THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ENDORSES SMALL MODULAR NUCLEAR REACTORS

At its session held on 12 December 2023, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on small modular reactors (2023/2109(INI)). It states that the decision is based on that “nuclear energy is a zero emissions technology that does not lead to air pollution and therefore SMRs have the potential to contribute to meeting the EU’s climate and environmental goals” and “nuclear energy can contribute to improving energy security in Europe and particularly in Member States that choose to use it, given its relatively low fuel and operating costs and proven ability to provide a stable and reliable baseload of electricity supply”.

At the same time, the Resolution acknowledges that the climate crisis must be overcome and that the EU should focus on ” the full range of net zero emissions solutions in order to amplify its chances to reach climate neutrality by 2050, as well as diversify its energy production capacity to enhance security of supply “. In this regard, the potential of small modular reactors (MMRs) for “reliable and affordable supply of electricity on demand, with potential capacity to provide solid basic clean electricity, heat and steam for industry and households, including the possible upgrading of coal-fired power plants” is highlighted.

As well as to highlighting the potential of the MMR to “stimulate economic growth, create jobs and contribute to the EU’s global competitiveness”, the resolution also draws attention to the need to improve existing training in key nuclear skills in compliance with the specific requirements of small modular reactors, ensuring the prevention of skills and knowledge shortages, especially with regard to those in high demand in the nuclear industry.

The European Parliament, in its resolution, welcomed “the creation of the so-called European SMR partnership in the form of a collaboration scheme involving industrial stakeholders, research and technological organisations, interested customers, European regulators and the Commission”, while calling on the European Commission to actively engage in the development of projects for small modular reactors and to launch the elaboration of a specific EU industrial strategy for SMRs, which would includes “the efficient permitting procedures and access to finance and stable supply chains, with a view to enabling the deployment of domestic SMR technologies and raising awareness of SMRs.”

Association “Bulgarian Atomic Forum” BULATOM welcomes the resolution adopted by the European Parliament. The findings, recommendations and commitments formulated in it give hope that the efforts of the European nuclear community in recent years, for the recognition of nuclear energy as clean, emission-free and sustainable energy, energy necessary to achieve climate neutrality and for the development of new innovative technologies in all spheres of economic life, is in the right direction and gives results.

In connection with the adopted Resolution, we would like to remind that in recent years BulAtom has repeatedly stated its position on the need in the period up to 2030 to take all the necessary measures to ensure readiness for the implementation of SMRs construction projects by ensuring regulatory capacity and other institutional support for interested local and foreign investors. Until now, the various strategic documents do not take into account the development of new nuclear technologies based on small modular reactors (SMRs) and the possibility of realizing such projects based on future reference commercial applications and the accumulation of practical operational experience. 

BulAtom expresses its optimism that the resolution adopted by the EP and the recently signed letter by 12 member states of the European Union, including Bulgaria, calling on the European Commission to create a “pan-European industrial alliance” for the development of SMRs and a European supply chain value, will lead to catching up with the backwardness of our country in planning the implementation of such projects.

The European Parliament resolution on Small Modular Reactors (2023/2109(INI)) can be read here