Nuclear power is the only low-carbon technology that is available today that has the potential to be deployed on a wide scale and in large capacities to help meet the global climate-energy challenge, according to Dr Mikhail Chudakov, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"First, direct greenhouse gas emissions from NPPs are negligible. Secondly, when emissions over the entire life cycle are considered, hydro, nuclear, and wind-based electricity generation are the lowest CO2 emitters. Therefore, nuclear energy is ideally placed to mitigate the effects of climate change in a most cost effective way."

The IAEA has a comprehensive set of tools to help newcomer countries understand the climate-energy challenge as well as the challenge of launching a nuclear power programme, he pointed out, in an article on the IAEA Nuclear Energy Department website on 27 November.

"Our efforts focus on providing a factual assessment of nuclear power. We help decision-makers consider all energy production technology options. Our planning tools, used by 130 countries and 20 regional and international organizations, consider all energy options."

In 2011 alone, it is estimated that 2.1 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions were avoided due to nuclear-based electricity generation. "I believe that advanced and innovative reactor and fuel designs will play an increasing role in meeting this global challenge," he said. "Use of gas-cooled and fast reactors, for example, will improve fuel utilization, help optimize fuel cycles, reduce cooling water demands, and minimize long lived radioactive waste generation."

The Department of Nuclear Energy takes the lead in the IAEA’s efforts to bring about innovation in nuclear power. "We try to connect the many disciplines that are involved in advanced reactors, ranging from financing to better use of resources, from operational performance to waste management and proliferation resistance."

Photo: D Calma/IAEA