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Summary: doubts about nuclear renaissance, even in nuclear industry.

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Dr. Mark Cooper

There are some uncomfortable feelings in the nuclear industry surfacing, regarding the pace and results sofar of the 'nuclear renaissance'. In the latest edition of the IAEA Bulletin (May 2009), Sharon Squassoni concludes: “A nuclear renaissance would require significant changes by both governments and multinational agencies as well as aggressive financial support.” And just read for example the first lines of this article in the June issue of Nuclear News, the monthly magazine of the American Nuclear Society.

''Longtime readers of Nuclear News may have watched with some bemusement over the past few years as the “Renaissance Watch” summation in the Power section has grown from a modest sidebar to a sprawling two-page spread. In this issue—and, the editors hope, only in this issue—the summation has been enlarged further to allow some issues to be addressed at greater length, along with the usual updates on specific projects. In what was supposed to be a streamlined, straightforward process for design approval and licensing, under 10 CFR Part 52, nearly every initiative has taken on unintended complexities. Industry leaders have long bemoaned “regulatory uncertainty” (in day-today operations as well as in license applications), but there are sources of uncertainty in virtually every aspect of the new-reactors endeavor.

In the past few months in particular, the actions of state governments have had great influence on new reactor projects. In the abstract, there seems to be a trend in favor of nuclear power, but in practical terms, efforts to remove reactor bans or encourage nuclear development in places such as Kentucky and West Virginia, where there are no current plans by electricity providers to build reactors, are less significant than rate recovery proposals. Georgia has approved rate recovery, so Vogtle-3 and -4 are on track; Missouri has not, so Callaway-2 has been suspended. Other recent state-level actions include the rejection (for the fifth time) of a bill introduced in the California legislature by Assemblyman Chuck DeVore to repeal the state’s new-reactor ban, and a split between the two houses of the Minnesota legislature on a proposed ban repeal.

The article concludes (in the lead): "State governments, federal agencies, reactor vendors, license applicants, and the economy are all contributing to the air of doubt surrounding new reactor projects in the United States."

The whole article can be found at:

Glossary of terms:
Busbar costs: the price of the power leaving the plant; all capital, fuel, and operating costs taken into account.
Overnight costs: the cost of a construction project if no interest was incurred during construction, as if the project was completed "overnight."
Great Bandwagon Market: a periode with a surge in reactor orders, when industry and utilities thought they had to jump on the 'bandwagon'
All prices are in US-dollars, unless stated otherwise. At the time of publication of the original report (late June) 1 US$  equaled  0,71 Euro.

 "Half of the reactors ordered in the 1960s and 1970s were cancelled, with abandoned costs in the tens of billions of dollars."

 "The highly touted renaissance got a significant part of its momentum in the early 2000s with a series of cost projections that vastly understated the direct costs of nuclear reactors."

 "Capacity factors of 90% that are observed today took two decades to achieve. It may be a mistake to assume that new reactors will achieve those high capacity factors from day one."

 "Rarely did those who seized on nuclear power as a means to their ends know its actual economic and technical status. Instead, the information available to them was part of a catechism whose basic function was to answer infidels and sustain the faith of the converted."

"Touted as the turnkey project to replace the aging cohort of nuclear reactors, Olkiluoto has fallen three years behind schedule and more than 50% over budget."