Alliance urges EU recognition of nuclear energy

18 May 2023

The Nuclear Alliance, a French initiative comprising 16 European countries seeking to further develop nuclear power, has issued a statement calling on the European Commission (EC) to recognise nuclear energy in the EU's energy strategy and relevant policies. The statement came after a meeting in Paris with European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.

France's Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, initiated the meeting, which was held at the Ministry for Energy Transition. In addition to France, the countries represented included Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden. Italy attended as an observer and the UK as a “guest”.

This was the third meeting of the alliance. The first was held in Stockholm in February and the second in Brussels in March. The French Ministry of Energy Transition said the Alliance “aims to bring together all the countries of Europe wishing to rely on nuclear energy, alongside renewables, to carry out their energy transition”.

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told the meeting the EU budget is not allowed to be used for nuclear generation, but planned electricity market design reforms could in theory help the sector obtain outside financing more easily. She also said the EC will in early 2024 provide a study of European nuclear infrastructure and has asked countries to submit investment plans detailing their needs for new nuclear generation, including job requirements.

The meeting included two round tables, one on how to build an independent European nuclear supply chain and one on the needs of the European nuclear industry revival, notably skills and innovation.

Discussions included the need to further reduce dependence on Russian suppliers and to guarantee the security of supply of nuclear materials, particularly nuclear fuel, for power and non-power uses.

A joint statement said: "Nuclear power may provide up to 150 GW of electricity capacity by 2050 to the European Union (vs roughly 100 GW today).This represents the equivalent of up to 30-45 newbuild large reactors and small modular reactors in the EU and such new projects would also ensure that the current share of 25% electricity production be maintained in the EU for nuclear energy." It called for a European action plan to develop cooperation around nuclear power, especially in terms of skills, innovation, safety, dismantling and waste standards.

Participants agreed "to work together on a road map to deepen their cooperation and trigger the involvement of the European Union in the field of nuclear energy". This includes "promoting better conditions for the development and deployment of new nuclear energy capacity in the EU, including better access to financing".

The statement added: "In terms of impact on jobs and growth, the European nuclear sector expects to create in the EU, by 2050, 300,000 additional, new direct, indirect and induced jobs. Taking into account retirements, the nuclear energy sector would recruit more than 450,000 employees in the EU over the next 30 years, including more than 200,000 highly skilled people."

Ahead of a further meeting, expected to take place in June in Luxembourg on the sidelines of the European Energy Council, the Alliance will prepare a roadmap to detail its members’ ambitions. The EC has also “asked for a common paper highlighting the nature of the projects”, said Pannier-Runacher.

Image: French Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher (centre) and "nuclear alliance" representatives from Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom (courtesy of EURACTIV)

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