The French-led ‘nuclear alliance’ will meet again in Bratislava on Tuesday (7 November), with host Slovakia set to discuss the EU’s role in accelerating the development of small modular reactors (SMRs). Read the original French article here. At the end of August, Slovenian Conservative MEP Franc Bogovič of the European People’s Party (EPP) presented an own-initiative report to be voted on in December on the EU’s contribution to the development of small modular reactors (SMRs). Those in favour of SMRs – from 10 MW to 300 MW, compared with more than 700 MW for a conventional reactor – could make a major contribution to decarbonising the EU, particularly its energy-intensive industry and areas with patchy access to the European electricity grid. At the same time, industry players, researchers, regulatory bodies, potential customers and the European Commission set up a “European SMR pre-partnership” in June, also as a way of countering the ambitions of the US, whose projects could rapidly emerge on EU soil. Now, EU member states are also stepping up to the plate. To send out a common message on SMRs, the Nuclear Alliance, initiated by France in February, will meet for the fifth time on Tuesday in Bratislava, on the fringes of the European Nuclear Energy Forum (ENEF), which begins on Monday evening (6 November). The meeting’s main objective is to support the development of SMRs. Ahead of the meeting, 12 European ministers have already sent a joint letter on the subject to EU Green Deal chief Maroš Šefčovič, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton and Innovation and Research Commissioner Iliana Ivanova. Seen by Euractiv France, the joint letter calls on the European Commission to “create an ‘industrial alliance’ for SMRs at EU level”. The aim is to urge the Commission to “stimulate investment in European SMR capabilities and the development of a European value chain”. To achieve this, the Commission’s support must “ensure that these innovative projects benefit from existing and future European legislation,” note the signatories. In mid-September, Bogovič told Euractiv France that European support for investment could be used to encourage research, international collaborations and public-private partnerships to develop skills, workforce, demonstration projects and infrastructure for future SMRs. The EU could also reduce regulatory uncertainties for investment and promote financing mechanisms like subsidies, and low-interest loans, Bogovič said. Earlier, the MEP also proposed drawing inspiration from the American model, which authorises tax credits for SMRs and devotes $700 million to developing new forms of uranium for use in these reactors. In other words, with this new meeting, the Commission is being asked “to show ambition,” said French Energy Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher.
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