Today the reality of global energy poverty raises an uncomfortable paradox. How do we limit carbon emissions but provide adequate energy to everyone without fossil fuel? There is just no way around it despite what you might hear. Fossil fuels are still the greatest source of energy on the planet. Almost 90% of the energy used in developing countries is produced from coal-fired power plants, where they are the easiest to build due to their limited infrastructure. It’s not the best, it’s certainly not the cheapest, but it is the easiest.
Analysts see the use of fossil fuels doubling by 2040. Just look at China. Over the past 20 years they have lifted 600 million people out of poverty by constructing hundreds of coal-fired power plants. And in Africa, responsible for only 3% of the world’s carbon emissions, they are suffering a disproportionate amount of the negative effects: water stress, reduced food production, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and low economic growth.
How can we give these countries the energy they need without using coal? The world’s leading climate experts realize that our climate goals cannot be achieved without a significant boost in nuclear energy. The International Atomic Energy Agency believes the development of small modular reactors and advanced nuclear technologies could allow these countries to overcome their energy dilemma. This will require solutions to some significant challenges – initial cost, construction timelines, and weak institutions.
We must figure this out! Net-Zero and our global neighbors need Nuclear.