The United States, Canada and Japan are leading a groundbreaking effort that combines the newest technologies in nuclear power with renewables, such as wind and solar.

“Nuclear energy’s vitally important but under-recognized contributions to clean air are made even greater by constant innovation,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said at the launch of “Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future” at the Clean Energy Ministerial in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Already, Argentina, Poland, Romania, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom have joined the campaign to integrate nuclear with renewables, and more countries have indicated interest.

Nearly one-third of the world’s emissions-free electricity comes from nuclear energy. In the United States, nuclear power produced 56 percent of the U.S.’s total clean energy between 1995 and 2016, preventing the release of more than 14 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

Smaller, safer and affordable

The initiative spotlights new technologies that are already in the pipeline, including:

  • Cutting-edge reactor designs that are smaller and safer. In emergencies, a passive cooling system shuts down the reactor automatically, without needing human intervention or a backup energy source.
  • Advanced fuels that can withstand extreme temperatures without melting. These accident-tolerant fuels improve the safety of nuclear energy.
  • Advances in design manufacturing, namely 3D printing, that can develop nuclear components, saving both time and money.

“Nuclear energy has finally been accepted on the world stage as a clean energy source through its integration with renewable energy,” said Sarah Lennon, an official at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Hiroko Kikuchi, a Japanese energy official, said the initiative “brings the world’s knowledge on nuclear innovation together.”

Samuelle Menard, an official with Natural Resources Canada, said, “Nuclear energy will continue to make an important contribution in the global transition to a low-carbon future.”