Following the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Atoms4NetZero initiative, leaders from around the world will gather at a Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels early next year to highlight the role of nuclear energy in addressing the global challenges to reduce the use of fossil fuels, enhance energy security and boost economic development, the IAEA and Belgium announced today.
Hosted jointly by the IAEA and Belgium, the Summit will take place on 21-22 March 2024.
Co-chaired by IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, it will be the highest-level meeting to date exclusively focused on the topic of nuclear energy, which is attracting growing interest from many countries because it can both help to cut the consumption of fossil fuels while meeting rising demand for low-carbon dispatchable electricity.
“More and more countries are either planning to introduce nuclear power in their energy mix or expand already existing nuclear energy programmes. We have seen a clear positive shift in recent years, with a growing realization that nuclear energy is an indispensable part of the solution to some of the most pressing global challenges of our time,” Director General Grossi said.
“The Nuclear Energy Summit will highlight this renewed momentum for nuclear power and also provide a high-level forum to showcase solutions for some of the issues the sector is facing in order to realize its full potential, including from an industrial perspective. In this regard, it will also be a venue for building closer ties between political and industry executives, which are of paramount importance for the future of nuclear power,” he said.
Prime Minister De Croo said: “The European energy landscape has changed profoundly. We need to rapidly decrease our use of fossil fuels. This goes hand in hand with the fight against global warming, the consequences of which have never been so visible. This dual emergency calls for a determined, balanced response. Alongside important investments in renewable energy and hydrogen production, nuclear energy and technology can be part of the solution to power our industrial future.”
Around 30 countries are expected to participate in the Summit. Industry leaders are also expected to attend, as are the heads of think-tanks, experts, and representatives from civil society.
The Summit will consist of a high-level segment with heads of state and government as well as a scientific debate with leading experts about issues ranging from new reactor technologies to hybrid energy systems integrating both nuclear power and renewable energy, and innovation throughout the entire fuel cycle and the life cycle of nuclear facilities.
A separate policy debate will focus on the hurdles that are hindering the early deployment of new nuclear technologies and the solutions and opportunities identified worldwide to overcome them. It will examine challenges such as the security of supply and safe dismantling of nuclear power reactors. In addition, the Summit will showcase the IAEA’s Atom4NetZero initiative, which provides decision makers with comprehensive, data-driven energy scenario modelling that also includes the full potential of nuclear power in contributing to net zero emissions.
“In Belgium, with the extension of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 power plants, we have shown that nuclear technologies have their rightful place in the energy mix. They contribute to energy security and the competitiveness of our economy, while helping to drive down the use of fossil fuels. Belgium has the ambition to lead the way in research into the safe dismantling of nuclear facilities, medical applications for radioisotopes, and innovative research into small modular reactors,” Prime Minister De Croo said.
Director General Grossi said: “Leaders will have an opportunity to outline their visions on how nuclear power can help them meet both their net zero and sustainable development goals. With the world struggling with a climate crisis, while at the same time requiring more and more energy, this Summit could not be more important or timely. We must all join forces in this existential fight that we are facing. Nuclear power is a clean and reliable source of energy, and the world needs much more of it.”
The IAEA’s new annual nuclear power outlook high case projection predicts installed nuclear capacity will more than double to 890 gigawatts by 2050, compared to 369 gigawatts today. This represents an almost 25% increase from the Agency’s prediction in 2020, with its projections revised up for a third consecutive year.