IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano highlighted the importance of nuclear science and technology —including nuclear power— in meeting development goals in his keynote address at the 2018 World Nuclear Exhibition event in Paris.
Nuclear power produces 11% of the world's electricity, but when it comes to low-carbon electricity, it generates almost one third of the global total
Nuclear power helps to address the twin challenges of ensuring reliable energy supplies and curbing greenhouse gas emissions, he added. "Today, nuclear power produces 11 percent of the world's electricity. But when it comes to low-carbon electricity, nuclear generates almost one third of the global total". Nuclear power reduces carbon dioxide emissions by about two gigatonnes per year, he said. "That is the equivalent of taking more than 400 million cars off the road – every year".
"In my opinion, it will be difficult for the world to meet the challenges of securing sufficient energy, and of limiting the average global temperature increase to 2 degrees centigrade, without making more use of nuclear power".
Renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power would play an increasingly important role in the future. "However, these are intermittent energy sources which cannot meet countries' needs on their own. That means more use of nuclear power will be needed," Amano added.
He said continuous improvement in reactor designs in the coming years could make nuclear power more cost-effective and help to alleviate public concerns on issues such as safety and waste disposal. Advanced water-cooled reactors with innovative safety measures as well as small modular reactors could play a key role in the replacement and expansion of the global nuclear fleet. Amano said it was essential that robust levels of nuclear safety consistent with IAEA safety standards should be in place at every nuclear power plant in the world. "In many countries, public acceptance remains the most important issue to be addressed when it comes to nuclear power. Enhanced safety helps to increase public confidence in nuclear power", he said.