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20.09.2012

LONDON-2012 Nuclear energy has no substitution



«BACK TO BUSINESS» - this was the motto of the Conference of the World Nuclear Association held in London this mid-September. This is the biggest annual forum of the nuclear industry, and the majority of energy companies-suppliers of reactors and NPP equipment as well as fuel companies, from uranium extracting through waste management ones, try not to miss it for the world. This is a major and the most recognized symposium for the entire nuclear industry, some sort of the World Energy Council for it. More than 700 industry’s leaders from 30 countries visited the forum this year.
This is a forum of the nuclear industry, where the participants share expertise, both achievements and problems, discuss in the working groups the issues requiring common solutions, make deals, discuss contracts and agree about further cooperation.
It would be wrong to tell that the nuclear industry development is cloudless. There are risks, specifically, safety issues after the Fukushima accident, gas price decrease and discover of shale gas deposits. But nowadays there is an understanding that the nuclear energy has no substitution. Despite the unquestionable progress of the renewable sources of energy neither solar nor wind energy able to substitute the traditional operating 24 hours a day generation, both the sun and wind depend on weather, season and time of the day. And the optimistic gas price forecasts are nothing but guesses, which, as is well-known, more often tend to fail.
And the international community adequately responds to the necessity to satisfy the energy demand. If we compare the “pre-Fukushima” plans, we are going to see that the expectations have insignificantly declined. Given that before Fukushima the nuclear power generation plans equaled to 515GW by 2020 and 653GW by 2030, after that accident 640GW are to be put into operation by 2020 and 588GW - by 2030. The Saudi Arabia is planning to build around 16 NPP units, the South Africa ЮАР – 8 units, the NPP construction will go on in the UAE, UK, China, India, Finland, Hungary, Brazil, Belorussia, Vietnam, Jordan, the bid is underway for supplier selection in the Check Republic; the US, Russia, France, Finland, China, India, Ukraine are building the NPPs. And this is not the complete list of countries, which did not change their attitude toward the nuclear energy. Now 65 NPP units are being constructed in 14 countries.
But there are countries, which renounced to develop the nuclear power industry. Among them there is Germany, where the premature decommissioning of the NPPs by 2020 will cost almost 37 bln. Euros, Italy having one of the highest electric power price and importing the power from neighboring France, where the power is generated at the nuclear power stations, Belgium, where the nuclear power stations generate the half of all power, Switzerland, which receives 40 per cent of its electric power from the NPPs. Their nuclear energy rejection is probably connected with development of the European Program of Renewable Energy Sources.
Japan did not reject the atomic energy. Its Government made a decision on September 19 about decreasing the nuclear energy dependence but the total refusal to use the NPPs by 2030, as it was earlier stated, is not the object. The authorities have renounced to establish specific restrictions on nuclear generation within a specific timeframe and foresaw the possibility to modify parameters of the energy strategy in the future. Mr. Yukio Edano, Minister for Economics, Trade and Industry, has declared that Japan was not intending to reconsider the projects of the NPPs, which construction was underway, and would let to complete the power units to be built. According to the Minister, prior to putting the plants into operation, they will be tested for safety. Now a new Japan Supervisory Agency will be responsible for this. It began its operation on September 19. Currently three nuclear power units are being built in Japan.
NPP safety always was the top priority. Following Fukushima accident, the NPPs have passed the so-called stress tests, which demonstrated the level of NPP’ safety, which is meticulously controlled by independent regulatory agencies. NPPs of the new generation (3+) are safer than Fukushima NPP, which belongs to the first generation of reactors.
In this connection one of the most interesting speeches at the London Forum was probably the report of the former Vice-President of the known TEPCO Company, Director of the Atomic Energy Block, Mr. Sakae Muto, who talked about the lessons, learned after the tragedy at Fukushima NPP. And the irrational fear of nuclear disaster does not take into consideration that the fatality ratio per one kWh of generated energy at the coal-fired power plants is significantly higher than at the nuclear power plant, and the share of CO2 emission is about 50 per cent of all pollutants. It was cited by Mr. Mark Lynas, militant ecologist.
Besides the traditional suppliers, French AREVA, US Westinghouse and Russian Rosatom, Korean companies are actively entering the market. China is completing development and ready to introduce power units with reactors of the third generation, and they will be the intellectual property of Chinese companies. Mr. Li Syaomin, assistant to the President of China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC), has stated that. He particularly said that the project for construction of power unit #3 of Fanchengan NPP, based on the upgraded version of ACPR1000 (ACPR1000+) reactor, was to begin in 2014, and the building of the first reactor CAP1400 at Shidaovan NPP would start next year.
Construction of NPP in Turkey took a great interest at the Forum. The construction license for the first NPP there is to be obtained in the end of 2014. Mr. Alexander Superfin, Chief Executive Officer of Akkuyu NPP, stated that within the framework of the Forum. He added that the project was being implemented under the schedule: the engineering surveys would be completed within the next month and a half, and then the “intensive processing” of all received findings would start in order to incorporate them into the EIA Report».
The annual 37th Symposium of the World Nuclear Association lasted three days. It was enough for the representatives of the biggest corporation of the nuclear industry to synchronize their watches and continue development of their directions as to meet each other and exchange the results obtained in a year.

Ivan Yarocis
European Media Academy
Brussels, Belgium