The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that took place on March 11, 2011 has had major implications on countries throughout the world. The negative impact of fossil fuels is widely acknowledged and there is major emphasis on transitioning from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Although nuclear power has been thought to be key to making this change, Europe plans to decommission almost 150 nuclear plants, and more than 200 nuclear power stations across the world will be closed by 2030 . Interestingly, in President Obama’s State of the Union last Tuesday, he addressed the threat of climate change and the potential of energy technologies like wind, solar, and natural gas, but did not mention nuclear .
Despite worldwide trends away from nuclear power, the Czech Republic stands firm in its choice to support nuclear power. As part of the country’s long-term energy strategy, the share of nuclear power should increase from today’s one third to 55 percent over the next three decades . The Temelin project is one way for the Czech Republic to meet this goal. It entails the energy firm CEZ building two new nuclear reactors at the plant, with an estimated project cost of 16 billion dollars .
Figure 1: Temelin Nuclear Power Plant (www.britannica.com)
However, cheap power prices currently in Europe, combined with falling demand for electricity and questions about government support leave the Temelin project in doubt. Both the Czech Republic and the U.K. were once the European leaders in commitment to nuclear, today this is no longer the case. Mycle Schneider, an independent consultant on energy and nuclear power based in Paris, says, “The future of nuclear energy in Europe looks very dim indeed. Nuclear is too capital intensive, too time-consuming and simply too risky.”  In light of the relatively low electricity prices, the Czech government has even considered bringing about fixed prices of electricity produced by CEZ’s nuclear power plants, which environmentalists are not happy about. No decision about fixed electricity prices has been made, however, if the Temelin project were to be approved, construction would begin in 2016 and it would take around ten years to complete .
The decline in nuclear power usage across Europe, although gradual, is very apparent. This reduction allows for room to focus on renewable energy, research, and sustainability. It is questionable how much of the energy supply could actually be replaced by renewables, or if it will cause more reliance on fossil fuels.