Experts highlight need to leverage nuclear energy for improving lives

A panel at the Atom Expo 2019 in Sochi. Eugène Kwibuka.

Experts gathering in Russian southern city of Sochi for the on-going XI International Forum on nuclear energy have urged world leaders to tap into the potential of nuclear technology to transform lives.

About 3600 delegates from 74 countries across the world are attending the two-day forum, dubbed XI International Forum and Atomexpo 2019.

Organised by Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), it aims to create awareness around the world on how nuclear technology can be used to improve lives.

Delegates during a break at the Atom Expo 2019 in Sochi

The Director General of ROSATOM, Alexey Likhachev, told delegates at the official opening of the forum that nuclear energy should be used to achieve the world’s sustainable development goals.

He emphasised that each area of human activity is affected by the achievements of nuclear industry.

“Peaceful atom is associated with all aims and goals of UN sustainable development programme. This forum will become a platform for discussing newest technologies that will lay the basis for the future of our planet,” he said.

One of the exhibition stand at the Atom Expo 2019 in Sochi

Nuclear energy, also known as atomic energy, comes from splitting atoms in a reactor to heat water into steam, turn a turbine and generate electricity.

Given that reactors in nuclear power plants use uranium, the technology doesn’t produce dangerous carbon emissions such as those produced by fossil fuels such as coal power plants, experts say.

“Nuclear generation can work for years with less dependence on raw materials and fuel,” Likhachev said.

The Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission, Kamlesh Nilkanth Vyas, also agreed that nuclear is a clean source of energy.

India has 22 nuclear power stations that are in operation today and the country has embarked on building ten more nuclear power stations to increase its nuclear power capacity.

The Indian official said that India is using nuclear technology in different areas, including in medicine to treat cancer, agriculture to preserve agriculture produce, and in electricity generation.

“When it comes to clean energy, there is no replacement to nuclear energy,” he said.

He explained that though there is still fear to use the technology due to its deadly effects when poorly handled or in case of accidents, that reluctance to adopt it needs to stop.

“When it comes to nuclear energy, there is fear for the unknown. Fear for radiation is the biggest challenge. But the gains from the use of technology make it easy for people to see the benefits,” he said.

India has recently been exporting a lot of mangoes free of germs to foreign markets thanks to the use of nuclear technology to kill the germs, the Indian official told delegates.

Participants at the two-day Atomexpo 2019 include senior government representatives, major companies and public organisations, as well as international experts.

They will discuss global issues in the development of carbon-free energy with nuclear energy in focus, describing it as an environmentally friendly technology.

Among the key topics under discussion at the forum include non-energy application of nuclear and radiation technologies in industry, science, medicine and agriculture.

Digital solutions for infrastructure projects, knowledge management, and the development of human capital assets in the area of nuclear technology will also be discussed.

A number of documents are expected to be signed on the side-lines of the forum, including agreements on strategic cooperation and partnership, commercial contracts, and documents on the development of nuclear energy projects.

Rwanda, which last year signed with Russia a cooperation agreement on the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, is represented at the on-going forum.

The Rwandan government is represented by Robert Nyamvumba, Energy Division Manager at the Ministry of Infrastructure, as well as officials from the Rwandan embassy in Moscow, Russia.