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Cheap Natural Gas Unplugs U.S. Nuclear-Power Revival
The Wall Street Journal ^ | March 15, 2012 | REBECCA SMITH

Posted on 03/15/2012 7:41:42 PM PDT by MinorityRepublican

The U.S. nuclear industry seemed to be staging a comeback several years ago, with 15 power companies proposing as many as 29 new reactors. Today, only two projects are moving off the drawing board.

What killed the revival wasn't last year's nuclear accident in Japan, nor was it a soft economy that dented demand for electricity. Rather, a shale-gas boom flooded the U.S. market with cheap natural gas, offering utilities a cheaper, less risky alternative to nuclear technology.

"It's killed off new coal and now it's killing off new nuclear," says David Crane, chief executive of NRG Energy Inc., NRG -1.14% a power-generation company based in Princeton, N.J. "Gas has come along at just the right time to upset everything."

Across the country, utilities are turning to natural gas to generate electricity, with 258 plants expected to be built from 2011 through 2015, federal statistics indicate. Not only are gas-fired plants faster to build than reactors, they are much less expensive. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says it costs about $978 per kilowatt of capacity to build and fuel a big gas-fired power plant, compared with $5,339 per kilowatt for a nuclear plant.

Already, the inexpensive natural gas is putting downward pressure on electricity costs for consumers and businesses.

The EIA has forecast that the nation will add 222 gigawatts of generating capacity between 2010 and 2035—equivalent to one-fifth of the current U.S. capacity. The biggest chunk of that addition—58%—will be fired by natural gas, it said, followed by renewable sources, including hydropower, at 31%, then coal at 8% and nuclear power at 4%.

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: energy; naturalgas; nuclearpower

1 posted on 03/15/2012 7:41:47 PM PDT by MinorityRepublican
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To: MinorityRepublican

Natural gas may be cheap right now, but pound for pound you can get an order of magnitude more energy from a pound of uranium than a pound of natural gas.


2 posted on 03/15/2012 7:48:25 PM PDT by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: MinorityRepublican

There is a future for both sources of energy.


3 posted on 03/15/2012 7:50:42 PM PDT by U-238
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To: MinorityRepublican

It’s all about the natgas act and spending our money foolishly.


4 posted on 03/15/2012 7:51:11 PM PDT by South Dakota (shut up and drill)
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Obama bows down to Saudi King | American Thinker | April 02, 2009 | Clarice Feldman | Posted on 04/02/2009 8:19:47 AM PDT by rdb3
Obama bows down to Saudi King | American Thinker | April 02, 2009 | Clarice Feldman | Posted on 04/02/2009 8:19:47 AM PDT by rdb3

5 posted on 03/15/2012 7:52:48 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Thanks MinorityRepublican.
The U.S. nuclear industry seemed to be staging a comeback several years ago, with 15 power companies proposing as many as 29 new reactors. Today, only two projects are moving off the drawing board.

6 posted on 03/15/2012 7:52:59 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.)
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To: SunkenCiv; MinorityRepublican

Now they can turn nuclear waste into energy.

http://talkatomic.com/pdf/White%20Paper-nag.pdf


7 posted on 03/15/2012 7:54:30 PM PDT by U-238
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To: MinorityRepublican

The problem is that cheap gas will also kill cheap gas.

Gas drilling rigs in operation have declined from something like 1600 several years ago to only 620 today. With record low gas prices, it makes more sense to drill for oil. Fracked wells also have much higher investment costs than regular gas wells and that can’t be justified with $2.3 mmbtu gas

Fracked gas is excellent, but nuclear is another obvious cheap, long-term option.


8 posted on 03/15/2012 7:59:02 PM PDT by PGR88
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To: MinorityRepublican
Typical American short-sightedness, not seeing past next quarter's results.

Facepalm.

9 posted on 03/15/2012 8:11:33 PM PDT by DTogo (High time to bring back the Sons of Liberty !!)
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To: U-238

Thanks U-238. Nice nick in this context, too. :’)


10 posted on 03/15/2012 8:18:20 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.)
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To: MinorityRepublican

These low NatGas prices are coming to an end in under 24 months. There is not enough exploration occuring to maintain this level of production:

http://www.foxbusiness.com/news/2012/03/13/anadarko-ceo-sees-natural-gas-price-rebound-after-2014/

“Published March 13, 2012

Dow Jones Newswires

THE WOODLANDS, Texas -(Dow Jones)- Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) expects natural gas prices to rebound significantly from their current depressed status after 2014, Chief Executive Jim Hackett said Tuesday.”


11 posted on 03/15/2012 8:20:32 PM PDT by JerseyHighlander
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To: factoryrat
Natural gas may be cheap right now, but pound for pound you can get an order of magnitude more energy from a pound of uranium than a pound of natural gas.

You sir are 100% correct. A better question is why nuclear is so much more expensive than conventional power plants. The answer is simple, it is government micro managing the industry and the environmentalists multiple law suits against that source of energy. Therefore, a very cheap source of energy has become very expensive. Government regulation does not REPEAT DOES NOT insure safety. A case in point is the recent disaster in Japan. This was not an engineering problem but it was an economic expediency that fostered poor engineering of their plants. In effect the nuclear power plants did not have fail safe passive system to keep the reactor cores from reaching a melt down temperature. The tsunami rendered the primary coolant systems inoperable. The tsunami did not cause the "sub standard piss poor design engineering of the plants."

What is the answer to this problem. The answer is the concept of absolute liability. Any provider of nuclear energy must have absolute liability for any accidents via outside insurance. There is no one, not anybody tougher than the bean counters in the back room of an insurance company. If the bean counters say it is okay to insure this plant, it is safe. If they do not insure it, it does not get built.

Relative to the total assets of an insurance being able to insure the total costs of a disaster, if they can not insure and compensate for the worst case disaster it would be required that the risks be shared by multiple insurance groups (That is how Lloyds of London works).

If the proposed plant is unable to buy the insurance necessary, the nuclear plant should not be built. If they can obtain insurance, rest assured that it is safe.

Insurance companies do not like losing money!!!!

12 posted on 03/15/2012 8:58:20 PM PDT by cpdiii (Deckhand, Roughneck, Mud Man, Geologist, Pilot, Pharmacist. THE CONSTITUTION IS WORTH DYING FOR!)
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To: factoryrat
Natural gas may be cheap right now, but pound for pound you can get an order of magnitude more energy from a pound of uranium than a pound of natural gas.

Six orders of magnitude would be a better estimate.

13 posted on 03/15/2012 9:09:15 PM PDT by Steely Tom (Obama goes on long after the thrill of Obama is gone)
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To: U-238

This is a cool concept, however, it still suffers from a major problem: terrorists can accumulate a large collection of them, and then build dirty bombs. Dirty bombs really suck, since they don’t rely on a chain reaction, but conventional explosives to turn their radioactive payload into a aerosol.

No way our government would ever allow such technology anywhere, and the environmentalists would have hissy fits!


14 posted on 03/15/2012 10:33:28 PM PDT by Aqua225 (Realist)
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To: MinorityRepublican
Natural gas isn't "cheap" where I am. It's price is volatile and vulnerable to the market hiccupstoo.
Also, gallon per gallon, LPG has 30% less B.T.U.'s than fuel oil. (so basically, you do not save any money using it in lieu of fuel oil or gasoline).
15 posted on 03/15/2012 10:56:01 PM PDT by Minutemen ("It's a Religion of Peace")
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To: Aqua225

This is why the NRC,DOD and various governmental bodies regulating radioisotopes will keep close tabs. The patent is already filed and looks like getting ready for production.


16 posted on 03/15/2012 11:34:35 PM PDT by U-238
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To: Aqua225

Universities and Colleges around this nation have radioisotopes on their campuses.


17 posted on 03/15/2012 11:35:49 PM PDT by U-238
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To: Aqua225

I personally know of 5 campuses in the LA area that have radioactive material on campus for research purposes.


18 posted on 03/15/2012 11:38:44 PM PDT by U-238
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To: U-238

Yes, but quantity and radioactivity factor in, would be my argument.

The whitepaper indicates they want this in civilian use as well. No one can really stop someone from buying a truckload of nuclear cell phones :)


19 posted on 03/16/2012 1:14:23 AM PDT by Aqua225 (Realist)
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To: Aqua225

I would keep this technology in control the military then.


20 posted on 03/16/2012 1:17:52 AM PDT by U-238
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To: Steely Tom
I agree, definitely. Fission reactors are a mature technology now, with all of the groundwork laid out by our predecessors. The only things we can improve are cycle efficiency, and going back to fuel reprocessing and breeder reactors, along with the possibilty of using thorium as as fuel feedstock for a new generation of plants.
21 posted on 03/18/2012 6:27:27 PM PDT by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: cpdiii
The situation in Japan was based on worst case scenario being trumped by an even worse case that nobody could have for-seen scenario. All of their emergency systems worked as expected, until they were submerged under seawater. The plants were designed for a 50 year event, and were damaged by a 100 year event. It sucks that it happened, but it has been learning experience for the NRC, and the power companies. Fermi II south of Detroit is of the same GE design and manufacture as the reactors at Fukashima. Should we shut that plant down because of this? No, you wouldn't because the geography and risks involved are very different.
22 posted on 03/18/2012 6:45:38 PM PDT by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: factoryrat
The situation in Japan was based on worst case scenario being trumped by an even worse case that nobody could have foreseen scenario. All of their emergency systems worked as expected, until they were submerged under seawater. The plants were designed for a 50 year event, and were damaged by a 100 year event.

I stand by my statement of "piss poor design," for that particular location. There are historical records of Tsunamis of this magnitude hitting that area of Japan.

The life span of a reactor is normally 30 to 40 years until decommissioning. That makes it about 60 to 80 percent probability of experiencing a 50 year event. It makes it a 30 to 40 percent probability of of experiencing a 100 year event for which it IS NOT DESIGNED TO SAFELY ENDURE That was piss poor engineering. I sure as hell would not get on an airplane if it had a 30 or 40 percent chance of crashing.

The design of that plant would be perfectly acceptable in other areas that are not subject to massive earthquakes and or Tsunamis.

The part that really makes me angry is this has probably killed off New Nuclear Power plants in the United States. I am a very active proponent of Nuclear Power. The disaster in Japan did not need to happen.

23 posted on 03/18/2012 7:58:38 PM PDT by cpdiii (Deckhand, Roughneck, Mud Man, Geologist, Pilot, Pharmacist. THE CONSTITUTION IS WORTH DYING FOR!)
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To: cpdiii

The GE design was not a piss poor design. Four US reactors that are currently in operation are of that design. The location of the Japanese reactors had more to do with their failure than the plant design itself. That was a poor choice of location by the Japanese, which given their engineering prowess, was possibly governed more by business and government pressure, rather than sound engineering practices. As far as nuclear power being dead here, four new reactors are slated to be built at existing sites, to add to generating capacity, with more to follow. As far as plant life goes, most of the plants operating in the US are running on extensions to their licenses, having been so over-engineered to begin with that they can easily extend their lives by at least 20 years.


24 posted on 03/20/2012 7:15:26 PM PDT by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: factoryrat
The GE design was not a piss poor design. Four US reactors that are currently in operation are of that design.

You are very correct and you stated it properly as being piss poor for that particular location. That is what I also meant but did not put it properly.

25 posted on 03/20/2012 8:22:15 PM PDT by cpdiii (Deckhand, Roughneck, Mud Man, Geologist, Pilot, Pharmacist. THE CONSTITUTION IS WORTH DYING FOR!)
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