Topic: Feasibility of Nuclear Energy in Developing Countries
Electricity demand in developing countries is expected to surpass that of industrialized states by the year 2020. The growing demand for power requires states to explore different avenues to meet demand, with nuclear power being at the top of many lists. Nuclear energy’s low carbon footprint and the rising cost of fuel further add to the cause. As of 2017, 30 out of 69 nuclear power plants under construction were located in developing countries, primarily in Asia. The move to nuclear-based energy sources is accompanied with challenges, some of which are unique to developing states. As these countries transition to a nuclear-based power source, it is imperative that the required skills and the supporting infrastructure demands be met. The same applies to the legal and regulatory frameworks, which for some countries, will have to be drafted from scratch. High costs associated with nuclear development are another challenge associated with this energy drift.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) takes it as an utmost priority to assist the newcomers with establishing effective and safe nuclear energy programs. Though the feasibility of nuclear energy in the developing world has been repeatedly questioned, the IAEA strongly considers nuclear technology as not only every state’s sovereign right, but also an ecologically-friendly solution to the increasing demand for energy. Apart from energy, nuclear technology is at the forefront of many research studies, including health, natural resource management, and agriculture. Developing countries have the opportunity to harness this technology in sectors beyond energy. With increasing use of nuclear technology in developing countries, it is paramount that the IAEA ensure the safe and sustainable use of this resource.