In my last blog post on What will be our Legacy, I promised that I would return with another edition discussing:
- What we have seen as we have traveled the world
- What we have done in the industry to help by Bringing the Nuclear World Together
- Provide some suggestions on what you can do
This blog post I will discuss the first of the three:
1.What we have seen as we have traveled the world
The management and control of energy resources is an extremely powerful aspect of a nation’s economy. Providing energy to developing countries is a powerful proposition and this can significantly control a nation’s economy for generations.
Several years ago we attended an international nuclear conference. One of the presentations was from a large, government-owned organization boasting a leading edge in the world’s nuclear market. Even though the language of nuclear is English, this company presented in its native language. By its presentation, this nuclear company supplies all stages of the technological chain, including uranium mining and enrichment, nuclear fuel fabrication, equipment manufacture, O&M of nuclear power plants, and management of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. It boasts of a workforce of 250,000+ with more than 300 working organizations. At the time it had plans to build nuclear power plants all over the world. To date, these plans are becoming a reality.
Governments have discovered the power and influence they can have if all of their nuclear technologies are organized as a unified group. Therefore, individual governments have combined their operating entities to become a single outward facing resource when they are bidding to an interested International Nuclear Newcomer country. There are now several countries that have these kinds of organized technology groups that combine to provide a single bid to an interested newcomer country.
We are not talking about nefarious hyperbole. This is an opportunity of economically and technologically advanced national governments to outbid the likes of investor-owned nuclear plant vendors (i.e., Westinghouse, GE, NuScale, etc.) to construct new nuclear power plants world wide. This approach provides the opportunity for national governments to control the energy resources of smaller countries throughout the world. To anyone looking at the geopolitical potential of such a proposition, the possibilities are potentially chilling. This potential should be one of our nations most critical national security priorities.
As we visit the international community, we hear about bids that have been provided to countries interested in establishing their own nuclear programs. The newcomer countries would prefer the US technology, integrity, reliability, and long-term relationship without unintended or potential consequences. Yet, they cannot disregard offers for a more organized and unified approach, with a government-backed guarantee, either real or strongly implied, and often government backed financing.
While our free market attitude is important for our own purposes, it is not competitive in the world nuclear market. And, the attached “123 Agreement strings” are limiting and not attractive when newcomers can get into the nuclear power market without them. The U.S. is losing nuclear influence, and this will impact our national security for generations to come.
I will address the other two issues mentioned above in upcoming blog posts.