Word from the President
Since my last letter, we held our European Nuclear Conference (ENC 2014) in Marseille, from 12 to 15 May. I apologize to those readers who attended the conference and who will already have read my words, but let me recall what I said in the conference brochure:
“The European Nuclear Conference, which takes place every two years, is the gathering of the 23 nuclear societies from 23 countries in Europe and beyond. It is both an occasion to hear about the latest news on many hot topics concerning nuclear energy in Europe and to present in the parallel sessions technical, scientific and societal results of importance for the speakers, the experts and the public at large.
I often say that the essence of nuclear energy in Europe nowadays is "diversity"; diversity in the energy policies of the 28 Member States, naturally reflected in our 23 member societies. This diversity also appears in the numerous papers (over 250) that you will be presenting and discussing this week in Marseille. All the general topics on any nuclear conference agenda are there: Reactors and the technologies for all of their sub- components, fuel both inside and outside the reactors in the nuclear cycle, operations, new build, safety and severe accidents, nuclear technologies for life sciences - a
fascinating subject both from a scientific point of view, but also because of its implications for social acceptance.
The next item in which diversity manifests itself in our European Nuclear Conference is authorship. It is reassuring to see that many institutions from all over Europe team up in research projects to publish papers at ENC 2014. This is not so for all papers, of course. Some big research organisations will present ‘stand alone papers’ since they have within their own limits all the necessary capabilities. Therefore, I have looked a bit more closely at the papers where 5 institutions or more have grouped together. Curiously, those papers appear in the technical fields of the fuel cycle and waste conditioning. Can we say that European coordination has brought together diversity and convergence in a field where society expects nuclear energy to make the most important progress? In research and in the development of medium-level waste projects, at least, the answer is ‘yes’. For true industrial solutions to high-level waste disposal, we will have to wait a few more ENC’s to witness the success of national programmes in Sweden, Finland, the northern countries and France. We support them wholeheartedly. But let us come back to this conference and consider our community as a whole. Sometimes we think that travelling far away to conferences in North or South America or in Asia will give us not only new ideas for research, this is to be expected, but also solutions to our European problems. But let me quote an excellent colleague speaking in the Belgian press (l’Echo, January 2014), Dr.Hamid Aït Abderrahim, Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP): ‘You do not need to travel very far to find excellence’. Indeed, excellence is well-established in Europe, in its industry, in its research centers whether they are funded by government or by private money. Come and see it for yourself in Marseille, at ENC 2014. I look forward to meeting you there.”
With the hindsight given by the 2 months that have elapsed since the event, I can confirm the ideas and impressions that I expressed in the booklet: ENC 2014 was a success in every way, thanks to both the high-level presentations on the status of nuclear energy in Europe and overseas and to the excellent technical presentations given by teams - large and small - in all the fields listed above. My only wish is that we keep it up in the future and that we encourage our members to make ENC 2016 as successful as ENC 2014.
President of the European Nuclear Society.