During a Nuclear Energy Forum, held in Sapporo, Japan, alongside the meeting of G7 ministers on climate, energy and environment, a declaration was issued by nuclear trade associations emphasising the importance of nuclear energy for transition a clean and sustainable energy future. Signatories included the World Nuclear Association (WNA), the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), nucleareurope, the US Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and the UK's Nuclear Industry Association (NIA).

The declaration says, “To support decarbonisation at the scale required, the international community must work to extend the operating period of existing nuclear generation resources, develop the policies to enable new nuclear deployment and accelerate the development of a new portfolio of reactor technologies.” It added that nuclear energy is uniquely positioned to provide energy systems with:

Always-on, clean, affordable electricity to meet the world’s energy needs while achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.Low-carbon electricity with a high energy density from a compact footprint, thereby reducing habitat and biodiversity loss.High-quality long-term jobs that drive economic growth.Energy security against geopolitical, economic and social challenges.

“Taken together, these characteristics enable nuclear energy to be the foundation of a clean energy future that meets climate goals, improves public health and quality of life, and contributes to energy security and economic prosperity." 

The nuclear industry associations listed nine ways in which the G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers could take additional meaningful actions to maximise the benefits of nuclear energy for people worldwide. These include:

Maximise utilisation of existing NPPs as the most affordable form of low-carbon electricity generation. Therefore, we encourage governments to extend the operating period of NPPs for as long as is feasible. This includes supporting the restart of operable reactors and encouraging efficient safety reviews.Accelerate the deployment of new NPPs. We encourage governments to set ambitious targets for the deployment of new NPPs and to support their development with practical policy instruments and efficient energy market frameworks.Support international cooperation and the nuclear supply chain. We encourage governments to support efforts to develop supply chain capacity, including nuclear fuel and to promote cooperation with like-minded nations, such as G7 countries, who seek to achieve the strategic independence of their supplies. “In this regard, some nations will choose to reduce reliance on civil nuclear and related goods from Russia through the development of additional capabilities within their own supply chains or in cooperation with like-minded states who seek to diversify their supplies, especially with regard to nuclear fuel.”Develop a financial environment that promotes investment in nuclear power. We encourage governments to establish policies that clearly indicate to the global financial community that nuclear energy will play an important role to combat climate change and ensure sustainable development without having negative impact on the environment. Including nuclear power in the framework of international green and sustainable financing policies encourages investments in the deployment, expansion, and replacement of NPPs.Harmonise and modernise highly efficient international regulatory standards. We encourage governments to promote the harmonisation and modernisation of regulatory frameworks to enable efficient deployment of nuclear energy, including advanced nuclear technologies, while ensuring safety and security and respecting national regulatory sovereignty.Support innovative nuclear technology development. We encourage governments to expand support for the development, demonstration and deployment of new nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors and other advanced technologies, with innovative features contributing to safety and economic efficiency… working in synergy with renewable energy, hydrogen production, and heat utilisation.Promote public understanding of nuclear energy. We encourage governments to take steps to increase public awareness and understanding of how nuclear energy contributes to meeting energy security and climate change mitigation policy objectives.Collaborate internationally to share best practices, including working toward the realisation of final nuclear waste disposal… including options for used nuclear fuel management. Support countries that have newly introduced, or are considering, nuclear energy. We encourage governments to support countries that have newly introduced or are currently considering nuclear energy, including through multilateral cooperation frameworks such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The declaration was signed by WNA Director General Sama Bilbao y León, George Christidis, representing CNA President & CEO John Gorman, JAIF President Arai Shiro, NEI President & CEO Maria Korsnick, NIA Chief Executive Tom Greatrex and nucleareurope Director General Yves Desbazeille in the presence of energy ministers from five of the G7 countries - Canada, France, Japan, the UK and the USA. The other two – Germany and Italy – have phased out their nuclear power programmes.

Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade & Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura said the meeting is taking place at a "historical turning point" as ministers and industry work together. He added that he felt “the focus on nuclear has never been stronger”. Noting that nuclear energy was selected for the first ever industrial forum of its kind to be held in conjunction with a G7 ministerial meeting, US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said: "We are really standing at the dawn of a new nuclear age... nuclear is a critical, clean, baseload power."

Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson said: "We need to ensure that we are developing a grid that will be reliable, affordable and non-emitting, and in that context nuclear energy is a key part." French Minister of Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher said nuclear is "without doubt a major asset to achieve both energy independence and an effective fight against climate change."  Grant Shapps, UK Secretary of State for Energy Security & Net Zero, said there is a "renewed buzz" around nuclear.

Image courtesy of NIA

Date: Thursday, 20 April 2023
Original article: neimagazine.com/news/newsnuclear-industry-calls-on-g7-to-support-development-10770197