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.
These 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.
Speaking of environmental impact, it’s no secret that global warming is here, it’s real and it’s time we did something about it. 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 and 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.
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 that currently operate in Russia satisfy 33% 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.
Beyond power production nuclear technology offers vital solutions for healthcare and agriculture, mining and science. Globally childhood cancer cases are estimated at 250,000 annually and only 30 per cent of children with cancer in developing countries received treatment.
Over 100,000 deaths from childhood cancer worldwide could be prevented annually if all children had equal access to diagnosis and treatment. Today, about one-third of all procedures used in modern hospitals involve radiation or radioactivity.
These procedures are among the most effective life-saving tools available, they are safe, painless and in most cases do not require anaesthesia. They are helpful to a broad span of medical specialties beyond the treatment of cancer, from paediatrics to cardiology and even psychiatry.
Nuclear medicine will play a hugely important role in improving the standard living of millions of people across the planet. As all of us in this room can appreciate, nuclear energy is a critical solution to the social, economic, and environmental problems we, as a global community, are facing.
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions around our industry, these misconceptions not only frame public opinion but also limit the implementation of nuclear projects globally. It is these misconceptions that as a collective we should work together to dispel.
Non-governmental organisations and activists worldwide play a vital role in informing the public about the benefits of nuclear energy as well as dispelling the myths, with their active involvement, it is my hope that one day the nuclear industry will be celebrated for its grand achievement of bettering the lives of millions across the globe, rather than frowned upon for the simple reason of not being fully understood.
In this round-table discussion, we will meet activists from different countries and learn about their goals, as well as the tools they use to effect change. We will also touch on the question, of whether business and industry should play a more active role in supporting the efforts of the pro-nuclear movement.
Ryan Collyer is the Chief Executive Officer of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa