Changing the rules by which nuclear power stations are judged to be safe or not may sound unpalatable to some, even outright dangerous. But this is what the Office of Nuclear Regulation is considering in order to extend the life of Britain’s ageing reactor fleet. Rest assured, however, such things are done carefully. Continue reading »
Nuclear new build is highly capital intensive and currently not cheap, but it may be anticipated that the capital cost will come down in the future (in particular compared to ongoing new build construction in the EU, depending on return of experience and learning effects, ‘fleet effects’, standardization, strict construction schedules, competition in the supply chain,…). Analysis of past cost escalation and opportunities for learning and ‘fleet effects’, suggests that negative learning is not necessarily an ‘intrinsic property’ of nuclear-reactor construction. Nevertheless, it is up to the nuclear sector itself to demonstrate on the ground that cost-effective construction is possible. Continue reading »
2011 will remain as one of the year that shaped the fate of nuclear power the most. The Fukushima accident has had profound consequences on energy policies in several countries, and even France and its unique system have not escaped the controversy. But if the debate focuses mostly on an assessment of a partial or total phase-out with 2030 as a global deadline, there is few economic appraisal of the optimum pace for a nuclear power plants’ retirement. Closing a nuclear power plant earlier than expected, even though the operator complies with all the safety requirements, would mean getting rid of a still valuable asset, and a global loss for the economy. Continue reading »
Could Fukushima put an end to the French exception? Everybody in France is now talking about, and arguing for or against, a prospective nuclear phase-out. Political Candidates running for the next presidency defend their affirmative or negative position on this issue with figures published in several recent studies assessing the investment costs of an eventual a potential phase-out, as opposed to a continuation of the current power generation model. Unsurprisingly, the numbers differ. Why?
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s forecasts can be used as a pre-fukushima baseline scenario. They use the year 2035 as their terminal year. This is unfortunate and potentially misleading. Many existing nuclear plants (essentially all existing U.S. plants) will retire within a few years after 2035, even if they are able to secure 20-year license extensions. This means that sustaining nuclear’s share of total electricity generation, would require substantial construction of new nuclear plants well before midcentury both to meet growing electricity demand and to replace retiring units. Continue reading »
Immediately following the earthquake and tsunami residents within 20 kilometers (km) (12. 4 miles) of Fukushima Dai-ichi were evacuated and those between 20 and 30 km (12.4 to 18.6 miles) were advised to remain in their homes as shelter or voluntarily evacuate. Subsequently, the Japanese government considered extending the evacuation zone to 30 km but ended up establishing a 20 milli-Sievert per year (mSv/y) or 2 rem/y dose limit for establishing which areas would be evacuated.
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A few years ago I had the good fortune to participate in a European Commission sixth Framework Programme project Coordinating Energy Security in Supply Activities or ‘CESSA’ for short. This project culminated in a book published by Routledge in 2010 entitled: Security of Energy Supply in Europe: Natural Gas, Nuclear, and Hydrogen. I was very pleased to be an editor of that book and to be the author of chapter 8 entitled: Nuclear Energy in the Enlarged European Union. Continue reading »
What would be the impacts of the Fukushima accident on the European-Union (EU) outlook for nuclear energy by 2020 and 2050? The EU, with one third (143) of the world NPPs, had before Fukushima about 20 new NPPs planned by 2020, including 4 NPPs currently under construction.
The debate over the future of nuclear energy must not be confined to experts, nor to politicians and business leaders. This is a crucial choice for the future of our societies, and it calls for a public debate. The debate must be transparent and enlightened, and it must place in perspective the advantages and risks of nuclear energy in order that every person is able to make an informed opinion.
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There have been enough partial core-melt accidents that we can ask whether the operational nuclear power plants throughout the world are safe enough as a group.
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