Nuclear vital to challenge of climate change

18 November 2016

Agneta Rising, director-general of the World Nuclear Association, has called on Conference of the Parties (COP) to make it clear that nuclear energy will be part of their response to succeed in action on climate change. "France, Sweden, Switzerland, and Canada's province of Ontario, have all achieved more than 80% low-carbon electricity generation by using nuclear energy in harmony with renewables," Rising said yesterday at a press conference hosted by the Russian delegation to the UNFCCC COP 22 climate change conference in Marrakesh.

"By using nuclear energy," she added, "those countries have already achieved the kind of low-carbon generation mixes that the whole world will [need] to adopt by 2050 if we are to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement."

Rising said: "Electricity is a vital part of our modern world. Full global access to reliable and affordable electricity supplies is essential. To meet the climate change objectives of the Paris agreement this must be achieved using all low-carbon sources of electricity. Nuclear is a proven source of low-carbon electricity. It promotes the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions while fostering sustainable development."

In a statement yesterday, the World Nuclear Association said "governments should act and give the policy support that is needed to be able to provide nuclear energy, which is low-carbon, competitive, reliable and scalable energy".

The Association last year set a target for the nuclear industry to construct 1000 GWe of new nuclear build by 2050, tripling global capacity, so that nuclear would generate 25% of global electricity demand. Over the last 45 years, the Association said, nuclear generation has avoided the equivalent of two years of the world's total carbon dioxide emissions, or nearly 80 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Speaking at the same event as Rising, Kirill Komarov, first deputy director-general for corporate development and international business at Russia's Rosatom, noted that to meet world demand for electricity and tackle climate change there was a need to review the entire world energy supply with the aim to reduce carbon emissions. "We believe that in these circumstances, the most effective solution is to expand the use of nuclear power generation," he said. "We are confident that the future of energy is a diversified balance of low-carbon technologies, providing affordability, security of supply and minimal environmental impact," he added.

Komarov stressed that nuclear power and renewables should not be set against each other. "We are sure that the future of the energy industry is in a diversified balance of low-carbon technologies that provide price affordability, safety of deliveries and minimum impact on the environment." Rosatom has invested more than €1 billion in wind power generation, he added.

At a side event at the same conference, entitled Low-Carbon Development of Russia: Challenges and Opportunities, Komarov said the use of VVER units had helped the world avoid the emission of 15 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. This volume is equivalent to emissions from 40 coal-fired power plants of 1 GWe each over 60 years. The current contribution of nuclear power to low-carbon electricity generation in Russia is 48%, he noted. "This is our contribution to the low-carbon future of the planet," he said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News