Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NRG Energy of Texas To Build New Nuclear Plant

NRG Energy has submitted the first complete application for a new nuclear power plant in 30 years. They want to build two units near Bay City, Texas. Each unit would be about 1,000 megawatts, or enough electricity for about 2 million homes. NRG wants the unit online by 2015. Each unit will cost about $3 billion.

Constellation has submitted an partial application (environmental report) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to begin the process for getting approval to build two units adjacent to the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant. AAEA provided comments for that NRC meeting. (AP)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Marion Barry in China

Former Washington, DC mayor and current council member Marion Barry is in Nantong, China serving as the keynote speaker at the China Association of Mayors (CAM) conference. Mr. Barry is in China for five days. The CAM promotes the development of Chinese cities by sponsoring studies and networking among its membership, which is made up of mayors and vice mayors in China. When Mr. Barry was mayor he signed a sister city agreement between the Washington, DC and Beijing, which led to the construction of a friendship arch in Chinatown.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Convert Carbon Dioxide To Gasoline

The Center is promoting a process that would convert carbon dioxide into diesel fuel and gasoline, while producing hydrogen for fuel cell production.
We marry nuclear plants to coal plants that use pure oxygen combustion in the firebox to reduce the volume of stack gases. A scrubber would still be needed for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury (Selective Catalytic Reducer). The nuclear plant (Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, Gen IV) is used to produce hydrogen via electrolysis (or high temperature electrolysis) or the sulfur-iodine cycle that will be piped away to produce fuel cells. The oxygen from the electrolysis process will be piped to the coal plant for use in the firebox. The hydrogen will also be mixed onsite with carbon dioxide from the coal plant stack in a water to gas shift to produce carbon monoxide, which will then be mixed with hydrogen using the gas to water shift in the Fischer-Tropsch process to produce a synthetic petroleum product (diesel fuel or gasoline). These processes need very high temperatures of about 900 degrees Celsius.

So carbon dioxide will be used from the coal plant to make a vehicle fuel while an adjacent nuclear plant will produce hydrogen for fuel cell production and oxygen for the coal plant firebox. The oxygen from the electrolysis will be used in the coal firebox to reduce the volume of emission gases by 80 percent, which represents nitrogen in the air. Excess carbon dioxide and CO2 from maintenance down times will be piped for sequestration. There will be little to no CO2 emitted from the coal plant because the gas will be used to make vehicle fuel. There will be CO2 released from vehicle use but these emissions would occur anyway from vehicle use.

We are still studying the energy penalties for these processes and the economics. If you have any input we would appreciate it. In the Fischer-Tropsch model pictured above the coal would be replaced with carbon dioxide. (Sources: Ken Schultz)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Judge Keeps Water From Yucca Mountain

U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt upheld Nevada's right to enforce its water laws and ruled that Nevada can shut off water that the U.S. Department of Energy says it needs for drilling at the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The federal government can't ignore state limitations and continue using water for drilling test bore holes near the repository site. The order states that DOE "...has failed to demonstrate the necessity of its voracious water demands." The federal government kept increasing the scope of the drilling and its water needs - from about 15 bore holes to 80 and from 300,000 gallons of water to 3.5 million gallons. Judge Hunt did not decide the merits of the case, filed in August 2002. He denied the federal request for a preliminary injunction that would hindered the state from restricting water to the arid site.

The state will seek a contempt of court order if drilling does not stop. The judge rejected federal claims that scientists needed to test areas around the Yucca site to "meet congressional mandates" and demonstrate the suitability of the site for entombing 77,000 tons of radioactive waste now being stored at nuclear reactors in 39 states. The Energy Department once hoped to open the repository by 2010. But the projected opening date has been pushed back at least to 2017 by legal challenges, budget issues, political opposition and scientific controversies. Center President Norris McDonald is pictured at Yucca Mountain at the exit hole. (Associated Press)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Money Needed To Build New Nuclear Plant in Maryland

Constellation says it would cost $4.5 billion to build a new nuclear plant adjacent to the two current reactors at Calvert Cliffs. Loan guarantees would still be needed to assure a build order. We're talking about loan guarantees even beyond those included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. There is protection in that law, which protects the first six builders if a project is delayed due to no fault of the developer ($500 million for the first two and $250 million for the next four). Additional loan guarantees are being sought in the pending energy bill.

Calvert County's Board of County Commissioners is offering Constellation 15 years of tax breaks worth $300 million to help build the new reactor. Of course, county tax revenues from the plant would easily pay back these breaks in a few years, then the county revenues would be freee and clear. Nuclear industry proponents and the Bush administration want to expand the energy loan guarantee program that includes solar, biomass, nuclear and other energy projects, to $9 billion with $4 billion of that going to nuclear and clean coal. Expanding the loan guarantees for innovative technologies needs legislation because loan guarantees are limited by the Federal Credit Reform Act. A Senate bill would remove the limits while a House version excludes nuclear projects. Currently about 17 companies have plans to build 31 reactors and at $2 billion each is $62 billion in fiancing. (Wash Post)