AFTER the official opening of the international 12th AtomExpo 2022 themed “Nuclear Spring” in Sochi, Russia on November 21, organized by ROSATOM, a Russia state organization in charge of nuclear energy development, a chain of sideline discussions on an assortment of topics went underway with non-state actors explaining their role in the championing of nuclear energy as a smart alternative source of energy, reports FRANCIS LUNGU.
It has been widely agreed over recent decades that nuclear energy is the future in the energy mix to avert the ever-increasing danger posed by climate change towards major energy sources like wind, hydro and even solar.
This was attested by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) deputy director general Mikhail Chudakov who placed emphasis on nuclear energy being the future especially for the developing countries like Zambia.
“Countries in Africa, like Zambia for instance are on the right track in embracing nuclear technologies. Nuclear energy is the only sources of clean energy that cuts across all the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). It is critical that these countries are assisted with new technologies to develop nuclear power,” Mr Chudakov said in an interview with foreign journalists covering the AtomExpo.
Moderating the sideline roundtable discussion on the involvement of non-governmental organisations in the promotion of nuclear energy production, Rosatom chief executive officer for Central Southern Africa Ryan Collyer said the participation of non-state players in the promotion sustainable development through nuclear technologies in critical.
Mr Collyer observes that many nations and particularly developing nations are currently formulating strategies on how to address their energy supply challenges, and find the optimum energy mix to support their ambitious economic and socio-economic goals.
He said strategy formulations are crucial decisions that will affect the future of these nations and their populations for generations to come.
“Formulating the optimum energy mix is based on a balancing act known as the energy trilemma – which consists of security of supply, cost efficiency and environmental impact. Nuclear is one of the only energy sources that ticks all of these boxes and therefore is a very logical addition to any energy mix,” he said.
Speaking of environmental impact, Mr Collyer said it is no secret that global warming is ravaging the planet and it is time something is drastically done.
According to recent data, world sea levels have risen by over 20 centimeters since 1870. The planet’s average surface temperature has seen an increase of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century.
“At first glance it may seem like an insignificant change – but it is one that is triggering massive environmental consequences, including droughts, extreme weather patterns as well as the melting of the Arctic ice sheets among many others,” he said.
Clean energy sources should not be fighting for pole position in the global energy mix, but rather be utilized together to preserve this beautiful and diverse planet of ours.
Nuclear has a key role to play in decarbonizing our global energy production. By way of example, the ten NPPs (Nuclear Power Plants) that currently operate in Russia satisfy 33 percent of the electricity requirements in its European region. Together, they prevent the release of 200 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. This is significant input into reaching the decarbonization goals under the Paris agreement.”
Mr Collyer observed that much needed transition to sustainable development is unimaginable without nuclear technologies ensuring clean and reliable energy supply.
He added that peaceful atom is a foundation of modern knowledge-based economy and high living standards.
“The most pressing global challenge of climate change is a lost cause without nuclear energy. Deeply rooted myths and misconceptions stand in a way of sober, scientific understanding of modern nuclear technologies, which are distinguished by unprecedented safety. Myths breed fear, and as long as this fear persists, a truly all-encompassing spread of nuclear technologies is impossible. The paramount role in debunking myths about nuclear belongs to the people – members of numerous organizations and movements,” he said
One of the discussants, Princess Mthombeni, founder of Africa4Nuclear a civil society organization based in South Africa but with operations in a number of countries including Zambia, said then involvement of young people the champion the cause of nuclear development is critical.
Ms Mthombeni said the future of nuclear energy in Africa is no longer an option but that it is the main factor just like it is in most developing countries.
“All developed countries have nuclear energy projects. In France for instance, over 70 percent of energy comes from nuclear. The [famous tourism attraction] Eiffel Tower in Paris is powered by nuclear energy,” she said.
According to her, young people should be encouraged to venture into nuclear science to guarantee a future of a knowledgeable population to sort out the energy malaise the world is faced with.
Other nuclear energy activists who participated in then panel discussion included Ignacio Martín Villarroya, from Jovenes por el Clima, an organization based in Argentine Republic
Ignacio leads Jovenes por el Clima, a youth-led climate movement in where he advocates for a just energy transition where workers and countries of the Global South are not left behind.
Ignacio takes an active stance locally and internationally as he leads the local government’s Youth and Climate Commission and promotes youth green energy employment.
In 2021, Ignacio was chosen as anArgentinian Delegate for the United Nations’ PreCOP26 Youth Summit known as ‘Youth4Climate: Youth Driving Ambition’ in Milan, Italy.
The other panelist was Geni Rina Sunaryo, from Indonesia, a leader for Woman Nuclear Development, Indonesia Nuclear Society, Senior Researcher on Research Center for Nuclear Reactor Technology (PRTRN).
Ms Geni has studied Analytical Chemistry and got PhD from Nuclear Engineering, University of Tokyo, Japan. She has gained thirty-six years’ experience on nuclear reactor safety and technology research, Indonesia Nuclear Agency.
She started as a researcher for Indonesia’s future Nuclear Power Plant since twenty-seven years ago, but more intensely doing promotion related to NPPs since becoming a leader of Woman in Nuclear — under the umbrella of Indonesia Nuclear Society. Hence, she is having valuable experience on leading a NPP design team named Experimental Power Reactor, when she has been a director on Center for Nuclear Reactor Technology and Safety.
Others were Tatiana Yanichkina, Russian Federation Director General of Energy of the Future.
Ms Tatiana leads Energy of the Future, a non-for-profit organization which runs information centres in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and organizes various public education programmes on nuclear in the countries implementing nuclear technologies.
Completing the panel was Asmaa Hanafi Moursi, Arab Republic of Egypt Nuclear Engineer and Researcher in Alexandria University, Founder of Green Society Initiative in Egypt Nuclear Engineer, researcher at Alexandria University, nuclear and radiation engineering department, environmental and climate activist, founder of Green Society initiative.
Ms Asmaa has specialized in nuclear power plants and professional certificate of business administration.
As a climate, environmental advocacy, Ms Asmaa founded Green society grassroots initiative in 2016, the first environmental/climate /nuclear artistic platform in Alexandria, Egypt to raise environmental and sustainability awareness to fight climate change crisis and move to clean, green and nuclear energy.