On Tuesday 20 June 2023, the “Fueling the Energy Transition with Nuclear” conference, held jointly by the New Nuclear Watch Institute (NNWI) and the Institute of Energy for South-East Europe (IENE) took place in Budapest. With an excellent delegate turnover and a selected group of top international speakers from across Europe the conference proved a success. Sponsored by Deloitte and supported by E-Infra, the conference attracted more than 80 participants from all over the region.
Tim Yeo, Chairman of the New Nuclear Watch Institute opened the conference with his remarks. “This is the first conference we have held in Budapest in partnership with IENE and we are grateful to Deloitte and E-Infra for their support”. He explained that it is appropriate to hold a Forum on “Fueling the Energy Transition with Nuclear” in Hungary, one of the European Union member states which is committed to making nuclear an important part of its energy mix.
“Since NNWI’s last Forum in London in October the revival of the nuclear energy industry, both in Europe and further afield, has gained momentum and is spreading to more countries” added Tim Yeo, and underlined the concerns about security of energy supply which were aggravated by the invasion of Ukraine, even though the mild winter in Europe meant that the worst fears about price rises have not materialized. By contrast, anxiety about climate change is growing in the face of stark scientific warnings about an imminent rise in global average surface temperature to above the 1.5C goal set by the Paris Accord in 2025.
Speaking in the same tone, Costis Stambolis, Chairman and Executive Director of IENE, noted that the path towards decarbonisation in South-East Europe is arduous, to say the least, given the region’s high dependence on solid fuels which until now have covered the bulk of its electricity needs. “It is true that over the last five years or so there have been consistent efforts by governments and investors to introduce renewable energy sources, notably solar photovoltaics and wind. Yet, with the exception of Greece, Romania and Turkey, their impact is still to be felt. But by augmenting existing infrastructure and introducing new nuclear capacity to the regional grid one could accelerate the decarbonisation drive and also provide much needed stability in the form of base load which nuclear is uniquely placed to deliver”, he added.
With an audience of about 80 including both the nuclear and the energy consulting and accountancy sectors, the conference delivered a number of short presentations with ample time for discussions. Many interesting insights were shared and explained the role of nuclear in the energy system, both globally and with a focus on the South Eastern Europe region.
Sustainable and clean energy is the future – for industry, for the environment, and for society. It is high on the global agenda and essential to meeting the world’s energy transition efforts. However, continued expansion of renewables is only one piece of the puzzle. It is becoming obvious that reaching net zero by 2050 is only possible by harnessing all the best and most affordable advanced nuclear technologies. To explore these topics in detail the conference offered four panel sessions:
- Harnessing Advanced Nuclear Technologies to Accelerate the Energy Transition
- The Future of Central Europe’s Energy Mix
- The Nuclear Option for South East Europe
- Enhancing Energy Security by Keeping the Balance
On behalf of the Deloitte, who kindly sponsored the conference, Zdenek Obruca, Director in the Consulting and Energy Advisory, shared insights on why nuclear sector offers a significant potential to tackle the energy transition. "As the world faces the pressing challenges of climate change, resource depletion, and energy security, it is essential to seek innovative solutions that can meet our growing energy demands while minimizing environmental impact. The nuclear industry stands at the forefront of this movement, and this conference aims to illuminate the pathways to a successful energy transition. It is already offering a reliable, low-carbon source of power that can support the transition to a more sustainable and resilient energy system," he noted.
The conference ended with a keynote address from William D. Magwood, IV, Director-General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), who reminded that “increased use of nuclear energy is being explored by many countries around the world as they address both their commitments to reduce carbon emissions and their essential need to assure energy security for their economic and societal well-being.” He further stated, “while large scale nuclear power plants remain important, SMRs are expected to play a key role in hard-to-abate sectors such as: off-grid heat and power in remote regions and mines; high temperature heat in heavy industries; and potentially, marine propulsion for merchant shipping.”
Further information on individual presentations will be released shortly.