A number of scientists and other professionals who assembled at an international summit in France on May 13, 2019, have pushed for nuclear energy, arguing it would help mitigate climate change.
The scientists had gathered at the International Congress on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants (ICAPP) in Juan-les-Pins, France, to sign a declaration. There were forty nuclear associations who demanded public investment in the nuclear sector as it has experienced almost stagnant public investment since 2000 and private players too have shown little interest.
“The current level of public support for nuclear research and development (R&D) has remained constant at around $4 billion per year since 2000, in a business-as-usual situation,” a statement issued by those assembled noted.
The scientists gave several reasons for the lack of enthusiasm among the private sector. These included mixed or negative political signals as well as electricity market designs that have had a negative impact on the business case for nuclear energy.
They underlined new reactor technologies like small modular reactors, Gen IV reactors and new applications like desalination, district heating, process heat for industry and hydrogen production and emphasised on the need of resources for research and development.
The meet also raised the issue of R&D infrastructure, which has become obsolete and needs to be renewed.
The statement demanded doubling of public investment in nuclear-related R&D and innovation within the next five years, with a focus on innovative applications of advanced nuclear systems to enable the clean energy mix of the future.
The meet on May 13 comes just days before the tenth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) Conference scheduled on May 28 and 29 in Canada. The CEM consists of the 28-member European Union (EU) as well as 24 other countries. It accounts for 90 per cent of all investment in clean energy globally and is also responsible for around 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The ICAPP meet demanded that the CEM Conference should takes nuclear innovation to broad, multilateral discussions on clean energy at both, the ministerial and working levels. The statement says that it will help nuclear energy and in return, the sector will help in decarbonisation goals.
It should be noted that after the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan, many countries decided to phase out nuclear energy.