December 10, 2010
Emerging Economies Reassert Commitment to Nuclear Power
For the emerging economies, overcoming poverty and insecurity of supply remain the overriding priorities of energy policy. As the New York Times reports:
The Japanese disaster has led some energy officials in the United States and in industrialized European nations to think twice about nuclear expansion. And if a huge release of radiation worsens the crisis, even big developing nations might reconsider their ambitious plans. But for now, while acknowledging the need for safety, they say their unmet energy needs give them little choice but to continue investing in nuclear power.
Nearly half a billion of India's 1.2 billion citizens continue to live in energy poverty. According to the Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, Srikumar Banerjee, "ours is a very power-hungry country. It is essential for us to have further electricity generation."
The Chinese have cited similar concerns in sticking to their major expansion plans of its nuclear energy sector. At its current GDP growth, China's electricity demands rise an average of 12 percent per year.
Other regions that have reiterated their plans to stick to nuclear energy are Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The Prime Minister of Poland, the fastest growing country in the EU, has said that "fears of a nuclear disaster in Japan following last Friday's earthquake and tsunami would not disturb Poland's own plans to develop two nuclear plants."
Russia and the Czech Republic have also restated their commitment to further nuclear development, while the Times reports that "across the Middle East, countries have been racing to build up nuclear power, as a growth and population boom has created unprecedented demand for energy." The United Arab Emirates is building four plants that will generate roughly a quarter of its power by 2020.
Citing statistics from the World Nuclear Association, the Times observes that the "world's stock of 443 nuclear reactors could more than double in the next 15 years." So much for the end of the nuclear renaissance! Once again, the Japanese nuclear crisis demonstrates the vast chasm in political priorities between the developing world and the post-material West.
Read about the European response to the Fukushima incident here.