The Permanent Representation of Italy to the International Organisations in Paris, together with the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) and the NEA organised a two-day webinar "Research and international dialogue in technology nuclear power - What role for Italy?", on 17- 18 November 2021.
The event was opened by remarks from the Italian Ambassador Antonio Bernardini, NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV, along with ENEA President Gilberto Dialuce.
Ambassador Bernardini noted “What interests us is to understand where research in the nuclear sector is going, and whether there are any options in the future that might allow us to look at safe nuclear energy production in a different way from the past.” Director-General Magwood said “This is a very important initiative…Italian scientists, academicians and engineers are very much involved in the work of the nuclear sector in many different ways. All of us who work in the nuclear sector are children of Enrico Fermi”.
The research and development of innovative technologies – such as small modular reactors (SMRs), Generation IV systems and the way ahead for nuclear fusion – and the perspectives and opportunities for the Italian industry in this context were the focus of discussions on the first day. NEA representatives highlighted the areas where Italy provides a significant contribution to the activities of the Nuclear Science Committee (NSC) and the Data Bank, and mentioned others where increased involvement would be beneficial to both the Italian and the international community.
The presentations on the second day focused on activities related to safety of new reactors and data preservation – areas in which Italy’s role is internationally acknowledged, as highlighted by its contribution to independent verifications such as the PERSEO benchmark exercise for passive systems, co-ordinated by ENEA under the auspices of the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI). Activities related to transient thermal-hydraulics, uncertainty quantification and validation were also presented. Finally, the contribution that Italy makes to the preservation of data for the safe operation of nuclear power plants and for the harmonisation of the methodologies, collection and qualification, was highlighted.
While currently forgoing the consideration of nuclear energy in its energy strategy, Italy produces a large number of nuclear specialists that participate in nuclear science and technology activities throughout Europe and around the world. In addition, Italy, like other advanced countries, has a strong national needs to maintain the competences and skills required for the safe use of nuclear energy applications, such as in nuclear medicine, for decommissioning projects or for developing new technologies. To keep its workforce knowledgeable and create a talent pipeline, Italy is actively participating in the NEA activities related to human resources development and capacity building, such as the NEST Framework and the Global Forum on Nuclear Education, Science, Technology and Policy.
The webinar served to underline the role played by Italy at the international level – through its industry, research organisations, and academia – to strengthen the sustainability of the nuclear sector. The NEA continues to facilitate co-operation to co-ordinate these efforts.