The European Commission has confirmed that nuclear will form the backbone of a carbon-free European power system, together with renewables. With each Member State free to choose its own energy mix, the Commission underlines that those which are investing in nuclear agree that it can contribute to security of energy supply, competitiveness and cleaner electricity production.
"Nuclear is a low-carbon source of baseload electricity capable of ensuring security of supply"
Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Directive
"FORATOM is delighted that not only does the EU recognise nuclear as a low-carbon source of electricity, it also acknowledges that nuclear is capable of reducing Europe's dependence on fossil fuel imports and ensuring security of supply", states Yves Desbazeille, Director General of FORATOM. "As our Pathways to 2050: role of nuclear in a low-carbon Europe study shows, nuclear can contribute to an ambitious decarbonisation of the European economy. By taking a step in the right direction, the Commission has demonstrated a real commitment to reducing CO2 emissions across Europe".
This communication comes just one day after the official launch of the International Energy Agency's (IEA) latest World Energy Outlook in Brussels. During this event, Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Directive, issued a stark warning to the EU that current policies are discouraging investments in new nuclear power plants and the long-term operation of existing reactors. He called on the EU to bear in mind that nuclear is a low-carbon source of baseload electricity capable of ensuring security of supply – important attributes when dealing with the variability of renewable energy sources.
"Even at Member State level, we are seeing a shift in opinion" adds Mr Desbazeille. "Poland has informally taken the decision to invest in nuclear in order to reduce its CO2 emissions whilst ensuring it has access to the electricity it needs. France has decided to delay any decisions on cutting nuclear capacity due to the challenges which this would pose. We hope to see, in the near future, more such decisions and declarations that will contribute to the overall EU efforts of decarbonising its 2050 economy with the help of nuclear".
In its strategy, the Commission has also drawn inspiration from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (Global Warming of 1.5°C) which highlights the need to step up international climate action. The report also indicates that a sharp increase in nuclear energy production is needed to keep global warming below 1.5°C.