The king of Tonga has told the nation's parliament that he believes the country should pursue nuclear power in order to meet its energy needs. The king is quoted as saying, "nature is dictating that we must look to nuclear energy." A nuclear power station would also aid the country by providing desalinated water. At present, almost the entirety of the nation's electricity comes from diesel generators, and importing diesel fuel is an expensive proposition.
The country also has outlined an energy plan, developed in 2009, which has called for half of its power to come from renewable resources. The king's recommendation was unexpected in the face of these existing plans, and might be a calculated political move intended to draw further support from non-nuclear neighbors Australia and New Zealand.
Contemporary nuclear reactor designs are vastly larger than the relatively modest electricity needs of Tonga. One suggestion the king offered was to use the country as a test-bed for a small experimental reactor. However, wind and solar could almost certainly be deployed less expensively to provide the 20 to 30 megawatts of capacity the country needs. And solar desalination systems are also in development, and could be used to address the country's freshwater problems.
via: BBC News
written by Dave K., June 23, 2010
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