“In four years, another conference like this will take place. Let’s make it our commitment that many of the things that we said during these days in Washington needed to be done, are going to be already well under way,” Mr Grossi said in his concluding remarks.
“It is not only the good thing to do. It is what we all need,” he said.
The conference opened in 26 October in Washington DC and hosted high-level talks involving around 800 participants including ministers, senior officials, policy makers and experts from 69 countries.
Mr Grossi told the conference that he had seen new interest in nuclear power from Africa and Asia to the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. Around 30 countries are either embarking on or considering the introduction of nuclear power, in addition to the 32 countries that already operate it.
He said he had hopes for using nuclear energy to tackle major challenges from climate change to sustainable development.
However, the benefits of using nuclear energy do not come “spontaneously”, Mr Grossi said, and added that “deliberate action, the right decisions, the political conviction” are needed to bring the “necessary solutions from nuclear to the problems of the day.”
According to US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm, nuclear is currently the only low-carbon technology which can produce electricity and heat at scale. She said the US believes nuclear should be a part of its domestic long-term energy mix.
“It produces electricity at predictable costs. And it enables the massive expansion of wind and solar by providing dispatchable power and stabilising grids,” Ms Granholm said.
“That makes it an attractive and reliable source of scalable power, which can support economic development, while helping meet the objectives of the Paris agreement and the sustainable development goals.”
William Magwood, director-general of the Paris-based OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), told journalists at the conference that the “levels of enthusiasm” about nuclear energy he has seen in recent years are “much broader and deeper” than at the time of the last IAEA ministerial held in Abu-Dhabi in 2017.
The IAEA International Ministerial Conference in the 21st Century was hosted by the US with the support of the Department of Energy and organised in partnership with the IAEA and the NEA. Previous editions were held in Abu Dhabi (2017), St. Petersburg (2013), Beijing (2009) and Paris (2005).