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  2. Renewables: the best alternative to nuclear power?   (28/04/2011)

This news article was originally written in Spanish. It has been automatically translated for your convenience. Reasonable efforts have been made to provide an accurate translation, however, no automated translation is perfect nor is it intended to replace a human translator. The original article in Spanish can be viewed at Las renovables: ¿la mejor alternativa a la energía nuclear?
The main actors of the sector of renewable energy sources are saying about nuclear energy after the Japanese disaster

Renewables: the best alternative to nuclear power?

April 28, 2011

We all saw with astonishment what happened in the North-East of Japan last March. Not only an earthquake and a tsunami uprooted thousands of lives; They also led to greater nuclear incident occurred since Chernobyl, 25 years ago. Another tsunami, in this case, fear of a possible nuclear disaster, made the international community not took to respond: several countries, such as France, ordering the revision of the security systems of all power in his country and China suspended the approval of new nuclear power plants. The German Government took one step further and announced its intention to begin work as soon as possible to renounce nuclear energy, with a parallel deployment of renewable energy sources. Seen so we can ask are the major beneficiaries of fear renewables to a nuclear disaster? Is the German case the example to follow? The main employer Spanish renewable energy producers and a foundation that promotes the production and use us respond.
LAIA Banús
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Photo: Jesse & Peter.
  1. Do you think that the Fukushima nuclear accident will mean a decline in nuclear energy at the global level?
  2. It is an opportunity of gold for renewables?
  3. Shortly before the Japanese tragedy, the Spanish Government posed to lengthen the useful age of nuclear power stations. Do you think that after the crisis in Fukushima is it going to rethink?
  4. And finally, Spain depends on too much of non-renewable energy, and import. How it can be to 'break' this unit?

Heikki Willstedt, director of energy policy in the wind Business Association - Eee

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"Even without the Fukushima incident, nuclear power had a role limited in the growing global energy market"
  1. Nuclear energy had before the accident a little relevant participation in the global energy supply. In 2008, according to the IEA, provided 2.3% (commercial) final energy demanded by humanity. In terms of electricity generation, his contribution was more elevated, 15.3%, but with more than 90% of the total generated in the countries of the OECD and Russia. With all of the reactors planned in China, India and other emerging countries, its contribution to world energy supply by 2020 not reach 3% of final energy demand because it is a technology that has to compete with other power generation that are cheaper to buildmore faster and with less risk. So, even without that had occurred the incident unfortunate of Fukushima, would have a role limited in the growing global energy market.
  2. The different events that are occurring in the world (revolts in the producers of oil, the cost of fossil fuels and the debate on the safety of nuclear weapons caused by Fukushima) makes more relevant and timely than ever, the debate on the energy model that we want for the future. All countries that do not have abundant fossil resources perceive that it is urgent to take steps to find energy alternatives that are quick to install, indigenous, and with a low environmental risk. And, in the current scene, wind energy stands out as one not only more sustainable technologies, but also with less risk, more cheap, quick to install and which takes advantage of a resource that is available in virtually all countries of the world.
  3. Fukushima is a reminder of the risks entailed in nuclear technology. Now the EU countries start a process of analysis on whether their risks in Europe had been well assessed. Spain, naturally, is involved in this evaluation. It will have to wait to see what conclusions they reach experts and what decisions take the politicians on the basis of these conclusions.
  4. To break this dependency, Spain should continue considering wind power as a strategic bet, adopting standards that promote their development and that of the Spanish industry - leading 15 years consolidating-, so that the wind sector Spanish prolongs a history of success that is well known throughout the world.

Pascual Polo, Secretary general of the Solar Association of the thermal industry - ASIT

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"The Sun and wind are the only energy source native and clean that we have in unlimited amounts: take advantage of it"
  1. The discussion should revolve around the guarantees of safety of existing plants. It might mean a turning point and then the Governments to rethink their energy strategies towards a rational and most efficient of conventional fossil energy use and a real increase of the contribution of renewable energy to the energy mix.
  2. The development and the commitment to renewable energy becomes a necessity impossible to circumvent to achieve sustainable development in a world with increasing demand for energy, because already today are an important contribution in the energy planwithout impact to the environment environmental energy production from fossil fuels, which in addition have the problem of its scarcity and incalculable risks. In addition, the production from renewable energy sources generates more jobs through conventional sources and the evolution of prices is expected that the costs do not depend on international political factors or the depletion of resources.
  3. Spain has a total of 10 nuclear installations located in its mainland territory, of which only eight groups are operating. It should be the gradual replacement of nuclear energy for safe, clean and cheaper energy.
  4. With political will and energy strategic objectives in the medium and long term. Renewable energies are more emissions of CO2 have been avoided and their development is the most effective way of achieving the objectives of reducing emissions of Spain, apart from reducing the dependence on imports of oil and gas. Likewise, the Sun and wind are the only energy source native and clean that we have in unlimited amounts: take advantage of it.

José María González Vélez, President of the Association of producers of renewable energies -APPA

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"It is not a debate 'renewable against nuclear', it is meet the targets of 20% of renewable that we have and which are binding"
  1. What is clear is that the nuclear lobby was working at the global level that took place a revival of this energy at the international level, given the stagnation in that it has been over the past years, and the disaster of Fukushima is going to be a major impediment. Not only because fear has been revived in the collective imagination by this technology, a fear which has been fuelled by the opacity of the information, but also because people have noticed that the cost of this technology is not reflected on the invoice. Japan has been hit by a natural disaster without precedent and the efforts of many engineers, which should have been turned to restore electricity to meet the victims, they have been absorbed by the accident of Fukushima. Who assumes the cost of the Japanese displaced from the exclusion of the central zone? Who is going to deal with the cleanliness of the sea that is already contaminated? Who is able to quantify the absorption of human resources has meant the disaster of Fukushima a few critical days for Japanese society? Elections that have taken place in Germany expressed their rejection of the citizens of this technology and the stoppage, still do not know well if temporary, of the plans of nuclear development in China, the stay for a year of nuclear new on Italy, the suspension of seven Central in Germany... It is clear that the effects will be very important on the nuclear industry.
  2. The road to renewables is irreversible because it is the only source of energy that gives us security of supply in the horizon of life on the planet and without causing any damage. Its route does not depend on circumstances although not desirable, such as the disaster of Fukushima or geopolitical risk of countries that have oil. Spain, if closing the nuclear who would benefit it would be to gas stations, that would be which would fill in the short and medium term that vacuum. For many years we have been arguing that it is not a debate 'renewable against nuclear', it is meet the targets of 20% of renewable that we have and that they are binding, and that the Government deal with deciding what technologies we want to cover the remaining 80%. On the other hand, it confirms another thing: the cost of renewables is very visible, one check accounts and know what mean you to the consumer. But the cost of other technologies is not included in the Bill and at the end you pay in taxes, but it ends up paying. In April 2010, the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, at the beginning of 2011, revolts in supplier countries and disaster Japan, all this without the environmental costs and the treatment of waste... In a short space of time we have seen examples of many of these externalities. At the end are people who take care of the costs that traditional technologies do not include in the invoice and this does not happen with renewables.
  3. What is clear is that the nuclear debate, which was totally unnecessary in Spain our too - mainly Central gas - installed power, has died before the start. In Germany, the lengthening of life of plants was linked to a special tax to finance the development of renewable technologies. If the Government, with a few plants already cancelled, allows its extension should be asked a few counterparts in return. In Spain that has been given to the large electric, approving a lengthening of the life of plants in the law of sustainable economy without asking anything for it. And the citizen that he is not no benefit because the nuclear charge at the price of Cassation, that means that even if its cost is under (which could discuss) consumer gives the same because it pays for expensive. Who is interested in the life extension of nuclear power plants with our current system of price formation, is the owner of the plant that has a few extraordinary benefits all the years.
  4. There are many courses of action that need to be done, but of a serious and determined, with political conviction. The first thing is to promote savings and energy efficiency. The kilowatt hour cheaper and cleaner is not consume. There are numerous measures with no cost to society because they are offset by savings in the energy bill: thermal insulation for houses and offices, change the lighting,... There are also many habits are not widespread in our country as the telework or the flexible hours were very positively in the imports of fuel savings to reduce displacement and jams. On the other hand, the integration of renewable energy in the building is the real challenge for the 21st century. The European Union us is setting the path with its directives, influencing that must evolve in buildings with zero emissions. This is a revolution not only by what we save on imports of fossil fuels and emissions, but because the involvement of citizens in the generation for own consumption will be built that power is something that should not be wasting. Photovoltaic, minieólica, through geothermal of low enthalpy, biomass boilers, air conditioning... Renewable energy sources provide us with many opportunities to reduce our energy dependency. Finally, renewables are a great bet for the future because they reduce their costs with their greater use, as opposed to traditional technologies that increase its price as demand increases dependent on finite (fossil or nuclear) fuels.

Javier Anta, President of the Association of the photovoltaic industry - ASIF

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"I am afraid that in Spain we won't affect anything, because the problems we have are not directly relevant to nuclear power"
  1. In the light of the decisions being taken in Germany, Italy and other countries in relation to nuclear energy, I would say that Yes, that there is a step backwards. Another thing is what will happen when settled the situation in Japan and things return to normal, will have to see what happens; What is clear is that there will be additional safety requirements for power stations, and that it encarecerá them.
  2. At the global level, it is clear that what happened is going to facilitate the deployment of clean technologies, but in Spain I am afraid that we won't affect anything in the short and medium term, because the problems we have are not directly relevant to nuclear power.
  3. The issue is that the decision does not correspond to the current Government. When it will ending the useful life of nuclear weapons, in the next decade, we'll see what the economic and energy situation in the country, who governs and with what priorities.
  4. Because making more renewable, clear. In the short and medium term there is a huge activity with the incorporation of clean technologies to the Park's buildings.

Sergio de Otto, patron of Foundation renewables

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"The opportunity, feasibility and necessity of bet on the renewable existed before and after Fukushima and even more so in Spain, one of the world leaders in its development"
  1. We believe that, in the first place should be a wake-up call for all those that minimizing the "intrinsic" risk of nuclear energy is not the only serious drawback of this technology. There is no doubt that you for much of the public and to the Governments of many countries will be cause for reflection on the future of nuclear technology. The renewable Foundation we believe that you did not need Fukushima to rule out nuclear power as an option for the future. The economy had done because the new power stations are not competitive - and it will be less from now by new demands - and require State aid to undertake tremendous investments involving. On the other hand, the problem of waste, only this technology that will be a problem for dozens of generations, invalidate itself. In summary, Fukushima is going to put in evidence that the revival was not such, but a mirage that is now lost.
  2. The opportunity of renewable energy is intrinsic to its characteristics: their native character, its low environmental impact, the possibility of bringing energy to all corners of the world and reduce costs with the continuous increase of the costs of fossil fuels. The opportunity, feasibility and necessity of bet on the renewable existed before and after of Fukushima and even more so in the case of Spain which had, until now, with the advantage of being one of the world leaders in their development. What is being demonstrated is that while a greater consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear energy leads to a widespread increase in prices, inflation is at the base of financial crises, unplanned nuclear risks and a proliferation of very serious and unacceptable consequences for societyincreased consumption and renewable market improves both national income, to reduce energy dependency, and the disposable income of the citizens because it improves competitiveness.
  3. The Government has had a very contradictory action in the field of energy. On the one hand has a speech in which advocates of renewable energy sources, came to power with a program that included the closure of nuclear power plants but has acted in the opposite direction. The Government, this and any other that comes in the future, have to raise its energy policy with a long-term view and responding to the general interest and not of a few large enterprises. If so does the bet shall be renewable. After the crisis of Fukushima will increase the costs of security and management of nuclear weapons because it will no longer be acceptable that your design does not provide for unforeseen situations that are going to have to consider now. This development promises the possibility of extending its useful life.
  4. We depend on outside nearly 90% of primary energy we consume and almost 80% are hydrocarbons whose combustion is the main cause of climate change in addition to being a slab to our economy by the high energy bill that we have to pay. The Unit maintains the current energy model and it has become a pattern of economic growth that urges change in order to overcome the current crisis. This unit can break real - money and not putting obstacles to their development as it has done in recent times, energy indigenous such as sunlight, water, wind and other renewable technologies. We have them here, we know to use them, they constitute a new specialization, create jobs, they have no greenhouse gas emissions, they do not generate waste, they do not pose a risk to the population, and so on. It's so obvious!

Javier Diaz, President of the Spanish Association of energy valorization of biomass - Avebiom

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"Our proposal is to replace nuclear power plants for cogeneration plants with biomass decentralized and close to the centres of consumption"
  1. We believe that nuclear energy will have a significant slowdown in the short and medium term. In the long run, we are talking about 20-25 years, it is possible that it resume, as history shows us that people forget easily and we leave easily influenced by lobbyists for polluting energies, which are today are the pan handle.
  2. Yes. It is an opportunity of gold for renewables and energy efficiency. Under our view, renewables are not understood without improvement in energy efficiency. Housing in Spain do not have good conditions of isolation. A good insulation means a reduction of 50% of the thermal energy needs of buildings. It is therefore first isolate correctly. On the other hand, we believe that the cogeneration with biomass, where biomass plant produces electricity and thermal energy for heating, ACS or industrial processes is the best substitute of nuclear energy. Our proposal is the replacement nuclear plants for cogeneration plants with biomass decentralized and close to the consumption centers. In this way the costs of the biomass logistics and costs of delivery of energy to the final consumer decrease. It is important to stress that biomass is the Sun's energy stored in the plant, so it is a manageable energy that does not depend on Sun or wind. Biomass is generated more jobs: 135 per every 10,000 inhabitants. Needless to point out the problem of unemployment which affects our country.
  3. We believe that the Spanish Government will re-examine the safety of existing plants and new projects will be paralyzed, momentarily. From Avebiom we believe that the replacement of nuclear energy cannot be with combined-cycle plants of natural gas. It should be remembered that Spain has an energy unit of 80% and that the price of oil and natural gas are on the rise. For this reason it must be added the instability of the producers of fossil fuels, energy dependency and the crisis and unemployment. We therefore call on the population to vote the proposals of the politicians to support the shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  4. The creation of a rate of CO2 on fossil fuels is the most powerful tool to 'break' that dependency and generate employment. The rate of carbon will make it more profitable to use fossil fuels in an efficient manner. Will also make it more cost-effective to shift to renewable energy sources and even, to refrain from using fossil fuels. The rate of carbon will lead financial resources towards the creation of local employment, because it consumes local fuels. The accounts are easy: reduces costs by reducing energy imports to become exporters of energy, which favors the creation of employment. The purpose of the rate of carbon is not punishing people for their style of life and the current technical equipment, but help them make the right decisions on future investments. The objective of this rate is not increasing the tax imposition, but guide the system towards a sustainable economy. As compensation, other taxes such as the costs of employment contracts, can be reduced in a strategy called "green change". In this way we generate employment without cost for the public administration. Avebiom and Svebio (Swedish bioenergy Association) recommended the use of the rate of carbon by comparison with the 'cap-and-trade' system or other administrative systems as quotas and tariffs. With the system of 'cap-and-trade' the price of the broadcast not can be calculated in advance, and therefore not the profitability of the alternative investment. The rate of carbon is always the same - although it may be high in the future, if it is decided-, thereby generating a high degree of certainty for investors. A tariff system is good for investors and producers of energy, but does not imply to the society as a whole in the same way as the rate of carbon. In addition, politicians will have to decide what technologies stimulate. With the rate of carbon these decisions will be in the market. This type of rate is already running in Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Canada. In the latter they have a system of 'green change', which implements a gradual increase in the rate of carbon while reducing others. Sweden has the highest rate of carbon with 10 euro cents per kilo of emitted carbon dioxide. On 13 April the European Commission has submitted a proposal to revise Directive 2003/96/EC on energy rates for the criminalization of the use of fossil fuels in that suggested a minimum of 20 EUR per tonne CO emitted2. Prosper the proposal, the money will be used to reduce the costs of employment contracts and therefore will not tax burden extra.

Juan Laso, President of the photovoltaic Business Association - AEF

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"It is, when less, painful that had had to occur an event such as the Japan some catch up in value to renewable energy"
  1. Although this is not our issue, clearly the future of nuclear energy in the short and medium term, as a result of this accident, will surely have an impact and will suffer, in many cases, a rethinking of new facilities and security for the existing systems. In some countries, mainly Germany, there is already an intense debate on nuclear energy and the functioning of older plants have been suspended temporarily. But it is also true that other countries, such as United States and through its own Obama President, expressed that they will keep its nuclear option. Therefore, it is not realistic to think you can dispense with no more than nuclear energy, which will continue to play an important role, though, that Yes, with participation increasing and offset of renewable energy sources.
  2. The opportunity for renewable energy was already evident before Fukushima, moreover, that is, when less, painful that had to occur an event such as the Japan some catch up in value to renewable energy. The true essence of this opportunity, as he says, is that are sources of energy safe and without risks, prevent climate change, do not harm the environment and guarantee greater autonomy. No one disputed already today that energy future depends therefore on renewables. In particular, photovoltaic solar energy, one with more room for technological development, capacity for integration in the future markets of distributed generation and lower their costs and improve processes for energy efficiency, renewables can play a very important role in the future energy mix in a country as Spain. We will succeed, so stop being dependent on foreign energy supply at unsustainable rates, for costs and for reasons of stability and international security. This will allow us, moreover, be a source of opportunities for our energy economy export vector have increasingly more weight.
  3. As you can understand, I don't know what this Government may be reconsidering. What if I have to say is that accidents such as that refers force to seriously rethink security measures, and the same security surrounding this type of facilities, and even view accurately response to give in the event of accident potential once this, despite all the measures, there is.
  4. As you look, acting with intelligent and measures consistent with the costs and benefits in the development of renewable energies, which are the only known alternative. But this is only possible, then this is the answer to your question, from a position of objective, solid, and therefore independent of the interests of producers incumbents.

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