This debate focuses on the strategic significance of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in the European Union's energy landscape.
As the EU strives to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, SMRs emerge as a promising solution,blending low-carbon electricity production with innovative nuclear technology. SMRs, with their reduced size and flexible deployment, offer a pathway to decarbonize various sectors, including industry and transportation.
The European Parliament recognizes the potential of SMRs in enhancing energy security, reducing dependence on external fossil fuels, and supporting the EU's global competitiveness in this rapidly developing field.
Key aspects include the need for a comprehensive strategy for SMR deployment, considering the specific needs of different regions and sectors, and addressing the challenges of licensing processes, global supply chain development, public perception, and waste management. The debate should underscore the imperative of collaborative efforts and financial support for R&D to bring these technologies to fruition, thereby contributing to the EU’s energy mix and climate objectives.
As we wrote in the report on SMRs, it is very important that we develop this new generations of nuclear technologies. We ask in the report support from the European Commission and it is very promising what we heard from Commissioner Kadri Simson at the nuclear forum in Bratislava, that the Commission will support also these initiatives.
We have started to work on this four years ago, when the focus was very much on large reactors, and the attention of the Commission was more on the renewables. Then we had joint business to business event with the US, we realized that the US was very much about the “let's get the SMR's rolling”.
We realize that in on the European side, we're researching, we're designing, which is great, but we don't have anything that's ready for to market. So, we came up with ambitious targets to get SMRs deployed in the EU by 2030.
In order to fully decarbonize our societies, we will have not only to provide low Carbon electricity to the grid, but also to tackle the challenge of low carbon Hydrogen and Industrial Heat. SMRs can play a role to achieve these goals, with more flexible siting possibilities, simpler design and passive safety features, and a different economic model, relying on having a series of units assembled from prefabricated modules.
To make it a reality for Europe though, support is needed, to foster joint pre-evaluation by national regulators, set-up the supply chain at the European level, bring the first-of-a-kinds online, and enable the R&D efforts for the advanced concepts. Access to low Carbon energy in all its forms is a critical issue for the future of the European industry, and also a matter of sovereignty: by promoting European concepts, we will ensure our independence and a maximum share of the value chain for Europe.
The Nuclear Alliance issued a statement where they consider that 150 GW of nuclear installed capacity is achievable in 2050. SMRs are part of this solution, with about the 50 GW from classic SMRs and around 10 GW, starting from 2040 from AMRs. This SMR own initiative report, for which I must congratulate Mr. Bogovič, was a fantastic document and we saw the results in the ITRE Committee. It's impressive, but it's also triggering the discussion.
Nuclear energy is a key component for a sustainable global energy system. The integration of SMRs and AMRs will complement the existing offer for large nuclear reactors in such sustainable energy systems. Three key challenges for these reactors are: ensuring bankability, timely delivery, and developing an efficient fuel cycle and waste management strategy.
Deploying a clear, concise, and coordinated regulatory framework at the EU-level is key to ensure the rapid and effective deployment of SMRs and other innovative nuclear technologies.
We need something that supports the stability of the system as well. This is how we can attain our sovereignty and support EU industry activity in the long term.