The World Bank Says “no” to nukes. Again
As much as i don’t like them, sometimes the World Bank has it right. In the early days of fighting reactors we often quoted the WB analysis on why reactors (especially for small countries) don’t make sense.
“Nuclear plants are thus uneconomic because at present and projected costs they are unlikely to be the least-cost alternative. There is also evidence that the cost figures usually cited by suppliers are substantially underestimated and often fail to take adequately into account waste disposal, decommissioning and other environmental costs. Furthermore, the large size of many nuclear plants relative to developing country systems leads to risk of substantial excess capacity should demand fail to increase as predicted. A nuclear investment strategy lacks flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. The higher costs would require large increases in tariffs and could threaten the financial viability of the systems if nuclear power were a significant part of the total…”
“Operating costs must be added to capital costs to obtain final electricity costs. Even with low operating costs, the high capital costs of nuclear preclude their being selected as the least cost alternative under any reasonable assumptions concerning prices of coal and oil. ”
“Catastrophic Failures: Both nuclear and hydro plants have only a small probability of catastrophic failure, but some experts point to experience of systems failure in nuclear plants, where the exposure is much greater than in hydro dams (where the safety issue is a structural one). The worst case catastrophe for a nuclear plant is much worse than for a hydro plant because of the long-run health impacts (as at Chernobyl). In both cases, the consequences are borne by involuntary population.”
“The environmental community is therefore strongly anti-nuclear. It emphasizes that the risk is one of involuntary exposure and that the environmental costs are high enough to rule out nuclear power even if it were otherwise economic.”
“Further complicating the issue is a perception of secrecy and lack of candor that characterizes the operation of nuclear power plans. In recent years, a number of accidents have raised doubts in the public mind about the competence of the industry and the safety of the process. Many doubt the credibility of the industry.” From World Bank Technical Paper #154: Environmental Assessment Sourcebook Volume III Guidelines for Environmental Assessment of Energy and Industry Projects by the World Bank Environment Department, April 94, p 83-89
Recently, the World Bank has again said it does not plan on lending for nuclear power plants. This time using the weaker argument that it is not familiar with the technology. Instead the WB is looking to fund real renewables in the developing world.