Minister calls for closer look at nuclear power

For a second time this week, a Greek government minister hinted the country ought to look more closely at the nuclear power industry, although he made it clear that it is not currently considered as an option in its energy mix. «All our neighboring countries are building nuclear power stations. The least we can do is learn what it is all about. Greece is not considering the option but we must get away from the habit of viewing certain options beyond discussion,» Development Minister Christos Folias told an event organized by the British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (BHCC). In a statement on Tuesday, the Environment and Public Works Ministry also indicated that a debate on the possible adoption of nuclear power was called for, «so that we can make clear our country’s position on the issue.» A day earlier, Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias had said he considered nuclear power to be environmentally friendly. The option of building nuclear power stations in Greece has long been sidelined, largely due to concerns linked to the country’s high seismic activity. Folias was responding to questions at a presentation of a series of economic, sports and cultural events in Athens and Thessaloniki, designed to boost relations between Britain and Greece. They are part of the two-year program «2Nations, Athens 2008, London 2009.» UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Digby Jones, who also spoke at the presentation, said nuclear power had long provided his country’s base-load energy and was also important in dealing with the impact of global warming. He said the British government favored an optimum energy mix in which nuclear power is combined with other fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. Nuclear plants currently account for about 16 percent of UK electricity production. Folias further said Greece’s signing of a deal last week to join the South Stream pipeline, which will carry Russian natural gas west, was part of its long-term energy planning. He said it will take about six or seven years before the pipeline becomes operational and that he only wished it could have been implemented sooner. The «2Nations» events, which will run to November, will include seven conferences on merchant shipping, real estate development, energy, regional development and trade.