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Non-nuclear energy


Fission and radiation protection

Towards a European Nuclear Fission Technology Platform

In addition to establishing European research areas, the Euratom programme strives to optimise the use of human resources and experimental facilities involved in nuclear energy research in Europe. The Specific Support Action ENFTP brings together key stakeholders to establish a 'thinktank' that will develop a long-term strategic road map for ensuring a sustainable, safe and economically competitive nuclear fission energy option: an option that will be available for the future European energy portfolio.

Think-tank to recommend road map

Two main tasks for the ENFTP 'think-tank', which will be coordinated by the French nuclear agency CEA, are envisaged. The group will analyse the overall situation for the nuclear research sector that is expected to exist after the Sixth Framework Programme's (FP6) European nuclear fission RTD Programmes have been successfully completed. The main scientific, technological and social challenges that remain for nuclear fission technology will be identified, in particular in the context of the long-term goal of sustainable development.

From this analysis, a recommendation will be made on the best organisational instrument, together with a corresponding road map, that can provide an integrated strategy to ensure that fission nuclear energy will remain an essential component of the energy mix needed for sustainable development of both society and the economy, in Europe and the wider world.

Components of a Nuclear Fission Technology Platform
Components of a Nuclear Fission Technology Platform

Integrating technology and strengthening expertise

The road map that is proposed will address the implementation of a long-term strategic plan to strengthen the existing European science base and expertise by optimal integration of research teams and facilities, optimising the use of existing research infrastructures and creating new infrastructures where needed. It will look at possibilities for integrating scientific and technological advancements dedicated to current nuclear reactors, as well as future (Generation III+ and IV) reactor systems. The expert team will also establish an evaluation process for ranking and selecting the contributions of potential participants in terms of the importance of their respective contributions towards insuring sustainable development of the nuclear fission energy option.

Strategic research agenda implementation

A successful conclusion to the ENFTP action will provide the foundations for developing a Strategic Research Agenda, coordinated at the European level, for ensuring that nuclear fission energy can be generated in a manner that meets the various criteria for sustainable development. It will also give elements for steering the implementation of the Strategic Research Agenda through coherently structured actions on different time-scales.

The project will provide expert advice and recommendations for strengthening the European science base, integrating research teams and RTD tools, optimising the use of existing research infrastructures, and building new infrastructures as needed for establishing a European Research Area in nuclear fission technologies. It will also create mechanisms for supporting trans- European synergy, emphasising, in particular, the creation of a coordinated training and educational system for maintaining and enhancing nuclear engineering competence in Europe. The action will integrate scientific and technological advancements to prepare for a future European Technology Platform dedicated to specific Generation-IV reactor technologies. In addition, it will coordinate RTD in support of geological waste disposal technologies. Finally ENFTP will disseminate the results of all its activities to appropriate policy-making bodies to ensure a common European vision.

Sustaining development The participants in the ENFTP 'think-tank' come from all of the major stakeholder groups, including the research community (both public and private), the nuclear industry (including reactor construction, fuel cycle and waste disposal sectors), electricity utilities (as the end-users of nuclear power plants) and public authorities, both in their roles of regulators and policymakers and as promoters of technology development. This will ensure that public awareness and understanding of nuclear technologies and challenges keep pace with technological developments.

The final report on ENFTP activities will be delivered to the Commission as input for preparing the activities and budgets for nuclear fission activities within the next Research Framework Programme (FP7). Furthermore, the ENFTP participants may chose to distribute the report to politicians and decision-makers in their own countries to help build the consensus towards ensuring that nuclear fission energy and technology retains its proper role in the energy mix needed for sustainable development in Europe.