The International Energy Agency describes energy security as “the uninterrupted physical availability at a price which is affordable, while respecting environment concerns.”
As the world become comparatively smaller with more people and fewer natural resources, the topic of energy security is more and more prominent. Providing energy from domestic and sustainable sources, such as nuclear energy and renewables, is a solution that should get more attention.
It is commonly recognized that renewables—like wind, solar, and biomass—derive their power from natural sources that are continuously available and a relatively certain resource.
As a source of energy that produces no emissions during generation, nuclear energy also has the ability to provide a critical domestic energy for the United States. Beyond this reliability for domestic production, the nuclear fuel recycling also supports the resource availability and security.
Recycling contributes to energy security because 96% of the content of the used fuel is reusable energy. AREVA’s recycling technology enables the recovery of valuable energy resources, providing for greater domestic energy security. In fact, if recycled, the 60,000 metric tons of U.S. commercial used nuclear fuel represents the energy equivalent of eight years of nuclear fuel supply for today’s entire U.S. nuclear reactor fleet. Further, the availability of recycled fuel provides a tool for the nuclear energy sector to protect against potential rises in uranium prices by providing recycled fuel whose production cost is independent of uranium prices.
This sentiment for long term viability was echoed at the recent Asian Nuclear Prospects 2010 Conference. The majority conclusion from the global panel of experts was that recycling used nuclear fuel “is vital for the sustainable growth of nuclear power.” Atomic Energy Commission member member M.R. Srinivasan said: ‘There is some sort of convergence of ideas on the closed fuel cycle amongst Asian countries, Russia, France and others. Asia and Europe can work on a common platform as there is no time available to look for new uranium sources.’