Supporting new nuclear countries

27 July 2009

Some 60 countries are considering the use of nuclear power, in addition to the 30 that already do so. One of these is Chile, which commissioned Finnish experts for advice.

The figures come from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which last week held a four-day workshop to develop tools to help those countries make the decision. It said that 20 of the states it is helping could have a program in place to use nuclear by 2030. It is also helping a number of regional programs.

The IAEA may start a technical cooperation project with a member state that makes a formal request. Here are some of the projects the IAEA is currently involved in.

Algeria: Sustainable energy development and preparation for nuclear power

Belarus: Systems analysis ahead of integration of nuclear power


Chile: Support for long-term planning of energy options

Congo: Developing a regulatory infrastructure and occupational exposure regime

Egypt: Managing nuclear power plant projects
Georgia: Supporting the development of infrastructure for potential application of nuclear energy

Indonesia: Preparation for a nuclear power plant

Syria: Conducting technical and economic feasibility studies for a nuclear power plant

United Arab Emirates: Feasibility of a nuclear power and water desalination plant.


: Supporting a feasibility study of investment options for nuclear power generation

"Nuclear is a 100-year-long-commitment," said Yury Sokolov, who is in charge of the Nuclear Energy department of the agency. "A national energy policy should involve a proper assessment of a country's energy needs," and after that can a possible role for nuclear power be defined, if appropriate.

One key element in the IAEA's current toolkit for countries interested in nuclear energy is a book which details essential steps on the path to the use of nuclear power. Among them are the establishment of an independent expert safety regulator, an appropriate legislative framework and the development of a public debate on nuclear.

An example of this kind of cooperation towards the possible use of nuclear power would be Chile. The country has an active cooperation project with the IAEA on long-term energy planning and has recently taken delivery of a report on introducing nuclear power from Finnish experts.

Finnish nuclear safety regulator Stuk produced an 87-page report for Chile's National Energy Commission, which has now been published. Among its advice was the general rule in power grid management that no single power generators should make up more than 10% of capacity. In Chile's case, with a 13,500 MWe grid, that would appear to rule out the largest nuclear reactors, Areva's 1650 MWe EPR or GE-Hitachi's 1300 MWe ABWR, but not a unit like Westinghouse's AP1000 or Areva-Mitsubishi's future Atmea unit, both at 1100 MWe.

Stuk also recommended a structure for an independent regulators in line with IAEA's published safety standards and gave examples to show the typical size of a regulator for a small nuclear energy program (about 300 people).