Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Stronger Future for Nuclear Power - Physics Today February 2006

Stronger Future for Nuclear Power - Physics Today February 2006: "Lyman"

Nuclear reactor builders are jostling for business as energy utilities take another look at nuclear power.

Finland's new nuclear power plantSome two dozen power plants are scheduled to be built or refurbished during the next five years in Canada, China, several European Union countries, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and South Africa. In the US and the UK, governmental preparations are under way that may lead to 15 new reactor orders by 2007.
About 16% of the world's electricity supply comes from nuclear power, and energy demand is increasing (see PHYSICS TODAY, April 2002, page 54). Worldwide, nearly 80% of the 441 commercial nuclear reactors currently in operation are more than 15 years old. To maintain nuclear power's position in the overall energy mix, new reactors will have to replace decommissioned ones, says a report from the Paris-based International Energy Agency.
The new interest in civilian nuclear energy results from some heavy lobbying by groups involved in building reactors, says Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and from attempts to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs adds that there are also increasing concerns about energy security, particularly in light of the recent disruption of Russian gas supplies in Europe.
Most of the new reactor designs are third-generation pressurized-water reactors (PWR), although companies in China, France, and South Africa are looking to build a fourth-generation design called a gas-pebble-bed reactor (PBMR). The new reactors are supposed to be inexpensive to build, more powerful, and safer; and they can be operated for up to 60 years, according to nuclear-power trade groups.
The international view
Late last year, officials from Bruce Power, one of Canada's largest power companies, announced a Can$4.25 billion (US$3.6 billion) investment to rebuild two reactors that have stood idle for nearly 10 years on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, north of Kincardine, Ontario. Last December, the Ontario Power Authority proposed plans to build 12 new nuclear plants to help phase out Ontario's coal-fired power stations.
New 1600-MW European PWRs are being built, one in Finland and one in France, with respective power-up dates of 2008 and 2012. On 5 January, France's president, Jacques Chirac, announced plans for an expansion of renewable and nuclear energy sources for France, including a PBMR by 2020. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to announce this spring six to eight new reactors in the UK.
Russia is currently constructing several reactors, including an 800-MW fast neutron reactor, but financial difficulties may delay four of them, says the London-based World Nuclear Association. Iran is building two Russian-designed reactors, the first of which should go on line later this year. The first South African PBMR is set to be completed in 2012.
Nuclear-industry officials have long said that the majority of growth would come in Asia. Japan is building five new power plants by 2010, and China plans to build 30 nuclear reactors, based on domestic designs, by 2020. China also sees nuclear technology as a major export opportunity, say industry analysts, and is building its second of four power plants for Pakistan, which may lead to a larger order. India has nine power plants under construction, including a fast-breeder reactor that generates its own fuel.
Six countries—Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, the Czech Republic, and Turkey—may build two to five PWRs each, while Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland are now reevaluating plans to phase-out nuclear power.
US moves
The US nuclear power industry has been virtually frozen since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, but in the US Congress 2005 energy bill, tax credits worth $3.1 billion, along with liability protection and compensation for legislative delays, were added for the industry. On 30 December 2005, for the first time in years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) certified the design of a new reactor—the 1000-MW Westinghouse advanced passive (AP) reactor.
Six US power-plant operators are preparing combined construction and operating license (COL) requests to the NRC that could restart construction in the next five years. NuStart Energy, a consortium of nine nuclear energy companies, submitted plans for a General Electric simplified boiling water reactor at the Grand Gulf nuclear station near Port Gibson, Mississippi, and an AP-1000 reactor at the Bellefonte nuclear plant near Scottsboro, Alabama.
Two AP-1000 reactors may be built in the Carolinas by Duke Energy, along with another reactor by Progress Energy. "Preparing this application provides us the option to continue using a diverse fuel mix in the future," says Brew Barron, Duke Energy's chief nuclear officer.
Constellation Energy of Baltimore, Maryland, is in partnership with AREVA, a large French–German engineering firm, to submit COL requests for a European PWR at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant site in southern Maryland and the Nine Mile Point nuclear plant in Oswego, New York. Entergy, another NuStart member, announced it was preparing its own COL request for a new reactor at its River Bend Station power plant in St. Francisville, Louisiana. On 6 December, two electric utilities, Scana Corp and Santee Cooper, filed a letter of intent with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build two new reactors north of Columbia, South Carolina, to meet growing regional power demands.
According to representatives of the electric utilities involved, the US government and the reactor technology suppliers are paying for most of the $150 million the certification process costs. "The utilities are waiting to see if they can get any more subsidies out of the government," says Lyman, "so it's still premature to say if any of them will go ahead." A satisfactory means for disposal of their radioactive waste products has not yet been announced.
But the nuclear power industry believes the first new US order is only two years away. Says NuStart Energy president Marilyn Kray, "Our country needs these advanced nuclear plants."
Paul Guinnessy

Blair issues blunt warning on climate change

Guardian Unlimited Politics Special Reports PM issues blunt warning on climate change

Matt WeaverMonday January 30, 2006

Tony Blair warns that the impact of climate change may be more serious than previously thought in a new government report on global warming published today.
The report raises fears that both the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are likely to melt, leading to a devastating rise in sea levels.
It warns of large-scale and irreversible disruption if temperatures rise by more than 3C (5.4F) - well within the range of climate change projections for the century.

Article continues

Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change is published as a book and collates evidence presented by scientists at a conference hosted by the UK Meteorological Office last February.
The conference predicted that greenhouse gases would raise global temperatures by between 1.4C and 5.8C over this century.
"It is clear from the work presented that the risks of climate change may well be greater than we thought," Mr Blair wrote in the forward to the book.
"It is now plain that the emission of greenhouse gases, associated with industrialisation and economic growth from a world population that has increased six-fold in 200 years, is causing global warming at a rate that is unsustainable."
The book includes concerns expressed by the head of the British Antarctic Survey, Professor Chris Rapley, that the huge West Antarctic ice sheet may be starting to disintegrate.
Scientists believe such an event would raise sea levels around the world by almost 5m (16 ft).
Prof Rapley writes that a previous report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dismissing worries about the ice sheet's stability had to be revised: "The last IPCC report characterised Antarctica as a slumbering giant in terms of climate change. I would say it is now an awakened giant. There is real concern."
The report also warns that the EU may have to adopt tougher climate change targets. It is committed to preventing global temperatures rising by more than 2C, but the report warns that such a rise would trigger the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, prompting the extinction of the polar bear and the walrus.
The environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, said today's report highlighted the "tipping point" beyond which climate change could be expected to become irreversible.
This made it even more urgent to halt the change quickly, and meant that current targets - such as reducing carbon emissions by 60% by the middle of the century - may not be ambitious enough, she said.
"What is disturbing about the Exeter report is that it suggests that what has been a long-term policy framework, maybe even that is something that is going to cause more major difficulties than people imagined," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Mrs Beckett said she hoped to publish the government's climate change strategy - initially pencilled in for last year - in the near future, and certainly by the end of 2006.
She denied that the government had already decided to invest in new nuclear power stations as a way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but said the option had to be considered because of the role it could play in meeting the UK's long-term climate change targets.
"The reason we need to look at it very seriously is that the one thing you can say about nuclear power is that, once you have put in all the energy required to construct the nuclear power stations, it is actually a low-carbon form of energy," she said.
Friends of the Earth called for urgent action to cut greenhouse gases.
"Despite Tony Blair's concerns about climate change, UK emissions have risen under Labour," said FoE's climate change campaigner, Roger Higman.
"He should now support mounting calls for a new law requiring the government to make annual cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, and make Britain a world leader in the development of a low-carbon, nuclear-free economy."

Scotsman.com News - UK - Scientists back nuclear power to help beat global warming

Scotsman.com News - UK - Scientists back nuclear power to help beat global warming

NUCLEAR power must be part of attempts to address global warming, according to a government-sponsored study of climate change.
In an apocalyptic assessment endorsed by Tony Blair, an international group of scientists warned in the study published yesterday that increasing temperatures caused by the greenhouse effect pose a pressing threat to humanity.

"It is clear from the work presented that the risks of climate change may well be greater than we thought," the Prime Minister said of the study, which forecasts the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and a resultant rise in sea-levels of up to 16 feet over the next millennium. In response, the scientists argue, governments must use a wide range of tools, nuclear power included.
The document, Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, brings together evidence presented at a conference hosted by the UK Meteorological Office at Exeter last February. In it, the head of the British Antarctic Survey, Professor Chris Rapley, says the huge West Antarctic Ice Sheet may also be starting to disintegrate. He writes: "The last report characterised Antarctica as a slumbering giant in terms of climate change. I'd say it is now an awakened giant."
The report comes as ministers consider authorising the construction of a new generation of nuclear reactors in Britain. Adding urgency to that review, the most recent official figures show that the UK's carbon emissions are rising again.
Many environmental groups and some Labour MPs are opposed to new atomic power stations, although the Prime Minister is understood to be leaning towards the nuclear option.
Unlike coal-power and gas-power plants, nuclear stations do not produce . "There are no magic bullets; a portfolio of options is needed and excluding any options will increase costs," the scientists conclude.
Governments should use a variety of means to cut emissions in "wedges", including increasing energy efficiency, nuclear energy, low-emission transport fuels and fossil-fuel power plants with carbon-capture technology, they said.
The scientists also recommend that poorer nations consider investing in nuclear power plants. "Efficiency improvements and alternative energy supply such as nuclear and renewables are of priority for developing countries to contribute [to attempts to cut emissions]," they conclude.
Nuclear energy is likely to prove the most contentious aspect of the Prime Minister's attempts to meet his targets to reduce Britain's carbon emissions. One criticism raised of nuclear power is that the relative scarcity of the uranium it relies on means it is not a long-term option.
But in another study published yesterday, Bert Metz and Detlef van Vuuren of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, dismiss those suggestions. "New discoveries of uranium resources, use of thorium [an alternative nuclear fuel], more efficient technologies and production of uranium from seawater could, at least in theory, imply that this option is almost without technical limits," the researchers write.
Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, has expressed doubts about the value of nuclear power, but yesterday insisted it has to be an option for Britain. "Once you have put in all the energy required to construct the nuclear power stations, it is actually a low-carbon form of energy," she said, although she conceded that nuclear has "other problems", especially how to dispose of waste.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The fallacy that nuclear energy will prove to be our saviour

FT.com / By industry / Energy Utilities Mining - The fallacy that nuclear energy will prove to be our saviour

>By Andrew Simms>Published: November 4 2005 02:00 Last updated: November 4 2005 02:00>>
If Britain's energy policy was like the Grand National, nuclear power would fall at virtually every fence. But somehow, irrationally, race stewards from the sector and the Department of Trade and Industry seem to have dragged its prospects to within sight of government backing to build new generating capacity. How?
Nuclear power is promoted as the answer to climate change and energy insecurity. It is neither. As a response to global warming, it is too slow, too expensive and too limited. In an age of terrorist threats, it is more of a security risk than a solution. Also, answers to the problems of waste and decommissioning are nowhere in sight.
In terms of the relative costs of reducing carbon emissions to tackle global warming, nuclear power comes at the end of a long list of options including: energy efficiency, combined heat and power, wind power, micro hydro, energy crops and wave power. Nuclear is also the least efficient at creating employment.
An analysis of figures relied on by the government suggests that they have underestimated the true costs of new nuclear power by nearly threefold. Starting from the British Energy/BNFL estimate of 3p/kWh, the price goes up 1.3p/kWh by using an average, rather than best, cost for new reactors. Using the International Energy Agency's construction estimates pushes the price up by the same again. So-called "first-of-a-kind" costs incurred with new reactor designs add about 0.1p/kWh.
Allowing for delays and cost overruns adds at least a further 1.8p/kWh. Lowering the assumed performance of new stations to what has been achieved adds 0.8p/kWh, taking the total to around 8.3p/kWh. These costs exclude risks and liabilities arising from under-insurance, pollution and terrorism.
There are also holes in the claim that nuclear provides energy security. The industry has a habit of losing radioactive material and a dirty little secret about how little high-grade uranium ore is left to fuel reactors. The International Atomic Energy Agency said last year that "the key question is how long nuclear resources might last" and cited known conventional resources of uranium as enough to last only 85 years for the most common type of reactors at 2002 rates of use and slightly longer for others.
Also, a nuclear industry relying on hugely energy-intensive fuel extraction from low-grade ore is far from carbon- free. One of the only full life-cycle analyses of nuclear plants, by retired nuclear physicist and former nuclear advocate Philip Bartlett Smith, concluded that even in the best case nuclear required significant emissions. In the worst case, using low grade ores, it was less climate-friendly than a gas -fired power station.
The physical limitations of nuclear were also revealed in a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology report. It showed that to increase nuclear's share of world electricity by just 2 per cent by 2050 would mean an additional 1,000-1,500 new large nuclear plants. While even this looks impossible, there are several other reasons for caution.
There are already hundreds of tonnes of high-level radioactive material for which no inventory exists and blueprints for nuclear hardware are increasingly available on the international black market. An expanding sector would make nuclear proliferation - Iran - and terrorism not just more likely but almost inevitable.
Accidents, too, are expensive. Ukraine's bill more than a decade after the Chernobyl disaster was more than $120bn (£68bn). Swiss Re, the world's second largest reinsurer, concludes: "One of the most perilous shortcomings in traditional property insurance and reinsurance concerns inadequate nuclear risk exclusions."
We must also beware the law of un­intended consequences. The energy review by the government's performance and innovation unit warned that investment in new nuclear power plants could adversely affect the development of other technologies. Finland, the only developed country with a new nuclear programme, has been criticised by the IEA for underfunding and missing the goals of its renewable energy plan and has seen its emissions rise. Nuclear power, perversely, could hasten global warming.
If the government concedes to the nuclear industry's demands to underwrite additional nuclear capacity it will be the biggest scam on the public since Enron discovered creative accounting or Nigeria discovered the internet. But then, there is always a danger that big races get fixed by the organisers.
The writer is policy director of the New Economics Foundation and author of Ecological Debt: The Health of the Planet and the Wealth of Nations

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Change in Climate - Newsweek

A Change in Climate - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

By William Underhill
Newsweek International
Feb. 6, 2006 issue - Martin Landtman is thinking big. As project director of Finland's next nuclear-power station, he's responsible for his country's largest-ever industrial investment. Over the next four years his work force will pour 250,000 cubic meters of reinforced concrete—enough to build 5,000 apartment blocks—at the Olkiluoto site on the Baltic coast. The goal: a structure tough enough to withstand a direct hit from the world's largest airliner or to contain a meltdown of its radioactive core. But his biggest challenge may have already passed. The project—the first new nuclear-power station in Europe since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986—now has majority support among his fellow Finns.

A nuclear plant with popular backing? And in one of those planet-loving Nordic states? Look no further for proof that the nuclear industry is losing its bugaboo status. Among voters, new anxieties have emerged to offset the old safety fears. Mounting evidence of climate change has refocused attention on an energy source that won't soil the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the cost of gas and oil is soaring. Europeans don't want to be dependent on supplies from Russia, especially after Moscow's recent show of arm-twisting with Ukraine. Japan wants to wean itself off of energy imports. U.S. citizens are fed up with relying on Middle Eastern states for their energy.
Nuclear power is increasingly seen as the only energy source that can square the needs of the environment and industry. More research is necessary before renewable sources will be able to provide energy in sufficient quantities at a realistic price. Olkiluoto's output alone will meet 10 percent of all Finland's requirements. Says Landtman: "We just can't hide from the problems anymore."
The turnaround is perhaps most startling in Europe. Most citizens remain wary, but a rethink is underway in almost every European country—even those most traditionally hostile to nuclear power. In Italy, which junked its nuclear program after a referendum 18 years ago, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi talks openly of reversing policy. In Germany, where the new coalition government is free of members of the Greens, conservative politicians are cautiously debating the state's legal pledge to phase out nuclear power by 2020. A recent poll found that more than one in three Swedes today supports nuclear power, even though their own government is committed to closing down the industry.
Some countries, like Finland, are going further with plans to build new nuclear plants, not just to retain the old. Poland is scheduled to begin design work this year on two reactors, the first in its history. "The building of any gas plants in Poland right now would be madness," says government spokesman Roman Trechcinski. "The only solution we have left are the nuclear-power plants." Britain, struggling to meet its Kyoto targets, looks set for a nuclear comeback. In his New Year message, Prime Minister Tony Blair promised to make "the big choice" whether to add nuclear capacity. Few doubt how he will decide. Britain depends on nuclear power for 20 percent of its electricity, but that share is set to fall as older plants are phased out.
America may be on the verge of the first new-plant construction in 20 years. During that time, the industry has kept output rising by upgrading nuclear plants, but many are operating at a better than 90 percent capacity. In August, President Bush signed an energy bill that gives the industry construction subsidies and incentives, which is stimulating a flurry of new plant proposals. How quickly these plants make it off the blueprints remains to be seen. Japan announced ambitious nuclear plans at the 1997 Kyoto conference—to build 20 new plants by 2010—but accidents and local opposition has cut that figure to five new facilities.
Cost overruns decimated nuclear power in the 1970s, but it is now seen as an essential ingredient to any country's energy portfolio, thanks to global warming. New reactor designs—particularly "light-water" reactors—also can reduce the frequency of accidents tenfold. The big question is whether public concern over climate change will trump fears over safety.
The necessity argument won't satisfy the diehards. The awkward issue of where to stow nuclear waste still has to be settled. And all that concrete won't dispel fears of a catastrophic breakdown or a terrorist attack. Antinuclear campaigners blame the resurgent interest in nuclear power on political laziness and a fear of squaring up to more difficult solutions. Cutting energy consumption is a no-no with the voters. "We live in a world where prime ministers don't have the time to look deeply at the issues; they just go for the solutions they have heard about," says Roger Higman, an energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth in London.
But high-minded critics must face an inconvenient reality. In practice, nuclear energy already meets more of the developed world's needs than its members would like to accept. Denmark, implacably opposed to nuclear power, is quite ready to buy nuclear-generated electricity from Sweden, just as the Italians survive on imported power from France, which looks to its nuclear plants for more than 70 percent of its energy. For good measure, France, always Europe's most enthusiastic champion of nuclear power, announced in January that it would build a new pilot reactor by 2020, adding to its tally of nearly 60 plants. The United States gets 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Norway and Austria, two more diehard anti-nuke nations, can afford a principled position only because of their plentiful supplies of hydroelectric power. Others have no such luxury. If the nuke revival had a slogan, it might go like this: Learn to love nuclear power—or turn off the lights.
With Kasia Kruszkowska
© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

UN chief asks US to give Iran reactors

UN chief asks US to give Iran reactors

(AP)Updated: 2006-01-28 09:19
U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Friday called on the United States to provide Iran with nuclear reactors and urged Tehran to declare a moratorium on enriching uranium for at least eight years.
ElBaradei said that amount of time would enable the country to earn the confidence of the international community that it was really interested in nuclear energy ¡ª not nuclear weapons.
Iran provoked an international outcry on Jan. 10 when it ended a two-year freeze and resumed small-scale enrichment of uranium ¡ª a process that can be used to produce fuel for generating electricity or material for atomic bombs. To resume enrichment, Iran had to break the seals of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear monitoring body headed by ElBaradei.
Britain, France and Germany ¡ª who have been leading European Union efforts to get Iran to abandon uranium conversion and enrichment ¡ª succeeded in getting the IAEA's board to meet Feb. 2 to discuss action against Iran. The three countries ¡ª and United States ¡ª want Iran to be referred to the U.N. Security Council.
The Iranians argue that they need to develop an enrichment capability because they cannot be assured a guaranteed supply of fuel for a peaceful nuclear energy program, ElBaradei said at a panel at the World Economic Forum.
"I would separate the issues of using nuclear technology for energy and to produce weapons," he said. "I would call upon the United States to provide Iran with reactors, and I would call upon Iran to declare a moratorium on enrichment for at least eight or nine years" until the country can earn the global community's confidence.
On Thursday, ElBaradei said he was hopeful that a Russian proposal could help break the standoff over Iran's nuclear research and enrichment plans.
Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani said Friday that a plan to allow Iran to enrich its uranium in Russia was unacceptable in its present form but was worth taking further in negotiations.
"The capacity of Russia's proposal does not meet all the nuclear energy needs of Iran," Iranian state television quoted Larijani as saying.
However, Ivan Safranchuk, a Russian analyst, cautioned that Iran might be using the plan only to buy time as it fights to avoid potential U.N. sanctions.
Asked for his advice to Western officials, ElBaradei said: "You need to keep all options on the table."
But U.S. Sen. John McCain appeared to rule out negotiations.
"They're interested in acquiring weapons of mass destruction and dominating the Middle East," McCain, told a panel. "I don't know of any carrot that works."
Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said in Washington that comments from Iran indicate that it appears "to be playing more games with the international community."
"We remain in discussions with our partners and others about the best way to send a clear message to the regime in Iran that it is unacceptable to have nuclear weapons," McClellan said.
Alyson Bailes, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, called for new technologies and advanced reactors that would be built to rule out the high enrichment of uranium.
ElBaradei did not elaborate on having the U.S. build reactors for Iran, but presumably this would enable Washington to build in safeguards to prevent Iran from getting weapons-grade uranium.
The IAEA chief backed the quest for new technologies, but more immediately he called for international control over all nuclear activities and the creation of a nuclear fuel bank to ensure supplies of uranium to all countries.
"We need to worry because there's a lot of material that easily go into nuclear weapons that is all over the place. We know that the technology on how to weaponize is out of the tube. We know that terrorists are highly sophisticated and are interested in acquiring nuclear weapons or nuclear material ¡ª either to steal one or to make a crude bomb," he said.
"We are running in a race against time," he said.

Friday, January 27, 2006

La crise de l'énergie revigore le futur réacteur nucléaire de 4e génération

Revue de presse

25/01/2006 : Le MondeLa crise de l'énergie revigore le futur réacteur nucléaire de 4e générationJean-François Augereau A quelles formes d'énergie l'humanité fera-t-elle appel pour assurer, dans quelques décennies, les besoins de 9 milliards d'individus ? A toutes, répondent aujourd'hui les experts. Aux renouvelables comme aux plus classiques. "Face au problème de l'énergie et du climat, le temps n'est pas à l'exclusion d'un système d'énergie par rapport à un autre. Tout est bon à prendre. Sans préjugé ni angélisme", insiste Philippe Pradel, directeur de l'énergie nucléaire au Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (CEA), qui rappelle que "d'ici à 2050, la consommation mondiale d'énergie devrait doubler" pour atteindre 20 Gtep (milliards de tonnes équivalent pétrole). Dans ce contexte, le nucléaire pourrait bien retrouver une place dans le bouquet qui alimentera la planète en énergie. Certains estiment que la capacité électronucléaire mondiale, assurée par quelque 450 réacteurs répartis dans une trentaine de pays, pourrait quadrupler d'ici à 2050. Optimisme du lobby nucléaire ? Peut-être. Reste que quelques pays dont les programmes nucléaires s'étaient ralentis puis arrêtés après les accidents américain de Three Mile Island et ukrainien de Tchernobyl réfléchissent à nouveau à l'atome. A commencer par les Etats-Unis dont l'Energy Policy Act, signé en août 2005 par le président Bush, ouvre la voie à cette forme d'énergie. Le ministre français de l'économie et des finances, Thierry Breton, devait quant à lui présenter, mardi 24 janvier, à Bruxelles, un texte pour une politique européenne de l'énergie dont Paris souhaite qu'elle n'écarte pas le recours au nucléaire. Les récentes déclarations du président de la Commission européenne, José Manuel Barroso qui estime qu'une telle politique européenne ne doit exclure aucune option, vont dans le même sens. Que dire enfin des propos, tenus le 5 janvier par Jacques Chirac lors des voeux "aux forces vives de la nation", qui laissaient entendre qu'un réacteur prototype de "4e génération" pourrait être mis en service en 2020 ? Ce projet n'est pas complètement nouveau. Depuis plusieurs années, la France, malgré la crise du nucléaire, maintient, au CEA, une capacité de recherche dans ce domaine. De plus, elle participe à un Forum international, créé en janvier 2000, et qui s'est donné pour objectif de développer ces réacteurs de 4e génération pour remplacer demain une partie des parcs électro-nucléaires actuels. Dix pays (Etats-Unis, France, Japon, Argentine, Brésil, Canada, Afrique du Sud, Corée du Sud, Suisse et Royaume-Uni) et l'Union européenne appartiennent à ce Forum, que la Chine et la Russie pourraient rejoindre. Son but : étudier six nouvelles filières de réacteurs. Des machines très différentes de l'EPR, le réacteur de 3e génération dont un premier exemplaire sera mis en service en Finlande, à Olkiluoto en 2009, et un deuxième en France à Flamanville (Manche) en 2011-2012. Les six réacteurs que le Forum se propose d'étudier sont entièrement nouveaux. Trois d'entre eux sont des réacteurs à neutrons rapides refroidis soit par du gaz (hélium ou azote), soit par du sodium liquide - technique déjà explorée par la Françe avec Superphénix -, soit encore par du plomb fondu. Une autre filière concerne un réacteur à très haute température (1 000o C contre environ 300o C pour les réacteurs à eau pressurisée du parc EDF). Deux autres enfin ont trait au réacteur à sels fondus, dont le coeur nucléaire sera liquide, et au réacteur supercritique, dont l'eau de refroidissement est maintenue à des pressions et des températures très élevées. Derrière ces projets pour lesquels le Forum estime qu'un financement de 6 milliards de dollars sur quinze ans est nécessaire, se profile le remplacement, à partir de 2035-2040, des réacteurs les plus "jeunes" actuellement en service. Mais se profile aussi avec ces machines une autre manière de penser l'énergie. Car, outre la fourniture d'électricité, ces centrales pourront aussi dessaler l'eau de mer, produire de la chaleur et de l'hydrogène. Toutes potentialités qui n'auront de sens que si ces réacteurs de 4e génération sont plus économiques, plus sûrs, moins proliférants, moins gourmands en énergie et capables de se débarrasser d'une partie de leurs déchets. Pas question bien sûr pour les pays intéressés de développer seuls tous ces filières. La France, pour sa part, n'envisage de mener des recherches que sur les réacteurs rapides à gaz et à sodium ainsi que sur les réacteurs à haute température. De toute façon, les moyens du CEA - 40 à 50 millions d'euros par an et 400 chercheurs -, même épaulés par ceux d'autres organismes et des industriels, ne le permettraient pas. N'est donc prévue, sans doute à Marcoule ou à Cadarache, que la construction - et ce dans un cadre international - d'un réacteur prototype de 200 à 300 mégawatts qui pourrait entrer en service en 2020. Reste à choisir, parmi les trois filières explorées par la France, celle qui sera la bonne et à trouver le milliard d'euros nécessaire au financement de ses sept ans de construction. Ce n'est qu'ensuite, en 2030-2035, qu'un réacteur "tête de série" de taille industrielle (1 500 à 1 600 mégawatts) pourra être envisagé.

Energy � Romania, Nuclear Power | Jurnalul National

Energy � Romania, Nuclear Power Jurnalul National

The natural gas’ crisis made the authorities go back to projects that were forgotten or postponed for wealthier or diplomatically better times. Money hunting is the priority, while solving other kinds of difficulties seems less dramatic.
The so-called (east) European of Gazprom natural gas delivery turned some great projects in priorities again. The most important seem to be the initiation of two new hydroelectric power plants on the Danube and the 3 and 4 Units of the Nuclear Plant in Cernavoda (NPC).
THE INVESTMENT. The making of the 3rd Unit in Cernavoda has been in the energetic strategy of Romania for a long time, but the 4th Unit has been taken into consideration seriously only in the last decade, with the occasion of the recent “Gazprom fever”.
“As soon as we receive the sketch of the feasibility plan, we will start the procedures that will finalize with the initiation of the project company, which is to build the 3 and 4 units from Cernavoda, according to a public-private partnership for turn-key plants”, Codrut Seres, the Minister of Economy and Commerce, stated for us yesterday. The multi-purpose company will be made of Transelectrica and the selected partners, their allotments being lands, cash capital or equipments.
“By building both the objectives at once, we reduce some costs”, Seres added. According to estimations in the field, the investment for the 2 Unit, which is to be finalized, would reach 900 million US Dollars. The cost of a simultaneous building of the two new groups could reach 1.5 billion USD, of a total of 6.85 billion USD, which is the cost for the modernization of the entire energetic sector between 2006 and 2015.
ASSEMBLING. The sketch of the feasibility plan for the 3 and 4 Units, made by Deloite&Touche, should be delivered not much after the 15th of January, and the shareholders of the project company might be established by the middle of June.
After the end of the discussions for the formation of the project company, the details of the financing of the investments scheme will be known, and this refers to the social capital and credit ratios from the partners and creditors. The negotiation margin for the social capital and the credit lines is not so big. The joint stock has to have a certain dimension to prove the creditors the force and the engagement of the company, and the credit lines for investments are sufficiently standardized in such a way not to allow many modifications. The discussions will be more laborious for the way in which the Nuclearelectrica partners will cash the profits in accordance to their investment ratios: money or energy.
THE CANDIDATES. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL, Canada) and Ansaldo Energia (Italy), the contractors of the first two NPC units, as well as the Italians from ENEL, the owners of Electrica Dobrogea and Electrica Banat Crisana, would like to take part in the new investments. LNM holding and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power have also been accepted in a so-called first list of candidates, which remains open. The Romanian officials have also invited Korean company Doosan to get involved. The Czech group CEZ and the German one, EnBW, don’t say a definite no. They both compete for Electrica Muntenia Sud, the pearl of the sales subsidiaries of the Electrica Group, the money of which are the target of the Romanian authorities when talking about potential partners.
The works could start in 2006, and should be finalized in 2012, their complexity implying the reaching of other goals as well. These are the plant with Bunkie station in Tarnita-Lapustesti, which is to use during the night some of the energy produced by the 2 and 3 groups of the Cernavoda NPC, in order to assure the equilibrium of the energetic system.
FIVE REACTORS = 40% OF THE PRODUCED ENERGY. The Cernavoda plant has five Canadian CANDU 6 reactors with an installed power of approximately 700 MW each. The first reactor started functioning in 1996 and supplies 10% of the country’s need. The second one could deliver its first megawatts in the autumn. The first two units could support 18%-19% of the country’s consumption, and the third and the fourth one would get the Romanian energetic resources close to the 40% margin. The electricity in Cernavoda is the second in the table of the cheapest sources, with approximately 34 USD/MWh. By the fission of a gram of Uranium 235, one can obtain as much energy as from using two tones of petrol. The Romanian energy depends on the imports in ratio of 28% and will get to 40% until 2015. The electrical energy consumption will increase with 1.7% between 2005 and 2008. Now, we consume almost 50,000 MWh per year, obtained with an installed power of 18,000 MW.

Gazprom May Expand into Nuclear Power Generation�� Paper - COMPANY NEWS - MOSNEWS.COM

Gazprom May Expand into Nuclear Power Generation�� Paper - COMPANY NEWS - MOSNEWS.COM

Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom could expand into nuclear power generation under a Kremlin plan, the Vedomosti business daily reported on Friday, Jan. 27.Under the plan, Gazprom would build and control the nuclear plants, while the fall in demand for gas-fueled electricity generation would enable the company to export more of its gas to lucrative foreign markets, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified officials in the Presidential Administration.Last week Russia’s new nuclear chief Sergei Kiriyenko has said that some US$60 billion needs to be invested in 40 new nuclear power plants over the next 25 years.While some managers see advantages in the plan, others say the money would be better deployed developing new, technically challenging, gas fields, the paper reported.Deutsche Bank’s Russian wing said on Jan. 27 that the managers of Gazprom, which has banking, media and machine tools divisions, should seek to concentrate on their core business of gas production.“We are concerned that the government and Presidential Administration are continuing to view Gazprom as an instrument for solving the country’s problems,” the bank said, quoted by the Associated Press agency.

French to cash in with nuclear UK | This is Money

French to cash in with nuclear UK This is Money

FRENCH energy giant EDF is targeting Britain with a multi-billion pound programme to build nuclear power stations.

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EDF, which owns London Electricity and generates UK supplies with wind farms as well as coal and gasfired power stations, is ready to invest in a series of nuclear plants using its European pressurised water reactor. Each 1,000 megawatt power station, capable of lighting a million homes, costs about £1.1bn.
The French company, headed by Pierre Gadonneix, is the world's leading operator of nuclear power plants. There are 56 in France, all owned by EDF.
The plan to target Britain follows signs of a change in energy policy by Labour, which until now has blocked construction of new nuclear plants.
Soaring energy prices and fears of Britain becoming dependent on unreliable suppliers have forced Tony Blair to order another review of energy policy. He told business leaders at a CBI conference in London last November: 'Energy prices have risen and supply is under threat. Climate change is producing a sense of urgency.'
The latest energy crisis has heightened fears about security of supplies. It erupted when Russian gas giant Gazprom closed the pipelines to Ukraine in a row over prices.
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All of Britain's 20 nuclear power stations and most of its coal-fired power stations will be closed by 2020. They account for 30 per cent of the country's energy needs and the Department of Trade & Industry now believes that a programme of renewable energy - wind farms and wave power - will not bridge the gap.
Paul McIntyre, a senior civil servant at the DTI, will begin a long-awaited review into energy policy this week. The Government has pledged it will be completed by June.
Planners at EDF estimate that it would take about ten years to build the first new nuclear plant, but first, there would have to be a Government decision to go for a balanced energy policy. If so, the German-owned companies Eon and RWE are expected to join the bidding.
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Private cash must fund nuclear power | This is Money

Private cash must fund nuclear power This is Money

Robert Lea, Evening Standard27 January 2006
CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown has pulled the plug on any Treasury financial support for the building of new nuclear power stations, City bankers and energy executives will be told today.

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At a private meeting with around 50 financiers, top lawyers and the power industry, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks will make clear that, if the Government gives the green light to new nuclear build, the private sector will be made solely responsible for finding the financing.
Speaking ahead of the first formal presentation to the City of the Government's latest Energy Review, Wicks told the Evening Standard in an exclusive interview: 'There will be no writing of cheques by the Treasury in full or in part, if we decide to go down the route of building new nuclear power stations.'
Questioned on whether the review could see the Government prepared to underwrite the bondfinancing of new nuclear build - just as the Treasury supported Network Rail and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link - the minister was unequivocal.
'There will be no endangering of the public finances,' said Wicks. 'We will not be landing the Treasury with a large cheque.'
The decision leaves a big question mark over whether the Department of Trade and Industry can find private sector backing to build what would be the firstever non-state funded constructionof nuclear power stations in the UK.
Ageing nuclear power stations and the decommissioning of environmentally unclean coal-fired plants will, says the DTI, leave the UK with a 20,000-megawatt power black hole within two decades - almost a third of the UK's current capacity, and a shortfall equivalent to the output of up to 15 new major power stations.
Launching the Energy Review earlier this week, Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson made it clear the UK needs to get away from dependence on gas, which by 2020 will see Britain 80% reliant on imports.
Confirming that there have already been informal meetings with a number of international banks and major power companies-such as German nuclear generator E.On, Wicks said: 'There is significant interest in investing [in new nuclear stations].
'There is an investment appetite and significant interest in the investment opportunities. But we are not yet in a place where we have sat down with the big companies and asked. 'Are you willing to build new nuclear?''
Wicks further admitted that the hurdle of credible financing must be cleared before new nuclear can be included when the Energy Review is completed this summer.
Public worries about nuclear waste must also be resolved. The industry's past record of secrecy made it 'easy for demons to be conjured' if the public continues to confuse nuclear weapons issues with the safety of nuclear power.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

No 'early nuclear waste solution'

Scotsman.com News - Latest News - No 'early nuclear waste solution'

The Greens and the SNP have stepped up pressure on the Executive after an expert report said there could be no early solution to the problem of nuclear waste.
First Minister Jack McConnell has so far said there would be no new nuclear power stations in Scotland until the waste issue has been resolved.
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But he has been under pressure to go further, and an extract of a draft report by expert advisors to the government - the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CORWM) - was seized on by opponents of nuclear power.
The extract said: "If ministers accept our recommendations, the UK's nuclear waste problem is not solved. Having a strategy is a start. The real challenge follows."
The committee's report on waste storage strategies is expected in July. It is examining four options - temporary storage above or just below the surface; deep geological disposal up to 2km underground; a phased version of this in which the waste would be monitored and retrievable for hundreds of years; and burying waste with short-lived radioactivity just below the surface within engineered barriers.
Green MSP Chris Ballance said: "The admission in this document reveals that Jack McConnell will never be able to justify a new nuclear reactor this side of the May 2007 election, and it exposes the arrant nonsense that proposals to manage the nuclear waste legacy could possibly be described as solving the problem.
"On top of the costs, dangers, risks and a failure to truly tackle climate change, nuclear power creates waste that is not going to be magicked away by the CORWM report."
And SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said: "Scottish ministers must now change their policy on nuclear to one of outright opposition. No solution for dealing with nuclear waste means no more nuclear for Scotland.
"Nuclear power is dirty, dangerous and unwanted in Scotland, and this report only shows that our objections to nuclear power are totally justified."
An Executive spokesman said: "The final report from the committee will be with us in the summer. That's when we will give their report detailed analysis."
© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2006, All Rights Reserved.
This article: http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=130672006

Discurs de Chirac

Revue de presse

19/01/2006 : Jacques Chirac, président de la République"Protéger nos intérêts vitaux"C'est un réel plaisir de me retrouver aujourd'hui parmi vous, à l'île Longue. Je suis heureux de pouvoir rencontrer les femmes et les hommes, militaires et civils, qui participent à l'accomplissement d'une mission fondamentale pour notre indépendance et notre sécurité : la dissuasion nucléaire. La création d'une force nationale de dissuasion a constitué, pour la France, un véritable défi qui n'a pu être relevé que par l'engagement de tous. Elle a imposé de mobiliser toutes les énergies, de développer nos capacités de recherche, de trouver des solutions innovantes à de nombreux problèmes. La dissuasion nucléaire est ainsi devenue l'image même de ce qu'est capable de produire notre pays quand il s'est fixé une tâche et qu'il s'y tient. Je tiens ici à rendre hommage aux chercheurs et ingénieurs, du CEA et de toutes les entreprises françaises, qui nous permettent d'être toujours en pointe dans des secteurs vitaux comme les sciences de la matière, la simulation numérique, les lasers, et notamment le laser Mégajoule, les technologies nucléaires et celles de l'espace. Je veux prolonger cet hommage à tous ceux qui soutiennent, d'une façon ou d'une autre, nos forces nucléaires : personnel de la DGA, cadres et ouvriers des sociétés et groupes industriels, gendarmes du contrôle gouvernemental, militaires de toutes les armées. Mais mes pensées vont bien sûr en premier lieu aux équipages des composantes océanique et aéroportée qui, en permanence, dans la discrétion la plus totale, assurent la plus longue et la plus importante des missions opérationnelles. J'ai fixé un taux de posture exigeant qui correspond aux besoins de sécurité de notre pays. Je sais quelles contraintes il impose. On parle rarement de vous, mais je veux saluer votre valeur et votre mérite. La permanence de la posture de dissuasion, remarquablement tenue depuis quarante ans, est en soi un éloge. Je tiens à associer vos familles à cet hommage, et tout particulièrement les familles des équipages de sous-marins. Je mesure combien les patrouilles opérationnelles représentent d'éloignement, de solitude, et parfois de souffrances. Mesdames, Messieurs, cette mission, vous l'effectuez dans un environnement en constante mutation. Avec la fin de la guerre froide, nous ne faisons actuellement l'objet d'aucune menace directe de la part d'une puissance majeure. Mais la fin du monde bipolaire n'a pas fait disparaître les menaces contre la paix. Dans de nombreux pays se diffusent des idées radicales prônant la confrontation des civilisations, des cultures et des religions. Aujourd'hui, cette volonté de confrontation se traduit par des attentats odieux, qui viennent régulièrement nous rappeler que le fanatisme et l'intolérance mènent à toutes les folies. Demain, elle pourrait prendre d'autres formes, encore plus graves, impliquant des Etats. La lutte contre le terrorisme est l'une de nos priorités. Nous avons pris un grand nombre de mesures pour répondre à ce danger. Nous continuerons sur cette voie, avec fermeté et détermination. Mais il ne faut pas céder à la tentation de limiter l'ensemble des problématiques de défense et de sécurité à ce nécessaire combat contre le terrorisme. Ce n'est pas parce qu'une nouvelle menace apparaît qu'elle fait disparaître toutes les autres. Notre monde est en constante évolution, à la recherche de nouveaux équilibres politiques, économiques, démographiques, militaires. Il est caractérisé par l'émergence rapide de nouveaux pôles de puissance. Il est confronté à l'apparition de nouvelles sources de déséquilibres : le partage des matières premières, la distribution des ressources naturelles, l'évolution des équilibres démographiques notamment. Cette évolution pourrait être cause d'instabilité, surtout si elle devait s'accompagner d'une montée des nationalismes. Certes, il n'y a aucune fatalité à voir, dans le futur, la relation entre les différents pôles de puissance sombrer dans l'hostilité. C'est d'ailleurs pour prévenir ce danger que nous devons oeuvrer à un ordre international fondé sur la règle de droit et la sécurité collective, un ordre plus juste, plus représentatif. Que nous devons aussi engager tous nos grands partenaires à faire le choix de la coopération plutôt que celui de la confrontation. Mais nous ne sommes à l'abri ni d'un retournement imprévu du système international ni d'une surprise stratégique. Toute notre Histoire nous l'enseigne. Notre monde est également marqué par l'apparition d'affirmations de puissance qui reposent sur la possession d'armes nucléaires, biologiques ou chimiques. D'où la tentation de certains Etats de se doter de la puissance nucléaire, en contravention avec les traités. Des essais de missiles balistiques, dont la portée ne cesse d'augmenter, se multiplient partout dans le monde. C'est ce constat qui a conduit le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies à reconnaître que la prolifération des armes de destruction massive, et de leurs vecteurs associés, constituait une menace pour la paix et la sécurité internationale. Enfin, il ne faut pas ignorer la persistance des risques plus traditionnels d'instabilité régionale. Ils existent partout dans le monde. Mesdames, Messieurs, Face aux crises qui secouent le monde, face aux nouvelles menaces, la France a toujours choisi, d'abord, la voie de la prévention, qui demeure, sous toutes ses formes, le socle de notre politique de défense. S'appuyant sur le droit, l'influence et la solidarité, la prévention passe par l'ensemble des actions de notre diplomatie qui, sans cesse, s'efforce de dénouer les crises naissantes. Elle passe aussi par toute une gamme de postures relevant des domaines de la défense et de la sécurité, au premier plan desquelles se trouvent les forces repositionnées. Mais ce serait faire preuve d'angélisme que de croire que la prévention, seule, suffit à nous protéger. Pour être entendu, il faut aussi, lorsque c'est nécessaire, être capable de faire usage de la force. Nous devons donc disposer d'une capacité importante à intervenir en dehors de nos frontières, avec des moyens conventionnels, afin de soutenir ou de compléter cette stratégie. Une telle politique de défense repose sur la certitude que, quoi qu'il arrive, nos intérêts vitaux seront garantis. C'est le rôle attribué à la dissuasion nucléaire, qui s'inscrit dans la continuité directe de notre stratégie de prévention. Elle en constitue l'expression ultime. Face aux inquiétudes du présent et aux incertitudes du futur, la dissuasion nucléaire demeure la garantie fondamentale de notre sécurité. Elle nous donne également, d'où que puissent venir les pressions, le pouvoir d'être maîtres de nos actions, de notre politique, de la pérennité de nos valeurs démocratiques. Dans le même temps, nous continuons à soutenir les efforts internationaux en faveur du désarmement général et complet, et, en particulier, la négociation d'un traité d'interdiction de la production de matières fissiles pour les armes nucléaires. Mais nous ne pourrons évidemment avancer sur la voie du désarmement que si les conditions de notre sécurité globale sont maintenues et si la volonté de progresser est unanimement partagée. C'est dans cet esprit que la France a maintenu ses forces de dissuasion, tout en les réduisant, conformément à l'esprit du traité de non-prolifération et au respect du principe de stricte suffisance. C'est la responsabilité du chef de l'Etat d'apprécier, en permanence, la limite de nos intérêts vitaux. L'incertitude de cette limite est consubstantielle à la doctrine de dissuasion. L'intégrité de notre territoire, la protection de notre population, le libre exercice de notre souveraineté constitueront toujours le coeur de nos intérêts vitaux. Mais ils ne s'y limitent pas. La perception de ces intérêts évolue au rythme du monde, marqué par l'interdépendance croissante des pays européens et par la mondialisation. Par exemple, la garantie de nos approvisionnements stratégiques et la défense de pays alliés, sont, parmi d'autres, des intérêts qu'il convient de protéger. Il appartiendrait au président de la République d'apprécier l'ampleur et les conséquences potentielles d'une agression, d'une menace ou d'un chantage insupportables à l'encontre de ces intérêts. Cette analyse pourrait, le cas échéant, conduire à considérer qu'ils entrent dans le champ de nos intérêts vitaux. La dissuasion nucléaire, je l'avais souligné au lendemain des attentats du 11 septembre 2001, n'est pas destinée à dissuader des terroristes fanatiques. Pour autant, les dirigeants d'Etats qui auraient recours à des moyens terroristes contre nous, tout comme ceux qui envisageraient d'utiliser, d'une manière ou d'une autre, des armes de destruction massive, doivent comprendre qu'ils s'exposeraient à une réponse ferme et adaptée de notre part. Cette réponse peut être conventionnelle. Elle peut aussi être d'une autre nature. Depuis ses origines, la dissuasion n'a jamais cessé de s'adapter à notre environnement et à l'analyse des menaces que je viens de rappeler. Et cela dans son esprit comme dans ses moyens. Nous sommes en mesure d'infliger des dommages de toute nature à une puissance majeure qui voudrait s'en prendre à des intérêts que nous jugerions vitaux. Contre une puissance régionale, notre choix n'est pas entre l'inaction et l'anéantissement. La flexibilité et la réactivité de nos forces stratégiques nous permettraient d'exercer notre réponse directement sur ses centres de pouvoir, sur sa capacité à agir. Toutes nos forces nucléaires ont été configurées en conséquence. C'est dans ce but que, par exemple, le nombre de têtes nucléaires a été réduit sur certains des missiles de nos sous-marins. Mais notre concept d'emploi des armes nucléaires reste bien le même. Il ne saurait, en aucun cas, être question d'utiliser des moyens nucléaires à des fins militaires lors d'un conflit. C'est dans cet esprit que les forces nucléaires sont fréquemment qualifiées "d'armes de non-emploi". Cette formule ne doit cependant pas laisser planer le doute sur notre volonté et notre capacité à mettre en oeuvre nos armes nucléaires. La menace crédible de leur utilisation pèse en permanence sur les dirigeants animés d'intentions hostiles à notre égard. Elle est essentielle pour les ramener à la raison, leur faire prendre conscience du coût démesuré qu'auraient leurs actes, pour eux-mêmes et pour leurs Etats. Par ailleurs, nous nous réservons toujours le droit d'utiliser un ultime avertissement pour marquer notre détermination à protéger nos intérêts vitaux. Ainsi, les principes qui sous-tendent notre doctrine de dissuasion n'ont pas changé. Mais ses modes d'expression ont évolué, et continuent d'évoluer, pour nous permettre de faire face au contexte du XXIe siècle. Constamment adaptés à leurs nouvelles missions, les moyens mis en oeuvre par les composantes océanique et aéroportée permettent d'apporter une réponse cohérente à nos préoccupations. Grâce à ces deux composantes, différentes et complémentaires, le chef de l'Etat dispose d'options multiples, couvrant toutes les menaces identifiées. La modernisation et l'adaptation de ces capacités sont nécessaires. Notre dissuasion doit conserver son indispensable crédibilité dans un environnement géostratégique qui évolue. Il serait irresponsable d'imaginer que le maintien de notre arsenal actuel pourrait suffire. Que deviendrait la crédibilité de notre dissuasion si elle ne nous permettait pas de répondre aux nouvelles situations ? Quelle crédibilité aurait-elle vis-à-vis de puissances régionales si nous en étions restés strictement à une menace d'anéantissement total ? Quelle crédibilité aurait, dans le futur, une arme balistique dont le rayon d'action serait limité ? Ainsi, le M51, grâce à sa portée intercontinentale, et l'ASMPA nous donneront, dans un monde incertain, les moyens de couvrir les menaces d'où qu'elles viennent et quelles qu'elles soient. De même, nul ne peut prétendre qu'une défense antimissiles suffit à contrer la menace représentée par les missiles balistiques. Aucun système défensif, si sophistiqué soit-il, ne peut être efficace à 100 %. Nous n'aurons jamais la garantie qu'il ne pourra être contourné. Fonder toute notre défense sur cette unique capacité inviterait nos adversaires à trouver d'autres moyens pour mettre en oeuvre leurs armes nucléaires, chimiques ou bactériologiques. Un tel outil ne peut donc être considéré comme un substitut de la dissuasion. Mais il peut la compléter en diminuant nos vulnérabilités. C'est pourquoi la France s'est résolument engagée dans une réflexion commune, au sein de l'Alliance atlantique, et développe son propre programme d'autoprotection des forces déployées. La sécurité de notre pays et son indépendance ont un coût. Il y a quarante ans, la part d'investissements du ministère de la défense consacrée aux forces nucléaires était de 50 %. Depuis, cette part a constamment été réduite et ne devrait représenter que 18 % en 2008. Aujourd'hui, dans l'esprit de stricte suffisance qui la caractérise, notre politique de dissuasion représente globalement moins de 10 % du budget total de la défense. Les crédits qui lui sont consacrés portent sur des techniques de pointe et soutiennent l'effort de recherche scientifique, technologique et industriel de notre pays. 10 % de notre effort de défense, c'est le prix juste et suffisant pour doter notre pays d'une assurance de sécurité, crédible et pérenne. La mettre en cause serait irresponsable. En outre, le développement de la PESD, l'imbrication croissante des intérêts des pays de l'Union européenne, la solidarité qui existe désormais entre eux, font de la dissuasion nucléaire française, par sa seule existence, un élément incontournable de la sécurité du continent européen. En 1995, la France avait émis l'idée ambitieuse d'une dissuasion concertée afin d'initier une réflexion européenne sur le sujet. Ma conviction demeure que nous devrons, le moment venu, nous poser, ensemble, la question d'une défense commune, qui tiendrait compte des forces de dissuasion existantes, dans la perspective d'une Europe forte, responsable de sa sécurité. Les pays de l'Union ont commencé à réfléchir ensemble à ce que sont, ou ce que seront, leurs intérêts de sécurité communs. C'est une première et nécessaire étape. Mesdames, Messieurs, Depuis 1964, la France dispose d'une dissuasion nucléaire autonome. Ce sont les enseignements de l'Histoire qui avaient conduit le général de Gaulle à faire ce choix crucial. Pendant toutes ces années, les forces nucléaires françaises ont assuré la défense de notre pays et contribué à préserver la paix. Elles continuent aujourd'hui à veiller, en silence, pour que nous puissions vivre dans un pays de liberté, maître de son avenir. Elles continueront demain d'être le garant ultime de notre sécurité. En tant que chef des armées et au nom des Françaises et des Français, je veux exprimer la gratitude et la reconnaissance de la nation à toutes celles et ceux qui concourent à cette mission.

WSJ.com - Bush Seeks to Jump-Start Nuclear Power

WSJ.com - Bush Seeks to Jump-Start Nuclear Power

Proposed Test of New Waste-Reprocessing MethodsAims to Ease Concerns Over Storage
By JOHN J. FIALKA Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNALJanuary 26, 2006; Page A4
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration plans to announce a $250 million initiative to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, a first step toward reversing a 1970s policy that rejected reprocessing as too dangerous to pursue.
The administration's decision to put the money into its fiscal 2007 budget to test new technologies is part of an effort to jump-start the nuclear-power industry at a time when energy prices are high and concerns about global warming make nuclear power plants more acceptable.
According to nuclear industry officials and others briefed on the proposal in recent weeks, the program could be announced as early as next week in President Bush's State of the Union address. If the technology works, it could vastly reduce the amount of spent nuclear waste that would have to be buried in underground storage, such as at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, set to open after 2012.
The initiative will also explore using one or more temporary, above-ground nuclear-waste storage sites to relieve the logjam that has left thousands of tons of nuclear waste stored around reactors, many located near big cities. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Department of Energy experts have worried about the damage that could be caused by a terrorist attack on the spent fuel.
The heart of the initiative is reprocessing technology called UREX+ being developed by Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. It is a method of removing plutonium and other long-lived radioactive elements in spent nuclear fuel that makes the elements reusable in nuclear power plants, but difficult to use for making nuclear weapons.
The process, according to its scientific backers, would also save the bulk of other elements in spent nuclear fuel, primarily uranium, to be reused or disposed of in facilities that don't require thousands of years of storage, such as the plant being prepared at Yucca Mountain. Phillip J. Finck, an Argonne official, told the House Science Committee last summer that UREX+ would reduce the nation's eventual need for more nuclear-waste storage by "a factor of more than 100."
The technology involves burning plutonium and other long-lived byproducts in special "fast" reactors. However, Dr. Finck added: "The practicality of these schemes is not yet established and requires additional scientific and engineering research."
The Bush proposal, tentatively called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, would also give U.S. vendors, such as General Electric Co., opportunities to sell nuclear-power reactors and nuclear fuel to developing nations. It would promote the export of simpler, smaller and less-costly reactors and nuclear fuel on the condition that the U.S. would take back the spent fuel for reprocessing. While a safe way to reprocess nuclear waste also would remove a licensing hurdle to new nuclear plants in the U.S., building nuclear plants here will remain a costly and lengthy process.
The proposal is likely to renew a decades-old fight in Congress on U.S. nuclear-waste policy. "We're supportive of the concepts as a company and as an industry," said Christopher Crane, chief nuclear officer for Exelon Corp., which operates 17 nuclear reactors among the 103 running in the U.S. "We do agree that there is a good deal of unused energy in the fuel we have discharged from our reactors. We think it's positive that the U.S. Department of Energy and the administration want to look at ways to handle that."
Nuclear-industry officials said that without reprocessing, new nuclear plants called for by President Bush in his 2001 energy policy may not be licensed. Yucca Mountain will reach its storage limit -- 70,000 tons -- with waste produced by 2010 from existing plants.
The Department of Energy predicts that as many as eight more underground-storage sites may be needed by the end of the century if the current cycle for power plant fuel continues.
Thomas B. Cochran, a nuclear physicist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which promoted the earlier policy to ban nuclear reprocessing along with other environmental and arms control groups, called the new reprocessing technology "uneconomical, unreliable, unsafe and unworkable." He predicted the utility industry wouldn't support its long-term costs, particularly the "fast" reactors that transform spent fuel by bombarding it with neutrons -- powerful, subatomic particles -- that can further reduce the radioactive waste content.
Ernest Muniz, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former Clinton administration official at the Department of Energy, said he supports the renewed research and development of reprocessing, but predicts that it will require decades of research. Dr. Muniz said he also supports the idea of temporary above-ground waste-storage sites because it helps cool the heat-generating elements in the waste -- reducing a major complication for underground storage facilities.
Some of the changes the administration is proposing, particularly those that affect Yucca Mountain, will require action by Congress. A wild card in that debate is Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who has led his state's battle to stop the project, which is 90 miles from Las Vegas. He has regarded reprocessing as an alternative to long-term storage, but may have some interest in supporting a process that reduces the amount of spent fuel stored at Yucca Mountain.
The original reprocessing technique chopped up spent nuclear-fuel rods and dissolved them in acid, extracting plutonium in an almost pure form. It was derived in the 1950s from the U.S. nuclear-weapons program, which uses plutonium as the primary metal to make atomic warheads explode. Japan, Russia and France use variants of this process, called PUREX, for power-plant fuel recycling, but the U.S. stopped research on its use during the Carter administration.
President Carter, a former nuclear engineer, and other officials were persuaded that separating pure plutonium and encouraging recycling around the world might encourage developing nations to use the plutonium to make bombs. The UREX+ process is designed to reduce this problem by extracting plutonium along with other heavy and highly radioactive elements that make it too hot to handle without advanced robotics to remove and deal with the material.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Finland's fifth nuclear power station six months behind schedule

NewsRoom Finland

25.1.2006 at 15:07
Framatome-Siemens, the Franco-German consortium, told the Finnish News Agency (STT) on Wednesday that Olkiluoto 3, Finland's fifth nuclear reactor, would be operational in the autumn of 2009, six months behind schedule because of delays in design and component manufacturing.
Martin Landtman, the project head at Teollisuuden Voima, the operator of the station, said the facility would start to produce power by the end of 2009.
"Quality, not the timetable, is the most important thing for us," Mr Landtman said.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Belarus may start building nuclear power plant in 2008

Xinhua - English

MOSCOW, Jan. 23 (Xinhuanet) -- Belarus may begin building a nuclear power plant in 2008, a government official said on Monday.
"Construction of a nuclear power plant is planned to begin in 2008. The project's deadline is 2012," the unidentified official was quoted by the Inter fax news agency as saying. He added the site for the facility has yet to be selected.
The official noted concerns for the project in the country after the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear facility, but he said Belarus "cannot avoid taking this step, especially as modern nuclear power plants have much more reliable safeguards."
The nuclear power plant is expected to save up to 4 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually for Belarus and reduce the country's spending on energy by 200 to 300 million U.S. dollars a year.

Survey shows Europeans lukewarm on nuclear energy

World Reuters.co.in

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European citizens want their governments to focus on developing solar and wind power and are less enthusiastic about nuclear energy, according to a survey released on Tuesday.
The Eurobarometer poll showed 12 percent of those surveyed favoured developing the use of nuclear energy, while 48 percent supported solar and 31 percent backed wind power development.
Solar and wind are two forms of renewable energy that the European Union hopes will help reduce its dependence on imported fuels, alleviating concerns about the security of supplies.
Nuclear energy use is divisive in the 25-nation EU, with some countries phasing it out and others, such as France, relying heavily on it for their power needs.
The European Commission said the survey showed 47 percent of those asked wanted more energy decisions to be made at a European level, lending support to calls by EU and national leaders for a common energy policy within the bloc.
"This gives us encouragement to work on this policy," Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told a news conference.
EU heads of state and government are expected in March to discuss the outlines of such a policy, which could cover issues from boosting renewable sources to harnessing the bloc's combined negotiating power for talks with foreign suppliers.
The survey, covering almost 30,000 people, was carried out in the 25 EU member countries as well as acceding and candidate states from Oct. 11 to Nov. 15 last year.

France warns EU on nuclear power vote

France warns EU on nuclear power vote

By AOIFE WHITEAP Business Writer
France warns EU on nuclear power vote

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JAN. 24 12:26 P.M. ET Shunning nuclear power will push up electricity prices for the entire 25-nation European Union, France warned EU finance ministers on Tuesday.
"The avowed aim of a number of member states to abandon nuclear power is leading them to opt preferentially for fossil fuel based production, the cost of which will be aggravated by incorporating the CO2 impact," the French government said in an energy policy paper circulated at a monthly ministerial meeting in Brussels.
"Owing to the existence of a European electricity market, the member states as a whole will then have to absorb the resulting price rises."


Germany has so far held firm to its commitment to phase out its unpopular nuclear power stations even though the recent Russia-Ukraine gas row highlighted its growing reliance on imported oil and gas.
Nuclear power has a bad name in Western Europe even though it is the EU's biggest single source of electricity. Thirteen EU member states use nuclear power, while several others are determined to shun it.
France -- which generates three quarters of electricity from nuclear -- pushed its view that nuclear power is of "strategic importance" to Europe as the 25-nation bloc aims to limit its dependency on energy imports and tackle greenhouse gas emissions.
Nuclear plants are emission-free, French Industry Minister Francois Loos told reporters in Paris. "Gas emits, nuclear doesn't emit," he said.
"We produce less than 50 percent of the emissions that Germany does, with not much less consumption," he said. "Nuclear is an important player here."
Germany and Sweden are saying no to nuclear, promising to phase out its unpopular atomic power stations even as France, Britain, Italy and Finland consider building more.
France said electricity prices will rise as Europe replaces a large number of energy generators over the next 20 years and introduces emissions trading to limit carbon dioxide pollution.
Paris called on the European Union to take nuclear power on board and invest more in nuclear research and development to boost security, safety and waste management.
"The positive contribution of nuclear power to the European electricity market, to the EU's security of supply goals, to electrical continuity of service at competitive prices and to combating climate change should be mentioned," the paper said.
It reminded EU countries that nuclear power generates 34 percent of European electricity "thus offering an independent and stable means of meeting a large share of European energy demand, while avoiding a rise in our greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the entire European automobile fleet."
If current trends continue, the European Commission says by 2030, almost 70 percent of the EU's energy will be imported. Energy demand is forecast to rise by 1 percent to 2 percent a year with fossil fuel use rising to almost 90 percent of the total energy supply.
France plans to discuss a new law on radioactive waste disposal before summer 2006, saying it will set up an independent authority to monitor nuclear safety this year.
An EU poll released Tuesday showed just 12 percent of Europeans saw more nuclear power as the best solution to reduce Europe's dependency on current energy sources. The most popular alternative was solar power, supported by 48 percent of citizens.
Support for nuclear power was highest in Sweden, where it was backed by 32 percent. In France, just 8 percent favored it, compared to 18 percent in Britain, where the government wants to debate building more nuclear power plants.
Overall, the nuclear option came bottom of choices offered to citizens by the Eurobarometer pollsters, which included solar power, more spending on research into new energy sources, wind power and regulation to reduce dependence on oil.

Kazakhstan planning to become biggest uranium producer


23.01.2006, 12.55
ASTANA, January 23 (Itar-Tass) -- Kazakhstan is going to become the world’s biggest uranium producer, Mukhtar Dzhakishev, President of Kazatomprom (the national nuclear company of Kazakhstan), said here on Monday.
According to his information, Kazakhstan’s uranium output was 4,300 tons in 2005 – 30 per cent up against the 2004 figure.
Kazatomprom is one of the three biggest uranium-producing companies. Its management has set itself the task of bringing annual uranium production to 15,000 tons by 2010. If the plan is put into effect, Kazakhstan will become the world’s leading producer of uranium.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Reactor policy to be made after 3-month public airing

FT.com / World / UK - Reactor policy to be made after 3-month public airing

By Christopher Adams and James Blitz Published: January 23 2006 09:26 Last updated: January 23 2006 10:48
Alan Johnson, trade and industry secretary, on Monday annouced that the government's energy review will take a serious look at nuclear power but that no decision has been taken on replacing ageing plants. Employers' groups want a speedy outcome and incentives to encourage nuclear use.

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Ministers will spend just three months canvassing public opinion before making a decision on whether to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.
The government is to publish a consultation document to set up what it says will be a rigorous evaluation of the economic costs of different energy sources, including fossil fuels as well as renewable and nuclear power.
Speaking at a launch event for the three-month consultation attended by representatives from the industry, business and environment bodies and other stakeholders in central London, Mr Johnson, said “I want the widest possible engagement in this vital debate. We need to look at the risks to security of supply, our climate change commitments and, to the long term, to make sure we take the necessary action. There is not a do nothing option.”
He said: "The review is about looking long term on the basis of this changing environment of the fact that . . . we are now a net importer of gas and will soon be a net importer of oil; where do we stand in the UK, how can we prepare for that and how can we ensure we've got a sensible energy policy?"
He described himself as neutral on nuclear power, seeing arguments on both sides, but agreed that the government would "bite the nuclear bullet" soon, saying: "We are looking to produce proposals by late summer."
The review, led by Malcolm Wicks, energy minister, is due to report back to the prime minister in the early summer. A white paper setting out the government's thinking is expected soon afterwards. However, legislation is not needed to build nuclear plants, and it is unclear whether a bill would follow.
Some ministers and officials at Downing Street and the Department of Trade and Industry believe there is a strong case for at least some limited construction of nuclear plants. They want to look at what can be done to relax planning rules and speed up licensing of new plants. The government is to consider what incentives could encourage demand for nuclear power.
The EEF manufacturers' group has urged the government to move quickly, arguing that sharp increases in the price of gas have accentuated the need for urgency.
In its submission to the review, released today, it suggests exempting nuclear power from the climate change levy and replacing the renewables obligation subsidy with one that applies to all low-carbon forms of energy.

U.K. opens debate on nuclear power

U.K. opens debate on nuclear power

LONDON, England (UPI) -- The British government launched a consultation on whether to build a new generation of nuclear power stations Monday; but critics said the review was simply a smokescreen for a decision that had already been taken.
Ministers cited recent rises in energy prices and concerns over security as reasons for the renewed interest in the nuclear option, which comes just three years after officials concluded that replacing Britain`s ageing plants would be too expensive.
Speaking at the launch of the three-month consultation, Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson said the decision whether to invest in nuclear energy could no longer be delayed.
'In a world of heightened concerns about energy security, highlighted by the recent dispute between Russia and the Ukraine, we need to look carefully at the risks of this new situation,' he said.
By 2020, the coal and nuclear power plants generating some 30 percent of Britain`s electricity were expected to have closed, Johnson said. Decisions had to be taken on how to replace this capacity, he continued, asking: 'If gas, as well as renewables, were to fill the gap, how comfortable will we be relying on imports for 80 percent of our supplies?'
But opposition parties and environmental campaigners said the review was intended to do nothing more than justify Prime Minister Tony Blair`s opinion that nuclear energy was the best option.
Media reports have suggested Blair has already made up his mind on the issue; a claim Downing Street has denied.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary Norman Baker said this was an energy review 'without a purpose.'
'This review is simply a retrospective way of justifying the prime minister`s wish to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, something the earlier white paper did not recommend,' he said.
Britain could have an energy mix that both kept the lights on and secured supply without having to resort to nuclear power, he added.
Greenpeace Director Stephen Tindale said the review was 'a spin operation for nuclear power, a form of electricity generation that is the most expensive way to boil water ever devised.'
'The U.K. has an electricity grid designed seventy years ago that wastes most of the fuel we put into it,' he said. 'What we need is an energy revolution, a grid that lets renewable schemes and energy efficiency measures meet their full potential.'
Britain`s grid wasted enough energy to heat all the buildings and water in the country, Tindale continued.
'A new generation of nuclear power stations would cement this system in place, preventing the development of a decentralized grid and stifling renewable energy generation,' he said.
Nuclear power plants were also highly vulnerable to terrorist attack, he argued.
At the time of the government`s previous energy White Paper in 2003, ministers such as then Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt dismissed the nuclear option as unviable.
'There are real problems with nuclear power. The economics are not at all attractive at the moment... and of course there are huge problems with radioactive waste,' she said in February 2003.
Building a new generation of nuclear power stations would guarantee that the necessary investment in energy efficiency and renewables was not made, she added.
However the new consultation paved for the way for a U-turn, saying: 'The review will examine whether recent changes in energy prices have changed that assessment and at the other issues that would be raised by building new nuclear power stations.'

But Malcolm Wicks, the energy minister, insisted there were no practical obstacles to a new generation of nuclear power.
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, he said: 'Some people suggest it`s all so complicated economically; it will cost so much; there are all sorts of difficulties about waste; that markets will not go anywhere near this. My judgment is they are dead wrong. A lot of major companies are very interested in investing in nuclear.'
Wicks said he could not understand the idea that investment in nuclear would negate the commitment to renewables. 'The environmental lobby should at least consider the possibility that the most effective way for energy supply to help us through climate change is nuclear, rather than somehow thinking being green is anti-nuclear.'
However he insisted the decision to go nuclear had not already been taken. The government was 'nuclear-neutral,' he said.
Copyright 2006 by United Press International

BBC NEWS | Business | BNFL to sell US power plant arm

BBC NEWS Business BNFL to sell US power plant arm

Bosses at British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) will meet this Thursday to agree the sale of its US subsidiary Westinghouse, which builds nuclear power stations.
According to the Financial Times, Japanese conglomerate Toshiba has won the auction with a $5bn (£2.8bn) offer.
It said Toshiba had beaten bids from US group General Electric and Japanese rival Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
More countries are looking at nuclear energy as they look to tackle rising fuel costs and cut carbon emissions.
Overseas contracts
Engineering group Toshiba makes a range of products from hi-tech memory chips and flat-panel TVs to heavy plant machinery.
It already designs and builds nuclear power stations in Japan, but a deal for Westinghouse would enhance its chances of winning contracts overseas.
"Nuclear power generation is said to be vital to support power demand in such fast-growing countries as India and China," said Takeo Miyamoto, an analyst at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets.
"The deal would help heighten Toshiba's chance to win contracts in those nations."
Toshiba is expected to invite a US partner to take a minority stake in Westinghouse, possibly engineering group Shaw.
Westinghouse was bought by BNFL for $1.1bn in 1999. It employs 9,000 people and has annual sales of about $1.8bn.
The Westinghouse sale will provide a windfall for the UK Treasury.
But industry experts have expressed concern that such an asset is being sold off when the demand for new nuclear power stations is set to surge.
The UK government has just launched a three-month public consultation into the UK's future energy needs and has asked the Health and Safety Executive to examine the safety, cost and suitability of the country's existing nuclear power stations.
State-owned BNFL operates four active UK power stations and seven that are being decommissioned.

Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online

Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online

By Sam Knight and PA news
Britain must decide this year whether or not to "open the door" to a new generation of nuclear power stations, the Government said today.
Launching a three-month public consultation to discuss the future of Britain's energy supply, the Trade and Industry Secretary, Alan Johnson, said that it was time to decide how to replace the waning coal-fired and nuclear power stations that supply up to 30 per cent of the country's energy needs.
With fuel prices increasing more quickly than expected and declining oil and gas reserves in the North Sea, Mr Johnson said the UK must decide whether to import up to 80 per cent of its energy supplies from abroad or to build new nuclear plants.
"I want the widest possible engagement in this vital debate. We need to look at the risks to security of supply, our climate change commitments and, to the long term, to make sure we take the necessary action," he said. "There is not a do-nothing option."
Mr Johnson said the recent gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine and the general concentration of oil and gas reserves in the Middle East and former Soviet republics had raised the fears of those concerned about Britain's reliance on imported energy.
"If gas, as well as renewables, were to fill the gap, how comfortable will we be relying on imports for 80 per cent of our supplies?" he asked.
On the question of nuclear power, which the Government's 2003 Energy White Paper described as a possible but "unattractive option" to solve Britain's energy needs, Mr Johnson said that the door had been left "ajar" two years ago.
"It is now the time look at whether we need to close the door or open the door and also look at developments since 2003," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Power stations that supply around a third of Britain's energy are due to close by 2020. According to today's consultation document, renewable energy sources that currently provide 3.6 per cent of the country's needs will supply 20 per cent by 2020, but a huge deficit will remain.
Tony Blair launched a wide-ranging review of Britain's energy policy in November. Although the Government remains officially neutral on the outcome of the review, opposition MPs and environmental campaigners say that Mr Blair is convinced that building new nuclear power stations is the only way to secure future energy demands.
As it emerged today that the Health and Safety Executive had been ordered to study health concerns surrounding Britain's power stations - and the implications of new nuclear plants - critics insisted that the Government had already made up its mind.
But Mr Johnson insisted that the Government was approaching today's consultation with an "open mind" and stressed that the answer to the nuclear question was just one of many elements in securing the right mix for Britain's energy supply.
The 80-page consultation document said increasingly efficient coal-burning power stations, expensive oil and new techniques for storing carbon emissions underground could lead to a possible resurgence for coal-fired energy.
Malcolm Wicks, the Energy Minister in charge of the Government's review, added that day-to-day electricity savings could also contribute to controlling Britain's energy demand. Energy worth around £740 million is squandered every year by domestic appliances needlessly left on, said Mr Wicks.
But Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, accused the Government of window-dressing a decision that has already been made.
"This review is simply a retrospective way of justifying the Prime Minister’s wish to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, something the earlier white paper did not recommend," he said.
"TheGovernment is all too aware that the UK can have an energy mix which keeps the lights on and secures supply that does not include nuclear power."
Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said a new series of nuclear stations were unnecessary and that the answer to Britain's needs lay in increased efficiency and renewable energy.
"UK energy policy is at a crossroads," he said. "We can tackle climate change and meet our energy needs by cutting waste, harnessing the power of renewables and using fossil fuels more efficiently."
"The Government must set us on the path to a clean, safe and sustainable future and turn its back once and for all on the failed, dangerous and expensive experiment of nuclear power."
Greenpeace accused the Government of launching a "spin operation" rather than a substantive review of energy policy.
"The UK has an electricity grid designed 70 years ago that wastes most of the fuel we put into it. What we need is an energy revolution, a grid that lets renewable schemes and energy efficiency measures meet their full potential," said the group's executive director, Stephen Tindale.
"Instead the Government has launched a spin operation for nuclear power, a form of electricity generation that is the most expensive way to boil water ever devised."