style="font-weight: bold;">Is Under
Way Around the World>
On virtually every
continent of the world, nations are making the determination that "the
future is nuclear." In an article with that title, printed by United
Press International on Feb. 13, Russian Academician and renowned
physicist Yevgeny Velikhov stated; "Nuclear power engineering is
capable of reassuring all those who are not certain about having
sufficient energy today and tomorrow. There is no doubt it is the only
source of energy that can ensure the world's steady development in the
foreseeable future. Today, this fact is understood not only by
physicists, but also by politicians, who have to accept it as an
axiom.... Thank God, today's world compels politicians to think about
The dramatic shift in
international energy policy that is under way, is evident in nations
that had expansive nuclear power generation programs in the past, but
abandoned them, as well as those that had tried, but until now, had not
been allowed to succeed, in going nuclear.
Recent issues of EIR
have documented the changing global political winds. In Europe, France
and Finland are building new nuclear plants, and Germany and Sweden are
reconsidering their anti-nuclear policies.
On Feb. 12, the junior
environment minister of the Netherlands, Pieter van Geel, said that a
second nuclear power station in that nation was now a realistic option.
Last year the government rescinded an earlier decision to close down
its only operating station, and instead, will extend its operation
Vladimir Putin has announced a sweeping revitalization of his nation's
nuclear enterprise, to include reintegration of the former Soviet
Union's multi-nation nuclear industry, and cooperative agreements with
Kazakstan and Ukraine to mine uranium for nuclear fuel, in exchange for
nuclear technology development (see article).
In South Africa, that
nation has made a commitment not only to "go nuclear," but to be at the
forefront of advanced nuclear technology by developing, for domestic
use and export, high-temperature modular pebble bed reactors (see article). This requires a very
substantial commitment of resources.
At a conference of the
South African Young Nuclear Professionals Society in early February,
Department of Minerals and Energy director Tseliso Maqubela reported
that there are about 3,500 nuclear professionals in South Africa now,
and that up to 800 new scientists will be needed within ten years. The
government has identified a need to focus attention on higher
education, including research projects for Masters and Doctoral
students, and is considering how to intervene in rural and township
schools to improve the level of achievement in mathematics and science.
anti-nuclear policies in the United States, which led to the
cancellation of 100 nuclear power plants between the mid-1970s and
mid-1980s, are being reversed. Electric utilities that already operate
nuclear plants have organized themselves into consortia, and are
submitting applications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to
obtain approval for the construction of new plants. Sections of the
country that project electricity shortages in the near future,
increasingly recognize that the solution is to "go nuclear."
The change of course in
the United States has encouraged other nations to re-evaluate their own
failed anti-nuclear policies, and helped open the door to countries
that are embarking on nuclear power development for the first time. And
as EIR has documented, to bring the word population up to a
decent living stadard would require building 6,000 new nuclear plants
Playing Catch Up
In August, the Energy
Policy Act of 2005 became law. It was well understood by Congressional
supporters that in addition to Federal funds for developing more
advanced nuclear technology, the government would also have to take
some responsibility for ensuring that utilities ordering nuclear plants
would not be sabotaged by malthusian officials, or "intervenors" such
as "ecologists," who had been allowed to wreck the nuclear industry in
The new law provides
"risk insurance" to protect against unforeseen Federal, state, and
local regulatory delays, for as many as six new reactors (regardless of
who builds them), that are built under the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission's new combined construction and operating licenses. The NRC
has streamlined its licensing procedures, to avoid the previous
quagmire, where even after a plant was completed, objections could
again be raised, and the owner's operating license delayed, sometimes
for a decade. Although this new procedure will eliminate many
intervenor opportunities, the law is there to protect the public
interest. Delays costing up to $500 million each, for first two new
reactors, caused by the regulatory process or litigation, and 50% of
the delay costs for each of the next four plants, up to $2 billion in
total, will be covered.
of the fact that nuclear power is the most capital-intensive energy
technology, the law provides for a production tax credit of 1.8 cents
per kilowatt-hour, for the first 6,000 megawatts of new nuclear
capacity, for the first 8 years of each plant's operation. Loan
guarantees are available for up to 80% of the project cost, to be
repaid within 30 years.
A phrase that
became popular in the counter-culture "me first" ideology of the past
30 years, in response to the announcement that a project was to be
built was: "Not in my back yard." However, communities that are home to
an operating nuclear plant know that the taxes the utility pays on the
high-value plant pay for their schools and other services, and provide
highly skilled, well-paying jobs that create additional indirect
decades after the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant,
where no one was even injured, more and more Americans have begun to
realize they had been taken for a ride. Nuclear is, in fact, the safest
way to generate electricity, and even prominent members of the
"environmental" movement, such as Greenpeace's Patrick Moore, have
tossed aside silly visions of windmills defacing the landscape, and are
backing the nuclear renaissance.
contra, there is a competition between towns and states to try to
entice utilities to build new nuclear plants in their "back yards." The
Louisiana Public Service Commission passed a resolution last July, to
support the addition of a new reactor at River Bend in St.
Francisville, as did the local Chamber of Commerce. The Calvert County
Board of County Commissioners, in Maryland, passed a resolution last
summer supporting the selection of Calvert Cliffs for a new reactor.
Similar resolutions have been passed by the city of Oswego, New York,
in Fort Gibson, Mississippi, and in Claiborne County, Mississippi.
On Feb. 4, two
state legislators from Wisconsin announced that they will introduce a
bill to make it easier to build new nuclear plants in their state. The
state Department of Administration reports that Wisconsin could face an
electricity capacity shortage as early as next year, and must get 6,300
megawatts of new capacity online by 2016.
In Canada, the Ontario
Power Authority is circulating a plan recommending up to $40 billion of
nuclear power plant investments, which would include building 12 new
nuclear plants. By 2025, nuclear power would provide half of the
province's electricity. The Authority warns of a looming electricity
crisis, where in two years, Toronto risks rolling electricity blackouts.
In addition to the recent
expression of interest in expanding nuclear energy in Mexico (see box),
Ibero-America, taken as a whole, has among its nations the
infrastructure and manpower needed for advanced nuclear research and
development, and a full-scale nuclear industry.
On Nov. 30, the
Presidents of Argentina and Brazil signed a "Joint Statement on Nuclear
Policy," to increase cooperation and the integration of both of their
nuclear power and research plants, nuclear medicine programs, and
industrial applications. Both nations have operating nuclear plants,
and Argentina designs, builds, and exports indigenous small research
reactors. Last year, Brazil won the political battle with the
international non-proliferation mafia to complete development of its
uranmium enrichment facility. It will produce fuel for nuclear power
plants domestically, and eventually, enough for export.
Recently, both Venezuela
and Chile indicated their interest in civilian nuclear power. The
resources of Argentina and Brazil in particular, can lead the
long-overdue nuclear renaissance in Ibero-America.
Second Tier in Asia
Throughout the 1970s and
1980s, a first tier of Asian countries went nuclear, buying, and then
in some cases licensing for local production, reactors and technology
from the United States, Canada, and Europe. By 2005, Japan had 56
operating plants, South Korea had 20, India had 15, China had 9, and
Taiwan had 6. Japan, India, South Korea, and China have also developed
domestic nuclear plant manufacturing, and research and development
programs, and in some cases are ahead of the United States in
The two nations with the
world's largest populations must go nuclear for their very survival.
India has eight plants under construction, a fast-breeder reactor, and
plans for a total of 24 new power plants during the next two decades.
In China, two plants are nearing completion, a half dozen more are
nearing the start of construction, with a total of 30 or so plants
planned over the next two decades (see EIR, April 29, 2005 and
Nov. 18, 2005).
More recently, nations in
Asia that have not yet built nuclear power plants are doing studies,
contacting vendors, and making plans.
Anatolia news agency
reported on Feb. 8, that after a tour of the Lake Anna nuclear plant in
Virginia, and a meeting with Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, Turkish
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Hilmi Guler, told reporters
in Washington that Turkey needs an additional 54,000 megawatts of
electricity by 2020. It projects that nuclear energy will provide 5,000
megawatts of that. Currently, Turkey has no nuclear plants. Asked by a
skeptical reporter if Turkey had a solid plan to meet its requirements,
Guler replied that Turkey does, and that it must invest $128 billion in
energy supply over the next 15 years. He described nuclear power as an
"utmost priority," due to the increase in oil and gas prices and need
for multiple sources of energy.
One year ago,
Minister Guler announced that Turkey was spending $5 million to
re-establish its office of nuclear energy. Turkey had been in
discussions with Canada and the United States in the mid-1990s,
regarding purchase of nuclear reactors, but this initiative was
abandoned in the year 2000, thanks to the International Monetary Fund,
which said it would not approve the plants, even if Canada financed
mid-December, Indonesia's state-owned electricity company, PLN,
announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with South
Korea's Electric Power Corp., and the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power
Company, to carry out a one-year feasibility study on building the
country's first nuclear power plant. The study will evaluate the
purchase by Indonesia of Korea's POR-1000 technology.
studies for such a plant had already been carried out by Indonesia's
National Atomic Power Authority (Batan) in the past, which considered a
site at the foot of Mount Muria in Central Java. There is no nuclear
plant included in PLN's development program until 2015, but were
investors to show interest, PLN would be eager for discussions,
generation director Ali Herman Ibrahim told Asia Times on Dec.
also expressed interest in building its first nuclear power plant. It
has discussed the possibility of buying a small, floating nuclear power
plant with Russia, which design is based on Russia's nuclear-powered
ship reactors. These 50-MW modules do not require the on-land
infrastructure of conventional plants, and are versatile and can be
deployed quickly. Russia has been in discussions with China to gain
financing to build the manufacturing infrastructure needed to build the
Even the island
nation, and financial haven of Singapore may go nuclear. Since 1974,
Singapore, which has been a member of the International Atomic Energy
Agency since the mid-1960s, has been involved in 25 projects relating
to nuclear physics and medical applications. A recent article proposes
that even for a small country, which is devoid of any natural
resources, "nuclear is an option that merits serious consideration."
renaissance in nuclear power will accelerate the development of the
next generation of fission power technologies, and then, as Academician
Velikhov has been fighting for, more advanced nuclear fusion.