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News Alert

Maintaining safety and progressing toward more sustainable reactors

Brussels, 24 June 2009

Presentations now available

The European Commission is committed to supporting research on safety and increased sustainability of nuclear power plants and on optimising the management of radioactive waste from the nuclear fuel cycle. In this way, research contributes to providing answers to citizens’ concerns regarding the use of nuclear energy in general, and to how this technology can provide safe, sustainable and competitive energy as part of a future low-carbon economy. These were some of the key messages coming from the 7th conference on EU research and training activities in reactor systems and safety, FISA 2009, that ended today after three days of deliberations in Prague. Over 450 experts in nuclear research, including many from outside the EU, met for the biggest ever FISA event. The conference was organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research as a showcase event for on-going research carried out within the Euratom Framework Programme.

Research on reactor systems over the last decades has brought about significant technological progress since the first generation of commercial power reactors half a century ago. Nowadays research is turning its focus to the development of so-called 4th generation reactors, which should be commercially deployed in the next decades. However, research is also continuing to improve the performance and extend the lifetime of existing generation-II and III power plants, while ensuring high levels of safety are maintained. The FISA 2009 conference illustrated how the Euratom Framework Programme in the area of nuclear fission is contributing effectively to all these areas of research as part of a more strategic approach to nuclear research in general in Europe.

Previous Euratom Framework Programmers (FP5 and FP6) set the scene for this more strategic approach. A number of coordination and networking actions identified end-user and common research needs, and key integrated projects and networks of excellence, each with significant EC funding, were launched in the main thematic issues. This long term research effort is continuing under the current Euratom Framework Programme (FP7) with the launch of further key collaborative projects in key topics. In addition, the progress of integration has been taken to the next stage with the launch of Technology Platforms, bringing the main R&D stakeholders together around a common vision for research, development and demonstration.

The first is the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP), launched with the support of the European Commission in September 2007 and gathering together industry, research organisations and other actors around a common vision for future research in the broad field of nuclear systems and safety. The platform’s all-important Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), gathering contributions from some 200 European scientists over a period of 18 months, was unveiled in its final published form at FISA 2009. This is a major achievement for the nuclear research community and marks the start of a more collaborative and integrated approach to research in this field in Europe, of which the Euratom programme is a part.

SNETP also provides valuable input to the Community’s Strategic Energy Technology(SET)Plan, which gathers together the low-carbon technology aspects of the Energy Policy for Europe. In particular, the European Industrial Initiative in sustainable fission, foreseen in the SET-Plan, is closely aligned with the sustainability pillar of SNETP’s SRA.

Presentations from the event

Florian Frank:               +32 2 299 79 34 -
Simon Webster:            +32 2 299 04 42 -

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