Friday, August 08, 2014

U.S. Nuclear Technology Exports and Africa

The following is a guest post by Ted Jones, Director of International Supplier Relations for NEI.

From August 4-6, heads of state from Africa came to Washington for the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Obama. Yesterday, NEI hosted a delegation of African leaders from Niger, Namibia and South Africa to discuss nuclear energy development in their countries. As Africa strives to develop new sources of abundant, clean electricity, nuclear energy holds great promise.

President Mahamadou Issoufo of Niger and Ambassador Maman Sidikou.
Africa’s Power Gap

According to the World Bank. The 48 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, with a combined population of 800 million, generate roughly the same amount of power as Spain, with a population of only 45 million. Per capita power consumption – just a tenth of what is common elsewhere in the developing world – is actually falling due to lagging development and population growth.

Africa cannot close its power gap with fossil generation without inflicting great harm to the health of its people and environment. Nuclear energy has one of the lowest impacts on the environment of any energy source because it does not emit air pollution, isolates its waste from the environment and requires a relatively small amount of land.

What the U.S. Nuclear Energy Sector Has to Offer

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy, Daniel Poneman
The United States has much to offer its African partners in nuclear energy development – and more than any other country. More than 60 percent of the world’s 436 operating reactors are based on U.S. technology. Many of the 71 nuclear plants under construction around the world rely on U.S. companies for reactor designs, engineering, precision components, high-performance nuclear fuel and more. So, adoption of U.S. technology in Africa makes terrific sense. There are numerous advantages in deploying U.S. reactor technology and in employing US companies to implement nuclear power development programs:

  • Advanced reactor designs: U.S. companies are at the forefront of developing advanced reactor designs that are even safer and more efficient than our existing fleet of world-class reactors, incorporating modular techniques for easier construction. New designs include large reactors such as the GE Hitachi ABWR, the only Generation III reactor in operation; the Westinghouse AP1000, a Generation III+ design now under construction in the United States and China; and the GE Hitachi ESBWR, another Generation III+ design. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy is funding through public-private partnerships two U.S. companies to bring small, modular designs into operation by 2022.
  • Services, fuel and components: With a U.S. fleet average capacity factor of approximately 90 percent, U.S. firms lead the world in operational expertise. U.S. companies excel in the full range of nuclear services, including engineering and construction, nuclear fuel services and more. Services for uranium conversion, enrichment and fabrication are available, and substantial new, advanced enrichment capacity is in various stages of technological development and deployment.
  • Excellence in nuclear safety: Based on more than 50 years of experience, the U.S. nuclear industry continues to perform as one of the safest industrial working environments in the world. The U.S. supply chain leads the world in safety-conscious workforce training, operational excellence, and continuous improvement. Regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – the gold standard for nuclear regulators around the world – U.S. suppliers are known for process excellence, human performance and safety culture. 
Of critical importance for Africa, the U.S. nuclear industry has a proven record in industrial partnership. Around the world, U.S. nuclear companies have worked with partners on technology transfer, localization, education and training, to enable broad and enduring industrial development. As the nations of Africa contemplate a role for nuclear energy in their sustainable development, the United States is ready to be their best partner.

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