Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Faux Nuclear Renaissance

In sharp contrast to the numerous mainstream media reports (which have been widely circulated and strongly encouraged by numerous pro-nuclear factions), the nuclear power industry is in decline around the world. The "World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2007", presented to the European Parliament in late November 2007 by the Greens European Free Alliance group, documents that the proportion of nuclear energy in power production has decreased in 21 out of 31 countries. Compared to five years ago, there are five fewer functioning nuclear reactors. At the moment, 32 nuclear power plants are under construction or in the late planning stage, which is 20 fewer than at the turn of the millennium.

In a summary of the report posted on the Greens/EFA site, German Green MEP and energy spokesperson said,

"The shrinking of nuclear in Europe is particularly notable, with ten power plants being permanently withdrawn from the network since the last report in 2004.With fewer plants being built and existing plants becoming more decrepit, it seems clear that the grandiose ambitions of the nuclear industry will remain in the realm of fantasy."

False promises for a nuclear revival could lead to misplaced public expenditure, delaying a more intelligent and sustainable approach to energy supply. In addition, plans for building new reactors would be in direct competition for the limited manufacturing capacity that is already stretched by the maintenance costs for existing (aging) reactors.

"The gap between the expectations being promoted by the nuclear industry and reality are perfectly highlighted by the bungled attempt to build a new reactor at the Olkiluoto plant in Finland. This first new nuclear project in 15 years has been blighted by problems.After only two years of construction the project is already two years delayed and the budget is set to be overrun by at least 50%, with 1.5 billion euro in losses and shocking errors in key technical specifications. Clearly, talk of a nuclear revival is divorced from reality and political leaders must call the nuclear industry's bluff," continued Rebecca Harms.

Recognition of the fallacies perpetuated by nuclear power boosters could help steer more resources toward wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal power development.