EU
sandyfl at cox.net
Mon Mar 5 20:28:21 CST 2007
*Slovaks and Czechs among the biggest nuclear energy supporters in EU
*Firm aims to reopen nuclear plant
*State flags referendum on nuclear power
*GCC has right to pursue nuclear energy: Saudi
*Nuclear power not the only thing Alternate Energy has in mind
Slovaks and Czechs among the biggest nuclear energy supporters in EU -
PRAGUE (Inertrfax) MARCH 5. INTERFAX CENTRAL EUROPE - Citizens of
Slovakia and the Czech Republic - both new European Union
member states which have nuclear power plants - are among the
biggest supporters of nuclear energy within the EU, according to a
Eurobarometer poll released Monday. "Sweden tops the ranking
(27%), followed by Finland, Slovakia and Bulgaria (all 24%),"
the Eurobarometer poll said. "In these countries the share nuclear
energy represents in total electricity production ranges from
about a third in Finland to 56% in Slovakia." The survey noted two
factors appear to have an effect on public opinion at country level:
whether a country has nuclear power plants (NPP) in operation and,
to a certain extent, the share of nuclear energy in total electricity
generation in each country. The highest proportions of EU citizens
who say that the share of nuclear energy should be increased are
found in countries where there are functional NPPs, according to
Eurobarometer. "High numbers of respondents who would like to keep
the proportion of nuclear energy the same are also found in
countries where [plants] are in operation, namely the Czech
Republic (51%), Hungary (50%), Finland (47%), Slovenia and Slovakia
(both 46%)," the poll found. Fifteen EU states have nuclear
power plants: Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France,
Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Spain, the Netherlands, Romania,
Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, the United Kingdom. The twelve EU states
that do not have nuclear power plants are Austria, Cyprus, Denmark,
Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland
Firm aims to reopen nuclear plant
Hinkley Point B is due to be decommissioned in 2011
British Energy has applied for permission to reopen Hinkley B nuclear
power station in Somerset, after six months of repair work.
The station was closed in September last year for repairs to cracked
pipes in the boiler system.
The Stop Hinkley Campaign Group says it is not safe and British
Energy will be taking a huge chance by operating it.
The power station, which costs about £1m a day to run, is due to be
decommissioned in 2011.
Campaign group spokesperson Jim Duffy said: "We're already passed the
effective life of this nuclear reactor and what's happening is that
Hinkley are acting on a string and a prayer."
He said the fact that it took three months longer than expected to
complete the repairs meant it was not safe.
However, Nigel Cann director of Hinkley B section, said if the units
were not in a position to start up safely, then they would not.
"Our responsibility to the safety of the public and our staff members
is always our number one priority," he said.
The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is expected to make its
decision by the end of the month.
State flags referendum on nuclear power
SOUTH Australian Premier Mike Rann says he will call a referendum on
nuclear power if the Federal Government moves to override state bans
on such a power plant in SA.
Mr Rann today said he would introduce legislation to parliament that
would trigger the referendum if the Commonwealth pushed the issue.
"It now appears the Prime Minister is becoming a champion of domestic
nuclear power generation and his government is actively promoting the
idea of overturning laws to allow their establishment in Australia,"
Mr Rann said.
"I believe this is an issue of such significance and controversy that
the people should be given a direct say in whether they want nuclear
power plants built in South Australia."
Mr Rann said his position was clear and his government would always
oppose nuclear power because it was financially irresponsible,
economically unviable and would massively force up the price of
But he said if the community wanted to debate the pros and cons of
nuclear power then a referendum would provide a platform to help
people make an informed judgment.
"If the Federal Government is so sure that nuclear power stations are
a good idea, then it should welcome the opportunity for the people of
South Australia to have a say," the Premier said.
GCC has right to pursue nuclear energy: Saudi
(The Peninsula) Mar 6 - The First Deputy Premier and Foreign
Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani attending the
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Riyadh yesterday.
Gulf nations warn against attack on Iran
Riyadh o Saudi Arabia said yesterday that Iran´s nuclear programme
was an extra burden on a region already fraught with challenges, but
that Gulf allies had the right to their own peaceful atomic
Foreign Ministers of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
states were meeting in the Saudi capital to discuss progress in their
plans for a joint civil atomic programme that has raised fears of a
nuclear race with Iran.
They agreed at a summit in December to study the feasibility of
developing nuclear energy. "The nuclear crisis in the region has
become an extra burden to challenges that are already facing us,"
Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal told the
"This urges us to deal with the new challenge with full
responsibility ... and adopt diplomatic solutions in a way that would
preserve the right of countries in the region for their own nuclear
energy for peaceful purposes."
Prince Saud also criticised Israel, which is widely believed to have
the Middle East´s only nuclear arsenal. "The International Atomic
Energy Agency standards and measures should apply to all countries in
the region without exceptions, including Israel."
Earlier, GCC Secretary-General Abdul-Rahman Al Attiyah, who visited
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month, said he
would brief the meeting about plans to cooperate with the UN nuclear
In Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, Al Attiyah said the GCC states oppose any
attack on Iran over its nuclear programme. "We reject any escalation
of the crisis relative to this dossier (that could) lead to a
military confrontation that could have negative consequences and lead
to catastrophe," the GCC Secretary-General said.
"A political solution to the crisis over the Iranian nuclear dossier
still has a chance," he said at the start of a conference on Gulf
security in Abu Dhabi. GCC member states have in the past voiced
concern about an eventual air strike on Iran´s nuclear facilities and
the potentially catastrophic environmental consequences.
The GCC´s decision to pursue a nuclear programme has raised concerns
that Arab states may want to protect themselves if Iran acquires
nuclear weapons. Gulf states have expressed concern over Iran´s
nuclear programme which the United States says could be aimed at
making bombs. Tehran says its programme is peaceful. Gulf states say
their nuclear programme will be used for power generation.
Nuclear power not the only thing Alternate Energy has in mind
(News Advance) Mar 5 - Its critics call Alternate Energy Holdings
After all, the small Thaxton-based firm has never built a nuclear
The start-up alternative energy firm in Bedford County put a 4,000-
acre tract in Idaho under contract in February for $20 million - and
plans to build a nuclear power plant there.
It also has entered into negotiations with AREVA NP to use its "next-
generation" nuclear reactor at the Idaho site.
When talking about this, company president and chief executive
officer Don Gillispie just sits back and smiles.
He realizes his company´s ambitions might seem comparable to a child
with big dreams to an outsider.
He said his company may be new, it may be small, but it has the
skills. The company may not have the experience, he said, but its
"I think if you count amongst our board members we´ve built 12
(nuclear) plants," Gillispie said.
Former senior executives in the utilities and investment industries
founded the alternative energy company. Its current board members
include a former vice president of the Nuclear Energy Institute
(NEI), a former executive director for operations of the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC) and several former board members of
nuclear utility regulator Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.
If its ambitious plan succeeds, the firm´s Idaho project would be the
first nuclear-generating plant in the United States since the 1970s.
According to a company news release, "The proposed plant was
originally requested by the Rural River Co-op to assist with local
farmers´ irrigation needs.
"Subject to regulatory approval, AEHI is considering further
involvement in the Idaho agricultural community, primarily by using
surplus heat from the plant to lower the high cost of producing
bioethanol from locally grown grain."
Alternate Energy´s board is not alone in its way of thinking.
NEI spokesman Mitchell Singer said 19 companies have announced their
intention to build a nuclear plant, including Alternate Energy and
Amarillo Power in Texas.
"If everything moves ahead as we it expect it will, construction on a
new plant will start 2012," Singer said.
Amarillo Power is the brain child of Amarillo, Texas, developer
George Chapman, who is attempting to bring an estimated $5 billion
nuclear power plant to that part of the country.
Attempts to contact Chapman were unsuccessful.
Like Alternate Energy, Amarillo Power has never built a nuclear power
Stephanie Coffin, branch manager for the NRC Office of New Reactors,
said Amarillo Power is the only company to file with the NRC that
isn´t currently operating a nuclear power plant. Alternate Energy is
awaiting the geologists report on the Idaho property before it files.
Alternate Energy´s big ideas don´t stop with nuclear power.
Like any company, Gillispie said, Alternate Energy has to look at
supply and demand. He said utility companies usually have to worry
about the supply side. His firm not only wants to make energy
available, but efficient as well.
The firm has a few projects in the works to make that possible,
including lightning harvesting, a fuel additive, a new system to
remove carbon dioxide at power plants and a system to convert coal
into synthetic natural gas.
Benjamin Franklin is credited with harnessing electricity with a kite
and a key in a lightning storm. Alternate Energy currently has a
patent to do something similar, without its five employees standing
in a thunderstorm.
Gillispie said a pole with an electric charge will attract currents
in the air. It will sit on about 50-acres of open land. The currents
would travel down the pole into a series of ground wires where it
would be converted into electricity and stored.
The average lightning bolt contains approximately one million
kilowatts of electrical energy. According to the Department of
Energy´s Web site, its not conducting research on the viability of
Gillispie said he was approached by Israeli native Steve LeRoy about
the project. LeRoy had worked on the lightning-harvesting project for
Gillispie said the Department of Defense offered to purchase the
project, but LeRoy turned it down because he thought the department
would use the technology as a weapon.
Alternate Energy has had success with the prototype on a smaller
scale. It even got into a bit of trouble with the Federal
Communications Commission because the electrical currents going into
the prototype were messing with neighbors´ TV reception.
"Our plan is to try to get it built (to scale) by this summer,"
Another idea in the works is mini reactors. Mini reactors are
actually an old concept, Gillispie said.
The reactors are just what they sound like - small nuclear reactors
that are used to power boats, airplanes and maybe one day the space
Gillispie said the project is in the preliminary phases right now.
His firm is currently working on a container that will hold the mini
Incentives, global warming concerns have power companies scrambling
to plan new reactors
(The Times-Picayune) Mar 4 - At River Bend nuclear power plant in St.
Francisville, a crater about the size of two football fields was
originally supposed to house the site's second nuclear reactor.
The abandoned crater is representative of more than 60 nuclear
reactors throughout the United States that were canceled in the 1970s
and 1980s because of rising construction costs, a slowdown in energy
demand and changing regulations because of a nuclear accident at
Three Mile Island near Hershey, Pa.
Since then, the nation's 103 nuclear plants have been supplying about
17 percent of the nation's energy. Not a single new reactor has
But spurred by more than $12 billion in federal incentives, a growing
concern about global warming and rising demand for energy, the
nuclear industry is undergoing a gold rush of sorts, as companies
jockey to be first in line to build a new plant.
"We are looking to finance the first movers," said Craig Stevens,
press secretary for the federal Department of Energy. "We want to
create an environment where nuclear reactors can be built."
About 15 companies, including Entergy Nuclear, have announced they
are considering building as many as 33 new reactors -- including at
Entergy's River Bend plant and its Grand Gulf plant in Port Gibson,
Miss., according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. Entergy says such a
new plant could be operating in 2015 at the soonest.
The companies say nuclear power could bring more fuel diversity to
the nation and provide the only large-scale emission free power.
"It's critical that nuclear be a part of the climate change
calculus," said Jim Owen, a spokesman for the Edison Electric
Institute, an electric company trade group.
But as the prospect of more nuclear plants comes closer to reality,
environmentalists are questioning the economics of building such
expensive plants and the rationale of supplanting pollution from
fossil fuels with the problems associated with nuclear fuel
production and waste.
"The environmental footprint of nuclear is phenomenal. It far exceeds
any other form of energy generation," said Geoff Fettus, an attorney
at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "And putting all of that
aside, the economics don't work. We could be doing a lot better
things with our money."
Because no plants have been built for so long, there is no reliable
estimate of how much a new plant will cost, according to the Energy
Information Agency. Estimates range from $2.5 billion to more than $8
billion per unit.
As the last round of nuclear plants was being built in the late 1970s
and early 1980s, several events came together and ended the
development of new nuclear plants for decades. First, initial
construction costs for many of the proposed plants were
underestimated. Then, following the accident at Three Mile Island in
Pennsylvania, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission tightened regulations
and standards for nuclear plants, creating even more cost overruns.
Plants that were initially expected to cost a few hundred million
dollars ended up costing a few billion. River Bend was estimated to
cost $307 million in 1971. By the time it was finished in 1985, the
plant cost $4.4 billion.
Additionally, high interest rates doomed some projects.
"In the 1970s when construction ended, the most expensive component
was the interest on the loan," Stevens said.
And predictions of rising demand for electricity turned out to be
false, limiting the need for new sources.
Those financial and regulatory obstacles had to be overcome to
encourage the development of new nuclear plants.
The Department of Energy tackled one of those issues in 2003 when it
offered to pay 50 percent of the $50 million to $90 million cost of
licensing to groups that were willing to try out the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission's new, streamlined licensing process.
Previously, companies had to apply to the commission for a license to
construct a plant. When construction was completed, they had to
return to the commission to obtain a license to operate the plant.
The two-phase licensing gave critics more opportunity to oppose the
project, ultimately slowing it down, Stevens said.
A consortium of companies called NuStart Energy, whose members
include Entergy Nuclear, Exelon Generation, FP&L, General Electric
and Westinghouse, took advantage of the Energy Department's offer and
are applying to obtain combined construction and operating licenses
for new reactors at Grand Gulf in Mississippi and at Bellefonte in
Alabama, which is owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
NuStart plans to submit its construction and operating licenses this
year. Once the licenses are obtained, NuStart will turn the process
over to the reactor's owners.
Entergy says it hasn't made a decision on whether it will build a
plant, but it wants to have the option to do so, said Randy
Hutchinson, senior vice president of development for Entergy Nuclear
"It's a serious phase to preserve the nuclear option," he said.
The Department of Energy also has offered risk insurance to the first
six nuclear reactors to break ground. The first two companies to
start construction will be eligible for as much as $500 million in
insurance to hedge against bureaucratic and legal delays, and the
next four will receive $250 million.
The first six companies will also receive tax credits of as much as
1.6 cents per hour for new power generation.
The government is also offering loan guarantees to companies that
apply for them.
Nuclear industry critics say if nuclear were a good investment, the
companies would be building the plants on their own, without taxpayer
"This is an astronomical amount of money that is being used to
subsidize a mature polluting industry," Fettus said.
A spokeswoman for the Nuclear Energy Institute said the industry is
asking help to get the new plants off the ground.
"What the industry seeks from Congress is limited investment in a
limited number of new plants for a limited time," Melanie Lyons said.
In addition to the incentives and regulatory changes, the way the
reactors will be designed and built has changed dramatically, company
For instance, during the last generation of nuclear plants, reactors
were designed as they were constructed, and each was unique.
The new generation of nuclear plants will be standard throughout the
industry and will be largely designed before construction begins,
Those designs also will contain fewer pieces of equipment and will be
"passive safe," meaning that they will be safer to operate and
maintain and will automatically shut down in case of an accident,
said Garry Young, who is handling the licensing process for the
proposed reactor at River Bend.
Paul Gunter of the Reactor Watchdog Project said that in the
companies' efforts to reduce costs, the new round of plants will be
less safe, and "profit margins are pitted against safety and
Experts in the field
Entergy would try to avoid cost overruns by putting one contractor,
General Electric, in charge of the project. Previously, the company
managed several different contractors.
We'll sign one contract. We will be dealing with one person with
accountability to get the job done on budget and on schedule,"
Another advantage comes into play for Entergy: its experience in the
The company is the second-largest nuclear operator in the nation
The company had reactors in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi in
1998, when it decided to expand its reach and make nuclear a "core"
"At that time, when most utilities wanted to divest their nuclear
units, Entergy Nuclear knew that the 103 nuclear plants across the
nation had unrealized value and potential that could be tapped by a
knowledgeable, experienced nuclear operator," said Diane Park, a
spokeswoman for Entergy's nuclear business development unit.
Since then, Entergy has acquired five more reactors. It is preparing
to close on a sixth reactor in Michigan. It also operates a plant in
"It's a very big part of our business today, and we see that more and
more going forward," Hutchinson said.
Nuclear amounts to 30 percent of Entergy's power capacity but closer
to 50 percent of its actual generation, he said.
The company's experience in the nuclear field allows the company to
operate plants more efficiently and with economies of scale, Park
Lately, the nuclear division has proven to be a strong revenue stream
as the demand for nuclear power has risen because of higher fossil
In 2006, Entergy Nuclear earned $309.5 million, compared to $282.6
million in 2005, largely because of higher contract pricing and
higher generation, according to the company.
No greenhouse gases
Nuclear power has come to the forefront in recent years as a
potential solution to global warming.
Demand for power is growing, as is pressure on the energy industry to
reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
"Nuclear is the only large base-load power supply that doesn't emit
greenhouse gases," Hutchinson said.
The industry has even adopted the slogan "Go Nuclear: Because you
care about the air."
If Congress taxes carbon dioxide-producing fossil fuels, nuclear
power, which wouldn't be taxed, could become a very affordable option
"Such a tax would further encourage nuclear development from a cost
standpoint," Hutchinson said.
Based on the long time and expense it takes to build a nuclear plant,
Fettus said, Congress should be encouraging other forms of emission-
free energy, such as wind and solar.
"Nuclear has the longest cost and the longest time frame," Fettus
said. "We have a short and limited time frame" in which to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.
Although many of the stumbling blocks for new nuclear plants have
been overcome with new incentives and changes in regulations, the
question of what to do with the nuclear fuel once it's used is still
"There is the long-term cost of nuclear waste," Gunter said. "The
future generation won't get one watt but will have to deal with this
Federal law requires that the Department of Energy locate and operate
a repository for nuclear waste, and in 2002, 20 years after the law
was passed, Congress agreed that Yucca Mountain in Nevada would be
that site. The Energy Department has said it will open the repository
But questions about the site's suitability persist. Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he will continue to work to block
completion of the project. He told United Press International in
December that "Yucca Mountain is dead. It'll never happen."
Until Yucca Mountain or another repository begins taking the nuclear
waste, companies must store the nuclear waste on-site.
At River Bend, huge concrete casks are being built to store nuclear
waste. Each cask costs $2 million to $3 million each, said Randy
King, director of nuclear safety assurance at River Bend. Those costs
are passed on to customers.
It's anyone's guess as to how many new nuclear reactors will be built
The Nuclear Energy Institute says it's too early to even speculate.
Entergy hasn't decided whether it will build any reactors, including
the two it has proposed.
"We clearly have not made a decision to build at this time,"
Hutchinson said. "It's clear that we are going to have to add base
load. It's clear that it will be nuclear or coal or clean coal."
Hutchinson and Owen of the Edison Electric Institute say that even if
new nuclear plants are built, it won't be the only new source of
James Hewlett, an analyst at the Department of Energy's Energy
Information Agency, has been watching the nuclear industry for 20
He said the resurgence of nuclear should have been anticipated.
"Once you had an administration that is pro-nuclear -- combine that
with global warming and it's not surprising. I'm just surprised it's
happened this quick."
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