NNWE Briefing Results in Calls for Greater Standardisation of Nuclear Components

The 11th European Nuclear Energy Forum in Bratislava this week was held in the spectacularly situated Hotel Borik. From this hilltop vantage point delegates could gaze out across the Danube and into Austria.

The panoramic views did not produce as much visionary thinking about the future of nuclear power in the EU as some of the participants in NNWE’s well attended side briefing before the Forum might have hoped.

The opening speech by European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and a helpful presentation from Gerassimos Thomas, Deputy Director General DG ENER both recognised the contribution which nuclear can make to meeting the EU’s challenging emissions reduction targets. They both also emphasised that decisions about the energy mix in each EU member state continue to be matters for the governments of the countries concerned, thus leaving the door open for new investment.

In the panel sessions however there was a lot of backward looking discussion and very frequent references to Fukushima. The Hungarian Green MEP Benedek Javor gave a hostile assessment of the role of nuclear and representatives of Nuclear Transparency Watch were much in evidence.

It was left to Jean-Pol Poncelet, Director General of Foratom, to inject some much needed calm but firm balance into the proceedings. He was aided by a measured and authoritative contribution from Jeremy Western which demolished suggestions that Fukushima has any relevance to the safety aspects of potential new build projects in the EU.

 

Almost 50 of the most influential participants in the Forum crowded into a conference room in the Tulip hotel on the afternoon before the Forum to take part in NNWE’s discussion meeting. A constructive debate took place from which a consensus view clearly emerged that the industry must focus on reducing costs. Not surprisingly this led to consideration of greater collaboration between regulators and more standardisation of industrial components.

The significance of these themes will not have been lost on the attendees from the various developers in the room including two of NNWE’s supporters, Kepco and Rosatom, two companies which have demonstrated their ability to deliver new projects on time and generate competitively priced electricity. My main conclusion however after 36 hours in Bratislava, a city which has changed for the better in the 27 years since my previous visit, was that the nuclear industry needs to continue to argue its case in Brussels as vigorously as possible.