Friday, May 29, 2009

Pittsburgh Energy Update

Both good news and bad news about the nuclear industry and Westinghouse. The good news is the reactor deal with India. The bad news concerns domestic production:

Most of the new construction is underway in countries like China and Russia, where strong central governments have made nuclear energy a national priority. India also has long seen nuclear as part of a national drive for self-sufficiency and now is seeking new nuclear technologies to reduce its reliance on imported uranium.

By comparison, “the state has been all over the place in the United States and Europe on nuclear power,” Mr. Joskow said.

The United States generates about one-fifth of its electricity from a fleet of 104 reactors, most built in the 1960s and 1970s. Coal still provides about half the country’s power.

To streamline construction, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington has worked with the industry to approve a handful of designs. Even so, the schedule to certify the most advanced model from Westinghouse, a unit of Toshiba, has slipped during an ongoing review of its ability to withstand the impact of an airliner.

I'm not sure how much the delay in certification matters given the political uncertainties of building any new reactors, not just the Westinghouse model, in the United States. Access to the India energy market should more than make up for the setbacks in America.

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