IAEA Infrastructure Meeting: Newcomer and Expanding Countries Face Similar Challenges

8th annual Technical Meeting on Topical Issues in the Development of a Nuclear Power Infrastructure. (Photo: D. Simittchieva/IAEA)

Participants at the 8th annual Technical Meeting on Topical Issues in the Development of a Nuclear Power Infrastructure, held at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna from 4 to 7 February 2014, agreed that strong government support, a firm road map, stakeholder support and financing are key issues for a sustainable new nuclear power project.

The meeting attracted about 100 participants from 41 Member States that are either embarking on a new nuclear power programme or expanding an existing one. They agreed that these two groups of countries shared similar challenges: the need for strong government support and a firm road map for progress. Support from national stakeholders and local communities is essential. Financing is one of the biggest challenges that requires careful management and allocation of the financial risk among the partners of nuclear power project.

Representing government ministries, organizations responsible for nuclear power programme planning in newcomer countries, current and future owner/operator organizations, vendors and technical support organizations, universities and regulatory agencies, the participants agreed that a successful nuclear power programme starts with a strong justification. Different countries may value the nuclear contribution to the energy mix for different reasons, such as security of supply, mitigation of climate change and affordability.

Newcomer countries face challenges in setting up an appropriate legislative and regulatory infrastructure as well as building the institutions needed - with a clear allocation of roles and responsibilities - such as government body, regulator, owner and future operator.

Options for handling a variety of wastes resulting from operating nuclear powers plants need to be addressed early in the project development.

Engaging early with national and local stakeholders and listening to their concerns is essential to create trust and confidence. Many concerns in local communities are of a more general nature, such as how the plant construction will affect the community and the people living near the power plant.

Forming strategic alliances with different partners and utilizing the competencies that are imbedded in the supply chain can be an important means to build capacity. However, this does not replace the need for a competent owner-operator, an "intelligent customer" who can manage the supply chain and fulfil the owner-operator's prime responsibility for safety.

Countries introducing nuclear power are exploring a variety of contractual arrangements concerning engineering and operating competencies. Human resource development remains a priority for embarking and experienced countries alike.

International cooperation is essential to learn from others and gain experience from different success stories and lessons learnt. Participants emphasized that the IAEA has been "the place" for countries to share their experiences, as well as recognized the value of services provided by the IAEA to embarking countries on building nuclear power infrastructure.

Member States consider the IAEA Milestones document to be useful and they provided valuable input to its revision. They also highlighted the importance of IAEA peer review missions for newcomer and expanding countries, including the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) and the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) missions.

The IAEA's annual Technical Meeting on Topical Issues in the Development of Nuclear Power Infrastructure is the main forum for senior managers and experts involved in developing new national nuclear power programmes to meet and discuss challenges and common issues in nuclear infrastructure development.

Last update: 10 September 2014