Atomic Show #228 – Energiewende status

On November 18, 2014, I participated in a round table discussion hosted by the Global American Business Institute (GABI) and the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER). The guest speaker for the round table was Georg Maue, First Secretary for Climate and Energy, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington, DC. The topic of his talk was Energiewende Today: Status of Germany’s Energy Transition.

As explained by my hosts when I obtained permission to use my recording of the discussion for an Atomic Show podcast, all of the round tables that GABI hosts are “on the record.”

There were approximately 20 people in who participated in the discussion. The speaker gave us permission to ask questions at any point during the presentation, which led to a reasonably lively discussion by people with questioning attitudes and curious minds.

There were a number of apparent nuclear energy supporters in the room. During the discussions after the meeting, I made a number of useful contacts.

When you listen to the audio, pay close attention to the woman with the German accent who has a different view of energy than the one promoted by the German government. It was refreshing to hear her insightful questions.

I took several key pieces of information away from this discussion:

  • The Energiewende calculations include an assumption that the German population will shrink by 10% before 2050.
  • Calculations assume a 50% improvement in energy efficiency; Germany is not on track to meet that challenging goal.
  • The representative of the German government who spoke thought it would be fantastic if the market would choose Russian gas over German lignite.
  • The German government claims that market decisions are the most important factor in the course of the Energiewende given the preexisting condition that the government has imposed the nuclear phase out policy and implemented several policies that strongly support sanctioned energy sources like solar and wind.
  • Germany would prefer to import hard coal than import the same energy equivalent in uranium.
  • Biofuels count as “zero carbon” and “renewable” in the Energiewende.

My ability to attend this meeting was assisted by generous Atomic Insights readers and Atomic Show listeners who have provided financial contributions and other support that helps to keep traveling costs within reach. If you like the show and would like to hear more like it, please make a value-for-value contribution using the button below.

Note: Atomic Insights LLC is a for-profit company. We have chosen a business model that gives our product the widest possible distribution. We ask people who like the product to pay what they think it is worth for them to have the product and for us to provide it freely to others.

So far, that model is working out pretty well. It helps keep the site ad-free, with content dictated by reader/listener interest.


Atomic Show #227 – Carmen Bigles, Coqui Radiopharmaceuticals

CarmenBigles-headshot-205x300Coqui Radiopharmaceuticals is a start-up company founded in 2009 with a laser focus on solving a problem affecting the health of tens of thousands of people. The founder, Carmen Bigles, noticed that many of the patients arriving at her clinic had not been properly diagnosed and discovered that the reason for that condition was an insufficient supply of molybdenum-99 to provide technetium-99 for diagnostic nuclear medicine. She recognized that the problem was a solvable one and believed that she had the experience and ability to build a team capable of producing a long term solution.

Ms. Bigles determined that there were proven solutions available, and recognized that the already existing shortage of Mo-99 could not be reliably and promptly solved by starting up a research and development project using novel, unproven ideas.

Her approach to problem solving in this case was to adopt the same solution that had worked for others and to determine the straightest path towards implementing that solution here in the United States.

The path she and her team have chosen is not without risk, but much of the risk in the project comes from regulatory uncertainty and the financial uncertainty that is inherent in a boutique market that has, up until now, been dominated by government-owned, multipurpose facilities that can often afford to sell product at a price that cannot be matched by a private industry.

The perceived regulatory risk can be illustrated with a quote from an article in the November 2014 issue of Nuclear News titled “The Campaign to Resume Domestic Production of Molybdenum.”

Taking on what may be the biggest regulatory challenge is Coqui Pharmaceuticals, a Puerto Rico-based venture that would not only produce reactor-based fission product Mo-99, but would do so in reactors that do not yet exist, and therefore must be permitted and licensed through the NRC.
(Nuclear News, Nov 2014, pg 41)

Despite the doubters, Coqui Radiopharmaceuticals has developed what appears to be a very workable plan, built a strong team, and has engaged consistently with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Just before Ms. Bigles and I spoke, I received a copy of the following press release indicating the achievement of one more milestone on a lengthy, but rewarding journey.


Ashley Torres –
Laura Stace –

Nuclear Engineering Firm Chosen as Designer and General Contractor for Florida
Medical Isotope Production Facility

Coral Gables, Fla. (Nov. 20, 2014) — Coquí RadioPharmaceuticals Corp., a medical isotope company working to become the first U.S. commercial producer of Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), is proud to announce it has formally signed a contract with INVAP to design its Medical Isotope Production Facility (MIPF) in Alachua, Fla. Mo-99 is the parent isotope of Technetium-99, which is used in 80 percent of nuclear medicine procedures worldwide. In 2012, Congress passed legislation making it a national priority to produce Mo-99, an isotope necessary to detect a wide range of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Argentine nuclear engineering firm INVAP has been involved in nuclear development for more than 30 years. During that time it has worked on more than 15 nuclear reactors and related facilities across the world, including several reactors used to produce medical isotopes. Among these is the OPAL reactor in Australia, the ETRR-2 reactor in Egypt, and the NUR reactor in Algeria. Coquí Pharma’s MIPF will use an open pool reactor technology similar to that employed in the INVAP-designed OPAL facility in Australia.

“The signing of this contract cements a key step in implementing proven technology to produce Mo-99 for patients requiring lifesaving medical diagnostics,” said Carmen I. Bigles, Coquí Pharma President and CEO. “Today, Coquí Pharma together with INVAP has built a bridge between the U.S. and Argentina, uniting our efforts to ensure the availability and reliability of the most essential radioisotope in nuclear medicine and with the added benefit of making the world a safer place for generations to come by utilizing proven non-proliferation, low-enriched uranium technologies.”

Coquí Pharma is preparing its construction permit application for submission to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Coquí Pharma will utilize existing commercially proven technology with tested designs to license and build a facility that has the capability of reliably supplying a large portion of the U.S. market and international needs.

Due to recent and future projected shortages, the issue of U.S. domestic medical isotope production has been discussed at great length within the industry and U.S. federal government. Coquí Pharma reviewed options available to manufacture Mo-99 and determined that only the INVAP process provides a real, tangible and reliable solution to solve the medical isotope crisis.

# # #

Coquí RadioPharmaceuticals Corp.

Coquí RadioPharmaceuticals Corp. is a medical isotope company, dedicated to the production of Molybdenum-99, which is used in 20 million procedures each year in the U.S. The Puerto Rican company is based in Coral Gables with the mission to bring the foremost medical isotope production facility in the Western Hemisphere to Alachua, Florida, and to create a commercially scalable, reliable supply of medical diagnostic and therapeutic radioisotopes in the U.S. For more information on Coquí RadioPharmaceuticals, visit


Northwest wind takes a week-long vacation

BPA Nov19-Nov25

Some Atomic Insights readers don’t like it when I use the term “unreliables” to describe weather dependent power sources like wind and solar energy. They believe that word is demeaning and not entirely accurate, especially in certain system designs where wind turbines are partnered with hydro or pumped storage. Even in that situation, however, the […]

Read more »

Paul Wilson & Bret Bennington vs Arnie Gundersen & Heidi Hutner on Nuclear Sustainability

On Nov 20, 2014, Hofstra University hosted its annual Pride and Purpose Debate. This year’s proposition was the following – “Should nuclear energy be expanded to help create a more sustainable future?” The debate included the following panelists: For – J Bret Bennington, professor of geology, Department of Geology, Environment and Sustainability at Hofstra University. […]

Read more »

Shaping public perceptions of radiation risk

Note: The below is part of a longer work in progress. Comments and corrections are greatly appreciated. On Monday, November 17, the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 5544, the Low Dose Radiation Research Act, which called for the National Academies to “conduct a study assessing the current status and development of a long-term strategy […]

Read more »

Power In New England: Why are Prices Increasing so Rapidly?

On October 20, IBM announced that it was spinning off its chip division by paying GlobalFoundries $1.5 billion. GlobalFoundaries appears to have won the deal with its geographic position of owning fabrication facilities in New York as well as in Germany and Malaysia. The move didn’t surprise many, as there have been rumors that IBM […]

Read more »

Atomic Show #226 – Nuclear tour de France reunion

On Wednesday, November 12, I got together with two friends. The three of us were 60% of a group of five writers and bloggers given the opportunity to visit a sampling of nuclear facilities in France owned and operated by Areva. That experience helped form a strong bond. We missed our other two companions from […]

Read more »

World Nuclear Association discussion on radiation protection

I just received a link to a fascinating podcast from the World Nuclear Association about the risks associated with attempting to protect the public from low doses of radiation. It was posted almost a month ago on October 14, 2014. I apologize for initially missing this important recording and failing to bring it to your […]

Read more »

Atomic Show #225 – ANS Winter Meeting Leadership Perspectives

The American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting is in progress in Anaheim, CA. I was not able to attend the meeting this year, but I was able to arrange to talk to a couple of people who were there. Guests on this episode of the Atomic Show include Gene Grecheck, the Vice President and incoming President […]

Read more »

Atomic Show #224 – Dr. John Boice NCRP

From front page of June 13, 1956 New York Times. Right column headline.

On November 11, 2014, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. John Boice, the President of the National Council on Radiation Protection. Dr. Boice has had a long and distinguished career in radiation protection and is currently leading a multi-decade effort known as the Million Worker Study to investigate the evidence that has been […]

Read more »

Who fights energy abundance? Why?

On November 6, 2014, immediately after the midterm election results became available, National Review Online published an article by Kevin D. Williamson titled With Energy, More Is More: An Economic Agenda for the New GOP Majority. Long time readers of Atomic Insights will know that I lean way to the left on the political spectrum […]

Read more »

Open letter to advisory bodies about LNT consequences – revised

Last week I pointed out that Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information (SARI) had submitted a letter to a number of scientific advisory groups requesting that they provide clear guidance to governments on the lack of harm associated with exposure to the residual radioactive materials released from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. That initial post also provided […]

Read more »