New Nuclear Capital Symposium, Washington D.C.
C5 Capital and the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center co-hosted the US Nuclear Industry Council’s first New Nuclear Capital Symposium (NNC) to discuss the future of New Nuclear Financing in Washington D.C.
The focus of this year’s NNC event was on global trade and financing of large, small modular, and advanced reactors and supporting fuel cycle technologies.
Andre Pienaar spoke in financing considerations for building new nuclear projects, and the West’s responsibility to enable developing nations to adopt new technologies to support their energy infrastructure.
PANEL I: Financing considerations for building new nuclear projects
- André Pienaar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, C5 Capital
- H.E. Mohamed Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation
- Sama Bilbao y León, Director General, World Nuclear Association
- Cosmin Ghita, Chief Executive Officer, Nuclearelectrica
- Rafał Kasprów, CEO, Orlen-Synthos Green Energy
- Jennifer Gordon, Director, Nuclear Energy Policy Initiative, Atlantic Council
Andre Pienaar’s Remarks at the New Nuclear Capital Symposium, Washington D.C., USA.
Q: Andre, when you look at nuclear companies that are in their very early stages what are some of the things that you’re looking for and what are some of the again Financial or otherwise considerations that you see in common?
A: We are experiencing a Renaissance of investment in the nuclear industry today. Record amounts of private capital in the range of four billion dollars was invested last year across a spectrum of innovation, from small modular nuclear companies all the way through to the promise of nuclear fusion.
The current geopolitical climate has driven this urgency of investment: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the extend to which Russia has been weaponizing energy, exposed the vulnerabilities in European energy supplies. Forcing the world’s attention to the importance on energy independence, the destabilization of the energy market brought to light the broad range of investment opportunities in the sector today.
The investment activity that we see in the sector is not limited to private capital, we also see it in the capital markets:
- NuScale has gone public with an extremely successfully SPAC transaction, one of the most successful SPAC transactions on the New York Stock Exchange.
- We have also seen significant cross-border investment: Constellation Energy invested in the Rolls-Royce SMR Consortium in the UK.
- Cameco recently announced the acquisition of Westinghouse.
The destabilization of the energy markets, and the key challenge of the energy transition added to this investment urgency, bringing to light the broad range of investment opportunities in the sector today.
Q: I may be so bold I would venture to guess that although you of course work in the energy policy space, I think you are very much motivated by your keen interest in geopolitics. So when you look at nuclear energy and geopolitics, how do you see them intersect?
A: U.S leadership in the nuclear sector can play a critical role in applying nuclear energy to help lift people out of poverty. We still have a billion people who don’t have access to energy and an even larger percentage who don’t have access to clean energy for cooking purposes. The potential of both small modular nuclear actors and nuclear fusion to help lift people out of poverty and to help drive development across the globe is enormous.
Initiatives like the State Department’s Nuclear Future Package, which is focused on helping developing countries to both access and prepare their economies for nuclear innovation will play a transformative role, which one can compare to President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace Program. With the scale and extent of the nuclear innovation that’s happening now, one can begin to really be imaginative and think out of the box about how one can apply nuclear energy to help end poverty.
This will have a huge geopolitical ripple effect and implications because it’s not only about energy transition and energy security, but it’s really about the West taking our know-how and our knowledge and applying it for the benefit of others.
At the moment there’s a very aggressive state-sponsored sales program in places like Africa being led by the People’s Republic of China and by Russia trying to sell generation three nuclear reactor to developing countries at tremendous capital cost. In the case of South Africa, Russia tried to market a generation three nuclear actor for 80 billion dollars with enormous corruption associated with it. Bringing nuclear innovation to pay on meeting development needs just puts us past those kinds of initiatives and allows us to create new opportunities.