Nuclear power comes under attack; solar stocks increase

14. March 2011 | Top News, Markets & Trends, Industry & Suppliers, Investor news | By:  Becky Stuart

Following the explosions at several of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plants, and the uncertainty surrounding their safe shutdown, global calls for renewable energy to replace nuclear have been made. Solar stocks have also profited.

nuclear power plant

The catastrophe in Japan has highlighted the dangers of nuclear power. Image: Flickr/huntz.

The catastrophic earthquake and Tsunami which hit Japan last week has placed the issue of nuclear firmly in the spotlight. The disaster has also prompted many to state that renewable energy sources could receive stronger support levels.

Currently, E.ON and RWE have seen massive stock price losses, while, Conergy’s stock, for example, rose by 32 percent. At noon, the stocks were still worth more than 20 percent. Furthermore, the shares of Q-Cells and SolarWorld were up by around 15 percent. "Overall, we expect all renewable stocks to see a share price increase today," stated Götz Fischbeck, senior equity analyst for PV stocks at BHF Bank AG.

He added that "more favorable (or less tight) tariff adjustments for PV installations" could be expected in the future.

Global ban

Meanwhile, the World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) has called for a global ban on new nuclear power, a phase-out of current plants, and an immediate move to the usage of 100 percent of renewable energy.

In a statement, it said: "This momentous event now raises the additional spectre of an hitherto unthinkable and manmade catastrophe: a series of nuclear meltdowns - due to the entirely unnecessary reliance on nuclear power.

"The WCRE insists on the global and coordinated move to finally outlaw all nuclear power. After Harrisburg, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima it is time to wake up and terminate reliance on and trade in this incredibly dangerous technology. No matter how small the risk of a similar event may be in any country – it can never be excluded.

"It is high time for the immediate and unwavering turn to a fully renewable world: there is no country that cannot be provided with renewable energy alone."

In an interview with Reuters, Trina Solar chief executive, Gao Jifan, stated: "My personal view is that we need to seriously reassess the development of nuclear power plants and put more energy in developing renewable energies such as solar power. Even the Chinese nuclear power plants under construction need to be re-evaluated."

Postponed

The Guardian has also reported that a press briefing, scheduled to be held in the UK tomorrow, and aimed at promoting nuclear energy has been postponed. Switzerland’s Government is also said to have put its nuclear plans on hold. In another report, the news source states that around 50,000 people gathered in southern Germany to take part in an already planned anti-nuclear demonstration.

Fischbeck added that the disaster may also lead to a reversal of the German legislation, which plans to extend the useful life of the current nuclear power plants in Germany. Moreover, he said it could serve as an argument that would prevent a hard cap from being imposed by the German parliament for the upcoming renewal of the renewable power legislation.

Response

In other news, Solutia has said that while no one was injured at its Kashima facility, and no damages were experienced, operations have been temporarily suspended due to loss of power. AUO Optronics is also reported to be in a similar situation.

In response to the crisis, many companies have offered aid to Japan. Mage Solar, for instance, has donated USD$35,000. In a statement, CEO Norbert Phillip commented: "We are in a state of shock in regards to the events in Japan. Our hearts go out to the Japanese people, some of which have become valued business partners and dear friends. They are now in our thoughts and prayers during this terrible time, as are all the victims of this terrible natural disaster."

In terms of impacting the semiconductor industry, IHS iSuppli has said: "The major impact on Japan’s semiconductor production is not likely to be direct damage to production facilities, but disruption to the supply chain. Suppliers are likely to encounter difficulties in getting raw materials supplied and distributed and shipping products out. This is likely to cause some disruption in semiconductor supplies from Japan during the next two weeks, based on the IHS iSuppli preliminary assessment of the situation."


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