Les Echos: “Nuclear freeze beginning to thaw”


One of France’s top business daily papers, Les Echos, recently published an opinion on Nuclear growth in 2012 after a Post-Fukushima slowdown stating, “But as 2012 begins, it is becoming clear that the freeze is beginning to thaw. And the BRICS nations [Brazil, India, and China] will lead the way.”

Les Echos describes the global pause in nuclear efforts after Fukushima, but suggest that, “seven months later, however, nuclear power suddenly looks as if it may be on the comeback trail.” They make their case for this point saying:

Even if the Japanese disaster didn’t mobilize anti-nuclear activists in the United States the way it did in Europe, U.S. authorities still decided to put new nuclear power plant projects on hold. That construction freeze, however, is now beginning to thaw.

On Dec. 22, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced its approval of the latest version of Westinghouse Electric’s AP1000 reactor design. Analysts hailed the move as a symbolic step toward new atomic power plant construction in the United States.

The United States isn’t the only large western power ready to delve back into nuclear energy. The British government, concerned about diminishing North Sea oil reserves and keen to limit its dependence of foreign fossil fuels, has decided to build a dozen nuclear plants between now and 2020. The decision had almost universal support in the British parliament, where it was supported by both the Conservative and Labour parties…

The principal emerging powers – notably China, India, Brazil and South Africa – likewise put their respective nuclear programs on hold during the months that followed Fukushima.

The article goes on to describe the basic calculations spurring these energy policy choices:

With growth rates of more than 5%, these emerging economies are going to need more and more energy, especially given their role as the globalized world’s new centers of manufacturing. Nuclear energy offers these countries obvious benefits, particarly in terms of cost.

In China, there are no fewer than 25 nuclear reactors currently under construction. Authorities are considering even more nuclear projects that together could make China the world’s biggest nuclear energy producer by 2030.

India has proposed upping the percentage of electricity it generates from nuclear plants from the current 3% to 25% by 2050. And between now and 2030 Brazil plans to build between four and eight new atomic power plants.

According to the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), between 90 and 350 new reactors will be built worldwide over the next 20 years. Most of those will be in emerging countries.

The English version of article is here.

Tags: Fukushima, Les Echos, opinion

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