Nuclear Energy Summit

Nuclear Energy Summit

News: Recently, Brussels (Belgium) hosted the first-ever Nuclear Energy Summit. It co-chaired by the Prime Minister of Belgium and the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

 The Nuclear Energy Summit is a significant international gathering that brings together world leaders to discuss and highlight the role of nuclear energy in addressing global challenges related to energy transition, climate change, and sustainable development.

Purpose and Focus:
 The Nuclear Energy Summit aims to emphasize the importance of nuclear energy in:
o Reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
o Enhancing energy security.
o Promoting economic development.
 It provides a platform for leaders to share their vision on the key role of nuclear power in achieving netzero emissions and advancing sustainable development.

 Prime Minister Alexander De Croo of Belgium.
 Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Historical context:
 The Summit follows the historic inclusion of nuclear energy in the Global Stocktake agreed upon at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai in December 2023.
 COP28 called for accelerating the deployment of nuclear energy alongside other low-carbon energy sources.

Topics of discussion
 Innovation in nuclear power.
 Enhancing its competitiveness, usability, and sustainability.
 Funding and financing nuclear power projects.
Atoms4NetZero initiative
 The Summit coincided with the launch of the IAEA’s Atoms4NetZero initiative, which focuses on nuclear energy’s role in achieving net-zero emissions.
Need for nuclear energy
 Nuclear power emits four times less carbon than solar farms or other renewable sources such as wind, hydropower, and geothermal.
 Nuclear power has the capacity to supply uninterrupted energy irrespective of geographical constraints making it a crucial component of the wider renewable energy mix.
 Nuclear power plants also have low operating costs, smaller land imprint and a longer life cycle compared to all the other renewable energy sources.
Issues with financing of nuclear energy
 In spite of technical advancements in this area, Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and private investors have not made any significant contribution to the industry.
 The World Bank has not provided financing for a nuclear project since its $40 million loan to Italy in 1959.
There is a need to reassess nuclear financing policies of MDBS to accommodate private capital or blended finance models.

Nuclear energy in India
 India’s first commercial NPP in Pahalgarh, Tarapur offers reliable energy at 2/kWh lower than solar power tariffs. 
 At Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, a newer power plant offers electricity in the range of 4-6/kWh comparable to coal-fired thermal power plants.
 Despite its versatile nature, nuclear power contributes only 1.6% of the total renewable energy mix in India. Stigma, weaponization risk, radiation leak, regulation, high upfront cost, and long project overruns are the reasons for low adoption rate of nuclear energy.

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