Recovery plans are an opportunity to invest in nuclear

09 July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic recovery has presented a window of opportunity for governments, according to a White Paper published today by World Nuclear Association. It says recovery plans that include investment in nuclear energy could not only boost economic growth and jobs, but also fulfil climate change commitments and build a clean and resilient energy system.

(Image: Ontario Power Generation)

The paper - titled Building a stronger tomorrow: Nuclear power in the post-pandemic world - says the global coronavirus pandemic has had profound impacts on societies around the world. "In many countries it has prompted reviews by governments of how best to build stronger, cleaner and more resilient societies. Whilst the pandemic has done great damage, with appropriate policy responses it may well provide a unique opportunity to build a genuinely sustainable world."

World Nuclear Association says nuclear energy can play a central role in post-COVID recovery efforts by boosting economic growth in the short-term, whilst also supporting, in a cost-effective manner, the development of a low-carbon, resilient and affordable electricity infrastructure. Investments into nuclear energy, it says, will also strengthen energy security, and can contribute to the production of heat and hydrogen to decarbonise other sectors of the economy.

"Nuclear projects attract valuable inward investment, driving sustained long-term local and national economic growth with, for instance, every euro spent on nuclear generating a further four euros in the broader economy," the report says. It notes there are 'shovel-ready' nuclear projects around the world - some 108 planned reactors with approval, funding or commitment in place - which, with the right support, can provide immediate employment and create long-term high-value jobs. In addition, further projects exist that would extend the operation of existing reactors. "Securing continued generation from the about 290 reactors which have been operating for more than 30 years is the cheapest way to generate low-carbon electricity," World Nuclear Association says.

"There is a window of opportunity for governments to invest in nuclear energy to address the immediate crisis caused by coronavirus, and to prevent future crises by dealing with bigger, chronic problems, such as climate change, air pollution and energy poverty," the White Paper says. "Investment in nuclear energy would therefore not only be socially responsible, but also help to future-proof economies and societies. Investment in nuclear energy brings multiple benefits and offers an opportunity to build a cleaner and more equitable future."

The Association calls on policymakers to consider nuclear and its socio-economic, environmental and public health benefits in any energy transition plan, and enact policies to ensure the realisation of the many benefits of nuclear energy. It also calls for acceleration in the implementation of the 108 reactors which are already planned by governments, and ensure the long-time operation of the 290 reactors which have been operational for 30+ years. It also says policymakers should unlock finance by providing the appropriate frameworks that will drive investment and provide better value for consumers.

"There are 'shovel-ready' nuclear projects which, with the right support, could provide immediate employment and create long-term high-value jobs," said Agneta Rising, director general of World Nuclear Association. "Further projects ensuring the long-term operation of existing nuclear reactors would benefit the economy and the environment. Securing continued generation from these reactors is the most cost-effective way to generate decarbonised electricity.

"These projects can all play a crucial role in the post-pandemic recovery, and each and every one will create considerable societal benefits, but to ensure these are realised we must put mechanisms in place to value nuclear's unique attributes."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News