News In Context

Nuclear Power’s Growing Role In The Energy Transition

It is no surprise that Transmutex, a Swiss scale-up that uses particle accelerators to transmute long-lived nuclear waste into carbon-free energy, was this week named a 2023 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer. As the drive to slow climate change intensifies, there is growing recognition that the pathway to Net Zero will be faster and easier if nuclear power is part of the solution, according to S&P Global’s 10 Cleantech Trends in 2023.

Recent advances, combined with the impact of the energy crisis, have strengthened political support for a nuclear power revival. On June 7 after much debate the EU Parliament voted in favor of a proposal regarding labeling nuclear power plants as climate-friendly investments.

A flurry of other announcements in June underline how nuclear power– once regarded as a dangerous and undesirable source of energy – is increasingly being seen  as a way for Europe to supplement renewables and gain energy sovereignty.

On June 9 newcleo, a private company  headquartered in London that has raised €400 million, was named the first laureate of the France 2030 program, a €1 billion nitiative of France to support companies developing Small Modular Reactors (SMR). Newcleo has 13 patents on a waste-to-energy reactor technology that can be used to produce energy and, at the same time, burn radioactive nuclear waste from existing nuclear plants that would otherwise be buried underground, ushering in a circular economy for the nuclear energy industry.

Earlier in June newcleo announced it has an agreement to purchase in full S.R.S. Servizi Ricerche e Sviluppo  (SRS), and Fucina Italia (Fucina), according to a press release. Both based in Italy, SRS and Fucina jointly work in the energy and nuclear engineering sector. SRS focuses on the design and engineering of nuclear systems, and Fucina on the manufacturing of these systems. SRS holds a 30% stake in Fucina. The businesses are worldwide leaders in the design and building of nuclear systems deploying liquid lead technology, the technology at the heart of newcleo’s innovation.

Meanwhile, on June 15 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Romanian nuclear utility Societatea Naionala Nuclearelectrica (SNN), U.S.-based NuScale Power, a publicly traded American company that designs and markets SMRs. Romanian companies E-INFRA and Nova Power & Gas, US-based Fluor Enterprises and South Korea’s Samsung C&T Corporation will also collaborate in the deployment of NuScale VOYGR power plants in Central and Eastern Europe and in Romania. Romania aims to be the first country in Europe to deploy a NuScale VOYGR SMR.

Dozens of SMRs and advanced designs (fourth generation) are under various stages of development, supported by public and private funding. Chances are good that demonstration and initial commercial units of some new designs will be built before 2035, according to S&P’s Global report. Substantial volume from advanced designs, if it happens, would come post 2040 at the earliest. These new designs face first-of-a-kind hurdles, including those concerning licensing and supply chains, and costs may not decline fast enough to spur enough orders, according to the S &P Global report.

In Other News This Week:


ETH Zurich Spin-out To Scale Up Solar Hydrogen Energy Solution

Synhelion, a spin-out of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and its partner, University of Florida, announced that their joint project has been awarded US$ 2.7 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), according to a press release. The project aims to accelerate the large-scale development and deployment of concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) technology to produce green hydrogen for industrial decarbonization and electric power generation and storage. Green hydrogen is an important energy vector for the transition to a renewable energy infrastructure. But today, most of the world’s hydrogen is produced from natural gas, a process that, while cheap, does not address the energy and climate concerns of the United States and the world. The project aims to enable large-scale production of green hydrogen from solar energy by leveraging concentrating solar power (CSP) infrastructure and solar heat to split water (H2O) into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). Synhelion’s breakthrough technology delivers high-temperature solar process heat beyond 1’500°C, enabling the decarbonization of industrial processes and the production of sustainable fuels. For this project, Synhelion and University of Florida (UF) will jointly develop a solar reactor powered by high-temperature solar thermal energy to produce hydrogen gas from water and sunlight. The hydrogen produced can then be stored, transported, and utilized on demand, for example in transportation sectors that are focused on decarbonizing their industries.


Cultivated Chicken Passes Key Milestone; New Approach To Cultivated Meat Emerges

The cultured meat industry passed a key milestone in June 2023 – two companies, GOOD Meat and UPSIDE Foods, received approval to begin the commercialization of their cultivated chicken products in the USA. Cultivated meat, or cultured meat, refers to meat products produced from lab-grown animal cells and is proposed as a solution for some of the environmental and ethical issues associated with meat consumption.

With the approval by the USDA in June, the U.S. joins Singapore as the only other country where cultured meat is approved and commercialized. Looking to the horizon, IDTechEx predicts that the next country to approve cultured meat will be in Asia, with South Korea and China being the key contenders. Despite the Netherlands being the home of the world’s first cultured beef burger in 2013, regulatory approval in Europe is unlikely to be next. While tasting cultured meat products is allowed in select European countries, companies will need to secure regulatory approval at the EU level first for commercialization. This is a long and lengthy process.

Meanwhile, AFN reports that armed with $40 million in funding, Los Angeles-based startup Omeat has emerged from stealth with a “simple and elegant solution” to scaling cultivated meat production involving the humane extraction of growth factors and other components from “healthy, living cows.” The company was founded two years ago by tissue engineer Dr. Ali Khademhosseini, a former professor at Harvard Medical School, and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.


Millions More Victims Impacted By MOVEit Hack

The number of victims of the MOVEit hack grew by several million on June 22 after the biggest U.S. pension fund, Calpers, and insurer Genworth Financial said personal information of their members and customers had been compromised. Both said a third-party vendor, PBI Research Services, was affected in a data theft hack, providing a path for the hackers to then steal data from Calpers and Genworth.The MOVEit software is widely-used by organisations around the world to share sensitive data. News reports said information from more than 700,000 Calpers members and retirees was taken. Genworth Financial was harder hit, saying personal information of nearly 2.5 million to 2.7 million of its customers was breached.From U.S. government departments to the UK’s telecom regulator and energy giant Shell, a range of victims have emerged since Burlington, Massachusetts-based Progress Software found the security flaw in its MOVEit Transfer product last month.

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About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.