The European Commission (EC) has launched a new forum for nuclear energy research "to prepare for the future and maintain European leadership in this sector."
The commission said that one-third of Europe's electricity is generated through nuclear energy and it expects "nuclear energy will remain a key element in future low-carbon energy systems." The EC said, "This Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform will allow a new and fully integrated approach to research in Europe, its launch being very timely as the Commission prepares a Strategic Energy Technology Plan for the EU." The forum will bring together researchers and industry to define and implement a strategic research agenda and corresponding deployment strategy.
European Science and Research Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, said, "For those countries that choose it, nuclear power will be a very important part of their solution to security of supply and reduction of greenhouse gases." He added, "It is clear that we need to address two important concerns - ensuring that nuclear power is economically competitive and, more importantly, our duty to make it as neutral as possible in environmental terms and in terms of the legacy we leave future generations. The answer to both these concerns can be found in research: innovation and the next generation of nuclear power plants, with increased safety, efficiency and a significant reduction in nuclear waste as well as sound ways of recycling or storing it."
The European Technology Platform brings together all nuclear energy stakeholders to implement their vision of how the sector should develop in the future, identifying the research needed to make that vision a reality. It will provide expert advice and recommendations to the European Commission and national governments to help define and concentrate the efforts and budgets on priorities agreed at EU level.
Speaking at the launch of the forum in Brussels on 21 September, Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said, "The recognition of nuclear energy as a valid source in a low-carbon energy economy is indeed threatened by a low public acceptance in some countries or even by the refusal of nuclear energy in others, sometimes merely due to a lack of knowledge and transparency." He added, "We now need to come-up with additional efforts to optimise our European research and development, in better co-ordinating, in setting common goals and in having a larger participation and commitment from industry. The obvious advantages of such an improved approach will be to overcome both fragmentation and overlapping activities."
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