by Lucas Santin
The nuclear energy sector is optimistic: the expectation is for the resumption of investments in the area, with the completion of the Angra 3 plant and the possibility of building new nuclear generation units in Brazil, as the current Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, publicly defends this energy source.
A new virtuous cycle is expected throughout the production chain, from the resumption of uranium mining – at the Caetité mine, which was not operating – to the manufacture of machinery and equipment and the training of future labor, according to Celso Cunha, the president of Abdan (Brazilian Association for the Development of Nuclear Activities).
Cunha argues that a nuclear power plant should be built in the Northeast region: “I think it is very reasonable to have a plant in the Northeast now. This is because Northeastern reservoirs have been very low for many years. The region has been sustained, almost 80%, by energy that is generated by solar and wind,” he said in an interview with the iNFRA Agency. The following are the main passages of the conversation:
How does the nuclear power chain see this new moment? Are you optimistic about the coming years of government?
More than optimistic. We are coming to the conviction that Angra 3 will be completed. There is little left for this. And there is an important detail: if to finish the work of Angra 3 we need R$ 15 billion, the cost, if not finished, wil be R$ 12 billion. This is the amount it will cost to dismantle and pay suppliers. That is, the country will throw away R$ 12 billion. It is a discussion that, in my view, is already past due.
When I unlock the works of Angra 3, I am talking about very large investments: R$ 15 billion to finish the plant. For this, we will need fuel, INB (Nuclear Industries of Brazil) will be able to increase (production) and the chain will increase as a whole.
And Eletronuclear last year managed to move forward in the discussion of its debt and, especially, in the issue of electricity tariff, which will happen in 2026, when it inaugurates the Angra 3 plant. And this was a first step to unlock the construction. The new government will continue this.
The Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, is a defender of nuclear energy. Given this, is there a possibility of new plants in Brazil?
I think it’s very reasonable to have a nuclear power plant in the Northeast now. This is because Northeastern reservoirs have been very low for many years. The region has been sustained, almost 80%, by energy that is generated by solar and wind power.
This year, this generated an additional expenditure of almost R$ 1.2 billion, because the thermoelectric – mainly gas – had to bear these oscillations. So we need basic energy in the Northeast. The best thing would be to start building a nuclear power plant in the next few years. That would give the region a major future stability.
Why would the construction of a nuclear power plant in the Northeast be ideal?
The world as a whole is looking at nuclear power plants as a great outlet because they practically do not pollute anything. It is one of the lowest emissions of greenhouse gases
Now let’s discuss without prejudice. People talk without understanding and comparing things that are not comparable. The country is experiencing a water risk problem. Water is lacking in the plants, we can not produce more. You can not compare nuclear energy with solar and wind energy because nuclear energy is the base, that is, when you want, it is always there. Unlike solar and wind, which are not better or worse, but that suffer variations.
So we need two paths. But those who play the role of the base plants, which hold the system as a whole, are reservoir hydroelectric plants, gas, oil or coal thermal and nuclear thermal.
Is nuclear energy competitive in terms of prices with other sources?
If you look, there is no nuclear energy competition with wind and solar because you can not solve the problem of the world with wind and solar, there is no such hypothesis because they oscillate a lot, although they are good and have their profits.
Water is lacking in the reservoirs because they have lost their accumulated capacity over the years and have not recovered as they should have. We have to resort to thermal energy. We use a lot of thermal energy based on gas.
What happened in the dry season? Energy reached R$ 700 or R$ 900 a MWh. Much larger than the value of Angra 3, which will be R$ 480 a MWh in 2026. We have to understand this: one thing has nothing to do with the other.
Does the industry support a private partner at Eletronuclear?
Yes of course. Everyone is optimistic. We expect the new government to place Angra 3’s edicts as quickly as possible on the street. This is going to be a big leap.