Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for the ‘energy’ Category

Proliferation Press Roundup: The Nuclear Energy Boom

Posted by K.E. White on February 2, 2008

The world’s energy are ensuring the proliferation of nuclear energy technology—suggesting an easier path for many nations to develop nuclear weapons. The deals will test the IAEA’s ability to foster nuclear cooperation, while ensuring dangerous materials remain safe and nations remain honest about their nuclear intentions. 

IAEA ElBaradei  talks nuclear energy cooperation with Egypt:

During his week-long visit to Egypt, ElBaradei is scheduled to meet with a number of senior officials on cooperation programs between the UN nuclear watchdog and Egypt in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy, according to Egypt‘s official MENA news agency.

The IAEA chief will also meet with the Cairo-based Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, said MENA.

And America is cranking up its energy partnership with Russia:

U.S. nuclear power reactors will be able to obtain more supplies of Russian enriched uranium for fuel, under a trade deal signed by the two countries late on Friday.

The agreement will provide U.S. utilities with a reliable supply of nuclear fuel by allowing Russia to boost exports export to the United States while minimizing any disruption to the United States‘ domestic enrichment industry.

And Lithuania is one step closer to a joint nuclear energy venture with Sweden and Poland:

Lithuania‘s government won a parliamentary vote on Friday to merge a private and two state-owned energy companies into one group to invest in a new nuclear power plant and build connections to Sweden and Poland.

The vote will give a boost to delayed plans to build the new power station in cooperation with Poland, Latvia and Estonia, all countries that want to reduce their reliance on Russia for energy.

No wonder the International Herald Tribune calls nuclear the “power investment of 2008”:

Britain is part of a broader trend of growing support for nuclear energy in other countries. The French company Areva, the world’s largest builder of nuclear reactors, forecasts that 150 to 300 nuclear reactors will be built in the world from now to 2030. At least 50 of them will be built in China and India, according to news reports.

This is encouraging for global power plant builders like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries,Toshiba through its unit Westinghouse and Areva, which have all benefited from China’s investment in new nuclear in recent years. Analysts figure that decommissioning projects in more mature markets like Britain, Russia, Japan and France could prove to be an even bigger money maker for the nuclear industry. A review of the global decommissioning market, carried out by the Nuclear Industry Association in Britain, estimates such projects to be worth £300 billion over the next 30 years.

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Posted in energy, IAEA, Nuclear | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Greenpeace Gone Nuclear? An interview with Patrick Moore

Posted by K.E. White on January 31, 2008

Zdnet.com offers this interview with Patrick Moore, co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. But did you know Moore also co-founded Greenpeace?

Moore talks about the need to go nuclear, and why environmental concerns over this technology—whether based on weapons proliferation, waste worries, or environmental impact—are missing the point.

But Moore does glance over some issues. First, in speaking of the renewed global interest in nuclear technology, there really is no way (yet) to police the nuclear actions of foreign countries (eg Iran or North Korea). And while he speaks glowingly of the GNEP, he glosses over real worries with the program. From Arms Control Today:

GNEP seeks to develop new nuclear technologies, particularly for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, and new international nuclear fuel arrangements. Administration officials claim that these efforts will reduce nuclear waste and decrease the risk that an anticipated growth in the use of nuclear energy worldwide could spur nuclear proliferation. Critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere assert that the administration’s course would exacerbate the proliferation risks posed by the spread of spent fuel reprocessing technologies, be prohibitively expensive, fail to ease waste disposal challenges significantly, and lack any certainty that the claimed technologies will ever be developed.

GNEP’s critics were bolstered by an October report from a National Research Council (NRC) panel, commissioned by the Department of Energy, that concluded that the department should “not move forward” with the program, particularly efforts to develop new commercial-scale facilities for reprocessing and for burning a new type of nuclear fuel. (See ACT, December 2007.)

But such international concerns don’t speak to Moore’s main argument: America should go nuclear. But, even here, he omits difficulties with nuclear waste. Look at Britain’s experience with decommissioning their nuclear power plants (from the Guardian):

 

The costs of cleaning up waste from Britain’s first civil nuclear power programme are still rising and uncertainties abound, the National Audit Office, the country’s public spending watchdog, said on Wednesday.

Its report comes three weeks after the British government finally gave the green light to a new fleet of nuclear power stations to replace the retiring plants and help the country meet its carbon emission commitments.

But the current 73 billion pound cost of decommissioning the 19 existing nuclear sites over the next century is 18 percent above initial estimates, and the costs of even near-term actions are still rising when they should have stabilised.

 

Moore points to new technologies that undoubtedly one day alleviates such concerns. But by never tackling nuclear waste disposal directly, I have concerns over just have operational these new tools are today.

None of this reputes Moore’s chief contention: the benefits of going nuclear outweigh the costs. Getting off coal energy would be beneficial. And other perhaps other alternative sources of energy are more ‘Candyland’ than real.

But wouldn’t—just speaking hypothetically—increasing every car’s per gallon mileage by 50-100 percent over the next 10-20 years do just as much for the environment? And this proposal would have two added bonuses: American energy independence without cementing Utah’s role as the world’s nuclear dumping ground.

But on one point Moore and I would agree: America cannot continue to ignore all nuclear energy technology. Research must continue. Like it or not nuclear is in the picture—and its not going anywhere.

Posted in energy, Nuclear, waste | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Bulgaria Update: Two Nuclear Reactors to Return, Russian Nuclear Powerplant Contract to be Concluded Tomorrow

Posted by K.E. White on January 17, 2008

Bulgaria, having trouble meeting its growing energy needs, is set to sign a contract with Russia for a nuclear power plant tomorrow.

From CNN.com:

‘We will sign on January 18 an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build two pressurized water reactors of 1,000 megawatts each,’ Economy and Energy minister Petar Dimitrov told a news conference.

‘The contract will be implemented by Atomstroiexport. A joint venture between Areva and Siemens (NYSE:SI) will be the sub-contractor,’ Dimitrov said, putting the total value of the contract at 4 bln eur.

A letter-of-intent to build the plant at Belene on the River Danube was signed in November 2006.

But this deal is not stopping Bulgaria from reopening to nuclear reactors it shut down to join the European Union. From the Kyiv Post:

Plagued by electricity shortages, Bulgaria on Wednesday announced it was considering plans to reopen nuclear reactors it had to shut down before joining the European Union a year ago.

The two Russian-made units at Bulgaria‘s only nuclear plant, Kozlodui, were switched off just hours before the Balkan country joined the European Union on Jan. 1, 2007.

“We are holding active diplomatic talks to achieve the necessary support to prolong the life of Kozlodui’s units 3 and 4,” Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev said.

He did not elaborate but said reopening the reactors was a “clear political choice of the government.”

The move would require approval from the other 26 EU members.

Posted in Bulgaria, energy, Nuclear, Russia | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Germany’s Nuclear Energy: Apparently Staying

Posted by K.E. White on September 3, 2007

This Deutsche Welle news clip shows just how hard getting off nuclear power can be, even for a country with an established Green Party:

The nuclear phase-out Germany agreed upon under former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s government of Social Democrats and Greens would result in the last reactor being shut down in 2020.

Energy companies active in Germany have applied to transfer permits for energy production from new to old plants, but none have been filed to shift the permits from old to new plants, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The nuclear industry continues to push for Germany to reverse its decision to phase out nuclear power.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, too, would prefer for Germany to stick with nuclear energy.

Posted in energy, Germany, Nuclear | Leave a Comment »