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What occurs with the nuclear power after Fukushima?

After the accident on Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima the nuclear power came under the spotlight in many countries. And suddenly it became clear, that not everything is so cloudless as it seemed still quite recently … The known expert, the cochairman of ecological group «Ecodefence» Vladimir Slivyak wrote the interesting book about it which called «From Hiroshima to Fukushima». He told our correspondent about problems of nuclear power:

Nuclear power is in stagnation


By and large the development of nuclear power began in the seventies though to build reactors began in the 50th. Firstly the relation to the nuclear power plant was enthusiastic: was considered that they completely will solve an energy problem for mankind. When the program of mass construction of nuclear power plants started in the USA, it was said that by 2000 year there will be one thousand reactors! It was considered that the price of this energy will be so low that it won’t need to be considered … But today this energy is the most expensive and reactors are ten times smaller than it was planned! Today in the USA there are about 100 reactors, we have more than 30, France — 50. And Japan had 50 too…

One of the reasons why the civil nuclear power developed consists that huge money left on the nuclear weapon and it was somehow necessary to justify it. Also the principle of the undivided industry which develops together was proclaimed and is reproduced together. But there were problems to major accidents on the nuclear power plant: they had economic character. And so, even before known accident on Three Mile Island in the USA the stream of private investments ran low! It occurred because of very long delays which cost much to investors. They understood that money comes back very long from such projects. Striking example — the nuclear power plant Watts-Bar in the USA which started being under construction in 1972, but still isn’t constructed. We have such «champion» too — the fourth reactor on the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant which 27 years are under construction … Delays are always and promises never come true.

Stagnation in the nuclear industry in the West happened in the late seventies, and over time scepticism grew in society also as regards the nuclear industry is capable to resolve an issue with nuclear waste. The fulfilled nuclear fuel is very dangerous substance, probably, the most dangerous of all that people managed to make own hands. There is very high level of radioactivity there, and, naturally, it is necessary to think how to isolate these substances from people and environment. After all there is, for example, the plutonium with a half-life period in 24000 years in their structure! It means that it is necessary to watch constantly, and this process should be paid many years. It turns out in what there was an economic sense then?

One of the extremely important problems consists that in many countries including Russia very many expenses aren’t considered in the price of atomic energy. Therefore, often we can hear that the nuclear power plant is a cheap power source … But it isn’t so, after all the further address with nuclear waste isn’t included in the price. Expenses on dismantle of the nuclear reactor aren’t considered after it fulfilled the term. So it is impossible to trust those figures which are presented.

I will give an example of the USA. The project of the organization of a burial ground for all nuclear deviations which are saved up in the USA is suspended at Obama. In the State of Nevada a huge tunnel was hollowed which had to serve many years. For this project Yucca-Mountain it is already spent 20 billion dollars, but… the scientists couldn’t prepare justification that everything will be safe during the whole period of time while this waste would be there.

There are calculations of «Financial Times» according to which the construction of 24 new reactors was stopped after Fukushima. The total cost of the stopped projects makes about 135 billion dollars.

Japan after Fukushima


The decision is made that Japan will refuse the nuclear power plant till 2039 year. All plans for new reactors are cancelled — it is absolutely exactly. Till Fukushima they had 54 blocks, all of them are stopped. Energy is very necessary to the large Japanese companies, and it is desirable to be not more expensive than it was earlier. It is favorable to the companies that reactors restarted.
Fukushima and Chernobyl are the phenomena about one order. One French institute counted that the radiation was taken off more from Chernobyl: caesium-137 is for 40%, and the financial damage is more approximately so. More than hundred thousand Japanese were settled out from the polluted zone. This zone isn’t really great — some tens kilometers in the separate directions, but after all it is Japan where one million people is the small city …
It is heavy to speak about medical consequences. There is an assessment of the European commission on radiation risk: it reported that there will be tens of thousands of cases of cancer diseases in the next 10−20 years. It will concern several tens of thousands people.

Germany puts on a wind and sun

In Germany hardly the situation can change, after all the law on refusal of atomic energy was adopted 12 years ago — it is not a consequence of Fukushima. This law was developed in 1999, it is a direct consequence of that green entered into the governmental coalition at federal level. Refusal of the nuclear power plant was the main condition of their occurrence also. They came to the power and began dialogue with business how to refuse the use of atomic energy. With those who owns nuclear power plants …

Eventually the compromise was found within which it was defined how many energy is allowed to develop on this or that reactor. Under the law the last reactor in Germany has to be closed no later than 2025 year. On the eve of Fukushima Angela Merkel reached the agreement with the nuclear companies that they will be given 10 years in addition and they will bring large sums in the federal budget on a subsidy for development of renewable energy for that. First of all, wind and solar.

After Fukushima, Germany returned to the initial plan and even toughened it a little. Now the term of a conclusion of the last reactor from operation is 2022 year. According to the initial plan it was supposed that 17 reactors will be switched-off in various time, but after Fukushima 8 from them were stopped at once, and other half will be taken out of service gradually within 10 years. It is necessary to tell that Germany has no problems with energy at the moment — they have it enough!

In Germany the law directed on stimulation of development of renewable energy is adopted. It subsidies to citizens who decided to make the energy independently, guarantees under which the huge industry is built — now it makes 20% of all energy in the country!

In the future it is planned to make at least 50% of energy at the expense of a wind and the sun. Many call it as power revolution. Also one of the most resistant myths is that renewable energy can’t be used in large quantities was destroyed. I will remind that Germany is the fourth in size world economy …

French reflected too…

France receives today 79% of the energy from the nuclear power plant. The socialist Hollande won: in his election program the conclusion from operation of a half of reactors in the country appears in the near future. The authorities of France understand that super dependence on the nuclear power plant — it is a big minus.

There are changes in climate on a planet — it is visible by the naked eye. And the more various weather anomalies, the more vulnerable a nuclear power. Both in the summer and in the winter there are any natural anomalies because of what it is necessary to switch-off the reactors. Floods are a factor too which should be considered: so, in the USA some reactors on east coast were switched-off because of it.

China has enormous plans


China just as India and Russia is the country which proclaims quite large-scale development of the nuclear power. After Fukushima any plans didn’t cancel here. However, everything that was implemented at that time was stopped. Also it was declared that all projects will pass revaluation by other rules. Results of check aren’t declared …

It is interesting that from renewable sources China receives already now energy more, than from the nuclear power plant. China has enormous plans for development of sources of renewable energy; it is decided to add even more! Power of wind stations in the country by 2015 year will reach the size which all nuclear power plants of France develop. It is possible to tell that in China there are development plans of all power sources that only can be imagined!

Foggy future of peace atom

It is necessary to build the reactor at least for 10 years, and renewable sources are under construction much quicker, and it is significantly less cost. Consider that for the last three years the equipment for solar stations fell in price for 70%! It was earlier that the solar power was noncompetitive.

And now the question isn’t necessary. The same happened to wind energy 10 years ago. In the USA now the energy price from wind stations was made even to the price of the energy developed on the nuclear power plant.

Why all this occurred? Because in the last 10−15 years there was a huge number of investments! Therefore the price fell, and with the advent of the efficiency new technologies grew. There is a rough progress, and here in nuclear power such isn’t present long ago!

There were no essentially new technologies. The nuclear power is such part of power where the cost will increase all the time. In many respects it is connected with the development of systems of safety. But at other sources the return dynamics is observed. And it is clear that in the future the atomic energy will be even more expensive and renewable energy are even cheaper.

Nuclear branch is still absolutely young. Still the mass conclusion from operation of reactors of the first wave didn’t begin yet. In Russia there are four reactors which are stopped, but aren’t dismantled. (two reactors on the Novovoronezh nuclear power plant, and two on the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant). And nobody knows what with to do with them… Simply still there is no technology — it is in the process of development. Here the reactors also stand from the 80th …

As for economy, the nuclear power is very seriously subsidized from the budget; and generally it is the hidden subsidies. Greenpeace tried to count two years ago how many ways of indirect subsidizing of nuclear power — they found about 30. I think that any changes will happen when the wavy conclusion from operation of old reactors will go. And this time will come within the next decade.

The fastest payback which the nuclear power plant can have is 20 years. In the West it is, in fact, the main problem which led to stagnation in the nuclear industry. They understood that everything is expensive and unprofitable and money didn’t become …

Viewed : 1488   Commented: 0

Author: Vladimir Kuzmenkin

Publication date : 07 January 2014 00:11

Source: The world and we

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