UPDATE 3-Sarkozy seeks funding, training for nuclear energy

Mon Mar 8, 2010 3:06pm GMT

Quotes

   

* Sarkozy says development banks must fund nuclear industry

* Demands better training, secure fuel supply, CO2 credits

* Barroso says nuclear part of solutions for energy security

(Adds criticism for anti-nuclear lobby, IEA comment)

By Marie Maitre and Crispian Balmer

PARIS, March 8 (Reuters) - International development banks must finance civilian nuclear projects to help emerging nations build energy plants, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday, laying out ambitious plans to develop the industry.

France is one of the world's largest users of nuclear energy, generating 80 percent of its power consumption from a network of 58 nuclear reactors, and is actively seeking to sell its nuclear technology to countries around the world.

"It is a scandal that international organisations today do not finance nuclear projects," Sarkozy told a conference on nuclear energy attended by dozens of countries.

Sarkozy said the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other such bodies should make a "wholehearted commitment" to fund civilian nuclear programmes.

"The current situation means that countries are condemned to rely on more costly energy that causes greater pollution."

The nuclear option is now part of a mix of power sources states need to develop to ensure their energy security, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the conference.

"The gas crisis in 2009, the economic crisis and the climate alert have changed the situation," Barroso said.

The head of the International Energy Agency, Nobuo Tanaka, told the gathering that 17 new nuclear reactors were needed every year on top of alternative energy projects, to meet growing global energy demand as the world's population climbs.

But anti-nuclear bodies condemned the renewed push to develop nuclear energy, a cornerstone of Sarkozy's export drive.

"It is scandalous that France is continuing to promote nuclear energy," said Sortir du Nucleaire (Get out of Nuclear) in an emailed statement.

CO2 FRIENDLY

In an effort to make nuclear energy more attractive to potential buyers, Sarkozy said he also wanted a change in international laws to allow nuclear producers to benefit from carbon credits that are currently denied to the industry.

"I propose that CO2 credits be used to finance all forms of decarbonised energy under the new global architecture after 2013," he told the audience of nuclear experts gathered at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Some 56 nuclear reactors are under construction around the world and the United Nations says that over the next 20 years more than 20 states, including emerging economies, could put into service their first reactor for civilian energy.

It also estimates that some 60 countries are considering nuclear programmes, including Israel, which was expected to announce in Paris that it was officially looking into the possibility of building an atomic power plant. [ID:nLDE6271E0]

Among the measures needed to promote the development of the industry, Sarkozy said he wanted to see better training and steps to secure the supply of nuclear fuel.

He proposed creating an International Nuclear Energy Institute in France. "It will bring together the best teachers and researchers to provide very high quality education."

He also put forward a plan to set up a fuel bank under the authority of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, which would step in when fuel supplies were interrupted.

Only countries that respected non-proliferation treaties would be able to benefit from such international infrastructure.

"One cannot ask for civil nuclear energy cooperation, with the long-term partnership and responsibility that it entails, and then renege on international obligations," he said, in a clear reference to Iran, which is locked in conflict with the West over its nuclear programme. (Editing by Noah Barkin)