But now, nuclear energy is ushering in a second opportunity, and it is expected to become an important part of the global energy network. This is mainly because nuclear power generation does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
But the most important thing is to ensure that gold-standard safety measures are applied around the world, and an accident anywhere has the potential to derail decades of momentum in nuclear energy.
Global demand will reach $1 trillion
Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm said nuclear power accounts for 20 percent of U.S. baseload electricity and 50 percent of U.S. carbon-free electricity. “That’s just where we are right now, and that doesn’t count the expansion of nuclear power we want to see.”
Future nuclear reactors and nuclear power plants will certainly use different standards and technologies, and major US laboratories and private companies are funding research into reactors that are more efficient, cheaper to build and produce less waste. TerraPower, a nuclear energy innovation company funded by Bill Gates, for example, is installing advanced nuclear reactors in Wyoming.
According to estimates by the U.S. Department of Energy, global demand for advanced nuclear reactors will reach about $1 trillion, Granholm said. That includes jobs to build these nuclear reactors, as well as all the associated supply chains, Granholm explained.
“Ultimately, the promotion of advanced nuclear energy is our number one priority,” Granholm said. “Of course, these technologies all have to be premised on nuclear safety and security.”
Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that perceptions of nuclear energy had changed dramatically.
“Until a few years ago, nuclear energy would not be present at the annual UN climate change conference, and probably not even popular,” Grossi said. “Now the IAEA has become a very popular player, Nuclear energy has a place in the conversation.”
The 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November this year, and next year’s conference will be held in Dubai Expo City in the United Arab Emirates. The IAEA plans to participate in both meetings.
“The discussion at the UN climate conference about nuclear energy itself says a lot about what’s going on, how we’re changing, and the possibilities we have that were almost unforeseeable just a few years ago,” Grossi said.
But nuclear energy proponents stress that the entire international community must work together and adhere to strict safety standards if nuclear energy is to remain a major part of the fight against climate change.
“If cars were involved in accidents every day, no one would buy a car now. So safety and security … are the basis for the successful deployment of nuclear energy,” Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Tuesday. express.
“The main question of how the nuclear energy industry works and how it’s accepted globally is that any accident that happens anywhere will ripple through the industry,” Al Kabi said.
Al Kabi said there are currently three operating nuclear reactors in the UAE, with a fourth in the final stages of commissioning. But building nuclear power plants takes time, and the UAE started building them about 13 years ago.
According to the World Nuclear Association, Vietnam has been considering the development of nuclear energy for decades. Plans to build a nuclear power plant were announced in Vietnam in 2006, but were shelved in 2016, in part because of the high cost. In March, Vietnam released a draft energy proposal that included the construction of small modular nuclear reactors.
South Africa has two nuclear reactors, and now other countries in Africa are also interested in deploying nuclear energy.
Collins Juma, head of the Kenya Nuclear and Energy Agency, said: “Most countries in Africa have small grids.” Advanced nuclear reactor designs, especially small modular reactors, are attractive to African countries , but Juma believes paying for such a reactor could be difficult. “I’m not sure about the cost, but we’ll continue to discuss that.”
In Africa’s efforts to decarbonize, nuclear energy is an equally important base energy source for wind, solar and geothermal. But introducing nuclear energy across Africa first requires convincing people that it is safe.
“We have to be very careful when we plan our nuclear power program,” Juma said, especially in convincing the public “that nuclear power plants are safe,” he said.