Financial pressure and foreign lobbying threaten the Brazilian nuclear program

Financial pressure and foreign lobbying threaten the Brazilian nuclear program

Brazil currently has two plants in operation (Angra 1 and Angra 2) that cover about 3% of the country’s energy needs and has been trying for decades to expand its nuclear reactors fleet.

In recent years, the economic crisis has played against the program since nuclear plants require multimillion-dollar investments. The construction of the third, Angra 3, was suspended in 2015 mostly due to lack of financing and la ack of determination from Electronuclear top executives.

A few days ago the seventh pillar of the Uranium Enrichment Plant was inaugurated, which the state-owned Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) has in the state of Rio de Janeiro .”Brazil is on course to achieve its independence in the domain of nuclear energy, which will mean in the future a reduction in costs,” declared recently Gilberto Kassab, the Ministry of Science and Technology. “We are consolidating the credibility of our nuclear program so that future governments understand the importance of investing in this area.” he added.

The challenge is complex, because the economy continues to be under strong pressure, as for example, the public debt that has reached 84% of the Gross Domestic Product, according to the International Monetary Fund, and to finish the construction of Angra 3, it is required to invest more than US $ 3 Billion

“The government wants a partner to complete the plant,” declared Edmar Luiz Fagundes de Almeida, an academic at the Institute of Economics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and the definition of tariffs is one of the issues on which the group is working.”

Paulo Gregoire, analyst for Latin America at the geopolitical studies center Stratfor, tells BBC Mundo that the Temer government is trying to get its nuclear energy plan approved by Congress before the end of its period on January 1, 2019.

“It will be difficult to get approval before the end of the year,” says the expert, who agrees that the fiscal deficit is one of the major obstacles to the advancement of nuclear ambitions, in addition to the political forces that are in conflict.

“It is difficult to justify why the nuclear option is being considered again, at a time when there are other alternatives for the generation of energy,” he adds.

One possible explanation, says the expert, is that there are pressure groups with particular interests. Brazil’s nuclear program will focus mainly on energy, medicine and agriculture, says Paulo Gregoire. But the USA also does not see with good eyes that both Russia and China are developing nuclear power generation projects in a region that has traditionally been its area of ​​influence

In Latin America, only Brazil, Argentina and Mexico have nuclear power plants to supply their electricity networks. But in Bolivia, the Russian state company Rosatom is building a nuclear technology development center for applications in medicine and agriculture, while in Argentina the Commercial and Industrial Bank of China is financing the construction of two new reactors.

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Arnaud Lefevre

Arnaud Lefevre is the Chief Executive Officer of Dynatom International. Arnaud is in charge of the international development of the business portfolio.