With global energy demand expected to grow 30 per cent by 2040 as per International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates, a sustainable energy balance needs to be achieved to meet this requirement while also ensuring reduction in hazardous emissions, experts said.
A stable and safe energy balance will require a combination of different sources of clean generation — with a mix of wind and solar combined with nuclear power — from every country worldwide, they said.
The Director General of the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, Alexey Likhachev, said that there will be no place for monogeneration in the future global picture.
“In any case, both stability and peak loads will be provided by different types of generation: Solar, wind, and certainly nuclear, geothermal and many other renewables. We definitely consider nuclear energy to be a clean energy source that is environmentally comfortable for humankind,” he said.
In recent times, carbon emissions have reached extremely high levels globally, raising questions about how the world’s energy system should develop in the future. An increasing number of experts believe that a carbon-free power industry should be developed with all those types of energy generation that are called carbon-free: Wind, water, solar and nuclear.
More and more regions and countries are enthusiastically developing renewable energy projects. The UAE government has announced its intention to invest $163 billion in renewable energy projects to meet more than half of its needs by renewables.
In 2016, China invested $32 billion in overseas renewable energy projects and is planning to invest at least $360 billion by 2020.
India is also actively developing renewables. The installed capacity of the country’s wind energy farms, mainly concentrated in the western, southern and northern regions of the country, exceeds 28 GW. India also plans to achieve the target of 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022.
Incidentally, even Rosatom is not relying on nuclear generation alone these days. “We believe that the only possible way to achieve sustainable development and preserve the environment of our planet is to create a green energy balance. The solution of the global warming problem lies in the transition to green carbon-free electrical energy generation, to the energy of the atom, sun, wind and water. This is what future generations are demanding from us,” Likhachev said.
In an interview to France 2 Television earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron said his “priority was to cut carbon emissions and shut down polluting coal-fired production” and that he won’t follow Germany’s example by phasing out nuclear energy.
Germany decided to get rid of its nuclear power and spent billions of dollars for expanding its renewables infrastructure. However, greenhouse gas emissions increased in Germany over the last several years as the capacity of the closed down nuclear plants had to be replaced mainly by thermal and coal generation despite efforts to boost renewable sources.
According to Kirill Komarov, Rosatom’s First Deputy Director General for Corporate Development and International Business, the renewables and nuclear power industry should “work as a team” to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep the rise in temperature to less than two degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
“Balance is very important not only for good, normal and properly organised consumption but also for power systems as a whole.”
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov said nuclear energy is not the opposite of the green and renewable energy and there is a space for both in the global energy balance.
“We do not have sufficient power generation units to meet the requirements of the climate agreements that we have committed to. So we need to advocate the positives of nuclear energy to build trust in the same,” he said.
Chudakov said that generation of one gigawatt of nuclear energy only needed a space of three square kilometres as against 900 square kilometres in case of wind energy. “That’s the size of a city like Moscow.”
(Vishav was in Moscow at the invitation of Rosatom for an international conference on nuclear energy. He can be contacted at email@example.com)