European SMR Pre-Partnership
On 29 June 2021, in response to the call of the European nuclear industry and the R&D&I community, the European Commission organized the first EU Workshop on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). This event showed a growing interest across the EU in this technology and confirmed its potential to play a role in the overall decarbonisation efforts.
A major outcome of this workshop was the endorsement of a “vision paper” containing a proposal for a European SMR Partnership in the form of a collaboration scheme involving industrial stakeholders, research & technological organisations, interested customers (i.e. utilities and even Member States) as well as European policy-makers and regulators with the aim of creating enabling conditions for the first European SMRs to start operating in the initial years of the next decade.
There is a large number of SMR designs and technologies that are currently at very different stages of development worldwide. The EU, with its unique experience and expertise in nuclear technology research and development, can play a key role in developing safe and competitive SMRs. Commercial deployment of SMR projects would prevent the loss of European industrial and research capacities in such a cutting-edge technology, thus decreasing Europe’s strong dependence on foreign industries.
This Partnership should focus primarily on SMRs technologies needed at the very beginning of next decade to play a significant role in reaching the Net Zero goal by 2050 in Europe. To ensure long term sustainability beyond 2050, Advanced Modular Reactors based on new technologies (e.g. technologies reducing significantly the production of radioactive waste or technologies providing heat sources directly usable for different industrial purposes) should also be dealt with in the frame of this Partnership.
The Partnership should facilitate support from national governments and European institutions to seize opportunities and gain market shares when confronted with competitors from non-EU countries, to develop the European SMR value chain and increase international marketing on the field.
The launch of the Partnership was preceeded in 2022 by the creation of a Steering Committee (SC) during a pre-Partnership phase, which should give general direction in drafting and rolling out of a roadmap to facilitate the development and deployment of SMRs in Europe.
Objective, tasks and membership of the European SMR pre-Partnership
The objective of the European SMR pre-Partnership is to identify enabling conditions and constraints 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.
During 2022 and beyond, if necessary, the European SMR pre-Partnership SC should:
- Review and validate the work program (main deliverables, schedule) for each WS
- Ensure smooth coordination across WSs, set milestones and ensure proper conclusions / outcomes
- Analyse potential constraints to overcome for the next phase (Partnership) and propose solutions (including policy recommendations at European / national level if needed);
- Review enabling conditions for SMRs development in Europe and propose approaches to activate them or further develop them if necessary;
- Prepare the conditions for the next phase (Partnership implementation phase) which shall cover all relevant aspects (legal, resources, ….) and the ground for the Partnership phase with proper benchmarking of other coalition initiatives at EU level (batteries, hydrogen, etc.);
- Interact / report on progress made with the Stakeholder forum on a regular basis;
- Coordinate relationships with international partners (such as UK, USA, CAN, JP, etc.) and international organisations (such as IAEA, OECD-NEA, etc.).
- The terms of reference and the work-plans (including specific objectives and milestones) for each WSs;
- The necessary roadmap to prepare the creation of this “European SMR Partnership”;
- Reports or analyses summarising the constraints and the enabling conditions in view of the safe design, construction and operation of SMRs in Europe in the next decade and beyond;
- The preliminary governance and the legal framework for the establishment of the “European SMR Partnership”.
- One member from ENSREG,
- One member from nucleareurope,
- One member from SNETP,
- One member from the European Commission
- The nominated Chairs of the five WSs,
WS 1: Market integration and deployment
The main objectives of this WS would be to characterize the European markets and the export markets in a quantitative way i.e. to examine future market needs for SMRs (flexibility + system services, in a context of high RES deployment), competitiveness, SMRs as technology replacing coal plants, SMRs potential co-generation (non-power) applications for H2 production, desalination, district and process heating, etc. The deliverable will be quantitative market studies.
This WS would also address the question of public opinion on nuclear: how SMRs are perceived.
WS 2: Licensing
The main objectives of this WS would be to streamline nuclear safety pre-licensing processes in interested EU countries in a way that a same SMR design could comply without significant modifications with the regulations set by these different European nuclear regulatory authorities, without hampering their prerogatives. It would identify the elements for establishing a pre-licensing process based on commonly accepted safety assessments from different ENSREG members interested in the licensing of the same SMR design.
WS 3: Financing & partnership
The main objectives of this WS would be to explore and identify all possible options for financing European SMRs, from support to R&D developments, demonstrators up to industrial deployment, including EU and national instruments, (e.g. conditions for a Private Public Partnership at EU level) and to define the needs for a conducive investment environment / framework for SMRs in Europe.
WS 4: Supply Chain adaptation
The main objectives of this WS would be to identify specific needs for SMR manufacturing & designs, analyse standardisation potential of SMRs, analyse the potential use of Non-Nuclear standard components, identify ways to maximise new tools and methods in SMRs manufacture & through-life operation/I&M – digitalisation, novel techniques, etc. The work shall focus on the European supply chain.
WS 5: Innovation, Research & Development
The main objectives of this WS would be to define a comprehensive R&D&I strategic agenda and roadmap coherent with market needs, licensing requirements, supply chain readiness and sustainability for SMRs development and their use for various applications (Heat, Hydrogen, …). It should also identify the needed facilities to perform this programme, and set up a coherent and consistent training and education programme.
The different WSs should take into account, when relevant, the different international conventions applying to nuclear installations (e.g. Espoo, Aarhus, 3rd party nuclear liability (Paris and Vienna Conventions, and supplementary Conventions)) and other relevant EU legislations outside of the nuclear field (e.g. Environmental Impact Assessment Directive).