I can't really understand what the fuss is about myself. Even if Australia never initiates a nuclear power program and never even ponders enrichment, reprocessing or waste storage; Australian research could do much to aid the peaceful use of nuclear technology - Silex being just one example.
But Platts contributor Daniel Horner has released a report in Nuclear Fuel [subscription required] that echos a concern I and some other Platts contributors had expressed some time ago about GNEP: that it looks - in the USA at least - to be headed the way of the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative [mostly cartooned websites that do not contain many dates nor receive frequent updates - never a good sign].
DOE's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership is likely to survive only in a pared-down form and in particular, without an emphasis on near-term deployment of commercial-scale reprocessing facilities, several observers have said in recent weeks.Specific challenges to ongoing US significant support to GNEP include a less enthusiastic US Executive Branch, the retirement of Senator Pete Dominichi [who, according to Horner, was not a 'wholehearted' supporter of the program.]
A future GNEP could look a lot like the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative did before the Bush administration launched GNEP in early 2006, these sources said. GNEP, which aims to promote the growth of nuclear power in the US and around the world while developing new types of reprocessing plants and fast-neutron reactors, is largely an expanded and accelerated version of AFCI. DOE budget documents refer to AFCI as GNEP's "technology development element."
But GNEP [remember the 'G' is for 'Global'] may or may not be America's to scale down. Since my post almost 16 months ago, several countries including nuclear middleweights Canada, Korea and heavyweight the UK have jointed GNEP. Closing the nuclear fuel cycle makes sense to a lot of people - including many in the US according to Horner. Depending on the interest of the other program participants, the overarching goals of the GNEP could still be achieved.
So what's in store for Australia? No idea.