Energy & Capital says that nuclear will be the energy staple for decades to come.

So you think the disaster at Fukushima has nuclear energy on the ropes in the energy heavyweight title bout…

You say this is the event that finally changed global opinion. You point to Germany and its plan to close all nuclear power plants by 2022…

And you sound like an optimistic young child.

The truth is the events in Japan didn’t deliver a death knell.

To the contrary, they inspired a new dedication to build safer, more sustainable nuclear plants.

There are 441 nuclear reactors in the world. Germany’s 17 gives them 3.8% of the world total — hardly industry-ending stuff…There are currently 60 reactors being built worldwide, none of which have been canceled as a result of Fukushima…that’s enough to offset Germany’s eventual loss 3.5 times over.

 

Another aspect in defence of nuclear is its safety record relative to fossil fuels like oil and coal as well as renewables like hydro and roof top solar.   When it comes to deaths per energy output, nuclear far outdistances the back-up energy sources it is replacing.    (See the data here.) The chart below vividly illustrates the author’s contention.

 

 

On July 12th the International Energy Agency (IEA) told the European Parliament’s Industry, Energy and Research Committee that a complete phase-out of nuclear power would create enormous risks for Europe’s energy security.  The IEA further pointed out that the debate over nuclear energy was confined to the OECD countries and that it was not an issue in the developing world.

In new projections (for Europe), named the ‘New Policy Scenario’, the IEA estimates that to replace nuclear power, roughly one-third of the gap will be filled by increasing production from coal, another third from gas, and the rest from renewable sources. In a startling comparison, Mr. Tanaka pointed out that this would require an increase of 130 million tons of coal (around the size of Australia’s current production), 80 billion cubic metres of natural gas (roughly Qatar’s production level), and 160 terrawatt-hours from renewables (five times Germany’s current output). Taking into consideration the increasing prices of the first two sources, with renewable energy already being very expensive, electricity costs are set to rise. In essence, a complete phase-out of nuclear power would create enormous risks for Europe’s energy security.

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