INTERNATIONAL The World Energy Council (WEC) has issued a millennium statement, Energy for Tomorrow’s World – Acting Now. The publication updates the WEC’s 1993 statement and reflects changes in the global situation in the last seven years.
WEC established three key goals in the energy field over the next 20 years: energy accessibility, energy availability and energy acceptability. To meet these criteria energy must be reliable, affordable, environmentally sound and publicly acceptable.
Since 1993 progress in achieving these goals has been slow.
“Clearly market mechanisms and decentralised decision making have failed to channel investment and technology to develop energy resources in a way that ensures that all energy needs are met and environmental priorities are respected,” said François Ailleret, chairman of the WEC Studies Committee.
“An estimated 1.6 billion people in the world today still don’t have access to commercial energy services. Whether you agree that the energy sector is currently sustainable or not, new policy departures and remedial action are needed.” To achieve these aims, WEC spells out ten policy actions. Of particular importance to the nuclear industry are the policies to keep all energy options open; pricing energy to cover costs and ensure payment; and funding of research, development and deployment of new technologies.
“Nuclear power is of fundamental importance to most WEC members because it is the only energy supply which already has a very large and well-diversified resource (and potentially unlimited resource if breeders are used),” says the statement. “It is quasi-indigenous, does not emit greenhouse gasses, and has either favourable or at most slightly unfavourable economics. In fact should the climate change threat become a reality, nuclear is the only existing power technology which could replace coal in baseload. While it faces a public acceptance problem, the present evolution of safety, waste disposal and regulatory independence, should lower the existing concerns.”