Friday, June 03, 2011

The Romantic Illusion

IgnalinaNPP Energy sources like nuclear, thermal and fuel power projects are the only way to meet India's commercial energy needs, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said here today.It will be a "romantic illusion" that India, with 1.2 billion people can meet energy requirements through biogas, Ramesh said in an indirect reply to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner.

I don’t have much to say about this – Ramesh is right, but it’s not a unique thought - we’ve seen variations of it everywhere - including numerous times on this blog.

But how not to appreciate a government figure who uses a phrase like “romantic illusion” to describe arguments against the importance of nuclear energy.

“Wind alone can provide America’s electricity.”

“A romantic illusion, surely, dear Sebastian.”

See? Elegant, kindly, to the point.

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Lithuania is shopping:

Lithuania received bids from Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Japan’s Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd. to build a nuclear power plant after shutting the Soviet-era Ignalina facility at the end of 2009.

The government will select the winning bidder this summer as it seeks to replace Ignalina, which the European Union ordered to be closed because of its similar design to the Chernobyl reactor that exploded in 1986, the Vilnius-based Energy Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today.

Closing Ignalina pushed up energy costs, as Lithuania had to turn to Russia for natural gas. That kind of result leads to certain – warm – feelings for the atom.

Lithuanian support for nuclear energy has remained high after the Ignalina closure pushed up energy costs and increased dependence on Russian energy.

Anytime Russia enters the eastern European energy picture, it conjures up the specter of it turning off the gas spigot if it gets annoyed – as it did to Ukraine and its neighbors a couple of winters ago. That’s energy security writ large and with crayon – no one wants anything similar happening to them.

But why nuclear?

“For Lithuania and the whole region it is important to have independent capacity to generate electricity,” Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius told a news conference today. “Different countries have different solutions to these issues.”

So there. No romantic illusions in Lithuania.

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Here is Austrian environment minister Nikolaus Berlakovich vis a vis Germany:

"This decision by a highly industrialised country will have a very strong signal effect. It shows that scrapping nuclear power is both possible and feasible," he said.

Possible, perhaps – feasible, perhaps not.

The romantic illusion, Vienna-style. Keep the phrase at the ready – it seems usable in so many different circumstances.

Ignalina. It even looks like a Soviet remnant.

1 comment:

SteveK9 said...

If by 'scrapping nuclear power' he means importing electricity from nuclear plants in France, the Czech Republic, etc. then yes, it is feasible.