The ORIENT-NM Workshop was the first milestone in the open dialogue expected between the nuclear materials research community and all relevant stakeholders as they explored the feasibility of a co-funded European partnership.
On 22 and 23 November, the first ORIENT-NM Workshop to explore consensus on a co-funded European partnership (CEP) on nuclear materials was held. In an online format, hosted by the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) in Brussels, it gathered more than 80 participants.
The event reunited official representatives from the European Commission and twelve member states, namely Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal and Romania. Moreover, high-level stakeholders from agencies, research centres and universities also participated, coming from Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine. In total, 20 countries were represented. The attendance list was completed by a few industrialists (EDF, Ansaldo Nucleare, Westinghouse) and one organisation that provides technical support to the regulator (Bel-V), i.e., a TSO.
The introductory speeches were given by the head of the Euratom unit of the European Commission - DG Research & Innovation, Elena Righi Steele; the chair of the ESNII1 pillar of the SNETP2, Roberto Adinolfi (Ansaldo Nucleare); and the Secretary General of EERA, Adel El Gammal. All three supported the idea of a European partnership on nuclear materials and provided helpful advice on setting it up.
Elena Righi Steele insisted on the importance of proposing unifying goals that should find all member states in agreement, both those keen on joining the partnership and those with less strategic interest in it. Roberto Adinolfi clearly described the path to be followed concerning materials to serve current and future nuclear energy needs. Finally, Adel El Gammal stressed the need to take a pragmatic and holistic approach to face the challenge of counteracting climate change, highlighting nuclear energy's role in this endeavour.
The event continued with a two-day discussion guided by the work packages' leaders. Interactive tools were used throughout the workshop to collect input from the participants. The summary of the outcome can be found at this link: http://www.eera-jpnm.eu/orient-nm/filesharer/documents/Deliverables_and_Milestones/Public%20deliverables/ORIENT-NM-D5.5_Public_summary_of_the_1st_workshop-v3.pdf
As a conclusion of this first broad feedback exercise with the project's stakeholders, the ORIENT-NM community evaluates that the input gathered will be critical in defining the single vision that will guide the elaboration of a consistent European SRA on nuclear materials. The Vision Paper will be released to the stakeholders for comments between January and February 2022, while the first draft of the Strategic Research Agenda will be produced ahead of the 2nd ORIENT-NM workshop, which is planned for May 2022.
ORIENT-NM seeks to explore the possibility and critically assess the added value of establishing a Co-Funded European Partnership (CEP) to support the development of a coordinated European research and innovation programme on nuclear materials, positively impacting Europe's competitiveness in the nuclear field at a world scale. For more information, please visit: www.eera-jpnm.eu/orient-nm
Importance of the Project
The transition towards a climate-neutral society relies on a secure and sustainable energy supply. In this framework, nuclear energy has a key role to play, being the second largest source of low-carbon electricity in the world and in Europe, guaranteeing stable and continuous supply at a comparably low cost. Many are the benefits of nuclear energy, from the availability of plentiful resources and their ease of stockpiling to its economic security, reliability, and predictability.
Nuclear materials, the main focus of ORIENT-NM's project, represent a key element for nuclear energy's safety, efficiency, economy, and sustainability. With the ongoing energy crisis and the short-term goals of REPowerEU, the increased greenhouse-gas emissions reduction target set at 55% for 2030, and the long-term goal of the EU to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, governments across Europe are looking for ways to increase supply diversity and reliability without compromising the emissions reduction target. Thus, funding research on nuclear materials and encouraging cooperation between countries on this topic is of pivotal importance not only towards fully sustainable nuclear energy but also for other energy technologies, thereby opening the way to cross-sectorial collaboration.