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Nuclear energy can help offset reliance on fossil fuels as global demand for power projected to hit record levels, say energy experts

14 February 2017


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Nuclear power can make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy security, while delivering energy in the large and growing quantities needed to sustain an expanding world population and foster development.

The comments came on the concluding day of the World Government Summit 2017 during a panel discussion entitled 'The Future of Nuclear Energy'. The panel included Yukiya Amano, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Philippe Jamet, Former Commissioner to the French Nuclear Safety Authority, and Hamad Al Kaabi, Permanent Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the IAEA.

The panelists noted that factors such as population growth, urbanisation and growing economic development will continue to drive the world's energy demand to record levels in the coming decades. They said that while nuclear power provides clean, cheap and reliable energy, safety and security as well as the need for long-term public acceptance, expertise and funding are the top concerns the world needs to effectively address as more nations plan to build and commission nuclear plants.

Yukiya Amano said that around 30 developing countries are considering introducing nuclear power for civilian use, and needed support so they can use it safely, securely and sustainably. "Six years after Fukushima, nuclear power is still a viable and safe option to address our energy needs in the face of climate change. Over 60 nuclear power plants are currently under construction globally, four of which are in the UAE. Authorities in these countries are working very closely with international organizations such as the IAEA to benefit from international best practice and knowledge sharing."

Noting lessons drawn from catastrophes related to nuclear reactors such as Chernobyl, Fukushima and the Three Mile Island, Philippe Jamet said: "The key take away from major accidents in the nuclear energy space is that nothing is infallible. Countries that wish to introduce nuclear power into their energy mix need to focus on all safety and security aspects. This includes preparedness that goes above and beyond regulatory safeguards and needs to involve civil society, including security forces, the military, hospitals and the farming community - the entire value chain that may be affected in case of nuclear fallout."

With the United Nations predicting world population growth from 6.7 billion in 2011 to 8.7 billion by 2035, demand for energy too is set to rise substantially. Added to this is the ongoing trend of urbanization, from 52 percent in 2011 to 62 percent in 2035 and set to reach 70 percent worldwide by 2050. Enabling world population to have continued access to food supplies, clean water, sanitation, health, education and communication requires energy.

The session also addressed key concerns pertaining to zero risk reactors and the necessity for both government-to-government agreements and industry-to-industry arrangements, to ensure safety and security, transfer of technology and human resource development.

The World Government Summit (WGS) 2017 has drawn the participation of more than 4,000 personalities from 139 countries around the world, reflecting the leading stature of the summit on regional and international levels and the high interest from governments, global organizations, private and public sector entities, decision makers, entrepreneurs, academics and university students as well as scientists and innovators. WGS 2017 features 150 speakers across 114 sessions that highlight the world’s most pressing challenges and showcase best practices and cutting-edge solutions to deal with them.