Brookfield sees new dawn for nuclear

03 October 2022

There is no credible net-zero scenario in which nuclear does not grow its capacity from today, global asset management company Brookfield said in a newly released White Paper.

Westinghouse’s technology portfolio includes the AP1000 (Image: Westinghouse)

The worldwide drive to net zero is shining a spotlight on nuclear as a clean, safe and mature source of electricity generation, Brookfield says in its paper, A New Dawn for Nuclear Power. Nuclear is also gaining more support from policymakers and investors for its ability to promote energy security and energy independence. These trends are driving a global push to extend the lives and increase the capacity of existing plants, as well as build new reactors with state-of-the art designs and technologies, it notes.

The acceptance of nuclear energy as a key contributor to achieving net-zero targets is leading to a renewed focus on the development of new reactors as well as the likely extension of the operating lives of nuclear plants around the world. At the same time, the combination of increasing fossil fuel prices, geopolitical shifts and the desire for energy security and energy independence is also contributing to the renewed appeal of nuclear power, it says: "This echoes the 1970s oil crisis, following which 40% of today’s operating nuclear power plants were built."

The report also finds that nuclear plants - despite "considerable" up-front costs - today supply some of the cheapest electricity in the world, and notes that it is also one of the safest power generation technologies globally due to the nuclear industry's exceedingly high regulatory and safety standards. "Yet common misconceptions have caused many to overlook all that nuclear has to offer," it adds.

"We believe nuclear energy will grow in the coming decades because it provides access to clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy. And given the technology advances in nuclear reactors due in the coming years, nuclear power is back in the spotlight again."

"There's no transition that works without nuclear, full stop," Brookfield Vice Chair and Head of Transition Mark Carney said. The former governor of the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada was speaking at a Brookfield investor day reported by Bloomberg.

At the same event, Brookfield CEO chief executive Bruce Flatt said nuclear is the only alternative for nations that do not have natural gas resources or enough land for solar projects. "I think there's a paradigm shift, and the paradigm shift is energy security," he said.

Brookfield subsidiary Brookfield Business Partners (BBP) purchased Westinghouse Electric Company from Japan's Toshiba Corporation in 2018 as the company emerged from bankruptcy proceedings. In early 2021, BBP's CEO, Cyrus Madon, had said that the investment company might consider selling the company, although at that time he also underlined the "incredible" value of the US reactor vendor.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News