TALLINN – Meelis Munt, secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of the Environment and head of the government's working group on nuclear energy, said at the New Generation Nuclear Energy Conference 2022 on Tuesday that the working group's final report will likely be completed by the end of 2023 and published by June 2024 after it has been approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
At the same time, the secretary general added that in light of the energy prices that started to rise sharply in the fall of last year, a political will has emerged to publish the final report earlier. The working group plans to submit proposals to the government on whether and under what conditions it is possible to bring forward the publication of the report during February.
"This definitely requires certain resources, it requires certain capabilities, namely in the public sector, and once we have those, we are of the opinion that this work can definitely be brought forward by a few months," Munt said. After the report is published, the government will be able to approve the report, after which it will be passed to the Riigikogu, which, according to Munt, should decide whether to proceed with the nuclear energy development program.
"If the government is particularly ambitious, then, of course, it is always possible to start thinking already earlier about the legal framework for a small reactor, to start developing an adapted nuclear law, to start thinking about who could be the regulator, to start preparing. Of course, this would further speed up the necessary preparations," the secretary general said.
Munt said that the working group will submit the first interim report to the government already by fall 2022. The main topics that the government expects by fall are energy security, an overview of existing or developing technologies, the international obligations of the country that has entered the nuclear program, opportunities for public-private cooperation and the issue of nuclear waste management.
A preliminary analysis of the potential locations of the nuclear power plant and spent nuclear fuel landfill should be completed in the first quarter of 2023, with an interim overview expected in September this year. In addition, an analysis of security and emergency preparedness, due in December, and a mapping of the nuclear capacity of the industrial sector, expected in November, will be carried out this year.
In February, Kantar Emor will also conduct an opinion poll on nuclear energy awareness and readiness for the implementation of nuclear energy. The results are expected to be published in March.