Session 1: The Global Future of the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy
Global Energy Forum
David V. Scott,
Advisor to the Chairman, Executive Affairs Authority,
Keynote Speech By:
President and CEO,
Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO)
Mohamed Al Hammadi,
Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation
H.E. Jan Mládek,
Minister of Industry and Trade,
Founder, Chairman, and CEO,
Daniel B. Poneman,
President and CEO,
Senior Advisor to the President and CEO,
Location: Al Maryah Ballroom, Four Seasons, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Time: 4:00 p.m. Local
Date: Thursday, January 12, 2017
Superior Transcriptions LLC
Location: Al Maryah Ballroom, Four Seasons, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Time: 3:00 p.m. Local
Date: Thursday, January 12, 2017
Superior Transcriptions LLC www.superiortranscriptions.com
ANNOUNCER: Please welcome Advisor to the Chairman of Executive Affairs Authority in Abu Dhabi David F. (sic; V.) Scott. (Music.)
DAVID V. SCOTT: Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to welcome you to this next session of the Atlantic Council’s inaugural conference here in Abu Dhabi on global energy. And the discussion of today’s topic – this topic is the future of peaceful global nuclear energy. We have, to be completely honest, the rock stars of the nuclear energy industry here with us today, and we’re going to hear from them shortly.
So, nuclear energy, an interesting statistic. The same – a kilogram of nuclear energy has approximately two to three million times as much energy as a kilogram of oil or coal. Tremendous potential from that source of energy.
And, of course, it is a very controversial source of energy. Sometimes, when we hear somebody talking about a very angry response, they’ll say someone is “going nuclear,” or people will talk about the “nuclear option.” So there are some negative connotations with this energy, and yet it is an important part of the energy mix.
And so here to talk to us about that today, we have a panelist and a keynote speaker. Addressing us first as a keynote speaker will be Dr. Cho Hwan-Eik, who is the CEO of Korea Electric Power Corporation. Dr. Cho was also previously a vice minister of commerce, industry and energy in Korea, and also is a chair at Hanyang University, and holds a Ph.D. in business administration.
Following Dr. Cho’s comments, we’ll be joined by a panel that includes His Excellency Minister Jan Mládek, who is the minister of industry, trade, and a member of the Chamber of Deputies of the parliament of the Czech Republic. Minister Jan also has had previous ministerial portfolios as deputy minister in the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Finance, and previously as the minister of agriculture.
We also have with us today Dr. Kun-mo Chung, who is the senior advisor to the president and CEO of Korea Electric Power Corporation. Dr. Chung was a previous minister of science and technology two times in Korea. He was also formerly the president of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations and the vice chairman of the World Energy Council. He is also a member of the International Advisory Board for the UAE nuclear energy program.
We also have with us Ms. Anne Lauvergeon. Ms. Anne Lauvergeon is the chair and CEO of ALP S.A., a French advisory and services company. She’s more famous in the nuclear sector as having been the longtime CEO of AREVA, where she garnered the nickname “Atomic Anne.” (Chuckles.) Some people have talked about that as her affiliation to AREVA, but I know it’s because of her tremendous energy and drive.
Finally, we also have Dr. Daniel Poneman, our Mr. Daniel Poneman, who is the chief executive of Centrus Energy. Prior to that, he served as the deputy secretary of energy in the United States, and held numerous positions in the U.S. government related to nonproliferation and nuclear policy. Dr. Poneman received a A.B. and J.D. degree from Harvard University.
And finally, we’re joined by Mr. Mohamed Al Hammadi. His Excellency Mr. Hammadi is the chief executive officer of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation. He spoke to us earlier today, and I don’t think requires further introduction to that.
So, with that, I would like to invite Dr. Cho to please come up and share his remarks. Thank you. (Applause.)
CHO HWAN-EIK: Good afternoon, excellencies and ladies and gentlemen. I am Hwan-Eik Cho, CEO of Korea Electric Power Corporation, which is the counterpart of ENEC in the Barakah project. I’m very pleased to make a keynote address at this special Forum, which I believe will give deep insight into the world energy industry in this rapidly transitioning period.
Before start, I also should express my sincere condolences to the family of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack in Afghanistan on January 10th, including diplomats of the UAE and especially the cousin of my friend, Mr. Hammadi, CEO of ENEC. I strongly condemn such terrorist violence, which take innocent lives and caused uncured pain for their loved ones.
Now let me begin my speech on nuclear energy by stressing that nonproliferation regime based on NPT and IAEA safeguard system is the cornerstone of global peace and security, and preconditions for peaceful nuclear energy. Moreover, such belief should be shared by all countries that use nuclear energy.
As many of you know, Korea has the fifth-largest generation capacity of nuclear energy, with 25 reactors. It is Korea’s strong determination that nuclear energy should be used for peace and prosperity of the civilization of mankind, and that nuclear energy should be strictly monitored by international regulation systems in this regard.
Nuclear power generation is to elevate the level of industry, and thereby develop more sophisticated and high-tech industries. In fact, without efficient, affordable and stable source of electric power coming from nuclear power generation, it is not easy to have precision high-tech industry. This is why Korea is considered to have one of the strongest industrial competitiveness in the – in fields of high-tech industry such as semiconductors, electric consumer goods, and mobile.
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century, the world’s population has grown seven times, with the increase of production and energy consumption by 100 times and 42 times, respectively. However, this has led to the increase of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere by 40 percent during that period. Also, the average temperature has increased by 0.85 degrees Celsius, while the sea level has risen by 19 centimeters. As we all know, already this level of climate change already caused a lot of injustice to human beings in many areas of the world. As such, climate change has become a common challenge of our time for these generations.
In December 2015, 195 countries around the world signed a new climate change agreement in Paris and countries started to make efforts to limit the global temperature rise 2 degrees Celsius by 2030 over pre-industrial levels. In fact, about 80 percent of countries participating in the Paris Agreement already ratified the agreement in their parliaments. The Korean government also announced its commitment to the world that it will reduce the level of greenhouse gas by 37 percent until 2030.
With close cooperation with the government, KEPCO has been actively advancing not only conventional carbon-reducing technologies such as CCS – carbon capture and storage; USC, ultra -supercritical; and coal-to-gas, but also new energy-saving industry including renewables, ESS, electric vehicle charging, microgrid, smart factory, home energy management system, smart city, and so on. However, at this point I’d like to emphasize that we cannot afford to make a mistake, to underestimate the fact that nuclear energy is indispensable to answer for climate change and the sustainable development of civilizations.
Now we are entering the era of so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution based on IOT, AI, VR, AR, cloud and big data, drones and robots. For the successful use of such technology, very stable supply of electric power is essential. And it is nuclear energy that enables stable supply of electricity to respond to such demand. This is why the value of nuclear energy should be reevaluated and recognized.
At the same time, in order to safely operate and manage nuclear energy, highly developed security technology is also required. New technologies such as VR, IOT and AI allow nuclear energy to be operate more safely. In other words, nuclear energy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution have an indispensable and mutually complementary relationship. The success of Fourth Revolution – Fourth Industrial Revolution depends on the stable supply of electric power through nuclear energy. Why? The safety of – safety of nuclear energy relies on the success of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
At the U.N. Development Summit held in the U.N. Headquarters in New York, 2015, Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs – were adopted by 193 countries. As you know, sustainable development is not possible without sustainable energy supply. However, 1.2 billion people around the world still do not have access to electric power. Thus, the former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Sustainable Energy for All – SE4ALL – initiative. It aims to ensure universal access to energy and preserve the environment.
Fossil fuel is not the right answer at this moment to protect the environment of the world. Renewable energy can be and should be a right answer to cure such a problem. However, renewable energy still has a long way to go until it becomes a stable and main energy source. So I believe that nuclear energy can play a critical role in providing general access to electric power at this stage.
Moreover, Korea is on the front – on the forefront of an effort to expand peaceful nuclear energy. In order to share the benefits of nuclear energy with the broader international community, Korea has continuously contributed to the Peaceful Use Initiative – PUI – project, along with the IAEA. We are also promoting cooperation through various channels, such as Coordinated Research Projects, CRP; and IAEA Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy, PACT; and program to establish education infrastructure. Korea is also making great efforts to develop not only research and commercial reactors, but also innovative nuclear technologies including parallel processing; SFR, sodium-cooled fast reactors; and VHTRs, very-high-temperature reactors. As such, we are creating added values by expanding the use of peaceful nuclear energy.
Six years have passed since the Fukushima nuclear accident. Following the accident, some European countries like Germany and Switzerland have canceled or substantially scaled down their policies to expand or introduce nuclear power plant. However, not a few countries have belief nuclear power plants are necessary and inevitable, and resumed construction based on much-strength safety regulations. And they are cautiously looking for the potential of new NPP project.
The international community took Fukushima accident as a moment to be reminded of the importance of nuclear safety and to reaffirm that nuclear safety is the most essential element for sustainable development of nuclear energy. Since Fukushima accident, the Korean government and businesses have carried out the most strict safety assessment and fully implemented 56 additional measures to highly enhance the safety of our nuclear power plants, to the extent that they are considered even excessively safe.
The Barakah nuclear power plant of the UAE have also reflected such strengthened safety measures in their design and construction. So I have great faith in that they can meet the world’s highest standard of safety and be the – be the world’s most efficient nuclear power plant.
Panelists and distinguished participants, today I have spoken about my views and my country’s activities on nuclear nonproliferation, response to change in the energy environment, the opportunities of nuclear energy, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the expansion of peaceful nuclear energy and nuclear safety. But the most important message that I want to leave is this: our belief in peaceful nuclear energy and compliance with related regulation will lead to the prosperity and growth of nations, as well as riches and happiness of individuals.
Lastly, as Abu Dhabi prepares for the next 100 years of the UAE through nuclear cooperation with Korea, I hope more countries around the world can prepare for their future through peaceful use of nuclear energy. I also expect that this nuclear session will hold fruitful and constructive discussions. Also, I hope that whole Abu Dhabi Forum will create very productive and successful result.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. SCOTT: Thank you, sir. Thank you, Dr. Cho, for your comments.
Now, as we transition to a panel discussion, I want to make a few reminders. Panelists should remember that this session is on the record. I would also like to remind the audience that they can tweet using hashtag #ACEnergyForum during the session.
And so we’re going to dive right into some questions, and maybe I’ll start with a first question directed to you. Today, giving a little context, we have low natural gas prices in the United States; some nuclear plants have closed there because of economic reasons. In Europe, Germany, other countries have made a decision to move away from nuclear energy. And yet, we have this problem, as Dr. Cho mentioned: global energy poverty. In that context, what is the future of nuclear energy? And what role does it have as we hear about the advent of renewables and others?
ANNE LAUVERGEON: What questions. (Chuckles.) What a question.
Thank you very much, David.
And good afternoon to all of you. It’s always a pleasure to be in the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum.
I think that it is very difficult to speak about the energy mix for the future because we are experiencing now revolutionary times. We are – maybe it’s a little bit like, as it was mentioned, during the Industrial Revolution – the first Industrial Revolution. We are now in the third, I think, energy revolution – the first one that was with coal and the use of steel; the second one that was oil and electricity. And now it’s clear that we are under strong constraints, first to deliver energy for the maximum of people on a growing number of people on the planet, less CO2 emissions. And we have also to consider the use of space and, as I think you are going to speak about us – to us, about nonproliferation. So a lot of constraints.
So to describe – to describe the energy mix for the future, it’s very difficult. Of course, you have a lot of experts giving scenarios. And I think that the International Energy Agency has made a fantastic job one year ago about different scenario, and the scenario with two degrees more on the planet is not with the current 11 percent of nuclear energy but 18 percent of nuclear energy.
But I think that if we want to have a real development of nuclear energy for the future, it means, first, safety. So safety, it means safety in the design of the new nuclear and existing nuclear; safety in the organization of the different players, utilities but also suppliers; good level of safety authorities, appropriate regulations; also in the culture of habits of people. And I think that safety has to be an obsession. So safety is a prerequisite, and I think that we must have for the future international standards.
The second motto for me is public acceptance. And of course, after Fukushima, it’s a special difficulty. And look at the situation in Japan. They have the maturity of their nuclear plants; they didn’t restart. So public acceptance is also the second motto, and I think that public acceptance means a real dialogue, a real respect of the different communities and different people. You don’t choose your opponents, you have your opponents. You have to accept that. And you have to accept the fears, the passions. So it’s highly political, I think, and of course it has to be made globally and country by country and region by region.
And, third, I think that it is innovation. Innovation is also absolutely mandatory for the future of nuclear. We have started 60 years ago in a way of, OK, we are going to build nuclear plants onsite with common designs. I think the future – it’s my vision; maybe I’m wrong – but my vision is to have more and more modular reactors built like airplanes, in factories, and installed afterwards onsite. And it’s absolutely key because profitability/competitiveness is also key for the future.
And I think the future of nuclear industry is somewhere a lot in the anxiety stage of the different governments, of the decisions made like, for instance, here in Abu Dhabi about new nuclear. It was a decision made by the – by the government, but also it depends upon the capacity of the different players to be, at the same time, very reliable but at the same time very innovative, which is not easy with the safety authorities loving to (fix things ?) and loving to rely on proven technologies, proven things, and so on. So it’s a – it’s a little bit paradoxical, but that’s the situation where we are in my view.
MR. SCOTT: Well, let’s follow up, if you don’t mind, on that theme of nuclear industry being in the hands of governments to some extent. And, Your Excellency Minister Mládek, I’d like to hear: What’s the view from the Czech Republic about the future of nuclear energy?
MINISTER JAN MLÁDEK: Good afternoon. I would like to thank Atlantic Council to have possibility to discuss this challenging topic.
I am representing a country that is in nuclear energy 55 years. We have started as Czechoslovakia in ’60s. We are running now four nuclear reactors in the – in the Czech Republic, and we would like to build new ones because we are seeing it as only way how to realistically fulfill this target of carbonless economy in 2100, because without that it’s impossible.
What are the challenges we are facing at this moment? Paradoxically, it’s not so much either Chernobyl or Fukushima directly, but indirectly. Why not directly? Because, for the Czech population, Chernobyl was explained by normal Soviet disorder, what is not our problem. Japan was explained that we are better off because we don’t have earthquake and we don’t have tsunami, so no problem. But it’s a(n) indirect problem because in Germany they are thinking otherwise.
In Germany, they have decided already nearly 10 years before Fukushima to go out of the nuclear energy. But in that time, for many years, industry was not serious about it. They believed that it’s a wave of public discontent and they will overcome it, and they will continue in development of the nuclear sites. However, then came Fukushima. Immediately after Fukushima came a political backlash, and in Baden-Württemberg the Green Party was the winner of the election. They had first prime minister of one state of Germany. And Mrs. Merkel decided to turn around the policy of leading party and decided to join the forces which are anti-nuclear, and now it’s serious. Germany is deadly serious to close nuclear power stations. They are – they are closing them, and it’s not making our situation very easy inside the EU to promote nuclear and development of the nuclear energy.
Czech Republic, together with other two Visegrad countries – Slovakia and Hungary – are proponents of using nuclear in the – in Europe. We are organizing the yearly conference about development of nuclear sites in Europe.
I must say that another negative story on this side came because of Brexit, because U.K. was another big supporter of development of the nuclear energy. They are planning to build Hinkley Point C. There is precedent how to provide the guarantees for the building of this nuclear site through contract for difference. Unfortunately, that was not yet discussed here. Britain is now inside the EU something like a lame duck because they are one leg in, one leg out. And it’s – such a country is not having such a say in solving the issues of the future of European Union if they should be out in a maximum two years’ – two years’ time. So it’s making situation more difficult.
What is the biggest problem inside the Czech Republic? Inside Czech Republic is financing or guarantee for financing, because the problem of the company which would build nuclear sites is they are not sure whether they will be able to finance, to cover all costs of the nuclear blocks. Because in Europe, basically the policy is like this: If you are going renewable, you can subsidize heavily; and if you are trying to develop the standard source of electricity, you are not allowed – you are – it’s like state aid, public aid, and basically it’s not – it’s not open.
So the way would be this British example, the contract for difference, which is basically telling that either we will collect the money for financing nuclear plant from the consumers or the government pay the difference. That’s why “contract for difference.”
However, Czech government refuse it in – the same type of contract in April 2014. Why is that? Because we have horrible and painful experience with subsidizing photovoltaic electricity. We had such a bad scheme that – which was finished in 2010 – that we are now paying $2 billion subsidies for renewables yearly, and it’s very painful both for taxpayers and consumers for the electricity. Our problem, it’s paradoxical because for Czech population the nuclear is completely acceptable. We have 70 percent approval rate for running nuclear power stations, but the same people do not vote to provide any guarantees for building nuclear because they are afraid of repetition of the same story what happened with the (black ?) panels.
MR. SCOTT: So interesting insights. The departure of the U.K. from the EU weakens the coalition in favor of nuclear energy. And same story everywhere: people would like to have it, but people don’t want to necessarily pay for it.
I know that we’re building in Korea and the UAE, so I’m going to bypass those two panelists for just a moment and turn to Dan Poneman. Dan, Centrus is in the business of providing fuel services for nuclear power plants. Many of your customers around the world, but also in the United States, the U.S., the nuclear industry is facing some challenges. How do you see the future of the nuclear industry there?
DANIEL B. PONEMAN: In the – in the United States, Dave, it’s a mixed picture. And I’m very happy that we are building for the first time in 30 years. We are building the first commercial plants. The first one in this century actually went online last year at Watts Bar. And we have representation here from the Southern Company, which is building the Vogtle power plants. And the eyes of the world are on these reactors, and this is a tremendous win.
At the same time, one of the famous CEOs in our industry – John Rowe of Exelon – many years ago said: in a merchant market for nuclear to be competitive requires a $25 price on carbon and $8 price of gas, of which we have zero out of two at the moment. And therefore, in a merchant market, it is still very, very challenging. And in fact, that’s why it is in the regulated markets that you see these units being built, in South Carolina and in Georgia.
Now, when we have the results of Paris and you have people around the world seeing that we’re going to actually need to probably double overall, globally speaking, the fleet of nuclear power, that does induce greater interest in the United States as well. But we have to do better at the United States in leveling the playing field among the different competing energy sources now. To me, you have to look at minimizing carbon. And if we permit the continuation of a war between renewables and nuclear, we’re going to have a problem meeting those targets.
And that’s why I was very interested to hear His Excellency Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei this morning talking about the need for balance. And the 50/50, I think, this brand-new vision, is a very positive way to come at this thing, to recognize we’re of course going to continue to rely on fossil fuels for many years yet to come, especially in the transportation sector, but we need to double down on the nuclear.
And what that means is, where you have nuclear plants under challenge – which we’ve now had in successive occasions in the state of New York and the state of Illinois – you can do things that level the playing field in terms of providing credits in the absence of a price on carbon that will substitute for that kind of situation. You have now had a Democratic governor in the state of New York and a Republican governor in the state of Illinois support decisions which have led four nuclear power stations to be kept open which otherwise would close. So not only do we need to be building new reactors, Dave, but we need to be keeping the existing fleet alive.
And just to put some perspective on this, those reactors in Illinois – the Quad Cities reactor and Clinton reactors – those provide 25,000 gigawatts – gigawatt-hours per year of clean energy. And if you take all the new build – and you heard the great statistics, and I’m a big fan of renewables – of the new build in wind and solar in that same state in the year 2015, it was 659 gigawatt-hours. So nuclear provides carbon-free electricity at a ratio in that instance of 40-to-1.
So if we are indeed serious about the things that the UAE has been such a leader on, then we’ve got to be serious about making all carbon-free forms of energy competitive. And in the absence of a universal price on carbon, I think some of those additional factors – where the reliability of nuclear is rewarded, where the always-on reliable provision of power no matter what the weather is – when the gas lines freeze, when the coal piles freeze, nuclear keeps on humming along. So those are the kinds of things we’re looking at in the United States. And maybe to help you pivot, we’re also very much looking at UAE because the successful operation of the Barakah project is something that actually gives a lot of hope to us in the United States as to a future path that we might also pursue.
MR. SCOTT: Excellent. Thank you very much.
So, moving away from locations where nuclear is facing challenges, there are two countries represented here – Korea and the UAE. Both are building – actively building plants, and at quite a rapid scale. I’d like to ask you to reflect some of the rationale that’s behind the national decision to embrace nuclear energy and to continue to build when the rest of the world is challenged to come to the same decision. Maybe we’ll start, if it’s OK, to give the guest the first opportunity to respond. Dr. Chung, we’ll ask you to respond first, and then we’ll ask our colleague His Excellency Mr. Hammadi to respond.
KUN-MO CHUNG: Thank you, David.
I would like to point out that 60 years ago – 1957 – we formed International Atomic Energy Forum – no, Agency, IAEA. And at that time, our country was one of the poorest countries in the world, but our leadership saw the future and set up the vision for the future based on brainpowers, brain resources. So, since our country did not have enough natural resources, our president said in the future we have to rely on cultivation of brain resources. That’s how our nuclear activities started.
Now, since then, we saw the development of Korea. Now, you heard about Han River Miracle, and that’s economic achievement. And then we say the people power, we gained free democracy through our people’s desire. And now almost everybody in the world knows Korean wave. So this kind of achievement is based on the vision on brain resources.
Now, I remember the exciting years of this early development because we saw nuclear power should be based on education and science technology development. And the result is that now Korea has become a donor nation sharing the hope with other emerging and least developed nations. This is a remarkable sort of example for world development.
I really appreciate our cooperation with the UAE because Korea was the first exporting nation among emerging nations and the UAE first new entry in the nuclear power generation. And the Barakah project showed how well we can execute that complicated project.
Now, our president, Cho, mentioned about force industrial revolution. Now, nuclear energy power plant can and has been already incorporating the basic element of force industrial revolution utilizing all IT technologies and also big data manipulation, and also we can have real-time communication among 25 power reactors operating in Korea. The reference plant for Barakah units, the Shin-Kori 1, is successfully operating since December. So that is our first successfully operating Generation III-plus nuclear power plant. And we are looking forward in the future, and we want to work together with many nations so that we can provide the supply for increasing electricity of this world.
Now, in order to do that, we are not only maintaining current technical development, but also futuristic technological development. In France, in Cadarache, Korean engineers are now building a fusion experimental facility, and I am so happy for such international cooperation. And also, two months ago, we started a new research center called ATOM – Autonomous, Transportable, On-Demand Reactor – so that we can operate automatically utmost safely power reactors in any distributed load centers, too. So I hope we can work together all over the world and provide the electricity supply to not only developed nations but also developing nation.
That does not exclude United States because are now conducting the NRC design certificate very successfully. And as of today we do expect to have the review done on time and in 2018 so that we can work together even in the United States.
MR. SCOTT: Thank you very much, Dr. Chung.
Mr. Hammadi, could you talk to us about the rationale behind, you know, the decision to grow nuclear energy and develop a nuclear program here in the UAE?
MOHAMED AL HAMMADI: Thank you, Dave.
First of all, you know, the last person to speak on the panel is always challenging, so I’ll try my best to bring the energy level up. First of all, I was –
MR. SCOTT: There are more questions to come, don’t worry. (Chuckles.)
MR. AL HAMMADI: Thank you, Dave.
So I will take this at, you know, two tiers. Tier one, which was His Excellency Minister Suhail spoke about this morning, is the, you know, vision of the UAE in 2015, you know. That’s a very long way, you know, to plan for such energy diversity. And the main purpose of that vision – and, you know, I thank him for his foresight and vision – is to create the right dynamics of diversified portfolios of energy. You know, what this energy policy means is that all energies are welcomed as long as they can, you know, compete with a strategic, you know, angle. And I would like to take now the second tier, nuclear, and show you and explain to you a multidimensional – why nuclear fits in this kind of, you know, strategy and vision.
In 2007, they conducted – the government conducted a very detailed analysis of the sources of energy. And at that analysis we came to the conclusion that, you know, we need to continue burning gas to make electricity, that we need renewable, we need nuclear, and we need also to look for other sources of energy. So at that time Masdar was launched as the vehicle responsible to make the renewable energy project, and everybody’s aware of Masdar now. And nuclear energy was being evaluated because it is a source of energy that is safe, reliable and clean and been operating for decade – for the past decades.
So from then, you know, we went through a detailed analysis, and the decision was made to select nuclear energy to complement the diversification of the energy source. So it’s – as I said, it’s clean. It is, you know, safe, reliable, and the last bit of it, which is also secure, because it gives you a best load of energy that – available 24/7, not intermittent; that’s a baseload – to give you a very robust, you know, reliable source of energy.
Another thing also, you know, with the current available technologies, you refuel every 18 months. Means you don’t need any external fuel to come. You don’t need any, you know, like kind of gas supplies or ship supplies for coal or whatever. It’s very secure. It gives you that level of security from production point of view, that’s technically speaking, and also, from a logistics point of view, a security of supply by having, you know, the fuel supplied for 18 months. So these are the multidimensional, you know, benefits of nuclear.
And I would like to comment just on – you know, don’t want to take the time long, but to comment on Dan Poneman’s point, you know, that if shale gas compete or merchant market or aggregated market, what I think personally, you know, when you have an intelligent, diversified, smart portfolios of energies, that’s always the right way to go. So that smart portfolio need to be regulated, but not “the quickest win” kind of a, you know, race. If you want to run a marathon – that’s what all energy is about – you cannot come for the two, three miles and you stop, then you look for alternative energy sources when you want to run again. That is not sustainable. That’s not a foresighted, you know, approach.
I will touch also Don Poneman’s – sorry, on Dr. Kun-mo. We have to think of innovation. We have to think about scientific and human capital development. We have to think of long term when we embark on energy solutions because nuclear run for 60 years.
MR. SCOTT: Thank you very much.
So our session is rapidly heading toward its end. I’d like to give the opportunity to the audience, if there are questions in the audience, there are individuals with microphones who will come to you. So if we can take two or three questions to close up the session, if we have any from the – from the audience at all.
We have a particularly nervous audience. Do we have a question? There we are. There we are. Please, sir.
Q: Thank you, panel, for your presentations.
I’d like to ask, why is nuclear energy acceptable in France and not acceptable across the border in Germany and Italy?
MR. SCOTT: So I think that’s a question for our European colleagues. I’ll defer to you.
Q: That’s my first question.
MR. SCOTT: (Chuckles.) All right, let’s let them answer that question, then we’ll see where we go from there.
MS. LAUVERGEON: You know, it’s very – it’s easy to say that it is accepted in France or acceptable in France and not accepted – you know, not acceptable in Germany. Of course, in France you have also a lot of activists against nuclear energy.
I think that maybe the difference between France and Germany – that’s my own interpretation – comes from the first oil crisis. At that time all the developed – all the developed countries have decided in average to develop use of nuclear energy at a level of 20 percent in average of the energy needs. In France, we have decided – and it was a long-term decision throughout the different governments during more than 30, 40 years – to have an energy mix with electricity needs of 80 percent or 75 percent. Why?
I think people – first oil crisis, we are ‘73. It’s not so long after, you know, the war in Algeria, all, you know, the crisis against oil and gas with Algeria. And I think that the reaction in France was really, really strong with a kind of consensus at the eye level that’s clear, in the elite, to have more domestic sources of electricity. So this consensus has last 50 years.
MR. SCOTT: So I’m anxious to let His Excellency, the minister, also weigh in on this question.
MR. MLÁDEK: I have small comment, as I’m neither from France or Germany. I would see small difference. In France, peaceful use of nuclear energy was a bit of by-product of Charles De Gaulle development of the nukes, and hence the country was investing in both sides of the nuclear, while in Germany there was – they had never nuclear warheads, and there was strong opposition, peaceful movement, green movement. And the end of the story, I have said, they have reached first time that we will – we will close nuclear power stations, you know, something like 2001. And then when it was nearly undone, suddenly came Fukushima, and once again. So I would see a difference over there.
MR. SCOTT: Dan, you look like you’re anxious to offer something on this topic. (Chuckles.)
MS. LAUVERGEON: I am not – I’m – I don’t agree totally because frankly speaking, in France –
MR. SCOTT: It wouldn’t be a nuclear panel if we didn’t have some controversy, so I appreciate you guys adding that final element.
MS. LAUVERGEON: The decision to develop military use of nuclear, that was before any civilian use. So the decisions were, you know, not exactly aligned. But – OK.
MR. PONEMAN: I’ll add one paragraph. My undergraduate thesis in 1978 was on why the French civil nuclear program succeeded where Germany failed. And I decided at that time it was because of Napoleon.
MR. SCOTT: (Chuckles.)
MR. PONEMAN: And here’s why. The Napoleonic Code centralized power in the president and acted through the prefectures, whereas in Germany, the occupying powers imposed a basic law which divided among the Lander a lot of distributed political power and added a constitutional court to avoid the accretion of power. So when Anne is right in the sense of it was – it was Pompidou, tout nucleaire decision in ’74, that decided to go 80 percent. But the fact that they were able to execute it – whereas in a place like Japan, a court with no jurisdiction can stop a reactor. That did not happen in France. And in Germany, everyone canceled each other out. That was my sophomoric undergraduate conclusion.
MR. SCOTT: So – well, that’s quite an interesting idea. I’ve heard it said more once that – and I apologize, we’re running out of time for the – for the session, but I’ve heard it said more than once that you need very strong executive decision-making in order to make a nuclear program successful.
We’ve heard some interesting points today. Mr. Poneman shared with us a view that, you know, you just can’t – as they say in the – in New England, in the United States, you just can’t get there from here if you don’t have nuclear energy in terms of our carbon targets. We heard two optimistic statements from Korea and the UAE about the future of nuclear energy, the way it fits in the smart portfolio. And we heard the challenges that we face in Europe but also the opportunities that exist for peaceful coexistence of these different kinds of energy together.
I think with that I’d like to thank our panelists and ask the audience to please give them a round of applause. I apologize for the shortness of time, but we’ve ended this session’s time. Thank you. (Applause.)