Posts Tagged WNA

Bangladesh Map GreenwichMeantime

Newcomers like Bangladesh will help drive a nuclear revival, says GlobalData.

Is the nuclear renaissance back on?

A new report from London-based business intelligence firm GlobalData would suggest it is, triggered in large measure by a demand for power from emerging markets and from some 45 countries that have yet to deploy it.

“Global nuclear energy generation will climb by almost 30% by the end of the decade, thanks in part to an influx of new nations developing nuclear programs,” GlobalData says in a press release.

It forecasts that 198 new reactors will begin commercial operations by 2020, by which time worldwide nuclear generation will jump to 3.1 million GWh, up from 2.4 million GWh in 2012.

“At present there are around 45 nuclear-free countries looking at adding the controversial power source to their energy portfolio, including the UAE, Turkey, Poland and Bangladesh,” GlobalData notes.

China, India and South Korea will lead the surge, as nuclear generation in the Asia Pacific region will jump from 324,000 GWh last year to 852,000 GWh by 2020, GlobalData says.

ASIAN ACTIVITY

In China alone,the World Nuclear Association (WNA) has identified 79 nuclear reactors either under construction or planned, and another 86 proposed, for a total of about 165 reactors. WNA’s World Nuclear Fuel Cycle 2013 conference in Singapore next month will include presentations from Asian countries not generally known as nuclear energy centers, such as Bangladesh and Vietnam.

Growth in those nations contrasts sharply with some Western countries like Germany, which decided to abandon nuclear power after the meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactors following the tragic tsunami and earthquake two years ago.

RENAISSANCE RESUMED

A 30 percent expansion indicates that the nuclear renaissance which was building prior to Fukushima is returning.

The reasons for a nuclear revival are just as compelling now as they were pre-Fukushima: Nuclear provides a low carbon energy to help combat climate change, is not subject to price volatility the way fossil fuels are, and offers a steady supply of baseload power, unlike intermittent renewables like wind and solar.

Such mounting interest should help underpin research, development and ultimately, deployment of alternative forms of nuclear power that can improve on the safety, efficiency and waste of conventional reactors. These would include thorium fuel, as well as reactors built on molten salt, pebble bed, “fast” and fusion designs, among others.

Map from greenwichmeantime.com

Choice cuts: thorium not on the menu at NIA conference

Posted by Laurence O'Hagan on December 9th, 2012

Last week’s NIA Energy Choices conference clearly highlighted the fact that the old guard doesn’t see thorium as a ‘choice’ in preference to uranium – and the status quo  – despite the WNA’s recognition of the benefits of thorium, the organisation used the platform to support the vested interests.

Some more insightful speakers, such as CANDU, the NNL and others thankfully take the longer view.

See Mark Halper’s blog on the day’s proceedings: http://bit.ly/SNqO3O

The missing ingredients in nuclear’s rebranding

Posted by Mark Halper on December 7th, 2012

It would be a new Springfield if Homer worked at a thorium reactor.

LONDON – The World Nuclear Association is making a laudable start at trying to “rebrand” nuclear. But as became apparent here yesterday, it’s missing a trick.

“In the aftermath of Fukushima, we have to take a lead in rebranding nuclear power,” WNA acting director general Steve Kidd said in an address at a conference organized by the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association (NIA).

The WNA is the global trade body for the conventional nuclear industry. It wants to assure that the public broadly perceives nuclear as an effective, safe source of carbon free energy. And as Kidd noted, following the meltdowns at the Fukushima plant after Japan’s tragic 20110 earthquake and tsunami, “That’s a pretty tall order.”

Indeed it is. Even though the nuclear industry has a stellar safety record, and even though – to consider the gravest of statistics – it has killed few people over the years compared to the deaths caused by fossil fuels, it still struggles around the world against impassioned nuclear opposition.

One way to help offset that would be to champion the safer and more efficient alternative nuclear designs that the industry rejected 40-some years ago, when it instead settled on inferior designs that rely on solid uranium fuel and water cooling.

OPTIONS

Alternatives such as liquid molten salt reactors, high temperature pebble bed reactors, fast reactors (which to be fair were the industry’s objective at one point) and others represent improvements in both safety and operating efficiency, especially in some cases where they run on thorium fuel instead of uranium.

The liquid thorium molten salt reactor that Alvin Weinberg designed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee in the 1960s serves as one stellar example.

Among its benefits: It runs safely at high temperatures; it could serve as an effective industrial heat source as well as an electricity generator; it leaves behind less dangerous waste than today’s reactors and its waste lasts only a fraction of the time; it does not require potentially dangerous pressurization; and in the unlikely event of a serious problem, a “freeze plug” melts away and allows fuel to drain harmlessly into tank – meltdown averted.

The design is undergoing a revival, with companies like Flibe Energy and Ottawa Valley Research working on related models, and with China intent on building them.

Likewise, other designs are poised for a comeback. Russia is accelerating its fast reactor program, and South Africa’s Steenkampskraal Thorium Ltd is advancing a pebble bed reactor.

IF IT AIN’T BROKE

So, wouldn’t it make sense for the WNA to embrace these ideas? To leverage them as something like a “not the same old nuclear”?

No, says Kidd.

“I’m very strongly against that idea,” Kidd replied when I inquired whether the WNA should be promoting safer alternatives.

“We cannot be seen to be suggesting that current operation of reactors is unsafe,” he said. “These reactors (conventional reactors) are licensed by the national regulators as being safe to operate and the public trusts in their national regulator…The point is, the reactors in operation around the world today are safe.”

The irony is that WNA is a group that’s highly knowledgeable about the potential advantages of the alternatives. Its impressive website is rich in information about them. As just one example, read what the WNA has to say about thorium.

But as the industry association controlled by the makers of large, conventional nuclear plants the WNA just isn’t ready to parlay that wealth of knowledge into a promotional push. The WNA, founded in 2001, is not far removed from its roots as the former Uranium Institute.

NOT JUST THE FACTS

It has been steadily attempting that, among other ways, by building a fact-rich website full of information on nuclear’s advantages, not the least of which is that it’s a carbon-free source of round-the-clock power.

Kidd said that facts alone will not be enough.

“We’ve really got to get into people’s psychology, into their emotions, because obviously the factual approach can only get you so far,” Kidd said, noting that the industry is fighting against people’s preconceived notions of safety and weapons threats.

“I think the best branding people, the best marketing people, in the world, can probably overcome that,” he said.

It would be easier if they started to work with words like “thorium.”

Image: Andrea Omizzolo via Flickr.

Is the nuclear fusion “joke” having the last laugh

Posted by Laurence O'Hagan on September 16th, 2012

A global collaboration between China, Russia, Japan, India, South Korea and the United States, is making notable headway in building a demonstration power plant.  ITER is “the world’s largest and most advanced experimental nuclear fusion reactor” in Cadarache, France, currently scheduled to start operation in 2030.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/sep/16/nuclear-fusion-iter-jet-forshaw

Indian, Russian and US companies will supply components and services for the experimental reactor.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Contracts_for_Iter_components_awarded-0410124.html

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