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Nuclear Power Can Help Meet Development Goals, IAEA Director General Says in Paris

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IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano gave a keynote address at the 2018 World Nuclear Exhibition event in Paris, France. (Photo: S.Gas/IAEA)

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano highlighted the importance of nuclear science and technology —including nuclear power — in meeting development goals in his keynote address at the 2018 World Nuclear Exhibition event in Paris, France, today.

“The IAEA helps countries to use nuclear science and technology to meet at least nine of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals directly, including those aimed at ending hunger, improving human health, increasing the availability of clean water, and, of course, energy,” Mr Amano said.

Nuclear power helps to address the twin challenges of ensuring reliable energy supplies and curbing greenhouse gas emissions, he added. “Today, nuclear power produces 11 percent of the world’s electricity. But when it comes to low-carbon electricity, nuclear generates almost one third of the global total.”

Nuclear power reduces carbon dioxide emissions by about two gigatonnes per year, he said. “That is the equivalent of taking more than 400 million cars off the road – every year.”

"In my opinion, it will be difficult for the world to meet the challenges of securing sufficient energy, and of limiting the average global temperature increase to 2 degrees centigrade, without making more use of nuclear power."

Renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power would play an increasingly important role in the future. “However, these are intermittent energy sources which cannot meet countries’ needs on their own. That means more use of nuclear power will be needed,” Mr Amano added.

He said continuous improvement in reactor designs in the coming years could make nuclear power more cost-effective and help to alleviate public concerns on issues such as safety and waste disposal. Advanced water-cooled reactors with innovative safety measures as well as  small modular reactors could  play a key role in the replacement and expansion of the global nuclear fleet. Mr Amano said it was essential that robust levels of nuclear safety consistent with IAEA safety standards should be in place at every nuclear power plant in the world.  “In many countries, public acceptance remains the most important issue to be addressed when it comes to nuclear power. Enhanced safety helps to increase public confidence in nuclear power,” he said.

Digital technology at nuclear facilities

Mr Amano also gave the keynote speech at the 2018 INDEX Conference on Nuclear Digital Experience in Paris, addressing technological innovation in the nuclear sector. He noted the steady increase in the use of digital systems in nuclear power plants throughout the world. “Digital systems promise higher reliability, more functionality, better plant performance, additional diagnostic capabilities and many other advantages,” he said.  “But, of course, new digital systems also bring new challenges, including those related to nuclear safety and security. The nuclear industry and national regulators need to build up the methods, data and experience to ensure that new systems meet all reliability and performance requirements.”

The IAEA assists its Member States in areas such as the digitization of instrumentation and control systems.

Mr Amano said increasing use of digital technology increased the risk that instrumentation and control systems in nuclear power plants could be subjected to cyber-attacks, with potentially serious consequences. The IAEA works closely with countries to increase nuclear security and had recently published a technical guidance report entitled Computer Security of Instrumentation and Control Systems at Nuclear Facilities, he added.

During his two-day visit to France, Mr Amano has meetings with Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy and Finance, François Jacq, Chairman of the Commission of Nuclear Energy, Philippe Etienne, Diplomatic Counsellor of the President, senior officials of the French nuclear industry and industry representatives from other countries.

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Last update: 27 Jun 2018

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