Nuclear right choice for sustainable development, conference told

08 September 2022

Nuclear has "come into the limelight" as the most realistic energy option for sustainable development, KEPCO President and CEO Seung-Il Cheong told delegates at the World Nuclear Symposium 2022 in London. However, speakers in a panel discussing sustainable development agreed one challenge to the increased use of nuclear is public opinion.

Seung-Il Cheong addresses the World Nuclear Symposium 2022 (Image: World Nuclear Association)

"The crisis faced by the global community highlights the need for carbon-neutrality and energy security, Cheong said in a video address to the conference. "To that end, countries are keen to expand their capacity of zero-carbon energy source, such as renewable, nuclear, hydrogen, ammonia, etc. Nuclear has come into the limelight as the most realist energy option ... Nuclear is the energy for sustainable development."

Westinghouse President and CEO Patrick Fragman said: "We look at nuclear having the right combination of power density, ability to deliver 24/7 and an environmental footprint that is not matched and difficult to beat." He added: "If we want to be serious about really bringing emissions down substantially to net-zero carbon by 2050, we need solutions to be deployed at scale at the beginning of the next decade."

Fragman noted that Westinghouse has, or is in the process of developing a range of reactors in varying sizes - from the large AP1000 down to the eVinci microreactor. "We look at it as a way to respond to very different needs. The grids of the future aren't going to be like the grids of the past. It's not going to be only very centralised units - there's going to be lots of distributed generation, distributed grids ... It's good to have a portfolio that addresses the different needs."

"Around the world, nations are facing an unprecedented energy crisis whilst also battling the impacts of climate change," said Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi. "Our experience has proven that net-zero nuclear energy is a vital solution for mitigating both challenges at the same time.

"The UAE's decision to develop nuclear energy in 2008 is paying dividends now - providing energy security and tackling climate change in parallel, freeing up gas for export to those countries that need it. The UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme and the Barakah plant have demonstrated how nuclear energy projects can be delivered safely, successfully and competitively to prevent carbon emissions and power our paths to net-zero."

Al Hammadi said that within a decade the four Barakah units were built on budget and on schedule. "We are looking at the next strategy for us," he added. He said the country hopes to replicate its success in other parts of the world. The UAE is also looking at small modular reactors and the use of nuclear in the production of hydrogen.

Meanwhile, Bohdan Zronek, chief nuclear officer at Czech utility ČEZ, said nuclear energy is key for the security of energy supplies in Czech Republic. "It is the basis of our electricity deliveries," he said. "If you look at the national consumption in terms of nuclear - about 40% of Czech consumption of electricity. This is also the vast majority of CO2-free sources. We are trying to reduce our CO2 footprint so we are committed to reduce coal-burning."

World Nuclear Association Director General Sama Bilbao y León, who chaired the session, said: "The role of government and policies really provide long-term continuity, stability and clarity and are very important to ensure that clean energy infrastructure, such as nuclear, are going to be successful."

However, Zronek noted that politicians "will not support something the public does not like". He recalled how ČEZ invested heavily in communication back during the construction of the Temelin plant.

"The government's and public's opinion are the two faces of the same coin," Fragman said. "We have to unwind right now the cases of brainwashing of public opinion in many countries" and tackle things "that are incorrect at best and frankly discriminatory in reality".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News