Today the POWER-GEN Europe Conference and Exhibition, co-located with Nuclear Power Europe and Renewable Energy World Europe hosted a joint plenary panel discussion on whether Europe’s current energy policy can deliver the legally binding targets it faces. Moderated by international journalist and broadcaster Steven Sackur, the much anticipated debate featured five leading members of the power and energy industry. The panel examined the range of strategic and technical solutions open to the European power industry in order to comply with the European Union’s energy policy.
As well as assessing the ability of the European power industry to meet EU targets on energy consumption and climate change, the expert panel analysed a number of major European energy issues relating to gas and nuclear power, grid infrastructure, and the prospects for carbon capture and storage. Key issues discussed included; security of supply, the impact of renewable on energy prices, the consequences of the recent Fukushima power plant disaster and the reliance on fossil fuels for future energy supply.
The debate was also broadcast across the show’s websites with a twitter feed providing another route for the power industry to keep in touch. Sackur led the debate with some searching questions, and took questions from the auditorium, as well as working in questions from the online viewers as far afield as South Africa, Singapore, Russia and Australia.
Yesterday, Nuclear Power Europe hosted a panel discussion on investment in nuclear power after Fukushima, providing one of the first opportunities for the industry to come together to debate its position and outlook in light of the disaster. It was moderated by Steve Kidd of the World Nuclear Association and tackled head on the challenges the industry now faces in light of recent events.
Opinion was split between the eight panelists on what direction investment in the future of nuclear power should take. Here’s a selection of the thoughts and opinions of some of the panelists:
Professor Stephen Thomas of the University of Greenwich believes that it is far too early to predict the impact Fukushima will have on the nuclear industry, but felt that investment into the nuclear renaissance was failing before the Fukushima incident occurred.
Alessandro Clerici, of ABB Italia drew upon the shutdown of nuclear plants in Italy following Fukushima, stating that extreme political and public reactions have resulted in Fukushima having a more disastrous impact on the nuclear industry than Chernobyl incurred 25 years ago.
Allan Baker, global head of power of European financial services giant, Société Générale added that in light of Japan’s nuclear disaster, investment in the industry has become problematic. Financing a nuclear plant is not the problem, it is uncertainty in the industry. Many governments have halted subsidies for nuclear development and this uncertainty has prompted lenders to withdraw from nuclear investment.
Malcolm Grimston, Associate Fellow (Nuclear Policy) of Britain’s world-leading international affairs think-tank Chatham House was keen to point out that the safety of nuclear power plants is underestimated. He emphasised that every nuclear power incident is a special case, and that if you knew it was going to happen then you would have protected yourself against it.
The panel debate is one of the highlights of Nuclear Power Europe’s incisive and high-quality conference programme, which includes speakers representing a broad spectrum of interests from across the industry. There is a full schedule of discussions planned over the next two days, so keep checking the POWER-GEN Europe 2011 blog for more updates.
The POWER-GEN Europe Conference and Exhibition, Nuclear Power Europe and Renewable Energy World Europe opened in spectacular fashion today with keynote sessions from leading figures in the power industry. All three speakers were united in their belief that power generation is undergoing a period of unparalleled change, driven by innovation and energy policies.
Conference Director, Nigel Blackaby, welcomed delegates and opened the conference with a speech on the current position of Europe’s energy supply and on the energy market becoming increasingly converged for suppliers and consumers, as the need for flexible power generation grows.
Gianfilippo Mancini, Director of the Generation and Energy Management Division and Market Division at Enel, Italy explained that a new era has dawned across the European energy market and a deep transformation is underway. Renewable energy technologies such as smart grids have proven to significantly increase energy efficiency and companies on a global scale are beginning to invest heavily in their development.
During the keynote session Paul Browning, CEO of Thermal Products at GE Power & Water addressed the serious challenges of energy scarcity and discussed some of the actions being taken to create a more balanced global energy supply. Browning also touched on European energy policies and added that whilst the EU’s 202020 targets should be commended, the industry’s sights now need to be set even further.
Giuseppe Zampini, CEO, Ansaldo Energia closed the keynote session with his views and predictions for the energy sector, focussing on the future of the nuclear power industry. This was discussed in the context of the recent events at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan and the impact these have had on the wider industry.
This year’s event has seen a record number of exhibitors, topping 600 for the first time. Advanced visitor registrations have also superseded those of last year with attendance from utilities rising especially fast.
With governments facing some difficult choices regarding nuclear power, it still remains the most credible source of low-carbon generation. Nuclear energy represents a relatively clean power source at an affordable cost, which is essential as energy consumption increases and nations develop against the backdrop of climate change. According to the World Nuclear Association, nuclear power generation emits no carbon dioxide (CO2), and worldwide it avoids the emission of about 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, relative to coal. Yet with arguments and public opinion swelling against it, governments must decide if nuclear power is too dangerous an energy source in respect of the potential health risks and environmental costs on the rare occasion that something does go wrong.
Certainly, safety has moved to the top of the agenda. The European Council is calling for the safety of all EU nuclear plants to be reviewed on the basis of a comprehensive and transparent risk and safety assessment (stress tests), and is also requesting that similar ‘stress tests’ be carried out in the neighbouring countries and worldwide, regarding both existing and planned plants.
What is vital, for both the nuclear industry and the global economy, is that governments take a balanced view of nuclear power development moving forward. It would be easy to abandon further development in the face of short-term panic, but for most countries that would be a mistake. The meticulously high safety standards to which nuclear plants adhere have ensured a strong record in recent years. Most nations do not suffer earthquakes and tsunamis on the scale of Japan, and modern reactor technology promises greater safety.
We have also announced that Nuclear Power Europe will address this issue in a panel discussion which will examine the implications of the Fukushima Daiichi plant accident for Europe’s nuclear renaissance and discuss solutions for how the industry will stay on track. For more information on this discussion session, ‘Investing in nuclear after Fukushima’, visit the Nuclear Power Europe website.
Following the tragic events in Fukushima, Japan, this year’s Nuclear Power Europe will feature a panel discussion on ‘Investing in nuclear after Fukushima.’ The panel discussion will examine the implications of the Fukushima Daiichi plant accident for Europe’s nuclear renaissance and discuss solutions for how the industry will stay on track.
We’re delighted to confirm the participation of Malcolm Grimston, Associate Fellow (Nuclear Policy) of Britain’s world-leading international affairs think-tank Chatham House in this discussion. A leading authority on nuclear power generation and its role in the future energy mix, Grimston will be central to the discussion as it looks to the future of the industry and in particular, on its European renaissance. Also confirmed is Allan Baker, global head of power of European financial services giant, Société Générale.
With nuclear power facing its toughest period in 30 years, this discussion session complements Nuclear Power Europe 2011’s incisive and high-quality programme, which includes speakers representing a broad spectrum of interests from across the industry. Nuclear Power Europe provides a forum for industry participants to address the major issues surrounding nuclear power, as it looks to its future role within the energy mix. With participants of the caliber of Malcolm Grimston and Allan Baker, the discussion will explore every angle in what promises to be a lively debate.