NEW YORK, 19th September, 2023 (WAM) — Following on the global launch in London earlier this month, ‘Net Zero Nuclear’—an unprecedented collaboration between government, industry leaders and civil society to triple global nuclear capacity to enable Net Zero by 2050—took centre stage today at the Atlantic Council’s Nuclear Energy Policy Summit 2023.
In remarks kicking off the summit, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry emphasised the United States government’s commitment to nuclear power and praised the Net Zero Nuclear initiative, saying, “The United States is now, therefore, committed—based on experience and based on reality—to trying to accelerate the deployment of nuclear energy. And it’s part of the Biden programme. It’s what we believe we absolutely need in order to win this battle. And we believe we still can win this battle.”
Secretary Kerry continued, “I’m very pleased to see the launch of Net Zero Nuclear, a pioneering platform for countries and companies that want to try to accelerate the clean energy transition.”
During a fireside chat following Secretary Kerry’s remarks, global nuclear energy leaders Dr. Sama Bilbao y León, Director-General of the World Nuclear Association (WNA), and Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), underscored the urgent call for rapid deployment of more nuclear technologies as a proven, reliable energy source and vital tool to help prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. They also reiterated their invitation for more companies, governments and individuals to join the ‘Net Zero Nuclear’ initiative, which was launched during the opening of the World Nuclear Symposium taking place in London earlier this month with the support of the Atoms4NetZero initiative launched by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Dr. Sama Bilbao y León, Director-General of the World Nuclear Association, said, “Nuclear energy offers a golden opportunity to help decarbonise the entire economy in a cost-effective and equitable manner, by generating abundant affordable 24/7 clean energy. We need bold governments to develop ambitious and pragmatic policies that help accelerate the deployment of new nuclear capacity to address climate and energy security goals, while also being a catalyst for socio-economic development. The Net Zero Nuclear Initiative aims to shine the spotlight onto nuclear energy as an essential component of any serious effort to move towards sustainable energy systems. It also wants to unite governments, industry and civil society toward positive action to achieve clean growth goals.”
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ENEC, which leads the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme and its flagship Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, said, “Nuclear energy is already a key part of our work to achieve Net Zero, and the UAE’s success in the last decade has set a new standard showing that nuclear energy can be a modern-day climate solution. Nuclear is low-carbon, climate-resilient, and able to meet energy demands day and night. With good policies, access to financial resources, and most importantly, strong partnerships across government, industry, and civil society through the ‘Net Zero Nuclear’ initiative, we will ensure that nuclear power is a driving force in the transformation shift toward net zero. The UAE, as host of COP28, welcomes other nations coming to the UAE for COP28 to learn how the nation has rapidly decarbonised its power grid through the deployment of nuclear energy, offering a model for others looking for a proven route to reducing carbon emissions while boosting energy security.”
During the global launch in London, it was announced that the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero would be joining ‘Net Zero Nuclear’ as the inaugural government partner to collaborate and support the initiative on the road towards COP28 in the UAE.
Recent data modelling has shown that global nuclear energy capacity should at least triple by 2050 to achieve climate targets while still ensuring global energy security. This would require the worldwide rate of deployment to average 40 GW per year, more than six times the rate of deployment over the past decade. In the lead up to COP28, which will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates in Dubai later this year, Net Zero Nuclear aims to bring together political leaders and industry to engage in data-driven, actionable, solutions-focused dialogue to enable the rapid expansion of the global nuclear fleet and the acceleration of research and development into emerging nuclear technologies. The initiative will work to ensure nuclear energy’s potential is fully realised in facilitating the decarbonisation of global energy systems, by promoting the value of nuclear energy and removing barriers to its growth.
In the UAE, where sun is abundant and where renewables have a major role to play in the energy mix, nuclear energy has delivered the largest decarbonisation of the nation’s history, with the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, which will generate 40 TWh annually once fully operational while preventing the release of over 22.4 million tons of carbon emissions, being the largest single source of clean electricity in the country. The UAE’s nuclear energy programme is one of the most cost and time-efficient new nuclear builds in recent history.
Globally, nuclear energy has experienced a significant resurgence over the past two years, as nations rush to meet energy security and decarbonisation targets. Major policy announcements in different nations, including the UK, US, Canada, Japan, France, South Korea, India and China, as well as growing inclusion in green financing mechanisms and a major uptick in private investment interest in nuclear energy technologies, promise substantial growth in this carbon-free energy source.