Nuclear Power Forum an expensive and risky distraction from real solutions

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Feature story - December 10, 2010
Greenpeace today held a protest at the opening of the Nuclear Power Forum Philippines in Manila, to call upon President Aquino’s government to abandon its pursuit of nuclear energy in favour of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures to meet the country's electricity demands. Greenpeace warned the delegates at the conference that any investment in the risk–ridden nuclear power sector would endanger national economy as well as the safety of Filipino citizens.

Bearing a large banner that read “Nuclear is not the answer”, Greenpeace activists aboard inflatable boats approached the venue of the forum from Manila Bay, to send a direct message to government and industry delegates gathering at the Nuclear Power Forum to discuss financing of Philippine nuclear programs.

“This nuclear forum is a bad joke – and the Filipino people aren’t laughing. Whether you’re talking about investment costs or consumer costs, nuclear energy is the most expensive source of electricity. The fragile state of the global economy, and our own vulnerable economy, illustrate that it is crucial for the government and institutions to make smart financial decisions particularly for large scale, long-term projects”. said Amalie Obusan, Climate & Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“Historical and recent experiences from other countries show that nuclear development is an economic liability. The Philippines, indeed any country, should not be made to suffer expensive delays and ballooning costs associated with nuclear power – as well as the liabilities that this dangerous power source brings,” she added.

Nuclear power is expensive and takes too long to build. Initial investment costs of nuclear plants increase two to three times higher than originally forecast [1]. According to the industry’s own Nuclear Power Forum, the costs of building seven new reactors and the rehabilitation of one power plant run to approximately US$22 billion [2]. Costs of constructing nuclear power plants already run in the billions, are still subject to massive cost overruns and delays, while decommissioning of plants can cost up to tens of billions of dollars, and the cost of radioactive waste storage, which must be maintained for hundreds of thousands of years, is impossible to estimate.

Multilateral development banks do not fund nuclear power, due to what they identify as investment and safety risks.  The World Bank has stopped financing nuclear plants since 1999 because they are “uneconomic”[3], and the Asian Development Bank in 2009 reaffirmed its policy of “non-involvement” in the financing of nuclear power generation [4].

The substantial risk of accidents with nuclear power plants also means that no insurance company will agree to cover their liability for full damage. A major accident could cost hundreds of billions of Euros - the total Chernobyl cost is estimated to be € 358 billion, for example – and this cost becomes the liability of governments and taxpayers.

In addition, decommissioning and the waste management required for many years afterwards are costs largely carried by the state.

Various financing and economic institutions, such as Citigroup Global Markets, Fitch Ratings, and Moody’s Corporate Finance, list significant risks related to new nuclear investments [5].  Standard & Poor’s concluded that for new nuclear construction projects: ’risks remain uncertain but significant’ [6].

Renewable energies, on the other hand, have truly limitless sources, can be more easily deployed in remote, underdeveloped areas, present absolutely no risk to global security, and are environment-friendly.

Wind power, as an example, is the fastest growing energy source in the world, and is now far cheaper than nuclear.  For the same investment, wind generates more electricity and offers more jobs.  In recent years, over 6,000 megawatts of wind generation have been installed every year in Europe – the equivalent of two or three nuclear power plants.

“Investments in nuclear power actually undermine climate protection by diverting urgently needed resources away from clean and safe renewable power investments. We need an energy system that can fight not only climate change, but addresses energy security based on renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Nuclear cannot deliver that. Greenpeace is alarmed at how swiftly the current administration has back-pedalled in terms of its nuclear policy.  Just in July this year, President Aquino has publicly announced that his administration is not keen on reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).  Yet in a matter of months, investors are now being invited to visit BNPP in a bid to win over investors and get the plant running by 2014. This is unacceptable.  Greenpeace calls for financial support and technological cooperation for sustainable energy investments . Nuclear power is not an option,” Obusan concluded.


Notes to editors:

[1] Mycle Schneider, Steve Thomas, Antony Froggatt, Doug Koplow, ‘The
World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2009 – with particular emphasis on economic issues’, August 2009

[2]  “Nuclear Power Central”, Nuclear Power Forum Philippines.

[3] World Bank, 1999, Environmental Assessment Sourcebook, Chapter 10: Energy and Industry

[4] Energy Policy, Asian Development Bank, 2009

[5] Citigroup Global Markets, “Nuclear Energy – State of the Debate, Citi Investment Research, London,
6 June 2008; Fitch Ratings, ‘US Nuclear Power: Credit Implications’ New York, 2 November 2006 ; Moody’s Corporate Finance, ‘New Nuclear Generating Capacity: Potential Credit Implications for US Investor Owned Utilities’, New York, May 2008

[6] Standard & Poor’s, Rating Direct, ‘Construction Costs To Soar For New US Nuclear Power Plants’, New York, 15 October 2008

1 Comment Add comment

only planet says:

not only the nuclear power plant that they want, they are also building a massive structure for coal plant in mariveles bataan. please include this al...

Posted January 24, 2011 at 14:27 Flag abuse Reply

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