Nuclear industry urged 'take advantage of window of opportunity'

08 September 2023

The current favourable attitude of many policymakers, much of the public, and the financial community means that the nuclear industry "needs to have the courage, be brave and believe in what we are doing" the closing session of World Nuclear Symposium 2023 was told.

Rumina Velshi, centre, with Thomas Branche and Tim Gitzel, right (Image: World Nuclear Association)

Cameco CEO and President Tim Gitzel said that the need to tackle climate change had provided tailwinds for nuclear in recent years, with energy security now also driving the positive setting for the nuclear industry, saying "we have a good product, the window is open and we have to deliver ... let's get going".

Rumina Velshi, President and CEO, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, said that continuing collaboration was key within the industry and between regulators. She said that scale and speed were needed, to match the sense of urgency people have about needing to tackle climate change.

Sophie MacFarlane-Smith, Head of Customer Engagement, Rolls-Royce SMR, said the "drive, not just for Net Zero, but also energy security is massive" but she warned there was still a cautiousness in government and so "we need to do what we say ... deliver on our promises, not over-promise", so government, other stakeholders and the public know that "nuclear can be trusted to deliver and nuclear can make a real contribution to the fight against climate change and energy security".

Thomas Branche, Executive Vice President, Assystem, said that things had moved on from five years ago when the wish would have been for a clear vision from governments. He said it was time to be "construction-oriented". He also highlighted that there were different issues and attitudes in different countries, but it was always important to get support from people living in the locality of proposed sites.

Architect Erick van Egeraat urged the nuclear industry to not see itself as a special case, saying that he had worked on many large-scale projects, and said it was the nature of them that they take a long time to deliver. He also noted that the aesthetics of a nuclear plant could help public acceptance.

Sama Bilbao y León paid tribute to the contribution Rumina Valshi had made in her regulatory role as well as her broader championing of a better gender balance (Image: World Nuclear Association)

The session was the final one of the two day gathering of more than 700 people from the global nuclear sector, where the discussion has covered issues ranging from financing new nuclear, to how the industry will be able to recruit and train enough staff for the proposed expansion of nuclear energy in the years ahead.

To close World Nuclear Symposium, World Nuclear Association Director General Sama Bilbao y León said "we have the recognition of the policymakers, we have the attention of the finance community - now we are ready to get our act together and deliver ... and make the most of the huge opportunity that we have".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News