A glimpse of the future as young European nuclear professionals focus on nuclear agenda

The European Young Generation Forum, a biannual conference that brings together young nuclear professionals, industry specialists and guest speakers from the world of politics and academia, was hosted this year by the Dutch Young Generation Network from 5 to 10 June 2007. It took place in that beautiful city synonymous with tolerance and diversity, Amsterdam. Over 80 participants from around 20 countries attended.

clear skies and 25°C degrees at the conference hotel

The former Dutch Prime Minister, Dr. Ruud Lubbers, kicked off the conference. He stressed the role that young nuclear professionals can play in promoting the economic and environmental benefits of their industry: “You are the young people who are looking to the future. Don’t be defensive and wait for politicians, take the lead on this issue yourselves.” Mr. Lubbers also expressed his strong conviction that renewables and nuclear energy were both necessary to tackle current energy issues. Professor van der Hagen, Director of the Reactor Institute in Delft, then gave an overview of the energy situation worldwide and in the Netherlands and underlined that no energy revolution was feasible without nuclear power.

Dr. Frank Deconinck, the President of ENS, encouraged young nuclear scientists to be open and transparent in order to increase the credibility of the nuclear community and to improve public acceptance of nuclear power.

The rest of the conference focused on various key issues including Generation IV, energy market liberalization, the hydrogen economy, public opinion and the media. The sessions featured speakers from the CEA (France), ADS, EnBW and Aara-Tessin (an energy service provider from Switzerland) and FORATOM.

A lively debate then took place between a nuclear advocate, Gerardo del Caz Esteso, from the Spanish parliament and Heleen de Coninck (from the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN)), who believes that the risks posed by nuclear energy outweigh its advantages and that it’s better to invest in renewables and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). The audience took part in the debate, which triggered discussions about which energy technologies are suitable to meet future energy challenges.

Juliette van der Laan, P.R. Manager at NRG (the Dutch national nuclear research institute, in Petten), delivered an interesting speech on how to deal with the media. She also stressed the need to be open and transparent with the media and to give them useful and concrete tips to the nuclear scientists who are nominated to talk to the Dutch television during the technical tour.

Organisation team EYGF 2007
Organisation team EYGF 2007

The young nuclear professionals then boarded a bus to Petten, to visit NRG’s facilities. The participants could visit either the High Flux Reactor (HFR) and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) Hydrogen Laboratories, or the Hot Cell laboratories and the ECN’s Renewable Energy Test Centre. The Dutch television channel NOS followed the group throughout the visit of the HFR and interviewed three representatives of EYGF - from the Netherlands, Spain and Finland respectively. The HFR, which is owned by the JRC and run by NRG-staff, is used for the research of materials used for fission and

fusion, and also for producing isotopes for medical applications (www.nrg-nl.com). The programme was then broadcast during prime time hours.

The “fusion road show” was also “performed” during EYGF. This show aims to explain the fundamental principle of fusion in a clear and understandable way. It is based on the CD Fusion - Power for Future Generations, produced by the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA), which is available at:

EYGF was a great success and contributed to enhancing the profile of the nuclear community.

The programme and the presentations during the forum are available at: http://www.eyfg.org

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