Excerpt from "Nuclear policy responses to Fukushima: Exit, voice, and loyalty. By M.V. Ramana, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. "Two years after the multiple accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, the future of nuclear power is no longer what it used to be. Independent analysts argue that the global nuclear industry is in decline and that the nuclear share of the worldÕs electricity production can only go down (Schneider and Froggatt, 2012). Even projections by agencies involved in promoting nuclear power, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reflect, however inadequately, the decline in nuclear powerÕs prospects. In 2010, for example, the IAEA projected that nuclear power would have a generating capacity of 546 to 803 gigawatts by 2030 (IAEA, 2010). Only two years later, the IAEAÕs lower projection had dropped by a whopping 90 gigawatts, to 456 gigawatts, and the upper projec- tion had come down by 63 gigawatts to 740 gigawatts (IAEA, 2012). " And check out the current Bulletin for a whole collection of articles on nuclear power.
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.
As reported by ScienceDaily in an article entitled "U.S. May Face Inevitable Nuclear Power Exit," the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) has concluded its three part "Nuclear Exit" series with a look at the United States. The previous two installments examined the nuclear power phase-out in Germany, and the nuclear power status quo in France.
The BAS U.S. coverage features former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Commissioner, Union of Concerned Scientists board member, and Vermont Law School professor Peter Bradford's "How to close the U.S. nuclear industry: Do nothing," which concludes that, without massive taxpayer or ratepayer infusions, almost all proposed new reactors will not happen, and currently operating reactors will permanently shutdown by mid-century, unless the NRC rubber-stamps 80 years of operations (as opposed to the current, already risky 60). More.
As reported by Reuters, Entergy Nuclear's new CEO and Chairman of the Board, Leo P. Denault (pictured left), has admitted "its merchant nuclear power plants are in 'challenging economic situations,'" and "'[n]ear-term power prices are challenging for some merchant nuclear generating units in certain competitive markets.'" The admission came during a fourth-quarter earnings call.
The article continues:
"He said some plants are in the more challenging economic situations for a variety of reasons, including 'the market for both energy and capacity, their size, their contracting positions and the investment required to maintain the safety and integrity of the plants.' (emphasis added)
He would not name the plants but said, 'There are years when certain plants' cash flows can be negative at today's forward price curve.'"
UBS has concluded that the financial pressures could force Entergy to close Vermont Yankee, FitzPatrick in New York, and even Pilgrim near Boston yet this year.
A Dominion spokesman admitted last October that the high cost of making needed safety repairs was a major factor in the nuclear utility's decision to close Kewaunee in Wisconsin by mid-2013. It was the first announced closure of an atomic reactor in the U.S. in 15 years.
As Reuters reports, yesterday's announcement by Duke that it has decided to permanently shutdown its crippled Crystal River atomic reactor with a severely cracked containment in Florida, and Dominion's decision last October to permanently shutdown its Kewaunee reactor on the shore of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin (despite a 20-year license extension rubberstamp by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission), may be but the first dominoes to fall.
The article quotes UBS energy analyst Julien Dumoulin-Smith, who concluded "It's getting tougher for nuclear to compete." The UBS short list for reactors on the brink of permanent shutdown includes "Entergy Corp's Vermont Yankee in Vermont and FitzPatrick in New York, Exelon Corp's Clinton in Illinois and Constellation Energy Nuclear Group LLC's Ginna in New York," according to the article.
The article ends by questioning if Southern California Edison's San Onofre 2 & 3 in San Clemente will ever restart, given their severe steam generator tube damage. Both units have now been shut down for over a year for safety reasons.
After three year outage and $1.3 billion, Duke Energy pulls plug on Florida’s cracked Crystal River 3
It started in October 2009 with the previous owner’s “do-it-yourself” steam generator replacement at Florida’s Gulf Coast Crystal River nuclear power plant, aka “CR3”. The job was intended to save Progress Energy $16 million. But while cutting the 25 ft. by 27 ft. hole through the thick concrete containment shield wall, the high-pressure water cutting operation sprang the embedded pre-tensioned steel rebar super-structure like a rat trap, sending cracks throughout the reactor’s ultimate “protective barrier”. Progress Energy had busted the 190 ft. high and 130 ft. wide impervious containment building---for good. Exactly how is not publicly known given the Florida Public Service Commission helped negotiate a settlement agreement in 2012 that let Progress Energy refund $288 million to ratepayers in exchange for ending a public investigation. Duke Energy was faced with an estimated $3 billion+ concrete patch job with a dubious outcome. So, after sticking ratepayers with $1.3 billion for the botched power upgrade that broke the nuke and a three year outage in replacement power costs, the new owner, Duke called it quits February 5, 2013. After insurance, Duke gets to pocket about $100 million.
CR3 is now a very expensive and large heap of radioactive junk. Duke has announced that they will put the permanently shuttered nuke into SAFESTOR, that is, defuel the reactor vessel of nuclear waste into wet and dry storage, “decontaminate” the interior reactor building and “mothball” the entire structure for up to 60 years into the future. This option effectively postpones the notoriously unreliable to estimate but costly “decommissioning” of the atomic reactor that can run up to as much as $1 billion. Duke is quoted to currently have $600 million in an external decommissioning fund. Ultimately, it’s another super-sized price tag for the radioactive “trans-contamination” of the environment; the radioactive hulk dismantled, razed, contaminated soil dug up and all hauled off and dumped on some other community deemed “nowhere” of concern. Moreover, there remain the hundreds of tons of CR3’s high-level nuclear waste, the irradiated nuclear fuel, which will be stored onsite for the time being with actually nowhere to go.