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New Renaissance for nuclear energy

EPR power plant fitted into Olkiluoto landscape.

Physics Today reports remarkable investments in nuclear energy around the world.

According to the paper more than twenty power plants are scheduled to be built or refurbished during the next five years in Canada, China, several European Union countries, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and South Africa. British an US governments are preparing new energy politics that may lead to 15 new reactor orders by 2007.

IEA report claims new investments are necessary to maintain nuclear power's position in the overall energy mix. Nearly 80% of the 441 commercial nuclear reactors around the world are more than 15 years old. About 16% of the world's electricity supply is produced in nuclear reactors.

According to Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs the primary reasons for increased interest towards nuclear power are rising form attempts to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and concerns about energy security, particularly in light of the recent disruption of Russian gas supplies in Europe.

Most of the new reactors planned to be built are third-generation pressurized-water reactors (PWR). Chinese, French, South African companies are looking to build a fourth-generation design called a gas-pebble-bed reactor (PBMR). The new reactors are supposed to be inexpensive to build, more powerful, and safer; and they can be operated for up to 60 years.

Read more in Physics Today online.

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Last modified May 5th 2008