Carnival of Nuclear Energy 231

1. Robert Rock [President, Environmentalists for Nuclear, Canada] at Linkedin – Is Germany’s Green turning Brown ?

Robert Rock looks at the effect of Germany’s Energiewende.

The Energiewende has cost German citizens more than € 100 billion euros. That cost continues to grow. The environment minister believes that it will cost over € 1 trillion euros over the next two decades. In the future, the cost gets even worse for Germany, as Siemens estimated in 2011 that the lifetime cost of the Energiewende through 2050 will be € 4.5 trillion euros.

In addition, to the issue of rising costs which are substantial, Germany is also displacing whole villages to be able to mine more coal. A recent example of this is Proschim in the east.

2. James Conca at Forbes – A Working Nuclear Fusion Reactor In Three Years? Really?

Lockheed Martin claimed a design breakthrough in nuclear fusion reactors that will revolutionize energy production on planet Earth and fit in my garage. I hope so.

Superconducting magnetic coils inside a compact fusion reactor. Source: Lockheed Martin

3. Atomic Insights – UAMPS stepping forward to serve customer

UAMPS is a group of 45 public power entities that is seriously considering buying a 12 module NuScale power plant. If built, it will be located in Idaho and operated by Energy Northwest. The target operational date is 2023 or 2024. Doug Hunter of UAMPS explains the company’s interest in SMRs.

4. Neutron Bytes – Dan Yurman – Restart of nuclear reactors in Japan suffers major setback

The expected resignation of METI Chief Yuko Obuchi leaves the initiative without a politically connected leader.
Despite problems restarting reactors at home, export efforts scored a win in Turkey.

5. Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary – Volcanoes and nukes – Japan’s latest Press-driven phobia

After March 11, 2011, fear of earthquakes causing nuke accidents proliferated across Japan. If anything, the temblor of 3/11/11 demonstrated that massive quakes are not a realistic threat to nuke safety. Now, its fear of volcanoes that takes center stage, built entirely on uncertainty and doubt.

6. NEI Nuclear Notes – In Virginia, No Debate on Nuclear Energy

In a debate pitting incumbent Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) against challenger Ed Gillespie, there was one area of surprising agreement: support for nuclear energy. NEI’s Mark Flanagan takes a closer look.

7. Yes Vermont Yankee – Decommissioning Estimate Released Today

Entergy released the completed site assessment and decommissioning estimate for Vermont Yankee. The total estimate for decomm is $1,242 million, of which spent fuel management is $368 million. Approximately $400 million will be spent between 2014 and 2020. Entergy will take a charge against earnings, based on this estimate. This blog post contains links to original documents.

8. Canadian energy issues – “Sleepwalking to the Gates of Hell: what anti-nukery and mortgage-derivative financial genius have in common”

The head of Electricite de France was just fired for warning about the consequences of the green groupthink that has swept across Europe in recent years. Steve Aplin of Canadian Energy Issues likens this groupthink to that of early 2008, when ‘smart’ people everywhere were investing in securities backed by American home mortgages.

9. Nextbigfuture – Lightbridge on Monday announced a pact with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to carry out a key test for the McLean-based company’s nuclear fuel technology.

The initial agreement with Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) entails fabricating samples of the fuel and irradiating them in a research reactor. The work represents “the most critical phase of fuel testing and demonstration” prior to testing in a commercial reactor.

10. Nextbigfuture – Updated Prospects for Commercial Nuclear Fusion

Nextbigfuture has an updated summary of the state of nuclear fusion research. Progress appears to be going a more slowly than previously hoped, but there are several possible projects (General Fusion, John Slough small space propulsion nuclear fusion system, Lawrenceville Plasma Physics – if they work out metal contamination and other issues and scale power) that could demonstrate net energy gain in the next couple of years. However, full commercialization is being targeted in the 2020-2025 timeframes by some projects. Target dates are usually missed and have a lot of slippage but if those working on the problem do not even have plans to try to reach particular dates then the actual dates will clearly be much alter.

There will eventually be more than one economic and technological winner. Once we figure out nuclear fusion there will be multiple nuclear fusion reactors. It will be like engines – steam engines, gasoline engines, diesel engines, jet engines. There will be multiple makers of multiple types of nuclear fusion reactors. There will be many applications : energy production, space propulsion, space launch, transmutation, weapons and more. We will be achieving greater capabilities with magnets (100+ tesla superconducting magnets), lasers (high repetition and high power), and materials. We will also have more knowledge of the physics. What had been a long hard slog will become easy and there will be a lot more money for research around a massive industry.

The cleaner burning aspect of most nuclear fusion approaches versus nuclear fission is not that interesting to me. It is good but nuclear fission waste cycle could be completely closed with deep burn nuclear fission reactors that use all of the uranium and plutonium. The big societal impact will be eventually getting energy that is ten to one hundred times cheaper and far more abundant.