nucleareurope News

nucleareurope co-hosts event dedicated to nuclear deployment

On 27 April 2024, nucleareurope – together with our Italian member AIN (Italian Nuclear Association) – organised an event entitled ‘Stakeholders’ cooperation for accelerated sustainable nuclear deployment’. This event was held in Turin (Italy) under the umbrella of Planet Week ahead of the G7 meeting. 

In his opening remarks, Stefano Monti (AIN President) provided an overview of the important declarations which have been made in support of nuclear over the past year, including at COP28 & the March 2024 Nuclear Summit. In this respect, he underlined the need for a variety of stakeholders to work together in order to enable a timely deployment of nuclear. 

This was followed by a keynote from Italian Minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, Ministry of Environment and Security of Energy Supply. In his intervention he noted the discussions currently taking place in terms of a potential return to nuclear.  In this respect, he underlined three key aspects to these discussions: legal framework, technology and politics. He made clear that nuclear is essential to achieve decarbonisation goals. He added that given that Italy subsidises all forms of electricity, if the country does plan a return to nuclear, he sees no reason why it would not receive the same support.

Dario Liguti, Director, Sustainable Energy at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) continued with an overview of the work undertaken by UNECE. This includes what needs to be done to achieve carbon neutrality and the support they are providing to Member States in this respect. He presented their Carbon Neutrality Toolkit, which is a technology agnostic tool that aims to identify the different pathways which specific countries can consider.  This work includes a policy brief dedicated to nuclear.  In this respect, he noted that nuclear has one of the lowest carbon and land footprints of all technologies.

Following this series of keynote interventions, nucleareurope’s Legal and International Relations Director Berta Picamal Vicente moderated a session dedicated to ‘Establishing the conditions through consistent and coherent policies that facilitate deployment of nuclear technologies’. During this panel, Massimo Beccarello (Professor, Università Milano Bicocca) focused on integrating nuclear within the current market mechanisms, as well as the cost structure of nuclear. Luca Squeri (MP Forza Italia) provided an overview as to what led to the phase out of nuclear in Italy based on public opposition to nuclear, noting that the situation has now been reversed, with the public becoming more supportive.  This was, in part, linked to the need to decarbonise and to reduce dependence on imports. Giuseppe Zollino (Coordinator for energy and environment, Azione) commented on the various nuclear initiatives at EU level and their potential impact on Italy’s policy. He noted that Italy is very interested in future technologies such as SMRs and GEN IV. But at the same time, he noted the importance of already starting today with existing nuclear technologies. 

Panel 2 focused on the role of nuclear energy in terms of meeting EU energy demand, moderated by Davide Tabarelli (President NE Nomisma Energia). During the panel Sama Bilbao y León (Director General, World Nuclear Association) highlighted that whilst a lot is happening on the innovation side, existing technologies remain a very important tool in tackling the urgent challenges we face today. Daniela Gentile (CEO Ansaldo Nucleare) underlined the important role which Italian companies play in the development of nuclear projects around the world, underlining the strength of the Italian nuclear supply chain. Our Director General, Yves Desbazeille, continued by providing an overview of the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy and the inclusion of nuclear. He noted that this file – whilst not perfect – can pave the way for future improvements and shows the shift which is being seen in favour of nuclear at EU level.  Antonio Gozzi (President, Federacciai) noted that the Italian steel industry is a leader when it comes to decarbonising. They achieved this by electrifying and connecting to hydropower plants. But he noted that one of the challenges in achieving full decarbonisation is having access to a constant supply of low-carbon electricity, something which cannot be provided by renewables alone.  Here he noted that nuclear could be a potential solution, hence why they are engaging in discussions with, for example, EDF on PPAs.  Following on from this, Nicola Monti (CEO Edison SpA) highlighted the fact that the cost of electricity in France is much lower than in Italy is due to choices made 30 years ago, when France invested significantly in nuclear. He made clear that Italy will need nuclear, because a system based on solely on renewables will not be enough. As to which nuclear technology should be used in Italy, he said that this will be up to the market to decide. In his view, what Europe needs to do is build up a European industry for all technologies which we will need in the energy transition, as for some technologies Europe depends heavily on imports from China (eg solar).

The final panel of the day, moderated by Roberto Adinolfi (Chair, Ansaldo Nucleare) focused on capacity building and workforce development. In this respect, Olivier Bard (CEO, GIFEN, France) provided an overview of their MATCH programme which aims to identify future skills needs and how to meet them.  To do this, they worked with French companies active in the nuclear sector to assess the different segments and job types. Based on this work, they foresee a 25% increase in workforce needs. Leon Cizelj (European Human Resources Observatory for Nuclear – EHRON) underlined the fact that over the coming years there will be many people retiring in the nuclear industry. Therefore, there needs to be a focus on encouraging more young people into the sector and providing them with the right training. Following on from this, Gabriel Pavel (President, European Nuclear Energy Network – ENEN) highlighted the different levels of knowledge which are needed, ranging from those building the nuclear power plants of the future and those operating them. Roberto Zanino (Vice-President, CIRTEN) provided an overview of what universities are doing from the education and training side.  In this respect, he noted that over the past couple of years they have seen an increase in the number of students regsitering for relevant Masters courses, most probably due to the crisis in Ukraine and increased attention being given to nuclear. Claudia Gasparrini (European Nuclear Society Young Generation Network) shared her thoughts on what could attract a young engineer to consider a career in the nuclear sector.  In her opinion, greater visibility about nuclear in schools and in the media can help reach out to a broader audience. From a technical point of view, nuclear is attractive – but at the same time the industry needs to be able to demonstrated the good job opportunities on offer. 

In his concluding remarks, Yves Desbazeille highlighted the benefits which nuclear brings: decarbonisation, energy sovereignty, energy independence and competitiveness. In terms of what needs to be done, he summarised this as follows:

  • Establish a clear vision
  • Enable an appropriate EU and national framework (regulatory, legal)
  • Implement conducive policies which will encourage investment
  • Engage with the public engagement 
  • Industry mobilisation

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