by Mike Mulvihill
Here’s a nuclear reality mashup. On Saturday, Japanese, Chinese and Korean leaders gathered near the Fukushima nuclear plant to munch on tomatoes and cucumbers in an effort to assure all that agricultural products from Japan are safe. (Oh, and they may have had a political agenda to set the stage to increase their nuclear production footprint. But that comes later.)
This was just one day after Tokyo Electric Company’s president resigned amidst the announcement of a $15 billion loss related to the tsunami-induced disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Coincidence? I think not.
Then, despite Germany’s nuclear power moratorium and increased anti-nuclear activity in the U.S., bolstered by the Fukushima near meltdown, China and India announced planned atomic power developments that will more than double global production. China and India will lead a 46 percent increase in consumption by the world’s five biggest atomic-power developers by 2020. China’s Nuclear Energy Association said the country will increase atomic capacity by as much as eight times before 2020. Then a day later, India’s Atomic Energy Commission said it will increase production 13-fold by 2030. Finally, South Korea may almost double its nuclear-fired capacity by adding 10 reactors by 2020 totaling 12.8 gigawatts increasing to about 36 gigawatts by 2024, providing 48.5 percent of Korea’s power generation versus 31.4 percent today.
Even if Japan develops half of its proposed 19 gigawatts of nuclear power this decade, the country, together with China, India, Russia and South Korea, will add a combined 160 gigawatts by 2020, according to Bloomberg. .
Inexpensive, reliable energy is the lubricant for the machine of economic growth. With affordable renewable energy decades away and so many of the world’s growing economic powers adding a mountainous amount of nuclear capacity, the question is can the U.S. sit by idly on the nuclear sideline? If we wish to maintain our global economic status, the answer appears obvious.