20 March 2014

Say Goodbye to nuclear energy in Europe?

Catherine Li writes:*

Due to the severe consequences of “Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster” in 2011, Germany, one of the most nuclear energy dependent European countries, has speeded up its changing process from nuclear energy to alternative energy. The government made a political decision on June 6th, 2011, that shutting down all its 17 nuclear plants by 2022. As followers, Swiss and Belgium also made similar decisions. Even France, a country highly dependent on nuclear energy, made the commitment of reducing it nuclear usage from current 75% to 50%. More other European countries, such as Ireland and Austria, they have decided even before Fukushima to be free of nuclear energy, and now Europe has a strong alliance against nuclear power. Will they bring Europe to say Goodbye to nuclear energy?

It is hard to say. On the one hand, the nuclear free countries have to find more followers within European Union, because countries like France and UK, they still have strong desire to keep or even extend their nuclear power network. On the other hand, how to minimize the cost of fulfill the vacancy by “nuclear power-off”? The countries have to pay more on discovering new alternative energy and more advanced technology. Then the tax payers will somehow undertake this cost. One analysis shows that in Germany, consumers are already bearing higher electricity prices than before.

There are still lots of challenges for whole Europe to say Goodbye to nuclear power in a short term. But I believe that what Germany and other free-nuclear countries are doing is the correct way to protect our planet and the global environment. Canada, with only one province with nuclear plants (Ontario), is worth thinking, if such kind of change would also make sense--by using more renewable resources.

Bottom Line: To protect our own planet or even individual ourselves, the transfer from nuclear energy to more renewable resource is worthwhile.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.

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