An urgent call has been made for governments to undertake rapid deployment of more nuclear technologies to enable the world to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Launched at the recent World Nuclear Symposium in London the ‘Net Zero Nuclear’ initiative has called for unprecedented global collaboration between leaders and industry.
The UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has already been announced as the inaugural ‘Net Zero Nuclear’ government partner.
Green energy source
Led by the World Nuclear Association (WNA) and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), with the support of the Atoms4NetZero program launched recently by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the ‘Net Zero Nuclear’ initiative called for nuclear to be identified as green energy source.
While Australia, the world’s leading supplier of uranium is lagging behind other countries in the switch to nuclear energy, globally nuclear has experienced a significant resurgence over the past two years, as nations rush to meet energy security and decarbonisation targets.
The global industry has benefited significantly from major policy announcements in different nations, including the UK, US, Canada, Japan, France and China, as well as growing inclusion in green financing mechanisms and a major uptick in private investment interest in nuclear energy technologies.
Can ensure global energy security
According to the WNA, recent data modelling tripling nuclear energy capacity by 2050 would require the worldwide rate of deployment to average 40 gigawatts per year (more than six times the rate of deployment over the past decade) will also ensuring global energy security.
IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said net zero nuclear will help promote the value of nuclear energy and remove barriers to its growth.
“As more nations understand the role nuclear can play in achieving energy security and decarbonisation targets, global support for nuclear energy is growing,” director general Grossi said.
“Analysts agree that globally we cannot achieve carbon neutrality without a rapid expansion of nuclear energy capacity.”
“We welcome the important objectives of Net Zero Nuclear launched by the nuclear industry, which is in line with the Atoms4NetZero initiative launched by the IAEA and we will continue to provide technical support and cooperation to countries with existing nuclear power programs and those considering embarking on them.”
Cannot be ignored
Dr Sama Bilbao y León, director general of the World Nuclear Association, said the world cannot afford to underestimate the role nuclear energy must play in achieving net zero.
“Our world is in the midst of an energy crisis, and we continue to experience unprecedented climate-change related weather extremes. The time for debating is over. Nuclear energy is a critical tool in securing future energy systems that are clean, resilient and secure. But scaling up nuclear energy capacity to at least three times its current size requires political will from energy leaders, along with mobilising quickly and efficiently the required financing.”
“We have no time to lose in delivering a realistic, proven approach to the clean energy transition. Through Net Zero Nuclear, we hope to facilitate the action our industry needs to grow.”
Key electricity delivery
ENEC’s managing director and chief executive officer Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammad said nuclear energy is a key source of providing electricity for the delivery of net zero.
“It is the only source of dispatchable, low-carbon, climate-resilient energy we have available that can reliably produce vast amounts of clean electricity, day and night. It brings energy security, resilience, diversity and sustainability to an energy system.
“Beyond the grid, nuclear’s potential to enable the decarbonisation of heavy industry and transport sectors through heat, steam and hydrogen should provide even greater impetus to ensure nuclear’s growth is strongly supported through sound policy, access to finance and unprecedented collaboration.”
Largest decarbonisation reduction in UAE history
He said the UAE example has proven that nuclear energy can be a modern-day climate solution – delivering a transformational shift in the carbon intensity of power supply. In just over a decade, nuclear energy is producing a quarter of the nation’s energy needs.
In the UAE where renewables have a major role to play in the energy mix, nuclear energy has delivered the largest decarbonisation of the nation’s history, with the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, which will generate 40 terawatts per hour (TWh) annually once fully operational while preventing the release of over 22 million tonnes of carbon emissions, being the largest single source of clean electricity in the country.
The UAE’s nuclear energy program is one of the most cost and time-efficient new nuclear builds in recent history.
UK’s nuclear revival
In announcing that the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero would be joining ‘Net Zero Nuclear’ as the inaugural government partner UK Minister for Nuclear and Networks Andrew Bowie, said a nuclear power revival has been launched in the UK, with projects like Hinkley and Sizewell C.
“This growth is being highlighted by Great British Nuclear supporting the latest cutting-edge technologies like small modular reactors. I am therefore proud that the UK is the first government partner in this new initiative, as a means of championing nuclear technologies both to boost global energy security and in achieving net zero – particularly as we look ahead to COP28.”