Energy Technology News Roundup; New US nuclear reactor on track for 2012, ORNL zero energy house

1. The process for getting Unit 2 of the Watts Bar nuclear plant up and running by 2012 is on track.

TVA is still holding to its August 2007 estimate of $2.49 billion for total capital costs to finish the project. Construction, including work on the high- and low-pressure turbines, already is under way and all major engineering should be finished in the next six to eight months, Bajestani said. The TVA time line calls for Unit 2 to be functional by August 2011, ready for its nuclear fuel load by April 2012, and in full operation by October 2012.

Pending nuclear plant license applications for the US. In the pipeline for the USA:

2. Zero energy housing project update

The savings are made possible by a combination of affordable technologies. Rooftop solar panels generate electricity that can be transferred back to TVA’s electric grid, occasionally making the electric meter actually spin backwards. Other special energy features include a solar water heater, a foundation geothermal heat pump installed in the excavated space as the house is being built, highly efficient appliances with Energy Star ratings, compact fluorescent lights, windows facing south toward the sun and a variety of insulation technologies inside and outside walls to keep warm air in during winter and hot air out in summer.

Despite the simplicity of operation, the houses are different from conventional houses in several ways. House 5 has a utility wall that takes advantage of appliances that release heat—such as a refrigerator and freezer—by locating them next to those that use heat to raise the temperature of air or water, such as a dryer and dishwasher. House 5 has a well-insulated basement with concrete blocks that provide thermal mass to enhance occupant comfort because the heat-storing blocks are insulated on the outside by a fiberglass drainage board and exterior finish system. Above-grade walls are 6-in.-thick structural insulated panels, which are slightly thicker than the typical 2 by 4 in. wall system of a conventional house.

Thanks to an increase in funding, Christian is optimistic that five new prototype houses will be built near ORNL by the end of the year.

3. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has released Combined Heat and Power: Effective Energy Solutions for a Sustainable Future, a new report highlighting Combined Heat and Power (CHP) as a realistic solution to enhance national energy efficiency, ensure environmental quality, promote economic growth, and foster a robust energy infrastructure.

The report asks “What if 20% of generating capacity came from CHP?” [It is currently 9% of US capacity) If the United States attained this goal by 2030, benefits would include:
-Using CHP today, the United States already avoids more than 1.9 quadrillion Btu of fuel consumption and annual CO2 emissions equivalent to removing more than 45 million cars from the road.
-A 60% reduction of the projected increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030—the equivalent of removing 154 million cars from the road
-Fuel savings of 5.3 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) annually—the equivalent of nearly half the total energy currently consumed by US households
-Economically viable application throughout the nation in large and small industrial facilities, commercial buildings, multi-family and single-family housing, institutional facilities, and campuses
-The creation of 1 million new highly-skilled, competitive “green-collar” jobs through 2030 and $234 billion in new investments throughout the United States.