Displaying 1-8 of 8 key documents
Source: UNEP | February 2012
This report presents important environmental events and developments of 2012, and provides an overview of the status of key environmental indicators. It highlights the benefits of carbon storage in soil and the decommissioning of nuclear power plants as issues of emerging significance, and aims to strengthen science policy in these areas.
According to UNEP's executive director, although these may seem like separate issues, they go to the heart of questions about ensuring enough food and fuel while combating climate change and handling hazardous waste.
The report points out that the draining of peatlands is producing carbon dioxide emissions that amount to around six per cent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions; and their degradation is occurring 20 times faster than peat is accumulated. It also suggests that the nuclear industry needs to develop safer, faster and cheaper decommissioning of nuclear power plants.
Source: New England Journal of Medicine
In this review article, published after the Fukushima accident, medical scientists examine published information on the short- and long-term health risks of exposure to ionising radiation. The article describes two previous nuclear accidents — at Three Mile Island in the USA, and Chernobyl in Ukraine — and explains the types and doses of radiation that can damage biological systems. It discusses the mechanisms behind exposure, and radiation-induced illness and injury, including long-term cancer risks. The authors also review measures that can be taken to reduce the effects of radiation exposure, including potassium iodide tablets used in the aftermath of Chernobyl. The article stresses that clear communication on radiation exposure levels and health risks is a key component of the response to a nuclear incident.
Source: Harvard University
This policy brief, from Harvard University, explores research and development (R&D), cost and performance issues that the nuclear power sector needs to consider if the industry is to meet the growing demand for carbon-free energy. Based on surveys it offers estimates of the costs and performance of this research, and potential benefits that could be gained over the next 20 years.
A key finding is that current levels of public investment in nuclear power technologies will not lead to a major reduction of the cost of nuclear plants by 2030. Instead, many of today’s R&D programmes are focused on capabilities such as extending uranium resources or improving waste management and safety. The authors acknowledge that the Fukushima accident has highlighted the need for better preparedness and has undermined confidence in nuclear energy. The report concludes that development of nuclear power should address issues aside from R&D such as getting public acceptance and support from governments.
Source: Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
This paper, published by the UK-based Institute of Development Studies, examines how disaster risks associated with climate change might impact electricity generation and energy planning — which is an emerging research and development agenda. The authors argue that energy researchers and policymakers have overlooked how changing disaster risks could affect electrical power production.
The report assesses the vulnerability of nuclear power as well as several other options for energy generation — including oil, natural gas, hydropower and bioenergy — and identifies the implications for energy policy and planning. It lists recommendations as to how policymakers could take into account the link between disaster risk management and low-carbon development to improve the capacity of developing countries to build resilience. Suggestions include completing environmental impact assessments when siting new power plants, establishing better links between energy, climate, and disaster policymakers, and planning climate change adaption strategies for electricity production.
Source: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
This report, published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), details a survey of all significant nuclear-related developments that took place in 2010 worldwide, and outlines how each of the developments has affected the work of the IAEA.
It provides updates on the status and trends in nuclear power, including plants that are under construction, and offers up-to-date details of global uranium resources, safety and emergency preparedness guidelines, and applications of nuclear technology in areas such as cancer treatment. Changes in nuclear law, proposals for nuclear waste management and the status of decommissioned sites are also discussed. The report concludes that countries, international organisations and civil society must work together and respond to future challenges collectively if nuclear energy is to benefit development.
This review article, published before the accident at Fukushima, discusses the immediate and long-term prospects of nuclear power development to meet future carbon-free energy needs. It explores opportunities and constraints of generating a nuclear power 'renaissance', and puts forward six possible options for building a sustainable nuclear energy industry.
The authors say that nuclear technology is at a crossroads, and if it is to move forward a two-stage strategy is needed. The first stage must involve developing or extending the life of the world’s existing nuclear plants over the next two years, to improve their efficiency and reliability. In the second stage, after 2030, the industry should look to build new nuclear power stations with large-scale fuel cycles that may include fuel reprocessing. They highlight measures that, if taken now, could make nuclear a viable energy option in the future.
Source: Worldwatch Institute
This report, from the US-based Worldwatch Institute, provides qualitative and quantitative information about nuclear power plants in operation; under construction; and those being planned worldwide. It also includes an overview of reactions to the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan.
The authors analyse the economic performance of past and present nuclear projects, and compare them with other leading renewable energy sources. A country by country rundown of nuclear power projects can be found in the annex of the report.
Key findings suggest that nuclear power can no longer keep pace with the development of other renewable power sources. The report states that the nuclear industry had been in decline even before the Fukushima disaster because not enough new reactors are becoming operational, while existing reactors are aging rapidly. The authors believe that the disaster at Fukushima is likely to accelerate this downward trend.
Source: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
This guide, published by the International Atomic Energy Agency, offers practical advice for policymakers, managers and advisers in countries that are setting up their first nuclear power plant, or those restarting an inactive nuclear programme. It provides information about the activities, responsibilities and desired attributes of those running nuclear plants, whether private companies or the state. It also describes the experience of countries that have built and operated nuclear power plants, and outlines how the owner and operator should interact with national authorities, nuclear and environmental regulatory bodies, the national grid, waste management, and emergency planning and response organisations. The report also provides examples of contracts that can be used in the process of setting up a power plant.