Nuclear vs. Renewable Energy

4th July 2019 at “Sistema Jornal do Commercio” – Recife – Pernambuco

Recife/Rio de Janeiro/Bonn, 8 July 2019 (WWEA) – The World Wind Energy Association had invited for a public debate in Recife on the topic of the roles of renewable energy and nuclear power, in preparation of the 18th World Wind Energy Conference 2019 (WWEC2019) which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in November 2019. The pre-event has started the debate on the integration of available energy sources and how to optimise synergies. 


Experts from Brazil, Germany, Japan and Ukraine discussed the future energy supply system together with more than 200 participants in light of the climate crisis, environmental pollution and a strong increase in energy demand in countries like Brazil. There was broad consensus amongst all speakers and participants that wind and solar energy are today the cheapest energy sources, in particular in Brazil. This finding is also supported by recent international reports e.g. by the International Renewable Energy Agency. 


Speakers emphasised that Brazil is a world leader in several renewable technologies, in particular in hydropower and bioenergy, thus bringing the country in a pole position in the global race for global leadership in renewable technology and climate change mitigation. The crucial question will be how Brazil, being blessed with an abundance of renewable resources, can make best use of the technologies in its national energy mix. 


A controversial discussion arose about the potential role of nuclear power. International energy experts from Japan and Ukraine reported first hand from the experience with nuclear disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima and their devastating consequences, with hundreds of thousands of victims. While Andriy Konechenkov from Ukraine highlighted the new prospects for its country thanks to the new government’s focus on renewable energy, Tetsunari Iida referred also to the public opinion in Japan with today very low approval rates for nuclear power. 


The concept of baseload power was questioned  as obsolete in an energy system with a high share of variable energy sources such as wind and solar, which require complementary and flexible solutions, such as storage or renewable backup solutions, including hydropower or bioenergy. 


Experts agreed that nuclear power is today one of the costliest energy sources which also requires long planning periods and has seen delays of more than ten years in some European countries. 


Everaldo Feitosa, WWEC2019 Chairperson:

“The Northeast of Brazil with a population of 40 million of inhabitants will be the edge for the 100% renewable target. Today, the average wind contribution is approximately 50%,  but there are times when already 100 % of the regional power demand is met by wind alone. However, the old fashioned and inappropriate concept of “base load” using thermal or nuclear is still present in people’s mind. But as the cost of wind and solar are the lowest in the world, the hidden renewable revolution is winning this struggle. The WWEC2019 in Rio will accordingly be a very productive event in showing the international positive experiences and to introduce the target of 100% renewable energy in Brazil and the whole region.”


Stefan Gsänger, WWEA Secretary General:

“Brazil is blessed with renewable energy in all its forms, and has already a very high renewable share in many sectors making it easy to come to a 100% renewable energy supply which will represent the new normal around the world. However, the new paradigm of flexible generation will require new approaches, e.g. that the hydropower installations in Brazil add flexibility, at the same time making inflexible nuclear power an obsolete option. We look forward to discussing technical and socioeconomic solutions in detail during our forthcoming WWEC2019.” 


In preparation of the 18th World Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition (WWEC2019) taking place in Rio de Janeiro from 25-27 November this year, WWEA invites to join a public debate on the future energy system, with a special focus on renewables versus nuclear energy.

The event takes place in Recife on 4 July 2019, 33 years after of one of the most terrible nuclear accidents in the world – the explosion of the nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power plant on 26 April 1986. And in spite of the lessons learned from that disaster in the former Soviet Union, another terrible nuclear accident happened almost exactly 25 years later in Fukushima/Japan, on 11 March 2011.

During the past three decades, renewables including wind and solar have become a major pillar of the energy supply systems around the world, not only but also driven by the threat of climate change. Some have now started to look into nuclear power as another option of CO2 free energy supply, in spite of increasing concerns not only about safety aspects but also economics.

In order to discuss the case of renewables versus nuclear power, experts from Ukraine and Japan will be invited to discuss the case with important Brazilian experts, and also report about the experience from Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Preliminary Agenda

– Chernobyl  – Lessons from the Accident to the World

Dr. Andriy Konechenkov (Chairman of the Ukrainian WEA, WWEA Vice-President, Head of Press Centre of the International Organization “Chernobyl Union” in 1989-1993)

– Fukushima – the Future of Nuclear Intervention in Japan

Dr. IIDA Tetsunari (Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies Japan, Nuclear Engineer and specialist in research on nuclear politics)

– Wind and Nuclear Energy: Debates and worldwide examples

Mr. Stefan Gsänger (Secretary General of WWEA, Executive Committee Member Global100RE)

– History of the Wind Energy of the World and repercussions in Brazil

Everaldo Alencar Feitosa (Hon. Vice President of WWEA)

– Proposals for generation of Electric Power in Brazil for the next decade

Reive Barros (Secretary of Planning and Energy Development – Ministry of Mines and Energy)

– Economic aspects related to Renewable Energy in Brazil

Professor Adriano Pires (President of Brazil’s Center for Infrastructure – UFRJ)

– Nuclear proposal for the Northeast of Brazil

Professor Carlos Mariz

– The costs of decarbonising: combining nuclear and renewable energy systems for the future

Leonan Guimarães – President of EletroNuclear