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Armenia, Poland, Turkey show potential for using nuclear and meeting climate change goals

Countries like Armenia, Poland and Turkey show significant potential for using nuclear energy to slash greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and meet climate change goals, according to national research conducted in a three-year project coordinated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Overall, the country teams’ research demonstrates that nuclear energy has significant potential to contribute to climate change mitigation, depending on national circumstances,” said Hal Turton, an IAEA energy economist and scientific officer for the CRP. “The research teams also noted that nuclear energy is well suited to powering economic growth, maintaining energy supply security by reducing import dependence, ensuring a reliable and flexible electricity system and supporting broader sustainable development objectives.”

In Armenia, the main sources of energy traditionally used are oil products, natural gas, nuclear energy, hydropower and coal. Hydropower, solar and a very small amount of brown coal are the only currently exploited domestic energy sources. One of the main directions for developing the Armenian energy sector is the establishment of an export-oriented power system integrated into the regional electricity market. Thus, it is planned to create a regional hub for trade in electricity and power generation capacity.

Armenia’s electricity generation structure in four scenarios. Source: IAEA.

To achieve this goal, the governmental plan for the long term development of the country’s energy system includes a number of projects in power generation, transmission, interconnection and distribution. At the same time, a key role is designated for developing nuclear energy. Among the assessed scenarios, only the nuclear scenario complies fully with Armenia’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Poland is among around 30 so-called nuclear newcomer countries that are embarking on or considering the introduction of nuclear power. In the light of the Paris Agreement, a structural change in the Polish energy sector will be unavoidable. In electricity production, this includes reducing coal-based generation and increasing the use of low carbon sources, despite the abundance of affordable domestic coal resources. The profitability of traditional energy sources based on fossil fuels will decrease compared to RESs and nuclear power. While RESs are thus expected to contribute to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, in many countries, including Poland, resistance to building NPPs is very high owing to historical reasons, political stereotypes, changes in consumer preferences and the lack of public awareness of nuclear energy and the consequences of GHG emissions.

Poland’s electricity generation in four scenarios. Source: IAEA.

Nevertheless, the inclusion of nuclear power in the Polish energy mix over the next two decades seems almost certain as nuclear plants will provide baseload power and replace electricity from coal.

Finally, the energy economy of Turkey is dominated by fossil fuels. The total primary energy supply in 2015 amounted to 129.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe), with coal (26.9 per cent), natural gas (30.7 per cent) and oil (30.4 per cent) having the largest shares. The main objectives of the current energy policy include increasing domestic resources, decreasing energy imports, diversifying supply sources, implementing oil and gas pipeline projects, increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy usage, decreasing fossil fuel consumption, improving competitiveness in electricity and natural gas markets, implementing natural gas storage projects and introducing nuclear energy.

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