Policies & Politics
7 Aug (NucNet): The consequences of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident on regulatory processes and safety standards are unlikely to entail additional costs that would result in the continued commercial operation of nuclear plants becoming uneconomic, a conference has heard.
Jean-Pol Poncelet, director-general of the Brussels-based nuclear energy industry group Foratom, told the International Youth Nuclear Congress (IYNC) in the US that “the benefits of nuclear power should prevail” when it comes to future energy choices, but “we do have to reopen the case of public support”.
Mr Poncelet said the nuclear industry needs to redefine “how and what we communicate, listening as well as providing information”.
He said historically, the nuclear industry had been very bad at communicating, preferring secrecy and dissimulation over openness and transparency.
In the age of the internet and 24-hour rolling news, the industry needs to reconsider the way it communicates, including real-time communication in the event of an accident.
On the subject of jobs in the nuclear sector, Mr Poncelet said that during the next decade the bulk of industrial operations in the nuclear industry will directly result from the recent stress tests carried out following Fukushima-Daiichi, complemented by the first step of long-term operation (LTO) programmes.
He said: “We estimate the investment budget needed to support these activities at about 10 billion euro (12.4 billion US dollars) and we anticipate this will create roughly 10,000 new jobs.”
A second step, completing the LTO programmes during the next 20 years, will require an annual investment of about 4.5 billion euro, while from 2025-2045, industrial activities will “progressively switch from LTO to new build”.
He said the industry could deliver 100 new nuclear units at a cost of about 25 billion euro a year in investment, which would require about 250,000 new workers.
Plant decommissioning and waste management will require an annual investment of three to five billion euro and the need for about 30,000 new jobs.
On the 2050 EU Energy Roadmap, Mr Poncelet said it is “too driven” by the climate change agenda and addressing competitiveness and security of supply issues is crucial for achieving decarbonisation of the economy.
He said nuclear provides electricity at low levelised costs compared to the other technologies and when no political barrier is imposed, the nuclear share remains important in the power mix precisely because of its competitiveness.
IYNC 2012 is being held in Charlotte, North Carolina, until 11 August. For details see www.iync.org.
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