Nuclear Energy

POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for June 21, 2016

Natural gas prices on the rise; Sweden removes tax on its nuclear industry


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • Natural gas prices have risen in response to the upcoming summer season’s temperature forecasts. The Wall Street Journal states that prices have increased by 40 percent since the end of May. Summer officially started on Monday, June 20.
  • To ensure that Sweden continues to receive reliable carbon-free power throughout the year, the country has decided to discontinue a tax on the nuclear industry and will allow existing reactors to continue running for a longer period. The country’s utilities are now also tentatively allowed to build up to 10 new reactors to replace the reactors scheduled to retire. The government is debating if it can power the country with wind, hydro and solar alone in order to meet its 2040 goals and daily needs; nuclear energy currently provides 40 percent of the country’s electricity.
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for June 20, 2016

DOE to double nuclear power capacity; NASA building airplane that runs on electricity


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • The DOE has released a plan (in draft form) to double the country’s nuclear power capacity with small modular reactors and advanced reactors that do not rely on water for cooling. The plan is titled “Draft Vision and Strategy for the Development and Deployment of Advanced Reactors” and calls for the first two advanced reactor concepts to be licensed and ready for construction by 2030. The DOE is funding the development of advanced reactor concepts and announced a grant of $82 million last week in support of the industry.
  • NASA is building an experimental airplane that runs on electric power, the X-57. The X-57 could hit cruising speeds of 175 mph and would have wings embedded with 14 motors. NASA’s goal is to make aviation more efficient and cleaner. Charles F. Bolden Jr., a NASA administrator, said “The X-57 will take the first giant step in opening a new era of aviation.”
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for June 15, 2016

Electricity sales across all sectors projected to increase; DOE announces $82 million for nuclear energy research


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • According to the EIA’s 2016 Annual Energy Outlook, electricity sales across all sectors are expected to increase through 2040. In 2015, a total of 3.7 kWh of electricity was sold with this number expected to grow by 0.7 percent annually. Electricity sales to the residential sector is expected to rise by 0.3 percent per year, sales to commercial customers are projected to increase by 0.8 percent annually and the industrial sector is projected to grow by 1.1 percent per year.
  • Ernest Moniz, U.S. energy secretary, announced $82 million for nuclear energy research as part of the government’s plan to reduce carbon emissions. These funds will be directed to 93 research projects across 28 states. Moniz states “Nuclear energy remains very important. It remains by far the biggest source of carbon-free electricity.”
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for May 17, 2016

Preparing for a threat to the nation's power grid; DOE summit to preserve the country's nuclear reactors; Report shows a dramatic shift in Texas' energy mix


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • To counter the threat of attacks to the nation’s power grid, the power industry and U.S. government are considering implementing intentional blackouts across the country. Other measures in consideration include stockpiling rare transmission equipment, utilizing the latest cyberdefenses and coordinating responses between sectors. Marcus Sachs, NERC’s senior vice president and chief security officer, says “Industry continues to take the prospect of a cyber or physical attack on the bulk power system seriously.”
  • The DOE is sponsoring a summit on May 19 aimed at preserving the country’s nuclear reactors. Key industry representatives and legislators will meet to discuss the issues facing at-risk nuclear power plants and the potential consequences that could result from early plant retirements. NEI Senior Director of Business Policy, Matt Crozat, says, “Preserving existing nuclear power plants is imperative to any credible plan to reduce carbon emissions and necessary to preserve jobs in their host communities.”
  • According to a report by the Brattle Group, Texans could soon utilize natural gas, wind and solar energy for their power and shift away from power sourced from coal. The study provides an analysis of what the state’s energy mix could be if natural gas prices remain relatively low and the cost of solar energy continues to decline. In this scenario, the 2035 ERCOT grid would consist of 65 percent natural gas (up from 48 percent 2015), 12 percent wind energy (12 percent in 2015), 9 percent nuclear energy (down from 11 percent in 2015), 7 percent solar energy (~1 percent in 2015) and 6 percent coal (down from 28 percent in 2015). “I think we can learn some things from a study like this,” said Michael Nasi, general counsel for the group Balanced Energy For Texas, which includes several coal interests. “Please believe in the market because this study seems to tell you that you should not fear the market.”
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for May 13, 2016

U.S. Energy Secretary wants Texas to move forward with the Clean Power Plan; Senate passed $37.5 billion Energy bill; Carbon emissions from electricity generation hit new record


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • During his recent visit to Austin, U.S. Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, suggested that Texas could play a large role in addressing climate change and reducing the country’s carbon dioxide footprint by moving forward with the federal Clean Power Plan. With the state’s experience across a wide variety of energy and power sectors, he said the state has the experience and know-how to affect change across the nation. Moniz states, “Texas is part of a much bigger national and international phenomenon of rapidly growing a clean energy technology marketplace.”
  • On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a $37.5 billion Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for 2017. This bill, which was approved 90-8, will make a substantial investment in nuclear energy. For example, the bill allocates $35 million to the DOE to enable the second license renewal of the existing reactors that provide the electric grid with 24/7, zero-carbon power generation.
  • In 2015, carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation hit the lowest total on record since 1993. This reduction in emissions came even as demand for electricity remained flat over the past 10 years. The EIA reports that a change to the electricity generation mix helped to fuel this reduction.

Power Breakfast for May 5, 2016

U.S. solar reached major milestone; Massachusetts offshore wind bill in review; China to build 20 floating nuclear power stations


A nearly daily update of energy related news:

  • This week, the U.S. hit a solar milestone and celebrated installing 1 million solar installations across the country. While it took 40 years to reach this number, it is expected to only take two years to install the next 1 million. Additionally, the current total solar capacity of 27 GW is expected to triple in the next four years.
  • In Massachusetts, legislators are reviewing an offshore wind bill that would place a mandate on the state to purchase 2,000 MW of offshore wind over the next 10 years. If passed, the law could produce a $10 billion regional investment in offshore wind. Details indicating how much power the state’s utilities would have to buy have not yet been disclosed.
  • China will build up to 20 nuclear power stations that will float in the South China. These stations will provide power to desalinization plants and offshore projects like oilfield exploration rigs.

Luminant Names New Chief Nuclear Officer for Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant


Ken Peters, chief nuclear officer for Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant

Ken Peters, chief nuclear officer for Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant.

Luminant today named Ken Peters as chief nuclear officer for Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, effective April 1. In announcing Peters’ appointment, Luminant Chief Executive Officer Mac McFarland said, “Ken is a tremendous leader. His dedication to safety, along with his broad experience and knowledge in the nuclear generation industry, has been vital to Comanche Peak being one of the top performing plants in the nation. I know he’s prepared to continue pursuing excellence in Comanche Peak’s safety, operations and reliability.”

Peters has been serving as acting CNO at Comanche Peak since December and joined Luminant in 2012 as site vice president at the plant.

In assuming his new role as CNO, Peters said, “I’m honored to be part of and lead such a great group of nuclear energy professionals here at Comanche Peak. Our mission is to operate it as a safe, efficient, reliable, cost-effective, competitive nuclear power plant.”

Peters has more than 30 years’ experience in nuclear energy generation. Prior to joining Luminant, he held various managerial roles at other nuclear power stations around the country, including plant manager and vice president, engineering and projects. A New Jersey Institute of Technology graduate, Peters also received master’s degrees from Virginia Tech and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Comanche Peak is a two-unit, nuclear-fueled power plant in Somervell County, Texas, southwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Each unit has a capacity of 1,150 megawatts. Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1990 and unit 2 in 1993. As one of the performance leaders among the nation’s nuclear power plants, Comanche Peak provides dependable power in the ERCOT competitive market operating at a capacity factor of 99 percent in 2015.

POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for Mar. 18, 2016

U.K. to invest $1.1 billion in clean-energy technologies; Venezuela to shut down due to electricity shortage


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily update of energy-related news:

  • The U.K. government will invest $1.1 billion in clean-energy technologies. These technologies include offshore wind farms, energy storage devices to help stabilize the national energy grid and some of the world’s first small-scale nuclear reactors.
  • Due to an electricity shortage in Venezuela, the country will shut down for an entire week. On Wednesday, President Nicolás Maduro announced that in order to conserve power, all workers will take an extended five-day Easter holiday. A lack of rainfall this winter is partly to blame for the electricity shortage as nearly 65 percent of the country’s electricity comes from hydropower.