The rise in popularity can be wiped out by an accident

July 21, 2022, Bavaria, Essenbach: Steam rises behind sunflowers from the cooling system of the nuclear power plant (NPP) Isar 2.

Image Union | Image Union | beautiful pictures

Nuclear energy is at an inflection point. Its initial revelation of its potential was curtailed by a series of devastating and dangerous accidents at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979, Chornobyl in Ukraine in 1986 and Fukushima Daiichi in Japan In 2011.

But now, thanks to new nuclear technology and an increasingly urgent need to combat climate change, nuclear energy is taking a second step towards becoming an important part of the global energy grid. . That’s because nuclear power production doesn’t produce any of the dangerous greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

In one panel discussion at the United Nations on TuesdayA gathering of nuclear energy leaders from around the world has gathered to discuss the scope of that renaissance and why the industry is working together to secure the measures. Gold standard safety is applied everywhere.

A nuclear accident anywhere has the potential to upset the greatest momentum the nuclear industry has had in decades.

$1 trillion in projected global demand

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said that nuclear power represents 20% of US base load energy and 50% of its zero-carbon energy. “And that’s just from the fleet that we have today without the other additions we hope to see.”

Future nuclear plants and reactors will almost certainly use technology different from current standards, as both US labs and private companies are funding research into the reactors. reacts more efficiently, is cheaper to build and produces less waste. Granholm mentioned, as an example, the advanced nuclear reactor Bill Gates‘nuclear innovation company’ TerraPower is installing in an old coal town in Wyoming.

The demand for advanced nuclear reactors will be worth about $1 trillion globally, Granholm said, according to Department of Energy estimates. That includes the work to build those reactors and all the supply chains involved will need to step up to support that industry, Granholm said.

“The bottom line is that spreading advanced nuclear energy is a priority for us,” said Granholm. “Of course, these technologies all have to start and end with nuclear safety and security.”

The change in perception around nuclear energy has happened quite quickly, said Rafael Grossigeneral manager of International Atomic Energy Agency.

A photo of dogs walking past the ferris wheel against the backdrop of the ghost town of Pripyat near the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant on May 29, 2022, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Dimitar Dilkoff | AFP | beautiful pictures

“Until just a few years ago, nuclear would not have been present, and perhaps not even welcome” at the annual COP conferences, stands for “Conference of the Parties” and an opportunity for national leaders to meet and discuss climate change. “The IAEA has gone quite quickly from being an almost intrusive player to a very welcome participant in this dialogue where nuclear has a place.”

The next COP meeting will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in Novemberand the event will be in Dubai Expo City in United Arab Emirates. The IAEA is planning to participate in both of these upcoming conferences.

“The mere fact that we’re talking about the nuclear COP in Egypt, and the Gulf, in itself tells you a lot of what’s happening and how we’re changing and the possibilities that we’re going to see. we have and that could have almost happened. could not have been foreseen just a few years ago.”

Safety first

But if nuclear continues to be a part of these climate change conferences and dialogues, the entire international community must work together to adhere to strict standards of safety and non-proliferation. nuclear weapons.

“Nobody buys a car today if it’s in an accident every day. So the safety and security of an app is fundamental to a successful nuclear power deployment,” he said. Hamad Al Kaabirepresentative of the United Arab Emirates at the IAEA, on Tuesday.

“The matter of how the nuclear industry works and is seen globally, any accident anywhere is an accident everywhere,” Al Kaabi said.

Al Kaabi said the UAE has three nuclear reactors in operation and the fourth is in the final stages of operation. But building nuclear plants takes time, and the process in the UAE began about 13 years ago.

Vietnam has been considering nuclear power for decades now, according to World Nuclear Association, an international trade group. The country announced plans to build a nuclear power plant in 2006, but halted those plans in 2016, in part because of cost. Then, in March of this year, Vietnam published an official draft of an energy proposal that includes small modular nuclear reactors.

The United States and the IAEA have both helped guide Vietnam in its efforts to include nuclear energy in its national energy plan, Ha Kim Ngoc, Vietnam’s deputy foreign minister, said during Tuesday’s event. For a country like Vietnam, which is relatively small, the small trace that nuclear power reactors capture compared to the amount of energy they generate makes it an attractive option, said Ngoc. speak.

South Africa There are two reactors, according to the World Nuclear Association, and now other countries in Africa are interested in deploying nuclear energy.

“Most of the countries where I go in Africa have very small power grids,” Collins Juma, Executive Director of the Republic of Kenya’s Nuclear and Energy Authority, said on Tuesday. Advanced nuclear reactor designs, especially small modular reactors, are very interesting to African countries, although Juma also suggests that paying for nuclear reactors could have can be difficult for some African countries. “I’m not sure about the cost, but we’ll discuss that in other forums,” Juma said.

As Africa works to decarbonize, nuclear is an important consequence for wind, solar and geothermal in the continent. But bringing nuclear power to Africa will require strong and independent regulations to convince people it’s safe.

“Nuclear is a very emotional topic,” says Juma. And that’s where “everyone is an expert” and thinks they know it’s dangerous. “We have to be very careful when formulating a nuclear power plan. And the public, especially the public, must have confidence” that the nuclear power plant is safe, Mr. Juma said.

So Juma asked for guidance from leading nuclear powers and organizations. “When you copy, you only copy from the best, you don’t copy from the worst,” says Juma.

For countries interested in building nuclear power reactors, the IAEA has written a practical guidebook, “Milestones in the development of national infrastructure for nuclear power,” and that’s a good place for countries to start, Grossi recommends.

“These times are critical, and we know that it is red flag for Planet Earth,” Grossi said. “We said this, but the kernel is not for the few, the kernel can be for the many.”

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