Russian nuclear firm Rosatom eyes Chilean lithium | SANTIAGO 2 Oct 16 Russian state nuclear power plant giant Rosatom sent lobbyists to meet with the Chilean government and discuss “collaboration in possible lithium projects,” a government website revealed at the weekend.
Four representatives of the company met with Mining Deputy Minister Igancio Moreno in September, according to information published on the government’s lobbying transparent website.
Rosatom has signed billions of dollars worth of overseas contracts and is seen as a tool for Russia to wield political influence abroad.
This year, it signed a contract to build a nuclear research center in Chile’s neighbor Bolivia. It also has interests in several other Latin American countries.
Chile itself has no nuclear power plants and is not expected to build any, as it is one of the world’s most seismically active countries and is regularly shaken by strong earthquakes.
But Chile does have one of the world’s most plentiful supplies of lithium, a mineral used in rechargeable batteries and electronics that has seen rocketing interest and a sharp price rise in recent months on hopes of an electric vehicle boom.
Lithium also has applications for the nuclear industry. As a consequence, the Chilean government considers lithium a “strategic mineral,” leasing out rights and limiting its production.
Most lithium extraction projects involve partnership with the government and state copper miner Codelco [COBRE.UL] is expected to decide on a partner to develop its own lithium assets in the first quarter of next year.
- The impact the current 2015/2016 El Niño is having in Amazonia has been revealed by new research. Areas of extreme drought and changes to their typical distribution in the region are among the most evident consequences.
- A study led by researchers at the Global Change Unit at the Universitat de València (UV) shows the impact the current 2015/2016 El Niño is having in Amazonia. Areas of extreme drought and changes to their typical distribution in the region are among the most evident consequences.
- The El Niño effect is part of a cycle of global heating and cooling associated with the changing temperatures of a band of ocean water in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific ocean. Repeating every three to five years, it is one of the main drivers of climate variability. Although its consequences are felt at the global level, its impact on tropical forests — particularly the Amazon rainforests — are considered particularly significant, since this ecosystem is considered one of the planet’s main carbon sinks……
- The study, by researchers at the Universitat de València and published in Scientific Reports, shows how the current El Niño event is associated with an unprecedented heating of Amazonia, reaching the highest temperature in the last forty years and, probably, the last century. Additionally, extreme drought has hit a much larger area of this region than usual and is distributed atypically, with extremely dry conditions in the northeast and unusual wetting in the southeast (something which occurred in 2009/2010, though to a lesser extent).According to the UV scientists, this fact, not observed in the 1982/1983 and 1997/1998 events, implies that, the more the central equatorial Pacific is heated, the more marked the difference between and distribution of the wet zones and areas of extreme drought in the Amazon rainforest………https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160914090454.htm
The alarming number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon, Mongabay, 8 September 2016 / Commentary by Natália Girão Rodrigues de Mello
For three months, from September to December 2015, Manaus was engulfed in smoke, resembling Beijing. That was an unusual scene, and an undeniable sign that predatory exploration in the Brazilian Amazon has not yet been properly tackled.
- The sharp decrease in the annual rates of forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon is celebrated worldwide. The trend started in 2005 after a peak in deforestation the year before.
- However, the figures are not so bright when it comes to forest fires, and few people are talking about that.
- The number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon is alarming, and that was especially true in 2015, when a sharp increase in forest fires occurred………
- Natural factors alone fail to explain this recent increase, as similar climatic conditions in the past were not associated with the same amount of forest fires.
Forest fires and precipitation are strongly correlated in the Brazilian Amazon; in dry years, more forest fires occur. 2015 was a dry year, but not as dry as 2010 or 2005 were – years when the region faced anomalous droughts. Nevertheless, in 2015, forest fires increased 115.6 percent and 105.5 percent compared to 2005 and 2010, respectively. Hence it is safe to say that the peak observed last year was strongly associated with unregulated anthropogenic activities in the forest.
In the region, using fire in order to clear large areas is a common practice. The expansion of roads, settlements, croplands and cattle ranches has been leading fires to reach ever-wider areas of the forest.
The consequences associated with this issue are vast. They are felt locally, regionally and globally. Forest fires contribute to climate change due to the emission of three greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. As the forest burns, health-damaging gases – carbon monoxide, non-methane hydrocarbons, methyl chloride, and methyl bromide – are also emitted, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aerosols. VOCs interact with nitrous oxides to form ozone, a phytotoxic gas. Aerosols cause the suppression of cloud formation and the decrease of precipitation efficiency. Moreover, a positive feedback between fire-induced death of trees and increased solar penetration in the forest occurs, resulting in the intensification of successive fires…….https://news.mongabay.com/2016/09/the-alarming-number-of-fires-in-the-brazilian-amazon/?utm_content=buffer4318b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Solar Delivers Cheapest Electricity ‘Ever, Anywhere, By Any Technology’ https://thinkprogress.org/solar-delivers-cheapest-electricity-ever-anywhere-by-any-technology-c2ef759ac33f#.mxa8earjt Dr. Joe Romm , Founding Editor of Climate Progress, “the indispensable blog,” 24 Aug 16
Half the price of coal! Chile has just contracted for the cheapest unsubsidized power plant in the world, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports.
In last week’s energy auction, Chile accepted a bid from Spanish developerSolarpack Corp. Tecnologica for 120 megawatts of solar at the stunning price of $29.10 per megawatt-hour (2.91 cents per kilowatt-hour or kwh). This beats the 2.99 cents/kwh bid Dubai received recently for 800 megawatts. For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.
“Solar power delivers cheapest unsubsidised electricity ever, anywhere, by any technology,” BNEF Chair Michael Liebreich said on Twitter after this contract was announced.
Carlos Finat, head of the Chilean Renewable Energies Association (ACERA) told Bloomberg that the auction is “a strong warning sign that the energy business continues on the transition path to renewable power and that companies should adapt quickly to this transition process.” Indeed, in the same auction, the price of coal power was nearly twice as high!
Grid-connected solar power on Chile has quadrupled since 2013. Total installed capacity exceeded 1,000 megawatts this year — the most by far in South America. Another 2,000 megawatts is under construction, and there are over 11,000 megawatts that are “RCA Approved” (i.e. have environmental permits).
Chile is aided by the fact that its Atacama desert is “the region with the highest solar radiation on the planet,” according to the Inter-American Development Bank. So much solar is being built in the high-altitude desert that Northern Chile can’t use it all, and the government is rushing to buildnew transmission lines.
Chile is part of a global trend where solar energy has doubled seven times since 2000. In the U.S. alone, it has grown 100-fold in the past decade thanks to a sharp drop in prices that has brought the cost of solar (with subsidies) to under four cents a kilowatt hour in many places, as I detailed last month.
The future for solar could not be sunnier.
Researchers are increasingly concerned that the Amazon rain forest — the world’s largest tropical forest, a huge repository of carbon and a vital cycler of water into rainfall across much of South America — will soon burn in a way that has not been seen in many years.
The reason is the lingering effect of the recent El Nino event. Forecasts from NASA and the University of California-Irvine, and from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society suggest that because of how El Nino reduced precipitation in the region earlier this year, the Amazon is far drier than usual, and primed to burn once the dry season reaches its height this summer (the fire season runs from June through November with a September peak).
According to the NASA/U.C. Irvine forecast, the Amazon is currently “far drier than 2005 and 2010 — the last years when the region experienced drought.” The years 2005 and 2010 also saw major blazes in the Amazon.
Indeed, the NASA/U.C. Irvine researchers shared data suggesting that the storage of water in the Amazon in March of 2016, as measured by NASA’s twin GRACE satellites (which detect gravitational anomalies at the Earth’s surface), is far lower now than it was in March during these prior years.
“We have the possibility of killing hundreds of thousands of trees in the Amazon in 2016, if you let these fires start,” says Paulo Brando, an Amazon fire expert at the Woods Hole Research Center and Ipam (the Amazon Environmental Research Institute).
If these forecasts are verified, there will be a great deal at stake. It isn’t just that huge, dangerous clouds of smoke could reach major urban areas ranging from Manaus to Rio. It’s that the fires risk helping to tip the Amazon into a new state that scientists fear — one in which it will be drier, store less carbon, cycle less water and generate less rainfall.
That would be disastrous for the Earth’s climate overall. The Amazon alone stores an enormous amount of carbon, 120 billion tons worth. Put that stuff in the atmosphere and the result would be justly termed catastrophic………
It is important to note that so far, what we are looking at are bad fire forecasts for this summer in the Amazon — but not a catastrophe at this point. The forecasts may not be realized. (That happens!) And the forecasts could also drive at least some action in Brazil and other Amazon countries to take steps to prevent people from starting fires, blunting the potential consequences of drought.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that scientists continue to talk about the Amazon in the same way they talk about, say, West Antarctica or the overturning circulation of the Atlantic Ocean — as a delicate system that we could tip, with enormous consequences. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/12/the-ultimate-forest-fire-whatll-happen-when-the-amazon-burns/
Chile Has So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving It Away for Free , Bloomberg, 2 June 16
Spot prices reached zero for 113 days this year through April
Solar power on Chile’s central grid quadrupled since 2013
Chile’s solar industry has expanded so quickly that it’s giving electricity away for free.
Spot prices reached zero in parts of the country on 113 days through April, a number that’s on track to beat last year’s total of 192 days, according to Chile’s central grid operator. While that may be good for consumers, it’s bad news for companies that own power plants struggling to generate revenue and developers seeking financing for new facilities.
Chile’s increasing energy demand, pushed by booming mining production and economic growth, has helped spur development of 29 solar farms supplying the central grid, with another 15 planned. Further north, in the heart of the mining district, even more have been built. Now, economic growth is slowing as copper output stagnates amid a global glut, energy prices are slumping and those power plants are oversupplying regions that lack transmission lines to distribute the electricity elsewhere………
The government is working to address this issue, with plans to build a 3,000-kilometer(1,865-mile) transmission line to link the the two grids by 2017. It’s also developing a 753-kilometer line to address congestion on the northern parts of the central grid, the region where power surpluses are driving prices to zero…….
- When power companies aren’t giving away electricity, it’s cheap. At the Diego de Almagro substation in the Atacama region, for example, prices didn’t exceed $60 a megawatt-hour for most of March. That’s less than the $70 minimum price for companies that won long-term contracts to sell solar power in Chile’s energy auctions in October and March……..http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-01/chile-has-so-much-solar-energy-it-s-giving-it-away-for-free
Bolivia Hopes to Gain Knowledge From Nuclear Deal With Russia, Sputnik News, 29 Mar 16, “……..Russia and Bolivia signed an agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation in 2015. Rosatom and the Bolivian Hydrocarbon and Energy Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy in November. http://sputniknews.com/business/20160329/1037166194/bolivia0russia-rosatom-nuclear.html#ixzz44KHYmPUv
Tropical sites need solar power, not free cooling, Data Center Dynamics 24 March 2016 By Paulo Cesar de Resende Pereira Free cooling can improve some measures of efficiency, but tropical countries may be better off looking at where their power comes from
The importance of data centers to the average citizen should not be underestimated. They are vital for even the most common daily function – from a simple internet search to a bank transaction. Their importance can even extend to, for example, the monitoring of the electricity delivered to one’s home.
But data centers are accused of being environmental villains due to their exorbitant consumption of energy, so reducing their environmental impact is vital. In this context, photovoltaic generation is an interesting alternative to free cooling, and especially suitable for tropical regions such as Brazil.
Using the wrong metricEcological footprint (ecofootprint), according to WWF Global, is connected to the impact of human activities, measured according to the production area and the amount of water needed to produce goods and assimilate the waste produced.
Data center efficiency is usually rated by PUE, a parameter conceptualized by the US, the EU and Japan to establish a single metric to assess the energy efficiency of data centers. The concept is not new, because the relationship between useful energy and invested energy is used in many other processes.
The calculation of this indicator is based on the relationship between the energy consumption by the installation as a whole (total energy) and the energy consumption exclusively by IT equipment (IT energy). Like any indicator, PUE may be called into question, but it remains a useful metric nonetheless.
It did not take long for the cooling system to be considered the greatest enemy of PUE; as a consequence, its efficiency has become closely related to its reduction. There is nothing more tempting than getting something for free; for instance, a data center that could potentially be cooled by nothing more than the forces of nature. Since this is not possible, the solution is to decrease a good percentage of energy consumed by central chilled water, taking advantage of free cooling, thus decreasing PUE………
Free energy, not free coolingThe concept of free energy emerges as an alternative to free cooling, on the grounds that it is more suitable to the Brazilian reality and to other countries with similar weather. It is related to power generation using any renewable energy source that has been obtained directly from nature through an environmentally sustainable process. This solution, as well as free cooling, aims to improve data center effectiveness and reduce the ecofootprint from data centers in general. Because of the distributed generation and the ability of interaction between the minigeneration and the energy provider, free energy has become a feasible concept.
Taking photovoltaic power as an example of free energy, when data centers are transformed into generation plants, they may apply this energy to the grid and offset it – not only from an energy standpoint but also economic. Once the concept of free energy is settled, it is inserted into another new term – EcoPUE – bringing a new idea for calculating PUE that is now even more environmentally friendly and presents a sustainable aspect, where the reduction of energy consumption in the data center is linked to the subtraction of the energy generated by the photovoltaic generation system. This renewable generated energy is called ‘free energy.’
Use what works
The increased demand for processing and storage of data, together with the environmental problems caused by high energy consumption, are forcing data centers in Brazil, and elsewhere, to seek more technological solutions and become increasingly green, using energy more efficiently and sustainably while providing a quality service to customers
. A combination of existing technology and techniques, along with new government legislation in Brazil, are now in place, so significant improvements have already been achieved. As an alternative to free cooling, the use of photovoltaics is increasingly being seen as a viable option in countries with a high solar radiation index – like Brazil – where renewable energy can be obtained for free from the natural resources available on the planet.
The concept of EcoPUE demonstrates that greater efficiency from a data center can be enforced with the use of photovoltaic generation, thus reducing their environmental footprint.
Paulo Cesar de Resende Pereira is director of Fox Engenharia e Consultoria in Brazil
This article is translated from the Portuguese-language section of the latest magazine at Datacenterdynamics.es http://www.datacenterdynamics.com/power-cooling/tropical-sites-need-solar-power-not-free-cooling/95907.fullarticle
Bolivia agrees $300 million nuclear complex with Russia’s Rosatom, Reuters, 6 Mar 16, LA PAZ Bolivia and Russia’s state-owned atomic energy corporation Rosatom said on Sunday they had signed a provisional agreement for the construction of $300 million nuclear complex in the Andean nation.
Under the terms of the accord, which needs to be approved by Bolivia’s Congress, Rosatom will help Bolivia develop infrastructure for its embryonic nuclear program.
The center will include a research reactor, a cyclotron for radiopharmaceuticals and a multi-purpose gamma irradiation plant. Opposition politicians have criticized the project over fears of environmental risks……..http://www.reuters.com/article/us-bolivia-rosatom-idUSKCN0W80R3
Environmental activist, Green Nobel winner Berta Caceres killed http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/environmental-activist-green-nobel-winner-berta-caceres-killed/news-story/8399e153bdf91f483868c9e9d63e6dac AFP MARCH 5, 2016 TEGUCIGALPA: Honduran indigenous activist Berta Caceres, an award-winning environmentalist, has been shot and killed in her home, her family labelling her death an assassination.
Ms Caceres won the 2015 Goldman Prize, the world’s top award for grassroots environmental activism, for leading the indigenous Lenca people in a struggle against a hydro-electric dam project that would flood native lands and cut off water supplies to hundreds.
Her mother, Berta Flores, said yesterday police had indicated her daughter was killed in a robbery, “but we all know it was because of her struggle”.
The 43-year-old mother of four, who had received death threats for her activism, was shot dead in the early hours of Thursday at her home in the western town of La Esperanza.
In awarding her the prize, the Goldman organisation commended her for carrying on her campaign despite the threats, writing: “Her murder would not surprise her colleagues, who keep a eulogy — but hope to never have to use it. “Despite these risks, she maintains a public presence in order to continue her work”.
President Juan Orlando Hernandez called the killing “a crime against Honduras” and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice, and secretary-general of the Organisation of American States Luis Almagro condemned the crime as “horrific.”
As Ms Caceres’s body lay in a hall at a union headquarters in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa yesterday, supporters outside shouted, “Berta is alive, the fight goes on”. About 3000 students blocked a road elsewhere in Tegucigalpa before police dispersed them with tear gas.
Security Minister Julian Pacheco said a security guard at the complex where Ms Caceres lived and another suspect who was wounded had been arrested.
Ms Caceres had won a ruling by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granting her special security measures. Police formerly provided her with an around-the-clock guard, but switched to an occasional security detail at her request, Mr Pacheco said. But the Centre for Justice and International Law denied that Ms Caceres had turned down bodyguards and accused the government of providing “deficient” security.
Mr Pacheco said Ms Caceres had spent the night away from the home that was registered with the authorities. Fellow activists said she had moved to a safe house, fearing for her life. Gustavo Castro, a Mexican activist who was with Ms Caceres at the time of the attack, was grazed with a bullet.
Labor leader Carlos Reyes joined Ms Caceres’s mother in insisting that she was not just another victim of violent crime.“The information from the police is that attackers broke into her home from the back and shot her twice, but we all know it’s a lie, that they killed her because of her struggle,” he said. “It’s a political crime by the government.”
Ms Flores said her daughter had recently had a “very big altercation” with soldiers and representatives of a hydro-electric company during a visit to the Gualcarque River.
Ms Caceres founded the Civic Council of Indigenous and People’s Organisations in 1993 with her then husband Salvador Zuniga. She was best known for her battle to save the Gualcarque River, which earned her the Goldman Prize — dubbed the “Green Nobel” — last year.
On accepting the prize, Ms Caceres linked her environmentalism to her indigenous roots.“In our cosmic vision we are beings born of the Earth, the water and the maize plant. We are the ancestral custodians of the rivers,” she said.
Mexico issues alert after theft of radioactive material, ABC News 29 Feb 16 Five Mexican states have been put on alert after a truck carrying a container of potentially dangerous radioactive material was stolen, the Interior Ministry says.
The National Co-ordination of Civil Protection issued the warning after a company in the central state of Queretaro reported that a ute carrying radioactive iridium-192 had been stolen.
The Ministry said the material “can be dangerous for people if not handled safely” and could cause “permanent or serious injury to a person who is handling or in contact with it for a short time”.
Such damage could occur after contact lasting anywhere from minutes to hours, it added.
Officials said the radioactive material represented a significant health risk if taken outside its container, but was not dangerous if kept sealed…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-29/mexico-issues-alert-after-theft-of-radioactive-material/7209140
Green Energy Boom Helps Chile Contain Surging Power Prices [excellent graphs] ,Bloomberg Business, Philip Sanders Vanessa Dezem January 28, 2016
Chile leads Latin America in installation of solar power
Success achieved without the help of government incentives
At an auction of electricity supply contracts in October, three solar parks offered distributors energy at $65 to $68 per megawatt-hour, while coal power was offered at $85 megawatt-hour, according to a report by Deutsche Bank. Two wind farms bid at $79 megawatt-hour. Unsurprisingly, the contracts went to renewable energy suppliers.
Just seven years earlier it was a very different story. ……..
In the Shade
Chile’s solar industry is putting the rest of the continent in the shade.
The reason for that turnaround lies in the sun baked northern desert of the Atacama, where some towns have had almost no rain in living memory. It is a natural advantage that Chile will continue to exploit. As of November last year, the Energy Minister had registered solar projects with an additional capacity of 1.3 gigawatts.
“We feel very proud to be a country that is leading the energetic transition in Latin America and to have reached this renewable boom without fiscal subsidies,” Pacheco told Bloomberg on Dec. 15. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-28/green-energy-boom-helps-chile-contain-surging-power-prices
China will finance and build two nuclear power plants in Argentina in a deal worth up to $15bn underlining Beijing’s continued presence in Latin America despite its slowing economy.
The deal comes amid a push to export China’s homegrown atomic technology, often by offering cheap technology and generous financing. It follows China’s move last month to take a one-third stake in a French-led project to build the first in a new generation of UK nuclear plants.
Buenos Aires has been one of Beijing’s larger clients, with $19bn of lending for Chinese-led infrastructure projects since 2007, according to the Inter-American Dialogue’s China database.
Although China has started to scale back its exposure to more risky Latin American borrowers, such as Venezuela, it provided an $11bn currency swap arrangement last year to bolster Argentina’s sagging reserves.
Both reactors will be built by state-owned China National Nuclear Corp in co-operation with Argentina’s state-owned Nucleoeléctrica. When finished, they will roughly double the country’s nuclear power capacity provided by its existing three nuclear plants.
Chinese banks and companies will provide loans and investment to cover 85 per cent of the projects’ costs, with the loans to be paid back over 18 years with an annual interest rate below 6.5 per cent, according to Argentine media.
CNNC’s domestic state-owned rival, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), will apply to UK regulators next year for approval of its similar nuclear power technology as it seeks to build more plants in Britain.
CGN has already agreed to take a one-third stake in the French group EDF’s £18bn Hinkley Point power station, and wants to build a series of new reactors in the UK.
Analysts say success in exporting its nuclear technology to Britain will help China sell more nuclear plants around the world because of the perceived rigour of the UK’s regulatory regime.
“We have our first foot in the UK,” Zheng Dongshan, senior vice-president at CGN, told the Financial Times during a visit to the UK last month. “This could have a good effect to kick the door of other countries.”
Chinese economic planners have identified more than 60 countries between China and Europe as potential customers. They hope to provide 30 of the 200 nuclear plants they estimate will be under construction in those countries by 2030……
In recent years Beijing has stepped in to provide financing and investment to several countries locked, like Argentina, out of international credit markets or shunned by global investors because of war, sanctions or corruption.
Latin America has been an area of particular interest to China because of the ruling Communist party’s desire to expand Chinese influence into America’s traditional “backyard”.
Argentina says signs nuclear plant construction deals with China, Reuters, BUENOS AIRES Nov 15 Argentina has signed two nuclear power plant construction deals with China for about $15 billion, the Argentine government said in a statement on Sunday, calling the deals “a fundamental step toward diversifying our energy matrix.”…...”Between both deals we are talking about financing of close to $15 billion” over 18 years, the Argentine statement said. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Turbulent Times for Brazil’s Nuclear Projects, Carnegie Foundation, TOGZHAN KASSENOVA October 29, 2015 “……….Othon was at the heart of Brazil’s nuclear program during the military government that lasted until 1985, and he remained indispensable for the decades that followed. In 2005, he became the chief executive of Eletronuclear, an operator of nuclear power plants and a subsidiary of Eletrobras, a state-controlled power company. Eletronuclear operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants—Angra 1 and Angra 2—and is building a third plant in the picturesque region of Angra dos Reis, not far from Rio de Janeiro. Work on Angra 3 began in 1984. But after two years and the amassing of 70 percent of the equipment at the site, construction was suspended. Only after twenty-four years, in 2010, did construction resume on Angra 3.
The corruption charges against Othon stemmed from the construction of Angra 3. It was while he headed Eletronuclear that Othon was accused of receiving bribes from companies vying for Eletronuclear’s contracts. He was arrested on July 28 as part of an operation called Radioactivity, the sixteenth stage in Operation Car Wash.
Othon is currently accused of receiving 4.8 million Brazilian reais (or approximately $1.2 million) in bribes through Aratec Engenharia, a company he owned. Brazilian media report that Othon’s company accepted payments for the development of turbines that generate electricity using river flow.
Othon’s arrest is not the only nuclear dimension of Brazil’s corruption scandal. Marcelo Odebrecht, whose eponymous company is Brazil’s largest construction conglomerate, was arrested on corruption charges in June. His company is accused of paying bribes to Petrobras executives to gain lucrative contracts, overcharging Petrobras for construction projects, and siphoning off illegal profits to politicians who, in turn, facilitated the conglomerate’s operations.
Odebrecht is one of the largest companies in South America. With operations in 21 countries and a workforce of 168,000, the equivalent of the population of a medium-sized U.S. city, it has been involved in major infrastructure projects in places as diverse as Saudi Arabia and Angola.
Odebrecht is the main contractor for Brazil’s nuclear submarine program. In 2009, when Brazil and France signed a cooperation agreement to build five submarines—four conventional and one nuclear—together, Odebrecht received a contract worth $1.9 billion to construct a new naval shipyard in Itaguaí. In 2013, Brazil’s then president Dilma Rousseff attended the shipyard’s inauguration ceremony. With Odebrecht’s CEO under arrest, the immediate future of the company is uncertain.
Brazil’s Nuclear Ambitions ………..
Funding was pouring steadily into the nuclear submarine program. Since 2009, Brazil has spent $3.2 billion to build a submarine shipyard and a naval base. Brazil’s leaders promoted the program as one that would once again prove Brazil’s technological might—just as Embraer planes did decades earlier.
In 2010, construction of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant resumed, and while the government never touted nuclear energy as its priority, commitments were made to build up to four to eight new nuclear power plants.
Five years later, a very different Brazil has emerged. Foreign policy, let alone nuclear diplomacy, has decreased significantly on the ladder of Brazilian government priorities. Unlike Lula, President Dilma from the very beginning was less inclined to invest in an active foreign policy. Now she is too preoccupied with domestic problems to spend time on diplomacy. With her approval ratings hovering at 8 percent, foreign policy is unlikely to become a priority for the current government in the near future. The possibility that the government will actively pay attention to matters of global nuclear politics is even less likely.
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