Embracing existing technologies
To audiences both online and present at Davos, it was clear that panel speakers shared a sense of ambition, responsibility, and optimism for the future ahead.
When asked by the panel chair to envisage the future – and the technologies that will lead us there – each panelist set out a vision for the development of their respective sectors. Envision’s Zhang Lei highlighted the importance of embracing existing solar, wind, and green hydrogen technologies to support an integrated programme of renewables, while Fortescue Metals’ Andrew Forrest highlighted the need to look past ‘carbon capture’ and other approaches that enable the continuation of the role that fossil fuels play in our energy mix.
newcleo’s Stefano Buono added to this conversation by addressing the ways in which new developments in nuclear must too be embraced as part of our solution, providing technologies backed up by years of expertise and research that allow us to build reactors fueled by waste. This puts a sustainable, safe, and clean option on the table – one discovered 60 years ago that has undergone countless innovations since.
“This is a clear opportunity, an existing opportunity, to transform the energy industry,” explained Stefano Buono.
What needs to happen
‘De-risking’ occupied a central space in the panel’s discussion – the challenge of encouraging investment in emerging technologies of the future rather than the tried-and-tested carbon-heavy technologies of now.
Panelists also raised some important points on possible policy and regulatory hurdles faced by providers of net-zero technologies, with Andrew Forrest highlighting a vacuum of industry incentives in Europe and Zhang Lei reflecting on how governments could play a role in boosting hydrogen technologies through supporting ammonia markets.
Some panelists, however, stressed less emphasis on the extent of the role that government bodies need to play in the net-zero energy transition.
For newcleo, as Stefano Buono highlighted, we welcome thorough regulations and approval processes on the safety, sustainability, and cleanliness of our reactors. As privately-funded providers of LFRs (lead-cooled fast reactors), the main challenge that newcleo is ready to overcome is that of education: preparing both the public and policy makers to understand and embrace the potential of nuclear technology, protected by innovative safeguarding and waste-recycling features that enable it to be a reliable option for the future.
“Soon, the younger generation might question why nuclear hasn’t been used in the past. Young people will create a new vision for nuclear,” added newcleo’s CEO. “There has not been an explanation of the potential of nuclear, or what is at stake if we do not embrace this potential […] now is the time. Between 2030-2050, we will continue to see much more of this technology: nuclear is, and can be, much more sustainable.”
Creating long-term opportunities
Panelists also took some time to celebrate the growth of industry and skills that new technologies facilitate. Zhang Lei underlined how technology projects – from offshore wind to green hydrogen – naturally evolve into infrastructure projects, while Linnea Kornehed Falck of Einride AB highlighted similar development opportunities in the merging of the transport and energy sectors.
Nuclear is no different. The revival of the nuclear industry will offer new opportunities to the talent of current and future generations – not only in the development of new reactor technology, but equally in the growth of technologies we have not yet seen: Stefano Buono, for example, gave the example of how nuclear batteries could be used to power the maritime industry.
‘All-of-the-above’: working alongside others
The Age of Net-Zero Technologies demonstrated an effort to “take action, instead of competing between solutions”, as it was put by panel participant Andrew Forrest.
newcleo looks forward to harnessing the power of decades of nuclear research to power a low-carbon future, working alongside other innovators in renewables and green technology.
This is just the latest development in the steps we are taking to build a net-zero future. We are pleased to have received recognition for the efforts we have so far contributed – for example, we were named ‘Rising Star’ at Deloitte’s 2022 UK Technology Fast 50 awards.