The United States is in the midst of an energy revolution. The North American shale boom has unlocked vast quantities of natural gas, upending domestic electricity markets and enabling rapidly growing export volumes. American shale oil has sent global oil prices to their lowest sustained level in a decade and slashed U.S. imports in half. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable fuels like wind and solar electricity has plummeted, and they now account for the majority of new electric generating capacity.
Given this technological and economic context, the United States has perhaps never been better positioned to tackle the urgent threat of climate change. Though it is often discussed as a future problem, climate change caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is happening now. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has increased from 317 parts per million in 1960 to more than 400 parts per million in 2016 (NOAA 2016), while the global average temperature has risen 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9° Celsius) above its 1960 level.
These changes are already impacting our everyday lives. Record-breaking temperatures, melting ice caps and more frequent coastal flooding, prolonged droughts, and damaging storms are just some of the intensifying risks we face as our planet continues to warm (IPCC 2007a). Despite these risks, the prices U.S. consumers pay for fossil fuels rarely reflect their costs, skewing consumption and investment choices away from cleaner fuels and discouraging the kinds of technological advancements that would allow the nation to make more efficient use of its energy resources.Read More
This spring, four years after the nuclear accident at Fukushima, a small group of scientists met in Tokyo to evaluate the deadly aftermath.
No one has been killed or sickened by the radiation- a point confirmed last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even among Fukushima workers, the number of additional cancer cases in coming years is expected to be so low as to be undetectable, a blip impossible to discern against the statistical background noise. But about 1,600 people died from the stress of the evacuation- one that scientists believe was not justified by the relatively moderate radiation levels at the Japanese nuclear plant. (more…)Read More
People in Switzerland voting in a referendum have rejected a proposal to introduce a strict timetable for phasing out nuclear power.
A projection for SRF public television showed the initiative failing by 55% to 45%.
A majority of cantons (Swiss states) voted against the initiative.
The plan, backed by the Green Party, would have meant closing three of Switzerland’s five nuclear plants next year, with the last shutting in 2029.
The five plants currently generate almost 40% of Switzerland’s electricity.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, the Swiss government said it would gradually move the country towards renewable energy by 2050.
It said nuclear plants should continue to operate as long as they are deemed safe, but did not set a precise timetable.
Environmentalists have said no nuclear reactors should be allowed to operate for longer than 45 years – meaning that at least two would have had to close almost immediately.
But business leaders and the government said shutting them down too quickly could lead to power shortages and raise reliance on fossil fuels.
Swiss voters regularly follow the advice of their government and of business leaders: the vote to hang on to nuclear power was no exception.
Although many Swiss do worry about the safety of their elderly nuclear plants, fears that a rapid shut down could cause energy shortages and even blackouts proved stronger.
Over a third of Swiss energy comes from nuclear power. Switzerland is currently ranked as the world’s most competitive economy, and voters don’t want to do anything to undermine that.
What’s more, the Swiss government does have a long-term plan to shift energy production towards renewable sources, and to gradually reduce and finally end the country’s reliance on nuclear power.Read More
After initially rejecting the use of nuclear energy in the Philippines under his watch, President Rodrigo Duterte had a change of heart and has given the green light to proceed with plans to reactivate the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
Speaking to reporters in Santa Rita, Batangas, the Energy chief said, however, that the President instructed him to pay special attention to the safety and security aspects of operating the 40-year-old power facility which was completed but never fueled and commissioned.
Of course, the power purchase agreement that was the result of onerous contracts signed during the term of former President Fidel Ramos, when he exercised emergency powers to solve the frequent brownouts, has been
At 18 meters above sea level ground elevation, Napocor said the BNPP plant site was well protected against tidal waves and tsunamis. It can sustain operation even if a Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant-like tsunami incident of March 11, 2011 happened at this site.
“We are for nuclear power because we see many advantages (from it) but the BNPP I am not too favor of this,” Gatchalian, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, told reports in an interview at the plant site in Morong, Bataan.
Source: http://www.mb.com.ph/bataan- diocese-opposes-reviving- nuclear-plant/
by Leslie Ann Aquino September 16, 2016
The churches in the Diocese of Balanga in Bataan will display streamers opposing the reopening of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said the decision to put up the streamers was reached during their monthly clergy assembly last September 12.
The plant in Morong, Bataan, was finished in 1984 but it never became operational.
“We decided that in all parishes, in all our churches we will put tarpaulins with our stand and messages: ‘Ang BNPP ay hindi pag-asa, ito ay panganib. Ang BNPP ay hindi pag-unlad, ito ay kapahamakan. Ang BNPP ay pagkasira ng buhay, kabuhayan at kalikasan’,” Santos said in an interview.
Other tarpaulins, Santos said will carry the messages: “BNPP: Bunga Nito Pinsala at Pighati” and “Tutol kami. Tigilan na. Tapusin na ang usapin tungkol sa BNPP.”
The bishop said that opposing the reopening of the plant is their main concern since drug addictions is not rampant in the province.
“Our present and main concern in Bataan is the idea of rehabilitation of Bataan nuclear power plant. We said No. We are against. And we will move to block any move about it,” said Santos.
“Drug addictions are not so rampant in the province, and some towns as declared by national government are drug-free. Since before war on drugs, as I came here, it is the program of the Diocese of Sunday Holy Mass at the provincial jail, every first Monday Holy Mass of the bishop at the provincial PNP. With two drug rehabilitation centers, we provide them spiritual assistance and Saturday Holy Masses,” he said.
The Archdiocese of Lipa is also not keen on putting up “Thou Shall Not Kill” streamers in churches saying each archdiocese is independent.
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, however, stressed that they too are pro-life.
“The province of Batangas, the Archdiocese of Lipa is RED: Respect LIFE; Enhance LIFE; Defend LIFE! We do not adhere only to the 5th commandment WAG KANG PAPATAY ng drug addict (pusher or lord),but also the unborn, the hungry, the prisoner, as well as the trees, the birds, the insects, the fish. We are with Pope FRANCIS and Mother Mary, Mother and Queen of Creation, grieving for the poor and the creatures laid waste by human power,” Arguelles said.Read More
Deutsche Welle (DW)
Five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, India and China have embraced nuclear power. Other countries in the region also want to build more plants – even in high-risk areas prone to earthquakes and tsunamis.
When Sun Qin talks about the future of nuclear power, his eyes light up. In China alone, there are 31 nuclear power plants and another 24 are under construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Now, the president of the China’s National Nuclear Corporation wants (CNNC) wants to build 30 additional nuclear power stations – not only in China, but also in the neighboring states along the so-called “New Silk Road.” CNNC has already exported six reactors abroad, but the Chinese want to expand further.
“We face very strong competition in the international nuclear market,” says Sun Qin, adding that “countries like Russia, South Korea, Japan and the United States are all exploring the global nuclear market aggressively.”
Five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and thirty years after Chernobyl, the nuclear industry, in particular in China, is on the upswing.
China: on track to becoming number 1
Following the Fukushima disaster, China’s government initially suspended the construction of additional nuclear power plants. Instead, comprehensive security policies were adopted. But in the autumn of 2012, Beijing lifted the moratorium on future development – and since then, has pursued a more ambitious nuclear program.
China needs to restructure its massive energy sector. Currently, the country produces some two-thirds of its total energy from outdated coal power plants. The Chinese people complain of air pollution and other environmental damage, which is why the government in Beijing will shut down about 1,000 coal plants by the end of this year.
Nuclear power, on the other hand, is considered a relatively “clean” alternative to coal. In daily congressional meetings, the Communist Party has been discussing plans for a massive expansion of nuclear energy. By 2030, a total of 110 nuclear power plants will be in operation.
With this, China would overtake the US as the country with the most nuclear power plants connected to the grid. Greenpeace nuclear expert Heinz Smital views the speed at which the reactors are being developed as problematic: “The Chinese safety authorities do not have the capacity to examine the buildings properly,” said Smital. “They will likely wave things through, rubber-stamp everything and not mess with the state-run construction consortiums. There is a big security risk.”
India’s economy grows at a rate of about six percent per annum. But its ailing energy infrastructure inhibits economic development. Large areas of the country suffer from regular blackouts and obsolete infrastructure.
Like China, India’s renewable energy sector needs to be massively expanded. But the country’s political elite are convinced that India must exhaust all possibilities of electricity. Therefore, Delhi is planning a far-reaching expansion of nuclear power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to build dozens of new reactors in the next 15 years.
The technical know-how is sourced internationally. Over the past decade, India has reached civil nuclear agreements with the United States, Canada, France and Russia. 21 nuclear power plants are already in operation. Two of the plants are in Kudankulam and Kalpakkam, located on the southeast coast of the country – areas prone to tsunamis. In December 2006, a tsunami hit Kalpakkam causing extensive damage, but not to the nuclear power plant, according to its operator.
Pakistan: Reactors in flood-prone areas
India’s neighbor, Pakistan, is also struggling with blackouts and outdated infrastructure. The country currently operates three small reactors, with the nuclear plant west of Karachi – located in a flood-prone area – being one of the oldest in the world.
The remaining two reactors are situated in an earthquake-prone area some 300 kilometers (186.4 miles) south of the capital Islamabad. The government is planning to build two other reactors in the same area. According to Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission, Islamabad wants to build a total of seven new reactors by 2030 – with assistance from China.
South Korean expansion
Although South Korea is about the size of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), the country boasts 25 active nuclear plants. Three additional ones are under construction, while two others are set to be completed by 2029. The government plans to increase the share of nuclear power in the country’s overall energy mix from currently 30 to 40 percent.
Still, South Koreans are becoming increasingly skeptical about nuclear energy – and not just because of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. In 2012 and 2013, a scandal related to the use of fake safety certificates rocked the country’s nuclear industry lobby. State-owned (KHNP) had thousands of small components featuring falsified certificates fitted into the country’s nuclear plants. As it turns out, large amounts of bribe money changed hands between KHNP employees, construction firms and politicians.
This led not only to Korean media speaking of a “nuclear mafia,” but also to a massive drop in the approval ratings for nuclear energy – from 70 percent before the Fukushima disaster to 35 percent. In spite of this, Seoul is sticking to its plans to expand the use of nuclear power in the East Asian country.
Southeast Asia pigeonholes nuclear plans
In Southeast Asia, the production of nuclear energy is a hotly debated issue. For instance, while Vietnam wants Russian assistance to build eight nuclear plants, Hanoi has yet to make a final decision. Thailand is planning to build five reactors, whereas Malaysia and the Philippines each want a nuclear reactor to go online.
However, it’s unclear whether such plans will ever see the light of day. “It will be very difficult to find people willing to invest billions of dollars in this area, especially given the likelihood of another accident taking place in another part of the world,” said Greenpeace nuclear expert Smital.
“The costs related to the production of nuclear energy are only likely to increase, whereas renewable energy is becoming increasingly affordable. This is why the free market can only barely manage to finance nuclear plants at the moment,” Smital added.
Houston, Texas – Not wanting to be outdone by neighbor Vietnam, the Philippines has asserted that it will slot in “nuclear option” in its bid to re-balance its power mix in the future.
“We are working on 30-30-30 fuel mix, so there’s a balance of 10 percent and that we are looking for nuclear as still an option because it’s a low carbon technology,” Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada has shared to global energy stakeholders during the IHS-CERA Week in this energy-rich state.
The “30-30-30 rule” refers to the share of technologies in the propounded energy mix for the Philippines – ideally, to be distributed evenly to coal, renewable energy, and gas resources plus other technologies.
Vietnam, for its part, noted that it will already firm up its “nuclear ambition” around 2018 with targeted commercial operation around 2021 to 2023. Manifestly, for many power markets in the world, “nuclear renaissance” is not dead even after the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
For the Philippines though, the planning and investment horizon for it could be a little longer – as nuclear is already set as an “option technology” further into the future – or within the planning period stretching to year 2030.
“Some of the technologies we are exploring is modular nuclear power facility, but I understand it is not commercially viable yet, but we are open to the nuclear option and to building capacity,” Monsada stressed.
The biggest challenge for the Philippines later on will be rebalancing its power mix, with many of the power plant developments now leaning on coal technologies. As far as nuclear is concerned, Monsada said one of the biggest puzzles is whether or not there would still be a chance for the idled Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) to be brought back into operation.
“That plant that has been inspected again by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and by Korea looking at the possibility of operating it again, it can be operated but there has to be rehabilitation and it would take 2 to 4 years,” the energy secretary said.
Notably, based on the experience of other countries, the gestation period for nuclear power development could take 10 to 25 years – from site selection to managing public dissent up to actual project construction.
For markets that are roughly starting from scratch again like the Philippines, it will need to prepare and develop the skills and knowledge of its workforce; as well as craft the policy and regulation frameworks for such technology deployment.
As emphasized, expertise in the operation of nuclear power facilities would be a key domain that must be given attention because mere ‘human error’ could trigger detrimental level of radiation leaks.
And following the Fukushima tragedy of 2011, energy markets have also grown wary of the needed technology improvements so nuclear facilities could withstand risks of extreme natural disasters.
By Michael Del Callar | GMA News Online
United Nations nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano on Monday said his agency is ready to assist the Philippines should it decide to revive the long-mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
Speaking at a press conference at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Amano said the last few years have seen an increasing number of countries, particularly in Asia, turning to nuclear power for energy even when the Fukushima nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan had a scary meltdown after the facility was damaged by a monstrous earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
And if the Philippines decides to follow suit, Amano said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is prepared to help the country in its efforts to revive the facility.
“I don’t interfere in the decision of each country, but each country has preference. But if you decide (to re-open it) we are ready to help,” Amano said.
The IAEA chief is in Manila for the country’s 3rd Nuclear Congress, a multi-sectoral meeting that makes an assessment of the strides achieved by the Philippines in using nuclear energy and the challenges that the country is facing. While in Manila, Amano met with Philippine officials, including Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.
The Fukushima disaster has prompted some countries worldwide to reconsider plans to build more nuclear power facilities. But with growing uncertainties over oil supply, more states may opt to embrace nuclear power to ensure energy stability.
Using nuclear power instead of coal fire power plants, he said, is not only economical, but could help reduce the disastrous effects of climate change on the planet.
“After the Fukushima incident, some believe that that’s the end of nuclear power. That is not the case,” Amano said.
After the incident, Amano said the IAEA organized a conference and its concluding report revealed that the problem with Fukushima lies in its lack of preparedness for a severe natural hazard.
Nuclear power plants around the world since then are much more strengthened, he noted.
Read the full story:
By: Alena Mae S. Flores
Manila Standard Today
“Petilla said nuclear “is one of the possible resource” that could help secure the country’s power needs and assured that nuclear would be given “a level playing field” in determining its viability as a fuel source.”
The Energy Department is pushing for the creation of a nuclear regulatory body that will decide on the fate of the mothballed 620-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said he wanted the body to decide on whether the Bataan nuclear facility should be revived.
“I don’t want to decide on it. We must have a nuclear regulatory body to decide on it because this is a very sensitive issue,” Petilla told reporters.
He said the proposed body would not only address the safety concerns, but also the cost of rehabilitating the facility estimated at $400 million to $600 million “because the structures are older.”
“No one will sell uranium to us if we have no nuclear body. This is a big task,” Petilla said.
Read the full story:
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said Monday, April 20, that he is pushing for a nuclear regulatory body to review the feasibility of reviving the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).“I don’t want to decide on it. We must have a nuclear regulatory body to decide on it because this is a very sensitive issue,” Petilla said. The body will also address the safety concerns raised by various sectors against the revival of the power facility. “No one will sell uranium to us if we have no nuclear body. This is a big task,” Petilla added.
Also, it will take $400 to $600 million to revive the facility.“The structures are older,” Petilla said. The $2.3 billion nuclear power plant was built between 1976 and 1984 on a 357-hectare government reservation at Napot Point, Morong, Bataan. The property where BNPP is located is owned by the Department of Finance, not DOE.
Talks on BNPP’s revival started in 2014 when Petilla said the BNPP, which has a 600-megawatt (MW) capacity, could help ease the country’s power supply problems. But Petilla stressed then that the DOE is not reviving the BNPP facility. The Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) expressed interest to put up a 600MW coal-fired power plant besides BNPP. Petilla said he is allowing this, provided that the proposed power facility should not be put up anywhere near the BNPP. Converting the mothballed facility into a coal plant was also considered.
“But not to the point that it would kill the viability of the BNPP before it is actually concluded,” Petilla said.