Posted by: doug308 | March 25, 2011

How Will Japan Affect Nuclear Power Growth

In the wake of the recent natural disasters in Japan one of the questions that has arisen is “How will these events affect the growth of nuclear power generation?”. Well, in my opinion that sort of depends on whether you’re talking about the domestic U.S. market or the global market and whether you are looking at things in the long term or the short term.

In the short term I think both globally and domestically there will be a general pause to evaluate the safety of existing plants and the regulatory issues associated with ensuring that safety. From a jobs standpoint that means the need for more inspectors, specialists in structural and material safety and folks with substantial experience dealing with U.S. and international regulatory groups. The proof of that being that GE has already tapped into a network of of more than 1000 retired professionals to help deal with the current crisis.

In the long term I think the US, despite the fact that we are trying to do away with coal-fired power, will use this as an excuse to continue to drag its feet with respect to new construction. Though low natural gas prices certainly contribute to that as well. Internationally I doubt that events at the Fukishima plants will have any lasting affect on new construction. Especially in China which has eight or so plants under current construction and many more in the planning stages. The simple truth of the matter being that much of the developing world simply does not have the power capacity to support it’s present economic and population growth projections. And combined with the world’s aversion to coal-fired power plants and I just can’t imagine places like Asia and the Middle East putting the brakes on things.

All of these opinions are subject to change depending on the ultimate results of event at Fukishima. But ultimately in terms of facts, the damage caused by every nuclear accident in history doesn’t even come close to the environmental issues created by coal-fired plants on a daily basis. So while the demise of King Coal is greatly exaggerated, I think Nukes are on the charts with a bullet.

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