Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Collective Will to Survive

500px-Metsamor-DCP_6657 Europe has a plan for used nuclear fuel:

EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger has urged member states to bury radioactive nuclear waste, saying burial is the safest form of disposal.

The draft directive on nuclear waste says geographical storage is "the safest and most sustainable" option for disposing of spent fuel.

The U.S. is currently working on the issue of used nuclear fuel via the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, which is due to report its findings late next year.

Santiago San Antonio, director general of Foratom, the Brussels-based organization that represents the European nuclear energy industry, points out in the article that used nuclear fuel is already safely handled and adds:

"We are particularly pleased that the directive acknowledges the fact that there is a world-wide scientific and technical consensus that deep geological disposal of high-level waste which has been proven by over 30 years of research, represents the safest and most sustainable option."

Safest and most sustainable might be open to some debate but safe and sustainable? No debate there.

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Armenia and UAE?

The UAE is interested in cooperation with Armenia in nuclear energy, Foreign Trade Minister Sheikha Lubna al Qasimi said in Yerevan.

This decision appeared to be unexpected for the Armenian side. Head of the Armenian Development Agency Robert Harutunyan said that he is not aware of the details but supposes that the point is scientific and technical cooperation in nuclear energy.

As happens, Armenia has a nuclear energy plant planned, but still, this just qualifies as – odd.

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The Philippines has opened the Nuclear Power Forum Philippines 2010. The country has a practical need for more electricity (“rotating 3-hour outages in Metro Manila, the country’s political and economic centre,”), so the road forward is clear enough:

Accordingly, the Philippine Energy Plan 2007-2014 indicates room for the existing Bataan Nuclear Power Plant as well as four more nuclear plants, the earliest to be commissioned by 2015.

And to hear the Filipinos tell it, the response has been terrific:

Investor interest is pouring in. “We’re overwhelmed by the response, in a really good way,” explains Frank Mercado, Director at the Center for Energy Sustainability and Economics, the forum host. “Indeed Southeast Asia is now an important emerging market for the nuclear industry worldwide.”

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Over at the Guardian, the often interesting if sometimes moonbatty English newspaper, a feature allows readers to post tough energy questions to a panel of experts. Nuclear energy does not usually get a very fair hearing at The Guardian, but I found an answer to a question about used nuclear fuel rather charming and on point, though not about used nuclear fuel.

Tanzania’s Pius Yasebasi Ng'wandu does not have a nuclear energy background; he was his country’s Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education. In most particulars, Ng’wandu probably should not have answered the question – he just doesn’t know enough about the subject.

But he does say this:

We must move away from the self inflicted fear of nuclear energy. Let us combine knowledge, technology and the collective will to survive. Fifty years after President Eisenhower's speech on "atoms for peace", we must build the will to tame these atoms for peace and development.

I think the atoms have been sufficiently tamed, but there’s no doubting the sentiment. Ng’wandu is a policymaker, so he’s clearly focused on the potential of nuclear energy in his country and continent.

Off in the distance. Armenia’s Metsamore Armenian Nuclear Power Plant. Armenia planned to shut it down in 2004, but decided against it when it could not find a way to replace the 40% of the country’s electricity generation supplied by the plant.

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