Although it is a long way from becoming a reality, pundits are already predicting a “nuclear renaissance” in America for the first time in 30 years, even as plans for new plants take shape around the world.
A New Jersey company has filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to built two nuclear power plants in Texas, and the NRC expects to receive applications to build 28 more reactors in the next 15 months, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
The traditional arguments against nuclear energy — that it is dangerous, costly, offers terrorist attack targets and creates radioactive waste — have not changed.
What has changed is the fact that the U.S. government is offering to guarantee investors against loan defaults, and the potential of nuclear power as an energy source with low greenhouse gas emissions.
Given the history of nuclear power plants in the U.S. — many of which were never built, at huge cost overruns, after the Three Mile Island meltdown — many experts predict taxpayers will have to pay up when companies default on their loans.
The industry already benefits from $9 billion a year in subsidies.
The British government is also keen to add nuclear power plants to the region’s energy portfolio, and is holding public “consultations” to see how citizens are responding to the idea, according to the Telegraph
(Greenpeace and other groups have boycotted, calling the process a “sham.”)
It’s not clear how soon any plants could be built — the earliest estimate is 2020 — considering the expense and the fact that most of the engineering and construction know-how lies not in Britain, but in France.
France, the world’s nuclear energy leader, is also poised to sign a contract to build a new plant in China, where plans are afoot to build 88 new nuclear plants, reports the Telegraph.
France also has nuclear ambitions in Canada, reports CanWest News Service.
French nuclear giant Areva would like to locate a power plant in Whitecourt, Alberta, whose mayor welcomed the idea.
Now all the company needs for its proposed $6.2 billion is a buyer for the energy.
“EDF of France to help build Chinese nuclear plant”
Times of India, September 23, 2007
“French nuclear firm courting Alberta town”
CanWest News Service, September 25, 2007
“Decision day looms for Britain’s nuclear future”
Telegraph (U.K.), September 27, 2007
“Nuclear power surge coming”
Christian Science Monitor, September 28, 2007