NotiEn - A Newsletter on Energy Policy Issues in Latin America
November 25, 2010Vol 2, Issue 2
Nuclear Energy
Chile & Venezuela lean towards Nuclear Energy...

Nuclear energy is seen as a viable option to address electricity shortages around the globe, and two countries in opposite ends of South America are looking closely at this alternative. In this issue of NotiEn, we examine how Chile and Venezuela view expansion of their nuclear capacities.   

In Chile, President Sebastián Pińera has given signals that he is open to the possibility that the South American country could at some point consider the construction of nuclear power plants on Chilean soil.  Argentina and Brazil, two of Chile's neighbors in the Southern Cone, are moving forward with plans to expand their nuclear power capabilities, but Chile is on the fence. Even though he is keeping an open mind, Pińera has stopped short of declaring that Chile is moving forward with any plans to introduce nuclear power to the Andean nation.


The movement toward nuclear power is not as ambivalent in Venezuela, where President Hugo Chávez has signed an ambitious agreement with Russia to construct a nuclear power plant on Venezuelan territory. Under the agreement, Russia agreed to transfer certain nuclear technology to Venezuela to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. Chávez views the development of nuclear energy as essential because of the limited capabilities of the country's hydroelectric network.

Carlos Navarro - Editor


"Still Undecided", but Chile Leans Towards Nuclear Energy
By Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

A revealing visit to France last month by President Sebastián Pińera has reignited a long smoldering debate in Chile over the "nuclear option". Careful not to endorse the possibility outright, the Chilean leader nevertheless make it clear during an Oct. 20 stopover in Paris that, "with the benefit of some French know-how, nuclear power plants may eventually be in the cards for Chile".


Chile has to prepare itself for the world of nuclear energy, Pińera said following a meeting with his French counterpart President Nicolas Sarkozy. "Our government has the obligation to prepare our engineers, scientists, and technical workers".


The two signed a "strategic alliance" under which Chile looks to benefit from France's considerable experience with atomic power plants.  Atomic energy provides roughly 78% of the European nation's electricity.  More specifically, the Chilean president announced plans to send some 30 professionals to France to learn the ins and outs of its nuclear-power industry. Read more...


In This Issue...
A Note from the Editor
"Still Undecided", but Chile leans towards nuclear energy
Venezuela and Russia sign nuclear energy deal
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Venezuela and Russia Sign Nuclear Energy Deal

By Andrés Gaudín


After six months of electricity rationing that took a significant political toll on President Hugo Chávez, Venezuela and Russia signed an ambitious agreement by which Russia pledged to build a nuclear power plant in Venezuela and transfer certain nuclear technology to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. The commitment, which also included bilateral cooperation in other areas--finance (creating a Russian-Venezuelan bank), trade, housing construction, military equipment, oil and technology provision--makes the two countries what Russian President Dmitri Medvedev called "strategic partners".


On Oct. 15, when the ink was barely dry on the 15 protocols signed in Moscow that deepened the friendship between the two countries, Chávez and Medvedev let it be known that they expected negative reactions from other countries--"there could be those who without reason are nervous about this," said Chávez in a veiled reference to the US--but they made it clear that there was no cause for concern because the agreement is transparent and the plant that Venezuela will have will be used for scientific, not bellicose, purposes. Read more... 

Energy Policy, Regulation and Dialogue in Latin America

NotiEn is an original newsletter with breaking news that analyzes and digests relevant and contemporary information in energy, alternative energy and energy policies in Latin America. A complimentary service provided by the University of New Mexico as part of LA-ENERGAIA Project funded by the US TICFIA Program