At Work: our annual report

At Work is an annual report of the World Nuclear Association's activities. You will find details of the Association's everyday work and plans for the year ahead.

Download At Work 2021 Edition.



2020 is a year unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon, for a number of reasons. All of us have been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another, and we have been forced to reassess our priorities. The ongoing crisis showcased just how important affordable and reliable electricity is, both hallmarks of the nuclear industry. As we look ahead at the challenges of the post-COVID economic recovery, of achieving greater climate ambitions at COP26 and reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, nuclear energy is perhaps more important than ever before. The Association will continue to devote every effort towards ensuring that the industry’s voice is heard loud and clear.

The pandemic recovery has inevitably been an important aspect of the Association’s work for the past year. We joined forces with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency to explore how nuclear energy can aid the recovery. This resulted in four briefs – jobs creation, cost-effective decarbonization, financing and building resiliency with nuclear energy – highlighting the multifaceted role that nuclear energy can and should play in helping the world to get back on its feet. In July we published Building a Stronger Tomorrow: Nuclear power in the post-pandemic world, a white paper setting out how nuclear energy can play a central role in post-COVID recovery efforts by boosting economic growth in the short term, whilst also supporting, in a cost-effective manner, the development of a low-carbon, resilient and affordable energy infrastructure.

Despite the pandemic, six reactors were connected to the grid in 2020, including two in newcomer countries – Belarus (Ostrovets-1) and the United Arab Emirates (Barakah-1) – and construction started on a further six. Every reactor constructed gets us closer to fulfilling our goals of global decarbonization and economic development.

The Association continued to be at the forefront of nuclear conversations around the world, representing the industry at events throughout the year. At the inaugural World Nuclear Association Strategic eForum in September, attended by some 1350 delegates, the global industry came together virtually to discuss pressing issues such as how to maximize the benefits of nuclear and drive investments towards nuclear projects.

Beyond the pandemic response, the Association has continued to engage on issues of global impact, most notably the European Union’s Sustainable Financing Taxonomy, the end point of which is critical to ensure that nuclear energy shares the same access to affordable financing as other low-carbon energy sources. We published a white paper, The need for large and small nuclear, today and tomorrow, describing how both large[1]scale nuclear power plants and small modular reactors can play a significant role in the clean energy transition. Towards the end of 2020, the Association also began its preparation for COP26 in earnest, meeting with UK government ministers to reinforce the importance of nuclear energy in any deep decarbonization efforts.

World Nuclear University became virtual in 2020 to continue its mission to train the future leaders of the nuclear industry. Two World Nuclear Industry Today courses were hosted, one in China and one in Brazil, with over 1400 participants. Furthermore, three Extended Leadership Development workshops were hosted, attracting more than 350 participants.

During the course of the year, the Association has welcomed new members covering diverse sectors, from operations to waste management and instrumentation. Our Working Groups have remained active through virtual meetings resulting in the publication of several reports on the enduring value of nuclear energy assets, transportation of uranium, harmonization of reactor design and licensing, and safety classifications.

We have also continued to build and strengthen collaborations, be it with traditional partners such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, or newfound ones, such as the United Nations Economic Commission on Europe, the International Monetary Fund and the ASEAN Centre for Energy. Our ability to extend our reach to new audiences and new channels in 2020, despite difficult conditions, demonstrates the strength of our industry.

In September, it was announced that Agneta Rising, Director General since 2013, would be stepping down. Many of us have admired Agneta and her stalwart efforts to further the nuclear cause for many decades. We are grateful for her service to the Association and its members, and the broader nuclear industry.

Looking ahead, the Association will continue to represent the interests of the nuclear industry in the global arena, ensuring that nuclear power continues to play an integral role now and in the future. As the global community comes together to work towards delivering on our ambitions to combat climate change and achieve sustainable development, it is crucial that we stand ready to do our bit in building a stronger and cleaner tomorrow, today.

Sama Bilbao y León, Director General

Philippe Knoche, Chairman

Also available: At Work 2022At Work 2020.




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