At the U.N.’s Climate Change Conference, Nuclear Power Is Finally Getting Some Respect
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — “People do need to understand the importance of atoms as part of the clean energy future,” declared U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm at COP27. “Nuclear is finding its way back to acceptance and real enthusiasm.”
Granholm was speaking at the opening of a panel discussion on nuclear power’s role in a sustainable and secure low-carbon energy future on Wednesday. While addressing the problem of manmade climate change explains part of the growing enthusiasm for no-carbon nuclear power, the global energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—along with the suspicious blowing up of the Nord Stream pipelines—is further impetus toward deploying nuclear generation. The result is that this latest episode of massive oil and natural gas price volatility has greatly heightened interest in how nuclear power can play a role in energy independence and security.
Granholm specifically noted that Poland has just signed an agreement with Westinghouse to build its first-ever nuclear power facility with a generating capacity of 3,750 megawatts. “The need for permanent independence from energy supplies and energy carriers from Russia is associated with the need to accelerate the implementation of investments in the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Poland,” declared a resolution from the Polish government approving the deal. Granholm further pointed out at COP27 that the U.S. and Romania have just announced a $3 billion deal to partially finance two new nuclear units in the latter country. “We think Eastern Europe will be the center of next-generation nuclear power,” declared Granholm. (In fact, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic have all signed memorandums of understanding with American nuclear company NuScale Power to deploy its next-generation small modular reactors, or SMRs, as I reported back in June.)
With respect to the role that nuclear power will play in the low-carbon energy future, Granholm observed that the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported that the world will need to double or triple the amount of power supplied by nuclear energy in order to reach the global goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Net-zero is defined as “cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests for instance.”
Granholm’s figures mirror those provided by Diane Cameron during an earlier panel discussion focused on whether nuclear power could replace fossil fuels in the economic development of poor countries. Cameron, a nuclear power expert with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency, cite
Article from Reason.com