Countries expressing an interest in nuclear energy for electricity production are meeting at the IAEA´s Vienna headquarters to examine Issues for the Introduction of Nuclear Power, a technical workshop to be held 4-6 December 2006. Some 28 countries that currently do not operate nuclear power plants will attend the three-day workshop; to examine what is required should they opt to introduce nuclear power in their energy mix.
"There is growing interest in the application of nuclear power for electricity and water desalination in many countries that currently do not operate nuclear power plants," Head of the IAEA´s Department of Nuclear Energy Yuri Sokolov said.
"The rate of introduction of nuclear power in developing countries will depend to a large extent on the adequacy of the national infrastructure," Mr. Sokolov said. "The decision by a State to consider embarking on a nuclear power programme should be based upon the State´s needs and requires commitment to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in a safe and secure manner. This workshop is a timely opportunity to exchange information on the infrastructure issues that need to be addressed and to build up international confidence," he said.
A key area of the IAEA´s current work is to help countries assess their energy needs, resources and options. The workshop will extend this by providing information on the necessary legal, regulatory and safety frameworks required for a nuclear power programme. The agenda includes:
- Energy needs and planning considerations
- Nuclear security and safeguards
- Physical infrastructure, current and future reactor technology
- Experience in developing nuclear programmes
- Human resource requirements
- Public perception
After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, the growth in nuclear energy was significantly curtailed. Since the mid 1980s it has steadly provided 16% of the world´s electricity each year with improving economic performance and trends in safety records over this time. In recent years expectations for nuclear power have been rising. New nuclear plants are most attractive in countries where energy demand is growing and resources are scarce and where energy security, air pollution and greenhouse gasses are priorities, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei points out.
All told there are 442 operating nuclear power plants around the world, with current expansion centred in Asia. The US has the most with 103. France is next with 59, followed by Japan with 55 plus one under construction, and Russia with 31, and four more under construction.
Expansion is heavily centred in Asia. Seven of the world´s 29 reactors under construction are in India, which plans a eight-fold increase by 2022. China has four reactors under construction and plans more than a five-fold expansion in the next 15 years.
"Each country must make it own energy choices. Clearly one size does not fit all. But for those countries interested in making nuclear power part of their sustainable development strategies, it is important that the nuclear power options be kept open and accessible," Mr. Alan McDonald, a senior officer in the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy said.
Over 40 countries will attend the meeting in Vienna next week, co-sponsored by the Governments of Canada, China, France, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia and United States of America. Speakers from 10 countries with operating nuclear power plans will provide their experiences in introducing nuclear power and many of the related issues. This workshop is intended to provide information to help ensure that countries considering the introduction of nuclear power gain a full understanding of the commitments and obligations that it would then need to adopt.