The nuclear industry’s fairy tale about its “renaissance”

This renaissance is just a fairy tale, THE HINDU, 15 June 12, NITYANAND JAYARAMAN”.….Germany and Switzerland have decided to phase out nuclear power,
despite their substantial dependence on it. Israel abandoned its year-old civilian nuclear programme after Fukushima. Belgium revived a pre-Fukushima decision to phase out nuclear power, using the Japanese disaster as a reminder. Italy and Kuwait gave up their nuclear debut by abandoning plans for 10 and four plants respectively. Mexico dropped plans for constructing 10 plants. All of Japan’s 54 reactors are now closed, and plans for 14 new reactors killed.

The story of nuclear energy’s unviability is told not just by the
actions of naysayers, but also by the experiences of those — like
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Turkey, Vietnam and South Africa —
pursuing nuclear programmes. All of them want the nuclear option, but
have no idea how they will finance it.

If the U.S. is Dr. Singh’s inspiration, then the so-called nuclear
renaissance’s trajectory in that country gives even more cause for
despair. In 2009, the U.S. declared a nuclear revival with promises of
more than 30 new reactors. Today, most of these projects are doomed.
Even candidates for federal loan guarantees such as the South Texas
project, and the Calvert Cliffs-3 project in Maryland, have been

State governments in the U.S. do not seem to share the Federal
Government’s enthusiasm for nukes. Bills to reverse moratoria on
nuclear plants in Minnesota, Kentucky and Wisconsin failed last year.
In Missouri, North Carolina and Iowa, legislators defeated bills to
charge electricity consumers in advance to finance reactors.

“At the time of Fukushima, only four countries — China, Russia, India
and South Korea — were building more than two reactors. In these four
nations, citizens pay for the new reactors the government chooses to
build through direct subsidies or energy price hikes,” Bradford notes.

Finland was among the few that reiterated its commitment to nuclear
power after the Fukushima disaster. The 1,600 MW Olkiluoto nuclear
plant uses French company Areva’s technology. Areva’s modular design
was expected to make it faster and cheaper to build. But 11 years
later, the project is behind schedule and its $4.2 billion budget is
up now by 50 per cent. After Fukushima, Areva admits that the same
plant would cost $8 billion. Even Areva’s home project, in
Flamanville, France, has suffered a $4 billion cost overrun and a four
year delay. Indeed, 31 out of 45 reactors that were being constructed
globally around 2009 were either delayed or did not have official
dates for commissioning, says a report for the German Government by
consultant Mycle Schneider.

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