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Jamaica’s government planning for small nuclear reactors – but there’s been no public discussion.

The Jamaica Gleaner, 15 May 23 Editorial | Preparing for nuclear power

Having made clear its intention to make nuclear power part of Jamaica’s energy mix, the Holness administration must urgently open a robust conversation with the public to explore the economics of the plan and address any fears people might have about pursuing this idea.

Indeed, it is too often the case that governments, including Jamaica’s, embark upon policies that prove controversial, when they might have avoided pitfalls by engaging their public early. That must not happen with this initiative.

When Prime Minister Andrew Holness raised the nuclear power question at the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s trade exposition earlier this month, there was a sense that the idea was at best embryonic that the government was merely beginning to explore the possibility of introducing either micro and/or small modular nuclear reactors to generate power. However, in his contribution to Parliament’s Sectoral Debate a fortnight later, the energy and technology minister, Daryl Vaz, indicated that the government was far farther along than floating the policy. Not only was it a definitive plan, it was already actively working on how to bring it to fruition.

Indeed, a section of Mr Vaz’s speech is headed: ‘Jamaica to go nuclear’. And according to the minister, the administration has been investigating the issue for two years, has had significant discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and is now preparing a road map for how to proceed fully, including the mobilisation of international funding for the project.

………………………………………… the literature (mostly by companies who have designed and are now marketing them) have touted the efficiency and safety of these reactors, but only a handful, primarily in Russia and China, are actually in operation and commercially generating power.

………………………………. being among the early purchasers of first-generation products, before the design flaws and other kinks are ironed out, carries risks, which it is important that Jamaica minimises.

…………………….. it should be disclosed early what proportion of the country’s electricity mix is expected to come from atomic power, and whether it will mean any displacement of the proposed, traditional renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.


May 16, 2023 - Posted by | politics

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