GNI calls for new approach to nuclear expansion

03 May 2017

Significant changes in technology development and global governance are needed for nuclear energy to continue playing a vital role in combating climate change, according to a new report from the Global Nexus Initiative (GNI). The report makes recommendations to address these issues.

"Based on our first two years of work, GNI has confirmed that it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to meet the goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change to limit temperature increases and decarbonise the global energy sector without a significant contribution from nuclear power," GNI said.

In its report - Nuclear power for the next generation: Addressing energy, climate and security challenges - GNI says "the important role of nuclear power in mitigating climate change is clear". It adds, "If the clean energy benefits offered by the existing reactor fleet decline significantly, there is considerable risk in being unable to prevent global temperature increases consistent with the Paris Agreement by relying solely on renewable and other zero carbon energy options."

The GNI, which is co-sponsored by the Partnership for Global Security and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), notes some studies suggest that 4000 GWe of nuclear generating capacity will be required worldwide by 2100 if international climate goals are to be met. However, the report says, "It will be daunting to deploy nuclear power on the scale needed and with the public confidence required unless significant changes are made in the way technology is brought to market and governed."

Next generation nuclear reactors, it says, are at a "critical crossroad between technology development and future deployment". Progress toward deploying these reactors needs to be accelerated. The GNI suggests "institutional and cultural changes" may be required "in the way the next generation of nuclear power is developed, tested, regulated, deployed and managed".

"It will be daunting to deploy nuclear power on the scale needed and with the public confidence required unless significant changes are made in the way technology is brought to market and governed."

Global Nexus Initiative

The GNI calls for a strengthening of the global nuclear governance system to support the potential growth of nuclear power worldwide. "Over the past six decades, the nuclear governance system has adapted to new requirements and events, but this process has been more episodic and reactive than strategic," it says. "This system now faces technical evolutions, systematic stresses, and threat vectors unlike those of previous eras."

Nuclear power is an "important instrument of geopolitical influence", the report notes. "It impacts the struggle to ensure that all nations and the international system move toward security, stability and prosperity - three essential conditions for global progress."

The GNI report brings together the issues examined in a series of workshops and three major policy papers that offered a total of 22 recommendations.

Commenting on the report, Kenneth Luongo, president of the Partnership for Global Security, said: "Nuclear power has an important role to play in tackling climate change, but there are governance and geopolitical challenges that need to be addressed. The GNI report focuses attention on the nexus of these issues and provides an actionable agenda for progress that will benefit the global community."

"America's 99 nuclear reactors have a vital role to play when it comes to powering our economy, protecting the environment and supporting our nation's influence around the world," said NEI president and CEO Maria Korsnick. "GNI's recommendations reflect a common interest in finding policy solutions to help keep our plants running, advance new designs and promote the role our nuclear suppliers play in generating jobs at home while strengthening America's hand in global governance in the face of challenges abroad."

Formed in 2015, Washington DC-based GNI brings together experts from the nuclear industry, nuclear security energy, and climate change communities to examine the challenges posed by climate change, energy demand and global security.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News