Skip to main content

France and Loans, Sweden and Polls

OB-HT929_sarkoz_D_20100308083305 French President Nicholas Sarkozy wants you to know:

I do not understand why international financial institutions and development banks do not finance civil nuclear energy projects," Mr. Sarkozy said. "The current situation means that countries are condemned to rely on more costly energy that causes greater pollution."

So true. And happily, Sarkozy’s in a position to do something about it:

The French president said he would propose to change that situation. "The World Bank, the EBRD [European Bank for Reconstruction and Development] and the other development banks must make a wholehearted commitment to finance such projects," he said.

France knows its beans when it comes to nuclear energy, since it generates 80% of its electricity that way. So Sarkozy might be able to get the ball rolling here – of course, tight lending remains the watchword all over, but perhaps the European Union would benefit from American-style loan guarantees.

---

This caught us by surprise:

Separately, Mr. Sarkozy said he wants to boost nuclear expertise through expanding training opportunities. "I have decided to step up our efforts by creating an International Nuclear Energy Institute that will include an International Nuclear Energy School," Mr. Sarkozy said.

The iNEI may sound like an Apple-branded nuclear plant but color us flattered.

---

Who would most want to use Sweden as a nuclear poster child, the nuclear energy industry or groups that dislike nuclear energy. Sweden gets a bit under half of its electricity from the atom, so it isn’t quite as entrenched there as in France, and the country has only recently turned away a ban on new construction – although new reactors can only be built on existing sites. (The ban was by referendum, so nuclear became very unpopular, in this instance in the shadow of Chernobyl.)

So a new poll provides at least a few answers:

The poll showed that 52% of Swedes support the continued use of nuclear energy, 30% support the replacement of Sweden's current fleet of power reactors when they have reached the end of their operating lives and 22% think that additional new reactors should be built.

So – a mixed bag, with nuclear just over the magic 50% number. To nuclear advocates, this can only be construed as a net good, as it shows a strong rebound after what must have been notable disapproval when the ban passed in 1980.

The rest needs more numbers and slightly better explication (or we’d need to speak Swedish better to parse it ourselves). As is, we’re not sure the second two numbers are subsets of the 52%. They wouldn’t seem so, but they add together right.

SKGS president Kenneth Eriksson commented, "Although the study was conducted at a time when nuclear power was challenged, following disruptions and high electricity prices, support for nuclear power is strong." He added, "It is reasonable to assume that the support would have been even higher in a more normal year."

If so, perhaps the 2011 poll will show better numbers – but, frankly, we wouldn’t expect Eriksson to say anything different about this one, and his words do suggest disappointment. “Nuclear energy - disruptions and high electricity prices” is not a very good slogan and may not be – is even likely not to be – due to nuclear energy.  (We doubt it could get to 52% in that case.)

The conclusion? Sweden may not be the best go-to place to prove one thing or another, at least from a PR point-of-view. Nuclear energy has majority support and Swedes want to go forward with it, but after that, it’s hard to interpret the tepid numbers except perhaps as soft support. Eriksson might be onto something, though, so it may be worth tabling the discussion until next year to see where the trend goes.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …