Updated: Jan 10
Today is World Nuclear Energy Day, a day celebrated by people around the globe who recognize the virtues of nuclear energy and the positive impact it has in shaping our society.
It is also the day that we celebrate all of the professionals who support the nuclear energy sector for their brilliance, passion, and dedication—all of which are key drivers of success in our industry.
Nuclear history 101
This day has historic significance and was selected to commemorate two important events in nuclear history: the first day a self-sustaining neutron chain reaction was ever recorded as well as the startup of the first commercial-scale power reactor.
Enrico Fermi’s first research reactor, named the Chicago Pile-1, became the first to create a self-sustaining chain reaction on December 2, 1942. And in 1977, exactly 15 years later on that same day, the world’s first commercial, grid-scale reactor went critical in Shippingport, Pennsylvania.
Advocating for a clean energy future
World Nuclear Energy Day aims to raise awareness around the benefits of nuclear energy. A day where those of us in the industry speak up and advocate for the benefits of nuclear.
And speak we must. This is our moment to act—and there is no time to spare.
According to the world’s leading climate scientists, we are approaching the point of no return. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its landmark report in August, warning us that some climate change trends are now irreversible.
However, the silver lining in that report states that there is still time to limit climate change if we act quickly enough to significantly reduce carbon emissions.
And on November 22nd, the United Nations officially recognized nuclear power as the lowest-carbon energy source available today.
Announcements like this provide us with the perfect opportunity to continue conversations about the benefits of nuclear, dispel misconceptions and reshape the narrative.
Proud of our progress
Nuclear has reached a turning point where the numbers of people supporting it and advocating for its benefits are reaching a critical mass.
Since I began my career in nuclear 12 years ago, public perception has always been a challenge—but today the awareness and conversations around nuclear have progressed and the changes I've seen have been remarkable.
There has been increasing recognition amongst the public and policy makers about the low-carbon and high reliability attributes of nuclear power.
But recognition simply isn’t enough. The goal must be to ensure it is the first choice and not a last resort.
Today I am proud to stand alongside of my fellow Canadian nuclear industry colleagues and celebrate this day at the World Nuclear Exhibition—a platform dedicated to the entire nuclear energy sector for sharing, sourcing, and doing business on a global scale.
During her speech at the event, Sama Bilbao y Leon, President of the World Nuclear Association, stated that the “the nuclear industry must build on the momentum of today to remove the remaining barriers that nuclear energy faces.”
The future of nuclear is bright and the promise of a nuclear renaissance is real. We need to seize our moment and work together to capture this opportunity. An opportunity that unlocks the true potential of nuclear in our clean energy future.
From us to you, happy World Nuclear Energy Day!
Written by Susie Ho, former Senior Advisor at the Nuclear Innovation Institute.