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[cdn-nucl-l] Does nuclear power have a future? Fw: Morgan's letter in the National Post
Great letter Morgan!!
Publication of this letter shows anti-nuke propaganda can be clobbered, with
effort, but the anti-nuke propaganda will continue (see reply below).
It is the full-time occupation of Energy Probe to create negative images of
nuclear energy (not a very difficult task) that are quite damaging.
Considerable patience and endurance are required to keep trashing this
propaganda with facts and positive images. It's a lot of work for just one
person. Meanwhile the National Post enjoys the publicity of the debate.
> Nuclear power has a future: AECL's Morgan Brown says Lawrence Solomon was
wrong in a recent column: Nuclear power is doing well in many countries, and
will live on. But Solomon maintains it has failed, and is on the way out
> National Post
> Thu 28 Dec 2000
> Financial Post: Editorial
> Business; Opinion
> Morgan Brown
> Nuclear Debate
> Anti-nuclear activist Larry Solomon needs to update, correct and
> clarify his statements (Nuclear Power No Defence Against a New Oil Crisis,
> Dec. 19).
> Contrary to Mr. Solomon's claim that only the Third World and
> Eastern Bloc countries are pursuing nuclear power, Japan and South Korea
> have ambitious reactor programs. South Africa is designing and preparing
> build a new, higher-efficiency reactor. In France, where 75% of the
> electricity is nuclear-generated, the market is saturated so no more
> reactors are being built. But France is exporting a lot of electricity to
> the rest of Europe. Finland, the top-ranked nuclear operating nation, is
> seriously considering building a fifth reactor, having significantly
> upgraded its present ones. It is often stated that Sweden and Germany are
> abandoning nuclear power, but Sweden has halted the process, and Germany
> developed a program that will allow the current reactors to operate to the
> end of their planned lives (more than 20 years from now).
> Nuclear-generated electricity now supplies about 12% of Canada's
> electrical generation requirements. Electricity production supplies only
> about 17% of our total annual primary energy needs, the rest being used
> transportation, heating and industrial applications. Canadian nuclear
> have delivered enough electricity to our grids to supply Canadian
> needs for three years at present consumption rates. That amount of
> electricity would have a value, at present wholesale rates, of
> Mr. Solomon claims Ontario's electricity supply is vulnerable
> because of its use of nuclear-generated electricity; more than 40% comes
> from reactors. He said nine of Ontario's 21 power reactors have produced
> power for at least 21 months. There are only 20 power reactors in Ontario,
> and eight have been shut for periods of 32 to 64 months. The four shut
> reactors at Pickering are slated for restart over the next few years,
> substantial upgrades are complete. Two of the shut Bruce reactors are
> assessed with a view to refurbishment and restart. It is because of
> reactors that Ontario has a diverse, and hence strong, electrical supply.
> Mr. Solomon's empty statement that "some or all of the remaining 12
> [reactors] could be permanently shut down should a common design problem
> surface" is worth as much as saying "natural gas prices may be higher or
> lower tomorrow."
> Ontario consumed 22% more primary energy in 1997 than in 1987,
> although its electricity consumption has increased only slightly. While
> conservation and efficiency initiatives have reduced demand somewhat, it
> a change in economy and a switch to natural gas heating that had the
> impacts on electricity consumption.
> Mr. Solomon should update his figures on the time it takes for
> reactors to be built. Darlington's four reactors were ordered in 1973, but
> construction was only started in the years 1981 through 1985, and the
> reactors were completed in 1990 through 1993. The construction time
> years lost to government reviews and strikes. Certainly, Darlington's
> construction time was long, but not the "10 to 14 years typical of nuclear
> plants" that Mr. Solomon claims. Recently, reactor construction times have
> been decreased significantly. Three CANDU reactors built in South Korea in
> the 1990s took 6.5, 5.75 and 7 years to complete from signing the
> One of those reactors took only 4.9 years from ground-breaking to
> In the U.K., the deregulated electrical system did close some coal
> plants. The U.K. did not "shut down many existing nuclear plants" as Mr.
> Solomon said. Nine years ago, there were 31 power reactors in operation.
> Since then, one reactor has been completed and five small ones were shut
> down, giving a net system capacity decrease of 0.3%. Despite this
> the U.K. reactors generated 22% more electricity in 1999 than they did in
> 1992 -- hardly the phase-out Mr. Solomon claims. The U.K. has come close
> meeting its Kyoto greenhouse gas emission targets only thanks to improved
> reactor performance.
> The oldest U.K. reactor is 44, and received a licence extension to
> 50 years. Some American reactors have already had their operating licences
> extended to 60 years, from the planned 40-year lives -- hardly the
> shutdowns Mr. Solomon claims. There is also a great deal of effort being
> spent here and abroad in plant life extension.
> Mr. Solomon is concerned with our reliance on foreign energy
> sources, particularly oil. Yet he refuses to acknowledge that nuclear
> technology should -- nay, must -- be part of the solution to energy
> energy security and environmental concerns. He claims, incredibly, that
> reactors take a long time to build and are "the most vulnerable of
> technologies," and that somehow using nuclear technology will "only make
> more dependent on Arab oil." When will Mr. Solomon and his business --
> Energy Probe -- get their collective head out of the sand and move into
> new century?
> Morgan Brown, PEng, is a research engineer at Atomic Energy
> of Canada Ltd. in Pinawa, Man.
> Nuclear industry; Nuclear power; Electric power; Nuclear
> reactors; Reaction
> National Post
and the debate continues ...
Not in a free market world
Thu 28 Dec 2000
Financial Post: Editorial
In my last column, which dealt with nuclear power's inability to respond to
another OPEC oil crisis, I made one central point: Nuclear power plants take
too many years to plan and build, and are, in any event, too prone to
system-wide failure to be part of any sensible defence against a third OPEC
oil crisis. As I noted, all the nuclear reactors that have been built in
North America were planned or under construction prior to the first OPEC oil
crisis. Although North American utilities and North American governments
proposed hundreds of new nuclear plants after both the 1974 and 1979 OPEC
oil crises to free us from dependence on Arab energy supplies, all were
cancelled before they could be built.
Morgan Brown, an employee of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., does not dispute
the historical fact of nuclear power's failure to rise to the challenge of
either OPEC oil crisis. In fact, he does not directly dispute almost
anything in my column -- most of his "corrections" correct points I did not
make. When he does directly dispute my evidence, he is entirely mistaken.
Japan is the only developed nation in the world with significant ambitions
for new nuclear power plants, but even this highly oil-dependent nation has
dramatically scaled back its plans. According to International Energy
Outlook, an official source, after the nuclear plants already under
construction are completed, Japan's nuclear industry will go into decline,
with more plants being retired after 2010 than constructed. As for the rest
of the world, less than 8% of the nuclear capacity the International Atomic
Energy Agency predicted for us in 1974 materialized. Yes, Mr. Brown is able
to point to a reactor here and there that may get built: I did not write
otherwise. And yes, in South Korea and other countries where citizens have
few rights, corners can be cut to shorten the construction time. But these
scattered instances do not make for a vibrant, growing industry. The number
of nuclear reactors in the world has peaked. In 20 years, according to the
U.S. Department of Energy, that number will be cut in half.
Mr. Brown not only misrepresents the big picture, he gets the small details
wrong as well. He claims only eight out of 20 reactors in Ontario -- not
nine of 21 as I stated -- have been shut down for an extended period of
time. The reactor he disowns is the Douglas Point reactor on Lake Huron,
started by his company in the 1950s, completed in 1968 and trumpeted as
"Canada's first full-scale nuclear-electric generating station." AECL
planned to make money by selling Douglas Point power to Ontario Hydro; then,
after proving the economic viability of the Candu reactor, it planned to
sell the station itself to Hydro.
Instead, the Douglas Point station lost money almost every year, and Hydro
refused to buy it for $1. AECL finally decided to shut it down in the early
1980s, after recognizing that even two OPEC oil crises in five years could
not justify running this loser any longer.
Mr. Brown also misleads in portraying the number of failed reactors in the
United Kingdom. The International Nuclear Safety Center, operated by the
Argonne National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, lists nine
nuclear power reactors in the U.K. that have been permanently shut down. Mr.
Brown obtains his smaller number of five by neglecting to count reactors
shut down more than nine years ago, and he further minimizes the loss of
nuclear capacity by adding a reactor whose construction was too far along to
cancel by the time a free market in power arrived in the U.K.
When competition came to the U.K.'s power sector, the efficiency of the
already-built nuclear reactors improved impressively -- this was one of the
many benefits of deregulation. But the chief benefit of the U.K.'s
deregulation was in exposing the colossal cost of building new nuclear power
plants, thus ending the nuclear industry's dreams of never-ending expansion.
As the London Observer wrote in an editorial titled "Nuclear fantasy" that
appeared Nov. 12, 1989, on the eve of deregulation:
"It has taken the cold stare of the City [London's financial district] to
penetrate the veils of secrecy and deceit that have long enveloped the
"Privatization has proved that nuclear power is hopelessly uneconomic and
saddled with decommissioning costs that no private company could accept
without huge guarantees from the Government. Yet, from the 1950s to a few
months ago, anyone who breathed the slightest doubt about its viability was
met with a blizzard of faulty figures and downright lies."
In Ontario, because we do not yet have privatization and deregulation,
money-losing Crown-owned companies such as Mr. Brown's AECL -- which has
never sold a reactor to any Western democracy -- remain free to maintain the
fiction, against all evidence, that nuclear power retains a bright future.
The London Observer's advice for Britain in 1989 applies equally well to
Canada today, where Ontario's unreliable reactors threaten the province with
blackouts: "Had the truth been known long ago, Britain's energy policy would
not now lie in ruins. For decades, the promotion of energy conservation and
research into clean sources of energy has been neglected, while money was
poured in its hundreds of millions down the nuclear drain ... The country
should construct an energy policy based on the real world, rather than a
No deregulated energy system anywhere in the world has chosen to build
nuclear reactors, and for good reason. The last 20 U.S. reactors took many
years to build -- typically more than a decade -- and cost US$3-billion to
US$4-billion each, or about US$3,000 to US$4,000 per kilowatt of capacity.
In comparison, new high-efficient gas plants using jet-engine technologies
-- the choice of today's free markets -- are built in 12 to 18 months and
come in at US$400 to US$600 per kilowatt. Wind turbines now come in at about
US$1,000. In a free market economy, or one that strives for energy security,
there is simply no room for nuclear power.