COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The United States is leading an initiative with several other governments to promote nuclear power and encourage investment in new nuclear technologies.
The initiative, launched on Thursday by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette with international partners, aims to “highlight the value of nuclear energy as a clean reliable energy source”.
The partners are Japan, Canada, Russia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Poland, Argentina and Romania.
The U.S. nuclear industry is battling competition particularly from natural gas, while many national governments want to reduce their dependency on the energy source after the nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima plant in 2011.
The group of nations aims to promote areas such as improved power system integration and the development of technologies like hybrid nuclear-renewable systems.
“Nuclear-renewable systems could link emission-free nuclear power plants with variable renewables like solar or wind farms and could allow nuclear power to backstop intermittent generation,” Brouillette said during the launch at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in Copenhagen.
CEM is a global forum of 24 countries and the European Union which together account for 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Brouillette said the initiative would also focus on the development of small modular reactors (SMR), which use existing or new nuclear technology scaled down to a fraction of the size of larger plants and would be able to produce around a tenth of the electricity created by large-scale projects.
Critics say SMR economies of scale will be limited because each reactor will need its own control and safety systems. They also point to the danger of spreading radioactive material more widely, increasing radiation and security risks.
The administration of President Donald Trump also launched an alliance with Norway and Saudi Arabia to boost public and private partnerships on carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS).
Earlier this month, Japan released a draft of an updated basic energy policy, leaving its ideal mix of power sources for 2030 in line with targets set three years ago, despite criticism that it placed too much emphasis on unpopular nuclear power.
Reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Edmund Blair and David Stamp