There is a general consensus on the need for international efforts to develop new nuclear technologies. Establishing some kind of co-operation between existing projects has been discussed and is progressing.
GIF technology goals and INPRO user requirements have many similar or identical statements relating to economics, safety, environment, fuel cycle and waste, proliferation resistance, and sustainability. Approaches for screening and selecting candidate innovative concepts also appear to be quite similar. However, there are some significant differences:
GIF and INPRO have the basis for closer co-operation since the focus of their efforts is different. GIF members are mainly the holders of technologies and GIF is considering very complex technologies. However, INPRO sees Asia as the future market for nuclear, including developing countries, where more simple but reliable systems are needed. INPRO includes members from developing countries and so can better understand their needs and requirements.
The role of innovation as a crucial factor to the future of nuclear was highlighted at the IAEA's International Conference on Innovative Technologies for Nuclear Fuel Cycles and Nuclear Power held in Vienna in June 2003. The chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, stressed the importance of nuclear as part of a diversified energy mix. However, he said there was an underlying conflict between the developing and developed world concerning nuclear power. Many developing countries believed that non-proliferation measures had been used largely to prevent a meaningful technology transfer, he said.
At the IAEA General Conference in September 2003, States adopted a resolution stressing the need for international collaboration in developing innovative nuclear technology and high potential and added value that could be achieved through collaborative efforts. It also stressed the importance of identifying synergies with other international initiatives on innovative nuclear technology development.
It is clear that a more collaborative multinational approach is evolving, though some obstacles remain to be resolved. As developments unfold, co-ordination between INPRO and GIF could soon begin.
Judith Perera has 15 years experience as is a writer, editor and consultant on nuclear energy and related areas. This article is adapted from her report in the January 2004 edition of Nuclear Engineering International. E-mail: JudithPerera@aol.com. For more information on the IAEA's work through INPRO see www.iaea.org/INPRO/