“NUCLEAR POWER: LOOKING FOR THE FUTURE,THE 4TH KEY ISSUES OF NUCLEAR POWER TODAY”

“NUCLEAR POWER: LOOKING FOR THE FUTURE,THE 4TH KEY ISSUES OF NUCLEAR POWER TODAY”

A. Introduction

The most important constraints on economic growth and development are the availability of energy. Nuclear power is the best source of energy for support the economic growth and development. There are four key issues for nuclear power to continue to be viable as a source of energy now and in the future: the economic of nuclear power, nuclear safety, spent fuel and radioactive waste management, and nuclear non-proliferation.

B. 4th Key Issues of Nuclear Power Today

1. The Economic of Nuclear Power

There is generally increasing pressure on nuclear power to be genuinely economically competitive with other large-scale energy sources, such as coal, oil and gas. To make nuclear power competitively economics, we need some strategy whether for the current nuclear power plant and for the new nuclear power plant. Here are certain strategies to improve the economics of nuclear power:

a. The economics of current nuclear power plants

The overall picture with current nuclear plants is very clear. They are operating more and more efficiently and operating costs are generally low relative to those of alternative generating technologies. These improvements have now become routine and will be integrated into the construction of new nuclear plants. Here are in detailed the economic improvement of the current plant (the existing plant):

a.1. High Plant Performance by High plant availability and Capacity Factor

The current plant have been operated more and more efficiencies and have more output is being achieved with each reactor through improved availability / capacity up-rates and operation will continue for many years in the future, backed by the necessary investment in refurbishment.

a.2. Operating Cost

OECD2 /NEA3 studies from 1983-2005 (OECD-NEA/IEA 2005 and earlier) [table1] show relative stability in the overall generating cost of nuclear power plants. This has resulted essentially from two different factors: Nuclear fuel costs have fallen due to lower uranium and enrichment prices together with new fuel designs allowing higher burnups, while O&M costs have now stabilized at levels competitive with other base-load generation.

a.3. Capacities Up rates

Up-rating the power output of nuclear reactors is recognized as a highly economic source of additional generating capacity. The refurbishment of the plant turbo generator combined with utilizing the benefits of initial margins in reactor designs and digital instrumentation and control technologies can increase plant output significantly, by up to 15-20%. There are many examples of this throughout the world, but it is a particular focus in Sweden, the United States and East European countries.

a.4. Licensing Extensions

The extending the lifetime of plants may allow the owner to reduce their annual depreciation charge thereby spreading decommissioning charges over an extended lifetime and further improving profitability. Existing well maintained NPPs have become valuable assets with excellent safety performance. Those effect wich result reducing the cost.

b. The economics of new nuclear power plants

The future of all reactors will depend on whether they can be economically built and operated. One of the major impediments to new nuclear construction is the capital cost due in large part to the length of construction time and complexity of the plant. Here are in detailed the economic improvement of the new nuclear power plant:

b.1. Reducing the capital cost of nuclear power

OECD-NEA (2000), highlights several areas where vendors have identified specific steps to reduce capital costs to a range they regard as feasible: $1000-1400 per kW of installed gross capacity. Key areas of cost reduction include the following:

  1. Larger unit capacities provide substantial economies of scale, suggesting that nuclear plants should, for economic reasons, use higher-capacity reactors.
  2. Replicating several reactors of one design on one site can bring major unit cost reductions.
  3. Standardization of reactors and construction in series will yield substantial savings over the series.
  4. Learning-by-doing can save substantial capital costs, both through replication at the factory for components and at the construction site for installation.
  5. Simpler designs, some incorporating passive safety systems, can yield sizeable savings, as can improve construction methods.
  6. A predictable licensing process can avoid unexpected costs and facilitate getting the new plant up to safety and design requirements at an early date to start electricity – and revenue – generation.

b.2. Low interest charge and the shorten the construction periods

Construction interest costs can be an important element of total capital costs but this depends on the rate of interest and the construction period. The low interest charge can reduce the cost of new plant. Since nuclear power projects are very much capital intensive, shortening the construction period is important to the interest charges during construction period. Construction period may be reduced through: (a) parallel construction technology; (b) increased composite modularization; (c) increased prefabrication; (d) better communication through information technology; and replication.

2. Safety of Nuclear Power

Second important key issue in nuclear power is nuclear safety. The TMI accident in 1979 and the Chernobyl accident in 1986 was clearly a setback to nuclear power. Many lives were lost. Thousands suffered major health impacts, and there were significant environmental and social impacts. The accident was the result of less than optimal reactor design, compounded by gross safety mismanagement. But ironically, this event also prompted major improvements in an approach to nuclear safety.

A key change was the development of a so-called international “nuclear safety regime”. The IAEA updated its body of safety standards to reflect best industry practices. International conventions were put in place, creating legally binding norms to enhance the safety of nuclear activities. A systematic analysis of risk was used to ensure that safety upgrades would be made in areas that would bring the greatest safety return. And, importantly, both the IAEA and the World Association of Nuclear Operators created international networks to conduct peer reviews, compare safety practices, and exchange operating information to improve safety performance.

The international nuclear safety regime has been demonstrating its effectiveness for two decades. But it would be a misunderstanding to regard nuclear safety as something that can be “fixed.” As IAEA Report, “Every [nuclear] operator must establish and maintain a ´safety culture´ in which management demonstrates that safety is the overriding priority and in which every member of staff recognizes his or her individual responsibility for safety.”

A key aspect of an effective safety culture is taking full advantage of operating experience. Experts note that serious nuclear safety events are almost always preceded by less serious “precursor” events. By taking prompt action based on the “precursors”, the probability of a serious accident can be reduced. But to do this effectively requires a number of things:

1. careful analysis of the root causes of events;

2. mechanisms that facilitate sharing this information with other nuclear operators worldwide; and

3. a commitment to transparency by all nuclear power countries and operators – including making use of peer review safety missions – as part of an ongoing process of mutual learning.

In that regard, many countries have requested an Integrated Regulatory Review Service to IAEA. This new service combines a number of elements ranging from nuclear safety and radiation safety to emergency preparedness and nuclear security. It includes a self-assessment aspect, and permits a comprehensive, participatory approach to evaluating a country’s safety performance.

3. Spent fuel and Nuclear Waste Management

The management of spent fuel and disposal of high level radioactive waste remain a challenge for the nuclear power industry. The amount of spent nuclear fuel produced annually – about 10 000 tonnes – is actually small when contrasted with the 25 billion tonnes of carbon waste from fossil fuels that is released directly into the atmosphere. Experts agree that the geological disposal of high level radioactive waste is safe and technologically feasible. But public opinion will likely remain skeptical – and nuclear waste disposal will likely remain a topic of controversy – until the first geological repositories are operational and the disposal technologies fully demonstrated.

The greatest progress on deep geological disposal has been made in Finland, Sweden and the United States. But it will still be more than a decade before the first such facility is operational.

In the meantime, the trend has been to construct and use above-ground interim storage facilities, and many countries are exploring the feasibility of interim storage for 100 years or more. An increasing number of countries are also interested in ensuring waste retrievability for future flexibility. Research is also progressing on the use of fast reactors and accelerator driven systems to incinerate and transmute long lived waste, in order to reduce the volume and radiotoxicity of waste to be sent to geologic repositories.

For some time, many countries start to consider the multinational approaches to the management of spent fuel and disposal of high level radioactive waste. More than 50 countries have their spent nuclear fuel stored in temporary sites, awaiting disposal or reprocessing. Many countries do not have the technology or appropriate sites for geological disposal, and the costs for countries with small nuclear programmes would be prohibitive.

4. Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Safeguards for peaceful uses of nuclear energy

Nuclear security has also become a major concern in recent years.Perhaps the most serious concern relates to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. At the same time that we are seeing rising expectations for nuclear power, we are also witnessing concerns regarding the spread of sensitive nuclear technology. Particularly sensitive are nuclear operations such as enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing – activities that are part of a peaceful nuclear programme, but also can be used to produce the high enriched uranium and plutonium used in nuclear weapons. Countries that have such operations are only a short step away from a nuclear weapons capability.

There are four critical aspects of the nuclear non-proliferation regime that must be strengthen – addressing both symptoms and root causes – if we are to avoid a cascade of nuclear proliferation, and our ultimate self-destruction.

First, develop a more effective approach for dealing with proliferation threats. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA Statute make clear the reliance of the international community on the IAEA to verify States´ adherence to their non-proliferation obligations, and on the United Nations Security Council to act in cases of non-compliance. The present system offers an array of measures ranging from dialogue to sanctions to enforcement actions. But judging by our record in recent years, these measures have not been applied effectively to deal with proliferation issues. Second, secure existing nuclear material stockpiles and tighten controls over the transfer and production of nuclear material. Effective control of nuclear material is the “choke point” for preventing the production of additional nuclear weapons. Third, strengthen the verification authority and capability of the IAEA. Effective verification has four elements: adequate legal authority; state-of-the-art technology; access to all relevant information and locations; and sufficient human and financial resources. Fourth, urgently need to find a way for disarmament to be given the prominence and priority it deserves. Article VI of the NPT requires parties to the Treaty to pursue negotiations in good faith “on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. It is now 37 years since the Treaty entered into force. Should we not be well past the date when States party should be developing new nuclear weapons?

C. Key Issue Advantage for Renaissance Nuclear Power In the Future

After we know the key issue and how to improve those key important issues, we will be able to answer the challenge of nuclear power renaissance in the future. Knowing the important issue will make us have “A NEW PARADIGM”: A New Nuclear Economic Paradigm, A New Nuclear Safety Paradigm, A New Nuclear Waste Management Paradigm and A New Nuclear Security Paradigm.

By having a new nuclear economic paradigm the existing and future of all reactors will be economically built and operated. By having a new nuclear safety paradigm the existing and future of all reactors will be maintain in safety condition and no more nuclear incident and accident. By having a new nuclear waste management paradigm the existing and future of all reactors waste will be manageable and public doesn’t have to worry about the waste of nuclear power.  By having a new nuclear security paradigm the existing and future of all reactors will secure from misused.

Those key issues are challenge for the nuclear society now, and those key issues will be solved by the international cooperation strategy. Now we have the Gen IV Cooperation and much other International collaboration, that cooperation are one of the step to answer the key important issue challenge in near future.

D. Conclusion

Nuclear power now in the crossroad to nuclear renaissance, to ensure that nuclear renaissance will be coming and nuclear power comeback as favorite energy source option are by answering 4 (four) key important issue today: : the economic of nuclear power, nuclear safety, spent fuel and radioactive waste management, and nuclear non-proliferation. Those key issues are challenge for the nuclear society now, and those key issues will be solved by the international cooperation strategy.

E. Reference

1. www.nrc.gov.

2. www.world-nuclear.org

3. www.iea.org

About teteh ai

hi~ i am ai now i am a student in KAIST with major nuclear engineering, i also still officially work for Nuclear Energy Regulatory Body in Indonesia, ...lets go nuclear!!
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