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Nuclear Innovation For Clean And Sustainable Growth

The vital importance of nuclear technologies was a focus of attention at a UN-organized side event held recently as part of the COP 25 climate change conference in Madrid. King Lee, Director Harmony Programme, World Nuclear Association, joined representatives from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the International Maritime Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization in a panel facing questions from other UN organizations.

The panel discussed driving innovation for low-carbon industrialization to support achieving the ninth Sustainable Development Goal. Lee emphasized that “nuclear energy is a mature and proven low-carbon source of electricity, with a 60-year track record of providing reliable and safe operation. On-going innovation and technological development will enable even wider applications aimed at deep decarbonisation of economies around the world and supporting sustainable development.

“Nuclear generation is already the largest source of low-carbon electricity in advanced economies today. Worldwide, nuclear generation avoids the emission of more than 2,500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Innovative nuclear technologies will help lead the way to further deep decarbonization. Small modular reactors will help bring nuclear electricity to remote communities. High-temperature reactors will replace the use of fossil fuels for industrial heat. The use of fast reactors operated in a closed fuel cycle will increase uranium resource efficiency. Nuclear technologies already have a broad range of applications in medicine, agriculture and water resources, and those roles will expand in the future. As countries move towards declaring their long term strategies for climate mitigation under the Paris Agreement the vital importance of nuclear energy is becoming clear. Lee said, “Nuclear technologies do not merely provide energy – they are improving peoples’ lives.”