Let’s stop ignoring nuclear power


Let’s stop ignoring nuclear power
Written by aquitodovale

Exactly 10 years ago, in July 2012, the first stone of the nuclear power plant of Barakah, in the United Arab Emirates, was laid by the Koreans of Kepco. Reactors 1 and 2 are operational from 2020 and 2021, soon the 3rd reactor is about to be put on line while next year it will be the turn of the 4th: in total 5.6 GW of power which will give 45 TWh (terawatt hour ) per year of clean and safe electricity.

Nuclear and photovoltaic: an abysmal difference

Also in 2012 in Italy there were almost half a million photovoltaic systems for 16.7 GW of installed power that produced 18.8 TWh of safe electricity – and a little less clean: in fact, for the IPCC the median emissions of photovoltaics are 48 g CO2 eq./kWh while those of nuclear power are 12 g CO2 eq./kWh. Four times as much. After 10 years, the plants have become one million, the installed power has risen to 22.6 GW and production has reached 25 TWh per year, only 6.2 TWh more than in 2012.

Let’s recap: in 10 years the UAE go from 0 to 45 TWh of electricity with very low emissions with a single plant that occupies about 2 km², while Italy in 10 years goes from 18.8 TWh to 25 TWh of photovoltaics, with a further 500 thousand installations. The Barakah nuclear power plant cost about 25 billion euros and has a 60-year license, extendable by another 20. The photovoltaic panels last 20-25 years and then the panels of that million (!) Of plants will all be changed and disposed of. .

In the last 10 years only photovoltaics, with the Energy Account, have received about 6 billion in incentives per year equal to about 290 euros / MWh, while renewable sources other than photovoltaics have received 5.2 billion in 2020, for years that Italy provides over 10 billion a year in incentives for renewable sources.

And despite the subsidies, renewables are no longer growing and the tenders for the allocation of incentives are deserted: the authorizations are slow, the Nimby committees (“Not in my garden”) do not want plants close to home, environmentalists protest locally even if in in principle I am in favor. All this to say that it is not true that nuclear power is not good because – unlike renewables – it costs a lot, it is slow to implement, nobody wants it and that “there is no time” and “it is too late”. These problems afflict all technologies and, with the same energy supplied, they probably impact more on renewables: perhaps it is easier to find a single site where to build a nuclear power plant rather than several hundreds of km² where you can install wind turbines and fields of panels that they generate the same energy.

But precisely because there is no time, we must instead invest in nuclear power: no form of energy has such a large capacity for producing clean energy with the same costs, time and resources. If we had followed the example of the Emirates at the cost of two years of incentives for renewables and with a single plant we would have had a quantity of electricity with virtually zero emissions ready in 10 years equal to what we have obtained in 20 years with all plants photovoltaic and wind power plants (25 and 20 TWh respectively in 2021) and the hundreds of billions of incentives and subsidies. So while we go on with renewables (re) we also start with nuclear power, because every day that passes will be one more day than the 10 years needed to put the first reactor on line. And day after day, 10 years pass, as they did from 2012 to 2022.


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