InterviewAfter the disaster, the nuclear industry experienced a significant brake at the global level, without being on the verge of extinction, explains the director of the energy center of the French Institute of International Relations.
Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, director of the energy center of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), discusses the consequences on the nuclear industry of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011.
What was the situation in the nuclear industry before the accident? Has Fukushima put a stop to its development?
Before Fukushima, nuclear power enjoyed keen interest from certain countries, first for reasons of security of electricity supply: it was more about countries, such as Vietnam, India, Indonesia. or Pakistan, which had a very strong growth in their electricity needs – in the order of 10% increase each year. For many of these countries, nuclear was becoming an attractive option for producing a lot of electricity in a very concentrated way, without depending on oil and gas imports.
The Fukushima accident interrupts this dynamic but, in reality, it is not the only cause of this shift. It comes at a pivotal moment. On the one hand, it is the period when renewable energies enter a phase of massification, industrial and economic. On the other hand, we are starting to encounter difficulties in the construction of power plants, particularly in the United States and France.
Immediately after the accident, several countries withdrew from nuclear projects and especially Germany decided to exit completely …
Angela Merkel decides to speed up the exit – a decision taken a decade earlier – quickly and unilaterally. Two other European countries, Switzerland and Belgium, are also initiating a process of phasing out nuclear power. We will also see the consequences of these post-Fukushima decisions in the coming years in Europe: Germany still has to shut down six reactors by the end of 2022, Belgium seven by the end of 2025. C is considerable.
In Japan, a country where the nuclear industry is very strong, the cessation of nuclear power causes a very sharp rise in electricity prices and a very large import of hydrocarbons. Electricity is becoming almost the most expensive in the world and greenhouse gas emissions exploded in 2012 and 2013. Japan had to wait until 2016 to return to a level of emissions comparable to what it was before the accident.
What has the Fukushima accident changed in the nuclear world?
From an industrial point of view, safety requirements have obviously been tightened, which entails significant additional costs. Fukushima has made nuclear more expensive. The accident also showed the importance of safety authorities and transparency, but also the differences in approaches from one country to another.
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