The first half of this year has seen a slow but decisive shift in public opinion of atomic power.

Here we share some perspectives on what is happening around that shift, and how it is growing in prominence as the answer to climate change.

Most prominently in our view, were the following stories.

Goldman Sachs, a bank, went live to argue that advanced atomic power (the m-MSR is one of those) will become the most important investment class over the next decade.

– Goldman Sachs – The Future of Sustainable Nuclear Energy

That makes a lot of sense, as even the most vocal climate activists (some call them alarmists) came to the realisation that the way to combine climate change mitigation with a foundation for economic prosperity is to embrace modern, advanced and efficient atomic technology. Here’s the most vocal climate activist, Zion Lights speaking up for atomic.

– An open letter to the UK PM: Nuclear power sits at the heart of a green recovery

There’s more. Michael Shellenberger, another prominent climate activist, released his new book ‘Apocalypse Never’ to rave reviews, in the spirit of Hans Rosling’s ‘Factfulness’ ( now making waves in classrooms and sofas all over the world.

Shellenberger sets out a clear narrative, that policy solutions such as green energy are making matters worse (look at Germany..), and that renewables are ultimately worse than fossil fuels. It’s simply a physical manifestation of lower power densities. More land, more materials, more mining, more metals, more waste. This is very well understood in the scholarly literature, says Michael. Food for thought.

– Ex-alarmist disputes climate narrative in new book

You can read more of his arguments here:

Also, at the deep end of our industry, voices are being raised. Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency explained to members of the International Energy Agency (IEA) that Nuclear Is ‘Contributing Massively’ to greenhouse gas reductions. It’s the only ‘green’ energy technology out there, if you consider life cycle pollution.

– IAEA Head Tells Ministers Nuclear Is ‘Contributing Massively’

That’s just as well, since the global COVID-19 pandemic naturally reduced emissions by stopping transport and travel and reducing industrial output, but as lockdowns are lifted, emissions are soaring back to previous levels. We had a glimpse of what could be, now we have to agree how to achieve it for the long term.

– Carbon Levels Surge Again as Countries Emerge from Lockdown (Scientific American)

So, the Davos crew at the World Economic Forum, led by fellow Norwegian Borge Brende, made a half-hearted attempt at joining the debate, but sadly missed the mark by being way too compromising. Talking shops will talk. Nevertheless, you can see what they said here.

– Nuclear power can play a big role in the energy transition (World Economic Forum)

Proof of the intended point WEF was trying to make (but didn’t quite say it), came from again from the heart our industry at the IAEA. They laid out proof positive that atomic power generation proved to be resilient, reliable and adaptable by rapidly implementing special measures to cope with the pandemic, avoiding the need to shut down plants due to the effects of COVID-19 on the workforce or supply chains.

– COVID-19 and Low Carbon Electricity: Lessons for the Future (IAEA)

But, as we all know, there’s no progress without funding. A barrier to funding of new atomic power has always been the misled ‘fear of nuclear’, despite having the best safety record of all energy systems – Chernobyl and Fukushima included.

So, the Americans did something awesome and lifted the ban on funding of overseas atomic energy by the Development Finance Corporation (DFC). How about that? Fresh funds for genuine clean energy and advanced reactor technology.

It fits so well, and in our opinion, really serves to underline the key point of the narrative; A second atomic era is coming, because it is the only way to properly solve the climate challenge we face, and therefore, it will become the most important investment class over the next decade (hat-tip, Goldman).

– US nuclear investment expected to soar after DFC ban lifted | Nuclear Energy Insider

They didn’t stop there though. The US nuclear regulator (NRC) which has been criticised for holding back atomic technology development with slow implementation of rules, agreed to lighten up and cut some red tape. Given the fact that the m-MSR and other advanced reactor designs are built in such a way to make a very large amount of current regulation either non-applicable or void, this is a really good step in the right direction.

– NRC Approves New Approach to Streamline Advanced Reactor Licensing Process

Over 80% of all export goods are transported at sea so shipping is not exempt from the turmoil, and it seems discontent is growing in the ranks about how decarbonisation is being approached. Just wait until the first technical and economic data starts to come through from ships burning ammonia (NH3) as a low carbon fuel…. Here are a few of the headlines that stood out for us:

– Short-term GHG measures jostle for position at IMO

– UN secretary-general calls for shipping bailouts to be tied to the Paris Agreement

– Euro Parliament Environment Committee votes to include shipping CO2 in EU ETS; shipping industry to contribute to climate neutrality

– European ports must gear up ‘reinvention’ for energy transition role shift

– How to reach 50 per cent carbon reduction by 2050 

– EU takes aim at ‘insufficient’ measures taken by the IMO and maps its own green shipping agenda

At last, Singapore, the smallest big shipping capital in the world got in on the action with a committee of its own. They will work through the alternative fuels scenarios and, we assume, have to arrive at the same conclusion that environmentalists, banks, politicians and industrialists are now drawing, that advanced atomic is the only viable way forward and it really isn’t anything to be scared of.

– Singapore commits to maritime decarbonization

Maersk, one of the largest ocean transportation companies in the world, were one of the first to be brave enough to set a timeline for their own zero-carbon footprint. That was back in 2018 and we know they’ve been busy planning how to do that. The family are putting their money where their mouth is and have put down a sizeable sum of money to establish a new center of excellence that will lead their efforts. We’re now past the point of no return.

– New research center will lead the way for decarbonizing shipping

Finally, we want to share some more technical information about small modular reactors in general and hope you find the links below interesting.

–  5 Key Resilient Features of Small Modular Reactors

– Small Modular Reactors in Integrated Energy Systems

– Concise information on key facts relating to nuclear energy

– Deeds not words: Barriers and remedies for Small Modular nuclear Reactors

– Molten Salt Reactors Are Nuclear’s Future. How Do We Get There?

– One Thousand Distinct Nuclear Reactors – Alvin Weinberg (excerpt from Myriam Tonelotto documentary)

– Southern Company and TerraPower Prep for Testing on Molten Salt Reactor

– Brazil looks to HALEU – Nuclear Engineering International

– Nuclear Solutions: The Independent Global Nuclear News Agency

– Australia / Minerals Council Calls For Research Into Advanced Nuclear Solutions

– To engineers’ surprise, radiation can slow corrosion of some materials | MIT News

Please keep your feedback and comments coming, they’re always welcome and we will do our best to answer each one as fast as we can.