“Nuward is the European SMR project for Europe!” asserts Renaud Crassous

During the World Nuclear Exhibition (WNE) held from November 28 to 30 (watch the live stream in French here), numerous concepts of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were presented, with particular emphasis on the French SMR Nuward, supported by EDF and Framatome. We spoke with Renaud Crassous, President of Nuward.
The presentations on Nuward garnered significant attention during WNE. Is your SMR the star of the show?

I believe the star of the show is the growing awareness that nuclear power can contribute significantly to the energy transition. There is now a widely held conviction on this point, shared by everyone working in the nuclear industry. That’s why they get up every morning. What is particularly striking at WNE is the increasing number of visits from political figures, public decision-makers, and journalists. We are overwhelmed by the interest.

What has changed?

It indicates a resurgence of nuclear power perceived as one of the real complementary solutions alongside energy efficiency and renewables. I am not only pleased with Nuward’s success but also with the presence of dozens of startups and the significant resurgence of the industry’s strength.

Let’s not forget that we still need to provide tens of terawatt-hours to make a significant impact on the energy transition. Therefore, we must rely on all these complementary actors. No one sees different nuclear technologies as interchangeable anymore. Large-scale power plants, SMRs, closed fuel cycle, various applications such as high-temperature processes for industry—we need them all.

How is the Nuward project progressing? The target of starting construction by 2030 seems ambitious.

Yes, 2030 is a very ambitious timeline, but it was not randomly chosen. It is dictated by market dynamics because today, all interested countries in Europe (such as the Czech Republic, Finland, the United Kingdom, Sweden) are aiming for their first SMR between 2031 and 2034. Therefore, we need to be ready just before in France. This goal is ambitious, and we are working tirelessly with our partners, including Framatome, to achieve it. The project has entered the Basic Design phase, and there are still technical issues to resolve. We are also looking to expand our European contacts because Nuward is truly a European project for Europe.

There was a setback for the Nuscale SMR in the United States. Does this have any impact on Nuward?

This event does not disrupt the nuclear industry players. It shakes the general public, which is discovering that there are challenging moments in the development of all innovative technologies. For SMRs, there are two challenging phases. The first is between technology development and the first project, the “first of a kind,” where securing financing, site approval, and public opinion are critical. The second challenging phase is the prospect of a series of reactors. We know that the competitiveness of SMRs will come from standardization and economies of scale. This is a task that industry, government authorities, and all stakeholders must engage in from the outset.

Interview by Ludovic Dupin

Photo: artist’s view of Nuward – @Nuward