Changing Business Culture: The Possible Impact on the Nuclear Industry in 2021

It is very clear, 2021 will be unique and challenging with many twists and turns to keep us all interested in trading opportunities. COVID-19, Brexit, the political changes in the US and strategic election in Europe being just a few of the high-level factors that will influence business decisions. None should be considered as unduly negative.

Recent Changes

COVID-19 is been seen by many as creating a seismic change in ways of business with the greater use of technology and distance communications. When can we look forward to ‘normality’ returning? Even with the global vaccine roll-out it is impossible to see meaningful take-up within the general populations before Q3 2021. Each country will make its own decision to enable social mixing, and with the unknown efficacy of the vaccine to minimise the impact of COVID variants, business should not expect any general national domestic relaxation before Q4 2021.

The business impact is challenging, particularly informal inter-company networking and the inability to target promotion of goods and services through face-to-face discussions at conferences and exhibitions. A return to more formal advertising and promotion will be essential, however getting messages across the marketplace will not be easy. For the Client however, who has a ‘unique’ issue, exploring possible embryonic solutions from the global marketplace without creating an undue expectation of award will be difficult. Trying to explain the issue through a formal enquiry process is difficult and therefore the easy option is to restrict dialogue to the same old partners. Potential cost and schedule implications are huge.

Impact on Nuclear

What does this mean for the global nuclear industry? For the New Build market – Probably Nothing! Saudi Arabia’s decision to reduce oil delivery, increasing the price of oil to over $55/b, coupled with the increasing impact of global warming are very positive messages for the New Build sector. The general cost of energy is stable providing a sustainable business decision-making platform.

Interestingly, whilst wind-power is considered by some to be a cheaper alternative, some 200 turbines are required for each 1600MW nuclear generator. Also, nuclear output per square meter of land used is over 1000 time greater than that of wind generation, minimising the adverse effects of land resource. Solar power is even worse.

For the Nuclear Demolition Sector (otherwise known erroneously as Decommissioning) the COVID impact will be more marked. Whilst the applied technologies are well known, the challenges are more varied and the decision-making impact on inter-related systems potentially greater. Consequently, there is a perceived greater need for dialogue amongst larger teams; not so easy to perform remotely. The solution explored during a ‘30 second’ chat by the coffee machine maybe a thing of the past.

Political change is endemic and hopefully nothing too catastrophic will materialise during the remainder of 2021.

About the Author

John Ireland is an internationally experienced energy specialist and senior business executive skilled in the development, negotiation, and management of businesses and technically complex contracts within both the Government and private sectors. John has grown complex businesses in Asia and the Middle East, and assisted international organisations to develop business in and from the UK through joint ventures and partnerships.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy, infrastructure and natural resources sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and other technical experts.

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