Five G7 countries in nuclear fuel agreement

17 April 2023

The agreement by Canada, France, Japan, the UK and USA to leverage their civil nuclear power sectors to ensure a stable supply of nuclear fuel for existing and future reactors came as G7 climate, energy and environment ministers concluded a two-day meeting with a promise to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels.

The ministers' meeting was held in Sapporo (Image: Ministry of Environment, Japan)

The war in Ukraine and the increasing impacts of climate change have "fundamentally altered the global energy landscape and accelerated the need for collaboration between like-minded allies," the five nations said in their statement at the Nuclear Energy Forum held alongside the G7 ministers' meeting in Sapporo, Japan. This follows a June 2022 Group of Seven Leaders' Communique which "made clear our collective intent to reduce reliance on civil nuclear and related goods from Russia, including working to assist countries seeking to diversify their nuclear fuel supply chains", the statement notes.

The five nations said they have identified "potential areas of collaboration on nuclear fuels to support the stable supply of fuels for the operating reactor fleets of today, enable the development and deployment of fuels for the advanced reactors of tomorrow, and achieve reduced dependence on Russian supply chains". Collaboration on strategic opportunities in the nuclear fuel cycle supports collective climate, energy security, and economic resilience objectives, the statement notes, and will "establish a level playing field to compete more effectively against predatory suppliers" while strengthening domestic sectors.

UK Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said ensuring "global energy security by using a reliable international supply of nuclear fuel from safe, secure sources" is "one side of the equation - the other is the need to invest in clean, cheap and secure energy sources, and our Powering Up Britain plan will do just that. We must stop being reliant on expensive and imported fossil fuels and focus on smarter energy solutions."

Supporting international cooperation and the nuclear supply chain is one of the actions commended to G7 leaders in a declaration issued by World Nuclear Association and nuclear trade associations from Canada, Japan, Europe, the UK and the USA during the Nuclear Energy Forum.

Fossil phase-out supported

The statement issued by G7 ministers after their two-day meeting expressed "deep concern" about the "devastating impacts" of war in Ukraine including on the environment, which they said is "provoking an unprecedented global energy crisis characterised by high-energy prices, market volatility and disruptions to energy supply".

An "ongoing global energy crisis of unprecedented scale" has worsened economic and social disruptions, health threats and environmental damage, including those caused or exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, the ministers said. The consequences of these challenges are already negatively impacting many regions and countries. "Recognising the current global energy crisis and economic disruptions, we reaffirm our commitment to accelerating the clean energy transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest and recognise the importance of promoting an efficient diversification of supply sources to enhance energy security and energy affordability," they said.

The G7 group includes two countries - Italy and now Germany - that have opted to phase out nuclear energy, but the statement recognised the role that nuclear plays: "Those countries that opt to use nuclear energy recognise its potential to provide affordable low-carbon energy that can reduce dependence on fossil fuels, to address the climate crisis and to ensure global energy security as a source of baseload energy and grid flexibility."

The statement also notes the commitment of the nuclear-using G7 countries to support the development and construction of nuclear reactors, such as small modular and other advanced reactors with advanced safety systems, in line national and international safety and security standards and to build "robust and resilient nuclear supply chains".

"We recall the G7 Leaders' commitment to evaluate measures to reduce reliance on civil nuclear-related goods from Russia and to assist countries seeking to diversify their supplies. With this in mind, we support the establishment of a working group to explore further cooperation. The G7 underlines that the highest standards of nuclear safety and security are important to all countries and their respective publics," the statement notes.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News