Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sri Lanka to explore nuclear power

The Ceylon Electricity Board is moving towards exploring the development of nuclear power to meet future energy needs of the country.

The CEB last week extended an invitation to all national experts in this regard who wish to volunteer and contribute to the growing issue of energy economics, with their knowledge and experience in the fields of medical science, atomic energy, nuclear engineering, power generation, economics, environment preservation and disaster management to engage in a dialogue with the Board.

The Board will hold a series of discussions shortly on this subject with the participation of Sri Lankan experts, a paper posted by the Board in its website said.

“The time frame needed for studies, establishment of standards, formalities, planning and construction of a nuclear power generation plant may require up to 20 years.

Therefore such a project is for the future when all other modes of power generation would be too costly for our economy to bear. However, it is felt that studies should commence almost immediately if we were to prepare for a safe and successful project in the future,” the paper said.

“Recent escalation of the price of oil, coal, gas and other energy resources such as biomass has resulted in a sharp increase in the cost of energy needed for economic activity and development. With further depletion of hydro resources in the country and intervening dry periods affecting hydro generation, Sri Lanka would be forced to adopt more costly thermal power generation alternatives.

“High cost of oil imports has burdened the national economy and the escalation of energy prices has adversely affected many energy intensive industries and production processes with a sharp impact on the economies. High cost of energy has created an acute need for effective development of alternative energy sources and the need for economic analysis of energy related investment and pricing to provide cheap energy sources that are not a burden on the national economy.

“Many developed countries including the United States are continuing to support international research and investment in technologies that respond to global climate change in a favourable manner. Nuclear power generation, with its characteristically low green house gas emissions and very low probabilities of radioactive and other pollution as in the modern-generation nuclear plants, is an alternative that critically needs a wide study with even assistance from the international community.

“Although well-designed and well-constructed nuclear plants are very clean and safe, still the possibility of an accident cannot be totally ruled out. Some of the serious accidents such as instability in the nuclear process, failure in safety controls or coolants, leakage of radio active material, thermal runaway, fuel core meltdown and explosions would require planned disaster management procedures and techniques to be established and handled by disaster management experts,” the paper added.

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