In the newly released 2023 edition of The World Nuclear Supply Chain report, the World Nuclear Association recommends a number of actions to ensure that the international supply chain remains “suitably robust, competitive, and adaptive to meet the anticipated need for long-term operation and new nuclear build.”
The fifth edition of the report provides a market-oriented view that focuses on opportunities and challenges related to nuclear-grade structures, systems, components, and services. Evaluated are supply chain considerations ranging from large-scale reactors to small modular reactors to reactor refurbishment.
Recommended actions: According to the WNA, governments and the nuclear industry need to work together on the following actions, which prioritize supply chain sustainability and agility:
- Enact government policies that signal long-term support for nuclear energy infrastructure and incentivize investment in nuclear projects and in supply chain capacity and capabilities.
- Streamline processes for licensing nuclear power plants and encourage the development of international fleets of standard reactors.
- Harmonize technical regulations and supplier requirements by increasing industry and regulatory collaboration, and ensure that licensing and supply chain oversight activities are streamlined.
- Simplify procurement models to give suppliers a greater line of sight of tenders, help them participate in project offerings, and develop standardized procurement frameworks and more cooperative contracting models.
- Use analyses of recent nuclear power plant construction projects as a baseline for developing a stronger and more agile supply chain, including codes of conduct and best practices.
- “Provide reasonable assurance that a commercial grade item to be used in a safety system or mission-essential facility meets specified requirements.”
- Educate the finance community about the sustainability of nuclear energy and encourage nuclear companies to embed ESG (environmental, social, and governance) principles within their supply chains.
- Perform comprehensive supply chain readiness analyses for nuclear new build and long-term operation demand, capability, and capacity.
- Promote collaboration to fill gaps and mitigate bottlenecks across projects and suppliers.
- Promote government and public-private research and innovation programs on enabling technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, digital services, advanced manufacturing, and modular construction services.
Investment: The 2023 edition of the report emphasizes that nuclear expansion is needed to meet global net-zero climate, energy security, and sustainability targets. It notes that its recommended actions will require “a sustained and coordinated investment in the global nuclear supply chain.”