In this issue, we highlight increased Russian cooperation with African partners and also South Korean engagement in both Southeast Asia and Northern Europe. We also note the recent appointment of the new IAEA head Rafael Grossi. In India, North Korean hackers launched a cyber attack on the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, compromising its administrative network. Finally, the World Nuclear Association has released a report detailing the growth in nuclear energy use in Asia.
Bridging the Gap on Climate, Nuclear and Security Policy
As the news of climate change’s global impact grows grimmer, the unwillingness of governments and some environmental advocates to embrace a full solution set for the problem grows increasingly inexcusable. It’s time to bridge the climate-nuclear power-global security gap.
signed by 11,258 scientists from 153 nations warned that humanity is now facing a “climate emergency” resulting from “insufficient progress” in reducing greenhouse gasses. This was preceded by another
assessment that triples the estimate of global vulnerability to increases in sea level. This as
is yet again burning intensely.
, particularly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have
the value of nuclear power in meeting deep decarbonization objectives even as renewable energy will continue to thrive. Some well-known U.S. environmental and energy
have come to accept the zero carbon value of existing nuclear power plants as they see global carbon emissions continue to rise and are facing the reality that while renewable energy will continue to grow, so will the
and the demand for clean energy.
Achieving a zero-carbon objective by mid-century or even the end of the century will be difficult and almost certainly will require a mix of technologies. Taking nuclear power offline prematurely will increase global emissions as it is the second largest zero-carbon energy source after hydropower and now accounts for more than half of America’s carbon free electricity, the world’s second largest emitter.
In advanced economies, existing large-scale nuclear reactors currently
35 years old. These reactors were originally designed for a 40-year life. If life extensions are granted by regulators, some of these reactors could approach 60-80 years of operation by mid-century. Without life extensions, and replacement, their retirement could add an additional 4 billion tonnes of CO
emissions and require an additional
$1.6 trillion investment
to support a clean energy transition.
If renewables expand to roughly 40% of generation, as one MIT report predicted, they may then face cost increases, making the next generation nuclear power, small modular and advanced reactors (SM&AR), a viable complementary zero-carbon option. In theory, these reactors can replace the existing fleet as it retires, but the volume of these reactors would need to be significant as their power output is considerably lower. They also have the potential to address the cost, safety, waste, and security concerns that plague the existing nuclear fleet.
However, before these reactors can advance to the deployment stage, there are financial, regulatory, demonstration, and security issues that need to be addressed.
Because of the nascent nature of SM&AR development, the nuclear security “gap” policy issues have received little study. These include: analyses of the safeguards, security and geopolitical implications and requirements of SM&ARs; assessing the impacts and mitigation of emerging disruptive technologies on these reactors; and determining how to effectively and productively engage with Russia and China to preserve high global nuclear governance standards as these reactors enter deployment.
Without addressing these key issues in a timely fashion, it could inhibit the development and deployment of these technologies. And, it could provide an advantage for developers and exporter nations that do not have much invested in high levels of global nuclear governance.
Those that really want to achieve a zero-carbon world increasingly understand that there is no one silver bullet. Preserving existing nuclear capacity and paving the pathway for the next generation of reactors will create a more effective and flexible solution set. Bridging the climate-nuclear-security gap is a necessary step forward.
Ken Luongo, Partnership for Global Security
As a sign of
between Russia and Azerbaijan, Moscow has proposed to build a nuclear power plant (NPP) in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is working to diversify its energy mix and decrease domestic consumption of natural gas.
Russia and Ethiopia have
their cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy through the recent signing of an agreement at the October Russia-Africa Summit. This is one of more than
20 nuclear agreements
made between Rosatom and African countries as Russia seeks to promote its nuclear industry in the continent.
Russia and Rwanda have
signed an agreement
for Russian assistance in establishing a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology that will lay the foundation for developing Rwanda’s nuclear power infrastructure.
Rosatom subsidiary Rusatom Automated Control Systems (RASU) and Franco-German consortium Framatome-Siemens have
signed an agreement
to manufacture, deliver, and commission components for Hungary’s Paks NPP.
GE Hitachi and Poland’s Synthos SA have
an agreement in which the former’s BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) technology might be used in Poland’s NPP infrastructure. Michal Solowow, owner of Synthos SA, argues that this is an important opportunity for Poland to pursue a clean energy pathway away from coal.
Korean and Finnish waste organizations have
a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to share technology and know-how on the safe disposal of high-level radioactive waste.
South Korea’s Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) has said that it has
provided the technical know-how
to Vietnam and Thailand in decommissioning and dismantling old nuclear reactors.
U.S. assistance in establishing a new nuclear waste repository center. Although the country has recently become the host of the IAEA’s new low enriched uranium fuel bank, it is focused on preventing radioactive contamination.
Romanian nuclear operator Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN) has
signed an MoU
with Italian Ansaldo Nucleare and Canadian Candu Energy Inc. to assess, refurbish, and upgrade Romania’s Cernavoda Unit 1 in order to extend its lifespan for another 30 years.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The IAEA has
Argentina’s Rafael Grossi to head the agency to succeed Yukiya Amano, who passed away earlier this year. The priorities of the IAEA under Grossi’s leadership are unlikely to change, with a continued focus on the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA).
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are
currently in discussions
over Saudi Arabia’s plan to construct NPPs in the country. Although Washington emphasizes the peaceful use of nuclear energy, Riyadh is unwilling to sign a deal that would potentially prevent it from enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel, both steps that could be taken to produce a nuclear weapon.
Brazil’s state nuclear power company Electronuclear is
a partnership with China’s National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), France’s EDF or Russia’s Rosatom in completing construction of its Angra 3 plant.
made successful progress
in its implementation of IAEA recommendations in the development of its nuclear power capacity. The IAEA’s Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) has been critical in providing expertise and advice.
The French government has
EDF to prepare a plan that will address the utility’s long-standing issues, including skills shortages, construction delays, and cost overruns. These reforms will be crucial as France seeks to present itself as a global leader in the nuclear industry.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has
the British government to advance SMR development for deployment of a first-of-a-kind by 2030. It has also promoted a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model to serve as a mechanism for financing large-scale nuclear developments.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) will
financial support to Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) to support investments in safety measures at the latter’s Tokai Daini NPP.
The UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) will soon complete its
of the operating license application of the Barakah 1 and 2 reactors.
France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire
nuclear energy to be included as part of a proposed European Union sustainable finance initiative, which will take environmental and social considerations when making investment decisions. This has been opposed by Austria, Germany, Greece, and Luxembourg.
The Philippines plans to outline to the IAEA its intentions to
develop its nuclear power infrastructure
. Citing energy security needs, the Philippines points to a precarious energy supply and the high cost of electricity. In turn, the IAEA has provided its
of the country’s capacities.
The IAEA’s new Kazakhstan-based low-enriched uranium (LEU) bank is
. The bank, which is aimed at providing LEU for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, received its first shipment on October 17.
The U.S. will
to Russian, Chinese, and European companies to allow them to continue working at Iranian nuclear facilities, work that will prevent Iran from developing weapons-grade plutonium. This represents a shift from the “maximum pressure” policy previously pursued by the Trump administration.
During the first three quarters of this year, China’s NPPs
over 250 billion kilowatt hours of power, an increase of around 23 percent. According to the China Nuclear Energy Association, the country’s 47 nuclear reactors contributed to 4.8 percent of its total energy supply.
South Korea’s energy policy is
undergoing a transition
as it balances its use of liquefied natural gas (LNG), nuclear energy, and coal. Nuclear energy is expected to increase its share, with it increasing from 22.3 percent to 27.4 percent just in the past year.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-ID) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have
introduced a bill
known as the Integrated Energy Systems Act to establish a new program at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and promote research and development into hybrid nuclear energy systems and integrated hydrogen production.
The U.S. House of Representatives has
recently passed a bill
to permanently ban mining, particularly uranium, near the Grand Canyon. While House Democrats support the bill on the basis of environmental protection, House Republicans argue that it would hamper the area’s economic development.
Centrus Energy and the U.S. DOE have
a three-year contract to construct and install AC100M centrifuge machines that will produce high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel for advanced reactors. Compared to LEU used at many existing reactors, HALEU contains a higher concentration of the isotope U-235, which offers some potential technical and economic advantages.
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies
Environmental activists in Germany and Russia are
about the shipment of depleted uranium from Germany to Russia. They emphasize the dangers of transporting uranium hexafluoride and criticize the open air storage policies of both countries’ nuclear waste.
that India’s Kudankulam NPP in Tamil Nadu may have faced a cyberattack attributed to North Korea, officials have
that the plant was indeed targeted by North Korean hackers.
The U.K. Space Agency and Nuclear Decommissioning Agency have
launched a challenge
for small businesses and university start-ups to research and develop technologies that will enable the U.K. to use satellites in the decommissioning of NPPs.
In response to such incidents as the recent attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has
against the possibility of drone attacks on U.S. NPPs. The UCS has criticized the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for failing to require owners of U.S.-based nuclear facilities to defend against drone attacks.
from Germany-based IZA Institute of Labor Economics has determined that more deaths were caused by higher electricity prices and increased fossil fuel use after the 2011 Fukushima NPP disaster than as a result of radiation or the subsequent evacuation. It is argued that fears over exposure to radiation have been overblown.
The World Nuclear Association has recently released a
The World Nuclear Performance Report 2019 Asia Edition
, which states that nuclear power generation in the region increased by 12 percent last year, offsetting carbon emissions that would have been produced by coal-powered plants.
The Center for Climate and Security has recently released a
The Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent (R2P2): A Climate Security Governance Framework for the 21st Century
. This report outlines three critical gaps that have prevented the international community from preparing for and preventing the risks of climate change.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change published a
titled “Deep Decarbonization of the U.S. Electricity Sector: Is There a Role for Nuclear Power?” The report argues that despite decreasing costs for wind and solar power, there is still a role for nuclear power to play.
In the Oxford University Press’
titled “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency” highlights the increasing dangers of carbon emissions on the environment, and on human health and survival. Among the policy changes presented is to halt extraction of fossil fuels, the largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has
Eighth National Report for the Convention on Nuclear Safety
detailing the government’s policies in managing the security of the country’s NPPs. NRC officials will
at the IAEA in March of next year to discuss the report with other representatives.
OilPrice.com, November 6
Washington Post, November 5
Financial Times, November 3
CNBC, November 2
The Diplomat, November 1
Neutron Bytes, November 1
Forbes, October 31
Morning Consult, October 29
European Leadership Network, October 28
World Nuclear News, October 28
The National, October 27
Sustainability Times, October 25
OilPrice.com, October 25
Forbes, October 24
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