Fri Feb 23rd, 2007 at 04:30:36 PM EST
(I haven't been diligent about crossposting here, but I wanted to be sure to crosspost my most recent post at DailyKos, because it is is European in focus. The original with poll can be found Here. The poll is in the original.)
Not so long ago, it was very fashionable in Europe to be anti-nuclear. Countries whose governments announced either "nuclear phase outs" or "moratoriums" on new nuclear construction include Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
In addition Norway and Denmark have declared that they will not allow nuclear capacity.
Interestingly Norway, which until recently was really powered 100% by renewable energy (hydroelectric) has just built its first fossil fuel powered electrical plant.
Only one country, Italy, had nuclear power and shut all of its plants. (It is ironic that the first man to build a nuclear reactor was an Italian, Enrico Fermi.)
Decisions about a national anti-nuclear policy always involve the participation of Greenpeace, Greenpeace being an international religious cult that, much as certain religious sects deny evolution, denies that the only alternative to nuclear power is to burn more fossil fuels.
There is always a vast amount of discussion of the wonders of renewable energy accompanying the "nuclear phase out" mantra, in spite of the fact that it is immediately obvious that the "solar, wind, blah, blah, blah..." praying always omits reference to the fact "solar, wind, blah, blah, blah," (with the exception of things that burn and geothermal) is obviously intermittent, while nuclear is continuous.
Now, speaking only for myself, I find it unsurprising that prayer does not affect physical events. If you release a lead weight you are holding, it is my opinion that it will always fall no matter how much you pray for it to rise. Similarly when you shut down nuclear power, it is always the case that the shutting party begins to burn more fossil fuels to replace the nuclear power. The recitation of 50 expiatory "Hail Solars" and 25 "Our Winds" will not change this fact.
Thus we see that the latest "nuclear phase out," the German one, supervised by a new member of the board of directors of Gazprom - the Russian natural gas consortium - has resulted in new German plants for expanded coal capacity and expanded natural gas imports. (The member of the Board of Directors of Gazprom is none other than Gerhard Schroeder.)
The result of these new German fossil fuel plants will be to dump dangerous fossil fuel waste indiscriminately into the atmosphere, the most dangerous of these dangerous wastes being carbon dioxide.
But the Germans aren't there yet. Big nuclear plants still run in Germany.
Italy however, the only country that actually acted on its policy has no such luck. Italy depends overwhelmingly on fossil fuels and suffers from the highest electricity rates in Europe and, of course, dumps tremendous amounts of dangerous fossil fuel waste into the atmosphere.
Talk in Italy of reopening the shut nuclear plants in Italy has been dead ended by the plants owners who say that the plants were obviously not maintained and that any way, all of the expertise for running the plants is gone.
The Italians, unlike the Dutch, unlike the Swiss, unlike the Swedes, but like the Germans, has not reversed its official anti-nuclear policy, but they are very actively mulling the matter over. A few days ago the Italian Foreign Minister moderated a pro-nuclear discussion. For the short term, in a classic case of NIMBY run wild, the Italians have been begging the French - who never even thought of a "nuclear phase out" to let them help build the new French nuclear plant at Flamanville. (Italy also buys a considerable amount of Slovenian nuclear power.)
Initially EDF, the French nuclear utility agreed to let Enel, the Italian utility participate. In this way the Italians hoped to rebuild some expertise that was lost with the shutting of the Italian nuclear plants.
Well, the French changed their minds:
Electricité de France (EdF) has said it will take all the output from the forthcoming Flamanville 3 reactor, going back on an understanding to supply 12.5% of the power to Italy's largest utility, Enel.
In May 2005 chiefs from EdF and Enel met in Rome to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to the effect that Enel would participate in the Flamanville 3 project and take 200 MWe of the unit's 1600 MWe output. Furthermore, Enel would participate in the design, construction and operation of the unit, and have the opportunity to exercise the same involvement in the next six such reactors built in France. At the time, Enel CEO Fulvio Conti said: "This agreement... will enable us to recover our skills in nuclear energy with a project that puts us at the cutting edge of technology."
However, EdF CEO Pierre Gadonneix recently said that EdF would take Flamanville 3's entire output and that the project represents an opportunity for France and EdF to renew its skills for export to other countries...
Italy's Enel Disappointment.
It is important to keep in mind that nuclear technology depends on intellectual expertise and experience. Maybe someone should gently break this to the Germans before it is too late.