Nuclear roadmap to steer away from gas

22 January 2009

Calls for a "roadmap for nuclear investments" in Europe have come in the wake of the gas crisis, while top politicians are left aghast at the behaviour of some of the actors in the Gas War.


Barroso talking to the press


José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, made some bold comments to reporters in the aftermath of the gas crisis.


According to a report in EUObserver, Barroso said: "I have been very disappointed in these past few days by the way the leadership in those countries negotiates," referring to officials in Kiev and Moscow at the centre of the Gas War.


"I've been involved in mediation processes since I was young, including in African matters. It's the first time I saw agreements that were systematically not respected."


"Gas coming from Russia is not secure. Gas coming through Ukraine is not secure. This is an objective fact."

The European Commission's Industry Committee made recommendations on its own initiative for discussion as part of the bloc's strategic energy review, due for debate in March.


The recommendations come from a report drawn up by France's Anne Laperrouze. They include a call to revise the 2004 Security of Gas Supply directive to include "mandatory and effective national and EU emergency action plans." This would mean a common definition of an energy emergency, coordinated allocation and dispatching of gas reserves and the activation of emergency measures in unaffected states so that supplies could reach the more affected ones.


In the recent crisis, supplies to some countries were completely cut off while Ukraine and Russia argued about pricing. Bulgaria and Slovakia began to consider restarting nuclear power reactors shut down as part of their accession agreements. Bulgarian officials are still planning to do this, using a clause in their agreement allowing it in the case of an energy emergency.


The need for a new agreement with Russia was also highlighted, including a replacement of the 1997 partnership and cooperation agreement.


The ministers said that gas storage with fast-release capacity should be linked to a continent-wide gas network, linking up all 27 member states. And interconnectors need to be completed from central and south-eastern Europe along a north-south axis.


In this context, "the committee considers it important to maintain nuclear energy in the EU's energy mix." The Commission should draw up a "specific roadmap for nuclear investments."


This call came with a request that nuclear energy be used "at the highest technologically possible level of safety" and that this standard should be adopted in countries neighbouring the EU as well.


The report also took the opportunity to request 60-80% cuts in annual greenhouse gas emissions, the use of renewables to provide 60% of consumed energy and a 35% improvement in energy efficiency.


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