IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi addressed the 26th World Energy Congress in the Netherlands organised by the World Energy Council (WEC). This year’s event, held in Rotterdam under the slogan “Redesigning Energy for People and Planet”, brought together 70 ministers from 150 countries, as well as some 7,000 international energy stakeholders.

In a session that considered the need for increased investments and the challenges in financing nuclear newbuild projects, Grossi cited the technology sector as a potential new market for advanced nuclear technologies. According to the International Energy Agency, electricity consumption from data centres, artificial intelligence (AI) and cryptocurrencies account for 2% of global electricity consumption, but may double by 2026.

“The nuclear industry and the IAEA are taking a prospective look at the future of nuclear energy, for example talking to AI and data centre companies that are considering nuclear as a tailor-made solution for their clean firm electricity supply needs,” Grossi noted. “Nuclear fit for purpose, in other words.”

The IAEA also took an active role in side events at the World Energy Congress. This included a session organised by the Asian Development Bank that examined the role of integrated energy planning and financing approaches for clean energy projects Asia and the Pacific, and an event on advanced reactor developments organised by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

The IAEA also organised a side event with speakers from the Directorate for Nuclear Energy in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy of the Netherlands, the Electric Power Research Institute, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the World Nuclear Association. The event focused on the opportunities and challenges that the sector will face in the coming years as the push to reach net zero by mid-century accelerates.

Image: IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi speaking at the World Energy Congress 2024 (courtesy of IAEA)