Published on March 5, 2014
Nuclear Renaissance: Fact or Fiction Thomas Simmons Thomas Edison State College
Why we chose this topic
Our Approach • • • • Sort through the hype Determine drivers and constraints Research Find the balance
My Topics • • • • • • Abstract Introduction Industrial Bottlenecks Energy Security Climate Change Politics
Industrial Bottlenecks • • • • • Last major expansion occurred in the 80s 150 reactors under construction in that era Diminished capacity since then Milestone for future projections What can we build now? – 35 to 60 1,000 MW reactors per year
Industrial Bottlenecks • Problems with this projection – Most of the construction occurred in only three countries – Some plants are “under construction” for years
Industrial Bottlenecks • Despite the skewed numbers, historical growth rates could be matched • But it would require more than simply building new plants
Industrial Bottlenecks • Heavy forgings = most significant bottleneck • Only 3 suppliers in the world • Why not build more? – Hugely expensive so investors won’t move forward without firm orders in place
Industrial Bottlenecks • Effect of bottlenecks will vary by country depending on the type of economy • No single company can build a nuclear power plant collaboration is required for expansion • As a whole, industrial bottlenecks act as a constraint
Energy Security • What is energy security? • Not self-sufficiency • Rather it is diversity of production method and reliability of source
Energy Security • How does nuclear provide energy security? – Uranium is relatively cheap – It’s easy to stockpile – It’s abundant • A very reliable source
Energy Security • More uranium would be required to support a renaissance • Secondary sources of uranium: – Phosphate deposits – Seawater • These only become viable if the price of uranium rises
Energy Security • Thorium as a reactor fuel? – More abundant than uranium – Not fissionable in its natural state • Verdict: – Not in the near future
Energy Security • Mixed Oxide Fuel – another alternative • Currently employed in France • Drawbacks: – Requires reprocessing capability – Difficult and dangerous to fabricate – Expensive – Minimal overall waste reduction – Proliferation risks
Energy Security • Drawbacks of nuclear as a means to achieve energy security: – Unsuitable for varying electricity demand – High fixed costs vs. variable costs – Must be run at full capacity – Only suitable for baseload electrical power – Cannot provide energy to the transportation sector
Energy Security • Most significant drawback: Entire industry is supplied by a handful of countries and companies • Only 2 power plant vendors left • Nuclear power = dependence
Energy Security • • • • Nuclear power increases diversity Excellent source of baseload electricity Uranium is a dependable fuel supply Cannot provide independence
Energy Security • Energy security means different things to different countries • Energy policies will vary widely • Will this be a constraint or driver for a renaissance? – Depends on the country
Climate Change • Is climate change a driver? – Depends on how the world reacts to the perceived threat – And how nuclear compares to the alternatives
Climate Change • Why is nuclear so appealing as a means to combat climate change? – It provides large amounts of energy while producing no carbon dioxide
Climate Change • Other options for reducing carbon emissions: – Solar, wind, conservation and efficiency measures • Nuclear has long lead times and huge upfront costs • Not the most cost-effective way to combat climate change
Climate Change • Driver or constraint? • Gives people a reason to consider nuclear driver • Nuclear doesn’t compare well with the alternatives constraint • Overall impact neutral
Politics • Politics influence energy policy • A nuclear energy program represents national power • This may override other concerns
Politics • “Nuclear hedging” – another motivation • May prompt some countries to pursue nuclear energy
Politics • The idea of a renaissance has been strongly promoted by the United States • Nuclear Power 2010 Program – provided subsidies for new generation plants • Global Nuclear Energy Partnership – promotes the use of nuclear power throughout the world
Politics • France aggressively promotes nuclear power – Home to Areva & EDF • Russia hopes to follow the French example
Politics • Other advocates of nuclear power: – International Atomic Energy Agency – Nuclear Energy Agency – World Nuclear Association
Politics • Public support on the rise • International : – 2009 poll of 10,000 people in 20 countries found more than 2/3 in favor • United States: – 2008 poll found 67% in favor
Politics • Public opinion is nuanced and support is not overwhelming • A “landscape of beliefs” exists – not simply pro- or anti-nuclear stances • Support is conditional – could easily be lost • Support fell after Fukushima • Advocacy by government/industry can skew public opinion
Politics • Many claim public support is a key driver for a nuclear renaissance • Yet it has significant weaknesses: – It’s conditional – It’s fragile – Swayed by pro- and anti-nuclear agents • Public opinion is not a true driver
Conclusion • Industrial Bottlenecks Constraint • Energy Security & Climate Change may be Neutral • Politics not a strong Driver • Nuclear renaissance is unlikely
References • Accenture Newsroom. (2009, March). Consumers Warm to Nuclear Power in Fight Against Fossil Fuel Dependency. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://newsroom.accenture.com/article_display.cfm?articl e_id=4810 • Alger, J. (2009, September). From Nuclear To The Bomb: The Proliferation Potential Of New Nuclear Energy Programs. (Nuclear Energy Futures Paper No.6). Ontario, Canada: Centre for International Governance Innovation.
References • Commonwealth of Australia. (2006). Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy – Opportunities for Australia. Retrieved February 1, 2014, from http://www.ansto.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0005/3897 5/Umpner_report_2006.pdf • Frogatt, A. & Schneider, M. (2008). The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2007. Brussels, Belgium: European Parliament. • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2007). Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessmentreport/ar4/syr/ar4_syr.pdf
References • International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.orgwikiInternational_Framework_for_ Nuclear_Energy_Cooperation • Keystone Center. (2007, June). Nuclear Power Joint Fact-Finding. Keystone, Colorado: Keystone Center. • Loukianova, A. (2008, November). The International Uranium Enrichment Centre at Argansk: A Step Towards Assured Fuel Supply. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/uranium-enrichmentangarsk/
References • Lovins, A. & Sheikh, I. (2008). The Nuclear Illusion. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-Center/Library/E0801_NuclearIllusion. • MacKay, D. (2009). Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air. Cambridge, United Kingdom: UIT. • MacLachlan, A. (2008, April). Newcomers to Nuclear Power Urged to Join Nuclear Safety Convention. Nucleonics Week, April 17. • Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2003). Future of Nuclear Power. Boston: MIT.
References • Nuclear Energy Agency. (2008, November). Nuclear Energy Outlook 2008. (NEA No. 6436). Paris, France: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. • Nuclear Power 2010 Program. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Power_2010_Progra m • Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. (2013). Annual Statistical Bulletin 2013. Vienna, Austria: Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
References • Pew Research Center. (2011, March). Opposition to Nuclear Power Rises Amid Japanese Crisis. Retrieved January 31, 2014, from http://www.peoplepress.org/2011/03/21/opposition-to-nuclear-power-risesamid-japanese-crisis/ • Pidgeon, N., Henwood, K., & Simmons, P. (2008). Living with Nuclear Power in Britain: A Mixed-Methods Study. Retrieved January 31, 2014, from Cardiff University School of Psychology Web site: http://psych.cf.ac.uk/understandingrisk/docs/livingwithnu clearpower.pdf
References • Pomper, M. A. (2009, December). US International Nuclear Energy Policy: Change and Continuity. (Nuclear Energy Futures Paper No. 10). Ontario, Canada. Centre for International Governance Innovation. • Position of the ASN Commission: “The safety of new nuclear reactor construction projects worldwide has to be ensured”. (2008, June). Retrieved January 29, 2014, from http://www.french-nuclearsafety.fr/index.php/English-version/Newsreleases/2008/Position-of-the-ASN-Commission-Thesafety-of-new-nuclear-reactor
References • Pouret, L. & Nuttall, W. (n.d.). Can Nuclear Power Be Flexible?. United Kingdom: University of Cambridge, Judge Business School. • Research Council of Norway. (2008, February). Thorium as an Energy Source – Opportunities for Norway. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from http://www.forskningsradet.no/servlet/Satellite?blobcol=u rldata &blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobheadername1= Content-Disposition%3A&blobheadervalue1=+ attachment%3B+filename%3D%22ThoriumReport2008. pdf%22&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere =1274460381214&ssbinary=true
References • United States Energy Information Administration. (n.d.) Annual Energy Outlook 2014. Retrieved February 1, 2014, from http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/pdf/0383er(2014).pdf • Von Hippel, F. (2008). “Nuclear Fuel Recycling: More Trouble Than It’s Worth”. Scientific American, 298, 90. • World Nuclear Association. (2013, August). Heavy Manufacturing of Power Plants. Retrieved January 31, 2014, from http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/NuclearFuel-Cycle/Power-Reactors/Heavy-Manufacturing-ofPower-Plants/
References • World Nuclear Association. (2013, September). Processing of Used Nuclear Fuel. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/NuclearFuel-Cycle/Fuel-Recycling/Processing-of-Used-NuclearFuel/ • World Nuclear Association. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Nuclear_ Association • World Nuclear News. (2008, June). Poll: Two-thirds of Americans back new nuclear. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/ITTwo-
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