A new report produced by the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), and the IAEA examines the scope of international cooperation, and opportunities for collaboration, to develop the next generation of nuclear power plants.
The result of a joint project known as the "Three Agency Study", the report reviews specific reactor design proposals. The aims were to identify how they are addressing the challenges facing nuclear power and to examine the underlying "enabling" technologies that might constitute fruitful areas for research collaboration. Projects reviewed involve organizations in Russia, Argentina, Japan, China, Republic of Korea, Canada, United States, South Africa, and Europe. Entitled Innovative Nuclear Reactor Development - Opportunities for International Co-operation, the report looks at six specific characteristics of enhanced performance -- safety; economic competitiveness; proliferation resistance and safeguards; waste management; fuel efficiency; and flexibility of application -- of reactor technologies under development.
While a range of innovative reactor technologies exist for countries interested in pursuing the nuclear option, "further collaboration...is warranted," the report states, citing benefits in terms of both cost and time to develop new technologies. It offers five recommendations for enhanced cooperation: making better use of available experience; increasing cross-fertilization of ideas among the various reactor designers; taking greater advantage of components and technologies developed in other industries; increasing cooperation in research and development; and expanding the analyses of innovative reactors to a broader set of designs.
In publishing the report, the IAEA, IEA and NEA said that the joint study can benefit the current international discussion on innovative nuclear technology. It is is being distributed to participants of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) and the IAEA International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO), two global initiatives for the development of advanced nuclear power plants.