The U.S. supports Lithuania’s aim to build a new nuclear power plant (NPP) and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, claimed the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Nuclear Energy Peter Lyons in an interview with DELFI.
According to P. Lyons, after the Fukushima incident, nuclear energy is changing but not dying. Safety in nuclear power plants has become more important than ever before. According to the Deputy Secretary of Energy, there is no need to contrast nuclear energy and energy of renewable resources. The Americans see the LNG terminal as a perfect chance for Lithuania to diversify the supply of energy resources.
–The U.S. is one of the countries that has a considerable number of nuclear power plants. Which place does the nuclear energy take in your country, where, as we know, a great variety of energy types is used?
As the President of the U.S. Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu have repeated several times, we need the most effective, all-embracing strategy in energy, which could help America safely develop all the possible ways of energy production. Peaceful nuclear energy, being an important environmentally-friendly resource of electrical energy, which is characterized by low carbon dioxide pollution, remains a necessary part of U.S. energy.
Today the electricity produced in nuclear power plants comprises 20% of all of America’s energy and 70% of all energy that does not pollute the environment with carbon dioxide. These are the reasons why the electricity produced in nuclear power plants is very important in our plans for national energy and environmental protection.
By seeking to implement the umbrella energy strategy proposed by the Administration that would promote the development of American energy sources, new industries, and job creation, we are trying to stimulate the American nuclear energy industry in different ways. One of those ways is the development of low-power nuclear reactors that only require passive safety measures, smaller costs of capital, and compact design. In 2010 the U.S. Energy Department signed an escrow for 8 billion dollars of loan guarantees – that is how a construction of two light water reactors was supported and a hundred jobs were created in Vogtle NPP in Georgia.
–What has the Fukushima incident taught? Has it changed the Americans’ opinion towards nuclear energy and its future in the country?
Working hand in hand with colleagues abroad, the U.S. is ready to strengthen the safety of nuclear energy, and apply the Fukushima lesson in both present nuclear power plants and future new-generation nuclear reactors.
Straight after the Fukushima incident, the U.S. Commission of Nuclear Energy–together with the operators of nuclear power plants–inspected all 104 active reactors in order to ascertain their safety and reliability in case of large-scale natural disaster. In the report produced after the incident, the Commission of Nuclear Energy confirmed that the nuclear reactors run according to the issued licenses and do not present any risk and assured that action is taken to learn the Fukushima lesson and secure the safety of U.S. nuclear power plants.
–Does nuclear energy still have a future in the world? We have seen the strict response of Germany to the Fukushima tragedy. However, new information recently surfaced that Japan is reconsidering its decision and may be returning nuclear energy to the country‘s set of energy resources.
Our opinion coincides with our partners all over the world. Nuclear energy is an important part of the energy set and it is necessary to sustain the environment. However, by developing nuclear energy, we must again make sure that the objects of nuclear energy are safe and secure.
In the United States, during the construction of new nuclear reactors and the operation of the existing ones, safety was and is the most important thing. If we want to move ahead in generating safe, environmentally friendly nuclear energy, we have to continue implementing the lessons learned from Fukushima and increase the safety and security of every nuclear power plant.
–How do you assess the technology offered by Hitachi-GE to Visaginas project?
U.S. industry is our partner, and we continuously consult with U.S. companies on the design trends of the nuclear energy industry. We are pleased with the progress achieved. Hitachi-GE is one of the leaders in the field of nuclear technology, offering the most advanced and safest equipment, so I am very pleased that they have been chosen for the project. We encourage Lithuania and our other partners to thoroughly consider the American nuclear reactor producers’ proposals before making the final decision, and run an in-depth technical and commercial analysis of their proposals.
– Some argue that it is better to invest in alternative energy sources, rather than cling to nuclear energy. Do you think these two energy sources can be compatible, or do they fiercely contradict each other?
- As the U.S. president B. Obama has repeatedly said, we need a universal, comprehensive energy strategy to help America in the development of safe energy extraction from all possible sources–among them nuclear, solar, wind and fossil fuels.
We continue to believe that we must invest in all possible ways of obtaining energy, creating jobs, and strengthening the national economy.
–Together with Visaginas NPP project, Lithuania is planning to build an LNG terminal on its coast. However, both of these projects are under severe political pressure from the most popular parties in Lithuania. Could Lithuania hope to achieve energy independence without these two projects?
- Priorities for the U.S. regarding the natural gas resources are very clear: safety and responsibility. We also support the creation of energy infrastructure that improves both our country’s and our foreign partners’ energy supply security. Natural gas supply diversification, new pipeline routes, and the construction of LNG terminals are some of the most important energy security and energy diversification strategies.