PINC: EC opens the discussion on nuclear energy trends and investments
FORATOM, the voice of the European nuclear industry, takes note of the publication by the European Commission (EC) of the “Nuclear Illustrative Programme” (PINC). The EC is mandated by Article 40 of the Euratom Treaty to periodically issue a new PINC to indicate targets for nuclear production and the corresponding investments required to attain them. The last PINC was published in 2007, updated in 2008.
FORATOM notes the PINC conclusion that nuclear energy is expected to remain an important component of the EU’s energy mix in the 2050 horizon “as a low carbon technology and a significant contributor to security of supply and diversification”. FORATOM shares the EC’s view that “the EU must maintain its technological leadership in the nuclear domain (…) so as not to increase energy and technology dependence, and to give business opportunities for European companies. This will in turn support EU growth, jobs and competitiveness”.
The EC’s outlook that nuclear capacity in the EU would decrease to around 100 GWe by 2050, from 120 GWe today, does not seem consistent with the above conclusion; if the share of nuclear electricity were to decline, the challenges of meeting the EU’s climate and security of supply goals would become much harder. In this respect, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), in their Technology Roadmap 2015, express a strong view that global nuclear capacity needs to more than double by 2050 if the 2 degrees Celsius target is to be met. FORATOM regrets that the PINC contains no ambitious nuclear
energy production targets.
FORATOM notes the PINC’s conclusions that “significant investments are needed” for the lifetime extension of reactors as well as for the construction of new nuclear reactors across Europe. The PINC should in this respect address the market failures hampering these investments from taking place. These failures are affecting the profitability of existing nuclear plants as well as the construction of new ones. FORATOM is expecting the EC to take up a leadership position and propose concrete solutions to facilitate investments in nuclear alongside other low-carbon technologies.
Better coordination of national licensing authorities and standardization across the EU would reduce the barriers to deployment of nuclear technologies in the Member States and enable nuclear vendors and supply chain companies to compete more effectively in the international market. The EC rightly recognises that the process for licensing nuclear technology, which is an
exclusive competence of national regulatory bodies, serves as an “opportunity for enhanced cooperation”. The nuclear industry is in favour of acceleration of these efforts whilst insisting on the need to also improve the energy market framework and the investment climate.
Jean-Pol Poncelet, FORATOM Director General, said: “The PINC only offers a ‘photograph’ of nuclear energy in Europe. What we now need is a vision and strong leadership in order to promote nuclear as part of the solution to climate change, in view of the recent agreement at the COP21 conference in Paris and the EC’s important role in securing it. I believe the EC has missed an opportunity to underline nuclear energy as a reliable low carbon technology and a major contributor to the goals of the Energy Union”.
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