EU Energy Initiative Recognises Role of Nuclear Energy in European Energy Future

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

On 10 January 2007, the European Commission (EC) presented an “energy package”, which consists of a Communication entitled An Energy Policy for Europe, communications and reports on coal, biofuels, nuclear (the so-called PINC); a competition enquiry into electricity and gas markets and a green paper on climate change . It will lead to the adoption of an Action Plan on a common European Energy Policy by the European Council next March. The communication on energy policy and the PINC (Nuclear Illustrative Programme) clearly recognise the key contribution that nuclear energy makes to the achievement of the EU's security of supply, climate change and competitiveness goals. It also highlights how nuclear energy is and will remain a key component of the EU's energy mix.

You can find these documents in the Energy section of the Commission website at: and the EC press releases on the issue at:

The EC also published a new Eurobarometer on Energy Technologies. The survey reveals that European citizens now rank nuclear energy as likely to be the third “most used” energy source in 30 years time - after solar and wind.

You can also read the press release on the strategic energy review and the latest FORATOM position papers related to this issue at: (link to press release and to PINC, Green Paper, Climate Change position papers )

The Communication clearly recognises the central role that nuclear energy will play in promoting low-carbon energy and competitiveness. According to the provisional copy of the Communication: “…nuclear energy is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide (CO2)free energy in Europe . Nuclear power is less vulnerable to fuel price changes than coal or gas-fired generation, as uranium represents a limited part of the total cost of generating nuclear electricity and is based on sources which are sufficient for many decades and widely distributed around the globe.” The Communication also refers to nuclear energy as: “one of the cheapest sources of low carbon energy that is presently produced in the EU and has relatively low costs. The next generation of nuclear reactors should reduce these costs further.” On the key subject of climate change and Kyoto commitments, the EC is equally unequivocal: “Reinforcing nuclear power generation could also represent one option for reducing CO2 emissions and play a major role in addressing global climate change. This could also feature as an important consideration when discussing future emissions trading schemes.”

Therefore the PINC encourages member states to make new investments in nuclear power if they choose this energy option as a way to secure energy supply, competitive energy prices and fight climate change : “ A significant number of NPPs are indeed due to close down within the next 20 years. Construction of new plants and/or extension of the current operating lifetimes of existing reactors will be required if the Member States choose to maintain the current share of nuclear power in the overall energy mix.” Although it is up to every Member State to choose whether it want to use nuclear energy, individual national decisions “can have an impact on other States in terms of trade flows of electricity, the EU's overall dependence on imported fossil fuels and CO2 emissions but also on competitiveness and the environment.”

As part of the process of developing the Action Plan, continued stakeholder consultation is essential and, with this in mind, Members of the European Parliament and the nuclear industry have suggested to the EC the establishment of a European Nuclear Forum along the same lines as the Florence, Madrid and Berlin fora that were established for electricity, gas and oil respectively.


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