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nucleareurope discusses SMRs regulatory framework at ENSREG conference

On 25 June 2024, nucleareurope Director General Yves Desbazeille participated in a panel discussion on regulatory approaches for licensing of SMRs, with a focus on industrial organisation and safety issues. The discussion took place in the framework of the seventh European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) conference, held on 24 and 25 June, on the topic of responses to the growing interest in nuclear energy.

Yves opened his intervention by highlighting the fact that the European energy sector has faced many changes in the past 5 years, with the ongoing energy crisis triggering a shift in the minds of many players in Brussels and elsewhere, and questions of affordability and security of supply increasingly driving the political agenda.

Yves noted that, in its manifesto, the nuclear industry had recently laid out its vision and priorities for the next Commission, specifically stressing the need for a level playing field for all low-carbon technologies – which is something that is already starting to take place in terms of policy, with the inclusion of nuclear in the taxonomy and Net Zero Industry Act for example, but which also needs to take place for financing tools, where nuclear should be treated in the same way as other low-carbon sources. The US, for instance, is already providing support for a shift from carbon intensive sources to nuclear, illustrated by the creation of a fund permitting the transition of former coal sites into SMR sites.

Yves also insisted on the need to be prepared for capability increases in terms of supply chain and skills, adding that the involvement of the Commission within the European Industrial Alliance on SMRs is a positive sign which creates a momentum and a framework for the development of SMRs, and that it is now for the industry to deliver to reach the goals of the Alliance.

Specifying that the European Industrial Alliance on SMRs is a project-based alliance, Yves stressed that it is important for industry to first understand the regulatory framework, and that the licensing processes should start as soon as possible in order to identify potential hurdles.

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