The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Paris Conference: be aware of the greenwashing events, and of the genuine climate activism

logo Paris climate1Interesting Events You Won’t Want to Miss At The Paris COP21 Climate Conference By Kyla Mandel • , November 28, 2015 The time has finally arrived. We’re on the Eurostar heading to Paris for the COP21 climate conference kick-off. On Monday, the world is meeting in Paris to (hopefully) agree a deal that will curb our carbon emissions and avert catastrophic climate change.

The stakes are high. Over the course of just two weeks, we’ll see leaders doing backroom negotiations, and countries from every corner of our planet will be working hard to have their voice heard. Meanwhile, others – be it green NGOs or climate deniers – will be doing their best to influence the decisions.

This is why DeSmog UK has put together a quick guide highlighting some on-the-ground events we’re hoping to cover. You won’t want to miss it.

The Official Conference

It all kicks off on Monday 30 November when some 130 world leaders gather outside Paris at Le Bourget conference centre.

Starting at noon, each leader will give his or her address. Some of the most highly anticipated speeches will come from USPresident Obama, China’s Xi Jinping, and India’s Narendra Modi.

Eyes and ears will also be on two new leaders: Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull. It is an understatement to say that hopes are high that these two will turn their countries’ poor climate track records around.

And, of course, don’t forget the many, many developing countries that are at the forefront of climate impacts. Curious when your country is up? Here’s the UN’s full list.

The COP21 conference is also going to be full – and we mean FULL – of side events taking place alongside the negotiations. From agriculture and forestry to women’s and indigenous peoples’ rights, these events provide a chance to discuss the variety of issues affected by climate change.

This is just a sample of what’s going on. You can find the full calendar here.

In the first week, there will be events on: “The phase out of fossil fuel subsidies and a Paris Climate deal” and “Climate change and children’s rights: Children as vulnerable group and agents of change”.

Things really pick up in the second week, as it’s when most of the negotiators and press turn up. Big names such as Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben are expected to talk, with Klein discussing “Loss and damage – who should pay?” and McKibben speaking on “Keeping Fossil Fuels in the Ground: the International Movement to Ban Fracking”.

Other interesting events include “Climate Justice: Coal and Human Rights in the South, Community Choice Energy, Global Carbon Pricing”, along with the “Role of Oil & Gas Technology to address Climate Change Challenges”.

There will also be discussions involving the US, China, India on “Global Climate Action: Perspectives on Major Energy Initiatives” and “Human Mobility and climate change”.

Watch Out For Greenwashing Continue reading

November 30, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear isn’t green.

global warming ACounty carbon footprint of uranium mining, storage, Wendy Harris,Syracuse, 29 Nov 15 In the debate over Entergy’s decision to close Fitzpatrick most people, including our governor, miss the breadth of nuclear’s dirty carbon footprint… mining, milling, manufacturing yellowcake, transportation, and then the wildcard carbon cost of storage of the hot waste for eons must all be part of the carbon profile of nuclear.

The recent filing by the group Environmental Advocates of New York outlines the benefits of closure of this brittle, poorly designed plant and the value of moving to true sustainable energy sources with the jobs and economic benefits outlined for the region and state.

Its time to close Fitzpatrick and move decisively to renewables as the globe faces the consequences of a hotter planet. The future well-being of us all depends on it.

November 30, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

House arrest for climate protestors, but climate activists persist in Paris

Some activist groups plan to march at the Place de la Republic in defiance of the state of emergency. Others are looking logo-Climate-Guardiansfor creative ways to make their point whilst staying within the bounds of the law.Among them are the Climate Guardians, Australian activists dressed as angels to highlight the stewardship of natural resources.

COP21: Security crackdown in Paris sees climate change protesters under house arrest, ABC News 29 Nov 15 By Melissa Clarke in Paris French climate change activists have been placed under house arrest ahead of the opening of the UN climate change conference in Paris.

Public demonstrations are banned in France under the state of emergency that was declared after the Paris terrorist attacks two week ago, in which 130 people were killed.

Green groups have described the move as “an abuse of power” but the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the activists were suspected of planning violent protests……

A delegation of environmental organisations met with French president Francois Hollande to appeal against the measures.

Greenpeace International’s executive Director Kumi Naidoo said he was “disappointed” that France’s political leadership would “choose to enable sporting events, trade exhibitions and other arts and culture events to go ahead, but with such a clamp down on the space for the biggest issue humanity faces”.

The climate talks will see world leaders gather to try to come to an agreement on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020.

Major public rallies planned for this weekend were cancelled, forcing international green groups to focus on marches in major cities around the world, instead of in Paris.

Some activist groups plan to march at the Place de la Republic in defiance of the state of emergency. Others are looking for creative ways to make their point whilst staying within the bounds of the law. Among them are the Climate Guardians, Australian activists dressed as angels to highlight the stewardship of natural resources.

One of the “angels”, Zoe Buckley Lennox, believes it is “absurd” to ban public protests and put restrictions on the people who had planned them.

“I was quite shocked … the fact they have gone so far as to target these organisers who are clearly organising for the climate talks, specifically targeting them, when it’s obviously not anything to do with terrorism, it’s about climate change,” she said.

“It’s ridiculous. We obviously are going to respect the laws that are happening at the moment but at the same time we need to get these voices out no matter what situation we’re in.”

French environmentalists plan to place shoes along the route of a cancelled march to make their point.

November 30, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Latest report from Nuclear Shutdown News

Nuclear Shutdown News, November 2015 by Michael Steinberg ( blackrainpress [at] ) 
Saturday Nov 28th, 2015 

Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of the US and global nuclear industry. In addition, it highlights the efforts of those who are working to create a nuclear free world. Here’s our November report. 

1. Two more US nuclear plants slated for shutdown.
November brought news that two more US nuke plants will be permanently shutting down in the future.  Continue reading

November 30, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Public services or nuclear weapons: it seems UK can’t afford both

text bairns not bombsMinister Matt Hancock suggests public may have to choose flag-UKbetween nuclear weapons and public services, The Independent,  27 Nov 15  He said the policy could be responsible for Labour running up debts A Cabinet minister has appeared to question whether Britain could continue to afford well-equipped schools and hospitals if it spends money on new nuclear weapons.

Matthew Hancock, the cabinet office minister, was appearing on BBC One’s Question Time programme.

He made the comments after former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone questioned whether the £40bn estimated cost of the Trident nuclear submarines could be better spent on public services.

“We have to reduce our debt but we’re still the fifth richest nation in the world and this week while we’re been told we can’t afford this, we can’t afford that – Cameron’s telling us those four nuclear submarines will cost £40bn,” the veteran Labour politician had argued.

“It’s a question of the choices you make. I’d rather our kids had a better education and that we had more hospital beds than four nuclear submarines.”…….

The Government recently announced that the estimated cost of Trident would be £40bn.

Independent estimates peg the system’s lifetime cost as being significantly higher, however. The independent Trident Commission estimated a cost of around £100bn while the Reuters news agency estimated £167bn based on other official figures.

Labour is currently split on whether to support the system’s renewal.


November 28, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear energy not an option at climate talks, even if just because it’s uneconomic

globalnukeNONuclear energy off the table at climate change talks, EuroNews, 27 Nov  “….Essentially, world leaders will have to choose between atomic and renewable energy; a move welcomed by critics who say it is too risky as an energy source. Cyrille Cormier, is a energy and climate specialist for Greenpeace: “Nuclear energy is dangerous and dirty. It produces nuclear waste which is dangerous because we don’t know how to store it safely in the long-term, it has to be managed for between 100 and 1,000 years in some cases. Everyone knows that it’s also an energy which can cause terrible accidents.

The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster pushed many countries to draw up phase-out plans or a massive switch to renewables. ………. the demise of nuclear energy may be more linked to money. Costs for solar and wind energy have plummeted while the price of producing nuclear has soared because of increasing safety requirements.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Be an unreasonable activist – it’s the best way

protestThe Unreasonable Activist  NOVEMBER 24, 2015 BY THESHITTYACTIVIST – by The Shitty Activist
If you’re an activist, probably one of the most common complaints you get is that you’re not being “reasonable.” That you’re refusing to see the other side. That you won’t compromise and find common ground with opponents.

I’d like to propose that not only isn’t “unreasonable” activism a bad thing, it’s essential to the long-term success of a given movement.  Continue reading

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Dismal future prospects for the global nuclear industry

Nuclear Power Is No Fix for Climate, Energy Intelligence, M.V. Ramana, 27 Nov 15

fear“……….Future Prospects  These trends will likely continue for the next decade or more, because of the changing dynamics of the electricity market and the likely presence of cheap natural gas and declining costs of renewable power. That latter factor has also complicated the public perception of nuclear power, whose days of being popular are long past. (Well before Fukushima, for example, and well after Chernobyl, a 2005 survey done for the IAEA found that about 60% of the public opposed building new nuclear power plants.) Because of the declining costs of renewables, even those who see themselves as environmentalists and are most concerned about global warming generally do not see nuclear power as necessary for mitigating climate change.

The nuclear industry and its supporters have adopted a number of strategies to counter these trends. These include developing new reactor designs that are advertised as capable of overcoming the safety and cost problems, and aggressively marketing these as well as older reactor designs in countries around the world, especially developing countries, many with little or no nuclear capacity or domestic expertise. The industry and its supporters have also attacked renewables as incompatible with the modern grid because of the intermittency of wind and solar energy.

These attacks point to deep economic reasons for antagonism between the nuclear power and renewables industries. In countries with privatized electricity sectors, nuclear power plants are, and given their high costs, can only be, owned by large electric utilities that profit from monopolies over power supply. Renewables, especially if rooftop solar installations generate a significant fraction of residential electricity consumption, pose a threat to their economic interests. This antagonism is most visible in the US and Japan where utilities have lobbied extensively against tax credits to renewable energy generators and net metering of distributed solar power. As electricity from renewable sources falls in price, this trend will likely only intensify.

Can nuclear power grow as rapidly as desired by those advocating it to mitigate climate change? For that to happen, nuclear power would have to increase its share of global generation relative to sources that are proving more economically competitive, such as natural gas and renewables — and that in turn would require vastly accelerated and expanded reactor construction at prices that make sense relative to these other sources. All of this is quite apart from the other well-known and widespread concerns about nuclear power: the potential for severe accidents, the linkage to nuclear weapons and the production of long-lived radioactive waste. These challenges will not disappear and indeed may only grow worse, which is why nuclear’s prospects as a significant climate change mitigator are feeble to nonexistent.

M.V. Ramana is currently with the Nuclear Futures Laboratory and the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, where he has been assessing nuclear power programs around the world. Ramana is the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India (Penguin Books, 2012). This article is adapted from a forthcoming chapter by the author in “Palgrave Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy: Part IV–Energy Transitions,” edited by Florian Kern.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

UK govt allout for nuclear power, discriminates against solar in tax system

UK embraces nuclear, gives energy intensive sector free ride, PV Magazine,26. NOVEMBER 2015 BY:  EDGAR MEZA David Cameron’s government is aiming to make the U.K. a leader in nuclear reactor technology while spending billions on cleaning up ageing nuclear sites. While eliminating environmental tariffs for big industry, it’s also boosting its innovation program, which could benefit renewable energy. The U.K.’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on Wednesday announced it would double the budget of its innovation program over the next five years while cutting overall costs by 22% by 20202.

The Department is raising innovation program spending to £500 million, an increase it said would “strengthen the future security of supply, reduce the costs of decarbonization and boost industrial and research capabilities.”

While the innovation program boost will provide seed funding for new renewable energy technologies and smart grids, it will support development of small modular nuclear reactors, an area in which the government hopes to position the U.K. as a global leader.

Indeed, the Conservative government’s budget review also includes funding for “an ambitious nuclear research program that will revive the U.K.’s nuclear expertise.”

As the government embraces state-of-the-art nuclear technology, it is also spending more than £11 billion on the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and its continuing work to clean up ageing nuclear sites.

U.K. solar website Solar Power Portal cited opposition Labour MP Alan Whitehead, who questioned whether the Department would be abler to properly function at all in view of the deep budget cuts and the considerable amount of funding was allocated to cleaning up nuclear sites.

In addition, the government will permanently exempt energy intensive industries like steel and chemicals from the cost of environmental tariffs, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said during his Autumn Statement speech on Wednesday. Osborne said the exemption would “keep their bills down, keep them competitive and keep them here.”………

Rudd, Amber UKDECC Secretary Amber Rudd said her priority was “to deliver secure, affordable, clean energy supplies” that households and business could rely on. “As we transition to a low-carbon economy as cost effectively as possible, finding new sources of energy that are cheap, reliable and clean is essential, which is why we are boosting our spending on innovation and backing the industries of the future.”

The U.K.’s solar industry has reacted with disappointment to Osborne’s speech and the DECC budget overhaul.

Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association, took issue with the government’s continued support of fossil fuel generation to the detriment of solar.

“Climate change means we should tilt the playing field towards renewables as fossil fuels are not paying their true costs. Something has gone very wrong when solar is actively discriminated against in the tax system compared to fossil generation. New large-scale solar currently has no public support. As an absolute minimum solar projects should receive the same tax benefits as other energy technologies such as oil, gas and energy from waste.”

The Solar Trade Association has called for enhanced capital allowances of 100% in the first year for a project as is the case for fossil fuels and energy from waste heat. “Solar is currently discriminated against under capital allowances, where 18% of expenditure can be taken as a tax deduction for general plant and machinery, including for wind, yet solar receives just an 8% allowance,” the Association said. Osborne said only businesses in certain enterprise zones would be able to claim 100% enhanced capital allowances.

In addition, the Association pointed out that despite the chancellor’s statement that investment in renewables and low carbon would double to 2020, the assumptions used were unclear as solar under the feed-in tariff faces a 98% cut in expenditure to just £7 million over three years.

Solar Trade Association CEO Paul Barwell added that planned personnel reductions at the DECC could have a negative impact. “Energy policy is a highly technical and complex policy area where in-depth analysis of every sector is needed in order to avoid costly errors. Cutting this many staff could end up being a false economy for the chancellor.”–gives-energy-intensive-sector-free-ride_100022149/#ixzz3sdAaQc00

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussing visit to North Korea – optimistic

U.N. chief Ban says ‘positive signs’ from Pyongyang on North Korea visit, Reuters, 27 Nov 15 SEOUL U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he was discussing with North Korea the dates for his visit to the isolated state but no decision has been made in his first public comments on the trip since news reports last week said he would go soon.

Ban, who is South Korean, said he received “positive signs” from Pyongyang recently following his talks with the North’s foreign minister, in comments made to South Korean reporters at the United Nations and carried by YTN TV early on Tuesday.

“We are discussing when would be the good time for me to visit the North, but so far nothing has been decided,” he said, adding he is working to make the trip “at the earliest time.”

The United Nations had denied news reports about Ban’s visit to Pyongyang last week or this week.

If Ban’s visit does take place, he is expected to discuss U.N. sanctions against the North and its nuclear weapons programme, analysts have said.

The North is under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions for its missile and nuclear tests, as well as separate U.S. and EU sanctions…….

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

MP calls for Trident nuclear submarines to be moved from Scotland

Trident nukes could be moved from Scotland to N. Ireland, DUP MP says : 24 Nov, 2015  Britain’s Trident nuclear submarines could be moved from their Scottish mooring at Faslane to Ulster, Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

Donaldson made his comments in the House of Commons on Tuesday, intervening when Prime Minister David Cameron came under fire from the Scottish National Party (SNP) while outlining his plans for UK’s defense strategy.

The SNP’s Angus Robertson, who is MP for Moray, told Cameron the nuclear weapons currently based in a military port at Faslane are deeply unpopular with Scottish people……

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Lithium-air batteries might make oil obsolete

Could Lithium-air batteries make oil obsolete?   Sooner than it takes to build a nuclear power station, lithium-air batteries could be helping wind and solar to make coal, oil and nuclear obsolete, say Cambridge scientists. Five times lighter and five times cheaper than current lithium batteries, Li-air would open the way to our 100% renewable future.

Scientists have developed a working laboratory demonstrator of a lithium-oxygen battery which has very high energy density, is more than 90% efficient over its discharge-recharge cycle, and can be recharged more than 2,000 times.

Lithium-oxygen, or lithium-air, batteries have been touted as the ‘ultimate’ battery due to their theoretical energy density, which is ten times that of a lithium-ion battery.

Such a high energy density would be comparable to that of gasoline – and would enable an electric car with a battery that is a fifth the cost and a fifth the weight of those currently on the market to drive 400 miles on a single charge – from London to Edinburgh, or from Boston to Washington DC. Although the energy density remains lower than for oil, the electrical energy is used far more efficiently with very low losses. Typical cars and trucks today waste 75% of fuel energy in heat. Also there is no need for the heavy engines and transmission systems required in oil-powered vehicles.

In fact the Li-air batteries could even be light enough to propel aircraft – weaning the world off one of the most intractable uses of fossil energy as aviation fuel.

This is the first time that any battery technology has even come close to challenging the energy density of petroleum fuels, and therefore represents a major tipping point in the world’s energy choices in coming decades.

However, as is the case with other next-generation batteries, there are several practical challenges that need to be addressed before lithium-air batteries become a viable alternative to gasoline.

Now researchers from the University of Cambridge have shown how some of these obstacles may be overcome, and developed a lab-based demonstrator of a lithium-air battery which has higher capacity, increased energy efficiency and improved stability over previous attempts.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, The Ecologist.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Paris COP21 Information Hub Virtual Participation

logo Paris climate1 Paris COP21   Information Hub Virtual Participation with live webcast, social media community tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr enable virtual participation in the UN Climate Change Conference Paris (30 November – 11 December). See the full list of our social media accounts below.

Information on which sessions will be webcast live each day will be made available in the daily programme, and can be seen on the main meetings page and also on the webcast interface.

The main Twitter hashtag for the event is #COP21.

Conference participants can take pictures of themselves next to giant hashtags placed around the conference venue. Screens distributed around the venue will display the global conversation happening in real time on Twitter and Facebook during the event.

Apps, Platforms and Accounts

A UNFCCC Negotiator app collects all the information in one place, including social media and webcast.

App for Iphone/Ipad

App for Android

Full list of our social media accounts


Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres

UNFCCC in English

UNFCCC in French

UNFCCC in Spanish

UNFCCC in German

Momentum for Change

UN Carbon Mechanisms

UNFCCC In-session documents

Lima-Paris Action Agenda



Momentum for Change

Adaptation Exchange

UN Carbon Mechanisms

Other Channels

UNFCCC on LinkedIn

UNFCCC on Flickr

UNFCCC on YouTube

Momentum for Change on Vimeo

Momentum for Change on SoundCloud

UNFCCC on Google+

November 25, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear deal for Egypt ridiculous in such an insecure regime

Sisi’s Egypt is falling apart, Middle East Eye,  Mustafa Salama Tuesday 24 November 2015 Egypt is on a reckless path that will end in it falling apart unless it can change course very soon

When Russian authorities confirmed that the plane crash in Sharm el Sheikh that killed over 220 passengers was caused by a bomb, the Egyptian authorities responded with a long silence and no comment. Perhaps the silence was no surprise. Embarrassingly, Egyptian authorities have been kept out of the loop of intelligence details being shared between Washington, London and Moscow.

On the same night Russia announced the confirmation, it sent security experts to examine ways of securing its embassy, as obviously Egypt ha lost trust on the security front. Security procedures in Sharm el Sheikh airport came under a great deal of scrutiny from security officials of foreign countries and the international media. The findings were appalling. Security personnel in the airport were reported to be playing “Candy Crush”, sleeping on duty and taking money in return for having passengers avoid security queues.

Domestic failure reflected abroad

In Egypt, matters are not going well. Apparently and for quite some time, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been repeating the notion “we do not eat but build Egypt”, which means that as long as Egypt is progressing, Egyptians can starve for the cause. It seems Egypt is indeed starving as Sisi acknowledges, unfortunately however, Egypt is not being built. With a public debt surpassing 90 percent of GDP, Egypt has never been in a worse state. Any economic hopes are usually related to external economic assistance from Sisi’s allies in the Gulf……..

The security crisis in Sharm el Sheikh may have come as a shock to international media. In Egypt it was a different story. In fact the much anticipated signing of a nuclear deal between Egypt and Russia to build a nuclear power plant in the north of the country was met by ridicule and sarcasm. Responses in social media highlighted the inability of the country to conduct basic tasks and keep safety regulations, and yet, operate a nuclear plant. Many on social media in Egypt shared the news adding a sarcastic comment like; “The End.” – See more at:

November 25, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

For Egypt and others, the alternatives to nuclear power hold more promise 

in general, nuclear energy is a bad deal for the Middle East. Most reactors would replace gas-fired plants, which are common in the region. But the nuclear sites hardly match up in terms of cost and productivity

Over the long term, as fossil fuels are depleted, nuclear power makes more sense. But only if you ignore the most bountiful—and safest—source of power in the region. It has been estimated that solar radiation could provide a country like Iran with 13 times its total energy needs—and decrease its dependence on Russia

A few of these countries want to set up nuclear-power plants regardless of expense,” says Mr Ramana. In most cases it is a matter of national pride—and a poor use of resources.

Why more Middle Eastern states are building nuclear power stations Nov 24th 201  EGYPT’S “long dream” is finally coming true, says Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the president. Not the dream of a capable government or reliable services—but the one in which Egypt’s nuclear-energy programme, started back in 1954, finally produces a watt of usable power. The government signed a deal with Russia on November 19th to build its first nuclear plant in Dabaa, on the Mediterranean coast.

Nuclear power has gone out of fashion in much of the world. The share of electricity generated by nuclear reactors has fallen to 10.8%, from a peak of 17.6% in 1996. More reactors have closed than opened of late. But the industry is not in crisis. China, Russia and India are all expanding their nuclear programmes. And several countries in the Middle East are pursuing nuclear power, creating what some have unfortunately called a “boom” in the region.

Some fear where this may lead—a nuclear-arms race pitting Sunni states, led by Saudi Arabia, against Shia Iran in pursuit of the bomb. A nuclear deal between Iran and the West, signed in July, has somewhat allayed those concerns. Nuclear fuel in the region remains mostly under the control of international suppliers. Moreover, there are legitimate reasons for the countries of the Middle East to seek alternative power sources. Demand for electricity is rising, along with pressure to lower carbon emissions; nuclear plants tick both boxes. Diversification away from fossil fuels must come sooner or later, say experts.

Short of oil and gas of their own, Egypt and Jordan in particular want nuclear power to shore up the security of their energy supplies, which have been disrupted by violence in the region. (Both have looked to Israel for gas, causing controversy at home.) They face big obstacles. The site chosen by Jordan for two planned reactors, also to be built by Russia, lacks water (necessary for cooling) and is opposed by local tribesmen. Egypt has assuaged its own locals, but previous plans have come to nought due to political upheaval and safety concerns. Financing is also a challenge for these cash-strapped countries, though Egypt claims that it will pay off its deal—over a period of 35 years from now—simply by producing electricity, which it will be able to buy at a low marginal cost.

The nuclear plans of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are more plausible. Both countries hope to free up oil and natural gas, which they now usefor electricity generation, for export. To that end, Saudi Arabia has reached agreements with five countries, including Russia, to build 16 reactors by 2032. The UAE is already working with its partner South Korea on four planned reactors, which should begin supplying power in 2017. When the project is completed three years later, a quarter of the country’s electricity needs are expected to be met by nuclear energy.
The projects in Saudi Arabia, which burns oil it could more efficiently sell abroad to produce power, and the UAE, which got a bargain on its reactors, make some economic sense. But in general, nuclear energy is a bad deal for the Middle East. Most reactors would replace gas-fired plants, which are common in the region. But the nuclear sites hardly match up in terms of cost and productivity, say Ali Ahmad and M.V. Ramana of Princeton University. According to their calculations, a country like Saudi Arabia would benefit from nuclear power only if it could charge potential customers abroad several times the going price for its gas (otherwise, it is cheaper to burn it at home and forgo building reactors). Importers, on the other hand, should stick with gas-fired plants so long as the gas price does not rise dramatically.

Over the long term, as fossil fuels are depleted, nuclear power makes more sense. But only if you ignore the most bountiful—and safest—source of power in the region. It has been estimated that solar radiation could provide a country like Iran with 13 times its total energy needs—and decrease its dependence on Russia, which has withheld nuclear fuel in the past. Photovoltaic panels aren’t a spectacular target for terrorists. And the declining cost of solar power has made it an increasingly good deal. Indeed, it attracted more investment worldwide than nuclear energy last year.Some in the region are thinking this way. Morocco, which currently imports electricity from Spain, is constructing one of the largest solar-power plants in the world for slightly less than the price of Jordan’s two nuclear reactors. It hopes to get 42% of its electricity from renewables by 2020—and to eventually export power to Europe. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also splashed out on large projects; other countries in the region brag of big plans. Yet analysts say the sun-drenched Middle East, with its vast near-desert spaces, could be doing much more.

Less glamorous options also exist for countries looking to improve their power supplies. Fixing decrepit transmission lines in Iran would save more electricity than is produced by the country’s lone nuclear-energy plant in Bushehr. Egypt’s old power grid is in need of repair. But there is more prestige attached to nuclear power, which is often seen as a hallmark of technological progress, and which, of course, also allows for the development of skills that could one day be turned to bomb-making. “A few of these countries want to set up nuclear-power plants regardless of expense,” says Mr Ramana. In most cases it is a matter of national pride—and a poor use of resources.

November 25, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment


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