Franco-Italian alliance eyes small nuclear

A new European energy grouping has been formed with plans to facilitate the development of the rapidly emerging risk known as small nuclear.

French power group EDF, Edison, and Italy’s Ansaldo Energia and its unit Ansaldo Nucleare are assessing whether they can cooperate on the development of nuclear energy in Europe, they said.

The aim of the cooperation is to leverage the specific expertise of all signatories and assess potential industrial cooperation for the development of nuclear power in Europe, specifically in the field of Small Modular Reactors (SMR).

As such, Ansaldo Energia, Ansaldo Nucleare, EDF and Edison have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to collaborate on the development of new nuclear power in Europe and to promote its deployment.

The aim of the agreement is to leverage the expertise of the Italian nuclear power sector, headed by Ansaldo Nucleare, in order to support the development of EDF Group’s new nuclear projects, and at the same time to open a debate on the possible role of new nuclear power in Italy’s energy transition.

Ansaldo Energia Group, EDF and Edison will also assess the potential for the development and implementation of new nuclear power in Italy, given the growing need for energy security and independence of the Italian electricity system.

According to the four signatories, nuclear power complements renewable sources, guaranteeing stability and contributing to the environmental sustainability of the electricity system, considering Europe’s and Italy’s ambitious decarbonisation targets that set 2050 as the deadline for achieving climate neutrality. 

Indeed, they added, nuclear power is one of the best energy sources in terms of low carbon dioxide emissions, ensures reduced land footprint per unit of installed capacity and guarantees optimal production programmability. Furthermore, new reactors, such as the Small Modular Reactors, boast very high safety features, require limited investments, and can be used to produce both electricity and heat, thereby meeting the needs of the energy system and territories in a flexible way.

“EDF has the ambition to foster international partnerships to deploy a portfolio of nuclear technologies to support Europe towards its net-zero targets,” said Vakis Ramany, EDF senior vice president in charge of international new nuclear development. 

“We are willing to strengthen the cooperation with the Italian industry and the signing of this Letter of Intent with Ansaldo Energia, Ansaldo Nucleare and Edison is a first important step towards a stronger and lasting partnership. This will reinforce the European supply chain of our technologies in a context where many European countries are planning for new nuclear programmes.”