Looking back in order to move forward.
The dawning of a new year traditionally ushers in a period of stock taking, of calm and objective analysis. We instinctively assess what we achieved and what we failed to achieve over the past twelve months. This necessary annual ritual forces us to question our methods, identify the lessons to be learned and redefine and restate our objectives for the year ahead. It has a therapeutic effect too, as enthusiasm is rekindled and minds are refocused. Some readers may look back on the year that was and be forgiven for heaving a huge sigh of relief that a line has finally been drawn under what some observers have called the nuclear community’s annus horribilis. The tragic events in Fukushima triggered considered political reaction across Europe. Inevitably, journalists sharpened their pencils, hammered away at their laptops and focused their TV cameras on the nuclear industry with renewed zeal. Such intensified scrutiny was both legitimate and inevitable. A decrease in public acceptance of nuclear - mainly temporary - was equally ineluctable. 2011 was, undoubtedly, a watershed year for the whole nuclear community. The need to look back in order to move forward, a classic symptom of “January syndrome”, seems to be all the more essential now that 2012 is upon us.
While for many Fukushima leaves an indelible imprint on the memory, there were also a number of significant events in 2011 that made their mark. From a political perspective, 2011 was, in many ways, the “Year of the Roadmap,” with the EC publishing its long-awaited Energy 2050 Roadmap and its much-heralded Communication, A roadmap to a low-carbon economy by 2050. These initiatives underline the significant contribution that nuclear energy has to make to the EU energy mix and to its low-carbon economy objectives. The nuclear industry contributed to policy development by publishing its own roadmap. Indeed, EU policy-makers currently produce more roadmaps than in TomTom.
But, as the two-headed Roman god Janus tells us, January is also a time for looking forward. And 2012 promises to be an equally red-letter year. Key proposals and policy initiatives that will impact, to varying degrees, on the whole nuclear community will feature prominently on the EU policy agenda. First and foremost the peer reviews that will follow on from the risk and safety assessments (stress tests) should be completed by April. They will focus on three main areas, initiating events (floods, earthquakes, etc.), the loss of safety functions (electricity supply, heat sink, etc.) and severe accident management. Following Fukushima the European Council and the EC called, not surprisingly, for an early revision of the Nuclear Safety Directive.
A Roadmap on the revision of the Directive – yes, another one - will be presented by the EC. The Basic Safety Standards Directive is also due to be adopted by the European Council by the end of the year.
From a research perspective, 2012 should see discussions of the Horizon 2020 Proposal that was put forward by the EC last year progress and an Opinion delivered by the European Parliament. Horizon 2020 is a proposed R&D investment programme to the tune of €80 billion, which should cover the period from 2014 to 2018 and could provide fresh impetus to the nuclear science community’s research efforts. Other areas under the EU policy spotlight in 2012 will include radioactive waste management, the harmonisation of design licensing, long-term operation and public acceptance. Anyone who misguidedly thought that after the trials and tribulation of 2011 the new year might somehow progress at a more leisurely pace is probably in for a rude awakening. I wonder what 2012 will become known as.
This first ENS NEWS of the new decade kicks off, as usual, with the Word from the President. But this time it’s different as it comes from our new President, Marco Streit, who focuses on the past, present and future of the Society. Andrew Teller, in what will be his last regular contribution to ENS NEWS highlights the dichotomy of the traditional views of the pro and anti-nuclear schools of thought and underlines how they have inspired many of his articles over the years.
The ENS Events section underlines the busy ENS conference agenda in 2012, with PIME, RRFM, TopSafe, TopFuel and ENC topping the bill.
In the Member Societies section contributions from Belgium, Slovenia, Spain, Finland, Austria and Romania cover a range of subjects from the long-term operation of NPPs to the impact of the global population explosion on the planet’s energy needs and standards of living; from waste disposal and stress tests to knowledge management to new technological developments.
The Young Generation Nuclear (YGN) column delivers a report on how the sterling work carried out by a colleague from Westinghouse in promoting the nuclear industry in general - and the development of young people in particular - has been duly recognised, with the attribution of a special award.
In the Corporate Members section there are two contributions from both Rosatom and SCK-CEN. Our Russian colleagues feature their successful Train of Innovations mobile exhibition initiative and report on the importance of preserving the knowledge and heritage of the nuclear industry in their country. SCK- CEN reports on the significant extension of its collaborative research programme with Japan, and showcases its world première Guinevere project, the very latest in the field of accelerator driven systems (ADS).
The focus then switches to World News, with information about a special scholarship open to students wanting to study new options for the final disposal of radioactive waste. There is also a report on the contribution made by Women in Nuclear (WiN), as well as information about an IAEA/FORATOM Workshop and a JRC initiative to upgrade skills in the nuclear industry.
Let’s hope that 2012 will be equally as momentous as 2011, but perhaps for different reasons.
Enjoy ENS NEWS N° 35!
Editor-in-Chief, ENS NEWS