While in the US the Obama administration has said it will abandon the nuclear waste disposal project at Yucca Mountain and has set up a "blue-ribbon" commission on America's future management of nuclear waste, in Europe, two countries (Sweden and Finland) have already selected a disposal site for nuclear waste and France will specify a location by 2013. In a number of other European countries (e.g. Switzerland and UK), geological disposal is the reference management option and things are moving forward to the site selection stage.
In Europe, almost one third of the electricity consumed is produced by nuclear power. With a total of 145 reactors in operation in 15 countries (data from 2007) and 8 new reactors under construction, nuclear energy is set to remain as part of the energy-mix. On the policy side, the target is to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. Increased sustainability of nuclear energy in the long term, through deployment of Gen-IV systems, is also one of the key technology challenges in the EU's Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan). In the shorter term, the SET-Plan also identifies developing long-term waste management solutions as a priority.
Even if all nuclear reactors were shut down today, the accumulated nuclear waste would still need to be taken care of, and as the European Commission already stated in 2008 "many scientific and technical areas important to geological disposal have reached maturity level, and moving towards implementation should be encouraged and facilitated" . Nevertheless, such decisions belong to national authorities. Yet, there is a joint awareness that continued and strengthened cooperation on the scientific, technical and societal challenges of geological disposal is beneficial for its safe and timely implementation. This is the rationale behind IGD-TP (www.igdtp.eu).
Technology platforms are meant to provide a framework for stakeholders, led by industry, to define research and develop
|Contact: Elena Gonzlez Verdesoto|
European Commission Joint Research Centre