THE WORLD’S NUCLEAR NEWS AGENCY
THE NUCLEAR COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK
8 July 2005 / Feature N°10/05 / B
Opinion: No Energy Source Should Be Idealised Or
In an article for the summit of G8* leaders
which ends today in Gleneagles, Scotland, the executive director
of the International Energy Agency, Claude Mandil, says “no
single energy source should be idealised or demonised” in
tackling climate change.
Climate change has been high on the agenda of
the International Energy Agency (IEA) and of its member countries
for years. This is not surprising as 80% of greenhouse gases are
emitted through energy production or consumption. The answers
to climate change lie in both energy and environmental policies.
And the response has to be on a global scale. British prime minister
Tony Blair recognised this strong link when he invited the IEA
to participate in discussions between the G8 and the outreach
countries (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) on climate
change and other global economic issues.
The starting point for the international effort
against global warming is the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) which has been signed by almost all countries
and which came into effect in 1994. Its ultimate goal is to stabilise
the CO2 content of the atmosphere by sharply reducing
CO2 emissions worldwide.
Are we on track? Unfortunately not, far from
it. According to recent IEA analysis in the “World Energy
Outlook 2004” [see also News in Brief No. 47, 2nd November
2004], continuing to do business as usual leads to a 60% increase
of CO2 emissions by 2030. It is the result of more world inhabitants,
more energy consumption per capita and more fossil fuels in the
energy mix. Most of the growth in emissions over the next 25 years
will occur in developing countries, yet 1.4 billion people will
still not have access to electricity in 2030. Can we curb such
disastrous trends in a way consistent with the need for economic
growth and poverty alleviation?
The need for action is urgent. Any tonne of
carbon dioxide we do not emit today is a tonne our grandchildren
will not have to deal with in the future, probably at much higher
costs. In the meantime countries will need to deal with the effects
of climate change which will also pose a burden on their economies.
We need to start today. But how?
In the long term, there is general agreement
that significant technology breakthroughs will be needed to solve
the problem. Breakthroughs are needed in a number of domains:
cost-effective renewables, particularly cheap photovoltaics and
advanced biofuels; nuclear, with an acceptable solution for nuclear
waste management; energy transportation and use, especially in
cars and buildings; and last but not least carbon capture and
sequestration, as there is no foreseeable replacement for fossil
fuels for quite some time. Hydrogen used in fuel cells is another
Governments must actively promote and support
energy research and development budgets, and increase cooperative
work, both among countries and with the industry. That means not
only reversing present trends of shrinking public R&D budgets,
but committing more funding and increasing the budgets.
Governments should avoid prematurely picking
“winning” technologies. For the time being all avenues
will need to be explored and there is no silver bullet. No single
energy source should be idealised or demonised. Obviously some
technologies seem more promising than others. They should be identified
and more efforts should be targeted in these areas, but eventually
the winners will be selected by the market.
But in the shorter term, there are steps we can
take today. In its “World Energy Outlook 2004”, the
IEA produced a so-called “Alternative Scenario” based
on more aggressive policies and technology uptake. This scenario
merely supposes that the energy mix worldwide includes a little
more renewables, a little more nuclear and, most important, that
energy efficiency improvements reach again the pace they achieved
in the 1970s and 1980s.
These measures would still not stabilise global
emissions, and more would need to be done. Nevertheless, the result
is impressive: CO2 emissions in the OECD begin to decline
in 2020 and by 2030 are 16% lower than the business as usual scenario
– some 50 billion tonnes of CO2 could be avoided
Much of this is achieved through greater energy
efficiency. For example, if OECD households chose more efficient
appliances, they could save 30% of the power consumed by OECD
appliances. There is also significant potential for energy savings
in transport, buildings and industry (including coal-fired power
plants), especially in developing economies.
That is not all. Energy efficiency is a policy
with double or even triple dividends. While reducing CO2
emissions, it improves energy security of supply as well and,
when available at zero or negative costs, it contributes to economic
growth. For example, oil saving can help ease the pressures in
the oil market by slowing demand and, according to our analysis,
help to dampen oil prices by up to 15%.
That is certainly the reason why the governments
in most consuming countries have now put energy efficiency among
their top priorities. Speaking at the US Energy Efficiency Forum
on 15th June 2005, President George Bush stated: “The
first step is… to improve conservation and efficiency.”
Gathering for their biennial meeting on 3rd
May 2005, energy ministers from the IEA member countries committed
to reinforcing their efficiency efforts. The G8 summit agenda
is a very timely opportunity to emphasise these commitments and
to explore ways of implementing them. But nothing can be achieved
within G8 or OECD countries alone. The challenge of climate change
needs to be addressed worldwide, taking into account the concerns
of developing countries. We mustn’t miss this opportunity!
*The G8 stands for the 'Group of Eight' nations.
It began in 1975 when then French president Giscard d'Estaing
invited the leaders of Japan, the US, Germany, the UK and Italy
to Rambouillet, near Paris, to discuss the economic problems of
the day. The group expanded to include Canada in 1976 and Russia
in 1998. Unlike many other international bodies, the G8 does not
have a fixed structure or a permanent administration. It is up
to the country that has the presidency (currently the UK) to set
the agenda and organise the annual G8 Summit.
Source: Claude Mandil
Editor: John Shepherd
THE NUCLEAR COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK
28 June 2005 / News N°107 /05 / A
EU And Japan’s ‘Privileged Partnership’
Outlined In ITER Accord
The European Commission (EC) has announced details
of the agreement reached earlier today that will see the International
Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project based at the
EU candidate site of Cadarache, France [see also News Alert No.
2, 28th June 2005].
Although Japan lost its bid to site ITER at its
candidate site, in Rokkasho, the EU and Japan will cooperate in
what the EU said will be a “privileged partnership”.
Highlights of the agreement* are:
Japan will provide high-tech components corresponding to
20% of the total procurements for ITER construction;
The EU will also make contributions to other (so-called
Broader Approach) projects in cash and in kind;
The EU will support a “suitable Japanese
candidate” as director-general of the planned ITER organisation
and Japan will have the right to supply “more than a
proportional share” of the organisation’s staff;
Some ITER headquarters functions, including meetings of
the ITER council, could be based in Japan;
If, at a later phase of the project, there
is an international agreement to build a demonstration reactor,
the EU would support Japan’s candidacy to host it;
For the EU, a new organisation will be established
in Spain through which contributions (in cash and in kind)
will be provided to the ITER organisation.
The ITER project involves the construction of
an experimental fusion reactor to assess the feasibility of fusion
energy as an energy source and, consequently, the feasibility
of constructing a subsequent demonstration reactor – possibly
with commercial fusion reactors to follow.
ITER spokesman Bill Spears described the project
as “a key step between physics and implementation”.
He told NucNet that if ITER proves viable, many countries may
want to build their own demonstration reactor. Mr Spears said
that if, as the EU indicated, there is an international agreement
to build such a unit, Japan would likely host it.
Meanwhile, the six ITER parties will also share
the estimated 4.57 billion euro (EUR) construction cost at Cadarache,
with the EU and France contributing 50% and the other parties
10% each. Operation costs are expected to total about another
EUR 5 billion. The total cost will be spread over 30 years –
10 years for construction and 20 years of operation.
The director-general of Foratom, the trade association
of the European nuclear industry, Dr Peter Haug, said: “This
will provide a major boost for the European nuclear energy industry
and is well-earned recognition of its excellent research credentials.”
Dr Haug, who is also secretary-general of the
European Nuclear Society, added that the decision “shows
that nuclear energy remains an important energy option and sends
out a positive signal that the nuclear industry offers talented
young people the opportunity to pursue a challenging and worthwhile
career in a sector that is at the cutting edge of modern technology”.
Of the six ITER parties, the EU, Russia and China
had favoured basing the project at Cadarache while Japan, the
US and South Korea had favoured Rokkasho [see News in Brief No.
46, 21st April 2005].
Negotiations had been deadlocked over the siting
since December 2003, preventing progress on technical aspects
of the project. But in early 2005 the EU insisted that, if necessary,
it could build the ITER reactor in France even without the support
of the other parties. In April 2005 the EU and Japan agreed to
accelerate talks to reach an agreement [see News in Brief No.
46, 21st April 2005].
In announcing today’s decision at a meeting
of the six parties in Moscow, the EC said: “This agreement
heralds the end of a deadlock between two alternative sites for
the reactor and is an important milestone in the move towards
establishing fusion as a sustainable source of energy production.
“Now that this issue has been resolved,
the technical work can be carried out to finalise the agreement.
It is hoped that it will be possible for all parties to initial
the text of the agreement by the end of this year, thereby allowing
for the start of construction by the end of 2005.”
*‘ITER and fusion energy research –
your questions answered’, is available on the EC’s
together with links to other information about the project.
Source: NucNet /EC
Editor: Daniel MacIsaac