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I might flick this one to our US readers (or informed others), who are a bit closer to the presidential election action. I was wondering if there had been any change in Obama's position on nuclear power. Back in late June, this was the position ....


U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Friday nuclear power was "not a panacea" for U.S. energy woes but it is worth investigating its further development.


During a meeting with U.S. governors, Obama noted that nuclear power does not emit greenhouse gases and therefore the United States should consider investing research dollars into whether nuclear waste can be stored safely for its reuse.


But he said, "I don't think that nuclear power is a panacea."


Obama's Republican opponent, John McCain, has proposed a big push on nuclear power. The Arizona senator earlier this week said that if he is elected to the White House, he would put country on a course to build 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030.


Obama, an Illinois senator, did not directly discuss the McCain proposal at the economic forum, where several governors talked of higher fuel costs as one of the most pressing issues facing their states.




Since then, has Obama softened his stance to become a bit more pro-nuclear yet? (not that he was ever against it). I have a feeling that it could be one of those political issues he would prefer to say little on now for political reasons but when elected and faced with the fundamental reality that over 3/4 of your renewable energy comes from nuclear power he will be more supportive post election. He strikes me as fairly pragmatic and open to reason.


That said, should the less likely event prevail and John McCain and his Root'n Toot'n Moose Shoot'n running mate win, what might be the impact of 45 plus new reactors on the demand for uranium and nuclear technology?

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An interesting development in the recent update relating to the solar side of things. As I understand it, current solar cells have a film over the top of them which basically works as an anti-reflection coating. That is, it minimises light that manages to get into the cell from just 'bouncing back out' without being absorbed and hence turned into electricity. The recent update referred to the development of a 'rare earth oxide (REO) film potentially able to do this job BUT which can also absorb light in its own right and turn it into electricity. If they can do this, AND find a way whereby it can readily be integrated into current solar cell production, then theoretically they could sell this process to one or more current producers without ever having to build a plant of their own. (This is what they've engaged NREL to assess, although none appear as yet to have been submitted to them.) If pursued, this would I expect be a faster and lower risk route into the solar market relative to developing, producing and selling their own cells. Efficiency and timeline remain as the issues. We're now 1.2 years behind (the initially ambitious) schedule and counting....
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Company response to just issued speeding ticket (as one might expect), everything all right here and on track. What it should be; recently vested options to employees sold into market (who wouldnÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¾Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢t at a immediate 8 or 9 times gain over issue price?).


IsnÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¾Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢t it funny that the very thing that leads Companies to issue options (i.e. incentive to work harder) with the intent of increasing the share price, can also result in short term drops, to that price?


ItÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¾Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢s also funny that the people actually selling such shares (option originated), in effect have to change hats (as it were) when responding to an ASX query, as they are now acting in their official Company role and are thus now ignorant of what they know as individuals. ThatÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¾Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢s the systemÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬ÃƒÆ’â€Å¡Ãƒƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¦ but it still smacks of misdirection.


Oh well thatÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¾Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢s the nature of investing; such opportunities need to be looked for and used when they occur, for better returns over the longer run.


Buy a few thousand today, sell on price increase. Wait for a repeat.


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In reply to: Liquid on Saturday 06/09/08 09:06pm

I don't think he has changed his position. In his latest speech he again mentioned that he was for nuclear power as long as it is "safe and secure".

update - GE Hitachi likely to benefit http://www.sharescene.com/html/emoticons/smile.gif


McCain Nuclear Energy Revival May Cost $315 Billion (Update1)


By Elliot Blair Smith

More Photos/Details


Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- John McCain's plan to revive the U.S. nuclear power industry with 45 new reactors may cost $315 billion, with taxpayers bearing much of the financial risk.


The Republican presidential nominee wants the plants built in time to help the U.S. meet a 29 percent increase in electricity demand by 2030. Industry estimates put their cost at $7 billion each. Barack Obama, McCain's Democratic opponent, is less specific about his plans, saying he wants to ``find ways to safely harness nuclear power.''


Global warming and the rising cost of fossil fuels have boosted chances that atomic energy will supply more U.S. electricity. Public concerns remain about reactor safety and disposing of waste that stays hazardous for millennia. Investment bankers, citing the industry's cost overruns in the 1980s, say they won't finance its long-sought ``nuclear renaissance'' without federal backing.


``Loan guarantees get reactors built, simply put,'' said Kevin Book, senior vice president and energy specialist at the Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. investment banking firm in Arlington, Virginia.


No new nuclear plants have opened in the U.S. since 1996. The 1979 scare at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union damped support for the technology.


Congress in December authorized $18.5 billion in guarantees that cover as much as 80 percent of nuclear plant construction costs -- enough to fund three typical reactors. Three power companies have already applied for the aid.


`Large Obstacle'


Constellation Energy Group Inc. of Baltimore was the first, on July 31. Its vice chairman, Michael Wallace, said in an interview that while the company hasn't decided whether to build a new reactor, securing loan guarantees is ``the last large obstacle in our path.''


Dominion Resources Inc. in Richmond, Virginia, also applied, as did a joint venture between Princeton, New Jersey-based NRG Energy Inc. and Toshiba Corp. of Tokyo. Chicago's Exelon Corp. will ask for the guarantees by month's end, said Thomas O'Neill, the company's vice president of new plant development.


A building boom would benefit developers of nuclear plants, including Paris-based Areva SA; Toshiba's Westinghouse Electric Co. subsidiary in Monroeville, Pennsylvania; and GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a joint venture of General Electric Co., in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Tokyo's Hitachi Ltd.


The Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade group in Washington, says it will ask the next president to expand and extend the loan guarantee program.


Default Rate


The guarantees under the program, which is set to expire next year, require no upfront public spending.


Taxpayers are on the hook only if borrowers default. A 2003 Congressional Budget Office report said the default rate on nuclear construction debts might be as high as 50 percent, in part because of the projects' high costs.


``The nuclear industry has been aggressively going after taxpayer-backed loan guarantees because nuclear technology cannot stand on its own two feet in the marketplace,'' said Allison Fisher, an energy policy analyst for the nonprofit consumer group Public Citizen in Washington.


The Energy Information Administration estimated last year that adding nuclear power capacity would cost $2,143 a kilowatt before financing and inflation. That compared with $1,434 to $2,302 for clean-coal technologies.


Over the past year, the expense has more than doubled to $5,000 a kilowatt, or $7 billion for a typical reactor, utility filings and company statements show. The increase in part reflects rising prices for commodities such as steel and cement.


Uranium Prices Drop


At the same time, uranium prices have dropped. The Standard & Poor's Global Nuclear Energy Index has lost about a third of its value since November.


Arizona Senator McCain called for the 45 reactors by 2030 during a June campaign appearance, citing ``the ultimate goal of 100 new plants.'' The 104 U.S. reactors now operating produce 20 percent of the country's electricity.


Senator Obama, an Illinois Democrat, qualifies his support.


``It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option,'' his energy plan states. ``However, before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, key issues must be addressed, including security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage and proliferation.''


Industry officials say they are encouraged.


``We've told them we think we can move ahead because these conditions can be met,'' said David Brown, vice president of federal affairs at Exelon, which operates 11 reactors in Illinois and six in the mid-Atlantic region, including the surviving Three Mile Island unit.


Exelon in Texas


Exelon is developing a new site in Victoria County in southeast Texas. Since that ``merchant'' plant would sell its power in the marketplace, it wouldn't be subject to state rate regulation. That means the company can't ask a public utility commission to recapture construction costs from customers.


That's the same reason why Constellation's Wallace says his plans for a new reactor in Maryland hinge on federal guarantees.


``Commercial banks, not having experienced new nuclear plant licensing in 30 years -- and with all the uncertainties inherent in the process in the U.S. -- are just not willing'' to provide financing without the supports, he said.


Through its Unistar Nuclear Energy LLC joint venture with the Paris-based utility Electricite de France, the company is developing a merchant power plant in Lusby, Maryland, 56 miles (90 kilometers) west of Washington.


``For the plants that are not regulated, the loan guarantees are essential,'' says Morgan Stanley executive director Caren Byrd, a nuclear finance specialist.


To contact the reporter on this story: Elliot Blair Smith in Washington at esmith29@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: September 11, 2008 10:22 EDT

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Thanks kg. Very interesting. At least there is one significant company in US that wont need to be propped up by the US taxpayer. Augers well for the continuation of the Silex development. Wish I had some spare cash to top up based on the current share price in Australia.
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