[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Hansen paper emphasizes importance of retention and expansion of nuclear power for health and climate reasons
April 04, 2013
|Mean number of deaths prevented annually by nuclear power, 1971-2009. Credit: ACS, Hansen et al. Click to enlarge.|
A new study by James Hansen and Pushker Kharecha from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute has found that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. The estimated human deaths caused by nuclear power from 1971 to 2009 were far lower than the avoided deaths: 4,900, or about 370 times lower than the result for avoided deaths.
Projecting ahead, on the basis of global projection data that takes into account the effects of the Fukushima accident, Hansen and Kharecha also calculated that nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420,000−7.04 million deaths and 80−240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by mid-century, depending on which fuel it replaces. Large-scale expansion of unconstrained natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and would cause far more deaths than expansion of nuclear power, according to their analysis, which is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
DOE to award up to $266M to small modular nuclear reactor project; targeting commercial operation around 2025
March 12, 2013
|DOE selected an SMR project with the B&W mPower reactor in 2012. The nuclear core and steam generators are integrated in a single vessel. Source: B&W. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a new funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0000800) for up to $266 million to help US industry design and certify innovative small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs)—defined for this FOA as reactor units with nominal output of 300 megawatts electric (MWe) or less that are able to be factory fabricated and transported to the site for assembly of components and operation. With a 50% cost-share, total funding for the selected project will be around $462 million.
DOE will solicit proposals for cost-shared SMR projects that have the potential to be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and achieve commercial operation around 2025, while offering innovative and effective solutions for enhanced safety, operations and performance. Selected projects will span a five-year period with at least 50% provided by private industry.
Muons and ADNA proposing using accelerator-driven subcritical reactor for heat for production of synthetic fuels and chemicals
December 28, 2012
|Functional elements of the GEM*STAR reactor. Source: Muons, Inc. Click to enlarge.|
Muons, Inc., a private-sector high-energy accelerator physics firm, and ADNA (Accelerator-Driven Neutron Applications) Corp., are proposing using spent nuclear fuel (SNF), natural uranium, or excess weapons-grade plutonium (W-Pu) in a proposed GEM*STAR accelerator-driven subcritical reactor (ADSR) to provide the process heat and steam for the Fischer-Tropsch production of synthetic diesel from natural gas and other carbonaceous feedstocks (e.g., biomass or coal).
An initial proposed plant using GEM*STAR’s with the Fischer-Tropsch process would produce 70 million gallons of diesel fuel per year at an estimated cost of production of less than $2.00 per gallon, according to the company, while also dealing with the issue of waste nuclear materials.
DOE selects Babcock & Wilcox for Small Modular Reactor program
November 21, 2012
|The B&W mPower reactor integrates the nuclear core and steam generators in a single vessel. Source: B&W. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected a project led by Babcock & Wilcox (B&W), in partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bechtel, to design, license and help commercialize small modular reactors (SMR) in the United States. B&W will receive funding that will support accelerated development of its B&W mPower SMR technology.
This award follows a competitive funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in March 2012. (Earlier post.) In addition, DOE announced plans to issue a follow-on solicitation open to other companies and manufacturers, focused on furthering small modular reactor efficiency, operations and design.
IEA WEO-2012 finds major shift in global energy balance but not onto a more sustainable path; identifies potential for transformative shift in global energy efficiency
November 12, 2012
The global energy map is changing significantly, according to the 2012 edition of the Internal Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook (WEO-2012). The IEA said these changes will recast expectations about the role of different countries, regions and fuels in the global energy system over the coming decades. The report also finds that by 2035 global energy savings could be equivalent to nearly 20% of global demand in 2010.
The WEO finds that the extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean a sea-change in global energy flows. In the New Policies Scenario, the WEO’s central scenario, the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. However, given the ongoing reliance on fossil fuels, the emissions in the New Policies Scenario correspond to a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6 °C.
BP Statistical Review finds global oil share down for 12th year in a row, coal share up to highest level since 1969; renewables at 2%
June 13, 2012
Global energy consumption grew by 2.5% in 2011, broadly in line with the historical average but well below the 5.1% seen in 2010, according to the newly released BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2012. Emerging economies accounted for all of the net growth, with OECD demand falling for the third time in the last four years, led by a sharp decline in Japan. China alone accounted for 71% of energy consumption growth.
The averages hide a mixed picture by fuel, however. Oil demand grew by less than 1%—the slowest rate amongst fossil fuels—while gas grew by 2.2%, and coal was the only fossil fuel with above average annual consumption growth at 5.4% globally, and 8.4% in the emerging economies.