Sunday, September 23, 2007

Travel - Blogging light next two weeks

Blogging will be light for the next two weeks while I'm on travel. As this blog enters its 10th month of operation it seems useful to take a look at some readership statistics.

Visitors (5/20/07-9/20/07)
  • 3,850 unique visitors
  • 5,813 page views
  • 2,410 (63%) visitors came only one time searching for a specific topics via keywords, via link on other blogs and websites, or from links in email messages.
  • 1,408 (37%) visitors came to the blog two or more times as repeat visitors either via key word search or direct login.

Locations – Countries

3,117 (81%) U.S.
191 Canada
104 U.K.
64 Australia
53 India
33 Japan
23 Germany
23 South Africa

Top Posts (by number of page views)

201 NRC “no bozos rule – NRC Chairman Dale Klein says in a speech the nuclear industry is not for amateurs

184 Idaho aligns its stars for GNEP – report on the hearing in Idaho Falls last March. This was a dramatic event in which over 500 people turned out to testify in favor of construction of a new nuclear fuel facility

165 Idaho’s invisible nuclear power plant – description of the implausible ambitions of a penny stock outfit from Virginia to build a nuclear power plant in southwestern Idaho

91 Westinghouse moves out on four reactors for China – the deal is done. A U.S. firm, owned by Japan’s Toshiba, will build four nuclear power plants in China justifying a $4.86B investment. This post was cited in the Albuquerque Journal August 10th.

56 Thorium power update – A U.S. R&D firm is spending $2M/year from investors, has a few prospects but no revenue, and is bullish on the licensing opportunities which may result from new deal with a Russian research center.

56 Toshiba sells stake in Westinghouse – the firm sells a $486M piece of its stake in the nuclear reactor firm to the country of Kazakhstan in return for access to its enriched uranium. Countries like Kazakhstan with vast uranium reserves may become world players in the energy markets of the 21st century much like OPEC nations did in the second half of the 20th century. This blog post was cited in the Wall Street Journal on July 2nd.

50 Texas plans to keep the lights on with nuclear power plants - According to a comprehensive article in the Dallas Morning News by reporter Elizabeth Souder, the future of the nuclear industry may get a jump start in Texas. The state has four nuclear reactors in operation today and six more are planned to be operational by 2015.

49 New life for nukes in space - A vision of nuclear propulsion to send humans to the planets is taking shape on the high desert of the Snake River plain in eastern Idaho even though there is no spaceport here. A design from the 1960s to send space payloads to the Moon, Mars, and beyond using a nuclear reactor is being updated with new ideas and technologies. This post got a lot of traffic from NASA and from readers of Wired Magazine’s web site.

# # #

China to spend $50 billlion on new nuclear reactors

Reactors will be built along the coast to use sea water for cooling

Reuters has a roundup of nuclear business developments in China. The wire service reports China plans to tap the global uranium market to feed the rapid expansion of its nuclear power sector. A 2006 deal with Australia will help it meet its needs.

Zhang Guobao, a deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told Reuters the country's plans to add one plant a year through 2020 were focused along the coast. The country aims to spend $50 billion to quadruple its installed generating capacity at nuclear power plants by 2020 to 40 gigawatts (GW), or 4 percent of China's total power generating capacity.

The focus now is to build plants in the coastal regions that are close to major power demand markets and can easily tap sea water to cool the generators.

AREVA says it is not out of the running

Zhang declined to comment on a Reuters report that China had cancelled plans to build two AREVA reactors at Yangjiang in southern Guangdong province.

Reuters quoted Chinese sources who said the countrywas in talks with AREVA to relocate the plant to Taishan, also in Guangdong, and the country would press ahead with four reactors in Yangjiang using domestic technology.

Forbes reports an industry source in China confirmed last month that the authorities have decided to use home-grown CPR-1000 reactors at its Yangjiang nuclear plant in southern Guangdong province because negotiations between China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp and AREVA were taking too long and the French company was demanding too high a price.

Reports say two EPRs could still be built in China, but at another site, Taishan, 140 km west of Hong Kong. An AREVA spokesman told Forbes, "'From the constructor's point of view, it is the choice of technology which counts, rather than the exact location."

Anne Lauvergeon, chairwoman of Areva, will soon carry out a working visit to China, a spokesman for the state-controlled nuclear energy group said, without giving details.

Energy Alberta's "trick or treat" marketing tactic

Wayne Henuset trys waving the carbon tax flag at oilmen

Here's a new way to sell a nuclear reactor to the oil and gas industry in Alberta's tar sands. Scare them. That's right, use old fashioned fear, uncertainty, and doubt also known as FUD. Wave the threat of carbon taxes and tell the oil firms the only way they'll continue to be able to get oil from the tar sands in the future is to buy nuclear generated electricity instead of burning natural gas or the bitumen itself to make it and steam as part of the extraction process.

Reuters reports the executive pitching nuclear power for Alberta raised the threat of a grab for the province's oil wealth in the form of carbon taxes. Wayne Henuset, president of Energy Alberta Corp, said in a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce he believes taxes on carbon emissions could be imposed in Canada to limit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

Taxation issues have been a hot-button issue in Alberta relative to the federal government in far away Ottowa. Alberta has become the top CO2 source in Canada due to its oil and gas productionin the tar sands region. Henuset managed to hit both issues in one rhetorical flourish. He said,

"So if they want a transfer of wealth, they call it whatever they want, but they're going to come after our wealth in Alberta. And hopefully we can keep it down by looking like responsible citizens and bringing in something that doesn't have CO2."

Energy Alberta wants to build a C$6.2 billion AECL CANDU plant in the Peace River area of northwestern Alberta. The 2,200 megawatt project would be the province's first nuclear facility.

The motivation for the scare tactics appear to be that last week Energy Alberta reversed itself on a claim that it had a buyer lined up for 70 percent of the proposed nuclear plant's output. Maybe Energy Alberta's newest tactic is to frighten the socks off Alberta's oilmen into buying his nuclear plant before the government in Ottowa take a chunk of their profits away through carbon taxes.

It's an unexpected sales pitch to the bitumen business, and it has a tinge of desperation to it. It could play into the hands of opponents of nuclear energy. What makes no sense is that Henuset is a smart businessman who has made his fortune several times over without scaring anyone.

South Africa takes a pass on GNEP

Energy strategy will reserve uranium for its own reactors

Reuters reports that South Africa declined an invitation to join a U.S.-initiated multilateral nuclear supply pact because it could undermine Pretoria's plan to revive uranium enrichment on its own soil.

South Africa's no-show at a 16-nation signing ceremony for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership created concern in many developing and even industrialized states that the GNEP could deprive them of control of their atomic energy options.

South Africa is seeking foreign partners to enrich uranium as part of a strategy to expand the country's nuclear-energy program in the next few decades.

The government is in the "early stages" of talks with international companies and countries that could enable it to use centrifuges in producing low-enriched nuclear fuel, Tseliso Maqubela, the chief nuclear director of the Energy Ministry, told reporters.

"We would prefer to do enrichment with partners," Maqubela said at a briefing in Vienna, part of a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. "The timeline that we have is going to depend on how much progress we make in attracting partners," he said.