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What Nuclear Loses, Green Gains

Tiny Switzerland (population 7 million) is speaking with a loud voice, and its anti-nuclear demonstrators are being heard across the world. The country has decided to place a permanent ban on the building of new nuclear facilities as the fallout (metaphorical) from the March earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan continues to spread worldwide.

If your company supplies components or is a contractor to the nuclear industry then you need to take urgent steps expand your market and sales targets outside that sector. To state the obvious, the global nuclear industry is under siege, and there are indications the flood of negative press is certain to grow as the anti-nuclear forces rack up wins across the world.

Switzerland joined the growing list of nations declining to issue permits for new nuclear facilities this week. Acceding to pressure from opponents of nuclear energy, the country's government said it would allow the five reactors it now operates to serve out their estimated life spans, with the last expected to cease operations by 2034.

This was a major coup for the anti-nuclear forces, considering Switzerland currently generates 40 percent of its energy needs from nuclear plants. What will replace this? The government doesn't yet have an answer but it is urgently searching for one.

That's where the electronics industry comes in. Rather than fight what is a gathering storm of anti-nuclear sentiment, high-tech companies and their component suppliers should instead be focusing their resources on finding ways to make the alternate power industry even more viable and profitable. While the Swiss example may appear extreme, the reality is that across the world opposition to nuclear energy is reaching boiling point (metaphorical).

The March Japan disaster has only fueled the opposition. Other countries have indicated they would either curb the growth of the nuclear industry or have issued statements indicating tighter regulation of the market. That means fewer reactors will be built. Individual opposition to nuclear energy is also growing, with many communities in the West fighting hard to ensure reactors are not situated close to them.

In Japan itself, the government has indicated a firm and understandable shift away from nuclear energy. It now wants to generate as much as 20 percent of the country's power need from “green energy.” Japan has paid dearly for its use of nuclear energy, which contributes about one-third of national power needs. The Fukushima disaster is still unfolding, and the populace wants assurances it's not going to experience another tragedy of this proportion.

That's why the anti-nuclear movement is gaining steam (metaphorical) worldwide. That's why sales of components heading into the sector will continue to fall off. That's also why sales of “green” components will be gaining strength. Do you play in green?

22 comments on “What Nuclear Loses, Green Gains

  1. FLYINGSCOT
    May 26, 2011

    The powergen industry is oftentimes between a rock and a hard place.  Each nuclear disaster pushes us into the green camp.  We then push our land agents like crazy to go green and build windmills and tidal.  The environmentalists then complain we are blotting the beautiful landscape.  Then nuclear looks attractive again and the cycle continues.  In the meantime the big exploration companies are finding new ways to make marginal fossil reserves profitable and the greenhouse gases keep marching onwards and upwards.  Somehow we have to reduce demand and that takes increased taxes on emissions, more energy efficiency and lifestyle change of consumers.

  2. Nemos
    May 26, 2011

    I couldn't have described better the situation in Nuclear industry as you did.

    It is a bet that Greens will win because Nuclear power has costs in human life and that cost is invaluable. Nobody has the right to play with the human life.

    I believe also that contractors with the Nuclear industry should reevaluate their contracts and rethink their future services. 

  3. DataCrunch
    May 26, 2011

    In a perfect world, we would be utilizing green technologies to the point of being carbon neutral.  But I am curious to understand what “green” energy alternatives we have or can come up with soon that can compete with the power of the atom.

  4. Mydesign
    May 27, 2011

       Ofcourse, recent disaster in Japan’s Fukushima reactor may make a second though for nuclear energy. The same way of thought happens in 1986, after the Chernobyl disaster in Russia. But how is it possible, I think it’s very difficult to rely on any other sources for the huge energy requirements. The other energy sources like Hydro electric, sea wave tidal, solar etc have many limitations. In my personal opinion, only nuclear energy can cater the mass requirements. The only thing is about saftey issues and the way its handling. I think it’s better to think about, how we can operate it in saftey environment rather than shutting down.

  5. prabhakar_deosthali
    May 27, 2011

    A similar movement is also gaining momentum in India. One of proposed upcoming nuclear plant on the west coast of India was initially being opposed because of some local politics but now with the aftermath of Japan Earthquake and the effects of Tsunami on the Japanese Nuclear plant just on the sea shore have raised many a doubts even in the minds of staunch supporters of Nuclear Energy. I think the Internatioal Atomic Energy Agency should work proactively on building the future nuclear reactors which will be designed to withstand such disasters. Otherwise worldwide it will be a start of the demise of use of nuclear energy for power generation.

  6. mfbertozzi
    May 27, 2011

    Alternative energy sources and green actions to reduce CO2 emissions are main topics in analysis and discussion, worldwide. It is only true oil represent financial incoming cash for Govs for the fact especially in Western Regions, oil or gasoline end user price holds inside a tax. Are Govs in condition to leave that kind of fresh daily cash, introducing alternative energy sources, especially right now and during current financial crisis still in place abroad?

  7. Anna Young
    May 27, 2011

    @Toms, I do agree that nuclear energy cannot altogether be done away with. Also tightening the safety measures aren’t sufficient either as there have been and will always be incidents and accidents as witnessed recently.

    It is certain we will always have nuclear energy in supply and the reactor plants located somewhere. However, I agree with Bolaji's statement in the article that “other countries have indicated they would either curb the growth of nuclear industry” or tighten regulation of the market.

    I believe this is urgently required to minimize the negative impact and encourage more safer and environmental friendly power industry.

    Bolaji, you're correct also in urging the high – tech companies and components suppliers to focus their resources on finding ways to make alternate power industry more viable and profitable. Once this begins to take full shape, there'll be less reliant on nuclear power as a source of power energy supply.

     

  8. SunitaT
    May 28, 2011

    @Toms,

      I totally agree with your point that  “it’s better to think about, how we can operate it in saftey environment rather than shutting down”.  If we look at the pace at which both India and China are growing, its hard to generate so much of energy by just using green technology.  So I guess its better to stick with nuclear energy till we get good alternatives.

  9. Mr. Roques
    May 28, 2011

    What if they focused on transmission line's efficiency? They could install the nuclear power plants thousands of miles away and still enjoy the benefits of scalability of nuclear plants. 

  10. Backorder
    May 29, 2011

    I really feel sorry for the nuclear industry. This incident has dented the credibility of one of the most advanced industry and now the vendors will find it hard to contain the damage(metaphorical). The managers at the top suppliers for the nuclear industry to mantain their cool(metaphorical) and think this through finding other applications for the technologies they have invested in and slowly moving on to embrace the color green.

  11. mario8a
    May 29, 2011

    Hello

    Mr. Roques

    how feasible is to get transmission lines afficiency?  will be cumbersome for the nuclear industry to manage the safety of the energy at long distance?

     

    Regards

  12. Taimoor Zubar
    May 30, 2011

    While there are tremendous potential hazards of using nuclear energy for various purposes, there is no doubt that nuclear energy is one of the most powerful and efficient sources of energy. I think the efficiency exceeds most of the other energy sources. Instead of bringing an end to using nuclear energy and curbing it's use, I feel there should be more research on how the technology can be made more green and how the harmful effects can be minimized. Already the world is facing shortage of energy resources and we really can't afford to give up on nuclear energy and increase the shortage.

  13. Ms. Daisy
    May 30, 2011

    Taimooz:

    Are you serious? When you find how to make nuclear energy green, please tell me!

  14. Taimoor Zubar
    May 30, 2011

    I know nuclear technology cannot be 100% green, but there can be ways to reduce the harmful effects of it on the environment. Perhaps not now, but years down the road. Only research can bring such ways to us. I don't think abandoning a technology completely is a viable solution.

  15. Parser
    May 30, 2011

    Green is good, but what is green today is not tomorrow. A few decades ago there was green movement “save the tree” and use plastic bags instead of paper. Now it is just opposite “use paper” because plastic pollutes for long time. Today wind energy is green I can see that many birds will be killed if we have massive structures to pickup the winds. Then a few decades later windmills will not be a green technology. Also, many countries will experiment with different laws. Outlawing nuclear energy is simply bad. We have to put science to work to make it safer. Outlawing movement is live and well. A digression here: Malta (Southern European country in the Mediterranean) has outlawed divorces long time ago.  

  16. prabhakar_deosthali
    May 31, 2011

    As per todays news here in Indian newspapers, Germany has declared that it will shut down all its Nuclear power facilities in the next ten years. This is a very serious action from one of the advanced Uropian nations and shows that the world is finally waking up to the likely disasters the Nuclear power can cause just by the accidents. Germnay has also taken serious note of how a technologically advanced Nation like Japan has failed to contain the effects of such a disaster.

     

    This brings the need for every nation to look at their  Nuclear power generation program and make suitable amendments to curtail or stop further expansion of Nuclear power capacities.

     

    The companies supplying the equipment, components , specially for the nuclear power industry have to plan their strategies to exit this business in a phased manner or atleast be prepared to bear the consequences of a disruption in their business in the long term perspective

  17. Daniel
    May 31, 2011

         According to law of conservation of energy, Energy can be neither be created nor destroyed. It can be transformed from one form to another. In our surroundings, there are lots of energy sources available, but we are not able to use or preserve it in a proper way. Solar energy can be generated from sunlight, which is available throughout the year in most part of the world (I guess). Energy can also be generated from Wind, Sea Tidal wave, Hydro electric energy from water etc. All nations are blessed with one or other form of natural resources for generating energy from these sources. All these energy sources are somewhat in safer side too.

        Most of the countries are considering nuclear fission and fusions are the massive source of energy.  I agree that they can cater the mass requirement of energy in a short span of time, but it’s too dangerous also. We had seen the dangerous side in Japan and Russia sometimes back.
      

  18. Himanshugupta
    May 31, 2011

    Well, i am of the other opinion. If a fiight crashes then it makes no sense to abondon traveling by air instead we should make sure that the incident does not happen next time. Nuclear is still by far the cheapest and most affordable alternative energy source than oil. It is good that government spend more on green technologies but ultimately its consumer who is paying the high costs.

  19. Himanshugupta
    May 31, 2011

    @Rich, you have quite a valid point. Instead of looking for gernerating more and more energy we should look for energy efficient and sustainable building and electronic designs. Simple changes in our lifestyle can make a huge difference and if we can cut the consuption then it would means that we would automatically build less power plants (either green or black).

  20. bolaji ojo
    June 1, 2011

    @Rich, Can't argue with your position about the wider/larger opportunities available in Green versus nuclear. Since that blog was posted Germany has announced it will close all of its nuclear plants within 12 to 15 years and replace their combined output with alternate energy. That's another huge opportunity that just opened up to suppliers into the Green market and I suspect that wave will only keep building.

  21. stochastic excursion
    June 1, 2011

    I think a lot of what's missing from the roadmap for nuclear power is the difference between a tractable and an intractable problem.  A faulty part in an aircraft is a tractable problem; it can be overcome by design.  Nuclear fuel, once manufactured, must be carefully tended well through its radioactive lifespan, which is generally hundreds of years.  This is a conceptual problem, not a technological one.  You're dealing with a fuel that is inherently unsafe, and when it goes wrong, it goes wrong in a very expensive way.

  22. Mr. Roques
    June 28, 2011

    Yes, it's “too bad” the nuclear industry will lose all it's credibility. Have there been studies on improving nuclear plant security? reduce the impact of a possible meltdown?

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