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商业 - 能源

日本核危机不会动摇全球能源市场

Nin-Hai Tseng 2011年03月31日

即便全球核电开发规模缩减,也不会对能源价格产生很大影响。现实情况是核电规模仍然很小。

核复兴还远称不上是一场大规模复兴。

    当日本的核电站工作人员正忙着遏制这场25年来全球最严重的核危机事态,全球各国政府不禁开始拷问核电的安全性。德国已暂时关闭建成年代较早的核电站,中国推迟了新核电项目的审批,而其他国家,包括美国在内,都在呼吁应更加严格地审查核政策及电厂选址。

    一些分析人士猜测本次危机最终将推高全球能源价格。上周前4个交易日,纽约4月份交货的天然气价格已上涨1.8%,至4.244美元/百万英热单位。天然气期货也比一年前上涨了3.4%。而在由彭博(Bloomberg)新闻社进行的一项调查中, 14位分析师中有6位认为由于日本核反应堆受损将部分分流原本可能运至美国的液化天然气,天然气期货价格涨势将持续至4月1日。

    此外,Pritchard Capital Partners驻休斯顿的分析师阿努基•沙马认为,如果日本的教训导致(核电行业)监管升级、成本上升,(能源)价格也可能长期上涨。

    此次危机已令整个核电行业胆战心惊。由于放射性物质水平升高,日本建议不要给婴幼儿饮用自来水,这条新闻向全世界发出了警报,美国率先禁止部分日本食品进口。

    事态发展无疑令人惊恐,但此次危机可能更大程度上会起到警醒的作用,而不会颠覆整个核电行业。凯投宏观(Capital Economics)的高级经济学家安德鲁•凯宁汉姆在上周发表的一份报告中,就此次危机为什么对全球能源市场的影响有限给出了两条有力证据。

    第一,许多人认为可能改变全球能源市场的所谓“核复兴”,并不像看上去那样是一场大规模复兴。的确,日本相当一部分发电量(约30%) 来自于核电。而且在此次危机发生前,日本也和许多国家一样正计划在今后几年提高核电占比。但凯宁汉姆援引国际能源署(International Energy Association)的数据称,核电在全球能源市场中的比重不会达到那样高。国际能源署预计从现在到2030年,核电发电量将增长20%,但同期核电占发电总量的比重将从14%降至11%。况且,这在全球能源总供应量中的占比也相对较小,仅为6%。

    其次,中国是核电大国。今后数年,中国的核电需求将居全球首位,占预期新增核电量的45%。目前,中国已暂停了新核电项目的审批,但凯宁汉姆预计中国最终将继续实行其核计划。

    事实上,中国可能别无选择。作为全球第二大经济体,中国目前在能源方面几乎完全依赖化石燃料,大部分发电量来自于高污染的煤炭发电。官员们已承认这种状况是不可持续的,毕竟中国经济的快速增长已经造成电力需求几乎永难满足。中国国家主席胡锦涛表示,他希望到2020年,可再生能源占到中国能源利用总量的15%,中国目前也在发展风电、太阳能和水力发电。毫无疑问,核电也列于其中——中国目前建造核反应堆的速度比世界上任何国家都要快,项目数量占全球核电厂建造总量的60%。

    显然,日本核危机将对全球各国政府今后处理核能发电的方式产生影响,但这并不一定会导致能源价格总体走高。

    As crews in Japan scramble to contain what has been called the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, governments around the world are questioning the safety of nuclear power. Germany temporarily shut down its older nuclear power stations, while China has postponed approval of new nuclear plants. Other countries, including the U.S., are calling for more scrutiny of nuclear policies and plant locations.

    Some analysts speculate that the crisis could eventually send the world's energy prices higher. Natural gas for April delivery rose 1.8% to $4.244 per million British thermal units in the first four days of trading this week in New York. Natural gas futures are up 3.4% from a year ago. And in a survey by Bloomberg news, 6 of 14 analysts say that natural gas futures will rise through April 1 on speculation that damaged reactors in Japan will divert cargoes of liquefied natural gas from the U.S.

    What's more, Anuj Sharma, an analyst at Pritchard Capital Partners in Houston, says prices could rise in the long-term if lessons from Japan result in more regulations that could add to costs.

    The crisis has rightfully sent jitters across the nuclear industry. News that Japan advised against feeding tap water to infants due to higher radiation levels sounded alarms globally, with the U.S. being the first nation to block some food imports from Japan.

    No doubt the developments are scary, but the crisis may serve more as a cautionary tale than the big game-changer over nuclear power. In a report released this week, Capital Economics senior economist Andrew Kenningham makes two strong points for why the crisis will have limited impact on global energy markets.

    For one, the so-called "nuclear renaissance" that many say could transform global energy markets is not as big a renaissance as it might seem. It's true that a significant portion of Japan's electricity output -- about 30% -- comes from nuclear. And like many countries before the crisis, Japan was planning to boost that share over the next several years. But Kenningham, citing estimates from the International Energy Association, says that nuclear power isn't forecast to be that big of a player in global energy markets. The association estimates that generation of nuclear power would rise by 20% between now and 2030, but the share of nuclear in electricity generation would fall from 14% to 11% during the same period. And in the grand scheme of things, this would make up a relatively small portion, 6%, of the world's total energy supply.

    The big player in nuclear is China. In the coming years, it is poised to have the world's biggest appetite, accounting for 45% of expected growth in nuclear power. China has currently suspended approvals of new nuclear plants, but Kenningham expects it to go ahead with its nuclear program eventually.

    In fact, it may have no other choice. China, the world's second-largest economy, currently depends on fossil fuels for almost all of its energy -- much of it generated from high-polluting coal. Officials have acknowledged that's not sustainable given that the country's rapidly growing economy has produced an almost insatiable appetite for more power. President Hu Jintao has said he wants renewable sources to produce 15% of China's energy by 2020 and and it's currently developing wind, solar and hydroelectric power. No doubt nuclear power is in the mix -- China is building nuclear reactors faster than any other country in the world, with projects representing 60% of all nuclear power plant construction globally.

    It's clear that Japan's crisis will have an impact on the way governments around the world handle nuclear energy production in the future, but that won't necessarily result in higher energy prices overall.

 

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