Nuclear-21 addressing OECD NEA’s Steering Committee

The world needs a lot of decarbonised energy to curb the unsustainable pressure on our environment while ensuring a habitable and equitable world for us all. Nuclear energy is one of the prime energy technologies that can provide such prospect. A tripling of nuclear power’s capacity worldwide has been set as a target during the recent COP28 meeting and OECD Nuclear Energy Agency’s Steering Committee’s 147th session addressed what this may entail from a fuel cycle perspective.

Nuclear-21’s founding partner Luc Van Den Durpel was invited to address this session regarding the challenges and opportunities such prospects for nuclear energy bring. Based on the extensive experience of Nuclear-21 in assessing nuclear energy system futures, using our NESSAT toolbox, some snapshots of future deployment scenarios were highlighted. While the main backbone for nuclear energy will be LWR-technology based, the introduction of LWR-technology based SMRs is projected from the early 2030s on next to HTGRs to serve the decarbonisation needs of especially energy-intensive industries. More advanced, so-called AMRs, being projected from the late 2030s in pilot applications and industrially sometimes well beyond 2040s.

Such tripling of nuclear energy worldwide, including both large as small nuclear power plants, will demand a new look on how the fuel cycle will be organised given the new business models for nuclear energy and the changing balance one may envisage regarding the front-end and back-end fuel cycle as well as the radioactive waste management. These new markets for nuclear energy will go associated with new business models including multi-regional/national approaches ensuring secured supply of fuel and progressing tangibly with radioactiove waste management. Continuous ensurance that nuclear energy remains competitive, safe, and especially also secure and non-proliferant in such futures shall also co-define the fuel cycle options.

Luc addressed these topics in his presentation and Nuclear-21 will be reporting more extensively during summer 2024 on these prospective scenarios for nuclear energy systems as part of our ongoing study on “Let’s Energiqe Sustainability”.

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