HOLLYWOOD, Ala. - The aftershocks from the March earthquake that crippled Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant are still rumbling across the global nuclear power industry, cutting in half previous projections about the number of new reactors to be built in the next two decades, a top industry leader said today.
Luic Oursel, chief executive of the French nuclear giant Areva, said he still expects a 50 percent increase in nuclear power generation around the globe by 2030. But two years ago, Areva expected the number of reactors to double by 2030.
"It is clear that the accident at Fukishima has had a strong impact on the nuclear industry," Oursel said during a visit to TVA's Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant here today. "But we consider that all of parameters which have driven this nuclear renaissance remain the same. The need for competitive and predictable power, the need to fight climate change and the need to for greater energy dependence continues to grow around the world."
Except for Germany, most countries have confirmed their commitment to maintain and build more nuclear power even after the unexpected radiation leaks at Japan's Fukushima plant, Oursel said.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has hired Areva to help conduct engineering and design work for its $4.9 billion project to complete the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant here. Construction began at Bellefonte in 1974, was suspended in 1985 and could begin again in time for the plant to generate power as soon as 2018, TVA's chief operating officer, Bill McCollum said.
Oursel said Areva, which has helped build more than one fourth of all nuclear reactors in the world, employs more than 5,000 workers in the United States and will use primarily American labor for its work at Bellefonte.
"When complete, we are convinced that Bellefonte will be one of the most modern and safest nuclear facilities in America," Oursel said. "It will meet or exceed all of the safety standards for natural disasters and will obviously incorporate all of the safety requirements stemming from Fukishimi."