WENRA supports the Small Modular and Advanced Nuclear Reactors development

The Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) published a statement advocating the development of Small Modular and Advanced Nuclear Reactors.

An increasing number of countries favour the development of Small Modular and Advanced Nuclear Reactors to decarbonise the energy sector in the context of climate change, with a strong expetation from stakeholders on the national licensing processes to be completed expeditiously. The business models for such reactors require that they are manufactured in a large number of copies with a generic design licensable in several countries without significant changes. Therefore, vendors, licensees and some governments encourage regulatory bodies to work towards harmonisation of regulatory requirements to streamline the technology licensing and facilitate mutual recognition of safety reviews performed by their counterparts.

As WENRA states, the key role of the nuclear industry is to:

  • ensure that reactor designs are of sufficient maturity so that design substantiations submitted to national regulators are complete, ensuring that the regulatory assessment process is applied effectively;
  • provide timely design submissions to national regulatory authorities to facilitate regulatory collaboration;
  • comprehensively understand national legal and regulatory framework.

This can be achieved, as per WENRA, while preserving the principle of national responsibility for safety, through:

  • early engagement with vendors and other stakeholders to provide clarification on regulatory expectations and facilitate efficient regulatory processes;
  • collaboration in joint assessments of Small Modular Reactor and Advanced Nuclear Reactor designs, where appropriate;
  • development of processes to benefit from the regulatory assessments previously performed by other national regulatory authorities.

WENRA Members reaffirmed their readiness to foster mutual cooperation on safety assessment of reactor designs in this area and encourage their governments to provide regulatory bodies with an appropriate mandate and sufficient resources, if needed.