Reflecting a growing interest in nuclear-powered shipping, the Nuclear Energy Maritime Organisation (NEMO) has been set up with its headquarters in London. NEMO will work with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to establish global standards and regulations for the deployment, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power in the maritime environment and promote commercialisation of nuclear power at sea.

NEMO will include 11 nuclear companies from seven countries including HD Hyundai (South Korea); Terrapower, a US small modular reactor (SMR) company founded by Bill Gates; US-based Westinghouse EC; UK-based Lloyd Resister; and Denmark’s Seaborg, which is designing molten salt reactors. HD Hyundai has been working on SMRs with global nuclear power leaders since February, after it invested $30m in TerraPower in 2022.

“We are very excited about the launch of NEMO as it can serve as a cornerstone to advance the era of offshore nuclear power,” said Mamdouh el-Shanawany, former head of IAEA’s Safety Division, who will serve as NEMO’s inaugural chair. “We will expand the participation of global organisations that share vision and values with us.”

“Establishing global standards holds the key to the commercialisation of next-generation SMRs well suited to the maritime environment,” said Park Sang-min, head of the Green Energy Research Lab at HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE – a subsidiary of HD Hyundai), who will serve as a steering committee member of NEMO. “Through the establishment of NEMO, we will lead the world in shipbuilding and nuclear power.”

“NEMO is a brand new organisation focussing on the practical application of new nuclear solutions deployable in the maritime sphere,” according to the NEMO website. “Being committed to advancing the safe, secure and sustainable integration of nuclear technology in maritime, means we have the opportunity to scale this technology in the most effective way, redefining the clean energy landscape.”

NEMO “aims to be at the very vanguard of the maritime energy revolution”. Its mission is “to help national and international regulators create appropriate future-oriented standards and rules for the deployment, operation and decommissioning of floating nuclear power.” Its focus will be “to help close the gap between existing regulations for both the nuclear and maritime industries”.

NEMO lists three areas of interest:

  • Nuclear Regulation – working with nuclear regulators and key stakeholders to ensure that a robust and appropriate set of standards are developed for nuclear energy in the marine environment.
  • Maritime Regulation – working with maritime regulators, class societies, and insurers to ensure that current standards are tailored to allow floating nuclear power to operate at sea, offshore, in ports and in nearshore environments.
  • Outreach – to inform and educate stakeholders about the challenges, benefits and opportunities offered by floating nuclear power in decarbonising heavy industry and transport.

“A functional connection between the work of the IMO and the IAEA will become increasingly important in the coming years to foster appropriate development of floating nuclear technology, as a key solution to decarbonising both ocean transport and heavy industry.”