Nuclear seen featuring alongside renewables in future energy mix

28th July 2017 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

During the yearly atomic energy forum – Atomexpo 2017 – which was held in Moscow last month, a roundtable discussion featuring several energy experts agreed that a sustainable future power generation mix would almost certainly use an increased amount of nuclear energy in conjunction with renewable-energy sources.

The discussion, titled ‘Nuclear energy: the energy of the future or the relic of the past?’, was attended by prominent experts in the energy sector from more than ten countries and included Russian and foreign scientists, as well as public officials.

Keynote speakers included Science Council for Global Initiatives (SCGI) president Tom Blees (moderator), Rosatom Overseas president Evgeny Pakermanov, International Atomic Energy Agency deputy director- general Mikhail Chudakov, Czech Republic Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Lenka Kovačovská, Ghana Deputy Energy Minister William Aidoo, Argentina Department of Energy and Mining nuclear policy director Facundo Deluchi and Brazil State department for nuclear power Eletronuclear CEO Bruno Campos Barretto.

Blees noted there was growing demand for wind- and solar-derived energy in the current and future energy mix globally. He added that nuclear energy also had an increasing role to play, in conjunction with renewable energy. Following Blees’s comments, several other speakers confirmed that solar and wind energy were becoming increasingly popular, while Chudokov highlighted that power generation from renewable energy was feasible only if such technologies were reinforced with a baseload generation capacity that was not at the mercy of the weather.

Pakermanov, of international order book promoter Rusatom Overseas (a division of Russian State-owned atomic corporation Rosatom), meanwhile noted that accelerating the development of renewable-energy technologies meant changes to the global energy sector were imminent. He added, however, that nuclear energy, together with forms of renewable energy, would become the foundation for low-carbon power-producing economies.

Advisory services firm McKinsey & Company senior partner Stepan Solzhenitsyn highlighted that countries depending on one form of energy employed outdated energy operating models, explaining that, going forward, countries needed to diversify their energy mix, combining different sources of energy generation if such countries aimed to sustain a stable and secure global energy balance.

Further, clean energy company Fortum nuclear research and development head Kristiina Söderholm stated that nuclear energy was fast progressing. She also highlighted the benefits of small nuclear reactors, which could be constructed quicker and more cheaply than large reactors, and were also easier to upgrade.

A significant number of small reactors were in operation globally, said Söderholm, adding that this provides a good testament to their capability and reliability.

Dylan Slater attended Atomexpo 2017 as a guest of Rosatom.