Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hopeful Energy News

China is building an $8 billion nuclear power plant. Forget the US and France; China is now the world leader in nuclear power technology.

China's government plans to build dozens of nuclear power plants in coming years as it tries to ease mounting power shortages cause by its economic boom. Beijing looks on nuclear power as a clean alternative to China's abundant but dirty coal resources.

The Yueyang plant would be the second in Hunan, away from the booming eastern coast, where China's existing nuclear plants are located near Shanghai and in the southeastern province Guangdong.

And why such an investment in power production? Because China is sucking up energy like it's going out of style:
China's total power consumption in the first quarter of this year rose by nearly 12 per cent to 625 billion kilowatt-hours, Xinhua said.

For those concerned about China as a threat, let's note that it yields benefits as well. China is doing the sort of research and development into nuclear power that is politically impossible in the US (at least so far). If it pays off, we will at least be able to buy it from them - rather than missing the boat entirely.

How is the West repsonding? Well, fortunately, folks like Shell are developing advanced technologies that let them do things like drill in 8,000 feet of water:
But the Perdido project is notable because it marks one of the first times an oil company has moved beyond the discovery and planning stages to commit to actual production in super deep water. "This is a major development even by Shell's historical standards," Russ Ford, a Shell vice president with the company's exploration and production division, said in a conference call Thursday with the news media.

The Perdido hub design is known as a "spar," — the platform will float on a huge sunken cylinder that is moored to the sea floor. It will sit in 8,000 feet of water, making it the deepest spar production facility in the world, Shell said.

Both these stories are from the very intersting NAMblog, which points out that those record oil company profits make things like deep-water production possible.

Update: Glenn picks up on Bill Clinton drawing the wrong lesson about Brazil's success in achieving energy independence.

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1 comment:

James Aach said...

I suspect you mean that China is looking to become the leader in use of nuclear power technology. I doubt if their development is much ahead of that in the West, where work is ongoing on improved versions of the current plant types, and new type of reactor called "pebble bed."

One of the difficulties when discussing our electric energy future is that most of our citizens have little understanding of our electric energy present. It is difficult to make large amounts of electricity - whether by fossil, nuclear or solar power. [One good reason why conservation and better efficiency should be at the top of any energy plan.] The real world of nuclear energy, in particular, is little understood. I've worked in it over 20 years and have never seen a good profile of the people, the politics and the technology here in the United States. So I wrote one, in the form of the thriller novel "Rad Decision", available online at no cost to readers - who seem to like it, judging from their homepage comments - at

"I'd like to see Rad Decision widely read." - Stewart Brand, noted enviornmentalist, internet pioneer, and founder of "The Whole Earth Catalog".

Available soon in paperback.