Notice of Public Inquiry into Nuclear Energy – E24

Notice of Public Inquiry into Nuclear Energy – E24

The government will evaluate the suitability of nuclear power for the Norwegian energy system. The Minister of Energy says: It is wise to contribute knowledge.

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The Department of Energy announces a public investigation into nuclear energy, after several people submitted suggestions.

– There has been a strong commitment to developing a knowledge base, Energy Minister Terje Aasland (AFP) tells E24.

The Minister notes that members of Labour's parliamentary group and the government faction on the Energy and Environment Committee recently called for such an investigation.

– I assume that most parties see the same commitment now. Then I think it's wise to contribute knowledge, so that the discussion is about facts and not approximations, he says.

Recently, the chair of the Energy and Environment Committee, who recently resigned, Marianne Sivertsen Nys (AFP), called for such an investigation. She wanted to learn more about the costs of nuclear energy and the challenges of storing radioactive waste.

This weekend, the Conservatives told E24 that the party would repeat its motion to investigate nuclear energy.

-We have decided that we want to conduct a public inquiry into nuclear energy. “We want to highlight all aspects of nuclear energy,” says Åsland.

– Could this be an advantage for Norway in 15-20 years? Do we need it? It will also be important to highlight the security and geopolitical situation, the waste problem and expectations regarding different technologies, such as fission and fusion. He says: I think it is important to have national unity to obtain the necessary knowledge.

– Worth some time

Asland points out that completing the study may take one to two years, and that between four and seven experts may be appointed to the committee that will prepare the study.

– Now I hope that we can clarify the mandate and formation as soon as possible. He says this is already being worked on.

– It has been some time since we made the decision that we want national nuclear unity. But this requires hard work against our existing energy system as well, for which we need answers. So it will be a public investigation and I think it's worth some time.

-Will it be expensive?

– It will cost nothing. A national ozone unit would normally cost between 4 and 5 million Norwegian kroner. This is a little more demanding work than usual in this ministry. It may require some outside experience as well. So, it's probably a bit more expensive, Aasland says.

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“It's important that we have a broad hearing on this topic, so we can look at all the nuances of this,” says Åsland.

Norsk Kjernekraft plans to build a 1,500 MW facility that will be able to produce up to 12.5 terawatt-hours per year. This equates to about eight percent of Norway's total energy production. It is unclear what this will cost. It is also uncertain where and how the nuclear waste will be stored.

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– Have you thought about the realism of the nuclear power plant in Uri Og Haim?

– I don't want to advance realism. But I find it clear that there are challenges associated with the gradual implementation of 1,500 megawatts of nuclear power, both in terms of efficiency, safety, energy and political positions. “We'll get better answers to this through counseling,” says Aasland.

The six-month hearing period is longer than usual, scheduled for November 21, 2024.

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– very happy

Storting Bård representative Ludvig Thorheim (H) is convinced that there will be an investigation.

– It is very pleasing that the government sees logic in the Conservative Party's proposal. It was a good proposal at the beginning of last year, and it is commendable that they could also go back on it after thinking about it, Thorheim tells E24.

– I think we need such an investigation, so that the general public and politicians have a good starting point to evaluate the challenges and opportunities of nuclear energy in Norway, he says.

Bard Parliament representative Ludwig Thorheim (H).

– It may appear as a simple solution

Åsland believes that knowledge can contribute to a better discussion about nuclear power and other forms of energy.

-This may seem like a simple solution to a complex question. But we often see that when we get closer to the facts and see the consequences, counter-concepts begin to emerge. Then we talk about radioactive waste and the geopolitical situation and security picture associated with having nuclear energy, he says.

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-I want to know whether nuclear energy fits the Norwegian system. The very good thing about Norway is that the production capacity in hydropower is well matched to unregulated wind and solar power. And that's what's lacking in the first place, says Aasland: countries turning to nuclear power.

– I have been very skeptical about nuclear energy in the past and said that it is not something suitable for Norway now. Do you think this investigation can change that?

– No, I don't think the investigation will change that. If nuclear power were part of the solution now, for example for further industrial development in Norway, industry would also be interested in developing nuclear power. But nuclear power is not something mentioned in the industry in Norway, says Aasland.

However, he denies that he wants to make political decisions that the answer to the investigation should be that nuclear energy does not fit into the Norwegian system.

– No no. This is an investigation to show how this works in our system. And of course, answering the opportunities and challenges associated with it. There is no doubt that there are a number of responsibilities associated with nuclear energy. Then the investigation will show us whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. He says: And if we really need it.

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I think the regulations will take time

Norway has previously spent many years developing rules and frameworks for energy production. For example, the Offshore Energy Act was introduced in 2009, but the first offshore wind auction will not be held until 2024.

– Can you create a framework for nuclear energy in a few years, while it took 15 years to create the framework for offshore wind?

– I don't think you need 10 years to develop regulations. But to complete the licensing process in a completely new area in Norway, I think you need some time, says the Energy Minister.

The Christian People's Party recently proposed forming a committee to prepare regulatory rules for any future development of nuclear energy in Norway.

Åsland sees a need for clarity on nuclear power, including when it comes to preparedness and health issues. But he won't start developing regulations until he knows more about the need for nuclear power.

– I think this is unwise.

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