Barriers to nuclear generation must be removed
The following comments were made by Agneta Rising, Director General of World Nuclear Association, who was speaking on the opening day of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ministerial Conference “Nuclear Power in the 21st Century”, being held in Abu Dhabi 30 October – 1 November.
The international community needs to have much greater ambition if we are to combat climate change effectively and deliver the electricity required for the world’s development needs and ambitions. If we are going to be serious about climate change we need to be serious about our energy choices, including nuclear energy.
The nuclear industry has set the Harmony goal for nuclear energy to provide 25% of global electricity by 2050, requiring a tripling of nuclear generation from its present level. This would require the construction of around 1000 GW of new nuclear capacity by then.
Nuclear generation is a competitive option, but barriers are preventing nuclear generation from making the full contribution that is needed. Removing these barriers is essential to achieving the Harmony goal.
Firstly, there should be a level playing field for all low carbon energy technologies, valuing not only health and environmental qualities but also reliability and grid system costs. Most electricity markets are failing to recognise all the benefits and full costs of different forms of electricity generation.
We look to governments to set clear and consistent energy policy which avoids nuclear taxes that distort the economics of long-term operation of nuclear facilities; adopts a carbon price that recognises energy sources for their zero-emissions attributes; reflects system costs of intermittent generation and ensure security of supply and encourages investment in large capital low-carbon electricity generation projects.
Secondly, we need to ensure harmonized regulatory processes provide a more internationally consistent, efficient and predictable nuclear licensing regime. The current nuclear regulatory regime has provided a high level of safety. However, development of nuclear regulations and standards remains fragmented and has not benefited from international harmonization and standardization, limiting global civil nuclear investment and timely licensing of innovative designs.
We look to regulators, governments and industry to increase their efforts to develop a coherent roadmap leading to a more internationally consistent regulatory system.
Thirdly, we should create an effective safety paradigm, by focusing on increasing genuine public well-being whilst ensuring high safety standards are met. The current energy system fails to consider safety from a holistic societal perspective.
We look to governments to drive the energy debate on factors that the public care about - economic, social, public health and the environment. Governments should be communicating the benefits of nuclear energy with as much emphasis as other low carbon energy sources.
We in the nuclear industry are keen to support governments to meet their energy policy objectives and solving the environmental challenges. And governments will be key in removing the barriers that prevent them from fully benefiting from nuclear energy’s proven 24 /7 low carbon contribution.
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