Nuclear energy one year after Fukushima: no retraction of nuclear power outside Europe and Japan

March 12, 2012 | 00:00

Nuclear energy one year after Fukushima: no retraction of nuclear power outside Europe and Japan

The incident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant—the result of a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011—has re-invigorated the debate about how to meet the world’s growing demands for energy and the contribution of nuclear power to the global energy mix.

The World Energy Council has published a new report which demonstrates that the Fukushima accident has not so far led to a significant retraction in nuclear power programmes in countries outside Europe, except Japan itself. In Europe, changes in nuclear policies have only taken place in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Progress in many national programmes, especially in non-OECD countries, has been delayed, but there is no indication that their pursuit of nuclear power has declined in response to Fukushima.

The report suggests that, across all countries, greater attention is likely to be paid to aspects of safety and regulation, including both infrastructure and education, and that ambitious timelines for planning, construction, and implementation of plants may become more realistic. The incident is likely to encourage operational and technological improvements, and result in a wide range of actions and measures to improve the safety of the
technology by various governments and utilities worldwide in response to public concerns.

In terms of implementing safety and regulation, most WEC member countries showed strong political support for the adoption and convergence of international safety regulations, but this was not matched by support for the international enforcement of safety standards. However, most member countries strongly agreed that there is a need to improve public understanding and acceptance of nuclear technology, and its costs and risks.

The report suggests a process to ensure the development of minimum and harmonised international safety standards for the construction, operation, and maintenance of nuclear power: first, the establishment of an international organisation that would draw-up these standards, working with national safety agencies; second, the empowerment of this organisation to verify national adherence to these standards.

To read the full report, click here.

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