On April 26, 1986 the Chernobly disaster released radiation across Ukraine, Russia and into Europe. It was turning point for the anti-nuclear movement. 31 years later, is nuclear power becoming a thing of the past? Nuclear power plants used to be lucrative. But now, many are old and frail. Repair costs often mean they cannot turn a profit. Swiss energy corporation Alpiq recently tried to give away two of its old plants, 33 and 38 years old, to French energy company EDF – which declined the offer. Across the EU and Switzerland 132 nuclear reactors are still online. They were designed to operate for 30 to 35 years – their average age is now 32 years. Malfunctions and security issues are frequently detected and protestors are increasingly calling for plants to be shut down.
Deutsche Welle 26th April 2017 read more »
So is nuclear energy likely to be a part of our future? It depends. In China and India, where public opinion plays less of a role in governmental decision-making, officials are aggressively expanding their nuclear output with new, safer, third-generation reactors. China aims to have more than 58 nuclear plants by 2020, while India has a total of 21 reactors with more than 20 further units planned. “If it’s government policy to deploy nuclear power, then it’s going to be built,” says Muellner. But in the West, it’s not looking good for nuclear energy. A heady combination of high upfront costs, stringent safety regulations, difficulties in getting financing, unpopularity with the public, risk of weapons proliferation and rapid development of competing renewables means that building new plants is almost impossible. Nuclear power is getting squeezed out of the picture by alternative energy technologies that are cheaper, simpler and not so politically toxic. “Basically, everything is tilted in the favour of its [nuclear’s] competitors,” Caldecott says. “And that tilt will just get steeper and steeper.”
Science Focus 26th April 2017 read more »