Beautiful Nuclear: Driving Deep Decarbonization

A team of consultants from Lucid Catalyst assembled a report to show how nuclear energy helps meet all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and provide suggestions for how best to facilitate its implementation.

In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable DevelopmentThis agreement includes 17 goals which “address the global challenges we face” and describes areas including poverty, hunger, education, and equality. According to this report, each of these goals is progressed in a meaningful way through the expansion of nuclear energy.

The report continues to emphasize the urgency of immediately implementing implementing policy changes which would make nuclear implementation easier, such as classifying it as a sustainable source of energy. The European Union has debated granting nuclear energy this ‘green label’ by adding it to the “EU Taxonomy of Sustainable Activities. This classification would give nuclear projects access to funding which would otherwise by unobtainable. 

Covered topics also include the benefits of nuclear power over renewables, priorities and possible risks to a clean energy transition, alternative applications for nuclear power, and common concerns regarding its safety. These topics are covered succinctly, and provide an excellent analysis for those new to nuclear topics as well as those who are already familiar.

The report’s final recommendations are:

  • Access to Finance: In the same way that investors must take a portfolio approach to investments in order to reduce exposure to risk, global efforts to limit climate change should be spread across a portfolio of technology options. Consistent, technology-inclusive access to finance is critical to realising this.
  • Stop Closures: Premature closures of nuclear power stations need to stop, and whenever possible, those shut down should be restarted. 
  • Extend Lifetimes: Operating fleet should seek lifetime extensions whenever possible, and funding for the necessary refurbishment needs to be made available at low interest rates.
  • Diversify Modeling: Energy system modellers and policy makers should include the wide range of potential applications for advanced heat sources into energy and climate scenario modelling where it is currently absent.
  • Include Green Hydrogen: ‘Green Hydrogen’ and the associated mandates, policy incentives, and financing should include all low-carbon hydrogen production as per their sustainability (carbon intensity, land use, etc.), not just a cherry-picked selection of technologies. 
  • Funding Commercialization: Europe should fund the rapid and large-scale commercialisation of new delivery and deployment models for advanced heat sources for re-powering coal plants, hydrogen, heat and power production, with an emphasis on achieving cost-competitiveness and scale relevant to the fossil fuel markets they are designed to address.

Click here to view the report from the Lucid Catalyst website, Beautiful Nuclear: Driving Deep Decarbonization, by Kirsty Gogan, Eric Ingersoll, Rauli Partanen, Amelia Tiemann, Romana Vysatova, publicly released June 2022.