FAQ

What is the role of nuclear power in ensuring sufficient supply of energy?

Answer

Energy security is the responsibility of both consumers and producers. The energy supply situation differs from one country to another, depending on the sufficiency of local resources, on geopolitical aspects and the power of its suppliers.

Security of supply of nuclear energy compared to market fluctuations of oil, gas etc. (regions) and risk of increasing prices due to scarcity of these resources is well established.

Background

The world has sufficient energy resources, knowledge, skills and capital to meet the supply needs; the challenge is to get them from where they are plentiful to where they are needed most (IEA).
 A standard definition of security of supply is a “flow of energy supply to meet demand in a manner and at a price level that does not disrupt the course of the economy in an environmental sustainable manner” (Cf. Cambridge Energy Research Associates – CERA). Security of energy supply is a complex concept in national and worldwide energy policies. Energy security is the responsibility of both consumers and producers. The energy supply situation differs from one country to another, depending on the sufficiency of local resources, on geopolitical aspects and the power of its suppliers.
Security of supply of nuclear energy compared to market fluctuations of oil, gas etc. (regions) and risk of increasing prices due to scarcity of these resources is well established. Nuclear energy is still very competitive facing conventional and renewables, but will need international solidarity between rich and poor countries for its development. In addition with designs based on fast breeder reactors more fuel will be produced than burnt which means ensuring fuel for centuries. Further more, nuclear fuel banks are internationally envisaged which would be able to deliver the fuel to all countries under contract with them and in all circumstances. This would also preclude the use of enrichment plants except in a very few countries thus avoiding proliferation risks.
Another advantage beyond electricity production is future applications: heat, desalination and hydrogen production. With generation IV reactors closed fuel cycles are looked at which would allow reprocessing meaning re-using the uranium and plutonium in new fuels.
 
References: IAE, IAEA, NEA
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