IAEA helps developing countries plan their energy future

June 16, 2010

In a world facing the combined challenge of dwindling fossil fuels and mounting energy demand, the energy and development nexus is becoming central to the long term strategy of countries.

An increasing number of countries are now looking at the nuclear option as a way to secure the energy supply needed to support development.

"Nuclear power continues to grow: 56 new nuclear reactors are under construction, the largest number since 1992," says Yury Sokolov, IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy.

"The high projection for nuclear capacity in 2030 is 800 GWe."

To help countries strategically plan for nuclear energy programmes, the IAEA offers them support in evaluating all energy supply options and assessing nuclear´s possible role. In an IAEA-led workshop, nuclear experts from over 35 states are gathering this week in Vienna to learn how to apply the tools and methodologies available from the IAEA for long term planning of energy systems and in particular nuclear energy systems.

When a state embarks on a nuclear power programme, it commits to nuclear power for at least 100 years.

"For the past 50 years, nuclear power has gone through 2-3 generations of nuclear technology," says Sokolov.

"The potential role of new developments and innovations must be understood while planning and developing a strategy for the future of national nuclear power programmes."

The workshop also offers an opportunity to share experience and knowledge amongst Member States. Experts will present case studies from countries that are currently using or have already successfully applied these IAEA tools and methodologies.

In addition, specific topics will be addressed relating to the implementation of nuclear power programs, such as capacity building, nuclear technology selection, and adopting the IAEA´s Milestone approach to set up a first nuclear power plant, as well as transparency and public participation in nuclear power programs.

"This workshop will consider how to improve capabilities of the Member States in planning, strategy development, and how to improve the sharing of experience and information in this area," explains Sokolov.

For example, Argentina, Croatia, Jordan, Lithuania and Vietnam are reporting about their application of IAEA tools such as the model for energy supply strategy alternatives and their general environmental impacts (MESSAGE), and the model for analysis of energy demand (MAED). Belarus is sharing its experience in currently undertaking a nuclear energy system assessment (NESA) using the INPRO methodology to assess the sustainability of its planned nuclear energy system. The latter is a project undertaken in a strategic partnership with the Russian Federation.

"It is an opportunity to better understand what has to be done to ensure that any use of nuclear energy is beneficial, responsible and sustainable. The success of this workshop is in the open sharing of experience and knowledge between experienced countries and newcomers as well as mistakes made in the past," commented Sokolov.

Over 60 participants from 35 states are taking part in the Interregional Workshop on Long-range Nuclear Energy Programme Planning and Strategy Development, organized by the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy in cooperation with the Department of Technical Cooperation. The event is being held at the IAEA´s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, from 14 to 17 June 2010.

The IAEA offers a series of tools and services to Member States relating to energy planning and sustainable nuclear energy development and deployment.

They include integrated long-term energy planning tools, such as Planning and Economic Studies Section (PESS) models and indicators; nuclear energy system assessments tools, such as the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) methodology, and nuclear infrastructure development tools and services for newcomers, such as the Milestones document and infrastructure review missions.

IAEA TC support for Member States is also available in all these areas.

By Giovanni Verlini, IAEA Division of Public Information

International Atomic Energy Agency

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