Europe swings in favour of nuclear power generation

Aug 04, 2006 02:00 AM

Russia has provided Europe with one quarter of its natural gas supply so far, and when the gas pipeline pumping Russian gas to West Europe is complete by 2010, Russian gas is expected to account for half of the market share there.
Europe is likely to become more and more dependant on the sole energy supply, which would doubtlessly deteriorate the energy crisis in Europe. Apart from that, the fact that international oil price has risen to a new record of over $ 70 again and again further compels Europe to find an alternative energy source.

The circumstance some 20 years ago forced many Europeans to say "No" to nuclear power stations. However, the current energy situation makes those environmentalists who vehemently opposed nuclear development in the past turn to nuclear power.
The East European countries that have been living in the shadow of Chernobyl nuclear disaster also expressed their attitude of welcome towards the nuclear power generation.

As a kind of brand new energy, the nuclear power suddenly came into the forefront in the 1960's and advanced by leaps and bounds in the 1970's. However due to the shrinking demand on electricity in light of the rapid development of energy-saving technology in some industrialized countries, the development of nuclear power has also been affected.
In particular after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the US and the Chernobyl nuclear leakage in former Soviet Union, the use of nuclear power has drawn strong criticism from environmentalists and "Green Parties" in some West European countries. The fact that some European countries decided to shut down the nuclear power station in their countries such as Sweden, Germany and Belgium marked that the development of global nuclear energy had entered a period of all-time low.

In Europe, Germany is a country with the strongest opposition to nuclear power. According to the agreement reached between German government and nuclear power enterprises, the country will comprehensively terminate thenuclear power generation before 2020. However, the nuclear power generation now occupies a pivotal position in Germany, taking up some 30 % of the total electricity generated.
Some German politicians and enterprises have started to consider extension for the use of nuclear power due to the fact that alternative energy still can not make up for the shortage of the country's power supply. The result of the discussion now is still unknown. However Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed at an energy summit in capital Berlin that there were no restricted areas in solving the country's energy crisis. The issue that nuclear power was treated as a restricted zone has once again been put forward.

Swedish Parliament decided to close all nuclear power stations by 2010 through a popular referendum in 1980. However the Swedes now hold that the referendum results from the past are not appropriate for now due to the changing situation. People doubt whether the Scandinavian country can find an alternative energy before theshutdown of all the nuclear power stations.
Meanwhile, the Swedes have felt more and more anxious about the negative impact of the greenhouse effect brought by thermal power generation upon the earth, and paid more attention to the clear and cheap nuclear power. Furthermore, the advancement of technology has also lowered the danger of nuclear power station greatly. That is why 80 % of the Swedes wanted to keep nuclear power stations amid the implementation of the government's plan.

So far, 12 nuclear power stations in the UK supply 23 % of the electricity consumption for the Western Europe island country, and only one of them will be retained by 2025 according to scheduled plan. If the thermal power stations closed in the past were taken into consideration, the UK would see 30 % reduction of its power generation by then.
The electricity generated through such alternative resources as wind power and solar energy can only take up 20 % of the nation’s total, and some experts are still pessimistic about the target. British Prime Minister Tony Blair held that further exploitation of nuclear power must be enforced, and it was the only feasible way to reduce dependence on natural gas imports by replacing gas power generation with nuclear power generation.

It is said that 80 % of the power supply in France, a major exporter of electricity in Europe, comes from nuclear power generation. There are about 58 nuclear power stations in the country and one third of them are old and inefficient. French president Jacques Chirac once said that the oil issue would be one that caused the global wide concern in the 21st century.
Being the world's second largest country in terms of nuclear power generation, France needs to make a further endeavour to meet the new challenges and maintain the leading position. Therefore, France will initiate the design and construction plan for the fourth generation nuclear power station.

Countries across Europe have become more and more aware of the importance of nuclear power.While addressing the "European Forum on Science" on July 16th, a high-ranking official with Europe Union (EU) pointed out that nuclear energy will be the best alternative for petrol-chemical fuel and option to satisfy global energy demand for next decades.
Some experts believe that the early period of nuclear development would cost a lot and the nuclear safety standard still needs improving. When considering from a long-term point of view, nuclear power is the best way for European countries to explore energy, because measures to popularize renewable energy, raise efficiency as well as curb waste can not satisfy Europe's future demand on energy.

Source: People's Daily Online
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