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En septiembre de 2016, con el acuerdo para desarrollar el proyecto Hinkley Point C, se inicia en el Reino Unido un nuevo ciclo inversor en reactores nucleares de tercera generación que el gobierno británico prevé conducirá a un parque de generación nuclear del orden de 14 Gw en 2035. En este documento de trabajo se examina este programa nuclear, en gran medida una singularidad en Europa Occidental, desde una perspectiva limitada a la política energética británica y, más concretamente, desde el nuevo marco para la política energética en el sector eléctrico que representa la “reforma eléctrica” incluida en la Energy Act 2013.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last month, the British government signed off on what might be the most controversial and least promising plan for a nuclear power station in a generation.

Why did it do this? Because the project isn’t just about energy: It’s also a stealth initiative to bolster Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

For years, the British government has been promoting a plan to build two so-called European Pressurized Reactors (EPR) at Hinkley Point C, in southwest England.

It estimates that the facility will produce about 7 percent of the nation’s total electricity from 2025, the year it is expected to be completed. The EPR’s designer, Areva, claims that the reactor is reliable, efficient and so safe that it could withstand a collision with an airliner.…  Seguir leyendo »

The New Atomic Age We Need

This past summer, the Group of 7 nations promised “urgent and concrete action” to limit climate change. What actions exactly? Activists hope for answers from the coming United Nations climate conference in Paris, which begins Monday. They should look instead to Washington today.

The single most important action we can take is thawing a nuclear energy policy that keeps our technology frozen in time. If we are serious about replacing fossil fuels, we are going to need nuclear power, so the choice is stark: We can keep on merely talking about a carbon-free world, or we can go ahead and create one.…  Seguir leyendo »

Public opinion is still firmly anti-nuclear. Christopher Jue / EPA

The G7 leaders' pledge to eliminate the use of fossil fuels as an energy source by century’s end could be the most significant outcome of the most recent meeting. It also reinforces German host Angela Merkel’s claim to be the “climate chancellor”.

As is customary with such pledges, however, the announcement was short on specifics and it’s really not clear how reductions in fossil fuel usage can be achieved. After all, disasters at Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011 have made key G7 members considerably less enthusiastic about nuclear power, one obvious alternative.

Both Germany and Japan have crucial roles to play over the coming decades in facing up to these challenges.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators protesting the construction of a fourth nuclear plant, in front of Taipei Railway station in Taipei April 28, 2014. (Stringer/Taiwan/Reuters)

Tackling climate change using all the technologies we have will be hard enough. Trying to do it while swearing off nuclear power would be plainly ridiculous. That’s the lesson from Taiwan, a densely packed island state with few natural resources and a rising aversion to reactors.

Taiwan “cannot really be picky about energy,” President Ma Ying-jeou told me in an interview this week. But the Taiwanese behave as though they can. Taiwan faces many constraints, some natural, some self-imposed, explained Chien You-hsin, a former environmental minister: Most people understand that greenhouse-gas emissions warm the planet, but they fear nuclear power, refuse to live near onshore wind turbines, insist that offshore wind platforms not disturb aquatic habitats and lack wide-open spaces for solar generation.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Alice said to the White Queen in “Alice Through the Looking Glass” that “one can’t believe impossible things,” the queen replied, “Why I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Creationists, who believe the world was created 4004 years before the Christian era, are like the White Queen. So, of course, are Japanese politicians who sometimes still seem to believe the myths about the divine creation of Japan and its Imperial family.

Unfortunately there are intelligent and educated people who, while not believing totally impossible things, tend to believe what they want to believe.

In this category are those who reject the scientific evidence about the effects of carbon emissions on climate.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week a leaked draft of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that climate change will have severe ramifications for the global food supply, making it harder for crops to survive and leading to rising food prices.

This report, scheduled for publication in March, provides the latest evidence of the dramatic impacts that the shifting climate is already beginning to have on the planet and on human societies.

Clearly, climate change is a global challenge unlike any other we face, which is why I, along with a small but growing number of progressives, support a unique and potentially surprising solution to it.…  Seguir leyendo »

It is two years since Japan’s 9.0- magnitude earthquake, one so powerful it shifted the position of the Earth’s figure axis by as much as 6 inches and moved Honshu, Japan’s main island, 8 feet eastward. The tsunami generated by the earthquake obliterated towns, drowned almost 20,000 people and left more than 300,000 homeless. Everyone living within 15 miles of Fukushima was evacuated; many are still in temporary housing. Some will never be able to return home.

More than 300,000 buildings were destroyed and another million damaged, including four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the northeast coast.…  Seguir leyendo »

A raíz del accidente en la central nuclear japonesa de Fukushima en marzo de 2011 los países de la Unión Europea decidieron revisar el estándar de seguridad de sus centrales nucleares. Durante los años 2011 y 2012 se llevaron a cabo los llamados test de estrés en 132 reactores ubicados en 14 países de la Unión Europea, además de en 15 reactores en Ucrania y cinco en Suiza.

Aunque el informe publicado por la Comisión el pasado cuatro de octubre concluye que en este momento no es necesario cerrar ninguna de las centrales europeas por razones técnicas, tampoco hace confiar mucho en los sistemas y mecanismos de seguridad establecidos.…  Seguir leyendo »

The latest tussle over red lines and deadlines on Iran’s nuclear program obscures some of the genuine dilemmas now confronting the international community.

For a long time, the major powers had hoped that imposing strenuous sanctions on Iran could produce an interlocutor willing to negotiate honestly and to adhere to an exacting arms control agreement. But time may no longer permit the patient exercise of coercive diplomacy.

To temper Iran’s nuclear ambitions we may need not one strategy but two. The immediate challenge is to obtain an agreement that imposes some limits on Iran’s more disturbing proliferation activities. However, this cannot be the end of the story, but an interim step to provide time for a strategy that broadens Tehran’s ruling coalition and injects some moderate voices into its deliberations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Summer took its own sweet time leaving Japan this year. Late into September, workers and students riding the always-busy subway cars across the vast expanse of Tokyo carried small towels to wipe away the beads of sweat that gathered on their brows. The air conditioning might have been on, but the temperatures remained stubbornly high even indoors.

Ever since the March 2011 tsunami that swept into northeastern Japan and the nuclear disaster that followed, the Japanese have had to make do with much, much less electricity.

The community-minded Japanese looked calm doing their part to deal with the crisis. But in the aftermath of the tsunami and the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan faces rising political temperatures and difficult choices.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russia and the United States are the most advanced states in terms of nuclear energy use. We have put an end to the Cold War and the arms race, including the nuclear one. Today, our coun- tries have taken a common stand for the strengthening of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and have intensified their cooperation in combating nuclear terrorism.

Russia expressed its full support for the proposal to hold a nuclear security summit (NSS) put forward by President Obama in 2009. The first summit took place in 2010 in Washington. We reaffirm our political commitments stated in its communique. Russia has signed and ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its amendment, as well as the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, adopted by the international community at Russia’s initiative.…  Seguir leyendo »

I grew up in Arvada, Colo., in the shadow of a nuclear bomb factory, so I read the just-released report on the Fukushima meltdown in Japan with special interest. Coinciding with the first anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the 400-page report details the extensive misinformation supplied to the public by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) in collusion with Japanese officials.

The Japanese government’s failure to warn citizens about radioactive danger put the entire city of Tokyo at health risk — and the rest of us as well. The report, which was written by an independent investigative panel established by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (published March 1 in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists), bluntly states that the much vaunted “absolute safety” of nuclear power is no more than a “twisted myth.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Gráfico B. Escenarios de DBCCA en 2030 (peso en la electricidad generada)

Tema

Este Documento de Trabajo analiza las posibles repercusiones del accidente de Fuskushima de marzo de 2011 y de la desnuclearización progresiva de Japón en la seguridad energética de un país con una muy elevada dependencia externa.

Introducción

Japón es un actor muy importante en los mercados energéticos mundiales: cuarto mayor consumidor de energía, primer importador de gas natural, carbón y derivados del petróleo y tercer mayor importador de crudo. La razón principal es que no posee apenas recursos propios, por lo que debe importar más del 80% de la energía que consume[1].

Otra característica destacada del país es su alto grado de eficiencia energética.…  Seguir leyendo »

A partir de 2022, Alemania abandonará la energía nuclear y hasta entonces seguirá invirtiendo más si cabe en una transformación sustancial de su política energética. De este modo, Alemania vuelve a acelerar la marcha hacia un sistema energético sostenible y un abastecimiento generalizado con energías renovables. Al tomar esta decisión nos autoimponemos una ambiciosa tarea. Queremos marcar de manera duradera e irreversible las pautas para un suministro energético limpio, asequible y seguro.

En Alemania esta decisión cuenta con un respaldo social mayoritario. A lo largo de los años se mantuvo un intenso debate sobre el uso civil de la energía nuclear.…  Seguir leyendo »

Debate about America’s energy supply is heating up: gas prices are rising, ethanol is under attack and nuclear power continues to struggle in the shadow of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

But an abundant, safe and clean energy source once thought to be the stuff of science fiction is closer than many realize: nuclear fusion. Making it a reality, however, will take significant investment from the government at a time when spending on scientific research is under threat.

Harnessing nuclear fusion, the energy that powers the sun and the stars, has been a goal of physicists worldwide since the 1950s. It is essentially inexhaustible and it can be created using hydrogen isotopes — chemical cousins of hydrogen, like deuterium — that can readily be extracted from seawater.…  Seguir leyendo »

Meses después de que los devastadores terremoto y maremoto del 11 de marzo azotaran al Japón, el actual desastre nuclear en Fukushima agrava la tragedia en materia humanitaria e impide la recuperación. Los reactores dañados y los estanques de combustible gastado contienen unas diez veces más combustible nuclear que el reactor de Chernóbil que estalló en 1986. En tres reactores, el combustible se ha fundido, casi con toda certeza a través de las vasijas de reacción; se han abierto brechas en las estructuras de contención primaria; las explosiones han destrozado la contención secundaria (los edificios); continúan las emisiones radioactivas y no se ha restablecido el enfriamiento en bucle cerrado.…  Seguir leyendo »

Os habéis quedado solos, afirma el ecologista estadounidense Stewart Brandt, con referencia a los planes de Alemania de abandonar la energía nuclear. Y añade: Alemania actúa de forma irresponsable. No podemos renunciar a la energía nuclear por razones económicas y por la amenaza de los gases de efecto invernadero.

Sería absurdo suponer que Alemania, al decidir dar un vuelco a su política energética, se despide del concepto europeo de modernidad y se adentra en las oscuras y boscosas raíces de su historia intelectual. No es la irracionalidad alemana la que ha ganado, sino la fe en la capacidad de aprendizaje y creatividad de la modernidad en el trato con los peligros de los que ella misma es responsable.…  Seguir leyendo »

La fusión en la planta nuclear de Fukushima envió réplicas políticas que recorren el planeta. Sin embargo, la mayoría de las veces, las sacudidas fueron ideológicas, sin ninguna base científica.

Los gerentes de Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), que opera los reactores de Fukushima, fueron criticados justamente por usar una generación antigua de generadores mal mantenidos. Los japoneses, que se consideran los mejores ingenieros del mundo, ahora se sienten humillados.

Sin embargo, a pesar de las protestas callejeras, la reacción colectiva en Japón no fue repudiar la energía nuclear. Después de todo, el accidente de Fukushima afectó seriamente sólo a unas pocas personas -probablemente menos de una docena de trabajadores están irradiados a niveles peligrosos-.…  Seguir leyendo »

Justo antes de que comenzara la cuarta cumbre trilateral entre Japón, China y Corea del Sur el 21 de mayo, el premier chino, Wen Jiabao, el presidente surcoreano, Lee Myung-bak, y el primer ministro japonés, Naoto Kan, conjuntamente visitaron las zonas afectadas por el Gran Terremoto del Este de Japón, en una señal de aliento para las víctimas del desastre que viven en los centros de evacuación. Desde el accidente en la Planta de Energía Nuclear Fukushima Daiichi en marzo, Kan apuntó a que se levantaran las prohibiciones que muchos países impusieron a las importaciones de productos agrícolas japoneses, y así ofreció a los dos jefes de Estado cerezas de Fukushima con la intención de poner de relieve su seguridad.…  Seguir leyendo »