Welcome to AtomWatch - world nuclear power news and analysis

This blog is aimed at tracing the world news related to nuclear power development internationally and in particular countries. Being an independent resource, we accept all kinds of opinions, positions and comments, and welcome you to discuss the posts and tell us what you think.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nuclear news 10/02/2008

Nuclear plants are not carbon neutral
Times Argus

Mining, milling, conversion, refining and fabrication of uranium into fuel rods all use fossil fuels. Storage of waste and decommissioning of the plant also take significant amounts of fuel. Yes, other generators also require dismantling, but they can be sold as scrap metal, to defray costs. Dismantled nuclear generators include many tons of radioactive material that must be sequestered indefinitely.
With the currently available high grade uranium ore (0.2 percent concentration), the nuclear plant results in 20 percent as much carbon dioxide as a natural gas fired power plant. When ore concentrations are lowered to 0.01 percent, the nuclear plant causes the same carbon dioxide production as a natural gas fired plant. And ore quality is declining steadily and will decline faster as more nuclear plants are built. So nuclear plants are not carbon neutral, by any considered analysis. As time goes on, as we approach the time when only the lowest grade ores are available, nuclear power becomes a "carbon loser" compared to natural gas fired generation.
We need to be very clear that nuclear energy does emit carbon dioxide, some now and much more in the future.

In the US, nuclear power is becoming the new green

Thirty years since a US nuclear reactor was ordered and more than a decade since the last plant opened, the controversial energy source is being considered by utilities across the country.
Federal regulators received four licence applications for seven new nuclear-power plants last year and expect to receive another 15 applications for 22 plants this year.
Several factors drive the renewed interest in nuclear energy. Operations, maintenance and fuel costs for nuclear plants have dropped 30% since 1995, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. At the same time, the cost of operating a coal-fired plant has remained flat, while natural gas prices have surged.
"It's become a matter of economics," said Tom Johnson, from the department of environmental and radiological health sciences at Colorado State University. "Nuclear is starting to become a little bit cheaper than coal."

Nuclear power's costs far outweigh its benefits
JS Online

Proponents of nuclear power argue that it does not produce carbon dioxide and thus does not contribute to global climate change. This argument, endlessly repeated by proponents of nuclear power, ignores the inconvenient fact that without the mining, milling and enrichment of uranium, there is no nuclear power. Each stage of the nuclear fuel cycle is extremely energy intensive and results in the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.
The most energy-intensive stage of the nuclear fuel cycle is the mining and milling of uranium fuel. As the most accessible and higher grade uranium ores are mined, a greater amount of energy is required to extract uranium from less accessible and lower grade uranium concentrations.

Europe warms up to nuclear power

The nuclear industry in the United States is beginning to show signs of life after years of lying dormant, but it is still weighed down by concerns over accidents, waste disposal and the possibility that fuel might wind up in terrorists' hands.
For inspiration, America needs only to look to Europe, where nuclear energy is increasingly being seen as the only way to tackle the twin problems of climate change and energy security. After years of resistance, the British government last month gave the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations. As many as 10 new reactors are in the works. Around the world, up to 90 nuclear reactors are being planned, many in Europe.
Adam McCarthy, associate director of Energy Policy Consulting in Brussels, Belgium, said "there is a growing realization that nuclear will have to be part of the energy solution for Europe."
He said the main driver is the desire among Europeans, who tend to be more environment-minded than Americans, to reduce the carbon emissions that cause global warming. Another factor is rising oil and gas prices.

Is nuclear power the answer to global warming?

Utlizing nuclear power is a safe, economical and long term solution to part of the problem of global warming.
Nuclear power has fallen out of favor in the general public because of two well publicized incidents: Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl. Both are anamolies on the otherwise spotless safety record of nuclear power. France operates a sizable (by some estimations 70) percentage of their power completely on nuclear power plants and has not had a single notable safety incident. In America, 20% of our power comes from nuclear energy, and aside from Three Mile Island, there has been no notable safety incident either. In other parts of the world nuclear power is seen as the height of sophisticated safety. The redundancies in all aspects of safety and security are top notch and it is one of the most highly regulated and oft inspected ways of generating power in existence today.

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