New report focuses on ESG frameworks and nuclear financial investments

March 31, 2022, 7:12AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance released a report on March 25 titled “ESG Frameworks and Advanced Nuclear Energy,” discussing how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) frameworks affect advanced nuclear energy technologies. The report, as described in an NIA press release, “includes potential actions the nuclear industry and financial community should consider to promote consistent analytical treatment of nuclear energy within ESG frameworks and efficient access to capital for nuclear investments.”

Need for consistent frameworks: Judi Greenwald, the NIA executive director, explained the need for consistent ESG frameworks, noting that “[n]uclear energy technologies are particularly affected by the inconsistent treatment of some frameworks regarding the ESG attributes of energy technologies. . . . As frameworks are standardized and embedded in policy, if their flaws are not addressed, advanced nuclear energy could be left at a disadvantage in terms of access to capital.”

Greenwald also pointed out, “The underlying objective of ESG frameworks is to create interest in potential investments with positive ESG attributes, therefore improving access to and decreasing the cost of capital for those investments. . . . With consistent, unbiased, and analytical frameworks, advanced nuclear energy would be evaluated as a zero-carbon energy source and potentially be treated similarly to other such sources.”

Potential actions: The report, by the self-described “non-profit think-and-do-tank,” lists the following potential actions to support the development of ESG reporting and ratings for advanced nuclear energy developers and projects:

  1. Analyze the treatment of nuclear energy by key ratings organizations and conduct outreach to those organizations to promote consistent analytical treatment. 

  2. Engage in Security and Exchange Commission actions on climate change disclosures to promote a consistent analytical approach. 

  3. Participate in the development of common frameworks, such as the one announced by the International Sustainability Standards Board, to promote consistent analytical treatment and a neutral approach to nuclear energy. 

  4. To provide data to support ESG reporting and ratings, companies developing advanced nuclear technologies would need to commit resources to producing and reporting ESG- relevant data typical of more mature organizations. Actions could include creating an advisory guide for advanced nuclear companies to support ESG data reporting and creating an example of ESG data reporting for an advanced nuclear company or project.

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