Welcome to AtomWatch - world nuclear power news and analysis

This blog is aimed at tracing the world news related to nuclear power development internationally and in particular countries. Being an independent resource, we accept all kinds of opinions, positions and comments, and welcome you to discuss the posts and tell us what you think.

Monday, October 20, 2008

IAEA Director General says 50 nations contemplating nuclear power generation

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the technological innovation of today’s nuclear renaissance is aiming for inherently safe, proliferation-resistant and more-cost effective nuclear power.

The chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that "no fewer than 50 countries have informed the IAEA that they are considering introducing nuclear power."

In a speech marking the 50th anniversary of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the IAEA, said 12 nations, including Turkey, Egypt, Vietnam and Nigeria, " are actively preparing nuclear energy programs."

"China is constructing six power reactors and expects its installed capacity to increase five-fold by 2020. Russia plans to add at least 26 new large reactors between now and 2020, plus 10 smaller units, more than doubling its nuclear capacity. India is building six reactors and aims to increase its installed capacity eight-fold by 2022," he said.

The world's energy consumption is forecast to grow about 50% by 2030 with electrical use doubling globally and tripling in developing countries, according to the International Energy Agency. Nuclear energy is still expected to account for about 14% of global electricity generated in 2030.

"You are all familiar with the factors driving what some are calling a nuclear renaissance: surging global demand for energy, uncertainty about energy supply and concern about climate change," he noted. "Nuclear energy appears to offer at least a partial solution to these challenges."

"Every country has a right to develop nuclear power, but also a responsibility to do it properly," ElBaradei said. "Sometimes we need to lower the expectations of countries about how quickly they can hope to have nuclear power reactors in operation. It can take a minimum of 10 years just to put the basic infrastructure in place. This is not an area where you can cut corners."

ElBaradei noted that public attitudes toward nuclear power have been come positive in the past 10 years. However, he added, "concern about waste will remain until the first final repository for high-level waste is operational. Naturally, we can never be complacent. A single nuclear accident anywhere in the world could severely undermine the prospects for nuclear energy everywhere."

"In some countries, we see a troubling combination of old reactors and weak regulators," ElBaradei said. "This could be a ticking time bomb. It is in all our interests to ensure that the highest safety standards are upheld everywhere."

The potential downside of a nuclear renaissance is the spread of nuclear material to many more countries, according to ElBaradei. "This clearly indicates the risk that nuclear material could be diverted to make nuclear weapons."

"That is why we need to think seriously about some form of multinational control over the fuel cycle," he suggested. "This should provide assurance that every country that wants nuclear energy-and is in compliance with its safeguard obligations-has guaranteed access to a supply of nuclear fuel that will not be interrupted for political reasons."

"The idea scenario, in my opinion, would be to start with a nuclear fuel bank under IAEA auspices. Then we should agree that all new enrichment and reprocessing facility should be placed exclusively under multilateral control," he said. "Ultimately, all existing facilities should also be converted from national to multilateral control."

(Source: Mineweb)

No comments: