The reactor in the Swiss canton (county) of Bern may stay open until 2022, though it was previously decreed to close June 28, 2013. Since Fukushima, Switzerland has ostensibly been one of the very few countries that have decided to abandon nuclear energy as a power source. However, the county government is now taking the federal government to court for the right to keep the plant open until 2022. (The county owns a 53% stake in the utility that operates the plant.)
An article in the Nuclear Exchange Magazine stated “The canton said that forcing the immediate closure of the Mühleberg plant would not be in the interest of BKW [the utility] and the other shareholders in the company could seek compensation. “The claims for damages could amount to hundreds of millions of Swiss francs,” it said.” Could it be that the Swiss government will be forced to admit the economic folly of rejecting nuclear? Switzerland has five reactors with a capacity of 3.2 GWe.
Supposedly Germany, Japan, France and Italy have rejected nuclear in the wake of Fukushima as well. Not so fast! Each one of these situations has had its very public rejection of nuclear, followed some time later by its not-so-public, but equally committed, u-turn on those hasty decisions.
Italy had a referendum on arch-criminal Silvio Berlusconi, which just happened to include the rider of building a nuclear reactor. The referendum failed, and the NGOs heavily promoted it as a rejection of nuclear, conveniently ignoring the true substance of the vote.
Last year, France elected the socialist party, led by Francois Hollande. Hollande has back-tracked on nuclear so many times that if he concedes any more, he himself may spontaneously fission. Prior to campaigning, he supported a total rejection of nuclear. At the beginning of his campaign, he changed his tune and called for a reduction to 50% of the grid (from 75%). Later, finding that his industrial base was running – not walking – from his campaign, he backed away from that completely. Where it stands today, is that France will review its options. France currently derives 75% of its electricity from nuclear.
After Fukushima, in an access of political timidity, Japanese politicians could possibly be excused for considering an abandonment of nuclear. Clearly, no thought was given to the devastation this would render in the Japanese economy, being forced to transform overnight to a natural gas driven grid. The island nation has since had to rely on outrageously expensive gas imports. Elections in December quickly put an end to the folly, and the new PM announced publicly several times that nuclear would not be abandoned, and reactors would be turned back on “as soon as possible.” In fact, new reactors would be built. Common sense has prevailed.
That leaves Germany. Angela Merkel, who is actually the secret love child of Benny Hill and Dame Edna, without consulting a single scientist, decided to single-handedly shutdown Germany’s nuclear energy program. Large German industrials and utilities have since announced billions of euros in losses. The energy minister announced publicly that the abandonment of nuclear would cost German taxpayers one trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) by the end of the decade. Whenever a government says something will cost one trillion, then it will actually cost two. Federal elections are coming up in September, and if there is any outrage in Germany whatsoever, this post-modernist legacy offered by Merkel should be overturned.
Who else in the world loves nuclear?
The following countries put out a communique earlier this week, stating their concerted commitment to nuclear as an excellent means for meeting their EU-mandated carbon reduction targets: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK. As reported in World Nuclear News: The 12 countries stressed their belief that nuclear power “can play a part in the EU’s future low carbon energy mix”. It also noted the security of supply and economic benefits that the technology brings and called for an investment environment to be created within Europe that specifically takes into account “the long term nature of nuclear infrastructure projects.”
In total, there are at present 51 sovereign nations that are seeking to adopt nuclear power for peaceful purposes who currently do not have it. Countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia all want nuclear power.
All in favour, say, “Aye”.