Director General's Concluding Remarks

Updated Friday, 17 May 2024

The turmoil in energy markets, which had begun even before the current conflict in Ukraine sent fossil fuel prices sky-high, has brought the issue of energy security to the fore, alongside the increasingly urgent requirements for rapid decarbonization to tackle climate change effectively, and the global sustainable development goal of providing access to affordable and clean energy for all.

An increasing number of governments are recognising the value of nuclear generation to address all of these challenges.

The European Nuclear Alliance of 14 EU member states have reaffirmed that nuclear technologies and renewable energies are complementary in achieving the EU's climate and energy security objectives and must, as such, be an integral part of the European energy transition.

In Asia, the South Korean government has reversed the phase-out policy of the previous administration and released an updated draft to the long-term energy plan, calling for an increase in nuclear capacity. in Japan the government has adopted a policy maximising the use of existing reactors and developing advanced reactors.

In Africa, construction continues on the four reactors at Egypt's El Dabaa plant. When they enter service Egypt will become the second African country to operate a nuclear power plant. Other countries in Africa are intending to deploy nuclear energy, with Uganda, Nigera and Ghana already planning construction. 

In North America, work to extend the operation of Canada's Candu reactors is progressing well, and plans are afoot for construction of several SMRs. In the USA, the start-up of the AP1000 units at Vogtle is underway, and investments and tax incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act will reinforce the nation's commitment to maximize the use of its existing nuclear power plants and encourage deployment of new nuclear technology.

But unless we can turn policies into action government commitments will remain as just good intentions. What can the industry do to ensure that it can grow and deliver at scale and speed?

In comparison to many other sectors, the nuclear industry comprises many relatively small companies. And, understandably, those companies working within the same sectors of nuclear energy are in fierce competition with each other.

But if the nuclear industry is to compete effectively for its place in a future energy mix, then those companies need to work together to make the case for nuclear energy globally. We need to develop our industry self-awareness, and scan the horizon together, looking for challenges and opportunities and developing joint strategies to make the most of both. Put simply, we will either succeed together, or fail separately.

One place where the industry must come together is the COP28 climate change conference that will take place later this year in Dubai. There are very loud and assertive voices at climate change conferences. The only way for the nuclear industry to be heard is if we present a cohesive vision of the important role that nuclear energy should play in a net-zero, clean energy future. 

This is why World Nuclear Association is committed to bringing our member companies together from all corners of the world, so collectively we can make the case for nuclear energy. Because I believe that if we work together, the global nuclear industry can make a reality of the nuclear energy promise to decarbonize the entire economy in a cost-effective, secure and equitable manner.

Sama Bilbao y León
Director General
World Nuclear Association

July 2023