- It’s hard to keep up with a global industry.
- Here are some sources to help with the task
- Scroll down for the book list
One thing I learned in the many years that I published my nuclear energy blog is that there can be too much nuclear information. This lesson was brought home with the mind-crushing rush of information that hit the wires during the height of the Fukushima crisis. But what about keeping up with the news on the nuclear industry in ordinary times?
This list was updated in Novembe 2020. Readers are welcome to submit citations for new books which either update current editions or are entirely new in their approach to nuclear energy. Send your suggestions to: neutronbytes [at] gmail [dot] com.
If your employer can afford it, your firm subscribes to one or more of the specialty newsletters that tap in at $2,000 or more per year for a subscription. In return, readers get detailed, expert news and analysis that would never, ever show up in the mainstream news media. I worked for such a specialty newsletter (Fuelcycle Week) for five years and remain grateful for subscriber support since it meant the difference, metaphorically speaking, between a having a roof over my head and sleeping under a bridge.
However, because of copyright restrictions, most of these newsletters contain web beacons or other electronic devices that are designed to stop a firm from buying one subscription and then emailing each issue to its employees. While there is the copy machine dodge, that is so 20th century. Plus, waiting for the inter-office mail to deliver a bootleg copy puts you one day behind your electronically wired-in colleagues.
So, what’s a nuclear pro to do to stay current without shelling out the equivalent of a new car lease down payment? The answer is there are a number of free news services available on the Internet that can go a long way to keep your mental inbox full of interesting stuff. Here’s a short list of free sources.
Nuclear Town Hall – This is a seven-day-a-week, and twice-a-day on weekdays, summary of links to business and political news about nuclear energy. Based in Washington, DC, it has a global perspective and also a special section on nuclear energy OP EDs and opinion pieces. Resolutely pro-nuclear in every respect it even cites nuclear bloggers when it sees something of interest. You can read the updates on the website or subscribe to it by email.
World Nuclear News – This is a five-day-a-week service that publishes short news reports about the global nuclear industry. Based on London, it is available on the website, or via email delivery by the time U.S. readers are pouring their second cup of coffee. A searchable archive allows readers to dig into the background of breaking news.
The World Nuclear Association (WNA) also publishes a Weekly Digest for generalists with more focus on significance and context than World Nuclear News (WNN) . Access it and the archive at: http://bit.ly/2tmxeyX
ANS Smart Brief – Sponsored by the American Nuclear Society, it picks up news clips from the mainstream media and posts a brief summary of about half a dozen of them a day with links to the original source online. The brief is published weekdays except major holidays. Note: The brief was sponsored previously by the Nuclear Energy Institute. The changeover took place in Spring 2018.
ANS News Wire Also sponsored by the American Nuclear Society, it is a daily roundup of interesting nuclear news items plus deep dives into selected topics. This is a news aggregation site with occasional original material.
NucNet – NucNet is an independent global news and information network for the international nuclear community. NucNet maintains a 24-hour-7-day service to report the facts behind nuclear-related news. NucNet collects and shares information and news on nuclear issues, particularly all aspects of the safe operation of nuclear installations and the safe use of ionizing radiation. Some content is behind a firewall.
Nuclear Power Daily – Like ANS Smart Brief, this daily nuclear news summary relies on wire services and other sources. Also, like ANS Smart Brief, it is an advertising supported service.
Google News – Google News allow you to search by keywords and to set up news alerts based on them. You can set up as many alerts as you want and have the alerts delivered by email or RSS feed. You can select instant delivery or once a day.
The Partnership for Global Security (PGS) publishes a biweekly newsletter with briefs on nuclear energy issues and also nonproliferation news. The nonprofit organization is nonpartisan and neutral in tone in its reporting on global developments involving new nuclear programs, projects, and news items.
The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every week. The Forum is recognizes the vital role of nuclear energy as countries around the globe seek sustainable, emissions-free power. It is a project of The Howard Baker Forum’s U.S.-Japan Roundtable on Nuclear Energy Cooperation.
Nuclear Energy blogs are a great source of information often posting news in specialized developments days or weeks ahead of the mainstream news media. A good starting place is the blog roll list of links on this blog.
Titans of Nuclear – Titans of Nuclear is a podcast featuring interviews with experts on nuclear energy. Bret Kugelmass told this blog, “my drive for solving climate change led me to meet with hundreds of nuclear energy experts.” Links – Topics
Radio Nuclear – RadioNuclear was established in 2017 by ANS member and show host Doug Hardtmayer, RadioNuclear aims to cover all pertinent topics related to the nuclear industry. Bi-weekly episodes are available. These episodes of information-filled podcasts consist of recent news, plus a special guest. Radio Nuclear is presented by the American Nuclear Society and links to podcasts are posted at the ANS Nuclear Cafe. Link – Episodes
Pocket Guide to Nuclear Energy The World Nuclear Association (WNA) Pocket Guide WNA’s 2018/19 new combined Pocket Guide (PDF file) brings together useful facts on four key topics. It is 44 pages of plain English facts at your finger tips.
- Nuclear Power, Energy and the Environment
- Nuclear Power Reactor Characteristics
- Uranium, Mine to Mill.
Nuclear Power, Energy and the Environment – How much carbon dioxide does each energy source emit? Which countries have the highest and lowest emissions of CO2 ? How can nuclear energy help combat climate change?
What is radiation? Where does it come from? How can it be measured? What steps can be taken to protect against high doses of radiation?
Nuclear Power Reactor Characteristics – How do nuclear power plants work? What are the different types of reactors in use? Which countries have chosen nuclear to meet their electricity needs?
Uranium, Mine to Mill – Where does uranium come from? Which countries are the largest producers? How is uranium extracted and processed to produce nuclear fuel?
U.S. Department of Energy – The Ultimate Fast Facts Guide to Nuclear Energy This pamphlet is a fast read, with pictures, (16 page PDF file) about commercial nuclear energy in the U.S. Excellent resource for high school students.
There is another “what to read” issue, and that is how to answer questions from in-laws, friends, and the occasional non-nuclear colleagues who genuinely want to know more about nuclear energy. Here’s a reading list that you can clip and save. All of these books are in print and most can be found in a public library or through inter-library loan. The major online book selling services stock these volumes.
A cheap way to get many of these books is to buy an e-reader from any of the major vendor with a 7-8″ screen which is all you really need if you are using the device just for books. A google search shows dozens of product for about $100 or less with enough storage (16 Gb) for dozens of books. Many of these devices can expand their storage with SD cards. Examples include various Kindle[tm] models from Amazon as well as Android tablets from Samsung, Levono, and Vanko.
Three must reads – Start here
The Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy, by Gwyneth Cravens
Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, by Scott L. Montgomery (New)
Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, by Stewart Brand
Recommended reading for generalists
Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Charles D. Ferguson
Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century, by Ian Hore-Lacy (Updated to new edition in 2020)
The Reporter’s Handbook on Nuclear Materials, Energy, and Waste Management, by Michael Greenberg et.al
Nuclear Firsts: Milestone on the Road to Nuclear Power Development, by Gail Marcus
The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference, by Ted Rockwell
Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor, by Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang
Nuclear Silk Road: The Koreanization of Nuclear Power Technology, by Byung-Koo Kim
Station Blackout: Inside the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and Recovery by Charles A. Casto (new in 2019)
Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters: From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima by James Mahaffey (new in 2019)
Physics for Future Presidents, by Richard A. Muller
The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes
The Spread of Nuclear Weapons, by Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz
Radiation and Reason, by Wade Allison (2015 post Fukushima edition); download full text at link)
Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock that Shaped the World, by Tom Zoellner
Thorium Energy, Cheaper than Coal, Robert Hargraves
Super Fuel; Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future, Richard Martin
Sustainable Development / Climate Change / Environment / Advocacy
Storms of my Grandchildren, by James Hansen
The GeoPolitics of Energy: Achieving a Just and Sustainable Energy Distribution by 2040, by Judith Wright and James Conca
Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air, by David JC MacKay
Why We Need Nuclear Power – the Environmental Case – Michael H. Fox
Campaigning for Clean Air: Strategies for Pro-Nuclear Advocacy – Meredith Angwin (new in 2018)
A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow Joshua S. Goldstein & Staffan A. Qvist (new in 2019).
Federal Government Reports
Spent Nuclear Fuel
A good starting point to understand spent nuclear fuel is the Blue Ribbon Commission report which is a useful volume. It is an excellent report and is accessible, for the most part, for people who have no technical background in nuclear energy.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) was formed by the Secretary of Energy at the request of the President to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and recommend a new strategy. It was co-chaired by Rep. Lee H. Hamilton and (the late) Gen. Brent Scowcroft.
The Commission and its subcommittees met more than two dozen times between March 2010 and January 2012 to hear testimony from experts and stakeholders, to visit nuclear waste management facilities in the United States and abroad, and to discuss the issues identified in its Charter.
Additionally, in 2011, the Commission held five public meetings, in different regions of the country, to hear feedback on its draft report. A wide variety of organizations, interest groups, and individuals provided input to the Commission at these meetings and through the submission of written materials.
This report highlights the Commission’s findings and conclusions and presents recommendations for consideration by the Administration and Congress, as well as interested state, tribal and local governments, other stakeholders, and the public.
In 2016 the Department of Energy is pursuing a “consent based” approach to locating a site for final disposition for spent nuclear fuel.
Reports / Studies by Nongovernmental Organizations
American Nuclear Society – Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
On Friday, March 11, 2011, one of the largest earthquakes in the recorded history of the world occurred on the east coast of northern Japan. This earthquake also generated a major tsunami, causing nearly 20,000 deaths. Electricity, gas and water supplies, telecommunications, and railway service were all severely disrupted and in many cases completely shut down. These disruptions severely affected the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing a loss of all on-site and off-site power and a release of radioactive materials from the reactors.
The leadership of the American Nuclear Society commissioned the American Nuclear Society Special Committee on Fukushima to provide a clear and concise explanation of what happened during the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and offer recommendations based on lessons learned from their study of the event. The American Nuclear Society, a professional organization of 11,600 nuclear science and technology professionals, has a strong tradition of advancing nuclear safety, and the Special Committee on Fukushima was organized to further its members’ interests in this important professional obligation.
The release of this report is the culmination of a nearly year-long effort by Special Committee members to analyze a range of factors related to what happened at the Fukushima Daiichi facility. The report was officially released at a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. ANS Executive Director Robert Fine made opening remarks and introductions. Drs. Dale Klein and Mike Corradini, the Special Committee co-chairs, lead the discussion of the report and the Q&A session. Special Committee members Paul Dickman — who also served as study director — and Jacopo Buongiorno, lead for regulatory issues, also appeared on the discussion panel.
The report, special videos from the press conference, and other materials can be found here.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Nuclear Energy in China
In The Future of Nuclear Power in China, Mark Hibbs identifies and analyzes the challenges facing Chinese decision makers in developing and deploying nuclear power technology through mid-century. Will China succeed where others have failed in transitioning from existing reactor designs to advanced technologies? Can China’s nuclear program continue to expand at the rapid pace of the last two decades? Or will reduced growth, market forces, and corporatism slow reactor building to a crawl, as in Western countries? How will China manage greater nuclear risks? What will emerging Chinese nuclear leadership mean for multilateral nuclear governance?
Download the Executive Summary or the Full Report (PDF files) here.
Nuclear Innovation Alliance – Leading on SMRs
The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) has released recommendations to support the development and commercialization of small modular reactors (SMRs) by U.S. companies.
The report provides guidance for state and federal governments to accelerate both light water and non-light water SMR design availability to meet global energy challenges and national security imperatives.
On a global scale, the report notes that SMRs have the potential to help meet growing international energy demand, as nations work to lift billions of people out of poverty. These technologies offer an alternative to traditional, large light water reactors with power outputs that can better match the scale of developing world energy needs. SMRs have enhanced safety cases and operational flexibility, including the ability to better complement variable energy sources such as wind and solar.
The Alliance has a number of reports on advanced nuclear technologies and ways to stimulate their development. See the organization’s home page for a listing.
US Nuclear Energy Leadership: Innovation and the Strategic Global Challenge
by Atlantic Council task force on US nuclear energy leadership May 2019
Throughout 2018, the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center convened a “Task Force on US Nuclear Energy Leadership,” which comprised civilian and military experts in foreign policy, defense, and nuclear energy. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) served as honorary co-chairs of the Task Force. This report, entitled “US Nuclear Energy Leadership: Innovation and the Strategic Global Challenge,” is the result of these efforts.
The Task Force found that a flourishing domestic nuclear energy sector is critical to US national security, both in the interconnections between military and civilian uses of nuclear energy, as well as in foreign policy. This report recommends maintaining and expanding the current nuclear fleet; creating a conducive regulatory environment for innovation and new technologies; and encouraging and facilitating nuclear energy exports.
Raising the Next Generation of Nuclear: A Road Map for Deployment (2020)
Policy Recommendations for development of advanced nuclear reactors – web link
Policy Advisor, Climate and Energy Program, THIRD WAY
Right now, we have an opportunity to accelerate the development and deployment of advanced nuclear technology in a way that aligns to the scale of the climate challenge- but to do this, American innovators and the US government must work together to build a new and ambitious policy agenda creating a 2.0 version of advanced nuclear innovation. Over the last decade there has been significant technological, financial, and policy progress toward developing advanced nuclear reactors in the US. There are multiple designs that can be built before 2030, but this will require partnerships between the public and private sectors to scale up quickly. Primarily- this means providing the infrastructure and funding to develop and commercialize multiple American advanced nuclear power plants by the end of the next decade. As we enter this next phase, we’ve outlined the policy goals that need to be addressed, and the steps Congress and federal agencies should take to put American advanced reactors on the fast track to commercialization.
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If you have a favorite news source, or best book on nuclear energy, please post your suggestions in the comments or send me a Tweet @djysrv