《经济学人》:核能,烟雾消散之后
日期:2011-04-18 11:38

(单词翻译:单击)

The Fukushima crisis will slow the growth of nuclear power. Might it reverse it?
福岛危机将减缓核能的增长,但它是否会扭转其发展势头?

FEAR and uncertainty spread faster and farther than any nuclear fallout. To date the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan, laid low by the tsunami of March 11th, seems to have done little if any long-term damage to the environment beyond the plant’s immediate vicinity or to public health. In fits and starts, and with various reverses, the situation at the plant has come closer to being under control.

与任何核辐射相比,恐惧与惶惑的传播速度更快,范围更远。迄今为止,因311海啸而陷入瘫痪的日本福岛第一核电站,看起来并没有对除电厂毗邻区域以外的环境和公众健康造成(甚至没有造成)多大的长期伤害。伴随着事态的种种反复,福岛核电站的状况已在曲折中更加趋于受控。

But the immediate crisis is far from over. The temperature of the three reactors with damaged central cores still fluctuates and water systems for the spent-fuel pools are jury-rigged at best. Contaminated food has been found a disconcertingly long way away, although it seems to be being kept out of the food chain. There are worries about tap water in distant Tokyo.

不过,眼下的危机远未结束。三座堆芯中心受损的反应堆的温度仍起伏不定,而乏燃料池供水系统也顶多只是被应急修复而已。人们在远方发现了受污染的食物,其与核电站相距之远令人不安,不过这些食物看起来被排除在了食物链以外。而遥远的东京也出现了对自来水的担忧。

There will certainly be more durable effects too. Years of clean-up will drag into decades. A permanent exclusion zone could end up stretching beyond the plant’s perimeter. Seriously exposed workers may be at increased risk of cancers for the rest of their lives (which may nevertheless be long). A concern for the long term, like uncertainty and fear, is one of the things that nuclear power invariably brings to discussions of future energy.

更加持久的影响也必将出现。数年的清理工作将会延长为数十年;永久无人区的范围可能最终将超出核电站厂区之外;受到严重辐射的工人们在其(或许仍然漫长的)余生中罹患癌症的几率可能会更高。在关于未来能源的讨论中,诸如惶惑以及恐惧等长期顾虑也是核能必然引入的事项之一。

To a lot of environmentalists, the priority is to get nuclear power out of those discussions once and for all. Simply put, you can’t trust the stuff. Somewhere, eventually, reactors will get out of control. One did at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979. One did at Chernobyl in 1986. Now three have done so again, and an argument that had seemed to be running short of puff (Chernobyl’s 25th anniversary comes up in April) is revived. Though this disaster has been nothing like as bad as Chernobyl, it is in some ways a lot worse than Three Mile Island—a bit like three Three Mile Islands in a row, with added damage in the spent-fuel stores.

对于众多环保主义者而言,其首要考虑是将核能一劳永逸地排除在这些讨论之外。简而言之,人们不能相信核能。总归会有某处的反应堆将要失控。1979年,宾夕法尼亚州三里岛有一座反应堆失控;1986年,切尔诺贝利有一座反应堆失控;如今,又有三座重蹈覆辙,而且一种曾经似已偃旗息鼓的说法(到4月份,切尔诺贝利事故便已发生25周年了),如今又重获生机。尽管此次灾难迄今为止,还根本不像切尔诺贝利事故那样恶劣,但从某些意义上说,它却远远糟于三里岛核事故——它有些类似于连续发生三次的三里岛事故,外加乏燃料贮存池所受的损害。

Fukushima Dai-ichi, it is true, was swamped by a natural catastrophe of biblical proportions. But this argument cuts both ways. Nuclear planners clearly did not appreciate how bad things could get on a low-lying coast in a seismic zone; and poor planning is part of the problem. One reason why Japanese confidence in nuclear power had been growing in recent years was that past scandals led to resignations and the prospect of reform among planners, power companies and regulators. Whereas in 2005 only a quarter of people felt nuclear energy was safe, by last year more than 40% did, according to a survey by Japan’s Cabinet Office. Finding sites for new reactors was not proving easy—and old reactors stayed online as a result—but it did not seem impossible.

的确,福岛第一核电站灭顶之灾的元凶是一场规模极为宏大的自然灾难。不过这种说法却是双刃剑。核能规划者们显然未能认识到在震区地势低洼的海岸边,情况能够变得多糟;而拙劣的设计正是问题的一部分。近年来,日本人对核能的信心之所以越发高涨,其原因之一在于往日的丑闻以辞职收场,并带来了规划者、电力公司和监管者进行改革的前景。根据日本内阁府的调查,2005年时仅有四分之一的民众认为核能是安全的,而去年持此观点者已超过四成。为新反应堆选址虽并不容易(这导致旧反应堆仍在入网发电),但看起来也并非毫无可能。

Elsewhere, too, the industry was reviving. Figures from the World Nuclear Association, a trade body, have shown more capacity planned and proposed than on the ground. Now much of this expansion looks likely to be curtailed. Even the replacement of reactors may be in question.

核能产业在其他地区也在重现生机。来自行业组织——世界核协会(World Nuclear Association)的数据已经表明,计划或提议开发的核能大于现有产能。如今看来,这种产能扩张中可能将有许多会被削减,甚至连反应堆的替换或许都得打上问号。

When last year a volcano closed the skies over Europe and a blown-out oil-rig turned the Gulf of Mexico black, there was no widespread enthusiasm for giving up oil or air travel. But nuclear power is much less fundamental to the workings of the world than petrol or aeroplanes. Nuclear reactors generate only 14% of the world’s electricity, and with a median age of about 27 years (see chart) and a typical design life of 40 a lot are nearing retirement. Although the world is eager to fly and thirsts for oil, it has had little appetite for new nuclear power for the past quarter of a century.

当去年一座火山令欧洲空域关闭,一座失控爆炸的石油钻井平台将墨西哥湾染成黑色时,人们并未对放弃石油或航空旅行产生过广泛的热情。不过,与石油或飞机相比,核能对世界运行的基础性作用要弱得多。核反应堆发电量仅为全球总发电量的14%,而其年龄中位数为27年,设计寿命一般为40年,许多反应堆正临近退役。尽管世界急欲飞行而又渴求石油,但在过去的25年中,它对新增核能却并无多大胃口。

This is not just the direct result of Chernobyl. New nuclear plants cost a great deal of money. After Fukushima they are likely to cost even more, thanks to extra uncertainty in licensing and approval if nothing else. Another problem now made manifest is that if operator error or shoddy construction causes a reactor of the same design as yours halfway round the world to go wrong, yours may be shut down too. This is not a merely theoretical possibility. Seven German nuclear reactors which were officially safe until mid-March have been shut down. It is widely thought that at least some will not open again.

这并不只是切尔诺贝利事故的直接后果。新核电站的成本非常巨大,在福岛核事故之后,由于至少会在授予许可和批准两方面出现额外的不确定性,因此新核电站的成本或许还会上升。另一个如今显而易见的问题则是:如果一座与你的设备相隔万里、但设计相同的反应堆,因操作人员错误操作或豆腐渣工程而发生事故的话,那么你所拥有的反应堆可能也将被关闭。这种情况并非只在理论上存在可能。德国有7座在3月中旬之前被官方认为安全的核反应堆已被关闭。人们普遍认为,其中至少有几座再也不会重新运行。

And if that happens, Germany will not suffer much. While the nuclear industry has stalled since Chernobyl, natural gas and renewables have come on impressively. German electricity prices would probably go up, depending to some extent on the price of gas and carbon, because although new nuclear plants are expensive, old, depreciated ones make cheap electricity. But it would not be the end of the world.

而如果这种情况成真,德国也不会深受其害。当核能产业自切尔诺贝利事故以来便已陷入停滞之时,天然气和可再生能源却以惊人的速度发展。德国电价或许将会上升,在一定程度上这取决于天然气和碳燃料的价格,这是因为尽管新核电站造价高昂,但折旧的老核电站却在生产着廉价的电能。不过,世界也不会因此而陷入穷途末路。

The 14% solution14%解决方案

Nuclear power thus looks dangerous, unpopular, expensive and risky. It is replaceable with relative ease and could be forgone with no huge structural shifts in the way the world works. So what would the world be like without it?

有鉴于此,核能看起来既危险而不受欢迎,又昂贵且存在风险。人们可以相对轻松地用其他能源取而代之,而放弃核能又不会对世界的运行模式带来巨大的结构性变化。那么,没有核能的世界又将是怎样一番模样呢?

The most obvious answer is: a bit warmer. In 2009 the world’s electricity generators emitted about 9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, out of an industrial total of 30 billion tonnes and a grand total, including deforestation and the effects of other gases, equivalent to some 50 billion. Without nuclear power and with other fuels filling in its share pro rata, emissions from generation would have been about 11 billion tonnes. The difference is roughly equal to the total annual emissions of Germany and Japan combined.

最明显的答案便是:世界将变得更温暖一些。2009年,全球发电设备共排放二氧化碳90亿吨左右,工业总排放量为300亿吨,而将毁林和其他(温室)气体效应包含在内的排放总量约等于500亿吨。当核能被放弃,而其份额被其他燃料按比例填补时,发电所排放的二氧化碳将达到110亿吨左右。两者差额几乎等于德国和日本的年排放总量。

To put that in perspective, in 2010 the UN Environment Programme estimated that for the world to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to less than 2°C, carbon-dioxide emissions should be reduced to 44 billion tonnes by 2020. With business as usual, emissions would be between 54 billion and 60 billion tonnes. If countries took the most ambitious of the courses of action that they have outlined to the UN, the figure comes down to about 49 billion tonnes, leaving an “emissions gap” of 5 billion tonnes that seems highly unlikely to be bridged. So the 2 billion tonnes saved by nuclear power is not vast, but it is significant.

其中的意义在于,联合国环境规划署曾在2010年进行估算,若想让世界有合理的机会将全球变暖的幅度限制在2摄氏度以下,则二氧化碳排放量应当在2020年时被削减至440亿吨。若按正常状况计算,排放量将在540亿吨至600亿吨之间。如果各国在其向联合国列出的各种行动路径中选取目标最为宏大的一种,则这一数字将降至490亿吨左右,而这将留下似乎很难弥合的50亿吨“排放缺口”。因此,核能所节约的20亿吨数量虽不巨大,但意义却颇为重大。

That said, a complete withdrawal from nuclear energy is not on the cards. Though China, which has 77 reactors at various stages of construction, planning and discussion, has said it will review its programme in the aftermath of Fukushima, few expect it to stop entirely. China has a great appetite for energy, which will continue to grow. For now its energy sector is highly concentrated on coal, but so that the country can both diversify and clean its air China’s latest five-year plan aims for growth in all sorts of non-coal energy, including wind power, gas and nuclear. Adverse public opinion and the additional cost of capital caused by uncertainties over regulatory approval have much less salience in China than elsewhere.

这意味着核能不太可能被全面放弃。尽管有77座正处在建设、规划和讨论等不同阶段的反应堆的中国,已经表示将在福岛事故之后重审其计划,但很少有人认为中国将全面停止核计划。中国对能源的胃口极大,而且这种欲求还将继续膨胀。目前,中国能源领域高度集中于煤炭,不过,因为该国既能使能源多元化,又能改善其空气质量,因此中国最新的五年规划以各类非煤炭能源的增长为目标,其中包括风力、天然气和核能。在中国,公众的反对态度以及由获得监管部门批准的不确定性所导致的资本额外成本,其显著意义要远远小于其他国家。

Some other countries will also go ahead: Russia says it sees no reason to stop work on ten reactors that are in development. But there could still be a widespread withdrawal from the technology by OECD countries, caused by national changes in policy or stiffer local opposition. And grand though China’s ambitions are, for now OECD countries produce more than 80% of the world’s nuclear electricity.

其他某些国家也会继续开发核电:俄罗斯表示并未发现停止建设开发中的10座反应堆的理由。不过,经合组织国家却仍有可能因为国家政策变化或地区更强硬的反对而普遍放弃核电技术。而且,尽管中国雄心勃勃,但目前经合组织国家的核发电量超过全球核电总产量的八成。

Analysts at Société Générale, a French bank, argue that if these rich countries built no more reactors and allowed existing ones to close at the end of their planned lives, an extra 860m tonnes of carbon a year would be emitted, on average, from 2010 to 2030. This may underestimate the impact on the system as a whole, because nuclear plants and large dams are the only broadly reliable sources of baseload electricity that do not burn fossil fuels. Although renewable capacity has been added quickly in some countries, you cannot be sure that the wind will blow or the sun will shine to order. A fair part of this can be smoothed out if the various sources are linked into an electric grid that is sufficiently large, robust and smart, but that does not obviate all the need for baseload.

法国兴业银行(Société Générale)分析师提出:如果这些富裕国家不再建造更多的反应堆,并让现有反应堆在其设计寿命到期后关闭的话,在2010至2030年间,平均每年将额外排放8.6亿吨碳。这或许低估了它对整个体系带来的冲击,因为在不燃烧化石燃料的基本电力负载来源中,只有核电站和大坝基本可靠。尽管一些国家的可再生能源产能已在快速增长,但人们却不能确定风和阳光能够按需而至。如将不同能量来源联入一张足够庞大、稳健、智能的电网,则此问题能有一大部分得到解决,但这并不会完全消除对基本负载的各种需求。

Most studies assume that in a fully decarbonised electricity system the baseload would come either from nuclear or from fossil-fuel plants fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. However, CCS has yet to be demonstrated on anything like the necessary scale, so deploying enough of it to replace existing and expected nuclear plants is a tall order. And a public that was turning against hubristic nuclear engineering might also object to the large-scale storage of a potentially asphyxiating gas beneath the ground, which CCS requires. This “numby” (not under my back yard) attitude has already affected some pilot projects.

大多数研究认定:在一个完全无碳化的电力系统中,基本负载或来自核能,或来自装备有碳捕获和储存(CCS)技术的化石燃料发电站。然而,碳捕获和储存技术尚未在任何与必要规模相类似的设施中得到过演示,因此,部署足量此类装置以替代现有和预期建造的核电站,将会相当困难。此外,已对自负的核能工程技术产生反感的公众,或许也会反对在地下大规模储存一种有潜在窒息风险的气体,而这种大规模储存又为碳捕获和储存装置所必须。此般“别建在我家后院”的态度已经对一些试点项目产生了影响。

Damn Vermont Yankee该死的佛蒙特扬基核电站

America, which leads the world in installed nuclear power, may lead the world in turning away from the technology, too. In 2007 Congress agreed to provide loan guarantees for nuclear power; some 28 applications for new stations have since been filed. Barack Obama pledged in his state-of-the-union address in January 2010 to build a “new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants”. Even before Fukushima, though, this was looking increasingly unlikely. The recession hit demand. Ever-more-available shale gas brought a cheap and reliable alternative route to domestically fuelled electricity. And the lack of climate legislation meant there was no price on carbon, which would have favoured nuclear power.

在核能装机方面居世界之首的美国,或许也将带头远离这项技术。2007年,美国国会同意为核电提供贷款担保,此后人们已提交了大约28份新核电站的建设申请。贝拉克??奥巴马在其2010年1月的国情咨文讲话中许诺建设“新一代安全、清洁的核电站”。不过,这种前景的可能性即便是在福岛核事故发生之前,看起来就已日渐渺茫。经济衰退打击了能源需求。愈加容易获取的页岩气为国产燃料发电提供了一条廉价又可靠的可选路径。而缺乏环境立法则意味着碳排放成本为零,而这种成本原本将有利于核能。

There are just two new American reactors under construction, neither with full regulatory approval (a third, approved under an earlier system and then put on ice, is also under way). Few in the industry expect many more. Applications for around 20 plants to extend their licences are before the government and requests for 15 more are expected shortly. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has already granted them to 64 plants, most recently on March 21st to Vermont Yankee, which is of the same design and vintage as the Fukushima reactors. This similarity has not been lost on the Vermonters trying with renewed vigour to shut it down. Expect more local opposition in years to come.

目前美国正在建设的新反应堆仅有两座,且两者都未完全获得监管部门的批准(第三座新反应堆曾在较早的体系下获得批准,但其后计划被拖延,如今也在建设之中)。核能产业中很少有谁还指望着能新增许多反应堆。关于为大约20座反应堆延长许可有效期的申请已被递交政府,另外15座的申请预计很快也会被提出。核能管理委员会已经为64座核电站发放了延期许可,其中最新一张发放于3月21日,获得延期的是与福岛反应堆设计和年龄相同的佛蒙特扬基核电站。这种相似性并没有被重振旗鼓、试图关闭这座核电站的佛蒙特人所忽略。预计在未来几年中,还将会出现更多的地方反对。

In Japan, where nuclear power provides 30% of the country’s electricity, the debate may be more complex than outsiders imagine. Japan’s nuclear anguish stems more from the way the industry is run than from its technological essence. The Japanese are angry at bureaucrats and TEPCO, the company that owns Fukushima Dai-ichi, for a long record of shoddy safety standards and cover-ups. “Amakudari kills,” tweeted a well-known reformer recently, referring to the “descent from heaven” of senior bureaucrats to cushy jobs in industries they used to regulate. So although Japan may phase out a lot of older reactors, the public may tolerate nuclear power in the form of new, better plants with management it trusts.

在核能提供了该国30%电力的日本,这场争议或许会比外界所想象的更为复杂。日本核能之痛更多源自核能产业的运营模式,而非其技术本质。日本国民因为虚假的安全标准和掩饰问题的长期历史而对官僚和福岛第一核电站的所有者——东京电力公司感到愤怒。一位知名改革者近期在推特上写道:“官员空降害死人”。此处“官员空降”(amakudari)指高层官僚“从天而降”,在其曾经监管过的产业中谋得轻松的差事。因此,尽管日本可能会逐步淘汰一大批年代较久的反应堆,但公众或许能够容忍以新的、更好的、管理可以信赖的核电站形式产生的核能。

In the European Union Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland and Portugal are strongly anti-nuclear, but the EU as a whole is unlikely to go their way. Its response to Fukushima has been to call for “stress tests” of its members’ reactors. Britain, the Czech Republic and Finland hope soon to build some more. Finland and France, which produces more of its electricity in nuclear plants than any other big country, each have under construction a plant of the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) design developed by AREVA, a French industrial group. Plans may be delayed or diminished, but a complete halt to building is unlikely.

而在欧盟,奥地利、丹麦、希腊、爱尔兰以及葡萄牙抱有强烈的反核态度,不过欧盟整体上不太可能遵循它们的这一立场。对于福岛核事故,欧盟所作反应是号召对其成员国的反应堆进行“压力测试”。英国、捷克以及芬兰有望很快建设更多的反应堆。法国通过核电站发电的比例高于其他任何大国,该国与芬兰各自都在建设一座由法国工业集团阿海珐公司(AREVA)开发的欧洲压水堆(EPR)型核电站。核开发计划或许会被推迟或缩减,但完全停止建造的可能性不大。

France, in particular, seems certain to remain resolutely pro-nuclear. The French nuclear industry may even see Fukushima as an opportunity. The EPR is touted as being especially safe: if concerns about safety could be turned into a regulatory case for building only EPRs in Europe, so much the better. The British, Czechs and Finns, who are all also looking at a design by America’s Westinghouse (the Finns are examining a South Korean one, too), would not be keen to be captive customers, but they may choose EPRs anyway.

尤其是法国,看似肯定将继续坚定地支持核能。法国核能产业可能甚至将福岛事故视为一次机遇。欧洲压水堆被宣称为格外安全:如果对安全的关切能转化为欧洲只能建造欧洲压水堆的监管问题,那就更好了。英国人、捷克人和芬兰人也都在关注美国西屋公司的一款设计(芬兰人还在审视韩国的一款反应堆),他们不会乐于使自己的选择局限于法国,不过他们或许仍会选择欧洲压水堆。

The most labile European country on matters nuclear has, not surprisingly, been Germany, where great engineering and anti-nuclear sentiment have long coexisted uneasily. In 2002 the then centre-left government said it would phase out nuclear power by 2022. Last year the current, centre-right lot extended the lives of seven ageing reactors by eight years. In response to Fukushima it shut them again, at first for three months.

不出所料,在核问题上立场最不稳定的欧洲国家一直是德国,该国强大的工程技术与反核情绪在不安状态中长期共存。2002年,当时执政的中左翼政府宣称将于2022年前逐步淘汰核能;而在去年,目前执政的中右翼人士则将7座日渐老化的反应堆的寿命延长了8年。作为对福岛核事故的回应,德国政府再度关闭了这些反应堆,关停期最初定为3个月。

Getting gas利用天然气

Some or all of those plants may not reopen. If none did, then according to Stefan W??chter of Point Carbon, a research firm, German carbon-dioxide emissions would increase by 435m tonnes in the decade to 2020. Analysis by Deutsche Bank suggests that at least 23 gigawatts of new gas-fired capacity would need to be built by the same year. Gas-fired plants are the natural short-term response in part because Germany’s grid cannot take much more in terms of renewables (of which the country already has a lot) both because of their peaks and troughs and because some would need to be offshore. That said, demand for renewables elsewhere might increase, as Germany’s extra use of fossil fuels pushed up the price of carbon in Europe’s emissions-trading scheme.

这些核电站中的部分或者全部可能不会再重新启用。如果它们全部关闭的话,那么根据供职于点碳(Point Carbon) 研究公司的斯蒂凡??瓦赫特(Stefan W??chter)的说法,德国的二氧化碳排放量将在2020年前的10年间增长4.35亿吨。德意志银行的分析表明,德国需在2020年前至少新增230亿瓦燃气发电量。部分是由于德国电网无法再承载多少可再生能源(该国已在大量利用可再生能源),因此燃气发电厂成了一种自然而然的短期应对措施;之所以无法承载,既是因为可再生能源的峰谷波动,又是因为部分项目需要离岸建设。话虽如此,但由于德国对化石燃料的额外使用推高了欧洲排放交易体系的碳价格,因此其他地区对可再生能源的需求有可能增加。

In its likely switch to gas, Germany reflects the probable post-Fukushima world. In any country where nuclear provides less electricity than had been expected, in the near term gas is favourite to make up the shortfall. Société Générale’s analysis suggests that a full withdrawal from nuclear by OECD countries would increase demand for gas by more than 400 billion cubic metres a year by 2045.

在可能转而使用天然气一事上,德国反映出了后福岛世界的可能景象。在任何核发电量少于此前预期的国家,近期内弥补短缺的最佳选择便是天然气。兴业银行分析报告提出:若经合组织国家完全放弃核能,到2045年时,天然气的年需求量将会增加4000亿立方米以上。

In America and Canada the nuclear slack could be taken up by domestically produced gas, Société Générale reckons, reflecting the sheer scale of the shale-gas revolution there. The rest of the world would either buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) or get gas in pipelines, a prospect that relations with Russia have made irksome to some. Energy-security concerns partly explained why Germany decided to delay its phasing out of nuclear plants. Now it and other European countries may buy a lot more Russian gas. To Russia one of the attractions of continuing with nuclear power is that it frees gas for export.

兴业银行估计,美国和加拿大的核发电量下降可以通过国产天然气弥补,这反映出美加两国页岩气革命的真实规模。世界其他地区则得在购买液化天然气与通过管道进口天然气之间做出选择,而与俄罗斯的关系则已使后一种前景令某些国家感到苦恼。对于能源安全的关切可以部分解释德国为何决定推迟对核电站的逐步淘汰。如今,德国和其他欧洲国家或许会购买远多于此前的俄罗斯天然气。对于俄罗斯而言,继续利用核能的吸引力之一则在于,它使得天然气可被用于出口。

Yet a gassier Europe may not need to worry too much about security of supply. At least in the near term there is plenty of LNG because capacity originally intended to serve America is no longer needed for that purpose. This is good news for Europe and for Japan, which in the short run needs gas and oil to make up for lost production at Fukushima and other nuclear plants closed in the earthquake’s aftermath, regardless of its long-term choices.

然而,燃气比例更高的欧洲也许不必过多地为供应安全感到担忧。由于原本旨在供应美国的液化天然气产能已无需用于这一目的,因此至少在短期之内,将有充足的液化天然气供应。这对于欧洲和日本来说是一条好消息,无论日本作何长期选择,该国在短期之内需要依靠天然气和石油来弥补福岛核电站以及其他在地震余波中关闭的核电站的产能损失。

Some expect this surplus to last throughout the 2010s, as new sources become available. Others fear, or hope, that the market could tighten quite quickly. Paul McConnell of Wood Mackenzie, another research firm, has argued that for China to meet a pledged 40% reduction in the carbon intensity of its economy by 2020 would require a lot more gas than currently expected. If nuclear plants contribute less, that will be truer than ever. But though gas supply may tighten, there is still, by all estimates, a lot of it around for the medium to long term.

某些人士预计,随着新的来源可资利用,这种供应过剩将会在整个21世纪10年代中持续;其他人士则担心(或者希望)市场将会很快趋紧。另一家研究公司——伍德麦肯兹公司(Wood Mackenzie)的保罗??麦康奈尔(Paul McConnell)已经指出,中国若想在2020年前实现其经济碳密度降低四成的承诺,该国的天然气需求量就将远远高于现有预期。如果核电站的发电量减少,情况就更是如此。不过,尽管天然气供应或将趋紧,但所有预测都认为在中长期时段上,仍然会有大量天然气。

In the long term we’re not all dead长期看来,我们并非全都难逃一劫

Gas would be an early winner in a less nuclear world. But renewables might also do well. When cheap and plentiful gas replaces coal in electricity generation, it often reduces emissions much more cheaply than renewables can. But when gas replaces nuclear, it increases emissions. Any country serious about tackling climate change will therefore want more fossil-fuel-free generation elsewhere in the system. Renewables would have a clearer run at that segment of the market.

在一个核能利用程度降低的世界中,天然气将会是早期的赢家。不过可再生能源或许也能有出色的表现。当廉价而充足的天然气取代煤炭在电力生产中的地位之时,它常常会以远低于可再生能源的代价减少碳排放;但当天然气取代的是核能时,则会增加排放量。因此,任何一个认真应对气候变化的国家,都将会希望系统中存在更多的非化石燃料发电。在市场的这一领域内,可再生能源的趋势将更加清晰。

Distressing though it is, the crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi is not in itself a reason for the world to change energy policy. The public-health effects seem likely, in the long run, to be small. Coal, with its emissions of sulphur, mercury and soot, will continue to kill far more people per kilowatt hour than nuclear does. But as an opportunity to reflect it may be welcome.

尽管福岛第一核电站的危机令人悲痛,但它自身却并非世界改变能源政策的理由。长期看来,这场危机对公共健康带来的影响可能不大。而排放硫、汞和煤灰的煤炭,其每千瓦时产能所造成的死亡人数仍将远远高于核能。不过,人们或许会欢迎以此为契机对其进行反思。

An energy portfolio, like any other, is a basket of risks: of security of supply, cost and environmental damage. Fear and uncertainty, which nuclear fission produces as unavoidably as it does iodine-131, distort people’s perceptions of those risks. The long-term outlook which nuclear power also brings with it should clarify them.

能源组合与其他任何投资组合一样,都是一揽子风险:其中包括供应安全风险、成本风险以及环境破坏风险。就像核裂变会不可避免地产生碘131一样,它也总是会带来恐惧和惶惑,而这两种情绪则扭曲了人们对于上述风险的认知。而同样将由核能带来的长期前景,则应当澄清这些认知。

Over the next 40 years, four things look clear. The world’s people would be healthier and its climate less prone to change if it used a lot less coal; that requires greater energy efficiency, more renewable power and better grids, all of which also allow greater energy security; significantly more research would help; and the supply of gas is much larger and more reliable than was thought just ten years ago, which will lower the costs of change. Because nuclear power saves carbon, doing without it would make action on climate harder. But because it increases capital costs and systemic risks, it would rarely have grown that much anyway outside a few countries. It won’t go away, but it must to some extent remain a sideshow, however spectacular it looks when it goes wrong.

在未来的40年中,有四点看起来明白无误。如果世界大幅度减少对煤炭的消耗,那么其民众将会更加健康,全球气候的变数也会下降;这需要更高的能源效率、更多的可再生能源以及更好的电网,而这三者也能带来更高的能源安全性;大幅增加的研究将有所裨益;而天然气的供应则比仅仅10年前所认为的要多上许多,其可靠性也更高,而这将会降低变革的成本。由于核能减少了碳消耗,因此不使用核能将会使气候方面的行动更加困难。但由于核能增加了资本成本和系统风险,因此除少数几国之外,它不管怎样都不太可能取得多大的发展。核能不会消失,但无论在发生事故时场面有多么宏大,从某种意义上说,它必然依旧只是主流之外的一个余兴节目。

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重点单词
  • mediumn. 媒体,方法,媒介 adj. 适中的,中等的
  • capacityn. 能力,容量,容积; 资格,职位 adj. (达到最
  • reflectv. 反映,反射,归咎
  • durableadj. 耐用持久的 n. (复)耐用品
  • distressingadj. 使人痛苦的,令人烦恼的 动词词distress
  • immediateadj. 立即的,即刻的,直接的,最接近的
  • keenadj. 锋利的,敏锐的,强烈的,精明的,热衷的
  • surplusadj. 多余的,过剩的 n. 过剩,剩余物,盈余
  • confidenceadj. 骗得信任的 n. 信任,信心,把握
  • pilotn. 飞行员,领航员,引航员 vt. 领航,驾驶,向导