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Hillary wants to build (nuclear) Temelín 3, 4

Hillary Clinton is visiting Prague today – and even the official Iranian newspapers took notice. Her visit has one goal: she will try to convince Karel Schwarzenberg, her Czech counterpart, that Westinghouse, Toshiba's U.S. branch, is the better candidate to complete the Temelín nuclear power plant.

Both Clinton and Schwarzenberg are ministers of foreign affairs; both of them are potential future presidents, too. However, Hillary's candidacy isn't yet official while Schwarzenberg whose candidacy already is official doesn't have too high chances to win the office in the January 2013 direct elections.

Temelín in South Bohemia (Google Maps) has been running two 1,000 MW reactors for a decade; two more 1,000 MW are likely to be built. There were three candidates – French, American, Russian. France's Areva was said by our semi-state-owned electric utility company ČEZ not to obey the conditions of the tender. It was eliminated but appealed so its case is being studied by the anti-monopoly office now.

The remaining two contestants are Westinghouse (U.S.) and Atomstroyexport (Russia). The existing Temelín reactors are based on a combined Russian-American technology and, despite this explosive mixture of Russian mechanics and American control equipment, it is free of safety shortcomings according to the IAEA's report published a week ago or so.

Czechia has one more nuclear power plant in Moravia, Dukovany. In total, nuclei contribute 1/3 to our production and the percentage would increase to 1/2 if Temelín is expanded as planned. Of course, various factors, especially possibly dropping electricity prices, may still doom the project.

It's understandable that the whole governments are trying to intervene: the Temelín expansion contract is worth $10-$15 billion. On the other hand, I don't quite understand whether such visits of politicians may influence the process – and if they may influence it, whether it's legal and whether it's ethical.

The American company has a political advantage – Czechia has surely considered itself to be closer to the U.S. than Russia for 23 years; America is viewed as a more credible partner. On the other hand, the Russian company has an industrial advantage because various Czech companies would be likely to participate in the construction if the Russian side wins. Dr Ms Dana Drábová, our nuclear watchdog in chief, says that the Russian project has the usual flaws of likely problems in enforcing construction quality and supervision; the problem of the U.S. project is that it hasn't been tested – two blocks in China and two blocks in the U.S. are under construction now.

Schlafenberg and Hillary

Aside from the nuclear power plant, they may talk about three more topics: collaboration in Syria where the Czech embassy represents the American diplomatic interests (Hillary recommended Assad a great idea to use chemical weapons by telling him not to do so); issues of the Czech-American treaty on investments; possibility of exploiting U.S. supersonic fighters in the Czech Air Forces.

Military aircraft are a controversial topic here – some previously popular politicians are facing investigation because the purchase of Spanish CASA aicraft for $200 million a few years ago has been claimed to be a very bad deal by some people. There is some kind of a hysteria about this deal – it's being used to strengthen the widespread meme and myth that all politicians are criminals – even though the best thing that someone presented was an evaluation indicating that the price should have been $40 million lower.

I am utterly unimpressed by this sort of criticism. You may always find a posteriori audits claiming that the price should have been lower or higher; you obviously can't treat officials like criminals whenever you can achieve such a thing (which is really almost always). One may only convict people if they break the law – and the laws must always balance the efficiency of catching the misbehaving people and the ability of the business to creatively operate despite these laws. And even if the money could have been easily saved, $40 million isn't a big deal as a fraction of the money that the government wastes every year. In my opinion, the officials such as Ms Vlasta Parkanová (a former defense minister and pro-missile-defense singer) are almost certainly innocent (even if they didn't prove to be the most competent ones in similar issues) unless millions are found under their floor or boxes with wine. It's bad that they're being harassed and it's bad that so many people got brainwashed by this anti-democratic demagogy.

By a complete coincidence (or not?), today the Swedes lowered the price of their gripens that the Czech army may offer to replace Russian MIGs by 10 percent. It was announced by defense minister and ex-dissident Vondra who announced his political retirements just a few days ago.

Adrenaline in Tel Aviv

Look at this November 17th, 2012 video from Tel Aviv.

The Iron Dome – the top part of the Israeli missile defense system – seems to be so efficient (85% interception rate in the recent conflict with Hamas, counted from the 400 missiles fired to populated places; 1100 other missiles were correctly identified as fired to harmless locations) that even Hillary Clinton and the far-left wing U.K. daily The Independent admitted it deserves to be called a breakthrough. On that day, two Fajr-5 rockets were refused entry into Tel Aviv.

More sensible, listen to engineer "Ari" at Fox News. One Iron Dome missile costs about $50,000 (missiles expected to land away from civilian targets are ignored; that's a good idea because a generic Qassam missile may be built just for $800). About 400 hostile missiles were recently intercepted. Lots of good was done for $20 million, lots of praise has been earned by Amir Peretz, a left-wing ex-defense minister who was able to see the future through covered binoculars.

A light bulb revolution?

A new type of a light bulb is as efficient as LED bulbs, has better, more white light, is flexible, the color is adjustable.

FIPEL light bulbs are based on field-induced polymer electroluminiscence and could be sold commercially as early as in 2013. If the price is OK enough, that would probably mean an early death for the fluorescent light bulbs in particular.

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snail feedback (13) :

reader papertiger0 said...

This is the best article on fipel I've found.

It has a link to the scientific paper;

"Effect of multi-walled carbon nanotubes on electron injection and charge generation in AC field-induced polymer electroluminescence" and a chart comparing the dispersion patterns of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) across various voltages.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Look like a good one. It seems attractive, doesn't it? I haven't seen one yet but based on these descriptions and no other data, I would describe it as a good idea to replace both Edison and fluorescence light bulbs with this stuff.

reader papertiger0 said...

I'm excited. With this stuff the end table could be the light it's self. Or they could make a fitted cover for a table out of the bulb.

reader Harry Rossignol said...

You almost came close to understanding why the Hildebeast is visiting and why Foreign Ministers are involved in Nuclear Power sales.

I.E. Iran took notice that the US was actively promoting nuclear power in a country that wasn't named Iran. Iran having been accused of using it's civilian nuclear power program as a ruse to cover up a military nuclear weapons program.

The message is clear...with proper transparency and good relations the US doesn't have a problem with 'civilian nuclear power'.

reader Luboš Motl said...

OK, Hillary was primarily defending the interests of a U.S.-Japanese company. Nuclear energy doesn't have to be promoted in Czechia - almost everyone is supporting it - and Czechia is very far from being special by its using nuclear power plants because many countries have some nuclear power plants. Still, my country has no ambitions to boast with nuclear warheads. One can't even construct a remotely convincing case that something could be nonpeaceful about our program.

Transparency is indeed a "must" here - because of the peaceful safety and Austrian worries, we know quite something about it. And I tend to think that even when risks for a violent nuclear program were low, it's logical for the U.S. to encourage the nuclear power in allied countries and discourage in the non-allied ones.

reader papertiger0 said...

Why are the Austrians worried? Do they fear the mighty Czech arsenal?

Once Czechia gets missile tech, it's Heidi bar the door.

What an ego on them Austrians, thinking folks have designs on their snow and chamber music.

I would think it's Brussels who should be worried.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Austrians are of course not worried about any weapons. They're worried about the safety of the peaceful facilities, some of them, because they still (partly rightfully) think of us as about dirty East Europeans of a sort, although better than others. Both our power plants are less than 50 km from their borders - which is not too unusual because 1/2 of our territory is 50 km or less from some borders haha.

And they just don't know any nuclear technology and arguably don't need it, having Alps with amazing hydro energy in them etc. Combine it with the traditional agricultural character of the Austrian nation (Czechia has always been the industrial heart of the Austrian monarchy) and you will get enough explanation for the significantly different attitudes to nuclear energy in our two countries.

reader charles hart said...


You might find this talk interesting regarding Czech nuclear power trends. I am a big fan of molten salt thorium reactor technology.

"Milo Hron of Czech Republic's University of West Bohemia speaks at ThEC12 on the development of a new nuclear reactor concept with liquid fuel based on molten fluorides for reducing the amount and hazard of nuclear waste and an effective changeover to Th-U233 fuel cycle in the frame of the national project.

Presented at Thorium Energy Conference 2012 (ThEC12) hosted by the International Thorium Energy Organisation (IThEO)."

reader Luboš Motl said...

Good for us, Hron is doing this research on the other side of Pilsen, 3 miles from here. It's still a long shot. I like his conventional Pilsner accent. It's one I should have kept; what I developed later is more obscure a hybrid. ;-)

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