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EU to set up “industrial alliance” for SMRs – commissioner

(Montel) The EU will set up an “industrial alliance” aimed at developing small modular reactors (SMRs) early next year to counter international competition in the sector, EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton said on Tuesday.

The technology was “really an extraordinarily interesting addition” that could “easily replace a coal-fired power station”, for example, Breton told the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris.

The group will include the EU member states that already joined a nuclear alliance and have risen to 15 from the initial 11.

EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said earlier this month she would support such an initiative.

The move comes after NuScale Power, a firm developing SMRs in the US, said it was abandoning its first construction project there launched with a group of municipalities, although it would continue to work with other customers.

The news had been “presented as a big blow to SMR but I think this is greatly exaggerated”, International Energy Agency (IEA) chief Fatih Birol told the conference.

There were more than 80 other “solid” SMR projects and many governments around the world were “pushing to develop SMRs”, he said, adding there was healthy competition in China, France, the UK and “other countries”.

France planned to invest EUR 1bn in SMR growth, the government said in 2021.

In July, EDF submitted a safety file to France’s ASN nuclear safety authority seeking its opinion on its Nuward power plant project, comprising two 170 MW capacity SMRs.