L’esempio inglese taciuto in Italia
Dopo l’annuncio del Primo Ministro del Regno Unito Tony Blair, dato il 25 Giugno scorso, del rilancio dell’energia nucleare in Gran Bretagna, oggi 6 Settembre, l’Amministratore Delegato della BNFL, Norman Askew, intervenendo al Simposio Annuale della nuova WORLD NUCLEAR ASSOCIATION (già Uranium Institute), ha detto: «BNFL è pronta a competere nel Regno Unito per il rilancio dell’energia nucleare». Ed ha altresì aggiunto: «l’energia nucleare continuerà a giocare un ruolo significativo in Gran Bretagna nella generazione di base dell’energia elettrica. Senza il contributo del nucleare questo Paese non potrebbe avere una generazione di energia continua, sicura, diversificata e rispettosa dell’ambiente».
La decisione annunciata verrà formalizzata in un “Nuclear Summit” entro il prossimo mese.
È stato anche osservato che le nuove energie rinnovabili avranno un ruolo importante nel ridurre le emissioni di gas serra, ma non possono soddisfare le esigenze della produzione elettrica di base.
Senza nuove centrali nucleari, il contributo del nucleare nel Regno Unito cadrebbe dall’attuale 23% al 5% entro il 2020. Inoltre le riserve di gas del Mare del Nord stanno esaurendosi e il Paese dovrebbe dipendere pesantemente dall’importazione dall’estero, subire la volatilità dei prezzi e non potrebbe rispettare gli impegni del Protocollo di Kyoto.
BNFL prevede di realizzare centrali nucleari di tipo AP-600 o AP-1000 - avendo recentemente acquisito la Società USA Westinghouse - centrali che hanno un minor costo d’impianto e più ridotti tempi di costruzione. In particolare l’AP600 è già stato “licenziato” dalla NRC negli USA.
British Nuclear Fuels makes the case for new generation of reactors
By Michael Harrison Business Editor
07 September 2001
British Nuclear Fuels, the state-owned waste reprocessing company, yesterday called on the Government to give the green light for a new generation of up to 10 nuclear reactors as early as next year.
In its formal submission to Downing Street's energy policy review, BNFL warned that without new nuclear build the country would be held to ransom by overseas gas producers and denied "a continued secure, diverse and environmentally-friendly energy supply".
BNFL, the owner of the Sellafield reprocessing plant in Cumbria, said up to 10 new nuclear stations would need to be built over a 10-year period otherwise the UK's nuclear generating capacity would fall from 23 per cent now to just 5 per cent in 2020 as the bulk of the country's ageing AGR and Magnox reactors were retired.
BNFL is offering its Westinghouse AP600 design, which has already been licenced in the US, as the basis for a new family of reactors and intends to seek formal licencing approval from the UK authorities next year, depending on the outcome of the energy review.
But privately, nuclear industry executives are thought to be concerned about the lack of expertise and staff in the UK's licencing authority, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, given that it is now more than 20 years since the NII was last called on to approve a nuclear station – the Sizewell B pressurised water reactor.
Norman Askew, BNFL's chief executive, said before any new nuclear stations could be built, the Government would have to make a series of policy shifts.
First, the environmental costs of generating electricity from fossil fuels would have to be reflected in the prices consumers were charged in order to put nuclear on an even footing. Second, electricity supply companies might have to be obliged to enter long-term contracts to purchase a set proportion of their power from different sources, so that generators, whether gas or nuclear, had the incentive to build baseload stations.
Third, the planning procedures and regulatory approvals system will have to be streamlined to ensure new nuclear reactors could be built effectively and efficiently.
Fourthly, he said, the Government will have to set an overall policy for radioactive waste disposal – arguably the thorniest problem the nuclear industry has to overcome.
If the go-ahead is given for a new family of reactors, BNFL will offer its design and its existing sites – the last of its eight Mango stations is decommissioned in 2010.
Friends of the Earth said it would be the "height of folly" for the Government to back BNFL and said its description of nuclear power as environmentally friendly was "bonkers".