Sat, May 12, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Brazil mothballs plans to build new nuclear plants

AFP, BRASILIA

Brazil said on Wednesday it has shelved plans to build new nuclear power stations in the coming years in the wake of last year’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in Japan.

The previous government led by former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had planned to construct between four and eight new nuclear plants by 2030, but the energy ministry’s executive secretary, Marcio Zimmermann, was quoted as saying that there was no need for new nuclear facilities for the next 10 years.

“The last plan, which runs through 2020, does not envisage any [new] nuclear power station because there is no need for it. Demand is met with hydroelectrical power and complementary energy sources such as wind, thermal and natural gas,” Zimmermann said in remarks released by the ministry on Wednesday.

“The 2021 plan, as far as I know, will not consider nuclear power stations either,” he added, although he did not rule out the longer term construction of such facilities.

“After the [2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi] accident in Japan, not just Brazil but the entire world stopped to analyze and assess,” Mauricio Tomalsquim, president of the EPE energy research firm, told a forum.

Tomalsquim said that in the next decade, the hydroelectrical contribution to Brazil’s energy mix will fall from its current 75 percent to 67 percent while that of renewable energy sources — wind, solar and biomass — will rise from 8 to 16 percent.

Brazil’s sole nuclear power plant, located in Angra dos Reis, a coastal town near Rio, has two pressurized water reactors in operation, with outputs respectively of 657MWe and 1,350MWe.

After a 24-year dispute, work resumed in June last year on a third reactor at that facility with a projected output of 1,245MWe. It is expected to be completed in 2015.

The Angras do Reis plant currently generates about 3 percent of Brazil’s energy production, which relies overwhelmingly on hydroelectric installations. Economic expansion, however, is outstripping supply, resulting in occasional blackouts across regions.

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