Sometimes I miss the bleeding obvious.
When I recently wrote Renewable Reality Checks With No Nuclear Balances, I made the following point in discussing the awarding of funding under the Australian Government Solar Flagships Program:
Three quarters of a billion dollars has just been committed to transfer from the Australian Government to the private sector. These projects are not run by Mum and Dad community collectives. We are talking the likes of BP here people.
Well, it turn out we are also talking the likes of AREVA. While BP have their hands in Moree Solar Farm, the Solar Dawn project is the baby of AREVA Renewable. What else does AREVA happen to do? You get one guess…
The range of reactors offered by AREVA meets all client needs, from the introduction to nuclear power to the industrial production of competitive and low-carbon electricity.
AREVA offers a portfolio of three reactor models intended for use in nuclear power plants: EPR™, ATMEA1 and KERENA. These are latest generation (III+) pressurized and boiling water reactors. They allow electricity providers to achieve their competitiveness, safety and power generation capacity objectives. The power range of these reactors goes from 1,100 MWe to more than 1,650 MWe.
AREVA also offers a range of low-power reactors (the power range goes from 2 to 100 MWth). These multi-purpose models are designed for training, research and nuclear medicine (radio isotopes production). In particular, they are suitable for plant operators who want to prepare for the implementation of a nuclear power program.
Here’s the link. It gets better though. AREVA’s Nuclear Sales and Services Group accounts for 37% of the group’s operating revenue. It is outshone only by the Mining-Front End Business Group with 41%. In case you are wondering, this business group is responsible for “all nuclear operations leading up to actual electricity production: prospecting, mining and concentration of uranium; conversion into uranium hexafluoride (UF6), uranium enrichment and finally nuclear fuel production.” Between them, these two business groups did around 7 billion euro in sales last year.
The Renewables Group, on the other hand, accounts for just 2% of revenue, 150 million Euro. But believe it or not, the story gets better again.
Of that 2%, how much of AREVA’s sales are in Concentrating Solar Thermal of the type they will be constructing down under? Drumroll please…1%. Yes, you heard it here first. The Solar Dawn Project is applying a technology that accounts for a whopping 0.02% of AREVA’s sales revenue.
So, let’s recap. Australia, via the awarding of the first $750m of funding under Solar Flagships has just thrown open the doors to:
- An oil company
- A nuclear power company
It may not be reported that way, but it’s a fact; one we should probably get comfortable with.
I’m reminded of a recent comment by George Monbiot:
Nuclear operators worldwide have been repeatedly exposed as a bunch of arm-twisting, corner-cutting scumbags.
In this respect they are, of course, distinguished from the rest of the energy industry, which is run by collectives of self-abnegating monks whose only purpose is to spread a little happiness. How they ended up sharing the names and addresses of some of the nuclear companies is a mystery that defies explanation.
My point is pretty simple. Those who retain concerns that nuclear power is “big business”, and seek to buck the system by insisting on renewables, please just be aware of the following. Billion dollar energy investments, such as we need to decarbonise, whatever the technology, is nothing but big business. Corporations are the vehicles for getting things like that done, be it solar, nuclear or other. In all cases, we deserve vigilant governance to ensure citizens get the best outcome. That is irrespective of the technology. They are not evil and irresponsible on the days they build nuclear or drill for oil, and then wonderful corporate citizens saving the world on the days they build solar panels. We tell them what type of energy we want, and they provide. It’s roughly that simple.
The Areva TMEA1 1,100MW Pressurised Water Reactor
One last thing before I go… I’d bet the farm that if the Government program was called “Zero-Carbon Flagships” instead of “Solar Flagships”, AREVA could have delivered a whole lot more zero-carbon value for money than Solar Dawn… just a thought.