Whilst Turkey reassesses its own nuclear plans following a devastating earthquake, Jordan is still exploring the pros and cons of going radioactive. A recent meeting held in Amman brought together various NGOs, experts and academics for the 4th International Symposium on Nuclear Energy. Issues such as the Fukushima incident, safety and the need for transparency came up but so did the advantages of nuclear power for water security. So can nuclear power ever really be justified on environmental terms?
Desalination and Nuclear Energy
“A Jordanian nuclear power project that is linked to desalination would be able to effectively address all these issues [fears over safety] and would also be one way in which we could save the Dead Sea, which is shrinking by one to two metres annually,” said Middle East Scientific Institute for Security Director General Sharif.
It’s an interesting argument but not one which holds out to scrutiny. One of the dangers of linking nuclear power to desalination (which is notoriously energy intensive) is that you could end up in a vicious cycle of needing to make more water to cool nuclear reactors so you can make more energy for water desalination. However, this is not the first time that nuclear energy has been proposed as a solution to an environmental problem. In fact, there have been incidents of green activist justifying nuclear power as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
Nuclear Is Too Slow To Be Useful
Until a couple years ago, the stance that many green campaigners and activists took on nuclear power was a simple one- they were against it. However, renowned environmentalists such as Mark Lynas are now taking a more supportive stance on nuclear power for various reasons. One of the main ones being that the shift away from burning fossil fuels straight to renewable energy isn’t realistic and also that nuclear can cut emissions. Whilst these may be valid arguments, others campaigners such as professor Kevin Anderson who leads the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, insists that nuclear doesn’t add up (environmentally).
Why Ignore Huge Potential Of Renewables?
Anderson argues that even IF there was a way to build safe and carbon-free nuclear reactors, they couldn’t be built fast enough to help us deal with climate change. And when you consider the renewable energy potential – especially of countries such as the UK and Europe- embracing nuclear just doesn’t make sense.
Looking back at the Middle East, the argument applies just as well. Jordan won’t be making electricity from nuclear energy until 2019 and that’s if the contractors don’t experience any delays or problems. What’s more with energy experts themselves telling the region that solar energy is going to be the most important source of energy in the Middle East in the next decade, surely solar and not nuclear is the way forward?
: Image via mediafreedominternational.
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