Thursday, July 24, 2008

Macedonian Commentary Urges Construction of Nuclear Plant As Solution for Energy Crisis

Even though it would significantly strengthen our role in the region, I do not propose the development of Macedonian nuclear weapons. There is something else on which we should focus our attention in the years to come - energy. In addition to the regular leaps in the price of oil, the subsequent increase in the price of central heating and almost all other products whose production is linked to the price of oil would be logical, too.

Macedonia's dependence on foreign energy sources will merely increase in the ensuing period, but its choice of possible solutions is limited. The implementation of European environmental protection standards will further restrict potential energy sources, so we will be "lingering about" when it comes to what to do and how to do it. It would be no surprise if we sought the solution for this in electricity restrictions, just like in the early 1990s. When it is our district's turn to face a blackout, we will go and visit people who have electricity and we will go to bed early, which will certainly contribute to an increase in the birth rate.

Bad memories of Chernobyl are no argument against nuclear energy, because a potential nuclear power plant would not be built with Soviet technology. As early as in the SFRY [Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia] the Krsko nuclear plant was constructed in compliance with US standards, that is, safe, like in most Western states.

An increase in the construction of nuclear power plants throughout Europe was notable after the 1970s oil crisis, under energy circumstances similar to the current ones - with daily increases in the price of oil to unbearable limits. For example, nowadays about 80 per cent of France's electricity is provided by 59 nuclear plants, whereas the percentage in other European states ranges from 20 (in the United Kingdom and Romania) to 50 (in Sweden).

More than 400 nuclear power plants are successfully operating worldwide. There are 50 in Japan and about 100 in the United States. In the central and eastern European states, new nuclear power plants are being built in Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, and there is a joint project by the Baltic states and Poland. At a global level, in addition to the existing nuclear power plants, new ones are being constructed in the United States, China, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil, and so forth. It is no accident that most of these states have had the greatest economic progress over the past few years, and their development will resume in the coming period, too.

The ideas for the construction of the first nuclear power plants in a number of states in North Africa and the Middle East have reached an advanced stage. When it comes to Europe's nuclear map, the only places power plants have not been built are the Western Balkans, Norway, Ireland, Portugal, and Luxembourg.

What are the advantages of nuclear energy? Lower maintenance costs, which implies cheaper energy for final consumers; a cleaner environment, instead of the coal that is poisoning everyone, especially the Bitola residents; and the state's greater independence in energy terms, which will certainly affect its regional role and its economic potential. Judging by the turn of events, the price of oil will not return to its former level, at least not soon. On the contrary, it will continue to rise. We can hope that there might be an oilfield in our country or that we will be privileged to pay lower prices to those who have an energy surplus. The only thing we have left is to provide subventions to the so-called major consumers with the taxpayers' money, although somehow it has still not "dawned" on them that they are no longer state-owned firms, so they are whining to the government every time the electricity price goes up.

Yes, the realization of a project of this kind will be very costly, but it will not be expensive in the long run. Its advantages will be visible after a number of years, when the price of oil and natural gas will increase further and when there will be a small quantity of Suvodol [mine] coal. Given the potential global energy crisis, a nuclear power plant will provide us with a stable energy source that will be more than essential to us in the next decade.

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