Rosatom took part in the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, 6-18 November 2022. For the first time in the convention’s history, the conference center featured a separate pavilion for nuclear energy. The pavilion’s events were covered on social media under the hashtag #atoms4climate. Over the course of the convention, Rosatom representatives participated in numerous bilateral discussions with representatives of countries from the Middle East and Africa on the role that nuclear energy and nuclear technologies can play in helping governments and regions overcome environmental challenges.
Rosatom’s COP27 program’s main event occurred on Energy Day, November 15. At the Rosatom-organised side event “Nuclear energy contribution to the prosperity of Africa,” representatives from nuclear energy organizations in Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa discussed nuclear energy’s contribution to solving sustainable development challenges in African countries. The event was attended by Rosatom’s First Deputy Director General for Development and International Business Kirill Komarov, Board Chairman of Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plant Authority Dr. Amged El-Wakeel, Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission Yusuf Aminu Ahmed, Director of Renewable and Nuclear Energy at Ghana’s Ministry of Energy Robert Sogbadji, and Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa Managing Director Knox Msebenzi, and moderated by a well-known promoter of nuclear energy in Africa and founder of Africa4Nuclear (South Africa), Princess Mthombeni.
Princess Mthombeni noted that African countries should learn from the experience of developed countries using nuclear energy to facilitate an efficient green transition and solve energy security issues. Robert Sogbadji, Director of Renewable and Nuclear Energy at Ghana’s Ministry of Energy, stressed that energy security is key to ensuring Ghana’s sustainable development and the growth of its industrial potential. “Although hydropower makes up about 20% of our energy portfolio, by 2030 [Ghana] may face gas shortages and increased dependence on gas imports, which can be affected by price fluctuations. It is, therefore, also important for us to have a source of nuclear generation. The roadmap for developing nuclear energy suggests that the share of nuclear energy in the country’s energy balance will reach about 50% by 2070.”
In addition to discussing applied solutions that the nuclear industry can offer for developing African countries, participants also discussed the challenges that prevent these solutions from being implemented. Board Chairman of Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plant Authority (NPPA), Dr. Amged El-Wakeel, noted that from the perspective of the Egyptian nuclear power program, key challenges were necessary infrastructure development, comprehensive legal and regulatory framework, and human resource development. “Integrating different cultures within a workforce is striving towards a common objective. In this regard, many of our engineers, managers, and key personnel have been committing themselves to studying the Russian language. The same can be said about most of the Russian personnel for Arabic. Therefore, I have been pleased to see the mutual respect demonstrated amongst the Russian and Egyptian personnel involved in the El-Dabaa project,” he added.
Rosatom’s First Deputy Director General for Development and International Business, Kirill Komarov, noted that limitations also hinder the development of the nuclear industry in national sustainable development agendas. “ESG-requirements for confirming the “green” qualification of nuclear energy, such as safety of NPP operating, stability of fuel solution, security of waste management, are usually fixed in the Taxonomies, and we understand that we can’t ignore it if we want to be a part of the future energy mix. Rosatom has a certain experience confirming these requirements. With Russian banks, we have already attracted green financing for our projects, like Akkuyu NPP in Turkey. And we are happy to share our knowledge with our partners and customers.”
A video message from Rosatom’s Director General Alexey Likhachev was played at a session of the nuclear pavilion #atoms4climate on energy supply and overcoming energy shortages in African countries.
The Egyptian Nuclear Power Authority (NPPA) organized a round-table discussion at the Egyptian pavilion on the El Dabaa NPP project’s role in developing clean and sustainable energy sources in Egypt. This session was attended by the heads of key nuclear organizations in Egypt and the wider region, as well as by the Director General of the World Nuclear Association (WNA) Sama Bilbao y Leon and Rosatom’s Kirill Komarov. When asked about El-Dabaa NPP’s contribution to the UN’s 17 SDGs, Komarov noted the significant environmental benefits of the project’s implementation, including projected annual reductions in carbon dioxide emissions of 15 million tonnes, as well as the development of human capital through the creation of thousands of highly skilled jobs in the nuclear industry and related sectors and the dynamic development of construction industry infrastructure in the entire region. He also emphasized that the project would facilitate the nuclear industry’s further development in African countries through the creation of an industrial cluster in Egypt with localized production equipment and highly qualified personnel with experience in building and managing nuclear power plants.
On November 15, in the framework of COP27, the Russian Federation also held an official event dedicated to Russia’s approaches to climate change. Speaking at the event, Kirill Komarov discussed nuclear energy’s contribution to the low-carbon development of Russia’s economy. “Today, Russia ranks fourth in the world in terms of installed NPP capacity. That is, Russian plants make a significant contribution to reducing the effects of climate change. This contribution is all the more significant if we consider the collective effect of all Russian-designed nuclear power plants operating in 13 countries. Thanks to our plants, there is a global reduction in annual CO2 emissions of about 200 million tons. This is about a sixth of the total contribution of all the plants in the world,” he said.
The session also explored the prospects for developing small modular nuclear reactors, which significantly expand the possibility of using nuclear energy in sparsely populated, island, or remote regions. The work of Russian nuclear scientists in this domain is helping make nuclear energy more accessible. “In 2020, Rosatom commissioned the world’s first floating nuclear power plant, Akademik Lomonosov, which provides electricity to the isolated region of Chukotka and supplies heat to Pevek. In addition, we are building modernized floating power units to develop the world’s largest gold and copper reserves in the Baimsky ore zone. In September 2021, we started working on a small land-based nuclear power plant in Yakutia designed to power the development of the Kyuchus gold deposit,” said Komarov.
On November 10, representatives from Rosatom Corporate Academy and members of Impact Team 2050, a youth advisory council under the auspices of Rosatom’s Director General, participated in Youth and Future Generations Day events taking place at the “Youth and Children” and “SDG7” pavilions. “Today, we are witnessing a transformation in the image of nuclear energy for the benefit of the younger generation, in a reality where other sources of energy cannot provide sufficient rates of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Joyce Mendez, co-founder of the Energy Geopolitics Laboratory, an Impact Team 2050 member from Brazil.
The events explored young people’s contribution to building a balanced energy future following the UN’s climate goals by 2050 and the role of education in informing a new generation of climate-responsible people. The key events of the day were the launch of the Youth Energy Transition Commission with the participation of the Government of Panama, the International Energy Agency (IEA), and the Enel Group Fund, as well as the presentation of the BRICS Youth Energy Forecast by the BRICS Youth Energy Agency. According to the forecast, over 70% of young respondents from developing countries believe that using nuclear energy is the key to solving the problem of climate change.
In addition to its business program, Rosatom held a thematic exposition, “Russia’s innovative approaches to adapting to climate change and mitigating its consequences,” at Russia’s booth from November 16 to 17, 2022. The exhibition showcased the nuclear and non-nuclear sustainable solutions Rosatom proposes to its clients in Russia and abroad to improve quality of life and environmental and social stability.
Polina Lion, Rosatom’s Chief Sustainability Officer, noted at the end of COP27: “The networking turned out to be even more intense than last year in Glasgow. People were inclined to exchange experiences, and there were many representatives of countries across the African continent, which is currently the most energy-deficient. This engagement contributed to the quality and content of the discussions.”
For reference: The UN Climate Change Conference is the world’s largest climate forum and the highest negotiation table on questions related to the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol (KP), and the Paris Agreement (PS). Rosatom has been operating based on a sustainable development agenda for many years now, and sustainable values are ingrained in its long-term strategy. In 2020, the company adopted its Unified Sectoral Policy for Sustainable Development. In October 2020, Rosatom joined the UN Global Compact, the largest international corporate social responsibility and sustainable development initiative for businesses. Rosatom is the largest producer of low-carbon electricity in Russia, providing about 20% of the total electricity produced in the country. Impact Team 2050 is an international youth advisory council under the auspices of Rosatom’s Director General. The team consists of young innovators and youth movement leaders from 12 countries who, in partnership with Rosatom, are implementing a program to transform the world based on sustainable development principles. In 2022, the council will recommend developing an international education and knowledge ecosystem to benefit younger generations.