G7 names nuclear as energy security asset

07 May 2014

The G7 group of industrialised nations has focused on energy security, prioritising low-carbon sources including nuclear power for deployment in an effort to establish resilient low-carbon power systems.

Energy ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA concluded a two-day meeting in Rome yesterday with a joint statement.

Referring to the current problems in Ukraine and the possibility of disruption to gas supplies into the country and across Europe, the G7 members said: "We are committed to initiate a systematic and enduring step change to improve energy security at national, regional and global levels."

Among the group's core principles to achieving this included the diversification of energy fuels, promoting the deployment of clean and sustainable energy technologies and "reducing greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy."

Nuclear in the frame

The ministers acknowledged that fossil fuels will remain important, but that "reducing emissions from fossil fuels is necessary to tackle climate change and enhance our energy security."

The statement said, "We intend to promote the use of low-carbon technologies," which were defined as "renewables, nuclear in the countries which opt to use it, and carbon capture and storage." Attention will be paid to those low carbon sources "which work as a base load energy source." The only continuous sources of low carbon energy available today are large hydro and nuclear power.

Achieving this change in energy supply will require investment, and the group noted that, "Some investments in infrastructure, needed to increase security of supply, and that cannot be built according to market rules, could be supported by regulatory frameworks or by means of public funding."

All of the G7 countries have first hand experience of nuclear power, although Italy voted to end its pioneering program after the Chernobyl accident and Germany has decided to close its reactors early by 2022. Japan currently has no reactors in operation but is gradually returning to nuclear power after the Fukushima accident of 2011. Overall, nuclear power plants generate about 18% of the G7 group's electricity.

In June the G7 heads of state will meet at a summit in Brussels. A working group could be established then to forward the new energy security goals.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News