Nuclear included in IEA plan to reduce Russian gas imports

March 14, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The European Union could reduce imports of Russian natural gas by more than a third within a year through a combination of measures that would support energy security and affordability and would be consistent with the European Green Deal, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.

“Nobody is under any illusions anymore,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol on announcing the release of the report, A 10-Point Plan to Reduce the European Union’s Reliance on Russian Natural Gas. “Russia’s use of its natural gas resources as an economic and political weapon shows Europe needs to act quickly to be ready to face considerable uncertainty over Russian gas supplies next winter. . . . Europe needs to rapidly reduce the dominant role of Russia in its energy markets and ramp up the alternatives as quickly as possible.”

Good point: Among its recommended actions, the 10-point plan calls for maximizing generation from existing dispatchable low-emissions sources—such as nuclear and bioenergy.

According to the IEA, the return to service of several reactors that were taken off line last year for maintenance and safety checks—along with the expected start of commercial operations at Finland’s Olkiluoto-3—could lead to an increase in EU nuclear power generation of up to 20 TWh.

However, because the impending retirement of four EU reactors (three units in Germany and one in Belgium are scheduled to shut down by the end of the year) threatens to jeopardize this recovery in output, the IEA is calling for a temporary delay of the closures, which, it says, could cut EU gas demand by almost 1 billion cubic meters per month.

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