Nuclear energy could provide the European Union with “up to 150 GW of electricity capacity by 2050” through the safe operation of existing nuclear facilities, the deployment of 30 to 45 new large reactors, and the development of small modular reactors, according to a statement issued last week by Europe’s Nuclear Alliance, following a meeting in Paris with European commissioner for energy Kadri Simson. Currently, nuclear energy provides the EU with about 100 GW of installed capacity.
Should the EU follow through with these actions, it can expect an increase of some €92 billion (about $99.6 billion) in its GDP by 2050, plus the creation of an additional 300,000 direct and indirect jobs, including 200,000 skilled jobs, the alliance said in its statement.
Meeting the moment: Spearheaded by France and launched earlier this year with an initial meeting in Stockholm, the Nuclear Alliance is a group of ministers and other high-level officials from European countries who advocate for greater European cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.
Brought together for the May 16 meeting by French minister for energy transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher were representatives of 16 European countries, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Sweden. Italy had a presence as an “observer” and the United Kingdom was an “invitee.”
During the meeting, participants stressed nuclear’s role as a key contributor to the EU’s goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest.
Participants also agreed to work on a roadmap to enhance their cooperation and deepen the EU’s involvement in nuclear, based on five “pillars”: positioning of nuclear power in the European energy strategy, safety and waste management, industrialization and sovereignty, skills, and innovation.
“This third meeting of the member countries of the Nuclear Alliance has made great progress,” said Pannier-Runacher in a press release from her ministry’s office. “At the end of our discussions, we decided to call, together, for the implementation of a European action plan to develop cooperation around nuclear power, whether in terms of skills, innovation, safety standards, dismantling, waste in particular. . . . We are putting ourselves in battle order to achieve this. Beyond the opportunities for our economies and jobs, this will help strengthen our continent’s energy independence and achieve our climate goals, the most ambitious in the world.”
Yves Desbazeille, director general of Nucleareurope (formerly Foratom) was also invited to attend the meeting, to provide insights into the European nuclear industry.
“This meeting shows that an ever-growing number of member states recognize that if we want to decarbonize our economy in a sustainable and affordable way, then the EU needs to support the development of both nuclear and renewables,” Desbazeille noted. “Too much time has been wasted on pitching one technology against another. Demand for low-carbon electricity is expected to massively increase over the coming years. So, the EU now needs to move forward with pragmatic and technology neutral policies which focus on achieving our goals: decarbonization, security of supply, and affordability.”