Small Modular Reactors and Recent Developments in Europe

As the voice of the European nuclear industry, FORATOM draws attention to a topic related to the nuclear sector that is gaining more and more attention at international level but also in Europe.

The development of Small Modular Reactors (SMR) is clearly accelerating at international level, with strong signals being given in Europe as well.

With the announcement of new European Small Modular Reactors technologies like NuwardTM (developed by a consortium of French companies) and Rolls-Royce, combined with plans to potentially invest in SMRs in Estonia (Fermi Energia), the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland etc, it is clear that SMRs will play an important role in the European nuclear sector in the medium and long term.

Offering a wide range of applications from electricity to heat for industrial processes or district heating, SMRs provide a solution for GHG emission reductions and also help respond to some of the key issues on the EU’s agenda such as smart sector integration or hydrogen production.

They can also address, due to their flexibility, some of the challenges which European electricity markets will face due to the massive deployment of variable renewables.

In order to understand and better address the challenges and benefits of this new technology, FORATOM has established a Task Force (TF) that gathers experts in the field with a clear objective: to develop a position on the required technical, regulatory, economic and political conditions needed to support the development and deployment of SMRs for applications in Europe.

“While most of the topics on which the TF is working are in the initial stages of development, things are moving fast and in the right direction. We are confident that by working closely together all partners will be able to address any potential challenges from the very beginning enabling a smooth deployment of SMRs in different applications depending on the needs of each Member State. We acknowledge the fact that non-European Small Modular Reactors technologies, which are in more advanced stages of development, are being contemplated by some EU utilities. We believe that SMRs are of strategic importance for the EU, not only for the benefit they will bring to the system but also to maintain the EU’s technology leadership, contribute to strengthening its industrial base, ensuring long-term high qualified skills and jobs, and much more. It is therefore of paramount importance that the European Commission supports nuclear Innovation, Research and Development in this area. We also believe that, in order to ensure a smooth and rapid deployment of SMRs, a common EU approach to regulatory and licensing procedures is needed. In addition, considering the important impact of nuclear technologies as a whole in mitigating climate change, the benefits brought by the sector should be valued correctly. It is our strong belief that combining the deployment of innovative Small Modular Reactors technologies with the existing and future fleet of large reactors will contribute towards achieving the decarbonization targets the EU is committed to in the most efficient and affordable way,” FORATOM underlined.

FORATOM is ready to contribute on behalf of, and together with, its members to the work of the Commission in this field.

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