Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear power a very bad choice as part of action on climate change

Many argue that NPPs are necessary to mitigate climate change, but only one stage out of the 14-stage nuclear fuel cycle is carbon free. Unless equipped with desalination facilities, reactors consume vast amounts of water, an increasingly-scarce resource in countries like Pakistan, which is predicted to completely run out of water by 2025. Nuclear waste must be stored and secured for tens of thousands of years, not to mention the environmental disasters caused by reactor meltdowns. There are other strategies to limit global temperature rise below two degrees, and the idea that countries should deploy all low-carbon technologies no matter the costs should not be used to support such a volatile industry

Why the Civil Nuclear Trap Is Part and Parcel of the Belt and Road Strategy
Civil nuclear energy presents grave pitfalls in terms of cost, innovation and security that BRI countries cannot and should not afford. The Diplomat   By Sam Reynolds July 05, 2018 
 The Larger Point

Although China will continue to promote the benevolent aspects of the BRI, countries along its corridors and elsewhere should not fall victim to the civil nuclear trap. Nuclear energy is too costly, too time-consuming and too risky, especially in light of better alternatives. Instead, developing countries should lead the way towards a secure, low-carbon, low-cost energy future without NPPs.

Nuclear advocates argue correctly that nuclear has comparable levelized costs to solar photovoltaics (PV). The irony is that projects regularly go over budget and costs can actually increase the more nuclear experience a country has, contradicting the learning curve phenomenon. Although the French nuclear program was incredibly successful, it demonstrated “negative learning,” wherein costs actually increased for additional projects. (Solar PV and wind costs decreased the fastest with every doubling of experience.)

Therefore, innovations and experience in nuclear technology might not lead to cost reductions. China is cultivating a reputation for its indigenous nuclear reactor designs by praising its brand new Hualong-One — nicknamed China’s business card — as a “landmark” technology that is very competitive with other designs. It reached deals to build them in Pakistan, Argentina, Kenya, Egypt and the United Kingdom. There are no Hualong-One reactors currently operational.

Despite the enthusiasm, two other recent breakthroughs in reactor design — the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) and America’s Westinghouse AP1000 — were also expected to revitalize the industry. In December 2017, just as the world’s first EPR was coming online in China’s Guangdong province, a boiler cracked during a test phase causing its third delay in two years and costing $770 million. An AP1000 reactor under construction in Zhejiang province was delayed a month later.

These kinds of delays are the case more often than not. Of 55 plants under construction worldwide in 2017, nearly two-thirds were behind schedule. Time and again, innovations promising cheaper, safer reactors have stalled, indicating flaws in the industry at large.

The threat of terrorism that NPPs attract is another alarming issue. Between 2013 and 2016, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies recorded 683 incidents of lost or stolen radioactive material in 46 countries. In a 2016 example, Iridium-192 — radioactive material that could be used to make a dirty bomb — was stolen in Iraq, and there were suspicions that Islamic State fighters were responsible. Since 2013, Mexico alone has experienced nine thefts of highly radioactive material.

These risks are particularly stark for countries along the BRI. According to Zhu Feng, dean of the Institute of International Affairs at Nanjing University, “Security is the most important challenge facing the Belt and Road.” In Pakistan, for example, the CPEC has already exacerbated tensions with India and the country is historically prone to earthquakestsunamis, and terrorism. Two reactors under construction outside of Karachi lie less than 20 miles from a densely-populated area, closer than Chernobyl, and 44 construction workers on BRI projects have been killed by terrorist attacks in Pakistan since 2014. Adding six new NPPs there will not ease insecurity and distrust in the region.

Many argue that NPPs are necessary to mitigate climate change, but only one stage out of the 14-stage nuclear fuel cycle is carbon free. Unless equipped with desalination facilities, reactors consume vast amounts of water, an increasingly-scarce resource in countries like Pakistan, which is predicted to completely run out of water by 2025. Nuclear waste must be stored and secured for tens of thousands of years, not to mention the environmental disasters caused by reactor meltdowns. There are other strategies to limit global temperature rise below two degrees, and the idea that countries should deploy all low-carbon technologies no matter the costs should not be used to support such a volatile industry. ……….. https://thediplomat.com/2018/07/why-the-civil-nuclear-trap-is-part-and-parcel-of-the-belt-and-road-strategy/

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July 6, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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