Global nuclear energy faces a new opportunity to take off
- According to estimates, the global demand for advanced nuclear reactors will be worth about $1 trillion
- According to the World Nuclear Energy Association, African countries are now also interested in developing nuclear energy
Nuclear energy is at an inflection point in history. A number of catastrophic accidents in the past have sapped the potential of nuclear power: Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, in 1979; Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986; and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, in 2011.
But now, due to new technologies and the urgent need to combat climate change, nuclear energy faces a second chance to become an important part of the global energy grid. This is because nuclear power generation does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
In a recent meeting at the United Nations, nuclear leaders from around the world came together to discuss a nuclear renaissance and work together to ensure absolute security everywhere.
A nuclear accident anywhere has the potential to derail decades of new momentum in the nuclear industry. Future nuclear power plants will use different technologies than current standards, as both U.S. laboratories and private companies fund research on efficient reactors that are cheaper to build and dispose of spent fuel. For example, TerraPower, Bill Gates' nuclear innovation company, is building an advanced nuclear reactor in a former coal town in Wyoming.
According to estimates by the U.S. Department of Energy, global demand for advanced nuclear reactors will be worth about $1 trillion, including work to build those reactors and all associated supply chains.
Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said public opinion around nuclear energy was changing rapidly. "Until a few years ago, nuclear energy was unpopular at the annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change. Now the IAEA has gone from an uninvited guest to a very popular participant in the climate change dialogue."
The next Climate Change Conference of the Parties will be held in Egypt in November, followed by Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The IAEA plans to participate in both meetings.
But if nuclear energy continues to be part of these meetings and the climate change dialogue, the entire international community must work together to adhere to strict safety and non-proliferation standards.
“Any accident anywhere in the global nuclear industry is an accident worldwide,” said Hamad Al Kaabi, the representative of the United Arab Emirates to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The UAE has three nuclear reactors in operation and a fourth is in the final stages of commissioning. But building nuclear power plants takes time, and the process of nuclear power in the UAE began about 13 years ago.
Vietnam has been considering nuclear power, announcing plans to build nuclear power plants as early as 2006, but suspending those plans in 2016, in part because of cost concerns, according to the World Nuclear Energy Association. In March 2022, Vietnam released a draft official energy policy document that includes small modular nuclear reactors. Keywords: infrastructure, infrastructure construction, domestic engineering news, planning and investment
According to the World Nuclear Energy Association, South Africa has two reactors and now other countries in Africa are also interested in developing nuclear energy. Collins Juma, chief executive of the Kenya Nuclear Power and Energy Agency, said: "Nuclear energy is a very emotional topic. In this situation, everyone is an expert. And think they know it's dangerous. So, when it comes to planning for nuclear power, We have to be very careful. The public must have confidence that nuclear power plants are safe." Editor/Xu Shengpeng