In case you missed the update in my earlier post, I've discovered some profoundly ignorant anti-nuke garbage in an extraordinary place - the official policy document of a German federal ministry:[Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety] The myths of the nuclear industry
In retrospect, it explains a lot.
I pointed last week to Germany's horrible nuclear policy, wherein the new coalition is robbing nuclear operators to pay for wind mills. There are parallel developments in Belgium (which is 54% nuclear); they too have a mandatory phase-out, which they have decided to delay in exchange for, well, "protection money". The nuclear operator has been singled out for €1.1 billion in special, extra taxes, and will also be required to pay €500 million to renewable generators.
In his statement, Magnette said the deal meant Electrabel -- the Belgian arm of French utiltiy GDF Suez -- which is the main nuclear producer in the country, would pay the government between 215 and 245 million euros annually until 2014.
The exact sum, he said, would depend on production costs and market prices.
The energy ministry said that Electrabel would also be expected to invest 500 million Euros in renewables and to make a commitment to generate 10,000 new jobs before 2015.
BRUSSELS, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Belgium has demanded French utility GDF Suez (GSZ.PA) agree to a deal by Thursday on an energy charge of up to 500 million euros ($746 million), Belgian daily Le Soir wrote on Saturday.
GDF Suez Chief Executive Gerard Mestrallet was reported as saying on Thursday that he was not willing to pay the levy Belgium wants for 2009 -- 250 million euros for operating nuclear power stations, the same to a renewable energy fund.
In the US, the fine military tradition of $100 screwdrivers continues in Ft. Irwin's latest $2 billion "investment":
The new 500 MW solar facilities are expected to produce approximately 1,000 Gigawatt hours (GWh) annually, far exceeding Fort Irwin’s 35 MW peak load.
So $2 billion for an average generation of 115 MWe. Basically the same price as a nuclear reactor, for 1/10th the output.
There is incredible news from India. Prime Minister Manhoman Singh announced a plan to basically convert the entire country to thorium-nuclear power in 40 years. 470 GW by 2050 (compared to its present annual generation of 80 GW).
India has an ambitious three-stage nuclear programme which it sees as a "silver bullet" to its dire energy shortage. At present 400m people cannot light their homes and the country imports 70% of its oil.
Delhi says that it will be able to surmount these considerable problems and generate clean green power with an atomic programme that "virtuously recycles" the plutonium waste that reactors produce. This radioactive isotope takes thousands of years to be rendered safe and dealing with it is the greatest challenge facing nuclear energy's proponents.
Here is the text of the PM's speech:
Here are a couple of descriptions of the Three Stage program (basically, bootstrapping the thorium economy with PHWRs and LMFBRs):
The basic fuel cycle, from the second link:
Besides the advanced breeder reactors and reprocessing systems, there are other very interesting futuristic technologies in this plan. It mentions ADS - accelerator-driven systems, that is, subcritical fission cores "driven" by an external neutron source, which is a spallation accelerator. (fusion/fission hybrids are a similar concept.) The accelerator neutrons are extremely energetic (fast/hard) by reactor standards - above 1 MeV - which is very useful for transmuting certain isotopes in spent fuel (both higher actinides, and even some fission products). Hence the arrow from "disposal/incineration".
And they also indicate research in laser isotopic separation - things like AVLIS, in which (as I understand) narrowband lasers selectively ionize atoms of one isotope but not another. (This actually exploits nuclear properties directly (not mass differences), because the transitions involved are "hyperfine" - they involve the interaction of electrons with the nuclear magnetic moment. And different isotopes have different nuclear structure, hence different hyperfine splittings. Very cool stuff.) Here it is an unconventional isotopic separation - separating the radioactive contaminant U-232 from the fissile U-233, in the thorium fuel cycle.
Yet another "really cool thing" in the fuel cycle is the Np-237 separation - this is a step for creating very pure Pu-238 (Np-237 (n,y) Np-238 (,e-) Pu-238). Pu-238 is an alpha-only emitter whose primary use is for radioisotope heat sources for deep-space travel.
The US, for contrast, is already perfectly capable of creating Pu-238 for spacecraft (in Idaho) but currently has a severe shortage because of Congressional politics:
In closely related news, the Indian AHWR design is being prepped for the international market as well:
There is also a huge announcement in China: two new sodium fast reactors, the Russian BN-800 design, are slated for construction:
Looks like the closed fuel cycle economy is just around the corner.