The nuclear industry’s “climate change” propaganda appears to be backfiring

The nuclear industry giving credence to climate change from fossil fuels has simply led to a stronger renewables industry.
Is climate change the worst argument for nuclear? Nuclear Engineering International 21 January 2015  Jumping on the environmental bandwagon may not be the best choice for the nuclear industry….. By Steve Kidd

My articles over the past three months have covered the failure of nuclear advocates to make much progress with gaining public acceptance over the past few years, with the prime need now to undertake a serious effort to gain better public understanding…

…….There remains one piece in the jigsaw and that is to abandon climate change as a prime argument for supporting a much higher use of nuclear power to satisfy rapidly-rising world power needs…….

We have seen no nuclear renaissance (instead, a notable number of reactor closures in some countries, combined with strong growth in China) the story has not changed very much. The 2014 edition of the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook shows nuclear playing a small but indispensable part in those scenarios maintaining greenhouse gas emissions at much lower and environmentally safer levels to 2030 and beyond. ……….

The International Atomic Energy Agency has also just released the 2014 edition of its publication Climate Change and Nuclear Power which addresses the perceived need for a lot more nuclear power for this reason, together with the range of issues which inevitably surround this transition.

The problem is that the hoped-for process is not working. Countries such as Germany and Switzerland that claim environmental credentials are moving strongly away from nuclear. Even with rapid nuclear growth in China, nuclear’s share in world electricity is declining. The industry is doing little more than hoping that politicians and financiers eventually see sense and back huge nuclear building programmes. On current trends, this is looking more and more unlikely. The high and rising nuclear share in climate-friendly scenarios is false hope, with little in the real outlook giving them any substance.

Far more likely is the situation posited in the World Nuclear Industry Status Report covered in September’s article (September 2014, ‘The world nuclear industry – is it in terminal decline?’). Although this report is produced by anti-nuclear activists, its picture of the current reactors gradually shutting down with numbers of new reactors failing to replace them has more than an element of truth given the recent trends………

….The nuclear industry giving credence to climate change from fossil fuels has simply led to a stronger renewables industry. Nuclear seems to be “too difficult” and gets sidelined – as it has within the entire process since the original Kyoto accords. And now renewables, often thought of as useful complements to nuclear, begin to threaten it in power markets when there is abundant power from renewables when the wind blows and the sun shines.

Climate change is also an issue now seemingly irretrievably linked to some combination of higher taxes and prices, bigger and more intrusive government intervention, lower economic growth, and less disposable income. The nuclear sector doesn’t want to be associated with any of this. ……Nuclear should not be cosying up to anything that costs money. It should promote itself as inherently cheap energy, vital for economic growth…..


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