Innovative technologies, including small modular reactors and nuclear-powered hydrogen, will play an essential role in the impact that nuclear energy can have in helping governments to reach their net zero targets. Discussions around the Nuclear Energy Agency’s commitment to furthering development in these key areas were a focus at the NEA Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy biannual meeting on 20-21 October 2022.
The Committee discussed the NEA’s work in the area of nuclear-powered hydrogen, an innovative concept which is already being explored in various projects around the world.
Delegates considered nuclear energy’s capacity to help reduce carbon emissions, as highlighted in the recent NEA report The Role of Nuclear Power in the Hydrogen Economy: Cost and Competitiveness. This report demonstrates that nuclear energy can be a competitive source to produce and deliver low-carbon hydrogen for centralised industrial demand.
The Steering Committee also discussed progress in the recently formed NEA Task Group on Improving the Gender Balance in the Nuclear Sector (GB-TG).
The Committee’s regular policy briefing was on the NEA’s Small Modular Reactor Strategy, highlighting key research findings from the 2021 NEA report Small Modular Reactors: Challenges and Opportunities.
Delegates received an update on the key economic drivers of this innovative nuclear technology and highlighted market opportunities for SMRs to support decarbonisation strategies, complement variable renewables as well as facilitate access to nuclear energy in new sectors and regions. If large-scale SMR deployment is to take place, the industry will require government support and international collaboration.
The Committee also approved renewed Memoranda of Understanding with the American Nuclear Society (ANS), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), World Association of Nuclear Operators and Women in Nuclear Global (WiN).
Photos: Krystal Kenney for the NEA