Global Forum on Innovation for the Future of Nuclear Energy
The first Global Forum on Innovation for the Future of Nuclear Energy took place in Gyeongju, Korea, on 10‑13 June 2019, organised jointly by the NEA, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) and the United Kingdom National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). The event brought together a selective group of key stakeholders in the nuclear field who participated in interactive discussions on accelerating nuclear innovation. On the first day of the forum, NEA Director‑General William D. Magwood, IV participated in a panel session to make a baseline status update on innovation in the nuclear sector. On the second day he chaired a roundtable on regulatory insights, during which several high‑ranking regulators discussed the role of nuclear regulatory authorities in fostering innovation. During this session, Dr Fiona Rayment of the NNL joined Director‑General Magwood to launch a new summary of the outcomes of the NEA Nuclear Innovation 2050 (NI2050) initiative. The two and a half day forum concluded with the elaboration of a short list of follow‑up actions. The next Global Forum for Nuclear Innovation will take place in the United Kingdom in 2020, hosted by the NNL.
Human capital and knowledge management in nuclear
The availability of skilled staff is a cornerstone of the sustainability of the nuclear energy sector both in countries already operating nuclear facilities, and those introducing nuclear power or dismantling plants. The NEA, the IAEA, and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) held a joint workshop on 5 June 2019 to discuss common human capital and leadership challenges. The workshop discussions focused on human capital in the context of both operating nuclear power plants and new builds, keeping in mind that these human capital issues impact equally the whole nuclear life cycle from research and development, to refurbishment projects, decommissioning and dismantling, waste management as well as the supply chain. As a result of this workshop, the three organisations will consider where and what additional efforts are needed in order to attract, hire, retain and develop a talent base, and ensure the safe and effective use of nuclear energy and technology.
Nuclear energy in the spotlight at the 10th Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver
The NEA participated in the Tenth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM10), which was hosted by the Government of Canada on 27‑29 May 2019. NEA Director‑General Magwood provided a keynote presentation at the NICE Future initiative side event Breakthroughs: Flexible Nuclear Energy Systems in a Clean Energy World. During his speech, he highlighted the role of nuclear energy within the context of clean energy systems of the future. During this event, the International Energy Agency (IEA) launched a new report entitled Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System, which concludes that nuclear power can play an important role in clean energy transitions around the world. The event also showcased the NICE Future initiative's Breakthroughs: Nuclear innovation for clean energy systems, a collection of stories about nuclear innovations and how they enable clean energy systems. Dr Sama Bilbao y León, Head of the NEA Division of Nuclear Technology Development and Economics, provided insights on the flexibility of nuclear systems at the side event Dispatchable Clean Energy: Cutting the Cost of a Low‑Emissions Future (CEM).
IEEJ/APERC Joint International Energy Symposium
The NEA participated in the 4th IEEJ/APERC International Energy Symposium, which was held in Tokyo, Japan on 17 May 2019. Jointly organised by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ), and the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre (APERC), the event focused on three questions: 1) How can we maintain good energy governance under uncertain geopolitical developments? 2) What will be an appropriate energy mix for the energy transition? 3) What policies, corporate strategies and changes in awareness are needed to combat climate change? NEA Director‑General Magwood gave a presentation on the future role of nuclear power in the global energy mix. During his presentation, he emphasised that all low‑carbon technologies, including nuclear energy, are needed in order to meet global energy and environmental requirements, and must be applied in an optimised fashion.
SOAS University of London visits the NEA
Students and faculty from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, visited the NEA on 7 June 2019 to learn about the Agency, its role in the international nuclear energy arena and its work on the economics of nuclear power. NEA Director‑General Magwood and Senior Economic Advisor Jan Horst Keppler discussed with the students the true costs of decarbonisation and the electricity systems that will enable countries to meet carbon emission goals in the most cost‑effective manner.
Safety of nuclear installations
The NEA Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) held its biannual meeting on 6‑7 June 2019. In the context of its programme of work, the committee approved new reports, including a report on the behaviour of pre‑stressed concrete reactor containment subjected to ageing effects, and a report summarising the status of probabilistic safety assessment (PSA) developments for multi‑unit sites. A particular highlight of the meeting was the update and discussion on the status of key research facilities required to support the safety of nuclear installations. In that vein, the committee took note of the NEA's initiative to establish a new multinational framework for in‑pile fuel and materials testing.
Nuclear regulatory activities
At its biannual meeting on 3‑4 June 2019, the NEA Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA) discussed and approved the release of a report on regulatory perspectives on analytical codes and methods for advanced reactors, and a report on a country‑specific communication case study from Switzerland. The committee reviewed the status of international activities in support of small modular reactors and decided not to undertake any dedicated activities in this area at this time. Based on the topical discussion on ageing management and long‑term operation held at its December 2018 meeting, the committee concluded that ongoing activities conducted by the CNRA working groups and the CSNI Working Group on the Integrity and Ageing of Components and Structures (WGIAGE) were sufficient to meet current member country needs. The participants endorsed a proposal to carry out a strategic review of the committee, its programme of work and working methods. The results will be presented at the December 2019 CNRA meeting.
MDEP VVERWG visits the Hanhikivi 1 construction site
The Multinational Design Evaluation Project (MDEP) VVER Working Group (VVERWG) held a meeting on 21‑23 May 2019 in Pyhäjoki, Finland, hosted by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland (STUK) with the support of the Municipality of Pyhäjoki. Mr Matti Soronen of the Municipality of Pyhäjoki opened the meeting by highlighting the importance of the Hanhikivi Nuclear Power Plant for the region. During the meeting, the VVERWG members exchanged updates on each member country's status of VVER design review and construction, and discussed VVER projects. The meeting also featured a dialogue with Fennovoima, the Finnish licensee, on the Hanhikivi 1 project, and concluded with a technical tour of the construction site.
Safety culture of nuclear regulatory bodies
The NEA Working Group on Safety Culture held its annual meeting and task group meetings during the week of 6 May 2019 in Madrid, Spain, hosted by the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council (CSN). The group advanced its ongoing work on examining methods of self‑reflection and self‑assessment of the safety culture of regulatory bodies. The participants discussed interactions with licensees, how best to document existing good practices and materials on training, and practices/approaches on safety culture competence building. They also reviewed the responses to updated surveys on self‑reflection/self‑assessment and competence building. The meetings were followed by a safety culture training seminar organised by the CSN. The WGSC continues to work towards practical products for the enhancement of safety culture within the regulatory body.
The NEA Thermochemical Database (TDB) Project was created over three decades ago as a joint undertaking of the NEA Radioactive Waste Management Committee and the NEA Data Bank. The project involves the collection of high‑quality and traceable thermochemical data for a set of elements (mainly minor actinides and fission products) relevant to geochemical modelling of deep geological repositories. A renewal of the software managing the TDB database was undertaken recently. The newly released tool meets the technological standards of modern thermochemical databases and, most importantly, provides the data in a ready‑to‑use format for PHREEQC. All the new features, as well as the conceptual and technical structure of this new robust architecture, are described in detail in an article published in Applied Geochemistry Volume 107. Read the article here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0883292719301258.
The next edition of the NEA course on Thermodynamic Data Collection and Assessment, will take place on 14 September 2019 in Kyoto, Japan, in conjunction with the International Conference on the Chemistry and Migration Behavior of Actinides and Fission Products in the Geosphere. This one day training session is designed to familiarise scientists with current NEA TDB activities and standards, provide an overview of data collection and analysis techniques, and work through some real system examples to demonstrate the critical evaluation and data assessment process. For more information on the course and to register, please visit: www.oecd-nea.org/dbtdb/courses/tdb2019/
An online archive of previous editions is available here.
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