Professor Gordon MacKerron, SPRU, University of Sussex
The conference agenda asks, among other things, where Europe will get its long-term energy supplies, and from which technologies. For some five years now, there has been an expectation of a ‘renaissance’ in nuclear power. There is a degree of reality in this renaissance in parts of Asia, especially, at least until the last year, in China. But this paper asks how far such a renaissance may be expected in Europe, after considering the ‘backwash’ effects of the Fukushima accident as well as the underlying economic and financial issues.
For this purpose the paper will consider separately the ‘western’ European countries and the countries formerly under Soviet influence. In the former, there have been move towards liberalisation in electricity industries, which – all else equal – tends to introduce obstacles to financing nuclear power, as financial risks are shifted upstream to investors. In the ‘eastern’ countries, liberalisation is sometimes less advanced and there is, in their political culture, a stronger pre-disposition to nuclear power than in western countries. These favourable factors make a revival of nuclear power more likely but financing obstacles remain, and will be evaluated.
In addition, long-term political factors affecting the further diffusion of nuclear power will be considered, to include Fukushima implications, but also the declining commitments to reprocessing spent fuel (which generally assists the cause of nuclear investment) and the extent to which waste issues may be successfully managed across Europe (where continuing difficulties in constructing political consent may hamper nuclear’s prospects.)
Finally brief consideration will be given to the case of the UK, considering both the economic/financing issues and the politics – where in the latter case, the abandonment of reprocessing may be helpful, but the resulting need to store spent fuel at reactor sites for long periods may have the opposite effect. The overall conclusion of the paper will be that the renaissance in Europe will be patchy and highly variable
(Please note that this proposed paper might also fit the ‘financing investments’ parallel session)A-nuclear-renaissance-for-Europe.pdf 391.83 KBnuclear-renaissance-for-Europe_.pdf 97.54 KB