The Nuclear Renaissance’s funky finance

Funky Town Finance Meets The Nuclear Renaissance :: The Market Oracle  by Andrew McKillop (Project Director, GSO Consulting Associates Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission )30 Sept 10, Like a Marlene Dietrich show in a remake of 1945 Berlin, surrounded by Soviet troop hordes, the nuclear sales show has to go on. The vaunted “Nuclear Renaissance” which is being proclaimed by the industry could see more than 200 new reactors built during the 2010-2020 decade, rivalling the industry’s previous high-water mark of 1975-1985 when one new reactor came on line, on average, every 17 days. The image of cheap, clean, safe and low carbon energy which is also secure – despite the uranium being mostly imported – has seduced political deciders and the corporate elite, worldwide. But the reality behind this romantic green image of a nuclear panacea to future energy needs is something altogether different.
Since 2004, a future globalized electrical village lit by the atom is the meat of the obsessional ad campaign run by the French Areva state-backed nuclear monopoly, under the banner of “semi-private” as portrayed in the business press. This longstanding and massive advertising campaign runs to the background music of the Lipps Inc 1970s disco dance track “Funky Town” (see and hear this advert at

Everyone is boogying to DJ Friendly Atom in these richly detailed TV and print media offerings. The comic strip presentations often show Areva-owned clean and environment-friendly uranium mines in Canada – rather than Islamic militant-menaced Niger where Areva has a massive mine. The ads sometime flash dark-suited, smiling Men of Finance proffering hard cash at the edge of the stage, to underline the new illusion: nuclear power is very market friendly.

Indeed, nuclear power is market friendly and uranium mining is always clean and environmentally friendly in Funky Town. Quite often the reactors on the skyline are joined by serried ranks of friendly windmills and gleaming solar panels also delivering low carbon electricity. When in Funky Town, the revellers dance to the Areva tune.

The Atomic Reality

At the time when “Funky Town” was regular disco fodder circa 1977, nuclear power generation was still almost totally and exclusively reserved for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the USSR and to a smaller extent, China and India. It was almost exclusively State-controlled, State-financed and State-operated. Its strategic deployment and costs were ultimately linked to the real business of the atom – nuclear weapons making and state security which, of course, was a State secret.

NEXT Why nuclear economics “did not matter” back then is certainly an interesting economic question and brings us to the root of the nuclear illusion. The State was not in the background, rather it was entirely present at the forefront of the nuclear scene, for the simple reason that nuclear powered electricity is expensive. Producing electricity for the civil power grid was still a side issue and interest for the State, in the early 1970s. The real objective of the State-backed and State-controlled nuclear industry was plutonium brewing to make atomic weapons……..

Moving up a long way in funky financing, state-to-state bilateral deals in the nuclear power sector are now in high gear. Amounts in play are usually well above US $ 10 billion per project, and very complex mix-and-mingle methods and processes are used for their financing. From development aid finance, to market plays wielding put-and-call options, and natural resource based offset and compensatory trading all have a role for Funky Town financing of the atom.

Funky Town Finance Meets The Nuclear Renaissance :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website

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