SMiRT 20 Nuclear Power Technology Conference at Otaniemi, August 10–14, 2009
Estimates show that at the current rate the world’s energy needs will almost
double by 2050. Mitigating climate change, on the other hand, requires the
world to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to half the 2000 level by 2050 in
order to limit global warming to two degrees. In VTT Technical Research Centre
of Finland and several international estimates, an advanced and new generation
of nuclear power technology is considered to be a viable alternative in
solving our energy and climate problems. More than 400 Finnish and
international experts and practitioners will be meeting at Otaniemi in Espoo
on August 10 - 14 to discuss the challenges of nuclear power technology.
The two major long-term global challenges that we face today are climate
change and a huge growth in energy consumption. The International Energy
Agency (IEA) estimates that world consumption of electricity alone will double
While energy demand is growing, the world’s oil and gas resources are rapidly
dwindling. Simply put, this means that the world’s energy system – more than
80% of which is currently based on fossil fuels – will have to be altered
radically by 2050 to ensure sufficient energy while acting to curb climate
“In the scenarios outlined for curbing climate change
recently published by VTT in the book Energy Visions 2050, nuclear power plays
a key role in electricity generation, particularly in the scenario where
global warming is limited to two degrees. The nuclear power issue is highly
topical now that decisions need to be taken regarding the fulfilment of future
electricity consumption needs worldwide. VTT sees nuclear power not only as a
research challenge but also as an opportunity. Research and development will
enable a nuclear renaissance, making nuclear power a truly viable alternative
for future energy production and, at the same time, a means for curbing
climate change,” said Erkki KM Leppävuori, Director General of VTT, in his
greeting to the delegates at the SMiRT 20 conference.
present, electricity production is responsible for about one fourth of all
carbon dioxide emissions caused by humans, and is the most rapidly growing
source of greenhouse gases. That is why, in electricity production in
particular, efforts must be made to reduce carbon dioxide emissions – the aim
should be to produce electricity with no emissions at all. This can be
achieved efficiently, for example, by using nuclear power to generate
In its scenarios for curbing climate change, VTT
has evaluated which electricity production technologies will be the most
important worldwide by the middle of this century. They are: wind power,
existing fission-based nuclear power, carbon capture and storage (CCS) from
the 2020s or 2030s onwards, and advanced combined production and co-combustion
technologies using recycled fuels and biofuels.
indicate that advanced nuclear power technologies will be accounting for an
increasing percentage of the world’s electricity production towards the end of
the century. These advanced technologies include new fission-based nuclear
power plant concepts that make more efficient use of uranium resources, and
early-stage fusion technology.
In addition to mitigating
climate change, a significant future challenge for governments, and a prime
motivator in energy technology development, will be securing the energy
supply. The energy supply must be secured for both industry and society at
large by making use of all available energy sources, including waste. This
will create needs and opportunities for clean and cost-efficient energy
technologies. It is also important for energy-intensive industries to have
energy available at a predictable price.
renaissance has also been fuelled by demands for continuous improvement in
nuclear safety. International cooperation has increasingly been the mode
adopted for safety improvements, as, for example, with the drawing up of
safety requirements for materials, structures, components and systems.
in various countries have worked together to develop reactor materials and
structures, other technical safety measures and the design of entire power
plants. New nuclear power plants will be better able to withstand natural
disasters, for example.
There is also an internationally
acknowledged need for universities to increase the amount of basic nuclear
technology training and further training of experts.
August 10–14, over 400 international nuclear power researchers and
practitioners from more than 30 countries will meet at Otaniemi in Espoo for
the 20th Structural Mechanics in Reactor Technology conference (SMiRT 20).
themes at SMiRT include material, structure and system design in new reactors
and particularly their modelling and simulation in various situations of usage
and disruption. At the conference, new technology solutions will be presented
thanks to which nuclear power will become an increasingly safer and viable
alternative for energy production and a means for mitigating climate change.
is in charge of hosting the SMiRT conference together with Helsinki University
of Technology, and with the support of Finnish nuclear power operators. The
conference is a biennial event organized by the International Association for
Structural Mechanics in Reactor Technology (IASMiRT). The SMiRT conference now
being held in Finland is the 20th conference of its kind and the first to be
organized in the Nordic countries.