[Leaders Times] At the 16th European Nuclear Energy Forum on Tuesday, the European Commission revealed its strategy to champion the Small Modular Reactor Industry Alliance.
To foster the growth of the European clean energy sector, the Commission is bringing together industrial associations comprising governments, researchers, and civil society, spanning areas like batteries, solar power, and hydrogen. The goal is to cultivate a supportive regulatory framework that encourages European manufacturing and facilitates the exchange of technology and expertise.
Despite varying opinions among EU member states regarding nuclear power, the Commission has taken a measured stance on supporting nuclear projects due to their high costs and prolonged construction timelines. Last year, a group of 12 member states, led by France, formed a 'nuclear energy union' advocating for the classification of nuclear energy as eco-friendly. Recently, energy ministers from these countries urged the formation of an EU-level SMR industrial alliance in a joint letter to the Commission.
The Commission perceives a shifting perspective on nuclear power, recognizing its importance in enhancing energy supply chain security, achieving climate and energy objectives, and bolstering European technological leadership and strategic autonomy in the energy sector.
In response, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson announced at the European Nuclear Energy Forum that preparations for the creation of the EU SMR Industrial Alliance will commence in the coming months. By establishing a regulatory framework through the SMR Industry Alliance, the EU aims to secure a competitive edge globally, particularly against China and the United States.
However, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, remains skeptical about supporting the nuclear industry, stating that she does not view nuclear power as a strategic technology for achieving climate neutrality in Europe. Some member states, including Germany and Austria, oppose supporting the nuclear industry, potentially hindering the progress of the SMR Industry Alliance.
Meanwhile, France insists that nuclear power should be treated on par with renewable energy, and EU funding institutions like the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Development and Reconstruction Bank (EBRD) should provide equal support.
Notably, the nuclear industry is expected to generate around 300,000 jobs by 2050.