Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The IAEA has written an enthusiastic report about nations embracing nuclear power to combat climate change.
Nuclear Energy for Climate Change Mitigation to Benefit Several Countries, New Studies Show
Nicholas Watson, IAEA Department of Nuclear EnergyJeffrey Donovan, IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy
Countries from Armenia and Ghana to Poland and Turkey show significant potential for using nuclear energy to slash greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and meet climate change goals including those agreed at the COP26 climate summit, according to national research conducted in a three-year project coordinated by the IAEA.
The findings of the Coordinated Research Project (CRP) illustrate the potential scope for increasing the use of nuclear power to support stronger national climate change mitigation goals as requested in the “Glasgow Climate Pact” agreed at COP26 last month. Around 30 countries include nuclear energy in plans submitted under the 2015 Paris Agreement — including both near-term (2030) targets in so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and longer term strategies for net zero emissions — and the CRP results reflect growing interest in nuclear among additional countries seeking to adopt more ambitious climate goals.
“Overall, the country teams’ research demonstrates that nuclear energy has significant potential to contribute to climate change mitigation, depending on national circumstances,” said Hal Turton, an IAEA energy economist and scientific officer for the CRP. “The research teams also noted that nuclear energy is well suited to powering economic growth, maintaining energy supply security by reducing import dependence, ensuring a reliable and flexible electricity system, and supporting broader sustainable development objectives.”
The CRP, entitled “The Potential Role of Nuclear Energy in National Climate Change Mitigation Strategies”, brought together research teams from 12 countries facing a range of energy, development and climate challenges with the goal of examining how nuclear power, together with other sources of low-carbon energy, could help. These teams developed and applied various analytical frameworks and modelling tools to project energy demand over the next few decades, assess technology options and supply portfolios to satisfy the projected demand, and evaluate the implications of those portfolios for GHG emissions.
The research teams in Armenia, Pakistan, Poland and Turkey identified significant potential for nuclear power in climate change mitigation in their countries. If upfront investment costs and financing barriers can be addressed, nuclear power was also seen as increasingly attractive for mitigation in Chile, Ghana and South Africa. For three other countries— Croatia, Lithuania and Viet Nam — nuclear power was seen as currently uncompetitive. Australia and Ukraine shared their expertise under different reporting arrangements; the research team in Ukraine identified a significant potential for nuclear power.
…Read more: https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/nuclear-energy-for-climate-change-mitigation-to-benefit-several-countries-new-studies-show
The full paper can be downloaded here.
The full list of countries using climate change as a justification for developing their nuclear capability are Armenia, Chile, Croatia, Ghana, Lithuania, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam.
Armenia is in a near permanent state of war with Azerbaijan, a lethal border clash occurred last month in November, with far more serious clashes in 2020. Armenia tends to be at a disadvantage to their richer neighbour Azerbaijan.
Croatia was one of the major participants in the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s. Although things have been quieter for the last few decades, there are still unresolved issues in the region, such as Serbia’s upset at their loss of Kosovo, so it is not impossible tensions could flare up again in the future.
Pakistan is in a permanent state of heightened tension with India, over Kashmir and other issues, though they already openly possess nuclear weapons.
Erdogans’ Turkey, to their credit, have been holding talks recently with Israel, in an effort to improve relations. This is a marked improvement on 2010, when Erdogan vented utter fury over Israel’s interception of a Turkish attempt to send supplies by sea to Gaza.
Maybe a civilian nuclear programme will help boost all these economies, improved incomes have a way of defusing other tensions. All of these nations have energy intensive industries they want to grow, and nuclear programmes would certainly help insulate economies from energy supply price shocks, which might genuinely help create a more positive business environment. Lowering CO2 emissions while growing the economy would be a diplomatic win for any nation, in the current global geopolitical environment.