Friday, January 22, 2010

This week on the Nuclear blogs

Nuclear Bloggers have been busy this week, and one of us was interviewed by a journalist/blogger. Rod Adams, who is the Dean of the nuclear bloggers was interviewed by Fortune Magazine contributing editor and environment/energy blogger Marc Gunther. The post on Adams, titled 'A Naval officer’s “Atomic Insights”.' Rod discusses the problems of renewables, as well the promise of small power generating reactors.

Dan Yurman also is thinking and writing about small reactors. this week he writes about a new small reactor start up concept, this one a 100 MW fast reactor coming from retired Argonne scientist and EBR-II pioneer, Leon Walters.

NEI Nuclear Notes has a story about Blubba, who sometimes blogs on Daily Kos. I followed the link to Blubba's blog, and ran into a very interesting discussion of the Price-Anderson Act as a nuclear industry subsidy. Blubba is a careful worker, and looks at things like the definition of subsidy in the MIT Dictionary of Modern Economics. Blubbha notes that a subsidy is defined as a
payment made by the government . . .
and notes,
since the existing private liability coverage provided by PAA has proven more than adequate to cover all of the claims made to date (including at Three Mile Island) and there has never been a “payment made by the government”, that Price-Anderson is technically not a subsidy.
Blubbha asks,
So what is PAA worth?
and finds,
Rothwell and Dubin, where the first (that I know of) to attempt a serious calculation and came up with $22 million per reactor per year in 1990. In 1998, Heyes and Heyes suggested some additional terms be included which reduced that number by a factor of 10 to $2.3 million/year.
He then goes to discusses the value of the Price-Anderson subsidy, or rather the virtual impossibility of determining its value, if any. Blubba is thus a blogger whose contributions deserve our attention.

Kirk Sorensen is also blogging about the IFR this week in a multi-part series, Comparing LFTRs and IFRs to LWRs (Part 1 and Part 2). Kirk concludes his second post with an assessment of relative attractiveness.
While IFRs could run longer on a given fuel load, they will do so at the detriment of their breeding performance and their fuel quality. LFTRs don't give up performance in the fuel cycle to run longer, because in one sense, they are reprocessing all the time.

So if a utility is looking at the bottom line of how many hours of the year the reactor is turning the electrical generator, they're going to see a big advantage for LFTR over the IFR.
Kirk plans to continue the series.

David Walters sometimes blogs on Daily Kos, and occasionally on Left Atomics. This week David offered us a the first installment of a multi-part guest column by Donald Vaughn, who David describes as
a union activist, socialist, and nuclear energy expert
Vaughn's column is a response to an article published in Liberation an Indian Communist
party newspaper.titled, "Will the Nuke Deal Solve Power Shortage in India?"

Barry Brook, once again proves his versatility by posting an account of a Science paper which he recently wrote with Australian geochronologist Bert Roberts. The Paper, titled "And Then There Were None?" addresses the relationship of the human settlement of Australia, and the disappearance of Australian megafauna.

I sometimes comment that other people can do many of the things I do on Nuclear 'green, better than I do. Australian Engineer Peter Lang is one of them. Barry Brook often posts Peter's studies which point to very high renewable energy costs, and questionable effectiveness. Kent Hawkins from the MasterResource offers a write up of one of Lang's recent papers. Hawkins observes,
Lang presents further proof that industrial-scale renewable capacity additions, particularly wind and in the near future, solar, are problematic in terms of meaningfully reducing emissions. They do not provide the impact that is needed in terms of energy independence, avoidance of fossil fuel use, and reductions in CO2 emissions that conventional wisdom, with all its inadequacies, dictates.

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Dr. Joe Bonometti speaking on thorium/LFTR technology at Georgia Tech David LeBlanc on LFTR/MSR technology Robert Hargraves on AIM High