published Thursday, June 11th, 2009

TVA eyes Oak Ridge nuclear plant

PDF: Environmental assessment of Bellefonte

PDF: NRC report on Browns Ferry

PDF: Decision on Bellefonte Nuclear Plant

Article: Radioactive issue

Slideshow: Bellefonte future

Article: Step-by-step approach improves TVA performance

Article: Nuclear options for Bellefonte

Article: Georgia leads way in next generation of nuclear design

PDF: NRC letter to TVA

PDF: B&W nuclear reactor

Article: TVA eyes Oak Ridge nuclear plant

PDF: Sen. Lamar Alexander speech

Article: Alexander wants 100 reactors

Article: Georgia likely site for nuke’s new design

Article: Tennessee Valley Authority urged to increase nuclear power at Bellefonte

PDF: NRC concerns about Bellefonte permit

PDF: List of proposed reactors

Article: Tennessee Valley Authority seeks green power from windy Midwest

Article: Advocates push for more green power use

PDF: TVA renewable purchases

PDF: NRC comments on Bellefonte license

Article: Salvaging Bellefonte

PDF: NRC Bellefonte report

PDF: TVA renewable power

Article: Tennessee: TVA considers more renewable power

Article:Union rips Tennessee Valley Authority guard changes

Article: Tennessee: NRC OKs new work at Bellefonte

PDF: NRC Bellefonte permits

Article: Chattanooga: Nuclear power touted as solution to U.S. energy woes

PDF: Sequoyah order

Article: Tennessee: TVA guard falsified records, report says

Article: Prepping for a nuclear rebound

Article: Lining up for nuclear revival

PDF: Draft GNEP impact study

Article: East Tennessee makes push for nuclear fuel recycling site

Article: Tennessee Valley Authority power cheaper, more reliable, but operating costs still above average

Article:Tennessee: Area aglow over nuclear growth

Article: Chattanooga: Capitol ambitions held for cell Wamp says fuel unit tested at UTC lands $3.5 million in taxpayer money

Article: Lawmakers say lower gas prices shouldn’t dampen focus on energy

Article: Tennessee Valley Authority urges conservation to limit rate impact

Article: Tennessee: Staying beneath the debt cap

Article:Tennessee Valley Authority cuts contract for nuclear security

Article: Tennessee Valley Authority rate increase electrifies Congress

Article: Tennessee Valley Authority to study reviving Bellefonte reactors

Article: New Energy Reform Act of 2008

Article: Chattanooga: Law enforcement learns about transuranic waste

Article: Chattanooga: Nuclear may power local jobs

Article: Tennessee: New nuclear plants get more expensive

Environmentalists warming up to nuclear energy options

TVA a player in nuclear’s comeback

Nuclear waste shipments in Chattanooga growing sharply

Nuclear poised to take slice of energy pie

More than 25 years after the federal government scrapped plans for a nuclear breeder reactor in Oak Ridge, Tenn., TVA is considering building a new type of nuclear reactor at the abandoned Clinch River site.

The Tennessee Valley Authority announced Wednesday it has signed an agreement to pursue a new reactor design that proponents say is safer, cheaper and can be built in smaller increments than the previous generation of nuclear plants.

TVA has yet to commit to building the new reactor, made by Babcock & Wilcox Co. But agency Vice President Jack Bailey said the federal utility is eager to work toward getting the new design licensed and is studying its Clinch River property as a possible test site.

“TVA is looking forward to working with B&W and other utilities in bringing this new reactor to market,” Mr. Bailey said.

Babcock & Wilcox, which operates or manages 17 nuclear facilities in the United States, unveiled its advanced light water reactor known as the "B&W mPower" at a news conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The new reactor is designed to be built largely in factories in 125-megawatt modular units to help cut construction costs.

The design allows for nuclear generation to come in scalable units about one-tenth the size of a conventional 1,200-megawatt nuclear plant. The new reactor would be air cooled, requiring less water, and use underground storage pools with a 60-year life, offsetting the need to ship wastes from the plant during its operation.

“This important project, we believe, will be a milestone in the nuclear renaissance,” B&W CEO Brandon Bethards said.

But critics of nuclear power question whether small nuclear plants make sense and whether the B&W design can be built in a cost-effective manner.

“It sounds to me like B&W is overhyping this, because there’s been no real evidence that small reactors make sense, even though a number of vendors have proposed the idea,” said Ed Lyman, a senior scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “If we are going to have nuclear power, it needs to be heavily fortified and protected and that will tend to push you to have as few sites as possible, not a lot of smaller sites spread all over.”

B&W plans to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for design certification of its mPower reactor by 2011 and have the first unit under construction by 2015 and producing power by 2018.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was among five members of Congress who strongly endorsed the new reactor design during Wednesday’s product announcement.

“I think this could cause many Americans to rethink nuclear power,” said Sen. Alexander, co-chairman of the TVA Congressional Caucus and a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “Babcock & Wilcox and the TVA have shown us a small reactor that can be built in a factory, shipped to the site on rails and fit together like Lego blocks.”

U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., said the modular design allows the type of factory production that “Henry Ford already has shown can work.”

“There is not a place in the world that is not looking at the United States right now and asking why we are not being a leader in nuclear power,” said Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.

TVA said it will study whether to build another nuclear plant using the B&W design on the 1,300-acre site where the U.S. Department of Energy once wanted to build the Clinch River Breeder Reactor. After nearly a decade and a half of study and development, the breeder reactor ultimately was scrapped in 1983.

Mary Olson, Southeast coordinator for the anti-nuclear group known as the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said TVA shouldn’t try to build a new type of nuclear design on the same site where the government failed to gain approval for another new nuclear technology.

“If Southern utilities continue to blindly pursue nuclear power, I’m worried that our power rates will skyrocket above other areas of the country which are pursuing less-costly renewable energy,” she said.

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rc115shepherd said...

Nuclear power plants have enormous sunk (i.e., non-recoverable) investment costs, which are accumulated from their initial conception, and; are accounted against them, for the average of a decade to decade and a half, between their accountable conception (when the money clock starts running), to the first day they begin to deliver their useful kilowatt-hour (kwh) output.

This creates an inherent diseconomy of scale in this form of an electric generating enterprise. Each kwh of electric output has enormous sunk costs associated with it, that in a fully allocated cost accounting scheme forces each generated kwh to recover those sunk costs in addition to the higher unit operating costs (in higher skilled operators, greater plant security required, and nuclear waste handling) incurred. Multi-purpose hydroelectric dams have this same feature in their economic analyses. They have huge sunk costs in land, and infrastructure and the electric power they produce is thereby inherently diseconomic.

The only counter to this inherent dis-economic situation is to increase to a maximum the quantity of output (in kwh) these plants generate per available hour of operation; so as to spread these irreducible sunk costs across as many generated kwh as possible, thereby transforming the diseconomy of scale into an economy of scale.

Small scale nuclear power plants attempt to counter this basic theorem of econometrics. The smaller plant is less costly to build but it is not simpler to secure or operate. It is not less costly to regulate. The nuclear wastes that are generated in the operation of the plant, are not less dangerous because in mass there is a smaller annual quantity to be handled. The engineering of such a plant will not be the subject of less regulatory scrutiny. The plant may cost the builder less in design, engineering, manufacture and installation. And the builder may recoup his costs by selling more units to achieve for his customers the same kWh output, thereby making the plants profitable to sell to customers. But the full allocation of the costs to the plants’ operators to generate and delivery that power to consumers will be much higher.

The unit overhead costs of generating 10.3 billion kwh per year from five plants (4 – 250 megawatt units), and (1 – 200 megawatt unit) would as a minimum be four times the unit overhead cost of generating 10.3 billion kwh per year from a single 1200 megawatt nuclear plant, and the cost per kwh of the electricity generated in that manner would have to be much higher per kwh consumed, as a result.

July 20, 2009 at 1:01 p.m.
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