The COVID-19 pandemic recovery has presented a window of opportunity for governments, according the World Nuclear Association's latest White Paper.
“Building a stronger tomorrow: Nuclear power in the post-pandemic world” says recovery plans that include investment in nuclear energy would boost economic growth and jobs, fulfil climate change commitments, and build a clean and resilient energy system.
The paper notes the coronavirus pandemic has had profound impacts on societies around the world. "In many countries it has prompted reviews by governments of how best to build stronger, cleaner and more resilient societies. Whilst the pandemic has done great damage, with appropriate policy responses it may well provide a unique opportunity to build a genuinely sustainable world."
WNA says nuclear energy can play a central role in post-COVID recovery efforts by boosting economic growth in the short-term, whilst also supporting the cost-effective development of a low-carbon, resilient and affordable electricity infrastructure. Investments into nuclear energy will also strengthen energy security, and can contribute to the production of heat and hydrogen to decarbonise other sectors of the economy.
"Nuclear projects attract valuable inward investment, driving sustained long-term local and national economic growth with, for instance, every euro spent on nuclear generating a further four euros in the broader economy," the report notes. It adds there are 'shovel-ready' nuclear projects around the world - some 108 planned reactors with approval, funding or commitment in place - which, with the right support, can provide immediate employment and create long-term high-value jobs.
In addition, further projects exist that would extend the operation of existing reactors. "Securing continued generation from the about 290 reactors which have been operating for more than 30 years is the cheapest way to generate low-carbon electricity."
WNA is calling on policymakers to consider nuclear and its socio-economic, environmental and public health benefits in any energy transition plan, and enact policies to ensure the realisation of the many benefits of nuclear energy. It also calls for acceleration of projects to implement the 108 reactors which are already planned by governments, and ensure the long-time operation of the 290 reactors which have been operational for 30+ years.
It also says policymakers should unlock finance by providing the appropriate frameworks that will drive investment and provide better value for consumers.