Annual IAEA Infrastructure Meeting Connects States Expanding and New to Nuclear Power

DDG Alexander Bychkov opened the meeting, which is held from 4 to 7 February at the IAEA.
(Photo: D. Simittchieva/IAEA)

2014-02-04│More than 100 participants from 41 Member States and the European Commission are attending the Technical Meeting on Topical Issues in the Development of Nuclear Power Infrastructure, which opened at the IAEA today. The four-day meeting is the main annual forum for Member States considering, planning or expanding a nuclear power programme to share their plans and lessons learned about the infrastructure needed for a safe and sustainable nuclear power programme.

This year's meeting focuses on the strategic management of new or expanding nuclear power programmes. The participating managers and senior officials represent national governments, owners/operators, regulatory bodies and other utilities.

"Globally, nuclear power looks set to continue to grow steadily, although more slowly than was expected before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident," said Alexander Bychkov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy in opening the meeting. "Worldwide, four nuclear power plants were connected to the grid last year and 10 new constructions started."

Building or expanding a national nuclear infrastructure is a very complex endeavour and it usually takes 10 to 15 years of multi-disciplinary planning and implementation. In plenary and breakout sessions, participants will discuss key issues such as energy planning, financing, human resource development, legislative and regulatory frameworks, the role of the owner-operator, and involving and communicating with stakeholders. Also, representatives from the United Kingdom are sharing their recent experience with developing new nuclear power projects.

In 2013, several newcomer countries have moved forward with their plans. Belarus started constructing its first nuclear power plant. The United Arab Emirates began the construction of its second unit at the Barakah nuclear power plant. Bangladesh, Jordan, Poland, Turkey and other countries are progressing on the path to nuclear power.

At the meeting, these and several other countries that are considering the nuclear power option will present their current status and national plans. Countries with established nuclear power programmes, such as China, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the USA will share their views and highlight good practices on different aspects of establishing and safely managing a nuclear power project.

"The Agency is committed to supporting Member States with both existing and new nuclear power programmes," added Mr Bychkov. "We offer a set of integrated services through the Department of Nuclear Energy, the main organizer of this meeting." These services include energy planning, review missions to assess a country's national nuclear infrastructure development, and nuclear energy system assessments, as well as human resource development and nuclear knowledge management.

The IAEA is providing 'the place' where countries can meet, share information, discuss their challenges and get advice from other countries that may have just solved the same problem. The annual meeting on nuclear infrastructure development is an effective channel for this type of knowledge sharing.

By Elisabeth Dyck, Department of Nuclear Energy