European Commission to create SMR Industrial Alliance

07 November 2023

In response to calls from the nuclear industry, research community and nuclear safety regulators, the European Commission will establish an Industrial Alliance dedicated to small modular reactors (SMRs) in early 2024, European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson has announced.

Commissioner Kadri Simson speaking at the European SMR Partnership meeting (Image: @KadriSimson/X)

The Commission set up a European SMR pre-Partnership in June with the overall objective of identifying enabling conditions and constraints, including financial ones, towards safe design, construction and operation of SMRs in Europe in the next decade and beyond in compliance with the EU legislative framework in general and to the Euratom legislative framework in particular.

Speaking at a European Small Modular Reactor Partnership event in Bratislava, Slovakia, on 6 November, Simson said: "After a long and intense work of preparation, we must now draw conclusions on the opportunity and potential for establishing a European Industrial Alliance on SMRs. Industrial alliances are a tool to facilitate stronger cooperation and joint action between all interested partners. Industrial alliances can play a role in achieving key EU policy objectives through joint action by all the interested partners.

"A successful deployment of SMRs by the next decade will be an important and timely milestone on our path to climate neutrality by 2050. I am confident that the EU can have a leadership role in achieving technological maturity for SMRs. This means to me that the first SMRs must be connected to the European electricity grid within a decade at the latest. This must be our goal."

Simson noted that analyses undertaken by the European SMR pre-Partnership have suggested that an industrial alliance "is the appropriate concept" for the European SMR Partnership. The Stakeholders' Forum - which took place in Brussels on 26 October - "confirmed interest and readiness" for an industrial alliance, she added.

"With a clear mandate from the Member States willing to use this technology in their energy mix, this determination of the stakeholders calls on the Commission to do its part and prepare the establishment of an Industrial Alliance on SMRs.

"I believe that there is today both the political opportunity and the industrial case to promote the development of SMRs in Europe. I stand ready to initiate within the Commission the necessary steps to establish the EU Industrial Alliance for SMRs early next year."

Simson said skills and industrial competence, licensing, management of used fuel and radioactive waste will need to feature prominently in the next steps towards a European initiative on SMRs.

The announcement of the creation of the industrial alliance was welcomed by Yves Desbazeille, Director General of European nuclear trade body Nucleareurope: "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 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."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News