What is the recipe for getting out of fossil fuels as required by all the experts to prevent the effects of climate change? Focus on renewables, nuclear or a mix of the two?
In this episode of Presadiretta we will talk about the two renewable (an essential choice defines it in preview Riccardo Iacona) that of nuclear power, a solution that we hear so much about, especially now that we are in the electoral campaign.
You have to do as Portugal who launched a green energy policy years ago that aimed at renewable energies and who no longer has to be blackmailed by Russian gas because it produces energy from the sun and the wind?
This country is the second largest producer of clean wind energy after Denmark: the wind turbines were built far from the coast, not visible, which generate more energy than those on the territory, which have more impact.
The green footprint is also found in cities: cycle paths, low-emission zones where cars must travel at low speed, car parks with charging stations.
The country will reach 80% renewable energy by 2026, four years ahead of Europe: the whole country is moving in this direction, thanks to a precise political choice.
The decarburization and the energy transition was an opportunity to recover from the economic crisis that this country experienced a few years ago, they regained their freedom.
Or we must return today as a possible alternative to gas: today there are 441 operational reactors in the world and more than 50 are under construction – he says Mattia Baldoni by Agenzia Nucnet?
Presadiretta entered Germany, in the region of Sleswig-Holsteen in the north which borders Denmark and overlooks the North Sea: in the small town of Brokdorf live a thousand people in the middle of the greenery: in this country is one of the 18 nuclear power plants German, it is located a few hundred meters as the crow flies from the city. On December 31, 2021, after 36 years of operation, the plant was permanently closed and disconnected from the electricity grid, along with two other plants, including one in Bavaria. The shutdown came after Germany decided to phase out nuclear power altogether. But nuclear power will continue to cost the public coffers of the State for decades to come: the plants must be dismantled, in Brokdorf the property has announced that the site will be finished in 2040, in 18 years. A reactor does not go out like the engine of a motorcycle, before intervening, the level of radioactivity must be lowered below a certain threshold, and that takes years. Then a plant is dismantled piece by piece, radioactive dust is produced, which must be vacuumed to prevent it from escaping and the authorization procedures are meticulous, all of this takes decades.
Then in Germany, as in Italy, it will be necessary to find the deposit where to store the tons of radioactive materials of the 18 power stations which will be dismantled.
In Finland there is a plant under construction for 12 years, in Olkiluoto, northeast of Helsinki, on an island which is also a protected area: the two first generation reactors were built between 1979 and 1982, each produces about 900 MgW of energy. There is also a third-generation EPR reactor, using French technology, capable of producing 1600 MgW/hour, which is still in the test phase. When it enters service, it will cover about 15% of Finland’s energy needs. This EPR was supposed to start producing energy 12 years ago, Presadiretta was already there in 2010, when the site was still far from being finished. In the end, it took 17 years to complete the factory and the costs skyrocketed. TWO, a private Finnish company, should have paid 3 billion euros to the French to buy the plant but the price almost doubled.
Where does uranium come from for (if any) new power plants? One of the largest producers of natural uranium in the world is the Kazakhstan: the journalists of the Presadiretta went to the capital of this country, Nur-Sultan, a city in full expansion, everywhere you can see cranes for new construction sites. With its 3 ml of square meters, Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world, eight times the size of Germany. Until 1991 it was part of the Soviet Union but now that it is an autonomous republic it plays its own geopolitical game by betting on its strategic position, between Asia and Europe, and on the fact that it is one of the richest countries in raw materials, which are very valuable today. Gas, oil, rare earths and even natural uranium. The state-owned Kazatomprom manages these assets. Presadiretta interviewed its spokesperson, Askar Batyrbayev: “Kazakhstan accounts for about 46% of uranium production in the world, in 2021 we sold our uranium to 21 different customers in eight different countries, in Asia, Europe, China, but we also sold uranium to Russia, because nuclear has not been affected by the sanctions.”
What is the weight of uranium on the commodity market?
“The uranium market is worth about $9 billion a year, if you compare it with the oil market it is about 250 times less, but in terms of energy security it is very important because with the current geopolitical situation , the prices of fossil fuels are going up and down, everyone recognizes that there should be a sustainable, clean and stable source of energy.Many countries like the United States, China but also Europe have recognized nuclear energy as clean energy and this has enabled them to access finance to build their own nuclear power plants.The nuclear market is expected to grow by around 2% in the near future.And after 2030, the increase will be so important.”
But alternatives to nuclear exist, as shown by the Portuguese case. In the same Germany there are also interesting stories from a sustainability perspective: Riccardo Iacona went to visit an energy where energy and green agriculture are combined.
It’s the Dirkshof by Dirk Ketelsen a company where the wind farm is flanked by crop fields and spaces dedicated to livestock: the wind turbines produce energy for 1 million people for one year and have a life expectancy of up to 30 years . All infinitely cheaper than nuclear, at least as long as the wind and the sun do not cost a euro. The whole community participates in the wind farm: it is the 350 people who live around the park and who are today members.
Because all this cannot be reproduced in Italy? Because the times to obtain authorizations from us are much longer, even 14 years, a period during which the technology risks becoming obsolete. It happened in Renexia, where they have been waiting all this time for a park between permits and appeals, but who are already working on a new offshore wind farm in Sicily, of 2800 MGW, with 190 wind turbines. But the Sicilian regional assembly has so far given a negative opinion on the Med Wind project, this power plant 60 km from the coast, with the same floating technology as in Portugal. Another no, another no which is preventing Italy from developing in renewable energies.
The National Wind Energy Association (@AnevEolico) has calculated that if we gave authorizations to the plants on the waiting list, we could already produce 80 TWH of wind energy, or 20% of our total energy needs, and we are only talking about wind energy. But then what is holding this revolution back in Italy?