The global nuclear renaissance has certainly arrived. This is just a partial list of recent activity and by no means represents the comprehensive activities currently underway:
US President George Bush appealed to Congress today to end the nuclear technology ban against India. Lifting the ban would enable nearly 30 reactors to be provided by France as well as Westinghouse Electric and GE. India plans to pay those suppliers $40 billion to build the nuclear reactors by 2020. India and China are leaders in the atomic energy revival.
This past Monday, Bush decided to pull out from a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with Moscow; the deal which would have allowed Russia to import and store spent nuclear fuel from American-supplied reactors around the world.
In South Africa, Eskom Holdings Ltd is set to decide whether France’s Areva SA or Westinghouse Electric Co will win a nuclear plant contract valued at nearly $14 billion.
In the face of today’s hurricane threat courtesy of Ike, twin reactors in southeast Texas prepare for the oncoming storm even though their steel-reinforced concrete walls were built to withstand Category 5 hurricanes. The operator, NRG, who has partnered with Toshiba Corp to form Nuclear Innovation North America LLC, and CPS Energy want to build two additional reactors at the site.
McCain Nuclear Energy Revival May Cost $315 Billion (Update1)
By Elliot Blair Smith (Excerpt from Bloomberg.com)
Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) — John McCain’s plan to revive the U.S. nuclear power industry with 45 new reactors may cost $315 billion, with taxpayers bearing much of the financial risk.
The Republican presidential nominee wants the plants built in time to help the U.S. meet a 29 percent increase in electricity demand by 2030. Industry estimates put their cost at $7 billion each. Barack Obama, McCain’s Democratic opponent, is less specific about his plans, saying he wants to “find ways to safely harness nuclear power.”
Global warming and the rising cost of fossil fuels have boosted chances that atomic energy will supply more U.S. electricity. Public concerns remain about reactor safety and disposing of waste that stays hazardous for millennia. Investment bankers, citing the industry’s cost overruns in the 1980s, say they won’t finance its long-sought “nuclear renaissance” without federal backing.
“Loan guarantees get reactors built, simply put,” said Kevin Book, senior vice president and energy specialist at the Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. investment banking firm in Arlington, Virginia.
No new nuclear plants have opened in the U.S. since 1996. The 1979 scare at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union damped support for the technology.
Congress in December authorized $18.5 billion in guarantees that cover as much as 80 percent of nuclear plant construction costs — enough to fund three typical reactors. Three power companies have already applied for the aid.
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