Fossil Fuel Price Volatility

All of the previously mentioned cost comparisons are susceptible to volatility in fossil fuel prices, which have dramatically increased over the past several decades. This is especially true for crude oil, now a global commodity. Figure 2.8 shows the annual price ofWest Texas Intermediate (WTI), one of the world's price benchmark crude oils, since 1983. Changing geopolitical supply-affecting events and increasing demand have ricocheted prices generally between 20 and 30 per barrel for most of...

Rediscovering Nuclear Power

What the preceding information tells us is that while the United States possesses numerous energy options, there are definite drawbacks to each. Not one is a perfect solution.While the United States hasn't built a nuclear power plant for decades, the nation's economy continues to rely heavily on nuclear power for electricity generation as economic and environmental issues bring greater reliance on fossil fuels into serious question. While most of the nation's 103 commercial reactors have been...

Early Atomic Research

One of the pioneers of early atomic research was Enrico Fermi, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1935 for his research in the field of artificial radioactivity. Fermi left Italy and immigrated to the United States prior to the start ofWorld War II and continued his nuclear physics research first at Columbia University in New York and then at the University of Chicago. It was at the University of Chicago in 1942 that Fermi conducted the first major experiments into controlled nuclear fission....

New Passive versus Redundant Safety Designs

Sbwr Passive Containment Cooling System

Even though the United States has not built a new reactor for decades, reactor technology has continued to evolve. Both U.S. and international re actor designers and manufacturers strived to produced newer reactor designs in the 1990s that feature greater operating reliability and will have lower costs of operation when they are expected to come online around the year 2015. While safety has always been a primary concern with reactor development, the latest generation of nuclear reactor designs...

Negative Media Messages

The media wield a tremendous power to send messages that can easily sway public opinion.A declining number of the U.S. public reads newspapers on a regular basis, but opinions can be molded through visual media such as movies and television. Many opponents of nuclear energy have effectively utilized these forms of entertainment to lobby against the continued use and growth of nuclear power. Just days before the Three Mile Island accident and in the five years that followed, there were a number...

About the Authors

Herbst has two decades' experience with global energy markets and professional consulting services. He specializes in the analysis of commodity fundamentals, pricing, commercial trading, and risk management opportunities and has performed work in the oil, natural gas, and electric power sectors. In recent years, he has focused his efforts on emerging energy technologies and markets, specifically nuclear power, the Alberta oil sands, coal gasification technologies, and the growing global...

Challenges to Overcome

Several years ago most electricity market analysts believed the majority of new U.S. power generation capacity would be natural gas-fired. Changing economics, tightening natural gas availabilities, and environmental pressures now have utilities reconsidering the nuclear power option, but significant hurdles remain. It is still difficult to find utility executives willing to publicly commit to building a new reactor, due to the 3 to 4 billion investment required. Following Enron's demise in 2001...

Nuclear Power Low Cost Portal to US Energy Security

It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter,will know of great periodic regional famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a lifespan far longer than ours as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age. Lewis L. Strauss, Chairman,Atomic Energy Commission, in a...