The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has published its bi-annual report “Climate Change and Nuclear Power” with the sub-title “Securing Clean Energy for Climate Resilience”.
As we head towards the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt in November, we are reminded by global events that the priorities of adapting to the impacts of climate change, mobilizing climate finance and scaling up emission reductions must be pursued in parallel with efforts to address current and long term economic, development and security challenges. Nuclear energy, science and technology — which can contribute across many of these dimensions — is thus essential to realizing a sustainable, resilient and clean energy future.
This report pays particular attention to energy in Africa. About 600 million people and 10 million small businesses in Africa have no reliable source of electricity, and increasingly, connection to a national grid is no guarantee of electricity supply. Blackouts are becoming more frequent, and in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank reports that almost 80 per cent of businesses suffer from power outages, greatly curtailing their activities. Meanwhile, Africa’s energy demand is increasing twice as fast as the global average, largely driven by urban population growth.
This demand will tend to increase the consumption of fossil fuels, but several countries in Africa are exploring the possibility of adding nuclear power to their energy mix, with Egypt recently starting construction on its first nuclear power plant. South Africa, the only nuclear operator on the continent with two reactors totalling almost 2000 MWe, is considering long term operation of the Koeberg nuclear power station and expanding its nuclear power programme.