EnergyEurope Plans to Revive Nuclear Energy

Europe Plans to Revive Nuclear Energy

At a summit in Brussels on Thursday, leaders of pro-nuclear European nations and energy specialists urged a resurgence of nuclear energy to revive the sector after years of steady decline. The political drive to meet Europe’s aggressive climate targets includes the push to increase the use of nuclear power, a low-carbon energy source. However, it has to contend with obstacles including low investment, cost overruns, and delays that have dogged other projects lately.

“We have no chance to reach our climate targets on time without the support of nuclear power,” Fatih Birol, the chairman of the International Energy Agency (IEA), told reporters before the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels.

After Japan’s Fukushima nuclear tragedy in 2011, which forced Germany to shut down six nuclear plants immediately and phase out its remaining reactors, nuclear fell out of favour in Europe due to safety concerns. In April 2023, the final three were shut down.

However, with Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the EU’s pledge to cut net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, there is a revived interest in nuclear power due to the necessity to find alternatives to Russian gas.

Nonetheless, there is still disagreement among EU nations over whether to support nuclear energy. France leads one group that thinks nuclear growth is essential, while anti-nuclear nations like Austria and Germany prefer to keep the emphasis on renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, stated that Europe needs to stop becoming “a hostage of ideological approaches”.

In a united declaration, nations pledged “to work to fully unlock the potential of nuclear energy by taking measures such as enabling conditions to support and competitively finance the lifetime extension of existing nuclear reactors”.

Along with maintaining the highest standards of safety and security, the declaration pledges to build new nuclear power plants and to deploy innovative reactors—including compact modular reactors—as soon as possible throughout the world.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the UN atomic agency IAEA, stated that funding was a crucial concern and that nuclear programs should be given the same consideration as other energy-related initiatives.
“We still have an international and institutional architecture that forbids financing of nuclear projects,” he stated.
Since the COP 28 climate summit, the majority of nations have agreed that nuclear power is a part of the answer, according to Grossi, who told the conference. This should assist obtain funding.

“Many decisions of financial institutions depend on governments wanting something or not opposing it,” he stated.
Alexander De Croo, the prime minister of Belgium, proposed financing additional reactors through the European Investment Bank.

“Private funding is not lacking. On the contrary, he stated, “What’s lacking are the ideal conditions to initiate private funding, and a multilateral bank ought to serve as a lever to increase investment.

In response to a query, De Croo added that, while maintaining current operations, the supply chains of the European nuclear industry required to break their ties with Russia as soon as feasible.

To supply and maintain their reactors, several European nations rely on Russian technology and uranium.

The US is also trying to bring nuclear power back.
John Podesta, the U.S. President’s senior advisor for renewable energy, told reporters, “We’re supporting the French initiative to encourage the World Bank and other development banks to eliminate the restriction on funding nuclear.”

He continued by saying that Congress had recently approved $2.7 billion to resume an enrichment program, specifically for advanced fuels like high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), which is enriched uranium that is primarily used in research reactors and the production of medical isotopes, according to the World Nuclear Association.

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