The Italian Nuclear Association (Associazione Italiana Nucleare – AIN) convened a one-day meeting “Nuclear in Italy in the International and European background” in Rome on 5th of December 2023. Nuclear-21′ Caroline Jorant and Gian-Luigi Fiorini attended the event where Gian-Luigi is also member of the Advisory Board of AIN.
«I still have the dream but now we need to focus, in a more pragmatic way, on the concrete actions to be implemented in the next period». With these words the president of AIN, Stefano Monti, began the work of the annual event of the Association. The event was organised with three panels: politicians, utilities and energy-intensive users and the Italian nuclear industry.
The policy panel expressed a common interest for supporting a future nuclear energy development and possible deployment in Italy. While the “Left” advocates the need for further R&D efforts, the “Center” and the “Right” demand a rapid and concrete industrial commitment. A representative of the center (the Azione party) asked for nuclear power to be available immediately suggesting “Take what is on the shelf!”
The users‘panel was well attended with representatives from different utilities and users, (Edison spa, ENEL, FEDERBETON, ASSOCARTA, Cofindustria Ceramica, Cofindustria Energia). There was a common view that demand and expectations for nuclear in Italy is huge, but there is the need for guarantees on deadlines and stability/predictability of costs, a major issue which has been affecting the energy-intensive industries since the beginning of the current energy crisis. Decarbonization of hard-to-abate sectors is also a relevant issue.
It is worth noting the enthusiasm showed for possible non-traditional uses of nuclear as, for example, maritime propulsion for carrier ships and even – for a very far future – for cruise ships.
On their part, representatives of the nuclear industry (NewCleo, ATB Riva Calzoni, Simic Spa, RINA, GSE Spa, SOGIN…) underlined the fact that, to the extent that this industry is already present internationally and for instance, are cooperating with other European counterparts, they already have the necessary competences and are ready to meet users’ needs.
Bernard Salha, as president of SNETP, as well as CTO of EDF, underlined that it was thanks to Italian industry that EDF was able to solve the problem of replacing defective pipes and put the French power plants concerned back on the grid.
POLIMI (Politecnico di Milano) mentioned a study they led concluding that the capacity of the Italian supply chain to manufacture was evaluated to eight SMRs per year.
The participants discussed the main critical points that need to be overcome as, in particular: the siting issue for new nuclear power plants, and for a waste storage, the regulatory aspects with the need to have, in a timely manner, an appropriate regulatory framework and a safety authority whose means and skills are up to the challenge.
Harmonization was also pointed out as a priority. In the context of a serial production of SMRs likely to be deployed in different European countries and worldwide, the need for harmonized standards and adoption of best practices is of utmost importance.
Finally, participants recognised that information to and communication with the public should be given the highest consideration and effort. It is not enough to guarantee a high level of safety “on paper”, and to the question “How safe is safe enough?” a panelist answered “When the public feel safe?”.
All participants showed their interest and trust in the development of nuclear energy in Italy. They highlighted the need of developing nuclear energy in the context of the industry pledge to Net Zero Emissions. No dissonant voices were heard and everybody acknowledged the need to develop the national basic infrastructures in due time while complying with the highest international standards.
The record of the event is available on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0Tkf6cF3uA&t=169s