Since its inception, the NEA has provided a highly flexible and powerful platform for multinational research co-operation, particularly in areas related to providing understanding and insights needed to improve global nuclear safety. For decades, the projects conducted under NEA's auspices have enabled nuclear safety regulators, industry and research organisations from NEA member countries, as well as from non-NEA member countries, to share research costs and results, results which have informed safety regulations, practices and facilitated safety harmonisation around the world.
The NEA Nuclear Safety Research Joint Projects Week was established to recognise the many accomplishments achieved by the international community in the course of these projects over the last four decades. High-level panels and a series of technical sessions reviewed the main benefits of NEA safety research joint projects and discussed how the established framework, research platforms and networks could support future developments in the nuclear energy sector, thereby facilitating innovation and greater harmonisation.
This workshop brought together stakeholders from the nuclear energy sector, including regulators, representatives from technical support, research and international organisations, as well as industry representatives to share views on research frameworks, platforms and competences needed in order to maintain or develop future collective nuclear safety research in the nuclear energy sector. Based on the experience gained through NEA safety research joint projects, workshop participants also shared recommendations for the development of future collaborative international research ventures at the NEA to support innovation.
The objective of this workshop was to review the experience gained in the last 40 years of NEA nuclear safety research joint projects with close to fifty projects successfully completed. Event participants discussed the benefits of the development of technical bases for the demonstration of safety and reflected on how safety research joint projects contributed to shaping the collective intelligence that connects the industry, regulators and research organisations on key safety aspects. Participants also exchanged on how to preserve key research facilities and key competences currently at risk that contribute to the education of young researchers, as well as the production of high quality data sets for safety codes development and validation; most of these data sets being available to NEA member countries through the NEA Data Bank.
The event also provided a forum to discuss maintenance and evolution of the established frameworks, research platforms and networks to open up opportunities for supporting the continued safe operation of nuclear power plants and to ease the licensing process of new reactor designs and systems, including small modular reactors (SMRs) and innovative safety systems. In particular, different technology developers, technical and scientific support organisations (TSOs) and experimental researchers operating research facilities discussed areas for co-operation and resource sharing for experiments, code validation activities and related competences.
The workshop was organised in three main streams:
The workshop addressed the following challenges:
Recommendations and proposals for enhancing the efficiency and benefits of projects for the nuclear sector were put forward in five main directions:
The NEA, with the support of its technical committees, will propose concrete actions to progress in these directions and to continue with projects that bring benefits to the nuclear sector.
More information about the NEA joint projects: