Despite dramatic energy crisis, Commission continues to ignore nuclear
Brussels, 20 July 2022: nucleareurope is very disappointed to see the Commission continuing to ignore the value of nuclear given the current energy crisis. The draft version of its “Save gas for a safe winter” communication, leaked last week, included a recommendation to postpone planned nuclear phase outs to help boost energy supplies. Furthermore, the draft also recommended switching to nuclear where possible in order to reduce gas consumption. Regrettably, the Commission has given into the ideological pressure of a minority and removed these recommendations in the final version published today.
“Let’s be very clear: Europe is facing an unprecedent energy and climate crisis. More and more stakeholders have been calling into question plans by some Member States to phase out nuclear and replace it primarily with gas” states Yves Desbazeille, nucleareurope Director General. “Europe’s dependence on fossil fuel imports is not good for the climate, security of supply nor energy prices. And yet, the Commission has once again back-out from including nuclear in its recommendations, based solely on ideological opposition. This is a slap in the face for those who will suffer most from the current crisis.”
The goal of this Communication is to prepare Europe for further disruptions in gas supplies coming from Russia. It puts forward several recommendations to ensure the EU has enough energy available to make it through the winter. Nevertheless, these have been significantly weakened compared to last week’s draft when it comes to nuclear.
Regarding electricity generation, the leaked draft noted that work is ongoing to assess ‘winter electricity preparedness’, taking into account the availability of nuclear power plants (as well as hydropower reserves). It indicated that, based on this, a significant amount of gas could be saved by switching to other sources for electricity production. As a result, the proposal originally called for “postponing the shutdown of nuclear power plants where feasible or switching to nuclear where this is an option”. It went even further to say that whilst the decision to postpone the phasing out of nuclear plants lies with the Member States, they were encouraged to take into account the impact which such a decision could have on the security of supply of other Member States, essentially starting to question the phasing out of nuclear power in countries such as Germany and Belgium.
“We are in the midst of an energy crisis combined with a climate emergency” notes Mr Desbazeille. “Maintaining the existing nuclear fleet, and starting to prepare for new nuclear projects, will go a long way towards helping Europe navigate through this crisis and get back on track when it comes to tackling climate change and ensuring security of supply. The time has come for the EU to move beyond its ideological opposition to nuclear and start acting responsibly towards its citizens”.
About us: nucleareurope is the Brussels-based trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe. Our membership is currently composed of 15 national nuclear associations and 6 corporate members. As a result, we represent nearly 3,000 European companies working in the industry which support around 1,100,000 jobs.
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