SciDev.Net has produced a special Spotlight on "Nuclear Power After Fukushima" on 29 September 2011. SciDev.Net Spotlights are collections of feature, news and opinion articles, and links to relevant material and organisations, that focus on specific issues.
For this Spotlight, SciDev.Net says: "Nuclear power is an attractive energy option in the developing world. How has the accident at Fukushima affected plans for the technology, and what do policymakers need to consider when weighing up nuclear against other sources of energy?"
In the Spotllight's introductory Editorial David Dickson says, in part:
Nuclear worker, Fukushima.
Credit: flickr/IAEA-Imagebank. "The accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant in March sent a shock wave through the nuclear energy renaissance that has been gaining strength in the past few years. This had been spurred partly by the escalating price of oil, partly by safer reactor design, and partly by global warming compelling countries to seek alternatives to fossil fuels.
The shockwave was strongest in the developed world. Several countries responded to the Japanese accident — a direct result of the tsunami that flooded large stretches of the country's north-west coast — by abandoning plans to restart nuclear programmes that had been on hold since the accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine, more than 25 years ago.
Reaction in the developing world has been more mixed. A few countries, such as Malaysia and Thailand, dropped their nuclear plans, but most are still pursuing the nuclear option. Although some countries have announced that their plans are being reassessed, they have given little indication that they intend to change course.
Nevertheless, the Fukushima accident has raised fresh doubts, and some important lessons have emerged that need to be taken on board by all those still considering going down the nuclear route, particularly developing countries that are just embarking on such a commitment.
The lessons range from the need to ensure that natural hazards have been fully taken into account to the importance of building public trust in the competence of the organisations (and individuals) responsible for nuclear safety.
In addition, the Fukushima accident has spurred enthusiasm for renewable sources of energy. Each of these lessons needs careful assessment by policymakers in developing countries still considering whether to commit to the nuclear option."