New Ways to Leverage Nuclear Power and Coal

1. Kentucky is Considering Using Nuclear Power For Coal to Liquid Process

The Kentucky plan proposes a goal of 50 million tons of coal used per year to produce 4 billion gallons of liquid fuel per year by 2025. [100 million barrels per year or about 300,000 barrels per day]

The plan proposes that Kentucky evaluate and deploy technologies for carbon management for use in 50 percent of coal-based energy applications.

The Kentucky Plan is smaller and slower than the 1.1 million barrel per day Sasol coal to liquid project in Indonesia for 2015

Idaho Samizdat indicates that a suggestion put forward by the Kentucky plan is that “a moderate investment” in nuclear power (eight plants at four sites) could be considered as part of a strategy to diversity Kentucky’s future electrical energy portfolio, reduce emissions. Taking a hypothetical case of building eight 1,000 MW plants by 2025, that would require an investment of $28-35 billion dollars in the next 17 years.

2. Turning More Underground Coal into Methane/Natural Gas Using Microbes
From MIT Technology Review: Luca Technologies, a startup based in Golden, CO, has raised $76 million to scale up a process that uses coal-digesting microorganisms to convert coal into methane. The process is designed to operate underground, inside coal mines. Methane, the key component of natural gas, can then be pumped out and used to generate electricity or power vehicles. The company has tested its methods in coal beds where wells had been drilled to collect natural gas (about 10 percent of the natural gas mined in the United States comes from coal beds). Many of these wells had stopped producing natural gas, or produced too little to be profitable. After treatment, production increased, and the wells became profitable again

If the process proves economical, it could help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, since burning natural gas releases half as much carbon dioxide as does burning coal. It could also reduce or eliminate the anticipated need to import natural gas in the future, says Gary Stiegel, the technology manager for gasification at the National Energy Technology Laboratory, in Philadelphia. As little as one-hundredth of 1 percent of the coal in the United States converted into methane by microbes would supply the country’s current annual natural-gas demands. US Coal reserves would provide a 10,000 year supply of natural gas at todays current usage rate of natural gas.

3. Russia’s Gazprom cut back gas supply into Ukraine, a growing shortage in Europe has resulted in calls to re-open shut-down nuclear power plants.

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov said work would start immediately to prepare to restart the third reactor at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant.

Slovakia, prime minister Robert Fico said he “could imagine” the re-opening of a shut-down reactor at Jaslovske Bohunice.

4. 2008: Three reactors shut, ten more begin construction

The reactors to be restarted from the third news article are one of the reactors shut down in Dec 2008.

The construction of ten other nuclear power reactors commenced during 2008, mainly in Asia, but also in Russia. In China, construction began on six new units: Hongyanhe 1, Fuqing 1, Ningde 1 and 2, Yangjiang 1, and Fangjiashan 1. Construction also started on Shin Wolsong 2 and Shin Kori 1 in South Korea. In Russia, building of two new units began: Leningrad II-1 and Novovoronezh II-1. Together, these units have boosted the total number of new reactors under construction worldwide to 43 (with a total capacity of 37.6 GWe), up from 33 (26.6 GWe) a year earlier.

Construction resumed on Slovakia’s long-stalled Mochovce 3 and 4 reactors. The reactors will add 440 MWe each to Slovakian generating capacity and restore its status as an electricity exporter when complete in 2012 and 2013.

Slovakia has maintained that the reactor were safe and could have continued operating for at least another 10-15 years. The 408 MWe Bohunice 2 reactor – the second unit of the V1 plant – in Slovakia was shut down on 31 December as a condition of the country’s accession to the European Union (EU).

5. Construction of two CPR-1000 reactors were started in China provide another 2160 MWe. The dates scheduled for the start of their commercial operation are December 2013 and October 2014.