On Friday 29 January 2021, SNETP and FORATOM participated in a virtual meeting with the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel to exchange on the challenges and opportunities of nuclear energy.
Bernard Salha, President of SNETP and Yves Desbazeille, Director General of FORATOM, presented some key facts about the nuclear energy industry:
- Nuclear provides today 50% of decarbonised EU electricity
- It contributes €100 billion euros annually to the EU economy and provides over 1 million jobs in the EU: https://www.foratom.org/press-release/investing-in-low-carbon-nuclear-generates-jobs-and-economic-growth-in-europe/
- It is a key technology to meet the objective of carbon neutrality by 2050
- Nuclear is a versatile technology and can also be used to produce hydrogen and for district/industrial heat
During the virtual discussion, SNETP and FORATOM highlighted the crucial role research and innovation plays in nuclear energy to strengthen safety, performance, dismantling, waste management; to facilitate the implementation of new reactors and the technologic innovations; and to ensure long-term solutions for high-level waste. In this sense, the Euratom programme budget for 2021-2027 (with a ~20% cut compared to the previous programme) shall be complemented by creating cross-sectoral collaboration with Horizon Europe, Digital Europe and others in order to be able to meet the share of nuclear in the EU energy mix by 2050.
Both organisations proposed seeking synergies between the Euratom programme and Horizon Europe, Health Europe, Digital Europe, Space and Hydrogen. In particular, the president of SNETP pointed out that research can make a substantial impact in medicine (security of supply of radioisotopes), digital (with special emphasis of artificial intelligence), hydrogen (high temperature electrolysers could be coupled to High Temperature Reactors to produce carbon-free Hydrogen) and district heating (how to decarbonise heat networks that are using coal power stations).
Mariya Gabriel acknowledged the “technology neutral” characteristics of a lot of R&D&I activities, the important role of nuclear in the European energy mix as a carbon-free source of electricity and agreed to look out for synergies. As a result of the meeting, all parties agreed to organise a high-level workshop in the upcoming months.
You can consult HERE the letter that SNETP and FORATOM have sent to the Commissioner to thank her for the fruitful exchange and highlight the need for significant efforts in R&D&I to support nuclear energy and facilitate a rapid and cost-efficient transition to a low-carbon society.