Nuclear industry takes big hit as former nuclear powers reveal plans to sharply reduce nuclear dependence

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This week, Japan and France revealed plans to sharply curb reliance on nuclear energy following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster last year.  Scientists in Japan have also heavily criticized the nation’s nuclear fuel cycle, admitting that nuclear waste can’t ever be effectively reprocessed or disposed of, just moved around.

Japan revealed a new energy policy which calls for the abolishment of nuclear power by 2030, while France produced new plans to reduce nuclear power by 23% by 2025.  France, who currently relies on nuclear energy for nearly 75% of its overall production has been dominated by nuclear energy since the 1980s.

Germany last year said it would shut down its 17 nuclear reactors by 2022, while Switzerland has approved plans to close its five reactors by 2034.  As we already reported this week, Quebec has also decided to shut down nuclear power in the province.

Japan’s nuclear workforce has been revealed to be pitifully undermanned, and still declining.  Who wants to devote their lives to an industry whose future is uncertain, and hotly contested?  This situation is not restricted to Japan, a similar trend has also been observed in the UK and the United States, both of whom are looking into partnering with their national navies in order to jointly train and develop qualified nuclear personnel in conjunction with armed forces.  The UK’s Royal Navy released a report last month which revealed there might not be enough qualified people in the future to support the manning requirement of its nuclear submarine fleet.

‘Inability to recruit, retain and develop sufficient nuclear and submarine design qualified personnel will result in an inability to support the Defence Nuclear Programme,’ it also warned.

The UK also released a report revealing that the potential of thorium as an acceptable alternative to nuclear power from uranium has been “overstated.”

“Thorium has theoretical advantages regarding sustainability, reducing radiotoxicity and reducing proliferation risk,” states the report, prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change by the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). “While there is some justification for these benefits, they are often overstated.”

The nuclear shakeup will drastically affect already meager supplies of resources and qualified employees, and experts have updated estimates of new nuclear capacity, which now are projected to fall by 12 percent by 2020.

In Japan, what has saved the country from massive rolling blackouts has not been the restart of the Ohi reactors, rather a strict appreciation for energy conservation, combined with developing more renewable sources, and restricting the industrial grip on the energy markets and promoting more independent production.

Source: Reuters

Source: JiJi Press

Source: Platts

Source: Enformable

Source: The Guardian

Source: Daily Mail

Source: JiJi Press

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