Warsaw plans to deploy first commercial plant in early 2030s
The development of a nuclear workforce will be essential for the build-up of a nuclear industry supply chain in Poland, but a number of challenges remain related to personnel, according to Anna Talarowska, who chaired the European Nuclear Young Generation Forum (ENYGF) in Krakow, Poland.
Talarowska, a thermal hydraulics engineer at Poland’s National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ), said the nuclear career path is “an environment where one can develop rapidly or get lost without detailed guidelines” such as the lack of proper mentoring, a lack of clearly defined development paths and career frameworks at an early stage.
“The best way to learn effectively is to try to implement the knowledge you have acquired immediately, and this is not always happening”, she said. “One of the solutions is to organise multiple trainings, courses and internships locally and also in the international environment.”
ENYGF 2023 brought together more than 300 young generation participants from about 30 countries on several continents. The forum takes place every two years to provide a platform for students, young nuclear experts, and scientists to exchange knowledge and experience with each other and with senior industry professionals and academics.
“The stronger our network is, the more efficient we are in facing common challenges and naming common problems,” Talarowska said. “ENYGF helps to develop and strengthen this network so it can be one of the turning points in one's career.”
She said: “One of the goals of ENYGF is to create a space where the young generation of the nuclear industry can openly meet representatives of various companies who look for new employees to work on new projects in this nuclear renaissance.”
According to Jadwiga Naider, outgoing chair of the European Nuclear Society Young Generation Network (ENS-YGN), in almost every country using nuclear technologies, youth nuclear communities like these are a bridge between the perspective of a young person on their career goals and a nuclear sector in need of efficient and talented employees.
Organisers said ENYGF 2023 attracted more interest and attendance than past events despite being in a country which does not have commercial nuclear plants or a mature nuclear industry. Poland plans to deploy its first commercial plant at a location in the northern province of Pomerania in the early 2030s. The country has an operational research reactor, Maria, run by the NCBJ on the outskirts of Warsaw.
The fact that ENYGF 2023 took place in Poland was "very symbolic", said Naider, because a country which once resigned from nuclear power "is now coming back to the game at full speed".
The four-day conference, with next edition to be held in Croatia in 2025, covered topics relevant to the civil use of nuclear technology, including panels on the role of nuclear in the energy transition, new-build, nuclear regulation, nuclear fusion, and the role of research reactors for nuclear medicine.
The forum also offered a dozen of practical workshops and career events for young generation participants where they could reach out to leading industry players like Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe, EDF, Westinghouse Electric, Orlen-Synthos Green Energy, Urenco, and Thomas Thor.
ENYGF is often supported by the European Nuclear Society, the International Atomic Enegy Agency, the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, and the European Nuclear Education Network. Chair Anna Talarowska said the organising committee of this year’s forum was international despite being hosted by the Polish Nuclear Society.