The European Council has taken sides on the proposed Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA), intended to bolster Europe's manufacturing output in technologies needed for decarbonization. As with the European Parliament's position, issued last month, nuclear power has been included in the list of "strategic" technologies.
The NZIA , a proposal presented by the European Commission in March 2024, charts a course for Europe to generate 40% of its net-zero technologies by 2030 and concurrently secure a 25% share of the global market for these technologies. This legislative initiative, a pivotal component of the EU's Green Deal Industrial Plan, is viewed as a strategic response to the USA's Inflation Reduction Act. One of its key aims is to address the formidable challenges associated with the expansion of manufacturing capacities in the realm of net-zero technologies.
NZIA is a legislation intended to bolster Europe's manufacturing output in technologies needed for decarbonization
Nuclear technologies, although only partially incorporated into the initial proposal by the commission, play a significant role. The 10 technologies delineated in the proposal include "advanced technologies to produce energy from nuclear processes with minimal waste from the fuel cycle, small modular reactors, and related best-in-class fuels."
Nuclear technologies will play a significant role in NZIA.
Towards the end of October, heads of state and governments issued a collective call to both the European Council and the European Parliament, urging them to expeditiously reach an agreement on the Net-Zero Industry Act. The objective is to finalize this groundbreaking legislation before the conclusion of the current legislative cycle.
On November 21, the European Parliament took a stance on the proposed law, incorporating nuclear fission and fusion among the 17 technologies encompassed by the legislation.
The subsequent decision by the Council on December 7 demonstrated support for the fundamental goals of the Net-Zero Industry Act while introducing several enhancements. Notably, the Council expanded the list of strategic net-zero technologies from 8 to 10, explicitly including nuclear and sustainable alternative fuels. Importantly, it emphasized that such designations should not impede Member States' autonomy in determining their energy mix or the allocation of EU funds during the existing multiannual budget.
European Parliament incorporated nuclear fission and fusion among the 17 technologies encompassed by the legislation
The Council's decision also broadened the list of non-strategic net-zero technologies to encompass biotech climate and energy solutions, other nuclear technologies, and transformative industrial technologies for energy-intensive industries.
Under the Council's position, strategic net-zero technologies stand to benefit from streamlined permitting procedures and increased support to attract investments, all while ensuring compliance with EU and international obligations.