NEA launches new initiatives in nuclear innovation
NEA is organising two workshops focused on the need to bring more innovation into the nuclear energy sector. The first event is the NEA Workshop on Innovative Financing: Towards Sustainable Nuclear Financing, which will be held on 6‑7 April 2020 in Warsaw, Poland, hosted by the Polish Ministry of Energy and organised in collaboration with the Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre and the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC). This first‑of‑its‑kind workshop will bring together experts from the nuclear energy and financing sectors to discuss approaches for financing sustainable, large infrastructure projects with a focus on nuclear new build.
The second event is the KAERI/NEA International Workshop on Disruptive Technologies for Nuclear Safety Applications, which will take place on 19‑20 May 2020 in Jeju Island, Korea. This workshop will gather experts from within and outside the nuclear sector to exchange insights on the potential for disruptive technologies to have a positive impact on the construction and operation of nuclear power plants.
These efforts will culminate in the 2020 Global Forum on Innovation for the Future of Nuclear Energy on 4‑7 October 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Organised in partnership between the UK National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), EDF Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the NEA, this event will build on the outcomes of the workshops highlighted above and the 2019 Global Forum. The report summarising the 2019 Global Forum, which took place in June 2019 in Gyeongju, South Korea, is available here.
CNSC President Rumina Velshi visits the NEA
The NEA was pleased to welcome Ms Rumina Velshi, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), at its headquarters on 17 January 2020. President Velshi shared her perspectives on leadership, culture and diversity in nuclear safety, as a featured speaker in the Insights from Leaders in Nuclear Energy series. Her speech was followed by a wide‑ranging conversation with NEA Director‑General Magwood and staff on innovation, safety culture, capacity building and gender balance in the nuclear sector. "Safety comes first, now and always," President Velshi said. "Good safety drives good performance so we must regularly seek feedback from our employees because safety culture is an ongoing journey and is a vital part of building trust."
Collaboration with universities across the globe
The NEA held an exploratory meeting in July 2019 with faculty from universities that are home to leading research and education programmes in nuclear science and technology. Following this meeting, the participating university representatives identified four strategic areas of importance for the future of nuclear education, science, technology and policy: i) defining the future of nuclear engineering education; ii) rethinking the relationship between nuclear energy and society; iii) identifying ways of revitalising innovation in the nuclear sector to improve the future competitiveness of nuclear energy; and iv) achieving gender equality in nuclear technology and academic workforces. A second meeting was held at the NEA on 23‑24 January 2020 to present, discuss and further develop white papers on each of these four strategic areas. The NEA is now working with the participating universities to develop a formal mechanism for sustained collaboration in order to establish best practices, facilitate shared activities and stimulate joint research initiatives.
NEA Workshop on Optimisation: Rethinking the Art of Reasonable
The heart of the system for radiological protection is optimisation, i.e. the search for the "best" protection for a given circumstance. Many experts in the radiological protection community have noted that protection choices are often made considering mostly radiological aspects rather than the broader social, economic and cultural issues that may be affected by the situation and the choice of protection measures. While prudence due to the uncertainty of radiological effects is understandable, addressing only radiological effects can lead to a "minimum" solution rather than an "optimum" solution, resulting in an unbalanced use of resources and unexpected non‑radiological consequences.
To address this issue, the NEA held the "Workshop on Optimisation: Rethinking the Art of Reasonable" on 13‑15 January 2020, hosted by the Portuguese Institute of Oncology and the Centre for Nuclear Sciences and Technologies (C2TN) in Lisbon, Portugal. The workshop attracted 86 experts from 22 countries who exchanged experiences and identified approaches to better achieve protection outcomes. NEA Director‑General William D. Magwood, IV, when opening the meeting, emphasised the importance of considering all aspects of a given situation such that protection measures address "well‑being" in broad sense. Workshop conclusions and recommendations will be shared with the NEA community in order to help the membership rationalise optimisation choices, and to contribute to the evolution of the system of radiological protection.
Radioactive waste management
New Working Party on Information, Data and Knowledge Management
The recently-established NEA Working Party on Information, Data and Knowledge Management (WP‑IDKM) held its kick‑off meeting on 15‑17 January 2020. The meeting brought together 34 participants representing 26 organisations from 11 NEA member countries and the European Union (EU). The participating working group members agreed to create subsidiary ad hoc expert groups in four working areas: i) safety case, ii) knowledge management, iii) archiving, and iv) awareness preservation. These ad hoc expert groups will be launched later in 2020.
Nuclear development and economics
Economic aspects of the long‑term operation of nuclear power plants
The NEA Ad Hoc Expert Group on Maintaining Low‑Carbon Generation Capacity through Long‑Term Operation of Nuclear Power Plants (EGLTO) held a meeting on 14‑16 January 2020 to review its forthcoming report. The EGLTO was established in 2018 to perform a holistic assessment of the long‑term operation of nuclear power plants with a particular focus on technical, policy and economic aspects. The group's forthcoming study analyses the role of long‑term operation of nuclear power plants from a decarbonisation policy viewpoint. It also addresses operational issues related to nuclear skills shortage and supply chain considerations. The report will be issued later this year and complement the recently‑released NEA report The Legal Frameworks for Long‑Term Operation of Nuclear Power Reactors.
Nuclear science and data
Resumption of NEA Data Bank Services to non-NEA/OECD Countries
Following a six-year pause and pursuant to an agreement constituted by the NEA and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the NEA Data Bank has resumed the distribution of its nuclear computer codes and processed nuclear data libraries to the IAEA member states that are not NEA, NEA Data Bank and/or OECD members. As part of the agreement and in support of the initiative, the IAEA has stationed a Liaison Officer at the Data Bank since December 2019 who will facilitate the resumption of the service. The Data Bank distributes requested materials to non-NEA/OECD countries in accordance with dedicated rules and restrictions, akin to the service provided to its participating countries. The resumption of Data Bank services to non-NEA/OECD countries will increase co-operation between the NEA and the IAEA, and be mutually beneficial for both agencies.