Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Loan Guarantees and Bennett's Amendment

I earlier mentioned the stimulus package; now, I've got some better understanding.

First, some background. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established a federal loan guarantee program to facilitate deployment of clean technologies, which include renewables, transmission, and advanced coal- and nuclear-based generation. Companies who take a loan pay a subsidy cost, which is essentially the expected long-term liability the government would face. Typically, this is on the order of 1o% of the face value. The loan program is "scored" at just 1% of the loan face value--which means only 1% of the face value is appropriated.

The current stimulus legislation aims to appropriate $8 billion (House) to $10 billion (Senate). However, in its current form, this legislation would appropriate the subsidy cost, again, roughly 10% of the face value. That means, e.g., the Senate's version would allow provide roughly $100 in available loans.

Senator Bennett [R-UT] has proposed an amendment that would put $1 billion of the Senate's package into the current loan guarantee program. This $1 billion, with the 1% score, would allow for an additional $100 billion under the current program.

Obviously, this could be of paramount importance for financing new nuclear generation. Contact your Senators and let them know your opinion!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some Articles Revisited

Two old articles in Scientific American were listed in my nuclear news feed, apparently having just been placed online.

The first provides a nice overview of Gen-IV reactors and related technologies. The second focuses on the fuel cycle side of things, specifically with respect to recycling.

Both appear to be good reads...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stimulus + Energy Loan Guarantees = ?

I've gotten two emails about an upcoming Senate Appropriations Committee vote on the economic stimulus package and an amendment by Senator Bennett (R-UT) to provide $100 billion in loan guarantees for renewable (and supposedly nuclear) energy. Another student of nuclear must also have gotten this news.

I can't be sure, but the amendment would seem to modify the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, the fancy name for a Senate version of the stimulus plan.

Anybody know more than I do?

I was browsing the standard nuclear journals today and found in NS&E a paper on the French fission product experiments, which has been heavily analyzed at ORNL over the past couple years. It will be interesting to learn more about these experiments and how new analysis techniques I'm trying to develop could be used on their data in burnup credit analyses.

Last night I baked bagels (myself) for the first time. Let me say first that they are superb, and second, that molasses works well as a malt extract substitute in small quantities. Tonight, we host a largely nuclear-grad gathering for a "veggie-mex" dinner...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Veggie eats.

This past holiday season, I afforded myself the gift of a good cookbook. The Vegetarian Gourmet's: Easy International Recipes by Bobbie Hinman is just awesome. My better half and I have been using it for the past couple of weeks, and as far as I can tell, there isn't a single bad recipe. Everything has been superb--of course, I was cooking it!--but things like the "pinto-cheese casserole" and "sweet basil-corn fritters" are simple to make and wonderful to eat. Of course, I'm speaking for myself only.

Check for my commitment to cooking again! Now, off to Milwaukee, the Titanic exhibit and some good friends.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Florida for Nuclear

Today, the nuclear headlines had this gem. Progress Energy of North Carolina and currently operator of four nuclear power plants signed an agreement with the Westinghouse/Shaw to put a two unit AP-1000 plant in Levy County, FL.

I like this first step forward to ensure a substantial carbon-free energy supply for the "Sunshine" state. I also like the 3000 peak-construction and 800 permanent job creation. Such efforts--at a large scale--would be a major player in our near-to-mid-term economic future.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Argonne National Lab + Nuclear Simulations

A quick glance at some nuclear news showed this:

Basically, the Blue Gene/P system at ANL allows for extremely large simulations to be run. For nuclear engineering, this is a valuable tool for investigating the coupled physics in reactors without actually doing an experiment.

I've seen talks by Dr. Siegel--one of the investigators--and he puts it best, saying essentially that large scale simulations will never replace experiments; however, they will help to us use the analytic tools available to zero in on those designs, parameters, etc. that would be most valuable to investigate experimentally.

A Promise to Myself!

As this term winds down, and as I find myself with more time, I want to commit to keeping up with what I had started roughly one year ago. I want both to keep up on relevant literature--as much as seems relevant beyond what I need to do for my work--and on relevant news. I'm going to shoot for two-three hours a week. We'll see...

Happy holidays--whichever they may be!