By Myrna M.Velasco
ABU DHABI, UAE – From the standpoint of safety as well as operations, the wave of digitalization swamping the global energy sector is seen as key to reinforcing the overall performance of nuclear power as a major component in achieving decarbonization of the global energy sector.
In a study unveiled by the World Energy Council (WEC) on nuclear energy growth scenarios, it was stipulated that “looking into the future, digitalization has the potential to improve the nuclear industry’s performance and supporting it to allow better informed decisions on new build and lifetime extension.”
The WEC, is an organization of global energy markets, emphasized that “the pace of learning curve across the nuclear sector can be increased through international cooperation on harmonization of regulatory processes,” such as “allowing reactor designs to be deployed globally with minimal design alternations.”
In his address at the 24th WEC Congress before delegation of more than 150 countries with over 400 global energy CEOs in attendance, United Arab Emirates Minister of Energy and Industry Suhail Mohammed Al Mazrouei indicated that as his own country reflects on its energy future – it ponders upon a platform shift that shall be leaning on cleaner energy solutions such as renewable energy and nuclear.
“Our UAE Energy Strategy is calling for 50-percent contribution from clean forms of energy which would include renewable energy and nuclear,” he said; while asserting that “you don’t see so often a country that is responsible for supplying oil and gas to the world taking such bold strategy.”
Mazrouei further stressed “we will continue our efforts as a reliable supplier of hydrocarbon to the world, but our leadership would want us to do it in a way that protects the environment – and a way where we – together with our national oil company and the rest of the stakeholders, reduce our carbon footprint by 70 percent in the year 2050. So that’s quite a commitment that we would like to share with the rest of the world.”
On the nuclear investment space, the WEC study propounded that this technology option could traverse three different pathways.
Under a “modern jazz scenario,” experts at the WEC exhibited that nuclear could latch onto a “digitally disrupted, innovative and globally market driven world.” On that premise, it was explained that “the nuclear industry has the potential to reinvent itself – from selling units to providing services – and to remain as energy source of choice as some of the existing nuclear countries and emerging economies expand their nuclear fleets.”
The nuclear option, pundits pointed out, could likewise take “the unfinished symphony pathway” wherein “more coordinated and sustainable economic growth models emerge with a global aspiration to a low carbon future. Within that particular scenario, it has been emphasized that nuclear energy is “widely accepted as part of a reliable and affordable response to the climate change emergency.”
The other pathway envisioned for nuclear is the “hard rock” route, in which the main focus areas are “new construction in emerging markets and lifetime extension initiatives in developed economies.”
Like many of the countries in the world, the Philippines is also sorting out its nuclear resurgence ambition – but it cannot firmly decide yet if it will repower its mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) or will just refocus attention on new builds.