JOHANNESBURG—At the closing stages of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, the global nuclear industry today welcomed the successful outcome, where world leaders promised to improve access to reliable and affordable energy services to the poor and to halve the proportion of people living in poverty by 2010 – and also recognised that all energy technologies will be necessary to achieve that goal.
Reflecting on the results at Johannesburg, Gerald Doucet, Secretary General of the World Energy Council, said: “The summit has shown that developing countries need to be in a position to choose what cleaner technologies would best meet their energy access needs effectively. Clearly, all energy options need to be open and accepted as the fundamental policies of sustainable energy development.”
For many countries, nuclear energy will play an important part in achieving this objective, while meeting the highest environmental targets. The Plan of Action, agreed in Johannesburg, acknowledged that some countries chose to use advanced energy technologies, such as nuclear power, to meet sustainable development goals.
India and China – two developing nations representing almost half the world’s population – have substantial programmes to increase electricity generation from nuclear.
The European Union obtains about 35% of its electricity from nuclear power – the largest share of all energy sources in the region – a situation that will help member countries meet their goals for greenhouse gas reductions.
In the United States, improved performance and management since 1990 have placed an equivalent of 24 new power reactor units on the electricity grid, without new construction.
Nuclear and sustainable development
Environmental value: In evaluations of life-cycle ecological impact – which weigh resource use, health effects and waste consequences – nuclear power out-performs other major energy options and ranks on a par with the best renewables.
Air quality: Virtually no carbon dioxide emissions are released from the nuclear fuel cycle and none of the pollutants that cause acid rain and serious health effects.
Operational safety: A global network of technical co-operation has helped the nuclear industry attain an excellent safety record.
Affordability: Technological progress and improved operations continue to lower the cost of nuclear electricity generation.
Waste management: Radioactive waste is low in volume, safely managed and properly financed, and is contained and isolated to prevent impact on the biosphere.
Other applications of nuclear technology: Nuclear technology is not just about producing electricity; it produces broad benefits for the global population. Nuclear technologies have applications in agriculture – increasing crop yields – and contribute to improved food safety. Medicine relies heavily on nuclear technologies for diagnosis and treatment. Some countries – such as Morocco and Tunisia – are considering the use of nuclear power to drive water desalination plants and ensure adequate supplies of fresh water.
Nuclear power accounts for about 16% of the world’s electricity production, generated from some 438 reactors, accounting for 353 GWe in 31 countries around the world.
American Nuclear Society
Kent Welter: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Canadian Nuclear Association
Tom Gorman, +16132371632 or email: email@example.com
European Atomic Forum (FORATOM)
Jack Ashton, +32 (0) 2 505 32 26 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
European Nuclear Society
Florence Avezou: +33 (0) 14483 7278 or email: email@example.com
Japan Atomic Industry Forum
Kaoru Kikuyama, + 27 (0) 83 296 2229 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nuclear Energy Institute
J. Scott Peterson: +12027398044 or email: email@example.com
World Nuclear Association
Emma Cornish, + 27 (0) 837 65 9696 or email: Cornish@world-nuclear.org
Ian Hore-Lacy, + 44 (0) 207 225 0303 or email: Hore-Lacy@world-nuclear.org