Nuclear industry news


Industry Leaders Highlight Key Challenges in Nuclear Power Generation in the Next Decade


New strategies, tools and resilient organizations are needed to address the challenges that nuclear electricity generation will face in the next ten years, industry leaders agreed at an IAEA event today.


Dynamic nuclear, environmental and financial policies, as well as evolving energy markets and portfolios that include renewable sources are among the causes of these challenges. Managing costs and maintaining skills and expertise while improving reliability and safety robustness of nuclear power plants will be in focus.


The 5th Nuclear Operator Organization Cooperation Forum, held during the 59th IAEA General Conference, brought together industry executives from Canada, Finland, Japan, the Republic of Korea as well as from the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Nuclear Generation II and III Association (NUGENIA).



The 5th Nuclear Operator Organization Cooperation Forum held during the 59th IAEA General Conference. (Photo: V. Fournier/IAEA) 


“Owners and operators have to establish and maintain a proactive approach if they want to continue producing electricity from nuclear power and doing it safely, reliably and efficiently,” said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy.


“Learning from past experience has become the cornerstone of safe and reliable operation of nuclear power plants,” he said. “However, to earn and to maintain public and regulatory trust, and to operate with excellence, finding and eliminating issues before they emerge is an absolute necessity. This is important not only for safety but also for efficiency and longevity of nuclear electricity generation.”


Operators need to establish human and organizational resilience, which is a relatively new concept for nuclear energy, emphasized Fred Dermarkar, President and CEO of the CANDU Owners Group, Canada. “In addition to reacting to lessons learned from failures or near-misses, projecting ‘the expected’ and being prepared for ‘the unexpected’ will be needed.”


Long term sustainability of the industry requires the transfer of expertise to the next generation of managers and engineers, who need to be attracted to the industry and well trained. They need to receive ongoing training on the new safety management approach that will focus more on skills, knowledge, behaviours and attitudes, beyond simple compliance with requirements.


Controlling costs and maximizing benefits of plant improvements for efficient and long-term operations, such as major plant systems and equipment modifications and modernization are essential, the audience heard. Managing the costs of the supply chain, of ageing facilities and of safety improvements introduced after the Fukushima Daiichi accident requires new approaches. Establishing viable and economic options for long term radioactive waste disposal will also remain a challenge.


“One of the key elements in the next decade will be improved sharing and cooperation among owner/operator organizations and other stakeholders of technology, resources and experience for the safe and efficient operation of nuclear power plants,” said Neil Wilmshurst, Chair of the Forum and EPRI Vice President.


The Nuclear Operator Organization Cooperation Forum, initiated in 2011 as part of the implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety , intends to enhance cooperation among nuclear owner/operating organizations in strengthening the safety and effectiveness of nuclear electricity generation. It offers a platform for senior leaders from the operating organizations and support institutions to identify and share experiences, approaches and strategies influencing safety and performance excellence in the long term.