Washington – At a press conference entitled “The Future of Nuclear Power,” financial expert Kevin Book said that President Barrack Obama is a “resolute advocate” for nuclear power, supporting the industry even after the Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster. Book, an energy analyst with ClearView Energy Resources, said Obama’s support does more to preserve the future of nuclear power than any other politician in Washington. Book believes that as a result of the Japanese tragedy, the nuclear power industry will have trouble raising money in private markets because of costs, concerns about liability and the slowness of the regulatory process.
President Obama received generous support from the nuclear industry during his presidential campaign and several key aides have close ties to nuclear power plant operators.
Book said that if the world turns away from nuclear power too suddenly there could be a profound effect on the price and supplies of distillate fuels, causing shortages, especially in Asia. He said if there is a slow, gradual weaning off nuclear, there would be fewer potential disruptions.
Former Congressman Phil Sharp, a strong proponent of nuclear power appointed by President Obama to the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, said that to his knowledge no one has radiation sickness in Japan as a result of the nuclear accident and that nuclear power is going to be a part of our energy future. He said he does not believe that Fukushima Daiichi will be a “showstopper” to new plant development. He believes, instead, that the setbacks to the nuclear power industry are lower energy demand because of the ongoing recession, the high costs of building new nuclear plants and the low cost of natural gas.
When asked about the financial impact of Fukushima Daiichi on the French-government-owned nuclear giant AREVA, Book said that AREVA’s problems with MOX fuel was number three on his list of economic fallout from the reactor disaster. Book said he did not want to speculate on what would happen if the French nuclear giant begins to lose contracts, many of them backed by governments around the world. The U.S. government has several contracts with AREVA including a $5 billion MOX fuel plant under construction in South Carolina,
Book said that safety concerns from Fukushima may cause regulators in the United States to impose new standards on existing plants up for license renewal and, if those required investments seem too costly to utilities, they may withdraw renewal applications. Book said investors do not like risks and the nuclear industry is very risky financially even though he believes that nuclear power has been proven “scientifically a safe fuel.” He looks to Germany as the bellwether for the future. Germany reversed course after Fukushima and has closed seven nuclear power plants and is reviewing the extension of 17 others. He called their decisions “flighty” and “emotional.”