Nuclear energy can play a meaningful role and act as a catalyst for industrial development in the developing world, said Scott Melbye, executive vice president of the Uranium Energy Corporation on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations climate conference in Dubai.
The topic of phasing out dependence on fossil fuels and finding renewable energy sources is high on the agenda at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which is taking place from November 30 to December 12, 2023.
A total of 22 countries signed a declaration at the conference on Saturday, pledging to triple their nuclear power capacity by 2050. The declaration recognizes the key role of nuclear energy in achieving global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the mid-point of this century.
While the idea of nuclear power does arouse certain fears among some sectors of society when compared to traditional energy sources, Melbye sought to dispel such concerns and vouch for its safety during an interview with the China Global Television Network (CGTN).
“There’s a lot of mis-perceptions about nuclear [energy] and nuclear safety. But if you look at the track record of nuclear power over the last 60 years, its safety record is about equal to that of wind and solar. So a lot of times, nuclear becomes more emotional in the opposition. But if we look at how many deaths, injuries from nuclear power, it’s a very small number. Also, with every generation of nuclear power plants, technology improves, safety improves. So that great safety record can even be safer,” he said.
Noting that nuclear energy is key to helping accelerate the transition towards green energy, Melbye also stressed it can play an important role in driving up the growth of developing countries.
He said that smaller-sized reactors can now be safely transported to more far-flung locations, solving power generation challenges across certain areas.
“Nuclear really can play a meaningful role in the developing world, in the Global South, perhaps with small modular, microreactors which aren’t as large, capital lift, maybe are suited for island nations, remote locations, on-grid, off-grid applications. So I think nuclear power clearly has a role in the developing world and I think it can really lift millions out of poverty, be the catalyst for industries that can (bring) added economic benefits,” Melbye said.