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CIVIL NUCLEAR
Nuclear energy: who's advancing and who's retreating
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Sept 14, 2012


France to close its oldest nuclear reactor
Paris (UPI) Sep 14, 2012 - French President Francois Hollande has promised to close the nation's oldest nuclear reactor in 2016, a year earlier than previously announced.

"The Fessenheim plant, which is the oldest in our country, will be closed at the end of 2016 in conditions that will guarantee the supply needs of the region ... and safeguard all jobs," Hollande said at an energy conference in Paris.

Hollande, leader of the world's most nuclear-dependent country with 58 reactors, had previously pledged to close the reactor by 2017, Radio France Internationale reported Friday.

France has long been a leading international proponent of nuclear power but Holland, in a deal with the Greens before this year's parliamentary and presidential elections, pledged to reduce the country's reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 percent of energy needs to 50 percent by 2025.

The Fessenheim plant, situated on the banks of the Rhine River, is considered vulnerable to seismic activity and flooding.

After Germany and Switzerland, Japan on Friday became the third country to call time on nuclear energy, a decision motivated by last year's earthquake-induced Fukushima disaster.

Following is a checklist of the main countries retreating on nuclear power, and those who intend to push ahead with it.

PHASING OUT ATOMIC ENERGY

Japan has followed Germany and Switzerland which decided last year to phase out nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster. Italy, which had plans to relaunch a nuclear power programme, abandoned them after the Japanese disaster and an ensuing referendum in which its voters came out strongly against. Belgium also plans to phase out nuclear power between 2016 and 2025.

THOSE WHO WANT TO CONTINUE

Several countries have confirmed their wish to continue with nuclear energy for various reasons, pointing in particular to the necessity to guarantee energy supplies without depending on imported fossil fuels or because they see in nuclear power an indispensable way of reducing CO2 emissions.

Those countries include France, Britain, Russia, China, India and the United States. However in the latter country, nuclear projects are threatened by competition from shale gas, which is emerging as a major new homegrown energy source.

Some of the countries in question intend to build new nuclear plants. They include China and Britain, which wants to renew its whole nuclear park, as well as South Africa, which wants to add six new power stations in addition to the one it already has.

THOSE WHO WANT TO ADOPT NUCLEAR ENERGY

A whole list of countries wants to adopt nuclear energy, notably the Gulf states which currently produce their electricity from oil and gas and want to save their hydrocarbon resources.

The list includes, at different stages of development, countries like Poland, Turkey, Jordan, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

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