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Nuclear Energy Makes A Come Back in Global Energy Mix

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The IEA in a report released in France on Thursday says the debate about the Energy transition due to climate change concerns as well as the soaring energy prices have seen a comeback of nuclear in countries where it was being abandoned due to costs and safety concerns.
30 Jun 2022 14:48
Nuclear power plants are making a come back after Fukushima accident in Japan. The IEA report says the come back is driven by the current global energy crisis and the need for zero carbon energy plants

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Nuclear power has been in decline since the Fukushima disaster in Japan over ten years ago, but the International Energy Agency IEA) says it is making a comeback.

The IEA in a report released in France on Thursday says the debate about the Energy transition due to climate change concerns as well as the soaring energy prices have seen a comeback of nuclear energy in countries where it was being abandoned due to costs and safety concerns.

  The IEA new report, Nuclear power and secure energy transitions: From today’s challenges to tomorrow’s clean energy systems says building sustainable and clean energy systems will be harder, riskier, and more expensive without nuclear.

  “In today’s context of the global energy crisis, skyrocketing fossil fuel prices, energy security challenges and ambitious climate commitments, I believe nuclear power has a unique opportunity to stage a comeback,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

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  He however said a new era for nuclear power is by no means guaranteed.  “It will depend on governments putting in place robust policies to ensure safe and sustainable operation of nuclear plants for years to come – and to mobilise the necessary investments including in new technologies.” he said.

  The nuclear industry according to Birol must quickly address the issues of cost overruns and project delays that have bedeviled the construction of new plants in advanced economies.   Nuclear is today the second-largest source of low emissions power after hydropower, with nuclear plants in 32 countries. 

 

About 63% of today’s nuclear generating capacity comes from plants that are more than 30 years old, since many were built in the aftermath of the 1970s oil shocks. But a range of both advanced and emerging economies have recently announced energy strategies that include substantial roles for nuclear power as well as considerable financial incentives to invest in it.

  In addition to being a low carbon or zero-emission electricity technology, nuclear has been viewed as an option to renewable energy technology. In 2020, nuclear power generation exceeded the combined generation of wind to solar generation worldwide.

  Shinichiro Fujimori, an expert with Nuclear in Energy transition revealed that the deployment of nuclear has been plagued by high construction costs and delays.

  The current war in Ukraine is likely to affect the deployment of nuclear energy because Russia has been a market leader in reactor construction. IEA suggests that 27 out of 31 reactors that started construction in and after 2017 are Russian or Chinese designs. Uganda is among the countries that are looking for assistance in the construction of a nuclear energy reactor.

  The government in 2019 signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia to build the capacity to exploit nuclear technology for energy.

  In May this year, the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved Uganda’s plan to construct the first Nuclear Energy plant in East Africa. The approval followed a visit to Uganda by experts under the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) at the end of last year.

The team led by Mehmet Ceyhan from the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section said it was important that the Government continues to support further development of the infrastructure needed for a safe, secure and peaceful nuclear power program. 

The team handed to President Museveni a report about the status of nuclear infrastructure development as outlined in the IAEA's Milestones Approach. The approach is to be adopted by the Ministry of Energy under the Atomic Energy Agency. 

  The approach is based on a phased mechanism to enable countries to develop in a safe, secure and sustainable manner.   

Uganda will initially construct a 2GW nuclear power plant as part of the energy mix now dominated by hydroelectricity. Uganda has to go through a number of stages from learning, to the formation of institutions before the construction of reactors.  

  It takes between ten to fifteen years to have a nuclear power plant up and running.  Nuclear power is envisaged to contribute to the electricity generation mix in Uganda by 2031.

Under the Nuclear Power Roadmap Development Strategy and Vision 2040 Uganda hoped to have 30,000 Megawatts of nuclear power by 2026.  AF-Consult Switzerland in 2014 said Uganda would need to invest USD 26 billion to have an installed capacity of 4,300 Megawatts of power from nuclear energy by 2040.  

AF-Consult Switzerland estimates that Uganda would spend 744.8 trillion Shillings in capital and operating costs if it is to generate 30,000 Megawatts from nuclear as outlined in the Uganda Vision 2040.