2023 promises to be the start of a new era for nuclear power in the European Union, after a July EU parliament vote to include nuclear power in the union’s sustainable development taxonomy as a “green” energy source. Here’s our quick rundown of what that decision means for the future of nuclear power technology and implementation.
Why the EU sustainable investment designation matters
When the European Union labels an industry as green, that sector can see an increase in available capital. That’s because EU-based retirement plans and other financial products have to publicly disclose how much of their underlying investments meet EU sustainable taxonomy standards, and institutional and individual investors seek out funds with a higher proportion of green investments.
The green designation for nuclear power also matters because of the timing. In addition to helping the EU adhere to its carbon emissions reduction timetable, more nuclear power production capacity can help EU member states reduce their dependence on foreign energy sources. That issue is top of mind across Europe now because of the war in Ukraine and the recent attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines
Next steps in EU green taxonomy process for nuclear power
Because of the July vote, nuclear power’s green designation is set to take effect in 2023. France, the Netherlands, Czechia, and several other EU member states strongly support the new green designation for nuclear, while Austria and some nonprofit groups are filing legal challenges to the vote. However, vetoing the new designation would require 20 of the EU’s 27 member countries to vote against it, which Reuters describes as “very unlikely.”
The impact of the EU green label on the nuclear power industry
Besides making nuclear power more appealing to investors, the EU designation also has the potential to kick-start the growth of small modular reactor (SMR) installations. SMRs are generally considered to be reactors that generate 300 MW or less of electricity. They’re also faster to set up and bring online than traditional BWR and PWR projects, which shortens the time to ROI in terms of power generation, emissions reduction, and energy independence.
SMRs also offer unique scalability benefits. Many SMR developers have designed power modules into their plants which allow for the installation of additional factory-built modular nuclear reactors, so that generation can keep up as load demand increases.
SMR developers are also exploring next-generation features that are passively safe and can address problems facing existing nuclear plants. These include cooling mediums such as molten salt or helium, and different fuel form factors such as spherical TRISO fuel or High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU) fuel.
Ready to help move the nuclear power industry forward
With more capital flowing into the nuclear sector in the EU from 2023 on, we expect to see more innovation in the emerging SMR space for safety, scalability, and energy security. Reuter-Stokes is excited to be part of this evolution. Since the 1960s, our engineers and designers have created measurement and monitoring devices for boiling water reactors (BWR) and pressurized water reactors (PWR). Now, we’re building on our decades of expertise and proven performance as we expand our product offerings to serve the SMR market as it ramps up to meet energy demand and energy transition needs.
For example, Reuter-Stokes recently agreed to work with Paragon Energy Solutions to design and manufacture SMR neutron monitoring equipment for NuScale Power. The move is part of Reuter-Stokes’ strategy “to quickly establish Reuter-Stokes as pivotal sensor technology partners across the SMR market,” said Reuter-Stokes Vice President Rod Martinez.
Learn more about how Reuter-Stokes mission critical measuring devices can help your nuclear project operate safely and reliably.