World Nuclear Association Blog

IPCC call for low carbon energy action

(Communications) Permanent link

When the third report from the IPCC, on mitigation of climate change, was published on Sunday the world's media focussed on its key messages - greenhouse emissions are rising, the threat of climate change is getting stronger, serious and radical international action is required, but we can still avoid the worse effects of climate change if we take action now and for the long term.  

But what was released on Sunday was just the "Summary for Policymakers", a 30-odd page negotiated skim of the actual report, which contains more a thousand pages of carefully referenced scientific assessment.

The conclusions of the full IPCC report are clear, the energy supply system is the largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions and more action in this sector is required now. The IPCC report says around 80% of our electricity must be supplied by low carbon sources such as nuclear, renewables and CCS by 2050 and to eliminate polluting coal, oil and gas generation by the end of the century.

IPCC Gases

The IPCC concludes that no single mitigation option in the energy supply sector will be sufficient to hold the increase in global average temperature change below 2°C above pre‐industrial levels. Embracing all options will give us the greatest chance of avoiding the harmful effects of climate change in the most cost-effective way.

Nuclear energy is recognised as having some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions for each unit of electricity generated, even when the full lifecycle emissions are included. Average emissions from nuclear are 12 grams of CO2 per kWh, compared to 11 gCO2/kWh for onshore wind, 12gCO2/kWh for offshore wind, 24 gCO2/kWh for hydro and 28-47 gCO2/kWh for solar. Biomass has no direct emissions, but infrastructure and supply chain emissions averaged a significant 230gCO2/kWh. Emissions for gas and coal averaged 490 and 920 gCO2/kWh respectively. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) helped reduce fossil fuel emissions, but even with CCS fossil fuel emissions were between 160-220 gCO2/kWh.

For uranium resources, the IPCC report notes that if all conventional uranium occurrences are considered there would be enough uranium to meet current levels of demand for 250 years. Closing the nuclear fuel cycle with reprocessing and recycling of fuel through fast reactors could extend that by more than 50 times (to more than 12,500 years) and reduce the amount of waste generated and disposal required. Thorium too could extend the nuclear resource further.

Tackling climate change and weaning ourselves off our addiction to fossil fuels for electricity generation can seem daunting. But as has been demonstrated by France, a commitment to nuclear energy, in partnership with renewables, can virtually eliminate fossil fuels from electricity generation in little more than two decades - and supply some of the lowest cost electricity in Europe.

Nuclear energy supplies low carbon electricity reliably and affordably. The world needs nuclear energy to tackle climate change.

2nd WNU Summer Institute Alumni Assembly

(WNU) Permanent link

 

Isis Leslie

The second WNU Summer Institute (WNU SI) Alumni Assembly, held from 31 March – 4 April 2014, was a great success. It was hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA and brought together Alumni from across the nine Summer Institute classes, with almost 70 representatives from 15 countries as diverse as China, India, Sweden, France, Brazil, Nigeria, Germany and Canada. We are really pleased that so many nuclear companies are continuing to invest in the young leaders in their companies.

The main aim of the Alumni Assembly is to continue the SI’s legacy of engaging the next generation of nuclear leaders from across the globe, providing a valuable opportunity to further solidify the global Alumni network of peers, and to build upon the foundations laid down at the SI. The programme addressed three main aims: professional development, leadership and peer-to-peer engagement. We heard from a number of great invited leaders, including US Assistant Secretaries Pete Lyons and Tom Countryman, Cameco Vice President Ken Seitz, US NRC Commissioner and appointed OECD/NEA DG William Magwood, Exelon CEO Amir Shakarami and Agneta Rising, WNA DG and WNU President. Presentations from Alumni were also excellent, and we were given some great information, including updates on the nuclear programmes in China, Finland and the UK, and new developments on waste management, safety, security and safeguards, training, research and public involvement in decision making process. 

WNU SI AA2

Participating Alumni had the opportunity to choose a topic of interest for in-depth professional development training over two full days. These were taken in small Groups and we were able to learn from experts from Oak Ridge and across the world. These focussed on research reactors and isotope production, safeguards and inspector training, safety culture and training on security for the technical community.

The programme was complimented by a range of technical visits including tours of High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), the ORNL supercomputer, the X-10 Graphite Reactor, Safeguards Laboratory and the Canberra Crystal Growing Facility. The Alumni also participated in a range of social activities, both informal and formal, and we were very pleased to be able to attend a reception hosted by the University of Tennessee at the UT Football Stadium, the 3rd largest college sports stadium in the USA. 
All these different elements allowed the participants to not only re-establish their relationships with those from their own SI year but also network with people from different years, consolidating and extending the network and creating a solid foundation for the future of the global nuclear industry. It was a motivating and inspiring event: 

- “The WNU SI was a transformative experience, and the Alumni Assembly allows one to sustain that tranformation over the years” ( Shehab (Sunny) G. Mustafa, Ontario Power Generation) 

We are looking at the possibilities to host the WNU Summer Institute Alumni Assembly 2016, with hopes to organize it in the Asia to encourage the participation of more Alumni from that region.The WNU and the participating Summer Institute Alumni would like to thank Oak Ridge National Laboratory for all their support and for allowing us access to their impressive facilities. Thank to those who supported the event through sending participants, speakers or sponsorship.

 

Lovelock says not using nuclear is 'quite mad'

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James LovelockJames Lovelock was interviewed on BBC's Newsnight on 2 April, covering a range of the many environmental issues where he's made an immense contribution, including the very future of humanity itself.

Addressing energy, Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman asked what had gone wrong about the perception of nuclear energy. Lovelock said that he wished he knew. He said nuclear energy was a "normal natural thing for the universe." and that our not using it was "quite mad."

Lovelock speculated one reason was that humanity had guilt about having first used nuclear in wartime, that prevented us using it as a "safe, clean and nearly perfect source of energy".

On other energy sources, Lovelock proclaimed himself as "fairly neutral" on gas fracking, although on potential impacts such as water course pollution he was worried. However, he thought countries like the UK may have no choice but to burn methane, in the absence of other available fuels, as he could imagine nothing was much worse environmentally than a sudden cessation of electricity supplies. 

The programme is available for UK viewers to watch again until 9 April at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0400593/newsnight-02042014