The media has been awash with stories on nuclear including the Economist which carries a special report into nuclear power under the title “the dream that failed”. It contains many reasons why nuclear is not the answer to the world’s energy dilemma, but the loudest message is on costs, here are just a few quotes:
“Renewables are getting cheaper, through technological change and through the benefits of mass production and market competition. In the long-run, technologies that get cheaper can be expected to edge out a technology that has only ever got more expensive.”
“Nuclear power would be more competitive if it were cheaper. Yet despite generous government research and development programmes stretching back decades, this does not look likely”.
“British studies in 2004, 2006 and 2008 put the overnight cost [the cost of the material and labour that goes into a new plant as if it had been purchased simultaneously] of new PWRs [pressurised water reactors] at $2,233/kW [€1,703], then $2,644 [€2,016], then $3,000 [€2,288].”
“The first two EPRs [European pressurised reactors] to be built in Europe, in France and Finland, have gone extravagantly over schedule and over budget.”
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Werner Faymann, Austrian Chancellor, expects petitions to start in at least six EU countries this year with the goal of having the EU abandon nuclear power. Austria is also seeking enough renewable energy to be able to export it by 2014/15.
In Japan, according to the Mainichi, a Japanese news site, Yuhei Sato, the governor of the Fukushima Prefecture, this Sunday called for an end to nuclear power and the promotion of renewable energy. “Fukushima aims to create a society that enjoys sustainable development by promoting renewable energy and not depending on nuclear power…we will call for all nuclear power stations in the prefecture to be shut down so that an accident like this never happens again,” he said.
At the nuclear plant itself, the clean-up operation will take years and hundreds of thousands of people are still displaced from their homes and will be for years to come. Meanwhile, only two of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are grid-connected and could be turned off in the coming months.
Renewable Energy Focus said that, “in the run-up to the 11 March anniversary of the Fukushima reactor meltdown, the steady drop of anti renewables articles in the mainstream media was becoming a torrent as the nuclear lobby cranked up its public relations machine.” Read the full article here.
Energy and Environmental Management Magazine reported that over 1,000 people demonstrated outside a UK nuclear power station called Hinkley Point C in Somerset – the biggest protest for decades.
Now is the time more than ever for renewables to fill the nuclear gap.
Why does the EU need a higher carbon price?
At the end of last week EU environment ministers met to discuss how to fix the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) by raising the price of carbon. The EWEA blog spoke to Rémi Gruet, EWEA’s senior regulatory affairs advisor on climate change, to discover just what the ETS does and why the EU needs a higher carbon price.
What is the emissions trading system?
The ETS is a kind of market that puts a price on carbon emissions. Big polluters – mainly the power sector – are legally required to limit their carbon emissions. If they emit less than their limit they can sell carbon ‘permits’ on the market, and if they emit more they can buy carbon ‘permits’.
What’s the problem with it today?
The carbon emission limits were set before the economic crisis. Because of the crisis, big industry is producing less and so emissions have gone down, making the carbon limit set at the time irrelevant to today’s world. From the end of 2008 the carbon price started to plummet and has not recovered since.
Why do we need a higher carbon price?
A higher carbon price would change the way we produce electricity by making older technologies even more expensive compared to renewables. Older technologies already have to buy their fuel (coal, oil..) and now pay for their carbon emissions whereas for renewables, wind energy and solar power, the ‘fuel’ is free and they have no carbon emissions.
What happened at Friday’s EU environment council?
26 EU environment ministers recognised the need for a stronger carbon pricing system – they said the EU should act on the market to reduce the number of ‘permits’ which would boost the carbon price by making ‘permits’ more scarce.
Poland, however – which is 93% reliant on coal for its power –vetoed an EU move to boost the carbon price.
Did anything else happen at the meeting?
Yes, EU ministers also agreed that the EU needs carbon reduction milestones up until 2050 in order for it to reach 80-95% carbon reductions by 2050. Poland disagreed with this too.
Carbon pricing is also being dealt with under another piece of EU legislation on energy efficiency. This legislation requires qualified majority voting and not unanimous as was the case on Friday. So if only one country is against boosting the price of carbon, the law will pass and the EU will move to boost the price of carbon. The Parliament is expected to vote on this in June.
Zoë Casey, http://blog.ewea.org/