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Experts from Nine Countries Considering Nuclear Power Participate in Scientific Visit to Explore Possibilities

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Held from 11 to 20 November, the Scientific Visit was organized by the IAEA, with the support of the Program for International Nuclear Energy of the Texas A&M University System. (Photo: K. Regusa/Programme for International Nuclear Energy)

Parliamentarians and other senior decision-makers from nine countries have gained an insight into both the policy considerations and the science which underpin nuclear power production thanks to an intensive ten-day scientific visit organized through the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme[1].

Held from 11 to 20 November, the Interregional Scientific Visit for Decision-Makers on Comprehensive Introduction to Nuclear Power was organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the Government of the United States through the Program for International Nuclear Energy of the Texas A&M University System.

Participants came from Ghana, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Poland, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Zambia.

The programme of the visit provided a broad overview of the fundamentals of nuclear power and nuclear policy issues to participants from countries considering, planning or already launching a nuclear power programme. These fundamentals include not only the processes and key steps which lead to the establishment of the safe and sustainable use of nuclear power, but also the various roles and responsibilities of national institutions as well as the technical studies needed to make informed government decisions. To clearly delineate both the benefits of nuclear power as well as the technical obstacles which might delay its introduction, participants had the opportunity to learn from the experience of policy makers in United States, which operates 98 commercial nuclear reactors, accounting for approximately 20% of its electricity production.

Some of the questions addressed by lecturers from Texas A&M and the IAEA included: What key policies and oversight measures must be established to ensure the safety and sustainability of a power programme? Which national institutions should be involved in the decision-making process towards the construction and commissioning of a nuclear power plant? What financing and procurement options exist for Member States which are considering the introduction of nuclear power?

Fourteen technical advisers, parliamentarians, regulators and energy policy-makers from Ghana, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Poland, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Zambia participated in the scientific visit. (Photo: K. Regusa/Programme for International Nuclear Energy)

Participants also visited the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant and heard presentations delivered by representatives of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“Countries considering using nuclear power as one of the sources for electricity should conduct a number of studies, including energy planning, a pre-feasibility study and other relevant studies,” said Mehmet Ceyhan, an IAEA Nuclear Engineer, who works with countries that are introducing nuclear power. “This period of study will enable policy makers to collect the necessary technical, legal and financial information to make an informed decision on whether or not to embark on a journey towards nuclear power.”

Over the last four years, more than 45 technical cooperation projects have delivered substantive capacity building and training to support the introduction or exploration of potential nuclear power programmes. These events have supported informed decision-making and capacity development in countries that are at varying stages of developing infrastructure and implementing nuclear power programmes. 

“The scientific visit has made me aware of the required human resources needed to manage [nuclear power] plants,” said Anita Shirley Quartey Papafio, a  Member of Parliament from Ghana, a country which derives approximately 42% of its power from three hydroelectric plants. “Climate change has caused a reduction of rainfall, which in turn has resulted in a reduction in the generation of [hydroelectric] power. This has led to our consideration of nuclear power.”

 “Most of the energy generated in Jordan is derived from natural gas, followed by wind,” said Rabie Abu Saleem, Lecturer at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. “Jordan is contributing to global warming, and we must take action to reduce emissions. This visit has helped me to form a more comprehensive view of nuclear power, including its economic and financing elements, as well as its social and human resources aspects.”

The event was also attended by Ann Ganzer, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the U.S. and Dr Katherine Banks, Vice Chancellor of Engineering and National Laboratories for The Texas A&M University System and Dean of the Texas A&M University College of Engineering, who reaffirmed the continued commitment of the US government to supporting the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear power for electricity generation.

[1] INT2018, ‘Supporting Knowledgeable Decision-making and Building Capacities to Start and Implement Nuclear Power Programmes’

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