The United Nations has called on the Middle East to be nuclear-free. Free of destructive power, and free of a volatile source of energy. Why choose nuclear in the Middle East, where the sun has so much burn? Cost may be a limiting factor in Iran, but solar is the most viable alternative resource in other Arab countries. At least, this is how Ghassan Karam writes it in a recent op-ed published in ya Libnan.
Kill ’em with kindness
Karam claims that if it hadn’t been for Iran’s dalliance, the rest of the Middle East would have ignored nuclear energy, but now it has become a fad, a status symbol. He doesn’t suggest that these are unfriendly intentions. In fact, it is perhaps quite the opposite.
“Most of the Arab countries and the GCC in particular feel uncomfortable with an assertive nuclear Iran and so felt that they would respond the best way that they can by adopting peaceful nuclear technology,” he wrote.
Consequently, “the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and possibly Kuwait have either embarked on programs to generate electricity from nuclear power or are seriously considering it,” says Karam.
Nuclear energy is no wild card
This would be a nice, diplomatic gesture if nuclear energy was a cleaner and safer alternative. Instead, Karam suggests it is risky, dirty, and inefficient, that no decent solutions for nuclear waste disposal have emerged, uranium deposits are finite, and the possibility of an ugly nuclear accident are all too real.
Furthermore, he claims, the only reason that nuclear is considered competitive is that it comes with both a healthy subsidy and limits on liability insurance.
If we have learned anything in the last several months, it is that accidents happen. The last thing we want is a limit on liability for nuclear energy because while it might not happen today, or even in a year’s time, there is bound to be an accident along the way. Someone needs to be held accountable when it does.
What is Karam’s solution?
Sunlight is for free and is very abundant in each of the Arab states that are going nuclear. Besides the abundance of the sun there is also abundance of land close to the final demand for electricity. All of these factors combine to make concentrated thermal solar a clean, inexpensive energy source that will be difficult to beat.
Karam uses the United States and China to drive home his point, where he claims solar energy is produced for 6-7 cents per kilowatt hour.
“Investment decisions especially costly projects that are expected to last for decades should not be undertaken on the basis of fads and status symbols they should instead be undertaken on the basis of efficiency, safety and communal good,” he said. We couldn’t agree more.
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