Nuclear Politics

Europe / EC Backs European Industrial Alliance On SMRs To Mobilise Sector

By Rumyana Vakarelska
22 March 2024

Group will look at concrete projects and hold first general assembly later this year

EC Backs European Industrial Alliance On SMRs To Mobilise Sector
Yves Desbazeille, director-general of industry group nucleareurope, said 2024 ‘has been a good time for nuclear power’.

The European Industrial Alliance on Small Modular Reactors received political affirmation from the European Commission on 22 March in Brussels, a move towards mobilising capital and streamlining the licensing process for first- of-a kind SMRs in Europe and streamline the licensing process, making the sector more competitive globally.

The commission, together with EU nuclear industry, held an event on 22 March to take stock of the progress in the setting up of the alliance following its launch in early February.

The event set out to confirm industry’s interest in joining the alliance and promoting the membership in the alliance to stakeholders.

Yves Desbazeille, director-general of the European nuclear industry group nucleareurope and chair of the European SMR pre-partnership steering committee, said the alliance will look at concrete projects and is going to hold its first general assembly later this year.

He said that “after four years, 2024 has been a good time for nuclear power,” also referring to the first Nuclear Energy Summit on 21 March in Brussels.

Thierry Breton, European commissioner for internal market and Kadri Simson, European commissioner for energy, attended the 22 March SMR alliance event.

The alliance will help political stakeholders in the European Union to back up their country’s new nuclear build plans, especially SMR projects, to retain Europe’s competitiveness in this market.

“The first-of-a kind European SMR will be unaffordable, but then becomes [cost] competitive,” said Desbazeille.

At “today’s event we call for nuclear power to be treated equally and that both nuclear and renewable sources share the clean energy output to fight climate change,” he added.

It is important that Europe keeps the current level of nuclear power, Desbazaeille noted.

Nuward chief executive officer Renauld Crassous, representing France, one of the leading SMR developer countries in the EU, said at a press briefing on 22 March that state energy company EDF and Nuward fully support the SMR alliance and that a competitive price for the electricity produced by the new technology should not exceed €100/MWh.

Nuward is developing an SMR for which first concrete is slated to be poured in 2030, marking the formal start of construction, Crassous told NucNet in October.

Target Is To Be ‘Better Than Coal And Gas’

Crassous listed his company’s criteria for moving forward to a first-of-a kind SMR project launch that he hoped the alliance will support. Those criteria include sharing resources, finance for SMR clients – possibly by providing state or bank guarantees – and helping with supply chain issues.

He said fostering regulation and safety standardisation is crucial, as is support for skills development and gaining public acceptance, especially in times when the public mood is positive about nuclear power.

Crassous had said previously that he wanted Nuward to be competitive with coal and gas-fired power in the range of €50 to €100/MWh of baseload production.

“So, our target is to be better than coal and gas and this will not be easy because I am sure that the first-of-a-kind SMR of all developers will be relatively expensive,” he said.

“It is the rationale of SMRs [modularity] and the economies of the series effect which will lead to competitiveness.”

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the “series effect” results in economies through the standardisation of factory production and feedback from the onsite deployment of several identical plants.

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