Eurelectric Position Paper : Small Modular Reactors and their Role in getting the EU to Net-Zero

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  1. A holistic EU-wide regulatory approach is needed: Eurelectric calls for the EU to facilitate power generation technologies such as small modular reactors (SMRs) through a holistic EU-wide approach. SMR technology has the potential for comparatively short construction lead-times through a high degree of standardisation and modular construction of prefabricated SMR units.
  2. Potential role of SMRs in the future power mix: SMRs can be an option to replace existing coal-fired power plants and decommissioned nuclear stations, reutilising existing sites and infrastructure as well as contributing to district heating solutions. This allows the EU to consider Member States’ different starting points in their net zero efforts and recognise the full discretion of their future decarbonised power generation mix. The greatest environmental benefits of using SMRs for heating purposes can be achieved in systems based on fossil fuels that do not meet the definition of an effective heating system.
  3. Contribution to flexibility and industrial decarbonisation: Carbon-free electricity generation such as SMRs can support decarbonisation and facilitate the integration of ever-increasing shares of variable renewables in the power system. In the future, SMRs could complement variable renewable sources, enhancing efficiency and improving reliability of power supply, and provide ancillary services to ensure stable power system operations with resilience to disturbances. By providing large-scale decarbonised baseload volumes, SMRs can contribute to industrial decarbonisation and competitiveness.
  4. A European supply chain: A competitive European supply chain of technologies, components and the competences to implement SMRs must be encouraged. This would support EU strategic sovereignty and create possible competitive advantages that come with innovative new nuclear. A competitive marketplace for SMRs enables both more cost-effective build-out and market opportunities. Between EU Member States that focus on SMRs and nuclear, both nuclear-specific and non-nuclear specific SMR parts and components can be standardised and there can be collaboration between regulators. Moreover, SMR licencing may be harmonised through collaboration between national nuclear safety authorities


    • The SMR partnership initiative should be supported to strengthen European supply chains and competitiveness, conditions for financing, and research and development (R&D). An Industrial Alliance could ensure wide and efficient participation of stakeholders to build a resilient industrial strategy and accelerate SMR deployments. Groundbreaking results have already been presented by the European SMR pre-Partnership.


5. Promoting a technology neutral approach: All carbon-free power generation technologies, including SMRs, should be treated in a technology-neutral way in EU energy and industrial policy initiatives rather than in opposition. Complementarity will be key in getting to net zero and increased decarbonised power generation will be needed by 2050.

    • In this context, we welcome the inclusion of nuclear technologies among net-zero technologies in the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) as recently put forward by the European Parliament.

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