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IAEA Tool Helps Energy Planners Evaluate Environmental Impacts of Various Sources of Electricity

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The IAEA’s new cloud service serves as a platform for online trainings on energy planning models. (Photo: T. Kalapurackal/IAEA)

National energy planning process starts by evaluating a country’s overall energy situation using a set of indicators that cover all aspects of sustainable development. An IAEA energy modelling tool can help Member States to make a comparative assessment of different energy sources. Such an assessment has a crucial role in determining the right technology for electricity production that best suits a country’s specific needs and helps to fulfil commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

Bringing together 16 energy planning specialists, environment and climate analysts from 14 developing countries, a Vienna workshop held early this month focused on the IAEA’s Simplified Approach for Estimating Impacts of Electricity Generation (SIMPACTS) Model. 

“The SIMPACTS modelling tool helps countries better understand their energy choices by calculating the potential costs of damage from pollutants and wastes to public health and agriculture,” said David Shropshire, Head of the IAEA’s Planning and Economic Studies Section. “These insights are invaluable for making economic and smart energy choices.”  

SIMPACTS allows Member States to estimate and quantify health and environmental damage costs, so-called ‘externalities’, of different electricity generation technologies. It is particularly useful for comparative analyses of fossil, nuclear and renewable electricity generation, siting of new power plants or cost effectiveness of environmental mitigation policies. Key strengths of SIMPACTS are that it already delivers useful results when only limited data are available and that it can be used on a regular personal computer. 

Participants at the workshop studied economic and environmental impacts of different electricity sources and the SIMPACTS modelling tool to evaluate the associated costs. They developed case studies based on country-specific data for different electricity projects currently under consideration in their countries. The case studies focused on the evaluation of nuclear power, siting, research reactors, impacts of hydro and coal power plants to human health as inputs to national energy systems assessments and planning.  

“Used in combination with other IAEA tools to measure carbon emissions, SIMPACTS can facilitate the development of energy policy decisions and updates to Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement,” David Shropshire emphasized. 

Through the energy planning and economic studies mechanisms, the Agency assists Member States in capacity building in the area of national and regional energy systems analysis and planning, so they can independently chart out their own national energy strategies.

“The SIMPACTS modelling tool helps countries better understand their energy choices by calculating the potential costs of damage from pollutants and wastes to public health and agriculture.”
David Shropshire, Head of the IAEA’s Planning and Economic Studies Section

Energy planning specialists, environment and climate analysts from 14 developing countries attended the Vienna workshop on SIMPACTS energy modelling tool, 3 July 2017. (Photo: D. Popovich/IAEA)

IAEA Tools for Long Term Energy Planning

With growing energy demand worldwide, the IAEA offers a range of assistance programmes, particularly for developing countries. IAEA tools and methodologies for energy planning are aimed at improving national and regional capabilities for performing integrated energy assessments to formulate long term strategies for sustainable energy development.

Energy modelling training sessions are an integral part of this assistance. They are important not only for transferring energy assessment methods and analytical tools but also to help users to understand and analyse emerging issues and identify the potential role for various energy technologies, including nuclear power.

The recent workshop was a follow-up to e-trainings on energy planning and analytical tools hosted by the Planning and Economic Studies Section via online learning services, now available on the Agency’s new web platform PESS Cloud Service.

Paris Agreement on Climate Change and NDCs

Adopted in 2015 by world leaders, the Paris Agreement is aimed at holding the increase in global temperature to below 2°C. All low-carbon energy technologies, including nuclear power, are needed to meet the Paris Agreement goal. The IAEA brochure on Nuclear Power and the Paris Agreement highlights the potential role of nuclear power in climate change mitigation and sustainable development.  

The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted in support of the Paris Agreement are aimed at reducing or mitigating greenhouse gas emissions over a span of 10 to 15 years. So far, 165 INDCs were submitted, covering almost 99% of global emissions.

The Paris Agreement stipulates what is now referred to as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to be progressively revised every five years starting from 2020. In 2018, Parties will take stock of the collective efforts in relation to progress towards the goal set in the Paris Agreement.

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