Friday, March 25, 2011

March 25...Greek Independence Day

There are no nuclear power plants in Greece. They use a lot of solar for water heating, and wind turbines on the breezy islands. Zito Elas!

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, making his first public statement on the crisis in a week, said the situation at the Fukushima nuclear complex north of Tokyo was "nowhere near the point" of being resolved. "We are making efforts to prevent it from getting worse, but I feel we cannot become complacent.” Kan apologized to farmers and business owners for the toll the radiation has had on their livelihoods. If this happened in the US, everyone would be suing the shit out of everyone!

More than 700 engineers have been working in shifts to stabilize the plant. Japan's chief cabinet secretary said 130,000 people living in an outer circle around Fukushima should consider leaving, Japan cleared about 70,000 people from a 20-km (12-mile) zone around the plant.

Tepco has just turned to Japanese banks for 2 trillion yen ($25 billion) in emergency financing. Tepco shares have dropped 60% since the accident. Cost estimates by the government are currently $310 million…the accident is NOT over. Huge costs will be incurred to stabilize the 6 nuclear reactors, clean up/entomb them, rebuild or find replacement power, and of course, damage claims.

In the US, the nuclear industry is legally liable for $7 billion…the Price Anderson Act. The insurance industry has stated from the start in the 50’s that they would not insure a nuclear reactor…not even Progressive Insurance! The $7 billion is a pool of money from all the players in the industry…utilities, vendors, etc., as was seen on the Three Mile Island accident which cost upwards of $1 billion. This wouldn’t even cover the replacement cost of a reactor today. The balance of any liability would be borne by the taxpayer, even in these days of less government and less taxes. $50 billion? $150 billion? Lawsuits and claims by 5 million people evacuated in New York or Southern California?

Exelon is a company that runs 17 plants in the US. The company’s chief executive, John W. Rowe, declared that the company was well prepared to “respond to emergencies not contemplated in the original design.” Whew! I can relax now. They must have a lot of fire trucks standing by. He expected that American regulators would impose new safety requirements on nuclear plants after the Japanese crisis. That is likely to add “significant costs” to the utilities that operate the plants, he said in a conference call with investors. Wait til they get their next insurance premium, after the Tea Partiers really go after that excess government spending! Just another nail…going to need an electric nail gun to relieve my swinging arm.

On a positive note: Germany set a new world record installing 7,400 MW of solar PV in one year. The country also reached a renewable energy electricity penetration of more than 30% on February 7th, 2010. Wind turbines, hydroelectric plants, solar cells, and biogas digesters now provide nearly 17% of Germany's electricity. Since the sun doesn’t always shine, this equates to the equivalent of about three nuclear reactors; but is does provide electricity during peak power demand. I would take 10+ years to build three new nukes.

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