Alliance launched to highlight nuclear on world stage

24 May 2018

The USA, Canada and Japan today launched the Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future (NICE Future) initiative partnership at a side event to the 9th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark. The aim is to bring a discussion on innovation and advanced nuclear energy systems to the international meeting.

Participants at the launch of the NICE Future initiative (Image: King Lee/World Nuclear Association)

The initiative was launched by US Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Canadian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources Kim Rudd, and Japanese Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masaki Ogushi.

"The initiative will, for the first time, put the spotlight at CEM on nuclear energy in clean energy systems," a joint statement announcing its launch said. "The NICE Future initiative will address improved power system integration through innovative, integrated and advanced energy systems and applications, such as nuclear-renewable systems, combined uses of heat and power, hydrogen production and industrial decarbonisation. It will highlight the opportunities for nuclear energy technologies to reduce emissions and air pollution from power generation, industry and end-use sectors."

The NICE Future initiative aims to initiate discussion among CEM member countries on the role that nuclear energy can play in bolstering economic growth, energy security and access, and environmental stewardship. It will focus on innovative applications for advanced nuclear systems to enable coordinated and/or integrated clean energy systems of the future.

"Recognising that not all countries see nuclear energy as part of their national approach, there remains a need for exploration of the roles that clean, innovative and advanced nuclear technologies could play in simultaneously furthering economic growth and effective environmental stewardship," the executive summary of the initiative says. "For this dialogue to be successful, it must work across sectoral boundaries to develop integrated perspectives on the complementary roles that nuclear energy could play alongside all other forms of clean energy. This activity is unique in that it addresses nuclear energy holistically within the context of broader clean energy systems, as opposed to a singular focus on specific nuclear technologies and associated issues."

The initiative will focus on full-scale nuclear for baseload electricity as well as innovative, next-generation technologies and integrated renewable energy systems across four focus areas. These are: technology evaluations of innovative energy systems and uses; engagement of policy makers and stakeholders in future energy choices; valuation, market structure and ability to finance; and, communicating nuclear energy's role in clean, integrated energy systems.

The initiative has already been joined by Argentina, Poland, Romania, Russia, the UAE and the UK. More than a dozen countries have already expressed interest in joining it, as well as international organisations such as the International Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency.

Brouillette said, "I would like to acknowledge the countries and organisations that have joined the USA, Canada and Japan in the creation and launch of the NICE Future initiative." He added, "Having nuclear included at the Clean Energy Ministerial will create greater global recognition of its many unique benefits."

"Nuclear energy's vitally important but under-recognised contributions to clean air are made even greater by constant innovation," said US Energy Secretary Rick Perry. "The NICE Future initiative highlights these contributions by reimagining nuclear's advanced uses and applications. Nuclear provides a cleaner, safer, more reliable and more resilient energy supply for our world."

Rudd said, "Canada is excited to be a part of this initiative. Nuclear energy is already an important part of Canada's energy mix and innovative nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors, have a key role to play in the transition to a low-carbon economy. As a non-emitting source of energy, nuclear is, and will continue to be, an important part of our energy mix."

"I expect this initiative would bring the wisdom of the world on nuclear innovation together, and contribute to policy making for realising clean energy systems that solve challenges in each country," Ogushi said. "Our aim is to promote nuclear innovation utilising out-of-the-box ideas from the private sector, pursuing the development of reactors with new concepts, including harmonisation with renewable energy, combined with enhanced safety, efficiency and flexibility."

Attending the launch of the NICE Future initiative, World Nuclear Association Director General Agneta Rising said: "Countries will need to use nuclear energy alongside other forms of clean energy to deliver a sustainable energy mix that is affordable to all and that supports economic development." She added, "Nuclear energy is one of the most competitive low-carbon energy sources, but it needs a fair and stable energy framework to go forward. We should explore how to combine different clean technologies together."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News