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Go nuclear for Earth Day?

Rachel Kyte's picture

Tomorrow is Earth Day. This week the airwaves and the column inches have been stacked with bits and pieces of what should be a strategic energy debate - from the global political to the personal.

Here in Washington, NPR's morning edition carried an interesting piece on South Africa's nuclear energy capacity. The airwaves are jammed with nuclear proliferation debate focused on weapons capability more than energy needs. Gorbachev, now head of Green Cross International and the man in charge when Chernobyl leaked, doesn't say no to nuclear energy. And Turkey announces its plan to develop nuclear energy.

Turning to the personal, there was a fascinating op-ed in the NY Times by Jamie Lincoln Kitman about the truths and myths of hybrid cars and the incentives that may prove to be perverse and a new poll in the UK shows that public opinion is warming to nuclear energy.

Into this cauldron we have launched the 2005 IFC Sustainability Report showing our investments in sustainable energy growing, but there is much more we can do. There is substantial low hanging fruit in helping improve the energy efficiency for our portfolio clients. For new business, installing cleaner technologies and processes counts. At the same time watch this space for new structured finance carbon products, new financial products for local banks in emerging markets to lend for energy efficiency and cleaner energy choices in housing finance, as well as corporate finance. And then there is the ever present need to find ways to make commercially viable renewable energy in emerging markets and/or to find ways to apply subsidy at the appropriate place to ensure that renewable energy grows as a source of energy, and meets the needs of the poor.

There is much to be done to find ways to light, heat and power the bottom of the pyramid: the world's 2 billion people who live in poverty. But should we support nuclear energy in emerging markets to diversify and green energy supply? That debate remains to be had.

Comments

Submitted by Ron Anderson on
Investment in nuclear power is a no brainer. If you want the developing world not to repeat our errors of burning carbon, nuclear is a clear option. Waste management in the nuclear sector is a technical challenge with social undertones, while waste management in the fossil fuel sector involves changing long standing social behavior in not managing CO2!!!.

Submitted by Manuel on
Hello I comes from Austria and by coincidence into the Blog came, you writes here over a Intressantes topic at opportunity would like I with it to enter more in greater detail and express, but to me still different Blogs regard to I defenitiv commit myself. Until soon and kind regards from the alpine country Manuel.

Submitted by mora on
investment in nuclear power is iressponsible, in the the sense that nobody know how to recycle its waste. the only way known until now is to dump it underwater and let it there for says 20 years. why don't try to use renewable energy. can you find a way to make electronic car more economical than oil energy car, for example. Maybe, we can find solution to economising the uneconomical energy. sooner or later we will run out of oil however.

Someone who writes that "Chernobyl leaked" makes an unethical statement. Chernobyl first exploded and then emitted tons of radioactive material into the atmosphere. It will cause between 10 000 and 100 000 casualties and hundreds of thousands more of people had their life uprooted. Talking about a "leak" is sick.

Submitted by Ares on
Being accurate, it was the primary pressure vessel what exploded in Chernobyl (steam explosion), blowing off part of the roof. This allowed the leak of part of the graphite moderator and some fission products into the atmosphere (most of the fuel remained within the melted core). The issue of Nuclear Power should be analyzed from a scientific and technical point of view. After all, the deaths due to chemical industry accidents are far more numerous than those due to nuclear accidents (i.e. the Bophal catastrophe, and we still use glue, rubber and pesticides). Therefore, the stress should be put into guaranteeing the safety of nuclear installations, for example, by promoting reactor designs with large negative void and temperature coefficients. The issue of the waste can be solved by the so-called Transmutation of Nuclear Waste, for example in Accelerator-Driven Systems. This technology has been technically proven and only requires some political will to be put into practise. Summarizing, this issue should be dealt with in a less-religious, more technical manner. Nuclear power is a proven of CO2-free energy source, which will provide developing countries with affordable power, as China and India have already realized.

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