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IAEA Features its Energy Planning Tools at Global SDG7 Conference

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At a global conference focused on the role of affordable and clean energy in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the IAEA highlighted its energy modelling and planning tools. These tools, already used by over 135 countries and 20 international organizations, enable experts to plan a country’s energy future – which may or may not include nuclear power.

At the Global SDG7 Conference that took place from 21-23 February in Bangkok, Thailand, participants from around the world discussed the types of energy needed for sustainable development.

“Countries want to meet their growing energy demand and improve their energy security. But this must be done sustainably, reducing environmental and health impacts,” said Huang Wei, Director of the Division of Planning, Information and Knowledge Management at the IAEA.

“Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (SDG7) is central to achieving all 17 SDGs,” he added.

Careful energy planning is important given the large capital costs and long operating lives of power plants. Decisions taken today have a long-term impact and can rule out various options that cannot be introduced at a later stage.

“To avoid energy choices that harm the achievement of other SDGs, the IAEA offers energy planning support,” Huang Wei said. “Energy planning allows governments to make timely, informed decision about managing energy demand and supply.”

Delivering energy to end users require an integrated process that involves different stages starting from energy demand analysis, production, conversion, transformation and distribution. All these stages must be carefully executed and compared against the national resources and capabilities.

The IAEA assists its Member States in developing their energy strategies, including whether to introduce nuclear power in their energy mix. The IAEA’s energy modelling tools and methodologies offer a solution to evaluate all these stages of energy production and make optimal choices. A suit of analytical tools help countries independently develop their own national energy strategies. They help to improve national and regional capabilities for performing integrated energy assessments to formulate long term strategies for sustainable energy development.

The Philippines has made extensive use of these tools, said Marietta Quejada, Senior Science Research Specialist at the Policy Formulation and Research Division of the country’s Department of Energy. “Even back then in 2008, when we were not yet planning to embark on a nuclear power development, we collaborated with the IAEA through technical cooperation projects to further enhance our capability in energy modelling. This has helped the country explore scenarios for sustainable energy development.”

Building Capacity for Energy and Electricity Planning

The key role of capacity building for the achievement of the SDGs was also discussed in depth at the Bangkok Conference. Decision making on energy demand and supply infrastructure involves many stakeholders to consider possible energy supply and demand options. IAEA experts highlighted what the Agency offers: a wide range of training programmes, technical assistance and information exchange, particularly for developing countries, to help them build capacity in energy systems analysis and planning to meet their energy needs.

“Participation in IAEA’s energy planning training programme helps us train national experts and obtain skills for implementing financial assessment of investment projects, including new knowledge of small modular nuclear reactors,” said Sergiu Robu from the Institute of Power Engineering of Academy of Sciences of Moldova, and a participant of a recent IAEA workshop on financial analysis of energy plans.

“Moldova does not plan to embark on nuclear power in near future, but it can be an option for the post-2030 period with a potential to contribute to our national target of reducing CO2 emissions by 67%, compared to 1990,” he said.

SDG7 and the rest

At the Bangkok conference, IAEA representatives also held presentations about the peaceful use of nuclear technologies in various areas, including energy, health, food production and environmental protection – fields recognized under the SDGs. IAEA experts chaired a session on “Partnerships to advance the interlinkages between SDG7 and other SDGs,” and presented the organization’s capacity building activities in energy planning and analysis during a “Workshop on integration of informational resources into the decision-making process.”

On the sidelines of the Conference, experts from the IAEA and from countries that have received IAEA assistance in energy planning hosted an exhibit , highlighting recent publications, such as Nuclear Power and the Paris Agreement, Nuclear Power for Sustainable Development and IAEA Tools and Methodologies for Energy System Planning and Nuclear Energy System Assessments.   

Attendees of the SDG7 conference in Bangkok visit the IAEA stand. (Photo: IAEA)

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