On Tuesday of this week, President Obama announced construction plans for the first new U.S. nuclear power plant (actually two new reactors at an existing plant) in almost three decades. Touting the benefits that nuclear power offers to the environment (in particular, fewer carbon emissions as compared to similar-sized coal burning plants), the U.S. government will back $8.33 billion in loans for the reactor additions to the Alvin Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Burke, Georgia. The loans program is run by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and has previously sponsored infrastructure projects concerning wind turbines and cleaner coal burning power plants.
President Obama announced our nuclear power revival at a Maryland training center for specialized electrical trades, including those needed to construct this type of massive project. Once again, as alluded to in my last blog, current national news helps explain why the Energy sector is currently accounting for 10% of all new U.S. construction work. A brief review of this white paper helps explain in greater detail, with some intriguing photographs, what is generally involved in this type of work. It’s clearly not a garden-variety construction effort. The Georgia project expects to create approximately 3500 construction jobs. The construction schedule would likely begin next year and span for another six years into 2017. Now armed with a few data points, it’s easier for me to see why the President is a big supporter of a renewed nuclear power focus: these projects require lots of highly-skilled labor, they facilitate his clean power agenda, and they create and sustain new jobs over a span of many years.
The attached video provides a good overview of how a nuclear power plant operates. One can imagine, while watching this, the extensive amount of high-quality pipe-fitting and welding required for the cooling systems in particular. I was surprised to learn that about 20% of the United States’ electricity generation is currently attributable to nuclear power plants. We’ll go through the full array of various electrical power sources in our upcoming Energy Infrastructure article on the Operations Channel.
If you have any additional information on our national nuclear power program that would supplement this blog, leave a comment below.
Andrew Kimos completed the civil engineering programs at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (B.S. 1987) and the University of Illinois (M.S. 1992) and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Wisconsin. He served as a design engineer, construction project manager, facilities engineer, and executive leader in the Coast Guard for over 20 years. He worked as a regional airline pilot in the western U.S. before joining the Buildipedia.com team as Operations Channel Producer.Website: buildipedia.com/channels/operations