Analysing Energy Options:New IAEA Publication to Help Member States Model Energy Systems for Nuclear Energy Planning

VIENNA, 12th April, 2016 (WAM) - A new IAEA publication, Modelling Nuclear Energy Systems with MESSAGE, aims to help Member States identify how nuclear energy can fit within a broader sustainable energy framework. The publication is a guide for engineers and economists to assess energy alternatives by using the modelling software MESSAGE to simulate the development of a comprehensive energy system.

"The guidebook is the first of its kind, providing detailed step-by-step information on how to use software to analyse economic, technical, and environmental factors in unison to assess nuclear technology alternatives for developing long-term energy programmes at the national or regional level," said Galina Fesenko, a nuclear engineer at the IAEA.

The software MESSAGE, which stands for Model for Energy Supply System Alternatives and their General Environmental Impacts, helps Member States map out a complete supply chain within the entire energy sector. Data and information on energy technologies and fuels are used to construct energy flows starting from all available resources – for example coal, oil, gas, nuclear and renewables – and leading up to final energy services such as electricity, heat and gasoline. The software allows users to simultaneously analyse a wide range of criteria such as costs, investment needs, supply security, resource utilization and rates for the introduction of new technologies for determining the best combination of options, which may include nuclear energy.

"After the Paris accord last year, IAEA Member States reassessing national or regional energy programmes need to consider the long-term realities of deep cuts needed in greenhouse gas emissions," said Ahmed Jalal, Head of Energy Planning and Capacity Building at the IAEA. "In this respect nuclear power can make a major contribution."

The guidebook is only one component of a broader toolkit for assessing nuclear energy systems, Jalal said.

"The modelling approaches described in this guidebook have been used now for some time in training courses for specifically assessing nuclear energy options within comprehensive energy planning, but this is the first time the information has been published in a single guide," he said.

Regional courses have trained experts in nuclear energy planning most recently in Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Romania. Later this month, a component of the training programme in Morocco will use the guide as one of the information tools for nuclear energy planning.