Clean Energy Tops Concerns Over Sustainable Development

Population is rising in many cities, and so are the needs for electricity. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Energy use is expected to increase by 50% over the next quarter century, and two-thirds of the growth is expected in developing countries. Where will the energy come from?

Ministers from more than 80 countries tackled that question, among others, at the UN session of the Commission on Sustainable Development this month in New York. The session focused on the four closely linked issues of energy supply, climate change, air pollution and industrial development.

The World Bank estimates that an investment of $300 billion a year is needed to meet the needs of people in developing countries through more efficient and cleaner sources of energy.

Among the options for some countries is nuclear power, which remains competitive on economic grounds and is gaining interest for environmental reasons, despite some lingering concerns. In a new report published in April - Nuclear Power & Sustainable Development - the IAEA reviews the global status of nuclear electricity production, including generation costs and performance trends. Some 440 nuclear plants are generating electricity worldwide, with about two dozen new plants being built in eleven countries.

"Nuclear power is not a ´fix-all´ option," IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei says in the report´s foreword. "It´s a choice that has a place among the mix of solutions, and expectations for the expanding use of nuclear power are rising."

Last update: 11 November 2014