Renew On Line (UK) number73
|Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 173 May-June 2008
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
11. Nuclear News
Euro Parliament ‘backs Nuclear’
According to the Nuclear Industries Association, Members of the European Parliament have ‘overwhelmingly voted in favour of a report that states that nuclear energy will be indispensable if the EU is to meet its basic energy needs in the medium term’. The report, ‘Conventional Energy Sources and Energy Technology’ was adopted with 509 votes in favour, 153 against and 30 abstentions. It was drafted by Herbert Reul from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats in the European Parliament. It says that nuclear energy is a key component of power supply in most EU member states, providing one third of the EU’s electricity, so that nuclear was ‘indispensable if basic energy needs are to be met in Europe in the medium term’. Given that ‘nuclear energy is currently the largest low-carbon dioxide energy source in Europe’, the pro-nuclear MEP’s, added ‘the renunciation of nuclear power will make it impossible to achieve the objectives set regarding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the combating of climate change’. European energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said that ‘It will be difficult... to achieve our climate change goals without the use of nuclear energy’.
Foratom, the trade body for the European nuclear power industry, said in a release that the acceptance of the report was ‘highly significant’ as it was the first explicit endorsement of nuclear power as ‘the largest low-carbon energy source in Europe’. A triumph then for the pro-nuclear lobbyists..
The MEPs stressed that conventional sources would remain highly important in ensuring the EU’s security of supply, but the EU should redouble R&D efforts towards ‘enhancing the efficiency of energy production and supply, reducing environmental consequences, improving the safety of existing technologies, developing storage techniques for renewables and developing new generations of nuclear reactors’. So it’s not just nuclear. The MEP’s also stressed the significant potential of energy generation from biomass, the need for the EU to support synthetic fuels technology and, with a view to the diversification of gas imports, the importance of liquefied natural gas.
Source: Nuclear Industries Association, Oct
* Time was when the Euro-parliament was fairly anti-nuclear, with Germany, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Ireland etc. banning it or promoting phase outs. They still are, but now that many ex-Soviet countries, with their left-over nuclear programmes, are also on board, the balance seems to have tilted towards nuclear- many are desperate to avoid importing Russian gas and see nuclear as the way out. You might also say the same of the UK, with John Hutton seeming to ditch the more nuanced and concillatory approach adopted earlier (see p. 7), and now saying his ambition was to make the UK ‘the number one place in the world for companies to do business in new nuclear’ with talk of nuclear supplying 30-40% of UK electricty.
Egypt’s nuclear plans
Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak has said that the country is to build several nuclear power plants and will seek to co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the USA in developing the plants- which will help Egypt meet the twin goals of rising energy demand and improved energy security. ‘We believe that energy security is a major part of building the future for this country and an integral part of Egypt’s national security system’, said Mubarak. He added that the civil programme would work ‘within a framework of transparency and respect of commitments to the nuclear non-proliferation system’.
Modern Power Systems commented ‘Egypt froze its nuclear programme 20 years ago after the Chernobyl accident. However, demand for electricity is rising at seven per cent per year and has forced Mubarak to revisit the issue. The prospect of new nuclear build in the country will open investment opportunities for equipment makers. France’s Areva is thought likely to gain contracts due to its close historical ties with Egypt. Other countries in the region that have announced peaceful nuclear ambitions include Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.’
Seems the nuclear Genie is very much out of the bottle..
Security of supply?
‘Uranium supply is unlikely to limit nuclear power for at least the lifetime of a new generation of nuclear reactors, were there to be one’. DBERR UK ‘Energy Markets Outlook’ 2007.
Is it really expanding?
There’s an almost surreal gap opening up between the nuclear enthusiasts, who look to expansion, and their opponents. Thus the anti-nuclear World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2007 claims that plans for UK expansion were likely to be jepordised by an accute shortage of skilled engineers and manufacturing bottle-knecks. Moreover, even the ones we had weren’t operating well- with nearly half out of operation for some of last winter. Overall, even when fully working, the UK’s plants now only supply 18.3% of UK electricity, compared to 22% 4 years ago. Meanwhile, the report noted, globally, there were now 439 reactors operating, 5 fewer than 5 years ago and 32 units said to be under construction- 20 fewer than 5 years ago. In the EU 27, the number of operating plants had fallen from 177 in 1989 to 146 now- and progress on building Finlands Olkiluoto plant, the first in Europe for many years, is now evidently two years behind schedule with the expected cost overrun put at over $1bn. German Green MEP Rebecca Harms commented ‘it seems clear that the grandoise ambitions of the nuclear industry will remain in the realm of fantasy’.
Last gasp? At the Annual EU Energy Policy Conference last year, Deutsche Bank AG said that since existing nuclear plants are profitable, why not extend their lifetime and tax the profits to pay for renewables...
Can it actually expand?
“The world’s nuclear energy industry will be unable to generate the energy needed to manage its own waste.” The world’s supply of uranium ore is now so depleted that the nuclear industry may already have passed the point at which it is able to supply the energy needed even to dispose of its own wastes. In his latest report, ‘The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy, A Life-Cycle in Trouble’, UK energy economist David Fleming details how the nuclear industry will be forced to become a major net user of energy, almost all of it from fossil fuels. ‘The evidence is clear: even under the most optimistic scenarios for uranium supplies, the industry will face ‘energy bankruptcy’ in a matter of decades’, says Fleming.
The UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Agency seems to be facing problems- evidently it hasn’t got enough resources to clean up everything that needs it, at least not straight away, so it’s focussing initially on the worst sites- Sellafield and Dounreay. Sounds like even the projected £70 bn that is said to be needed for the UK clean up may not be enough..
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