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Water Shortage Affects Oil Shale

Oil shale development could run into the same problem population growth in Colorado has faced: a shortage of water.

Chris Treese, external affairs director for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, says potential oil shale developers should meet immediately with local and regional water authorities to address water-related issues.

He said new water storage facilities can take 20 years to build, and cost more than local and even state governments can afford.
(4 Jun 2006)

Uncertainty Surrounds Plans for New Nuclear Reactors

MATTHEW L. WALD, New York Times
The nuclear industry is poised to receive the first new orders for reactors in three decades, but what remains unclear is whether the smartest buyers will be those at the head of the line or a little farther back.

The industry expects orders for a dozen or so new reactors. Since the last completed order was placed in 1973, much has changed. There are new designs, a new licensing system, new federal financial incentives, new costs and new risks, and no one is sure how the changes will play out as orders, or requests to build, are filed.
(4 Jun 2006)

Australia: Nuclear power ‘not on’

The Age
Nuclear energy in Australia did not make sense when the cost and problems of waste disposal were considered, Victoria’s Energy Minister Theo Theophanous says.

Mr Theophanous has debunked a report that found nuclear power could be competitive with conventional energy generation if it was subsided with help from a taxpayer subsidy.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) report, released yesterday, found nuclear power could compete with gas- or coal-fired electricity if taxpayers helped to pay for it or shouldered the risk of its production.

Federal cabinet tomorrow will consider Prime Minister John Howard’s proposal for an inquiry into a nuclear energy industry in Australia.

But Mr Theophanous said Victoria was “one step ahead” of Canberra and already had concluded the nuclear proposal did not add up.

“I had my department look at this and provide a report to me more than a year ago in relation to the prospect of nuclear power,” he said today.

“The problem is a commercial one as much as anything else.

“It costs roughly double the price to produce power out of nuclear energy,” he said.

Why not wind farms?

“If you’re going to pay double the price, why not put in wind farms? Why not use renewable energy, which is even cheaper than nuclear energy?”
(4 June 2006)

Australian PM: Energy debate must include nuclear option

Prime Minister John Howard, The Age
Too often politicians are criticised for taking short-term decisions and ignoring long-term needs. That is usually because the decisions that look to the long term are often the most difficult.

But I have always taken the view that if people are given the facts, and can be persuaded that the policy is in the national interest – as with the GST – they will respond positively.

So it is with nuclear energy. It is the debate we must have. I will shortly be announcing a review of our approach on nuclear energy.

Concerns about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, the rising costs of energy and the possible availability of a cheaper source of fuel, will form the basis of our arguments for this debate. The arguments of our opponents, meanwhile, defy logic.

First they say it is OK to mine uranium from three sites but not from others. Then they say it is OK to sell uranium, but not to enrich it. And then they say, well, maybe it is OK to enrich it, but we shouldn’t use it to power our towns and cities. It is policy anachronism piled on contradiction, capped by inertia.

These are arguments driven by emotion and by factional rigidities rather than facts, and not by any consideration of the needs of Australians in 10, 20 or even 100 years’ time.
(5 Jun 2006)
It’s unusual for the PM to write (or have written by his advisors) an editorial for the newspaper, so it’s obvious that he’s very keen on the nuclear option. As the previous article demonstrates there are some tensions between state and federal government on nuclear issues in Australia. I’m currently operating on the assumption that David Fleming’s analysis is pretty on the mark. Which would make going down the nuclear path something of a tragedy. If anyone believes Fleming’s paper needs rebuttal please feel free to contact us. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. -AF

Auto boom worsens China’s energy crunch

Wu Zhong, Asia Times
HONG KONG – Rapid industrialization, urbanization and enormous increases in the country’s motor-vehicle fleet are the major factors boosting China’s growing demand for energy, posing a serious challenge to Beijing’s energy strategy. These key points emerged from remarks made by Feng Fei, a senior official with the Development Research Center of the State Council, a top Chinese government think-tank.

China’s economy has undertaken a dramatic restructuring due to its high-speed development. The restructuring is characterized by rapid industrialization, which now has entered its final phase. Last year, the output of heavy industry accounted for 69% of China’s total industrial output, Feng said at a forum in Beijing on Thursday.

…energy demand in China is and will be boosted by the sharply growing number of cars. As autos become increasingly affordable, more Chinese want to buy them. According to figures from the Ministry of Public Security, there are now about 30 million motor vehicles on the road across the country. The number is expected to shoot up as sales of automobiles in China continue to grow.

According to industry statistics, some 5.7 million motor vehicles were sold in 2005. It has been predicted that some 9.6 million units will be sold in 2010. If the current pace of expansion continues, there will be 140 million motor vehicles on China’s roads by 2020.

The sharp increase in vehicle uptake is boosting China’s demand for oil, so much so that Chinese experts now expect oil shortages to become a chronic problem, fundamentally threatening the country’s energy security.
(3 June 2006)
Related from Asia Times: China: Another dammed gorge.