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‘Newcomer’ Countries Explore Resource Requirements for Developing Nuclear Power Infrastructure

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Group session at the IAEA Technical Meeting on Resource Requirements for Infrastructure Development, held on 14–18 October 2019 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo: E. Dyck/IAEA)

Understanding and estimating the resources needed for developing the required national infrastructure is a challenge for countries embarking on a new nuclear power programme. It is also of interest to countries expanding an existing nuclear power programme. Resource requirements are influenced by country specific factors such as political commitment, regulatory approach and partnerships with experienced countries, participants in an IAEA meeting heard.

“The bulk of the required resources fall on the owner/operator of a nuclear power plant, since the biggest single component is training staff for the plant’s operation,” explained Stephen J. Mortin, a nuclear energy expert from the United Kingdom, who chaired the recent IAEA Technical Meeting on Resource Requirements for Infrastructure Development. “The initial phase of programme development requires a relatively small amount of the total resources, only about 2%. However, there are some resource intensive key activities in the second phase for the regulatory body to complete.”

Resource intensive activities include developing the regulatory framework, conducting siting assessments, developing and agreeing on contracts for the nuclear power plant project, reviewing licensing applications and overseeing construction, although differences exist between countries.

However, some activities that are less resource intensive may nonetheless be crucial to shaping a programme’s future, Mortin said. As examples, he cited the need to define policies for nuclear power or engage stakeholders.

For the past three years, the IAEA has gathered and analyzed data from Member States for inclusion in a planned IAEA publication on Resource Requirements for Infrastructure Development. IAEA experts presented an overview of these requirements based on the data. They also introduced recent related IAEA publications and demonstrated the IAEA Competency Framework, a database that assists Member States in planning key activities and identifying the required competencies for all phases of introducing a new nuclear power programme.

The IAEA Milestones Approach, a comprehensive methodology used by countries considering or developing a nuclear power programme, served as the basis for the data analysis. This approach comprises three phases, three milestones and 19 nuclear infrastructure issues, as well as three key organizations required for developing a safe, secure and sustainable nuclear power programme: the nuclear energy programme implementing organization (NEPIO); the regulatory authority; and the owner/operator of the nuclear power plant.

The meeting provided a platform for 21 participants from 16 embarking and expanding countries to exchange information and current practices on estimating financial and human resource requirements for nuclear infrastructure development.

Ghana, a country considering nuclear power for its energy mix, presented work on estimating the resources required for future activities in Phase 2 and 3 of establishing the nuclear power infrastructure. “We’ve considered the national policies and also used the IAEA Competency Framework to arrive at the resource estimations for our planned nuclear power programme,” said Seth Debrah, Acting Director of the Nuclear Power Institute in Ghana, which is responsible for the technical work under the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organization, the country’s NEPIO.

Belarus, which is close to operating its first nuclear power plant, presented information on human and financial resources required to develop its nuclear infrastructure. Tunisia, Turkey and Nigeria gave examples of resources expended on particular issues, such as energy planning, human resource development strategy, and stakeholder engagement strategy. Ukraine, with four operating nuclear power plants, provided estimates of resources required to expand its nuclear programme.

“We are overseeing the entire programme development as the NEPIO,” said Pawel Pytlarczyk from the Nuclear Energy Department at the Polish Ministry of Energy. “It is important to indicate from the beginning of the path towards nuclear power what resources are needed to implement the national policy, and how funds can be secured to conduct all the activities necessary for establishing the nuclear infrastructure.”

Participants agreed that the country experiences presented at this and previous meetings, as well as the IAEA data collection and analysis, would be useful to Member States in reviewing their initial assessments. In addition to issuing the planned IAEA publication, participants also recommended that the IAEA develop a database of the resources required for each of the activities, as this would enable national organizations to review and tailor their data for their own situation.

 

The bulk of the required resources fall on the owner/operator of a nuclear power plant, since the biggest single component is training staff for the plant’s operation.
Stephen J. Mortin, Chair of the IAEA Technical Meeting on Resource Requirements for Infrastructure Development

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