TO O Japan will begin discussions next year to decide on a so-called energy mix for the next few decades, including the percentage of electricity to be generated by nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, the industry minister said yesterday.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will set up a committee on deciding the energy mix, or the proportion of electricity generated by various sources, and a working group to assess electricity generation costs of each source, aiming to reach a conclusion around next summer.
In a national energy policy adopted in April, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described atomic power as an important base-load power source, although the majority of people in Japan were opposed to nuclear power following the Fukushima crisis. The government also pledged to introduce renewable energy as far as possible.
Industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa told a press conference that the government will launch discussions as soon as the new year comes based on the basic energy policy, as we are moving toward restarting idled nuclear reactors and international debate on global warming is expected to accelerate toward a UN climate conference at the end of 2015.
Japan, one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, has not set a post-2020 emission target due to uncertainty over how many of its 48 commercial reactors all of which were gradually taken offline after the Fukushima meltdowns will go back online amid safety concerns.
In 2015, however, at least four reactors may go back online, with the pro- nuclear government striving to restart idled units that have cleared the regulators safety screening based on new regulations imposed after the Fukushima crisis triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami.
In fiscal 2010, 28.6 per cent of Japans total electricity supply was generated by nuclear power, 61.7 per cent by thermal power and 8.5 per cent by mega hydro power.
Miyazawa said earlier the proportion of electricity to be generated by nuclear power will be less than the level before the nuclear accident. ODO
SAFETY concerns would be the first issue to be debated when talking about the possibility of using nuclear power in Ireland, Energy Minister Alex White has said.
The use of nuclear power is banned by law and any change in that would require Dail and Seanad approval, he stressed – but he reiterated comments made in an interview with the Irish Independent in which he said that any discussion on the future of Ireland’s energy supply must include consideration of the nuclear option. He said all previous governments had a poor record of planning for future energy supply and the main issue was the country’s continued dependence on imported fossil fuels such as oil and coal. The minister admitted that there were safety concerns and said that he was not advocating the imminent use of nuclear energy. He said that, at all events, such a radical policy change would require a change to the law. Mr White promised a new energy policy document by the summer after a prolonged period of consultation with all interested parties. He urged a detailed and reasoned debate on the issue ahead of policy decisions being taken. “I’m comprehensive simply saying no debate on future energy needs can exclude any source of energy,” he told RTE radio. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is working on the long-term energy strategy. This will set out the role for conventional power generation from oil and gas; renewables including wind and energy; along with nuclear and other energy sources. The minister also said that politicians and ‘official’ Ireland had not performed well in the midst of a “crisis” about our future energy needs. He admitted that many people living in the shadow of pylons and wind turbines felt they were “victims of a policy” which was not of their making, and there was a need to work more closely with local communities. The Green Party’s energy spokesman, Cllr Ossian Smyth, said the proposal was unrealistic on many grounds, especially the ruinous cost of construction and operation. The minister’s comments about the potential use of nuclear power follows a government discussion document on energy last summer which included a suggestion that it could be “technically possible” to construct a small nuclear reactor in Ireland. It also suggested that such an installation could replace the coal-fired power station at Moneypoint, Co Clare, which is due to close in 2025.
Environmentalists and consumer groups criticized the government on Wednesday for considering lifting the ban on Japanese fish imports which has been in place since September 2013 in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
The ban was enacted because the sea water near the power plant was found to be highly contaminated. The ban is applicable to all types of fishery products from Fukushima and eight prefectures nearby.
The groups gathered in central Seoul to urge the government to re-consider its plan to resume Japanese fish imports.
“It is like giving Japan a gift at the cost of the public health. We condemn the ministry’s approach,” the groups said in a statement.
The participating groups included the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, Hansalim, Child Save and the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. Furthermore, the groups demanded the government ban all Japanese fishery products.
The criticism came after a foreign ministry official indicated last week that the ban could be lifted soon.
“A group of experts are doing research. This year celebrates the 50th anniversary after Korea and Japan recovered its diplomatic ties. We’re working to remove an obstacle in Korea-Japan relations as soon as possible,” a ministry official said.
A lot of the participants at the demonstration were mothers and children. “I don’t want my kids to be exposed to radioactive fish in school,” said Koh Hye-jin, 34, a mother of two children. “Although numbers show it’s below the dangerous level, it’s hard to believe. No matter how small, it can be a problem when the number accumulates.” Children were also among the demonstrators.
The import ban in 2013 was imposed when experts found the sea water near the Fukushima nuclear reactors was highly contaminated.
Since then, the government runs a sample test on Japanese fisheries products on a daily basis.
Although the results have not shown any significant threat, the public continues to show their concern about the safety of Japanese fish imports.
Are we there yet? Far from it.
After plunging by $49 US a barrel since June, this year’s dramatic meltdown in oil prices isn’t over.
Watch for the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the benchmark grade of U.S. light crude, to sink to $50 US a barrel or lower before a sustained turnaround begins in the last half of 2015.
With the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) refusing to cut production and the United Arab Emirates energy minister warning that the cartel won’t blink even if oil slides to $40, the stage is set for some nasty fireworks ahead.
“We will not have a real picture about oil prices until the end of the first half of 2015,” OPEC secretary general Abdalla El-Badri told Bloomberg at a weekend conference in Dubai. Once prices settle after that, he added, OPEC will decide what “required measures” to take.
His clear message? OPEC is willing to endure further short-term pain for longer term gains. Its goal is to cap the explosive growth of U.S. shale oil production by driving down prices.
“Our expectation in OPEC is that after 2020, the oil industry in the U.S. will decline,” and it will resume its traditional reliance on crude imports from the Middle East, El-Badri said.
No wonder Alberta Premier Jim Prentice sees a big hole — amounting to $6 billion Cdn or more — in the province’s projected revenues for 2015, as the current oil “price trough” deepens. Can anyone spell budget cuts?
Of course, no one including OPEC knows precisely where the bottom will be. The estimates for WTI range from $43 (Morgan Stanley) to about $50 (Bank of America, Eurasia Group).
The exact timing is also a matter of guesswork. Investment bank Goldman Sachs is betting on a bottom by the second quarter of 2015. Eurasia, a major global energy consulting firm, expects the lows to hit in the first quarter, assuming OPEC changes its tune and U.S. shale production starts to slow.
Whatever happens, the price is sure to be well south of Friday’s close of $57.81, which marked the lowest level in five years.
Although drilling activity is already dropping off a cliff, and energy producers like ConocoPhillips and Cenovus are chopping their budgets, it will take months for production levels to adjust significantly.
Meanwhile, roughly 1.5 million barrels of surplus production is sloshing around a global oil market that consumes some 93 million barrels of crude per day, and no one is willing to give up a piece of it.
OPEC’s members, who are producing about 30.5 million barrels of crude a day now and expect demand
for their output to fall below 29 million barrels a day in 2015, hope to defend their market share at the expense of others.
Put simply, this is a colossal fight over who gets what share of the global energy pie, and so far, no one is backing down, even as share prices and currencies tank.
Here in Canada, the rout in energy stocks has been a key factor behind the decline in the loonie and the sharp pullback on the Toronto Stock Exchange, where the benchmark index now sits at 13,731.05.
That’s a full 12.5 per cent below its 2014 high, and just a hair above where it started the year. Even Canada’s usually rock-solid bank stocks are taking a hit, as worries about credit losses rise.
Unless oil prices rebound soon, some high-cost small or mid-tier producers with heavy debt loads won’t survive. While some of Alberta’s oilsands players have high- cost operations, others are profitable even at $40 oil.
Most are big enough to survive two or three weak quarters, in any case. And they aren’t the only ones feeling the heat.
Some U.S. shale oil plays also sit at the high end of the cost curve, says Scotiabank commodity guru Patricia Mohr. That includes producers in North Dakota’s prolific Bakken play and the Permian Basin of West Texas.
Internationally, the ground is shifting rapidly too. Oilrich Venezuela is in crisis, and may be forced to default on its debt.
Russia’s energy-fuelled economy, already groaning under the weight of
For those who don’t remember, oil sold for just $33 a barrel in early 2009, and in 1998, prices got down to just $8 a barrel
international sanctions due to Vladimir Putin’s adventures in eastern Ukraine, has been pushed into recession, and all but two of OPEC’s member states (Kuwait and Qatar) will face fat budget deficits at current low oil prices.
If not for its massive cash reserves, even OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia would likely have caved into pressure by now.
But it hasn’t. Instead, it and other OPEC players have continued to discount prices in Asia, the only global growth market that’s left for crude oil. The winners? Big oil importers like China and India.
The bottom line? The great Alberta oil boom of recent years has hit the pause button, and the pause is likely to last a while.
Although most forecasters expect crude prices to rebound to perhaps $75 US or more in the second half of 2015, virtually no one sees a return to $100 oil. Instead, crude could trade in the $60 to $80 range for literally years. Call it the “new noilmal.”
That said, there’s no reason to panic. Most Albertans have been through this before, and will adapt to the latest carnage.
The sharp drop in the loonie and lower discounts on Western Canada Select (WCS), Alberta’s benchmark grade — which now sells for about $47 Cdn a barrel — have provided some respite.
Meanwhile, other sectors of the provincial economy, from retailing to forestry to financial services and agriculture, are doing well, and that’s likely to continue.
According to RBC Economics, the provincial economy will grow by 2.7 per cent next year. Not great by recent Alberta standards, perhaps, but on par with the rest of the country.
Besides, Alberta is a resilient province that has survived far worse. For those who don’t remember, oil sold for just $33 a barrel in early 2009, and in 1998, prices got down to just $8 a barrel. That’s right. Eight bucks.
So it’s not as if the oilpatch hasn’t endured tough times before. It has, and it will survive this rough patch too. That’s one forecast you can bank on. email@example.com
New developments highlight the growing travails of the global nuclear- power industry. France — the “poster child” of atomic power — plans to cut its nuclear- generating capacity by a third by 2025 and focus instead on renewable sources, like its neighbours, Germany and Spain. As nuclear power becomes increasingly uneconomical at home because of skyrocketing costs, the U. S. and France are aggressively pushing exports, not just to India and China, but also to “nuclear newcomers,” such as the cash- laden oil sheikhdoms. Still, the bulk of the reactors under construction or planned worldwide are located in just four countries — China, Russia, South Korea and India.
Six decades after Lewis Strauss, chairman of the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission, claimed that nuclear energy would become “too cheap to meter,” nuclear power confronts an increasingly uncertain future, largely because of unfavourable economics. The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2014, released last week, states: “Uncertainties continue to cloud the future for nuclear — government policy, public confidence, financing in liberalized markets, competitiveness versus other sources of generation, and the looming retirement of a large fleet of older plants.”
Heavily subsidy reliant
Nuclear power has the energy sector’s highest capital and water intensity and longest plant- construction time frame, making it hardly attractive for private investors. Plant construction time frame, with licensing approval, still averages almost a decade, as underscored by the new reactors commissioned in the past decade. The key fact about nuclear power is that it is the world’s most subsidyfattened energy industry, even as it generates the most dangerous wastes whose safe disposal saddles future generations. Commercial reactors have been in operation for more than half- a- century, yet the industry still cannot stand on its own feet without major state support. Instead of the cost of nuclear power declining with the technology’s maturation — as is the case with other sources of energy — the costs have escalated multiple times.
In this light, nuclear power has inexorably been on a downward trajectory. The nuclear share of the world’s total electricity production reached its peak of 17 per cent in the late 1980s. Since then, it has been falling, and is currently estimated at about 13 per cent, even as new uranium discoveries have swelled global reserves. With proven reserves having grown by 12.5 per cent since just 2008, there is enough uranium to meet current demand for more than 100 years.
Yet, the worldwide aggregate installed capacity of just three renewables — wind power, solar power and biomass — has surpassed installed nuclear- generating capacity. In India and China, wind power output alone exceeds nuclear- generated electricity.
Before the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the global nuclear power industry — a powerful cartel of less than a dozen major state- owned or state- guided firms — had been trumpeting a global “nuclear renaissance.” This spiel was largely anchored in hope. However, the triple meltdown at Fukushima has not only reopened old safety concerns but also set in mo- tion the renaissance of nuclear power in reverse. The dual imperative for costly upgrades post- Fukushima and for making the industry competitive, including by cutting back on the munificent government subsidies, underscores nuclear power’s dimming future. It is against this background that India’s itch to import high- priced reactors must be examined. To be sure, India should ramp up electricity production from all energy sources. There is definitely a place for safe nuclear power in India’s energy mix. Indeed, the country’s domestic nuclear- power industry has done a fairly good job both in delivering electricity at a price that is the envy of western firms and, as the newest indigenous reactors show, in beating the mean global plant construction time frame.
India should actually be encouraging its industry to export its tested and reliable mid- size reactor model, which is better suited for the developing countries, considering their grid limitations. Instead, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, after making India the world’s largest importer of conventional arms since 2006, set out to make the country the world’s single largest importer of nuclear power reactors — a double whammy for Indian taxpayers, already heavily burdened by the fact that India is the only major economy in Asia that is import- dependent rather than export driven.
Critiquing India’s programme
To compound matters, the Singh government opted for major reactor imports without a competitive bidding process. It reserved a nuclear park each for four foreign firms ( Areva of France, Westinghouse and GE of the U. S., and Atomstroyexport of Russia) to build multiple reactors at a single site. It then set out to acquire land from farmers and other residents, employing coercion in some cases.
Having undercut its leverage by dedicating a park to each foreign vendor, it entered into price negotiations. Because the imported reactors are to be operated by the Indian state, the foreign vendors have been freed from producing electricity at marketable rates. In other words, Indian taxpayers are to subsidise the high- priced electricity generated.
Westinghouse, GE and Areva also wish to shift the primary liability for any accident to the Indian taxpayer so that they have no downside risk but only profits to reap. If a Fukushima- type catastrophe were to strike India, it would seriously damage the Indian economy. A recent Osaka City University study has put Japan’s Fukushima- disaster bill at a whopping $ 105 billion.
To Dr. Singh’s discomfiture, three factors put a break on his reactor- import plans — the exorbitant price of French- and U. S.- origin reactors, the accident- liability issue, and grass- roots opposition to the planned multireactor complexes. After Fukushima, the grass- roots attitude in India is that nuclear power is okay as long as the plant is located in someone else’s backyard, not one’s own. This attitude took a peculiar form at Kudankulam, in Tamil Nadu, where a protest movement suddenly flared just when the Russian- origin, twin- unit nuclear power plant was virtually complete.
India’s new nuclear plants, like in most other countries, are located in coastal regions so that these water- guzzling facilities can largely draw on seawater for their operations and not bring freshwater resources under strain. But coastal areas are often not only heavily populated but also constitute prime real estate. The risks that seaside reactors face from global warming- induced natural disasters became evident more than six years before Fukushima, when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami inundated parts of the Madras Atomic Power Station. But the reactor core could be kept in a safe shutdown mode because the electrical systems had been installed on higher ground than the plant level.
Dr. Singh invested so such political capital in the Indo- U. S. civil nuclear agreement that much of his first term was spent in negotiating and consummating the deal. He never explained why he overruled the nuclear establishment and shut down the CIRUS research reactor — the source of much of India’s cumulative historic production of weaponsgrade plutonium since the 1960s. In fact, CIRUS had been refurbished at a cost of millions of dollars and reopened for barely two years when Dr. Singh succumbed to U. S. pressure and agreed to close it down.
Nevertheless, the nuclear accord has turned out to be a dud deal for India on energy but a roaring success for the U. S. in opening the door to major weapon sales — a development that has quietly made America the largest arms supplier to India. For the U. S., the deal from the beginning was more geostrategic in nature ( designed to co- opt India as a quasially) than centred on just energy.
Even if no differences had arisen over the accident- liability issue, the deal would still not have delivered a single operational nuclear power plant for a more than a decade for two reasons — the inflated price of westernorigin commercial reactors and grass- roots opposition. Areva, Westinghouse and GE signed Memorandums of Understanding with the state- run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited ( NPCIL) in 2009, but construction has yet to begin at any site.
India has offered Areva, with which negotiations are at an advanced stage, a power price of Rs. 6.50 per kilowatt hour — twice the average electricity price from indigenous reactors. But the state- owned French firm is still holding out for a higher price. If Kudankulam is a clue, work at the massive nuclear complexes at Jaitapur in Maharashtra ( earmarked for Areva), Mithi Virdi in Gujarat ( Westinghouse) and Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh ( GE) is likely to run into grass- roots resistance. Indeed, if India wishes to boost nuclear- generating capacity without paying through its nose, the better choice — given its new access to the world uranium market — would be an accelerated indigenous programme.
Globally, nuclear power is set to face increasing challenges due to its inability to compete with other energy sources in pricing. Another factor is how to manage the rising volumes of spent nuclear fuel in the absence of permanent disposal facilities. More fundamentally, without a breakthrough in fusion energy or greater commercial advances in the area that the U. S. has strived to block — breeder ( and thorium) reactors — nuclear power is in no position to lead the world out of the fossil fuel age.
( Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and author.)
The nation’s first nuclear waste repository will soon start operations in Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom about 370 km southeast of Seoul, officials said Monday.
It took seven years and 1.56 trillion won($1.53billion)tocompletethefacility which will store low- to medium-level nuclear waste, such as cooling water, parts and components, and working clothes and gloves, according to the KoreaRadioactiveWasteAgency.
Actually, however, the completion period should be extended to 31 years as it was in 1983, five years after Korea’s first nuclear power plant went into operation, when the government began to discuss the need for building a storage facility. At least three Cabinet ministers had to leave their posts embroiled in social controversy over selecting the site.
This illustrates how long and tumultuous the process is in reaching a social consensus on the disposal of radioactive materials.
And that, in turn, brings one to the far more technologically difficult and socially controversial issue of building a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste, namely spent nuclear fuel. So much so that no country has yet built a permanent burial site for used fuel. For Korea, a far more urgent issue is the construction of an “intermediate” facility which can store spent nuclear rods for next three to four decades.
Currently, operators store spent nuclear rods at pools within each nuclear power complex before moving them to an intermediate facility. Because of the lack of such facilities, however, most of the waste stays in the pools. Even the pools will begin to reach saturation in 2016 and will no longer be able to receive any more fuel rods by 2024. That means Korea should finish making all related decisions within this year, as it will take 10 years to complete the intermediate facility,
The Park Geun-hye administration was right in this regard to launch a government-civilian committee last year to put major related topics — the size and location of the proposed facility as well as required technology — up for public discussion.
It was a desirable break from the previous decision-making process, in which the government unilaterally made key decisions, triggering popular protests; and then either resorted to trickery to persuade residents involved or started over.
The problem is the committee seems to have not been operating very smoothly. First, environmentalists are still complaining the panel has too many members from the nuclear industry, and too few members representing the interests of the general public. Second, it is turned into a perfunctory device, which forces the private sector to accept the government’s decisions.
Government officials should learn from the attitudes of their Swedish counterparts who have held hundreds, even thousands, of meetings with residents for decades until they reached amicable accords. What these officials must do to the best of their ability is to bury spent fuel — not different opinions.
Plans to ship cargoes of radioactive nuclear waste from the Dounreay plant around the north coastline from Caithness to Cumbria have sparked safety concerns.
Critics warned against the risks of navigating rough seas around Cape Wrath and the Minch, but Dounreay chiefs have defended the plan.
Independent Highland MSP John Finnie said he understood the concerns of the community, particularly given the loss of the Coastguard’s Stornoway-based emergency tug, which could help stricken vessels.
Cargoes of radioactive nuclear waste will be shipped around the north coastline from Caithness to Cumbria under ne w pl a ns f r om bosses at the Dounreay plant.
The move is part of efforts to find an alternative to the controversial practice of sending spent fuels by rail for reprocessing at Sellafield. Critics warn against the risks of navigati ng r ough s eas around Cape Wrath and the Minch.
A prominent Highland campaigner said public concerns were not being taken seriously.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth said sticking with rail was a better option than navigating the stormy waters off the north and west coast of Scotland.
Highland MSP Jo h n Finnie said he had partic-
“The weather can be very challenging in the Minch”
ular concerns, given the loss of the Coastguard’s Stornoway- based emergency tug, which went to the aid of the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Astute after she grounded off Skye during sea trials four years ago.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is refusing to give details of how and when the fuels will be moved by either rail or sea on grounds of “national security”.
Dounreay chiefs defended the plan, insisting a successful trial could give them two potential routes for di s posi ng o f waste which cannot be dealt with at the site near Thurso.
A spokeswoman for the base said members of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group were informed about the trials. However, John Boocock, co-chair of Highlands Against Nuclear Transport, said the wider public should also have been given a say.
“We are concerned that the possibility of shipping nuclear waste by sea has not been discussed with our communities in the Highlands and Islands,” he said.
Independent Highland MSP John Finnie said: “It is entirely understandable that communities are concerned about this, regardless of how low the risk of accidents.
“There are a lot of factors need to be considered here, such as the weather on the west coast, which can be very challenging in the Minch, the the lack of tugs and so on.”
Campaigners have been fighting for the reinstatement of the Coastguard tug.
Cover has been reduced to a single vessel based in Shetland to work “around Scotland's coast as required”.
A spokeswoman for Dounreay said: “The Dounreay Stakeholder Group was informed in March that trials of a sea route would be carried out.
“If successful, this will give the option of two routes for the delivery of Dounreay’s ‘exotic’ fuel to Sellafield.
“The trial will allow implementation of the NDA’s preferred options paper.”
David Flear, chairman of the Dounreay Stakeholders Group said: “When you think about it there’s only three ways of getting the fuel out – by land, sea or air and flying is out of the question.
“They came to the group with options and gave us the chance to discuss them properly.
“Some people think that the sea option is the best and others think that by land is the best. My view is the fuels need to be moved because there is no facility to reprocess them and they need to fully look at all the options.”
Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “The first priority should always to be to deal with as much waste as possible on site, but there will still be a need to transport s o me o f the mountain of nuclear waste we have created.
“There are no perfect answers but on balance sticking with rail seems the better option, especially with climate change making the waters around the UK more stormy.
Carefully routed rail transport allows for easier access if anything goes wrong.
“The proposal to use ships sounds like a ploy to get this problem out of people’s minds rather than the safest option.”
The NDA could not be reached for comment.
The exotic fuels are a sub-set of the site’s nuclear materials and comprise a total of about 26 tonnes of unirradiated plutonium bearing fuels, unirradiated high enriched uranium (HEU) and irradiated fuels (oxide and carbide).
A U.S. science advisory report says Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident offers a key lesson to the nation’s nuclear industry: Focus more on the highly unlikely but worst case scenarios.
That means thinking about earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, solar storms, multiple failures and situations that seem freakishly unusual, according to Thursday’s National Academy of Sciences report. Those kinds of things triggered the world’s three major nuclear accidents.
“We need to do a soul searching when it comes to the assumptions” of how to deal with worst case events, said University of Southern California engineering professor Najmedin Meshkati, the panel’s technical adviser. Engineers should “think about something that could happen once every, perhaps 1,000 years” but that’s not really part of their training or nature, he said.
“You have to totally change your mode of thinking because complacency and hubris is the worst enemy to nuclear safety,” Meshkati said in an interview.
The report said the 2011 Japanese accident, caused by an earthquake and tsunami, should not have been a surprise. The report says another Japanese nuclear power plant also hit by the tsunami was closer to the quake’s fault. But the Onagawa plant wasn’t damaged because quakes and flooding were considered when it was built.
Onagawa had crucial backup electricity available for when the main power went down, as opposed to Fukushima which had emergency generators in a basement that flooded. Onagawa’s operators had “a different mindset” than the executives who ran Fukushima, Meshkati said.
The other two nuclear accidents — at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island and Ukraine’s Chernobyl— were caused by multiple system failures.
Lee Clarke, a Rutgers University risk expert and author of the book “Worst Cases,” criticized the academy’s report as too weak. He said the tone of the report made it seem like the accident was unpredictable and caught reasonable people by surprise “and it shouldn’t have.” But the report itself said the “the Fukushima accident was not a technical surprise.”
David Lochbaum of the activist group Union of Concerned Scientists said the problem is that federal law financially protects the U.S. nuclear industry from accidents gives utilities little incentive to spend money on low-probability, high-consequence problems.
But Nuclear Energy Institute senior vice president Anthony Pietrangelo said the American nuclear industry has already taken several steps to shore up backup power and deal with natural disasters.
“We cannot let such an accident happen here,” he said in a statement.
Another issue the report raised was about how far radiation may go in a worst case accident.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission orders plants to have emergency plans for a zone of 10 miles around a nuclear plant. But the academy study said Fukushima showed that “may prove inadequate” if a similar accident happened in the U.S. People nearly 19 miles away in Japan needed protection from radiation. But the committee would not say what would be a good emergency zone.
WAYNESBORO — The U.S. nuclear industry has started building its first new plants in decades using prefabricated Legolike blocks meant to save time and money and revive the once promising energy source. So far, it’s not working. Quality and cost problems have cropped up again, raising questions about whether nuclear power will ever be able to compete with other electricity sources. The first two reactors built after a 16-year lull, Southern Co.’s Vogtle plant in Georgia and SCANA Corp.’s VC Summer plant in South Carolina, are being assembled in large modules. Large chunks of the modules are built offsite, in an effort to improve quality and avoid the chronic cost overruns that all but killed the nuclear industry when the first wave of plants was being built in the 1960s and 1970s.
Analysts say engineers created designs that were hard or impossible to make, according to interviews and regulatory filings reviewed by the As- Joseph “Buzz” Miller, executive vice president of nuclear development at Southern Co. in Louisiana, describes the prefabricated high-pressure vessel that will be used in a new nuclear reactor at Plant Vogtle in Georgia. sociated Press. The factory in Louisiana that constructed the prefabricated sections struggled to meet strict quality rules. Utility companies got early warnings but proved unable to avoid the problems. Now the firms leading the project are phasing out the Louisiana factory for work on the biggest modules and contracting with new manufacturers.
Few power companies are building brand-new nuclear plants right now because gas-fired plants are so cheap by comparison. But if construction costs can be controlled, the nuclear industry might have a long-term chance. Future gas prices are always uncertain, and stricter U.S. pollution rules could make nuclear plants more attractive since they produce no greenhouse gasses. The difficulties producing modules are one factor that caused schedules to slide. The first of the two new reactors at each site in Georgia and South Carolina were supposed to be operating in 2016, but that timetable has now been pushed into 2017 or early 2018. At Plant Vogtle, Southern Co. expects to spend $646 million more than the originally budgeted $6.1 billion on its share of the project.
Joseph “Buzz” Miller, a Southern Co. executive tasked with building the nuclear plant at Vogtle, thinks building in modules can still work, despite the recent trouble. “Has it for the first units resulted in a lot of time savings? No,” he said. “But does it have promise? Yes.”
Years ago, large workforces built nuclear power plants part by part. Using so much labor was expensive and difficult to manage. It increased the odds a work crew might make a mistake or fall be- hind schedule.
This time, the industry settled on a different technique. The utilities in Georgia and South Carolina purchased power plants that use the AP1000 reactor designed by Westinghouse Electric Co. Its modules can weigh hundreds of tons and dwarf buildings.
The Shaw Modular Solutions factory in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was to produce large, prefabricated chunks of the plants.
The large sections are shipped to Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia near Waynesboro, and the Summer generation station in South Carolina, where workers inspect them, weld them into large modules then hoist them into place with massive derricks.
A nuclear engineer working for Georgia’s utility regulators, William Jacobs Jr., warned in December 2010 that the Louisiana factory had experienced delays due to quality assurance, design and fabrication problems. He called it a “significant concern.”
Inspectors for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission halted their first review of the plant the following month, saying it was not ready for indepth scrutiny. Follow-up inspections found more issues with the plant’s quality assurance programs. NRC officials proposed a $36,400 fine against The Shaw Group for firing a quality insurance supervisor elsewhere in its company who warned a potentially faulty part may have been shipped to a project in New Mexico. The fine was dropped after the company agreed to changes. The agency also said workers at the Lake Charles facility feared raising safety and quality concerns to their supervisors.
The NRC concluded that a welder at the factory took a qualification test for another worker in 2010, and that a supervisor knew but did not report it.
“I think the Lake Charles facility is just on a learning curve that they can’t seem to get on top of,” said Anthony James, who monitors the South Carolina nuclear project for the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, which oversees utilities.
Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. N.V. acquired The Shaw Group in February 2013. The new owners replaced top managers at the factory, adopted a less antagonistic stance toward inspectors and allowed Southern Co. and SCANA Corp. to conduct more oversight. CBI spokeswoman Gentry Brann refused interview requests.
JAPANESE officials are handing out radiation- blocking iodine tablets to people living in the shadow of two nuclear reactors slated to restart this year, underscoring concerns about atomic power after the Fukushima crisis.
The move to distribute the pills, which help to reduce radiation buildup in the body, started on Sunday for those living within a 5km radius of the Sendai nuclear plant.
The site, roughly 1 000km from Tokyo on the southern island of Kyushu, recently cleared new safety standards and could start operations in a few months.
It comes despite vocal opposition to the plan, three years after the worst atomic crisis in a generation.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said earlier this month that two atomic reactors at the Sendai plant were safe enough to switch back on, marking a big step towards restarting nuclear plants that were shuttered after Fukushima.
Officials in Satsumasendai city and the Kagoshima prefecture said they were handing out iodine tablets to about 4 700 people in the area, some as young as three years old
everal dozen people have refused the free pills, which were part of stricter central government guidelines aimed at preparing for another accident.
The pills are used to protect the human thyroid gland in the event of airborne radiation, although there is some debate about their effectiveness.
Widespread anti-nuclear sentiment has simmered in Japan ever since a quake- sparked tsunami in March 2011 slammed into the Fukushima power plant and sent reactors into meltdown – the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.
The area remains a no- go zone and cleaning up the crippled site could take decades.
Tens of thousands of area residents may never be able to return to their homes near the plant. – Sapa-AFP
after three reactors melted down at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi station north of the Japanese capital after an earthquake and tsunami.
Rising costs, construction delays, public opposition and aging fleets of reactors will make it difficult for nuclear to reverse the decline in its share of global energy supply, even after two reactors in Japan won provisional approval to restart earlier this month.
Discounting the bulk of Japan’s 48 reactors due to their long-term outage, the report said the number of operating units in the world has fallen to 388. 50 less than the peak in 2002. Nuclear’s share of global power generation has fallen to 10.8%, down from a high of 17.6% in 1996 and the lowest since the 1980s, it said.
The report also pointed to delays in construction projects, even in China where the government is strongly pushing for nuclear power to replace heavy carbon- emitting coal stations.
Of the 67 reactors now under construction globally, at least 49 were experiencing delays and eight had been under construction for 20 years, it said.
The average age of reactors has also increased, rising to more than 28 years, while more than 170 units, or 44% of the total, have been operating for more than 30 years.
“More than 200 reactors may face shutdown in the coming two decades,” Tatsujiro Suzuki, a former vice- chairperson of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, said in the report.
Renewable energy is taking up an increasing share of the energy mix, the report said. Installed solar capacity in China topped operating nuclear capacity, while in Spain more power was generated from wind last year than any other source, beating nuclear for the first time. – Reuters
Dismantling the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California will take two decades and cost $ 4.4 billion.
Southern California Edison on Friday released a road map that calls for decommissioning the twin- reactor plant and restoring the property over two decades, beginning in 2016.
Edison shut down the plant in 2012 after extensive damage was found to tubes carrying radioactive water. It was closed for good last year.
Edison plans to store the spent nuclear fuel in steel canisters at the site indefinitely until the federal government comes up with a permanent storage solution.
IN KELVIN Kemm’s opinion piece published in The New Age on July 24, 2014, the nuclear physicist made a seemingly strong case for why new nuclear investments are safe, necessary and would create new jobs. However, I believe there are significant problems with the case he presented in support of nuclear energy.
The reality is that governments around the world are rethinking nuclear energy. The German government has decided to phase out nuclear energy and 95% of Italians voted against the use of nuclear energy in a referendum on the issue. The reason for this is because nuclear power has consistently delivered too little, too late and at too high a price.
Kemm argues that this country’s energy supply is under strain, which makes new nuclear investments the best alternative. However, if South Africa is concerned about energy security then the last option should be nuclear.
A nuclear plant takes more than a decade to build, is dependent on a non-renewable resource, creates dangerous radioactive waste and is very costly.
In contrast, renewable energy capacity can be built much faster and without any of the safety, environmental and financial risks associated with nuclear power.
But the costs of nuclear energy may be the biggest deterrent for the people living in South Africa. The government itself has stated that the costs of nuclear energy investments may have been underestimated and that new nuclear investments have the potential to push up the price of electricity significantly, much more significantly than the existing tariff increases that Eskom consistently applies to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa ( Nersa) for. Massive cost overruns and delays are the norm for new nuclear projects.
Safety is another major concern, which Kemm simply brushes over. Unfortunately, nuclear reactors are inherently unsafe. As witnessed after Chernobyl in 1986, the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 again exposed the fundamental flaws of nuclear reactors and highlighted the serious institutional failures in the oversight of nuclear safety. Some of these failures are replicated worldwide by the nuclear industry. As a result millions of people who live near reactors are at risk – and this includes people in Cape Town.
Kemm argues that nobody was really hurt from the Fukushima disasters – but massive amounts of radioactive materials were released into the atmosphere and in Japan at least 150 000 people had to leave contaminated areas around the plant.
Experts expect the 20km evacuation zone around the plant will be uninhabitable for decades. The human and financial cost associated with the disaster has been huge for both the plant operators and affected communities.
Nuclear reactors will always be vulnerable to the deadly combination of human errors, design failures and natural disasters.
Even after 60 years of nuclear power there is no solution available for safe, long-term storage of radioactive waste anywhere in the world. At present, radioactive waste around the world is stored in temporary facilities while discussions continue about long-term storage. The most hazardous waste needs to be stored securely for hundreds of thousands of years before it is considered safe.
There is no doubt that job creation is a major priority in South Africa. However, nuclear’s contribution to job creation is limited and expectations of major job creation around new nuclear power are unfounded.
There will be an increase in jobs during the construction phase but these will drop sharply after the construction phase.
By contrast, renewable energies provide a sustainable, long-term increase in green jobs – up to a total of 148 000 jobs by 2030 if South Africa follows a clean energy pathway.
One often hears the argument that renewable energy will not be able to meet baseloDelectricity supply. However, it is not an impossible task to have reliable base-load supply without coal or nuclear. Storage technologies are important but there is no technological barrier to getting 100% of South Africa’s electricity from renewables by 2050.
The future lies in new energy policies and systems. The existing system based on coal and nuclear is failing to supply safe, affordable electricity for all South Africa and belongs in the past. Combined renewable energy technologies like solar, wind and biomass, together with active demand-side management and energy efficiency measures, are already demonstrating their ability to provide safe and reliable electricity around the world.
The government should be providing platforms for honest and open debate rather than pushing ahead with the risky nuclear programme. There are far too many questions left unanswered otherwise, and all South Africans have a right to know where such a huge amount of money is being spent.
Safe and clean renewable energy offers huge opportunities for South Africa and is ready to go. A future based on renewable energy is what this country really needs.
in Kelvin Kemm’s opinion piece the nuclear physicist made a seemingly strong case for why new nuclear investments are safe, necessary and will create new jobs
However, i believe that there are significant problems with the case that he presented in support of nuclear energy
the reality is that governments around the world are rethinking nuclear energy
the German government has decided to phase out nuclear energy and 95% of italians voted against the use of nuclear energy in a referendum on the issue
the reason for this is because nuclear power has consistently delivered too little, too late and at too high a price
Recently there was rumor that China and Russia may jointly build nuclear power plants in Harbin, in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province. The rumor has already been denied by authorities, but there is still a heated public discussion over the possibility of new nuclear power projects in China’s inland areas. I believe there are some lessons that China has to learn in terms of nuclear power security.
China has to foster a healthy public view of nuclear power safety. After WWII, the Japanese public retained strong anti-nuclear sentiments. At that time, the US, due to its global strategy needs, sought to fuel the Japanese economy and boost its nuclear power.
Together with some Japanese interest groups, the US proclaimed vigorously in Japan of the beautiful future of peacefully using nuclear energy. Many therefore began to buy into the rhetoric of the absolute safety of nuclear power.
Nonetheless, real nuclear power safety can only be achieved by constantly wrangling with unsafe elements.
In Japan, the myth of absolute nuclear power safety has led to various shortcomings in nuclear power plant operation. Operators often sought to hide incidents for fear of triggering public panic and damaging their own credibility.
In fact, before the nuclear leak catastrophe in March 2011, there were many accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. But Tokyo Electric Power Company chose to conceal these incidents, which ultimately led to the great tragedy.
We must prevent nuclear power plant operators from sacrificing safety to lower costs. When selecting sites, they should conduct full and careful investigations of the local geology and historical records of local natural disasters.
A deep lesson from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is inadequate studies about the records of past tsunamis.
The incident at the Tokai Nuclear Power Plant in 1997, referred to as the Tokaimura nuclear accident, was caused when a different processing method was adopted to save costs, which led to an explosion.
Supervision over nuclear power plant operation must be strengthened, and unified management must be applied.
In Japan, there are nine electricity companies involved in the nuclear power business. In comparison, only one company is in charge of nuclear power, which facilitates taking precautions for safety issues and emergency responses.
In 2005, the French government set up a steering committee to deal with post-nuclear accident management. As soon as the release of radioactive material is confirmed, the steering committee will cooperate with the military and other departments to deal with the crisis.
All these are good lessons that China can learn in terms of nuclear power safety.
LONDON (Reuters) – Europe’s aging nuclear fleet will undergo more prolonged outages over the next few years, reducing the reliability of power supply and costing plant operators many billions of dollars.
Nuclear power provides about a third of the European Union’s electricity generation, but the 28-nation bloc’s 131 reactors are well past their prime, with an average age of 30 years.
And the energy companies, already feeling the pinch from falling energy prices and weak demand, want to extend the life of their plants into the 2020s, to put off the drain of funding new builds.
Closing the older nuclear plants is not an option for many EU countries, which are facing an energy capacity crunch as other types of plant are being closed or mothballed because they can’t cover their operating costs, or to meet stricter environmental regulation.
Though renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power are slowly rising in the mix, they do not produce a constant output, so other sources will always be needed for backup.
But as nuclear plants age, performance can suffer, and outages – both scheduled and unplanned – rise.
With nuclear safety in the spotlight since the 2011 reactor meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima plant – which in turn prompted Germany to call time on its entire nuclear fleet – operators can take no chances with their elderly plants, but the outages get longer and more difficult.
“These reactors were designed over 30 years ago. The people involved are either retired or dead, and most of the companies involved no longer exist,” said John Large, an independent nuclear engineer and analyst who has carried out work for Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority.
Jean Tandonnet, EDF Group’s nuclear safety inspector, said in January that its French fleet last year had a series of “problematic unit outages,” and scheduled outages were extended by an average of more than 26 days. Regular maintenance and major equipment replacement jobs had increased by 60 percent in the last six years, he said.
“(At an aging plant) outages take slightly longer, and there is more work to do to make sure it is in top condition. Safety comes ahead of anything else,” a spokeswoman for EDF Energy in the UK said.
France is the EU’s nuclear leader, its 58 reactors producing nearly three quarters of the country’s electricity. France’s nuclear watchdog will make a final decision on whether to extend the life of the French fleet to 50 years in 2018 or 2019. EDF has estimated the extension would cost 55 billion euros.
“The average age of the (French) reactors is now about 30 years, which raises questions about the investment needed to enable them to continue operating, as aging reactors increasingly need parts to be replaced,” according to the World Nuclear Industry Status report 2014.
Though the EU has conducted risk and safety tests on the bloc’s nuclear plants, environmental campaigners say the tests failed to address risks associated with aging technology, among other things.
With exposure to radiation, high temperatures and pressure, the components of nuclear plants take a battering over time.
“They can, for example, become more brittle, susceptible to cracking or less able to cope with temperature extremes,” said Anthony Froggart, senior research fellow at London- based think tank Chatham House.
“While this can be monitored, it can be problematic if aging occurs at a greater rate than anticipated or it occurs in areas which are difficult to access or monitor,” he added.
As reactors age, there is also a risk of finding a generic design flaw that could affect all the reactors in a country if they are of the same design.
Britain has 16 reactors in operation that came online from the 1970s to 1990s, and all but one will be retired by 2023 unless they get extensions.
At the Wylfa plant in Wales – Britain’s oldest, at 43 years – the one remaining operational reactor was out of service for seven months this year. It was first taken down for maintenance, but the restart was delayed as new problems were discovered.
The reactor is scheduled to be taken out of service for good in September, but operator Magnox is seeking an extension to December 2015.
This week, EDF Energy took offline three of its nuclear reactors at its Heysham 1 and Hartlepool plants in Britain for inspection which are both 31 years old, after a crack was discovered on a boiler spine of another Heysham 1 reactor with a similar boiler design, which had already been taken offline in June.
The boilers will be checked for defects with thermal imagery done using robotics, and the firm will know more about what caused the fault after the inspections, which should take around eight weeks, the EDF Energy spokeswoman said.
EDF Energy has been incorporating extra checks into its strategy for its aging nuclear plants since it inherited them from previous operator British Energy, she said.
British Energy was delisted in 2009 following financial collapse. Several unplanned outages had reduced its power output, and its load factor – the ratio of actual output to its maximum capacity – fell to its lowest level of 56 percent in 2009, Britain’s National Archives show.
This compares with EDF’s average load factor for its French nuclear fleet of 73 percent in 2013, which is also down from its highest level of 77.6 percent in 2005, the company’s 2013 results show.
The fleet’s net output of electricity has declined from 429 terawatt hours in 2005 to 404 TWh last year, though this could be for a range of reasons, including weak energy demand.
Apart from reducing the reliability of Europe’s electricity supply, operators stand to lose many millions of euros from a single outage from lost electricity sales alone.
Reuters calculations, based on industry estimates of lost daily electricity sales, show the outages at two EDF Energy plants could cost the firm some 155 million pounds during the outages from when they began in June or August to October, not including the costs of inspection and maintenance work.
Industry sources say the lost revenue from the loss of output at a 1 gigawatt plant could reach 1 million pounds a day.
British utility Centrica, which owns 20 percent of EDF Energy’s nuclear fleet, said on Monday the reduction in output would reduce its earnings per share by around 0.3 pence this year.
More than half of Belgium’s nuclear capacity is offline for maintenance. The three closed reactors are 29, 31 and 32 years old.
Though it doesn’t break out the nuclear data separately, statistics from Europe’s electricity industry association Eurelectric show both planned and unplanned outages mostly increased at thermal power plants in eight European countries examined, and periods of energy unavailability increased from around 12.8 percent in 2002 to 18.3% in 2011.
As the plants age, that can only increase.
About three years ago, theworld stood witness to the second- most aggressive nuclear disaster of our era since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. Across world media, Japanese nuclear workers were seen fighting frantically to cool down three nuclear reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant at a time when the reactors were in full swing and damaged by both the most powerful earthquake that ever hit Japan and a violent tsunami with waves towering 12 to 14metres in height.
Sending shockwaves throughout the globe, the disaster devastated the region, its inhabitants and its wild life. Not tomention the thousands and thousands of lives lost and count less severe injuries to those who were fortunate to survive. Survivors were left homeless and dispirited. Their homeland devastated by critical levels of radiation; the region plagued by nuclear contamination that was set to outlive most of the survivors.
More than three years on, and not without concern, the situation on site remains extremely volatile. There is still a very real and serious threat of nuclear proliferation coming fromthe same power plant. Continuing to date, hundreds of tonnes of radioactive water is generated by the first four units of the Fukushima power plant. This situation is aggravated by the seeming inability of the Japanese operator’s nuclear experts to stop the fission of hundreds of tonnes of uranium inside the reactors of units 1, 2 and 3 and that of the 250 tonnes of uranium bars stocked into the fuel spent pool of Unit 4. Hundreds of tonnes of radioactive water is polluting the Pacific Ocean, the soil, the subsoil and the groundwater of the Fukushima Daiichi site and its surroundings. It is hard to fathom the reach of the impact of continuous radioactivity focused in one area over protracted periods of time. The full range of consequences is potentially immeasurable.
The rate of radioactivity released into the atmosphere in Fukushima remains dangerously high for the flora, fauna and not to mention the risk of contamination to human beings generally. This stands as a continued blow to Fukushima’s and its neighbouring areas’ rehabilitation post 2011.
Despite this, ecological organisations, local media, relevant Japanese authorities appear to be mute on the dangers. The general silence on the subject has given the world the false impression that the Fukushima site is clear of all nuclear danger. This no doubt helped boost Japan’s subsequent successful bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. The Fukushima nuclear disaster is not a national problem limited to Japanese borders. Radioactive emissions raise very real cross- border concerns. Perhaps the Japanese authorities should have called upon the competencies of other countries specialised in nuclear civil energy, which are-well- armed to fight against this nuclear disaster, so as to avoid radioactive emissions being generated over protracted periods of time.
At the time of writing this article, it has not yet been declared with any degree of certainty by independent international nuclear energy organisations when this horrendous nuclear accident will be totally brought under control. Three years on, there is no conclusive confirmation of the safety of the Fukushima plant. This makes for a very dangerous situation, with consequences that may well be immeasurable in the longer term.
On a different note, some very effective nuclear technologies for the production of efficient and safe energy have widely been painted with uncertainty and negativity. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, swarms of protesters and lobbyistswere quick to jump on to the bandwagon in an attempt to dissuade global participants from further monopolising nuclear energy. Not even France, widely regarded as a leading force in civil nuclear power generation, was spared unjustified criticism. It is important to note that France generates approximately 80 per cent of its energy demands through nuclear energy and also supplies neighbouring countries on the back of its nuclear exploits. It has done so for decades without disaster.
Disasters do not happen on their own. They are often the result of gross mistakes. The present- day challenge is to learn from past mistakes with a view to modernise practices to assure highest standards of safety.
The UAE has set a strong example for countries that have adopted less- favourable nuclear energy policies due to fears of another Fukushima- like disaster in their backyard without necessarily realising or being aware of the grave errors committed during the construction, operation and maintenance phases of the Fukushima nuclear plant. For the construction of the Braka nuclear power plant of 5,600MWe, consisting of four units each with reactor APR- 1400, the UAE has developed a sophisticated framework with the highest international safety standards, applying full transparency and maintaining close collaboration with national and international entities — principally, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Association of Nuclear Operators.
As such, Fukushima is taken as a word of warning and not as a door- closer on nuclear energy development as an achievable alternative conduit for safe, sustainable and environmentfriendly alternative to other conventional sources of energy.
WASHINGTON — As Ukraine looks like a country teetering on the edge of war, there’s an important factor to keep an eye on: the country’s 15 nuclear reactors.
“There haven’t been many conflicts in states with nuclear power facilities in the past, so we’re really entering unknown territory here,” said Jeffrey Mankoff, deputy director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Russia and Eurasia Program. NATO has already shown its concern, sending a small team of civilian experts to Ukraine in April to advise the government on the safety of its infrastructure.
There is a historical component to the anxiety: In April 1986, a reactor of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Chornobyl exploded, causing the worst nuclear disaster in history, and a high rate of cancer among emergency workers and people living in the affected areas even today. Chornobyl happened in a time of peace: Today, Ukraine’s reactors operate near a war zone.
Closest to the fighting is Zaporizhzhya nuclear power station, which houses six separate reactors.
There are doubts about the safety mechanisms in place in these power plants. German public broadcaster ARD has warned that “a second Chornobyl disaster will be inevitable if the fighting in Ukraine cannot be stopped.” Sergej Boschko, who heads Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency, told ARD that “no nuclear power plant is protected against military attacks. They are not made for war, they are made for peace.”
Nuclear material also presents a problem: ARD reports that 100 containers of burned nuclear fuels were found in the open air 190 kilometres away from the front line. This waste product is radioactive and dangerous if stored incorrectly.
Hans- Josef Allelein, the chairman of Germany’s Institute for Reactor Safety and Reactor Technology, said these reports would indicate a “real danger” if true. “Such containers could theoretically be used as dirty bombs,” Allelein explained. “In the end, the area around a nuclear power plant needs to be secured with a reliable airdefence system as it is for example installed at French power plants.”
Although that’s a risk, other experts doubt things would go that far. “If Russia’s goal is to establish influence, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to cause a nuclear disaster with border- crossing mass casualties and radiation,” Mankoff said, instead suggesting that a nuclear reactor is far more likely to be hit by accident than intentionally.
Unfortunately, even with these risks, shutting down the plants is unrealistic. According to the U. S. Energy Information Administration, Ukraine’s energy consumption relies on nuclear energy by 18 per cent, and coal contributes about 28 per cent. Much of the rest of Ukraine’s power supply comes from another troubled source: gas from Russia. “If the winter is cold and other countries don’t jump in to help Ukraine, its energy resources could be exhausted by early spring,” said Ilya Zaslavskiy, a Robert Bosch Fellow at the London- based Chatham House.
As Ukraine looks like a country teetering on the edge of war, there’s an important factor to keep an eye on: the country’s 15 nuclear reactors.
“There haven’t been many conflicts in states with nuclear power facilities in the past, so we’re really entering unknown territory here,” said Jeffrey Mankoff, deputy director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Russia and Eurasia Program. NATO has already shown its concern, sending a small team of civilian experts to Ukraine in April to advise the government on the safety of its infrastructure.
There is a historical compo- nent to the anxiety: In April 1986, a reactor of the Ukrainian nuclear-power plant at Chornobyl exploded, causing the worst nuclear disaster in history, and a high rate of cancer among emergency workers and people living in the affected areas even today. Chornobyl happened in a time of peace: Today, Ukraine’s reactors operate near a war zone.
Closest to the fighting is Zaporizhzhya nuclear power station, which houses six separate reactors.
There are doubts about the safety mechanisms in place in these power plants. German public broadcaster ARD has warned that “a second Chornobyl disaster will be inevitable if the fighting in Ukraine cannot be stopped.”
Sergej Boschko, who heads Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency, told ARD that “no nuclear power plant is protected against military attacks. They are not made for war, they are made for peace.”
Nuclear material also presents a problem: ARD reports that 100 containers of burned nuclear fuels were found in the open air 190 kilometres away from the front line. This waste product is radioactive and dangerous if stored incorrectly.
Hans-Josef Allelein, the chairman of Germany’s Institute for Reactor Safety and Reactor Technology, said these reports would indicate a “real danger” if true. “Such containers could theoretically be used as dirty bombs,” Allelein explained. “In the end, the area around a nuclear power plant needs to be secured with a reliable air defence system as it is for example installed at French power plants.”
Although that’s a risk, other ex- perts doubt things would go that far. “If Russia’s goal is to establish influence, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to cause a nuclear disaster with border-crossing mass casualties and radiation,” Mankoff said, instead suggesting that a nuclear reactor is far more likely to be hit by accident than intentionally.
Unfortunately, even with these risks, shutting down the plants is unrealistic. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Ukraine’s energy consumption relies on nuclear energy by 18 per cent, and coal contributes about 28 per cent. Much of the rest of Ukraine’s power supply comes from another troubled source — gas from Russia. “If the winter is cold and other countries don’t jump in to help Ukraine, its energy resources could be exhausted by early spring,” said Ilya Zaslavskiy, a Robert Bosch Fellow at the London-based Chatham House.
DELAYS in restarting four key nuclear power stations after a safety shutdown could bring an electricity crisis this winter.
The shutdowns have dangerously narrowed the gap between demand and the amount which National Grid can supply to homes and businesses.
The squeeze is now likely to step up the regime where major energy users, such as factories, are paid millions to shut down in peak evening periods.
This strict measure is vital to protect homes and families by ensuring there is enough electricity on the grid to keep the lights and heating on.
Separately, National Grid has asked power firms to boost supplies this winter to cover the threatened shortfall.
The problems will be seen as further evidence that Britain’s dilapidated energy supply system cannot meet the nation’s needs.
Critics will also point to the decision to spend billions on green energy. Fears over
‘We will be cutting it to the bone’
winter supplies were prompted by the temporary shutdown of four nuclear reactors at Heysham and Hartlepool owned by EDF Energy.
A crack was found in a boiler at one of them in August and the closure was initially expected to be short term.
But now the French power giant is warning there will be only be a ‘phased return’ between the end of October and the end of December.
Analyst Peter Atherton, of Liberum Capital, said: ‘These are old reactors and when you go to solve one problem, you often find another you didn’t know about.
‘That could put them out of action for months. Losing these power stations also means we have lost the very small amount of fat in the system.
‘If the weather’s unusually bad or there isn’t enough wind or some- thing else goes wrong, then we will be cutting it to the bone.’ Regulator Ofgem and National Grid, which runs the power distribution network, will pay major energy users £75million in the next two years to turn off l i ghts and machines on weekday winter afternoons. The cost will go on to the bills of homes and businesses. Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group, said this sort of drastic action might be expected in a Third World nation.
‘This can’t be a sustainable way of managing the energy system,’ he added. ‘Industry has to have access to secure power supplies.’
It is unlikely Scotland’s two nuclear power stations will be able to make up any shortfall. Work began only last month on a major overhaul at Hunterston in Ayrshire.
EDF Energy is investing more than £20million to extend the working life of the plant, which opened in 1976, by a further seven years.
It was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2011 but will now generate electricity until 2023.
Station director Colin Weir said: ‘We have to look at what’s ageing and replace some components.’
The nuclear plant at Torness in East Lothian began operating in 1988 and is due to be decommissioned in 2023.
The Nuclear Energy Institute — the corporate lobbyist in Washington, D.C. for the disintegrating atomic power industry — doesn’t have to worry about repercussions from the negative impacts of nuclear power. For nuclear power is a government/ taxpayer-guaranteed boondoggle whose staggering costs, incurred and deferred, are absorbed by American taxpayers via a supine government regulatory and subsidy apparatus.
So if you go to work at the NEI and you read about the absence of any permanent radioactive waste storage site, no problem, the government/taxpayers are responsible for transporting and safeguarding that lethal garbage for centuries.
If your reactors experience ever larger cost overruns and delays, as is now happening with two new reactors in South Carolina, no problem — the supine state regulatory commissions will just pass the bill on to consumers, despite the fact that consumers receive no electricity from these unfinished plants.
If these plants, and two others in Georgia under construction, experience financial squeezes fromWall Street, no problem, a supine Congress has already passed ample taxpayer loan guarantees thatmake Uncle Sam (you, the taxpayer) bear the cost of the risk.
If there were to be an accident such as the one that happened in Fukushima, Japan, no problem, under the Price-Anderson Act, the government/taxpayers bear the cost of the vast amount of damage from any nuclear power plantmeltdown. To put this cost into perspective, a report by the Atomic Energy Commission about 50 years ago estimated that a class-9 meltdown couldmake an area “the size of Pennsylvania” uninhabitable.
Why do we stand for such a doomsday technology all over America that is uneconomic, uninsurable, unsafe, unnecessary (it can’t compete with energy conservation and renewable energies), unevacuable (try evacuating the greater New York City area froma disaster at the two Indian Point plants 30miles fromManhattan) and unprotectable (either from sabotage or earthquake)?
David Freeman, the famous energy engineer and lawyer, who has run four giant utilities (the Tennessee Valley Authority, the SMUD complex — where he closed the Rancho Seco Nuclear Plant — the New York Power Authority and the Los Angeles Department ofWater and Power), sums up the history of nuclear power thisway: “Nuclear power, promoted as too cheap tometer, turned out to be too expensive to use, the road to nuclear proliferation, and the creator of radioactive trash that has no place to go.” Right-wing conservative/libertarians call it extreme “crony capitalism.”
Nuclear power plants are shutting down. In 2013, four reactors shut down: Crystal River 3, Kewaunee, San Onofre 2 and San Onofre 3. Now, Michael Peck, a senior federal nuclear expert, is urging that the last nuke plant left in California, Diablo Canyon, be shut down until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s regulators can demonstrate that the two reactors at this site can withstand shaking fromthree nearby earthquake faults.
Meanwhile, the human, environmental and economic disasters at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plants keep metastasizing. Scientists are producing studies that show serious biological effects (genetic damage andmutation rates) of radiation on plant, insect and bird life in and around the large, cordoned off, uninhabitable area surrounding these closed down reactors. The giant politically-influential electric utility company underestimated the likelihood of a powerful earthquake and tsunami. In the early nineteen-seventies, the industry and its governmental patrons were expecting 1,000 nuclear plants — 100 of themalong the California coast — to be operating by the year 2000. Instead, a littlemore than a hundredwere built nationwide. In reality, as of 2014, there are only 100 operable reactors, many of which are aging.
The pitfalls are real and numerous. In addition to growing public opposition, and lower-priced natural gas attracting electric utilities, there are the ever-present, skyrocketing costs and delays of construction, repair and the question of where to store nuclear waste. These costs are what make Wall Street financiers turn their backs on nuclear power unless the industry can ram more tens of billions of dollars in government/taxpayer loan guarantees through Congress. Andwhat is all this nuclear technology, from the uranium mines to the nuclear plants to the still absentwaste storage dumps for? To boil water!
These are the tragic follieswhen the corporate masters and their political minions, who are ready and willing to guarantee taxpayer funding, have no “skin in the game.” This kind of staggering power without responsibility is indeed radioactive.
WHILE others might argue differently, saying that the country and its citizens stand to benefit enormously from the plan to introduce nuclear energy, the reality is that the government risks being accused of being undemocratic if it pushes ahead with the project without a public consultation.
Irrespective of many beliefs that the nuclear power project will open the door for the country to access technologies, funding and nuclear development infrastructure or bring thousands of jobs, first and foremost proper consultation is highly required to iron out pressing issues, costs and the safety of the entire population.
There are more negatives than positives in this multibillionrand nuclear power project.
Those pushing for the project should take into consideration Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
If successfully brought here to our shores, the project could in the long run create dangerous longterm radioactive waste with heavy requirements for safe custody over a period of hundreds of years.
For example, the Fukushima nuclear disaster is the fresh reminder of the risks to health and safety of citizens should a nuclear meltdown ever occur in South Africa.
Others are already arguing that the project will allow the country to implement ambitious plans for the creation by 2030 of 9 600MW of new nuclear capacities based on modern and safe technologies.
But for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), that does not count.
The union stands firm in its belief that the usage of other renewable energy should be an option rather than opting for nuclear energy.
At its central committee conference four months ago, the union expressed its concerns and called on the government to take the views and aspirations of South Africans first before going ahead with the project.
After careful engagement, the union has noted the challenges in financing nuclear energy projects, the apparent nuclear project management skills deficit, time delays and budget overruns, radioactive waste management and safety and health risks associated with nuclear energy, therefore concludes that the country is not ready to embrace nuclear energy.
They instead supported the project for medicinal and research purposes. The union emphasised that its position against the nuclear energy was not a battle that could only be waged and won in airconditioned boardrooms, this is a struggle to be waged through the rollingout of mass action across the country and will be mobilising resources and progressive forces to this effect.
Furthermore, a project of this nature must be transparent and the investment must be costeffective since nuclear projects are inherently expensive. Any arrangement behind
» closed doors of a project like this will be deeply concerning.
Once again, the union’s national executive committee pronounced itself recently that it supported the energy mix and exploration and usage on other renewable energy options.
The NEC believes that there needs to be proper consultation in line with the Constitution. In terms of Section 2117(1) in furthering service delivery through tendering processes, the government must consult, which it has not done adequately thus far.
This followed media reports that the government has already signed a trillion rand nuclear deal with the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) in secret.
The cost is nonsensical, this is according to general secretary Frans Baleni.
The NUM has noted that the Medupi and Kusile coalfired stations under construction together cost less than the nuclear deal, but are expected to generate the same amount of electricity.
“It just doesn’t make sense and we know that expenditure of this nature starts small and is underbudgeted and they go way above and then we talk about economic creativity, meaning corruption,” Baleni argues.
Also of important concern is that the country has no policy framework to deal with the management of nuclear waste.
Allowing the project to continue will also violate priorities agreed to in the government’s New Growth Path (NDP).
The NDP cautions the government not to rush on nuclear investment. In addition, the Integrated Resource Plan clearly indicates that South Africa should consider nuclear investment at least after 2025.
These are government prescripts which the government is not following. It sets a bad precedence if the government itself does not follow its own official recommendations. Other stakeholders may not feel obliged to follow national plans in the future.
Nuclear energy at the moment is one of the worst choices in South Africa. It is nothing more than a dead end and likely to double electricity prices, while putting many South Africans at risk. @Nana_ MJ: @Muzi_ Designer: Generations’ fault @AncCadres: Revolution!!! @LeksDogg: RT @AncCadres: Revolution!!!
Kelly Khumalo and Senzo Meyiwa back together
@mpumisan: and let the goals rain @tembisa_ J: early morning news @madala101: Is Senzo still married @madala101: did Senzo perhaps divorce his wife. cc @kelly_khumalo @MSkhao: err @YayaRSA: They must NEVER! @Hurtism: It’s going to be suspended like Generations @BayaMdingi: Claps once... @De_Imperial: Hahaha... @SamkeloMiya: this the couple that helps the Rand get stronger. I think. @MafkaRadebe: Kelly ur old for Senzo...wer is jub jub nw
@AMKENThonkha: The best we have in mzansi @Miss_ LIRA
War with an industrial power and nuclear technology developed under military rule does not preclude a country from enriching uranium. Just ask Argentina. As world powers reached an impasse with Iran over its nuclear work, Argentina says it will become just the 11th nation to begin large-scale enrichment of the heavy metal used for industrial, medical and energy applications. It has been producing enriched uranium on an experimental scale since the 1980s, the government told the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting in Buenos Aires last month. Rafael Mariano Grossi, Argentina’s international atomic energy agency ambassador, says negotiators at loggerheads in Vienna should pay more attention to cases such as his country, where scientists used nuclear research as a base to develop other technologies such as radar and satellites. “In the mid-1980s, due to financial restrictions, the domestic nuclear programme was paralysed,” says Mr Grossi, who also chairs the Nuclear Suppliers Group that guards against unfettered access to atomic materials and technology. Key for the longevity of Argentina’s nuclear programme was its ability to identify “products and expertise which were marketable”, he says. Diplomats who haggled with Iran for 16 days in Vienna were hesitant to apply lessons from Argentina’s nuclear rehabilitation following its defeat by the United Kingdom in the 1982 Falkland War and subsequent transition to civilian rule. Nuclear dilemmas the globe is facing in Argentina and Iran are unique unto themselves, says a US official at the Iran talks who asked not to be named. “We’ve always been weak in learning the lessons from other nuclear cases,” says the UK’s former ambassador to Iran, Richard Dalton. Without a blueprint to go by, “dealing with Iran is very difficult”. Iran says international nuclear markets cannot be trusted to supply the fuel it needs. World powers point to Iran’s inconsistent history on issues of nuclear transparency to argue for higher verification standards before Iran can be trusted to wield the technology. While touting promised access to more advanced nuclear technologies and the substantial economic benefits that a long- term accord would yield for Iran, the US official says the country should under no condition be allowed to mount industrial-scale enrichment for at least a decade. While Iran has mastered uranium-enrichment technology that can be used both to generate power and build weapons, it is contractually bound until 2022 to buy highprecision fuel for its sole nuclear plant in Bushehr from Russia’s state-owned Rosatom. Global nuclear vendors such as Rosatom, Areva and Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric make money not only by selling reactors but also by supplying the complex low-enriched-uranium fuel assemblies that power them. After cracking the enrichment code in the 1980s, Argentina decided to forgo immediate expansion to industrial- scale enrichment, opting to concentrate resources on developing intellectual property around research reactors and fuel design, Mr Grossi says. “The strategy paid off and turned Argentina into a credible middlesize actor in the nuclear market with a clear niche and a growing capacity,” says Mr Grossi, who also negotiated with Iran as a former IAEA diplomat.
Argentina has sold, built and serviced reactors in Algeria, Australia, Egypt and Peru. Iran awarded Argentina a contract to modify its Tehran Research Reactor in 1987.
Frank von Hippel, a Princeton University physicist who has been advising US nuclear policymakers for three decades, says negotiators risk missing another opportunity with Iran if they do not start paying attention to historical precedents.
“Uranium enrichment is a generic problem, it’s not an Iranian problem,” says Mr von Hippel. “It’s been recognised since 1946 as a dangerous technology. The Iran issue is more about national pride and not wanting to get gouged on prices by the Russians.”
When production begins at Argentina’s Pilcaniyeu enrichment facility, 60km outside Bariloche, it will use the gaseous diffusion enrichment technology that had been exclusively used to manufacture nuclear weapons when it was built.
That should not necessarily worry the international community, according to William Miller, the US diplomat appointed by the US president Jimmy Carter who was set to become America’s new ambassador to Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution intervened. Just as Argentina’s government transitioned from military to civilian rule, the nature of the Iranian regime has changed too, he says.
“Iran has developed from a revolutionary society into a stable democratic theocracy.”
The surprise revelation of Argentina’s enrichment programme was one of history’s most “startling and dismaying failures of intelligence gathering”, according to a report published by the US department energy. The threat of potential similar intelligence failures in Iran is driving concern among policy makers who want to prevent a secret Iranian breakout from its commitments and a race to nuclear weapons. Amid the clamour around the Iranian nuclear programme, world powers are learning how to regulate adversarial entry into the global enrichment-services market, says Mr von Hippel, who was a science and technology adviser to the US president Bill Clinton.
“We shouldn’t let this kind of opportunity go to waste,” he says.
VIENNA (AP) — The top U.S. and Iranian diplomats searched Monday for a breakthrough in nuclear talks, their efforts complicated by crises across the Middle East and beyond that have Washington and Tehran aligned in some places but often opposed.
The state of U.S.-Iranian relations was adding a new wrinkle to the long negotiation aimed at curbing the Islamic republic’s uranium and plutonium programs.
While the two sides are arguably fighting proxy wars in Israel, Gaza and Syria, they’re talking cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, perhaps in a first, the nuclear matter is battling for full attention.
U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif spoke for about two hours around midday Monday, the second day of talks in Vienna. They gathered again in the afternoon, hoping to make progress before Sunday’s initial deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement. An extension of the deadline is possible, though there are opponents of that idea on both sides.
“We are in the middle of talks about nuclear proliferation and reining in Iran’s program,” Kerry told U.S. Embassy staff in Vienna during a break in the conversations. “It is a really tough negotiation.”
But other matters were being discussed, too, including Afghanistan, where Kerry visited before Vienna to broker a power- sharing agreement between rival presidential candidates and a full audit of their contested election.
As the two diplomats sat down Sunday, Zarif called Kerry’s Afghan mediation “extremely important” for the Afghan people and echoed the need “to ensure the national unity of Afghanistan and prevent its breakup.”
“We agree,” Kerry said. “And it’s good to begin with an agreement.”
But even as the U.S. and Iran have recently found increasing areas for cooperation, such as stemming a flow of Sunni extremists into Iraq, they remain diametrically opposed elsewhere.
The U.S-Iranian regional divide was underscored Monday as the Israeli military downed a drone launched by Gaza militants — the first such unmanned aircraft encountered since the start of the Jewish state’s offensive last week.
Suppose that a giant hydro dam had crumbled under the impact of the biggest earthquake in a century and sent a wave of water racing down some valley in northern Japan. Imagine that whole villages and towns had been swept away, and that ten thousand people were killed - an even worse death toll than that caused by the tsunami that hit the coastal towns.
Would there be a great outcry worldwide, demanding that reservoirs be drained and hydro dams shut down? Of course not. Do you think we are superstitious savages? We are educated, civilized people, and we understand the way that risk works.
Okay, another thought experiment. Suppose that three big nuclear power reactors were damaged in that same monster earthquake, leading to concerns about a meltdown and a massive release of radiation - a new Chernobyl. Everybody within a 20-km (14-mile) radius of the plant was evacuated, but in the end there were only minor leakages of radiation, and nobody was killed.
Well, that was a pretty convincing demonstration of the safety of nuclear power, wasn’t it? Well, wasn’t it? You there in the loincloth, with the bone through your nose. Why are you looking so frightened? Is something wrong?
In Germany, tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated against nuclear power last Saturday, and Chancellor Angela Merkel suspended her policy of extending the life of the country’s nuclear power stations until 2036.
She conceded that, following events in Japan, it was not possible to “go back to business as usual,” meaning that she may return to the original plan to close down all 17 of Germany’s nuclear power plants by 2020.
In Britain, energy secretary Chris Huhne took a more measured approach: “As Europe seeks to remove carbon based fuels from its economy, there is a long term debate about finding the right mix between nuclear energy and energy generated from renewable sources.... The events of the last few days haven’t done the nuclear industry any favours.” I wouldn’t invest in the promised new generation of nuclear power plants in Britain either.
And in the United States, Congressmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey (Democratic), who co-sponsored the 2009 climate bill, called for hearings into the safety and preparedness of America’s nuclear plants, 23 of which have similar designs to the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.
The alleged “nuclear renaissance” of the past few years was always a bit of a mirage so far as the West was concerned.
China and India have big plans for nuclear energy, with dozens of reactors under construction and many more planned.
In the United States, by contrast, there was no realistic expectation that more than four to six new reactors would be built in the next decade even before the current excitements.
The objections to a wider use of nuclear power in the United States are mostly rational. Safety worries are a much smaller obstacle than concerns about cost and time: nuclear plants are enormously expensive, and they take the better part of a decade to license and build. Huge cost overruns are normal, and government aid, in the form of loan guarantees and insurance coverage for catastrophic accidents, is almost always necessary.
The cost of wind and solar power is steadily dropping, and the price of natural gas, the least noxious fossil-fuel alternative to nuclear power, has been in freefall. There is no need for a public debate in the United States on the desirability of more nuclear power: just let the market decide. In Europe, however, there is a real debate, and the wrong side is winning it.
The European debate has focused on shutting down existing nuclear generating capacity, not installing more of it. The German and Swedish governments may be forced by public opinion to revive the former policy of phasing out all their nuclear power plants in the near future, even though that means postponing the shut-down of highly polluting coal-fired power plants. Other European governments face similar pressures.
It’s a bad bargain. Hundreds of miners die every year digging the coal out of the ground, and hundreds of thousands of other people die annually from respiratory diseases caused by the pollution created by burning it.
In the long run, hundreds of millions may die from the global warming that is driven in large part by greenhouse emissions from coal-fired power plants. Yet people worry more about nuclear power.
It’s the same sort of mistaken assessment of risk that caused millions of Americans to drive long distances instead of flying in the months just after 9/11. There were several thousand excess road deaths, while nobody died in the airplanes that the late lamented had avoided as too dangerous. Risks should be assessed rationally, not emotionally.
And here’s the funny thing. So long as the problems at Fukushima Daiichi do not kill large numbers of people, the Japanese will not turn against nuclear power, which currently provides over 30 percent of their electricity and is scheduled to expand to 40 percent.
Their islands get hit by more big earthquakes than anywhere else on Earth, and the typhoons roar in regularly off the Pacific. They understand about risk.
NUCLEAR power has been in the news lately, particularly the fact that the government has decided to commission an extra 9 600MW of nuclear power.
South Africa now has the only nuclear power station in Africa, Koeberg near Cape Town. It is 2 000MW in output so the new 9 600MW will represent three new power stations, all larger than Koeberg. This is a big undertaking.
Why was Koeberg built near Cape Town?
Most of South Africa’s electricity is produced from coal but all the coal is in the far northeast of the country in Mpumalanga and northern KwaZulu-Natal.
The distance from the coalfields to Cape Town is the same as from Rome to London. Koeberg produces about half the power for the Western Cape, with the rest coming from the coalfields.
This is a dangerous situation. Imagine if London had to draw half its electricity from Rome. Imagine what could go wrong over that distance and plunge half of London into darkness.
So we urgently need to build largescale nuclear power in the Cape to produce electricity for the southern half of South Africa.
Somebody is immediately going to say; what about wind and solar power? Let us get that out of the way now.
Wind and solar is tiny by comparison, only a few percent by installed capacity. But watch it! Don’t rely on the “installed capacity” figure because wind and solar are intermittent.
You only get wind power when the wind blows and only get solar for part of the daylight hours. So if somebody says there is 100MW of installed wind power it means that at times there is very little or zero if the wind isn’t blowing.
You can’t run an electric train from Cape Town to Johannesburg on wind power, end of story.
So we need reliable power like nuclear.
“Oh dear,” someone will say, “Nuclear is so dangerous, look at Fukushima.”
So what actually happened at Fukushima?
Well, after all the hype and drama started to clear it has turned out that at Fukushima nobody was killed by nuclear radiation, nobody was even injured and no property damaged by radiation. Zero, nothing.
So a very old nuclear power station of an outdated design was hit by the biggest earthquake and tsunami on record and the result was that the nuclear reactors produced no harm. So the real lesson of Fukushima is that nuclear power is safe.
In his state of the nation address President Jacob Zuma said the country was going to spend R1 trillion on infrastructure development like road, rail and harbours. People applauded. Good! But then newspapers report that the nuclear power programme may cost R1 trillion and people groan and say, “Oh no.” Why?
Note that in 2013 the director general of energy, Nelisiwe Magubane, said South Africa was aiming for 50% localisation on the first nuclear power plant. That means hundreds of billions spent in South Africa.
That is excellent news for a wide variety of companies, large and small. That means jobs for many people ranging from qualified engineers to artisans of all types.
We need welders, toolmakers, electricians and we need good ones.
Recently I did a welding inspection at a company in Johannesburg and I saw local welders from Johannesburg doing some of the best welding in the world. They were excellent.
Small companies can become part of the nuclear supply chain. A small company needs only to make, say, three or four types of valves and they can be in business as long as they make them really well to nuclear grade standard.
You don’t have to be one of the big giants to enter the nuclear fabrication world.
South Africa is one of the oldest nuclear countries in the world; we have been in nuclear for more than 60 years. We have the knowledge and experience.
Should the public be worried about nuclear radiation, or nuclear waste? The answer is no. We have the professionals who know how to handle all of this.
Of course, radiation is potentially dangerous but so is dynamite. If it is handled professionally then there is no cause for concern.
By the way, Koeberg was designed and built to withstand a bigger earthquake and tsunami than Fukushima, and there is no earthquake or tsunami threat in the Cape.
What about nuclear waste? South Africa has one of the oldest nuclear waste repositories in the world at Vaalputs in the Northern Cape, run very professionally by people from the area. The facility is nearly 30 years old.
South Africa has very little reserve margin of electricity production right now. We are running far too close to capacity for comfort. We are pushing at the edge of mass blackouts virtually every day.
Lack of electricity is holding back our national economic growth. This is a cause for concern. Poor economic growth is bad for everybody.
We need new, big baseload power and we need it as soon as possible. We will be needing new, big baseload power for the next 20 to 30 years, so we are not talking of a shortterm quick fix.
We need to urge the government to move now on the next steps for nuclear power. We need to give industry the confidence of real planning dates so that we can move with optimum speed on the exciting nuclear power path.
We can do it. We just need South African confidence and self respect right now.
Across the world, the contentious debate over the future of nuclear power continues apace. In East Asia, for instance, it emerged earlier this month that a nuclear plant in Taiwan may have been leaking radioactive water for three years. Meanwhile, Japan is still struggling to contain radioactive water from Fukushima, and in South Korea prosecutors are conducting a huge investigation into forged nuclear safety certificates.
The old controversies over nuclear reactors – their dangers, benefits and costs – remain at the fore. But as politicians, energy experts and the general public weigh the pros and cons, one key element in harnessing energy from the atom is being neglected.
That is, the link between the different methods of producing nuclear power and the nature – and longevity – of the radioactive waste that each method leaves behind. This in turn raises the issue of intergenerational justice: the technical choices we make today will determine the extent of the burden humanity will face in containing contaminated byproducts that can remain radioactive for thousands of years.
While an increasing number of states are being swayed by the fact that nuclear power can enhance domestic energy security, produce large amounts of energy, and emit very low greenhouse gas byproducts, critics nonetheless remain vociferous. They cite the risk of reactor accidents, the dangers of transporting nuclear fuel and fears of proliferation, and the vexing problem of how to deal with the long-lived nuclear waste.
However, what is most striking is the “missing nuclear debate.” Little is said about the major distinctions between the various production methods, or nuclear fuel cycles. Rather than reducing nuclear power to a simple yes/no, good/bad dichotomy, we need to focus first on the advantages and disadvantages of each nuclear energy production method, including the burdens and benefits they pose now and in generations to come. ONE OF the key differentiating features between the various production methods is the nature of waste that is produced after irradiating fuel in a reactor. In the so-called open fuel cycle (common in countries including the United States and Sweden) spent fuel is generally disposed of as waste that will remain radioactive for 200,000 years.
In the alternative, known as the closed fuel cycle, spent fuel is reprocessed in order to extract the redeployable uranium and plutonium, which are then re-entered into the fuel cycle. In the closed fuel cycle, the lifetime of radioactive waste is reduced to about 10,000 years.
Approached from the framework of intergenerational justice, there is a strong case for arguing that people living today should deal with the burdens of nuclear power because we enjoy the lion’s share of benefits. Thus, from a moral point of view, if we want to keep developing nuclear power, the closed fuel cycle is preferable because it reduces radioactive lifetime of waste and the burdens on future generations.
However, the closed cycle brings about another intergenerational dilemma. In order to reduce concern for future generations, we will create short-term safety, security and economic burdens for people currently alive.
Nuclear reprocessing itself is a complex and costly chemical process. More importantly, the plutonium separated during reprocessing in the closed cycle method raises the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons.
A nuclear weapon with the yield of the Nagasaki bomb could be manufactured with a couple of kilograms of plutonium. Even though civilian plutonium emanating from energy reactors is not weapongrade and directly usable for a bomb, it still has some destructive powers.
We need to ensure that promoting the closed cycle method does not spread even more nuclear weapons. While new members of the IAEA have the right to pursue the closed fuel cycle for civil purposes, promoting this cycle poses serious international challenges.
A notable example here is Iran, which insists on reprocessing spent fuel of its single reactor in Bushehr. Serious technological and policy attempts are being made to limit the dangers of proliferation in reprocessing.
But there is an even better prospect for easing the future burden: the development of socalled fast reactors capable of reducing the lifetime of radioactive waste to a couple of hundred years. This involves the development of extended closed fuel cycles based on multiple recycling and new reactor technology. This method, referred to as Partitioning and Transmutation (P&T) has been scientifically proven but may require decades of development before it can be practically applied. Nonetheless, P&T represents a potential breakthrough that could genuinely transform the debate.
Several countries that use nuclear power on a large scale, including China, have decided to build more reactors. Moreover, smaller members of the nuclear energy club with longstanding reservations over future expansion, such as Switzerland, are now re-evaluating their stance. Meanwhile, there is a growing push elsewhere in the world toward the adoption of nuclear energy.
The IAEA estimates that around 50 countries will have nuclear reactors by 2030 – up from 29 today. If these projections are borne out, the 432 nuclear reactors currently operable around the world will be joined by more than 500 others within the next few decades.
This trend doesn’t make the debate about nuclear any less contentious. The polarization of the debate illustrates why the development of new fuel cycles like P&T technology should move to the fore of nuclear energy policy considerations, alongside greater discussion of the pros and cons of the open fuel and closed fuel cycle models.
The debate needs to become more enlightened and inclusive of future technological prospects – and more reflective of the quest for intergenerational justice. It is only on those terms that we can compare nuclear with other energies, such as coal, which can help us answer the thorny question of whether nuclear power has a role to play in the future energy mix and combating climate change.
The writer is an assistant professor of philosophy at the Delft University of Technology who concentrates on issues of ethics and nuclear power.
The consultation process launched by the Alberta government to determine if a nuclear power plant should be built in the Peace River area appears designed to dampen any opposition to the plan.
The Alberta nuclear consultation survey is cleverly formulated to intimidate all those without a scientific background, for example, asking the responders if they can explain the details of Alberta’s electricity system or nuclear energy to others. The responder is asked to affirm whether or not: “I was very familiar with the history of nuclear use in Canada.” In other words, if you don’t have a technical background, is your opinion worth much? Whybother to proceed if you’re not an expert?
It is not so much the technical feasibility of bringing nuclear power to Alberta that needs to be examined and commented upon, but the political, economic and ethical wisdom of such a move.
Downplaying the negatives
The report of the nuclear power expert panel and the government’s subsequent workbook downplay the risk of nuclear accidents, the staggering costs to taxpayers of nuclear power, the link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and the immense new potential of alternate sources of energy.
These are the questions that need open debate at public forums around the province.
The inauguration of a nuclear reactor would profoundly affect the lives of Albertans over the next 50 years. The peaceful use of nuclear energy calls for great efforts to protect both people and the environment and to answer all legitimate questions about the future of the planet.
The debate should not be limited to stakeholder groups out of the media spotlight, nor separated from the international debate already taking place on the future of nuclear power.
The problems surrounding nuclear power lead me to the view that the Peace River reactor should not be proceeded with. Is my opinion to be discounted if I check this box, “I have some understanding of Alberta’s electricity system but not sure of the details”?
Far more important is a debate over the ethics and practicality of introducing nuclear power into Alberta, enabling the public to concentrate on the best ways to promote sustainable development that protects the environment.
Through my work for many years at the United Nations on nuclear issues, I am very conscious that the non-proliferation treaty of four decades ago granted countries the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
But a new era of alternative energy has opened up since then, and in- deed, world leaders at the UN’s 60th anniversary summit in 2005 agreed to “promote innovation, clean energy and energy efficiency and conservation.”
At the very least, it is now incumbent on the proponents of nuclear power to make their case in the light of growing doubts about the wisdom of further investment in nuclear power. A new study by the Pembina Institute found Alberta could go from producing more than 70 per cent of its electricity from coal to 70 per cent from clean energy sources in just 20 years, based on existing technology and rates of deployment already seen in other jurisdictions.
Using proven renewable energy technologies, combined with industrial co-generation and a serious commitment to improved consump- tion efficiency, Alberta could satisfy its growing demand for power while dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful environmental impacts.
The Pembina Institute says Alberta does not need a single new coalfired or nuclear power plant, even if its demand for power doubles in the next 20 years.
That is the kind of statement that now needs open public examination.
For every argument that nuclear power is entering a “renaissance,” there is another that it is headed for obsolescence.
Enough renewable energy
Sixty years after the dawn of the nuclear age, the world is entering a new age when renewable energy shows signs of being able to surpass both fossil fuels and nuclear power in meeting the energy demands of a growing population.
A new International Renewable Energy Agency is already taking shape, and the number of countries investing in renewable rather than nuclear energy is growing.
At this turning point in history, when unstable oil prices, global warming, finite resources, and nuclear dangers all intersect, the world faces a crisis of how to meet rising en- ergy needs in a sustainable manner and without further despoiling the environment.
Can’t ordinary people have a legitimate view on this?
The proponents of nuclear power claim that it is environment-friendly because it produces electricity with almost no greenhouse gas emission. But opponents affirm that this is not true.
Shouldn’t we also publicly debate the risks attached to nuclear power: the link between the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear weapons proliferation, reactor accidents (Chornobyl and Three Mile Island are examples), and the failure of science so far to devise an acceptable means for the disposal of nuclear waste.
Though the risk of accidents, earthquakes or terrorist attacks on nuclear reactors may appear small, the consequences of a misstep are very large.
The public needs to be informed about this and empowered to speak out without rejection by experts, many of whom are hardly objective.
The need for water
A key ethical question needing examination is the use of water.
All nuclear power plants must be situated beside a major supply of cooling water. Already, the oilsands — the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada — requires up to two million barrels of water per day from the Athabasca River to produce one million barrels of oil.
Because climate change has already begun to leave a dramatic mark on the Canadian Rockies through recession of the Alberta Glacier, a recession of volume flows of water is occurring. In short, the oilsands are draining the Athabasca River and contributing to global warming at the same time. Let us debate this point.
In addition, oilsands tailings ponds are despoiling the environment, and the aboriginal population of the area is experiencing declines in ecoresources related to the supply of water in the Athabasca River.
The legitimate requirements of aboriginal peoples must be taken into consideration before further development of the oilsands proceeds. This is one more reason to at least question the ethics of introducing nuclear power, which will speed up the extraction of oil, with unknown consequences to aboriginal peoples.
The issue of nuclear waste must also be dealt with.
Nuclear power production in Canada already produces approximately 85,000 highly radioactive waste fuel bundles each year, along with 500,000 tonnes or more of toxic and radioactive mine tailings (wastes left after uranium extraction).
In fact, each stage of the nuclear energy production process generates large volumes of uniquely hard-tomanage wastes — wastes that in many cases will require care for hundreds of thousands of years.
Currently, no approved long-term plan for the management of these wastes exists in Canada.
The public needs to be alerted to the history of failures in storage facilities for uranium mine tailings in Canada and elsewhere. The problems these waste streams can lead to, including severe contamination of surface water and groundwater with radioactive and conventionally toxic pollutants need to be brought out into the open.
Is it ethical to take the risk of introducing nuclear power into Alberta at the very moment when science has uncovered ways to meet energy needs without such risk?
Let’s debate the efficacy of nuclear power without fear or intimidation.
FEDERAL Labor MPs are calling for Australia to embrace nuclear power, leaving Julia Gillard facing another damaging split in her Government.
Ms Gillard is under pressure to put the divisive issue on next year’s ALP national conference agenda — with MPs claiming voters care more about power bills than gay marriage.
Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson last night said those advocating nuclear power had as much right to have the issue debated at the showcase event as those backing changes to gay marriage laws.
Defying Labor’s official ban on nuclear power, a number of MPs have gone public in their support for the low-carbon energy source.
‘‘ My view is that all forms of energy supply should be under active consideration,’’ former frontbencher Mark Bishop said.
Senator Bishop said the ‘‘ Government should give more active consideration to putting nuclear into the equation of all forms of energy supply, particularly those that are subsidised’’.
NSW Senator Steve Hutchins also wants nuclear power debated after Ms Gillard this week argued that a price on carbon would be a high priority for her Government.
‘‘ In my opinion it should be
part of the [energy] debate if we want to have a clean future,’’ he said.
‘‘ I cannot see us returning to living in the cave and burning fallen timber to keep us warm.’’
Privately a number of ministers support nuclear power being considered along with coal, solar and other energy sources as part of Australia’s future energy mix.
The nuclear push will receive a boost today when Mr Ferguson releases a report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. The study finds nuclear power will be cheaper than traditional coal-fired power stations and renewables such as solar — once Australia introduces a carbon tax.
Labor MP Chris Hayes said Australia would soon become the biggest exporter of uranium as he called for nuclear to be included in the energy debate. ‘‘ Why would we simply reject it out of hand?’’ Mr Hayes said.
Senator Michael Forshaw said key regional players were rapidly embracing nuclear power. ‘‘ I am not one who says we should never, ever contemplate the possibility of nuclear. It should be part of a broad debate about cleaner energy,’’ he said.
Senator Hutchins wants the issue on the agenda for the ALP national conference.
‘‘ It is more important for the country’s future than gay marriage and it affects a lot more people,’’ he said.
Mr Ferguson said he believed those advocating change should have the chance to state their case at Labor’s showcase event.
‘‘ They have as much right to discuss nuclear at the 2011 conference as other people have to debate the issue of gay and lesbian marriage,’’ he said.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific lashed out at the ALP over the issue last night.
Spokesman Stephen Campbell said nuclear power and its waste were a threat to people and the environment and ‘‘ not a solution to climate change’’.
‘‘ It’s also too expensive and too unsafe. If the ALP went down that road, they would be costing the taxpayers billions of dollars to establish the technology, while renewable energy is safer, cheaper and much easier to build,’’ he said.
THE N-word was once taboo in debates on Australia’s future energy sources. Nuclear power was considered risky, dangerous and responsible for the production of radioactive waste that remains toxic for thousands of years.
Suddenly, nuclear has gone from fringe to mainstream as countries around the world search for an answer to climate change and dwindling coal supplies.
Public opinion is shifting and this week came a push from within the Labor Party for a serious debate on atomic energy in Australia.
Far from risky, dangerous and toxic, proponents say nuclear power is safe, clean and cost-efficient.
An Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering report released yesterday argued nuclear power could become financially viable in Australia within 20 years.
Report author Dr John Burgess said nuclear power had two key benefits – continuous output and no carbon emissions.
‘‘So compared to some of the other technologies it looks quite favourable financially at that time when the carbon price is climbing up to $80 a tonne in about 2030,’’ he said.
Public opinion also appears to be shifting on the nuclear debate.
In 1979, McNair Gallup poll found 34 per cent of Australians supported the construction of nuclear power stations in Australia, while 56 per cent opposed it.
Last year, the same poll found about half (49 per cent) support nuclear power in Australia, while 43 per cent oppose it.
But Federal Greens leader Bob Brown said yesterday while a majority of Australians might support nuclear power, it was too expensive and would be damaging to the environment.
‘‘The opinion polls show there may be a majority of Australians who would back nuclear power, but there’s a vast majority who don’t want it in their backyard,’’ he said.
In that climate, a clutch of Right- faction senators want the merits of nuclear power debated within the context of climate change at the Labor Party’s convention next year.
Their motives are at least threefold: First, there’s a strong element of tit-for-tat in their call. The Right is angry at the re-emergence of the gay marriage debate which is now listed on the conference agenda scheduled for late next year.
It views the issue as a boutique one affecting a minority, and one which leaves the ALP open to the charge it is in thrall to an inner-city Greens agenda.
This in turn gives rise to their second motive for raising the nuclear debate right now: to wedge the Greens politically. Labor MPs have long been incensed by what many see as a gaping hole in greenpolitics; the blindspot over nuclear.
Why, they ask, has the environment lobby been allowed to get away with simply refusing to dis- cuss nuclear power given the zeal with which it has lectured the rest of us about global warming?
Why, they wonder, is the science treated as infallible on global warming but able to be readily ignored on the safety and efficiency of nuclear power?
The third reason is the need for a genuine debate.
Ms Gillard has nominated 2011 as the year of decision and delivery on climate policy. Yet nuclear advocates point out their option has not been S properly considered. EVERAL key people in the ALP including the Left’s (Resources and Energy Minister) Martin Ferguson, support nuclear power.
Still more accept that there is merit in the debate.
They point to the fact that Australia is a major supplier of uranium to other countries and that SA’s Olympic Dam operation is the largest uranium mine in the world. If it is good enough to mine uranium and sell it to others, they ask, why is discussion of using it domestically off limits?
It is difficult to say whether the debate over nuclear will play a role in the Government’s decisionmaking over a carbon price next year. But there is no doubt the two things are related politically and economically.
When then prime minister John Howard re-opened the argument during his last term, commissioning former Telstra boss and nuclear physicist Ziggy Switkowski to examine the issue, he inadvertently handed Labor an electoral gift. Dr Switkowski concluded that nuclear power could provide Australia with up to a third of its baseload electricity with 25 state-of-the-art nuclear reactors by 2050.
By definition, because such facilities need to be located near water supplies and proximal to but not in major urban centres, this suggested a series of reactors up and down the eastern seaboard.
In the subsequent election, Labor had a field day demanding that the Government stipulate where – in which electorates – any nuclear reactors would be located.
In key seats like Richmond in northern NSW, the issue guaranteed a Labor victory after the party ran hard in local newspapers and other media putting the frighteners on a unsuspecting voters.
The strategy worked a treat. But now in office, advocates of a mature nuclear energy debate see a new opportunity arising from a supportive Opposition and a Government that just may be inclined to listen to reason.
The ensuing policy argument will test Ms Gillard’s resolve and stretch her commitment to allowing open debate by her MPs. She has already opined that a change in Labor’s antinuclear policy is unlikely but she also knows there would be costs to her credibility if she shuts the debate down.
At present, sources say, if the question were asked of Right faction members, there would probably be a majority in favour of at the very least, an open debate. Many would promote nuclear as the answer to the climate change puzzle.
But within the Left, Ms Gillard’s own base, the stance remains one of steadfast opposition.
‘‘The Labor Party’s got a very clear policy here, and it’s a really long-standing policy of opposition to nuclear power,’’ Ms Gillard told 3AW yesterday.
‘‘Now, we will have our national conference at the end of next year . . . I’d have to say anybody who’s arguing to overturn our longstanding policy is setting themselves up for a pretty tough argument, but I’m not going to be there saying to people ‘don’t come and put your view.’ We’re a party of ideas. It’s good to have debates, and we’ll have a few at national conference.’’
The words say yes to a debate but everything else suggests, as Margaret Thatcher once said, ‘‘the lady is not for turning’’.
Tokyo ( Reuters) Can Japan afford to go nuclear-powerfree? The country’s atomic power industry and many big business clients say “ No”, arguing the step would boost electricity bills and pollution and hasten the hollowing out of Japanese manufacturing.
But the Fukushima nuclear disaster is galvanising a coalition of safety-conscious voters and future-minded companieswho increasingly believe that Japan cannot afford to stick with the status quo if it wants to be globally competitive.
“ Japan has a span of about a year to assert itself as a clear leader in clean energy, storage batteries, solar cells. They can compete, but they are no longer the only guys in the global game,” said Jesper Koll, director of equities research at JPMorgan in Tokyo.
“ This is where government policy helps — it can create a domestic market that is captive and rich and creates jobs and puts Japan on the map as a global leader.”
To be sure, short-term economic pain is in store if utilities, faced with deep public mistrust after the world’s worst radiation accident in 25 years, are unable to restart reactors taken off-line for checks.
“ We will have real pain for the next one to two years due to the holes opened up by the lack of nuclear energy,” said Martin Schulz, an economist at Fujitsu Research Institute.
“ But the pain is there because of what was done in the past. The moment you focus on future opportunities, it’s not so painful anymore.”
Even nuclear power proponents acknowledge that their dream of supplying
Martin Schulz Economist at Fujitsu Research
more than 50 per cent of electricity from atomic energy by 2030, up fromabout 30 per cent before Fukushima, has been dimmed by the radiation disaster.
More than 70 per cent of voters in a Kyodo news agency survey published on Sunday supported Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s call last month for a future free of dependence on nuclear power.
The vision has sent shivers through the nexus of political, business and bureaucratic interests dubbed Japan’s “ nuclear village”, which has responded with dire warnings.
“ If we completely abandon nuclear power generation ... I think most industries would lose competitiveness and go out of Japan,” Masakazu Toyoda, chairman of the quasi-government Institute of Energy Economics, said.
“ But 50 per cent might be too much. Twenty-five or 30 per cent might be digestible.”
Kan has promised a blankslate review of the 2010 national energy plan and vowed to promote renewable sources such as wind and power with a lawthatwould require utilities to buy electricity from a wide range of sources through generous feed-in-tariffs — subsidies paid by end-users.
The debate about solar vs. nuclear energy is heating up.
All the pros and cons are being brought up by those who claim to know what they are talking about, and the man in the street simply follows what's being told, lacking knowledge about and interest in the subject. Their sole concern seems to be whether they will be able to watch tonight's football game.
It's being said that nuclear energy is safe, but Fukushima and Chernobyl showed a different picture. The fact that nobody has yet found a solution to treat the waste produced by a nuclear plant makes it clear that this cannot be a clean process.
Solar energy, on the other hand, still requires an enormous amount of space, and produces no energy in the dark.
Depending on the need for energy makes us vulnerable, so choosing an energy for the next century should also include the question: Whom do I trust?
Nuclear and fossil energy cannot be produced on a small scale yet, since safety issues are there to consider and overcoming those drives the price up. Solar and wind energy can be produced on a small scale making us free from the shackles of governments and energy companies.
If we are thinking about renewable energy sources, shouldn't we also think about renewable societies? When we keep thinking in terms of us against them, we will never make a step ahead, and will continue to quarrel over these items in the years ahead.
Everything to fulfill our needs is already there. We only need to connect it, by trusting our fellow world citizens. To me it seems that our increasing need for energy goes hand in hand with our increasing greed and materialism. I'm not saying that we should go back to living in caves and giving up all we achieved, but some awareness that happiness does not come from consumption might ease the problem. Whatever choice is made, let it be clear that the benefit will be ours, and that the problems to solve will be for our children.