How can Nuclear Innovation change the energy dynamics in the the world
Key challenges facing the energy sector include growing global energy demand, scarcity issues and environmental impacts associated with conventional energy sources, reform of the energy sector, downward cost trends, economic recovery, difficulties in decarbonisation and climate crisis.
Moreover, the war between Russia and Ukraine has had a major impact on the global energy industry. The invasion and subsequent Western sanctions led to price volatility, supply shortages and security concerns in global energy markets. This has led to rapid increases in wholesale gas prices and the imposition of price caps on Russian oil by Western countries.
The conflict also forced EU countries and others to reevaluate their ties with Russia which was the main gas supplier of Europe. All of this had a major impact on those companies and put a focus on liquefied natural gas to meet energy demands
So where does nuclear fit in all of this? How does nuclear innovation can be a key lever to support this new energy structure?
Nuclear energy is a low carbon energy source making it environmentally positive as an energy production mean. Moreover, it is a base load, constantly producing energy and it also has a very limited footprint unlike other energy sources. All in all its power density makes it very attractive.
However, when it comes to nuclear energy, there are some drawbacks: high construction costs, long term management of radioactive wastes and the risk of accidents.
Talking about those risks, this is where nuclear innovation comes in:
- High construction costs: Small modular reactors, digitalisation of design/ construction tools can reduce costs, optimise activities, streamline manufacturing and also bring a unique economy of scale;
- Long term management of radioactive wastes: Small innovations helping to get a better characterisation, better decontamination can improvement the sort & seg process and reduce the amount of waste considered as hazardous. This is exactly the kind of innovations we feature in inTechBrew. More over, disposal such as GDF can ensure the waste are safely disposed;
- Risk of accidents: New technologies are now focussing on passive safety systems, accident tolerant equipment, leveraging the physics to avoid any hazardous release in case of a problem. This clearly covered by all the technologies out there highlighted in SMRs and AMRs but also advanced large scale nuclear reactors such as GenIII+.
All to say, nuclear plays and will play an even more important role in terms of energy supply security, support to reach net zero and also to keep the costs downs for the end user as price volatility seen in Europe is not coming from the production price.