Are Obama's Energy Plans Jinxed?
‘President Obama's inability -- or unwillingness -- to take control of the Gulf Coast oil disaster seems to be part of a larger pattern. Many environmentalists say they feel betrayed by a president they thought would end, or sharply limit, many environmental horrors of the past. Obama has promised a comprehensive climate and clean energy policy that invests in energy efficiency and renewable power. But the president himself had acknowledged that getting 60 votes to pass an energy bill through the Senate will require significant concessions on nuclear power, "clean coal," and offshore oil drilling. Critics feel its business as usual in Washington. What's scary is -- if disasters come in threes -- President Obama is giving the nuclear industry a new life through loan guarantees. In his State of the Union speech, President Obama called for "a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants." After issuing $8 billion in nuclear energy loan guarantees in February, the administration is poised to announce another $9 billion for the nuclear energy industry. The Energy Department also just announced a $2 billion loan guarantee to French-owned Areva Inc. for construction of a uranium enrichment plant in Idaho after a ban on such private facilities since the 1970's.’
EDF to press ahead with nuclear plans after assurances from Chris Huhne
‘EDF Energy will announce today that it has received sufficient reassurances from the energy and climate change secretary, Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne, to continue planning for a new generation of nuclear plants in Britain. There were fears that the Lib Dems' manifesto commitment to halt the construction of any more nuclear reactors, and recent sceptical signals from Huhne, could derail its £20bn building programme. But Vincent de Rivaz, the chief executive of EDF in Britain, will tell a conference he is convinced that both sides are committed to the same goal: new reactors without subsidies and at a viable cost. "What has emerged very quickly from the coalition government is clarity over its commitment to deliver a low carbon future, together with a commitment that new nuclear will play a part in the new administration's plans," de Rivaz will say. "Chris Huhne has already provided important reassurances that he will take a pragmatic approach to new nuclear power as long as it can be built without subsidy.’
PGE delays selection of nuclear plant partners
‘WARSAW, May 26 (Reuters) - Poland's leading utility PGE pushed back the selection of a financial partner and technology supplier for the country's first nuclear plant, the head of its nuclear energy arm said on Wednesday. PGE officials had said the partners would be known later this year, but Marcin Cieplinski, who runs PGE Energia Jadrowa, said only a preliminary list of prefered partners would be set in 2010. "This year, we will know with whom we would prefer to cooperate... but it will most likely be more than one company," Cieplinski said. "As long as the legal framework is not set, I doubt any partner would like to decisively declare their will to cooperate on this project." Cieplinski added the deals with both the supplier and the financial partner, which will have a 49 percent stake in the project, would be signed in 2013 at the latest. Poland, which wants to built its first nuclear plant by 2020, needs to first adapt its various laws in order to regulate the nuclear industry and wants to setup the special regulator to oversee the industry.’
Brazil poised to attain uranium autonomy
‘Brazil, the oldest nuclear power in Latin America, is poised to attain industrial autonomy in the processing of uranium in a move pursued by the military to secure the country's pre-eminent status in military and political fields. Brazil completed enrichment on a small non-commercial scale many years ago but faced U.S. intervention in its long-standing nuclear program at every step of the way until the military leaders enlisted Germany as one of the key suppliers. Although U.S. pressure on Germany curtailed some of the technology transfers, Brazil under successive military and civilian administrations pushed forward with a nuclear program that began in the 1930s. (my insert: date can't be right) A secret weapons development program, started by the military in the early stages but shelved from time to time by successive regimes, remains shrouded in mystery. Brazil has frequently battled with the International Atomic Energy in Vienna to resist inspection of facilities designated as sensitive by the military. News that autonomy on an industrial scale was at hand was broken by military sources quoted in the Brazilian media. The sources said Brazil will be able to control the whole industrial cycle of uranium processing from extraction to conversion to fuel by the end of 2010.’
Vermont Yankee Nuke Plant Shuts Down Suddenly
‘MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant went into automatic shut down Wednesday while it was starting back up after a month of routine maintenance and refueling. Plant spokesman Larry Smith said it wasn't known for certain what caused the shutdown at about 3:35 p.m., but it may have been triggered by a problem in an electrical switchyard just outside the plant. Smith said no radiation was released, and the reactor will be powered back up after the problem is identified and corrected. He said he did not know how long that would take. "Plant systems responded safely as designed," Smith said in an e-mail. "Plant technicians are investigating the cause of the shutdown." Vermont Yankee had been off line for a refueling outage since April 24. Such outages occur about every 18 months, when the reactor undergoes routine maintenance and has about a third of its nuclear fuel replaced. The plant was going back on line after the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied a request from U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes of New Hampshire to order the plant closed until water and soil contaminated during a radioactive leak at the reactor is removed. The plant is in Vernon in southeast Vermont.’
GDF Suez eyes Italy's nuclear relaunch
‘LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) - GDF Suez is keen to take part in the Italian nuclear power rebirth but only with at least two other partners, the utility's chief executive said on Wednesday. Italy's centre-right government wants 25 percent of Italy's electricity to come from nuclear power, and France, the world's second largest producer of atomic energy, has eyed the potentially lucrative market closely. 'We are interested in principle, but we are not in a hurry, to assess the interest of the nuclear power generation in Italy,' Gerard Mestrallet said at the Reuters Global Energy Summit 'The only thing I can say is that if we decided to do that, we would go with Italian partners and European partners. We'll never go alone,' he added. GDF Suez has a 15 percent nuclear power share in its global energy mix and aims to maintain the same share in the next decade despite the fact that the firm has no nuclear power assets in the 19,000 megawatts in power generation capacity it is currently building. Italy will use Areva's latest EPR technology, a reactor designed to resist powerful shocks including plane crashes, for the first four reactors to be built.'