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Nuclear industry sees a bleak outlook for its future

antinuke-worldSmLights out for nuclear power? Japan’s Fukushima disaster and the rise of shale gas have the developed world running from nuclear power Macleans, by Jonathon Gatehouse on Monday, September 16, 2013 The last thing anyone wants to hear regarding a nuclear accident is “unprecedented crisis” and “getting worse.” Yet that was the frank assessment Tatsujiro Suzuki, chair of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission, gave about the Fukushima power plant in an interview with the BBC earlier this month. …….  the latest government plan—to spend $470 million to turn the ground beneath the plant into an impenetrable “ice wall” via a network of refrigerated pipes—sounds more like a James Bond movie than proven science…… the disaster site itself, it’s the lingering after-effects that are proving most difficult to overcome.

Lost in the headlines about the leaks and ice walls this month was the latest calamity to befall the business, the closure of Vermont’s only nuclear plant. It was the fifth announced shutdown of a U.S. reactor in the past 12 months alone. Fourteen others are already in the process of being decommissioned. A confluence of factors—Fukushima-driven safety concerns, reinvigorated environmental opposition, cheaper power alternatives and depressed demand for electricity—has governments and utilities backing away from fission. It’s a growing trend that has proponents of nuclear energy suddenly worrying about its future……..

It wasn’t that long ago that experts were predicting a bright tomorrow for nuclear power………

What few saw coming, however, was the rapid emergence of shale gas as a cheap and abundant fuel source. Coupled with a six-year economic slump that has greatly slowed the growth in industrial demand across North America, the new supply has pushed down wholesale electricity prices to the point where nuclear operators are now feeling the squeeze. And when it comes to planning for future needs, gas plants—which can be built in just over a year for less than $1 billion—are proving far more attractive than nuclear stations that cost in excess of $12 billion and take as long as a decade to come online.

The outlook for nuclear is similarly bleak in western Europe……….. even France, a long-time nuclear champion, is moving forward with a plan to reduce fission-derived power from 75 per cent to 50 per cent of its national supply by 2025…..

Most of the Western world’s nuclear facilities are already toward the tail end of their usefulness, having been built in the 1970s and early ’80s. …..

September 18, 2013 - Posted by | general

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