BERLIN, Jul 31 (IPS)
Climate change and the resulting need for low-carbon energy sources is driving the current interest in nuclear energy despite the industry’s near universal legacy of staggering cost-overruns, technical difficulties and dependence on enormous government subsidies.
Government interest in new nuclear energy plants seems far more political than practical or economic in light of the fact that Europe’s latest nuclear plant under construction in Finland is four years behind schedule and 50 to 70 percent over budget.
Any claims that nuclear is a viable low-carbon or clean energy source are negated by its extraordinary costs that have increased at least five-fold in the past decade.
“Nuclear energy has always been heavily subsidised by governments around the world,” Ellen Vancko, a nuclear energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a U.S.-based non governmental organisation.
Under proposed U.S. legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Waxman-Markey Energy Bill), billions more dollars are headed the nuclear industry’s way in the form of research and development funding, production tax credits, and 20 billion dollars in loan guarantees.
Added to that a major push by some politicians in the U.S. Senate to dramatically expand government-backed loan guarantees to subsidise the construction of 100 new nuclear plants in the U.S. over the next 20 years, Vancko told IPS.
“The U.S. taxpayer could be on the hook for 360 billion to 1.6 trillion dollars. This potentially is as large or larger than the U.S. financial crisis,” she says. Continue reading