Nuclear Energy Summit 2024

Shaping the Future: Key Insights from the Nuclear Energy Summit 2024

The first Nuclear Energy Summit 2024 was held in Brussels, Belgium, recently.

Key Highlights:

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General and the Belgian Prime Minister co-chaired the Nuclear Energy Summit in 2024. 

  • Serious concerns have also been raised by the ongoing situation at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power station in Ukraine, the first nuclear site to be involved in a deadly military war.

  • The UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, brought attention to how crucial nuclear energy is to achieving climate goals.

  • The need to increase nuclear energy capacity by 2050 was emphasized in the proclamation signed by 22 world leaders. 

  • Need: As part of the multilateral strategy for decarbonization, the Nuclear Energy Summit is an initiative in cooperation with the IAEA's "Atoms4Netzero" program. 

Advantages of Nuclear Energy:

  • Minimal Carbon Footprint: Compared to solar farms or other renewable energy sources like wind, hydropower, and geothermal, nuclear power emits four times less carbon. 

  • Uninterrupted Energy Supply: Unlike wind or solar electricity, which are depending on the seasons or the passage of time, nuclear power is always available. 

  • Ease of Use: When compared to all other renewable energy sources, nuclear power plants (NPP) have lower operating costs, a smaller land footprint, and a longer life cycle.

Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy:

  • Nuclear Disaster: Radiation leakage from reactors can be lethal to people, because nuclear fission reactions are extremely radioactive. Examples are the Fukushima tragedy in 2011 and the Chernobyl radiation releases in 1986. 

  • Nuclear power plants require a significant amount of capital, and recent nuclear construction projects have had significant cost overruns. For instance, the V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina (USA) was shelved after more than US$ 9 billion in expenditures escalated.

  • Accessibility of Low-Cost Alternatives: Since solar and wind energy can provide electricity for about INR 2-4 per unit, they are affordable and practical alternatives. 

  • Waste Generation: Extremely radioactive waste is produced by nuclear power plants and needs to be stored for a long time with careful management. It produces highly toxic waste that is harmful for the environment. 

  • Nuclear energy is produced using materials that are finite. For instance, Uranium.

Nuclear Engery status of India:

  • India, which presently maintains 23 nuclear reactors in operation, acknowledges that nuclear energy plays a part in its decarbonization strategy.

  • Net Zero Emissions: At COP26 in Glasgow, India pledged to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2070.

  • Nuclear power growth is expected to become three times the present capacity by 2030 and account for a sizable portion of the electricity mix by 2047.

  • The oldest nuclear power station in Maharashtra, Tarapur Atomic Power Station provides energy at affordable prices.

  • The Tamil Nadu nuclear power station Kudankulam produces electricity at prices similar to those of coal-fired power plants.

India needs to consume at least 2,400 kilograms of oil equivalent (kgoe) of energy per capita annually to reach a Human Development Index level with developed nations. With anticipated increases in energy use efficiency, this amount could drop to about 1,400 kgoe. However, 25,000–30,000 terawatt-hours (TWh/yr) of renewable energy will be needed annually to support a developed India, which is more than four times the amount of energy currently consumed.

Advait IAS