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The Nuclear Retreat

We coined the term, "Nuclear Retreat" here at Beyond Nuclear to counter the nuclear industry's preposterous "nuclear renaissance" propaganda campaign. You've probably seen "Nuclear Retreat" picked up elsewhere and no wonder - the alleged nuclear revival so far looks more like a lot of running away. On this page we will keep tabs on every latest nuclear retreat as more and more proposed new nuclear programs are canceled.

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Wednesday
Apr302014

"Exelon CEO: 'We are not asking the state for a bailout'"

David Kraft, Director, Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of ILThe Chicago Tribune reports that Exelon CEO Chris Crane denies the largest nuclear utility in the U.S. is seeking a bailout from the State of Illinois in order to stabilize its flagging fleet of atomic reactors:

'Crane told the Tribune Wednesday that a legislative fix is not in the offing.

“We are not – are not – asking the state for a bailout,” he said. “We are looking at different ways to contract/ sell energy from those plants into other markets, into other buyers, but there is not a state bailout.”

Crane said the company does not support subsidies for wind and does not support a 500-mile high voltage transmission line project pending approval at the Illinois Commerce Commission that would bring more wind into the state from Iowa.

“We are not considering a legislative fix to subsidize the nuclear plants in the state,” Crane said in an interview. ‘That is not anything we are working on.”'

On Nov. 6, 2013, E&E's reporter at Greenwire reported on Exelon's hypocricy in an article entitled "Nuclear giant taps wind tax credit that it's trying to kill."

As watchdog Dave Kraft (photo, above left), Director of Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) in IL, points out, Exelon's denial of seeking a state bailout comes on the very same day it announced the takeover of Washington, D.C. area electrical utility PEPCO: "This may be the case -- for now. Who would need a bailout when all one has to do is 'buy' a marketful of unwilling sheeple, who would legally be available for fleecing?  And if the merger is not approved (as the Washington DC PUC will have something to say about this, and hasn't been favorable granting this type of merger in the past to even smaller nuclear-reliant utilities), Crane can always come back to Springfield at a later date to try again."

Dave published an analysis on March 3, 2014, "Exelon Nuclear -- Holding Illinois Hostage Yet Again?", as well as a related April 27th fact sheet, NO RATEPAYER BAILOUTS FOR EXELON’S “NUCLEAR HOSTAGE CRISIS."

Monday
Apr282014

"U.S. expects about 10 pct of nuclear capacity to shut by 2020"

NRC file photo of Vermont Yankee. In August 2013, Entergy Nuclear announced that it would permanently close this Fukushima Daiichi twin design (a GE BWR Mark I) by the end of 2014 -- the culmination of a successful 40-year long anti-nuclear campaign in the Green Mountain State.Reuters reports:

"Lower natural gas prices and stagnant growth in electric demand will lead to the loss of 10,800 megawatts of U.S. nuclear generation, or around 10 percent of total capacity, by the end of the decade, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a report issued on Monday.

About 6,000 MW of nuclear capacity will shut by 2020 in addition to six reactors totaling 4,800 MW that have already shut or plan to shut in that time period, the EIA said in its 2014 annual electric output study.

"Retirements often are the result of unique circumstances, but some owners of nuclear power plants have voiced concerns about the profitability of their units," the EIA said in its report.

Lower natural gas prices that have pared wholesale power prices will hurt profitability for nuclear units and some high-cost reactors will shut as economic challenges mount, the EIA said.

"When faced with declining profitability, plant owners may choose to retire their units rather than make additional investments to keep them operating," the report said.

"Those projected retirements are represented by derating of existing capacity for plants in vulnerable regions, not by retiring specific plants," EIA added.

Rising natural gas prices after 2020 may support continued operation of U.S. nuclear plants for several years, but many reactors will reach the end of their 60-year operating license beginning in 2029 and shut permanently.

The EIA outlook changed after four reactors shut in 2013 - Edison International's San Onofre 2 and 3, Dominion Resources' Kewaunee and Duke Energy's Crystal River. A fifth reactor - Entergy Corp's Vermont Yankee - is also set to retire by the end of 2014.

A sixth reactor, Exelon's Oyster Creek, is scheduled to shut in 2019.

In its 2013 report, the EIA projected only 7,700 MW, or about 7 percent, of nuclear capacity would retire by 2040. The report did not mention the number of units that are likely shut after operating for 60 years after 2029.

(Reporting by Eileen O'Grady in Houston; editing by Andrew Hay)'

In addition to the U.S. reactor closures reported by Reuters, the Gentilly-2 atomic reactor in Quebec, Canada was also closed for good in Dec. 2012.

Friday
Apr042014

Proposed new reactor at Nine Mile Point in Upstate New York officially cancelled!

NRC file photo of Nine Mile PointNRC file photo of FitzPatrickAs documented in the Federal Register, the French Areva EPR ("Evolutionary Power Reactor") targeted at the Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant site in Upstate New York, on the Lake Ontario shore, has been officially cancelled.

The location is already heavily burdened by the presence of Nine Mile Point Units 1 & 2, as well as the FitzPatrick atomic reactor. Nine Mile Point Unit 1 and FitzPatrick are General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors, identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4. Nine Mile Point Unit 2 is a Mark II, very similar in design to Fukushima Daiichi. Lake Ontario serves as the drinking water supply for many millions of people in New York, Ontario (including Canada's largest city, Toronto), and a large number of Native American/First Nations.

Friday
Mar282014

RMI: "Nuclear Power's Competitive Landscape and Climate Opportunity Cost"

Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, RMITitiaan Palazzi, Special Aid, RMIAmory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, and Titiaan Palazzi, Special Aid (photos, left), of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, CO, presented "Nuclear Power's Competitive Landscape and Climate Opportunity Cost" at "Three Mile Island 35th Anniversary Symposium: The Past, Present, and Future of Nuclear Energy" held at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, on 28 March 2014.

Lovins and Palazzi report that, when compared to nuclear power: (1) Efficiency and renewables are far cheaper; (2) Renewables can deliver similar or better service and reliability; (3) Renewables can scale faster;  and (4) For climate protection, efficiency and renewables are far more effective solutions than new nuclear build, which indeed is counterproductive.

Lovins and Palazzi's economic critique extends not only to proposed new atomic reactors, but even to existing, age-degraded reactors. They state "Reactors are promoted as costly to build but cheap to run. Yet as Daniel Allegretti ably described, many existing, long-paid-for U.S. reactors are now starting to be shut down because just their operating cost can no longer compete with wholesale power prices, typically depressed by gas-fired plants or windpower."

Lovins and Palazzi conclude that "efficiency is clearly cheaper than average nuclear operating costs, which exceed 4¢/kWh [4 cents per kilowatt-hour] at the busbar and 8¢ delivered. Thus overall, for saving coal plants’ carbon emissions, efficiency is about 10–50x more cost-effective than new nuclear build—or about 2–12x more cost-effective than just operating the average U.S. nuclear plant."

Regarding nuclear power's retreat, Lovins and Palazzi report:

"Nuclear power also has to run ever faster to stay in the same place as its 1970s and 1980s growth turns into a bulge  of retirements. After the next few years, retirements will exceed all planned or conceivable global nuclear additions, even with all license extensions as shown here. Power reactors’ terminal decline will be over by about 2060—and in view of both competition and aging, this projection by Mycle Schneider [Mycle Schneider et al., World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013] is more likely to overstate its longevity than its brevity."
They conclude their presentation by stating "Existing nuclear plants, a future idea whose time has passed, will simply retire; the only choice is how quickly and at what cost to whom. End of story."
Monday
Mar032014

"Exelon Nuclear -- Holding Illinois Hostage Yet Again?"

Dave Kraft, Director, Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of ILDavid Kraft, Director of Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of IL, has published an analysis, "Exelon Nuclear -- Holding Illinois Hostage Yet Again?".

The Chicago business press has recently reported that Exelon has threatened to permanently close as many as five of its atomic reactors, unless the State of IL provides bailouts to keep them afloat. Specifically, those reactors are: two at Byron, two at Quad Cities, and one at Clinton.

Quad Cities Units 1 & 2 are Fukushima Daiichi twins -- GE BWR Mark Is.

NRC rubberstamped their 20-year license extensions years ago. As Dave's analysis mentions, Byron 1 & 2 have now applied for 20-year extensions as well. Despite the license extensions, the future of these reactors' operations is now quite dubious.

Dominion's Kewaunee atomic reactor in WI permanently shutdown a year ago, despite having already received a 20-year license extension rubberstamp from NRC.