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IAEA Holds Training Course on Assessing the Sustainability of Nuclear Energy Systems

Participants from five IAEA Member States attended the IAEA training course on nuclear energy system modelling and assessment using the INPRO methodology, Warsaw, Poland, 17–25 October 2017.

Assessing and modelling the sustainability of a new or evolving nuclear energy system can help Member States in long term strategic planning for a nuclear energy programme as part of a national energy mix. How to conduct such an assessment was the topic of an IAEA training course, hosted by the Polish Ministry of Energy in Warsaw, in October 2017.

Twelve experts from academic, research and nuclear organizations in five Member States with diverse levels of involvement and interest in nuclear energy — Armenia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the Russian Federation — attended the Regional (European) Training Course on Nuclear Energy System Modelling and Assessment Using the INPRO Methodology.  In past years, the IAEA’s International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) and the IAEA Planning and Economics Studies Section had organized similar regional training courses hosted by Morocco in 2016 and by Malaysia in 2015.

“The course programme included both theoretical lectures and hands-on exercises and quizzes in conducting a Nuclear Energy System Assessment, or NESA, with the INPRO methodology,” explained Donald Carlson from the INPRO Section and IAEA Scientific Secretary of the training course. The holistic nature of a NESA covers all reactor types and fuel cycle facilities, over their entire life cycle, ‘from cradle to grave’. “The course programme also addressed the calculation of economic parameters with INPRO’s Nuclear Economic Support Tool, NEST, and assessments of selected INPRO methodology criteria.”

The INPRO methodology is structured around seven key issues that influence the sustainability of a nuclear energy system: safety, economics, proliferation resistance, physical protection (including sabotage prevention), waste management, environment and resources. An additional key aspect is the need for an overarching infrastructure to support all the other pillars of the system. 

“We also trained the participants in using the modelling software MESSAGE to simulate the development of a comprehensive energy system,” said Irej Jalal from the IAEA Planning and Economic Studies Section, who lectured at the training course. “MESSAGE, which stands for Model for Energy Supply System Alternatives and their General Environmental Impacts, helps Member States map out a complete supply chain within the entire energy sector.”

In MESSAGE, data and information on energy technologies and fuels are used to construct energy flows starting from all available resources, for example coal, oil, gas, nuclear and renewables, and leading up to final energy services such as electricity, heat and gasoline. The software allows users to simultaneously analyse a wide range of criteria such as costs, investment needs, supply security, resource utilization and rates for the introduction of new technologies for determining the best combination of options, which may include nuclear energy.

“The presentations, discussions and work sessions provided during the training course gave me a better understanding of nuclear energy systems modelling in MESSAGE and of a NESA using the INPRO methodology,” said course participant Minodora Apostol from the Institute for Nuclear Research Pitesti, Romania.

At the close of the course, participants demonstrated their mastery of the course material by presenting results from their modeling and assessment exercises performed during the work sessions.  

“My expertise in the nuclear safety area and the additional knowledge I’ve acquired here will be very useful for the NESA project that Romania is undertaking and for our contribution to other INPRO activities," Apostol added.


Established in 2000, INPRO is a membership-based project that supports its currently 41 members in their long term planning and collaboration on innovations in reactors, fuel cycles and institutional approaches to promote the sustainable development of nuclear energy.

The knowledge I’ve acquired will be very useful for the NESA project that Romania is undertaking and for our contribution to other INPRO activities.
Minodora Apostol, Institute for Nuclear Research Pitesti, Romania.


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