Viewpoint: Training a new generation of atomic ambassadors

26 April 2022

The challenge for the nuclear industry is to reach those influential policymakers and investors whose buy-in will be essential if nuclear is to succeed, writes Eric Meyer, the founder of Generation Atomic, which aims to "energise and empower today’s generations to advocate for a nuclear future".

"A few years ago I was having a conversation with a couple of friends (a co-founder of an advanced reactor company and an energy author) after an advanced nuclear event. We were observing the fact that even though nuclear power generates over a quarter of the world’s carbon-free electricity, it was virtually invisible at clean energy conferences, making up less than 1% of the attendees at these events.

Is it surprising that the nuclear sector largely lacks support from the finance, policy, and industrial community? It shouldn’t be. As the saying goes - if you're not at the table, you may be on the menu.

Don’t get me wrong: the nuclear industry knows how to throw a good conference. We are great at highlighting innovations in safety, waste management and advanced reactors, but too often we do so inside the "nuclear bubble" of our own events, never reaching those influential policymakers and investors whose buy-in will be essential if nuclear is to succeed.

We need to take our message beyond the doors of our conferences and the social media feeds of our followers, yet there didn’t appear to be a concerted effort to do so. Until now.

In the years since, we have strategically chosen high-impact clean energy events to sponsor and attend to shape the narrative and find new partners for the nuclear sector.

The growing presence of "Team Nuclear" at events like the Cleantech Forum, Clean Energy Ministerial, and the UN Climate Talks has opened up space for investors and policymakers to ask questions and explore the possibility of more nuclear energy in future energy mixes.

Despite this relatively ad hoc effort, we have already seen the conversation surrounding nuclear evolve considerably.

Where once it may have been taboo to even introduce the topic, now nuclear energy is seen as a necessity for deep decarbonisation and a dark horse for enabling the lowest cost hydrogen production. And now, with the help of a US Department of Energy-sponsored program called Gateway to Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN), we are scaling up that effort with the Building Bridges Program.

GAIN is supporting Generation Atomic, the nuclear advocacy NGO I founded in 2016, to run training workshops designed to give nuclear supporters the tools and confidence they need to become Atomic Ambassadors for the industry at clean energy conferences across the world.

The four-part training covers topics such as networking fundamentals, crafting your personal pitch, and responding to nuclear objections, to name but a few.

After completing the training, Atomic Ambassadors are invited to regular "Social Check-ins" where they can swap stories with other Ambassadors, make plans for future conferences, or further hone their skills with roleplay exercises.

More importantly, they become eligible for the Building Bridges Program, of which World Nuclear Association is a partner, to subsidise the cost of their conference registrations for approved events. After looking around and realising that there is no single place that lists upcoming clean energy events, we decided to create one. The site,, presents a curated list of events in a searchable format, along with a news feed featuring some of our favorite energy news sources.

There is still one missing piece: more support from the industry. Our recruitment efforts are off to a good start at almost 150 applicants from 6 continents, but we are still underrepresented in Europe, South America, and Australia. Endorsing this effort and promoting it to workers that are inclined to advocate in this way would help grow our legion of Atomic Ambassadors. And while Building Bridges pays conference costs, industry can help cover travel and accommodation costs that can be insurmountable barriers to many potential advocates.

And we are also asking organisations, where possible, to allow employees to attend on company time - it is for the good of the sector, after all. I have no doubt that this investment in outreach to the broader clean energy community will pay dividends in terms of friendlier policy; it already has."