In the deserts of Jordan, the country is eyeing nuclear energy as a solution to the current energy dilemma. According to the BBC video below, the Jordanian government is pushing ahead with plans to begin construction on a nuclear power plant.
Jordan currently relies on fossil fuels, but imports 97 percent of its energy needs from neighboring countries. According to The National, rising energy demands in Jordan and increasing fuel costs have led the government to seek alternatives.
The BBC reports that this year has been particularly troublesome for Jordan. Unrest in the Middle East has caused an increase in oil prices of over 20 percent. Explosions on the gas pipeline from Egypt, which supplies 80 percent of Jordan's energy, have also caused disruptions that will cost the government over one billion dollars this year.
The vice chairman of Jordan's Atomic Energy Commission, Professor Kamal Araj, says in the video that his country has “limited options.” Alternative or renewable energy sources alone cannot provide the country with enough power. He explains that nuclear power is an attractive alternative to fossil fuels for Jordan's base load power supply.
The government's plans are not without opposition, however. The Jordan Times reports that several environmental groups have emerged in the past few months, attracting several thousand members. Residents of the town where the reactor is to be built, 40 kilometers from the capital, have also expressed their concerns.
Jordan's decision to pursue nuclear power comes at a time when many countries are moving in the opposite direction. After the tsunami and nuclear disaster in March, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced that Japan will “scale back” its dependance on nuclear power in the coming decades. While the U.S. is questioning the future of its nuclear program, several European countries have already decided to “scrap nuclear power.” In Germany, the shutdown of the nuclear energy industry means losses and a number of layoffs for at least one company.
Despite newfound safety concerns, some still see nuclear power as a viable option. In some U.S. states, nuclear power will remain a significant energy source for at least the next couple decades. According to the Associated Press, federal regulators renewed the license on the Hope Creek nuclear plant in southern New Jersey for 20 years last month. The Hope Creek facility is reportedly similar in design to the disaster-striken Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.
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