Bloc reaching moment for strategic decisions, says energy commissioner
The European Commission has formally announced the creation of an industrial alliance dedicated to small modular reactors (SMRs) amid calls to get the first units connected to the electricity grid within a decade
The alliance will focus on accelerating the deployment of SMR technologies and ensuring a strong EU supply chain, including a skilled workforce.
EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson told an event in Bratislava to discuss the alliance that the bloc was reaching the moment for strategic decisions to be made and successful deployment of SMRs by the next decade will be an important and timely milestone on Europe’s path to climate neutrality by 2050 and “this must be our goal”.
She backed plans for the establishment of the industrial alliance, saying it would allow the EU to advance not only domestically but also in the context of the global competition for industrial and technological leadership.
She warned that there is a strong need to consolidate the different member states’ efforts and initiatives in a coordinated approach that will “guarantee collective success”.
“I see a very clear interest from stakeholders – vendors, potential users of SMR technology, research organisations and nuclear safety regulators – to drive forward SMR development and deployment in Europe,” Simson said
“I am confident that the EU can have a leadership role in achieving technological maturity for SMRs.”
Simson said: “Let me say from the start that I see a clear window of opportunity opening up.
“Our discussion takes place against the backdrop of the EU’s net zero commitment, and the urgency of climate action.
“As you are well aware, the legislative framework for a 55% greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030 is almost complete, and the commission will present by January next year its scenarios for carbon emission reduction targets for 2040.”
Industry ‘Must Lead Development’
She said it is clear that to achieve ambitious emission reduction targets in the next decade, all renewables and low-carbon energy sources will be needed.
Ditte Juul-Jorgensen, director-general for energy in the commission, said in a keynote that the commission expects the industry to lead in the development of “an SMR collaboration scheme” between industry, science, regulators, and policymakers.
“Our analysis makes it clear we are going to need nuclear as part of Europe’s future energy mix,” she said.
Yves Desbazeille, director-general of the Brussels-based industry group nucleareurope, said SMRs are expected to bring many benefits to the EU as a whole in terms of helping to decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors, as well as creating jobs and generating economic growth in the EU.
“The groundwork [for the industrial alliance] has been laid by its predecessor, the European SMR pre-Partnership and we are delighted that the European Commission is now giving its full backing to this key technology of the future.”
In a statement nucleareurope said the alliance is expected to focus on key areas including market incentives, financing, education, training, supply chains, and support for research and development.