TR: What about proliferation dangers?
AL: The “problem” countries are all specific cases, calling for a rigorous, watchful, multilateral approach. As part of that, discussions are underway to set up a system of procurement guarantees for countries willing to refrain from developing certain fuel cycles. We have to be realistic – we are not going to be able to deny Turkey or Indonesia or Venezuela access to civil nuclear energy.
TR: And the waste question?
AL: Parliamentary and scientific committees in France have confirmed beyond doubt that we can reduce waste toxicity by a factor of about ten and volume by a factor up to five. It’s a sustainable solution. Moreover, such treatment allows recycling of up to 96 percent of the fissionable material. A lot of the controversy about nuclear waste would end if these facts were better known and acknowledged.
TR: In 2050 will we still be building water-cooled reactors?
AL: Water reactors are a proven technology. Over the next few decades, fuel costs, waste issues and other factors may encourage the greater efficiency of “fast neutron” reactors. We may also the see new markets emerge for high-temperature or very high-temperature reactors, designed for the chemical industry and hydrogen production.
TR: What are the chances that some new technology could turn the whole energy question upside down – nuclear fusion, for example?
AL: All the fundamental concepts and theoretical knowledge about energy took tremendous jumps forward at the beginning of the 20th century. The problem is not a lack of energy! The challenge is to provide it to everybody, everywhere, under economical and environmentally acceptable conditions. Fossil fuels, renewables, nuclear fission and fusion – they’ll all continue to progress, but none of them will turn the energy question upside down.