World Nuclear Association Symposium 2014

The annual WNA Symposium is a unique event in the nuclear conferences and seminars calendar. It brought together a wealth of the world’s top nuclear professionals and companies in order to share knowledge and network. Of the approximately 500 attendees 50% were of a CEO- Director level and 29% of a Senior Manager –Executive level. These statistics show the level of support given to the symposium by industry leaders and showed the potential wealth of industrial knowledge that such an event can harness.

The symposium was held at the Central Hall Westminster, London, from 10-12 September 2014, a location that provided a relaxed but professional environment for delegates. This year’s symposium coincided with the 60th anniversary of civil nuclear energy production and this theme of the past and future was to play a central part throughout the 2 days.  The opening session included a memorable address by Sir David King, the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change at the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth of the UK Government), followed by other presentations from first Alexander Lokshin, Chief Operational Officer, Rosatom, and then Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation. All the presentations reflected the great achievements that have been made to date in the nuclear energy sector and highlighted the challenges yet to come.

The opening sessions lead nicely into a panel session on the challenges for the industry regarding the fuel cycle, including major threats and opportunities. This session provided a platform for views to be expressed by a panel of senior figures and introduced a novel new way of engaging with the audience via the Symposium’s own mobile phone app. The use of the app consisted of the panel Chairman outlining 5 potential areas for future improvement and asking the audience to vote for what they thought the priority of investment should be. This task provided a further area of comment and debate from the panel and provided an additional way of engaging and gathering opinion from the delegates, something that is an important part of events such as these. This interactive exercise was well received by the attendees.

Breakout sessions and lunch provided an opportunity for delegates to network and visit the range of industry stands on show at the accompanying exhibition. These stands featured both major industrial companies and smaller supply chain members, as well as supporting professional institutions and societies like the European Nuclear Society’s Young Generation Network (ENSYGN - see photo below).  

European Nuclear Society’s Young Generation Network

From left to right: Isis Leslie, Project Manager, World Nuclear Association, Nathan Paterson, Validation and Verification Engineer, Rolls-Royce, Eileen Radde Vice-Chair, ENS-YGN.

Day 1 continued with lively presentations on topics such as energy policy, security of fuel supply and concluded with an outline on public perception from different areas of the industry.

Day 2 began with a look at how financial models and the management of liability for nuclear new build projects are progressing from a vendor’s perspective.  Mid-morning featured a radiological protection panel session that included academics, industry representatives and policy-makers. Wolfgang Weiss, Representative of the Scientific Committee, UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Radiation) gave an account of the observations he had made and the lessons he had learnt from his involvement in the response that was launched to the Fukushima accident - a personal appreciation that was much appreciated.

The penultimate session included presentations on uranium resources from established fuel cycle routes and new areas such as Greenland’s mining activities. The final panel session included various industry leaders such as Tarik Choho, Chief Commercial Executive Officer, Areva; Danny Roderick, President and CEO, Westinghouse Electric Company and Jay Wileman, Chief Operating Officer, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy  - to name but a few. The aim of this session was to understand what the high level challenges and issues will be for the industry for the next 60 years. This prompted comments from the panel on areas such as financing new projects, collaboration, research and development and experienced human resources.

In conclusion the symposium was a very useful platform for networking and debate of the challenges and opportunities the global nuclear industry faces. It was reassuring to hear at the heart of the path ahead included a commitment to building and maintaining a world class workforce across all the areas of the fuel cycle.

Nathan Paterson, Rolls Royce

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