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Alternative Energy / Nuclear Power

  • Rare Earths Problem Could Have A Nuclear Solution

    The 17 rare earth elements have energy supply by the throat. They are used in everything from oil refineries to solar and wind generators. These rare earths are, as John Kutsch, director of the Thorium Energy Alliance, says, “the great multipliers.” They make metals stronger, generators more efficient, cell phones smaller, television sets sharper, and laptops lighter. They are, in their way, as important to modern manufacturing as energy. Back in the days, the United States was a major supplier of rare earths -- with supplemental supplies coming from countries around the world, including Australia and Brazil. Today, 90 percent…

  • Beyond Iran And Pakistan: 7 Nuclear Wannabes

    The meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in 2011 following the Japanese tsunami forced a major rethink of nuclear power as a safe form of electricity generation. As radiation from the plant spewed into the ocean and nearby communities following an immediate evacuation, the world reaction was swift and dramatic. Within days the spot price of uranium collapsed. Japan ordered the shutdown and maintenance of all its existing reactors. Germany, a major consumer of nuclear power, permanently closed 8 of its 17 nuclear reactors; other European countries shelved their nuclear plans. While fear still lingers of a nuclear catastrophe…

  • A Look At The Future Of Nuclear Power

    If nuclear power is going to succeed in the 21st century, there will need to be major innovations in controlling costs and enhancing safety. The generation of nuclear reactors constructed in the 1970’s and 1980’s are showing their age. In just the past week, several U.S. reactors faced some equipment problems, forcing them to shut down. The Fermi 2 nuclear power plant outside of Detroit was taken offline after a water leak on March 19. The Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey was forced to temporarily shut down due to an electrical problem. These problems are minor, to be…

  • The $6.8 Billion Great Wall Of Japan: Fukushima Cleanup Takes On Epic Proportion

    More than four years after the catastrophic tsunami that crippled several nuclear reactors in Fukushima, the Japanese utility that owns the site is struggling to deal with a continuous flood of radioactive water. The tsunami knocked off power at the nuclear plant, which led to the meltdown of three of the six reactors, with a fourth severely damaged. The ongoing release of radioactive material has prevented anyone from entering parts of the complex. But getting a handle on the mess, let alone permanently cleaning up the site, has been extraordinarily difficult. The problem is the daily flood of rainwater that…

  • China Builds Nuclear Reactors in Earthquake-Prone Pakistan

    China has decided to defy international norms and build new nuclear reactors in Pakistan. While the U.S. and Europe see stagnant growth for commercial nuclear power, the same is not true in Asia. China is not only building nuclear reactors at home, but it is exporting its technology abroad. Of particular concern is its construction of nuclear reactors in Pakistan. China helped build two reactors at Chashma, which came online in 2000 and 2011 respectively. More recently, it has decided to double the size of the Chashma power plant, with two additional reactors under construction. And it is also constructing…

  • France’s Areva Lost $5.6 Billion In 2014 – Is This The End?

    Could France, a heavyweight in nuclear power, begin to see its position crumble? Areva, France’s iconic nuclear power builder, reported a massive financial loss for 2014. The state-owned company revealed that it lost 4.9 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in 2014, an enormous decline from the 500 million euro loss it posted the previous year. Weighing on the company is its much-heralded rector in Finland. The Olkiluoto 3 unit under construction in Finland was supposed to be completed in 2009, but it has since turned into a nightmare. Billed as the first Generation III+ pressurized water reactor – dubbed the Evolutionary…

  • Is There Any Hope Left For Nuclear Energy?

    Can nuclear help avoid the worst effects of climate change? The International Energy Agency recently provided a roadmap for nuclear power, detailing how the technology could help keep global temperature increases within a 2-degree scenario. According to the IEA report, between 2015 and 2050 total installed nuclear power capacity around the world would need to more than double from 396 gigawatts (GW) to 930 GW. To get there, the IEA says that the world will need to see an additional 20 GW of new nuclear capacity each year, a scenario that from today’s vantage point seems highly unlikely. The IEA…

  • Shape Shifting Robot To Inspect Damaged Fukushima Reactor

    Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which suffered three reactor meltdowns from an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, can’t be decommissioned until its ruined reactors are inspected. But because of deadly radiation, no human can get close to the facility to survey the damage. So the Japanese electronics giant Hitachi and an affiliate, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, have designed a snaky-looking, remotely controlled robot to do the job, perhaps as soon as April, to gather information about the state of the No. 1 reactor building to prepare for the removal of its radioactive rubble. The utility that operates the power plant,…

  • Iran Drops Dollar As Congress Threatens More Sanctions

    The clock is ticking on the Iranian nuclear deal, but it may all be for naught. A meddling Congress aside, Iran appears to lack faith in US President Barack Obama’s ability to ease long-standing sanctions and is cutting what ties it can. According to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, Iran no longer uses the US dollar in trade with foreign countries. Instead, Iran employs other currencies like the Chinese yuan, euro, Turkish lira, and Russian ruble, explained Deputy Head of the Central Bank of Iran Gholamali Kamyab. In November, Iran and six world powers – the United States, Great Britain, China,…

  • Europe And Iran: The Nuclear Dispute And The Syrian Crisis

    Following a meeting of the EU foreign ministers in late December 2014 the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini stated, “Iran is not only the country with which we have nuclear talks, it is also a regional important player [sic] and this practically means that we will have to engage with Iran also on its neighborhood.” This statement highlights the two issues under intense discussion between the EU and Iran – the nuclear dispute and the crisis in Syria. In recent months much attention has been focused on potential rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.…