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U.K. reaffirms commitment to nuclear energy at Budapest summit

The main day of the U.K.ʼs 4th CEE Nuclear Energy Summit took place Tuesday, aiming to deepen business connections between the U.K.ʼs largest firms and organizations in the nuclear energy field, while regional market players presented their newest developments, technological innovations, and trends in the sector.

The expansion of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant was one topic at the conference.

The event was launched by the U.K. Department for International Trade and British embassies in the CEE region. More than 100 leading energy experts from nine countries participated at the summit, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.

"The United Kingdom believes in the future of nuclear energy in Europe," said Iain Lindsay, the ambassador of the United Kingdom to Hungary, in opening remarks at the event. "This strong commitment of the British government is perceptible in important investment, development of the supply chain in this sector, and in support for nuclear research and innovation."

The day was also attended by János Süli, minister without portfolio responsible for the planning, construction and commissioning of the two new reactors at Hungaryʼs Paks Nuclear Power Plant. Süli argued in favor of nuclear energy and the expansion of the plant, declaring that "without Paks II, there is no electricity supply security in Hungary."

"Climate mitigation objectives can be reached only if nuclear energy is part of the generation mix, and that is why Hungary opted for the maintenance of its nuclear generation capacity," the minister said. "It is a strategic objective for us to provide domestic people and the economy with cheap, continuously available and secure electricity in the long run, the main guarantee of which is the two new nuclear units," he added.

Süli also reflected on how the country remains competitive, noting that the key to Hungary’s competitiveness is not low-cost labor, but low production costs that require cheap, reliable electricity supply.

"The U.K. nuclear supply chain is exceptionally experienced across the decommissioning and existing generation and has a growing new build market of suppliers," said Glen Little of the British Nuclear Industry Association (NIA). "We believe it is a huge exploitable base of knowledge and skilled workers for the CEE, particularly as it embarks on a new build program in Hungary and Poland, and prepares for decommissioning older reactors in other states, as well as a massive opportunity for U.K. suppliers to develop international supply chain contacts. Nuclear is an international industry, and this event highlights how supply chain relationships and new projects know no borders," he concluded.