Brazil shelves plans to build new nuclear plants
Brazil said Wednesday it has shelved plans to build new nuclear power stations in the coming years in the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan.
The previous government led by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had planned to construct between four and eight new nuclear plants through 2030.
But the energy ministry's executive secretary, Marcio Zimmermann, was quoted as telling a forum Tuesday 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 hydro-electrical power and complementary energy sources such as wind, thermal and natural gas," Zimmermann said in remarks released by the ministry Wednesday.
"The 2021 plan, as far as I know, will not consider nuclear power stations either, " he added, although he did not rule out construction of such facilities in the longer term.
"After the (2011 Fukushima) 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 the same event.
Tomalsquim said that in the next 10 years, the hydro-electrical contribution to Brazil's energy mix will fall from the current 75 percent to 67 percent while that of renewable energy sources -- wind, solar and biomass -- will rise from eight 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 657 MWe (megawatt electrical) and 1350 MWe.
After a 24-year dispute, work resumed last June on a third reactor at that facility with a projected output of 1245 MWe. It is expected to be completed in 2015.
The Angras do Reis plant currently generates around three percent of Brazil's energy production, which relies overwhelmingly on hydroelectric installations.
Economic expansion, however, is outstripping supply, resulting in occasional blackouts across regions.
Greenpeace and other environmental lobby groups oppose broadening Brazil's nuclear program, arguing that there is potential for widespread ecological damage in case of an accident.
Brazil, Latin America's dominant power, and neighboring Argentina are the only South American countries operating civilian nuclear power stations.
(c) 2012 AFP