Preventing dangerous irreversible climate change requires a much bigger and faster response than anything previously achieved. Meaningful progress will depend on the adoption of technology-neutral policies that do not discriminate against any form of low-carbon energy, including nuclear.
Nuclear energy provides clean, reliable, and affordable energy for all, supplying approximately 10 per cent of global electricity and powering approximately 25 per cent of the EU. It is the second largest low-carbon electricity source globally and makes up 40 per cent of electricity with low-carbon emissions in the world’s advanced economies. It is a significant part of the world energy mix and its use is expected to grow in the coming decades.
The benefits of nuclear go far wider than simply the provision of low-carbon electricity to tackle climate change. They extend to a wider set of energy services decarbonising transport, heating and industrial applications while continuing to bring high value solutions in agriculture and medicine.
Anyone concerned about climate change should recognise that no single form of energy can avert the threat on its own. We need both renewable and nuclear energy, as well as much more energy efficiency, in the next decade to prevent climate change from becoming irreversible.
The growing need to protect the energy supply from disruptions while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to sustainable development requires fresh consideration of the role of nuclear power in dealing with climate change.
Nuclear power complements intermittent renewable energy sources because nuclear plants provide affordable and reliable low carbon electricity able to meet 24-7 demand. Operating at a high capacity factor of 90%, they also contribute to grid stability and reliability.
Economic growth is a common indicator used to refer to an increase in aggregate production in an economy and can be a key measure of poverty reduction and quality of life improvement.
The nuclear power industry can play an integral role in supporting developing countries by contributing to short-term and long-term employment, sustainable investments, and infrastructure development. Nuclear power is a zero-carbon electricity generation technology capable of producing large- scale,reliable baseload power.
It creates high-paying jobs for engineering professions such as chemical engineers, civil engineers, mechanical and nuclear engineers, as well as technicians, radiologists, chemists, mechanics, reactor operators, radiation protection specialists and other scientists.
Those skills are required during various stages, such as planning, construction, operation and maintenance, supply chain and decommissioning. All aspects of running a nuclear program demand a diversity of expertise with some 16% of this work force being truly nuclear experts.
Over the past century, nuclear energy has created some dramatic humanitarian and environmental crises, such as the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima accidents. While all the technological problems can be resolved to the satisfaction of technical professionals and nuclear safety regulators, the problem of public acceptance requires complex management. The prime goal should be to get the public to understand the associated risks and comprehend the benefits. Based on our experience, the more people know about nuclear energy the more likely they are to support it.
The cost of nuclear generated electricity is greatly affected by the cost of capital and the construction time of the plant. It is therefore important to understand what causes higher costs and specifically longer construction times. A lot of countries which are looking at new nuclear are seeking new financial solutions and employing different funding models to attract a wider range of investment into new nuclear power projects, thereby cutting the cost of financing them and reducing the price to consumers.
Following the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, nuclear power development slowed dramatically worldwide. Since that time, the safety of nuclear power has been much discussed but not often in the context of the safety record of the whole nuclear industry or compared to the risks from other energy sources. With more than 430 reactors operating for more than 20 years on average, nuclear power generally has an excellent safety record which scarcely any other electricity generation technology can match as the report last year by the European Commission Joint Research Centre pointed out.
The electricity generated from nuclear reactors results in a small amount of waste which has been managed responsibly. In fact, nuclear is the only large-scale energy-producing industry that takes full responsibility for all the waste it produces. Nuclear power produces a very large amount of energy from a very small amount of fuel, and the amount of waste produced during this process is also relatively small. Some of it is low-level radioactive waste which is safely and easily managed and routinely disposed of at various permanent disposal sites.
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