Conference stresses role of nuclear energy in transition to low-carbon society
Bled, 6 September - The Nuclear Society of Slovenia (DJS) is hosting the 30th international conference Nuclear Energy for a New Europe 2021 in Bled. Nuclear energy, together with renewable energy sources, has the potential to play a key role in shaping a carbon-free energy future, the organisers said in Monday's introduction to the event.
"Deciding on the sources of energy that will supply us in the future is crucial for the prosperity of our country, the competitiveness of our economy and the quality of our environment," said DJS head Tomaž Žagar, as he addressed the conference.
He highlighted the view of nuclear experts that nuclear energy will be key in the transition to a lower-carbon society, "provided, of course, that we acknowledge its advantages and benefits".
Žagar believes that Slovenia, a country boasting a well-developed nuclear infrastructure and internationally-renowned nuclear experts, is in an excellent position to responsibly integrate nuclear energy into its energy future.
He noted Slovenia was considered a country with one of the most high-quality and safest nuclear plants in the world, advanced academic expertise and active participation in international R&D projects.
The four-day conference fosters ties between Slovenian and foreign nuclear experts, providing an opportunity for cooperation and know-how exchange. This year's turnout is record high as 220 experts from more than 20 countries are participating.
Leon Cizelj, the chairman of the conference program committee and the head of the reactor engineering division at the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS), said that 30 years ago, the plan had been to shut down the Krško Nuclear Plant (NEK), but now an energy permit for the construction of a second NEK unit had been welcomed.
Cizelj stressed the importance of attracting and developing new nuclear talent in the coming years.
More than 50 students of reactor engineering, reactor physics and related fields are participating in the conference, said Janez Kokalj, the head of the DJS Young Generation Network, noting that low-carbon nuclear energy was one of the ways to fight climate change.
"Nuclear energy is an important part of the solution to have a reliable supply of low-carbon energy in the future," he said.
Žagar noted that France and Sweden had succeeded in decarbonising their energy systems as the first countries to do so, using hydropower and nuclear power.
Solar and wind energy growth is not keeping up with the world's electricity consumption, said Cizelj, noting that these two energy sources accounted for only 3% of Slovenia's electricity needs.
The DJS believes that the joint development of all renewables and nuclear energy can step up decarbonisation efforts.
The second unit of the Krško Power Plant (NEK), Slovenia's only, could be operational by around 2035, said the DJS, highlighting that it will be key in an estimated EUR 5 billion investment to ensure adequate funding and avert delays and interest rate rises.
The second unit is expected to replace the existing nuclear power station. Another plant would be meanwhile needed to replace the Šoštanj thermal power station (TEŠ), which likewise produces around a third of all electricity consumed in Slovenia.