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Industry Executives Discuss Future of Nuclear Electricity Generation

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The new Technical Working Group on Nuclear Power Plant Operations will bring together senior industry executives to share management challenges and leadership perspectives in the nuclear industry. (Photo: EDF)

While 30 Member States are considering, planning, or starting nuclear power programmes and 55 nuclear power reactors are under construction across the world, in recent years, a number of nuclear power plants have been shut down, even though many still have adequate time remaining in their licensed lifetime. In many of these cases, economic factors have been cited as the primary reason for premature shutdowns.

Providing a platform for industry executives to address these challenges, the IAEA’s new Technical Working Group on Nuclear Power Plant Operations, met for the first time on 13-14 September to share management challenges and leadership perspectives in the nuclear industry. Senior executives of operating organizations will suggest strategies and mechanisms for resolving challenges faced by power plants.

The establishment of the technical working group responds to several requests from Member States. In the last two years, General Conference resolutions and recommendations from advisory bodies have recommended strengthening IAEA assistance to operating power plants. In its 2016 report to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, the IAEA’s Standing Advisory Group for Nuclear Energy (SAGNE) recommended to provide a platform to foster peer-to-peer networking and collaboration among top managers in operating organizations.

The technical working group will be collecting and evaluating legislative, economic and technical issues, while synchronizing global strategies to ensure best practices for the safe and efficient operation of power plants. For timely and effective IAEA assistance to operating power plants, as well as using IAEA resources efficiently, it is necessary to provide a common platform for leaders of utilities to reflect their needs and challenges to the IAEA, which can provide unbiased, reliable, objective and authoritative support, said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy.

Developing common strategies

“As the world’s leading nuclear operator, EDF sees a great interest in this new Technical Working Group,” said Dominique Minière, EDF Group Senior Executive and Vice President of Nuclear and Thermal Operations. “This working group provides us with a good opportunity to develop common strategies to tackle the similar challenges utilities across the world are facing and to get full IAEA support in this regard.”

The working group will make recommendations on: (i) optimizing impact and value for industry and society, (ii) establishing a vision for sustainability, and (iii) highlighting national, regional, and global energy and electricity policies, in order to align and prioritize IAEA activities, to help industry efforts and strategies.

Industry executives agreed that such collaborative work is necessary to maintain and sustain nuclear energy’s contribution to national energy mixes. It is equally vital in ensuring that Member States meet climate change targets and energy security with the reliable and efficient operation of existing nuclear power plants, as foreseen by leaders and executives of these plants.

“Let me paraphrase what Director General Amano said at the Board of Governors this Monday: without using the full potential of nuclear power, it will be difficult for the world to achieve sustainable development and mitigate climate change,” Mr Chudakov said at the event.

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