During the pandemic’s peak, it very quickly became clear that exceptional efforts were being made by some to continue working in unprecedented circumstances. Healthcare workers, shop workers, scientists, those in the emergency services, delivery drivers, public transport workers and others all risked infection to continue doing their jobs. To them, and everyone who put themselves in harm’s way to continue providing essential services to society, we owe a debt of gratitude.
It is now however becoming clear that there were other unsung heroes not immediately obvious at the time. All who work in the nuclear power industry should proudly count themselves among those also deserving of recognition. In many countries nuclear reactors and the personnel who operated them played a crucial role in ensuring electricity supplies were maintained without interruption during the pandemic. Numerous utilities took extraordinary measures to guarantee output continued. Many individuals made sacrifices too, with some staying on site for prolonged periods away from their families to minimise human contact.
Covid-19 was a stress test for every sector, but it was one the nuclear power industry passed with flying colours, demonstrating the depths of its professionalism, dedication and resilience. With decades of experience in coping with and practicing for potential operational challenges, the highly regulated nuclear industry was better prepared than most for such an emergency.
The pandemic created considerable challenges for the nuclear industry, but it coped tremendously well and proved to be extremely flexible, reliable and adaptable. Despite the challenges, last year nuclear power reactors supplied 2553.2 TWh of low-emission and dispatchable electricity, accounting for about 10% of the world’s electricity generation and almost a third of low-carbon electricity generation globally.
As world governments look with increasing interest to the nuclear power industry to help meet ambitious net zero targets, the strength and flexibility it has consistently displayed during the last two years show it is ready to play its most important role yet: facilitating the decarbonisation of economies and the transition to clean energy.