PARIS (Reuters) – Nuclear power is key to the European Union’s transition to a low-carbon economy, pro-nuclear energy countries argued on Tuesday, amid deep disagreements within the bloc over its role in complying with climate commitments.
Long-standing divisions over nuclear power in the 27-nation bloc deepened this year after disagreement over whether low-carbon-dioxide (CO2) nuclear power should count towards the EU’s renewable energy targets or not. No.
Tensions also rose between France, Spain and Germany – Europe’s biggest energy consumer, which shut down the last of its nuclear reactors last month – over whether the bloc’s planned energy infrastructure projects should support nuclear power or No.
The 16 states meeting in Paris urged the EU to provide more support to nuclear power through its energy policies, including subsidies to sustainable sectors and a Community hydrogen financing “bank”. Brussels has said only certain advanced nuclear technologies for sustainable economic zones will receive EU incentives.
French Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Ranacher, who convened the meeting, said in her opening speech, “Nuclear energy is an important asset for both our security of supply and our climate commitments.”
The meeting brought together the EU Energy Commissioner, Kadri Simson, and representatives from 14 EU countries, including Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as Italy as an observer and the United Kingdom as a non-EU guest. .
The countries also discussed how to work together to promote employment opportunities in the European nuclear power industry.
The EU has about 100 GW of installed nuclear capacity, which produces about a quarter of the bloc’s electricity.
Nuclear power can produce large amounts of CO2 free baseload electricity. European countries such as Poland – which has not yet built its first reactor – and the Czech Republic see it as a way to phase out fossil fuels.
Czech Energy Minister Jozef Sikela said, “Our goal is to discuss financing the rapid development of modern nuclear technologies as a stable source of carbon-free energy in the future.”
Nuclear energy is not renewable, as it depends on non-renewable fuel. In addition, it produces radioactive waste, which according to countries that oppose this energy source, including Austria, should encourage states to focus on renewable energy such as wind and solar to reduce CO2 emissions.
A draft statement from the countries after the meeting, seen by Reuters, says they will also focus on reducing the bloc’s dependence on Russia for nuclear fuel.
France’s Pannier-Ranachar said Brussels could contribute to the process by supporting the development of uranium fuel conversion and enrichment in Europe.