Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama, a revered spiritual leader whose influence is felt far beyond the boundaries of Tibetan Buddhism, startled his followers and the anti-nuclear community this week. In an interview with the news media in Tokyo, he said that there is a role for nuclear energy in the development process. His comments follow a tour of the earthquake and tsunami devastated areas in Japan about 40 miles from Fukushima.
2. Yes Vermont Yankee has a guest post by Evan Twarog. Twarog is a high school student whose father works at Vermont Yankee, and he writes A Teen’s View of Vermont Yankee.
Leaders in countries where generational thinking has a strong tradition are moving smartly to expand their ability to use both uranium and thorium as sources of power upon which to build more prosperity for growing numbers of people. They are taking action in realization that providing reliable, virtually emission-free power is a moral response to the challenges that their nations face. India, China, Arab and southeast Asian nations are all taking a hard look at the results of Fukushima, at the stresses in the fossil fuel supply chain, at the data coming from climate researchers and recognizing that there is an immediate need to move forward to develop new nuclear energy supply systems.
Exelon CEO John Rowe recently raised hackles when he called the Calvert Cliffs expansion project “almost inconceivable” in terms of economics, given that it is being built in a deregulated utility market. Yet is the electricity market really an impediment, or it other factors facing utilities?
9. Nextbigfuture – A robotic suit originally designed to help elderly people walk has been upgraded to assist emergency teams working in the difficult conditions at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Fitted with motors at the key joints – the lower back, knees, elbows and shoulders – the suit is worn as an external skeleton and works in tandem with the wearer to provide him with additional strength. The robotic suit gives the wearer double his natural strength. The outfits have since been developed by Cyberdyne, which on Monday demonstrated a unit designed to be worn by emergency teams operating close to the damaged reactors who have to wear anti-radiation tungsten vests that can weigh up to 60kg (132lb). Workers at the plant have found it difficult to operate for long periods of time while wearing full protective equipment, particularly in the heat of the summer months.
Fukushima Daiichi has raised questions about the future role of nuclear power. In the New Policies Scenario, nuclear output rises by over 70% by 2035, only slightly less than projected last year, as most countries with nuclear programmes have reaffirmed their commitment to them. But given the increased uncertainty, that could change. A special Low Nuclear Case examines what would happen if the anticipated contribution of nuclear to future energy supply were to be halved. While providing a boost to renewables, such a slowdown would increase import bills, heighten energy security concerns and make it harder and more expensive to combat climate change.
11. Nextbigfuture – Global Nuclear Power Development: Major Expansion Continues (13 pages). The Nuclear Energy Institute has a white paper that reviews the current status and the plans for nuclear power
12. Gail Marcus discusses an article in the Japanese press about “sloppy” inspection procedures for nuclear facilities in Japan. The article makes a particular point of comparing Japanese practices with those of the NRC. One interesting revelation is that the contrast between the Japanese and US practices has been known for many years, both inside and outside Japan.
13. Gail Marcus summarizes the results of a study by Herb Inhaber on the potential impacts of wind energy on global warming. Contrary to “conventional wisdom,” he finds that wind generation may actually end up increasing global warming rather than decreasing it. The reason for this counter-intuitive finding is that ramping gas turbines up and down to meet the varying back-up power needs is inefficient.