Nuclear Power Role Was Discussed at EXPO-2017

Nuclear power will play a major role in the future energy mix. This was a central talking point at the Carbon Free Energy as the Energy of the Future panel session held late last month at the EXPO-2017 Nuclear Week in Astana, Kazakhstan. Nuclear industry leaders from all over the world discussed prospects of the nuclear energy development. For more details on the discussions read our report.

The panel session was held as part of the Nuclear Week organized by Rosatom in the Russian Pavilion at Astana EXPO-2017 International Exhibition. Speakers shared their views on nuclear power as an indispensable element of the low carbon energy mix on a par with solar and wind power.

“We all remember the declaration made at the Paris Climate Conference as most countries decided to consolidate their efforts in creating green energy future,” said Kirill Komarov, First Deputy CEO for Corporate Development and International Business at Rosatom. “The time has come to deal with details. When talking about clean energy, people think mostly of solar, wind or hydro power and they often forget nuclear, which is undoubtedly a part of the green energy mix. Clean energies should not compete, but rather be used in combination.”

According to Kirill Komarov, who quoted some scientific research, 40% is a reasonable share of renewable sources in the national energy mix. “This is not an absolute figure, but we have to identify a clear role of each power source. We believe that constructing 1,000 GW of new capacity by 2050 is a realistic target.”

Luis Echávarri, former Director General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), pointed out that to develop renewable energy sources was as necessary as to secure baseload electricity.

“The share of nuclear power in the global energy mix is 11%,” said Helmut Engelbrecht, Chairman of the World Nuclear Association’s Board. “If we construct nuclear plants at the same rate we did in the 1970-1980s, we will be able to reach 25% of global energy consumption by 2050.” He also stressed the importance of following international rules for the use of nuclear power, including the need to obtain approvals for nuclear construction projects from neighboring countries.

Takuya Hattori, Counselor and former President of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, named energy security, environmental security and cost efficiency as three main principles of nuclear power development. Since Japan imports 100% of the power used in the country, “everybody understands why we need nuclear power.” “Public attitude is negative, but we are progressing towards improving it.” Takuya Hattori emphasized the significance of public acceptance efforts. According to him, Japan set a target for nuclear power to reach 30% of the national energy mix by 2030 while commissioning of 10 more reactors is scheduled by the end of 2017. He also noted that Japan planned to reduce CO2 emissions by 26% before 2030.

Tom Blees, President of the Science Council for Global Initiatives, drew attention of the audience to the expected growth of power demand. He said that experts forecast a 30% increase in energy consumption by 2040, let alone energy for desalination, electric cars and electric aircraft.

Talking about nuclear, Kirill Komarov called it a reliable and predictable source of power for economic development. According to him, nuclear establishes a clear-cut operating framework and stabilizes energy costs on a 60-year horizon (service life of a nuclear plant) since commodities make less than 3% of total generation costs at a nuclear power plant. “For comparison, gas and coal account for 60–70% of total generation costs at conventional power plants.”

The experts participating in the panel session agreed that nuclear power would play a major role in the future energy mix. Nuclear power provides a long term price guarantee and reliable baseload power without emitting greenhouse gases, and is independent from weather conditions or geographic location. The experts also stressed the necessity of gaining public acceptance as a condition for the nuclear power development.

EXPO is a global event that is unparalleled in terms of scale and significance for the social, political and economic life of the country and is only comparable with the Olympics in terms of public interest it arouses. Since the early 20th century, these international exhibitions have played an important role in the global promotion of advanced solutions, expansion of industrial production and trade, and establishment of better contacts between nations. This year, more than 115 countries and 22 international organizations take part in the exhibition, and over two million visitors are expected to attend it. The central theme of this year’s event – Energy of the Future –attracts global leaders of the renewable energy market and those relying on green technologies for energy security. Rosatom is an official partner of the event and a key exponent of the Russian national pavilion. Along with taking part in the permanent exposition, Rosatom organized a themed week devoted to Russian nuclear technologies from July 17 to 23. A temporary exposition was organized in Russia’s pavilion.