The oil price crisis appears to have encouraged the European commissioner for energy to be more positive regarding nuclear energy than she has been in the past.
Speaking at the Coaltrans conference in Madrid, Loyola de Palacio aired fears about the EU becoming over-dependent on oil, especially when it has to fulfil its climate change commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. She said: “Nuclear energy has made it possible to avoid 800 million tonnes of emissions per year, and it provides 35% of all electricity produced in the EU. Giving up the nuclear option would make it impossible to achieve the objectives of combating climate change.
“Nuclear options should be examined in relation to its contribution to our prime concerns of security of supply and reduction in CO2 emissions. Paradoxically, the contribution of nuclear energy to the stablisation of CO2 emissions is often underestimated. It is important that research efforts be stepped up, mainly concerning radioactive waste management.”