From Volume 5, Issue Number 49 of EIR Online, Published Dec. 5, 2006

World Economic News

Brazil To Create National Fusion Energy Network

The Brazilian government is creating a National Fusion Network (RNF), and a National Fusion Laboratory, to carry out research and development of nuclear fusion as a means of meeting its future energy needs. Speaking Nov. 7 at an event organized by the Brazilian Physics Society, Science and Technology Minister Sergio Rezende announced this initiative, which will be overseen by Brazil's National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN), and will initially incorporate 70 researchers and 14 national scientific institutions to carry out the research. The Physics Institutes of several universities, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and the Aeronautics Technological Institute are among the entities participating.

In announcing this initiative, Minister Rezende emphasized that it will focus particularly on attracting youth, even though the starting budget is relatively small—$450,000. "The Network will stimulate and awaken in youth an interest in the nuclear sector," he said. "Today, due to lack of funding, that interest has declined. But as the funding increases, we shall attract more students."

Brazil currently possesses three small Tokamak magnetic-plasma-confinement reactors, and last year European scientists visited the Associated Plasma Laboratory located at the INPE, where pioneering work has been done in developing a Tokamak with a spherical/toroidal geometry. Also under discussion is possible Brazilian participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), which will be built in France.

Brazil To Build Four New Nuclear Plants by 2030

Brazil's state-owned energy research company (EPE) just released its "national energy plan—2030," which calls for building four nuclear reactors, between now and 2030, each capable of generating 1,000 MW of electricity, the press in Rio de Janeiro reported Nov. 22. Also contemplated in this plan, is completion of the Angra III reactor, with a target date of 2015.

Two of the new reactors will be built in Brazil's impoverished Northeast, and the other two in the more developed Southeast. According to Ivo Pugnaloni, of the Enercons consulting firm, with an estimated annual 4.5% growth rate, the current energy supply is totally inadequate.

The nuclear plan is actually quite modest, and it's not clear how it relates to previous government announcements that it intends to build seven reactors. The announced plan calls for reducing hydroelectric participation in overall energy generation only 5%, to 70% from the current 75%, while increasing gas-fired plant generation from 16% to 17% of the total. It also proposes to reduce imported electricity from the binational Itaipu hydroelectric plant from 8% to 4% of the total, and then, unfortunately, increase electricity generation from "alternative" sources—wind and biomass—from the current 1% to 9% by 2016, and then to 15.4% between 2016 and 2030.

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